Leftover thoughts from Celtics-Cavaliers, starring Anderson Varejao’s 20-20 night and Boston’s young point guard growth
♣ How in the world did Anderson Varejao have 20 points and 20 rebounds? Because he was a tornado while the Celtics were a calm, 70-degree day. You’d rather have the calm day weather-wise, but damn it, tornadoes do a hell of a lot more damage. Varejao sank Cleveland’s first three buckets, and they were all exact replicas of this:
Jermaine O’Neal, after the game: “I’m probably the reason (Anderson) Varejao got hot. I gave him a couple of uncontested shots.” Attaboy, Jermaine!
And the 10 offensive rebounds? Several of them were very reminiscent of this:
Brandon Bass begins to make a box out motion, but thinks better of it. Paul Pierce starts to grab the rebound, but decides he doesn’t want to break a nail. And Varejao swoops in for the kill.
Doc Rivers says it all the time: energy is a skill. Anderson Varejao pounded 12 Five-Hour Energies prior to the game, while each Celtic downed a pound of molasses and 40 Chicken McNuggets.
The result was that Varejao had 20 rebounds compared to 15 for the Boston starters combined. In the second half, according to Paul Flannery, Varejao grabbed 13 boards and THE ENTIRE CELTICS TEAM had 10.
♣ Excuse my capital letter binge and potential hyperbole, but KYRIE IRVING IS ONE HELL OF A POINT GOD, a rare talent who seems to disprove those who believe in nurture over nature. Lebron James was granted the athleticism and strength of a Syberian tiger. Shaquille O’Neal was born with the size of the Washington Monument. And Irving, like Chris Paul, just seems to have an innate sense of pace, as if he reads bedtime stories to his defender and then bursts by as soon as he sees the eyelids start to close. You can try teaching what Irving knows, but it’s a gift. Avery Bradley could spend the next 10 years locked in a gym doing drills with John Stockton, and he would never grasp the intricacies of the point guard position that Irving — just a 19-year old rookie — seems to have been born with.
P.S. — Irving is born in 1992. I feel really old.
♣ During last night’s game, Marquis Daniels received a DNP-CD. His minutes went to Sasha Pavlovic, who actually played okay in a short stint, shooting 2-2 en route to notching four points and one rebound in six minutes. I’m not sure what’s going on there. I know Daniels hasn’t been playing great, and I know he’s missed a lot of easy shots this year. But losing minutes to Pavlovic? That shit cray.
♣ Rajon Rondo went down seven games ago and the Celtics promptly lost to the Phoenix Suns, scoring just 71 points against a Phoenix defense that couldn’t stop a running faucet, never mind a legitimate NBA offense. Since then, the Celtics are improbably 5-1 without their star point guard, with quality wins against the Orlando Magic (twice) and Indiana Pacers. Why? Partially because Paul Pierce hit his stride. Partially because the Celtics are beginning to work into shape. Partially because Jermaine O’Neal got injured too. (Note: I’m just kidding, I think.) And partially because Rondo’s replacements, Avery Bradley and E’Twaun Moore, haven’t been half bad.
At the beginning of the season, we guessed that Boston without Rondo was the equivalent of Castaway without Tom Hanks — imagine if that movie had just been two hours of Wilson chilling on a deserted island, extrapolate that onto an NBA court, and that’s what we thought Boston’s chances were with Avery Bradley as a starting point guard. But Bradley’s playing okay, and even better, he’s beginning to develop. He wasn’t hitting jumpers, so he started to manufacture buckets on sharp cuts to the basket. He often got his shot blocked at the rim, so he’s become more selective with his drives. And he’s turning the ball over very infrequently.
He had one turnover in 37 minutes against Cleveland last night, three in his last three games combined, and just eight total in the five games since registering six turnovers against the Washington Wizards. I understand Bradley’s low turnover rate is partially due to the fact that he actually creates very little offense. But he’s also improved his decision-making and cut out unnecessary mistakes.
Moore, meanwhile, is developing into the mature (if not incredibly explosive) offensive threat Danny Ainge envisioned when he drafted the Purdue product with the No. 55 pick. Allow me to turn this over to Paul Flannery. (WEEI)
Over the last four games, Moore has made 11-of-18 shots and gone 5-for-10 from 3-point range. Moore has been steady, if unspectacular, at the point with 10 assists and eight turnovers and has quickly gained the trust of the coaching staff, as well as his teammates.
The tandem isn’t perfect. But they haven’t hurt Boston nearly as much as I thought they would, and Rondo’s absence has allowed them to settle into their roles and gain some valuable experience.
Until next time, folks.