|Close but no cigar for Celtics against league’s top team, Pacers||03.02.14 at 6:34 am ET|
The Celtics made a game of it, but that would be the extent of the C’s success against Indiana on Saturday night at TD Garden.
Brad Stevens‘ team — carrying the NBA’s fourth-worst record against the team with the top mark in the league — had it within two with 1:31 left. But a Paul George 3-pointer put things out of reach, helping hand the Pacers a 102-97 win.
Playing a season-high 38 minutes, Rajon Rondo dished out 11 assists, but went just 4-of-11 from the floor. Jared Sullinger returned from a three-game hiatus due to a concussion, playing 24 minutes and scoring 10 points.
|Gerald Wallace out indefinitely with torn meniscus||02.28.14 at 12:56 pm ET|
Stevens said Wallace had been playing in pain for some time before an MRI showed the extent of the injury.
Wallace, who was averaging 5.1 points and 3.7 rebounds this season, had a strong game Wednesday with 12 points and 10 rebounds in a win over the Hawks.
|Celtics sign G Chris Babb from D-League||02.28.14 at 12:24 pm ET|
The Celtics announced Friday that they have signed 6-foot-5 guard Chris Babb to a 10-day contract.
Babb, who turned 24 two weeks ago, was playing for the D-League’s Maine Red Claws, averaging 12.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 37.5 minutes over 33 games.
Babb, who is known as a good 3-point shooter, played five games for the Celtics in the preseason, averaging 3.2 points in 6.0 minutes per game.
He played in college first at Penn State and then Iowa State. He was named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team last season but went undrafted by the NBA.
|Jeff Van Gundy on D&C: ‘If [Rajon] Rondo had a do-over, he would’ve gotten on the plane’ to Sacramento||02.28.14 at 11:16 am ET|
ESPN/ABC basketball analyst Jeff Van Gundy joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to discuss Rajon Rondo and other Celtics news. To hear the interview, head to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Last weekend Rondo made the decision not to travel with the Celtics to the team’s game in Sacramento — a game he was not scheduled to play — reportedly so that he could celebrate his birthday with family and friends in Los Angeles.
“I think if Rondo had a do-over, he would’ve gotten on the plane, because your best player has to set the example,” Van Gundy said.
“I can understand wanting to have a birthday celebration in L.A. versus in Sacramento, but when you’re the best player, you’re charged with setting an example that everyone should follow, and one of those things is sacrificing what you want to do for what you should do, and I don’t think there’s one argument that could be made that a guy who’s traveling with the team should miss a game to blow out birthday candles.”
Despite Rondo’s decision, Van Gundy says the four-time All Star has the ideal “Boston fan mentality.”
“A guy’s greatest strength is often his greatest weakness,” Van Gundy said. “What I love about Rondo is his surly, competitive, nasty streak. I love that about him. Now, does that go the other way at times where he may go over the line? Maybe. But it’s hard to find guys in today’s NBA — everybody knows what to say now. Everybody is so polished media-wise.
“To me, Rondo, and every player, has times where he would like to handle situation X a little bit differently, but for the most part, I think his attitude is absolutely the type that you need to win.”
|Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Tough March schedule should benefit Celtics in lottery||02.28.14 at 10:44 am ET|
Wednesday night provided an interesting perspective for the Celtics on the 2014 NBA draft. Boston returned to the Garden and defeated the Hawks, ending a five-game losing streak — which both hurt and improved their draft picks.
The Celts earned their 20th victory of the season, moving past the Lakers in the standings in the process. Boston holds the fifth-highest lottery odds, but don’t forget about the Brooklyn/Atlanta pick that Danny Ainge owns as well. Not only are the Hawks coming off a loss, the Nets got slammed by the Blazers by 44 points Wednesday in Portland. Boston gets whichever pick is less favorable between the two teams, and as of Thursday afternoon, those are the two worst records of playoff teams.
If only one of the two picks end up in the lottery, the higher pick would belong to Atlanta, but if both teams miss the postseason, Boston would be in luck. Although it is highly unlikely, Wednesday night reminded us it is too early to rule out the Celtics owning a second lottery pick.
Although there is some silver lining in beating a team like Atlanta, the real value remains in the Celtics‘ own first-rounder. One thing we are learning this season is that each loss makes a difference, and Wednesday would have been a good night to lose. Had the C’s lost, they not only would have had the fourth-highest lottery odds, they would have been just one win ahead of the Magic.
Orlando was able to collect a victory Wednesday over the 76ers, opening up an opportunity for a new team to get a taste of the bottom three for the first time in weeks. The Lakers appear to have the inside track, but the Celtics have a tough month of March. Boston plays 10 of 15 games against teams above .500, including the Pacers twice and the Heat. That doesn’t even include two games against the Nets and a game at New Orleans — the Celtics are 0-13 on the road against the Western Conference this season.
Boston has a golden opportunity to land in the top five of this draft, and the brutal March schedule is the key to getting there. Wednesday just proves how important each night in the NBA will be to lottery odds/draft order as we go down the home stretch. But for now, here is what the draft lottery (plus the next two picks) could look like if it were held today.
1. Bucks: Joel Embiid (Kansas, freshman) – Embiid remains the top prospect based on pure potential. In his three games since returning from injury, Embiid has averaged 14.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.3 blocks — all while committing significantly less fouls. He is simply too rare of a prospect for Milwaukee to pass up.
2. 76ers: Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, freshman) – Wiggins still has not posted the overall numbers that he was expected to, but he is starting to back up some of the hype. He has become much more consistent of late, scoring 14 or more points in 10 of his last 11 games. Wiggins also finished off Texas Tech with a game-winner, a good sign after his competitive drive has been questioned. Philly is loaded with young talent; even though Wiggins may be a project, he will have time to develop there.
|Rajon Rondo’s birthday bash: ‘My business, not yours’||02.27.14 at 12:58 am ET|
In typical Rajon Rondo fashion, the Celtics point guard addressed the media in Boston for the first time since the Boston Herald report claiming he skipped the team’s trip to Sacramento without permission.
What does he make of the media firestorm unleashed after his alleged decision to remain in Los Angeles to celebrate his 28th birthday with friends and family? “I haven’t really read much about it,” he said. “I heard a lot of comments. Nobody knows the story, so you guys keep making up every story you guys possibly can.”
What, exactly, is the story? “It’s my business,” he followed. “It’s not yours.”
Likewise, Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters prior to his team’s 115-104 victory against the Hawks that the organization would handle the matter internally. According to the Herald, C’s president Danny Ainge will meet with Rondo next week upon returning from a college scouting trip and has not ruled out a fine.
|Fast Break: Jerryd Bayless, Celtics ground Hawks||02.26.14 at 9:55 pm ET|
If the entire Eastern Conference weren’t so dreadful, the Celtics might have a shot at two lottery picks this June.
The C’s handed the undermanned Hawks their 10th loss in 12 games with a 115-104 win at the Garden on Wednesday night. It was a welcome respite for the Celtics, whose own rough streak included falling to 0-13 on the road against Western Conference on their recent road trip. The C’s own the lesser first-round pick between Atlana and Brooklyn, which may come into Boston next week with a sub-.500 record.
As for Wednesday’s game, Jerryd Bayless led all scorers with a season-high 29 points. Rajon Rondo (22 points, 11 assists) and Gerald Wallace (12 points, 10 rebounds) added double-doubles. Jeff Green (17 points), Brandon Bass (14 points) and Kris Humphries (10 points) also reached double figures, as the Celtics improved to 20-34.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Rondo ready: While others may rant and rave about the birthday bash drama, Rondo hasn’t been effected. He scored 11 of the C’s 25 first-quarter points, attempting six shots in the opening frame and making four of them. He then began directing an offense that shot 53.7 percent and scored 58 points by the break. Rondo logged his fourth double-double in as many appearances, and he’s beginning to prove that the double-digit assist streak awhile back wasn’t solely dependent on his superstar teammates.
Expect more. Bayless: Starting in the absence of Avery Bradley, Bayless netted 20 points for the first time this season since scoring 22 against the Celtics as a member of the Grizzlies on Nov. 27. He connected on eight of his first 12 shots, including a trio of third-quarter 3-pointers that gave the Celtics a five-point cushion midway through the third quarter.
Board to death: In the absence of three of their six frontcourt rotation players, the Celtics wings banged the boards against a Hawks squad without the services of stars Al Horford (torn pectoral) and Paul Millsap (knee). Green, Wallace and Chris Johnson combined for 25 rebounds as the C’s outworked Atlanta 46-29 on the glass.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Injury bug: A rash of injuries left the Celtics with just nine available players for Wednesday’s game against the Hawks. The absences of Jared Sullinger (concussion), Kelly Olynyk (toe) and Vitor Faverani (knee) left the Celtics particularly shorthanded in the frontcourt, which meant more minutes for Joel Anthony. While Sullinger and Olynyk could return as soon as Saturday, Bradley’s absence from the backcourt remains uncertain, as the soon-to-be restricted free agent missed his eight straight game with an ankle injury.
3’s a crowd: As has been the case for years, Kyle Korver continued to be a thorn in the C’s side. The league’s second-leading 3-point shooter connected on his first four triples, leading a 9-for-19 Hawks effort from beyond the arc.
Going Carroll-ing: Perhaps motivated by the rumors that had him potentially headed to the Celtics in exchange for Green, Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll had his way in the paint opposite the undermanned C’s frontcourt, collecting 24 points on just 11 shots and adding seven boards.