Celtics Loudmouth Quote of the Night

Saturday, December 12, 2009

While Rasheed Wallace brought his "Ball Don't Lie!" shctick again, the loudmouth tonight goes not to a Celtic player, but to a certain Celtics announcer who has developed an intense hatred for Brad Miller, especially after his latest clothesline of Rajon Rondo.

When the camera zoomed in on a sneering Brad Miller yelling at an official, Tommy Heinsohn said, in a mocking voice pretending to be Brad Miller, "You didn't call a foul when I was flailing my arms!"

Heinsohn angrily, semi-coherently, rambled on a bit more about Miller. Classic Tommy. One of these days, he's going across the table at a ref or a player. You should be able to bet on that in Vegas.

Celtics grab the Bulls by the horns

The Boston Celtics defeated the Bulls in Chicago, breaking the game open in the second half with a 13-2 run in the 3rd Quarter on their way to their 10th consecutive win, 106-80.

Rajon Rondo continued his stellar play of late, netting 16 points, 14 assists, and 7 rebounds. On a night that the starters rested much of the 4th Quarter, Eddie House fired his way to 15 points, on 5-15 shooting, while Rasheed Wallace added 15 points and 5 rebounds.

KG grabbed his 4th double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Ray Allen (10 pts), Paul Pierce (14 pts), and Kendrick Perkins (10 pts) also reached double figures.

Brad Miller repayed Rajon Rondo for that hard playoff foul last season, raking Rondo across the neck, and dragging him to the floor for a flagrant foul. Brad Miller has officially become the white guy in the NBA it's so easy to hate.

With age, he has lost his athletic ability and degenerated into a player who grabs, pulls, tricks, and sneers his way to whatever success he has on the court. Celtics announcer Tommy Heinsohn practically had to be restrained from going over the table after Miller. I'm exagerrating. A little bit.

Nothing much else to note, no Bull really stood out for commendable play and the win was relatively easy. Boston's next game is @ Memphis Monday night.

Looking ahead at Boston's schedule, we could be looking at a 23-4 Celtics team taking on the Orlando Magic, who at 17-6 are currently 2nd in the Eastern Conference and have 5 of their 6 games before Christmas at home, with the only road game against the struggling Miami Heat.

Boston @ Orlando on ABC 2:30 pm Christmas Day is going to have me stuck to the coach during my parent's Christmas Party. I can't resist watching one and two in the East go at it again, with the Celtics having another little shot at revenge for last June, when the Magic ousted the C's from the playoffs.

Plus, I enjoy rooting against Vince Carter in any situation. Or watching J.J. Redick in any situation. I'm sorry, I'm a Duke fan! And I root for white, American NBA players like black people rooted for Barack Obama. I just want my future son to see it's possible for white guys to succeed in basketball, like black parents wanted their children to see they could be President.


Celtics-Bulls: The rivalry that never was

Visit CitySwagUsa.com for high-quality custom-printed tees!(Listening.) (Waiting.) (Listening harder.) (Waiting some more.) (Cupping hand around ear.) (Listening one last time.) (Giving up.)

So what the hell was I listening for? Any talk of the "Celtics-Bulls rivalry", that's what. But I can't exactly seem to hear any rumblings about the "rivalry" that was born last playoffs.

Maybe it's because the rivalry was but a passing speck on the landscape of playoff history. With Kevin Garnett's far-reaching influence back in the Boston lineup, and Ben Gordon's scoring and shooting taken away from the offense-deprived Bulls, the rivalry could never materialize.

All that remain now are the memories. Sweet memories for the Celtics, bitter-sweet for the Bulls. But whether you’re a Celtics or Bulls fan, aren’t the memories great? Celtics fans can take pride in beating a game Bulls squad, despite being without their anchor and heart, KG. Bulls fans can take solace, even in the loss, that their team overachieved, overcoming all odds to send the series into a seventh game and providing the country with a far more exciting series than expected.

Watching the Bulls play the other night, I couldn't help but reminisce back to the terrific seven-game extravaganza that was more a mixture of a marathon and a boxing match than it was an NBA playoff series. There were haymakers thrown every game, but neither team ever stayed on the canvas for long. Both teams were both giving it their all, but it was nothing near a sprint.

Gordon would hit a pullup jumper in transition with a Celtic draped all over him, then Ray Allen would answer by coming off a screen to drain a three with a Chicago big man in his face. Paul Pierce would hit a one-dribble pullup to his right, then John Salmons would respond with a herky-jerky drive for a bucket. Rajon Rondo would grab a rebound, sprint the floor with the ball yo-yo'ing in his hands, and find a teammate for an easy score, but Derrick Rose would come right back, split the teeth of the Celtic defense and finish over bigger defenders at the rim.

The two teams stood toe-to-toe for 15 rounds, never once backing down, never once conceding a win or giving an inch in their quests to reach the second round. They staggered to the finish line, beaten and bloodied, fatigued from seven long and grueling games, but never showed it. They reached within themselves for every drop of energy they had left, entering the deepest confines of their bodies to squeeze out every last bit of whatever it was they had in reserve.

My words sound cliché, but if ever there was a time where clichés seemed appropriate, it would have been that series. “Give 110%,” “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over,” “Games aren’t played on paper,” “The series was a battle”; Was there a cliché that didn’t ring true during those seven games?

But to call it a rivalry is wrong. A rivalry is sustained over a long period of time as two evenly-matched teams with hatred and pure respect for each other go to war. A rivalry isn’t just a fleeting seven-game series, no matter how competitive, memorable, and tightly-contested it may be.

It was great while it lasted, but the Celtics-Bulls rivalry that never was has dissipated into thin air as the two teams have gone their separate ways. After last season, it was thought that the Bulls were a young team on the rise, and the Celtics an aging juggernaut on the last legs of a brief but powerful run near the top. Now, the Bulls are a battered team desperately in need of a makeover and some serious revamping, while the Celtics seem tooled to once again challenge for a championship. The rivalry that could have been has disappeared before it even materialized.

But the memories of the exhilarating series, of that time when clichés seemed so true? Those will always remain.

Celtics-Bulls game preview

List of articles we've already written about the game:
Now, here are three things to look forward to during the game:
  1. Lack of Bulls scoring - With John Salmons shooting only 38.7% from the field (No, it's not a typo), the Bulls have a severe lack of scoring both on the perimeter and down low.  Luol Deng is their top scorer, but even he would be a complementary scorer on a good team.  Even Derrick Rose, as talented as he is, has yet to develop a scorer's mentality.  With the dearth of Bulls scoring going up against a stingy Celtic defense, Chicago might be in for a long night.
  2. Derrick Rose vs. Rajon Rondo - This one should be a doozy.  It seems like Rondo has a premier matchup every night, and he usually steps up against the better PG's in the league.  Rose has lacked the same aggression he displayed at the end of last year, but remains one of the league's top talents and still has every athletic tool a point guard could ever conceive of.  Should be a very fun matchup.
  3. Pierce and Allen could have their way - When the two teams met earlier this season, Pierce and Allen shot a combined 15-21 from the floor in a terrific shooting display.  Salmons and Deng should actually be pretty good matchups for the two Celtic wings; they're long and pretty athletic.  But this Bulls team doesn't seem at all intent on stopping their opponent, and teams playing Chicago have been getting a lot of good, open looks from the perimeter.

Celtics Town looking for new writer

With our new blog dedicated to giving more constant updates, it's become increasingly difficult to run Celtics Town with our current crop of writers.  Because time can only permit us to write so many posts in a day, we would like to open up a search for the newest Celtics Town writer in order to expand our coverage of the team. 

We ask only that our new addition be reliable, committed, a knowledgable NBA and Celtics fan, and a damn good writer.  If you would like to be considered for the position, please email me at jayking@celticstown.com, or contact me via Twitter @CelticsTown.  In order for us to gauge your writing skills, please send a sample (or preferably three or four samples) of your writing.  You don't have to have any experience as a blogger, you just need to be committed and talented.

We are looking for at least one individual to assist with the blog and another to be a columnist.  Or, if you're really committed, you could even do both.

We don't have any money to give you (I can hear you all screaming DAMN IT!), but we can offer you exposure for your writing and a place for your opinions to be heard.

Also, don't be crushed if we don't pick you.  Not being chosen to write for Celtics Town isn't quite the end of the world.

Deng says Bulls lacking confidence defensively

Confidence is an enormous aspect of basketball.  When a player has the hot hand, all of a sudden the basket looks huge.  He stops thinking about missing and just plays, acting aggressively and simply doing everything he's practiced for so many hours in the gym.

On the other hand, when confidence isn't high, a player hesitates.  He takes a split second too long before letting fly with that open jumper, or forces a drive because he doesn't have faith in his shot.  A player without confidence can look woefully lost and meek on the court, even a player with the talent to be a difference-maker.

But defensive confidence?  Is there such a thing?

Luol Deng thinks so.  (Via the Chicago Tribune):
"We've lost confidence defensively," Luol Deng said. "Our energy isn't the same. We fight for that stop and when we don't get it, it seems like it affects both ends."

Kirk Hinrich played in his second straight game against the Warriors after missing six with a sprained left thumb. And Tyrus Thomas missed his 16th game with a fractured radius in his left forearm.

Those two represent two of the Bulls' better defenders.

"Not to take anything away from them -- we're definitely better when they're here -- but I don't think we're 30 points worse without them," Deng said.
In my experience, defense has nothing to do with confidence.  It has to do with heart, determination, and attitude.  A gritty player will step in and take a charge on an out-of-control penetrator.  He'll get into passing lanes and deny his man the ball.  He'll pressure a ballhandler into miscues, and slide his feet to help a beaten teammate.  And, in my eyes at least, he'll do all that regardless of his confidence level.

But I guess Deng disagrees.  He seems to think the Bulls are lacking confidence in their defensive abilities, and it has affected their performance. 
If he's right, I hope their confidence stays low, if only for tonight.

Throwing a few more dimes: Ray Allen doesn't want J.R. Giddens to hit the rim

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.

Just read a couple good pieces, so I wanted to let you guys know about them:
As Giddens took long-range shooting practice this morning at the United Center in Chicago, Ray Allen sat observing, just inches away on the bench. Giddens isn't not a congenital shooter -- he falls away a bit on his shot -- but this morning, he was doing alright. He hit three consecutive shots in front of Allen from the right side.

But that wasn't sufficient for Allen.

"You touched the rim!" Allen said after Giddens' third make.

Giddens turned around to face Allen. He wasn't despondent, but appeared more like an eager child trying to please a father-coach.
Stories like that are always cool.  It's interesting to get a peek at what goes on behind the scenes, the relationships between players.
The best general managers in sports have to make tough decisions like this on a regular basis. While now is probably not the opportune time to point it out, the New England Patriots were the NFL's team of the decade in large part because of the shrewd personnel decisions the team made in order to remain a top competitor over the long haul.

Put yourself in Danny Ainge's shoes and suppose the Celtics win another NBA title in June, what should management do? Bring back Allen, committing quality money over what would likely be at least a two-year period? Or recognize that you squeezed two championships out of a three-year window with this new Big 3 and start the turnover process, potentially using the savings to try to lure a quality young player out of a bountiful 2010 free-agent class?
I would love for him to stay, but only at a reasonable price.  From what Ray said about the Allen Iverson saga earlier this season, he understands veteran players have to take a discount and accept a smaller role to continue to play for a contender.  It's a nice attitude, and one I hope brings Ray back to Boston after a sizeable pay cut.

Throwing a dime: Scott Souza joins Celtics Stuff Live

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.

Long one of the best Celtics writers around, Scott Souza has now taken his work into the Celtics blogosphere, where he will contribute a column to Celtics Stuff Live.  I would describe his first column, about Tony Allen's last chance to make it in Boston, but I wouldn't do it justice.  With that said, I'll just let you read a short excerpt of it:
There is no denying Allen is an NBA talent. But the league’s fringes are littered with players who have the skills, but were never able to put them together in a way to justify real value. Allen came close, oh so close, during the nadir of Boston’s 2006-07 flop when Paul Pierce, Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West were all hurt, Rajon Rondo had yet to emerge, and Allen was a 20-point-a-game scorer for a month.

Then came a torn ACL on a meaningless dunk attempt after the whistle, and a series of setbacks that have come to define Allen as a person and a player. For a few minutes – the second quarter Thursday night, for instance – he looks like a legitimate piece of a championship puzzle. Then almost as quickly – the end of the third quarter Thursday night, for instance – he is a glaring square peg firing up wild shots and tossing away passes around a round hole in the rotation.
I couldn't have said it better myself: "A glaring square peg firing up wild shots and tossing away passes around a round hole in the rotation."

So congratulations to Celtics Stuff Live for the newest addition to their crew, and to Souza for extending his influence and joining the Celtics blogosphere.

Rajon Rondo latest Celtic to deflect praise to teammates

If you're like me, you've noticed a trend this season of Boston Celtics players deflecting credit to anyone but themselves. Just yesterday, it was Ray Allen's turn, giving teammates and coaches credit for a lot of his 20,000 points. If you listen to Ray, it would seem as though he only score a couple thousand points by himself; his teammates scored the rest of his 20,000.

But Rajon Rondo has always seemed cocky and a little bit aloof. If there was one Celtic who wouldn't buy into the notion that his teammates were a large part of his success, it would probably be Rajon. He seems like the kind of guy you'd want to go to war with, but only because he's always got a chip on his shoulder. He doesn't exactly strike anyone (And by "anyone", I mean "me". You know, the voice of the people.) as a selfless, egoless individual who would praise somebody else for his success.

Apparently, though, Rondo's been struck by a wave of Ubuntu. Two stories today, one in the Globe and another in the Herald, show Rondo acting as Ubuntu-ish as any Celtic has this season.

The first one, via the Globe:
“I’m pretty confident right now, offensively and defensively,’’ he said. “The floor seems so spaced. I’ve got the greatest players in the world playing with me. The floor is so wide open and with as great players as I’m playing with, when they don’t help off of those guys I get to drive and get layups. And if they do, I pick them apart, getting the ball to my teammates.’’
I'm glad Rondo recognizes the impact of the C's other stars on his game. Even without them, I'm sure Rondo would be putting up great numbers; after all, he has innate talents like unbelievable court vision and poise to go along with his world-class athletic ability. But with Boston's other stars, it's a lot easier. They open up the floor for Rondo, making it easy for him to dart his way to the basket, or pick up an assist on a pass to an open shooter.

For instance, teams would sag off most power forwards in the NBA. If Kevin Garnett weren't such a deadly shooter from the outside, Rondo wouldn't have nearly as much space to get into the paint and make plays. And when they do sag off Garnett, Rondo can just whip him a pass and the scorekeeper might as well start notching up the assist almost before KG even shoots it. Without Garnett's -- and the other Celtics' -- talents, Rondo would still be a rising-star point guard. It just wouldn't be so easy, so effortless.

But it isn't just the stars Rondo's giving credit to. He's now giving credit for his improved finishing and ballhandling to... Lester Hudson?

Here's what Rondo has to say about playing Hudson one-on-one before games. (Via the Herald):
“I think it’s starting to help me a lot finishing on the break and making my one-on-one moves, and especially with my ballhandling,” said Rondo, who broke out with a team-high 21 points in Thursday’s win in Washington. “You know, I always thought I was a great ballhandler, but one-on-one you can get real crafty and creative with it. He helps me a lot. I love playing one-on-one before the games with him.

“I can’t have the same moves. I have to have different moves when I play against Lester. He gets me going before the game, helping me finish shots. He’s a physical player. He’s about 6-(foot)-3 and he has long arms and he’s a big, strong guard, so I love playing against him every game. It kind of gets me going.”
I get the feeling Rondo is in the Christmas spirit. And also that he took a trip to Who-Ville and his heart expanded to three times its normal size. I just think he forgot to give credit to Kendrick Perkins' wife for his free throw shooting.

Really, though, I think it's just that he's maturing, and is realizing how lucky he is to be in such a cushy situation.

Without such great teammates, Rondo would still be a great point guard. But things wouldn't be so easy.

And he wouldn't have a ring.

Derek Fisher, meet Corey Brewer's crotch

Normally, we give you the Morning Walkthrough every morning.  But since it's Saturday morning, I'm lazy, and you likely hate the Lakers if you're at this site, I thought I'd change it up today.  Without further ado, I would like to nominate Derek Fisher for the NBA's most humiliating moment of the month:

In the words of Marc Jackson, "Momma there goes that man."

Ray Allen, named top shooter of the decade, says Dirk is best

Friday, December 11, 2009

Yesterday, Ray Allen was named Slam's top shooter of the decade:
In assessing the decade’s top shooter I tracked down grainy, pre-HD video montages, scoured through lists of all stars, tried to make sense of stats I didn’t know exist, and… disregarded it all. The true mark of evaluating a marksman is recognizing one when you see one, and Ray Allen, the smoothest of operators, has earned the decade’s superlative while staking his claim as one of the top shooters of all time.
Ray, though, says Dirk Nowitzki is best. (Via an interview with Slam):
SLAM: Who do you consider the best shooter this decade?
Ray Allen: The best shooter this decade? Dirk.

SLAM: Why?
RA: There’s always a separation in this league of shooters and scorers. He’s been a guy that can score, he’s scored a lot of points, but at the same time he’s shooting from all over the floor, from three to mid-range. He doesn’t get a lot of layups, but he creates a big matchup (problem). He’s been having big games for his franchise over the last ten years.

I don't have any problems with Ray being listed as the top choice; the man can stroke the hell out of a basketball, and it is oh-so-pretty to watch him shoot.  But I wouldn't agree with Ray's choice of Dirk.  As far as midrange jumpers go, Dirk's as good a shooter in the league; he can get his shots off against anyone and he has unbelievable touch.  He just doesn't have the same range as a lot of other guys.  His three-point percentages over the last three seasons, including this season, (35.9%, 35.9%, and 35.3%) scream "Rasheed Wallace" more than they scream "the best shooter of the decade."

Nonetheless, Dirk can shoot, and he can get his shot off over anyone in the league.  He's just no Jesus Shuttlesworth.

In other news, Brian Scalabrine was not nominated.

Throwing some dimes

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 a stat 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.

  • Red's Army discusses who on the Celtics will make the All-Star team, and includes Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and, well, and nobody else.  In my eyes, that's just wrong, flat-out wrong.  Don't get it twisted, I think Pierce and Rondo should definitely make it, and I'm a big fan of the Vote for Perk movement.  But if Perk makes the All-Star team and Kevin Garnett doesn't, it will be a travesty.  An absolute travesty.  For everything that Perk does for the C's, Garnett does so much more.  He's their best passing big man, their most consistent mid-range threat, and can do a lot of things that Perk simply cannot do.  I'm all for Perk making the All-Star team, just not in lieu of Garnett; KG is still a lot better than Perk, no matter how much adulation has been bestowed on Perk lately.  Also, I don't think Ray Allen will make the team, but I think he's playing very good basketball... everything, that is, besides his normal calling card: three-point shooting.
  • Celtics Hub: Eddie House did something last night that he hadn't done in a long time, and rarely ever does.
  • Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston: Boston did a much better job rebounding last night, especially in the second quarter, when Washington did something else that hadn't been done in a long time... maybe ever.  They didn't have a single rebound.
  • Jeff Clark from CelticsBlog appreciates "the good Tony Allen"
Tony Allen is an easy target on this blog.  He's known for his maddeningly low basketball IQ and frequent boneheaded plays.  But he's on this basketball team and in the NBA for a reason.  He's athletic, aggressive (which is important: see Gerald Green), and he gets after it on defense.  When the stars align and he is focused on what he needs to do to help the team win, good things can happen like they did last night.

Joe Johnson wants to come back to Boston?

It's improbable, it's unlikely, it's not very plausible, but apparently Joe Johnson wouldn't mind wearing the Green and White next season.  (Via Marc Spears, Yahoo! Sports):
A source also said Johnson would have interest in returning to the Boston Celtics, who drafted him in 2001, but such a scenario is laughable unless there is a sign-and-trade because the Celtics won’t have salary-cap room.
So who's with me in starting the Tony Allen for Joe Johnson campaign?  All we have to do is take the Hawks' ownership group out, get them hammered, then convince them to hire Chris Wallace as their GM.  Once Wallace signs on, that deal is as good as done, salary cap issues be damned.

Seriously, though, while it would be terrific to see Johnson back for a second stint in Boston, it seems almost impossible.  So think about it, dream about it, but don't get attached to the thought and don't get your hopes up that it's anything more than a pipe dream.

Ray Allen gives teammates credit for milestone

We always knew Ray Allen was as classy as they come.  In a sport -- a society, really -- often marred by reckless behavior, poor decisions, and lawlessness, Ray Allen is a shining light of class.  He has always carried himself in a manner that sets a good example for everyone who looks up to him as a role model, in a manner that endears my mother to him.  (And if my mom likes you, you're probably a great guy.  She doesn't like very many athletes, but the one's she does are usually the epitome of class.)

So when Ray reached a milestone (20,000 points) last night, how else would he handle himself but with the utmost class?

Here's Ray, speaking about the milestone.  (Via the Boston Globe):

“It’s interesting how basketball’s such a team sport, but it’s governed by so many individual statistics,’’ Allen said. “I’m just grateful I’ve had great teammates, I’ve had great coaches, and I’ve had pretty good organizations, and that’s helped me be where I am today.’’
When he came to the Celtics in 2007, scoring was obviously less of an emphasis for him than it was earlier in his career with the Bucks and Sonics. But, he said, he learned early about the value of sharing over scoring.
“What I did learn, somewhere around my fourth or fifth year, is that the more I pass the ball, the more it’s going to come back to me,’’ said Allen, who finished with 18 points in the 104-102 victory.  “So that’s a philosophy that for a long time I’ve lived by.
“I’ve always been aware of the team. I’ve always been conscious of another player, trying to get him going, because I’ve always felt the game will gravitate towards me at some point.’’
More than anything else, that's what makes me root for Ray.  He not only says the right things, but does the right things.

If you asked me, I'd have to say Ray Allen is the second classiest athlete there is, behind only Tiger Woods.

Then again, maybe he's the very classiest.

On an unrelated note, I also reached a milestone today:  It was the first time I've ever used the word "classy" or a derivative of it more than five times in a single post.  I think I'll take all the credit for myself, though.

Celtics 'define what winning basketball in the NBA is all about'

A few days ago, I told you not to take the Celtics for granted. I wrote about how they inspire me, play the game the right way, and play it in such a cohesive manner that makes you wish you were on a team just like the Celtics. They value the extra pass, defensive rotations, and contesting shots, and care little, if at all, about individual statistics. In the end, it's all about winning for the Celtics, all about helping their teammates out in order to become a better team.

Here's an excerpt from my piece:
Watching the Boston Celtics, though, floods back all the memories of high school basketball, a time when my team wasn't a bunch of individuals, but a close-knit group of brothers. It is easily evident on the court just how much the Celtics care about each other and want to win the game, not just for themselves, but for each other. You can see it every time Kendrick Perkins sets a screen to free somebody else to score, or Kevin Garnett sits on the sidelines during a blowout and screams like the world is ending.

You can see it when Rajon Rondo takes fewer than five shots in an entire game, more than willing just to set his teammates up, or when Paul Pierce defers to his teammates for large parts of the game, happy to ride out somebody else's hot hand. You can see it when the Celtics go on a run, and the entire bench is standing up and cheering, even if NBA rules no longer allow that. You can see it when Shelden Williams, fresh after catching his first DNP-CD of the season, remarks on Twitter not about being hurt by not playing in the game, but about how big a win it was to beat the Spurs.

You can see it in every defensive rotation, every dive to the floor after a loose ball, every extra pass to a more open teammate; the Boston Celtics play the game the right way, a selfless way, a way that inspires teamwork, friendship and camaraderie. A way that not only brings wins, but happiness.
I meant every word of it.  I love the Celtics because they're the Celtics, I grew up in Massachussetts and was born and raised a Celtic fan.  But even if I were from L.A., my favorite player was Kobe Bryant and I bled purple and yellow, I would respect and admire the hell out of Boston.  Not for how good they are, but simply the way they play the game I love.

And ESPN's Tim Legler agrees with me. (Via the Daily Dime):
The Celtics don't generate the lead plays on nightly highlight reels, nor do they dance on the sideline during blowout wins. They aren't as sexy as the Cavs and Lakers. They don't have a player capable of putting up video game numbers every night. What they do have is a group of guys that define what winning basketball in the NBA is all about.

The Celts share the ball. They defend on every possession. They accept roles. They play with energy, passion and pride. They look, feel and play like a group of guys that love playing together. Their balance makes them incredibly difficult to defend because teams cannot "lock in" on a particular player, set or area of the floor.

All five starters average between 11 and 18 points per game, and they can initiate their offense through anyone on the court. Despite claiming an NBA title in 2008 and winning 62 games a year ago, this team is the best of the three under the leadership of Kevin Garnett.
Just read that paragraph again.  The Celtics have "a group of guys that define what winning basketball is all about."  Doesn't that just have a great ring to it?  Watching the Celtics play every night, I don't merely enjoy watching them play.  They make me proud to be their fan and proud to be obsessed with a game that can inspire such togetherness and solidarity.

Still, I disagree with one thing Legler said in that excerpt.  He wrote, "They don't have a player capable of putting up video game numbers every night."  But they do.  The Celtics still have three Hall-of-Famers who, while getting older, still have enough in the tank that they could still put up some damn good numbers.  Plus, they have Rajon Rondo who, more and more every day, is becoming a point guard to be reckoned with.  If they wanted to, any of those guys could put up "video game numbers."

They just prefer to settle for wins, ball movement, and teamwork rather than individual stats.  They prefer to do the nitty-gritty things that may not look appealing to the average viewer, but make a true fan of the game envious of their teamwork and selflessness.  They play the game the right way, and actually enjoy passing up open shots to find their teammates better looks.

Now, you can hate the Celtics for a number of reasons.  You can despise Kevin Garnett for his over-the-top antics, his passionate attempts to break the Guinness World Record for most four-letter words screamed during a 48-minute span.  You can loathe Rasheed Wallace for being such an angry, argumentative man, or Kendrick Perkins for his perennial scowl.  You can dislike Rajon Rondo for his brash cockiness, or you can resent any of them for their incessant trash talk.  You can hate any of those guys for who they are, how they carry themselves on a basketball court.

But you can't hate them for how they play the game.  No, not even the most passionate, loyal Lakers fan on Earth can hate the Boston Celtics for the way the play basketball.

Not when they play the game the very way it was meant to be played.

The Morning Walkthrough: Tony Allen was actually pretty good last night

The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn't mean we have to.  Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day.

Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston - "But Allen far exceeded even his own expectations Thursday night in Washington.  Allen connected on 4 of 5 shots for eight points, with three rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes. Most impressively, he finished with a game-high plus-14 in the plus/minus category, showing how much he contributed at both ends of the floor in a dominant second quarter for the Green.  '[Allen] was big for us,' said Celtics captain Paul Pierce. 'He came in and gave us some very productive minutes. He was able to play defense for us and he came back in the nick of time with Marquis being out so he was able to fill the void. We are able to put him on different guys, defensively, and what people don’t know is that he can get to the basket and score the ball, too.'"

Julian Benbow, Boston Globe - "The Celtics got into a shootout early on before building a 14-point halftime lead. A 20-6 run by Washington to start the third quarter turned that lead to dust and put the Wizards up, 72-70, midway through the quarter. Allen settled things down with a 3-pointer that was as fitting as it was timely, giving him 20,000 career points and putting the Celtics ahead, 73-72.  'When I say we’re not a 48-minute team, that’s proof right there,’ Rivers said.  Paul Pierce, who scored 12 points to eclipse 19,000 in his career, agreed.  'I thought we just played down to the level of our competition in the second half and that’s something we want to keep building on,' Pierce said. 'We played one half of basketball tonight and we have to continue to get better.'"

AP, Boston Globe - "'Tonight it was me being aggressive. I still wanted to pass first, but tonight I had to take the shot,' Rondo said.  'Clearly their game plan was they weren't going to guard him," Rivers said. "They were going to give him shots, and he took them.'  Gilbert Arenas led Washington with 25 points, but missed a pair of free throws with 26.7 seconds to play. Arenas missed five of his six free throws.  After Paul Pierce hit one of two free throws to make it 101-98, Arenas hit a layup with 17 seconds to make it 101-100. Allen hit two free throws with 14.6 left for a 103-100 lead. Arenas and Randy Foye missed 3-point attempts in the final seconds.  Rondo not only was a shooter, he had to try and contain Arenas.  'He's playing one of the premier point guards in the league in Gilbert, so you know he's going to be geeked and jacked up for that,' Garnett said."

Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald - "Allen, in his second game back from offseason ankle surgery, seemed intent on deflecting any pressure that might come his way with Daniels out 6-8 weeks following surgery to repair a torn left thumb ligament.  But he came through when needed last night, scoring eight points (4-of-5 shooting) with three rebounds and two steals in 17:24 as the Celtics took the Wizards, 104-102.  'Tony was great,' said Doc Rivers. 'I thought Tony and Shelden (Williams) saved us in the first half. When we stretched the lead, it was with the second unit. I didn’t think either one of them tried to do too much.'"

Chris Forsberg (again), ESPNBoston - "Despite all their success during this nine-game winning streak, one of the Celtics' glaring weaknesses recently has been rebounding. Opponents have dominated the battle on the glass, sometimes staying close in games solely because of their ability to generate second-chance opportunities off of offensive rebounds.  How much better was Boston's effort on the boards Thursday night in a 104-102 win over the Wizards? It was record breaking."

Zach Lowe, Celtics Hub - "The C’s turned the ball over five times in the last 7:00 of the quarter, including three cough-ups in a span of four possessions, a streak that catapulted the Wiz into the lead. The Wiz also grabbed offensive rebounds on four of six possessions during an overlapping stretch, and those boards turned into a made free throw, a three-pointer and two regular baskets.  These are the streaks that drive you crazy and lose you games. The Wiz only grabbed eight offensive rebounds in 38 rebounding chances (21 percent) under Boston’s basket, so Boston did its job on the boards in a general sense.  But damn if it didn’t feel that way. And that’s because the timing of those rebounds was so damaging. When the C’s absolutely needed to finish a defensive stop and derail the run, they could not do it. (Nor could they do it with 1:21 left, when Jamison grabbed a rebound in traffic and tossed in a typical Jamison awkward-yet-effective over-the-shoulder put-back to tie the game at 98)."

Celtics escape Wizards, 104-102

Thursday, December 10, 2009

At halftime, I thought the only reason to watch the second half was to see Ray Allen pass 20,000 points for his career.  Well that, and seeing whether Washington would register a rebound in the second half.  Instead, the Celtics came out of the locker room with their heads up their butts and proceeded to blow their entire 14-point halftime lead, allowing the Wizards to take the lead at 72-70.

Then the world righted itself, as the Celtics went on a quick 11-0 run, highlighted by a Ray Allen three-pointer that gave him 20,000 points for his career, to regain an 81-72 lead.  From there, I thought Washington would crumble, put their collective tail between their legs and go away.  But it wasn't to be.

They battled back valiantly, eventually pulling even on a couple occasions, but two missed Gilbert Arenas free throws with about 26 seconds remaining spelled doom for the Wizards.  Now, I don't want to say Gilbert choked, but Flip Saunders was seen running on the court to perform the Heimlich Maneuver.

His Heimlich maneuver worked, and Gilbert hit a running lay-in to make it a one-point game with about 20 seconds left, but a missed three by Gilbert after two made Ray Allen free throws had Arenas clutching at his throat again.  Randy Foye then chucked up an off-balance, fadeaway three with a full nine seconds on the game clock, reminding all Celtics fans of Tony Allen, and Red Auerbach was finally able to light up his cigar.

I'll have more analysis to come tomorrow, but here are a few bullets to keep you happy for the time-being:
  • Rondo was dominant.  21 points and 11 assists, despite being limited by foul trouble to 13 first-half minutes.
  • Perk with another big game, 16 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Brendan Haywood really surprised me.  He was very active on the glass, and even hit a number of jumpers.
  • Tony Allen was actually pretty good.  A couple dumb plays, but overall he played a damn good game.  A pleasant surprise, to say the least.
  • Paul Pierce didn't impact the game much offensively, but did a great job on Caron Butler.
  • Gilbert Arenas was looking like Agent Zero, until the aforementioned choke.

Ray Allen reaches 20,000-point milestone

With a three-pointer with about five minutes left in the third quarter, Ray Allen reached the 20,000 point milestone for his career. According to today's Boston Globe, of the 36 players who have reached the milestone, 26 have been inducted to the Hall of Fame and seven of the remaining 10 players are not yet eligible for induction.

About the record, Allen told Yahoo! Sports:
”It’s a big number,” Allen conceded. ”To me, it’s a wondrous accomplishment. It’s about staying healthy, taking care of my body, being on a good team. A lot of things. But I’m still working hard every day to get better and I can’t afford to focus on numbers. The more games I can play, the more games we can win, that’s where the focus is. On this team, we don’t pay attention to the individual stuff.”
With all them points, a championship ring and maybe more to come, plus his reputation as one of the best three-point shooters in NBA history, you can book Ray Allen into the Hall right now. The only things left are to design his plaque and write his speech.

Congrats, Ray.  You're a class act and you deserve everything that comes to you.

Where do I begin when discussing recent Celtics play?

Visit CitySwagUsa.com for high-quality custom-printed tees!Goddamn, it's good to be back.

I had to take a little hiatus from normal life in order to get my studies in order. A week, three all-nighters, and countless cups of coffee later, I'll now be able to write more full-length content. (Rather than the obscenely boring papers I've been writing for finals. It's weird; I love writing about the Celtics, but get me writing a school paper and all of a sudden writing is the worst thing in the world. On second thought, I guess it isn't that odd: Who in the world wants to write 2,000 words discussing the merits and strategies of pharmaceutical benefits managers??? Didn't think so. One more note: I hate coffee. I absolutely despise it. The last cup of coffee I drank, I had to put eight packets of sugar in it. Eight.)

Anyways, since I last wrote a full-length column (I've still been writing blog posts), the Celtics beat the Bucks, Marquis Daniels got hurt, Tony Allen came back, and Big Baby got fitted for a new soft cast. Where, oh where, do I begin?

I could start with Daniels getting hurt, but then I'd have to talk about "Nolan Ryan Rondo" throwing a bullet pass, Eddie House struggling without Daniels' playmaking abilities, and how the next 6-8 weeks are going to really, really suck without Daniels' steady hand and versatility.

Once I got started about the next 6-8 weeks sucking, I'd obviously find my way to Tony Allen. I'd have to talk about the possibility of TA playing extended minutes (Please, God. Just say no.) and eventually wind up discussing how Bill Walker should get those minutes. I'd proceed to wonder why Doc has never given Walker a chance in the lineup, despite the C's desperate need for a backup SF last year, and how Walker has demonstrated the ability to score efficiently at the NBA level. I'd talk about how Walker brings a lot of the same things to the table that Tony Allen does (like drawing fouls, attacking the hoop, athleticism), but doesn't have the incredible brain farts that have plagued Allen thus far. Continuing, I'd state Walker's nice D-League stats so far (18.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 48% fg, 33% 3pt) and probably end up on my knees, begging Doc not to play Tony Allen.

Begging Doc over playing time issues would remind me about how he said Big Baby would have to battle Shelden Williams for minutes when he returned from injury, and I'd inevitably wind up explaining why Big Baby is a far better player than Shelden. I'd discuss his better hands, quicker feet, and far more complete offensive repertoire, and then remind you that, last time we saw Big Baby play, he was busy averaging more than 15 and 5 for an entire playoffs. I would finish my argument by writing a simple question, and it would be: Could you ever see Shelden Williams averaging a 15 and 5, over any extended length of time, especially in the playoffs?

Your answer (No way.) would remind me of how I feel about whether Tony Allen should play minutes, and I would remember TA's forgettable performance in his season debut. I would then recall that his season debut was the other night against the Bucks, and continue to discuss my thoughts on the game. I would praise Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett for their terrific play, then write about the solid games of Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace and Kendrick Perkins.

Writing about Perk's solid play would remind me of how he was torched by Andrew Bogut and, after chuckling to myself about Bogut being a #1 draft pick, I'd remember that he outshone his highly-hyped rookie teammate, Brandon Jennings. I'd argue that Jennings is still an electric player and, even though he shot a horrible percentage from the field against the C's, that his one-handed push floater over the extended arms of big men is a thing of beauty.

But I couldn't talk about the win against the Bucks without then boasting about Boston's current eight-game winning streak. However, once I got started on the win streak, I'd have to caution that no team during the win streak would be considered an elite team. Still, I'd urge you to take pride that the Celtics beat some pretty good teams, and that they beat them on the road.

So where do I start? I can't possibly discuss all that, so how am I going to even begin to talk about everything that's gone on with the Celtics since I had to start my self-imposed studious lockdown?

Oh well, I guess I just won't talk about any of it. After all, I still need to catch up on a whole lot of sleep.

Celtics look to extend winning streak to nine games by beating Wizards

There are some things in life that are certainties:  The sun will rise in the morning, the Los Angeles Clippers will suck, and Greg Oden will get hurt.  Oh yeah, and the Washington Wizards will woefully underachieve.

Every year, it seems, the Wizards are a trendy pick to rise near the top of the Eastern Conference.  A few years ago, when Gilbert Arenas was coming into his own and it was easy to be wow'ed by the potential of the Arenas-Antawn Jamison-Caron Butler trio, it was acceptable for people to be enticed by the potential of a young, exciting team. 

But it's now, what?, five or six years later, and it should be clear to anyone and everyone that they will never fulfill their potential.  For whatever reason, the Wizards seem destined to continue to fall short of expectations, year after year.  Whether it be because they don't play defense, rely on too many shoot-first players, never stay healthy, or have never rounded out their roster with reliable role players, the Wizards never, ever live up to people's preseason prognostications.

This season, they were supposed to be much improved.  With a "healthy" Gilbert Arenas in tow and Mike Miller and Randy Foye to add depth, the Wiz were supposed to be the league's most-improved team, and they were supposed to fight for one of the East's top four seeds.  Looking back, it's hard not to laugh about the preseason predictions.  Almost a quarter of the way into the season, the Wizards are 7-12 and look to be lottery-bound.  Meanwhile, they are suffering from the same maladies that have long been the cause of their shortcomings, health, selfishness, and lack of cohesion.

Too bad for the Wizards, the Celtics come into Washington tonight, and bring with them an eight-game winning streak.  The C's have looked unbeatable on the road of late, Kevin Garnett is rounding into form, and Kendrick Perkins all of a sudden looks like one of the league's top center.  All that probably spells trouble for Washington, which, according to Antawn Jamison, has got to "make the ball move, be more aggressive going to the basket - too many jumpers. And defensively we've got to do a better job with dribble penetration." 

On paper, this looks like a mismatch of epic proportions, but that's why they play the games.  Every dog has his day.

Three things to look for in tonight's game
  1. The Celtics frontcourt - It seems like, every game, I say the C's frontcourt should have their way, and that's because most nights it's true.  If the Wiz start Antawn Jamison at power forward, Garnett should punish him down low.  Especially with the way Garnett is playing, he should have a field day on Jamison, never a good defender.
  2. Gilbert Arenas - I'm curious to see how Gilbert decides to play in this game.  It seems like, some games, he decides to be strictly a scorer and, others, he decides to be strictly a passer.  He hasn't been able to find the right balance to where he can keep his teammates involved but still be a scoring assassin.  Plus, I miss him screaming "Hibachi" after big buckets.
  3. Earl Boykins - If you can see him on the t.v. screen, that is.  Boykins is small, but he's a joy for me to watch play basketball.  He's constantly moving, constantly energetic, and somehow finds a way to score despite being a midget.  Also, he bench-presses twice what I do, so I have to say good things about him for fear of getting beat up by someone half my height.

The 'That's what she said' quote of the day

Disclaimer:  If you are in any way "mature", this post won't be for you.  If you are younger than the age of 14, I suggest you close your eyes and move on to the next post.  If you are a woman, a priest, a rabbi, or in any way old-fashioned, I apologize.  If, however, you're like me and tend to appreciate "That's what she said" jokes, potty humor, and have the maturity of a five-year old boy, it might brighten your day.

(One note: I do not search through articles looking for disgusting, obscene quotes.  This was actually emailed to me by a friend.)

Without further ado, let me present to you today's winner of the "That's what she said" quote of the day, Flip Saunders. 

Via the Washington Times:
What you do is, you put wood on people and what you do is wear him out.
In the spirit of Gus Johnson, "Pause."  The article "claims" Saunders was talking about setting screens, but one can never be sure.

As for Gus Johnson, let us one last time share the hilarity of his discrete "pause" of Spike Lee's comment, "I like dick".  (Speaking of Dan Dickau, of course.)  And if there are any Celtics out there, watch out.  The Wizards might set some pretty mean screens tonight.

Semih Erden update not promising

Remember Semih Erden, the final pick in the 2008 NBA draft?  At the time he was drafted, Danny Ainge swore the Celtics had received first-round value from the draft's final pick.  Then he remained stashed overseas, where Celtics fans who didn't completely forget about his existence presumably thought he was developing.  And maybe he is developing, but not at nearly the rate the C's had hoped.
Via Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston:
With Euroleague play in full swing, we checked in on how Erden's doing overseas with his club, Fenerbahce Ulker. According to the league's official website, Erden is averaging 4.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game in seven appearances (three starts). Erden's reached double figures just once this season, connecting on 5 of 7 shots overall for 12 points in a win over Zalgiris on Nov. 25.

A game-by-game glance at Erden's key stats during the Euroleague season:

Oct. 21, 2009 - Regal Barcelona - 3 points, 3 rebounds
Oct. 28, 2009 - Asvel Basket - 6 point, 5 rebounds
Nov. 4, 2009 - Cibona - 2 points, 6 rebounds
Nov. 11, 2009 - Montepaschi Siena - 7 points, 2 rebounds
Nov. 25, 2009 - Zalgiris - 12 points, 6 rebounds
Dec. 3, 2009 - Regal Barcelona - 0 points, 3 rebounds
Dec. 9, 2009 - Asvel Basket - 2 points, 7 rebounds
As you can see, Erden isn't exactly tearing the Euroleague apart.  In fact, from what the stats say at least, he's kind of like the Euroleague's Darko Milicic.  (In case you didn't know, not exactly a good thing.) 

Maybe Ainge was blowing smoke up our asses when he told us Erden had first-round value, or maybe Erden just hasn't panned out, but -- at any rate -- Erden is a 23-year old who hasn't shown much of a pulse this far into his career.

Wizards struggling to reach preseason expectations

Remember at the beginning of the season, when everyone was drinking the Washington Wizards kool-aid?  Some people, experts even, actually thought the Wizards might be a contender; In its preseason power rankings, The Sporting News rated Washington seventh in the entire NBA, and I saw it mentioned in some respected online publication (I forget which one it was) that the Wizards actually had the best bench in the entire NBA.  Uhh, guys, just slow down.  Take a few deep breaths, and you would have remembered that Washington has never been a contending team, even when they were healthy.  How were they going to all of a sudden become a contender just because Gilbert Arenas was back and -- maybe, somewhat, almost -- healthy?  Did people really think acquiring Mike Miller was going to put them over the top?

If you think I'm just reacting to recent developments, basing my judgments on the Wizards 7-12 start rather than how I felt before the season, read what I wrote before the season about that seventh spot in the power rankings:
Yes, seventh. As in, higher than they rate the Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets. When are people going to stop overrating Washington? Even when their quasi-Big Three has been healthy, they have never been a true contender. Add to that the fickleness of their health and you get a team that will be closer to missing the playoffs than to the cream of the crop. A healthy Gilbert Arenas won’t suddenly make a 19-63 team into the 7th best team in the league, or even a top-four team in the East. It’s just not happening.
How can anyone be surprised that bad chemistry and early-season issues have been a problem for this team?  Those have always been problems of this Wizards crew, so why in the world would it stop now?

Somehow, people overlooked the fact that Washington has always had injury issues, and judged them as if they would be healthy and at full strength all season.  At some point, though, you have to just realize that certain players aren't meant to withstand the physical pressures of an 82-game season.  Certain bodies are far more prone to breaking down than others, and the Wizards are a team filled with players who are incapable of staying healthy for an extended period of time.  It's just the fact of the matter.

Still, some Wizards are surprised by the bad start (via the Washington Post):

Brendan Haywood said the Wizards' performance this season has been perplexing, regardless of the circumstances. "Are we surprised we're 7-12? Yes. Even with Antawn out, I thought we'd be 12-7, maybe a little better. It comes down to us, man. It's nothing that Flip's doing. It's executing and taking what we do in practice and applying it to game plans correctly."

Saunders said he thought that the Wizards "are beaten up a little bit" from winning just 19 games last season, with Arenas and Haywood sidelined with injuries most of the year. He is trying to help the team break some bad habits. "I looked at the games last year, and in a lot of games, they were inventing ways to lose at times, too. So I'm not totally surprised, no," he said. "But it's one of those things we have to overcome in order to get better and better."
In my eyes, nobody -- not even the players on the team -- should be surprised by the injuries or the slow start.  In the Arenas era, the Wizards have always had a lot of talent, but have never won more than 45 games in a single season.  They have never been a contender, not by any sense of the imagination.

Why did anyone ever think this year might be different?

Rajon Rondo, mathematical genius?

"My boy's wicked smahhtt."

I bet you thought I was quoting Good Will Hunting, right?  Well, uhh, I was, but I also could have been talking about Rajon Rondo (Via Mark Murphy's piece in the Herald):
Rajon Rondo was the smartest kid in math class as a high school freshman, and the problem was that he knew it.

“He never used to bring his book to class or take any notes,” said Doug Bibby, Rondo’s freshman geometry teacher and, coincidentally, also his basketball coach for the three years he spent at Eastern High School in Louisville, Ky. “There were quite a few times when I gave out a problem for the class to work on, and he would just blurt out the answer. I would kind of get (ticked) because I thought he was just being an (expletive).”

Rondo often slept.

“I’d wake up, and I was able to ace my tests,” said Rondo. “(Bibby) never understood that. He was frustrated, because I’d be asleep in class. I’d be in the back going to sleep, wake up and ace the test. I’d been doing this since seventh grade.”

There are few people now who Bibby holds in such esteem, but he still sounds upset. Rondo, who admittedly has such a mind for numbers that he can do equations off the top of his head, enjoyed studying his older brother William’s math assignments. Rondo was secretly engrossed in subjects like trigonometry and finite math while his classmates were poring over simple algebra and geometry.
So while you thought Rondo was smart because he can run like the wind, has terrific court vision, and can jump like he lives on a trampoline, it's really just that he knows the angles.  Well, that, and all those other things I just discussed. 

I bet you didn't know Rondo was the next Will Hunting, did ya? 

Anyways, I would keep writing about Rondo's intelligence, but I've got to go see about a girl.  While I do that, check out the rest of Murphy's article.  It's a good read.

The Morning Walkthrough: Ray Allen closing in on exclusive 20,000 point club

The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn't mean we have to.  Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day.

Gary Washburn, Boston Globe - There were doubts outside the organization as to whether Allen would be the same player following the surgeries.  One NBA title and 3,032 points later, Allen is on the verge of an exclusive club. Of the 36 players who have reached 20,000 points in the NBA/ABA, 26 are in the Hall of Fame, and seven of the other 10 are not yet eligible for induction.  Allen, who is in his 14th NBA season, attended September’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Springfield, soaking in the atmosphere and thinking of the possibility of his inclusion someday.  “It’s one of those moments where you just always feel vindication for everything you’ve ever done,’’ he said. “All the people that said no you can’t or put something negative in your life and you turned around and made it positive. It’s always something that’s been reiterated to me that I have always been on the right path.

Red's Army - The assist came on a play where Tony has, in the past, made a bad decision.  Instead of forcing a shot or putting his head down and either dribbling it off his foot or bowling someone over, he made the extra pass.  Am I reaching a bit to praise Tony Allen?  Probably.  Am I trying to convince myself that he might be able to hold the fort for the next two months until Marquis Daniels comes back?  Maybe.  Am I being lazy by resorting to the "ask your self a question and then answer it" cliche so you can get to your main point.  Definitely.

Jeff Clark, CelticsBlog - You don't replace Marquis with one player because this year's edition of the Celtics is build a lot like a Rubik's Cube.  To move one piece, you have to move two others with it.  Then you might have to move several more pieces around before you finally get the desired result (and you are still far from being done).  Headed into the offseason, the Celtics had 3 priorities.  Get help in the frontcourt, get a backup wing, and bring in someone to help with bringing the ball up court.  Sheed took care of the first priority and Daniels was supposed to take care of the next two.  Now we've got some pieces to shift around.

Mark Murphy, Boston Herald -  Coach Doc Rivers will now be hard-pressed to duplicate the contributions of one of the most uniquely talented players in his lineup.  The second unit had come to thrive on Daniels’ playmaking, which often found him directing the offense in Rondo’s absence.  As his play deteriorated from the injury, the second unit clearly suffered, according to the Celtics coach.  “I think it’s affected Eddie (House), because earlier in the year, and especially in preseason, Eddie was getting great shots off of Marquis passes,” Rivers said Tuesday night. “Now (Daniels) doesn’t have the ability to pass and I think that affects Eddie.”

Tom Halzack, Celtics Central - With 13 symphonic assists, the Bucks game is as good an example as you will find to see how far Rondo has come. And he added his scoring at the most important time, with a few made jump shots, and made foul shots, both of which have been absent for most of the season.  That it happened against a rookie point guard and a team that isn’t known for strong inside players, I’ll grant you.  But without a special defensive strategy devised to just to stop Rondo, he will get into the interior defenses of any team. Yes, he will have some trouble against talented interior length. The good thing is that Rajon isn’t the only willing passer on the team.  The team relies more and more on Rajon Rondo’s ability to conduct the offense. But Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett are all good facilitators in the offense, too.  It’s an ubuntu world.

Throwing some dimes: What to do with 'Quisy's minutes?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I want to write more in-depth about what will happen to Marquis Daniels' minutes, I really do. But the thought of trying to discuss the possibility of Tony Allen being in the regular rotation makes me shudder in fear. So, instead, I'll just hand it off to the rest of the Celtics blogosphere, and their thoughts on the situation.

First, Red's Army does a rundown of the injury and how it affects everyone in the lineup. Here's what they had to say about Tony Allen:

He's the first choice to get more minutes. He can spell both Ray and Paul and in case of emergency, he can dribble the ball up court with his knuckles and run the point. Defensively, especially in man-to-man situations, Tony is an upgrade over Daniels. However, while Marquis was a steady player, Allen has ups-and-downs like no other.
Then, Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston offers his take on the situation, saying the Celtics need to finally address their backup point guard issues:
Maybe it's time to ask Tyronn Lue if he's certain he's played his last basketball. The 32-year-old Lue, brought in to be the Celtics Director of Basketball Development in late October, has shown he's still got plenty of talent left in him when he works out with the team in practice or before games.

Heck, Lue is only five months older than Paul Pierce. He averaged 8.5 points and 3.1 assists over an 11-year career.

About the only problem we see is that Lue's familiar No. 10 is retired in Boston. Maybe he could sweet-talk Jo Jo White into pulling it down from the rafters for the final 60 games of the 2009-10 season.

Finally, Brian Robb of Celtics Hub discusses his idea that Rajon Rondo is better off playing some minutes with the second unit, to help offset the loss of Daniels' ball-handling abilities:
With Rondo playing with the 2nd unit, setting the tone and getting out in transition, the Celtics have a better opportunity to create easier buckets for themselves, instead of over-relying on Pierce and Ray Allen to jumpstart the offense. It also keeps the ball out of the hands of Eddie House more, which allows him to be at his most dangerous on the floor.

So that rant went longer than expected but my point is essentially clear: I expect the trends from last night to continue as far as Rondo playing with the 2nd unit. Rondo is only playing 33 minutes a game at this point, so he can handle the uptick in minutes better than Ray and Pierce can. He has set the tone for this offense all year long, and it’s wise to incorporate that into the 2nd unit rather than let it philander without a true point in the lineup.
My thoughts? I don't think Tyronn Lue is the answer. He couldn't even play minutes ahead of Anthony Johnson last year, remember? There's a reason he was signed as the Director of Basketball Development rather than a player, and that reason is that he's washed up.

Tony Allen isn't the answer, either, and I don't like playing Paul Pierce or Ray Allen more minutes. I'd like to see Billy Walker called up to finally get his chance to play some meaningful minutes, but my gut tells me that won't happen.

My gut tells me were going to be seeing a lot of Tony Motherf---ing Allen.

Doc Rivers: Kendrick Perkins is Celtics' best defender

If you're like me, you've watched Kendrick Perkins grow up and always loved his propensity for doing the little things, for sacrificing his own individual glory for the good of his team.  I always appreciated this about Perk, but I also thought that willingness to do the "nitty-gritty" aspects of the game would keep him from getting the recognition he deserves.

Well, don't look now, but Perk is starting to get a lot of recognition, first within the Boston media, and now with Sports Illustrated.  He's improved every part of his game; his post play, his defense, his rebounding, and is now getting love from all angles

Doc Rivers even called Perkins the Celtics' best defender, an enormous feat considering he plays in the same frontcourt as Kevin Garnett.

Via SI's Britt Robson:
Unlike most players, Perkins doesn't use a forearm when guarding opponents who operate with their backs to the basket. "If you use the forearm, you don't have enough balance when they spin or fade away," he said. Instead, he uses hands for sensory information; the outside hand placed on an opponents' tailbone to determine where he's going (and, if possible, to guide him), while the inside hand stabs for steals.

Along with producing studier balance, this approach enables Perkins to provide resistance with an unyielding chest and trunk as the hands give way. It's a classic, albeit increasingly rare, style of bump-and-grind, low-post defense.

But Boston coach Doc Rivers cherishes Perkins' defense as much for his brains as his brawn. "[Assistant head coach] Tom [Thibodeau] does a terrific job getting our guys to communicate, but at the end of the day, Kevin and Perk are seeing things before they happen; they have such high basketball IQs and adjust to all the wrinkles," Rivers said. "The other thing that has happened to Perk to make him better is his focus. He accepts who he is and knows that his biggest value to the team is being our best defender."
"Our best defender."  Just let that sink in for a second.  Did you ever think Perkins would become our best defender, back when he was an overweight, clumsy big man straight out of high school?  I can't say I did.

But he deserves Doc's accolades, and has become an incredibly valuable player for the Celtics, to the point he is now being mentioned in some venues as a possible All-Star.  (If you want to vote for Perk to become an All-Star, click here.)
Perk is one of the few centers in the league who can handle just about any post player without a double team.  He's physical, moves his feet well, and alters a lot of shots he doesn't block.
Conratulations, Perk, you earned it.  Just do a better job guarding Andrew Bogut next time, huh?

Tim Thomas spews anti-gay slurs, may or may not have hit woman with chair

Have you ever been to Denny's at about 3:00 in the morning?  I don't know about you, but I have.  It's a great spot for a little drunken grub, for cheap food you couldn't possibly stomach if you were sober.  Whenever I go to Denny's, I'm as happy as can be:  I sit down, chat with my buddies, and order a Grand Slamwich or two.  I may be slurring my words, but I'm not making slurs about gay people.

Well, that's where Tim Thomas and I are different.  (Well, that, and that fact that I actually try when I play basketball.)  According to the Dallas News, Tim Thomas set off a melee with "anti-gay epithets" at 3:00 a.m. in a Denny's restaurant:
[Damien Pettie] said that when he and his friends passed by Thomas’ table and he addressed the player by saying, “What’s up?” Thomas responded that that he didn’t talk to “faggots.” The police report also quoted Pettie as saying Thomas used that term.

Pettie told The News he later passed Thomas’ table again, and that Thomas made another remark derogatory remark about gays.“I asked one of the guys, ‘What the hell did you say?’ ’’ Pettie said. “As Tim continued to instigate the situation, one of the guys hit me in my mouth. Another one of his friends hit me. They pushed me down onto a table.”

Pettie says he picked up a chair to defend himself. One of the men who hit him in the face then picked up a chair and threw it, he said. Pettie said he caught the chair, but not before it Kissick.

He said Thomas then yelled out that the police had been called and that it was time to leave.
Whether it was Thomas who threw the chair (at a 65-year old woman celebrating her birthday) remains to be seen:
A man identified as Thomas threw a chair that struck Moya Kissick, striking her in her left side.

Thomas and his group then left the restaurant before police arrived.

Pettie told The Dallas Morning News that someone else -- not Thomas -- threw the chair.
To me, the question isn't whether Tim Thomas threw a chair.  The question is, why was somebody celebrating her 65th birthday at Denny's?  Don't you think she could have found a better spot to celebrate? 

I hope and pray that when I turn 65, I'm not celebrating at Denny's. 

I would make another joke about Tim Thomas not living up to his potential but, you see, then I'd have to watch my back for the ensuing flying chair.  So I'll just leave you with one last question:  What kind of man throws a chair?

Boston Celtics discuss Tim Donaghy's allegations

Tim Donaghy is coming at the NBA hard with allegations of a crooked referree corps that throws games, influences otucomes, and holds grudges against certain players and coaches.  He's trying to take the league down with him, all so he can get a little bit of money through selling his tell-all book. 

Should he be trusted?  I don't think so.  How can you trust a man with his back against the wall, who has proven to be a snake, a thief and a liar, who is clearly trying to gain whatever monetary profits he can off his immoral decision to bet NBA games?  I just don't think he holds any credibility at all, or that we can trust a single word that come out of his mouth.

At the same time, I'm positive some of the things he will say, has said, are true.  Just like in any other profession, I'm sure there are some unethical NBA referrees, and I'm sure some guys do hold grudges, and other guys have probably bet on games.  The only problem is, we don't know which parts of Donaghy's stories are bullshit and which parts are real.  We can't trust a single word coming out of his mouth, but some of it has to be true, right?

Rasheed Wallace thinks so (via the Herald):
Rasheed Wallace said tonight he believes the Tim Donaghy scandal will eventually get deeper. He predicted a major problem for the NBA when all the facts come to light.

“I always said to myself and had the thing that there’s no way that the things that he did he could do them by himself,” Wallace said. “I always said that. It’s virtually impossible. The things that he’s been accused of, there’s no way, to me, in my opinion, he could have done those things by himself.”
I'm with 'Sheed.  How could he do these things by himself?  And, if he did do it by himself, don't you think there's some other scummy ref out there who did the same things?

But I'm also with Doc, who doesn't think he can trust Donaghy at all (via ESPNBoston):
"My buddy," Rivers joked when Donaghy's name was brought up by reporters before Tuesday's game against the Bucks. Asked if he had heard Donaghy's comments about Rivers trying to persuade refs, Rivers challenged the credibility of someone who admitted to betting on NBA games.

"I've been trying to get on younger players for a long time and persuade them to do things as well," said Rivers. "I don't know, I'm so sick of that guy right now, I really am, for our league. I love our league, and I hate what's going on, that we're giving a guy like him credibility."
It's a tough line to straddle.  Clearly, what Donaghy says probably has some merit but, at this point, I probably wouldn't even trust him if he told me Tony Allen has a low basketball IQ.  That's how much credibility he's lost.

Ray Allen has a more balanced view on things, saying that while Donaghy makes some points that might be valid, it's hard to trust a man in his position, a man with his reputation (via the Globe):
In the wake of the Tim Donaghy scandal and its recent fallout, Ray Allen said NBA referees need to be held accountable for their actions, but he stopped short of saying he believed everything Donaghy had to say to the media in recent days.

"He made a very strong case," said Allen. "I can't say that he would do anything to jeopardize -- he went to prison, it's hard to say whether or not he would lie or make something up of that nature. "
So what is the real deal?  What is true about Donaghy's allegations, and what isn't? 

I just don't know, and I don't know if we'll ever really find out.  I still find it hard to give weight to his words, but it's also tough to discount them.

We could see a lot of Tony Allen over the next 6-8 weeks

Remember a week or two ago, when I wrote about Tony Allen maybe being the single most hated player in Celtics history, a player so frustrating because he still has all the talent to succeed, but couldn't put together a stretch of smart basketball to save his life?

Well, get ready for 6-8 weeks of him.  According to the Herald:
Marquis Daniels will be out for 6-8 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left thumb.

The Celtics swingman missed last night’s game against the Bucks because of the injury and had undergone an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.

Last night Celts coach Doc Rivers said the Daniels injury has been affecting the entire second team.

It sure has, and will continue to over the next 6-8 weeks.  Daniels was signed for his versatility, high basketball IQ, and ability to play point guard.  Tony Allen, Daniels' likely replacement, has very little versatility, is probably the single dumbest basketball player in the history of western civilization, and, if forced into some PG minutes, certainly isn't going to make anyone forget about Bob Cousy. 

I would much rather see J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker, or even Marty Conlon pick up Daniels' playing time, but what can you do?

The only way TA was going to get playing time was if A) Marquis got hurt, B) Marquis somehow, inexplicably died, or C) Doc Rivers developed a terrible case of alcoholism.  Unfortunately, option A) has happened only 21 games into the season.  On the bright side, though, at least it isn't the playoffs.

On the negative side...  Well, we're now looking at 6-8 weeks of Tony Allen.  Isn't that negative enough?  Somebody, please get me a bottle of Advil, and maybe a few shots of Jack Daniels.

Glen Davis in shape, could be ready by Dec. 27 road trip

Remember that time when Glen Davis got a terrific idea?  You know, when he decided it'd be awesome to go out with his old college buddy until the wee hours of the morning, then let his drunk college buddy drive both him and his fiance home?

Yeah, that one!  The one where he then proceeded to punch his buddy in the face -- while he was driving the car! -- and in the process hurt himself, rather than his drunken buddy.  Well, he's finally just about healed (via the Globe):
Glen “Big Baby’’ Davis could return for the Celtics’ West Coast trip, which starts with a Dec. 27 game against the Clippers in Los Angeles, Rivers said before last night’s game.
Big Baby hasn't been playing, but he's apparently been keeping in great shape. (Okay... I meant "better" shape.):
“I’ve been just waiting,’’ Davis said. “Everything is fine. I’m just looking forward to getting back as soon as possible.

“If it was up to me, I’d play tomorrow. I haven’t played in a month. I’m in shape, I’ve been in shape the whole year. It feels weird, I haven’t used [the hand] in a while. But I’ve been making sure I stay in shape and go to rehab and all the stuff I need to do - running and more running; keep the weight down, avoid the holidays and all the good food, stay away [from] soda pops. I know I feel light. Don’t you know when you feel heavy? I feel good.’’

Davis’s recovery is on schedule.

“When I get [the cast] off, it means the bone healed,’’ Davis said. “But it’s all about the ligament.’’
My favorite part of that quote: "Don't you know when you feel heavy?"  Unfortunately, I've learned the answer to that one the hard way, while gaining the first gut of my life with a couple recent months of inactivity.  Yes, yes, you do know when you feel heavy.  You see it every time you look in the mirror, and you feel it every time you begin to exercise.

But, Big Baby, you should know that a lot better than I do. 

The Morning Walkthrough: Celtics not as good as two years ago?

The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn't mean we have to.  Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day. 

Bob Ryan, Boston Globe - The Celtics cannot possibly be as good as they were two years ago. How could they be? The key players weren’t exactly athletically young then, and they’re all two years older now. Factoring Wallace into the mix, four of their first six players are 32 or older, and the seventh guy, Eddie House, is 31. Fortunately, they have a powerful young (and ever-improving) big man in Kendrick Perkins and a dynamic young point guard in Rajon Rondo, but they ultimately depend on older players to be as good as players their age can be, and that places a tremendous responsibility on the coach to manage team affairs as efficiently and intelligently as possible.

Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston - "I like taking shots, it's just when you play with guys that are great at what they do, it's my job to distribute the ball," said Rondo. "I'm a pass-first guard. Probably pass second and shoot third. That's how I play. I'd rather get an assist than score with the ball. I shoot when I have to or I feel the need to. Other than that, I'm fine with getting Ray [Allen] the ball, Paul Pierce, or Eddie House. I've got great shooters."  But as Rondo has shown at numerous times this season, he's capable of taking a game over offensively, and not just by distributing the ball.  Take Tuesday, for example. Not only did Rondo score all of his points in the pivotal fourth quarter (the game was tied at 71 after three), but he also registered three assists, which means he was directly involved in 19 of the Celtics' 27 points in that period.  While much of the pregame chatter was about Milwaukee rookie Brandon Jennings (17 points on 7-of-19 shooting) and his prolific offensive numbers, Rondo stole the show.

A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE - After being scoreless through three quarters, Rondo seemed to channel his inner Paul Pierce in the fourth, looking to not just penetrate the lane but also finish around the basket.  There appeared to be little Jennings could do, even though the rookie has already proven to have the speed to hold his own with most NBA playmakers.  But there's speed, and then there's Rondo's  jet-booster-pack-in-the-sole-of-his-sneakers speed.  He was blowing past Jennings off the dribble and into the lane all night, but frequently passed on potential lay-ups to instead kick it out to a teammate for an easy jumper or possible lay-up.  That all changed in the fourth quarter.  That's when Rondo became a scorer, not only from the field but also from the free throw line.

Zach Lowe, Celtics Hub - Within two minutes of entering the game for the first time, TA bullied Carlos Delfino under the rim, received the ball, fooled Delfino with a shot fake and drew a shooting foul.  And in that moment, I was thinking: “Yes! This is exactly what the C’s need from TA. The team doesn’t draw a lot of fouls, and that’s one thing he’s good at and oh my freaking god he’s about to convert this into an And-1!”  And then he missed a relatively clean lay-up. Didn’t even graze the rim. Then he missed both free throws.  Throw in a classic TA charging foul on an out-of-control fast break drive, and I officially ran through a season’s worth of the Seven Stages of TA in six minutes of playing time.

Frank Madden, BrewHoop - Unfortunately, in crunch time the Celtics simply played like the Celtics.  And the Bucks, well, they played like you'd expect the Bucks to play on the road against the league's best defense.  After Delfino found Ilyasova surprisingly open for a layup to tie it at 86, Rondo (40% ft shooting coming in) hit a pair of freebies and stuck a mid-range jumper shortly thereafter.  It was the capper on a big quarter for Rondo, who scored all 11 of his points in the decisive period, including 5/7 from the stripe.  Bogut then turned it over on consecutive possessions, and Garnett dumped a righty hook over Ilyasova to extend the Boston to lead to 93-86.  Ballgame.

Jeremy, Bucksketball - Yes, playing hard is great and coming close against the Celtics is fun, but ultimately losing sucks.  While this game wasn’t nearly as frustrating as the Cleveland Blowout last Sunday, it wasn’t very satisfying to see the Bucks put it together when they needed it most.  If they got a stop, they couldn’t get a bucket.  If they got a bucket, they couldn’t get a stop.  Ultimately they blew it over a two and a half minute stretch in the fourth.  The most difficult thing to swallow about this stretch is the Bucks inability to even get a shot up.  Two turnovers by Andrew Bogut and one from Brandon Jennings. That’s the just the strength of the Celtic defense.

Chris Forsberg (again), ESPNBoston - Celtics forward Kevin Garnett put together another brilliant game Tuesday night, scoring a team-high 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting with nine rebounds as Boston topped the Bucks, 98-89, at TD Garden.  And while Garnett, who shot 90.9 percent while connecting on 10 of 11 shots in a win over Oklahoma City on Friday, admitted he's shooting the ball particularly well right now, he's hardly conscious of it.  “Really I’m not even paying attention to my shot," said Garnett. "I just know it feels good. I feel great, I feel a lot more explosive. Everything I’m doing in the course of the offense is nothing sparkly, it's nothing shiny, it's nothing glossy. I’m just going out there trying to get chances to score, opportunities to be effective. I’m trying to take advantage of them. Other than that, my mindset is more defensive than offensive right now. I'm not even thinking about the offensive end, to be honest with you.

Tom Halzack, CelticsBlog - The 4th Quarter was the Difference.  After losing Jennings on a screen on the left side, Rajon drove and scored his first basket of the game with a little jump shot on a beautiful spin move in the paint. That made the score 75-73.  The next time down the floor, the Celtics moved the ball around with Scalabrine passing up a three and driving and kicking out to Sheed for a three that energized the house. Score 78-73.  Jennings drives to make it 78-75, but Pierce kicks it out to Rasheed for another three to make it 81-75.  The Bucks come back to tie it at 86 all on an Ilyasova lay-up, before Charlie Bell fouls Rondo on what Doc Rivers called Hack-a-Rondo.