Random ramblings of a rabid Celtics fan, starring Tyronn Lue

Saturday, October 24, 2009

With the preseason over and the regular season only three days (three days!) away, news is supposed to be slower than Michael Sweetney with six broken toes and a 100-lb backpack on his back. Instead, there have been a few rumblings from Celtics camp. Here are my thoughts on each of them…

Michael Sweetney gets cut

Nothing else made sense. Why would the Celtics cut somebody else when everybody else has guaranteed contracts? Why would they pay Sweetney double his salary (luxury tax) and pay somebody else who they cut? If they were going to keep Sweetney around, it would have had to be after a 2-for-1 trade opened up a roster spot. But the Celtics are far better off keeping their expiring contracts and hoping to use them closer to the trade deadline, on a player who will help their rotation.

Sweetney is well past his playing weight, he would have been (at best) the fifth big man on the roster, and the Celtics just didn’t have the roster flexibility to keep him around. Had Sweetney been the C’s 15th man under contract, he would have been a nice project to keep around. But he was their 16th man, and he was the odd man out from day one. If he ever sheds his weight, Sweetney will be a hell of a player. And a hell of a Jenny Craig spokesman. But it just didn’t make sense to keep him around… no matter what way you look at it.

Tyronn Lue signs as assistant coach

What the hell? Tyronn Lue, whose name was kicked around a lot all summer for the backup point guard position, is now an assistant coach. Last year, Sam Cassell was the old, washed-up point guard who had an assistant coach’s role. Now, it’s Lue.

Some people will say the C’s are only keeping Lue around as insurance in case they need a 3rd-string point guard when midseason rolls around. I just can’t see it. Lue is washed up, ladies and gentlemen. He has only played 44 games over the past two seasons. He can’t get off the bench, and I couldn’t see him taking any minutes from Rondo, House, Daniels or even Hudson at PG.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe signing Lue as an assistant is the Celtics’ way of stashing him around until he signs as a player late in the season. But if the C’s are relying on Tyronn Lue to play any minutes at all, they will be in bad shape.

Big Baby whining about minutes… already

The Celts haven’t even played a single regular season game, and already Big Baby is whining about minutes. I just don’t see how he can. The Celtics haven’t even played a goddamn game yet!

In fact, I see Big Baby getting a solid amount of minutes. Of the three guys in front of him in the rotation, two (Garnett and Wallace) are getting older and Doc will likely keep their minutes down in an attempt to battle age. I envision Davis playing somewhere around 20 minutes per game, and having a far bigger role then he anticipates. And if he can’t be happy with 20 minutes per game on a championship contender, Big Baby’s in the wrong place.

Rajon Rondo has not been given an extension

If you’ve read my work for awhile, you know how I feel about Rajon Rondo’s contract situation; make a deal with him, quick, before he earns max money in free agency. Think about it; teams are all saving up money to throw at the big names like Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But what happens if those guys stay put? Now, all of a sudden teams will be throwing money at second-tier players like, uh-oh, Rondo.

In the NBA, one thing is for certain: Teams rarely keep cap room and wait for the right player to spend it on, For some reason, GMs feel compelled to use cap room the second the get it, whether the money is being spent to make the team a lot better or not. It’s why Detroit spent $90 million on Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon, and it’s why the Blazers spent on Andre Miller (who, just like Gordon, will be coming off the bench). So teams will be throwing max money at guys who probably don’t deserve it. And Rondo will be one of the headliners in the second-tier of free agents.

So the C’s should wrap him up now, before a big season and a wild free agent market net Rondo a max deal the C’s likely won’t be able, or willing, to match. No matter how you want to look at it, Rondo is the Celtics’ future. He has improved leaps and bounds in each of his first three seasons, and came back this year in great shape with a new and improved shooting stroke. Just sign him, Danny Ainge, or you’ll probably regret it.

I’m worried about this Rondo situation. I think the C’s are playing their hand wrong right now. After alienating Rondo all offseason, they should have shown huge interest in making an extension work. Now, they risk further alienation of Rondo by failing to extend his contract. While he's still a restricted free agent, will the Celtics match the deal if Rajon signs a max contract with another team? I'm not so sure.

NBA Season Preview: Charlotte Bobcats

Friday, October 23, 2009

Last year's record: 35-47
Head coach: Larry Brown
Projected Starters: Raymond Felton, D.J. Augustin, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Tyson Chandler


The Bobcats will look to escape the depths of mediocrity for the first time in the franchise’s existence. But that might be difficult with a roster headlined by Gerald Wallace. He’s good, and can fill up a box score, but he’s not good enough to lead the Bobcats out of the lottery.


Jay – Boris Diaw. Remember when Diaw was a nightly monster, piling up points, boards, and assists? You don’t have to think back too far; he actually averaged 15 points, 6 boards and 5 assists per game for the Bobcats last year. When he’s aggressive, Diaw can make a lot of plays.

Tommy - Gerald Wallace is the heart and soul of this Charlotte team. And no offense to Wallace, because he is tough and athletic, but that gives your team a 45-win ceiling.

TJ - D.J Augustin has a chance to become an above-average point guard in this league. Playing under a Hall of Fame coach will most certainly benefit him. He has some weapons around him, but personally I don’t believe that they are ready to compete in the Eastern Conference just yet.

Biggest question mark:

Jay – Is this the most mediocre NBA team ever? They don’t have one player who stands out, but they have a ton of decent players. Gerald Wallace, Vlad Radmanovic, Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Boris Diaw… the list goes on and on. All decent players, but nobody great.

Tommy - Who will go, Felton or Augustin? Both want to be starters, but they can't be paired together as the starting backcourt. Looks to me like Felton should be the one to go. But he's a Tar Heel like bosses Larry Brown and Michael Jordan.

TJ - Is the economy in the U.S so bad where a team in the NBA has to trade arguably its best player for someone that is talented but labeled as injury prone. The Okafor-Chandler trade made zero sense to me and because of that the Bobcats will fall farther away from that eighth seed that they were so close to last year.

Most compelling storyline:

Jay – Does Michael Jordan even know who’s on the team? Has there ever been a more disengaged team president? I would love to ask him who’s on the team. I can imagine him going on and on about the potential of Adam Morrison before I gently remind him that Morrison is long gone and that his “potential” never came close to translating to NBA success. For a guy hailed as the most competitive person ever, you’d think he’d give a better effort to make the Bobcats relevant.

Tommy - I'm sorry. Based on my definition of compelling, I'm finding it hard to come up with one.

TJ – Sorry Cats fans. I don’t see anything compelling about your team. Honestly, if I did not have to I would not be writing about your team. Or even thinking about them. I see you as a lottery team once again and nothing more; my advice to you would be to lose all 82 games and make a run at John Wall or Derrick Favors.

Player to watch:

Jay – I’ll go with Tyson Chandler here. Of all the decent talent on the Bobcats, he’s the newest addition. If he’s healthy and back to the player he was two years ago, the Bobcats will have a lockdown defender and terrific rebounder.

Tommy - Gerald Henderson; He'll realize he should have stayed one more year with Coach K.

TJ - Now that the best ever is in the Hall of Fame, will he stay out of the gym and in the front office? Yes I am talking about Michael Jordan. I could see him coming back to play in a few games this season, seeing that his team only has an outside chance to make the playoffs. Please do it Mike. Just come back to at least one game. If you came back when the Cavs are in town, the Lebron-Michael matchup could help the U.S. out of its recession. Every T.V. in America would have that game on.

Projected Record:

Jay – 33-49

Tommy – 40-42

TJ – 20-62

NBA Preseason: Expect a Cavaliers win tonight over undermanned Celtics

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tonight’s game with the Cavaliers could be a mismatch. After all, Brian Scalabrine won’t be playing.

Honestly, though, tonight’s game could become a blowout of epic proportions. While Doc Rivers has said he will rest his starters, Cleveland coach Mike Brown vows to play Lebron James and Shaquille O’Neal (and, presumably, the rest of his starters) big minutes as the Cavs play in front of a sold-out home crowd at Ohio St. University.

And the Celtics won’t even have Scal to counter. He sprained an ankle last night when he landed on a photographer, and then was apparently pissed about it afterwards, thinking the cameraman was “beyond the established line for camera positions.” Oh well, Scal, at least it wasn’t another concussion.

As Doc has said, the Big Three will be resting for tonight. With Scal’s injury, I’m not sure who he means by the Big Three: Garnett, Pierce and Ray Allen, or the injured/sick trio of Scal, Michael Sweetney and Tony Allen. After all, Sweetney can make any “Three” Big.

Either way, look for the Celtics to get pummeled tonight, and then remember that this game doesn’t matter, not one bit. Lebron will probably score an easy 25, Shaq may or may not struggle to handle Perk and Rasheed, and Anthony Parker will look across the court at Shelden Williams and think to himself, “Man, that guy impregnated my sister.” For the Celtics, Marquis Daniels (who really impressed last night against the Knicks) will see a lot of time, Rasheed will make Shaq guard him from 25 feet from the basket, and Lester Hudson and J.R. Giddens will continue trying to make the best of limited minutes.

If you’re sick of these preseason games and can’t wait until the games actually count, I’m right there with you. I’ve had enough of the preseason; I just want the games to finally matter. I don’t want to watch the Celtics and Cavs and see Marquis Daniels guarding Lebron and Hudson guarding Mo Williams. No offense to Daniels or Hudson, I like both of them as players, but I want to see Pierce and Lebron mano-a-mano, and I want to see Rondo running circles around Williams while Williams gives Rondo a clinic on how a point guard should shoot. I want Shaq versus Perkins down low, and I want to see Shaq hobble around like an old man after Rasheed on the perimeter. I want Kevin Garnett showing Anderson Varejao how to play ‘D’ without flopping, not Big Baby and Varejao in a flopping contest.

I’m going to endure this last game, and then the preseason will officially be over. The regular season will finally be on the way, and the Cavs and Celtics will match up again, in six days. By then, we’ll finally be able to see both teams’ ‘A’ Squads.

Running Diary: Garnett leads Celtics to another demolition of Raptors

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Celtics played the Raptors again and, again, they blew the NBA’s lone Canadian team out. A lot of people think Toronto could make some noise in the East this year, but they have been no match for the Celtics in two (nonetheless meaningless) preseason games. Kevin Garnett (21 points, 4 rebounds) led the way for the C’s , and by this point in the preseason nobody is asking any more questions about his knee. KG’s leg is A-Okay, and he is going to be the same old Kevin Garnett that everybody has come to respect and admire.

Garnett was great, and Ray Allen (20 points on 8-13 shooting) shot the lights out, but nobody was as electric today as Eddie House. In the fourth quarter, Eddie got hot like only Eddie can, hitting three three-balls and a long two before Doc mercifully summonsed him back to the bench. When Eddie gets hot, it’s a sight to behold. A sliver of space is all he needs, and every shot seems to go down. There is not a better streak shooter in this league than Eddie House. He is a feared assassin, and he can put opposing teams away with one of his hot streaks, as he did today.

The C’s didn’t get much from Paul Pierce (2 points), but nothing was needed. They have the depth to get by even when the Big Three only has two functioning members. For more in-depth analysis, read my running diary below. Unfortunately, it starts at the second quarter. I live in New York, and couldn’t find a feed for the game until then. Sue me.

Running Diary: Second Quarter

  • Turned the game on at the end of the first quarter, after I finally found it streaming live on the internet. 33-23, Celtics. The score sounds good. I think missing the first quarter might have been a blessing in disguise: I got to watch the Maccabi Tel Aviv coach get kicked out of his game against the Knicks and then refuse to leave the court.

    The NBA preseason; Where European basketball coaches acting like Bobby Knight happens.

  • Stats come up on the screen, which by the way is one of the worst-quality live streams I’ve ever seen. Anyways, 76.5% shooting for the Celtics in the first quarter. That’s it? They can’t even get to 80%?

  • Eddie House for three. At least I think it was Eddie. I can barely tell through this grainy computer feed.

  • I hate Hedo Turkoglu for what he did to the Celtics in the playoffs, but I really respect him. He brings a lot to his team. When he’s coming off screens and knocking down shots, you tend to forget he’s damn near 7 feet tall. He just hit an and-one, by the way.

  • Marquis Daniels with a great steal, then looks like he might go coast-to-coast! Only to dribble it off his leg and out of bounds. Still, a nice defensive play from the man who still looks a lot like Mikki Moore.

  • Bargnani and Turkoglu get dunks on back-to-back plays. I wouldn’t have been more surprised if Tom Thibodeau himself went up for a tomahawk slam.

  • Rondo with a nice jumper from out top. His form is really looking good. The Celtics defense, though, isn’t, and they give up another layup. This time to the fuzzy character who somewhat resembles Amir Johnson. 38-34, C’s.

  • Rasheed Wallace is looking very active defensively. I always knew he was a good defender, but when you watch him every night you begin to appreciate just how much he affects a game on both ends.

  • Marquis Daniels is either strong, has a mean streak, or both. He and Hedo are going at it while Hedo guards Marquis, and Daniels’ shoulder seems to be dishing out a fair amount of pain to Hedo.

  • Breaking news: I have now found a good feed! I no longer have to guess who is who based on the body shape and skin color. I can now actually see players’ faces and numbers! I feel like I was just given glasses for the first time after having impaired vision for my whole life.

  • Daniels and Wallace are everywhere defensively. You can’t underestimate the impact they’ll have on the second unit. I don’t care if neither of them scores a point all season. They’re still better than Mikki Moore and Tony Allen.

  • Rondo just threw his patented alley-oop. But this time it went to Rasheed, not KG. I’m surprised ‘Sheed can still get up a little bit. He’s getting old. 44-36, Celtics.

  • Starters back in. ‘Sheed goes to the bench, but not before proving yet again why I love that the Celtics picked him up. He only has 2 points and 2 rebounds, but I couldn’t be happier with ‘Sheed’s effort.

  • Kevin Garnett isn’t just one of the best big-man shooters in the league. He’s one of the best shooters in the NBA, period. But for some reason he cannot, and/or will not, step back behind the arc. He hits a lot of shots from just inside the arc, but has never diversified his game to include the three.

  • The last two games, the Celtics have really started to look like themselves. Better defense, higher intensity, and quicker ball movement. Either they’re starting to work into regular season form, or they’re playing the Raptors. Maybe a little bit of both, although the Raps should be much improved this year with Hedo in tow.

  • Ray with a picture-perfect pull-up jumper in transition. With Ray, isn’t it always picture-perfect?

  • The Celtics just had the prettiest play of the preseason. Ball down low with KG. Passes out top to Rasheed. Swings to Marquis on the wing. Hits KG high post. Lob down low to Rondo. Wide open layup. All of those passes were executed before you could say, “Bing-Bang”. Such an impressive play that can only happen when a team really knows how to play the game.

  • Shelden Williams has now entered the game. Word on the street is that the Raptors are going to double-team him because of the first-half shooting barrage he went on Wednesday night. Or maybe they’ll just realize it was a fluke.

  • And I think they realized it was a fluke. They left Shelden wide open at the free throw line one of his first possessions. He thought about it briefly and let it go. As you might have imagined, it was a brick.

  • The half ends with a Rondo heave that actually comes pretty close. 54-49 at the half. Garnett leads the C’s with 15 points, Ray-Ray bounced back from an uncharacteristic bad shooting game to shoot 6-6 for 14 points, and Rondo ends the first half with 6 points and 4 assists. Pierce, though only scoring 2 points, compiled a team-high 5 assists.

    Third Quarter

  • Sloppy start to the second half. Neither team scores ‘til two minutes go off the board. Unfortunately, it’s the Raptors who finally break the ice. Even more unfortunately, it’s Hedo mother---ing Turkoglu. 54-52 Celtics.

  • Celts don’t look good offensively, but give a little credit to the Raps. They’ve ratcheted up the intensity and are suddenly contesting every shot. Meanwhile, Bargnani all of a sudden looks like the Defensive Player of the Year as he stuffs two Perkins shots right back in his face. 54-54. Tie game.

  • The Celtics finally score, and I can’t say whether I’m surprised that their first bucket this half was scored on a goaltend. I guess it was destiny that Perkins would have his shot blocked a third straight time, except it would count. After all, the third time’s the charm.

  • The third quarter has been sloppy on both sides, but not in a preseason “we don’t care” type of way. Both teams are getting after it. 58-54 Celtics, 6 minutes left.

  • The shooting stats just popped up on the bottom of the screen; The Celtics are shooting 15%, and the Raptors are at a scorching 22%.

  • Pretty fastbreak by the C’s. Ray Allen dribbles upcourt, then lobs a pass to a perfectly-positioned KG, who turns and scores.

  • My feed just went haywire. It was working perfectly and then, all of a sudden, pause after pause as the feed backed up. And now Kevin Garnett is talking about Marquis Daniels being underrated, but I can’t hear because my computer has no volume. The only reason I knew what KG was talking about because it said right under Kevin Garnett’s name, “Marquis Daniels Underrated”.

  • 67-59, Celtics. If Ray Allen doesn’t have the smoothest game in the world, I don’t know who does. Maybe Jesus Shuttlesworth. Ray just caught a Rondo pass and drove right into the lane, almost finishing with what would have been an oh-so-pretty fingerroll. Even his misses make me talk about how smooth he is.

  • Rasheed in for Perk with the rest of the first unit. I like the lineup, and I like that Wallace just drained a three to put the C’s up 71-63.

  • Jarrett Jack just got accosted by Big Baby, who was at the time being held by Amir Johnson, and Jack went flying to the floor. Somehow, it was a foul on Jack, rather than Big Baby or Johnson. Gotta love the replacement refs.

  • End of third quarter. 73-63, Celtics. Doc has really tightened the rotation today. Still, I’m surprised we haven’t seen any of Scal or Hudson in the game.

    Fourth Quarter

  • We may not be seeing much of the end of the Celtics’ bench, but we can certainly find remnants of past Boston benches. Patrick O’Bryant, who might be in a tie with Mikki Moore for the worst 7-footer to ever play basketball in Boston, is now in the game for the Raps.

  • Scal has now entered the game. I’m not sure why Doc has waited until the fourth quarter to put him in during the last two games. Maybe it’s just indicative of the minutes Scal will get come the regular season. I thought the second unit functioned great when Scal was out there with House and Wallace, but maybe Rivers thinks differently.

  • Big Baby has some limitations defensively, but he sure does know how to take a charge. I fear for the floor every time he does, but he hasn’t dented any… yet.

  • 81-69, Celtics. With the way the second unit has been playing, Red Auerbach is now opening the stogies and preparing to light one.

  • With Eddie House catching fire, Red won't even need a lighter. And House is doing it without his trademark headband. His last three was on a beautiful cross-court pass by Daniels, who is doing a good job with his PG duties.

  • Kevin Garnett is up and cheering for everybody. And by cheering, I mean spewing random swears in a way he hopes will make his teammates play better.

  • Daniels is doing a great job facilitating the offense, and Eddie House hasofficially ignited in flames. Three threes and a looonggg two THIS QUARTER have put the finishing touches on this one, even though there’s still a bit of time left to play. 90-73, Celtics. This second unit could beat a lot of starting fives around the league.

  • KG has been on the bench reacting to each House three like it’s an NBA championship-clinching shot. If he realizes it’s only preseason, KG is not letting on that he knows.

  • Eddie was forced to bomb one from 35 feet as time expired on the shot clock. I think I speak for all Celtics fans when I say I was surprised it missed. Despite being from halfway across Toronto.

  • Michael Sweetney has entered the game with a little over four minutes left. Hudson is the only one who has yet to see minutes. Sweetney gobbles up a rebound on his first possession… no pun intended.

  • Hudson and Giddens are now in, joining Sweetney, Scal, and Shelden Williams. Eddie House leaves, but I can still see smoke rising from him on the sidelines.

  • The last couple minutes were filled with a Lester Hudson three, a Giddens jumper, and a Shelden dunk. Nothing too exciting, but nothing to be ashamed of, either. The third unit looked good. Just like the first unit did, and just like the second unit did. Game over. 101-82, good guys win.