|03.13.13 at 7:34 pm ET|
The shockwaves from the Wes Welker signing in Denver extended not only beyond New England but beyond the NFL.
Just ask Doc Rivers. The Celtics head coach is a close friend of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and was the guest of the Patriots coach on Dec. 10 when the Patriots beat the Texans on Monday night football at Gillette Stadium.
So, Rivers, who grew up a Bears fan, actually felt badly for Patriots fans and acknowledged as much before the Celtics hosted Toronto Wednesday night at TD Garden, just hours after Welker’s seismic signing with the Broncos.
‘Say it ain’t so, Wes,’ Rivers said in opening his pre-game press availability Wednesday night.
But the most interesting part of Rivers’ reaction came later when asked if he ever talked about team building and keeping it together. Rivers compared Welker’s exit to that of Ray Allen to the Miami Heat.
‘We lost Ray, it feels like, the same way that they lost Wes,’ Rivers said. ‘We wanted him, we did everything we could, and somehow they go somewhere else.’
The similarity is striking. Allen left via free agency for Boston’s chief rival and defending champion Miami Heat. Welker is now going to the Broncos and playing with Peyton Manning, New England’s biggest rival behind the Ravens in the AFC.
‘Just like we wanted Ray to stay, I know they wanted Wes to stay,’ said Rivers. ‘It just sometimes doesn’t work out.’
For more, visit the Celtics and Patriots team pages at weei.com/celtics and weei.com/patriots.
|03.12.13 at 10:22 pm ET|
Midway through the disaster that was a 100-74 no-show loss to the Bobcats in North Carolina, Rivers was thinking he didn’t go far enough. Kevin Garnett played 20 minutes, but struggled badly again, going 2-for-10 from the field.
“Yeah, definitely, otherwise he’d been part of that,” Rivers said when asked if he thought he did the right thing in giving Pierce the night off. “What I was thinking was I wish I had given Kevin the night off, too, in the middle of the game. That would’ve been terrific because then we could’ve had two guys that got some rest.”
As for Garnett, who is 8-for-29 in losses to the Thunder and Bobcats, Rivers says it’s a matter of getting him better looks.
“We’ve got to get him a better rhythm,” said Rivers, who refuted speculation that Garnett was tired or injured. “He’s been in a [bad] way now for a while now and that’s more on us. We have to get him the right shots and we’re not do a very good job of that.”
Rivers said he could sense early that his team had the wrong approach with Pierce getting the night off.
“I just thought we approached the game with the wrong mentality,” Rivers said. “I thought we were really cool tonight and they were really hard. And then I thought everyone thought they were going to take up for Paul’s points instead of coming into the game with the right mentality. You grind games out, you move the ball, you defend.”
“You could see it early on. Our guys thought we can trade baskets,” Rivers said. “They score, we can score right back on them but we couldn’t do that. We fouled a lot. We shot 50 percent in the first half and basically fouled every time down, it felt like. And Gerald Henderson looked at whoever was guarding him and said, ‘I’m better than you tonight,’ and proved that.”
Even though his team was outscored 51-28 in the second half, Rivers didn’t want to read too much into the second loss to coach Mike Dunlap and his Bobcats in a month.
“I just thought we laid an egg,” Rivers said. “I thought it was a by-product of the first half, honestly. It just carried over. We never could get it started. They played really hard. I tell you, every time I watch them, you look at their record, you have to give Mike a lot of credit, especially with the young guys. They played so hard and we, honestly, just couldn’t match how hard they played tonight for whatever reason. That’s on me. That’s disappointing that I couldn’t get that out of our guys. But we clearly did not.
“They were so much more competitive than us the entire night. It felt like we had a band-aid on the dam in the first half and then it came off, and they just blew it open.
“It’s one game. I’m not going to overdo it. Listen, we were awful tonight. Our spirit was awful, the way we played was awful but we also have to look at our team as a whole. We haven’t had a lot of nights like that. I’m not happy with the way the game went but overall, I like our team.”
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|03.12.13 at 9:22 pm ET|
Gerald Henderson scored a career-high 35 points and Josh McRoberts dominated with 13 points and 10 rebounds as the lowly Charlotte Bobcats ended a 10-game losing streak with a 100-74 laugher over the Celtics Monday night at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte.
Playing without captain Paul Pierce, given the night off by coach Doc Rivers, the Celtics came out and played one of their most uninspired games of the season. Jeff Green got the start for Pierce and led the Celtics with 14 points. Kevin Garnett had another ice-cold game, finishing just 2-for-10 from the field and finishing with five points. Garnett, who is 8-for-29 in losses to the Thunder and Bobcats, will head into Wednesday’s game needing just five points to pass Jerry West for 15th place on the NBA all-time scoring list.
Similar to Garnett on Feb. 22 in Phoenix, Pierce – the team’s leading scorer – was given the night off after playing in Boston’s previous 62 games. Pierce, who has been battling a nerve problem in his neck, has also been averaging over six assists a game in the absence of Rajon Rondo.
Nowhere was the lack of effort more obvious than on the glass, where the Celtics were outrebounded by the Bobcats, 48-29.
The Bobcats (14-50) entered the game with a 10-game losing streak, including seven straight by an average score of 14 points. They also ended the Celtics’ seven-game win streak on Feb. 11, making Boston one of just four teams to lose to the Bobcats twice this season. The Celtics will have their chance at revenge on Saturday night when they host Charlotte at TD Garden.
Henderson scored at will in the first half, as the son of the former Celtics guard scored 21 points and the Bobcats built a 49-46 lead. Henderson hit a jumper at the halftime buzzer to give Charlotte the three-point advantage.
The Celtics came out sluggishly in the third quarter and allowed Charlotte to open the second half on a 12-3 run. Garnett continued to be ice cold from the field, carrying over his performance from Sunday when he was 6-for-19 against the Thunder in Oklahoma City.
Down 20, 83-63, Rivers pulled the plug on Garnett with 10 minutes left. Shav Randolph and DJ White saw their first action in a Celtics uniform. The Celtics had a season-worst 27 field goals and scored just 28 points in the second half. Boston (34-29) was embarrassed 51-28 in the second half in losing their second straight game.
The Celtics return home to take on the Raptors on Wednesday night at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|03.10.13 at 3:39 pm ET|
Kevin Durant scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while former Boston College star Reggie Jackson hit a couple of key baskets off the bench as the Thunder ended the Celtics‘ five-game winning streak with a 91-79 win Sunday afternoon at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 20 points while Kevin Garnett added 10. But Garnett, who hit four of his first eight shots, missed 10 in a row at one point, including his first eight of the second half as Boston fell short in their bid to sweep the Thunder, who improved to 47-16. The biggest difference in the game came at the free throw line, as the Thunder hit 27-of-33 shots while Boston attempted just 20, making 14.
The Celtics (34-28) hung in with No. 2 seed in the West, overcoming a pair of 10-0 runs by the Thunder in the first half to trail by just five points at halftime, 50-45. After shooting 51 percent in the first half, the Celtics went ice cold in the second half, making just 10-of-40 shots in the second half. They finished shooting just 37.7 percent (29-of-77) from the field.
The Celtics turned up the defensive pressure in the third quarter, holding the Thunder to just 18 points and cutting Oklahoma City’s lead to three, 68-65, heading into the fourth quarter.
But the Celtics went ice cold to start the fourth. Oklahoma City opened on a 10-2 run, highlighted by a jumper by Jackson as the shot clock expired. He changed his shot in mid-air and double-pumped to connect.
The Celtics missed 15 of their first 17 shots of the quarter while the Thunder built their biggest lead, 87-73, on a Durant baseline jumper with 3:13 left. But the Celtics responded with six straight points to get the lead down to eight with 2:20 left. After a defensive stop, the Celtics appeared to get the ball back with 1:44 left and a chance to cut the lead even more. But a replay overturned a ball out of bounds off Jason Terry and the Thunder got the ball back with a new shot clock.
The Celtics forced the Thunder to use all 24 seconds without allowing the Thunder to get a shot off. Jeff Green‘s 3-point attempted rimmed out with 59 seconds left. The Thunder got the next basket with 37.4 seconds remaining on a layup by Serge Ibaka to put Thunder up, 89-79, and ice the game.
The Celtics are off Monday before taking on the Bobcats in Charlotte on Tuesday night.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|03.09.13 at 1:27 am ET|
Josh Smith was in Boston, so naturally it was time to ask Josh Smith about the latest Josh Smith to the Celtics trade rumors. It’s like an annual rite of passage for the Hawks forward whose contract expires at season’s end.
Leading up to the Feb. 21 trade deadline, this season’s rumors had either Celtics captain Paul Pierce or a package of Jeff Green and Brandon Bass headed to Atlanta in exchange for Smith’s services. Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday that the C’s, Hawks and Mavericks nearly pulled the trigger on a three-team deal that would have brought Smith to Boston for Pierce and a first-round pick.
Of course, Smith also almost landed on the Nets and Bucks, among other places.
“It was a possibility of me going a lot of places,” Smith said after his near triple-double (32 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds) in Boston, “but I’m here and I’m focusing on what’s at stake right now. I’m trying to get a little higher playoff position, so I am not worried about anything else but winning games for this organization and this team.”
Generally, the logic goes something like this: Smith and Rajon Rondo were amazingly entertaining high school teammates, and they’re still best friends, so the C’s are a natural fit for a guy the Hawks probably won’t re-sign.
“That’s my friend, so we talk almost every day,” Smith said of the injured Celtics point guard. “We don’t talk about surgery. We just talk about friendship stuff, off-the-court stuff. That’s the least of both of our concerns. It’s a far-fetched injury, so right now we’re just focusing on staying positive.”
(Aside: Somehow I doubt his ACL tear is the least of Rondo’s concerns, and I can assure you it’s not far-fetched.)
Perhaps they discuss the C’s surprising 14-4 record sans Rondo, including Friday’s overtime win over his Hawks?
“They’re a successful basketball team, and they know how to win,” said Smith. “They have a lot of professionals on that team. They have some players that have won championship rings on their team, so I’m not surprised.”
What about those pesky trade rumors? Surely, Smith and Rondo discuss those in their daily phone conversations.
“We don’t talk about that,” finished Smith. “We don’t talk about that.”
OK, then. Nothing to see here. Move along. Until the next time Smith rolls into Boston, I’m sure.
|03.09.13 at 12:28 am ET|
After the Celtics improved to 14-4 since the season-ending injury to his friend and Celtics teammate Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett faced questions about whether the season has taken on a special feel in recent weeks.
“Special?” he asked.
The question — a legitimate one given the circumstances — was asked again.
“We haven’t given in to the [expletive] critics,” said Garnett, who finished with 17 points and seven boards in the 107-102 overtime win over the Hawks. “We’re working hard. We’re grinding. We’re showing our character. Our coach is a grinder himself, and his team is just that. We’re not looking for any handouts or sympathies or anything like that. We don’t expect anybody to give us nothing. We’re going out, working hard and gaining everything we’re getting. We’re giving ourselves a chance every night. We’re leaning on each other. We’re playing together.
“I could probably better answer your question later on in the postseason to see where were at. It’s still early. Everybody’s fighting for positioning. Everybody pretty much has the same road at this point, so it’s kind of early.”
As much as things have changed, some things never do. We’ve officially entered the part of the season where KG begins calling out the critics who doubted the Celtics throughout the first half of the season. Remember this?
“Never count us out,” Garnett said when the C’s clinched a fifth straight Atlantic Division title last April. “You guys called us old. Over. I read some of your pathetic articles and some of your lousy analysis. It’s a pain. Obviously, you don’t know what drives us. I thank y’all for those articles. I appreciate it, because it lit a fire under us.”
As for last night, Garnett had plenty more to say on a range of topics, and as usual it was all entertaining:
|03.08.13 at 10:50 pm ET|
The over-35 crew of Paul Pierce (27 points), Jason Terry (19) and Kevin Garnett (17) combined for 63 points, 19 rebounds and 14 assists, leading the Celtics to their fifth straight win — 107-102 over the Hawks in overtime — and helped the C’s keep pace with the Bulls in the Eastern Conference seeding race.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Piercing hot: In the first quarter, Pierce made his first four buckets, including two 3-pointers, to finish with 12 points in the opening 12 minutes. Of course, he missed his easiest shot of the frame — a layup as time expired — but his shooting set the tone for the C’s 28-point quarter. Garnett and Avery Bradley also started a combined 4-of-6.
And more Pierce: The captain dropped back-to-back 18-foot jumpers late in the fourth quarter to keep pace with a furious Atlanta comeback. In overtime, he drained a 27-footer with a hand in his face to regain the lead with 1:37 remaining. And he assisted on Terry’s 3 that gave the C’s a 105-102 lead a minute later. Basically, he did it all.
Board to death: The Hawks started big against the Celtics with Josh Smith, Al Horford and Johan Petro in the frontcourt. While Horford and Smith combined for 20 points, 9 rebounds and six assists in the first half, the Celtics owned a 19-16 rebounding edge, didn’t allow a single second-chance point and took a 52-47 lead into halftime. That margin got flipped on its heels in the second half, when the Hawks made their comeback, and the Hawks star tandem totaled 54 points, 21 boards and 14 assists to give Atlanta a 41-35 rebounding edge.
KG being KG: Regardless of which lineup Celtics coach Doc Rivers pieced around Garnett, the C’s center made the most of his 35 minutes. He started 7-of-11 from the field — including a 3 in a second straight game that even got him excited — to go along with his eight boards and two dimes. When the Hawks cut the lead to two starting the fourth quarter, Garnett seemingly had a hand in every play, including a beautiful assist to a cutting Courtney Lee and a driving baby hook over Horford that pushed the lead back to 12.