|03.25.13 at 3:00 pm ET|
Add Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee to the list of walking Celtics wounded. While neither will join Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger on the season-ending injury manifest, only 13 games remain in the regular season, they’ve lost four straight and the goodwill built from a seven-game win streak without Rondo seems like ancient history.
So, is it finally time to bury the C’s this season? Not so fast. Here are five reasons not to panic about the current state of the Celtics, even if they only have 10 healthy bodies at this point.
They’re firmly entrenched in seventh place, even if they’re only two games up on the Bucks.
Even with Rondo, when the Celtics owned a 20-23 record and sat in eighth place, the best they could’ve hoped for was either a sixth or seventh seed and a chance to avoid the Heat until the Eastern Conference finals.
Well, Doc Rivers‘ Rondo-less charges play seven of their remaining 13 games at home, including a four-game stretch from April 3-10 that includes the Pistons, Cavaliers and Wizards. Not a brutal stretch by any measure. Meanwhile, the Bucks face the Thunder (twice), Lakers, Knicks, Heat, Hawks and Nuggets over their final 13 games — seven of which are on the road. As a result, a seventh seed seems to be the C’s most likely scenario.
Their road record isn’t as bad as it seems, even if they’re a putrid 12-23 away from home.
|03.25.13 at 12:39 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics are playing it safe with Kevin Garnett and hoping rest will be the answer to inflammation in his left ankle.
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge confirmed Monday that Garnett will be out for Tuesday’s game against the Knicks.
“Take a couple of Advil and give it some rest,” Ainge said. “Could he play [Tuesday]? Yeah but we’re not playing him [Tuesday]. The time frame, I don’t know but it’s not an ankle sprain but there’s inflammation in the ankle, sort of like an ankle sprain in unpredictability. So I think that it’s not longer than three weeks or it could be a week. I’ll guess two weeks just because we want to make sure he’s really ready. We need to get him fresh anyway.”
Doc Rivers said Garnett aggravated the injury against the Mavericks and the discomfort forced him to miss Saturday’s game in Memphis. He was sent back to Boston for an MRI.
In the meantime, Rivers said it’s likely that Garnett will miss at least “four to five games” with the injury.
“I think we’ll know more later,” Rivers said, referring to the MRI. “I would say doubtful for [Tuesday] but we’ll know more later. I don’t think Kevin is playing [Tuesday]. I’m almost positive of that but then what we want to make sure is that he’s going to be good soon.
“At the end of the day, I want him right, not half-right.”
Rivers said he doesn’t expect this to be a season-ending ailment.
“But can he miss four or five games? Yeah that’s probably possible,” Rivers said. “I don’t know that but to me [season-ending] is not a concern. He hurt his foot in that Dallas game. [It's not season-ending] unless something crazy happens in the MRI that I can tell you the first look, they didn’t see that. At the end of the day, he may miss some games.
“We’re going to err on the right side, whatever they decide. If they give me an option of you can play him every third game or give him two weeks rest, I can tell you right now I am going to say two weeks rest, if it’s my decision.”
Ainge later confirmed Rivers’ estimate, telling reporters at practice that the results of the MRI along with consultation with the team’s medical staff indicate that he’ll likely miss two weeks.
“I’ll guess two weeks, just because we want to make sure he’s really ready” said Ainge, who added that he thought Garnett originally injured the ankle against New Orleans last Wednesday.
“I think it happened in New Orleans game, it was just sore, just inflammation. A lot of things can cause inflammation. I think everyone has a little bit of inflammation this time of year. KG, we need to get him fresh anyway.”
On the bright side, Courtney Lee is expected to return from his sprained left ankle suffered in the final minute of Friday’s loss in Dallas.
Neither player took part in Monday’s practice, which included just 10 healthy Celtics.
Rivers said the Celtics will be forced to go with a smaller lineup that he says includes “no point guards” while the Knicks feature a lineup with two point guards in Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton, with Jason Kidd off the bench.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|03.23.13 at 10:49 pm ET|
Playing without Kevin Garnett (foot) or Courtney Lee (ankle), the Celtics couldn’t recover from a horrific second quarter in dropping a 110-106 decision to the Grizzlies in Memphis Saturday night.
After finishing the first quarter with a two-point lead, the Celtics were outscored, 32-20, in the second quarter. It led to Memphis’ 10th straight home win.
The Celtics mounted a spirited fourth-quarter comeback, having entered the final quarter down 12 points. The C’s, however, managed to close the gap to two with 19 seconds remaining on a pair of Jordan Crawford (21 points, 26 minutes) free throws.
The Celts could have drawn with a point with eight seconds left when Jason Terry was fouled taking a three-pointer. But the guard only made two of his three foul shots, allowing Memphis to hold off the visitors.
The Grizzlies made all six of their free throw attempts after Crawford made it a two-point game.
The loss was the Celtics’ fourth straight defeat, and first loss to at FedEx Forum in their last six visits. It was also Doc Rivers’ team’s fifth consecutive road loss, dropping to 2-12 against Western Conference teams on their home floors.
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 26 points, while both Terrence Williams and Chris Wilcox contributed off the bench, each making all four of their shots from the floor.
Jerryd Bayless led all scorers with 30 points off the bench for Memphis.
|03.22.13 at 11:12 pm ET|
Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points and Brandan Wright added a team-high 23 – 16 above his season average – as the Dallas Mavericks handed the Celtics their third straight loss, 104-94, Friday night at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Celtics have lost five of seven and three straight for the first time since losing six in a row between Jan. 16-25.
Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass each scored 16 for the Celtics, who fell to 36-31 on the season. Adding to Boston’s misery was a left ankle injury to Courtney Lee, who rolled the ankle late in the fourth quarter. He had to be helped off the court and to the locker room and did not play in the final minute.
In his return to Dallas for the first time since signing with the Celtics as a free agent last summer, Jason Terry was held to eight points on 3-of-9 shooting. The appreciative Dallas crowd gave Terry a standing ovation when he checked into the game for the first time with 3:57 left in the first quarter. His former Mavericks teammates also applauded his returned on the Dallas bench.
The only Celtics player in double figures in the first half was Brandon Bass with 10 points. Boston had no answers for Vince Carter off the Dallas bench. Carter had 12 points in 12 minutes, a big reason the Mavericks were able to take a 55-44 halftime lead.
The Mavericks built their lead to as much as 14 twice in the second quarter.
Jordan Crawford hit a baseline three early in the third quarter and followed that up with a steal and reverse layup with 10:19 left in the fourth to cut Dallas’ lead down to six, 81-75. Crawford hit another tough shot – a baseline fadeaway – to keep the Celtics within six, 83-77, with just over nine minutes left.
But the Celtics couldn’t keep the Mavericks from responding and building the lead back to 11, 94-83, with three minutes left. Pierce hit a straightaway three with 2:59 left to cut the Dallas lead down to eight, 94-86. Green’s layup with 1:51 brought the Celtics within five, 97-92. The Celtics forced a missed shot by Carter but Knight got the rebound and kicked it to Carter, who then found O.J. Mayo, who knocked down the three to push the lead back to eight, 100-92, with 1:21 left.
Mayo then stole a pass on the next Celtics possession as the Celtics lost their third straight.
The road gets no easier on Saturday night, as the Celtics travel to Memphis to battle the Grizzlies. The Celtics return home for a Atlantic Division showdown with the Knicks on Tuesday night at the Garden.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|03.22.13 at 2:24 pm ET|
Celtics guard Jason Terry spoke with Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon from Dallas, where he’s preparing to play against his former team, and talked about the C’s mindset following Wednesday’s disappointing loss as well as his reaction to the LeBron James dunk that made Terry fodder on the Internet.
“I’m going to be fired up,” Terry said of Friday night’s matchup against the Mavericks. “This is a big game for us — not only for me, but for our team. We dropped one in New Orleans, we definitely shouldn’t have lost to them. We’ve got to get back and get things rolling.”
Terry said coach Doc Rivers stressed the need for better focus following Wednesday’s 87-86 loss to the Hornets.
“It’s all about learning at this point, learning how to close and finish ballgames,” Terry said. “Especially when you’re up 10, 15 points. You have to keep it going. We kind of went into cruise control mode. We got lackluster, especially with our execution. We just don’t have that luxury. Rajon Rondo‘s not coming back. So we have to do it by committee and we all have to take ownership and take pride in executing and finishing games, on both ends of the floor.
“We’ve learned from that, we watched a lot of film, and Doc ripped us a new one today in shootaround. So, just expect us to bounce back tonight and be more efficient when we do get the lead.”
Terry was posterized by James in Monday’s loss to the Heat. James later said he enjoyed the dunk because of his personal rivalry with trash-talking Terry. The dunk earned legendary status on the Internet.
“[The way] social media is today, it’s just unbelievable,” Terry said. “But I will say, I did get a kick out of the one when I was in a coffin, laying in the coffin, and the pallbearers were [Kevin Garnett] and Paul Pierce. That was hilarious. It’s all in fun, it’s all in the spirit of the sport.
“But I’ll tell you right now, I would love to see Miami in the playoffs, because the road to the championship goes through the champion. We’re fired up. We love that matchup.”
Terry said his issue is more with the Heat than LeBron. Terry’s Mavericks lost to the Heat in the 2006 NBA finals and got revenge in the 2011 rematch.
“It’s just the Miami Heat,” Terry said. “Is it the red and black? Maybe. I hate that color. I just don’t like them. … It goes back to ’05-06. It doesn’t matter who’s in those Miami Heat uniforms. … [The Mavericks were] up 2-0 and [the Heat] come back and win four straight games and you lose the NBA finals. So, LeBron inherited something bigger than the matchup of he and I. It’s about the Miami Heat and that organization. He picked his poison.
“They put him on me to shut me down in the NBA finals in 2011 and he couldn’t get the job done. Hopefully he’ll have another chance this year in the Eastern Conference finals or wherever we match up. But I’m telling you right now, I love us, I love the way we’re built. We miss Rondo, we miss [Jared] Sullinger, but with this team we have, we have a chance.”
Added Terry: “You know at some point — I don’t want to say that it’s fixed — I think it’s going to happen. We are going to see them, and it’s going to be fireworks.”
|03.21.13 at 6:29 pm ET|
As they did with Chinese Basketball Association imports Terrence Williams and D.J. White before him, the Celtics signed Shavlik Randolph for the remainder of the season. The deal includes an option for next season.
Randolph has appeared in three games for the C’s this season, averaging 3.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in 12.0 minutes per game. He posted highs of six points, eight rebounds and two steals against Charlotte on March 16.
Randolph played the maximum of two 10-day contracts since March 1, so the team had to make a decision about his future on Thursday. Barring an outright cut, the Celtics roster is set at 15 for the remainder of the season.
|03.21.13 at 6:05 pm ET|
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined Salk & Holley in his weekly Thursday afternoon appearance to face questions about his team’s tough losses to the Hornets and Heat, Jeff Green‘s (lack of) playing time and the NCAA tournament.
C’s coach Doc Rivers, who ripped his team’s performance in New Orleans, only played Green 26 minutes and resorted to another off-balanced Paul Pierce isolation jumper in the 87-86 loss. Even Ainge seemed to have questions about those decisions.
“I think Jeff is starting to prove and has proven to Doc that he deserves to be on the court most minutes of the game,” Ainge said. “Doc needs something off the bench, and I think he’s trying to figure all that out.
“And he will. He’s played Jeff at the 2 and the 3 and the 4 this year, and so I think that last night might’ve been a good opportunity for Jeff to play more at the 2. They had two big guys in there. They were killing us on the glass in the second half. I think in one stretch it was 27-9, and that just shows you lack of effort.”
Ainge stopped himself before including Green’s second-half performance as part of that lack of effort, but he did cite Brandon Bass‘ improved play in defense of Rivers’ decision and eventually blamed the loss on the backcourt.
“I think that last night maybe [we needed] some Jeff at the 2 guard,” said Ainge, who watched Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee combine for eight points in 39 combined minutes, “because our guard play was not good last night.”
While Ainge commended Anthony Davis‘ effort in what he termed “a bad loss” — calling the Hornets rookie “a Spiderman” and “a young, athletic KG” — he also expressed disappointment in his team’s late-game execution.
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