Celtics-Sixers Game 4 review: C's lose composure

767310.jpg

Celtics-Sixers Game 4 review: C's lose composure

PHILADELPHIA For as near-perfect as the Boston Celtics were in Game 3, they were perfectly flawed down the stretch in Game 4 which ended with a 92-83 loss. The best-of-seven series with Philadelphia is now tied at 2-2, with Game 5 in Boston on Monday and Game 6 back in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

"We lost our composure," said C's coach Doc Rivers, whose team led by double figures most of the first half. "We never returned to playing basketball like we did in the first half."

Said Celtics guard Ray Allen: "The third quarter we just lost our attack. They attacked us going into the fourth quarter. We still, we were in a good place but they continued to attack."

And now the Celtics find themselves heading back to Boston looking to regain control of the series as opposed to closing it out.

"On the road, you gotta put the knockout punch to a team," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "We just didn't do that."

Not closing out the game playing the right way was indeed a factor in the game's outcome. Here are some other keys identified prior to the game, and how they actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: After torching them with his scoring and passing, look for the Sixers to place a renewed focus on trying to limit Rajon Rondo. As much as Kevin Garnett's scoring around the basket and Paul Pierce's ability to get to the free throw line has hurt them, Rondo has quietly gone about dominating this series with his all-around play.

WHAT WE SAW: Rondo had a great line for the night - 15 points, 15 assists with just four turnovers. But down the stretch, Rondo - like the rest of the Celtics - failed to come up with the big play, offensively or defensively, that was needed in order to get the win.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. Spencer Hawes: Garnett has been crushing Hawes all series, and there's a good chance that KG will again win this head-to-head battle. But the Sixers are probably going to try and have Hawes look to be more of a scorer, which they believe will potentially wear Garnett down some. Sounds good in theory. But like most of Philly's approaches to handling Garnett in this series it's probably not going to work.

WHAT WE SAW: At some point, you had to count on Kevin Garnett cooling off some. But Friday, KG was about as frigid shooting the ball as we've seen him this season. He finished with nine points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field. C's coach Doc Rivers has no answer for why Garnett never really got into the flow offensively for the C's. "I don't know. I'm going to have to go back and look at figure that one out myself," Rivers said. "I thought he was a passer tonight a lot. We have to get him back in the middle of the paint, and him being more aggressive."

PLAYER TO WATCH: Ray Allen only took one shot in Game 3 and it wasn't even a 3-pointer. The Sixers have done a good job of making sure he doesn't get going, but his presence has opened things up for just about every one on the floor with him. Only Kevin Garnett (plus-47) and Avery Bradley (plus-23) have a higher plusminus ratio than Allen (plus 22). "That tells you his effectiveness," said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "Ray Allen, he's a threat to throw up 20 points anytime. When he's on the floor, you have to space him differently. So what he does, he takes away some of your help. You have to shade him a little bit more than you do somebody else."

WHAT WE SAW: Allen was a bit more active shooting the ball (2-for-6, five points), but his impact - much like the rest of the Celtics bench - was minimal in terms of turning the game's tide one way or another.

STAT TO TRACK: No one expects the Sixers' starters to out-score their Boston Celtics' counterparts. But Philadelphia has no shot at winning tonight - or the series for that matter - if they don't at the very least keep it relatively close. In Boston's two playoff wins, the Celtic starters outscored the Sixers' first unit by an average of 30 points. In the lone loss, Boston's starters tallied 60 compared to a respectable 56 by the Sixers.

WHAT WE SAW: This was once again decisively lopsided in Boston's favor, 71-48. But the Sixers finished the game with a 9-0 run, with five of those points being scored by Iguodala.

Phil Jackson: Knicks' biggest mistake was not trading for Jae Crowder in 2014

celtics_jae_crowder_110515.jpg

Phil Jackson: Knicks' biggest mistake was not trading for Jae Crowder in 2014

Knicks president Phil Jackson’s biggest mistake? Taking the job in the first place?

Well, besides that. Jackson tells Today’s Fastbreak that it was not getting Jae Crowder when he had the chance.

Here’s Jackson quote, part of a long interview with Charley Rosen: 

"I think my biggest mistake was actually this…One of the first deals I engineered when I came back to New York was to trade Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas for Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, plus a second-round pick that the Mavs owed to the Celtics. In talking with Boston, I was given the option of taking that pick or else taking Jae Crowder. I liked Crowder but I thought he wouldn't get much of a chance to play behind Carmelo, so I took the pick, which turned out to be Cleanthony Early. While Cleanthony has missed lots of time in the past two seasons with us, he still has the potential to be a valuable player. Even so, I should have taken Crowder."

Jackson’s timeline is actually a little off. The Chandler and Felton to the Mavs deal was actually in June 2014. The Celtics, of course, acquired Crowder at the December 2014 trade deadline in the deal that sent Rajon Rondo to the Mavericks. Still, you get the point. Jackson covets Jae Crowder, who has proven to be a little more valuable than Cleanthony Early. And, in light of where NBA salaries have gone, the five-year, $35 million deal Crowder signed with the Celtics last offseason now seems like one of the biggest bargains in the NBA. 

 

 

Can Jerebko parlay playoff starts to a bigger role with Celtics?

ceiling_to_floor-jerebko.png

Can Jerebko parlay playoff starts to a bigger role with Celtics?

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Tyler Zeller. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON – Considering all the different storylines that developed among the Celtics at the end of last season and this summer, it’s easy to forget that Jonas Jerebko was in the starting lineup.

With sporadic minutes in the regular season, Boston found itself trailing the Atlanta Hawks 2-0 in their best-of-seven playoff series.

So what did coach Brad Stevens do?

He shook up the starting lineup by inserting Jerebko. who helped Boston even up the series at two games apiece before the Hawks bounced back and ended the Celtics season after six games.

Those last four games against the Hawks – the only games Jerebko started all season - served as a reminder to many that the 29-year-old could still be an impact performer.

It was the kind of run to close out the season that Jerebko will certainly be focused on trying to build upon this season.

The ceiling for Jerebko: Starter

While he will likely begin the season as a reserve, Jerebko will certainly come into camp with a little more bounce in his step courtesy of a strong showing in the playoffs.

After averaging just 4.4 points and 3.7 rebounds in 15.1 minutes in the regular season a year ago, Jerebko became a major force in the playoffs for Boston.

In his first game as a starter, Jerebko had a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds as Boston won Game 3, 111-103.

He was even more impactful 48 hours later with another a second straight double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) in yet another Celtics victory.

The Hawks made some adjustments in Games 5 and 6 to close out the series, but it wasn’t before Jerebko had put together the best postseason stretch of his career.

Compared to the regular season, Jerebko more than doubled his playing time in those final four games by averaging 31.3 minutes to go with 11.5 points and 7.8 rebounds.

Jerebko will be hard-pressed to return to that role at the start of this season.

Boston signed Al Horford to a four-year, $113 million contract, so you know he’s starting.

And Amir Johnson’s defense and ability to run the floor so effectively will likely result in him resuming a starting role, too.

That leaves Jerebko joining what looks to be a very talented and deep Celtics bench.

Even though he’s unlikely to start, Jerebko will get his share of opportunities to play.

At 6-foot-10, Jerebko has the size to play both power forward and center. And depending on the opposing team’s lineup, Jerebko has the potential play some small forward as well.

It was that versatility that made Stevens turn to Jerebko in the playoffs last season to replace Jared Sullinger, who signed with the Toronto Raptors in the offseason.

And while the idea of Jerebko as a starter seems a bit far-fetched at this point, he is yet another Celtics reserve who has proven himself to be ready to play and play well when given an opportunity to step on the floor regardless of what that role may be.

The floor for Jerebko: Seldom-used reserve

Despite a strong finish last season, Jerebko will once again have to fight and claw for any minutes on the floor. While the Celtics certainly were aided by his versatility, this season’s roster has a number of players who, like Jerebko, can play multiple positions at both ends of the floor.

NBA veteran Gerald Green is 6-8 and will play shooting guard and small forward. But depending on the lineup, it’s not a stretch to envision him playing some power forward. Ditto for rookie Jaylen Brown and starting small forward Jae Crowder sliding up one position.

Beginning the season on the rotation fringes is nothing new to Jerebko, whose role was very much up in the air when the Celtics traded Tayshaun Prince to Detroit prior to the 2015 trade deadline for Jerebko and Gigi Datome.

Gradually, Jerebko earned his minutes and proved he was indeed a valuable piece of what Stevens and the Celtics were trying to build here in Boston.

And now, with a season-plus of time with the Celtics under his belt, Jerebko finds himself once again being challenged to show that he’s more than just a body on the roster.

 

Report: Celtics renounce draft rights to 2013 pick Colton Iverson

boston-celtics-colton-iverson-121314.jpg

Report: Celtics renounce draft rights to 2013 pick Colton Iverson

By Dan Feldman, NBCSports.com Pro Basketball Talk

The Celtics bought the No. 53 pick in the 2013 NBA draft to get Colton Iverson out of Colorado State, and he thanked them by allowing them to keep his rights the last three years.

Iverson rejected the required tender – a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed at the minimum, teams must extend to retain exclusive negotiating rights to a second-round pick – year after year to sign overseas. Accepting the tender would’ve likely meant Iverson going to Boston’s training camp and getting waived. Perhaps, the timing of that would’ve limited his European options that year. But it would’ve made him an NBA free agent – or, best-case scenario, he could’ve made the Celtics and drawn an NBA paycheck.

As it was, Iverson limited himself to joining Boston and only Boston. If another NBA team wanted Iverson, it would have had to trade for him.

And what does Iverson get for that loyalty? A Celtics contract with at least a partial guarantee?

Nope.

Just a head start on finding another team – which he could’ve gotten for himself three years ago.

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

This is why second-round picks should be more aggressive about accepting the required tender. Even if you get waived, you open NBA options.

Iverson is a strong 7-foot center who plays with physicality. He can help in certain matchups, and he’d make sense as a third center on teams that have first- and second-stringers playing a different style.

But Iverson is 27, and his NBA window may be closing if it hasn’t already.

It’s a shame he spent so many years beholden to Boston, which didn’t want him.

It was probably just courtesy of the Celtics to renounce his rights now rather than have him sign the tender. They would have guaranteed him no money with the tender, and they could have gotten a few minor benefits with it – an extra body for training camp, the ability to assign his D-League rights to their affiliate after waiving him and the slightest chance he impresses enough in the preseason to hold trade value.

But them forgoing those potential advantages, even if out of courtesy, also sends a signal about how little they value him. Teams don’t do these types of favors for players they actually covet.