|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.
|11.17.10 at 7:03 pm ET|
The Celtics got some good news when Marquis Daniels returned to the team after being away from the team for personal reasons and will play tonight against the Wizards. Daniels was in the locker room, sitting at his locker as usual before the Celtics played the Wizards.
Doc Rivers was asked if it was difficult to throw Daniels back into the lineup after being away for two days. “We have no choice so I’m just going to throw him out there and see what he can give us and judge it once the game starts,” Rivers said. “Sometimes life gets involved and there’s nothing you can do about it, so we just kind of roll with it.”
The Celtics are welcoming back Delonte West, who will make his season debut after missing the first 10 games with a suspension. Rivers said he didn’t have a minutes number in mind, but that he would watch carefully. “Usually you have to watch one guy,” Rivers said. “You watch Shaq every night. Now you have Delonte and Marquis, that unit, you just have to watch how they’re functioning together as a group.
|11.17.10 at 11:38 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Regardless of the weapons charges, his subsequent suspension, his reported scuffle with Von Wafer, the only thing that matters now is this: Does Delonte West‘s presence in the lineup make the Celtics a better team?
Since the Celtics traded him to Seatte three years ago, West played 185 games for the SuperSonics and Cleveland Cavaliers. In the same three seassons, those teams played a total of 143 games without him in the lineup — giving us a nice sample size to measure his value to a team. The results are fairly decisive …
With West: 117-68 (.632 winning percentage)
Without West: 75-68 (.525 winning percentage)
(NOTE: Because West was traded from Seattle to Cleveland midway through the 2007-08 season, those teams played 103 games without him.)
In 57 games off the bench for the Cavs last season, West averaged 9.0 points, 3.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 0.9 steals in 25.8 minutes while shooting 45.4 percent from the field, 33.8 from 3-point range and 82.5 percent from the free-throw line.
Outside of Glen Davis, those numbers are better than any other Celtics reserve this season — regardless of position. In fact, ever since they sent him to Seattle in the Ray Allen deal, the C’s have been searching for a guy like West, who can both spell Rajon Rondo at the point and assume a scoring load on the second unit.
The Celtics signed Sam Cassell in 2007-08 and Stephon Marbury in 2008-09 before trading for Nate Robinson last season. Let’s see how their contributions to the C’s compared to West’s production off the bench for the Cavaliers last season (leader in bold) …
- 2009-10 West (57 games): 25.8 minutes, 9.0 points, 3.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 45.4 FG%, 33.8 3-PT FG% and 82.5 FT%.
- 2009-10 Robinson (26 games): 14.7 minutes, 6.5 points, 2.0 assists, 1.5 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 40.1 FG%, 41.4 3-PT FG% and 61.5 FT%.
- 2008-09 Marbury (23 games): 18.0 minutes, 3.8 points, 3.3 assists, 1.2 rebounds, 0.4 steals, 34.2 FG%, 24.0 3-PT FG% and 46.2 FT%.
- 2007-08 Cassell (17 games): 17.6 minutes, 7.6 points, 2.1 assists, 1.8 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 38.5 FG%, 40.9 3-PT FG% and 84.0 FT%.
In terms of plus/minus, Robinson was a minus-53 last season when he was on the floor for the Celtics. IN 2008-09, Marbury was a minus-28. In 2007-08, Cassell was just a plus-17. Meanwhile, West was a plus-731 over the last three years. Essentially, with him on the floor, his teams have outscored opponents by an average of 4.0 points a game.
Clearly, West offers the C’s best option at guard off the bench in the Big Three era.
(For the record, my favorite line from the video that accompanies this blog is obviously: “You’d better have my doughnuts.” I’m going to start saying that to everybody I work with.)
RAY ALLEN SEPARATES CELTICS
The difference between the Celtics and Miami Heat, according to Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thompsen? Ray Allen. Despite being considered the fourth man on the C’s new Big Four, the 35-year-old shooting guard ranks second on the team in minutes (39.7, behind Rondo at 41.1) and points (18.8, behind Paul Pierce at 21.0) while shooting a blistering 45.9 percent from 3-point land.
“I know how to manage being part of the team and being productive,” Allen told SI. “You can never let it slip. Like you can’t say, ‘OK, I’m going to just take it by the wayside [and relax].’ You’ve still got to get your shots up and take care of your body and make sure you’re eating right and sleeping right. The minute you start thinking, ‘Well, I don’t want to do this anymore,’ or you start slowing down, then that’s when your game slows down and people start giving you less responsibility.”
Averaging 2.8 3-pointers per game this season, Allen is just 89 treys away from breaking Reggie Miller‘s all-time record. At the rate he’s going this fall, he’ll break the mark around the All-Star break. Just for fun, let’s take a loot at Allen vs. Miller at age 35 …
- Allen: 39.7 minutes, 18.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 47.9 FG%, 45.9 3-PT FG% and 91.7 FT%.
- Miller: 39.3 minutes, 18.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 44.0 FG%, 36.6 3-PT FG% and 92.8 FT%.
MEET JOHN WALL
If Wall is anything like Rondo, though, he’ll play, just to guage his level of play against one of the best point guards in the leagu — even if he doesn’t consider Rondo among the NBA‘s elite.
If you’ll recall, in Grant Wahl‘s Sports Illustrated piece on Wall as a freshman at the University of Kentucky, he listed “today’s gold standard: Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose.” Absent from the list was Rondo — the only guy to also play at Kentucky.
Speaking of the two point guards, in ESPN’s NBA Awards Watch, Rondo currently ranks second in the MVP race, while Wall ranks first among Rookie of the Year candidates.
HOW THE WEST WOULD BE WON
Well, we started with Delonte West, and we’ll end with him. While reintroducing West to Boston fans, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recall the romantic advice he gave to ESPN’s Page 2 during his previous tenure in the city. Here are a few highlights …
“So, I pick her up in my white convertible. From there, I’d have the music pumping on the radio. The Jim Jones pumping, you know, ‘Summer in Miami’ pumping. Got to keep a little gangsta; you can’t be too soft. You can’t be in there playing some guy that’s crying, talking about don’t leave me and love me baby, wah wah and all that. So Jim Jones pumping and then from there, wind blowing through the hair, boom, we get straight to the point — we eat afterwards because I don’t want to kiss no onions. I don’t want to kiss you tasting like onions and steak and mushrooms and everything.”
“We’re going to my yacht. We’ll pull up at the docks and got a guy waiting for us, open our door up and we walk down a lit-up dock and onto the yacht, where we have dinner set up on the boat and we just cruise out on the water. Sit down and have some dinner, some shrimps and steaks, keep it nice and breezy. Pop some bottles, some Moet Rose. The red Moet, we ain’t popping no Kristal, it tastes like urination. We ain’t popping no Kris, that’s $500 a bottle. It ain’t that serious. It ain’t going to get you drunk. Make sure you put that in there. We ain’t doing a $500 bottle, we’re doing a $99 wine and dine.”
“One more thing: When we’re on the yacht eating, we’re going to have some Popeye’s chicken. That’s for dinner. It’s to let her know, put a mental image on her mind, first and foremost, if you ain’t from the hood, you don’t like Popeye’s chicken. Everyone there loves Popeye’s chicken and the biscuits — phew. But that’s just getting it on her mind, saying, you know, ‘Yeah, I can wine and dine you, but I’m a little rough around the edges and I’m keeping it real with you. I can be romantic, but this is real, we’re going to eat some chicken tonight. Chicken and biscuits.'”
“OK, so from there, we’re doing a midnight skinny-dipping jump. Alright? From there, hopefully she’s got money because I hope Jaws gets her, boom, make sure she got me in the will, bank, I’m good. Oh well, shark got her! Jaws got her.”
So, let me get this straight: The perfect romantic night is a pre-onions hookup followed by a Popeye’s chicken and biscuits dinner with Moet Rose (not Kristal, because it tastes like urination) and, finally, a skinny-dipping expedition where your date hopefully gets eaten by a shark. Got it.
Actually, I think if you follow the exact opposite of West’s advice, you’ll be good.
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|11.16.10 at 11:56 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
I’m shocked, shocked to find what MTV is doing here! Teen Wolf as a lacrosse player? If you’re going to remake one of the finest achievements in cinematic history, stay true to the story.
Teen Wolf was a basketball player, and at 5-foot-4 maybe the best pound-for-pound baller in the history of the sport. How the legendary 1985 film wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award alongside “Out of Africa”, “The Color Purple” and “Prizzi’s Honor” is beyond me.
The crescendo of the film revolved around basketball, as Michael J. Fox decided to play as just another member of his team rather than as the dominating Teen Wolf. It was downright Celtics-esque, with Fox assuming the role of Rajon Rondo (I guess that would make Shaquille O’Neal “Fat Boy”, Kevin Garnett “No. 45”, Paul Pierce as “No. 33” and Doc Rivers “Coach Finstock”).
It’s the very essence of the C’s success of the 1980s and 2000s: Forego individual greatness for team glory. Michael J. Fox‘s workmanlike performance in the championship is game film that every NBA coach worth his weight in championship rings should dissect with his starting point guard every offseason. And MTV is attempting to destroy it. I say: Over my dead body.
So, I give you Fox’s Rondo-like effort in the infamous “Win in the End” montage …
YOUR DAILY SHAQ UPDATE
Believe it or not, Shaquille O’Neal made news again. It’s why he made WEEI.com’s Most Interesting Person in Boston Sports list.
In an interview with USA Today, Shaq discussed — among other things — his pre-retirement home and why he joined the “old and musty” Celtics …
“It’s nice and peaceful,” he said of living in Sudbury. “It’s good for an old man to just chill out. I’ve got a nice little chair. I see wild turkeys and fox and coyotes on my grass. I’m loving it.”
Can’t you just picture Shaq, sipping a warm cup of cocoa out on his porch, rocking back and forth in his rocking chair, looking out on his Sudbury farm? Perhaps he thinks of how the Celtics defeated his Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season …
“Kevin kicked it to Paul, Paul kicked it to Ray. They played liked a team,” O’Neal said. “They have three first-ballot Hall of Famers on the team. They didn’t care who had all the points. It was beautiful to watch.”
Or perhaps, as he did in the USA Today article, he considers the irony of finishing his career in Boston for a team he once called “old and musty” 1y years ago in the book “Shaq Attaq!” …
“What comes around goes around,” said O’Neal. “Now, I’m old and musty.”
I think I could listen to Shaq’s thoughts from his “nice little chair” on his Sudbury farm all day long. May I suggest a podcast, a la Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s fireside chats? It would be a constant stream of gems on basketball, politics and life, like this response to a question about why NBA players don’t want to play in Canada from a recent interview with AskMen.com.
“It’s the double taxes that deter players from going there. Also [Chris] Bosh obviously couldn’t handle the pressure, so he had to go join two other people to help him out. Listen to what I tell you: Toronto is in the top three NBA cities for every NBA player. Trust me on that, brother.”
HOW TO STOP RAJON RONDO?
NBA Playbook believes the Dallas Mavericks discovered the blueprint for stopping Rondo. The reasoning? Dallas forced the C’s into their “worst shooting game (in terms of eFG%), worst performance when it came to getting to the line (7.7 FTR), worst shooting performance at the rim, and the least amount of 3-pointers attempted.”
It seems counterintuitive to think that the blueprint for stopping Rondo was executed in a game where he finished with 11 points, 15 assists and six rebounds, but NBA Playbook has its reasons –accompanied by video evidence. Without further ado …
SAGGED OFF RONDO/CHASED DEFENDERS: The Mavericks chased Boston’s shooters around screens and challenge shots hard. … This was a theme during this game. Boston averages around 13.5 3s per game this year; they took eight against Dallas.
Is there a team out there that doesn’t try to chase shooters around screens and challenge shots hard? And if there is, wouldn’t that just be bad defense? Challenging shots is the most fundamental defensive strategy out there.
SWITCHING SCREENS: The Mavericks did a whole lot of switching on screens with the goal being to keep Rondo out of the lane. … Most teams tend to go under screens rather than switch, because they don’t want to have to deal with mismatches. One of the reasons the Mavericks were able to switch screens is that they have Jason Kidd as their starting point guard. Kidd isn’t the fastest guy, but he’s big enough that when they switch there isn’t really a mismatch.
Doesn’t this depend on who Kidd is switching with? Sure, if Allen sets the pick, Kidd and DeShawn Stevenson could switch and avoid a mismatch. But if Garnett is setting the pick, that creates two mismatches: the bigger KG rolling to the basket against the smaller Kidd and the quicker Rondo on the perimeter against the slower Dirk Nowitzki.
TEAM EFFORT: Most teams play off of Rondo, and they don’t really commit double teams or other defenders to him. Since the Mavericks’ main focus was to keep Rondo out of the lane, they were willing to send multiple defenders at him to do so, and it worked out for the Mavs.
Double-teaming Rondo on his way into the lane is exactly what Rondo is hoping for — somebody open for an assist opportunity. If defenders sag from the wings, that leaves one of two 44 percent 3-point shooters (Allen or Pierce) open. If defenders step up from the post, that leaves either Garnett or O’Neal open for a lob opportunity.
In fact, the first video example of this strategy leaves a wide-open Garnett under the basket. While KG might’ve missed that attempt, I’m sure the Celtics will take an open layup every time.
FORCING THE PASSBACK: Because of the Mavericks’ team effort when trying to keep Rondo out of the lane, they have to give up something else. What they were willing to give up was the pass back to the elbow/foul line area.
As NBA Playbook notes, this strategy leaves guys like Garnett and Glen Davis open at the top of the key, and those two were a combined 6-of-11 from there in the Mavericks game.
All I’m saying is that the blueprint for stopping Rondo — and as a result the Celtics — is playing good, solid defense on the rest of the Celtics. Challenging outside shots, properly defending the pick and roll, keeping guys out of the lane and forcing big men to shoot jump shots isn’t a blueprint for stopping Rondo. It’s a blueprint for stopping any NBA team.
“The Celtics and the Lakers have fantastic histories, but there is no reason in the world that we can’t be as successful as those teams,” Lacob told the San Francisco Chronicle. “There is no reason that we can’t turn this into a championship contender.”
All Lacob expects is that the Warriors adopt the defense of the Celtics and the “Showtime” offense of the Lakeers. You know, no big deal. Sounds like a job for MacGruber rather than Gruber. …
“He is looking great,” McKeon told ESPN.com. “He’s keeping his weight down. He’s sticking to the proper diet. But it was a major surgery, and I always tell athletes that it could be 18 months before it’s the best that it can be.”
In Marc Stein‘s latest Power Rankings for ESPN.com, the C’s moved into the No. 1 spot — ahead of the unbeaten New Orleans Hornets and two-time defending champion Lakers. The reasoning? “The Celts’ only two losses came on the road on the second night of a back-to-back.” …
Not their finest effort, but any time The Onion takes on the Celtics it’s worth checking out. This time, they parodied Garnett and his defensive intensity:
“This is my house! You hear me? Mine! This is where I watch my TV and eat my cereal! Where I eat cereal every day!”
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|11.15.10 at 4:45 pm ET|
The Celtics don’t know how long Jermaine O’Neal will be out with his knee injury, but it will be measured in weeks, not days. “Two, three weeks would be a guestimate,” Doc Rivers said Monday. “We don’t know exactly. We’re going through a couple of more evaluations.”
O’Neal sought a second opinion in Miami on his injured left knee and didn’t travel with the team to Memphis for the last game on their road trip. Rivers said he hasn’t “heard the word ‘surgery,'” yet, but there’s still no real timetable on O’Neal’s return.
Shaquille O’Neal returned to the Celtics lineup and for now he and Semih Erden are playing 30-32 minutes a night in the post, while Glen Davis takes up the rest of the minutes. It’s not perfect, but the Celtics are hanging on for now with the arrangement.
“Semih and Shaq are playing through whatever they’re playing through,” Rivers said. “Semih’s shoulder and Shaq’s everything, really. It’s a concern but there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re not going to go out and get anyone else. There are not a lot of really good 7-footers walking the earth that are not signed in the NBA, so we just have to make do.”
The Celtics may also be without Marquis Daniels who missed practice and isn’t expected back Tuesday with what Rivers called a family issue. There is some doubt as to whether Daniels will be with the team Wednesday when they play the Wizards.
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