Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
The numbers speak to their league-leading nine-game win streak, and maybe the Celtics are about to discover the real value behind their early offensive status.
“The first road trip was kind of like a teaser,” Jaylen Brown said of the Cleveland/Charlotte/San Antonio jaunt that finished last weekend. “Now this is like the real thing, I guess — a long road trip, some tough games. We’ll see what we’re made of here, but we’ve got to come out and be ready to play.”
The Celtics open the trip tonight in the Warriors’ new San Francisco home — the Chase Center — and continue on through Sacramento, Phoenix, Los Angeles (for the Clippers) and Denver.
“We’re going to learn a lot. We’re going to learn a lot man,” said Walker. “When you go on road trips is when adversity starts to hit, fatigue starts to set in, guys want to get back home. Those trips are long.
By the end of this road trip, the Celtics will have played 15 games, almost a fifth of the regular season. They will have played ten road games against only five home games, which somewhat offsets their rather soft schedule thus far. They’ll have played three games against the league’s top teams (Denver, Milwaukee and Toronto), and will have played through several nicks and dings (Brown’s illness, Kanter’s knee, Theis’ finger, etc.)
Suffice to say that when the Celtics roll back into Boston and take on the Kings in ten days, we’re going to have a pretty good idea who they are.
And if they still have the best record in the NBA, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them hold onto that right up to the end of the season.
I remember the year after the Warriors fired Mark Jackson. I didn’t think they were going to do much more than make noise in the regular season the way plenty of teams out in the flashier conference do (perpetual case in point: the Houston Rockets). I kept expecting reality to hit, not realizing until well into the playoffs that I was already looking at reality.
Well, the Celtics may be as good as their record implies. When a team is so good that proposals for improvement revolve around ridiculous trades for the most easily filled position in this era’s NBA (almost all of the league’s champs over the past nine seasons have platooned the center position), you know they’ve arrived.
Page 2: Where the C’s bench might be coming around
Against Washington, the second unit outscored their Washington counterparts 40-29, with all six of the Celtics off the bench scoring at least two points.
That was a bit surprising, not only because of Boston’s lack of scoring punch off the bench, but also because bench scoring has been one of the few strengths of the Wizards this season. Washington’s bench averages 43.4 points per game, which ranks sixth in the NBA.
For Boston to have such a collectively strong game could not have come at a better time with the Celtics heading out for their longest road trip of the season beginning Friday at Golden State.
The Celtics have been dinged up, and with multiple players missing multiple games, that was clearly going to affect bench production. Coming into the season, bench scoring was going to devolve primarily onto the shoulders of Smart and Kanter, and so far Smart has started half of the team’s games, while Kanter has only played in three, and was forced to start due to injuries elsewhere in one of them.
Grant Williams and Carsen Edwards have both struggled, which is, frankly, to be expected. Long term, I don’t think there’s going to be an issue with either of them, and the C’s have the luxury of letting them get a feel for the game without putting too much pressure on them to perform. It’s a long season, and I expect both Williams and Edwards to show meaningful improvement by the end of it.
Finally: Carmelo’s got a job again
Carmelo Anthony is getting another shot in the NBA.
The 10-time All-Star is returning to the league with the Portland Trail Blazers, a person with knowledge of the details said Thursday.
Anthony can still score — he ranks among the top 20 on the NBA’s career list — but his preferred style of doing it has been replaced by a faster-paced game that exposes his defensive weaknesses.
Carmelo Anthony is a first rate argument that scoring is a terrible method of evaluating player ability.
Here you have a guy who’s going to end up in the Hall of Fame only because of how many points he’s scored. There is no other basis for enshrining Anthony.
The rest of the links:
NBC Sports: Blakely’s NBA Power Rankings: Youth on the rise | How tall is Tacko? C’s center disputes the official measurement | Ainge explains the biggest challenge of Hayward’s injury | Celtics Talk Podcast: Are the C’s better than we thought?