Celtics done in by too many missed jumpers vs. Spurs


Celtics done in by too many missed jumpers vs. Spurs

SAN ANTONIO Throughout most of Saturday's loss at San Antonio, Doc Rivers was fuming about what he saw as a lack of consistency in the calls on the floor.

Rivers' hunch was based in large part on the fact that the Spurs went to the free throw line 20 times compared to just eight trips for a Celtics team that averages 22.1 free throw attempts per game which ranks 18th in the league.

But the way the game was called should serve as a cautionary tale for teams like Boston that live by the jump-shot.

Finding a better balance between exploiting what is a clear strength - shooting jumpers - while exploring other ways to score going to the basket will be among the challenges Boston will have in Tuesday's game at Chicago.

Boston (12-11), riding a two-game losing streak now, has proven to be one of the league's better shooting teams when it comes to mid-range shots.

According to NBA.comstats, Boston is the connecting on a league-best 46.1 percent of their mid-range shots. Meanwhile the Bulls are shooting 42 percent on corner 3s which ranks seventh in the league.

While some might question the C's shot selection in Saturday's 101-88 loss to the Spurs as being too dependent on scoring from the perimeter, Celtics guard Jason Terry liked the looks for the most part the C's were getting.

"The shots we got were great," said Terry who had 18 points off the bench. "You can't turn those down. I know all of us want to say, 'Don't shoot jump shots. Get to the basket.' But a lot of them were wide open."

In the first half, he was right.

That is why Boston took 23 shots of at least 15 feet in the first half, and nailed 12 of them. In the second half, San Antonio's defense limited Boston to just 17 shot attempts of 15 feet or more with the C's hitting just four.

"We switched more (defensively in the second half)," explained Spurs guard Tony Parker who had a game-high 22 points to go with eight assists. "We just tried to play better defense. It sounds basic but that's what we did."

And the Spurs ability to pull away in the second half was also in part because of their ability to find a better balance between knocking down long-range shots while still getting points going to the basket or from the free throw line.

In the first half, San Antonio was 7-for-20 shooting on field goal attempts of 15 feet or further away. In the second half, they were 7-for-15.

And remember, both teams shot an identical 38-for-81 from the field.

While the Celtics have made progress in some areas since the start of the season, they still struggle to generate points around the paint other than Kevin Garnett post-ups and Rajon Rondo drives into the lane.

Paul Pierce still attacks the rim from time to time, but the 35-year-old is transitioning into being more of a perimeter shooter who doesn't generate as many points as he has in the past on isolation plays.

There's a growing concern among some Celtics players that they're having too many nights where the offense is dictating the play of the defense - a recipe for failure both in the short and long-term.

"If the shots don't fall, we have to have a defensive consistency," Pierce said. "We should be able to score between 90-96 points and still try to find a way to win the game with our defense."

Boston has to do what other teams are doing to them - make adjustments.

And one of the first needs to be to figure out other ways to generate points besides jumpers which as we've seen thus far this season, is an up and down affair - just like the Celtics record.

Acciari notches first NHL goal in Bruins win over Predators

Acciari notches first NHL goal in Bruins win over Predators

BOSTON – It took until his 43rd game in the NHL to finally score his first goal with the Bruins, but Rhode Island native Noel Acciari said it made him appreciate it all the more when that moment finally did arrived on Tuesday night. The 25-year-old Acciari finished off a Riley Nash feed on a 3-on-1 odd-man rush that gave the Bruins an insurance goal they badly needed in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators at TD Garden.

Then David Pastrnak hit Acciari with a shaving cream pie to the face during the NESN broadcast as a way to commemorate his teammate’s big scoring moment, and Torey Krug immediately fished the puck out of the net to make certain that Acciari would get it.

So it was the best of both worlds with the team-oriented Acciari, who watched his Bruins win to go right along with his hallmark scoring moment that he’ll remember forever.

“Your first NHL goal is a special feeling and to finally have it, you know, like I said before I couldn’t have done it without the other guys, the other four, five guys on the ice. But it feels good,” said Acciari, who has a goal and four points in 24 games this season in Boston. “It just shows you how special it is. It’s not going to come the first game you play; it could come 10, 20, for me probably over 40, but it still feels the same.”

Clearly it’s more about providing a physical, heavy and aggressive opponent when Acciari suits up for the Black and Gold, and it’s less about providing offensive production that’s really a bonus from the fourth line. The focus on throwing hits, aggravating opponents and playing with extra energy have been a big part of Acciari’s game since his return from Providence, and that is absolutely been by design.

“I think I kind of strayed [from my strengths] when I got back from my injury – I kind of strayed away from the hitting game,” said Acciari. “Just getting in on the fore-check and, you know, just kind of getting back to that down in Providence was huge and kind of get my confidence up down there helped out a lot. So when I got the call up I was ready for anything.”

He’s certainly played like he was ready for anything while posting a goal and two points along with a plus-4 in his first four games back for the Bruins organization. Acciari did all of that while leading everybody in Tuesday night’s game with eight registered hits in the win over Nashville. So the 5-foot-10, 208-pound Acciari gave a pretty good example against the Predators of just what he can do with steady ice time and the trust of his teammates as all of the hockey clubs in the East gear up to finish strong for the playoffs.

Now all Acciari has to do is continue to play consistently, punish opposing players and chip in a little offense from time and time as he carves out a permanent role on Boston’s fourth line, and helps his team win a few along the way. 

Florio on issues NFL may face with Raiders in Las Vegas

Florio on issues NFL may face with Raiders in Las Vegas

Mike Florio joins Quick Slants to discuss the problems of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas, and the latest NFL rule changes.