Finally…Center Grades

Player

Points

Rebounds

Assists

Blocks

Steals

+/-

PER

Kevin Garnett

15.1

8.3

2.6

1.12

.94

+136

20.4

Up until last week, KG would have been placed with the power forwards, but with the injury to Jermaine O’Neal, KG has been moved to center and thrived. KG doesn’t have the quickness that he used to in his prime but understands maybe better than anyone else in the NBA how to use his body defensively and to be in the right position.

20120308-120538.jpgPositives: By all accounts KG, has not Pierce or Rondo has been the Celtics best player this season. He has the highest PER on the team as well as the best +/-. As I said up above, KG just understands the game. He is still quicker than most centers and gets to good position defensively and the five game win streak was correlated to KG being switched to center. His jumper from outside is still pure as ever. He stretches the floor just like Bass does, and allows room for Rondo, Ray, and Paul to drive the lane. He is still the heart of the Celtics and he brings the intensity to every single game. Last season according to Synergy, KG was the second best defensive power forward in the game, behind Taj Gibson.

Negatives: He has lost the quickness and the ability to jump that he had as a youngster and it shows on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Quicker players just go right by him as he helplessly looks on. Also, KG doesn’t seem to want or feel the need to box out. If he stuck a body on some players he would have saved at least 30 offensive rebounds this season for the Celtics. His knees are also a constant worry for the Celtics and his minutes need to be monitored.

Grade: B+

Player

Points

Rebounds

Assists

Blocks

Steals

+/-

PER

Jermaine O’Neal

5.0

5.4

.4

1.72

.32

+26

9.7

Positives: Jermaine O’Neal is the rare NBA player who has completely transformed his game. Long gone is the high-flying center that would sky for dunks on one end and have highlight reel blocks on the other. He still blocks shots now, but it is completely due to his great positioning and timing instead of athletic ability. He is also the rare player who has the ability to not only block shots, but be in position to take charges. Before his injury Jermaine was up and away leading the NBA in charges taken this year. He is also one of the Celtics best rebounders and provides much needed big man depth for the team.

Negatives: His offensive game has much to be desired. He has a decent 10-15 foot jumper, but outside of that, does not bring much else to the table. He is constantly hurt and his latest wrist injury, may keep him out for the rest of the season. Poor guy, because his body just doesn’t seem to be able to hold up anymore. On top of the wrist, his knees are farther gone than KG’s.

Due to the uncertainty with his wrist for the rest of the season. The Celtics may look to cut Jermaine O’Neal to open up space to sign another big man for the playoff run. They also were looking to trade his expiring contract. While I love Jermaine and his passion, I am not sure that the Celtics are going to have him on the roster past this season.

Jermaine O’Neal Update

Grade: C+

Player

Points

Rebounds

Assists

Blocks

Steals

+/-

PER

Greg Stiemsma

1.7

2.3

.3

.89

.25

-82

11.1

Positives: The steamer has been a fun player to watch this year. Burdened with big expectations after a big preseason, Stiemsma has played well in some situations and looked lost in others. He is averaging almost a block every 9 minutes and has shown great defensive ability. He also has a better than expected 10-15 foot jump shot that he’ll hit every once in a while.

Negatives: He is not always ready to play and will sometimes just look lost or confused out there. He takes chances defensively going for the big block and can look silly out there. Other than a few jumpers, he is extremely limited offensively and has terrible hands. You gotta love the steamer though.

Grade: C

Power Forward Grades

Small Forward Grades

Shooting Guard Grades

Point Guard Grades

 

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Is Avery Bradley the Key to the Game? Celtics-Thunder Preview

In the Celtics (15-16) last game before the All-Star Break they face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder (25-7) and former teammate Kendrick Perkins. Rajon Rondo will not be able to play against his good friend as he will be serving the second game of his two game suspension for throwing the basketball at the referee. The two teams are heading in different directions as the Celtics have lost 6 of their last 7 and their last 4 in a row. The Thunder have won their last three games and are 9-3 in the month of February. The Celtics are also 4-8 on the road while the Thunder are 13-1 at home.

The Celtics will hopefully get Kevin Garnett back as he has missed the last two games due to a family matter. The Celtics are extremely weak at the power forward position if he doesn’t play as Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Wilcox are both day to day from injuries against the Mavs and Brandon Bass is out until after All Star break. The Celtics will have to rely heavily on Jajuan Johnson and Greg Stiemsma as they are the only two power forwards or centers on the roster.

The Thunder are just two games removed from what I can remember as one of the most ridiculous statlines a trio of NBA players has ever produced

Player Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals
Kevin Durant 51 8 3 0 4
Russell Westbrook 40 4 9 1 0
Serge Ibaka 14 15 0 11 1

These three bring back memories of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman. While they have accomplished nothing yet, they are look very tough to beat this year and will pose a big problem for the Celtics

Keys to the Game

Get out and Run

The Celtics may or may not have any one of the three big man listed day to day. But if they do, and more importantly if they don’t, they need to get into the open floor and get some easy baskets. The team is struggling in its half court sets and getting easy baskets allows the defense to set up and do its job.

Get some Penetration

Other than Pierce and Ray last game the Celtics were settling for a lot of jumpers. The offense was stagnant and the ball was not moving crisply. It’s tough to get open shots when your not making the defense work.

Cut down on Turnovers

Paul has been trying to take over the game and its nice to see, but his 10 turnovers in the past two games is hard to swallow. The Celtics have to take care of the ball and it starts with The Truth. The Celtics are too good of a defensive team to be giving up so many easy buckets off of turnovers.

Avery Bradley

Finally, my man Avery came out strong in the first quarter last night, looking for his shot and actually hitting it. If he can show he has a consistent jumper, it will open up the floor for the rest of the Celtics shooters and allow him to penetrate and create. No one is really concerned by his defense, we all know Avery D’s up!

Much Needed All-Star Break

20120221-082353.jpgAfter a stretch of wins starting in late January where the C’s won 10 of 12 contests, capped with a big win at home vs. Chicago last week, things have began to fall apart in Boston. The Celtics found themselves spiraling downhill in the past week, losing four straight as of last night against the Mavs. Whenever things start to look up, the cards just seem to stack up against the C’s. As if losing Brandon Bass to a knee injury and KG to family issues wasn’t enough, the Celts lost Rondo for last night’s matchup and Wednesday’s due to a two game suspension. Adding insult to injury, literally, Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Wilcox both left the game in the third last night with injuries. Don’t get me wrong, I love my boy Stiemsma, but unfortunately I don’t see him being the X-factor in the paint for the C’s, at least not yet. I think it’s safe to say no one needs the All-Star break to come sooner than the Celts. A week off from play after Wednesday’s game vs. the Thunder is just what the team needs to regroup and get back to their winning ways.

Celtics Win and Pierce Makes History

Celtics pull out a relatively easy W over the Bobcats as they win 94-84. Garnett led the team in scoring as he had 22 on 10-15 shooting. Rondo had his second straight night with 14 assists and also put up 10 points. Bobcats shot 45% from the field which was helped by Derrick Brown’s 10-10 night shooting. Jujuan Johnson played only 2 minutes after playing 22 the night before.

But the night was all about Paul Pierce. While he had a relatively poor shooting night by his standards, 6-18 for 15 points, he again led the Celtics +/- ratio with a second straight game of over +26. You could tell Pierce wanted to get it over with, he started out the game well, but missed two open three’s to clinch it. The fans almost willed the first one in, but we had to wait until after halftime for Pierce to go down in the books. He drained hist first shot after halftime to become the Celtics second all-time leading scorer. Rondo assisted on the memorable basket as he ran underneath the hoop and kicked it to an open Pierce for three.

Pierce on what it would mean to catch Havlicek. “Records are great, but it would mean more to me and the fans if we won another championship, so that’s my goal.”

Extra Notes: 12th straight game for Pierce with five or more assists. Always a great night when Tommy screams into the microphone, “THIS IS STUPID”. Pavlovic played 7 minutes, airballed a three and let a rebound through his legs and wasn’t seen again. Stiemsma played 2 minutes and had 2 points, 1 block, and 1 forced travel.

Kobe comes to Boston this week as the Celtics take on the Lakers Thursday at 8:00 PM.

Celtics Look Ahead

Well the Celt’s preseason has come and gone in a blink of an eye, as it should considering they only mustered up two games. It was great to see them win at the garden last night, but the game served a higher purpose. With 13 guaranteed contracts and the likelihood they’ll only carry 14 players out of camp, the C’s only have one roster spot open for the likes of Greg Stiemsma, Gilbert Brown, Jamal Sampson, and Michael Sweetney. In my opinion, and based on how much he played and how he performed, Stiemsma’s going to be the man left standing. He put in 7 points off the bench last night, but ran the floor and showed how he could be a defensive presence for the Celts. None of the others really stood out in either preseason game, besides Sweetney for obvious reasons. It was like Danny called Vince Wilfork to come play. In the six minutes he played, the crowd erupted at the garden each time he merely touched the ball. When he scored his first and only bucket, on a failed dunk attempt, the garden lit up like it was Game 7 vs. the Lakers, circa 2008. I kind of felt bad for the guy but such is life.

With the season opener only three days away, many question how strong the Celtics will be. There’s been a lot of doubt in everyone’s mind as to how they’ll perform. It may not be as promising as past years, but I have faith. My pick for this year is E’Twaun Moore. Mark my word, this kid’s going to do big things. His quickness, vision, shooting, and ability to play to the people around him are going to come in handy this year, especially with the veteran presence the Celts have. I think we’re going to see good things come out of Moore this year. I’m excited to see him and the rest of the team in action come Christmas. Should be a good game.