|Fast Break: Celtics can’t catch up to Thunder||01.16.12 at 10:32 pm ET|
In a reminder of just how different this team is from the one that won the NBA title in 2008, the Celtics welcomed former center Kendrick Perkins to town, and his new team handed his (really) old team their fifth straight defeat, 97-88.
As Kevin Durant (28 points) and Russell Westbrook (26 points) combined for 54 points, the Thunder improved to 12-2 with their sixth road win in seven tries, leaving the Celtics (4-8) still searching for their first victory against a .500-plus team.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Slow me the way: The Celtics shot 34.1 percent in the first half and failed to scored 40 points before the break for the fourth time in six games, trailing the Thunder 46-39 after the opening 24 minutes. Once again, the C’s dug themselves into an early hole and spent the rest of the night tiring themselves out trying to dig out of it. Twice in the second half — once in the third and again late in the fourth quarter — they made runs to get back into the game, only to watch OKC widen the gap again.
Can they get a lift? The Celtics made a concerted effort to get to the rim, and they succeeded in getting to the basket, but their old legs just didn’t have the lift to finish the job. Thunder forward Serge Ibaka totaled four blocks in the first half alone, leaving the C’s with little to show for their effort.
Russell Westbrook > Rajon Rondo: At least for one night, in a battle of two point guards who have been mentioned in possible trade scenarios for each other, Westbrook got the best of his counterpart Rondo. Sure, Rondo nearly had a triple-double (12 points, 9 assists, 9 rebounds, 4 turnovers), but Westbrook buried impossibly big shot after impossibly big shot down the stretch, totaling 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
WHAT WENT RIGHT Read the rest of this entry »
|Celtics montage: ‘Thank you’ Kendrick Perkins||at 8:56 pm ET|
In a Jumbotron montage, the Celtics paid homage to former center Kendrick Perkins, who returned to the Garden for the first time since being traded at the deadline to the Thunder for Jeff Green last February. Perkins started for the C’s during their 2008 NBA championship run, and if not for a knee injury in Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals, he may have won a second title in green. Following the tribute, in classic Perk form, he waved to the crowd in gratitude before resuming an argument with a referee about a call he took umbrage with earlier in the first half.
|NBA Power Rankings, 1/3||01.03.12 at 10:54 pm ET|
With the Celtics, Lakers, Mavericks and Spurs all hovering around .500 through the first two weeks of this shortened season, has the balance of NBA power officially shifted? The way I see it, a team can own any of three distinct advantages after an abbreviated training camp and during a season in which they’re playing every other night: 1) an experienced core; 2) young, athletic talent; and 3) depth. The Celtics own one of those advantages.
In the early going, the power picture remains blurry, so I’m taking a new approach to the rankings: Who would win a seven-game series if they played right now? For example, I’m of the opinion the C’s would lose a playoff series to any of the five teams ranked higher than them and defeat any of the 24 teams ranked lower. Got it? Good.
1. Miami (5-1): The Heat returned an experienced core, possess a ton of talented young athletes and got deeper with the additions of free agent Shane Battier and rookie Norris Cole. There’s a reason Dwyane Wade & Co. are better than 2-to-1 favorites to win the NBA title. This season is so short, LeBron James might not even have time to figure out a new way to choke.
2. Oklahoma City (5-1): The Thunder won five of their first six games, and Russell Westbrook (38.0 FG%, 10.0 3P%) hasn’t even hit his stride yet. They’re incredibly young, incredibly talented and incredibly deep. And they also have Kendrick Perkins. I kid. I kid.
4. Dallas (2-4): Without Tyson Chandler holding down the paint, the Mavericks rank 27th in the league in both rebounding and points allowed. Meanwhile, Lamar Odom‘s field goal percentage (19.5%) is almost as bad as his success rate in getting Khloe Kardashian pregnant (too soon?). Yet, the Larry O’Brien trophy remains in Dallas — probably on Mark Cuban‘s pillow, but still.
5. L.A. Lakers (3-3): Even after Andrew Bynum‘s four-game suspension combined with Kobe Bryant‘s wrist injury and a back-to-back-to-back to start the season, the Lakers emerged 3-3. It could be worse. Don’t forget: It’s never a good think when Black Mamba has a chip on his shoulder, and he might lose a cool $75 million for allegedly cheating on his wife Vanessa (who woulda thunk it?). Read the rest of this entry »
|NBA Offseason Review: Northwest Division||12.20.11 at 7:43 pm ET|
Given the drama (and comedy) that was the NBA lockout, the ensuing free agency frenzy and the vetoed trade by a commissioner of a group of owners who was acting as the general manager of an individual team that is owned by that same group of owners, it’s easy to get confused about who landed where. This is the second of six daily division-by-division reviews leading up to opening day.
NBA Offseason Review: Pacific Division
2010-11 record: 17-65
2010-11 standing: 5th in Northwest Division
NBA draft picks: 2. Derrick Williams; 43. Malcolm Lee
Key additions: Ricky Rubio (Spain); J.J. Barea (free agent); Brad Miller (trade)
Key substractions: Jonny Flynn (trade); Lazar Hayward (trade)
2011-12 starters: PG Ricky Rubio; SG Wesley Johnson; SF Michael Beasley; PF Kevin Love; C Darko Milicic
2011-12 wins over/under (sportsbook.com): 15.5
2011-12 prediction: 21-45
2010-11 record: 48-34
2010-11 standing: 3rd in Northwest Division; lost Western Conference first round, 4-2
NBA draft picks: 21. Nolan Smith; 51. Jon Diebler; 57. Tanguy Ngombo
Key additions: Jamal Crawford (free agent) Raymond Felton (trade); Kurt Thomas (free agent)
Key substractions: Andre Miller (trade); Brandon Roy (retired); Patrick Mills (free agent)
2011-12 starters: PG Felton; SG Wesley Matthews; SF Gerald Wallace; PF LaMarcus Aldridge; C Marcus Camby
2011-12 wins over/under (sportsbook.com): 41.5
2011-12 prediction: 39-27
|Irish Coffee: Boston Charity Classic leftovers (mmm … leftovers)||11.22.11 at 2:34 pm ET|
How fleeting Rajon Rondo‘s Boston Charity Classic was, providing Celtics fans a glimpse of the past, present and future for just one Saturday night before the cold reality of the NBA lockout endures into the winter. All that remains is this highlight package I put together and a few interesting quotes from the postgame interviews. It is the week of Thanksgiving after all, so here are some leftovers from what was a fun evening on the Harvard campus.
CELTICS CAPTAIN PAUL PIERCE
On decertifications: “A lot of players looked to me for leadership when they talk about negotiations, when they talk about options, when they talk about decertification. A lot of guys ask me, and what I did with that was just kind of give them the information. At the end of the day, as a whole, players gotta make a vote — make a choice whether to negotiate, decertify or file an antitrust lawsuit.”
On negotiations: “Right now, I want to get a deal. I want to play. I don’t have too many more years left. But we want the right deal. I think that’s the most important thing.”
On ultimatums: “We don’t feel like it’s a fair deal. If we did, we would have signed it, obviously. Maybe some players do, some players don’t, but as a majority we didn’t feel that was the right deal for us. … If I had a vote, would I make the deal now? You know what? I don’t think the deal that’s on the table is a deal that I would take.”
On meetings: “I wasn’t at the last couple meetings, so it kind of took me by surprise that last day when they broke up the union. So, a lot of that really took me by surprise, but I don’t think it was mentioned to bring it to the whole body, the whole union for a vote. The player representatives get a vote, and we’re at where we’re at.”
On veterans: “A lot of the older guys are kind of different players in this, because it’s for the older guys to say, ‘Take the deal, we already have contracts, we’re on our last two or three years and finish out.’ But it’s something bigger than everybody’s individual legacy. It’s about the future of the league, and that’s what we talked about when we get together. Me, Ray [Allen], Kobe [Bryant], guys who are veterans in the league — we feel like that’s the most important thing moving forward with the NBA.”
|Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo consider overseas options||11.20.11 at 11:57 am ET|
In the past, Paul Pierce has stated his desire to play in either Italy or Greece after his Celtics career is finished and before his retirement begins. For better or worse, the NBA lockout might offer that opportunity prematurely.
“I’ve been thinking about it, truthfully,” Pierce said at the Boston Charity Classic on Saturday night, addressing Italy specifically. “I love the game of basketball. It’s a shame I’m sitting at home not playing, so it’s definitely crossed my mind. Maybe I’ll think about it around mid-December. If I can see that there is no future of the league starting this year, then that’s definitely a strong possibility.”
Likewise, Celtics teammate Rajon Rondo and good friend Kendrick Perkins have discussed playing abroad as a package deal. Yahoo! Sports first reported that their representatives have put out feelers to foreign teams.
“You never know,” said Rondo. “I’m still here being a family man and just trying to do the right thing and staying in shape. I probably won’t make that decision until January. Me and Perk have talked about doing package deals, but right now we’re just enjoying our time. For me, it’s a gift and a curse. I’m trying to get as healthy as possible with all my injuries. But I’m ready to play.”
Rondo, who said his injured left elbow felt “good” after the game, has no offers currently on the table. In recent months, with players such as Kobe Bryant, the difference between the money foreign teams can offer and the insurance premiums for a star player has been too minimal to make economic sense. Since both Perkins and Rondo both finished this past NBA season battling serious injuries, they’ll likely face the same issue.
|Nate Robinson loves locked out sports||07.12.11 at 2:16 pm ET|
Quite an offseason for former Celtics guard Nate Robinson. First, he was arrested for urinating on a bookstore in a New York City suburb. Now, after joining hundreds of players in the unemployment line due to the NBA lockout, the former University of Washington two-sport athlete is hoping to spend his summer trying out for the NFL. Here’s what the 5-foot-9 Robinson told SLAM Magazine:
“I might go play football. Do something that nobody’s tried to do. If I can, I would love to play football a little bit. I’ve been doing a little bit of training. Why wouldn’t you want to have an NBA player that can play football try out? That’s a lot of publicity for your organization.”
There’s one little problem: The NFL is locked out, too. Kinda makes you realize why Robinson decided to pull up for 3-pointers when he was on a 1-on-4 fast break. It’s fairly safe to assume Nate Robinson is the best two-sport locked out athlete in history.
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