|Fast Break: Celtics silence Thunder||11.07.10 at 10:25 pm ET|
After beating Oklahoma City, 92-83 Sunday night, the Celtics have now won five straight games and six of their first seven, but they have not played a better 24 minutes of basketball than they did in the first half. There’s a decent chance the Celtics won’t play a better 24 minutes all season.
Of course NBA games last longer than 24 minutes and the Thunder made their inevitable run late in the third quarter and into the early stages of the fourth, cutting the Celtics lead to six. But this time it was the bench that saved the day as Glen Davis knocked down a couple of shots.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Turnovers, or more specifically, the lack of turnovers: It’s really a simple equation for the Celtics. When they don’t turn the ball over they are almost impossible to stop because they shoot such a high percentage and almost everyone on the roster is a shooting threat.
The Celtics turned it over only four times in the first and that helped them build a 58-37 lead. They turned it over four times in the third quarter and that’s when OKC made its run. It’s really that simple for the Celtics right now.
The bench: Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels have been constants for the Celtics this season, but they received contributions from everyone in the rotation Sunday. Nate Robinson had nine points including a buzzer-beater 3 to the end the first half and Semih Erden also gave the Celtics quality minutes. They were even better in the second half as they helped stave off a big OKC run.
Ray Allen has his shot back: Did it ever actually leave? A handful of off shooting nights is no reason to panic when it comes to Allen and he showed again Sunday night why he is one of the best in the business. Allen knocked down 8-of-16 shots and scored 19 points. He also made big shots. He was on the floor with the reserves in the fourth quarter when the Celtics made their last move, proving once again how valuable he is.
WHAT WENT WRONG
The third quarter: It was unlikely the Celtics would be able to keep up their first-half play for 48 minutes, but they started the second half like they were going to try, opening a 71-51 lead. But the Thunder came right back led by Westbrook and Kevin Durant, who scored 14 of his 34 points.
Second half runs are inevitable after a visiting team opens up a big second-half lead, particularly when the opponent is as good as Oklahoma City. What was encouraging for the Celtics was that they held it off and rebuild the lead.
That was really the only thing that didn’t go right. When you beat Oklahoma City by nine points in their building to start a four-game road trip, there’s not much to apologize for.
|Irish Coffee: One Reason Ray Allen Will Be Better||10.20.10 at 10:44 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
ESPN analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy piled on the anti-technical foul bandwagon in a conference call to promote the station’s NBA coverage this season. While most of what’s been said on the subject has been redundant over the last week — (a la Van Gundy: “More free throws is never the answer”) — Jackson made an interesting point that could benefit the Celtics:
‘If I was a guy like Reggie Miller I’d love the rule because it would add three or four points a night to my scoring total from technical fouls.’
Hmmm … I’m trying to think of a guy like Reggie Miller on the Celtics. Shaquille O’Neal? No. Rajon Rondo? Nope. Oh, I know: Ray Allen. Four current NBA players, including Allen, rank higher on the list of career free-throw percentage leaders than Miller (who is No. 9 at 88.8 percent): 2. Steve Nash (90.3 percent), 3. Peja Stojakovic (89.5), 4. Allen (89.4) and 6. Chauncey Billups (89.2).
Allen averaged 16.3 points per game for the Celtics last season, so an additional four points — which, for the NBA’s sake, better be an excessive estimate — would get him closer to his career average of 20.5 points a game.
The scariest name on that free-throw percentage list: Kevin Durant, whose 88.3 conversion rate ranks No. 11 all-time. Already an NBA MVP favorite, Durant’s 30.1 points per game led the league in scoring last year. An additional few points a game gets Durant that much closer to averaging 35 points. Only two players have done that since 1970: Michael Jordan (37.1 in 1986-87; 35.0 in 1987-88) and Kobe Bryant (35.4 in 2005-06).
NBA PRESEASON PREMONITION
The Sporting News produced the following NBA statistic: “Over the last nine preseasons, 17 teams have finished undefeated or with one loss. Of those 17 teams, 16 wound up in the playoffs. None went on to win a championship and only half survived to the second round, but the fact is, if you play well in October, there’s a good chance you’ll at least be playing in late April.”
Only four NBA teams currently have unbeaten or one-loss preseason records: the Celtics (6-1), Orlando Magic (6-0), Utah Jazz (7-0) and Memphis Grizzlies (7-0). I’m not sure this is good news for the Celtics, who need a monumental breakdown to miss the playoffs. Should they defeat the New Jersey Nets tonight, they would have to buck a recent trend to win the NBA title.
Along the same lines, 82games.com analyzed a five-year window to determine: Does the NBA preseason matter? Looking at records from 2001-02 to 2005-06, there was a corollary: successful preseason teams succeeded in the regular season; likewise, unsuccessful preseason teams failed in the regular season.
The most interesting statistic from the study: teams coming off less-than-30-win seasons that produced successful preseason teams gained an average of 19 wins the following season. The only team that fits that bill this season is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who finished 15-67 last season and are 5-2 this preseason.
MAGIC JOHNSON’S DISAPPEARING ACT?
What the heck is Magic Johnson up to? A day after selling his 4.5 ownership stake in the Los Angeles Lakers for an estimated $27 million, Magic reportedly sold his 105 Starbucks franchises for another $100 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Magic was rumored to have interest in the sales of the Detroit Pistons and Golden State Warriors, which have since been sold. Back in 2006, when the Seattle SuperSonics were sold for $350 million, five teams were supposedly available for the right price: the Portland Trail Blazers, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Magic and Grizzlies. None of those teams have been sold since.
Conspiracy Theory of the Day: Maybe Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are preparing to buy the Indiana Pacers. Bird did admit back in April that he’s fielded calls from people interested in buying the team. I’m pretty sure Magic has his number.
Just as long as Magic isn’t planning on investing in another edition of that godawful TV show, “The Magic Hour.”
The NBA banned its players from wearing Athletic Propulsion Labs’ $300 Concept 1 shoes. Apparently, the shoes are spring-loaded to increase vertical leap. According to the Associated Press story, 30 percent of NBA players had shown interest in the shoe produced by former USC walk-ons Adam and Ryan Goldston. Any chance the aging legs of Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal were among that 30 percent?
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|Mock NBA Fantasy Basketball Draft||10.05.10 at 4:58 pm ET|
A breakdown of the first five rounds of a mock 10-team fantasy basketball draft, in addition to the top-10 late-round sleepers and the top-10 players to avoid. Full disclosure: I am unstoppable at fantasy basketball. I also consulted commissioner James Hough of our annual league, Mondo Rondo.
(NOTE: Your season depends solely on the health of this pick.)
1. Kevin Durant: Team USA’s best player; absolute monster; fills every stat category.
2. LeBron James: Has a legit chance to average a triple-double.
3. Kobe Bryant: Even if not 100 percent, the game’s best player can’t slip past No. 3.
4. Chris Paul: Might be the No. 2 pick if not for the whole knee surgery thing.
5. Deron Williams: Averaged at least 18 points & 10 assists per game last 3 seasons.
6. Danny Granger: Most underrated player in the NBA on a bad team translates into numbers.
7. Dwight Howard: You’re giving up FT% with this pick … but likely winning FG%, blocks & boards.
8. Dwyane Wade: Stats will suffer beside LeBron, but still warrants first-round pick.
9. Dirk Nowitzki: The first-round guy I’d least like to have on my team still fills the statsheet.
10. Pau Gasol: He may look like a llama, but he’s the best offensive center in the game.
ROUND 2(NOTE: Either diversify your roster or lock categories down in your favor.)
11. Chris Bosh: He’ll still score, grab rebounds, block shots and make free throws.
12. Steve Nash: It’s a good thing defense isn’t really a category in fantasy hoops.
13. Amar’e Stoudemire: Last season under D’Antoni: 25.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 59.0 FG%, 80.5 FT%.
14. Josh Smith: Draft him with Howard, and you win blocks & boards every week.
15. Stephen Curry: A first-round pick on most boards, I wouldn’t take him until now.
16. Brook Lopez: Never would’ve predicted he’d be a top-20 pick.
17. Carmelo Anthony: A top-10 player, but on a team he doesn’t want to play for.
18. Rajon Rondo: Points, assists, steals and FG% have gone up every year.
19. Derrick Rose: Is anybody else thinking he’s going to have a huge season?
20. David Lee: You can count the number of centers who have average 20 and 12 on one hand.
|KG on his fine: ‘I could care less’||04.03.10 at 12:26 am ET|
Kevin Garnett was fined $25,000 by the NBA for his comments about Kevin Durant after the Celtics lost to the Thunder Wednesday. Garnett rather memorably said, “I thought we were playing Michael [Bleeping] Jordan with the way he was getting the whistles.”
Durant shot 15 free throws in the game, while the Celtics shot 17 as a team.
Garnett found about the fine before Friday night’s game with the Rockets from an unlikely source: Rasheed Wallace. Or maybe it wasn’t so unlikely considering how often he has been fined himself.
“To be honest I didn’t even know I got fined until Rasheed told me a couple of minutes before we hit the floor,” Garnett said. “I could care less.”
|Celtics curse Kevin Durant||04.01.10 at 3:21 am ET|
You know you’re good when a pair of NBA veterans curse your performance after you lead your team to a win on their home court.
Kevin Durant is that good — and then some.
He scored from every spot on the court, including the free throw line — where he made all 15 attempts. When all was said and done, the Celtics watched him pour in 37 points in Oklahoma City’s 109-104 win over the Green on Wednesday at TD Garden.
‘It’s a team job to help out, period,” Rasheed Wallace said. “No matter whether it’s him or any other type of NBA All-Star, it’s a team effort to help out. It was a [pain], honestly. Helping Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] out, it’s just a team thing. Got to stay with him.’
As for those 15 free throws, compare that to the fact the Celtics as a team made just 13-of-17 attempts the entire game.
‘I thought we were playing Michael [expletive] Jordan tonight the way he was getting the whistle,” Kevin Garnett added. “Durant damn near shot more free throws than our whole team.’
‘We’ve grown, we’ve grown up,” Durant said. “We’ve added a lot of different pieces since our first year, me and Jeff. So it’s good to come in here and beat a team like Boston — a great team, a championship team like them. It’s all about moving on from here.
‘It means a lot for us, and like you say gives us confidence. We’ve got eight more games left, so we’ve just got to keep plugging away and keep pushing. This is another step for us. We’re happy with this win, but tomorrow we’ve got to let it go and get ready for Dallas.’
Maybe most impressive is the fact the Thunder shot 50 percent, 10 percent less than their opponent — on their opponent’s home court — and still managed to win.
‘If you want a tape about how to score the basketball, you’ve got to watch this game,” Durant said. “They scored it in a variety of ways and we scored in a variety of ways as well. Our point guard did a great job of starting us off early, getting to the rim and opening things up for everybody else. It was a great game as far as offensive is concerned. We’ve just got to work on our defense from here.’
Glen Davis was one of the last Celtics to give his take on Durant on Wednesday, and he didn’t even need any dirty words.
‘He’s a problem because you’ve got to pay attention to him,” Davis said. “You’ve got to make sure he doesn’t beat you, and he had a big game tonight. We’ve got to get him out of his comfort zone and make sure he doesn’t have 37, but he did.’
|R-O-N-D-O to play H-O-R-S-E in D-A-L-L-A-S||02.08.10 at 4:44 pm ET|
The guard said he will come up with some trick shots that only he can make in an effort to beat Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, the defending champion, and Sacramento’s Omri Casspi.
Last year, Durant beat Atlanta’s Joe Johnson and O.J. Mayo of Memphis for the title.
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