|11.02.12 at 6:59 pm ET|
|11.02.12 at 11:29 am ET|
WALTHAM — In the labor-shortened 2011-12 NBA season, the Celtics were 24-9 at home on the parquet. They were 8-2 at the Garden in the playoffs.
But the sour taste from the last game they played before the home crowd remains. With a chance to eliminate the Heat on their home court, they came up flat, losing, 98-79, to LeBron James and company.
Everyone in attendance remembers the fans at the end of the game chanting “Let’s Go Celtics” and the players haven’t forgotten either, as they take the same court for the first time in a meaningful game since then tonight when they host the Bucks in the home opener.
“We’re excited,” Paul Pierce said. “We’re excited to be at home, especially after taking a loss in the first game so hopefully, we can come back home and establish ourselves. That’s going to be the emphasis this year – establish ourselves at home. No team should be able to come in here and get any wins. Our goal is to keep our home court clean so it can be an intimidating factor when they come to the Garden.”
“We had a tough year last year,” Rajon Rondo said. “Other than that, I think years in the past the Garden has been a tough place to play in.”
The team that will be trying to spoil the Celtics home opening party tonight is the Milwaukee Bucks, led by the dynamic duo backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. The Bucks will be playing their regular season opener tonight.
“I know they’ve got two explosive guards in the backcourt and I think a lot of things start with them,” Pierce said. “I’m very familiar with Ilyasova [Ersan Ilyasova] and that’s pretty much that core. They have good role players in Dunleavy [Mike Dunleavy] and more than capable guys like Drew Gooden so they pose a threat for us. They gave us trouble last year from what I remember so they have a good, talented team. This is their first game so they’ll be hungry to get out to a good start.”
“They’re a scrappy team,” Rondo added. “They play with a lot of intensity on defense. Jennings and Monta is their backcourt. That’s their firepower. Courtney [Courtney Lee] and I will have our hands full but it will be a team effort to win the game.”
|11.02.12 at 10:08 am ET|
That was evident during the TNT telecast of Tuesday night’s season-opening loss in Miami.
He was wearing a microphone and barking out calls on the floor and words of encouragement to Rajon Rondo when things weren’t always going well.
On Thursday, before the Celtics home opener tonight against the Bucks, he was barking out something else.
“The defense has got to come a lot faster, and that’s something that’s come a lot faster in the past than the offense,” Pierce said of Boston’s 120 points allowed in a 120-107 loss to the Heat. “I’m pretty surprised we scored 107 points, to tell you the truth. Usually, the defense, we pick it up pretty fast. We understand our schemes, our rotations. But I just think we have to understand the type of atmosphere it was going to be. Some of the guys have never been in that atmosphere before, first game, playing against the defending champs on the road. We have to pick up our intensity, understand the moment, understand where we’re at and understand the type of game it’s going to be and raise our game.”
Doc Rivers thought his coaching staff had too much time to prepare and filled their players’ minds with too much information.
“I think our on-ball defense was average because our help defense was worse,” Rivers said. “If everybody is up guarding their own man and there’s no help and guys see gaps [in the defense], they’re taking it. What really upset us, every key guy got every shot he wanted, where they wanted the whole, and that’s a bad defensive night.
“It was team wide. It was spread. Like I told them, from the coaching standpoint, I thought we had way too much time to prepare for it and we put way too much stuff in their head. I thought they were thinking more than playing on instinct. I told our coaches we share in that. We had them doing a couple of different things and that’s not who we are defensively.” Read the rest of this entry »
|11.01.12 at 4:27 pm ET|
After Rondo wrapped his left arm around Wade’s collar in the waning seconds of a game already in Miami’s hand on Tuesday night, the Heat guard called his Boston counterpoint out for what he interpreted as “a punk play.”
“I got my kids watching so I stopped myself but it was a punk play by him,” said Wade. “He clotheslined me.”
He added: “I’m here to play basketball. If you want to do something else, then go do something else. Boxing, this is not it. I was glad I was able to stop myself in that very moment and move on from it. We’ll see next time we play.”
After C’s practice on Thursday, Rondo responded, recalling a certain play in Game 3 of the 2011 Eastern Conference semifinals, when Wade pulled him to the floor and dislocated his elbow.
‘I don’t think it was a hard foul,’ said Rondo, referring to Tuesday’s flagrant-1 on Wade. “He sold it a little bit, and that’s basketball. They were up, he drove to the hole and I didn’t want to give up a layup. Simple as that. I didn’t yank him down or dirty plays that you’ve seen him play in the past, so that’s what it is.’
Wade didn’t get whistled for a flagrant on Rondo two seasons ago, but that’s a different argument about superstar calls and whether the Celtics point guard fits that bill among NBA officials. As for which play was dirtier, it’s simple: Wade walked to the free throw line unharmed; Rondo walked off the floor clutching his arm in excruciating pain.
|11.01.12 at 10:29 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis and Callahan Show Thursday morning to discuss his relationship with Ray Allen, the Celtics’ season-opening loss to the Heat, how he viewed his team going forward. (To listen to the entire interview, click here.)
STATE OF THE TEAM
I’m a little disappointed in it because we’re behind. They’re working. We’re going to get it right, it’s just going to take a little time.
With defense, you first have to have the buy-in, which I think we have, and then the trust. Then the execution. I think we’re in the execution faze. When you have so many different guys and new guys, when things don’t go right, their first thought is to do another coverage and when you do that on your own you’re team defense breaks down.
HOW IS THE TEAM WITHOUT RAY ALLEN
We replaced Ray nicely, but having said that they’re going to make a big deal about it because Ray is a good player. He’s probably going to be a Hall-of-Famer, one of the greatest shooters who ever played the game and won a title with us. When a guy leaves and goes to the team that knocked you out the last two years, I think people make a big deal of it. I get that part of it. But we’ve moved on, and I’ve moved on the minute Ray said he wanted to go play for Miami.
I think we’re potentially better, but I don’t think we are right now. The continuity of our team has to settle in. On paper it looks great, but the key for us is everyone buying into their roles and understanding their roles. I think before the season starts everyone is happy, and then the season starts and you start figuring out, ‘Wait, I’m not going to get as many shots or as many minutes.’ Then you have what kind of character you have with your team.
You just don’t know guys until you coach guys. I will say this, I think we’ve got a great group of guys. I don’t anticipate that being a problem, but you never know.
VIEWING THE NEW BACKCOURT ROTATION
Lee is a terrific defender, makes open shots, has a nice in-between game. You don’t need to run offense for him to score, he’ll score through the offense. And when you have Rondo, who I’ll need to be more aggressive, with Kevin and Paul, that’s a pretty good role in that lineup. It’s really the same thing Avery gave for us last year, the same kind of fit. Jason Terry is a shot-maker. He’s a guy who can create his own shot, he can create his shot through offense, and that’s great. The same thing with Barbosa, he just has tremendous feet. I think Barbosa will be used as a change-of-pace guy. When he comes in, I told him before the Miami game, because there was no way he knew half our sets, ‘Just go try and score. Just be as aggressive as possible, and I will call you back if you go over the line if I think you’re over the line.’ And I think he did a pretty good job of that.
|10.31.12 at 4:32 pm ET|
– On seven shots, Ray Allen scored 19 points (2-3 3P, 7-8 FT) against his former team. Not good. Not good at all. Allen delivered his first dagger — a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner — 1:03 into his 30:35 on the floor thanks to a missed defensive assignment by Jason Terry. So much for Terry’s “Ray Allen who?” routine.
Doc Rivers (via ESPN.com): “You can live with LeBron [James] and [Dwyane] Wade making jump shots, but the first play I think Ray was on the floor, we leave him by himself in the corner. You’d think we would know better.”
Translation: “We made dumb plays on defense. That’s why we gave up 31 points in three consecutive quarters.”
– When the Celtics signed Leandro Barbosa two weeks ago, Rivers already understood what his newest backcourt ingredient brought to the recipe: Instant offense. Directions are simple: If trailing by double digits late, insert Barbosa. And results are appetizing: 16 points (6-8 FG, 3-3 3P) and a 19-point lead trimmed to two.
Rivers (via Celtics.com): ‘If you get in a scoring contest and Barbosa’s on the floor, you’re going to feel pretty good about it,’ said Rivers. ‘Because that’s how he’s played. That’s how he’s used to playing.’
Translation: “I trust veterans. Barbosa is a veteran. Therefore, I trust Barbosa.”
|10.31.12 at 3:56 pm ET|
No one saw this coming this quick.
Leandro Barbosa was signed on Oct. 18 as another scoring threat off the bench who is also capable of handling the ball when Rondo is not on the floor.
On Tuesday night, it was not Jason Terry, Jared Sullinger or Jeff Green who was big off the Celtics bench. All three frankly struggled. It was Barbosa – the Brazilian beast – who exploded for 16 points in 16 minutes, making six of his eight shots from the floor and running with Rondo in the fast break.
“He was terrific,” Doc Rivers said. “If you get into a scoring contest and Barbosa’s on the floor, you’re going to feel pretty good about it. that’s how he’s played, that’s how he’s used to playing. I love him, the way he attacks. He’s clearly not scared of the moment. He bailed us out. We got back in that game down the stretch and it was because Barbosa was on the floor.”
Indeed, Barbosa entered the game with 16.1 seconds left in the third quarter and played the entire fourth quarter, leading the Celtics from 19 points down to just a four-point deficit, 111-107, with two minutes left. Barbosa scored all 16 of his points in the final quarter, making quite the impression.
And it also creates quite the decision for Rivers to consider. Green played 18 minutes in the first three quarters but when Kevin Garnett came in for Green with 7:06 left in the fourth quarter, making just three free throws and missing all four field goal attempts. Terry wasn’t much better on this night, going 2-for-7 from the field with eight points in 28 minutes.
But read between the lines in what Rivers said about Terry and apply it to the bench overall, and you get an idea of the patience Rivers plans to apply early in the season while he finds the right mixes and matches off the bench.
“Not great but there’s 81 more,” Rivers said. “He’ll make up for it.”