Tag Archives: NBA

Murphy, Pavlovic, Arroyo — The Celtics that You Don’t Know

Carlos Arroyo Celtics

The Celtic's Carlos Arroyo

By Matt Moore, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA

Since the trade dead line in mid-February, the Celtics roster has been turned upside down.With 21 games left, it’s up to Doc Rivers to find a fit for all the new acquisitions, and for those players to learn the system and find a role. We’ve already had a pretty good look at what Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic can do. Krstic is fitting nicely as the starting center, and Green has found himself contributing late in games. But besides these two, the Celtics also have three other new players. Let’s take a look at each, and what they can potentially bring to the C’s for their playoff run:

Troy Murphy: Murphy is a veteran with size and good outside shooting. He looked pretty rusty in his first few outings, but it was expected after only playing in 18 games prior to arriving in Boston. Playing in Indiana last year, he posted an impressive 14 points and 10 rebounds per game, while having a decent percentage from behind the 3-point arc. Coming off the bench for the Celtics won’t give him an opportunity to match these averages, but it shows what Murphy is capable of producing. No one the Celtics brought in can match the defensive presence of the departed Perkins, but Murphy is another big body that can get rebounds, help control the paint, and also chip in offensively. You can see why the Heat wanted Murphy just as bad as the Celtics did, and thankfully Murphy chose Boston. It’s hard to say how much Murphy would play in a shortened rotation come playoff time, behind Green and Glen Davis. But if called on, Murphycan hit a big shot when needed.

Sasha Pavlovic: Pavlovic wasn’t a name that many people were talking about coming to Boston, but after being bought out the Celtics made a move on him. At 6’7”, he has good size and is a career 40% shooter from the field and 35% from behind the arc. He also comes with playoff experience, as a role player during Cleveland’s winning seasons. Doc Rivers has praised Pavlovic for his defensive abilities. One thing the Celtics lacked was a player off the bench who could shutdown, or at least contain, an opponent’s primary scorer. They had that with James Posey and then with Tony Allen; now they are hoping that Pavlovic can help along with Green. Pavlovic rounds out the roster and gives the Celtics another player that Rivers can put on the court with confidence when needed.

Carlos Arroyo: The most recent addition is Arroyo, who was let go by Miami after they signed Mike Bibby. There was some talk of Bibby coming to Boston, but in my mind that would not have been a great fit. Besides his past issues with Boston’s fans, Bibby isn’t the productive player he used to be. Arroyo is a welcome surprise to the Celtics, and a better pick up than Bibby. Primarily a back up his entire career, Arroyo puts up decent numbers for a reserve point guard. He can distribute the ball and shoots at a high percentage. Adding another experienced point guard was a key following Delonte West’s most recent injury. Avery Bradley can’t be expected to back up Rondo if West ever went down during a playoff series. The Celtics now have a little more insurance at the point guard spot.

Time will tell how these players work within the Celtics system and with the core players already in place. Expectations for these three aren’t as high as Green and Krstic, since the Celtics didn’t give anything up to acquire them. Nobody is claiming that these three are the final pieces that will guarantee the Celtics an 18th banner. But looking at the roster, you have to like it a little better than when it featured Semih Erden and Luke Harrangody. Any contribution they can make will be welcomed. How many healthy players we have and how deep of a rotation Doc wants will determine their playing time in the playoffs. But if it comes down to it, I have confidence that these three, especially Murphy, can make a difference in a few games.

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Stat of the NBA Season — Thus Far

The Miami Heat are 14-16 against teams over .500 — if I was Chris Bosh I’d be crying too.

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Celtics Sneak Past the Jazz 107-102

Nick Green

A Celtics victory over the Jazz is nothing to write home about — Boston typically yawns its way through any game not against the likes of the Lakers or the Heat. That said, I watched all of last night’s Celtics game in an effort to get my first glimpse of this new look Celtics squad. It was a hell of a game, with a few notable happenings worth sharing.

1) Ray Allen scored 20 of his 25 points in the last 7 minutes of the game, including 3-3 shooting on ridiculously off-balance 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter. He iced the Jazz and ultimately won the Celtics the game.

2) Newcomer Nenad Krstic had 11 points and 8 boards, while new arrival Jeff Green made an unbelievable block with the game on the line. A solid start for the new guys.

3) Kevin Garnett, who has been receiving quite a bit of flack on this blog for his dirty play of late, was up to his tricks once again — except this time they all worked out perfectly. This included a scuffle with Al Jefferson at the far end of the court, leading to a frustrated Jefferson charging Garnett in a desperate effort to score on the ensuing possession. Garnett forced Jefferson into traveling, getting the ball back for the Celtics at a key moment. Even better yet was when Garnett decided he had to stall the game and fix the padding around the edge of the backboard in an effort to give a winded Paul Pierce an additional moment to catch his breath before shooting a free throw. The look Garnett received from the ref was priceless, but Pierce made the shot.

4) The Jazz’s Derrick Favors, the 3rd overall pick in the 2010 draft class, is a beast. I’d look for him to be a good player for a long time to come.

The Celts have a really easy stretch of games coming up, starting with the Suns of Wednesday night.

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Kendrick Perkins Traded by Celtics — Why?

Kendrick Perkins Traded

Kendrick Perkins was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder yesterday, in a move that leaves nearly every Bostonian I’ve talked to scratching their heads. Shortly before yesterday’s 3:00pm trade deadline Celtic’s GM Danny Ainge apparently decided his team’s Eastern Conference leading 41-15 record wasn’t quite good enough, retooling the Celtic’s roster by sending 4 Celtic’s packing. Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson traded to  Oklahoma, backup center Semih Erden and Marquis Daniels sent elsewhere in exchange for draft picks. Now I know the Celtics are old, but are we really going to begin rebuilding in the midst of a season where we’ve got as good of a title shot as anybody?

While the Celtics acquired Jeff Green and his 15.2 ppg from Oklahoma, offense is simply not what the Celtics need. To draw an Alanis Morissette parallel, the Celtics roster is now “like 10,000 spoons (scorers) when all you need is a knife (defenders).”  This was never more evident than in the playoffs last year, when Perkins’ defense was a major key to containing the likes of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. Last offseason’s battle cry was “we need more depth at center,” and in Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal it looked as though Danny Ainge had complied. Then he goes out and trades his starting center and a backup center who had shown major potential? While Jeff Green is undoubtedly a much better player than Perk, this is simply a circumstance where the Celtics got worse by adding a better player. It appears as though Ainge has something of a love affair with Green, who he originally selected as the 5th overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft before trading him to acquire Ray Allen.

Also acquired in the trade was Nenad Krstic, a 7-footer cited for a lack of defense and rebounding ability (is that possible at 7 feet?). That’s exactly what we don’t need — another clumsy big body for Pau and Dwight to light up — it just doesn’t make sense. The good news is this seems to suggest that Ainge has indications that the O’Neal twins will be returning to the Celtics’ line-up soon — or that he’s got some other trick up his sleeve.

The only reason that I can see for this trade is that Danny Ainge has loved the spotlight being on the Celtics for the past few seasons. He’s looking towards the future, trying to keep the Celtics relevant, all the while hurting our title chances this season, not to mention greatly shaking up one of the best team chemistry’s in the NBA. Note to Danny — 2 or 3 years from now even if you can hang on to Rondo we’ve got no chance anyways. Those will be the years of the Heat, the Knicks, the Bulls — Jeff Green is not going to make an impact against Lebron or Carmelo.

So really, what the hell were you thinking Danny?

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Rajon Rondo is the Celtic’s MVP

Rajon Rondo has quickly established himself as one of the 3 or 4 best point guards in the NBA. Sure, he’s playing with 3 first ballot Hall of Famers, which has undoubtedly led to his success. That said, Rajon Rondo has officially landed. In my eyes, he’s the most important player on the Celtics and will ultimately be the determining factor in whether or not the Celtic’s 18th championship banner will hang in the Garden’s rafters at the end of the season.

Yesterday’s 85-82 win over the Miami Heat was case in point. Trailing by 4 at the half, Rondo took it upon himself to guard Lebron James for most of the second half. Playing probably the most harassing defense I have ever seen on a basketball court, including harassing Lebron while he was in the Heat’s huddle (awesome!), Rondo was clearly able to get under the King’s skin. Rondo recorded yet another triple double, scoring 9 of his 11 points in the 3rd quarter resulting in a 14 point Celtic’s lead going into the 4th quarter. The Celts hung on for the win, and Lebron went home fuming.

After the game, nearly every Celtic credited Rondo’s energy as the pick-me-up that led to the victory. I’m a bit worried that yet another Heat loss to the Celtics will only fuel their fire come the post season, but after last week’s loss to the Lakers this was a big win. Despite lacking anything resembling a jump shot, Rondo has proven that his quickness, energy, and ability to spread the ball can take over a game. While Rondo is not likely to be hitting any game winning shots, I’d bet that if the Celtics have any playoff success this year Rondo will be their MVP.

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Ray Allen or Reggie Miller? Who Takes the Last Shot?

Ray Allen or Reggie Miller

By Matt Moore, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA

As the Celtic’s Ray Allen closes in on Reggie Miller’s all-time record for three pointers made in the regular season, it’s only fitting to pit the two sharpshooters against one another.  Going into Friday’s game against the Bobcats, Ray is only (34) 3-pointers behind Miller’s mark.  There are two ways to approach this matchup, one being which is the better player and the other being which would you want taking the last shot with the game on the line.  For me, the latter is a more interesting question because their career statistics show very similar numbers:

Miller played 18 seasons with Indiana after being selected 11th overall back in 1987. He made 2,560 3-pointers with a 39.5% shooting percentage.  Overall, he averaged 18.2ppg, 3rpg, and 3ast with a 47.1% field goal percentage. He made 5 All-Star teams and didn’t win a Championship.

Allen is in his 15th season, his third with the Celtics, after stops in Milwaukee and Seattle. He’s made 2,526 3-pointers with a 39.6% shooting percentage. His career line includes: 20.5ppg, 4.3rpg, and 3.7ast with a 45% field goal percentage. Ray has made 9 All-Star teams and has won one ring.

The stats show that this a player comparison is pretty much a wash. Ray has the edge in 3-point percentage and points per game. Miller has him in shooting percentage and 3-pointers made, at least for a few weeks.  The advantage Ray has is that he is still playing, and doing so at a high level – he is enjoying his best season as a Celtic.  Statistically, they are similar talents. However, if I had to say who is the better player then I would say Allen.  He’s just a better overall talent.

But the real question is this: If you need a 3-pointer at the end of the game, do you draw up a play for Ray Allen or Reggie Miller?  My initial reaction is to give the ball to Ray.  Now am I biased because he plays for the Celtics? No. I’m biased because I don’t like Reggie Miller and I never really have.  Something about the way he carried himself on the court always annoyed me, as did the way he kicked his legs out while shooting in an effort to get cheap calls.

That said, you can’t deny that Miller has hit some big shots in his career in even bigger games.  He played in 144 playoff games, and shot 39% from three (Allen has played in 101 games, shooting 40.1%).  Everyone remembers the 8 points in 8.9 seconds against the Knicks in the ‘95 playoffs.  In Game 4 of the ‘98 Eastern Conference Finals he hit a three with .7 seconds left to beat Jordan’s Bulls 96-94.  In 2001, Miller gave the eighth seeded Pacers a 1-0 series lead against Philadelphia in the first round when he hit a game-winning three with 2.9 seconds left. The next year Miller did all he could to stave off elimination against the top-seeded Nets in the first round.  In Game 5 he hit a buzzer beating three from 35 feet to force overtime. His dunk with three seconds left in overtime also led to double overtime, where the Pacers eventually lost and were eliminated.

Allen’s résumé isn’t as extensive in regard to the playoffs.  In 2009 he hit a game winning three to beat Chicago in Game 2 of the second round.  He hit 8 threes in Game 2 against the Lakers in last years Finals. He’s also come through during regular season games.  Celtics fans may remember winners in 2007 against the Raptors, the insane play against the Bobcats, and in 2009 against the 76ers and Charlotte again.  And this is just with Boston.

So putting all these games up against each other proves what? Each has made big shots at various levels, be it in playoff games or regular season games.  Miller was the man in Indiana his entire career and had to make those shots for his team to contend.  Allen had similar situations in Milwaukee and Seattle, but now shares the load with Pierce and Garnett.  The knock against Allen is that he hasn’t played in the same number of big games as Miller, and has even disappeared a little when given the opportunity (0-18 shooting against the Lakers in 2010’s Game 3, for example).

Like I said, my first reaction would be to say give the shot to Ray.  But when you look at what Miller has done in big games, even on the road, you have to like you’re chances with him taking the last shot.  I don’t enjoy choosing Miller, but from an objective standpoint I have to do it. It hurts, but I’ll take Ray for the first 47.5 minutes, then Reggie to close it out.

And who knows, even if he misses, he may stick a leg out and get the foul call.

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Appreciating Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan San Antonio Spurs

I caught the late night edition Sportscenter last night before I crashed, and fought to keep my eyes open as I watched highlights of the San Antonio Spurs game. Between my closing eyelids I was able to make out Tim Duncan’s line for the game — 15 points, 18 boards, and 11 assists. “Tim Duncan gets no credit,” I said to my roommate. “Years from now when asked to name the best centers in NBA history, Duncan will be left off that list all to often.” A brief conversation ensued, and my roommate (a wise man) largely agreed. So here it is — I figured it’s time Tim Duncan got his due.

My initial reaction to Duncan’s numbers last night was this — If Rajon Rondo (who I love) had a 15 point, 18 rebound, 11 assist game the Sportcenter anchors would be on their knees worshiping him (as they often are). Sure, Rondo does this in a flashy, electric manner (which is worth something). But Duncan should not be penalized for putting up these numbers and yawning six times while doing it. That’s exactly how many times the commentators yawned as they watched him do it. Nonetheless, his contribution is the same.

Sure, he’s a somewhat boring, very fundamental player to watch. Sure, his personality is as exciting as your average plain graham cracker (not even the cinnamon or chocolate ones). All of this hurts his image, his legacy, and leads to his underrated status. But sit back and take a minute to tell me how you can under-appreciate this:

Duncan is 30th on the all-time scoring list, with only 7 centers ahead of him. All of those players have played many more games than he has at this point (he’s 34 years old). He is 24th all-time in rebounds and 11th all-time in blocks, again, playing far fewer games than the players ahead of him. His average game for his career is 21 points, 11.6 boards, and 2.3 blocks. In the playoffs he averages 23 points and 12.4 boards per game.

Those are nice numbers and all, but what really wowed me is this:

Duncan has played in every all-star game since the ’97-’98 season with the exception of the ’98-’99 season. In that same period he has won the Rookie of the Year award, 2 NBA MVP awards, 3 NBA Finals MVP awards (Kobe only has 2), and has made 12 NBA All-Defensive teams. He’s finished in the top 5 in MVP voting 9 times.

Oh yea, and he’s won 4 NBA championships. Considering he won the Finals MVP in 3 of those years, it’s fair to say he’s pretty responsible for those banners hanging in the rafters in San Antonio. Few players, if any, have had more to do with their team winning championships.

I appreciate Tim Duncan. The question is, do you?

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