|Irish Coffee: 5 awful Celtics statistics, 1 good one||02.21.12 at 12:55 pm ET|
Following a 89-73 loss to the Mavericks, the Celtics dropped to 15-16 and the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed (just two games ahead of the lowly Cavaliers) — the worst start to any season of the Kevin Garnett era.
Facing the Thunder on Wednesday night without the suspended Rajon Rondo and possibly sans KG (personal reasons), things don’t stand to get any better, especially with injuries to bigs Jermaine O’Neal (wrist), Chris Wilcox (adductor) and Brandon Bass (knee).
Should all be unavailable in the team’s final game before the All-Star break, the C’s starting center midway through the 2011-12 season will come down to a choice between rookies Greg Stiemsma and JaJuan Johnson. Generally, that’s the kind of thing that happens when a team enters the year with an injury-plagued 15-year veteran as its only established center. Not to mention Kendrick Perkins will be starting for the opposing team.
In some respect Celtics president Danny Ainge had to see this coming, although nobody could have expected them to be this bad. Here are five shockingly awful statistics the 2011-12 Celtics have produced.
|Austin Rivers dunks twice on Rasheed Wallace||07.08.11 at 3:23 pm ET|
Duke University’s No. 1 basketball recruit and son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers, Austin Rivers put on a show in his debut at the SJG Greater NC Pro-Am (a.k.a. “The Rucker of the South”), dunking not once but twice on former Celtic Rasheed Wallace – thanks to some vintage Sheed defense (or lack thereof).
|Stephen A. Smith on D&C: ‘I still believe that Rasheed Wallace is going to come back’||02.28.11 at 10:38 am ET|
Veteran columnist and radio host Stephen A. Smith joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Celtics and NBA news. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Smith made news recently by speculating that Rasheed Wallace would end his retirement and return to the Celtics. Smith explained that Wallace indicated last June — when the player talked about his retirement — that he would consider returning after the trade deadline this season.
“He was alluding [in June] to coming back once the trading deadline expired if the Celtics needed him, that he would think about it,” Smith said. “And throughout this year, he had been saying one day, he wants to come back, the other day, he doesn’t want to come back. … He was going back and forth throughout the year. One day he wants to come back, another day he doesn’t want to come back. One minute he’s thinking about going to Orlando, the next minute he misses all the boys he was with in Boston last year.
“So, I simply said I think he’s going to end up coming back to Boston, because I believe that Boston is going to be the team that fights the Lakers for the world championship, and I believe that Doc Rivers is the ultimate motivator. And I think if you have an opportunity to play for Doc Rivers for a couple of months, that’s not something that you’re going to turn down. I still believe that. I still believe that Rasheed Wallace is going to come back.”
Smith called the trade of Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder “a devasating blow” to Boston, but he remains convinced that the Celtics will beat the Heat and win the Eastern Conference en route to an NBA title. Smith said he can’t pick a team that starts Erick Dampier at center, and that the Celtics can slow the games down, taking away the Heat’s uptempo style.
“If [the Celtics] play the kind of defense they always play, I can’t see how the Miami Heat can beat them in a seven-game series,” he said.
Added Smith: “I believe in Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal, and I think somehow, someway, specifically Shaquille O’Neal can offset the loss of Kendrick Perkins. And I think that will be enough to get you back to the NBA finals, where I believe they will beat the Los Angeles Lakers.”
The Perkins trade hurts the Celtics more emotionally than physically, Smith explained. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the Boston Celtics made the right move for the long term,” he said. “But short term, I think it’s a devastating blow. Kendrick Perkins is a big body, a wide body, he’s very, very physical. And I’m one of those people who firmly believes that if Kendrick Perkins hadn’t gotten hurt in Game 6 of the NBA finals that the Boston Celtics would be the reigning defending world champions right now. I think they would have beaten the Lakers in Game 7.
|Ian Thomsen: After C’s moves, ‘not sure who they are now’||02.25.11 at 1:56 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated senior writer Ian Thomsen joined the midday show Friday with guest hosts John Rooke and Kirk Minihane to talk about the Celtics’ moves this week, mainly the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.
Thomsen said the Celtics forged an identity this season as a big physical team, following their NBA finals loss to the Lakers last June. Now, the identity has changed.
“First of all, I was just wondering who the Celtics are now?” Thomsen said of his initial reaction to the trade. “Before they signed [Shaquille O'Neal] last summer, I was wondering who they were. Because they were outrebounded in the finals, the Lakers front line looked too big for them, even when Perkins was playing. But then when they got Shaq, and you thought about Shaq and Perkins as the front line, now you thought that they were going to have an edge to them, they were going to be able to play down low, they’d always have a big man in there, for 48 minutes, potentially.
“And now again, I’m just not sure who they are now, what the edge is. There are things that they can no longer take for granted: that they can guard Dwight Howard one on one, that they’re going to throw a lot of size at the Lakers — like a big offensive line that creates room for [Rajon] Rondo and all the other guys.
“So, it’s just now going to be interesting to see what’s going to be the new identity of the team. Because no matter what they do, if they get Troy Murphy or anybody else, it won’t be able to replicate what they had in Perkins. And Shaq just won’t be able to give them enough minutes, even if he’s healthy — 25, 28, 30 minutes, maybe.”
Looking at matchups against the C’s main competition, such as LeBron James‘ Heat, Thomsen said you can evaluate it a couple of ways.
“It’s like a chicken-or-egg thing,” he said. “Do you respond to matchups of other teams or do you create matchups of your own that they can’t deal with? So now, against Miami, was one reason Boston had an edge over Miami this year because of guys like Kendrick Perkins and the physical edge that they clearly have over Miami? So, you can say, OK, you don’t need to worry about Miami’s big men, so you can afford to get rid of Kendrick Perkins. But in letting go of him, are you letting go of your inherent advantage over them. And now are you sort of playing their game as opposed to making them play your game. They’re less of an imposing team without Perkins. They’re playing more to Miami’s style.
“On the other hand, Jeff Green is huge against LeBron. Because the Celtics knew they couldn’t win without a real backup 3 to help [Paul] Pierce against LeBron, to help against Kobe [Bryant], some of these other big guys on the wings. And now they have that. Jeff Green is going to come off the bench, and LeBron is going to know that for the 43 or 44 minutes he’s playing every playoff game this spring, he’s going to have somebody decent guarding him.”
|Rasheed Wallace rumors start again||01.11.11 at 11:47 am ET|
Stephen A. Smith went on the Dan Patrick show and said that Rasheed Wallace told him the plan was for Wallace to come out of retirement and join the Celtics at some point this season. Naturally this has started the Sheed will come back rumor again, but there are several problems with this scenario.
First, Wallace’s agent Bill Strickland told Fanhouse’s Sam Amick that his client hasn’t changed his mind about his retirement (although Strickland did use the disclaimer, “for now.”) Second, Smith himself backtracked from the original claim saying Wallace told him he would return “months ago.”
So, there’s not even smoke on this latest rumor, but even if Wallace did want to return to the Celtics, there are compelling reasons to believe that it won’t happen.
1. There is no room for Wallace figuratively
The Celtics have four centers — Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, Semih Erden and Kendrick Perkins, who is expected to practice this week and has announced himself close to returning. All four have had injuries this season, which is why Danny Ainge has four centers on the roster.
Two weeks ago on The Big Show, Ainge said this about a possible Wallace comeback:
“I know that he’s been in the locker room a couple of times this year and he’s been to a couple of practices. I know the guys are teasing him about that about coming back. He’s said that doesn’t want to come back. I’m not sure there’s room for Rasheed unless we just have a whole bunch of injuries. Right now our center position, we have three healthy centers, we have a fourth one that’s not too far away in Perk.” (Emphasis mine).
Ainge also said that he’s more concerned about his backcourt, which truly hinges on the health of Delonte West. The Celtics have come to the conclusion that Nate Robinson is not a viable candidate to replace Rajon Rondo should anything happen to him, which leaves West. The Celtics have centers. What concerns them is the depth at guard.
2. There is no room for Wallace literally
The Celtics have 15 players under guaranteed contracts. The deadline to release Von Wafer (and West) without having to pay them for the rest of the season has come and gone, which means that in order for the Celtics to add a player (like Wallace), someone would have to go either by trade or outright release.
Looking at the roster it would seem that adding another veteran big man is way down on their list of concerns.
3. The Celtics don’t view Wallace as a viable replacement for Kevin Garnett
Garnett isn’t likely to play Wednesday, but Doc Rivers insists that it’s only a matter of time and he is very close to getting back on the court. They also insist that Garnett’s injury is a muscle strain and has nothing to do with his knee.
Assuming that is the case, suppose Garnett suffers a more serious injury at some point, would adding Wallace make more sense? In a word, no.
In 2009-10 Wallace rarely played any position other than center. When he did play alongside Perkins up front, the Celtics weren’t very good, and Rivers even said that he didn’t like playing the two of them together.
In sum: If one of the O’Neals suffered a season-ending injury and if Perkins isn’t able to make a full recovery from knee surgery, then there might be a fit for Wallace if he even wanted to come back. But that’s a lot of ifs.
|Danny Ainge on The Big Show: Kevin Garnett has a strained calf||12.30.10 at 5:12 pm ET|
Celtics president Danny Ainge told The Big Show Thursday that after an MRI and a thorough examination, Kevin Garnett would likely be out a couple of weeks with a strained calf muscle.
“It’s a muscle injury, a strained calf,” Ainge said. “It’s actually the softer side of the leg below the knee. It’s not anything to do with his knee, which is great news, and it’s one of those injuries that he may be out for a couple of weeks at the most. That’s my guess. It’s always a guess. I’ll just say two weeks. I think that’s on the conservative side.”
Ainge said that when he saw Garnett go down and grimace in pain that he was hoping it wasn’t serious, but he did flashback to the Utah game in 2009. “That was a specific injury that he had and had been playing with,” Ainge said. “KG had been playing with a sore leg for weeks before that Utah injury and it wasn’t something that just happened. he had that bone spur on there for much longer than before that Utah game.”
Ainge also had an update on Rajon Rondo who has missed six games with an ankle sprain. “Rajon is getting better,” Ainge said. “It was a pretty severe sprain. Rajon is in a situation where he could play, but he’s in pain still. He has pain on both sides of the ankle and we just don’t want to get him back on to the court until he can play hard.”
Here are more highlights from the interview: Read the rest of this entry »
|Preview: Celtics at Pistons||11.02.10 at 12:53 am ET|
Strange things happened to the Celtics when they went into Detroit last year.
Desperately needing a win on March 2, the Celtics relied on Nate Robinson in the fourth quarter to pull it out instead of Rajon Rondo. The Fast Break posted that night had Rasheed Wallace as the Player of the Game for his defensive effort.
In a 92-86 loss on Jan. 20, Glen Davis swore at a heckler in a very quiet arena and was later fined $25,000.
What awaits the Celtics this season? From the looks of things a mediocre and slightly disjointed basketball team. Rondey Stuckey remains the point guard, although the Pistons just let the deadline pass to sign him to a extension. Rip Hamilton still starts at the other guard, while the younger and more talented Ben Gordon comes off the bench. Tayshaun Prince is an expiring contract and Tracy McGrady is getting minutes.
Still, the Pistons have some interesting young players such as Austin Daye who is now starting and rookie center Greg Monroe, who has yet to crack the rotation. Detroit is a team in transition, with enough proven veterans to make a run at one of the final playoff spots, but also a team with several young players to develop.
The Pistons have dropped their first three games of the season by a total of 14 points and would love to get a win. For the Celtics, this game has trap written all over it.
It’s the first night of a five games in seven days stretch with a back-to-back coming Wednesday against the Bucks at the Garden. They are not expecting to have Shaquille O’Neal and will likely insert Jermaine O’Neal into the starting center spot with rookie Semih Erden backing him up. They also struggled to close out the Cavaliers in their first road game, another also-ran Central Division team that is somewhere between rebuilding and competing.
Offensive Rating: 99.6 (23rd)
Defensive Rating: 98.1 (5th)
Pace: 93.7 (21st)
Probable Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal
Injuries: Avery Bradley (ankle, out), Kendrick Perkins (ankle, out), Delonte West (suspension), Shaquille O’Neal (shin, doubtful)
Offensive Rating: 103.3 (15th)
Defensive Rating: 108.3 (21st)
Pace: 94.5 (17th)
Probable Starters: Rodney Stuckey, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, Ben Wallace
Injuries: Will Bynum (hamstring, questionable), Chris Wilcox (hamstring, questionable), Terico White (foot, out), Jonas Jerkobo (Achilles, out).
KEY MATCHUP: Pierce vs. Prince
In 2008-09, Prince held Pierce to 15.5 points over four games. That was the lowest per-game average Pierce had against any team other than the Clippers and Grizzlies.
The year before, Pierce again scored just 15 points a night in three games against the Pistons while shooting just 37 percent. Pierce has the same effect on Prince who shot below 40 percent against him those two seasons. Their matchup cooled a bit last season while Pierce was battling injuries and Prince missed one of the games entirely, but it’s still one of the better small forward battles in the East.
Prince’s length has been a problem for Pierce over the years, but he is off to a quietly efficient start to this season, averaging 19 points a game and making 8-of-12 from 3-point range. The focus has been on Pierce’s rebounding after he grabbed 14 boards against the Knicks, but the Celtics need his shooting more while Ray Allen works out his shot (6-for-18 from 3) and Nate Robinson tries to get untracked (1-for-9).
It’s not exactly the most enjoyable matchup to watch, but it should be a good one.
KEY NUMBER: 3-point shooting
The Pistons have bee defensively-challenged in their first three games, giving up over 100 points in all three games, but they have defended the arc well, allowing only 28 percent shooting.
The Celtics, with the notable exception of Pierce, have struggled from beyond the arc and need to start making some shots to take the pressure off the inside game. Take Pierce out of the equation and they have made just 25 percent of their 3′s (8-for-32).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Detroit is desperate for win and the Celtics would like to get through a road game and get Jermaine O’Neal on track.
These two teams never quite renewed their rivalry for the modern era. They battled throughout the Celtics championship year of 2007-08, but the Pistons fell of quickly once they traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson.
Still, these two teams have history and you never know, maybe Sheed will show up.
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