Celtics-Jazz pregame notes: Big Al back in town
JEFFERSON BACK IN BOSTON
An old friend is back in Boston for tonight’s Celtics-Jazz game.
Make sure if you see him you say thanks for Kevin Garnett.
Kidding, but it’s true.
Jefferson was the main part of the trade that brought Kevin Garnett to Boston — and the rest is just history.
Now in his 9th season in the NBA, it’s probably safe to say that Jefferson didn’t develop into the megastar NBA player that some thought he could, but nonetheless has still put together a great career.
“He just keeps getting better and better,” Doc Rivers said, who also admitted he hadn’t gotten a chance to catch up with Jefferson over dinner this time around. “The thing I thought I’d never say about Al is he’s becoming a better passer and I’m very happy about that for him. You know, he just keeps working on his game. I think he hit that one little stretch when he lost a lot, and you can see he’s fought through that now. I think making that playoff run — he was a big part of it last year — has kind of restoked him.”
The Jazz run ultimately fell short when they were overpowered by the San Antonio Spurs in four games, but it was Jefferson’s first appearance since the 2004-05 season with the C’s. He averaged 18.3 points and 8.6 rebounds in that postseason, but the experience was worth more.
Now, younger players on Utah are looking up to him for advice on and off the court. You could even say he’s helping out guys that may take his job (he’s a free agent after this season). Rivers isn’t surprised to see Jefferson stepping into that role.
“No, I just think what probably surprises Al is how quickly you become a veteran and now you have to give direction,” Rivers said. “It just happens quick. The league is quick, it moves quick, and it’s just really interesting. Him and Favors are working together a lot and you can see him giving Favors probably the same instructions that veterans were trying to give him. Just the way the league [is], it’s just a circle.”
The Celtics are one of the teams in the NBA embracing the “small ball” — so we thought.
Doc Rivers was asked about putting a more conventional lineup out there tonight to play against the big guys the Jazz throw out (four starters on Utah are 6-foot-8 or taller — and that doesn’t include 6-foot-11 Enes Kanter and 6-foot-10 Derrick Favors), in which he responded by saying they already do that.
“We really have all year, when you think about it. We’ve gone small for short times but Kevin [Garnett] is a five to us. To me, he’s a five and Chris Wilcox is a five. So to me we are conventional.”
But Rivers warned that just because Jazz go big doesn’t mean they go slow.
“They go big at the three (shooting guard) at times,” he said. They haven’t done it much, but they will do it when they put Millsap at the three. So they’re a big team. You can’t get lost in their size. They’re sixth in the league in fast break points, so they’re a sneaky run team. You start looking at their bigs and the next thing you know they’re down the floor scoring.”
Sorry Jason Collins.
THE ALLEY-OOP IS BACK
We’ve seen it over the past few games: Rondo to KG for the alley-oop.
It’s alive! After a brief hiatus, the Rondo-KG alley-oop appears to be back in the C’s game plan, and it looks to be effective now too — thanks to a certain point guard’s improved shot.
“The biggest part of it to me is that Rondo, guards are starting to go over [to cover him] now because he can shoot the ball, Rivers said. “And now that that’s happening, that big has to show. The big’s going to show on Rondo we’re getting something for Kevin. We’re rolling Kevin now more than popping him. And that’s the same reason because Rondo keeps making that shot. And the more he makes the shot the more things we can run.”