Archive for March, 2010

Preview: Celtics-Kings

Friday, March 26th, 2010

John Schumann of NBA.com recently broke down the numbers and made an interesting observation about the Celtics that has generated much discussion around the Internet. Schumann’s main finding is that the Celtics are a poor second-half team, particularly in the third quarter. This was most clearly seen against Utah earlier this week when the Jazz rallied from a five-point halftime deficit and turned a Celtics lead into a blowout loss.

There are many conclusions one can draw from that bit of information, but what it really seems to boil down to is that the Celtics have done a poor job of executing after halftime. Whether it’s age, focus or some other factor, Schumann’s analysis helps bring this whole nebulous conversation about their struggles into sharper focus.

As the Celtics continue through the regular season pay close attention to their play after halftime during their final 11 games. That might help tell us if they are actually becoming a contender again.

KINGS (24-48 3-7 last 10)

Points Per Game: 100.4

Points Allowed: 104.5

Differential: -4.1 (24th)

Offensive Efficiency: 105.4 (21st)

Defensive Efficiency: 109.7 (23rd)

Pace: 94.2 (6th)

Likely Starters: Beno Udrih, Francisco Garcia, Donte Greene, Carl Landry, Spencer Hawes

Injuries: Tyreke Evans (Concussion), Jon Brockman (Knee)

CELTICS (46-25, 6-4 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.0

Points Allowed: 94.4

Differential: +4.6 (8th)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.4 (14th)

Defensive Efficiency: 102.4 (1st)

Pace: 91.8 (20th)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: None. (more…)

Journey to the D-League, Part 4: The game

Friday, March 26th, 2010

(Editor’s note: Paul Flannery recently spent some time with the NBA Development League’s Main Red Claws, who are affiliated with the Celtics. He documented his observations about the organization, the players and the fans, who regularly fill to capacity the team’s home arena. Here’s the final part of his four-part series.)

Part 3: The players
Part 2: The Red Claws
Part 1: The ‘D’

PORTLAND, Maine ‘€” It’€™s an hour and a half before tipoff, and the scene inside the Expo already is humming. A few early arriving fans already are lined up to get inside for ‘€™70s Night, and Blondie’€™s ‘€œHeart of Glass’€ is playing.

Jana Spaulding, the Red Claws’€™ able and efficient PR person, already is busy at work, as are the other members of the team’€™s office staff, including Cam Twiss, son of longtime Celtics PR honcho Jeff Twiss. The training and development in the D-League doesn’€™t end with the team. One of the Red Claws dancers has earned a tryout with the Patriots cheerleaders, which is a point of pride for everyone.

‘€œThat’€™s what we do,’€ said Jon Jennings, the team’€™s president and general manager. ‘€œWe develop front office people. We develop players. We develop a dance team.’€

The team’€™s operation staff is getting ready to put on a show for the sellout crowd. Every break in the action will feature the usual array of distractions from the dance team to an overly exuberant MC leading kids activities and disco contests.

But in an admirable bit of minor league restraint, it will not come at the expense of the evening’€™s main attraction: a showdown between the Iowa Energy and the Maine Red Claws. The Energy have the best record in the D-League. They also have one of the most stable rosters, but they recently lost Othyus Jeffers to the Utah Jazz, and he was a key component to their success.

The Energy have former NBA center Earl Barron in the middle and onetime Bobcat Cartier Martin on the wing. They also have only one true point guard, a hard-nosed player from Chicago named Curtis Stinson, and Red Claws coach Austin Ainge plans to try to force him to be a scorer. Stinson will wind up playing all but 36 seconds of this game and will take 21 shots, but he’€™ll score 25 points and hand out 10 assists. Nobody said it was going to easy. (more…)

Wyc Grousbeck on D&C: Full transcript

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

One of the many captivating stories of the 2010 Celtics season has been the development of point guard Rajon Rondo, who is shooting at a 51.3 percent clip.

Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck joined Dale & Holley Thursday morning to talk a little bit about Rondo as a player, how he came about to be a member of the Celtics and how important the Kentucky alum will be for the Celtics as they move toward the future.

‘€œI’€™ve been very proud of Rondo since day one,’€ Grousbeck said. ‘€œI’€™ve loved the way he’€™s played and the way he’€™s developed. He’€™s going to be here for five years after this, and I’€™m really proud of that, and we’€™ll build from there.’€

Grousbeck also touched on the big win over the Nuggets, as well as which NBA team scares him the most ‘€” and it doesn’€™t include LeBron James, Dwight Howard or even Kobe Bryant.

‘€œThe team that makes me nervous is the Celtics. I’€™m serious, I think we have a chance to be as good as anybody at any given time. We’€™re worried about a lot of teams, but it starts with us.’€

Below is a transcript. To listen to the whole interview, click here.

That was fun last night, wasn’€™t it?

I had a smile on my face from beginning to end, nice little 14-point win over the Nuggets. I was out there in Denver when we lost to them, month-and-a-half two months ago, so it’€™s nice to get them back.

When you sit that close, you ever think you’€™re going to go after the refs, chase them down?

No, but they can hear me from there. I reminded one of them that we were on national TV last night, ESPN, and he better sharpen up his game a little.

I normally think Tommy’€™s over the top, last night I was right with him. What the hell were they watching?

I don’€™t know. I guess, I would say that it seemed to be equally distributed from my standpoint. I know the guys are trying, but we try to encourage them to remember certain rules, like three seconds and charging and goaltending and some of that. (more…)

Rivers on D&C: Full transcript

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

With their 113-99 victory Wednesday night over the Nuggets, the Celtics improved to 46-25 and are tied with the Hawks for third place in the Eastern Conference, 3½ games behind the second-place Magic.

The morning after Boston’s fifth victory in six games, Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan to discuss the recent turnaround in Boston’€™s play ‘€” and how a lot of people forgot just how good the guys in green really were.

‘€œIt’€™s funny, what were we, 23-5 [to start the season], and we were completely healthy,’€ the coach said. ‘€œPaul [Pierce] goes down, Kevin [Garnett] goes down, [Glen Davis] is just coming back, Marquis [Daniels] just goes down, and through that whole streak, it’€™s amazing how conveniently everybody forgot about that.’€

The Celtics are trying to give the league a refresher course before they head into the postseason, though Rivers maintained that playoff seeding isn’€™t the most important thing on their minds.

‘€œI will say I think health and rest is more important than even the third spot for us,” he said. “I think for us to have a chance to win, we have to be both of those things.’€

The Celtics look to continue their recent run of successful basketball when they take the court Friday against the Sacramento Kings.

Below is a transcript. Click here for the full interview.

Nice win last night Doc. My sense is that three weeks ago, that’€™s probably a game you would have lost.

Three-and-a-half weeks ago, we probably were not the same team we are today, because we’€™re healthier, Paul’€™s playing better, Kevin’€™s playing better, so that may be true. But it’€™s now, so that’€™s all I focus on.

So when the lead was 21, then it was reduced to seven, how did you respond to that?

Number one, that happens in games, and you don’€™t think about it. And number two, we went small. I didn’€™t want to, but we had to, they were making shots, so we had to match up to then. So I thought that was the turning point for us, at least extending the lead back.

Last week, when you said ‘€œwe’€™re close,’€ what did you mean specifically? And right now, are you there, or are you still just close?

Well, we’€™re getting closer, obviously I don’€™t think anybody would say they’€™re there right now as a team with the playoffs being three weeks away. One thing I saw was Paul was starting to get back in shape, I thought Kevin was rounding out in shape, and guys, it’€™s funny, what were we, 23-5, and we were completely healthy. Paul goes down, Kevin goes down, [Glen Davis] is just coming back, Marquis [Daniels] just goes down, and through that whole streak, it’€™s amazing how conveniently everybody forgot about that. And then when we got healthy, Paul wasn’€™t right yet, Kevin wasn’€™t right yet, it just took time, we lost our rhythm, we lost our timing, because so many different guys had to play so many different roles when all those guys were out, so there’€™s no excuse to lose games, but we lost games because of that. And I saw us finally getting back healthy somewhat, I saw our timing coming back, our rhythm coming back, our team play coming back, but that took a toll on us, and it would’€™ve taken a toll on anybody, and that’€™s what I saw. (more…)

Grousbeck on D&H: Teams wary of C’s in playoffs

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck checked in with the Dale & Holley show Thursday morning and talked about the Celtics’ season. Said Grousbeck: “It has been up and down, we can’t hide from that. You have to be honest with people and be honest with yourself. We’ve always felt, though, inside the team that this team has a chance, and that that was probably a lull in the middle of the season, not from being lazy, but from being tired or conserving energy. … I think that’s what’s happened this year. I’m not trying to make make an excuse, that’s just my honest opinion.”

Grousbeck said the Celtics only have to worry about themselves as they prepare for the playoffs. “I think we have a chance to be as good as anybody at any given time, and it’s not just flashes of it,” he said. “I think people are looking at us saying, ‘Let’s avoid those guys in the playoffs.’ ”

Grousbeck noted that Danny Ainge is winning the front office’s NCAA tournament pool. “Ainge is winning our bracket, which just annoys us to no end because he won’t stop talking about it,” Grousbeck said, although he added that it does instill more confidence in Ainge’s scouting abilities. “It’s kind of a relief. If he were losing the bracket, I’d be a little more worried. I’m happy if he wins. It’s like saying, ‘Tiger beat me at golf.’ ”

To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

NBA Power Rankings, 3/25

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

1. Cleveland: I wish the Cavs had put a little more entertainment into the Zydrunas Ilgauskas sham. Hell, we all knew he was returning the day he was traded to Washington. At least make us halfway think there was a chance he wouldn’t come back. As for LeBron, there’s not much drama there, either: For the second consecutive year, the MVP trophy is his. No need to tally the votes — just give it to him.

2. LA Lakers: All right, I’ll admit it: I’ve had two completely different LA things on my mind all week: 1. This team has the ability to play some really beautiful and efficient basketball. If you’re guarding the Lakers, getting them to miss a shot is not necessarily a win because they’re so good on the boards. 2. Is there really a Khloe Kardashian sex tape? I have to know. I just have to.

3. Orlando: Is it just plain crazy, from a Celtics perspective, not to be worried about Dwight Howard and Vince Carter? Call me crazy. For Boston, I’m more anxious about how the Magic will perform in the playoffs with a (nearly) full season of Jameer Nelson and a bench guy like Matt Barnes.

4. Utah: Jerry Sloan made contact with an official the other night. I’m shocked that it doesn’t happen more often. Talk to any old-timer and they’ll tell you that when Sloan played, he was half basketball player, half linebacker. I was shocked when I learned that he doesn’t lead all coaches in technicals (mild-mannered Alvin Gentry of Phoenix does).

5. Dallas: If I lived in Dallas, I don’t think I’d find many complaints with a guy like Mark Cuban. He built the best arena in the league, he could give a damn about the luxury tax, and he’s not afraid to make bold moves to improve the team. Really, what else can a sports fan ask for?

6. Denver: They might have made the Finals if they had been a little smarter last year. This year, there’s too much quality competition in the West. And the Kenyon Martin injury is huge.

7. Atlanta: Everyone talks about how the Hawks are a bad matchup for the Celtics. I don’t buy it. If they see each other in the playoffs, watch how Rajon Rondo dominates the series. Joe Johnson is not a good matchup for the C’s, but the Hawks have no one who can slow down Rondo.

(more…)

Doc on D&C: ‘We’re close’

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the state of the Celtics. “We’re closer,” Rivers said. “I don’t think anybody can say they’re there right now as a team.”

Rivers said the Celtics’ recent improved play can directly be attributed to the team’s improved health. “We were 23-5 [to start the season], we were completely healthy,” he said. “I felt this throughout that whole streak. It’s amazing how conveniently everybody forgot about that. … So many different guys had to play so many different roles. … That took a toll on us.”

Rivers said he’s focused on continuing to get the team in rhythm the rest of the regular season, but, “I still want to get them rest as well.”

Rivers was asked about the NCAA tournament and which underdog he thinks has the best chance of advancing. “I think Cornell’s the best [underdog] that’s still available,” Rivers said. “Unfortunately, they have to play the best team [Kentucky]. … If that game is close, I think Cornell wins that game.”

Rivers said he has been getting grief from Nate Robinson since Robinson’s alma mater, Washington, knocked off Rivers’ school, Marquette, in the tournament’s opening round. “I’m still getting [teased],” Rivers said. “Every time he walks by me, he sings the Washington fight song.”

To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.