Winners and losers:

Celtics' Big Three focused on one last playoff run

The SportsXchange

It's not as if the Celtics need any additional motivation as they try to get past Philadelphia in the second round of the NBA playoffs, but for the team's most veteran players, it can be found on their calendars.

In what has been a recurring theme all year, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are aware this could be their last season together. Potential retirements and Celtics rebuilding could have them out of the league or scattered next year.

"We realized that from Day 1 of training camp," Pierce said before the Celts blew an 18-point lead and lost 92-83 to the 76ers in Game 4 of the series Friday night in Philadelphia. (With the series even at 2-2, Game 5 is Monday in Boston.) "I think pretty much the last couple of years we've been feeling like that.

"But the influence is to try to win another championship, regardless of whether this is going to be our last time together. We don't know what the future is going to hold for all of us, with KG in the last year of his contract, Ray in the last year of his contract. Trade speculations have been going on, and there's talk about rebuilding, so there is a sense of urgency with us."

Garnett is having his best postseason in years, but he can still see the bigger picture.

"The focus right now is the playoffs," he said. "I haven't given it that much thought, to be honest. We're definitely aware of it -- all of the things Paul alluded to and the possibilities. We've given it some type of thought, but right now it's the playoffs."

Allen knows even more the tenuous nature of things, having been mentioned heavily in trade talks the last three years. But he, too, would like to squeeze the most out of this run.

"You never know what can happen at the end of the season in different scenarios," he said. "I don't worry about it. I never focused on it -- even last year and the year before, when the same things were mentioned. Now we have an opportunity before us, and you can't worry about tomorrow because there's a lot happening in our present."

What's happening in the Celtics' present is a more difficult series. They had a golden opportunity Friday to make things easier and give themselves more time to rest before the next round, but now they must scrap to advance. But they still seem comfortable in that role.

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