|Fast Break: Celtics escape, but continue to progress||03.04.11 at 10:00 pm ET|
With each passing day, the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson begins to look a little better from the Celtics‘ perspective. Word came down today that Robinson had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and will be out 4-6 weeks. Considering the fact that the Celtics traded four players who are injured (including Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden) and replaced them with healthy players, that’s already a net positive.
But what about the on-court results? New center Nenad Krstic has already shown his value as an offensive threat and against the Warriors on Friday night, Jeff Green had his coming out party. Green, who had scored just 18 points in his first three games, erupted for 13 in the first half and finished with 21 points in 28 minutes.
Despite some anxious moments at the end, the Celtics have now won four games in a row after their 107-103 win (recap) and while they would certainly like to close games out better, they’ll gladly take the wins while sorting things out.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Ray Allen should take more days off: The veteran sharpshooter took Thursday off from practice as a precaution. Doc Rivers said that Allen told him his legs were feeling a little sore so Rivers told him to hit some golf balls. Allen showed up for Friday’s game wearing a compression sleeve on his right leg, but any concerns soon evaporated as he made his first seven shots and finished 9-for-13 with 27 points.
A glimpse of what Green can do: The problem for the Celtics and their new forward is simply one of opportunity. Beyond playing the minutes behind Paul Pierce, what else can they do with him? That’s a question Rivers raised Thursday at practice and really, there isn’t a good answer.
But with Glen Davis out for a few days with a strained knee, Rivers used Green with the starters and it resulted in unreal production. Of all the things Green provides, the ability to get out on the break with Rajon Rondo is the most appealing and the two connected for a series of highlight-worthy plays. Unlocking Green’s potential is one of the priorities of the last six weeks and Friday night was a positive step.
Paul Pierce’s quiet excellence: Just another 27-point, seven-rebound night for Pierce, who is the glue that holds everything together.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Troy Murphy will need some time: Murphy has now played 26 minutes and missed all seven shots that he’s attempted. Rivers said he wanted to run him until he dropped and he’ll have to keep giving him minutes while he figures things out on the fly.
Von Wafer strains his right calf: It never ends for the Celtics. After dropping seven points in just six minutes, Von Wafer limped off the court with what the team called a strained right calf. There was no immediate update on how long Wafer will be out, but he did not return to the game. That’s a tough blow for Wafer, who has played well in limited opportunities this season.
Second half fades: It happened late in the third quarter against the Suns, but this time the culprits were the starters as they allowed the Warriors to almost erase a huge lead late in the game. Monta Ellis scored 41 points, tying the mark set by Kobe Bryant for most against the Celtics this season. The Celtics escaped, but this late-game trend needs to stop.
|Report: Leon Powe signs with Grizzlies||03.03.11 at 8:34 pm ET|
According to David Aldridge of NBA.com, former Celtics forward Leon Powe – who was bought out of his contract by the Cavaliers last week, thus becoming a free agent — has signed with the Memphis Grizzlies. While the Celtics had reportedly considered the possibility of a return engagement for Powe — who played in just 14 games for Cleveland this year, averaging 5.0 points and 2.7 boards in 13 minutes a night — their acquisition of Troy Murphy took them out of the market for the 27-year-old. That, in turn, led Powe to Memphis.
|Irish Coffee: What to expect from Celtics’ buyouts||at 10:40 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
So, can Murphy and Pavlovic help the C’s win enough games to hold off the Heat or Bulls for the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed — and then contribute to victories as the team chases Banner No. 18?
Throughout the new Big Three era, the Celtics have made similar buyout acquisitions in addition to luring P.J. Brown out of retirement before the 2008 title run. Here’s what they gave you over the past three seasons …
- Sam Cassell averaged 7.6 points, 2.1 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 17.6 minutes during 17 regular-season games for the Celtics in 2008. He then averaged 4.5 points, 1.2 assists and 0.7 rebounds in 12.6 minutes over 21 playoff games. Cassell scored in double figures five times in the regular season and another four in the postseason — and the Celtics won all nine games.
- P.J. Brown averaged 2.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 11.6 minutes during 18 regular-season games for the Celtics in 2008. He then averaged 2.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 13.6 minutes over 25 playoff games. Brown scored in double figures just once — but it came in a 97-92 win over the Cavaliers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
- Mikki Moore averaged 4.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 19.0 minutes during 24 regular-season games for the Celtics in 2009. He then averaged 1.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 0.4 assists in 6.6 minutes over 10 playoff games. Moore reached double figures twice in the regular season — a win over the Thunder and a blowout loss to the Cavaliers.
- Stephon Marbury averaged 3.8 points, 3.3 assists and 1.2 rebounds in 18.0 minutes during 23 regular-season games for the Celtics in 2009. He then averaged 3.7 points, 1.8 assists and 0.9 rebounds in 11.9 minutes over 14 playoff games. Marbury scored in double figures once in the regular season and twice in the playoffs — all victories.
- Michael Finley averaged 5.2 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 15.0 minutes during 21 regular-season games for the Celtics in 2010. He then averaged 0.8 points, 0.6 rebounds and 0.2 assists in 6.0 minutes over 18 playoff games. The C’s finished 2-1 in the regular season when Finley reached double figures — the lone defeat coming in a blowout loss to the Grizzlies.
|Troy Murphy active vs. Suns, says ‘I fit in better with the way Boston plays’||03.02.11 at 7:12 pm ET|
After being bought out by the Warriors, Murphy, who began the season with New Jersey, narrowed his choices of potential suitors to the Celtics and the Heat before ultimately signing with the C’s.
“I think it’s the way they play,” Murphy said of choosing the Celtics over the Heat. “I think watching both teams, I think I fit in better with the way Boston plays, the way they spread the floor, and I just like the way they play.”
Murphy, who averaged has averaged 11.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game since entering the league in 2001, has never played in the postseason. He said he weighed the Celtics’ chances of prolonged playoff success before making his choice.
“That was the most important factor,” he said. “Going to a team that was not only going to be in the playoffs, but getting ready for a long playoff run. In looking at the teams, I feel like the Celtics have all the potential to do that.”
Asked what his role will be with the Celtics, Murphy said “I think just the ability to stretch the floor and help on the defensive glass. I think spread things out and let [Rajon] Rondo drive, pretty much.”
The 30-year-old will wear No. 30 for the Celtics.
“There aren’t too many numbers that you can pick here,” he said with a grin, “so that was really it.
|Irish Coffee: New Celtics, by the numbers||at 11:17 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Not that the following numbers definitively prove anything, but I figured it would be interesting to see the career production of the Celtics’ recent acquisitions compared to the departing C’s.
- Points: 36.1
- Rebounds: 19.6
- Assists: 4.2
- Steals: 2.0
- Blocks: 1.7
- Turnovers: 4.4
- Personal fouls: 8.3
- Field-goal percentage: .457
- 3-point field-goal percentage: .370
- Free-throw percentage: .767
- Points: 32.7
- Rebounds: 16.6
- Assists: 6.4
- Steals: 2.7
- Blocks: 2.7
- Turnovers: 5.5
- Personal fouls: 10.8
- Field-goal percentage: .471
- 3-point field-goal percentage: .327
- Free-throw percentage: .703
With three players coming to Boston and five guys leaving town, the Celtics are acquiring more points, rebounds and assists in addition to fewer turnovers and personal fouls. Although, cynics could argue that those same numbers favor the former Celtics’s defensive toughness – as that group recorded more steals, blocks and personal fouls.
Should the Celtics add either Corey Brewer, Rasual Butler or Player X, those stats would push the numbers even further in the current Celtics’ favor. Speaking of which …
|What Troy Murphy brings to the Celtics||03.01.11 at 12:37 pm ET|
This is about flexibility. Before team president Danny Ainge traded Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, the Celtics were a team that could essentially play one way. They had size — and lots of it — but aside from playing Glen Davis at center, the Celtics had less options matching up with teams that play unconventional lineups. Like, Miami.
But Ainge wasn’t done dealing, and he also dropped Semih Erden and Luke Harangody on Cleveland and Marquis Daniels on Sacramento. That opened up three roster spots to be used on the veteran free agent market, and it appears that Ainge has landed the biggest prize in 6-foot-11 forward Troy Murphy. ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that Murphy has chosen the Celtics over the Heat — a move that can’t become official until Murphy clears the waiver wire on Wednesday.
Murphy has played just 18 games this season and seen less than 300 minutes of action after he fell out of favor in New Jersey. He’s also never been in the playoffs. But over a 10-year career, Murphy has shown the ability to step outside and make 3-pointers. He’s also a very good defensive rebounder. As an added bonus, the Celtics keep him away from the Heat.
His best season came in 2008-09 with the Pacers, when he averaged 14 points and 12 rebounds per game and shot 45 percent from behind the arc. He’s a 39 percent career shooter from 3-point range, and that ability to space the floor is highly-valued with the Celtics. Doc Rivers now has three big men who can knock down long jumpers in Murphy, Krstic and Kevin Garnett.
The question is where Murphy will fit with a team that already has Garnett and Davis absorbing the minutes at power forward, along with Green. For starters, Murphy will provide insurance and depth during the regular season. Before the deadline moves, Rivers was sometimes forced to use Harangody as a backup power forward and while the team liked his energy and toughness, he was undersized for the role.
Rivers could also use Murphy at the center spot alongside Garnett. While not his customary position, he did log some time there with the Pacers and the Celtics have used Davis in that role as an undersized center.
Assuming he can recapture his form, Murphy is a better outside shooter than Davis and a far better defensive rebounder. That’s not to say he will pass Davis in the rotation. Davis is much better defensively and he’s also proven to be an integral part of the Celtics, but Murphy gives Rivers another option, and again, that’s what all of Ainge’s maneuvering is really about. With Murphy soon to be added to the fold, the Celtics frontcourt roster looks like this:
SF: Paul Pierce, Green
PF: Garnett, Davis, Murphy
What the Celtics lose in size, they make up for in versatility. With six weeks, and 24 games left in the regular season, the onus is on Rivers to pull all the pieces together.
|Why the fuss over Troy Murphy||02.28.11 at 1:59 pm ET|
On Sunday, Golden State reached a buyout with forward Troy Murphy. On Monday they put him on waivers. Once he clears the 48-hour waiver process, he is a free man and eligible to sign with any team that will have him for the veterans minimum. Players are rarely claimed on waivers in the NBA because teams must be under the cap and have roster space available to put in a claim.
Once he clears, Murphy is expected to choose between Miami and Boston — and assuming he does — he will get to do something that has eluded him during his 10-year NBA career: Play a game in the postseason. Murphy has appeared in 639 regular seasons and scored over 7,500 points and recorded over 5,000 rebounds, but he has never once seen the playoffs.
For the first nine years of his career he played on poor Golden State and Indiana teams. He did it with solid distinction, averaging 12 points and eight rebounds and shooting 39 percent from 3-point range. But over the summer he was traded to New Jersey in a larger transaction that saw players like Darren Collison go to Indiana and Trevor Ariza wind up in New Orleans.
Murphy’s value was primarily as an expiring contract, but the native of Morristown, NJ figured to add some scoring punch and veteran mentoring for rookie Derrick Favors. It didn’t work out that way. Murphy clashed with Nets coach Avery Johnson and was effectively banished. Murphy played just 18 games for the Nets and logged fewer than 300 minutes, while his shooting percentages tumbled. He was dealt again at the trade deadline for Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric‘s expiring contract.
So why all the attention?
Despite his struggles this season, Murphy has a long track record as a dependable performer. He’s a very good defensive rebounder and at 6-foot-11 he is the quintessential stretch-four — a big man who can step out on the perimeter, make shots and spread the defense. He’s also easily one of the best players available in a thin free agent lot.
For the Celtics, Murphy would bring his shooting ability as well as offer insurance in case anything happens to Kevin Garnett or Glen Davis. With uncertainty surrounding the health of Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal, he also could conceivably serve as backup center in a lineup with Garnett, and offer even more flexibility for coach Doc Rivers.
But perhaps the real carrot for the Celtics is keeping him away from Miami. The Heat suffered a major blow when they lost Udonis Haslem earlier in the season and Murphy would offer a big body and a shooter for a Miami bench that needs help.