Archive for November, 2013

Stat Man: Avery Bradley is an elite jump shooter

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

One word said it all. When asked if he had more time to devote to his midrange game this summer — his first NBA offseason without injury issues — Celtics guard Avery Bradley said plainly, “Yes.”

For Bradley, it’s always been about confidence. After tumbling from nation’s No. 1 high school recruit in 2009 to No. 19 pick in the 2010 NBA draft and shooting 19.6 percent (9-46 FG) from anywhere outside the restricted zone as a rookie, he had none. Obviously, an ankle surgery that kept him from his first NBA training camp didn’t help matters, but slashing off the ball to the basket was the only offensive weapon in his arsenal that first year.

(NBA.com/stats key: Red = Below Average, Yellow = Average, Green = Above Average)

Bradley Basic 10-11

Bradley began his lockout-shortened sophomore season as most young players under Doc Rivers did — on the end of the bench — only earning significant playing time once Ray Allen‘s ankle issues flared in late January. After shooting just 1-for-12 from 3-point range through the first three months of the season, Bradley discovered another niche, adding a right-corner 3 to a quiver that still included all those backdoor cuts to the bucket.

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Fast Break: Celtics drop fifth straight, spoil Jared Sullinger’s first start

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

It wasn’t quite as bad as Tuesday’s loss to the Rockets, but the Celtics dropped their fifth straight, 104-93 to the Spurs.

The C’s actually played San Antonio to a standstill in the first half, but the defending Western Conference champions outscored Boston by 10 in the third quarter and never looked back.

Jared Sullinger totaled 19 points and 17 rebounds in his first start of the season. Avery Bradley and Jeff Green also chipped in with 19 points apiece, but the C’s fell to 4-9 on the season.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Giving it up: The Celtics committed 17 turnovers, and that’s not even the bad news. The Spurs were outscoring the C’s 25-0 on points off turnovers at one point. You’re not winning many games with that kind of discrepancy.

Bass low: Coming off the bench for the first time this season, Brandon Bass finished with a minus-21 plus/minus rating in 19 minutes. His six points tied a season-low and his one rebound was his lowest output since Jan. 2.

Interior defense: The biggest problem for the C’s this season has been the lack of an interior presence. The Spurs found Boris Diaw time and again wide open under the basket, and San Antonio finished with 48 points in the paint as a team. Starting bigs Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter combined for 24 points and 19 rebounds.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Jelly Sullynyk: Celtics coach Brad Stevens tried his fifth different lineup in his first 13 games, finally teaming the complementary Sullinger and Olynyk combination to open the first quarter. Sullinger responded with his first double-double of the season, and Olynyk added eight points and eight boards.

Bradley buckets: Starting 7-of-11 from midrange, Bradley improved to 47.6 percent (40-84 FG) from that range — a clip that ranks second among guards who play 20 minutes a night, trailing only Mo Williams. Bradley made a concerted effort to improve his jumper this summer — his first without an injury — and it’s paid off big time.

Green machine: After scoring just six points combined in his last two games, Green bounced back to score 19 points on 14 shots, adding five rebounds and three assists.

For a complete box score, click here.

NBA fines Gerald Wallace for swearing, warns Jared Sullinger for flopping

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The NBA levied a $10,000 fine against Celtics forward Gerald Wallace for his postgame comments during a locker room interview after Tuesday’s dreadful 109-85 loss to the Rockets. “I don’t know what the [expletive] tonight was, just to be honest with you,” Wallace told the media. “I don’t really know what was going on.”

Wallace has been extremely vocal after Celtics losses, regularly criticizing his teammates for their effort, but the NBA is walking a dangerous line by establishing a precedent for fining a player who used vulgar language during a locker room interview. After all, Kevin Garnett wasn’t exactly Mary Poppins.

Meanwhile, the NBA also issued a warning against Celtics forward Jared Sullinger for flopping while boxing out Houston center Dwight Howard. Of course, the game was already over at that point. A second offense would result in a $5,000 fine for Sullinger. In other words, swearing after a loss is twice as bad as flopping during one.

Celtics blown out by Rockets en route to fourth straight loss

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

The Celtics have been slapped with a big ol’ dose of NBA reality.

Brad Stevens’ team was blown out for a second straight road game, this time dropping a 109-85 decision to the Rockets in Houston. It was the Celtics’ fourth straight loss after having won four in a row.

The C’s continued to struggle offensively, having now scored under 90 points in six of their eight losses. This time the Celts’ woes came against a Houston team that came into the game having allowed the second-most points per game of any NBA team.

Not helping matters was the Celtics’ porous defense, with the Rockets shooting 57 percent. Houston managed the rout despite Dwight Howard totaling just 10 points. The hosts’ primary weapon was Terrence Jones, who scored a career-high 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field in just 27 minutes.

The game was never close, with the Rockets holding a 40-18 lead after the first quarter (going 16-of-20 from the field), and 68-44 advantage at halftime.

Courtney Lee led all Celtics scorers with 17 points, while Avery Bradley chipped in with 11 (although he only made five of his 22 shots from the floor). The C’s shot just 32 percent from the field.

For a complete box score, click here.

Knicks reportedly purusing deal for Rajon Rondo, but Celtics not interested

Monday, November 18th, 2013

According to a report from Frank Isola in the New York Daily News, the Knicks have been trying to entice the Celtics with a package of players in a deal for point guard Rajon Rondo. The Knicks are said to be looking to move guards Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton along with forward Amar’e Stoudemire. However, the report notes, the Celtics have yet to show much interest.

Isola also reported that Shumpert, who last week was rumored to be headed to the Nuggets for forward Kenneth Faried, had a second left knee operation over the summer — a procedure the Knicks did not make public. Isola reported in September that Stoudemire, who only played 29 games last season, also had knee surgery in the summer.

ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported that the Celtics would be willing to take on Stoudemire, but not for Rondo. Rather, the Celtics would be looking to deal Gerald Wallace and Courtney Lee.

Broussard writes that the Celtics “have every intention of keeping Rondo and seeing if they can build around him.”

Shumpert, the 17th overall pick in the 2011 draft, is averaging 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in nine games this season. The 29-year-old Felton, who has been battling a hamstring problem, is averaging 11.1 points and 5.2 assists in nine games. The 31-year-old Stoudemire, playing just 10.5 minutes per game over six contests, averages 3.2 points.

Celtics come up small against Timberwolves’ bigs in blowout loss

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

While the Celtics remained competitive through the first half, trailing by just five through two quarters, they were blown out on the road by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the third quarter en route to a 106-88 defeat. A competitive game became a blowout during a third quarter in which Minnesota outscored the visitors, 34-20.

The Celtics could do little to stop the T-Wolves’ bigs, as center Nikola Pekovic (20 points on 8-of-9 shooting) and Kevin Love (23 points) faced little opposition. Minnesota outscored the Celtics in the paint, 52-28.

Avery Bradley led the Celtics with a season-high 27 points (one short of his career high) on 12-of-23 shooting, but Jeff Green proved invisible (two points) while the Celtics turned over the ball 21 times.

The Celtics dropped to 4-7, having lost three in a row.

For more Celtics coverage, visit weei.com/celtics.

Blazers blow by defenseless C’s

Friday, November 15th, 2013
Jared Sullinger (7) and the Celtics couldn't get a grip on the Blazers Friday night. (AP)

Jared Sullinger (7) and the Celtics couldn’t get a grip on the Blazers Friday night. (AP)

Before Friday’s game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said any success on the upcoming road trip would rely on his team’s ability to play defense against some of the elite teams of the Western Conference.

If Friday night is any indication, they could be in for a long trip.

Nicolas Batum connected on 4-of-9 from 3-point range and finished with 18 points while LaMarcus Aldridge added a team-high 27 points and 12 rebounds to pace the Blazers to a 109-96 win over the Celtics Friday night at TD Garden.

The Celtics held Portland to just 8-of-22 shooting in the first quarter but still trailed, 23-21, heading into the second quarter.

But the second quarter was a different story as the Blazers started extending the Celtics defense and took 10 3-pointers, making four. The Celtics stayed close, shooting 64.3 percent, making 9-of-14 from the field. Vitor Faverani had all nine of his points in the quarter as the Celtics trailed 57-51 at the half.

Another huge factor in the game was the early foul trouble of Kelly Olynyk. The rookie was whistled for his third personal foul with 4:39 left in the second quarter and picked up his fourth just 29 seconds into the third quarter.

“Unfortunately, Kelly got the Sully treatment tonight,” joked Sullinger after the game, referring to the foul trouble Sullinger had in his rookie season last year.

The rough defense continued in the second half as the Blazers outscored the Celtics, 33-27, in the third quarter, led by 11 from Aldridge. Portland scored the last six points of the quarter to take a 90-78 lead into the final quarter.

The Celtics made it a seven-point game early in the fourth on back-to-back threes from Jared Sullinger and Courtney Lee but could get no closer. Sullinger led Boston with 26 points and eight rebounds in 36 minutes off the Boston bench.

Jeff Green (14) and Jordan Crawford (11) were the only other Celtics in double figures.

After winning four straight to even their record at 4-4, the 4-6 Celtics have lost their last two – both at home – and now head out on the road for a three-game road trip that begins Saturday night in Minnesota against the Timberwolves. They play Tuesday in Houston before wrapping up the swing on Wednesday in San Antonio against the Spurs.

The Blazers improved to 7-2 on the season.