Celtics continue to struggle with turnovers

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Celtics continue to struggle with turnovers

BOSTON -- In baseball, players are often instructed to put the ball in play instead of swinging for the fences.

So in basketball it would only make sense to keep the ball in motion instead of looking for the home run play, right?

Sometimes a simple approach doesnt seem so, well, simple.

The Boston Celtics have struggled this season with execution and turnovers. Flashy passes have landed out of bounds or in the hands of defenders. Basic fundamentals have fallen to the wayside at times, with the Celtics averaging 15.6 turnovers per game this season.

The Cs look to clean up these frustrating errors in the second half of the season.

I think too often were trying to make the home run play, said Ray Allen. We just have to be simple out there, just moving the ball to the guy in front of you and that guy moving and penetrating and moving. For us, you might have one home run play out of ten and we just have to know that we have to take care of the ball and weve got to make the simple play, the simple pass 90 percent of the time.

The Celtics committed 14 turnovers on Wednesday night in their 102-96 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, two less than Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers and four less than last weeks game against the Oklahoma City Thunder before the All-Star Break.

Allen believes the turnovers are related to the Celtics offensive struggles this season, with errors preventing them from getting the ball in the basket. While the Celtics entered Wednesday's game ranked third in the NBA in opponents scoring (88.4 points per game allowed), they also ranked 26th overall in scoring (89.3 points per game).

Our struggles are a source of aggravation for me because I know we have a lot of scorers on this team and a lot of time we just are in our own way, Allen said. You over dribble or you turn the ball over, those are two things that keep us from putting the ball in the hole. We can play defense but we have to score.

Even though it is a team effort, Rajon Rondo looks to himself to set the execution in motion as the point guard. This season he is averaging 3.8 per game, up from 3.4 last season.

It starts with me, he said. I try to keep my turnovers down. When theyre high, my team is high. Tonight I think I only had three, which is ok except for the turnover in the fourth quarter. We want to get better.

Kevin Garnett believes one way to help solve the Celtics problem is by having more practices. Those opportunities have been hard to come by in this shortened season, and players have had less chances to run through plays and fix their errors on the practice court.

Its being smart, Garnett said. One of the things we talk about is cutting our turnovers down. I think we have a lot of times to blow a lot of teams out, but the reason why teams are in some games is because we turn the ball over.

Im going to continue to say this in another outfit, as you rewind the tapes and see it again, you just cant step on the floor without practice. Practice cleans all this up. It gives you a rhythm as a whole and it makes you better. It makes you a lot more confident in your teammate and knowing where his spots are and just a different kind of continuity.

When you know you turn the ball over, some of those fancy passes are not so motivating. Weve just to continue to take care of the ball and win these games and continue to see just how many games we can win through all this.

Now in the second half of the season, how can the Celtics focus on simple basketball and cut back on turnovers without having the luxury of practice time to do so? It has to be a concerted effort each and every game.

If I had that (answer) then I dont think wed be going through what were going through, said Garnett. I know Doc (Rivers), if he had it, he would put it in a jar and give it to everybody to drink.

List of Bruins prospects includes two familiar names

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List of Bruins prospects includes two familiar names

With decidedly Boston-sounding names and thoroughly familiar faces, given their resemblances to their ex-Bruin dads, it might have been easy to overlook Ryan Donato and Ryan Fitzgerald and focus on the truly little-known prospects at Development Camp earlier this month.

But on the ice, their brimming confidence, their offensive skills and the maturity to their all-around game was impossible to ignore.

When it was over, general manager Don Sweeney singled out Donato, who plays at Harvard, and Fitzgerald, from Boston College -- along with Notre Dame forward Anders Bjork and former Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk -- as players who have developed significantly.
 
“[They're] just comfortable in what they’re doing,” said Sweeney. “I mean, they’ve played at the college hockey level . . . two, three, four years with some of these kids. They’re very comfortable in their own skin and in what they do.”
 
Donato, 20, is actually coming off his first season at Harvard, where he posted 13 goals and 21 points in 32 games. He looked like he was in midseason form during Development Camp, showing off a scoring touch, skill with the puck on his stick in tight traffic, and the instincts to anticipate plays that allow him to beat defenders to spots in the offensive zone. He’s primed for a giant sophomore season with the Crimson, based on his showing at camp.
 
“Every year is a blast," said Donato, son of former Bruins forward and current Harvard coach Ted Donato. "You just come in [to development camp] with an open mindset where you soak everything up from the coaches like a sponge, and see what they say. Then I just do my best to incorporate it into my game and bring it with me to school next year.
 
“One of the things that [Bruins coaches and management] has said to me -- and it’s the same message for everybody -- is that every area of your game is an important one to develop. The thing about the NHL is that every little detail makes the difference, and that’s what I’ve been working on whether it’s my skating, or my defensive play. Every little piece of my game needs to be developed.”
 
Then there's Fitzgerald, 21, who is entering his senior season at BC after notching 24 goals and 47 points in 40 games last year in a real breakout season. The 2013 fourth-round pick showed speed and finishing ability during his Development Camp stint and clearly is close to being a finished hockey product at the collegiate level.
 
“It was good. It’s definitely a fun time being here, seeing these guys and putting the logo on,” said Fitzgerald, son of former Bruins forward Tom Fitzgerald, after his fourth Development Camp. “One thing I’m focusing on this summer is getting stronger, but it’s also about just progressing and maturing.
 
“I thought . . . last year [at BC] was a pretty good one, so I just try to build off that and roll into my senior season. [The Bruins] have told me to pretty much continue what I’m doing in school. When the time is right I’ll go ahead [and turn pro], so probably after I graduate I’ll jump on and make an impact.”
 
Fitzgerald certainly didn’t mention or give any hints that it could happen, but these days it has to give an NHL organization a bit of trepidation anytime one of their draft picks makes it all the way to their senior season. There’s always the possibility of it turning into a Jimmy Vesey-type situation if a player -- like Fitzgerald -- has a huge final year and draws enough NHL interest to forego signing with the team that drafted him for a shot at free agency in the August following his senior season.
 
It may be a moot point with Fitzgerald, a Boston kid already living a dream as a Bruins draft pick, but it’s always a possibility until he actually signs.
 
In any case, both Donato and Fitzgerald beat watching in their respective college seasons after both saw their development level take a healthy leap forward.