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Fast Break: Down and out in Toronto

11.21.10 at 3:49 pm ET
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There were bad signs all around for the Celtics when they went to Toronto to play the Raptors. First, it was an afternoon game and the C’s have had well-documented issues playing in the daylight hours. Second, and most importantly, Rajon Rondo was held out of the game (and is questionable for Monday’s game with the Hawks) because of a strained left hamstring.

Nate Robinson played well in his absence, but the Celtics struggled to find any kind of consistency on offense and that’s Rondo’s department. The Celtics actually had a lead late in the game, but Ray Allen lost control of the ball and Amir Johnson made two free throws with 2.7 seconds left to secure the 102-101 victory for the Raptors.

The Celtics had won eight straight against Toronto and were 11-1 against them since Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen arrived.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Interior defense: Where did it go? The Celtics are one of the best teams in the league at defending the paint, but without a big-time shot blocker they are dependent on stopping dribble penetration and playing their usual strong help-side defense. Glen Davis ability to take charges is a huge benefit as well. None of that was on display against the Raptors.

Foul trouble: Shaquille O’Neal picked up his third foul after only eight minutes. Davis had three before halftime and Semih Erden picked up four first-half fouls. In the third quarter, Paul Pierce and Garnett also picked up their fourth fouls. The Raptors went on an 11-1 run against the Celtics makeshift lineup.

Andrea Bargnani happened: The former No. 1 pick has had a much-maligned career with the Raptors, but he showed up big against the Celtics. Always a threat from long range, Bargnani put the ball on the floor and attacked the Celtics defense. He not only scored 29 points, he also got to the free throw line 13 times and put the entire Celtics frontcourt in foul trouble.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Nate Robinson: With Rondo out, Doc Rivers elected to start Robinson instead of Delonte West at the point. Robinson has struggled at times this season, but he was reborn playing with the starters. Robinson started hot and stayed that way. He scored 16 points in the first quarter and did an effective job of pushing the pace. The Celtics play differently with Robinson in the lineup, but he did the job.

KG in the post: The Celtics want Garnett to be more aggressive with his offense, which is nothing new. He’s one of the best perimeter shooting big men in the game and while that is a great skill, he sometimes settles for the 20-footer too much. Against the Raptors, who have no inside presence, Garnett went to the post-up game and was successful in the second quarter. They did it again in the fourth quarter when the Celtics were making their run.

Defense in the fourth: The Celtics played almost no defense in the first half, allowing the Raptors to shoot 55 percent and drive to the basket at will. They began to tighten up in the third quarter and then really put the hammer down in the fourth. They did the same thing Friday night, which is not a great omen. They consistency has just not been there.

Read More: Celtics, Fast Break, Raptors,

Video: Celtics react to loss to Thunder

11.20.10 at 12:25 am ET
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Read More: Delonte West, Ray Allen, Shaquill,

Delonte West knew the ‘basketball gods’ would be unkind

11.19.10 at 11:46 pm ET
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In just his second game back, Delonte West took a leadership role after a surprising 89-84 home-court loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were playing without injured superstar Kevin Durant.

“This team didn’t even have to play with desperation to beat us tonight,” West said of the Thunder. “That’s one of our biggest concerns this year, being complacent, doing what we did tonight.”

The Celtics fell behind by as many as 10 in the third quarter before making a late charge and drawing to within one, 85-84, on West’s two free throws with 1:16 left in the fourth.

“It’s not like we put up a fight,” West said. “We just left it out on the table. Seemed like the whole game we were seaching for a challenge. It’s not like we put up a fight. We just left it out on the table. Seemed like the whole game we were seaching for a challenge. It was almost like in the third quarter we were like, ‘Ok, down 10. Let’s go.’ Basketball gods don’t reward you like that.”

The Celtics made just 2-of-12 shots in the final period and failed to score a field goal in the final 10:35 of the game, getting a jumper from Nate Robinson for their final field goal of the night.

West might get to show even more leadership on Sunday in Toronto when the Celtics take on the Raptors, possibly without Rajon Rondo, who strained his left hamstring with six minutes left in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game and is day-to-day.

Rondo will get treatment on Saturday and see how he feels.

“If he’s unable to go, I’ll be ready to do what I do best,” said West, who missed a potential game-tying three-pointer from the right baseline with 10 seconds left. “I prepare myself well and if my number is called I’ll be ready to go. Just like tonight, I prepare myself to shoot those type of shots. The ball didn’t bounce the way I wanted it to but I’m very confident in what I do.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Delonte West, Kevin Durant, Nate Robinson

Rajon Rondo has strained left hammy

11.19.10 at 11:07 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo sustained a strained left hamstring with just over six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 89-84 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at TD Garden.

Just moments after picking up his fifth foul, Rondo fell to the floor and didn’t get up immediately while holding his left leg. Trainer Ed Lacerte came onto the court and gave him treatment. Rondo stayed in the game following a 20-second timeout but eventually left a minute later for Delonte West while team trainers stretched out his left leg on the sideline.

Rondo, who was held to seven assists on the night, returned with 4:57 left but coach Doc Rivers took him out for good just 13 seconds later and replaced him with West. “He just wasn’t running right,” Rivers explained afterward.

Rondo’s status for Sunday’s game in Toronto is unknown.

“Just get treatment [Saturday] and we’ll see,” Rondo said.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Delonte West, NBA, Rajon Rondo

Fast break: Thunder snap Celtics home run

11.19.10 at 9:55 pm ET
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The Celtics came out flat Friday night and it cost them against the Kevin Durant-less Oklahoma City Thunder. Russell Westbrook scored 31 points and dished out six assists as the Thunder became the first visiting team in six tries to beat the Celtics on the parquet this season, 89-84.

It was an ugly finish as neither team converted a field goal in the last nine minutes, 20 seconds.

Durant sprained his ankle on Wednesday night and did not play.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG:

Lack of energy. Whether it was a understandable letdown from not having to gear up for Durant or losing Kevin Garnett for most of the first quarter after taking an elbow in the back of the head, the Celtics looked lethargic out of the gate. Though he played the first three minutes and hit his only field goal attempt,  It showed practically from the onset of the game as the Celtics were getting beaten to loose balls and not rotating on defense, allowing the Thunder to find the open man.

No rebounding presence. The Celtics were beaten on the glass, 20-11, in the first half. Shaquille O’Neal collected four rebounds in the first half, but that led the team. Garnett – perhaps due to his early inactivity – couldn’t get going on the boards. With the lack of rebounding came foul trouble. Rondo picked up his fifth personal foul with just over six minutes left in the fourth while Shaq picked up two quick fouls to begin the second half. In all, the Celtics were whistled for 11 fouls in the third and the Thunder just five. Oklahoma City capitalized at the stripe, hitting 13-of-16 in the quarter to extend their lead to 77-69 heading into the final quarter.

Ray Allen had an off night: The Celtics couldn’t seem to get their sharp-shooter into a rhythm for any extended stretch. With the Thunder up, 71-63, Paul Pierce woke up the crowd with a bucket and Allen followed with a mid-range jumper from the free throw line-extended and the crowd sense a rally. But he remained in single-figures in the scoring column as the Thunder threw all types of defensive switches at the Celtics all night. Allen finished with eight points.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT:

Tis just as good to give than receive: The Celtics had 17 assists at halftime on 21 baskets and finished with 20 on 33 buckets in the game. Like with the Patriots and Tom Brady, as long as Rajon Rondo is the quarterback of the offense, the Celtics should be in good shape. Rondo was held to seven assists.

Shaq playing big in the paint. This is exactly what the Celtics got him for when they signed him for a ‘730-day contract’ in the summer. He played 16 of the 24 minutes in the first half. He also threw his considerable weight around, like when he nearly body-slammed Russell Westbrook to the court on a drive down what appeared to be an open lane. Shaq was whistled for a flagrant against Westbrook with 4:30 left in the fourth quarter and Westbrook hit a key free throw to extend the lead to five.  Again, that’s exactly what they wanted from Shaq – a mean presence in the middle that the Celtics desperately wanted for this season.

As a result, the Celtics again dominated the paint, 44-16.

Winning the turnover battle: It’s ironic that the one thing that seemed to be the Achilles’ heel of the Celtics in their 9-2 start was the one thing they corrected on Friday night. They committed 15 turnovers while the Thunder committed 20 – leading to 20 Boston points.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Durant, NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder

Irish Coffee: Top 5 Celtics fan dances

11.19.10 at 10:46 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

It’s Irish Coffee’s version of a free-form Friday. One of my guilty pleasures in the Garden is watching the Jumbotron shenanigans during timeouts. So, just for fun, let’s take a look at the top five dances caught on tape at Celtics games …

1. The world-famous Bon Jovi dance.

2. A 7-year-old teaches Soulja Boy how to move.

3. A storm trooper dominates the disco (at the 1:10 mark).

4. A redhead breaks out the big guns.

5. Mr. Roboto dances to “Beat It” and kills it.

LASME COMES UP LAME

So much for the “call up Stephane Lasme and cut Von Wafer” discussion. The one-time UMass standout and final roster cut of the Celtics reportedly suffered a stress fracture in his left foot and underwent surgery.

Now, if the C’s opt for further depth in the post, they’ll have to turn to Magnum Rolle or Tiny Gallon on the Maine Red Claws.

CAST YOUR ALL-STAR BALLOT

The NBA released the 2011 All-Star Game ballot, and all five Celtics starters made the cut. That’s not nearly as ridiculous as some of the names listed. Here are the worst of the bunch:

  • Mario Chalmers: He’s tearing up the league to the tune of 1.1 points and 1.4 assists per game.
  • Carlos Boozer: He’s only been injured all year, but maybe he got nominated as the best-dressed player in the league?
  • Linas Kleiza: I forgot he was even in the league (if you consider the Raptors part of the league).
  • Corey Brewer: Well, he is the fifth-leading scorer on a 4-9 Timberwolves team.
  • Derek Fisher: In the discussion of great point guards out West, he’s right up there with Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Oh, wait, no he’s not.

ARENAS HEAPS PRAISE ON RONDO

Count Gilbert Arenas among the many NBA players whose attention Rajon Rondo has grabbed this season. He raved about Rondo after Wednesday night’s 31-point loss to the Celtics …

“As a point guard, uh, former point guard watching what he’s done with his talent, it’s amazing,” Arenas told the Washington Post. “With players like Rondo, Steve Nash, point guards that have the ball so much, you have the ball so much that you’re going to have assists. Just run around finding players. He’s great at it. It’s amazing what people were saying when the Big Three first got here, and now he’s just come into his own.”

MORE FRIDAY VIDEO ENTERTAINMENT

After watching five videos of people dancing at Celtics games, if you feel like wasting more time at work on this Friday morning, here are two more videos: 1) Justin Bieber gets booed in Boston for saying he’s a Lakers fan, and 2) Chris Bosh says “[Erik Spoelstra wants to work; we want to chill.” Good times.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chris Bosh, Justin Bieber, NBA

Hilarious ‘Fan up, Miami’ promo

11.18.10 at 3:50 pm ET
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Here’s the “Fan up, Miami” promo that the Big Show guys were talking about on WEEI this afternoon. I like how they found a ton of people who look like they’ve never watched a basketball game in their life to plead for fans to come to the games and root, root, root for the home team. “Are you showing up on time?” “Are you too cool to cheer?” This is the NBA, people. Not the local recreation league …

Read More: fan up, Miami Heat, NBA,
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