|11.24.09 at 10:28 pm ET|
At 7:30 p.m., the Celtics (10-4) will play host to the 76ers (5-9) in a collision of two teams that have been struggling of late ‘ though Philly’s struggles suggest more far-reaching problems than do Boston’s. Despite the skewed skill levels, records and anything else that might separate a 10th-place Philly team from a playoff-bound Boston club, Friday night’s game carries a decent amount of intrigue ‘ especially from the Boston perspective.
Of late, the Celtics have seemingly lost some of the swagger that they displayed during a 6-0 start. After dropping two straight to the Hawks and Pacers, Boston seemed to get back on track against Golden State in what was a pretty convincing win. But another slip-up against the Magic and an overtime buzzer-beating win against the 3-10 Knicks have made it appear that the Celtics are not in sync.
Center Kendrick Perkins attributed it to a lack of focus. But regardless of what’s been plaguing them, the Celtics need to improve ‘ and what better team to straighten things out against then the 76ers? Read the rest of this entry »
|11.24.09 at 6:09 pm ET|
Celtics Executive Director of Basketball Operations and GM Danny Ainge joined the Big Show on Tuesday to discuss the Celtics’ recent play, the development of Rajon Rondo, the three-point difficulties of Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett’s recovery from injury. To listen to the interview, visit the Big Show’s Audio On Demand page.
Do you think the team’s recent play has anything to do with the fact the players are getting older?
I don’t think so, no. I think our team has played well in a lot of scenarios and I just think that we haven’t been as consistent. But, shooting the ball accounts for a lot. We haven’t been hitting a lot of fairways but we have been hitting a lot of puts. Right now we are a shot of two shots away from winning these games and we have been shooting the ball very poorly from the outside.
You can’t be happy with the defense thus far though?
No, I have been happy with the defense we’ve played in a lot of the stretch but I think we get sloppy and we get lazy and we lose our focus a little bit. Defensively, statistically we were doing well defensively.
Two things that are worrying about Rondo: lack of defensive pressure at the point and that he is not breaking down the defense quite as much. Is this the same guy we saw last year?
I think he is playing better than last year. I think his defense is significantly better than last year. I think he is not getting to the line as much but I think part of that is that we are getting the ball inside more to our post players and not relying on his penetration as much but he is shooting a much better percentage than he did last year which says he is getting to the basket more, he is just not getting to the line more. Read the rest of this entry »
|11.24.09 at 4:35 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Tony Allen might finally be given the go-ahead to make his 2009-10 debut.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said following Tuesday’s practice that Allen, a 27-year-old defensive specialist, might finally have enough confidence in his healed left ankle that he can play at full game speed.
“I think he’s very close, as close that he may play [Wednesday],” Rivers said. “But I don’t know the answer yet. Wait till [Wednesday] and see how he feels.
“Tony looked good today,” Rivers said. “I think with him, it’s going to be a confidence thing. [Monday], I didn’t think he looked good. Today, I thought he looked terrific. He was exploding to the basket.”
The Celtics could use his athleticism off the bench to match that of the young 76ers, pressuring their backcourt of Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala. Tony Allen played in just one preseason game, playing eight minutes against the Knicks on Oct. 9. He missed both shots from the floor and was held scoreless.
|11.24.09 at 4:08 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Marquis Daniels knows the tough reputation of hockey players. They are the types who get 20 stitches after taking a puck to the face and miss one shift and are back on the ice.
So, when he was spotted again on Tuesday with heavy tape around his left [non-shooting] wrist, he made an appropriate cross-sport reference.
“It’s okay,” Daniels said with a smile. “I’m hockey player. I’m alright.”
But ask him how he injured the wrist and Daniels struggles to remember.
“I don’t even know,” Daniels said after Tuesday’s practice. “I just realized it after the Indiana game. I was like something doesn’t feel right. You’re going to get it hit out here. That’s why I keep tape on it, to keep it protected. I can’t skate. I’m not going to try. I’m from Florida, I don’t even like ice.”
“I actually don’t know the answer,” his coach Doc Rivers added. “He hurt it, I think, all the way back in preseason if I’m not mistaken. He does bandage it more in practice than in the games. But lately, he’s going to that more in the games. I don’t think it’s anything where he needs surgery or anything like that. But it must be bothering him some or he wouldn’t be wearing it.”
Daniels said he’s not worried that the wrist could limit his offensive punch.
“I shoot layups anyway so I’m okay,” he said, all the while smiling. “It’s nothing. I’m okay. I can play, I can run. I still have my legs. I can move. I’m alright.”
|11.24.09 at 3:30 pm ET|
“I know Doc said starting from the last game that we want to try to make a run all the way up until our Christmas game,” Kendrick Perkins said.
Perkins had 16 points and 13 rebounds on Sunday in New York. He is second on the team in rebounding behind Kevin Garnett and is averaging 10.5 points a game.
“We want to be on the right track. I know guys are locked in and focused right now. We’ve just got to stick together. It’s not always going to be great times through the season all the time so we just have to stick together.”
The Celtics improved to 10-4 by surviving an overtime scare on Sunday in New York to beat the Knicks, 107-105, on Garnett’s jumper at the buzzer. They play Philadelphia on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
|11.23.09 at 11:27 pm ET|
Kendrick Perkins leads the Celtics in blocked shots this season and also is one of the top swatters in the NBA. His 29 blocks through 14 games ranks him seventh overall in the league in blocks per game (2.07) and blocks per 48 minutes (3.73). He ranks third in total blocks among all NBA centers and second in the Eastern Conference.
Perkins gave WEEI.com a glimpse into the mind of a shot-blocker:
Good block, bad block: ‘A good block is when you can block a shot and keep it in play. A block, rebound, keep it in play where you get the possession. A bad block is when you block it and block it out of bounds and you’ve got to play defense all over again.’
Timing is everything: ‘Timing, you’ve got to read. I think you’ve got to read, see what’s going on. Sometimes you’ve got to judge whether or not you can actually block the shot. Is it worth trying to go and block it? So it’s all timing and decision making.’
Judgment call: ‘Well, you can tell if a guy’s out of position as far as just how he goes up, if he’s kind of capable of making the shot. If a guy goes up out of control, you kind of want to fall back and just wait for a rebound.’
Making the move: ‘When it leaves his hands, then you jump up.’
Perkins has used his judgment to make cautious decisions on defense. He leads all Eastern Conference centers in blocks per personal foul (.74). Perkins shows no signs of letting up this season, either. He is averaging a season-best 2.5 blocks per game on zero days’ rest.
|11.23.09 at 2:37 pm ET|
After 14 games, the Celtics are 10-4, comfortably in first place in their division and just one game behind the league leaders (Atlanta, Orlando and Phoenix, who all beat the Celtics in the last 10 days). The Celtics also have the NBA’s best point differential at +8.8, and point differential is a more reliable indicator than record.
Despite all that, something seems wrong with the Celtics, who needed overtime to get past a dreadful Knicks team and have lost three of their last five, with all three losses coming against the aforementioned teams with better records. So, what gives?
First, their record and point differential are skewed from the first five games of the season, when the C’s ran roughshod over the league and people started seriously considering 72 wins. The Celtics won the next game, 92-90, against Minnesota, but that’s when their play started to slip.
Point differential: +21.6
Points for: 101.4
Points against: 79.8
Point differential: +1.7
Point for: 96.7
Points against: 95
By far the biggest slip in terms of individual offensive numbers belongs to Rasheed Wallace, who made 15 of his first 33 3-point attempts through the first five games and has been 7-for-48 from beyond the arc ever since. Wallace has acknowledged that he’s in a slump, but the general consensus is that he is taking good shots and they’re just not falling for him. That happens. On the positive side, it has not affected Wallace’s defense.
Ray Allen has been a similar 3-point shooting slump, although not nearly as pronounced. Through five games, Allen was 9-for-21. He is 7-for-29 in the last nine. Despite shooting 32 percent from 3-point range, Allen has continued to be a productive offensive player by shooting 57 percent on his 2-point shots (60-for-106).
Digging a little bit deeper, 82games.com has Allen as the Celtics’ most productive player in terms of on-court plus/minus with Wallace second, so while their shooting slumps may account for the Celtics’ drop offensively, the real issue is a defense that went from giving up less than 80 points a night (a number that is skewed by holding Charlotte to 59 points) to one that is surrendering 95.
After we plow through the numbers on 82games.com, a few things stand out.
The C’s defense on jump shots is worse than last year (.433, 48.1 points per game vs. .417, 43.4 points per game) and they are also struggling defending teams at the end of the shot clock compared to last season (.491 compared to .447). This brings up something Doc Rivers said last week:
“Some of our defensive sets have been very good, and then with five seconds left on the clock the guy dribbling the ball gets all the way to the basket and that’s not just the guy guarding the ball.”
That speaks to effort, fatigue or just plain understanding the defensive system. It’s probably safe to rule out effort with this group, and “understanding the system” should work itself out in time, but it does explain Rivers saying that the team was “making stuff up” after the Orlando loss. That leaves fatigue, and it’s worth noting that the Celtics’ biggest wins during this stretch ‘ Utah and Golden State ‘ came after multiple days off.
That, in a nutshell, is what makes people wary about the Celtics come playoff time. The good news is that we are a long way from April, and most teams would love to struggle out of the gate at 10-4. To be sure, there are other issues, particularly a lack of offensive rebounding and fewer trips to the free throw line, but age will continue to be the dominant theme from here on out.
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