|11.06.12 at 11:06 am ET|
WALTHAM — It wasn’t so much a complaint as it was a statement of fact.
Brandon Bass was asked after Monday’s practice how much of a challenge it will be for him to go from starting role to the bench and back.
“That’s life, man,” said Bass. “You wake up, you don’t know what to expect. Sometimes it’ll be like that. You’ve just got to make the best of it.”
He started the first two games this season before being swapped out to the bench for rookie Jared Sullinger Saturday night in Washington.
It’s not like Bass didn’t see this coming as Rivers informed him that the Celtics would use at least three different starting lineups this season, based on matchups.
“You know what? We have so much going on,” Bass said. “If it’s going to be my role to come off the bench, then once when get the bench chemistry down, and put the ball in the right player’s hands, then I think it will benefit us as a unit and as a team.”
“It’s expected when you have a new group with a bunch of new guys.”
Bass also gave an indication of what Doc Rivers expects from him this season.
“For me to grow here, I have to be more active. We have a bunch of options. Doc said to me, it’s Rondo, Paul and Kevin and Jeff they’re going to go through so I have to be more active in everything on both ends of the ball.”
|11.05.12 at 5:43 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Doc Rivers can see what every Celtics fan sees. The team is 1-2 to start the season and not playing the basketball everyone envisioned when they brought back Kevin Garnett and added Jason Terry, Jeff Green, Leandro Barbosa and Jared Sullinger to a cast that lost to Miami in Game 7 of the Eastern finals last June.
“Probably behind,” Rivers said after Monday’s practice. “We have a great first half in Washington, that is what we needed to see. But I didn’t think we sustained it. I just think everyone is starting to figure out that, to be a good team, you have to actually work at it. And it’s hard work. You just don’t show up because you have good names on a piece of paper and become good. You have to work at it, and you have to work hard at it. And it’s exhausting.”
Is conditioning all that’s missing from the team’s trademark D?
“Yeah, but I think we’re in good enough condition to be a good defensive team. I think that’s more of the buy-in and the trust and the communication.”
The Celtics finished Monday’s two-hour practice with conditioning drills in 5-on-5 sets. Rivers is clearly concerned with his team’s ability to finish games defensively, after the Wizards erased two double-digit deficits in the fourth quarter only to have Paul Pierce save the game with a 3-point shot with under three minutes left.
The first half, when the Celtics raced to leads of 17-2 and 26-10, was a different story – one that after watching on film – made Rivers think the team is close.
“I thought we played defense, we got into the ball, there was ball pressure, there was talking,” Rivers said. “The first seven or eight minutes, [Washington] struggled to get a shot off, let alone score a basket. Then as the game went on, you can see us slowly moving away from it. I don’t know if that’s breaking old habits from other places, or if that’s conditioning. When you watch it on film, you think it’s a little bit of both.”
|11.05.12 at 2:39 pm ET|
– Called upon by Doc Rivers Friday night to protect the paint against the Bucks, when smaller lineups weren’t working, Darko Milicic played 4:30 of the first quarter. He missed his only shot — an air-balled baby left hook — and committed more turnovers (2) than he totaled rebounds (1) or blocks (0). Then, he didn’t play Saturday.
Kevin Garnett: “We’re still playing with the chemistry. We have different lineups in which Doc is playing with simultaneously, and we’re still working. No one said this was going to be an easy process.”
Translation: “The Darko Experiment is called that for a reason. Let’s just hope it doesn’t blow up in our face.”
– Over the weekend, Brandon Bass finished a minus-11 in 40:52 without Jared Sullinger on the floor. The Celtics outscored the opponent in just two of his 10 stints sans Sullinger — by one in the final 3:53 of the first quarter against the Wizards and by two Terry free throws in the final 1:35 of that game. Without Bass on the floor, Sullinger finished a plus-14 in 33:29, and the C’s outscored opponents in five of those eight stints. (In case you were wondering, the two played 14:40 together, finished a minus-9 and only outscored opponents once in six stints.)
Rivers (via the Herald): ‘[Sullinger] brings a different component, more importantly rebounding. He knows how to play without the ball. He’s a great passer. He blends well with our starting group.’
Translation: “Sorry Brandon, but you’re going to see a lot more Sullinger in the starting lineup.”
|11.05.12 at 2:18 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Sometimes, too much of a good thing is not healthy for a basketball team.
Well, take a look at Rondo’s minutes and what the Celtics expect from him and you could make the argument they should be just as concerned.
In the first three games, Rondo has played 44, 41 and 41 minutes, averaging 41.5 minutes per contest, nine minutes over his career average per game. Yes, it’s just a three-game sample so far and yes, that average includes a season of 23.5 minutes in his rookie year in 2006-07 and 29.9 the next, when he led the Celtics to an NBA title running the point. But still, one look at Rondo’s lean body and you see the need to preserve the Rolls Royce of the Celtics engine for all 82 games.
But Rivers took it a step further after practice Monday when he said it’s not the number of minutes but how Rondo is playing on the court that he has to watch closely. Rivers wants to be the one pacing Rondo from the bench, not Rondo himself.
“I’m concerned but not as far as him getting tired but I don’t want him to save himself on the floor,” Rivers said. “There’s a minutes number for him. We don’t know what it is yet. We’ll figure it out where he can play his minutes at full pace instead of knowing he’s going to be on the floor too long and then he starts pacing himself. We need him to be a fast, quick, aggressive player.”
And the number?
“I think it’s 39, 38 but it’s not much lower than 40 but it’s in that area,” Rivers added.
Rivers has said in years past just what a physical drain it is for a guard like Rondo to not only run the offense but play top-end defense that is a staple in the Celtics scheme.
The answers right now off the bench are Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa, with the latter coming to Boston in late October as Danny Ainge realized the need for ball-handling depth on the roster. Courtney Lee can also help lighten the load, switching from his starting role as shooting guard to the point.
But the biggest help of all will come when Avery Bradley comes back with two healthy shoulders – likely in December – to take a big defensive burden off Rondo.
Until then, Rivers will be watching Rondo very closely.
|11.05.12 at 9:42 am ET|
10. No self-respecting team loses to the Wizards: “I had said [Saturday night] was a must-win. The reason is when you play a team like Washington, which has had some injuries and might be short a man, you definitely want to win these games. These are the type of games you just have to win.”
9. The difference between Sully and Bass was negligible: “I know the starting lineup was changed a little bit with Jared Sullinger starting and Brandon Bass coming off the bench, but really I didn’t notice that much. Everyone who came into the game tonight was focused on our defensive coverages.”
8. Terry is clutch, according to Terry: “I was happy to contribute in our win with two free throws down the stretch. It’s definitely in my DNA to make big shots, especially when the game is on the line, whether that’s with free throws or making a play or an assist or a shot to win or tie the game — that’s just who I am.”
7. The JET hasn’t quite arrived in Boston yet: “I’m still trying to get comfortable within the structure of the team. I’m a work in progress. I’m very optimistic. I know we have the making of a championship team. I know we have to continue to grow and there are going to be some speed bumps along the way.”
6. For now, the Celtics are going to struggle against elite teams: “The Heat are the champions, and the core of that team has been together and had two full seasons for the most part. They’re going to know each other very well, while we’re still trying to figure it out. We’re going to struggle in a situation like that.”
|11.03.12 at 9:51 pm ET|
|11.03.12 at 9:48 pm ET|
If there was going to be a team that the Celtics could get well against, it would be these Washington Wizards. The Celts had, after all, won all four of the teams’ meetings last season, and Washington was heading into its home opener without its star John Wall (knee).
It worked out for the C’s, but it wasn’t as easy as they might have wanted.
The Celtics claimed an 89-86 win over the Wizards on Saturday night, sealing the deal when Martell Webster jumper from the corner fell short with two seconds remaining. Webster’s miss, which came out of a timeout with 4.5 seconds remaining and the Wizards trailing by a point, was followed by two free throws by Jason Terry to finish things off for the visitors.
The Wizards had come back from a 16-point first-quarter deficit to take a one-point lead with 2:55 to go on a jumper from Kevin Seraphin (8-of-9 from the floor, 19 points). But Paul Pierce (27 points) came right back to can a 3-pointer, giving the Celtics a lead they would never relinquish.
“A win’s a win,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters after the game, “and we’ll take it.”
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Celtics’ win:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
‘¢ For just the eighth time in his career, Rajon Rondo made two 3-pointers. The point guard managed multiple 3-pointers just once last season, hitting a pair against the Knicks on April 17. Rondo also finished with 10 or more assists (12) once again, also pitching in with 12 points.
‘¢ The Celtics stormed out to a 26-12 lead after the first quarter, shooting 50 percent from the field while holding Washington to 21 percent. The Celts also turned the ball over only one time in the opening quarter.
‘¢ Jared Sullinger got his first career start and acquitted himself fairly well. The rookie only four points (taking three shots), but managed seven rebounds. He was a plus-7 when on the floor.
WHAT WENT WRONG
‘¢ Terry struggled again, finishing with a minus-12 in his 17 minutes. The guard hit just two of his eight shots from the floor. He was part of a Celtics bench that was outplayed most of the night, contributing to the C’s being outscored in both the second, third and fourth quarters. The Wizards claimed a 62-27 edge over the Celts reserves.
‘¢ The Celtics were beaten on the boards, losing the rebound battle, 46-35. The bench managed just seven rebounds, with Brandon Bass claiming five of them.
‘¢ The Celtics had no answer when Rondo was out of the game, with Leandro Barbosa claiming a minus-12 when on the floor while going just 1-for-3 from the floor.