|Is one NBA scout’s scathing take on Celtics accurate?||01.26.13 at 3:05 pm ET|
NBA general managers must be hovering like vultures over Danny Ainge‘s struggling Celtics, so it’s no surprise they are a main focus ESPN.com writer Marc Stein’s must-read Weekend Dime.
With all due respect to the NBA scout who rightfully ripped the Celtics to shreds in Stein’s piece, the outlook isn’t quite as bad as he makes it out to be, despite their current six-game losing streak.
“Their bench has to be playing at the top of their abilities for them to win.”
According to HoopsStats.com, the Celtics are 12-11 when their bench outperforms the opposing team’s and 7-11 when it doesn’t. That lends some credence to this statement, but they can win when their reserves don’t contribute. We knew these C’s would rely on their depth more this season than they have in the past, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers couldn’t even begin to structure a consistent rotation until Avery Bradley returned this month.
And they don’t have enough guys big-guy-wise that Doc [Rivers] is comfortable with.
The C’s everlasting search for frontcourt depth behind Kevin Garnett has been no secret. Hence, their rumored interest in both Marcin Gortat and DeMarcus Cousins. The struggles of Brandon Bass and the thumb injury to Chris Wilcox haven’t helped, but don’t rule out those two contributing more in the second half of the season.
|Was Avery Bradley firing a Twitter shot at Rajon Rondo?||01.23.13 at 3:08 pm ET|
After the Celtics’ fourth straight defeat — a 95-90 loss suffered at the hands of Kyrie Irving (40 points) and the Cavaliers — guard Avery Bradley tweeted: “Nobody will score 40 on [me] unless they take 40 shots.”
Irving scored his 40 on 24 shots, although just three of those attempts came against Bradley; meanwhile, the Cavs point guard made 6-of-11 attempts against Celtics point Rajon Rondo, according to Synergy Sports (h/t @ESPNForsberg. That may not even include plays like Irving’s isolation drive past with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter, when he blew by Rondo and got (questionably) fouled by Jared Sullinger on a three-point play.
So, why wasn’t Bradley — considered by many the best on-ball defender in the NBA — facing the surefire All-Star, particularly in that situation? While he’s recovering from a rib injury, Bradley played 26 effective minutes and was on the floor for the span from 2:31 to 0:22 of the fourth quarter, when Irving scored nine points on four layups.
When the C’s guard took to Twitter just minutes after the conclusion of the game, many considered it a veiled shot at Rondo, although Bradley quickly deleted the tweet and posted instead: “No shots at anybody. It’s confidence.”
|Avery Bradley (ribs) out as Leandro Barbosa starts||01.18.13 at 6:48 pm ET|
Avery Bradley will sit out Friday night’s game against the Bulls with sore ribs suffered in Wednesday’s loss to the Hornets. Leandro Barbosa will make his second start of the season in his place.
Friday’s starting five of Rajon Rondo, Barbosa, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Paul Pierce marks the 11th different lineup coach Doc Rivers has used this season.
This is the first game Bradley has missed since missing the first 30 games as he recovered from shoulder surgeries. The team went 14-16 in his absence. With Bradley back, the Celtics are 6-2 and have improved their defense significantly. Bradley is averaging 8.1 points in eight games while the team has not allowed 100 points. The Celtics are allowing just 86.8 points in Bradley’s return.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Courtney Lee, Jason Terry swap Celtics fortunes||01.15.13 at 1:10 am ET|
After the Celtics defeated the Bobcats, earning their sixth straight victory, the generally jovial Jason Terry walked through the locker room, head down, repeating: “Tough game. Tough game.”
He had just finished the worst night of his Celtics career, a scoreless effort in 15 minutes. Heck, C’s coach Doc Rivers even played Leandro Barbosa over Terry in an eight-point game midway through the fourth quarter.
“Just a feel, honestly,” said Rivers. “I thought we needed energy, and he’s always ready.”
Energy? Terry’s made a living on energy, finishing among the top Sixth Man of the Year candidates for as long as some of his teammates have been in the NBA. Yet, on a Monday night against the Charlotte Bobcats in the middle of January, he couldn’t get on the floor. For the time being, the tides have turned against Terry.
In November and December, Terry didn’t entirely meet the expectations set by his three-year, $15 million deal, but at least he averaged double-digit scoring on near 40 percent 3-point shooting in 30 minutes a night. That was only supposed to improve once Avery Bradley returned and allowed Terry to find his comfort zone off the bench.
Instead, he’s played 16 or fewer minutes in three of the C’s seven games this month, including a combined 31 minutes over the past two games. In the seven games since Bradley’s return from shoulder surgeries, Terry’s averaging only 4.6 points on 34.9 percent shooting from the field (23.8 3-point percentage).
Courtney Lee, who struggled mightily to start the season, appeared to be the odd man out. In the game prior to Bradley’s return, Terry dropped 20 points for the first time all season while Lee went scoreless in 21 minutes, and that was a microcosm of what the Celtics had seen from them all season.
|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo’s triple-double delivers sixth straight Celtics win||01.14.13 at 10:01 pm ET|
Apparently, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo doesn’t reserve his triple-doubles just for nationally televised games, since he recorded the 26th such night of his career in a 100-89 win on a Monday night against the Bobcats.
Rondo totaled 17 points (8-11 FG), 12 assists and 10 rebounds, leading the Celtics (20-17) to their sixth straight victory. Paul Pierce (19 points), Avery Bradley (16 points) and Jeff Green (11 points) all reached double figures while Kevin Garnett grabbed 10 boards on a poor shooting night (2-11 FG).
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Rondo from the get-go: The Celtics point guard assisted on the C’s first four field goals — getting Bradley, Pierce and Brandon Bass involved within the game’s first 1:45 — and then made their next four buckets, staking the home team to a 16-6 advantage midway through the first quarter. By the end of the opening frame, Rondo recorded nine points, six rebounds and five assists. Needless to say, Good Rondo was in the house.
Avery good night: With the possible exception of his 13-point, five-assist night against the Knicks last week, Bradley enjoyed his sharpest offensive performance of the season. His defense never relents, but his offense hasn’t quite rounded into pre-surgery form. The slashing backdoor buckets are still there, but Bradley connected on 56 percent (20-36) of his corner 3-pointers last season, and he started this winter 2-of-9 from the same spots. Against the Bobcats, however, Bradley made 4-of-7 triples, all from the corner.
Green light: Quietly, Green’s scoring numbers are climbing into double digits. He entered the game averaging 9.7 points per game and connected on four of his first seven shots off the bench, scoring all 11 of his points over a five-minute stretch in the second quarter. He’s now reached double figures in 17 games, including three of his last four. His rebounding numbers, while still not reflective of a 6-foot-9 hybrid forward, are also rising.
|Avery Bradley happy NBA moving back to his hometown||01.09.13 at 9:04 pm ET|
|Avery Bradley: ‘It’s hard to beat us when we’re playing this way’||01.05.13 at 9:31 am ET|
This was the lineup and the effort Doc Rivers had been waiting for. But more to the point, this was the effort everyone had been expecting from the Celtics.
Avery Bradley at the ’2′ providing smothering defense with a cast of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo around him. Brandon Bass was even inserted back into the starting lineup Friday, giving the Celtics the lineup they had when they made their run at the end of last season.
The result was a 94-75 win over the Pacers in which defense was the main attraction and Bradley, according to Rivers, was the MVP.
“Avery was 3-for-11 and he may have been the most valuable player tonight because his defensive pressure, just on the ball, it made them take so much time to get into their sets and when they got in their sets it wasn’t the right spot,” Rivers said. “They had to go in places they didn’t want to, and it allowed our entire defense to be dominant. And so Rondo was part of it as well. Where I was real happy with Rondo was in the second and third especially. His speed he played on offense, where he attacked the basket and made things happen, that’s a good sign for us.”
The Celtics held the Pacers to 27-of-85 shooting (31.8 percent). They held Indiana to 75 points, the fewest they’ve allowed all season. Bradley was in the face of Lance Stephenson all night, holding him to 1-for-6 from the floor.
“That’s what I try to bring every night,” Bradley said. “I try to bring that intensity on the defensive end but that’s my role, to be the energy when I come into the game. I just try to make it hard on the opponent every single night, and that’s all I did tonight. It means nothing to me, it just means that I’m taking steps forward, and next game I gotta continue to get better and better.
“We’ve been making steps forward on that defensive end and offensive end and everything’s starting to come together as a team and we just gotta continue to keep taking steps forward and we’ll be the team that we want to be from the beginning of the year” Read the rest of this entry »
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