|The strong and sensitive Delonte West||11.17.10 at 11:35 pm ET|
Shaquille O’Neal has a lot of faith in Delonte West, who made his long-awaited return to the court Wednesday night in the Celtics‘ rout of the Wizards at TD Garden. After all, he played last year with him in Cleveland.
“I learned that you guys think he’s crazy but he’s not,” O’Neal said. “Not at all. I could handle him. We always have conversations about the game. He’s very smart. He’s just misunderstood at times.”
West was a very grateful man Wednesday night. And he wore his emotion on his sleeve. He was eligible to play in an NBA game for the first time since serving a league-mandated 10-game suspension for off-court misconduct involving firearms and a motorcycle in the summer of 2009.
With that behind him – and with the faith and support of his teammates and Celtics management – he entered the game as a sub for Ray Allen with 3:12 left in the first quarter. He was nervous as if he were a rookie making his NBA debut.
“It brought a tear to my eye,” West said of the loud ovation he received from the crowd, many on their feet in support.
Then West was brought back to earth by Washington’s Nick Young.
“Then Nick Young hit three shots in my face, and that dried up my tears real quick.”
West had the ideal scenario to return to the court on Wednesday night and he took advantage, scoring 12 points, grabbing five rebounds and handing out four assists to lead the bench in Boston’s 114-83 win over the Washington Wizards at TD Garden.
“Any game is perfect for me,” West said. “I just want to be back helping out. I’m so excited to be back. Thankful to the lord for this second opportunity and I’ll make the best out of it.’
After playing in practice and in the preseason with the team, West was making his official debut back in a Celtics uniform after serving a 10-game NBA-imposed suspension for off-court misconduct. The Celtics gave the once-troubled guard one more chance, signing him shortly after Minnesota waived him in the summer.
‘It felt great,” West said. “For a minute there in the summertime I thought I wouldn’t see an NBA court again. I thank the Lord, ownership here, the coaching staff, and Danny Ainge. They know what I am about. I’m just blessed to have this opportunity to do what I love to do. They knew the difference between a bad decision and a bad person. I’m just blessed to have this opportunity to do what I love to do.”
West made his debut when he replaced Ray Allen with 3:12 left in the first quarter and Celtics coach Doc Rivers said it was only natural that he showed some initial rust but not for long as West found his rhythm, finding Paul Pierce for an open three on the right wing, a three Pierce drilled to give West his first stat in his first game back – an assist.
‘I didn’t want to do too much,” West admitted. “Sometimes not doing too much is what the team needs you to do. The second unit responded well in the second half. The first half, our timing was just off. Marquis [Daniels] missed a few practices, I’m getting back into the mix. We’re just trying to adjust to playing with one another. Biggest thing is we got the victory. Other kinks we’ll work out.’
He played 21 minutes in his first Celtics game since being dealt to Seattle following the 2006-07 season.
‘In the first half, I just wanted to get my feet wet,” West said. “I noticed that my timing was off a little bit. Guys that know me, I don’t really force much. I let the game come to me. With that second unit sometimes you got to force the flow. When you’re up 20 or 15, it’s hard to go out and want to be aggressive. You want to maintain the lead and give the starters some rest.’
|Celtics’ Glen Davis taking charge||at 10:56 pm ET|
“A wise man once told me a pig sacrifices more than a chicken,” said Davis. “I just want to be a pig.”
The statistic isn’t officially tracked by the NBA, but Davis is lobbying for it, arguing that they work two ways — turning the ball over in your favor and giving the opposing team an additional foul.
“They keep track of how many shots of yours you get blocked, don’t they?” said Davis, who contributed two points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals in the win. “I think I led the league in that one year. So, why not charges?”
Big Baby said he learned how to take a charge from former teammate James Posey during the 2007-08 season. According to Davis, the key to the charge is deception — making opponents believe you’re going to foul them and holding your ground in the final moment (“I look at my feet every time”). It’s that timing in addition to his knowledge of help defense, the team’s rotations and thier scouting reports that have led to Davis’ success in that area.
“I don’t like to flop,” said Davis. “When I take a charge, somebody is going to have to run into me.”
Davis said it took a week to fully shake off a charge he took against the Dallas Mavericks‘ Caron Butler. So, do they all hurt that much?
“All of them do,” said Davis. “There’s not one that does not hurt. But every one is worth it. The only one that’s not is the one where I get hit in the gonads.”
Just don’t hit the pig in the gonads. Got that everybody?
|Fast Break: Celtics beat the Wiz||at 9:55 pm ET|
All five Celtics starters reached double figures as the Celtics built a 20-point lead early in the third quarter and coasted to a 114-83 victory over the John Wall-less Washington Wizards at the TD Garden on Tuesday night.
Paul Pierce scored a game-high 23 points while Kevin Garnett added 18 points and seven boards and Delonte West netted 12 points off the bench in his return to lead the Celtics (9-2) to a 65 percent shooting night.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
1. Hot shooting: Despite looking sluggish defensively in the early going, the Celtics hit their first six shots and made 15-of19 on the offensive end in the first quarter. And they didn’t let up for the rest of the night.
In all, the Celtics starters shot 71 percent (35-of-49) from the field. Pierce’s 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting — including a trio of 3-pointers — led the effort, as the C’s grabbed a 33-25 lead in the first 12 minutes, stretched it to 16 at the half, 20 after three and as much as 37 in the fourth quarter.
2. Vintage Shaq: Showing signs of the player who made 14 straight All-Star Games, Shaquille O’Neal grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds in a swarm of three Wizards, gathered himself and nearly took down the rim with a dunk over all three of them.
Forced into more playing time than usual because of Semih Erden‘s four personal fouls in his first six minutes of action, O’Neal totaled 13 points and six rebounds in his first 16 minutes on the floor. By the time he cooled off, the Celtics had already built a 20-point lead and were coasting to victory.
3. Welcome back, Delonte: Within a minute of his re-debut, Delonte West worked his way under the basket, drew a defender and found an open Pierce for 3. It was skilled, smart basketball — exactly the type of play the C’s are hoping to get all season long from the backup guard.
West had a personal 5-0 run against the Wizards in the fourth quarter, giving him 12 points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal and a block on the night. Not bad for a guy coming off a 10-game suspension.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG
1. Boxing out: Sounds easy enough, but the Celtics apparently didn’t feel like doing it in the first half. On one play, the C’s ran up the court, leaving the ball behind for the Wizards to clean up and score an easy bucket.
The C’s actually out-rebounded the Wizards on the night, 40-36, but 18 of Washington’s 36 boards came on the offensive glass. Javale McGee led the effort, grabbing six offensive boards and 10 total.
2. Semih awkward: After showing flashes of brilliance in his first 10 games, Semih Erden fell back to earth a bit against the Wizards. Facing a tough interior defender in Javale McGee, Erden got into early foul trouble, picking up four personals in his first six minutes on the floor.
It may have been his nagging shoulder bothering him, but Erden (3 turnovers) didn’t seem to have the sure hands that made him so effective in his first 10 appearances.
With that being said, his ability to score inside and knock down free throws put nine points on the board for the Celtics.
3. All quiet on the West front: This one falls more on the Celtics crowd. After playing for some woeful teams in Boston and being traded as part of the deal that brought Ray Allen — and subsequently an NBA championship — to the city three years ago, Delonte West returned to the Garden in a Celtics uniform on Wednesday night.
Yet, when West entered the game, the crowd reacted as if Lester Hudson was returning to the building (which he did), giving a half-hearted ovation. They cheered louder when the Noise Meter popped up on the Jumbotron.
Generally, Boston crowds deliver in those moments — one reason they’re considered great fans — but they missed the boat on that one.
|Irish Coffee: How the (Delonte) West has won||at 11:38 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Regardless of the weapons charges, his subsequent suspension, his reported scuffle with Von Wafer, the only thing that matters now is this: Does Delonte West‘s presence in the lineup make the Celtics a better team?
Since the Celtics traded him to Seatte three years ago, West played 185 games for the SuperSonics and Cleveland Cavaliers. In the same three seassons, those teams played a total of 143 games without him in the lineup — giving us a nice sample size to measure his value to a team. The results are fairly decisive …
With West: 117-68 (.632 winning percentage)
Without West: 75-68 (.525 winning percentage)
(NOTE: Because West was traded from Seattle to Cleveland midway through the 2007-08 season, those teams played 103 games without him.)
In 57 games off the bench for the Cavs last season, West averaged 9.0 points, 3.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 0.9 steals in 25.8 minutes while shooting 45.4 percent from the field, 33.8 from 3-point range and 82.5 percent from the free-throw line.
Outside of Glen Davis, those numbers are better than any other Celtics reserve this season — regardless of position. In fact, ever since they sent him to Seattle in the Ray Allen deal, the C’s have been searching for a guy like West, who can both spell Rajon Rondo at the point and assume a scoring load on the second unit.
The Celtics signed Sam Cassell in 2007-08 and Stephon Marbury in 2008-09 before trading for Nate Robinson last season. Let’s see how their contributions to the C’s compared to West’s production off the bench for the Cavaliers last season (leader in bold) …
- 2009-10 West (57 games): 25.8 minutes, 9.0 points, 3.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 45.4 FG%, 33.8 3-PT FG% and 82.5 FT%.
- 2009-10 Robinson (26 games): 14.7 minutes, 6.5 points, 2.0 assists, 1.5 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 40.1 FG%, 41.4 3-PT FG% and 61.5 FT%.
- 2008-09 Marbury (23 games): 18.0 minutes, 3.8 points, 3.3 assists, 1.2 rebounds, 0.4 steals, 34.2 FG%, 24.0 3-PT FG% and 46.2 FT%.
- 2007-08 Cassell (17 games): 17.6 minutes, 7.6 points, 2.1 assists, 1.8 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 38.5 FG%, 40.9 3-PT FG% and 84.0 FT%.
In terms of plus/minus, Robinson was a minus-53 last season when he was on the floor for the Celtics. IN 2008-09, Marbury was a minus-28. In 2007-08, Cassell was just a plus-17. Meanwhile, West was a plus-731 over the last three years. Essentially, with him on the floor, his teams have outscored opponents by an average of 4.0 points a game.
Clearly, West offers the C’s best option at guard off the bench in the Big Three era.
(For the record, my favorite line from the video that accompanies this blog is obviously: “You’d better have my doughnuts.” I’m going to start saying that to everybody I work with.)
RAY ALLEN SEPARATES CELTICS
The difference between the Celtics and Miami Heat, according to Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thompsen? Ray Allen. Despite being considered the fourth man on the C’s new Big Four, the 35-year-old shooting guard ranks second on the team in minutes (39.7, behind Rondo at 41.1) and points (18.8, behind Paul Pierce at 21.0) while shooting a blistering 45.9 percent from 3-point land.
“I know how to manage being part of the team and being productive,” Allen told SI. “You can never let it slip. Like you can’t say, ‘OK, I’m going to just take it by the wayside [and relax].’ You’ve still got to get your shots up and take care of your body and make sure you’re eating right and sleeping right. The minute you start thinking, ‘Well, I don’t want to do this anymore,’ or you start slowing down, then that’s when your game slows down and people start giving you less responsibility.”
Averaging 2.8 3-pointers per game this season, Allen is just 89 treys away from breaking Reggie Miller‘s all-time record. At the rate he’s going this fall, he’ll break the mark around the All-Star break. Just for fun, let’s take a loot at Allen vs. Miller at age 35 …
- Allen: 39.7 minutes, 18.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 47.9 FG%, 45.9 3-PT FG% and 91.7 FT%.
- Miller: 39.3 minutes, 18.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 44.0 FG%, 36.6 3-PT FG% and 92.8 FT%.
MEET JOHN WALL
If Wall is anything like Rondo, though, he’ll play, just to guage his level of play against one of the best point guards in the leagu — even if he doesn’t consider Rondo among the NBA‘s elite.
If you’ll recall, in Grant Wahl‘s Sports Illustrated piece on Wall as a freshman at the University of Kentucky, he listed “today’s gold standard: Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose.” Absent from the list was Rondo — the only guy to also play at Kentucky.
Speaking of the two point guards, in ESPN’s NBA Awards Watch, Rondo currently ranks second in the MVP race, while Wall ranks first among Rookie of the Year candidates.
HOW THE WEST WOULD BE WON
Well, we started with Delonte West, and we’ll end with him. While reintroducing West to Boston fans, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recall the romantic advice he gave to ESPN’s Page 2 during his previous tenure in the city. Here are a few highlights …
“So, I pick her up in my white convertible. From there, I’d have the music pumping on the radio. The Jim Jones pumping, you know, ‘Summer in Miami’ pumping. Got to keep a little gangsta; you can’t be too soft. You can’t be in there playing some guy that’s crying, talking about don’t leave me and love me baby, wah wah and all that. So Jim Jones pumping and then from there, wind blowing through the hair, boom, we get straight to the point — we eat afterwards because I don’t want to kiss no onions. I don’t want to kiss you tasting like onions and steak and mushrooms and everything.”
“We’re going to my yacht. We’ll pull up at the docks and got a guy waiting for us, open our door up and we walk down a lit-up dock and onto the yacht, where we have dinner set up on the boat and we just cruise out on the water. Sit down and have some dinner, some shrimps and steaks, keep it nice and breezy. Pop some bottles, some Moet Rose. The red Moet, we ain’t popping no Kristal, it tastes like urination. We ain’t popping no Kris, that’s $500 a bottle. It ain’t that serious. It ain’t going to get you drunk. Make sure you put that in there. We ain’t doing a $500 bottle, we’re doing a $99 wine and dine.”
“One more thing: When we’re on the yacht eating, we’re going to have some Popeye’s chicken. That’s for dinner. It’s to let her know, put a mental image on her mind, first and foremost, if you ain’t from the hood, you don’t like Popeye’s chicken. Everyone there loves Popeye’s chicken and the biscuits — phew. But that’s just getting it on her mind, saying, you know, ‘Yeah, I can wine and dine you, but I’m a little rough around the edges and I’m keeping it real with you. I can be romantic, but this is real, we’re going to eat some chicken tonight. Chicken and biscuits.'”
“OK, so from there, we’re doing a midnight skinny-dipping jump. Alright? From there, hopefully she’s got money because I hope Jaws gets her, boom, make sure she got me in the will, bank, I’m good. Oh well, shark got her! Jaws got her.”
So, let me get this straight: The perfect romantic night is a pre-onions hookup followed by a Popeye’s chicken and biscuits dinner with Moet Rose (not Kristal, because it tastes like urination) and, finally, a skinny-dipping expedition where your date hopefully gets eaten by a shark. Got it.
Actually, I think if you follow the exact opposite of West’s advice, you’ll be good.
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|Irish Coffee: MTV destroys Teen Wolf & other NBA thoughts||11.16.10 at 11:56 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
I’m shocked, shocked to find what MTV is doing here! Teen Wolf as a lacrosse player? If you’re going to remake one of the finest achievements in cinematic history, stay true to the story.
Teen Wolf was a basketball player, and at 5-foot-4 maybe the best pound-for-pound baller in the history of the sport. How the legendary 1985 film wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award alongside “Out of Africa”, “The Color Purple” and “Prizzi’s Honor” is beyond me.
The crescendo of the film revolved around basketball, as Michael J. Fox decided to play as just another member of his team rather than as the dominating Teen Wolf. It was downright Celtics-esque, with Fox assuming the role of Rajon Rondo (I guess that would make Shaquille O’Neal “Fat Boy”, Kevin Garnett “No. 45″, Paul Pierce as “No. 33″ and Doc Rivers “Coach Finstock”).
It’s the very essence of the C’s success of the 1980s and 2000s: Forego individual greatness for team glory. Michael J. Fox‘s workmanlike performance in the championship is game film that every NBA coach worth his weight in championship rings should dissect with his starting point guard every offseason. And MTV is attempting to destroy it. I say: Over my dead body.
So, I give you Fox’s Rondo-like effort in the infamous “Win in the End” montage …
YOUR DAILY SHAQ UPDATE
Believe it or not, Shaquille O’Neal made news again. It’s why he made WEEI.com’s Most Interesting Person in Boston Sports list.
In an interview with USA Today, Shaq discussed — among other things — his pre-retirement home and why he joined the “old and musty” Celtics …
“It’s nice and peaceful,” he said of living in Sudbury. “It’s good for an old man to just chill out. I’ve got a nice little chair. I see wild turkeys and fox and coyotes on my grass. I’m loving it.”
Can’t you just picture Shaq, sipping a warm cup of cocoa out on his porch, rocking back and forth in his rocking chair, looking out on his Sudbury farm? Perhaps he thinks of how the Celtics defeated his Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season …
“Kevin kicked it to Paul, Paul kicked it to Ray. They played liked a team,” O’Neal said. “They have three first-ballot Hall of Famers on the team. They didn’t care who had all the points. It was beautiful to watch.”
Or perhaps, as he did in the USA Today article, he considers the irony of finishing his career in Boston for a team he once called “old and musty” 1y years ago in the book “Shaq Attaq!” …
“What comes around goes around,” said O’Neal. “Now, I’m old and musty.”
I think I could listen to Shaq’s thoughts from his “nice little chair” on his Sudbury farm all day long. May I suggest a podcast, a la Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s fireside chats? It would be a constant stream of gems on basketball, politics and life, like this response to a question about why NBA players don’t want to play in Canada from a recent interview with AskMen.com.
“It’s the double taxes that deter players from going there. Also [Chris] Bosh obviously couldn’t handle the pressure, so he had to go join two other people to help him out. Listen to what I tell you: Toronto is in the top three NBA cities for every NBA player. Trust me on that, brother.”
HOW TO STOP RAJON RONDO?
NBA Playbook believes the Dallas Mavericks discovered the blueprint for stopping Rondo. The reasoning? Dallas forced the C’s into their “worst shooting game (in terms of eFG%), worst performance when it came to getting to the line (7.7 FTR), worst shooting performance at the rim, and the least amount of 3-pointers attempted.”
It seems counterintuitive to think that the blueprint for stopping Rondo was executed in a game where he finished with 11 points, 15 assists and six rebounds, but NBA Playbook has its reasons –accompanied by video evidence. Without further ado …
SAGGED OFF RONDO/CHASED DEFENDERS: The Mavericks chased Boston’s shooters around screens and challenge shots hard. … This was a theme during this game. Boston averages around 13.5 3s per game this year; they took eight against Dallas.
Is there a team out there that doesn’t try to chase shooters around screens and challenge shots hard? And if there is, wouldn’t that just be bad defense? Challenging shots is the most fundamental defensive strategy out there.
SWITCHING SCREENS: The Mavericks did a whole lot of switching on screens with the goal being to keep Rondo out of the lane. … Most teams tend to go under screens rather than switch, because they don’t want to have to deal with mismatches. One of the reasons the Mavericks were able to switch screens is that they have Jason Kidd as their starting point guard. Kidd isn’t the fastest guy, but he’s big enough that when they switch there isn’t really a mismatch.
Doesn’t this depend on who Kidd is switching with? Sure, if Allen sets the pick, Kidd and DeShawn Stevenson could switch and avoid a mismatch. But if Garnett is setting the pick, that creates two mismatches: the bigger KG rolling to the basket against the smaller Kidd and the quicker Rondo on the perimeter against the slower Dirk Nowitzki.
TEAM EFFORT: Most teams play off of Rondo, and they don’t really commit double teams or other defenders to him. Since the Mavericks’ main focus was to keep Rondo out of the lane, they were willing to send multiple defenders at him to do so, and it worked out for the Mavs.
Double-teaming Rondo on his way into the lane is exactly what Rondo is hoping for — somebody open for an assist opportunity. If defenders sag from the wings, that leaves one of two 44 percent 3-point shooters (Allen or Pierce) open. If defenders step up from the post, that leaves either Garnett or O’Neal open for a lob opportunity.
In fact, the first video example of this strategy leaves a wide-open Garnett under the basket. While KG might’ve missed that attempt, I’m sure the Celtics will take an open layup every time.
FORCING THE PASSBACK: Because of the Mavericks’ team effort when trying to keep Rondo out of the lane, they have to give up something else. What they were willing to give up was the pass back to the elbow/foul line area.
As NBA Playbook notes, this strategy leaves guys like Garnett and Glen Davis open at the top of the key, and those two were a combined 6-of-11 from there in the Mavericks game.
All I’m saying is that the blueprint for stopping Rondo — and as a result the Celtics — is playing good, solid defense on the rest of the Celtics. Challenging outside shots, properly defending the pick and roll, keeping guys out of the lane and forcing big men to shoot jump shots isn’t a blueprint for stopping Rondo. It’s a blueprint for stopping any NBA team.
“The Celtics and the Lakers have fantastic histories, but there is no reason in the world that we can’t be as successful as those teams,” Lacob told the San Francisco Chronicle. “There is no reason that we can’t turn this into a championship contender.”
All Lacob expects is that the Warriors adopt the defense of the Celtics and the “Showtime” offense of the Lakeers. You know, no big deal. Sounds like a job for MacGruber rather than Gruber. …
“He is looking great,” McKeon told ESPN.com. “He’s keeping his weight down. He’s sticking to the proper diet. But it was a major surgery, and I always tell athletes that it could be 18 months before it’s the best that it can be.”
In Marc Stein‘s latest Power Rankings for ESPN.com, the C’s moved into the No. 1 spot — ahead of the unbeaten New Orleans Hornets and two-time defending champion Lakers. The reasoning? “The Celts’ only two losses came on the road on the second night of a back-to-back.” …
Not their finest effort, but any time The Onion takes on the Celtics it’s worth checking out. This time, they parodied Garnett and his defensive intensity:
“This is my house! You hear me? Mine! This is where I watch my TV and eat my cereal! Where I eat cereal every day!”
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|Irish Coffee: Shaq doing best Perk impression||11.15.10 at 10:30 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Off the court, Shaquille O’Neal has been everything Celtics fans could’ve expected — and more. Sunday’s trip as Shaq-A-Claus to Toys-R-Us in Framingham and his performance of “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” at Cheers in downtown Boston are just two examples.
Through 10 games, the C’s (8-2) are exactly where they were with Perkins in 2009-10. Defensively, with Perkins in the lineup, the 2009-10 Celtics ranked fifth in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions (103.8); this fall, they rank sixth (101.7). With Perk in ’09-10, the C’s ranked 25th in rebounding differential (-1.5); this season, they’re 16th (+0.3).
Sure, some of that success can be attributed to Kevin Garnett‘s health, but Shaq should get some credit, too, as a worthy replacement for Perkins in five starts so far this season.
Take a look at the 2010-11 per-minute averages for Shaq vs. Perk’s numbers in 2009-10 (bolded statistics indicate an advantage) …
- ’10-11 SHAQ: 0.46 points, 0.27 rebounds, 0.03 assists, 0.02 blocks, 0.02 steals, 0.09 turnovers and 0.18 personal fouls
- ’09-10 PERK: 0.37 points, 0.28 rebounds, 0.04 assists, 0.06 blocks, 0.01 steals, 0.08 turnovers and 0.10 personal fouls
However, Shaq has not been capable of matching Perkins’ minutes. Shaq has averaged 21.2 minutes in his five starts this season — 76.8 percent of the 27.6 minutes per game Perk played last year. Even playing 6.4 fewer minutes per game, Shaq has been able to produce a solid Perkins impersonation, as evidenced by their per-game averages …
- ’10-11 SHAQ: 9.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.4 steals, 1.8 turnovers and 3.8 personal fouls
- ’09-10 PERK: 10.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.7 blocks, 0.3 steals, 2.1 turnovers and 2.8 personal fouls
Essentially, because Shaq has played so well, when he plays the C’s only need to make up 6.4 minutes of Perkins’ production at the center spot in order to provide some semblance of the starting five that has reached the NBA Finals in two of the last three seasons. It’s safe to say that in spurts Glen Davis, Semih Erden and Jermaine O’Neal have been able to pick up that slack.
So far, at least, the Celtics have not missed Perkins, especially when Shaq has started in his place. That means two things for the Celtics going forward: 1) If Shaq remains healthy — and that’s a big if — it will allow Perkins to take his time regaining full strength; and 2) With both Shaq and Perk, the C’s could be a better team than the one that reached the 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals.
JERMAINE O’NEAL & PERKINS SHARE THE LOVE
Prior to Jermaine O’Neal’s arrival in Boston, he and Perkins weren’t exactly best buddies. However, the moment they became teammates, any beef between them fell by the wayside. Jessica Camerato detailed their relationship this season …
“I just wanted to let him know it’s on the court, it’s not outside of that,” explained Perkins. “I’m a great teammate, but when you’re on the other team, I’m really going at your head. But I wanted to show him there isn’t any tension outside of basketball, no beef or nothing, and just kind of welcome him with open arms.”
I especially enjoyed Doc Rivers‘ take, which explains in part how quickly the C’s have been able to incorporate new bodies into a championship-contending system …
“We don’t like anybody on the other team,” Rivers said. “The outside guy is always a little iffy when he comes to our team, especially if we’ve had it in with him. But then they find out, wow this is the greatest group. They get along great. So that’s what’s happened already. … Once you’re on our team, you’re part of our group.”
As Shaq said in the same article, “Here there’s just one language — win, win, win, championship, championship, championship. And that’s all that we talk about.”
2010-11 HEAT CAN’T MIRROR ’07-08 CELTICS
While the Celtics have seamlessly incorporated new talent into an already existing system, the Miami Heat has struggled to establish a new system with all their new talent. In a Miami Herald piece, Rivers compared the Heat’s task with the one he faced three seasons ago …
“It’s the exact same thing, and I think everyone goes through it to some extent,” said Rivers, who added that this year’s Celtics are experiencing similar problems. “The more guys you add — the more key guys you add — the first year for us, our Big 3 were in each other’s way at times early because no one wanted to do too much.”
Rivers said he had to have “a big summit early in the year” to explain everyone’s role on the team. [Kevin] Garnett was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year that season.
“Kevin was so key to us — and in some ways, [Chris] Bosh is doing the same things — but Kevin can take 20 shots or one shot and it won’t affect his day at all,” Rivers said.
“He’s unselfish to a fault at times.”
Rivers said the 2007-08 championship team began the season with a slightly different dynamic than the Heat because the Celtics’ stars were older and “they were at the point in their careers where they had to solidify their careers and that made it easier for me.”
I think Rivers was being kind when he said Bosh is doing the same things this season as KG did in 2007-08. There’s simply no way Bosh is going to be the Defensive Player of the Year this season.
In his weekly mailbag, Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen took on the same issue. In his eyes, the C’s two straight victories over the Heat this season should help the Big Three forego their egos in favor of the unselfishness that allowed the Celtics to thrive three years ago …
This isn’t about improving their skills; it’s about deepening their wisdom. When Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen united in Boston, they understood intuitively the demands of coach Doc Rivers to alter their games in order to fit together, because each of them had gone year after year after year of losing in the playoffs. They were all in their 30s and they were ready to change.
But these players in Miami haven’t been humbled enough in their previous careers — if they had been forced to accept that humility, they never would have gone upon that stage and behaved so naively last July.
DOC NOT A FAN OF TWITTER
Speaking of the spectacle that was Miami’s Big Three this offseason, Rivers commented on Pierce’s “It’s been a pleasure to bring my talents to South Beach” tweet following the C’s victory this past Thursday night …
“I didn’t get laughs out of that stuff; I really don’t like that stuff,” said Rivers. “I don’t care one way or another but I don’t think you need to say anything. It’s a long season. It’s a good (dig) but I’m not a fan of all that stuff.”
I like how Rivers says he didn’t like it, and then says it’s a good dig. He may not be encouraging it, but he’s certainly not discouraging it, either.
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|Preview: Celtics at Grizzlies||11.13.10 at 10:00 am ET|
In advance of Saturday night’s game between the Celtics (7-2) and Grizzlies (4-5) in Memphis (8 p.m.), we caught up with Chip Crain at the “3 Shades of Blue” blog. He answered our six most pressing questions on a young Grizzlies team …
1. The Grizzlies took a big step forward as a team last year. Do you expect them to take another one this season?
Well, we can always hope that the maturation of the team alone will be enough to get them over the hump, but honestly that’s about all the team has.
Will it be improved? Yes, I think they will. Will it be enough? It doesn’t look like it to me.
The problem with the Grizzlies is not their starting five but the bench. They simply are too inexperienced off the bench, even with Tony Allen in the fold. Xavier Henry, Darrell Arthur and even Hasheem Thabeet have shown some promise, but they aren’t ready to contribute, which puts too much of a strain on the starters to see it lasting for 82 games.
2. What’s the general feeling on Rudy Gay in Memphis? Does his new contract affect the way fans feel about him?
People complained about Rudy Gay‘s contract when he signed it, but no one is complaining now. Rudy has always had a ton of talent, but for the first time he seems to be applying it to more than just scoring.
3. Has the play of Marc Gasol helped fans get over the Pau Gasol trade? Or is there still bitterness?
Yes and no. Marc Gasol‘s play has won over many fans, but people still believe that the Grizzlies could have gotten more. After all, no one would trade Pau for Marc straight up. The Grizzlies got Javaris Crtittenton (out of the league), the draft pick that brought in Darrell Arthur and the draft pick that became Greivis Vasquez in the deal, so talent-wise the city is still sore about the trade.
However, that trade also allowed the Grizzlies to acquire Zach Randolph with the cap space, so Arthur, Randolph, Vasquez and Marc in return for Pau was a great trade in Memphians eyes.
Of course, it’s still a sore subject for the fans of teams that thought their team would have won the title if the Lakers hadn’t gotten Pau.
4. Chris Wallace became a bit of a punchline in Boston after his deal for Vin Baker. How do Grizzlies fans feel about him?
Chris Wallace is very fortunate. His owner has made so many blunders no one has really focused on the poor decisions Wallace has made. Everyone points at Michael Heisley making the calls and forgets who’s whispering in his ear.
Thabeet was a horrible pick that Wallace was against (if you believe the rumors) but Heisley insisted on. That got Wallace off the hook. The problem is that DeMarre Carroll was Wallace’s pick, and he didn’t get his third-year option picked up. Wallace passed on DeJuan Blair three times, and now the team is thin at power forward.
Arthur’s fast start this season has made people forget what a disappointment he’s been his first two seasons, and Conley’s fast start has helped him avoid criticism on that deal. The Kevin Love for O.J. Mayo trade has been a financial noose around the team’s neck as well, with the Grizzlies still owing Marco Jaric money while he babysits Adriana Lima‘s child. Mayo straight up for Love would be questionable now, and with the bad contracts the Grizzlies ate to acquire Mayo it looks really bad to me.
5. What’s a realistic expectation for Tony Allen this year?
I see his upside as starting shooting guard to allow Mayo to move to the bench as the designated scorer, while Allen becomes the defensive stopper in the starting rotation. The downside is he loses his playing time to Henry and Sam Young, and he joins the list of questionable Wallace moves I just mentioned.
Realistically, he should be one of the guys off the bench who contributes on some nights and never gets into games on other nights.
6. Is Hasheem Thabeet a bust, or is there still hope?
There is always hope, but the buzzards are circling just the same.
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