• Doc did his weekly interview on WEEI Thursday, and this excerpt on Paul Pierce stood out to me more than anything else he said:
We had to change our offense a little bit when he came back, because he was struggling to beat guys. We were using a lot of pick-and-rolls with Paul, using a lot of pin-downs with Paul, and those are things we usually things we don’t have to do. We usually can use basic, and we’re starting to get back to that.
I had two clashing reactions to this. The first: Paul Pierce is getting older, and this is the exact sort of thing the team should be doing to help Pierce on offense! And then this: There are only 24 seconds on the shot clock, and if you’re running off the ball action for Pierce, that means you’re not running it as often for Ray Allen or someone else.
There must be a balance, right? Either way, I’ll be keeping a closer eye on how the C’s integrate Pierce into the offense tonight and toward the end of the season.
• Terry Foster of the Detroit News devoted some of his column Thursday to arguing that the Celtics are finished as contenders. That’s a perfectly rational argument considering the C’s are just 20-19 since Christmas. But the column contains what might be the single most bizarre sentence written about the C’s this season.
Foster gives the following reasons for the C’s alleged demise:
Kevin Garnett labors on the court with a bad knee
Ok. I’m with you so far.
Rasheed Wallace plays a lazy offensive game, where he refuses to create off the block
That’s sort of true, though it’s clearly less true now than it was two months ago.
Paul Pierce fights constant injuries
Most of them have been fluky and not indicative of a decline in his conditioning or strength, but, fine, I’ll let it be.
Ray Allen is losing more playing time by the day
This is true in a literal sense but demonstrably false and baseless in actual reality. If you do nothing but click on Ray Allen’s game log, you’ll see that Ray has played fewer than 30 minutes in five of the C’s last nine games. He must be losing playing time! But if you took even the smallest look at the context beyond the game log, you’d see that four of those five games were blowouts in which Doc chose to rest Ray (a home to loss to Memphis and blowout wins against New York, Indiana and Detroit). The fifth? The game against Charlotte in which Ray logged just 17 minutes due to foul trouble.
In the larger view, Ray is averaging 35.7 minutes per game this season. He averaged 36.4 last season and 35.9 in 2008.
In other words: The claim that Ray Allen is losing playing time is absurd.
Foster’s last reason for the C’s decline is the weirdest of all:
Guard Rajon Rondo often has that get me out of here look.
“I don’t really try to read ‘em,” Rondo told cbssportsline.com about his teammates’ body language. “I just play with ‘em.”
Huh? Is Foster saying Rajon Rondo is unhappy with his teammates? Did he read this one quote from a CBS story and take that as an indication of Rajon’s deep-seated misery?
In semi-related news, Rajon Rondo signed a five-year, $55 million extension in the fall. I think he’s OK with being on the Celtics.
• If you missed it, MrTrpleDouble10, one of the most passionate C’s fans you’ll find on Earth, tracked every screen Boston set against the Cavs Sunday for Red’s Army. His goal: See who sets the most screens, which screens led to baskets and whether the C’s used too many isolations against Cleveland. Interesting findings and great work from a great fan.
• Earlier in the week, I wrote about the work Tom Haberstroh (of Hoopdata and Staples High School) is doing to come up with new ways of understanding assists. Last week Haberstroh calculated which players’ assists most often led to easy inside baskets and three-pointers. In a follow-up piece for Hardwood Paroxysm that I’m still thinking about, Haberstroh looks at how shooting accuracy on various types of shots changes when players take those shots after receiving a pass versus off the dribble. It turns out that shooting off a pass boosts accuracy on all kinds of shots, but the boost is larger for, say, lay-ups than it is for three-pointers.
Haberstroh takes that data and tries to decide whose assists truly matter most. Great food for thought. Click on the story to see how Rajon Rondo ranks in this analysis.
• The guys at the Detroit blog Piston Powered come up with a list of the five most hated Celtics ever from a Pistons point of view. Their choice for the top spot reveals their age, I think. It really surprised me.
• Peter May, writing for ESPNBoston.com, thinks the tough nine-game stretch coming up for the C’s will tell us a lot about the state of the team.