|Brad Stevens knows road success depends on C’s finding ‘outstanding’ defense||11.15.13 at 8:38 pm ET|
As the Celtics embark on a four game/six night stretch, Brad Stevens is looking forward to the opportunity to see some of the Western Conference’s elite clubs. He is fully aware that his team will need to extremely sharp on the defensive end to keep their head above water against this type of elite type of competition.
“We’re going to have to be outstanding on the defensive end to have a chance to win these games,” said Stevens. “There’s no question about it. It’s one of those deals where you’re playing teams that you’ve got to play well against to have a chance to win. Defensively, every detail matters, every effort play matters, everything adds up.”
The Portland TrailBlazers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets, and San Antonio Spurs all present a multitude of challenges, yet the one consistent is an explosive guard and a dominating presence inside the post. Portland’s Damian Lillard/LaMarcus Aldridge precedes Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, and the beat goes on in Texas with the likes of James Harden, Dwight Howard, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan.
“I watched a few of our preseason games,” Stevens said, “just to kind of get a gauge of if they’re improving at the rate we’d like them to, and they’ve improved quite a bit defensively. Offensively, we’ve had our moments. I think we’ve improved, maybe more so, just because of our shifts and rotations. We still have a long way to go. We’re getting a lot better on the basketball. We were a lot better at defending the paint, even though we got back cut a few times in the first half [against Charlotte]. We’ve been good all year defending the 3-point line, knock on wood, so I think it’s one of those deals where we’ve got some strengths to us. But we’ve got to foul less and we’ve got to make sure we’re as good defending the post as we possibly can.”
Without Rajon Rondo, the Celtics lack a true NBA superstar yet still present a balanced team. The roster is full of capable players at the offensive end, so when the C’s move the ball, they can get a lot of people involved.
In order to be successful in this upcoming trip, they will need to continue to play hard defensively, remaining active on the ball and creating steals. Without a true point guard, the Celtics understand the value of scoring in transition. The biggest surprise this season is the team’s ability to move the basketball on offense. Stevens has this team moving the ball from side-to-side and playing an enjoyable brand of team basketball. Any time a team that moves the ball, that presents a major challenge. Another bonus for these upcoming games is the return of post presence Jared Sullinger, who the Celtics missed desperately with right knee soreness during this past Wednesday night’s loss to the Bobcats.
“We’re not as good on the block [without Sullinger], obviously,” confirmed Stevens. “Throwing it into the post [Monday] night against Orlando, we went on a 4-0 run when we were down [by] throwing him the ball. He gives us a little more flexibility playing inside-out, and that’s been when we’ve been at our best. He is probably our best low post player.”
Beginning with tonight’s game against the Blazers, the Celtics will have an opportunity to show the league their early success is no fluke, but instead the result of hard work and the team buying into the Stevens system.
|Stat man: Addressing Celtics’ big problem||11.05.13 at 2:12 pm ET|
The biggest problem facing these Celtics is the lack of a point guard, but that’s a story for a different day, since there’s no viable solution on the current roster until Rajon Rondo returns. Sure, a little more Phil Pressey might help, but is an undersized, undrafted rookie point guard really going to solve this thing?
So, let’s address a problem that Brad Stevens could possibly bandage with the current roster.
The Celtics are the NBA’s worst defensive rebounding team, allowing opponents to grab 33.9 percent of available offensive boards — a number that would rank among the worst in history over a full season. Opponents attempt 39.3 field goals per game within 8 feet of the basket; only the Blazers (43.3) are worse. The opposition scores 20.8 second-chance points per game; only the Nuggets (23.0) are worse. And just four teams (Wizards, Blazers, Clippers, Bucks) give up more than the C’s 44.5 points allowed in the paint per game.
The C’s interior defense needs work. Vitor Faverani, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Kris Humphries are allowing an average of 26.5 attempts at the rim, where opponents are shooting 52.8 percent.
The two biggest offenders, naturally, are rookies. Faverani is allowing 11 field goal attempts at the rim per game. Eleven! Per game! That’s the fifth-worst number in the league. He’s grabbed just 49.2 percent of his 14.8 rebound chances per game. The only other player with as many opportunities to snatch fewer than 50 percent is Al Jefferson, who hasn’t played since aggravating an ankle injury on opening night.
Meanwhile, the opposition is shooting 76.5 percent at the rim against Olynyk. That’s ridiculous. Only two bigs (Trevor Booker, DeMarre Carroll) are worse. And Olynyk snags fewer rebounds per chance than Faverani.
|Celtics suspend Jared Sullinger for season opener||10.29.13 at 12:42 pm ET|
The Celtics announced the suspension of Jared Sullinger for the season opener on Wednesday night as the result of the Aug. 31 assault charges that were ultimately dropped on Monday.
“Jared’s case was dismissed yesterday in Waltham District Court,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “While we are satisfied that this was the correct ruling, we are suspending Jared for one game because he failed to meet the high expectations we have for all Celtics employees.”
Sullinger was allegedly involved in a domestic dispute with his former girlfriend, but a Waltham District Court judge dismissed the assault charges when she refused to testify against him. The Celtics forward released an apology soon after the incident, saying he was “embarrassed” by it.
|Jared Sullinger cleared of domestic violence charges||10.28.13 at 12:23 pm ET|
The domestic violence charges against Celtics forward Jared Sullinger have been dismissed, according to Boston Globe news reporter David Abel.
Sullinger’s former girlfriend refused to testify and requested charges be dismissed against him, Abel said, and the Middlesex County district attorney’s had no choice but to drop the case. The Waltham District Court judge obliged.
Sullinger reportedly would not comment on the case but offered this response to a question about his status: “Ready to play.” The Celtics are scheduled to travel to Toronto for Wednesday’s season opener.
In early September, Sullinger first appeared in court after being arrested and charged with assault and battery, destruction of an iPhone and intimidation of a witness for allegedly pinning his then girlfriend to the bed, pushing her, grabbing her iPhone and smashing it when she attempted to call police during an argument over perceived infidelity.
|Stat man: More of this Celtics lineup, please||10.23.13 at 12:17 pm ET|
After Celtics coach Brad Stevens finally granted Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace extended playing time together, the media immediately jumped on its perceived success following Sunday’s preseason loss to the Timberwolves.
“I’d have to look at the overall numbers on it, but I thought we were pretty good in that stretch — both in the first and second half,” Stevens told reporters in the immediate aftermath. “We played them together some in the first half, when we played big on the wings, and we played them some together at the start of the second half. It’s probably a 10- or 12-minute clip of that. And, based on how it went tonight, I would say that you’ll probably see that again.”
It was actually a 14:34 clip of the highly anticipated Green-Wallace combo, and it started wonderfully. The two combined for 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting over a 4:23 stretch in the first quarter, adding two assists, two rebounds, a steal and a block during a span that trimmed Minnesota’s lead from 11 to four.
Beyond that? Not so much. They combined for a total of 8:11 during the second and fourth quarters, scoring seven points on 1-of-7 shooting to go along with three boards, two assists, two turnovers and a steal for a minus-2 rating.
|Stat man: The Jared Sullinger-Kelly Olynyk combo||10.08.13 at 10:29 am ET|
The debut of the much anticipated Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk frontcourt combination — one to which Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge even admitted his intrigue — didn’t come until midway through the second quarter of the team’s first preseason game. And even then only lasted 8:29 in spurts.
Based on the early returns, we’ll be seeing a lot more of the Sully-O clinic early and often. Actually, don’t be surprised if that duo with 45 NBA games between them ultimately takes over the starting 4 and 5 spots.
“I don’t have a plus/minus report right now, so I don’t know,” said coach Brad Stevens after his first game on the Celtics sidelines, a 97-89 loss to the Raptors, “but I thought they played pretty well together.”
When Stevens took a look at that report and watched film later Monday night — his self-imposed requirement before sleeping — he discovered this: Olynyk and Sullinger owned a plus-7 rating, combining for 10 points (4-8 FG), four assists and three rebounds in their 8:29 on the floor together. Of the nine Celtics field goals in those 509 seconds, the rookie and the sophomore either scored or assisted on seven of them.
When Stevens added Gerald Wallace to that frontcourt mix — forming a complementary trio of flair, hair and derriere that the coach has praised throughout training camp — the production was unmistakable.
|Jared Sullinger apologizes in statement for ‘embarrassing’ situation||09.03.13 at 3:10 pm ET|
Jared Sullinger issued a statement Tuesday afternoon regarding his arrest earlier in the day. Sullinger was charged with assaulting his girlfriend during a confrontation Saturday. He turned himself in Tuesday morning and was released on $5,000 cash bail after a court appearance.
“I voluntarily reported to the Waltham police this morning to respond to charges against me,” Sullinger said in the statement. “The experience was humbling and embarrassing for me. Yet I know that this situation has brought both sorrow and embarrassment to my girlfriend, my family, the Boston Celtics organization, my teammates, and my fans. To all of you, I apologize from the bottom of my heart.
“My lawyers have advised me not to discuss the case at this time. But I wanted to immediately and publicly apologize to everyone affected by this situation.”
For more on Sullinger’s arrest and court appearance, click here.