|Irish Coffee: Celtics a slam dunk||03.10.11 at 12:38 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Between Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon, the Clippers own four of the top 10 throwdowns on NBA.com’s Dunk Ladder. Not to mention the fact that DeAndre Jordan had more than twice as many dunks (7) during the Clips’ 108-103 victory against the Celtics on Wednesday night as Rajon Rondo has had all season (3).
So, I figured now is as good a time as any to check out the dunk statistics for the Celtics, especially in comparison to their performance during the 2007-08 season. Thanks to CBS Sports’ Dunk-O-Meter and Roto Evil’s Slam Dunk Stats, we can do that.
If an aging NBA veteran has almost twice as many dunks through 62 games this season than he did during a year in which he captured the NBA Finals MVP, that seems to say a lot about the kind of lift and athleticism that’s still in his legs, right?
Of course, I’m talking about Paul Pierce, who according to CBS Sports has slammed 28 dunks already this season — including the highlight-reel one last night that can be seen in the video that accompanies this blog (thanks to @MrTripleDouble10). By comparison, Pierce recorded just 16 dunks in the 2007-08 regular season.
Count Ray Allen in the same category, as his 11 dunks so far this year are two more than he produced during the entire season three years ago. Glen Davis has already more than doubled his dunking output (11 in 2010-11, compared to 5 in 2007-08), but that can be credited to his increased role as the Sixth Man on this year’s squad.
If we can draw conclusions about how much more lift or aggressiveness Pierce has this year compared to three seasons ago based on his increased number of dunks, is the same true for those going in reverse? That means you, Kevin Garnett.
The naked eye test suggests Garnett has been more active and aggressive around the basket than he’s ever been in a Celtics uniform, but could it be that we’re simply remembering the guy who’s been hobbled by knee problems the last two years?
|Doc Rivers to his new reserves: We don’t take practice off so you better be ready||03.05.11 at 8:40 pm ET|
WALTHAM — You could sense the urgency in his voice.
Doc Rivers is a coach who exudes confidence and a positive attitude. But he also calls it the way he sees it and can push the emotional buttons of his players when need be.
After practice Saturday, he sent a very clear message to his second unit.
“They’ve got to get out of their [old] habits, wherever they’ve been,” Rivers said, referring clearly to Jeff Green, Sasha Pavlovic, Troy Murphy and Nenad Krstic. “We don’t [practice] long but we play with intensity, play hard. You just see some of their habits and some of their habits have to change. It will. It’s just going to take time.”
Rivers made it clear before practice began with several hundred fans listening in that their “help” defense was very sub-par Friday night in a 107-103 win over the Warriors.
“Learning to cover for each other is number one,” Rivers said. “But you can’t do that unless you have unbelievable focus and intensity and that’s what we’re trying to show them. I thought they were trying to do the right stuff on their help [defense] but they were always late because they’re not ready.”
Then Rivers got really serious.
“A lot of pros practice and they think practice is leisure and we don’t believe that here. It’s quick here but it’s hard. When you have your starters, who are playing 35 minutes [a game] going hard and you have your second unit going in cruise control, that’s not going to settle well with me.”
During the open practice Saturday afternoon at their practice facility, which gave a peek to fans and special guests into some of their basic defensive principles, defensive coach Lawrence Frank called out positions and assignments and helped Rivers get the new players accustomed to the Celtics’ way of defending. Read the rest of this entry »
|Even Ray Allen finds it hard to believe how open he was||at 12:12 am ET|
Ray Allen could only imagine what Warriors fans were thinking when he was unconscious in the first half, drilling all four 3-point attempts on his was to 20 points and a 64-53 Celtics lead at the break.
“Well, I think I’m the one guy that you look up and ask yourself, ‘How did he get so wide open in the corner?’ I think that everybody is thinking that – everybody in the Bay Area is thinking that early in the game,” said Allen, who finished with 27 in Boston’s 107-103 win over those defenseless Warriors.
“You don’t really look at Paul [Pierce] and he’s wide open, and Jeff [Green] was wide open several times, Nenad [Krstic] was open a couple times; when Rondo get to the basket, I think that’s as the result of all the guys on the floor and the plays that we run.”
Good thing Allen’s sore right knee healed in time so he could play. But ice and a stat sheet that shows that Golden State is 28th of 30 NBA teams in points allowed can make you healthy in a hurry.
“He shoots the ball pretty well most days,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s just an amazing shooter, he really is. And what’s more amazing is how many times he’s wide open. It’s just remarkable when you think about it, the Reggie Millers, I’ve been on teams where before the game the coach is, ‘Do not give this guy an open shot’ and you turn around and he’s standing there all by himself. It’s just amazing how they find the open spots.”
“You just make sure you run, make a sharp cut, stay spaced, and if a team has to double, you know that someone has to be open,” Allen explained.
But you get open with great defense. And when Monta Ellis wasn’t lighting up the Celtics as part of a 41-point night [matching Kobe Bryant for most by an opponent this year], the Celtics were playing enough defensive to allow them to get out in transition.
“The defensive end is really where it starts because when we get stops like that and we force them to miss, and then I’m gone. I don’t even wait, I just get to the corner. They have to get to the paint, and Rondo, he knows where I’m at so I just have to make sure that I’m ready.”
As for that bothersome knee, he wasn’t out on a driving range on Thursday but rather just resting. “Driving range? Who said that?”
Informed it was his coach, Allen replied, “And where am I going to hit golf balls at?”
He then turned slightly more serious when asked just how sore were his legs to require a day off from practice.
“My knee was bothering me a little bit. I just had a little bit of soreness in there that I worked through over the last day and a half,” Allen said. “Coming in this morning, it felt similar and I was kind of taking it hour-by-hour and seeing how it felt when I got down here and when I got down here, it felt better.
“This morning I just came in and got treatment and just try to play it by ear. That’s why I have a suit on in case I was on the bench. I honestly thought when I came down here, there might be a chance but I came down here as usual to be ready to play. It’s hard from one day to the next and then the day before say, ‘I’m not playing tomorrow’ because you feel a little soreness. You have to get in there and really put your body to the test and get it better. I got treatment and ice and by the time I got down here, I shot and felt a lot better and here I am.”
|Fast Break: New Celtics, familiar results||02.28.11 at 11:37 pm ET|
This is going to take some time, but while Celtics coach Doc Rivers learns how to use his new toys (he had Jeff Green playing everything from the 2-guard through the four-spot), the Celtics remain the Celtics in the fourth quarter. Locked in a tight battle with Utah, the veterans made the right plays and executed down the stretch.
Ray Allen and Paul Pierce made huge shots. Kevin Garnett was dominant defensively and on the boards and Rajon Rondo made the right decisions and also sank a crucial jumper. The Celtics won 107-102, which gave them a 3-1 West Coast trip and also kept them two games ahead of the Heat in the loss column for the best record in the conference.
They have the next six weeks to figure out what kind of team they will be, but when it comes time to win games, they haven’t forgotten their formula.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Kevin Garnett is Kevin Garnett again: In the midst of all the turmoil, Garnett has very quietly run off a string of double-doubles on this West Coast trip. After scoring 18 points to go with 14 rebounds he now has seven in his last eight games. Garnett was at his best, though, on the defensive end, where he switched over to Al Jefferson late in the game and shut the big man down.
The key moment came when Garnett and Jefferson were called for double technicals late in the fourth quarter. The T’s didn’t stop the chatter between the two players and Jefferson was obviously primed to get the ball and score. He got the ball, but Garnett gave ground at the right moment and caused a travel. It was a classic veteran trap and Jefferson fell right into it.
Rajon Rondo takeover: Rondo scored only six points in the first half and passed up a couple of easy looks to make passes instead, but in the second half he reverted back into an attacking machine. When Rondo doesn’t look for his offense he makes himself so much easier to defend. But when he keeps the threat of scoring alive, it makes him nearly impossible to defend.
Nenad Krstic is no Perk offensively: Krstic is known as a player who can step outside and make jump shots, but he’s also shown in limited time an ability to score with his back to the basket. The Celtics don’t use a lot of post-ups as part of their regular offense, but Krstic has a nice touch around the basket and is also able to roll smoothly to the basket. Offensively, he is a definite upgrade from Kendrick Perkins‘ limited repertoire.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Krstic is no Perk, defensively: Then there’s the other end of the floor. Krstic will get better as he gets used to playing in the Celtics’ defensive scheme (and also gets used to playing alongside Garnett). Early on he’s looked slow in rotations and a step behind the play. Krstic was also abused by Jefferson, who scored 18 of his 28 points in the first half. It wasn’t all Krstic’s fault, but the Jazz went flying through the lane time and again for layups. The Celtics will have to adjust to Krstic as much as he will have to adjust to them.
Glen Davis continues to struggle: Over his last three games, Davis has shot 9-for-28. Over the last two months Davis has been as up and down as any Celtic, but they keep using him in the fourth quarter. Davis remains the best — and maybe only — option for getting crunch-time minutes with the other four starters, but if Rivers wants to continue to experiment he may take a look at his closing lineup over the next month and a half.
Delonte West is hurt again: The Celtics got bad news even before this one started as West rolled his right ankle during an informal workout on Sunday. He missed Monday’s game with Utah and is likely to miss Wednesday’s game when the Celtics return home to play the Suns. With Nate Robinson in Oklahoma City, the Celtics are relying on West to be the third guard, not only backing up Rajon Rondo, but Ray Allen as well.
But it’s at backup point guard where they desperately need his steady hand and veteran experience. Rookie Avery Bradley took those minutes against Utah and was more aggressive and confident than he’s been to date, but Bradley is not the answer this season. The Celtics need West to be healthy.
|Doc Rivers hopes Jeff Green can be the new James Posey||02.25.11 at 7:14 pm ET|
Doc Rivers told reporters in Denver that he envisioned newly acquired guard/forward Jeff Green as being a player with the skill set to replicate the contributions made by James Posey in the team’s 2007-08 NBA title run. The Celtics coach suggested that the 24-year-old, whom Boston netted along with Nenad Krstic in exchange for center Kendrick Perkins and guard Nate Robinson, offered the ability to spread the floor with offensive weapons.
“We’ve been trying to get that lineup since Posey left. And I think people forget how many times we did that in the playoffs, which was every fourth quarter for the most part,” Rivers told reporters. “We haven’t been able to duplicate that.”
As for the decision to part with Perkins, who was also a part of that 2007-08 championship team, Rivers said that the performance of Shaquille O’Neal would be critical to the way in which the deal is assessed. O’Neal has not played since Feb. 1, but Rivers said that the 38-year-old is expected to return in good health.
“We need to get Shaq healthy. Shaq will be healthy. But if Shaq plays great, then this deal was obviously really, really good for us,” Rivers said. “And that’s on Shaq. Getting Shaq in great shape, getting him ready, getting him healthy is really going to be important for us in the playoffs.”
Meanwhile, though much of the attention on the locker room dynamics of the deal has fallen on the departure of Perkins from Boston, Green’s exit from Oklahoma City was being treated with comparable gravitas. About 12 minutes into his discussion of the deal with reporters at a press conference, Thunder GM Jeff Presti choked up when he discussed Green’s departure. Read the rest of this entry »
Celtics owner Steve Pagliuca checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show and guest hosts Mike Adams and Bob Halloran on Friday morning to talk about the C’s flurry of moves before Thursday’s trade deadline. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The big trade was Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. Pagliuca said he has confidence president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made the right call.
“I have mixed emotions,” Pagliuca said. “I loved Kendrick Perkins as a person and a player, and he helped us get a championship. So, that’s the tough part of the sports business. You’ve got to try to make the club better if you have opportunities. Danny’s done a great job at that over the last eight years, since we’ve been here. He assessed that this was something that would be great for the short run to help us win a championship again, and the longer run.
“I think it could be a win-win for both clubs. Because their club is full of shooters and they need somebody tough inside, and there’s nobody tougher than Kendrick. We picked up a guy, Jeff Green, who was drafted fifth, averaging 15 points a game, he can play the 3, the 4, maybe even the 2 at times. And Nenad Krstic, who’s a great shooter, which really balances [Rajon] Rondo out. Rondo will have a free lane now, because they’ve got to go out and cover Nenad, because he can hit the shot.”
Added Pagliuca: “Danny, again, I think has done a great job. Put the emotions aside — because he loves Kendrick as well — but this will be good for the club.”
The C’s also traded Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to the Cavaliers for a draft pick and shipped the injured Marquis Daniels to the Kings for another pick. This leaves some questions at the center position, as Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal remain sidelined with injuries. Pagliuca said that should turn around soon, as the Celtics’ bench will become a major strength.
“We got two starting players — one averaging 15 points a game; I think Kristic is averaging close to 10 — so, yeah, it’s going to make us very deep,” he said. “And on top of that, Shaq is working really hard to come back, and Jermaine is looking good; I saw him on the bike the other day. If all the things go our way, we’re going to have a very deep team going into the playoffs. And I think that’s what Danny wanted to accomplish.”
The other question concerns the toughness the Celtics lost with the departure of Perkins. “We’ve got a lot of tough players,” Pagliuca said. “Shaq’s a pretty tough player, and he’s coming back. He’s pretty tough in the paint there. [Glen Davis] is a tough player. Baby can bang with anybody. Krstic is also a fighter. He’s no wallflower as well. … He’s a fiery player and he wants to win. So, I think we’re going to be very tough and our guys will bring it up a notch.”
Celtics president Danny Ainge joined WEEI Thursday night to talk about the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, as well as the present and future of the team in the wake of the unexpected moves. Ainge said that he and coach Doc Rivers “agonized” over the decision but ultimately decided it was the best interest of the team.
“I’m as close to Perk as any of them,” Ainge said. “I have a great relationship with him. I brought him in as an 18-year-old. It was very difficult. We shed some tears today, talking to Perk. It was tough. He’s a good kid. I think he’s going to a great situation for himself and for his future. I think Oklahoma City is a top-notch franchise and they obviously have some great young players. He has a bright future there, so that does make it a little bit easier.”
Ainge said that while both his health and his pending free agency were concerns, neither one was a deciding factor in making the deal. “He wanted to test the market. Last time, he didn’t test the market, and this time he wanted to see what his value was, and that was a concern,” Ainge said. “It wasn’t so much of a concern that we would have done something just for that purpose. But the fact we were able in our opinion to help our team for this year and protect ourselves for the future was very good for us.”
On the new additions, Green and Krstic, Ainge said: “We’re really excited with the guys that we got. Jeff Green is a terrific player. He’s a versatile player. He’s playing 37 minutes on one of the top teams in the West as a starter. He’s 24 years old. He brings length and athleticism to the game and great versatility. And we like Krstic. Krstic is a terrific shooter. I think he complements Rondo’s game very well in that he’s another guy that can knock down that mid-range jump shot.”
Ainge noted that Shaquille O’Neal was a week away from returning and that he likely would have come back before Perkins did from his knee strain. He also said that he thought O’Neal would be better suited as a starter than someone coming off the bench and that the team played better when Shaq was in the starting lineup. “Shaq has proven to be excellent with our starters,” he said. “The numbers actually show that he has been better with our starters. We beat all the good teams in the league while Kendrick was out.”
As for the developing veteran free agent market, Ainge said that the Celtics would like add a wing, a frontline player and possibly a guard, although he said that was probably the least of their priorities. He added that they may sign just two players and leave another spot available for now.
To listen to the complete interview, click here.