|Celtics Choice: Al Horford vs. DeMar DeRozan||06.02.16 at 11:14 am ET|
In the days leading up to June’s NBA draft, we examine what the Celtics could do with the No. 3 overall pick and how they should approach this pivotal offseason. In that spirit, we present “Celtics choice.”
Today: Signing free agent big man Al Horford of the Hawks, or targeting free agent scorer DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors
The case for Horford
Did you watch the playoffs? The Hawks dominated the Celtics inside and even though he didn’t have a great statistical series, Horford was a big reason why. He’ll never be the focal point of an offense, but he does many things well that the Celtics value, especially on defense, where he’s capable of checking shooters on the perimeter on pick-and-rolls before retreating to defend the rim. He’d also provide a legitimate post presence and he’s an excellent inside-out passer. He’s a four-time All-Star for a reason and he’s selfless, which fits the Celtics’ model perfectly. He’d probably be good for 15-8-3 a night, conservatively, and he’s considered a winning player. If you’ve ever wondered what he’d look like in a Celtics uniform, an NBA2K16 player made that trade in the video below.
The case against Horford
He turns 30 on Friday and at times it looks like an old 30. He has suffered tears of each pectoral muscle during his career, limiting him to 11 games in 2011-12 and 29 games two years later, though he played all 82 this season. There’s also the philosophical matter of giving a max contract to a player on the wrong side of 30 who doesn’t exactly fill up the scoresheet. In a vacuum, any team would take Horford. But considering the money it will take to sign him, it’s hard to argue he’s worth it, particularly since the Celtics are looking to add an A-1 option to slot ahead of Isaiah Thomas. Horford isn’t that guy … unless he’d somehow get them Kevin Durant.
The case for DeRozan
The Celtics need scoring, and that’s basically all DeRozan has done since arriving out of USC with the No. 9 pick in the 2009 draft. He averaged a career-high 23.5 points a game this season and led the Raptors to their first Eastern Conference Finals, where they managed to deal the mighty Cavaliers their only two losses of the postseason. DeRozan is a classic scoring wing, with an excellent turnaround game in the post and the ability to get to the rim or get fouled almost at will. The majority of his points come from within 12 feet, but points are points. He finished second in the NBA in free throws made (555) and third in attempts (653), good for a career-high 85 percent from the line. He’s also a solid perimeter defender who doesn’t turn 27 until August. There’s the added bonus that signing him would rob a division rival of its best player. He’s a two-time All-Star.
|Stud and Duds: DeRozan’s 34 points leads Raptors past Celtics||01.20.16 at 10:30 pm ET|
After the Raptors opened up a 13-point lead in the first half, Celtics coach Brad Stevens turned to his bench, but it wasn’t enough to counter DeMar DeRozan who scored 22 second-half points en route to a 115-109 Rapors victory.
The Celtics closed the first half on a 10-2 run and took a 62-56 lead into halftime. Led by Kelly Olynyk’s 18 points, the Celtics bench combined for 47 points. Yet, DeRozan erupted for 18 third-quarter points and set the tone offensively for the Raptors as they outscored the Celtics 40-28 before heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final frame, the Raptors led by four points when Isaiah Thomas committed a costly turnover on an inbound play out of a timeout with 41 seconds left. The Celtics were able to regain possession but Avery Bradley‘s missed 3-pointer with 14.8 seconds left, sealed the Raptors win. It was the fifth missed 3-pointer of the quarter and further prevented the Celtics from having a chance to regain the lead that they saw slip away after halftime.
The Raptors did an excellent job of getting to the hoop while knocking down good looks from the perimeter — they outscored the Celtics 54-38 in the paint and shot 55.4 percent on 46-of-83 shooting. Although the Celtics shot 50.6 percent from the floor, it wasn’t enough to impede DeRozan’s second-half scoring outburst. The Raptors never led by more than six points in the fourth quarter but were able to pull away in the final minutes.
Isaiah Thomas‘ (21 points, 10 assists) double-double led the Celtics and Avery Bradley finished the night with 19 points. DeMar DeRozan (34 points) shot 52 percent on 13-25 shooting to lead the Raptors and Jonas Valanciunas (19 points, 12 rebounds) notched a double-double.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan gave the Celtics one of the best individual performances they’ve seen from an opponent this season and did it in a number of different ways. He drove the ball to the hoop, stroked it from the mid-range, got to the free-throw line (8-of-9) and lit up the C’s — scoring 30 points in three quarters. Who does that? Not a lot of players in the NBA do. DeMar was ridiculous. He finished the night with 34 points and six assists.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Jared Sullinger.
Sullinger had an ugly outing up in Toronto. He couldn’t find his offense and was bullied in the paint by Jonas Valanciuas and Luis Scola. Sullinger went scoreless on 1-for-7 shooting, committed two turnovers and was a team-low minus-19 on the night.
VINE OF THE NIGHT: #Stud
WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Three-point shooting
The Raptors entered the game as one of the league’s worst teams in defending 3-pointers and it showed. Celtics shot 46.2 percent from deep on 12-of-26 shooting but needed a few more down the stretch when they counted most. The Celtics utilized their 3-point shooting throughout the game to keep themselves within striking distance but couldn’t hit the big ones at the end of the fourth. As the saying goes: “You live and die by the 3,” well the C’s lived by it for 36 minutes as the 3-ball certainly kept them close up until the last quarter where they went 1-for-6 and ultimately suffered their second straight loss.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: 54 points in the paint
The Celtics have to do a better job at defending the post. In a game where Jared Sullinger only played 12 minutes, the Celtics had no other big men to count on for interior defense. Amir Johnson and Tyler Zeller struggled to keep up with Jonas Valanciunas (19) and Luis Scola (18 points) nor could they get stops against Toronto’s perimeter players as they were able to get to the hoop with little resistance.
@ OF THE NIGHT:
DeRozan is a superstar. Damn.
‘ Justin Condo (@JustinCondo) January 21, 2016
|Raptors view Celtics as threat in Atlantic Division||11.06.14 at 9:40 am ET|
The Raptors flipped a 34-48 record and a last-place finish in the Atlantic Division in 2012-13 to a 48-34 ledger and a division crown in the third year of the Dwane Casey coaching era last year. With headstrong 28-year-old point guard Kyle Lowry and burgeoning young shooting guard DeMar DeRozan in the fold, they cemented themselves as the Atlantic favorites for years to come.
The Celtics are hoping to replicate Toronto’s turnaround behind their own headstrong 28-year-old point guard Rajon Rondo and burgeoning young shooting guard Avery Bradley in the second year of coach Brad Stevens‘ tenure.
The Raptors are recognizing their effort.
“They’re definitely very talented,” DeRozan said after scoring 23 points on 25 shots in a 110-107 win in Boston. “They’ve got a great coach. They’ve got a hell of a point guard in Rondo. They’re still learning and still growing. You’ve got a talented kid in [Marcus] Smart, so they definitely have a chance and we definitely have to look for them, especially in our division.”
Including the preseason, the Celtics and Raptors have faced each other three times, twice battling to the final possession. The C’s outplayed Toronto in almost every facet of Wednesday’s game — shooting 51.3 percent from the field, grabbing 31 more rebounds and leading by as many as 16 points — but committed 28 turnovers, most of which were unforced.
When asked if he viewed the Celtics as a threat in the Atlantic Division, Lowry didn’t hesitate.
“Yeah,” he said, even after dropping 35 points on 17 shots on their backcourt. “The way they play, they play so hard, man. You just have to tip your hat to how they play. They’re well coached, and they have some talented young pieces. They’ve got an NBA champion over there, so they’ve got some pieces and players who know how to get the job done.”
|DeMar DeRozan: ‘Kevin Garnett’s got a dirty mouth’||08.23.11 at 4:43 pm ET|
The matchup between the Goodman League and Drew League over this past weekend finally gave basketball fans a chance to watch a few NBA stars actually competing against each other, and what would a weekend of basketball be without at least some mention of Kevin Garnett and his dirty mouth.
The news that Garnett might swear once or twice or 10,000 times per game should come as no surprise to anybody that’s been watching the Celtics over the past four seasons. I’m sure you’ll recall his involvement in the Charlie Villanueva “cancer patient” incident or the Channing Frye nut tap fiasco.
The latest comes from Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan — likely a nobody in KG’s eyes — who sat down with The Basketball Jones blogger Holly MacKenzie after his contributions to the Drew League. Here’s the exchange involving Garnett, which also features his nod to Kobe Bryant as the game’s greatest competitor:
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