In this week’s addition to A Study In Green, we talk about former Celtics centre Jason Collins. Let’s see how Collins’ time with the Celtics panned out.
Collins’ strength may not appear on the stat sheets but in his time with the Celtics, he was able to demonstrate his ability as an effective defender who was able to set hard screens for the other scorers.
Although Collins has shortcomings as a player, he is universally regarded as a fantastic teammate. A great role model towards the younger players, he is the kind of guy who plays hard in practice and relishes the opportunity to mentor younger guys.
Collins is far from the best player in the NBA. In 32 games for the Celtics, which included 7 starts, he averaged 10.3 minutes per game, 1.2 points per game and 1.6 rebounds per game. In addition, Collins would also find himself in early foul trouble in many of the games he played.
He was never really able to find a spot in the Celtics under Doc Rivers’ rotation and was subsequently traded, along with Leandro Barbosa, to the Washington Wizards for Jordan Crawford.
There isn’t much to say about Collins’ time at the Celtics. To sum up, it was an uneventful tenure. In a Celtics team that lacked height, Collins did provide a presence in the paint and on the defensive post.
There have also been questions of whether Collins could possibly be a Celtic again next season as he would come cheap and provide great leadership. This now seems unlikely since the Celtics have signed Brazilian centre Vitor Faverani and a coach who is keen on going forward with a young team. Being on the wrong side of 30, it will be hard for Collins to find a team in the NBA. However, any team could benefit from Collins’ presence as he could provide a veteran defensive post presence in limited minute.
What did you think of Jason Collins’ time as a Celtic? Would you want to see him back for the Celtics? Why or why not?
Doc hits the nail on the head with this quote when asked about Jordan Crawford. After our bench scoring spark plug in Leandro Barbosa went down, Boston had no choice but to try to bring in somebody else to add a semblance of offense to the bench unit. Enter Jordan Crawford, who prior to joining the Celtics, was known for throwing down a 2 handed dunk on LeBron, and his love for shooting the basketball. Towards the end of his Washington stint, Crawford’s questionable shot selection and maturity contributed to him being buried deep on both Washington’s bench, and Randy Whitman’s dog house.
At the price of seldom-used Jason Collins and an injured Leandro Barbosa, Boston’s biggest need was met when they traded for Jordan Crawford mid-season at a very cheap price (he is still on his rookie deal also). Not only was his bench scoring (9.1ppg in 21mpg over 27 games with Boston) important, but, his ability to create his own shot was equally as important, especially with Rondo injured and out of action.
Crawford is also an extremely good passer, to the point when Danny Ainge casually mentioned that Jordan might be the best passer on the team. Jordan’s vision and patience in probing a team’s defence has been one of the most underrated aspects of his game.
Crawford has never met a shot that he doesn’t like. Doc knew the type of player that Jordan was, but, he could not change him in such a limited amount of games, so, he just let him play. There was a lot of good, but, unfortunately, there was a lot of bad too. jump shots instead of moving the ball more, contested long jump shots early in the shot clock, and out of control drives were things that would drive us fans crazy.
Crawford also struggled mightily in the playoffs, where he saw his averages drop to 3.6ppg in 11.8mpg. After an incident free run in Boston during the regular season, his immaturity came up again after a stirring Celtics win in game 5 at MSG. In a game where Crawford was a DNP-Coach’s Decision, he had some choice words for Carmelo Anthony after the game-and nearly came to blows with the star. It was an undisciplined act that left a sour taste in my mouth in what otherwise was a great victory.
After some major moves, the Celtics now have an unbalanced roster, which includes a logjam at the shooting guard position. With that in mind and with the acquisition of Marshon Brooks, a player with a very similar skillset, the Celtics have reportedly shown interest in moving Crawford. The roster is severely unbalanced at the moment so dealing some of our shooting guards will be a must-whether we can get any value back for Crawford will be a deciding factor on if he is moved or not.
Jordan Crawford is the definition of an X-factor. If he can control some of his wild shots/drives while playing with some more consistency, he could very well carve out an important sixth man role (just like Jamal Crawford type), whether or not it is for the Celtics, only time will tell.
What are your thoughts on Jordan Crawford? How would you rate his performance in his short stint with Boston? Is he a keeper, or trade fodder?
Leandro joined the Boston Celtics in a very under-the-radar signing, right before the 2012-13 season commenced. He was merely picked up as an insurance policy to cover the backup minutes whilst Avery Bradley was out, and to serve as a 5th guard in a loaded backcourt upon AB’s return. With previous seasons of low production, and his 6th Man of the Year Award a distant memory, the media and fans were not sure how he would fit into a what was then a loaded roster. I was only happy we signed him because the Lakers were after him as well, and I was just happy to get in their way.
As the season progressed however, he proved his importance to our team in a short timeframe, only to go down with a torn ACL before the All-Star break.
It didn’t take us long to see Leandro turn into the “Brazilian Blur”. On opening night, he single-handedly turned a Miami blow-out into a contest, dropping 16 points all in the fourth quarter while only missing 2 shots. His season averages weren’t mind-blowing by any stretch of the imagination (5.2 points & 1.4 assists), but he did give the Celtics an offensive spark off the bench on many nights where the team looked old and ragged. He also dazzled the crowd with a number of high-difficulty trick shots that left his defenders scratching their heads.
He received his big opportunity once Rondo went down with his season-ending knee injury, which opened up a spot in the regular rotation. Barbosa did not disappoint, averaging 8.7 points, 2.7 assists in just under 22 minutes in the 7 games after that. He was a big reason why the Celtics rallied to win 7 games in a row directly after Rondo went out. On the 8th game however…
The Brazilian Blur tore his ACL to end his season, adding further insult to injury after losing both Rondo and Sullinger in a two-week span. This effectively was the straw that broke the camel’s back for an already depleted Celtics team.
Prior to Rondo’s injury, and Barbosa’s subsequent rise, he was playing very inconsistent basketball averaging a measly 1.3 points in the month of January, failing to score in double digits once. His erratic play, and questionable shot selection at times pushed him out of the regular rotation temporarily. His lack of minutes lead to reports by ESPN Brazil that Barbosa wanted out of Boston due to a lack of playing time (all of which he denied at the time).
Barbosa struggled during the season at times because of inconsistent court time, and seemingly, lack of offensive freedom. With Rondo in the line up, Barbosa was forced to play off the ball much more even though he is much more effective with the ball in his hands. Doc encouraged Barbosa to be more aggressive in his play offensively. To create shots for himself and others, but, forcing wild shots and disrupting the offense at times ultimately sent him to the bench.
After his minutes spiked from the Rondo injury, he enjoyed a lot more offensive freedom and regular minutes, showing much more consistency in his play. Just as the Celtics relied on him more and more, his body unfortunately failed him.
We wish him the best of luck for his recovery and for the next seeason.
How do you think Leandro Barbosa played in last season of 2012/2013? Leave your comments below.
We had the JET himself, ready to take big shots. I was really excited to see Courtney Lee, being a fan from his Orlando days. We had two big men in Darko Milicic and Jason Collins, ready to give twelve hard fouls and some tough interior D. We had scoring speedster guard, The Brazillian Blur himself – Leandro Barbosa. Talk about a stacked guard roster.
Best of all, we saw Rondo consistently nailing jumper after jumper. He was making free throws like a man possessed.
Summary: WE HAD OFFENSE. (Albeit, at the cost of defense.)
The season however, began with a shaky start. The team floundered, and somehow never got on an even keel. Adding multiple new faces took time, and our defense suffered. We were horrible on pick-and-roll defense. Offensive lineups became experimental. Rondo was pounding the ball at the top all too often. JET was running off back screens and taking jumpers the way Ray did, but it wasn’t working. Courtney became hesitant on offense, pulling the ball back in transition all too often. It was obvious Pierce could no longer take a guy off his dribble and make dagger shots consistently, which meant we had to find more offense somewhere else, and nothing was happening.
I was frustrated.
Good news arrived in the form of lockdown defender Avery Bradley, who said he was going to return from shoulder rehab. His return gave us a boost of confidence, that his defense would set the tone for the Celtics, who looked lost. It looked like it would, and it did. The defense slowly, but surely got better.
A temporary moment of triumph happened. We conquered the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas Day, 93-76. Sullinger had 16 points and 7 rebounds. Everyone was calling for him to start.
As it was since the season began, our undersized rookie Jared Sullinger played his ass off. We loved #TheHustler so much for his tenacity on rebounds, his focus on nabbing the boards above all else. His passing smarts, and his shooting range. He became a starter, to everyone’s joy.
Without Rondo, Ticket and Truth had to shoulder a heavier load, and get involved in playmaking. Everything and anything, for the team.
Having no choice but to soldier on, we found our footing and played harder, winning from off-ball movement and ball sharing. Avery and Courtney were The Pitbulls on defense. We were finding some sort of rhythm, even without Rondo. The KG/Pierce two-man game worked. Truth was being a point forward once more, and a gritty defensive rebounder on top of everything else.
Meanwhile, Jeff Green was creating poster dunks left, right and center. He was slowly finding his way on offense. Slowly, but surely, we were seeing consistency.
“We’re better without Rondo!”
Things were looking up, some fans began to talk about the team being better without Rondo.
Really? Honestly, no. The problem was the offensive system, not Rondo’s execution of the game plan. He did what he was supposed to, every time. If you thought that, sorry – we have to agree to disagree. And Rondo’s plays in the postseason cannot be measured. The man made countless hustle and gamechanging plays, never ever forget that.
Barbosa’s loss – The straw that broke the camel’s back
The rhythm fell apart once more as bad luck struck the team. Bench scorer Leandro Barbosa tore his ACL, injecting yet another blow to an already depleted roster. We weren’t the Minnesota Timberwolves, but things were really looking down.
New faces once more.
We had to get healthy bodies one way or another. Left with no alternative, trades happened and signings were made. We added more new faces in the form of ex-Wizard Jordan Crawford, plus CBA imports Terrence Williams, DJ White and Shavlik Randolph.
Everyone loved Shavlik’s hustle and defensive instincts, and Justin dubbed him #ShavKill. Celtic Nation made jokes about Crawford’s crazy shots.
Terrence Williams went from a small forward to being a point guard. T-Will outdid all of our other guards when it came to making plays, no questions asked.
Fighting all the way, the Celtics clawed its way to the postseason, vets rested and ready to fight.
Round 1, playoffs – New York Knicks
Everyone was eager to see more of the Truth firing his usual daggers at New York, confident that somehow we would make it a contest. Reality was a huge disappointment. The offense was stagnant and one-dimensional. The ball moved too slowly, the Knicks had a field day in steals. We simply could not get the ball to drop into the cursed hoop. The Knicks were not exactly stellar, but made enough to kill us. Avery wasn’t playing with his usual intensity on both ends, and I cringed every time he passed the ball, for fear that someone would cut the passing lane and make a steal.
Bass was playing elite defense on Melo. Truth and Ticket were playing hard, but it just was not enough.
Game 1: we had a 8 point fourth quarter. That was bad. I thought this was rock bottom, we could not possibly get any worse. Boy, was I wrong.
Game 2: the team scored 11 points in the third, 12 points in the fourth. This, was rock bottom. Our offense was so bad, it was ridiculous. Our famed fourth quarter meltdowns in the past were nothing compared to these.
The team went down 2-0, everyone was praying for the team not to go out this way. We missed Rondo. A lot.
It was not until Game 3, when JR Smith gave a vicious elbow to Jason Terry, that the team seemed to find a bit of fire. After losing Game 3, the JET proclaimed:
“I’m coming out with something. I’m going to come out with the heart, the passion, the energy that’s needed to get a win. We have to do that collectively. One man’s not going to be able to provide that. It has to be a collective unit and we’ve got to get it done together.”
And fight we did, taking Game 4 with JR Smith serving a suspension on that silly elbow strike. Dumb luck, the detractors said. We would not have won if JR was playing.
And then, we took Game 5 too, despite an ugly 11-0 start in the first quarter. Melo missed a ton of shots. JR Smith had the same problem, only worse. The unthinkable had happened. New York fans were shaken. Kenyon Martin’s proclamation about wearing black to a funeral, ended up with the Knicks getting buried.
Could the Celtics truly be the first team in league history to come back from 3-0 and clinch the series? We wanted to believe.
Today, Game 6. Three quarters of putrid basketball set us back in double digits. We were at 51-75, with 9 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
The odds seemed insurmountable. With the way theyhad been playing, I had given up hopes of the team making a comeback. Tweets were coming in about fans exiting at the end of the third quarter. The Knicks seemed ready to roll into round two.
Never count the C’s out.
Bit by bit, shot by shot, a 20-0 run somehow happened. Avery somehow found himself and became a defensive maniac once more. He stole the ball and finished it, twice. We got multiple stops, thanks to the Knicks’ multiple bricked shots. We got the defensive boards, and Green ran the floor, finishing at the rim with astounding effort. The NY score was frozen solid at 75. They were regressing into Melo iso plays. Melo had an injured left shoulder, but somehow made baskets. The lead was within grasp at 4 points, we were closing in for the kill.
And just like that, it was over. Melo made free throws over a phantom Bass foul. Green fouled out. New York played the clock out, made shots and led by 12. The noose was slowly but surely closing.
Doc called a final timeout. Coming out of the play, JET hit a 3 and closed the lead to 9. It was hope.
Yet, it was not meant to be. Tyson Chandler got the rebound off a missed Felton shot. The clock continued to wind down. Melo missed a shot, KG corralled the board and Bass managed to get to the line for two. We were 7 points away, with 27 seconds to go. Close, but time had simply run out. It was too late.
The game ended 80-88, with the Knicks advancing after a 4-2 series win. The Boston Celtics end their 2012/13 postseason run in the first round.
The momentuous journey finally ended with a first-round exit. It was more or less what most of us knew deep inside, but just did not want to admit. We wanted to see another magical postseason run, another upset, another round of showing the disbelievers that we could do it one more time.
I was happy to see the fight in the fourth quarter today, to know that the Celtics would not simply roll over and surrender. It just kills me to know that we had a possible Game 7 within our grasp, and yet not be able to reach it.
In the end, it was the first three quarters that did us in, despite a heroic rally in the closing frame. If we had had a perfect free throw game, or made a few more shots, things might have been different. Alas.
Nevertheless, I am stil proud of this team, for battling through all the unsaid injuries and giving it their all at the end. I just wish we could have done it more consistently, that we could have flipped the switch a little earlier.
That’s all behind us now anyway. My thanks once more to everyone in the team, and to everyone in the fan community for taking this journey together.
The Bobcats game turned out to have more significance than we realised, with the abrupt and tragic loss of Leandro Barbosa, an energetic and offensive-minded reserve guard who has been stepping up to the hole left behind from Rondo’s injury.
“It’s tough all the way around. You mesh with these guys and all of a sudden you see a season-ending injury. It’s tough. We’re grinding right now on top of a back-to-back emotional game.
The road ahead looks tougher than ever, and once more we face an old conference rival in the Chicago Bulls, with limited weapons in the arsenal at that. Will Ubuntu triumph regardless?
Fact: The Bulls won 6 of their last 10 games, 3 of those wins coming from the road.
Game time: 14 Feb 2013, 1130hrs AEDT
Watch on: NBA League Pass and ESPN
1. Rajon Rondo is out for the season with a torn ACL on his right knee.
2. Jared Sullinger is out for the season after his back operation.
3. Leandro Barbosa is out for the season with a torn ACL on his left knee.
4. Derrick Rose is still out on rehab, and has not confirmed a return date yet.
5. Kirk Hinrich (elbow) will not be playing.
Ex-Celtic Nate Robinson has been playing extremely well at the starting point guard position for the Bulls, balancing his scoring efforts with ball distribution. Avery Bradley rolled his ankle last game but returned to the court after that momentary scare, showing the injury to be likely a minor one. Should mobility not be an issue, he will have no problems keeping up with the sprightly Nate.
Should the Bulls play according to their recent lineup, wiry Rip Hamilton will start at the 2. Lee will then be responsible for limiting the veteran player’s usual mid-range game; Rip hit 8 of 11 from the field in their last game against the Spurs, scoring 16 points for the game.
The Captain will need to be in his best defensive rebounding form tomorrow and deny the Bulls second chance opportunities. Big mention: Joakim Noah had 15 rebounds in their last game, 5 of them offensive. We do not need Noah notching a double-double on us, so box out guys.
How about Luol Deng, the undisputed leader of the Bulls this season? This is yet another item on the Truth’s defensive checklist tomorrow, the baggage grows ever heavier.
The team needs to come out with good energy and keep the Bulls from executing. Grind away, grind away.
Mr Instant Buckets aka Leandro Barbosa’s absence will be keenly felt here. With a shortened three guard rotation, I would expect Lee to be loading up for more minutes, especially in the second half. His playing time has been interestingly shortened in the past three games; he averaged 21.6 MPG in contrast to the 25-30 minute range he played in the six games before that. Courtney has been showing very good aggressive instincts in his drives and mid-range pullup shots, and we will need it more than ever – it’s becoming a race to find guys who can put the ball through the hoop now.
Was this even a question? Our two champion veterans will definitely be ready to rise to the occasion. While I have no doubt Pierce and KG will pull their usual load, Jeff Green needs to explode tomorrow. I don’t see Taj Gibson stopping him one-on-one, Uncle Jeff needs to get them points on way or another – either get the bucket, or nail them free throws. Chicago is however a well-drilled Thibs machine, so I would expect help defense to be prompt. Get some overload action on one side, get Green into an isolation opportunity on the weak side and watch him go.
Will the JET catch fire? He will be facing younger and fresher legs in the form of Bellineli (or Teague), expect him to be working harder to get his shots. With active passing however, I would expect Terry to be getting some open shots the way he did last game.
Nate is not known for his defense, and I would expect Avery to get his fair share of the open shot. Take them with confidence, and let the feeling carry through. I’m not hoping for Bradley to morph into a three-point shooting machine, but a return to last season’s form would be a really good thing to have tomorrow. All the same, stay aggressive and keep attacking.
Another thought: how about Wilcox on the low post? He has shown us that he is capable of posting up when given the opportunity, so why not exploit this? The Bulls are not exactly a huge team; place KG and Wilcox on the floor, force Boozer (or Gibson) to guard Wilcox and something good could come out of it all.
This game is going to be a defensive grind on both ends, whoever plays better defense will come out the winner. There is no better time to start on the bar fight mentality so lace them up C’s, let’s go to work and clinch this final W before the All-Star break.
With the return of Avery Bradley –The Gamechanger, The Saviour and all of a billion other divine titles– there has been a shuffle in the playing rotations. When Danny Ainge put this team together in the off-season, the idea was to have the tenacious backcourt of Rondo and Bradley start. A bench featuring Jason Terry and Courtney Lee would then cover the starters, with the Brazillian Blur, Leandro Barbosa thrown in for good measure.
This has since created a logjam amongst the guards, with a huge chunk of minutes going to Rondo (35.8), Bradley (24.3) and Lee (17.6) over the past fortnight, leaving a potentially scarce 18 minutes for Barbosa and Terry.
The question remains: with very limited action, what will become of Jason Terry’s role on this team?
Lee’s return to form
The early season struggles of Courtney Lee were well-documented as he bounced around from starter to bench player and back, but he has found a definitive role in the rotation since Bradley’s return. When Avery heads for the bench, Lee enters the game to sustain the same ball pressure.
“We definitely frustrate our opponent, and that’s what we try to do. I start the game off trying to frustrate whoever I’m going up against and Courtney comes in the game and he does the same thing.”
Now that Lee has settled into a role that he can thrive in, he has proven over the last fortnight exactly how valuable he is to the team. His confidence on D has found its way into his shooting, resulting in a much higher shooting percentage. Over the month of January, Lee has shot 54% from the field in 17 minutes of action, averaging 7.6 points a contest.
The Blur, ready to go
Due to the quality of guards in Boston’s squad, Leandro Barbosa has found himself on extremely limited minutes this season through no fault of his own. Since early season, Barbosa has proven his ability to handle the ball, get to the basket in a flash, and finish well on the fast break. He has also surprised Doc Rivers with his ability to defend other guards.
“He has that reputation of being an offensive player. What we have found since getting him, he’s a heck of a defensive player. He has the ability to put pressure on the ball. That’s something we didn’t know.”
To have a guard of this quality sitting at the end of the bench adds pressure to Terry, especially with Doc looking to Barbosa down the stretch in the team’s win over the Bobcats last week. The interesting decision to start the Brazilian Blur against the Bulls in Bradley’s absence is also something that should be taken note of.
What is left for JET?
So where does this leave 35 year-old Jason Eugene Terry, who is renowned for knocking down big shots off the bench? The former Sixth Man of the Year seems like a perfect fit for Boston to provide an offensive boost when he enters the game, but his defense leaves a lot to be desired. It is a glaring weakness, and could well be a reason for the drop in recent minutes – Terry logged a combined 31 minutes in the wins against Charlotte and Houston.
Terry returned to his preferred role of coming off the bench since Bradley’s return, but has been in a shooting slump in January. He shot just 37% from the field while averaging just 6 points per game, down from an average of 11.5 for the rest of the season. If he is not scoring, Terry must find other avenues to get involved in the Celtics offense.
When Rondo was out with a two-game suspension, the JET entered the starting line-up as the point guard and proved himself as an underrated passer. Terry posted 11 assists against the Bucks in December, showing his worth as a distributor of the ball. Terry is especially proficient at drawing the defense in with dribble penetration, which allows him to set his teammates up for open shots on the drive and kick – this was something he did very often during his tenure with Dallas. The Celtics as we all know live and die by the jumpshot, and Terry’s ability to facilitate the shot could very well be a factor on offense.
With the improvement in production from Jeff Green and Courtney Lee, Terry should feel less pressure to carry the bench’s scoring load.This (theoretically, from a fan’s point of view) should enable him to relax and shoot the ball with confidence. We might have caught a glimpse of Terry emerging from his shooting slump against Chicago, hitting some big shots in overtime to almost snatch the win for the C’s. Things are yet uncertain, but it should only be a matter of time until we see the JET taking full flight once again.
Three game win streak, more to come! There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be taking this game. Granted this season’s team has not been consistent even on home games, but hell if we do not get this one.
Fact: nothing is going to happen in the meantime, we are just going to have to rough things out until the 10th at least.
Game time: 10 Jan 2013, 1200hrs AEDT
Watch on: NBA League Pass
1. Wilcox is still out with his thumb injury (sprained ulnar collateral).
The key to the win, as far as I’m concerned. Put up four good quarters and we’re done. The Suns are very prone to fourth-quarter offensive meltdowns (the way we used to be), keep the foot on the gas pedal and all will be good.
The Suns have two very good big men in Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola, both of whom can roll effectively off the pick, work off the post or take their own shot in the mid-range. Deny these options, and you’re left with less severe options like Dragic or Dudley’s shooting. Granted either of them could go off on scoring streaks, but Scola is the scoring anchor of this team, period.
No second chance points please. The better we can rebound on the defensive end, the better our chances of kicking it up in transition. This means rebounding machine Sully needs to do what he does, with everyone else chipping in. Our chances of getting rebounds are definitely better without overly helping on defense, something that the third factor relates to.
The Suns do not have aggressive penetrating guards outside of Goran Dragic, and containing the dribble penetration should not be an issue when we have a healthy Avery Bradley. Stop Dragic from directing the flow of the offense, everyone else on the court wilts. Limit the help defense from the big guys, and our rebounding improves. See how that works?
Not much to take away from this, it’s going to be a straightforward win unless the entire team decides to coast and collapse altogether. What do you reckon?
News and opinions for Boston Celtics fans in Australia.