|JaJuan Johnson makes the most of his opportunity||02.02.12 at 1:33 am ET|
After the Celtics’ 100-64 thrashing of the Raptors Wednesday night, Mickael Pietrus directed the media to JaJuan Johnson‘s locker. “He’s ready for you guys,” Pietrus said. The reticent Johnson nervously laughed.
“This is only one game,” said Johnson. “It’s definitely good for me personally to have a game like this. I definitely want to be a contributor to this team.”
Johnson had been used only sparingly this season, seeing a grand total of 28 minutes going into Wednesday night’s game. In those brief stints Johnson has shown flashes of why the Celtics took him in the first round of the draft. However, the most amount of time he had logged in a game was just over 5 1/2 minutes.
“Like I told someone earlier, you just have to see the bigger picture,” Johnson said. “I understand my time will come. You have to be ready at all times, and that’s what I try to do.”
|Camp notes: Paul Pierce may not be ready for opening day||12.20.11 at 4:13 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Paul Pierce has participated in just one practice during training camp because of a right heel bruise and with opening day quickly approaching, Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledged that Pierce may not be ready to play when the regular season opens on Christmas Day against the Knicks.
“I’m concerned not long-term, but I’m concerned short-term,” Rivers said. “We have those two games right off the bat and he’s gone one practice and that’s basically it. So, yeah I’m concerned about it.”
Pierce worked out on Monday while the rest of the team had the day off. Rivers said that his heel was “extremely sore” on Tuesday.
“We just want him to rest,” Rivers said. “The problem with that is, it will be a lot of rest and then he may be ready but with no [practice time], that’s scary and if he’s not, he’s not.”
Pierce won’t play in Wednesday’s final exhibition game against the Raptors and the plan right now is for him to try and test it again on Friday.
The good news for the Celtics is that Sasha Pavlovic (left wrist) did practice on Tuesday and if he’s able to play, Rivers will have two veteran small forwards with Marquis Daniels and Pavlovic.
JAJUAN JOHNSON PASSES THE TEST
Kevin Garnett has a well-deserved reputation for being hard on young players, but the flip side of that is if the player responds positively to Garnett then there’s nothing he won’t do for him. Rookie big man JaJuan Johnson has apparently received that message.
“Kevin has clearly taken JaJuan under his wing,” Rivers said. “You guys have been around here with Kevin, he gives you the one shot and if he feels you’re paying attention he spends the year with him. JaJuan has obviously passed the test, which is good for everyone because it makes it a bad year for that guy.”
Johnson played just seven minutes on Sunday against Toronto, an indication that he has a long way to go to crack the big man rotation that features Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal, Chris Wilcox and Brandon Bass. But Johnson has still impressed with his shooting ability and maturity.
|Fast Break: Celtics hold on to beat Raptors||12.18.11 at 3:32 pm ET|
With only two preseason games and the start of the season just week away, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he would give his starters and his top rotation players significant time in their exhibition game against the Raptors and the coach was as good as his word.
Even without Paul Pierce (right heel) and Sasha Pavlovic (left wrist), Rivers used just 10 players in the first half and the Celtics coach didn’t go deep into his bench until the fourth quarter. It wasn’t a coincidence that the Celtics blew a 10-point lead in the final quarter, but held on for a 76-75 victory in Toronto.
Here’s the good and the bad:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
– Marquis Daniels started for Pierce and played well. He’s one of the team’s better post-up options and he remains a good cutter who helps facilitate the team’s offense with his movement off the ball. With Jeff Green out for the season, Daniels has become an important reserve. He’ll get most of the time behind Pierce and also play some off-guard for the Celtics as well. He came into camp in terrific shape and said that he’s stronger than he was before undergoing surgery for a spinal condition.
– Rivers called center Jermaine O’Neal the MVP of the first week of camp and at times he was the best player on the floor for the Celtics. O’Neal said that he feels more comfortable offensively and understands where he needs to be to contribute. Defensively, his shot-blocking presence is invaluable for a team with a shortage of big men.
– Brandon Bass continues to impress with a diverse offensive game. He hit jumpers coming off down screens and in isolation and ran the floor with Rajon Rondo for a sweet dunk in transition. Bass is the best offensive weapon the Celtics have had coming off the bench in years.
– The Celtics were the worst offensive rebounding team in the league by a wide margin last season. That should change with Bass and Chris Wilcox on board. Both are energy players with athleticism and timing and they weren’t afraid to crash the boards.
– E’Twuan Moore drained a couple of late jumpers, showing again why the team is so high on their second-round pick.
WHAT WENT WRONG
– The hope is that Pierce can return to practice this week, but until he returns the Celtics are dangerously thin at the small forward spot. The Celtics insist that there’s noting to worry about with Pierce, but any time one of their core players misses this much time it’s a concern.
– Without much depth at small forward, Rivers used a number of three-guard lineups with Keyon Dooling, Avery Bradley, Moore, Ray Allen and Rondo. They were successful in speeding up the tempo of the game, something that has been an emphasis throughout camp, but struggled to score without Allen or Rondo in the game.
Shot creation will be something to watch all season from the reserves. The Celtics struggled mightily in that regard last season and while Dooling, Bass and Wilcox are an offensive upgrade, none of them excels at creating his own offense.
– Rookie JaJuan Johnson did not see the court until the fourth quarter, an indication that he has work to do to see some playing time. Rivers has said that Johnson has been up and down throughout camp, which is to be expected for a rookie. The team loves his outside shot and athleticism. He’ll get his chances during the season.
|Irish Coffee: JaJuan Johnson ‘working out on his body’||11.10.11 at 2:33 pm ET|
Any time the Celtics’ first-round draft pick gets awkwardly interviewed by a hot chick, it’s Irish Coffee’s duty and honor to relay the conversation. That’s precisely what happened when BallersBlock.net’s Zuri Hall conducted a locker room interview with JaJuan Johnson.
Zuri Hall: What does it feel like with the NBA lockout kind of looming? You haven’t even be able to experience that rookie season yet. Are you getting advice from vets, like how are you feeling right now?
JaJuan Johnson: You have a lot of uncertainties, really, just because you really don’t know too much about what’s going on. I’ve never been through it yet, but all I can really do is work out and listen to the older guys. All they’re doing is just working out, too, so I’m just following their steps.
ZH: Now, have you entertained the idea of going overseas? What are your thoughts on guys who are thinking about that?
JJ: I think it’s just on that person. Me, personally, I really want to work out on my body and just get bigger and stronger. So, my focus is just in the weight room and on my game, but I can see why obviously people want to play overseas — for financial reasons or whatever it can be — but that’s just my focus.
ZH: Ok, I’ve got a few fun questions for you. I’m not going to ask all the hard questions. All right, here’s one: Hypothetically — it doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, babies, none — it’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals, your wife goes into early labor with her first-born, where do you go — the game or the hospital?
JJ: You gotta go to the hospital. You’ve got to. I might try to leave real soon. As soon as it’s delivered, we gotta head out to the game.
ZH: Good answer. It was a trick question. You had to say the hospital. Ok, I have a few either/ors: love or money?
JJ: Oooh [rubs his chin]. Oh, God [smiles]. Naw, love, I’m just playing [laughs].
|Irish Coffee: Six Celtics actually play basketball||10.24.11 at 1:02 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Celtics restricted free agent Jeff Green played with the big boys, and won.
A fixture in exhibition games hosted by NBA stars during the lockout, Green helped former Thunder teammate Kevin Durant as well as LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jamal Crawford and former Boston College standout Reggie Jackson win the U.S. Fleet Tracking Basketball Invitational in Oklahoma City on Sunday night.
Green totaled 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists in 48 minutes of a 176-171 overtime victory against the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Michael Beasley, Damien Wilkins, James Harden and Jonny Flynn. Beasley (51), Anthony (43), Durant (42) and James (40) all eclipsed 40 points.
“You put guys like that on the court, you are going to do whatever it takes,” Green told reporters after the game. “It was fun at the beginning, then it got serious at the end. It’s great to play these type of games, but we do want to get the season started.”
Green was one of six current or recent Celtics who actually played competitive basketball over the weekend. Here’s a rundown of the other five … Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: Top 5 plays by Celtics during NBA lockout||10.21.11 at 2:49 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
The latest news from collective bargaining negotiations between NBA owners and players isn’t good. Media members can’t decide whether Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck is among owners who actually want a season or ones sustaining the lockout. Either way, the biggest losers in all of this are NBA fans. This list of top of Top 5 plays by Celtics during the NBA lockout goes out to us losers (wait, what?):
5. Glen “Big Baby” Davis seemingly losing to a fourth-grader at the IMG Basketball Academy
|What can Celtics expect from JaJuan Johnson?||07.19.11 at 6:11 pm ET|
If, like me, your first thought after the Celtics drafted JaJuan Johnson was, “Well, at least they got someone who could contribute right away,” then think again.
The C’s picked the 6-foot-10, 220-pound four-year collegiate power forward with the No. 25 pick in the first round of the 2011 NBA draft. In the five previous drafts, ever since the NBA banned high school players from joining the league until age 19 or one year after the graduation of their high school class, exactly 30 four-year college players have been drafted in the first round.
- Of those 30 players, seven were either power forwards or centers like Johnson.
- Of those seven players, four lasted past the lottery.
- Of those four players, three played more than 10 games.
- Of those three players, two averaged more than three points as rookies.
- Of those two players, one measured under 7 feet, 2 inches tall: Trevor Booker.
It could be better (Roy Hibbert) or worse (DeMarre Carroll) than the 6-foot-7, 240-pound Booker, the No. 23 pick by the Wizards (via the Timberwolves) in 2010. To get an idea of what the Celtics should expect from their first-round pick if and when the 2011-12 season begins — and beyond – here’s how the seven other four-year collegiate big men have fared since 2006 …