Tag Archives: Jeff Green

Playoffs or Lottery?

With the first half of the season gone, and the Celtics possessing a similar record to that of last year, the same questions are being asked, what is better for the team: playoffs or lottery?

When Ainge traded away both Rondo and Green for future assets, it was assumed that the Celtics would waive the white flag this season in hopes of a high lottery pick – but after a stirring victory against the East-leading Atlanta Hawks going into the all-star break, the unlikely thought of playoffs for these stubborn Celtics in 2015 is now starting to become a reality.  But what is best for this team?  To make the playoffs or to blow it up even further for a better draft pick to keep building?  There is a valid argument to be made for both camps.

Playoffs
An unlikely run to the playoffs could have a greatly positive effect for this young Celtics team.  For starters, it would mean that our young core has stepped up, increasing their value to the team and around the league – this is especially important considering Ainge’s history of drafting/developing young talent, and then trading for a superstar.  It would also mean that Coach Brad Stevens will add another feather to his cap and pick up some valuable playoff experience whilst gaining even more recognition for the job that he has done.  Having a successful culture within the team is also critical with free agency on the horizon as potential free agents would factor this in to their decisions.
If the Celtics were to sputter down the home stretch and only make the playoffs because the lack of competition in the East, then there could be a negative effect for this team.  The team could miss out on a potential lottery pick/quality young player, they could be stuck in the dreaded land of mediocrity, or there could even be a false sense of where this team is really at.

Lottery
We have all been down this road before – Ainge guts the team, and lets them free-fall into the lottery, where we cross our fingers, cross our toes, clutch on to a rabbits foot or a four-leaf clover in hope for at least a top 3 pick in the draft.  In theory, this is a great idea, especially when the draft class is tipped to yield some potentially great players, it is a great way to acquire a franchise-altering player without having to sacrifice money/players/assets for them.
The reality is however, unless the team is bad enough (bottom 2, which the Celtics have no chance of being) – there is no guarantee that you could end up with a top 5 pick, let alone a top 3 pick.  This strategy can be flawed as the team would be relying on luck over anything else, and for the Celtics, luck has not been on their side when it comes to the lottery balls.

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“I would love to see our team in the playoffs, but I don’t want to see us back into the playoffs with a really bad record and not even have a fighting chance. If our team can keep getting better by developing, if we can make some deals at the trade deadline that put us in position to actually get into the playoffs and have a chance to win a playoff series, I think that would be a lot of fun.” – Danny Ainge, January 30th, 2015

Danny Ainge has nailed exactly how I feel with this quote.  I would love to see the Celtics reload at the trade deadline, and make a serious run for the playoffs.  Given that the Celtics have already won 20 games, and has the most games remaining against teams that are sub .500, the chance to increase lottery odds may prove quite difficult – especially with Lakers, Knicks, 76ers and Timberwolves all on 13 wins or under.  What I do not want to see however, is a team that makes the playoffs due to inferior competition, and then in turn, gets swept by a higher seed.
With the trade deadline rumours swirling all around the NBA and the Celtics in particular, it seems like it is a real possibility that the Celtics may actually pick up a piece or two to assist in a push for the playoffs which is a far cry from what direction everyone thought the team was going after trading Rondo and Green within a month of each other.

Given the position we are in, I would love to see a young, feisty team fighting all the way through for the second half of the season – we have tried to be lottery players in the past with no high picks to show for it.  As a fan, it is so much fun to watch a competitive, scrappy team fight hard and play for something meaningful every night rather than watching a lot of moral victories.  Not wanting to be mediocre is one thing, but wanting to either contend or have one of the worst records with no in between is too extreme.  Let the young guys learn, play and earn playoff experience.

What do you think is best for this Celtics team?  Would you like to see them make a run into the playoffs, or would you like to see them try their luck at a higher lottery pick?  Leave your comment below.

Olynyk has career night as Boston beat down the 76ers.

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The Celtics would be in Philadelphia looking to get back on the winners list after a couple of tough losses. They would be without guards, Marcus Smart, Marcus Thornton & James Young.

Continue reading Olynyk has career night as Boston beat down the 76ers.

Celtics end losing streak in overtime as Green drops 32 on Detroit.

The Celtics who came into this one on a 5 game losing streak would be looking to end this at home against Detroit. Helping the cause would be Marcus Smart who returned from an ankle injury that had him sidelined for 10 games.

Continue reading Celtics end losing streak in overtime as Green drops 32 on Detroit.

Celtics rally without Rondo, Smart & beat Bulls to improve to 3-3.

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In the 6th game of this early Celtics season, trying to get to .500 at 3-3, Boston would travel to Chicago without their starting Point Guard (Rajon Rondo) & backup Point Guard (Marcus Smart) leaving Evan Turner to handle the PG duties.

Continue reading Celtics rally without Rondo, Smart & beat Bulls to improve to 3-3.

Rockets stop Celtics perfect start behind Harden’s 26.

Capture

The Celtics had the tough task of going into Houston & beating Dwight & the Rockets but led by Captain Rondo they weren’t going to back down. Houston were straight out of the gates playing real aggressive & took a 16 point lead getting Olynyk in early foul trouble. Green & Bass would score 6 points for the C’s but 10 free throws & 60% shooting would have Houston up 22-37.

The 2nd started similar to the first with Houston shooting more free throws as they maintained a double digit lead. A basket by Turner halted the Rockets run & got the game back down to 16 with about half the quarter remaining. Houston would push their lead to 20 on their 21st and 22nd free throw attempts. Jeff led Boston with 8 points but the Celtics shot 0-12 from 3 & lost the rebound battle 28-15 in the first half as they trailed 38-57.
The C’s collapsed a lot in the first half when going for the double team, not getting back out to the wide open shooters.

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Screenshot by Justin

The 3rd quarter started ugly for both sides but the Celtics managed to go on a 9-0 run, led by Sullinger to climb within 13. Sullinger was hitting the offensive glass consistently to start the quarter & getting second chance points as his 5th rebound & 7th point of the quarter would have the Rockets calling a timeout as Boston made a game of it. Bradley & Zeller picked up their 5th fouls as Harden shot his 13th & 14th free throws for the night to give the Rockets back an 18 point lead. Boston would head to the 4th down 19 as Harden was leading the way with 26.

The 4th had begun & JET would hit a 3 for the Rockets. Rondo’s layup would cut the Rockets lead to 16 & give the Celtics some hope with 8 minutes still to go. Houston responded immediately & pushed the lead back to 22. Jones knocked down a 3 that put the Rockets up by 26. Jeff Green capped of a 5-0 run by the Celtics with a 3, Boston’s first of the night with 4:10 left. Houston shot 40 free throws during the game to win 90-104. Green led Boston with 17.

Boston shot 1-25 from 3 shot 22 less free throws.

Full time statistics:
Jeff Green 17 points, 4 rebounds , 2 assists
Jared Sullinger 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists
Rajon Rondo 4 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists
Kelly Olynyk 8 points, 5 rebounds
Brandon Bass 8 points, 5 rebounds
Evan Turner 8 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists
Tyler Zeller 8 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assists
Marcus Thornton 9 points
James Young 6 points

A highlight of the game for the Celtics was a lovely spin move by Sullinger that got him this wide open look

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Screenshot by Justin

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Screenshot by Justin

Captain Rajon Rondo & Brad Stevens during the 4th quarter

The Road Ahead – How will the Boston Celtics go this season?

With our first proper look at the roster after an impressive season opener, what is to follow for the Celtics in 2014-2015?

In a preseason where fans expected fireworks and a top 3 pick, there was disappointment as the off-season brought the Celtics the 6th pick and low-key opportunistic moves.  This wasn’t from lack of trying by Danny Ainge and management as the Celtics were one of the most active, trying to land a big fish to pair with Rondo to turbo-charge the rebuild.  Once it became apparent that our assets were not as highly valued as we thought, the Celtics held steady – finding bargains wherever they could.  By doing this, Ainge has been able to put forth a roster that is more balanced than last year, while not sacrificing anymore cap space beyond this season.  Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Celtics in season #2 of the rebuild:

 

Front Office:

With the roster looking more rounded, Danny is still a fair way away from the finished product.  What he has done so far is just collect assets, and flipping them for more valuable assets.  The hope here is that these young assets turn out to be legitimate players and once this occurs, he can then decide on whether or not he builds around the young core, or sells the farm in hope of landing other stars.  All options are currently still open – much like Houston before they landed James Harden, which is where the Celtics are at right now.  Houston had a young, gritty team that remained competitive, but, because they kept their options open, they were able to swing for the fences and land James Harden, followed by Dwight Howard.

Although the roster makes more sense this year, look for Danny to trade away a veteran or two throughout the season, with Bass/Thornton being the prime candidates due to their expiring contracts.  There is also the small fact that our star point guard, Rajon Rondo is in the final year of his contract too, so brace yourself for another season full of Rondo trade rumours – it is difficult to see any team offering enough to Danny Ainge to pull the trigger on any Rondo trade, ultimately keeping him in green.

NBA: Boston Celtics-Brad Stevens-Press Conference

Coaching:

Besides Rondo, the biggest drawcard for potential future free agent signings could very well be Brad Stevens.  He has managed to turn discards such as Jordan Crawford and Kris Humphries into players that other teams wanted and he already looks to be doing the same with Evan Turner this year.  He seems to have the full trust of his squad and enjoys a great relationship with Rondo, who has been reported as ‘difficult’ time and time again.

With his first year now in the rear-view mirror, Coach Stevens now knows how the NBA games go, he knows exactly he wants and what buttons to push with certain players.  His players have spoken about the difference between Coach Stevens this season compared to last and show full confidence in his ability to lead the team as he tries to get this team running like the Spurs “Lite”.

 

Players:

Though starved of top-end talent, the Celtics do boast a legitimately deep squad where we see a minimal drop off between the 4th to 10th player in the squad.  Here are the players to watch out for during the season:

Rajon Rondo: With more time removed from his ACL injury in early 2013, Rondo looks to get back to his All-Star best.  Although he suffered a minor setback breaking his hand, he is ready to prove his doubters wrong and be the leader and star that this team needs.  Being in his contract year, he will be desperate to remind everybody in the league that he is still one of the best point guards in the NBA.  Questions were asked on whether or not he can play in Brad Stevens’ offense and after the season opener yesterday, it is safe to say that he will have no problems in that system.  Rondo’s biggest question mark is injuries – once thought of as durable player, he has missed 29, 44 & 52 games respectively in the previous three seasons, will he be able to stay relatively healthy this year?

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Avery Bradley: Can Bradley live up to the 4 year, $32m extension he signed over the off-season?  That will be the question people will ask of him throughout the duration of his contract.  Avery has looked to re-dedicate himself back to his bread and butter, his defence whilst further working on his 3 point shot which is not to be ignored by other defences.  At the young age of 23, Bradley is already one of the leaders of the team as he is entering his 5th season, being the 2nd longest tenured Celtic (behind Rondo).  With Bradley playing exclusively at the shooting guard role, he should further flourish under Brad Stevens – and wreak havoc defensively with Rondo and Smart to play next to.

Jared Sullinger: After his first fully healthy summer as a pro, Sully worked tirelessly on both his fitness base, and his 3 point shooting during the off-season, it showed in the pre-season, as he was the best on the team averaging a double-double in under 28 minutes per game.  Fairly or not, Sully was judged critically last season mainly due to his lack of conditioning after missing a large part of the off-season due to back surgery.  Fans can only hope that he takes the next leap to a double-double machine in the regular season, and even  pushes for a potential all-star selection.  He is one of the most important players on the roster due to his leadership and natural feel of the game – he is the team’s best rebounder and is also an underrated passer.  If his conditioning will allow him to play at a high level for 30+ minutes per game, he could very well be in the running for most improved player, as some experts have predicted.

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Kelly Olynyk: Olynyk will be looking to build on the end of last season, where we saw him string together an impressive set of performances averaging 25.7 points (on 53.4% shooting), 9.3 Rebounds and 3.7 assists in just under 35 minutes in his final 3 games to close the season out.  While Olynyk has always been sound offensively, coming into his rookie season, criticism has come from the defensive end of the floor – where people question whether he was quick enough to guard fours, or strong enough to guard fives.  His rookie season did nothing to silence the critics defensively – although he wasn’t as bad as advertised, he clearly needed to work on that end of the ball.  Coming into this season, we can see that Olynyk has worked on his body as he trimmed some fat and added muscle, making him better equipped to handle the defensive duties.  Due to his range of skill, including his shooting/driving and passing ability, look for Olynyk to be a big part of the Celtics revamped offense as he has locked up the starting Centre spot.

Marcus Smart: The Celtics prized rookie has been just as good on defence as advertised, with some experts even picking him as a potential Rookie of the year candidate.  Smart has the tools to be able to contribute straight away on the defensive end, but, his offense has looked shaky at times.  As Smart plays more games, he looks to be getting more and more comfortable with his role and what he is supposed to be doing out on the court.  Will he be able to offensively impact a game and run the team?  If Smart can continue to develop his shot and show steady improvement, the sky is the limit for this prized rookie.  With a healthy squad, Smart looks to be the 6th man for this team.

Boston Celtics Unveil New Draft Picks

Evan Turner: There was no real excitement in the air when the Celtics made the low key signing of Evan Turner for 2 years, $3m per.  This was looked at as a low risk/high reward signing after Turner’s value plummeted to an all-time low following his season/playoffs in Indiana.  In pre-season, coach Stevens had Turner playing all positions from 1-3 with great success, can this equate to the regular season, and will Turner be able to run the point as good as he did in college, where he was 2010 NCAA Big 10 top scorer and National Player of the Year en route to being the #2 pick in 2010?  For the relatively low salary he is on, Turner can turn out to be a bargain as he now has a coach/system where his potential could actually be fulfilled.

Marcus Thornton: Marcus Thornton has been a pleasant surprise for the Celtics, being the spark plug off the bench with lights out shooting and deserves a special mention, but given the logjam at the guard spots, and his expiring contract, is he playing his way out of Boston, or will he be a major part of the team for the whole season?

Every player on the Celtics roster has questions against their names.  Can Zeller be the centre that the Celtics so desperately need?  Will Thornton/Bass be on the team after the trade deadline?  Will Jeff Green be more aggressive and average 20+ ppg?  Will James Young show enough to get regular minutes?  Can Vitor come back and excite everyone like he did early last season?


At times this season, this young Celtics team will be fun to watch with high energy D, fast paced action, and 3 point barrages.  Given the average age of the team, there will be games that we would like to forget, but, expect a more competitive team compared to last year.  For this season, the Celtics have a near 100% Rondo, an extra year experience for Coach Stevens, and extra year for our young veterans, and 2 rookies who have tremendous upside.  The Celtics may not be contenders, nor they likely may not make the playoffs (I hope I’m wrong), but there is enough talent there to be cautiously optimistic about this team for the upcoming season.

I predict that the Celtics record for the upcoming season will be: 35-47.

What about you?  How do you think the Celtics will go this season?