|NBA power and sour rankings: Top 5, bottom 5||11.12.14 at 2:32 pm ET|
Follow Sam Packard on Twitter @SPackGuy
In the NBA, the worst place to be is the middle of the pack. If you are not contending for a championship or tanking, in my mind, you are not relevant. Because of this, each week I will rank the top five and bottom five teams in the league. The rankings are based entirely on my own observations and opinions, so please feel free to call me names in the comments section.
1. Raptors (7-1)
First off, I am a Drake fan. I generally like his music, but more importantly he played Jimmy on “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” For some reason, I watched Degrassi on The N, the teenage version of the kids channel Noggin, religiously in middle school. I knew Drake before he was Wheelchair Jimmy, when he was just Jimmy Brooks, the basketball-playing eighth-grader who was trying to have sex with his girlfriend, Ashley. I was there when Ashley took ecstasy and made out with resident bad boy Sean, right in front of Jimmy’s face! I feel for Jimmy, therefore I will forever like Drake.
2. Rockets (6-1)
Last week I predicted the demise of the Rockets, chiding their soft early schedule. Then they came out and beat the Spurs by 17. James Harden did this to Aron Baynes.
|Rajon Rondo didn’t want to miss last Saturday’s game vs. Bulls||11.11.14 at 3:40 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics held practice at their training facility in Waltham on Tuesday as they prepare for a three-game homestand, beginning Wednesday night against the Thunder.
The most noteworthy news from practice was the fact that Rajon Rondo practiced in full after missing last Saturday’s game in Chicago to have screws removed from his surgically repaired left hand. Although minor, this certainly was not a procedure that was planned far in advance — nor did Rondo seem happy about missing the game.
“Danny [Ainge] made a decision at halftime [of Friday’s victory over the Pacers], I had no idea,” said Rondo when asked when it was made official he wouldn’t be joining the team on its flight to Chicago Friday night.
After Friday’s game was when Rondo was notified he would be staying back in Boston to get the screws removed. Even without Rondo Saturday night, the Celtics defeated the Bulls, 106-101.
“[I] came in very pissed off, but, you know, the team got the win. … I just wanted to go travel with my team and play against Chicago,” Rondo said.
Rondo added he thought he would have had the surgery on Sunday — an off day.
“Well, I thought we would have the day off Sunday anyway, and I thought I could do it Sunday, but they [Ainge and team doctors] make the decisions,” Rondo said.
|Magic 9-Ball: Rajon Rondo Trade Barometer v1.0||11.11.14 at 3:19 pm ET|
Let’s face it: This is the season of Rajon Rondo. As interesting as it is to evaluate the frontcourt progress of Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley‘s offensive potential and Jeff Green‘s surprising consistency, the biggest questions the Celtics must answer all involve Rondo. Just how good is he? Will he be traded? What can they get in return? In a weekly feature on Green Street, we’ll take stock of the Celtics captain’s status every Tuesday.
RAJON RONDO TRADE VALUE
When asked if Rondo looked like the player who earned four straight NBA All-Star Game nods from 2010-13, one of the players he’ll battle for a fifth trip to the exhibition didn’t hesitate.
“He had a triple-double tonight,” Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry said after Rondo collected 15 assists, 13 points and 10 boards in a 110-107 loss to Toronto. “That’s pretty good, ain’t it?”
It’s true. The most telling indicator of Rondo’s return to health has been his ability to hover around a triple-double on a nightly basis. He’s posted averages of 11.2 assists, 9.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in 33.2 minutes over five games. Oscar Robertson is the only player in NBA history to post those numbers over a full season (he did it twice … while averaging 30 points), so it’s unlikely he’ll maintain that pace through 82 games. Regardless, he’s been remarkable.
|Celtics assign rookie Dwight Powell to D-League||11.09.14 at 2:09 pm ET|
The Celtics assigned forward Dwight Powell to the Maine Red Claws. He is expected to participate in the D-League affiliate’s scrimmage on Sunday night.
The second-round pick out of Stanford came to Boston in the trade that sent Keith Bogans to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He dressed for the Celtics for the first time in Saturday’s win over the Chicago Bulls.
The 6-foot-11 Powell averaged 1.7 points and 1.2 rebounds in 9.0 minutes in six appearances during the preseason.
For more on Powell’s future in the Celtics organization, click here.
|Five Things We Learned as Celtics — without Rajon Rondo and Marcus Smart — hold on for win over Bulls||11.08.14 at 11:01 pm ET|
The Celtics had every reason to look disjointed on Saturday night in Chicago. On the back end of their second game in as many nights, the team was without not only Rajon Rondo (who required a minor surgical procedure to remove a pin from his wrist) but also Marcus Smart following his injury on Friday.
But the Celtics instead showed tremendous energy and intensity for most of the night, building a big enough lead — a 20-point advantage at one point, the first time in five years that the team had built such a large advantage in Chicago — that they were able to withstand a late, spirited charge by the Bulls and claim a 106-101 victory on the road. The Celtics shot 52 percent from the floor and had excellent ball handling and distribution, with 25 assists and just 12 turnovers.
Here are five takeaways from a contest that allowed the Celtics to improve to .500 (3-3) for the season:
MAYBE THE THE CELTICS CAN SHOOT
The Celtics‘ 52 percent performance from the floor on 81 shots represented the third time this year (in six games) that the Celtics have shot at least 50 percent from the floor, tied for the most such contests in the NBA this season. The Celtics are now shooting 47.4 percent from the floor on the season, fifth best in the NBA to this point.
MAYBE THE CELTICS CAN CONTROL THE GLASS
With Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger leading the way, the Celtics have been one of the better rebounding teams in the NBA so far. The C’s grabbed 45 boards, seven more than the Bulls reeled in, continuing a pattern that had seen the Celtics enter the night with the third-highest rebound percentage in the league (53.8).
|Marcus Smart, Rajon Rondo injury updates||11.08.14 at 3:51 pm ET|
The Celtics‘ top two point guards are both out agains the Bulls on Saturday.
Celtics rookie Marcus Smart is expected to miss 2-3 weeks after suffering a left ankle sprain with bone bruising, according to a press release from the team. The C’s welcome the news after what initially appeared to be a more severe injury.
“Hopefully he can get back sooner rather than later,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens after Friday’s 101-98 victory against the Pacers, “because he’s really playing great basketball, and I’m sure it’s really disappointing to be out five games into your rookie year, even if just for a little bit of time.
Meanwhile, Celtics captain Rajon Rondo did not travel with the team to Chicago, undergoing a successful procedure to remove screws from his surgically repaired left hand. He is expected to be available when the C’s host the Thunder on Wednesday.
|Brad Stevens says Marcus Smart injury makes him feel ‘glad to be a part of a team that feels like that’||11.08.14 at 3:11 am ET|
When Marcus Smart landed awkwardly on Lavoy Allen‘s foot with 11:07 left in the fourth quarter and the game tied, 75-75, Celtics coach Brad Stevens learned a lot about this Celtics team. Just five games into an 82-game grind, he learned that this team will fight for each other, especially when one of their brothers goes down with injury.
Not only did medical staff hurry onto the parquet, every teammate came over to check on Smart’s condition before he was eventually lifted onto a stretcher and carted off the court and into the Celtics locker room.
“It was really scary and then obviously he was writhing in pain, so that makes it even more scary,” Stevens said. “I’m glad to be a part of it. I’m glad to be a part of a team that feels like that.”
Jeff Green, who scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the 101-98 win over the Pacers, spoke for the team when he described the tightness and togetherness of the players.
“It was very difficult,” Green said. “You hate to see a teammate go down especially when he’s playing well. Marcus is a soldier though. He’s going to get himself back together quick. I know he’s going to work hard to get back. Tough loss for us.
“I think its just a matter of focus. I think everybody on the bench no matter if they played or didn’t play they were focused, they were into the game, they were watching the game to figure out the impact of the game if they got in. You saw first-hand guys who are focusing on the game and where they can impact. Saw Gerald (Wallace) come in, the defensive intensity he came in with. The way Phil (Pressey) played on that pick and roll, breaking down their defense it was wonderful to watch.”
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