|11.06.13 at 9:49 pm ET|
The Celtics avoided starting 0-5 for the first time since 1946-47 — the organization’s inaugural season — and delivered coach Brad Stevens his first NBA victory in the process, a 97-87 beating of the winless Jazz.
Brandon Bass (20 points), Jeff Green (18 points), Kelly Olynyk (14 points, 8 rebounds) and Jared Sullinger (12 points) all reached double figures, and Gerald Wallace contributed nine points and nine boards off the bench.
Here’s all that went right and wrong in the C’s first win in five tries to start the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Full-court Pressey: The former Waltham star didn’t score a point in his 12 first-half minutes, but at least the Celtics had a point guard. With the C’s trailing 20-10, Stevens yanked Jordan Crawford in favor of Pressey 8:17 into the first quarter. In his first four minutes, Pressey served up three assists — halving Crawford’s total for the entire season — and ignited a 13-6 run to finish the quarter trailing by just three.
A couple 3′s: By bringing Wallace off the bench for the first time this season and somewhat staggering the small forward minutes between he and Green, Stevens was able to ensure that one of his two best options was on the floor for the entire first half. Of course, the duo still saw the court together in spurts, too, combining for 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in leading the Celtics to a 50-34 halftime lead.
Getting possessive: The Celtics committed an average of 19.8 turnovers and allowed 15.0 offensive rebounds per game in their first four losses. That’s a whole lot of extra possessions. Against the Jazz, the C’s respectively limited those numbers to 10 and six through three quarters. Hence, a 22-point lead on their way to victory.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Worst first: Facing a starting frontcourt of Bass and Vitor Faverani, the Jazz dominated the interior from the start — just as the C’s first four foes did this fall. Enes Kanter scored eight of Utah’s first 14 points, including a trio of buckets within 3 feet of the basket, as the Jazz opened up a 13-point advantage to start the game. As a result, Stevens started Olynyk over Faverani in the third quarter, Sullinger’s minutes increased and Kris Humphries even saw the floor. Just like we drew it up.
Flash Gordon: The Celtics had few answers for Stevens’ protege, Gordon Hayward, who amassed 28 points (12-20 FG), nine boards and five assists. Keep in mind, he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. Just saying.
So on and so fourth: The C’s fourth-quarter struggles continued, accentuated by an 11-0 Jazz run midway through the fourth quarter that helped slash what was once a 25-point Celtics lead down to eight with 6:26 to play.
|11.05.13 at 2:12 pm ET|
The biggest problem facing these Celtics is the lack of a point guard, but that’s a story for a different day, since there’s no viable solution on the current roster until Rajon Rondo returns. Sure, a little more Phil Pressey might help, but is an undersized, undrafted rookie point guard really going to solve this thing?
So, let’s address a problem that Brad Stevens could possibly bandage with the current roster.
The Celtics are the NBA’s worst defensive rebounding team, allowing opponents to grab 33.9 percent of available offensive boards — a number that would rank among the worst in history over a full season. Opponents attempt 39.3 field goals per game within 8 feet of the basket; only the Blazers (43.3) are worse. The opposition scores 20.8 second-chance points per game; only the Nuggets (23.0) are worse. And just four teams (Wizards, Blazers, Clippers, Bucks) give up more than the C’s 44.5 points allowed in the paint per game.
The C’s interior defense needs work. Vitor Faverani, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Kris Humphries are allowing an average of 26.5 attempts at the rim, where opponents are shooting 52.8 percent.
The two biggest offenders, naturally, are rookies. Faverani is allowing 11 field goal attempts at the rim per game. Eleven! Per game! That’s the fifth-worst number in the league. He’s grabbed just 49.2 percent of his 14.8 rebound chances per game. The only other player with as many opportunities to snatch fewer than 50 percent is Al Jefferson, who hasn’t played since aggravating an ankle injury on opening night.
Meanwhile, the opposition is shooting 76.5 percent at the rim against Olynyk. That’s ridiculous. Only two bigs (Trevor Booker, DeMarre Carroll) are worse. And Olynyk snags fewer rebounds per chance than Faverani.
|11.05.13 at 12:04 am ET|
The Celtics have begun their season at 0-4 after dropping a 95-88 loss to the Grizzlies at Memphis Monday night. It is the first time the C’s have started a season without a win in their first four games since 1969.
The Celts were doomed by a mammoth fourth quarter by Jerryd Bayless, who netted 15 points in the final frame. Bayless went 6-of-7 from the field in the fourth to help erase the visitors’ six-point lead midway through the final quarter.
Not helping matters for Brad Stevens‘ team once again were a healthy amount of turnovers, notching 21 in the game. The Celtics lead the league with the most turnovers through the season’s first couple of weeks.
The Celtics had grabbed a four-point lead at halftime, in large part because of Jeff Green’s 16 points in the first two quarters. It was a half that saw the C’s shoot 54 percent from the floor.
But Memphis came out hot in the second half, going on a 12-4 run while Boston was going just 1-for-9 from the field. The Celts to rebound to grab a six-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Green led the Celtics with 22 points (going 9-for-12 from the field), while Jared Sullinger contributed with 16 points in just 20 minutes. Rookie Kelly Olynyk had a rough night, going 1-for-8 from the floor while committing four turnovers.
|11.04.13 at 1:37 pm ET|
The city of Boston and the Celtics honored Bill Russell this past Friday, unveiling a 6-foot, 10-inch, 600-pound bronze statue of the 11-time NBA champion. Though the man has more championship rings than fingers, the ceremony detailed Russell’s work beyond basketball. For those in Russell’s inner circle — including Charles Barkley and Kenny “The Jet” Smith — the discussion was focused on Russell’s impact on society.
‘Most of us are too young to have seen him play,’ said Barkley. ‘But for guys like myself who got a chance to be around him, you see what a remarkable person he is. We know him more a man than a player.’
Barkley and Smith, who are teammates on TNT’s extraordinarily popular “Inside the NBA,” both consider themselves very fortunate to be friends with the legendary Russell.
‘He don’t talk to many people,’ said Barkley. ‘So if you get on the list, it’s pretty cool.’
Smith was drafted by the Kings in 1987 and played a half-season for Russell, who was in his final stint as a head coach.
‘I was his first-ever draft pick,’ said Smith. ‘I was overwhelmed meeting him. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know whether to call him ‘Coach Russell,’ ‘Bill,’ or ‘Mr. Russell,’ and then my assistant coach was Willis Reed. I was in heaven. He taught me what teamwork was all about, regardless of winning and losing.’
Smith, who emceed the ceremony, did not concentrate on Russell’s blocked shots or rebounds. He looks at him as a whole man, one who inspired people around the world and broke racial barriers. Smith thinks of the man who served as his mentor.
Russell’s greatest strength, in Smith’s words, is ‘his ability to take a basketball moment and relate it to a lifetime experience. Something that my teammates always thought was going to be a punishment for me — sitting next to coach Russell on the team bus — actually turned out to be the best moment of my life.’
Barkley laughed when recalling the story of Russell making Smith sit next to him on one of the Kings’ long bus rides. ‘Kenny said, ‘Why’ve I got to sit beside you?’ And Bill said, ‘Because that guy’s a loser, that guy’s a loser, that guy’s a loser, and I don’t want you sitting with them.’ ‘
Said Smith: ‘I sat next to him, on a bus ride or a plane ride, four hours a day. And if I went to sleep, he’d nudge me and go, ‘Sleep nights, young fella. Listen to what I’m saying.’ And I listened to all those stories. It’s a great feeling to know I was part of that. Not being Satch Sanders or Tommy Heinsohn or any other great players who played with him, I feel like I’m one of those.’
|11.04.13 at 10:34 am ET|
As if this Celtics season wasn’t sad enough so far, American Express just released this Paul Pierce ad. “The more I embrace Brooklyn, the more Brooklyn embraces me. It feels good being here. It feels like I’m home.”
P.S. Seriously, though, it’s nice to see Pierce embracing the Brooklyn community the way he did Boston.
|11.03.13 at 8:42 pm ET|
The Celtics have now dropped their first three games for the second time in the past three seasons, losing to the Pistons, 87-77, Sunday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
The Celts fought back from from a 10-point halftime deficit to cut the Pistons’ lead to five heading into the fourth quarter. Boston even took a brief two-point lead early in the fourth. But behind the frontcourt of Greg Monroe, Josh Smith and Andre Drummond (each scoring 15 points), the Pistons pulled away in the final quarter.
Not helping the Celtics’ cause was shooting 3-for-16 from beyond the 3-point arc, while being out-rebounded, 44-37.
A bright spot for the Celtics was rookie Kelly Olynyk, who netted 15 points while grabbing eight rebounds in 25 minutes. Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley was the only other two Celts to finish in double-figures, scoring 13 points apiece.
|11.03.13 at 5:33 pm ET|