|Fast Break: Raptors spoil Brad Stevens’ Celtics debut||10.07.13 at 9:58 pm ET|
The new-look Celtics may have lost their preseason debut, but the defeat wasn’t entirely discouraging.
In front of the handful of fans not watching the Red Sox, four Celtics reached double figures in the 97-89 loss to the Raptors. Gerald Wallace (16 points) led the way, followed by Jared Sullinger (14 points, 6 rebounds), Avery Bradley (12 points) and Kris Humphries (11 points). Of course, other things happened, too.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Tough start: Let’s just say the introduction to the Brad Stevens Era defense wasn’t pretty. The Raptors grabbed an 8-0 lead, including a pair of uncontested Jonas Valanciunas dunks, and then stretched it to 14-2 against a starting lineup of Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries.
No contest: The Celtics played everyone on the 14-man roster in the first half with the exception of Phil Pressey, and things didn’t get much better defensively. The Raptors shot 59.4 percent from the field and scored 53 points in the opening 24 minutes, including 26 in the paint and 10 on second chances. Somehow, only two of those 53 points came on the fast break, which means the half-court defense wasn’t so good.
Window watching: At halftime, the Celtics had six rebounds. Six. That’s one every four minutes. Their leading rebounder? Six guys with one apiece (four bigs, Gerald Wallace and Avery Bradley). Meanwhile, the Raptors had 22 boards at the break. Valanciunas had a half dozen, or as many as the entire Celtics roster combined. Things improved in the second half, but Toronto still out-rebounded the C’s 46-26 for the game.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Frontcourt depth: The first three non-guards off the bench — Wallace, Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger — transformed the early 14-2 deficit into a three-point lead late in the first quarter. Olynyk’s passing game was the biggest surprise, as the rookie registered more assists (5) than the rest of his teammates (4) through the first two quarters.
Vitor FAVErani: The mystery behind the Brazilian big man landing in Boston and the unveiling of his mohawk during a glorious Media Day interview established Faverani as the Honorary Brian Scalabrine Award winner of this preseason (also known as the Greg Stiemsma Lifetime Achievement Award), and he didn’t disappoint in his Garden debut. In the 7-footer’s first three minutes, he threw down a breakaway dunk, poached a pair of steals, blocked a shot and set a handful of hard screens. Vitor is still the best.
Over the Hump: For all the off-the-court drama that has plagued Kris Humphries, he quietly showed up early in Boston (in great shape, too), served as a leader to the younger Celtics during pre-camp workouts, earned a starting spot out of camp and then drew a pair of charges early in the first preseason game. In other words, he’s motivated and could win over some Celtics fans this season. In related news, Humphries is in a contract year.
|Fab Melo: Celtics ‘didn’t give me a chance’||at 3:23 pm ET|
— Dwain Price (@DwainPrice) October 7, 2013
Fab Melo is actually talking about practice. The Celtics didn’t give him a chance in practice, huh? Um, it’s practice Fabricio. Isn’t practice, by nature, a series of chances? And the Celtics gave Melo too many of them. In fact, I’m pretty sure I saw Bryan Doo shut down Melo on the block at the end of practice once.
The C’s spent a first-round pick on Melo and paid him $1.25 million for three rebounds. Or $418,240 per rebound. He’s 7 feet, and the Celtics needed big men last year like Tom Brady needs wide receivers. Desperately.
I suppose the Grizzlies didn’t give him a chance, either, since they waived him three weeks into his Memphis career. And once Melo cleared waivers, every other team joined that list of nonbelievers, too, except perhaps the Mavericks, who invited Melo to camp. See. Everybody gives 7-footers a chance. Just ask Eddy Curry.
At least Fab Melo has a long career ahead of him as the Leonard Maltin of Twitter:
|Kelly Olynyk doesn’t have a fork, shower curtain||10.04.13 at 3:35 pm ET|
Celtics rookie Kelly Olynyk is keeping a diary for Comcast (h/t Celtics Life). In his first entry, we learn the young Canadian who Danny Ainge once called “a 7-foot hippy quarterback” doesn’t have a fork or a shower curtain.
“I’m basically starting from scratch out here. I don’t really know anyone, don’t have anything to my name out here, don’t even have a fork!
“I had to go and get everything, and I still need more. Sometimes I’ll be in my apartment and go to do something, and I’ll be like, ‘I don’t have a shower curtain! I have to take a bath?’ So I get in my car and drive to the practice facility and take a shower.”
|Doc Rivers: Clippers ‘should be better than’ ’08 Celtics||10.03.13 at 4:41 pm ET|
Here we go again. Former Celtics coach Doc Rivers thinks his Clippers are better than any team he’s coached. Here’s what he told ESPN LA (h/t Ball Don’t Lie) about Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan & Co.
“They should be better than any team I’ve ever coached, I really believe that. They’re more athletic. They don’t have the veteran IQ but they should be in that area. We have a couple individual defenders that can be dominating on defense. We have great speed but we don’t have the size in some ways as some of the teams I’ve coached.”
Hmm. I’m sure the Clippers will join the 2008 Celtics and Michael Jordan‘s 1990s Bulls as the only teams in NBA history to own an efficiency differential greater than 11 (outscoring opponents by 11 points per 100 possessions); they’ll start better than 8-0, take at least a 23-2 record into Christmas and finish better than 66-16; and they’ll go better than 13-1 at home in the playoffs and beat the Heat by 40 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, eclipsing the largest margin of victory in a title-clinching game — set, of course, by those pesky ’08 Celtics. No biggie.
|Irish Coffee: Danny Ainge’s tankless Celtics job||at 2:44 pm ET|
The great Ian Thomsen elicited not one, but two of the best quotes on the tanking issue facing the Celtics this season in his latest for Sports Illustrated — both from C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
Here’s the first important phrase from Ainge, addressing what many believe is the strongest NBA draft class since the 2003 edition that produced eight All-Stars (including a guy by the name of LeBron James) — headed by potential franchise players Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart and Julius Randle.
“If Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was out there to change your franchise forever, or Tim Duncan was going to change your franchise for 15 years? That might be a different story. I don’t see that player out there.”
Interesting. If this isn’t some strange attempt at a Red Auerbach-esque bluff, then tanking doesn’t concern these C’s — not only because of the historically poor Ping Pong luck of the Irish, but because Wiggins isn’t LeBron.
Besides, even if Ainge wanted to tank, it’s not like he’s gathering his coach and players around the locker room and delivering an anti-motivational speech. (Which, by the way, would be great: “Great draft picks are born from great opportunity, and that’s what you have here tonight, boys. That’s what you’ve earned here tonight. One season. If we played 82 games, they might win 41. But not this season. Not this year. This year, we tank them. This year, we lose all of them. And we shut it down because we can! This year, WE are the worst basketball team in the world.” And a slow clap, of course.) Anyhow, as for real Ainge quotes, here’s that second important one.
|Better Media Day Photo? Scal vs. Sheed||at 11:55 am ET|
|VIDEO: Top 10 2013-14 Boston Celtics Media Day moments||10.01.13 at 10:40 pm ET|
Irish Coffee’s annual Top 10 Celtics Media Day moments. A comprehensive look at the day’s events, including interviews with Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens, Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Brandon Bass, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Avery Bradley, Jordan Crawford and Courtney Lee. Just about everyone, except MarShon Brooks, who flew under the radar. Along with his afro.