Tag:Kevin Garnett
Posted on: March 18, 2009 9:09 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2009 3:38 pm
  •  
 

Celtics Weekly: Get Serious On Defense

I can't possibly be the only person watching the Celtics and Heat play right now that is noticing the Celtics have no energy on defense. Boston, both last night against the Bulls and tonight vs. the Wadeless Heat, seem content to sit back and give the opposition open shots in hopes of simply outscoring teams who can put up points as well as anyone in the league.

The stat ESPN just showed is that without Kevin Garnett the Celtics are giving up 99.5 points per game as apposed to 91.6 points per game with the Big Ticket in the lineup.

The fact is that the Celtics aren't missing KG's stats at either end of the floor. When Leon Powe and Glenn Davis played Garnett's minutes they were matching his numbers point for point and board for board. So if Garnett's statistical production is being accounted for, why are the Celtics only 9-6 when he is out of the lineup this season?

Simple Answer: Leadership. You can say all you want about Paul Pierce being the captain of this team, but when the Celtics are out on the floor Garnett is the general. KG is the one who is not only organizing the troops on defense, but moving the ball around on the offensive end of the floor to ensure the C's are getting legitimate production. The Celtics without KG are so unbelievable unpatient when they have the ball it is sickening. They are very reminiscent of my cousin's high school team (his team was 4-20 this season).

I know it isn't in the Celtics' nature to panic, especially with a playoff spot locked up, and I also don't usually take what Mark Jackson says to heart, but he made a comment earlier in the telecast tonight when he said, "I hope the Celtics don't get in the habit of thinking it is okay to lose games". Right now Boston has come out and acknowledged that winning is secondary to being healthy. It makes sense to a point that being healthy for the playoffs is more important that having an amazing regular season record, but if the Celtics stumble their way into the postseason, is it even going to matter if they are heathly? 

 

Posted on: February 23, 2009 1:36 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2009 2:28 pm
 

Celtics Weekly: Life Without KG a Good Thing?

Okay, I wouldn't go that far, but the Celtics haven't exactly folded under the pressure when Kevin Garnett hasn't been able to suit up. Don't get me wrong, I would much rather see #5 in the lineup than not, but over the last two seasons The Big Ticket has missed a total of 15 games, during which the C's have gone an impressive 13-2 including last night's 128-108 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

With Garnett out of the lineup, there were several nagging aspects of the Celtics' game that were highlighted:

Can Perkins, Davis, and Powe carry Boston down low for 3 weeks? When the trio of "centers" on the Celtics' roster picked up a combined 5 personal fouls in the first 6 minutes of the game last night working on Shaq, I know I wasn't the only one saying, "this is going to be a long 2-3 weeks with these three knuckleheads as the only options to play the five." The three-amigos went on to shoot 8-9 from the field for a combined 20 points and 15 boards and only picked up 6 fouls the rest of the way. If Big Baby can show some consistancy shooting jumpers, Powe maintains his intensity down low, and Perkins keeps developing offensively down low the C's should be able to fight the Cavs for the #1 playoff spot in the East until KG gets back.

Can Perkins, Davis, Powe, and Garnett carry Boston down low throughout the playoffs? When the trade between the Hornets and Thunder fell through there was much rejoicing in Beantown because Joe Smith was not only once again on the block, but outwardly saying he wanted to come and play for the Celtics. Even after the trade deadline passed, the 13-year vet, who at 6-10 and accustomed to coming off the bench, would be the perfect fit in the Boston lineup, said that he was looking for a buyout of his contract so he could join the defending champs. Yesterday the former #1 overall pick quelled those rumors saying he was staying in Oklahoma City for the remainder of the season. I wouldn't give up hope, however. Oklahoma City has no shot at the playoffs, and since they were unable to move Smith's expiring $4.7 million contract he has no value left, and the team could use Smith's playing time to develop younger talent. Although Smith said he's staying put, it wouldn't be the first time that an athlete said something that was changed later.

How good is Rajon Rondo? Simple answer, he's pretty good. However, don't expect the Celtics' point guard to start consistantly hitting threes as the shot clock expires, shooting 75% from the field, and dropping 30 points a night. Remember, earlier this year Rondo set his career high in points against these same Suns at 25 before besting that number by 1 the following night. It is no secret that the Suns' defensive is utterly miserable and expect Rondo to come back to Earth tonight when he matches up against Chauncey Billups in Denver. He will score more without KG in the lineup, but I'm thinking somewhere along the lines of 18 points per night, up from his season average of nearly 12.

Posted on: January 14, 2009 10:04 pm
 

Celtics Weekly: 3 down,17 to go for new record...

It seems all the Boston Celtics needed to get back on track was a short stretch of games against the relatively pathetic Atlantic Division. After thoroughly throttling the Raptors in Toronto, then coming home to squeek one out against the same Raptor squad in overtime, the C's knocked off the Nets to make it a cool three in row before heading off to New Jersey for their second straight home and home.

So what happened to that team that went on a 2-7 streak over the last few weeks? We can only hope that they have gone far away for a long time, but what has changed over the last three contests (putting aside the fact that the games were against lesser opponents) is the following:

1) Getting the ball to the big-3: Over the last three games Paul Pierce has averaged 24 points (4 above his season avg.), Garnett 18 (2 above his season avg.), and Allen 20 (2 above his season avg.). Those slight PPG increase may not seem like a big deal, but if the big-3 had scored 8 points a game more during the previous nine games, the C's go 7-2, their only loses coming to the Golden State and Cleveland.

2) Rondo's confidence: Because Rajon Rondo has won a championship, sometimes you forget that this is only his second year as a starting pointguard and he is subject to those same distractions that affect other young players...like someone taking your job. When the rumors of Stephon Marbury signing with the Celtics were at the height, Rondo was at his worst. Whereas before he was driving the lane, both dishing and scoring, he fell into a rut where he averaged more than a turnover a game more than his season average. Last three games, back to normal for Rondo's solid 3/1 assist to turnover ratio.

3) Energy Level and Confidence: There is no statistic that can quantifiy the effort put into a game or the pressure players put on themselves to succeed. During the losing streak, the Celtics were PITIFUL in the fourth quarter shooting the basketball around 29% from the floor. The only explanation for that is they were pressing. When you have lost a number of games in a row, all you can think as the clock is winding down is, "let's just not lose this one" instead of "let's do what it takes to win". The C's clearly have the veterans that can change that mentality in a snap, which they've done over the last week and Boston's composure against the Raptors in a tight spot in overtime confirmed that the good old Celts that won 19 in a row are back...and hopefully up for another 19.

On a side note, how much fun was it to watch back to back games where the centers for both teams tossed up threes like shooting guards. When Brian Scalabrine and Andrea Bargnani were matchup up against each other, both Toronto and Boston were basically playing centerless with an extra small forward on the floor. The two "centers" combined for 9-20 from behind the arc over the two game span...not bad for a couple of big white boys.

Posted on: December 29, 2008 10:46 am
 

Celtics Weekly: C's still the team to beat?

It started out as a Christmas vacation for the ages. The Pats could gain a playoff birth in the final week of the season, the Sox could land Mark Teixeira and be on their way to another title, and the Celtics could win 20 in a row by knocking off the Lakers at home on Christmas day.

It didn't quite turn out that way.

But with the Patriots season over and with the burner on the Red Sox Hot Stove Report turned down to a simmer, we turn our attention fully to the Celtics (and Bruins I suppose). So after a pair of West Coast losses are the C's still the team to beat? The answer to that question is an simply: Yes.

While the loss on Christmas day to the Lakers was disapointing, it in no way proved that Los Angeles is the better team. At times L.A. even looked desperate as Luke Walton and Lamar Odom uncharacteristically tossed up threes (the two had made a combined 11 3-pointers the entire season coming into the game and knocked down 2 each against the C's) and the ever improving Rajon Rondo was able to pick apart the Laker D even though he was mired in foul trouble from the openning whistle.

Then the following day, putting aside the "let down" factor of having a long winning streak snapped, Golden State is just one of those teams that can't necissarily be stopped by a good defense. The Warriors are a team of free-shooting point-scorers that take bad shots and, if they make them, are impossible to stop. The Celtics ran into them on a hot night, just like the Lakers ran into a Sacramento team that had a hot hand last week and lost. Those things happen.

Here are several reason why the Celtics are still the best team in the land:

1) It was just a loss. Sports analyst and fans alike played up this Christmas day matchup to be some sort of NBA finals equivalent. The fact of the matter is that it was just one more notch in the loss column for Boston. It counts the same as the losses to Indiana, Denver, and Golden State. In the long term, all that matters is that the Celtics finish the season with a better record than the Cavs and Magic.

2) The Celtics are getting better. After their record setting 19th straight win Greg Dickerson asked Kevin Garnett if the Celtics could get better, to which he responded "hell yeah" several times (with apologies to all of the children who might have heard him). One of the things Boston's big man stressed was that the C's had to play consistent defense and not allow any period of let-up for the entire game. Last night against Sacramento the Kings never scored more than 17 points in any quarter. Thanks for the pep-talk KG!

3) Boston is not satisfied. After Los Angeles beat the Celtics on Christmas Day there were streamers and confetti raining down from the ceiling like they had just won the NBA championship. What non-sense. Boston has become a championship city and after the Patriots went 16-0 and then lost the Superbowl, the athletes and fans in this town know that winning streaks and regular season records can be forgotten, but championship remain in the rafters forever.

Posted on: December 18, 2008 3:22 pm
 

Celtics Weekly: 'Win out' for the Holidays

      

On December 8th during the producation of Pardon the Interuption, when Wilbon and Kornheiser were playing the percentages game, Tony Reali asked the two hosts what percent chance the Celtics had of making it to Christmas without losing a game. Wilbon said 40% and Kornheiser 60%, but both explained that the tough stretch for Boston would come when during a three game streak they faced the Hornets and Jazz at home and then went on the road to Atlanta. They added that If the C's could get by those teams successfully, then they would have a 100% chance of winning their next three games against Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia.

According to the PTI crew, chalk the Celtics up as 27-2.

Although the upcoming three games won't challenge Boston as much as the previos trio, they shouldn't necissarily be a cake walk either. Yes all three are at home against teams that currently have a losing record, but here's what we're looking at for matchups:

12-19 vs. Chicago: The Bulls, for the second straight year are underachieving. Two years ago they were seen as a positive example of what patience and player development could do; draft well, don't spend on big-time stars, and you'll be successful. Well, it's not working so well anymore. Yes, the Celtics should win this game, but if Ben Gordon shoots out of his mind (which he is capable of doing), Derrick Rose controls the offense, and Tyrus Thomas can somehow contain KG (unlikely, but who knows) the Bulls can make a game of it.

12-21 vs. New York: This is a totally different team than the Celtics saw a month ago in Madison Square Garden. The additions of Al Harrington and Tim Thomas give the Knicks a legitimate inside game that can match up with Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnet, not to mention that Chris Duhon has become well adjusted to the Knicks offense and is thriving. The name of the game is going to be score early and often. New York has 8 players (7 discounting the retired Cutino Mobley) who average double figures in scoring and the boys from the Big Apple were close to out dueling the Lakers two nights ago (losing 114-116). Don't be surprised if the Knicks make it close in a shootout.

12-23 vs. Philadelphia: After signing Elton Brand in the offseason to compliment Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller, The now 11-14 76ers were supposed to give the C's a run for their money in the Atlantic Division. With Philly already 12.5 games back and Brand sidelined with a dislocated shoulder the Sixers are fading fast. Boston beat the 76ers soundly in Philly 102-78 in November, now, playing at home in a tune-up game for a Christmas day matchup with the Lakers, and with the Sixers' best player wearing street clothes with his arm in a sling, I would expect the Celts to take this one by at least 20. What could make this a close game is if Boston uncharacteristically looks past the struggling Sixers to LA and somehow get caught with their pants down. Far fetched, but I've heard of stranger things.

While the Celtics don't have to go on the road and play in a brutal atmosphere like Atlanta (PA announcer starting all the cheers was really tacky), or go up against the NBA's best pointguard like New Orleans, the three upcoming Eastern Conference matchups shouldn't be complete blowouts. Hopefully Boston can give their fans a 20 game win streak for Christmas.

Posted on: December 13, 2008 12:22 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2008 12:28 pm
 

Celtics Weekly: The new "Big Baby" is Chris Paul

                                                         

After watching the Celtics win their 22nd game of the season last night against the New Orleans Hornets three things became very obvious to me:

1) Paul Pierce is at his best in big games. During the four games prior to Friday night Pierce was shooting a sub-par 33% from the field, connected on only 3 three pointers, and averaged over 3 turnovers per game. But then the Hornets came to town. Against a team that is the best the Celtics have faced all month, a team which was a pre-season favorite to go to the NBA championship from the Western Conference, and on national television Paul Pierce dropped 28 points (9-17 from the field hitting 2 from downtown) while also contributing 6 boards and 6 assists as well as only 2 turnovers. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are both future hall of famers, but when the game is on the line, I want the ball in the hands of Paul Pierce.

2) Chris Paul is still the same old cry baby. Last season when the Hornets visited Boston in late March they got whacked by the Celts 112-92. During the beginning of the fourth quarter Chris Paul walked around the court like he was lost. Byron Scott eventually sat him down and everyone watched as Paul sat quietly on the bench with a towel over his head and defeated look on him face. The same exact thing happened last night in the fourth. Paul started committing stupid fouls and throwing up prays down the stretch instead of acting like a leader. Could you ever see KG, Pierce, or Allen pulling something like that? Paul has a little work in front of him before he is able to lead his team to a title.

3) Rajon Rondo still has a ways to go. Rondo has no doubt played at an all-star calibur so far this season. Last night, playing arguably the best pointguard in the league in Chris Paul, Rondo struggled mightily. Rondo can afford to shoot poorly from time to time (4-12 last night), but when that happens he needs to revert to being a point, dishing balls out, playing tough D, and energizing his team. His 2 assist, 2 turnover, 1 steal performance last night wasn't getting the job done. While I have high hopes for Rondo, I think "Rondomania" may have swept Celtics nation a little prematurely. He has to learn how to be composed in big games if he is to reach elite PG status.

While last night was an big win for the C's, I'm not convinced they have it all over the Hornets. Yes, they did hold New Orleans to 35% shooting from the floor, but that was without center Tyson Chandler in the lineup. When Boston travels down South in February I think we'll all get a better idea of how these two squads will matchup come (dare I say it?) championship time.

Posted on: November 27, 2008 11:31 am
 

Celtics Weekly: Warrior Woes and Great Guard Play

In a game where the Boston bench for the first time this season noticably underperformed, shooting only 4 of 12 from the field and largely contributing to the C's 13 point deficit at halftime, the Celtics' starters rose to the occasion to help lead the the green to a 119-111 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

All five Celtic staters played well above their season averages in minutes and the increase in playing time was reflected in the stats as Allen (25), Rondo (22), Pierce (21), and Garnett (21) all dropped more than 20 points. The story of the game, however, was two sided; the gigantic holes in Golden State's game showing in the second half and Rajon Rondo's offensive surge in the 3rd quarter.

The Warriors' large halftime lead was due in large part to their shooting 55% from the floor in the openning two quarters, and contrary to popular belief, that inflated fieldgoal percentage isn't necissarily a product of poor Celtics defense, but the Warriors' willingness to settle for long jumpshots and, at the same time, the ability to knock them down. On the fast break in the first half the C's played solid D by clogging the lane and forcing Golden State to take tough shots, and the trigger happy ballers from the west coast just happened to get them to fall.

That wasn't the case in the second half.

Golden State's inability to pass up long, open shots in exchange for developing a play to the point where they can get inside for an easy hoop hurt them, shooting only 39% from the floor and scoring a total of 38 points in the paint for the game (compared to the C's 66). In defense of the Warriors, their only inside threat, Andris Biedrins, was abused during the second half, forcing more ill-advised shots from perimeter players, but the fact that the Warriors are undersized isn't going to change without personel changes and their inside game (or lack there of) will lead to them being exposed game after game because they can't win unless they shoot out of their minds like they did in the first half last night.

Another drawback to the Warriors' lack of any inside presence is that they can't crash the boards on either end of the floor, ultimately resulting in the Celtics outscoring them on second chance points 24-6.

The Warrior's inability to stop the Celtics in the paint in the second half, interestingly enough, didn't lead to a big game for Garnett or Perkins, but to the Celtics' most consistant player so far this season; Rajon Rondo. In the third period the Celtics' point guard was able to drive the hole and match the entire Golden State team by scoring 16 points and singlehandedly erasing a 14 point hole. Rondo, along with putting up a season high 22 points, took down 8 boards and added 7 assists, all of which led to Paul Pierce saying after the game that, "I think when he's on [Rondo] like he's on tonight, we're unstoppable".

The Celtics, now 14-2, playing a strenuous schedule with more games against winning teams in a shorter length of time than a year ago, have the same mark as they did last season through their first 16 games. I know you're all thinking it, so, Is it too early to crown the Boston Celtics Atlantic division champions?

Posted on: November 21, 2008 3:52 pm
 

Celtics Weekly: The Big 3 vs. The Little 2?

If Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett are the Big Three, then I guess that makes Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins the Little Two.

Reggie Miller is a knucklehead, but he did make one good point last night. He mentioned that people just assumed the Celtics SHOULD win a championship because they went out and got Garnett and Allen to help support Pierce last year; but he also pointed out that that was a ridiculous assumption. He supported his arguement by providing instances where teams were stacked with hall of famers in order to win championships but ultimatley fell short: The Lakers' signings of Malone and Payton to compliment Shaq and Kobe, and the aquisition of Barkley and Pippen to back up Hakeem in Houston.

"The Celtics must have done something differently here to win a championship", Miller mused.

Exactly. The C's go more than three deep. They also have Rondo and Perkins.

Last night against the Detroit Pistons, as team that just knocked off the Cavaliers and Lakers in back to back games, die-hard Rajon Rondo fans like my girlfriend had a lot to cheer about. The Celtics' smallest starter came up huge, out duelling fellow pointguard and future hall of famer Allen Iverson to the tune of a game high 18 points and 8 assists.

When asked before the season what his personal goals were for the season, Rondo didn't say that he wanted to become a bigger scoring threat or be the best pointguard in the league, but he merely stated that he had two goals; get the the free throw line more and make the NBA's all-defensive team. Doesn't that sound like a guy that you want in your starting lineup?

Perkins, although he didn't fare as well offensively as you thought he might have against an overall disapointing Kwame Brown last night, was able to pull down a game high 10 boards shot 50% from the field. The biggest improvement in Perkins' game this year is his passing. He only had one helper last night, but Rondo, Powe, and Pierce all missed layups after the C's starting big man put balls right in their hands streaking to the dish.

You can tell that Garnett's presence has had an amazing influence on Perkins on both ends of the floor, but unfortunately it has also affected his oncourt demeanor as well. With one second left in the first half Perkins ran his mouth after an altercation with the Piston's Brown and ended up getting slapped with his 7th technical foul in 13 games this season. After Iverson made the shot it brought Detroit to within seven at the break, and although it didn't end up costing the C's last night, Perkins can't be giving away free points every other game. If there is anything Perkins should learn from Garnett it is that although it is okay to talk smack to get pumped up, doing what is best for the team always comes first, even if that means swallowing your pride (Sorry for the corny lesson...but the big boy's got to learn!).

Look out for Rondo and Perkins (if he says out of foul trouble) to play a larger role in C's success throughout the year...and after watching the way the little guy played against Iverson last night, don't be surprised if he accomplished his goal of being on the All-defensive team!

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com