|Stat Man: Brad Stevens’ post-timeout brilliance||11.11.13 at 1:48 pm ET|
It was quite a week for Brad Stevens. Seven days ago, his Celtics dropped to 0-4 and rose to the top of ESPN’s Tank Rank. Now, his C’s are riding a three-game win streak punctuated by a pair of plays in the span of 3.6 seconds against the two-time defending NBA champions that emphatically announced the coach’s arrival.
In the final moments of Saturday’s Heat upset, Stevens concocted a pair of post-timeout plays that offered the first NBA glimpse of the brilliance that everyone who knew him at Butler has raved about for the past four months.
The first: Since Shane Battier had previously fronted Gerald Wallace in the post, Stevens called for Jeff Green to lob an entry pass to Wallace under the basket for a layup that cut a four-point deficit in half with one second left.
And second: Weighing the risk of throwing crosscourt against the reward of potentially freeing up a shooter where LeBron James might sag defensively, Stevens called for Wallace to return the favor, lobbing an entry pass to Green in the far corner for a 3-pointer that beat the buzzer. Both seemingly made more brilliant by the fact Dwyane Wade made the youth basketball mistake of missing the rim entirely on a free throw attempt between them.
During his tenure in Boston, Doc Rivers was rightfully praised for his post-timeout play calls, but he also had Paul Pierce to help him look good despite so often calling the same isolation elbow jumper. Stevens doesn’t have that luxury and requires a bit more creativity in engineering scoring opportunities for a team without a playmaker.
In the aftermath of the two most remarkable play calls during Stevens’ brief NBA coaching career, now seems as good a time as any to examine the Celtics coach’s success in post-timeout situations.
|Celtics need to rebound after opening loss to Raptors||10.31.13 at 9:20 am ET|
Brad Stevens had good reason to be optimistic following his team’s season-opening 93-87 loss to the Raptors in Toronto on Wednesday night, but the first-year Celtics coach also had plenty of reason for concern. Mainly, the C’s were dominated on the boards, getting outrebounded 48-33, including 19-7 on offensive boards.
“When they broke us down, they crushed us on the glass,” Stevens told reporters. “They shot 20 more field goals than us. It’s going to be hard to win a game when that happens.”
Added Brandon Bass: “We tried to help and got ourselves out of position. Their bigs were naked under the basket for the most part.”
Jeff Green scored 25 points, Bass netted 17 and Vitor Faverani added 13 points and three blocks for the C’s, who lost to Toronto for just the sixth time in 26 meetings. Kris Humphries had eight points and a team-high nine rebounds.
First-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk played 16 minutes off the bench and scored four points on 2-of-5 shooting. Olynyk, a Toronto native, was a minus-19, tied for worst on the team with Faverani. Guard Avery Bradley struggled with his shooting, hitting just 4-of-13 from the field, and recording as many turnovers as assists (4).
The Celtics rallied from a 16-point third-quarter deficit and were tied at 78 with 7:42 left after a Jordan Crawford jumper, but they didn’t score again until 4:08 remained.
“At the end of the day we didn’t do everything perfectly,” Stevens said. “I didn’t coach a perfect game, but I think we can all rest assured we’ve got a team that will fight and we’ve got a team that will compete. And we can shore up a couple of those mistakes, maybe we can come out the other end of it.”
Rudy Gay led the Raptors with 19 points and eight rebounds.
The Celtics next host the Bucks on Friday night.
|Celtics, for the last time: Jeff Green||10.30.13 at 1:38 pm ET|
One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time … ?” Next up: Jeff Green.
When’s the last time a 27-year-old NBA veteran made the All-Star leap?
In the final months of last season, as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett stared father time in the face and Rajon Rondo sat injured on the bench, Jeff Green rewarded the Celtics with the potential they saw in him.
“Is he an elite talent in this league? I believe so,” Jason Terry told WEEI in March. “If he didn’t have that surgery, you’d be talking about an All-Star. He’s an All-Star caliber player, and … I believe he’s the X-factor.”
Now, only Green stands in the way of an All-Star season. No Pierce, no Garnett and no Rondo for a while. The Celtics will give Green every opportunity to emerge as the star of this team — whether or not he ever does.
If his 32.5 field goal percentage (23.5 3P%) during the preseason is any indication, then this could be a long season for Green. But preseason generally isn’t an indication of anything. Green’s 17.3 points (49.3 FG%, 43.9 3P%), 5.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 blocks per game in the second half of last season is more like it.
It certainly isn’t unprecedented for a player to make his first All-Star Game appearance at age 27. Just last season, a 27-year-old Joakim Noah became the 108th player to do so after his 27th birthday, and Tyson Chandler earned his first invite at age 30. In the past few years, Andre Iguodola, Chris Kaman, Jameer Nelson, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace and David West all made their first All-Star roster at either age 27 or 28.
Still, the odds of emerging as an NBA All-Star rapidly decline after age 26, when 52 players have made their first appearance. Here are the number of players who made their first showings at ages 27-34 (h/t AllStarNBA.es).
Age 27: 38
Age 28: 34
Age 29: 13
Age 30: 12
Age 31: 5
Age 32: 2
Age 33: 1
Age 34: 3
In other words, if Green ever hopes to become an NBA All-Star, now’s the time.
|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.
|Celtics at Nets: Paul Pierce in, Kevin Garnett out||10.15.13 at 10:18 am ET|
Paul Pierce is expected to play when his new team hosts his former team in the preseason on Tuesday night, but Kevin Garnett won’t be in the Nets lineup against the Celtics, and he’s none too pleased about it.
“It wasn’t my decision, so that’s where I’m going to leave that,” Garnett, who already voiced his displeasure in coach Jason Kidd‘s plan to rest him on back-to-backs, told the New York media after Monday’s win in Philadelphia. “I’m trying to be as positive as I can. It’s not up to me. I’m being positive and go with the plan that was laid out for me and being positive with that. So I’m trusting Jason and the plan he has for myself. … I just feel like every day you have a chance to better your craft and be part of the group, I’d like to be a part of that.”
Pierce has already expressed to reporters that he will not be in the Brooklyn lineup when the Nets come to Boston for the final game of the Celtics preseason on Oct. 23. The same is expected to be true for Garnett.
Meanwhile, Jeff Green pulled a KG “I don’t have Ray Allen‘s number anymore” after Monday’s Celtics practice. “I haven’t spoke to none of them since they got traded,” he said. “Probably [Jason Terry] is the last person I talked to out of them. It just got to the point where it was time to move on for me. They’re gone. I can’t worry about how they feel or how I feel. The trade happened. When I see them, brief words and then I’ll get ready to play.”
Now, if only Green can back up that statement the way Garnett did in 2011-12. He’s currently shooting a team-worst 27.5 percent from the field on a team-high 10.0 field goal attempts per game and averaging fewer points in more minutes than Phil Pressey. Perhaps that’s what Brandon Bass was trying to say here: “We don’t have our OG’s anymore, so the young G’s got to step up and be old G’s now and go out and play. It’s sunk in.”
|Jeff Green: The [expletive] mentality is coming||10.08.13 at 12:35 am ET|
Jeff Green is embracing the mentality with which Kevin Garnett encouraged him to play. Just as he did on Media Day, the de facto Celtics star cut right to the point when a reporter approached the subject delicately.
“[Expletive]-hole? It’s coming. I didn’t bring it tonight, obviously, the way I played, but it’s coming. It’s coming.”
In his first game as the focal point in the Celtics offense, Green struggled in the C’s 97-89 preseason loss to the Raptors, scoring just six points on 2-of-7 shooting (0-4 3P) and committing as many turnovers (3) as he totaled assists (2) and rebounds (1) in his 23:17 on the floor. Did he sense the added attention from the Raptors?
“Most definitely,” said Green. “The rotations weren’t solid. It was tough to get a rhythm, but you can definitely sense where the attention is headed. So, I’ve just got to look at film and see where I can attack and take my shots.”
First thing he’ll notice: a lack of transition buckets. Of Green’s seven shots, five came from outside 20 feet. He took two shots from the paint — a miss 2:18 into the game and a fourth-quarter dunk that cut Toronto’s lead to 89-86 with 4:15 remaining. In other words, he played a span 41:03 without being an [expletive]-hole.
“Like I said, we’re still learning. It’s only been seven days and a couple practices. This is our first preseason games. We’ve got three more this week, so we’ve just got to continue to practice and continue to do better.
|VIDEO: Top 10 2013-14 Boston Celtics Media Day moments||10.01.13 at 10:40 pm ET|
Irish Coffee’s annual Top 10 Celtics Media Day moments. A comprehensive look at the day’s events, including interviews with Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens, Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Brandon Bass, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Avery Bradley, Jordan Crawford and Courtney Lee. Just about everyone, except MarShon Brooks, who flew under the radar. Along with his afro.
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