|12.18.09 at 11:37 am ET|
What a wonderful thing hindsight can be. In the summer of 2007, the Celtics traded most of their accumulated young talent and assets to acquire Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. This bold action by Danny Ainge has obviously proved to be brilliant thanks to a championship and two-plus years of contention. It seems obvious now, but at the time there was concern that Ainge had given away the store for a couple of vets with a lot of mileage on their odometers, even vets whose final destination was the Hall of Fame.
In the summer of 2008, new Sixers general manager Ed Stefansi thought he had also pulled off a brilliant coup by signing free agent Elton Brand to a massive five-year contract. It seemed obvious then that adding an automatic low-post scorer to a young, athletic, perimeter-oriented team would be a difference-maker. Less then two years in, Stefanski’s power play has proven dubious at best, and franchise-wrecking at worst.
So dubious that Stefanski was compelled to hire Allen Iverson for one last go-round in a desperate attempt to boost attendance. After a sold-out debut, the fans have stayed away and Iverson is hurt after playing too many minutes too fast. Now the Sixers are just another bad NBA team with too many bad contracts and no direction.
CELTICS (20-4, 10-0 last 10)
Points Per Game: 100.8
Points Allowed: 91.2
Differential: +9.6 (First)
Offensive Efficiency: 110.0 (Ninth)
Defensive Efficiency: 99.4 (First)
Pace: 91.3 (24th)
SIXERS (6-19, 1-9 last 10)
Points Per Game: 97.2
Points Allowed: 101.6
Differential: – 4.4 (26th)
Offensive Efficiency: 106. 7 (17th)
Defensive Efficiency: 111.4 (28th)
Pace: 90.8 (27th)
Key Matchup: Allen and Pierce vs. Iguodala and Young
One of the side effects of the Brand signing is that Iguodala was forced to slide down to the off-guard position and Young to the small forward spot. During their short time together, Iguodala and Young have proven far more capable as forwards, albeit undersized forwards. Brand changed that dynamic and while it’s not his fault that his general manager didn’t understand his own team’s dynamic, it has proven to be an ill fit. Still, Iguodala and Young are a tough matchup for whoever draws the assignment.
Celtics in a Paragraph: The regular season is a process. A long, slow, drawn-out process. Right now the Celtics are playing their best basketball of the season, and have a nice stretch of spread-out home games to continue their winning ways before embarking on a west coast road trip with a stopover in Orlando on Christmas Day. Until then their enemy is the process.
Sixers in a Paragraph: For all that is wrong with Philly, there is one thing they do well and that one thing has proven to be the Celtics Achilles heel — offensive rebounding. Keep the Sixers off the offensive glass and there isn’t much left in their bag of tricks. Philly racked up 12 offensive rebounds in its last meeting with the Celtics, which helped the Sixers stay in the game until Rondo took over in the fourth quarter.
What to Watch For: In one of the more bizarre subplots of the NBA season, three of the Celtics four losses have come at home on Friday nights. It’s not much to go on if you’re the Sixers, but it beats hoping Holiday can keep up with Rondo.
|12.17.09 at 5:20 pm ET|
On Saturday, December 19 Ray Allen will be participating in a Giving Tree event at the Natick Collection.
Beginning at 10am, shoppers may select an ornament from the tree, located in the Infinity Pool Court. Each ornament includes the wish list of a child from the Boys and Girls Club of Boston’s Jordan Club in Chelsea and the Boston Centers for Youth and Families.
Allen will sign autographs for Giving Tree shoppers from 4pm to 6pm to show his appreciation of their generosity.
‘Not only am I trying to give back, I’m encouraging people to give back,’ Allen said. ‘And people are doing it, it’s not like it’s for me, but it’s a way to help. We’ve all been that child that hasn’t gotten what we wanted for Christmas. So if we can try to step into the community and try to find kids and try to make their wishes come true, the giving part is the best part of the holidays. I like to be on that end of it.’
|12.17.09 at 5:20 pm ET|
Danny Ainge joined the Big Show for his weekly call. He talked to the guys about Rajon Rondo’s maturation, Paul Pierce’s growth and the plan for Glen Davis to return. Ainge also told the guys that the Celtics had internal discussions about Allen Iverson, but that the timing wasn’t right.
The team keeps rolling on, so all that hoopla and fear when the team struggled for a week is all in the rear-view mirror now?
The team is playing well and we’re still not on all cylinders. We’re not playing great, but we’re finding ways to win and I’m happy with the way the tram is playing. I like our team chemistry and I think Doc [Rivers] is doing a magnificent job with the guys. We saw Rasheed really coming along and fitting in and getting into the low post and doing some damage. Our defense has picked up recently. We’re still not rebounding the ball well enough, but the team is doing well.
Let’s talk about Rajon Rondo. You defended him earlier in the year and you thought he was doing better than [we] thought. He seems to have more confidence in his shot. Do you see him expanding his game?
Rondo, the shot, I don’t really think that much about it. I like that he’s taking it with confidence. I like it when he’s playing free. For me it’s so much more. Arguably he’s the most valuable player on our team.
Notice you said that after you signed him.
Right. You know what? I’ve been saying that since we signed him. He’s playing as good these last 10 or 12 games or so as he’s played in his career.
Getting back to the shot. It’s not a huge concern because of all the other things that he does. But the fact that he’s taking it, is now forcing teams to play him a little bit differently. Make sense?
Well yeah, but I’m not sure they’re going to play him differently until he makes it consistently over a sustained period of time. First, the alternative of him shooting shots instead of taking it to the rim because he’s so dynamic going to the basket and getting in the paint, running along the baseline and creating havoc. So, I think it’s not just because he doesn’t shoot the ball great from the outside that teams play him the way they do. They’ve got to prevent him from getting into the paint and penetrating on their defense. Teams will continue to play him like that. His confidence will grow. He’ll have really good shooting stretches, not so good shooting stretches, like most shooters.
I’m just excited about how hard he’s playing. He seems so confident and so in control. There seems to be a trust with him and the players and with Doc. Maybe the contract situation freed him up and he’s maturing a little bit. Read the rest of this entry »
|12.17.09 at 10:44 am ET|
Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan to talk about what the Celtics still need to do better, whether he holds his breath when Kevin Garnett goes up for an alley-oop and which teams in the East give the Celtics the most trouble. Doc also tells the guys how good Rajon Rondo has been this year.
Is this a good time for a break or would you rather keep playing?
It’s the way our schedule has worked out. We’ve had a couple of these and done pretty well with these so far, so we’ll see.
I would love to do it, if you had a team that’s 12 deep and all that. I don’t think you should ever not do it, if you have an opportunity to do it. As long as you’re not taxing your guys. Having said that, I agree with Steve Kerr. I can’t see anyone ever breaking that. People forget that year that they actually had one game where they were up by 18 against Dallas and the second unit came in and lost the lead and Phil Jackson refused to put the starters back in. They lost that game and could have had one more win.
If you did break that record, does that mean that you would have to win the championship, or you would go down as one of the greatest postseason disappointments?
When you do that, obviously, you’ve proven that for the regular season that you’re the best team. Where I think it’s different than football — one game can upset you. You can also get a bad matchup in basketball that can affect you. Having said that, if you win 72 games you’re probably going to win it. Most likely.
No, I did early on. I don’t anymore. I think Kevin’s fine. Early on in the first couple of weeks of the season, and even in preseason especially, whenever he left his feet I was his concerned. Now that’s all gone. They have it down pretty well, obviously, so I have no problem with it. Read the rest of this entry »
|12.17.09 at 7:58 am ET|
1. Boston (2): Think about this for a second: Kendrick Perkins is making 65 percent of his field goals. Perk actually shoots better from the field than the line, and although I can’t precisely remember each of his 174 field goal attempts this year, I don’t remember a single bad shot from the Celtics center. The other four starters get more attention, but Perk is the perfect symbol for why this team is great: He’s not afraid to lean on you and play shut-down defense, but he also can efficiently outscore you.
2. LA Lakers (1): This team knows entertainment value: Ron Artest does interviews in his boxers and sticks up for Tiger Woods; Lamar Odom still is keeping up with Khloe (I guess I’m an optimist ‘ I actually think they’ll make it); and Kobe Bryant breaks a finger and hits a shot at the buzzer to win in Milwaukee. We’ll know a lot more about the Lakers when they finish this current 10-game stretch, which includes seven roadies.
3. Orlando (3): I love all the Dwight Howard double-double stats. The Magic have played 25 games this year and Howard already has 20 double-doubles, including three games with 20 or more rebounds. I can’t wait to see the Magic-Celtics rematch on Christmas.
4. Atlanta (5): Interesting opinion from Brian Scalabrine: When asked which team in the league poses the biggest threat to the Celtics, he said the Hawks.
5. Dallas (6): This is how much we take the skill level of the modern player for granted: We watch 7-footers like Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett easily run up and down the court, draining jumpers, and think nothing of it. This is NOT normal. Both of these guys are freaks. I don’t give Rick Pitino props for much (and I certainly wouldn’t want to share a late-night meal with him at an Italian restaurant in Kentucky), but he was crazy about Dirk and thought the Celtics had him on the night of the 1998 draft. But Paul Pierce wasn’t a bad consolation prize.
6. Denver (4): Carmelo Anthony is an unstoppable scoring force, but Denver has to be nervous about Chauncey Billups‘ groin injury. The Nuggets have dealt with nicks and suspensions all year, but they’ll tumble if they don’t have Billups for a few weeks.
|12.16.09 at 11:08 pm ET|
Celtics rookie Lester Hudson scored a game-high 25 points in his NBDL debut as the Maine Red Claws defeated the Erie BayHawks, 81-77, on Wednesday night. Hudson, who was assigned to the NBA Development League on Tuesday, premiered with an impressive stat line: 8-19 FG, 4-9 3PG, 5-6 FT, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 block. He had previously scored a total of 11 points in 13 games with the Cs.
Hudson was assisted by fellow Celtic Bill Walker. The forward scored 16 points off of 7-for-18 shooting and grabbed six boards. Walker entered the game leading the Red Claws in scoring and rebounding.
Just as the Celtics are riding a winning streak, the Red Claws have won their last six games.
|12.15.09 at 1:08 pm ET|
‘He’s on a very good team where it’s very difficult to get minutes, but that hasn’t sidetracked his work,’ Doc Rivers told the Boston Herald prior to Monday’s Celtics-Grizzlies game. ‘We’re going to send him down pretty soon to the NBDL for a week or so to get him some games, because I don’t like our young guys going these long stretches without playing games. And then we’re going to bring him back. I think that will help him.’
Celtics forward Bill Walker was assigned to their D-League affiliate earlier in the season.
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