|Brandon Bass: ‘When my name is called, I’ll be ready’||10.25.12 at 4:54 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers indicated he already knows whether Brandon Bass or Jared Sullinger will start against the defending NBA champion Heat on opening night, but he’s not showing his cards, and Bass doesn’t seem interested in discussing whether he’s in that five-card draw or not, either. If he even knows.
“I’m confident in my work ethic — that when my name is called, I’ll be ready,” said Bass. “You’ve got to take care of what you can take care of, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to continue to work hard and do what I do. That’s what got me here, and that’s how I’m going to continue to grow as a player.”
When the curtains came up on Thursday’s practice, Bass wore a green t-shirt along with the four known starters: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Courtney Lee and Rajon Rondo. (Jason Terry conceded what everyone already assumed: He’ll spare Rondo and Lee off the bench in Avery Bradley‘s absence.) Sullinger wore white.
“I think that’s all Doc,” added Bass. “Doc sees that we have a talented group and we have more pieces than we had last year, and he’s just trying to see which group works best with who and things of that nature. But, being a player, you just play, continue to work on your game and just be able to make a play when your name is called.”
|Irish Coffee: Grooming Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger||10.11.12 at 8:00 am ET|
Jared Sullinger isn’t easily fazed. Not even when they called him and the other Celtics rookies in front of the entire organization during a team dinner and made him sing his favorite song: Jay-Z‘s “Public Service Announcement.”
Check out my swag’ yo, peep the way I wear it
No matter where you go, you are what you are player
And you can try to change, but that’s just the top layer
Man, you was who you was ‘fore you got here
Fitting. Sullinger isn’t intimidated by a team full of headstrong veterans whose system has produced one championship, two NBA finals appearances and three Eastern Conference finals showings in the past five years, and that’s because his basketball journey started almost from the day he was born.
|What we learned from Celtics second preseason game||10.07.12 at 2:26 pm ET|
We may as well start the season now because Rajon Rondo is clearly ready. Rondo repeatedly torched Milano’s defense, burying his first seven shots including a 3-pointer and four free throws in the first quarter as the Celtics left Europe with a split of their exhibition schedule after a 105-75 victory.
Everyone goes under screens on Rondo and everyone knows that when he’s making jump shots there’s basically no way to guard him. It’s way too early to tell if Rondo has conquered his shooting demons — especially at the free throw line where he made all 10 of his attempts in two preseason games — but it’s worth pointing out that he shot a respectable 39 percent on his jumpers from 16-23 feet last season.
Still, the early returns are encouraging and Rondo looks like he’s ready to take his game to another level this season. Here are more takeaways from the C’s preseason victory:
JARED SULLINGER STARTED: When the Celtics acquired Brandon Bass from the Magic, they originally had him as a scoring sixth man whose outside shooting would help open up the floor and take some pressure off the starters. Bass moved into the starting lineup midway through the season and fit in well, but the addition of Sullinger could present an interesting situation for coach Doc Rivers.
Sullinger’s offensive game is way ahead of his defense, which is to be expected for a rookie, and the Celtics have often tried to cover up defensive deficiencies by pairing those players with Kevin Garnett. So great is KG’s impact defensively that the C’s feel he can compensate for at least one weaker defender. Perhaps a little more juice offensively at the start of games would help break them of their slow-start habit and it’s not as if Bass isn’t capable of playing off the bench.
Preseason caveats apply, but it’s obvious that the Celtics will not bring Sullinger along slowly. He had 9 points and 7 rebounds, including three on the offensive glass.
JASON TERRY STARTED TOO: This may be less interesting. Terry and Courtney Lee both figure to play about 30 minutes a game regardless of who’s in the starting lineup, but it’s worth noting that after Lee struggled through a rough preseason opener that Terry got the call instead. That’s the great part of Terry’s game: He can start or relieve.
Terry pumped in 11 points and was an absurd Plus-29 in 28 minutes. Lee had a much stronger outing, making four of his five shots and finishing with 11 points. Read the rest of this entry »
|Celtics camp questions: Is there enough size?||09.20.12 at 11:15 am ET|
When Kevin Garnett was on the court during the playoffs last season, the Celtics were a team that was good enough to take the NBA champions to a seventh game in the Eastern Conference finals. When he was not, they were something worse than awful.
The difference between a team with KG and one without him was more than 35 points per 100 possessions. That staggering statistic not only proved just how valuable the ageless big man was, but also how truly dependent the C’s were to his presence.
The mid-season move of Garnett to the center position — which he professes to hate — was the key to their turnaround. The move also opened up a starting job for Brandon Bass, and while the duo yielded one of the more undersized frontcourts in the league, the Celtics went 24-10 after the All-Star break.
Garnett is too fast for most centers and possesses a lethal 20-foot jump shot, which allowed the C’s to spread teams out offensively and give Rajon Rondo room to operate in a congested halfcourt. Bass’ steady diet of 15-foot jumpers added a nice complement to their new-look offense. Defensively, Garnett remains a monster. Arguably the best pick-and-roll defender in the league, he was the linchpin of a defense that once again ranked among the best in the NBA.
Both players are back this season and expected to continue in their roles, but old issues still remain up front, namely rebounding and depth. Never a good offensive rebounding team, the C’s became the worst offensive rebounding team, maybe ever. Generally a strong defensive rebounding team, their percentage slipped to below average during the regular season.
That changed significantly in the postseason with Garnett playing more minutes and channeling his 2004 self on a nightly basis, but there’s no way he can keep up that pace for 82 games. Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: Did the Celtics solve rebounding woes?||09.05.12 at 11:50 am ET|
Last season, the Celtics ranked dead last in the NBA in total rebounds per game and third-to-last in both rebound differential and rebounding percentage. Not good. Not good at all. So, what did they do to improve those woes?
The short answer: Not much. The long answer? Well, that’s what we hope to explain here. First, the C’s issues.
- Rebounds per game: 38.8 (30th)
- Offensive rebounds per game: 7.7 (30th)
- Defensive rebounds per game: 31.1 (14th!)
- Rebounding percentage: 47.3 (28th)
- Offensive rebounding percentage: 19.7 (30th)
- Defensive rebounding percentage: 72.4 (20th)
- Opponents’ rebounds per game: 43.2 (21st)
- Rebound differential: -4.4 (28th)
The Celtics ranked in the top half of the NBA in just one category: Defensive rebounding, and even then they’re a middling bunch. The C’s had only two players among the league’s top 50 rebounders — Kevin Garnett (23rd) and Brandon Bass (48th) — while a team like the Lakers owned two of the NBA’s top 10 best window washers.
Things didn’t get much better in the playoffs. The C’s ranked 13th out of 16 teams in rebounds per game, 12th in opponents’ rebounds per game and 14th in rebound differential. And they ranked ninth in defensive rebounding rate, third-to-last in total rebounding rate and dead last in offensive rebounding rate. Bad, worse and terrible.
The good news: Both Garnett and Bass still anchor the C’s backcourt. The bad news: Both Garnett and Bass still anchor the C’s backcourt. While Garnett’s rebounding rate has been in fairly steady decline since he arrived in Boston, he averaged more than a rebound better once he moved to center (8.7 per game) than he did as the team’s starting power forward (7.5 per game). However, the rebounding numbers for Bass changed little during his move from the bench (6.1 in 27.9 minutes per game) to the starting lineup (6.2 in 33.6 minutes per game).
The Celtics feature the best rebounding point guard in the game (Rajon Rondo‘s average of 4.8 boards per game even surpassed 6-foot-6 Kings point Tyreke Evans), and Paul Pierce ranked among the 10 best rebounders at his position last season, but neither helped matters much last season. So, where can the C’s improve?
|Irish Coffee: Where in the world are current Celtics?||08.08.12 at 3:34 pm ET|
We’re less than two months away from the start of Celtics training camp, so now is as good a time as any to take a roster role call. There are 16 players currently under contract — or, in Jeff Green‘s case, under agreement to a contract — with the Celtics, and all have popped up at various times and in various places across the globe this summer, so let’s quickly review their last known whereabouts and salary structure.
‘I’ve got big dreams, man,’ he told reporters at a press conference last month. ‘I’m 27. Some of my cousins think I’m getting old, but I’m still young, and I’ve got big dreams of doing big things in the league. I want to make my imprint on an organization, and on a team. I think this is the perfect team to do that.’
Contract: Reportedly owed $20 million spread out over next three seasons.
“Ray was a great tutor,” Bradley told ESPN.com. “I’m sad that he’s gone, but we all wish the best for him. But he definitely meant a lot. He helped me out every single day. Sometimes I’d just be working out and he’d be watching on the side. He’d get up and tell me what I needed to work on, or tell me how I can be more consistent.”
As for his shoulder rehab? “I’m just ready to do whatever my team needs me to do,” he added. “I’m just going to be prepared and ready to go out there and do my role, and do whatever my team needs me to do to win games.”
|Even with $20 million in the bank, Brandon Bass still has big dreams||07.14.12 at 5:35 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Brandon Bass was rewarded for his career year, collecting a reported free agent prize of $20 million in a three-year deal to come back to Boston.
Now, he focused on proving the Celtics spent their money wisely.
“I had other offers out, but I knew where I wanted to be and that’s back in a green jersey playing for the Celtics,” Bass said. “It’s a great organization, a great group of guys who are all about winning. I’m excited to be back.”
Danny Ainge, the club’s president of basketball operations, certainly saw enough of Bass to feel the investment is a wise one, especially with so many moving parts on the roster since the end of the season. There is a certain intangible value in familiarity, both for Bass and the team.
“Bringing Brandon back to the team was a top priority of ours after the season had ended,” Ainge said. “Brandon has improved as a player every year that he has been in the NBA and we believe that the best is yet to come from him.”
Last season, Bass had the best season of his career, averaging a 12.5 points. He became invaluable to Ainge and Doc Rivers when Jermaine O’Neal went down for the season with a bad wrist. With Kevin Garnett moving to the center position, Bass started nearly every game down the stretch, playing in 59 games, including 39 starts.
“I think I still have a long ways to go,” Bass said. “I’m ready to get back in the gym, and come back a little bit better, [actually] a lot better.”
The funny part of bringing Bass back – presumably to start next season at the big forward spot between Garnett and Paul Pierce – is he might have to win over his family more than he has to convince the Celtics.
“I’ve got big dreams,” he said. “I’m 27 now. Some of my cousins say I’m getting old, but I think I’m still young and I still got big dreams of doing big things in the league. I want to make my imprint on the organization, on a team. I think this is the perfect team.”