|Irish Coffee: How Celtics perform in clutch situations||12.10.12 at 5:10 pm ET|
After Rajon Rondo missed not one, but both game-winning opportunities in a 95-94 Celtics loss to the 76ers over the weekend — a failed 19-footer to end regulation and the infamous slippery 16-footer as overtime ran out — I got to wondering how the C’s are performing in clutch situations (either team within five points with five minutes remaining in regulation and overtime), since half of their 20 games have been decided by six points or less.
The C’s are 6-4 in those 10 games despite shooting 37.4 percent as a team in a whopping 60.2 clutch minutes, including three overtime games. They’ve had four potential game-winning shots at the buzzer — all misses on long jumpers — and Rondo has taken three of them. Paul Pierce attempted the fourth (from the elbow, of course).
Before we started reading into who’s doing what in the clutch, here are the numbers (Leandro Barbosa, Chris Wilcox and Jared Sullinger have all played sparingly in crunch time, but not a large enough sample size). Read the rest of this entry »
|Are the Celtics finally showing their true grit?||12.09.12 at 10:12 pm ET|
Before Saturday night’s game, Doug Collins told his team that Kevin Garnett had over 51,000 minutes played in his career while Paul Pierce had over 40,000. Collins’ counterpart, Doc Rivers, the ultimate motivator, spoke to the team and made sure Garnett got the message.
‘I don’t know,” Rivers said. “I don’t think anybody should be that tired this early, but Doug’s right about the one thing these games: you play each other, you split them. That’s basically what happened. But I hope we are. When you guys asked before the game ‘ they’ve played a long time and so you’re hoping they have great mental toughness. I mean, if they don’t have anything else that’s what they should have, and they do.’
Garnett may not have had legs on back-to-back to games as he was held without a rebound for the first time since Jan. 21, 1997 but his shooting eye certainly was not impacted.
Garnett was 9-of-11 and finished with 19 points in 24 minutes as the Celtics beat the Sixers, 92-79, a night after spending lots of emotional energy in a 95-94 overtime loss.
Is Rivers worried about the dependence on Garnett?
‘No, I mean, Miami depends on LeBron (James), the Lakers depend on Kobe (Bryant), Oklahoma depends on (Kevin) Durant, we depend on our guys. You’re always going to depend on them. I thought overall everyone else played great, though, and we had that one bad stretch. So, you know, it happens.’
To Rivers, toughness begins with defense and that’s the characteristic he’s starting to see game in and game out with the Celtics. The Celtics have allowed fewer than 100 points in six straight games, dating back to their overtime win in Orlando. In those games, the Celtics have gone
3-3 but they’ve started to show the kind of pressure that Rivers wants to see on the ball.
‘It’s been great; it really has been,” Rivers said. “You know, we can’t string a streak of wins together yet, but you can feel us playing better. So you feel like it’s coming, just nothing’s happened. We’re treading water but I like our trend; I like where we’re going.
“The pick and roll defense has improved dramatically, but our rotation still is not there, but they’re much better. Our pressuring the ball, you know without Avery (Bradley), we just kind of backed off of that. So I know that’s an area we’re going to get way better. Because when he does it everyone does it and it helps your team. Right now it’s just hard to do.’
|Jeff Green thinks ‘things are turning the corner’||at 6:23 pm ET|
In the last five games, Green has become the go-to guy off the bench, reaching double figures four times while averaging 16 points and 4.2 rebounds.
To top it all off, his long-range shot has been starting to fall much more consistently. He is shooting 54 percent from the field.
That’s a far cry from the 7.7 points and 2.5 rebounds he was averaging in the previous 15 games. In that stretch, he was shooting just 40 percent from the floor.
“I just went through a slump,” Green said. “Every player goes through one. Now shots are going in for me; things are turning the corner.”
“It’s just about being more aggressive, getting the rim so I can get into a rhythm, offensively. Get easy looks and the other shots will start to fall.
What makes Doc Rivers so happy is that he isn’t being forced to draw up new plays to get Green good looks. They’re all coming from Green himself.
“I think Jeff is just freeing himself up,” Rivers said after Saturday’s 92-79 win over the Sixers, in which he scored 16 points in 23 minutes off the bench, converting 7-of-12 shots from the floor. “He’s starting to do it and it’s really been good.”
Finally, it looks like Green isn’t worried about meeting the expectations of a four-year, $36 million contract signed this summer.
The more he plays like Saturday, the more confident he gets. And when Green plays with confidence, he begins to fly all over the court. Green converted a pair of dunks, including a slam on a alley-oop from Rajon Rondo that put the Celtics up, 81-63 with 7:44 left in the game.
“I’m getting there. My bounce is getting there,” Green said. “It’s been a slow process but it’s coming along.”
|Doc Rivers pays his respect – in person- to Rick Majerus||12.08.12 at 7:11 pm ET|
In a whirlwind of a day, Doc Rivers traveled from Philadelphia to Milwaukee for Saturday morning’s funeral of his former assistant coach and close friend Rick Majerus.
“I’ve been with Rick since fifth grade for the most part so I felt like I had to be there. It was important for me,” Rivers said. It was Majerus who gave Rivers his nickname of “Doc” when he showed up at a basketball camp wearing a Julius Erving t-shirt.
Rivers then jumped on plane and made it back to Boston, getting back about 90 minutes before Saturday night’s tip-off with Philadelphia at TD Garden. Rivers said he didn’t give much consideration to not coaching Saturday.
“If I really want to [tick] Rick off, then don’t coach the game,” Rivers joked. “No, I didn’t give that much thought. Life is involved with what we do every day. You deal with life and then you deal with your job. I always try to separate them when you can. Sometimes, you can’t.”
Doc on Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday: “Jrue right now is an all-star, and Evan played like one last night for sure. He made a couple of incredible shots. His game-winning shot, he was trapped for the most part, he puts up a one-handed push shot. The blocked shot by [Paul Pierce] and getting the rebound and he had another one where he split our pick-and-roll [defense]. That’s what he does. That’s what he’s always done. He did it in college. He made three sensational plays. I think he’s getting comfortable in our league right now. I thought it started last year and I think it carried on to this year.”
Rivers had some good-natured fun with Doug Collins after being told that Collins expects to take advantage of the fact that Pierce and Kevin Garnett have combined to play an extraordinary number of minutes combined in their careers: “We played how many minutes, 51,000? We’re smarter. We’re the wiser team. I don’t know how you counteract that. I tell you what you can’t do. You can’t turn the ball over.”
The Celtics committed 19 turnovers leading to 21 Philadelphia points in Friday’s overtime loss. The Sixers committed just nine.
|#3Tweet: Celtics vs. 76ers back-to-back preview||12.07.12 at 2:11 pm ET|
Leading into this weekend’s back-to-back between the Celtics and 76ers, which could have serious Atlantic Division ramifications, we’re debuting Green Street’s #3Tweet: Three Twitter questions (and a money round) with the opposing city’s best NBA bloggers. On Friday, we interviewed Liberty Ballers blogger Michael Levin.
— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) December 7, 2012
|Doc Rivers: ‘I have no idea’ if Rondo went to Mexico||12.06.12 at 11:49 am ET|
In addition to reminding everyone that Avery Bradley‘s “a ways away” from returning in his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Morning Show, Celtics coach Doc Rivers discussed Rajon Rondo at length.
On the Kris Humphries scuffle and ensuing suspension: “Rondo understands that we need him. I called it like I saw it … and Rondo almost said the same thing: He said, ‘Coach, I didn’t go in there to have a fight. I went in there to push him off Kevin [Garnett] and the next thing you know he grabs my arm, and then I pushed back and it escalated.’ He said, ‘I never intended to fight, that’s not what I did. I was just trying to push him off Kevin.’”
On whether Rondo really went to Mexico: ‘I have no idea. I really don’t. I don’t ever check. He’s a grown man, and he wasn’t in our locker room. I did say, ‘Go where you want, do what you want, just keep working out and watching us play.’ And he did those things.
“It may not have been a bad time, but it was an expensive time.’
On the point guard’s public vs. private persona: ‘Rondo with his teammates never shuts up. He’s loud, they laugh, they argue all the time — sports arguments are what you’d call it, debates where they are laughing — so he has a very good personality, and then he has the personality that you see as well. He has both of those.’
Doc Rivers put another carrot in front of his team this week when he said Kevin Love and the Timberwolves would kill the Celtics on the glass if they didn’t bring energy Wednesday night. Safe to say, the message hit home with Garnett and the Celtics, who outrebounded Minnesota, 45-41 in a 104-94 win at TD Garden.
“I think what you see here is that we as a team are trying to be better at rebounding,” Garnett said. “Doc’s been on our [butt] about giving up offensive rebounds, playing tougher, establishing something. Obviously, being called soft is not something that you want to be called. It still lives in the back of our minds. Still a work in progress.”
‘This is a very good team we played tonight,” Garnett said beating a Timberwolves team that handled the Sixers a night before in Philadelphia. “They put it to Philly the night before and obviously they played back to back, but a very good team. Kevin Love has been a cast over there and it was by no means an easy game for us.’
Garnett finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds as his energy and attack mentality against Kevin Love led the way.
“When I’m out there hoopin’, I’m not really conscious of when it comes to defense,” Garnett said. “I know where my energy needs to be. I know my primary role. But I’m efficient. I know what I’m doing. I try to be aggressive when they need to be.”
Love had 19 points and 13 rebounds but the Celtics we able to control the Minnesota front court.
‘We were aggressive, and we were aggressive from the early part of the game,” Garnett said. “We established a post early on. I thought defensively we played with a lot of energy. We made them go to their second and third options which is something they don’t like to do, but we did a decent job on Kevin. He obviously had a double double but for the most part we slowed him down a little bit and controlled the tempo. Having Rondo back was big for us, I thought he brought a lot of big energy. He was excited that he was back and probably fed off that.”
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