|Getting the new Celtics to play like Celtics||03.24.11 at 5:28 pm ET|
There’s really no precedent for what the Celtics are trying to accomplish in a post Kendrick Perkins world. While other teams have added complementary parts to the equation at the trade deadline or even one large piece to the puzzle, the Celtics turned over a third of the roster, while also trying to re-introduce three important cogs who missed a combined 134 games because of injuries in Delonte West, Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal.
That’s a lot of change for a team that prides itself on its consistency. For years they knew exactly what they wanted to do, and how they were going to do it. When something went wrong it required a subtle tweak more than a complete overhaul.
Step one is the relatively straightforward assignment of having the new players learn the system. That takes time and repetition, but at the end of the day basketball is basketball and it’s not like there’s a hundred different ways to defend the pick and roll.
More than the schemes and the playbook, however, the biggest challenge is more intangible than tangible and it’s the biggest question hanging over the team for the next three weeks: How do you get the new faces to play like Celtics?
“The most important thing Doc [Rivers] is trying to teach them is how we play, how the Celtics play,” assistant coach Armond Hill said following the team’s practice on Thursday. “How we move the ball, how we play defense.”
Added fellow assistant Kevin Eastman, “Every team that is vying for championships, they have a DNA. Part of our DNA is not just the set that we run or who we go to, but it’s how we do it. The how is every bit as important.”
Ask any of the veteran Celtics and they will echo the coach’s thoughts.
“Getting them to understand the level and disciple and professionalism and all the other things that come with being a Celtic, Kevin Garnett said on an interview with WEEI’s Mut & Merloni [Listen to the audio here]. “The responsibility of playing hard every night. We’ve set that precedent here.”
They have been around each other so much over the last three and a half seasons that their approach has become second-nature. That doesn’t mean they don’t mess things up on occasion. Just look at the last minute of the loss to Memphis on Wednesday where the execution broke down. But when things go wrong, they have a deep understanding of the how and the why and it becomes a matter of fine-tuning the process to get the desired results. There’s a level of trust and familiarity involved and that simply can’t be distributed and absorbed like a playbook.
That, more than the wins and losses, is what the last three weeks of the regular season is all about. Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: Celtics make statement(s) in New York||03.22.11 at 2:15 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Make no mistake that Monday night’s Celtics victory against the Knicks was a statement by Doc Rivers & Co. that a) any discussion of a Celtics-Knicks rivalry still ends in a hammer-nail declaration, b) they care about the No. 1 seed more than people think, c) the Eastern Conference crown still belongs in Boston and d) Kendrick Perkins wasn’t the only tough guy in Green. The Associated Press pictures tell the whole story, so let’s let them (NOTE: click on the pictures in the rest of this entry to follow the links) …
|Kevin Garnett: Rajon Rondo’s playing hurt||03.17.11 at 12:41 am ET|
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo‘s recent struggles have been well documented. While he appeared more explosive on the parquet, he still went scoreless and rebound-less while recording eight assists against the Pacers on Wednesday night.
That (lack of) production led to this question posed to teammate Kevin Garnett: What’s wrong with Rajon Rondo?
“Rondo’s playing hurt,” said Garnett. “He’s hurting. He’s giving us everything he has. He’s grinding. He’s playing countless minutes for us, and he’s not playing like a washed-up guy.”
Asked if he thought it was Rondo’s tweaked ankle that was giving the C’s floor general problems lately, Garnett responded curtly, “I don’t know. You’d have to talk to him.”
On a less serious note, Garnett made a fantastic comparison between the Celtics and the “Ocean’s Eleven” cast, especially upon the inevitable returns of Shaquille O’Neal and (hopefully) Jermaine O’Neal.
“You know what’s crazy?” said Garnett. “This is like a good movie. As a matter of fact, I’m going to use ‘Ocean’s Eleven.’ You haven’t seen Matt Damon. You haven’t seen Brad Pitt. You haven’t seen Bernie Mac. You’ve just seen [George] Clooney and a couple other guys.’
So, which character is Garnett? “I’m Saul,” he said. Saul Bloom, of course, is the old pro who comes out of retirement to play a valuable role in the casino heist.
Garnett also touched on a few other hot-button topics from the Celtics’ victory …
- On Delonte West’s return: “He’s a seasoned vet. He’s been in the thick of it. He’s been in countless playoff games. He has the experience. You kind of expect that from him. Whatever the perception is of Delonte isn’t the reality of what we deal with every day. He’s a very, very vocal guy — very smart. He definitely knows X’s and O’s, and he’s tough as nails. To get a guy like that back in your lineup, it makes your team better overnight.’
- On Jeff Green’s 19-point effort: “Jeff Green is so versatile. If you put a three on him, he’s too small. If you put a four on him, he’s too big. He’s too quick. He has so much he can go to, and I think he’s going to pick up from some of the vets and the personal parts of the game where he can make himself better. He’s an unfinished product. When he puts that all together, he’s going to be something special.”
- On the surging Bulls: “I don’t really care about Chicago.”
|Irish Coffee: Rajon Rondo & Derrick Rose’s contrasting styles||03.15.11 at 12:00 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Bulls point guard Derrick Rose has only been held to fewer than 10 points once all season — and never fewer than six. Conversely, his Celtics counterpart, Rajon Rondo, has been held to single-digit scoring 21 times in the 2010-11 season — and less than six points nine times.
Meanwhile, Rose has recorded double-digit assists just 16 times — and never more than 14. On the other hand, Rondo has produced 10 or more assists 36 times — and more than 14, well, 14 times.
To say the least, Rose and Rondo have led the Celtics and Bulls to a tie atop the Eastern Conference by playing different styles as the floor generals of their respective teams. But which is more successful?
In the 29 times since 1980 that someone has recorded at least 11 assists per game, that player has reached the conference finals nearly half the time (14-of-29). Those are favorable odds for the Celtics, as Rondo has produced 11.7 assists per game this season.
Still, only six times in that span has someone averaged 11 assists and led his team to the NBA Finals. Each time his name was Magic Johnson, who led the Lakers three titles in such seasons (1985, ’87 and ’88).
Fear not, Celtics fans, for no point guard who has averaged at least 24 points per game has even won a playoff series in the last 30 years. Michael Adams (1991), Gary Payton (2000), Allen Iverson (2005, ’06, ’08) and Gilbert Arenas (’06, ’07) have all produced 24-plus points a game as the primary point guard on their roster and never made it out of the first round.
Before you say, ‘Hey, Rose has had a better year in 2010-11 than any of those four players in those seven seasons — and he’s surrounded by better talent,’ consider Iverson’s 2007-08 season with the Nuggets:
- Rose (’10-11): 24.7 points, 8.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 3.5 turnovers, 44.1 FG%, 33.7 3-PT FG%, 84.5 FT%
- Iverson (’07-’08): 26.4 points, 7.1 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 3.0 turnovers, 45.8 FG%, 34.5 3-PT FG%, 80.9 FT%
I’d say Iverson’s supporting cast of Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby and a healthy Kenyon Martin are fairly comparable to Rose’s supporting cast of Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and a questionably healthy Carlos Boozer. And that Nuggets team got swept in the first round.
There’s no question that Magic’s three 11-assist championship seasons were better than Rondo’s performance this year, but would you also concede that Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and a 39-year-old Shaquille O’Neal are a better supporting cast than Magic’s 1988 supporting cast of James Worthy, Byron Scott, A.C. Green and a 41-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar that won the title?
I think I just talked myself into betting on the Celtics to win the Eastern Conference. If not, I can take solace in the fact that Brian Scalabrine would make the NBA Finals as a member of three different franchises (2002-03 Nets, 2007-08 & 2009-10 Celtics, 2010-11 Bulls).
|Talking Hoops, Episode V with Kelly Dwyer||03.14.11 at 4:44 pm ET|
In the latest edition of Talking Hoops with Paul Flannery we talked with Kelly Dwyer, editor of Yahoo! Sports Ball Don’t Lie. Few people know the Bulls as well as Dwyer, so we went in-depth on Chicago’s rise from talented als0-ran to legitimate championship contender. Then we talked about the Celtics and what we can expect from their new additions and later, we ran through the sleepers in the Eastern Conference.
We also reminisced about the Fab 5, Rodrick Rhodes and Dwyer tries to convince me to listen to ELO.
LISTEN HERE: Talking Hoops, Episode V
|What it means to have Nutty Professor Glen Davis back||at 9:12 am ET|
And while it was only a four-games, the Celtics could feel the loss of their nutty professor in their lineup. They beat Golden State and Milwaukee but fell very flat against the Clippers and Sixers. As a matter of fact, one could easily make the argument that he is the single-most important bench player of any of the favored teams to win the NBA title.
The Lakers, Spurs, Mavericks, Bulls and Heat all have star-studded players among their starting five but none of them have Big Baby. He can come off the bench and provide an instant jolt of energy to the reserves and this is precisely why Doc Rivers wants to keep him coming off the bench come April, May and hopefully, June.
But Sunday, it was all about getting acquainted with some players he’d never played with or had just seen in practice. There was no more ‘Shrek-ing’ with Nate Robinson. He has been replaced with Carlos Arroyo. Davis has played just three games with the troika of Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy.
“First half, I felt a little weird a little bit,” Davis said. “I didn’t remember anybody on the team. Nate? Carlos?”
And what about that No. 77, Sasha Pavlovic? Davis was wondering how to pronounce his name, let alone learn his game.
“I knew his name but I couldn’t pronounce it so I didn’t call him anything,” Davis said. “Just, ‘What’s up?’ and ‘hey.'”
Sunday night was clearly an example of shaking off the rust as he played just 18 minutes, going 3-for-6 from the floor with seven rebounds and nine points, with all nine coming in the fourth quarter.
“I saw a guy that needs to run more,” Rivers said. “He did well. He played with a lot of patience offensively and he let the ball come to him instead of hunting it down and that’s how we should play all the time. He just needs the minutes. He was starting to get his legs. I asked him how he felt and he said he felt great, except he can’t feel his lungs anymore.”
He missed a lay-up 90 seconds into the fourth as he had flashbacks to the Heat game on Feb. 13 when he went up on the wrong foot and missed a dunk. This time he missed the layup but 90 seconds later he was pounded by Jon Brockman and finally felt like he was back. More importantly, his knee felt OK with the contact.
“I was kind of trying to feeling it out,” Davis said. “I felt it a little bit more when I missed my first layup I was like, ‘Oh!’ I was trying to jump. I felt it but I didn’t feel it. But then when Brockman hit me, I felt like, ‘OK, you’re back.'”
No one means more to their bench than Glen Davis to the Celtics and here’s why:
First, after Krstic, the Celtics – as Rivers was all too willing to point out – had really no one to play the center position. Read the rest of this entry »
|Kevin Garnett: President Obama is ‘a cool dude’||03.12.11 at 11:22 am ET|
Celtics forward Kevin Garnett posted to his blog on shoe company Anta’s website and touched on a few topics from what he called a “crazy busy” couple days. Here’s what he had to say about meeting President Barack Obama, the loss to the Clippers and signing a deal with Zico coconut water …
On Obama: “On Tuesday, we went to an event and met the No. 1 man. The president of the United States. It was cool to take a couple of minutes to talk with the leader of our country. He’s a cool dude. Not all the guys made it, but hopefully we’ll meet him again (we get to if we win the championship).”
On Clippers: “It just seemed like things were off all day. Not sure what happened, but we didn’t play together and were not on the same page. I guess that has to happen every now and then. Still sucks to lose. We were down 20 points at one point and we cut it down, but mental errors hurt us. We lost by five, but cut it to three at one point.”
On endorsement: “Big news. Just signed a deal with Zico ‘coconut water.’ Excited, to work with them, as I’m a huge coconut water guy. I drink some after my massages, practice and any time I feel like my body needs refreshing. Helps with dehydration and recovery. … Be on the look out for a contest or something. Planning on signing my game sneakers! Stay tuned.”
If Garnett’s commercials are anything like the one embedded in this blog, they should be wonderfully terrible.
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