|Celtics Bench Falls to Knicks||10.20.09 at 10:41 pm ET|
The Celtics and Knicks entered Tuesday’s game with the same goal: to win. But the two teams had different underlying objectives. For the Knicks, it was about getting a victory from their starting unit. For the Celtics, it was about developing the bench in what looks to be the Big Three’s final game of the preseason.
Despite losing, 108-103 (recap here), Doc Rivers told the media after the game there were plenty of things for him to be pleased with, including the development of the second unit. Below are numbers and notes from Tuesday’s game:
- Managing Minutes: None of the Celtics starters played over 30 minutes. In fact they only combined for 130 minutes, compared to the Knicks starters with 157. Final counts for the starting five: Rajon Rondo (27), Ray Allen (30), Kevin Garnett (24), Paul Pierce (26), Kendrick Perkins (23).
- More than the Second Unit: Rivers added Brian Scalabrine and J.R. Giddens to the mix with Eddie House, Marquis Daniels, and Rasheed Wallace in the fourth quarter. Scalabrine and Giddens came into the game down 98-90 and were part of an 11-1 Celtics run.
- Getting Chippy: Preseason action got heated in the second quarter as the Celtics and Knicks exchanged flagrant fouls in a matter of a minute. First House was whistled for a flagrant against Jared Jeffries, which sent Jeffries to the ground. (House did help him to his feet.) Nate Robinson followed up with a push that sent Rondo into the scorers table. Garnett was also called for a technical foul in the third quarter.
- Three’s Not Company: Last season the Celtics were hampered by the Magic’s long-range shooting during the Eastern Conference Semifinals. On Tuesday they faced the same challenge as the Knicks shot 13-for-36 (36.1%), compared to the Celtics 6-for-24 (25.0%). The Knicks’ missed their fair amount of three-pointers, but at the end of the game they still put 39 points on the board from behind the arc.
The Celtics will take on the Cavaliers on the road on Wednesday night. Don’t expect to see Pierce, Allen, or Garnett on the court for the final game of the preseason. Catch their regular season debuts in Cleveland next Tuesday.
|Fun With Numbers||at 9:43 am ET|
There are a couple of very different sets of numbers that caught my eye this morning.
First, is the postseason data from 82games.com, which shows that Rajon Rondo was the Celtics best player in the playoffs last season, and by a fairly wide margin. There are a couple of other observations we can make from the data. Among them:
1. The Celtics really missed Kevin Garnett. Compare the 2008-09 playoff numbers with the 2007-08 numbers and not only will Garnett’s Roland Rating (a simple explanation is here) jump right off the page, but so will the effect he had on his teammates …
2. Particularly Paul Pierce. The Captain shot much worse in 2008-09 then in 2007-08 and had a significantly lower percentage of assists leading to his shots, which speaks to ball movement, which is one of Garnett’s most underrated offensive contributions. There were a number of theories for Pierce’s sub-par postseason, but a simple reason may have been that he just had to do too much and work too hard to get his shot off without KG.
3. The bench was really bad, especially Stephon Marbury. There was also no depth. Of the players who did play, Eddie House was the biggest contributor among the reserves (no surprise), but that was about it.
Moving on, the fine fellows at basketball-reference.com have put up a huge amount of preseason data (hat tip to Henry Abbott at True Hoop), and from that we can see that the Celtics most efficient offensive player has been Mike Sweetney (!)
We can also see that Garnett and Rasheed Wallace have been killing it defensively. Of possibly greater importance, the Celtics have also played the best team defense in the NBA, which is nice. You can waste hours of your life playing with this stuff, but as Abbott and everyone else pointed out, there’s only a week left until the games start to really count, which is the best number of all.
|Celtics to Host Annual Shamrock Gala||10.19.09 at 3:28 pm ET|
On Friday, October 23 the Celtics will host their annual Shamrock Gala to benefit the Shamrock Foundation. The event, which will be held at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel from 6:00pm-9:30pm, will include a discussion with the team hosted by WEEI’s Glenn Ordway. Those scheduled to attend include:
- Celtics All-Stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, members of the 2009-2010 Boston Celtics team, and coaching staff
- Head coach Doc Rivers
- Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge
- Celtics Co-owners Wyc Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca and Robert Epstein
- Celtics Legends John Havlicek, Bob Cousy, JoJo White, Cedric Maxwell and Dana Barros
This year’s auction items will include a trip for two (including airfare, dinner, and accommodations) to be on the set of “Entourage” in Los Angeles, courtesy of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation. All proceeds will benefit the Celtics Shamrock Foundation, which currently partners with Perkins School for the Blind, Boston Children’s, Horizons for Homeless Children, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC), and Berklee College of Music.
Tables for the Gala can be purchased by contacting Rebekah Splaine at 617-854-8090.
|‘Rare’ lineup for Celtics on Sunday||10.17.09 at 4:25 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Celtics coach Doc Rivers said following Saturday’s practice that he intends to use a ‘rare’ lineup on Sunday in Toronto against the Raptors in the team’s sixth preseason game.
Rivers will start Paul Pierce, along with Ray Allen and Marquis Daniels, with Daniels the most-likely choice to start at the point. Daniels, who has played big guard as well as small forward, has been getting time in practice as the point behind Rajon Rondo.
“We’re just going to do that [Sunday] to see what the other team does defensively,” Rivers said Saturday.
Daniels, along with Eddie House and rookie Lester Hudson figure to get a long look as Rivers considers back-up options behind Rondo off the bench.
|Anatomy of a Rumor||10.16.09 at 10:58 am ET|
On Tuesday, Comcast aired a conversation between Paul Pierce and Greg Dickerson, who asked Pierce about his contract situation. For those who don’t know, the captain has a $21.5 million option sitting on the table for the 2010-11 season. Ordinarily, this would be a no-brainer. As a general rule NBA players (or anyone else, for that matter) don’t leave $21 million sitting on the table.
But the Celtics will have some interesting financial decisions to make after this season. Ray Allen’s contract will be up, and we’ll know by the end of the month if they have extended Rajon Rondo or whether he’ll be a restricted free agent. Add to that Wyc Grousbeck’s cryptic comment last summer that there was a scenario where the Celtics could be a player in the fabled free agency class of 2010, and suddenly the Pierce option is no longer such a no-brainer. (Worth noting that Grousbeck said that before the Celtics signed Rasheed Wallace to a three-year deal).
Before we get to all that, let’s go to the videotape.
Pierce said two things of note during the conversation.
“I definitely want to retire as a Celtic. As far as my option goes, I haven’t really given it any thought.”
“I want to do what’s best for the team. If that means doing whatever to keep guys here and make this team strong for the next three or four years, I’m willing to do it.”
That’s pretty consistent with what Pierce has said at other times during camp. But CSN’s Gary Tanguay wrote on his Twitter page: “Pierce told CSN he will re-work his contract to keep players in Boston,” which then made the rumors page on Hoops Hype, which brought it to the attention of True Hoop, which had an item by ESPN’s Marc Stein outlining the scenarios by which “doing whatever” became Pierce opting out and/or signing an extension, which could spread out the cash and free up some cap space, which got play on Celtics Blog and Celtics Hub Thursday night, to name two.
First things first. The Celtics already have about $33 million-plus committed to Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis and Wallace for 2010-11. Add to that a “cap hold” of $6.3 million for Rondo if he doesn’t sign an extension, and we’re already looking at about $40 million for five players before Pierce even does anything, let alone before the team makes a decision on Allen. The salary cap for this season is set at $57.7 million and there has already been talk that will trend down in 2010-11. (Celtics Blog has a good look at the down and dirty).
Second, this sets up an unrealistic set of expectations for Pierce, who has already shown on the court that he is willing to “do whatever” to help the Celtics win games. That should be more than enough before anyone asks him to leave a pile of dough on the table.
The Celtics are positioned to win this season, if everyone stays healthy. There are way too many factors at play to go much beyond that.
|Rondo and Reserves Propel Celtics over Nets||10.13.09 at 10:57 pm ET|
On Tuesday night, the Celtics overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat the Nets, 91-88, in Newark, N.J., during preseason action (recap here). With Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen getting the night off, the Cs were propelled by Rajon Rondo and the reserves.
- Rondo led the Cs with 18 points, 13 assists, and nine rebounds in 40 minutes. This is in contrast to Sunday’s game against the Nets when he posted eight points, three assists and two rebounds in 26 minutes.
- Rasheed Wallace (20 points, 9 rebounds, 25 minutes) was the Celtics’ driving force in the first half. However, he rolled his right ankle in the third quarter and eventually left the game. Doc Rivers told the media he considers the injury to be mild.
- Eddie House demonstrated his tenacious intensity by fighting for loose balls, forcing jump balls and hitting clutch shots, including a go-ahead jumper with 34 seconds left. He finished the night with 14 points.
- Glen Davis continued to knock down his mid-range jumper en route to 18 points. The Celtics were a game-high plus-12 with Davis on the court.
- J.R. Giddens, whose talent only had been showcased in the D-League, played his best NBA game. He grabbed 13 rebounds and scored seven points.
- Marquis Daniels started the game but left after 15 minutes with a stomach bug.
The Celtics will travel to Hartford to take on the Raptors on Wednesday night.
|Pierce Turning 32 Going on 20||10.12.09 at 11:08 pm ET|
“I still feel in my early 20s,” he told WEEI.com after a recent practice. “I feel like I’m back in Kansas.”
Pierce turns 32 on Tuesday, and a new lifestyle has him energized as he enters his 12th NBA season. Last month he was one of several Celtics who showed up to media day with a noticeably slimmer frame. While Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis admitted to dropping up to 15 and 30 pounds respectively, Pierce (who is listed at 235 pounds) isn’t paying attention to the scale.
“I maybe lost two pounds, I don’t know,” he said. As for losing body fat, “Probably so, I haven’t measured it, but most likely I have.”
Pierce isn’t counting the pounds because it’s how his body feels, not what the scale reads, that matters more to him. And even though he feels young, he understands the reality of being a professional athlete in his 30s. Pierce made a commitment to improve his overall health and kick the habits that could eventually catch up to him.
“I just think it’s more important because the body is aging, it’s getting older,” he said. “You’re not as quick as you used to be and your body has to adjust with the times. I mean, what I used to do when I was younger are some of the things I can’t do now. I’m stressing more rest, I didn’t sleep as much when I was younger, so a lot of things change. It’s easier to gain weight the older you get so that’s why I decided to change a lot of my habits.”
The change in his physique has more to do with the changes he endorses through his healthy living initiatives rather than a regimented weight loss program.
“I think it has more to do with my eating habits,” he said. “Ever since I changed everything I’m doing as far as my foundation with The Truth on Health and FitClub34, I’ve got to practice what I preach. I’ve pretty much benefited from the things I’m doing of that nature.”
He added: “I’ve just changed up my eating habits as far as eating a lot of fish, chicken, vegetables, not as much red meat — almost no red meat — no sodas, not a lot of juice. I drink a lot of water and Gatorade and Powerade.”
Ray Allen, a stickler for healthy living, already has noticed the changes in Pierce. Allen was 32 when he was traded to the Celtics in 2008, a time when he says he began to get in his best shape by eating better and getting more sleep. He understands firsthand the importance of Pierce taking care of his body at this pivotal stage in his career.
“Just yesterday in the weight room I told him he was starting to look skinny,” Allen said. “You know, Paul has always had like a heavy look, a heavy body. Now you see in his legs he’s slimming down, his upper body is slimming down. I think it’s the natural evolution when you get into your 30s and your metabolism starts to slow down and you start thinking about eating better, getting more sleep, and then your body starts to show it. And then as for us, this schedule is so demanding you really have no choice, your body will tell you you need more rest.”
Pierce has learned to listen to his body, and because of this he can celebrate his 32nd birthday feeling like he’s in his 20s.