Celtics Provide a Merry Christmas

I last wrote about the Boston Celtics 1 month ago.  At that time, I was writing about them every game and it began to get monotonous. The Celtics had been going through the motions the first 2 months of the season.  My stories were all pretty much the same but with different words.  Rondo was great, Pierce and Garnett still got it, Jeff Green is frustrating, etc.  I also kept saying the regular season was an 82 game audition.  After watching today’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, I finally have something worth while to write about.  The pre-season is over and the regular season began today for the Boston Celtics.images

The Celtics were playing.500 ball heading into today’s Christmas tilt with a new division rival, the Brooklyn Nets.  They played the  Nets even through the first quarter but came out blazing in the second quarter.  Today’s game was won by the bench.  They outscored the Nets bench 43-21, led by Jared Sullinger’s 16 points and Jeff Green’s 15.  The bench, which was supposed to be a strength for the Celtics coming into the season, finally played like it.

Rajon Rondo lead the Celtics with 19 points.  Paul Pierce, the only NBA player in history not named Michael Jordan to pour 35 points in 2 consecutive games at the age of 35, decided he wanted to be a distributor and handed out 10 assists.  While the bench play was most encouraging, the Celtics returned to playing at least a semblance of team defense.  It is no secret the Celtics are at their best when they are playing solid defense.  Today was one of those days as they held the Nets to just 79 points.

There has been a lot of trade rumors floating around because of nervous Celtics fans that think an NBA title is won in November.  Names like Varejao and Cousins have been discussed because the Celtics need another big man.  While I agree the Celtics need a big man, I am not in agreement that said big man should be acquired via trade.

I am not at all interested in trading Jared Sullinger or Avery Bradley.  I admit that when he was in college I thought he would be a jared-sullinger-andray-blatchecolossal bust in the NBA.  My buddy Q is allowed to rag on me for years to come because I was wrong.
Sullinger showed why he was a pre-draft consensus top 5 pick.  The kid had 16 points and 7 rebounds.  He showed he has range on his jumper.  He has a nose for the ball.  He was +21, highest of the Celtics.  Trading this kid would be a mistake.

Remember the spark Avery Bradley provided the Celtics throughout the second half of the season last year.  He and Rondo have undeniable chemistry.  Bradley is also a pest on defense forcing opposing teams to start their offense with 14 seconds left on the shot clock most possessions.  I am not saying Bradley is going to be the savior when he returns to the floor January 2 against the Grizzlies but I know he will make the Celtics better.

I am concerned and curious why Leandro Barbosa has fallen out of Doc’s rotation.  He was providing instant offense off the bench for the Celtics.  He has now racked up a few DNP-Coach’s Decision over the last week. I believe he should provide Courtney Lee some competition for minutes when Bradley gets back.  It seems Doc disagrees with me.

The Christmas game was encouraging.  I think the Celtics are ready to put a streak together.  No matter how tough their division has become, I still believe they are the 2nd best team in the East and will ultimately be the only team that can cool down the Heat.

The Celtics continue this 4 game road trip out west against the Clippers on Thursday night at 10:30.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Scottie’s Recap: Celtics Succumb to Trap Game, Pistons

I chalk the Celtics 103-83 loss to the Pistons as the Celtics being nothing more than victims of a trap game on a cold shooting night. There is no other reason why the Celtics would lose to the now 2-9 Detroit Pistons. From the opening tip, the Celtics weren’t into the game and to tell you the truth, as a fan, I wasn’t up for it either.  The game was the last of a 4 games in 5 night stretch.  Fatigue may have been a problem but then again, the Celtics coasted to an easy victory over the Raptors the previous day.  The Celtics do have two tough games ahead in the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. Maybe they got caught up in looking past the Pistons.  Whatever the case may be, the Celtics lost by 20 to the woeful Pistons.

The Celtics shot 45% from the field, 23% and 23% from distance.  The normally consistent Brandon Bass was 3-9 from the field.  It felt a lot worse than that.  I have come to know him as one of the more consistent shooters on the Celtics over the past two seasons.  His 18 foot jumper is usually money in the bank.  Jason Terry was 1-6 from the floor and was 0-4 from deep.  The 4 three pointers he missed all felt like shots that could have changed the game.  He was found in transition, was wide open, but simply couldn’t knock down the shot.

Rajon Rondo barely kept his 10 assist a game streak going.  He got his 10 assists but 3 of them were recorded in garbage time.  This wasn’t his fault.  He continues to get his team wide open shots time and time again.  It is not his fault his teammates can’t knock them down.  He found Chris Wilcox for what looked like a wide open dunk.  Wilcox lost the ball as he was going up in the air.  It was just one of those nights.

Jared Sullinger was the team’s highest scorer with 16 points on 7-12 shooting.  He was also a -20 in the box score.  I felt like he and Chris Wilcox were beaten repeatedly on the glass.  The Celtics bigs lack the fundamentals of boxing out properly.  It is such an elementary part of the game and is frustrating to see guys not able to perform such an easy technique.  The Pistons only had 7 offensive rebounds but it felt like a lot more than that.  They did out rebound the Celtics 39-30. Just a frustrating game.

On my way home from work today, I heard Marc Bertrand say that Darko Milicic was leaving the team for the rest of the season to go back to his country to be with his ill mother.  I got home and looked up available free agents.  It seems the Celtics veterans have already beat me to it.  They are lobbying for the team to sign Kenyon Martin according to report by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.  I would love this move if Danny is able to pull it off.  The Celtics need to bulk up their depth in the front court.  They have all the back court depth a team could ask for.  Bringing in Kenyon Martin, if in shape, will take a heavy burden off of KG’s shoulders.  I am all for bringing Kenyon Martin to Boston.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Scottie’s Recap: Gino Makes First Appearance of 2012-2013 Season

From time to time I will hand over the controls to our newest writer, Rob.  He will provide a fresh voice on the state of the Celtics to keep mine from going stale.  He did a great job with the Nets game.  Now I am back to talk about the shellacking the Celtics provided the Raptors.

The beloved Gino made his 2012-2013 season debut yesterday afternoon.  2 weeks ago I didn’t think we would see the dancing fiend at all this season.  The combination of the futile Toronto Raptors and the Celtics playing in a rhythm that provided perfect synergy resulted in Gino time.

Rajon Rondo doled out 20 assists after missing the Brooklyn game with an ankle injury.  Not only have I been arguing he is the best point guard in the game today, I think, at the rate he is playing, deserves strong consideration for NBA MVP.  I understand that I am putting him in a conversation normally reserved for LeBron James and Kevin Durant.  At the time of this writing, Rondo averages 13.3 points per game and 13.4 assists per game.  Based on that he is accountable for at least 39 points a game.  Put him in the conversation.

Jared Sullinger was great on Sunday.  I know our good friend Q is going to love watching Sullinger as a Celtic for the next several years.  He compared Sully to Kevin Love before the NBA draft.  That was a comment I mocked him for time and time again.  Then the Celtics drafted him and my haterade drinking ceased.  Now, after games like yesterday, I will have to hear it from Q.  Sullinger had 12 points and more importantly 11 rebounds.  The Celtics have been atrocious rebounding the basketball this season.  For an undersized guy like Jared Sullinger to grab 11 boards, that is very encouraging.  Kevin Love is 6’10 and one of the best rebounders in the game.  Sullinger is 6’9.  If Sullinger can become a microcosm of Kevin Love, I will be ecstatic.

The last thing I took away from yesterday’s game was Doc’s ability to keep minutes down.  The Celtics are coming into today playing their 4th game in 5 days, and second game of a back to back.  Garnett played just 17 minutes, Pierce 25 minutes, and Terry 29 minutes.  Anyone who has talked to me about the Celtics know that my motto for this season is “82 game audition.”  All I want out of the regular season is for the Celtics to stay healthy and build chemistry so they can make real noise in the real season, the playoffs.  Keeping minutes down when they can will be key.  So far, Doc has done just that.

Tonight, the Celtics travel to Detroit to take on the 2nd worst team in the NBA, the Detroit Pistons.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

The Not-So Rapid Reaction- Celtics Lose 120-107

Last night, after Miami put on the finishing touches of a 120-107 opening night win against my beloved Boston Celtics, I really wanted to sit down and hammer away all my thoughts on to this blog.  Truth be told, I am getting old and I fell asleep after the game.  It is likely better that way, as I have had time to organize my thoughts and not publish my patented knee jerk reaction that I am famous for.  I would like to continue this type of post but any faithful reader of NTCF knows our promises usually ring hollow.  I will simply take it game by game.  So without further adieu, here is my thoughts following last night’s game.

I will spare everyone the tired “Ray Allen is my ex-girlfriend from high school” analogy.  Whatever the case may be, he didn’t want to play in Boston anymore.  He wanted to live tax-free in Miami, play golf on his off days, and ride the coat tails of LeBron James and get another ring before he called it a career.  Boston fans have been “betrayed” before.  No doubt it stings a little bit more when a fan favorite decides to go play for your most bitter rival.  See Damon, Johnny. I admit, I had a sense of rage seeing him don a Miami Heat uniform.  I was happy that KG ignored him when he thought during the game was the perfect time to try to clear the air and get some “daps.”  Yes, it did hurt to see Ray pour in 19 points on 5-7 shooting and 2-3 from long range.What hurt more than his stats, however, were the times when the Celtics needed a bucket and couldn’t get one.  Because it was those times over the last 5 years that Doc could draw up a play to free up Ray Ray and he would bury a jump shot.   That is what I will miss most about Ray Allen.

Maybe the emotion was too much for the Celtics last night.  Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry were awful for the most apart.  Garnett has been known to get himself so psyched up that he can’t produce.  Last night was one of those nights.  Maybe it was the ring ceremony prior to the game, maybe it was the national spotlight, maybe it was playing against a former brother, maybe it was everything combined but KG was largely ineffective last night.  I also believe that Jason Terry was caught up in the moment of trying to hard to be better than Ray Allen.  He was all over the floor and not in a good way.  His shots were out of rhythm and his defense was sorely lacking.  I found myself very concerned about Terry.  He is not a true point guard and  I am not sure how his game is going to translate when being asked to bring the ball up the floor, something he is not accustomed to doing.

Jeff Green was a no-show last night as well.  I am willing to give him a free pass at the start of this season though.  He is coming back from open-heart surgery.  At this point last year, he was probably thinking that he would never play again.  Believe it or not, life is more important than sports.  I think Jeff was a bit emotional last night and wasn’t able to get into the game.  I am excited to have him back this season and I look forward to having him play with a full training camp under his belt with the Celtics.  Once the chemistry is established he will be essential to the team’s success.

What I took away most from last night’s game was how much I now loathe Dwayne Wade.  Every time he takes the ball to the basket and loses it he stops and stares down the ref.  He has become the biggest (insert derogatory slang term for the female reproductive organ here) in the NBA.  He has the audacity to call Rajon Rondo a punk after the game last night.  This is the same guy who dislocated Rondo’s elbow with a cheap shot 2 years ago in the playoffs.  This is the same guy that bridged Darren Collison last season.  This is no longer the guy that had the awesome commercial, “I fall down 7 times and stand up 8.”   It also drives me crazy that refs allow him to use his off-hand to stiff arm his defender when he drives to the basket.  It was probably the most pivotal play in the playoffs last year and it happened again last night.  At this time last year, I despised LeBron James.  After what LeBron did in Game 6 last year, I…I… (gulp) respect him.  Now, my hatred, my disdain, my insurmountable intense dislike is toward Dwayne Wade.

I am really hoping Doc lets Jared Sullinger play.  My one qualm with Doc Rivers is his knack for not letting rookies play.  Sullinger will be needed this season.  He will be needed to give Garnett rest.  He will be needed in the front court.  He is a large part of the future of the Boston Celtics.  Doc played him 8 minutes last night.  I understand there may have been matchup problems for him but I sincerely hope that Doc sets aside his policy about giving rookies minutes, and he lets the kid play.

I came away from last night’s game realizing the Boston Celtics-Miami Heat rivalry has surpassed the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in my eyes.  The reason for that is two-fold.  1) The Red Sox are largely irrelevant right now and will be until they straighten out their operation. 2) LeBron has been public enemy #1 for the Celtics since the Big 3 arrived in Boston.  Now one of the members of the original Big 3 have joined forces with the enemy.  The Celtics are the only team in the NBA that have, can, and will take the Heat to 7 games in a playoff series.

Next up for the Celtics: Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis bring the Milwaukee Bucks into Boston on Friday November 2.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Poll Time! Version 1.0

Clicking around the settings of this blog and trying to make it more fun for the loyal following that we have, I discovered how to create a poll.  Hopefully this is something I can do every once in awhile.  I was originally going to write a post about these three candidates but I think I’d rather hear your feedback.

It’s A Party in the OSU

So what is the number one team in the country(the Ohio State Buckeyes) up to?

Keep in mind that Jared Sullinger is the consensus player of the year at this point in the season and likely the number one player to go in the NBA draft in April.  Will he ever be able to live this down when he makes it to the NBA?  Is this worse than a public sex tape? (see Oden, Greg).

Jon Diebler averages 12 points a game and Aaron Craft averages 6 points and 4 assists a game.  These aren’t your end of the bench scrubs.

I don’t expect Providence to do any damage, (or even get to for that matter) in the tournament.  And if Texas inexplicably falls apart…well I have my bandwagon jumping shoes on come March.