Archive for November, 2012

Doc Rivers tells Kevin Garnett to remind the team: ‘Hey, I’m here’ on offense

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

WALTHAM — Sometimes on a team with so many options, it helps to remind your teammates what you can do for them.

That’s what Doc Rivers wants Kevin Garnett to do more often.

Recently, the Celtics head coach told his superstar big man that he needs to remind his teammates that he can still score in the post. As a matter of fact, the numbers would indicate he’s the number one offensive option, even ahead of Paul Pierce.

The 36-year-old Garnett had 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the floor in a season-high 36 minutes in Sunday’s overtime win in Orlando. He also had 10 rebounds. Garnett is shooting 51.5 percent from the floor, second only to Rajon Rondo (51.7). He is the leading rebounder by far at 7.4 per game.

Rivers will usually talk to the team about making sure they look at Garnett in the low post because he can create his offense from so many places and he’s still one of the best passers among bigs in the NBA. But Rivers told Garnett that the coach can’t always be the one to do the talking.

“He has to remind them, too. I tell him that. I tell him that in front of the team. It’s both of us. I’ll tell him that you have to say, ‘Hey, I’m here.’ It goes both ways.”

Brandon Bass knows that when Garnett gets it going, it helps out others in the post, like him.

“I just think it’s important for us every night to get Kevin going early and when do that, we actually play better and [usually] win,” Bass said. “We have so many guys and so many options that sometimes we might lose sight but we can’t because he’s so important to the team.”

Brazilian legend Leandro Barbosa gets his kicks with Celtics

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Leandrinho. The Brazilian Blur. LB.

Leandro Barbosa has many different nicknames, but to anyone who has ever met the man, only one word will do.

Leandro Barbosa has provided a spark off the bench for the Celtics this season. (AP)

Beloved.

“There was nobody who didn’t like LB,” said Jack McCallum, the longtime Sports Illustrated journalist and author of “Seven Seconds or Less,” a phenomenal snapshot of the Suns team — and the league — during the 2005-06 season. “LB was loved. He had a kind of innocence about him, and a real work ethic with the way he approached everything. He looked at himself as kind of an open book whereas a lot of guys who come into the NBA — guys without LB’s ability or talent — think they know everything, but LB was never like that.”

Barbosa, who celebrates his 30th birthday Wednesday, grew up in São Paulo, the world’s seventh largest city by population, and a hotbed for soccer.

“I’m from Brazil, so everybody knows about soccer,” said Barbosa, whose subtle accent still creeps up in conversation. “I used to play when I was a little kid, but I decide to play a different sport.”

Barbosa, the youngest of five children, wanted to play basketball for a pretty simple reason.  His brother played.

“My brother Arturo played professionally,” Barbosa said. “I always was around him; whatever he was doing, I wanted to do the same thing.  I decided to play basketball because of him. Arturo started teaching me how to play.”

Arturo, 20 years older than Barbosa, became a driving force in his little brother’s basketball career.

“Arturo was a pretty tough taskmaster,” McCallum said. “I don’t think those of us in the States really understand much about how kids in other countries learn the game. We just know they learn the game differently. LB still has scars from Arturo.”

McCallum wasn’t talking figuratively. If Barbosa made a mistake in his ball-handling drills, there were consequences. Arturo would whack him with a stick.

“I had to be quick with the ball, quick with my hands, because if I wasn’t, he slapped with me the stick,” said Barbosa, who still bears the scars on both hands. “At the time, as a kid, I was crying. I didn’t know why he was doing that. But if it wasn’t for all the work he put in, I don’t think I’d be here in the NBA. Those drills still stay with me.”

(more…)

Leandro Barbosa understands when you play defense ‘everything comes automatic’

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

WALTHAM — Leandro Barbosa has heard the time-tested expression in basketball over and over: defense wins championships. Now, after nine full seasons in the NBA, the 29-year-old finally is on a team that believes it.

Growing up in Brazil and playing his formative NBA seasons in Phoenix, Barbosa was all about getting to the basket at all costs but the defensive side of his game was admittedly not a priority. When he signed with the Celtics on Oct. 18, all of that changed.

“It’s different,” Barbosa said after practice on Tuesday. “Especially, for me, I came in late. I’m trying to work really hard to pick things up really quick. I’m happy to be involved, and we’re doing better. Hopefully, next game we’ll do even better.

“I feel great. I think the most important thing is to feel comfortable. I think I’m feeling that right now. The coaches talk to me in a lot of different ways, in an offensive standpoint and an offensive standpoint. I’m just enjoying it right now.”

Barbosa said the biggest change in his philosophy came from the coaching staff.

“I think this is the first team that is a defensive team, and I’m happy because I know that I have to definitely be better on the defensive end,” Barbosa said. “From where I come from, we don’t play defense, and I’m talking about Brazil. So, we’re getting better. I’m very happy and getting myself better.

“What I learned, when you play defense, everything comes automatic. Especially, on this team we have so many weapons, I don’t think we don’t have to worry about offense. To go to the championship, we have to play better defense. That’s what we’re looking for and what we’re working for.”

Irish Coffee: Why Rajon Rondo’s assist streak is more impressive than John Stockton’s or Magic Johnson’s

Monday, November 26th, 2012

This topic stemmed from a conversation with Celtics guard Jason Terry about the evolution of the assist after colleague Rob Bradford compared the dwindling distribution of assists to baseball errors: Considering teams in the 1980s scored at a higher rate, is Rajon Rondo‘s current streak of 37 consecutive games with at least 10 assists more impressive than John Stockton‘s string of 37 in 1989 or Magic Johnson’s record stretch of 46 in 1983?

In a word? Yes. Let the 35-year-old NBA veteran of 13 seasons who grew up on ’80s basketball explain.

“It’s just a different style of play,” said Terry, whose longest streak of double-digit assists lasted all of three games in 2003. “Now, it’s a lot more difficult to get those assists per se as in the ’80s. If you look at the style of play, it was up-and-down, run-and-gun. Now, there are much more intricate defenses. There’s also the zone defense, so it makes it a lot tougher to get assists. So, that makes his feat a lot more amazing.”

Great points all around. Let’s look at that style of play. Last season, when Rondo’s streak began, the C’s averaged only 90.4 possessions per 48 minutes. By comparison, in 1989, when Stockton’s stretch started, the Jazz averaged 98.0; and in 1983, when Magic’s string commenced, the Lakers averaged a whopping 103.8. All three hover around the league average that season, so defense has clearly muddled the pace over the years.

To put a finer point on it, not only must Rondo generate his assists on fewer possessions — and thus fewer field goal attempts — but the maturation of defensive schemes over the past quarter-century has also forced lower shooting percentages. Translation: Even fewer opportunities for Rondo to collect his dimes.

(more…)

Fast Break: Rajon Rondo stops Magic, ties John Stockton for consecutive double-digit assists

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

The Magic finally missed a couple of 3-pointers, and for the Celtics, the misses couldn’t have come at a better time. Both Jameer Nelson and Glen Davis missed treys in the final minute, and the Celtics made 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch to escape Orlando with a 116-110 overtime victory.

Rajon Rondo (15 points, 16 assists, 9 rebounds) fell one rebound short of his first triple-double of the season (and 24th of his career), but he did eclipse double-digit assists for the 37th straight game, tying John Stockton for the second-longest streak in NBA history, trailing only Magic Johnson (46).

Kevin Garnett (24 points, 10 rebounds) notched his first double-double since Nov. 9, and Paul Pierce added 23 points despite missing his signature elbow jumper at the end of regulation. Leandro Barbosa (15 points), Brandon Bass (13 points) and Jared Sullinger (11 points) also reached double figures for the Celtics (8-6).

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Blurring the lines: In four first-half minutes, Leandro Barbosa scored 11 points, making all four of his shots, including a pair of 3-pointers and a traditional three-point play. He entered the game averaging 15.8 points, 4.5 assists and 2.7 rebounds per 36 minutes, and that kind of production can’t be ignored. Makes you wonder how many guard minutes will be left for Courtney Lee once Avery Bradley returns.

Painting a masterpiece: Without Dwight Howard to stop them, the Celtics took full advantage of a rare frontcourt strength advantage. At halftime, when the Celtics built a 58-48 advantage, the Celtics owned the advantage in points in the paint (30-16) rebounds (23-21) and second-chance points (10-4). Rarely do the C’s lead any of those three categories, but it’s nice to see Pierce, Garnett and Bass deliver when they should.

Sully tapped: Less than two minutes into his night, Jared Sullinger‘s first attempt got swatted back into his face by Josh McRoberts. It was the beginning of an 0-for-3 start for the Celtics rookie. The larger concern: Opponents have blocked 19.4 percent of Sullinger’s shots this season, which ranks fifth-worst among NBA players who average at least 15 minutes a night. But Sullinger responded, taking a page out of Glen Davis‘ around-the-basket book, making five of his next nine shots to finish with 11 points and six boards in 19:25 off the bench.

(more…)

Chris Wilcox: Secret to the Rajon Rondo alley-oop

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

The secret to that Rajon Rondo-to-Chris Wilcox alley-oop that’s been so successful — despite just 33 games together as Celtics teammates — really isn’t all that complicated.

“It is what it is, man,” said Wilcox, whose averaging 13.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per 36 minutes. “I’m playing hard, just trying to be in the right spot at the right time, and good things happen. His No. 1 goal is to find us, to find the open man. All I do is just make it easier for myself and get to the right spot at the right time.”

Remarkably, 19 of Wilcox’s 21 field goals this season have come at the rim, where he’s making 86.4 percent of his shots (19-22 FG), and 15 of them have come from assists. The other four? All from offensive rebounds. He’s made a living from scoring around the basket — honing his alley-oop skills from guys like Andre Miller and Sam Cassell on the Clippers as well as Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson on the Sonics — but never like this.

“Rondo’s one of a kind,” said Wilcox.” I’ve been with some great point guards — Andre Miller, Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson — and they were basically the same kind of point guards. You just get to the right spot and good things happen. I’m just out there trying to be aggressive and trying to make things easier for him.”

(more…)

Jeff Green: ‘Being aggressive’ turns out to be his niche

Saturday, November 24th, 2012


Doc Rivers told Jeff Green Friday morning during shootaround to “just go play” and everything else will take care of itself.

Green went out and make Rivers look very smart as he scored 17 points and showed a driving and cutting game not seen in his game this year as the Celtics beat the Thunder, 108-100, Friday night at TD Garden.

“I was aggressive, attacking the rim,” Green said. “Just trying to make plays, and you know got to the free throw line a couple times. Got an and one, just being aggressive that’s what I gotta do. I just gotta find my niche and I just gotta to work at it and continue to stay positive and continue to be aggressive.”

The reason Rivers wanted Green to play instinctively was because he knows how good he can be when plays break down.

“I thought Jeff Green was spectacular,” Rivers said. It’s funny, I think the two plays that I called for him. He didn’t score on those. He scored on all the plays that wasn’t his and that’s what we kept telling him he has to do. Stop waiting for us to call it, go get it, and I thought he did that. A lot of good efforts.”

“You still gotta do what you gotta do and you do whatever it takes for your team to win,” Green said.

Green even helped out on defending Kevin Durant, guarding him when the second unit was on the floor.

“He still got 29 [points], Green said out of humility. “We just tried to make every shot for him tough. He’s [darn] near seven feet, but the handle that he’s got and the way he can shoot it’s tough. So you just gotta make every shot for him tough.”

Making him work defensively-“You got to, you got to. You gotta make him play both ends. We got him in foul trouble. We gotta be aggressive, we can’t allow him to relax at all on the defensive end.”

What did Green learn about how good the Celtics can be?

“We are one hell of a defensive team when we are in sync and that’s how we gotta be each game,” Green said.