Friday, November 30, 2012

No Rondo? No Problem!: C's Blaze Way To Gino-Time: 96-78

 
That's right, GreenHeadz -- It was Gino Time at the Boston Garden and the C's pulled it off without Rajon Rondo!

Actually, let me rephrase that: The Celtics pulled it off without Rajon Rondo being on the floor. Because anyone who thinks that the influence of the C's mercurial, magnificent Maestro wasn't felt all over the Garden last night either doesn't know much about the team or wasn't watching the game.

From the opening tip, the vibe given off by the Green -- from the starting five of Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Courtney Lee down to the last man on the bench (welcome back to the NBA, Kris Joseph!) -- was palpable as the team raced out to an immediate lead that seemed to swell with each quarter. The C's left the first quarter leading by 7 points, but by the break, Portland was under water 56-33 and showing no signs of resurfacing.

The Celtics got a big offensive game from Terry (17 points on 7-11 makes) and solid games from Captain Paul Pierce, doing his point-forward routine to the tune of 12 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists; and Kevin Garnett, who tallied 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block and 1 steal in only 22 minutes of action.

But, the night belonged to the other guys...the ones who have been mostly maligned by certain factions of the sports media and hordes of  impatient fans who have seemed not to care (or understand, perhaps) how difficult it is to integrate 10 out of 15 new personalities into a cohesive, championship-driven unit. To a man, this group seemed to relish the challenge of proving the critics wrong and stepping up to carry the slack left by their suspended superstar point guard and the limited minutes (13:47, to be exact) that were extracted from an ailing Chris Wilcox.

Courtney Lee was phenomenal on defense, harassing and humiliating the Blazers while racking up 10 points, 7 boards, 5 assists, and a sticky 3 steals. If Lee was phenomenal on defense, Jeff Green was all-around spectacular scoring a season-high 19 points off the bench on 6-13 shooting and snatching 4 steals and 3 rebounds with 2 assists and a block to complete his "Mean Jeff Green" transformation. Jared Sullinger was a revelation of revolution with 9 active points, 8 muscular boards, 2 assists and 2 steals. Leandro Barbosa joined this merry band of thieves with three steals of his own to go with 9 points. In the end, the Boston bench outscored Portland's subs 41-22.

The C's moved to 9-7 on the season and will now attempt to replicate tonight's effort against the 7-7 Milwaukee Bucks, who are coming off an 85-95 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. It will be interesting to see if either team is affected by their back-to-back obligations.

Box Score

THE BUZZ:

Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Saturday, December 1st, 2012
8:30 pm
@ BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee

C's Ready To Welcome Portland Trailblazers Into Their M.A.S.H. Unit

Well, C's fans...it's like this:

No Rajon Rondo (suspended for two games for...well, you KNOW why...), Chris Wilcox (illness) and Jeff Green (sprained knee) are questionable, and Courtney Lee (twisted wrist) is probable. Darko Milicic? Expected to play roughly about as much he did when he was actually with the team.

The Blazers? Healthy as the day is long.

So, a win for the home team is a no-brainer, right?

Actually, as several of the outlets are speculating, I fully expect the C's to pull this one off. They have everything that one could want (short of a full roster of important players, that is...): low-to-no expectations, a couple of angry veteran superstars, bench players being counted out by mediocre unconvinced basketball "experts," and a nice green rookie not named Green but wearing the green (Kris Joseph) fresh off of his impressive showing in the D-League ready to come in and speak up for himself. Really...what's not to love? Doc must be giddy with excitement about the prospect of watching Kevin Garnett watching Gino on the Jumbotron with the exuberance of a five-year-old.

Seriously, though. This one is a complete crapshoot. The C's can either band together after the "Rumble In The Jungle" two nights ago and man-up with a healthy dose of New England Patriots "It's us against the world" miracle tonic, or they can look at the bench and see what's beginning to resemble a M.A.S.H. unit with one empty chair (be on the lookout for Clint Eastwood!) where their star point guard and tiny enforcer used to sit and see instead a big-fat excuse ready to be called into action.

Ball tips at 7:30 tonight, folks...let's see which team is ready to play.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NBA Sends Rondo To His (Trainer's) Room For Two Games Following Krumphries Dust-Up


So there we have it.

According to Danny Ainge on WEEI Radio, Rajon Rondo has been handed a 2-game suspension for taking Brooklyn Net Kris Humphries (heretofore to be forever known merely as "Krumphries.") to the mat in last night's contest between the Celtics and Nets.

For those who may have missed it (welcome back from your brief coma!), at the end of the second quarter in last night's game, Krumphries gave an extra slap to Kevin Garnett's shoulder on the way down after his initial foul knocked KG off of his feet. Ragin' Rondo took umbrage to the Keeping Up With The Kardashians castoff and his actions against one of his Celtic mates, and some moderate measurement of Hell broke loose under the basket. 

See?

Anyway, Rondo was quite fortunate to recieve only two games off to "think about what he did" (which, apparrently, he already has and unapologetically believes that it was justified) before being eligible to come back against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, December 5th, bypassing tomorrow's game against the Portland Trailblazers and the third game this season against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, December 1st.

Without getting too deeply into the topic of whether Ragin' Rondo's wrestling match with Killer Krumphries was a heroic reaction expressed by a loyal teammate or a boneheaded action taken at the expense of the greater good, I will use this analogy to describe the bottom line here: When you are the pilot of an airplane, you can't just jump out of the plane anytime you get the urge without killing all of your passengers. Whether you agree with Rondo's actions and believe that the Nets had it coming to them since the first meeting between these two teams, or you feel that he put himself above the team and what it is trying to accomplish, we all know that this team is better with Rondo than without him.

Now, since it was WEEI that broke the news of the NBA's decision about Rondo's suspension, it is only fitting that the rest of the links go to their coverage of the Rumble In The Jungle from last night. Interesting stuff there, including KG calling out Krumphries, what a (insert insult about giant crybabies who get taken down by little point guards here) Krumphries is for posting his battle scars on Twitter, and the listing of Wilcox and Green as day-to-day for the Portland tilt following an illness and knee injury respectively.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

C's Net Loss Is Brooklyn's Gain: Boston Goes Down (Mostly) Wihout A Fight -- 95-83

See? Old 38-year old guys really can still make a huge impact on their teams. Too bad that old guy was Jerry Stackhouse (17 points on 5-6 shooting on wide open, "yodel-ay-hee-hoo" threes).

Ughhhh....where to begin on this one?

The C's lost their cool, lost their defensive drive and lost the game...simple as that.

Let's start with the most obvious thing first: Rajon Rondo got ejected for fighting Kris Humphries at the end of the second quarter. End of streak, end of game. And, end of games for the foreseeable future for Rondo and possibly Garnett and Pierce (if the NBA commissioners review the full tape of the brawl that ensued after Rondo went after Mr. Kardashian.

The Celtics were getting out-rebounded and out-hustled before the last 30 seconds of the half, when Garnett, heading to the hoop for a shot instead took a shot from Humphries as he was already airborne, touching a raw nerve with Rondo, who forearmed Humphries in the chest and clawed him in the face as the melee spilled into the stands. Players from both sides rushed under the basket and punches appeared to be thrown by Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who may have connected with Gerald Wallace before Brandon Bass pulled him away. Rondo, Humphries and Wallace were ejected. Unfortunately, along with Rondo and his streak went any semblance of offensive or defensive cohesion.


Hats off to Kevin Garnett who ended the game with 16 points and 10 boards, and Paul Pierce, who made up for a funky night from the free-throw line (just 6-11 on freebies) by filling the breach at point guard with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists, though he took 14 shots and made only 3 from the floor. Bass had 16 points but only managed 3 rebounds, and Jason Terry was the only other Celtic in double-digits, but shot 3-8 from the floor to get there.

Oh, yes...and hats off to the new-look Nets, too. They thoroughly earned this one and look to be a true contender, for the Atlantic Division Title at the least. Note to the C's: you might want to stop all of the "Beat Miami" chatter and start looking to just start playing solid defense and boxing out on your respective assignments. The C's are still a team on the rise with the talent to win this year, but there is much work to do to get everyone on the same page, both offensively and defensively. Miami looks like a distant mirage at this point.

The inevitable question that will continue echoing through the League and the halls of Boston Garden until proven otherwise is, "Will Rajon Rondo ever mature to the point that he can be counted on when the team really needs him?" His all-but-guaranteed suspension will leave his team in the lurch without a true point guard on the roster, just when it appeared that the Celtics were about to turn a corner with consistent play.

That said, one can be objective and understand his anger and even respect his desire to stand up for his teammates, but the toughest stand he can take is weathering the storm and staying on the floor when his team needs him most.

In the previous post, I mentioned a greasy, grimy rivalry that was growing. How wrong I was. This is now a full-fledged hate-a-thon between these division rivals (remember the Barbosa hanging?), and the only way for the C's to exact revenge is to box out, play" D" and win a damn game against them.

There won't be much of a break ahead...if the Celtics think the Portland Trailblazers are going to be any easier on the boards, they might as well just start the game with a brawl and let the entire team sit it out until Rondo and Bradley come back.

Box Score (if you dare)

THE BUZZ:

Boston Celtics vs. Portland Trailblazers
Friday, November 30th, 2012
7:30 pm
@ Boston Garden

Boston Celtics Dancers Strike Pose For Charity


I know, I know…it’s shameless. And, I don’t want to turn this blog into sporn (sport porn, naturally!), but I saw this bit in the Boston Globe and I thought to myself, “Self…is this something that you would want to read about on one of the other blogs of note that you frequent?” and my self answered, “well…I wouldn’t immediately close the box and go to another site, anyway...and plus – you haven’t even thought of what you're going to post today, which I find to be very irresponsible…it’s high time that you start taking things seriously in our life…” so, I interrupted and said to myself, “Self, unless you want to go right, here right now, I suggest you tighten your chops and let me finish writing this post!”

Look, the bottom line is that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the calendars go toward charity, and I’m all about helping others.

Which charity, you ask? Well, only the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation, of course. You know…
Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation Mission Statement

The mission of the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation is to extend the reach of the Celtics championship legacy into our community. The Shamrock Foundation benefits our children directly, through programs that provide education & support. The Shamrock Foundation also partners with community based organizations that provide healthcare, shelter & vital services for children in need.

So, hate me if you will…send me letters (actually, send me emails and posts…seriously, you guys who have been visiting the site have been reeeeeallly quiet), but there are children in need and there is charity to be given!

THE BUZZ:

The C's are taking on the Brooklyn Nets tonight at 7:30 in a grudge match so greasy and grimy that it's just dripping with the oil of vengeance! Or, you can look at it another way...game # 14 in an 82-game season.

I am, as I am sure the rest of you are, curious to see what the home team can do against Old New Jersey now that we have our conductor back in the fold. In their previous meeting down in the House That Jay-Z Built, the C's were without the services of El Maestro Rajon Rondo, who sat with a sore ankle, and the Nets prevailed in a close game: 102-107.

Now, with both teams on a decidedly upward trajectory, it will be interesting to see what a little home cooking and a LOT of Rondo can do.

Oh, and by the way...you MIGHT want to dust off the ol' Tivo so you can have a record of tonight's game -- should the streak continue against the Nets, it will put Rondo alone in second place for most consecutive double-digit assist games, behind only the legendary, incendiary Magic Johnson.

LET'S GO C's!!!

Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012
7:30 pm
@ Boston Garden

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Celtics To The 10th Power: C's Unify Position In Weekly Rankings


The Celtics have arrived at the 10th Floor of the 2012 NBA Heirarchy Towers, and the elevator may be heading straight down with a bullet.

As reported by our colleagues over at Boston.SB Nation.com, the Boston Celtics now rank in the top ten across the board in this week's power rankings by the NBA (poll), ESPN, FoxSports.com and Boston SB Nation themselves.

The C's 10th place ranking seems to be about the only team anyone can agree on, with the battle for first place being fought between the Grizzlies and the Heat, and all the other positions loose and up for grabs depending on where you look.

The folks over at Hoopsworld have also joined this exercise in community unity and ranked the C's at #10, though if not for the distasteful drubbing they took at the hands (wheels?) of the Men From Motown, they might have ranked them higher.

In any case, all signs point to a team on the rise -- a two-game win streak that featured several gut-check "this is where we learn a little sumpin' 'bout ourselves as a team" moments, a win against last year's #2 team in the NBA, and a large group of newcomers starting to meld with the established veterans to begin feeling more comforatable and ready to accept the team's concepts, according to the most recent post on Boston.com's "CelticsBlog:"    
 
Celtics Coach Doc Rivers:

"Teams take steps," said Rivers. "To win titles you take a lot of steps. The first step for us was buying in, and I think we've done that. But now we've got to get it right. Second thing is pick and roll. It never stops. I would love to find that team where there's perfection, and you show up and say, 'Guys, we have nothing to practice on.'"

There's a bunch more from CelticsBlog about preparing for tomorrow's contest against the Brooklyn Nets, defending the pick and roll, and Kris Joseph's return to the C's with his new take on being a part-time Celtic and full-time Red Claw.

Monday, November 26, 2012

C's Pull Rabbit Out Of A Hat, Vanquish Magic In Overtime: 116-110


The Boston Mixed-Bags? How about the Boston Boxed-Chocolates?

Seriously, though, you really never do know what you're gonna get when it comes to the C's these days as they continue to work on establishing consistency in this toddler stage that is the NBA season. They've been putting it together more often than not lately, but on occasion (like in the 3rd quarter against the Orlando Magic!), they'll go into Space Jam "an alien stole my powers" mode. Again, this is to be expected as they incorporate 10 new players (including rookie Jared Sullinger) into the mix of a championship-or-bust squad, but it can be...shall we say, interesting...to watch at times.

Oh, they started things off well enough taking a 28-22 lead after one and staying ahead by 4 entering half-time. The third quarter, though…the third quarter…let’s just be charitable and say that the C’s must be fans of the AMC show “The Walking Dead,” because the group that took the floor for the
3rd quarter looked like our C’s
portraying the zombified versions of their former selves. Spinning through the undead-Celtics like they were MBTA turnstiles, the Magic went 13 for 17 from the floor – led by hot potato Jameer Nelson (20 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists for the game), who turned the C’s defenders into giant orange traffic cones for use in his own personal obstacle course. Nelson would finish the game scoring 17 points between the 3rd and 4th quarters and the overtime period, and the Magic would head into the 4th quarter up 2.
 
No matter, though. The C’s, showing the resilience and willingness to fight that has been a hallmark of the team for the past five years, battled back on the strength of The Tremendous Trio (I’m giving “The Big Three” a night off to rest), who flipped a seven-point Magic lead into a tie at the end of regulation. Kevin Garnett was especially tremendous during that stretch, scoring 8 points in the last five minutes of regulation play. KG led the C’s with a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds while Rajon Rondo not only streaked into a tie with John Stockton for the second-most consecutive double-assist games (16 assists on this night), but he fell just shy of a triple-double with 15 points and 9 rebounds.
 
Paul Pierce, who had yet ANOTHER strong game (23 points, 5 boards), still managed to produce his share of potential “goat” moments not only missing on what could have been the game-winning shot from his preferred spot on the elbow at the top of the key, but he also managed to overcome this…uhm, ahhh…awkward moment in his role as one of the aforementioned orange traffic cones in Nelson’s “All-Star Skills Challenge” workout. That Nelson missed the shot may be one of the only saving graces on what surely will be a point of comedy for The Captain’s teammates and a “Sports Center” favorite this week, at least. In his defense, though, on both plays, you can clearly see his foot slipping on the court before each mishap. 
 
 
In any case, once in the extra period, the Celtics went to work, wrapping the Magic in a defensive blanket and executing down the stretch on offense. Paul Pierce, shaking off any doubt that might have been cast at the end of regulation, hit a clutch three to put the C’s up ahead for good in the overtime, and the Celtics got a tough but satisfying win over a young, active Magic team.

Brandon Bass was beastly, grabbing his own double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Leandro Barbosa was an offensive catalyst, scoring 15 points and Jared Sullinger continues to make Danny Ainge look like a genius with his tantalizing play, this time going for 11 points and 6 rebounds in 19 minutes.

Magician Big Baby Davis tallied 15 points 7 rebounds 3 assists 3 steals against his old team, but he shot just 3-12 from the floor (9-10 on free throws, however); JJ Redick scored 21 on 8-13 shooting; and Aaron Afflalo scored 15 with 7 assists for the Magic cause. Former C's draft pick E'Twaun Moore made 2 from Threeland and hit two freethrows for 8 points.

Box Score

THE BUZZ:

Next Up:

Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012
7:30 pm
@ Boston Garden

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Maine Claws It's Way Back From 17-point Deficit Against Canton Charge Riding The Tail Of Celtic's Joseph: 123-115

Aaaaand, the Red Claws are off and pinching!

The crusty crustaceans from Maine got off to a snappy start to the 2012-13 season, beating the Canton Charge on their home court in Ohio after rallying from a first half 17-point deficit.

Leading the way (surprise, surprise) was Boston Celtic draft pick and Syracuse alum Kris Joseph, who posted a dominant line of 28 points, 8 rebounds 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Celtics co-draftee Fab Melo checked in with 4 blocks to go along with two points in 20 minutes of play. Celtic training camp finalist Micah Downs put up 13 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 steal.

Box Score

Next up, the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants.
Sunday, November 25 at 5:00 pm

You can follow the Claws live on their YouTube Channel Here, and you can download their schedule for the 2012-13 season by clicking this link.

For the official website of the NBADL Maine Red Claws, click here.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Celtics Silence Thunder: Boston Beats Oklahoma 108-100


Okay, maybe it wasn't quite THAT kind of butt-whuppin', but the Green certainly looked like giants and the Thunder's gods seemed merely mortal down the stretch of a frenetic game.

Behind a "you can't handle the Truth" classic performance by Captain Paul Pierce -- 27 points on 8-16 shooting and 4-6 on threes, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 assist -- and an aggressive breakout night from Jeff Green (17 points from 6-11 shooting, 2 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block), the C's turned their previous performance against the San Antonio Spurs on its ear and, this time, they were the team that executed crisply down the stretch, knocking in key shots as their opponents turned the ball over late.

Green led a vicious bench beatdown against the Thunder reserves to the tune of 35 pine-points to 13. While he claimed earlier in the week, and then reiterated after the game, that facing his old team was nothing special, Uncle Jeffy certainly played with the kind of fire that many in the Bloggosphere have been clamoring for, barreling toward the rim with an assortment of powerful, acrobatic contortions. In his post game interview, Green admitted that his climb back to health from last year's open heart surgery has been steep, but that he's beginning to come around. If the JG we saw tonight is any kind of indication of the person we might be seeing on a consistent basis, call the City...we need to start gassing up the Duck Boats, pronto!

In all seriousness, though, Green was tremendous, Pierce was spectacular and Jason Terry was clutch. The Jet scored 16 points on the night shooting an afterburner-hot 6-8 (4 of 6 from Threeland), including a HUGE 3 down the stretch when OKC was attempting its numerous runs, at least once closing to within 3.

Kevin Garnett continued to prove that he remains among the top five (hell, if you said "top three," I don't think anyone would have the cojones to argue with you) power forwards/centers/everythings in the League with 18 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, one steal and complete mastery over the Celtics defensive directive. 

And, the Maestro? Rajon Rondo scored 6 and grabbed 8 rebounds to go with a steal. Oh, yeah...he also orchestrated 16 assists on the night -- a feat that now has him one game shy of tying John Stockton for consecutive games with double-digit assists, and two games short of trailing only three-time MVP and four-time NBA assist leader Magic Johnson for the streak title.

Though they would ultimately fall at the hands of the steadily improving Celtics, OKC stars Kevin Durant (29 points) and Russell Westbrook 26 points, 8 assists, 7 boards, 2 steals and 1 block) did their best to stay the green horde, but to no avail. Defensive menace and rising offensive terror Serge Ibaka contributed 17 points, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks. And, old friend and former Beast Kendrick Perkins? His productive night (9 boards, 5 points, 2 blocks 2 assists, 1 steal) was highlighted by a sequence in which he did his own Magic impression, stripping the ball from Celtic Brandon Bass and leading the break up the court before slipping a sweet dime to Thabo Sefolosha for the lay-in.  



All in all, a really nice win for an ever-improving Celtics team that has been searching for consistency on both ends of the floor.

Box Score

Next up? A date with a Baby and one of the men who helped us land Courtney Lee.

THE BUZZ:

Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic
Sunday, November 25th, 2012
6:00 pm
@ The Amway Center, Orlando, FL

Introducing: GreenHeadz On Red Claws

I can almost see the quizzical looks on the faces of anyone reading this post (granted, that may not amount to more than two or three faces, but I digress...

"Why is this guy wasting his time writing about D-League Basketball when there are a whole slew of rumors about Marcin Gortat heating up and we have the NBA Finals runner-up Oklahoma City Thunder coming to town with our old pal Perk?
 
"Well, first of all, the speculative angle of the "Gortat Is Hot" story has been pretty(*)...well(*)...covered(*). There's nothing more concrete to talk about until we get some actual offers being made at some point, and that doesn't look to happen before December 15th at the earliest.

Secondly, what can you say about OKC coming in to play? They're a great team and the C's are still finding themselves, though they're becoming a pretty competitive bunch by the day. It should be a good contest, provided the Guyz in Green have their respective heads on straight and aren't tripping on the tryptophan from yesterday's family festivities.

The reason that I am introducing the "GreenHeadz on Red Claws" segment is threefold:
 
1- The Celtics have two draftees on the squad (at least for now...Fab Melo may be called back sooner than later for regular minutes with the departure of this year's benchbeast Darko Milicic) and I think, as basketball fans, we might enjoy tracking the progress of two players who may play a significant role on the team in a year or two, if not sooner. Plus, Kris Joseph is pretty entertaining to watch. We also have camp invitee Micah Downs running for the Claws, so there's that.
 
2- I think the NBDL doesn't get as much attention as it should, seeing as how most NBA teams have prospects toiling away in obscurity in the hopes of making it back to the big leagues and earning some valuable playing time on the varsity team.
 
3) I love Crusher, the crustacean mascot of the Maine Red Claws, and I want to use the logo every chance I get!

Seriously, though, the intention is to shed some light on the work that Fab and Kris are doing and track their development while giving an occasional shout out to the League's official minor league outfit. You never know...you could be watching the formative steps of the next baby Stiem-Roller!

Tonight's game will feature the Maine Red Claws against the Canton Charge (of Ohio, I believe...). The game tips off at 7:30 pm and you can watch it live-streamed on youtube here.

To learn more about the Maine Red Claws, visit their home website here, and you can click to download their schedule for the 2012-13 season. And, finally, you can visit the NBADL website here to check in on the other teams that the Claws will be playing throughout the season.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Spurs Give Celtics Splitter Headache -- Boston Falls To San Antonio: 100-112



These two, along with Old Man Duncan made the lives of the Celtics miserable for 48 minutes. Now, we expect The Artist Formerly Known As Mr. Longoria Tony Parker to put his speedy French feet up our collective green @$$es on the regular, and Tim Duncan just keeps coming at us like the cranky, dangerous dinosaur that he is, but Tiago Splitter? Twenty-three points? People all over Brazil must be calling for his hometown of Blumenau to be renamed "Splittsville" after tonight. And just in case you feel like checking his stats for the year to see whether this is a season high, don't bother...it is. He's only averaging 6.7 points on the season, but as we already well know, if you want your season high, just come see the boyz in Beantown!

I am being facetious, of course (well, mostly...consider that Splitter's career high is just three more points than he scored tonight). But, the point is that the C's were absolutely pounded on the boards -- 25-41 with only a single offensive rebound -- and allowed the Spurs to shoot 58.4% (and a ludicrous 50% from behind the arc) to their own 53.2%. The Celtics were also outscored in the paint by a whopping 24 points -- 58-34, leading to even more hue and cry from fans and talking heads alike about the Celtics' desperate need for a rebounding big man.

The truth is, the C's can use another rebounder (or 2 or 3 or...) without a doubt, and there needs to be more effort made to box out and defend, but the game essentially boiled down to execution down the stretch and the confidence that comes with familiarity and trust in one's teammates. The Celtics had critical turnovers in the 4th quarter that the Spurs converted into points, while the C's forced shots and missed bunnies. Bottom line: the C's were in this game for three and a half quarters and nearly stormed all the way back with Rajon Rondo singlehandedly dragging the team to within six in the 4th quarter, scoring the 19 of the last 21 points to finish with 22 and 15 assists and yet another step closer to double-digit assist streak immortality.

Lost in the final score were great shooting nights by Paul Pierce (19 points on 6-11 shooting with an assortment of step-backs and herky-jerky, off-speed fadeaways), Brandon Bass (16 points, 7-10 shooting and six boards), Kevin Garnett (14 points on 7-14 shooting), and Jason Terry with 12 points on 5-9 shooting).

Don't get me wrong: the C's need to address their rebounding problems, but as Doc Rivers said after the game, the Celtics' defense has work to do. The positive? I think they're slowly getting there. Make no mistake about it, the Spurs are a very accomplished team and there's no shame in playing them tight and losing a close one. Lack of boxing out and weak defense? That's another story. In time, though, in time...

Box Score

THE BUZZ:

Boston Celtics vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Friday, November 24th, 2012
7:30 pm
@ Boston Garden

Welcome back, Big Perk!

Who Will Be The Center Of Attention If Darko Days Are Over For The C's?

Over the past few days, a lot of the Celtics blogs and basketball sites have been all atwitter (literally, since the news came via Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter) about the possibility of Darko Milicic leaving the Celtics to be with his ailing mother in Serbia and also to escape the Hell that apparently is the end of the Boston bench.

In leaving the Celtics for Serbia, Darko would also, presumably, find a squad to play on (man’s gotta eat, right?), thus rendering his services to the Celtics null and void for the current season and beyond. While it is understood that the health of his mother would be the primary reason for Darko's return home, he was reportedly unhappy with his role (if you can call checking the bench for termites and modeling team warmups a "role") with the Celtics, which helped to crystalize his intended defection (or, since he’s actually from there, reinfection?) to his home town.

In any case, much has been written and rewritten about the “hows” and “whos” the C’s would replace his substantial 7’ 0” 275-pound frame with on the bench.  Scenarios about the “who” have ranged from willfully deranged -- “Anderson Verajao!!” -- to the blindly hopeful – “Marcin Gortat!” -- To the optimistically cautious  -- “Kenyon Martin?” to the abjectly underwhelmed -- Ben Wallace?!? Kyrylo Fesenko??!? Erick Dampier??!!?!!?     

But, of all the names being churned out of the rumor mill, "Gortat to the Celtics" has gone the most viral. Stories with quotes from Gortat that serve to illustrate his displeasure with the way in which the Phoenix Suns are utilizing him (or should I say underutilizing him?) have led folks to speculate about Gortat's imminent arrival to the Emerald City (uh, that's Boston, in case you didn't get the whole "green" reference...) to save the day with is rebounding, shot-blocking, scoring and general big guy-ness.

And you know, I would fully support such a trade, granted that the pieces that we exchange for him are reasonable. One of the many scenarios about what the C's could offer to the Suns for "The Polish Hammer" had the Celtics giving up Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and a pick to get him. Let me say right here, right now that any trade package that includes Bradley in it at this point in the season better yield more than a 28-year old slightly-above journeyman center with career averages of 8 points and 6 rebounds. Yes, I know in the past four years he's picked up his scoring and rebounding averages (thanks, Steve Nash!), and yes, I realize that playing with Rajon Rondo feeding him alongside Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and company might lead him to a career year, but before we overvalue Gortat and undervalue Bradley, let's understand what the Celtics are getting from each.

Gortat is a 6' 11" big-body who can score effectively inside and from midrange, bang on the boards -- occasionally rebounding into the double digits -- and is one of the better shot-blockers in the League, which he is currently leading by rejecting 3 shots a game. That said, he's not the second coming of The Chief or even Big Al, though an argument could be made about whether his offensive skills and shot-blocking ability would finally allow people to lay the ghost of Kendrick Perkins to rest (if only after getting Banner # 18 under the Gortat regime). 
Avery Bradley is the kind of defender that only comes along once in a very blue and very full moon. When NBA talking heads and coaches refer to him as "an elite defender" they're not just blowing smoke. He's the real deal. The kind of defender that may someday be lumped in with the Bobby Jonses, the Dennis Rodmans and the Joe Dumarses (Dumarses? Oh, what the Hell...) as defenders who could, at their respective positions, change the game as surely as a great offensive player could. Scoff at this comparison if you will, but we've already seen what he can do to some of those great offensive players (Dwyane Wade...take a seat) and decent ball-handlers (Jameer Nelson had to wash his jersey three times after this game just to make sure that Bradley wasn't still in it!), and on this particular team, with this particular point guard on it, Bradley becomes essential. I could explain this point more, but John Karalis of Redsarmy.com has already done it exquisitely.

Now, if I heard something along the lines of, say, perhaps “Sullinger and Courtney Lee for Gortat” I MIGHT be tempted to at least get in the car and check out the interior package while listening to the satellite radio. If that offer turned into Sullinger and a pick for Gortat, I MIGHT just have to reach across to the other seat and shake hands on the deal. In my completely unprofessional opinion, losing Sullinger would be a difficult proposition to swallow because there is great potential written all over him. In just his 10th and 11th games, he's gone for 12 points and 11 rebounds in one game and then 16 points on 7-12 shooting in the next. Granted, he's an undersized non-leaper, but he still finds a way through positioning and sheer will to rebound and get his points, either by maneuvering under the hoop, upfaking and getting to the line for foul shots or stepping out and shooting at near three-ball range.

But, as much as it would pain me to see Sullinger come back at us in another uniform like Big Al, Perk and even Tony Allen before him, if you're Danny Ainge, you make this move for one simple reason: Banner # 18. Do the Celtics have the personnel to get it done this year without making a move? I actually believe that they do, once the team really gels with each other and the defensive/offensive game plan. Landing Gortat for a commodity that we have somewhat in abundance -- Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox, and KG, once he slides back to his natural position -- could potentially be the kind of player that tilts the scales against the centerless Miami’s and the centerfull LA Lakers, Pacers and Sixers (once they can get Andrew Bynum to stop bowling) of the league. Jason Collins can come in and capably fill in as a defensive center, and the C's can still ball with smalls if Doc wants KG in the middle for matchup issues. And, for added protection at the power forward slot, we can still go grab K-Mart as insurance (even with his chronic knee issues, he's not a bad gamble for a 15th roster spot).
 
Of course, none of this talk becomes relevant until late December/early January because league rules prohibit recently signed free agents from being traded until then, and a trade for Gortat would likely require at least one of the C's new signees with whomever else the Suns would covet (Bradley? Step off, Sun!) in exchange for their disenchanted center.

By then, though, the Celtics might already be lounging back atop the Atlantic Division, blowing bad teams out and manhandling the good ones as they strike fear into hearts of fan and player alike from South Beach through Oklahoma City and out to Los Angeles.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

C's Mowed Down In Motown: 83-103



The photo says it all, folks. Do you really want to read about something so horrible?

You do?

Well, in a nutshell...the Pistons found their willing patsy. The Celtics essentially sleepwalked through this one as though they were on the second night of consecutive-back-to-backs. I suppose that's because they were.

In any case, I refuse to denigrate the team that I love by recounting actual facts from this game. Instead:

* Rajon Rondo? Streak safe.

* Jared Sullinger? Team-high 16 points, 7-12 shooting. Five boards.

* Celtics as a team? Two days off to get their sh*t together before facing the 8-2 San Antonio Spurs.

If you want any more "highlights" than that, you'll have to endure watch them yourself.

Box Score

C's Pummel Raptors Into Extinction: 107-89


Ahhhh.

Just when you thought it was safe to contemplate the meaning of a Rajon Rondo-less loss to a good Brooklyn Nets team, along come the Toronto Raptors to make you forget what the hell it was you were worried about in the first place.

Oh, the Raptors pretended to be competitive at several junctures during this one, but the Celtics started the game hot and ended somewhere between En Fuego and En El Diablo's Hiney.

Because this game wound up every bit the 18-point blowout that the score indicates, I'm gonna keep this one (relatively) short -- like 9 of Andrea Bargnani's 14 shot attempts.


The C's, riding on the sheer will of a returning and rampaging Rondo, ran out to a 17-point lead in the first quarter, but battled to turn back a prideful Raptors team that cut the lead to 3 in the 2nd quarter. The Dinos came even closer in the 3rd, cutting the lead to two at 55-53 (by the way...boos for the home team? Really, fans? I mean, it's not like the C's are 6-4 and only two games in the win column from the team with the best record in the League). Annnnyywaaayyy...
 
The Celtics ultimately shot 56.6% to the Raptors' 42.9% and never looked back in the 4th quarter.

Cutting straight to the highlights, and there were many, the Celtics benefitted from the continuation of several trends including:

* The Rondo Dimedrop Express chugged its way to 33 straight games racking up double-digit assists and closing to 5 the magic number needed to pass John Stockton and move into second place behind Magic Johnson for most consecutive games with 10 or more assists. Oh, and incidentally...he managed only 20 assists in his return from a one-game absence due to a twisted ankle.

* "Rondo to Wilcox" is alive and well.

* The Truth posterized yet another deserving rook with a sweet driving slam over the overly-aggressive youngster, Jonas Valanciunas.



* Jason Terry's comfort level grows with every game. On 7-10 shooting (4-7 from Threeland), Terry took top team scoring honors with 20 points.

* Speaking of growing comfort levels and confidence, how about that Jared Sullinger kid? Sully had his best game as a Celtic (though, admittedly, it wouldn't have taken much to achieve that distinction over his previous 9 games) showing powerful rebounding chops (11 boards) to go along with his college scorer's pedigree (12 points). 


* Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green were models of efficiency, with KG scoring 15 points on 6-7 shooting and 5 rebounds in 17 minutes and Green checking in with 9 points on 4-6 shooting with 2 rebounds and 2 assists.

Box Score

THE BUZZ:

Good thing the Green got some extra rest in this game, because they're traveling to Detroit to complete the second half of a back-to-back against a hungry Detroit Pistons team looking to find a patsy to help them climb out of the embarrassing 1-9 hole they've fallen into in this young NBA season.

 
 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Un-Flagrante Derelecto: The Anatomy Of A Good Call Gone Bad

The Top Ten Reasons Why NBA Referees Rescinded This Flagrant Foul
 
10- "Oh! You said 'flagrant!' We thought you said fragrant, and it definitely wasn't THAT!"

9- "We thought Bogans saw Leandro choking on a piece of gum. You know, come to think of it...it WAS kind of high for the Heimlich."

8- "Well, the head didn't come off or anything, so..."

7- "Election Day Bet: Loser had to give the winner a neck rub on national television."

6- "Wow...how about that Petraeus thing, right?"

5- "Sooo...they WEREN'T playing telephone?"

4- "Hey, what's flagrant about a good 'ol man-squeeze?"

3- "It was tough to interpret this one...I mean, Leandro talks all Brazillian and stuff."

2- "You didn't get Commissioner Stern's memo? Hug-it-out Thursdays, Bro!"

And the number one answer...

1- "Obamacare."


 
 
 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Celts Have 99 Problems But A Bench Ain't One: C's Still Lose To Jay-Z's Team, 102-97

"I feel bad for ya', Son!"

>>>Sigh.<<<

This one hurts. Not because it signifies that the Celtics are in trouble -- they're not, in fact I think they're coming along nicely. No, this one hurts because, in a game featuring the debut of "Rajon Rondo: Bench Coach" and a first half in which the C's were absolutely buried by the Brooklyn Nets' superior rebounding and second-chance points, the green guyz actually led in the 4th quarter and had multiple chances to put the game away.


Yes, not having Rajon Rondo (tweaked ankle) to direct the offense was a significant factor, but the game ultimately came down to two things: the C's failure to get stops when it counted and their inability to hit free throws down the stretch. Paul Pierce, who was otherwise brilliant with 22 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, and Jason Terry (10 points, 6 assists, 4 boards) missed 4 key freebies in the game's waning seconds and a previously bottled up Joe Johnson became uncorked late in the game with 9 fourth-quarter points, finishing with 19 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, not to mention the win.

As the title suggests, A) I am a Jay-Z fan, even if he DOES own the Nets and B) the Celtics bench was not only not a problem, they were an asset and helped to put the C's in position to win, despite the sizeable hole left by Rondo's absence. Mercenary Leandro Barbosa continued his assault in green against the rest of the league -- this time as a starter -- attacking all comers with  17 points while Courtney Lee awakened from his recent slumber and stepped up with 13 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Kevin Garnett added 14 points, 7 rebounds and 1 block.


Though the C's nearly took this one with a valiant second half effort in which they turned the tables on Brooklyn, beating them to loose balls, rebounds and defensive positioning, ultimately, they were done in by Johnson, the interior play of center Brook Lopez (24 points, 6  rebounds and 4 blocks), and aggressive guard play from Deron Williams (24 points 8 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block).

The positives: The C's showed that they can play with anyone, even when their All-Star playmaker is sitting on the bench. They also showed that those starting the game on said bench may soon become the arrows in the quiver that will ultimately help the Celtics hit their target of playing in June for the reward of a champagne shower.

This team is still figuring it out, but they're leaps and bounds closer to the answers than they were even as recently as last week. Give these guyz time...you're gonna be proud of them.

Box Score

THE BUZZ:

Next up, the Toronto Raptors.

The C's will return home for a rare early Saturday game to try and embark upon another win streak.

Celtics vs. Raptors
Saturday, November 17th, 2012
12:30 pm
@ The Boston Garden

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Barbosa, Green Rock As Celtics Tune Out Jazz: 98-93


Can...You...Dig It!!!!???

The Celtics extended their win streak to 3, beating the Utah Jazz thanks to some inspired play from Jeff Green (16 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists) and Leandro Barbosa (16 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists) who started the fire for a Celtics team that couldn't quite shake a fast-breaking, hard-rebounding Utah team, and later replaced a gimpy Rajon Rondo to help pilot the C's to a 98-93 win at home.

Before the Brazilian Blur took an extended solo on the Jazz interior defense, Utah big men Paul Millsap (a Mon-star like 20 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal) and old Celtic Al Jefferson (13 points, 14 relentless rebounds, 3 assists) had their way on the parquet. Gordon Hayward and Mo Williams got a few powerful licks in as well with 14 apiece.

Paul Pierce (broken record here, folks) scored a team-high 23, though he did it on less-than-stellar 7-17 shooting. Rondo (on auto-loop) again reached double-digit assists before turning his right ankle and sitting out the rest of the game.

But, the story, indeed, was Barbosa and the re-emergence of pre-season Green who acted like a real @$$hole and aggressively attacked the hoop during important stretches of the game when the teams traded baskets in a close contest.

Also worthy of note: Chris Wilcox continues to give Coach Doc Rivers confidence enough to rest Kevin Garnett for longer minutes, keeping him fresh for the critical home-stretch. Wilcox played 18 minutes to KG's 30.

The C's appear to be tightening up the defense along with the much-improved offense and their effort against the Jazz gave them a .500 record at home moving forward.

Box Score

THE BUZZ:

The C's won't have much time to celebrate the win, though...next up, the Brooklyn Nets...back-to-back, Jack!! Will Rondo play? Tune in and find out!

Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets
Thursday, November 15th, 2012
8:00 pm
@ The Barclays Center

LET'S GO, C'S!!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Running Of The Bulls Halted By Rondo, Celtics: 101-95

 
Wow.
 
The Celtics really are starting to show some of that offensive firepower and fast break ability that Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers were salivating about as they put this team together over the summer. True, they still have that annoying tendency to let down after building leads, but the promise is there and it's growing with every new day. The defense is starting to take root a pace or two behind the offense but that, too, is coming.
 
The C's led this one from the jump, leaving the first quarter with a 33-27 advantage, and never looked back -- though they DID have a couple of close calls with Chicago pulling up in the green's rear view mirror and scraping their back bumper a few times before they finally sealed the deal.
 
 
 
The Celtics, sticking with the same lineup from Saturday's game against Milwaukee, raced out to an early lead and looked like a cat ready to pounce on these hapless mice from Chicago, but that plan was thwarted by a trio of raging Bulls that included Luol Deng (26 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists), Joakim Noah (17 points, 11 boards, 3 assists) and Carlos Boozer, who chipped in with 15 points, if not much else. 
The Boston starters all scored in double figures with Brandon Bass, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry scoring 16, 15 and 13 points respectively, each hitting key shots down the stretch including a huge dunk apiece for Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass. Bass' dunk helped to stem the running of the Bulls, who cut the C's lead to three before Rondo capped a monster night by setting up Brandon Bass for his tide-turning dunk and collecting his 10th assist in the process. Rondo just missed a triple-double, Scoring 20 and assisting on 10 buckets while ripping down 9 boards, most of them over decidedly larger opponents. Old pal Nate Robinson, who scored 11points with 7 assists and 2 steals, got torched continuously by his old teammate, so badly, in fact, that Coach Thibs had to throw in rookie guard Marquis Teague for nearly 20 minutes to try and stop his attack -- to no avail.
 
And, since we're on the subject, can we all just say it now and be done with it: Rajon Rondo is the best point in the League. End of sentence. Period.
 
Yeah, Chris Paul is flashy and can shoot some. Derrick Rose (when he's not sitting on the bench in street clothes) is explosive and fun to watch. Deron Williams is...tall. But, there is no point guard in the League that controls the game in every aspect the way that Rondo does. Not only is he the best pure quarterback in the game, doing what the definitive point is supposed to do -- pass the damn ball -- but, he is such a feared defensive roamer that opposing teams on offense avoid his general area in much the same way that football teams refuse to throw near the assignments of the Revis-esque cornerbacks of the NFL. He is currently leading the NBA in the main category that matters for point guards with 13 assists per game and -- newsflash haters -- he's hitting .507 from the field and an impressive .375 from 3-point land. Chris Paul? He's a full 3 assists behind Rondo's average and this "better shooter" is averaging .494 from the floor with a .313 average from three. Look, there's only one active point guard in the League chasing the rarefied air that none other than Magic Johnson and John Stockton breathed before him, and his name ain't Chris Paul.
 
Nuff said, okay?
Hello, Mr. Gibson...are you ready for your facial?
And, speaking of rare, Paul Pierce had an off-night, scoring 10 points on 4-13 shooting (Deng continues to have Pierce's number defensively), but he did snare 6 rebounds to go with 5 assists, 2 steals and 1 block to help in those proverbial "other areas." The bench also posted a respectable 27 points, with Chris Wilcox continuing to show his value on both ends of the court and by spelling Kevin Garnett -- who was visibly gassed from defending Noah and Boozer all night before subbing back in for his key lob-dunk -- while Jeff Green also maintained his defensive assertiveness from the previous game.
 
This one was far from perfect, but it was a "W" over a quality opponent that moved the C's over the .500 mark for the first time this season, which, by the way, is still only 7 games old. The current is changing and, as I've been saying from the beginning, this team is going to be very, very good before it's all said and done.
 
 
THE BUZZ:
 
Next up, a Wednesday night game against the Utah Jazz, who survived a triple-overtime (Yes! Three Overtimes!!) game against the Toronto Raptors to win 140-133. My suggestion to the boyz in green? (In my best Tommy Heinsohn voice) "RUN, RUN, and RUN some more, Baby!!"
 
Boston Celtics vs. Utah Jazz  
Wednesday, November 14th
7:30 pm
@ Boston Garden