I was reading Henry Abbott’s post on TrueHoop about Basketball Reference’s findings that improving a team’s defense is more important to winning a title than improving the same offense. Like Abbott, I started to ask myself why. Shouldn’t adding four points to your own score be worth the same as taking four points away from the other team? Doesn’t that only make sense? But it’s not, and statistics prove it. As Sheed might scream like a wild man, numbers don’t lie.
Posts tagged: Wally Szczerbiak
Count Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman as one person who considers the Boston Celtics to be major underdogs against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He compares 2008 to this season.
“It’s a whole different ballgame,” Celtics forward Glen Davis said of this year’s matchup.
That Cleveland team was comprised of LeBron and a bunch of spare parts.
There was Ben Wallace, in the twilight of his career, starting up front alongside Zydrunas Ilgauskas – who could barely move and rarely gets his worn-down 7-foot frame off the bench these days.
Delonte West has also been relegated to a reserve role, and the final starter, Wally Szczerbiak, is now retired and doing television work.
Now, James has plenty of help.
Shaquille O’Neal isn’t in his prime, but he’s still a major upgrade over Ilgauskas. The Cavs dealt for guard Mo Williams before 2008, and he was an instant All-Star with James by his side. Anthony Parker has been a valuable piece, and the Cavs established themselves as arguably the favorites to win the title when Danny Ferry added Antawn Jamison on Feb. 17 for what amounted to a late first-round pick.
The Celtics aren’t the same, either.
Garnett was a machine just 24 months ago, a 31-year-old relentless and athletic freak who was a virtual lock to put up 20 and 10 during the playoffs.
Now, he’s just another player after battling knee injuries that forced him to watch the entire postseason a year ago and also had him miss a significant portion of the 2009-10 regular season.
Allen was money.
Now, he’s a soon-to-be 35-year-old whose shot is as unpredictable as the New England weather.
Pierce was capable of exploding for 40 on any given night.
Now, he’s more likely to be held to single digits.
Sure, there have been significant improvements in Rajon Rondo’s game, but this is a mismatch.
My first reaction: Wait, Wally Szczerbiak is doing television work? For what station?
My second reaction: Ray Allen’s shot is far from “as unpredictable as the New England weather.” Actually, since the All-Star break Ray’s been on the money. He’s one of the game’s best shooters. If you recall, Goodman, Ray had one of the worst stretch of games of his life against Cleveland in that series two seasons ago. The chances of him being that bad this time around are as slim as Calista Flockhart. He averaged 9.3 points per game, and shot 16.7% from three-point distance. So let’s not pretend he’ll be worse this series, especially after he just spent five games throwing darts against Miami.
My third reaction: Other than the Ray Allen discrepancy, Goodman is just about right. The Celtics are underdogs, and should be.
But they aren’t toast, and one of the reasons Celtics fans can be a little confident is that Lebron has never won a championship. Until the Cavaliers win something, they still haven’t won anything.
What do you guys think?
I’ve spent a long time on Twitter debating the great Dan Shaughnessy’s latest article for Sports Illustrated. Shaughnessy writes that the Boston Celtics will beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round, backing up his opinion with a few reasons. (Down below, Sports Illustrated emails the controversial piece to at least one Cleveland sports blog.)
The Celtics have the same starting five as the championship team of 2008.
Very true, Dan. Also valid is that Rajon Rondo is better, to make up for the declining Big Three. Unfortunately, Cleveland DOESN’T have the same starting five. The Cavs no longer have Wally Szczerbiak or Ben Wallace in their starting lineup; in the NBA, subbing those two guys for Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamison is known as “a very good thing.” On top of that Shaq, as old as he is, gives them the added dimension of a go-to low-post player and still commands a double-team. And Anderson Varejao is approximately 2,742 times better than he was in 2008.
“No back-to-back games and plenty of down time — helps the old bones of Boston.”
Again, true. Boston is peaking at the right time, and part of that is the downtime of the playoff schedule. Of course, Cleveland doesn’t mind the rest, either. Shaq-tis’ old bones will be just as revitalized by rest as the Big Three’s. Still, the downtime helps the Celtics more than Cleveland because their stars are aging, while Cleveland’s star is a 25-year old combination of an airplane and a Mack Truck.
“But the Celtics know they can beat LeBron. And they know they can win in Cleveland (see Oct. 27, 2009).”
This was my favorite point of Shaughnessy’s. The Celtics have done it before, and they’ve done it as a unit. As accomplished as Lebron James is and as dominant in the regular season as the Cavs have been, they’ve never won when the lights shine brightest. “Deep down,” Shaughnessy wrote, “the Cavaliers know the Celtics can beat them.” I’m not sure how true that is, but I DO KNOW that the Cavs have never won a championship. King James has already been crowned, but never earned his throne. That’s not to say he won’t this year, but the Celtics have come through when it counts and the Cavs haven’t. That much is true.
“The Celtics have added veteran snipers Michael Finley and Rasheed Wallace. As much as it hurts to say this, the mercurial ‘Sheed might be the difference against the Cavs.”
First off, I’m not sure how Rasheed Wallace qualifies as a “sniper.” That’s like saying Shaq is “a pure shooter.” Secondly, Sheed won’t be the difference against the Cavs any more than he has been against the Heat. Third of all, the best Shaughnessy does to back up his prediction of Sheed being the difference is, “We haven’t seen much of ‘Sheed during the Miami series, but the Heat have been so bad, it’s hard to notice any Celtics’ shortcomings. Maybe ‘Sheed will finally shine at the Q.” Look, I’m fine with him saying Sheed will make a difference against Cleveland, so long as he backs it up.
Shaughnessy did nothing to back it up. Literally nothing. John from Red’s Army agrees that Sheed will play a bigger role in the potential Cleveland series, and backs it up by saying Shaq and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are immobile enough to overshadow Sheed’s own immobility. I can see his point; it’s weird, but Sheed will actually be more athletic than the Cleveland frontcourt. I disagree that Sheed will make a difference, but at least John has a reason.That’s more than Shaughnessy gave us.
I don’t think Sheed will give the Celtics anything against Cleveland. Doc Rivers has lost all faith in him. Sheed can’t hit the broad side of a barn, and can’t slide his feet for the life of him. If Doc Rivers doesn’t have the confidence to play Sheed against Jermaine O’Neal and Joel Anthony, do you think he’ll have the confidence to play him against the Cavs? No chance. Not unless Sheed gets hot one game. Unfortunately for Sheed and the Celtics, he has about as much chance of getting hot as I do winning the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. (Okay, maybe that’s a bad example… even though I can’t dunk, I could have won this year’s slam dunk contest.)
Sports Illustrated emails piece to Cleveland blog
Not only did Shaughnessy write an attention-seeking piece probably designed to piss off some people and infuriate others, but Sports Illustrated actually wrote at least one Cleveland sports blog an email to notify them of the article. I’m not even kidding. Here’s the email from Time Inc., as received by Waiting For Next Year, a very good Cleveland sports blog:
I wanted to let you know of an article that appears on SI.com today that takes a close look at the likely matchup between the Celtics and Cavaliers in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. SI.com contributing columnist Dan Shaughnessy believes that the Celtics can exploit Cleveland’s weaknesses despite the NBA’s reigning MVP and the Cavaliers astounding record at Quicken Loans Arena during the regular season.
Shaughnessy writes: “The Celtics have the same starting five that won the championship two years ago. OK — Pierce, Garnett and Ray Allen are not better than they were two years ago, but Rajon Rando is a much better player than he was in 2008, and Kendrick Perkins is two years stronger. Glen “Big Baby” Davis contributes much more than he did two years ago and the Celtics have added veteran snipers Michael Finley and Rasheed Wallace.”
If you have any questions or would like any other information, please feel free to contact me. The article is on SI.com now. Thank you.
Really, Sports Illustrated, you are THAT interested in stirring the pot? THAT interested in driving a little extra traffic to your website? You’re Effing Sports Illustrated, aren’t you a little beyond that? You shouldn’t have to stoop to that level. You’re better than that, SI, come on. I think we can all agree that Sports Illustrated should be A LITTLE past the point where it has to stir up the pot by personally emailing articles to sports blogs that might be offended by them.
Alas, this Shaughnessy piece wasn’t that bad. As far as predictions go, it’s a bold one, but most of his points make sense (clearly excluding the Sheed one). I’ve certainly written worse articles, I’m sure.
Shaughnessy is now the clear-cut leader of the Celtics bandwagon, and Sports Illustrated the clear-cut leader of hyping controversial articles via email. But I’ve got a plea for Shaughnessy and everyone else talking about Cleveland…
Let’s just get by the Heat first, eh?
Here’s a post to our fan blog. It was a nice breakdown of potential pickups the C’s could make from the remaining free agents. Post to our fan blog here.
Two years ago the Boston Celtic’s front office decided to sign Sam Casell well into the season. Last year, Stephon Marbury got to join the club late in the year. Both Sam and Marbury ended up being sub-par vets who missed quite a few shots. This year, with the C’s looking to boost the front court and add a swingman, here are some possibilities.
Michael Finley – He’s a SG and SF who could nicely complement ‘Quis. The only problem is he’s shooting 38% from the field. Still, for a guy averaging 15 points per game for his career, I like him, and would welcome him on the Boston team. [Editor's note - One other problem, besides his shooting percentage: He's ancient.]
Larry Hughes – Averaging 9 points a game this season, Larry’s decent, but is shooting only 36%. Attitude issues and lazy defense are issues. Reminds me too much of Sheed, but he could back up Ray and let Quis focus on the 3.
Rashad McCants – If we can get him, I want him! McCants is only 6-4 so he’s limited to 3rd string SG but is a good rotation player. He shot 44% last season and is 43% career wise. Last season, he scored 10 points a game and is similar to Tony Allen, except for TA can rebound and distribute. (Editor’s note: McCants is a better shooter, and might be less likely to turn the ball over.) McCants can score and hustle but has bad character. I’d still like him to score in bursts for 8 minutes a night.
In a nutshell, the C’s could use a swingman who could play and score a little so Ray and Paul can rest before the playoffs. Rashad McCants would be the best fit, but Finley and Hughes could help. Hopefully, we get the right guy, and can position ourselves better for the playoffs.
(Editor’s note: McCants is a guy I haven’t thought about at all. He must be a headcase to not have any suitors after showing decent scoring potential, but the man can certainly score.
Other free agents include Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, Mikki Moore and Wally Szczerbiak. I’m unsure whether J.R. Bremer would be willing to accept a buy-out from his current Russian club. I’m kidding about the possibility of adding Bremer to the mix… I think. Reports are that Allen Iverson will be bought out but, with his daughter’s illness that has kept him out of many games, it’s possible he still won’t sign with any other team. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is pretty much already a Cav, even though there’s still a Tayshaun Prince-thin chance he signs with another team.)