|The NBA 30 on 30: Blogosphere Forecast (6 of 7)||10.26.10 at 1:14 pm ET|
NBA fans live a team’s ups and downs. They react to every draft pick, trade and free-agent signing. They debate the merits of the 15th man. They find significance in the most insignificant stats. They simply KNOW their team. So, too, do bloggers. That’s why we sought the opinion of the league’s best blogs — one for each of the 30 teams — to break down the team they cover and, of course, the Celtics.
ON THE NETS: I think the Nets are going to surprise some people this year and be a lot better than last year.
Not Oklahoma City Thunder good, but maybe eighth seed in the East good, which could still be below .500.
I think Brook Lopez is going to go a long way in establishing himself as an All-Star, and while I’m advocating being patient with Derrick Favors, I see him being used to lure a superstar over to New Jersey this season (Carmelo Anthony?).
ON THE CELTICS: The Celtics are clearly the class of the Atlantic Division this season, and they’re once again one of the favorites to be representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
With their age, I can see them hitting some ruts during the regular season, and of course all of their core guys have to be healthy for the playoff run, but the Celtics are one of the few teams out there that I think are capable of defensively shutting down Superfriends in Miami.
With that in mind, I’ll be rooting for them if/when their paths cross.
ON THE KNICKS: The Knicks will be improved, assuming Amar’e Stoudemire stays healthy.
They need the trio of Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chander and Anthony Randolph to make strides on both sides of the ball to get the most out of Mike D’Antoni‘s transition offense quarterbacked by Raymond Felton.
Of course, the Carmelo Anthony situation will continue to loom, and this is a pressure-packed season for the coach, seeing that his system has taken a tremendous hit with fans over the last two years.
They still have roster flexibility, and I expect them to land Anthony, but in the meantime they have to consistently win free-throw attempt battles and out-rebound their opponents. Those are two constants for playoff teams.
If they do that — and knock down their open jumpers — they’ll be a playoff team. If they don’t, it could be another lost season in the Big Apple.
ON THE CELTICS: I actually love what the Celtics did this offseason. To this day, I think they beat the Lakers if Kendrick Perkins doesn’t get hurt.
But they’ve loaded up the front line with size, and age, with both Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal, which is key because of the status of Perkins’ health — and it makes them deeper up front against the likes of Miami and Orlando.
The Celts owned the Magic last postseason because they chose to guard Dwight Howard 1-on-1 in the post, and it proved effective as he couldn’t kick out to open shooters. Perhaps more importantly, with the Big 3 in Miami, I believe the Heat are vulnerable up front. That’s the way to attack them.
If Rajon Rondo continues off his impressive playoff performance and the Celtics maintain health, then they should be right there in the end once again.
Off the floor, I love the addition of Lawrence Frank, one of the most prepared minds in the game today.
ON THE 76ERS: The Sixers had an up-and-down summer. New general manager Rod Thorn and head coach Doug Collins are both clear upgrades.
Sending Willie Green and Jason Smith out of town was a case of addition by subtraction.
Evan Turner is taking his lumps right now, but while he may not be scoring as much as we’d hoped, he’s producing in other areas and contributing while figuring out the difference between the Big Ten and the NBA.
I’d be feeling much better about the Sixers’ prospects if it wasn’t for the Samuel Dalembert trade. Ed Stefanski pulled the trigger on a deal that basically gutted the Sixers interior defense and defensive rebounding without a thought to who would fill that void.
To make matters worse, he took back the second year on Andres Nocioni‘s contract in the deal, which submarined the Sixers’ cap space for next summer. It was a horrible trade from every angle.
If the Dalembert trade hadn’t been made, I’d feel pretty confident in predicting a 10-15 game turnaround for this team and probably a trip to the playoffs in Colllins’ first season at the helm.
As things stand, however, the Sixers’ talented perimeter players won’t be able to cover for their feeble stable of bigs, and it’s a stretch to think they’ll win 35 games. If I had to make a prediction today, I’d say 30-52.
ON THE CELTICS: From the outside, looking in, the Celtics don’t look as strong as they did last season.
Their core is a year older, and the addition of Shaq is going to open some major holes in their defense.
That being said, they have a cakewalk through the Atlantic, and they’ll probably finish somewhere between the No. 2 and 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, depending on health.
If Kendrick Perkins comes back healthy in time for the playoffs, they could make a return trip to the Finals, but I think that’s a bit of a long shot.
ON THE RAPTORS: 26 wins.
The Raptors aren’t as bad as ESPN is making them out to be. They could be on par or better than teams like Philadelphia, Indiana, New Jersey, Detroit, Washington and New York, so there will be wins to be had.
The defensive effort has been solid in training camp, and if the Raptors can get consistent offensive production out of Andrea Bargnani and the Italian improves his defensive awareness, they have enough players who can play and carry the load.
Jarrett Jack, Linas Kleiza and Leandro Barbosa can complement the youth of DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson, but the question will be whether the Raptors can rely on their defense to keep them in games when their star-starved offense goes into a funk.
Last year, they were dead last in defensive rating. If they can become a middle-of-the-pack team, it could be a decent rebuilding year, but I don’t see the playoffs on the horizon.
ON THE CELTICS: The health of the two O’Neals and Kevin Garnett will dictate how the Celtics will fare.
The Raptors saw first-hand how volatile things can be with Jermaine O’Neal if he’s injured, and if you have to rely on Shaq giving you cover at center, then the Celtics could be in trouble in the postseason, much like they were when Perkins went down in the Finals.
From what I’ve seen of Rajon Rondo, he looks to have improved his outside game to the point where he can make a sagging defense pay.
Barring injury, I’d pick the Celtics to win 57 games but lose to the Bulls in the postseason (yes, I think the Bulls will be good) as Tom Thibodeau comes back to haunt you.
If injuries hit early, there will be a firesale.
Stay tuned for the final portion of this seven-part series: the Boston Celtics.
|Fast Break: Celtics – Knicks||03.17.10 at 8:55 pm ET|
The Celtics improved to 22-13 on St. Patrick’s Day with a 109-97 win over the Knicks on Wednesday in Boston.
Powered by 29 points from Paul Pierce, the Celtics led by as many as 27 in the third quarter. Kevin Garnett was right behind Pierce with 22 points and Marquis Daniels added 10 off the bench. Kendrick Perkins pulled down 12 rebounds while Rajon Rondo dished as many assists.
Davis Lee led the Knicks with 29 points. Former Celtics Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens 8 and 4, respectively.
Player of the Game: Paul Pierce scored 16 of his 29 points in the third quarter alone. It was Pierce’s highest game total since scoring 35 against the Hawks on January 29. He finished the night shooting 11-for-17 FG, 3-for-6 3PG, and 4-for-5 FT.
Turning Point: The Celtics accumulated a double-digit lead six minutes into the game. They led 35-19 after the first quarter, and that was with Pierce going scoreless in just 1:51 (he was sidelined with two fouls).
– The Celtics first five field goals came in the paint. They outscored the Knicks 56-44 in the paint overall.
– The last time Kendrick Perkins grabbed more than 10 rebounds was February 18 against the Lakers (14). It is only the second time since the All-Star Break that he has reached double-digits in boards.
– J.R. Giddens played his first game since undergoing knee surgery six weeks ago. It was his first game in a Knicks uniform and the first time he played at TD Garden since January 18 (as a member of the Celtics).
– Nate Robinson scored 8 points in 21 minutes against his former team.
– The Celtics improved to 12-2 in the Atlantic Division. They are now 7-1 at home on Wednesdays.
|Giddens reacts to trade||02.18.10 at 8:43 pm ET|
Giddens, who turned 25 last week, has been in Boston rehabbing his left knee (meniscus surgery) and predicts he could play in the next three-to-four weeks, depending on the Knicks’ assessment. He expects to leave for New York on Friday morning, and shared his thoughts on his past and present teams:
What was your reaction when you heard you were being traded to New York?
Well I was excited, but it was bittersweet just because I really wanted to do well and show the city of Boston what I could do. But hopefully the Knicks will give me the opportunity.
Why do you think you will be a good fit for Mike D’Antoni’s system?
As a ballplayer, I’ve got to think that I’m a good fit in any system. I’ve had three different college coaches. Then me being athletic in this system because he likes to run-and-gun and get up and down, I’m athletic and I’m best in transition. I could really use my athleticism to help them.
How did playing in Boston in under such a big spotlight prepare you for playing in Madison Square Garden?
Well New York is the mecca of basketball and Boston is a championship town and it’s so traditional. Both of them are obviously so rich with basketball tradition. Being out here and seeing how people appreciate basketball, it gives you that love for the game, and I’ll carry that over to New York if I’m given the right opportunity.
Can you sum up your time in Boston — what you learned and what it meant to play for the Celtics?
I learned a lot from a lot of the veterans and just being under the tutelage of Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers. You get to see great leaders and how they prepare themselves every day and just how they approach life. Just seeing Kevin (Garnett), Paul (Pierce), and Ray (Allen), and even guys like (Rajon) Rondo that are coming into their own, I can see how they conduct business every day, prepare their bodies, the preparation they go into every game with. Just as far as the physical and mental aspect of the game, they taught me a lot. And sitting on the bench with guys like Rasheed (Wallace) and (Brian) Scalabrine, Scal talked to me so much and helped educate me on situations in the game and just how to have my mental.
I think that I was like the little brother to everybody out there, so everybody kind of passed on a little bit of knowledge to me. From the head of the organization down, I’ve had so many heartfelt conversations with even trainers, ball boys, doctors, some of the veterans, some of the young guys, everybody. When you’re a young guy on the team, everybody has some wisdom to give you. So I’ve learned so much that I just feel blessed to be in that position. Now hopefully if the situation’s different, I can apply that on court in New York or wherever I get my chance.
Yeah, I’ll still be with those guys and familiar with them, being them for two years now.
What are you most looking forward to about being a Knick?
I’m just looking forward to starting fresh and hopefully getting the opportunity to show coach and players that I can help them win games and that I’m a good player and somebody that they’d like to have on their team.
You have that shamrock tattooed behind your ear. What’s next?
With the shamrock, it took me 22 years to get drafted to the NBA and the Celtics were the first team that gave me the opportunity to go on and play professional and follow my dreams and my heart. Every one of my tattoos means something so that’s always going to be my first, so the shamrock stays.
|Report: C’s trying to acquire Robinson||01.20.10 at 1:18 pm ET|
Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports reported that the Boston Celtics have made an offer to the New York Knicks for guard Nate Robinson. Robinson was the 21st selection of the 2005 NBA Draft, chosen by the Phoenix Suns before being traded to the New York Knicks. Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni removed Robinson from the Knicks’ rotation for 14 games earlier this season and Robinson’s agent has since urged the team to deal Robinson. Check back for more as this story as it develops. Click here to check out Robinson’s stats.
|Pruitt signs with Knicks||09.11.09 at 5:06 pm ET|
Former Celtics guard Gabe Pruitt has signed a contract with the New York Knicks, according to statement issued by the team. Terms were not disclosed per team policy. Pruitt became a free agent this summer when the Celtics did not pick up the option on his contract. A former second round pick in the 2007 draft out of USC, Pruitt appeared in 62 games and averaged 2.0 points per game over the last two seasons for the Celtics.
|Source: Hill leaning toward Phoenix||07.10.09 at 8:56 am ET|
A source close to the situation has told WEEI.com Grant Hill is leaning toward re-signing with the Phoenix Suns. The 36-year-old forward has been a free agent prospect for the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks, among other teams, this summer. The Celtics have been eyeing Hill as a potential back up for Paul Pierce, a major hole in last season’s bench.
According to the source, Hill’s concern with coming to Boston is the decreased role, not the money. He has spent most of his 14-year career as a starter and averaged nearly 30 minutes with the Suns last season. (He has never averaged less than 29 minutes per game.) The Celtics do not have anywhere close to that to offer with the starting lineup playing the majority of minutes and the recent signing of Rasheed Wallace.
Although they have expressed their interest to Hill, the Celtics know they are not the only team in the picture. “I don’t even allow myself to go there, optimistic or pessimistic,” Danny Ainge said on Thursday at Wallace’s introductory press conference. “He knows our desire for him. We know his interest in us.”
Hill averaged 12.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists last season while shooting 52.3% from the field. He has also averaged 16.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists in 22 playoff games.
Update: Yahoo! Sports has reported Hill has decided to re-sign with the Suns.
|Three’s Company||02.06.09 at 8:13 pm ET|
NEW YORK ‘ The New York Knicks have not held anything back from behind the arc against the Boston Celtics this season. In their first three match ups, the Knicks attempted 80 three-point shots, 22 more than the Celtics. On Friday night the Celtics were ready to counter the offensive assault.
Before the game Glen Davis extended his warm ups to the three-point line. Big Baby knocked down three consecutive shots from the top of the arc. Moments later, Ray Allen took target practice from the bench. In a close competition with Celtics assistant coach Mike Longabardi, Allen took shot after shot frim his seat. And not to be outdone, Leon Powe drained a three from the sidelines in front of a surprised Patrick O’Bryant.
The Celtics knew what they were in for. At the end of the first quarter alone, the Knicks had shot 4-for-10 from long range.
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