Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Heat 120 - Celtics 107 : Let the Games Begin

Based on a one game evaluation, I think we can all agree Ray Allen may have made the right decision to bring his talents to South Beach. Last nights 120-107 loss to the hands of Allen, Lebron James and the Miami Heat certainly wasn't what the Boston Celtics had in mind to start out the season. 

On a night where they watched Miami hoist the NBA Champions banner, the C's then went out and were completely out played. The Celtics had no answer for Lebron, couldn't defend in transition, and did not get the production from their bench that was talked about so much coming into the night. 

Here's my five points you should take away from last nights game:

1. The Celtics Defense needs to improve.

Normally, if you quickly look at the box score and see that the Celtics scored 107 points, it would be safe to assume they won the game, considering their reputation on defense. Last night, it was a different story. They allowed 31 points in each of the first three quarters, which is absolutely unheard of for the Doc Rivers led Celtics. We saw their inability to defend the pick and roll all throughout the preseason. Most thought, including me, they would fix that before the regular season. Last night however, it was not only the pick and roll they had trouble slowing down it was just an outright sloppy performance from the defense.

2. Did Jeff Green forget there was a game last night?

Not only was last night the debut for Allen in a Heat uniform, it was supposed to be the unveiling of the potent combination of bench players the Celtics acquired in the off season. Jason Terry, Jeff Green, and Jared Sullinger were basically invisible the entire night. This was especially disappointing from Jeff Green who many had high hopes for coming into the season after a stellar preseason. 
Green looked hesitant on the offensive end and lost on the defensive end. Yes, to his credit he was dealing with Lebron James who looked unstoppable last night, but in all it was a very disappointing showing for Green.  Only scoring three points in 23 minutes. That's not gonna cut it Jeff.

3. Rajon Rondo: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

We saw all sides of Rajon Rondo last night. His actual play was really good last night. He ended the game with 20 points, 13 assists, and 7 rebounds. He was also key in the run the Celtics made in the fourth quarter, he was constantly attacking the rim and getting his floater which is great news for the Celtics. The bad was his awful technical foul that granted was a missed call by the ref who was right there, but it took the wind out of the sails of the Celtics when trying to make a comeback. The ugly, was his pay back on Wade at the end of the game. The hard foul was late, uncalled for, and just goes to show that Rondo still has those maturity issues that have haunted him his entire career. 

4. Lebron James is a lock for MVP.

Last night James played like it was game 6 in the Eastern Conference Finals. 26 points in 29 minutes, and if he didn't leave the fourth with cramps he probably would have dropped 40, and the Celtics would not have been in the game at the end. 
Watch out NBA, if James is going to play like this all year long its going to be a pretty easy ride for the Heat back to repeating. 

5. Leandro Barbosa looked promising.

Could this have been a one hit wonder? We shall see but bottom line he was key last night in the fourth quarter knocking down jumpers and driving to the hole. He will be a great last minute pick up for the C's to back up Rondo if he is able to shoot like that. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Causeway Street's 2012 Boston Celtics Predictions

Opening night has finally arrived. As the Celtics look to get revenge on Miami tonight and begin the season on a good note, its time for us here at Causeway Street to make our predictions for the upcoming season.

What will be the Celtics regular season record when its all said and done?

Josue :  Celtics Record 52-30
Due mainly to the emergence of Rajon Rondo

Joel : Celtics Record: 58-24 Given all the adversity this team had to go through last season, and all the new pieces added this season (only five players are returning from 2011-12 squad). Doc Rivers and CO where only 48 minutes away from a third trip to the NBA finals in five years. With that being said, I’m looking at this season as similar to the 2007-2008 year where everyone had Detroit Pistons (had five straight ECF appearances prior to 08’) not only as the favorite to come out of the East but a good chance to win it all. Obviously the Heat are defending champs, but who gave them the most problems in the playoff this past spring? I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t OKC!

Heenehan : 66-16
I have very high expectations for this 2013 Celtics team, however the Eastern Conference is loaded with talent rich teams that I suspect will take games down to the wire. Expect the C’s to have an impressive home stand and maybe run into some trouble while out on ever-grinding road stretches.

Dutra:  50-32
The Celtics will still be the most impressive team in the Atlantic Division. However, it looks like these teams will beat the crap out of each other all year. Yes, the Celtics are better than they were last year but I do not think whatsoever that the emphasis will be on the regular season. Rest is key especially for the veterans. 

Who will be the Celtics MVP?

Josue : Rajon Rondo
This will be his career year. He will lead the the league in assists and will be an NBA MVP candidate. Rondo now feels more comfortable than ever about his scoring ability and his confidence is through the roof.

Joel : Rajon Rondo
When the smoke has cleared every postseason since 2009(16PPG/10.2APG/7RPG), who is everyone talking about as the Celtics best performer? Rondo knows what it takes to get this team to the top and its time for everyone to be let in on his little secret; he is the best pure guard in this league, period. He makes players like Leon Powe, Greg Stiemsma, and even Tony Allen look good. He knows how to get you the ball and where you want it (Good luck #34 on those touches in M.I.A.). Bottom line he affects the game without having to score much, imagine when he starts hitting those 15-footers and free-throws constantly this year? It’s scary, but yet comforting at the same time. League MVP is not so far fetched, when you realize his time is now.

Heenehan: Rajon Rondo.
His floor leadership and mutual trust with Doc will never be stronger. Any success that this team will have starts and ends with Rondo.

Dutra: Kevin Garnett
We saw it last year. When Kevin Garnett is on the floor for the Celtics they have the ability to keep up with any team in the league. Yeah, Rondo may be the most talented player on the squad but they will only go as far as KG will take them. Check out the ridiculous plus/minus from last years playoffs. +138. Ridiculous for a 36 year old power forward playing center.

What or who will be the biggest surprise of the Celtics regular season?

Josue: Jared Sullinger
Sullinger will be a great rebounder who will give the Celtics lots of second chance opportunities. He will also surprise people with good one-on-one defense.

Joel: Darko Milicic
Let’s give it a rest for the labeling him the biggest # 2 draft pick bust in history already. I’ve seen worst players, trust me (anyone remember the Candyman?). Detroit would have two more rings right now had they gone with Carmelo. But what’s done is done, and 10 years later the Celtics have exactly what they need; a quality big man who can rebound and block shots, and score when asked to. The best part aside from the fact you can rest KG more and he was signed relatively cheap, he is 27 folks. How many big men were actually available this off-season under 30?

Heenehan: Jared Sullinger
Well it might not be “surprise” but I think Jared Sullinger will be a stand-out rookie that will have more of an impact on this team then we know at this point. His ability to play strong around the glass can provide much needed relief to Garnett and the other bigs.

Dutra: Jared Sullinger
A rookie making an impact on the Celtics his first year???? Boston hasn't seen that since Paul Pierce came to town. On top of that, there is talk he could crack the starting line up. Sullinger has to be the biggest surprise this year if he comes in and produces. A lot for a guy who was viewed as damaged goods in the draft. Good gamble on this pick Danny, now Fab Melo.....eeeehhhhhh time will tell.

Make your Bold Prediction for the upcoming Celtics season.

Josue: Seven players will average double figures in scoring.
In this order: Pierce, Garnett, Rondo, Terry, Bass, Green & Lee (he'll average 9, count it)

Joel: Celtics will finish with a better record than Miami.
Believe it or not Miami has not been the favorite to come out of the East the last two years. It’s been Chicago. Who knows what would have happened with a healthy Rose. Then again who knows what would have happened with a healthy Green, Wilcox, Bradley, O’ Neal, Paul and even # 20. See where I’m going with this? The Celtics are by far the deepest team in the league, better than San Antonio was last season. They have legit depth at every position, so health in my opinion should not be the Celtics kryptonite like has been the previous four years. Plus Boston has won the season battle between them the last two years combined. If Miami is the only thing standing in the way of being able to play for a ring, I like their chances. If it comes down to a game seven again, trust me you won’t see the bench scoring 19-2 in favor of the Heat!    

Heenehan: Jason Terry will win his second Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Mainly due to his outstanding play and Doc’s clever use of the bench throughout the year, Terry will thrive in Boston and the experts will notice.

Dutra: Jeff Green, not Jason Terry will be the NBA's sixth man of the year.
We've seen what he is capable of this preseason and it truly wouldn't surprise me if he takes home this award by the seasons end. I think he will be a definite spark off the bench bringing an aspect of athleticism that the Celtics haven't seen. If Green can keep up his production from the preseason and the hunger to show the league he is back from all his setbacks, Green will win the 6th man of the year award this year.

2012-13: The Beginning of the Rondo Era

Here we go.

It's not a question anymore, not even just a thought. This is his team. Welcome to the Rajon Rondo era.

After years of being the floor general for the seasoned veterans, Rondo has grown up in front of our own eyes. His jaw-dropping passes, tenacious defense and unbelievable athleticism has had his critics searching and reaching for flaws throughout his entire career.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Celtics Reloaded Pt. III : Breaking Down Atlantic Division

A lot has been made about the Celtics gearing up for the Miami Heat coming into this season. The Heat are the NBA champions, and obviously the road to Eastern Conference supremacy will ultimately go through Lebron and company. However, the Celtics will have to match-up with divisional foes all year  in the much improved Atlantic Division.

The Celtics, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, and Philadelphia 76er's make up arguably the best division in the NBA. Every team in the division has made off season moves to challenge for not only the division title but to potentially be championship contenders. It is a far cry from past years when the Atlantic Division was really a laughing stock, with the Nets, Knicks, 76er's and Raptors finishing under .500. 

When the division was so weak, Doc Rivers was able to get his Celtics team to dominate these teams and have won the Atlantic Division six out of the eight years he has been with the team. However, this seasons divisional competition will by far be the toughest the Doc and the Celtics will have to deal with. 

So how will the Celtics fare? Lets break it down team by team. 

Toronto Raptors

Last seasons record: 23-43 (4th in Atlantic Division)
Key Contributors : Jonas Valanciunas, Kyle Lowry, Landry Fields, Jose Calderon, and Demar Derozan
Chances of Atlantic Divison Title : 100-1

The 100-1 odds to win the division is probably too high. The ceiling for the Toronto Raptors is to some how scrap there way through the regular season and grab the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. They have added a lot of youth to an already young team.  Demar Derozan has developed over the past few years in to an up and coming prospect. but to think he is ready to lead his team to the playoffs may be a few years away.

The most interesting thing to watch for this year will be the development of there 2010 draft pick Jonas Valanciunas.  He will make his debut for the Raptors after spending another year in Europe. The seven footer from Lithuania has a lot riding on him. In Toronto, he is all ready being called the savior for a franchise that has been marred by irrelevancy.

The Celtics cant overlook this youthful bunch. If Toronto is committed to running the floor  against the Celtics, it could cause some issues for the Green. Realistically, the Raptors are truly 3-4 years away from being any type of legitimate contender, but they are definitely improving slowly but surely. Look for the Celtics to dominate Toronto this year, because the Raptors just ain't good enough to win. 

Brooklyn Nets

Last seasons record: 22 -43 (5th in Atlantic)
Key Contributors : Deron Williams,  Joe Johnson, Marshon Brooks, Brook Lopez, and Gerald Wallace
Chances of Atlantic Division Title : 15-1 odds

All the talk of the Nets finally becoming a contender to win the East, I think is a little bit overdone.  Re-signing Deron Williams was huge, but they have made a few questionable decisions this off season that may handicap them in the coming years. 

First off, trading for Joe Johnson and his ridiculously inflated contract was done for no other reason but to make a splash for their new home. Johnson may be one of the most overrated players in the game. Maybe teaming him up with Williams will rejuvenate his slowly declining career, but he will never be worth the money that the front office is investing in him. Also can someone explain to me how is Brook Lopez, who has proved nothing but he is injury prone and cannot rebound, worth a max deal??

Regardless of there questionable off season additions the Nets are a better team than years past. They are going to be fun to watch and will give the Celtics a run for their money defending their division title. However, the Celtics match up extremely well on paper with the Nets. The Nets have no real answer for Garnett and Pierce has proven time and time again that Gerald Wallace has no chance of guarding him. Also depth wise the Celtics have a clear advantage.

This could be the start of an epic rivalry at the point guard position. Rajon Rondo vs Deron Williams has all the makings of a must watch match-up. These two have been arguably the best point guard in the league for stints over recent years. The battle between these two has been overlooked over the past years because, well frankly, the Nets have sucked ass. Now that both teams will be battling for a division crown we should be able to enjoy the two stars going at it 6 times a year.

New York Knicks 

Last seasons record: 36-30 (2nd in Atlantic Division)
Key Contributors:  Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, Iman Shumpert
Chances of Atlantic Division Title:  20-1 odds

The Knicks were very hot and cold last season, and this year will most likely be the same streaky team. There are questions that surround this Knick team that have been unanswered since the arrival of Carmelo Anthony to The Big Apple. It has yet to be seen if Carmelo can play in a system that doesn't revolve around him every single possession. That will be the biggest thing that Coach Mike Woodson will have to prove early this year. Is it possible to motivate one of the biggest divas in the league to sacrifice his stats for the greater good of the team? We shall see...

Then there is the GM James Dolan. He thought that bringing in probably the oldest free agent class of all time of Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, and Marcus Camby was a good idea. He also couldn't let little Jeremy Lin hurt his feelings and actually use the Houston offer as leverage to negotiate a contract; even after he promised he would do everything he could to keep Lin in NY.  Even with his mind boggling moves, the Knicks should win a few games this year in spite on their GM.

The Celtics and Knicks have been the two strongest teams in the division in the past two years. They have played memorable games with most of the time the Celtics getting the best of New York. Here's basically what it comes down to, the Knicks need Melo to be a TEAM player and play incredible defense, which they are more than capable of doing, to have a chance to take the division title from the Celtics.

If they are playing with all cylinders firing, they are a tough match up for the Celtics, but they C's have them beat in one department, and that's who is running the point. They will need to have an answer for Rondo, which could be Iman Shumpert, who is probably their best perimeter defender. Other than that look for Rondo to single handily give Knicks fans nightmares throughout the regular season, and playoffs if the stars align.

Philadelphia 76er's

Last seasons record: 35-31 (3rd in Atlantic Division)
Key Contributors : Andrew Bynum, J'rue Holliday, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Lavoy Allen.Chances of Atlantic Division Title : 7-1 odds*

Why the asteric?

Well, Philly went out this off season and acquired Andrew Bynum, who is hands down the best center in the East. He is also hands down the most injury prone player in the Eastern Conference. So they traded their best player in Andre Iguodala, and watched Lou Williams go in free agency to put all their eggs in Bynum's basket just to find out he's not ready to go to start the season. Tough pill to swallow if you are Doug Collins.

Should the 76er's stay healthy however they have a legitimate chance of knocking the C's off from the top of the Atlantic Division. We all saw what type of match up problems they can create against the Celtics when they pushed the Green to game seven in the Eastern Conference Semi's last year.  The Celtics were able to address the glaring reason the 76er's were able to push them to game seven last year, by adding depth and bench scoring.

If everything goes there way they do have a lot going for them. Good coach, great bigs, young and improving point guard, and experience in big games after last post season. The bottom line though, they go as far as Bynum can take them on 1 1/2 knees.

-Sean Dutra
Get at me on Twitter @seandutra

Ubuntu lingers in the Celtics' locker room

Kita Matungulu offered philosophies and techniques that Doc Rivers will be using for the rest of his coaching days.

The South African head of the basketball organization, Hoops 4 Hope, has been an observer at every Celtics training camp (except for one) in the last ten years. Last season's lockout kept him home in Cape Town, but this season he's back, observing Rivers' new plan and building up an early sense of excitement.

Matungulu comes from the land of Ubuntu, the African ethic of teamwork and community. In 2007, the Celtics believed in his teachings and was something that was instilled in the team throughout the entire season. Although he didn't give Rivers the idea of adopting Ubuntu as a team-wide mantra prior to the Celtics' 2008 title season, Matungulu's admiration was forever sealed.

The Celtics teams that followed, in Matungulu's opinion, didn't uphold the standard. But after returning to the team's facility in Waltham this fall, he saw a difference.
"I would say this is the most similar to 2008," he said. "You had guys who took their jobs very seriously when they crossed the line. You can see it with Jason Terry and with Courtney, and with Jeff Green."
He's seen a difference this season than he has in the past few seasons.
 "This team has more Ubuntu than some of the teams that have been here. They help one another, they talk to one another, they share ideas, they share concepts. They haven't officially used it, but they have it. Someone told me hey, you have to give them Ubuntu, but surprisingly they already have it. They may not use the word, because it was associated with the group that won (the 2008 NBA title), but they are playing that way"
Of course the team is much different than 2008's group. Pierce, Garnett and Rondo are the only players who were on that team. Even Allen, who of course went to Miami in a very un-Ubuntu fashion, is gone. Matungulu senses there is a void, and like much of the Celtics organization, is unsettled by the thought of Allen as a member of the Heat.  
"It's hard to hear some of those words coming from him, because that's not the Ray we know," he said. "It's very strange, very strange. I'm so used to Ray. Usually we would sit somewhere and have some frank conversations because he's a nice guy."
But according to Matungulu, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry have a lot in common with the '08 group.
"I remember Tony, Tony Allen," said Matungulu. "He was on Paul all of the time, and he used to make Paul better. Back then you had guys who, when they decided they were going to take you out, like James Posey, (Kendrick) Perkins and Tony Allen, there was no stopping them," he said. "These aren't the same guys, but you can see the same type of players with Jeff Green, Kris Joseph, Courtney, Jason, even Darko, so you have a sense of we're nice guys, but you're going to have to work for your stuff. All of these guys are very nice guys, but there is a similar feeling."

Josue Pavon

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dooling: Allen talked to media more than C's

As a complete outsider, it's tough to tell what really goes on inside the seemingly tight knit Celtics locker room. It seems at no time has this dynamic been questioned more now that Ray Allen has taken his talents to South Beach while leaving Boston media to rake through his ambiguous quotes.

Many talking heads point to Rondo as being a pivotal memeber of Allen leaving due to the floor general's mid season request for Avery Bradley to start at shooting guard. This is where it starts to get a bit grey for almost everybody because you have to believe there is a ton of mutual respect between the players and the media tend to skew those ambiguous quotes.

With this said, I think Jackie MacMullen turned to the most open and clear (former) Celtic and a Causeway Street favorite, Keyon Dooling. Dooling's transparency on the Allen/Rondo situation is highly refreshing:
"Rondo learned a lot from him-- how to prepare, how to take care of his body, how to be professional. Ray was great in many ways," said Dooling. "Ray didn't know how to communicate with Rondo they way some of us could, like myself, like KG, who fully embraced Rajon. I love Ray. I love his family. He's a true pro. But it's unfair how this all came out. Ray had such a good relationship with all the reporters and Rondo was so quiet. So who gets all the good press?"
Dooling makes a very bold yet simple claim that is proven almost daily; the player who is media friendly and provides the perfect sound clips will generally have it easier dealing with tougher issues. It also does not help that Rondo could almost be the antithesis of Allen's media presence with a stubborn, short cut competitive attitude next to a savvy verteran. Even with all the issues, I am sure Ray and Rajon will have a repectful and possibly heartfelt embrace before Tuesday's game.

-Sean Heenehan

Bass or Sullinger?

Due to the immediate impact of Jared Sullinger, there has been a debate among Celtics fans about if the rookie should start in place of Brandon Bass this season.

Sullinger has raised eye brows because of his ability to rebound the ball and score in the paint. When asked about the potential switch, Bass didn't seemed phased by it. A trust has been instilled in the coaching and decision-making of Doc Rivers. Bass, who just signed a three-year contract extension, and is in a position battle with rookie Jared Sullinger, said it best:
"Man, I'm not going to get into all that stuff about starting, not starting," Bass told That's Doc [Rivers'] call. What he says, that's how it goes." 
Starting Sullinger over Bass potentially disrupts the chemistry of the starting lineup. It's no coincidence that Bass scores best when Rondo is out there on the court with him. Although Sullinger's rebounding ability was impressive throughout the preseason, those numbers will not be the same if he's a starter in the NBA. Sullinger hasn't played against the best front courts in the league yet. But Brandon has.

Sullinger would shine best off the bench and contribute with the rest of starters in situations when Garnett needs rest. Sullinger, Bass and Pierce is a strong frontcourt. And what I like about it best? It doesn't involve Garnett. Celtics couldn't put together a lineup last season that included a rebounder (Sullinger) and a pick-and-pop forward (Bass) with Garnett on the bench. But they can now.

According to A. Sherrod Blakely, signs point to Bass as a starting against the Heat in the season opener on Tuesday. It makes the most sense for Bass to start against the Heat in the opener because this one is personal for Brandon. Bass, along with the rest of the starting lineup (minus Lee), played a grueling seven-game series against the Heat last season in the Conference Finals and hope to spoil their home opener.

Also, it will be no surprise if we see Bass help guard LeBron James like he did during last year's series. In that time, it was Bass who matched up well against James. But such a move would be a tough for Sullinger, a rookie playing in his first regular season game.

Although he should begin the season as a reserve, it wouldn't shock me if he ends up stealing a starting job by the end of the season. Sullinger will be a top rookie in this league whether he starts or not, and his basketball IQ will only get better. 

Earlier this week, it was reported that Doc will be using three starting lineups throughout the season.

Lineup #1- Garnett-Bass-Pierce-Lee-Rondo
Lineup #2- Garnett-Sullinger-Pierce-Lee-Rondo
Lineup #3- Garnett-Green-Pierce-Lee-Rondo

Rivers says he will decide which lineup to use depending on the opponent. I like the idea of seeing all three lineups but think Lineup #1 will be best, and the most commonly used starting five. I love the combination of Lee and Rondo in the backcourt. Lee really gells with the starting group, and has been a great receiver for Rondo in the fast break.

Doc will be making decisions like these all season. And they will only get tougher for the coach. Next big decision for Doc is already coming up in a couple of months; 'Lee or Bradley?'

To be continued...

Josue Pavon

2012- 13 Player Profiles: Avery Bradley

6'2" 180lbs
21 Years Old

Avery Antonio Bradley Jr. was born on November 26, 1990 in Tacoma, Washington. He was ranked as the #1 high school basketball player in the class of 2009. He led Findlay College Prep to a National Championship, beating Oak Hill Academy 56-53. Later that year, he played in the McDonald's All-American Game and won the All-American Dunk Contest.

He attended the University of Texas. Bradley had always been a follower of the program, and enjoyed watching former Longhorns like T.J. Ford. During his freshman year (his only year at the program), he averaged 12 points per game for Texas, and later that year declared he would be entering the 2010 NBA Draft.

Avery was selected as the 19th pick by the Celtics, but was assigned to the Maine Red Claws of the D-League a few months later. On February 6th, 2011, following a spinal cord injury suffered by his teammate Marquis Daniels, Bradley was called up to the Celtics roster, where he remained for the remainder of the season.

Although he wasn't in the rotation for much of his rookie season, it looked like A.B. would play a major role in the backcourt come his second year with the Celtics. The coaching staff wanted Bradley to play behind Rondo as the backup point guard, something the Celtics didn't have. It was quickly learned, mostly because of early season injuries and the NBA lockout, Avery was better suited as a two-guard and even playing alongside Rondo at times.

Once #20 and Mickael Pietrus were both out due to injuries, it was time for the second year guard to show what he can do as a starter. In 28 games in his new found position, he averaged 12.3 points a game, while shooting over 50 percent from the floor/47 percent from behind the arc. It was clear he would remain in this role even after #20 returned from his injury. What was even more exciting was the defense Avery was displaying, especially, guarding players such as Dwayne Wade and Russell Westbrook.

Unfortunately, as the was the case for most of the roster last season, Avery was bit by the injury bug when he dislocated his left shoulder during the second round of the playoffs agasint the 76ers. He already was having issues with his right shoulder and would even have both shoulders at various times throughout the season be "poped" back into place. That can only be done so many times; it was evident that he needed to be shut down to surgically repair them both.

Now in his rehabbing stage, Avery is about a month and a half away from his target date to return to action with his teammates. If there was any doubt that this young guard doesn't have any "grit and balls" think again. Last postseason was proof he is ready to take off in a big way, as he will be a key piece of the puzzle, especially come playoff time. HIs tenacious D and his ability to slash and cut to the hoop are invaluable, especialyl when playing with a point guard like Rondo!

It's assumed Bradley will start once he comes back, but the way Lee has picked up the offense and has gotten more used to playing with Rajon, it really does no matter who starts or comes from the bench, to be honest. There goes that thing the Celtics haven't had in four years, that's five you goosebumps when you think about it, what's that called again? Oh, that's right, depth. There is no telling what DOc has in mind once everyone is together and HEALTHY, ready to make that run. Look for Bradley to double his scoring from last season (at least 13ppg), and be at the top of the short list when it comes to being a top perimeter defender in this league... Tony Allen who?!?

Joel Pavón

Celtics Hold Open Practice

Garnett stops to sign autographs at the conclusion of the open pratice
The Celtics held their annual open practice at the TD Garden on Sunay, before flying down to Miami in advance, for their season opener against the Heat. With Hurricane Sandy rapidly approaching the Celtics changed their plans of flying out after Monday's practice.

Instead they will fly out a day early and land in Miami Sunday night.
The annual open practice, held for ticket holders, was a regular team practice. Instead of having the usual open practice format, which usually includes a scrimmage of the starters versus the reserves, coach Rivers wanted to keep his boys focused by having an average practice for the crowd.
"It's so close to our first game, so we wanted to get some actual work in," said Rivers. "I actually liked the fact that there was a crowd. We hadn't seen one in a while, maybe that'll help."
The annual open practice is usually held early in the preseason. And although there wasn't a lot of 5 on 5 going on, season ticket-holders still filled the seats and watched their team run through various plays and drills. Paul Pierce was impressed with the size of the crowd, and talked about how passionate his fans are.
"The fans really love us," said Pierce. "We were joking, this would have been a packed arena in the Hawks arena. These people come out, watch our practice, that just shows the loyalty and the type of fans we have around here. Just to come out here and check us out for about an hour and a half. It's like no other place"
The crowd were eventually rewarded with a 5 on 5 scrimmage. One play that stood out was a left-handed dunk by Jeff Green who slamed it over Fab Melo off of a pass from Pierce.

Towards the end of the practice, a "Beat the Heat" chant started among the crowd and the players, and the coach?
"I think Doc might have kicked that off," said Terry. "But I wasn't far behind."
Celtics will practice tomorrow morning in Miami before their Tuesday night season opener against the Heat.

Josue Pavon

2012-13 Player Profiles: Jared Sullinger

20 Years Old
Power Forward

Jared Sullinger was born on March 4, 1992 in Columbus, Ohio. By his senior year, he had led Northland High School to a 21-0 season and a #1 national ranking. After a successful high school career, Sullinger was heavily recruited but ultimately committed to Ohio State, where his brother J.J. also attended, and played for coach Thad Mtta as well. The Buckeyes made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the 2011 NCAA tournament as the number one seed (32-2), where they fell to Kentucky, 62-60. 

His sophomore season would be his final year at Ohio State. Sullinger led the Buckeyes this time around to a 31-8 overall record. They would eventually lose to Kansas in the Final Four of the 2012 NCAA tournament. Five days after the loss the two-time AP All American declared he would be entering the 2012 NBA draft.

At Ohio State Jared averaged 17.3 points and 10 rebounds a game and was widely expected to be a lottery pick. After the Chicago pre-draft camp he was reportedly flagged by several teams for having back issues. To the Boston Celtics’ surprise, he was still available when it came to their pick. On June 29, 2012, Sullinger was selected as the 21st overall draft pick by Danny Ainge and Co. He looks to make an immediate impact to a frontcourt that is poised for a championship run.

What can be expected of the 20-year old rook? Well, after an impressive pre-season and training camp, Sully has shown he is far more along basketball wise than anybody expected, including Doc. 
"He does a lot of things good, he has a veteran mind, [he] does not play like a young guy," said Rivers. "He's just a good spirit and it's good to have him in the locker room."
This is the best forward Danny has drafted since Al Jefferson in 2004, and they feel like Jared is the steal of the draft. J.S. is ready mentally and physically to be a factor for the C’s this year as they try to raise banner # 18. He averaged 11 and seven in 26 minutes over eight games, while starting a few times and providing a spark with the second unit throughout the pre-season. He shot an impressive 56 percent from the field and knocked down 85 percent of his free throws.

Sullinger has quickly caught the attention of his teammates, especially the elder statesman himself, KG, who has a true appreciation for what the 'young-blood' has been doing. 

"His IQ of basketball is very high, very good hands and work ethic. I always say young guys come off, sometimes, entitled. He is very gullible. I mean that in a good way. He works very hare, he is very attentive, he wants to be better... I'm giving him the book, teaching him everything I know." (Kevin Garnett)
I think this rookie will surprise the league. The numbers he has put up should not be far off from his season average depending on how many minutes Doc feels comfortable about giving. His talent for rebounding, especially, on the offensive glass, cannot be ignored. Sullinger will be the Celtics' best offensive rebounder and possibly play some five as well. Whether he's a starter or a bench commodity (hopefully a hybrid of both), the maturity level of play and of what he can emerge to become, is nothing short of exciting for Boston this year and beyond. Welcome to the Bean, Sully! Wait until you see the signs come March at the Gahhden...

Joel Pavón

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Leandro Barbosa, Chris Wilcox cleared to play

Coach Doc Rivers has expressed throughout the preseason that he wants to speed up the team's pace offensively for the upcoming regular season. The Celtics increased their speed Wednesday in practice by adding two players: Leandro Barbosa and Chris Wilcox.

It was Barbosa's first official practice since joining the Celtics and Wilcox's first practice since being sidelined with a back injury earlier this month. Both players will be vital pieces for the second unit. They'll help jump start the transition offense for the bench, alongside Jeff Green and Jason Terry.

Last season, the Celtics struggled with their transition offense, mostly because of injuries to Wilcox and Green. This season, the Celtics have a lot of depth in their back court, especially with the addition of another ball handler in Barbosa.
"He had a great practice," Rivers said of Barbosa. "He's just a backup player, so he'll play '1' or '2.' I don't know if we have a backup '1.' It's going to be him and [Terry] on the court- they'll figure it out"
Barbosa is still getting used to things in Boston but is very much looking forward to the upcoming season with his new team.
"I have to get to know the plays, the defense, and all the things they've been doing in training camp," Barbosa said. "It was OK, the coaches give me a lot of attention, they help me a lot. I wasn't playing that much back in Brazil but I think I'm OK so far. I will pick it up little by little."
Being a Celtic, has reminded Barbosa of his days in Phoenix because of the team's versatility.
"I was at the Phoenix Suns a couple of years ago and I think we had a couple weapons like they have here. So it's just fun to be here and see how many weapons we have together. It will be hard for Doc to make the combinations on the court and positions. It's a great team and I think everybody is trying to give a good effort so we can go to the championship."
Wilcox traveled to Europe with the Celtics but didn't play a game. He's been rehabbing his back throughout the preseason, and is now ready to start the regular season.
"It's the first day, so I didn't expect too much, back feels great, everything felt great," Wilcox said. "So hopefully [it'll] keep up. I'm coming from scratch right now, so everything I do is trying to improve, trying to get better. I'm just out here working and feeling out where I need to be and getting back in the flow of things."
With the additions of Barbosa and Wilcox, the Celtics undoubtedly have the most versatile bench in the NBA. The only question is: How will Doc use it? With a plethora of combinations, it'll be interesting to see how he'll mix the reserves with the starters. I for one, would love to see a lineup of Barbosa, Wilcox, Pierce and Green on the wings and Sullinger as the 4. That would be my ideal small-ball lineup for the Celtics. Or, the Rondo-Terry backcourt along with Wilcox, Green and Pierce. Or, a frontcourt of Wilcox, Lee and Sullinger alongside Rondo and Terry. Or! Alright, I could do this for hours, but I digress. In other words, Doc has his hands full. But that's a problem I'm sure he doesn't mind having.

Josue Pavon


2012-13 Player Profiles : Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett has com a long way since being drafted straight out of high school in 1995. He has almost had two separate careers. In his first 12 seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves he was arguably the best power forward in the league over that stint, sharing the title with Tim Duncan of the Spurs.  

He won the MVP in 03-04 and in that season single handedly brought the Timberwolves to the best record in the Western Conference and a birth in the Western Conference Finals. This was a lot more impressive when you look at his supporting cast that year. The starting lineup for that team was ... are you ready...... Garnett, Sam Cassel, Latrell Sprewell, Ervin Johnson, and Trenton Hassel.  And people wonder why he never won a championship in Minnesota. 

His career took a turn for the better when he was traded to a team that actually had NBA players on it in 2007 when he was traded to Boston. He not only changed his jersey but transformed his style of game. Dealing with 2 other bona-fide superstars Garnett had to sacrifice his scoring, but what he lost there he made up on the defensive end. Leading the Celtics to the #1 defense in the league and an NBA Championship. 

Last year Garnett was 36 but played like that 26 year old player from Minnesota down the stretch. He was rejuvenated at the end of the season using his age as added motivation to prove the world and particular a one 76er's owner wrong.  It was quite obvious by the end of the first round of the playoffs that the Celtics would only go as far as they could ride Garnett and his 36 year old body. 
We all know how it ended in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat, and many thought Garnett would call it quits, retire, and hang up the kicks for the last time.

Not so fast, Garnett is back, and for a guy who all ready plays like a mad man he needs no added motivation. But that taste left in Garnett's mouth from the way it ended last year surely will be on his mind every time he steps out on the court. Banner 18 will be his Listerine, and KG is big on hygiene. 

Season Outlook:
Garnett is the elder statesmen of a team of elder statesmen. Yet the Celtics will rely on the Big Ticket to be on the court in any big situation.  He is the absolute heart and soul of this team, even with all the additions the Celtics have brought in.  With him they are a legitimate title contender, without him they are the Indiana Pacers.  

The main thing the Celtics need from Garnett this year will be to stay healthy. If he can get through the whole season without missing significant time Doc and the C's will be happy campers. 

I'd imagine he will still be the Celtics number one option in the post and still be absolutely money with his now patented mid range jumpers. It may not always show up in the box score but there is one thing for certain; The Celtics need Kevin Garnett to produce to win Banner 18. 


Friday, October 19, 2012

2012-13 Player Profiles : Paul Pierce

6'6 235lbs
35 years old

No introduction really necessary for the Celtics captain Paul Pierce, but I'll give you one anyways.

Pierce has been the model of consistency for a franchise that has seen its ups and downs over his 15 year career in Green.  'The Truth', as he is known to his Boston Brethren, has been a mainstay for the Celtics year in and year out. On the offensive end he is a magician, not blessed with quickness or extreme athletic ability, but almost methodically is able to score at will using his size, strength, and natural basketball instincts.

Even though Pierce is no doubt beloved in Boston, he hasn't really gotten the recognition he deserves over his illustrious career nationally. Granted he is a perennial all star selection, but there was a time that he should have been mentioned in the same breath as the elite superstars in the league and wasn't due to the Celtics struggling to be relevant in the prime of  his career.
Could you imagine if Pierce had someone other than Antoine Walker to play alongside how different his career would be viewed? Either way, on the Mt. Rushmore of Celtic greats, Pierce has proven he belongs.

Pierce was drafted out of Kansas in the 1998 draft and was picked 10th overall. His first season was the infamous lockout season of 1998-1999, however he was able to make an impact immediately and hasn't looked back.

Pierce has averaged 22.0 ppg over his career, good enough to pass Larry Bird last season as the second leading scorer in Celtics history. He only trails John Havlicek, by around 3,800 points. If he plays another three years he has a fighters chance of setting the record. We'll see what type of dent he makes this season.

Probably since the addition of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2008, there hasn't been a season like this one where we can expect a diminishing role for the Celtics captain.

Now Pierce still will be the Celtics go-to-guy when it matters. He showed last year and this preseason that he can still take over any game at anytime, but look for Pierce's minutes to lessen this year compared to previous seasons. The Celtics have brought in a lot of depth, mostly with bigs and combo guards, but watch out for Jeff Green to steal some minutes from the truth.

Green has surged this preseason and has made his case to be the number one option off the bench. This is probably a good thing for an aging Paul Pierce. He will be able to conserve his energy over the length of a grueling 82 game season and really be in top form for the playoffs.

That being said, I still expect Pierce to lead the team in scoring and be there number one guy in the clutch.
The man is a juggernaut and I don't expect a significant drop off but his battle with Green  will be interesting to keep an eye on this year. I'm sure we will see a similar performance of last year hovering right around 19-6-5.  If the Celtics are going to make a deep run they will do so with Pierce at the forefront of the charge.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your Captain Paul Pierce.

-Sean Dutra
Get at me on twitter @seandutra

2012-2013 Player Profiles: Leandro Barbosa

6'3" 194lbs
29 Years Old

Leandro Barbosa was born on November 28, 1982 in São Paulo, Brazil. He is nicknamed the "Brazilian Blur," referring to the fact that he is one of the fastest players in the NBA. He started his professional career at Palmeiras when he was just 17 years old. By age 20 he was already playing for the Brazilian national team, where they competed at the 2002 FIBA World Championship Games. 

At 6'3" with a wing span of 6'10" he was selected 28th overall in the 2003 NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs, but his rights were traded to the Phoenix Suns for a future number one pick. Barbosa played for the Suns for six years before be dealt to the Toronto Raptors in 2009 for Hedo Turkoglu. Last season he was dealt again to the Indiana Pacers, where he helped take the Pacers into the second round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2004 playoffs. 

In nine seasons Leandro has career averages of 12.5PPG/2.5APG/2.4RPG and a 39 percent average from three-point range. Coming off the bench has been Barbosa role throughout his career. He was crowned the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award following the 2006-2007 season. In that season he averaged 18.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 4 assists a game. He looks to add a championship ring to his resume as he is set to join the Celtics this weekend. 

What can we expect from Leandro this season? The fact that he enjoyed most of his success when he played back up point guard for the two-time MVP, Steve Nash, shows that he learned a lot in that period. Barbosa hasn't played behind an MVP-caliber point guard in three years now, so he knows how to carry himself and knows what Doc expects of him. This adds another ball-handler who also creates instant offense (deadly three-point shooter). For a team who wants to run, you can never have too many of these guys, especially if you know M.I.A. is at the top of the hill looking down. Simply put, he is a combo guard who can play either the one or the two and you don't have to worry about the team's intensity going down once Rondo is on the bench. 

I see Barbosa averaging at least seven to eight points, two to three assists with a couple of made three pointers sprinkled in there as well. He will be a Nate Robinson- type, quick guard but with more discipline. At least until Avery Bradley is officially back in the lineup, look for LB to get significant playing time at both guard positions and sharing that backcourt with the JET, while moving Courtney Lee to the three. Lets be honest the possibilities are endless with this team, and there could also be scenarios where he is in at the end of games with Rondo, you never know. 

This is a very good addition. Dare I say... the deepest team in the NBA? I'll let you argue that. Welcome to Boston, Leandro!

Joel Pavón

Exhibition Blowout in Brooklyn: Celtics 115, Nets 85

Celtics snap a three-game losing streak
The Celtics snapped a three game losing streak by defeating the Brooklyn Nets last night, 115-85. Celtics opened the game with two forced turnovers and scored nine straight points in a minute and a half and never looked back. In Celtics' first visit to the new Barclay Arena, they shot 57 percent from the floor and knocked in 11 out of 19 shots from behind the arc in their best performance of the preseason.

Celtics set the tone defensively. They played with a sense of urgency against the Nets by forcing turnovers and infiltrating the passing lanes.
"We talked about it before the game, we had to show up defensively," coach Doc Rivers said. "Tonight, that's us, that's our defense. We're trying to convince them, with all the scoring we have, if we get stops we're going to score and score in transition more. We're going to score in a lot of different ways and you could see that tonight."
Courtney Lee played his best game since joining the Celtics. He stole the ball four times, scored 18 points and led most of the fast breaks for the Celtics. Lee's performance last night is the perfect example of Doc's method of defense leading to easy buckets.

Brooklyn struggled getting into a groove offensively throughout the entire game. They turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter and finished the game with 19 turnovers, shooting 37 percent from the floor. Brook Lopez finished the game with a team high 14 points.

Six players scored in double figures for the Celtics. Jason Terry made all five of his three-point attempts for 15 points and Pierce made all four of his three-point attempts and finished the game with 18 points. Pierce temporarily left the game in the second quarter after rolling his ankle stepping on the foot of Gerald Wallace after a made three-pointer. He got his ankle taped and returned in the second half. Although coach Rivers enjoyed the win, he knows there's still plenty of work to be done.
"I don't know who we are yet because of our combinations. I like our team, but it's just going to take time. I hope we get off great but I'm also realistic enough to know we're going to be so far from our best basketball on opening night until later because we have the ability to play a lot of different combinations. And even though you can do them, they've got to work. And it takes time for chemistry and timing," Rivers said.
One thing that has been overlooked about Rivers' team is their three-point shooting ability. Celtics have four solid three-point shooters in Terry, Lee, Green, and recently added Leandro Barbosa. If Rivers can master the fast break style with his guys, they'll be able to outscore a lot of teams in the league strictly off of their solid defense. But this is all going to take time. It's still October and they're just getting started.
"It's still preseason," Pierce said. We just want to get to the point where we're looking a lot better, where we are executing our stuff offensively and defensively. That's the most important thing right now. We do want to win games, but the most important thing is how we are playing right now."
Celtics will finish up their preseason schedule this weekend. They'll play the New York Knicks tomorrow night in Albany, New York and conclude their preseason schedule Sunday night at the Garden against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Josue Pavon

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Leandro Barbosa not playing in Brooklyn tonight

Leandro Barbosa will not be playing in tonight's game versus the Brooklyn Nets. His deal has not been finalized. Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith, who were waived earlier this week, have not cleared waivers yet. Celtics waived the two unsigned rookies to make roster space for Barboza. Leandro may join the team on Sunday in the preseason finale when the Celtics take on the Phiadelphia 76ers at the Garden.

Why Celtics Will be taking Nets Seriously This Season

The Celtics have won the Atlantic Division title for five straight years. And although the Celtics have had a productive offseason, so did the rest of the Atlantic Division.

Following a 97-96 defeat against the Nets, in a game where all of Brooklyn's starters sat out, Celtics' Kevin Garnett knows not to take a team such as the Nets too lightly this season.
"With Joe Johnson and with Deron (Williams) and everybody, they're going to be a force to be reckoned with," Kevin Garnett said Wednesday, following Boston's loss to Brooklyn in Tuesday's preseason game. "They're nothing like last year. They're going to be strong."
It's surprising that the Celtics haven't laughed off the thought of the Nets being competitive this season. For the past five season the Nets have by far had the worst record out the Atlantic Division. But this year, with the addition of Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace, even captain Paul Pierce knows not to overlook any team in the division.
"They're a team that's going to be right there at the end of the day in the Atlantic Division," Pierce said. "This is a deep division, one of the deepest I've seen since I've been a Celtic. So it will be a challenge for us."
Along with the Nets, Philadelphia had a busy offseason as well. In a blockbuster deal, the 76ers landed center Andrew Bynum and guard Jason Richardson. Bynum, one of the best centers in the league (according to Shaq the best center who's followed by Brook Lopez). They also added shooter Nick Young and traded for swingman Dorell Wright.
"We would have preferred the way it used to be in our division, that was terrific," said Doc Rivers. "It's a hard division now. Not just the Nets, not just the Knicks, (but) Philadelphia with Andrew Bynum. It's just going to be a tough division." 
Andray Blatche led the way for the Nets Tuesday night, scoring 23 points and grabbing nine boards. Mirza Teletovic pitched in with 18 points as the Nets stole one in the Garden. Celtics' Pierce was on fire for Boston, he scored 29 points in 27 minutes and lit it up from behind the arc knocking in six out of eight. Celtics held their own for most of the game but like all of other losses in the preseason, they lost it in the fourth quarter.

The Celtics will get their chance for payback in a rematch against Brooklyn tonight at the Barclay Center in a nationally televised game. After sitting his starters Tuesday night, Nets coach Avery Johnson plans to use his full rotation. Celtics will play in the new arena for the first time tonight, against a team that has finally earned their attention.

Josue Pavon

2012-2013 Player Profiles: Jason Terry

6'2" 180lbs
35 Years Old
Drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 1999, Terry was the 10th pick overall and has always played the 6th man role since his college days, where he won the NCAA National Championship for Arizona in 1997. Terry is an elite shooter. He has made the fourth most career three-pointers in NBA history. 

Terry is instant offense off the bench. He averaged 15 points a game for the Mavericks last season and is considered to be one of the best 6th man in NBA history. He shows great leadership and has already established himself as one of the team's leaders for the upcoming season. 

Although Terry will be coming off the bench, he will also be in late-game situations for the Celtics. Terry's real value can be as a closer for Boston, and will be a player that all opposing teams have to worry about when on the floor. I predict Terry to average 13 points a game this season for the Celtics, with occasional 20-point outbursts every once in a while. The only reason I don't see Terry averaging more than that is because he will be sharing his off-the-bench scoring with his teammate, Jeff Green. 

What makes Terry a great asset for the Celtics is that his scoring doesn't come from just shooting threes. He can knock down shots from just about anywhere on the floor. Something that past knock down shooters from the bench for the Celtics, couldn't do as efficiently (i.e. Eddie House & Nate Robinson). Terry also moves well without the ball and can occasionally steal the ball on the defensive end. His one-on-one defense isn't spectacular, but he has maintained a career average of 1.6 steals a game. 

Terry will be fan favorite in Boston. He's done all the right things. From taking shots at the Heat and the Lakers to getting a tattoo of Lucky on his bicep before even wearing a Celtic uniform. It's safe to say, he's all in.