The Celtics came out flat in New Jersey allowing the Nets to get out to a 20 point lead. We didn't score until over 8 minutes had passed in the first quarter when Gomes connected on a jumper. It looked like we were going to be blown out but then the bench came in and they brought the Celtics back and the Celtics were down only 3 at the half.
The biggest plus for the Celtics was the break out game by Al Jefferson. He scored a career high 29 points on 12 of 19 shooting to go with 14 rebounds, 1 block and 2 steals. I believe that that Al could have done this before but his teammates never got him the ball in the paint. Tonight they were finding him and he was scoring. Ryan Gomes had another solid game with 9 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal. Scal had 7 points and only 1 rebound. I still can't figure out why Doc doesn't play Powe. When Powe plays, he does good things but even with a shortage of big men, Doc isn't playing him. We were out rebounded 53 to 40. Powe is a much better rebounder and I believe he would give us more than Scal on the defensive end.
Green played 25 minutes and finished with 7 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists. He is going to be a special player when he gets regular minutes. West played well and showed the hustle that we have come to expect from him. He finished with 16 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals. Rondo had only 2 points and 2 rebounds but he brings so much energy that he changes the game when he comes in. Everyone but Doc realizes that this kid is special and doesn't need to shoot to be effective in the game.
Telfair and Allen had off nights. Telfair had 0 points and 4 assists and seemed to be behind the play all night. Tony finished with 5 points, 3 rebounds, 3 turnovers and 5 fouls. His play continues to be inconsistent from game to game.
Pierce was not shooting the ball well. He shot 4 of 18 tonight and finished with 17 points 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 turnovers. But he came up clutch on the last play, hitting the game winner at the buzzer.
This was a good win for us. In spite of playing on the road in the second of back to back games, and playing without 2 of our starters and with no centers, we pulled out a win. Our young players are stepping up and Green and Jefferson are beginning to live up to their potential. We didn't let the big deficit early get us down and kept fighting and playing hard until the end. Hopefully we can build on this win and get another win on Monday.
The talk around the league today is Allen Iverson Redux. Today's Herald confirms that Boston is one of the teams in hot pursuit of Iverson. The Globe reports that Danny won't comment on the trade rumors. Yahoo Sports reports that Boston and Dallas are the front runners in the Iverson derby. Philly is reportedly asking for expiring contracts, young players and draft picks. We have all of the above. We have several picks in the next two drafts. We have lots of young players, and we have Ratliff's soon to expire contract. Danny could put together a good package for him but hopefully Philly will turn him down. We don't need Iverson's attitude in Boston. I also don't want to trade any of our young bigs, Allen, West, Gomes, Powe, and especially Green or Al. If we trade any of our young players with so much potential, we will be watching them become all stars for another team while Iverson is either causing so much trouble he will be traded for pennies on the dollar or he will be retired and we will still be watching Gerald or Al beat us time after time. The only trade I would be ok with would be Scal, Ratliff, and Doc for Iverson. With any luck, King will send him to someone else.
Other headlines involve the Celtics latest loss to the Suns. The Herald reports that the Celtics had no defense for the Suns attack. The Globe mentions that even though they were tired from the previous night's game, the Suns were too much for the Celtics. The Globe Blog reports the reactions to our latest loss.
The Eagle Tribune has a piece that comments on the Iverson to Boston rumors and discusses the fact that Nash's style of play is a lost art in today's NBA. The Worcester Telegram reports that in spite of our 5th loss in a row, Doc was encouraged by the team playing hard for the whole game.
The Herald also discusses Tony's role on the team. His role is more of defensive specialist than to be an offensive player. Doc says that he is getting that the past couple of games. He played very well last night. Maybe he is being showcased for the Sixers.
Celtics stayed with the Suns most of the game and even led at points. Of course, the Suns were tired from a double OT game the night before but still, the Celtics played hard the whole game to stay with them. Hopefully it is a sign that they are coming together and maybe going to pull it together.
In spite of promising to play Green more and all his talk about how Green is earning more minutes and how he has to be out on the floor, Doc played him only 17 minutes. Green played very well in those 17 minutes with 6 points and 5 rebounds. I don't understand why Doc makes such a big deal about playing him and then doesn't.
In spite of having our 3 centers on the IL and needing bigs, Powe only played 8 minutes. He is playing hard when he is in the game and playing very well but yet he doesn't get any minutes. He finished with 2 points on an offensive rebound and put back and 3 rebounds. This kid needs more playing time. As for our other bigs, Gomes is such a solid player. He finished with 18 points and 5 rebounds. Al missed some bunnies but played well overall. He finised with 6 points, 7 rebounds and 1 block in 22 minutes. Scal was pretty much a non factor. He didn't play great but didn't play poorly either. A couple of times he passed up open jumpers that he should have taken.
Tony had a great game. His defense was great and he finished with 5 steals to go along with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. He won the Tommy Award and hopefully gained more confidence to continue making strides in his game. West was supposed to start but missed the beginning of the game because of light headedness. He finished with 8 points and 3 assists. Rondo played very good in limited minutes. He finished with 3 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in 13 minutes. He continues to play well but Doc continues to give him limited playing time. Telfair had a solid game with 14 points, 5 assists and 2 steals.
It was a solid effort that once again came up short. We did get some pretty bad calls from the refs that seemed to change the momentum but we should be able to overcome bad officiating. Tomorrow night, we will be the team playing the second of back to back games when we face the Nets in New Jersey. Hopefully we can build on what we did tonight. We kept the turnovers down while forcing the opposition into more. We rebounded very well on the offensive end. We did have a problem shooting the ball as we shot only 43% as a team. We played as a team and we played with effort for the entire game. It is a start. Now we just need to build on it.
The Herald leads off with another article on Scal. All of the papers have been giving him a lot of print these days. He did play very well against Memphis and deserved the cheers that he got when he fouled out. Scal plays hard all the time and I think some times tries too hard and that leads to the mistakes he makes. If he plays like he did in the last game, I could even start to like the guy instead of tolerating him. But, still, when he gets a lot of playing time, it means that Powe isn't and Powe needs those minutes for our future.
The Globe promises that Green is due more playing time. He has progressed way quicker than most believed he would last season. He is moving well without the ball, is playing solid defense and is shooting the ball very well. Hopefully Wednesday's game will be the beginning of many, many more dominant performances by Gerald. Celtics.com and The Patriot Ledger also have articles on Green and how his play is opening a lot of eyes and is demanding more minutes for him. The fact that he is emerging much quicker than expected is a very good thing.
Celtics Blog asks if Doc will quit. I just don't see him walking away from this team. If we get a new coach, I think it will have to be because Doc and Wyc decide that enough is enough and Doc isn't working out for us. Doc seems to like this team and I think he will stick it it out unless he is fired.
The Lowell Sun asks if the Celtics have hit rock bottom. I don't think we are that bad. I think we still have a lot of talent, we have a lot of trade chips, we have a lot of injuries that affect the team as a whole. We aren't in near as bad shape as our record would indicate.
JB over on CelticsStuff Live has a good article with discussion on Pierce's elbows and contributions among other things. JB's articles are always interesting and worth the read. Some good insights here.
Peter Vescey is at it again. The NY Post is reporting that Iverson has asked for a trade.
According to two agents whose clients play for the 76ers, Iverson went to team president Billy King this past Tuesday and demanded to be traded, something he professed repeatedly over the years he'd never do.
According to two general managers King contacted yesterday, the 76ers are aggressively attempting to accommodate their forlorn franchise player, whose prohibitive salary (currently $17.1 million with $19M and $20.8M remaining) makes him a difficult sell despite a 31-point average - at least if the Sixers hope to harvest relatively equal value
. And the saga continues. If Danny really and truly wanted Iverson that badly, he may make a pitch for him now. Reportedly, Philly is willing to move anyone with Iverson just to trade him, Dalembert and Igoudala included.
I still have the same objections I had before. Iverson's attitude is terrible. We don't need that kind of a presence among our young players. Having Pierce is bad enough but Pierce is great leader compared to Iverson.
Iverson may not blame Cheeks for the 76ers' worst record in the Atlantic Division, but there's no question they've got differences that aren't going away. One of them pertains to Iverson's lack of attention to detail, lack of respect for authority and unwillingness to practice hard.
Following a conflict at workout last week, Iverson stormed out of the building. That evening he failed to show for a mandatory team function for corporate sponsors and prime season ticket holders
Do we really want this kind of attitude on the team?
It is hard to stay positive these days. There are plenty of negatives to focus on. We are losing. We don't seem to be playing with heart or any toughness. Our coach continues to make poor decisions and shows more and more that we need a coaching change. We continually blow leads and lose close games. Our "best" player is 4th in the league in turnvoers averaging just under 4 TO's a game. (Allen Iverson is #1 with 4.4 per game. Yes, there are a lot of negatives to focus on. But there are also positives if you look hard enough.
Gerald Green's emergence is a big positive. Last season he was completely lost. It was widely believed that it would be several years before he could come in and contribute. But this season, he is opening a lot of eyes with his play. He is playing good defense. In fact, Doc has put him in on several occasions for his defense. He is moving without the ball and he is knocking down his shots. He is leading the league in 3 point percentage shooting almost 57% from behind the arc. He is shooting almost 50% from the field behind only Gomes, Perk and Scal. Yes, Green is coming into his own this season which is way quicker than anyone thought last season. Hopefully Wednesday's game is the beginning of many, many more to come.
Al Jefferson is finally living up to his potential. He still isn't getting the kind of minutes he should be but I think that will change with Perk being out. He is scoring in the low post (when they get him the ball there), he is taking charges and drawing fouls in the paint. He isn't falling for upfakes like he once did on every possession and is showing more patience to get the block rather than a foul. He is being more aggressive in the paint and taking it strong to the basket instead of settling for hookshots in the middle of the key.
Ryan Gomes. Need I say more? This kid has proven to be the essence of reliability and consistency. He just keeps getting better. He is shooting 51% from the field and rarely takes a bad shot. He is averaging 6.5 rebounds per game and 10.9 points per game to go with only 1.3 turnovers. Gomes rarely makes mistakes and is playing solid defense. He is a player pure and simple.
Rajon Rondo is capable of taking over a game. Shot or no shot, this kid needs to play. We saw what his defense and energy can do in the Memphis game. Rondo's hustle and defense are capable of changing the tempo of a game and can completely change the game around. Green may have been doing the scoring Wednesday night, but it was Rondo's 4 steals and game control that brought the Celtics back. Any more DNP's are inexcusable whether he can hit an 18 footer or not. Teams do not back off him as much as Doc would have us believe because he is so capable of taking it to the basket if they do. Whether he can hit the mid range jumper or not, Rondo is an excellent PG and needs to be on the floor. He is exciting to watch and his few rookie mistakes and lack of shooting are made up for in many other ways.
I still feel that Powe is a big positive. He has proved that he can play. He is a defensive presence in the paint. He is a good rebounder. He won't back down from anyone and is much longer than his 6'7" measurements because of his long arms and leaping ability. But yet, Doc isn't playing him. Even with no centers and a desperate need for bigs, Doc played him only 7 minutes Wednesday. He needs more minutes to regain the confidence that Doc is killing by keeping him on the bench.
Perk's emergence as a leader is a plus. He has spoken out before and has even called out Pierce when he was not giving enough effort. Perk is emerging as a leader both on and off the court and that is a very good thing. Pierce may be the captain, but he hasn't been a leader. We need leadership and Perk seems to be providing it. His teammates, including Pierce, listen to him because he proves with his effort and work ethic, that he gives it all and so he can call others out on their lack of effort. I love this kid and hope he continues to speak out and keep his teammates in line.
We have a lot of injuries. I know this doesn't sound like a positive but it is if you think about it. Last year, the injuries brought about the emergence of Ryan Gomes. This year, it may be Leon Powe or it may just be the emergence of one or more of the young players who will get more playing time because of the injuries. Doc has proved that he will play veterans instead of kids if he has them available. But that does nothing for the emergence of these young players. Wally's injury opened up more time for Green and now Doc pretty much has to play him more. But then again, this is Doc we are talking about. Even with all three centers out, Doc is playing Scal instead of giving Powe regular minutes. If it takes injuries to get these kids some playing time, then the injuries are a good thing and we will be that much stronger when the injured players come back. We may be losing now, but it should make us a better team in the future.
We aren't the only team that is losing and trade rumors are popping up all over. We are hearing more Garnett, Iverson, O'Neal, and Gasol trade rumors and more pop up daily. We still have a lot of trading chips that should one of these stars become available for real, we should be able to put together a good package for him.
Back in '77, the Seattle Supersonics started the season 5 and 17. Then they fired the coach and hired Lenny Wilkens. They went to Boston and kicked their ass. That started a run of success that led them to game 7 loss of the NBA finals to the Washington Bullets in 1978 and the Sonics won the title in 1979 just before Bird and Magic entered the NBA.
It is still early. We are 5 and 12, but still have 65 games to turn this around. It is possible that Doc will either quit or be fired and it will all turn around. It is possible that Danny will make a big trade to bring in a player that will put us over the top. It is possible that one or more of the kids will emerge and have a break out game at any time and if they do, it may just ignite the team. But then, it is possible that Doc will just bury them on the bench again (See Powe,Leon and Rondo, Rajon). But there is still plenty of time in this season and because we are so young, next season as well.
There are positives. We are seeing some good individual performances but as a team, we haven't been able to put it together yet. But I believe that is coming. We may need a new coach for it to happen, but many of our young players are emerging and proving that they can play. We just need them to start doing it together. There are still reasons to keep the koolaid around.
Celtics Green and Loy's Place joins Celtics fans from all over Celtics Nation wishing Larry Bird a happy 50th birthday.
Fans of the Celtics through the 80's have many fond memories of Larry's illustrious career. Who can forget the duel with Dominique in the game with Atlanta? Or the steal in the game against Detroit? Or any number of clutch performances that brought us such joy as Celtics fans. In the words of a coach we would rather forget: "Larry Bird is not walking through that door." But the memories we have of all his years in Boston are still here and very much alive.
To celebrate Larry's milestone birthday, NBA TV will be having programming from his career all day today. You can check out their programming schedule here. All Bird all day long.
As Tommy says, this game was a roller coaster. The Celtics went up by 15 behind some great play by the bench. Then they let the lead slip away and the Grizzlies went up by as many as 17. In the 4th quarter, the Celtics came back from 14 down behind some inspired play by Green and Rondo and tied the game but Rudy Gay hit a shot in the lane to go ahead with 2 seconds left. We lost but the team didn't put its head down and kept playing to the end.
Pierce played 40 minutes but for the most part, was more a part of the problem than the solution. He shot 7 of 17 from the floor and had 9 turnovers. Tony Allen didn't make the best of his start and was pretty much a non factor with 0 points, 2 rebounds and 2 turnovers.
Gomes is such a consistent player. He ended up with 12 points, 1 rebound, and 2 assists. Al had a great game with 9 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks. West was up and down but finished with 12 points, 7 assists and 3 turnovers. Powe played only 7 minutes in spite of our shortage of bigs. He played well in those few minutes with 2 points, 2 rebounds and 1 block. I don't know what this kid has to do to get playing time.
Rondo and Green are the players of the game in my opinion. Rondo came in and picked up the pace of the game and brought energy that had been lacking. He went to the floor several times for loose balls and Pierce would have had 11 turnovers if it wasn't for Rondo hitting the floor to recover the ball that Pierce almost turned over. Rondo finished with 5 assists and 4 steals. Green also brought in energy and finished with 21 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 1 block and played some good defense along with Rondo.
A close loss to a team that is struggling and had only 4 wins isn't very encouraging. And it doesn't get any easier with the Suns coming to town on Friday.
The Globe has announced that Perk is officially out of the Celtics lineup for 3 weeks. He has been sitting out practices and playing in the games up until now, but the time has come for him to sit and heal.
No one can question Perk's toughness or willingness to play in pain. He has been battling plantar fasciitis for weeks and has rarely complained about what must be some pretty severe pain. But plantar fasciitis requires rest to heal and Perk's condition just keeps getting worse.
With Ratliff and Kandi still out, the Celtics will have no choice but to go small. Al will probably start at center with Scal or Powe backing him up. I would like to see Powe backing up Al at center because with his toughness and long arms, I think he would be much more effective there than Scal would be.
You just have to love Perk. First there was his work ethic that helped to make him into a well sculpted muscular center from a slightly puffy high school kid. He works harder than just about anyone else in the league. When he was fouling too much he watched film until he pinpointed what he was doing wrong.
He has been playing hurt and never wants to come off the floor. He hasn't been able to practice because of the pain in his foot but even then, he tried to sneak out onto the practice floor.
What endears him to me the most is his desire to play hard and to play defense. Perk commits to doing the dirty work and playing defense every game. Granted, he hasn't been as effective since his plantar fasciitis started, but he still has been a factor inside, blocking shots and making players change others.
Now, he has become a vocal leader, calling out his teammates on more than one occasion. Last year, he got in Pierce's face in a game and told him to pick it up. Amazingly, Pierce responded. Now, once again, Perk is exhorting his teammates to pick it up. From this morning's Globe,
"It seems like we've got too many chiefs, not enough Indians," said Perkins. "That's the best way I can put it. Everybody with their own agenda, instead of sticking with the team and winning.
"You've got to do your role to help the team win and, in the end, everybody gets a piece of the pie. You can't really go on how many shot attempts you get or what your stats look like because you can't win like that. Like Shaq [O'Neal] said, his best games are when he starts forgetting about the stats. Lose yourself in the team and we win games. Let the game come to you. That's including me, the team as a whole.
"I ain't trying to single anybody out. It's everybody as a team. Everybody needs to go home, watch film, and see where they messed up. I'm not pointing a finger at who did this or what somebody else did wrong. Just go watch yourself and see what you did wrong. That's where we get better. As long as we keep pointing the finger, being sensitive every time coach says something to us, we can't win."
That sounds like a lot of wisdom from a young player. Pierce would do well to listen to him, as would the rest of the team. It is a team game. Everyone must commit to playing defense. Everyone must commit to following the game plan. One person who doesn't play hard or doesn't commit to defense will throw everyone off.
Let's hope everyone listens to Perk and that he continues to try to get everyone on the same page and playing hard. We need Perk healthy and so let's hope Doc gives him some rest so he can be effective again. In the meantime, he is providing the leadership that this team so desperately needs.