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Running on empty: Cavs outmuscle shorthanded Celtics

04.05.13 at 9:55 pm ET
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Life without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett was ugly Friday night. Very ugly.

Second-year big man Tristan Thompson scored 29 points and grabbed 17 rebounds while the Celtics went ice cold in the second half and fell to the lowly Cavaliers, 97-91, Friday night at TD Garden. Pierce missed the game with a sore right ankle while Garnett missed his eighth straight game with inflammation in his left ankle. Cleveland won two of the three meetings this season between the two.

The Cavaliers used the Celtics to snap their 10-game losing streak while Boston fell for the third time in four games. The Celtics fell to 39-37 on the season but did not lose any ground on eight-place Milwaukee, which lost to the Knicks in New York. Boston remains in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, two games ahead of the Bucks in the loss column. Boston has six games remaining, including two games on its current four-game homestand. Jeff Green led the Celtics with 23 points and nine rebounds.

In a first half of unknown and unlikely heroes, it was Tristan Thompson became the latest opposing big man to dominate the Celtics inside. Behind Thompson’s career high in points and rebounds, the Cavaliers outscored the Celtics 52-38 in the paint and outrebounded Boston, 58-42.

Thompson, the second-year player out of Texas, scored 21 points and hauled in 11 rebounds in the first two quarters, as the Cavaliers (23-52) erased an eight-point deficit early in the second quarter, using a 10-0 run to forge a 52-52 halftime tie.

Shav Randolph had the best first half of his NBA career, scoring a career-high 13 points and grabbing five rebounds in the first 15 minutes of the game. But as has often been the case in his short stint with the Celtics, foul trouble limited his time on the court as he picked up three first-half fouls.

The Celtics built a seven-point lead, 62-55, on an Avery Bradley three with 8:13 left in the third. But then the wheels fell off as the Celtics went ice cold. Boston was just 6-for-27 (27.3 percent) from the field. Cleveland went on a 19-3 run to take a 74-65 lead before Jordan Crawford hit a three to cut Cleveland’s lead to 74-68 heading into the fourth.

But Cleveland scored the first eight points of the fourth to take a 14-point lead. Randolph picked up two fouls in a minute in the third quarter and then fouled out with 6:57 left in the fourth. Randolph finished with a career-high 16 points and seven rebounds.

Jason Terry hit a baseline three with 5:46 left to bring Boston within four, 87-83, as the crowd became a factor again. But Thompson’s put-back dunk with five minutes left answered the Celtics run, putting Cleveland back up by six.

With 3:18 left in the game and the Celtics down eight, 91-83, Bradley left the game and headed for the locker room with trainer Ed Lacerte. He suffered a bruised left collar bone and returned to the bench with two minutes left in regulation but did not play. With 2:09 left in the game Green completed a three-point play to draw Boston within four again, 91-87 but an easy alley-oop layup by Tyler Zeller and a jumper by Kyrie Irving with 1:22 left put Cleveland up, 95-87.

The Celtics are off Saturday before returning to action at home on Sunday night (6 p.m.) against the Wizards at TD Garden. Boston concludes its four-game homestand on Wednesday night. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett out for Celtics against Cavaliers

04.05.13 at 7:31 pm ET
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Paul Pierce will miss his second game in a week as the Celtics take on the Cavaliers at TD Garden.

This time, it will be the sore right ankle that is keeping him out of the lineup for precautionary reasons.

“I think he’ll be fine by Sunday,” Rivers said before Friday’s game.

Pierce, who missed Monday’s game in Minnesota for the birth of his first son, Prince Paul Pierce, on Tuesday night, was held out by coach Doc Rivers after Pierce complained of soreness in the foot.

Pierce was first spotted with a wrap on his right ankle in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Pierce is missing just his third game this season, having played in 73 of the previous 75.

Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett missed his eighth straight game, still dealing with inflammation and bone spurs in his left ankle. Rivers is hopeful to have him back for practice on Saturday and possibly in the game against Washington on Sunday evening.

“Most likely [he'll play Sunday] but I’m just saying that to give you an answer,” Rivers told reporters.

For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA, Paul Pierce

Jeff Green on M&M: ‘I’m finding my role’ with Celtics

04.04.13 at 1:07 pm ET
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Celtics forward Jeff Green checked in with Mut & Merloni to discuss his recent stellar play, the difficulty teams will face when playing the Celtics when Kevin Garnett comes back, and the firing of Rutgers coach Mike Rice.

On Tuesday, ESPN’s Outside the Lines aired several hours of footage of Rice’s disgraceful behavior during Rutgers basketball practices, including various forms of physical and verbal abuse toward his players. Rice was fired the following day.

“You don’t want to believe it because you don’t want to see anything like that,” Green said. “He’s fired now, there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s in the past, you just got to move on from it. Coach Rice had his tactics of how he handled his players and now he’s suffering the consequences from it.

“When you’re dealing with college kids, you don’t want to kill their confidence, and I think he did that to a lot of the players with his language, his verbal abuse, and the physical abuse from pushing and throwing the ball.”

With the season-ending injury to Rajon Rondo, as well as the continued aging of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Green’s role has changed. He now is typically viewed as the focal point of the Celtics offense.

“When I first got traded here, I didn’t know my role,” Green said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what I was going to be able to do on the floor. So, compared to now, the floor’s just wide open. … I’m finding my role and I’m playing it to the best of my ability.”

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Read More: Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett, Mike Rice, Paul Pierce

Doc Rivers on D&C: Jeff Green ‘starting to take off’

04.04.13 at 10:05 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and talked about the final month of the regular season, the Mike Rice controversy at Rutgers, and how he almost played for Bobby Knight at Indiana.

The Celtics clinched a playoff berth Wednesday with a 98-93 victory over the Pistons. Jeff Green scored 34 points and hit a key 3-pointer in the final minute, continuing his resurgence after sitting out last season following heart surgery.

“He missed a year last year. You just don’t walk back on the court and play well, especially with the injury that he had,” Rivers said. “I just think it took some time. This is the next phase of his career, and he’s starting to take off.”

The Celtics head into the home stretch of the regular season looking to take advantage of some well-timed off days.

“This is a great stretch here,” Rivers said. “I hope we can really improve out team over this next week, because we practice [and] days off. So it’s a pretty good stretch here for us to try to get some improvement in.

Kevin Garnett remains out with an ankle injury, but Rivers said he expects the team’s inspirational leader to return in time to get some games under his belt before the playoffs.

“He’ll play soon,” Rivers said. “I don’t know if he’ll play Friday, but I think he’ll be playing pretty soon.”

The big news in the basketball world this week was the reaction to the videotape of since-fired Rutgers coach Mike Rice abusing players in practices.

“I did see the video and it was just shocking,” Rivers said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that in any practice that I’ve been in. ‘€¦ I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Added Rivers: “I don’t know coach Rice at all. But obviously I think when he saw that, you understand that he probably changed as well, which is a good thing for him. But that was hard to watch. And I just felt for those kids. Because the college kids, they go to college and their careers are in coaches’ hands. So, they will not complain no matter how bad things are, because they all have this dream of making it to the NBA, and they don’t want to be they guy, that guy that started a scandal and get the black mark. So, they can really be taken advantage of. In that case, they were.”

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Read More: Bobby Knight, Doc Rivers, Isiah Thomas, Jeff Green

Jeff Green and Paul Pierce: ‘We’re two lethal threats’

04.04.13 at 1:19 am ET
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Jeff Green has earned a starting spot on the Celtics.

He’s been downright dominant offensively in 11 spot starts for a resting Paul Pierce and an injured Kevin Garnett, so come playoff time, all three should be in the starting lineup. Even Celtics coach Doc Rivers seemed to concede that it’s “very possible” Green and Pierce start on the wings once Garnett returns.

“We’€™re playing off each other,” said Green, who scored 34 points to go with Pierce’s 17 in a 98-93 win over a Pistons team that had no matchup answers. “We’€™re two lethal threats on the perimeter and in the low post, so teams have to make a decision on how they want to play us. Either one of us is going to have a nice matchup.”

Added Pierce: “You’€™ve seen a lot of flashes of that this year. A lot of teams come into these games really focused on what I’m trying to do in the scouting report. When you’ve got a guy like Jeff who can put up big numbers like that and take over a game, it’s fun. It’s fun to watch and be a part of.”

In the final 9:06 of a game that shouldn’t have been so close, Pierce and Green scored 17 straight points until a pair of Jason Terry free throws sealed the deal in the final seconds. Green scored 11 of the C’s final 13 points. But don’t confuse his aggressiveness in Garnett’s absence a passing of the torch just yet.

“I’€™m not trying to take over games,” said Green, who added five boards and four blocks. “That’€™s why we’€™ve got The Truth. I’€™m playing off of him. We’€™re looking for each other. We’€™re being aggressive. If it’€™s in my hands, I’€™m trying to make a play. If it’€™s in his hands, he’€™s going to make a play, so we’€™ve just got to play off each other.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett, NBA

Paul Pierce celebrates birth of first son Prince Pierce in a clinching win

04.03.13 at 11:20 pm ET
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Paul Pierce let word slip to WEEI’s Grande & Max after Wednesday’s win over the Pistons that the reason for his absence on Monday was to be on hand for the birth of his first son.

“At 8:21 p.m. [Tuesday], Prince Paul Pierce was born,” Pierce announced proudly to the Celtics broadcasters after a 98-93 win over the Pistons. “In the next 18 years Celtics fans, look out.”

Prince Pierce was welcomed into the world and Pierce was a game-time decision for Wednesday’s game.

Pierce scored 17 points and dished out five assists in Boston’s 98-93 win over the Pistons, a win that clinched the playoffs for a sixth straight season.

Pierce also celebrated the 34-point performance of Jeff Green, who is helping to pick up the load without Kevin Garnett. The Celtics improved to 3-4 in seven games since Garnett went down with inflammation in his left ankle, inflammation reportedly caused by bone spurs.

‘€œI mean it’€™s very tough,” Pierce said. “You’€™ve got a guy [Green] who’€™s taking it upon himself in these types of situations to step up, along with myself, along with Jason Terry. So it’€™s nice to see, just to have that dimension.

“You have seen a lot of flashes of that this year. A lot of times teams come into this game really focused on what I’€™m trying to do and the scouting report. And you’€™ve got a guy like Jeff who can put up big numbers like that, who can take over like that. It’€™s fun, it’€™s fun to watch and to be a part of.’€

How does it feel for Pierce to have playoffs locked up?

‘€œWe knew we were a playoff team before the season started, you know despite the injuries and everything,” he said. “Right now, we just want to focus on continuing to play well going into the playoffs.’€

On nearly blowing an 18-point lead: ‘€œWell, yeah. We had a [18]-point lead there late in the third. With like a minute to go they trimmed it to seven. You know, I think we just made things a little more difficult than they were suppose to be. Guys have got to be ready when they come in the game, to step up. I thought we let them back into the game a little too easy. They out-rebounded us, they pushed us around. The one constant I say we can have regardless if our shots fall is our defensive rebounding and we didn’€™t just do a good job in that department tonight.’€

On playing without KG until playoffs: ‘€œWell there’€™s some value in winning and there’€™s also a lot of value in getting some of these other guys some playing time and some confidence going into the playoffs. The playoffs is a totally different game, it’€™s nothing like the regular season. But at least these guys will go out there and get there feet wet. See some shots go in, rebound the ball and get some experience while they’€™re out there.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, Paul Pierce, Prince Pierce

Fast Break: Jeff Green drives Celtics over Pistons

04.03.13 at 10:14 pm ET
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Jeff Green scored a game-high 34 points — including a dagger 3-pointer with 45 seconds left — Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass each added 17, and the Kevin Garnett-less Celtics beat the Pistons, 98-93. A 76ers loss locked the C’s into the playoffs, and a Bucks loss gave them a 2.5-game cushion over the eight seed.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Slump busting: In an attempt to emerge from his recent shooting struggles, Avery Bradley came out firing for the second straight game, and it’s working. He made 6-of-11 jumpers against the Timberwolves on Monday in his highest-scoring night since March 5. And he followed that up with a 5-of-6 night on jump shots against the Pistons. In his 13 previous games, Bradley made just 22-of-70 attempts (30 percent) from beyond 10 feet.

Green Day: Once again, Green shined in his seventh straight start for the injured Garnett. He entered Wednesday’s game averaging 21.4 points (55 FG%), 5.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals in 10 starts this season. He added six rebounds and four blocks to his 34 points on 13-of-19 shooting against the Pistons. Five-man Celtics units featuring Green were a combined plus-152, and all but one of them were in the black, according to 82games.com’s most recent updated on March 21.

(In a related note, Doc Rivers told Celtics sideline reporter Greg Dickerson “he is 100 percent confident that KG will be healthy and ready to go for the playoffs.)

Defending their honor: Somehow, the Celtics lost their two previous games to Detroit this season by a combined 35 points, allowing 103 points each time. This time around, sans Garnett, the C’s held the Pistons to 36.6 percent shooting (16.7 3P%), as pitbulls Bradley and Courtney Lee held Detroit’s starting backcourt to 7-of-26 from the field. Of course, Bass’s 17 points on eight shots and seven boards didn’t hurt, either.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Paint job: The Pistons scored their first 12 points in the paint. Here’s how it went down: Andre Drummond from 6 feet, Greg Monroe layup, Kyle Singler layup, Drummond layup, Monroe layup and Rodney Stuckney layup. Not good. Detroit out-rebounded the C’s 8-0 on the offensive glass (Drummond 5), scored 18-of-30 first-quarter points in the key and took a five-point edge on Monroe’s eight points, four rebounds and three assists. Also not good. When all was said and done, Detroit outscored the Celtics 58-28 in the paint.

Sloppy second half: With 3:49 left in the third quarter, the Celtics took a 74-56 lead on Chris Wilcox‘s one and only bucket. That’s the good news. The bad: The Pistons closed the third quarter on an 11-0 run thanks to nine points from Monroe and Jonas Jerebko. When Jerebko (19 points) converted a 3-point play to start the fourth quarter, the C’s 18-point lead was trimmed to four, and the teams had themselves a ballgame.

Extra chances: The Celtics shot 50.7 percent from the field. The Pistons shot 36.6 percent. So, how in the heck was it a three-point game midway through the fourth quarter? Turnovers, for one. The C’s committed 16 of them, leading to 20 Detroit points. And offensive rebounds. The Pistons grabbed almost as many offensive boards (25) as defensive (27), giving the visitors 22 more shots for the game.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Jeff Green, NBA
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