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.
A large part of the Celtics’ turnaround has been the emergence of Pierce. In his past seven games, Pierce is averaging 22.9 points after averaging just 14.6 points in his first 11 games.
Pierce has improved his half-court play, averaging 19.9 points in his past seven games. Not only is he scoring more in half-court plays, but he’s been more efficient. Pierce is scoring at a rate of 0.99 points per play and shooting 49 percent from the field, all up from his first 11 games this season.
The Truth has also gone back to his specialty in the one-on-one game. Pierce has found his rhythm in isolation plays, scoring more than 5 points per play in that offense over the past seven games, including a season-high 10 isolation points in his season-high 34-point effort against the Wizards on Jan. 22.
Pierce has also assumed the ball-handling duties since Rajon Rondo has been sidelined the past eight games due to a wrist injury. The Celtics’ captain is averaging 7.7 assists in his past seven games, including recording a season-high 10 assists twice during that span.
A large part of Pierce’s increase in assists is his willingness to pass. In isolation plays in his first 11 games, Pierce passed the ball only 7.1 percent of the time. Since then, he’s passing the ball out of isolation 19.8 percent of the time to set up his teammates.
Those numbers validate what we’ve been watching for the past 8 games. Paul Pierce is orchestrating the offense effectively. He’d be even better if he would eliminate the cute turnovers (my pet peeve), but no one’s perfect.
I’m not a stat geek, but it should be noted that Pierce’s PER (21.04) is the highest in 5 years.
Imagine how bad the Celtics would be if Pierce hadn’t rounded into shape at the same time Rondo got hurt?
On Page 2, the Celtics may be mediocre, but the Knicks are awful.
Fast-forward six weeks, and you have two teams looking up at surprising Philadelphia in the division and one team, New York, out of the playoff picture altogether. No, it’s safe to say things have not gone well — or as expected — in either burg this season.
Somewhere, former Knicks GM Donnie Walsh is chuckling and saying, “I told you so!” He did not want to emasculate his roster to get Anthony, but his owner did. The Knicks are 22-27 since making the deal last season. Walsh is now out of the picture and, most likely, relieved to no longer be in the loop.
And for good reason. The Knicks entered Thursday night’s game against the Bulls with an 8-13 record. They had lost nine of 11 with the only two victories coming over the Bobcats and the Pistons, whose combined record Thursday morning was a spiffy 7-40. The game against the Celtics will be the second of a three-in-three stretch for New York, climaxing with a Saturday night meeting with the Nets.
I’ve been too preoccupied with the Celtics problems to really bask in the glow of the Knicks troubles. It’s a real sh-t show over there.
Rumors that owner James Dolan will fire Mike D’Antoni.
False hopes that Baron Davis can turn things around.
Turmoil in NY will always put a smile on my face.
The rest of the links:
Globe – Celtics feeling a bit of a pinch | Herald – In the Knick of time | ESPN Boston – Avery Bradley’s offensive role model: Andre Miller | A grand night for Grande and Max | WEEI – Ray Allen’s guide to being a Celtic | CSNNE – Blakely chooses all-star reserves | D-league possibly in Johnson’s future, but not now |