|NBA Power Rankings, 2/3||02.03.11 at 6:14 pm ET|
The Celtics haven’t claimed the top spot in our NBA Power Rankings since Jan. 6, but as Paul Flannery wrote following the C’s 109-96 victory against the Lakers on Sunday, “The Celtics’ performance proved that as of this moment they are the team to beat in the NBA. On their best day, and this may have been it, no one can even come close to matching them.”
There are four other legitimate contenders for the 2011 NBA title — the Spurs, Bulls, Heat and Lakers — and the Celtics have beaten all of them, recording six wins in seven games against those teams. That’s kinda good.
The C’s have now defeated 23 of the 29 other teams in the league. The only two teams they haven’t faced yet are the Clippers and Warriors. They’ve lost their only games against the Mavericks, Suns, Rockets and Hornets so far, but they get their respective shots at revenge on Friday, March 2, March 18 and March 19.
In short, pretty much everybody has praised the Celtics as one of, if not THE best in the league. Kevin Garnett might be one of the most disliked opponents in the league, but the C’s are getting their share of respect. That’s why we’ve decided to highlight the best quotes about the Celtics from opposing coaches and players in this week’s edition of the Power Rankings. Without further ado, here goes …
1. Boston (37-11): I don’t care that the Celtics have lost to the Wizards, Pistons, Raptors and Cavaliers. I don’t care that they scored only 71 points against the Suns. Four of those losses occurred on the road after playing the previous night, and the other came at 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. When the Celtics are motivated, they’ve been almost unbeatable. Just ask the Spurs, Lakers and Heat.
2. San Antonio (40-8): Spurs coach Gregg Popovich after losing to the Celtics on Jan. 5, 105-103: “It’s just frustrating that we’re a definite, significant notch below the big boys — of course, Boston being one of the big boys — come playoff time if this continues. You know, Boston is third in field-goal percentage ‘D,’ and first in defensive rebounding. Those are the kind of stats we used to have defensively to do what you need to do to be the last team standing.” (via Sporting News)
3. Chicago (34-14): Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau after losing to the Celtics in overtime on Nov. 5, 110-105: “They’ve got a lot of weapons, they’re experienced, they know how to work the game and they’re hard to guard. I think the thing that often gets overlooked with them is not only their individual greatness but their collective greatness and willingness to share with each other. … It puts enormous pressure on your defense. Your defense can’t get set, and that’s something we’re striving for.”
4. Miami (34-14): Heat forward LeBron James on Wednesday: “We’re way behind [the Celtics]. Just look at the number of games played, the number of playoff series those guys have had. We’re only a few months in together — 40-something-plus games. I’ve seen the statistics. Boston has like 250-plus games played together. We’re way behind those teams.” (via ESPN.com)
5. LA Lakers (34-15): Lakers coach Phil Jackson: “I personally don’t think [the Heat] can get by Boston. I think Boston is too good a team. I think a team is still going to win.” (via ESPN.com)
WALTHAM — Delonte West took another significant step in his attempt to return from a broken right wrist when he went through a full shootaround and skeleton practice with the Celtics on Thursday at their practice facility.
“He didn’t practice,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He just did the shootaround and the shooting and that’s about it.”
But Rivers acknowledged it was significant that West could take part in catch-and-shooting drills without any protection whatsoever on his wrist, broken on Nov. 24 in home game vs. New Jersey.
“That’s nice. He did run through all of our skeleton stuff so obviously, the next step will be him going through a practice,” said Rivers before adding that there is still no specific timetable for West to return to game action. “I have no idea. No time soon I don’t think but I’m not sure.”
|Doc Rivers makes his case for 4 Celtics as All-Stars||at 4:04 pm ET|
WALTHAM — After getting snubbed by the fans and being left without a single All-Star starter, the Celtics could get their retribution when All-Star reserves are announced Thursday night.
The Celtics have four viable candidates in Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. By virtue of having the top record in the Eastern Conference, Doc Rivers will have the honor of coaching the East All-Stars on Feb. 20 in Los Angeles.
“I think I should get four guys on the roster,” Rivers said following practice Thursday. “If I don’t, I’d be very disappointed and if I do, I’ll just play them all together. That way we can run offense in the All-Star Game. That’d be a first.”
The Detroit Pistons had four All-Stars on the Eastern squad in 2006 but it is very rare for one team – no matter how good their record – to place four players on a team.
“If it happens, and let’s hope it happens, then my choice will be who will be the fifth, Some interesting combinations you can throw out,” said Rivers, before adding who he might throw out onto the court with his four players.
“Whoever is closest to free agency just so they can see how it would feel. I think it should happen. It’s clear. It’d be nice. You look at the four guys, all of them have really sacrificed their individual numbers for team wins and sometimes that’s held against them and I hope it’s not in this case.”
|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).
|NBA Power Rankings, 1/27||01.27.11 at 5:38 pm ET|
1. San Antonio (39-7): It seems like every time I look at the NBA standings, the Spurs are 9-1 in their last 10 games. It’s ridiculous. According to John Hollinger’s playoff odds, San Antonio has a 78.1 percent chance of capturing the top seed out West and homecourt throughout the playoffs. Yet, their odds of making the Finals are just 27.3 percent, despite possessing the league’s best home record at 24-2. Strange.
2. Boston (34-10): The Celtics lost another game to a bad team when they fell to the Wizards over the weekend, but we’ll give them a break considering it was once again the result of playing on the road in the second game of a back-to-back following a plane trip. Losses to the Cavaliers, Rockets and Wizards are the only reason the C’s aren’t ranked No. 1, because no team has been better than them — when motivated.
3. LA Lakers (33-13): The silhouette of the NBA’s logo, former Lakers general manager Jerry West eased off his comments that the Lakers are too old to play defense (they’re ranked 10th in points allowed), but he didn’t back down from saying he wouldn’t want to play the Celtics every other night — calling the C’s the favorites over the Lakers to win the NBA title.
4. Miami (31-13): Speaking of predictions involving the Celtics and Lakers, Phil Jackson obviously chimed in, as he doesn’t believe the Heat can get by the Celtics to reach the NBA Finals. Considering the Celtics still own a 2-0 record against Miami (and it wasn’t even that close), how can you argue with Jackson? Especially after you watch some of the poses Chris Bosh gets into during his Maxim shoot.
5. Chicago (31-14): I figured the Bulls could be a top-five team once Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah were both healthy at the same time. It turns out Noah’s presence isn’t necessary for that to happen. Perhaps more important than homecourt advantage in the Celtics’ chase for the No. 1 seed is the fact that — as it stands now — they’d only have to face the Heat or Bulls and not both in the playoffs.
|Irish Coffee: Celtics less valuable than Lakers||at 12:10 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
According to Forbes Magazine’s latest valuations of all 30 NBA franchises, 17 teams hemorrhaged money over the last year — the highest number since the 1998-99 lockout — despite the fact that 24 of those 30 clubs generated at least $100 million in revenue.
Based on the numbers, the Celtics are the fourth most valuable franchise in the NBA. They generated $151 million in revenue while the franchise’s value rose 5 percent over the past year, yet they made just $4.2 million.
When the magazine released the same figures just over a year ago, the Celtics ranked as the eighth-most valuable franchise, generating less revenue but taking home almost $9 million more in income.
Despite the state of the U.S. economy, the average value of all 30 NBA franchises rose 1 percent since the magazine’s last valuations. However, the average team’s operating income fell 22 percent — to $6.1 million — “the lowest figure since the 2002-03 season.”
In the offseason, Amar’e Stoudemire and LeBron James altered the balance of NBA financial power. The Knicks’ worth increased 12 percent, dethroning the Lakers as the league’s most valuable franchise. Meanwhile, the Heat’s worth rose 17 percent, while the Cavaliers’ value fell 26 percent.
Here are the top five most valuable NBA franchises:
- 1. New York Knicks ($655 million)
- 2. Los Angeles Lakers ($643 million)
- 3. Chicago Bulls ($511 million)
- 4. Boston Celtics ($452 million)
- 5. Houston Rockets ($443 million)
After noting the surprising fact that the Pistons, who haven’t been able to find a proper suitor, are valued 13th, here are the five least valuable NBA franchises:
|Kendrick Perkins, NBA officials and how you know ‘Perk’s back’ for real||01.26.11 at 2:21 pm ET|
Memo to Kendrick Perkins: While you were gone from the NBA – impressively rehabbing your right knee – the league decided to give more power to the referees that officiate NBA games.
During their annual meeting last fall in Jersey City, N.J., the league’s officials, in conjunction with the league, announced new guidelines for technical fouls, including T’ing up any and all “overt” player reactions to calls.
Just because we’re here to help, here’s what NBA officials are on the lookout for in determining whether a player should be “T’d” up:
- Running directly at an official to complain about a call.
- Excessive inquiries about a call, even in a civilized tone.
- Players making aggressive gestures, such as air punches, anywhere on the court.
- Demonstrative disagreement, such as when a player incredulously raises his hands, or smacks his own arm to demonstrate how he was fouled.
This season, refs have also been instructed to consider technicals on players who use body language to question or demonstrate displeasure. Additionally, officials can also consider techs on players who “take the long path to the official,” i.e., walking across the court to make their case.
So, what would a return to NBA game action be without Perk testing out those new limits?
He did just that in the first half when he was called for a personal foul and raised his arms and scowled that trademark “Perk Scowl”. But apparently, he mellowed during physical therapy. He stopped short of getting a tech. Last season, Perk was called for seven technicals in the playoffs alone, but the second one in Game 5 against the Magic in the Eastern Conference finals was rescinded by the league, thus he avoided suspension.
If a player accumulates 16 in a regular season, he draws an automatic one-game suspension. Perk has a long way to go to approach that.
“He’s going to get a tech soon,” coach Doc Rivers smiled and laughed after Tuesday’s win over Cleveland. “Yeah, we’ll see I think because he started so late he can’t get to the number. So I think we’re safe there because at the end of the day Perk’s going to be Perk. I mean, he almost ran after the guy the one time. And I was thinking, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Perk’s back.’ That’s the whole bench; when he did it the bench started laughing, saying ‘Perk’s back.’ I’m thinking we have a cushion.” Read the rest of this entry »