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Wallace Makes Unexpected Return to Starting Five

12.22.09 at 11:31 pm ET
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It had been nearly eight months since Rasheed Wallace found himself in this position.

Wallace had not started a game since April 26, when the Pistons were eliminated by the Cavaliers in the first round of the 2009 playoffs. Back then, Wallace had hours to prepare. On Tuesday night, he didn’t have the same luxury when he was called upon to start in place of Kevin Garnett, who was suffering from a bruised right thigh.

‘€œKG’s telling me his leg is a little sore, so I knew it was a 50-50 chance,’€ Wallace explained after the game. ‘€œSo its just preparing yourself mentally, and I found out about maybe 10-20 minutes before our meeting started.’€

After establishing himself as the leader of the second unit this season, Wallace was thrown into a situation he had never been in before in Boston. He had to quickly shift his mindset to adjust to his new role and new matchups to make his first start as a Celtic.

‘€œIt’€™s a different preparation,’€ he said. ‘€œYou know when you’€™re coming off the bench, you’€™re looking more at the guys that they have coming off of the bench. At first I was more focused on [Tyler] Hansborough and what they have coming. But I had to turn that focus to [Roy] Hibbert and [Troy] Murphy and try to do what I can with them.’€

Wallace jumped out early in the first quarter. He scored five points (including a three-pointer), grabbed five rebounds, and dished two assists in the first 12 minutes. Hibbert was held scoreless while Murphy posted only three points.

He honed in on defense as the game went on. Wallace nabbed seven boards in the second half to finish the game with nine points and 13 rebounds. He banged his shoulder and was sidelined as Murphy got hot late in the final two quarters. But fortunately for the Celtics, the other starters picked up the pace while their leading rebounder was on the bench.

‘€œIt’s cool. A little sore but nagging injuries, I’m good,’€ he said of his shoulder, which was wrapped in ice after the game. ‘€œLord knows [how it happened], scuffling around in there with those big guys and came up a little bit sore. But I’m alright though. It’s all normal.’€

Although his start was unexpected, the Celtics like what they saw from his impromptu performance. Once the first unit gelled with their new member ‘€” Doc Rivers was happy to see them making the extra pass ‘€” they clicked with Wallace in the lineup.

‘€œHe’s just got like a totally different focus [as a starter],’€ Kendrick Perkins said. ‘€œHe goes out there and rebounds, his defens[ive] energy is up, and he just goes out there and does the little things. He doesn’t worry about scoring the ball or nothing like that.

“He just goes out there and plays his role to the fullest.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace

Fast Break: Celtics vs. Pacers

12.22.09 at 10:04 pm ET
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BOSTON ‘€“ It was one of the ugliest first half performances the Celtics have displayed in a while. But as they have done so many times, they owned the third quarter to fight back for a 103-94 win over the Pacers on Tuesday night at the Garden.

Turning Point: After being outscored by 15 in the first half, Celtics went on a 31-14 run to take a 73-71 lead off a Rasheed Wallace fastbreak dunk. Kendrick Perkins dropped 13 points in the third quarter alone while Ray Allen added 11 in 12 minutes. The Celtics outscored the Pacers 35-20 in the quarter to get back in the game.

Player of the Game: This win was a combined effort throughout the second half. After Perkins and Allen scored 13 and 11 points in the third, respectively, it was Paul Pierce who got hot late in the game. He scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to finish the night with 21.

Kevin Garnett did not play (bruised right thigh) and did not join the Celtics on the bench. According to team sources, the decision was Doc Rivers‘, not Garnett’s. Rasheed Wallace got his first start of the season in place of Garnett.

– The Celtics gave up 57 points in the first half, tying the season-high set by the Suns on November 6. This is the eighth time this season the Celtics have allowed more than 50 points in the first half.

– Perkins was whistled for his 8th technical of the season. He moved ahead of Carmelo Anthony to rank second in the league, behind only Wallace.

– Pierce shot 6-for-6 from three-point range on Sunday. He started Tuesday’s game 0-for-6 from the field.

– Wallace banged his right shoulder in the second half but did return to the game.

Rescinding Rasheed

12.22.09 at 8:06 pm ET
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Tuesday was a big day for Rasheed Wallace.

Not only did he make his first start of the season – giving Kevin Garnett the night off to rest his right thigh – he caught a break on Tuesday when he had one of his 10 technical fouls removed from the official record. On Nov. 29 in Miami, Wallace said, “and one!” after he thought he was fouled after making a basket at the end of the first quarter.

He was assessed the technical by Bennett Salvatore.

“He said [he would rescind] right away,” Rivers said on Tuesday. “He said it at halftime that they would rescind it. He told me something I didn’t know. When they rescind a tech, it still has to go to the league and it still has to be approved. They don’t have to rescind it.”

But taking away the one tech didn’t satisfy Wallace. He feels there are several more that need to be reviewed.

“No, I’m not happy because there’s still some more that hopefully they can look at,” Wallace explained. “That wasn’t the only one we were talking about. That one got rescinded that fast because it was referee who said he was going to do it. I’m still seeing what the outcome is on the others but I know it won’t be anytime soon for the simple fact they’re in [collective bargaining agreement] meetings. I’m not worried about it yet.”

Wallace was rung up twice for arguing and ejected from the game against Philadelphia on Friday, a game the Celtics lost, 98-97.

Those two remain on the record, now giving Wallace nine for the season. An automatic suspension is levied at 16 technicals and every two technicals after.

Read More: NBA, Rasheed Wallace, technical fouls,

Jim O’Brien on Marquis Daniels, Paul Pierce

12.22.09 at 7:41 pm ET
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Indiana Pacer coach Jim O’Brien is as familiar with Celtic personnel as any coach in the league who is not on Doc Rivers‘ staff. Not only did O’Brien coach the Celtics earlier this decade, he also coached Marquis Daniels in Indiana.

Here was O’Brien’s take on Pierce’s efficiency on offense:

“I don’t see a dramatic difference. He always seemed to me to have a calmness to his game. He felt confident that he could score on anybody in any situation.”

Where O’Brien does see a difference with Pierce is on the defensive end, where he is now surrounded by like-minded players.

As for Daniels, O’Brien is obviously still a big fan.

“He’s a great pick-up,” O’Brien said. “Marquis is a player who does very subtle things offensively. He has an uncanny understanding of how to move without the basketball.” Asked how Daniels will fit with the Celtics when he returns from his injury, O’Brien added, “Marquis will have no problem. He has an exceptionally high basketball IQ.”

Read More: Marquis Daniels, Paul Pierce,

‘Strategic rest’ for Garnett

12.22.09 at 7:29 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett [right thigh bruise] will not play against the Pacers. Rasheed Wallace will start in his place. According to the team, the decision was a precautionary one made by head coach Doc Rivers.

The move to give Garnett “strategic rest” was made in an effort to have the star ready for their Christmas Day game in Orlando on Friday afternoon.

Tuesday’s game, the 27th of the season, marks the first time the Celtics have had a different lineup.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace,

Daniels Abbreviated Travel Schedule

12.22.09 at 7:07 pm ET
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BOSTON ‘€“ Marquis Daniels will travel with the Celtics to Orlando tomorrow but does not expect to join the team for their West Coast road trip.

Daniels, who is recovering from a torn ligament in his left thumb, will join the Cs for Friday’s game against the Magic. The trip is significant for the Orlando native because his family will be in the arena. He is also hosting a community event there.

‘€œI’m very happy to go home and get the chance to see my mom,’€ he said prior to the Celtics-Pacers game. ‘€œMy little brother’s home from college. My oldest brother will be there. My kids and my wife will be down there so it’ll be a good time.’€

Daniels will receive final confirmation from the team on Wednesday but not anticipate he will travel with the Celtics for their three-game roadtrip, which kicks off Sunday in Los Angeles against the Clippers. He plans to return to Boston to continue his rehab. Daniels has been focusing on cardio and leg exercises. He has also been lifting free weights with his right hand.

Daniels is scheduled to be re-evaluated on January 8.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Marquis Daniels,

Celtics-Pacers Preview

12.22.09 at 11:27 am ET
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Way back on Nov. 14, Danhtay Jones had a career night. This came as a bit of a surprise to various members of the Celtics, who were still shaking their collective heads several days after Jones burned them for 25 points in their only road loss of the season. Jones is not known as a scorer in any meaningful way, but at that moment in time he was in the midst of the best offensive month of his career, averaging 17.5 points and shooting over 46 percent from the floor.

Jones has returned to his regular ways in December (8.5 points per, 40 percent shooting), and his Pacers team has crash-landed along with him. It would be wrong to pin all that on him, of course. Jones is a small piece of his team, but it speaks to the danger of over-reacting to one game or one month.

Over the first 16 games of the season Rasheed Wallace took 146 shots and 96 of them were 3-pointers. In other words, two thirds of the shots that Sheed took were from beyond the arc. That would be Jason Kapono territory, but not even Kapono would take that many. Over the last 10 games Wallace has greatly cut back on his 3-point attempts, launching “just” 41 percent of his from 3-point range. The result is a much more efficient second unit that has a certified low-post option at its disposal.

All of which is to say that while it’s folly to place hope in veteran players like Jones becoming something they are not, it is possible to get different results from veteran players like Wallace by simply changing their approach.

CELTICS (21-5, 9-1 last 10)

Points Per Game: 101.5

Points Allowed: 91.9

Differential: 9.5 (First)

Offensive Efficiency: 110.4 (Sixth)

Defensive Efficiency: 100.0 (Second)

Pace: 91.3 (23rd)

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

Injuries: Glen Davis (thumb), Marquis Daniels (wrist)

PACERS (9-17, 3-7 last 10)

Points Per Game: 97. 4

Points Allowed: 101.2

Differential: -3.8 (T-24th)

Offensive Efficiency: 1007.7 (26th)

Defensive Efficiency: 104.6 (10th)

Pace: 96.7 (Second)

Likely Starters: Earl Watson, Dahntay Jones, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Roy Hibbert

Injuries: Danny Granger (foot), Travis Diener (toe), Jeff Foster (back)

Key Matchup: Kevin Garnett vs. Troy Murphy Read the rest of this entry »

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