|As the Celtics rotation turns||01.12.12 at 5:11 pm ET|
WALTHAM — On Wednesday night, Celtics coach Doc Rivers looked out on the floor and saw Keyon Dooling, Avery Bradley, Mickael Pietrus and Brandon Bass and thought, this is what he’s been looking for. Energy, fullcourt defense, tempo, pace … all those buzzwords were finally on display.
“Without the second unit [Wednesday] night we’re losing that game by 25 points,” Rivers said. “The second unit got us back in the game with their energy defensively. That’s how I envisioned them when we started this and that was the first night where you could literally see the difference, and probably because Pietrus was part of it.”
Rivers said after the Celtics’ 90-85 loss to Dallas that his new swingman brought a “joy” to the court in his debut. An upbeat, gregarious character, Pietrus quickly endeared himself to his coach, his teammates and the Garden crowd with 18 inspired minutes.
He was playing so well that Rivers left him in the game deep into the fourth quarter before bringing back Paul Pierce at about the 6-minute mark, who had his second straight poor game. Pierce has not talked with reporters since Tuesday when he held court for several minutes after practice, but Rivers said Pierce was fine with the decision.
The second unit didn’t overwhelm anyone with their statistics. They scored 27 points, 19 of them from Bass and Dooling, and had 10 rebounds and four assists. They began coming into the game down 17-9 after the starters got off to a woeful start offensively and by the time they had rotated back out halfway through the second quarter they had cut two points off the lead. Again, not overwhelming, but successful.
Rivers has pinned his team’s 4-5 record on the starters. What he wants from his bench are energy, defense and the ability to shake things up when things start poorly. He’s still searching for the right combination of players, which is understandable.
The Celtics acquired nine players via trade, draft and free agency and all of them come off the bench. Bradley played only 162 minutes last season, so he is also new to the rotation. That’s a lot of moving parts and Rivers has already worked through several variations of a reserve unit.
Here’s how they stand at the moment: Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: Kevin Garnett’s guide to being a Celtic||01.05.12 at 11:30 am ET|
I don’t know much about Kevin Garnett, but I do know this: If you haven’t earned his respect, your name won’t cross his lips. “You’re a nobody.” As Celtics rookie JaJuan Johnson said during the first week of training camp, he wasn’t sure if KG even knew his name. The future Hall of Famer only referred to him as “New” or “Rook.”
Conversely, if Garnett mentions you by name, you’re doing something right. In recent days, young Celtics Greg Stiemsma and Avery Bradley in particular have earned postgame praise from the 16-year veteran.
“I think what you’re seeing is opportunity for the young guys, starting with Greg, and now Avery’s getting a chance to play and taking advantage of it,” Garnett said after totaling 14 points and 12 boards in the C’s 89-70 trimming of the Nets. “I don’t root for young guys a lot, especially when they’re hard-headed and don’t like to listen. We’ve got a good group of guys here, and that includes our young guys. They’re a young group, full of enthusiasm, full of hope and promise and a lot of potential, but they’re good guys, and they work really, really hard.”
It’s no secret hard work goes a long way in Garnett’s book, and we all know KG is going to talk. All they have to do is listen to that team pitch he, his fellow Celtics veterans and coach Doc Rivers are selling, buy in and apply it.
“There are no I’s. There are no You’s. It’s a We. It’s an Our. It’s a They. It’s an Us,” said Garnett. “The first thing you have to have in here is that you have to understand what you’re coming into, understand that being a Celtic is bigger than anybody in this locker room. You’re carrying on tradition. You have to have a work ethic. You have to care about the next guy beside you. If you can’t and if you don’t, then you’re not here. It’s the culture here.”
It’s that simple? Read the rest of this entry »
|Fast Break: Bradley, Bass help Celtics cut down Nets||01.04.12 at 9:49 pm ET|
Thanks to 24 points from Paul Pierce and double-doubles from both Kevin Garnett (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Brandon Bass (15 points, 13 rebounds), the Celtics outscored the Nets 29-12 in the third quarter and dominated the shorthanded visitors 89-70 on Wednesday night.
It wasn’t all pretty for the C’s, as Providence College product Marshon Brooks‘s 15 first-half points gave the Nets a 35-34 lead after 24 sloppy minutes on both sides.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The Truth will set you free: Celtics captain Paul Pierce submitted another remarkably efficient effort, totaling 24 points on 14 shots, six rebounds and five assists in under 30 minutes. His production helped the Celtics turn a one-point halftime deficit into a 16-point C’s advantage after three quarters.
Bass is a beast: The Cs Sixth Man once again came up big for the shorthanded Celtics, recording his second double-double of the season and his first since totaling 20 points and 11 rebounds against the Knicks on Christmas Day. Likewise, Avery Bradley turned in his best performance of the season, exerting his usual energy on defense (2 steals) and even contribution offensively (11 points).
The Nets came to town: Playing against a team that isn’t expected to compete for a playoff spot, even with its best players, the Celtics faced a New Jersey squad missing its starting point guard (Deron Williams), center (Brook Lopez) and power forward (Kris Humphries). That alone allowed Celtics coach Doc Rivers to test his bench and survive without Ray Allen and the always enjoyable flu-like symptoms.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Letting the Nets hang around: Just as they did time and time again last season, the Celtics let an inferior team hang around far too long. Sure, they put New Jersey away in the second half, but failure to execute combined with not taking opponents seriously for long stretches of games is never a good thing.
Rondo’s carelessness: Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo may have entered the game with the NBA’s second-best assist average (10.5 per game), but he also came in leading the league in turnovers per game with 4.7 a night. Wednesday night saw a few more unforced errors in his passing game, as he turned the ball over three times in the first half.
Hitting the Brooks: Rookie MarShon Brooks — who was traded by the Celtics for JaJuan Johnson on draft day — started for the Nets and finished with 15 first-half points. New Jersey often ran its offense through the Providence College product. Meanwhile, Johnson did not see the floor for the Celtics in the first half.
|Irish Coffee: What’s up with Celtics’ Avery Bradley?||at 12:19 pm ET|
Before the Celtics season started, I made the case for a breakout Avery Bradley performance.
So far, I couldn’t be more wrong.
Of the 385 players who have appeared in an NBA game this season, Bradley ranks in the bottom 25 in both offensive rating (367th) and defensive rating (361st). In 42 minutes on the floor during the C’s first six games, he has five rebounds, two points (1-9 FG), one assist, one turnover, zero steals and zero blocks.
In terms of HoopData.com’s advanced statistics, it doesn’t get any better for the Celtics reserve. In addition to ranking dead last among the 146 NBA guards who have played at least five minutes a night in PER (-5.5) and efficiency rating (-0.2), he ranks second to last in scoring (0.3) and true shooting percentage (11.1%).
A few more of Bradley’s advanced stats among those 146 guards to drive the point home:
- 143rd in estimated wins added (-0.3)
- 144th in value added (-10.0)
- 139th in win score (-0.83)
- 138th in Usage Rate (11.22)
- 130th in Assist Rate (9.09)
The only positive I could find: He’s held opponents to 3-of-16 shooting (18.8%). No wonder he may have dropped behind E’Twaun Moore on the depth chart. Yet, he and the C’s brass remains confident (via Boston Herald). Read the rest of this entry »
|Avery Bradley and E’Twaun Moore make their case for playing time||12.17.11 at 5:40 pm ET|
The opening tip of the season is fast approaching and the Celtics still have to figure out their rotation, particularly who will backup Ray Allen. Veterans Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic would seem to have the inside track, but without Jeff Green they will also play small forward behind Paul Pierce.
“Somebody will win it, and we’re going to let them,” said coach Doc Rivers following last night’s open scrimmage at the TD Banknorth Garden. “We’re honest with guys. There is a spot there and not everyone is going to play it. It has been a competitive camp because of that.”
One candidate to fill the vacant role is Avery Bradley. The 2010 first round draft pick struggled earning playing time as a rookie while dealing with injuries and ineffectiveness last season. Bradley came to this year’s camp knowing there is an opportunity to contribute. However, he also knows opportunity means competition.
“I know everybody is going to be working hard for that position,” Bradley said. “I’m going to try to do everything Doc says. I know I’m going to come in grind and work hard.”
Without summer league or a full training camp, the lockout could have stunted the development of young players like Bradley, but he spent the extended offseason working out with his veteran teammates.
“I have the best teammates,” Bradley said. “I would work out with Jermaine O’Neal in Las Vegas and get [text messages] from Kevin [Garnett] checking in on me to make sure I’m working. Paul [Pierce] always invited me to [California] to help me work on my game and keep it sharp.”
Rivers praised Bradley’s ability to get to the basket and draw fouls, but he thought Bradley had trouble finding the proper rhythm during the scrimmage. “He was trying to do too much, going too fast,” Rivers said. “That’s where you see what we see.”
E’Twaun Moore is another candidate for playing time. The second round draft pick has impressed his coaches and teammates in camp, and he knocked down a 3-pointer late in the scrimmage that gave his side the lead before Bradley’s winner. Moore could have passed to Allen, but the rookie had the better look and was aggressive.
“He didn’t hesitate,” Rivers said. “That’s what I like about him.”
With the first of only two preseason games on Sunday in Toronto — every minute becomes paramount for the young Celtics.
|What Keyon Dooling does for Avery Bradley||12.10.11 at 10:34 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers has long been an admirer of veteran guard Keyon Dooling. So much so that Rivers tried on three occasions to get Dooling to join his teams. He finally got his man after Danny Ainge traded a second round pick to Milwaukee to acquire him via a trade exception created in the Marquis Daniels deal to Sacramento last season.
“It’s a good pickup for us,” Rivers said. “He’s a veteran guard. He can play one or two, he can shoot, he can really defend. He’s high character, which is an area we were looking for and he’s a good fit for this group. He’s hungry. He wants to win. Those are the players we wanted. We wanted players who are over themselves and who are hungry and want to play with a sense of urgency.”
It’s safe to say the feeling is mutual.
“I’ve had an opportunity to play before a few good coaches in my career,” Dooling said after his practice with the team on Saturday. “Stan Van Gundy [and] Lawrence Frank have been very influential in my career, my progress as a player and a person. Doc has been somebody who’s been a great mentor to me. I always pick his brain every time I see him because I’m fascinated by him. He’s awesome. He’s everything that a player like me would want to be.”
The Celtics will be Dooling’s sixth team in an 11-year career that began in Los Angeles with the Clippers and took him to Miami, Orlando, New Jersey and Milwaukee and he’s excited about the chance to play for a contender.
“It’s something I’ve never experienced before,” he said. “Going into the season having an opportunity to play for a ‘chip every year. I haven’t really had a legitimate chance to win the ‘chip sing I played with Shaq back in Miami, so I’m licking my chops, man.”
Dooling is expected to primarily backup Rajon Rondo at the point and at 6-foot-3, he’s capable of defending both backcourt positions in the right matchup. He’s also a solid 3-point shooter. As Dooling said, “They used to use the word, ‘tweener.’ As my career progressed and I earned some respect around the league I became a combo guard.”
That’s basically what he is and he’ll essentially fill the role that Delonte West played last season. But Dooling brings an extra benefit to the table because with him on board, the Celtics no longer feel that they force Avery Bradley into a point guard role. “Keyon has created us two players because Avery is better this way,” Rivers said.
From the moment Bradley was drafted it was unclear whether he would develop into a point guard. He had limited experience in his one collegiate season at Texas at the position and he never really had a chance as a rookie after an ankle injury kept him out of summer league and part of training camp. In limited minutes he clearly struggled running the team.
“You watched Avery last year and I thought he was paralyzed when he had to run the position, when he had to call plays,” Rivers said. “I thought he was really good when he was just playing. So that told me let’s make him that and stop trying to make him a point.”
The Celtics love his defensive ability and see the potential for him to fill a similar role to the one Tony Allen played so well during the run to the NBA finals in 2010. Bradley doesn’t have the size to guard forwards like Allen does, but he can be a fullcourt on-the-ball defender and also cover off-guards.
“What we want him to do is get on the floor,” Rivers said. “He has to earn that, but defensively he can really help us. I feel like he has to play all year so when the playoffs start he’ll be able to guard guys.”
|Celtics free agent options at point guard redux||11.30.11 at 5:57 pm ET|
Welcome to Part 3 of this week’s daily post-NBA lockout position-by-position breakdown of free agent options available to the Celtics. We have already profiled the C’s biggest needs — at center and shooting guard — so we move to a less pressing but critical position: Backup Point Guards.
The Celtics started and finished the 2010-11 season with three additional players capable of handling the point guard position behind two-time All-Star starter Rajon Rondo on the 15-man roster: Delonte West, Avery Bradley, Nate Robinson (before trade) and Carlos Arroyo (after trade). Only Rondo and Bradley remain, so it stands to reason that the Celtics will sign at least one more floor general.
The C’s targets depend on how confident they are in Bradley and how cheaply they can find a reliable backup (or third-string). As we’ve noted before, the Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Kevin Garnett, $21.2 million; Paul Pierce, $15.33 million; Ray Allen, $10 million; Rajon Rondo, $10 million; Jermaine O’Neal, $6.23 million; Avery Bradley, $1.53 million), and Jeff Green is due at least another $5.91 million this offseason.
Signed through 2014-15, Rondo cemented himself as the franchise’s foundation (until this week’s rumors), and Bradley — under their control until his restricted free agency in 2014-15 — is slotted as the backup of the future. As a result, the C’s ideally would seek a veteran pure point guard and/or a capable combo guard who wouldn’t completely destroy their chances should Rondo’s injury issues persist and Bradley prove ill-prepared for big minutes. Arroyo and West fit those descriptions, but both might be too expensive or require more minutes.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options available to the Celtics at backup point guard, separating the current free agent players into five categories. Read the rest of this entry »