Paul Pierce may have finished his career with the Nets, Wizards, and Clippers, but he’ll always be a member of the Celtics.

On Tuesday, the recently retired future Hall of Famer took to Twitter after the Celtics won the NBA draft lottery for the first time and earned the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

Pierce is referring, of course, to the masterful trade that sent him to the Nets, along with Kevin Garnett, for four No. 1 picks in 2013. Pierce has ridden off into the sunset, but the Celtics continue to reap the benefits of that deal.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase
http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/basketball/celtics/john-tomase/2017/05/16/4-reasons-celtics-cant-lose-lottery-are-name

Washington guard Markelle Fultz (left) and UCLA counterpart Lonzo Ball (right) are considered the two best prospects in the NBA draft. (Jennifer Buchanan/USA Today Sports)

Washington guard Markelle Fultz (left) and UCLA counterpart Lonzo Ball (right) are considered the two best prospects in the NBA draft. (Jennifer Buchanan/USA Today Sports)

The ping pong balls finally smiled on the Celtics.

Snakebitten in previous trips to the NBA lottery, the Celtics on Tuesday finally cashed in some major luck when they claimed the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft on Tuesday night.

This is the first time in the modern draft era that the Celtics have earned the No. 1 pick.

“This is pretty good,” Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck told ESPN. “It’s a good time to be a Celtics fan.”

The C’s entered Tuesday night’s lottery as the team with the best chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick via their trade with Brooklyn, and they cashed in. The C’s have never moved up in the lottery, but there was no possibility of that this year, since the best they could hope for was remaining steady at No. 1.

The Celtics entered the lottery with a 25 percent chance of picking first and a 46.5 percent chance of choosing in the top two. They could pick no worse than fourth, thanks to a trade that allows them to swap draft positions with the Brooklyn Nets, who finished with the worst record in the NBA.

This is considered a deep draft with no shortage of talented players in the top five or six positions. The consensus No. 1 pick is Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, an explosive 6-foot-4 scorer and floor general with the most complete game in the draft.

Beyond Fultz, there’s UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, who might be the best pure passer to enter the NBA since Jason Kidd left Cal nearly 25 years ago. Beyond those two are forwards Josh Jackson of Kansas and Jayson Tatum of Duke. (For more on this quintet, click here.) Kentucky guards De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk are also expected to go in the top 10.

What this means for the Celtics is they now know what options they have this summer. One option is to sign a free agent like Utah’s Gordon Hayward to a max contract and then augment that acquisition with a young piece in the draft such as Fultz.

The other is to push their chips to the center of the table and attempt to trade the pick for a player like Chicago’s Jimmy Butler or Indiana’s Paul George, thereby accelerating the rebuilding process.

What’s clear is the C’s have options, and that’s never a bad place to be.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

The Celtics dropped three of four regular season games against the Cavaliers this season. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

The Celtics dropped three of four regular season games against the Cavaliers this season. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

WALTHAM — The Celtics may have been the No. 1 seed in the East by way of a 53-win regular season, but absolutely nobody is giving them a shot against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. 

But that’s business as usual for this club. 

“We’ve been counted out since I’ve been here,” Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, averaging 25.4 points per game this spring (the ninth-most among playoff scorers), said on Tuesday. “It’s nothing new.”

“Did you hear anybody pick us to win last series, either?” Celtics forward Jae Crowder said when asked about the club’s slim chances against the defending champions. “What about the one before that?”

There’s no sense in trying to deny that the Celtics have toppled some obstacles to get to this point. They dropped the opening two games of their first-round series against the Bulls, and looked straight-up terrible along the way. But they rebounded with four straight victories. They then engaged in a home-winning, six-game war with the Wizards, and even though they dropped Game 6 in deflating fashion, the Celtics responded with one of their best team efforts of the entire postseason with Monday’s 115-105 win. 

It’s been their best and only response needed to answer the critics that have clearly stayed in their heads throughout this run. 

“I think [there’s] enough people out there who were against us in both series,” Crowder, fourth among Celtics with 13.2 points per contest in the playoffs, continued. “I think it was out there that we weren’t supposed to get to where we are right now.”

Hardly removed from their Game 7 victory over the Wizards, and set for the start of the third round against James’ Cavaliers beginning tomorrow night at TD Garden, the Celtics aren’t focused on everything happening outside of their room. This next task — usurping the reigning champs and tilting the balance of power in the East, which has been won by a James-led team for six straight seasons — is too tall for them to be solely focused on what every fan or pundit is saying about them. 

“It helps a little bit, but at the same time, we’re so focused on what’s going on in this group of guys we have,” Thomas said of motivation that comes with the doubt thrown their way. “We’re not really focused on the outside noise and what people think we’re going to do. The first couple rounds, they didn’t think we were going to get past that. So we’re not really worried about what others are thinking. We’re just going to take care of business as we go.”

But while they say that, don’t kid yourself: Manufacturing disrespect into on-court production is what this team has done all year. And they’ll need it to be the biggest chip on their shoulder to date if they’re going to beat the Cavaliers for the East’s crown.

“Everybody in our locker room welcomes [motivation] with open arms,” Crowder said. “It’s part of what we’re about.”

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Lebron James would not comment on Kelly Olynyk. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

LeBron James would not comment on Kelly Olynyk. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The headlines have found Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk this spring. 

The latest one came after No. 41 helped push the Celtics to their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2012 behind a 26-point Game 7 effort in Boston’s 115-105 victory over the Wizards on Monday night, but it was far from the first. Olynyk first made headlines for his altercation with Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. in Game 3, and was then called a ‘dirty player’ by the Warriors’ Draymond Green, who also added that he doesn’t respect him.

That latter story has naturally jumped back into frame for the third round, too, as Olynyk will go against Cleveland’s Kevin Love in playoff action for the first time since Olynyk injured Love’s shoulder in the first round of the last Celtics-Cavaliers series, back in 2015. 

But the Cavaliers aren’t expecting a sequel of Olynyk’s arm-tearing endeavors, nor are they taking the bait on questions about him.

“I’m not about storylines,” James said when asked if Olynyk is a dirty player.

“We just come to play basketball. You guys are trying to create storylines. I’m not for it.”

The Olynyk questions come just two days after Zaza Pachulia injured San Antonio star Kawhi Leonard on a closeout, and one day after Spurs coach Gregg Popovich ripped Pachulia to shreds and by all means labeled him as a dirty player. So, could the aforementioned Olynyk-Love history, the tensions between these teams, and stakes on the line for these two teams — who have now met in the postseason four times during the LeBron era — lead to a Popovich-esque explosion in this series?

“I’m just happy to be here,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, whose team is a perfect 8-0 through two rounds, said. 

“The only storyline is Celtics vs. Cavs and who is going to win this series,” James concluded. 

Olynyk averaged eight points, 2.3 rebounds, and 15:43 minutes in three games against the Cavs this season, while the Celtics as a team dropped three of four head-to-heads with the Cavs this year, including a 114-91 beatdown at TD Garden on Apr. 5. 

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

It looks like Boston is buying into the Celtics. 

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 29 points Monday. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 29 points Monday. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

It looks like Boston is buying into the Celtics. 

According to Turner Sports, Game 7 between the Celtics and Wizards was the highest-rated TNT game ever in Boston, drawing a massive 18.1 number. The contest drew a 5.4 overnight rating for the network, the best for a non-conference finals game since 2012. 

The extraordinary viewership for Monday’s contest is a testament to the drama of the series and the apparent affinity Celtics fans feel for their team. There was a lot of animosity between Boston and Washington, which climaxed when members of the Celtics wore black prior to their Game 6 showdown in Washington –– copying a gimmick the Wizards used in the regular season. Game 7 came down to the wire, too, with the Celtics pulling away after massive fourth quarters from Isaiah Thomas and Kelly Olynyk. 

Though it’s unlikely the Celtics will push the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, they’ve now won two playoff series for the first time since 2012. With the draft lottery Tuesday, this has a chance to be a banner week for the franchise. People are paying attention. 

Blog Author: 
Alex Reimer

Markelle Fultz (left) and Lonzo Ball (right) would look good in Celtics green.</p>
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The NBA Draft Lottery takes place Tuesday night and the odds are in the Celtics’ favor to earn the No. 1 pick. But what if they fall to the No. 4 pick?

ESPN basketball insider Jeff Goodman, who may be the foremost authority when it comes to analyzing the draft prospects, believes it wouldn’t be a huge deal.

Markelle Fultz (James Snook/USA Today Sports)

Markelle Fultz (James Snook/USA Today Sports)

The NBA Draft Lottery takes place Tuesday night and the odds are in the Celtics’ favor to earn the No. 1 pick. But what if they fall to the No. 4 pick?

ESPN basketball insider Jeff Goodman, who may be the foremost authority when it comes to analyzing the draft prospects, believes it wouldn’t be a huge deal.

The difference is “not a big as people think,” Goodman said.

He believes the top four picks are Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum.

“There’s not a huge disparity [between the four players],” Goodman said. “Most people think there’s a little gap after the top two, but not really. Danny Ainge is going to take who he thinks is going to be an NBA superstar.”

Should the Celtics get the first pick, they are expected to take Fultz, a freshman out of Washington. Lonzo Ball, a freshman from UCLA is expected to go second followed by freshman De’Aaron Fox out of Kentucky and Kansas freshman Jackson. (For an in-depth look at the candidates, click here.)

The Celtics have a 25 percent chance of claiming the top pick in the draft when the lottery is held Tuesday night, with the odds dropping to 21.5 percent for the second pick and 17.8 percent for the third.

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Blog Author: 
Lucy Burdge