Taking Stock
December 28, 2008

Two straight losses are no big deal.  That’s going to happen in the NBA, and it might happen again.  The Celtics clearly are not worried.  But everyone is using this as a jumping-off point to reassess the C’s… so let’s take a look at the things we’ve noticed this weekend.

  • The Celtics are mortal

Every team, Boston or otherwise, becomes a victim of its success.  Haters hate even more, and as we’ve seen, revel greatly  in their losses.  Fans maybe overlook a few things and think they’re invincible.  But just as the Celtics have been saying, the streak means nothing.  Houston won 22 in a row last year, and where did it get them?

The Celtics lost to a good team and then lost their legs on the back end of back-to-back games.  If you look at it realistically, that’s not very shocking.

  • The Tony Allen experiment might not be working

James Posey was an effective defender for the Celtics for two reasons:  his brains and his size.  Tony Allen doesn’t have the size… and his basketball IQ isn’t near PoZ’s.  Of course, everyone knew from the beginning that Tony wasn’t going to “replace” Posey.  They’re different players.  Tony’s better than he was last year, and he’s not a bad guy to have on your bench… but he still seems to be hurting the team almost as much as he helps.

  • Ok, we need a big

Scott Souza makes the point today:  as much as we love Leon and Big Baby, we need someone with size coming off the bench.

The chess game is what caused P.J. Brown to go from afterthought heading into last year’s playoffs to perhaps the top center option off the bench at their conclusion. The acknowledgement of the weakness is what has kept Brown’s number in the cell phones of Rivers and others through the first three months of this season.

He goes on to make the point that the Celtics actually DO have a 7 footer on the bench:  Patrick O’Bryant.  But if he couldn’t get any PT when Perk went down, then he never will.  It was a nice try, Danny, but it’s time for plan B.  FYI: Joe Smith’s name keeps popping up.

We’ve talked about our bench before, and we’ll be talking about it again.  It’s a popular topic nowadays.  I’m not going to get all crazy about Eddie House backing up Rajon Rondo.  I don’t think that’s a main concern.  I think the main concern for the Celtics is their bench defense.  That is going to need fixing by playoff time.

One other note that is sort of being overlooked.  Both the Celtics and Cavaliers are currently on the same pace.  And as Marc Spears notes:

But if the Celtics were to lose again tonight and the Cavaliers were to beat visiting Miami, Cleveland would lead Boston by percentage points (.023). And with the importance of home-court advantage in the playoffs, the Celtics are definitely concerned about winning the top spot in the conference.

I still don’t think Cleveland is going to sustain this pace… but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re our top competition right now.  We’ll see how we both stand when the Celtics visit Cleveland on January 9.

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Don’t Overlook Washington
December 11, 2008

Three days off  + 4-15 team + New Orleans (and the return of James Posey) tomorrow could = let down tonight.  It’s not that I expect it… but the ingredients are there.   They did beat Detroit 2 nights ago.

They still have Caron Butler.  They still have Antawn Jamison.  Both are averaging more than 20 points per game.  Andray Blatche is wildly inconsistent, but is capable of a double double.  Again… I don’t expect it to happen, but it wouldn’t shock me, either.

As for tomorrow, James Posey is excited about it.

I’m really excited for the trip; I’m going to be getting my championship ring. That’s the reason why I play this game, why we all play this game: to have an opportunity to win a championship. It really meant a lot to me to have a chance to win a title in Boston, because of all the tradition surrounding the franchise. It’s pretty surreal to now be associated with and mentioned in the same breath as Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Larry Bird, and the list goes on and on. To be thought of as a player on that team when people look up and see the banner that reads “BOSTON CELTICS 2008 WORLD CHAMPIONS,” that’s something really special. It will be good to see all my former teammates as well. I keep in touch with KG (Kevin Garnett) and Sam (Cassell) all the time, and Doc (Rivers) and I text message each other all the time too.

Tip o’ the hat to Jess Camerato for finding Posey’s blog.  She also found out that the Celtics have the highest total attendance in the Eastern Conference so far this year.

Examiner:  Celtics start is the same, Ray Allen isn’t |  Herald:  Thorn sharpenedC’s-Wizards scouting report |  Globe:  Play points to Rondo having a Star chance Carmelo Anthony drops record 33 in 3rd quarter alone |  Souza:  Christmas will bring an LA gift | Ball Don’t Lie:  Buy the jersey Darko ripped off his chest Heart ailment forces Mobley retirementCavs win 10th straight |  Chris Paul:  15 pts, 15 assists

MVB: Most Valuable Bench
November 10, 2008

Associate Press Photo

Associate Press Photo

When is the last time you heard someone talking about James Posey around here? 

I haven’t heard it since the preseason, when the loss of PoZ was supposed to signal the demise of the defending champs.  But no one is talking much about him because our bench has been awesome.  And it’s not just one guy pitching in.  It’s all of them.  Anyone who comes in is contributing.  Even last night when Tony Allen picked up Paul Pierce’s slack… it was Eddie House who provided a spark in the first quarter by nailing a 3, setting up another, and drawing Allen Iverson’s second foul. 

So while our starting five is full of MVP’s… you can call our second unit the MVB.

Think of the Celtics like that cop-thing from Terminator 2.  Every time part of it goes away, the rest of it melts together to fill the gap.  Paul Pierce hit the bench in the first quarter with three fouls, and Tony Allen checked in with 23 points on 11-16 shooting.  The starters struggle with their jumpers, and House comes in with instant offense.  Detroit was hitting the boards early, and Leon Powe comes in to keep them at bay. 

I don’t know if “MVB” is it, but we need to come up with a nickname for our second unit.  I’ve seen a couple floating around in our comments… so let’s throw a few together and see what we can get.  Maybe we’ll make a T-shirt out of it.

Take a few minutes today to cruise through the latest Carnival of the NBA.  You’ve got a few dozen links to some great blogs out there. 

Herald:  Celtics rock in Motown  |  Cowens can’t help bleeding Green  |  Delonte tearing up the court for Cleveland  |  President’s dog bit C’s PR woman too!  |  Globe:  C’s smother Pistons  |  Suitors waiting on McDyess  |  Detroit Free Press:  C’s get defensive  |  ESPN Daily Dime:  C’s ruin Answer’s debut

Officially Out of Topics
October 27, 2008

Alright Celtics… time to start playing.  I’m toast.

I have the official list of story lines right here… and we’re tapped out.

  • Big 3 is old – check
  • Can Tony Allen replace Posey? – check
  • How’s Perk’s shoulder? – check
  • How’s our bench? – check
  • How do the new guys look? – check
  • Bang on the Lakers for still being soft – check

See… we’ve covered it all.  I’m done.  Tomorrow night we will stare in slack-jawed amazement… or giddy, um, giddiness… as they Celtics raise their 17th banner and get their rings.  Only after that is done can we really get back down to business and start breaking things down again.

I love covering a champion… but man this part of it is boring right now. 

Herald:  Patrick O’Bryant has to make gains  |  Tony Allen must be “2” guard   |  Globe:  O’Bryant seeking role in big picture  |  Atlantic division preview  |   Enterprise news:  New start for Ray Allen  |  Megliola:  C’s will be worth watching  |  Souza:  Repeat in the cards?  |  Eagle Tribune:  C’s preview – ‘You just have to win another’  |  Patriot Ledger:  Rondo must make his point  |  Basketball-Statistics.com:  How did the C’s become so good defensively

And here’s a look at the special shoe KG will be wearing for opening night, courtesy of the Globe.

Wicked Early Preview
October 1, 2008

Training camp is one day old… which means it’s a perfect time for predictions!

Actually… this is part of a massive effort in the NBA blogosphere to put together previews for every team.  It’s coordinated by Jeff at CelticsBlog and it will feature previews by something like 70 different blogs all month long. 

Today, we… along with a few other C’s bloggers… will put together a Celtics preview.  And the rest of this week, other Atlantic Division bloggers will put up previews for their respective teams that we’ll link to… and so on… and so on… all month long until every team is previewed.

So without further ado:

Team Name:  The World Champion Boston Celtics
Last Years Record: 66-16
Key Losses:James Posey
Key Additions:JR Giddens, Bill Walker, Patrick O’Bryant, Darius Miles 

1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?

With the Celtics handcuffed a bit by how much money is tied up in Garnett, Pierce and Ray Allen… the C’s had no choice but to go bargain shopping to fill out their roster.  The loss of James Posey will hurt in many respects… but the contract he got from New Orleans just wasn’t happening in Boston for a variety of reasons.

So the C’s went to the clearance aisle and pulled in two guys who could actually have a decent impact.  Patrick O’Bryant is a legit 7-footer who is very young and very raw.  In a best case scenario… he went into a cocoon this summer with Clifford Ray and started his metamorphosis… and he’ll emerge this season as legit post player who will rebound and defend… and occasionally score. 

In Miles, the Celtics have a reclamation project that they hope will pan out like so many of them have for the New England Patriots.  Miles’ skill was never in question.  But his attitude, and right now… his health, are huge questions.  Fears over his attitude have subsided to some degree because he has the motivation of returning to the NBA… and he’s doing so with an NBA champion full of strong-willed leaders.  He’ll either have to be part of the team… or the team will reject him.  If he gets healthy… he’ll be the steal of the off-season.

The selections of Giddens and Walker (the latter via draft-day trade), reflect the same philosophy.  Both had middle-round (or, depending on who you ask, lottery) potential… but both fell in the draft for different reasons.  Giddens can be an explosive wing player that will help the C’s by pushing the ball… and who will be helped by the veteran leadership.  His questions are also about his mentality… but he’ll have some strong leadership on which to rely.  Paul Pierce especially will be looked at as a role-model for Giddens, as Giddens started at Pierce’s alma mater (Kansas) and faced some similar, off-the-court incidents.  

Walker could be yet another second-round steal for Danny Ainge… who has made a habit of stealing productive players in what many consider a throw-away round in the draft.  Walker’s role model on the team will be Leon Powe… who also dropped in his draft year because of serious injury questions.  If Danny is right again… he’ll have yet another tough forward that will come in with a scowl and do a lot of fan-friendly dirty work.

2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?  Experience, Star Power, Depth (more…)

Questions… Questions… Questions…
August 25, 2008

Welcome to the part of the off-season where we forget the Celtics are defending champions and those seeds of doubt and anxiety start creeping in.  It kinda goes something like this:

“OH MY GOD!!! THE ROSTER IS FULL AND I STILL DON’T REALLY KNOW WHO’LL REPLACE JAMES POSEY!!!  AAAAARRRRRGH!!!!!”

To that I say… relax Chuck.  (It’s also the part of the off-season where Chuck and I take gratuitous, unwarranted shots at one another just to keep things interesting).  Jessica Camerato is already trying to answer those questions.

Rather than focusing on who the Celtics signed, the better assessment is looking at who the Celtics are bringing back. Despite losing Posey, they have kept their starting five in tact. Big men Leon Powe and Glen “Big Baby” Davis will be back with championship-winning experience under their belts and veteran guard Eddie House (and his clutch long-range shooting) is returning as well. The Celtics are not looking for Giddens, Miles, O’Bryant, and Walker to be game changers. The core of the championship team was built last summer and now it is up to these newcomers to uphold the Celtics’ winning ways.

She makes a good point.  It’s easy to sit there and sweat over who we lost.  But its who we didn’t lose that’s really big.  For those of you who are still on the fence about Darius Miles… here’s just about everything there is to know about him.

Tony Allen Ready To Move On
July 27, 2008

We’re looking for every sign we can get that Tony Allen is turning some kind of corner and can be the player we think he can be.  Here’s one.

He said it starts with ditching the cumbersome knee brace once and for all.

“I took it off because I ain’t wanting to wear it anymore,” he declared. “I was feeling strong just doing one-on-one drills, even just shooting drills and cutting drills. I felt I was mastering that. That’s what made me take it off.”

I ain’t wanting you to wear that thing either.  There’s a further glimpse, also, into the psychosis of Tony Allen… and Doc Rivers trying to break through that and get him to play with confidence.

“Doc was trying to push me all year,” said the newly re-signed Allen this week. “He was saying to me: ‘TA, your knee is not hurt! Quit saying your knee (expletive) hurt!”

We’re analyzing Tony a lot here now… because we need him.  I was fine with him never coming back, but now we need him… so we need to figure out if his head will be right. 

Buried at the bottom of Mark Spears’ notes today is this:

An NBA source said the Celtics remain interested in free agent forward Darius Miles, who hasn’t played the last two seasons because of a knee injury.

Is Darius Miles really going to play for the Celtics?  I’ve said no in the past… but maybe Danny is trying to pull a Belichick/Pioli and trot out talented reclamation projects that will give you a year or two of cheap production because the rest of the team is stable enough to control him.  It’s very Dog Whisperer:  Introduce the screwed up dog in to the stable pack… and 2 minutes later the dog is fetching newspapers and slippers. 

As for the competition, it looks like Josh Smith could be leaving Atlanta via sign-and-trade with some “Western Conference Power”… and maybe the Pistons.  I think the Pistons should make a run at Carmelo Anthony.  They could probably get him for less when think about how Denver is giving players away.  Sasha Vujacic’s threat to go to Europe earned him a few extra million to stay with the Lakers.  Ryan Gomes is staying in Minnesota.  And James Posey likes what he sees in New Orleans.

And Oklahoma City is apparently considering the following nicknames: Barons, Bison, Energy, Marshalls, Thunder and Wind.  Oh… please be the last one.  I can’t wait for their first blowout loss, followed by the headline: “Celtics Break Wind”.  And if you didn’t think the fix was in to move that team out of Seattle before… you might after reading this.

James Posey: Head (And Wallet) Trumped Heart
July 22, 2008

Not that I blame him… because I would have done the same thing if I was James Posey.  But PoZ says leaving Boston was very hard to do.

From a personal and professional standpoint, leaving the Celtics was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do,” Posey said yesterday from his home in Houston. “But at the end of the day it was a business decision, and there were no hard feelings. I hope this is something that works out for both of us. It was a tough business decision, and that’s all I can say. At the end of the day, both sides were happy with what took place, and you have to move on. This was business with no hard feelings. 

This is probably the last we’ll hear (or at least write) about Posey.  It’s a nice little finish to the whole Posey stint in Boston.  We’ll always appreciate you buddy.  And bolting Boston made it possible to bring back House and Allen.  There’s also more talk of the C’s being interested in Devean George… but Danny isn’t letting on

“I’m not going to comment on any guys,” Ainge said yesterday of available free agents. “I’m not chasing anybody down. I feel we have a solid team now and I’m going to take some time off.”

If you’re interested in watching the Celtics get their “Best Team” ESPY from Jack Bauer and a pug wearing a plunging neckline… here ya go.

Elsewhere, the Denvers Nuggets appear to be in full fire-sale mode.  They’re willing to trade anyone, even Allen Iverson and his expring $21 million contract

RufusOnFire (a Bobcats blog) has a theory:  the masses will correctly pick 14 of the 16 playoff teams next season.  Go here to vote (via TrueHoop)

The Gerald Green domination of games that don’t matter continues.

And LeBron’s shoes have a message for him

Three Years: Too Much?
July 20, 2008

This is all very new for us.  Playing armchair GM for a World Champion is different than doing it for an also-ran.  Our inclination is to re-sign all of our guys and go at it again with what we had last year.  But that is obviously not going to happen… and maybe it shouldn’t. 

To keep James Posey, we would have needed to go 4 years… which could have been a problem down the road.  And now to keep Tony Allen and Eddie House, the Celtics might have to go 3 years.  This is buried at the very end of Marc Spears’s piece today about Marcus Camby whining about his trade:

an NBA source said the Celtics are still strongly interested in signing two of their free agents, guards Eddie House and Tony Allen. The source, however, said House and Allen are receiving interest from other teams, and are seeking three-year deals.

I don’t know about you guys… but 3 years definitely sounds like too long of a deal for Tony Allen.  Maybe Eddie too.  I could maybe be convinced to do 3 years, $7-$8 million for House… but will anyone give more than $2 mil/year to a guy who has a career average of 7.5 ppg?  I used to think Eddie was worth $3 mil/year or so… but I’m not sure what he’ll get in this market.

As for Tony… he’s got a lot to prove.  I don’t know how many GM’s are going to give that guy 2 years, never mind 3.  He needs a Posey-type deal from last year where he’s got a player option for year 2, so he’s got a little security but also the “contract year” pressure.

Hey, if you want one of those new Celtics license plates…. go to the Watertown Mall on Tuesday… sign up for one… and get your picture taken with the Larry O’Brien trophy.  Big Baby will be there too.

The hot rumor out there is that the new OKC team will be called “The Thunder.”  Lame.

Now We Can Start Making Moves
July 17, 2008

Now that the Posey stuff is out of the way, Danny can start making some moves.  That’s good news.  Everything hinged on PoZ.  He was either going to get signed and we’d cobble together what was left…. or we’d be here… with a full MLE to split up. 

Our starting 5 is coming back.  That much we know.  After that, it’s kind of a mess right now.  So here’s where we stand:

  • Returning:  Glen Davis, Leon Powe, Gabe Pruitt, Brian Scalabrine
  • Signed Free Agent:  Patrick O’Bryant
  • Unsigned Draft Picks:  JR Giddens, Bill Walker, Semih Erden
  • Potential Losses:  Tony Allen, PJ Brown, Sam Cassell, Eddie House, Scott Pollard
  • Gone:  James Posey

The starting 5 and our bench (including O’Bryant) equal 10 players.  Giddens and Walker make 12.  That means probably 1 or 2 players will be signed.  Danny will leave some wiggle room with an empty slot or two for later in the season.  Plus, with the C’s in luxury tax land… they won’t pay anyone they don’t have to pay.

First order of business… sign our draft picks.  Giddens needs to get into town soon so we can figure out how much of James Posey’s production he’ll replace.  Maybe he and Walker can combine to take care of more of the load.  We won’t know until they’re both in the fold and playing (which Walker should be able to do in 2 weeks or so).