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10 things we learned from Rajon Rondo interview 09.26.12 at 3:01 pm ET
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The summer of Rondo continues. Yahoo! Sports reporter Marc J. Spears caught up with Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo somewhere between his Asia tour, the now infamous players-only Los Angeles minicamp and the team’s upcoming Euro trip — and the quotes are as golden as they get for Rondo aficionados.

Without further ado, here are 10 things we learned from the Rondo interview.

10. Rondo hung out at Paul Pierce‘s house, chilled at Kevin Garnett‘s crib and ate Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles last week, as did everyone on the Celtics but Darko Milicic. Good times.

9. Rondo calls Jason Terry — and not Justin Timberlake — J.T. — and not “Jet.”

8. Rondo indeed organized the L.A. workouts. “I wanted J.T. to play with Kevin. I wanted Courtney [Lee] to see how Paul likes to play. I wanted Paul and Jeff Green to go at each other. I wanted to play with those guys. It was getting guys away from our actual training facility to get a new view.”

7. Rondo refers to himself in the third person. “I wanted the guys to have fun. When you’re with me I want you to say, ‘Man, I had a good time with Rondo.’ And I think that’s what they did.” (Aside: Is “Man, I had a good time with Rondo” the greatest Rondoism ever? Yes. Yes it is.)

6. Rondo definitely didn’t get along with Ray Allen. “If you look at your job, everyone doesn’t always get along with every co-worker they work with.” OK, then.

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Danny Darko: What do Celtics see in center’s future? at 12:14 pm ET
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Just because Celtics owner Steve Pagliuca says the Celtics can roll out five or six 7-footers doesn’t make it true.

Sure, since the addition of Darko Milicic on a one-year, $1.2 million veteran minimum contract, the C’s feature three legit 7-footers (Milicic, Jason Collins, Fab Melo) and Kevin Garnett, who insists he’s 6-foot-11 but had a bird’s-eye view of Nenad Krstic‘s receding hairline. Throw in 6-foot-10 Chris Wilcox, and Pags isn’t far off. That group could give forwards Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green a Napoleonic complex.

Still, the Celtics can roll out all the bigs they want. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be any good. We heard the same rhetoric when the C’s entered the 2010-11 NBA season with Shaquille O’Neal, Kendrick Perkins, Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erden at the 5. So, what should the Celtics expect from these pillars of Boston?

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Celtics camp questions: Is there enough size? 09.20.12 at 11:15 am ET
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Kevin Garnett is once again the key up front for the Celtics. (AP)

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 »

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Irish Coffee: Did the Celtics solve rebounding woes? 09.05.12 at 11:50 am ET
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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?

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Apparently Kevin Garnett loves tattoos, hates cameras 08.15.12 at 5:06 pm ET
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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.

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Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck: ‘There’s some sort of nuclear reactor’ in Kevin Garnett at 2:33 pm ET
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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.

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The Celtics’ Andrew Bynum problem 08.10.12 at 4:17 pm ET
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With Andrew Bynum now in the Celtics' divsion, their road back to the Finals just got tougher. (AP)

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 »

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