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Challenging some misconceptions about the Celtics

John - Red's Army (@RedsArmy_John) October 11, 2012 Celtics News, Jeff Green 19 Comments

It’s mid-October, and a lot of people are saying and writing a lot of things about the Celtics.  Some of those things are accurate, some are not.  So I’m here right now to set the record straight on a couple of early narratives:

1:  The Celtics are not “old” 

It’s easy to call them that because Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry are all between 34-36 years old.  Those are all important players, but take a good look at the rest of the roster… Jason Collins, who’ll rarely play is 33, and Chris Wilcox is 30.  That’s all the C’s have in the 30+ range.  Everyone else is 27 or younger.  The average age of the Celtics has gone from 29 to 27.6, and that doesn’t include the guys like Dionte Christmas or Jamar Smith who may or may not make the team.

A few players on the team are old.  And yes, those are important players.  But the majority of this team is actually in its basketball prime.  Key players like Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Bass are all 26 or 27… which is athlete’s absolute physical prime.

The “old” reference is, itself, old.  It’s not as true as it used to be.

2:  They need to crash the boards more. 

This is only half-true.  The Celtics need to crash the DEFENSIVE glass more.   During the 2011 playoffs, I wrote about how the Celtics sacrifice offensive rebounds for the sake of transition defense.  It still holds true.

This, admittedly, is more of a direct response to John Hollinger blasting the C’s for their terrible offensive rebounding numbers (insider link).  But it’s also not uncommon to link the C’s offensive rebounding in with the overall shoddy rebounding numbers.

The truth of the matter is, the Celtics need to make sure they’re preventing other teams from wearing them down by grabbing more DEFENSIVE rebounds.  I went on a little mini-rant about this on Twitter yesterday… but if you didn’t see it, here’s the gist of it:

The Celtics worst moments over the past few years have almost always included their opponents crashing the offensive glass and extending possessions or scoring off misses when there should have been stops.  It started, really, in the 2010 Finals Game 7… and it extends all the way to Game 7 of the ECF last year when Miami got late offensive rebounds to put the C’s away.

The rebounding HAS to get better, but not necessarily on the offensive end.  The Celtics are a jump shooting team.  All of their bigs are facing the basket and taking 15-20 footers.  (a) that puts them in terrible rebounding position and (b) those rebounds tend to go long.  If you crash from a horrible angle and the ball goes flying over your head, then the other team is off and running on the break.

If the Celtics played more of a post up game, then I’d say they should crash the boards more because rebounds off little jump hooks and post moves are short rebounds that can be batted around and tipped in.  The risk of giving up the long rebound and being out of position is lessened.  Until then, then I see no reason for the C’s to change their approach.  Get back after long jumpers (unless you’re Rondo, maybe, and you can gamble a bit more because you’re faster and you don’t have to get all the way to the baseline) and attack a little more on post moves.

Defensive rebounding is where it’s at.  If the C’s can end more possessions after the other team’s first shot, they’ll score more, and they won’t be as worn out from playing defense beyond 24 seconds so much.

3:  Jeff Green does not suck

Green is becoming a victim of his contract.  People see his contract, they say he’s not worth it, and proceed to list every deficiency in the world that he’s had.   I’ve already explained how Danny had no choice with the contract, so I’m leaving that out of this discussion.

Again, Hollinger struck a nerve:

I can’t stress this enough: Green is 26 and played four full seasons in the league, and after all that time there’s no evidence he’s actually any good and considerable evidence that he’s a health risk. Yet he’s being paid like a second-tier star. This was, without a doubt, the worst contract of the summer.

I’m going to be nice here and simply state that you don’t average 14 points a game in the NBA and then deserve the line “there’s no evidence he’s actually any good.”  I know some Hollinger disciple just rolled his eyes at my last line, but that simple, most basic statistic, is evidence that Green is good on at least SOME level.  You can’t score in this league without being good at some level.  There’s real evidence that Green IS at least kinda good.  And after just four years, how are we going to make any determination about a player just hitting his prime?

As for the “considerable evidence that he’s a health risk,”…. where is that?  A heart problem that has healed?  Just because you don’t get to see it on an MRI and know that ligaments, tendons or muscles have repaired themselves doesn’t mean this hasn’t healed, or that he’s a risk to have it happen again.  The Celtics have gone to the best experts and they’ve told him to play basketball.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m taking the word of medical professionals over the fears of members of the media.  ”Considerable health risk” is a gross overstatement of what’s happened.

The truth about Jeff Green is he’s got work to do, but he’s been decent over his first four years.  Not great, but not terrible, and certainly better than the hyperbole people throw out there when destroying his contract.  The first two preseason games have gone well for Green, and we’ll see if that continues.  But the criticism of him has been overly harsh because people are blinded by contract numbers.

Those, my friends, are three truths about the Celtics so far.  How they impact the season is yet to be determined.  And while you may read differently elsewhere, these are the facts.

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  • Mike

    Love these points! Especially the last two. I’ve accepted the fact that the Celtics will be “old” as long as KG and The Truth remain.

    I definitely agree with the rebounding note. Defensive rebounding is where Boston should, and MUST, improve. Boston already has a first flight defense, but imagine how much more elite the stats – especially those new age ones that Hollisger lives and dies for – would look if Boston would stop giving second and third chances to opposing teams. I think it is this, improving defensive rebounding, that is what will cost Bass’ starting job. Bass is a great jump shooter and improving defender. But for all his abilities, Bass is a sub par rebounder. There were far too many times last postseason where I nearly destroyed my TV because we watched as Bass would let defensive rebounding opportunities drop to the floor.

    As far as the Jeff Green thing goes, this is a highly skilled guy whose advanced metric stats are lower because he had to play out of position for his first four years in SEA/OKC. In his stints as a 3, Green has proven to be a good-great defender. Also, Green has always been able to run the floor extremely well and can either post up or take guys off the dribble. I guarantee that if Green was on either the Heat or the Lakers, Hollinger would be gushing over his small sample size of stats playing the 3. Biased grouch!

    Go Celtics!

    • kg215

      Another way to look at it is Green has played 4 years and hasn’t shown that much. His career FG% is 44.5% which is pretty bad for a combo SF/PF. It does seem like Green will improve this year, the question is by how much. A small improvement means Green is still way overpaid, though John is right that we didn’t have an alternative. We couldn’t spend the 9 million on other players because we are over the cap, we could only sign Green to that because of bird rights.

    • Gary

      I think even the most loyal cs fans would admit that jgreen is vastly overpaid. The celtics had all the leverage in negotiations, jgreen coming off serious heart surgery and missing the entire year, pretty bad after the trade as well. So we have a player who didnt perform well after the trade, just missed a year coming off major heart surgeryand the worst part is there was no other team, NOT ONE, that made an offer to jgreen. Yet we still overpaid. Just bad business.

      However I dont agree that jgreen is a bad player. Hes just a bad player at the 4. At the 3 which is his real position and where the cs will most likley play him are much better, especially on the defensive end.

      I hope jgreen plays to his potential cuz he seems like a great kid and def has the talent, it just seems after 4 years in the league you pretty much are what you are in this league. I guess the cs are betting that jgreen at the 3 is a much better player than hes shown at the 4 thru his career. Will see if they were right.

  • Jay

    Old, huh? Aren’t teams like the Knicks, Lakers, Clippers , Heat older than the Celtics? If u average out the entire roster of the teams listed, majority of them are older than the Celtics. It’s true. It reminds of when ESPN’s Mike Breen and Van Gundy said during last season’s ECF, “there’s a constant overraction when the Celtics lose or win”.

    When the Celtics are winning they’re considered a veteran, savy, battle test team and when they’re losing they’re considered “old”.

    I agree about Jeff Green being critique unfairly. but I do believe Danny Ainge overpaid on Green’s contract. A lot of these analysis do not understand how difficult it is to avg14pts or more.

  • paul

    I love how fakey journos write crap to obscure reality. It’s true that Green doesn’t suck, but the Celtics have indeed sucked as rebounders, whatever the reasons, and yes they are old, because they core players are still old. But yeah, keep on writing bs.

    Thankfully we should improve at rebounding this season, though, and we’ll surely play younger, not because we have more younger players so much as because our younger players are better than they have been in the past few years. Our best player off the bench used to be Big Baby. Big Baby would have to fight for minutes on this team. He’s be closer to the far end of the bench than the near end.

  • vivek NJ

    very good post. i was keenly observing lot of people talking about celtics rebounding but they always managed to go all the way to ecf. their rebounds were atleast 10 less than their opponents most of the time.

  • RedsLoveChild

    Old Team : It`s not that the Celtics are old….it`s just that the two players {KG & PP} we most wish weren`t old, are old.

    Rebounding : When you`re dead last in the league in such a vital category, you absolutely must address it. The Celts have by drafting Sullinger, Mayo, signing Collins, Darko, Wilcox. We`ll see.

    Green : This is simply a case where Danny Ainge has an “out-of-control, non-sexual, man-crush” on a given player {Green}…while Ainge`s fans go to any length to try to justify it.

    Fortunately, in the case of Robert Swift, Ainge was effectively cock-blocked from acting upon that particular obsession. Not so with Green.

  • Mike

    Celtics > everybody

  • Shane

    The title of the post is “Challenging some misconceptions about the Celtics”. The 3rd listed misconception is “Jeff Green Does Not Suck”. The misconception that Jeff Green does not suck directly implies that it would not be a misconception to believe that he does suck, so what you stated above is that Jeff Green sucks. Grammar sucks, doesn’t it?

  • Jm

    Didnt Jeff green average over 15 ppg his last three years in OKC with Westbrook and Durant? There’s only so much ball to go around. If we get 15 ppg out of him I’ll take it considering we got 14 out of ray last year. How much did ray make last year?

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  • HebertofNH

    Follow John Hollinger on twitter and you’ll know pretty quickly that he dislikes the C’s. He was the one who chose the Lakers to beat us in 5 in 2008 and the Hawks/Heat to beat us in 5 and 4 respectively last year. Jeff Green is very good at Basketball, but got stuck playing for one of the worst systemic coaches in Scott Brooks and two of the biggest ballhogs in the league, KD and Westbrook.All he got in OKC is scraps and unfair defensive assignments, but is such a pro that he never ONCE complained. 15 ppg off of scraps is pretty good, and Hollinger acts like he consistently scores for the opposing team in his team’s hoops.

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  • Drew

    I need to see in writing that someone called us old(recently). I think you’re carrying over news from last season. Anyone that can do simple math and read an updated scouting report should be able to see that we are younger and mostly healthy.

    • http://redsarmy.com John

      follow the Hollinger link. I don’t have the link handy, but I know David Aldridge did recently for a preview on NBA.com

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  • OlSkool

    Guys like Hollinger and Zach Lowe can’t see the game beyond numbers and stats so I don’t hold much value in their analysis. Danny did overpay Green to continue and try to justify the Perkins trade but these two card counting geeks have been over the top in their bashing of Green.

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