In Appreciation of Jeff Green

NTCF faithful reader Steve in Texas recently emailed me asking when I was going to show Jeff Green some love.  After Green Unknowntorched the Suns for 31 points 7 rebounds and 4 assists, I figure there is no better time than now.  Jeff Green is the most polarizing figure on the Celtics.  There are a group of fans that hate him because he was the get back in the Kendrick Perkins deal.  There are fans who don’t have an opinion of him because he is too inconsistent to formulate an opinion on. Then there are fans, like me, who root hard for him to succeed and love it when he does.

Since Green arrived in Boston in February of 2011, I thought he would be the heir apparent to Paul Pierce.  But he got off to a slow start in 2011 with the Celtics, missed all of 2012 because of a heart condition, and has been so-so in the 2012-2013 season.  Steve in Texas brings up a great point however. Jeff Green came into the league with the Oklahoma City Thunder.  He was an offensive option behind Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden.  When he came to Boston he was an option behind Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo.  He is still behind Pierce, Garnett, and maybe Terry on the offensive end as the team is currently constituted.

If you ask me, it’s pretty unfair for the Celtics fan base to expect Jeff Green to “be the man” when the egos and pecking order indicate a different reality.  Much was made about Danny Ainge not pulling the trigger on deals that would send Pierce and imagesGarnett out of town so the Celtics could build for the future. Many of you will say I am wearing green shaded sunglasses, but I believe the Celtics’ future is Jeff Green.  Until recently when has Doc Rivers been able to showcase Green?

The first game the Celtics played without Rondo because of his ACL injury, Jeff Green did an admirable job against the best player in the league, LeBron James.  He has also shown an uncanny ability to drive to the basket and throw down thunderous dunk after thunderous dunk.  His outside shooting has come along rather nicely in recent weeks as well.  Even Kobe has to raise an eyebrow when he sees that Green had 31 points on just 14 shots against Phoenix.

Lastly, to those people that hate Jeff Green because we lost Perk to the Thunder; Just stop it.  Kendrick Perkins has been terrible for the Thunder.  I don’t want to hear the argument that he and Garnett were mean defensively and gave the Celtics and identity.  Making mean faces and setting bad picks is not worth $30 million over 4 years.  Perkins is averaging 4 points and 5 rebounds in 25 minutes a game for the Thunder.  He is ridiculously slow, bad on rotations, and provides 0 offense.  Perkins is effectively done.  Jeff Green can be and will be productive now and in years to come.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF


5 Things We Know About the Boston Celtics

I admit, I have slacked off the past week and let down the NTCF faithful, with zero Celtics coverage from the last 3 games.  I simp,y don’t have an excuse for this transgression.  But I am ready to move on.

The Celtics were 2-1 in the last three games that I did not provide a recap.  They lost to the Spurs, followed that with their best win of the season against the Thunder, and then beat the Magic in overtime. The Celtics are 14 games into their 2012-2013 campaign with an 8-6 record, good for fourth in their division, and 8th in the Eastern Conference.  In 14 games, I can tell you 10 things about the 2012-2013 Boston Celtics.

1) Rajon Rondo is good for at least 10 assists a game

Forget the streak.  Rondo is getting double-digit assists without any real trepidation because these assists are coming in the flow of the offense.  Thank you to Adam Lowenstein (@StatsAdam), who answered my question via Twitter when I asked who Rondo has found the most during this streak going into last night.  The answer? Paul Pierce with 112.  Kevin Garnett 110. Brandon Bass 79.  Rondo routinely gets guys open looks.  Think about how many wide open shots the Celtics miss.  10 assists a night is Clockwork Rondo.

2) Jeff Green is consistently inconsistent

One night Jeff Green looks like a young Paul Pierce, the next night he looks like Jerome Moiso (if you don’t know who he is, you aren’t a true Celtic fan).  Here are Jeff Green’s point totals in 14 games: 3, 11, 11, 6, 4, 12, 7, 16, 5, 9, 6, 5, 17, and 1.  The Celtics have zero idea what they are going to get from him night in and night out.  The fact that he isn’t rebounding (2.7 a game) makes his inconsistent offensive output all the more glaring.  Anyone who has read me since the season starts knows I love Jeff Green.  But facts must be acknowledged.  My love for him is without reason at the current time.

3) The Celtics perimeter defense does not exist

The Celtics have gotten killed by the 3 ball so far this season.  Here comes more game by game stats: Here is what the opposition shot from 3 and how made 3 pointers were made versus the Celtics:

Heat 50%, 8.     Bucks 44.4%, 8.    Wizards 30%, 6.    Wizards 34.5%, 10.     76ers 53.8%, 7.   Bucks, 15%, 3.    Bulls 33.3%,  3.

Jazz 46.7%, 7.    Nets   36.4%, 8.  Raptors 36.4%, 8.    Pistons 36.4%  4.       Spurs 50%, 8.     Thunder  25%, 6   Magic 42.3% 11.

The Celtics are giving up about 24 points a game from 3.  In my opinion, that is much to high a number.  The return of Avery Bradley will help the Celtics leaps and bounds on the defensive end of the floor.  There have been reports that the Celts are looking to bring back Mickael Pietrus to help defend that perimeter. My hope is the Celtics go after a big man to fill the roster spot left open by Darko’s leaving the team.  But if the Celtics can’t defend opposing guards, Danny might be forced to bring back Air France.

4) Leandro Barbosa is instant offense

I find myself getting excited when I see #12 checking into the game.  He is lightning fast and has the ability to put up points in a hurry.  He isn’t a traditional point guard, but I am starting to think that is working in his favor.  He has been getting to the rack at will, and has the ability to find the glass on all of his shots.  He is averaging only 7 points a game, but has had 3 games where he has put up 15 or more points.  He is an added dimension the Celtics have not had in a long time. It is always nice to have scoring off the bench.

5) The Boston Celtics can’t rebound

What scares me most about the lack of rebounding illustrated by the Celtics 14 games into the season?  This is the same weakness that hurt them in the playoffs last season.  Opposing teams are getting on average 10 second chances a game.  That is simply inexcusable.  Once again, it’ll be interesting to see what Danny does with Darko’s now vacant roster spot.  Do you take a flyer on Kenyon Martin to beef up the front line? Do you put together a trade package for Marcin Gortat?  That package is likely to include Avery Bradley with another roster player.  The Celtics tend to play undersized and their bigs aren’t overly athletic.  There is no easy solution to this problem.  Until it is fixed, the Celtics will not get out of the Eastern Conference come playoff time.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Scottie’s Recap: Celtics Mute Jazz

The Celtics started their stretch of 4 games in 5 nights on the right track with a 98-93 win over the Utah Jazz.  While Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 23 points, it was the play of the bench that was the story in tonight’s game.  Rajon Rondo played just 25 minutes because of a turned ankle he suffered in the 3rd quarter.  He was still able to continue his streak of games with 10 assists to 32 games.

Leandro Barbosa filled in admirably for Rondo.  In 23 minutes he had 16 points and 3 assists.  Barbosa got to the rack at will driving past anyone that attempted to guard him.  Barbosa reminds me a lot of Chris Wilcox with the energy he is capable of bringing off the bench.  Last week, I was apprehensive about the back up point guard situation, but if Barbosa can be a semblance of what he was tonight, the Celtics will be just fine.

Anybody who follows me on Twitter or is friends with me on Facebook is well aware that I went absolutely wild after Jeff Green dunked on Al Jefferson.  I have come to the conclusion I never want to see Green take a jump shot again.  I am yet to see anyone stop him from driving to the basket.  He got to the foul line 7 times tonight because he continues to take the ball hard to the rack.  I am willing to say that if Green can get to the line 6 times a game, there is no doubt in my mind the Celtics will win. Enjoy Rondo’s reaction to the Green dunk.

I have been hard on Courtney Lee the past three games.  Tonight, in 18 minutes, he was a +11.  He had 6 points, 2 rebounds, and an assist.  He was solid on defense and didn’t do anything that made anyone mad about his play.  Truth be told, I am waiting for him to explode on offense.  He has a smooth jump shot and is still trying to find his way with this team.  Everyone else seems to be gelling.  It is time for Lee to become a Celtic.

Interesting stat I will leave everyone with:  The Celtics are 1st in the league in assists.  They’re 30th in the league in rebounds.

The Celtics make their first trip to Brooklyn tomorrow to take on the new look Nets.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Scottie’s Recap: Celtics Snipe Bucks

November 10, 2012 will be a day Celtics fans will remember this season. The Celtics beat the Bucks 96-92 and Jeff Green arrived. If you were only looking at the box score, his stats wouldn’t jump out at you.  In 25 minutes, he had 12 points and 3 rebounds.  But if you watched the game, you know exactly what I am talking about.  Green was awesome in the fourth quarter on both sides of the floor.  Seeing him take the ball hard to the rack was refreshing.  His 8 trips to the charity stripe are very telling.  Green was aggressive taking the ball to the basket.  He is a matchup nightmare for teams around the NBA.  He can post up smaller guards and take bigger forwards off the dribble.  Last night was the first night Celtics fans saw what Jeff Green is capable of.

Now I would be remiss if I didn’t say the true star of the game was Paul Pierce.  Pierce basically traded buckets with Monta Ellis as the game went on.  When Pierce reaches that other level that he gets to from time to time, he is truly unstoppable.  Milwaukee didn’t have anyone that could stop Pierce as he went for 25 points.  He still is very much The Truth.

Doc Rivers obviously read my recap from the 76ers game.  I called out Courtney Lee for not bringing anything to the table through the first 2 weeks of the season.  Doc promptly changed his starting five, putting Lee on the bench, and starting Jason Terry.  The funny thing is, the new starting five didn’t really work.  The Celtics had been getting off to fast starts prior to the change.  Last night they started slow but the end result is all that matters.

Jason Terry was very efficient last night and looks to finally be settling into his new digs.  Terry had 15 points on 5-7 shooting (2-3 from deep).  My concern, however, is the Celtics do not have a back up point guard.  Terry can’t do it.  I am not comfortable with Barbosa in that role.  And I don’t see Courtney Lee capable of handling that responsibility either.  Avery Bradley thrived playing with Rondo last year and struggled when he had to run the offense.  This is something to keep an eye on going forward in the season.

The Celtics travel to the windy city Monday night to take on the Derrick Rose-less Bulls.  The Bulls are 4-2 and are atop the Central Division being led by a resurgent Rip Hamilton.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF.

Scottie’s Recap: Celtics 86’ed by 76ers

There is no true recap for tonight’s game.  Truth be told, I didn’t pay close attention to it like I have the previous 4.  Yeah, we lost to the Philadelphia 76ers and they didn’t have their franchise player, Andrew Bynum.  There are many Celtic fans standing on the Tobin ready to hoist themselves into that dirty water.  I don’t understand why.  We are all upset the Celtics aren’t 5-0 right now, instead they are an ugly 2-3.

My view on the 2012-2013 Boston Celtics?  It is an 82 game audition for the playoffs.  The Celtics easily have the most talent on an NBA roster from 1-12. As Celtics fans we must temper our expectations this early.  When LeBron first took his talents to South Beach, the Heat started out 9-8.  We know what they did from there.  The Lakers are in absolute panic mode after starting 1-4.  They fired their head coach!  The bottom line… Hey Celtics fans, show some trust and have faith in your squad.

On to tonight’s game.

I am yet to talk about Courtney Lee through the first five games of the season.  Truth be told, I wanted the Celtics to use the package they used to acquire Lee, to go get Marcus Camby. They didn’t.  I am over it.  It did not happen.  Courtney Lee hasn’t been good, he hasn’t been bad.  I consider Courtney Lee vanilla ice cream.  I mean, its ice cream, but there ain’t no chocolate chips, no cookie dough, no fudge, but it’s ice cream.  Courtney Lee is purgatory.  He is just there.  I love his on the ball defense.  But he cannot rotate on D if his life depended on it.  I am starting to wonder if Doc should start Barbosa with Rondo.  I have no problems with Lee but I don’t like him either.

In my heart of hearts, (no pun intended because it’d be a God awful pun) I think Jeff Green wants to do big things every time he is on the court.  For us Celtics fans, he is the next Paul Pierce.  Green needs to relax and let the game come to him.  He is a very good basketball player.  He shows flashes of brilliance every few possessions.  I find myself getting so excited every time he touches the ball thinking, this will be when he breaks out.  I need to temper my expectations and he needs to chill out and let the game come to him.

It should be noted Rondo had 20 assists tonight.  I am waiting for someone to tell me he isn’t the best point guard in basketball.  I love arguments.  If no one is going to tell me he isn’t the best in the game at what he does I will start campaigning he is the best player in basketball.  You don’t think I will?  Ask anyone that knows me.  Let’s go.

The Celtics have a quick turnaround and travel to Milwaukee.  Milwaukee has had it’s fair share of visitors.  The French missionaries and explorers were coming there as early as the 1600’s to trade with the Native Americans.  It is actually pronounced  “mill-e-wah-que” which is Algonquin for the “good land.”  (What movie?).

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Celtics Hold On For First Win of Season

Outside of the first 10 minutes of the game, there wasn’t much to be confident about with Boston Celtics.  The Celtics raced out to a 26-12 first quarter lead against the hapless Washington Wizards.  The Wizards, who were without John Wall and Nene, looked as good as what myself and the other 4 people who read this blog would look like in the NBA.  The 12 points given up in the first quarter for the Celtics probably looks good as a stat for their defense.  The reality is Washington missed several wide open shots.

Paul Pierce drilled a deep three late in the fourth that proved to be the dagger.  The fact that any one shot is considered a dagger from last night’s game is laughable.  Pierce did throw up 27 points on 10-22 shooting to go along with 7 rebounds.  Kevin Garnett showed he can still play lock down defense.  He forced Kevin Seraphin (who lit him up all night) to turnover the ball with 11 seconds left that pretty much sealed the Boston W.

With Ray Allen gone, there is zero doubt who will have the ball in late game situations.  I have said this before and I will say it again.  Pierce is a top 5 player in the NBA when the game is on the line.

In the off-season Jason Terry said the Boston bench would never get outscored.  Through 3 games they are yet to outscore their opposition.  In the Washington game, not one guy had a plus in the plus/minus rating.  Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox were -5, Brandon Bass was a -8, and Leandro Barbosa and Jason Terry were both -12.  Thank every higher religious power that Darko’s ass stayed glued to that bench.

Look, in these three posts, the tone of the articles may be that I am really down on the Celtics through three games.  That is not the case.  There is so much talent on this team from 1-12.  They have 79 more games to figure out how to make all that individual talent work as one.  Doc is still trying to figure how to rotate guys in and out, trying to figure out who plays well with who, all while trying to create a rhythm and chemistry on his squad.  This is evidenced by Doc deciding to mix it up already by moving Jared Sullinger into the starting 5 and Brandon Bass to the bench.

For what it is worth, I could care less who starts a game.  I care more about who is on the floor at the end of the game.  That being said, the lineup I like most is Rondo, Pierce, Green, Bass, and Garnett.  I am admittedly enamored with Jeff Green.  I think he has such a smooth game. I think Doc needs to find more minutes for him so he can find his niche with this team.  I really want to see him run with Rondo.

Speaking of Rondo, the shot he hit to beat the shot clock after being blocked was one of the luckiest yet most unreal shot I think I have ever seen in all my years of watching basketball.  Rondo has turned a double double into an average night.  The argument will go on until we are all blue in the face but Rajon Rondo is a top 3 point guard in the league.  I only put Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose ahead of him.  Yes, I think he is better than Deron Williams.

The Celtics’ game is Wednesday, November 7 when the Wizards travel up to Boston.  I expect the Celtics to win this one by at least 15.


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