|12.13.13 at 8:40 am ET|
The three-day former Celtics reunion tour ended Thursday night in Brooklyn, where Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett led their Nets to a 102-93 victory against Doc Rivers‘ Clippers, and naturally it was a mutual love-fest.
Quotes courtesy of the New York Post.
Pierce: “I grew under him. I was a young player, played nine years with him, just continued to mature and become a better all-around player under him. Before I was really known as a scorer; now when he took over he taught me the other parts of the game, the defense, the rebounding, the passing, just helped my game grow and mature.”
Garnett: “He taught us a lot about not just basketball and the philosophies of it, but about being a young man, a young black man, understanding your responsibilities, because we were starting our families. [He’s] just overall a great model. No one’s perfect, all humans have their flaws or whatever; but shoot, he’s damn near close to it. I’m just grateful he came into my life and that I had that experience to him.”
Those two remarks offer a reminder of the one significant difference between Rivers and new Celtics coach Brad Stevens. Doc is revered by veterans. Those who know Rivers love and respect him, and those who don’t hear stories from the ones who do. That helps when a team is trying to lure high-profile players. Stevens may get there one day, but it takes years to develop that type of cache, and that’s what the C’s will miss most in Rivers’ absence.
|12.11.13 at 10:56 pm ET|
Doc Rivers held back tears as he addressed the media after facing the Celtics for the first time.
“I’m still emotional. I though the fans were … it was just a really nice day. It’s just such a classy place here. So, it was really nice when I walked out — and I’m not used to walking out on that side — and all those people lined up. I was basically useless for the first 18 minutes of the game, I thought.
“It was just nice. It didn’t surprise me, because that’s just the way they are. You’ve got to live here to understand it. It’s an amazing fan base. It really is. And I just want everything to go well for them.
“That was hard. That was hard. Every time they were taking the ball out, one of their guys — Jeff [Green] and everyone — was talking to you, and you’re trying to keep focus. It’s funny. I told my coaches I needed halftime far more than the players, and I think they sensed that. You could see at halftime CP [Chris Paul] was like, ‘We got it. We got it.’ He kept saying that. So, I think they sensed that a little bit from me, and that was nice.
“I’ll tell you: Boy, this is such a neat place. I tell people all the time — people don’t get Boston. They really don’t. They don’t understand. And I think you have to be a part of it to get it. I really do. I don’t think you can get it from the outside. It’s just a special, different place. People are born here and raised here, and they cheer for their teams, and they love their athletes. And it’s just a great place to be. The best decision I ever made was 10 years ago, when I decided to come. That was the best decision I ever made.”
|12.11.13 at 9:57 pm ET|
Celtics fans thanked Doc Rivers with a standing ovation during a video tribute after the first quarter, and how did he repay his former organization? Guiding his Clippers to a 96-88 victory in his first game since leaving Boston.
Jeff Green (29 points), Brandon Bass (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Jordan Crawford (20 points, 9 assists) all had themselves a game against their former coach, but it wasn’t enough to help the Celtics avoid a second straight loss.
Not the greatest reunion week for the C’s, who drop to 10-14 and watch their Atlantic Division lead dwindle to a game over the idle Raptors.
WHAT WENT WRONG
The usuals: While the Celtics played stout defense, Clippers stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin got theirs, combining for 40 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists on the night. Meanwhile, the C’s held Los Angeles’ remaining three starters — Willie Green, Jared Dudley and DeAndre Jordan — to 22 points, 13 boards and two dimes. The strategy that probably wasn’t a strategy at all nearly worked.
Jump shoot: While Avery Bradley‘s jump shot has vastly improved since last season, Wednesday wasn’t his night. He didn’t connect on his first jumper until midway through the fourth quarter, although he did throw down this impressive one-handed alley-oop from Crawford early. His first connection from long distance, though, did give the Celtics a lead back after Los Angeles started the second half on a 15-4 run.
Benched: For the second straight night, Celtics coach Brad Stevens got little contribution from his second unit. With Kris Humphries nursing a bruised right knee and rookie Kelly Olynyk (ankle) missing his ninth straight game, Vitor Faverani was the lone big off the bench, and he put up zeroes again. The C’s reserves didn’t score their first points until Gerald Wallace‘s layup with 1:54 remaining in the third gave the C’s a 63-60 lead. And somehow Courtney Lee fouled out with all of zero points in the 15 minutes of action.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Steez: The legend of Crawford continues to grow with each passing game. Facing Paul, the best floor general in the business, Crawford held his own in the first half. The Celtics point guard entered the break with nine points, five assists and just one turnover — respectable numbers opposite Paul’s 15 points, three assists and two turnovers. Meanwhile, the C’s assisted on 12 of their 18 first-half field goals to take a 45-39 lead.
Motivation: Two of the Celtics most scorned by Doc’s departure, Green and Bass, came to play against their former coach. When Rivers left, admitting an unwillingness to go through another rebuilding process, that had to sting for the players left on the roster. Bass tallied his second double-double of the season in as many nights, and Green netted 20 points for the first time this month, including this monster dunk.
Defense: Through three quarters, the Celtics held the Clippers to 66 points on 43.1 percent shooting (40.9 percent in the first and 40.0 in the second), staying within two when the C’s themselves were shooting just 39.1 percent from the field. Los Angeles came into the game shooting 46.5 percent on the season and scoring 105.1 points per 100 possessions, both top-five marks in the league. Unfortunately for Boston, the aggressive defense led to 17 personal fouls and 34 free throws for Los Angeles (as opposed to 19 free throws for the C’s).
|12.11.13 at 8:26 pm ET|
Between the first and second quarters of Wednesday night’s game between the Celtics and Clippers, Boston paid tribute to the coach who led the franchise to its 17th NBA championship with a video on the Jumbotron. He received a standing ovation from the Garden crowd. And the Celtics led 28-25 after one.
|12.10.13 at 10:38 pm ET|
Both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett spoke fondly of the Celtics in the aftermath of their new team’s 104-96 win over the organization that sent them to Brooklyn.
Paul Pierce: “I love those guys. They’re going to fight. That’s that Celtics pride. They all wear it with pride. You see it in the way they play, the way they’re coached. You hear [Rajon] Rondo on the sidelines coaching. They’re going to continue to be the Celtics, and they’re going to always play with pride.”
Kevin Garnett: “Because Doc [Rivers] isn’t there, it’s a little less emotional. You don’t see Danny [Ainge] sitting on the sidelines. You don’t see Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Eddie House, Baby [Glen Davis]. I see Rajon over there, which makes it a little more emotional at times. Obviously, I went to battle with BB [Brandon Bass], Jeff Green, Courtney Lee and a lot of those guys. Those are real solid guys that I know on that team. Other than that, it was another night in the office. They’ve been playing well. They beat the crap out of the Knicks. Obviously, we haven’t been playing well at home, so we wanted to come in and play well, but there will always be a special place in my heart when I face the green.”
One reunion down, one to go, as the Celtics host Rivers’ Clippers on Wednesday night.
|12.10.13 at 10:01 pm ET|
The pregame hoopla may have focused on Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce‘s first game against their former team, but Brook Lopez and Deron Williams stole the show on the court in Brooklyn’s 104-96 victory against the Celtics.
Williams (25 points) and Lopez (24 points) helped the Nets end the C’s three-game win streak and crawl within two games of Boston’s Atlantic Division lead. Garnett and Pierce combined for 15 points, 16 rebounds and six assists.
All five Celtics starters scored in double figures, led by Bradley’s 22 points. Brandon Bass (13 points, 11 rebounds) notched his first double-double of the season. Jeff Green added 19 points and six boards while Jared Sullinger and Jordan Crawford added 15 apiece. The Celtics fell to 10-13.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Babbling Brook: The Celtics had no answer for Lopez. The undersized frontcourt of Sullinger and Bass was no match for the 7-foot, 275-pound Lopez, who scored 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting through the first three quarters, when the Nets owned a 46-24 advantage in the paint and an 85-72 edge on the scoreboard. The Celtics made it a game in the final minutes, but couldn’t overcome a Nets lead as large as 17.
El Hombre Destructible: Celtics coach Brad Stevens attempted to counter Lopez with Vitor Faverani, but the Brazilian 7-footer finished minus-12 in four minutes with two personal fouls and zeroes across the stat sheet. In his last five games, Faverani is averaging 2.8 points and 1.5 rebounds. While Kelly Olynyk‘s return may help the front line, the C’s still won’t have a defender capable of matching up with a true center.
Bench press: Pierce came off the bench for just the fourth time in his career, anchoring a Brooklyn second unit that dominated their Celtics counterparts. While Pierce scored in the single digits, he added seven rebounds and three assists to give the Nets reserves a total of 22 points, 20 rebounds and six assists. Faverani, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries all struggled, as the Celtics bench totaled just 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Second helping: Often matched up with Williams, who missed the previous nine games with an ankle injury, Bradley torched the Nets point guard in the second quarter, scoring 12 of his 15 first-half points to help the Celtics remain within nine, 56-47, at halftime. Bradley has now reached double-digit scoring in 15 games, a number he didn’t reach until mid-March last season.
Triple threat: The Celtics made eight of their first 14 3-point attempts, including their first three tries of the third quarter to tie the game at 60-60. Bradley started 3-of-5, Green made his first two and Sullinger connected on his first two tries after halftime, as the C’s erased a 13-point first-half deficit 2:22 into the third quarter.
Old friends: As far as the reunion goes, this hug between Garnett and Rajon Rondo during a timeout said it all. This wasn’t exactly the cold shoulder routine KG gave Ray Allen last season.
KG greets his buddy Rondo during a timeout: pic.twitter.com/ZNi3GE4yRH
— Jay O (@MrTrpleDouble10) December 11, 2013
|12.09.13 at 3:18 pm ET|
Add this to the long list of things you never thought you’d read this NBA season (or ever, for that matter): Jordan Crawford, starting point guard for the first-place Celtics, earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors.
The C’s were the conference’s lone team to finish last week unbeaten, sweeping the Bucks, Nuggets and Knicks to improve their record to 10-12. Crawford averaged 23.3 points (61.0 FG%, 52.2 3P%), 6.7 assists and 3.0 rebounds.
- Celtics 108, Bucks 100: 25 points (season high), 5 assists, 2 rebounds
- Celtics 106, Nuggets 98: 22 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds
- Celtics 114, Knicks 73: 23 points (career-high six 3′s), 7 assists, 3 boards
Crawford beat out Pacers forward Paul George and Pistons teammates Andre Drummond and Brandon Jennings for the honor. Obviously, this is the first Player of the Week award of Crawford’s four-year career.