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Irish Coffee: Celtics midseason report card

01.20.11 at 10:53 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

After Wednesday night’s game against the Pistons , the Celtics have played 41 games and are exactly halfway through the NBA regular season. It’s time for a report card (you can check out the first-quarter grades here) …

PAUL PIERCE

  • Grade: A
  • Comments: Among the NBA’s small forwards, Pierce ranks second in free-throw percentage, third in field-goal percentage and ninth in 3-point percentage. That’s efficient. He’s also ran the offense in Rondo’s absence and rebounded in Garnett’s absence. Save for Allen, the Celtics have struggled to stay healthy, but Pierce has played all 41 games, remaining the constant he’s been for this team since his selection in the 1998 draft.

RAY ALLEN

  • Grade: A
  • Comments: Allen’s numbers are pretty much up across the board from last season, while his field-goal percentage (51.3 percent) and 3-point percentage (46.8!) are the highest of his career. And that’s saying something for a guy who’s 28 treys away from breaking the all-time record. Allen ranks second on the team in minutes and first (unofficially) in clutch shots down the stretch.

KEVIN GARNETT

  • Grade: A–
  • Comments: When he’s on the court, he’s an A-plus. Easily the leading candidate for a second Defensive Player of the Year honor in the last four years, Garnett is averaging 15.0 points and 9.3 boards — but those numbers don’t demonstrate the rejuvenation he’s enjoyed, the lift in his legs or the bite to go with his bark. His calf strain struck a scare into Celtics fans, though, and he’ll have to prove he can stay healthy to cement his A.

GLEN DAVIS

  • Grade: A–
  • Comments: Averaging 29.7 minutes in 32 games off the bench, Davis has established himself as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, shooting 48.4 percent from the field and grabbing 5.7 rebounds per game. Averaging 34.6 minutes in nine games as a starter, he’s shot 41.1 percent from the field and grabbed 4.4 boards a game. The former is precisely what the Celtics need. The latter? Not so much.

RAJON RONDO

  • Grade: B+
  • Comments: Rondo averages a league-leading 13.2 assists per game, and only one other guy (Steve Nash) is averaging double-digits in that category. He’s also second in the league in steals. But to the naked eye he simply hasn’t had the same impact he had in the first few weeks of the season. His turnovers (3.9 per game) are too high, and he’s shooting worse from the free-throw line (46.0) than Allen is from 3-point range.

SHAQUILLE O’NEAL

  • Grade: B+
  • Comments: Did you know Shaq ranks third in the entire NBA in true shooting percentage? And that’s with a 55.9 free-throw percentage. His 67.6 field-goal percentage is the highest of a career that’s spanned 19 seasons. His 10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 21.8 minutes per game are just what the Doc ordered.

MARQUIS DANIELS

  • Grade: C+
  • Comments: He can be a guy who produces 19 points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench against the Rockets last week. Or he can be the guy who contributes four points and one rebound in 29 minutes as a reserve against the Bobcats. The former makes the C’s bench invaluable; the latter limits its worth.

NATE ROBINSON

  • Grade: C+
  • Comments: Robinson’s numbers have been in steady decline. After shooting 50.0 percent from the field and 43.9 percent from 3-point range for the month of November, those stats have dropped to 35.0 and 28.6 in January. Since he’s not much of a playmaker, he needs to be the C’s version of The Microwave.

VON WAFER

  • Grade: C–
  • Comments: He’s finally giving the effort the Celtics have asked of him. Watch him next time he gets into a game: he’s shadowing his defensive assignment, and he’s getting open — even if he’s not being rewarded. In January, he’s scored 44 points in nine games, just one fewer point than he totaled in the previous three months.

SEMIH ERDEN

  • Grade: D
  • Comments: With Jermaine O’Neal out for a month and Perkins still rehabbing, the Celtics need minutes from Erden — and at times he’s proven he’s capable – but he found himself in Rivers’ doghouse for his lack of energy. He’s been relegated to the bench for 12 games and played just 14 minutes a night in 29, so there’s no excuse.

JERMAINE O’NEAL

  • Grade: F
  • Comments: The Celtics announced he’ll be missing the next four weeks to build strength in a knee that is going to require surgery once the season ends. That’s on top of resting the previous nine days and missing 59 percent of the C’s 41 games. Even when he’s been on the floor, he’s been half the player Shaq’s been.

LUKE HARANGODY

  • Grade: Incomplete
  • Comments: Harangody showed a single flash of brilliance on his 17-point, 11-rebound night against the Raptors. Outside of that, he’s only played more than 20 minutes once. It’s still too early to hand out his grade.

AVERY BRADLEY

  • Grade: Incomplete
  • Comments: In theory, the D-League should help his development, as opposed to sitting behind Rondo and Robinson. But name a guy who the Celtics have shipped to Maine and heard much of anything from again.

DELONTE WEST

  • Grade: Incomplete
  • Comments: West was just beginning to prove his worth when he went down after just five games on the court with a broken wrist. You’ve got to give him credit for working to stay ahead of schedule on his rehab.

KENDRICK PERKINS

  • Grade: Audited
  • Comments: By all accounts, Perkins should be back on the court on schedule, before the third-quarter report card comes out. If he and West return to form, the Celtics will have the best 10-man rotation in basketball.

DOC RIVERS

  • Grade: A
  • Comments: With the number of injuries and egos he’s had to juggle, you couldn’t ask for more from Rivers. Meanwhile, he’s started to limit the minutes for Allen, Pierce, Garnett and Shaq. He also doesn’t get enough credit for the development of Rondo and Davis, both of whom have come a long way under his tutelage.

DANNY AINGE

  • Grade: B
  • Comments: I’ll reiterate what I said in the first-quarter report card, when he got an A: Ainge managed to re-sign Pierce, Allen, Rivers, Robinson and Daniels for at least one more title run. And the Shaq signing has been literally and figuratively huge. But Jermaine O’Neal, West and Wafer have yet to contribute significant minutes.

***

GREEN STREET’S GOT YOU COVERED

Paul Flannery, Mike Petraglia and I were all in attendance for the ugliest Celtics win of the season — an 86-82 comeback victory against the lowly Pistons. Still, there was a lot to learn from the game. Here are some nuggets:

  • Rivers on D&C: ‘€œ[Shaq] kind of recruited me. Shaq was on our radar, but we were actually talking to other guys. I got a call from Shaq out of the clear-blue sky. He wanted to meet.’€
  • Flannery’s Three-Pointer: This was one they should have lost and when you win enough of these kinds of games you put yourself in a position to do the kinds of things you hope to accomplish in the second half of the season. Last year’€™s Celtics couldn’€™t make that claim. The evidence, after a half season of basketball, is looking far more positive.
  • Shaq’s postgame presser: ‘€œIt was just a flat game. Blame it on one of those days. I’€™m going to blame it on the sleet. Is that the right word ‘€” rain and snow combined? Yeah, I’€™m going to blame it on the sleet.’€
  • Ainge on Jermaine O’Neal: ‘€œThere’€™s not ligament or cartilage damage that was going to be prepared, it was a cleaning out process. We decided against that, we’€™ll take the next four weeks to do nothing but work to build up his glutes and quads, with the sole purpose of that. So he’€™ll be rehabbing to build strength in his leg to get ready for the end of the season.’€
  • Allen on his clutch shot: “I’€™ve said this before, I wasn’€™t shooting the ball particularly well and I didn’€™t really think I had a great rhythm but I always think the next one is going to go in. So, I was never worried about it.’€
  • The Fast Break: Fans have become accustomed to 50 percent shooting nights from the field from the Celtics ‘€” not to mention a few 60 percent shooting nights ‘€” but the Celtics shot just 44.7 percent, and most of the night it was worst than that. Not to mention the 14-for-25 effort fromt the free-throw line.
  • Rivers on Otis Smith’s comments: ‘€œI’€™ll let everybody else talk about us. They seem to do it better than us.’€

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

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