|Preview: Celtics-Hawks||01.11.10 at 10:23 am ET|
The focus around town has been understandably elsewhere during these early days of 2010, but as you woke up this morning to the reality of a Pats-free January and a simmering Red Sox hot stove (down from a full boil) the Celtics have got what you might call a big one tonight. That’s relative of course. There are no true Big Games in January, but the Celtics have faced the Hawks twice this season and they have been beaten pretty badly in both encounters.
After the latest defeat Friday night, Doc Rivers conceded to the press that the Hawks had been both, “the better team” and “more physical.” There’s little chance that the coach actually believes those two statements to be true in totality, but those have been the facts this season in regards to the Hawks.
The Celtics have a chance to make up for that tonight, which also kicks off a stretch of 10 games where they will play six times against quality teams. If you haven’t been paying rapt attention to the C’s lately, tonight would be a good time to start.
CELTICS (26-9, 6-4 last 10)
Points Per Game: 100.8
Points Allowed: 93.5
Differential: +7.3 (First)
Offensive Efficiency: 109.0 (10th)
Defensive Efficiency: 101.2 (Second)
Pace: 91.0 (21st)
HAWKS (23-13, 4-6 last 10)
Points Per Game: 103.4
Points Allowed: 97.8
Differential: +5.6 (Fifth)
Offensive Efficiency: 111. (Third)
Defensive Efficiency: 105.8 (12th)
Pace: 91.7 (23rd)
Injuries: None Read the rest of this entry »
|Fast Break: Celtics vs. Raptors||01.10.10 at 3:52 pm ET|
The Celtics continued to dominate the Raptors with a 114-107 win on Sunday in Toronto. The C’s have won seven straight over the Raptors and have not lost to them since January 23, 2008.
Player of the Game: Two Celtics deserve recognition for this accolade. Rajon Rondo recorded a triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 13 assists. Rasheed Wallace contributed 29 points (9-12 FG, 5-7 3PG, 6-6 FT), the most he has scored in a Celtics uniform. Wallace also came up with a critical steal with a minute to go as the Raptors closed in by six.
Turning Point: The Celtics established their control early on in the game. They jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first 1:41 and got the entire team involved. Wallace, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kendrick Perkins all scored baskets; Pierce, Perkins, and Rondo grabbed a rebound, and Rondo dished four assists. Even though the Raptors went on runs late in the game to threaten the Celtics lead, this early advantage gave the C’s a cushion throughout the afternoon.
– All of the Celtics starters scored in double digits eight minutes into the third quarter. Pierce added 16 points in his second game back from a right knee infection.
– The Celtics held Hedo Turkoglu scoreless until 6:24 in the third. He finished the game with just five points (2-for-9 FG).
– Chris Bosh fouled out with ten seconds left in the game. He led all scorers with 31 points.
|Hudson: I Learned A Lot||01.10.10 at 1:22 am ET|
Consider it an accelerated learning program.
In less than seven months, Lester Hudson received a hands-on education from one of the most talented basketball organizations in the NBA. He practiced against future Hall of Famers, received coaching from former pros, and learned the ropes behind an emerging All-Star.
The rookie gained more knowledge in a few short months than some players do in an entire season.
Now Hudson, who was waived by the Celtics last Wednesday, looks forward to applying what he learned from the C’s on to the court for the Grizzlies. The Memphis native was claimed off of waivers by his hometown team on Friday.
‘I was very sad, very sad when the Celtics let me go,’ he told WEEI.com in a telephone interview. ‘But I’m very happy to play back in my hometown.’
Hudson looks forward to sharing his experiences with the young Grizzlies squad, whose average age is 24 years old. Not only did he learn from veterans such as Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett, he also formed a close bond with one of the hottest young point guards in the league today.
‘I learned a lot from (Rajon) Rondo,’ he said. ‘He’s my best friend on the team I’d say, so I learned a lot. He’s a great point guard. I think he’ll be an All-Star this year, so it was great playing behind him, learning how he ran the floor, ran the offense, and got everyone in position. That was my biggest thing coming in as a point guard, learning how to run an NBA team, and he helped me out with that.’
Hudson also received proven advice from the Celtics coaching staff. Both head coach Doc Rivers and director of basketball development Tyronn Lue are former NBA point guards. Hudson worked closely with Lue during practice.
‘It was great having Ty Lue there,’ he said. ‘He was a great point guard in the NBA and he taught me how to be aggressive, coming off the pick-and-roll, stuff like that, just trying to make the plays for the other guys. He helped me out a lot.’
Many of the Celtics have reached out to Hudson since he was waived, including Rondo and Marquis Daniels. Lue and assistant coach Mike Longabardi have contacted him as well.
Hudson does not harbor any ill will toward the team that selected him with the 58th pick in the 2009 NBA draft. He averaged just 4.4 minutes in 16 games for the Celtics and had also spent time in the D-League. Hudson understood the Celtics decision to waive him before they would have had to guarantee his contract.
‘They said it was a hard decision,’ he said. ‘They didn’t want to do that, but they were trying to get some room for the team if they needed a veteran point guard to come in for the playoffs, and I understood that. They said I was going to be in the NBA and just keep working hard.’
Hudson’s career in Boston may have been cut short, but he didn’t need long with the Celtics to gain invaluable lessons that he can share with his new teammates in Memphis.
‘I can tell them just to work hard,’ he said. ‘Because that’s why [the Celtics are] one of the best in the NBA right now.’
|Fast Break: Celtics-Hawks||01.08.10 at 10:39 pm ET|
You could call it chippy. You could call it physical. Call it whatever you want but there’s a real edge when these two teams play. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either. The Celtics often play their best when they feel like they’ve been backed into a corner. But at times against the Hawks all that physical aggression resulted in some unseemly hoops.
The sequence went like this in a 93-85 Celtics loss Friday night: Bad first quarter, great second quarter, horrific third quarter, not good enough fourth quarter. The reason for the loss was fairly atypical. It wasn’t turnovers or offensive rebounds that did them in. It was an unsightly 41 percent shooting percentage.
This is developing into a good rivalry. Forget the playoff series from two seasons ago; that was another lifetime ago. The Hawks think they are on the level with the Celtics, and while they don’t have the playoff chops to prove it, they certainly have their number in the regular season.
Player of the Game: Josh Smith (Atlanta). The guy ESPN’s Jay Bilas once said was most likely to be a bust from the 2004 draft class (good call Jay) has quietly turned into one of the best forwards in the league. He finally has shelved the misguided 3-point game that stunted his growth and become a nightmare matchup on the post. Smith had two huge momentum-changing plays. One came on an alley-oop dunk. Another came on a clean block on what would have been a dunk by Kendrick Perkins.
Turning Point: The moment the second half started. The Celtics had played a solid road first half. They shot the ball well, took care of the ball and didn’t let the crowd into the game. And then, everything changed. The Hawks started making shots, which happens, but the Celtics stopped running their offense and like a batter taking a strikeout into the field, they let it affect their defense
* Perkins and Al Horford are part of a large group of Eastern Conference centers who wouldn’t look out of place on the All-Star team behind Dwight Howard. Both are complimentary players in the grand schemes of their teams, but both have also seen their roles, and their production, expand this season. Give the slight edge to Horford last night, but only slight.
* The Celtics shot almost 40 percent from 3-point range but don’t be fooled. They were 7-for-12 in the first half and 2-f0r-12 in the second. Rasheed Wallace was the worst offender going 1-for-8.
* The Celtics somehow only committed 14 fouls in the game. Considering the nature of the game, that was the definition of the refs “letting them play.”
* Lester Hudson wasn’t unemployed for long. The Grizzlies claimed him on waivers and that may be a good spot for him to get some minutes and somebody’s long-term attention. Hudson doesn’t have much time to make an impression as he’s already 25 years old.
|Preview: Celtics-Hawks||01.08.10 at 11:04 am ET|
By now we’ve all had a chance to watch and re-watch the inbound play that resulted in a layup for Rajon Rondo and helped the Celtics take Miami to overtime, where they eventually won. (If not, Jess has an excellent re-cap of Doc Rivers explaining the ins and outs on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday). The whole thing was wonderfully executed from Paul Pierce’s pass (“Paul is the only guy that can make the pass,” Rivers said.) to Glen Davis‘ screen that sprung Rondo to Rondo’s finish at the rim.
All of which brings up an interesting point. Rivers is generally acknowledged at a master of designing plays coming out of timeouts. That’s an anecdotal observation. It would be hard to track such a thing without watching tons of game tape from around the league. It might be possible to tell how successful a team was coming out of timeouts and tracing that back to the coach, but what if something hadn’t quite worked on that play? What if Rondo’s tip spun in and out? It was still a great play call.
A few seconds earlier Rivers had Ray Allen isolated at the top of the key. Dwyane Wade stripped Allen and went in for a dunk. We have no idea what play Rivers had drawn up because Allen never got a chance to run it. But on balance, we’ve seen the Celtics score many points of out of timeouts with well-designed calls. (As an aside: One of the best I’ve ever seen at it was Villanova women’s coach Harry Perretta. He shared some of his plays with Pat Summitt who used them to help win a national championship.)
It’s interesting that some coaches don’t seem to even want to try to take advantage of the situation. George Karl rather famously doesn’t have inbound plays at least until Chauncey Billups demand that he draw some up. The Wizards were running a promotion to have a fan draw up an inbound play, which seems ridiculous. But they’ve got other problems right now.
At the very least, it’s to Rivers credit that he takes these situations seriously and does what he can to put his team in a position to make succeed.
CELTICS (25-8, 6-4 last 10)
Points Per Game: 100.9
Points Allowed: 92.3
Offensive Efficiency: 108.9 (10th)
Defensive Efficiency: 100.6 (First)
Pace: 92.0 (19th)
HAWKS (22-12, 4-6 last 10)
Points Per Game: 104.4
Points Allowed: 97.8
Differential: +6.6 (Fourth)
Offensive Efficiency: 112.7 (Second)
Defensive Efficiency: 105.5 (12th)
Pace: 91.8 (22nd)
Injuries: None. Read the rest of this entry »
|Rivers explains ‘The Play’||01.07.10 at 4:02 pm ET|
A day after the Celtics forced overtime with an inbound alley-oop layin from Paul Pierce to Rajon Rondo, Celtics fans are still buzzing about ‘The Play.’ It took less than a second to execute, but it’s sure to be talked about the rest of the season.
On Thursday, Doc Rivers explained the keys to this offensive strategy on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan show.
Picking the passer: After running through the play in practice, Rivers knew Pierce was the right man for the role.
‘We ran it once, might have been last year or two years ago, and it didn’t work. It worked to the point that Rondo was open and we threw the pass off mark. It actually went into overtime. We work on that play occasionally, like once every 10 practices. Paul is the only guy that can make the pass. Every time we use someone else it’s a bad pass. But it was good that all those guys were there.’
‘The good thing with Paul, because he is such a threat as a player, they rarely put a big on him. A lot of time, like what we did in Golden State where we put the two bigs on the ball, teams don’t want to do that just in case there is enough time for Paul to come back and get the ball. They usually put his guy on him and that’s why we use him.’
Watching the clock: Six-tenths of a second may not seem like a lot of time to pull of a daring shot, but it was more than enough for the Celtics.
‘We’ve done it with 0.4 because it’s just a tap. Even at 0.3 you have a chance.’
Selecting the secret weapon: The Heat were caught off guard when Pierce lobbed the ball to the smallest guy on the team.
‘Rondo is usually the best guy to do it, because he’s the guy that no one thinks you are going to do it with. That’s what we try to choose. Ray [Allen] is the other guy, surprisingly, because no one thinks you are going to throw a lob pass to Ray, either. So, it’s usually one of those two guys.’
Testing the guinea pigs: Rivers had stumped his own players in practice to ensure it could work against their opponents.
‘We just disguise it. It’s the same play that you could run like 10 different ways and we just give it different formations. That’s what we do in practice.’
|Doc Rivers on D&C||01.07.10 at 12:24 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday morning. He discussed Wednesday night’s dramatic victory over the Heat in overtime, the case for Rajon Rondo as an All-Star and the issue of guns in the NBA, which was highlighted by the indefinite suspension of Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas.
A transcript of the interview is below. To listen to the complete interview, click here.
Where would last night’s victory rate?
Because of the way it finished it would rate high. Obviously there was a time where I thought we had it. Then it looked like we had lost it, and then we stole it back. Because of all that it ranks pretty high. Especially with all the guys coming back off of injury and still missing guys. There have been so many disruptions with our team right now, to have enough continuity to win a game has been great for all of our guys.
Was last night’s game all about overcoming human nature or giving into human nature?
I think so. They played hard on that last play. They did everything they were supposed to do. I was just happy with our guys, because when we called the timeout, it took me 15 seconds to get them in the huddle because they were so down. Once we drew up the play you could see them come back. They had the focus and just to execute the play and for it to work. Whenever anything works it looks great, because it takes so many moving parts for that stuff to happen. So, I thought we had good focus.
Have you used that play in the past and did it work?
We ran it once, might have been last year or two years ago, and it didn’t work. It worked to the point that Rondo was open and we threw the pass off the mark. It actually went into overtime. We work on that play occasionally, like once every 10 practices. Paul [Pierce] is the only guy that can make the pass, every time we use someone else it’s a bad pass. But it was good that all those guys were there.
What if there is less time than 0.6 seconds? Does it require all 0.6 seconds to get that up?
We’ve done it with 0.4 because it’s just a tap. Even at 0.3 you have a chance. Rondo is usually the best guy to do it, because he’s the guy that no one thinks you are going to do it with. That’s what we try to choose. Ray [Allen] is the other guy, surprisingly, because no one thinks you are going to throw a lob pass to Ray, either. So, it’s usually one of those two guys.
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