Archive for the ‘Boston Celtics’ Category

Jose Calderon and Rajon Rondo

In the Blogger GM Series, I’ll email bloggers for other NBA teams and try to make a trade happen while pretending that we’re the GMs of our respective teams. It’s one of the more ridiculous ideas I’ve had recently, so I naturally knew I had to try it. In this series, I’ll print the email correspondences with these bloggers and encourage you to give your opinion on the trade proposals.

In part one of this series, I tried to pry Rajon Rondo away from Jeff Clark of Celticsblog.com.

Scott writes:

All right, so I was listening to the November 30 episode of the ESPN: NBA Today podcast on my drive into work today, and they were discussing the possibility that Danny was dangling Rondo in the hopes of getting some extra scoring punch. Well, how does a 20 PPG player strike you? Here’s my proposal, which works under the ESPN Trade Checker:

Celtics acquire: Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon
Raptors acquire: Rajon Rondo and Jermaine O’Neal

As well as giving you a couple of good-to-great offensive players, it also fills out your starting lineup nicely if you choose to play it that way. KG’s defense and rebounding can help make up for Bargnani’s deficiencies in those areas. As another option, you could sign a defensive-minded free agent center and start him, and then use Bargnani for 25-30 minutes per game as a potential sixth man of the year candidate. With Calderon, he’s obviously not nearly the defender or playmaker that Rondo is, but he’s a much better shooter and arguably a top-10 playmaker (8.9 assists per game last season).

Why this trade appeals to me is that the Raptors need to rebuild and they’ve hired a defensive-minded coach in Dwane Casey with the goal of improving significantly on that end of the court. Rondo is one of the best defenders in the league at his position and he’s young enough to be a valuable piece in the Raptors’ rebuild. As for O’Neal, the Raptors would waive him under the new Amnesty rule so that he could try and attract interest from a contending team.

What do you think? Try not to sprain your fingers by typing “YES” too quickly…

Jeff replies:

Read the rest of this entry »

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This game was out of reach in a hurry

Whatever it is that you would expect when a 27-7 team who is 15-2 at home hosts a 12-23 team who is 5-13 on the road, you got it on Friday night in Boston.

The Raptors hung with the Celtics for about four or five minutes before the flood gates opened.

If you watched the first quarter, you saw that the Raptors actually weren’t playing that poorly (but they did commit six turnovers), and yet still found themselves down 12 after giving up 34 points. The message was sent in that opening quarter: either play above your heads, or prepare to be run out of the building.

Jay Triano said that on Wednesday in Cleveland, he didn’t need to say anything after the first quarter. All he had to do was write “38 points” (the amount the Raps had given up in the first quarter that night). Well on Friday night in Boston, Triano should have simply written “Luke Harangody.”

The rookie out of Notre Dame was enjoying a coming-out party against the Raptors, and the embarrassment of that alone should have woken the team up.

More turnovers, atrocious defence and an all around lackadaisical second quarter all but sealed the Raptors fate. The Raps headed to the break down 22, and the Celtics were shooting a blistering 66 per cent thanks to the piss-poor Toronto defence.

The Raptors getting trounced in Boston should come as no surprise, so fans shouldn’t have been too upset.

But having said that, the young Raptors are still expected to at least pretend they despise losing. Aside from DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon, if you watched the players’ reactions in the first half, you could see there was really no problem with getting skunked.

Even more frustrating for fans was the lack of playing time given to Julian Wright. Wright has been one of the few consistent performers for Toronto this season, is the team’s best defender, does all the little things right and was coming off of his best showing of the season in Cleveland. Considering all of that, and considering that defence would be necessary to hang with the stingy Celtics, it was mind-boggling to see Wright play only five minutes in that ugly first half and just 13 minutes overall.

The second half was filled with missed opportunities for the Raptors. Here were the most glaring of those opportunities.

With the Raps down 15 in the third quarter, the Celtics miss a shot and four Raptors hover around the basket. Somehow, Ray Allen comes up with the rebound, which results in a Nate Robinson three-pointer. Later in the third, the Raptors have it down to 13 and Andrea Bargnani is backing down Glen Davis. He proceeds to fire an air ball from the paint.

Early in the fourth quarter, Toronto had actually sliced the deficit down to 12, and were able to get a stop. Leandro Barbosa then launches a rocket-pass off of Linas Kleiza and out of bounds. The Raptors get another stop, Barbosa gets the ball again, and promptly throws it away…again. Barbosa then attempted to redeem himself on the defensive end by leaving Ray Allen open, which quickly resulted in an Allen three.

In a matter of minutes, the Celtics lead was back up to 21.

Yes, the Celtics did dominate the Raptors, as expected. But the Raps also had their opportunities to make it interesting, and repeatedly shot themselves in the foot when presented with those opportunities.

From an individual standpoint, no one was really good, but DeRozan, Calderon and Kleiza were at least respectable. Most of the men in red were cringe-worthy on this night, to put it mildly. And perhaps no one was worse than Andrea Bargnani. After scoring 48 points in his first two games back from injury, I expected Andrea to attack the Celtics bigs and create some matchup problems.

Instead, Bargnani was thoroughly outplayed by Luke Harangody. Need I write more?

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 42 Min, 20 Pts, 8-15 FG, 4-4 FT, 3 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Blk

Celtics Player of the Game: Luke Harangody – 27 Min, 17 Pts, 8-11 FG, 1-1 3Pt, 0-1 FT, 11 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Blk

Goat of the Game: Leandro Barbosa – 26 Min, 15 Pts, 5-13 FG, 3-8 3Pt, 2-2 FT, 1 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO

Nate Robinson and Shaquille O'Neal

You don’t need me to tell you that the Boston Celtics will be hard for the Raptors to compete with tonight. They’re 15-2 in Boston this season and Rajon Rondo is healthy and coming off a ridiculous 12-point, 22-assist, 10-rebound performance on Wednesday. Plus, the Celtics have won 14 of their last 16 meetings with the Raptors, including five in a row at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston.

You know how Leo Rautins likes to give his three “keys to the game” before every Raptors game? I’ve got just one for the Raptors: Play way, way over your heads for around 48 minutes.

Injury report

Toronto: Sonny Weems is still out, while Jerryd Bayless is questionable for tonight.

Boston: Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West are all estimated to return to the Celtics lineup later this month.

Five questions

1. Do you think Jay Triano should start Julian Wright instead of Linas Kleiza tonight after Wright’s stellar performance against the Cavs on Wednesday?

2. Do you think a Celtics-Heat matchup in the Eastern Conference Final is a foregone conclusion?

3. Is Celtics rookie center Semih Erden the greatest player to wear jersey number 86 in NBA history? Why, yes… yes he is.

4. Would anyone object if I used a Nate Robinson photo for every game thread whenever the Raptors play his team for the rest of his NBA career?

5. Do you think the Celtics have to sedate Nate Robinson and put him in a crate when they travel? Sedated Nate in a crate… on a plane.

Start time: 7:30 PM ET
Channel: TSN
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Boston: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis, Shaquille O’Neal

In tribute to the fact that I just learned that Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys is now cancer-free, our pregame song for tonight will be a track from my favorites Beasties album, “Paul’s Boutique”. They’re all winners but I might as well go with Track One, Side One — which as you surely know is “Shake Your Rump”.

In a battle of two banged up teams, the vastly superior side came out on top. But give the short-handed Raptors credit. They gave it a good fight and had the sell-out crowd buzzing.

The 14-point margin is no representation of the game witnessed by nearly 20 000 at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors played the Celtics tough from the opening whistle, and for most of the game, matched them blow for blow.

While Toronto never actually won a quarter, they did dabble with the lead a few times and trailed by just one at the half.

Up until late in the third quarter, neither team had opened up more than a six-point lead.

The pace of the game was frenetic in the first half, with both teams playing a little on the sloppy side. This style made for some exciting basketball, and clearly seemed to favour the younger, fresher legs of the Raptors. Hence, why they were legitimately in this game.

The other reason the Raps were hanging around was DeMar DeRozan. Coming off of a career-high 37 points in Houston, many wondered how the sophomore would respond. Any critics were silenced early, as DeMar attacked the basket fearlessly, knocked down some jumpers and got to the line a respectable eight times.

DeRozan has been, and likely still will be, inconsistent for some time (He went 11-0f-25 tonight). But something about his demeanor has been different in the last two games. It really does look like something “clicked” for him.

The Raptors also got the usual inspired performances out of their young bigs rotation of Joey Dorsey, Amir Johnson and Ed Davis. The trio combined for 29 points and 32 rebounds, while staying mentally checked in on the defensive end. Joey Dorsey, especially, impressed with 13 and 13. It will be interesting to see how Jay Triano handles his minutes once Andrea Bargnani is ready to return.

The fun-loving good times were bound to end at some point against the Celtics, and sure enough, they did. Paul Pierce got hot, Ray Allen was Ray Allen, and slowly but surely, a three or four point lead became nine, then 12 and so on.

Realistically, the Raptors were not supposed to hang with the Celtics, let alone beat them, even without Garnett. But if you watched this game, then you know the Raps had their chances to take control.

Every time Toronto made a run, whether it was to take the lead early on or to cut into the deficit later in the game, it always ended in the same ways. Either a great look was wasted, free throws were missed, or the ball just didn’t bounce the Raptors’ way.

Linas Kleiza, Jose Calderon and Leandro Barbosa missed a ton of open shots that could have changed the complexion of the game (The trio was a combined 9-of-38 from the field) and the Raptors, as a team, were an atrocious 10-22 from the charity stripe. When you’re shooting that poorly, you’re not going to win close games against teams like the Celtics.

And about those bad bounces, how many more times do we have to see this? The Raptors will actually play a solid defensive possession, maybe knock the ball loose, bodies go flying, and yet somehow, the ball finds its way to the other team’s best shooter for an open three. It seems like this unfortunate sequence of events has become commonplace in Raptors games, and over the course of a tight ball game, those plays add up and usually bite you in the you know what.

Next up for the Raptors are the Bulls, in Chicago. You’ll remember that the last time the two teams met, the Bulls absolutely punished a beat-up Raptors squad.

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan -41 Min, 27 Pts, 11-25 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 5-8 FT, 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

Celtics Player of the Game: Paul Pierce -36 Min, 30 Pts, 10-15 FG, 3-3 3Pt, 7-8 FT, 7 Reb, 4 Ast (Pierce also threw down a ridiculous dunk that took the wind out of Toronto’s sails, then left the game shortly after because he sprained his ankle)

Goat of the Game: Leandro Barbosa – 29 Min, 8 Pts, 3-12 FG, 0-4 3Pt, 2-3 FT, 1 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl, 5 TO

Nate Robinson

The miles on the Celtics’ aging, creaky bodies are catching up with them a third of the way into this season. After a ridiculous 23-4 start to the season, they’ve lost three of their last four games and Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo will probably both be in civvies for today’s one-off at the Air Canada Centre. Regardless of how meaningless a Raptors win would be today for the fortunes of these teams by the end of the season, the Celtics are definitely vulnerable for an upset.

It’s difficult to compare these teams right now because they’re likely to be missing at least two players each from their starting lineups. In particular, the dropoff from Rondo to Nate Robinson is a massive one for the Celtics and it’s no coincidence that they haven’t broken the 100-point mark in any of their last six games. And if Garnett is also a DNP today, they’ll be easier to score on as well. If the Pistons were able to beat the Celtics 104-92 on Wednesday with Garnett and Rondo on the sidelines, then the Raptors have a shot today.

Injury report

Toronto: Sonny Weems and Andrea Bargnani are both probably still out, while Jerryd Bayless is doubtful with a sore ankle.

Boston: No Rondo and no Garnett makes the Celtics a beatable team.

Five questions

1. Can DeMar DeRozan carry over his confidence from his career-best 37-point performance against the Rockets on Friday?

2. Remember when Avery Bradley was being discussed as an option for the Raptors’ 2010 first round pick? He’s played 65 minutes this season and made 4 of 17 field goal attempts. (Note: Due to “The Patrick Patterson Corollary”, I expect Bradley will get his first career double-double today.)

3. Where does Linas Kleiza rank in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) among players who have taken at least 322 field goal attempts so far? OK, this is obviously a completely arbitrary stat and I’m well aware that nobody is asking this question, but Kleiza ranks 85th out of 87 NBA players this season under this criteria.

4. Has there ever been an NBA starting lineup with a higher “clown percentage” than the Celtics’ likely starting unit which will include Shaq, Big Baby and Nate-Rob?

5. Have any of you finished any good books you got for Christmas? I just finished “Griftopia” by Matt Taibbi, which is about what really caused the American financial disaster in 2008. I recommend it highly both for entertainment value and for gaining an understanding of what and who contributed to the meltdown.

Start time: 6:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN2
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, Joey Dorsey, Amir Johnson
Boston: Nate Robinson, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis, Shaquille O’Neal

Instead of a pregame song for you today, I’ve got renowned Celtics fan Mark Wahlberg in this submission for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his work in “The Fighter”. Who could have given a better performance in this role? Not you.