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Taking Stock: The Celtics first half

Chuck - Red's Army February 18, 2013 Celtics News, Taking Stock 10 Comments

The All-Star break is the perfect time to reflect on the first half of the 2012-13 season. The Celtics are 28-24; 7th in the East and 3rd in the Atlantic Division.

It’s obvious the season hasn’t panned out like many of us expected. Hell, I predicted 58 wins, a #2 playoff seed, victory over the Heat in the ECF, and victory over the Spurs in the Finals. But, like the zombie analogy we created in the preseason, this team won’t quit. Not even after season-ending injuries to one star and two role players. What will the 2nd half bring? I’m not smart enough to think I can project this team’s fate. Let’s see what happens with the roster over the next few days before we mail-in the season or punch our ticket to the ECF.

Here’s a recap of each player’s individual performance, a first half grade and speculation on how the player will trend in the 2nd half. Don’t interpret a yellow arrow as negative. It represents the player maintaining his current level of play.

 

 

The 36-year-old Garnett has started all 52 games for the Celtics. His numbers are ridiculously steady; 15.1 ppg, 50% FG and 7.7 rpg. When the team was hit with a rash of injuries, his numbers increased (February – 16.6 ppg, 50% FG, 10.3 rpg). He remains the defensive anchor and unquestioned leader of this team. It would be absurd to ask more of this man.

Grade: A

2nd half speculation:   

It’s been 10 years since Paul Pierce has shot the ball so poorly (41.5%). But his assists (4.4 apg) and rebounds (6.4 rpg) are higher than his career average. It’s obvious that Pierce has lost a lot of mobility and lift, but the guy continues to fight and “give the game what it needs.” Despite suffering a pinched nerve in his neck two months ago, Pierce hasn’t missed a game.

Grade: C+

2nd half speculation:  

Before the season ending ACL injury, Rajon Rondo was averaging a career best 13.7 ppg, 12.2 shots per game, and 5.6 rpg. His shooting and FT percentages are both above career averages. Oh, and he was the league leader in assists. Despite the positive statistics, Rondo remains an enigma on the court. We just don’t know what type of effort he’ll deliver on a nightly basis. If he wants to be considered an elite player, he needs to be more consistent and mature. His defense has slipped dramatically.

Grade: B-

2nd half speculation: n/a

It’s no secret Brandon Bass has struggled mightily. His minutes, scoring, FG% and rebounding (standard and advanced metrics) have all dipped. While the emergence of Jared Sullinger cut into his time, Bass’ role has remained the same – shoot the open 17 footer when the ball finds you. On the bright side, Bass’ numbers in February have increased.

Grade: C-

2nd half speculation:  

Avery Bradley missed the first 30 games due to the double-shoulder surgery. While his on the ball defense is top notch and game-changing, at times, his shooting has dipped significantly from last season (49% – 39%). I’m willing to cut him some slack due to all the time missed because of injury.

Grade: B-

2nd half speculation:

If one player embodies the team’s inconsistent play over the past 2-3 months, it’s Jeff Green. His nadir may have been the Jan. 18 game vs Chicago: 19 min, 2 points, 0 reb, 0 asst, 0 blocks. On the flip side, we’ve seen him effectively guard LeBron James (1/27 vs MIA 4th quarter) and hit big shots (game-tying OT jumper vs Den). Kevin Garnett’s Bruce Banner analogy is perfect. Fortunately, we’ve seen more Hulk and less Banner in February (14.4 ppg, 51% FG, 4 rpg).

Grade: C

2nd half speculation:  

What a rollercoaster first half for JET. Look at his shooting percentages by month:

Nov – 52% FG, 43% 3 FG
Dec – 37% FG, 34% 3 FG
Jan – 41% FG, 30% 3 FG
Feb – 52% FG, 43% 3 FG.

As John so deftly uncovered, there’s no secret to success for Terry. He’s getting the same shots, sometimes he makes them and sometimes he doesn’t.

Grade: C-

2nd half speculation:   

Courtney Lee has lost his 3-point shot. His 33% 3 FG is 7 points below his average for the past two seasons and 5 points below his career mark. Shooting woes aside, Lee has delivered his trademark defense and I’m excited to watch him play extended time alongside Avery Bradley.

Grade: C

2nd half speculation:   

This kid was emerging as a legitimate offensive and defensive rebounder over the last two months. The high point came in mid-January with back-to-back double-doubles against Phoenix and Houston. I love his game and work ethic. If the medical prognosis is correct, and the surgery likely alleviated future back issues, then Jared Sullinger has a promising future with the Celtics.

Grade: B+

2nd half speculation: n/a

Leandro Barbosa was a can of instant offense for the Celtics. What really impressed me (aside from those ridiculous flip shots) was his dedication to defense. Avery Bradley he’s not, but you could see the effort. The season-ending knee injury came when Barbosa was just starting to find his groove.

Grade: B-

2nd half speculation: n/a

Tough to fault a guy who is shooting 69% FG, but I expected more from Chris Wilcox. He’s yet another poster child for the team’s inconsistent play. He’s still an injury risk, see the 19 games missed with a thumb sprain.

Grade: C-

2nd half speculation:   

Collins has done exactly what the Celtics brought him here to do; defend the post, foul and set picks. The high point came Dec 19 when Doc Rivers inserted Collins into the starting line-up and deemed his 1 point, 2 reb performance “amazing.”  Here’s a random stat – Collins is shooting 71% FT, a full 7 points higher than his career average. Go figure.

Grade: B

2nd half speculation:   

Some might blame Doc Rivers for the team’s mediocre 1st half, but I won’t. He had to find roles for 5  new players and 2 guys returning from major surgery. Then he was hit with major injury after major injury.  In Doc, I trust.

Grade: B

2nd half speculation:  

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  • Curt

    Nice analysis, but I disagree with the Doc Rivers part. I don’t see him improving. His rotations have been atrocious for too long. He has even few players to rotate now.

    I suppose the increase you gave him could be valid simply because he will have less to work with and get the same thing accomplished…but whatever the Celtics accomplish will really be because of Kevin Garnett.

    • Nate

      The Green+Pierce combo is doing well

  • NateB

    I don’t see how you can give KG an A and Pierce a C+; yes, KG has been better and far more consistent, but when the team has played well for extended stretches, Pierce has been the biggest reason. Pierce should get a B and KG an A-.

    • kg215

      KG’s defense is always there, and his offense though not explosive has been way more reliable than Pierce. Pierce’s shot has been off big time, and Pierce’s primary role is a scorer. The grades are accurate. I’m hoping for the captain’s %s to rise back up in the 2nd half.

  • Pocketfulla Eoin

    Jeff Green with a C? What are you, drunk? His bench production this 2nd half of the season til the allstar break has not only been aesthetically pleasing but productive…I would agree that I foresee a BIG rest of season for the best athlete on this team.

    • SF Celts Fan

      Second half of the season?! That starts tomorrow. Jeff Green has been horrible for most of the season. Its only been recently that he’s shown some life. I really hope his play improves, but so far I’m not impressed.

      • SF Celts Fan

        He’s thrown down a few dunks and some corner threes, but generally when the ball in his hands he doesn’t seem confident out there.

        • Pocketfulla Eoin

          i’d like to see you play as well as green

    • kg215

      Productive but not off the charts, not amazing, not beyond expectations, etc. He still doesn’t rebound and can disappear offensively. Don’t get me wrong he is playing much better than earlier in the season (especially some of his on ball defense), but he did not start off playing well.

  • Reggie35RIP

    I reckon Terry and Lee will improve in the 2nd half.