Yet Another NBA Change

The NBA has decided that Centers will no longer have a special spot in the All-Star game. Instead, the team will be made up of 3 frontcourt players, and two backcourt, rather than two forwards and a center. It comes as no surprise seeing as most teams don’t rely on a traditional center anymore like the old days.

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Celtics Newcomers

Last week, we took a poll about who you guys think has been the biggest star of the pre-season for newcomers, and I included Jeff Green because he was injured last season. Jared Sullinger won with over 50% of the votes, and Jeff Green was tied for second with Courtney Lee and Jason Terry, all with roughly 12% of the votes. Everyone keeps going on about how good our team is going to be because of our depth but here are some reasons why each player will succeed in our system.

Jared Sullinger: Rookie that fell to us in the draft, should have been a high lottery pick if not for an injured back last season. Not too many rookies get minutes in our system, but Jared could be starting some nights. KG and Doc Rivers have both said that he has a very high basketball IQ and does not play like a rookie typically does. He has adapted to the Celtics’ system real quick, and is not timid out on the court. He rebounds consistently and shoots right when he gets the open look, rather than hesitate and up fake 15 times like a lot of smaller big men like himself. And good news for C’s fans: Garnett said he is “giving him the book, teaching him everything I know”.

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Options for Filling out the Roster

Player Position Height Weight DOB From Years
Brandon Bass F 6’8 250 4/30/1985 LSU 7
Avery Bradley G 6’2 180 11/26/1990 Texas 2
Kevin Garnett  F 6’11 253 5/19/1976 Farragut Academy HS (IL) 17
JaJuan Johnson F 6’10 221 2/8/1989 Purdue 1
Kris Joseph F 6’7 210 12/17/1988 Syracuse R
Fab Melo C 7’0 255 6/20/1990 Syracuse R
E’Twaun Moore G 6’4 191 2/28/1989 Purdue 1
Paul Pierce – (C) F 6’7 235 10/13/1977 Kansas 14
Rajon Rondo G 6’1 171 2/22/1986 Kentucky 6
Jared Sullinger F 6’9 260 3/4/1992 Ohio State R
Sean Williams F-C 6’10 235 9/13/1986 Boston College 4
Jamar Smith G 6’3 185 Illinois

The Celtics will probably look to add a few more players before training camp. Jamar Smith signed with the Celtics last week but it would likely be a training camp invite and not a full season guarantee. Look for the Celtics to sign a few more players from their summer league squad such as Dionte Christmas. Also previously mentioned are the potential signings of Carlos Delfino or Courtney Lee, but they both do not look promising based on the current cap situation of the Celtics, most likely you are going to see them resign Pietrus and hopefully sign Christmas to a contract. Also they may bring back Keyon Dooling for the veterans minimum as he was a big part of the locker room and gave them a lift in the playoffs.

Power Forward Grades

Player

Points

Rebounds

Assists

Blocks

Steals

+/-

PER

Brandon Bass

11.0

6

1

.9

.41

+47

15

Positives: Trading Bass for Big Baby was a great move for the Celtics. Bass has probably one of the best midrange jumpers in the game. Even though his jumper makes you think he’s an inch from falling over every time, it is one of the most pure in the game. When he and KG are on the floor at the same time, the Celtics become a much better team. They space the floor and create more open shots for Pierce and Allen. Bass also gives the Celtics a good isolation player in the post. Finally Bass brings an energy and willingness to bang on the boards which lacks from most of the Celtics big men. Played though a tough knee injury for two weeks until he was forced out by the doctors

Negatives: While he is learning the complex defensive schemes of the Celtics, the basic fact remains that Bass is not a great defender. He has definitely improved this season playing with KG and for Doc, but some weaknesses still remain. He is not tall and can be shot over by taller players.

Grade: B+

Player

Points

Rebounds

Assists

Blocks

Steals

+/-

PER

Chris Wilcox

5.6

4.5

.5

.35

.42

+23

13.7

Positives: Wilcox is an above average offensive player who brings energy off the bench for the Celtics. He is the best at getting out in transition and Rondo rewards him with alley-oops most of the time. Big time energy player for the Celtics, but his production depends on his health.

Negatives: Has been injury prone throughout his career, and it hasn’t changed this year. He is also undersized and when he finds himself on the floor with someone other than KG, the Celtics begin to get manhandled in the post.

Grade: B-

Player

Points

Rebounds

Assists

Blocks

Steals

+/-

PER

Jujuan Johnson

4.0

1.5

.2

.43

.14

+7

15.9

Positives: Johnson has been a nice surprise for the Celtics. As many people wrote him off as a prospect until he put on some weight, Jujuan has shown his scoring ability translates to the NBA. John Hollinger isn’t surprised as he said that he will be a solid role player for years to come. He has been a good help defender and is learning Doc’s schemes well.

Negatives: For being 6’10 he needs to get his body weight up. He is way to skinny to bang with Gerald Green nevertheless players like Amare Stoudemire.  Needs to work on his rebounding a little bit, but I feel it will come when he starts filling out his body.

Grade: B

 

Other Position Grades

Small Forward

Shooting Guard

Point Guard

 

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Celtics-Bucks Preview

The Celtics (16-17) are looking to start another winning streak as they take on the Milwaukee Bucks (14-20). The Celtics are now tied for seventh place in the eastern conference with the Knicks and are 2.5 games ahead of the Bucks in the race for the 8th spot. The Celtics are coming off of a 86-83 win against the pesky Cleveland Cavaliers where the Bucks are coming off the a 119-118 win over the Washington Wizards.

Brandon Bass came back from his injury and hit his first five shots for the Celtics last night. It was pretty promising as both he and Wilcox looked healthy. Wilcox grabbed 11 rebounds. The Celtics were led by Ray Allen who looked fresh after having the All-Star break off as he went for 22 points. Pietrus also had his biggest dunk of the season with that surgically repaired knee starting to look real good. Finally my man Avery Bradley played well again going 3-5 from the floor with 3 assists and no turnovers.

The Bucks are being led by Brandon Jennings as he is averaging 18.2 points per game and 5.3 assists per game. Last night Mike Dunleavy came off the bench to score 28 points. The Celtics have to be careful with the ball tonight because the Bucks scored 26 points off of 15 turnovers. The Celtics also have to watch out for Ersan Ilyasova who has been a beast on the boards this season. He has 4 double-doubles in his last five games including a 29-25 game against the New Jersey Nets 10 days ago.

Keys to the Game

Turnovers

As it has been all season the Celtics have to keep the turnovers down to a minimum. Pierce and Rondo had 11 turnovers. As the Bucks turn a lot of turnovers into points, the Celtics are going to need to take care of the ball if they’re going to want to get the winning streak to 2.

Rebounding

As I mentioned earlier Ilyasova is a beast. He has been killing teams on the boards this year. And the Celtics have been getting killed by everyone on the boards. They need to box out and go after rebounds defensively and offensively. It’s not a you-take-it kinda deal. I want to see them fight for rebounds and stop giving up easy second chance points.

Tip-Off is at 7:30 tonight.

Aging Celtics Live On

Well it looks like Pierce was the missing link. First three games without the captain, 0-3. Last three games with him, 3-0. You do the math. I’m not saying he single handedly won these games, but how can you argue that he wasn’t the deciding factor. If not performing on the court, his mere presence uplifted the team to where it needed to be. After a rocky start, and especially after the loss to the Hornets, thoughts of concern started to set in. Could it be a repeat of 06-07? No. Now, back to .500, these thoughts have been erased. We’ve seen how the C’s can play. Even last night, the second game in a set of back to backs, the boys proved they could win. Granted it was the Wizards, my point stands. During the first quarter it looked like they were going to pull away, with stretches of brilliant transition basketball. If the Celts can mock this kind of play, not even each game, but steadily throughout the shortened season, they should be just fine come playoff time. The big names are continuing to show how great they are and the others, including younger guys are beginning to step up. And on a side note, I’ll continue to comment on how much of a steal Brandon Bass was. Each night he continues to let it be known too. Ridiculous. The team may be rough around the edges at first, but the Celtics will pull it all together. Doc wouldn’t allow anything less. It’s no secret to anyone that this could very well be the last year the core of this team is together. And by no means would any of them let it go to waste.

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Not All Lost in New York

The best Christmas for any basketball fan yesterday was the return of the NBA. The only thing that could have made it better for Boston was watching the C’s come out of New York with a win. Unfortunately, we all know how that played out. Losing to the Knicks, especially with their all-star elf Spike Lee jumping up and down courtside, is always tough to swallow. But not all was lost in New York for the Celts. I think it’s safe to thank Danny Ainge for holding on to Rondo, even if he didn’t mean to. Throughout the short preseason, we could see improvement in Rondo’s shot and overall play, but yesterday he made a statement. His stats were amazing, with 31 points and 13 assists, while almost single handedly bringing the Celtics back into the game, but his aggressive manner and matured nature of play is what shone through the loss. With an aging team, Rondo is the key to the Celts this season. If he can continue to play like a first team all-star, the Celts are going to be alright this season. Not to mention having guys like Brandon Bass slip on a green and white uniform and make a statement of his own. He ended the day with 20 points and 11 rebounds, letting everyone know which team got the better deal in Orlando trade. Bass coming off the bench is going to prove to be a great addition to the Celtics squad, both offensively and defensively. Bring Pierce back and throw Mickael Pietrus into the mix, I think the C’s are going to be just fine.