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Tag:Glen Davis
Posted on: May 1, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Rivers: Shaq out Game 1, will play by Game 3

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers says center Shaquille O'Neal will not play in Game 1 against the Miami Heat. Posted by Ben Golliver. shaq

The endless wait for Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal continues. The 39-year-old center, who has seen just five minutes of action since Feb. 1 and missed the entire first round series against the New York Knicks, has been dealing with foot and Achilles injuries.

ESPNBoston.com reports on Sunday that Celtics coach Doc Rivers believes O'Neal will return no later than Game 3, which will tip on Saturday, May 7.
"He's getting very close," Rivers said. "Honestly, we had to actually make a decision today, so that's better than what we've had to do in the past. He's getting close. Maybe next game. If not, I would say for sure Game 3."
"He's getting there," Rivers said. "He tried to do some stuff, but he keeps getting really sore afterward. So we're just going to wait."
The site also notes: "The biggest hurdle appears to be post-activity soreness."

Without O'Neal, the Celtics will make due with veteran center Jermaine O'Neal in the middle and reserve forward Glen Davis, and sprinkle in some Nenad Krstic when necessary. The Heat aren't exactly loaded with talent at the five spot, but Joel Anthony is a presence defensively and on the glass while Zydrunas Ilgauskas is also an effective big body. 

On the season, O'Neal is averaging 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 20.3 minutes. He appeared in just 37 games for the Celtics.
Posted on: April 30, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Playoff Fix: No room to breathe with Heat-Celtics

Posted by Royce Young



One Big Thing: Does anyone else get the sense that Game 1 is really, really important in this series? Either way, a tone is getting set. Either the Heat make a statement that things have changed and they're ready for the Celtics or Boston makes one saying it's more of the status quo.

Heck, package it in even tighter than that. The first six minutes of this game could say a whole lot about it. There's going to be a real mental aspect to this series and every little play is going to feel extremely large. I still haven't wrapped my head around this just being the Eastern Conference Semifinals yet.

The X-Factor: It's Rajon Rondo. There's absolutely no doubt about it. Miami has no one to guard him and with him getting his feel and command back against the Knicks, Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra likely haven't slept the last 72 hours. The good Rondo changes every little thing about this series. If he's keyed in, breaking down the Miami defense and distributing, it's hard to see how the Heat can guard Boston for 48 minutes.

The Adjustment: Would Spoelstra dare get creative with his matchups? Mario Chalmers was good in Game 5 for the Heat, but could we see a lot of Dwyane Wade on Rondo? Of course now you've got to account for Ray Allen, but I get the feeling Mike Bibby and Chalmers have a better chance chasing Allen off screens than they do slowing Rondo off the dribble.

The Sticking Point: The season series tilted 3-1 in Boston's favor with the one Miami win coming when Rondo was in his post-Perk funk and the Celtics slipping a bit as a team. Hard to really take too much from that. Except maybe that the Heat built some confidence. I mean, remember at All-Star Weekend when James Jones beat Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in the 3-point contest and said, "We finally beat you guys in something. " To that point, the Celtics were in their heads. Maybe just that simple regular season win has removed some of that doubt.

The Celtics conceded home court in this series with a poor finish. Not that Miami has a great advantage there (Fan Up, amirite?) but still, it's called "advantage" for a reason. Starting at home fresh off that win could be a big thing for the Heat. And with this first game, the first six minutes, heck the first possession being big, that could be the edge the Heat need to get started right.
Posted on: April 29, 2011 3:05 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 3:30 pm
 

Celtics-Heat: The X's and O's

How do the Heat and Celtics match up on both sides of the ball?
Posted by Matt Moore




It was inevitable, really. From the moment the Triad formed last summer, the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics have been eyeing one another. The dominant team in the East doesn't like any team acting like they're in the same league with the defending champs, much less a team that hadn't played a single game together saying they're going to win multiple NBA championships. A 3-1 advantage in the regular series gives Boston the mental edge, but the Heat took the lone meeting after the Celtics traded Perkins and destabilized their chemistry. 

Playoffs are hugely influenced by matchups. Here's a look at how various matchups land in favor of the Heat or the Celtics. 

PG: The Celtics of course have a natural, traditional point guard in Rajon Rondo, a pure point, while the Heat largely use Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers the same way the Lakers use Derek Fisher. James and Wade spend a majority of the time at point. 
When the Celtics have the ball: We don't have to talk much about this, right? I mean, Rajon Rondo is Rondo and Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers are not. Defensively, the Heat won't match up either of their point guards on Rondo. Either Wade or James will try to check him. It's a testament to Rondo's ability that neither is able to effectively handle him. Even against two of the faster players in the league, and two of the better defenders, Rondo simply outmaneuvers either one. James isn't fast enough and Wade struggles with Rondo's agility. Off the pick and roll, a hard trap isn't effective, thanks to how quickly Rondo can move the ball Garnett for the pick and pop or to the roll man. There's not a great solution outside of bringing help and hoping the perimeter shooters miss. You know, Ray Allen not being considerably reliable in terms of outside shooting, all-time 3-point shooting record holder that he is. 

When the Heat have the ball: On offense, when the Heat go to Wade or James running point, Rondo will attack whoever crosses the timeline with the ball in most instances. Rondo can get backed down by James in the post, but that's something LeBron seldom does. Likewise, Wade can cross him over, but then you're looking at a pull-up jumper which you live with. It's not that Rondo's a better player than James or Wade, those guys will get theirs (unless Wade's nightmares against Boston continue) but Rondo's physical versatility allows him to guard the other well enough to guide them into the teeth of the Celtics' help defense. 

Wings: Going traditional "SG and SF" designations are largely useless here. It's true that Wade is listed at guard and James at forward, but in reality, both operate on the perimeter and handle the ball, while not operating in traditional roles. James is too on-ball to be considered a true small forward, and Wade's versatility causes the same problems. So instead we'll look at it from the perspective of wings.

When the Celtics have the ball: The hardest part about guarding the Celtics is their consistency in running their offense. They'e not going to blow you away with new sets. But they run what they run to such precision that it's near impossible to stop them. The biggest problem is chasing Ray Allen through screens. Allen will usally cut baseline to baseline through closing screens. The result is Allen getting open for 3-pointers while the defender is still trying to recover from brutal off-ball screens by Glen Davis and KG, and the announcers saying "How can you leave Ray Allen wide open?!" as if the thought of defending the greatest pure shooter (limited to non-ball-handlers who just shoot 3-pointers, please leave your MJ/Kobe debates at home, kids) never crossed their mind. Wade will be assigned to try and get through, but his body isn't built for the wear and tear. Mario Chalmers might be a better cover here, as Bibby isn't tall enough to defend in the first place and would get murdered on the screens. Chalmers needs to study tape of what J.J. Redick has done to get through those screens and he can't afford to lose Allen, even on broken plays or rebounds. If you take your eyes off Allen for a second, that's three points. 

Pierce is considerably easier to guard from a strategic standpoing; he's coming right at you. The problem with Pierce is he just knows his moves so well. James has historically done a pretty good job on Pierce. But when James goes out, there's absolutely no one to guard Pierce. James Jones can't hang with him on the drive or the step back. Mike Miller may do a decent job, but again, that elbow jumper's tough and when he throws in the pump-fake, that's going to be trouble. Pierce is also very adept at finding the trailer 3-pointer, and when the defense collapses off Rondo, Pierce is open.  It's the basic Celtics problem. Pierce is a great offensive player on his own. When he's used off-ball, it becomes even harder to stop him. James and he nearly cancel each other out at both ends. 

When the Heat have the ball: When the ball rotates to whichever one is working off-ball, Allen will take Wade, with the requisite help coming weak-side.  Pierce will take James. Help will be quick on the drive in both instances, and since neither has figured out how to move off-ball outside of transition, the defense will focus on the ball-handler. The roll man's defender on the pick and roll will show hard, with the other low-post defender rolling to cut off the lane. If the ball-handler cuts back, a third defender will be there. Essentially, the Celtics are well prepared for whatever attack the Heat have shown. There will be times when the Heat get open looks off of their athletic ability to get past the defense for the drive and kick, usually a jump-pass. When those occur, the Heat have to knock them down. You can't waste open shots against the Celtics. 

Down Low:

When the Celtics have the ball: Kevin Garnett normally isn't a threat in the post. He doesn't have the muscle left to deal with the contact against most power forwards. Except Chris Bosh. He can pretty much do whatever he wants there. Bosh has to hold on his own, because the Heat can't afford to double in the post with the other weapons on the floor for Boston. The best option might be to give Joel Anthony a run on Garnett and risk the inevitable fouls. Anthony will struggle with Garnett at the elbow, but you've got to live with it somewhere. 

When the Heat have the ball: Bosh has played pretty aggressively in the playoffs and through the last month of the season. But against Garnett, it's just not a good matchup for him. Glen Davis is a better matchup for him, where Bosh's length will allow him to go to the mid-range. Off the pick and pop, Bosh has to have a quick trigger and good aim. Bosh has to completely change this dynamic for the Heat to win. 

Centers: The Heat have aging centers with diminished skills and a poorly coordinated young player with questionable decision making on offense. The Celtics have aging centers with diminished skills and a poorly coordinated young player with questionable decision making on offense. It's a wash. 

These matchups look like they favor Boston for a reason. But that's dependent on the Triad not being able to counter Boston's defense. If LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh are able to put in performances worthy of their reputations, the Heat can overwhelm Boston, especially without Perkins. From a strategic standpoint, the Heat are clearly the underdogs, but their whole approach has been to overcome with talent. They'll need to do the same to get to the Conference Finals. 
Posted on: April 19, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 2:22 pm
 

Series Reset: Knicks cope without Billups

We reset the Knicks-Celtics series with Game 2 on tap for Tuesday night. Is New York in trouble without Chauncey Billups? Posted by Ben Golliver.
ray-allen-winner

The Narrative:

A breathtaking Game 1 came down to a pair of potential game-winning threes : Celtics guard Ray Allen made his, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony didn't. The result was disappointing for Knicks fans, but the level of effort wasn't. Amar'e Stoudemire got his numbers, the bench showed up and a more efficient night from Anthony would have meant a Game 1 win. For Boston, point guard Rajon Rondo didn't shoot particularly well but he did put together a near triple-double, which is a good sign for the Celtics, as they are only going as far as Rondo pilots them.

The Hook:

One huge Game 1 sticking point that shakes things up for Game 2: the availability of Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups, who went down with a knee injury late and isn't expected to play on Tuesday. Knicks guard Toney Douglas, a second-year player out of Florida State, is expected to start in Billups' place, and will have his hands full checking Rondo. The numbers on Douglas do offer some hope. The Knicks play better when he's on the court than when he's off, although that's generally come against second-unit players. He's also upped his production during the nine games he started this season (he averaged 13.9 points and 5.7 assists as a starter, compared to 10.6 points and 3.0 assists overall). The issue, as Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni pointed out to SI.com , is how many minutes Douglas will be required to play. It could be a lot. The next guy on the depth chart is aging vet Anthony Carter, who shot 1-4 in 14 minutes during Game 1. In case you were wondering, Douglas averaged 7.5 points and 3.3 assists against the Celtics during the regular season.

The Adjustment:

carmelo-shot-chart One look at Carmelo Anthony's shot chart to the right tells you everything you need to know about what New York hopes to do differently on Tuesday. The breakdown: 5-18 from the field, 2-8 on three-pointers, 4-15 overall on jumpers, just three shots in the paint and a paltry four free throw attempts.

Anthony, one of the league's premier all-around scorers, simply must do better. Attacking Boston's solid interior defense isn't an easy proposition but there really is no alternative. Unless Anthony is able to get to the free throw line, New York will be hoping and praying that its bench shows up big for the second night in a row, a possibility made more difficult by Douglas's move to the starting lineup. 

The X-Factor:

Brilliantly laid out in video form at Posting and Toasting, Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal had a monster Game 1 defensively, blocking four shots and contesting countless others, while looking very agile in Boston's halfcourt defense. On top of all that, he made all six of his shot attempts in 23 minutes. That's the definition of quality minutes from the man tabbed to pick up the slack in Shaquille O'Neal's absence. Can he repeat, or at least approximate, that performance in Game 2?

The Sticking Point:

While all five Boston starters scored in double figures during Game 1, the bench was pretty bad. Delonte West, Nenad Krstic, Jeff Green and Glen Davis combined to shoot 4-15, scoring just eight points and grabbing eight rebounds in a combined 59 minutes. Boston doesn't need all of those guys to step up; really, they'd probably settle for just one. Asking Jeff Green to be that guy feels like a stretch these days, so let's tab Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who started some trash talking  prior to Game 1. Davis has to do a better job than his 1-8 night, since he's being asked to give big minutes behind O'Neal. He's too talented to lay an egg like that twice in a row.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 2:17 pm
 

Glen Davis, Amar'e Stoudemire exchange trash talk

Boston Celtics forward Glen Davis calls out New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire. Posted by Ben Golliver.
davis-stoudemire


No one has ever accused Boston Celtics forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis of biting his tongue. Davis, as brash off the court as he is goofy on the court, has lobbed the first public volley in the big market battle between the Celtics and the New York Knicks.

In advance of Game 1 of the first round series between the two teams, Davis called out Knicks All-Star forward Amar'e Stoudemire, stating bluntly that he gives Stoudemire too much credit and that it's not all that difficult to defend him. Here's Davis' take as relayed by the New York Post.
"It's really not that hard," Davis said. "I don't know why. I've been tripping. I give him too much credit. I just have to make him react to me, not me react to him because it's too late. If he gets one step on you, he's too strong and too quick. You just have to make him play your game."
Stoudemire, meanwhile, provided a quick retort to the New York Daily News.
"That's all right," Stoudemire said after shootaround on Sunday. "Me and Glen Davis (are) on two different platforms right now. He's a solid player, does a great job for his ball club. But we are on two different platforms."
On the season, Stoudemire averaged 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Against Boston, he put up 24.0 points and 8.3 rebounds, virtually identical to his yearly numbers.

In other words, Davis and his teammates have not yet had any meaningful impact defending Stoudemire. Whether these comments will meaningfully motivate Stoudemire for the series, however, is a key storyline to watch as they open play on Sunday.
Posted on: April 8, 2011 10:10 am
 

Around the Web: Bulls-Celtics reaction

Posted by Matt Moore

A look at the reactions to the Bulls' win over the Celtics Thursday night...
But there is a reason the Celtics shot terribly. For one, Kurt Thomas, Joakim Noah, and even Omer "The Turkish Delight" Asik were beasts inside, and Luol Deng had a Pippen-esque defensive performance tonight. More than anything though it was just an unrelenting energy from Chicago. They played like we've come to expect the Celtics to play. They were active defensively, and unrelenting. They didn't take possessions off, and even when they screwed up a rotation or allowed penetration, they hustled like a man possessed to get back to rights. Even Kyle Korver..I'm not kidding.

That meant that the Celtics had no time for hand wringing on offense. That meant that if the Celtics had an open shot, they either took it without thinking, or it was taken away. That meant more often than not the Celtics put up a shot they didn't want to. It meant the Celtics got a taste of what its like to play a team that has gelled cohesively around the idea that they will win games with their defense and just bought into being the best they can on that end. Basically it meant the Celtics got a taste of what it has been like to play the Celtics for most of the past 4 seasons.
via CelticsBlog - For Boston Celtics Fans.

Energy is the most discussed element in regular season games between playoff contenders. The losing team will always cite a lack of energy, leading towards a "we play for the playoffs" angle in a "we just didn't have it tonight" manner, while the winning team will cite "being locked in." The start of this game very much looked like both teams were locked in. The Bulls were as relentless as described above, and that's their strongest defensive feature. They don't overreact to problems and they rarely let issues compound one another. Consistency has the value of gold in the NBA. And the Bulls have mountains of it. 
Listing other contributors starts with Luol Deng, overcoming early foul trouble to outscore his long-time rival Paul Pierce (seriously!) 23-15, Keith Bogans had two 3-pointers in his initial stint to help the hot start, Carlos Boozer had a brief spurt of dominance in the 2nd half against the C's backup bigs...but this offense was nearly all Derrick Rose tonight. He finished with 30 points on 16 shots, insanely efficient, and he still could (scarily) have been even better considering some of the 3-pointers he attempted. 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and the halftime highlight package from Mike Fratello focused on him setting a screen.

And yet, even considering all his brilliance (and placed alongside Rondo's opposite-of-brilliance, made to look even that much better), Rose still saw the Celtics hanging in close for much of the 3rd quarter. It was a game that felt better watching that the score indicated. But the Bulls have more than one star, and it was the defense that put the game out of reach. The Celtics couldn't run at all, matched their best playmakers (Pierce and the KG fadeaway) well, and looked completely stifled at points while they stared at a Davis 20 footer.
via Bulls take down Celtics with usual formula: Rose lights up, Defense shuts down - Blog a Bull.

Bulls-Celtics
Deng's contributions, not only Thursday night, but overall, lead you to understand how pivotal he is to the Bulls' success. The Bulls set the tone of this game early, going to Deng twice against Pierce while Rose remained off-ball. When the Celtics adjusted and started sending help, the Bulls switched gears and moved Rose into the focal point of the offense. But the start was enough to keep Deng involved which helped get his jumper wet later on. Deng's mid-range game is the equivalent of Lamar Odom's cuts to the basket. When he's making those types of plays, you throw up your hands and wonder what you can do against them. 

The reason the game felt better watching than the score indicated? Snail's pace. The game was plugged at an 85-possession pace. That's compared to the league-average 94-possessions pace.  Games at that pace make every make that much more effective and every miss that much more painful. And Glen Davis gave Celtics fans a lot of pain Thursday night. 
Can you imagine Rose behaving like Kobe or making statements like LeBron? Of course you can’t, because he hasn’t, and he wouldn’t (as far as we can tell three seasons into his career). Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to single out those two guys to bash them. Superstars have little patience for failure and tend to blast their coaches and teammates from time to time. Michael Jordan did it. He used to complain bitterly about Phil Jackson’s use of the triangle offense. He punched out both Will Perdue and Steve Kerr at practice. He called guys out to the press.

No, my point isn’t to punish LeBron, Kobe or MJ for how they express their competitive urges. I’m just trying to point out that Rose isn’t like anything we’ve ever seen. People have likened him to Allen Iverson, of all people, a man who refused to play on anybody’s terms but his own. Which is why that comparison is flawed to the point of senseless irresponsibility. While people are constructing statistical arguments that show Rose is a sort of Iverson 2.0, they should probably spend a little time watching him play, and following how he conducts himself.
via Statement Made: Bulls 97, Celtics 81 » By The Horns

You'll want to remember this later. Every star NBA player has this day. When everything is going right, and everyone loves him, and why can't others try and be a little more like him? Then eventually, things change, the media machine evolves, circumstances change, and the narrative shifts. Rose will have his own time of criticism not just from the media but from the fans. Or he'll become Michael Jordan. One or the other. Bulls fans will all say "No, you don't understand, Rose is different."  Because that's what everyone says at this special moment in time. That doesn't mean we shouldn't enjoy it. We should. Just keep it in your back pocket to look back on later. 
So Rondo requested a rare post-game meeting with Rivers likely to discuss matters. Rondo asked for the meeting and talked for a few minutes with Rivers in his office, perhaps to clear the air about play calling and Rondo's up-and-down performances.

After compiling 46 assists in the past four games, Rondo collected just six last night on 3-for-10 shooting. His counterpart, Derrick Rose, scorched the Celtics for 30 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals.

Rondo was visibly disappointed after the game.

"Think we need to play with a better sense of urgency," he said before his meeting with Rivers. “It better be a wakeup call, if not, we won’t make it far. We’re a completely different team (than last year). It’s not the same team. We’re not going to be able to turn it on like we did year. I don’t know what we’re waiting on but these types of games we have to find a way to win. It’s a roller-caster and right now we went back down today."
via Rondo, Rivers meet after Celtics loss -Celtics blog - Boston Globe basketball news.

It was bizarre to see Rondo steering through the lanes, then unable to find anyone for the kickout or dump-off and missing layups. In the continuing "taste of their own medicine" theme, Rondo was probably the one who found out what it's like on the other sideline the most. Watching a brilliant young point guard school him time and time again. And there's no real way to spin it. Rondo just got beat. It was a team effort, the help defense should have been better, and Ray Allen and Paul Pierce could have kicked it up a notch trying to get free. But this one falls on Rondo, not for lack of effort, but because them's the breaks of the game. We haven't seen the Rondo of early season for months. We're assuming we'll see him in the playoffs. Assuming.
"This meant a lot because you're going against a team you could see in the playoffs," Rose said. "You don't want those teams to have confidence. We were aggressive. There were some plays guys were about to fight. That's the way it's going to be. We're a tough team. We grind wins out."

About the only downer came when Joakim Noah grabbed just six rebounds in just 23 minutes and iced his swollen right ankle afterward. He didn't play the final 15:19. That meant extended minutes for Thomas, who got yanked down by Glen Davis early in the fourth and hovered over the fallen Celtic in a WWE moment.
via Chicago Bulls: Chicago Bulls romp over Boston Celtics 97-81 in playoff atmosphere - chicagotribune.com.

Deng also got into KG's ear after a box-out. He was chirping in Garnett's face, and Garnett just walked away. Thomas stood over Davis and the Celtics didn't retaliate. They helped Davis up and separated the two, but didn't shove or become aggressive. 

Whoever these Celtics are, they're nothing like what we've seen. 


Posted on: April 7, 2011 11:42 pm
 

Celtics have a big problem

The Boston Celtics have prided themselves on being bullies inside. The Bulls showed that identity may be in danger of losing its muscle.
Posted by Matt Moore




The entire time you read this, just imagine a big Kendrick-Perkins-shaped shadow cast over it. The trade is done and over. But that doesn't mean the unspoken question isn't going to be about the trade of Perkins to Oklahoma City. This Celtics team will be compared to the 2008 championship and 2010 Eastern Conference championship teams, and those teams were known for their tough play inside, thanks in large part but not entirely to Perkins. That trade will hang over the franchise should they fail to bring home No. 18. For now though, the trade is over, and the Celtics have to deal with what they have and who they are. Just know that it's there. 

Against the Bulls Thursday night, the Celtics had the idea early. They moved Jermaine O'Neal into space, guarded by Carlos Boozer, and O'Neal converted. In the first quarter, the objective was clear. Boozer is the Bulls' weakest defender. That's where the Celtics need to hit them. But then, for the next two quarters, the Celtics moved away from it. They repeatedly went to unstable dribbles on ther perimeter, trying to find passing lanes through a defense that must have seemed very familiar for them, the hounding, relentless style. The result was turnover after turnover leading to fast break opportunities, especially for Derrick Rose who carved them into pieces. 

In the third quarter, when the Celtics closed the gap aggressively, they went to Kevin Garnett in space against Joakim Noah. Garnett worked Noah in the post, nailing a turnaround baseline J, then a face-up jumper from mid-range.

And that pretty much sums up the Celtics' efforts to score in the paint. 

More on Bulls-Celtics
The Celtics are used to being bullies. The bigger, tougher, rougher team. And against the Bulls, they should be. Instead, the Bulls used effort and execution to overcome any size differential, flummoxed and frustrated the Celtics, and dropped them like a bad habit. Look at the autopsy on the box score. Kevin Garnett was 3-9, thanks to Noah being active and help coming from all over. But the real culprit was Glen Davis, who repeatedly stopped the ball in favor of leaning fadeaway turnarounds and contested face-ups. Davis doesn't recognize his role in the offense, having too often been given the green light like some sort of novelty act that went on stage so long it thought it was part of the main show. 

Jermaine O'Neal, the biggest player the Celtics have active, played just 16 minutes and had no rebounds. But he was more active and physical, and wound up with two blocks. The Celtics will point out they were without Shaquille O'Neal, which is true, and O'Neal definitely would have made a difference. But the Celtics have to accept they can't rely on him. Either Nenad Krstic, Troy Murphy, or Jermaine O'Neal is going to have to step up, and if not, Kevin Garnett is going to have to put together a series of games we haven't seen since the middle of the 2000's. 

Which is still possible. The Celtics can turn it on when the second season comes. They did it last year. But the difference is that they look significantly different as that tough, brutal team that punished teams inside. Forget about the offense. Derrick Rose had an open invitation to the lane, and instead of winding up on the floor headed to the line, sore from a border-line flagrant, he swooped on through. That's not the Celtics we've come know. 

Derrick Rose put the finishing touches on his MVP season Thursday night. The question is if the game also served as a red flag that the Celtics' recent stumbles aren't a matter of effort and boredom, but legitimate issues with what they've come to pride themselves on. The Celtics have had a huge muscle advantage on the league for three years. The Bulls on Thursday showed that if you execute cleanly, the Celtics are no longer in a position to shove back. They have nine days to get that muscle back.
Posted on: March 31, 2011 4:01 pm
Edited on: April 1, 2011 1:08 am
 

Lamar Odom was the total sixth man this season

Posted by Royce Young

_

Like most of the others, the Sixth Man Award is pretty vague. Is it for a player that actually is the sixth guy in the rotation? Is it for a bench player, exclusively? Can a guy that started almost half his team's games win it?

According to the rules, yes. To be eligible, you just have to come off the bench more games than you started. Lamar Odom is just barely eligible (34 starts, 39 off the bench). But in a way, that's one of the best parts of his Sixth Man resume.

Odom has filled in everywhere this season for the Lakers. Power forward, center, small forward. The guy is maybe the most versatile player in the league. And it's not like he's done a good job. He's done a fantastic job.

At 14.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game on nearly 54 percent shooting (almost 60 percent true shooting, the highest of his career) and a PER of 19.88, Odom might be having his best, most efficient season of his career.

He's always been sort of the X-factor for the Lakers because of his unique skillset. And he's always been very good for them in whatever role he's used. But his main issue has been consistency. This season, he's been reliable almost every single night. When that happens not only is he one of the most dynamic players in basketball, but the Lakers are maybe the toughest team to beat.

Look at what he did in the World Championships in Turkey. Playing as one of the only big men on the United States roster, Odom was absolutely vital to the team bringing home gold for the first time in 16 years. His value to a team can't be understated. Things like points and rebounds per game don't often do him justice. Most felt Odom was an All-Star snub for his efforts this season, despite his apparently "low" numbers.

Not that his numbers are bad, though. He's second in scoring off the bench and first in rebounds. He's 10th in the entire league in field goal percentage and among power forwards (if that's what he even is), he's fifth in assists per game. However you cut it, Odom has had a great year.

There are other very nice candidates, no doubt. Jason Terry of course, Jamal Crawford, Thaddeus Young, Glen Davis and a few others. Sixth Man is sort of one of those hard to figure awards because you have to try and measure production versus impact off the bench versus value to the team versus other intangibles. What separates Odom, for me, is that he encapulates everything you want in a role player. Able to step in and start three positions. Able to play in crunch time. Able to take over a game on his own, if needed. And always productive. Checks across the board.

That's not always been the case for Odom as when his career wraps, I think we'll all look at his incredibly unique skills and ability and wonder if he underachieved. I don't necessarily see it that way -- especially these last few seasons with the Lakers -- because fitting in next to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol is hard. Really hard.

NBA Awards
For guys like Terry and Crawford, they basically know what they're called on to do. Terry is to play second fiddle to Dirk and score in bunches. Same for Crawford off the Atlanta bench. But Odom has to manage how he fits next to being productive. That's really, really challenging. And a reason stats don't always tell the story.

Odom really feels like the one player out of this group that if you subtracted him, his team would be cost a substantial number of wins. I really think he's that valuable to what the Lakers do. Just the options he gives Phil Jackson late in games to match up or create mismatches with.

Really, the best argument there is right now as to why not to vote for Odom is because he started so many games. As long as he's within the rules, it doesn't matter to me and again, I kind of like that. Like I said, being the type of play that's able to fill in wherever is needed is what makes a great sixth man.

Being a bench player is something Odom has said is sort of hard for him to grasp, because he knows how good he is. He was the No. 4 overall pick of the Clippers in 1997 and has the ability to start for basically everyone.

"At first, it was hard for me," Odom told reporters recently. "From a business standpoint, the year Phil wanted me to come off the bench was my free agent year. You know how that goes. When you're a free agent, you want to start and play as many minutes as you can. But it was the right decision.

"As a sportsman, you're used to starting," he continued. "I used to be one of the guys and go to guys on the team. I'd be lying if I told you it didn't. I'll be honest with you, a little bit. I've always started for every team I was on and was one of the first three options."

And that sort of mentality is exactly what makes a guy a great team player and a great sixth man. A lot of guys with the kind of profile Odom has and talent aren't willing to sacrifice minutes and a starting spot. Odom is, while still playing at one of the highest levels he ever has.



 
 
 
 
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