|04.10.13 at 9:43 pm ET|
The Nets ran the Celtics out of their own building, 101-94, but the Bucks bailed them out by losing in overtime to the lowly Magic. The C’s own a three-game advantage on Milwaukee with four games to play. Here’s what went wrong against the Nets, a tough matchup for the Celtics should they meet in the second round.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Worst first: In the opening quarter, the Nets committed three times as many turnovers (6) as they had assists (2). The Celtics held Brooklyn to 7-of-19 shooting, including an 0-for-3 frame from Williams. And somehow the C’s trailed 22-21 after one. The fact that everyone not named Brandon Bass or Paul Pierce combined to shoot 3-of-16 didn’t help. The Celtics had a chance to bury Brooklyn early. Instead, the opposite.
Garnett and Green: For different reasons, Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green struggled. Garnett seemed to be playing his way back into shape in his second game since missing two weeks with a foot injury, although he made 4-of-5 shots after finishing 1-for-6 from the floor in the first half. Meanwhile, Green got open looks but had an awful shooting night (4-17 FG). Easy rule of thumb: If scoring options 2 and 3 aren’t working, the Celtics are in trouble.
Foul mood: Avery Bradley picked up three fouls in the first half and his fourth 49 seconds into the second, and Williams took full advantage. Actually, he was the reason Bradley got into foul trouble in the first place. The Nets point guard continued his improved play since failing to make the All-Star roster for the first time since 2009, recording a double-double (29 points, 12 assists). Speaking of fouls, the Celtics didn’t attempt a free throw for almost 28 minutes (thanks to a heaping helping of jump shots). Somebody check on Tommy Heinsohn.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Super Bass: After averaging fewer than 10 points for the first five months of the season, Bass has scored in double digits in all five games this month. Heck, he practically reached that mark in the first quarter. Illustrating a more versatile offensive arsenal, he threw down a vicious two-handed dunk over Brook Lopez, knocked down an 18-foot jumper and showed off a creative post move on Reggie Evans on consecutive Celtics buckets in the opening frame. In an odd move, Celtics coach Doc Rivers opted not to play Bass for a lengthy second-half stretch while Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries of all people grabbed rebound after rebound.
Living Wilcox: Likewise, the C’s nearly had to file a missing persons report on Chris Wilcox, who hasn’t been the same since injuries to his thumb and alley-oop partner Rajon Rondo‘s knee. For the second straight game, Shavlik Randolph was the first big off the bench, and for the second straight game, Wilcox played like his playoff minutes depended on it. After all, he’s never participated in the NBA’s postseason. Eighty percent of his shots have come within 2 feet of the basket, and Wednesday was no different, but at least he earned those buckets.
Truth handles: While many of the Celtics regulars struggled — and frankly turned in a preseason performance — Pierce (23 points) plodded his way through another stellar effort. After citing the “chippiness” between the two teams, Pierce probably had this game circled on his calendar. He scored 13 points on four shots in the third quarter alone. While the lead continued to slip away from the C’s as the game wore on, Pierce at least gave them a fighter’s chance, even if he was the only one fighting.
|04.10.13 at 9:11 pm ET|
|04.10.13 at 8:59 pm ET|
To Doc Rivers, the key to playoff success will be outmaneuvering his opponent. Given the fact that he’s going to be facing either the Knicks or Pacers in the first round, he’s going to need as many options as possible.
“I like the ability to have that lineup and other lineups instead of just having this ‘small lineup’ with Jeff at the 4,” Rivers said. “We want to have three lineups ‘ Jeff at the 2, Jeff at the 3, Jeff at the 4. Or if you want to call Paul the 2, I don’t care who you call the 2. I just think it gives us more versatility.
Wednesday against the Nets, Rivers featured the lineup (Pierce, Green, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley) that’s likely going to start the playoffs, of course barring another in an seemingly unending avalanche of injuries.
“This lineup is good,” Rivers said. “It’s important because it gives us a third lineup, because there’s one lineup we can’t go to, and that’s the very big lineup, like two 7-footers. We’re not going to be able to do that. We need to have as much versatility as possible going into the playoffs to play multiple styles.”
Before Wednesday at the Garden, the Celtics and Nets hadn’t met since Boston’s cakewalk on Christmas Day when the Celtics beat the Nets, 93-76. A game later, Avery Johnson was fired and PJ Carlesimo was promoted to head coach. The Nets are 31-18 since. Read the rest of this entry »
|04.10.13 at 12:37 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Doc Rivers isn’t just one of the most personable coaches among fans and media, he’s one of the most likable among his fellow NBA head coaches.
And that – as it turns out – has its rewards.
As the playoffs near, Rivers has been tapping into that network of coaches for some inside intel. But Rivers isn’t looking for advance scouting tips on his opponents; he’s looking for what other coaches see in the Celtics.
“That won’t last,” Rivers predicted. “I think teams will go back and forth on it. And they did even in the game the other night [vs. Washington]. They started out small, went big and then went back to small. I think teams are trying to figure out which way they would guard them.”
Why is that? All Rivers had to do was ask longtime friend and former Atlanta teammate Randy Wittman, now the coach of the Wizards.
“It’s nice when you play, honestly, a team that’s not in the playoffs and talk to the coach after the game. I asked what their reasoning [is] for choosing one or the other. It’s been interesting the comments I’ve gotten back.”
What kind of information?
“Good information,” Rivers smiled. “They’ve always helped, and they’re open for the most part,” Rivers said of his postgame chats with the coaches. “They’re not going to tell you their secrets but they’re going to tell you some of their thoughts so they’re helpful.”
It’s not just Wittman, either. On the current four-game homestand that ends against Brooklyn, the Celtics have played Detroit [Lawrence Frank], Cleveland [Byron Scott] and Washington [Wittman]. All three teams will be home in two weeks when the playoffs begin. And all three have head coaches with direct ties to Rivers.
“That’s huge because otherwise, I wouldn’t ask, to be honest,” Rivers said. “So, if you have a relationship with a coach, it helps. And there’s also a lot of coaches not coaching right now that you talk to a lot. You even ask them, ‘Who would you guard or how would you attack?’ It’s good getting somebody outside of us because they see us entirely different than we see ourselves.”
|04.10.13 at 12:26 pm ET|
With the trade deadline long gone and the Celtics positioning themselves for another playoff run, just when you thought it was safe to table the discussion of trading veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Marc J. Spears reminds everyone that their departure is a very real possibility in the near future.
These two names were certainly hot before the trade deadline. A lot of people were wondering if Garnett might go to the Clippers or Paul might get moved. If something’s going to happen with either one of them or both of them, the summer is a better time for that, because you’re not in a rush. There’s no real big deadline. You can think about it. Even draft night is a possibility.
Keep in mind, Pierce has one more year left on his deal. Pierce is still a valuable player, still a dynamic player. Keep an eye on a team like the Clippers. Not so much even for Garnett, but for Pierce, because if the Clippers stumble in the first or second round, I think that small forward position is something that they could use. They need maybe that No. 3 scorer or even that No. 2 scorer to kind of get them over the hump and be in the elite. He’s from L.A., so I don’t think Danny Ainge is going to send him to Minnesota. He’s going to send him somewhere that he would be happy with, and I’m sure Paul probably thinks he he could get an extension with a team like the Clippers.
But the problem with trading Garnett is — no matter where it is, even if it was Miami — he could potentially retire. He’s not a guy who wants a change, and he’s a guy who’s big on commitment. It would have to be a place where you’d have to have some stars that could convince him, but, to me, I think Pierce is probably the more likely guy if either of the two are to get moved in the offseason.
While speculation resumes about their future, Pierce and Garnett focus on preparing for the playoffs. The two spoke at length about developing consistency in a year full of inconsistencies. Here are the highlights.
|04.09.13 at 2:59 pm ET|
While Mavericks owner Mark Cuban claimed he might select Baylor women’s basketball sensation Brittney Griner in the second round of this June’s NBA draft and Heat wing Shane Battier suggested a woman will make the league in his lifetime, Celtics captain Paul Pierce doesn’t foresee either scenario playing out anytime soon.
“I think it will be a little difficult, just because of the physicality of the sport,” said Pierce, who has watched the many highlights of Griner. “The men are much faster, much stronger and much more athletic. Will it happen one day? I don’t know. They have a women’s league, where they are the best women in the world. Honestly, I can’t tell you if I can see a woman right now playing in the NBA. Not in the next couple of years. No.”
The 6-foot-8 senior set NCAA women’s career records for dunks and blocks, won the national title as a junior and claimed her second straight Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year trophy this season.
“If she is the best on the board, I will take her,” Cuban told reporters before a game last week.
Added Battier: “There’s no doubt that in our lifetime, there will be a woman NBA player.”
As usual, Celtics coach Doc Rivers did a better dancing around the issue than anyone.
“If I find a green man walking down the street and I think he can rebound, I’m going to draft him,” he told reporters prior to Friday’s loss to the Cavaliers. “So, I don’t think anyone cares. Obviously, it would make a huge story and it would be really cool. I just don’t know the answer. I don’t watch it enough to know, but it would be great.”
Perhaps Pierce and Griner should play a game of 1-on-1 to settle this NBA debate once and for all.
|04.09.13 at 1:53 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Sometimes movies imitate real life. And sometimes, it’s the other way around.
With news last week that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would welcome an openly gay player on his team and the coming out announcement by Magic Johnson‘s son, the subject has been a topic of discussion.
Doc Rivers was asked before Tuesday’s practice about the potential impact on the NBA if a player came out as openly gay. Rivers drew a comparison to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball and major professional sports in 1947.
“There’ll be a lot of talk about it and then I think it will go away,” Rivers said. “It’s [interesting]. As a team, I took the team to see ’42′ [on Monday]. There was a lot of talk and then all of a sudden, everybody starts playing. And I think the same thing will happen. So, that’s the way I look at it.”
Rivers also said there was much about the movie that reminded him of the ‘Ubuntu’ concept he brought in during the 2008 championship season.
“It was really good. It was fantastic,” Rivers said. “It was a great team message. It’s funny, you think race, but, really, it was more of a team message, when players on the Brooklyn Dodgers accepted Jackie. And a lot of it was because he was their teammate. Actually, one of the guys said that, he said, ‘What do you expect? I’m your teammate.’ And I just thought that was really a cool honor.”
Rivers was asked if his players knew the historical impact and the story behind Robinson’s MLB debut and breaking the color barrier.
“Yeah, I think a lot of players know the history,” Rivers said. “Some may not have, I don’t know that. But I always go by — I thought guys were at their full attention throughout the movie, and engaged, which I thought was really cool.”
Other practice notes:
“Obviously, we have to take care of our position,” Rivers said. “But, for Kevin, rest is always important, and Paul as well. But, other than that, we’ve thought about (resting them), we’ve talked about it.”
“Yeah, that’s a sad, sad thing,” Rivers laughed. “I’m so disappointed in Terry. I mean, getting lost going out to have a drink with me — I can see that. But getting lost going to the ballpark, my gosh. And he lives two blocks away, and he was walking! I didn’t know you could get lost walking. But, I guess you can.”