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How Does Phil Pressey’s Recent Play Affect His Chances Of Being Re-Signed?

Yesterday, I wrote a story on Phil Pressey for MassLive.com. You can read it in its entirety here. Here’s an excerpt:

Pressey has been one of the leaders in efficiency among rookie point guards in 2013-14, sporting an assist-to-turnover ration of 7.6 to 2.6 per 36 minutes. Pace-adjusted stats can be deceiving, since they normalize a small sample size and often make players who compete against second units look better. But in this year’s rookie class, only Trey Burke has a better assist-to-turnover ratio per 36 minutes than Pressey. It’s also worth noting that as a starter, Pressey’s ratio stays largely the same: 6.9 assists to 2.5 turnovers.

What’s more, Pressey hasn’t exactly made a point of being careful. His style of play mixes no-look passes with tricky dribbling, all of which — according to Pressey — is simply the best way to make a play happen.

“It’s unconscious,” Pressey said after Friday’s game. “Danny Ainge has told me to make the same passes and still be creative, but kind of tone it down a little. But sometimes, I see something and the only way I can get him the ball is to be flashy and creative. I feel like that flashy and creative allows me to work.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Grades: 76ers 113, Celtics 108

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Boston Celtics 108 FinalRecap | Box Score 113 Philadelphia 76ers
Brandon Bass, PF 38 MIN | 3-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +8
Just because we’re on auto-pilot doesn’t mean you can take your hands off the wheel, Brandon.

Jeff Green, SF 38 MIN | 10-16 FG | 5-6 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 27 PTS | +1
Here’s the thing about Jeff Green: He has never been and never will be a solid top option for a team offensively since defenses can latch onto him when he’s the focal point. We’ve covered that a thousand times this year. That being said, against a team like Philadelphia — which doesn’t really have anyone capable of latching on to anyone — he can remind you how good he was alongside players like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. If he’s going to stick in Boston, the Celtics will need to get a better top offensive option next year.

Kelly Olynyk, C 35 MIN | 10-19 FG | 6-7 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 28 PTS | -12
Olynyk’s last few games have been tantalizing, and given nearly six months of offseason to obsess over them, we all may have convinced ourselves that Olynyk is DIRK WITH A HANDLE!!!!!!! by the time next season rolls around. He’s not, obviously, but he’s playing very well.

Rajon Rondo, PG 35 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-1 FT | 11 REB | 14 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 8 PTS | +16
Rondo has to lead the league in double-doubles achieved without scoring double-digit points.

Avery Bradley, PG 42 MIN | 9-22 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 23 PTS | +6
Do you applaud Bradley for taking more 3-pointers (since it’s a more efficient shot than his long two-pointers) or do you penalize him for continuing to fire away despite shooting just 2-for-11?

Chris Johnson, SF 17 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -4
Best of both worlds on Johnson’s final shot: He drained it and got to look mega-clutch, but he stepped out of bounds (not really his fault) and didn’t damage Boston’s lottery odds.

Joel Anthony, C 14 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -7
Keep getting them checks, Joel.

Phil Pressey, PG 15 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 2 PTS | -24
Just three assists today? I think it’s pretty evident that Rondo is HOLDING PHIL PRESSEY BACK.

Chris Babb, SG 6 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -9
Babb has earned himself a training camp invite, but barring some kind of offseason miracle, it’s probably safe to assume that he won’t make the team next year if the Cs are at all competitive.

One Thing We Saw

  1. If only losses to bad teams counted positively toward lottery odds.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

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Humphries, Sullinger and Bayless out tonight vs. Philadelphia, Rondo questionable

Before we all scream “TANKING!” and “DANNY, WHERE WAS THIS A WEEK AGO WHEN BOSTON WAS IN THIRD AND ALL IT HAD TO DO WAS LOSE THE REST OF THE WAY TO STAY THERE?”, remember that it’s possible — probable, even — that these injuries are all legitimate. There was very real concern about Bayless’ knee — enough so that he needed to stay in Boston for an MRI after the win over Charlotte. After they decided nothing was wrong, it probably seemed a little pointless to fly him out for the road trip.

Meanwhile, Sullinger noticeably tweaked his ankle against Cleveland, and Humphries has been dealing with a nagging knee issue for a few games.

The only thing might be construed as “tanking” is Rondo’s shin, which has kept him out for three games now. Read the rest of this entry »

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Grades: Celtics 111, Cavaliers 99

Last night’s win over Cleveland is virtually impossible to grade. Completely setting aside the fact that the win was borderline catastrophic to Boston’s lottery odds, the Cavaliers are such a dumpster fire of a team (and such a dumpster fireball of a defense) that they can turn B-grade offense into A+ simply by allowing Kelly Olynyk to drive to the basket uncontested, or by allowing Phil Pressey to trail a play in transition and slam home a put-back dunk.

Hang on, I need to link that put-back dunk (GIF courtesy of @MrTrpleDouble10).

GET ‘EM PHIL.

For the record, it’s not like dunking has come out of nowhere for Pressey.

The crazy thing is that his arms are so short, his head almost HAS to be at the rim for him to throw it down. That’s a lot of athleticism.

Anyway, since the Cavaliers made everyone on the Celtics look like the best-case scenario of themselves, tonight’s grades are simply everyone’s ceiling. Read the rest of this entry »

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Grades: Celtics 106, Bobcats 103

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Charlotte Bobcats 103 Final
Recap | Box Score
106 Boston Celtics
Brandon Bass, PF 34 MIN | 7-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | +9


Bass was as efficient and productive as one could reasonably hope. He and Phil Pressey work very well together.

Jeff Green, SF 34 MIN | 8-11 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 18 PTS | +9


Minus three or four 3-point attempts, this was second-half-of-last-year Jeff Green — attacking the rim and scoring around the basket.

Jared Sullinger, C 28 MIN | 8-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | +1


Sully gets docked for being part of the crew that allowed Al Jefferson to torture Boston, but he gets a significant bump for hitting big shot after big shot after big shot.

Avery Bradley, PG 38 MIN | 8-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 22 PTS | +4


Any time you shoot 4-for-6 from 3-point range and score 22 points, you are getting something in the A-range. I think that’s actually in the CBA somewhere.

Phil Pressey, PG 39 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 13 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 10 PTS | -2


I could dock Pressey for shooting 4-for-11 shooting from the floor OR I could reward his Rondo-like statline. I’ll do the latter.

Chris Johnson, SF 14 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -6


There are many nights Chris Johnson makes his impact felt on the floor. This was not one of them.

Kris Humphries, C 11 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | 0


This grade may seem harsh, but Hump didn’t do much offensively, and Jefferson put him in a BLENDER a couple of times.

Kelly Olynyk, C 22 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -4


That kind of long-range shooting will more than get the job done for Olynyk.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 19 MIN | 0-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +4


Bayless hyperextended his knee tonight. He’ll get an MRI. Be well, Jerryd.

One Thing We Saw

  1. If I might make a suggestion? Just don’t look at the standings. It’s going to play out however it plays out, and we have no control. Boston is not going to have the worst or the second-worst record. The third-worst may have just slipped away. But one way or another, no amount of fretting is going to make Boston’s lottery odds improve. Things are just going to happen however they happen.

    And yes, I’m advising myself as much as you guys. Sue me.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

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Rajon Rondo Will Sit Out Vs. Charlotte

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 11.21.04 PM

Kemba Walker will also be sitting out tonight with a groin injury, so if you were hoping to tune in for the epic point guard showdown of Phil Pressey vs. Luke Ridnour, you are in for a SERIOUS treat. Read the rest of this entry »

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What If The Celtics And Magic Finish The Season Tied?

After another late-fourth quarter collapse for the Celtics and an improbable win by the Orlando Magic over Brooklyn, the Celtics have floundered their way into a tie for the third-worst record in the NBA.

We’ve covered what would happen if Boston finished third, fourth, fifth or sixth in the lottery before, but we didn’t account for the possibility they might end up tied with Orlando. Here’s how the rule works, according to Rufus On Fire of SB Nation back in 2013.

In the case of a tie between two teams, they average the ping pong balls between the two teams. Should the resulting division result in a remainder, a coin flip will determine who gets the extra ping pong ball. Series records don’t matter.

Doing the math, let’s break this down:

— If Boston and Orlando finish the season tied, they would get 156 ping pong balls for the third-place finish and 119 for the fourth. Added together, that makes 275. Those 275 would be divided equally between the Celtics and the Magic, and since that equals 137.5, a coin flip would determine who gets 138 ping pong balls and who gets 137 136. So if the Celtics finished tied with Orlando, they would have either a 13.8 or a 13.6 percent chance of winning the lottery, depending on the flip of the coin. That’s not as good as 15.6, but it’s a little better than 11.9.

— More importantly, this positioning ups Boston’s chances of getting into the top three (and thus getting a shot at Embiid, Parker or Wiggins). If the Magic and Celtics tie, one team will have a 42.2 percent chance at a top three pick, while the other will have a 42.4 percent shot. At fourth, Boston would have just a 37.8 percent chance to get a top-three pick.

— It’s interesting to note that Boston’s chances at a top-three pick wouldn’t go up THAT much if they possessed the third spot by themselves: Sole possession of the third-best odds would give the Celtics a 46.9 percent chance at a top-3 pick. Also (obviously), it would give Orlando just a 37.8 percent chance at a top-three pick, thus making it less likely that the Magic would knock Boston out of the lottery.

— It’s also important to remember that although Boston faces superior teams Friday (Charlotte) and Wednesday (Washington), the Cs also take on Cleveland and Philadelphia before the season is over. Don’t count on this quite yet.

That’s a lot of stats to tell you that Boston’s lottery odds essentially went up just under five percent tonight. Numbers don’t lie, and feelings do. But for some reason, these numbers — however seemingly insignificant — really do feel like they matter.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

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Grades: Atlanta 105, Boston 97

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 11.21.04 PM

 

Boston Celtics 97 Final
Recap | Box Score
105 Atlanta Hawks
Brandon Bass, PF 33 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -8


Two somewhat big baskets for Bass as Boston was pushing its lead out in the fourth quarter, but not much else.

Jeff Green, SF 36 MIN | 5-15 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | -6


Boy, Jeff’s two made 3-pointers seemed to speak a lot louder than all of his misses, even though he missed more than three times as many as he made. I didn’t even realize he was shooting so inefficiently until I saw his box score postgame.

Jared Sullinger, C 37 MIN | 6-15 FG | 2-2 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | -8


Inefficient shooting lines aside, Sullinger scrapped like crazy.

Rajon Rondo, PG 41 MIN | 8-15 FG | 1-3 FT | 4 REB | 12 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 19 PTS | -9


Rondo also scrapped like crazy, but he shooting very efficiently. It was easy to see how badly he wanted to spoil things for Atlanta, and it was a little heartbreaking to see him as time wound down (see the screen cap above) and it became clear that Boston had allowed another lead to slip away. I’m sure Rondo thought his return would be enough to vault Boston into playoff contention. Instead, they are slipping further and further out. Is that Rondo’s fault? Of course not. But I would imagine this has all been extremely discouraging for him.

Avery Bradley, PG 35 MIN | 8-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 24 PTS | -5


I want to give Bradley an A, but his late-game execution was so bad. Very confident, which was good, but so bad.

Chris Johnson, SF 14 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-3 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +8


Chris Johnson probably won’t ever be spectacular, but he’s so clearly an NBA player. Reminder: Boston has him locked up through 2017 (!!!!) at no more than $1.1 million if they decide to pick up his options, and they absolutely should. That’s such an incredible steal.

Kelly Olynyk, C 15 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +1


For those interested, Olynyk grabbed 21.5 rebounds per 36 minutes tonight.

Joel Anthony, C 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3


Anthony did not record a single stat, but he DID have a -3 in plus/minus. So that means..absolutely nothing. Single-game plus/minus is virtually meaningless. Going to stick with incomplete on this one.

Phil Pressey, PG 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -3


I honestly wouldn’t have noticed Pressey in the game if Danny hadn’t mentioned it on the broadcast.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -7


Not one of Bayless’ better games, but he didn’t really hurt anything either.

One Thing We Saw

  1. More coming on the improved lottery odds. Just four more to go, y’all.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

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Four Non-Tanking Storylines To Watch The Rest Of The Way

If you’ve watched as much Celtics basketball as I have this season, you would probably agree: This season has been draining. The balancing act of watching a team rebuild and try to develop while simultaneously hoping they lose as many games as it takes to get Andrew Wiggins has worn thin at this point. I’m really just ready for it to be over.

So is anything worth watching in Boston’s final five games? Absolutely, or at least that’s what I tell myself. Here are four storylines to keep an eye on as the season winds down.

#1: Sullinger or Olynyk?

There’s a slim chance Danny Ainge decides to try to ride it out with a Sullinger/Olynyk front line, but he’s much more likely to try to move one of them. Which is more likely?

As far as I can tell, Sully the odds-on favorite to be dealt given where the team is currently. Olynyk started off the season slowly, and when he started playing well, the Celtics were too uninspiring for outside observers to really get interested. Celtics fans, meanwhile, are seeing a mobile 7-footer who can shoot from anywhere out to the 3-point line and forces opposing, less mobile bigs to close out to the 3-point line. Sullinger, meanwhile, has had some tantalizingly big stat lines while also producing more in increased minutes. Any team that thinks its training staff could help get him in better shape in the offseason would see real, fascinating potential in Sullinger. Acquire-Kevin-Love potential? No. But there are plenty of other good players in the NBA who might fit Boston’s roster better than a Sully/Olynyk pairing.

#2: How miserable is Joel Anthony?

Let’s be very clear about one thing: Anthony has been incredibly professional. A slightly lesser man would be whining more about his current situation than I do on Twitter when my League Pass goes out.

Let’s recap: Anthony was traded from the Miami Heat (at this point, very much the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference over the stumbling Indiana Pacers) to the now 23-54 Boston Celtics. Adding insult to injury, Anthony — a real center — has played extremely minimal minutes behind four power forwards. Adding salt AND insult to injury: Brad Stevens has publicly said he wants a rim protector on the team. Anthony’s only real skill in Miami was…being a rim protector. Joel Anthony has a much more legitimate reason to go Keith Bogans than Keith Bogans.

So if Anthony hasn’t been playing, why is his storyline important? Because his $3.8 million contract has a player option for next season. Anthony has said that the Celtics have a great locker room, but a great locker room isn’t going to be enough for him to pick up his player option. Almost certainly, it’s the $3.8 million that’s going to make him pick up his player option.

Anthony isn’t going to opt out just because he’s unhappy. For a player who probably doesn’t have many NBA paychecks remaining, $3.8 million is a lot of money — about three times as much as the veteran’s minimum.

The only way Anthony declines his player option is if he is legitimately so miserable with the Celtics, he literally would give $3.8 million away to leave the team. This isn’t likely, and I hope that’s not the case — hoping for a man to be that miserable is pretty inhumane. That being said, look at the recap of Anthony’s last year above. He hasn’t had an easy time recently.

#3: Is this the end of Bayless and Humphries in Boston?

The latter is pretty simple: Probably. Kris Humphries isn’t worth $11 million per year, but he’s had a player efficiency rating well above league average all season, he’s averaging a double-double in points and rebounds per 36 minutes, and he’s shooting over 50 percent for the first time since the 2010-11 season. It would be surprising if a better team didn’t offer him a contract Boston couldn’t (or shouldn’t) match. If Humphries was willing to take a discount, it would be great to see him stay in Boston, but it makes very little business sense for him to do so.

Bayless is a little more likely to work contractually for Boston. His $3.1 million contract expires at the end of the year, but the general spending pattern around the NBA (in the non-Joe Dumars category) has gotten smarter. Bayless, who is pretty clearly a bench player on a good team, probably won’t earn a ton of money in free agency. But if you haven’t already, read Adam’s piece on Bayless. He has a chance to become the first Celtic since Ray Allen to shoot 40 percent from 3-point range, and having two ball-handlers has worked well for Boston. Sure, it would work better with better wings and posts, but such is life this season.

#4: Playing spoiler

The Hawks are fighting for a playoff spot. The Wizards and Raptors are fighting for playoff position. Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo doesn’t like anyone and wants to ruin all of their days.

From the Boston Herald:

Rajon Rondo may not be able to resurrect his own team’s dead playoff hopes, but he can influence the outcome for another team as a spoiler.

“We want to be that team,” the Celtics captain said before today’s practice. “Hopefully we can mess up Atlanta’s record a little more tomorrow, and knock those guys out of the playoffs. Every night I try to compete and win.”

Losing these games would benefit Boston, but if you can separate yourself from the Celtics’ season, there are some pretty compelling storylines if Boston wins as well.

That’s not doing it for you? Fair enough. A loss to Atlanta would help knock New York out of the playoffs as well. So you can watch for that if you want.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

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Should The Celtics Shut Down Their Injured Players?

169750620-23181826The following is an excerpt of a piece I contributed to Boston.com’s Celtics coverage. You can check out the full article by clicking here

With a mere week remaining in the season, the list of the walking wounded continues to pile up for the Celtics.

Avery Bradley is dealing with a strained right Achilles that has forced him to miss the last 3 1/2 games. Kris Humphries was sidelined Saturday night with right knee tendonitis and now remains out indefinitely. Jared Sullinger suffered a bruised left quad during Saturday’s loss against the Pistons, keeping him out for the team’s practice on Monday.

Bradley and Sullinger are currently hoping to return to the lineup for Wednesday’s game in Atlanta, but with just five games remaining in a lost season right now, it’s fair to ask the question: Are the Celtics better off shutting down some of these players for the year?

It’s an idea that Brad Stevens was not willing to entertain at practice this week. Read the rest of this entry »

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