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Irish Coffee: Marquis Daniels to the Celtics’ rescue? 05.30.12 at 11:24 am ET
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The Celtics ran into this same question last season, and surely will have to answer it next year and the year after that: Who gives Paul Pierce a break defending LeBron James?

James played 44 minutes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and Pierce was on the floor for 40 of them. While chasing the NBA MVP around as he took 30 percent of Miami’s 72 field goal attempts and scored 32 of the Heat’s 93 points, the Celtics captain had little left in the tank on the offensive end.

Pierce finished with 12 points on 5-of-18 field goals and failed to get to the free throw line, where he’s made his bones on a bum knee during this playoff run. It was only the third time in his career he didn’t attempt a foul shot in a playoff game, and two of those have come since he sprained the MCL in his left knee.

Jeff Green was supposed to be the guy who could spare Pierce for even a handful of minutes, and he actually did a fairly good job against James in the 2011 playoffs, but that hope ended in heart surgery and a lost season. Then, Mickael Pietrus showed potential as that guy, but he’s had to assume the backup duties to Ray Allen on Dwyane Wade in Avery Bradley‘s absence, and that problem is only becoming more complicated.

That leaves Celtics coach Doc Rivers with Sasha Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels as his last two options.

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Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, LeBron James, Marquis Daniels
National view: Media backs Celtics’ criticism of Game 1 referees 05.29.12 at 4:34 pm ET
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Entering Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night, the buzz surrounded names like LeBron JamesDwyane WadeKevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. By the end of the game, though, the spotlight turned toward referees Dan Crawford and Ed Malloy.

Crawford and Malloy raised eyebrows with their questionable technical foul calls that went against the Celtics, particularly in the second quarter. By the end of the game, the Celtics were whistled for five technical foul calls while the Heat were not called for any.

ESPN basketball analyst Stephen A. Smith was one who voiced his concerns over the game’€™s officiating, noting that Ray Allen in particular did not do enough to earn a technical foul.

‘€œDon’€™t tell me that [Crawford] would just arbitrarily decide, ‘€˜I’€™m going to give Ray Allen a tech for saying no and turning away,’€™ ‘€ Smith said. ‘€œThat’€™s got to be something that’€™s coming from the league. It makes no sense to me.

‘€œFor an official to give you a technical over something like that, to say it’€™s egregious is a gross understatement. They really, really need to fall back. It is ridiculous.’€

Another one of the technical foul calls Monday night was a team technical foul for delay of game after Garnett tapped the ball behind the baseline following a second-quarter field goal.

Even the Florida media questioned that call, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel wrote: ‘€œA delay-of-game technical foul on the Celtics in the first half of a playoff game, really?’€

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Read More: Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Rajon Rondo
Irish Coffee: Hating the Heat easier than beating Miami at 1:42 pm ET
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Listen, I’m a Bostonian. I learned the game of basketball watching Larry Bird and listening to my father’s stories of Red Auerbach‘s Celtics of old. Cleaning out some old stuff from my parents house over the weekend, I found a Reggie Lewis collage from 20 years ago. Do I see the NBA through green-colored glasses at times? Probably.

Then again, I’m one of the guys who a couple months ago had the Celtics as a seventh seed losing in the first round, so I like to think I can take a step back and look at games and series and seasons rationally.

Not when it comes to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade & Co. Plain and simple: I can’t stand the Heat. Rooting for Miami is like pulling for South Bend Central against Hickory at the end of Hoosiers.

It starts with James, and not just because of the ridiculous Decision, declaring himself a champion — not once, not twice — before building one as a team, although that’s part of it. That was one epic failure of a public relations move made by a team of people he pays to make those kinds of judgment calls for him.

It’s that he’s the best basketball player in the world, yet completely unlikable. As a friend of mine said, he’s the A-Rod of basketball. You wouldn’t even want to have a beer with him, much less want your kid aspiring to be him.

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Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett
Rajon Rondo: ‘They have to hit the deck, too’ at 9:21 am ET
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MIAMI — Late in the fourth quarter of the Celtics‘ Game 1 loss to Miami, Kevin Garnett delivered a foul on LeBron James and then shared some of his famous internal monologue with James, who laughed back at him.

Asked later if he thought James and the Heat were “showboating,” Garnett responded, “A little bit. Little bit. It’s all good. They’re home, they’re comfortable. And when you’re comfortable, you do things like that. We’ve got to make sure we take them out of their comfort zone and fight a little harder.”

The comfort zone was something the Celtics talked about after the game in regards to James and Dwyane Wade, who combined to shoot 60 percent and score 54 points. Coach Doc Rivers said his team allowed them to play “in extreme comfort,” tough words for a team that lives on its defensive pressure.

Rajon Rondo said the C’s needed to “shrink the floor,” which is one of their main defensive principles. Someone asked if that meant being more physical and Rondo replied, “I mean, nothing dirty, but you know, they have to hit the deck, too.”

Two problems here. One, they can’t hit what they can’t catch, and two, who’s going to do it? This is one of the most mentally tough Celtics teams of recent years, but they don’t have an enforcer. It’s not their game. The issue for the Celtics isn’t hitting Miami, it’s stopping the Heat before they get there.

Regardless, expect this to be a huge thing for the next day and a half until Game 2 tips on Wednesday.

Read More: Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Rajon Rondo
Fast Break: C’s can’t handle Heat, fall in Game 1 05.28.12 at 11:08 pm ET
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Coming off a grueling seven-game series against the Sixers, the Celtics traveled to Miami and fell to the Heat, 93-79 , in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. Kevin Garnett kept the C’s alive early with 23 points, but league MVP LeBron James scored 32 points to go along with 13 rebounds. Game 2 is Wednesday night in Miami.

WHAT WENT WRONG

At odds: The C’s dug themselves into a hole after only scoring 11 points in the opening quarter. But, after a strong 35-point second quarter, they found themselves tied at halftime. Boston went into another funk at the start of the second half, shooting just 2-0f-12 to open the third quarter, and put up a paltry 15 points in the third quarter.

The consistent offensive ruts — and these are nothing new, they’ve been happening all season — are deleterious to the C’s cause. They simply can’t afford to fall behind by eight points in a matter of minutes of the game starting and expect to win, not at this stage, especially when they Heat are shooting near 50 percent from the field.

The King and I: James had 17 points in the first half, starting 7-of-10 from the field. Monday night seemed like one of those games when LBJ was in MVP-type form. Dwyane Wade finished with a quiet 22 points. Sure, there were times were he was able to slice through the Boston defense and cause problems, but Wade was at his best facilitating and getting his teammates easy looks. In the fourth quarter, Wade “flashed” (pun intended) some of the playmaking ability Boston can expect to see the rest of the series. He had an impressive left-handed finish on a layup and then, on the ensuing C’s possession, a highlight block on Rajon Rondo. Later, he made a series of difficult shots. It’s a tough task, but the Celtics have to find a way to slow the Super Friends down … just a bit.

Miller time: It wasn’t James Jones‘ 25-point performance in Game 1 of the Heat-Celtics series last year, but Mike Miller gave Garnett fits from the outside by stretching the floor. KG had trouble getting out to the perimeter to guard Miller, and his eight points in the first half killed the C’s. It’s one thing for Wade and James to beat the Celtics, but they cannot afford the ancillary players to become factors.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

“Celtics’ cool”: After a late-season loss to the Bulls, Doc Rivers sarcastically said the C’s were playing “Celtics’ cool” basketball, scrutinizing Boston’s effort. The comment garnered a great deal of attention and Rivers’ point hit home. Considering the Celtics were called for THREE technical fouls in the first half — keep in mind, all three were suspect — they did well to come back from an 11-point deficit.

The C’s made 13 of their 22 field goal attempts to spur a second-quarter comeback and got contributions from a variety of players. Greg Stiemsma provided good size inside, Garnett continued his torrid shooting, Keyon Dooling gave good energy and hit a huge 3-pointer, Rajon Rondo facilitated, and Paul Pierce and Ray Allen both found their shooting touch. When the Celtics play like that — and, granted, they typically only show brief spurts of that type of efficiency — they can compete with Miami.

Will call: Garnett’s first half was vital especially since the rest of the B0ston lineup struggled. At one point KG was 4-of-5 from the field while the rest of the C’s were a combined 2-of-16. The Big Ticket’s performance is something the Celtics will need going forward in this series. His advantage inside was exposed and should be exploited further in Game 2.

Read More: 2012 NBA playoffs, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James,
Game 1 pregame: Ray Allen remains in the starting lineup at 12:44 pm ET
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MIAMI — The Celtics honestly don’t know what to expect from Ray Allen on a game-by-game basis, but they’re not ready to make a change. Asked if he considered starting Mickael Pietrus ahead of Allen, coach Doc Rivers said, “No. We’€™re going to stay the way we are.”

Still, there is concern over Allen who was challenged defensively against the 76ers and will be facing a far-greater problem in guarding Dwyane Wade who scored 99 points in Miami’s final three games against the Pacers.

“It’€™s tough. Really, you don’€™t know,” Rivers said. “We don’€™t know game to game with him. We don’€™t know how he’€™s feeling, then we don’€™t know how he’€™s going to deal with it during the game. The way we coached him so far, is with the eye that’€™s how we have to coach him. We have to watch him. If we feel like he’€™s moving enough to help us, we keep him on the floor. If he’€™s not moving enough, then we take him off the floor.

“Then the second decision is, do we put him back on the floor. It’€™s every game — in Game 7, the argument our staff was having. ‘Take him off, take him out, bring him in.’ Honestly, it’€™s just luck sometimes. We left him in and he made two 3′€™s. But the hook was close, I can tell you that.”

Despite their injuries, the Heat are not overlooking the Celtics by any means.

“We understand the challenges we have ahead of us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They have championship experience. You can not discount that. They’€™ve proven that in the last two series, everyone was counting them out. They’€™re exactly where they want to be. Everybody counting them out and claiming that they’€™re this or they’€™re that. They’€™re not. That’€™s how they’€™ve been able to win. They grind games. They do it with their defense and they do it with timely offense.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James
Sean Grande’s NBA awards ballot 04.27.12 at 1:56 pm ET
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I’m not sure when exactly it happened.

Media, communication, society, it all changes pretty fast these days. But at some point, probably somewhere between MySpace and Facebook, the concept of anonymity started to become a problem. It was manageable then, the occasional encoded e-mail address and what not. But with Twitter, it’s now an epidemic.

And of course the problem isn’t anonymity, it’s a wonderful thing if you’re fortunate enough to have it. The problem, is that it comes with a certain amount of entitlement. That lack of awareness, fake-tough bravery that usually comes after too much to drink, or for those of us new parents, not nearly enough sleep.

People say the nastiest, vicious, twisted things when armed with a keyboard and the invisibility cloak of the Internet. They are, more often than not, the same people that would smile, shake your hand or ask for an autograph if they saw you in person. It’s a disturbing, ugly trend. I mean, sure it is. But it’s an absurdly small price to pay for the freedom of speech we’re blessed to have and the extraordinary age of technology in which we exist.

There are 100 million people on Twitter. If a few dozen backwards teenagers, bred in ignorance, tweet something offensive after Joel Ward scores the overtime goal for the Capitals, it’s not a story unless we make it one.

Morons have existed from the beginning of time. So has classlessness, ignorance and hate. And they always will. Progress isn’t eliminating them; that’s a noble idea but it can’t be done. Progress is recognizing it, isolating it and going on with life in the real world while the increasing minority of people fueled by race and hate grows extinct.

It’s how we got rid of disco, Members Only jackets and lava lamps. Just give it time.

Anyway, the point is that as big a fan of anonymity as I am ‘€¦ I don’t think postseason award ballots should be anonymous. Never have. I’ve been voting for NBA MVP and the other awards for 14 years now. It’s a privilege, not a right. And I think with that privilege comes a certain amount of accountability. I’ve always made my ballot public and I think everyone should. If you’re ‘€œexpert’€ enough to get a vote, you should be able to defend your choices, that’s all.

That said, I’ll be submitting my ballots to the league shortly, and here’s what they’ll look like.

ALL-NBA

I always begin here. By picking the top 15 guys in the league, it starts my process in picking the five for my MVP ballot.

And the strangest thing about the all-NBA team this year? In fact, the strangest thing maybe about this truly strange NBA season? The center spot. For years now, it’s actually been a struggle to find three centers worthy of All-Star consideration. You’d convince yourself that Tim Duncan was playing center even if he wasn’t, or that Nene was really underrated. It was a struggle. This year, if you call Duncan a center, there were legitimately seven guys competing for the third spot.

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Read More: James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant
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