|Blazers blow by defenseless C’s||11.15.13 at 9:49 pm ET|
Before Friday’s game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said any success on the upcoming road trip would rely on his team’s ability to play defense against some of the elite teams of the Western Conference.
If Friday night is any indication, they could be in for a long trip.
Nicolas Batum connected on 4-of-9 from 3-point range and finished with 18 points while LaMarcus Aldridge added a team-high 27 points and 12 rebounds to pace the Blazers to a 109-96 win over the Celtics Friday night at TD Garden.
The Celtics held Portland to just 8-of-22 shooting in the first quarter but still trailed, 23-21, heading into the second quarter.
But the second quarter was a different story as the Blazers started extending the Celtics defense and took 10 3-pointers, making four. The Celtics stayed close, shooting 64.3 percent, making 9-of-14 from the field. Vitor Faverani had all nine of his points in the quarter as the Celtics trailed 57-51 at the half.
Another huge factor in the game was the early foul trouble of Kelly Olynyk. The rookie was whistled for his third personal foul with 4:39 left in the second quarter and picked up his fourth just 29 seconds into the third quarter.
“Unfortunately, Kelly got the Sully treatment tonight,” joked Sullinger after the game, referring to the foul trouble Sullinger had in his rookie season last year.
The rough defense continued in the second half as the Blazers outscored the Celtics, 33-27, in the third quarter, led by 11 from Aldridge. Portland scored the last six points of the quarter to take a 90-78 lead into the final quarter.
The Celtics made it a seven-point game early in the fourth on back-to-back threes from Jared Sullinger and Courtney Lee but could get no closer. Sullinger led Boston with 26 points and eight rebounds in 36 minutes off the Boston bench.
Jeff Green (14) and Jordan Crawford (11) were the only other Celtics in double figures.
After winning four straight to even their record at 4-4, the 4-6 Celtics have lost their last two – both at home – and now head out on the road for a three-game road trip that begins Saturday night in Minnesota against the Timberwolves. They play Tuesday in Houston before wrapping up the swing on Wednesday in San Antonio against the Spurs.
The Blazers improved to 7-2 on the season.
|Stat man: Addressing Celtics’ big problem||11.05.13 at 2:12 pm ET|
The biggest problem facing these Celtics is the lack of a point guard, but that’s a story for a different day, since there’s no viable solution on the current roster until Rajon Rondo returns. Sure, a little more Phil Pressey might help, but is an undersized, undrafted rookie point guard really going to solve this thing?
So, let’s address a problem that Brad Stevens could possibly bandage with the current roster.
The Celtics are the NBA’s worst defensive rebounding team, allowing opponents to grab 33.9 percent of available offensive boards — a number that would rank among the worst in history over a full season. Opponents attempt 39.3 field goals per game within 8 feet of the basket; only the Blazers (43.3) are worse. The opposition scores 20.8 second-chance points per game; only the Nuggets (23.0) are worse. And just four teams (Wizards, Blazers, Clippers, Bucks) give up more than the C’s 44.5 points allowed in the paint per game.
The C’s interior defense needs work. Vitor Faverani, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Kris Humphries are allowing an average of 26.5 attempts at the rim, where opponents are shooting 52.8 percent.
The two biggest offenders, naturally, are rookies. Faverani is allowing 11 field goal attempts at the rim per game. Eleven! Per game! That’s the fifth-worst number in the league. He’s grabbed just 49.2 percent of his 14.8 rebound chances per game. The only other player with as many opportunities to snatch fewer than 50 percent is Al Jefferson, who hasn’t played since aggravating an ankle injury on opening night.
Meanwhile, the opposition is shooting 76.5 percent at the rim against Olynyk. That’s ridiculous. Only two bigs (Trevor Booker, DeMarre Carroll) are worse. And Olynyk snags fewer rebounds per chance than Faverani.
|Celtics need to rebound after opening loss to Raptors||10.31.13 at 9:20 am ET|
Brad Stevens had good reason to be optimistic following his team’s season-opening 93-87 loss to the Raptors in Toronto on Wednesday night, but the first-year Celtics coach also had plenty of reason for concern. Mainly, the C’s were dominated on the boards, getting outrebounded 48-33, including 19-7 on offensive boards.
“When they broke us down, they crushed us on the glass,” Stevens told reporters. “They shot 20 more field goals than us. It’s going to be hard to win a game when that happens.”
Added Brandon Bass: “We tried to help and got ourselves out of position. Their bigs were naked under the basket for the most part.”
Jeff Green scored 25 points, Bass netted 17 and Vitor Faverani added 13 points and three blocks for the C’s, who lost to Toronto for just the sixth time in 26 meetings. Kris Humphries had eight points and a team-high nine rebounds.
First-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk played 16 minutes off the bench and scored four points on 2-of-5 shooting. Olynyk, a Toronto native, was a minus-19, tied for worst on the team with Faverani. Guard Avery Bradley struggled with his shooting, hitting just 4-of-13 from the field, and recording as many turnovers as assists (4).
The Celtics rallied from a 16-point third-quarter deficit and were tied at 78 with 7:42 left after a Jordan Crawford jumper, but they didn’t score again until 4:08 remained.
“At the end of the day we didn’t do everything perfectly,” Stevens said. “I didn’t coach a perfect game, but I think we can all rest assured we’ve got a team that will fight and we’ve got a team that will compete. And we can shore up a couple of those mistakes, maybe we can come out the other end of it.”
Rudy Gay led the Raptors with 19 points and eight rebounds.
The Celtics next host the Bucks on Friday night.
|Celtics, for the last time: Vitor Faverani||10.29.13 at 3:50 pm ET|
One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time … ?” Next up: Vitor Faverani.
When’s the last time an undrafted foreign-born rookie took the NBA world by storm?
Vitor Faverani arrived in Boston as a relative unknown, immediately announced his love of “physical plays, passes, dunks and pick-and-roll” and emerged from the postseason as a fantasy sleeper pick.
His 36-minute averages this October: 16.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. El Hombre Indestructible, indeed.
Is it possible all 30 teams simply missed the next Anderson Varejao as the Brazilian big man went unnoticed in the 2009 NBA draft, played just 15 minutes a night for four seasons in the Spanish league and sat behind Varejao, Nene and Tiago Splitter on the national team? Generally, 7-footers don’t take scouts by surprise.
Jose Calderon proved undrafted foreign-born players groomed overseas can make an immediate impact in the NBA, but it’s unprecedented for big men. Only three players of that ilk have ever “contributed” to a playoff run as a rookie, and all did so in the past few years — a sign of the times as the influx of Eurobasket players has increased.
Mirza Teletovic appeared in 53 games for the Nets last year, but played all of one minute in Brooklyn’s first-round loss to the Bulls. Timofey Mozgov actually started the Knicks opener in 2010-11, played himself into the Carmelo Anthony deal and missed the final month of the Nuggets playoff run with a knee injury. And the Celtics dumped Semih Erden on a miserable Cavaliers team midway through that same season.
Meanwhile, Gustavo Ayon averaged 5.9 points and 4.9 boards in 20.1 minutes a night for a Hornets team that could afford the luxury of such a player adjusting to the NBA in 2011-12. Likewise, Hamed Haddadi and Vyacheslav Kravtsov made no impact for the lottery-bound 2008-09 Grizzlies and 2012-13 Pistons, respectively.
And that’s it. Unless Faverani is truly unique, which he and his mohawk may very well be, his ceiling is Mozgovian.
|Gerald Wallace, Vitor Faverani nursing injuries||10.25.13 at 10:12 am ET|
Despite Brad Stevens‘ assurance that Rajon Rondo is the lone Celtics player who won’t be available for Wednesday’s opener, both Gerald Wallace and Vitor Faverani reportedly missed Thursday’s practice for “preventative” measures.
Dressed in a Patriots sweatshirt and a walking boot, Wallace told reporters after practice that he received a cortisone shot in a left ankle that’s bothered him “all summer long.”
Meanwhile, Faverani will consult with doctors on Friday after undergoing an MRI for a sore lower back, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg. Faverani’s back reportedly stiffened during warmups prior to totaling 15 points, seven boards and six blocks over 28 minutes in a preseason victory against the Nets.
Still, Stevens assured the media, “It’s all very preventative.”
Meanwhile, Jared Sullinger returned to practice after missing Wednesday’s game due to illness.
The Celtics are expected to announce the release of training camp invitees Damen Bell-Holter, DeShawn Sims and Kammron Taylor shortly. The fourth invitee, Chris Babb, is still practicing with the team, but he’s doubtful to make the final roster because of the salary cap predicament his signing would create.
|Vitor Faverani update: Still the best||10.10.13 at 10:06 am ET|
When Vitor Faverani introduced himself to Boston, we discovered that the only true center on the Celtics roster is, simply, the best — a quote machine who declared the C’s “the best team in NBA” and stated his desire “to stay here forever.” See? The best. And after two preseason games, there’s no reason to believe he’s not still the best.
The 7-foot Brazilian’s English isn’t perfect, but he gets his point across. Faverani breaks basketball down to four things: 1) physical plays, 2) passes, 3) dunks and 4) pick-and-roll. As long as Celtics coach Brad Stevens keeps giving him minutes, Faverani says, he’ll provide all four. And, really, what else do you want from a backup center?
“When coach Stevens gives me my minutes, I try to do my best,” Faverani said following Monday’s loss to the Raptors. “That’s all. I’m happy, and I try to do my best.” C’mon, now, isn’t he the best? I think he’s the best.
On Wednesday, Stevens fed Faverani more minutes, and he happily did his best. In 31 minutes in a Celtics uniform, he’s produced 13 points (6-12 FG), nine rebounds, two blocks, two steals and a plus-7 rating. He’s played physical, dunked aplenty and set a mean pick for two straight games. Other than a few nice outlet passes to Phil Pressey during that impressive fourth-quarter comeback against the Knicks, the only thing we haven’t really seen from him is the passing. But I’m sure that will come, too, because Vitor is the best.
|Vitor Faverani is the best||09.30.13 at 10:50 pm ET|
Vitor Faverani has a mohawk, and he is the best.
With five simple words, the bewildering Brazilian puts Boston on notice: “Not too much questions please.” Not only does Faverani understand English, he gets this Celtics media contingent. Not too much questions please, indeed.
Then, responding to a question about why he joined the Celtics, Faverani confounds everybody once again. “We go to the Cuban restaurant, so it’s easy,” he says. “When I taste the food there, I say, ‘I want to stay in Boston.’”
Reporters wonder, “Did he understand the question?” Don’t worry. He did. “No,” Faverani says, “that’s joke.”
Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge tries to explain.
“Vitor has been playing professionally in Spain for a number of years,” says the son of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “He was a draft prospect when he was at the age of the draft, and he’s just kind of over the last few years really worked hard and got himself in shape and played better. …
“He did a couple workouts around the draft time in the U.S., and he came here, and we were pretty high on him, and he had his agent here, they were both here, and we said, ‘All right, what does it take to get it done? Let’s get this done right now.’ And we kind of hashed it out real fast before he could get in a bidding war.”
But Faverani tells a much better tale, because he is the best.
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