When Ray Allen left Boston to go to Miami, mixed in amongst the cries of “traitor” and Kevin Garnett losing Allen’s phone number were a lot of Celtics fans saying the future Hall of Famer would not be missed. Which actually made some sense on paper — they brought in Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, they had Jeff Green coming back, the drop off would not be that severe.
But the Celtics are 20-21 and they have not been impressive save for short spurts all season. All of New England is looking for reasons and answers.
A lot of opponents told Jessica Camerato of CSNNE.com that Boston is a lot different without Ray Allen and that the Celtics miss him. Here are a few highlights, but go read the whole thing.
Richard Hamilton (Chicago Bulls)
“They’re different. When you go into the game, you know with him, he’s coming off curls, he’s coming off pin downs. He really spaces the floor for Paul [Pierce] to go ahead and to what he do, for KG [Kevin Garnett] to do what he do. It was a guy that you never ever could not guard.”
Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls)
“It’s going to be difficult. Ray Allen takes so much attention and he gets guys shots. He made a big difference for them. You could always replace everyone. It’s just, how do you do it? It’s not going to be one guy. Don’t think that you’re going to bring one guy in and he’s going to just fill in the shoes. It takes a team effort and a team goes in a different direction, whether it’s Paul Pierce or Kevin or [Rajon] Rondo who are scoring more. I think people fall into, ‘This guy’s gone, so this guy has to be that guy.’ It’s never like that.
Tony Allen (Memphis Grizzlies)
“That’s a Hall of Fame kind of guy. So that right there just lets you know, they’re missing Ray. Period, point blank. They’re missing Ray.”
I still expect Terry to find a better groove and help bring a little of what Ray did to the second unit, something he can do more with Avery Bradley back in the lineup.
But Allen and all the little things he brought are not so easy to replace. And without him the Celtics margin for error is just that much smaller.
Just a suggestion for rookie Dejounte Murray: Don’t do this in front of Gregg Popovich. You may not like his reaction.
That said, the Spurs needed to get more athletic this off-season — landing Pau Gasol certainly didn’t help that cause — so enter first-round pick Murray, who pulled this off in a recent pickup game.
Murray is going to be brought along slowly in a backcourt where Tony Parker and Patty Mills will be splitting time at the point. Murray is more of a combo guard and is going to have to shoot a lot better than he did in college (28.8 percent from three) to get some run. But this is a situation where the Spurs can groom him, bring him along slowly, and see if they have another draft steal.
He’s certainly got the athleticism.
James Harden‘s defense is not as bad as its reputation.
Well, at least it wasn’t two seasons ago — his near MVP season he was in good enough shape that he could put in a respectable effort on that end and still handle his massive offensive load. There were still some mental lapses, but his focus was better and his improvement lifted the team defense. Last season, he regressed back to youtube “highlight” defense Harden — his conditioning was not where it needed to be, he didn’t expend as much effort on that end, and it showed.
Harden got a massive contract extension this summer, and Dwight Howard is Atlanta’s problem — now Harden has to lead the Rockets. By example. Corey Brewer told ESPN you’re going to see that on defense.
“I think this year he’s going to play better defense, We’re going to let the past be in the past. It’s the future of the Rockets, man. James is going to play defense this year.”
We’re all Missourians on this one: Show me.
Remember that the Rockets will be out and running — Mike D’Antoni is the coach now, and Daryl Morey is going to get the up tempo ball he wants (which Kevin McHale had them doing, but Harden didn’t like him so…). D’Antoni’s teams in Phoenix played better defense than their reputation — points per possession they were middle of the pack — but that has never been his focus.
Will Harden be able to run like he needs to on offense and still defend at a reasonable level?
If he can, it’s a big step toward the Rockets being a dangerous team in the West because if he does it others will follow. Otherwise, every Rockets game will be a shootout, which is entertaining but not going to get a team deep into the playoffs.
I can see the questions on Twitter/in the comments already so let me save you some time.
Because it’s summer.
Because it’s Drake (he’s a celebrity and an NBA hanger-on with some quasi-official position with the Raptors).
Because Stephen Curry did it, too.
Because what other hoops are you watching on a late August afternoon?
And besides, you clicked on it. You know you want to see it.
So here it is, Drake, hitting a halfcourt shot while doing a sit up. Enjoy.
Mario Chalmers was thriving with the Grizzlies after a midseason trade from the Heat when a torn Achilles ended his season.
Not the way Chalmers wanted to enter free agency.
Still unsigned, he says he’s progressing.
Can he go 100%, though? If not, when?
A few teams could use another point guard. If Chalmers shows his health, he belongs in someone’s rotation. But that might require taking a low-paying deal and working his way up from the third point guard spot – or even just onto the regular-season roster.