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Archive for July, 2007

Celtics Going for Broke, KG Finally Coming?

Posted by r1zzo23 on July 30, 2007

kg-celtics.pngRumors are flying around the internet and ESPN that the Celtics have revived rumors from before the draft about obtaining Kevin Garnett.

Multiple sources told ESPN.com on Sunday night that former teammates Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge have revived discussions of a deal that would end Garnett’s 12-season association with Minnesota by sending him to Ainge’s Celtics, with the Wolves getting back two of the assets McHale coveted most last month: Al Jefferson and Theo Ratliff‘s expiring contract.

The deal depends on Garnett backing off his well-chronicled unwillingness to play in Boston. Yet sources indicated late Sunday that Garnett was warming to the idea, raising hopes on both sides that the deal will finally go through.

There are also rumors thrown out there that Rajon Rondo would be involved in this deal. I’m sure there are many Celtics’ fans out there that do not want to see Rondo involved, but I personally wouldn’t be against it if we could sign Brevin Knight. I’m not going to go into this deal much more until it is made official. I wasn’t the biggest fan of moving Jefferson for Garnett, but after trading for Ray Allen, this deal almost had to be made.

People say that a title is good for 10 years, so if this trio could bring us our 17th NBA championship, then I guess I should be happy.

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Acknowledging Greatness: Pierce is a Legend

Posted by r1zzo23 on July 23, 2007

pierce.jpgLooking at the roster, you see a bunch of kids with potential (most of which may never live up to their hype), a budding star in Al Jefferson and two over-the-hill All-Stars in Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. This article will focus on the latter of the two stars.

Paul Pierce, for those who don’t know, is a top-25 player in the league right now. For many of those Celtics fans that haven’t followed the team since the Larry Legend days, you have missed out on a Celtics legend. Paul Pierce is easily a top-5 Celtic of all time and has been the only piece of this franchise that has kept this team somewhat respectable over the last 10 years. Between multiple coaches who didn’t know what they were doing, GMs making terrible decisions as well as terrible luck through the lottery, as well as awful drafts, Paul Pierce has been the lone bright spot throughout the entire organization for the last decade.

Paul has been everything you could ask for in a franchise player. He was one of the best scorers in the entire league in the early 2000’s and is still a 26 a night guy. How good of a scorer was he? Many may not know, but he led the league in points scored in the 2001-2002 season with 2,144. He averaged 26.1 points a game that season, third behind only Allen Iverson (31.4) and Shaquille O’Neal (27.2). In the six seasons between 2000-2001 and 2005-2006, Paul Pierce was top-10 in both total points scored as well as points per game. More specifically, in the four seasons between 2000 and 2004, Pierce was never lower than fourth in total points scored. That says a lot about his durability, which has never been in question until last season’s debacle.

Scoring is more than jacking up shots (which Paul was good at, too). All great scorers know how to get to the line. In the same six seasons between 2000 and 2006, Pierce was one of the elite players at getting to the charity stripe. He was top-6 in each season of that time span in both free throws attempted and free throws made. He was #1 in both categories in the 2002-2003 season.

The league, as well as the fans, took notice to Pierce’s game by naming him to five consecutive All-Star games since 2001. That streak came to an end last season. His best All-Star game was his very first when he scored 19 points on 9 of 18 shooting and added 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. Pierce has never been a flashy player, so the All-Star game isn’t the best place for him to showcase his talents. But if you have followed the Celtics for the duration of Pierce’s career, you know he owns the fourth quarter.

Paul Pierce seems to shine more as the game is on the line. Maybe it’s because he never really had another great player on his team to share the fourth quarter duties. Or maybe it was because he was a great scorer doing what franchise players do best. Most noticeably was his fourth quarter scoring in the 2001-2002 season when he averaged 7.2 points per fourth quarter, second to only Allen Iverson at 7.7. I think it’s safe to assume that Iverson got his extra half point on more shots than Pierce. Want proof that Paul is “The Truth” of the fourth quarter? Check out the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals game #3 when he dropped 18 points on the Nets in the final 12 minutes to lead his Celtics to the greatest comeback in NBA playoff history.

Scoring is not the only way that Pierce contributes to his team. He has always been a good rebounder at the shooting guard position, averaging 6.5 boards a game for his career with a career-high 7.3 in the 2002-2003 season. Imagine getting 26 points and 7.3 rebounds from your shooting guard? On top of his nice rebounding numbers, he has averaged 4 assists a game for his career. As a young scorer, Pierce knew he can do it all his own. As he has grown a little older and a little wiser, he knows that all those trips to the free throw line takes its toll on the body, so he is beginning to share the rock a little more. I think you could easily see Pierce average 5 assists a game this season with the addition of Ray Allen as a drive-and-kick option as well as some easy drop down passes to Al Jefferson.

pierce-34.jpgWill Paul Pierce be enshrined in Springfield? I personally don’t think he will unless he wins an NBA title. What are his chances though? According to the Hall of Fame Probability formula from Basketball-Reference.com, Paul Pierce has a .773 probability of being amongst the all-time greats. It’s interesting to think that someone like Vince Carter, using the same formula, has a .925 probability. How about the player taken one spot ahead of Pierce in the absolutely stacked 1998 NBA Draft? Dirk Nowitzki, after leading his team to an NBA Finals appearance just two seasons ago and coming off an MVP season, has a .611 Hall of Fame probability. I don’t see how Carter could be far and away a better Hall of Fame option than Pierce or Nowitzki.

Whether or not Paul makes the Hall of Fame after his career is over is definitely a worthy debate. But if there is one thing I do know, in ten years I will be able to walk in to the TD Banknorth Garden and look up in the rafters to see the number 34 hanging with the rest of the Celtics’ legends. I know that for as long as I live, there will never be another Celtic to dawn the #34. I know that as much as I have thought about trading Pierce over the last six months, nothing would make me more happy than to see him win a title here in Boston. And if that doesn’t happen, I will always consider Pierce one of the best players in all of the game during his career.

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Can’t Spell “Power Forward” Without Powe

Posted by r1zzo23 on July 12, 2007

Al Jefferson is the Celtics’ franchise big man, but there may be another power forward on the roster that may need to gain some recognition soon. There are plenty of undersized big men on the Celtics and Ryan Gomes has seemed to be the only one to make a name for himself in the league. Glen Davis is still trying to find his niche in the summer league and needs to keep his weight under control. But there is one guy I really have my eyes on and that is Leon Powe.

leon-powe-big.jpgLeon Powe was the 49th pick out of California by the Denver Nuggets in the 2006 NBA Draft. When I heard that the Celtics had quickly acquired the pick and the rights to Powe, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t understand how a guy who averaged 20.5 points and 10.1 rebounds in a major conference could go so low in the draft. Nonetheless, I was ready for him to come and give us some decent minutes in the post with our other young big men.

Leon got very limited minutes last season, but when he did step on the court, he usually produced. Powe averaged 4.3 points and 3.5 rebounds last year in just 11 minutes per game. If you extrapolate his play for 40 minutes a game, his numbers would be 14.7 points and 11.9 rebounds. Now I know that he isn’t going to give the Celtics major minutes, I would have no problem with him getting 17-20 minutes a night. With that amount of minutes, he would be able to go hard at all times and really energize this ball club. He brings a toughness in the post (see: Summer League Game #1 vs. Greg Oden) and a hunger for offensive rebounds. He plays pretty good defense on the ball even while undersized at 6’8″, 240 pounds, so for him to guard some power forwards in the league wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Powe has been showing that he’s ready to contribute with his play in the summer league. Only three games deep, he is averaging  16.3 points and 8.7 rebounds while shooting 62% from the field and 65% from the line. Free throw shooting is a concern with his style of play that gets him to the line quite often. If he could get his FT% up to 70%, I could definitely see Leon as a 10 point, 6 rebound player for the Celtics this year if he would get 20 minutes a game. The great part is that he would never need a single play run for him on the offensive end. He thrives on the offensive glass and collects all the garbage points that you could ask for. Also, his offensive boards give the Celtics another possession, and with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, second chances will be very dangerous for the opponents.

I think Leon Powe should be playing the backup power forward position behind Al Jefferson. I also think that you could throw out a team like Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Ryan Gomes, Leon Powe and Al Jefferson and have an interesting team on the floor. I hope Doc Rivers sees the production that Leon Powe brings to this team and finds a way to get him on the court for some decent minutes this season.

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Celtics/Spurs: What am I Looking For?

Posted by r1zzo23 on July 9, 2007

As we gear up for the Celtics’ second summer league game in Vegas (4:00 PM EST on FSN New England), I’m thinking of who I want to focus on. Gerald Green is always a much-watch type of player, but we know he’s on the team and we know he’s going to have the green light to fire away whenever he wants, be it for his own confidence or to up his trade stock. I’ll tell you that I’m not going to be looking at Glen Davis much because I can’t stand watching him play and don’t think he adds much to this team. Leon Powe is quickly growing on me and becoming one of my favorite players on the team, but it’s too easy for me to assume he’s going to score 10+ points and grab 8+ boards because he has a motor that is always running. I know what I am getting from Powe. Here’s who I will be focusing on: Rajon Rondo, Brandon Wallace, Allan Ray, Gabe Pruitt.

Rajon Rondo, to say the least, was very unimpressive in the first game. He got to the rim at will, but refused to finish, instead deciding to try to thread the needle through two defenders to one of our big men. From what I’ve seen, that’s not even close to one of his best traits and needs to abandon that part of his game. I’d like him to drive and kick or just finish at the rim. Don’t get to the rim and bail the defense out by throwing an awful pass. Make them stop you. Also, I would like to see Rondo start knocking down some jumpshots. Even if he could get enough range for a Kenny Anderson-esque elbow jumper, that would be encouraging.

Brandon Wallace quickly became everyone’s favorite non-roster player on the Celtics. I’m not as high on him as everyone else is, but I’ll be sure to watch him much more closely this game. I’ll be looking at his on-ball defense as well as his help defense in the paint. Other skills such as ball handling and offensive awareness are two other skills I’ll be looking for in this experimental small forward. If he shows he can play some good defense by containing either Marcus Williams or James White, then maybe I’ll be convinced that he deserves a spot on the Celtics’ opening day roster.

Allan Ray, as I discussed in an earlier post, is playing for a job, especially after Danny Ainge had the deadline to give Ray his extension extended by one month. This means that Ainge needs to see if he can bring something more to the table rather than his spotty shooting. Allan Ray didn’t play too well in the first few games of summer league last year and I expect the same to happen this year. Personally, I’m not sure there’s anything that will get Ray on the roster this year, barring a miracle.

The player I want to get significantly more minutes than he did the first game is Gabe Pruitt. He showed that he could potentially be a good replacement for Delonte West. He has great range on his shot and seems to make mostly good decisions when he’s on the floor. I’ll be looking to see Pruitt’s passing as well as defense. These are two aspects of the game that could get Pruitt minutes almost instantly. If he shows he can run an offense and defend his man added to his scoring ability, he’ll be a huge steal at #32 in the draft.

Like I said before, the game is at 4:00 PM EST today and anyone wondering any of the same things I am should be turning in as well. For the key matchup of the day, it’s going to have to be the Battle of the Bulge: Glen Davis & Jackie Butler. I personally hope Butler eats “Big Baby” up, but then again, I guess I should be rooting for the Celtics, even if it is Davis. Hopefully the Celtics look as impressive as they did against the Blazers  and let’s all hope that Gerald Green gives us yet another highlight reel moment.

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Flavor of the Week: Brandon Wallace

Posted by r1zzo23 on July 7, 2007

After watching last night’s game, everyone is talking about one guy on the Celtics’ roster. No, it wasn’t Rajon Rondo. It wasn’t Gerald Green either. Leon Powe played great, but not much mention about him. It was undrafted Brandon Wallace who is receiving all the talk around the water coolers this morning. This 6’9″ “center” from South Carolina went undrafted, but shined with the Celtics last night. Here are his numbers from South Carolina:

brandon-wallace-stats.jpg

Wallace is a very long and athletic player with a mindset for defense and rebounding, two things the Celtics could definitely use. He played his entire collegiate career at the center position, but at only 6’9″ and barely over 200 pounds, everyone knew that wouldn’t bode well for his future in the NBA.

The Celtics decided to bring him in for the summer league and run him at the four spot, and he played OK. Then, Doc Rivers thought there was a way to get more out of this kid.

“We may have gotten really lucky here,” said Rivers. “We thought he might be able to be an active 4, but then seeing him in our league with all the strength I was thinking he won’t survive at that spot. Then at the (Thursday) morning coaches meeting, I said, ‘Guys, I think he’s a 3. Let’s just throw him at the 3 and see what happens.’ And he looked phenomenal. It’s amazing.”

brandon-wallace.jpegLast night, he looked very active on the glass and defensive end of the floor. His jump shot is not what you are looking for from your small forward, but with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, there aren’t enough shots to go around, especially for Brandon Wallace. His freak athleticism is something the Celtics desperately can use, especially from a player with a sort of big man mentality.

Wallace looks to be perfect for an uptempo style of play. If he’s on the floor with Rondo and Gerald, these three could be very exciting to watch on the fast break. I must say, I didn’t get as excited about this kid as many others did, but he is looking like something the Celtics roster could use as a 12th man. But let us all remember, this is just the first summer league game. Let’s see how this all plays out over the next two weeks and then we’ll know if this kid is worthy of a roster spot.

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Pruitt Makes Allan Ray Expendable

Posted by r1zzo23 on July 7, 2007

allan-ray.jpgAfter the acquisition of Ray Allen, I figured that Allan Ray’s days were to be numbered soon enough. Then we drafted Gabe Pruitt, a 1st round talent with some point guard experience and legit NBA range, and that pretty much was the nail in the coffin for Allan Ray.

Allan Ray was a college superstar while playing at Villanova, but he was the typical scoring guard that is not tall enough to cut it at shooting guard in the NBA. He also didn’t play any point guard, so that is not even close to an option for the Boston Celtics right now.

Watching the game last night, Allan Ray was struggling with his shot, just like last year’s summer league action. Although he was one of the three Celtics with double-digit scoring (11 points), he only shot three for ten from the field, and many of the misses were wide open looks that he must knock down. Last year it took Allan Ray until the last couple of summer league games to turn it on and earn a spot, but I think he knows that there is much more pressure on him to perform this year as his services may not be needed.gabe-pruitt.jpg

Gabe Pruitt, although he didn’t receive much playing time, showed that he has got an NBA ready jumper. He came in right away and launched a three from the right wing and converted even while receiving a hip check from the defender (no call for the rookie, though).  Pruitt went three for six from the field, hitting one three-pointer and finishing with seven total points. The negatives were Pruitt’s zero rebounds, zero assists, five fouls (in 17 minutes) and two turnovers (one which should have been a lob to Gerald Green for a dunk). It is the kid’s first NBA action, so let’s see how he responds throughout the rest of the summer league.

Although Pruitt showed last night that he is definitely not ready to step in and be a backup point guard, he put on display his jumpshot which will be enough to number Allan Ray’s days as a Boston Celtic. Pruitt brings better size at 6’4″ and at least a little experience running a team’s offense. Pruitt will make this team, but I’m sure Ray will catch on to another team in the NBA.

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Davis is Not a Backup Center

Posted by r1zzo23 on July 6, 2007

The title says it all. I don’t care how much space he takes up or whether or not he can face up bigger opponents, Glen Davis can not play center in the NBA. Period. But then, you have Danny Ainge saying stuff like this in the Boston Herald.big-baby.jpg

While Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge thinks Glen Davis will be able to play some backup center this season because he can take up space and face-up on opponents, Doc Rivers doesn’t necessarily agree. “He’s got the girth, but he doesn’t have the length, so the bigger bigs will just shoot over him,” he said. “And I think he would struggle trying to score over a longer player.”

Who would have thought that Doc Rivers would be the voice of reason in any debate? I think it will be brutally obvious tonight that Davis can’t play center in the NBA when Greg Oden and Lamarcus Aldridge feast on him in the post. He’s too short and not athletic enough to deter anyone from taking him to the box. Other than just holding his spot in the post, he doesn’t give much else on the defensive end. I can almost guarantee that Delonte West (we miss you!) will block more shots than Glen Davis this season. I know the minutes may not match up, but I’m sure it would be very close, maybe even still in Delonte’s favor, if you extrapolated them out for 48 minutes each.

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Subaru Key Matchups of the Night

Posted by r1zzo23 on July 6, 2007

Getting excited for the game tonight? Yeah, me too. So to keep myself under control, I’m looking to breakdown the best matchups we can see in the game tonight.

Key Matchup #1: Lamarcus Aldridge vs. Leon Powe

lamarcus-aldridge.jpg        leon-powe.jpg

 6’11”    Height    6’9″

240      Weight   240 

F/C     Position   PF 

Both of these players were highly productive players in their final season’s in college and were both selected in last year’s draft. Aldridge was eventually the #2 overall selection by the Bulls, but then quickly traded to Portland for the rights of Tyrus Thomas. Leon Powe, however, had to wait much longer to hear his name called on draft night. The Celtics traded back into the 2006 draft by obtaining the Nuggets’ 2nd round pick and took Leon Powe, who averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds his final year at Cal, with the 49th pick. Aldridge became a starter late last season while Powe played spot minutes.

Aldridge is obviously the better player overall, but I think that Powe can hold his own against Lamarcus, especially in a summer league game. Aldridge does have the height advantage as well as the wingspan in his favor, but Leon Powe has just got that desire and passion to rip down every rebound and grab every loose ball, which makes him so valuable to this team. Numbers wise, I can see Leon Powe out-producing Aldridge tonight, but I don’t expect Aldridge to play all that many minutes. I’m hoping these two get to play each other straight up tonight because I really think it could be a nice start to the summer league.

 Key Matchup #2: Martell Webster vs. Gerald Green

martell-webster.jpg        gerald-green.jpg

6’7″     Height    6’8″ 

210     Weight   200 

G/F    Position   SF 

This could very easily be the most intriguing matchup of the game. Both these players were selected in the 2005 draft (Webster at #6, Green at #18). These were two of the highly touted high school phenoms coming into the draft and to be brutally honest, neither has contributed much at all to their respective team. The Blazers are re-tooling, so it may be do-or-die this year for Martell Webster as he could be quickly replaced on the roster. Gerald Green doesn’t have any young guns coming in to take his spot, but he’s going to struggle to log quality minutes consistently with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen on the team.

Both Webster and Green are good long-range shooters and both know how to put on a show at the rim. Gerald Green is definitely the better player at this point in his career, coming off a season where he averaged a career high 10.4 points on 42% shooting from the floor. Webster scored 7 points a night, but his FG% was under 40% (that’s almost Adam Morrison territory!). The summer league is perhaps the best chance for these two potential all-stars to show that they are ready for that 3rd season leap (Al Jefferson did it last year).

For the Blazers, to have Webster emerge as a 15-point a night guy, that would be huge with a core of players that include Brandon Roy, Lamarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden. He would give them a legit outside shooter as well as a good slasher to build with a young nucleus. Gerald Green will be asked to do more of what he did last year, which was coming off the bench and providing instant offense. He poured in 10 a night last year, so if he could up that to 14 or 15 and become a good 6th man, he would be a great asset for the Celtics. If he could limit the production drop off between himself and either Ray Allen or Paul Pierce as well as bringing an offensive spark, Gerald will be a pivotal part to the Celtics success and chances of making the playoffs.

Posted in Players, Summer League | 2 Comments »

Does Telfair Have a Future in Beantown?

Posted by r1zzo23 on July 6, 2007

bay.jpgAfter the Ray Allen trade sent our backup point guard in Delonte West to Seattle, we were left with Rondo as our starter and Sebastian Telfair as the backup. Yes, the same Telfair that had his nameplate stripped from his locker at the Waltham workout facility. The team was talking as if Sebastian was not going to be back with this team next year, but with only one point guard on the roster, it looks like they may be back tracking just a bit.

Selected with the 13th pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, this high school legend was supposed to be the next great point guard for a long time. After spurning Rick Pitino and Louisville, he had his sights set on taking the NBA by storm. Portland took him even though many draft experts were not high on his game at all. Being drafted #13 overall was perhaps the high point of his young career.

Looking at his career numbers, he has never averaged 10 points a game, never averaged 4 assists a game and never shot over 40% from the floor. Seems like maybe a little seasoning at the college level, especially with a great coach like Rick Pitino, would have done Ba$$y some good.

The Celtics brought him in last year to challenge for the starting point guard position. This wouldn’t have been such a bad deal if you think about the team trying to grab a potential stud in Telfair to become the franchise point guard for many years. But when you take into account that we gave up the #7 pick, which turned out to be Brandon Roy (Rookie of the Year), it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Roy was the most NBA-ready player coming in to the draft and the Celtics didn’t need to get any younger. Roy also brought some good size to the point guard position.

sebastian.jpgLet’s not look at all the negatives, but try to shine some light on any positives there may be. Sure, he has been in some trouble with the law, but you have to realize he is still so very young. At the age of 22, he is still maturing and would be going into his senior season if he had gone to college. Maybe with his first three years behind him, he is ready to take his big step forward to show he truly belongs in this league as a point guard.

I know he will be stuck behind Rondo on the depth chart, but Telfair can definitely come in and be effective. With Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, he has to know that he should never be settling for jump shots. He needs to attack the lane and either kick it to a shooter on the perimeter, attack the rim or hit Al Jefferson with an easy drop down pass. When Telfair decides to be a scorer, that’s when he does himself, as well as his team, no good.

What do I expect from Sebastian Telfair this season? I hope he can solidify himself as this team’s backup point guard, make some good decisions and develop into a facilitator. It would be a great luxury to have two pass-first point guards on the squad, especially two that can get to the rim at will. Even if Telfair can’t win the starting gig, he can push Rondo to be better than he is now and help this team in some facet.

With that said, I hope that Telfair can play well enough to get another deal with the Celtics to backup Rondo for a couple more seasons. With Rondo, Telfair and a combo guard in Gabe Pruitt, the point guard position would seem to be in good hands.

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Doc’s Replacement to Be on the Bench?

Posted by r1zzo23 on July 5, 2007

There have been thousands of fans that have been calling for Doc to be axed as the coach of the Celtics (myself included). It just didn’t seem as if he knew how to develop the young talent that Danny had stockpiled on the roster, perhaps the most important job of whoever was to take over as coach of the Celtics. Doc’s replacement may not be too far away from him on the bench starting this season.

Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald is reporting that Dwane Casey, former head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, could possibly be coming to Boston as an assistant coach.

As for a new assistant, Dwane Casey is still in the mix after losing out on the head coaching job with Seattle. Former Houston aide Tom Thibodeau has been hired to assist in Washington, but his candidacy here was said to be more a case of the Rockets pushing for him. 

Maybe not the candidate we would all hope for, but a change has got to be something we could all look forward to, especially if this season gets off to a bad start. Doc’s a great guy, but if he can’t get this team to at least 38 wins this season, he’s got to go.

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