|NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Cincinnati F Yancy Gates||06.12.12 at 5:21 am ET|
As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.
Position: Power forward/center
Weight: 287 pounds
Achievements: Only player in school history to lead team in rebounding for four consecutive seasons, Big East All-Tournament team (2012), Big East All-Rookie team (2009)
Key 2011-12 stats: 12.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, 32.0 minutes
What he brings: Gates is a bruiser down low, and he proved to be one of the better rebounders in the Big East and the country. He noticeably improved his offensive rebounding ability, as he grabbed 3.2 per game last season. His combination of strength, size and good hands make him a valuable asset underneath the basket.
Gates possesses a solid post presence and has good footwork and an array of moves for a big man, but he’ll need to improve his shooting percentage at the next level. Offensively, Gates is a one-dimensional player who plays mostly under the basket. He only made 31 percent of his jump shots this season, according to Synergy, and he’ll have to work on jump shooting mechanics if he wants to develop into a capable shooter in the NBA.
Defensively, Gates is mobile and is able to deny his man and force him into difficult shots. For his size, he does a good job of fronting and contesting shots, which is clear from the fact that his foul rate improved each season at Cincinnati.
Gates’ rebounding ability would be a welcome sight for a Celtics team that ranked last in the NBA in that category in 2011-12. The C’s frontcourt was thin all season long, and with Kevin Garnett approaching the end of his career, a rebounding big man of Gates’ caliber will be sorely needed in the years to come.
Where the Celtics could get him: Gates is considered a second-round possibility who might not get drafted at all.
Notes: The character of Gates will be an area that will be heavily criticized leading up to the draft. In December, he was suspended six games for throwing punches in a bench-clearing brawl against rival Xavier, and he also was suspended in 2011 for mouthing off to an assistant during practice. In both instances, Gates returned and delivered strong late-season performances for the Bearcats, but his character undoubtedly will be monitored at the next level.
Video: Here’s a highlight reel of Gates during his first two seasons at Cincinnati.
|Doris Burke on D&C: Expect Chris Bosh to play||06.05.12 at 10:36 am ET|
Appearing on the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning, ESPN basketball analyst Doris Burke addressed the controversy stemming from her halftime interview with Rajon Rondo in which the Celtics point guard said Heat players were “complaining and crying to referees in transition” during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday.
“To me, it was first of all, shocking that he would say that. It’s the kind of response you rarely get,” Burke said.
Following the game, Burke asked Rondo if he expected any reprecussions from what he said at halftime, to which he said he didn’t take back what he said. But after that interview was over, cameras revealed Burke and Rondo talking to each other, a conversation that appeared to be a misunderstanding between the two. Burke revealed the conversation on the air and what she thought was going on.
“If you recall how I ended the interview, I said – and this really wasn’t my place, I wasn’t in the analyst’s role, but it just popped into my head – I said, ‘Your play backed you up.’ It was sort of a gratuitious comment, frankly, in the position I was in, but it just popped into my head,” Burke recalled. “And I don’t think he heard me. I think he heard me say, ‘Back you up,’ and whether he thought I was referencing his teammates maybe in the next game because of the kind of response that comment might illicit, I don’t know.
“I think he turned around to ask me sort of, ‘What did you say?’ and there was a point at which I sort of just grabbed his arm and I said, ‘This is what I said,’ he said, ‘What?’ and I repeated it.”
|National view: Officiating is center of debate again in Celtics’ loss||05.31.12 at 4:18 pm ET|
One game after the officiating was a hot topic of debate for five questionable technical fouls called on the Celtics in their Game 1 loss to the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, Wednesday’s Game 2 was filled with controversy caused by missed calls and free throw disparities.
The biggest missed call in question occurred in overtime. With under two minutes remaining and the game tied at 105-105, Rajon Rondo drove the lane and went up for a layup, but was knocked in the head by Dwyane Wade.
The referees didn’t blow their whistles and missed the call as Rondo sat on the floor holding his head. The Heat quickly took advantage, converted a dunk on the other end and never looked back as momentum completely swung to their side and they secured the win.
“I don’t know how you miss that one,” ESPN basketball analyst Tim Legler said. “There has to be an official on the baseline. You have a guy driving to the rim, you know that you’re anticipating contact as an official. [When] you get raked across the eye on a layup, it has to be called. It’s that simple. They missed it.”
CBSSports.com NBA blogger Royce Young also chimed in on the play. While he agreed that it was a clear missed call, he was also defensive of the officials.
“Referees miss calls. It happens,” Young wrote. “Nobody wants to hear that and it certainly doesn’t give Boston two points, but in the flow of an NBA game, something that moves really, really fast, sometimes an official doesn’t get it right.
“It’s not like they don’t want to. It’s not like they were thinking, ‘Eh, it’s Wade. Let it go.’ They want to do their job perfectly. It just doesn’t happen.”
Even Brian Windhorst, the Heat beat writer for ESPN.com, was critical of the missed call. He took to Twitter moments after Wade converted on a 3-point play to give the Heat a five-point lead.
“Great play by Wade but I’m feeling a little sick about that missed foul on Rondo. And I’m a staunch defender of officials as followers know,” Windhorst tweeted.
|On 25th anniversary, looking back at Larry Bird’s famous steal vs. Pistons||05.25.12 at 10:37 am ET|
Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of not only one of the greatest plays in Boston sports history, but one of the most memorable moments in NBA history.
In Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference finals at the Boston Garden against the Pistons, Celtics forward Larry Bird added on to his legend, turning an almost sure defeat in a pivotal game into a stunning victory in the matter of seconds.
With the C’s trailing by a point in the closing seconds, Bird drove the lane and had his shot blocked by Dennis Rodman. With the ball heading out of bounds, Celtics guard Jerry Sichting tried to save it, but it was knocked off his body and the Pistons received possession, setting up the theatrics. With five seconds left, Isiah Thomas hurriedly tried to inbound the ball and lobbed a pass to Bill Laimbeer, who was standing on the baseline near the Celtics basket.
What Thomas didn’t see was Bird, who timed the pass perfectly and flew in from his position at the top of the key to steal the ball, a remarkable play that gave the Celtics sudden life with the final seconds winding down.
“Isiah’s pass just hung up there,” Bird recalled in a 2009 ESPN story about the play. “It seemed to take forever to get to Laimbeer. [After stealing the pass], I was thinking about shooting, but the ball was going the other way and so was my momentum.”
Narrowly avoiding falling out of bounds, Bird found Dennis Johnson streaking down the lane and sent him the pass. Johnson grabbed it and without hesitation laid the ball off the backboard and in as the Celtics took an improbable 108-107 lead with one second left.
|Mike Gorman on D&C: ‘I’ve never been around a more unpredictable team’||05.22.12 at 10:20 am ET|
Longtime Celtics broadcaster Mike Gorman joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to discuss the latest on the Celtics in the wake of their Game 5 victory over the 76ers Monday night.
The personality of the Celtics has been a hot topic of discussion this postseason — mainly their inconsistency. Gorman has been left perplexed and couldn’t offer a concrete answer to the team’s unpredictability.
“I’ve never been around a more unpredictable team. I have no idea what they’re going to do from one quarter to another let alone what they’re going to do from one game to another,” Gorman said, adding: “In the 30-plus years that I’ve been [broadcasting], I’m as perplexed by this team as I’ve been by any in terms of how I think they’re going to play.
“They could go into Philly tomorrow night and win by 18 or lose by 18, and neither one would surprise me.”
One game after a Game 4 collapse in which they blew an 18-point lead, the Celtics seemed to start out flat in the first half before kicking into gear in the second half and ultimately blowing out the 76ers behind a standout performance from Brandon Bass.
“The Celtics were flat last night, I don’t there’s any question about that,” Gorman said. “I sent a text to Doc [Rivers] when I was driving home last night saying, ‘I don’t know what the hell you said at halftime, but you have to save that.’ And he sent me back, ‘I’m not sure what I said either, but it worked.’
“That’s been a problem with this team all year long and will continue to be a problem. They’re capable of beating anybody or losing to anybody on a given night.”
|Down the stretch: How the Hawks and Celtics schedules play out||04.15.12 at 10:07 am ET|
It’s looking more and more likely that the Celtics will play Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs.
With the C’s closing in on the Atlantic Division title, they are guaranteed to be no lower than the fourth seed. The Hawks, meanwhile, have a one-game lead on Orlando for fifth and the Magic will be without center Dwight Howard for the next 10-14 days with a herniated disk in his back.
Entering play on Sunday, the Celtics (35-25) are a game back of Atlanta (35-24) in the loss column, thanks to their brutal loss to Toronto on Friday night. If the Hawks finish with a better record, they would get homecourt advantage in the first round. If the two teams are tied, the Celtics would own the tiebeaker by virtue of their winning the Atlantic Division.
With that in mind, here’s how their respective schedules play out:
Sunday: At Charlotte
Tuesday: At New York
Friday: At Atlanta
Tue. April 24: Miami
Thur. April 26: Milwaukee
Monday: At Toronto
Sunday: New York
Tue. April 24: Clippers
Thur. April 26 Dallas
Two things stand out. One, the Hawks play six of their seven games at home where they are 19-8. Second, this Friday’s game in Atlanta is shaping up to be extremely important. The Celtics have won both meetings this season but only by a total of five points.
|Fast Break: Celtics send Blazers to R.I.P City||03.09.12 at 9:48 pm ET|
After getting blown out by Philadelphia on Wednesday, the Celtics needed some momentum heading into their eight-game road trip. Fortunately, the Trail Blazers were in town and they brought their considerable baggage to the floor with them.
It was uncomfortable watching a team so completely unravel, but the Celtics weren’t complaining after taking a 35-point halftime lead in a 104-86. Portland had 16 turnovers in the first half, forced only two and watched time and again as various Celtics flew down the lane for layups and dunks.
The Celtics will start an eight-game road trip in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Sunday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Not settling: It wasn’t clear immediately that the Blazers were in full ship be sinking mode, but the Celtics didn’t waste any time finding out. Rajon Rondo and Pierce attacked the rim right from the start and once they realized Portland wasn’t going to put up a fight, it was open season on the basket.
Sasha Pavlovic has the cure for the second quarter blues: The veteran swingman hit a 3 on the team’s first possession and then got fouled on a breakaway layup. Pavlovic scored eight points in the quarter and the Celtics scored 18 of the first 20 points. It was 45-19 after six minutes and 38-13 for the quarter.
Save those legs: Kevin Garnett made all five of his shots and played just 20 minutes. Allen, Pierce and Rondo clocked in with just 26 apiece. They needed that.
Bench production: Avery Bradley scored 10 points and had five assists. Greg Stiemsma missed all nine shots he took, but he had seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Pavlovic added 10 points and it was the bench’s best performance in weeks, even without Mickael Pietrus (knee) and Chris Wilcox (personal reasons).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Injuries, again: Pietrus has struggled with his shot lately, but coach Doc Rivers revealed before the game that his problems are related to a knee injury. Pietrus tried to play through it on Wednesday against Philly and Rivers acknowledged before Friday’s game that he would have liked to have had that back. The hope is that Pietrus will be available for Sunday’s game against the Lakers, but that’s far from given.
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