Friday, October 18, 2013

LeBron's Words of Reason

It's inevitable that when LeBron James's name is mentioned in the media for opening his mouth about a topic it's going to want to make you shake your head.

Mr. James has struck again.

This time it's not about himself nor is it another Michael Jordan comment, whom he continues to seek attention from, this one is about former Celtics Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett.

Thursday afternoon, LeBron James added more gas on the fire that still burns between Pierce and KG and the boys from South Beach by saying the two former Celtics owe teammate Ray Allen an apology before facing the Brooklyn Nets in a preseason match up Thursday night.
"I think the first thing I thought was, 'WOW,' Ray got killed for leaving Boston, and now these guys are leaving Boston," James said. "I think it's OK; I didn't mind it. But there were a couple of guys who basically [expletive] on Ray for leaving, and now they're leaving... You can't criticize someone who does something that's best for their family"
OK, lets rewind about a year ago.

Allen took a pay cut, accepted a reduced role and signed with Miami instead of re-signing with the Celtics. A contract he signed weeks after he was knocked out of the Eastern Conference Finals in seven games to Bron Bron and co. Hey, no harm, no foul according to Garnett, Pierce and even coach Doc Rivers. All three agreed that if he wanted to leave, it was his right to do so. BUT it wasn't going to be all hugs and smiles from that point forward because he was looked at as the enemy, and rightfully so.

This past summer, Danny Ainge decided to break up the band: Rivers was sent to LA-LA land to coach the Clippers, and a blockbuster draft night trade between the Celtics and Nets sent KG, Pierce and Jason Terry to Brooklyn; officially ending the Umbutu era that lasted over six years and ended any championship aspirations for the upcoming season in Boston.

I bet LeBron honestly and truly believes the two situations are exactly the same. I mean, when he decided to crush his hometown of Cleveland, I'm sure he thought teaming up with Wade and T-Rex (Bosh) was 'the best for my family.' Hey, Boston had his number right? So of course his family was the main reason he chose Miami.

So Paul, what do you think about what LBJ had to say about you 'leaving' Boston, where you won a championship and you have your blood, sweat and tears to for 15 years?

"I left Boston?" Pierce said to reporters.

Oh that's right, you did want to retire a Celtic, Pierce. And KG wanted to as well. But what happens when you are not in future plans? You're services are no longer needed and you are presented with an opportunity to still be relevant and I don't know, win another ring before you hang em' up? You have two options: you accept being traded or you retire. It was that simple.

LeBron, you and your teammate were free agents, free to choose your destiny. You controlled where you wanted to go, I mean for your 'family's' sake, right? Meanwhile, Brooklyn just so happened to not care about paying several millions of dollars in luxury tax to acquire three former champions in a quest to knock you off the mountain top. So the way I see it, if it were up to them, they would still be in green. Regardless of a trade clause or not, remember 2007 and the city of Minneapolis? Need I say more?

As over used as the word loyalty is in today's sports, Pierce and Garnett's careers stem from the same tree. But then again, what does LeBron know about loyalty?

For whatever reason the two time reigning champ and MVP decided to remind his rivals why they dislike him (and they let it be known in a preseason game, no less). Pierce and Garnett knocked James on the floor a few times and beat Miami 86-62. The message is still loud and clear... Beat The Heat!

If that's not a sign of things to come this season, KG had a response for LeBron last night:
"Tell LeBron to worry about Miami. It has nothing to do with Celtic business."
Thanks, Garnett! That's why Boston will love you forever.

As for LeBron, the only question he should ask himself, and for his family's sake of course is this: after the season is over, will you opt out and leave South Beach or do what's 'best' for your family?

Come on, let's not kid ourselves, folks.

Joel Pavon

Saturday, October 12, 2013

76ers 85 Celtics 76 (Preseason Gm. 3): Celtics drop third straight loss

Celtics showed a lackluster effort in last night's 97-85 loss against the 76ers, continuing its winless streak in the preseason.
76ers led by more than 20 points in the first half and were in control throughout the entire game.

"We started the game off like we were too cool and were supposed to win the game," said Gerald Wallace. "They came out and hit us dead in the mouth."

Celtics cut a 14-point lead down to 5 in the fourth quarter but couldn't put together a run in the final minutes of the game.

Jared Sullinger led the team in scoring with 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Jeff Green's preseason struggles continued last night. He went two for 11, scored four points in 20 minutes.

Celtics struggled to defend Philadelphia in the paint and had a hard time getting back on defense when the 76ers ran its fast break.

Wallace expressed his frustration over the team's effort after the game.

"We played a Philadelphia team that isn't quite as good as New York," Wallace said. "If we continue to play like this, we're going to get embarassed every night. Teams like New York and Miami and guys like that who been together for a while, who've had guys to play together for a while, they're going to embarrass us every night and I'm not trying to get embarrassed. We have to figure out how we can do this as a team, bring everyone together, be on the same page and start building something."

Celtics will seek its first preseason win tonight when they host New York at Verizon Wireless Arena.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Raptors 97 - Celtics 89 (Preseason Gm 1) : Wallace Shines in C's Debut

The Celtics dropped their first preseason game of the year to the Toronto Raptors last night, 97-89. It was only the preseason opener so truly the score is meaningless but last night was really the first glimpse that the fans of the Boston Celtics had of a fully revamped roster and coaching staff.

Even though it was just a preseason game there was a few things that you can take away from the glorified scrimmage.

Newcomer Gerald Wallace looked like his old self. Last year, he was stuck in a rut while playing for the Brooklyn Nets.  It never worked with Brooklyn, Wallace had the worst season of his career by far averaging only 7.7 ppg. People quickly forgot about the consistency that led up to his quick stint in Brooklyn.  Last night he showed glimpses of what led him to an all star caliber player his first 12 years in the league.

Wallace led the way for the Celtics, scoring 16 points in his Celtics debut. He came off the bench to provide a spark and lead the 2nd unit, as Coach Brad Stevens is still tinkering with lineup combinations.

The Celtics started the game with a line up of  Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee,  Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Kris Humphries.  Stevens, obviously still feeling out his squad had a new 5 in the game to finish the first quarter and really was subbing five and five all night with not to many lineup combos.  His second unit consisted of Jordan Crawford, Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, Victor Favorini, and Wallace.

Jared Sullinger also had a really strong game. Coming off an off season that had more downs than ups, Sullinger showed he was back in full form. He showed no ill affects from the off season back surgery and run in with the law, and put up 14 points and 6 rebounds.

Another bright spot for the Celtics was their up-tempo style of play. The Celtics are full of athletes who can run the floor all night, and showed last night they were willing to take full advantage of that. Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, and Avery Bradley seemed to have some great chemistry running the fast break.

In Rookie Kelly Olynyk's first non summer league appearance, he looked like a rookie with some good upside. He only scored on one of his five attempts, but did add five assists that lead the C's on the night.

All in all we got our first glimpse of this team that has a lot of growth ahead of them. Its only the pre-season, and yes they lost but there were more positives to take away from their first game then negatives, and that's all Brad Stevens can ask for at this point.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Rejuvenated Rondo Shows True Colors at Media Day

The Boston Celtics opened up their doors to the media last week, officially for the first time of the year. Celtics Media Day, usually a spectacle with reporters trying to figure out what future hall of famer to focus on, had a different feel this year. The room is full of fresh faces, including a new coach, Brad Stevens, that will signal the start of the Celtics new regime.

The Celtics in many ways are looking for a fresh start. Trading Pierce and Garnett, was the start of the dreaded rebuilding process, that so many C's fans are weary to buy into.  Yet there is one person that seems to be rejuvenated by the new beginnings, and that is Rajon Rondo.

Rondo, who will miss a good part of the season while still recovering from his Torn ACL , seemed in great spirits in his first press conference of the year.

"This is a fresh start for us, a new coach and a new team," said Rondo. "I'm excited about the fresh start. I'm excited every year, each team, but getting back on the court, I just want to compete. I haven't competed in a while and I'm a very competitive player and competitive person. I miss being out on the court with my teammates and having them there."

Seems a little shocking to see so much optimism from Rondo when the teams outlook is the bleakest since his rookie campaign. But there is one big difference that is clear, this year Rondo is the leader of this team no questions asked. Last season, there was a movement from Doc, Pierce and KG to convince everyone that would listen, that it was Rondos team, but lets face it that just was not the truth. 

Rondo seems energized. Usually known for his quote less drabble he seemed in great spirits and genuinely excited for the year to begin. 
The core is young, and Rondo now has no one to butt heads with. He know has a coach willing to work the offense around him and a young core that will follow his lead. From Rondo's point of view, he can't ask for a better situation. 

Check that- he could if he was healthy....

Rondo did talk about his comeback, and where he is physically and mentally. He gave a vague time table for the Celtics to have their star point guard back on the floor.

 "Probably sometime in the winter – maybe the fall" said Rondo. "It’s more mental when you come back, and you get around 10-11 months, it’s just feeling confident. You want to feel confident, especially the type of players and competitors we are. Our legs are pretty much everything; we use our speed.

Rondo will be relied along to bring the veteran leadership that the current roster lacks. He can do so in a limited way on the bench, but we should truly find the answer to the question that has been haunting Rajon his entire career. When he returns to the court this year, whenever that may be he will be able to answer the critics who ask: Can you build a championship team around Rajon Rondo?

Lets be honest there are no championship aspirations for the team as currently constituted, but Rondo's attitude in the past has come in to question. Now as the only bonafide superstar on the team he will get his first lick at being the true face of the franchise. He will do so with a new coach as well. 

It was well publicized that the reported 'beef" between Rondo and Doc over the past years was straining on the coach-player relationship. At first glance, Rondo is extremely positive about the decision to hire Stevens as a coach. 

 “Me and Brad have become best friends. We talk every day, we laugh and joke. We had dinner the other night. I’m going to help him, he’s going to help me. He has my full support, and I told him from Day 1 … I’m 100 percent behind him. Whatever he wants to do, whatever he wants to change, I have an open mind and I’m ready to listen and be accountable for what he wants to do.”

The biggest difference for Rondo going into this year is the team will be relying on him for any success. There is no longer the Big Three-- and Rondo. Danny Ainge has given him the keys and taken him off his learners permit.  Its going to be a tough few months while he is continuing his rehab, but when the time comes this team will only go forward with Rondo behind the wheel-- and he seems very enthused about that fact.

-Sean Dutra


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Avery Bradley preparing for role as starting point guard

Reports out of Celts training camp indicate Avery Bradley has spent the majority of his time focused on becoming a more effective point guard, as he prepares to fill-in for Rajon Rondo.

Rondo, the undisputed leader and most talented player on the under-construction Celtics roster, will be sidelined for the beginning of the season as he continues to rehabilitate from the torn ACL he suffered last season. The Celtics ran off a hot-streak immediately following his injury, but eventually the absence of Rondo and his on-court leadership caught up to them.

Without him, the Celtics struggled to identify a clear cut player to carry the torch at the point. Avery Bradley, known for his tenacious defense and high-energy, struggles at times on offense. He had a difficult time last season stepping into Rondo's role.

But this time around, Bradley is not being unexpectedly thrust into that role. He will have time to prepare extensively for it, and is doing so thus far at training camp. Bradley is entering his fourth season in the league, but this marks the first time he will be participating in training camp. He was prevented from doing so in the past because of injuries.

Avery is one of the more talented players on the Celtics and an elite perimeter defender in the NBA, which is becoming an increasingly offensively-focused league. He has proven himself as a defensive stalwart, but will need to play an even bigger role this season as the Celtics work to find an identity in a transitional year.


Kris Humphries emerging as leader, wants to sign 3-4 year extension

Kris Humphries has been working hard during the offseason in hopes of leading the Celtics in the upcoming season and for a number of years down the road.

According to an ESPN New York story, Humphries worked on skill development this summer with Phil Weber, a well-respected coach who has experience as an NBA assistant. Weber had this to say about Humphries:

"Kris had about as hard a working month as I've ever seen. He's in unbelievable shape," said Weber. "He just worked, worked, worked, and the last workout before he went back to Minnesota -- after about five weeks of hard work -- he made 15 (shots) in a row from the elbow and 10 in a row from the corner 3. Kris is transforming his game, and his belief level is starting to soar." [ESPN New York]
Humphries hitting jump shots is a good sign for Celtics fans. But hitting 10 and 15 shots in a row from different spots around the court sounds like something that almost every NBA player should be able to do. Not so impressive. 3 point shots? Somewhat impressive, I guess. But hey, he's trying and that's all we can ask for.

Playing for his sixth team in ten years, Humphries has struggled with finding a team he can commit to. He's been showing great leadership since being traded to Boston in June and is one of the oldest veterans on the roster.

Rookie guard Phil Pressey mentioned Humphries as one of the leaders in the locker room.
"Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans, they've been there almost everyday," said Pressey. "They've been helping out a lot. They've been in the league for 10-plus years, so I listen to everything they say." [Mass Live]
Although Humphries' future in Boston is uncertain, along with the other players involved in the Brooklyn trade, his business manager told ESPN New York that Humphries hopes to stay in Boston for more than just a season or two.
"He wants to get acclimated, he wants to get to know everyone, he wants to really prove to everyone 'Look, I'm here, I'm devoted, I'm ready to rock and roll,'" said Humphries' manager, Josh Ketroser. "That's where his head is at. He's looking to have a good year and would love to sign a three- or four-year deal and stay in Boston, and be part of them turning around." [ESPN New York]


Brandon Bass takes up swimming lessons

Celtics forward Brandon Bass recently took a swimming class at the Boys & Girls Club of Boston last Friday.

Bass faced his fears of floating alongside 10 children in Waltham. According to Bella English, Bass is doing it to show children that they can face their fears.

English wrote, "Though he is volunteering his time to help children conquer their fear of swimming, Bass has fears of his own."

"I'm nervous because I don't know how to float," said Bass. "I can't tread water." [Boston Globe]
A few things motivated Bass to take swimming lessons in the past few years. Brandon Bass Jr., Brandon's 6-year old son, who knows how to swim and found out about his father's inability to float in water. And in 2009, when Bass bought a house with a pool on a lake in Orlando.
"I can tell he's having the time of his life, and doesn't have a worry in the world," says Bass."But I'm a little worried."
"I just feel as the man of the house, I need to learn how to swim." [Boston Globe]
Bass isn't the only Celtic who can't tread water. Jeff Green also confessed that he doesn't know how to swim either and wants to learn someday before he starts a family.
"I want to learn how to swim before I have kids, and I want them to learn," said Jeff Green. "I think it's just a skill that kids and people in general should have. Whether a family vacation, or just with friends, a lot of activities take place near water." [Boston Globe] 
Bass says he will continue to take lessons with children of the Boys & Girls Club and plans on taking private lessons until he learns how to swim. 

Check out Bass' progress below: