|Fast Break: Celtics hold on to beat Raptors||12.18.11 at 3:32 pm ET|
With only two preseason games and the start of the season just week away, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he would give his starters and his top rotation players significant time in their exhibition game against the Raptors and the coach was as good as his word.
Even without Paul Pierce (right heel) and Sasha Pavlovic (left wrist), Rivers used just 10 players in the first half and the Celtics coach didn’t go deep into his bench until the fourth quarter. It wasn’t a coincidence that the Celtics blew a 10-point lead in the final quarter, but held on for a 76-75 victory in Toronto.
Here’s the good and the bad:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
— Marquis Daniels started for Pierce and played well. He’s one of the team’s better post-up options and he remains a good cutter who helps facilitate the team’s offense with his movement off the ball. With Jeff Green out for the season, Daniels has become an important reserve. He’ll get most of the time behind Pierce and also play some off-guard for the Celtics as well. He came into camp in terrific shape and said that he’s stronger than he was before undergoing surgery for a spinal condition.
— Rivers called center Jermaine O’Neal the MVP of the first week of camp and at times he was the best player on the floor for the Celtics. O’Neal said that he feels more comfortable offensively and understands where he needs to be to contribute. Defensively, his shot-blocking presence is invaluable for a team with a shortage of big men.
— Brandon Bass continues to impress with a diverse offensive game. He hit jumpers coming off down screens and in isolation and ran the floor with Rajon Rondo for a sweet dunk in transition. Bass is the best offensive weapon the Celtics have had coming off the bench in years.
— The Celtics were the worst offensive rebounding team in the league by a wide margin last season. That should change with Bass and Chris Wilcox on board. Both are energy players with athleticism and timing and they weren’t afraid to crash the boards.
— E’Twuan Moore drained a couple of late jumpers, showing again why the team is so high on their second-round pick.
WHAT WENT WRONG
— The hope is that Pierce can return to practice this week, but until he returns the Celtics are dangerously thin at the small forward spot. The Celtics insist that there’s noting to worry about with Pierce, but any time one of their core players misses this much time it’s a concern.
— Without much depth at small forward, Rivers used a number of three-guard lineups with Keyon Dooling, Avery Bradley, Moore, Ray Allen and Rondo. They were successful in speeding up the tempo of the game, something that has been an emphasis throughout camp, but struggled to score without Allen or Rondo in the game.
Shot creation will be something to watch all season from the reserves. The Celtics struggled mightily in that regard last season and while Dooling, Bass and Wilcox are an offensive upgrade, none of them excels at creating his own offense.
— Rookie JaJuan Johnson did not see the court until the fourth quarter, an indication that he has work to do to see some playing time. Rivers has said that Johnson has been up and down throughout camp, which is to be expected for a rookie. The team loves his outside shot and athleticism. He’ll get his chances during the season.
|Brandon Bass is comfortable with his role||12.16.11 at 1:11 pm ET|
Last season while playing with the Magic, Brandon Bass was the only low-post presence alongside Dwight Howard. The Magic roster had size beyond Bass and Howard in the frontcourt, but Ryan Anderson and Hedo Turkoglu are swingmen with a proclivity to hang around the three point line rather then big bangers battling in the trenches.
Consequently, Bass has proven he isn’t afraid to take on other big men in the paint, and he will need to do so with the Celtics. The lack of depth up front is more than evident. “I’d love to grow a little bit,” coach Doc Rivers joked at practice yesterday. “I think [the players’] growth spurts are done, at least upward.”
The scarcity of size on the roster means Bass will need to contribute substantial minutes both at the power forward and center position despite being only 6-foot-8. “That’s the role I’ve played my whole career,” he said. “Even in Dallas I played [power forward] and [center]. I’m comfortable playing both [positions].”
When Bass suits up for the Celtics in Madison Square Garden opening day on Christmas, he will start a new chapter in his career — playing on his fourth team in his seventh season. His nomadic path has not deterred his attitude or goals to win a NBA championship.
“With hard work and dedication [settling with a team] will take care of itself,” Bass said. “I envision myself hopefully helping this team win a championship.”
One of the biggest challenges presented by the lockout is whether players can adjust to their new teammates in a shortened training camp. Bass praised the Celtics’ veteran core for making the transition easier. “Walking into a new environment,” he said, “I felt a little uncomfortable. But all the guys – Kevin [Garnett], Paul [Pierce], Ray [Allen] – quickly made me feel at home.”
Bass was acquired in a sign-and-trade deal that send Glen Davis and Von Wafer to Orlando. Bass and Davis are different players, but will likely play similar roles. While they posted similar numbers, Bass is a better shooter and a more efficient offensive player.
Bass was drawn to the celebrated history of the Celtics. “Walking in the locker room, seeing the pictures on the wall of legends that played here was a great feeling,” he said and he hopes before his time is over in Boston, he can help add another championship to the rafters.
|Irish Coffee: Top 10 Celtics Media Day moments||12.14.11 at 1:03 pm ET|
Tuesday’s Media Day marked the official unveiling of the 2011-12 Celtics at their practice facility in Waltham. Some familiar faces. Some new ones. Here are the top 10 highlights from what was a tame afternoon compared to the Shaquille O’Neal hoopla from a year ago.
10. BACK TO SCHOOL: After finishing six courses during the fall and summer semesters at Georgetown, Celtics forward Jeff Green is just two classes away from finishing a major in English and a minor in theology. He plans on completing his degree in the summer to become the first member of his family to earn a college diploma.
“It’s something I can cross off my bucket list,” he said, adding that a diploma and an NBA championship trophy would be comparable achievements to place on his mantle.
Asked if he could avoid being seen in lectures, Green smiled and said, “I’m 6-9. I can’t hide.”
Pierce, 34, called the “42-year-old” Allen (he’s 36) an inspiration to play five more years, and then referred reporters to his website PaulPierce.net/TruthonHealth for any questions. Green wasn’t the only one learning during the lockout; Pierce is apparently now a marketing expert.
8. SUPER SIZE ME: We all remember the Shawn Kemps and Vin Bakers of the 1999 lockout — the guys who showed up to training camp so out of shape their bodies never fully recovered. Allen remembers, too.
“There were some guys back in ’99, when you saw them, it was like, ‘Holy cow, this guy was on vacation for the last three months, didn’t do a thing, didn’t pick up a basketball or a weight,'” Allen said. “And that’s not the case in this locker room. We knew it, because we have too many strong-minded individuals.”
Allen had a front-row seat for Baker’s transformation from a guy who averaged 19.2 points and 8.0 rebounds for their Sonics the season before to 13.8 points and 6.2 rebounds after the last lockout-shortened season. Naturally, the Celtics traded for Baker four seasons later.
“Every day I sat around the house,” said Allen, “I was like, ‘I gotta go work out, because I don’t want to be that guy.'”
7. TOP CHEF: Celtics forward Kevin Garnett cracked one smile during Media Day, when analogizing team chemistry to the culinary arts. “Chemistry is something that you just don’t throw in the frying pan, mix it up with another something, throw something on top of that, then fry it up, put in a tortilla, put in a microwave and heat it up, and then give it to you and expect it to taste good,” he said. “For those who can cook, y’all know what I’m talking about. If y’all don’t know what I’m talking about, you can’t cook and this doesn’t concern you.”
|Irish Coffee: Have the Celtics upgraded their roster?||12.12.11 at 1:22 pm ET|
When Brandon Bass is your biggest offseason acquisition, would you consider that a success? The Celtics needed to get a lot better, and without knowing who the 15th man on the roster will be it’s hard to say they did.
Here’s your 2011-12 Celtics roster, with 14 of the 15 available roster spots all but filled.
Kevin Garnett: $21.2 million
Paul Pierce: $15.3 million
Ray Allen: $10 million
Rajon Rondo: $10 million
Jeff Green: $9 million
Jermaine O’Neal: $6.2 million
Brandon Bass: $4 million
Keyon Dooling: $2.2 million
Avery Bradley: $1.5 million
Marquis Daniels: $1.3 million
Chris Wilcox: $1.3 million
Sasha Pavlovic: $1.3 million*
JaJuan Johnson: $0.9 million**
E’Twaun Moore: $0.5 million***
Total: $84.7 million (plus $14.4 million luxury tax)
*Pavlovic is expected to re-sign for one year at the veteran minimum, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.
**Johnson has yet to reach a deal, but the rookie pay scale suggests he’ll get just under $1 million.
***Terms of Moore’s guaranteed deal have not been disclosed, so I’m slotting him at the rookie minimum.
Did the Celtics improve themselves at any position from the team that lost the Eastern Conference semifinals in five games to an improved Heat squad? Let’s attempt to answer that question. Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: Another NBA conspiracy theory||12.09.11 at 2:20 pm ET|
Please indulge me, whilst a tell you an NBA conspiracy theory. It involves a Mormon, a camel, two giants and an insurance salesman. None of them walked into a bar.
On July 31, 2007, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge convinced former C’s teammate, good friend and Timberwolves general manager Kevin McHale to ship Kevin Garnett to Boston in return for Al Jefferson and a cup of poop soup over a deal with the Lakers involving Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom. And the road to a 17th NBA championship was paved.
On Feb. 1, 2008, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak dangled the immortal Kwame Brown and his 5.7 points/5.7 rebounds per game as the centerpiece of a trade for Grizzlies All-Star Pau Gasol and his 18.9 points/8.8 rebounds per game. And former C’s general manager Chris Wallace delivered the 2009 and 2010 NBA titles to L.A.
|Davis jumps into new role||02.03.09 at 11:28 pm ET|
While Ray Allen was the hero of the Boston Celtics dramatic win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night, the Cs would not have been in striking distance if it weren’t for one player stepping up in Kevin Garnett’s absence. For the second straight game, Glen Davis has thrived in his role as the Celtics starting power forward.
Davis posted 12 points (6-11 FG) and 11 rebounds against the 76ers (RECAP HERE). Of his six field goals, only one came in the paint. On Sunday, he added 12 points (5-12 FG) and six rebounds against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Davis isn’t just attacking the hoop like a traditional big man. Big Baby is getting the job done with his jumper.
‘I think it’s going to help my game tremendously,’ Davis said recently. ‘If I can spread the floor for my team … I can move up to the four, pick and roll to help out with Paul (Pierce), and hit the jumper. I kind of just train myself to be ready to hit that big shot.’
His preparation paid off when he hit knocked down a 17-footer with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter. The basket brought the Celtics back within three and sparked an 8-to-4 run to close out the game.
This season Davis has developed a knack for mid-range jumpers. Even though the majority of his baskets have come at the rim ‘ his biggest responsibility is attacking the glass ‘ he has been in the zone away from the paint. He entered Tuesday’s game shooting nearly 50% from just inside the arc and almost 40% from the top of the key. Davis has made it a point to fit his jumpshots into his training regimen.
‘It doesn’t take that long [in practice],’ he said. ‘I might go 30 minutes hard, just jumper, jumper, jumper, jumper, and get mine in for the day. I just try to do it every day.’
Davis’ shot has been a work in progress over the years, according to his childhood friend, Dallas Mavericks forward Brandon Bass. The two also played college basketball together at LSU. Bass has seen Davis transform from a banger to a finesse player. It’s a move that was necessary for the 6-foot-9 forward to adapt as an undersized big man in the NBA.
‘He never had a bad jumpshot,’ Bass said. ‘He always could shoot it, but he wasn’t necessarily a jumpshooter. He was more of a guy you could throw it to on the block and he could get you a bucket, or he’d eat the glass up and get an offensive rebound. When I left [LSU in 2005] he developed a jumpshot a little more.’
Garnett (flu) is expected to return for Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. While Davis won’t get as many looks off the bench, this extra playing time has helped his confidence with his shot. The skills are there; now it’s just a matter of showcasing them when given the opportunity.
‘I feel like I always had the talent to do a lot of things,’ Davis said. ‘It’s just all about working on them and doing them. But I always in college had flashes of myself taking the ball up the court, playing at a smaller position than the power forward and the center. So I know I can do it. It’s just about going out there and doing it and having confidence and working on it consistently.’
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