|01.09.14 at 8:28 am ET|
The Celtics have lost all three games on their road trip, six straight and nine out of their last 10, dropping from first place in the Atlantic Division to within a half-game of last with the Warriors and Blazers remaining on the West Coast — and Rajon Rondo, apparently, is tired of it. With 10:30 start times for these games, so are Celtics fans.
|01.09.14 at 1:11 am ET|
Considering how the Celtics‘ last two losses ended (124 points allowed per game, and an average margin of defeat of 27 points) their most recent defeat to the Clippers on Wednesday night could be seen with a positive twist.
Boston lost 111-105 in Los Angeles, but unlike in the first two games of the road trip, the Celtics competed admirably, and even led late in the third quarter. Alas, the defeat marked the C’s sixth straight loss and ninth in 10 games. It could get worse from here as the Warriors (24-14) and Trail Blazers (27-9) still remain on Boston’s road trip.
Blake Griffin led five Clippers starters in double digits with 29 points. Jamal Crawford went for 26 and Jared Dudley added 18. Darren Collison (15 points) and DeAndre Jordan (11 points) pitched in as well.
Jordan Crawford continued his strong play at the point guard position this season with a team-high 24 points and eight assists. Fellow guard Avery Bradley also contributed 24 points, while Jeff Green and Brandon Bass and added 15 and 14, respectively.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS
First-quarter fast break: One might think that without dynamic point guard Chris Paul, the Clippers transition game would be slowed. Think again. Los Angeles’ high-flying attack remained, and it was no more prominent than in the first quarter. Of the Clippers’ 32 total points in the quarter, 18 came via the fast break (for perspective, Boston allowed 117 points in a loss to the Thunder Sunday, 17 of those were fast break points). The up-tempo style was one-sided as the Celtics only logged two fast break points in the quarter.
Sully benched: After his ejection Tuesday night for a pair of flagrant 1 fouls (the league eventually rescinded the first) in Boston’s 129-98 loss to the Nuggets, Jared Sullinger came off the bench. The demotion did not remove Sullinger from his current slump (he entered Wednesday’s game averaging 8.1 points per game, and 29.9 percent shooting in the last seven games). Sullinger played sparingly, and he made little impact on the game with just two points. In the fourth quarter, he was whistled for his fifth flagrant foul this season — the most in the NBA.
Frontcout D: Boston’s front court had a whale of a time slowing the front court of the Clippers. Dudley, Griffin and Jordan combined to notch 57 points with each contributing in other facets as well. Aside from his four 3-pointers, Dudley grabbed four steals and collected three assists and two blocks. Jordan pulled down 13 rebounds and Griffin did a little bit of everything with eight assists and six rebounds.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS
Guard play: The guard rotation of Crawford, Bradley and Jerryd Bayless excelled vs. a battered Clippers guard corps, missing Chris Paul and shooting guard J.J. Redick. Bradley and Crawford led Boston in scoring with nearly half the team’s points. Crawford added five assists, and Bradley’s points came on an efficient 10-for-18 shooting night. Bayless, playing in his second game with the Celtics, provided a spark off the bench with 11 points in 20 minutes.
Effort: Aside from an obvious disadvantage in the talent department, the Celtics were seriously lacking effort in their recent blowout losses to the Thunder and Nuggets. That seemingly absent effort was much improved against Los Angeles. When Boston fell into a 26-10 deficit in the first quarter, it appeared that a third straight blowout loss was imminent. But the Celtics fought back and cut the deficit to four by halftime. In the third quarter, they even grabbed their first lead since the opening moments of the Oklahoma City game.
Humphries returns: Boston’s most consistent bench player this season, Kris Humphries, sat out of the team’s loss Tuesday with an ankle injury. They desperately needed his post presence, as the Nuggets flattened the Celtics 129-98. But Humphries returned on Wednesday, and received a surprise start in place of Sullinger. Humphries had a productive all-around game with six points, eight rebounds and four assists in 32 minutes.
|01.08.14 at 5:49 pm ET|
We constantly examine the players Danny Ainge has acquired since becoming the Celtics‘ president of basketball operations in 2003, but rarely do we take a look at his departed assets. Bill Belichick is so often lauded for the lack of success in which his ex-Patriots have wallowed in, but Ainge’s batting average rivals The Hooded One, and that’s an important notion to keep in mind in this ever-changing Celtics world. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
For the purposes of this exercise, we’re only looking at outgoing players who appeared in games for the Celtics. That rules out training camp invitees (I see you, Michael Sweetney) and immediately waived trade acquisitions (Hi, Donte Greene). Incoming players are an entirely different story, albeit another successful one (What up, Kevin Garnett?). So, without further adieu, here’s who Ainge bid adieu to (and, yes, I just used adieu twice in a sentence).
- Let free agents Mark Bryant, Bimbo Coles, Grant Long, Mikki Moore, Ruben Wolkowyski walk July 2003.
- Traded J.R. Bremer and Bruno Sundov July 2003.
- Traded Tony Delk and Antoine Walker October 2003.
- Traded Tony Battie, Kedrick Brown and Eric Williams December 2003.
- Traded Mike James February 2004.
BRYANT: Never played again.
COLES: Played just one more season, averaging 1.3 points in 22 games for the Heat.
LONG: Never played again.
MOORE: Somehow lasted another eight seasons in the NBA, including another stint in Boston (see below), even averaging 9.2 points and 5.6 rebounds from 2006-08, but c’mon: This is Mikki Moore we’re talking about.
WOLKOWYSKI: Never played again.
BREMER: Averaged 3.3 points over 36 games for the Cavaliers and Warriors in 2003-04, his final season.
SUNDOV: Averaged 1.4 points over 36 games for the Cavaliers and Knicks from 2003-05, his final two seasons.
WALKER (see below): Averaged 14.6 points, 8.7 boards in 2003-04, but shot a career-worst 26.9 percent from 3.
BATTIE: Signed a four-year, $24.8 million deal in Orlando, and began declining in 2006-07.
BROWN: Averaged 1.5 points over 12 games the next seasons before playing his way out of the league.
WILLIAMS: Played for five teams over three more seasons before starring in Basketball Wives.
JAMES: Still in the league nine seasons later, including a career year (20.3 points, 5.8 assists) in 2005-06, although averaged double-digits just once more and has played for 12 different teams.
|01.07.14 at 11:32 pm ET|
Tuesday night’s matchup with the Nuggets looked like an opportunity for the Celtics to snap their four-game losing streak and cease their recent struggles against Western Conference foes. Boston faced a sub-.500 Denver team just two games removed from an eight-game losing streak that recently faced some internal issues with the temporary dismissal of veteran guard Andre Miller.
That optimism seems silly in retrospect as Denver steamrolled Boston, 129-98, to hand the C’s their fifth straight defeat and eighth in nine games.
Randy Foye lit up the Celtics defense with 23 points and seven 3-pointers, while Ty Lawson (19 points, 13 assists) and Kenneth Faried (19 points, 13 rebounds) aided the easy victory with double-doubles. J.J. Hickson (17 points), Wilson Chandler (11 points) and Nate Robinson (10 points) also reached double figures.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS
West woes: Boston’s struggles when visiting Western Conference teams is bordering on comedic. With Tuesday’s loss, the Celtics have now dropped all six road games versus Western Conference teams this year, and the last 11 road games dating back to last season. Additionally, Boston is now 2-10 against Western Conference foes this season. It doesn’t get any easier for the Celtics as they wrap up their road trip vs. the Clippers (24-13), Warriors (24-13) and Trail Blazers (26-9).
Slow start: The Celtics put together quite possibly their ugliest half of basketball this season. They trailed 68-45 after 24 minutes of play, and the 68 first-half points allowed tied a season-worst for Boston and equaled a season-best for the Nuggets. Seven Denver players scored at least six points with Lawson (12 points, nine assists) and Foye (14 points, four 3-pointers) leading the way. The Nuggets nailed 10 3-pointers in the half. The Celtics’ offense matched the defense’s inferiority, as they shot 34.7 percent from the field, and committed 10 turnovers (eight in the first quarter).
|01.07.14 at 12:11 pm ET|
As part of the deal, the Celtics acquired Ryan Gomes from the Thunder and subsequently waived him. The remainder of Gomes’ $884,293 salary would have become guaranteed had the C’s not released him on Tuesday.
Bayless, 25, averaged 8.0 points (41.9 FG%, 35.3 3P%, 83.6 FT%), 2.0 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game in 30 appearances for the Grizzlies this season, but his $3.1 million contract is Danny Ainge‘s biggest acquisition. While Bayless becomes a free agent this summer, Lee is owed $11.1 million over the next two seasons on top of the remainder of this season’s $5.2 million salary.
We discussed the trade’s impact on the salary cap and how Ainge might exercise his newfound flexibility going forward here.
Bayless arrived in Denver on Monday and is expected to be available against the Nuggets, according to the Celtics public relations staff. He will wear No. 11, same as Lee.
“We’ve always like Jerryd,” Ainge told the Herald. ‘”He’s played really well against us, and we’re intrigued to see what he can do now. We like that he can play some point guard.”
As for Lee, Ainge added, “Courtney has played real well in a limited role for us this year. I also know he was not happy with his role. But I think he’s a good player for Memphis to acquire.”
|01.06.14 at 9:52 pm ET|
Gomes’ involvement in the deal appears to be a salary dump by Oklahoma City to help facilitate the trade and create a small amount of cap space, Stein reported. The Celtics are expected to waive the former Providence College star before the remainder of his $884,293 salary becomes guaranteed on Tuesday.
Gomes has appeared in just five games for the Thunder this season, scoring all of six points in 34 total minutes. The 31-year-old forward averaged 10.0 points and 5.3 rebounds over his first two NBA seasons in Boston after the Celtics selected him with their second-round draft pick in 2005. He was traded to the Timberwolves in 2007 as part of the Kevin Garnett deal.
Second-round picks may also be involved in the trade, Stein said.
|01.05.14 at 9:25 pm ET|
Jackson eviscerated the C’s defense with a career-best 27 points and handed the Celtics (13-21) their fourth straight loss and seventh in eight games.
The NBA’s leading scorer, Kevin Durant, played more of a facilitating role for Oklahoma City (27-7), allowing the point guard his moment in the limelight. Durant still went for 21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Jackson erupts: Prior to the game, much of the defensive consternation revolved around the matchup between Green and Durant. How Boston’s top defender, Avery Bradley, would defend Oklahoma City’s raw point guard was not a hot topic. However, Jackson, filling in for an injured Russell Westbrook, surprisingly torched the usually stingy Bradley for a career-high 27 points. The Boston College product lit up Bradley in the first half. He scored 11 points in the first five minutes, and 19 over all in the half.
D on Durant: In one sense, the Celtics defense deserves plaudits for not allowing Durant to break out for 46 points like he did in the Thunder’s previous win. But Durant’s 21 points (in just 27 minutes) against Boston did not properly reveal the impact he had on the game. He dished out eight assists, and when Oklahoma City was comfortably ahead, Durant went out of his way to pad his teammates’ point totals. Durant also pulled down seven rebounds.
Front-court production: While Crawford and Bradley kept Boston’s head above water, the Celtics‘ starting big men did next to nothing to aid the guards offensively. Forwards Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger combined for 13 points compared to their combined season average of 25.5 points per game. Their sparse production was not a product of a dearth of opportunities; Sullinger finished 3-for-11 from the field and Bass 1-for-5. Sullinger fouled out in just 19 minutes.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Bogans’ christening: It took close to the entire first half of season, but Keith Bogans finally found the score sheet. The veteran guard acquired by the Celtics this offseason opened up the second quarter by burying a 3-pointer. Bogans last appeared in a game on Nov. 30 and had played in just 28 minutes over four games and attempted three shots. He saw playing time in lieu of backup shooting guard Courtney Lee, who was in the process of being traded Sunday.
Three-point barrage: A usually docile Celtics 3-point game erupted as Boston canned 11 3-pointers, the most since Dec. 10. The C’s defied a recent trend of poor 3-point shooting, particularly over the past three games. Boston shot a horrendous 14-61 (23 percent) in recent losses to the Hawks, Bulls and Pelicans. Crawford and Green authored the outburst with three 3-pointers apiece. Boston shot a nifty 8-13 from downtown in the first half to stay within 10 points.
Humphries: Kris Humphries again logged solid minutes off the bench, collecting 14 points along with three blocks and rebounds and two assists. In the last three weeks, Humphries has proved himself the most reliable Celtic off the bench. In his last 10 games, Humphries has averaged 9.8 points per game on 56 percent shooting, and 6.9 rebounds.