With 4:44 remaining in the Boston Celtics’ 94-88 loss to Portland on Sunday, Tommy Heinsohn said “They may not win the game,” explaining that the Celtics needed to see some shots go down to get their confidence back up.
Yes, you read correctly: Tommy Heinsohn conceded before the final buzzer — in a single-digit game, no less — that the Celtics weren’t going to win. And at the time, he was obviously correct, because the Celtics were mired in an atrocious shooting slump — one of the worst we’ve seen so far this season.
Boston finished 38.9 percent from the field and 21.7 percent from 3-point range, but even those numbers seem generous given how poorly the team shot in the fourth quarter. The Celtics bricked 3-pointers and mid-range jumpers. They blew layups and missed easy putbacks. In a weird way, it resembled last year’s squad late in the season — aware of the tanking talk around the team and seemingly compliant with it.
But the Celtics weren’t tanking on Sunday. It was just one of those strange phenomenons that seems to happen so frequently in sports: One player misses a shot and begins thinking about why. The next time he gets the ball, he thinks he has fixed the flaw in the problem, so he fires up another shot and misses that one too. Now he’s starting to get worried, since three straight misses means he’s officially “off” and people will start to wonder. Naturally, he begins to press, and his next two shots are off as well. His teammates start to notice that he is out of sync, and they start thinking about their mechanics as well. Pretty soon, everybody is botching their shots, and things feel completely off-kilter.
Or maybe that’s just me during pick-up. I dunno.
To their credit, the Celtics pulled themselves together a bit late and made a game of it. Jared Sullinger drained a three, Avery Bradley finally knocked one down after missing his first seven, and then Sully knocked down another. Boston pulled within four with under a minute remaining and had a pair of opportunities to make it a one-possession game. But Jeff Green air-balled a 3-pointer from halfway to Worcester, and Sullinger rimmed out a step-back 3-pointer as well, and Portland pulled out the win.
Once again, the Celtics competed against a very good team, and — once again — the team is going to be upset with the outcome. They probably should be. They missed a ton of shots and couldn’t close out yet another close game. I keep pounding the same keys on my keyboard, saying the same things over and over again. We are only 12 games in, and this season is already starting to feel as repetitive as the last.
Jesse will be by later with grades. On a lighter note, let me leave you with James Young being fun in Maine.
After a quick two game road trip, the Celtics are back at home and host the Blazers tonight at the Garden. Portland is a very good team, making it to the second round of the very crowded Western Conference Playoffs last season. They bring to Boston a six game winning streak, most recently blowing the doors off of Chicago.
After tonight, the Celtics are off until a Friday afternoon game at home against the Bulls. The Celtics will be looking to pick up a win and give Celtics Nation just a little something extra to be thankful for this Thursday.
What the Celtics Must Do to Win:
After allowing 117 points Friday night to a Grizzlies team not known for their scoring, the Celtics’ defense will have to show up if they want to contend tonight.
Jared Sullinger, PF25 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | -14
As great as it is to see Sullinger stretch the floor and shoot 50 percent from 3-point range, Zach Randolph wasn’t exactly concerned with Sully’s defense.
Jeff Green, SF34 MIN | 3-11 FG | 6-8 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -18
The good news: Jeff Green is averaging the most free throws per game of his career so far, indicating an aggressiveness we haven’t seen to this point. He took eight on Friday — a very acceptable number. The bad news: 3-for-11 shooting, and — at times — a return to the floating tendencies that have angered Celtics fans for years.
Kelly Olynyk, C27 MIN | 6-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +2
It was great to see Olynyk bounce back in the second half, scoring in a variety of creative ways. He was, of course, somewhat helpless defensively against Memphis’ frontline, but such is life.
Rajon Rondo, PG28 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -19
The screen-cap attached to these grades was Rondo’s interest level in this game conveniently summed up in one fourth-quarter camera shot. Was this his first truly bad game of the year?
Avery Bradley, PG25 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -15
Bradley is shooting a confounding 52.3 percent from 16-23 feet and 33.3 percent from 3-point range.
Dwight Powell, PF2 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | 0
Congrats to Dwight Powell for his first varsity points!
Brandon Bass, PF18 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | 0
Bass gets his usual B-level grade with a plus for his pretty up-and-under and-one in the first half.
Tyler Zeller, C17 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -17
Tyler Zeller shot below 50 percent for a game, and nothing makes sense anymore (he’s still shooting 75.7 percent this season).
Phil Pressey, PG20 MIN | 0-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +2
A return to last year’s stat lines for Pressey: Way more assists than turnovers, way more misses than makes and a couple of steals collected in part because he’s small and sneaky.
James Young, SG2 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0
It’s tough to grade two-minute games without seeming unfair.
Marcus Thornton, SG19 MIN | 4-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -4
Asking a scorer to score efficiently shouldn’t be THAT tall a task, right?
Evan Turner, SG23 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -2
Turner continues to do some nice things when he’s in. He ran a few really solid pick-and-roll sets last night.
Memphis is a nightmare matchup for the Celtics, so give the Celtics some credit for showing up and making a game of it through three quarters. Bass getting more minutes than Zeller still doesn’t quite compute at this point, however.
The Celtics ended their three game losing streak with a bounce-back win over the hapless Philadelphia 76ersWednesday night.
Tonight the Celtics are in Memphis to take on the Grizzlies, one of the best teams in the association. Boston comes into the game ranked in the top 10 in scoring and in offensive efficiency. Against the Grizz and their notoriously stingy defense, the Celtics will have to prove their offensive prowess is for real.
The C’s may be getting off lucky, however, and all because of a very strange injury report coming out of Memphis.
Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired
In one of the more bizarre stories to come out of the young NBA season, nearly half of the Memphis Grizzlies roster has dealt with the stomach flu in the past few days.
This post is written by guest CelticsHub stats contributor Harrison Chase
The Celtics have trotted out to a fast start this year on offense, quickly compiling at a top ten offense, a feat few could have predicted. However, as good as they have been on offense, they have arguably been worse on defense. With a bottom ten defense, there are surely many things that could be improved, but today I will focus on rim protection on a whole, using SportVu’s new player tracking data to gain new insights.
Struggling to protect the rim is, unfortunately, an issue that isn’t new in the Brad Stevens era. Last year, they allowed teams to score nearly 55% of their shots at the rim, a mark that was the fifth worse in the league. In addition to that, the Celtics allowed teams to shoot a ton of shots at the rim – according to Basketball Reference, opposing teams attempted 31.7% of their shots within 3 feet from the basket, the most of all teams. So last year they allowed a ton of shots at the rim, and they didn’t defend those very well. Not a winning combination. Unfortunately this year hasn’t gone much better. They are allowing nearly the same proportion of shots (32.5%) at the rim and are actually defending them worse (54.3%). Read the rest of this entry »
Post written by new CelticsHub contributor Jesse Alling
Boston might not be very good this year (although having a top 10 offense makes things much more interesting), but that doesn’t mean we can’t determine who should have use as a rotation fixture for when the playoffs do return. Some are an obvious yes (Rondo, Smart, Bradley), some a pretty clear no (poor Gerald Wallace, if he’s even still alive). James Young and Dwight Powell haven’t given enough of a sample size to make a case for either way, but they’ve at least shown flashes warranting a continued look in the preseason.
Kelly Olynyk is the one guy I’m really not sold on one way or the other. After watching him last year, this probably would have been my answer — I’m pretty sure he had more defensive three second violations than points — but the feel-good nature of the offense so far has given some new vigor to his potential outlook. It’s time to see what exactly he brings to the table and what needs to develop for him to be a viable rotation player on the future championship juggernaut developing in Boston.
You know when you go to a local gym for a pickup game, and there’s always one un-athletic guy who’s warming up and has some weird dribble or shot form or just looks awkward in general? You think to yourself, “What a scrub, I want to be on him all night.” Then you start playing, and the guy pulls out some weird crossover that completely breaks your ankles, and you get embarrassed and promise yourself you’ll never let that happen again. Except it does, and you can never figure out for the rest of the night how he keeps doing it, and it drives you bonkers. No? Maybe I’m just terrible at basketball. It’s entirely possible.
Jared Sullinger, PF31 MIN | 10-15 FG | 1-3 FT | 9 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 22 PTS | +611 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, 18 coming in the second half. On a team in dire need of finishers, Sully showed his willingness to step up to the plate last night during a dominating fourth quarter.
Jeff Green, SF38 MIN | 5-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +11Ugly shooting in the first half, but any time Jeff Green puts together a double-double, it’s worth doing cartwheels enough. Was a big part of Celtics improved defensive effort in the second half as well.
Kelly Olynyk, C25 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -5A decent bounceback after Monday’s stinker, but Philly’s athletic bigs wreaked havoc against him early on. Olynyk also continues to give up a few too many open jumpers that turn into turnovers afterwards. Still doing enough to keep his starting job for the time being.
Rajon Rondo, PG30 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 13 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 9 PTS | +7Everyone will rave about the 13 assists, but I’m more concerned about the turnover bug he is maintaining. Six turnovers in 30 minutes is inexcusable, even against an aggressive team like Philly. He was a big part of why C’s fell behind early in the first half, even though he helped make up for it with a strong fourth quarter.
Avery Bradley, PG28 MIN | 3-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | 0Can someone on the coaching staff go over with Avery about why telegraphing cross-court passes are a bad idea?
Brandon Bass, PF32 MIN | 9-13 FG | 5-7 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 23 PTS | +19Kept the Celtics in the game in the first half. Helped win the game for them in the second half. Season-high in minutes, points and a stellar effort on the defensive end makes me wonder how much more of Bass we will see against imposing offenses in the next couple of weeks.
Tyler Zeller, C8 MIN | 0-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 1 PTS | +2Athletic big men are just not a good matchup for Tyler. In the good news department, he didn’t do much damage to that 80 percent field goal shooting percentage!
Phil Pressey, PG13 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +6A nice spark of energy off the bench in the second half. He still looks like one of the fastest point guards in the league when you give him space and he actually found an opening to finish a layup against Philly’s D.
Marcus Thornton, SG20 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +11An efficient night for a guy who did his job scoring big off the bench. In an added bonus, he contributed three steals on the defensive end. Stevens has to find a way to keep giving him consistent minutes, even when Smart comes back.
Evan Turner, SG15 MIN | 0-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -2Poor Evan got booed all night, even though he wanted to stay in Philly instead of being traded to Indy. Sixers fans are the worst.
Pushed the right buttons on the bench by giving Bass and Thornton extended minutes.
The Celtics came into Wednesday night’s game needing a win, and there is no better team to do that against in the NBA right now besides the Philadelphia 76ers. You wouldn’t have guessed that though from the first 18 minutes of tonight’s game though. The Celtics were a turnover machine, couldn’t grab a defensive rebound and fell behind by as many as nine points against the winless Sixers, opening up the possibility that Boston may drop four(!) of their last five contests against Philly.
Luckily, a few things developed to ensure that ugliness wouldn’t happen. First and foremost, Brandon Bass kept the Celtics in the game with his aggressive offense (season-high 23 points) and strong defense in the early going. Marcus Thornton showed flashes of Eddie House, posting a season-high 13 points in just 20 minutes of action. Read the rest of this entry »
Tonight the Celtics are in Philadelphia to face the lowly 76ers. The Sixers are an Atlantic Division “rival” and are also still winless on the season. That makes tonight an important game for the Celtics’ moral and reputation around the league.
A win would snap the C’s losing streak and provide momentum heading into Friday’s game against the NBA’s best team, the Memphis Grizzlies. A loss tonight against the hapless Sixers could raise some red flags,.
Competitive vacuums aside, tonight’s game should be plenty exciting, at least if you are a Celtics fan. The Sixers are dead last in points per game, and are an incredible -16.9 on the season in point differential.
Horrible Hinkie and the Tanking Sixers?
It has been a rough few years for Sixers fans. Philadelphia does have promising talents in 2013 ROY Michael Carter-Williams,Nerlens Noel, and Joel Embiid. Likewise, they have followed the Celtics’ model and have stock-piled many draft picks for the coming years, including three second round picks in 2019. 2019? Yes, the Sixers are so committed to being bad now in exchange for being better later that they are willing to wait five years to reap the benefits of their misery. Read the rest of this entry »
If you’ve tuned in to WEEI or 98.5 the Sports Hub in the past few…OK, let me start over.
If you’ve EVER listened to WEEI or the Sports Hub, you’ve heard more than a fair share of outlandish trade ideas. Sports fans—and so as not to shirk blame, I count myself in that group—are often guilty of overvaluing their team’s players. They also tend to project a fantasy world onto reality by dreaming up situations in which collective bargaining agreements don’t exist, and other teams have no regard for their own success. I present the following example:
Felger: “Carl in Saugus, you’re on the line.”
Carl: “Hey, how’s it goin,’ fellas? First time, long time. I just wanna say, Mike from Woburn is an idiot. Second, Jack Edwards is the biggest HOMAH in the game. He makes TAWMY sound like Joe Buck in comparison. I don’t want to get stahted on Joe Buck, but, not for nothin,’ I hate that guy.
Lastly, regahding the Cs, Bryan Doo is the greatest strength and conditioning coach in the game. Tawm Thibodeau knows this. He’s worked with the guy. He’s also got a STAH player who can’t stay healthy. If the Bulls can get their hands on Doo, that solves that problem. The Celtics could package him with Phil Pressey, giving Chicago another quality gahd to back up Derrick Rose and get him ready for the playoffs. We give them that, I don’t see how we don’t get Joakim out of the deal.”
In the spirit of such asinine ideas, I’ve dreamed up my own Celtics trade ideas. The catch is, these deals actually work in the ESPN Trade Machine. They might get you laughed out of a GM office or two, but they’re halfway to legitimate, which is light years beyond what you normally hear. Read the rest of this entry »