How Will Celtics’ Rivals Perform in the Playoffs?

Toronto Raptors v Boston Celtics

2013/14 wasn’t destined to be a season our beloved Celtics made the playoffs. Even the awful East wasn’t so bad that the 25-56 Celts could get in. Still, in a rebuilding year for the green and white, it’s about time to take a look at how their Eastern Conference rivals will fare in their upcoming playoff campaigns.

Linesmakers, like TopBet which offer NBA Futures to use as reference here, look at everything from injuries to strength of schedule in setting their odds to win the NBA championship, and the price they set on these Celtics competitors is a useful way to measure their likelihood to go all the way.

Toronto Raptors – +6000

While the Celtics floundered near the bottom of the Atlantic, the Toronto Raptors claimed just their second ever division title and will enjoy home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. It’s been a remarkable season for Canada’s team, amid changes in personnel (the Rudy Gay trade) and in the front office (Masai Ujiri replacing Bryan Colangelo).

Although they’re +6,000 longshots to win the championship, the dynamic backcourt of DeMar DeRozan (22.8 PPG) and Kyle Lowry (17.9 PPG) as well as the emergence of Jonas Valanciunas (18 PPG and 12 RPG in April) are a good shout to make some noise in this year’s playoffs.

Brooklyn Nets – +4,000

Celtic old boys Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are heading to the playoffs after all. After a horrid start to the season, the Brooklyn Nets have bounced back in the latter half of the season to look somewhat like the contenders they were touted to be. Homecourt has been key to the Nets’ success; they went 28-13 in the house that Jay-Z built, including a massive 15-game winning streak.

Whether they face the Raptors or Bulls in the first round, the Pierce- and Garnett-led Nets have the team to knock out the higher seed.

Miami Heat – +225

The classic Boston-Miami match-ups of yesteryear are now a thing of the past, but the Heat aren’t done just yet. LeBron James and co. are the heavy favorites at +225 to complete their three-peat this year, despite their failure to lock down the no. 1 seed in the East.

Dwyane Wade’s health remains shrouded in mystery, but with the Indiana Pacers’ end-of-season struggles coupled with James’ ability to single-handedly lift his team to victory makes the Heat still the team to beat.

Getting to the finish line.

20-41. 61 games played, 21 games to go.

it-s-all-about-the-future-rajon-rondo-16544040-1920-1200

We all know it’s about the future, but knowing is different from feeling. One can only imagine the morale of the team at this point. Battered and bruised, they valiantly battle for a win every night, only to fall short at the end to better teams. We all knew this season was never going to be pretty, but reality still hits hard. The situation certainly isn’t as ugly as it was before the modern Big Three era, but it takes a lot of beer and positivity to get this season over and done with. The early season was a really fun ride, but the roster’s been thinned out some since then, which certainly didn’t help. Not forgetting the fact that you can only play so hard and win that many games with an undersized, unbalanced roster that lacks a rim protector, has not yet learnt to rotate defensively on pick and roll plays well enough (check out Kevin O’Connor’s analysis on the team), doesn’t even make a third of its three-point attempts, and sputters along on offense (26th in league) whenever our recently recovered All-Star point guard gets off the floor. None of it is really their fault, it’s just the rigours of getting through a rebuilding system with a young roster finding its ways with a new coach.

I’m really proud of the fact that there hasn’t been any intentional losing crap (read: tanking) and few games where the guys just decide to throw the towel in on defense and let the other team roll over them. A loss is a loss, but at least we’re trying. (I’m morbidly cheered up by the crazy way the Clippers absolutely mutilated the Lakers today by the way.)

On the positive side: Olynyk’s getting more confident and adjusted to the game pace, Rondo’s found a new offensive option in his long range shots, Humphries is a maniac I’d love to keep, Sully’s hustling as always, and Bass is doing the usual Bass-like things, that I like. There’s absolutely no doubt the team can and will get better, it’s just brutal to watch.

Looking at the remainder of the schedule, I can see a whole bunch of games that look like definite losses (read: Miami, Indiana, Brooklyn x2, Detroit x2, Chicago x2 and Phoenix.) Which is a good thing. Or bad, depending on which way you look at it. One thing for sure, I’m just gonna keep telling myself, “NEXT!” up till game #82 rolls around on 17 April 2014. Goodbye Wizards, goodbye season 2013/14.

Like Evans Clinchy wrote, it’s about playing for pride.

“We still have our pride,” said Green. “We don’t want to keep embarrassing ourselves. That’s the mentality we’re going to have. I don’t think this group wants to continue having games like this. We’ve just got to keep fighting and do the best we can to finish out the season strong.”

Whatever lies ahead in the off-season, I’d like to say a word of thanks to all the players for roughing it out through this season. Thanks for not giving up, and fighting on no matter what. Thanks to coach Stevens for steering the ship so well in your first season as head coach; for being calm and ever maintaining that consistent, reassuring exterior. It’s not the easiest job in the league, but I think we’ve got a better shot at getting out of this rut compared to some other teams out there – hello New York!

To the team: keep fighting, stay positive and hang on. We’re all behind you! 21 more bloody games, let’s do it. #CelticPride

Injury Woes Leave Bradley Frustrated

Boston Celtics shooting guard, Avery Bradley, has admitted that he is growing increasingly frustrated by his ongoing injury problems.

avery_bradley_2012_03_25

The 23-year-old suffered a dislocated shoulder during the 2012 NBA Playoffs, which eventually needed surgery, and he did not play again until January 2013.

Sports betting fans will recall that Bradley struggled to recapture his best form in the second half of the 2012-13 season but appeared to have finally overcome his problems when he featured in the first 43 matches of the current campaign.

However, a badly sprained right ankle has left Bradley sidelined again and, although the injury should not keep him out of action for too long, the Tacoma-born star admits he is frustrated by his lack of game time, particularly as his contract expires this summer.

According to the NBA betting page on the bet365 website, he said: “It’s been very frustrating not to be able to be there for my team. Watching the games has been tough. Having another setback, another year – it’s been hard on me. But all I can do is get healthy and try to get back as soon as possible.”

Bradley initially sprained his ankle on 21st January but returned to action before the problem was fully healed and, after just one game back, has been sidelined since 10th February.

He added: “We don’t want to irritate it anymore and go back to where I started at. So we’re just taking our time and letting everything heal up and calm down. Twisting your ankle, that’s part of the game. I’m not really worried about it. I know that nothing is broken or anything. I’m fine. All I have to do is get better so I can help my team.”

Meanwhile, rookie, Kelly Olynyk, is also set for a short lay-off after spraining the big toe on his left foot.

Rondo v2.0 – How good is he this season?

It might sound ridiculous to be upbeat when your team’s currently ranked 12th in the horrific East, holding a 19-39 season record, and definitely nowhere near the playoffs. Here’s a flowchart that sums up my feelings every game:

flowchart_celtics2014

Summary: Just can’t lose this season! As things stand right now, we’re looking at two first round picks this coming draft. There is another potential pick from Philadelphia which is lottery protected. Problem: they’re 15-42 right now, and they definitely did a better job on making their team worse by trading Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner at the deadline, so that pick is more or less out of reach.

Outside of developing young core players like Sullinger and Olynyk, hoarding picks and keeping the salaries manageable, the biggest concern on the team has to be our captain Rajon Rondo. It’s obvious the long term plan is to build around #9, which begs the question – how is his game looking like so far after his return from ACL surgery, and can we expect him to be as good (if not better) compared to earlier seasons?

Free throw shooting

Some past numbers on RR at the stripe:

  • His highest FT accuracy was 64.7% in his rookie season (2006/07) while averaging 2.4 FTs a game (184 attempts total.)
  • The next highest was 64.5% last season (2012/13) at 2.4 FTs a game (93 attempts total.)
  • The most free throw attempts ever taken in a season was in 2009/10, where he took 282 shots and made 62.1%.

This season, he’s been hitting them at 73.7%, making 14 of 19. Out of the 13 games he’s played, he’s only shot free throws in 6 of them, more notably the recent games against the Suns (4/5), Lakers (1/2) and Jazz (6/6).

This sample size is incredibly tiny, and he could very well derail the entire stat by only making half of them in the remaining 23 games. If his free throws in the recent Jazz game are any gauge though, his mechanics do seem to be improved. If you do watch the video linked above, there is a consistent form and routine being seen in the way he follows through with the shot.

Long story short: it could be luck, but I doubt it.

Shot distribution and accuracy

Rondo has always been known as a brilliant passer and finisher at the rim, and much less of a shooting threat, be they three-pointers or mid-range jumpers. Of course, he proved Miami wrong by burying mid-range jumpers when they sagged off him during the 2012 playoffs, but that’s been an anomaly from Rondo and his cheat code playoffs mode, rather than a consistent statistic.

In 2011/12, his right elbow jump shot was a reliable but seldom used option (23 /41), with the bulk of his shots being near the rim (176/340) – floaters, putbacks, twisty layups off the glass, the occasional dream shake and all that. Everything else was a quirky and unreliable go-to option.

Rajon Rondo shot chart 2011/12

Rajon Rondo shot chart 2011/12

In 2012/13, things began to change. Despite not finishing the season (38 games played compared to 53 in 2011/12), Rondo’s mid-range shots around the FT line improved in both volume and accuracy, most especially the right elbow.

Rajon Rondo shot chart 2012/13

Rajon Rondo shot chart 2012/13

This season?

  • In only 13 games, he’s already hit the same amount of three pointers straight up (the zone facing the basket), that he did in 2011/12 and 2012/13 combined. That’s a total of 91 games, mind you. Put it to a combination of three factors: team direction, Rondo’s confidence and his improved shot mechanics.
  • It’s also evident that he hasn’t quite regained his speed and mobility, which accounts for the reduced field goal percentage around the rim. Not being able to sidestep and flash by defenders at top speed would tend to make one miss more layups – just saying.
Rajon Rondo shot chart 2013/14 as at 25 Feb 2014

Rajon Rondo shot chart 2013/14 as at 25 Feb 2014

In terms of distribution: he’s taking 23.28% of his shots at the three point line this season, compared to 10.75% in 2012/13 and 7.34% in 2011/12. Clearly, Rondo’s working hard to dispel the defensive myth about “giving Rondo space to shoot because he’s a bad shooter”, and making teams rethink their Rondo-oriented defensive strategies. Rondo hasn’t regained the fluid movement he had pre-ACL tear, but it’s going to be interesting to see how much space opposing teams will give him in the months ahead.

Assists

This wouldn’t be much of a Rondo article if we ignored Rondo’s most valuable trait on the floor. Having averaged 11.7 and 11.1 assists per game in the past two seasons, he’s currently on 7.8 dimes per game, with 10+ assists coming from 6 of his 7 recent games.

Some other interesting numbers (reference):

  1. The team averaged 19.45 assists per game before Rondo’s return, and is currently dishing close to 22 assists in the past 17 games since his return.
  2. Out of the 395 assists made by the team since his return, Rondo’s made 102 – that’s more than a quarter of them.
  3. Similarly, the team’s assist % has risen from 53.52% to 60.52%, which speaks volumes about the increased number of assisted team baskets.

What the numbers don’t describe though, is the sheer joy of seeing Rondo make the right plays and find a teammate for open baskets, something that has been sorely missed when he went down last season. That “point guard by committee” thing last year? Most definitely a failed experiment.


Despite all the positive signs, it’s still too early to say for certain how well Rondo’s recovered. The true test will come soon enough once March hits, when the Celtics run the gauntlet and go through a punishing schedule with contenders (Warriors, Pacers, Suns, Heat) and tough matchups (Pistons, Nets, Bulls) throughout the month.

Be sure to refer to the flowchart and stay positive, but more importantly, keep your eyes peeled and observe how Rondo and the team fare against tough competition. This season is all about growth, and that’s all the silver lining we need right now. May the return of Mr Triple Double be swift, and certain.

Rondo eyes new deal but can Boston deliver?

Before the Boston Celtics’ 101-83 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder, newly-minted captain Rajon Rondo had admitted that he wanted to stay with the team, but the question worrying some fans is how realistic is this?

Not again!

Not again!

Rondo admitted to NBA betting pundits that he did not want to leave Boston any time soon, and that enough could give some fans the boost they need. But of course, things aren’t that straightforward.

The point guard has had a long-running affection with the club, after joining them in 2006 following a trade from the Phoenix Suns. Within the year, he had established himself as the starting point guard, and won his first NBA championship in 2008.

Danny Ainge confirmed to The Sports Hub that he has made an extension to Rondo, but the problem may lie with his valuation to the club. His ACL injury last year could have caused problems but Ainge’s stance seems to suggest this won’t matter. Due to the NBA’s CBA rules, Rondo could miss out on a bigger contract in the next few years.

The best option for now seems to be to play the waiting game. The club have stuck by him during his injury lay-off and the fans now must hope a deal can be struck. Rondo needs to return to his best form, and, with his ability, there’s no reason to suggest he wouldn’t.

Quite simply, with the line betting still predicting a difficult season for Boston, Ainge needs to work his magic to make Rondo a Celtic for the rest of his career.

Did we witness the Celtics’ best first quarter of the season?

11 August 2013, game 21 of the NBA 2013/14 season: a brief moment in a long 82-game season that should be treasured.

Today’s first quarter against the Nuggets has encapsulated some of the most beautiful basketball we’ve seen from this season’s Celtics so far. The C’s performed brilliantly on offense and defense, kicking the game off with a 39-15 scoreline. Considering how the average score per NBA quarter usually hovers about the 25-point mark, a 24-point lead only happens with the help of several contributing factors.

So, what actually happened?

Sharing the rock

The ball was moving decisively. Spacing was good, passing lanes were visible without guys being obviously marooned. There was a concerted effort to get the ball into the post, which further improved spacing at the perimeter, which led to open shots and so on. You’re not going to get an assist if your teammate starts pounding the ball all by himself, andthen abruptly pulls up for a shot in a show of one-on-one prowess. If nothing else, the 10 assists notched in this quarter are an indicator of selfless team passing.

The passing obviously helped Avery’s shooting a great deal. Ever since his reversion to the 2 guard, he has regained his former confidence on defense, and is an absolute gunner on offense these days. Check out his shot chart so far. (Green denotes a shooting % above the league average.)

Avery Bradley's shot chart as at 11 Aug 2013 - from stats.nba.com

Avery Bradley’s shot chart as at 11 Aug 2013 – from stats.nba.com

While he hasn’t been a Ray Allen clone on the three balls, he’s been burying the long 2′s at an amazingly efficient rate. Give AB a high screen, and he’s ready to make that one dribble to the side, get some space and pull the trigger. Either that, or he’s cutting without the ball to get open shots, something we all know he’s always been good at. Cutting however, is useless without the right pass being made. It points out once more that good passing is being established, which in turn gives the guys their open shots.

Defensive rebounding

Best of all, we saw the rebounding. Brilliant, brilliant defensive rebounding. The new Celtics are not a hulking team like the Detroit Pistons (our starting center is a 6’9″ Jared Sullinger; an average NBA center’s height would be closer to 6″11′), but under Brad Stevens’ direction, there has been a visible and intense focus on team rebounding, especially on the guards helping to corral defensive boards. We see this in action, especially when top rebounders for the game in the first quarter were Avery Bradley (4) and Jordan Crawford (4). 15 total rebounds for the team, with 8 taken by your guards. I have to say, that’s a solid sign of team rebounding in action. Your big men box opposing bigs out, and the guards are free to charge in and nab them loose balls.

“… And it’s good that our guards rebound, because they need to rebound for us to win. – Brad Stevens, Jordan Crawford nets triple-double as Boston Celtics pound Cleveland Cavaliers: ‘Jordan Crawford had 11 rebounds?’ Brad Stevens quips

Apart from defensive rebounding, the overall defense has been solid effort, especially transition defense. No open layups!

Staying careful

We ended the first quarter with only one turnover. ONE. TURNOVER. Let that sink in for a bit. That solitary TO came early in the game from a bad JC pass, who lobbed a pass to a waiting Sully on the block but rifled it a tad too high, which ended up flying out of bounds.

Crawford TO pass to Sully

Crawford TO pass to Sully

Not a live ball TO, no transition. Lesser impact, especially when we’re talking about a fast-paced team like Denver.

On a Celtics team where we have been used to seeing double-digit TOs every single game, having only ONE bloody turnover in 12 minutes shows just how crisp and well-directed the ball movement was. Badly co-ordinated passes lead to turnovers. Stagnant ball movement leads to turnovers. Aggressive defense leads to turnovers.  If you want to stay pessimistic though, put the blame on how awful the Denver defense was at disrupting the offense.

That being said, the team’s averaging 16.2 TOs so far, unlike last season when the C’s made 14.5 TOs per game. While this ugly number is putting them at only rank 26 in the league, there’s definitely room for improvement in this area.


Of course, we had a lot of help from Denver in their decidedly awful shooting and bad luck, but credit must be given where it’s due. The Celtics played well, and while no one’s holding their breath for this to happen every night, it is most definitely a silver lining moment for a young team finding its identity under a new coach, when they manage to pull out twelve minutes of splendid basketball like this.

Are the Celtics worth a shot?

celtics_heat

If you love a really longshot punt, the Boston Celtics are available at up to 150-1 with some online bookmakers to win the Eastern Conference.

This might fairly reflect our chances of winning. After all, ahead of us in the betting are some pretty warm favourites in the shape of Miami Heat at just less than even money. The betting market then graduates out to the Indiana Pacers, through to the Chicago Bulls, the Brooklyn Nets, the New York Knicks, the Atlanta Hawks, the Detroit Pistons, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Washington Wizards and the Toronto Raptors – and only then do we get to the Celtics at 11th.

So obviously, you’d have to be just about the most optimistic fan out there to take a punt – but it might just be an entertaining one. Under new head coach Brad Stevens, it seems that just about anything is possible. And after just about the worst conceivable start, things are now looking a lot brighter. So with cash you can comfortably afford to lose – a little bet may provide some entertainment. And there may even be a way you can get that bet for nothing. That’s because the online gambling and gaming industry is just about the most competitive business there is – so all the providers are falling over themselves in an attempt to win our business.

It’s best to go with a trusted name, though, so if you play on 32Red now, for example, and haven’t previously registered with the site, you should be able to profit immediately from a bonus payment of $32 free for each $10 deposited. In this way, you’re off to a flier straight away for sports betting and/or the site’s casino.

But remember that with any casino game the house has the edge; the “house edge” as it’s appropriately called and no matter how small this is – the laws of probability dictate that the house will gradually win out in the end. But at least by stacking the odds in your favour with the bonus cash from the off, you have a fighting chance of coming out ahead overall and reinvesting the proceeds on the Celtics. Either way, it’s a bonus well worth having and it’s kind of a double-whammy if the Celtics do well.

And who knows whether thy really can turn things round or not? The tide is certainly beginning to turn. With Kelly Olynyk and the young team around him – the Celtics today are the kind of team that will upset and delight the fans all around the globe when we least expect them to. We can both beat and lose to pretty much anyone on the day – and that makes us both fascinating and frustrating to follow. But it all adds to the spice of basketball life. And after the gutsy win over defending champions Miami Heat, anything now seems possible.

(This is a sponsored article by 32Red.)

Paul Pierce’s Injury Hurts Nets Odds Against the Celtics

The Captain.

It was revealed on Monday by the Brooklyn Nets that former Celtics player Paul Pierce had suffered a hand injury in their game against Houston, meaning he will likely miss his former team’s visit to Brooklyn next week.

With Pierce out two to four weeks with the broken bone in his right hand, bettors will be watching NBA basketball lines closely to see how the injury-depleted Nets team will be affected going forward without their star small forward.

In addition to Pierce, the Nets are currently without Deron Williams, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko.

As any Celtics fan knows, Pierce played for Boston from the time he entered the league as a 10th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Entry Draft, all the way up until he was traded to the Nets in July of this year along with Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry.

Nicknamed “The Truth” by Shaq in 2001, Pierce is in the upper echelon of a number of Celtic’s all-time records, including number one in total steals, second in points and first for the most three-point field goals as a Celtics player.

On top of those accolades, Pierce also holds the records for most points scored in a game at TD Banknorth Garden (50, February 15, 2006), most points scored by a Celtics player in one half (46, December 1, 2001) and the highest scoring average for a Boston player through one month (33.5 PPG, February, 2006).

Next Tuesday’s meeting in Brooklyn will be the first between the two teams since last summer’s trade, and Celtics fans will certainly be disappointed not to be watching Pierce — green jersey adorned or not.

The Nets, however, will be in Boston to play the Celtics on January 26 and March 7 this season. Pierce is expected to miss up to a month with his current injury, and barring any other setbacks, he should be good to go when his current team visits his former.

Rondo Aims to Avoid Rose’s Misfortune

Credit: ESPN

Credit: ESPN

Boston Celtics point guard, Rajon Rondo, hopes he does not suffer the same fate as Chicago Bulls star, Derrick Rose, who will not play again this season after having surgery to his right knee.

Rose missed the whole of last season after tearing a cruciate ligament in his left knee 18 months ago. He returned to action last month only to sustain his latest injury against the Portland Trail Blazers on 22nd November.

Rondo endured an operation on his right knee ten months ago but he is phlegmatic about the chances of him suffering the same problems as Rose.

He said:

“What’s going to happen is going to happen. It’s not like he rushed, so that’s what I’m saying. He took a long time, and still things happen.

“It’s the game we play. It’s part of it. I can come back early and do the same thing. He came back late and it happened to him. It was just unfortunate. That’s just how it is.”

Celtics coach, Brad Stevens, has confirmed that Rondo has been practicing with the rest of the team for the last month but is not yet match-sharp. The 27-year-old suffered has cruciate ligament injury in January during a match against the Miami Heat and has not played since.

Rondo was a rookie in the Celtics’ disastrous 2006-07 season when they had a 24-58 record but, just 12 months later, they surprised the NBA betting odds to become NBA champions after winning 66 of their 82 regular season matches.

Boston beat the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Detroit Pistons in the playoffs, before shocking the favourites in the line betting, the Los Angeles Lakers, 4-2 in the finals.

Rondo’s most productive season came in 2009-10 when he averaged 13.7 points in his 81 appearances for Boston.

He had the same average last season when he suffered the injury that has kept him side-lined ever since.

Is Crawford gunning more than he needs to?

Jordan Crawford has long been known as a scorer in the NBA. Since the 2013/14 season began, he has been handed the reins to the team and named as the starting point guard. This allowed Avery Bradley to step away from the one, something that allowed all of us to heave massive sighs of relief. With careful ball handling and deft passing instincts, Crawford has balanced his ball distribution duties with scoring when it was called for, a welcome sight in the Rondo-less Celtics team right now.

In the past two games however, good old Steez has shown us a seemingly marked reversion to his get-a-shot-no-matter-what-the-defense-does scoring ways. Is this a consequence of the team’s passivity, or does JC need to slam the brakes on his scoring instincts and spread the ball more?

Pacers@Celtics 22 Nov

The Pacers game yesterday had Jordan going on an incredible 8/8 at halftime, including a long three that beat the halftime buzzer.

It was quite literally the Midas touch at work; anything he touched was pure gold.

crawford_shots

The third quarter however turned out to be rather ugly, as Crawford seemed to be a little too focused on getting a shot attempt over finding the open guys like he usually did, and degenerated into what I consider a bad showing for a point guard.

The numbers speak for themselves:

  1. In the first half: 0 TOs, 8/8 FG, 1/1 FT, 3 AST
  2. In the second half: 6 TOs, 2/4 FG, 0/0 FT, 1 AST

Every turnover (especially live ball turnovers) is an open invitation for the other team to tack two points onto the scoreboard, but the onus is especially heavy on the primary ball-handler to minimise careless mistakes. Obviously, Crawford was not involved in every single TO that happened that ugly half, but he still had a hand in some of them. When your player with the highest TOs in the half turns out to be the point guard, something is wrong.

Add the fact that your point guard only made one assist in the entire half? Bad sign. While Crawford is not responsible for every assist on the team the way Rondo is, his first priority is to set up the offense, spread the ball around, and attack second. Basketball at times, is like an invisible thread that connects five men in a complicated dance. The moment one man stalls or moves out of sync, the entire team’s movement is disrupted.

Take this possession for example:

After an attempt to start offense through Green, Bass dropped it off to Crawford at the left wing. Avery set a screen for Humphries, who popped out for the post up attempt. At this point, the shot clock was at 10 seconds. Had the pass been immediately made, Hump would have had ample time to get something going, or even kick it out for a shot.

crawpacers1

Three seconds passed, Crawford thought about passing and Hump was still waiting. “GIMME THE BALL YO!”  Shot clock is at 7 seconds.

crawpacers2

Hump realised the pass was not going to happen and immediately scrambled to set a high screen, which finally got Steez moving. Shot clock is at 6 seconds.

crawpacers3

Crawford was double-teamed at the corner, forcing him into the baseline. Note that Humphries was actually open for a shot or even a layup as he rolled in. Shot clock is at 5 seconds.

crawpacers4

Crawford drove into the baseline, came back up and tried to make a shot. Note that Green and Bass (more so Bass) were both open and waiting for the shot since eons ago. Shot clock is at 3.3 seconds.

crawpacers5

Crawford lost the ball (presumably from Hibbert’s hands) and Bass fought to regain possession. He didn’t notice shot clock was at 1.7 seconds, which meant SHOOT-IT-NOW in Bass terms – he takes a while to set his shot up.

crawpacers6

Bass took a dribble, regained control of the ball at the baseline. Shot clock expired as Bass tried to put up a jumper, which sadly went in after the buzzer sounded.

crawpacers7

There was another possession in the same quarter where we found Crawford doing this:

crawpacers8

He dribbled the ball up court and immediately dove into the low post, trying to back Hill up. With the possible exception of Bass, Crawford marooned himself from every other Celtic on the court, in what could be termed best as an isolation move with plenty of time on the clock, and an Indiana defense totally keyed in and ready to help. Notice Paul George had already left Jeff Green standing all alone, deeming him as a zero factor.

To borrow a phrase from a recent How I Met Your Mother episode:

How I Met Your Mother Season 9 Episode 6 - What the damn hell?

Celtics@Hawks 23 Nov

Today’s Hawks game painted a different picture.

  1. In the first half: 2 TOs, 0/2 FG, 0/0 FT, 8 AST
  2. In the second half: 2 TOs, 3/7 FG, 6/8 FT, 2 AST

Crawford was high and dry in the first three periods (0/4 FG, 2/2 FT) while making 8 assists in the half, a very good stat.  He turned things around in the final frame however, taking it right in, either making layups or getting whistles that sent him to the free throw line.

In the fourth quarter alone: 0 TOs, 3/5 FG, 4/6 FG, 2 AST

You have to admit, 60% shot accuracy with no turnovers at crunch time is a very welcome sight. One question lingers in our minds: did he absolutely have to take those shots, and were there no better options on the court? Let’s take a look at the decisions he made in the fourth quarter.

Celtics@Hawks 23 Nov: Jordan Crawford fourth quarter possession analysis

Steez dives into the paint with three Hawks collapsing in on him, and two open shooters at the three, 12 seconds on the clock. Was it the best idea to force contact and get free throws? Not the best, but I wouldn’t fault it too much. Two free throws in the hand are worth three points in the bush.

crawhawks1

After driving past his defender, Crawford faced Pero Antic at the ready. 8 seconds left, he had to get something going quickly, and ended up settling for a forced jump shot. Could it have been better? Maybe, but I don’t see any significantly better options at that point – notice everyone was camped at the perimeter and not moving.

crawhawks2

Vitor was open and had Horford sealed away for the easy bucket. Instead, Crawford chose to drive in, with Vitor screening away Horford. I would’ve said giving it to Faverini for the shot (and free throws if a foul was called) would have been a better option.

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17 seconds on the clock, Crawford received the ball from Lee at the left wing.. and immediately threw up a three in Teague’s face, which missed. Ample time left, could have gotten a better shot. Not the best.

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Open driving lane, 10 seconds on the clock, Crawford confident that he could finish before getting the ball stuffed in his face. Should Carroll have been in position to deny the layup, Crawford still had the option to kick it to Jeff at his favourite shooting spot: the right corner 3. Good call.

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Going past a Sully high screen, Crawford found a driving lane that would be wide open after he got past Al Horford. Once again, it all came down to confidence on the layup, but he made it. Had Korver actually jumped to help, Avery would still be an option for the right corner three. I don’t mind this one.
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After a Sullinger high screen comes, Crawford drives right in, with Horford a step slow at helping. The driving lane is open, Sully (who hasn’t exactly been lighting it up from three) is open, and we need a good shot. I’m cool with this one.

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Out of seven possessions, only two were really questionable decisions. I’m not too fussed with the outcome, and conclude Crawford hadn’t taken too many unnecessary and trigger-happy shots in the Hawks game, unlike the Pacers game where he went a little off-course into his own universe after floating in the 100% FG zone. That being said, more options have to evolve out of the half-court offense we have now; a high screen and roll play is not going to last too long if the rest of the team does not work in tandem and get themselves free as second or third offensive options.

He may not be the point guard Rondo is, but in Steez we trust!

- Kein

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