Avery Bradley matched a career-high with 28 points on 12-of-19 shooting while making 4-of-9 3-point attempts, but his teammates shot just 36 percent from the floor and proved a non-factor on defense as the Nets — without Kevin Garnett — romped to an easy 114-98 victory. Brooklyn scored 64 first-half points and shot 56 percent in the game, with Joe Johnson leading the way with 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Paul Pierce poured in 14 points (6-of-10) in just 19 minutes.

For more from the game, click here.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Avery Bradley matched a career-high with 28 points on 12-of-19 shooting while making 4-of-9 3-point attempts, but his teammates shot just 36 percent from the floor and proved a non-factor on defense as the Nets — without Kevin Garnett — romped to an easy 114-98 victory.

Even extreme Celtics fans should have been rooting for a loss to the Heat.</p>
<div class=



KIRK MINIHANE

BIO | ARCHIVE


Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston discusses the Celtics win over the Heat, the future of the team, and the possibility of the NBA Draft Wheel

Finally, it’€™s time to watch some meaningful basketball, Celtics fans! Well, in the NCAA tournament, that is.

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

Jabari Parker is a known commodity, but there could be some less-heralded players who emerge in the NCAA tournament. (AP)

The C’€™s had an exciting win against the LeBron James-less Heat on Wednesday night. Sure, it was fun to see Rajon Rondo lead the charge against a quality team, but what does it really mean? This season is already lost, so what it means is a five-game losing streak has been halted, dropping Boston two spots to the sixth lottery spot. The win lowered the C’s current chance at a top-three pick by 16 percent. You never know how the season is going to end, but all signs point to a tight lottery race. Was the thrill of Wednesday worth it if the Celtics finish one win ahead of the Lakers?

Enter the beginning of March Madness, the greatest four-day stretch in sports.

We know that there will be ample buzzer-beaters and upsets, there always are. Brackets will be ripped to shreds (as mine always is), others will turn into lottery tickets (just not the kind Danny Ainge is chasing). No bets are safe come March Madness, but feel free to learn the hard way if you must. Nobody needs any extra incentive to enjoy the most entertaining tournament we have as sports fans. However, this year Celtics fans will have one extra reason to pay attention — draft picks.

Don’€™t forget that outside of Boston’€™s hyped first-rounder, Ainge also will own Brooklyn or Atlanta’€™s pick, which could end up being a player who breaks out in the tournament. We already know the talent players like Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and even Marcus Smart posses. A bad tournament will not lower their draft stock, but a breakout tournament could boost their NBA stock even higher. There is no clear cut No. 1 overall pick, but Celtics fans obviously would love to see any top-tier talent arrive in Boston.

The immediate franchise changers will be determined by the ping-pong balls, the hunt for the rest of the stars begins with the later picks. Once the premier talent is off the board, a lot of the next prospects to be taken in the draft are players that raised their stock in March. I didn’€™t even know who Kenneth Faried was until Morehead State upset Louisville in 2011. After watching him play one game, I had no doubt he was a lottery talent in that year’s draft. Kind of an extreme example, but March matters.

Who is 2014′€™s Faried? Can Ainge get his hands on him? And most importantly, can he develop a better nickname than ‘€œThe Manamal’€ in the NBA? Time will tell.

I know it takes patience, but this tournament also can carry meaning for drafts post-2014. Take Glen ‘€œBig Baby’€ Davis for example. Davis broke out in the 2006 NCAA tournament, taking LSU to the Final Four. Big Baby then returned to school and had a pretty quite season — he became an early second-round selection by Ainge. Davis was able to contribute right away in key spots on a championship team; don’€™t think Ainge didn’€™t watch that Final Four tape from the previous year.

The Celtics are loaded with multiple first-rounders in both 2015 and 2016, and own a plethora of second-round-picks in those drafts as well. The tourney should now have new meaning to Celtics fans. It is the breeding grounds for future stars at the next level.

So, glue your eyes to March Madness as you always do; it’€™s about time we enjoy some meaningful basketball in Boston. But this year, remember it may not only be meaningful to the teams in the tournament, but to Danny Ainge watching like us. I told you, March matters.

P.S., Final Four: Florida, Michigan State, Louisville and dark horse Oklahoma State. Lock it up. Or I will be tearing my bracket to shreds by the end of the weekend — one or the other.

You still have time to submit your bracket on WEEI.com for a chance to win $500! Get it in Thursday before noon.

Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

Will Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo remain teammates next season? (AP)



BEN ROHRBACH

BIO | ARCHIVE


Rajon Rondo scored just nine points, but he was the best player on the floor all night, taking over the fourth quarter in a 101-96 victory against the two-time defending NBA champion Heat. Of course, it didn’t hurt that LeBron James (back spasms) was relegated to the Miami bench, but still — this was Rondo’s night.

Rajon Rondo scored just nine points, but he was the best player on the floor all night, taking over the fourth quarter in a 101-96 victory against the two-time defending NBA champion Heat. Of course, it didn’t hurt that LeBron James (back spasms) was relegated to the Miami bench, but still — this was Rondo’s night.

The Celtics point guard finished one point shy of a triple-double (15 assists, 10 rebounds), ending a five-game losing streak. Avery Bradley‘s 23 points, including a career-high six 3-pointers, led the scoring effort, and four other Celtics reached double figures: Brandon Bass (18 points), Jared Sullinger (14 points), Jeff Green (13 points) and Kelly Olynyk (10 points). And the Celtics needed all of it from each of them.

The Celtics improved to 23-46, moving one win ahead of the Lakers and Suns for the NBA’s seventh-worst record.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Bradley’s back: After making just six of his 25 attempts from outside of 10 feet in his first three games back from an ankle injury, Bradley found the stroke that made him so successful early this season. The soon-to-be free agent knocked down three of his six first-half 3-point attempts and added a long jumper to enter the break with 11 points. In all, the C’s shot 50 percent (9-18) from distance over the first two quarters and stayed within 56-53 after two.

Charmed third: Working inside and out, Bradley and Brandon Bass shot a combined 8-of-8 from the field to score 21 of the C’s 27 third-quarter points. Rondo was on the feeding end of four of those buckets, finishing with six assists in the frame. As a result, the Celtics took an 80-78 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Bench press: The C’s bench situation isn’t pretty. It’s comprised of four guys who weren’t on the team to start the season, two rookies and another player with 45 NBA games under his belt entering the year. Yet, they received valuable contributions from three of those seven players, as Sullinger, Olynyk and Jerryd Bayless (7 points, 5 assists) combined for 28 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Worst first: The opening quarter couldn’t have gone much worse for the Celtics defense. While the NBA’s two-time defending MVP sat on the bench, the Heat still scored 34 points on 70 percent shooting to take a 12-point lead in the game’s initial 12 minutes. It wasn’t Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh who victimized the C’s, but Udonis Haslem. The Miami veteran scored 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the first quarter.

No LeBron: The Heat announced James would miss his first game in a month shortly before tipoff. It remains to be seen whether he’ll return Friday in Miami, but regardless of how they feel about him, Boston fans missed a player worth the price of admission. Perhaps a motivated Celtics team took it as a sign of disrespect, too.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Though Jerryd Bayless nearly inspired a single-handed fourth-quarter comeback, a pulseless performance from the rest of the Celtics starting five yielded a 94-89 loss to the Mavericks. Bayless — who led the Celtics with 19 points — scored nine straight points in a 2:01 stretch in the game’s final minutes, and the C’s got within a point at 90-89 with just 22 seconds remaining, but Dallas converted four free throws to put the game away.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 19 to lead the Mavericks past the Celtics. (AP)

Dirk Nowitzki scored 19 to lead the Mavericks past the Celtics. (AP)

Though Jerryd Bayless nearly inspired a single-handed fourth-quarter comeback, a pulseless performance from the rest of the Celtics starting five yielded a 94-89 loss to the Mavericks. Bayless — who led the Celtics with 19 points — scored nine straight points in a 2:01 stretch in the game’s final minutes, and the C’s got within a point at 90-89 with just 22 seconds remaining, but Dallas converted four free throws to put the game away.

Despite the late outburst by Bayless, the Celtics’ starting five put together a brutal performance. The quintet of Bayless, Avery Bradley (11 points), Kris Humphries (5 points), Brandon Bass (5 points) and Jeff Green (5 points) amassed a combined 45 points on 17-of-55 (31 percent) from the floor, with Green (2-of-12) struggling through a particularly dismal performance. The poor shooting offset a solid night for the Celtics bench (led by Kelly Olynyk, who scored 16 and grabbed nine boards, and Jared Sullinger, who scored 13 with nine reboundes) and a dominant night on the glass (Boston outrebounded Dallas, 57-36).

The Mavericks were led by Dirk Nowitzki‘s 19 points and 10 point on a perfect 5-of-5 off the bench by Brandan Wright.

For more from the game, click here.

Blog Author: 
WEEI