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Re: Antoine the SF
Alex Wang wrote:
> According the the Herald, the plan is to start Battie at power
> forward next to Antoine. Conlon will be signed today to a one
> year, non-guaranteed minimum contract. Nice prediction by kasper
> nine on the starting lineup though I would guess that Battie is
> the one to go to the bench when Fortson returns.
> Pitino is being dedicated in his desire to move Antoine back to
> small forward, which is reassuring to me.
For whatever reason, that wasn't the case last night. ESPN listed
Cheaney as the starting small forward last night (28 minutes) with
McCarty and Eric Williams combining for an additional 42 minutes
(presumably a few of those at power forward for Williams).
Aside from his unacceptably high turnovers, Antoine has put up "veteran"
shooting stats from the field and line over the last two games (his
preseason stats are more than acceptable overall, despite a 6-18 game).
On the other hand, Wallah and Eric Williams finally came down to earth a
little bit, shooting 3-13 combined. As Theresa noted, the bench seems
deep enough (with Barros and Griffin hitting 8-14 shots) to make up for
off-games from key scorers.
Getting run off the floor by this particular Utah team would have been a
huge disappointment for me, because this is not a very talented team,
with Stockton getting just 24 minutes and Malone out. The Celts actually
outshot Utah from the free throw by 10 attempts, something that likely
won't happen again upon Malone's return. Adam Keefe is more "the
Postman" (starring Kevin Costner) than "the Mailman".
Although the Celts forced 24 turnovers, Utah still shot .518 from the
field. Teams like Utah continue to dominate a regular season schedule
through their execution and experience more than anything else. In terms
of talent, Vitaly, Antoine and Pierce would all be starters on that
particular team. The Celts are built around a "veteran" core of
24-year-old types (Fortson, Pierce, Antoine, Vitaly, Battie, Williams,
Walter, Griffin, Turner) with all but one of them signed to stable
contracts. If Pitino can just keep the same core playing together for 82
or more consecutive games, it's almost certain he will get a higher
return than if he flips over his roster all over again. Many teams that
are more promising on paper than Utah or Indiana have followed this "Way
of the Ray approach" (I'm teasing) over the past 10 years: notably the
Wiz (Chris Webber, Strickland, Howard), the Mavs (with Jason Kidd, Jim
Jackson, Jamaal + Popeye) and many other continually crappy clubs like
our Celtics. Each year they feature very talented, inexperienced, but
reasonably team-oriented kids, only to dump their "disappointing" young
stars and reload if they don't see an immediate spike in the win column.
At the moment, Pitino seems surprisingly happy with his roster now that
he has the two missing ingredients of successful Pitino ball (crisper
passing, better bench depth) not to mention rebounding and toughness
(which are far less of a Pitino team trademark, but seem undeniably
important in NBA playoff basketball year after year). Pitino does tend
to take fans by surprise by dumping players we assumed he should be
happy to have around (notably Mercer, Williams, Conlon, Fox, Wesley).
But contrary to popular myth on this list, I don't recall him talking up
a player's value in the weeks prior to turning around and trading them.
In other words, there seems to me to be no basis to link "Pitinochio's"
(I also like Mark's "Spintino" nickname) mellifluous praise of a certain
player (Fortson, Williams or Cheaney these days) and the probability he
plans to axe them. The only exception to the rule I can think of is
Chris Mills, but frankly he had to say nice things about him when he
signed him as a free agent a few weeks earlier. His ability to cut his
losses quickly has been mostly a positive thing.
> The second unit of Ellison (or Conlon if Pervis goes back out of
> service), McCarty,
> Williams, Cheaney, and Barros should be far superior offensively
> to the second units of the past two years.
I agree. It's strange that Pitino is coming full circle on Marty Conlon
and Eric Williams. Many of us thought they (along with David Wesley)
would be among ML Carr's players who would have survived the initial
transition. It seems like a very hasty signing. Did Conlon even play
last season? Eric Riley or Shintzius would have been the logical
candidates to fill in as third center, until the moment Fortson returns.