Has Marbury Lost His Swagger?
April 22, 2009

Came across this article about Marbury in Newsday:

Marbury should be an effective player for the Celtics. He should give them more scoring off the bench, when Ray Allen needs a breather, and another penetrating guard for those drive-and-kicks that Rajon Rondo has mastered. But the most noticeable issue with Marbury is, after sitting out for over a year, his trademark first step isn’t what it used to be (and the second one is even less explosive). Perhaps more concerning for Rivers than anything Marbury is showing physically is what you see from him mentally. He looks like he’s trying too hard. Hesitating. Second-guessing.

I felt that Marbury was coming around. He had developed some chemistry with Eddie House and was starting to pile up the assists (averaging about 4.5 apg in his final six games).

The shot has not been there consistently. He’s just 1-6 from the field in the playoffs with a combined -19 +/-.

Maybe its rust, maybe its a problem establishing a rhythm off the bench. Your thoughts?

Other news: Derrick Rose will be named Rookie of the Year

“I should have played him more”
April 19, 2009

That’s what Doc said about Stephon Marbury after practice today.

“Steph’s going to be fine. He should have been more aggressive but I should have played him more,” Rivers said after practice on Sunday. “I don’t think I played Steph enough last night to get him going. I thought in the first half the second unit actually had a nice little rhythm going, and in the second half I didn’t play him as much.”

Meanwhile, Ray Allen ended today’s practice with a three pointer… showing that *gasp* he can still shoot!  Rondo had some thoughts about making life easier for Ray and Paul.

“Probably get him shots in transition,” Rondo said of Allen, “that’s how he gets his jump shots. He didn’t get any layups — he missed a dunk — the way our team is built, especially with KG (Kevin Garnett) out, we need to get out on the break a little more, get Ray and Paul easy shots, get them to the free throw line. That way, their jump shots are flowing easier.”

Easy shots will be nice.  But it’s really simple.  Run your offense, make your rotations on D, and you’ll win.  They can’t hang when you do that.

Our HONOR Is At Stake!
April 12, 2009

1987-celtics-bench

Today at 3:30 pm, the Boston Celtics will not play the Cavaliers in a basketball game.

No… they will engage the Cavaliers in an epic battle for this franchise’s HONOR!  The Cavaliers are on the verge of stealing a jewel of this franchise’s history… our coveted 40-1 home record.  Today, the Celtics are White Knights on a mission to defend the history of the NBA’s greatest franchise.  It is a task so awesome, Doc Rivers is bringing in help to address the troops:

“I’ll send Danny in to give them that speech…”

So God speed fair troops.  Defend thy franchise’s history with your lives.  This truly is your most important task to date.

Ok, so I’m clearly being melodramatic.  A win today will be nice, and I’m sure the Celtics would like to send a message.  This isn’t really about protecting “40-1″ (although it would be nice to see the Celtics hold onto the record), this is about planting a tiny seed of doubt in the minds of the Cavs and their fans.

In fact, the Celtics are in a win-win situation.  Lose in Cleveland, and people will let the Celtics slide for being like everyone else, and for losing without KG.  Win in Cleveland, and the story line becomes “wow, they won there without KG… what will happen in the playoffs?”

But no matter what happens, a little too much will be made of the result.  A Celtics win will prove they can win in Cleveland… but doesn’t guarantee they will in the playoffs.  A Cavs win proves they can defend home court… but doesn’t guarantee they’ll do it throughout the playoffs (or even against Philly to end the season).  In the end, it’s mostly fodder for the writers and talk shows.

The Celtics most certainly can win today.  They can do it by going under screens and turning LeBron into a jump shooter.  They can do it by attacking the middle of that Cavs defense and drawing some fouls on their bigs.  The can do with an improved Stephon Marbury continuing the attack and hitting that mid-range jumper or kicking to Eddie House for 3.

But whatever happens, don’t make too much of it.  We know from last year that the playoffs are a different game… and it’s hard to determine just how hard two teams who have locked up their playoff seeds will go today.

Herald:  Celtics seek road less travelledKG may return for season finaleA victim of Gang Green |  Globe:  Cavs find success with missing piece | Garnett aims for Wednesday return |  Souza:  Ray Allen evolving his game |  Plain Dealer:  The Q will be hoppin’Cavs and C’s don’t lack motivation today

Leon Returns To Practice
April 10, 2009

It was just a run-through, but it shows the troops are getting healthier.

Scal and Leon joined 11 other players in running through plays at this morning’s shootaround. R Allen and Marbury also returned to practice.

Before you know it, everyone will be back.  Doc’s problem has been a lack of bodies recently… will his new problem be too many guys who should get minutes?  I love Doc, and I agree with Jeff Clark… he’s a good coach… but I also know his weakness is doling out minutes when he’s got too many options.

Steph’s Getting Comfortable
April 9, 2009

Last year, the Celtics’ bench was a big key to winning the championship.   This year, it’s being looked at as a bit of weakness.  But we might be hitting a turning point.

The new guys, Mikki Moore and Stephon Marbury, are starting to get it.  Moore looks worlds better than he did at first.  He’s starting to trust the defense, which means he’s not fouling as much.  And he’s making the baskets whenever that opportunity is there.

But Steph is really starting to make some great progress.  He’s attacking without forcing things.  He’s finding guys in their sweet spots, which allows the offense to flow.  And he’s getting his own shots within the offense.  And it’s all because he’s getting more comfortable.

“The last two practices I’ve just been getting it, getting into a rhythm of what they do offensively,” said Marbury. “Defensively it’s kind of simple because all you have to do is play hard and the setup and the concepts are pretty much the same. But offensively you’ve got to learn what you want to get out of the offense, knowing when to be aggressive…I’m learning that, I’m adjusting.”

I asked him about it after the game on Twitter.

@starburymarbury I’d say this was your best game as a Celtic. Feeling more comfortable with things?

@RedsArmy every game i’m getting better, learning the offense makes it alot easier

Another Twitter user asked him about being a bench player, rather than a starter.

@StarburyMarbury U r def making an impact, but do u find it hard to “find your groove” as Iverson complained about coming off the bench?

@NajaB its hard. i understand what he is saying but you have to look at tbhe big picture

I know Steph has said if the Celtics want him, he’ll be here next year… but I think he’s going to be much happier next year as a starter.  Regardless, he’s getting it on the court right now.   And if this bench is clicking when they head into the playoffs… watch out.

Out Sick
April 9, 2009

Via the Celtics Twitter page:

Ray Allen and Stephon Marbury wer sent home from practice today, each suffering from effects of a stomach bug.

Maybe they just wanted to catch the Red Sox game.

New on Comcast, KG talks with Greg Dickerson about how much he likes to talk on the court.

Ainge Likes Our Chances
April 6, 2009

Boston Globe Photo

We’re heading towards a training camp-type lull here… so I’m psyched to be getting back to practice today.  For now, we’ll have to settle for the guy who put this team together telling us how much he likes the job he did.

“I’m much more comfortable,” he said. “Much more comfortable. We added depth and experience. I love the energy that Steph and Mikki are playing with. I think that shortly we’ll start seeing them play without thinking. I think the wheels have been spinning. People forget that last year when we brought Sam (Cassell) and P.J. (Brown) in, they weren’t thrust into the action so quickly because our team was all healthy. We were able to bring them along slower, where with Steph and Mikki, when they came in our team was depleted and had injuries. So we needed them and they had to play right away.”

Actually, those are good points.  He made another good point when he talked about why this year’s team is different than last year’s.

“I think last year we hadn’t been through it,” he said. “I think we came out of the gates in the playoffs really ready to play, but I think we took Atlanta lightly after we blew them out in the first two games. I think that affected us the rest of that series.

“I really think we’ll be ready this year. Like I said, I love our team.”

I agree with him here.  A year of experience will change how these guys play in the postseason.  I think the Celtics will be better than a lot of people expect.

Globe: Perk anchors defense |  Camerato:  Ray reaches new heights while conditioningCavs return home, return to winningBynum might return this week

@StarburyMarbury Is Winning Me Over
April 3, 2009

marbury-twitter

Stephon Marbury's proof that his Twitter account is real

Maybe there IS something to the notion that Stephon Marbury is misunderstood.

Or maybe this is proof that it’s easy to achieve some level of redemption.

A lot has been written about Steph.  Admittedly, a lot of that was written right here by me or Chuck.  And I’m not going to pretend to know Stephon Marbury.  But Stephon Marbury, @StarburyMarbury for you Twitter-heads, is slowly winning me over.

The first step in Steph’s road to redemption has been his overly-unselfish style of play so far in Boston.  He’s rusty and new, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying to find his teammates.  He hasn’t tried to shoot his way out of his early struggles.   Maybe Marbury learned from Sam Cassell, walking in out of nowhere and gunning won’t score you many points with the fans.

The second step for Steph has come via the now Lord and Master of the internet universe:  Twitter.  A few nights ago, Steph sat in front of some computer somewhere in Greater Boston, and he just started interacting with people.  Actually, it started after practice, just before 3pm, when he sent this tweet:

Today I dunked, can feel my legs coming back. Not worried bout my shot coming,it’ll come in time. Defense & dropping dimes r what its about.

Pretty cool.  Nice to see he’s focusing on the right things.  But  then at 9:29, he started replying to people.  Every couple of minutes, until 11:03, Marbury was sending @reply after @reply… and an explanation.

with the spare time on my hands i wanted to do something different on my own. this was another way to talk to the bostonians.

and the people all over the world. i like the direct connection to the fans. no espn, no local news, just me and twitterland.

And that’s why athletes are starting to flock to Twitter… and why fans are following them there.  Interacting directly with fans, even 140 characters at a time over the web, removes a barrier.  We get to see a little bit of who these guys really are.  There’s no canned sound bite.  There’s no camera in anyone’s face after they missed two free throws and lost.. and they’re more pissed at themselves than we can ever be at them.  It’s just them, logging in on their terms, and being real.

I don’t  know who Stephon Marbury is.  I’ve never met him.  I’m not going to pretend that him replying to me on Twitter suddenly makes us buddies.

And maybe human nature is such that the slightest hint of being genuinely nice is enough to make you consider wiping out years of what you’ve read and heard about someone.  Or maybe I’m just a sap.

But I want @StarburyMarbury, keep doing what he is doing… on and off the court.  I like it.  I’m embracing it.  And maybe we will see him in June, at a championship parade, doing this:

you will see me fighting to hold the trophy crying if that day comes-it will all have been worth the wait if/when that day happens

Follow me on Twitter:  @RedsArmy Follow Chuck:  @BigMck

By the way, we’re going to keep the voting in our Dancer Madness West Bracket open until 11:30 am.  At this very minute, 7:01 am, ONE vote separates Jessica from Alexis.  A HUGE comeback for the top seed.  This is good.

Herald:  Without KG, C’s still confidentHawks @ Celtics scouting report |  Globe:  Big men taking on bigger rolesHawks thumbnailsMaine NBDL team named “Red Claws” |  Camerato:  NBA goes green Time Warner / Comcast squabble could pull C’s game off some networks |  Enterprise News:  Pierce racking up the minutes |  Megliola:  Feeling nervous about KGCeltics playoff tickets on sale today at 10amCavs lose, on the road, to Wiz

Turning Point?
March 30, 2009

Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

I’m trying not to get TOO excited about Mikki Moore’s double-double.  I mean… it did come against the Thunder, and they’re not setting any defensive records.

But considering how Mikki has been playing lately, a double-double against my rec league team is kinda big news.  And Doc says part of Moore’s problem, has been in his own head.

“Mikki’s starting to understand that when he’s open he should shoot the ball, because he can really shoot the ball,” said coach Doc Rivers. “Honestly, I thought he didn’t think he was worthy. When you’re on the floor, it’s an adjustment when you’re next to Paul and Ray [Allen], Kevin [Garnett]. You’re open and you think, ‘There’s no way I should shoot the ball.’ And what we’re trying to get him to do . . . that’s what you do, shoot the ball.”

Defensively, Mikki’s starting to catch on too, now that he’s breaking bad habits.

“Letting go,” Moore said. “Knowing that if I leave my man somebody will help me. That’s the biggest thing. When I got here my reaction time was slow. I was worried about leaving my man. Everybody was telling me, your man is not your man anymore.”

And let’s not forget Stephon Marbury, who seems to be catching on lately too. And believe it or not, the biggest problem with Steph is that he’s passing too much.

“Slowly, but it’s coming,” Rivers said. “The only thing I told Steph at halftime is I thought he had open shots and he was thinking pass. Even the one, you remember when he bobbled it out of bounds, that was a layup but you could see him. He was catching the ball to pass. He has great instincts and I thought he did that in the second half.

Finally… the quote of the night… courtesy of Doc on Big Baby’s awesome night:

“Once they hit him, he was a different player.  I’m going to start carrying a hammmer around”

Check out “Baby Frankenstein’s” postgame interview.  Pretty funny.

Herald:  KG remains on sideline Smokin’ House stirs Celtics in time Celtics bloody good win |  Globe:  Pierce, C’s too muchDoing OK playing KGCuban fined for blasting refs on Twitter |  Camerato:  Scal pushes too hard, suffers setback |  Souza:  C’s quiet Thunder |  NewsOK:  Rondo offers advice on WestbrookCavs winLakers lose

Stay Positive People
March 28, 2009

I’ve been scouring the web this morning for any and all updates on KG’s knee. Sore? Re-injured? Out for regular season? Out for playoffs? Career-ending? Amputation? We turn to Marc Spears for the answer:

An NBA source said Garnett still has discomfort and tightening in his knee. Rivers said Garnett will likely miss tomorrow’s game against Oklahoma City, but solid practices could allow him to return Wednesday against Charlotte.

Doc added that if the playoffs started now, KG would be playing. So let us all take a deep breath together and just relax. He will be fine.

Glen Davis was great last night. Sure he had 19 pts, 12 reb but his effort really set the tone. Not to get all Zen on you this morning but it was like KG’s spirit lived in Baby’s body for the game. The team fed off of Davis’ energy.

How about the rebirth of Starbury? A season-high 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, made 3 of 4 3-pointers, and dished out 2 assists. He looked comfortable and confident.

Rajon Rondo had subpar game (9 pts, 5 assists). But his performance had more to do with a sandwich then his ankles:

“It was something I ate in the first half,” Rondo said. “I didn’t have a lot of energy. I shouldn’t have eaten that before the game. I had Chick-fil-A with all that barbecue sauce and honey mustard. It didn’t settle in too good. So I came in [at halftime] and had a couple bananas and some juice and I felt better in the  second half.”

I’ve heard of Chick-fil-A but never knew what the hell it was. Thanks Rondo.

Today’s Links: Herald – Garnett Rests Knee | Davis Double Double Powers Cs| Globe – Mind Over Matter | Atlanta Journal – Hawks Stumble at Home |Lakers Clinch Top Seed in West | Manu Returns for Spurs|NBA TVKG, Ray Joke With Ahmad in Locker Room |

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