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Kevin McHale says Celtics’ Big 3 may not be done just yet

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The Celtics have a lot of questions heading into next season. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen will both enter free agency this summer, and the organization will have to decide if they think the core four of those two, along with Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, are solid enough to contend for one or two more seasons in the Eastern Conference.

While Danny Ainge may be open to the idea, most don’t think that Boston has enough, at least as currently constructed. Add in the fact that Brandon Bass and Mickael Pietrus played key roles in the Celtics’ run this season and are also free agents, and the team has some serious decisions to make.

With the stricter salary cap restrictions put into place in the new edition of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, conventional wisdom says to start to rebuild on the fly around Pierce and Rondo, instead of sinking further of the team’s cap space into aging veterans who might not have much left.

Nothing has been decided yet in Boston, however, and it’s entirely possible that the organization may indeed try for another run with what it’s got. That plan of action wouldn’t surprise former Celtics Hall-of-Famer and current Rockets head coach Kevin McHale who, speaking at adidas Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy on Monday, said that talk of the end of the Big Three era in Boston may be a little premature.

“Not done yet,” McHale said, when asked what he thought of the end of the current era in Boston. “They got to the Conference finals, we’ll see what happens. Those guys have got contracts that they’re going to have to get signed; it has yet to be determined what’s going to happen.  I would be surprised if they didn’t try to put the team together for another run for a year or two.

“If you get to the Conference finals, you’re one of the last four teams. So why would you blow up a team that’s better than 26 other teams in the NBA? I think they’re going to probably ride this out a little bit.”

The reason, of course, is that if it’s a championship you’re after, then what the Celtics have isn’t enough. This run was a nice surprise, but it’s unlikely that this current group will get as far next season. Derrick Rose’s injury took out the Bulls, the Pacers are young and only getting better, and the Heat are back in the Finals for the second straight season.

Boston ended up as one of the last four teams standing. But it’s a stretch to think the same level of success could be achieved again by bringing back essentially the same core group of players.

NBA: DeMarcus Cousins got away with (more important) travel before incorrect foul of Dwyane Wade

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The NBA acknowledged the attention-grabbing officiating error late in the Bulls’ win over the Kings on Saturday: DeMarcus Cousins shouldn’t have been called for fouling Dwyane Wade, who hit the go-ahead free throw with 14 seconds left.

But before Sacramento claims the referees cost it a win, the Last Two Minute Report reveals a more significant missed call that favored the Kings.

Cousins should have been called for travelling with 56.3 left as he drove for a basket, according to the league:

Cousins (SAC) moves his pivot foot. The official is looking for any illegal contact and does not pick up the pivot foot.

The non-call directly allowed Cousins to score two points. Wade made only one free throw.

The officiating errors in the final two minutes helped the Kings more than the Bulls.

(Sacramento center Kosta Koufos also got away with a shooting foul on Jimmy Butler with 37.8 seconds left, according to the league, but Robin Lopez tipped in Butler’s miss, anyway. The Bulls weren’t shorted any points on that possession.)

NBA: Marcus Smart wrongly called for huge foul late in Celtics’ loss to Trail Blazers

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The Trail Blazers beat the Celtics on Saturday in an overtime thriller. The game provided so much action, there was little objection when what would’ve been one of the most exciting plays was waived off.

But it should have counted.

With Boston down one one and 11 seconds left, Marcus Smart stripped Damian Lillard under Portland’s own basket and immediately hit a go-ahead layup. Except officials called a foul on Smart – in error, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Smart (BOS) makes clean contact with the ball.

Lillard went to the line and made both free throws, and Terry Rozier made a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, where the Trail Blazers emerged with a 127-123 win.

Portland still would’ve had a chance to answer, but with a correct call, Boston would have held the lead a much better chance of winning in regulation.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin out another 3-5 weeks after re-aggravating hamstring injury

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31:  Jeremy Lin #7 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles up court against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at Barclays Center on October 31, 2016 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Jeremy Lin has been in and out of the Nets’ lineup due to a lingering hamstring injury. He has already missed 31 games, including the last 11.

The point guard hoped to return around now, but that’s not happening.

Nets release:

The following statement has been released by Brooklyn Nets General Manager Sean Marks:

“During the course of his rehab, Jeremy re-aggravated his strained left hamstring and will be out approximately three to five weeks as he continues to work towards a full recovery.  We understand and appreciate Jeremy’s competitive desire to get back on the court with his teammates, however, we are going to be cautious with his rehab in order to ensure that he is at full strength once he returns.”

Of course, this improves the fortunes of the Celtics,who own the Nets’ 2017 first-round pick. Brooklyn, 9-34 and 4.5 games worse than anyone else in the NBA, appears even more certain to secure the No. 1 seed in the lottery.

The Nets have been bad with Lin this season and a little worse without him. With no first-rounder, the difference is negligible to them.

Isaiah Whitehead, Sean Kilpatrick and Spencer Dinwiddie will get more opportunities to develop. But Brooklyn is probably overburdening those young guards. Even with Lin, there was plenty of playing time available.

NBA: 76ers got away with violation before Robert Covington’s late 3-pointer against Trail Blazers

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Robert Covington hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the 76ers’ 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers on Friday, but that wasn’t Covington’s only triple as Philadelphia overcame a four-point deficit in the final 40 seconds. He also buried a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left.

The catch: That shot came after Philadelphia should have turned the ball over, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

Gerald Henderson missed a 3-pointer, and Dario Saric prevented the rebound from going out of bounds, saving the ball with a pass to Covington. Except Saric got away with stepping out of bounds with the ball with 42.1 seconds left, per the league:

Saric’s (PHI) left foot is out of bounds when he makes contact with the loose ball.

That would’ve given Portland the ball up four.

The 76ers overcome the odds to win this game. But a correct call might have produced too steep of a hill for Philadelphia to climb.