We are so close to the start of the season, but today is likely to be pretty quiet on the news front. So rather than writing something about Jarrell Eddie or someone else who probably won’t play in 2014-15, let’s take a look ahead at November — probably the most difficult month Boston will have this season. Away games abound, as do Western Conference playoff matchups. Will Boston surprise out of the gate like they did in 2013-14, or will we be well on our way to a #TankForTowns or #0ferForOkafor season?
Let’s take a look.
Oct. 29: Brooklyn Nets (Home)
One old friend, a few new faces, but generally the Nets will be the same team we’ve seen every day several times already in the preseason. Just, you know, better because Jerome Jordan and Markel Brown won’t be getting a ton of minutes.
Projection: Five-point loss.
Nov. 1: Houston Rockets (Away)
Bang on James Harden’s defense and the Rockets’ failed offseason all you want (and you aren’t wrong for doing so), but this is a very, very good team — a clear playoff squad in the loaded Western Conference. Boston might be in trouble.
Rondo is ramping up his contact activities this week and the team has not ruled out the potential that their All-Star point guard could be ready for the start of the 2014-15 season. Ultimately, that call lies with the team’s medical staff, who are expected to reevaluate how the bone in Rondo’s left hand is healing early next week.
“It’s not my call, that’s the way I look at it,” said Stevens. “When [team trainer] Ed [Lacerte] tells me that someone is ready to play, that’s the go-ahead to let them play. And I wouldn’t rush it. I would not be up here and say, ‘We really need this person on Tuesday night.’ It’s just the way it goes. I’m the son of a doctor, I get it. I realize I don’t know a lot when it comes to medicine. I let them do their job and they do a great job.”
Again, I’m not sure how much the exact timing matters here, except that it would be really nice to see Rondo in action on opening night. If he isn’t back against Brooklyn on Wednesday, he might be back next Saturday against the Rockets or Monday against the Mavericks. No matter when he comes back, it’s clearly going to be a huge boost for Boston’s lineup, and it’s excellent to hear that his recovery is progressing quickly.
Not that’s it’s news that Rondo is a tough guy. This is the same point guard who once bent his elbow entirely the wrong way and finished a high-pressure postseason game playing with one arm. A broken non-shooting hand? I’m surprised he even sat out the preseason.
Jared Sullinger has been arguably the biggest story of the preseason, with his perfect balance of rebounding, banging around the rim and 3-point shooting, but Jay King of MassLive has an interesting story up about Boston’s massively improved ball movement — a less-obvious but perhaps equally encouraging development.
“I just thought we played as individuals (last year),” (Sullinger) told MassLive.com last week after a practice in Brooklyn. “Everybody was out there trying to get theirs.”
Sullinger goes on to say that Boston’s preseason play has been a big upgrade. There’s a lot in that story worth checking out, and toward the end, Gerald Wallace gets in on the action.
“I just see growth,” (Wallace) said. “I think growth with the coaching staff, growth with the players and the team we have.”
Boston’s locker room always looked remarkably upbeat and positive last season, given the team’s struggles, but it’s fascinating to hear that Sullinger was frustrated with last year’s ball movement especially when you see the way this year’s team has been passing and running the floor.
Last night’s game against Brooklyn featured several sequences that demonstrated this nicely, but perhaps none were more indicative than midway through the second quarter when the Celtics really began to play the way Brad Stevens seems to be planning for the 2014-15 season.
As we bid the 2014-15 preseason farewell, let’s take a look back at yet another entertaining win.
Three Things We Liked
1. Jared Sullinger: Who are you?
I have a request from Celtics fans as the season approaches: Can we avoid comparisons?
See, it’s really easy to laugh at overly optimistic fans, especially overly optimistic fans of teams with massive, nationwide fan bases. Search “Kelly Olynyk is the next Dirk Nowitzki!” on Twitter, and you’ll find results. Search “Ryan Kelly is the next Dirk Nowitzki!” on Twitter, and you’ll find results. These are ridiculous, half-baked comparisons with little-to-no basis in reality and a lot of basis in absurd optimism.
The biggest problem with these comparisons is that they raise expectations completely unrealistically. For instance, if I said “Wow, Jared Sullinger’s ceiling is Kevin Love!”, basketball Twitter as a whole would (correctly) scoff at me and click away from this recap. PLEASE DON’T CLICK AWAY FROM MY RECAP. Read the rest of this entry »
At today’s Board of Governors meeting, owners voted down NBA draft lottery reform. Proponents of changing the system to discourage losing as much as possible got just 17 votes — more than half, but not enough to meet the required 23 necessary to make the switch midseason.
This was a shocker.
Yesterday, both Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe — arguably the two most reliable reporters in the game at the moment — both had sources telling them that the lottery reform was a done deal. The only teams who were allegedly supporting the current system weren’t much of a surprise: Philadelphia and Oklahoma City. Philadelphia, of course, wants to keep its draft lottery odds in the short term as high as possible. Oklahoma City, meanwhile, has had a ton of success tanking and is potentially looking ahead to a future without Kevin Durant.
Everyone else, it seemed, was fed up with Philadelphia’s crap. Apparently, though, they weren’t fed up enough to make such a quick decision on the change. Read the rest of this entry »
Get excited boys and girls…the Celtics rank 24th in NBA League Pass rankings! That’s the “honor” old friend and CelticsHub alumnus Zach Lowe joined forces with Bill Simmons on Tuesday to hand to Boston as they released Part I of their annual League Pass column on Grantland where they decipher the most enjoyable teams to watch on a regular basis throughout the season. Seeing as both are very informed Celtic observers, the back-and-forth on Boston is certainly worth our attention. Here’s the exchange:
Simmons: Our most shocking League Pass Rankings moment other than us nearly getting into an online fistfight about Charlotte — you gave the Celts more League Pass points than I did! I gave them 21, you gave them 23. I lost some major homer cred here.
Lowe: This is called “Bill comes to his senses.” You rated Boston above the Spurs last year.
Simmons: You promised me you’d never bring that up again.
Lowe: Honestly, it was hard to forgive you. But, hey, Boston looks kind of feisty in the preseason, with all the perimeter defense, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk gunning 3s, and some other fun things! Add Rondo, a great court, and the right dose of Tommy Heinsohn, and they could be watchable, right? Read the rest of this entry »
The Celtics locker room just got a little bit less crowded ahead of the team’s opener next week. Brad Stevens told reporters today in Waltham that the team will let go Tim Frazier, Christian Watford, Erik Murphy and Rodney McGruder.
Frazier might actually be sticking around for an extra day to play some minutes since Stevens plans on holding back the starters from a full night of work against Brooklyn.
“We’re going to keep Tim through tomorrow night,” Stevens explained, “And he knows that, because of potential minutes tomorrow night. But all four of those guys will be waived and they’ve been great. I wish I didn’t have to waive them, they’ve been great teammates, they’ve put in extra work, they’ve come back in small groups and worked. But a couple of them had made mention that they’ve gotten better and that makes me feel good. They were all real professionals about it. I will root for them for sure.”
That brings the Celtics roster down to 16 players. With Will Bynum likely to be the odd man out in an upcoming trade this week, rookie Dwight Powell’s roster spot appears to be safe for the time being.
We’ve pretty well established here on Celtics Hub that our hopes are not high for Boston being a playoff team in 2014-15, but as fans and writers, we are still going to have to suffer through 82 games, no matter how many are wins and losses.
For those of you who, like me, plan to watch every minute of the Celtics season, the news out of practice today was fantastic: Rajon Rondo is progressing well and might even be ready to go on opening night.
In honor of the 44-minute game experiment Boston and Brooklyn participated in on Sunday, this recap has been adjusted accordingly.
Three Things We Liked
1. Jared Sullinger was DESTRUCTIVE around the.
We know that if Sully can knock down 3-pointers this season, opposing defenses will struggle to guard. If he can continue to mix in his penchant for offensive rebounds with long-range shooting, he’ll be deadly both in the paint and behind the 3-point. That kind of versatility will be.
2. Can Brandon Bass hit corner?
Okay, so the sample size (one 3-pointer with the clock winding down) is limited, to say the. But at media day, Bass said he worked on corner 3-pointers over the summer, and if he can knock them down with any kind of consistency, a contender would really benefit from acquiring. Nobody is going to offer up a first-round pick, but perhaps the Celtics could wrangle something else of value while simultaneously giving Bass a chance to succeed on a better. Read the rest of this entry »
I had a great plan to title this post “44 minutes of Hell” based upon the name of Nolan Richardson’s vaunted full-court press, which doubles as the name my intramural basketball team with fellow contributor Brendan Jackson. However the Celtics had to ruin that bulletproof plan by coming back from a 17-point second half deficit Sunday after night and taking home a 95-90 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Beyond that mild personal disappointment, there was plenty to like in this affair from a Celtics standpoint after an ugly first half where the visitors failed to show up on the offensive end. From that point, a combination of Jared Sullinger (21 points, 19 rebounds), Marcus Smart (impressive defense and some outside shooting off the bench), and Brandon Bass (hello, corner three-pointer) help the Celtics put together their second straight preseason win. Read the rest of this entry »