Tag: NBA

Three Things Boston has to do to get by Streaking Nets

The Boston Celtics are currently riding a two game win streak with wins over western conference opponents in the Timberwolves and Mavericks, but tonight Boston will face a scrappy Brooklyn Nets team who are sitting in the seventh spot in the east. The Nets have won eight of their last 10 games and find themselves in the playoff picture for the first time since the 2014-15 season. They also have six players averaging double digit scoring.

These are three major points Boston has to do if they want to come away with a win.

Get Jarrett Allen in Foul Trouble

Since Aron Baynes went down with a broken hand last month the Celtics have had a hard time defending the paint. The team is averaging 34.4 defensive rebounds a game, but their undersized big men in Al Horford, Daniel Theis and Guerschon Yabusele have been getting pounded down low. We saw that in their loss against the Houston Rockets as Clint Capela finished the game with 19 rebounds. The Timberwolves didn’t go down easy either, Karl-Anthony Towns gave Boston trouble in the paint putting up 28 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

Brooklyn’s Jarrett Allen is in the conversation for defensive player of the year averaging 1.4 blocks per game (BPG). Allen has been a force in the paint for the Nets all season, he’s had some impressive blocks against MVP caliber players in LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo. With Baynes and Robert Williams out, Boston’s undersized big men are going to have to control Allen in the paint, which is easier said than done considering Allen is averaging 8.3 rebounds a game (RPG). Boston’s guards will have to get Allen into foul trouble so they can get easy buckets against backup center Ed Davis in switches and in the pick-n-roll.

Slow Down PG Duo of Dinwiddie and Russell

With Caris LeVert going down with a nasty ankle injury in November, in what seemed to be a similar injury that Gordon Hayward suffered last season, D’Angelo Russell has took it upon himself to carry the team offensively. He’s had helped from back-up point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who’s also in the conversation for sixth man of the year, averaging 17.2 points per game (PPG) off the bench. Russell himself is putting up 18.4 PPG and dishing out 6.4 assists per game (APG).

Marcus Smart and Kyrie Irving, who is returning from an eye injury after missing two games, are going to have to play tight defense against Russell and Dinwiddie who over the season have shown to be a match-up problem on the offensive end. Dinwiddie and Russell have respectively put up over 30 points on multiple occasions. The 6’6 Dinwiddie is going to be a match-up problem against the smaller Boston point guards in Smart, Irving and Terry Rozier.

Out Hustle Brooklyn

If we were talking about last season’s Boston Celtics we wouldn’t be having this discussion in terms of hustle plays, but that’s not the case for this season team. The Celtics ability to overcome deficits last season was the team’s identity, they had an 8-5 winning record after trailing by at least 13 points and 5-4 in games when they were down by at least 17 points. But this season Boston’s only has had a few gritty comeback victories against the Philadelphia 76ers on Christmas day, Phoenix Suns and Oklahoma City at the start of the season.

Brooklyn is obviously the underdog going into Monday’s match-up, but under head coach Kenny Atkinson they’re grinding out victories against big time playoff opponents. They picked up wins over the Sixers, Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers and Charlotte Hornets. Brooklyn are top ten in the NBA in offensive rebound percentage at 29.7 percent, which can play can be a big key if they want to steal a win in Boston.

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Celtics Win Wire-to-Wire Game Against Minnesota, Hayward Drops 35

It seems that Gordon Hayward loves to play against the Minnesota Timberwolves, in their December meeting Hayward scored a game high 30 points and in yesterday’s match-up he dropped a season high 35 points. Hayward torched the Timberwolves defense all game scoring as he shot 14-of-18 from the field to go along with five assists to lead Boston to a 115-102 victory at home.

“He’s going to make a lot of shots, because he’s got a lot due,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “He was disappointed in how he shot the ball, obviously, in San Antonio and got back in the gym this morning.”

Hayward is still working his way back from the gruesome leg injury suffered on opening night of the 2017-18 season that sidelined him all of last season. “When you see the ball go through the hoop, and it give you a little bit of confidence. Getting stuff in transition, some easy ones, kinda get yourself going, that stuff always feels good,” said Hayward after the game.

Terry Rozier stepped up in Irving’s absence

From the start of the game you can see Terry Rozier had that bounce in his step, as he started for the injured Kyrie Irving. In the first quarter Rozier was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field with some impressive shot making and fancy lay-ups to the basket. He would finish the game with 16-points and five assist on 32 minutes of action.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors

There’s no denying that Rozier is a true starting point guard in the league, his numbers as a starter differ from those when he comes off the bench. Rozier’s numbers are noticeably higher as a starter than as a reserve, in 22 minutes off the bench this season he’s averaging 8.1 points per game (PPG), 2.5 assists per game (APG), 3.8 rebounds per game (RPB) all while shooting 36.8 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from three-point range.

In his three games as a starter this season Rozier is averaging 16 PPG, 4.7 APG, 5.3 RPB, is shooting 56.7 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from behind the arc. Rozier’s confidence as a start results in a greater impact on the floor for Boston, before Wednesday’s game his mentality was simply to “go out there and kill.”

Third Quarter Problems Continue For the Celtics

For the second straight game the third quarter was a problem for Boston, in their prior game against San Antonio they gave up 46-points in the third. Against the Timberwolves last night the same issue came into play, the Celtics were up by 18 at the half and in the third quarter Minnesota punished Boston in the paint scoring 39 points in the quarter.

Center, Karl-Anthony Towns stuffed the stat sheet in the second half, with only four points at the half Towns finished with 28-points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. A lot of it had to do with the absence of Aron Baynes for Boston and their undersized big men in Al Horford, Daniel Theis and Guerschon Yabusele.

The Celtics continue their home stretch as Luka Doncic and the Mavericks visit TD Garden on Friday, a game Boston would very much like to win after losing their first meeting in November.

The Best Center in College Basketball: Breaking Down Bol Bol’s Game

Bol Bol is taking college basketball by storm, leading the Oregon Ducks to a 9-4 record.

Bol is a freakish 7’2, 234lb athletic player. His ability to space the floor, and be a consistent scorer is helping Oregon to a winning record. Along with his freakish stature, Bol has a 7’6 wingspan which helps him defend and block shots.

Bol is currently averaging 21 points, 9.6 Rebs and 2.7 blocks on 56% shooting from the field and an unbelievable 52% from 3.

Bol’s strength lies in his ability to score, defend, rebound, and block shots. He can do a lot of damage anywhere on the court. His ability to space the floor will make him a valuable asset for any team come the 2019 NBA Draft.

Bol’s most underrated skill is his IQ, he knows how to be an efficient scorer, as well as a smart defender. These skills will translate well in the NBA.

Bol’s weaknesses stem from his skinny stature. Ultimately, he needs to bulk up and work on being a force down low. Bol has a tendency to get knocked out of place by stronger opponents. Also, he isn’t the best screener and he isn’t keen on setting picks and rolling to the basket much.

Bol has to work on being a force as a big man, he sometimes looks for the jump shot rather than taking his opponent inside. His inability to do this is due to his lack of strength as he doesn’t feel enthusiastic about playing inside. He is very raw in this area, and to be a great center in the NBA, he must develop a consistent inside game.

He also isn’t the best decision maker as he currently averages more turnovers at 2.0 a game than assists at 1 a game. Sometimes when he is given the ball, he would look to dribble and go for a midrange shot rather than looking for a better shot.

The biggest question with Bol’s game is his heart to play. Does he really want it? He doesn’t always hustle and is sometimes the last man up the court in offensive and defensive possessions. Bol doesn’t always box out players and plays at one speed. He isn’t the toughest player at this point in his career, and that will get exposed at the NBA level if he doesn’t show the willingness to do the little things on the court.

Overall Bol’s value will lie on his defensive and offensive abilities. He is a remarkable athlete but needs to get stronger if he wants to play at the next level. Bol is a point guard’s dream, he is the ideal stretch big that NBA teams want.

Bol’s upside is unclear at this point, as it seems this may be the peak of his game. His work ethic and ability to play consistent minutes in the NBA will determine how better he will get.

Bol Bol may find more playing time at the power forward position more than the center position in the NBA, as his ability to stretch the floor will be a huge asset to teams.

Bol is the son of Manute Bol, who is famous for playing for the Washington Bullets in the late 1980s. Manute was 7’7 with an 8’6 wingspan but struggled to find consistent play timing.

Bol has a lot of the skills that Manute had but better. Bol is a better offensive player at this stage then his father was.

Bol has drawn comparisons to New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis. They both are similar in their strengths and weaknesses going into the draft. The biggest question with Porzingis was his strength, toughness, and feel for the game. Bol has similar question marks at this point in his college career.

C’s Ring in the New Year Losing to San Antonio

The third and final game of Boston’s west coast road trip resulted in a 120-111, loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Boston dropped the ball in the third quarter allowing the Spurs to score 46 points in the quarter, matching their total points of the first half. The Spurs shot 19-of-25 from the field and connected on all five of their three-point attempts.

The collapse was due to the Celtics defense, with their offense also having their same old struggles of bad shot selection and ball movement. At the start of the second half you could see how the absence of Boston’s big, Aron Baynes, was exploited by San Antonio’s guards. Derrick White repeatedly broke down the defense by attacking the paint for open layups or finding teammates. LaMarcus Aldridge was the primary beneficiary of White’s aggressiveness, he made 5-of-6 shots in the quarter for 12 points.

Aron Baynes rim protection and his effort to challenge shots without fear is something Boston has missed in their games against Milwaukee, Houston and San Antonio.

Jaylen Brown Scores a Season High 30-points

Jaylen Brown had his best offensive performance of the season on Monday, he finished with 30-points and 4 rebounds off the bench. Brown seems to be getting his grove back after dealing with injuries and role changes. Monday’s game was the best version of Brown the Celtics have seen all season, his aggressive play on both ends of the floor was a welcoming sight for Boston fans.

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Marcus Morris on the other hand continues to play stellar basketball for Boston, he finished with 18-points, and made big shots after Kyrie Irving left the game with an eye injury. All season Morris has been Boston’s most consistent player, in what has been a career-year.

Gordon Hayward could forget about yesterday’s game and continue to move forward. Hayward missed all six of his shots and went 0-of-5 from behind the arc.

Kyrie Irving Goes Down with a Scratched Eye Injury

Kyrie Irving left the game in the fourth quarter after suffering what he called a scratched left cornea injury. Irving suffered the injury after he and Spurs guard Marco Belinelli attempted to secure a rebound of Irving’s missed 28-foot attempt. Belinelli swiped at the ball and hit Irving in the eye.

Celtics coach brad Stevens wasn’t sure whether the injury could force Irving to miss time. “Kyrie has a scratched eye,” Stevens said, “so he’ll have antibiotics for that. I don’t know what that means beyond tonight.”

Irving addressed the media after the game wearing a pair of sunglasses to cover the injury, “I’m wearing sunglasses, so not too good. I’ll be all right, though. He smacked the s— out of me. He just caught me pretty good,” Irving said.

If Irving would happen to miss some time it could be a big opportunity for Terry Rozier to find his game, after being moved back to the bench with Irving’s return. Last year in Irving absence Rozier had a career year, making big shots in the postseason while coming one game away from reaching the NBA Finals alongside Jayson Tatum and Brown. Rozier has struggled offensively coming off the bench, he’s played 22 minutes a game as opposed to the 33 minutes he played last year as a starter. Off the bench he’s averaging 8.6 points per game and 2.6 assists per game.

 

 

 

Kyrie Lights up TD Garden in OT win over 76ers

Down by two with less than 30 seconds to go in regulation the Boston Celtics turned to their closer/superstar in Kyrie Irving. With Jimmy Butler playing air tight defense on him, Irving used his signature turn around fade away jumper to send the game into overtime. In overtime Irving would carry the Celtics to a 121-114, victory over Philadelphia, finishing the game with 40-points and 10-rebounds.

“I’m about used to it now,” said Marcus Morris, “when he first came, it was crazy. But some of the s— don’t even surprise me no more with how often he does it.”

It would be the second time in a Christmas Day match-up against a playoff opponent where Irving would lead his team to victory. In 2016, Irving hit a similar shot over Golden States Klay Thompson, to give Cleveland the victory. Even before the game Irving told his teammates he was going to be “acting up”, “I told my teammates, ‘My family is here to watch me play. I have 20-lpus people from my family here, so I’m acting up,” said Irving. “

“I don’t really get a chance to have family all in one place, and most my family came tonight, so it means a lot to me. To have them here on Christmas, I was like a kid…. its Christmas spirit, man, and I missed it.” 

To Embiid there is no Rivalry with Boston

The second meeting between these two teams ended in the same result as the Celtics once again overcame the Sixers in a thriller, Joel Embiid once again reiterated his comments that the Sixers and Celtics isn’t a rivalry. “We lost again. Like I said at the beginning of the season, I don’t know what a rivalry is. I think I do, but this is clear as day, this is no rivalry,” said Embiid.

Embiid first made those comment on opening night at Boston, when he said that he does not consider the Sixers and Celtics a rivalry because they always lose. Despite the loss, Embiid was still his usual self, notching 34-points and 16-rebounds.

Players and Coaches Praise Kyrie’s Performance

Even Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown had to praise Irving’s clutch performance, “Kyrie was elite tonight,” said Brown. “That’s what people, and there aren’t many, in his sort of weight class do.”

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Kyrie shows emotion after scoring a game high 40-points in a win over the Sixers. (Photo credit, NBC Sports)

For teammate Al Horford he’s glad Irving is now in his team and is doing it for their club, “I remember Kyle Korver when we played with Kyrie (in Cleveland), one of the things he told me was he makes shots in big moments,” Horford said. “He’s the guy that we would go to here, and it’s just great because Ky, taking those big shots, making the right play, just having the ball in his hands. It was a lot of fun. The crowd went crazy for the second (overtime 3-pointer). So just emotions running high.”

Irving is no stranger to big time moments, his 41-points in Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals to force Game 6, his 57-point performance against Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs in 2015 and who can forget his shot over Stephen Curry in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals that brought a championship to Cleveland.

“I always talk about being on those big stages, said Irving. “It’s just so much fun. It’s competition at its highest. I love going against the best.”

 

 

Boston Shakes off Three Game Skid with Win over Hornets

The return of Al Horford into the lineup was a much needed boost for Boston’s frontcourt after getting blown out by the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. Boston picked up a wire to wire victory on Sunday against Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets, 119-103, it was a big victory to get them back on track before their Christmas Day showdown with Philadelphia.

Kyrie Irving led the way for Boston with 25 points, 17 of those points came in the first quarter where he shot 7-9 from the field. Horford picked up 10 points and six rebounds in his return, while Marcus Morris had 12 points and eight rebounds in his first game back.

The Celtics Air out Frustration

After getting run off their home floor on Friday the Celtics closed their locker room doors for 36 minutes following the 13 point loss. They held a player only meeting to clear the air and find solutions to what can be done to improve their poor performances. Irving spoke gave little to no detail on the meeting, “I think everyone can see that we’ve obviously had some inconsistencies regarding our play, so I think it was just time to address it,” said Irving. He pointed out some critical points about the team’s recent play saying a lack of “cohesion” and there being “some selfish plays” among his teammates.

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The point of emphasis for Boston has been their lack of ball movement and too much iso-plays, and coming out the gates on Sunday you can just see a different Boston team. The Celtics dished out 30 assists as a team against Charlotte, compared to their 22 against the Bucks on Friday. The play of the night for Boston had to be the alley-oop play between Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier, a similar play that Irving and Hayward ran last year that resulted in Hayward’s season ending injury.

Boston improves to 19-14 with the win and sit in the fifth spot in the east. The Christmas Day match-up with the 76ers is a huge test for Boston, the 76ers are coming off a huge win against the top seeded Toronto Raptors on Saturday.

Are The Brooklyn Nets Future Championship Contenders?

The Brooklyn Nets currently sit at the 9th seed in the Eastern Conference, winning 8 of their last 10 games and are 16-19 on the season. The Nets are quietly sneaking up into playoff contention in the east.

The Nets had impressive wins over the 76ers, Raptors, and the Lakers in their 10 game stretch. The play of D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Jarrett Allen have been key to the Nets’ success.

“I still think the defense can be better,” said Kenny Atkinson, Nets Head Coach. “we are in an “ok” place, not a “great” place.”

The Nets currently rank 19th in team defense per game. They are falling below average in this category. This has been a weak spot for the Nets all season as they haven’t figured it out defensively yet.

Their bench production has also been something to take note of, including the impressive play by their 2018 2nd round pick, Rodions Kurucs, who is averaging 10 Points and 3.4 rebounds in the month of December.

“We play like a team, we support each other, we got each other’s back,” said Kurucs after defeating the Phoenix Suns on Sunday afternoon, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. “We are helping each other, we are pushing each other.”

The Nets have been turning heads as they’re not far from being in the playoffs. Right now, they are currently behind the Detroit Pistons for the 8th seed. But if the Nets keep up their level of play, they may surprise everyone and grab the 6th seed.

The Nets are only a couple of years away from being true championship contenders, and it may come as a surprise due to their lack of draft picks and activity in the free agency.

Through the years, they were able to draft diamond in the rough players. After trading multiple draft picks for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett back in 2013, they quietly were able to build a team of quality hard-working players during the aftermath of that trade.

The Nets traded their franchise center in Brook Lopez for a young and promising guard in D’Angelo Russell. They drafted Caris Levert, Rodions Kurucs, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Jarrett Allen. They all proved to be productive players on the team.

The Nets are still missing something, and that is a franchise player. The Nets need a go-to scorer to compliment D’Angelo Russell and Caris Levert. Luckily, the Nets will have their draft pick this year as well as money to spend in the 2019 NBA Free Agency.

With names such as Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Demarcus Cousins, Kawhi Leonard, and Kevin Durant testing the free agency waters, the Nets wouldn’t look like a bad option if they are able to contend in the east this year.

The development of D’Angelo Russell is crucial to the Nets’ future. Right now, he isn’t a consistent scorer to be a franchise player. He is still extremely young, 22 Years old, so he will have more time to develop.

Russell is averaging 17.5 points and 6.3 assists while shooting 41% from the field and 36% from 3pt land. These are promising numbers from Russell, but if he wants to take that leap to stardom, he is going to have to be a consistent scorer in the league.