|Irish Coffee: It’s not the Celtics bench’s fault||01.30.12 at 7:40 pm ET|
After the Celtics blew an 11-point lead to the Cavaliers with a little more than five minutes left, Paul Pierce told reporters, “Maybe I should play a little bit more” in the fourth quarter. In so many words, the bench blew the game.
Not so. A lineup of E’Twaun Moore, Mickael Pietrus, Sasha Pavlovic, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett entered the final 12 minutes with an eight-point lead, and various combinations of four reserves and one starter played Cleveland even until Pierce re-entered the game with 3:42 remaining and the Celtics holding an 87-79 lead.
In fact, rarely has any of the 10 losses through the first third of the season fallen on the Celtics bench’s shoulders. Just the opposite. With Garnett the lone starter to play all 19 games, an argument could rather easily be made that the C’s reserves are the main reason the team hasn’t started worse than 9-10.
“The first full month has been a tough month for us, but we are a team of workers,” KG said last week. “Since I’ve been here, that’s all we’ve done. We haven’t really leaned on a lot of the talent, moreso the hard work.”
While Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal have all nursed injuries through the first four weeks of the lockout-shortened season, the hodgepodge that includes a second-year guard, a pair of trade acquisitions, two free agent signings and three rookies has formed some semblance of a cohesive group.
THE STALWARTS Read the rest of this entry »
|How and why Marquis Daniels returned to Celtics||12.19.11 at 2:22 pm ET|
Throughout his career, Marquis Daniels has been no stranger to pain. When he was 11 years old, the Celtics forward’s older cousins branded his No. 4 on his arm. It hurt. A lot. And that was just the beginning.
From birth, whenever he did so much as put his head down and raise it back up, a stinger shot down his arm. The 30-year-old Daniels didn’t realize his narrowed spinal canal caused the issue until reaching the NBA eight years ago. And he didn’t know the severity of his medical condition until this past February, when he bumped into Magic guard Gilbert Arenas, dropped to the parquet floor and lay motionless for what seemed like an eternity.
“To be honest, I barely touched him,” said Daniels. “The scariest part was just lying there and not being able to move for that time I was down on the floor. That was pretty scary. I could talk. I just couldn’t move. I was like, ‘This isn’t happening. I gotta get up. I can’t raise my kids like this.’ Just to be here standing and walking and talking to you guys now just lets you know that it’s more than just basketball, I don’t take anything for granted now.”
That’s why this time around in Boston is different for Daniels. Not just because he’s donning his third Celtics jersey number in as many seasons. For the first time in a long time, he can just play basketball — pain (and worry) free — like that 11-year-old kid who got the same number branded on his arm.
“It’s a second chance at more than just basketball. I can say at life,” said Daniels, who scored 11 points in both Friday’s scrimmage and Sunday’s preseason game. “It could have went either way. I could have been rolling in here instead of walking and talking to you guys, so I’m blessed to be where I’m at right now.”
|Fast Break: Celtics hold on to beat Raptors||12.18.11 at 3:32 pm ET|
With only two preseason games and the start of the season just week away, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he would give his starters and his top rotation players significant time in their exhibition game against the Raptors and the coach was as good as his word.
Even without Paul Pierce (right heel) and Sasha Pavlovic (left wrist), Rivers used just 10 players in the first half and the Celtics coach didn’t go deep into his bench until the fourth quarter. It wasn’t a coincidence that the Celtics blew a 10-point lead in the final quarter, but held on for a 76-75 victory in Toronto.
Here’s the good and the bad:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
— Marquis Daniels started for Pierce and played well. He’s one of the team’s better post-up options and he remains a good cutter who helps facilitate the team’s offense with his movement off the ball. With Jeff Green out for the season, Daniels has become an important reserve. He’ll get most of the time behind Pierce and also play some off-guard for the Celtics as well. He came into camp in terrific shape and said that he’s stronger than he was before undergoing surgery for a spinal condition.
— Rivers called center Jermaine O’Neal the MVP of the first week of camp and at times he was the best player on the floor for the Celtics. O’Neal said that he feels more comfortable offensively and understands where he needs to be to contribute. Defensively, his shot-blocking presence is invaluable for a team with a shortage of big men.
— Brandon Bass continues to impress with a diverse offensive game. He hit jumpers coming off down screens and in isolation and ran the floor with Rajon Rondo for a sweet dunk in transition. Bass is the best offensive weapon the Celtics have had coming off the bench in years.
— The Celtics were the worst offensive rebounding team in the league by a wide margin last season. That should change with Bass and Chris Wilcox on board. Both are energy players with athleticism and timing and they weren’t afraid to crash the boards.
— E’Twuan Moore drained a couple of late jumpers, showing again why the team is so high on their second-round pick.
WHAT WENT WRONG
— The hope is that Pierce can return to practice this week, but until he returns the Celtics are dangerously thin at the small forward spot. The Celtics insist that there’s noting to worry about with Pierce, but any time one of their core players misses this much time it’s a concern.
— Without much depth at small forward, Rivers used a number of three-guard lineups with Keyon Dooling, Avery Bradley, Moore, Ray Allen and Rondo. They were successful in speeding up the tempo of the game, something that has been an emphasis throughout camp, but struggled to score without Allen or Rondo in the game.
Shot creation will be something to watch all season from the reserves. The Celtics struggled mightily in that regard last season and while Dooling, Bass and Wilcox are an offensive upgrade, none of them excels at creating his own offense.
— Rookie JaJuan Johnson did not see the court until the fourth quarter, an indication that he has work to do to see some playing time. Rivers has said that Johnson has been up and down throughout camp, which is to be expected for a rookie. The team loves his outside shot and athleticism. He’ll get his chances during the season.
|Irish Coffee: The return of Marquis Daniels||12.08.11 at 11:20 am ET|
Just 10 months removed from suffering a season-ending spinal cord injury and nine months removed from being traded to the Kings for a 2017 second-round pick that freed up his roster spot, Marquis Daniels is close to rejoining the Celtics, according to a Boston Globe report.
Daniels’ ability to backup Paul Pierce and Ray Allen — even spelling Rajon Rondo at the point in spots — was a safety net for Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. The swingman’s scary injury against the Magic cut short a second consecutive season in Boston and forced Danny Ainge to pull the trigger on a trade for Jeff Green.
Daniels averaged 5.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 100 games over two seasons in a Celtics uniform. He can officialy re-sign with the Celtics on Friday at 2 p.m.
TO TRADE OR NOT TO TRADE, THAT IS THE QUESTION
I was going to discuss the latest Rajon Rondo for Chris Paul trade discussions, as reported by Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski, but colleague Paul Flannery’s column from Thursday on the importance of timing in this matter still holds true.
Quickly, my two cents. The Boston Herald quoted a source in saying the Celtics’ “window is just too short for him. He looks on them as having one year left to do something, and that’s it.”
That might be Paul’s opinion, but it’s far from the truth. If the C’s made a deal for Paul, they would have just $18 million worth of Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley on their books. Even if Paul signed an extension in Boston (a financial windfall for him as opposed to entering unrestricted free agency), Ainge would have plenty of cap space to sign a Dwight Howard while offering Allen and Kevin Garnett more affordable deals to stay.
What I’m trying to say is this: The window wouldn’t be closing if the Celtics acquired Paul, because he actually is the window. His presence alone would make Boston an attractive destination to free agents for years to come, not to mention the fact that Ainge isn’t handcuffed by any bad contracts so the C’s will have the money, too.
|Celtics’ free agent options at backup small forward||08.03.11 at 2:14 pm ET|
A month into the NBA lockout, commissioner David Stern just declared war against the players, but can’t we still examine which free agents should be available to the Celtics for the (fingers crossed) 2011-12 season once Stern and players association executive director Billy Hunter kiss and make up? We’ve profiled the C’s biggest needs — at center and shooting guard — as well as another critical position (backup point guards), so we move to what coach Doc Rivers called a pressing concern during the 2010-11 season: Backup Small Forwards.
The Celtics began last season with starter Paul Pierce and only swingman Marquis Daniels to spare the nine-time All-Star from playing heavy minutes at the 3. Once Daniels went down in February with a season-ending spinal injury, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was forced to make a deal for depth behind Pierce. Enter Jeff Green, who remains a restricted free agent after the Celtics extended a $5.91 million offer in June.
As we’ve noted before, the Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Kevin Garnett, $21.2 million; Paul Pierce, $15.33 million; Ray Allen, $10 million; Rajon Rondo, $10 million; Jermaine O’Neal, $6.23 million; Avery Bradley, $1.53 million) and should match any offer Green receives.
The Celtics would be wise to pick up another player capable of spelling Pierce to ensure they aren’t handcuffed by the lack of depth at the position again, even if they re-sign Green. Obviously the C’s won’t be dedicating much more money beyond those two to small forwards, but they need to find as many inexpensive versatile options (2-3 or 3-4 guys) as possible to eat up minutes for their three aging stars.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at backup small forward (barring overseas exports), separating the current free agent players into four categories ‘¦ Read the rest of this entry »
|Delonte West gets closer to return||02.11.11 at 2:27 pm ET|
Delonte West wanted to play Thursday night against the Lakers. He went to the Celtics medical staff and argued his case. They debated the issue and that debate is what caused Doc Rivers to say, no. Not yet.
“I said if we have to go back and forth on it, then the answer is no,” Rivers said. “So, he’s going to practice Saturday. I would actually like him to play in the New Jersey game [next Wednesday] just to get him one game [before the All-Star break].”
Rivers left the door open for West to come back against Miami on Sunday. It will largely depend on how West does at practice, who went through his first full-contact work this week.
The Celtics may need him. Nate Robinson left the Lakers game at the 8:45 mark of the second quarter with a bruised knee and didn’t return. Without Robinson the Celtics bench was reduced to Glen Davis and Von Wafer. Rookie Avery Bradley played less than two minutes to finish out the third quarter because of foul trouble and fellow rookie Luke Harangody was a DNP-coaches decision.
The Celtics have been waiting for West for most of the season. He missed the first 10 games with a suspension and then broke his wrist just five games into his return. His return will help their backcourt depth, which has been depleted with the loss of Marquis Daniels.
|Celtics prepare for life without Marquis Daniels||02.09.11 at 4:22 pm ET|
“It puts us in a terrible spot,” Rivers said after practice Wednesday. “Going into the year, that was the area of concern because we knew we were one injury away from being very thin and unfortunately it happened.”
The Celtics simply don’t know how long Daniels will be out after he suffered a bruised spinal cord during Sunday’s game with the Magic. Team president Danny Ainge said they would hopefully know more next week after Daniels consults with various doctors and is offered an array of medical opinions.
“The Marquis situation is still a little bit up in the air,” Ainge said. “We’ll probably know more in a week or so what’s going on there, what’s going on in Marquis’ mind, get some different opinion from doctors. That is complicated and the fact that we don’t have Delonte [West] healthy, that complicates the matter as well. We’re thin now. If we had Delonte and Von [Wafer] we’d be fine.”
Ainge expressed confidence in Wafer’s ability to handle the backup small forward role, but Rivers was a little more skeptical.
“He’s not big enough to be that guy,” Rivers said. “We’re going to have to do something. We worked on it today and I’ve been here seven years and you’ve seen me trap probably 10 times. We’re going to have to start trapping, which weakens your defense. I hate it. But we worked on it today and we’re going to work on it every day until we get another [small forward].”
There are still a few ways for Rivers to get creative with his lineups. “It depends on who we have, and what we can get away with honestly,” Rivers said.
He can play a small lineup with Ray Allen in the spot alongside Rajon Rondo and either Wafer or Nate Robinson. He might consider going the other way and using Glen Davis in the spot. Of particular concern is Sunday’s game with the Heat and a certain someone named LeBron James.
“When Paul goes out, somebody’s going to have to guard LeBron,” Rivers said. “We don’t have that someone.”
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