|Talking Hoops, Episode 4 is now online||02.01.11 at 1:16 pm ET|
On the fourth edition of Talking Hoops, WEEI.com’s Paul Flannery is joined by Zach Lowe from SI.com’s Point Forward blog to talk about the Celtics big win over the Los Angeles Lakers and look ahead to the second half of the season.
In the second segment, Flannery and Michael Holley talk in depth about the enigma that is Kevin Garnett.
|Irish Coffee: Why Celtics should fear Suns||01.28.11 at 12:33 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
I’ve got to hand it to colleague Jerry Spar for this one. It’s not surprising that the Celtics haven’t performed well on back-to-back nights when the second game is on the road, regardless of where the first game is played. What’s surprising is how putrid they’ve been in those situations this season.
And they’ve found themselves in that situation again Friday night, as the Celtics take on the Suns in Phoenix less than 24 hours and 1,300 miles removed from defeating the Trail Blazers 88-78 in Portland Thursday night.
Here’s how the Celtics have fared on the road during the second leg of back-to-back nights:
- Oct. 27 at Cleveland: 95-87 loss
- Nov. 8 at Dallas: 89-87 loss
- Dec. 9 at Philadelphia: 102-101 win
- Dec. 29 at Detroit: 104-92 loss
- Jan. 8 at Chicago: 90-79 loss
- Jan. 22 at Washington: 85-83 loss
Note: This doesn’t include the Nov. 22 game at Atlanta (a 99-76 win), because the game the day before (at Toronto) was played in the afternoon, not at night — allowing for extra travel/recovery time.
For those of you counting at home, that’s a 1-5 record in such instances, with the lone win a one-point decision over a 20-25 Sixers team that required a Kevin Garnett alley-oop with 1.4 seconds left.
The Celtics have five remaining games in these situations:
- Friday at Phoenix
- March 14 at New Jersey
- March 19 at New Orleans
- March 28 at Indiana
- April 1 at Atlanta
Note: This doesn’t include Feb. 7 at Charlotte or April 11 at Washington because the games the previous days are in the afternoon.
Spar took this breakdown further, noting that the C’s have had four occurrences when they’ve played the second game on back-to-back nights at home (the first game was on the road each time). They’re 4-0 in those instances.
The fact that the Celtics are four-point favorites tonight in Phoenix makes all this even more interesting.
THE CASE FOR KENDRICK PERKINS
I won’t bore you with in-depth statistical analysis like I did the other day, so I’ll let the New York Times do it for me. If you like this stuff, as I do, you’ll love this piece about why Kendrick Perkins makes a huge difference.
While Perkins’ 36-minute averages last season of 13.2 points and 9.8 rebounds are good, they don’t reflect the Celtics center’s impact, particularly defensively. Even the adjusted plus/minus statistics that author Michael Lewis unveiled to portray the relative value of a player like Shane Battier don’t help Perkins’ case.
Over his last two seasons of action, Perkins has posted a -5.76 adjusted plus/minus, one of the worst marks in the league. Adjusted plus/minus is far from infallible, but characteristically it favors guys who fall in line with Perkins’ reputation: tough-defending, solid-rebounding, low-usage role players on winning teams.
Furthermore, when you look at the production of his individual opponents, Perkins’ 2009-10 numbers aren’t so favorable, either, as they were for Battier.
In each of his last two seasons, Perkins has allowed opposing centers to produce at an above average rate, a curiosity for a well-regarded player whose primary contributions come on the defensive end.
Yet, when you examine his per-possession statistics, it sheds some light on Perkins’ value.
According to Synergy Sports Technology, Perkins allowed just 0.77 points per possession in the post during the 2009-10 season, a truly impressive mark. Opponents on the low block shot just 38.5 percent despite their proximity to the basket, and Perkins, amazingly, fouled opponents on only 6.3 percent of their post-up possessions. Go back to the 2008-09 season and the numbers get even better: 0.73 points per possession allowed and 35.4 percent shooting.
Following an ugly, ugly game that saw the Celtics tie a season-high for turnovers (21), the Trail Blazers still had high praise for their Eastern Conference foes. Here‘s what they told the Oregonian:
LaMarcus Aldridge: “They showed why they are champions. They played championship basketball. They do a good job of taking away the paint. Every time I wanted to go middle, I never saw anything [open]. I tried to force it a couple times, turned it over, but I think they are one of the best teams at not … letting you get to the basket.”
Nate McMillan: “That’s a great team. That team is prepared and built to win a championship. I thought our guys scrapped. I thought they played hard. They battled tonight. But they have so many options that they can go to. When you have that many options and that team is locked in to playing that way, knowing how to win. It’s going to be a tough game.”
Two other interesting statistics from the Celtics’ victory on Thursday night:
- Portland out-shot the C’s, 90-64, but made only three more field goals (33-30).
- In just 31 minutes, Kevin Garnett nearly recorded his first triple-double of the season (10 points, 9 rebounds and a season-high 9 assists).
|Can the Celtics get four All-Stars?||01.27.11 at 8:57 pm ET|
The NBA announced the starters for the 2011 All-Star game Thursday and, as expected, no Celtics were among them. Derrick Rose and Dwayne Wade were selected as guards. LeBron James and Amar’e Stoudemire are the forwards and Dwight Howard is the center.
The West lines up with Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Yao Ming. Yao is injured and will be replaced by the league.
Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo both finished in third place at their respective positions, while Paul Pierce was fourth among Eastern forwards. Those three should be locks when the league announces the reserves on Feb. 3.
But with Ray Allen also having a deserving season, the Celtics could be in a position to have a fourth All-Star something they haven’t done since 1975 when Dave Cowens, John Havlicek, Paul Silas and Jo Jo White made the team. (They also pulled the trick in 1962 and 1953. They have had three representative a staggering 31 times).
Since Garnett and Allen came to town the Celtics have had three All-Stars each season. Allen, Garnett and Pierce went in 2008 and 2009 and Rondo joined Garnett and Pierce last season. The Celtics came close to getting four in 2009, but Rondo was denied several times that year.
First he was passed over by the coaches as a reserve for Devin Harris and Jameer Nelson. Allen was tabbed as an injury replacement for Nelson and then, after considerable lobbying by LeBron James, Cavs guard Mo Williams was selected as an injury replacement for Chris Bosh. The argument was that the Cavs had the second-best record in the league and deserved two players, which really doesn’t have anything to do with picking an All-Star team.
The politicking may be the biggest obstacle because teams like the Magic, Bulls, and Knicks will argue for a second representative, while the Hawks have as many as three potential candidates. Here’s a list of 12 possible reserve choices (seven players will be selected by the coaches):
Boston: Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett
New York: Ray Felton
Chicago: Carlos Boozer
Milwaukee: Andrew Bogut
Atlanta: Al Horford, Josh Smith, Joe Johnson
Miami: Chris Bosh
Orlando: Because of trades it’s hard to make a case for anyone else on the Magic, but Jameer Nelson will get some consideration.
Looking at that list it seems there is a very good chance the Celtics will get four players in the All-Star game. NBA.com’s John Schuhmann has them on his ballot, along with Horford, Smith and Bosh. We’ll find out Feb. 3.
|Kevin Garnett releases ‘Beat L.A.’ shoes||01.26.11 at 5:12 pm ET|
The Chinese shoe company that sponsors Kevin Garnett, Anta, is releasing the latest pair in the KG1 series, entitled “Beat L.A.” The 152-120 reference on the tongue of the green and white suede shoes is a reference to the Celtics’ lead in their all-time regular-season series against the Lakers.
The Celtics and Lakers square off for the first time this season on Sunday afternoon at the Staples Center. Think Garnett will be sporting these?
|Irish Coffee: ‘The Association’ observations||01.24.11 at 11:36 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Episode 2 of “The Association: Boston Celtics” aired on Friday night, and like the first episode, it was a must-watch for any Celtics fan. Once again, there was a lot to take from the behind-the-scenes documentary. Here’s a rundown of the highlights:
- Even in early December, Jermaine O’Neal was rubbing some serious ointment on his knee.
- Doc Rivers‘ leash on Rajon Rondo can wrap around the TD Garden. With Rondo on the floor stretching his hamstring during game action, Rivers was asking him if he needed a blow.
- Paul Pierce plays defense on Kevin Garnett like Mike Tyson played defense against Peter McNeeley — by knocking his head around.
- Ray Allen: “At some point, somebody’s going to say, ‘Well, you guys are too old, and it’s time for you to go.’ But we all have too much competitve nature and fierceness to even show any weakness.”
- Pierce’s leadership during the eight-man practice was great to see. Rivers called the Celtics captain “more focused” as opposed to more vocal. And Pierce believes the C’s can still “whoop some ass” despite all the injuries.
- Rivers: “We’ve got a group of guys who lost in a Game 7, and they understand that it’s going to be hard to get back to that. We’re dealing with a ton of injuries, so we’re going to need all hands on deck.”
- This episode really personalizes Luke Harangody’s season with the Celtics, and the portion where he compares joining this C’s team to fitting in on the first day of high school is probably the best portion of the show.
- Earlier this season, Kendrick Perkins claimed to be working on a mid-range jumper, and he was indeed working on it during filming.
- Shaquille O’Neal broke out a portion of my all-time favorite line of his: “A hero ain’t nothing but a sandwich.” The original quote — which he delivered after a 2004 game-winning dunk against the Rockets in the playoffs — ended with, “and I’m trying to give up carbohydrates.”
- Glen Davis‘ pregame meal? Spaghetti and pancakes, of course.
- Allen arrives at the gym four hours before tipoff to work on his shooting. A friend pointed out over the weekend that, based on his production in games and his work ethic around them, Allen may have made more 3-pointers in his lifetime than any other human being alive. As for the official NBA record? He’s 23 shy of Reggie Miller‘s record.
- The shot Shaq made while he was sitting on the bench was fairly ridiculous.
- Sam Jones: “They have a sense of playing like the Celtics of old. They know they have a chance of getting that NBA championship, but they must do it together.”
- Was that Rondo in the background at Allen’s family Christmas? And was he wearing his warmups? I’m pretty sure he was.
- Pierce: “We know we’re a great team, but we can’t win a championship without Kevin Garnett. He’s the one most important piece to the puzzle.”
|No passing fancy: C’s determined to show NBA ‘what basketball is like’||01.22.11 at 11:35 am ET|
In a stat sheet filled with superlatives, the thing that shone for the Celtics like a neon sign could be found several columns over and several rows deep.
The Celtics had 31 assists on 37 baskets in Friday’s 110-86 dismantling of the Jazz at TD Garden to improve to an Eastern Conference-best 33-9. The most impressive part of the performance was that it wasn’t all Rajon Rondo. Yes, the Celtics point guard led the way with 12 dimes, but Marquis Daniels had six, Ray Allen had four and Kevin Garnett had three. Of the 11 players who dressed, only Paul Pierce and Semih Erden failed to register at least one helper.
From the opening tip, the Celtics were determined to spread the wealth. Shaquille O’Neal drew people to him in the paint as he usually does then found Pierce to his left on a cut to the basket for a lay-up 35 seconds in. The Celtics were off to the races.
That would be the first of 31 times one Celtic teammate found another for a field goal.
“It’s just a product of our work,” Pierce said. “Everyday we come in here and that’s what we work on. We work on making the passes, running our offense. Believing in one another, not caring who gets the credit. When you have a selfless group like this, that’s what happens.”
The Jazz did their best early to keep up but as a team built on strength and power, the Celtics seemed determined to take advantage of that. Let KG explain:
“Typical stuff. We know a lot of the offense goes through their bigs,” Garnett began. “They lay a lot of high post, lot of movement. Everybody knows Jerry Sloan’s system, he has been here for 30 years, 25-plus years. They are a physical team. We knew that we had to come out and not only meet their bigs’ physicality, but to be aggressive ourselves.
“I thought for the most part, we moved the ball. The things we worked on in practice the other day definitely showed and good showing by us. I liked the way we were forceful, physical. I thought we were firm. Again we moved the ball, everything we worked on and everything we have practiced up until this point was exemplified tonight.”
Utah Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan pushed every button he could but the Celtics were too much for his team, which came in tied for first with Oklahoma City in the Northwest Division.
“Well they showed us what basketball is like tonight,” Sloan said. “They came out and they played a terrific game, they took us out of our offense, we couldn’t do anything of what we were trying to do. I thought they were terrific passing the ball, and they made us turn the ball over way too many times, 21 turnovers for 26 points, it’s tough to beat anybody when you have that happen.
“But give them credit for how they came out and got after us. They were good in their offense getting the kind of shots they wanted and the kind that they can make. Doc was pretty generous not keeping his players out there, letting us breathe a little bit I guess.”
|Doc Rivers on D&C: Shaq recruited me||01.20.11 at 9:52 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show for his weekly Thursday visit and talked about the win over the Pistons, trash talk coming from Orlando, and the impact of Shaquille O’Neal. “He woke up young yesterday,” Rivers said. “It was nice. We needed it. We don’t win that game without Shaq’s energy.”
Rivers was asked if he played an active role in recruiting O’Neal, but really it was the other way around. “He kind of recruited me,” Rivers said. “Shaq was on our radar, but we were actually talking to other guys. I got a call from Shaq out of the clear-blue sky. He wanted to meet.”
The coach flew to Orlando and, “Ten minutes later he’s literally at my house, sitting in my office at my house and we talked about coming to Boston. I was asking him more questions. Would he be able to do this? Is he capable of not being the guy, being a role player, limited minutes, not starting? He was great about everything and so far he’s lived up to what he said he was coming for.”
As far as the Orlando talk (Magic GM Otis Smith said the Celtics only act tough), Rivers dismissed it. “I’m just going to let Otis keep talking. I learned long ago the guys in the suits and ties have very little impact on what’s going to happen on the floor, so I’m just going to let Otis keep talking. We want to beat them anyway. It’s not going to matter. I think anytime somebody says something and Kevin Garnett hears it, it cant hurt us. I’ll put it that way.”
Rivers said that Garnett is close to 100 percent, and it’s only a matter of rediscovering his timing.
“He’s pretty close,” Rivers said. “I was really surprised. I thought the way he played last night would be the way he played against Orlando. It’s just timing.”
The coach also said that Marquis Daniels, who rolled his ankle, could play Friday against Utah.
Rivers also weighed in on the NBA topic of the day: Carmelo Anthony. “I don’t really care [where he goes,” Rivers said. “The thing I didn’t like about it, it was way too public.”