Asked if he would consider playing for the Celtics again, the team’s former captain Paul Pierce said, “Yeah, why not? Maybe play for them. Maybe work for them. Who knows what the future holds?”

Asked if he would consider playing for the Celtics again, the team’s former captain Paul Pierce said, “Yeah, why not? Maybe play for them. Maybe work for them. Who knows what the future holds?”

Pierce, who scored 10 points in a 91-84 loss to the C’s on Friday night, has told reporters all season he would like to join the team’s front office when his playing career is over, but this is the first time since joining the Nets he has mentioned potentially playing for his former team again. Pierce is in the final year of his contract with the Nets.

Meanwhile, Pierce had plenty to say about current Celtics captain, even joking about the media firestorm that raged after Rajon Rondo stayed in Los Angeles for his birthday while the C’s played on his off day in Sacramento.

“Me and Rondo share a special bond. We’ll always be friends. We’ll always have something in common with our championship. Our kids still hang out together. They hung out for his birthday actually.” Pierce paused for laughter. “I respect him and what he’s doing moving forward with this franchise, and it will always be that way.”

After watching Rondo surpass his career-high in 3-pointers for a season with three in the first quarter, Pierce complimented his former teammate on the added dimension to Rondo’s game.

“He’s unstoppable. I’ve always said, the more he improves, the more he expands his game, he’s one of the best. If he’s coming down and knocking down 3′s, it’s almost impossible to keep him out of the paint at times. The way he shoots that floater, the way he finds people in traffic, if he consistently knocks down that shot, watch out.”

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

There wasn’t nearly as much fanfare surrounding this Paul Pierce return to Boston, but the Celtics ended up on the winning side this time around, defeating Pierce’s Nets by a score of 91-84.

There wasn’t nearly as much fanfare surrounding this Paul Pierce return to Boston, but the Celtics ended up on the winning side this time around, defeating Pierce’s Nets by a score of 91-84.

Rajon Rondo led all scorers with 20 points, adding nine assists and seven rebounds, and the Celtics (21-41) recovered from Wednesday’s miserable loss to the Warriors to snap a two-game losing streak. Jeff Green (15 points), Kelly Olynyk (13 points) and Jerryd Bayless (14 points) also reached double figures.

The Nets (30-30) fell back to .500, as Pierce finished with 10 points.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Moto Rondo: Perhaps motivated by the presence of rival Deron Williams and old friend Paul Pierce in town, Rondo came to play. He connected on his first three 3-point attempts, setting a new personal standard for a season, and scored 13 first-quarter attempts. The triple-double watch began early, and the C’s led 26-20 after one.

Technical KO: After scoring a team-high 19 points against the Warriors (somebody had to), Olynyk said he felt like he was figuring out opposing NBA defenses — how different players defend the pick-and-roll, drive-and-kick, etc. — and it showed again Friday. Scoring from 3-point range, on the drive and in the post, he abused Mason Plumlee early, even if Plumlee isn’t exactly Kevin Garnett. Now, Olynyk only needs to figure out his own NBA defense, but he showed grit, slapping the ball out of Shaun Livingston‘s hands as he attempted a few post-whistle layups. Had he made the trip, Garnett would’ve respected that. If only he were in Boston to tutor Olynyk on that end.

3 party: In addition to Rondo’s trio of 3-pointers, undrafted rookie Chris Babb drained a couple and the Celtics connected six of their 13 attempts from long-distance before the break. (Like Chris Johnson before him, Babb is earning well deserved playing time purely on effort.) But the bigger story was Brooklyn’s futility from beyond the arc. The Nets missed all 17 of their first-half attempts and naturally trailed 53-41 heading into the locker room.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Ja-red alert: Doesn’t it seem like Jared Sullinger should be starting for these Celtics? After all, he’s arguably the second-best player on the roster. But he’s coming off the bench, and maybe it’s time to start wondering why. Whether it’s his hand, conditioning or another factor, Sullinger doesn’t look like the same player who averaged 19.8 points and 12.8 rebounds from Jan. 29 to Feb. 10. Sullinger fouled out with five points and 12 rebounds.

Big Apple turnovers: Considering the Nets shot 34 percent in the first half, it’s a wonder they only trailed by a dozen at the break. But they managed to hang around all night by winning the turnover battle. Olynyk and Rondo were the worst offenders for the Celtics.

Turd quarter: After winning the first two frames by six apiece and stretching the lead to 18 early in the third, the Celtics fell apart. With a lineup of Marcus Thornton, Shaun Livingston, Joe Johnson, Anrdrei Kirilenko and Andray Blatche on the floor, the Nets rattled off a 22-6 run to slash the C’s advantage to 70-68 with 14 minutes left.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Wednesday night represented the lowest point of the Celtics‘€™ frustrating season. A 20-point home loss to the Warriors ‘€“and it wasn’€™t even as close as it sounds.

Jabari Parker could be slipping right to the Celtics. (AP)

Jabari Parker could be slipping right to the Celtics. (AP)

When lottery day arrives, this could be the loss Celtics fans look back on as the straw that broke the camel’€™s back. Losses aside, when you think of this struggling Celtics squad, you still think of a team that plays hard. Wednesday night that thought disappeared.

‘€œI didn’€™t think our energy was an A-plus,’€ coach Brad Stevens stated postgame, ‘€œlet’€™s just put it that way.’€

We have seen all season long that no matter what, Stevens’€™ team plays hard ‘€“ but not anymore. Lack of effort will make for horrible basketball to watch over the final 21 games, but it will yield a fantastic draft pick at the end of the not-so pretty rainbow.

Boston still holds the fourth-highest lottery odds, sandwiched between the Magic (third) and Lakers (fifth). The Lakers saw the Celtics lay an egg and came out Thursday night determined to one-up them — by suffering the most lopsided loss in franchise history. The Lakers fell to the Clippers, 142-94, and it seemed like Blake Griffin and company finished off every possession with a dunk. I turned it off at 104-56 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter — it got that bad. Orlando, on the other hand, has only one less win than Boston, so the third spot in the lottery is not out of the question.

What would finishing as the third-worst team in the NBA mean? It would give Boston a 96 percent chance at a top-five pick and a 47 percent chance at selecting in the top three. The worst result would be the sixth pick, and that would only have a 4 percent chance of happening.

We have been under the impression that owning a top-three pick is an absolute must in order to obtain one of the top-tier prospects expected to enter the draft. There are very intriguing players to be had throughout the entire lottery, but Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker seem to have separated themselves from the pack. However, Chad Ford‘€™s most recent mock draft for ESPN insider had a new view of the draft. Embiid and Wiggins hold down the two top picks, but Parker is not in the third spot. Ford has the Magic using their pick on Dante Exum, who is said to be climbing draft boards (by working out in a gym in Australia). This leaves the C’€™s selecting Parker in the No. 4 spot, and making out like bandits.

 

I had the Celtics using the fifth pick on Exum in my mock draft last week, but there are two things that I do not understand about Ford’€™s most recent mock. Firstly, Exum has always been a projected top-five pick, but how has he climbed all the way to third by doing nothing? The Magic really want to use their top pick on a wing, yet Ford believes they are very high on Exum. But more importantly, why is the best player in this draft dropping to fourth? I’€™m still waiting for a good answer on this one, but Celtics fans will gladly take it.

Parker would not only be a perfect fit in Boston, but he is an immediate upgrade over Jeff Green at small forward. Parker is clearly one of the most skilled prospects in recent years, but unlike the other projected top picks who are hyped on potential, Parker is NBA-ready right now. He is the complete package on the court, his game is just as smooth on the perimeter as it is in the paint, and standing 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds doesn’€™t hurt, either.

However, Parker is just as good a person as he is a basketball player. His parents both push him to be great but encourage him to remain humble. After one of Parker’€™s better high school games for Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, the press was waiting for him to leave the locker room to give interviews. Parker never appeared. He had returned to the gym to sit with the junior varsity team and cheer on those players while passing out water. Keep in mind that he was the top prospect in the country at the time. That’€™s the type of guy Jabari Parker is.

Parker remains the top player on my big board, even though I have Embiid going with the top pick. There’€™s a difference. If I had to pick next season’€™s Rookie of the Year, I would pick Parker. If I had to pick the first 2014 draft pick to become an All-Star, I would pick Parker. It is unjustifiable to allow Parker to slip to the fourth pick, but it sure makes things easy for Danny Ainge if Boston can land him in that spot.

By now I’€™m sure all of you have seen what Parker is capable of on the court. Take a look at him off the court in one of his recent sit-downs with ESPN.

Parker also was featured on ‘€œGood Morning America’€ while in high school, and he discussed his Mormon faith (Ainge is Mormon as well — just another reason Parker is such a perfect fit with the C’€™s). It’€™s an old interview but a good look at how grounded he is, and it shows the good family he comes from.

It’€™s impossible not to like Parker as a young man, he will surely find success at a high level in the NBA. Not to say that Wiggins and Embiid will not, but Parker is a sure thing.

Shifting the focus over to the Kansas duo, Embiid, who has been banged up recently, has been shut down for at least the remainder of the regular season. Embiid sat out Wednesday night against Texas Tech and will miss at least one more game to rest his back. The big man’€™s status for the Big 12 tournament in up in the air, but he is considered a sure thing to play come March Madness.

Wiggins has remained consistent of late, but his numbers are merely acceptable, whereas Parker’€™s stats really go above and beyond to show what type of player he is. Wiggins scored 15 points in last Saturday’€™s upset loss to Oklahoma State, then ended his double-figures streak on Wednesday with nine points, although he only played 23 minutes in a blowout win.

Not much movement to report this week on the draft board in terms of quantity, but the potential fall of Parker, from No. 3 to No. 4, right into Boston’€™s lap, is a story in itself. Keep an eye out for another mock draft from me next week, pending any big news that steals the story. But this week Parker has stolen the headlines in terms of NBA draft talk in Boston. Parker continues to play the best basketball in the country, yet slowly slide down draft boards. Don’€™t let it fool you, this kid is special.

Parker spoke Friday about the chances he will even enter the NBA draft after his freshman season. He has not changed his stance at all since the last time he discussed his future, maintaining the image that he very well could play his sophomore season at Duke if he thinks it will benefit him.

“If I feel like there are things I could improve on or things I left, like during the season, then I will probably come back,” Parker said. “A deciding factor is where I’€™m going to grow the most, whether it’€™s in the NBA or even in college, the learning experiences that I need as far as [growing as] a basketball player.”

If you are a Celtics fan, you now are also a Blue Devils fan this March. Both Parker and his team’€™s success could be the determining factor on whether or not we see the freshman standout in the NBA next season.

The closer the draft gets, it is scary that Parker is still talking about returning to Duke when he clearly knows how high his NBA value is. With Parker’€™s NBA-readiness, I believe going to the league now is indeed the best move for him to grow next season.

Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

Rajon Rondo gets a lot of flak, but this was an extremely cool move. The Celtics granted 12-year-old New Zealander Louis Corbett‘s wish of seeing his favorite team play before losing his eyesight to retinitis pigmentosa.

Corbett’s favorite player, Rondo, who greeted him before the game, made sure Celtics public relations director Heather Walker delivered his autographed game-worn sneakers to the young boy. The Corbetts posted video of his reaction on their Facebook page. Rondo being Rondo, he probably would have preferred nobody ever knew.

As Brad Stevens said after the C’s lost 108-88 to the Warriors, “It’s the way we should be. It’s the way the organization should be. We should give back to the community. I don’t know that we should necessarily be applauded for it. I think we should just do it, and stories like that are uplifting to all of us.”

(h/t Red’s Army)

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Kevin Garnett will not make the trip to Boston for Friday’s final home game between the Celtics and Nets, according to multiple reports out of Brooklyn.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN joins Mut and Lou to discuss the future of the struggling Celtics as well as the rocky relationship between Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens and Rajon Rondo

How will Brad Stevens handle the rest of this Celtics season?PREGAME



BEN ROHRBACH

BIO | ARCHIVE


As the Warriors’ lead ballooned to 30 by the end of the third quarter, Celtics fans grew restless at the Garden.