Token Celtics defense nonexistent so far

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Token Celtics defense nonexistent so far

NEW ORLEANS The Boston Celtics don't look like the Boston Celtics we've come to know in recent years.

And it's not just because Wednesday's 97-78 loss at New Orleans keeps them winless this season.

The Celtics are a team that takes pride in their defense. But in their three games thus far this season, the Celtics defense has been defenseless against every team it has faced thus far.

Big men having their way around the basket. Guards getting to whatever spot on the floor they want to, when they want to. The Hornets gave the C's a little bit of both on Wednesday.Guards getting to whatever spot on the floor they want to, when they want to.

"We have to be better defensively," said Kevin Garnett. "We're a defensive team."

They have been in recent years. But this is a different season, a different Celtics team. And so far, it's one that can't defend anywhere close to the level Celtics Nation is used to.

One of the issues the Celtics have to come to grips with is that their defense, in a word, has sucked so far this season.

"Our team is talented enough," said backup guard Keyon Dooling. "We have to understand that our defense has been horrible for a team that hangs its hat on defense. We haven't been doing that. We have to embrace that and get better."

Just about any good defensive team has defenders who are good at disrupting the opposing team's ball-handler.

Although Rajon Rondo has been an all-NBA defensive team member, you wouldn't have known it by the way Jarrett Jack routinely beat him off the dribble in Wednesday night's loss to New Orleans.

Jack, playing in his first game of the season, had 21 points, nine assists and four rebounds.

"He killed us on pick and rolls," Rondo said.

Jack's dribble penetration seemed to open things up even more so for the New Orleans big men who were instrumental in the Hornets having a 46-24 advantage in points in the paint.

"Their guards beat us off the dribble most of the night," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "They lived in the paint. And in defense of the bigs, they were rotating. If they didn't get the block or the charge, their guy got the rebound so our crack-backs were terrible.We have to control the ball. We have to stop fouling. We had so many fouls in the first half; some of the silly reaching our guards did. It kept putting the bigs in a bad position."

The Celtics also have had their own set of issues offensively, which is only complicated by all the new faces still figuring out how to play well with and off, each other.

And when you throw in the fact that the C's are still considered a quality conquest if beaten, well it only stands to reason that they will be challenged by just about every opponent they face.

"Right now, we're getting everybody's best shot," Rondo said. "That's just part of the game; no excuses. We'll get it together, sooner than later."

Celtics begin working out draft prospects Wednesday

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Celtics begin working out draft prospects Wednesday

BOSTON – The Celtics’ practice facility will become a basketball port-of-call in the coming weeks as some of the best young talent passes through, all with the goal of doing their best to impress the Celtics’ brass.

Austin Ainge, the Celtics’ director of player personnel, said Boston will begin working out players on Wednesday with the first group consisting of six players - two guards, two forwards and two big men.
 
“We’ll put them through a lot of different situations,” Ainge, who declined to identify the six players working out on Wednesday, told CSNNE.com. “We’ll see how bigs are at guarding guards, and guards defending bigger players, some of the roles they would have to play if they were Celtics…We’ll get a good look at what they can do in a lot of different scenarios.”
 
With eight draft picks [three in the first round and five in the second], the list of players making the rounds will likely be longer than usual.
 
Ainge said he anticipated the Celtics will work out 80-100 players, which is slightly more than they usually do.
 
“With trades, you just never really know,” Ainge said. “So we try to work out players all the way through 60.”
 
Speaking of trades, Ainge anticipates the Celtics will be on the phone more than past years because they have so many picks and, by all indications, do not plan to use them all.
 
If Boston can’t package some of their picks to acquire more talent, the Celtics will look even closer than usual at drafting players from overseas with the intent that they don’t join Boston’s roster for a couple of years.
 
Because Boston has so many picks, you would think they would be in position to be more selective than past years when it came to who they brought in for workouts.
 
“With our picks, it is in a player’s best interest to work out for us,” Ainge acknowledged. “But for us, we want to see as many players as possible so that we can draft the best fit, the best player that’s available.”
 
The draft lottery later on May 17 will determine exactly where the Celtics will be selecting with the pick they acquired as part of the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade with Brooklyn in 2013.
 
Boston acquired three picks as part of the trade. They used the first one to draft James Young two years ago.
 
This past season, Brooklyn (21-61) finished with the third-worst record, which gives Boston a 15.6 percent chance that the Nets pick it receives will be the No. 1 overall selection. 
 
If Boston lands one of the top-two picks, a workout with LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram – the consensus top-two players in this year’s draft – is likely. And if the Celtics wind up with the No. 2 pick, they might work out Dragan Bender who is the top overseas prospect in this year’s draft.
 
In addition to the Brooklyn pick, which will be no worse than the sixth overall selection, Boston has another pair of first-round picks (16th and 23rd overall), along with five second-round picks (31st, 35th, 45th, 51st and 58th), at their disposal.

 

History of third-best odds in NBA draft lottery

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History of third-best odds in NBA draft lottery

The NBA draft lottery is two weeks away, which means only two more weeks of hitting the “sim lottery” button on our computers while we should be doing work.

Since the weighted lottery system was modified before 1994 giving the team with the worst record a 25-percent chance at the No. 1 pick, the worst team has ended up with the No. 1 pick just three times, most recently the 2015 lottery to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The 25-percent chance, in short, means that out of 1,000 ping pong ball combinations, the worst team going into the lottery has 250 of those combinations. If one of those 250 combinations is pulled, the No. 1 pick goes to that team.

The number of combinations drops per team from worst team in lottery down to the best at No. 14. Since 2005, there are 16 playoff teams and 14 lottery teams. Where the lottery teams rank in record determines how many chances they have at a winning combination. The No. 14 team in the lottery has five chances.

The Boston Celtics go into the lottery holding the Brooklyn Nets’ pick. The Nets finished with the third-worst record this season, giving them 156 combinations, or a 15.6-percent chance at the No. 1 pick.

Combinations are pulled for the top three picks. After that, teams fall into place based on record.

The Celtics have a 46.9-percent chance at landing a Top 3 pick. Picks 1-3 break down virtually equal, at 15.6-percent for the No. 1 seed, 15.6-percent for the No. 2 seed, and 14.7-percent for the No. 3 seed.

Because three teams could leapfrog them (remember, combinations are chosen for just the top three picks), they could fall to as low as the No. 6 seed, but no further. Boston’s chances to land the No. 4 or No. 5 seed actually increase from the first three picks, as they have a 22.6-percent chance at No. 4 and a 26.5-percent chance at No. 5. A No. 6 seed would be extremely unlucky, as there’s just a 4-percent chance at that.

So the question you want to know: How many No. 3 seeds have ended up with the top pick? Since 1994, it’s happened five times, though based on teams with the same record that season, ping pong ball combinations varied. (Example: in 1994, the Bucks were tied with two other teams for the second-worst record, giving them 163 combinations. I included them as one of the five “No. 3 seeds” previously mentioned even though technically they weren’t - it’s close enough.)

The No. 3 seed has never gotten the second pick. It’s gotten the third pick three times, the fourth pick four times, the fifth pick nine times, and the sixth pick once.

Since 2005, the No. 3 lottery team has won the lottery twice (2009, 2013). Let’s take a look at every third-seeded lottery team since then, where there they ended up picking, and who ended up going third in that draft.

Click here for the complete breakdown of each lottery since 2005.