|Fast Break: Suns rise, Celtics fall … again||01.20.12 at 9:56 pm ET|
Friday night’s Celtics game against the Suns at the Garden was a familiar story: Get off to a slow start, fall behind by double digits, make it close and fall behind again after exerting too much energy playing from behind all night.
The final result: A 79-71 Phoenix victory in Boston.
Suns center Marcin Gortat totaled 24 points (14 in the first quarter) and 12 rebounds to lead the Suns (6-9). Steve Nash added 11 points and nine assists.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Pole position: Gortat scored almost as many points in the first quarter (14) as the Celtics (15) — on just as many field goals (7) and eight fewer shots (19-11). If Jermaine O’Neal wants to be judged on his defense, let’s just say it wasn’t so good early, and the Celtics were forced to play catch-up all night once again.
Poor paint job: The Celtics simply had nobody capable of getting to the rim and scoring. Their guards weren’t deft enough to get to the hoop, and their bigs weren’t athletic enough to get their shot off cleanly. On multiple occasions, Paul Pierce worked his way into the paint, only to be contested by a quicker defender who could simply jump higher.
Rondo a no go: Let’s face it: At this point, Rondo is the Celtics offense. Without him orchestrating and finding Paul Pierce and Ray Allen on the wings or Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass for open jumpers, everything else falls apart. Even with Rondo, the Celtics offense hasn’t exactly looked pretty this season. Without him, it’s downright ugly. The Celtics succeeded in keeping their turnover total high (18), leading to 20 Phoenix points.
|Irish Coffee: Austin Rivers ‘would be great for’ Celtics, says Doc||01.19.12 at 12:51 pm ET|
At the tail end of Doc Rivers‘ weekly interview on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Morning Show (click here to listen in full), the Celtics coach opened up about the possibility of coaching his son Austin Rivers in the NBA.
“I would love the opportunity, I guess,” said Rivers. “It would be uncomfortable. I just think that would be a strange thing to do. Having that said that, I wouldn’t mind. He can score, and I think that would be great for us.”
The best prep guard in the country as a high school senior last winter, Austin Rivers averages a team-leading 13.8 points per game for No. 4 ranked Duke this season, shooting 43.6 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from beyond the arc. Once projected as a surefire lottery pick, his stock has slipped to No. 21 on ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford‘s Top 100 NBA prospects list. So, what must improve for him to have an impact at the next level?
“Just his whole game,” said the elder Rivers, who despite running practices for their teams once or twice has never coached his four kids. “I think he can score in this league right now. I don’t think he could have any problem with that. I think defensively — just the knowledge on the weak side of the ball — is where he would have to improve.”
|Rajon Rondo rocks a mean fedora and says ‘I’m sure I’ll be OK’||01.18.12 at 11:39 pm ET|
If ever a player knew how to play it cool, it is Rajon Rondo.
Every Celtics fan thought the worst Wednesday night and had nightmarish flashbacks to last spring when he bent his left arm in a way it’s not supposed to bend in Game 3 against the Heat.
So when he took a nasty spill Wednesday night, breaking his fall with his right hand and wrist, there was legitimate reason to be worried.
With just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter Wednesday night, Rondo drove to the basket and was knocked to the ground by Linas Kleiza of the Raptors. Rondo said he is “day-to-day” with a sore right wrist, an injury he said afterward “hurt more” than the grotesque dislocated elbow he suffered against the Heat in the second round of the playoffs last spring.
“This was different,” Rondo said, sporting a cool black fedora. “This was more painful, honestly. The other one was just more of a shock.”
‘Honestly, I was laughing right afterwards,” added coach Doc Rivers. “I wasn’t [concerned] at first because I thought he was trying to get the flagrant. I thought he was laying down, trying to ‘ you know. And then when he stayed down then I was concerned. But I didn’t know what it was. And then when I saw him grabbing his arm or hand I was thinking ‘last year, playoffs’ obviously.’
|Irish Coffee: Four Paul Pierce Celtics trade scenarios||at 3:48 pm ET|
- As Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen become free agents this summer, money will peel away from the salary cap. Between then and now, the bigger question promises to be: Does ownership and general manager Danny Ainge go for the complete rebuild and trade Pierce before the March 15 deadline? Several contending teams have inquired about Pierce’s availability. As one Eastern Conference official said, there are ‘lots of calls asking if [Boston] will blow it up.’
Based upon 42 comments Tuesday on WEEI.com about this item, fans fall into two camps: 1) Those who can’t handle The Truth being traded; and 2) Those who’d send the captain’s ship sailing for the right package in return.
Ainge falls into the latter camp, if only because he’s said time and again over the past year that nobody is off limits in his attempt to keep the Celtics relevant in this post-Big Three era. His sole goal is to avoid watching Pierce, Garnett and Allen grow old and gray in green as Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish did in the 1990s.
Heck, Ainge explored trades involving Pierce prior to Garnett and Allen’s arrival, when the captain was in the midst of his prime, so why would he be afraid to pull the trigger on the right deal involving a now 34-year-old Pierce with a $32 million price tag over the next two seasons? Just because teams are calling doesn’t mean Ainge has to listen, but here are four deals that might keep him on the phone. Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: Celtics’ Jermaine O’Neal gets defensive||01.17.12 at 12:37 pm ET|
In the aftermath of his first double-double of the season, coming in his team’s fifth straight loss, Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal took his time inserting his jumbo diamond earrings and slipping into his brown leather jacket — back turned to the media gathered around his locker.
When O’Neal finally turned, he fielded the first question and took a long sip of water before addressing “so-called analysts” critical of his offensive production: “The people out there that’s wondering about production with me scoring, that’s not my role. My role has been given to me, and my role has been said to be a defender.”
Judging by the tone of his voice, the criticism has clearly irked O’Neal in recent days. The 15-year veteran no longer wants to be judged on his 13 previous seasons as a double-digit scorer, but rather on the new role Celtics coach Doc Rivers has carved out for him: Namely, rebounding and defense. Coincidentally or not, JO picked one of his best offensive nights of the season (12 PTS, 5-11 FG) to voice his opinion.
His plea was more of a decree, and here’s the rest of O’Neal’s I-Got-A-Role Address. Read the rest of this entry »
“He has a great role — shoot,” Rivers said. “That’s a helluva role. I never had that as a player because I couldn’t shoot, was probably the reason.”
He even lamented his case to his old coach with the Atlanta Hawks, Mike Fratello, who was on hand doing the game nationally on TNT.
But after further thought, Rivers’ jealousy turned into sincere admiration for the combination of toughness and determination Pietrus brings to the team, a trait that’s needed badly right now as the team battles through a five-game losing streak and a 4-8 start to the shortened 66-game season.
“He earns it, though,” Rivers said. “The guy, he plays so hard. He’s going to take some crazy shots sometimes and he may turn it over but his spirit is really good for our team. He’s competitive and we needed to add another instigator to our team. He is absolutely an instigator.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Celtics encouraged despite losing five straight||at 10:13 am ET|
Monday night’s loss to the upstart Thunder marked the first time in the Big Three era that the team has lost five straight games, and it’s also the second time in the young season that Boston has lost three games in the span of four days. Even though the natural inclination is to panic, collectively the Celtics feel the team is improving.
“I really like the effort we had tonight,” said Paul Pierce. “I was the telling the guys if we compete like that night in and night out — we’ll get closer to where we want to be.”
Certainly it’s easy to point to Boston’s 4-8 record and feel underwhelmed at any notion of optimism, but the Celtics are starting to click individually. Now, the team needs to find some semblance of consistency.
“We’re still chasing putting four quarters of good basketball together,” said Kevin Garnett, who finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds against the Thunder. “I know y’all are probably tired of hearing this, and I’m sure if y’all rewind your tapes, I’m in a different outfit saying the same thing, but we’re going to continue to work and we’re going to continue to get this thing better. I really believe that, and you’ve got to believe that.”
Ray Allen and Brandon Bass helped carry Boston earlier this season. Bass, in particular, was a pleasant surprise. Through the first seven games of the season he averaged 14 points off the bench. However, during this five-game losing streak, Bass has seen his production cut in half, only averaging 7.4 points per game.