Friday FT's: The Pierce and KG effect

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Friday FT's: The Pierce and KG effect

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.

When players join the Boston Celtics, it's not uncommon to hear them express how pleasantly surprised they were to see the other side of Kevin Garnett the one you only get to see if you are on his team. Turns out the same is true if you play for his former squad, at least in the case of the highly anticipated rookie Ricky Rubio. The 21-year-old from Spain recently told the Star Tribune he has been working out in California with Garnett and Paul Pierce, and receiving advice from KG as well. I talk with KG, too, and he talked to me great things about Minnesota, Rubio said. He said the crowd cheers very hard for the team. They love the sport. We have to fight to give them what they are waiting for us to do, to win.
When Is It Cool to Snatch Baron Davis Food?
While Garnett is already playing a role in Rubios career, Baron Davis told ESPNs Land O'Lakers blog about the influence Pierce had on him. The two met growing up in California and Davis contemplated attending the University of Kansas because of Pierce. They formed a bond even after this, well, interesting first encounter:

I want to say I played fifth or sixth graders, and he was playing with like seventh, eighth, and nine. Andre Miller played in the league, too. I'll never forget, it was after the game, we won, and I went and bought a snack.Then this dude just walked up, and he was like "Give me some of that!" I was like, "What?" And it was Paul. He was like, "Hey man, give me some of that food, man." Then he snatched it out of my hand.I was like, "Ummm . . . Okay." I had seen him play the weekend before, and I was like "Alright, dude! I get to hang out with Paul Pierce!" But from that point, we were playing on the same AAU team. I was the young point guard, but Paul was always one of the best players -- he was the best player on the team."

Davis went on to recount how Pierce (seemingly effortlessly) scored 28 points in a game. He remembered, So I was like, 'All right, you can have my food, dog. It's all good. You're Paul Pierce.' "

So theres Michael Finley . . .
Ever wondered what happened to Michael Finley after he left the NBA after 15 years following his 2009-10 stint with the Celtics? Finley is now giving back, establishing an endowed scholarship at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin. The annual scholarship will be awarded to an African-American student-athlete at the school.

I wanted to give back to the university that was so instrumental to me as a basketball player and as a man, Finley said at a press conference, the Badger Herald reported. This is something that is going to hopefully live a lot longer than myself. Its a way of extending my legacy here at the university and giving another kid the opportunity to fulfill their dreams through the UW.

Finley averaged 5.2 points in 21 games with the Celtics.

Celtics Tweet of the Week
@iambigbaby11: Been losing a lot weight. Can't wait to Show you guys what I've been doing. Ayo baby
Celtics Birthdays of the Week
Hall of Famer Bill Walton turned 59 on November 5. He won a championship with the Celtics in 1986 . . . Fellow Hall of Famer Tom "Satch" Sanders turned 73 on November 8. He captured eight titles with the C's during the 1960s . . . Kendrick Perkins (27) and Troy Bell (31) share a birthday on November 10 -- and close ties. Bell and Perkins were selected in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Celtics and Grizzlies, respectively, and then traded for one another. Like Walton and Sanders celebrating birthdays this week, Perkins also won a title with the Celtics in 2008.
This Week in Celtics History
On November 6, 2000, the Celtics signed Salem, Massachusetts native Rick Brunson as a free agent. He played seven games for the C's during the 2000-01 season . . . On November 8, 1999 the Celtics waived Wayne Turner and signed Doug Overton as a free agent. On that day in 1996, they also signed Nate Driggers and in 1995 signed Larry Sykes.

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

BOSTON – The final score on the Jumbotron Friday night said the Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 130-120.
 
But there was a clear and undeniable sense of loss on the part of the Celtics, even if Friday’s victory was their third in a row and sixth in the past seven games.
 
The Celtics (47-26) hope to continue on their winning ways tonight against a Miami Heat team currently among a handful fighting for one of the last playoff slots, but are doing so without Dion Waiters (ankle) who has been instrumental in their surge after an 11-30 start to the season.
 
Beating the Heat (35-37) will require Boston to play better than they did against the Suns, a game Boston won, but in many ways had the feeling of defeat.
 
Yes, Devin Booker’s career-high 70 points was very much a blow – a huge blow – to the pride of a team that takes tremendous pride in its defense.
 
But the sense of a loss came in the form of purpose while playing as close to their potential as possible.
 
The Celtics fell short on both fronts Friday night.
 
Being just one game behind Cleveland (47-24) for the best record in the East, the Celtics understand getting as many wins as possible is the mindset right now.
 
But coach Brad Stevens knows that while winning is important, how the team plays is even more valuable.
 
“Like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”
 
Is this Stevens’ way of trying to motivate his players after a not-so-great performance?
 
Or is he seriously concerned that his team isn’t as good as their record?
 
The Celtics, by their own standards, and to those of us on the outside looking in, know they are a better team than the one we saw on Friday night.
 
Not having Avery Bradley (sick) certainly hurt Boston’s efforts defensively.
 
Still, a Friday night’s game wore on, Booker’s confidence only grew and the Celtics’ desire to shut him down or at least slow him down, began to dissipate like an ice cube in hell.
 
And that’s a problem - a big problem - for a team that has to be connected at both ends of the floor for an extended period of time in order to play at the level their capable of and, most important, give them the best shot at emerging victorious in the postseason.
 
That’s why Stevens isn’t too caught up in the team’s chances of catching Cleveland, or whether they go into the playoffs riding a fat winning streak.
 
“I’m not going to get caught up in winning a couple of games in a row and all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I want to get caught up in playing well. We’ve shown ourselves capable of playing well, we have not sustained it throughout a game. And it’s been pretty consistent.”
 

Blakely: Despite their spot in East, consistency remains a problem for Celtics

Blakely: Despite their spot in East, consistency remains a problem for Celtics

BOSTON –  Devin Booker went on a scoring binge for the ages against the Boston Celtics on Friday night, the likes of which won’t be seen anytime soon at the TD Garden.

The performance was so great, even the most die-hard Green Teamers had to give the 20-year-old props for dropping 70 points – 70 points! – on the Celtics who still wound up winning, 130-120.

And as Booker continued to pour on the points and the Celtics’ double-digit lead remained just that, a double-digit lead, the narrative of what we witnessed was a lot deeper than just some young kid getting hot.

The Suns are trying lose as many games as they can, while throwing youngsters out there like Booker to play major minutes and predictably make their share of mistakes with the goal being to learn from those miscues and get better.

But the true lesson in what went down Friday night had little to do with Booker’s big night or some Celtics being a little salty about it afterwards.

Lost in all of the hoopla surrounding Booker’s big night was the repeated revelation by Celtics head coach Brad Stevens after the game about his team’s play and their record not being on one accord.

“That’s why, like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”

And Booker’s historic night is the latest example to illustrate Stevens’ point.

Not having Avery Bradley (sickness) was a factor, obviously.

But that’s no excuse for the way they allowed Booker to do anything and everything he wanted to on the floor, allowing a really good shooter to gain confidence to the point where there was literally nothing the Celtics could do to cool him off.

The Celtics looked casual for three-plus quarters defensively against the Suns and still managed to win which says more about Phoenix and its desire to lose as much as possible, than Boston’s ability to find success and overcome a player with a hot hand.

It was another case of Boston getting away from what works while settling into what felt good and easy.

Most of the guys Phoenix played on Friday weren’t players you would consider big-time scoring threats, so the Celtics defensively didn’t play with a defensive edge other than the first six minutes of the game.

In that span, Phoenix didn’t make a single shot from the field while Boston bolted out to a 16-3 lead.

From there, the Celtics didn’t play with the same sense of urgency.

Fortunately for them, they were playing a team that didn’t want to win.

That’s not going to be the case in these remaining games, a mixture of playoff-bound clubs, wannabe playoff-bound crews and a few others with rosters full of players fighting to stay in the league who will use these remaining games essentially as an audition for next season.

If Boston plays like this in any of their remaining games, they’ll most likely lose.

And that’s why Brad Stevens continues to harp on this team not being as good as their record.

Because when you’re in the same class record-wise with teams like Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland and Houston, there’s a certain expectation of consistency you should play with most nights.

The Warriors and Rockets have explosive scorers; the Spurs play elite-level defense most nights and the Cavs have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Those factors form the basis of their consistency in terms of winning and overall play.

But the Celtics are very much a wild and unpredictable bunch, able to knock off Cleveland and Golden State, but get blasted by Denver and lose to Philadelphia.

If inconsistent play is a hallmark of this team, their potential for having a great season will be remembered as just that, potential.

Because games like the one they played on Friday against Phoenix on more nights than not, will result in a loss which could put the Celtics very much in the crosshairs for an early playoff exit.