Winter 2019: B Draft League Champs: @CelticsExpress

    7th seed CelticsExpress resurrected or something for the title because its Easter i guess
    Quit Tryin' for Zion 53 @CelticsExpress 55

    B DRAFT FINAL!!

    CelticsExpress 55 – Quit Tryin’ for Zion 53

    It happened again. A talented B Draft team underperforming for a large chunk of the season, all of a sudden hitting their stride and their shots come playoff time. That old saying a about hard work beating talent when talent doesn’t work hard—that strikes me as a way to describe much of the regular season for #CelticsExpress. Sure, you could always count on a aimlessly energetic Jesse outburst and a couple of Ott floor dives and even Keefe battling hard around the basket. But there were just so many defensive breakdowns throughout the season. Contests that turned into pickup games, up and down the floor with careless offensive volume. But the talent was always there. Here’s what I said about CE before the season, as first heard on Hangin w/ B Draft’s season preview episode:

    “(Ranking: #3) I think Tenney / Howard is the best guard combo in the league. I think they slightly edge Pollock and Kap. There’s just a bit more versatile of a skill set there. I love Ott at 36, always a great pick. Ruff at 29 was potentially a steal. And then the unknown in Keefe, but I think this team is right at 3.” 

    I classified Keefe as an unknown—he definitely turned out to be a key piece. So even though there were times where this team really struggled on both ends of the floor, there was always the sense that they were a threat, that they could at least score enough to give themselves a good chance. But what changed in the playoffs and particularly in the finals was that their team defense finally made a difference. Casey and Howard didn’t gamble quite as much, which was the right move considering the two they had to guard. CE didn’t have to rotate either onto or away from Clarke or Cavano. Zion did miss a lot of 3s (6/29 – 20.7%) and did collect a lot of offensive rebounds (20), but the first and second shot defense was often pretty good.

    As such, CE quickly jumped out to a 23-10 lead halfway through the 1st. Casey hit 2 early 3s, Jesse had 3 nice assists, and Harry was forced to call a timeout, loudly lamenting the fact that this was the second game in a row they’d gotten down big early: “Let’s play some fucking D!”

    After some early missed 3s (as a part of an 0-9 night from deep), Cavano came out of the timeout hot, leading Zion on a 10-0 run to settle things down. From there, the teams more or less traded shots. Ruff ended up coaching a lot from the sideline, directing the action towards Casey, who found a few mismatches against Nate and Varner. But the first half felt like a case study in how I felt about Zion from the beginning of the season. Two primary scorers, and if they’re struggling…

    “(Ranked #4) I like the combination of Clarke and Cavano, but I think also there are other teams that have the guys to guard those two. It’ll be interesting to see how Nate plays with another squad, as well. I think that’s probably the wild card for me. He’s become accustomed to his guys for the most part, and we’ll see how it goes, how they create offense out of that. But certainly a lot of talent there.”

    Essentially, I was worried about the offense outside of Clarke and Cavano. And with both of them struggling to find their shots, taking too many 3s, we suddenly saw a really inefficient offense from Zion in the first half. Despite Chris finding a little something and Clarke scoring in double figures, CE led 33-23 at the end of the first half.

    *There was a bit of drama in the 1st that I’m sure you’ll all want to hear about. Cavano, already with two fouls, was fighting with Jesse for the ball, and Cavano’s elbow caught Jesse in the face. I mean. I was sorta looking down to record something on my stat sheet. But I find it hard to believe that Chris intentionally hit Jesse in the face. So I thought Jesse was joking when I first saw him launch himself into Chris’s chest. Then he did it again—turns out Jesse wasn’t joking. Jesse — I dunno, buddy. Seemed like a little much. A technical was assessed, and it didn’t seem to affect the rest of the game, although the second half did feel markedly more physical in nature.  

    I can’t say for sure whether it was the increased physicality specifically, but both teams started slowly on the offensive end in the 2nd. The two teams then traded 5-0 runs, and not much had changed. Clarke was looking tired, and Chris picked up his fourth foul with 10 minutes left. It felt like an inflection point. CE was either going to bury Zion, or somehow Harry would conjure up some more playoff magic (that said, it was brought to my attention that Harry has lost his last 4 championship games as a captain, of which I was a player for one — in fact, he WON’T captain in the upcoming B Draft session).

    It sure seemed that way. With the defense keyed on Clarke and Cavano, Russo picked up a couple nice buckets at the rim, Chris absolutely grinded his ass off on the offensive boards, and with those second shots and extra possessions, Zion managed to creep back into it, and they picked up their first lead (I think?) with 3 left in the game at 45-44. Meanwhile, for CE, Casey pretty much became the only option in the 2nd half. He scored 13 of the team’s 22 second half points, and 4 of those 9 points came through end-of-game free throws. And he was making just enough shots and making just enough key plays to keep the wheels from falling off completely.

    The last couple minutes. One possession game. Harry was diving on the floor, Jesse was double dribbling. Had all the makings of a great finish. But Zion just couldn’t hit the shots they needed to, and CE managed to grind out a couple buckets, and then they hit some clutch free throws to seal the deal. Nate hit a 3 at the buzzer, so the final score shows a one possession game.

    And so it was, that all of Jesse’s incessant and seemingly undeserved bluster about how his team was clearly the best in the league came to fruition. Yet again, a low seed takes the B Draft title, and the favorite goes down with a whimper. The drama of another B Draft season, over. #CelticsExpress 55 – Quit Tryin’ for Zion 53 

     

    GRADES

    CELTICSEXPRESS

    Casey (A-) On a difficult night for both offenses, Casey made just enough big shots and finished just enough tough shots at the rim to propel his team to the title. He came out with a lot of energy from the jump, and this season we saw a clear example of what the playoffs can bring out in some of the more talented B Draft guys.

    Keefe (B+) Was the other half of CE’s offensive attack. His shot selection was really good, and he did some good defensive work throughout the game, as well. Not his most dominant, and he’ll continue to get better. He did get out-rebounded big time, and I think moving forward he’ll need to be more of a force on the glass.

    Rondell (B+) Huge free throws down the stretch for Howard, as Harry was calling for his squad to foul him and put him on the line. 3 blocks definitely a good representation of his great defensive work, as he was covering either Clarke or Cavano for a good portion of this one. Not his best offensive performance, which was almost an issue, but his defense was key.

    Ruff (C+) Also a couple of massive free throws down the stretch. But not Ruff’s most effective outing. Didn’t find any open looks, and wasn’t really too much of a factor on either end.

    Jesse (C+) 3 quick assists, so a really strong start, but also was mostly a non-factor after that. Kept trying to go past Harry, which resulted in some tough shots and stalled the ball at times. Did a pretty good job on the defensive glass, but I thought his lack of an offensive contribution put this one in jeopardy. Technical foul also seemed unnecessary a bit.

    Ott (C) Not Ott’s best. Missed a couple of reasonably easy looks, 1 board, a steal, an assist. 

     

    QUIT TRYIN’ FOR ZION

    Harry (B) Harry busted his ass out there, and him getting somewhat unusually fired up seemed to get his guys going. Hit the deck a couple times for loose balls, and played some really good on-ball defense throughout.

    Clarke (B+) Got his numbers, but missed a lot of key looks, ones he normally hits. Hard to not give him a higher grade with this stat line, but such is the burden of being on this squad that struggles to find its offense without him. Clarke has to be a little bit disappointed, but not for a lack of effort. He was understandably tired at the end of this one.

    Cavano (B) Also a tough grade to assign. 10 offensive rebounds arguable kept Zion in the game. But then his 0-9 clip from 3 arguably did the exact opposite. Also worked extremely hard, but in the end, forced a few too many bad shots.

    Nate (B) Shot decently well, and did a good job of distributing to Chris and Kevin, who unfortunately didn’t have their best offensive games. Another really solid season for Nate, and he was that close to winning two in a row after a long drought. Alas.

    Varner (C+) With the rest of the offense struggling, I was a bit surprised at Varner’s stat line — only 2 3pt attempts. One banked in, I believe. A couple of second half offensive boards is nice, but Zion probably could have used a bit more of aggressive Kenny in this one.

    Russo (B-) Positioned himself nicely on a couple of possessions for easy looks, and with Chris eating every rebound in sight, he didn’t have to do as much on the boards. But a rather average game for Russo in the final

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    Commentary by CHAS & AUSTIN...

    Quit Tryin' for Zion 53  @CelticsExpress 55

    7th seed CelticsExpress resurrected or something for the title because its Easter i guess

    B DRAFT FINAL!!

    CelticsExpress 55 – Quit Tryin’ for Zion 53

    It happened again. A talented B Draft team underperforming for a large chunk of the season, all of a sudden hitting their stride and their shots come playoff time. That old saying a about hard work beating talent when talent doesn’t work hard—that strikes me as a way to describe much of the regular season for #CelticsExpress. Sure, you could always count on a aimlessly energetic Jesse outburst and a couple of Ott floor dives and even Keefe battling hard around the basket. But there were just so many defensive breakdowns throughout the season. Contests that turned into pickup games, up and down the floor with careless offensive volume. But the talent was always there. Here’s what I said about CE before the season, as first heard on Hangin w/ B Draft’s season preview episode:

    “(Ranking: #3) I think Tenney / Howard is the best guard combo in the league. I think they slightly edge Pollock and Kap. There’s just a bit more versatile of a skill set there. I love Ott at 36, always a great pick. Ruff at 29 was potentially a steal. And then the unknown in Keefe, but I think this team is right at 3.” 

    I classified Keefe as an unknown—he definitely turned out to be a key piece. So even though there were times where this team really struggled on both ends of the floor, there was always the sense that they were a threat, that they could at least score enough to give themselves a good chance. But what changed in the playoffs and particularly in the finals was that their team defense finally made a difference. Casey and Howard didn’t gamble quite as much, which was the right move considering the two they had to guard. CE didn’t have to rotate either onto or away from Clarke or Cavano. Zion did miss a lot of 3s (6/29 – 20.7%) and did collect a lot of offensive rebounds (20), but the first and second shot defense was often pretty good.

    As such, CE quickly jumped out to a 23-10 lead halfway through the 1st. Casey hit 2 early 3s, Jesse had 3 nice assists, and Harry was forced to call a timeout, loudly lamenting the fact that this was the second game in a row they’d gotten down big early: “Let’s play some fucking D!”

    After some early missed 3s (as a part of an 0-9 night from deep), Cavano came out of the timeout hot, leading Zion on a 10-0 run to settle things down. From there, the teams more or less traded shots. Ruff ended up coaching a lot from the sideline, directing the action towards Casey, who found a few mismatches against Nate and Varner. But the first half felt like a case study in how I felt about Zion from the beginning of the season. Two primary scorers, and if they’re struggling…

    “(Ranked #4) I like the combination of Clarke and Cavano, but I think also there are other teams that have the guys to guard those two. It’ll be interesting to see how Nate plays with another squad, as well. I think that’s probably the wild card for me. He’s become accustomed to his guys for the most part, and we’ll see how it goes, how they create offense out of that. But certainly a lot of talent there.”

    Essentially, I was worried about the offense outside of Clarke and Cavano. And with both of them struggling to find their shots, taking too many 3s, we suddenly saw a really inefficient offense from Zion in the first half. Despite Chris finding a little something and Clarke scoring in double figures, CE led 33-23 at the end of the first half.

    *There was a bit of drama in the 1st that I’m sure you’ll all want to hear about. Cavano, already with two fouls, was fighting with Jesse for the ball, and Cavano’s elbow caught Jesse in the face. I mean. I was sorta looking down to record something on my stat sheet. But I find it hard to believe that Chris intentionally hit Jesse in the face. So I thought Jesse was joking when I first saw him launch himself into Chris’s chest. Then he did it again—turns out Jesse wasn’t joking. Jesse — I dunno, buddy. Seemed like a little much. A technical was assessed, and it didn’t seem to affect the rest of the game, although the second half did feel markedly more physical in nature.  

    I can’t say for sure whether it was the increased physicality specifically, but both teams started slowly on the offensive end in the 2nd. The two teams then traded 5-0 runs, and not much had changed. Clarke was looking tired, and Chris picked up his fourth foul with 10 minutes left. It felt like an inflection point. CE was either going to bury Zion, or somehow Harry would conjure up some more playoff magic (that said, it was brought to my attention that Harry has lost his last 4 championship games as a captain, of which I was a player for one — in fact, he WON’T captain in the upcoming B Draft session).

    It sure seemed that way. With the defense keyed on Clarke and Cavano, Russo picked up a couple nice buckets at the rim, Chris absolutely grinded his ass off on the offensive boards, and with those second shots and extra possessions, Zion managed to creep back into it, and they picked up their first lead (I think?) with 3 left in the game at 45-44. Meanwhile, for CE, Casey pretty much became the only option in the 2nd half. He scored 13 of the team’s 22 second half points, and 4 of those 9 points came through end-of-game free throws. And he was making just enough shots and making just enough key plays to keep the wheels from falling off completely.

    The last couple minutes. One possession game. Harry was diving on the floor, Jesse was double dribbling. Had all the makings of a great finish. But Zion just couldn’t hit the shots they needed to, and CE managed to grind out a couple buckets, and then they hit some clutch free throws to seal the deal. Nate hit a 3 at the buzzer, so the final score shows a one possession game.

    And so it was, that all of Jesse’s incessant and seemingly undeserved bluster about how his team was clearly the best in the league came to fruition. Yet again, a low seed takes the B Draft title, and the favorite goes down with a whimper. The drama of another B Draft season, over. #CelticsExpress 55 – Quit Tryin’ for Zion 53 

     

    GRADES

    CELTICSEXPRESS

    Casey (A-) On a difficult night for both offenses, Casey made just enough big shots and finished just enough tough shots at the rim to propel his team to the title. He came out with a lot of energy from the jump, and this season we saw a clear example of what the playoffs can bring out in some of the more talented B Draft guys.

    Keefe (B+) Was the other half of CE’s offensive attack. His shot selection was really good, and he did some good defensive work throughout the game, as well. Not his most dominant, and he’ll continue to get better. He did get out-rebounded big time, and I think moving forward he’ll need to be more of a force on the glass.

    Rondell (B+) Huge free throws down the stretch for Howard, as Harry was calling for his squad to foul him and put him on the line. 3 blocks definitely a good representation of his great defensive work, as he was covering either Clarke or Cavano for a good portion of this one. Not his best offensive performance, which was almost an issue, but his defense was key.

    Ruff (C+) Also a couple of massive free throws down the stretch. But not Ruff’s most effective outing. Didn’t find any open looks, and wasn’t really too much of a factor on either end.

    Jesse (C+) 3 quick assists, so a really strong start, but also was mostly a non-factor after that. Kept trying to go past Harry, which resulted in some tough shots and stalled the ball at times. Did a pretty good job on the defensive glass, but I thought his lack of an offensive contribution put this one in jeopardy. Technical foul also seemed unnecessary a bit.

    Ott (C) Not Ott’s best. Missed a couple of reasonably easy looks, 1 board, a steal, an assist. 

     

    QUIT TRYIN’ FOR ZION

    Harry (B) Harry busted his ass out there, and him getting somewhat unusually fired up seemed to get his guys going. Hit the deck a couple times for loose balls, and played some really good on-ball defense throughout.

    Clarke (B+) Got his numbers, but missed a lot of key looks, ones he normally hits. Hard to not give him a higher grade with this stat line, but such is the burden of being on this squad that struggles to find its offense without him. Clarke has to be a little bit disappointed, but not for a lack of effort. He was understandably tired at the end of this one.

    Cavano (B) Also a tough grade to assign. 10 offensive rebounds arguable kept Zion in the game. But then his 0-9 clip from 3 arguably did the exact opposite. Also worked extremely hard, but in the end, forced a few too many bad shots.

    Nate (B) Shot decently well, and did a good job of distributing to Chris and Kevin, who unfortunately didn’t have their best offensive games. Another really solid season for Nate, and he was that close to winning two in a row after a long drought. Alas.

    Varner (C+) With the rest of the offense struggling, I was a bit surprised at Varner’s stat line — only 2 3pt attempts. One banked in, I believe. A couple of second half offensive boards is nice, but Zion probably could have used a bit more of aggressive Kenny in this one.

    Russo (B-) Positioned himself nicely on a couple of possessions for easy looks, and with Chris eating every rebound in sight, he didn’t have to do as much on the boards. But a rather average game for Russo in the final

    Quit Tryin' for Zion
    Player PTS DRB ORB AST STL Blk TURN FTA FTM FTP 3P 3PM 3PP
    Chris Cavano10510012000NA 900%
    Harry Demakes022101000NA 100%
    Kenny Varner542110000NA 2150%
    Kevin Clarke228533204250% 8225%
    Leon Russo440000000NA 00NA
    Nate Mendes11114000200% 9333%

    @CelticsExpress
    Player PTS DRB ORB AST STL Blk TURN FTA FTM FTP 3P 3PM 3PP
    Casey Tenney2813500109778% 8338%
    Chris Ott001110000NA 00NA
    Damian Ruff22200003267% 00NA
    Grant Keefe1750010000NA 2150%
    Jesse Corwin38030004375% 200%
    Rondell Howard53110306350% 200%

Standings B Draft W19 Thru Week
PTeamRecord%StreakGBPFPA
Backcourt Surprise6-30.667W1067.1162.56
Quit Tryin' for Zion6-30.667W1064.7859.11
GANS5-40.556L1163.4460.33
SLOP TIME 5-40.556W1158.3358.44
SouthPaw Patrol4-50.444W1258.4465.89
Men At Work4-50.444L1259.4457.44
@CelticsExpress4-50.444L1264.0067.00
Jail Blazers2-70.222L1457.6762.44
Points Per Game
1Casey Tenney
@CelticsExpress
24.13
2Kevin Clarke
Quit Tryin' for Zion
22.75
3Sam Pollock
Backcourt Surprise
22.70
4Ryan McAuliffe
SouthPaw Patrol
21.63
5Marc LeBlanc
GANS
20.89
6Manny Sutton
Men At Work
18.90
7Cory Gans
GANS
17.67

Player Rater
1Casey Tenney
@CelticsExpress
63.508
2Kevin Clarke
Quit Tryin' for Zion
58.888
3Sam Pollock
Backcourt Surprise
51.8510
4Matt Kaplan
Backcourt Surprise
51.068
5Manny Sutton
Men At Work
50.3010
6Ryan McAuliffe
SouthPaw Patrol
47.198
7Matt Roberts
Jail Blazers
45.437
8Joel Shaffer
Jail Blazers
43.619
9Chris Cavano
Quit Tryin' for Zion
40.6510
10Ronald Solis
Men At Work
39.509

Rebounds Per Game
1Casey Tenney
@CelticsExpress
16.50
2Pat McGirr
GANS
13.20
3Matt Roberts
Jail Blazers
12.57
4Kevin Clarke
Quit Tryin' for Zion
12.00
5Manny Sutton
Men At Work
11.00
6Ronald Solis
Men At Work
10.56
7Chris Cavano
Quit Tryin' for Zion
9.90

3s Per Game
1Cory Gans
GANS
3.5646%
2Matt Kaplan
Backcourt Surprise
3.0035%
2Casey Tenney
@CelticsExpress
3.0034%
4Kevin Clarke
Quit Tryin' for Zion
2.8846%
5Marc LeBlanc
GANS
2.6746%
6Noah Spaulding
Backcourt Surprise
2.4431%
7Nate Mendes
Quit Tryin' for Zion
2.3634%

Assists Per Game
1Matt Kaplan
Backcourt Surprise
5.88
2Sam Pollock
Backcourt Surprise
4.50
3Manny Sutton
Men At Work
3.90
4Casey Tenney
@CelticsExpress
3.38
4Kevin Clarke
Quit Tryin' for Zion
3.38
6Rondell Howard
@CelticsExpress
3.36
7Matt Roberts
Jail Blazers
3.00
7Nate Mendes
Quit Tryin' for Zion
3.00