|Doc Rivers hesitantly starts Jared Sullinger in desperate move to shake up his Celtics||01.27.13 at 12:39 pm ET|
And sometimes that means making moves you don’t want to make.
Sunday, Rivers took Jared Sullinger out of his comfort zone off the bench and placed him in the starting lineup to add some energy to a team that has lost six straight.
“More because Jared is playing well,” Rivers said. “Honestly, I don’t love it because I worry about our bench. Our bench has been off the charts and that may affect them. But we’re doing it because he’s been playing so well.”
Sullinger has hit a speed bump in his last two games, being held scoreless in the double-overtime game against the Hawks Friday night and scoring just seven points with three rebounds in 15 minutes Thursday against the Knicks.
“Not much,” Rivers said. “Just the way our starters were playing, I thought our lineup needed a shaking up. I’m really doing it cautiously because I just think at some point our starters will find themselves. The one thing I always worry about is our bench. Our bench has been off the charts. The one thing about the Atlanta game, it was a six-point [lead] when they came in and it was 27 points when they left. You don’t hear that a lot from a bench.”
“We just took the game for granted.”
|Ray Allen warms up before Sunday’s game||at 11:52 am ET|
Heat sharpshooter Ray Allen warms up before Sunday’s game with the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Sunday marks Allen’s return to Boston for the first time since signing as a free-agent with the world champion Heat last summer.
Allen admitted that he doesn’t expect the reception in the Garden to be very warm when he takes the parquet for the first time since signing with Miami.
Allen had 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 31 minutes against the Celtics in the season opener on Oct. 30 in Miami. That was the game most-famously remembered for the cold shoulder Kevin Garnett gave Allen when Allen checked in for the first time in the first quarter.
|Is one NBA scout’s scathing take on Celtics accurate?||01.26.13 at 3:05 pm ET|
NBA general managers must be hovering like vultures over Danny Ainge‘s struggling Celtics, so it’s no surprise they are a main focus ESPN.com writer Marc Stein’s must-read Weekend Dime.
With all due respect to the NBA scout who rightfully ripped the Celtics to shreds in Stein’s piece, the outlook isn’t quite as bad as he makes it out to be, despite their current six-game losing streak.
“Their bench has to be playing at the top of their abilities for them to win.”
According to HoopsStats.com, the Celtics are 12-11 when their bench outperforms the opposing team’s and 7-11 when it doesn’t. That lends some credence to this statement, but they can win when their reserves don’t contribute. We knew these C’s would rely on their depth more this season than they have in the past, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers couldn’t even begin to structure a consistent rotation until Avery Bradley returned this month.
And they don’t have enough guys big-guy-wise that Doc [Rivers] is comfortable with.
The C’s everlasting search for frontcourt depth behind Kevin Garnett has been no secret. Hence, their rumored interest in both Marcin Gortat and DeMarcus Cousins. The struggles of Brandon Bass and the thumb injury to Chris Wilcox haven’t helped, but don’t rule out those two contributing more in the second half of the season.
|Rajon Rondo: When a triple-double is ‘irrelevant’||01.25.13 at 11:18 am ET|
Rondo had 23 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, his 27th career triple-double and fourth the season. But that couldn’t prevent Boston from suffering its fifth straight loss, 89-86, to the Knicks Thursday, dropping to 20-22 on the season.
“It wipes it out. It’s kind of irrelevant. You score 40 or 50 points, you lose, you lose. All that matters is Ws and Ls.
“I like our group, I like our guys,” Rondo insisted. “We have a group of guys that listen. Right now, we’re not getting it done. It’s like night and day. We won six in a row and we were clicking on all cylinders. But now, it’s not all five guys at one time throughout the game for 48 minutes. We go through stretches where we’re not scoring the ball and our defense is lacking as well. We just have to pick it up collectively as a team, and individually as well.”
“We’re not worried about that,” Rondo said. “We’re worried about Atlanta.”
The message could not have been more clear from Doc Rivers.
Even in a loss, the energy and fight needs to be there if the Celtics are to get back on track and make a second-half run to the playoffs.
“If I saw that effort every night,” Rivers said, ‘I’d be very happy.”
He wasn’t happy with the fact his team lost its fifth straight after winning six in a row. He wasn’t happy with his team’s execution down the stretch. But he was satisfied with making life tough on Carmelo Anthony again, especially in the first half 26 minutes, when they held him to 4-for-15 shooting from the floor.
He was happy with the fact that his team trailed 80-70 with eight minutes left and made a charge to make it a two-point game.
He says the signed are there.
‘We missed a lot of open shots,” Rivers said of his Celtics, who finished shooting 40 percent. “But I don’t think it’s pressing; I just think we’re missing shots. [At the end] those were just two turnovers. Overall, you look at the whole total, we had 12 turnovers. That doesn’t sound like pressing.”
Paul Pierce had another miserable night from the floor, making just 6-of-15 shots. He had a key turnover with 7.1 seconds left as the Celtics were trying to tie the game but that’s not what really bothered Rivers. It was the play with a minute left and the Celtics down five. A bad pass from Jason Terry and a golden opportunity to cut into the lead with under a minute left went by the boards.
“The play before [Pierce's turnover] is what I was more disappointed in,” Rivers said. “I didn’t think we executed that great. That was supposed to be a hand-off to Paul coming off, and they got their hand in on the ball. And I had my three best shooters with Jet, Paul, and Kevin (Garnett) involved, and it just didn’t work out.
“It’s frustrating to lose when you give effort, because you’ve got to keep convincing your guys if you play that way every night, you’re going to make more shots than that. And you’re going to win a lot of games. But right now they’re sitting there thinking, ‘We lost.’ So, they know it. They know with that effort you’re going to win most nights.’
|Carmelo Anthony: Kevin Garnett feud ‘overrated,’ Celtics crowd ‘kind of quiet’ and Knicks win ‘satisfying’||at 1:54 am ET|
Even before Celtics superstar Kevin Garnett and Knicks counterpart Carmelo Anthony‘s pregame fist bump, Boston’s Garden security starved the crowd of any further beef between the two NBA All-Star Game teammates, confiscating enough Honey Nut Cheerios paraphernalia to fill the rink for Friday’s Bruins game.
Of course, you’ll remember Anthony confronted Garnett at his team bus after the C’s defeated the Knicks, 102-96, in New York on Jan. 7. Rumors suggested KG told Melo his wife La La “tasted like Honey Nut Cheerios” — a claim all parties involved since denied — but Anthony earned a one-game suspension for his postgame antics.
“I think it was overrated,” said Anthony. “I think people just blew it up for no reason. They were just kind of waiting to see what was going to happen, but it’s sports. That’s what happens in sports.
On Thursday night, Anthony finally got his revenge, scoring 28 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dealing one of his three assists to teammate J.R. Smith for the dagger in an 89-86 “satisfying” victory in Boston.
“It was kind of quiet today for the most part,” Anthony said of a Garden crowd that NBA on TNT announcer Marv Albert accused of being artificially enhanced during the broadcast. “I was expecting there to be boos and a real hostile environment tonight, but it was cool for the most part.”
|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo’s triple-double can’t keep Celtics from five-game skid||01.24.13 at 10:43 pm ET|
Give them this: At least the Celtics played with heart, but the Knicks still handed them their fifth straight loss, an 89-86 defeat made even more discouraging by J.R. Smith‘s wide-open 3-pointer and Paul Pierce‘s turnover with several chances to tie the game in the final minute. Here’s what else went wrong (and right).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Terry dry: Since his return to the bench, where he’s been most comfortable during his career, Jason Terry continues to slump. He entered the game shooting under 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range in 22 minutes a night this month, and those numbers didn’t get any better. After getting off to an 0-for-4 start in his first six minutes, Rivers limited his playing time. Terry finished 1-for-6 in 14 minutes, including a costly fourth-quarter turnover.
Brain farts: As well as the Celtics played in stretches, they still took their foot off the pedal at times. The Knicks started the second quarter on a 9-0 run made up of a couple Amar’e Stoudemire buckets around the basket, a J.R. Smith layup and a Pablo Prigioni 3-pointer. In the third quarter, the Celtics committed five turnovers, including three that directly led to layups and New York’s 72-66 lead after three quarters.
Off the mark: While the C’s defense held the Knicks below 40 percent shooting on the night (38.6 percent FG), their offense wasn’t much better (40.8 percent FG). Despite getting a ton of open looks, the Celtics missed jumper after jumper. They combined for 3-of-18 shooting from beyond the arc, including an 0-for-5 night for backup guards Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa. Compounding that fact, the C’s didn’t tally a single point off their misses, getting outscored 16-0 on second-chance points.