Tag Archives: Basketball

Celtics Circuit: Five Things To Watch For Down The Stretch (VIDEO)

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Tommy Heinsohn ponders about who the next Bill Russell could be

In what has been a dreary season for “green teamers” and bandwagon fans alike, the Boston Celtics are in line to make some interesting moves during the offseason, including their own lottery pick which should at least be in the top seven of a highly touted draft. Here are five interesting subplots for the current roster to keep track of as the season winds down:

1. Assessing Chris Johnson, Phil Pressey, and Chris Babb

One of the few good things about losing is that it allows the flexibility to give unknown players with ability and a desire to succeed a chance to get minutes at the NBA level. While it would be relatively shocking to see all three back next season, their contracts are flexible enough to package into deals or keep at the end of the bench. Pressey, the diminutive point guard from Missouri, has enjoyed his fair share of ups and downs. If he’s able to develop a consistent jump shot, Pressey could become a valuable back up point guard. Both relative unknowns, Johnson was signed to a 10 day contract after the Celtics traded away Jordan Crawford and Marshon Brooks, and was eventually signed for the remainder of the season. Johnson’s value rests in his three point shot. After playing for the Celtics farm club team – the Maine Red Claws – Babb was called up when Gerald Wallace went down with a season ending injury. Already possessed with an NBA ready body, Babb’s statistics may not pop out at you, but he has shown a clear physical gift in bodying up with opposing wing players. During summer league action, Babb was one of the few players to stand out.



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2. Getting Rondo Back up to Speed

Despite what you may think of the newly minted captain, it behooves Rondo supporters and detractors alike for him to get back to playing at the elite level we’re accustomed to seeing. Coming off of a serious ACL injury, it was only natural to see Rondo get acclimated to playing at game speed again. After 17 games played, the eye test tells us that he is still not at his normal speed, but the quirky skills that set him apart from every other point guard are starting to reappear. In the three games played in March he is nearly averaging a triple double, with 15 ppg, 6 rpg, and 9 apg. He has also shockingly somehow surpassed his career season best in three pointers with 20.

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Celtics Circuit: The Evaluation of Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley shows off his trademark defense against Dwayne Wade

Is Avery Bradley good?  Well, of course he is.  He’s been a starter and a contributor for an NBA team, but is he good as a long term commitment for the Boston Celtics?  That is the question Danny Ainge and Co. must face sooner rather than later.

The NBA trade deadline is only a few days away, but more importantly, Bradley is due to become a restricted free agent this offseason. That “restricted” tag does allow the Celtics to match any offer Bradley may receive elsewhere, but also puts the onus on the team to decide on if they feel Bradley is a worthwhile investment.

There was a reason Bradley slid to the nineteenth pick in the 2010 draft.  At 6 foot 2 and lacking the true decision making  and ball handling skills of a point guard, as well as the three point shot required for shooting guards to succeed, Bradley was caught in some sort of hybrid zone.  After barely playing his rookie season, Bradley finally was able to showcase his elite athletic ability the following season.  Due to Ray Allen’s injury, Bradley slid into the starting lineup amongst a group of players who would take the pressure off of him.  Rondo was there to handle and distribute the ball, while KG, Pierce and Bass were on the floor to score.

Fast forward two seasons later and a lot of the same questions still persist.  To his credit, Bradley has improved his entire game steadfastly since his rookie season and has to be considered one of the better players on a below average team this year.  He’s averaging 43% shooting, including, a respectable 35% on three pointers.  Asked to carry more a scoring burden, Bradley has responded with 14 points per game.  His defense is rightfully lauded by opponents to the point that opposing point guards dread taking the ball up the court against him, and his pure athletic ability remains on par with players of similar size.  He has also seemed to harness the ability to slow games down a bit after a disturbing showing in last playoffs Knicks series.

With the recent explosion of advanced statistics in sports (particularly in the NBA), one has to wonder how “nerd” stats view an undersized two guard whose offensive pedigree is predicated on mid-range jumpers and backdoor cuts.  According to Basketball Reference, Bradley’s PER (Player Efficiency Rating) settles in at 12.3, oddly the same rating as Ray Allen, the guy he subsequently replaced.  PER is a bench mark example for just how efficient a player is on a per minute basis.  Kevin Durant is the league leader this season at 30.9, while the league average lands at 15.

Bradley’s true shooting percentage lies at 313rd in the league, while his usage rating is 81st.  True shooting measures a player’s efficiency in two point field goals, three point field goals, and free throw accuracy.  Usage rating simply estimates the percentage of team plays ran for a player when he is on the court.  A player doesn’t solely exist on a stat sheet, but briefing over Bradley’s case, it is clear that he must keep improving as an offensive player as the team relies on him more and more to be a consistent scoring threat.  He will also need to develop more of a dependable three point shot, as team personnel have slowly tried distancing their players from taking long contested two point shots – considered now to be the most inefficient shot in basketball.

Injuries have robbed Bradley in recent seasons, missing 31 last year, and eight this season.  The recent status on his right ankle is murky at best, indicating he may not be back when the Celtics resume play in Phoenix on Wednesday.  Celtics officials have to be frustrated with the inability of Bradley and Rajon Rondo (an oddly dynamic duo when healthy) to get on the floor at the same time.  Evaluating a player is difficult enough, but add in a bucket full of injuries, and the task gets that much more difficult.

Bradley will be dangled at the trade deadline for the right price, but expect Ainge to try to muster up a long term deal for the former Texas Longhorn.  He has a clear desire to improve, and by all accounts, appears to be a good locker room presence.  The question is, for what price?

Celtics Circuit: Kevin Garnett & Paul Pierce Tributes (VIDEO)

Paul Pierce (left) and Kevin Garnett (right) were greeted with applause from Celtics' fans.

The TD Garden was rocking on Sunday night as the Boston Celtics honored Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce with separate video tributes. Fans shared tears with both Garnett and Pierce. The crowd gave a standing ovation for the two stars and chanted their names even when current Celtic Kris Humphries shot free throws.

The Garnett tribute came during a television timeout near the end of the first quarter. In the video, there were clips of Garnett’s introductory press conference and when he shouted, “Anything is possible.” The latter moment was after the Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals. Garnett spent six seasons with the Celtics. The Celtics made two appearances in the Finals (winning in 2008) and the Celtics lost in the Eastern Conference finals in 2012 to the Miami Heat. He was the defensive anchor as he played both power forward and center. Garnett averaged 15.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

 

Pierce’s video occurred after the opening quarter concluded on Sunday night. Pierce spent his whole career with the Celtics before he was traded along with Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets this summer. In Pierce’s 15 years with the Celtics, he made the organization relevant again with multiple playoff appearances. He hit many clutch shots in his career with the Celtics and was named MVP in the 2008 NBA Finals. The 6-foot-7-inch forward was not only embraced on the court, but he was an inspiration off the court with his charity work in the community. In 1998, the Celtics drafted Pierce with the 10th overall selection. Pierce became the second leading scorer in Celtics history with 24,021 points behind only John Havlicek (26,395). Pierce’s nickname was “The Truth” (given by Shaquille O’Neal) and he will go down as one of the greatest scorers in Celtics’ history.

 

The Nets defeated the Celtics, 85-79. The fans at the Garden enjoyed a truly special night.

Celtics Circuit: Jared Sullinger Arrested For Domestic Situation With Girlfriend

Boston Celtics v EA7 Emporio Armani Milano

BREAKING NEWS – Fox 25 Reports That Celtics Forward Jared Sullinger has been arrested for “domestic Situation” with girlfriend.

 

Fox 25:

WALTHAM, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) – Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger was arrested following a domestic situation over the weekend with his girlfriend.

Police said Sullinger arrived at the police station 6 a.m. Tuesday to turn himself in.

Sullinger is charged with assault and battery, malicious destruction of property and witness intimidation.

According to police, the incident happened early Saturday evening.

Sullinger is due in Waltham District Court Tuesday.

Two New Pieces Of The Boston Celtics’ Rebuilding Project (VIDEO)

Phil Pressey has an impressive college resume, an NBA bloodline and now he's a Celtic.

Phil Pressey has an impressive college resume, an NBA bloodline and now he’s a Celtic.


The Boston Celtics made two new additions to their team, signing free-agent deals with Phil Pressey and Vitor Faverani. Both are undrafted rookies, and as such, they are far from the dominant news in the NBA offseason. But on a rebuilding team, you don’t know where your next gem(s) is going to come from, so let’s do a brief introduction on the roles Pressey and Faverani might fill.

Pressey’s last name will be familiar to Celtics fans that are at least middle-aged. His father Paul played for the Milwaukee Bucks at a time in the 1980s when the C’s and Bucks met several times in the playoffs, including an epic seven-game battle in the 1987 conference semifinals. Paul revolutionized the small forward spot, handling the ball so well, he became known as  a “point forward.”

His son Phil won’t do that, and at 5’11”, he’s on the short side. But it’s the lack of size that makes him available, because his three-year track record at Missouri tells us that Phil Pressey can both handle the ball and score. And the question here is not whether he’s going to be an outstanding player in the NBA—realistically he isn’t—but whether he could be a quality backup to Rajon Rondo.

I think there’s reason for optimism here. If Nate Robinson can make it as an off-the-bench spark in the NBA at 5’9”, there’s no reason Pressey can’t do the same. I think the bigger concern with his size is how it fits into the Celtics’ roster as well. Rondo and Avery Bradley are both smallish guards to begin with, and the C’s will be vulnerable to two-guards who can post up.

Here’s a video of recent workout Pressey gave for scouts, showcasing his ballhandling skills…

Faverani is a very intriguing prospect out of Brazil. He goes 6’11” and has a good reputation for his offensive skills. The quality of play in his homeland is good, so there’s no reason for concern there. The big issue will be his defense, and whether he’s physical enough to guard NBA big men. The very strength that makes him so interesting offensively is his finesse and natural skills in the open floor. That might work against him on the defensive side.

We can say this—the sorting-out phase for the Boston big men is going to be interesting. This is an area that was woefully thin last year, and now Kevin Garnett is gone. We’ve got first-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk, who looked great in the Summer League. Jared Sullinger will be healthy, and now we can speculate where Faverani might fit in.

Here’s a look at Faverani’s highlights from Brazil—note how comfortable he looks in the open floor for a big man…

I might be the only one, but I’m excited about this new phase of Celtics’ history. I don’t know if I feel that way if they start 10-22, but right now the process of building a new champion brick-by-brick is fresh and new and we’ll see if and where Pressey and Faverani can fit into that.

NBA D-League: The Basketball Minors With Major Impact

qp5w65czvpg9q59ttrqfLet me begin by saying that I love NBA Basketball, especially the playoffs. The game is faster, more physical and the stakes are much higher. That being said I believe that the NBA has a fantastic tool that they are not using to it’s fullest potential. The NBA Development League or D-League for short.

For those that don’t know the D-league features 16 teams from around the country, all of which have at least one NBA parent team, and four of their teams have four parent teams. My own personal experience with the D-League began in the 2009-2010 season which coincided with the first year of the Maine RedClaws. I worked at 96.3 FM in Portland, Maine as one of the producers and Board operators. So for two seasons I saw and heard virtually every minute of every game. I kept thinking to myself that this was a great product, and wondered why the NBA wasn’t using it as more of a tool.

It’s not as though the D-League isn’t putting players into the NBA, quite the opposite actually. This season alone one hundred and thirty two NBA players have D-League experience. So in that aspect the D-League is doing a fine job.

The NBA has made a few changes over the years to help their teams to use the D-League more effectively, in December of 2011 as part of the new collective bargaining agreement NBA teams are allowed to assign veteran players to their D-League affiliate with their permission. Then in 2012 it was announced that NBA teams would be allowed to assign players with less than three years experience to their D-League affiliate with no limits on the number of assignments. Both good rules in my opinion.

However there is something I would love to see that has no chance of ever happening. I would like to see the NBA eliminate the one year college rule. I would propose that the NBA add a third round to their entry draft and allow High school seniors to declare for the draft. In the third round NBA teams would have the option of picking a high school player or a college player.

Here’s where it gets interesting. If an NBA team picks a high school senior, that player would join the NBA union at a fair rookie pay scale, and be assigned to the D-League for at least one full season. Here are the advantages, First the NBA and D-League team get a marketing tool, someone to draw crowds to the D-League games and a player to look forward to at the NBA level. The player would get pro coaching as he would be allowed to attend NBA training camp.
At the end of one year of service time the NBA team would have a choice of adding the player to the pro roster, trading the player or allowing the player to re-enter the NBA draft where he would be available to every team.

The player would also benefit from playing a full 50 game schedule so he would be less likely to hit the rookie wall when he does get to the NBA.

I know this will never happen, it’s just my thoughts.

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