Avery Bradley usually isn’t compared to Larry Bird. During one shot tonight, that changed. The fourth-year guard was in the right spot in the first quarter on Tuesday night, rebounding a Jared Sullinger airball under the basket. Knowing he needed to get off a shot before the shot clock expired, Bradley hoisted up a prayer [...]
We’ve talked about Jared Sullinger quite a bit this week, but he has been playing intriguingly well, so forgive us for continuing the trend. The “Should Sullinger be taking 3-pointers?” argument continues to rage, but last night presented compelling arguments for proponents of the strategy. I wrote about these shots specifically during the preseason, and [...]
Only five NBA teams are humiliated by a less effective offense than the one currently deployed by the Boston Celtics. But being that Thanksgiving is right around the corner, here are a couple parts of that offense we should all be grateful for. (Most notably the fact that it’s run by Brad Stevens, a mastermind [...]
Last season, Jared Sullinger was whistled for 6.2 fouls per 36 minutes. In other words, statistically, even if the Celtics wanted to give him a starter’s minutes, he would foul out before the 36 minute mark. Some of that was on Sullinger â€” it takes a certain amount of time to adjust to the way [...]
In a playoff-less season, the Celtics really have only one thing to look forward to before lottery night: The return of Rajon Rondo. There are always a few indicators that a player is nearing his return, and one of the first ones is that he is returning to drills during practice. From Gary Washburn’s Twitter [...]
Trade talk hasn’t died down just yet in Boston. Days after Danny Ainge confirmed to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald that the team was engaged in discussions with other teams pertaining to their veteran pieces of the roster, we have another report surfacing today fromÂ Jared Zwerling of Bleacher ReportÂ on potential talks between the Celtics [...]
Remember last year, when the Câ€™s developed something of a reputation for blowing leads in the fourth quarter? And it even got to the point where some of the leagueâ€™s most arrogant coaches were bringing it up in their huddles? Well, step aside, fourth quarter. There’s a new quarter in town, and its name is the second quarter.
The Celtics again got a dominant performance from their starters in the first, only to lose the huge lead in the second thanks mostly to sub-mediocre bench play. Thatâ€™s the fifth game in a row theyâ€™ve been outscored in that quarter, and by an average of 6 points. This is a developing issue, and probably something they need to work out before this stretch of crappy teams is over. The starters are playing more minutes than they should be against bad teams because these huge leads arenâ€™t being held.
But this game wasnâ€™t all bad, or even half bad: the first quarter was a total blast. Rajon Rondo is not showing the effects of injury, people. He had eight assists in the frame, including seven in a row from 8:53 to 2:50, pretty much all of them beautiful in some distinct way. Every field goal in the quarter was assisted. He was moving around with no visible problems. Very nice to have that guy back and healthy-seeming.
Meanwhile, Shaq had the game he should have had last week against the frail, submissive Raptors frontcourt. A 5-5 perfect from the floor and a Shaq-perfect 75% from the line with 9 boards. If youâ€™d like to watch his careening alley-oop now, scroll down to the notes and come back afterwards.
The Câ€™s got plenty of help from the Raptor defenders in their high-scoring first quarter endeavors. The only guy who provided much help defense underneath was DeMar DeRozan, which would have been great except he was supposed to be guarding Ray Allen twenty feet away on the wing. The result of this was that Allen dropped three bombs in the first four minutes and no civilians survived. Everything combined to stake the Câ€™s to a 31-20 lead at the quarterâ€™s end.
Then the Raptors bench guys came in and started to regulate. Jerryd Bayless and Leandro Barbosa were way better than Calderon and DeRozan tonight (they might be any night) and Amir Johnson had another decent game. A bunch of dumb early fouls from the Câ€™s bench guys helped them close the lead to 3 halfway through the quarter, and it was only 6 at the half.
In the second half, the first half essentially repeated itself. The Celtics starters opened things with a huge run with crisp ball movement and transition buckets (except Ray got the assists off the extra pass instead of Rondo). Then some bench guys came in, more dumb fouls, a few turnovers, no protection against the three, and the Raptors came within eight before the starters came back to close it out.
Letâ€™s talk about this unfortunate trend for a minute. Over the past four games, the bench has been getting (if youâ€™ll forgive the technical terminology here) dookied on.
Old Man Plus/Minus is here with the bad news:
Delonte: -30 (in 2.5 games)
Nate: +44 in 3 games as a starter, -12 in one game as a reserve
Marquis: a spit-take inducing -47
Something not great is obviously happening here. But thanks to Hoopdata, I think I might know whoâ€™s behind all this. Itâ€™s an old, familiar enemy, one we thought weâ€™d seen the last of. But we were wrong: he’s back and more powerful than ever. Who, you ask?
Stretch Davis, of course, is a tiny evil spirit/bacterium who lives inside Glen Davisâ€™s brain and forces him to take jumpers from 16-23 feet.
We first met Stretch back in 2009, when Glen started taking 2.6 long twos per game. Then Rasheed Wallace arrived and Doc banished Stretch to the Netherverse, causing Glen to attempt only one long two per game.
But this year Stretch has resumed eating away at Glenâ€™s brain stem to the tune of 3.5 attempts from 16-23 per game. Oof. Thatâ€™s the second most on the team behind KG. Glen has taken his extra minutes and used them almost exclusively to shoot more long twos.
Take tonight, for example: Glen took jumpers from 20, 19, 19, 19, 19, 17, and finally 21. He made two of them. His evening was only salvaged because he was 6-9 from inside 10 feet.
We all know the problems associated with this kind of shot. The long two generally gives you a lower percentage without the potential for an additional point that you get outside the arc. But if you look at Glenâ€™s work in this medium, heâ€™s actually shot pretty well: 41%, just above league average.
Be that as it may, there are a few reasons why this is probably not a positive trend:
-Glenâ€™s long two percentage started the season really high, but has gradually lumbered back to the mean as opposing defenses have started looking for it. He was 15-31 from that area in his first eight games. His last eight? 8-31. His high-usage/low-return games against Atlanta and New Jersey played a big part in keeping those games competitive.
-Glen is way more efficient than ever at the rim right now. 69.7%, compared to a previous high of 59% in 2008-9. However, thanks to Stretch, his attempts per game at the rim have dropped a tiny bit from last year, even with his increased minutes.
-His offensive rebound rate, 5.5, is his lowest ever, down from 13.5 last year. (Yes, those were inflated by misses at the rim, I know that, but heâ€™s definitely not rebounding his misses from 21 feet). His total rebound rate this year: also lowest ever.
-Glenâ€™s not what youâ€™d call a traditional jump-shooting big. He canâ€™t shoot over anybody at his position like KG can. Heâ€™s not a great free-throw shooter. His form is kind of crazy. It would be awesome if he were an amazing jump shooter with that form, but instead it just helps explain why he’s not.
Over the last four games, Glenâ€™s seen more usage than anyone else on the bench (last night he had the highest on the team), so his poor shooting is probably some part of the downward trend weâ€™re seeing.
But letâ€™s qualify our argument some. First, Glenâ€™s jumpers are not fully or even mostly responsible for the benchâ€™s failures. The defense has been sloppy and fouls and turnovers have both been problematic.
Second, theyâ€™re really only harmful in large doses. If he scales back on them a bit, his efficiency will probably go up along with his boards. Then he can always pull the long two out when he needs it: against Atlanta and OKC, for example, Glen realized Josh Smith and Ibaka were capable of force-feeding him his own shot under the basket, so he spaced the floor a bit. We should be fine with that. And we all still have fond memories of Glen hitting that buzzer-beater against Orlando and injuring that child.
So overall, there might be nothing to see here. Letâ€™s assume that with his recent struggles Glen got 3.5 jumpers/game out of his (central nervous) system.
How awesome was that Rondo-Shaq hookup in the first?
Look at Shaq chug! If he doesn’t jump up and grab the rim there, how does he stop his momentum? And what if he’d missed the rim and kept going through the air? How many cameramen would we be mourning today? Shaq should probably stick to vertical jumping just for safety purposes.
The Canadian announcers on League Pass pronounced Semih Erdenâ€™s name â€śEAR-din.â€ť This had no effect on his scoring (4-4 against a disinterested Bargnani) but some effect on his rebounding (0 rebounds).
The Raptors had five different countries represented on the floor at once early in the 4th. Spain, Lithuania, Brazil, Serbia, Italy. That hasnâ€™t happened since the league started recording country of origin in the box score (never). In any case, it was almost definitely their most effective of the evening.
More Canadian goofiness:
What the hell is that crazy word? Is that what DeGama and DeRozan put in DeYard to keep in DeDog?