Should the Celtics keep going to Paul Pierce's go-to shot?

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It’s a shot that every NBA fan has come to recognize. If the game is on the line and the Celtics have the ball, Paul Pierce is likely to go right and utilize his signature step-back jumper from the elbow. It’s a shot Pierce can get whenever he wants, and he’s been successful with it in the past.

However, Brian Robb of Celtics Hub is of the opinion that the Celtics are relying too heavily on isolation sets for Pierce late in games. Here’s an excerpt:
“If I’m a Celtics fan, I still don’t want Pierce taking that shot 100 percent of the time, since
1) The other team knows it is coming
2) Paul Pierce is shooting in the mid 30’s from anywhere inside the arc. That’s not a high percentage shot.
So Doc Rivers, I implore you, take the ball out of your Captain’s hands at the end of games, if all you are going to be running are isolations. I still want to see Pierce involved in these end of games plays, but I want to see him getting to the hoop, or dishing the ball to Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, or (gasp) Michael Finley for an outside jumper. As of right now, there are plenty better outside shooters than Paul Pierce on this team. Here’s a thought.
Use them.”

Like almost every NBA team, the Celtics don’t use as much ball movement as they should with the game on the line. Contested jump shots are really hard to make, especially when the defense knows they’re coming. In general, teams are better off using the sets they used to score points for the first 47.5 minutes of the game and attempting to get an open jumper or a shot at the rim instead of sitting back and praying their best scorer will play the hero. (Note: that does not apply to Kobe Bryant this season. He is a scary, scary man.) 

Joel Embiid upgrades himself from 69% to 81%: ‘Shoutout to Jalen Rose’

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A story in three parts:

1. After posting 46-15-7-7 in a win over the Lakers, frequently injured 76ers center Joe Embiid declared himself to be 69%:

2. ESPN analyst Jalen Rose called that joke “unprofessional:”

3. Embiid upgraded his status to 81% with a “shoutout to Jalen Rose:”

In case you didn’t get the joke.

Celtics’ Kyrie Irving: “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

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The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.

However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.

Which is what Kyrie Irving was getting at in this post-loss quote from Friday night, via Israel Gutierrez of ESPN.

“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.

Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.

Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

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Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!