|Cosmic relief: Bill Russell’s effect on Brad Stevens||08.29.13 at 11:36 am ET|
Sports Illustrated’s profile of Celtics coach Brad Stevens is fantastic for many reasons, particularly the portions about his complex defensive schemes and in-game offensive adjustments, but one cosmic detail stands above all others: Bill Russell‘s team-first philosophy had a profound effect on Stevens.
In Stevens’s first year at Butler, then assistant and future coach Todd Lickliter would introduce Stevens to Bill Russell’s book Russell Rules: 11 Lessons on Leadership from the Twentieth Century’s Greatest Winner. In it Russell sets forth the concept of “team ego,” writing, “I was the most egotistical player they would ever meet. My ego is not a personal ego, it’s a team ego. My ego demands — for myself — the success of my team.”
Stevens says, “You have a choice to make when you’re not playing: Either you’re invested and a great teammate, or you’re not. There were times, early on, where I wasn’t a great teammate. It’s a difficult concept, learning the we over me attitude. I’m glad I got to that point, because it really helped me as a coach.”
Good stuff from Sports Illustrated. Be sure to read the article in its entirety here.
|What would a full Avery Bradley season look like?||08.28.13 at 10:59 am ET|
Like so many of his Celtics teammates this season, Avery Bradley is an X Factor.
Of course, losing a game to a few teenage girls after presenting New Hampshire’s Barker-Jobin family with a new basketball court courtesy of RE/MAX of New England probably isn’t the best sign of what’s to come.
“Yeah, the girls beat me at knockout,” Bradley joked. “That’s OK, though. I’m not used to this hoop.”
Whether it was the ankle injury that delayed his rookie year, Doc Rivers‘ reluctance to “play the kids” or the shoulder injury that cut his already lockout-shortened sophomore season even shorter, leaving him sidelined until January of this past season, we’ve never seen a complete Avery Bradley season.
“Most of the time, every summer for me has just been watching film or just going to watch people play, but this whole summer I’ve bee playing every single day,” said Bradley, who has added 16 pounds of muscle to the 180-pound frame he entered the NBA with in 2010. “I think I took three weeks off. My girlfriend kept telling me, ‘You need a break; you need to rest.’ But I was so excited to get back on the court and I’ve been here in Boston for two months, working out every day for two-a-days. Me, Jared [Sullinger] and some of the younger guys.”
Bradley may now be the second most tenured Celtics player behind Rajon Rondo, but at age 22 he’s still one of those younger guys. And if he ever combines his 2011-12 offensive game — 72 percent shooting (18-25) on right corner 3-pointers and 71 assisted buckets inside of 5 feet — with the on-ball defense that earned him an Second Team All-Defense bid last season, the Celtics could stack their backcourt up against the NBA’s best.
|Jared Sullinger hopes Rajon Rondo returns by December||08.26.13 at 10:59 am ET|
Appearing on Ohio’s “Good Day Columbus,” Jared Sullinger offered a different timeline for Rajon Rondo‘s return than the one Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has stuck to since Rondo’s ACL injury.
“He’s back working out again and hopefully he’ll be back by December,” said Sullinger (h/t MassLive.com).
Both Ainge and new Celtics coach Brad Stevens have consistently indicated that Rondo is on target to be in the starting lineup when the 2013-14 NBA season begins in Toronto on Oct. 30. That isn’t out of the question, considering Rondo suffered a partial tear in his right knee on Jan. 25 and fellow guards Iman Shumpert and Ricky Rubio have returned in similar timeframes. Derrick Rose, obviously, is a different story.
Was this a slip of the tongue by Sullinger? Possibly. He’s told the media in recent months that he’s been in fairly close contact with Rondo ever since their season-ending injuries occurred less than a week apart.
As for Sullinger’s own recovery from season-ending back surgery, he sounded optimistic about his return, yet reluctant to reclaim the starting power forward position he assumed just prior to his injury.
“I’m doing great,” he added. “I work out every day, five days a week. I’m just trying to strengthen up my core and my back. That was the first month. After that, it was full go, back to working out again on the court.”
You’ve also got to love Sullinger’s reaction to the host’s mention of Kris Humphries. Just straight laughing.
|Irish Coffee: Meet the new Celtics coaching staff||08.22.13 at 12:32 pm ET|
The Celtics announced the finalization of their coaching staff for the 2013-14 NBA season, completing a two-month overhaul of the staff since trading Doc Rivers to the Clippers for an unprotected first-round pick in 2015.
The C’s surrounded coach Brad Stevens with new assistants Ron Adams, Micah Shrewsbury and Walter McCarty, who join holdovers Jamie Young and Jay Larranaga from Rivers’ staff last season.
“I am really excited about our assistant coaching staff that we have here in Boston,” said Stevens. “In this group, we have successfully assembled a passionate, intelligent, hard-working, and humble staff with a diverse set of experiences in coaching. We are all eager to get to work with this year’s team, and take great pride in being a part of the Boston Celtics organization.”
So, who exactly are these guys?
BRAD STEVENS: By all accounts, he’s a brilliant young basketball mind who led the unheralded Butler program to back-to-back NCAA title games. That much was evident in our half-hour discussion on the Green Street podcast. A calm demeanor, fierce competitive streak and in-depth statistical analysis guided his process-oriented approach that consistently produced steady improvement over the course of a season. Ever aware of the historical evidence against college coaches succeeding at the NBA level, he’s smart enough to know that what worked collegiately doesn’t necessarily translate to the pros.
“There’s a minimum level of ability that goes into making this thing successful anyway,” Stevens said last month. “All the other intangibles are certainly extremely important and maybe give you an advantage in a low possession game, so you have to have that minimum level of talent, and you coach to those intangibles the best you can.”
RON ADAMS: For the past three seasons, Adams served under former Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau on a Bulls team that generated a .683 winning percentage. A defensive guru, Adams began coaching his alma mater Fresno Pacific University before Stevens was even a zygote in 1972 and has served as an assistant on five NBA benches since 1992, providing the experience necessary after the Celtics hired a 36-year-old head coach.
|It appears Jeff Green can still dunk||08.19.13 at 12:09 pm ET|
The NBA recently released a highlight reel of the Top 10 Celtics plays from the 2012-13 NBA season, and four of them involved Jeff Green at the rim. Then, over the weekend, Green participated in Jamal Crawford’s Pro Am in Seattle and unleashed another fury of dunks (h/t Red’s Army). Apparently, Jeff Green can dunk. Who knew?
Remember the “better without Rajon Rondo” contingent that cited the point guard’s absence as the reason for Green’s emergence? Those were the days. Anyway, Green coexisted just fine with Kyrie Irving, Tony Wroten and Abdul Gaddy in this exhibition. If nothing else, the Top 10 Celtics plays from 2013-14 should be pretty special.
|Nobody chills quite like Prince Paul Pierce chills||at 11:47 am ET|
Me and Prince chillin at the pool pic.twitter.com/cUoXHOrkCJ
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) August 17, 2013
Seriously, should the Celtics start tanking now for Prince Paul Pierce in the 2033 NBA draft?
|Irish Coffee: Does Rajon Rondo guarantee playoffs?||08.14.13 at 12:00 pm ET|
In this golden age of point guards, a handful of guys have established themselves as perennial All-Stars over the past five years: Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and Rajon Rondo.
Sure, there’s the old guard (Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Chauncey Billups), the new kids on the block (Kyrie Irving, Jrue Holiday, John Wall) and the occasional Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris or Mo Williams in the mix, but those six are consistently at the top. “What the hell is he getting at?” you ask. Well, for starters, this.
Each time one of those six guys submitted an All-Star season, their respective teams qualified for the playoffs in 18 of 21 opportunities. Those three exceptions: Paul missed the second half of the season with a knee injury in 2010, Williams was traded midseason in 2011 and then he coasted through a truly awful Nets season in 2012.
Of course, four members of that Nets team that finished 22-44 with Williams at the helm (Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans) are members of this year’s edition of the Celtics with Rondo, but still …
RAJON RONDO (2010-13 NBA All-Star)
2009-10 Celtics: 50-32 (NBA finals)
2010-11 Celtics: 56-26 (conference semifinals)
2011-12 Celtics: 39-27 (conference finals)
2012-13 Celtics: 41-40 (first round)*
*Rondo played just 38 games due to injury
CHRIS PAUL (2008-13 NBA All-Star)
2007-08 Hornets: 56-26 (conference semifinals)
2008-09 Hornets: 49-33 (first round)
2009-10 Hornets: 37-45 (did not qualify)*
2010-11 Hornets: 46-36 (first round)
2011-12 Clippers: 40-26 (conference semifinals)
2012-13 Clippers: 56-26 (first round)
*Paul played just 45 games due to injury
DERRICK ROSE (2010-12 NBA All-Star)
2009-10 Bulls: 41-41 (first round)
2010-11 Bulls: 62-20 (conference finals)
2011-12 Bulls: 50-16 (first round)*
*Rose suffered season-ending injury in playoffs
DERON WILLIAMS (2009-12 NBA All-Star)
2008-09 Jazz: 48-34 (first round)
2009-10 Jazz: 53-29 (conference semifinals)
2010-11 Jazz: 39-43 (did not qualify)*
2010-11 Nets: 24-58 (did not qualify)*
2011-12 Nets: 22-44 (did not qualify)
*Williams traded midway through 2010-11 season
RUSSELL WESTBROOK (2011-13 NBA All-Star)
2010-11 Thunder: 55-27 (conference finals)
2011-12 Thunder: 47-19 (NBA finals)
2012-13 Thunder: 60-22 (conference semifinals)*
*Westbrook suffered season-ending injury in playoffs
TONY PARKER (2006-07, 2009, 2012-13 NBA All-Star)
2005-06 Spurs: 63-19 (conference semifinals)
2006-07 Spurs: 58-24 (NBA champions)
2008-09 Spurs: 54-28 (first round)
2011-12 Spurs: 50-16 (conference finals)
2012-13 Spurs: 58-24 (NBA finals)
That .628 winning percentage (1,229-727) is hard to ignore, especially since it also applies to the old guard, whose teams owned a near identical 1,234-718 record (.632) and qualified for the playoffs in 21 of 23 chances.
JASON KIDD (1996, 1998, 2000-04, 2007-08, 2010 NBA All-Star)
1995-96 Mavericks: 26-56 (did not qualify)
1997-98 Suns: 56-26 (first round)
1999-2000 Suns: 53-29 (conference semifinals)
2000-01 Nets: 51-31 (first round)
2001-02 Nets: 52-30 (NBA finals)
2002-03 Nets: 49-33 (NBA finals)
2003-04 Nets: 47-35 (conference semifinals)
2006-07 Nets: 41-41 (conference semifinals)
2007-08 Nets: 34-48 (did not qualify)*
2007-08 Mavericks: 51-31 (first round)*
2009-10 Mavericks: 55-27 (first round)
*Kidd traded midway through 2007-08 season
STEVE NASH (2002-03, 2005-08, 2010, 2012 NBA All-Star)
2001-02 Mavericks: 57-25 (conference semifinals)
2002-03 Mavericks: 60-22 (conference finals)
2004-05 Suns: 62-20 (conference finals)
2005-06 Suns: 54-28 (conference finals)
2006-07 Suns: 61-21 (conference semifinals)
2007-08 Suns: 55-27 (first round)
2009-10 Suns: 54-28 (conference finals)
2011-12 Suns: 33-33 (did not qualify)
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS (2006-10 NBA All-Star)
2005-06 Pistons: 64-18 (conference finals)
2006-07 Pistons: 53-29 (conference finals)
2007-08 Pistons: 59-23 (conference finals)
2008-09 Nuggets: 54-28 (conference finals)*
2009-10 Nuggets: 53-29 (first round)
*Billups traded three games into 2008-09 season
Sure, plenty of other factors went into the success of their teams. For one, they often featured names like Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce or Carmelo Anthony. But the Hornets, Bulls and Jazz teams respectively led by Paul, Rose and Williams — or even Kidd’s Nets and Billups’ Pistons — didn’t feature another superstar talent.
Quite simply, based on recent history, if Rondo submits an All-Star caliber season, the Celtics have roughly a 90 percent chance of making the playoffs. Or they could just be the 2012 Nets 2.0.
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