Celtics Question of the Day: Bass or Green as starting PF?

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Celtics Question of the Day: Bass or Green as starting PF?

With a relatively tried and true roster that has reaped the spoils of victory for years, not a whole lot of lineup shuffling has gone on with the Boston Celtics in recent years.

But that's about to change in a big way this season.

For the first time in many years, there will be competition - lots of it - for something other than a spot in the rotation. Boston comes into this season with only three players - Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett - assured of starting.

And of all the camp battles, none will be more intriguing than the fight between Brandon Bass and Jeff Green to see who will start at power forward.

While both will certainly play a major role in the C's success this season, look for Bass to get the nod when all is said and done. He is the incumbent, but that has little to do with him remaining with the first unit.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers loved the idea of having Bass come off the bench, well aware that his ability to score on pick-and-pops caused major problems for opponents. However, injuries and inconsistent play left Rivers little choice but to toss Bass into the starting lineup.

It was an adjustment for all involved, raising questions and concerns about whether the 6-foot-8 forward could produce at a similar clip that he had while coming off the bench.

As a reserve in 20 games for Boston, Bass averaged a solid 11.8 points per game along with 6.1 rebounds while shooting 49.3 percent from the field.

Bass, affectionately nicknamed 'No Pass' Bass, continued to deliver at a similar level with the increased role and with it, more playing time (33.7 minutes compared to 27.9 coming off the bench).

But the number Boston and Bass cared about most - wins - was at the heart of why he's likely to remain a starter.

It took a while, but the C's finally figured out not only how to play with Bass in the starting lineup, but how to win.

As a starter, the C's were 26-13 with Bass. When he came off the bench, they were just 11-9. Those factors alone give Bass and edge over Green heading into training camp.

But when you throw in the fact that the Celtics are likely to try and ease Green back into the flow of things after he missed all of last season following surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm, putting him in with the first group seems a bit much after so much time off from the game.

Still, Green's ability to run the floor gives him a chance to get some easy points in transition which would make Rajon Rondo's job a lot easier and potentially open things up even more for Garnett and Pierce.

And at 6-9, his size and versatility can also benefit the Celtics defensively at times as well.

Bass.

Green.

It will indeed be among the many issues to be sorted out when training camp begins later this month.

However, considering all the challenges that the C's had to contend with last season, this is a good problem to have.

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

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Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

BOSTON -- There was a bomb threat to the Boston Celtics’ team plane to Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon, but no one was injured.

The incident will be investigated by NBA security which will work in conjunction with the FBI on this matter which was one of several hoaxes called into airports across the country on Saturday.

News of the bomb threat was first known when Celtics forward Jae Crowder posted an Instagram photo showing players departing the plane with the caption, “BOMB THREAT ON US”.

Celtics officials declined to comment on the matter and instead referred all bomb threat-related questions to the league office.

Messages to the league office were not immediately returned.

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

BOSTON – When it comes to winning basketball, keep it moving – the ball that is – has become a staple of the Celtics this season. 
 
And lately they’ve had to do it without Isaiah Thomas, the team’s leading scorer at 26 points per game as well as their top assists guy (6.2) who will miss hish third game in a row Sunday in Oklahoma City because of a right groin injury.
 
The Celtics have split their first two games without Thomas, with the most recent being a 101-94 home loss to Toronto on Friday.
 
When it comes to this team and ball movement, fans are just as divided when it pertains to whether the Celtics move the ball better without the high-scoring Thomas in the lineup. 
 
Regardless of what fans think they know about this team and how they move the ball, the numbers paint a very clear picture that this team’s ball movement is among the best in the NBA, with or without Thomas in the lineup. 

And that will be important on Sunday against an Oklahoma City team that doesn’t rely on the ball swinging from one side of the floor to the other, nearly as much as the Celtics. 
 
The Thunder, led by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, are dead-last in the NBA when it comes to passes made per game (267.1). 
 
Meanwhile, the Celtics are at the opposite end of the passing game spectrum, averaging 331.7 passes per game, which is second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.3).
 
And in the two games without Thomas, Boston has averaged 347.0 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA in that period of time. 
 
In addition to missing his points and assists, the Celtics must also find ways to make plays in filling the void left by a player who has the ball in his hands a lot of the time. 
 
Thomas’ usage percentage (percentage of plays used by a player while he’s on the floor) of 32.9 percent ranks seventh in the NBA, ahead of notable stars such as San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (30.9 percent), Portland’s Damian Lillard (30.8 percent), New York’s Carmelo Anthony (29.5 percent), as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James (29 percent) and Golden State’s back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry (28.2 percent).
 
So, considering how involved Thomas has been in the team’s offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the numbers in terms of passing and ball movement are better without him than they are when he’s on the floor playing. 
 
What should be surprising is that the gap statistically without him, isn’t greater. 
 
Boston has been a top five team when it comes to assists this season, currently third in the league with 24.7 assists per game. In the past two games without Thomas, the Celtics’ assists numbers have risen to 26.5 per game, but that only ranks fifth in the league in that span.
 
When it comes to potential assists and secondary assists (a.k.a. the “hockey” assist), Boston’s numbers have improved slightly without Thomas as well, but in each category Boston is ranked second in the league. 
 
And that ranking is with, and without Thomas in the lineup. 
 
While it’s not clear if Thomas knows just how close the numbers in terms of ball movement are with and without him playing, he is acutely aware that there are some who believe they are a better team in terms of keeping the ball moving without him.
 
“I can’t control that,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “At this point, I laugh about it. I know what I mean to my teammates. I know what I mean to this organization, to Brad Stevens.”