|10.23.13 at 4:10 pm ET|
Johnson, who coached the Nets for 2½ seasons and was dismissed shortly after the Celtics trounced Brooklyn last Christmas, will be adding a very distinct voice to the ESPN airwaves this season, sharing his insight every Wednesday on “NBA Countdown.”
In a one-on-one interview with WEEI.com, Johnson shared his thoughts on the state of the Celtics, as well as the Nets’ decision to go all-in.
‘This is a totally different year for the Celtics,’ Johnson said. ‘A lot of the pieces that were there last year, those guys are pretty much in the twilight and near the end of their careers. They still had a lot of great basketball in them and can carry a team during the regular season, but that was an aging team.’
Johnson, known as the ‘Little General’ during his playing career, believes the Celtics were never the same after Ray Allen‘s departure to Miami as a free agent last offseason.
‘The loss of Ray Allen was too much,’ Johnson said. ‘They never really were able to fill his shoes in terms of the great work he did on the court for the Celtics over the years during their championship runs.’
Similar to the beginning of his run with the Nets, a team that only won 24 games in 2011, Johnson sees a team in Boston with an uncertain future.
‘This was a team that needed to change,’ Johnson said. ‘Obviously we didn’t know the change would occur with Doc Rivers not being a part of it, but everything’s changed. Now the Celtics have a lot of pieces they’re still trying to figure out. They’re still working on how they’re going to play defensively and offensively, and where they’re going, not only now, but in the future.’
|10.23.13 at 2:26 pm ET|
Brad Stevens first noticed the magical nature of his slumber when he went nighty-night during Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. As Red Slox slugger David Ortiz drilled an eighth-inning, game-tying grand slam and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia lined a game-winning single against the Tigers, the Celtics coach drifted off to a bridge by a fountain where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies.
“I have to admit, I fell asleep at the end of the Red Sox game,” he admitted. “I’m sad to say that, but I woke up as they were celebrating. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I’m looking forward to watching the YouTube.”
All it took was one more sorcerous snooze to convince Stevens of his powers. As Shane Victorino lofted his go-ahead, seventh-inning grand slam in Game 6, the C’s skipper slipped into a spell set by actual flying Hawaiians.
“I’m absolutely embarrassed and ashamed to say that I fell asleep,” he accepted, “but I was really tired.”
And so goes the story of Brad Stevens’ wondrous siestas and their command of the miraculous 2013 Red Sox.
‘The key to the Red Sox is me falling asleep,” the anointed leader of leprechauns told The Boston Globe’s Baxter Holmes. “Because when I’m watching, it’s hard to score runs. When I’m asleep, magic occurs. It’s unbelievable.’
Seriously, no wonder the Celtics employ a sleep doctor. Their coach is a freaking human dreamweaver. Carlton Fisk‘s home run? Not even a zygote. Don Baylor and Dave Henderson‘s homers? Sound asleep in his Hoosiers pajamas. The Bill Buckner boner? Wide awake on Pop Rocks and Nerds. Pedro Martinez‘s no-hit relief appearance? Passed out at one of those epic Depauw University college parties you always read about. The Aaron Boone disaster? Glued to game film all night. The fall of 2004? Pulled a Rip Van Winkle.
Unfortunately, the C’s preseason finale coincides with Game 1 of the World Series, so it’s best to root for extra innings, granting Stevens ample time to hit the sack. Enter sandman, indeed. Maybe Leonardo DiCaprio and the fellas could induce this Inception directly in his Garden office. Just don’t forget to kick his chair into the bathtub when Xander Bogaerts touches home in the 11th. Same goes for the only other potential conflict, the Celtics’ season opener on Oct. 30. C’mon, admit it. You just don’t get this kind of Boston sports analysis anywhere else.
|10.23.13 at 1:15 pm ET|
‘I knew from the first moment that I talked to him that he was going to be a person that would think not just about what you’re doing but why you’re doing it, and that’s a good thing,” Stevens told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman in their SportsCenter conversation. “This is a great example. When you run a play, there are five guys in five spots, and most basketball players will go to their spot, they’ll do what they’re supposed to do, but they won’t know what the other four spots do, because they don’t understand why you’re doing it. He gets it all, and it’s no different in leading. It’s no different in how we’re coaching or running the organization. He understands the big picture, and I think it’s really important that we continue to share and talk about that, because he’s a big part of this.’
And let’s just say Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge looks at Rondo from a different angle.
“It’s hard to find the perfect situation for everybody,” he told CBSSports.com columnist Ken Berger. “It’s my job to build the Celtics, and Rondo is a big part of that. Will everything be as perfect as he would like it? I don’t believe so, but it’s not perfect for us, either, the fact that he can’t play. I think Rondo is with us. I think he likes a lot of the core guys on our team now, and I think he is optimistic and looking forward to a new chapter.”
Not everyone can capture the enigmatic point guard in words. Actually, nobody quite has. Stevens came closest.
|10.23.13 at 12:17 pm ET|
After Celtics coach Brad Stevens finally granted Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace extended playing time together, the media immediately jumped on its perceived success following Sunday’s preseason loss to the Timberwolves.
‘I’d have to look at the overall numbers on it, but I thought we were pretty good in that stretch — both in the first and second half,” Stevens told reporters in the immediate aftermath. ‘We played them together some in the first half, when we played big on the wings, and we played them some together at the start of the second half. It’s probably a 10- or 12-minute clip of that. And, based on how it went tonight, I would say that you’ll probably see that again.”
It was actually a 14:34 clip of the highly anticipated Green-Wallace combo, and it started wonderfully. The two combined for 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting over a 4:23 stretch in the first quarter, adding two assists, two rebounds, a steal and a block during a span that trimmed Minnesota’s lead from 11 to four.
Beyond that? Not so much. They combined for a total of 8:11 during the second and fourth quarters, scoring seven points on 1-of-7 shooting to go along with three boards, two assists, two turnovers and a steal for a minus-2 rating.
|10.22.13 at 5:38 pm ET|
Let’s just say the Raptors didn’t enjoy having a Celtics fan wearing an outdated Ray Allen jersey and naturally double-fisting a couple Molson Goldens at their annual town hall event for season ticket-holders.
“Where’s that guy with the Celtics jersey?” said Raptors CEO Tim Leiweke. “How’s that preseason going for you?”
Toronto, of course, handed the Celtics two of their seven losses so far this preseason. Ouch. You know it’s bad when the Raptors started calling the C’s out. [Insert "The Raptors have season-ticket holders?" joke here.]
|10.22.13 at 5:11 pm ET|
‘We’re not playing with effort,” Wallace told reporters after Sunday’s defeat. “Guys are out there being selfish.”
Well, isn’t that nice. Despite skipping the introductory press conference upon being traded to the Celtics, reporting last to the team’s offseason workouts and then explaining on Media Day, “You never want to go to a team that’s starting a rebuilding process,” Wallace actually cares about the C’s performance this season. By all accounts, he’s a “110 percent” guy, offering Kevin Garnett-esque effort regardless of practice, preseason or actual NBA action.
As such, he’s comfortable questioning anybody’s lack of effort. Of course, that works when your an established Hall of Famer on a title contender. It may not go over so well when you rip a young team adjusting to a new coach.
I enjoyed Wallace’s explanation Tuesday: ‘It’s nothing critical toward my teammates. It’s for the whole team.” Well, then, that’s better. It’s not just one or two guys. It’s everyone. Except Wallace. And apparently Jeff Green?
|10.22.13 at 3:03 pm ET|
For the 12th straight preseason, the NBA surveyed all 30 general managers. Here are the Celtics-related results.
- While the Celtics-Nets trade tied with Golden State’s sign-and-trade acquisition of Andre Iguodala as the most surprising summer story lines, the C’s were among six teams receiving votes for “best overall moves.”
- A quarter of responding GMs believe Kelly Olynyk is the draft’s biggest steal — ahead of Ben McLemore, Nerlens Noel, Steven Adams, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Trey Burke. Likewise, 6.7 percent of the respondents think the Celtics rookie will be the draft’s best player in 2018. Only Victor Oladipo (40.0%), Cody Zeller (13.3%), Anthony Bennett (10.0%) and McLemore (10.0%) received more votes.
- Based on the GM votes, Avery Bradley, Kawhi Leonard and Iguodala are tied for the league’s fourth-best perimeter defense, trailing only Tony Allen, LeBron James and Paul George.
- Voters slot Rajon Rondo and Ricky Rubio second behind Chris Paul on the “best passer” scale. Paul also has the game’s best IQ, per votes, ahead of Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, LeBron, Kobe Bryant and Rondo.
‘I thought they made a great move because Garnett and Pierce only have another year or two of premium basketball left,’ he told the Boston Herald. ‘[Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] just pulled the plug while they still had something. It was inevitable. And, besides, I like the fact that when he moved them, he sent them to a contender. I really like that. Granted, they’re in the same division, but still I really like that it showed how he felt about Paul and Garnett. I like that.
‘As a player, you’re thinking, if you’re going to move me, at least send me somewhere where I can win a championship.’