Friday FT's: Do you recognize Perk?

578842.jpg

Friday FT's: Do you recognize Perk?

Welcome back to Friday Free Throws, a weekly recap of the most interesting news, notes, and information that have not made the headlines but are still worth a read. In spite of the NBA lockout, there's still plenty of hoops to talk about.

The next time Kendrick Perkins returns to TD Garden, you may have to do a double-take. Before he was traded from the Celtics to the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, Perkins said he wanted to continue losing weight after rehabbing from a knee injury (last season he was listed at 610, 280 pounds). Watch just a few seconds of this video (music NSWF) and you can see a very noticeable difference in the big man.

Perkins also recently talked to Crave Online about the NBA lockout and getting back on the court. I just look to play as much ball as I can with other NBA players and at colleges, he said. But I know theres in shape and in NBA shape, so well have to get to it hard once were back in camp.

See Where Pierce Hones His Game
Paul Pierce has been holding his The Truth Strikes Again Celebrity Bowling Tournament for years, and now has he offered a glimpse into how he hones his skills. Pierce tweeted two videos of himself bowling . . . in his house. Pierce has a two-lane bowling alley complete with flat screen televisions and a 2008 championship banner for extra dcor.

On the same topic, Jermaine ONeal is reportedly selling his 7,500-square-foot Nevada home.

Early Hall of Fame Taste for KG
There is little question Kevin Garnett will be heading to the NBA Hall of Fame after his career as a basketball player is over, but this weekend he is getting an early taste of being an inductee. On Saturday, Garnett and Celtics coach Doc Rivers will be honored as members of the inaugural class of athletes in the Illinois High School Basketball Hall of Fame. Garnett, who attended Farragut Career Academy, and Rivers, who went to Proviso East High School, will be honored as part of Boys Post-1960s class. The ceremony will take place on Saturday, November 5 at Memorial Stadium located on the University of Illinois campus. If you are in the Chicago area, visit IlliniHQ.com for ticket information.

Arroyo to Join Howard, Former Teammates in Exhibition Game
Carlos Arroyo has been representing Puerto Rican National Team in competition during the lockout. This month, he will take the court back in the States. Arroyo, who previously played over two seasons with the Orlando Magic, is one of 18 players who have reportedly committed to play in Dwight Howard's charity exhibition game on November 13 at the UCF Arena. According to the Orlando Sentinel, other participants include current and former Magic players who have made several trips to the TD Garden during the regular season and playoffs against the Celtics, including Vince Carter, Gilbert Arenas, Trevor Ariza, Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, and Mike Miller. Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway is also on the list.

Former Celtic Pruitt Drafted by Skyforce
Former Celtic Gabe Pruitt was drafted by the Sioux Falls Skyforce with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NBA D-League Draft on Thursday night. Pruitt was originally drafted by the Celtics with the 32nd pick in 2007. He appeared in 62 games over two seasons in Boston, averaging 2.0 points, 0.8 rebounds, and 0.8 assists in 7.4 minutes per contest. He has also played in 56 D-League games. Pruitt retweeted a photo of his name being written on the Skyforce draft board.

Celtics Tweet of the Week
@iambigbaby11: "Take the 51 man and let's play."

Celtics Birthdays of the Week
Blue Edwards, who played 31 games for the Celtics during the 1994-95 season, turned 46 on Halloween . . . Marcus Landry turned 26 the following day. He appeared in one game for the Cs in the 2009-10 season . . . Tom Thacker, who won a championship with the Celtics in 1968, turned 72 on November 2 . . . Mikki Moore celebrated his 36h birthday on November 4. Moore had two stints with the Celtics 3 games in 2002-03 and 24 appearances in 2008-09. Matt Wenstrom (1.6 ppg in 1993-94 season) turned 41 the same day.

This Week in Celtics History (The Debuts)
On November 1, 1996, Ray Allen made his NBA debut as a starter for the Milwaukee Bucks. He scored 13 points (3-10 FG, 2-3 3PG) in the Bucks 111-103 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. On the same date 10 years later, Rajon Rondo made his NBA debut with the Celtics against Chris Paul and the New OrleansOklahoma City Hornets. Rondo played nearly 23 minutes off the bench, recording six points, four rebounds, and three assists . . . On November 2, 2007, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Allen played their first regular-season game together on the Celtics. The C's beat the Washington Wizards on Opening Night, 103-83. The "New Big Three" combined for 67 points, 29 rebounds, and 11 assists . . . Garnett made his NBA debut at 19 years old on November 3, 1995. He scored eight points (4-4 FG) in 16 minutes off the bench during the Minnesota Timberwolves 95-86 loss to the Sacramento Kings.

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.”
 

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

BOSTON – Facing Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook with a fully healthy squad is tough. 
 
Doing so without your leading scorer makes the challenge all that much greater. 
 
That is where the Celtics find themselves heading into Sunday night’s game against the Thunder without Isaiah Thomas, who did not travel with the team when they left for Oklahoma City today. 
 
Boston’s leading scorer this season with 26 points per game, Thomas suffered a right groin injury against Houston on Dec. 5 and has missed the Celtics’ past two games because of it. 
 
He was hoping to convince Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to let him travel with the team, but Thomas acknowledged convincing Ainge was a long shot. 
 
“He’s not really in favor of me going,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “I’m trying to convince them to let me go. If I’m there, they know I’m going to try and play. I’m shooting for Wednesday [at San Antonio] for the most part. That’s more realistic than Sunday. Hopefully I can play on Wednesday.”
 
Boston has split the two games with Thomas out, beating the you-know-what out of Orlando 117-87 on the road, but dropping one at home 101-94 to Toronto on Friday night. 
 
As disappointed as Thomas is with not being able to play – it’s the first games he has missed since the 2014-2015 season – he understands the potential problems that could surface with an injury like this if he and the Celtics aren’t careful. 
 
“They keep wanting to be very patient with this,” Thomas said. “They don’t want to re-injure it. It is an injury that can get re-injured and be a problem the rest of the season. I don’t want that. On top of that, it gives me time to heal all the other injuries I have.”
 
Among the other injuries Thomas was referring to, is a still-swollen finger on his left (shooting) hand. 
 
The injury was believed to have happened on Nov. 12 against Indiana. 
 
While it was painfully sore, it didn’t seem to be an issue in Boston’s next game against New Orleans when he scored a season-high 37 points. He followed that up with a 30-point performance in a 90-83 win over Dallas.