|Is one NBA scout’s scathing take on Celtics accurate?||01.26.13 at 3:05 pm ET|
NBA general managers must be hovering like vultures over Danny Ainge‘s struggling Celtics, so it’s no surprise they are a main focus ESPN.com writer Marc Stein’s must-read Weekend Dime.
With all due respect to the NBA scout who rightfully ripped the Celtics to shreds in Stein’s piece, the outlook isn’t quite as bad as he makes it out to be, despite their current six-game losing streak.
“Their bench has to be playing at the top of their abilities for them to win.”
According to HoopsStats.com, the Celtics are 12-11 when their bench outperforms the opposing team’s and 7-11 when it doesn’t. That lends some credence to this statement, but they can win when their reserves don’t contribute. We knew these C’s would rely on their depth more this season than they have in the past, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers couldn’t even begin to structure a consistent rotation until Avery Bradley returned this month.
And they don’t have enough guys big-guy-wise that Doc [Rivers] is comfortable with.
The C’s everlasting search for frontcourt depth behind Kevin Garnett has been no secret. Hence, their rumored interest in both Marcin Gortat and DeMarcus Cousins. The struggles of Brandon Bass and the thumb injury to Chris Wilcox haven’t helped, but don’t rule out those two contributing more in the second half of the season.
|Rajon Rondo: When a triple-double is ‘irrelevant’||01.25.13 at 11:18 am ET|
Rondo had 23 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, his 27th career triple-double and fourth the season. But that couldn’t prevent Boston from suffering its fifth straight loss, 89-86, to the Knicks Thursday, dropping to 20-22 on the season.
“It wipes it out. It’s kind of irrelevant. You score 40 or 50 points, you lose, you lose. All that matters is Ws and Ls.
“I like our group, I like our guys,” Rondo insisted. “We have a group of guys that listen. Right now, we’re not getting it done. It’s like night and day. We won six in a row and we were clicking on all cylinders. But now, it’s not all five guys at one time throughout the game for 48 minutes. We go through stretches where we’re not scoring the ball and our defense is lacking as well. We just have to pick it up collectively as a team, and individually as well.”
“We’re not worried about that,” Rondo said. “We’re worried about Atlanta.”
|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo’s triple-double can’t keep Celtics from five-game skid||01.24.13 at 10:43 pm ET|
Give them this: At least the Celtics played with heart, but the Knicks still handed them their fifth straight loss, an 89-86 defeat made even more discouraging by J.R. Smith‘s wide-open 3-pointer and Paul Pierce‘s turnover with several chances to tie the game in the final minute. Here’s what else went wrong (and right).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Terry dry: Since his return to the bench, where he’s been most comfortable during his career, Jason Terry continues to slump. He entered the game shooting under 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range in 22 minutes a night this month, and those numbers didn’t get any better. After getting off to an 0-for-4 start in his first six minutes, Rivers limited his playing time. Terry finished 1-for-6 in 14 minutes, including a costly fourth-quarter turnover.
Brain farts: As well as the Celtics played in stretches, they still took their foot off the pedal at times. The Knicks started the second quarter on a 9-0 run made up of a couple Amar’e Stoudemire buckets around the basket, a J.R. Smith layup and a Pablo Prigioni 3-pointer. In the third quarter, the Celtics committed five turnovers, including three that directly led to layups and New York’s 72-66 lead after three quarters.
Off the mark: While the C’s defense held the Knicks below 40 percent shooting on the night (38.6 percent FG), their offense wasn’t much better (40.8 percent FG). Despite getting a ton of open looks, the Celtics missed jumper after jumper. They combined for 3-of-18 shooting from beyond the arc, including an 0-for-5 night for backup guards Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa. Compounding that fact, the C’s didn’t tally a single point off their misses, getting outscored 16-0 on second-chance points.
|Was Avery Bradley firing a Twitter shot at Rajon Rondo?||01.23.13 at 3:08 pm ET|
After the Celtics‘ fourth straight defeat — a 95-90 loss suffered at the hands of Kyrie Irving (40 points) and the Cavaliers — guard Avery Bradley tweeted: “Nobody will score 40 on [me] unless they take 40 shots.”
Irving scored his 40 on 24 shots, although just three of those attempts came against Bradley; meanwhile, the Cavs point guard made 6-of-11 attempts against Celtics point Rajon Rondo, according to Synergy Sports (h/t @ESPNForsberg. That may not even include plays like Irving’s isolation drive past with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter, when he blew by Rondo and got (questionably) fouled by Jared Sullinger on a three-point play.
So, why wasn’t Bradley — considered by many the best on-ball defender in the NBA — facing the surefire All-Star, particularly in that situation? While he’s recovering from a rib injury, Bradley played 26 effective minutes and was on the floor for the span from 2:31 to 0:22 of the fourth quarter, when Irving scored nine points on four layups.
When the C’s guard took to Twitter just minutes after the conclusion of the game, many considered it a veiled shot at Rondo, although Bradley quickly deleted the tweet and posted instead: “No shots at anybody. It’s confidence.”
|Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers keep Celtics reeling||01.22.13 at 9:30 pm ET|
Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 40 points and Tristan Thompson added 21 as the Cavaliers added to the misery of the Celtics with a 95-90 win at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Irving completely dominated the Celtics in the final six minutes, scoring nine points and helping the Cavaliers win for just the 11th time in 43 games. After a season-high six-game winning streak, the Celtics lost their fourth straight and are again under .500 at 20-21. Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 17 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.
Making matters worse, the Cavaliers were playing without their starting center Anderson Varejao, who was ruled out for the season this week due to a blood clot in his lower right lung.
Paul Pierce had 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while Jared Sullinger had another big game off the bench with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Kevin Garnett was the only other Celtic in double figures in scoring with 16 points, as Boston shot just 38.1 percent from the field.
Defense was non-existent in the first quarter as the Celtics allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 59.1 percent, as Cleveland made 13-of-22 shots from the floor in building a 31-27 lead. The Celtics cut the deficit to 54-53 at the half.
The Celtics built their lead up to six 64-58 early in the third on back-to-back threes from Avery Bradley but couldn’t pull away.
Irving’s pull-up jumper in transition gave the Cavaliers a 76-75 lead with 7:30 remaining but Pierce found an open Rondo moments later for a layup to give the Celtics the lead right back. Sullinger picked up his fifth foul with just under six minutes remaining and the Cavaliers immediately began their charge behind Irving.
The Cavaliers reassumed the lead 82-81 when Pierce missed a jumper and Tyler Zeller raced out on the break for a layup. But again it was Rondo who answered, this time with a layup with just over four minutes remaining, as the Celtics went back in front, 83-82. Rondo then drew Irving’s fifth foul when he took a charge with 3:30 remaining. But the Celtics couldn’t convert as Garnett missed with the shot clock winding down.
Irving’s reverse layup with 2:30 left gave Cleveland the lead again, 84-83. Replays showed rookie Zeller kicking the ball ahead to Irving but no violation was called and the basket stood. Irving scored 15 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter as he took control of the game.
Then Rondo committed a mental mistake on a loose ball that careened into the Celtics backcourt. He tried to throw it off Irving but was unsuccessful, allowing Irving to go in for an uncontested layup with just over two minutes left.
Garnett drew the sixth foul of the night on Zeller with 1:30, with Garnett hitting both free throws cutting Cleveland’s lead to one, 88-87. With a chance to give Boston the lead, Garnett missed a baseline fallaway jumper. That led to another spectacular coast-to-coast drive by Irving to put Cleveland up, 90-87, with 52.9 seconds remaining.
The Celtics host the Knicks Thursday night at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Rajon Rondo not enough to stop charging Bulls||01.18.13 at 10:16 pm ET|
Marco Belinelli‘s jumper from 14 feet as he was falling to the ground with 3.1 seconds left in overtime lifted the Bulls to a stunning 100-99 win over the Celtics Friday night at TD Garden. Courtney Lee‘s desperation shot off the glass missed as time expired. Jason Terry hit a wide open jumper with 12.5 seconds left in overtime to put Boston on top before the circus shot fell through for the Bulls, who improve to 23-15 on the season.
Rajon Rondo finished with a season-high 30 points before fouling out in overtime. Rondo appeared to have given the Celtics the biggest shot of the night when he hit a wide open 20-foot jumper with 36.6 seconds left to put the Celtics up, 86-84. But Kirk Hinrich drained a jumper with 2.0 seconds left to force overtime.
Kevin Garnett had 11 of his 16 points in the fourth to lead a second-half comeback. Before fouling out late in overtime, Jared Sullinger had 15 rebounds off the bench for the Celtics, who lost their second straight after a six-game winning streak. Boston finished its season-long homestand 3-2. Rip Hamilton had 20 points while Carlos Boozer (19 points, 19 rebounds) and Joakim Noah (14, 13) each had double-doubles to lead the Bulls.
Chicago came out and took control early, leading 17-7. The Celtics responded with a 10-2 run but still trailed 23-19 after 12 minutes. The Bulls led 45-39 at the half. Rondo carried the Celtics through three quarters, making 9-of-14 shots and scoring 21 points. Pierce and Garnett were ice cold through three quarters, combining to shoot 4-for-22.
Entering the fourth, the Celtics trailed, 68-62, as Carlos Boozer had 17 points 15 rebounds while holding Kevin Garnett to 1-of-10 shooting.
But Garnett made his first shot of the fourth quarter to keep the Celtics within six, 70-64. Garnett drilled his next shot, a jumper from the top of the circle with just over 10 minutes left to draw the Celtics to within two, 70-68, capping a 6-0 spurt to open the period. With 7:03 remaining, Rondo hit a layup to tie the game, 74-74 as the Celtics opened the fourth on a 12-6 run.
But Hamilton responded immediately with a jumper from the top of the key to put the Bulls back on top. Kirk Hinrich followed with a three with just over six minutes left to expand Chicago’s lead to five. But Rondo responded with four of the next five points, tying the game, 79-79, with two free throws with five minutes left. Read the rest of this entry »
“It’s a great feeling, especially being named this way amongst your fans, so many votes,” Rondo said. “It’s humbling and it’s a grateful experience for me.
“To be loved by so many people rooting for me and wanting me to be a starter in the East, it’s a great feeling.”
This is Rondo’s fourth All-Star selection, being named each year since 2010.
Rondo said he will target KG in the post and is still hoping Paul Pierce makes it as a reserve.
“I’m a little bit biased but without Paul, we wouldn’t be where we are right now,” Rondo added. “He’s been Mr. Consistent and he’s brought it every night for us. He’s always carried the load or scoring, which we need at times, so I’d definitely consider Paul as well.”
His mission? To end a run of Western Conference dominance in the game.
“I’ll still try to run the show,” Rondo said. “I want to win this year. We haven’t won in a while ‘¦ but we definitely want to win this year.”
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