The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn’t mean we have to. Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day.
Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston – But here’s the strongest connection between Jennings and the Celtics: He was mentored by former Celtics guard Allan Ray while playing overseas last year. Colleague Chris Broussard detailed the connection in last November’s ESPN the Magazine: “After practice, Allan Ray, the former Villanova star who is in his second year with Virtus Roma, gave Jennings a pep talk. Ray got kicked out of several practices last season. ‘When you’re The Man in high school, you can do whatever you want,’ Jennings says despondently. ‘This is something new for me, especially playing for a coach who’s real controlling and doesn’t take no stuff.’”
Steve Weinman, D-League Digest – There is little reason to doubt that this sort of performance will be the norm for Walker as long as he remains in the D-League. He has NBA strength at his position. He has NBA speed, and he is explosive around the rim. All of that is exactly why Walker’s prospects for finding his way back to the NBA and staying there won’t hinge on how dominant he is as a scoring force at this level. This is about improving his game from the neck up. From his high school days at North College Hill to his time at Kansas State to last season with the Celtics, Walker has always had the physique to be a special player. Finding a way to put his tools together and harness his energy on the court has been and continues to be the biggest challenge.
Zach Lowe, Celtics Hub – It’s a small but gradual evolution: KG’s shot selection is moving both closer to the rim and further away. He’s getting more shots at the rim and within 10 feet and in the area between the foul line and the three-point arc—the area NBA experts generally consider the least “efficient” place from which to shoot. But this isn’t a bad thing. The first reason is simple: Since 2007, KG has made a slightly higher percentage of shots from 16-23 feet than from the 10-15 foot range. And that makes intuitive sense. Those 16-23 footers tend to be open shots created by dribble penetration or a pick-and-pop, while the 10-15 footers are more often created in one-on-one isolation and shot within crowds. Put another way: A shot from 10-15 feet away is (generally) the worst shot Kevin Garnett can take.
Me, Celtics Town – Watching the Boston Celtics, though, floods back all the memories of high school basketball, a time when my team wasn’t a bunch of individuals, but a close-knit group of brothers. It is easily evident on the court just how much the Celtics care about each other and want to win the game, not just for themselves, but for each other. You can see it every time Kendrick Perkins sets a screen to free somebody else to score, or Kevin Garnett sits on the sidelines during a blowout and screams like the world is ending. You can see it when Rajon Rondo takes fewer than five shots in an entire game, more than willing just to set his teammates up, or when Paul Pierce defers to his teammates for large parts of the game, happy to ride out somebody else’s hot hand. You can see it when the Celtics go on a run, and the entire bench is standing up and cheering, even if NBA rules no longer allow that. You can see it when Shelden Williams, fresh after catching his first DNP-CD of the season, remarks on Twitter not about being hurt by not playing in the game, but about how big a win it was to beat the Spurs. You can see it in every defensive rotation, every dive to the floor after a loose ball, every extra pass to a more open teammate; the Boston Celtics play the game the right way, a selfless way, a way that inspires teamwork, friendship and camaraderie. A way that not only brings wins, but happiness.
Bob Ryan, Boston Globe – Young Mr. Jennings should make sure he extends a pregame fist to a certain No. 5 of the Celtics, because thanks to the Garnett Effect, he was able to pocket $3.65 million before reaching his 20th birthday. Kevin Garnett was the human toothpaste who oozed out of the tube back in 1995, demanding the NBA take him directly from Chicago’s Farragut Academy rather than from an institution of higher learning. No player had tried to come to the NBA directly from high school since Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins, and Bill Willoughby had done it in 1974 and 1975. Their mixed success (Malone was an all-time great, Dawkins, a.k.a. “Chocolate Thunder’’ was a gigantic tease, and Willoughby was a talented, misused failure) somehow doomed the experiment, and the NBA floated along serenely doing its business with a mixed bag of collegians until Garnett changed everything by submitting his name to the draft.