|Five best Celtics draft day moves of Danny Ainge era||06.27.12 at 7:05 pm ET|
When he was hired as Celtics president of basketball operations in 2003, Danny Ainge was asked to bring the team back to its glory days from when he was a player on the team in the 1980s.
It may have taken a few years to fit the right pieces together, but it’s hard to argue Ainge’s success in his nine-year tenure as president. He’s made some questionable decisions, but he’s also responsible for bringing the Celtics their first championship in over two decades. With the NBA draft taking place Thursday night, here’s a look at five of Ainge’s best draft day moves.
5. Kendrick Perkins, 27th pick, 2003 ‘ In the same deal that brought Boston one of its most disappointing acquisitions of the Ainge era in Marcus Banks, the Celtics also acquired Perkins, who proved to be one of the Celtics’ most valuable additions of the Ainge era. After barely getting playing time during his rookie season, he slowly moved into the rotation and developed into a dominant defensive center who repeatedly shut down the league’s best big men.
After Mark Blount was traded in 2006, Perkins became the regular starting center for the Celtics. He went on to start 78 games in 2007-08 and was a big contributor to the championship team that season. He was such a key contributor that in 2010, when the Celtics reached the NBA finals again, his inactivity in Game 7 after tearing his MCL and PCL in Game 6 has been argued to be the reason why the Celtics didn’t win their second championship in three seasons.
Where is he now?: Perkins was traded to the Thunder in 2011 in what is considered to be a questionable move by Ainge. Perkins signed a multi-year extension with Oklahoma City and this month made an NBA finals appearance against the Heat.
|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.
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