Wednesday, April 16, 2014

(Video) Danny Ainge talks about duplicating 2007 all over again



Doing what Danny did in 2007 isn't easy. You need a little help from your friends. It's a shame Kevin is coaching right now. Danny Ainge has an opportunity to duplicate some of the magic from 2007. But it's going to take some luck, and some long hours from Ainge. The lottery will be the first domino to fall. This summer could be setup on where the Celtics pick in the draft. That pick could help led the Celtics to a player like Kevin Love, just to throw a name out there.

Ainge said in his interview that he knows he doesn't have the right mix of players, despite Boston having good players right now. As he did the other day, Ainge said Rondo will have his best year of his career. He believes Rondo has reached a certain level of maturity, and his health next season will be key for his growth. Ainge would love to help Rondo, just like he did for Pierce in 2007-08. Will see how it all works out. With a less than stellar free agent pool. Danny will have to be creative on how he retools this summer, unless he sticks to building through the draft.

(Video) Rondo talks about the season after final game



Danny Ainge has placed big expectations on Rondo next season. Ainge has said that Rondo will have his best year in 2014-15. I agree, if Rondo builds off some of the good things from his short 30 game season, then Rondo should be at his best. Rondo could have a historic season, if Ainge is able to provide a star or two for Rondo.

Rondo missed 3 of his last 5 games this year. This season wasn't supposed to be his coming out party. Despite being named captain, and being the sole leader of the Boston Celtics. Rondo's confidence was peaking as the season was ending. Regardless of Ainge's potential big summer. Rondo has some nice young players to build off of.

Rondo also says that he wants some input in Danny's offseason.


"Every team is different. This is new, me being the only guy here back (from) when Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were here. It's still no different. I still think I have been involved. Danny Ainge has always been in communication with me and what he has planned and what he has in store for this team."

"A good group to play with and a lot of great guys. A lot of young guys just trying to be better."

"Motivation for next year. We have a lot to work on and I look forward to next year."

Will Rajon Rondo watch the playoffs "No"



The Celtics are out of the playoff picture for the second time in Rondo's career. The first time he missed the playoffs with the Celtics was in his rookie season. The year before the "Big 3" joined forces. I think Rondo should watch the playoffs. This is his job. I know his season is over, but why wouldn't you want to watch others in the playoffs. I would think it would burn a fire underneath Rondo. Maybe Rondo has his own ways to motivate himself.

Celtics.com

Re: If he will watch the playoffs:
"No."

(Video) Brad Stevens says: "I think we can get better" after Celtics season finale




The Celtics finished with a 25-57 record. With Rondo coming back a year stronger after ACL surgery next year. With Olynyk gaining a great deal of confidence in the final three games this season, and with overall confidence in each other. The Celtics should be much better regardless of what Ainge does. This group will be better, and Brad Stevens will be even better with a year under his belt.

"I think we can get better. I think we can get better. Unlike, you would think at the end of a season like this, I’m not concerned that we aren’t going to strive to get better, if that makes sense. I think we will work, I think their work-ethics are good, I think their coachability is pretty good, and I think that the one thing that they never really did, you know maybe here or there, there was a line or two, you all know better than I do because you’re the ones asking them, they never really splintered.

Things like this can splinter you pretty easily, and they stayed together pretty well as far as standing up for one another and being a team and not pointing blame, and it’s been a pretty good group from that regard, and that gives you a chance to improve. You know, it’s the old adage that you can’t improve without accountability, so that gives you a chance moving forward."

Celtics drop last game of the season, where do they stand in the lottery?

Boston ended their season with a 118-102 loss at home to the Wizards. The Celtics played well, the lack bigs has hurt the Celtics in the final games, but the bigs played hard like the Celtics have all year. Kelly Olynyk scored a team-high 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting, despite being in foul trouble. Jeff Green added 20 points, while Phil Pressey had nine points and 10 assists.


As for the lottery following the loss. The Celtics are tied with the Jazz for the 4th spot.

ESPN Boston

The Celtics and Jazz will split 207 ping-pong ball combinations with a random drawing to see who gets the leftover combo (and the higher pick in the event neither vault into the top 3 spots). Both teams will own roughly 33.7 percent chance at a top-3 pick and a 10.4 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick. Boston can pick no lower than eighth in June's draft.

I'll have more on the game and draft later tonight.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ainge says Rondo will have his best season ever next year, but won't say he's untouchable in trades



Ainge is expecting Rondo to have a career year next season, and is it because Rondo will be playing for a contract? It's likely he feels that way because Rondo will be looking at a new deal at the conclusion of the 2014-15 season.

I think Rondo will regain his crown as top assist man, but can Rondo lead the Boston Celtics back to the playoffs? It depends upon Ainge's summer. It also depends on Ainge not trading Rondo. Ainge spoke highly of Rondo, but at the same time Ainge was not willing to say Rondo was a guy that he wouldn't trade.

Boston Globe

“I think Rondo’s going to have a great year next year,” Ainge said. “I think he’s going to have the best year of his career. Watching Rondo right now and watching him develop as a player I feel like he’s headed towards the best year of his career.”
Rondo has been mentioned several times in trade rumors this season. When asked if there was a good possibility Rondo would be with the Celtics next year, Ainge said, “Of course.”

When asked if he has spoken with Rondo about the guard’s long-term future in Boston, Ainge said: “Listen, I tell everybody the same, whether it’s KG [Kevin Garnett], Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, whatever, I really love and respect all the guys but I can’t ever promise anybody that [a trade] won’t happen. That’s not my job. My job is not assure them [they’re staying] but to do what I think is best for the Celtics. I don’t have an intention or plan [to trade Rondo] but I can never make that sort of promise.
“I don’t know who’s going to be in a Celtics uniform. We have a lot of work to do this summer. I think Rondo is our best player.”
With the Celtics missing the playoffs, Rondo will get some extra time to rest before working himself into premium condition for next season. He also has said he will reduce his off-the-court obligations.

“I think he’s getting there,” Ainge said. “I think a summer of more rehab and a little bit of the extra rest, I really believe he’s going to put the extra time in and that’s why I sort of feel like this was a transition year for him in just coming back.
“I think Rondo would have felt bad and probably wouldn’t have come back as early as he did had our team been winning a lot of games. It’s hard for a player not playing the way that they’re used to and he’s a great player with great pride. But I think in his mind and what I see on the court, he’s gotten over that. I’m really excited about next year for him.”

Ainge, isn't sold on Rondo. That's clear to the fans, and clear to other NBA GM's who continue to call Danny about Rondo. Simlar to Paul Pierce's time in Boston, before the 2007 draft. The lottery could seal Rondo's fate. If the Celtics had picked up one of the top two spots in 2007, Pierce would have been traded.

Rondo could deal with the same issue if Boston picks first or second this season. After hearing Ainge during his two broadcasts on CSNNE. He wants Rondo to score ball, and Rondo has failed to deliver for Ainge.

Video: Jeff Green earns buzzer beater of the year against Miami



It was a top 5 moment for me in a bleak year. I was hopeful that the Celtics were on their way after Green's miracle corner three. It will go down as one of my favorite moments as a Celtics fans. It was just a bright moment in a year that had very few.

Who's your Boston Celtics MVP for the 2013-14 season?


Over at ESPN Boston they picked their MVP and Rookie Of The Year. The Rookie Of The Year is easy to pick. It's hands down Kelly Olynyk, even though Phil Pressey has been outstanding lately.

Over at ESPN Boston, they picked Jared Sullinger as team MVP. Rajon Rondo is clearly the best player, but he's only played in 30 games this season for the Celtics. So is Sullinger the MVP? This is what Chris Forsberg said about Sully as team MVP. The poll has Sully at 75% as well.


ESPN Boston

Let's disqualify Rajon Rondo here. If he plays in Wednesday's season finale, he'll top out at 31 games played after a mid-January return from ACL surgery. Rondo's stat line is impressive at 11.7 points, 9.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds over a mere 33.3 minutes per game, but the Celtics are 11-30 since his return, including 6-24 in games he appeared. Examining the rest of the field, you could make a case for a number of players, maybe even the departed Jordan Crawford given Boston's early-season success. Our pick? Jared Sullinger.

Despite not having the luxury of a pure center alongside him, Sullinger performed admirably in his sophomore season, averaging 13.3 points and 8.1 rebounds. The Celtics asked him to step outside his comfort zone and he spent much of the season trying to extend his range beyond the 3-point line (to limited success while shooting 26.9 percent beyond the arc). The fact that Sullinger will shoot more triples (208) than free throws (203) is worrisome, but let's chalk it up to experimentation in a transition year. If the Celtics add a pure center next to him, Sullinger needs a serviceable 3-point shot to stretch the floor, but we'd also like to see more back-to-the-basket next season. According to ESPN's new WAR (Wins Above Replacement) metric, Sullinger topped the team and his real plus-minus stats help show that he was a better defender than might appear. Sullinger was the team's best two-way rebounder, giving the team a lift on the offensive glass that hasn't been seen in these parts in recent seasons. All this while coming off back surgery that limited his offseason. We're intrigued to see where Sullinger goes from here, but he certainly was one of the brightest spots this season.

Honor roll: Avery Bradley's blossoming offensive game made him a legitimate two-way threat, but injuries did rob him of nearly a quarter of his season. ... Jeff Green, for all his inconsistencies, is set to start all 82 games for the second straight season since heart surgery, but his WAR is even lower than that of D-League call-up Chris Johnson (albeit in two very different sample sizes).

Honestly, I was leaning towards Jeff Green. I looked at Chris Forsberg's reason, he used ESPN's new WAR (Wins Above Replacement) metric to pick Sully. So, I looked where Green finished. Jeff Green finished 213, compared to Sully finishing 83rd. How did someone like Derek Fisher finish 109th? The stat isn't perfect, but it does help weed out the best. So how do their stats compare head-to-head?



Better stats overall? Jeff Green, besides the rebounding that goes Sully's way. Green has the points over Sully, but again, maybe Sully could have scored around 16-17 if he played more consistent earlier in the season. One thing that hurts Sully? His shooting percentages are very low for a guy who should be in the paint. Another area that I looked at was Green's numbers as a starter (All 81 games)compared to Sully's 44 games as a starter. The numbers don't differ much from his numbers coming off the bench.

When it comes to 4th quarter numbers. Sully averages 4.3 points per 4th quarter, with Green at 3.9 in the final quarter. Green has likely had the best performances, but Sully has been the heart and soul of this team. I really wanted to find ways to say Jeff Green was MVP. But, I didn't find something glaring that would point me towards Green. You could say both are CO-MVP's, but it doesn't work that way often. Jared Sullinger is my choice for Celtics MVP, which means Sully has set the bar even higher next season.

The talkin' box score: Boston Celtics – Philadelphia 76ers 108-113


Record: 25-56

Final road game of the season and our struggles away from the Garden continues: the Philadelphia 76ers won a hard fought game that saw a potential game tying three pointer from Chris Johnson with 9 seconds left on the clock, then ruled like a turnover from the refs because Johnson stepped on the right sideline before releasing the shot.

The Celtics had a two games winning streak going on and they started the game the right way, shooting more than 60% in the first quarter, although we haven’t been able to pull away, and after the first twelve minutes the two teams finished with 33 points apiece. Then in the second quarter, we completely forgot how to shot the ball, and we’ve been totally outplayed by the 76ers that scored twice our points: 17 to 34.
This could have easily been the end of the game: in the last month we haven’t always played with the effort we should bring to every game and it’s hard to be down by 17 points at halftime. Instead this time the Celtics found the strength to get back on their feet and the came out strong from the locker room, starting to play once again and pulling off a great comeback, finishing the third quarter down by just a couple of points.

Rondo finished the game with another one of those strange stats line that only him is capable of doing: 11 rebounds, 14 assists, and 8 points. Another triple double missed for just a couple of points. This time I want to criticize him for this: he scored six points in the first quarter and two in the third quarter. That’s it. He sure helped us to go back in the game during the third quarter with 5 assists, four rebounds and a couple of steals, but being our leader, we need him to take us by the hand down the stretch and score, especially this being a close game that could have capped and epic comeback.

In his second game as a starter, Kelly Olynyk had another monster game. The season is over, and Kelly has the chance to see more playing time that can give him some precious experience for the next season. The guy finished with 28 points on 10 for 19, 9 rebounds and 3 assists. He scored 18 points in the second half, 9 of which in the last period. Kelly has a lot of potential, and after a shy beginning of the season, he’s showing that he’s not afraid to have the ball in his hands. If he keeps working hard, we have another really good young player to rely on for the next years.

Off the bench, the only guy that deserve to be mentioned is Chris Johnson that finished with 8 points and 3 assists. Six of those points came in that big third quarter. Truth to be told, hadn’t his foot been on the line for that three pointer, we would be talking about a probably different game and Chris Johnson would be the man of the match with that shot. He’s been really unlike this time.


I said last time that the game against Charlotte was the last game at home, and I apologize for the mistake, but it’s been a very long week at work. The next will be the last game, and we have the chance to close out the season the right way on our home court. The wizard will be a tough matchup, but I still trust our Celtics pride.

Celtics Morning Joe: Where Rondo has found his inside game




Rondo's confidence has grown when it comes to taking the ball inside. He's finishing, and that will only fuel his confidence. With the season nearing a close, the test will begin this summer for Rondo. What kind of point guard will he be? Will he look to score more, or will he find a great balance. CSNNE'S A. Sherrod Blakely, pulled the numbers of Rondo's improvement scoring in the paint.

CSNNE

Well the numbers tell us that the narrative involving Rondo's shooting improvement around the basket, is no tall tale.

In the month of April, the four time All-Star is taking 62.9 percent of his shots in the paint which is a significantly higher percentage when you consider that shots in the paint only account for 52 percent of his shots the rest of the season.

The increased shot attempts around the basket this month stem from a noticeable decline in the percentage of mid-range jumpers he takes which is down to 17.1 percent in April, compared to 21 percent the rest of the season. Also, 3-pointers account for 20 percent of Rondo's shot attempts in April, down from 27 percent the rest of the season.

But getting shots in the paint is just part of the battle.

It won't do him or the Celtics any good if he's getting the shots and they don't fall in.

But that's definitely not the case of late with Rondo, one of the league's best at dribble penetrating into the lane to either score or kick out to teammates for an easier shot and for Rondo of course, another assist.

Since he re-joined the Celtics in January after missing the first few months of the season sitting out following a torn right ACL injury in January of 2013, the statistical strides he has made at getting to the basket and finishing, is readily apparent.

Rondo shot 63.6 percent in the paint this month, a significant increase compared to how he shot the ball in March (43.6) and February (44.4), and also a number that more than doubles the 31 percent he shot in the paint in January.

Rondo's performance Monday shows his confidence, the shot chart below tells the story.


Monday, April 14, 2014

The Heat threw in the towel for the number one spot in the Eastern Conference, and they don't care



With the Heat losing Saturday night against the Hawks, and with the Pacers win over the Thunder Sunday. The Heat gambled by sitting James and Bosh Monday against the Wizards. They basically gave up, seeing that the Pacers would likely beat the Magic in their final regular season game. The Heat could have went for it against the Wizards, banking on a possible Pacers loss.

ESPN

LeBron James' only visible significant role was that of postgame heckler, interrupting Michael Beasley's interview amid a loose, upbeat locker room that normally wouldn't jibe with a 21-point loss -- or throwing in a towel in the race for a No. 1 seed.

James and Chris Bosh took the night off Monday, and the Heat were beaten 114-93 by the Washington Wizards in a no-contest game that guaranteed the Eastern Conference's top seed for the Indiana Pacers.

So, no disappointment at all?

"There would be no disappointment," said Dwyane Wade, who played because he needed some minutes after his recent nine-game layoff with a hamstring injury. "When the playoffs start, we have a new season and we will be looking forward to it."


The Pacers stumbled to end the season, and they got more press than Miami's stumble. Miami has won two titles in a row, so nobody worries about that. But what about the fact that no team has made it to four NBA Finals in a row since the Celtics in the 80's. With the Eastern Conference weak as can be. The Heat have a legit chance. At this point, the East is Miami's to lose. I still feel pretty confident in the Pacers, but I'll give it more thought before Saturday. When the playoffs kick off.

Rajon Rondo could possibly miss Celtics final regular season game



We may have seen Rondo for the last time this season. There is only one game remaining, but Rondo seems slightly off after the shin injury. I would love to see Rondo one last time this season, before the C's head off for the summer. If he doesn't feel like giving it a go, then he needs to sit out.



Stevens said the Celtics didn't get a clean look in the end, do you agree?


The last play of the game wasn't shocking to me. It's happened before, and it happens often. As great as Rondo is, he has a flaw, and it's an issue that former Celtic greats point out. It's also obvious to many Celtics fans. Rondo's over dribbling of the basketball can hurt the Celtics, more often then not. Rondo was a +24 during Monday's game against Philly. But in the final play, with the Celtics down 111-108 with 15 seconds to go.

Rondo got the inbound pass from Green, and soon after Rondo dribbled, and dribbled until the clock was nearing zero. Soon before the clock ran out, Rondo dished the ball off to Chris Johnson, who had a foot out of bounds. So, I watched this play a few times. To me, the Celtics wasted the clock, and wasted an opportunity. They had more looks than coach Stevens led on. He's protecting his player, or players, and that's fine. But I hope he addresses it with the team during their last practice Tuesday morning.

Celtics.com


"We were actually pretty spaced if you look at it. We had about 12 seconds left, and we'll take anything at that time. We wanted to get it in to [Rajon] Rondo, and we wanted to slip a pick-and-roll with Avery [Bradley], which we did. That usually causes some confusion when Avery slips out with the ball. They did a great job staying with it. [James] Anderson did a really good job staying with it, and as Kelly [Olynyk] sprinted up, we had a whole lot of space. You can take a two or three at that time, but he was looking for a three, and that’s okay.

Then we got jumbled up at the end because the clock was winding down and we didn't have another timeout. They did a good job late of forcing us to go into a second action when they switched everything on the in-bound play, which they did a couple of times late. What you want to do is get the ball in with 15 seconds and make sure that you can get action off of that. I thought we executed okay at different times tonight, but I thought that we certainly didn't get a clean look at the end."

One criticism of Stevens? Maybe I shouldn't be critical of Stevens, but Doc Rivers is the best timeout play caller in the NBA. He knew when it was time to setup a Ray Allen three, or a Paul Pierce elbow isolation. Doc also knew when it was time for a KG pick-an-pop, or an alley-oop. Stevens will get there in time, his play calling will grow as he understands his players strengths. The Celtics are down to one game, so Stevens will have a summer to build a detailed playbook.

Boston's interior defense could be priority number one for Danny Ainge this offseason



Danny Ainge joined Mike Gorman once again during Monday's broadcast against the 76ers. Ainge was asked what his biggest priority is this offseason, and he said without hesitation, a rim protector. After Boston gave up 64 points to the 76ers and 50 against Cleveland Saturday. The Bobcats also put 50 on the Celtics last Friday.

The Celtics have bigs, but not your everyday defensive anchor. They don't have a center with length, or a guy who intimidates shots. Ainge also said how hard it is to find a big that has length and who can protect the paint. The Celtics have rebounders, Sullinger and Hump can rebound at a good rate. Outside of that, the C's lack an inside big who can block the basketball.

I think the Celtics need to find a low cost center who can threaten inside. The Celtics have Vitor Faverani who has potential to be that, if he's healthy next season. What do the Celtics do if they can't get a guy who can protect the paint? They'll have to start in the backcourt with Bradley and Rondo. If they can control penetration from pick-and-roll defense and with pressure. Then maybe the smaller bigs can react.

Brad Stevens is a smart coach, and I think he can get by without a rim protector, but honestly I would love a guy who can control the paint.

Celtics fall to Philly, 113-108

Kelly Olynyk scored a career-high 28 points, but it wasn't enough in this one, as the 76ers pulled away in the 4th quarter for a 113-108 win. What can I say about the last play of the game? Rondo, why did you dribble out the last 15 seconds? That is why fans despise you. As for Rondo, he finished with a near triple-double. Rondo finished with, 8 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds in 42 minutes of work.

The Celtics led by 10 early in the first half, then fell behind by as much as 19 early in the second half. The Celtics showed some grit to get back into the game. The thing is, Boston's defense has been awful. The loss of Hump seems bigger than it seems. He's no rim protector, but Boston lacks an inside anchor right now. The 76ers took advantage by scoring 64 points in the paint.

Bradley finished with 23 points, and Green had a steady 27 points. Rondo was a +16, and his backup Pressey was -24 on the night. Overall I was okay with the offense, but on the defensive end, and Rondo's late game blub was forgettable.

Box Score