A. Sherrod Blakely's Truth And Rumors


A. Sherrod Blakely's Truth And Rumors

By A. Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON During a rare Boston Celtics practice recently, there was a familiar face on the floor: Delonte West.

When West returns to action and all indications are that it will be sometime next month the Celtics will gradually phase him in.

But it won't be long before he's playing his usual minutes.

When that happens, somebody's minutes are going to be cut.

And when you look at this Celtics' roster, it's quite obvious that the most likely candidate is Nate Robinson.

He did a solid job early on filling in for Rajon Rondo as a starter.

But Robinson's play has taken a step back in recent weeks, making it more likely that West will eventually become a backup to Rondo and, potentially, Ray Allen.

At 6-foot-3, West gives the Celtics a bigger player who is also more versatile.

West, who suffered a broken right wrist injury on Nov. 24, can play both guard positions. And depending on the opponent and the lineup on the floor, he could give the C's some minutes at the small forward position as well.

But aside from his physical attributes, West provides a certain toughness to the C's bench that's unmatched among Boston's backups.

West getting minutes over Robinson should not be viewed as Robinson being a bad player or anything like that.

Actually, it says more about the C's depth than it does about Robinson.


The All-Star Game will be here in a couple weeks, and the Boston Celtics are sure to be well represented.

Boston should lead all teams with at least four players selected.

If you've paid attention to the Eastern Conference this season, it's clear Rajon Rondo has established himself as one of the NBA's top point guards.

To the casual fan, any top-five list of point guards this season has to include Rondo, who is the NBA's assists leader with 12.9 per game.

He'll also be joined by Kevin Garnett, who has regained his '08 form. He missed nine games because of a muscle strain in his lower right leg, but has returned to action and appears well on his way to getting back to where he was this season prior to the injury.

Paul Pierce is a definite All-Star this season. In fact, one can argue that of all the seasons Pierce has been named to the All-Star team, this might be his most impressive season.

His scoring average doesn't overwhelm you.

But when you look at how efficient he has been, which is rare for a high-volume shooter so advanced into their career, there's no doubt he has been one of the top two or three small forwards in the East this season.

And last but certainly not least, you have Ray Allen.

At 35 years old, it's amazing how well Allen has played in helping lead the Celtics to the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Like Pierce, Allen has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts this season.

On track to become the NBA's all-time leader in 3-pointers made this season, Allen is also shooting a career-high 45.3 percent from 3-point range.

When you look at what they've done, coupled with the Celtics success this season, it's a no-brainer.

Boston's Big Four will be all-stars next month.


After a recent loss at Washington, it brought back memories of last season when there were far too many losses to bad teams by Boston.

When the season ended, C's players bemoaned how those setbacks cost them home-court advantage throughout most of the playoffs, including the NBA Finals.

This season, 5 of the C's 10 losses have been to teams at or below-.500.

But there is a difference with this year.

Those losses, if anything, seem to re-focus this team on what they have to do in order to be successful.

Following a loss to Cleveland early in the season, Boston reeled off five straight wins.

And after a one-point loss at Toronto, the C's got Jalapeo-hot by winning 14 straight.

The Celtics had two sets of back-to-back losses, and ran off winning streaks of five and four games, respectively.

So as disappointing as it might have seemed to lose to the woeful Wizards, just remember.

Such losses should not be seen as trouble.

Instead, they serve as a heads-up that the C's are about to start rolling over teams and a nice winning streak is coming.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Pregame number: Al Horford to the rescue


Pregame number: Al Horford to the rescue

Tonight’s pregame number to watch is 45.4%. That was the Celtics' score frequency on pick and rolls finished by the screener last season, which was the worst rate in the NBA.

Score Frequency: The percentage of possession in which the team or player scores at least 1 point.

The major problem for the Celtics last season was personnel, as Jared Sullinger finished the most pick and roll plays for the C’s after setting a screen, and he was -- to put it nicely -- freaking terrible. Sullinger was the second-worst roll/pop man in the league, averaging a paltry 0.87 points per possession.

Fortunately, the Celtics replaced Jared Sullinger with four-time All-Star Al Horford, who is one of the elite roll/pop men in the NBA. Last season, Horford finished fifth in the NBA averaging 1.13 points per possession as a roll/pop man and boasted a more than solid 57.1 eFG% on those plays. 

eFG% (Effective Field Goal Percentage): Measures field goal percentage adjusting for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. The equation is ((FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA

If you watched the preseason, then you already know the kind of impact Horford can have on the Celtics half court offense. So keep an eye out for those pick and rolls tonight and throughout the season, and we should see that 45.4% Score Frequency jump somewhere closer to 50%.

Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win


Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win

BOSTON –  This is not where Al Horford thought he would be right now.
Back in May, the Atlanta Hawks had just been swept out of the playoffs by the soon-to-be NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Disappointed with the outcome obviously, Horford was a free agent-to-be who was confident that he would be back in Atlanta and the Hawks would retool by adding to their core group which he was a major part of, and they would be back to making another run at it this season.
First there was the draft night trade of point guard Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers. 
And during Horford's negotiations with the Hawks in July, they were also negotiating with Dwight Howard and ultimately signed the Atlanta native to a three-year, $70.5 million contract. 
Before the Howard deal was complete, the Celtics had already made a strong impression on Horford during their presentation to him. 
So the choice was pretty clear.
Return to Atlanta and potentially have a major logjam up front with himself, Howard and Paul Millsap, or join a Celtics team that’s on the rise where his five-tool skillset – passing, rebounding, defending, scoring and making those around him better – could be put to great use on a team that’s clearly on the rise. 
Horford chose the latter, giving both himself and the Celtics exactly what they wanted – stability and a chance to win at the highest of levels.
The first shot to see how this basketball marriage looks on the floor will be tonight when the Celtics kick off the 2016-2017 season at the TD Garden against the Brooklyn Nets. 
The preseason isn’t the best indicator of what’s on the horizon now that games count, but Horford’s presence was undeniable.
Boston’s starters which includes Horford, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson, each finished with a positive, double-digit plus/minus in the preseason. 
“He just makes the game so much easier for all of us,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “He can do so many things out there at both ends of the floor. He’s going to be big for us this season.”
And his impact can be felt both on the floor and inside the locker room, similar to what he brought to the Atlanta Hawks.
“With the way that I go about it is, I’m trying to win,” Horford told CSNNE.com. “I’m gonna work, put in my work, try to help guys get better not only on the court but off the court as well. That’s how I carry myself.”
 And it is that approach to the game that has made his transition to the Celtics a relatively seamless one. 
Horford holds many fond memories of his time in Atlanta, a place that will always be near and dear to his heart. 
But he’s a Celtic now, coming in with the same single-minded focus that drives this organization to continue pursuing the only thing that truly matters to them – an NBA title. 
"Even though I’m leaving a lot behind, as a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”