A 24 point, 14 rebound, 14 assist triple double? Check. Connecting on a three-point dart with the game on the line to force a third overtime? Check. Dropping Danilo Gallinari square on his tush with the filthiest step back between the legs crossover of 2013? Yes sir, check and mate.
“Defense wins championships” is the old adage that everyone knows by heart, but a little offense never hurt anyone. The ultimate example of this has been the Boston Celtics, a team that regularly has an elite defense and a terrible offense. In fact, since the Kevin Garnett era started in 2008, the Celtics offensive ratings have ranked like this: 10th, 6th, 15th, 18th, 27th, and, currently, 24th.
An obvious decline has occurred in every season after 2008-09, and many interesting theories have risen to explain the cause. One theory that seems to be growing in popularity is the idea that the emergence of Rajon Rondo has led to the collapse of the Celtics offense. While this sounds reasonable, it seems to be a case of “correlation does not equal causation” in my eyes. Rondo has not exactly helped due to his lack of scoring ability, but the Celtics offensive problems stem from much larger issues. Read more…
Poor Paul Pierce. His second spill in as many games. For the sake of humanity, let us pray he never switches onto Jamal Crawford.
We’ll tally it as “half” of a murder because Nelson missed the shot. But wow. This was one of the most savage ankle-breaking moments I’ve seen all season. RIP to Paul Pierce’s ankles.
Paul Pierce doesn’t do anything uber-spectacular here, but a Brooklyn Net still falls to his knees. Good times all around.
Last night the Celtics offense made three-day old vomit look delicious. They put 26 of 78 shots in the basket, for an embarrassing 33 percent. On 14 attempts from behind the three-point line, three went in. Already thin without the liberating Avery Bradley healthy enough to play, Boston headed into this game in desperate need of getting something from their bench. Instead, Mickael Pietrus, Greg Stiemsma, and Keyon Dooling combined to go 2-10 (Ryan Hollins played 10 minutes and didn’t attempt a single shot. He did, however, badly miss two foul shots).
But hey, these are the Boston Celtics. They’re a team in love with the mid-range jumper, so we had to know a game like this was coming sooner or later. After scoring 27 points in Game 5, Brandon Bass went 2-12. Yay! Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, the starting backcourt, went 8-25.
But wait, it gets much worse. Read more…
In the week before Rajon Rondo re-entered Boston’s lineup, Paul Pierce averaged 22.5 points (on 48% shooting), 6.5 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 1.5 steals in just under 37 minutes per game. These numbers weren’t only impressive in their completeness, they were a glorious reflection to the type of fantastic play that saved his team’s season and made him an All-Star.
As Rondo let his delicate wrist heal, Doc Rivers adjusted the Celtics’ offense as any right-minded coach would. He kept it simple, designed a few plays to use in crunch time, and instead of over thinking the situation and panicking (Hello, Mike D’Antoni!) he placed the ball in the hands of his 34-year-old captain. In turn, Pierce has responded with MVP performances, and the type of methodic surgery very few—if any—small forwards are able to create on a consistent basis. Read more…
This week I’ll be ranking who I believe deserves to be a reserve in the 2012 All-Star game. All 14 players, from both conferences, will be lumped together and placed in order—from “totally obvious” (1) to “I guess he could maybe be an All-Star?” (14). Read more…
At first notice of this brutal behind the back shimmy throw down, I kicked myself for not putting it up a few weeks ago; back when Kris’ proposal to Kim was timely news. But then I googled her name and realized Kim Kardashian is pretty much synonymous with “timely news” thanks to the internet and its parasitic turn for the worse.
Anyway, this vicious Paul Pierce deke on Sasha Vujacic—thanks to his miraculous association with Katie Cassidy and Maria Sharapova, another one for tabloid fodder, although slightly less useful on a basketball court than Kim—is almost retro in its elegance. For all the talk of Boston’s guaranteed Hall of Famers being in the creaky stage of their careers, Pierce was the one guy who looked like he was pushing himself into some sort different level. It was like his game, one filled with hesitation dribbles and a shot selection that’s able to control the game’s pace, was made for a 33-year-old. He could depend on the three point line more and avoid criticism thanks to his age. It made sense.
Last season Pierce picked his spots like my mom going up and down different aisles at Whole Foods. Should I demand the ball and take these next five minutes over or sit back and watch Ray run off a few screens? Do we want Fruity Pebbles or Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries? After Marquis Daniels suffered his neck injury Pierce’s fatigue factor was the team’s largest concern, and the main reason Danny Ainge felt grabbing Jeff Green was imperative. Not Kendrick Perkins’ health or pending free agency but Paul Pierce’s ability to average 40 minutes a game between 16 and 28 grueling playoff games. After watching Miami run through the postseason with defense as their registered trademark, I stand by the deal; Perkins at 60 percent wouldn’t have cured their ails (although if he weren’t dealt there’s a good chance Boston has home court in the second round, but that argument’s for another day).
Excluding his foot injury, which occurred during Game 1 in the Miami series, from conversation, could Paul have gone through these playoffs flexing his muscles, well rested as a man who seems to be treating the final juncture of his wonderful career like an overseas pen pal he knew he’d meet someday? We’ll never know. What we do know is moves like the one you see above aren’t commonly made by guys in their 30s. It’s a sign that this Boston Celtics era isn’t quite finished. And neither is Paul Pierce.
Starting today, Shaky Ankles has a new feature called “Threes Nice” where three—or maybe two or four or 17—of the finest NBA related articles around the internet will be delivered.
1) As pointed out in the title, the Cleveland Cavaliers season has become one for the comedic ages.
2) The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers played in a relatively meaningless game last night. Should they meet in the Finals, neither squad, if healthy, will look the same. WEEI’s Paul Flannery has Paul Pierce basically agreeing, but the Celtics captain still offers nary an excuse.
3) Off The Dribble’s Rob Mahoney breaks down how last season’s Cinderella tried too hard in the offseason to push through its ceiling. Now, it could come back and bite them for years to come.