Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
The Celtics have one of the most enduring chemical bonds in pro sports. On the court they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses inside and out. Rivers cited the latter as part of the problem last season, noting that it became too easy to point to reoccurring mistakes instead of trying to cover for them.
Off the floor, the key to the Celtics togetherness isn’t that they do funny things that sometimes wind up on Twitter. It’s not even whether they like each or not. It’s more basic than that and it goes to the heart of their success. Simply put, they respect each other and trust that when there’s work to be done everything else is secondary.
The Heat are not only learning how to play together, they are trying to figure out how to co-exist in a hothouse atmosphere that they created. They get no sympathy from the Celtics, or anyone else for that matter, but they would do well to learn from their example.
The inescapable truth is, however, that it’s a lot harder than it looks.
Miami is currently 3rd in their division and 6th in the conference. They're dealing with poor play and controversy (the now infamous "did LeBron really mean to bump Spoelstra" video at the top of this post). And they've got a fan base that needs to be taught how to be fans.
I understand why people thought they'd be following the Celtics blueprint. They got a star power forward, small forward and shooting guard together on the same team. But the problem is, beyond that, there were no real similarities at all. Hell, other than the positions they play, there aren't many similarities between the "Big 3's" either.
I don't want to rip from Flannery's piece because he nailed all these points… but the timing for Ray, Paul and KG was right. They were all sick of losing and being ringless. And they all had the temperament that allowed for the necessary sacrifices. LeBron had his share of disappointments… but he still feels like he's entitled to a ring or two. Wade already has a title. And Bosh was always going to be third fiddle
The Celtics came in hungry and ready to do whatever they needed to do to win. And the simple fact is… Miami doesn't have KG. That guy's intensity changed everything. He turned Perk into a monster. He helped elevate Pierce and Ray defensively. And he set a pretty high bar for the entire team.
Beyond the questions of the rest of the roster… beyond the questions of coaching… there is no player on this team like that. There is no superstar who DEMANDS defensive excellence and unselfishness.
That, maybe more than anything, is why Miami is starting slow. They very well may rebound and they very well might get REALLY hot… but their learning curve is MUCH bigger than the C's curve was. Aside from having three star players… nothing that Miami's doing is like what Boston did in 2007.
Related Links: CSNNE: Heat have to change their ways
On Page 2: The Boston Bench Mob is having its problems
During the 30-minute window assigned to the starters, Boston outscored opponents 1,037-898 for an average point differential per game of about plus-8.7. During the 18-minute window examined for the bench, Boston was outscored 563-530 for an average point differential of minus-2.1.
The discrepancy isn't so bad when considering points allowed per minute. The starters give up 1.87 points per minute during their 30-minute block, while the reserves allow 1.95 points per minute during their 18-minute span. The problem is on offense, where the starters average 2.16 points per minute and the bench scores 1.84 per minute.
Going back to simpler metrics, Boston's reserves have been outscored by the opponents' reserves 517-421, or about 6 points per game.
The numbers are much worse when one factors in that Davis, despite his sixth-man role, has spent more minutes with the starting unit than any other center on the team. Davis accounts for 42.3 percent of Boston's total bench scoring (166 points). That is a staggering number, especially considering his recent struggles (shooting 31.3 percent over his last six games, connecting on 20-of-64 shots).
The second unit is a victim of the Celtics injury bug. If Jermaine O'Neal and Delonte West were available, they'd both probably be coming off the bench right now… providing a legit option on the block and a steadier hand at the point.
But they're not so the Celtics have to deal. Nate Robinson has had to cover for Delonte and Rondo. In 16 games, he's asked to play 3 different roles. Now he's back to his first one. Marquis has been asked to adjust his game a bit. Semih Erden's shoulder is apparently hanging by a thread. And now Glen Davis has fallen in love with his jump shot.
Consistency goes a long way… and injuries have kept that consistency away from the second unit. But… and I know I'm pulling a Doc Rivers here… you gotta adjust and do your job. At some point, this strength the Celtics have has to show. At some point, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo are going to have to sit a few extra minutes. The C's aren't going to have much choice but to throw this second unit into the fire in a few games. We'll be sitting there saying "get KG back into the game" and Doc won't… because you can't burn these guys out now. If that's what we needed, we'd re-hire KC Jones.
Related links: Bradley's shot might be a first for Celtics' rookies
The rest of the links
Herald: For Shaq, thrift works | CSNNE: Military upbringings shaped a trio of Celtics | Celtics report card: starting strong | ESPN Boston: Snapshot: KG wants the ball | South Coast Today: KG & Shaq have found fountain of youth