|Fast Break: Sharp Shaq ignites C’s win||10.20.10 at 10:04 pm ET|
Five Celtics scored in double figures — led by Paul Pierce‘s 17 points — and Rajon Rondo finished with 12 assists to ignite a 107-92 victory over the New Jersey Nets in the final game of the preseason. Boston finished the preseason at 7-1.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
1. Shaq looking sharp: A nifty spin move and another juke move around Joe Smith showed flashes of the Shaquille O’Neal of old. Sure, it was Joe Smith, but still. Playing 15 of the first 24 minutes, he finished the half with 12 points and seven boards.
Shaq did the little things, too. He tossed a nice outlet pass to Rondo for an easy bucket that put the C’s up 75-67 in the third quarter. He cleaned up the defensive glass, a serious deficiency for the Celtics in the 2010 game that shall not be named. And, believe it or not, he made 4-of-5 free throws, which raised his percentage to 69.2.
All in all, not too shabby for a 38-year-old.
2. Coming out of halftime firing on all cylinders: The Celtics could’ve easily packed it in and called it a night, trailing 55-48 at the half. If trap games existed in the preseason, this would’ve been it. The C’s started 6-1 in the expedition season, and if you haven’t heard yet they open the season against the new-look Heat on Tuesday.
Yet, the starters came out of the locker room and turned a seven-point deficit into a 13-point lead by the end of the third quarter, outscoring the Nets, 36-16.
3. Getting to the free throw line: The Celtics got to the line 24 times last night and made 18 of them. Shaq, Pierce and Glen Davis each got to the line five times, and only Big Baby (2-of-5) failed to knock them down.
Entering last night’s game, the C’s averaged 28.6 foul shots per game, and they were shooting 76.6 percent as a team. Last season, the Celtics attempted 25.5 free throws per game, making 74.6 percent of them.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG
1. Starting the game in a last-game-of-the-preseason effort: Looking sloppy and lackadaisical, the Celtics gave up 11 fast break points and scored none in the first quarter. That left them coming from behind … until an epic third quarter. Making up a 14-point deficit might be easy against the Nets, but it won’t be a cakewalk against the NBA’s upper echelon.
2. Giving up high-percentage shots on defense: The Celtics still allowed New Jersey to shoot 48 percent from the floor through three quarters — and that’s with the Nets shooting just 1-of-8 from beyond the arc. The C’s have plenty of bigs this year, so there’s no reason their interior defense shouldn’t be among the league’s best.
3. Do I really have to come up with three things that went wrong in a 20-point blowout during the last game of the preseason? OK, I guess the Celtics didn’t bring Gino out. What gives?
|Irish Coffee: Ta-Ta Tony Allen||10.19.10 at 10:48 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Tony Allen left for greener pastures. Green as in the color of cash; definitely not Celtics green. How can you blame him? After all, his list of injuries reads like a children’s song: ankles, knees and thumbs, so his earning potential could go at any moment — like a post-whistle dunk attempt.
He signed a three-year, $9.7 million contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. He wasn’t going to get that from the Celtics. And he was never going to play more than 20 minutes — maybe not even 15 — for this year’s C’s squad. So, why not sign with the Grizzlies?
“I was definitely overshadowed,” Allen told The Tulsa World. “Anybody would have been overshadowed considering those Hall of Fame prolific-type scorers that they had.”
He played 18.3 minutes per game for the 2007-08 Celtics team that won the NBA title and 16.5 minutes for last year’s team that reached the finals. He’s gotta be able to play more than that for a franchise that’s never won a playoff game, right? Wrong.
“I don’t think it’s smart,” Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins also told The Tulsa World. “What would you rather do? Win and play 15 minutes a game? Or you may not win as much and play 15 minutes a game. My thing is I would rather play on a winning team and have a chance to win championships — and get a playoff share too.”
Ouch. Getting thrown under the bus by his own coach isn’t going to help Allen’s injury woes.
THE GREAT POINT GUARD DEBATE
There’s a recent theory going around the blogosphere: Should you build your team around a point guard? That’s a big question for Celtics fans, considering two years from now that’s exactly what Danny Ainge will be challenged to do. Other than what will be a 35-year-old Paul Pierce, the only current player guaranteed to play for the 2012-13 Celtics is Rajon Rondo.
|Celtics bond at Fenway||10.09.10 at 4:03 pm ET|
The fact that the Celtics gathered at Fenway Park on their off day for an impromptu softball game is perhaps less noteworthy than the identity of the organizer. That would be Rajon Rondo, who has been criticized at times for not knowing when to assert his authority as the team’s point guard in a room full of Hall of Famers.
No question, the Celtics are having a good time getting to know one another.
“We’re having a blast,” Garnett said. “We come in here and bust each other’s [butt.]. Doc he lets us be competitive and be who we are and then off the court we try to get to know each other. It just so happens that we got more people that Tweet more than anything on this team than anybody in the league. That’s why y’all know what’s going on in the locker room, but we’re having a good time. We work hard but also we play hard.”
The softball game followed movie night in Newport, assorted team dinners and a duck boat tour. One of Garnett’s tenets is that teams that know each other off the floor are better able to relate with one another when they’re working on the court.
“It certainly doesn’t hurt,” he said. “The more you do together, the more activities you have together, the more you get to know one another, the more one-on-one’s you have with each other. … You come together for this common goal, so far so good.”
Rondo was apparently voted the MVP of the game, while Jermaine O’Neal surprised everyone with his swing. As for Garnett, he played left in the shadow of Ted Williams, Yaz, Jim Rice and Manny Ramirez. Judging by his own description, Theo Epstein shouldn’t have him on speed dial.
“Danny [Ainge] hit a couple to me,” Garnett said. “Some I dropped, some I didn’t. Good day. 50-50. I’ll take it. It was fun day. Beautiful day at Fenway. Dream come true. I felt like I was 10 years old.”
|Irish Coffee: Celtics Get No Respect||10.07.10 at 10:02 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
NBA.com released its ninth annual GM Survey, and I’ll tell ya: Rodney Dangerfield got more respect than the Celtics. Sixty questions were posed to the league’s general managers. Here are the highlights (or lowlights) …
- 63 percent of GMs believe the Lakers will win a third straight title. The Heat got 33.3 percent of the vote, and Boston got the remaining 3.7 percent. However, 100 percent of GMs think the C’s will win the Atlantic Division, so they’ve got that going for them.
- 75 percent of GMs believe the C’s are the best defensive team in the NBA, and Rajon Rondo received the most votes (32.1 percent) as the NBA’s best on-the-ball defender. Defense wins championships, no?
- Kevin Garnett picked up votes for best defensive player and best interior defender in the league, but Dwight Howard dominated both categories.
- 66.7 percent of GMs predicted Kevin Durant would win MVP. Kobe Bryant was next on the list with 25.9 percent of the vote. Semih Erden did not receive a vote … yet.
- 55.6 percent of GMs would take Durant to start their team. Only 25.9 percent said they’d take LeBron James. To me, this is the most surprising outcome. In 2009, LeBron got 78.6 percent of the vote . Apparently, his reputation took a hit within the NBA, too.
- Not a single GM picked Rondo as the NBA’s best point guard . Deron Williams got half the votes, followed by Chris Paul (35.7 percent), Steve Nash (10.7) and Chauncey Billups (3.6). Billups over Rondo? Really?
- The only Celtic to receive a vote for best player at his position was Garnett, and he finished well behind co-winners Pau Gasol (isn’t he a center?) and Dirk Nowitzki.
- Ray Allen won two categories: best pure shooter and best at moving without the ball. Ray also received a vote for the player who will make the best coach.
- GMs believe Doc comes up with the best defensive schemes in the league. Doc Rivers received a vote for the NBA’s best coach, but Phil Jackson won in a landslide. The “who’s the best manager/motivator of people” vote was closer, but Jackson still won (46.4 percent to 26.8).
- Believe it or not, the C’s Luke Harangody is the most likely rookie to be a sleeper success.
- The Garden is not the hardest building to play in. EnergySolutions Arena in Utah is.
|Celtics: Irish Coffee||10.05.10 at 9:40 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Members of the Knicks, Lakers and Timberwolves were among the Americans warned yesterday of potential terrorist plots at sports arenas, according to the New York Daily News. The teams would reportedly return to the United States immediately if the terror alert increased.
“This is real,” a fomer senior U.S. counterterrorism official told the paper.
Man, after watching Jean Claude Van Damme in Sudden Death as a kid, I used to wonder if I’d enjoy teams like the Knicks and Lakers being involved in a terrorist plot, but this is scary stuff. In all honesty, let’s hope these teams make it home safe.
While the Lakers were busy losing to the Timberwolves overseas, NBA commissioner David Stern spoke to the British media about the sport’s future in Europe. His hope is that the upcoming 2012 London Olympics will spark basketball’s popularity in the United Kingdom. You know, because John Amaechi‘s 6.2 points per game didn’t quite capture the nation’s hearts during his five-year NBA career.
“It’s no secret that the UK trails other European markets in development, but we think this is a great market and participation rates are increasing,” Stern said. “That’s why we have our European headquarters in London, and we think the Olympics provides a huge opportunity to demonstrate that this is a sport of great inclusiveness.”
Admitting it’s certainly not in the near future, Stern was receptive to the idea of having not only one but an entire European division of NBA teams. “As our game gets better known post-Olympics, maybe that will come into view,” he said, “but it’s nothing soon.”
The NBA will gain further exposure when the Raptors and Nets meet for two games in London in March. I’m not sure a Raptors/Nets series will be the exposure Stern is looking for, but still …
Rondo: “It’s still the Big 3″
Rajon Rondo sat down with ESPN.com to promote today’s release of NBA 2K11. We learned that he’s gathered more about the history of his league from playing the video game than watching actual NBA games as a kid; Nate Robinson, Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis are actually video game geeks; and Rondo wants a 99 rating (the highest in the game). Yet, when Rondo discussed his real team, he was much more modest:
“It’s still the Big Three,” he told ESPN.com. “Shaq is four. Shaq is an enforcer. I know that from experience. He knocks guards like myself down, but he can’t hit me no more, so I’m excited about that. I’m just one of the guys. I’m not saying I’m not important, but this is a team game. The Big Three still get a lot of attention, and I’m just really excited to start the season with them and be a part of this team.”
C’s a safe bet
Gambling lines are already coming out for the C’s opening night game against the Heat on Oct. 26, and according to the oddsmakers, these teams are pretty even. PinnacleSports.com has the Celtics +1 home underdogs.
The MGM Mirage in Las Vegas reportedly listed the Celtics at 5-1 odds to win the NBA title. The Heat were 3-2, the Lakers 9-5, Bulls 6-1 and Magic 10-1. But on the Sportsbook.com website, the Celtics are 10-1 to win the NBA title this season, tied with the Orlando Magic behind the Lakers (5-2) and Heat (8-5).
If gambling were legal in the United States, that 10-1 C’s bet would be a solid value.
Hazed and confused
According to NBCSports.com, rookie hazing has begun in the NBA. The Sixers sent Evan Turner to buy Chick-fil-A for the entire team, while Pacers rookies Lance Stephenson and Paul George have been caught wearing pink Disney backpacks.
What do you think the Celtics should do to Avery Bradley, Luke Harangody and Semih Erden? I think they should make them wear the C’s uber-short ’80s shorts during the preseason. Maybe dance like fools in Halloween costumes? Oh, wait, KG, Robinson and Big Baby did that already.
|Celtics: Irish Coffee||10.01.10 at 8:51 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Rajon Rondo shows off his comedic chops in the newest NBA 2K11 commercial. It’s essentially a take on the old “Da Bears, Da Bulls” sketches from Saturday Night Live. Derrick Rose asks a group that includes Rondo, Andre Iguadola, Joe Smith and Russel Westbrook the question, “What about the ’86 Bulls vs. the 2011 Celtics?” Of course, everybody picks the Bulls.
O’Neal vs. O’Neal
Dime Magazine rated Shaquille vs. Jermaine O’Neal as one of the top-10 position battles in the NBA this season. Honestly, I don’t see it. Jermaine should start until Kendrick Perkins returns, and Shaq should provide 15-20 minutes per game off the bench. One man’s opinion.
Celtics 1, Politicians 0
The Boston Media Consortium agreed to reschedule the Oct. 26 gubernatorial debate between Deval Patrick and Charlie Baker, so as not to coincide with the C’s opening night game against Miami. I guess we know where Boston’s priorities lie. Big Baby for Governor?
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski got the C’s–Shaq, in particular–to open up about the Heat. And let’s just say there’s no love lost between them.
‘They got a great 1-2,’ Shaq told Yahoo, completely discounting Chris Bosh‘s presence. “Everyone is young this, young that. I’ve been in the NBA Finals six times in the last 16 years, and I haven’t seen a young team make it all the way and win it. They may look better, but they don’t do what we do.”
Wojnarowski says not to expect the Celtics to come out of the gate fast. “Not with Delonte West suspended 10 games and Perkins out until February and Doc Rivers monitoring his player’s minutes to make sure everyone’s fresh for the playoffs,” he writes. “Rivers has kept it civil with the Heat, but he knows his players hate most of them, and this entire buildup brings a level of loathing that makes the coach feel like these are the old days.”
Paul Pierce echos those sentiments: ‘We’ll continue to go at our slow pace and creep up on everybody.’
I gotta be honest: I don’t like the sound of that. Do they really think they’re sneaking up on anybody? Don’t tell me we’re gonna be sitting through another lackadaisical regular season. I expect the C’s to come out of the gate with something to prove. Their first game is against Miami, the same team that everybody seems to be anointing already. In their first 10 games, they face the Heat twice, the Knicks, the Bucks, the Bulls, the Thunder and the Mavericks. Are we expected to believe that Boston won’t be up for those games?
Shaq Watching the Paint Dry?
Stumbled across an old article in The Onion, entitled, “Shaq To Solidify Celtics’ Ability To Get 3-Second Violations.” Thought that was pretty funny …
“Not only does Shaq’s presence in the paint give his team more opportunities to turn the ball over, but the Celtics have also added an experienced big man who makes an already old team significantly older,” said NBA analyst David Aldridge, adding that O’Neal should fill a key role in terms of drastically slowing down the Celtics’ offense. “Danny Ainge was looking for someone with size who can’t make it down to the other end of the court, and he went out and got the best in the business.”
The Van Gundy Rule
The NBA dress code has gone too far: Stan Van Gundy is no longer allowed to wear turtlenecks. What is this world coming to? Next thing you tell me, Brian Scalabrine won’t be able to wear his corduroy sportcoats.
“I don’t like that,” Rivers told the AP. “I really like Stan’s style. I thought Stan really set the bar for the dress code. I think he should stay with that. I think it’s nice.”
|Celtics: Irish Coffee||09.29.10 at 8:58 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
You’d think everything was painted green in Tommy Heinsohn‘s world, but truth be told the Celtics legend does more than just color for his former team. He’s a talented artist, as detailed in this NECN piece.
Tommy recently entered some of his work into an art show that benefited a charity in honor of his late wife, the Helen J. Weiss Scholarship fund for art education amoung children.
“I do something in art every day,” he told NECN. “If it’s only for five minutes.” It’s his relaxation, he joked, from all those terrible referees in the NBA. There’s not enough Tommy Points to give it for that.
Oh, and you’ll never guess Tommy’s prediction for the 2010-11 season. “If they can put on the floor what’s on paper,” he said to NECN, “we’re gonna win a title.”
Training Camp: Day 1
The Celtics practiced for three hours in a hot and humid gym yesterday at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I. An evening walk-through got pushed until this morning. The news? The veterans’ conditioning is the biggest question going forward, Jermaine O’Neal worked mainly with the starters and Kevin Garnett “just looked explosive,” according to Doc Rivers. “He had his hop back.”
That’s a far cry from Von Wafer‘s tweet at 2 a.m. the morning before practice: “jus woke to use the bathroom back to sleep big day tomorrow.” Thanks for the update, Von. Wafer reportedly tweaked an ankle during the first day of practice.
According to the Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star, the C’s are waiting for a letter from FIBA Europe that will clear Chris Johnson to participate in training camp. The 6-foot-11 LSU product apparently attended practice yesterday but didn’t participate. His agent said the process normally takes seven days, and the Celtics sent the letter last week, while Johnson was reportedly participating in unofficial workouts in Boston.
Dwight Howard: “I got tired of [hearing about the Heat] as soon as LeBron said he was going to Miami. Our discussions are not about Miami and what they’re doing. Our discussions are about what we are going to do to win a championship. What are we going to sacrifice? How are we going to play night in and night out so we can win a championship? We’re not banking on beating the Miami Heat or saying, ‘Hey we need to beat the Heat.’ That’s not our concern.”
Stan Van Gundy: “I don’t think anybody is doubting Miami’s talent and the fact that they’re going to be a serious challenge, but we don’t doubt Boston’s talent or them being a serious challenge. Or Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee, Philadelphia [or] Washington. There’s a lot of people who got better in the East. I think the challenge only rises, and I think we’re very confident in ourselves as a team and we look forward to those challenges ahead.”
J.J. Redick also made interesting comments to the Orlando Pinstriped Post during the Magic’s Media Day …
“I still have a bitter taste in my mouth,” he said. “I don’t know if we could have beaten Boston last year because we didn’t play our best game. We just–we got our butts kicked. … [Toughness is] a big reason why Boston beat us. It’s mental, man. Those guys were tougher mentally than us during that series.”
Top 10 All-Time Celtics
A Lakers fan ranked the top-10 Celtics of all-time on the Bleacher Report (similarly, a Celtics fan ranked the top-10 Lakers of all-time). As shocking as this may be to the person who commented on the Antoine Walker link in yesterday’s Irish Coffee (to quote: “Felger is an idiot but he isn’t stupid like weei people INCLUDINg this writer who was never around befoerw [sic] KG”), Antoine did not crack the top 10. Neither did Dino Radja. I kid. I kid. Paul Pierce did make the list. Who do you think was left off?
Putting a Price on Rondo’s jumpshot
The Herald’s Dan Duggan tweeted, “Rajon Rondo didn’t work out with Mark Price this summer. Said he didn’t do anything special to work on his shooting, but feels good about it.” Jay King at Celtics Town makes a good point: “Why would we even WANT Rondo to do something special to fix his jumper? I mean, it’s not like he shot 21.2% from behind the arc last season. It’s not like defenders were able to sag off him and clog the lane. It’s not like Rondo gives Shaq a run for his money as the worst free throw shooter on the Celtics.” Here’s to hoping Rondo was kidding.
Chicago Bullish on Thibodeau
“He’ll talk for like two or three hours, so you have to shorten your conversation with him real quick, come up with a good lie or something,” Derrick Rose told the Tribune. “Have one of your friends call you and say you gotta go pick him up or something.”
There’s no hint of green envy in Thibodeau’s eyes any longer. Asked if he’d occasionally wear the 2008 championship ring he won with the Celtics, he said, “I have to find it first. That was then. This is now. We want to build championship habits. It’s a lot of rhetoric to talk about. The real serious teams do it every day from how they practice.”
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