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Rivers on D&C: Rest is more important

04.08.10 at 10:06 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about how his team is playing, whether he had a problem with Tony Allen or Rasheed Wallace’s actions in the Cleveland game and how hard he’s going to push for the third spot in the Eastern Conference.

Let’s talk about last night’s game [against Toronto]. You’ve been up and down, that was the good Celtics team?

I liked it. We didn’t use a lot of minutes with guys, which was really good. Michael Finley was absolutely terrific last night. You get a performance like that off your bench, especially in the fourth quarter where you can afford to not play Paul Pierce in the fourth quarter, at this point in the season that’s good.

Going back to Sunday, the Cleveland game. How big was that game?

I’ll put it like this. I didn’t think going into the game that it was a desperate game. I felt that once we got the big lead and Cleveland made the charge, then it became a desperate game. It turned into a desperate game because of the way the game it transpired. It worked out that way and obviously we won the game, so that was good.

I didn’t feel that way going into it. I just felt the way we played for three quarters we could have beaten anyone, and we showed that. And then we stopped playing. They made an unbelievable run, or LeBron [James] made an unbelievable run and then you felt like we have to get this win somehow.

Did you have an issue with the way Tony Allen handled himself at the end of the game [with James]?

I really didn’t because I don’t think Tony started that. I think LeBron said something to Tony and Tony responded. Basically what Tony was saying is, “I don’t care who you are.” He said it in more colorful words, but I don’t think Tony Really started that talk. I don’t mind a guy not backing down. And Tony will never back down.

What about Rasheed? Should he have backed down?

I don’t know what exactly happened with Rasheed. I know he felt the official said something to him. Once that happened I could see that Rasheed was not coming back, let’s say. Once you get to that stage where you’re emotionally over the line. Usually when our players go up to him when he starts going off on officials, he backs away from the players. Once I saw where he was at with our own players and then with me, I knew we just had to get him out of the game, sit him down and play him another day.

I waited until the next day and Rasheed understands the next day those are things that he can’t do, that he shouldn’t do. But he can’t himself  and unfortunately that was one of them. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fast Break: C’s right ship

04.07.10 at 9:30 pm ET
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No matter how much they insist that the regular season is meaningless from here on out, the Celtics needed a win Wednesday night against the Raptors. They needed one because of the way they played against the Knicks on Tuesday and they needed one because if they are going to go into the playoffs with any kind of momentum it has to start somewhere.

They might have needed a win, but that doesn’t mean they played like it. For two and a half quarters it was the same Celtics team we’ve seen over the last few weeks. They were fine offensively, but the defense lacked the ability or focus to get stops. That all changed late in the third quarter and the C’s were able to ride a strong effort from their reserves to a 115-104 win over Toronto.

They did it despite sitting Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins for major stretches of the second half. Michael Finley scored 14 points and had six rebounds in 23 minutes of action and Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis also checked in with 20+ minute evenings.

The Celtics had five players score in double figures, led by Rajon Rondo with 21 points and Kevin Garnett had 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting. They shot 56 percent and held the Raptors to under 50 percent shooting on the defensive end. It was a good win for the Celtics, and maybe even a necessary win.

Player of the Game: Rajon Rondo’s night started poorly but ended spectacularly. He had four turnovers in the first half, but didn’t commit another in the second. That was as big a factor in the win as his 21 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Turning Point: The Celtics were nursing a two-point lead midway through the third quarter when Doc Rivers went to his bench. The reserves pushed the lead to double-digits

* Sonny Weems had a career half for Toronto with 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting in the first 24 minutes, but he scored just four points the rest of the way.

* Ray Allen had 18 points, including a gorgeous behind the back move for a layup.

* Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson both did not play rotation minutes again and Tony Allen was the nominal backup point guard.

* As expected, Chris Bosh did not play for the Raptors. He had surgery to repair a facial fracture after he caught an elbow from Cleveland’€™s Antawn Jamison in their game Tuesday. It is unlikely that Bosh will play again during the regular season. He will be a free agent this summer.

* It got worse for the Raptors as Hedo Turkoglu was inadvertently hit in the face by Tony Allen late in the first quarter and had to leave the game. He did not return and is listed as questionable with a nasal contusion.

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Halftime: Celtics-Raptors

04.07.10 at 8:14 pm ET
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At the half, the Celtics trail Toronto 54-52. Once again the Celtics are shooting over 50 percent (52.8 to be exact), but once again turnovers have once again been the Celtics Achilles heel. They have nine in the first half, four from Rajon Rondo alone.

Paul Pierce has been the go-to guy with 17 points, despite picking up two fouls in the first six minutes. Kendrick Perkins also played well with seven points and eight rebounds and Tony Allen continued his fine play off the bench with seven points.

Sonny Weems is on his way to having a career night for Toronto with 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting. The foul trouble is mounting for Toronto as Amir Johnson has four fouls and Reggie Evans has three.

As expected, Chris Bosh did not play for the Raptors. He had surgery to repair a facial fracture after he caught an elbow from Cleveland’s Antawn Jamison in their game Tuesday. It is unlikely that Bosh will play again during the regular season. He will be a free agent this summer.

It got worse for the Raptors as Hedo Turkoglu was inadvertently hit in the face by Tony Allen late in the first quarter and had to leave the game. He did not return and is listed as questionable with a nasal contusion.

Preview: Celtics-Raptors

04.07.10 at 10:41 am ET
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The Celtics are like the kid that doesn’t do their homework, and then is surprised when they fail the test. But failing the test does little to chasten them because — they seem to have reasoned collectively — if they had studied they would have done just fine.

Kendrick Perkins told reporters after Tuesday’s loss to the Knicks that they were making up defenses on the fly. Doc Rivers continues to insist that he’s not holding open tryouts for bench spots even though the rotation seems to change on a nightly basis. Kevin Garnett said the gods were punishing them.

Whatever. The Celtics, frankly, are a mess and what’s most disturbing about it is that they can’t seem to get it right even when they want to. They play the Raptors tonight, a team that is without Chris Bosh who broke his face Tuesday against the Cavs, and who have their own internal problems.

If you were a betting person you would take this game off your board because with these two teams, who knows which one will show up to play.

CELTICS (48-29, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.1

Points Allowed: 95.2

Differential: +3.9 (9th)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.4 (15th)

Defensive Efficiency: 103.1 (4th)

Pace: 91.8 (20th)

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

Injuries: None.

RAPTORS (38-39, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 103.9

Points Allowed: 105.8

Differential: -1.9 (18th)

Offensive Efficiency: 110.9 (7th)

Defensive Efficiency: 112.9 (30th)

Pace: 93.2 (11th)

Likely Starters: Jose Calderon, Sonny Weems, Hedo Turkoglu, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani

Injuries: Chris Bosh (Face fracture), Antoine Wright (Ankle) Read the rest of this entry »

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Injuries could impact Eastern Conference standings

04.07.10 at 12:47 am ET
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Andrew Bogut’s gruesome arm injury was the first of many to hit the Eastern Conference over the last few days. Joe Johnson will miss at least two games with a sprained thumb and Chris Bosh’s status is unclear after suffering a facial fracture on Tuesday against the Cavaliers.

With just over a week left in the regular season, these injuries could impact playoff seedings, including that of the Celtics.

Aside from the Washington Wizards, whom the C’s will play on Friday, their remaining competitors are vying for postseason positions. Johnson’s injury opens the window of opportunity for the Celtics to close in on the third seed (currently held by the Hawks), but their opponents will be trying to secure their own place in the playoffs as well.

Toronto Raptors (currently 8th)
Wednesday, April 7 @ Toronto

The Raptors were dealt a devastating blow on Tuesday when Bosh suffered an unintentional elbow to the face from Antawn Jamison. According to reports, Bosh will remain in Cleveland overnight. His status is unknown.

Milwaukee Bucks (currently 5th)

Saturday, April 10 @ Milwaukee
Wednesday, April 14 @ Boston

The Bucks posed problems for the Celtics when healthy, and now this team is on a mission without Bogut. The young squad still has plenty of weapons and will challenge the Celtics even if they don’€™t have their big man in the middle.

Chicago Bulls (currently one game out of 8th)

Tuesday, April 13 @ Chicago

If there is any team with something to play for right now, it is the Bulls. They were already edging toward the eighth spot. Now the injury of Bosh has created an opportunity for them to grab it if they can win enough games down the stretch.

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks

Fast Break: Celtics – Knicks

04.06.10 at 10:20 pm ET
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Nothing is guaranteed in the NBA, even when it’€™s a 48-win team taking on a team with 49 losses.

After jumping out to a 4-0 lead, the Celtics were outscored 10-2 by a Knicks squad determined to run the court. Kevin Garnett was the only Celtics to score in the first 6:53 (8 points). The C’€™s trailed 14-8 before Ray Allen drained a 3-pointer to get on the board. As the veterans fought to get the Celtics back in the game, the Knicks were powered by former Celtic Bill Walker and Earl Barron (see below). The Knicks led, 27-21, after the first quarter.

Doc Rivers turned to the bench to start the second quarter, including Nate Robinson who checked in late in the first. (Amid talks of playoff rotations, Robinson played eight minutes in the first half.) The second unit outscored the Knicks, 12-8, to pull within two points before the starters checked back in. Kendrick Perkins tied the game up at 40 apiece with five minutes to go, and the game transformed into a back-and-forth battle.

The Celtics trailed by one, 53-52, at halftime. After two quarters, Barron posted 13 points and 8 rebounds. Allen led all scorers with 14 points. Garnett scored 12 points off of 6-for-9 shooting.

In the third quarter, Danilo Gallinari took the Knicks’ three-point lead and ran away with it. He scored 19 points in the quarter off a combination of free throws, layups, and jumpshots. Even though the Celtics tied the game, 65-65, the Knicks pulled away on a 15-6 run. The Knicks led 86-78 after the third.

The Celtics opened the fourth quarter on a quick 7-0 run.  They reclaimed the lead, 88-86, off of a Michael Finley 3-pointer. Robinson added an energetic 5 points and assist in the first six minutes. But this was only the beginning of a shot-for-shot duel down the stretch. Even though the Celtics outscored the Knicks, 23-18, in the final quarter, they were unable to overcome their previous deficits. The game went down to the wire (see Turning Point below) before the Knicks prevailed, 104-101.

Gallinari led all players with 31 points. Ray Allen led the Celtics with 17.

Turning Point: After officials recalled a Danilo Gallinari 3-pointer with 36 seconds left, Paul Pierce turned the ball over on a bad pass. Chris Duhon stole the ball and David Lee connected for the game-winning layup. The Celtics failed to attempt a shot on their final possession.

Player of the Game: Danilo Gallinari scored a game-high 31 points, but Earl Barron set the tone early for the Knicks. He posted 17 points and 18 rebounds in just his second game with his team.

– Who is Earl Barron? Barron, 28, signed a 10-day contract with the Knicks last week. The undrafted center has appeared in nearly as many games in the NBA Development League as the NBA. He has played for the Miami Heat as well as several D-League teams. Barron scored 10 points in his Knicks debut on Saturday.

– Former Celtics Watch: Bill Walker posted 10 points and three rebounds in 28 minutes. J.R. Giddens added 4 points and 2 rebounds in 15 minutes.

– Six of the eight Knicks who played scored in double digits. Five out of 11 Celtics scored more than 10 points.

– The Celtics were outrebounded, 44-34. Lee and Barron combined for 27.

Halftime Wrap: Celtics – Knicks

04.06.10 at 8:49 pm ET
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Nothing is guaranteed in the NBA, even when it’s a 48-win taking on a team with 49 losses.

After jumping out to a 4-0 lead, the Celtics were outscored 10-2 by a Knicks squad determined to run the court. Kevin Garnett was the only Celtics to score in the first 6:53 (8 points). The C’s trailed 14-8 before Ray Allen drained a 3-pointer to get on the board. As the veterans fought to get the Celtics back in the game, the Knicks were powered by former Celtic Bill Walker and Earl Barron, who has played nearly as many games in the NBA as he has in the D-League. The Knicks led, 27-21, after the first quarter.

Doc Rivers turned to the bench to start the second quarter, including Nate Robinson who checked in late in the first. (Amid talks of playoff rotations, Robinson played eight minutes in the first half.) The second unit outscored the Knicks, 12-8, to pull within two points before the starters checked back in. Kendrick Perkins tied the game up at 40 apiece with five minutes to go, and the game has been a back-and-forth battle since then. The Celtics trail by one, 53-52, at halftime.

Allen leads all scorers with 14 points. Barron leads the Knicks with 13 points and 8 rebounds. Garnett scored 12 points off of 6-for-9 shooting. The Celtics are 10-11 when trailing at the half.

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