On Tap: The Boston Celtics

Kurt —  February 26, 2006

Record: 22-33 (24-31 Pythagorean), 10th in the East
Record last 10 games: 4-6
Offensive Rating: 106.7 (17th in the league)
Defensive Rating: 108 (22nd in the league)

The Rivalry: Jeff from Celtics blog may be right, maybe nobody outside of Boston and LA — and only people over 30 in those cities — really see this still as a rivalry. Maybe younger Laker fans think of Sacramento as our biggest rival. Heck even I’ve matured. My wife lived in Boston for a few years before we got married and we’ve gone back several times — I really like the city.

But I still can’t stand the Celtics. Danny Ainge trails only Kenny G on my list of guys I’d just punch if I ever meet them — he just bugs me and always has. I hate Red Auerbach and his damn cigar. I can’t stand parquet. I don’t like that the next crop of Celtic rookies may have to have numbers with fractions in them because they’ve retired so many numbers. I even hated Greg Kite.

For me, rivalries don’t change with the seasons, with the inevitable ebbs and flows of a franchise’s fortunes. As long as those banners hang over the floor for Boston, I’ll want to beat them more than anyone.

The Lakers coming in: Do you really have any idea what Laker team will show up on any given night? Does Phil? Does Miss Cleo? The Clippers are a pretty good squad (who will get screwed by the playoff system and get bounced in the first round by Dallas or San Antonio) but the Lakers just looked like crap. I guess playing well against Sacramento was enough.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time breaking the Clipper loss down because with this Laker team, the last game seems to have no bearing on the next one.

Paul Pierce vs. Kobe Bryant:
It could come to that, these two are capable of some fireworks. They are both the unquestioned leaders of their teams and both lead their squads in both scoring and +/-. A quick comparison: Kobe is averaging 34.4 points per 40 minutes played, Pierce 27.1; Kobe’s True Shooting Percentage (basically points per shot attempt) is 55.6%, Pierce is more efficient at 58.1%; Kobe is averaging 26.3 shot attempts per 40 minutes, Pierce 19; Kobe is dishing out 4.5 assists per 40, Pierce 4.7; Kobe is grabbing 5.3 rebounds per 40 minutes, Pierce 7.1.

The rest of the Celtics: It’s been a few tough years for Celtics fans, but you have to see the hope on the horizon.

Al Jefferson is very good, scoring 17.7 points per 40 on 51.9% shooting while pulling down 17.4% of the rebounds when he is on the floor. He has the second best PER on the team at 17.9. I have no idea why he is playing only 17.8 minutes per game — in the last 10 games Brian Scalabrine has had more minutes than Jefferson. Weird. Also, Delante West is good in the backcourt, dishing out 5.1 assists per 40 minutes and with a very good true shooting percentage of 58.8%.

Remember they also picked up Wally Szczerbiak not that long ago and he has been a thorn in our side lately. That said, he hasn’t been shooting as well in Boston as he was before he got there (although he has been shooting 37.8% from three point range).

The Celtics biggest problem this season has been the lack of defense. The weakest spots have been the point and the four, so this is the game Lamar Odom could have a big night.

Key’s to a Laker win:
Everyone say it with me — defense. Against the Celtics the Lakers should be able to score. Odom needs to be aggressive and get inside, via penetration or post up, and Smush/Cook/Sasha need to knock down the outside shots.

If they play defense, this is one they should win. But who knows what Laker team will show up. That makes this team very frustrating to follow.

Kurt

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17 responses to On Tap: The Boston Celtics

  1. The reason Al Jefferson has not been playing is because he has been injured with a severe ankle sprain. He may or may not be able to play tonight. The team is riddled with injuries, the Celtics best big man Kendrick Perkins is on the injury list with a dislocated shoulder, Wally Szczerbiak just got off the injury list but still has a badly bruised knee, one of their star rookies from last season Tony Allen is playing but has been unable to fully recover from his knee surgery he had at the beginning of the season, and finally Raef LaFrentz while not injured has incredible knee problems and has to ice them each time he returns to the bench.

  2. Watch out for Gerald Green :)

  3. I loved Green in the draft and think he was a good risk for you guys.

    Nick, or other Celtic fans, the injury to Jefferson explains his minutes of late. However, what about earlier in the season? I was using season numbers for that stat.

  4. man you said it…frustrating…after the atlanta game, I was ready to toss in the towel, but then after portand and sactown, we’re dancin’ in the streets! then the clips bring us back to reality, with LO fading off into the sunset, kwame dropping everything, (shudda been a bricklayer), smush acting like he should get respect instead of just playing and earning it….etc.
    But, about those Celtics, I would have to say it was those Laker vs Celtic years, especially the Magic era, that made me such a die-hard Laker fan. I lived in the South Bay during that time, and remember going for breakfast every morning, with my LA Times, to read, (savor) the night before’s victory, and then check to see what Larry did, cause we just knew we’d be seeing them in the Finals! man, those were the days, I remember how hard it was to take if we got beat, (so rare). Man, that team had A SWAGGER! one time I had front row, under the basket, and I remember watching our guys, Magic, Big Game James, Kareem, Scott, and AC walking out on the floor, and it seemed like slow motion, (Resevoir Dogs) and the other team, (I think it was the Jazz, Malone and Stockton, and Eaton) all were looking like, “man, we gotta play these guys…” and of course, we won, knew it before the tip off.
    I was also at the game we ran Sacto off the floor, with something like a 29 to 2 first quarter, talk about fun to watch. During the Finals, we could hear the whole south bay explode on a Lakers basket, or booing when Boston scored, they are chanting “Beat LA”, and we were chanting “Boston sucks”…how about when Jack showed up at the finals…in the Garden, …with a cigar!
    I know those days are why we still stick by our team, I’m sure there are fans here from the West era as well, but that was before my time, and I’m 50 now, talk about tradition!

  5. kurt, as to Jefferson’s limited minutes earlier in the seasoon: Mark Blount initally was starting over Jefferson and this left Jefferson fighting for minutes along with Perkins. Once they decided on the youth movement Jefferson and Perkins have basically split time, with jefferson being the best of the two on offense, but Perkins being a far better defensive player, thus his minutes have been less consistent than last season.

  6. DJ not damon jones February 26, 2006 at 3:01 pm

    if you look at the laker’s schedule, they must win 4 straight in order to stay within the playoff race. after those 4 games against weak teams, they’re facing DDDDetroit and San Antonio which would be a killer week for the lakers. all we can do is just wait and watch …..

  7. Not that DJ: I think they need the wins, but no one else in the West is stepping up to take it away so far, which is good for us.

    Kwame a. — thanks.

  8. Sacramento is our rival? That’s like saying that the big bully on the schoolyard is “rivals” with the poor scrawny kid who he always beats up on. Just because we care enough to whomp on the Queens, and have fun doing it, doesn’t mean there is a rivalry.

    Hell, I was HAPPY when Sac picked up Ron-Ron b/c I figured it would make our contests with them a little more interesting. It’s more fun to beat up on the little scrawny kid if he occasionally makes a feeble attempt to fight back.

    As for Lakers/Celtics, that’s a true rivalry because there was a time when we could both hold our own and you never really knew who would come out on top.

  9. Smush, I can’t believe you, a guard, can shoot free throws so poorly. although, I will give you credit for that 4th qtr dunk, it felt like a turning point…but in the end, all to no avail, we couldn’t overcome the poor 3rd qtr, (again) and then all those missed free throws…too many mistakes…another L. against a team we shudda beat. must beat those sub 500 teams, cause we still have some tough teams coming up.
    arrrggghhh!

  10. I know it’s easy to just come in here and just start ripping the team (which is what I was planning on doing) but there were some good things to take away from this..especially the 2nd half turnaround…Turiaf was awesome and Smush showed some mental toughness coming back strong on Delonte after getting abused in the 1st half..Lamar too had ESPN’s announcers practically asking him to have their babies…2/7 in ft’s though…that just hurts

  11. What I wanted to take away from that game was 48 minutes of defense as a team. That we didn’t get.

  12. At some point all the good will PJ has rightfully engendered will dissapate. In training camp and the first two months of the season we noticed a different PJ, one who didnt speak in metaphors and cliches about “intensity, balance and energy”, but actually spoke about a defensive philosphy built on pressure defense that can trap and rotate, as well as rebound and run. What the HELL HAS HAPPENED TO THE FULL COURT PRESSURE that was so widely celebrated earlier in the season. Also, play TURIAF AND BYNUM

  13. The salary cap and expansion teams spell mediocrity in the NBA. The only teams that are good at this point have good players who they were able to sign on the cheap to long terms deals.

  14. Re: 11

    I agree, the defense was the Lakers demise as usual which of course is lack of focus. I was impressed with their comeback with Kobe on the bench. I think Phil is cracking the whip now. He wasn’t afraid to have his starters watching the game to find Turiaf working his tail off to energize the team. As much as I wanted the win last night I know it just wasn’t a season ending loss but its pilling up. For them being one of the younger teams in the NBA they shouldn’t have an excuse on these back to back nights. They have a brilliant coaching staff. But they don’t have an agressive defensive coaching staff. Someone needs to impress on this team dire consequences for their work habits. I know I wouldn’t want Kwame, Odom, Smush, Walton, in my fox hole not because of lack of talent but because of lack of effort. If I was making a decision for this team as a coach it would be what is their definition of maximum effort? Anything less like any job you’re going to be dismissed, replaced, overlooked, unused, untrusted, etc… This is the Lakers not some expansion team. How would we like it if our troops were just a bunch of lazy bums stinking up other countries because of their lack of passion and desire to serve the military. They risk their lives for the cause. The players I mentioned need to check themselves. They need to revisit where they came from to know that LA is not being represented properly. The Lakers put LA on the map. It is up to this team to right the ship. Hard work, effort, desire, hunger, intensity, pride, leadership are all things they can bring to any team. But it is a responsibility that is taken very lightly which is disrespectful to the teams owner, coaching staff, teammates, themselves, the city of LA and the fans.
    Can you feel me out there!!!!! Holla back people I want to win.

  15. Its not effort.

    The offense is VERY ugly with Kobe personally hiding the overall deficiency. The Lakers have inferior talent at most every position. Phil Jackson is the wrong coach for this team. Mitch Kupchak is failing with the 2007 plan already becoming the 2008 plan.

    Effort is a red herring and I dare you to say Smush isn’t trying as hard as he can to his face.

  16. Want better talent, Convince the colleges to ban the zone defense. This will result in more trained bigs out there and point guards who can work the ball to get the bigs their shots instead of shooting jump shots all day.

  17. Re: 15
    Even if you are talented it requires effort. Look at our Olympic team. We had lots of talent there. What are you going to say then. The coach was the problem? It requires effort. Effort to execute, effort to remain focused, effort to take responsibility of their roles on the team. When you’ve got a guy killing you on the 3pt line then you are accountable to change that outcome. When your man consistently gets to the paint and gets fouled or makes a layup you are acountable. I would say it to Smush and anybody else whom I see does not provide effort 4 qtrs not just 3qtrs. Effort takes discipline. Phil’s style promotes self discipline. He makes people accountable for their own actions. That’s why we see them losing confidence at times because they see a reflection of their efforts in their record and stats. He doesn’t just call a timeout when they aren’t performing well. He wants them to step up. Winning speaks for itself. You may have your philosophy on coaching but Phil’s record speaks for itself. In the history of basketball, only 2 coaches have garnered 9 championships. And you can’t tell me that they weren’t talented enough to beat a less talented squad like Boston. That just doesn’t make sense.