With Everyone in Tune, Boston Celtics Are a Virtuoso Rebuilding Act

View previous topic View next topic Go down

With Everyone in Tune, Boston Celtics Are a Virtuoso Rebuilding Act

Post by bobheckler on Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:27 am

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/02/sports/basketball/boston-celtics-danny-ainge-new-york-knicks.html?_r=0



With Everyone in Tune, Boston Celtics Are a Virtuoso Rebuilding Act



On Pro Basketball



By HARVEY ARATON


APRIL 2, 2017



Kelly Olynyk and the Boston Celtics, who won their 50th game by beating the Knicks on Sunday, hold the top Eastern Conference playoff spot. Credit Elsa/Getty Images



Kelly Olynyk, formerly of those aptly nicknamed Gonzaga Bulldogs, watched his favorite college team advance to within 40 basketball minutes of a first national championship on Saturday night in a crowded and boisterous Manhattan establishment.

“I was juiced, man, really juiced,” he said before assuring his locker room audience at Madison Square Garden on Sunday that he had in no way been inebriated, merely high on the inspirational rise of a midmajor program that, he added, is “probably the most consistent basketball team over the last 20 years — other than maybe UConn women’s basketball.”

Bless his gender-equitable point of reference, and his heart. When the crowd of reporters wanting his take on Gonzaga’s chances in the N.C.A.A. title game against North Carolina on Monday night had dispersed, Olynyk, a 7-foot center with flowing brown hair and a wry, easy smile, agreed that playing for the Boston Celtics is not unlike his Gonzaga days under Coach Mark Few.

“We’ve created a real team atmosphere where guys are playing for the people beside them, playing for the city of Boston,” he said Sunday before the Celtics buried the Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose-less remains of the Knicks, 110-94. “We’re playing off each other, and that’s a testament to Brad, his system and the way he coaches, bringing everyone together to be greater than the sum of our parts.”

Brad is Brad Stevens, the coach hired by Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ top basketball executive, in 2013. In a previous professional life, Stevens was, in effect, Few, overachieving at Butler, another renowned Division I David adept at standing up to America’s university Goliaths.

Partnered with the wheeling-and-dealing Ainge for the past four years, Stevens has managed to remake the Celtics, still the N.B.A.’s most title-decorated franchise (17), into an overachieving, sentimental choice and a challenger to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for top playoff standing in the Eastern Conference.

“I can tell you it’s not coaching,” Stevens said, modestly deferring credit to Ainge. “You’re not going to have a roster of 15 guys that don’t play hard and think you’re going to be able to convince them to play hard for 82 games. I think you recruit hard-playing guys, and if you’re a hard-playing guy and you’re around other hard-playing guys, that’s contagious.”

It is too soon to definitively say that the Celtics — powered offensively by their generously measured (at 5 feet 9 inches) scoring point guard, Isaiah Thomas — are roster-equipped to be a postseason force in a league in which finalists and champions are typically led by superstars doubling as shoe spokesmen.

But who expected the Celtics to be where they finished Sunday, a hair ahead of Cleveland, the defending champion and a near-unanimous preseason choice to return to the finals for a third straight year?

“It’s happened quicker than people expected,” Olynyk said, referring to the possibility of claiming the No. 1 spot in the East and home-court advantage for the first three rounds.

In other words, with the most valuable draft picks they obtained in their 2013 heist of the Nets still to be used this June and next, the Celtics are pretty much playing this season with house money.

And this is where Sunday’s visit provided a timely contrast to the sad state of the Knicks, eliminated from the playoffs for a fourth straight season and with the familiar clouds of organizational uncertainty hovering over the Garden.

One ray of clarity may have emerged with the pregame announcement that Derrick Rose was done for the season with a torn meniscus in his left knee — bad timing for him with free agency looming, but increasing the likelihood the Knicks will write him off as a one-season investment gone sour.

The Celtics could also have a major playmaking decision ahead, assuming they are in prime draft-selection position, courtesy of the woeful Nets, to land one of the studs in the upcoming point guard-laden draft. With Thomas on board, do they look for that next-level star in the frontcourt? Do they see Thomas as more of an ideal sixth man on a true title contender? Do they move their coveted draft picks for an established N.B.A. star?

Or do they continue to add young talent, hoping to continue building from within? Two 2016 first-round draft picks — No. 16 Guerschon Yabusele, a 6-8 forward from France, and No. 23 Ante Zizic, a 6-11 center from Croatia — stayed abroad this season. Zizic played in Turkey for the former Cleveland coach David Blatt, who recently called him “a great pick” soon to join the growing list of multiskilled European frontcourt revelations.

“It’s pretty remarkable when you consider they still have moves to be made, assets to work with and be No. 1 in the East,” Olynyk said of the Celtics.

Consider that Olynyk and Avery Bradley are the only two holdovers from Stevens’s first season, when the Celtics won 25 games with a roster that featured Rajon Rondo and the likes of Vander Blue, Vitor Faverani, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries, Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks.

Ainge somehow managed to turn that slop into 40 wins in 2014-15, 48 last season and 50 thus far this season after sending Coach Jeff Hornacek’s Knicks to their 48th defeat with five games remaining. In contrast with what Ainge has accomplished, consider Phil Jackson’s presidency of the Knicks, which began late in the 2013-14 season, when the Knicks finished 37-45.

Since then, Jackson’s remakes have produced 17 wins, then 32 and then another lost cause this season.

Echoing Stevens about Ainge, and unwittingly indicting Jackson, Hornacek said, “Danny’s put together a bunch of guys that are hard-nosed,” naming Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and Al Horford, players Ainge has drafted, traded for or signed as free agents. They are players motivated, Hornacek added, by “internal pride.”

Three years in, Jackson’s Knicks remain a dispirited and often dysfunctional group of square pegs forced into a triangle offense. He deserves credit for drafting Kristaps Porzingis and for not trading his future draft picks. But unlike Ainge, he has failed to empower a coach and, by extension, install a foundational culture.

In summary, if the Celtics — for now — are Butler or Gonzaga, the Knicks are Rutgers, big-league, or bigly, bad.




bob
MY NOTE:  This is a NY Times article.  Pretty down on Phil.  Heheheh.


.
avatar
bobheckler

Posts : 32754
Join date : 2009-10-28

Back to top Go down

Re: With Everyone in Tune, Boston Celtics Are a Virtuoso Rebuilding Act

Post by dboss on Tue Apr 04, 2017 12:39 pm

Phil's one size fits all philosophy is bewildering to his team fans and the media.

And as words spreads around the league that players do not like playing in the triangle offense it really hurts their chances of signing quality free agents. They will end up paying big cash for less talent just no get guys to go there.

The opposite is true os the Celtics where Stevens has elevated to a coach that other players respect.

dboss
avatar
dboss

Posts : 6327
Join date : 2009-11-01

Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum