|Fast Break: Perkins, Celtics hand Cavs 18th straight loss||01.25.11 at 9:55 pm ET|
In his first action since Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals, Kendrick Perkins came off the bench to a standing ovation and contributed seven points and six rebounds in just over 17 minutes during a 112-95 blowout of the Cavaliers Tuesday night in Boston.
The Celtics (34-10) projected Perkins would play 12-15 minutes in his return, but he exceeded expectations all night. Of course, it helped that the C’s were playing Cleveland (8-37), losers of 18 straight.
Paul Pierce netted 24 points in just 23:58 on the floor. Shortly after coming down awkwardly on a shot attempt and moving gingerly on his right leg up and down the floor a few times, he exited the game with 5:30 remaining in the third quarter.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Perk’s return: Even in a rusty 15 minutes a night, Perkins makes a huge difference in the Celtics lineup — especially with both Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal sidelined with leg injuries and the team in desperate need of big bodies.
Just under four minutes into the game, with starter Semih Erden picking up his second foul in the first 3:58, the Celtics turned to Perkins. And 35 seconds later, after a standing ovation, Perkins proved himself, converting a layup plus the foul. He ran the floor and hit the boards hard on both ends of the floor — a cruel reminder of what might have been had he played Game 7 of the finals last season.
Pierce starts fierce: Playing the entire first quarter, Pierce knocked down 6-of-8 shots to score 17 of the team’s 34 points in the opening 12 minutes. During that span, he also exchanged words with Cleveland’s Joey Graham, whoever that is.
The Celtics captain scored 24 points by halftime and left the game midway through the third quarter. He stayed on the bench for the rest of the game, without treatment, so there should be little concern about his slight limp before his exit.
The bench showed up: Given his recent struggles, the Celtics had to be pleased to see Nate Robinson knock down 3-of-8 3-point attempts. He led the charge, as the C’s got at least seven points from all five available guys off the bench (including Perkins). Glen Davis (11 points) and Von Wafer (10) also reached double figures.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Slow start on defense: Allowing the worst team in the league to score 26 first-quarter points and shoot 53 percent from the field for the opening 12 minutes isn’t what the Celtics were looking for when they welcomed the Cavaliers to town.
Cleveland actually owned a 23-21 lead late in the first quarter. It took a 21-5 that stretched into the middle of the second quarter for the Celtics to take control.
‘Big Baby’ not a happy camper: When Glen Davis picked up his second foul with seven minutes to play in the half, he let his frustration be known as he returned to the bench. After he was whistled for a third personal a few minutes later, the referees heard it from louder this time — as he picked up a technical, too.
Not much: When the game is in control from the early portion of the second quarter on, and the Celtics cruised to victory, it’d be nitpicking to find too much wrong with their effort … other than Pierce’s rendition of Enrique Iglesias‘ “I Like It” on the Jumbotron. Then again, Enrique Iglesias’ version isn’t much better.
|Welcome back, Kendrick Perkins||at 8:06 pm ET|
After missing the first 43 games of the season rehabbing a torn ACL in his right knee, Kendrick Perkins took the court for the first time with his Celtics teammates on Tuesday night as they played the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Perkins injured the knee in the first half of Game 6 of the 2010 NBA finals in Los Angeles as the Celtics – without their starting center and defensive, shot-blocking presence in the low post – lost Games 6 and 7, falling just short of a record-18th NBA title.
Three different players – Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erden – have started at center this season and while Perkins is coming off the bench, his return Tuesday certainly bolsters the depth at that position.
Shaq had started 17 straight and 33 overall before injuring his right hip on Friday against the Jazz. Erden has started the last two and now six overall. Jermaine O’Neal has started the remaining five times in the low post.
Doc Rivers would not commit to when Perk will eventually return to the starting lineup and until then, it’s likely to be Erden getting most of the minutes.
Perkins returned to game action with 8:02 left in the first quarter when Erden picked up two quick fouls. He lasted until 2:37 left, giving him five minutes, 25 seconds of continuous action. He collected a lay-up, missed a free throw, grabbed a rebound, dished out two assists and picked up a foul.
|Irish Coffee: Celtics succeed one possession at a time||at 1:58 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Over the weekend, I stumbled across a New York Times article that claimed Derrick Rose is a better defender than Rajon Rondo, based on the individual statistical analysis of points allowed per possession:
Rose has allowed just 0.77 points per possession overall on defense this season, an elite mark for any defender, regardless of position. Chris Paul (0.86 points per possession allowed), Rajon Rondo (0.83 PPP allowed), and Russell Westbrook (0.92 PPP allowed) ‘- all excellent defenders -‘ have been trumped statistically this year, and by no slim margin. Rose has each of those players handily beat, and boasts a shockingly comprehensive defensive profile.
My natural reaction: How do I get my hands on these points per possession (PPP) statistics? It turns out Synergy Sports Technology tracks every possession — offensively and defensively — for every NBA player. On both sides of the ball, a team or player’s possessions are broken down into 11 categories: 1. isolations, 2. pick-and-rolls (ball-handler), 3. post-ups, 4. pick-and-rolls (roll man), 5. spot-ups, 6. off screens, 7. handoffs, 8. cuts, 9. offensive rebounds, 10. transitions and 11. all other plays.
Obviously, a player’s PPP offensively doesn’t account for the quality of the pass he’s receiving or the look he’s getting, but it’s a great tool to determine how well he’s performing overall and on which plays he’s succeeding.
Likewise, a player’s PPP allowed defensively doesn’t account for the quality of his help defense or who he’s defending, but it’s an accurate representation of whether or not he’s stopping his assignment as well as on what plays he’s being beaten.
Let’s first break down how efficient the Celtics have been offensively as a team; the first number is where they rank in the league in terms of PPP, and the percentage reflects how often they run each play:
|What makes Ray Allen a 3-point shooting machine? Here’s a video clue||01.24.11 at 6:02 pm ET|
WALTHAM — There’s a reason Ray Allen is regarded as one of the best pure shooters in NBA history: Practice, and lots of it.
Allen’s regiment for shooting nearly matches the same for his conditioning. Allen will spend 45 minutes or longer following practice, just practicing catching and shooting from long range. He’ll usually shoot from both baselines, both wings and from the top of the key. (In the video, he is taking passes from Celtics assistant coach Tyronn Lue.)
Allen enters Tuesday night’s game vs. Cleveland needing just 24 3-pointers to pass Reggie Miller (2,560) for first on the all-time list.
He is on pace for 180 this season, which would match his total in 2008, his first season in Boston. Now in his 15th season, Allen has led the NBA in 3-pointers three times in his career, each time passing the 200-mark for a season.
Allen set the all-time single-season NBA record for 3’s in a season when he drained 269 of them in 2005-06 with Seattle, two more than Dennis Scott with the Magic 10 years earlier.
This year, Allen is fifth in both 3-pointers made at 93 through 43 games and 3-point percentage at .452.
WALTHAM — Saturday night’s loss to the lowly Washington Wizards was the latest bad loss in a season filled with plenty of wins, according to Doc Rivers. The Celtics coach was asked to explain how his team could lose to a team like the Wizards, which came in with just 13 wins.
“Obviously, if you look at the whole season, it’s been a terrific season so far,” Rivers said following Monday’s practice. “But in that terrific season, we’ve had some bad losses, too. And I tell our guys that. Some of the teams that have beaten us are under .500 and those are tough losses for a team that shouldn’t lose those games. Moral lessons learned and we’ve just got to keep teaching them.”
The Celtics have lost 10 games and one of those losses came to the Cavaliers, one night after the C’s beat Miami in the season-opener. Cleveland comes to TD Garden on Tuesday having lost 16 straight and Rivers said he’s not taking them lightly, and doesn’t expect his players to, either.
“Cleveland beat us once already this year,” Rivers said. “For us, I rarely worry about the opponent, I worry about ourselves. When we play right, I think it gives us an excellent chance to win games. And when we don’t anyone can beat us and that’s been proven this year.”
WALTHAM – Doc Rivers said it’s likely that Shaquille O’Neal will miss his second straight game on Tuesday night with a sore right hip. But the Celtics coach added, after O’Neal missed practice on Monday, that there’s a chance the 38-year-old center could miss part of the upcoming four-game West Coast trip to Portland, Phoenix, Los Angeles (Lakers) and Sacramento.
“[O'Neal] probably will not play [Tuesday] and maybe [return] on the West Coast trip but he may miss that trip,” Rivers said Monday. “We don’t know yet.”
The team doesn’t want O’Neal to play in back-to-back games and they would also rather not have him on the long flight to Portland. One scenario for O’Neal is to have him join the team in Phoenix for Friday’s game against the Suns.
O’Neal and Marquis Daniels (family issue) both missed practice on Monday. The Celtics host the Cavaliers on Tuesday at TD Garden. Cleveland has lost 16 straight while the Celtics are playing their last home game until Feb. 4 against Dallas.
|Irish Coffee: ‘The Association’ observations||at 11:36 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Episode 2 of “The Association: Boston Celtics” aired on Friday night, and like the first episode, it was a must-watch for any Celtics fan. Once again, there was a lot to take from the behind-the-scenes documentary. Here’s a rundown of the highlights:
- Even in early December, Jermaine O’Neal was rubbing some serious ointment on his knee.
- Doc Rivers‘ leash on Rajon Rondo can wrap around the TD Garden. With Rondo on the floor stretching his hamstring during game action, Rivers was asking him if he needed a blow.
- Paul Pierce plays defense on Kevin Garnett like Mike Tyson played defense against Peter McNeeley — by knocking his head around.
- Ray Allen: “At some point, somebody’s going to say, ‘Well, you guys are too old, and it’s time for you to go.’ But we all have too much competitve nature and fierceness to even show any weakness.”
- Pierce’s leadership during the eight-man practice was great to see. Rivers called the Celtics captain “more focused” as opposed to more vocal. And Pierce believes the C’s can still “whoop some ass” despite all the injuries.
- Rivers: “We’ve got a group of guys who lost in a Game 7, and they understand that it’s going to be hard to get back to that. We’re dealing with a ton of injuries, so we’re going to need all hands on deck.”
- This episode really personalizes Luke Harangody’s season with the Celtics, and the portion where he compares joining this C’s team to fitting in on the first day of high school is probably the best portion of the show.
- Earlier this season, Kendrick Perkins claimed to be working on a mid-range jumper, and he was indeed working on it during filming.
- Shaquille O’Neal broke out a portion of my all-time favorite line of his: “A hero ain’t nothing but a sandwich.” The original quote — which he delivered after a 2004 game-winning dunk against the Rockets in the playoffs — ended with, “and I’m trying to give up carbohydrates.”
- Glen Davis‘ pregame meal? Spaghetti and pancakes, of course.
- Allen arrives at the gym four hours before tipoff to work on his shooting. A friend pointed out over the weekend that, based on his production in games and his work ethic around them, Allen may have made more 3-pointers in his lifetime than any other human being alive. As for the official NBA record? He’s 23 shy of Reggie Miller‘s record.
- The shot Shaq made while he was sitting on the bench was fairly ridiculous.
- Sam Jones: “They have a sense of playing like the Celtics of old. They know they have a chance of getting that NBA championship, but they must do it together.”
- Was that Rondo in the background at Allen’s family Christmas? And was he wearing his warmups? I’m pretty sure he was.
- Pierce: “We know we’re a great team, but we can’t win a championship without Kevin Garnett. He’s the one most important piece to the puzzle.”