Box and 2: Inside Celtics, Bucks and Wizards, oh my
|11.05.12 at 2:39 pm ET|
— Called upon by Doc Rivers Friday night to protect the paint against the Bucks, when smaller lineups weren’t working, Darko Milicic played 4:30 of the first quarter. He missed his only shot — an air-balled baby left hook — and committed more turnovers (2) than he totaled rebounds (1) or blocks (0). Then, he didn’t play Saturday.
Kevin Garnett: “We’re still playing with the chemistry. We have different lineups in which Doc is playing with simultaneously, and we’re still working. No one said this was going to be an easy process.”
Translation: “The Darko Experiment is called that for a reason. Let’s just hope it doesn’t blow up in our face.”
— Over the weekend, Brandon Bass finished a minus-11 in 40:52 without Jared Sullinger on the floor. The Celtics outscored the opponent in just two of his 10 stints sans Sullinger — by one in the final 3:53 of the first quarter against the Wizards and by two Terry free throws in the final 1:35 of that game. Without Bass on the floor, Sullinger finished a plus-14 in 33:29, and the C’s outscored opponents in five of those eight stints. (In case you were wondering, the two played 14:40 together, finished a minus-9 and only outscored opponents once in six stints.)
Rivers (via the Herald): ‘[Sullinger] brings a different component, more importantly rebounding. He knows how to play without the ball. He’s a great passer. He blends well with our starting group.’
Translation: “Sorry Brandon, but you’re going to see a lot more Sullinger in the starting lineup.”
— In eight minutes against the Wizards, Chris Wilcox had zero points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks while committing two personal fouls. Whether it’s the back injury or his recovery from heart surgery, this isn’t the same Wilcox who averaged 7.2 points and 6.0 boards in his final full month last season. Given the failure of Wilcox, Milicic and the Sullinger/Bass combo to contribute without Kevin Garnett on the floor, there’s no solution in sight. This weekend, the Celtics were 42.2 points better per 36 minutes with Garnett as opposed to without.
Rivers (via the Herald): ‘We’ve just got to find the right group of guys. I’m actually not as concerned with the starters. I’m actually not as concerned with the starters. I’m far more concerned with the second unit. We’ve got to find a consistent second group.’
— Milwaukee’s 52 points in the paint are one thing. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis combining for 13 shots at the rim is another. The C’s backcourt couldn’t keep their counterparts out of the key, and the frontcourt couldn’t make them pay when they got there. While that points in the paint number improved to 32 against the Wizards, don’t forget their starting backcourt, A.J. Price and Bradley Beal, has three years NBA experience between them.
Jeff Green: “We’ve just gotta come together a little bit more and figure out a way. These games are going to be tough. Teams are no longer scared. We’ve just gotta go out there, make plays and start it off on the defensive end.”
Translation: “Not even the Bucks are scared of our defense right now. That’s a problem.”
— At 6-foot-8, 226 pounds, Bucks starter Tobias Harris is on the larger side of NBA wings, and he torched both Pierce and Green on Friday night. He scored 18 points on 11 shots, making six of his eight buckets in the paint. Not a good sign when they face bigger wings with more athleticism than Harris (see: James, LeBron).
Pierce: “We have to have guys ready to step up. It really wasn’t about me, it was about the way our team played tonight, which was disappointing on offense and on defense. Both sides of the ball, we just didn’t play well.”
Translation: “Wasn’t Jeff Green supposed to take some pressure off me on both ends of the floor?”
— Even last season, when Jason Terry shot 43 percent from 16-23 feet — his worst since Hoopdata started tracking shot locations in 2007 — he ranked among the top 20 guards who played 20-plus minutes a night. This weekend? He shot 1-for-7 from mid-range (22.2% for the season; 50% from everywhere else on the floor).
Terry (via ESPN.com): ‘I’m still trying to get comfortable within the structure of the team. I’m a work in progress. I’m very optimistic. … We have to continue to grow and there are going to be some speed bumps along the way.’
Translation: “You haven’t seen anything from the JET yet, but I’m about to arrive. Hopefully.”
— After struggling from 3-point range in the preseason (7-of-21), Courtney Lee is shooting just 2-of-8 beyond the arc through three games (1-7 over the weekend). That’s a total of 31.0 percent in a Celtics uniform — a far cry from his career 38.6 percent average. Note that both his triples this season have come from the corner, where he shot almost 50 percent last year (50-103). (He shot 33% from above the break in 2011-12 and is 0-3 so far this year).
Lee: “The last thing we’re going to worry about is our offense, because you look at our roster, you have people on our team that can go out and get 20 or 30 every night.”
Translation: “Keep leaving me open in the corner. Seriously.”
— Unsurprisingly, Rondo tied John Stockton for the NBA’s fourth-longest streak of games with 10-plus assists (27) over the weekend. Here’s the shocker: Against the Wizards, Rondo made a pair of 3-pointers for only the eighth time in his career, equaling the number of times he accomplished that feat all of last season. In fact, he made almost as many corner treys against Washington (1) as he did all of last year (2). Actually, both his mid-range (54.6%) and 3-point (40.0%) shooting stats are up from last year (39.3%, 23.8%).
Rondo: ‘We’ve got to each look ourselves in the mirror and just try to find a way to dig down and bring something to what we’ve been doing, bring a little bit more to the game.’
Translation: “Hey, in case you haven’t noticed, I can shoot now.”