Green Kick Of The Week ft. Avery Bradley’s No Mercy’s

The 2013-14 season for the Celtics is winding down. Whilst their record isn’t pretty, there have been plenty of positives. The return of Rajon Rondo and the emergence of Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk have been some of my personal highlights.

Another highlight has been watching Avery Bradley find his shooting stroke. He has been especially terrific in the last week. His game against the Heat was tremendous; draining 6 three pointers, and totaling 23 points. He followed that up with another huge performance against Brooklyn. He scored 28 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.

credit: solecollector.com

credit: solecollector.com

Bradley wore an awesome par of kicks against Brooklyn. This weeks winner of Green Kick Of The Week is Avery Bradley and his very bright pair of Adidas ‘No Mercy’ kicks. He also laced them up on St Patrick’s Day against Dallas.

Bradley has now won back-to-back KOTW‘s after taking out last weeks competition with his Crazy 1′s. In my opinion, the Adidas No Mercy’s were a  great choice by Avery. The bright green and black colourway are a great match with the C’s uniform.

credit: @keezcam

credit: @keezcam

More importantly, Avery has been playing great in these kicks.

Do you think Avery should keep ‘em or dump ‘em?

Celtics rain 3′s, cool Heat.

Game 69 of 82: Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics

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The LeBron-less Miami came out on fire, connecting on 6 of their first 7 shots as they took a 12-7 lead at the first timeout. The Celtics responded, tying the game on a Jeff Green 3 at 14-14. The Heat then went on a 9-0 run before Sullinger nailed a 3, which he followed up with yet another shot from deep shortly after. Miami closed the quarter on a 18-6 run led by Haslem’s 12 points , Chalmer’s 8 assists & took a 34-22 lead at the end of 1.

The second quarter seemed to be all about the three ball. Boston started the second frame on a 9-5 run to cut the Heat lead to 9 on an Avery 3 with 8:44 left in the half. Bayless & Avery nailed back to back 3’s for the Celtics to get the Heat lead down to 6 with 6 left in the half. Ray scored for the Heat & KO followed with a 3 to cut it down to 3. Miami pushed the lead back to 7 on a Wade jumper. The Celtics outscored Miami 31-25 & trailed 59-53 at the half.

Halftime statistics:

  • Celtics 9-18 from 3, Miami 1-5
  • Heat shot 56%, Celtics 48%
  • Miami 32 points in the paint, Celtics 8

The Celtics began the second half on a 10-2 run to take a 2 point lead after AB scored 6 straight, followed by a Green layup that forced a Miami timeout. Miami responded with a 6-0 run to lead by 4. The Celtics answered with a 6-0 run to retake the lead. Avery nailed a 3 to give the Celtics a 4 point lead before Norris Cole and Ray Allen hit 3′s with a Bass basket in between to tie things back up. The Celtics had 4 tries of it to end the quarter but couldn’t get a shot to fall & Boston led 80-78 after 3, outscoring Miami 19-27 in the quarter.

The Celtics pushed their lead to 5 with 9:30 left with 2 Sullinger free throws. Avery hit his 6th 3 on the night, followed by a Rondo jumper to put the Celtics up 6. Ray Allen tied the game with a pair of free throws with 4:30 left. Green hit a 3 and Rondo forced a jump ball against Haslem, won it & scored to put the Celtics up 5 with 1:44 left. Wade cut it to 3 but Rondo answered with a jumper to put the C’s on top by 5 with 18 seconds left. Miami missed a 3 & the Celtics, with some quick passing, Miami couldn’t foul & Boston ran out the clock & won it 101-96.

Turning point: with the Celtics up 3 and Haslem grabbed an offensive board in the final 2 minutes, took a risk with 5 fouls & forced a jump ball. Rondo won the jump ball & scored at the other end.

Bonus: Rondo highlight reel!

Notable statistics:

  • Celtics shot 51%, Heat 49%
  • Heat had 81FGA, Celtics 77
  • Celtics 13-28 from 3, Heat 4-17
  • Miami 37 rebounds, Celtics 36
  • Celtics & Miami had 29 assists
  • Miami 50-20 in points in the paint

Player stat lines:

  1. Rajon Rondo: 9-10-15
  2. Avery Bradley: 23-4
  3. Brandon Bass: 18-4
  4. Jeff Green: 13-4-3
  5. Jared Sullinger: 14-4-3
  6. Kelly Olynyk 10-5

Green Kick of the Week ft. Avery Bradley’s Adidas Crazy 1′s

Avery Bradley made his long-awaited return against the Suns last week. Whilst it took him some time to find his groove, he did have a solid hit out for his first game in over a month.

He made his return in a GOLD pair of Adidas Crazy 1 “Awards Season” kicks. These kicks were more than enough for Bradley to claim his first Green Kick Of The Week title for season 2013-14.

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Bradley wore these sneakers earlier in 2014, but there was some tougher competition that week. As you can tell from the photos, these kicks stand out from the crowd with their gold and white outer.

The Adidas Crazy 1 was a perfect choice for Avery; they are a great match with the Celtics new sleeved St. Patrick’s Days uniform.

Capture

What are your thoughts on these kicks? Do you think ‘The Game Changer’ should keep ‘em or dump ‘em?

Injury Woes Leave Bradley Frustrated

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

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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.

Navigating The Rest Of Season 2013/14

As the February trade deadline passed and no moves were made by Danny Ainge since mid-January, the 2013/14 version of the Boston Celtics won’t be one of the most memorable teams in the franchise’s decorated history. Since the beginning of the season and the appointment of rookie Coach Brad Stevens, this season was always about development and working towards something great in the near future. With 23 games remaining and injuries mounting, surely it is time to throw caution to the wind and see what the more inexperienced players have in their arsenal.

With the news Gerald Wallace may miss the final seven weeks of the season, an opportunity for substantial playing time is now up for grabs. As Avery Bradley will return soon, most minutes will be distributed to Jerryd Bayless, Kelly Olynyk and Kris Humphries (in addition to the starting five of Rondo, Bradley, Green, Bass and Sullinger). This is assuming all players will be available to play at the same time, something that has been a rare occurrence with the amount of injuries this team has been dealt with.

This leaves a great opportunity for the likes of Chris Johnson, Phil Pressey and 10-day contract recipient Chris Babb to compete for extended minutes at the guard/forward positions.

Phil Pressey has shown flashes of the player he can become, starting in place of Rajon Rondo on second nights of back-to-backs and playing with the composure required of an NBA-calibre point guard. In January, an impressive night against Toronto in his first career start saw him dish out 10 assists with 0 turnovers, followed later in the week by a 20 point and 4 assist outing against Washington, highlights what Pressey is capable of.

His future with the Celtics appears bright after Danny Ainge traded away Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to give the 5’11” rookie some meaningful playing time. It might be time to give Pressey a more established role behind Rajon Rondo to showcase what he can do on a consistent basis, instead of barely playing to starting from one game to the next.

Chris Johnson really forced his way onto this team, and since being signed to a multi-year deal at the beginning of February, he has continued to play hard on both ends of the floor. Playing to his strengths and knowing his limitations, Johnson would seem the most likely candidate to take the majority of Gerald Wallace’s minutes. It will be interesting to see how Johnson responds to the added responsibility.

Finally, Danny Ainge signed Chris Babb to a 10-day contract to cover the plethora of injuries the Celtics roster currently holds. Babb appeared in five preseason games for the C’s, most notably a 12-point outing in only 8 minutes of action against the Knicks, knocking down 4-5 shots from 3-point land. Babb was unlucky with the amount of guards that jammed the roster at the beginning of the season, but now finds an opportunity to show what he can do at the highest level.

Coach Stevens has been thrown many curveballs in his first season in the NBA, and has been able to navigate his way through all the surprises along the ride very well to this point. Injuries, player frustration, an imbalanced roster, and many losses have all reared their ugly heads at different times. Stevens has always preached never getting too high or too low, and has always instilled confidence into his players whilst keeping a level head at all times. He has been the perfect man for the job.

With Boston headed for the lottery in this draft, now is the time to embrace the injuries the Celtics have been handed and to identify which players will stick as the team moves forward. With a decent selection in the draft, two trade exceptions, and a huge amount of picks at his disposal, Danny Ainge is looking at who will remain in green this offseason, as the Celtics look to climb back into contention at a rapid rate.

- Michael (@mickyt34)

Positives in the Celtics’ Rebuilding Season So far

After an abysmal first half of the season, it’s important to stay positive during the Boston Celtics’ rebuilding season. Of late, the Celtics have lost 19 of their past 22 games (Currently 15-33 overall in win-losses). Statistically, that doesn’t look very good. For the morale in the locker room and the players’ mentality it probably doesn’t sit well either. From blow out losses against title contenders to buzzer beaters against struggling teams (for example the recent loss against the 76ers), we’ve seen it all. There have been a few positives to take out of this season.

Boston Celtics v EA7 Emporio Armani Milano

  1. On the bright side, we’ve watched Jared Sullinger grow into the player Danny Ainge envisioned when he was drafted 21st overall in 2012. In a season that has had more lows than highs, Sullinger has been one of the bright spots. The Celtics are currently without a pure center on their roster after assigning Faverani to the Maine Red Claws.  This has resulted in Sullinger playing out of position for a majority of the season.  However, despite this, he is still averaging 12.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in 26.6 minutes of play.  To top it all off, Sully’s efforts have been rewarded with an invitation to play in the rookie/sophomore (Rising Stars Challenge) game during the All-Star Weekend in New Orleans.
  2. Another positive to take out would be Avery Bradley. Bradley has stepped up his game since the departure of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. He struggled last season offensively after Rondo went down but boy has he stepped up thus far. With a career average of 8.5 points per game, he’s now currently averaging 14.5 points per game this season. He is also currently shooting 43.9% from the field this season.  The ability of Bradley defensively has never been questioned.  If he improves his offensive consistency and with a fit and healthy Rondo and other role players on the Celtics team, who knows what the future brings for the C’s.
  3. I would also give a shout out to Kris Humphries – a man many Celtics fans (myself included) did not want to see in green. When traded to the Celtics, he was viewed as nothing more than an expiring contract, waiting to be disposed when the right deal came along. Over the course of this losing streak, Hump has shown himself to be a reliable, consistent and valuable contributor to this Celtics team. Humphries gives it his all every time he’s on the court night in, night out and becoming a valuable contributor in the Celtics frontcourt. As a result of his contributions, fans that once booed him in the past, now cheer for him. His play has also made it quite likely he’ll remain in Boston beyond this season.
  4. The return of Rajon Rondo. Although the Celtics haven’t won since Rondo has returned, it is great to see him back playing. Not yet back to his explosive best, the Celtics are sure to turn things around once Rondo is 100%.  Time will tell when this will happen. For now it’s important that Celtics nation stays patient.
  5. Finally, I also want to give a shout out to rookie Kelly Olynyk who was selected to the rookie/sophomore game with Sullinger. Bright future ahead of him! Good pick in last year’s draft. I try not to look at the Celtics record too much and if I happen to become depressed at our current situation, I just think to myself “At least we don’t have the worst record in the league” or the best one: “At least we didn’t draft Anthony Bennett.”

What do you think has been the best silver lining for the C’s this season?

- May @mshirtad

The Bus To Banner 18

Danny Ainge is a smart man. He is always a few steps ahead of other GMs around the league. For this reason, all Celtics fans should have total confidence in where he is taking this team.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen moves made to create cap space and gather even more draft picks, leading to the departures of Courtney Lee, Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks. All signs are pointing to the future, as Ainge is shaping the roster to be prepared for the 2014 offseason and beyond.

“We have a long way to go. There’s a lot of good positive things that are happening with our team and a lot of good development with a lot of our young guys. We have some good veteran guys who have set great examples, hard-workers for our young guys. And I feel like we’re figuring out who we want on the bus.” – ESPN

Who will be on the bus that leads this team back up the conference standings and all the way to banner 18?

On The Bus

Rajon Rondo

Put all trade rumours aside, this man is going nowhere. The newly appointed Captain of the Celtics has proven over his rehabilitation that he is fully committed to Boston. He put in countless hours with the trainers, travelled with the team to support his teammates and be the leader, and was also recognised for his community work in the month of December.

Even putting all of this aside, Rondo is an All-Star point guard determined to find his open teammates rather than shoot the ball. This calibre of point guard is becoming more important and harder to find in the NBA, and Danny Ainge would only consider moving Rondo if they received a star of the game in return.

Rondo’s existing contract will be up after the 2014/15 season, but there are already whispers of a contract extension for Mr. Triple Double in the wake of his return to the floor. Expect #9 to be the co-pilot to Coach Stevens through this period.

Jared Sullinger

It’s hard to believe the big man is only in his second season. It’s even harder to believe how well he has been playing when he had an interrupted preseason as he recovered from back surgery. All signs point to continous improvement. Sully has shown great character to put aside an offseason indiscretion that could have easily derailed many athletes, and his commitment to keep improving should see Sullinger remain in green for a long time.

Phil Pressey

The question Celtic fans keep asking is: How did this guy go undrafted? The calming influence Pressey plays with shows maturity beyond his rookie status, and the good news is he will only improve with more experience. Having great court vision allows Pressey to find his open teammates, while his ability to dish out on-target assists is reminiscent of another point guard on this roster.

A contract that could see him with the Celtics for three seasons on low money indicate the confidence Ainge showed in Pressey from the outset, and after trading away Jordan Crawford to give him more minutes, all signs point to Pressey being on the bus for the future as a great foil to Rondo.

Kelly Olynyk

Summer League. This is where rookies can showcase their potential, and Olynyk was better than all of his teammates and opponents in the 2013 Summer League. As is the case with many big men finding their way in the NBA, there have been growing pains as Olynyk’s physicality and rebounding ability have come into question, which is all part of being a rookie.

He has shown flashes of brilliance, and an occasional ability to light up the scoring sheet already in his short career. His calm demeanour underneath the basket and high basketball IQ have been highlights of Olynyk’s game thus far. The only way Kelly will be out of Boston would be in a blockbuster-type trade as a trade chip, which is all speculation at this stage.

Waiting At The Depot

Avery Bradley

Bradley has had a very consistent season on both ends of the court. He has proven his ability to knockdown mid-range jumpers off the dribble, off screens and the catch and shoot, keeping his opponent honest defensively.

This improvement on the offensive side of the ball has been good for the Celtics this year, but Bradley will head into the 2014 offseason as a Restricted Free Agent. It will be interesting to see how much teams are prepared to offer Bradley. The financial side of basketball may become too much for Ainge to keep Bradley on board. Watch this space.

Kris Humphries

Remember when Boston fans had reservations surrounding this man playing for our team? With Rondo? What a difference 6 months makes. Humphries has been a true professional in his entire time with the Celtics. He began the season warming the bench and logging DNP’s, but he kept his mouth shut and worked his way into the rotation, then as the first big off the bench, to become the starting centre on this team.

Leading via hard work is crucial for a veteran, as it sets a great example for his young teammates. His upbeat personality and hustle on the floor actually have Celtic fans and reporters reconsidering Hump’s future with this team. Originally, the general consensus was to trade away Humphries and his expiring contract before February’s trade deadline. Now we are wondering whether Ainge may decide to bring him back next season. Things will become much clearer next month.

Jeff Green

As we saw against Washington, Ironman is capable of big scoring nights. When he plays with aggression, he is one of the best small forwards in the league. The problem for Uncle Jeff lies with his inconsistency. Some nights he can be unstoppable, other nights he is barely sighted.

It is this inconsistency that has brought his name up in trade rumours in the past week, and why he was mentioned when the Rockets were shopping Omer Asik in December. Green would be a great foil on a contending team, but more likely as a role player than a starter. It remains to be seen whether Green will stick with the Celtics in the long run.

Vitor Faverani

El Hombre Indestructible started the season in great fashion, posting big numbers in points and boards before crashing back to earth. Now buried on the bench, Vitor is with the Celtics on a cheaper contract, and should stick with the team unless he is part of a trade package.

Jerryd Bayless

Acquired only two weeks ago in a trade for Courtney Lee, Danny Ainge holds Bayless in high regard. Capable of posting big numbers off the bench, he is a proficient ball-handler and is still relatively young for his experience. A free agent at season’s end, Balyess has spoken of his desire to stick with the Celtics beyond this year.

Gerald Wallace

While there are many people who would be incredibly happy to see Crash leaving Beantown, it is very unlikely due to his awful contract. While he can provide leadership to this young team, Wallace has called out his teammates publicly on numerous occasions and it is something that has worn pretty thin with fans. Unless a rival GM goes temporarily insane, the Celtics will be stuck with this contract until it expires at the end of the 2014/15 season.

Joel Anthony

The two-time NBA champion came to Boston with draft picks to relieve Miami of luxury tax issues last week. A solid veteran presence, Anthony’s game is based on defending and rebounding. He holds a player option of $3.8 million for next season, and from a financial perspective it would make sense for Anthony to pick up this option. Luckily Anthony is a professional who will always support his team regardless of his personal situation.

Brandon Bass

It’s becoming increasingly likely that this hard worker won’t remain with the Celtics beyond this year. With Kris Humphries providing a veteran presence to Sullinger and Olynyk, it’s hard to see where Bass can fit into this team’s future. On a reasonable contract, Bass would be a nice complementary piece to a contending team. While his service to the team over the past three seasons has been solid, and at times undervalued, it would appear his days may be numbered.

End Of The Line

Keith Bogans

An expiring contract and being excused indefinitely due to being upset with a lack of playing time? All signs point to the relationship between Bogans and the Celtics ending very soon.

It will be interesting to watch the next month unfold for Danny Ainge and the Celtics. After the success of Shavlik Randolph’s 10-day contract last season and the surprise play of Chris Johnson this week, it’s no surprise if Ainge continues to plug holes in the roster along the way.

Things will become much clearer after the trade deadline passes. Holding a $10 million exception and an abundance of draft picks to exchange, we will be keeping a keen eye on who will find themselves a seat on the Celtics’ bus to banner #18.

- Michael (@mickyt34)

Is Lee the first Domino to fall?

In a season where it was widely expected that the Celtics would be active in the trade market, the first in-season move has been made. The Celtics have traded Courtney Lee to the Memphis Grizzlies for Jerryd Bayless (and Ryan Gomes from OKC who was immediately waived). What can we tell from this move? Was this a basketball decision or a financial decision? Does this make the Celtics buyers, or sellers? Is this the first domino to drop for this Celtics team?

NBA: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks

Firstly, this absolutely was a financial move. Courtney Lee has 2 years and approximately $11 million ($5.225 million per season) remaining after this season on his current contract, whilst Jerryd Bayless is in the final year of his contract with $3 million owing to him this season. It is well documented that with this trade, the Celtics will trim off future money with this deal. As it currently stands, the Celtics will have approximately $40 million in cap space heading into next season –a little under $50 million if you count the first round picks and cap holdings– so this leaves us with a lot of room to resign either Bradley/Crawford, or even both if desired, giving some wiggle room to sign lower level free agents. The Celtics prior to the trade were a mere $500K away from the tax line – crossing this line would see the Celtics pay luxury tax, which for the current team is something they will avoid like the plague. Because the Celtics sent more in salary than they received, they were able to step away from the ledge a little – this could prove handy in future trades as it gives the team more flexibility to take a little more salary back if necessary to make numbers work.

From a basketball standpoint, both players are averaging similar numbers, with Bayless averaging 8ppg in 21mpg, and Lee with 7.4ppg in 17mpg. The biggest statistical difference with these players is efficiency – with Lee entering his prime at 28, he’s enjoying his most efficient season as a pro, averaging 44% from beyond the arc, and 16ppg per 36 which are both career highs – whilst Bayless is shooting at a terrible 37.5% field goal with an even worse 28% from 3 point land. While Lee is the better player in this trade, he is earning more and his contract runs longer than Bayless’, so this was a basketball move for Memphis, recognising that they need more shooters to spread the floor and a financial move for Boston, recognising that they need to shed themselves of long term salary to continue the rebuild.

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Credit to @Lil_Kaino for the artwork.

In a previous article asking whether or not the Celtics would be buyers or sellers, it seems that the Celtics are going to be sellers this season as Lee has been better than Bayless this season on both ends of the floor. This will be the first of many similar moves in the season for the Celtics to gain financial freedom. The Celtics have an abundance of veterans on the team that could find themselves relocated by the February trade deadline, which include:

  • Brandon Bass – He has been having one of his best seasons as a pro and has a reasonable contract (1 year, over $6 million remaining after this season). Bass has been one of the most consistent performers in this Celtic team, unfortunately he is playing a position that the Celtics are stacked in, especially with the need to develop the younger talent in Sullinger and Olynyk who both are PF. As his name has already been in the trade rumours this season, expect Ainge to move Bass during the course of the season.
  • Kris Humphries – As mentioned previously, Hump has been playing some outstanding ball for the Celtics lately. He came over strictly as an expiring contract (over $12 million coming off the books) but has since become an important piece to the team. He runs hard, can knock down jump shots, and he attacks the boards hard. Unless Ainge includes Hump into a deal to get an all-star, or future picks, there’s a possibility that Hump may actually stay – purely because his contract coming off the books next season maybe be more valuable than what Ainge could get back.
  • Jordan Crawford – One of the biggest surprises this season has been the emergence of Jordan Crawford. He has surprised the whole league with his stellar play at point guard in the absence of Rajon Rondo. With Bayless on the team now, they share a similar skill set – because the Celtics cannot trade a freshly acquired player for 3 months, this could possibly make Crawford redundant once Rondo returns. Danny bought low on Crawford last season and if he has a chance to sell high on him, I would expect him to take it (for the record, I would take Steez over Bayless any day of the week).
  • Jeff Green –  Green is not necessarily the trade spotlight, but he is a player that a lot of teams would/have shown interest in acquiring.  With his shoot/slash game, size and ability to defend, and the fact that he is on a reasonable contract, Danny wouldn’t just let him go for a salary dump as he is worth more than that – we would have to get a player back that is clearly an upgrade to Jeff.
  • Gerald Wallace – Danny would obviously love to move Wallace and that horrendous remaining 3 years/$10 million contract that he is on. Reality is, unless we are giving up a first pick, or a star such as Rondo, there is no incentive for any team to take him.
  • Keith Bogans/MarShon Brooks – Bogans would be included in a trade purely to make up numbers, just like he was in the Nets/Celtics trade as there is simply no demand for him. For MarShon however, this trade could benefit him as he has moved up the SG depth with Lee traded. Hopefully he gets some burn with the Celtics so they can proper evaluate him to see if he is a future piece, or trade bait.
  • Rajon Rondo – It wouldn’t be much of a trade article if we don’t talk about Rondo being traded, would it? As stated, the Celtics would absolutely rather build around Rondo rather than trade him. Ainge would have to be blown out of the water by an offer, which would have to include the following: a young star/future picks/expiring contracts – coupled with the other teams’ willingness to take Gerald Wallace’s poisonous contract off our hands.

Look for the Celtics to be active in the trade market, especially when it gets closer to the trade deadline and other teams are under pressure to land veteran help.
Courtney Lee by all accounts looked to be a great teammate and competitor and us Celtic fans appreciated his play and determination. He should fit in great at Memphis as a shooter and defender – we wish him all the best.

Lee is the first domino to fall, who’s next?

Leave your opinions below.

- Dave Mikhael @big_dave31

Winds of change: Are the C’s buying or selling?

“We are not tanking, that’s ridiculous.  This is the Boston Celtics” – Danny Ainge

dannyainge

When Pierce and KG were traded to the Nets (for picks and spare parts), it seemed inevitable that the Celtics were going to “tank” in the ‘13/’14 season.  With a lopsided roster and their superstar point guard rehabilitating, it only made sense to perhaps mail it in this season in hopes of landing a high lottery pick in the deep 2014 draft.  The Celtics were supposed to be sellers this season, looking to offload any of their veterans to teams that are playoff bound for picks/salary relief.  With a quarter of the season done, the Celtics has been one of the biggest surprise teams in the league, currently sitting on top of the Titanic Atlantic division.  With the way Brad Stevens has the Celtics currently playing, this poses a question for Danny Ainge during this season: are the Boston Celtics buyers or sellers at the trade deadline?

After the horrid October/November schedule where the Celtics played a crazy 19 games (11 away) in 32 days with a first year NBA coach and without Rondo, they came out still standing at a surprising 7 wins and 12 losses.  After the top 2 teams, the Eastern conference is in a steep nosedive – couple that with the surprising surge the Celtics are on as of late without their best player in Rondo and you have a team that may very well contend for a low playoff spot.

A low playoff seed is where the Celtics don’t want to end up as it means most likely getting bounced out of the first round by either Indiana or Miami, and getting a pick in the mid to late teens.  Danny has never been a person to make a decision going on current form, every move is made solely for the betterment for the future of his team – he shook the foundation of the team to its core back in 2003 when he traded Antoine Walker fresh after the Celtics’ back to back playoff appearances.  He was convinced that the current roster was not championship material, so he went about to acquire assets and rebuild.   This roster is obviously not a championship contender, but, Ainge has a lot more pieces/assets to work with this time around.

There are a lot of teams that are looking for that one piece to give them a boost and the Celtics have a lot of players that fit that mould.  This is where Danny can come in as a seller.  Veterans such as a Brandon Bass, who is playing excellent basketball on a reasonable contract, would be a great pickup for many teams that are looking at either a starting or backup power forward, same could also be said about Courtney Lee at the shooting guard position.  There is also the most attractive asset on this roster – Kris Humphries’ $12m expiring contract – Kris Humphries has stepped right up lately and shown the league that he is not just a walking contract, he can be a valuable contributor too.

Why would Danny look to move these guys?  For vets like Bass and Lee, it could mean the following: freeing up court time to develop younger talent playing the same position, freeing up future cap room if we get a shorter deal in return, possibly land more draft picks to use or barter with or even getting back a younger player with potential upside.  For vets like Kris Humphries and even Keith Bogans to a lesser extent, the lure of an expiring contract could bring back prospects or a draft pick from a team desperate to get out of a crippling contract.  I haven’t bothered mentioning Gerald Wallace as it would be a miracle for us to shed his albatross of a contract without giving up anything major.

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If the Eastern Conference continues to stink, at what point do teams start dismantling their roster in hopes of sinking into a top lottery pick?  If Boston continues on their current upward trend whilst gaining Rondo back from injury, with all the chips they have, the Celtics could very well become buyers.  There are a few teams where the Celtics could take advantage of their situation:

  • A team that is underachieving and has a superstar that is coming up to free agency.    Think New York Knicks with Carmelo Anthony, or the Timberwolves with Kevin Love.  If these teams are convinced that their star is going to leave them high and dry in free agency, they could look to move them proactively to get some compensation back for them – imagine the James Harden trade, where OKC did just that and sent him to Houston.
  • A lowly team in the middle of the pack looking to blow it up and start from scratch.  We have already seen Toronto do this by trading Rudy Gay and making everyone except for Jonas Valančiūnas available, the Bucks or even the Hawks could be another team looking to blow it up and start from scratch.
  • Borderline contenders with assets looking for immediate help.  A team like Houston, for example, who have a big asset such as Omar Asik who they can offload for the correct package could help both us and them.

Danny Ainge has done an excellent job in gaining a number of assets, which gives him the flexibility of going many different ways.  Whether it is buying or selling, I am certain that he will be extremely patient, and will wait for exactly the right package/players that he wants.

Ultimately, I think Danny sticks with the current roster for the most part – and looks to offload some of the veterans not in the future plans for some financial relief or lower draft picks.  Having said that, with Danny Ainge you can never say never – if the right superstar is made available for the right price, expect Danny to be all over it.

What do you think Boston should do this year?  Buy, or sell?

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.

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