Throwing some dimes

Monday, December 14, 2009

Once in a while, someone else's article catches my eye. Sometimes, it's because the article is so spot-on I wish I'd written it myself. Other times, it's because the article enlightens me with something I never knew. Still other times, it's because I disagree with whatever's written. No matter what the reason, I dish it off to another writer to make his/her point. You know, throwing some dimes.

  • Chris Forsberg writes a very nice and well-informed piece about the top ten reasons the Celtics are so good.  One of his reasons?  Winning in spite of themselves:
Quite possibly the most impressive aspect of the 10-game winning streak has been the Celtics' ability to win even when they don't play their best basketball. Try to find a game in which they put a complete and dominating 48-minute effort together. Save for maybe Charlotte or Chicago, it was rarely there.

Taken to overtime against a lowly Knicks squad, they needed Garnett's long-range jumper to escape with a win. … Philadelphia generated much of its offense on the fast break, and Boston's aging legs struggled to keep pace. … The Celtics played virtually no defense against Toronto until the second half. … Milwaukee dominated the offensive glass and hung around thanks solely to second-chance opportunities.

And yet the Celtics found a different way to win each night.

"The whole goal for us is to continue to play and get better," Pierce said. "We learn from wins, and we learn from losses. Throughout the course of the season, we're just trying to get better."
Read the rest of his story to find the other nine reasons.
Deep breath. That’s a lot of stats. Probably too many, especially since some contradict the others. (Paul Pierce, for instance, has the highest offensive rating but the worst offensive plus/minus on 82games). Is there any way to digest all of this and come to a definitive conclusion?

Probably not. I mean, we can see some general trends. Rondo and KG “beat” Pierce in nearly every defensive category (save opponent PER), and we can probably conclude that they are slightly more valuable on defense than Pierce. But all three are really outstanding.

Offensively, the numbers are all over the board.

One conclusion you can make: Imagine someone who had access to these stats but no way of watching games. That person could very well conclude Rajon Rondo is the best player on the Celtics. Statistically, we are there. Based purely on numbers, you can make the case that—right now—Rajon Rondo is the team’s MVP.
So who would be Zach Lowe's MVP if he had a vote?  Read and find out.
  • The Grizzlies blog Three Shades of Blue guarantees a win for tonight, quoting Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer while describing the "BEAUTIFUL" basketball Memphis has been playing lately:
The Grizzlies are playing downright BEAUTIFUL basketball -- the ball movement, the hustle, the defense, the highlight dunks -- it's fun to watch because it's BEAUTIFUL basketball. Dwyer:
"Lionel Hollins has this team passing the ball with an interest that could only be described with a sentence that features the word 'aplomb.' Lionel Hollins has turned a bunch of me-first misfits into a TEAM that loves playing the right way. One that comes out in an early evening contest in Miami after a Saturday night in South Beach and moves the ball, cuts off angles defensively, and thinks two passes ahead of the one it is about to throw.

Clearly, Lionel Hollins is a genius, or he practices in the stylings of what could be called 'the occult.'

Tonight's game with Boston will be a TRUE test. Frankly, the Grizz have been playing with a level of confidence and cohesion that rivals the Celtics and Lakers. WHEN we steal this game, the whole league will notice!
The Grizzlies are 10-13, people.  Yes, they're on a 4-1 streak, but even Ben Wallace makes a free throw once in a while.  Let's not go overboard.
  • SBNation ranks NBA teams on a "Watchability scale", and the Celtics come in fifth:
There's something unbelievably satisfying about watching a veteran team just take care of business no matter what, even if everyone guns for them. Boston is 11-1 on the road this year, and watching them, you know why. They never make a mistake. All their sets are precise, though it helps that they have two great scorers in Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, along with two of the league's best screeners in Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins. On defense, they shut down everything your team likes to do. You like pick-and-roll? No problem, we'll unleash the human pick-and-roll eraser, KG, on you. Like post play? Don't worry, we only have the two best low-post defenders in basketball. Good luck, guys. Thanks to Rajon Rondo, they also have the best secondary fast break in the league, meaning they do a great job of pushing the ball on missed shots and taking advantage of the confusion that results while players try to find their man on defense.

Here's the problem: Boston is so damn unlikeable. Garnett and Rondo are punks. Perkins has developed some ridiculous fake swagger, the kind that results from riding the coattails of your four all-star caliber teammates. Rasheed Wallace needs no introduction, and Pierce is a chronic whiner that got carried off the floor by his teammates in the 2008 Finals, only to magically come back a few minutes later and be just fine.
Everyone goes overboard with the "Boston is so unlikeable" comments.  They don't have a single person who has ever been in any significant trouble with the law and, off the court, the C's all seem like pretty decent guys.  Just because they play basketball with a chip on their shoulder and talk a lot of shit (just like Bird used to do back in the day), the C's have a bad reputation.  Well I, for one, am glad they play like that.  I'd rather have a team that overdoes it with passion than one that goes through the motions.


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