BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Denver Nuggets 106-98 on Friday night at TD Garden:
THE NITTY GRITTY
Early foul trouble for Jared Sullinger pressed Kris Humphries into action and he responded with his finest performance in a Boston uniform, totaling a season-high 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting with 7 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a block over 23:32. Humphries was a team-best plus-26 in plus/minus and helped the Celtics fend off the second-half surges of the Nuggets. Boston put five players in double figures, including four members of the first unit, with Jordan Crawford totaling a starters-best 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting over 33:43. Boston led by as many as 27 in the first half and 20 at the intermission, shooting 51.8 percent overall. Ty Lawson scored a team-high 20 points for Denver but departed in the second half with a left hamstring injury.
The Celtics gave themselves a comfortable cushion over the first 4½ minutes, building a two-touchdown lead before the Nuggets even got on the scoreboard. Boston connected on seven of its first nine shots (while Denver missed its first eight) and led 14-0 before J.J. Hickson drew a shooting foul and broke up the shutout with 7:20 to play in the first quarter. Boston didn't relent and Jeff Green's 30-foot 3-pointer near the end of the frame had Boston out front 39-15 after one.
FENDING OFF THE NUGGETS
The Nuggets did eventually rally, starting the third quarter as strong as Boston had started the first. It took less than five minutes for Boston's lead to shrink from 20 to 4, and it was a one-possession game a couple times later in the frame. Unfazed, the Celtics rode the Humphries/Crawford combo and pushed their lead back to 10 before the end of the quarter.
Crawford had his left wrist taped up at Thursday's practice, but clearly it wasn't an issue. He hit some big shots as Denver rallied in the third quarter to keep the charging Nuggets at arm's length, and he also added a team-high eight assists on the night. ... Crash Wallace, Part II: OK, so it wasn't his filthy turn-back-the-clock jam from Tuesday's win over the Bucks, but Gerald Wallace had another highlight-caliber dunk on Friday. This time he cut backdoor and Vitor Faverani found him for a fourth-quarter slam. ... Another great night valuing the ball for Boston: The Celtics turned it over just 10 times leading to a mere 11 points. ... Boston had 25 assists on 43 field goals. ... Sullinger got hit with two early fouls and that likely contributed to one of his quieter outings in recent games. He finished with eight points on 4-of-13 shooting, but was a team-worst minus-12.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (9-12) have won two straight and five of their past seven while remaining on top of the Atlantic Division. The Celtics travel to New York Saturday for two games in the Empire State against the Knicks (Sunday) and Nets (Tuesday). Reunion week continues Wednesday when former coach Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers visit TD Garden.
Olynyk suffered what Stevens had dubbed a "significant" sprain of his right ankle during a loss to the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 23. He was expected to miss two weeks, which would have put him back on the court for Friday's visit from the Denver Nuggets, but needed additional time to heal. Olynyk will miss his seventh straight game on Friday, but Stevens said he could be back as early as Tuesday's visit to the Brooklyn Nets.
"From what I’ve been told, [Olynyk] went through an individual workout [Friday]," said Stevens. "He is going to, hopefully, feel good [Saturday] and go light in practice tomorrow. He’ll probably be out Sunday [vs. the New York Knicks]. He’ll be day-to-day starting next week. Tuesday might be a stretch, it might not be. I don’t know. But he’s close to being back."
Olynyk is averaging 7.5 points and 5.4 rebounds over 22.6 minutes per game in 14 appearances (six starts) this season. The Celtics are 4-2 in the six games he has missed. Stevens has noted that he's unsure how exactly he'll reinsert Olynyk into the rotation. The rookie had ascended back to a starting role before the injury, but could seemingly be eased back in a reserve role with Boston's starting frontcourt of Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass playing well (despite being undersized).
Phoenix's Jeff Hornacek tops the list, but Stevens is second (Boston was expected to have 4.6 wins to this point, it's Pythagorean wins is actually 7.8). Here's a snippet from Insider's breakdown: "Stevens is known for his defensive acumen and affinity for analytics, and his squad ranks ninth in defensive efficiency, down just two spots from 2012-13. The Celtics protect the 3-point line better than any other team in the NBA, a tendency that will play especially well when Danny Ainge eventually gets Stevens a quality rim protector."
(Read full post )
- FIRST-TIME MEETING: Friday's game will feature two of the league's nine first-year coaches this season. Boston coach Brad Stevens (Butler) and Denver coach Brian Shaw (former Pacers assistant) crossed paths only briefly in Indianapolis while the two were climbing the coaching ladder, but Stevens handed out heavy praise for his counterpart. "I’m really impressed with him as a coach and, from everything I’ve heard, even more so as a person," said Stevens. "I think he’s great. Everybody that comes across his path speaks really highly of him." Shaw, who was drafted by the Celtics in the first round back in 1988 (24th overall), has the best record so far among the NBA's first-year coaches.
- STEVENS EXPECTS BOUNCE-BACK NUGGETS: Did Boston miss Denver's dud? The Nuggets' Ty Lawson had been averaging a team-best 17.6 points per game during Denver's recent seven-game winning streak. The Cavaliers ended that run on Wednesday and Lawson finished a mere 1-of-13 shooting with four points. Stevens knows that won't happen again. "Lawson is obviously not going to have that kind of game very often," he said. "[The Nuggets] play fast, they are very skilled, very aggressive. and [Kenneth] Faried’s been one of my favorite players to watch forever since she was at Morehead St. I could go through the laundry list of things we need to do well, but we’re going to have to play exceptionally well, maybe as well as any game we’ve played, to do what we want to do [Friday] night."
- TRANSITION DEFENSE IN FOCUS: The Nuggets rank in the top half of the league in most of the league's major advanced statistical categories, including seventh in offensive rating (105.3) and 13th in defensive rating (102.2). The Nuggets attack the offensive glass (8th in offensive rebound percentage) and limit their turnovers (sixth in turnover percentage). They only glaring weakness is defensive rebounding (29th in defensive rebound percentage). Will the Celtics try to exploit that? Worries about transition defense might limit how much Boston attacks the offensive glass. "The bottom line is one of the reasons [the Nuggets struggle on the defensive glass] is because they are so small. We’re small, too," said Stevens. "It’s not going to be the battle of 7-footers to start that game [Friday]. It’s a bunch of undersized guys for their positions, but very effective guys. [J.J.] Hickson’s very effective; Faried’s very effective, as are [Brandon] Bass and [Jared] Sullinger, so it’s a little bit unique and that uniqueness will be evened out because we’re both that way. The biggest key is you have to be able to manage [attacking the offensive glass] with getting back, because they are a fast team to the other end of the floor."
- WHAT ELSE?: With some help from our friends at ESPN Stats and Info: The Nuggets averaged 110.7 points per 100 possessions during their seven-game winning streak. That mark would easily top the NBA if maintained. ... Boston has won 19 of its last 22 home games against Denver, including three straight. ... The Nuggets own the fourth-highest pace in the league (99.22 possessions per 48 minutes) and will likely crank the tempo. ... The Celtics won't be the only team waiting on a player rehabbing from ACL surgery (Rajon Rondo) as Denver's Danilo Gallinari tore his ACL in April. He averaged 16.2 points per game last season, second most on the team behind Lawson (16.7). ... Boston is just 1-7 against teams at or above .500 this season.
(Read full game preview)
Satch Sullinger took in Boston's practice Thursday from the balcony outside Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge's office. Asked about having dad watching from high above, Jared Sullinger playfully noted, "He doesn’t coach me any more. He's my father, finally. Thank the Lord."
Satch Sullinger coached his son at Northland High School in Columbus, Ohio. He stepped down in 2011, in part to watch Jared Sullinger's escalation to the pro game (starting with his two seasons at Ohio State).
Since his Dad didn't have a whistle, Jared Sullinger relented that it was actually pretty neat to have him at practice Thursday.
"It's kind of cool," said Sullinger. "It's always been my dream and to see him upstairs watching me practice at an NBA level is pretty cool."
Jared Sullinger is averaging 13.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists over 25.6 minutes per game this season. He tops the Celtics in plus-minus (plus-51 overall) and has been the most consistent two-way player recently. After back surgery ended his rookie season in January, even Sullinger admits his steady sophomore play has been a bit of a surprise.
"I thought there were going to be a lot of curves coming into this season," he said. "I thought there were going to be a lot of down games, if you know what I mean, with low energy and maybe a little stiffness. But I haven't really had one as of late, so that's pretty shocking considering what I'm coming off of."
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Sullinger was pretty far into his rehab by the time he was hired in July, noting that Sullinger nearly got cleared around summer league, but suffered a minor calf injury that was likely a compensation coming off the back surgery.
"What I am surprised with is how quickly he’s picked up being an effective 5-on-5 basketball player because that’s where the rust comes into play when you get back on the court with four other guys," said Stevens. "He’s never had an issue with that and I do think he’ll continue to get better. He’s in a really good spot, from a playing standpoint."
One thing that isn't so surprising to Sullinger: His team being in first place in the Atlantic Division with an 8-12 record.
"I knew we could do it," he said. "I have total confidence in my teammates. I have total confidence in this coaching staff."
Wait, so Sullinger figured the Celtics would thrive even after dealing away Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce?
"Without a doubt," he said. "I mean, they're just as human as us. I have confidence in my teammates, and we play together, first and foremost. Any given night, anybody can go off."
It was Sullinger making a clutch step-back jumper to help the Celtics fend off the Milwaukee Bucks the other night. No doubt making his father proud.
Togetherness was a word that former Celtics coach Doc Rivers used in bulk. A couple years back, Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel noted how he used to write "Togetherness" on his team's whiteboard before every practice or film session and said it was because of how often he heard Rivers utter it during Boston's 2008 title season.
Stevens' version of togetherness is built off The Butler Way, which the school notes "demands commitment, denies selfishness, and accepts reality, yet seeks constant improvement while promoting the good of the team above self."
Reflecting on the first 20 games of the 2013-14 season, Stevens said Thursday that he's most pleased with the way the team has grown together.
"I think we learn every day about our team and we're still not completely well-versed in it, but I do think that the best thing about our growth, in general, there's just a different sense of team-ness, there's a different sense of knowing each other," said Stevens. "We're still only two months together, but we've gone through a lot already, wins and losses, lots of games, lots of travel. Hopefully we can continue to build on that, but we're still learning [the players] personality-wise, and we're still learning them within a game. But I think we've got a better feel than we did two months ago."
Stevens believes that's reflected on the court. Boston lost 10 of its first 14 games and often looked like a team with a first-year coach and a bunch of new faces learning a new system. Over the past six games, Boston is 4-2 and putting up encouraging numbers (even if the competition hasn't always been the most daunting).
Over a six-game span starting on Nov. 23, Boston has posted the fourth-best defensive rating in the league (97.4 points per 100 possessions) and ranked sixth in total rebound percentage (52 percent). Heck, even Boston's often-anemic offense ranked in the top half of the league (14th, 103.1) during that span.
Stevens believes it's a product of players settling into roles and not only thriving individually, but as a group. A whirlwind November forced Boston to learn on the fly and that led to some normal growing pains along the way. But it also brought this new-look team closer together.
(Read full post)
The Celtics entered Thursday with a ½ -game lead in the East and would be the fourth seed if the playoffs started today.
Later, when a question came noting how the Celtics had "kept their heads above water" during a crazy November schedule, Stevens paused for a moment before noting, "Everybody is really optimistic. This head above water thing -- we’re 8-12."
Don't misconstrue, Stevens likes the direction his team is headed in. He's simply not ready to celebrate having a .400 winning percentage, regardless of what it gets you in a ramshackled Eastern Conference.
"We have to be careful how we gauge improvement," said Stevens. "I think we made a lot of strides during that six-game losing streak. Because I thought it revealed some things we could work on, it revealed some things that we could potentially address should we come back around to a tough stretch again. There’s just a lot that that we can build off. I think the biggest thing is, I said it earlier, is that mindset, that attitude of being accountable and doing your job. And just growing everyday. Just really embracing that and not concerning ourselves with the record or where we stand."
A handful of quick hits from Thursday's afternoon session at HealthPoint:
- CRAWFORD'S WRIST TAPED UP: Jordan Crawford had his left wrist taped heavily for Thursday's practice. It didn't prevent him from navigating the whole session. Said Stevens, "I don’t know if he fell on it or if he hit it on the floor. He had a little bruise, but he practiced full today. He came in and said, ‘I’m ready to go. Let’s go.' It doesn’t look like anything that’s going to hold him back." Asked about the injury, Crawford said simply, "It’ll be all right."
- PRACTICE TIME, FINALLY: The Celtics didn't hold a formal practice session Wednesday (though many players were in the gym) while enjoying the luxury of two days off before Friday's visit from the Denver Nuggets. It's only the third time this year that Boston has had a two-day break before a game, but the December schedule (12 games in 31 days) is much more forgiving than November (18 games in 30 days). Stevens hopes his team can maximize offday workouts. "You [feel] like you could come in and do a 30-minute film session, then practice for an hour and 15 minutes [like the team did Monday], because before you didn’t want to overdo it. Because it was so many games and so short of time. And we’ve got some back-to-backs coming up, we’ve got some stretches that are certainly very challenging -- the teams are very challenging that we play. It is nice to have a day or two in between."
- WALLACE NOT AWARE OF POOR EAST ... WELL, EXCEPT FOR SOME OLD FRIENDS: Gerald Wallace was asked if he's paid attention to just how poor the Eastern Conference has been this season. "I don’t really know how the East has done. Like I said, once I leave here, I don’t pay attention to basketball," said Wallace. But he was aware of the struggles of the teams in New York, including his former squad in Brooklyn. "I know Brooklyn and New York are real bad right now," added Wallace. "I don’t really know what else is going on. Honestly, the East is getting off to a slow start. It’s early. A lot of changes were made." Wallace said he's not surprised by Brooklyn's struggles with a new coach, new players, and a new system. He thinks they'll turn it around when healthy.
- LOOSE BALLS: Kelly Olynyk remained out of practice with a sprained right ankle and there's no update on his progress. He observed the session from the sidelines, chatting with assistant coach Ron Adams as the session opened to reporters. ... Jared Sullinger's father, Satch, a former high school hoops coach, observed practice from the balcony outside Danny Ainge's office.
Making his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio 98.5 the Sports Hub, Ainge stressed that he'll judge this season by the development of his players much more than wins and losses.
"It’s more on the development of guys like [Jared] Sullinger, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Jordan Crawford, and Phil Pressey," said Ainge. " We’re really looking to develop a lot of young guys. We know pretty much what Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries -- the veteran guys -- we pretty much know who those guys are, they’ve been in the league a long time. But we need our young guys be a little bit more consistent."
Ainge was asked about the strong play of Sullinger (a team-best plus-51 in plus/minus and no one else is even close), but spread the praise around.
"We're really excited about Jared and what he’s becoming, and we’ve always known that he’s had the talent, but I don’t know if I would just give MVP to Jared," said Ainge. "I think plus/minus is very deceiving, especially early in the year. I think there’s a lot of guys, I mean Jordan Crawford has played terrific, Avery Bradley has had some amazing games, and I think that Jeff Green has played very consistent. ... I think that there’s a lot of guys that are playing really well. It seems like there’s a different MVP every night."
Asked about sitting atop the Atlantic Division with an 8-12 record, Ainge quipped, "Yeah, how about that?" But pressed on whether it meant anything to him, Ainge downplayed the significance.
"I just feel like there’s a lot of teams that have had injuries, or just haven’t been able to play well as they are capable of playing," he said. "I think we’re one of those teams, I don’t think we’ve played as well as we can. We just have to get more consistent. But I like a lot of things I see with our team, and with individual players -- I think everybody is playing well at times, we just need to be more consistent and play more together."
Ainge also talked about the Knicks' struggles, the reassigning of former Boston assistant Lawrence Frank in Brooklyn, and gave the latest on Rajon Rondo's recovery. Hop HERE to listen to the full interview.
Making his weekly appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub, a Boston radio station, Ainge detailed how Rondo is playing in competitive 2-on-2 situations, but still has a slight limp, suggesting that the surgically repaired knee is not healthy enough yet to take the next step in his rehab.
"I don’t think he’s close," said Ainge. "Meaning, I don’t think [his return is] going to happen the next few weeks. We’re not on pins and needles about it. We’re being very cautious with Rondo. I think he’s still got a little bit of a limp; his strength is not quite there, but he is making progress. We’re not close."
Ainge said Rondo played 2-on-2 with teammates Phil Pressey, Courtney Lee and MarShon Brooks during Boston's off day Wednesday. Ainge said Rondo got upset when his team lost those 2-on-2 games and is clearly eager to get back on the floor with the Celtics.
"He’s just not himself yet, but he’s getting there and he’s pushing himself to get there. Listen, we’re going to be very cautious with him and make sure he’s right before he comes back. There’s just a little bit of a limp still. He’s gotta get that strength back in the knee up to 100 percent before they’ll let him back out on the court."
Rondo is planning to meet with his operating surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, in Florida this month to gauge where the guard is in his recovery. Ainge told the Boston Globe on Wednesday that the meeting would likely occur in the next 10-14 days. It seems Rondo and the team are waiting until they are confident that enough strength has returned to the knee in the hopes that Andrews will give the thumbs-up to resume full practice activities.
Ainge has previously said that Rondo could be back in game action as early as two weeks after gaining clearance to return to practice. That timeline suggests Rondo is unlikely to return in December.
This is distressing to some Celtics fans, who see a loaded 2014 draft class and want the slice of the franchise-altering pie they thought they were getting when the team dealt Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn. Instead, it'll be Boston with the better overall record among those two teams when they meet in Brooklyn next Tuesday night.
What the Tank or Bust sector of the Celtics' fan base must keep in mind is that there's no surefire path back to contending for a title. Pinning your hopes to pingpong balls doesn't always work (right, Rick Pitino?) and sometimes you still need to call an audible along the way (hey there, Kevin Garnett trade).
Listen, there's no guarantee that Boston will win the division or even earn a playoff spot playing .400 basketball (though the East is trying its damnedest to make that stand up). You have to think some of these underachieving teams like Brooklyn will find their way eventually, right? Right?!
Then again, the Celtics navigated an absolutely brutal November schedule and managed to keep their heads above water. They'll soon get an All-Star-caliber jolt when Rajon Rondo is able to return from ACL rehab. You can make the case that Boston will only get better the more comfortable the C's get under first-year coach Brad Stevens.
So our advice to Celtics fans is simple: Embrace winning. Isn't it better to establish a winning culture and identify the known building blocks for the team's future rather than roll the dice for a mere chance at the unknown?
Remember that the Celtics have enough draft picks -- nine first-rounders over the next five years -- and young assets that if they desire to trade their way up the draft board in the future, they might even be able to do it. They've got tradable assets and trade exceptions that will let them infuse talent into their core.
(Read full post)
Boston’s 8-12 record is tied with the 2006-07 New Jersey Nets for the worst in NBA history by a division leader through 20 games. The Nets finished second in the Atlantic Division that season, but still made the playoffs (losing in the conference semifinals).
The Nets emerged with the 17th pick in the 2007 draft (when Greg Oden and Kevin Durant were the prizes). The Nets selected Boston College's Sean Williams at that spot.
Will the Celtics follow the Nets' path and make the playoffs? It's a coin flip at the moment, according to ESPN.com's Hollinger Playoff Odds:
At the moment, Boston has only a 2.9 percent chance of winning the draft lottery. Yes, it's way too early to accurately predict how the team's season will play out and that's hammered home by the projections for potential best (52-30) and worst (18-64) records.
Through the first 11 games of the season, Boston owned a league-worst defensive rebound percentage of 70.4 percent. At that point, Boston was about to embark on a road trip that featured some imposing opposing front lines (Minnesota, Houston, San Antonio), but managed to start trending in a more positive direction during that three-game stretch.
Over the past nine games, Boston’s defensive rebound rate is 75.7 percent, ranking 12th in the league during that span. That’s helped the Celtics climb from the league’s basement to 25th overall for the season with a season mark of 72.8 percent.
If Boston were to maintain that rebound rate of 75.7 percent from that nine-game stretch, it would rank them near the top 5 in the league overall this season.
“The thing I’m most pleased with, improvement-wise, has been that our defensive rebounding numbers have gotten better throughout [the season],” said Stevens. “I think we were 30th in the middle of the month. Now we’re not very high, but we’re climbing, so that’s a really positive thing.”
So what’s changed? Here’s a look at the individual changes in defensive rebound rate for every player on the roster from the first 11 games to the last nine:
Faverani’s dip is a product of his downturn in playing time. The two numbers that leap off the page are Sullinger and Bass, the team’s new starting frontcourt combination and the guys logging the most minutes up front. For Bass, whose career defensive rebound percentage is 16.3 percent, the recent leap is super encouraging. That's been the glaring weakness in his game as an undersized power forward, but he's finding a way to negate that recently to help Boston's size-deprived frontcourt.
Sprinkle in the boost Humphries is giving off the bench and you’ve got a team that’s eliminating a lot of the second-chance opportunities that plagued them earlier in the season (and helping Boston shuffle into the top 10 for defensive rating).
Now if Boston could just shore up that transition defense this team could actually slide into the top 5 in the league in defense. Not bad for a squad that was projected to have a league-worst defense entering the 2013-14 campaign.
Does Celtics first-year coach Brad Stevens know and/or care about the team's record?
“I know [the standings]," said Stevens. "But it has no bearing on my life. Literally, none. If you can take a snapshot of where you stand versus the competition, but it has nothing to do with your preparation on your next opponent, it has nothing to do with getting better tomorrow, it just has what’s happened. So yeah, I do, I know, but I have no reason to know.”
Echoed Jeff Green: "I don’t think we really pay attention to where we’re at standings-wise. I think we just take it game-by-game and try to get better each game. But I think we’re making progress to get to where we want to be. We still have some kinks we need to work out, but I love it. We’re getting better each day and I like how we’re correcting our mistakes."
Inside the Celtics' locker room, players like Green brushed off the significance of being in first place after just 20 games. But they did revel in being more competitive than most had expected to this point, while still having plenty of room for growth.
"We’re getting better every day," said Jordan Crawford. "Sometimes off wins we kind of get complacent and forget what it takes to win. We’ve just got to learn to stay focused and pull out these wins, grind them out."
Echoed Gerald Wallace: "I think confidence-wise, we’re pretty good. We still haven’t played a lot of the elite teams, but we have played some. The first month of the season, they came fast. The games came back-to-back. We have what, 12 losses? And we probably feel like six or them or seven of them, we could’ve easily won and our record would’ve been totally different from what it is now. It’s a learning experience. You take the first month in stride."
Coming off the bench, Lee provided 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting over 15 minutes, 39 seconds of floor time as the Celtics posted a 108-100 triumph over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks. Lee scored seven fourth-quarter points and connected on all three of his attempts in the frame.
“[Lee] was huge because you talk again about the third/early-fourth quarter," said first-year coach Brad Stevens, who didn't hesitate to toss Lee back on the floor. "He helped settle us down and he made tough [shots]. He looked like he had an extra bounce in his step.
"He didn’t make the trip with us [to Milwaukee on Saturday] so he could stay back and get better and do rehab and, when you’re only going to be gone for 18 hours or whatever we were gone, it didn’t make much sense to take those guys with us. And he had a little more bounce in his step than maybe our guys did at that time, and we needed it.”
Lee is now averaging 7.8 points on 52.3 percent shooting over 16.8 minutes per game. He's providing a much-needed offensive spark for the second unit, something the team missed during his two-game absence.
A couple other notes from Tuesday's game:
- WALLACE'S DUNK: Gerald Wallace hopped in his time machine and went back a decade. Early in the second quarter, Wallace caught his defender sleeping and launched toward the paint from above the arc. Luke Ridnour could only watch as Wallace corralled a pass from Humphries, took one dribble, then exploded to the rim for a one-handed jam that had both Zaza Pachulia and Ersan Ilyasova trying to get out of the way. Said Wallace, "I don’t know what happened on that one. Don’t get used to that. That was a spur of the moment type thing. I just happened to dunk it. I didn’t realize I was that high."
- HUMPHRIES' IMPACT: Good things continue to happen when Kris Humphries is on the floor. The veteran big man was a team-best plus-12 in plus/minus against Milwaukee and Humphries also grabbed eight rebounds and handed out three assists (including the feed that led to Wallace's dunk). In limited playing time (202 minutes), Humphries actually ranks No. 1 on the Celtics with an offensive rating of 104.4 (only negated by having one of the worst defensive ratings -- 104.3).
Play Podcast Patriots RB Shane Vereen shares his thoughts about his wrist injury, his role in the Patriots' attack, the jelling of New England's offense and more.
Play Podcast Two-time World Series champion Johnny Damon dishes on Jacoby Ellsbury's decision to sign with the Yankees, what moving from Boston to New York is like and more.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL analyst Herm Edwards weighs in on how to beat the Seahawks, Bill Belichick's comments about replay, the playoff picture, Mike Tomlin's apology and more.
Play Podcast Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski weighs in on the state of New England's offense, Antonio Smith's controversial comments, illegal hits, his health and more.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer weighs in on Geno Smith's struggles, how much responsibility for the Jets' problems falls on Rex Ryan, the Patriots' defense, the Saints' challenges on the road and more.