“Yeah, we talked about it,” said Doc Rivers after Wednesday night’s win over New Jersey. “We knew we had a ton of injuries and we were playing guys strange minutes [last year], but one of the things we still expected through all that was to win the home games. And we didn’t do that. So obviously this year has been much better."
“Much better” is an understatement. With Wednesday’s win, the Celtics improved to 25-5 at the Garden, already surpassing last year’s total. The 25 homes wins tie them with San Antonio for the most in the NBA, and leaves the C’s at the All-Star break, well on their way to reaffirming themselves as the league’s pre-eminent home team.
“Since I’ve been here, home court has always been the emphasis,” said Kevin Garnett, who registered his double-double (14 points, 10 boards) of the season. “It’s always primary. The form which we did in ’08 is the form we follow to this day, and home court is a big part of that.”
The Celtics have more wins at home than 11 NBA teams have overall. They go into the break percentage points ahead of Miami for best in the East and second best in the league.
There's always something about playing at home. From waking up in your own bed, making your own breakfast and driving your own car to the arena (or if you're Ray Allen, doing all this) to playing in front of an adoring crowd of about 19,000 people… there's an obvious advantage to playing in your own gym. Teams need to know that when they walk into your gym, theyr'e going to have to be damn near perfect to beat you.
Last year, the Celtics didn't really have that. By the end of the regular season, fans were just waiting for the inevitable collapses. And when they came time and time again… we were not happy. So it's good to see them defending their home court a little better this year. I'm still not thrilled with losses to the Durant-less Thunder or the Rockets… but all things considered, they're doing pretty well at home this year.
In all honesty, I'm most happy for the fans and season-ticket holders who bust their asses to pay a ton for seats. They didn't get a great product last year, so this is a little bit of redemption.
On Page 2: Start the trade rumor mill
Sources say the Bulls and Celtics are widely expected to make a move before the deadline, and each is seeking wing help. The Cavs' Anthony Parker would be an ideal fit in both places. Wizards guard Kirk Hinrich would be a good fit, too, but his $8 million salary next season would make such a transaction troublesome.
I'm not sure everyone realizes how difficult making a move will be. I'm sure Danny has a trick or two up his sleeve, but it's not going to be easy at all. Here's why:
1: The C's roster is full. They have 15 guys on the roster, the NBA maximum. Even injured guys like Marquis count… and so does Avery Bradley even when he's playing in the D-League. So The C's can't just sign a guy…. they're going to have to get rid of one first. Also, they can't accept two players for one in a deal, because that gives them too many players. So anything you suggest has to ultimately have an equal amount of players coming and going…. or more leaving that coming in.
2: Salaries in a trade have to match. The C's are over the cap, so they can't just send Luke Harangody ($437,000 salary) to Detroit for Rip Hamilton ($12.4 million).
So if the C's REALLY are going to make a move, they're going to have some problems because most guys they would trade away don't make enough to get anyone decent in return. If Anthony Parker is the target, The C's would have to send out a player that matches his $2.8 million salary. Theoretically, the C's could send Marquis Daniels to Cleveland in a trade if Cleveland was just looking to buy someone out. He falls within the proper salary range. And if the C's are actually bringing in a swing man, it's because Marquis may not come back anyway. So the C's send Quis and cash (to soften the buyout blow… or pay for it completely) to Cleveland for Parker. Cleveland saves money, the C's get a healthy player.
But that's all dependent on IF the Cavs were going to buy Parker out anyway. Actually, there are a million "Ifs" in there and I'm still not sold on that scenario making sense.
You could also match Big Baby's salary to Parker's, but that's where the C's get into the really difficult part of this… because we're not trading Glen Davis. We could try to trade Nate Robinson, but he makes $4.2 million and now we've got to start adding and/or cutting players.
Bottom line: this ain't gonna be easy.
One other note: Not everyone on the Maine Red Claws is Celtics property. The Charlotte Bobcats are also affilitated with the Red Claws, so they can send players there too. Also, the Bobcats are free to sign and trade non-affiliated players like an NBA team would. So they can't send Avery Bradley down and call up DeShawn Sims. He's like any other free agent out there. We'd have to cut someone to sign him.
The rest of the links
CSNNE: Allen's keys to winning the 3point shootout | Pierce feeling better with 31 vs. Nets | C's cut down Nets in 4th quarter | WEEI: Sasha Vujacic: Celtics "trying to act up" | Fast break: Pierce, C's take down Nets | Herald: Celtics break out a win | Bill Russell is monumental | Pierce aiming for shootout repeat | Pierce back to old self | Allen keeps his long distance connection with Bucks | Globe: Pierce ignites Celtics | Stops were a positive sign | West's return delayed | Rondo isn't taking All Star spot for granted | MWDN: C's stars ready to go