|Is one NBA scout’s scathing take on Celtics accurate?||01.26.13 at 3:05 pm ET|
NBA general managers must be hovering like vultures over Danny Ainge‘s struggling Celtics, so it’s no surprise they are a main focus ESPN.com writer Marc Stein’s must-read Weekend Dime.
With all due respect to the NBA scout who rightfully ripped the Celtics to shreds in Stein’s piece, the outlook isn’t quite as bad as he makes it out to be, despite their current six-game losing streak.
“Their bench has to be playing at the top of their abilities for them to win.”
According to HoopsStats.com, the Celtics are 12-11 when their bench outperforms the opposing team’s and 7-11 when it doesn’t. That lends some credence to this statement, but they can win when their reserves don’t contribute. We knew these C’s would rely on their depth more this season than they have in the past, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers couldn’t even begin to structure a consistent rotation until Avery Bradley returned this month.
And they don’t have enough guys big-guy-wise that Doc [Rivers] is comfortable with.
The C’s everlasting search for frontcourt depth behind Kevin Garnett has been no secret. Hence, their rumored interest in both Marcin Gortat and DeMarcus Cousins. The struggles of Brandon Bass and the thumb injury to Chris Wilcox haven’t helped, but don’t rule out those two contributing more in the second half of the season.
|Carmelo Anthony: Kevin Garnett feud ‘overrated,’ Celtics crowd ‘kind of quiet’ and Knicks win ‘satisfying’||01.25.13 at 1:54 am ET|
Even before Celtics superstar Kevin Garnett and Knicks counterpart Carmelo Anthony‘s pregame fist bump, Boston’s Garden security starved the crowd of any further beef between the two NBA All-Star Game teammates, confiscating enough Honey Nut Cheerios paraphernalia to fill the rink for Friday’s Bruins game.
Of course, you’ll remember Anthony confronted Garnett at his team bus after the C’s defeated the Knicks, 102-96, in New York on Jan. 7. Rumors suggested KG told Melo his wife La La “tasted like Honey Nut Cheerios” — a claim all parties involved since denied — but Anthony earned a one-game suspension for his postgame antics.
“I think it was overrated,” said Anthony. “I think people just blew it up for no reason. They were just kind of waiting to see what was going to happen, but it’s sports. That’s what happens in sports.
On Thursday night, Anthony finally got his revenge, scoring 28 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dealing one of his three assists to teammate J.R. Smith for the dagger in an 89-86 “satisfying” victory in Boston.
“It was kind of quiet today for the most part,” Anthony said of a Garden crowd that NBA on TNT announcer Marv Albert accused of being artificially enhanced during the broadcast. “I was expecting there to be boos and a real hostile environment tonight, but it was cool for the most part.”
|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo’s triple-double can’t keep Celtics from five-game skid||01.24.13 at 10:43 pm ET|
Give them this: At least the Celtics played with heart, but the Knicks still handed them their fifth straight loss, an 89-86 defeat made even more discouraging by J.R. Smith‘s wide-open 3-pointer and Paul Pierce‘s turnover with several chances to tie the game in the final minute. Here’s what else went wrong (and right).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Terry dry: Since his return to the bench, where he’s been most comfortable during his career, Jason Terry continues to slump. He entered the game shooting under 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range in 22 minutes a night this month, and those numbers didn’t get any better. After getting off to an 0-for-4 start in his first six minutes, Rivers limited his playing time. Terry finished 1-for-6 in 14 minutes, including a costly fourth-quarter turnover.
Brain farts: As well as the Celtics played in stretches, they still took their foot off the pedal at times. The Knicks started the second quarter on a 9-0 run made up of a couple Amar’e Stoudemire buckets around the basket, a J.R. Smith layup and a Pablo Prigioni 3-pointer. In the third quarter, the Celtics committed five turnovers, including three that directly led to layups and New York’s 72-66 lead after three quarters.
Off the mark: While the C’s defense held the Knicks below 40 percent shooting on the night (38.6 percent FG), their offense wasn’t much better (40.8 percent FG). Despite getting a ton of open looks, the Celtics missed jumper after jumper. They combined for 3-of-18 shooting from beyond the arc, including an 0-for-5 night for backup guards Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa. Compounding that fact, the C’s didn’t tally a single point off their misses, getting outscored 16-0 on second-chance points.
|LeBron James thinks Paul Pierce got All-Star snubbed||01.24.13 at 8:14 pm ET|
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 25, 2013
Count Heat superstar LeBron James of all people as the first NBA player to count Celtics captain Paul Pierce among the Eastern Conference’s All-Star snubs. Pierce was left off the team for the first time since 2007, when he missed 35 games due to injury; the 35-year-old 10-time All-Star also made the East roster from 2002-06.
|Big Baby wants PB&J, and he wanted it yesterday||01.24.13 at 11:12 am ET|
Oh, Glen Davis, how do I miss thee? Let me count the ways … [thinking] … [still thinking] … on second thought, let’s not. Even if he has twice the production this season, I’m still taking Brandon Bass every day and twice on Sundays. Think of all the money the Celtics saved on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches alone?
|Was Avery Bradley firing a Twitter shot at Rajon Rondo?||01.23.13 at 3:08 pm ET|
After the Celtics’ fourth straight defeat — a 95-90 loss suffered at the hands of Kyrie Irving (40 points) and the Cavaliers — guard Avery Bradley tweeted: “Nobody will score 40 on [me] unless they take 40 shots.”
Irving scored his 40 on 24 shots, although just three of those attempts came against Bradley; meanwhile, the Cavs point guard made 6-of-11 attempts against Celtics point Rajon Rondo, according to Synergy Sports (h/t @ESPNForsberg. That may not even include plays like Irving’s isolation drive past with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter, when he blew by Rondo and got (questionably) fouled by Jared Sullinger on a three-point play.
So, why wasn’t Bradley — considered by many the best on-ball defender in the NBA — facing the surefire All-Star, particularly in that situation? While he’s recovering from a rib injury, Bradley played 26 effective minutes and was on the floor for the span from 2:31 to 0:22 of the fourth quarter, when Irving scored nine points on four layups.
When the C’s guard took to Twitter just minutes after the conclusion of the game, many considered it a veiled shot at Rondo, although Bradley quickly deleted the tweet and posted instead: “No shots at anybody. It’s confidence.”
|Celtics ‘monitoring’ Greg Oden’s comeback attempt||01.17.13 at 3:17 pm ET|
In their everlasting search for frontcourt depth, “the Celtics are among the team’s monitoring” 2007 NBA draft No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden‘s comeback attempt, according to CBSSports.com columnist Ken Berger.
Plagued by a series of knee injuries, the 7-foot, 250-pound Oden played just 82 games in a Blazers uniform, the last of which was played on Dec. 5, 2009. Portland waived him in March 2012 after his third surgery in five years.
Last week, ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein reported several teams, including the Heat, have already shown interest in signing Oden this winter with the hope of bringing him to training camp this fall. The Spurs and Cavaliers also appear to be in the mix for the former Ohio State star, CBSSports.com said.
Oden’s appeal is obvious. He’s a 7-footer who averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 22.1 minutes per game in his limited NBA action. The Celtics can’t offer more money than either the Heat or Spurs, but Jared Sullinger apparently has a relationship despite playing for the Buckeyes five years apart.