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Showing posts from December, 2020

Rob Williams and Payton Pritchard are fun to watch. "Are you not entertained?"

In the final breakdown, NBA is entertainment for so many of us. And that is one of the many pluses for Celtics youngsters, Rob Williams and Payton Pritchard. They are fun to watch. The Celtics regained a winning record (3-2) in their 126-107 win over the Memphis Grizzlies last night, and both Rob and Payton gave solid performances and entertainment value in the otherwise boring blowout. Williams III finished with six points, 10 boards, four blocks and only two fouls. Pritchard came away with 10 points, two rebounds, three assists, two steals and only one turnover. It is noteworthy that Pritchard is now tied for 24th place in steals per game (1.6 SPG) with teammate, Marcus Smart, despite playing 10 minutes less per contest (32 MPG for Smart, 22 MPG for Pritchard). There is only one "PaytonPace", and that is fast on both ends of the floor. Rob has increased his intensity on the court and seems much more poised. He did a credible job defending Memphis center, Jonas Valanciunas, 

Jaylen Brown with career outing in Celtics blowout win over Grizzlies

Jaylen with career-best 42 poiints in 29 minutes The Memphis Grizzlies were without their star point guard, Ja Morant (injury), and the Boston Celtics cruised to an easy 126-107 victory. Boston had a star of their own, and his name is Jaylen Brown. Jaylen could do nothing wrong in this one, pouring in a career-best 42 points in only 29 minutes of action. He shot 15-of-21 from the field, 5-of-6 on threes and 5-of-6 from the foul line. His balanced stat line included five rebounds and four assists. Jaylen Brown with a spectacular showing versus Memphis. The work he has put into his game is showing. Jaylen Brown Highlights vs Memphis Grizzlies (42 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast) via @YouTube — Tom Lane (@CelticsSentinel) December 31, 2020 Brown simply looked quietly dominant out there. We didn't see his superior athleticism on display. Instead, Jaylen smartly settled for solid fundamentals, and almost everything he did just worked. Layups, turnaround jumpers, 3-pointers -

Certainly looks like Payton's Place is with the Celtics in Boston

NBC Sports' Chris Forsberg wrote it . " The Celtics don’t win Tuesday night without Pritchard’s game-changing energy". Payton Pritchard came away with 10 points, five boards and five assists in the Celtics 116-111 win over the Pacers last night, ending Indiana's 3-game win streak. This young man simply injects energy into a team that often desperately needs it. It is rare for coach Brad Stevens to be confident enough to keep a rookie on the floor this long ( per NBC Sports' Chris Forsberg ): "Four games into his NBA career, Pritchard, the No. 26 pick in November’s draft, is fifth on the team in total minutes played (88). He’s logged more floor time than two of Boston’s key rotation players during their bubble run in Grant Williams (61 minutes) and Daniel Theis (86). He’s just ahead of veteran offseason acquisition Jeff Teague, who he was supposed to be ahead of him on the point guard depth chart entering the season." Payton Pritchard continues to shine f

Lessons from Heinsohn's 70's team for present Celtics crew

Last night's 116-111-win over the Pacers was hopefully the start of a trend. I am not wishing for the Celtics to peak so early in the season, but despite the positive signs, this current version of The Green could use some lessons in mental and physical toughness. The Celtics Big 3 of the 1970's were all tough in their own ways, as was their coach, Tommy Heinsohn. There was no mistaking the ferocity and intensity of center, Dave Cowens. It was there in his play and on his face. He was a smallish center at 6'8.5", but he backed down to no one. Kareem Abdul Jabbar? Wilt Chamberlain? Made no difference. He took them all on. Conversely, John Havlicek never changed his expression and never broke a sweat. You never saw exhilaration or despair on Jarrin' John's face, and he was so well conditioned, there was hardly ever a drop of sweat on him. But Intense? You bet! Hondo never stopped moving at both ends of the floor and never gave up. JoJo White was a quiet gentleman

Jayson Tatum makes timely changes in his game for 116-111 win over Pacers

This had to happen. The Celtics All-NBA star, Jayson Tatum, disparately needed to alter his style of play if he ever had visions of hoisting Banner #18 in Boston. The necessary changes were evident last night when The Green gave Indiana its first loss of the season. Jayson took it into the paint Nothing revealed Tatum's unwillingness to take it to the hole as much as his mere four(4) free throw attempts in the first three games of the season. Well, versus Indiana last night, he went to the free throw line 10 times, making eight of them. See Exhibit A in the above photo. Tatum backed off on his 3-point shooting  Coming into last night's game, Jayson had attempted 28 treys over the 3-game span. He only took three (3) 3-point attempts in the win, making one of them. The Celtics as a team only took 22 3-point attempts, making nine of them (40.9%). Conversely, the Pacers attempted 33 shots from beyond the arc,  JT's stat line for the game is a winning formula Jayson poured in 27

Rob Williams starts season leading Celtics in seven (7) categories

Celtics fans starting to see more than just a freakish athlete Would you believe Rob Williams is leading the Celtics in at least seven (7) statistical categories at the 3-game mark of the 2020-21 season? Yes, it's true. Williams III leads all of his teammates in the following per-100-possessions categories: Offensive Rating (148) Defensive Rating (107) Blocks (4.3) Steals (5.7) Field Goal percentage (88.9%) Win Shares per 48 minutes (.246) Player Efficiency Rating (31.0) Rob really came through in the Celtics recent loss to the Indiana Pacers. He was energetic, focused and composed on the floor. We may be starting to see his emergence as a solid piece of the rotation. Brad Stevens is letting the kids play. With 22 minutes of floor time, this is Rob Williams best game as a Celtic. Robert Williams III Highlights vs Indiana Pacers (12 pts, 4 reb, 4 stl, ... via @YouTube — Tom Lane (@CelticsSentinel) December 28, 2020 Granted, the sample is small. Williams has

Brad Stevens giving youngsters minutes - development or trade-showcasing?

Rob Williams & Payton Pritchard may be emerging Rob Williams per-36-minutes stats remain impressive Brad Stevens has been displaying some un-Brad-like behavior in this season's first three games. Four of his young guys have averaged 15-or-more minutes this far. The question is, does this significant floor time indicate Stevens is devoted to developing his fledgling troops, or are they being showcased for an impending trade. Celtics fans need to think this way with Danny Ainge at the helm. Rookie Payton Pritchard leads the foursome in minutes at 20.3 MPG, followed by Grant Williams at 18.7 MPG - Robert Williams at 17.0 MPG and Semi Ojeleye with 15.3 MPG. To answer my own question, I believe the Celtics boss is covering the middle road - having Brad play and develop all four youngsters, while showing potential trade partners what these guys can do. The small 3-game sample shows Pritchard and Williams III as the players that stand out, either as trade bait or potential, solid

Payton Pritchard and Rob Williams shine in Celtics 108-107 loss to Pacers

  Brad Stevens is playing the kids The Celtics lost a close one last night to the Indiana Pacers, the final score at 108-107. One bright spot was the play of rookie Payton Pritchard and third-year man, Rob Williams. It is obvious that coach Brad Stevens is intent on developing Pritchard into a player that can offer significant production - even right away. And that's what the rookie did last night, never missing a shot. He scored 13 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and 3-of-3 from behind the arc. He added two assists, two steals and a team-high plus/minus of +9. He plays like he has been in the NBA for a few years. Payton Pritchard is playing with a lot of poise. Great way to close out a quarter — Efrain Ramos (@efraincarmelo) December 28, 2020 Rob Williams came away after playing the best game of his career. He totaled 12 points, four boards, one assist, four steals and two blocks while hitting on 6-of-7 from the field. He was active and focused

Hayward & Rozier lead Hornets over Nets. Why can't Celtics get (and keep) players like that?

Is Rozier returning to Boston? Could happen . Yes, it happened last night! The Charlotte Hornets defeated the Brooklyn Nets, 106-104 with former Celtics, Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier, leading the way with a combined  47 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. The question really has to be asked. Why can't the Celtics acquire and retain star players? Granted, Terry was traded to Charlotte in order to bring in Kemba Walker. Gordon simply walked away in free agency. But we may also add the Nets Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant into this conversation. To many Boston fans, Kyrie's departure in free agency was a blessing, but Durant choosing the Warriors over the Celtics in 2016 was a blow to the Beantown faithful. And Al Horford leaving town took Boston locals by surprise.  Boston's often-crummy weather can't be totally to blame. We can understand when players might head to warmer climes, such as Los Angeles or Miami - but Horford to Philadelphia? Charlotte is somewhat warmer th

Where does the Celtics 3rd-option scorer come from?

Is it from the roster, trade or free agency? With Kemba Walker still nursing an ankle issue and Gordon Hayward gone to Charlotte, it has become very obvious that there is no reliable, third-option point producer on the current Celtics roster. Those two players put up a combined average of 39 points/game last season, in addition to nine assists. The Jay Team has put 110 points on the board over the 2-game span, but things fall off rapidly after that. That third point-producer has to emerge from the current roster or be acquired via trade or free agency. Volume scoring won't be coming from the center spot. Daniel Theis, Tristan Thompson and Rob Williams don't have that potential in their arsenal. Neither do Semi Ojeleye or Grant Williams. Marcus Smart has been handling point guard duties and disrupting opponents' offensive attacks, so he should not be relied on to be a volume scorer. Of the two rookies, Brad Stevens seems to have more faith in Payton Pritchard than Aaron Nes

Celtics are missing 39 points and nine assists from Walker and Hayward

It's only been two regular-season games, but it is obvious the Boston Celtics are struggling to replace the combined 39 points and nine assists produced by Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward last season. Kemba's knee injury and Gordon's departure are taking a toll. Granted, the sample ( two games) is mighty small, but Boston ranks 23rd in the League in points per game (108.5 PPG) and 26th in field goal percentage (42.7%). Last year's version of The Green had five players scoring in double-digits. This season, there are only three in that category with newly-acquired, Tristan Thompson, barely making the cut at 10.0 points/game. The Jay Team has supplied a combined 55.0 PPG thus far. On the assist front, last year saw three players (Smart, Walker and Hayward) with 4-or-more dimes per contest. This season shows only one, Marcus Smart, filling in at Kemba's role as distributor with 6.5 assists per game. The dimes are woefully short in supply after that. Let's face it.

What to think after two games?

  There are really only two types of Celtics fans at the moment Fan A: "We played the two best teams in the Eastern Conference, and split! I'll take that any day - Tatum and Brown have looked solid, some of the bench pieces look better than expected, and once Kemba gets back, we'll be all set!" Fan B: "We're one lucky bankshot away from being 0-2. Yes, they played well for 3 quarters against the Bucks - but fell apart in the 4th, per usual. And there's no way we can hope to keep up with that Nets team. Tatum isolations can maybe get us the 5 seed in the East." Like much of the last 3 years, this season's Celtics are likely to be an enigma. One quarter they look destined for the Finals, and the next they look like they'll be playing to a first round exit. Across the board, there's a "but" for every major contributor Jayson Tatum was lights out vs Milwaukee... but when will he get over his isolation enamoration? Jaylen Brown has f

Jaylen Brown has morphed into "can't trade" status for Celtics

The latest James Harden-to-Boston rumors have the 8-time All-Star and MVP (2018) putting the Celtics on his wish list .  The conventional wisdom is that any trade package for Harden is constituted in two forms: promising young players or a star player plus picks. For the Celtics, that could mean a package of Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart or flipping Kemba Walker (who is still nursing a balky knee post-stem cell injection) and trade ballast for the eight-time All-Star. After Brown's potent performance in the Celtics season-opener versus the Milwaukee Bucks, he appears to be ready for All-NBA consideration . His present contact where he will earn $28.4 million in the final season (2022-23) of his deal, may very well prove to be a bargain. Any talk about sending any of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown or Marcus Smart is just that - talk. I can't envision any members of this trio going elsewhere, even for James Harden. That leaves the only viable option sending Kemba Walker to Houston fo

Will Jaylen Brown earn his first All NBA selection this season?

  Making All-NBA may come down to Brown at SG or SF Here’s the short answer: It depends on what position he plays.  If Jaylen Brown is considered a forward then it’s unlikely (but not impossible) that Brown could be awarded all-NBA status at year end. The forward position is absolutely stacked. Jaylen would be competing not only against Jayson Tatum who was third team all NBA last season but against Giannis, Lebron James, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler and others for one of 6 spots.  If Jaylen is considered a guard (which is the position he played last night on his way to 33 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists) then his competition is not nearly as formidable  Steph Curry will get one of the six spots on reputation alone. Doncic will get one (and could also win his first of many MVP’s), and so will Bradley Beal who in my opinion is playing the shooting guard position as well as anybody has since Kobe. Let’s not forget a guy named Damian Lillard.  After that it’s

Ten takeaways from Celtics 122-121 nail-biter over Bucks

  Jaylen Brown was the star of the game It wasn't just Jaylen's team-high 33 points or his five rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block. It was the way he produced all of that. He shot 54% from the field, 38% on 3-pointers and a perfect (yes, perfect) 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. He scored in every way possible. Brown kept in team in contention when the offense otherwise faltered, and he got his points in the flow of the game. Jayson Tatum is one cold character Despite forcing his offense on many occasions during the game, Jayson still manged 30 points, hitting 43% on field goals and 46% on treys. And with less than one second remaining in the game and his team trailing, Tatum launched the game winning 3-pointer over Giannis Antetokounmpo. BANG! Giannis had a chance to tie the score but missed 1-of-2 free throws.  Tatum needs to become a better facilitator Jayson picked up a mere two assists in the closely-contested game and never went to the foul line. That won'

A Case for the Small Ball Celtics

  "Small ball" has been around for awhile, popularized by none other than former Celtic Don Nelson. Traditionally, this style of play has been associated with a plethora of threes, which is not a  strength  of this Celtics squad. Looking at the numbers, however, it seems that playing small ball could be a source of life for an offense that sputtered in it's two preseason games. For the fore-knee-able future (looking at you, Kemba), Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum are going to be the offensive focal points for your 20-21 C's. Nominally, Smart will play the 1 or 2, Brown the 2 or 3, and Tatum the 3 or 4. Across the board, all 3 of these players have a healthier offensive contribution when moved up one digit position-wise - Smart at the 2, Brown at the 3, and Tatum at the 4. First, let's look at Smart  Marcus Smart Position Splits ASTD % = Percentage of makes that were assisted upon % Freq at Rim = Percentage of shots taken at rim % Freq from 3 = Percent

Gordon Hayward available for tonight's game. What am I missing?

As skilled as he is, Gordon Hayward is a walking disaster. He picks up injuries quickly and often. First, a severe ankle injury only five minutes into his inaugural season (2017-18) with the Boston Celtics. Then in November, 2019, he fractured his left hand, and during the first-round of the 2020 playoffs, he suffered a grade 3 right ankle sprain. Gordon Hayward Plans to Play for Hornets vs. Cavaliers After Finger Injury Chris Carlson/Associated PressCharlotte ... — Morning News 24/7 (@morning_news24h) December 22, 2020 Now with the Charlotte Hornets, Gordon came up with an avulsion fracture of the fifth metacarpal on his right hand one week ago in exhibition play. And he's ready for regular-season action against the Cavaliers tonight? Really? Avulsion: The action of pulling or tearing away. An avulsion fracture means a piece of bone is pulled away from the main portion of bone by a tendon or ligament. Take a look at the above p

Celtics played live-or-die-by-the-3-pointer in Exhibition - that needs to end

The 3-point shot's introduction into the NBA is a classic case of too much of anything being a bad thing. Used in moderation, it adds entertainment value and helps keep teams in contention in the closing minutes of tight games. The Boston Celtics supplied a glut of treys in their two Exhibition games - lost both contests - and bored and disappointed  the Hell out of most Celtics fans. The Green hoisted 39 3-pointers in the loss to Philadelphia, only hitting on 11 of them - for a 28.2% accuracy rate. It got worse in the defeat at the hands of the much-maligned Kyrie Irving and his Brooklyn Nets. In that game, the Celtics "threw up" 45 (yes, 45) attempts and made only eight of them, probably causing some watchers to contemplate "throwing up" themselves. A 17.8% accuracy rate for shots beyond the arc? Pitiful! Who were the main offenders? That included just about everyone except Jeff Teague who was a perfect 5-of-5 over the 2-games. Jayson Tatum hit only a combined

Harden-to-Celtics scuttlebutt is ludicrous - or maybe not

It had to happen. James Harden is unhappy in Houston, and Celtics boss, Danny Ainge is always on the lookout for dissatisfaction within rival teams to possibly work a deal. Houston ESPN radio host, @johngranato , provides an interesting James Harden trade rumor. (via @johngranato ) — Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) December 20, 2020 On first glance, Boston acquiring Harden just seems like a bad idea. And it well could be. The former MVP and 8-time All-Star is a ball-dominant scoring machine who averaged 34.3 pointers per game last season. Pairing him with another volume scorer, Kemba Walker, in the backcourt doesn't help the Celtics defense whatsoever, and it would significantly lessen any chances of Brad Stevens' wish for more team play coming to fruition. But here's the argument for putting The Beard in Green. What if Kemba Walker's knee issues severely limit his effectiveness this season - a distinct possibility. It was vividly apparent that

Kyrie Irving is back in town. He needs to start making sense!

Kyrie Irving is back talking to the media after being handed a $25,000 fine for not doing so.  But he's still not making a lot of sense. As I wrote earlier, Kyrie only plays with the media when it suits him, and apparently avoiding further penalties suits him just fine. Here is some of his latest gibberish, which as usual, makes little sense ( per FoxNews' Paulina Dedaj ): Irving’s message was the same on Monday, but he explained his hesitation to talk with reporters. "It's really just about how I felt about the mistreatment of certain artists when we get to a certain platform of when we make decisions within our lives to have full control and ownership ... We want to perform in a secure and protected space," he said. There is no such thing as a "secure and protected space" - certainly not for "certain artists" that love to be in the spotlight, but only when it works for them. For movie stars, rock stars - and NBA superstars - that light is on

Is River Boat Gambler, Danny Ainge, "content" with his present roster?

My readers will notice that I did not employ the term "happy" (with the present roster), nor did I go crazy and suggest the Celtics boss is "thrilled" with the crew he has right now. And I am sure that upon writing this piece, we will get bombarded with noise of a major deal he has in mind. But for now, I do believe Danny is (somewhat) content with what he has at hand. Do not be fooled by the smile on Ainge's face in the above photo. He is being stalked by my daughter, Lisa Lane McCarty, outside the old Boston Garden back in the mid-80's. He just wants to go home or out to eat. Danny wants to win. Period! Can he do it with his present roster? Of course he can, but it is far from a sure thing. Things are library-quiet in the Celtics environs concerning any impending deals, and it just may be that Ainge is going with what he has - and will look more at developing his young guys. Tristan Thompson's arrival in Beantown brings the much-needed toughness that w

Is Gordon Hayward simply unlucky - or is he fragile?

There are two major questions related to Gordon Hayward's latest injury, diagnosed as an avulsion fracture of the fifth metacarpal in his right hand. Why is he listed day-to-day by the Charlotte Hornets? And is Gordon simply unlucky, or is he truly fragile? The Hornets will be very careful bringing Hayward back from his finger injury. They want to make sure that their $30 million dollar man is healthy for the playoffs. — Celtics ☘️Canada๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ ๐Ÿ€ (@CelticsCanada) December 16, 2020 As a member of the Boston Celtics, Gordon suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain and was projected to be back in action in four weeks , even though all information I researched gave 8-10 weeks as the proper recovery time. He WAS back on the court in roughly four weeks and appeared to be far-less than 100%.  Here we go again. Hayward's recent hand injury appears to require 6-8 weeks recovery time . So why is he listed as day-to-day? Some analysts believe Gordon was rushed back into action in Boston far too soon

Preseason overreaction to the Celtics offense

  The good news? The Celtics are back. After a long 2 and a half months with the bitter taste of an Eastern Conference Finals loss, we finally were able to watch some Celtics basketball last night. I'll never complain about that The bad news? It's just the preseason. After the most unprecedented season in NBA history, the 20-21 season promises to be strange as well. Some teams haven't played a competitive game in over 9 months, while the Lakers and Heat finished play about 2 months ago. Also, a shortened training camp for everyone never helps, especially rookies trying to find their footing in the league. The beginning of this season is going to be a roller coaster for every team, not just the Celtics. Regardless, let's take a look at some numbers from the C's game against Philly last night. Yes, this is an incredibly small sample size, and yes, it's still the preseason, so everything here should be taken with a pound of salt, but let's work with what we hav

There may be more to Aaron Nesmith's game than sniper-level shooting

Aaron Nesmith may have been somewhat-overshadowed by fellow-rookie, Payton Pritchard in the Celtics 108-99 loss to the 76'ers, but he made fine use of his 19 minutes of floor time. He scored eight points on 3-of-8 from the field and 1-of-5 from 3-point land. But it may have been his five rebounds and come-from-behind block that got our attention. Aaron Nesmith showing off his defensive skills. #Celtics @NBCSCeltics — Celtics Updates (@allhailtacko) December 16, 2020 Nesmith may be projected to be the constant-motion shooter the Celtics have lacked, but there may be more to his game than was originally thought. He didn't exactly shoot the lights out, but for his very-first game in the Big League, he was solid. Aaron Nesmith’s official nickname: Aaron Nesquik — ๐™๐™ž๐™ก๐™š๐™ฎ ๐ŸŽ„☘️ (@CullerSports) December 9, 2020 Oh, and by the way, Aaron's motion offense and sniper-like shooting remain his major assets for Boston. See Exhib

Ten takeaways from Celtics 108-99 loss to Philadelphia 76'ers

The Boston Celtics lost to Philadelphia last night, 108-99, but the defeat hardly matters. Brad Dtevens experimented big-time with his lineups, and here are my 10 takeaways from the contest: Payton Pritchard looked like he has been in the League for 3-or-4 years It wasn't just the rookie's stats that stood out (16 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block) in only 22 minutes. He played like a veteran out there. At one point when he was at the free throw line, I saw that "nothing-is-going-to-stop-me" look that Dave Cowens aften displayed. This kid is a keeper. Brad Stevens is experimenting big-time in Exhibition Season We saw a lot of small-ball in last night/s game versus Philadelphia. At one juncture, Brad put out a quintet of Tremont Waters (5'10"), Carsen Edwards (5'11"), Pritchard (6'1"), Aaron Nesmith (6'6") and Grant Williams (6'6").   Jeff Teague proved himself to be a wise addition Teague scored a team-high 18 points

76'ers Doc Rivers plotting 4-man, position-less, motion offense - Embiid glued to 5-spot

Once former Celtics coach, Doc Rivers , parted ways with the Los Angeles Clippers, it didn't take long for the Philadelphia 76'ers to latch onto him. His team takes the court tonight at 7:30 ET for an exhibition contest versus the Boston Celtics. Doc indicates it is all about conditioning, timing and pace - along with a large dose of 4-man, position-less basketball. We can assume that Philly center, Joel Embiid will reamain glued to the 5-spot ( per Philadelphia Enquirer's Keith Pompey ): They will run more pick-and-rolls under Rivers compared to the past seven seasons with Brett Brown. They’ll also run a motion offense with every position interchangeable besides the five spot. Right now, the offense is a day-to-day process. “Obviously, Shake [Milton] and Furkan [Korkmaz] being together,” he said, “I definitely want to see Tyrese [Maxey] with that group because of his ball-handling ability and his ability to shoot. Mike Scott has had a phenomenal training camp, not a