|Fast Break: Celtics can’t deliver Brad Stevens’ first win||11.01.13 at 10:11 pm ET|
Bill Russell walked through that door, but he was 79 years old and watching from the front row after the city unveiled a statue in his honor on Friday afternoon. The Celtics still could’ve used his help.
The C’s built a second-half lead as large as 22, but the Bucks outscored them 34-15 in the fourth quarter to regain the lead in the final minute and steal a 105-98 victory in Boston’s home opener.
It wasn’t all bad for the Celtics, who got a double-double from Vitor Faverani (12 points, 18 rebounds) and nearly got a couple more from Brandon Bass (17 points, 9 rebounds) and Jeff Green (13 points, 9 rebounds).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Nets loss: Maybe it was the matchup. Maybe it’s more than that.
Maybe it’s Maybelline. Whatever it was, Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans and MarShon Brooks sat on the bench. For the entire game. Only Gerald Wallace, who started for the second straight game, saw the floor among those acquired in the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett trade.
Glass wipe: The Celtics talked a whole lot about rebounding better after getting trounced on the glass and allowing 19 offensive boards in the season opener. And while they owned the overall rebounding edge against Milwaukee, the C’s still allowed 17 offensive rebounds that led to 22 second-chance points for the Bucks.
Lame late: The Celtics built a lead as large as 22 after a 9-0 lead early in the third quarter, and then proceeded to watch it slowly disappear like a codeine drip. From 9:32 to 3:54 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Bucks went on a 16-4 run that tied the game, 93-93. Wallace drilled a 3-pointer that briefly gave the C’s a cushion, but a late controversial call handed Zaza Pachulia a pair of free throws that gave the Bucks the lead for good in the final minute.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
El Hombre Indestructible: Is Vitor Faverani still the best? It appears so. Vitor likes blocks, so in the opening two minutes of the contest he introduced himself to last year’s block percentage leader, Larry Sanders, with the first of his six blocks. Vitor likes dunks, so he threw one down for his first NBA basket 5:17 into the game. Vitor like rebounds, so he grabbed 11 of them by halftime. Vitor like physical plays, so he tried to charge through Sanders for one of his four turnovers. Hey, Vitor Faverani’s not perfect. He’s just the best.
Downright offensive: Playing without a point guard, the Celtics pushed the ball, attacked the basket and shared the scoring load. Sound familiar? It shouldn’t. These C’s netted 11 points on the break and 23 on second-chance opportunities (thanks to 18 offensive boards), and somehow they did it with just 13 assists on 34 field goals. The offense fell apart late, but the Celtics’ 83 points through three quarters was encouraging.
Wonderful Lee: After committing as many turnovers as he had points and submitting a minus-16 rating against the Raptors on Wednesday night, Courtney Lee bounced back with exactly the type of game the Celtics would like to see out of him on a nightly basis. He added three rebounds and a couple steals to his 13 points in 26 minutes off the bench.
|Rajon Rondo’s Red Sox beard in all its glory||at 8:06 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo welcomed Celtics fans to the 2013-14 NBA season, wearing a faux beard to honor the Red Sox. The C’s also showed a tribute video to the Sox prior to the game as owners John Henry and Tom Werner hoisted the World Series trophy at midcourt. Nicely done all around.
|A song for Bill Russell: ‘I Am My Father’s Son’||at 7:58 pm ET|
At the unveiling of the Bill Russell Legacy Project in Boston, Bill Withers wrote a song entitled, “I Am My Father’s Son,” that fellow Grammy Award-winning artist Johnny Mathis performed. It was amazing.
|Celtics, for the last time: Courtney Lee||10.31.13 at 3:52 pm ET|
One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory began Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time … ?” Next up: Courtney Lee.
When’s the last time a mid-tier veteran improved in Year 2 with a new team?
Courtney Lee’s struggles last season are well documented. Heck, even he readily admits to his inconsistency. When a reporter treaded lightly last month on the subject of his 2012-13 season, Lee stopped him and said something to the tune of, “You don’t have to be afraid to ask that question. I wasn’t so good.”
Now accustomed to his new city and out of the Doc Rivers doghouse, Lee has a new lease on his NBA life. It stands to reason that his comfortability during his second season in Boston might breed consistency.
A handful of players on similar contracts to Lee’s $5.2 million price tag have found themselves in a similar situation over the past several seasons: Jamal Crawford in New York, Atlanta and now the Clippers; Kyle Korver in Utah, Chicago and now Atlanta; Andre Miller in Denver, Philadelphia, Portland and Denver again; Chuck Hayes in Sacramento, J.R. Smith in New York; Martell Webster in Minnesota and now D.C.; and Brandan Wright in Dallas.
Here’s how those seven players performed in Years 1 and 2 with their new teams over the years.
|Celtics, for the last time: Jared Sullinger||10.30.13 at 4:43 pm ET|
One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time … ?” Next up: Jared Sullinger.
When’s the last time a sophomore stud enjoyed success post-injury?
In the past 25 years, only two bigs underwent season-ending surgery as a rookie and ultimately became a star.
The most recent is Blake Griffin, whose broken left kneecap was discovered on the eve of his rookie season. He missed that entire year, and then unleashed himself on the NBA in 2010-11, averaging 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists to earn his first of three All-Star invitations. But he was a No. 1 overall pick.
The other is LaMarcus Aldridge, whose heart ailment cut his 2006-07 rookie year short in April. He responded the next season with averages of 17.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He’s now a two-time All-Star.
Kenyon Martin suffered a broken leg as a college senior, and then finished second in the 2001 NBA Rookie of the year voting. Otherwise, no big man who battled injuries that early in his career ever flourished in the NBA. In fact, on the flip side, there’s guys like Greg Oden, whose chronic knee problems are well documented.
Doctors have assured Sullinger he’ll fully recover, and the production of both Griffin and Aldridge suggest it’s not only possible to recover in time for your sophomore campaign, but you can potentially flourish, too.
But Sullinger is entering uncharted territory, especially considering his surgery involved back issues. Then again, the Celtics understood that when he dropped to them at No. 21 in last year’s draft.
|Celtics, for the last time: Jordan Crawford||at 4:08 pm ET|
One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time … ?” Next up: Jordan Crawford.
When’s the last time an immature young guard saw the NBA light?
Barring the great 2003 NBA draft, every June last decade featured a young guard who declared early and subsequently tumbled down the draft for any number of reasons that fall under the category of “immaturity.”
2001: Joseph Forte
2002: Qyntel Woods
2004: Delonte West
2005: Nate Robinson
2006: Marcus Williams
2007: Javaris Crittenton
2008: Mario Chalmers
2009: Ty Lawson
And in 2010 that guy was Jordan Crawford — he of wearing weed socks to practice, practically falling asleep on the bench and mocking Carmelo Anthony after sitting throughout a playoff game fame.
Just for fun, let’s see how each of those guys matured by Jordan’s current age of 25.
Forte: Out of the league, but not before wearing a Scooby-Doo shirt to a Celtics playoff game.
Woods: Out of the league, partly because of running a dogfighting ring out of his house.
West: Submitted his best season as a member of the Cavaliers. (P.S. Arrested on gun charges at age 26.)
Robinson: Traded twice between his 25th and 26th birthdays, contributing to C’s 2010 NBA Finals run.
Williams: Out of the league, relegated to playing in Russia.
Crittenton: Out of the league, indicted on murder and gang-related charges.
Mario Chalmers: Emerged as the starting point guard of the two-time NBA champion Heat.
Ty Lawson: Submitted his best season as a member of the Nuggets.
As you can tell, these guys have had their ups and downs, and Crawford hasn’t had the legal troubles many of these guys have experienced (well, unless you count the whole allegedly stealing a cell phone in college thing), but he has already played for three teams in his first three seasons.
The best comparison here is probably Nick Young. One’s called Swaggy P and the other Steez, and both have horrible shot selection. They were even Wizards teammates once, but that didn’t end well. However, Young enjoyed his best season at age 25, averaging a career-high 17.4 points, albeit on a lottery team.
|Celtics, for the last time: Jeff Green||at 1:38 pm ET|
One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time … ?” Next up: Jeff Green.
When’s the last time a 27-year-old NBA veteran made the All-Star leap?
In the final months of last season, as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett stared father time in the face and Rajon Rondo sat injured on the bench, Jeff Green rewarded the Celtics with the potential they saw in him.
“Is he an elite talent in this league? I believe so,” Jason Terry told WEEI in March. “If he didn’t have that surgery, you’d be talking about an All-Star. He’s an All-Star caliber player, and … I believe he’s the X-factor.”
Now, only Green stands in the way of an All-Star season. No Pierce, no Garnett and no Rondo for a while. The Celtics will give Green every opportunity to emerge as the star of this team — whether or not he ever does.
If his 32.5 field goal percentage (23.5 3P%) during the preseason is any indication, then this could be a long season for Green. But preseason generally isn’t an indication of anything. Green’s 17.3 points (49.3 FG%, 43.9 3P%), 5.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 blocks per game in the second half of last season is more like it.
It certainly isn’t unprecedented for a player to make his first All-Star Game appearance at age 27. Just last season, a 27-year-old Joakim Noah became the 108th player to do so after his 27th birthday, and Tyson Chandler earned his first invite at age 30. In the past few years, Andre Iguodola, Chris Kaman, Jameer Nelson, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace and David West all made their first All-Star roster at either age 27 or 28.
Still, the odds of emerging as an NBA All-Star rapidly decline after age 26, when 52 players have made their first appearance. Here are the number of players who made their first showings at ages 27-34 (h/t AllStarNBA.es).
Age 27: 38
Age 28: 34
Age 29: 13
Age 30: 12
Age 31: 5
Age 32: 2
Age 33: 1
Age 34: 3
In other words, if Green ever hopes to become an NBA All-Star, now’s the time.