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Rondo, Perk Trail in First All-Star Voting Update

12.10.09 at 3:56 pm ET
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The first returns from the 2010 NBA All-Star Game voting are in and Kobe Bryant has an early lead.

Bryant received the most votes among all players (692,518) while Dwyane Wade leads the East with 672,227.

Each of the Celtics starters are ranked in the top 10 at their position, but there are a few surprises.

FORWARD: Kevin Garnett is ranked second among all Eastern Conference forwards while Paul Pierce ranks fourth. LeBron James is the East’s leading vote-getter at the forward position.

GUARD: Rajon Rondo ranks eighth among Eastern Conference guards despite leading the conference in assists. Allen Iverson, who has played five games this season, has received nearly 25,000 more votes than Rondo. Looking across the league, though, Rondo received more votes than Deron Williams, who bests Rondo in assists, scoring, and rebounding. Ray Allen ranks fourth in the East.

CENTER: Kendrick Perkins is ranked ninth in the East. The surprise is that Rasheed Wallace, who not only is a reserve but also went through an offensive slump earlier this season, received more than 15,000 more votes than Perkins. Last year’s fan-favorite Dwight Howard has a 400,000-vote lead over second-ranked Shaquille O’Neal in the conference.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Forwards: LeBron James (649,327), Kevin Garnett (533,187),  Chris Bosh (303,550), Paul Pierce (131,379), Josh Smith (109,404), Danny Granger (100,122), Andre Iguodala (75,146), Michael Beasley (58,461), Hedo Turkoglu (55,416), Rashard Lewis (46,073, Luol Deng (37,428)

Guards: Dwyane Wade (672,227), Vince Carter (292,002), Gilbert Arenas (212,526), Ray Allen (208,276), Derrick Rose (196,059), Allen Iverson (136,976), Joe Johnson (118,964), Rajon Rondo (113,371), Jose Calderon (68,084), Mike Bibby (48,935)

Centers: Dwight Howard (625,279), Shaquille O’Neal (206,657), Andrea Bargnani (67,310), Al Horford (52,747), Andrew Bogut (45,920), Brook Lopez (39,420), Jermaine O’Neal (38,956),  Rasheed Wallace (36,855), Kendrick Perkins (19,408)Brad Miller (17,188) Tyson Chandler (14,062), Samuel Dalembert (13,969)

Celtics-Wizards Preview

12.10.09 at 11:18 am ET
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What to make of the Washington Wizards? They started the 2009-10 season losing seven of their first nine games, which pretty much knocked them out of sleeper contender status in the Eastern Conference. Then Antawn Jamison returned from an injury and the Wizards went 5-5, which gets them back into playoff contention. (Hey, it is the Eastern Conference). When healthy — they are also without Mike Miller — the Wizards are probably a playoff team and they have played the Celtics tough over the last few years.

The Celtics have their own health issues with Marquis Daniels expected to be out for up to two months after wrist surgery. Tony Allen made his return Tuesday and provided the usual Tony Allen delights — a couple of hustle plays, a turnover on a pass to a guy in the courtside seats, a charging foul that a bull in Pamplona would have avoided. But not even the return of TA could derail the Celtics express. The C’s have won eight straight and are sure to be gracing the top of various power rankings shortly.

CELTICS (17-4, 9-1 last 10)

Points Per Game : 100.0

Offensive Efficiency: 109.4 (8th)

Points Allowed: 90.5

Defensive Efficiency: 99.0 (First)

Pace: 91.0 (25th)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins.

WIZARDS (7-12, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 96.7

Offensive Efficiency: 103.8 (24th)

Points Allowed: 100.4

Defensive Efficiency: 107.8 (20th)

Pace: 92.6 (15th)

Likely Starters: Gilbert Arenas, Nick Young, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood.

Key Matchup: Perkins vs. Haywood. The Celtics are not a good rebounding team. Doc Rivers and the players have pegged it as a team-wide issue. The bigs have taken responsibility. The guards have taken responsibility. That’s all good from an Ubuntu perspective, but it wouldn’t hurt if players started putting bodies on their opponents. The Wizards don’t do a lot of things well, but they do hit the offensive glass, particularly Haywood who is one of the best in the league. Also keep an eye on Andray Blatche and Rasheed Wallace when the second units are on the floor.

The Wizards in a Paragraph: We’ve gone this far and we haven’t mentioned Agent Zero. Possibly because it seems that Gilbert Arenas doesn’t know who Gilbert Arenas is anymore. He started the year being all business, then he dropped that for his “old” persona which now seems as dated as Windows XP. Ernie Grunfeld made a bold move in the offseason bringing in Miller and Randy Foye to compliment his veterans and intriguing collection of young talent. It was always going to take time, but injuries have set back the timetable and the Wizards don’t have much time left.

The Celtics in a Paragraph: The C’s are back on the road for three straight, which brings up an interesting point. Did you know the Lakers have played 16 of their first 20 games at home? To put it another way, the Celtics played as many road games last week as the Lakers have played all season.

What to Watch For: This seems simple. Keep the Wizards off the offensive glass. Now that Daniels will be out for a significant chunk of time, who takes his minutes? Tony Allen gets first crack. Can he handle the job?

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NBA Power Rankings, 12/10

12.10.09 at 10:45 am ET
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1. LA Lakers (1): Let’s just get this out of the way: They’ve played four road games so far. Four! It’s a schedule straight from the desk of superfans Jack Nicholson and Flea. I have no doubt, obviously, that they’re a great team. But we’ll know just how great when they’re required to leave the block.

2. Boston (3): You don’t have to look very far for encouraging signs on this team. Kevin Garnett is back, in body and soul, hitting the floor for loose balls and cussing more than Richard Pryor on the Sunset Strip; Rajon Rondo had a game the other night against Milwaukee when I counted at least a half-dozen breathtaking assists; and Paul Pierce, if you can believe this, is making nearly half his shots. The Celtics also have been the best road team in the league. The only thing I don’t like is how they routinely get killed on the offensive boards.

3. Orlando (2): The Magic may have more untapped talent than anyone in the game: Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat are good players who sometimes have a tough time getting some run, and Jameer Nelson is hurt. Yet they’ve been dominant, at home and on the road. The only problem they have is in the stands, where their No. 1 fan USED to sit but is now defending himself against Elin’s backswing and the tabloids. (The Perkins waitress, Tiger? I’d be afraid to order breakfast from her, so you know I can’t understand how you … well, you know … did what you did.)

4. Denver (6): Although he has no chance of being league MVP, Carmelo Anthony should be considered for the award. Why no chance? He scores too much and doesn’t rebound enough for his height. That’s twisted logic, but that’s the history of the award. Basically, we love little guys who can really score and pass; we love little guys who can score all right and pass very well; we love little guys who score and do nothing else … but we don’t love 6-foot-8 guys who score and don’t crash the boards. It’s too bad. If it were up to me, Melo would get it.

5. Atlanta (7): The Hawks aren’t good just because they’re a young team that grew up. They’re good because now they have veteran fallback plans, so to speak, if any of the starters have off nights. The other night, for example, Jamal Crawford came off the bench and scored 29. It’s the element that young teams such as the Blazers, Grizzlies and Thunder still don’t have.

6. Dallas (4): Reason No. 473 that I’m not an NBA scout: I saw Jose Juan Barea play several times when he was at Northeastern, and I never thought, “Now, there’s an NBA player.” But check out this kid. He certainly doesn’t look the part, but he’s one of the Mavericks’ most important players.

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Doc Rivers on D&C

12.09.09 at 11:02 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan for his weekly call-in. The guys asked Doc about minutes, rebounding and Kevin Garnett’s hot streak. They also gave the coach the chance to sound off on his favorite ex-ref, Tim Donaghy.

Things are going well, do you worry about pushing them too hard in December and the possibility that they will be spent in April and May?

No, I don’t worry about that. I hear all that talk and I really think it’s silly sometimes. Let’s say you win 25 games in a row and someone says that’s bad for you, I’ve never got that. Obviously if you play your guys 40 minutes a night or something like that, then that’s different. But if you’re playing your guys their normal minutes and they’re winning games, isn’t that what they’re supposed to do. You want to improve. Any team that doesn’t improve during the year is not going to do much in the playoffs. That’s what the regular season is for.

Is it safe to say that with a veteran team, that margin to improve is less than a young team?

Our improvement is not going to come by individual basketball skill. Kevin, Paul [Pierce], Ray [Allen], Rasheed [Wallace] they’re not going to be different players by the end of the year, so our improvement is all about the team part of it.
All about the continuity, all about reading each other on offense and defense and that’s what we’re doing.

I love our pace right now with the practices and the game minutes. If we can continue on this pace that would be great. With injuries that come up during the regular season you know that’s not going to be possible. But if we could stay on this pace, we practice at the right time, we’re pacing ourselves in games as far as minutes, but you’ve been around long enough to know with injuries and things like that, that’s when you are pressed.

Does the division race mean anything?

I’m going to answer your question by saying I don’t know how many we’ve won. There’s your answer now that I think about it.

You may have locked it up last night.

For us it’s more about home court. If you can get home court that’s huge and that’s what we want to get. That’s what we’re looking at. You look at playoff positioning and home court advantage far more than you look at division. Read the rest of this entry »

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Daniels has surgery on left thumb

12.09.09 at 10:42 am ET
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Marquis Daniels could miss up to two months following surgery this morning at New England Baptist Hospital to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb.  The procedure was performed by Celtics Team Physician, Dr. Brian McKeon and Dr. Drew Terrono.

Daniels has appeared in 19 games for the Celtics averaging 5.7 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game

Daniels confirmed the surgery on Wednesday and expressed his appreciation for support on his twitter account.

“Thanx 4 everyones prayers my surgery went well, I’ll be back better than before I had been, I’d like to say thanks to all dat prayed 4me,” Daniels tweeted.

Head coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday that Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine are expected to pick up the minutes for Daniels, who was second off the bench behind Rasheed Wallace. Daniels posted a season-high 10 points against Utah on Nov. 11.

Read More: Celtics, Marquis Daniels, NBA,

C’s trying to get the point of rebounding

12.09.09 at 12:02 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers knows his team, even in the midst of an eight-game winning streak, can’t go on rebounding like they are if they are to have any chance of hanging an 18th banner from the rafters.

On Tuesday night, the Celtics went on a very late 7-0 run to pull away from the Milwaukee Bucks, 98-89, for their eighth straight and a very gaudy 17-4 record.

What’s not so gaudy are their rebounding numbers.

They were outrebounded 44-35 by a younger, quicker Milwaukee team, including 14-5 on the offensive glass. The Celtics entered the game 29th in the NBA, or next-to-last, in rebounding. They are dead last in offensive rebounding.

Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo both took responsibility afterward, saying the guards must pick up the pace when it comes to rebounding.

Pierce said the guards need to rebound better.

Rondo said part of good guard play is rebounding.

Doc Rivers said the Celtics can’t go on like this forever.

Read More: Celtics, NBA, rebounding,

Fast Break: Celtics-Bucks

12.08.09 at 10:01 pm ET
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It’s apparently not going to be easy for the Celtics at home, where their inexplicable trend of playing sub-.500 teams close on the Garden floor continued Tuesday night against the Bucks. At various points, it looked like the Celtics would run away with the game, only to have the Bucks close the gap.

A fourth-quarter surge finally put some distance between them on the scoreboard and the Celtics were able to prevail with a 98-89 win, their eighth straight. The Bucks have now dropped eight of their last nine. Kevin Garnett scored 25 points and added nine rebounds to lead the scoring. Bucks center Andrew Bogut had a huge game with 25 points and 14 rebounds.

Player of the Game: Rajon Rondo. In a game where all five Celtics starters (and Rasheed Wallace) scored in double figures, credit must go to the distributor. Rondo recorded a near triple-double with 11 points, nine rebounds and 13 assists. Rondo also harassed super-rookie Brandon Jennings into an uneven 17-point performance. If Jennings wants to lay claim to the point guard throne he has a long way to go to match Rondo.

Turning Point: It wasn’t so much a turning “point” as it was a slow change in play. With the score tied at 86-86, the Celtics slowly began to put some distance between themselves and the Bucks outscoring them 12-3 down the stretch.

‘€¢Garnett continued his string of strong outings with 25 points and nine rebounds. He took the ball aggressively to the basket early in the game, which helped set the tone and made a huge basket late in the game. He also forced Ersan Ilyasova into a 6-for-17 shooting night.

‘€¢Milwaukee guard Luke Ridnour appeared to injure his wrist late in the third quarter. He has had problems with the wrist before. He didn’t return to the game.

‘€¢Tony Allen made his debut and played five rather eventful minutes. He made a number of hustle plays and also threw the ball out of bounds and barreled into a Buck defender on his way to the basket for an obvious charging call. The Celtics went 10 deep even without Marquis Daniels. Brian Scalabrine saw the majority of minutes ahead of Shelden Williams.

‘€¢Wallace had a superb shooting night making five of eight shots and hitting three of four from 3-point range. His shooting was a big reason the Celtics were able to scratch out a lead to start the fourth quarter.

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