|Irish Coffee: Just how bad did Rajon Rondo want out?||12.30.14 at 12:23 pm ET|
Despite his league-leading assists average, former Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo wasn’t the player over the past season we came to know during three trips to the Eastern Conference finals from 2008-12. That much is certain.
Rondo’s true shooting dipped to an alarmingly low level in 2014-15 (career-worst 42.2 percent), and his performance on the other end was no longer all-defensive worthy. As a result, the Celtics proved better both offensively and defensively without him on the court, per Basketball Reference.
While Rondo’s decline at the age of 28 appeared a result of a player once reliant on slicing and scrapping his way into the restricted area still struggling to recover both physical and mentally from a serious knee injury, there have been rumblings in the fortnight since his trade that the regression might have been the result of another factor entirely: Effort.
“He’s always up to stuff when he’s locked in, and I think that’s the guy that Dallas is getting,” Grantland editor-in-chief Bill Simmons told writer Zach Lowe during their podcast last week. “In Boston, he would just give up the ball and just stand there, and I do think they had to trade him. It was too bad that was the way it worked out, not just from what we were seeing from the games, but from what I was hearing. In practice, when you have your guy who’s the unquestioned best guy on the team and the quote unquote ‘leader’ of the team, and he’s just not going hard in practice at all, that puts a coach who is trying to get through to young players in a really bad spot. And I think they knew they had to trade him.”
That’s new information, and while some hearsay can be discarded as the customary smear campaigning from Boston teams in the wake of major trades, Simmons’ sources aren’t the only ones dropping hints.
|Five things we learned in Celtics’ failed comeback against Mavericks||11.03.14 at 11:07 pm ET|
For the second straight game, the Celtics dug themselves a deep early grave and spent the rest of the night trying to climb their way out. This time, though, they nearly pulled a “Kill Bill” and escaped Texas with a victory.
After losing by double digits to the Rockets on Saturday, the Celtics fell behind by 31 in the first half against the Mavericks Monday night only to slice the lead to one in the final minute. But, the C’s couldn’t convert multiple chances to tie the game, ultimately losing 118-113 to the NBA’s highest-rated offense.
Jeff Green scored a game-high 35 points while Avery Bradley added a career-high 32. Rajon Rondo collected seven points, nine rebounds and 15 assists. Marcus Smart added seven points, six boards and three assists in his homecoming, submitting the most impressive effort of his young Celtics career.
Despite becoming the first Celtics teammates to each score 30 points in a game since Rondo and Ray Allen on Rondo’s 23rd birthday five years ago, Bradley and Green both missed the mark on opportunities to tie the game in the final 39 seconds. Fouled on a 3-point attempt, Bradley made two of three free throws to cut the Dallas lead to 114-113 and Green couldn’t convert his sixth 3-pointer of the night with a chance to tie it at 116 in the closing seconds.
|Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter too much for Rajon Rondo, Celtics||02.09.14 at 8:17 pm ET|
Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 points and Vince Carter added 14 off the bench to help the Mavericks pull away for a 102-91 win Sunday night at TD Garden. The loss snapped Boston’s three-game win streak, which was one shy of the four straight at the beginning of the season.
That win streak in November put the Celtics at 4-4. Sunday’s loss dropped Boston to 18-34.
The Celtics were led by Jeff Green with 18 points while Rajon Rondo returned from a night off Friday and scored 15 with 12 assists. Green was rumored to be trade talks between Atlanta and Celtics vice president of basketball operations Danny Ainge while Rondo’s name was again in trade rumors involving the Knicks.
The Celtics could not overcome dreadful shooting Sunday night. They were down just six at the half, 44-38, despite shooting just 27.1 percent (13-of-48) from the floor.
The Mavericks pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Boston 28-18 to take a 72-56 lead into the fourth. Avery Bradley (2-for-13), Jared Sullinger (4-for-13) and Green (6-for-15) highlighted the struggles of the Celtics. Sullinger extended his string of double-doubles to five games with 12 rebounds and 11 points, scoring a basket late in the fourth quarter to keep the streak alive.
Chris Johnson, signed to a multi-year deal on Friday, had a career high 14 off the bench for the Celtics.
Nowitizki had been averaging 28 points a game in his last six games entering Sunday’s contest but Dallas didn’t need him to be spectacular against a Celtics team that couldn’t find its offensive rhythm all night. Nowitzki was 7-for-16 from the field and his his three with 9:23 left in the fourth quarter put Dallas up, 81-58.
Dallas would build the lead to 24 in the fourth before a late Celtics run, sparked by the bench, cut the Mavs’ advantage down to nine, 98-89, with just over a minute left.
The Mavericks, who entered Sunday in the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, are making a push in the highly competitive conference. Sunday’s win on the parquet was their fourth straight and six in their last seven as they improved to 31-21.
The Celtics return to action Monday night in Milwaukee against a Bucks team that is currently leading the NBA Lottery race with a league-worst 9-41 record.
|Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley return for Celtics against Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas Mavericks||at 6:01 pm ET|
Rondo and Bradley both missed Friday’s win over the Kings, which ran Boston’s winning streak to three games, one shy of their season high.
Rondo sat out with general soreness after returning from ACL surgery while Bradley missed the game after twisting his right ankle against the Sixers last Wednesday. With the team traveling to Milwaukee for Monday night’s game, it’s unlikely Rondo will play in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
“That’s an above-me question,” Brad Stevens answered when asked when Rondo might be cleared for such activity. “Our trainers and medical staff and [Rondo will] get together. I would think it would be sooner rather than later, but I don’t know want to project a timeline.”
As for Bradley, he turned his right ankle in only his second game back from a five-game absence due to a sprain of the same ankle.
“I think he just twisted it again on Wednesday,” said Stevens before Sunday’s game. “He was 100 percent when he was playing Sunday and Wednesday, then twisted it or whatever, so it’s almost like, instead of a reoccurring injury, he just injured it again. I don’t think it’s a lingering thing by any means.”
Dirk Nowitzki is averaging 23 points in three games in February and has led Dallas to five wins in their last six games. He scored 38 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the team’s only loss (vs. Houston) in that stretch. How do the Celtics or anyone go about slowing him down?
“Nobody can answer that question with a straight face,” said Stevens. “Don’t know that anybody has, don’t know that anybody can. You have to mix up your matchups. You have to have different people guard him. You have to guard his pick-and-rolls differently. He presents a problem if you guard it in a traditional way, just because he’s a great shooter.
“He’s a great pull-up shooter and he’s probably one of the best two-point long-range shooters in the league — one of the very few guys that’s probably a great great shot for. Yeah, he’s a tough one to guard and he’s really playing at a great level right now, at whatever old he is, what is he 35 years old? He’s not showing signs of that right now.”
Vitor Faverani (knee) will miss his fifth straight game.
|Doc Rivers compares gay NBA player coming out to Jackie Robinson, and other practice notes||04.09.13 at 1:53 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Sometimes movies imitate real life. And sometimes, it’s the other way around.
With news last week that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would welcome an openly gay player on his team and the coming out announcement by Magic Johnson‘s son, the subject has been a topic of discussion.
Doc Rivers was asked before Tuesday’s practice about the potential impact on the NBA if a player came out as openly gay. Rivers drew a comparison to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball and major professional sports in 1947.
“There’ll be a lot of talk about it and then I think it will go away,” Rivers said. “It’s [interesting]. As a team, I took the team to see ’42’ [on Monday]. There was a lot of talk and then all of a sudden, everybody starts playing. And I think the same thing will happen. So, that’s the way I look at it.”
Rivers also said there was much about the movie that reminded him of the ‘Ubuntu’ concept he brought in during the 2008 championship season.
“It was really good. It was fantastic,” Rivers said. “It was a great team message. It’s funny, you think race, but, really, it was more of a team message, when players on the Brooklyn Dodgers accepted Jackie. And a lot of it was because he was their teammate. Actually, one of the guys said that, he said, ‘What do you expect? I’m your teammate.’ And I just thought that was really a cool honor.”
Rivers was asked if his players knew the historical impact and the story behind Robinson’s MLB debut and breaking the color barrier.
“Yeah, I think a lot of players know the history,” Rivers said. “Some may not have, I don’t know that. But I always go by — I thought guys were at their full attention throughout the movie, and engaged, which I thought was really cool.”
Other practice notes:
“Obviously, we have to take care of our position,” Rivers said. “But, for Kevin, rest is always important, and Paul as well. But, other than that, we’ve thought about (resting them), we’ve talked about it.”
“Yeah, that’s a sad, sad thing,” Rivers laughed. “I’m so disappointed in Terry. I mean, getting lost going out to have a drink with me — I can see that. But getting lost going to the ballpark, my gosh. And he lives two blocks away, and he was walking! I didn’t know you could get lost walking. But, I guess you can.”
|Shortfall: Celtics come up short again in loss to Mavericks, Courtney Lee injures left ankle||03.22.13 at 11:12 pm ET|
Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points and Brandan Wright added a team-high 23 – 16 above his season average – as the Dallas Mavericks handed the Celtics their third straight loss, 104-94, Friday night at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Celtics have lost five of seven and three straight for the first time since losing six in a row between Jan. 16-25.
Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass each scored 16 for the Celtics, who fell to 36-31 on the season. Adding to Boston’s misery was a left ankle injury to Courtney Lee, who rolled the ankle late in the fourth quarter. He had to be helped off the court and to the locker room and did not play in the final minute.
In his return to Dallas for the first time since signing with the Celtics as a free agent last summer, Jason Terry was held to eight points on 3-of-9 shooting. The appreciative Dallas crowd gave Terry a standing ovation when he checked into the game for the first time with 3:57 left in the first quarter. His former Mavericks teammates also applauded his returned on the Dallas bench.
The only Celtics player in double figures in the first half was Brandon Bass with 10 points. Boston had no answers for Vince Carter off the Dallas bench. Carter had 12 points in 12 minutes, a big reason the Mavericks were able to take a 55-44 halftime lead.
The Mavericks built their lead to as much as 14 twice in the second quarter.
Jordan Crawford hit a baseline three early in the third quarter and followed that up with a steal and reverse layup with 10:19 left in the fourth to cut Dallas’ lead down to six, 81-75. Crawford hit another tough shot – a baseline fadeaway – to keep the Celtics within six, 83-77, with just over nine minutes left.
But the Celtics couldn’t keep the Mavericks from responding and building the lead back to 11, 94-83, with three minutes left. Pierce hit a straightaway three with 2:59 left to cut the Dallas lead down to eight, 94-86. Green’s layup with 1:51 brought the Celtics within five, 97-92. The Celtics forced a missed shot by Carter but Knight got the rebound and kicked it to Carter, who then found O.J. Mayo, who knocked down the three to push the lead back to eight, 100-92, with 1:21 left.
Mayo then stole a pass on the next Celtics possession as the Celtics lost their third straight.
The road gets no easier on Saturday night, as the Celtics travel to Memphis to battle the Grizzlies. The Celtics return home for a Atlantic Division showdown with the Knicks on Tuesday night at the Garden.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|O.J. Mayo: ‘Would’ve been an honor to play’ for Celtics||12.13.12 at 1:14 am ET|
This past April, Celtics analyst Donny Marshall claimed O.J. Mayo‘s refusal to play for the Celtics led to the collapse of a deal with the Grizzlies that would have brought him to Boston last season in exchange for Ray Allen and a draft pick. “Mayo basically said, ‘I don’t care about banners,'” announced Marshall.
After losing to the Celtics in double overtime on Wednesday, the current Mavericks guard denied that accusation, referencing his lack of veto power without a no-trade clause and affirming he would’ve welcomed the deal to Boston.
“I was in a good situation in Memphis at the time,” said Mayo. “Obviously, Boston is a big-time organization as well. Great players. It would’ve been an honor to play with KG [Kevin Garnett], [Paul] Pierce and [Rajon] Rondo. It would’ve been great to play with those guys and with [Celtics coach] Doc [Rivers].”
Instead, Mayo blamed the deal’s failure on an internal debate between C’s players and the front office over Allen’s future.
“I was pretty much set to come here and something fell through at the very last second,” said Mayo, who collected 24 points (10-19 FG), six rebounds, three assists and two steals in Wednesday night’s loss to the Celtics. “A couple of the guys wanted to keep Ray, and management wanted to make the trade.
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