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Impromptu Irish Coffee: Celtics awesome at high-fiving 06.10.11 at 9:59 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your dose of Irish Coffee …

With only Northeastern product J.J. Barea‘s role in the demise of the Heat left for Boston NBA fans to root for, I’m not sure the news that the Celtics were the best team in the league at touching each other is any consolation.

But a recent study by researchers at the University of California indicated that the C’s are not only among the league’s elite in skill but also in chemistry, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The study analyzed the number of times NBA teammates touched each other, and the Celtics are some of the best high-fivers in the league.

After reviewing broadcasts of games from the 2008-09 season, they concluded that good teams tend to be much more hands-on than bad ones. Teams whose players touched the most often were more cooperative, played better and won more games, they said.

While there’s no evidence that an NBA team can touch its way to victory, the two touchiest teams in the study, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, finished the season with two of the NBA’s top three records.

So, where do they hang the banner: 2008-09 NBA Touchy-Feely Champions? Or is it a trophy of two players in a James Posey-Paul Pierce-like embrace? Does this make Brian Scalabrine Hall of Fame eligible as one of the great high-fivers in league history? So many questions.

And obviously Danny Ainge cost the Celtics another high-five title by trading Kendrick Perkins.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: UCLA SF Tyler Honeycutt 06.08.11 at 12:29 pm ET
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UCLA's Tyler Honeycutt speaks during an NCAA college basketball news conference in Tampa, Fla. , Friday March 18, 2011. UCLA plays Florida in a Southeast Regional tournament game on Saturday.

The selection of UCLA's Tyler Honeycutt could provide added depth behind Paul Pierce. (AP)

WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Tyler Honeycutt

Position: Small Forward

Team: UCLA

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 190 pounds

Stats: 12.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.7 apg

What he brings: A 6-foot-8 wing with elite athletic ability who has yet to realize his tremendous potential. A guy who could provide depth behind Paul Pierce and defend the likes of LeBron James and Luol Deng for spells. Sound familiar? That’s what Celtics fans have heard about Jeff Green for a few months now, so the selection of Honeycutt — who is most often compared to Tayshaun Prince — might be a bit redundant.

Still, the UCLA would-be junior small forward is an intriguing option. He can cause problems for opponents on the defensive end (1.6 blocked shots per game last season) and facilitate on the offensive end (2.8 assists per game). However, he’s prone to turnovers (3.0 per game) and battled injuries throughout his two college seasons (shoulder, elbow, tibia and spinal issues) in addition to being criticized for his aggressiveness and shooting woes.

His numbers aren’t spectacular (his field-goal percentage dropped from 49.6 percent as a freshman to 40.6 percent as a sophomore), but the same could be said for recent UCLA-turned-NBA standouts Russell Westbrook, Jrue Holiday, Darren Collison, Aaron Afflalo and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. The simple fact that Honeycutt (along with college teammate Malcolm Lee) is the latest product from Ben Howland‘s system makes him worth a long look.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round.

What they’re saying: “It won’t surprise me if he goes top 10 in the draft, not at all, because of his talent. I know what he can do, so if he goes seven or eight it won’t surprise me at all. As a matter of fact, it would probably surprise me if he went 20-30. That would surprise me. Because once people really see how talented he is, then they will understand my crazy comment.” – Sylmar (Calif.) High head coach Bort Escoto (Honeycutt’s high school coach)

Notes: There are two more peripheral things that would give me pause if I were Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge: 1) The professional athlete the Los Angeles-born Honeycutt admires most? Kobe Bryant; and 2) When a member of the Cavaliers brass asked him who he would choose if he had to pick between his girlfriend and his dog, Honeycutt was stumped. “I just didn’t even answer,” Honeycutt told Sports Illustrated. “I said I couldn’t answer that. It’s too hard to pick.” Ouch.

Video:

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: USC C Nikola Vucevic 06.06.11 at 12:11 pm ET
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USC center Nikola Vucevic's stock has risen ever since he walked onto a college campus three years ago. (AP)

WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Nikola Vucevic

Position: Center

Team: University of Southern California

Height: 7-foot

Weight: 260 pounds

Stats: 17.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.4 bpg

What he brings: Nikola Vucevic may be a European center, but unlike many before him he’s not an unknown commodity. He played his senior year of high school at Stoneridge Prep (Simi Valley, Calif.) before earning a scholarship to USC.

After averaging just 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds as a freshman, he captured Pac-10 Most Improved Player honors in his sophomore campaign and produced 17.1 points (50.5 FG%, 34.9 3-PT FG% & 75.5 FT%), 10.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 blocks before declaring for the draft after his junior season.

The tallest player at the 2011 NBA combine, Vucevic possesses a lot of qualities generally associated with European bigs — touch around the rim, a reliable mid-range jump shot (as well as developing 20-foot-plus range) and a lack of athleticism. He’s been criticized for his failure to play “above the rim” and his lack of success against athletic NBA-caliber big men. However, his high motor, particularly on the defensive glass, has separated him a bit from the stereotype.

More skilled than a guy like Semih Erden, Vucevic is expected to be a valuable backup center in the NBA — a role the Celtics most definitely need to fill. Touted for his high character, Vucevic has hinted that he may play in Europe for a year should a lockout threaten the 2011-12 NBA season, and such experience could actually serve the still-developing center well.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round.

What they’re saying: “His strength, his conditioning, and the key, for me, for Nik to make it in the NBA, he has to become a proficient NBA 3-point shooter, which is a much harder shot than the college 3. And he’s not a totally proficient college 3-point shooter, yet. He’s got to be shooting four times a week, 1,000 NBA 3s a day. That’s what he needs.” — USC coach Kevin O’Neill

Notes: The Swiss-born Vucevic was raised in Belgium before moving to Montenegro as a teenager. Both of his parents — father Borislav and mother Ljiljana — played both professionally and for the Yugoslavian men’s and women’s national teams, as chronicled in this LA Times piece. Vucevic himself has played for the Montenegro U20 national team, averaging 15.5 points and 10.8 rebounds during the 2009 European Championships. Oh, and Vucevic, who said he would want to be an actor if he weren’t a basketball player (hence, USC), learned English partly as a result of watching “Love & Basketball” over and over.

Video:

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Tokyo Apache PF/C Jeremy Tyler 06.01.11 at 2:48 pm ET
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Jeremy Tyler would be a project, but his upside may be too tempting to resist. (AP)

WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Jeremy Tyler

Position: Power Forward/Center

Team: Tokyo Apache

Height: 6-foot-11

Weight: 262 pounds

Stats: 9.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg

What he brings: It’s been a wild ride for a kid who’s only 19 years old. Tyler reneged on a commitment to play for Rick Pitino at the University of Louisville and signed with the Israeli league’s Maccabi Haifa for $140,000 — foregoing his senior year of high school. He then left Maccabi over a playing time dispute. From there, he signed in Japan to play for Bob Hill and the Tokyo Apache (if you’ll remember, Hill is the last man not named Gregg Popovich) to coach the Spurs .

Tyler is a project, no doubt, but it’s not like an American has never made the leap from overseas to the NBA (see: Jennings, Brandon). As a junior at California’s San Diego High, he averaged 28.7 points, 12 rebounds and nine blocks per game, vaulting himself to a top-five national recruit ranking in the Class of 2010 alongside guys like Kyrie Irving, Jared Sullinger and Brandon Knight. Whether or not Tyler still belongs in that conversation depends on who you ask.

Athletic, physical, defensive-minded guys with top-five upside who are 6-foot-11 aren’t easy to find, so somebody will take a chance on him. Tyler is said to have matured as a result of Hill’s tutelage and his experience in Japan. That and his 7-foot-5 wingspan may have played his way into the first found at the recent NBA Draft Combine.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round.

What they’re saying: “It’s a case-by-case basis. Some [overseas players] will be successful and others won’t. But Brandon Jennings didn’t hurt his draft stock at all. … I have a hard time with that because I believe people should have a right to earn a living. But if you’re not doing it for financial reasons, you should definitely go to college.” — Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Notes: The trials and tribulations of Tyler are many. A Google search of “Jeremy Tyler” and “NBA” returns 89,900 results. But these three articles from The New York Times chronicle Tyler’s unique path better than most.

Video:

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Instant Irish Coffee: Big Baby blogs 05.31.11 at 10:27 am ET
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Following an atrocious performance for the Celtics in the conference semifinals against the Heat, free agent Glen Davis is refocusing on two things that made him so successful to start the 2010-11 season — working out and eating right — as well as one new hobby: blogging.

Here’s a bit from Big Baby, who took some time out from eating chicken burgers, pasta and kale with strength and conditioning coach Kevin Kearns to blog at iambigbaby.com:

I am very excited to start working out again, set some summer goals and really get ready for next season. It is all about a balanced lifestyle, putting time in at the gym and eating right. I have a great team around me and as you will see my main man, my trainer, is already trying to one up me in the first edition!

While Davis may have a great team of trainers around him, he doesn’t have a basketball team to play with quite yet. The Celtics have said they will offer Davis a contract but won’t match an offer from another team that exceeds his value to the Celtics.

Of course, as is always the case, the blog isn’t always entirely accurate (it is the Internet after all). In his second entry, two weeks ago, he was under the impression that the Celtics had gotten a No. 2 seed in the NBA Playoffs. Perhaps that’s why he seemed so confused in Miami.

IMPORTANT NBA COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT DATES

If you’re at all interested in the possibility of an NBA lockout, Ken Berger‘s piece over the weekend is a must read. He highlights a few important dates in the negotiations and compares the NBA’s predicament to the current NFL fiasco. Here’s an important note:

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Columnists: Less Kendrick Perkins is a good thing? 05.23.11 at 8:59 am ET
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While many Celtics fans wished Danny Ainge could hit the rewind button on the trade deadline and get more playoff minutes out of Kendrick Perkins, at least two NBA columnists have urged Thunder head coach Scott Brooks to do the exact opposite and give the former C’s center less playing time.

Mavericks center Tyson Chandler is averaging 8.7 points on 60 percent shooting and 12.0 rebounds in 33 minutes a night, leading Dallas to a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals. Meanwhile, Perkins has produced just 5.0 points and 4.7 rebounds in 27 minutes a game.

Here’s Oklahoman columnist Darnell Mayberry’s take on the lopsided matchup:

In Perkins’ 82 minutes of playing time, the Thunder has been outscored by 32 points. With Perk on the bench, the Thunder has outscored the Mavs by 23. Furthermore, with Chandler on the court, Perkins’ plus/minus per 36 minutes is minus-17.7, according to NBA.com’s StatsCube data.

Perkins has the worst plus/minus of any Thunder player in this series.

By comparison, the Mavs have outscored the Thunder by 19 points with Chandler on the court. And Chandler has made his impact mostly against Perkins, compiling a per 36-minute plus/minus of plus-17.7 with Perkins on the court and a minus-15.8 with Perkins on the bench.

And here’s ESPN.com columnist and stats guru John Hollinger’s breakdown:

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Celtics made Doc Rivers highest-paid NBA coach 05.19.11 at 10:47 am ET
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Doc Rivers (AP)

Following the retirement of Phil Jackson, formerly the only eight-figure earner among coaches in the four major sports, Doc Rivers has become the highest paid coach in the NBA, according  to Forbes Magazine.

After making $5.5 million this past season, Rivers will now make an average of $7 million over the next five seasons after signing a $35 million extension. He surpassed Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, who both make $6 million per season.

Interestingly, the magazine credits the jumps by Rick Pitino from the University of Kentucky to the Celtics and John Calipari from UMass to the Nets “as the catalysts driving NBA coaching salaries to a new level.”

Meanwhile, the Celtics may have to hire a new assistant coach, as Lawrence Frank is a candidate for the opening head coaching positions for the Warriors and Rockets, although Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey appears to be the favorite in Houston, according to CBS Sports.

As a side note, Forbes determined Patriots head coach Bill Belichick‘s annual estimated salary of $7.5 million is the highest paycheck for any coach in the four major sports.

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