Archive for January, 2011

Welcome back, Kendrick Perkins

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

After missing the first 43 games of the season rehabbing a torn ACL in his right knee, Kendrick Perkins took the court for the first time with his Celtics teammates on Tuesday night as they played the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Perkins injured the knee in the first half of Game 6 of the 2010 NBA finals in Los Angeles as the Celtics – without their starting center and defensive, shot-blocking presence in the low post – lost Games 6 and 7, falling just short of a record-18th NBA title.

Three different players – Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erden – have started at center this season and while Perkins is coming off the bench, his return Tuesday certainly bolsters the depth at that position.

Shaq had started 17 straight and 33 overall before injuring his right hip on Friday against the Jazz. Erden has started the last two and now six overall. Jermaine O’Neal has started the remaining five times in the low post.

Doc Rivers would not commit to when Perk will eventually return to the starting lineup and until then, it’s likely to be Erden getting most of the minutes.

Perkins returned to game action with 8:02 left in the first quarter when Erden picked up two quick fouls. He lasted until 2:37 left, giving him five minutes, 25 seconds of continuous action. He collected a lay-up, missed a free throw, grabbed a rebound, dished out two assists and picked up a foul.

Kendrick Perkins returns

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

About an hour before the Celtics were to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kendrick Perkins rolled through the locker room and found about 20 reporters congregating by his locker. Someone asked if he had lobbied coach Doc Rivers to play Tuesday night, 10 days ahead of his scheduled target date of Feb. 4. “I probably did,” he said with a smile as he tried to deflect the obvious: He’s back.

Perkins returns about seven months after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during Game 6 of the NBA finals and about six months after having surgery. It’s been quite a turnaround for Perkins, who had his first live practice on Jan. 16. As late as Monday, Rivers said he wouldn’t rush Perkins back, even with injuries keeping both Shaquille O’Neal (hip) and Jermaine O’Neal (knee) out of the lineup.

Later that night, team trainer Eddie Lacerte and team doctor Brian McKeon told Rivers that Perkins was ready.

“I didn’€™t think he’€™d play on this [upcoming west coast] trip, but it wasn’€™t a big surprise when they walked in,” Rivers said. “When they came in together I knew what they were coming in for, so I was all for it.”

Perkins won’t start yet and Rivers said he was on a restriction on 12-16 minutes. “It’€™s going to take Perk some time,” Rivers said. “Listen, you don’€™t miss the amount of games that he’€™s missed and have the injury that he has and think that because he’€™s going to play tonight he’€™s going to be the Perk that you saw the last time.”

Still, with the injuries to the O’Neal’s (Shaq may return Friday, Jermaine O’Neal is out until after the All-Star break) his return has become an important component of the second half of the season. Rivers has not been able to develop a bench with all the injuries affecting various members of the second unit.

For now, Perkins adds depth at a position that needs some, but once he’s able to work his back into the starting lineup he’ll allow Rivers the flexibility to use Shaq and Glen Davis off the bench.

“It’€™s just another piece we’€™re adding is the way I’€™m looking at it,” Rivers said. “That’€™s great for us. The healthier we can get, the better we can get, the more consistent we can become and we can start rolling. It’€™s tough to grow as a team when half your team, or at least your bench, is not playing.”

Perkins’ teammates were obviously thrilled with the development. They have been impressed with how hard he’s worked. Perkins said last week that he has lost eight pounds and he appears trimmer and in better shape than when he was injured.

“I’€™m just hoping he doesn’€™t foul out in those 16 minutes,” Rivers joked. “Which is very likely.”

Irish Coffee: Celtics succeed one possession at a time

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

 

Over the weekend, I stumbled across a New York Times article that claimed Derrick Rose is a better defender than Rajon Rondo, based on the individual statistical analysis of points allowed per possession:

Rose has allowed just 0.77 points per possession overall on defense this season, an elite mark for any defender, regardless of position. Chris Paul (0.86 points per possession allowed), Rajon Rondo (0.83 PPP allowed), and Russell Westbrook (0.92 PPP allowed) ‘€“- all excellent defenders -’€“ have been trumped statistically this year, and by no slim margin. Rose has each of those players handily beat, and boasts a shockingly comprehensive defensive profile.

My natural reaction: How do I get my hands on these points per possession (PPP) statistics? It turns out Synergy Sports Technology tracks every possession — offensively and defensively – for every NBA player. On both sides of the ball, a team or player’s possessions are broken down into 11 categories: 1. isolations, 2. pick-and-rolls (ball-handler), 3. post-ups, 4. pick-and-rolls (roll man), 5. spot-ups, 6. off screens, 7. handoffs, 8. cuts, 9. offensive rebounds, 10. transitions and 11. all other plays.

Obviously, a player’s PPP offensively doesn’t account for the quality of the pass he’s receiving or the look he’s getting, but it’s a great tool to determine how well he’s performing overall and on which plays he’s succeeding.

Likewise, a player’s PPP allowed defensively doesn’t account for the quality of his help defense or who he’s defending, but it’s an accurate representation of whether or not he’s stopping his assignment as well as on what plays he’s being beaten.

Let’s first break down how efficient the Celtics have been offensively as a team; the first number is where they rank in the league in terms of PPP, and the percentage reflects how often they run each play:

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What makes Ray Allen a 3-point shooting machine? Here’s a video clue

Monday, January 24th, 2011

WALTHAM — There’s a reason Ray Allen is regarded as one of the best pure shooters in NBA history: Practice, and lots of it.

Allen’s regiment for shooting nearly matches the same for his conditioning. Allen will spend 45 minutes or longer following practice, just practicing catching and shooting from long range. He’ll usually shoot from both baselines, both wings and from the top of the key. (In the video, he is taking passes from Celtics assistant coach Tyronn Lue.)

Allen enters Tuesday night’s game vs. Cleveland needing just 24 3-pointers to pass Reggie Miller (2,560) for first on the all-time list.

He is on pace for 180 this season, which would match his total in 2008, his first season in Boston. Now in his 15th season, Allen has led the NBA in 3-pointers three times in his career, each time passing the 200-mark for a season.

Allen set the all-time single-season NBA record for 3′s in a season when he drained 269 of them in 2005-06 with Seattle, two more than Dennis Scott with the Magic 10 years earlier.

This year, Allen is fifth in both 3-pointers made at 93 through 43 games and 3-point percentage at .452.

The Celtics won’t rush Kendrick Perkins back

Monday, January 24th, 2011

It has to be tempting for the Celtics to see Kendrick Perkins going through live practice sessions and think they need to get him back on the floor now. With Jermaine O’Neal out four weeks for rest and rehab on his injured knee and Shaquille O’Neal likely to miss at least the next two games with a sore hip, the team’s depth at center is once again down to Semih Erden and Glen Davis.

That’s enough to get through a game here or there, and that’s the way the Celtics are going to play it because they are taking the longview on Perkins’ return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Doc Rivers acknowledged Monday that Perkins has already begun lobbying to come back sooner, but it’s falling on deaf ears.

“Honestly, he wants to play tomorrow,” Rivers said. “He’€™s already approached me about that. The only consideration is when [trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] and Dr. [Brian] McKeon say you can play him. I’€™m not going to listen to Perk, I can tell you that.”

Perkins has targeted Feb. 4 against the Mavericks as his potential return date and the Celtics have five games left between now and then. They play the Cavs Tuesday at the Garden and then head out for a four-game west coast trip.

It’s unlikely that Shaq will play in the first game Thursday at Portland for a number of reasons — it’s a long flight and it’s the first of a back-to-back with Phoenix on Friday. “I think [Shaq will] play in at least one or two of the games for sure, but I don’€™t [know] that positively.”

The Celtics have made it this far being patient with injuries. They can afford to wait a little longer.

Doc Rivers doesn’t want his team taking anyone for granted – not even Cleveland

Monday, January 24th, 2011

WALTHAM — Saturday night’s loss to the lowly Washington Wizards was the latest bad loss in a season filled with plenty of wins, according to Doc Rivers. The Celtics coach was asked to explain how his team could lose to a team like the Wizards, which came in with just 13 wins.

“Obviously, if you look at the whole season, it’s been a terrific season so far,” Rivers said following Monday’s practice. “But in that terrific season, we’ve had some bad losses, too. And I tell our guys that. Some of the teams that have beaten us are under .500 and those are tough losses for a team that shouldn’t lose those games. Moral lessons learned and we’ve just got to keep teaching them.”

The Celtics have lost 10 games and one of those losses came to the Cavaliers, one night after the C’s beat Miami in the season-opener. Cleveland comes to TD Garden on Tuesday having lost 16 straight and Rivers said he’s not taking them lightly, and doesn’t expect his players to, either.

“Cleveland beat us once already this year,” Rivers said. “For us, I rarely worry about the opponent, I worry about ourselves. When we play right, I think it gives us an excellent chance to win games. And when we don’t anyone can beat us and that’s been proven this year.”

Shaquille O’Neal might miss time on West Coast trip with sore right hip

Monday, January 24th, 2011

WALTHAM – Doc Rivers said it’s likely that Shaquille O’Neal will miss his second straight game on Tuesday night with a sore right hip. But the Celtics coach added, after O’Neal missed practice on Monday, that there’s a chance the 38-year-old center could miss part of the upcoming four-game West Coast trip to Portland, Phoenix, Los Angeles (Lakers) and Sacramento.

“[O'Neal] probably will not play [Tuesday] and maybe [return] on the West Coast trip but he may miss that trip,” Rivers said Monday. “We don’t know yet.”

The team doesn’t want O’Neal to play in back-to-back games and they would also rather not have him on the long flight to Portland. One scenario for O’Neal is to have him join the team in Phoenix for Friday’s game against the Suns.

O’Neal and Marquis Daniels (family issue) both missed practice on Monday. The Celtics host the Cavaliers on Tuesday at TD Garden. Cleveland has lost 16 straight while the Celtics are playing their last home game until Feb. 4 against Dallas.