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Grousbeck: Green days for C’s

11.06.09 at 1:05 am ET
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Are the Green concerned about their greenbacks?

That financial question was raised in a recent article on Yahoo! Sports, which suggested co-owner Wyc Grousbeck’s consideration of suspending injured Glen Davis had less to do with discipline and more to do with money.

Just months after signing a two-year deal worth over $6 million, Davis broke his thumb fighting a childhood friend and will be sidelined for at least six weeks. Reports then surfaced that the team was looking to take back some of the salary. Days after the Davis episode subsided, the Celtics committed $55 million to Rajon Rondo over the next five years.

Coupling the money owed to an injured Davis with their recent spending spree on Rondo, is Grousbeck concerned about the team’s finances? Quite the opposite. In fact, the Celtics are on a record-setting pace for revenue as they feature a reloaded team contending for another trophy.

“On the contrary, we are on course to set a new record for revenues thanks to our fantastic fan support and support from our sponsors and broadcast partners,” Grousbeck told WEEI.com via email. “We appreciate everything they have done to support the team.”

Rondo’s new deal is a major financial obligation for a team who already has over $32 million tied up with starters Rondo, Kevin Garnett, and Kendrick Perkins next season alone. Next summer they will face Paul Pierce‘s $21.5 million player option and will also have to address Ray Allen‘s unrestricted free agency.

That’s just the starting lineup. The Celtics will also face the question of building their bench as role players including Marquis DanielsEddie HouseBrian ScalabrineTony Allen, and Shelden Williams have expiring contracts.

The new-look Celts have been nothing short of a hit sensation. They are off to a 6-0 start two years removed from their 17th title and one year removed from reaching the Eastern Conference Semifinals with an undermanned/overachieving team.

And regardless of their upcoming financial commitments, Grousbeck remains confident the organization is prepared to continue its pursuit for another championship.

Said Grousbeck, “I thank the fans and sponsors and will do everything I can to keep a winning team on the floor.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett

Doc Rivers on D&C, 11/5

11.05.09 at 10:34 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan to talk about how important his bench has been, the now-infamous Rajon Rondo vs. Chris Paul tiff, how getting more sleep has helped the Celtics, and his problems with Tim Donaghy.

Does it bother you when people start talking about winning 70 games?

No, it’s unrealistic, but it’s talk and people can talk about it, obviously. But it’s not what we’re focused on, I can tell you that.

On the Minnesota game:

You could see it early on, it was just one of those nights. Nothing was going for us. It didn’t look like we had legs, which happens during the year. Rasheed Wallace, Eddie [House] and Ray [Allen] were wide open on a lot of shots and some of them weren’t even close, so you knew it was one of those nights. Sometimes it’s a good thing when you can win with that, especially down the stretch, the last two or three defensive possessions we held them from scoring, it’s a good sign for your team.

Is it difficult to keep focus?

It’s not difficult at all because we have so many things to do defensively. We have things to do to get better offensively. We have yet to put in things. We’re not getting to the third and fourth options because we just don’t know them well enough yet, so we have a ton of work to do. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: D+C, Doc Rivers,

NBA Power Rankings 11/5

11.05.09 at 8:55 am ET
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Boston Celtics1. KG is still his intense and profane self on the court, but I always look forward to his unpredictable compliments to postgame interviewers. My favorite so far is KG hugging Cheryl Miller and saying, “You smell good, girl.”

Denver Nuggets2. Can anyone tell me why Ty Lawson had to sit and watch 10 other guards’ names called before his on draft night? What a steal for the Nuggets.

Los Angeles Lakers3. I like watching young Andrew Bynum play. I really do. What I hate is hearing some Lakers fans talk about him. Listen to them and you’d think the guy is the next Kareem.

Orlando Magic4. We spent the offseason talking about the additions the Cavaliers and Celtics made, but the Magic’s acquisition of Matt Barnes was one of the smartest pickups of the summer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: power rankings,

Fast Break: Celtics – Timberwolves

11.04.09 at 10:42 pm ET
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Celtics 76ers BasketballPlaying in front of a sea of No. 5 jerseys, the Timberwolves were determined to prove themselves against Kevin Garnett and the Celtics. But in the end it was Garnett himself who forced a jumball to secure a 92-90 win for the Celtics, in Minnesota.

Player of the game: Rajon Rondo was outplayed by rookie Jonny Flynn in the first half, scoring just two points. Then he turned it on in the third quarter. Rondo posted 14 points in the third to bring the Celtics back into the game. He didn’t just put the ball in the hoop – he baffled the Timberwolves defense, fought to get open, and burned his opponents with quick-thinking plays at the basket. Rondo finished the night with 18 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds, and 3 steals.

Turning point of the game: With over 10 lead changes in this game, the deciding play came with 3.6 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Up 92-90, the Celtics were fighting to fend off the Timberwolves game-winning/tying attempt. Garnett forced the jumpball against a driving Corey Brewer and eventually iced the victory for the Celtics.

* Big men dominated the first quarter. Al Jefferson led all scorers with 13 points (6-10 FG) while Kendrick Perkins led the Celtics with a perfect 4-for-4 from the field (8 points).

* Rasheed Wallace added another T to his resume when he got whistled for a technical from the Celtics bench during the second quarter. It was reminiscent of Sam Cassell getting ejected from the sidelines last season without ever actually playing in the game.

* The Celtics were outrebounded 21-16 in the first half. Pierce was the only starter without a board in the first two quarters. Ryan Gomes, on the other hand, had five for the Timberwolves at the three-spot.

* Even though Rondo had the hot hand coming out of halftime, Doc Rivers played up the Celtics strengths and subbed in House at the end of the quarter. The strategy paid off as a well-defended Pierce kicked the ball off to House for the game-tying three as time expired in the quarter. The Celtics carried that momentum into the fourth.

* Kevin Garnett recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. It was his first since opening night against the Cavaliers (13 points, 10 rebounds).

* Timberwolves big man Oleksiy Pecherov made a name for himself with 24 points (9-14 FG) to lead all scorers.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo,

Danny Ainge on the Big Show

11.04.09 at 5:30 pm ET
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Danny Ainge joined the guys on the Big Show to talk about the Celtics hot start, Rajon Rondo’s new contract and what was up with the league’s investigation of the Rondo-Chris Paul tiff from Sunday. Ainge also had some interesting things to say about Allen Iverson, the 2010 free agent market and whether winning 72 games is even a concern.

Here’s the slightly-edited for clarity transcript:

On the team’s fast start:

Ainge: It’s been great, our defense has been excellent, and our shooting, we’ve been making shots every night. It’s been Paul [Pierce] plus one, or Paul plus two or three guys. I think we can even play better.

Did you expect out of the gate that the bench players would be playing significant minutes and playing the same as your first team?

The only surprise has been Glen Davis not playing and Shelden [Williams] stepping up and he had a couple of double-digit rebound games and three double-digit scoring games. So that’s been a big boost for us. As far as everybody else, I knew there would be games when Rasheed [Wallace] would be hot and Eddie [House] would be hot. Marquis [Daniels] is just a good solid, player. He can defend and pass. I guess I expected that. I also think our starters can play better than they’re playing, so that’s very encouraging. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Big Show, Danny Ainge, Rajon Rondo,

Stat geekery: KG rules

11.04.09 at 10:46 am ET
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Another day another stat geek model (stat geek is a term of endearment). This one comes courtesy of Joe Sill at Hoopnumbers, who describes himself as an analytics consultant from Chicago. Sill has a PhD in Computation and Neural Systems from Cal Tech and a BS in Applied Math from Yale, so he’s a pretty smart dude.

Sill works in the field of Adjusted +/-, which is a system that has drawn some attention due to its orginators Wayne Winston and Jeff Sagarin and their work with the Dallas Mavericks. In layman’s terms, Simple +/- ratings, which can be found in most online box scores, account for how many points a team is better or worse with an individual player on the floor. For example, Marquis Daniels was +31 against Philly Tuesday night.

Simple +/- doesn’t factor in context, which is where Adjusted +/- comes into play. (If you want to see the math, see Joe’s page explaining his concepts). Adjusted +/- is said to be “noisy,” which means you might get some odd results over a short period of time, but it’s an interesting concept and it’s getting more and more play in NBA front offices.

The takeway from Sill’s analysis over the last three years, which he calls Regularized Adjusted +/- (RAPM) is that Kevin Garnett grades out the highest of any NBA player, and by a fairly wide margin. The second-highest ranked Celtic is Rajon Rondo, followed by Paul Pierce and then Ray Allen. Interestingly, Allen graded out highest last season on the Celtics.

A good rule of thumb for advanced NBA metrics is that they are a useful way to help tell a story. John Hollinger’s PER rating, for example, is a number derived strictly from the box score and he will tell you that it doesn’t account for individual defense beyond getting numbers like steals, blocks and rebounds. It’s a piece of the puzzle, but not the whole puzzle.

As yet, no one has advanced a truly credible single number that completely explains performance, like VORP in baseball, and there’s a strong thought in the stat community that it may be impossible to find such a number in basketball analysis.

With that in mind, what Sill’s numbers might tell us is that Garnett is far and away the “most valuable” Celtic in ways that don’t necessarily show up in the box score and that Allen had something of a late-career renaissance last season. We saw that manifest itself on the floor last season, especially when Garnett was not on the floor, so the numbers make intuitive sense.

(Hat tip to basketball-reference’s layups blog for directing me to Sill’s site, Hoopnumbers)

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Stat Geeks,

Fast break: Celtics-Sixers

11.03.09 at 9:26 pm ET
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The Celtics improved to 5-0 on the young season with a 105-74 win over the Sixers Tuesday night in Philadelphia. It was the Celtics first game against an Atlantic Division foe and while they struggled offensively at times they remained dominant defensively, holding Philly to 36 percent shooting and 1-for-16 from 3-point range.

The Celtics broke it open in the fourth quarter with 23-5 run, which gave Lester Hudson, JR Giddens and Brian Scalabrine ample time to work on their games. The trio scored 13 points. Philly’s leading scorer, Andre Iguodala scored 17. It was that kind of night.

Player of the game: Rasheed Wallace. Philly’s favorite son shot the Celtics into the lead with three first half 3-pointers and broke it open with three more in the second half. Wallace finished with 20 points and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes of action.

Turning point: It was late in the first quarter and the Celtics were having a miserable time of it offensively. They had scored points on just two of their first 15 possessions and weren’t running anything resembling an offense. That’s when Rajon Rondo popped a 20-foot jumper. The second unit came in soon after that and the hot shooting of Wallace, Eddie House and Marquis Daniels opened up a double-digit lead.

Rondo’s shot was a minor blip in that run, but further confirmation that he has more confidence in his jumper.

* According to the early box score, Marquis Daniels was an unadjusted +21 for the Celtics. What that means in layman’s terms is that the Celtics were 15 points better than Philly when Daniels was on the floor. Unadjusted +/- is not a very reliable indicator of performance over time, but it helps reveal Daniels’ contribution in a way that six points, three rebounds and four assists never will.

* In theory you don’t need a true point guard to run the Princeton offense that new Philly coach Eddie Jordan is employing. That’s good news for Philly because Lou Williams is a lot of things, but a true point isn’t one of them. What you do need are willing passers, good shooters and movement away from the ball. The Sixers had none of that.

* The Celtics opened the fourth quarter with a 69-54 lead. That’s a comfortable margin, but it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see the starters back on the floor at some point to finish it off. Instead, the bench pushed the lead to 33 points and the starters never had to take off their warmups again. Those kinds of unexpected gifts are invaluable over the course of the season.

* Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins were a combined 4-for-18. Everyone else was 37-for-54. Frightening.

Read More: Celtics, Fast Break, Sixers,
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