|5 things we learned as Russell Westbrook, Thunder snap Celtics’ streak||03.18.15 at 10:48 pm ET|
The Thunder scored 40 third-quarter points, and the Celtics never recovered, snapping a five-game win streak with a 122-118 loss in Oklahoma City.
The C’s fell to 30-37 on the season, losing a game on the Heat (31-36), who beat the Blazers on Wednesday night. Elsewhere, the Pacers (30-37) fell to the Bulls, the Bucks (34-34) lost to the Spurs, and the Cavaliers beat the Nets (27-39). The Celtics lead the idle Hornets by a half-game and remain tied with Indiana for eighth place, trailing Miami by a game for seventh and Milwaukee by 3.5 games for sixth.
Marcus Smart collected 25 points — including a franchise rookie record seven 3-pointers — to go along with nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks, leading six Celtics in double figures. Kelly Olynyk (20 points), Brandon Bass (20 points), Avery Bradley (13 points), Tyler Zeller (12 points) and Jae Crowder (11 points) rounded out the double-digit scorers, and Evan Turner chipped in with five steals, six rebounds, eight points and a team-high 10 assists.
Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 36 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and five steals, while Enes Kanter added 22 points and 10 rebounds. With the victory, Oklahoma City (38-30) opened up a half-game lead over the Pelicans for eighth place in the Western Conference sans Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka.
For a complete box score, click here.
|Irish Coffee: Does Rajon Rondo guarantee playoffs?||08.14.13 at 12:00 pm ET|
In this golden age of point guards, a handful of guys have established themselves as perennial All-Stars over the past five years: Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and Rajon Rondo.
Sure, there’s the old guard (Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Chauncey Billups), the new kids on the block (Kyrie Irving, Jrue Holiday, John Wall) and the occasional Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris or Mo Williams in the mix, but those six are consistently at the top. “What the hell is he getting at?” you ask. Well, for starters, this.
Each time one of those six guys submitted an All-Star season, their respective teams qualified for the playoffs in 18 of 21 opportunities. Those three exceptions: Paul missed the second half of the season with a knee injury in 2010, Williams was traded midseason in 2011 and then he coasted through a truly awful Nets season in 2012.
Of course, four members of that Nets team that finished 22-44 with Williams at the helm (Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans) are members of this year’s edition of the Celtics with Rondo, but still …
RAJON RONDO (2010-13 NBA All-Star)
2009-10 Celtics: 50-32 (NBA finals)
2010-11 Celtics: 56-26 (conference semifinals)
2011-12 Celtics: 39-27 (conference finals)
2012-13 Celtics: 41-40 (first round)*
*Rondo played just 38 games due to injury
CHRIS PAUL (2008-13 NBA All-Star)
2007-08 Hornets: 56-26 (conference semifinals)
2008-09 Hornets: 49-33 (first round)
2009-10 Hornets: 37-45 (did not qualify)*
2010-11 Hornets: 46-36 (first round)
2011-12 Clippers: 40-26 (conference semifinals)
2012-13 Clippers: 56-26 (first round)
*Paul played just 45 games due to injury
DERRICK ROSE (2010-12 NBA All-Star)
2009-10 Bulls: 41-41 (first round)
2010-11 Bulls: 62-20 (conference finals)
2011-12 Bulls: 50-16 (first round)*
*Rose suffered season-ending injury in playoffs
DERON WILLIAMS (2009-12 NBA All-Star)
2008-09 Jazz: 48-34 (first round)
2009-10 Jazz: 53-29 (conference semifinals)
2010-11 Jazz: 39-43 (did not qualify)*
2010-11 Nets: 24-58 (did not qualify)*
2011-12 Nets: 22-44 (did not qualify)
*Williams traded midway through 2010-11 season
RUSSELL WESTBROOK (2011-13 NBA All-Star)
2010-11 Thunder: 55-27 (conference finals)
2011-12 Thunder: 47-19 (NBA finals)
2012-13 Thunder: 60-22 (conference semifinals)*
*Westbrook suffered season-ending injury in playoffs
TONY PARKER (2006-07, 2009, 2012-13 NBA All-Star)
2005-06 Spurs: 63-19 (conference semifinals)
2006-07 Spurs: 58-24 (NBA champions)
2008-09 Spurs: 54-28 (first round)
2011-12 Spurs: 50-16 (conference finals)
2012-13 Spurs: 58-24 (NBA finals)
That .628 winning percentage (1,229-727) is hard to ignore, especially since it also applies to the old guard, whose teams owned a near identical 1,234-718 record (.632) and qualified for the playoffs in 21 of 23 chances.
JASON KIDD (1996, 1998, 2000-04, 2007-08, 2010 NBA All-Star)
1995-96 Mavericks: 26-56 (did not qualify)
1997-98 Suns: 56-26 (first round)
1999-2000 Suns: 53-29 (conference semifinals)
2000-01 Nets: 51-31 (first round)
2001-02 Nets: 52-30 (NBA finals)
2002-03 Nets: 49-33 (NBA finals)
2003-04 Nets: 47-35 (conference semifinals)
2006-07 Nets: 41-41 (conference semifinals)
2007-08 Nets: 34-48 (did not qualify)*
2007-08 Mavericks: 51-31 (first round)*
2009-10 Mavericks: 55-27 (first round)
*Kidd traded midway through 2007-08 season
STEVE NASH (2002-03, 2005-08, 2010, 2012 NBA All-Star)
2001-02 Mavericks: 57-25 (conference semifinals)
2002-03 Mavericks: 60-22 (conference finals)
2004-05 Suns: 62-20 (conference finals)
2005-06 Suns: 54-28 (conference finals)
2006-07 Suns: 61-21 (conference semifinals)
2007-08 Suns: 55-27 (first round)
2009-10 Suns: 54-28 (conference finals)
2011-12 Suns: 33-33 (did not qualify)
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS (2006-10 NBA All-Star)
2005-06 Pistons: 64-18 (conference finals)
2006-07 Pistons: 53-29 (conference finals)
2007-08 Pistons: 59-23 (conference finals)
2008-09 Nuggets: 54-28 (conference finals)*
2009-10 Nuggets: 53-29 (first round)
*Billups traded three games into 2008-09 season
Sure, plenty of other factors went into the success of their teams. For one, they often featured names like Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce or Carmelo Anthony. But the Hornets, Bulls and Jazz teams respectively led by Paul, Rose and Williams — or even Kidd’s Nets and Billups’ Pistons — didn’t feature another superstar talent.
Quite simply, based on recent history, if Rondo submits an All-Star caliber season, the Celtics have roughly a 90 percent chance of making the playoffs. Or they could just be the 2012 Nets 2.0.
|Michael Wilbon on D&C: ‘Superstar treatment was surely in effect’ for LeBron James||06.18.12 at 12:24 pm ET|
ESPN’s Michael Wilbon joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to talk about Game 3 of the NBA finals, the officiating, whether the Thunder would be better off with Rajon Rondo or Russell Westbrook, and more. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Asked whether LeBron James was getting superstar treatment after playing such aggressive defense and being called for zero fouls Sunday night, Wilbon said, ‘I’d have to go back and look at the game and just pay attention to what LeBron did. It could’ve been a bad night for the way LeBron was called, and also, we know that LeBron is physically superior. He can control his body in ways that even the other great players cannot in terms of avoiding contact and that sort of thing. And also, superstar treatment was surely in effect.’
As for whether Kevin Durant ought to be afforded the same treatment, Wilbon said Durant would, in time.
‘People have to earn it,’ Wilbon said. ‘And earning it in the NBA means, in the culture of this league for 60 years, so longer than any of these officials have been around, is seniority. And you get it when you’ve been a great player over time. And Durant had a couple of fouls called on him last night that in my opinion should not have been called.’
While he felt it was too early to say definitely, Wilbon said the Thunder look like a team that will win championships, just not this year.
‘Every great player, except Magic Johnson, in the last, I don’t know, 35 years, has been crushed, usually in the finals, but certainly conference finals, multiple times even,’ Wilbon said, pointing to Hall of Fame players such as Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwan and David Robinson. “They were crushed before they broke through. I don’t feel like Oklahoma City has gone through that right of passage yet. We know Miami has been through that. LeBron James personally has been through that, twice, already. And I feel like Miami has this sense that, ‘Oh no, no, no, we’re not going to have that happen again.’ It’s awful to go through that for an entire offseason and I don’t know that Oklahoma City is playing with that ‘hate to lose’ sort of mentality.’
|Irish Coffee: An All-NBA case for Rajon Rondo||04.17.12 at 2:16 pm ET|
By now, you know Rajon Rondo‘s streak of 22 straight games with at least 10 assists trails John Stockton‘s record of 29 by seven. With only five games left, that record will stand at least until the 2012-13 NBA season begins.
But just how good has Rondo been during this streak, and this entire season for that matter?
In his last 22 games, Rondo has averaged 10.1 points, 13.8 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals, leading the Celtics to a 15-7 record. He has totaled 223 points and 303 assists — 57 of which led to 3-pointers — putting his hand in 886 of the C’s 2,050 points (43.2%) in that span.
To put that in perspective, NBA MVP favorite LeBron James has averaged 26.1 points and 5.5 assists in his last 22 games, leading the Heat to a 14-8 record. He has totaled 574 points and 121 assists (25 on 3P) in that span, generating 841 of Miami’s 2,081 points (40.4%).
And those numbers aren’t too far off Rondo’s season averages of 12.1 points, 11.6 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals. Out of all the players in NBA backcourts, Rondo may fall outside the top 50 in scoring, but he ranks first among guards in assists, fourth in rebounds (behind two guards Paul George, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade) and fourth in steals (behind only Chris Paul, Mike Conley and Ricky Rubio).
All of which begs the question: Should Rondo make First Team All-NBA?
|Irish Coffee: Rating ridiculous Celtics rumors||03.02.12 at 2:59 pm ET|
So many trade rumors, so little time.
On Thursday, NBA teams could officially deal players signed this past offseason, and March 15 is the deadline, so Celtics president Danny Ainge‘s phone bill is probably higher than Lindsay Lohan‘s attorney fees at this point.
While Ainge denied actively shopping Celtics All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo in an interview on WEEI’s Big Show, he’s made it clear Rondo, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and everybody else — including captain Paul Pierce — are available for the right package. So far, the price hasn’t been right.
We’d be remiss not to mention the current rumors, but let’s be serious about the possibilities. Here goes.
|Fast Break: Celtics can’t catch up to Thunder||01.16.12 at 10:32 pm ET|
In a reminder of just how different this team is from the one that won the NBA title in 2008, the Celtics welcomed former center Kendrick Perkins to town, and his new team handed his (really) old team their fifth straight defeat, 97-88.
As Kevin Durant (28 points) and Russell Westbrook (26 points) combined for 54 points, the Thunder improved to 12-2 with their sixth road win in seven tries, leaving the Celtics (4-8) still searching for their first victory against a .500-plus team.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Slow me the way: The Celtics shot 34.1 percent in the first half and failed to scored 40 points before the break for the fourth time in six games, trailing the Thunder 46-39 after the opening 24 minutes. Once again, the C’s dug themselves into an early hole and spent the rest of the night tiring themselves out trying to dig out of it. Twice in the second half — once in the third and again late in the fourth quarter — they made runs to get back into the game, only to watch OKC widen the gap again.
Can they get a lift? The Celtics made a concerted effort to get to the rim, and they succeeded in getting to the basket, but their old legs just didn’t have the lift to finish the job. Thunder forward Serge Ibaka totaled four blocks in the first half alone, leaving the C’s with little to show for their effort.
Russell Westbrook > Rajon Rondo: At least for one night, in a battle of two point guards who have been mentioned in possible trade scenarios for each other, Westbrook got the best of his counterpart Rondo. Sure, Rondo nearly had a triple-double (12 points, 9 assists, 9 rebounds, 4 turnovers), but Westbrook buried impossibly big shot after impossibly big shot down the stretch, totaling 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
WHAT WENT RIGHT Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: Rajon Rondo rumors, fact and fiction||11.30.11 at 9:14 am ET|
When rumors started flying that team president Danny Ainge has included Rondo in trade discussions, there was always only one player who could possibly be on the other end of that conversation: Chris Paul.
With nobody to take over the reins in Rondo’s absence, the Celtics would have to land another point guard in return for the two-time All-Star. And considering the attractiveness of Rondo’s contract (4 years, $44 million remaining), that floor general would have to be decidedly better than Rajon Rondo.
In my mind, that list includes two names: Derrick Rose and Paul. There is no way in hell the Bulls are trading the reigning NBA MVP, so that leaves Paul, whose impending free agency puts him on the bargaining table.
Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick confirmed that notion on Tuesday, citing numerous sources in claiming Ainge “is highly motivated” to land the 2005-06 NBA Rookie of the Year. Colleague Paul Flannery explained why the exchange makes painstaking sense but may require a third team to get done. And Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported the C’s have made calls to the Pacers for just that reason.
The 26-year-old Paul has averaged 18.7 points (47.1 FG%, 35.9 3P%, 85.3 FT%), 9.9 assists and 2.4 steals in six NBA seasons, decidedly better numbers than the 25-year-old Rondo (10.7 points, 48.6 FG%, 24.2 3P%, 62.2 FT%, 7.6 assists, 1.9 steals) on a decidedly worse team.
While Rondo is one of the five best point guards in the NBA, Paul is one of the five best players in the league. That’s why Ainge is exploring the trade. And if it falls through, as ESPN.com’s Ric Bucher suggested it would, there’s nobody more stubborn than Rondo to prove Ainge, me and everybody else wrong.
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