|10.18.09 at 6:09 pm ET|
Marquis Daniels can do a lot of things on the basketball court. That’s a big reason why the former undrafed free agent has had a long and productive career as a role player.
Coming into the Celtics preseason game with the Raptors Sunday in Toronto, Doc Rivers figured to see just how many things Daniels could do on the court. He has already proven himself as a capable ball handler and backup swing man, but Rivers wanted to see him running the point and playing small forward for extended stretches of game action in the Celtics 101-82 victory over Toronto. (Click here for a recap).
Daniels was in the 3-spot for about six minutes of the second quarter when he ran with Rajon Rondo and Eddie House in the backcourt and Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace up front. The lineup had some rough spots offensively, but they were active and pesky on defense and Rivers may have found yet another combination to play with once the regular season starts.
There was talk of other more exotic lineup combinations, but few materialized Sunday. Instead Ray Allen and Rondo played 30+ minutes and Kevin Garnett checked in with a 21-point, 28-minute afternoon. The starters were in rhythm offensively in the first half, shooting 78 percent in the first quarter as Garnett and Allen combined to go 10-for-12 for 23 points.
The second half was more ragged, but all in all, it was another productive preseason outing for the Celts who have won five straight.
A few other observations:
Allen finds his stroke: As the Celtics check items off their preseason to-do list, they can add another notch after Allen finally had a hot shooting night. Coming into the game, Allen was shooting just 36 percent in his four outings. But after going 6-for-6 in the first half and finishing with an efficient 20-points, the veteran shooter is back on track.
Not that anyone should have been worrying about Allen. He is coming off one of the best shooting seasons of his career and he came into camp in terrific shape. But Allen is in the final year of his contract and his season will be watched carefully for any signs of slippage. As a general rule, when shooting guards in their 30’s lose it, they tend to lose it quickly.
Allen has been able to defy the ravages of time and has the game to continue being a successful shooter for a few more years. Whether that will translate into another big contract remains to be seen.
Inside the matchups: The Celtics don’t figure to get a lot of competition from the Atlantic Division this year. The Knicks and Nets are in various stages of their rebuilding programs and while the Sixers and Raptors should find themselves in playoff contention, neither is likely to make a serious move in the east.
Still, the games against Toronto are some of the more intriguing ones for the Celtics because there are three great individual matchups — Rondo vs. Jose Calderon, Paul Pierce vs. Hedo Turkoglu and Kendrick Perkins vs. Chris Bosh.
Rondo and Calderon are two of the top point guards in the conference, while Pierce and Turkoglu love to mix it up with each other. The two are among the craftiest practitioners of their art in the league and Pierce has tremendous respect for Turkoglu.
Perkins, meanwhile, is on the cusp of earning serious defensive cred around the league, especially after he battled Dwight Howard with one arm in last season’s playoffs. Bosh is one of his toughest covers because the Raptors big man can go inside and out and because he has several inches on Perkins.
Give Bosh the edge Sunday. He had Perkins in foul trouble for most of the afternoon and finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, but expect to see some great battles during the regular season.
NOTES: As expected, Tony Allen (ankle) and Bill Walker (knee surgery) didn’t play. Former Celtic Patrick O’Bryant had two points, four rebounds and five fouls in 12 uninspired minutes. The teams combined for 43 turnovers and 54 fouls.
The Celtics have two more preseason games — at New York Tuesday and at Cleveland Wednesday. Don’t expect to see much against the Cavs.
|10.17.09 at 4:25 pm ET|
Rivers will start Paul Pierce, along with Ray Allen and Marquis Daniels, with Daniels the most-likely choice to start at the point. Daniels, who has played big guard as well as small forward, has been getting time in practice as the point behind Rajon Rondo.
“We’re just going to do that [Sunday] to see what the other team does defensively,” Rivers said Saturday.
|10.17.09 at 3:11 pm ET|
WALTHAM — In January Ray Allen traveled to Washington, D.C. to watch President Barack Obama’s inauguration in person. Now he would welcome the opportunity to meet him a little closer to home.
Obama is scheduled to visit Boston this Friday, October 23, to attend a luncheon for Governor Deval Patrick’s re-election campaign. Although Allen was unaware of the event, he was enthusiastic upon hearing the news.
‘I’d be pumped to meet him, just to sit down and have a conversation with him, just to talk to him,’ Allen told WEEI.com following practice on Saturday. ‘I think that we get so consumed with what’s going on in our lives. I have a saying, and I’m sure that other people use it, but never judge a man before you walk a mile in his shoes, and then once you get a mile away you can say whatever you want. And that’s kind of how it is. You watch somebody from afar, I think you see people’s jobs unfold. Like people criticize us for what we do, what we don’t do on the floor.
‘It’s always interesting to sit down and talk to somebody in the position of power that is passing legislation. Whether it’s five minutes or ten minutes, you really get an inside take or feel of how that person thinks or how that person operates. So I think anybody who sat down with me or any of the other guys on the team, they are always interested even more and they want to watch the game even more because you start to see different things and you understand how the game is played. It’s a little bit more difficult than it may look from the surface, and I definitely believe that’s the Presidential office. That’s probably the hardest job in this country. At the same time it’s the highest position that anybody could reach, it’s like the ultimate sign of success. But at the same time, who wants the job because you’ve got so much coming down on you? So I’d be interested in meeting him, whether it’s five minutes or ten minutes, just to have a conversation with him.’
Allen already knows his opening line if he ever met the President. After that, he would find it easy to relate Obama’s position in politics to his own role in professional sports.
“I think that I would ask him about his hoop game because I heard that he played a lot,” he said. “And then it would depend on how much time I would have with him. If I had five seconds, I would say how’s the hoop game? If I knew I had like 20, 25 minutes with him I would probably ask him a lot about just how he does it and how he holds it in. I know how I hold my position in and what I do. Somebody said something interesting today about America. We were talking about when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, Doc [Rivers] actually said this to me. We were talking about all the people who were criticizing him and it would be like if Doc won Coach of the Year and I said, ‘Why did he get it? He didn’t deserve it.’ He’s on my team, I want him to get all the awards that he should get. And that’s the same thing when he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Doc said, we were talking about it, ‘Unfortunately everybody in America’s not on the same team.’ And that’s the unfortunate thing.”
Allen could see himself getting involved in politics after he retires from basketball. Even though he may be a veteran in the NBA, he understands he would be a rookie in the political world.
“I would consider it,” he said. “Obviously I think I have a lot to learn about the economy, not just the American economy but the overseas economy as well. I’d need to make sure that I went to more than just Mexico and Canada (laughs). I’ve been overseas a couple of places but I’d have to extend my travel. You have to see the world, you have to understand people around the world. You can’t just be from one place and try to rule over everyone.”
|10.17.09 at 2:45 pm ET|
“For us, it’s just getting better with continuity on both ends, working on all the little things. I like where we’re at, honestly. I like our team. The answer to ‘Are you ready to play the first game?’ You don’t know that until you play it. You think you are all the time but I do like where our team is at,” Rivers said.
The Celtics are 4-1 in preseason and play in Toronto on Sunday in the sixth of eight preseason games.
|10.16.09 at 10:58 am ET|
On Tuesday, Comcast aired a conversation between Paul Pierce and Greg Dickerson, who asked Pierce about his contract situation. For those who don’t know, the captain has a $21.5 million option sitting on the table for the 2010-11 season. Ordinarily, this would be a no-brainer. As a general rule NBA players (or anyone else, for that matter) don’t leave $21 million sitting on the table.
But the Celtics will have some interesting financial decisions to make after this season. Ray Allen’s contract will be up, and we’ll know by the end of the month if they have extended Rajon Rondo or whether he’ll be a restricted free agent. Add to that Wyc Grousbeck’s cryptic comment last summer that there was a scenario where the Celtics could be a player in the fabled free agency class of 2010, and suddenly the Pierce option is no longer such a no-brainer. (Worth noting that Grousbeck said that before the Celtics signed Rasheed Wallace to a three-year deal).
Before we get to all that, let’s go to the videotape.
Pierce said two things of note during the conversation.
“I definitely want to retire as a Celtic. As far as my option goes, I haven’t really given it any thought.”
“I want to do what’s best for the team. If that means doing whatever to keep guys here and make this team strong for the next three or four years, I’m willing to do it.”
That’s pretty consistent with what Pierce has said at other times during camp. But CSN’s Gary Tanguay wrote on his Twitter page: “Pierce told CSN he will re-work his contract to keep players in Boston,” which then made the rumors page on Hoops Hype, which brought it to the attention of True Hoop, which had an item by ESPN’s Marc Stein outlining the scenarios by which “doing whatever” became Pierce opting out and/or signing an extension, which could spread out the cash and free up some cap space, which got play on Celtics Blog and Celtics Hub Thursday night, to name two.
First things first. The Celtics already have about $33 million-plus committed to Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis and Wallace for 2010-11. Add to that a “cap hold” of $6.3 million for Rondo if he doesn’t sign an extension, and we’re already looking at about $40 million for five players before Pierce even does anything, let alone before the team makes a decision on Allen. The salary cap for this season is set at $57.7 million and there has already been talk that will trend down in 2010-11. (Celtics Blog has a good look at the down and dirty).
Second, this sets up an unrealistic set of expectations for Pierce, who has already shown on the court that he is willing to “do whatever” to help the Celtics win games. That should be more than enough before anyone asks him to leave a pile of dough on the table.
The Celtics are positioned to win this season, if everyone stays healthy. There are way too many factors at play to go much beyond that.
|10.14.09 at 10:05 pm ET|
Earlier this week Celtics coach Doc Rivers was asked how many preseason games he’d like to have before the season started. “In a perfect world I’d get to five games, maybe six, tops,” he said. “That would be perfect. You do need games to see what other teams do against what you run and also to play in front of a crowd.”
The Celtics put their fifth preseason game in the books Wednesday night with a 106-90 win over the Raptors in Hartford, and aside from a tough shooting night for former UConn homeboy Ray Allen (1-for-7 from the floor) they look more than ready to start the season. It was one of the Celtics’ sharpest games offensively as they shot 46 percent from the floor and had six players score in double figures led by Paul Pierce’s 17 points. (Click here for a recap).
It’s been a very good preseason for the Celtics so far. Consider the two biggest question marks facing the C’s this October: Kevin Garnett’s health and the revamped bench. Both seem like they’ve been answered positively already.
Garnett was again spry, getting up for a couple of lobs and jumping out on the high pick and roll. While the bench, even without the services of Rasheed Wallace (ankle), turned in another solid effort. In the first half the second unit changed the energy level and extended the lead, two things that were in scant supply last season.
A couple of other observations:
Shelden Williams might have some game: The new big man’s job is simple. He has to be ready to play at all times, even if it doesn’t look like he will. If (and that’s a mighty big if) Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis and Wallace all stay healthy Williams could go weeks without seeing the court once the regular season begins. But if one of them goes down or gets into foul trouble Williams has to be ready to go.
So far this preseason he hasn’t shown much of an offensive game. Indeed, on his first touch Williams looked stiff and predictable working on Chris Bosh in the post and Bosh easily swatted away his shot. But Williams then rolled down the lane and tossed in a nifty little jump hook. He followed that up by hitting a pair of 15-foot baseline jumpers.
If the Celtics wind up looking for offense from Williams then there in trouble, but if he is able to provide something dependable–like that baseline jumper–then he will fill his role nicely.
The rotation starts to come into focus: In the first half Rivers went with Eddie House and Marquis Daniels in the backcourt along with the three frontline starters. In the second half Rivers went with House, Allen, Pierce, Davis and Perkins. In both sets, Pierce brought the ball up and initiated the offense.
It’s no secret that the Celtics want to hide House’s weaknesses as a ballhandler when he’s in the game, and also take advantage of his strength as a 3-point shooter. With Pierce and Daniels they have two forwards who can handle the chore.
Lester Hudson continues to make a case: It happens every preaseason. A rookie plays well in the exhibition games and gets everyone projecting great things about their future. It’s difficult to say what, if any, role Hudson will have with the Celtics this season. In fact, one can make the argument that if he does have a role they might be in some trouble.
But Hudson is showing in spurts that he might have the skills (and toughness) to make it as a reserve guard. Hudson needs to continue having a strong preseason because at 25 years of age he won’t have a lot more chances to show what he’s got, but it’s to his credit that he’s taken the third point guard job by the throat and played fearlessly.
The C’s and Raptors play again this Sunday at 3 p.m.
|10.14.09 at 10:03 pm ET|
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