Archive for October, 2012

Irish Coffee: Do Celtics really have NBA’s best bench?

Friday, October 26th, 2012

By now, you may have heard the latest in a long line of uberconfident Jason Terry quotes about his Celtics.

“We haven’t made [me coming off the bench] official yet, but if that is the case we have the deepest bench in basketball,” Terry said after Thursday’s practice. “The Clippers may have something to say about that, but for us in this locker room, our mission every night is to go out and outwork and outscore everyone’s bench.”

Similarly, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, “If you could play 10-on-10, we would beat everybody.”

The mission here is simple: Determine the accuracy of their claim, breaking down the C’s division, conference and eventually the entire NBA. But first let’s look at Boston’s depth behind a not-so-bad starting five: Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Paul Pierce, Jared Sullinger and Kevin Garnett. (For the purposes of this exercise, we’re inserting Terry and Sullinger into the starting lineup, since both took the floor first for 5-of-8 preseason games.)

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Courtney Lee throws down after Celtics practice

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Was Courtney Lee rehearsing for the 2013 NBA Slam Dunk Contest after Celtics practice? You make the call.

Brandon Bass: ‘When my name is called, I’ll be ready’

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers indicated he already knows whether Brandon Bass or Jared Sullinger will start against the defending NBA champion Heat on opening night, but he’s not showing his cards, and Bass doesn’t seem interested in discussing whether he’s in that five-card draw or not, either. If he even knows.

“I’€™m confident in my work ethic — that when my name is called, I’€™ll be ready,” said Bass. “You’€™ve got to take care of what you can take care of, and that’€™s what I’€™m going to do. I’€™m going to continue to work hard and do what I do. That’€™s what got me here, and that’€™s how I’€™m going to continue to grow as a player.”

When the curtains came up on Thursday’s practice, Bass wore a green t-shirt along with the four known starters: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Courtney Lee and Rajon Rondo. (Jason Terry conceded what everyone already assumed: He’ll spare Rondo and Lee off the bench in Avery Bradley‘s absence.) Sullinger wore white.

“I think that’€™s all Doc,” added Bass. “Doc sees that we have a talented group and we have more pieces than we had last year, and he’€™s just trying to see which group works best with who and things of that nature. But, being a player, you just play, continue to work on your game and just be able to make a play when your name is called.”

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Should you still care about the center position?

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

WALTHAM — As was evidenced by the NBA taking the center position off the All-Star ballot this week, the idea of traditional positions might be a thing of the past.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers spoke about the evolution of the game in that regard on Wednesday, and on Thursday Kevin Garnett spoke about how the center position has become more of a place for finesse and less of a place for prototypical big and strong 7-footers.

A power forward when he came into the league in 1995 and throughout the vast majority of his career, Garnett made the move to the center position for the C’s midway through last season and saw results that further agreed with the notion that traditional centers as the world once knew it are becoming less and less important.

“I just think it’s a versatility thing,” Garnett said. “Before, you had players like Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing, [Robert] Parish. Guys who had to play the 5 — methodical, traditional 5s, power game. I think you see the game going to a finesse game, so to speak. Since I’ve been in the league you’ve seen 3s turn into 4s, 4s turn into 5s, 2s turn into 3s. You have to be able to guard both and be able to do multiple things.

“I think 80s basketball and the early 90s, it was traditional basketball. When I say new basketball, new school, 2000, 2K — whatever you want to call it — is more of being agile, being able to guard multiple positions. I think Scottie Pippen, Robert Horry ‘€¦ those versatile players, I think that’s where the game has been. Not just on one side of the basketball. Now you see 3s and 4s switching, being able to switch, 2s and 3s switching. I just think it’s non-traditional. I think it’s more of an agile and finesse game.”

Garnett’s been in the league for as long as the changes of traditional positions have been going on. Asked if he recognizes himself as a bit of a pioneer among bigger bodies who provide versatility in their skill sets, Garnett agreed but noted he wasn’t the first and won’t be the last.

“I do, but I also like to give credit where credit is due, too. Those guys that played before, that I took examples [from],” he said. “I see me every day, so I’m not a big fan of me. Those are guys that I learned from, took some things from and was able to apply to my own game.”

Is Jeff Green the key for position-less Celtics?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

WALTHAM — On Wednesday, the NBA finally acknowledged reality and dropped the center position from the All-Star ballot. Now fans will vote on two guards and three “frontcourt” players. Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who is a member of the league’s competition committee, said that he pushed for more changes to the process.

“I just think it should be 12 guys,” Rivers said, meaning regardless of position. (He also hinted that All-Star roster may be expanded to include 13 players.)

The All-Star switch is a modest reflection that the NBA is in the midst of a slow and steady evolution away from traditional positions and the Celtics are right in the middle of it. Consider their starting lineup, which has remained a mystery throughout camp and will likely continue to remain one throughout the season.

Rajon Rondo is the point guard. Paul Pierce is a forward who plays on the wing and Kevin Garnett is the big man. After that, Rivers could start Jason Terry or Courtney Lee in the backcourt. When Avery Bradley comes back from shoulder surgery he’ll be in the mix, as well. Bradley guarded the other team’s point guard on defense, but played off the ball when he was on offense. Rivers has already said that he doesn’t have a backup point guard, he has four of them.

Up front, Jared Sullinger or Brandon Bass could start. Even a true big man like Darko Milicic could get a turn with Garnett getting a breather against some of the true remaining centers in the league.

“I think it’€™s pretty simple to figure out your starting lineup although this is going to be an unusual team in that I don’€™t think we’€™ll have a starting lineup for most of the year,” Rivers said. “We may move that one guy around quite a lot.”

Then there’s Jeff Green, who is not being considered for a starting job. He will do something more valuable. Green is expected to come off the bench and if the preseason is any indication, he’ll get about 25-30 minutes a night playing both forward positions. He’ll even work with Pierce in lineups where the whole concept of positions is completely meaningless. (more…)

Leandro Barbosa finally practices with Celtics

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

WALTHAM — Leandro Barbosa got his first practice in as a member of the Celtics Wednesday, as visa issues had kept him from playing in Sunday’s preseason finale against the 76ers.

“It was a good practice, and I got to get to know the plays, the defensive standpoint and all the things that they’ve been doing in training camp when I wasn’t here, so I think it was OK,” Barbosa said. “The coaches have been giving me a lot of attention. They’ve been helping me a lot. I think this is very important for me in the beginning, but also the players have been helping me too.”

Conditioning-wise, Barbosa said he felt fine throughout a practice that ran ran roughly three hours.

“I wasn’t playing that much when I was back in Brazil, but I think I’m OK so far for what we did today,” he said. “[Practice today] was long, but we didn’t go up and down. I think tomorrow we’ll go up and down. I think day-by-day I will be fine. I think I’ll pick it up little by little.”

The 29-year-old used to average around 30 minutes a game back in the day for the Suns but averaged 19.8 minutes in 22 games down the stretch last season with the Pacers. He knows that he might not get major minutes for the C’s, but he’s comfortable with whatever workload he’s given.

“I’m OK with whatever,” Barbosa said. “Whatever minutes I have on the court, I’m going to do my best to try to help my teammates, but if I don’t get on the court, it’s fine for me too. As long as the team is successful, I’ll be happy.”

Celtics’ ‘legit chance of beating’ Heat, Jeff Green as NBA’s ‘most underrated player’ and other Charles Barkleyisms

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Round Mound of Sound Charles Barkley joined fellow NBA on TNT studio analysts Reggie Miller and Shaquille O’Neal on a conference call Tuesday afternoon relayed by both the Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and all three agreed the Celtics have “a legit chance of beating” the Heat this season.

  • Barkley: “LeBron [James] covers up a lot of weaknesses because he’s so physically amazing, but Boston to me has a legit chance of beating them.”
  • Miller: “I love what Boston has done. They are 1-2 in the Eastern Conference. … This is a team that is primed. I would not be surprised to see those two teams in the conference finals again.”
  • O’Neal: “Miami is the team to beat. However, if Boston is healthy … they have a shot.”

Given that both teams met in an Eastern Conference finals that lasted seven games before Miami ultimately captured the NBA championship last season and the Celtics made significant upgrades to their roster, none of these remarks are all that surprising. But this one from Barkley is somewhat startling.

“I think the most underrated player in the NBA is Jeff Green,” said Barkley, who also proclaimed himself “a big Jeff Green fan” last season. “I know he didn’t play last year. I loved him in Oklahoma City. When he got to Boston, he went late into the year, so he really never got comfortable. I think he is going to be fantastic.”

Barkley also made some classic Barkley statements about the C’s Atlantic Division rivals.

“The Celtics got an older Kevin Garnett and a Paul Pierce,” he said. “They brought in all these younger guys to bring in energy and take the load off of Garnett and Paul Pierce, and the Knicks brought in a bunch of old geezers. Listen, I’m a big Marcus Camby fan and Jason Kidd is one of my favorite players, but they’re not going to be able to keep up in a seven-game series with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or playing against the Celtics in a seven-game series. Not even the 76ers — and I love what the 76ers have done — or the Brooklyn Nets. Those old guys are not gonna be able to compete with those young guys when those games come every other day.”