|Doc Rivers plan for his four All-Stars||02.04.11 at 12:19 am ET|
Before the announcement that the Celtics would have four All-Stars was made official, Doc Rivers joked that he would play the four of them together with whatever player was closest to free agency, “Just so they could see how it feels.” So, get ready Dwight Howard to run with Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
For only the ninth time in NBA history, one team will have four representatives in the All-Star Game. Not surprisingly, the Celtics have done it more than any other teams (four), but to underscore how rare an achievement it actually is, no Celtics team has done it since 1975 when Paul Silas, JoJo White, John Havlicek and Dave Cowens all went together.
“I think it says that the coaches in the league recognize team basketball,” Rivers said.
The team aspect is what has come to define the 2010-11 Celtics. Pierce, Allen and Garnett each average between 11-13 shots per game and 15-19 points. That no one player dominates the scoring is what makes them so successful. An opposing team can try to take one of them out of the equation, but that just opens the door for one of the others.
The Celtics shoot the highest percentage in the league and have the third most assists. Those two things are not a coincidence. Without Rondo to operate the machine they often sputter. Rondo may not be the “best point guard in the NBA,” but he may be the one who can run the Celtics better than anyone else.
If one of them is out, it alters the chemistry just enough to make the Celtics slightly less menacing. “That’s what makes it so difficult,” Rivers said when asked which one was the hardest to replace. “Any one guy that’s out, it hurts our team. We’re so together as a group. There’s not one guy ‘ one guy out affects the entire team.”
The Celtics are where they are with the best record in the Eastern Conference because they have learned how to adjust with one of them is injured. But their championship credentials rely on having them all together.
|Four Celtics headed for All-Star Game||02.03.11 at 7:13 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo were all named to the 2011 NBA All-Star Game on Thursday night, joining head coach Doc Rivers on the Eastern Conference team. It’s the ninth time in NBA history that four teammates have been named to one squad, and the first since 2006 when the Pistons had four. The Celtics have done it three times ‘ 1953, 1962 and 1975.
|Doc Rivers makes his case for 4 Celtics as All-Stars||at 4:04 pm ET|
WALTHAM — After getting snubbed by the fans and being left without a single All-Star starter, the Celtics could get their retribution when All-Star reserves are announced Thursday night.
The Celtics have four viable candidates in Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. By virtue of having the top record in the Eastern Conference, Doc Rivers will have the honor of coaching the East All-Stars on Feb. 20 in Los Angeles.
“I think I should get four guys on the roster,” Rivers said following practice Thursday. “If I don’t, I’d be very disappointed and if I do, I’ll just play them all together. That way we can run offense in the All-Star Game. That’d be a first.”
The Detroit Pistons had four All-Stars on the Eastern squad in 2006 but it is very rare for one team – no matter how good their record – to place four players on a team.
“If it happens, and let’s hope it happens, then my choice will be who will be the fifth, Some interesting combinations you can throw out,” said Rivers, before adding who he might throw out onto the court with his four players.
“Whoever is closest to free agency just so they can see how it would feel. I think it should happen. It’s clear. It’d be nice. You look at the four guys, all of them have really sacrificed their individual numbers for team wins and sometimes that’s held against them and I hope it’s not in this case.”
The Celtics have thus far avoided a second-half letdown like the one that hurt them last season, costing them homecourt advantage for most of the playoffs. Rivers acknowledged that the obvious reason is the health of Kevin Garnett, but he noted that there are other factors as well, including having a healthy Paul Pierce.
“People forget, both were injured. Paul Pierce had the knee surgery as well as Kevin Garnett,” Rivers said. “So, I think those two things are the biggest difference. And [Rajon] Rondo is another year [more experienced], playing great. And Ray Allen is having an unbelievable season. I think all those, in the one basket, is the reason we’re playing well. But the big key is Kevin and Paul.”
Allen gave a fiery speech before Rivers entered the locker room at halftime of Tuesday’s victory over the Kings. Rivers said Allen got everyone’s attention because he’s not normally that vocal.
“Yeah, that was out of the ordinary, for sure. The tone and just the entire speech,” Rivers said. “It was more about playing the right away. And you could hear it. It was at the second unit. He wasn’t mad at the starters. it was all directed to the second unit. The starters came out and played great to start that game, and then the second unit kind of let it go. And it was more how they’re were playing. And that’s what he was frustrated with.”
Reggie Miller has said he’s cheering for Allen to break his record for most 3-pointers all-time, as Allen is within eight of the former Pacers star and current TNT analyst. However, the hosts said they don’t believe Miller, never known for his graciousness during his playing days, is telling the truth. “No, I don’t believe him, either,” Rivers said. “I’m going to call ‘bull’ on that one with Reggie.”
|Irish Coffee: Avery Bradley’s stock rising||02.01.11 at 11:34 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Avery Bradley‘s move to Maine has been the best thing for both him and the Celtics.
The C’s first-round selection in the 2010 NBA draft, Bradley took his talents to Portland when the team sent him to the NBA Development League, and he’s beginning to prove himself as one of the (minor) league’s best.
The 20-year-old is flourishing in the NBADL, gaining valuable experience. But the value of his performance might be even greater for the Celtics. Because there’s no urgency to force a young kid into the rotation, the C’s — if necessary — can either call on a kid who two years ago was ranked higher than John Wall as a high school player or shop him with all the leverage in a trade discussion.
Either way, it’s a win-win — another great pick by president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. Bradley is a valuable member of this Celtics team, even if he’s not playing for them. Look at his averages while playing just 30 minutes a night in seven games (4 starts) for the Maine Red Claws:
- Points: 15.3
- Assists: 5.0
- Rebounds: 3.9
- Steals: 0.4
- Blocks: 0.4
- Turnovers: 4.3
- FG percentage: 39.8
- 3-point FG percentage: 36.4
- FT percentage: 83.3
Sure, his turnovers and field-goal percentage could use some improvement, but his offensive production has been better than expected, considering his defensive ability has always been his greatest strength. Here’s how ESPNU described his game when they ranked him as the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2009:
|Irish Coffee: Interpreting Celtics vs. Lakers||01.31.11 at 1:07 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Considering all the stars on and off the court — for both teams — at Sunday’s game between the Celtics and Lakers, you would’ve thought there’d have been some great Twitter messages in the aftermath of the C’s 109-96 victory at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. There wasn’t, so I made them up anyway. Here’s my interpretation of what the players and celebrity fans should’ve Tweeted throughout the finals rematch:
- Matt Damon: “The Celtics are showing ‘True Grit’. The Lakers are playing like True …”
- Jimmy Kimmel: “I’m feeling Matt Damon.”
- Ron Artest: “Is this my second season with the Lakers? Time to check out.”
- Phil Jackson: “I’m going to kill Ron Art– (deep breath) Serenity now!!!”
- Kobe Bryant: “The ring I bought my wife and Artest’s contract cost the same. And I’m sorry for both.”
- Robert Rodriguez: “Black Mamba seems like a strange nickname for a guy who was once arrested for sexual assault, but let’s go with it Kobe!”
- Derek Fisher: “A cheerleader blew me a kiss, and I thought I got shot. I flopped like 10 feet backwards!”
- Zac Efron: “Who’s worse at acting: Me or Fisher?”
- Paul Pierce: “The only way I could’ve made this win better is to get the wheelchair involved.”
- Adam Sandler: “KG told a ballboy he had a better chance of catching Bin Laden than getting an autograph? Was it Bobby Boucher? ‘Stop making fun of me!'”
- Kevin Garnett: “It wasn’t a good week for me and things that hold balls. Just ask Channing Frye.”
- George Lopez: “Wait, why aren’t I rooting for the Nuggets? They have Eduardo Najera!”
- Glen Davis: “Coach told me to treat Odom and Andrew Bynum like a bowl of gumbo. Eat ’em up. Ayo!”
- Lamar Odom: “I’m not sure whose badonkadonk is bigger: Big Baby’s or Khloe Kardashian‘s.”
- John Lackey: “Who’s better looking: Me or Semih Erden?”
- Brooklyn Decker: “I love basketball. How many touchdowns does Kobe have? Oh, and who’s better looking: Me or John Lackey’s wife?”
- Joey Crawford: “Wait, Kendrick Perkins is back? (whistle) Technical foul, No. 43.”
- Kendrick Perkins: “Two technicals in two nights. I’m in midseason form!”
|On the Celtics and clutch plays||01.28.11 at 3:02 pm ET|
Over on True Hoop, Henry Abbott wrote a post about one of his favorite topics: The perception of Kobe Bryant as a clutch player versus the reality of his numbers in ‘clutch’ situations. Abbott’s main point is that Bryant makes about one-third of his shots in the clutch, which is about average for every other player in the league.
This is one those third-rail arguments that generate lots of heat and discussions since Bryant fans will never concede on the clutch argument. They have watched him make too many big shots. On the other side, this is manna for Bryant opponents since they have likewise watched him miss contested shots with the game on the line.
The thing that truly stands about Bryant is this regard is that if the game’s on the line he’s going to take the shot. Abbott points to a five-year study done by Roland Beech at 82games.com that shows that Bryant took 56 shots in clutch situations and had just one assist. The other thing that stood about the study? Paul Pierce had the most assists in those situations with nine.
There are a number of different conclusions one can jump based just on those numbers, but let’s start with the idea that Bryant, and therefore the Lakers, are relatively easy to defend in late-game situations because everyone knows that Bryant is going to take the shot. Maybe easy isn’t the right word, since defending Bryant is no one’s idea of a good time. Let’s say instead that they are predictable.
The Celtics have their own version of Kobe in the clutch: Pierce at the elbow. Time and again the Celtics return to sets that puts the ball in Pierce’s hands near the top of the key where he attempts to work into his sweet spot at the elbow for a 15-foot jump shot. There are good reasons for this, most prominently is that Pierce is the Celtics’ best one-on-one player and the one who is best able to create his own shot.
When it works, Pierce is a cold-blooded assassin. And when it doesn’t, fans scream that it’s a predictable, low-percentage play.
Despite this tendency, the Celtics and coach Doc Rivers also have a well-deserved reputation for coming up with interesting plays out of timeouts. Just this year alone there was the gorgeous Rajon Rondo lob to Kevin Garnett that beat the 76ers and this motion set that gave Ray Allen a 3 that put the Celtics ahead of Detroit.
The point is that in late-game situations opponents can never be too sure where the Celtics are going. Sometimes they aren’t either. Most of Rivers’ plays have multiple options that rely on his players reacting to the different looks the defenses give them.
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra noted in a radio interview that he had “great respect” for the plays Rivers draws up out of timeouts. Spoelstra said, “They always seem to come out with something. You don’t know which guy they’re going to, and they execute well.”
Take for example that Pierce game-winner against the Heat in Game 3 of last year’s playoffs. On the surface it seemed like an ordinary ISO play for Pierce, but there were other factors.
“We had two plays called just in case they fouled,” Rivers said after the game. “What we tried to get is Paul facing the basket because it’s very difficult to commit a foul when you’re facing. If you reach and grab he’ll throw the ball up. The whole play was for Paul, but we wanted activity.”
This, ultimately, is what you want out of late-game situations. A play with movement and options that leads to the best shot available by the player who is most willing to take it. Give Bryant this: He doesn’t shy away from the moment. That may not make him a clutch shooter, but he is completely unafraid of the situation. Perhaps, as Abbott suggests, to his detriment.
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