|Celtics camp questions: Is there enough size?||09.20.12 at 11:15 am ET|
When Kevin Garnett was on the court during the playoffs last season, the Celtics were a team that was good enough to take the NBA champions to a seventh game in the Eastern Conference finals. When he was not, they were something worse than awful.
The difference between a team with KG and one without him was more than 35 points per 100 possessions. That staggering statistic not only proved just how valuable the ageless big man was, but also how truly dependent the C’s were to his presence.
The mid-season move of Garnett to the center position — which he professes to hate — was the key to their turnaround. The move also opened up a starting job for Brandon Bass, and while the duo yielded one of the more undersized frontcourts in the league, the Celtics went 24-10 after the All-Star break.
Garnett is too fast for most centers and possesses a lethal 20-foot jump shot, which allowed the C’s to spread teams out offensively and give Rajon Rondo room to operate in a congested halfcourt. Bass’ steady diet of 15-foot jumpers added a nice complement to their new-look offense. Defensively, Garnett remains a monster. Arguably the best pick-and-roll defender in the league, he was the linchpin of a defense that once again ranked among the best in the NBA.
Both players are back this season and expected to continue in their roles, but old issues still remain up front, namely rebounding and depth. Never a good offensive rebounding team, the C’s became the worst offensive rebounding team, maybe ever. Generally a strong defensive rebounding team, their percentage slipped to below average during the regular season.
That changed significantly in the postseason with Garnett playing more minutes and channeling his 2004 self on a nightly basis, but there’s no way he can keep up that pace for 82 games. Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: Did the Celtics solve rebounding woes?||09.05.12 at 11:50 am ET|
Last season, the Celtics ranked dead last in the NBA in total rebounds per game and third-to-last in both rebound differential and rebounding percentage. Not good. Not good at all. So, what did they do to improve those woes?
The short answer: Not much. The long answer? Well, that’s what we hope to explain here. First, the C’s issues.
- Rebounds per game: 38.8 (30th)
- Offensive rebounds per game: 7.7 (30th)
- Defensive rebounds per game: 31.1 (14th!)
- Rebounding percentage: 47.3 (28th)
- Offensive rebounding percentage: 19.7 (30th)
- Defensive rebounding percentage: 72.4 (20th)
- Opponents’ rebounds per game: 43.2 (21st)
- Rebound differential: -4.4 (28th)
The Celtics ranked in the top half of the NBA in just one category: Defensive rebounding, and even then they’re a middling bunch. The C’s had only two players among the league’s top 50 rebounders — Kevin Garnett (23rd) and Brandon Bass (48th) — while a team like the Lakers owned two of the NBA’s top 10 best window washers.
Things didn’t get much better in the playoffs. The C’s ranked 13th out of 16 teams in rebounds per game, 12th in opponents’ rebounds per game and 14th in rebound differential. And they ranked ninth in defensive rebounding rate, third-to-last in total rebounding rate and dead last in offensive rebounding rate. Bad, worse and terrible.
The good news: Both Garnett and Bass still anchor the C’s backcourt. The bad news: Both Garnett and Bass still anchor the C’s backcourt. While Garnett’s rebounding rate has been in fairly steady decline since he arrived in Boston, he averaged more than a rebound better once he moved to center (8.7 per game) than he did as the team’s starting power forward (7.5 per game). However, the rebounding numbers for Bass changed little during his move from the bench (6.1 in 27.9 minutes per game) to the starting lineup (6.2 in 33.6 minutes per game).
The Celtics feature the best rebounding point guard in the game (Rajon Rondo‘s average of 4.8 boards per game even surpassed 6-foot-6 Kings point Tyreke Evans), and Paul Pierce ranked among the 10 best rebounders at his position last season, but neither helped matters much last season. So, where can the C’s improve?
|Apparently Kevin Garnett loves tattoos, hates cameras||08.15.12 at 5:06 pm ET|
What happens in Toronto definitely doesn’t stay in Toronto. Not only did Kevin Garnett chill with Rajon Rondo and Snoop
Doggy Dogg Lion at Drake‘s OVO Fest, but apparently he got a fresh new tattoo at FY Ink a few days later (h/t Red’s Army). He may also have set the record for longest middle finger in Canadian history.
|Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck: ‘There’s some sort of nuclear reactor’ in Kevin Garnett||at 2:33 pm ET|
Celtics co-owner and CEO Wyc Grousbeck appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” He talked business — which we’ll get to in a moment — but once the host ceased his endless string of incorrect basketball facts (He thought this happened: “And now there’s a steal by DJ, underneath to Bird, he lays it in.”), Bostonian Ben Mezrich, author of both “Bringing Down the House” and “The Accidental Billionaires,” snuck in a couple basketball questions.
Mezrich: “What’s your favorite Kevin Garnett story?”
Grousbeck: “The funny thing about KG is that there’s really no story, because there’s a 24/7 continuous loop. You couldn’t even break it up into stories. You’ll be on the team plane at three or four in the morning, you’ll hear this noise nonstop — it’s someone talking at the top of his voice — and it’s KG. From the moment you take off to the moment you land, whatever hour of the day, he’s talking to rookies, he’s telling stories. He’s just nonstop. there’s some sort of nuclear reactor inside him that never quits.”
Mezrich: “How does a guy like Rajon Rondo happen?”
Grousbeck: “We’re lucky to have Danny Ainge here. Ryan McDonough was an early scout who saw Rondo. Danny and Ryan saw him at Oak Hill Academy in high school. Basically, Danny said at that point he was going to be the starting point guard of the Celtics three or four years later, and that’s what happened. Danny had his eye on him very, very early. That’s a competitive advantage we have — having Danny Ainge as president of basketball.”
Grousbeck touched on a number of other topics, including the Olympics, team ownership as investment and the NBA lockout. Here’s a rundown of the highlights from the 10-minutes discussion.
|The Celtics’ Andrew Bynum problem||08.10.12 at 4:17 pm ET|
If there’s one thing Kevin Garnett hates about playing center, it’s playing against an actual center. Thankfully, there are fewer and fewer of those in the NBA. Unfortunately, most of them now live in the Atlantic Division.
While Dwight Howard commands all the attention, the Celtics are certain to be keeping an eye on developments much closer to home. Namely, Philadelphia, where the 76ers took a massive step in their overhaul by acquiring Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson in exchange for Andre Iguodala and two recent first round picks as part of a four-team blockbuster.
Bynum’s arrival in the C’s division coincides with the NBA debut of the well-regarded Jonas Valanciunas in Toronto as well as the presumably healthy return of Brook Lopez to the Nets. Those three plus Tyson Chandler — the reigning Defensive Player of the Year — gives Garnett more than 28 feet of headaches, 16 times a year.
The Celtics have always kept a close eye on Howard — they built their 2010 team with the idea of beating the Magic in the playoffs — but that has always been from a comfortable distance. With Howard in Los Angeles that’s a problem only if they both happen to make the Finals and Bynum stands as a much bigger issue now.
Bynum scored 36 points and grabbed 31 rebounds against the Celtics last season, both with Garnett at center, an experience that left him drained. Bynum is coming off his best season and will be just 25 years old when the season starts, so if the Sixers can convince the Jersey-native to stay, he could be a problem for a long time for the Celtics. Read the rest of this entry »
Two years ago, as a rookie, Avery Bradley actually tried to hide in practice.
“I didn’t want to get in, because I was so scared of KG [Kevin Garnett] yelling at me if I messed up,” he said during a panel Thursday hosted by Jessica Camerato at the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation’s Summer Soiree. “I would sit on the sideline. I might not even get in the whole practice, because I didn’t want KG to yell at me.”
You forget Bradley’s only 21 years old, since he’s the elder Celtics statesman on a panel that included newcomers Courtney Lee, Kris Joseph and Dionte Christmas. How far the shy kid has come from Tacoma, Wash.
“We’re like a family,” added Bradley, making his third charitable appearance in as many days. “These guys are going to learn that we’re like a family on and off the court. We all hang out. We all go to each other’s house. It felt good to be part of a family, and I felt a lot more comfortable around the guys.”
It was once almost impossible to elicit more than a few words from Bradley, who could often be found fixating on the floor from a chair at his locker. Now? Camerato couldn’t get him to stop talking.
“You guys are going to be happy once we start that first day of training camp because all we want to do is win,” he added. “We’re a family. We don’t care about anything but winning. To be part of a team like that, it makes you feel comfortable, because there’s no pressure. You’re not going out there worrying about scoring or doing things you can’t do. You do your role and everything else will work itself out and we’ll win games.”
The only subjects he wouldn’t expound upon were his right and left shoulders, deftly explaining, “I’m just taking it day by day,” four times during an interview session prior to the public panel. And when someone from the crowd later blurted out, “Avery, when you coming back?” he simply smiled and said, “Can’t tell you.”
Of course, it wasn’t always so easy for Bradley. As a rookie, he averaged only 5.2 minutes over just 31 games, shooting 34.3 percent from the field and precisely 0.0 percent from 3-point range. And it seemed worse.
|Irish Coffee: Where in the world are current Celtics?||08.08.12 at 3:34 pm ET|
We’re less than two months away from the start of Celtics training camp, so now is as good a time as any to take a roster role call. There are 16 players currently under contract — or, in Jeff Green‘s case, under agreement to a contract — with the Celtics, and all have popped up at various times and in various places across the globe this summer, so let’s quickly review their last known whereabouts and salary structure.
BRANDON BASS: Teaching basketball in China.
“I’ve got big dreams, man,” he told reporters at a press conference last month. “I’m 27. Some of my cousins think I’m getting old, but I’m still young, and I’ve got big dreams of doing big things in the league. I want to make my imprint on an organization, and on a team. I think this is the perfect team to do that.”
Contract: Reportedly owed $20 million spread out over next three seasons.
“Ray was a great tutor,” Bradley told ESPN.com. “I’m sad that he’s gone, but we all wish the best for him. But he definitely meant a lot. He helped me out every single day. Sometimes I’d just be working out and he’d be watching on the side. He’d get up and tell me what I needed to work on, or tell me how I can be more consistent.”
As for his shoulder rehab? “I’m just ready to do whatever my team needs me to do,” he added. “I’m just going to be prepared and ready to go out there and do my role, and do whatever my team needs me to do to win games.”