|11.18.10 at 12:50 pm ET|
As a general rule of thumb, 10 games in the NBA is a decent time to start making some conclusions, such as:
A. The Lakers and Celtics will have ebbs and flows, but barring injury, they remain the class of their respective conferences until further notice.
B. The difference between the team ranked fifth in this week’s power rankings (Dallas) and the one ranked 12th (Oklahoma City) is as small as former Northeastern star J.J. Barea.
C. The back end of the Eastern Conference is really soft.
D. Speaking of soft, the video by The Basketball Jones, ‘Like a Bosh’ defined the Chris Bosh era in 108 seconds.
This may be my only chance to do the Power Rankings, so without further delay, here they are:
1. Lakers (10-2) Los Angeles lost two games this week, which caused a minor freakout in LA. Since then, they won two games on the road by double digits. The Lakers are back in cruise control for the rest of the month, but their December could get rough with seven straight road games and a three-game stretch starting with Miami on Christmas Day and then New Orleans and San Antonio.
2. Boston (9-2) Here’s the thing that concerns Doc Rivers: The Celtics have been good defensively, but they haven’t put it all together and become dominant for 48 minutes. Rivers said they’ve played their defense “in spurts,” which is good enough to win most nights, but not what they’re after long-term. It’s all part of the process, etc.
3. New Orleans (9-1) The Hornets lost their only game of the season to Dallas earlier this week and then got the better of the Mavs in the rematch. They’re getting help from a number of different sources, but did you know Marco Belinelli is their fourth-leading scorer? Did you know Belinelli was even on the Hornets?
4. San Antonio (9-1) Before we get into that other story, we should point out that the Spurs have been the hottest team in the league, winning eight straight and playing good old Spurs basketball in the process. Pause. Tony Parker got divorced this week after his wife, Eva Longoria, allegedly found hundreds of texts from another woman, a story that was covered by outlets from MTV to the Hindustan Times. And people thought the Spurs were boring.
5. Dallas (7-3) The Mavs had won four straight before dropping the second part of a home and home with the Hornets. Actually six of their 10 games have been against just three teams: New Orleans, Denver and Memphis and they split against all of them. That’s not really that noteworthy, but they are the only team with wins against two of the four teams at the top of the rankings. It’s quality, not quantity that we’re after here. Read the rest of this entry »
|11.18.10 at 12:36 pm ET|
It may have seemed like a run-of-the-mill matchup between one of the NBA’s elite teams and a rebuilding franchise, but Wednesday night’s Celtics-Wizards game drew a 7.4 rating. That made it the most watched regular-season broadcast ever on Comcast Sports Net, according to a tweet from the Celtics. The C’s rolled to a 114-83 victory.
|11.18.10 at 12:29 pm ET|
Garnett has returned to form after struggling for much of last season following knee surgery in May 2009.
“Rest is everything,” Garnett said. “And being healthy is another thing. I don’t like speaking about my own personal health, because everybody in the league has something they’re dealing with, and I was no different from it. Obviously, you can see the difference in the play. I have a little pep in my step, I’ve got a little bounce in my hop. And it feels good.
“A lot of times last year I was playing subpar guys, man, and they were getting by me, doing different things to where I knew that if I was 100 percent, no way that some of those things were happening. To be honest, I’m blessed. It’s something I have to deal with every day. But you can see the difference. You can see the difference. The confidence is there. When you get hurt ‘ one of the things I’ve never had to battle was dealing with health issues to where it damages and messes with your confidence. I’m a very confident person. I would be lying if I said it didn’t test me. But it made me a stronger person mentally.”
The addition of Shaquille O’Neal to the roster brought a unique personality to Boston. The high-intensity Garnett was asked if he agreed that Shaq has lightened the mood in the locker room.
“Unfortunately, I do [agree],” Garnett said. “I don’t like my mood to be lightened too much, man. I like to have an edge. When I take the floor, I like to be a certain way. I don’t do well when I’m giddy and kind of light. I do well when I’m dark and sort of concentrated. When I’m locked in, I look at myself as a threat. I don’t want to be too lighthearted when I go out there. Shaq is the opposite. He likes things light. He likes to keep you laughing. He likes the mood to be light.
“I think from [Doc Rivers‘] perspective ‘ or anybody’s perspective ‘ they tend to think that I’m too intense at times. And I can understand that. But hey, man, this is my makeup. This is who I am. This is what I’ve been for a long time. It’s gotten me to this point. Like anybody else’s personality it’s who they are. This is my makeup. This is who I am.”
|11.18.10 at 11:23 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
One day, Delonte West is the talk of the town, returning to a Celtics uniform three years after being traded and 10 additional games after being suspended. The next day? He’s just another member of a championship contender.
And that’s the way he likes it.
“Now you guys can go back to bothering them and leaving me alone,” West told reporters after Wednesday night’s 114-83 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Now, he’s left to do his thing, which Wednesday night was knocking down 5-of-7 shots for 12 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists, one steal and a block — a little bit of everything.
“Once I left here, in my journey in the league, I’ve matured as a player,” added West. “I’ve come into my own a little bit. I’m just really scratching my potential, as far as playmaking. Right now, I’m embracing my role as a bench player. I don’t want to say Sixth Man. You have a team like this, the whole bench is the Sixth Man.
“I know what I can do. I know I can play at a high level, so it helps the team when I can come off the bench and bring that high level of play out there.”
With his Celtics debut behind him, West can answer the day-to-day questions, like what he thinks of Kevin Durant, his former teammate on the Seattle SuperSonics.
“Y’all seen him,” West told WEEI.com. “I watched him grow up in D.C. He by far scores the easiest [in the NBA]. You watched him in college. I watched him on the playgrounds in D.C. On the outside, he could shoot the ball from anywhere. He’s so smooth with it.
“We’re from the same area. We keep track of each other. I got a chance to play with him a little bit in Seattle, give him some pointers and root him on. The sky’s the limit for the guy.”
West and Durant both grew up in Maryland, outside of Washington D.C. On Friday night, they’ll be reunited when the Celtics host Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder. And West knows from experience — defending Durant is no easy task.
“You’ve got to give him a little bit of everything [defensively],” said West. “Put a hand in his face and hope he misses. Guys like that, there’s really no defense for him. He’s either going to make it or he’s going to miss. That’s the kind of player he is. Once he steps across half-court, he’s dangerous.”
As West proved on Wednesday night, he can be dangerous on the court, too.
THE OBLIGATORY SHAQ UPDATE
A 2010-11 Celtics victory just wouldn’t be the same without a postgame interview with Shaquille O’Neal. Heres’ a few highlights:
- On Delonte West: “He’s a great player. He played well. I had the opportunity to play with him last year. Great player and a great guy. He can be a sparkplug sometimes. You guys think he’s crazy, but he’s not. Not at all. I can handle him. We always have conversations about the game. He’s very smart. He’s just misunderstood sometimes.” (Mike Petraglia has more.)
- On the C’s interior dominance: “I’m going to have the advantage on every center that we play. … It’s paying off very nicely. Once we get Jermaine [O’Neal]and Kendrick [Perkins] back, it’s going to be really, really nice – really, really difficult for teams to match up.”
- On his chemistry with Rondo: “Rondo’s a great passer. He gets me the ball. I do what I’ve been doing for 18 years. … It’s not really something you need to work on with him. He’s just a great player. He reads the court very well. … Two great players just working together. He passes it to me, and I put it in the basket.”
- On Rondo’s alley-oop to Kevin Garnett: “[Garnett] understands how the defense is playing, and he actually orchestrated that play. He said, ‘This dude’s overplaying me; this dude’s disrespecting me.’ He’s great like that.”
- On what he told Semih Erden: “I told him to be mean out there, be aggressive. Semih’s a nice guy. … I told him to go out and play and dominate.”
REACTIONS FROM D.C.
As you can imagine, Wednesday night’s 31-point blowout by the Celtics against the John Wall-less Wizards didn’t sit well with anybody on Washington’s side …
- Head coach Flip Saunders (courtesy of the Washington Post): “It was like men playing against boys. I told our guys, they just reached right into our chest and tore our heart out, and just took away our will.”
- Gilbert Arenas: “This is one of them games, where you’re on the playground and you beat somebody up – and the real bully comes and beats you up. They are built for a championship. We’re rebuilding. Until we feel we’re on that level, we have a long way to go. The two championship-caliber teams that we’ve played, we got blown out.”
- Nick Young: “They’re an all-star team. … Obviously, they know how to win.”
WHITE HOUSE HONORS BILL RUSSELL
The White House announced that Bill Russell is one of 15 people who will receive the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom, “the nation’s highest civilian honor.”
“Bill Russell is the former Boston Celtics‘ captain who almost single-handedly redefined the game of basketball. Russell led the Celtics to a virtually unparalleled string of 11 championships in 13 years and was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player five times. The first African American to coach in the NBA — indeed he was the first to coach a major sport at the professional level in the United States — Russell is also an impassioned advocate of human rights. He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and has been a consistent advocate of equality.”
Russell will be the first former NBA player to receive the honor, and based on his contributions to civil rights alone — regardless of the fact that he’s the greatest winner in the history of sports — there’s no question he deserves it. The only question is, right now, could Russell still beat President Obama 1-on-1? I say definitely.
MORE RONDO FOR MVP DISCUSSION
The Sporting News is the latest publication to consider Rondo a contender for the 2010-11 NBA MVP honor. The most interesting tidbit to come from their take is the fact that Garnett believes Rondo can keep up his current rate of 14.9 assists per game — which would eclipse John Stockton‘s NBA record of 14.5 set in 1989-90.
“Why not?” Garnett said. “Who says that he can’t? Let’s see. It’s all about the flow. It’s all about guys hitting shots. He’s in a real good groove. He knows when to attack. He’s picking and choosing when to do certain things. He’s mixing it up really well. He’s keeping defenses off balance. Who says he can’t?”
Well, if the Celtics keep shooting 65 percent from the floor as they did Wednesday night against the Wizards, there’s no reason he can’t.
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|11.17.10 at 11:35 pm ET|
Shaquille O’Neal has a lot of faith in Delonte West, who made his long-awaited return to the court Wednesday night in the Celtics‘ rout of the Wizards at TD Garden. After all, he played last year with him in Cleveland.
“I learned that you guys think he’s crazy but he’s not,” O’Neal said. “Not at all. I could handle him. We always have conversations about the game. He’s very smart. He’s just misunderstood at times.”
West was a very grateful man Wednesday night. And he wore his emotion on his sleeve. He was eligible to play in an NBA game for the first time since serving a league-mandated 10-game suspension for off-court misconduct involving firearms and a motorcycle in the summer of 2009.
With that behind him – and with the faith and support of his teammates and Celtics management – he entered the game as a sub for Ray Allen with 3:12 left in the first quarter. He was nervous as if he were a rookie making his NBA debut.
“It brought a tear to my eye,” West said of the loud ovation he received from the crowd, many on their feet in support.
Then West was brought back to earth by Washington’s Nick Young.
“Then Nick Young hit three shots in my face, and that dried up my tears real quick.”
West had the ideal scenario to return to the court on Wednesday night and he took advantage, scoring 12 points, grabbing five rebounds and handing out four assists to lead the bench in Boston’s 114-83 win over the Washington Wizards at TD Garden.
“Any game is perfect for me,” West said. “I just want to be back helping out. I’m so excited to be back. Thankful to the lord for this second opportunity and I’ll make the best out of it.’
After playing in practice and in the preseason with the team, West was making his official debut back in a Celtics uniform after serving a 10-game NBA-imposed suspension for off-court misconduct. The Celtics gave the once-troubled guard one more chance, signing him shortly after Minnesota waived him in the summer.
‘It felt great,” West said. “For a minute there in the summertime I thought I wouldn’t see an NBA court again. I thank the Lord, ownership here, the coaching staff, and Danny Ainge. They know what I am about. I’m just blessed to have this opportunity to do what I love to do. They knew the difference between a bad decision and a bad person. I’m just blessed to have this opportunity to do what I love to do.”
West made his debut when he replaced Ray Allen with 3:12 left in the first quarter and Celtics coach Doc Rivers said it was only natural that he showed some initial rust but not for long as West found his rhythm, finding Paul Pierce for an open three on the right wing, a three Pierce drilled to give West his first stat in his first game back – an assist.
‘I didn’t want to do too much,” West admitted. “Sometimes not doing too much is what the team needs you to do. The second unit responded well in the second half. The first half, our timing was just off. Marquis [Daniels] missed a few practices, I’m getting back into the mix. We’re just trying to adjust to playing with one another. Biggest thing is we got the victory. Other kinks we’ll work out.’
He played 21 minutes in his first Celtics game since being dealt to Seattle following the 2006-07 season.
‘In the first half, I just wanted to get my feet wet,” West said. “I noticed that my timing was off a little bit. Guys that know me, I don’t really force much. I let the game come to me. With that second unit sometimes you got to force the flow. When you’re up 20 or 15, it’s hard to go out and want to be aggressive. You want to maintain the lead and give the starters some rest.’
|11.17.10 at 10:56 pm ET|
“A wise man once told me a pig sacrifices more than a chicken,” said Davis. “I just want to be a pig.”
The statistic isn’t officially tracked by the NBA, but Davis is lobbying for it, arguing that they work two ways — turning the ball over in your favor and giving the opposing team an additional foul.
“They keep track of how many shots of yours you get blocked, don’t they?” said Davis, who contributed two points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals in the win. “I think I led the league in that one year. So, why not charges?”
Big Baby said he learned how to take a charge from former teammate James Posey during the 2007-08 season. According to Davis, the key to the charge is deception — making opponents believe you’re going to foul them and holding your ground in the final moment (“I look at my feet every time”). It’s that timing in addition to his knowledge of help defense, the team’s rotations and thier scouting reports that have led to Davis’ success in that area.
“I don’t like to flop,” said Davis. “When I take a charge, somebody is going to have to run into me.”
Davis said it took a week to fully shake off a charge he took against the Dallas Mavericks‘ Caron Butler. So, do they all hurt that much?
“All of them do,” said Davis. “There’s not one that does not hurt. But every one is worth it. The only one that’s not is the one where I get hit in the gonads.”
Just don’t hit the pig in the gonads. Got that everybody?
|11.17.10 at 9:55 pm ET|
All five Celtics starters reached double figures as the Celtics built a 20-point lead early in the third quarter and coasted to a 114-83 victory over the John Wall-less Washington Wizards at the TD Garden on Tuesday night.
Paul Pierce scored a game-high 23 points while Kevin Garnett added 18 points and seven boards and Delonte West netted 12 points off the bench in his return to lead the Celtics (9-2) to a 65 percent shooting night.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
1. Hot shooting: Despite looking sluggish defensively in the early going, the Celtics hit their first six shots and made 15-of19 on the offensive end in the first quarter. And they didn’t let up for the rest of the night.
In all, the Celtics starters shot 71 percent (35-of-49) from the field. Pierce’s 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting — including a trio of 3-pointers — led the effort, as the C’s grabbed a 33-25 lead in the first 12 minutes, stretched it to 16 at the half, 20 after three and as much as 37 in the fourth quarter.
2. Vintage Shaq: Showing signs of the player who made 14 straight All-Star Games, Shaquille O’Neal grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds in a swarm of three Wizards, gathered himself and nearly took down the rim with a dunk over all three of them.
Forced into more playing time than usual because of Semih Erden‘s four personal fouls in his first six minutes of action, O’Neal totaled 13 points and six rebounds in his first 16 minutes on the floor. By the time he cooled off, the Celtics had already built a 20-point lead and were coasting to victory.
3. Welcome back, Delonte: Within a minute of his re-debut, Delonte West worked his way under the basket, drew a defender and found an open Pierce for 3. It was skilled, smart basketball — exactly the type of play the C’s are hoping to get all season long from the backup guard.
West had a personal 5-0 run against the Wizards in the fourth quarter, giving him 12 points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal and a block on the night. Not bad for a guy coming off a 10-game suspension.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG
1. Boxing out: Sounds easy enough, but the Celtics apparently didn’t feel like doing it in the first half. On one play, the C’s ran up the court, leaving the ball behind for the Wizards to clean up and score an easy bucket.
The C’s actually out-rebounded the Wizards on the night, 40-36, but 18 of Washington’s 36 boards came on the offensive glass. Javale McGee led the effort, grabbing six offensive boards and 10 total.
2. Semih awkward: After showing flashes of brilliance in his first 10 games, Semih Erden fell back to earth a bit against the Wizards. Facing a tough interior defender in Javale McGee, Erden got into early foul trouble, picking up four personals in his first six minutes on the floor.
It may have been his nagging shoulder bothering him, but Erden (3 turnovers) didn’t seem to have the sure hands that made him so effective in his first 10 appearances.
With that being said, his ability to score inside and knock down free throws put nine points on the board for the Celtics.
3. All quiet on the West front: This one falls more on the Celtics crowd. After playing for some woeful teams in Boston and being traded as part of the deal that brought Ray Allen — and subsequently an NBA championship — to the city three years ago, Delonte West returned to the Garden in a Celtics uniform on Wednesday night.
Yet, when West entered the game, the crowd reacted as if Lester Hudson was returning to the building (which he did), giving a half-hearted ovation. They cheered louder when the Noise Meter popped up on the Jumbotron.
Generally, Boston crowds deliver in those moments — one reason they’re considered great fans — but they missed the boat on that one.
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