|Fast Break: Celtics avoid worst start in franchise history||11.06.13 at 9:49 pm ET|
The Celtics avoided starting 0-5 for the first time since 1946-47 — the organization’s inaugural season — and delivered coach Brad Stevens his first NBA victory in the process, a 97-87 beating of the winless Jazz.
Brandon Bass (20 points), Jeff Green (18 points), Kelly Olynyk (14 points, 8 rebounds) and Jared Sullinger (12 points) all reached double figures, and Gerald Wallace contributed nine points and nine boards off the bench.
Here’s all that went right and wrong in the C’s first win in five tries to start the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Full-court Pressey: The former Waltham star didn’t score a point in his 12 first-half minutes, but at least the Celtics had a point guard. With the C’s trailing 20-10, Stevens yanked Jordan Crawford in favor of Pressey 8:17 into the first quarter. In his first four minutes, Pressey served up three assists — halving Crawford’s total for the entire season — and ignited a 13-6 run to finish the quarter trailing by just three.
A couple 3′s: By bringing Wallace off the bench for the first time this season and somewhat staggering the small forward minutes between he and Green, Stevens was able to ensure that one of his two best options was on the floor for the entire first half. Of course, the duo still saw the court together in spurts, too, combining for 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in leading the Celtics to a 50-34 halftime lead.
Getting possessive: The Celtics committed an average of 19.8 turnovers and allowed 15.0 offensive rebounds per game in their first four losses. That’s a whole lot of extra possessions. Against the Jazz, the C’s respectively limited those numbers to 10 and six through three quarters. Hence, a 22-point lead on their way to victory.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Worst first: Facing a starting frontcourt of Bass and Vitor Faverani, the Jazz dominated the interior from the start — just as the C’s first four foes did this fall. Enes Kanter scored eight of Utah’s first 14 points, including a trio of buckets within 3 feet of the basket, as the Jazz opened up a 13-point advantage to start the game. As a result, Stevens started Olynyk over Faverani in the third quarter, Sullinger’s minutes increased and Kris Humphries even saw the floor. Just like we drew it up.
Flash Gordon: The Celtics had few answers for Stevens’ protege, Gordon Hayward, who amassed 28 points (12-20 FG), nine boards and five assists. Keep in mind, he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. Just saying.
So on and so fourth: The C’s fourth-quarter struggles continued, accentuated by an 11-0 Jazz run midway through the fourth quarter that helped slash what was once a 25-point Celtics lead down to eight with 6:26 to play.
|Stat man: Addressing Celtics’ big problem||11.05.13 at 2:12 pm ET|
The biggest problem facing these Celtics is the lack of a point guard, but that’s a story for a different day, since there’s no viable solution on the current roster until Rajon Rondo returns. Sure, a little more Phil Pressey might help, but is an undersized, undrafted rookie point guard really going to solve this thing?
So, let’s address a problem that Brad Stevens could possibly bandage with the current roster.
The Celtics are the NBA’s worst defensive rebounding team, allowing opponents to grab 33.9 percent of available offensive boards — a number that would rank among the worst in history over a full season. Opponents attempt 39.3 field goals per game within 8 feet of the basket; only the Blazers (43.3) are worse. The opposition scores 20.8 second-chance points per game; only the Nuggets (23.0) are worse. And just four teams (Wizards, Blazers, Clippers, Bucks) give up more than the C’s 44.5 points allowed in the paint per game.
The C’s interior defense needs work. Vitor Faverani, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Kris Humphries are allowing an average of 26.5 attempts at the rim, where opponents are shooting 52.8 percent.
The two biggest offenders, naturally, are rookies. Faverani is allowing 11 field goal attempts at the rim per game. Eleven! Per game! That’s the fifth-worst number in the league. He’s grabbed just 49.2 percent of his 14.8 rebound chances per game. The only other player with as many opportunities to snatch fewer than 50 percent is Al Jefferson, who hasn’t played since aggravating an ankle injury on opening night.
Meanwhile, the opposition is shooting 76.5 percent at the rim against Olynyk. That’s ridiculous. Only two bigs (Trevor Booker, DeMarre Carroll) are worse. And Olynyk snags fewer rebounds per chance than Faverani.
|Paul Pierce just made this Celtics season a little sadder||11.04.13 at 10:34 am ET|
As if this Celtics season wasn’t sad enough so far, American Express just released this Paul Pierce ad. “The more I embrace Brooklyn, the more Brooklyn embraces me. It feels good being here. It feels like I’m home.”
P.S. Seriously, though, it’s nice to see Pierce embracing the Brooklyn community the way he did Boston.
|The Bill Russell Legacy Project, in their words||11.03.13 at 5:33 pm ET|
My words couldn’t possibly do justice to the stories shared about one of our greatest Americans at Friday’s Bill Russell Legacy Project unveiling, so I’ll let theirs do the talking. A transcript of the video is provided below.
|Gerald Wallace can’t stop calling out Celtics||11.02.13 at 12:34 am ET|
Gerald Wallace has officially called out the Celtics more times than they’ve played games. After twice putting his teammates on blast during the preseason, it took all of two regular-season games for Wallace to rip them again.
“We got selfish,” he said after the Celtics blew a 22-point lead in a 105-98 loss to the Bucks. “We got selfish as a team. Instead of worrying about winning the ballgame, we were more worried about our stats, getting points. It showed. We went from a team that was together and moving and playing together in the first half to a team that was five individuals out on the court, everybody playing for themselves, and it showed on the defensive end.”
And who might be the stat-padding offenders?
|Fast Break: Celtics can’t deliver Brad Stevens’ first win||11.01.13 at 10:11 pm ET|
Bill Russell walked through that door, but he was 79 years old and watching from the front row after the city unveiled a statue in his honor on Friday afternoon. The Celtics still could’ve used his help.
The C’s built a second-half lead as large as 22, but the Bucks outscored them 34-15 in the fourth quarter to regain the lead in the final minute and steal a 105-98 victory in Boston’s home opener.
It wasn’t all bad for the Celtics, who got a double-double from Vitor Faverani (12 points, 18 rebounds) and nearly got a couple more from Brandon Bass (17 points, 9 rebounds) and Jeff Green (13 points, 9 rebounds).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Nets loss: Maybe it was the matchup. Maybe it’s more than that.
Maybe it’s Maybelline. Whatever it was, Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans and MarShon Brooks sat on the bench. For the entire game. Only Gerald Wallace, who started for the second straight game, saw the floor among those acquired in the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett trade.
Glass wipe: The Celtics talked a whole lot about rebounding better after getting trounced on the glass and allowing 19 offensive boards in the season opener. And while they owned the overall rebounding edge against Milwaukee, the C’s still allowed 17 offensive rebounds that led to 22 second-chance points for the Bucks.
Lame late: The Celtics built a lead as large as 22 after a 9-0 lead early in the third quarter, and then proceeded to watch it slowly disappear like a codeine drip. From 9:32 to 3:54 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Bucks went on a 16-4 run that tied the game, 93-93. Wallace drilled a 3-pointer that briefly gave the C’s a cushion, but a late controversial call handed Zaza Pachulia a pair of free throws that gave the Bucks the lead for good in the final minute.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
El Hombre Indestructible: Is Vitor Faverani still the best? It appears so. Vitor likes blocks, so in the opening two minutes of the contest he introduced himself to last year’s block percentage leader, Larry Sanders, with the first of his six blocks. Vitor likes dunks, so he threw one down for his first NBA basket 5:17 into the game. Vitor like rebounds, so he grabbed 11 of them by halftime. Vitor like physical plays, so he tried to charge through Sanders for one of his four turnovers. Hey, Vitor Faverani’s not perfect. He’s just the best.
Downright offensive: Playing without a point guard, the Celtics pushed the ball, attacked the basket and shared the scoring load. Sound familiar? It shouldn’t. These C’s netted 11 points on the break and 23 on second-chance opportunities (thanks to 18 offensive boards), and somehow they did it with just 13 assists on 34 field goals. The offense fell apart late, but the Celtics’ 83 points through three quarters was encouraging.
Wonderful Lee: After committing as many turnovers as he had points and submitting a minus-16 rating against the Raptors on Wednesday night, Courtney Lee bounced back with exactly the type of game the Celtics would like to see out of him on a nightly basis. He added three rebounds and a couple steals to his 13 points in 26 minutes off the bench.
|Rajon Rondo’s Red Sox beard in all its glory||at 8:06 pm ET|