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How Boston Celtics Rajon Rondo, Brad Stevens Picked Apart The Brooklyn Nets

Throughout the preseason, we marveled at how many 3-pointers the Celtics were willing to toss in the air. The long-range barrage was a good thing — as evidenced by San Antonio last season, 3-pointers win championships (and as evidenced by the Lakers this season, the inverse is also true: Not shooting 3-pointers will make you a terrible basketball team).

But on Wednesday, when the Celtics unexpectedly ripped apart the Brooklyn Nets, the win wasn’t a result of unsustainably hot shooting from long range, but rather of excellent ball movement that got the Celtics shot after shot after shot around the rim.

In the first half, much of the damage was done in half-court pick-and-roll sets, and to no one’s surprise, Rajon Rondo was the catalyst.

Per the new SportVU stats available from NBA.com, the Celtics scored 45.2 percent of their baskets without a dribble. In other words, almost half of Boston’s baskets were assisted — a number which is reflected in Boston’s high assist numbers (#1 in the NBA in assists per game after one game!). Meanwhile, 53.6 percent of Boston’s field goals were within 10 feet of the basket, where they finished 62.2 percent from the field. Read the rest of this entry »

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How will we know if these Celtics are successful?

rondoooo

It was easy to know if the Pierce-Garnett-Allen Celtics were successful in any given year because they were successful every year.

The ledger lists one title, two finals, a run to the ECF in 2012, and a couple of years sabotaged by injuries in which the team was still ferociously competitive and did the legacies of Russell and Bird proud. That is the record and it is indisputable. That 2008-09 team was probably the best of the entire bunch, with only KG’s injury keeping the Celtics from a second straight banner. I will always believe this with a biblical dogmatic certainty.

It’ll be harder to assess the 2014-15 Celtics because the milestones are less clear. If Marcus Smart looks like an all-world defender but one that can’t finish at the rim or hit a jumper, is that a net negative given he cost the sixth overall pick? If James Young shows surprising promise but Kelly Olynyk starts to define his ceiling as a bench big, are the C’s just breaking even in the search for core players? Or are core players even the point? Should Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge only be concerned with enhancing the value of as many of their human assets as possible, with team continuity, and offensive and defensive system implementation deferred for a future, more stable roster?

Here are four potential ways we can assess the Celtics this season. I’m at least as confident in them as the Lakers were when they gave Kobe that 2-year, $300 milllion dollar contract to mentor Carlos Boozer. That kid looks like a real comer.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Kevin Garnett Had High Praise for Rajon Rondo and Marcus Smart After the Opener

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Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett are former teammates and good buddies. Thus, it came as no surprise Wednesday night when Garnett heaped plenty of praise on the Celtics’ point guard following his 13 points, 12 assists and seven turnovers in game one.

“Rondo was classic. I don’t know what he said, he was 89, 83 percent? That’s a hell of an 83 percent. He played well and he led his team to a win,” KG said.

The good news for Celtics fans is that Garnett’s praise didn’t stop with Rondo. Instead, it was just beginning as the 20-year NBA veteran gave kudos to Marcus Smart (even though, he hates rookies right?), Brad Stevens, and most importantly Gino. Here’s a roundup of those gems, in case you missed them.

On Smart: “The kid is very impressive. THis is my first time seeing him live, playing against him and stuff. He and Rondo and Avery, that’s going to be a tandem. I can’t wait to watch some of the games. They played great tonight. They seemed to have a nice chemistry together. I hope they can be consistent with that.”

On Stevens: Boston’s schemes were very clever. They do unorthodox things, like sticking a big in the corner, having the bigs roll, lot of pressure on the smalls. My hat goes off to coach, Coach Stevens, and his schemes. They played well.

On Boston: Read the rest of this entry »

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Game 1 Grades: Boston Celtics 121, Brooklyn Nets 105

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Brooklyn Nets 105 Final
Recap | Box Score
121 Boston Celtics
Jeff Green, SF 36 MIN | 4-10 FG | 7-9 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | +15

The most prevalent complaints about Jeff Green last season? His lack of rebounding and his low free-throw attempts. Green finished with six boards and nine free throw attempts tonight. His 17 points and 2-for-3 3-point shooting was the icing on top of the icing.

Jared Sullinger, C 28 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +11

It wasn’t one of his preseason 20/20s, but Sullinger only had to play 28 minutes on Wednesday, and he scored in a variety of different ways.

Kelly Olynyk, C 29 MIN | 8-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +5

Is there anything more conflicting than seeing Kelly Olynyk dueling with Kevin Garnett when things get a little chippy? All of the sads.

Rajon Rondo, PG 30 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-4 FT | 7 REB | 12 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | +13

Rondo’s role with this offense fits perfectly with what makes him an incredibly fun player. Stevens wants the Celtics to push the ball incessantly, and when Rondo pushes, he either gets to the rim and tries to score, or he finds space and hits a teammate with a pass. Every time Rondo was in tonight, he was making good things happen, and it was a pretty beautiful thing.

Avery Bradley, PG 30 MIN | 7-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -4

Bradley shot efficiently (from 2-point range) and literally didn’t do anything else statistically. But his one-on-one defense was good.

Brandon Bass, PF 16 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +3

Mid-range jumpers are still what the Celtics will get all season from Brandon Bass, with the occasional 3-point attempt (apparently). It’s just that his looks are even better with Rondo’s return.

Tyler Zeller, C 6 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +4

Tyler Zeller could have a pretty good season statistically if he keeps playing/running PnRs with Rondo.

Marcus Smart, PG 28 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +20

I’m so excited I’m so excited I’m so excited I’m so excited Smart ripped Williams and his hands are so quick and he is so physically imposing and he stopped Joe Johnson in the post and I’m SO EXCITED.

Marcus Thornton, SG 14 MIN | 4-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -1

I really did not expect Marcus Thornton to be a net positive contributor, but he legitimately helped Boston win this game and showed just how useful he can be in this offense.

Evan Turner, SG 24 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | +14

I also really did not expect Evan Turner to be a net positive contributor, but hey, here we are. Excellent game for Turner.

Brad Stevens

Is there a way to ensure that Brad Stevens can’t ever leave? Like, ever? Important note: I’m not opposed to kidnap.

One Thing We Saw

  1. Let’s not overreact: The Nets were sluggish and lackadaisical, and by the time Boston had taken a 20-point first-half lead, there was no way Brooklyn was going to work its way back into the game. But Boston imposed its will on the game from the start, forcing the Nets to run and run and run a little more, and every time Rajon Rondo pushed the ball in transition, good things happened. He’s so creative and alert, and he showed that he was willing to take a layup if that’s what the offense was giving him.

    Again, trying very hard not to overreact, but with a healthy Rondo in a system that makes a lot of sense for him, Boston looked considerably better tonight than they did at any point last season. And that’s pretty exciting.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

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RECAP: Boston Celtics Blow Out Brooklyn Nets 121-105, My Brain Hurts

Brad Stevens

So we spent the entire preseason trying to make sure people’s hopes weren’t too high, despite a successful preseason campaign and some seriously encouraging signs — including, but not limited to, Jared Sullinger’s range, Brad Stevens’ speedy offense, Marcus Smart’s absurdly strong defense and the bench’s weirdly effective performances.

The preseason did not prepare for tonight’s game, and I’m betting that you feel the same way.

The Celtics raced up and down the floor for 48 minutes on Wednesday, moving the ball effectively and firing in 55.7 percent of their field goals including 36.4 percent from 3-point range.

Smart looked good in his debut, Rondo was incredible, and Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger were efficient. Meanwhile, Boston scored 62 (!!!!!) points in the paint. The Celtics were not just watchable, they were extremely fun. Read the rest of this entry »

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Get A Free Entry to DraftKings’ 50K Tourney

CelticsHub partner: We’ve teamed up with daily fantasy leader DraftKings.com for a special offer to open the NBA season.  Click on this link, make a first time deposit, and you’ll get free entry into their $50,000 1-day fantasy contest tonight.  This is the last day to join!

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CelticsHub Podcast: 2014-15 Season Preview

Opening Day is upon the 2014-15 version of the Boston Celtics and, because we’ve figured out how to use the technology (mostly, anyway) we’re back with another of what will be a season-long series of podcasts, each one inevitably more triumphant than the last, so by the end of April we’ll be skirting the edge of competence. Dig it.

Here, Brendan and I preview the season and provide our predictions for where the Celtics will finish, as well as providing a cursory examination of Brandon Bass’ shiny new 3-point game, some commentary on the curious preseason effectiveness of Marcus Thornton, our unreasonable hopes for Marcus Smart and James Young – all along with what will soon be the usual torrent of Celtics-related nonsense and blather.

CelticsHub partner: We’ve teamed up with daily fantasy leader DraftKings.com for a special offer to open the NBA season.  Click on this link, make a first time deposit, and you’ll get free entry into their $50,000 1-day fantasy contest tonight.  This is the last day to join!

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Rajon Rondo Is “83 Percent,” Remains The Absolute Best

If these quotes are representative of what we’ll be getting from Rajon Rondo season, we are in for a fun year.

From ESPN Boston:

“When I wake up from my nap, I’ll let [reporters] know. Around 4:30,” Rondo said. “If I sleep really, really well tonight, and [Wednesday] afternoon with my nap, I’ll let you know how I’m feeling.”

[...]

“I just asked him what he wants me to say and he said, ‘Tell [the media] I’m 83 percent,’” Stevens said. “I said I’ll just tell them you’re five-sixths of the way there.”

But even Stevens shrugged his shoulders when asked what the jump from 79 to 83 percent could suggest.

“Four percent better, whatever that means,” Stevens said.

Deadpanned Canadian Kelly Olynyk: “I don’t know how [Rondo's] metric system works over here.”

Snarky Rondo is the best.

CelticsHub partner: Want to take advantage of your hoops knowledge?  We’ve teamed up with daily fantasy leader DraftKings.com for a special offer to open the NBA season. Click on this link, make a first time deposit, and you’ll get free entry into their $30,000 1-day fantasy contest on 10/28.  Check it out now!

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Evening Notebook: “79 Percent” Chance Rondo Returns Wednesday, Will Bynum Waived, More

Even before today’s press conference, I was pretty convinced Rajon Rondo planned to return for Opening Night against Brooklyn.

Rondo is a strange guy who constantly defies expectations, but he’s also a tough-as-nails competitor who needs to perform as well as possible quickly to cement next year’s contract. What’s more, he’s been hinting at it just enthusiastically enough all preseason that I would have been willing to put money down on the possibility.

Monday morning, Rondo reinforced my optimism. He was as cryptic as always, but also he gave us a number to work with.

From Chris Forsberg at ESPN Boston: Read the rest of this entry »

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Looking Ahead: Projecting The Boston Celtics’ Month Of November

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.

Projection: 15-point loss.

Nov. 3: Dallas Mavericks (Away) Read the rest of this entry »

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