|10.22.14 at 2:16 pm ET|
In the NBA, the worst place to be is the middle of the pack. If you are not contending for a championship or tanking, in my mind, you are not relevant. Because of this, each week I will rank the top five and bottom five teams in the league. The rankings are based entirely on my own observations and opinions, so please feel free to call me names in the comments section.
Until I see otherwise, the defending champion Spurs are still the best team in the NBA. Coach Pop is already in midseason form, holding himself and a number of starters from even attending a preseason game against Phoenix. Suns owner Robert Sarver was so horrified by the gesture he felt it was necessary to take control of the team’s PA system and apologize to all fans in attendance.
In classic Popovich fashion, the coach responded by saying he was surprised “that he didn’t say it in a chicken suit.” See the King stay the King.
If the Spurs are still king, does that make LeBron James and the Cavs the queen? That jab was for Mikey Adams and the rest of the Celtics fans who refuse to acknowledge LeBron is the best basketball player in the world. Personally, my hatred of LeBron James has slowly transitioned into begrudging respect, as its impossible not to be impressed by his absurd physical talents and genius-like basketball IQ. I am genuinely excited to see LeBron catch 50-foot outlet passes from Kevin Love and play with a legitimate point guard for the first time in his career. While there are lingering questions about the team’s chemistry and defense, the East is the Cavaliers‘ to lose.
Tom Thibodeau and Joakim Noah will make sure the Bulls have an elite defense and Pau Gasol, Dougie McBuckets, and Nikola Mirotic were outstanding offseason additions, but yet again the Bulls season depends entirely on the health of Derrick Rose. If Rose is even 85 percent of what he was during his MVP season, Chicago will finish with the best record in the East. Let us not forget that.
I realize that including that song in my Bulls analysis is incredibly trite, but I did so in order to ask some more hard-hitting societal questions. Why was glam metal ever popular? Can anyone actually look at a picture of Poison or Bon Jovi from that era and provide a reasonable explanation as to why the general public embraced these bands? Was it the emergence of crack cocaine? Reaganomics? The inevitable end of the Cold War? I was born in 1990 and understand that there is a generational divide, but its incomprehensible that a bunch of white dudes with teased-up hair, elaborate blouses, and spandex pants were ever cool. (Why did I make it racial? Because Prince did all of those things and somehow was the epitome of cool.)
|10.22.14 at 12:34 pm ET|
Boston, he’s home.
Brian Scalabrine announced his homecoming in LeBron James-esque fashion in August, as the former Celtics power forward will handle the bulk of color commentary for Celtics road games this season for Comcast Sports New England.
“LeBron really set the template for me,” a smiling Scalabrine said. “But I put that letter together once I knew I was going back to Boston and I wasn’t coaching anymore.”
Scalabrine returned to Boston on Tuesday night for a welcome home party at Battery Park hosted by 2 Gingers Irish whiskey, and he sat down with WEEI.com to share his thoughts on why he’s no longer coaching, Rajon Rondo‘s future in green, and his memories playing with the NBA champion Celtics.
Although he was demoted last season from his job as a Warriors assistant coach after having a falling out with then-coach Mark Jackson, Scalabrine said he left coaching — despite having offers — to spend more time with his family, including three children under the age of 8.
“It’s better for me, right now in my life, to have a much better balance in my life with my family and basketball,” he explained. “It looked like leaving coaching was not my decision, but in reality, it was my decision to leave the Warriors.”
While Celtics fans will enjoy the opportunity to hear Scalabrine analyze games and banter with Mike Gorman during road trips, he said he did have opportunities to join an NBA staff this season, including that of new Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
“But I still have an opportunity to coach. I had an opportunity to work out players before the draft, and I worked out Marcus Smart, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid. This job is a great opportunity to be around the game without the grind of film and all the other major commitments.”
Scalabrine isn’t shy to admit the Celtics — as currently constituted — are a fringe playoff team. But he says they’re not as far away as some might think.
“The Celtics are one really good center away,” he said. “And I’m talking about a guy who can plug the lane or roll down the lane, get the ball from Rondo and rise up. This team has Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, two really good stretch 4’s that also rebound and defend their position. But if you add a 5 to the mix — a Steven Adams type or Omer Asik — this team goes from fighting to make the playoffs to a team fighting for home-court advantage.”
|10.20.14 at 12:42 pm ET|
The Celtics haven’t ruled out All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo for the Oct. 29 season opener against the Nets in Boston. C’s coach Brad Stevens told reporters before Monday’s practice that a scan of Rondo’s left metacarpal, which he broke at home late last month, showed enough positive signs to consider his early return a possibility.
Asked whether he expected to be back for the opener, Rondo simply told reporters, “I don’t know.”
While he hasn’t been cleared for contact, Rondo has been ably catching and dribbling with his left hand and running the offense in practice. An Oct. 29 return would come just less than five weeks after he suffered the injury and roughly 10 days ahead of the team’s original estimated timetable of 6-8 weeks.
Meanwhile, Celtics rookie James Young (hamstring) has been cleared for practice and is expected to be in uniform in Wednesday’s preseason finale against Brooklyn at TD Garden.
|10.19.14 at 5:36 pm ET|
With four more minutes, the Celtics may not have pulled out their fourth preseason victory in seven tries, but Jared Sullinger’s extraordinary effort helped the C’s stave off the Nets in the NBA’s experimental first 44-minute game.
Sullinger finished with 21 points and 19 rebounds in 29 minutes in the 95-90 win.
The Celtics trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half, but they outscored Brooklyn 33-14 in the 11-minute third quarter. Jeff Green scored 10 of his 14 points playing as a power forward in the frame.
Evan Turner had the worst performance of his brief Celtics career, shooting just 1-of-9 from the field while collecting just three points and one assist against three turnovers. Likewise, Kelly Olynyk had just four points on 2-of-7 shooting to go along with six rebounds.
While Brad Stevens started Turner at point guard, the Celtics coach swapped Smart in for the third quarter, pushing Turner to the wing. To start that 33-point third quarter after a 40-point first half, Avery Bradley at shooting guard, Green at the 4 and Sullinger at center.
Smart converted 3-of-8 attempts from 3-point range, making 4-of-11 field goals overall. As a team, the Celtics shot just 37.8 percent form the field, sinking just nine of their 29 3-point attempts.
Gerald Wallace returned from his bone bruise injury, but finished scoreless in just five minutes.
For the record, the NBA’s first 44-minute game lasted 1 hour, 58 minutes — finishing roughly a half-hour quicker than an average game.
|10.17.14 at 2:19 pm ET|
I think we can all agree the Celtics won’t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’s pieces in a series we’ll call Asset Management. Next up: Phil Pressey.
With the trade for Will Bynum completed, Phil Pressey is now the fifth-best point guard on the Celtics roster. Whether or not Bynum is long for Boston, the NBA sophomore’s minutes — and possibly his roster spot — are in serious trouble.
Since joining the Celtics as an undrafted junior out of Missouri last year, Pressey has remained in green longer than expected. The 23-year-old actually started at the point 11 times as a rookie and appeared in more games than everybody but Brandon Bass and Jeff Green in 2013-14. In July, The C’s guaranteed Pressey’s $816,482 contract this season after he collected 36-minute averages of 6.8 points, 7.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.2 steals in 75 appearances.
At 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, Pressey may never be a great scorer, particularly among the trees and especially if he can’t improve his outside shot. As a rookie, he ranked as a below average shooter from everywhere on the floor but the straightaway 3-pointer, where he still only made 7-of-21 attempts. Pressey shot 40.0 percent on 85 attempts in the paint, 25.8 on 62 tries from mid-range and 26.4 percent on 106 triples. Still, he proved a capable playmaker — submitting a 2.77 assist-to-turnover ratio that ranked among the league’s best backup point guards — and a willing defender.
|10.17.14 at 11:50 am ET|
The Celtics are finalizing a trade for veteran Pistons point guard Will Bynum in exchange for little used center Joel Anthony, a league source confirmed on Friday. ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg first reported the deal.
The swap of Anthony’s expiring $3.8 million contract for the final year of Bynum’s two-year, $5.7 million deal gives the Celtics an extra $900,000 of wiggle room below the NBA’s luxury tax level. According to Basketball Insiders salary cap-ologist Eric Pincus, the C’s are currently just $1.19 million under that line.
Bynum, 31, who averaged 8.7 points (50.2 TS%), 3.9 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 18.8 minutes off the bench in Detroit last season, has proven a more productive player than a 32-year-old Anthony, who averaged only 7.1 minutes in 21 appearances last season and has played just 30 minutes in this preseason.
Of course, the Celtics will still have 16 players under guaranteed contract — one more than the league maximum once the regular season begins later this month — and an already crowded field at point guard. Second-year floor general Phil Pressey is already finding it difficult to crack a rotation that will feature Rajon Rondo and Marcus Smart. Additionally, Evan Turner has started at point guard in Rondo’s absence each of the last two preseason games.
As a result, the Celtics will evaluate Bynum’s future in Boston over the next few days, according to the source.
|10.16.14 at 9:33 pm ET|
Nothing like a preseason game against the 76ers to feel good about the Celtics. In a collective effort, they raced to a double-digit lead in the first five minutes, and never looked back in a 111-91 victory over the tank-tastic Sixers.
The starting lineup of Evan Turner, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk obliterated Philadelphia, bringing the C’s (3-3) back to .500 in exhibiton. Turner contributed six points, five rebounds and 10 assists (albeit against eight turnovers). Bradley dropped 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. Green added 18, even if it took him 15 shots to get there. Sullinger collected 21 points (8-10 FG), eight rebounds and five assists. And Olynyk amassed 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks.
OTHER REASONS TO CARE AOBUT CELTICS-RAPTORS:
— Off the bench, Zeller followed up Wednesday’s impressive performance against the Raptors with 14 points and seven boards in 23 minutes.
— Marcus Smart’s shooting woes continued, as the rookie point guard finished scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting from distance in 28 minutes. He recorded six assists against four turnovers. As is his custom, though, Smart still managed to make an impact defensively, snatching three steals.
— Local products Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel did not play in the game, so, again, temper your excitement over a third 20-point victory of the Celtics preseason.