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Celtics wrap up season of new beginnings; NBA playoffs begin Saturday

The Boston Celtics (25-57) finished their first season in the post Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett era with a home loss on Wednesday against the playoff-bound Washington Wizards. Pierce and Garnett will also be playing in the post season when their No. 6 Brooklyn Nets (44-38) play the No. 3 Toronto Raptors (48-34) in a first-round matchup.

Boston ended in fourth place in the five-team Atlantic Division, trailing Toronto, Brooklyn and New York (37-45). Each of the three division winners in the 15-team Eastern Conference, followed by the next five best teams by record, qualified for the playoffs.

The Celtics under first-year head coach Brad Stevens did not make the playoffs, but they did make progress. Point guard Rajon Rondo returned from last year's season-ending injury to finish second among all NBA players with 9.8 assists per game. Rondo had a career best 26 three-pointers (in just 30 games), besting his previous high of 17. Of concern, though, is that since playing 81 games in 2009-10, Rondo's number of games played has dropped every year from 68 to 53 to 38 to 30.

Six of Boston's players averaged double figures in scoring led by forward Jeff Green (16.9), guard Avery Bradley (14.9), forward Jared Sullinger (13.3), Rondo (11.7), forward Brandon Bass (11.1) and guard Jerryd Bayless (10.1)

Sullinger, the youngest Celtic at age 21, led the team in rebounding at 8.1 per game (30th in the league). The 6-foot, 9-inch second year player shot a solid 77.8 percent from the foul line. Sullinger, who left Ohio State after his sophomore year, was the 21st pick overall in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft.

Rookie forward Kelly Olynk was another bright spot. NBA.com's Rookie Ladder (http://www.nba.com/rookie-ladder/) rates the Canada native eighth of all first year players. Olynyk's accurate shooting (three-pointers: 35.1 percent, free throws: 81.1 percent) helped him average 8.7 points per game (sixth among rookies), and his 5.2 rebounds per game (in just 20 minutes per game) was second. The 7-foot Gonzaga product was the 13th pick of the 2013 NBA draft.

NOTE: On the baseball front, Thursday's Portland Sea Dogs game against the New Britain Rock Cats scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at New Britain Stadium was postponed due to unplayable field conditions, the team reported. The game will be made-up as a doubleheader on Friday, April 18 at 5:35 p.m., Sea Dogs reported.

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