Rondo: 'We're making the same mistakes in our defense'

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Rondo: 'We're making the same mistakes in our defense'

BOSTON Lay-ups. Dunks. Jumpers out of the pick-and-roll.
You name a means of scoring, and there was a very good chance the San Antonio Spurs found success with it against the Boston Celtics.
And the end result was a 112-100 Celtics loss, a game whose score offers a glimpse into how problematic things are right now for the Celtics defensively.
"We pride ourselves on defense," said C's point guard Rajon Rondo. "And we're just not getting it done."
And it has left C's coach Doc Rivers searching for answers as to what it will take to remedy the defensive struggles his team continues to find itself in on a seemingly game-by-game basis.
It was suggested that maybe the Celtics simply need to play harder to snap out of their defensive doldrums.
Rivers shot that theory down quickly.
"We've got to do our coverages better; bottom line," Rivers said. "Harder and all that, that sounds great. That's what everyone says when you lose; 'you've got to play harder.' Well, we've got to play smarter, we have to know our coverages better, and when that happens everybody is on the same page and it allows our rotations to be freer, it allows our bigs to get back to the paint."
Still, the C's do tend to allow players too much freedom and comfort when they attack the rim.
"We're not taking away anything," Rondo said. "We have to do a better job -- not to hurt anyone -- but not let guys finish at the rim. We have to make them go to the line. It's a collective team effort. It starts with me. I have to do a better job on pick-and-roll coverage and try to get back and help my bigs rebound."
Many of the C's breakdowns came about in their pick-and-roll defense that the Spurs essentially picked apart all game long.
San Antonio had 58 points in the paint compared to Boston's 34. When it came to second-chance points, the Spurs crushed the C's, 17-2. The second-chance points discrepancy spoke volumes about how lopsided the game was on the boards with San Antonio holding a 41-25 advantage.
"It's tough, it's tough," said Kevin Garnett when asked about seeing such lopsided numbers put up against the C's defensively.
Garnett said Wednesday's game was indeed a blow to the Celtics' defensive identity.
It's hard to argue otherwise when you consider they've given up 100 or more points in five games this season, and three of the last four.
"But you know what? It's not going to be the first time (the C's give up a lot of points)," Garnett said. "But it is some positives to this. I'm sure Doc will pull them out and we'll pull them out as a team as we gather and get ready for our next game."
Maybe so, but for those who were a witness to the C's being dismantled in just about every way imaginable on Wednesday, finding anything positive moving forward is a lot easier said than done.
If Tony Parker wasn't dropping a soft floater from the middle of the paint, he was finding one of his big men open around the basket for a lay-up or dunk.
When Boston took those away, San Antonio shooters were relatively open for corner 3s.
"We've been a little out of sync on offense the last 2-3 games, but I thought tonight we played well offensively," said Tony Parker who had a game-high 26 points to go with six assists. "We moved the ball and shared the ball and defensively we were pretty solid."
And there was little the C's appeared capable of doing about it.
"They did a good job at everything," Rondo said. "We didn't take away anything we wanted to tonight."
And yet with all the problems Boston was having with its defense and rebounding, they were trailing by just six points (104-98) with 3:16 to play courtesy of a 10-2 run fueled in large part by Rondo who led the C's with 22 points and 15 assists.
"We were right there because nobody could stop anybody on either team," said Rivers, whose team shot 53 percent compared to the Spurs who connected on 58 percent of their shots from the field. "To me, that was fool's gold, because the way we were playing defense you're not going to get a stop, you're not going to win a game."
And sadly for the C's, the problems defensively have been pretty consistent all season.
"We're making the same mistakes in our defense, night in and night out," said Rondo. "We have to do a better job of focusing in during our shoot-arounds in the morning, when we're given an assignment."
The C's will take Thanksgiving off and get right back at it on Friday against Oklahoma City which will pose as big -- if not a bigger -- a challenge than San Antonio.
For Rivers, there's plenty to work on and review between now and Friday night's tip-off against the Thunder.
Picking apart what the C's need to do specifically to improve is not easy, not when there are so many areas defensively that need to be shored up sooner rather than later.
"You know, offensively you score 100 points, 53 percent (shooting from the field), you're pretty happy," Rivers said. "But we just let a team shoot 58 percent against us. We let a team shoot 50 percent from the three against us. And it's tough to win a game. You shouldn't win a game, if that happens."

Celtics begin working out draft prospects Wednesday

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Celtics begin working out draft prospects Wednesday

BOSTON – The Celtics’ practice facility will become a basketball port-of-call in the coming weeks as some of the best young talent passes through, all with the goal of doing their best to impress the Celtics’ brass.

Austin Ainge, the Celtics’ director of player personnel, said Boston will begin working out players on Wednesday with the first group consisting of six players - two guards, two forwards and two big men.
 
“We’ll put them through a lot of different situations,” Ainge, who declined to identify the six players working out on Wednesday, told CSNNE.com. “We’ll see how bigs are at guarding guards, and guards defending bigger players, some of the roles they would have to play if they were Celtics…We’ll get a good look at what they can do in a lot of different scenarios.”
 
With eight draft picks [three in the first round and five in the second], the list of players making the rounds will likely be longer than usual.
 
Ainge said he anticipated the Celtics will work out 80-100 players, which is slightly more than they usually do.
 
“With trades, you just never really know,” Ainge said. “So we try to work out players all the way through 60.”
 
Speaking of trades, Ainge anticipates the Celtics will be on the phone more than past years because they have so many picks and, by all indications, do not plan to use them all.
 
If Boston can’t package some of their picks to acquire more talent, the Celtics will look even closer than usual at drafting players from overseas with the intent that they don’t join Boston’s roster for a couple of years.
 
Because Boston has so many picks, you would think they would be in position to be more selective than past years when it came to who they brought in for workouts.
 
“With our picks, it is in a player’s best interest to work out for us,” Ainge acknowledged. “But for us, we want to see as many players as possible so that we can draft the best fit, the best player that’s available.”
 
The draft lottery later on May 17 will determine exactly where the Celtics will be selecting with the pick they acquired as part of the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade with Brooklyn in 2013.
 
Boston acquired three picks as part of the trade. They used the first one to draft James Young two years ago.
 
This past season, Brooklyn (21-61) finished with the third-worst record, which gives Boston a 15.6 percent chance that the Nets pick it receives will be the No. 1 overall selection. 
 
If Boston lands one of the top-two picks, a workout with LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram – the consensus top-two players in this year’s draft – is likely. And if the Celtics wind up with the No. 2 pick, they might work out Dragan Bender who is the top overseas prospect in this year’s draft.
 
In addition to the Brooklyn pick, which will be no worse than the sixth overall selection, Boston has another pair of first-round picks (16th and 23rd overall), along with five second-round picks (31st, 35th, 45th, 51st and 58th), at their disposal.

 

History of third-best odds in NBA draft lottery

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History of third-best odds in NBA draft lottery

The NBA draft lottery is two weeks away, which means only two more weeks of hitting the “sim lottery” button on our computers while we should be doing work.

Since the weighted lottery system was modified before 1994 giving the team with the worst record a 25-percent chance at the No. 1 pick, the worst team has ended up with the No. 1 pick just three times, most recently the 2015 lottery to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The 25-percent chance, in short, means that out of 1,000 ping pong ball combinations, the worst team going into the lottery has 250 of those combinations. If one of those 250 combinations is pulled, the No. 1 pick goes to that team.

The number of combinations drops per team from worst team in lottery down to the best at No. 14. Since 2005, there are 16 playoff teams and 14 lottery teams. Where the lottery teams rank in record determines how many chances they have at a winning combination. The No. 14 team in the lottery has five chances.

The Boston Celtics go into the lottery holding the Brooklyn Nets’ pick. The Nets finished with the third-worst record this season, giving them 156 combinations, or a 15.6-percent chance at the No. 1 pick.

Combinations are pulled for the top three picks. After that, teams fall into place based on record.

The Celtics have a 46.9-percent chance at landing a Top 3 pick. Picks 1-3 break down virtually equal, at 15.6-percent for the No. 1 seed, 15.6-percent for the No. 2 seed, and 14.7-percent for the No. 3 seed.

Because three teams could leapfrog them (remember, combinations are chosen for just the top three picks), they could fall to as low as the No. 6 seed, but no further. Boston’s chances to land the No. 4 or No. 5 seed actually increase from the first three picks, as they have a 22.6-percent chance at No. 4 and a 26.5-percent chance at No. 5. A No. 6 seed would be extremely unlucky, as there’s just a 4-percent chance at that.

So the question you want to know: How many No. 3 seeds have ended up with the top pick? Since 1994, it’s happened five times, though based on teams with the same record that season, ping pong ball combinations varied. (Example: in 1994, the Bucks were tied with two other teams for the second-worst record, giving them 163 combinations. I included them as one of the five “No. 3 seeds” previously mentioned even though technically they weren’t - it’s close enough.)

The No. 3 seed has never gotten the second pick. It’s gotten the third pick three times, the fourth pick four times, the fifth pick nine times, and the sixth pick once.

Since 2005, the No. 3 lottery team has won the lottery twice (2009, 2013). Let’s take a look at every third-seeded lottery team since then, where there they ended up picking, and who ended up going third in that draft.

Click here for the complete breakdown of each lottery since 2005.

Krug out 6 months, Krejci 5 months after surgery

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Krug out 6 months, Krejci 5 months after surgery

It sounds like the Bruins will be without puck-moving defenseman Torey Krug at the very outset of next season.

Krug (right shoulder), Matt Beleskey (left hand) and David Krejci (left hip) all underwent successful surgeries in mid-to-late April for injuries sustained over the wear and tear of NHL duty last season and both Krug and Krejci are now facing recovery times on the long end of things. 

Krejci’s rehab and recovery is initially set for five months after undergoing surgery with renowned hip surgeon Dr. Bryan Kelly on April 25, but the hope is that the 30-year-old playmaking center will be ready for the start of the regular season.

It’s the same rough timetable Krejci faced following hip surgery on his right side after the 2008-09 season and, seven years ago, the center was able to start the season on time.

Krug is up for what’s expected to be a long-term new contract after July 1, and will be out six months after undergoing shoulder surgery with Bruins team doctor Peter Asnis on April 21. That means there’s a good chance the 5-foot-8, 180-pound Krug will miss the preseason and be out the first few weeks of the preseason at the very least. 

Shoulder injuries are also always a bit of a concern for NHL defensemen considering all of the pounding those players absorb on a nightly basis, and that goes doubly so for a smaller blueliner (5-9, 186) such as Krug.

Any absence at all is tough news for the B’s considering Krug was second on the Bruins in ice time (21:37) among defensemen this season, and led all Bruins blueliners with 44 points last season in a challenging year for a clearly undermanned D-corps.

Beleskey is expected to undergo a six-week rehab after his April 14 surgery with Dr. Matthew Leibman at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.