Celtics

Source: C's interested in Mayo for Bass; no deal imminent

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Source: C's interested in Mayo for Bass; no deal imminent

BOSTON The Boston Celtics came close to trading for Memphis' O.J. Mayo just before March's trading deadline, and it appears their interest remains just as strong now.

A league source said the C's continue to be enamored with the 6-foot-5 shooting guard, and are considering making another run at him.

The source said no deal is imminent, but it appears the Celtics are willing to offer up Brandon Bass via a sign and trade.

Bass, who opted out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, would have to agree to such a deal.

While he indicated that his first preference is to return to Boston with a multi-year deal, he will be looking for a significant bump in salary from the 4.25 million he made this past season.

It was initially believed that Bass would be seeking a similar deal to former Celtic Glen Davis' four-year, 26 million contract.

However, if he were seeking a deal worth significantly more than that, the C's might want to take a pass on him and instead focus that money more on Jeff Green who is one of the team's top free agent targets.

While the trading away of Bass might seem a bit lopsided at first, consider this.

By moving him for Mayo, the C's address the need for a scoring guard who can compliment Rajon Rondo's playmaking and Avery Bradley's prowess as a defender.

In addition, it frees up the Celtics to focus on adding a big man with one of their first round picks.

Although C's president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said that he has not made any promises to draft any particular player, Royce White - rumored to have received a promise from Ainge - may be on the board and too attractive a player for the C's to pass on.

Kyrie Irving: Sitting out with shoulder injury 'just precautionary'

Kyrie Irving: Sitting out with shoulder injury 'just precautionary'

BOSTON – Kyrie Irving has long since understood the balancing act he must walk between embracing the moment while being mindful of the big picture. 

That’s why the decision to sit out Boston’s 89-80 loss to Philadelphia was one that, while certainly didn’t do Boston any favors against the Sixers on Thursday, it does provide him some much-needed downtime to rest his sore left shoulder.

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from C's-Sixers

The good news is that tests taken on the shoulder show no structural damage. And with the way the schedule is shaping up now, Irving will have plenty of time to rest and be ready to play when the Celtics return to the floor on Sunday to host the Orlando Magic. 

“Just precautionary stuff, making sure everything's alright from a strength perspective,” was how Irving described the injury. “Obviously a few days will put me where I need to be. And we'll just see what goes on for Sunday's game, but you know it's nothing too crazy, just giving me a little discomfort over the last few weeks and I've just been playing through it doing what's best in terms of preparing best for every single game. I thought it was best just to get a few tests and make sure everything's alright so, everything's cool.”

Irving said the tests came back negative which is a huge positive for the Celtics and Irving who was selected as an NBA all-star starter for next month’s game. 

As far as how it happened, Irving said there was no specific event or play in which he suffered a blow to the shoulder or anything like that. 

“Gradual soreness” is how Irving described the injury.  “You know, kinda going into my shot, driving left, just not feeling as confident as I would like to be and just thought it would be best just to take a day or two to get it evaluated, meet with our medical staff, meet with our strength conditioning coach and strengthen it up and then hopefully go on Sunday.”

The Celtics (34-12) have now lost two of the three games they played this season without Irving. It is a small sample size, but there’s no denying the impact that a healthy Irving has on this roster when it comes to impacting winning. 

“First off, I just had to make sure some of the major parts of my shoulder just weren't damaged,” said Irving who added, “And then at this point it's just a strength program and doing what's best with that.” 

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Celtics score season-low 80 points in loss to Sixers

Celtics score season-low 80 points in loss to Sixers

BOSTON – Coaches and players talk all the time about the importance of playing with great energy and effort defensively. 

But what about on offense?

When it’s not there, you get games like the one we saw on Thursday night as Philadelphia held off a late surge by Boston to defeat the Celtics 89-80.

Now the knee-jerk reaction is to praise Philadelphia for playing a great game defensively. 

And to their credit, they did a lot of good things defensively.

But many of Boston’s struggles offensively were of the self-inflicted wound variety. 

“I just didn’t think we played hard enough on offense,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens who prefaced his statement by praising the Sixers as being a good team defensively. “We played hard on defense. And it’s, I guess, a unique game when you’re playing hard on one end of the floor but not on the other.

Stevens added, “we were very sloppy (offensively), over-dribbled, dribbled didn’t take us anywhere, not moving the ball, not getting to spots.”

Celtics guard Marcus Smart, filling in for Irving, had similar thoughts on how the Celtics played against the Sixers (21-20). 

“We need to play harder on both ends,” Smart said. “We were leaving guys on islands and forcing everybody to fend for themselves. On the offensive end we got real stagnant, trying to find it. Instead of being basketball players we became robots.”

Robots void of any plan or script on how to compete effectively at both ends of the floor. 

Said Smart: “We just acted like we didn’t know what we were doing out there.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 89-80 loss to Philadelphia. 

 

STAR

Joel Embiid: Not long after Thursday night’s announcement that he was being named a starter in next month’s All-star game, Embiid went out and played like one. He was as dominant as we’ve ever seen him against the Celtics, tallying a double-double of 26 points and 16 rebounds to go with six assists and two blocked shots. 

 

STUDS

Jaylen Brown: It wasn’t until the fourth quarter did Brown and the Celtics, start to play with a sense of urgency. Brown had 12 points for the game, six of which came in the fourth quarter. 

Shane Larkin: There were more minutes than usual for Larkin to take, and for the most part he made the most of his opportunity. Larkin’s energy was one of the keys to Boston rallying back into the game in the second half, as he finished with eight points on 3-for-6 shooting with two steals in 23 minutes with only Marcus Morris (27 minutes) seeing more action off the Celtics’ bench.

Marcus Morris: On a night when the Celtics needed someone to step their game up offensively with Kyrie Irving out, Morris came closer than any other Celtic to doing that. He had 14 points on 4-for-9 shooting. But just as important was Morris driving to the basket and being rewarded with free throw attempts – the kind of thing that Irving does when on the floor. The scoring, getting to the line four times in addition to grabbing six rebounds, were all important factors in Boston getting within striking distance in the fourth quarter. 

 

DUDS

Celtics offense: Using Kyrie Irving being out with a sore left shoulder is too convenient an excuse for the struggles Boston had offensively. Boston didn’t take care of the ball (19 turnovers), didn’t play with force at both ends of the floor were bigger factors. But the biggest factor of them all was Philadelphia’s defense which played at a consistently high level most of the night.

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