|Fast Break: Warriors wallop punchless Celtics||03.05.14 at 9:47 pm ET|
As the Warriors’ lead ballooned to 30 by the end of the third quarter, Celtics fans grew restless at the Garden. They chanted “Let’s go Tupac” after a lookalike of the rapper appeared on the Jumbotron, and then followed with a “Scal-a-bri-ne” chorus for old time’s sake (Brian Scalabrine is now an assistant coach on Mark Jackson‘s staff).
Indeed, the season has come to this. Golden State delivered a 108-88 knockout blow that felt even worse, and the Celtics (20-41) held onto the NBA’s fourth-worst record. (Might as well plug the latest weekly NBA Draft Watch.)
Only because it’s customary, here are Wednesday’s double-digit scorers for the Celtics: Kelly Olynyk (team-high 19 points), Rajon Rondo (14 points, 7 assists), Brandon Bass (11 points, 8 assists), Jared Sullinger (11 points) and Jerryd Bayless (10 points).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Turnovers: After Andre Iguodola‘s block of Jeff Green led to a rare two-handed Stephen Curry dunk midway through the first quarter, the Celtics threw two straight passes to the Warriors that would have become three consecutive fast-breaks dunks had it not been for an even more rare Kris Humphries chase-down block. The turnovers kept on coming, reaching a dozen by halftime, when the Warriors owned a 61-40 lead.
Iggy vs. Green: Speaking of that small forward matchup, Green (4 points, 2-7 FG) struggled mightily opposite the Warriors’ defensive anchor. Meanwhile, Iguodola’s early bunnies contributed to Golden State’s 58 points in the paint. Needless to say, their plus/minus numbers soared into the twenties in opposite directions.
General apathy: One second-quarter possession pretty much summed up what turned out to be one of the most lackluster performances of this lackluster Celtics season. In the span of 16 seconds, Jerryd Bayless missed a layup, Draymond Green blocked Kelly Olynyk‘s layup and Jermaine O’Neal (yes, that guy) blocked Kris Humphries‘ layup. For those of you counting at home, that’s three straight misses at the rim. By the end of the third quarter, the Celtics had 17 field goals and 17 turnovers. And trailed 84-54. Oh, it was ugly.
|Gerald Wallace undergoes surgery, officially out for remainder of Celtics season||03.04.14 at 1:04 pm ET|
Gerald Wallace is officially out for the remainder of the season, the Celtics announced on Tuesday. He underwent separate arthroscopic surgeries to repair a torn meniscus on his left knee and bone spurs in his left ankle.
Thus ends the first season of the cumbersome three years and $30.3 million remaining on his contract when Boston acquired him in the trade that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets this past summer.
After failing to show up for his introductory press conference, he professed his love for David Ortiz and Tom Brady at Media Day. That’s where the highlights of his first Celtics season begin and end. The former NBA All-Star averaged 5.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals in 24.4 minutes over 58 games — all while regularly calling out his teammates over a lack of effort.
Meanwhile, Kelly Olynyk (toe) has shed his walking boot and could return from his two-game absence for Wednesday’s home tilt agains the Warriors. Likewise, Avery Bradley (ankle) will undergo an MRI to determine his status, according to reports out of Celtics practice.
|Rajon Rondo’s birthday bash: ‘My business, not yours’||02.27.14 at 12:58 am ET|
In typical Rajon Rondo fashion, the Celtics point guard addressed the media in Boston for the first time since the Boston Herald report claiming he skipped the team’s trip to Sacramento without permission.
What does he make of the media firestorm unleashed after his alleged decision to remain in Los Angeles to celebrate his 28th birthday with friends and family? “I haven’t really read much about it,” he said. “I heard a lot of comments. Nobody knows the story, so you guys keep making up every story you guys possibly can.”
What, exactly, is the story? “It’s my business,” he followed. “It’s not yours.”
Likewise, Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters prior to his team’s 115-104 victory against the Hawks that the organization would handle the matter internally. According to the Herald, C’s president Danny Ainge will meet with Rondo next week upon returning from a college scouting trip and has not ruled out a fine.
|Celtics trade rumor: More Rajon Rondo rumblings||02.18.14 at 9:42 am ET|
As Rondo said, “It’s been like that my last eight years as a Celtic.” Other teams want an All-Star, All-Defensive point guard, and they want him cheap.
Here’s the latest that’ll make Danny Ainge chuckle.
According to the Toronto Sun (h/t SB Nation), the Raptors would like Rondo, and the C’s may budge on the alleged asking price of two first-round picks, citing a source who believes Ainge would welcome “at least one lottery pick and talented young player.”
It’s no secret Boston has dangled four-time all-star Rajon Rondo league-wide and while the asking price is steep, he has piqued the interest of Toronto’s front office, according to multiple sources. Toronto is eager to up its ‘star’ quotient and is also enamoured with Rondo’s resume, particularly his four all-defensive team selections (two all-NBA first team). He has many backers in the organization.
Oh, one of the game’s top five point guards has piqued their interest? Well, then, we might as well lump the remaining 28 teams into this rumor. And is it no secret the C’s have dangled Rondo league-wide? Time and again, Ainge reminds everyone willing to listen the phone may ring but he’s not making the calls about his lone star.
Take this retread rumor, for example. As a number of less reputable outlets reported two months ago, the Kings offered Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore and a pick in exchange for Rondo, according to Yahoo’s Marc J. Spears. Except, “Rondo wasn’t interested in re-signing with Sacramento and the Kings strongly value McLemore.” Let me get this straight: Sacramento didn’t want to part with Ben McLemore for Rajon Rondo. That must be it. And there’s the small matter of that deal missing roughly $10 million in salary to make it work.
|Celtics trade rumor: Danny Ainge wants two first-round picks in exchange for Rajon Rondo||02.17.14 at 4:05 pm ET|
The first ambiguous Celtics trade rumor of NBA trade deadline week comes courtesy of Sam Smith at Bulls.com (h/t HoopsHype): “The asking price if you can get [Rajon] Rondo is said to be two unprotected first rounders.”
Seven teams other than the Celtics currently own two first-round picks in the 2014 NBA draft: Charlotte, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Utah. Only the 76ers and Magic currently own a pair lottery picks this June, and Philly already appears to have a point guard of the future.
Naturally, a host of other teams would have multiple picks to offer over the next couple years, but the hard part is also finding a lottery-bound trade partner with expiring contracts to match Rondo’s $12 million salary (because who wants late first-round picks and more money on the books?). Plus, the Celtics already own as many as 10 first-round selections over the next five seasons, and at some point they have to find players rather than assets to rebuild the franchise.
|Kelly Olynyk starting to figure out NBA||02.13.14 at 9:25 pm ET|
This is the Kelly Olynyk that Danny Ainge saw all along.
Heading into his first All-Star weekend, the rookie is showing real signs of finally getting into an NBA groove.
In 31 minutes Wednesday night, Olynyk had 15 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench. On Monday night, in a win in Milwaukee, the rookie out of Gonzaga had 14 points and 11 rebounds in 21 minutes. He’ll take the momentum with him to New Orleans for the Rising Stars game Friday night, joining teammate Jared Sullinger on Team Webber.
In six games in February, Olynyk is averaging eight points, 6.7 rebounds and 20 minutes off the bench. Drafted 13th overall by the Mavericks last June and immediately acquired by Ainge in a trade, Olynyk was seen as an athletic big man who could draw bigs out of the paint, shoot effectively and create his own shot on drives to the basket.
“He’s starting to get a good feel for [the offense],” coach Brad Stevens said Wednesday of Olynyk. “There’s a base offense, there’s a set offense, and then there’s play-in and space and understanding and picking where your opportunities are when you have those kind of structured-but-unstructured opportunities. And he’s really starting to figure that out. On all the pick and rolls where he’s playing off, whether he’s rolling, whether he’s picking and popping, whether he’s playing in the seam and then when he catches, where does he go from there?
An athlete can take anything and use it as motivation.
Sometimes it’s just for a game or a season but listening to Jared Sullinger after the final game before the All-Star break Wednesday night, being snubbed in the 2012 NBA draft is having a lingering effect.
With concerns over his back, which required surgery in his rookie year, Sullinger fell to No. 21 on draft night, just weeks after leading his Ohio State Buckeyes to the Final Four.
Usually for younger players selected to All-Star activities – like Friday’s “Rising Stars Challenge” – the weekend provides a chance to chill and show off their skills. But to Sullinger, this weekend means more, much more.
‘To me, it means everything,’ Sullinger said. ‘All the hard work. And also on top of that, being picked where I was picked, it was kind of a slap in the face towards me even though I had the back injury. But it’s a blessing.’
The slap in the face has apparently lit a fire under the big man. Only sickness (which required IVs earlier) Wednesday night could bring an end to his career-best string of six straight games with a double-double. He was named the Eastern Conference player of the week last week as he averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds. Sully had just four points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes in the 104-92 loss to the Spurs.
“I was a little sick. Still feel it a little bit, but I’m all right,” said Sullinger. “I missed a lot of shots, but I don’t really think [the illness] affected me. I think it was just that I was a little bit off in my routine, came in a little bit later because (team trainer) Eddie [Lacerte] wanted me to stay in bed. Just off my routine a little bit. As a result, I missed a lot of shots that I normally make.”
Just how long does Sullinger plan on using the motivation?
‘A long time? For the rest of my career,’ Sullinger answered.
Sullinger isn’t the first Celtics star to use a chip on his shoulder as motivation. Rajon Rondo does it every time people bring up his career at Kentucky with Tubby Smith. Paul Pierce, like Sullinger was projected by some as a “Top-5″ pick. He fell to 10th in the 1998 NBA Draft.
Now Sullinger, like Pierce and Rondo, are busy proving NBA executives wrong for passing on him. Sullinger is averaging 13.2 points and 8.2 rebounds in his second season in the NBA, earning a spot on the “Rising Stars” squad this weekend.
‘I don’t want to get satisfied,’ Sullinger said. ‘I never will get satisfied. I’ve got a lot more work to do.’