Posts Tagged ‘ray allen

22
Aug
07

The Celtics and Team USA

Today in Chris Sheridan’s column he pointed out that Team USA may have some trouble successfully blending the playing styles of Kobe, LeBron and Carmelo:

The uninformed might wonder: "How could they possibly lose with those
three playing together? To which the informed might reply: "Hey, that's
three guys on the court at the same time who, no matter how good they
are, all need the ball in their hands to be effective. It'll be tough
to make that work."

When you read Team USA’s dilemma, what current NBA roster does it remind you of? I know there’s some team that now has three superstars who have throughout their careers always had possession of the ball more than anybody else on their team. Now, suddenly those three players, – just like Kobe, LeBron and Carmelo – are being thrust onto the same team and everyone is as sure that they’ll easily win the Eastern Conference as they were Kobe, LeBron and Carmelo would easily handle the Select Team.

The difference between the Team USA trio and the Celtics trio is that the Celtics will have an entire season to work out the kinks while Team USA will have 10 games. So let’s say that the Celtics do work out the kinks. Paul Pierce becomes the dominant ball handler. When KG gets good position he’ll get the ball in the post and hold it until he shoots or is double teamed. If he’s double teamed he’ll kick it out to the three point line for Ray Allen. Sounds like a great system, right? It is, BUT it will be a vast waste of Ray Allen’s talents if things work out this way. He will be paid like the superstar he is, while playing the game that Jason Kapono plays. Think he’ll get tired of that at some point?

The other possibility is that they never can adapt to not having the entire offense run through them thus never develop a good chemistry. Either way it doesn’t matter because no chemistry means an 8 seed even in the East and good chemistry means a second round playoff series loss because they don’t have a bench. I don’t mean to hate on the Celtics, but Sheridan’s analysis of the Big 3 on Team USA perfectly illustrates my previous arguments about the Celtics and there’s really not a lot of NBA news to write about right now.

Oh well, at least Team USA has a bench.

31
Jul
07

Kevin Garnett and the Bulls

Now that everything is official and real let’s look at this situation from the Bulls perspective.

Right now Skiles and Paxson should be thinking that they’re team certainly isn’t in a better situation than it was last week, but there’s nothing to worry about.  The Bulls match up well against this new Celtics team.  Ben Wallace, Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas will provide a nice Garnett stopping team, especially since none of them will need to cover Kendrick Perkins.  Luol Deng’s defense came a long way last year and he should be able to match up well against Pierce.  As long as BG7 can carry the scoring load on nights they play Boston (Ray Allen isn’t known for his defense) Hinrich can focus on covering Allen.  They’ll have Thabo coming off the bench as a defensive stopper with length to shut down Pierce, as he’s done to Kobe, and Allen, as he’s done to D.Wade.  Rajon Rondo’s game even should be limited enough – at least for this coming season – that Ben Gordon will actually be able to cover him. 

This is where the Celtics weakness will show.  They will have 2 of the three best players on the court almost every night and they’ll likely have 3 of the top 5 every night.  Their problem is they’ll also have the two worst players on the floor on their team at all times.  They’ll also have 8 of the twelve worst active players on game night on their roster nearly every night. 

The Bulls on the other hand, as I’ve pointed out here, have one of the deepest teams in the NBA.  Garnett is an intimidating defensive presence down low.  Problem for the Celtics is that the Bulls don’t go down low very often and if they do it’s with a flying Tyrus.  Not even Garnett’s going to stop that once it’s off the ground.  Beyond KG the Celtics will be a weak defensive team and the Bulls will simply have too many weapons for them to cover, even if they don’t have any 27 ppg scorers, former MVP’s or 3-point champions (yet, Gordon will wear this crown someday).

31
Jul
07

Team to beat in the East? It’s just hype.

Again, once the Garnett trade happens the Celtics will be a successful regular season team and probably win one or two playoff series.  They HAVE NOT, however, become “the team to beat” or favorites in the East.  Yes, the trade is exciting.  Superstars don’t change teams everyday.  But people need to calm down and look at this situation realistically.  Everywhere I look I’m reading that if LeBron could take the Cavs to the finals last season with no supporting cast then this Celtics team will go undefeated in Eastern Conference competition.  There are so many flaws with that logic I don’t know where to start.  LeBron last season was a more dominant player than any of the three players who will be on the Celtics were last season or will be this season.  Also, LeBron didn’t have much of a supporting cast but he had a hell of a lot more than the Celtics will have beyond Pierce/Allen/Garnett.  LeBron had Zydrunas Ilgauskas while the Celtics will have Kendrick Perkins.  LeBron had Donyell Marshal, Anderson Varejao, Daniel Gibson and Damon Jones coming off the bench.  Now these guys aren’t going to win any sixth man of the year awards but the Celtics will have . . .oh yeah, they won’t have a bench left after this trade.  Under contract the Celtics will have Brian Scalabrine, Tony Allen (coming off of knee surgery), Leon Powe and Brandon Wallace.  Cleveland’s supporting cast sounds pretty good now, huh?


Now that the deal is done Brian Scalabrine
is poised for greatness in his new role as
the Celtics 6th man

The other problem with the logic if LeBron could do it with that Cavs team then the Celtics will reign supreme is that people are forgetting that the Cavs path to the finals was only so easy because of luck.  First they faced the Wizards without Arenas who was at least as valuable to his team as LeBron was to the Cavs.  Then they faced a Nets team that didn’t really care.  Once Vince Carter beat his old team in Toronto he accomplished all he cared to.  Why put off the summer any longer.   Finally they faced one good team in the Pistons.  However, the aging and arrogant/apathetic Detroit team was worn down from from an energetic Bulls team and believed they were so good they didn’t have to try in order to win the series.  Overall the Cavs only had to play one out of the 5 best teams in the East on their way to the finals.  That will not be the case for the Celtics in the ’08 playoffs.  The team to beat in the East will probably still be the Pistons but it’s a Conference that’s very much up in the air.  I don’t believe the Pistons will win the East nor do I believe the Celtics will. 

There are too many talented young teams in the East for old teams like those two to make it to the Finals.  Even a team like the Magic, if it somehow reached the the conf. finals, could take that Celtics team. Howard would negate KG, Lewis would match Pierce and Redick or some other one dimensional shooter would match Allen.  Ray Allen is a great player, but with the talents that Garnett and Pierce bring Allen is not going to have more of a role than a spot up shooter.  With each team’s big 3 doing the same things the thirty-somethings would simply tire out before the twenty-somethings.  Not to mention the Magic would have a good coach in VanGundy while Boston is putting up with Doc. 

The new look Celtics are very exciting but lets see them in action before crowning them Eastern Conference Champions.   

31
Jul
07

Who wins with a “big 3”?

After reading this insanely positive article by SI’s Ian Thomsen I have ask, when was the last time you can remember a team winning their conference or the championship with a “big 3” and nothing else around them?

I remember the Wolves had a big 3 with Garnett, Sprewell and Cassell but they lost in Western Conf. finals to a deeper Lakers team.  I remember when the Mavs had a big 3 of Nowitzki, Finley and Nash but they lost twice in the Western Conf. semis and once in the Conf. finals.  The Nets had a big 3 last season with Carter, Kidd and Jefferson but they lost in the Eastern Conf. semis.

Garnett, Pierce and Allen have more combined talent than Garnett’s last big 3 and certainly more than New Jersey’s.  They’ll also be playing in the Eastern Conf. which, although improving, is not as strong as the Western Conf. that those Mavs teams lost in.  Nevertheless, it’s a team game and short of having Michael Jordan on the court it takes a team to win a championship.  This will not be a team.  These three superstars will most likely fit well together.  However, after a season of playing 44 minutes per game because they have absolutely nobody on the bench to help will these three guys – all of whom are over 30 – have enough left to carry this team to a championship?  When young, deep teams like the Bulls and Raptors are pushing the tempo on them in a 7-game series are they going to look like the Heat did in last season’s playoffs, old and slow?

I expect this team to win 50 or so games in the regular season and be extremely fun to watch but they’re not going to win any championships.    

UPDATE:  ESPN’s John Hollinger made a similar point about a big 3 not being enough.  He noted last season’s Wizards as another team with a big 3 who didn’t go all the way.  I’d say they’re more of a big 1 and medium 2 but you get the point. 

30
Jul
07

Garnett to Boston makes sense but . . .


Just give Joakim Noah a couple of years in
the NBA and he’ll look pretty like this too. 

Things are still slow out there in the world of NBA news.  At least there’s a new rumor today that doesn’t have anything to do with Tim Donaghy.  Kevin Garnett might be traded to the Celtics!!!  Essentially it’s the same trade that was on the verge of happening prior to the draft but with a couple more players thrown in to replace the pick. 

The details vary based on the report but Minny would definitely be getting Ratliff’s expiring contract and Al Jefferson.  Beyond that, reports are all over the board.  The Boston Globe’s reports seem very optimistic for the Celtics.  One even has Al Jefferson not included in the deal, being replaced by a #1 pick.  Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Rajon Rondo and Gerald Green are the other names floating around. 

Basically the deal is all of the Celtics young talent and maybe a future #1 pick or two for Kevin Garnett.  It’s a high price for the Celtics to pay.  Garnett is one of the premier players in the game and with someone to carry the scoring load he’d be even more valuable.  As sad as it will be for Minnesota fans to see a loyal, hard-working fan favorite go, this is an opportunity that Kevin McHale has to jump at. 

If McHale can get back 3-4 quality young players, an expiring contract and maybe a pick or two he will have gone a long ways (well, maybe just a ways) towards making up for all the terrible, terrible general managing he’s done in Minneapolis.  Sure, nobody wants to lose KG but McHale has put the team in such a bad spot that he could never surround him with half of what the Wolves will have if they make this trade. 

The situation is a bit more complicated for Boston.  They’d be giving up every asset they have for the future (beyond the next 2 years) and possibly any ability to rebuild if draft picks are included.  If they make this trade they are taking a one year shot at an NBA title.  The team they’d have will only be worse in ’08-’09 than they will be in ’07-’08 and they’d continue to decline from that point while other strong young teams in the East (Bulls) improve.  Because of the bleak future beyond the next season or maybe two it seems like it would be a bad idea for the Celtics to make this trade.  However, Danny Ainge already jumped on board the bad idea bus when he traded for Ray Allen and as long as he’s already stuck he may as well take KG along for the ride. 

Ainge gave up on building a team around the wealth of young talent he had when he traded the #5 pick and Delonte West for Ray Allen.  Ainge had been trying to keep veteran Paul Pierce around while slowly building a young contending team.  Pierce finally had enough of it and made his feelings known this past season.  At that point Ainge should have traded Pierce and continued with his youth movement.  Instead he decided to make the team older and picked up Allen.  

Once he made the Ray Allen trade there was no turning back.  He had to try and win it all with Pierce and Allen in the next year or two.  He probably figured because of his poor track record he’d be fired before his young team came around anyway.  Once you know you’re on the edge of losing your job why think about the future?  Therefore if Ainge gives up everything on his team that will have any significant value in 5 years he’ll have a one year window and a decent shot to win the Eastern Conference.  There’s no turning back, he needs to make this trade desperately.  The team as it currently stands won’t beat the East’s best.  The price he faces for Garnett is high – especially if they don’t work out a contract extension prior to completing a trade – but it’s Ainge’s last and only shot at success. 

 As we’ve said, McHale has to make this trade.  However, letting Garnett slip away from Timberwolves fans will go down as his biggest failure.  Garnett is the ultimate team player and the wounds this trade would leave on Wolves fans can not and should not heal quickly.  What we want to know is, if Ray Allen was available prior to the draft why didn’t McHale go after him?  Sure, his pick was two lower than Boston’s (#7 vs. #5), but he could have sweetened the deal with other pieces.  Allen and Garnett would have been a better duo than Sprewell and Garnett ever were.  Most importantly Minnesota could keep Garnett while giving him some help.  Ultimately rebuilding with what youth they have combined with what they get from Boston will probably be best for the Wolves.  Nevertheless, you have to believe that there was something that could have been done to keep KG in Sota with his faithful.

With the trade Minnesota will join Portland and Seattle as teams in the West that are extremely young but have very bright futures.  Those three teams should be able to peak right around the time the current powers in the West start to go downhill. 

 Assuming Boston is able to hold on to a halfway decent point guard they should be a very fun team to watch as well.  Allen, Pierce, Garnett at the 2, 3, 4/5 will be hard to stop.  They’ll need to jell soon however because the East is getting better.  See any other entry on this blog for the current improving state of the Bulls.  The composition of the Knicks is flawed but they’ll have enough firepower to cost some good teams regular season wins this year.  Atlanta may finally have enough pieces to make something out of their tremendous depth of talent.  The Pistons look to have one more good year in them.  We have to assume the LeBron will only be better this year than he was when he single-handedly carried the Cavs to the Finals last year.  Orlando might be better than last season, with an improved Dwight Howard and added help from Lewis.  The Wizards remain intact and if Arenas can fully recover from his injury they should regain the strong form they showed the first half of last season.  Toronto is bound to be a top tier team for the next several years along with the Bulls.  The Heat and Nets are on their way down, but other than those two the East is getting stronger.   The Celtics better win now if Ainge’s master plan has any chance.

The Kevin Garnett trade probably will happen because it makes sense and will help two teams in desperate situations.  With Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge running the show, however, you never know if the move that makes sense is the move that will happen.




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