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C’s-Raptors: Again with This Bench

 

Remember last year, when the C’s developed something of a reputation for blowing leads in the fourth quarter? And it even got to the point where some of the league’s most arrogant coaches were bringing it up in their huddles? Well, step aside, fourth quarter. There’s a new quarter in town, and its name is the second quarter.

The Celtics again got a dominant performance from their starters in the first, only to lose the huge lead in the second thanks mostly to sub-mediocre bench play. That’s the fifth game in a row they’ve been outscored in that quarter, and by an average of 6 points. This is a developing issue, and probably something they need to work out before this stretch of crappy teams is over. The starters are playing more minutes than they should be against bad teams because these huge leads aren’t being held.

But this game wasn’t all bad, or even half bad: the first quarter was a total blast. Rajon Rondo is not showing the effects of injury, people. He had eight assists in the frame, including seven in a row from 8:53 to 2:50, pretty much all of them beautiful in some distinct way. Every field goal in the quarter was assisted. He was moving around with no visible problems. Very nice to have that guy back and healthy-seeming.

Meanwhile, Shaq had the game he should have had last week against the frail, submissive Raptors frontcourt. A 5-5 perfect from the floor and a Shaq-perfect 75% from the line with 9 boards. If you’d like to watch his careening alley-oop now, scroll down to the notes and come back afterwards.

The C’s got plenty of help from the Raptor defenders in their high-scoring first quarter endeavors. The only guy who provided much help defense underneath was DeMar DeRozan, which would have been great except he was supposed to be guarding Ray Allen twenty feet away on the wing. The result of this was that Allen dropped three bombs in the first four minutes and no civilians survived. Everything combined to stake the C’s to a 31-20 lead at the quarter’s end.

Then the Raptors bench guys came in and started to regulate. Jerryd Bayless and Leandro Barbosa were way better than Calderon and DeRozan tonight (they might be any night) and Amir Johnson had another decent game. A bunch of dumb early fouls from the C’s bench guys helped them close the lead to 3 halfway through the quarter, and it was only 6 at the half.

In the second half, the first half essentially repeated itself. The Celtics starters opened things with a huge run with crisp ball movement and transition buckets (except Ray got the assists off the extra pass instead of Rondo). Then some bench guys came in, more dumb fouls, a few turnovers, no protection against the three, and the Raptors came within eight before the starters came back to close it out.

Let’s talk about this unfortunate trend for a minute. Over the past four games, the bench has been getting (if you’ll forgive the technical terminology here) dookied on.

Old Man Plus/Minus is here with the bad news:

Glen: -35

Semih: -36

Delonte: -30 (in 2.5 games)

Nate: +44 in 3 games as a starter, -12 in one game as a reserve

Marquis: a spit-take inducing -47

Something not great is obviously happening here. But thanks to Hoopdata, I think I might know who’s behind all this. It’s an old, familiar enemy, one we thought we’d seen the last of. But we were wrong: he’s back and more powerful than ever. Who, you ask?

Stretch Davis.

Stretch Davis, of course, is a tiny evil spirit/bacterium who lives inside Glen Davis’s brain and forces him to take jumpers from 16-23 feet.

Magnified 10000x

We first met Stretch back in 2009, when Glen started taking 2.6 long twos per game. Then Rasheed Wallace arrived and Doc banished Stretch to the Netherverse, causing Glen to attempt only one long two per game.

But this year Stretch has resumed eating away at Glen’s brain stem to the tune of 3.5 attempts from 16-23 per game. Oof. That’s the second most on the team behind KG. Glen has taken his extra minutes and used them almost exclusively to shoot more long twos.

Take tonight, for example: Glen took jumpers from 20, 19, 19, 19, 19, 17, and finally 21. He made two of them. His evening was only salvaged because he was 6-9 from inside 10 feet.

We all know the problems associated with this kind of shot. The long two generally gives you a lower percentage without the potential for an additional point that you get outside the arc. But if you look at Glen’s work in this medium, he’s actually shot pretty well: 41%, just above league average.

Be that as it may, there are a few reasons why this is probably not a positive trend:

-Glen’s long two percentage started the season really high, but has gradually lumbered back to the mean as opposing defenses have started looking for it. He was 15-31 from that area in his first eight games. His last eight? 8-31. His high-usage/low-return games against Atlanta and New Jersey played a big part in keeping those games competitive.

-Glen is way more efficient than ever at the rim right now. 69.7%, compared to a previous high of 59% in 2008-9. However, thanks to Stretch, his attempts per game at the rim have dropped a tiny bit from last year, even with his increased minutes.

-His offensive rebound rate, 5.5, is his lowest ever, down from 13.5 last year. (Yes, those were inflated by misses at the rim, I know that, but he’s definitely not rebounding his misses from 21 feet). His total rebound rate this year: also lowest ever.

-Glen’s not what you’d call a traditional jump-shooting big. He can’t shoot over anybody at his position like KG can. He’s not a great free-throw shooter. His form is kind of crazy. It would be awesome if he were an amazing jump shooter with that form, but instead it just helps explain why he’s not.

Over the last four games, Glen’s seen more usage than anyone else on the bench (last night he had the highest on the team), so his poor shooting is probably some part of the downward trend we’re seeing.

But let’s qualify our argument some. First, Glen’s jumpers are not fully or even mostly responsible for the bench’s failures. The defense has been sloppy and fouls and turnovers have both been problematic.

Second, they’re really only harmful in large doses. If he scales back on them a bit, his efficiency will probably go up along with his boards. Then he can always pull the long two out when he needs it: against Atlanta and OKC, for example, Glen realized Josh Smith and Ibaka were capable of force-feeding him his own shot under the basket, so he spaced the floor a bit. We should be fine with that. And we all still have fond memories of Glen hitting that buzzer-beater against Orlando and injuring that child.

So overall, there might be nothing to see here. Let’s assume that with his recent struggles Glen got 3.5 jumpers/game out of his (central nervous) system.

Notes:

  • How awesome was that Rondo-Shaq hookup in the first?

Look at Shaq chug! If he doesn’t jump up and grab the rim there, how does he stop his momentum? And what if he’d missed the rim and kept going through the air? How many cameramen would we be mourning today? Shaq should probably stick to vertical jumping just for safety purposes.

  • The Canadian announcers on League Pass pronounced Semih Erden’s name “EAR-din.” This had no effect on his scoring (4-4 against a disinterested Bargnani) but some effect on his rebounding (0 rebounds).
  • The Raptors had five different countries represented on the floor at once early in the 4th. Spain, Lithuania, Brazil, Serbia, Italy. That hasn’t happened since the league started recording country of origin in the box score (never). In any case, it was almost definitely their most effective of the evening.
  • More Canadian goofiness:

What the hell is that crazy word? Is that what DeGama and DeRozan put in DeYard to keep in DeDog?

  • What More Can I Say?

    So Glen Davis is Not KG. Is that what we have decided tonight??

    I don't know. It's one thing to state that Big Baby is shooting too many jumpers. It's another thing to compare him to a first ballot HOF'er and how he is not him. Big Baby works on his game. Have we forgot the 15 footer that he nailed against Orlando to win the game in the offs? How about the fact that he shoots over 48% for the season, which is higher than his career average? The man scored 10 of his 18 points in the 4th quarter, is a legit 6th man of the year candidate, plays on a team that has now won 3 games in a row and welcomed back their best player, and get gets the brunt of the blame because the C's lead was a mere 6 points at half instead of 25.

    WOW!!!! The media alone makes sure these guys earn their pay. Nothing on Rondo's first game back. NOTHING on KG's 7th Dub Dub, and Shaq just had the game he was supposed to have at damn near 39 years old. Last week I made the comment to (I believe TedL) that C's fans are spoiled, but maybe I should of directed it to the media that covers them.

    You heard of more money, more problems? How about more wins, more criticism??

    • hdavenport

      Very generous of you to refer to Celtics Hub as being part of "the media," WMCIS. But to your point:

      I think part of what we try to do here is offer some kind of analysis you're not likely to read anywhere else. Something more substantive than "Rondo came back and was great" or another discussion of what a pleasant surprise Shaq has been. My last post was about Shaq being awesome. The one before that was about how the two consecutive losses weren't as bad as everyone was making them out to be. Finding something unique to discuss often requires you to look beyond the final score.

      Of course the Celtics are a great team and we love them. But I don't think that precludes us from pointing out potential weak spots, especially since they've just won two pretty close games against very bad teams. This blog isn't going to deal exclusively with how great the team is every time they win, or how much they suck every time they lose.

      • What More Can I Say?

        I get that. I am just thinking along the lines of BALANCE. It's not that I want you or any writer to refrain from negativity. Shoot…I was hoping to see something on the 8 turnovers Rondo had in his first game back. But I was also hoping to see something on the fact that KG is a whole different type of productive with the easy baskets Rondo gets him and Shaq.

        And I do consider this blog to be part of the media. Anytime a guy can get a gig at SI off of his postings here, you are an outlet of the media in my book. I'm in St. Louis, MO. I get on this blog by first going to ESPN.com. You are officially media brother!

        Lastly, it's just my opinion. In my mind it's an excellent one, but it's just my mind. Don't look at my posts as me trying to beat you down or rip you a new one. But as a Basketball fan first and a C's fan second, I'm not the fan who is gonna whine about the little things on the way to 60 plus wins. Unless an L was earned or a pattern is developed causing concern, I'm about celebrating excellent basketball. Everyone was so pissed that Bron & Bosh went to Miami to play with DWADE. Personally, I love it. Not only is it good for the NBA, It makes the Big 3 look great and it puts good basketball in perspective. The little people make unbelievable impact in championship runs and chemistry is underrated. I firmly believe this team wants Baby to fill it up. And those wide open jumpers will not be passed up. Now…does he need to hit them? Of course. Will he continue to miss them? I doubt it. The guy is gonna get it right because of who he plays for and who he plays with. One game does not tell the whole tale.

  • TedL

    I was only able to watch the second half, and my impression was that the second unit fell down mostly on defense. Was too busy cursing the TV to be sure what was going wrong.

  • http://www.google.com Cherilyn Domenice

    Hi i just stumbled your blog from Google but got a strange popup about dog hospitals which is obviously not related to your site. Is this your ads or do i have a spyware issue? Thanks.

    • http://twitter.com/M_DeVelaine @M_DeVelaine

      I've never seen a popup on this site, so it could be some sort of adware sitting on your machine, or something from another site in the background.

  • slam

    They actually had 5 foreign players out there at one time – none of them were American. I'd guess, Kleiza, Bargnani, Calderon, Barbosa, Stojakovich

    • NHBluesMan

      he said they had 5, but it was in the 4th quarter, so that probably allowed for some confusion

    • What More Can I Say?

      And that is why they suck. Too many foreigners and not enough home grown talent equals lots of points and horrendous DEDFENSE. American basketball is physical, and the physicality of this game is set on the defensive end.

      • carpenter

        you clearly didnt watch last fiba tournament pal

        • What More Can I Say?

          I clearly didn't. Can you blame me? I based my limited opinions on the International players I see in the league, not outside of it. I admit it, when I want steak, I don't settle for ground chuck.

          • carpenter

            ok man, take it easy

  • Green Man

    Chill dude (@what more can i say)…. the purpose of this site and ANY team fan website for that matter is to be able to have the freedom to voice out the most teeny-weeny pet peeves any die-hard Cs fan would have. And by that, I must say that I'm with Mr. Davenport on this one. Not only do I cringe everytime baby davis shoots those long jumpers, i'm actually starting to think that he believes he's one of the go-to-guys on offense now. please… stick to your role, glen (workin' the inside). so that whenever you make a big shot like ya did in the Orlando series, it'll be a huge deal for us! Great win, though. Go Celts!

    • What More Can I Say?

      Green Man…the purpose of this site is also to say our peace on the game and on the analysis. I said mine. Please say yours. If my posts seem like I am mad or upset, please note that you took it wrong. Passion can be misread, so I am not mad at you or Hayes or anyone that writes with a purpose and is a C's fan. If you don't like my posts, feels free to click the thumbs down.

      That being said, I agree with your post about Baby believing he is one of the go-to-guys on offense. Except I also believe Doc and the rest of the C's players believe it too! The man come off the bench, just like Jason Terry, just like OJ Mayo, and just like Jamal Crawford. All four of them have roles….do you believe their "role" is not to shoot? Baby can fill it up. He missed 4 or 5 jumpers yesterday, and you want believe he needs to stick to his role? What would you say if he was perfect from beyond 18 feet? Would you still sing the same song?

      I'm with CG12. The jumper is 1/3rd of the triple threat and if the D backs off of him…KNOCK IT DOWN! I bet Baby is in the gym right now with KG putting jumpers up. I'll be looking for both you and Chris O "voices" when his jumper finds paydirt as the season goes on.

      • Green Man

        The point is BBD is not perfect from beyond 18 feet. Far from it, actually. I especially don't think he's as adept as Terry or Mayo in jumpers (he's not even on the same league with them on that aspect). I'm not saying BBD should NEVER shoot an open J, but just learn not to make it his primary option. Drive the ball to the hoop BBD!!

        I do hope he finds his groove though… would love to be proven wrong. Oh, and by the way, I think I already said my peace when I posted the first time. Yup, guess I misread your posts of passion. For that I apologize. And just so you know, I'm not the one who clicked the thumbs down on you. Cheerio!

  • CG12

    You don't want Baby falling in love with that jumper, but it is so important to him. If he can establish that he will take and make that shot, it opens up so much for him inside. It feels like he can't win. He shoots Js and people want him in the paint. He goes in the paint and gets his business sent and people want him moving outside. He is doing it right, he just needs to find the balance. One of his biggest improvements is that he realizes when he gets an offensive board and is standing flat-footed under the rim, he needs to bring the ball back out. That is where he got his shot blocked so often. Baby's best asset is his agility, and he can only use that if he is on the move.

    • hdavenport

      This is a more measured version of what I was trying to say. I don't think BBD should give up his long jumper altogether. I also don't think he should be taking 9 in a game. Like you said, he needs to find the right balance. I think returning to his 08-09 rate would be totally reasonable.

      He's one of my favorite players, so I tend to focus on him a bit more.

      • What More Can I Say?

        Here's my thing….BBD (Bell Biv Devoe….LOL!!!) is looking to improve every year. The man is looking to get better. You say he is one of your favorite players…do you believe that he is competing for minutes in the 4th quarter? Because I do. If I was BBD and I played with these aged, awesome players that have HOF careers already…I not only do what they do when the game is over, I do it more. If Baby shoot 9 jumpers in a game, how may do you think he shoots in practice and his off days?

        No doubt he missed too many jumpers and that played a role in Toronto NOT getting blown out. But my guess is you will just see more them going down before he scales back. The C's are thin on the frontline and right now he will get plenty of minutes regardless, which translates to plenty of shots. Personally, I will take a wide open 18 footer than a O rebound that gets swatted back in his face instead of kicking it out for a new C's half court posession.

      • Morpheus

        I totally agree….i hate Baby's jumper…it's ugly,inconsistent. I guess if he made more of them i would be singing a different tune but he ain't ,so he needs to stop taking so many of them. I was on the verge of throwing my shoe at the tv watching him pull up for those mid range jumpers…he's just not a good shooter,not yet anyway.

  • Chris O

    I actually completly agree with the Big Baby analysis. His ability to shoot us out of blowouts (if that makes any sense) is amazing. On the 2nd unit he gets in this groove where he just bombs long 2's and stops moving the ball. He also tends to miss a lot of these. Yes the 'D', rebounds and turnovers were all a problem for the bench but Baby jacking up shots like he IS KG is the problem. Our C's tend to get jump shot happy like the last few years…we don't really want that. We want drives, threes and assists on kick outs but not jump shot after jump shot that look horrible.

    • What More Can I Say?

      I disagree. Baby is now in his 2nd year of his new contract. He obviously came back slimmer and worked very hard in the offseason. And when you work hard in the offseason, you work on ALL parts of your game. When he comes in and there is no lead or they are down…I expect him going to his strengths; posting up, showing off his spin moves, and attacking the offensive glass. When they have a lead, especially a sizable lead, I look for to be on the wing and add to the C's great spacing so Rondo or even Nate can do their thing with the continued ball movement. His role in this offense is to shoot regardless. He's got to shoot. I love the fact that he continues to shoot his jumper…cuz come playoff time that mug will fall. And when it doesn't, he has the ability to go get buckets IN THE PAINT like a real power forward does.

      The way I look at it…The man is not content in being a bench player forever. He plays a role, but his game will expand to a point where he considered a top flight power forward 1 day. And guess what? Every solid PF knocks down jumpers between 10-20 feet. Sh*t Dirk Nowitski knocks down 3's. He plays behind a top flight PF now. Sure he isn't KG, but he is a beast in his own right and he can do some things better than KG. He's earned the right to shoot that jumper and my guess is we have not seen the last of it. Fans can grumble when he misses, but lets pay homage when he knocks them down too.

  • NHBluesMan

    another great write up. I'm loving the humor, and the Big Baby against Orlando shot reminder caused me to seek out this…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ok1oPgyaVdY&fe

    absolutely awesome

  • Rahul

    That crazy word, by the way, is the British spelling for the defense! ~.~

    • Morpheus

      It's just wrong

    • AussieCeltic

      We spell it defence in Australia, too.

  • roundo

    Think this post is spot on. I cringe when I see BBD pull up for a long 2….

  • yordgreat

    "Sure he isn't KG, but he is a beast in his own right and he can do some things better than KG", i'm sorry but i take offense on that statement of yours. can you specifically mention what "things" he does that is better than KG? BBD actually only became relevant after the arrival of the big 3, he gets those open shots on the perimeter because of the attention his teammates get. i also agree that he should somewhat tone down his newly found fondness with the long jumpers, he should stick with the play and move the ball to find the best possible shot. i disagree that he is being brought out of the bench to shoot those jumpers, his role is to play solid d and hustle plays and use his superior agility around the basket. shooting the long two should be the last of his worries unless the shot clock expires or otherwise.

    • What More Can I Say?

      As far as him shooting less jumpers…You can agree with anyone you want about what he SHOULD do, but I'm telling you it ain't gonna happen. And you don't have to agree with me or like what you read because as we move through the season, you will see that jumper fly out of his hands. The man is good at a lot of things and you will see him help the C's in a lot of different ways. The C's space the floor. That is what they do. Jumpers will happen. Offensive rebounds will get snatched. Charges will be taken. Defense will be played. Go ahead and complain about the jumpers. A good player is a good player. The man shot 50% from 18 feet his first 8 games. Now…he is in a bit of a shooting slump, but you don't stop shooting. You shoot MORE…in practice, after practice, before practice.

      As far as disagreeing about being brought off the bench to shoot jumpers….I don't know who you are disagreeing with because I never said that. Go cut and paste that quote and then maybe we can discuss.

  • Idaho

    Funny how nobody had anything bad to say when the C's bench was killing the first 10 games of the season with SEMIH ERDEN whom most expected would not play! BBD should shoot that shot EVERY time it is open, EVERY….. SINGLE……… TIME.

    • What More Can I Say?

      AMEN Idaho. Baby can HOOP.

      When the Jumper starts to fall, the critics WILL become mimes.

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