|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 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: Kelly Olynyk||10.29.13 at 9:21 am 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 … ?” First up: Kelly Olynyk.
When’s the last time a middle-of-the-pack draft pick won NBA Rookie of the Year honors?
Overshadowed by their draft night agreement to send Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, the Celtics traded up to grab Kelly Olynyk in the No. 13 spot this past June, and the 7-footer has already been dubbed “the steal of the draft” in NBA.com’s annual survey of the league’s general managers.
Demonstrating an ability to run the floor and score both inside and out, Olynyk averaged 9.0 points (52.5 FG%), 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists during the preseason. But his defense isn’t quite so NBA ready. Quality bigs gave him the revolving door treatment, and his six personal fouls per 36 minutes is cause for concern.
Still, the lack of top-end talent in this year’s draft class combined with Olynyk’s early returns thrust the Gonzaga product onto a short list of potential Rookie of the Year candidates that includes heavy favorite Victor Oladipo.
Of the 64 players ever named NBA Rookie of the Year, only four were drafted in the double digits. The last to do so was Mark Jackson, who captured the award in 1987-88 when the Knicks selected him 18th. The others: Jamaal Wilkes (1974-75: Golden State Warriors, 11th), Woody Sauldsberry (1957-58: Philadelphia Warriors, 60th) and Don Meineke (1052-53: Fort Wayne Pistons, 12th). Amare Stoudemire, drafted ninth by the Suns in 2002-03, is the lowest draft pick of the 21st century to earn ROY. So, the next time you think about placing Olynyk in the NBA Rookie of the Year conversation, remember he’d have to be a real Woody Sauldsberry to do so.
|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.
|NBA GMs: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce trade a good idea||10.22.13 at 3:03 pm ET|
For the 12th straight preseason, the NBA surveyed all 30 general managers. Here are the Celtics-related results.
- While the Celtics-Nets trade tied with Golden State’s sign-and-trade acquisition of Andre Iguodala as the most surprising summer story lines, the C’s were among six teams receiving votes for “best overall moves.”
- A quarter of responding GMs believe Kelly Olynyk is the draft’s biggest steal — ahead of Ben McLemore, Nerlens Noel, Steven Adams, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Trey Burke. Likewise, 6.7 percent of the respondents think the Celtics rookie will be the draft’s best player in 2018. Only Victor Oladipo (40.0%), Cody Zeller (13.3%), Anthony Bennett (10.0%) and McLemore (10.0%) received more votes.
- Based on the GM votes, Avery Bradley, Kawhi Leonard and Iguodala are tied for the league’s fourth-best perimeter defense, trailing only Tony Allen, LeBron James and Paul George.
- Voters slot Rajon Rondo and Ricky Rubio second behind Chris Paul on the “best passer” scale. Paul also has the game’s best IQ, per votes, ahead of Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, LeBron, Kobe Bryant and Rondo.
Also, consider former Celtics center Robert Parish among fans of trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
“I thought they made a great move because Garnett and Pierce only have another year or two of premium basketball left,” he told the Boston Herald. “[Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] just pulled the plug while they still had something. It was inevitable. And, besides, I like the fact that when he moved them, he sent them to a contender. I really like that. Granted, they’re in the same division, but still I really like that it showed how he felt about Paul and Garnett. I like that.
“As a player, you’re thinking, if you’re going to move me, at least send me somewhere where I can win a championship.”
|Kelly Olynyk doesn’t have a fork, shower curtain||10.04.13 at 3:35 pm ET|
Celtics rookie Kelly Olynyk is keeping a diary for Comcast (h/t Celtics Life). In his first entry, we learn the young Canadian who Danny Ainge once called “a 7-foot hippy quarterback” doesn’t have a fork or a shower curtain.
“I’m basically starting from scratch out here. I don’t really know anyone, don’t have anything to my name out here, don’t even have a fork!
“I had to go and get everything, and I still need more. Sometimes I’ll be in my apartment and go to do something, and I’ll be like, ‘I don’t have a shower curtain! I have to take a bath?’ So I get in my car and drive to the practice facility and take a shower.”
|Living the very un-NBA life that is the Orlando Summer League||07.13.13 at 11:24 am ET|
ORLANDO — There is no glamor in this.
The Orlando Summer Pro League is the player’s equivalent of a physical exam. It’s sterile. Clinical. Sometimes, it’s uncomfortable.
A few dozen young men, many of whom just met, assemble at what must feel like an ungodly hour to perform for the assembled coaches, executives, scouts, agents, and media. For many, it’s a first taste of life as a pro. For some, it’s another in a line of chances to prove they are worthy of an invitation to training camp. For a few, it’s a mandated appearance to hone a skill, or work on something new.
The players are fully exposed on the court. Every squeak of sneakers, every slap of a foul, every curse after a missed shot is heard quite plainly by just about everyone. With no more than three rows of seating surrounding the court, expressions are clearly visible, even winces from coaches who clearly expected something different from a play.
Yes, the environment during these games can be unforgiving.
But most of these guys love it.
“I’m really having fun out there and having fun with my team,” said first-round pick (and summer league star) Kelly Olynyk. “It’s a great group of guys, a great group of coaches, very encouraging.”
Strip away all the ancillary stuff like crowds and a PA announcer, and what these guys have been doing out there all week is simply playing basketball. For the purists who want to hear and see every little bit of detail, this is a little slice of bliss.
“It’s been great,” new C’s coach Brad Stevens told me this week. “I’ve been able to get to the gym and sit, and listen, and talk, and evaluate and then I can go back to my room and work. So it’s been a great balance.”
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