|Irish Coffee: Why Celtics should fear Suns||01.28.11 at 12:33 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
I’ve got to hand it to colleague Jerry Spar for this one. It’s not surprising that the Celtics haven’t performed well on back-to-back nights when the second game is on the road, regardless of where the first game is played. What’s surprising is how putrid they’ve been in those situations this season.
And they’ve found themselves in that situation again Friday night, as the Celtics take on the Suns in Phoenix less than 24 hours and 1,300 miles removed from defeating the Trail Blazers 88-78 in Portland Thursday night.
Here’s how the Celtics have fared on the road during the second leg of back-to-back nights:
- Oct. 27 at Cleveland: 95-87 loss
- Nov. 8 at Dallas: 89-87 loss
- Dec. 9 at Philadelphia: 102-101 win
- Dec. 29 at Detroit: 104-92 loss
- Jan. 8 at Chicago: 90-79 loss
- Jan. 22 at Washington: 85-83 loss
Note: This doesn’t include the Nov. 22 game at Atlanta (a 99-76 win), because the game the day before (at Toronto) was played in the afternoon, not at night — allowing for extra travel/recovery time.
For those of you counting at home, that’s a 1-5 record in such instances, with the lone win a one-point decision over a 20-25 Sixers team that required a Kevin Garnett alley-oop with 1.4 seconds left.
The Celtics have five remaining games in these situations:
- Friday at Phoenix
- March 14 at New Jersey
- March 19 at New Orleans
- March 28 at Indiana
- April 1 at Atlanta
Note: This doesn’t include Feb. 7 at Charlotte or April 11 at Washington because the games the previous days are in the afternoon.
Spar took this breakdown further, noting that the C’s have had four occurrences when they’ve played the second game on back-to-back nights at home (the first game was on the road each time). They’re 4-0 in those instances.
The fact that the Celtics are four-point favorites tonight in Phoenix makes all this even more interesting.
THE CASE FOR KENDRICK PERKINS
I won’t bore you with in-depth statistical analysis like I did the other day, so I’ll let the New York Times do it for me. If you like this stuff, as I do, you’ll love this piece about why Kendrick Perkins makes a huge difference.
While Perkins’ 36-minute averages last season of 13.2 points and 9.8 rebounds are good, they don’t reflect the Celtics center’s impact, particularly defensively. Even the adjusted plus/minus statistics that author Michael Lewis unveiled to portray the relative value of a player like Shane Battier don’t help Perkins’ case.
Over his last two seasons of action, Perkins has posted a -5.76 adjusted plus/minus, one of the worst marks in the league. Adjusted plus/minus is far from infallible, but characteristically it favors guys who fall in line with Perkins’ reputation: tough-defending, solid-rebounding, low-usage role players on winning teams.
Furthermore, when you look at the production of his individual opponents, Perkins’ 2009-10 numbers aren’t so favorable, either, as they were for Battier.
In each of his last two seasons, Perkins has allowed opposing centers to produce at an above average rate, a curiosity for a well-regarded player whose primary contributions come on the defensive end.
Yet, when you examine his per-possession statistics, it sheds some light on Perkins’ value.
According to Synergy Sports Technology, Perkins allowed just 0.77 points per possession in the post during the 2009-10 season, a truly impressive mark. Opponents on the low block shot just 38.5 percent despite their proximity to the basket, and Perkins, amazingly, fouled opponents on only 6.3 percent of their post-up possessions. Go back to the 2008-09 season and the numbers get even better: 0.73 points per possession allowed and 35.4 percent shooting.
Following an ugly, ugly game that saw the Celtics tie a season-high for turnovers (21), the Trail Blazers still had high praise for their Eastern Conference foes. Here‘s what they told the Oregonian:
LaMarcus Aldridge: “They showed why they are champions. They played championship basketball. They do a good job of taking away the paint. Every time I wanted to go middle, I never saw anything [open]. I tried to force it a couple times, turned it over, but I think they are one of the best teams at not … letting you get to the basket.”
Nate McMillan: “That’s a great team. That team is prepared and built to win a championship. I thought our guys scrapped. I thought they played hard. They battled tonight. But they have so many options that they can go to. When you have that many options and that team is locked in to playing that way, knowing how to win. It’s going to be a tough game.”
Two other interesting statistics from the Celtics’ victory on Thursday night:
- Portland out-shot the C’s, 90-64, but made only three more field goals (33-30).
- In just 31 minutes, Kevin Garnett nearly recorded his first triple-double of the season (10 points, 9 rebounds and a season-high 9 assists).
|NBA Power Rankings, 1/27||01.27.11 at 5:38 pm ET|
1. San Antonio (39-7): It seems like every time I look at the NBA standings, the Spurs are 9-1 in their last 10 games. It’s ridiculous. According to John Hollinger’s playoff odds, San Antonio has a 78.1 percent chance of capturing the top seed out West and homecourt throughout the playoffs. Yet, their odds of making the Finals are just 27.3 percent, despite possessing the league’s best home record at 24-2. Strange.
2. Boston (34-10): The Celtics lost another game to a bad team when they fell to the Wizards over the weekend, but we’ll give them a break considering it was once again the result of playing on the road in the second game of a back-to-back following a plane trip. Losses to the Cavaliers, Rockets and Wizards are the only reason the C’s aren’t ranked No. 1, because no team has been better than them — when motivated.
3. LA Lakers (33-13): The silhouette of the NBA’s logo, former Lakers general manager Jerry West eased off his comments that the Lakers are too old to play defense (they’re ranked 10th in points allowed), but he didn’t back down from saying he wouldn’t want to play the Celtics every other night — calling the C’s the favorites over the Lakers to win the NBA title.
4. Miami (31-13): Speaking of predictions involving the Celtics and Lakers, Phil Jackson obviously chimed in, as he doesn’t believe the Heat can get by the Celtics to reach the NBA Finals. Considering the Celtics still own a 2-0 record against Miami (and it wasn’t even that close), how can you argue with Jackson? Especially after you watch some of the poses Chris Bosh gets into during his Maxim shoot.
5. Chicago (31-14): I figured the Bulls could be a top-five team once Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah were both healthy at the same time. It turns out Noah’s presence isn’t necessary for that to happen. Perhaps more important than homecourt advantage in the Celtics’ chase for the No. 1 seed is the fact that — as it stands now — they’d only have to face the Heat or Bulls and not both in the playoffs.
|Irish Coffee: Celtics less valuable than Lakers||01.27.11 at 12:10 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
According to Forbes Magazine’s latest valuations of all 30 NBA franchises, 17 teams hemorrhaged money over the last year — the highest number since the 1998-99 lockout — despite the fact that 24 of those 30 clubs generated at least $100 million in revenue.
Based on the numbers, the Celtics are the fourth most valuable franchise in the NBA. They generated $151 million in revenue while the franchise’s value rose 5 percent over the past year, yet they made just $4.2 million.
When the magazine released the same figures just over a year ago, the Celtics ranked as the eighth-most valuable franchise, generating less revenue but taking home almost $9 million more in income.
Despite the state of the U.S. economy, the average value of all 30 NBA franchises rose 1 percent since the magazine’s last valuations. However, the average team’s operating income fell 22 percent — to $6.1 million — “the lowest figure since the 2002-03 season.”
In the offseason, Amar’e Stoudemire and LeBron James altered the balance of NBA financial power. The Knicks’ worth increased 12 percent, dethroning the Lakers as the league’s most valuable franchise. Meanwhile, the Heat’s worth rose 17 percent, while the Cavaliers’ value fell 26 percent.
Here are the top five most valuable NBA franchises:
- 1. New York Knicks ($655 million)
- 2. Los Angeles Lakers ($643 million)
- 3. Chicago Bulls ($511 million)
- 4. Boston Celtics ($452 million)
- 5. Houston Rockets ($443 million)
After noting the surprising fact that the Pistons, who haven’t been able to find a proper suitor, are valued 13th, here are the five least valuable NBA franchises:
|Kevin Garnett releases ‘Beat L.A.’ shoes||01.26.11 at 5:12 pm ET|
The Chinese shoe company that sponsors Kevin Garnett, Anta, is releasing the latest pair in the KG1 series, entitled “Beat L.A.” The 152-120 reference on the tongue of the green and white suede shoes is a reference to the Celtics’ lead in their all-time regular-season series against the Lakers.
The Celtics and Lakers square off for the first time this season on Sunday afternoon at the Staples Center. Think Garnett will be sporting these?
|Irish Coffee: Danny Ainge would trade anybody||01.26.11 at 11:53 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
For the right price, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge would’ve traded just about anybody — Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen — during the C’s .500 stretch last season.
Heck, he would’ve traded Larry Bird and Kevin McHale in the 1980s, too, according to the latest piece from Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen.
Here are five things that we learned from Thomsen’s conversation with Ainge:
1. During the 1988-89 season, Ainge urged Red Auerbach to trade Bird to the Pacers for Chuck Person, Herb Williams and Steve Stipanovich, as well as McHale to the Mavericks for Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins.
“I’ll never forget being at that Christmas party and we discussed them. He told us all at that time he wasn’t going to trade any of us, that he wanted us to finish our careers as Celtics. And a few months later, they traded me for Joe Kleine and Ed Pinckney. …
(Interjection: It’s kind of funny that the guy who pleaded Red to deal Bird and McHale got traded himself. Coincidence? You tell me.)
“But you could get Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins in their early 20s for Kevin McHale on a downward-slide team that was not going to win a championship. Stipanovich would be hurt and wouldn’t play, but Chuck had a good career. Those guys were still young, and instead you were getting two or three more years of Larry, but you were only getting 75-80 percent of Larry. We didn’t have a chance to win the championship in ’88-89 because Larry wasn’t playing — he was in those ankle casts. I don’t think anybody really believed we were a championship team during the 1988-89 season or after that. We were just hanging on.”
By the way, here are the best seasons from Bird, Person, Williams, Stipanovich, McHale, Schrempf and Perkins after the 1988-89 season:
- Bird (1989-90): 24.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 47.3 FG%, 33.3 3-PT FG%, 93.0 FT%
- Person (1989-90): 19.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 48.7 FG%, 37.2 3-PT FG%, 78.1 FT%
- Williams (1990-91): 12.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.5 blocks, 50.7 FG%, 63.8 FT%
- Stipanovich: never played after the 1987-88 season (injury)
- McHale (1989-90): 20.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.9 blocks, 54.9 FG%, 89.3 FT%
- Schrempf (1992-93): 19.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 52.3 FG%, 51.4 3-PT FG%, 83.9 FT%
- Perkins (1991-92): 16.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.0 blocks, 45.0 FG%, 81.7 FT%
If it were me, with the benefit of hindsight, there’s no way I would’ve traded Bird for that package during the 1988-89 season. McHale? Well, that’s a different story.
|Ray Allen: ‘We’ve been less than ourselves’ without Kendrick Perkins||01.25.11 at 11:49 pm ET|
Following Kendrick Perkins‘ early return to the Celtics lineup, just about everybody was asked about the team’s 26-year-old center, and Ray Allen — dressed in a Shaft-like leather jacket and a sweater that went up to his nose — was no different.
“We’ve kind of been less than ourselves over the last three or fourth months, just waiting,” said Allen of Perkins’ absence this season. “We’ve had great success with the guys we’ve been using, but we haven’t had the lineup that’s been consistent here over the last three and a half years, when we’ve been successful and won some big games, including the championship. So, it’s great to see him back out on the floor, and it just makes us that much stronger.”
The vibe in the Celtics locker room felt different after the team disposed of the Cavaliers, 112-95, and it’s because, like Jerry Maguire, Perkins completes them.
“When he went down, obviously eyes around the world were on him,” added Allen. “Everybody felt a little sympathy for us, because we weren’t whole. Him coming back has a great symbolism to it, because we know what we’re trying to get back to.”
Perkins’ return was a reminder of how close the Celtics came to winning another NBA title last season before he went down with his ACL injury in Game 6 of the finals, especially considering his six rebounds in 17 minutes on Tuesday night.
And before the C’s get back to where they want to go, they’ll have another reminder of that Game 7 loss when they visit the Staples Center for the first time since to take on the Lakers on Sunday afternoon. But Allen’s blocking that from his memory.
“I’d like that to sneak up on me,” he said, ”and just not think about it.”
|Fast Break: Perkins, Celtics hand Cavs 18th straight loss||01.25.11 at 9:55 pm ET|
In his first action since Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals, Kendrick Perkins came off the bench to a standing ovation and contributed seven points and six rebounds in just over 17 minutes during a 112-95 blowout of the Cavaliers Tuesday night in Boston.
The Celtics (34-10) projected Perkins would play 12-15 minutes in his return, but he exceeded expectations all night. Of course, it helped that the C’s were playing Cleveland (8-37), losers of 18 straight.
Paul Pierce netted 24 points in just 23:58 on the floor. Shortly after coming down awkwardly on a shot attempt and moving gingerly on his right leg up and down the floor a few times, he exited the game with 5:30 remaining in the third quarter.
Ray Allen knocked down a trio of 3-pointers to close the game to 20 between he and Reggie Miller for the NBA’s all-time 3-point record.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Perk’s return: Even in a rusty 15 minutes a night, Perkins makes a huge difference in the Celtics lineup — especially with both Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal sidelined with leg injuries and the team in desperate need of big bodies.
Just under four minutes into the game, with starter Semih Erden picking up his second foul in the first 3:58, the Celtics turned to Perkins. And 35 seconds later, after a standing ovation, Perkins proved himself, converting a layup plus the foul. He ran the floor and hit the boards hard on both ends of the floor — a cruel reminder of what might have been had he played Game 7 of the finals last season.
Pierce starts fierce: Playing the entire first quarter, Pierce knocked down 6-of-8 shots to score 17 of the team’s 34 points in the opening 12 minutes. During that span, he also exchanged words with Cleveland’s Joey Graham, whoever that is.
The Celtics captain scored 24 points by halftime and left the game midway through the third quarter. He stayed on the bench for the rest of the game, without treatment, so there should be little concern about his slight limp before his exit.
The bench showed up: Given his recent struggles, the Celtics had to be pleased to see Nate Robinson knock down 3-of-8 3-point attempts. He led the charge, as the C’s got at least seven points from all five available guys off the bench (including Perkins). Glen Davis (11 points) and Von Wafer (10) also reached double figures.
Their collective performance allowed Doc Rivers to rest Pierce, Allen (25:16) and Kevin Garnett (17:45) — although, in somewhat of a strange move, Rajon Rondo played almost 44 minutes.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Slow start on defense: Allowing the worst team in the league to score 26 first-quarter points and shoot 53 percent from the field for the opening 12 minutes isn’t what the Celtics were looking for when they welcomed the Cavaliers to town.
Cleveland actually owned a 23-21 lead late in the first quarter. It took a 21-5 that stretched into the middle of the second quarter for the Celtics to take control.
‘Big Baby’ not a happy camper: When Glen Davis picked up his second foul with seven minutes to play in the half, he let his frustration be known as he returned to the bench. After he was whistled for a third personal a few minutes later, the referees heard it from louder this time — as he picked up a technical, too.
Not much: When the game is in control from the early portion of the second quarter on, and the Celtics cruised to victory, it’d be nitpicking to find too much wrong with their effort … other than Pierce’s rendition of Enrique Iglesias‘ “I Like It” on the Jumbotron. Then again, Enrique Iglesias’ version isn’t much better.
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