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Showing posts from April, 2021

Is a tri-captain approach worth trying for Boston Celtics

 The Los Angeles Clippers did it with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan . And the Orlando Magic did it with Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon . I know what you're thinking - none of those players are with their former teams anymore. But Danny Ainge appointing Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to a tri-captaincy could be a make-or-break strategy to get this under-achieving group to respond. I have written repeatedly on the need for a Celtics captain to finally come forward and act in that capacity. An on-court leader has been sorely needed for some time, but never seems to get done. So it may be time to put the trio out there with somewhat-shared leadership duties . "Somewhat-shared"? Why not? Marcus was named co-captain of Team USA in 2019, along with Kemba Walker , mainly for Smart's defensive ability and drive. That would also be his position in Boston's tri-captaincy. Marcus is the oldest (27) of the three players, and al

In defense of Marcus Smart

 Let me make it clear first of all that I am totally against making a threat of any kind that even hints at harming, or certainly killing, another human being. Marcus Smart was wrong in doing so in the Celtics loss to the tanking Oklahoma City Thunder , and he deserved the one-game suspension. But to be honest, part of me loved that it occurred. . This type of thing can happen when a player gets to a point "beyond frustration" and is having a bad game. Marcus and his teammates have been under-performing generally - were in the process of losing to a pathetic-and-tanking Thunder team - and Smart was having a bad game . And he let loose verbally at the closest target - an NBA official. Wilt Chamberlain did a similar act versus referee, Earl Strom when Wilt was having his usual tortuous time at the free throw line (per Chicago Tribune's Sam Smith): ''He was in one of those 1-for-13s,'' recalls referee Earl Strom. ''Nothing was getting close. S

Payton Pritchard doesn't blink - literally and figuratively

I mean it! Have you watched his closeups? Payton Pritchard doesn't blink . It's like if he blinks, he will miss something on the court. This rookie is a bundle of mental and physical intensity . He has a bit of that Dave Cowens fire in him. But also in a figurative sense, he never seems to blink (meaning back away) from the right play. In the Celtics 109-104 loss to the Brooklyn Nets last night, Payton poured in 22 points on 8-of-12 from the field and 6-of-7 on 3-pointers . His range on the long ball seems limitless . he played a large role in Boston's comeback attempt in the fourth quarter. Payton Pritchard exploded for 22 points off bench that included 6-7 from 3-Pt country against the Nets 🔥 — Celtics Nation (@CelticsNationCP) April 24, 2021 Pritchard also recorded three rebounds and two assists and had ZERO turnovers , as the rest of the team racked up a total of 19 mishaps leading to 32 points for Brooklyn . The announcers for the game al

If Popovich is the "Godfather of Load Management", Brad Stevens is the Godson

San Antonio head coach, Gregg Popovich , has been at the helm of the Spurs for a quarter-century , and his troops almost always seem to be in the fight for another Title. Pop has five Championships and three Coach of the Year awards to his credit. Pop in Boston, summarily rejecting the crown as "The Godfather of Load Management:" — Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) January 8, 2020 So Popovich wants no credit , and conversely, no blame , for becoming the "Godfather of Load Management" . I give him the credit. He sat his stars, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli , to prolong their careers. And it appears the Celtics Brad Stevens is following suit. Some NBA fans feel they deserve to see their stars in action, either in person or on television. I see that as another symptom of "instant gratification". They want to see Lebron James and Kevin Durant out on the court, even if they have a nagging injury or their careers may be cu

How important were Posey, Brown, House and Cassell in 2008?

Celtics fans often discuss the importance of Danny Ainge picking up four subs from the scrap heap for the Championship 2007-08 season. There is always much discussion on the importance of James Posey, P. J. Brown, Eddie House and Sam Cassell in that Title season. Well, Danny is starting to repeat that strategy, starting with the recent acquisition of Evan Fournier and Jabari Parker. "Not of the same caliber" current Boston fans may say, but lets take a look. Posey was the main gain for the Celtics, playing the most minutes in the post-season (22.0 MPG) - scoring the most points (6.7 PPG) - and taking down the most rebounds (3.6 RPG) . As important as James was that season, his numbers are not that exciting, at least on the surface. Brown, Cassell and House combined for only 9.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 2.6 APG in the playoffs. Mind you, we are only talking statistics here.  It can be stated that impressive stats were not required with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen hi

The standout stat from Jabari Parker's Celtics debut

Newly-acquired Jabari Parker produced more in his debut with the Boston Celtics than most fans expected. His 11 points in only 16 minutes of action was a bit of a surprise, but Parker's four rebounds really stood out because they were all off the offensive boards . Nice debut for Jabari Parker - 11 points on a combo of put-backs, mid-range jumper & "sweet turnaround move" close to the hoop - 4 rebounds ALL Offensive. Jabari Parker Celtics Debut Highlights vs Golden State Warriors (11 pts,... via @YouTube — Tom Lane (@CelticsSentinel) April 19, 2021 At least pre-All-Star break, the Celtics seemed to work hard on almost every attempted shot. Easy baskets seldom happened. Particularly with Enes Kanter gone, put-backs via offensive boards were rare. But Saturday night versus the Warriors, Jabari scored off all of his four offensive board s. Three of his hoops came on put-backs following the offensive boards, and he sank a fourth shot on a mi

Brad Stevens love of wings vivid in signing of Jabari Parker

Celtics coach, Brad Stevens , seems to have the "you-can't-have-too-many-wings" mindset . The Celtics have waived recently-acquired Moritz Wagner , and plan to sign the 6'8", 245-pound Parker to a two-year deal. Jabari Parker -- the former No. 2 overall pick -- has agreed to a two-year deal with the Celtics, sources said. Parker, a career 14.8 points per game scorer, gives Boston some depth in frontcourt. — Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 16, 2021 The recently-turned 26 year-old was taken with the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, and two torn ACL's in the same knee and a bunch of trades have certainly had a negative effect on his career. One reaction to the acquisition follows: This seems like a good acquisition, Tom. This is a young guy who can still play. He can fill the bucket, and he has something to prove. A second unit with Parker and Fournier on the court is a significant improvement ove

DeMarcus Cousins or Isaiah Thomas to Celtics on a 10-day contract?

Hardwood Houdini has broached the idea of the Boston Celtics adding either DeMarcus Cousins or Isaiah Thomas to the roster via a 10-day contract. This is a move that I could buy into. These two potential pick-ups are far apart in many ways. About the only things they have in common is that they are both seasoned veterans and can score the ball from anywhere. The addition of the 6'10" Boogie to the Celtics mix would put him with Rob Williams and Tristan Thompson at the center spot. On the surface, the points, rebounds and assists that he could add make it seem like a great idea, but his on-court antics may make Danny Ainge turn away from that move. The 5'9" (not really) Isaiah would bring his points, assists and ball movement back to the parquet, and it would make a Hell of a story - if it worked. IT has always used his lack of height to his advantage on offense, but his size would work against him with Brad Stevens heavily favoring larger wings that can effective

Spread the word. Marcus Smart is back.

Jayson Tatum was the star in the Celtics narrow 116-115 win over Portland , but it was reassuring to see Marcus Smart back to himself. This double-hustle play in the second quarter reassured Boston fans that The Wolverine had not been tamed . It was a diving (what else!)_near-steal close to the Celtics basket, followed by a run-the-entire floor for a major theft that really got our attention. . @JetBlue Play of the Game: Marcus Smart’s energy is unmatched ⚡️ — Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 14, 2021 Beyond his usual in-your-shirt defense and hustle , Marcus stat line was back where it should be. He was under control and never tried to put up major points.  36 minutes - 13 points - 4 rebounds - 7 assists - 2 steals - one block - 4-of-9 FG - 3-of-5 on 3's  Smart's main value to his team may be the disruption he causes opposing players. I have argued repeatedly in the past that Boston lacks toughness, and over a short span in the schedule, It was ob

Credit Romeo Langford with momentum-shift in Celtics 105-87 win over Denver

Celtics sophomore, Romeo Langford only scored five points and took down five rebounds in the Celtics come-from-behind win over the Denver Nuggets, but he gets most of the credit for turning around what appeared to be a lost cause for Boston. It all started at the 1:44 mark of the third quarter with the Celtics trailing, 79-65 . The 6'4" Langford was covering Denver's 6'8" JaMychal Green , and Romeo's intense defense forced a travel call on Green . Things went Boston's way after that. Romeo started the fourth quarter, and his play had already allowed Boston to close the gap to five points with a 79-74 score. It was Langford once again making the right play on a drive to the hoop, taking a hard foul in the process. His two foul shots gave the Celtics the lead at 80-79 . Langford's plus/minus for the contest was a +18 , second only to Grant Williams' +23 . Boston's 40-8 run started with Romeo's tough defense on Green. Admittedly, the Nugge

Jay Team in a remake of McHale-Bird scoring challenge

Jaylen Brown took scoring honors versus the Knicks on April 7, 2021 with 32 points . Last night - two days later - his Jay Team partner, Jayson Tatum , countered by pouring in a team-high 53 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Both contests were much-needed wins for the Celtics. Boston took the game last night by a score of 145-136 in overtime. Flashback to March 3, 1985. Kevin McHale scored a Celtics then-record 56 points in a game against the Detroit Pistons. That record didn't last long . None days later, Larry Bird put on one of the most awesome offensive displays ever witnessed, breaking McHale's record by lighting up the Atlanta Hawks for 60 points . Larry graciously acknowledged his teammates : “Sixty points is awful tough to get and you can’t do it without the help of your teammates”, Bird said in a post-game interview. Bird's 60 points topped McHale's 56 only 9 days later. Tatum's 53 points beats Brown's 32 points 2 days later. Look for my ar

Negative aspects of the Hayward/Irving signings linger for Celtics

The Boston Celtics signing of Al Horford as a free agent in 2016 was a positive more for The Green. He came to the young team as a quiet mentor through which much of the offense and defense was directed. The acquisition of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward the following season, however, proved to be a near-disaster . Injuries and friction followed, and soon all three All-Stars were off to pastures allegedly greener than those in Beantown. Well, how did all that work out? The Celtics are struggling with a .500 record - Horford is sitting out the rest of the season with the Thunder - and Hayward is out once again for an extended period of time with an injury. Kyrie Irving? Doing just fine, thank you - currently leading his Brooklyn Nets to the top ranking in the East with a 36-16 record. The turmoil that surrounded the petulant point guard in Boston appears to be non-existent in Brooklyn ( per USA Today's Mike D. Sykes II )  Wic Grousbeck:  "... And that change (Kyrie irvin

Five Celtics answered "role call" in 101-99 win over Knicks

One of the numerous criticisms aimed at the Celtics this season is not knowing, and not playing, their individual roles within a team concept . Not so last night when The Green took out the New York Knicks, 101-99. Jaylen Brown Primarily, Jaylen is a score r, and he did that - pouring in a team-high 32 point s, including five 3-pointers. He also fulfilled his role on defense with 10 rebounds, two steals and one block. Jayson Tatum Jayson remains the key cog in the Celtics wheel as he was on the floor for a team-high 42 minutes and finishing the game with a balanced line of 25 points, 10 boards, five assists and one steal.  Marcus Smart Marcus does his best work when leaves the scoring to those teammates better-equipped to do so and sticks to to defense, rebounding and facilitation . He did all of that in the victory, taking assist honors with nine dimes (and only two turnovers), while also grabbing four rebounds, one steal and one block. Tristan Thompson Tristan was signed by Bost

Shaquille O'Neal agrees with me. Celtics on-court leader sorely needed.

How long is Danny Ainge going to continue without an on-court leader? I have written repeatedly on this subject, and now I have some backup. On this morning's NBA TV broadcast, Shaquille O'Neal was asked what is wrong with the Boston Celtics. His response follows: "This game we play - the simpler you make it, the easier it becomes. They (Celtics) have to identify whose team it is. They have to identify who the second punch is." When asked who that leader may be, Shaq hesitated briefly and then mentioned Jayson Tatum as that guy. Candace Parke r blamed the COVID pandemic as the main cause of Boston's woes, while Dwayne Wade stated the team has no "identity" .  O'Neal's comment about "simplicity" was a bit obscure, but he may have been talking about Brad Stevens perhaps overly-complex defensive and offensive schemes . If that was his point, I agree. Overthinking can lead to confusion . But Shaq's statement on the need for an o

Danny Ainge was correct: “Our roster obviously is not good."

. That was Danny Ainge's statement back when the Celtics stood with a 14-14 record - "Our roster is obviously not very good" .After last night's 106-96 trouncing of Boston by the Philadelphia 76'ers, I finally have to agree with the Celtics boss. If my readers have a problem with the term, trouncing , let me bring up the 20 turnovers by The Green, in addition to the fact they seemed to struggle even when they held a slight lead in the contest. Mind you, we are talking "roster-as-constituted" and "team" here - not the individual players. Hell, there are three present and past All-Stars in the mix.  As one who rarely blames losses on the referees , it has become obvious that they simply don't know yet how to call the plays when the 76'ers big man, Joel Embiid, takes it to the hoop. He is so big and strong, it often appears that his defender is exerting more force than Joel - when exactly the opposite is true.  Brad Stevens putting Luk

#27 pick, Rob Williams vs. Deandre Ayton (#1) and Marvin Bagley (#2)

The Celtics Rob Williams was taken 26 picks (#27) after the Suns chose Deandre Ayton first-overall in the 2018 NBA draft. Here's a quick look at how they compare-stat-wise this season - on a per-36-minutes basis. Williams III 16.0 PPG - 13.3 RPG - 3.4 APG - 1.8 SPG - 3.6 BPG - .729 FG Ayton 17.4 PPG - 12.7 RPG - 1.7 APG - 0.5 SPG - 1.5 BPG - .611 FG The points and rebounds are very close, but Robert gets the nod on assists, steals, blocks and field goal percentage. While we're at it, the second-overall pick in the same draft was center, Marvin Bagley .  Bagley 19.4 PPG - 10.4 RPG - 1.3 APG - 0.7 SPG - 0.7 BPG - .499 FG Rob takes honors versus Bagley in all of these statistics except points per game. This is not to say that Celtics boss, Danny Ainge , did a masterful job "stealing" Williams at the tail end of the draft. Rob was projected to get taken much sooner, and he merely to fell to Boston at number-27. But the 3rd-year center is quickly emerging and may prove t

Paul Pierce's current saga brings us back to his stabbing 21 years ago

With the news that ESPN and Celtics legend, Paul Pierce, have parted ways, I am reluctantly transported back to perhaps the darkest time in Paul's life and career. BREAKING: ESPN are parting ways with Paul Pierce, per @sportsrapport — NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) April 5, 2021 Pierce went live on Friday night in apparent partying mode, surrounded by scantily-clad women. As a long-time fan of The Truth, the scene was tough to watch - but it brought me back to a questionable time in Paul's career. Paul Pierce wildin on IG Live — Ahmed🇸🇴/Invincible the best show out (@big_business_) April 3, 2021 It was the night of September 25, 2000 when Pierce was attacked and stabbed at a Boston night club . He received eight stab wounds and came close to losing his life.  At the time, there was little news available on the specifics concerning what led up to the attack, and that continued for years following the incident. There had been

Evan Fournier needs to start and average at least 28 minutes per game

After shooting a miserable  0-of-10 from the field  in his debut game with the Boston Celtics,  Evan Fournier  has averaged 30.2 MPG, 14.5 PPG and 2.5 RPG in his last two contests. He hit on 58% on field goals and 54% on treys in those two contests. Those significant minutes need to continue, and it would be to the team's advantage to have him in the lineup with Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Rob Williams - simply to see how he fits and what he can accomplish. Brad Stevens needs to find out if the French import can help ease the Celtics out of the doldrums in which they are now entrenched. Evan has size (6'7") and is an accomplished shooter. Being partnered with Marcus in the back court is important, with Smart leading the team in assists - and the added benefit that Marcus can get back to ferocious defense and facilitation duties, with fewer long-range bombs. Some may say the downside is putting Kemba Walke r in the second unit, but as a shoot-first guard

Brad Stevens shouldn't try to turn Rob Williams into a 3-point marksman

Red Auerbach was right. He said you can't turn a bad shooter into a good one. And he never tried to do that. Red never forced long-range shooting into the repertoires of players like Bill Russell and Don Chaney . Don't tell me about their field goal percentages . They rarely shot anything past 10 feet. Merely a reminder to Brad Stevens NOT to try turning Rob Williams into a 3-point marksman. "Off the Expressway, over the river, off the billboard, through the window, nothing but net". MJ and Larry Bird Play HORSE | McDonald Commercial | 1993 via @YouTube — Tom Lane (@CelticsSentinel) April 3, 2021 The same can be said for Tony Allen and Kendrick Perkins . And frankly, for present Celtic, Marcus Smart . Marcus is hitting 40.1% from the field and 32.7% on 3-pointers this season, and that is sufficient for a guy that does so many other things for Boston - so long as his long-range attempts are kept under control. Jacking up too many shots from lo

Plugging holes in Celtics ship hasn't worked. Time to repair it at drydock.

Bringing in Al Horford, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward into the Celtics fold was supposed to possibly deliver Banner #18, and those moves may have worked - had all three additions not defected to pastures "greener" than those in Boston. Since then Danny Ainge has been plugging the holes in his ship with the likes of Aron Baynes, Enes Kanter, Kemba Walker and Tristan Thompson . That hasn't worked either. Ainge has avoided the Big Move thus far, possibly due to limited spending by ownership, or simply because Danny has become overly cautious. His team sits in 8th place in the East, three slots away from missing the playoffs entirely.  Rob Williams has taken "the jump" he predicted for himself prior to the season, and the recent acquisition of 6'7" shooter, Evan Fournie r may turn out to be a positive move. But more is needed to get the Celtics back into serious Title contention. It is possible that Ainge has a bad mix of players on his hands where th

Evan Fournier may be the "new face" and "shooter with size" Celtics needed

Celtics boss, Danny Ainge , had hinted about what could happen around the trade deadline. He told us that the team needed "shooting with size" and that fans may see "new faces if it comes to that" . Both wishes may have come true with the arrival of French import, 6'7" Evan Fournier . Might be the "shooter with size" Ainge was looking for. — Tom Lane (@CelticsSentinel) April 3, 2021 Last night, in Boston's decisive victory over the Houston Rockets, Fournier poured in 23 points in 30 minutes of action, hitting 8-of-13 from the field and 7-of-11 on 3-pointers . Such a win over the pitiful Rockets is nothing to cheer about, but this "new face" could become a fixture in Beantown if  he can repeat this type of performance with some level of regularity. Fournier came to the Celtics via Danny Ainge's TPE with little fanfare - and frankly, disappointment among some of the Celtics faithful hoping for a hero to resc

Celtics still mired in mediocrity, changes are coming

"Mediocrity" defines the current Celtics team. Definitions of the term come back as "not very good" or  "halfway up the mountain" . That fits. So what's the fix? Urgency Anyone watching the games has to notice that the "urgency" that Danny Ainge has stated is missing in the play of his troops is only turned on between periods of absolute lapses in intensity. This was evident in the 113-108 loss to the Dallas Mavericks last night. Boston was able to make it a close game late in the fourth quarter, but it was too little- too late.  Marcus Smart is either injured or has become complacent Marcus had his usual line in the loss, coming away with 17 points, five rebounds, seven assists and two steals. But his 5-of-12 accuracy from the field and 2-of-7 on treys did not help the Celtics cause. His fire seems to have dwindled . After being knocked to the floor at one point in the game, he was slow in regaining his feet, and - at least to me - it