Rajon Rondo Suspended for Altercation With Kris Humphries

The bad news just keeps rolling in for the Celtics. This time starting point guard Rajon Rondo will be suspended for the next two games due to his physical altercation with Brooklyn Nets forward Kris Humphries yesterday.

Gerald Wallace and Kevin Garnett were also both fined for “escalating the incident.” Wallace was fined $25,000, while Garnett was hit with a $35,000 fine. Humphries wasn’t suspended or fined.

The fight started shortly before halftime during the Nets blowout win.

At the time, the Nets were up by 16 points. Kevin Garnett was driving to the basket when Humphries fouled him. Garnett fell to the floor, and by the time he got up, the pushing and shoving already started.

Rondo took exception to the foul and started shoving Humphries into the crowd. That led to other players going into the stands to pull them apart and for others to go and stick up for their teammates who were part of the scrum. Nets forward Gerald Wallace was the most physical player, outside of Rondo and Humphries, was shoving Garnett around pretty good.

So the question is, was the suspension Rondo received justified?

I believe it was. I’m probably in the minority for what happened, but the fact remains, he was the main aggressor. Humphries fouled Garnett a little harder than normal, but that’s basketball. But after the hit, it seemed like Garnett sold his fall to the referees a little bit. In other words, it was a little more dramatic than usual. Typical of NBA players these days.

What Rondo should’ve done was get in Humphries face, have a few words, and maybe shove him a little bit. Shoving meaning a few pushes, and not pushing him into the stands. That’s it. He probably wouldn’t have gotten suspended or even fined, and if he did get fined, it would’ve been real small.

My whole issue is everybody saying it’s good he showed toughness and leadership, and that he’ll stick up for a teammate. Does Rondo really have to prove to the world that he’ll stick up for Garnett who has been his friend and teammate since 2007? No it doesn’t. This isn’t the streets of Boston or Lawrence, Mass., where you’re trying to prove to your high school buddies that you’re tough. People promoting and saying Rondo “kicked Humphries ass” are ill-informed. If Rondo is going to be a leader, he needs to show better judgement. Celtics analyst Donny Marshall said it best by saying “being a leader means staying on the court.” Even Celtics coach Doc Rivers said it was a boneheaded move by Rondo. I understand that he won’t throw his players under the bus, but Rivers is usually a pretty stand up and honest guy. I believe he meant what he said.

I like Rondo a lot. He’s improving everyday. There was a time where I never thought he’d learn how to shoot a decent midrange jumpshot, but now he does. What he needs to improve on is his judgement of situations. This is the third time he has been suspended in the last nine months. That’s unacceptable of someone who is going to be a leader.

Personally, I think he isn’t ready to be called a leader. Some media members might have put that label on him because of the way he plays and facilitates a game.

But right now, Rondo is more of a leader in training, and whether or not he becomes a real leader is debatable. For all we know, he might not even want that title. The way I see it, as long as Paul Pierce is playing, this will be his team until he retires.

Darko Milicic to Leave the Celtics

In an article for ESPN, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said that backup center Darko Milicic will be leaving the team for the rest of the season so that he can take care of his sick mother in Serbia.

Milicic played in one game for the Celtics back on Nov. 2 during the team’s home opener against the Milwaukee Bucks. He played just five minutes, and had one rebound, two turnovers and one foul.

Rivers said that the team has known for a while that Milicic’s mother has been sick, but he never thought that he’d leave the Celtics to go and take care of her.

Rivers added that Milicic wasn’t himself since he got news about her her health.

Analysis

With Milicic leaving, this opens a roster spot for the team. Unfortunately, Rivers said the team isn’t in a rush to sign anyone. As Celtics’ fans know, that is hogwash. He’s obviously not going to come out and say he and Danny Ainge are going to sign someone. They will fill the spot, but it won’t just be anyone.

Right now this team can’t rebound. In fact, it’s more pathetic than last year. The free agent options for big men are slim pickings. Ainge could sign Chris Andersen or Kenyon Martin, but that’s it. A trade is possible, but most of the guys on the roster can’t be traded immediately because they were just signed.

Signing a point guard is also another option. Delonte West anyone? However, another guard on the roster isn’t needed right now.

The reality is, the roster spot that’s open is for someone who’ll occupy the bench. Milicic wasn’t getting minutes and unless a game changer comes in, that next person won’t be playing much either.

This situation will be interesting to follow between now and Christmas. If anyone comes in, it’ll be someone who can rebound.

Photo (cc) by k1k0.com and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Celtics Get Thumped by the Bucks at Home Opener 99-88

This game was another stinker.

No urgency, horrible defense, too many turnovers, no rebounding, bad shooting and early foul trouble. The complete recipe for a disaster, and it was all against a bad Milwaukee Bucks team.

Inexcusable loss.

For a team that prides itself on defense, tonight it was non-existent. When Kevin Garnett is in full control of what’s going on in the defensive end, then the Celtics have a good chance in winning. But that was nowhere to be found tonight. The Celtics were eaten alive by the fast and talented backcourt combination of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. It was the second straight game where the defense looked lost. Obviously, the new guys are still learning, but the display over the last two games has been atrocious. The learning curve has been pretty slow.

Rebounding is still a joke. It has been for a few years now. Five guys stand around while James Franco’s twin Ersan Ilyasova pulls down 11 rebounds, including four offensive ones, is unacceptable. I know the Celtics like to get into transition after an offensive possession, but watching them get beat on the boards is painful. Teams that don’t rebound, don’t win championships. Ask Bill Russell about how important rebounding is.

The offense was just as bad as the defense. There was no urgency at all in pushing the ball, and that led to turnovers and bad shots. It was Jekyll and Hyde for the offense all night.

The Celtics shot just 30 percent in the first half, including a pathetic 28.3 percent in the second quarter. When the first half finished they were down by 16, and with just a few minutes left in the fourth quarter, they were down by 22. The Celtics did come back in the second half by shooting 61 percent, but the defense and poor decision-making in general killed them.

Let’s look at some individual performances.

The floor general Rajon Rondo had just three assists in the first half. As a leader, it’s his job to get the ball into the hands of his shooters and to make defenses work on every possession. That didn’t happen. By the time Rondo turned it on in the second half, where he had eights assist, it was too late.

Part of the reason Rondo had a bad night was probably to due to Paul Pierce’s ineffectiveness. He was pretty much useless tonight. Pierce had three fouls, two turnovers, and two points in just 10 minutes during the first half.

This reminds me, what is going on with Pierce’s shooting recently. It has been atrocious. He has chucked up some horrible shots recently. Has he morphed into Antoine Walker or something? What gives. I know he was injured last year, but his shooting in the first few games this year have been reminiscent of last year. A year ago, his shooting percentage was .443, down from .497 the year before. Let’s hope age isn’t taking over his body.

With him gone, Jeff Green took his place and he didn’t look to good either.

Green did play better than he did against the Miami Heat a few nights ago, but he still sucked. I don’t know why, but he has a hard time handling a pass and getting into the paint. Green was doing that during the preseason, but after all that was just the preseason. In 27 minutes, he scored just 11 points. Out of those 11 points, seven came in the third quarter where he made all three shots, including a 3-pointer. Overall, for someone who needed to redeem himself after that stinker in Miami, he failed.

Garnett did alright on offense. Nothing to write home about. Under Garnett’s standards, he sucked.

He struggled making easy shots under the basket in the first half, but scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half. I wouldn’t worry about Garnett.

Basketball’s favorite whipping boy Darko Milicic played in his first game with the Celtics, and it was quite forgettable. He looked like a lost little boy looking for his puppy tonight. In just over four minutes, he had two turnovers, a foul, a rebound and a missed shot. That was all in the first half too. Doc Rivers never let him leave the bench after that.

Looking at Jason Terry, he too had a Jekyll and Hyde game. He played only nine minutes in the first half and struggled where he missed his only two shots. In the fourth quarter alone, Terry made all four of his shots including two 3-pointers in all 12 minutes of play. Pretty impressive. Like everyone else though, there was too much inconsistency and when he started to heat up, it was too little and too late.

Despite Terry’s inconsistencies, I’m wondering if he should start over Courtney Lee, who was brutal tonight too. In 33 minutes, he scored just seven points and had three turnovers. One of the turnovers was an ugly pass that was intercepted by Jennings, who took the steal and blew past the Celtics up the court for an easy basket. In fact, that was one of six steals Jennings had in the game too.

I was also disappointed in Rivers tonight. Usually I agree with most of what he does, but not tonight. I never thought I’d see the day that he’d give a rookie more minutes than a veteran. In this case, we’re talking about Jared Sullinger, the young and talented power forward who so far has looked overmatched against the competition. Don’t get me wrong, I think Sullinger will turn out to be a very good player, but I think there’s too much pressure on the rookie. Tonight, he played in 18 minutes. That’s more than double the minutes that Milicic and Chris Wilcox received combined. One of the veterans should’ve gotten more of Sullinger’s minutes. Wilcox has been aching to play, and letting Milicic play just four minutes doesn’t cut it. If Rivers is just going to yank a player like that out of a game for below average basketball and not play him again, they might as well release him.

Oh, Leandro Barbosa went back to being irrelevant too.

If there was a bright side to the game, it’d have to be Brandon Bass. He didn’t have a game like he did against Miami, but he played extremely hard. Bass had 10 points, six rebounds and three uncanny assists. He did struggle on the defensive side like everyone else. Help and rotating defensive schemes that involved him broke down. Jennings and Ellis were able to blow past him for easy scores.

It was also nice to see Wilcox back after his season was cut short last year due to a heart irregularity, which required heart surgery in the offseason. He scored two points.

Overall, the Bucks are a bad team and the Celtics should’ve won. They know it, you know it and I know it. Next up is the Washington Wizards. They’re probably worse than the Bucks. Beating them shouldn’t be an issue for the Celtics, but after tonight’s performance, who knows. One thing for sure is that the defense needs to shape up quick. Rebounding has to be better and defensive needs to pick it up if they want to win. No more allowing 120 or 99 points. The Celtics are better then that. The offense needs to get on the same page and show some urgency too. Consistency, consistency, consistency is the important factor if they want to win.

Celtics Defense Fails Against LeBron, Ray and the Heat in a 120-107 Loss

Oh my God, the Celtics lost! Kevin Garnett looks old! Jeff Green stills sucks! What happened to the defense! The Heat are going to win another championship! The Celtics are suck!

Relax. It was only one game. Luckily, there are 81 games left. Sure, some guys didn’t play well, but overall this was a complete team loss. Let’s call this loss a result of first night jitters, and the team having their minds occupied by other things.

So, what went wrong.

The Celtics were outgunned and outrun. They were beaten in every facet of the game by a talented Heat team. The biggest issue in general was that the defense failed. A few days ago, Doc Rivers said the team’s defense has ways to go and judging from this game, it sure as hell does.

For a team that has prided themselves with having a stingy and suffocating defense, tonight it looked to have more holes in it then Swiss cheese. It isn’t easy to stop LeBron James. In fact, no one really can.

Tonight the Celtics allowed him to get easy baskets, especially in transition. The Celtics are usually pretty good in transition, but LeBron loves even more. It’s a way to get easy baskets by running and gunning. He did it a several times while the Celtics defense was regrouping and got some dunks that got the Heat fans going crazy.

While LeBron had his way with the defense, Dwyane Wade cooked both Courtney Lee and Jason Terry. Wade led the Heat with 29 points, while Ray Allen dropped an additional 19 points against his former team. Not a good defensive showing by the Celtics’ shooting guards.

Jeff Green’s defense was atrocious as well. He allowed Rashard Lewis, RASHARD LEWIS, to score and pull down rebounds. Green still has a lot to learn when it comes to defense. Hopefully tonights

The one thing that seems to ring true whenever these two teams play is Chris Bosh and the way he handles Garnett. It seems Bosh is just too talented for Garnett to handle. During the playoffs from the past season, Bosh turned the Eastern Conference Finals around when he came back from an abdominal injury with a deadly jumpshot and the ability to get into the paint. Like Allen, Bosh dropped in 19 points and had 10 rebounds.

Tonight was one of the worse defensive showings the Celtics have put on since Garnett arrived in 2007. In fact, the Celtics have only allowed 120+ points three other times during that timeframe. It was clearly a bad game.

Turnovers killed this team too. Garnett had five, Rajon Rondo had four and Terry had three. Unacceptable. Turnovers against teams like the Heat will always result in a basket.

The bench scoring was also so-so. Jared Sullinger did absolutely nothing, but you’d expect that from a rookie whose first NBA game is against the reigning world champs. Terry was basically a no show as well. In 25 minutes, he had three fouls, three turnovers and just eight points. Like I mentioned earlier, his defense wasn’t good as well. It was clearly a forgettable performance.

Green was also absent on offense like he was on defense. In 23 minutes, he didn’t make one shot and had just three points, courtesy of some free throws. Green looked like the Green from the half season he played with the Celtics after he was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2011, where he looked lost and undecided. Hopefully, tonight was just a bad game for the $36 million man.

Garnett was a non-factor for most of the night too. He did pull down 12 rebounds, but he was in foul trouble for most of the game.

There were a few positives that came out of the game.

Leandro Barbosa, who was literally signed off the street a week ago, led the bench with 16 points in 16 minutes. He shot 6-8 from the field and made all three of his 3-pointers. His speed and shooting ability kept the Heat on their toes and if it wasn’t for him, then this game wouldn’t have gotten to within four points near the end. Solid, solid game for him.

Lee did alright, he scored 11 points on 5-6 shooting. Paul Pierce led the Celtics in scoring 23 points and had a good all-around game despite shooting 6-15 from the field.

Rondo was close to another triple-double on national TV, but he finished with 20 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds. The numbers were good, but it wasn’t one of his best games. His emotions got the best of him to a point where he was close to getting thrown out. He even gave Wade a flagrant foul that might result in a fine from the league. It was a Jekyll and Hyde game for Rondo.

The best player on the floor was Brandon Bass. Every game is giving him more and more confidence. He had 15 points on 6-11 shooting with 11 rebounds and just one turnover. He did everything great. After the game, Rivers even said he played great.

All in all, I call this game a pancake game. When you make pancakes, the first one always has filling in it. But after you make the first one, the next few don’t have batter in it, and you end up getting used to making them until they come out perfect. That’s the Celtics right now. This team will figure things out within the next several games and a repeat of tonight’s performance should be common. It was just a poorly played game.

Celtics Pick Up Avery Bradley’s Option for 2013-2014 Season

The Celtics exercised the 2013-2014 option for Avery Bradley today. The extension means he’ll fulfill his entire four year rookie contract, then become a free agent after that season.

Bradley will make $2,511,432 for the 2013-2014 season. He’s making $1,630,800 this season.

Analysis

This move was expected.

Bradley will be the starting shooting guard next to Rajon Rondo once he gets back from rehabbing his shoulders after receiving double shoulder surgery in the offseason.

He emerged as a defensive star last season after Doc Rivers had to use him to fill in for an injured Ray Allen. Once Allen came back, it was hard to take Bradley out of the starting lineup. He wasn’t only playing defense, but he was nailing 3-pointers and jumpshots on a regular basis.

Bradley formed a strong relationship with Rondo to a point where they had excellent chemistry. Rondo would use Bradley’s speed on slash plays where Bradley would run pass his defender and go under the basket to take a Rondo pass to lay it in. In the playoffs, their chemistry drove the Hawks, 76ers and Heat crazy and once Bradley was injured, the Celtics were much weaker.

It was fun to watch, and as the second half of last season went on, Celtics’ fans knew they had a budding star on their hands. Bradley even led Allen to leave Boston because Rivers planned to put him in the starting lineup over Allen who’d come off the bench, which was something he wasn’t keen on.

Next up for Bradley, besides getting healthy, is to get a contract extension. Hopefully, the development of Bradley is proof that the Celtics will keep trying to develop young players so they don’t have to rely on the free agent market for veterans to round out the roster.

For now, it’s going to be fun watching Bradley for the next two years.

Kris Joseph Earns Final Roster Spot

WEEI has reported that 2nd-round draft pick and small forward Kris Joseph has earned the 15th and final roster spot for the Celtics.

The 6’7″ Joseph played four years at Syracuse University before getting drafted by the Celtics this past June.

His best game during the preseason was against the Brooklyn Nets where he scored 11 points in just 12 minutes, while shooting 5 for 7 from the floor. Joseph also grabbed five rebounds in the blowout win.

Analysis

Unless the trade of a lifetime comes across Danny Ainge’s desk, the 2012-2013 roster is pretty much set.

It seems now that Rob Kurz and Micah Downs will be getting cut since Joseph got the last roster spot. This was expected once it came down to him, Kurz and Downs.

At the beginning of training camp, I thought Dionte Christmas would get the last roster spot as he was tremendous during the Summer League, while Joseph was up and down. It seemed even more set in stone once Keyon Dooling retired, but Christmas struggled against seasoned NBA veterans. After Leandro Barbosa was signed, it seemed that Joseph would make the team over Kurz and Downs because of his skill set.

Joseph also helped himself by playing hard through anything that Doc Rivers threw at him. He opened eyes with his scoring ability and willingness to get into the paint for a basket during a few games in the preseason. He also rebounded and kept his turnover ratio down, which is a very good thing. All things considered, he did well.

Now despite making the team, his roster spot is in no way secured for the long haul. His contract doesn’t become guaranteed until January 10, so between now and then, and in the words of Kevin Garnett: Anything is possible.

So looking ahead, what does the future hold for Joseph?

It’s a good bet he won’t see playing time while he’s with the big club this season. Unless, Jeff Green or Paul Pierce go down for an extended period of time, and I sure as hell hope that doesn’t happen, look for him to go play in the NBADL with the Celtics affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. Up there, he’ll learn the offense and defense a little bit better, and will get the playing time he needs to keep active. If Joseph is part of the Celtics’ future, then there’s no point in having him ride the pine for 82 games. Having him get experience is the best thing for him.

Photo (cc) by Stephanie Rita Hart and republished here under a Creative Commons license. All rights reserved.

The Biggest Surprise of the Preseason: Jeff Green

Jeff Green was an athletic freak during the preseason. His athleticism and the way he played led some people to compare him to Los Angeles Lakers great James Worthy, who was an athletic freak and built like Green himself. Hell, even Worthy acknowledged Green’s talents, but the humble Green didn’t want to hear that and felt he wasn’t worthy enough (pun intended!) of that standard. That’s the promise Green showed this preseason.

After not playing one single game last year because of heart surgery, and playing a mediocre 2010-2011 season; Green was the biggest surprise.

Many people wondered what his play would be like after missing last season. Some fans even scratched their heads wondering why GM Danny Ainge would cough up a 4yr/$36 million contract to keep an unknown commodity in Boston. Experts and people from around the NBA said Green’s contract was the worse in the league.

However, he shut up many of those “experts” with his play on the court.

What was different? Athleticism.

His athleticism was the main difference and could be seen sprinting up and down the floor. Baskets were being dropped and he was second on the team in scoring to Paul Pierce averaging out at 13.4 PPG.

He was also rebounding and blocking shots too. Yes, he was blocking shots and at a regular rate. Against the New York Knicks he blocked two shots and against the Philadelphia 76ers he blocked four more. That was something he hasn’t shown since his college days at Georgetown University.

Rebounding has always been a weakness for Green, but this preseason he was among the team’s top rebounders averaging about five a game. In fact, he pulled down 10 of them against the 76ers as well.

I’m not saying Green will win a scoring title, but his youth and athleticism at the small forward and even the power forward position will give the Celtics a weapon they haven’t seen during the Pierce and Kevin Garnett era. Green will provide quality minutes off the bench and will give Pierce a good breather during the regular season. Look for Green to play 20-25 minutes every night. If he keeps his play up during the season he’ll keep getting valuable minutes.

Believe me when I say this, if Green is really good off the bench, I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts games over Pierce. I think the Celtics’ plan is to integrate Green into the starting lineup in hopes that he’ll be Pierce’s heir at the small forward spot for many years to come.

Photo (cc) by Keith Allison and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.