|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.
|Celtics need to rebound after opening loss to Raptors||10.31.13 at 9:20 am ET|
Brad Stevens had good reason to be optimistic following his team’s season-opening 93-87 loss to the Raptors in Toronto on Wednesday night, but the first-year Celtics coach also had plenty of reason for concern. Mainly, the C’s were dominated on the boards, getting outrebounded 48-33, including 19-7 on offensive boards.
“When they broke us down, they crushed us on the glass,” Stevens told reporters. “They shot 20 more field goals than us. It’s going to be hard to win a game when that happens.”
Added Brandon Bass: “We tried to help and got ourselves out of position. Their bigs were naked under the basket for the most part.”
Jeff Green scored 25 points, Bass netted 17 and Vitor Faverani added 13 points and three blocks for the C’s, who lost to Toronto for just the sixth time in 26 meetings. Kris Humphries had eight points and a team-high nine rebounds.
First-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk played 16 minutes off the bench and scored four points on 2-of-5 shooting. Olynyk, a Toronto native, was a minus-19, tied for worst on the team with Faverani. Guard Avery Bradley struggled with his shooting, hitting just 4-of-13 from the field, and recording as many turnovers as assists (4).
The Celtics rallied from a 16-point third-quarter deficit and were tied at 78 with 7:42 left after a Jordan Crawford jumper, but they didn’t score again until 4:08 remained.
“At the end of the day we didn’t do everything perfectly,” Stevens said. “I didn’t coach a perfect game, but I think we can all rest assured we’ve got a team that will fight and we’ve got a team that will compete. And we can shore up a couple of those mistakes, maybe we can come out the other end of it.”
Rudy Gay led the Raptors with 19 points and eight rebounds.
The Celtics next host the Bucks on Friday night.
|Celtics, for the last time: Brandon Bass||10.29.13 at 5:45 pm ET|
One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time ‘¦ ?” Next up: Brandon Bass.
When’s the last time an overshadowed big emerged in the wake of his frontcourt mate’s blockbuster trade?
Commanding the Celtics frontcourt, Kevin Garnett was talkative, intensive and abrasive. Upon his arrival to Boston in 2011, an inaudible, tranquil and cordial Brandon Bass — Garnett’s starting frontcourt mate the past two seasons following the Glen Davis trade — had zero chance to shine in the shadow of such a bright NBA light.
Trading great bigs isn’t a standard basketball business practice, but it happens, particularly in the twilight of their careers. In the past 15 years, Chris Webber, Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Shaquille O’Neal, Rasheed Wallace, Alonzo Mourning, Pau Gasol, Jermaine O’Neal, Dwight Howard and Garnett have all been dealt.
In their wake, each left a frontcourt mate who surely hoped to take a(nother) step forward in their departed mentor’s absence. Webber left Juwan Howard in 1998 and Brad Miller in 2005, Ewing left Larry Johnson in 2000, Mutombo left Alan Henderson in 2001, Shaquille O’Neal left the immortal Stanislav Medvedenko in 2004, Wallace left Zach Randolph in 2004, Mourning left Nenad Krstic in 2005, Gasol left Darko Milicic in 2008, Jermaine O’Neal left Troy Murphy in 2008, Howard left Big Baby in 2012 and Garnett left Bass this summer.
Those 10 sidekicks averaged 12.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 blocks and 0.6 steals per game during the season leading up to their star partner’s departure. Those numbers barely budged — dipping ever-so-slightly to 12.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.6 blocks and 0.5 steals — the ensuing season.
Not much changed, clearly. Most stepped back, if only because great players made their teammates better, and Davis took the biggest step forward, which either means nothing (considering Howard’s tumultuous final season in Orlando) or everything (since Bass mentored Big Baby throughout their Baton Rouge childhoods).
|Dressed for success: C’s force Game 6 with win in New York||05.01.13 at 9:41 pm ET|
NEW YORK — The Celtics are halfway home to history.
Jason Terry drilled 5-of-7 from 3-point range and finished with 17 points while Paul Pierce was 4-of-8 from long distance and added 16 as the Celtics overcame an early 11-point hole and stunned the Knicks, 92-86, Wednesday night in Game 5 at TD Garden. Game 6 is now set for Friday night at TD Garden, with the Celtics trailing, 3-2, in the best-of-seven series.
Jeff Green scored 18, Brandon Bass added 17 and Kevin Garnett hauled in 18 rebounds and hit a key jumper with under a minute left, as the Celtics became the 11th team in NBA history to force a Game 6 after falling into a 3-0 hole. Only three have ever forced a Game 7 and none have ever come all the way back and won the series.
Boston finished 11-for-20 from 3-point range while the Knicks were 5-for-20 from distance.
Kenyon Martin and several Knicks arrived at Madison Square Garden wearing all black, making good on a promise to dress for what they predicted was a Celtics funeral. J.R. Smith, who announced the Knicks would’ve won Game 4 and swept the series if he weren’t suspended, missed his first 11 shots and picked up a double-technical with Terry midway through the fourth quarter. The game ended with a heated exchange involving Jordan Crawford, Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton as the two teams walked off the court.
But early on, things couldn’t have started much worse for the Celtics. They missed their first five jumpers from the floor while the Knicks raced out to an 11-0 lead.
Bass was the only Celtics player holding things together. Bass hit his first three shots while the rest of the Celtics started 0-for-8.
Trailing 15-6, Bass’ layup started a 14-7 Celtics run to end the first quarter and Boston trailed by just two, 22-20, with Bass tallying nine points.
The Knicks were clearly frustrated and borderline shaken by Boston’s ability to fight back. Martin picked up his third foul with 9:10 left in the second quarter when he delivered a tomahawk chop to Garnett. The call was initially ruled ‘Flagrant 1′ but was rescinded after video review.
The Knicks appeared to right the ship somewhat after that, opening a 32-26 lead on a Felton layup with 7:26 left. But the Celtics again responded with a fury. Pierce hit a pair of threes that sparked a 19-7 run to end the second quarter, as Boston silenced a very nervous Madison Square Garden crowd and took a 45-39 halftime lead. Garnett was big on the glass in the first half, with nine rebounds and 10 points.
Read the rest of this entry »
|Doc Rivers puts Brandon Bass back in starting lineup for Jason Terry||04.28.13 at 12:29 pm ET|
Noting that he really likes his defense on Carmelo Anthony, Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced that he is re-inserting Brandon Bass into the starting lineup, as Jason Terry heads back to his more customary role off the bench.
“I just like Brandon on Melo more,” Rivers said. “Like I said [Saturday], the smaller lineup, the numbers actually say it’s better, but I like our defense better the other way.”
The Celtics will face a Knicks team in Game 4 that will be without “Sixth Man of the Year” J.R. Smith, suspended for the game after throwing an elbow in the face of Terry with seven minutes left in Game 3. Smith, who was averaging 16.3 points in the first three games, was assessed a “Flagrant Foul 2″ for the violation and was suspended by the NBA on Saturday.
What will be the biggest impact of the Knicks losing their second-leading scorer?
“Listen, he’s one of their other guys that can create shots and, especially in the playoffs, you need a guy,” Rivers said. “You think about what we’ve done good in this series, the Knicks are being held 13 points under their normal [scoring] average. And J.R. Smith has played well, because in the playoffs you take teams out of their stuff, and it comes down to guys creating shots for themselves and others. Well, Melo does that, [Raymond Felton] has done that, and J.R. Smith does that. Now they don’t have one of those guys.”
Meanwhile, the Celtics will try to take the first step on the path to NBA history as no team has ever overcome an 0-3 hole in the postseason.
“Obviously when one team is in an elimination situation, and the other team is not, it’s mental really for both,” Rivers said. “I’m not going to concern myself with their mental, but with ours, it’s all mental, it always is.”
|Monday notes: Doc Rivers says Brandon Bass played ‘the perfect game’ while the bench, not so much||04.22.13 at 2:17 pm ET|
NEW YORK — So what did the Celtics film session reveal on Sunday?
“I thought Brandon played the perfect game for us,” Rivers said. “I thought defensively, he guarded Melo [Carmelo Anthony] well. He took shots when he should have. He moved the ball because they were coming [on traps].”
And it showed that the team’s energy and effort was there.
It also showed one huge area of need – getting Kevin Garnett more involved in the right spots on the court so that the offense doesn’t go into hibernation like it did for the final 13 minutes on Saturday.
“It was good, it was good,” Rivers said. “The film never lies. It didn’t. I thought our guys were great. They saw what we could’ve done and didn’t do. I’m sure New York saw the same things. So, I expect them to have a great game [Tuesday] and I expect us to play better as well.”
After hitting his first two shots from the field, Garnett made just two of his final 10 shots and finished 4-of-12 with eight points.
“He could’ve gotten himself in better spots and that’s again on us, too,” Rivers said. “It’s never one thing, it’s both. We have to create them for him. Kevin can’t dribble or pass to himself. We have to create that for him but listen, they’re still very good defensively. They trap and get down there [on block]. Even if you get him deep, they’re still coming.”
Did film help Garnett himself?
“Yeah, actually it did,” Garnett said. “It was nice session. Obviously, we put some things in, dropped some things. We’ll go over that in practice.”
The mood of the team was good, led by its always-smiling head coach, who as Garnett was talking to Rivers, asked Rajon Rondo if he were going to take part in practice. Rondo – wearing a pair of stylish green beats – was doing what he has been doing for the last two weeks, shooting around with his team and taking in practice and offering insights as he rehabs his reconstructed right ACL.
Now, Rivers is trying to regroup his troops and remind them that there was a lot to be happy about in the first three quarters of Saturday’s loss to the Knicks.
One thing he made clear on Monday was that the energy Saturday was good, just not the execution.
“I’m always pleased with that,” Rivers said. “We played hard, and so did they. We have to play better. It’s like I told our guys, hard is great but hard and smart is more important.”
The perfect example of that was in the third quarter when Lee saved a ball with a behind-the-back pass. But he saved it under the basket the Celtics were defending and into the hands of the Knicks, who easily converted the layup.
“We made a lot of hard plays, even Courtney saves the ball inbounds, he was hustling so you give him an ‘A’ for effort and then the rest of the part is where you have to be smarter as a group. I thought we did a lot of that in the game [on Saturday].” Read the rest of this entry »
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