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Tag:Paul Pierce
Posted on: March 18, 2009 9:09 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2009 3:38 pm
 

Celtics Weekly: Get Serious On Defense

I can't possibly be the only person watching the Celtics and Heat play right now that is noticing the Celtics have no energy on defense. Boston, both last night against the Bulls and tonight vs. the Wadeless Heat, seem content to sit back and give the opposition open shots in hopes of simply outscoring teams who can put up points as well as anyone in the league.

The stat ESPN just showed is that without Kevin Garnett the Celtics are giving up 99.5 points per game as apposed to 91.6 points per game with the Big Ticket in the lineup.

The fact is that the Celtics aren't missing KG's stats at either end of the floor. When Leon Powe and Glenn Davis played Garnett's minutes they were matching his numbers point for point and board for board. So if Garnett's statistical production is being accounted for, why are the Celtics only 9-6 when he is out of the lineup this season?

Simple Answer: Leadership. You can say all you want about Paul Pierce being the captain of this team, but when the Celtics are out on the floor Garnett is the general. KG is the one who is not only organizing the troops on defense, but moving the ball around on the offensive end of the floor to ensure the C's are getting legitimate production. The Celtics without KG are so unbelievable unpatient when they have the ball it is sickening. They are very reminiscent of my cousin's high school team (his team was 4-20 this season).

I know it isn't in the Celtics' nature to panic, especially with a playoff spot locked up, and I also don't usually take what Mark Jackson says to heart, but he made a comment earlier in the telecast tonight when he said, "I hope the Celtics don't get in the habit of thinking it is okay to lose games". Right now Boston has come out and acknowledged that winning is secondary to being healthy. It makes sense to a point that being healthy for the playoffs is more important that having an amazing regular season record, but if the Celtics stumble their way into the postseason, is it even going to matter if they are heathly? 

 

Posted on: January 14, 2009 10:04 pm
 

Celtics Weekly: 3 down,17 to go for new record...

It seems all the Boston Celtics needed to get back on track was a short stretch of games against the relatively pathetic Atlantic Division. After thoroughly throttling the Raptors in Toronto, then coming home to squeek one out against the same Raptor squad in overtime, the C's knocked off the Nets to make it a cool three in row before heading off to New Jersey for their second straight home and home.

So what happened to that team that went on a 2-7 streak over the last few weeks? We can only hope that they have gone far away for a long time, but what has changed over the last three contests (putting aside the fact that the games were against lesser opponents) is the following:

1) Getting the ball to the big-3: Over the last three games Paul Pierce has averaged 24 points (4 above his season avg.), Garnett 18 (2 above his season avg.), and Allen 20 (2 above his season avg.). Those slight PPG increase may not seem like a big deal, but if the big-3 had scored 8 points a game more during the previous nine games, the C's go 7-2, their only loses coming to the Golden State and Cleveland.

2) Rondo's confidence: Because Rajon Rondo has won a championship, sometimes you forget that this is only his second year as a starting pointguard and he is subject to those same distractions that affect other young players...like someone taking your job. When the rumors of Stephon Marbury signing with the Celtics were at the height, Rondo was at his worst. Whereas before he was driving the lane, both dishing and scoring, he fell into a rut where he averaged more than a turnover a game more than his season average. Last three games, back to normal for Rondo's solid 3/1 assist to turnover ratio.

3) Energy Level and Confidence: There is no statistic that can quantifiy the effort put into a game or the pressure players put on themselves to succeed. During the losing streak, the Celtics were PITIFUL in the fourth quarter shooting the basketball around 29% from the floor. The only explanation for that is they were pressing. When you have lost a number of games in a row, all you can think as the clock is winding down is, "let's just not lose this one" instead of "let's do what it takes to win". The C's clearly have the veterans that can change that mentality in a snap, which they've done over the last week and Boston's composure against the Raptors in a tight spot in overtime confirmed that the good old Celts that won 19 in a row are back...and hopefully up for another 19.

On a side note, how much fun was it to watch back to back games where the centers for both teams tossed up threes like shooting guards. When Brian Scalabrine and Andrea Bargnani were matchup up against each other, both Toronto and Boston were basically playing centerless with an extra small forward on the floor. The two "centers" combined for 9-20 from behind the arc over the two game span...not bad for a couple of big white boys.

Posted on: December 13, 2008 12:22 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2008 12:28 pm
 

Celtics Weekly: The new "Big Baby" is Chris Paul

                                                         

After watching the Celtics win their 22nd game of the season last night against the New Orleans Hornets three things became very obvious to me:

1) Paul Pierce is at his best in big games. During the four games prior to Friday night Pierce was shooting a sub-par 33% from the field, connected on only 3 three pointers, and averaged over 3 turnovers per game. But then the Hornets came to town. Against a team that is the best the Celtics have faced all month, a team which was a pre-season favorite to go to the NBA championship from the Western Conference, and on national television Paul Pierce dropped 28 points (9-17 from the field hitting 2 from downtown) while also contributing 6 boards and 6 assists as well as only 2 turnovers. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are both future hall of famers, but when the game is on the line, I want the ball in the hands of Paul Pierce.

2) Chris Paul is still the same old cry baby. Last season when the Hornets visited Boston in late March they got whacked by the Celts 112-92. During the beginning of the fourth quarter Chris Paul walked around the court like he was lost. Byron Scott eventually sat him down and everyone watched as Paul sat quietly on the bench with a towel over his head and defeated look on him face. The same exact thing happened last night in the fourth. Paul started committing stupid fouls and throwing up prays down the stretch instead of acting like a leader. Could you ever see KG, Pierce, or Allen pulling something like that? Paul has a little work in front of him before he is able to lead his team to a title.

3) Rajon Rondo still has a ways to go. Rondo has no doubt played at an all-star calibur so far this season. Last night, playing arguably the best pointguard in the league in Chris Paul, Rondo struggled mightily. Rondo can afford to shoot poorly from time to time (4-12 last night), but when that happens he needs to revert to being a point, dishing balls out, playing tough D, and energizing his team. His 2 assist, 2 turnover, 1 steal performance last night wasn't getting the job done. While I have high hopes for Rondo, I think "Rondomania" may have swept Celtics nation a little prematurely. He has to learn how to be composed in big games if he is to reach elite PG status.

While last night was an big win for the C's, I'm not convinced they have it all over the Hornets. Yes, they did hold New Orleans to 35% shooting from the floor, but that was without center Tyson Chandler in the lineup. When Boston travels down South in February I think we'll all get a better idea of how these two squads will matchup come (dare I say it?) championship time.

Posted on: December 6, 2008 2:03 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2008 12:21 am
 

Celtics Weekly: Getting lax after big leads

When the Trail Blazers came to Boston Friday night they were supposed to give the Celtics a game. Portland was "faster" and "more athletic" which would lead to a bunch of transition points and easy baskets. The team that was ranked 4th in CBS's NBA power rankings didn't give the C's any sort of trouble. In fact, it was Boston that took advantage of what seemed to be a very lethargic Blazer defense to outscore Portland on the fast break and beat them at their own game.

It has become rather redundant to praise Boston for their continued success, but since they are playing so well it is difficult (and honestly rather tedious) to find something that the Celtics have done poorly recently. But I have done it! The last two games the Celts have had large leads in the third quarter (over 20) and have managed to somewhat waste them away. Yes, the lead last night never dropped below 11 after the half, but there was a point where the Celtics bench went on a cold streak which resulted in a 16-3 Portland run.

So my one criticism of the Celtics is perhaps they should work on their closing skills. Putting the nail in the coffin. Twisting the daggar. Telling the other team to start warming up the bus.

When the bench has entered the last few games, their body language tells me that they think they are the mop up crew. They are given such large leads that they don't play strong defense, march down the court, and take the first mediocre shot they find. The fact that they lose leads impacts the team because it forces the starters to play unnecissary minutes that they could be resting. Rivers has said time and again that keeping the five core guys fresh plays a major role in the success the Celts will be able to have down the stretch and with Pierce and Allen being forced to play 37 minutes last night, the bench isn't getting the job done.

The Celtics biggest challenger, Cleveland, has been able to sit LeBron James for the entire fourth quarter in 5 of their last 7 games in order to keep him rested. The last things you want to see is King James at 100% in a seven game series where Paul Pierce is tired due to over playing him.

I know the playoffs are far in the distance, and the Celtics at 19-2 are far from in trouble, but like I said, I'm just grasping at straws here, If they continue to play the way they are Boston will be fine, if maybe just a little more worn down.

Posted on: November 27, 2008 11:31 am
 

Celtics Weekly: Warrior Woes and Great Guard Play

In a game where the Boston bench for the first time this season noticably underperformed, shooting only 4 of 12 from the field and largely contributing to the C's 13 point deficit at halftime, the Celtics' starters rose to the occasion to help lead the the green to a 119-111 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

All five Celtic staters played well above their season averages in minutes and the increase in playing time was reflected in the stats as Allen (25), Rondo (22), Pierce (21), and Garnett (21) all dropped more than 20 points. The story of the game, however, was two sided; the gigantic holes in Golden State's game showing in the second half and Rajon Rondo's offensive surge in the 3rd quarter.

The Warriors' large halftime lead was due in large part to their shooting 55% from the floor in the openning two quarters, and contrary to popular belief, that inflated fieldgoal percentage isn't necissarily a product of poor Celtics defense, but the Warriors' willingness to settle for long jumpshots and, at the same time, the ability to knock them down. On the fast break in the first half the C's played solid D by clogging the lane and forcing Golden State to take tough shots, and the trigger happy ballers from the west coast just happened to get them to fall.

That wasn't the case in the second half.

Golden State's inability to pass up long, open shots in exchange for developing a play to the point where they can get inside for an easy hoop hurt them, shooting only 39% from the floor and scoring a total of 38 points in the paint for the game (compared to the C's 66). In defense of the Warriors, their only inside threat, Andris Biedrins, was abused during the second half, forcing more ill-advised shots from perimeter players, but the fact that the Warriors are undersized isn't going to change without personel changes and their inside game (or lack there of) will lead to them being exposed game after game because they can't win unless they shoot out of their minds like they did in the first half last night.

Another drawback to the Warriors' lack of any inside presence is that they can't crash the boards on either end of the floor, ultimately resulting in the Celtics outscoring them on second chance points 24-6.

The Warrior's inability to stop the Celtics in the paint in the second half, interestingly enough, didn't lead to a big game for Garnett or Perkins, but to the Celtics' most consistant player so far this season; Rajon Rondo. In the third period the Celtics' point guard was able to drive the hole and match the entire Golden State team by scoring 16 points and singlehandedly erasing a 14 point hole. Rondo, along with putting up a season high 22 points, took down 8 boards and added 7 assists, all of which led to Paul Pierce saying after the game that, "I think when he's on [Rondo] like he's on tonight, we're unstoppable".

The Celtics, now 14-2, playing a strenuous schedule with more games against winning teams in a shorter length of time than a year ago, have the same mark as they did last season through their first 16 games. I know you're all thinking it, so, Is it too early to crown the Boston Celtics Atlantic division champions?

Posted on: November 21, 2008 3:52 pm
 

Celtics Weekly: The Big 3 vs. The Little 2?

If Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett are the Big Three, then I guess that makes Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins the Little Two.

Reggie Miller is a knucklehead, but he did make one good point last night. He mentioned that people just assumed the Celtics SHOULD win a championship because they went out and got Garnett and Allen to help support Pierce last year; but he also pointed out that that was a ridiculous assumption. He supported his arguement by providing instances where teams were stacked with hall of famers in order to win championships but ultimatley fell short: The Lakers' signings of Malone and Payton to compliment Shaq and Kobe, and the aquisition of Barkley and Pippen to back up Hakeem in Houston.

"The Celtics must have done something differently here to win a championship", Miller mused.

Exactly. The C's go more than three deep. They also have Rondo and Perkins.

Last night against the Detroit Pistons, as team that just knocked off the Cavaliers and Lakers in back to back games, die-hard Rajon Rondo fans like my girlfriend had a lot to cheer about. The Celtics' smallest starter came up huge, out duelling fellow pointguard and future hall of famer Allen Iverson to the tune of a game high 18 points and 8 assists.

When asked before the season what his personal goals were for the season, Rondo didn't say that he wanted to become a bigger scoring threat or be the best pointguard in the league, but he merely stated that he had two goals; get the the free throw line more and make the NBA's all-defensive team. Doesn't that sound like a guy that you want in your starting lineup?

Perkins, although he didn't fare as well offensively as you thought he might have against an overall disapointing Kwame Brown last night, was able to pull down a game high 10 boards shot 50% from the field. The biggest improvement in Perkins' game this year is his passing. He only had one helper last night, but Rondo, Powe, and Pierce all missed layups after the C's starting big man put balls right in their hands streaking to the dish.

You can tell that Garnett's presence has had an amazing influence on Perkins on both ends of the floor, but unfortunately it has also affected his oncourt demeanor as well. With one second left in the first half Perkins ran his mouth after an altercation with the Piston's Brown and ended up getting slapped with his 7th technical foul in 13 games this season. After Iverson made the shot it brought Detroit to within seven at the break, and although it didn't end up costing the C's last night, Perkins can't be giving away free points every other game. If there is anything Perkins should learn from Garnett it is that although it is okay to talk smack to get pumped up, doing what is best for the team always comes first, even if that means swallowing your pride (Sorry for the corny lesson...but the big boy's got to learn!).

Look out for Rondo and Perkins (if he says out of foul trouble) to play a larger role in C's success throughout the year...and after watching the way the little guy played against Iverson last night, don't be surprised if he accomplished his goal of being on the All-defensive team!

Posted on: November 19, 2008 4:41 pm
 

Celtics Weekly: Gettin the W minus the Big Ticket

After suffering the loss of Kevin Garnett due to a ridiculous suspention, the Celtics were forced to play host to the New York Knicks Tuesday night without their All-star power forward. Despite almost blowing a 14 point fourth quarter lead, the C's were able to escape with a 110-101 victory over the now 6-5 Knicks.

Keys to Victory:

Equal distribution of contributions: The five players on the Celtics who played the most minutes last night (all 28+ mins) were Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Leon Powe, Ray Allen, and Kendrick Perkins. All five took between 9 and 14 shots, 4 of the 5 had 14-16 points (Pierce, who had 22, was inside that domain until he handled all of the C's possesions late in the game and got to the line 7 times in the last 2 mins), and with the team's leading rebounder out of the game, 4 of the 5 grabbed 7 or 8 boards (the exception being Allen). When one of your big guns goes down, everyone else has to fill in the missing pieces, and that's exactly what Boston was able to do last night.

Size does Matter: The Knicks are currently missed the four tallest guys on their roster: Jared Jeffries (6-11), Eddie Curry (6-11), Danilo Gallinari (6-10), and Jerome James (7-1). This meant that last night Zack Randolph (6-8), a natural power forward, was forced to start at center and match-up against 7 foot Kendrick Perkins. Not only that, but the bench players who entered to man-up on Boston's big boy were David Lee and Malik Rose, both of whom are incredibly undersized, and they got absolutely toasted. The Knicks might as well have put Nate Robinson on Kendrik the way Perk was backing their "centers" down into the paint for easy layins. In the first half Powe was able to do much of the same (although he is only 6-8 himself).

Common Criticism:

The Celtics' defense suffered without Garnett: This statement is only somewhat true. While the 101 points allowed to New York was 12 points higher than their season average of 89.7 points per game allowed, that is also 4 points less than the Knicks PPG average of 105.2. So while you obviously want to see KG in the lineup every night, it is good to see that the C's can still function both offensively and defensively against a winning team (Knicks were 6-4 entering the game) without a key member of the big three.

Posted on: November 14, 2008 11:31 pm
 

Celtics vs. Nuggets: Time to go Streaking

Have you watched a Celtics game since the beginning of last season where Boston was as streaky as they were against the Nuggets?

After laboring to no avail throughout the first few games of the season to try and put up solid first quarter numbers the Celtics finally throw down 29 in the openning period against Denver only to post a putrid 13 in the second and go into the lockerrooms down by 6.

Although the Denver lead ballooned to 15 at one point in the third, when the Celts started to turn it on with clutch shooting from Allen, House, and Pierce, and took the lead going into the fourth, you thought for sure this was going to be just like Atlanta where the Cs stormed back from an early 16 point deficit or the game before against Toronto where the green and white were stymied in a 14 point hole for a good portion of the second and third periods before taking over down the stretch.

But it was not to be so.

There are two main factors which contributed to the Celtics' downfall in that fourth quarter and the first was Boston's inability to put the ball in the hands of Paul Pierce. The man who has been the hero in the fourth for the Celts every game during the young season (dropping 22 on the Raptors two nights before to give the C's a divisional win) scored 0, yes that is ZERO, points in the fourth. In the final period Pierce only attempted 2 shots, the first a transition three ten seconds in, and the second a mid-range jumper that clanged of the rim for a long rebound to Allen with 7:12 left of the clock. Why wasn't the ball in the hot hands of Paul Pierce when the game was on the line? That brings us to the second fourth quarter issue:

When the game is close in the fourth, your starting point guard shouldn't be on the bench.

You have to know your personel. House is a shooter. Rondo is a disher and a defender. After Ray Allen hit the three from the corner to put the Celts up 83-81 with 4 minutes to play Rivers should have had Rondo on the court to not only shut down the Denver offense, but to put the ball in the hands of the Celtics playmakers on the other end of the floor. There is a time and a place for Eddie House, and that is when the Celtics are struggling to score and need a spark. House provided that spark tonight in the form of 13 points in 19 minutes...but it is those last 5 minutes of playing time that killed the Celts; House was 0-3 from the floor and was burned on the defensive side of floor by the less than stellar Anthony Carter. Put Rondo on the floor for those minutes and those are three more shots in the hands of the big three with a chance to do some damage.

I love House, but at the end of the game I want to see Rajon Rando with his goofy, upside-down headband carrying the ball down the court in his monster hands, dishing it to Paul Pierce so he can give the opposing team a good dose of The Truth and send us all home happy.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com