Amir Johnson, PF13 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | +2 +/-Stevens put Amir Johnson on Luc Mbah a Moute to start the game, which was smart. That allowed him to roam a little bit more than if he’d checked Jordan, whose role on offense is to set screen after screen and roll to the hoop. Johnson didn’t receive many minutes after his opening shift, but he did fine given his allotment.
Jae Crowder, SF38 MIN | 5-11 FG | 3-8 3FG | 6-7 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 19 PTS | -7 +/-Crowder had a little trouble figuring out the Pierce-Paul pick-and-pop, though he eventually calibrated nicely to neuter the action. His usual decisive self, Crowder hit a handful of timely threes to keep the offense humming and halt Clippers runs. As for the box-out foul on DeAndre Jordan, this tweet from Nate Duncan effectively sums up our opinion on the matter.
Jared Sullinger, C30 MIN | 10-15 FG | 1-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 21 PTS | +13 +/-Sullinger was remarkably efficient from the floor, and he hit a majority of his outside jumpers, a major factor in luring DeAndre Jordan a step or two farther away from the basket. After an iffy first half keeping Jordan off the boards, Sullinger dug deep and played much stronger after the intermission. A gutsy performance. By the way, for anyone who still doubts Jordan: STOP! THE DUDE IS INSANELY GOOD!
Avery Bradley, PG44 MIN | 7-14 FG | 3-6 3FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | +7 +/-On the first two defensive possessions of overtime, Bradley fouled J.J. Redick on jump shots, giving Los Angeles a quick six-point buffer. But the body of work was nothing to thumb your nose at. He played particularly smothering defense on LA’s Jamal Crawford in the second quarter, even forcing an airball. Bradley hit his open 3-pointers and went 2-for-2 on little catch-and-shoot jump hooks in the lane, both of which put an early end to Clipper mini-runs.
Isaiah Thomas, PG40 MIN | 12-21 FG | 1-5 3FG | 11-12 FT | 4 REB | 11 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 36 PTS | +7 +/-What an unbelievably nadsy performance. Let’s begin, though, with the not-so-good. In the first quarter (and at other points during the game) the Clippers kept running a high double screen for Chris Paul, and Thomas would run smack into the pick-setter, letting Paul get wherever he wanted on the floor. OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way––wow! I mean, W!O!W! After a relatively humdrum first half, Thomas relentlessly attacked the basket after breaking from the locker room. On one play midway through the period, he jetted around a Sullinger pick, took it right to the body of Jordan, and lofted a running hook shot over his outstretched arms. How the 5-foot-9 Thomas can score over the 6-foot-11 Jordan is, and always will be, beyond me. He hit two shots over Jordan’s outstretched arms to send the game to overtime. It was absolutely inspiring.
Jonas Jerebko, PF21 MIN | 1-5 FG | 1-4 3FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +6 +/-Jerebko was Stevens’ chosen warrior for the Hack-a-Jordan kamikaze mission, and it led to one of the more irksome Chris Paul moments in recent months. Other than that, the Swede’s only notable contribution was having Paul make his legs look like jelly on isolations.
Tyler Zeller, C6 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -9 +/-With Kelly Olynyk back in the locker room with an ice pack on his shoulder, Stevens had Zeller start the fourth quarter for his first game action of the evening. On his first play, he drained an 18-footer from the right baseline. Coming in cold and draining your first shot is mighty impressive. He also took a key charge on what looked like a certain two points for LA. Those were nice spot minutes for Sullinger.
Kelly Olynyk, C11 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-3 3FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +13 +/-His mere presence on the court had uplifting effects for the Celtics offense, coaxing any rim protection the Clippers have––without Blake Griffin, they play small ball almost exclusively––away from the paint. Olynyk exited the game late in the second quarter with an apparent shoulder injury after he’d up-faked Jordan into the air and drawn the foul. He didn’t return.
Marcus Smart, PG32 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-5 3FG | 6-7 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 17 PTS | -7 +/-Smart continues to show flashes of competence navigating screens on offense, and he made 3-of-4 from deep in the first half. They weren’t particularly easy shots either––one was off a high ball screen, another from a pass up the floor in transition. Three times in the first half he let Redick spring open for uncontested set shots, which was uncharacteristic. Redick had a field day against pretty much everyone, but excelled most when Smart was guarding him.
Evan Turner, SG31 MIN | 6-14 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | 0 +/-Turner was the X-factor tonight. No, he wasn’t the most important player. But he bailed the Celtics out of otherwise stagnant possessions with fallaway jumpers, improvised post-ups, and the like. He also took over down the stretch in overtime, attacking the basket off ball screens and finishing with poise. A late and-one effectively put the king’s seal on victory.
Stevens went quickly to the Crowder-Olynyk lineup to combat the Clippers’ small ball tendencies, and the move prevented Jordan, who was forced to step up on Olynyk, from clogging up the paint. On the first two plays with that duo: Olynyk nailed a 3-pointer, then Thomas came off a screen and Jordan, checking Olynyk on the strong side perimeter, couldn’t show help to choke off the action. Stevens went with Sullinger instead of Johnson to guard Jordan. The thinking was Sullinger could use his chunk to keep Jordan off the offensive glass. In the first half, that reasoning was put to the test, but after the break, Sullinger used his wide trunk much more effectively. Boston’s defensive pick-and-roll rotations were a little more crisp in the second half––the weak side defender was consistently late bumping Jordan off roll in the first half, conceding deep catches and dunks. Overall, though, Stevens pulled all the right strings and even used a few cuss words after the Crowder box-out foul.
One Thing We Saw
How fun was this game? Seriously. In terms of purely dramatic value, it rivaled the bloodbath with then-undefeated Golden State earlier in the season. The Garden was absolutely rockin’, Paul Pierce played what may very well have been his last game on the parquet, and Isaiah Thomas morphed into a shorter version of his namesake. Down the stretch, I decided to just close my laptop and drink in the action. That hasn’t ever happened before.
Since being named to the NBA’s 1999 All-Rookie First Team, Paul Pierce has been an institution for the Boston Celtics. He is the team’s second all-time leading scorer behind John Havlicek, and he solidified his 15-year Celtics legacy by winning the 2008 Finals MVP award, helping to raise the 17th banner to the Garden rafters.
Before the 2013-14 season, an aging Pierce was traded along with Kevin Garnett to the Nets, and three years later, the Celtics stand to inherit perhaps three straight lottery picks as a result. Ahead of what may end up being his final game in Boston as a player, Pierce joked with staffers and media that he’s still an integral part of the rebuild here in the Hub.
Here’s more of what Pierce had to say before his Clippers fell to the Celtics in overtime last night.
This is Part 3 of my trade deadline preview for the Celtics. Check out Part 1 for a general overview and team goals and Part 2 for analysis of the current roster.
Trade deadlines across all sports have become huge events. Coverage and speculation extends back weeks before the fateful day and when it comes, networks block off hours of programming just waiting for the latest rumor. In Europe, transfer deadline day for soccer leagues gets CNN-style disaster coverage with a 24 hour live news desks talking to correspondents standing in stadium parking lots, for reasons I don’t understand.
The problem is that no one who’s willing to talk has any idea what’s really going on and the vast majority of what you read online is driven by ulterior motives, including simple lies peddled for clicks. In that spirit, I’m going to use the outline of goals and player values I set out in Parts 1 and 2 to propose trade targets and rough outlines for deals. Remember, I know nothing. This is all in good fun. In most cases the trades will be shaded towards the Celtics because this is Celtics Hub and the team should not be desperate to make a trade.
Challenges to Trading
The main challenge may ultimately be that lack of desperation. The Celtics have a young roster strong enough to sit seventh in ESPN’s Basketball Power Index. While their collection of tradable pieces is strong, the team’s organic growth track is good enough that you could argue that standing pat (at least in terms of major moves) is the best path forward. Meanwhile, teams like the Clippers, Heat, and Bulls feel a variety of pressures related to team age and contract statuses. Toronto may see an opportunity in a vulnerable Eastern Conference; Orlando look vaguely like Boston but without the on-court success. The mid-pack Western teams like Memphis, Dallas, and Houston would all be right to fear the no-man’s land of early playoff exits by older (and more expensive) rosters.
If the Celtics are not as motivated to trade as other teams are, there are fewer types of trades that they’ll enter a winning bid for. Desperate and poorly run teams will overpay to chase questionable “upside.” Cheap teams will throw away quality assets in a way that the Celtics hopefully will not.
Further complicating matters is the current state of the league. The narrative that started a few months ago of, “too many good teams means too many buyers” should now change to, “too many teams think they are good and so want to be buyers.” Based on the basketball-reference.com projections, only nine teams in each conference have a better than 15% chance of making the playoffs. That indicates a decent number of “sellers” but some of those teams with slim odds don’t act like they understand their situation. The added hope that cap-bonanza free agency gives certain clubs makes the pool of likely sellers even shallower.
Amir Johnson, PF27 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | +17 +/- Managed to pick up 3 fouls in the first quarter (two of which were nonsense), struggled to get in a rhythm after. Was OK, not great against Monroe.
Jae Crowder, SF32 MIN | 7-12 FG | 3-6 3FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | +15 +/- Hit shots from all parts of the floor, including the game-tying three late, and cut through the lane with ease against a Bucks D that was disheveled early. You can’t blame him for the Monroe hook towards the end – he’s an awesome smallball 4, but not when that puts him against an excellent post player three feet from the basket. He desparately needs some rest for that ankle.
Jared Sullinger, C20 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | +3 +/- You would think, given the Bucks’ propensity for giving up rebounds and playing small, that Sullinger would have managed a better game. Instead, he was just kind of decent – against Monroe, guarding against penetration, rebounding the ball, everything. So…meh.
Avery Bradley, PG38 MIN | 7-12 FG | 4-9 3FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | +22 +/- I suppose karma had to balance the brilliance against Cleveland with that foul. Don’t reach with one second left, it’s not difficult! Still, Bradley continues to be a rock from deep, and for a team riddled with chaos, he proved to be one of the few steady, grounding elements to the team’s performance.
Isaiah Thomas, PG31 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-2 3FG | 7-7 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 15 PTS | -8 +/- Michael Carter-Williams and Khris Middleton took the assignment of Thomas tonight, and they both provided the quick length that gives IT so many issues. He managed to get into the lane on occasion, but also turned it over frequently while trying to do so. Fans may need to be concerned the book on guarding the All-Star that Cleveland discovered in the playoffs last year is out for the rest of the league to see.
Jonas Jerebko, PF15 MIN | 6-8 FG | 1-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | -1 +/- Probably the only Celtic who looked like he was playing with any sort of control for the entire time he was out there, Jonas continued to look comfortable shooting the ball from anywhere. He even had a couple of those fun running hooks in the lane we hadn’t really seen since last year. Here’s hoping he can carry this recent hot streak throught tomorrow and the break.
Tyler Zeller, C10 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -22 +/- Well, he couldn’t keep up his torrid stretch forever. The energy and persistence was good for Zeller, but Monroe was not a good matchup for him defensively, and pairing him with Olynyk proved to be a disaster tonight with all of Milwaukee’s quickness on the floor.
Kelly Olynyk, C16 MIN | 5-9 FG | 1-4 3FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | +5 +/- Olynyk’s first half looked like he was making a concerted effort to not do anything productive. No, literally, he didn’t even attempt a first half shot. Then Stevens yelled at him for 10 minutes traight and insulted his mother a few times (I’m assuming this is Stevens’ motivational technique in the locker room), and KO came back with a great second half. Even so, Monroe posting him up over and over again was slightly depressing, although he could have used some help from others.
Marcus Smart, PG21 MIN | 3-8 FG | 1-5 3FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -23 +/- Usually Marcus is the one who sparks this team, but tonight he looked like he was trying too hard to make things happen. Forced shots, needless giveaways and bad passes, overplaying on pick-and-rolls to go for steals, you name it. Learning when to do that sort of thing continues to be an important part of Smart’s development he hasn’t gotten to yet. Speaking of trying too hard…
Evan Turner, SG30 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 10 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 6 PTS | -13 +/- Don’t let the 10 assists fool you – this was one of the worst Turner efforts we have seen in a while. The assists were a product of forcing the ball into narrow passing lanes more than even Smart did, and they resulted in turnovers almost as frequently. You can’t do that against Milwaukee. On defense, he didn’t seem to understand how to work a double team, either leaving Monroe’s man stranded or forgetting to return to his assignment on the perimeter. Hopefully a one-game blip, because his growth this year has been encouraging.
The usual Stevens kudos for having his team fight back from an abysmal output and drawing up a couple of typical ATO specials, including a set that got Olynyk an alley-oop attempt over Jerryd Bayless. You would hope for better preparation from the team on double-teaming.
This is part 2 of my trade deadline preview for the Celtics. Check out Part 1 for a general overview and team goals. This post will focus on the players currently on the roster.
Nothing in life is free, so before we delve into potential trade targets for the Celtics we should look at the current roster and how each player’s value to the Celtics compares to their value to the rest of the league. I’m going to break this down into a few categories of players and highlight one in each.
The Supreme Court has ruled that every trade deadline preview has to take a stand on if a team has any “untouchables.” Marcus Smart is untradeable from my heart.
Core Pieces: Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk
No one is untouchable, but these five players’ combination of production and team control means you’re unlikely to shift any without getting back a potential All Star. Smart has the most upside but Crowder probably has the best trade value because of position scarcity.
Jae’s name has come up in a lot of trade speculation because he would likely be part of the asking price for a top-20 player like Blake Griffin. Crowder received some buzz as an All-Star honorable mention and at 25 years old he may still have room to grow; it’s also possible that his value is at it’s peak right now. A responsible front office has to wonder if he’s really the 35% shooter from three we’ve seen this season or the low-30% shooter he was on his first 500 NBA attempts. His team friendly five year deal means trading him for a player with only a year left on their deal would be a big risk, but for any established star player in their prime and sitting on a deal longer than that you would have to make the move.
Fresh off his first ever NBA All-Star nomination, Isaiah Thomas was named Player of the Week. He and LaMarcus Aldridge both shared the honor for their respective conferences.
As NBA.com pointed out, Thomas had himself quite a week, during which the Celtics played four impressive games. In that time, the C’s averaged 107.8 points, including a big win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Amir Johnson, PF19 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +13 +/-
Amir’s contributions were so quiet, I only noticed a few of them but — to no one’s surprise — he was a +13 while on the floor and was a rebound and a field goal away from a double-double. His back taps remain a staple of the Celtics offense.
A couple of late-game turnovers hurt Crowder’s grade, as well as a quiet night offensively. Sorry Bae. It’s only because you’ve given us so much reason to believe in you.
Jared Sullinger, C23 MIN | 10-13 FG | 1-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 21 PTS | +10 +/-
A highly efficient game for Jared Sullinger, who also managed to wrap himself up with DeMarcus Cousins at the end of the game in one of the more hilarious (and, for Boogie, enraging) no-calls of the day.
Look, you aren’t always going to be able stop a force of nature like DeMarcus Cousins, but if you counteract his contributions somewhat and give every ounce of effort you can on the defensive end, you deserve an A. Zeller played an excellent game (though he’s docked slightly for his four turnovers).
Kelly Olynyk, C17 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-4 3FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -12 +/-
An acceptable game with some nice plays for Kelly Olynyk, but man: After he knocked down that pair of 3-pointers near the end of the first half, it really felt like he was about go nuts against a Kings team that isn’t particularly well-equipped to deal with a stretch big man.
Marcus Smart, PG29 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-6 3FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +1 +/-
As someone (I apologize, I don’t remember who) pointed out on Twitter: Does anyone get called for more fouls simply because he played defense that looked a little too good than Marcus Smart?
I’m not certain where “discovering exactly how to use Evan Turner” fits into Brad Stevens’ legacy, but it has to be pretty high. Turner’s ability to bob and weave around the mid-range area was key for long stretches on Sunday. Plus: Nine assists!
I have to imagine Celtics media is going to get angry Brad, despite the victory and the sparkling 31-22 record after a staggering 24 turnovers and 48 minutes of allowing an inferior (and combustible) Kings team to hang around.
It’s not really his fault, but like…what are we supposed to dock Overlord Stevens for?
Here’s an annotated list of 17 of my thoughts about that shot. 17, because clearly this win means the Celtics are going to add to Banner 17 this year (this may be an overreaction).
2. Avery Bradley is doing very well hitting his threes this year.
3. I also thought he was super-cold this game, but apparently he was 4-8 from deep? Must have been some of his shot selection to that point.
4. This play doesn’t even come to fruition without Marcus Smart fou- I mean, hustling past Mozgov to Evan Turner’s missed free throw and knocking it off two other Celtics and two other Cavaliers, including the one that was deflected off of was LeBron James. Read the rest of this entry »
The trade deadline is about two weeks away so as talk heat up across the league it’s worth doing a level set on where the Celtics sit in their team building process, and assess what some of their goals may be. After a few years of flipping pennies for nickels and quarters for dimes this season’s deadline priority is a little more traditional: Add talent now (but don’t sacrifice too much of the future).
This will be part one of the deadline preview and focused on the team’s general situation. Part two will look at our current players; part three will be everyone’s’ favorite game of naming possible targets and throwing out semi-lopsided trade proposals.
Current Cap Position
After a summer of squeezing every asset they could out of their rare position under the salary cap, Danny Ainge, Mike Zarren, and the Celtics front office now sit nearly $10M over the cap.
It’s possible that the Celtics will drop all the way down below the cap (more on that in Part 2) but the most likely scenario is that the Celtics will stay above the cap for the remainder of the season before dropping below next summer.Some of that cap overage is related to waived players like Perry Jones and small guarantees paid to camp invites eventually routed to Maine. There’s also a $2.275M hold on the books for Gigi Datome’s rights, in case you’re holding out hopes for a Bun Brothers run with Kelly Olynyk (and who isn’t?).
Editor’s Note: February is going to be an exciting month here at CelticsHub and not just because of the trade deadline. We’re going to be rolling out a number of new things on the site front, highlighted by some impressive new contributors. Today, we start with Ryan Bernardoni, who qualifies as one of the best Celtic analysts on the web in my book. If you aren’t familiar with his work, you will get a taste of it later today, but you can find out much more about him in his intro below. We are absolutely thrilled to have him aboard.
Hello, my name is Ryan and I’m a sports-obsessed inveterate follower of the Celtics, an amateur NBA capologist, and starting today a new contributor here at Celtics Hub. I’m looking forward to this new opportunity and to start a new conversation with you in the blog’s community.
If you know of me, it’s probably from /r/bostonceltics, the Celtics group on Reddit, where I’ve been a moderator and contributor for a number of years under the username /u/dangercart. I’m active on Twitter @dangercart where I regularly freak out during games and then calm down once they’re over. I also built and (sort of) maintain a fully functioning NBA salary cap calculator at roster-builder.com. Read the rest of this entry »