A Study In Green: Jason Collins

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.

0503_oag_jason-collins

The Good

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.

The Bad

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.

The Verdict

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?

A Study in Green: Jordan Crawford 2012/13 season review

Jordan Crawford fan art credit Kaine Underwood, resident Celtics Down Under artist.

Jordan Crawford art credit Kaine Underwood, resident Celtics Down Under graphic artist.

Every night, he scares both coaches.”

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.

The Good

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.

The Bad

Shot selection.

Jordan Crawford, Alonzo Gee, Kyrie Irving

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.

Verdict

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?

A Study in Green: Leandro Barbosa

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.

bos_g_lbarbts_400

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.

The Good

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 Bad

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).

bos_u_barb66_cr_400

The Verdict

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.

One hell of a ride – The 2012/13 Celtics season recap.

What else could we call it, honestly? Every season is full of ups and downs, but this has been the grittiest fight so far in the KG era, with so much change throughout the season.

Pre-season

125

The promising off-season with a reloaded roster displayed potential in the Europe exhibition games. We were excited at Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green’s return, and also at all the new faces.

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.)

Sacramento Kings v Boston Celtics

Season start

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.

Avery Bradley's Stifling Defence

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.

Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets

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.

Sullinger Pulls Down The Rebound

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.

The injury bug strikes again

Then, we had the shockers – Rondo’s ACL tear, and then Sullinger’s back operation. Two starters were out, just like that.

Without Rondo, Ticket and Truth had to shoulder a heavier load, and get involved in playmaking. Everything and anything, for the team.

Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee against the Denver Nuggets

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.

Jeff Green of the Boston Celtics dunks on Al Jefferson of the Utah Jazz in the 2012/13 NBA season.

Jeff Green of the Boston Celtics dunks on Al Jefferson of the Utah Jazz in the 2012/13 NBA season.

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

Leandro Barbosa goes down with an ACL tear

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.

Credit: ESPN

Credit: ESPN

Everyone loved Shavlik’s hustle and defensive instincts, and Justin dubbed him #ShavKill. Celtic Nation made jokes about Crawford’s crazy shots.

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers

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

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks - Game One

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.”

Jason Terry of the Boston Celtics takes flight.

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.

Game 6

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.

Jeff Green and Paul Pierce

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.

Epilogue

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 Captain.

Onwards, to the next season! Keep believing.

Closing the first half out: Chicago Bulls @ Boston Celtics preview

Chicago Bulls logo

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 blow of Barbosa is kind of the fog or the cloud that’s in the room right now.” – Kevin Garnett during post-game Bobcats, Celtics’ Barbosa could be done for season

Leandro Barbosa goes down with an ACL tear
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

Roster changes:

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.

Defense

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.

Offense

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.

Pierce and Garnett against the Bobcats in Feb 2013

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.

#Ubuntu

When Will The JET Soar Once More?

Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford

Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

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.

As Bradley told ESPN in a recent intervew:

“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.

After the win over Oklahoma City in November, Doc praised Barbosa’s defensive gears to ESPN:

“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.

#4 Jason Terry

#4 Jason Terry (Photo credit: Girovagando)

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.

Finding consistency: Suns @ Celtics preview

Phoenix Suns logo

Phoenix Suns logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

Roster changes:

1. Wilcox is still out with his thumb injury (sprained ulnar collateral).

Consistency
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.

Containing Gortat/Scola
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.

Rebounding
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.

Dribble penetration
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?

Hello Melo: Celtics @ Knicks preview

New York Knicks logo

New York Knicks logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This will be the real test of the Celtics revival: a Rondo-less road game, being well-rested and facing a true contender in the form of Melo and the Knicks.

Bring it on!


Game time: 8 Jan 2013, 1130hrs AEST

Watch on: Good old NBA League Pass

Roster changes:

1. Wilcox is still out with his thumb injury (sprained ulnar collateral).

2. Raymond Felton is out with a fractured right finger.

3. Rajon Rondo has been suspended one game for bumping referee Rodney Mott in the Atlanta game. (I was surprised when he didn’t get tech-ed right then. Ah well.)

Defense

Melo-stopper: There is no one in the team capable of defending Melo one-on-one in his current state. Not Pierce, not Green (who am I kidding), not Bass. No, not even Rondo (who is absent for this game), even though we’ve seen him try to defend LeBron before.

Melo is strong and quick enough to go against anyone outside and in the post, and should you be smaller or slower, he will be getting his points one way or another – either by bulldozing his way to the basket, or by his extremely quick pullup shot.

Look for double-teams to be used to force Melo off the ball, expect KG’s swarming help defense to be utilised.

Long range: Melo, Novak, Smith, Brewer, even Copeland. And not forgetting our favourite: SHEEEEEEEED. The 3 ball is an extremely important weapon in this Knicks team, and getting out there to deny the open shot is crucial.

Pick-and-roll defense: STAT is finally back, and while he is not in 100% game shape, he can still roll and finish with ease. Coming off the bench with Prigioni manning the ball, be prepared to see more of this being shoved our way today.


A good win in New York will cement the streak and give everyone confidence that the C’s are well and truly back. Rondo’s absence from this game will be tough, but count in the fact that Pierce always plays well in the Garden, so expect him to have a good showing too.

What are your points for the game?

Finding the light: Pacers @ Celtics preview

pacers vs c's

pacers vs c’s (Photo credit: burningairlinesgiveyousomuchmore)

Coming off a four game losing streak, it’s tough to find positivity amidst the bad we have seen so far. Nevertheless, it’s our job to remain deluded optimistic and look for the silver lining, rather than continually screaming TRADE (INSERT-NAME-OF-UNDERPERFORMING-PLAYER) DAMMIT!

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: 5 Jan 2013, 1200hrs AEST

Watch on: Good old NBA League Pass

Roster changes:

1. Wilcox is still out with his thumb injury (sprained ulnar collateral).

2. Rondo is not fully recovered from the hip bruise, but he hasn’t indicated any reason for sitting out.

Offense

I’ll talk about offense this time round, rather than harping on the same old tired defensive points of rebounding-help-rotation. The C’s need to make things simpler for themselves.

Less IsoPierce
IsoPierce is good in limited doses, but he is beginning to show the lack of lift in recent games. Reduce the amount of IsoPierce, allow him to take his 3 shots off the catch. He’s shown that he can still hit them shots. Forcing the captain to take the offense into his own hands and making him charge into a packed interior is not going to have pretty results. We’ve seen the jump balls, the blocks, the turnovers. No sir, less of those please.

How do we reduce Pierce’s role then?

Boston Celtics v/s Washington Wizards April 11...

Boston Celtics v/s Washington Wizards April 11, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bench men – Green/Lee/Barbosa
I hate to even hope for miracles like these, but we need these guys. Jeff Green, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa are the young legs on the team, the ones who can and should be aggressively taking it in without hesitation.

Space it out, set a pick for them. Get them inside, force the contact and get some free throws! Less hesitation, and less outside shots please. We are not going to win a game shooting jumpers all night long.

Of course, there is that tiny problem of us having horribly ineffective pick setters. Times like these make me miss Perk a lot.

KG versus Hibbert
Having KG match up against Hibbert allows Sully to sneak into the paint. KG will be taking his usual long 2s, and that will definitely draw Hibbert out.

Note: I’m not saying Sully will be hitting putback bunnies under the rim all night long against the rebounding likes of West/Hansborough/Mahinmi/Granger, but with Sully’s positioning smarts, there’s a fighting chance our hardest working rookie can make something happen.

No? Nevermind, I know we’re getting killed on the boards.

Bradley’s cuts
All of Celtic Nation had a glorious moment of deja vu last game, when they witnessed a beautiful backdoor cut from Avery Bradley. HE’S BACK! And so it came to be that every fan wept, and gave thanks to something so sorely missed.

Sadly, that was all we got – one brilliant flash.

Not holding high hopes for his shooting at this point, but I’m really looking forward to Bradley making an obvious impact with his precise cuts and Rondo’s passing vision. Potent scoring formula, yes? I’m hoping Rondo will be in better shape to drive and pass tomorrow.


Against yet another team with a tough interior presence, I’m not hoping for the C’s to take a blowout win. I’m glad Collison left though, that’s one less guy to carve us up for layups.

All I’m saying is, any kind of win is good at this point, and the odds are not fantastic.

The Daily Ubuntu feat. Joseph making roster (official!), Barkley on the C’s and more

The Daily Ubuntu is a collection of Celtics-related news and columns from around the intarwebs, just so that you keep in touch with our favourite green team.

Follow us on Twitter at @CelticsDownUnd and like us on Facebook too! There will be a contest for the season opening game, so join us on the Facebook page, have fun together and win a prize if you’re a lucky at game stats.

Today’s edition features talk about Charles Barkley’s predictions for the Celtics, Barbosa looks forward to winning a ring with the Celtics and more.


Video highlights

Brandon Bass Boston Celtics Mix: A video mix tape on our favourite jump shooting, all dunking big guy – No Pass Bass. Enjoy!


Practice talk

Practice report: Full attendance – ESPN Boston
ESPN Boston’s Chris Forsberg presents several post-practice videos, most noticeably being newest recruit Leandro Barbosa’s interview, and the return of big guys Darko Milicic/Chris Wilcox to practice.

Lots of positive quotes in the article, I’ll just leave you with a good one to start.

* Rivers raved about the first full-team practice for newly acquired guard Leandro Barbosa.

“He’s been here for three or four days and the last two days we ran him through all the stuff. So he had a concept of what we’re running. He’s played against us for so long — that helps as well. But he had a great practice.”

Added Rajon Rondo: “[Barbosa] was very vocal today. He was the point guard. He moved [Jason Terry] to the side and I think they both liked that situation. JET’s more of a scoring point guard and Barbosa set a lot of those guys up today in practice.”


Player features

Leandro Barbosa envisions title with Celtics – Boston Globe
Leandro Barbosa is certainly buying into the team’s dream.

“I’ve been to Phoenix, I know how [winning] is and with this team I know it’s going to be [demanded],” he said. “And I’m very, very excited. I mean there’s no words I can explain to you how I feel right now. I just want to work, give them what they expect, and win games and a championship. In my mind I have the championship and I’m sure those guys have the same thing. So we’re going to work together and I’m down for that too.”

One team, one dream. It’s all about everyone buying into the same goal, and working unselfishly towards it.

The column also talks about Barbosa’s potential contributions to the team, and Doc’s opinion on the Barbosa’s abilities and what his role could be – check the article out.

Joseph makes roster out of camp – ESPN Boston

“Just happy, proud,” Joseph said Wednesday after learning he made the final cut. “I put in the work necessary to make it this far throughout my life, and when I got here, I continuously worked hard. So, it’s just a blessing. It’s a weight off my shoulders now. But, the hard work doesn’t stop here. You’ve got to always keep working hard.”

So Joseph got told officially that he’s made the team. No surprise at this point, but congratulations nonetheless. Work hard and keep proving yourself out there!

Kevin Garnett keeps the dream alive – CSNNE

Bohemian writes about how KG’s move to the Celtics has re-ignited the pride for fans all over, after a long hiatus of mediocrity. The man embodies passion, pride and grit, how can we not be proud of a player like that? So long as he’s leading the pack, we know everyone will be inspired to play harder, the way the Big Ticket does.

Top 50: Rajon Rondo, no. 8 – SLAM Online

An excellent article with a slight apologetic overtone that talks about Rondo, the much-maligned and underestimated player. The media has indeed begun to mellow on Rondo, now that he gives better interviews, but to dismiss his creativity on the court at times is just frustrating.

Basketball is never just a stats game, there are so many intangibles present that cannot ever be converted into metrics. Rondo’s situational awareness is just one of those phantom qualities that you will never ever see on the box score.

In the annual GM Survey, which was made public earlier this week, Rondo’s name appeared more times than any player not known by their surname alone. NBA GMs, men paid vast sums to evaluate talent and build rosters, voted him the third-best point guard in the League, the third-best (in a four-way tie) perimeter defender, the third-fastest with the ball, the third-best (in a two-way tie) passer, the third-toughest (in a four-way tie; he’s the only point guard) player and the player with the 10th best basketball IQ. And all of this on heels of his eighth-placed finish in last season’s MVP voting.

Yes, Rajon Rondo is not a finished product. His jumper is still shaky, he needs to improve his percentage from the charity stripe, he passes up too many layups and at times he seems to idle his engine. But the 26-year-old is the real deal.

The review also talks about the takeover moments Rondo had in recent years; the elbow dislocation and return, the OT win against the Knicks, and his otherworldly performance in the Heat series last postseason.

Yep, the real deal folks. And he’s staying green.

Stat check: JET’s preseason defense – ESPN Boston

Terry limited opponents to 26.7 percent shooting (12 of 45 shooting) and, maybe most amazingly, did not commit a single foul that resulted in free throws.

Preseason stats in a very small sample size are likely misleading, but the JET’s defense looks pretty good over here.


Team talk

Celtics’ ‘legit chance of beating’ Heat, Jeff Green as NBA’s most underrated player and other Charles Barkleyisms – WEEI

“I think the most underrated player in the NBA is Jeff Green,” said Barkley, who also proclaimed himself “a big Jeff Green fan” last season. “I know he didn’t play last year. I loved him in Oklahoma City. When he got to Boston, he went late into the year, so he really never got comfortable. I think he is going to be fantastic.”

Barkley also made some classic Barkley statements about the C’s Atlantic Division rivals.

“The Celtics got an older Kevin Garnett and a Paul Pierce,” he said. “They brought in all these younger guys to bring in energy and take the load off of Garnett and Paul Pierce, and the Knicks brought in a bunch of old geezers.

I like what Sir Charles is thinking. You sir, are saying what the rest of us are hoping for – a breakout season in Jeff Green.

Celtics Feel That Regular Season Has Begun – Celtics.com

The C’s are going at practice very hard in anticipation of the Heat game, very nice. Of course, it helps that the quality of the matchups have gone up substantially since last season.

“It just helped that the second group now, because [Wilcox and Barbosa are] on the floor, can compete better when you do it,” Rivers said of changing up his lineups. “Before, when you messed with the lineup, because of the numbers we had and we had a lot of the young guys, it gave you a false sense of security. You were scoring every time or stopping them every time.”

No easy bunnies, that’s for sure. Stay injury-free guys, less than a week to go!


Injury watch

Darko Milicic

Good to hear that Darko’s back to play. I’m not sure if he is going to be a huge factor in the Heat game though, seeing as they thrive on mismatches, and Darko’s not exactly the quickest guy out there.

Chris Wilcox

After straining his lower back on the first day of practice on Sept. 29, Chris Wilcox finally took the floor again this morning.

“The back felt good – everything felt good today,” said Wilcox. “I’m trying to improve on everything. I’m coming from scratch right now, so everything I do is about trying to improve and trying to get better. I’m feeling out where I need to be, the spots I need to be in. I’m working right now to just get back in shape and get back into the flow of things.” – via Boston Herald

More good news as well, it’s great to hear Wilcox back on the court. I don’t see him playing huge minutes on the season opener, but a few minutes here and there? Very likely.


That’s all for today folks, have fun and I’ll see you soon.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,522 other followers

%d bloggers like this: