Celtics invade Fenway for a chemistry lesson

Celtics invade Fenway for a chemistry lesson

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM -- Rajon Rondo has pulled off memorable moves over the years with the Celtics, but this time he hit it out the park.

On Friday, the Celtics spent the day playing softball at Fenway Park. Rondo came up with the idea to coordinate a team game and the Red Sox organization gave them access to the field. General Manager Theo Epstein was even in attendance.

"It was a dream come true," said Kevin Garnett. "I felt like I was 10 years old."

MVP honors went to Rondo, according to Doc Rivers. He wasn't the only one to impress, either. In spite of being drafted second-to-last, Jermaine O'Neal emphasized that he "went yard," and noted Von Wafer did as well.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who played in the major leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays from 1979-81 before switching from baseball to basketball, also made a standout play.

"Danny Ainge took a dive," said O'Neal. "It was a Gold Glove moment where the ball was hit extremely fast and he dove for it and actually caught it to try to make a play at first . . . Even though he was drafted, 30 years later you don't expect him to make that kind of play. It was funny because he made the play and then made it look easy."

The softball game is yet another addition to the ever-growing list of team-building activities the Celtics have arranged this preseason. From movie nights to Duck Boat rides to team dinners, the players are jelling thanks to these off-the-court experiences.

"That was one of the best days of my life, actually," said Paul Pierce. "It's all team chemistry, it's all team bonding. It's fun. We have a great group of guys and that's one thing you see. That's why we do things like that. From top to bottom, everyone likes one another and it's fun when we do activities like that because all it's doing is building our chemistry and our team bonding."

Echoed Garnett: "It certainly doesn't hurt. I think the more you do together, the more activities you have together, the more you get to know one another, the more one-on-ones you have with each other -- I think this group is just trying to sort of ease the competitive job which we're used to playing against each other and coming together for this common goal. So far, so good."

After a fun day on the baseball field, the Celtics were back to basketball at practice on Saturday.

"We're going to challenge the Red Sox now on the basketball court," joked Rivers. "Because baseball, I don't think we're going to win."

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcamerato

Fast-break points aren't necessarily a good thing for Celtics

Fast-break points aren't necessarily a good thing for Celtics

BOSTON – Conventional NBA wisdom tells you that getting out to score in transition is a good thing, usually serving as easy points scored, which is what every team wants, right?
 
But bundles of transition points have been nothing but trouble for the Celtics this season.
 
They are coming off a game against the New York Knicks in which they scored 22 fast-break points, which was their second-best showing this season. But the final score, a 117-106 loss, wasn’t all that unusual from what has happened this season when their transition game has generated a decent amount of scoring.
 
Boston has a 2-6 record this season when they score 16 or more fast-break points. On the nights when Boston’s fast-break offense generates 10 or fewer points?
 
They’re 11-5.
 
While there are several possible reasons why this is, here’s what you have to remember.
 
The Celtics are a ball-movement, 3-point shooting team.
 
Often that means they’ll pass up potential shots in transition, to instead work the ball around from one side of the floor to the other, until they get what they deem is the best shot to take (usually it’s a lightly contested to wide open 3-pointer).
 
The Celtics average 329.6 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.8). Not surprisingly, that has led to them ranking among the league’s leaders in assists (24.9, third in the NBA).
 
And that has led to Boston being ranked among the top-3 in several other key passing statistics, such as secondary assists (7.1, 2nd in the NBA); potential assists (49.5, 2nd); and assists points created (60.8, 3rd);
 
Here are a few more stats to crunch on, courtesy of CSN Associate Producer Andy Levine.
 
PAINT BY NUMBERS: When the Celtics score 40 percent or less of their points in the paint, they are 19-5 this season. When Boston gets 40 percent or more of its points in the paint, they are just 7-11.
 
BROWN IN THE FOURTH: Jaylen Brown has been among the better rookies this season, especially in the fourth quarter. Among rookies who played in at least 20 games in the fourth quarter, Brown is second in fourth quarter shooting at 54.9 percent. With those same standards, he’s sixth in shooting 3’s in the fourth at 38.5 percent.
 
CROWDER BOUNCES BACK: The past four games has seemingly brought out the best in Crowder. In that span, he has averaged 18.5 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 57 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range. Crowder’s 3-point shooting of late has elevated him to seventh in the league while connecting on 42.5 percent of his 3-point attempts (minimum 150 attempts).

OUCH! It has not been a smooth start for Evan Turner with his new team, the Portland Trail Blazers. This season, Turner’s plus/minus is -234, which is the fourth-worst plus/minus in the NBA.
 
 

Stevens: Bradley, Zeller, Jerebko out vs. Trail Blazers

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Stevens: Bradley, Zeller, Jerebko out vs. Trail Blazers

BOSTON – Before Brad Stevens addressed the media before the Celtics faced the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday afternoon, he had to take a moment to make sure he wouldn’t forget anyone who wasn’t able to play.
 
Yeah, the list was a pretty long one.
 
Tyler Zeller, Demetrius Jackson and Jonas Jerebko will not play tonight due to sickness. And Avery Bradley (right Achilles strain) will also be out with a timetable that’s starting to feel like it’ll be longer than anyone would want.
 
“I don’t anticipate Avery this week at all,” Stevens said. “He still has some soreness. Obviously we’re concerned about the long-term impact of a sore Achilles; what it means on that foot but also what it means when you compensate off it. But he’ll be back when he’s ready but I think he’s still a little bit away.”
 
Bradley, the team’s top on-the-ball defender and No. 2 scorer this season at 17.7 points per game, will be out for the sixth time in the Celtics’ last seven games because of the Achilles injury.
 
Replacing him in the starting lineup will be Marcus Smart whose status for tonight’s game wasn’t a sure thing.
 
On the Celtics’ pregame notes package, Smart was listed as probable with a sore right ankle injury. I asked Stevens about Smart’s status a few minutes ago, and he said the 6-foot-4 Smart will play tonight.
 
In his 15 starts this season, Smart has averaged 10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 38.4 percent from the field and 31.7 percent on 3's - all of which are better than what he produces when coming off the bench.