|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 »
|Doc Rivers and Paul Pierce know this West Coast trip is big||at 10:15 am ET|
Every year, Doc Rivers takes a look at the schedule and he has the chance – along with the team – to petition the league for a change or two. And without fail, it always seems the Celtics try to get part of their two West Coast trips altered to help with rest on the road.
Last summer, he took one look at late January and thought to himself the first trip out West will be a real bear. They start Thursday in Portland, playing one day later – and one time zone backward – in Phoenix. Then they play an afternoon game 36 hours later back in LA against the Lakers before wrapping up next Wednesday in Sacramento.
Sure, they’re bonding experiences for the team but a little more time bonding and a little more rest would certainly be appreciated.
“I don’t really look forward to them but I know they’re coming,” Rivers said. “It’ll be a good one for us, tough teams, all tough in their buildings. The only thing I don’t like about this trip is the travel in games so quickly. Traveling to Portland and playing a game the next day is brutal.
“And then you fly backwards to Phoenix where you lose an hour and then you play LA in a one o’clock game. That’s a lot of games. We get our schedules before the season starts, before [public] gets them. We have a chance to change games. This is one trip we actually really tried to get changed. We just wanted another day. They said, ‘No.’”
Last season when the Celtics went out West in February to play the Kings, Lakers and Trail Blazers, they swept all three games before losing at Denver in the finale. Now, starting Thursday at the Rose Garden in Portland, they will play those three teams again with a trip to Phoenix thrown in as the second game of the four-game swing. Read the rest of this entry »
|Ray Allen: ‘We’ve been less than ourselves’ without Kendrick Perkins||01.25.11 at 11:49 pm ET|
Following Kendrick Perkins‘ early return to the Celtics lineup, just about everybody was asked about the team’s 26-year-old center, and Ray Allen — dressed in a Shaft-like leather jacket and a sweater that went up to his nose — was no different.
“We’ve kind of been less than ourselves over the last three or fourth months, just waiting,” said Allen of Perkins’ absence this season. “We’ve had great success with the guys we’ve been using, but we haven’t had the lineup that’s been consistent here over the last three and a half years, when we’ve been successful and won some big games, including the championship. So, it’s great to see him back out on the floor, and it just makes us that much stronger.”
The vibe in the Celtics locker room felt different after the team disposed of the Cavaliers, 112-95, and it’s because, like Jerry Maguire, Perkins completes them.
“When he went down, obviously eyes around the world were on him,” added Allen. “Everybody felt a little sympathy for us, because we weren’t whole. Him coming back has a great symbolism to it, because we know what we’re trying to get back to.”
Perkins’ return was a reminder of how close the Celtics came to winning another NBA title last season before he went down with his ACL injury in Game 6 of the finals, especially considering his six rebounds in 17 minutes on Tuesday night.
And before the C’s get back to where they want to go, they’ll have another reminder of that Game 7 loss when they visit the Staples Center for the first time since to take on the Lakers on Sunday afternoon. But Allen’s blocking that from his memory.
“I’d like that to sneak up on me,” he said, “and just not think about it.”
Kendrick Perkins was the happiest person in the Garden on Tuesday night as he made a successful return to game action in 16 minutes of the Celtics‘ 112-95 romp over the Cavaliers. Perkins came in with 8:02 left in the first quarter to replace Semih Erden and played his first five minutes of the season.
Perkins – who had reconstructive ACL surgery on his right knee – scored seven points and grabbed six rebounds in his first game since injuring the knee in Game 6 of the NBA finals last June.
“I’ve got to play a few more games first. I surprised myself on a few plays today, just finishing, a couple rebounds, it felt real good,” he said. “I know I can do better, I could do more. I was mad at myself, I didn’t block any shots today. I was little winded and little off-key. I’ll get better.”
Perkins also admitted he was very tired after the game since he didn’t sleep on Monday night because he was so excited. He spent a good portion of the night in Waltham at the team’s practice facility.
“I didn’t sleep [Monday] night,” Perkins added. “I actually left the gym [Tuesday] morning about 1 o’clock and went to the gym [Monday] night at 10 so that’s probably why I’m tired right now.”
He certainly got the wake-up call when Doc Rivers called out “Perk!” after Semih Erden picked up two fouls in the first four minutes Tuesday.
‘I thought he was terrific,” Rivers said. “I thought as the game went on his timing got better. I thought defensively he was terrific from the start. Just communication, we were loud again defensively which was nice. You could hear him and Kevin [Garnett] barking orders defensively and that makes us really good.’
Rivers is not expecting to throw Perk back into the starting lineup just because he felt good running up and down the court – and especially not against the likes of the Trail Blazers, Suns and Lakers.
‘It’s the same, about the same amount of minutes,” Rivers said, referring to the 16 he played Tuesday. “He actually probably played one or two more minutes than we anticipated. He wanted to stay in. But I think that’ll be it for a while, between 16 and 18 minutes.’
But the best compliment Rivers paid Perk was about his work ethic, the one trait that explains his remarkable return – like Wes Welker – just seven months after blowing out his ACL.
“That was awesome,” Rivers said of the 20-second standing ovation as Perkins made his way to the scorer’s table for the first time. “Listen, there’s people in the crowd that work hard every day, blue collar, and Perk identifies with all those people. If you are a guy that works 9-5, you’ve got to love Perk because that’s who he is.’
And no, there were no references to feet by Perk in his post-game address to reporters. Well, at least he’s off on the right foot.