Celtics Question of the Day: Which C's assistant will move on next?

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Celtics Question of the Day: Which C's assistant will move on next?

In recent years, the Doc Rivers coaching tree has branched out as assistants have become NBA head coaches.

Tom Thibodeau left in 2010 as the Green Team's defensive czar and took his talents and clipboard to Chicago. His replacement on the Celtics' staff, Lawrence Frank, followed suit last year in taking over the Detroit Pistons.

So who will be next?

Celtics assistants Kevin Eastman and Armond Hill have the smarts, experience and track record to succeed if given an opportunity. But it's unlikely either of them will bolt anytime soon, and with good reason.

They're really good veteran assistants that Rivers knows he can lean on, and often does. And both have embraced that role and the responsibility that comes with it.

While Mike Longabardi and Jamie Young did an excellent job this past season on the C's bench, do not be surprised if Tyronn Lue emerges as the next Celtics assistant on the move.

He's an 11-year NBA veteran having won a pair of titles with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000 and 2001. Being a former player in itself doesn't make you head-coaching material. But in the NBA, it definitely helps.

When you scan the league's head coaching landscape, prior NBA experience seems to be a common thread among most of them. Of the 30 NBA head coaches for the 2012-2013 season, 20 are former players.

But the biggest knock against Lue is experience. This will be his fourth season with the Celtics, and second as an assistant coach. However, the 35-year-old did an impressive job this past summer running Boston's summer league teams in Orlando, Fla. and Las Vegas, respectively.

It also doesn't hurt that he's learning under Rivers, a former player who had no NBA coaching experience when he was picked to become the head coach of the Orlando Magic in 1999.

Regardless of experience, whether it comes as a player or as an NBA assistant, it means little if an opportunity doesn't present itself. And to Lue's credit, that's exactly what he's positioning himself for since coming to Boston.

After coming to grips with his playing career being a thing of the past, he went about laying the foundation for what he hopes will someday be an NBA head coaching job.

So as important as this season is for Rivers and his players, it's a pretty big deal for his assistants, too. Because they know a breakthrough season for the C's could easily pave the way towards their first NBA head coaching gig.

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

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.”