|NBA Power Rankings, 1/3||01.03.12 at 10:54 pm ET|
With the Celtics, Lakers, Mavericks and Spurs all hovering around .500 through the first two weeks of this shortened season, has the balance of NBA power officially shifted? The way I see it, a team can own any of three distinct advantages after an abbreviated training camp and during a season in which they’re playing every other night: 1) an experienced core; 2) young, athletic talent; and 3) depth. The Celtics own one of those advantages.
In the early going, the power picture remains blurry, so I’m taking a new approach to the rankings: Who would win a seven-game series if they played right now? For example, I’m of the opinion the C’s would lose a playoff series to any of the five teams ranked higher than them and defeat any of the 24 teams ranked lower. Got it? Good.
1. Miami (5-1): The Heat returned an experienced core, possess a ton of talented young athletes and got deeper with the additions of free agent Shane Battier and rookie Norris Cole. There’s a reason Dwyane Wade & Co. are better than 2-to-1 favorites to win the NBA title. This season is so short, LeBron James might not even have time to figure out a new way to choke.
2. Oklahoma City (5-1): The Thunder won five of their first six games, and Russell Westbrook (38.0 FG%, 10.0 3P%) hasn’t even hit his stride yet. They’re incredibly young, incredibly talented and incredibly deep. And they also have Kendrick Perkins. I kid. I kid.
3. Chicago (4-1): Good news: Derrick Rose is still pretty good. Bad news: Rip Hamilton is still pretty old.
4. Dallas (2-4): Without Tyson Chandler holding down the paint, the Mavericks rank 27th in the league in both rebounding and points allowed. Meanwhile, Lamar Odom‘s field goal percentage (19.5%) is almost as bad as his success rate in getting Khloe Kardashian pregnant (too soon?). Yet, the Larry O’Brien trophy remains in Dallas — probably on Mark Cuban‘s pillow, but still.
5. L.A. Lakers (3-3): Even after Andrew Bynum‘s four-game suspension combined with Kobe Bryant‘s wrist injury and a back-to-back-to-back to start the season, the Lakers emerged 3-3. It could be worse. Don’t forget: It’s never a good think when Black Mamba has a chip on his shoulder, and he might lose a cool $75 million for allegedly cheating on his wife Vanessa (who woulda thunk it?). Read the rest of this entry »
|NBA Offseason Review: Southwest Division||12.21.11 at 5:28 pm ET|
Given the drama (and comedy) that was the NBA lockout, the ensuing free agency frenzy and the vetoed trade by a commissioner of a group of owners who was acting as the general manager of an individual team that is owned by that same group of owners, it’s easy to get confused about who landed where. This is the third of six daily division-by-division reviews leading up to opening day.
2010-11 record: 43-39
2010-11 standing: 5th in Southwest Division
NBA draft picks: 14. Marcus Morris; 20. Donatas Motiejunas; 38. Chandler Parsons
Key additions: Samuel Dalembert (free agent); Jonny Flynn (trade); Jeremy Lin (FA)
Key substractions: Yao Ming (retired); Chuck Hayes (free agent); Brad Miller (trade)
2011-12 starters: PG Kyle Lowry; SG Kevin Martin; SF Chase Budinger; PF Luis Scola; C Dalembert
2011-12 wins over/under (sportsbook.com): 34.5
2011-12 prediction: 35-31
2010-11 record: 46-36
2010-11 standing: 4th in Southwest Division; lost Western Conference semifinals to Thunder, 4-3
NBA draft picks: 49. Josh Selby
Key additions: Brian Skinner (free agent); Jeremy Pargo (FA)
Key substractions: Shane Battier (free agent); Leon Powe (FA)
2011-12 starters: PG Mike Conley; SG O.J. Mayo; SF Rudy Gay; PF Zach Randolph; C Marc Gasol
2011-12 wins over/under (sportsbook.com): 36.5
2011-12 prediction: 38-28
|Columnists: Less Kendrick Perkins is a good thing?||05.23.11 at 8:59 am ET|
While many Celtics fans wished Danny Ainge could hit the rewind button on the trade deadline and get more playoff minutes out of Kendrick Perkins, at least two NBA columnists have urged Thunder head coach Scott Brooks to do the exact opposite and give the former C’s center less playing time.
Mavericks center Tyson Chandler is averaging 8.7 points on 60 percent shooting and 12.0 rebounds in 33 minutes a night, leading Dallas to a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals. Meanwhile, Perkins has produced just 5.0 points and 4.7 rebounds in 27 minutes a game.
Here’s Oklahoman columnist Darnell Mayberry’s take on the lopsided matchup:
In Perkins’ 82 minutes of playing time, the Thunder has been outscored by 32 points. With Perk on the bench, the Thunder has outscored the Mavs by 23. Furthermore, with Chandler on the court, Perkins’ plus/minus per 36 minutes is minus-17.7, according to NBA.com’s StatsCube data.
Perkins has the worst plus/minus of any Thunder player in this series.
By comparison, the Mavs have outscored the Thunder by 19 points with Chandler on the court. And Chandler has made his impact mostly against Perkins, compiling a per 36-minute plus/minus of plus-17.7 with Perkins on the court and a minus-15.8 with Perkins on the bench.
And here’s ESPN.com columnist and stats guru John Hollinger’s breakdown:
|What it means to have Nutty Professor Glen Davis back||03.14.11 at 9:12 am ET|
And while it was only a four-games, the Celtics could feel the loss of their nutty professor in their lineup. They beat Golden State and Milwaukee but fell very flat against the Clippers and Sixers. As a matter of fact, one could easily make the argument that he is the single-most important bench player of any of the favored teams to win the NBA title.
The Lakers, Spurs, Mavericks, Bulls and Heat all have star-studded players among their starting five but none of them have Big Baby. He can come off the bench and provide an instant jolt of energy to the reserves and this is precisely why Doc Rivers wants to keep him coming off the bench come April, May and hopefully, June.
But Sunday, it was all about getting acquainted with some players he’d never played with or had just seen in practice. There was no more ‘Shrek-ing’ with Nate Robinson. He has been replaced with Carlos Arroyo. Davis has played just three games with the troika of Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy.
“First half, I felt a little weird a little bit,” Davis said. “I didn’t remember anybody on the team. Nate? Carlos?”
And what about that No. 77, Sasha Pavlovic? Davis was wondering how to pronounce his name, let alone learn his game.
“I knew his name but I couldn’t pronounce it so I didn’t call him anything,” Davis said. “Just, ‘What’s up?’ and ‘hey.'”
Sunday night was clearly an example of shaking off the rust as he played just 18 minutes, going 3-for-6 from the floor with seven rebounds and nine points, with all nine coming in the fourth quarter.
“I saw a guy that needs to run more,” Rivers said. “He did well. He played with a lot of patience offensively and he let the ball come to him instead of hunting it down and that’s how we should play all the time. He just needs the minutes. He was starting to get his legs. I asked him how he felt and he said he felt great, except he can’t feel his lungs anymore.”
He missed a lay-up 90 seconds into the fourth as he had flashbacks to the Heat game on Feb. 13 when he went up on the wrong foot and missed a dunk. This time he missed the layup but 90 seconds later he was pounded by Jon Brockman and finally felt like he was back. More importantly, his knee felt OK with the contact.
“I was kind of trying to feeling it out,” Davis said. “I felt it a little bit more when I missed my first layup I was like, ‘Oh!’ I was trying to jump. I felt it but I didn’t feel it. But then when Brockman hit me, I felt like, ‘OK, you’re back.'”
No one means more to their bench than Glen Davis to the Celtics and here’s why:
First, after Krstic, the Celtics – as Rivers was all too willing to point out – had really no one to play the center position. Read the rest of this entry »
|Jason Kidd might just get another chance at a ring and C’s might get another chance at Mavs||02.05.11 at 10:53 am ET|
Ray Allen and the Celtics weren’t and neither was Kidd, who downplayed it afterward.
“It’s just two good teams playing and you just hope you can find a way to win on the road,” Kidd said. “If this were June, it’s a different story. But it’s only February.”
The Celtics saw history repeat itself as the Mavericks did to them on the road what they were able to do down in the heart of Texas on Nov. 8 – stop the C’s from running their offense down the stretch and execute theirs. The Mavericks won that game, 89-87.
The Celtics were up 87-82 with 1:58 left before the Mavericks ended the game on a 7-0 run.
“We were in the same position at home,” said Kidd. “We were down and we found a way to get some stops and made some big shots at home and that’s what guys were talking about on the bench, that look, we’re in the same position we were at home against the Celtics and we found a way to make some big shots down the stretch.”
None bigger, of course, than Kidd’s dagger with 2.5 seconds remaining. And now, Kidd and the Mavericks could be in the midst of another run at an elusive title. Kidd was with New Jersey when they lost in the 2002 and 2003 NBA finals to the Lakers and Spurs, respectively. The Mavericks were done in by Miami in the 2006 NBA finals.
Another reason is Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 14 of his game-high 29 points in the third quarter. The Celtics had a 95-89 lead with just over three minutes left before Dallas ended the game by scoring the last 10 points and holding Boston scoreless on its home court for the final 2:43.
Tyson Chandler could very well be a missing link that 2006 team didn’t have. He was huge inside for the Mavs, who improved to 34-15 on the season. The big man finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds as the Mavericks swept the season series.
“You’ve got so many players that have been through it on this team, and been in that moment that any time any of those guys can step up,” Chandler said. “Jet [Jason Terry] has hit game-winners, Dirk has hit game- winners, Jason Kidd has hit game-winners. We’ve got options to go to down the stretch.”
The Celtics know all about options and could easily be seeing the Mavs again come June. Then, Kidd can talk even more about big games.
|Ray Allen knows Jason Kidd isn’t bad from three, either||at 10:00 am ET|
There was a great deal of irony in the game-winning 3-point shot delivered by Jason Kidd with 2.5 seconds remaining, a shot that highlighted a stunning Mavericks’ comeback in a 101-97 win over the Celtics Friday night at TD Garden. The shot was made by the man ranked third on the all-time 3-point field goal list and it came with Ray Allen, No. 2 on that list, guarding him.
“Very underrated Jason Kidd is with shooting the three but he’s proven over his career he’s proven he can knock the 3-ball down,” Allen said. “The only way he has been able to stay around as long as he has was to develop a jump shot. It was in form today and beat us today.”
Kidd, who finished with a pair of threes, now has 1,742 in his career, a mere 813 shy of Allen on the all-time list.
Allen hit three treys and now has 2,555, just six shy of passing Reggie Miller for the all-time NBA record. And Allen admitted afterward that he’s actually enjoying the chase as it nears its end.
“Actually, I truly am enjoying it. This is a moment I’ve never experienced before. I don’t know how many people can experience this type of moment. We’re playing a team sport but there’s an individual element associated with me right now. As much as I’ve always been associated with team, it’s something that everybody keeps pointing at me that you’ve got to keep doing that.
“It’s always a testimony to the guys that can stay around a long time, 20,000 points, however many minutes, whatever it may be but longevity produces greatness at some point.”
But Celtics coach Doc Rivers was forced to talk about Kidd’s greatness after Friday night’s contest, that and his team’s inability to defend the three.
“That one stood out obviously but I thought we gave up way too many,” Rivers said. “I thought offensively we played well, we shot 50 percent. I just thought defensively we broke a lot of our defensive rules. I thought we played hard, but I thought we tried to cheat a lot defensively as a team, you know gambles, and they made us pay for every one of them.’
Dallas finished just under 50 percent from 3-point range, making 8-of-17 in recording their seventh straight win.
|Delonte West shows TD Garden crowd he’s getting closer||02.04.11 at 7:32 pm ET|
Delonte West keeps progressing in his attempt to return from a broken right wrist. One day after he went through a full shootaround and skeleton practice with the Celtics on Thursday at their practice facility, he warmed up on the TD Garden floor, showing everyone he can catch with his right hand and shoot with his left.
“He didn’t practice,” coach Doc Rivers said on Thursday. “He just did the shootaround and the shooting and that’s about it.”
But Rivers acknowledged it was significant that West could take part in catch-and-shooting drills without any protection whatsoever on his wrist, broken on Nov. 24 in home game vs. New Jersey.
“That’s nice. He did run through all of our skeleton stuff so obviously, the next step will be him going through a practice,” said Rivers before adding that there is still no specific timetable for West to return to game action. “I have no idea. No time soon I don’t think but I’m not sure.”
Meanwhile, with Shaquille O’Neal out Friday and likely Sunday vs. the Magic, Kendrick Perkins was thrust into the starting lineup on Friday against the Mavericks, a little sooner than the All-Star break timetable Rivers orginally expected.
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