If you had any doubt that this Celtics team is motivated by revenge, be disabused of that notion. From the moment Kevin Garnett put on the green, everyone around him has fallen in line with his ‘on the court, we hate everyone and off the court we forget nothing’ mentality. Without KG, the Celtics wouldn’t be able to fly the most-hated-team-in-the-league banner for the third or fourth year running.
On the consistent role of revenge as motivator, think of the beatdown the Celtics put on the Atlanta Hawks in their first meeting this season, after falling prey to the Hawks four straight times last year. CSNNE’s Jessica Camerato caught up with Kevin Garnett, who had some additional revenge to attend to in the Raptors game Friday night.
Take last Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors. Andrea Bargnani scored a game-high 29 points, with each basket critical as the Raptors squeaked out a one-point win.
When the two teams met on Friday in Boston, those 29 points were still fresh on Garnett’s mind.
“I take defense very seriously,” Garnett said. “And this wasn’t a one-on-one situation and I don’t want Bargnani to take this the wrong way, but if he does, [expletive] it. You know, being honest. I get up for that. Every night I have a match up, I take that very seriously.
“I don’t overlook a guy. Bargnani’s a very, very, very good player in our league. He’s going to be one of the premier players to come. But, I was motivated in more than one way tonight.”
Doc Rivers addressed Bargnani’s performance with Garnett, giving the already-intense player an extra ounce of motivation. Rivers wanted to see better defense on Bargnani, and Garnett was happy to deliver it.
In the Globe, Julian Benbow touches on the Celtics’ disconcerting habit of playing down to the level of their opposition. He also looks at the biblical plague that has again confined so many Celtics to the injury list, eliciting an admission from Doc Rivers that we may eventually see yet another Celtic headed that direction. Luke Harangody – are you ready?
With the frontcourt being so thin, Semih Erden has had to be a significant contributor, but he’s nursing a shoulder that was injured over the summer and Rivers says it’s only a matter of time before that becomes a more serious issue.
“There’s going to be a point when Semih can’t play,’’ Rivers said. “I don’t know that, but I believe that. I just think that with the shoulders, there’s a point where it’s going to come out and then he’s not going to be able to play.’’
The Celts will return to the gym tomorrow to prepare for a stretch of three games in four nights that begins Tuesday in Cleveland, then concludes with Portland and Chicago at home Wednesday and Friday.
The Celts lost on the road to the Cavaliers in the second game of the season. The Trail Blazers and Bulls are better clubs, which – judging from the way things have gone this year – means the C’s have a better chance of success. (They’ve already beaten Chicago.)
“I think we play to the level of our competition a lot,” said Rondo. “It’s not a good thing, but I don’t think it’s really a bad thing. When we have to bring it, we bring it.”
Rivers agreed, though he throws an asterisk of sorts beside the loss to the Cavs, which came the night after the much-hyped season opener against Miami.
“The Cleveland game I throw out, but now we’ve given them confidence so we have to deal with that,” the coach said. “But even last year, I thought it was about us playing our game. That doesn’t mean we win the games, but I just know when we play right, we give ourselves a chance.”
If there is any blame for a loss, the Celts are more likely to pin it on themselves rather than believing they were simply beaten.
“A lot of times, I feel like we are our own worst enemy,” said Pierce. “In the games that we lost, I felt like we beat ourselves.”
More linkage after the jump.
Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston, a regular linkee in these pages, focuses in on Avery Bradley, who might be headed down to the D-League for some additional seasoning.
The Celtics are trying to balance getting him on the floor and not destroying his confidence knowing his ankle isn’t fully healed. In fact, Bradley plans to both tape and wear an ankle brace to provide extra stability with his ankle at roughly “95 percent” health.
“I think [assistant coach] Lawrence [Frank] or [assistant coach] Kevin Eastman said it: [Bradley's] been through three full practices this season, including training camp,” said Rivers. “And he’s a rookie, and we’re going to throw him on the floor.
“We’ve just got to protect him. We don’t want to ruin him. And he’s not healthy, yet; not great health. So, it’s what we have.”
There’s also the potential that Bradley could be shuttled to the Maine Red Claws, Boston’s NBA Development League affiliate, to get on-court time in a less stressful environment (and one that guarantees extended minutes). He doesn’t seem opposed, admitting he’ll do whatever the team thinks is best for him.
“The main thing for me is to just improve every day,” said Bradley. “And do whatever my coaches and my teammates need me to do.”
Over at CelticsBlog, Greg Payne touches on a few interesting items today, including KG’s double-double renewal and Glen Davis’ perimeter orientation.
Last season, Kevin Garnett played 69 games for the Celtics and recorded only 10 double-doubles (all of which consisted of points and rebounds). Through 16 games this season, Garnett’s already posted 7 double-doubles (all of which have also consisted of points and rebounds). This stat, combined with Garnett’s other various rebounding statistics (9.2 rebounds per game, a defensive rebounding rate of 30.8 percent, etc.) serves as further proof (as if we needed any more) that, physically, Garnett is in a much better place this season compared to last season. They alley-oops, the sprinting up and down the floor, and the individual slam dunks (as opposed to the softer lay-ins) in traffic also worthy sources of evidence of this.
Plus, if you missed it, check out Hayes’ recap of the Raptors game on Friday, which also features a whole lotta good thinking on Big Baby’s season to date. A sampling:
-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.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone.