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A Sheed-less Loss

12.18.09 at 11:01 pm ET
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BOSTON – The Celtics were rolling with an 11-point lead before it happened.

Rasheed Wallace got whistled for an offensive foul with just over six minutes left in the second quarter. He didn’t agree with the call. During a timeout less than a minute later he got slapped with a technical. And then another one. Wallace had to be restrained by assistant coach Tom Thibodeau as he was tossed with 5:35 to go in the first half.

“That definitely helps because he can spread the floor,” Elton Brand said of the ejection. “He’s a good player for them and he was posting up and scoring, absolutely.”

Wallace had posted five points and three rebounds in nine minutes before he was ejected. The 76ers took advantage of his absence and tied the Celtics with 13 points in the remainder of the quarter. Big man Marreese Speights scored five points in the last 2:20 alone.

After having a 31-20 advantage on the boards in the first half, the Celtics were outrebounded 25-15 in the second. Without Wallace, the second unit combined for just four rebounds in the entire game before losing 98-97. (Recap here)

His absence played a role in the Celtics loss, but that doesn’t mean they are putting it all on him.

“Sheed’s a big part of our team,” said Kevin Garnett. “Not only does he give us length and a great voice out there on defense and offense, but he’s a presence in the post, a presence on the outside, and knows how to play and shares the ball. But that’s no excuse. I mean he didn’t have anything to do with our energy. That’s just a team thing and we’ll get it right.”

Added Brian Scalabrine, “This is the kind of game where we will all look at ourselves in the mirror and say we all should have done better. We’re not blaming anyone else on this one. We should have won this game tonight.”

The Celtics will practice on Saturday and host the Timberwolves on Sunday evening.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brian Scalabrine, Elton Brand, Kevin Garnett

Fast Break: Celtics vs. 76ers

12.18.09 at 10:05 pm ET
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BOSTON – The Celtics led by as many as 15 points but slowly let the 76ers creep back into the game and could not come through down the stretch. They lost 98-97 on Friday night at the Garden.

Player of the Game: After much criticism that he was not the right fit for the 76ers, Elton Brand tipped in the game-winning shot with 7.7 seconds left. He scored a game-high 23 points.

Turning Point: The Celtics had an 11-point lead before Rasheed Wallace got ejected in the second quarter. After that their rebounding decreased and the 76ers got back into the game by crashing the boards.

– The Celtics outrebounded the 76ers 31-20 in the first half. In the second half the Sheed-less team was outrebounded 25-15.

Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, and Marreese Speights were engaged in a battle of the bigs. Perkins finished the night with 12 points, 16 rebounds, Garnett posted 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Speights contributed 17 points, 10 boards.

Tony Allen scored 10 points (4-7 FG) in the first half.  He played nearly 10 minutes in the second half but did not attempt a shot.

Ray Allen was honored prior to the game for scoring his 20,000th career point last week in Washington against the Wizards. Kevin Garnett presented him with the official game ball at halfcourt.

Daniels Injury Update

12.18.09 at 6:51 pm ET
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Marquis Daniels, who underwent surgery on December 9 to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, had the stitches removed and received a new cast on Friday. He will be re-evaluated on January 8. Daniels continues to follow the 6-8 week timetable set after his surgery on December 9.

Daniels acknowledged surgery was the best decision, but admits he would have tried to play through the injury.

“I was going to try to play til the end of the season and get surgery at the end of the year,” he said prior to the Celtics-76ers game. “But I asked about the chances of it getting worse and permanent damage. We all felt it would be best just to get it done now.”

Daniels said the injury, which he believes may have began in his wrist, was affecting his overall game, from shooting to dribbling to rebounding. Doc Rivers picked up on it, too.

“It’s funny, if I hadn’t blown the whistle and told him to walk off the court, he might still be playing,” Rivers said, adding, “It wasn’t hard [to decide], it was so obvious.”

Daniels hopes to travel with the team for their Christmas Day game in his hometown of Orlando and their upcoming West Coast road trip.

In the meantime, he is learning how to adjust with the cast. He has trouble tying his shoes — he just leaves them tied when he takes them off now — and found it difficult to sleep.

But Daniels’ biggest adjustment may have nothing to do with his injury. It’s the frigid Boston weather.

Celtics-Sixers Preview

12.18.09 at 11:37 am ET
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What a wonderful thing hindsight can be. In the summer of 2007, the Celtics traded most of their accumulated young talent and assets to acquire Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. This bold action by Danny Ainge has obviously proved to be brilliant thanks to a championship and two-plus years of contention. It seems obvious now, but at the time there was concern that Ainge had given away the store for a couple of vets with a lot of mileage on their odometers, even vets whose final destination was the Hall of Fame.

In the summer of 2008, new Sixers general manager Ed Stefansi thought he had also pulled off a brilliant coup by signing free agent Elton Brand to a massive five-year contract. It seemed obvious then that adding an automatic low-post scorer to a young, athletic, perimeter-oriented team would be a difference-maker. Less then two years in, Stefanski’s power play has proven dubious at best, and franchise-wrecking at worst.

So dubious that Stefanski was compelled to hire Allen Iverson for one last go-round in a desperate attempt to boost attendance. After a sold-out debut, the fans have stayed away and Iverson is hurt after playing too many minutes too fast. Now the Sixers are just another bad NBA team with too many bad contracts and no direction.

CELTICS (20-4, 10-0 last 10)

Points Per Game: 100.8

Points Allowed: 91.2

Differential: +9.6 (First)

Offensive Efficiency: 110.0 (Ninth)

Defensive Efficiency: 99.4 (First)

Pace: 91.3 (24th)

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

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

SIXERS (6-19, 1-9 last 10)

Points Per Game: 97.2

Points Allowed: 101.6

Differential: – 4.4 (26th)

Offensive Efficiency: 106. 7 (17th)

Defensive Efficiency: 111.4 (28th)

Pace: 90.8 (27th)

Likely Starters: Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Elton Brand, Sam Delambert

Injuries: Allen Iverson (knee), Lou Williams (jaw)

Key Matchup: Allen and Pierce vs. Iguodala and Young

One of the side effects of the Brand signing is that Iguodala was forced to slide down to the off-guard position and Young to the small forward spot. During their short time together, Iguodala and Young have proven far more capable as forwards, albeit undersized forwards. Brand changed that dynamic and while it’s not his fault that his general manager didn’t understand his own team’s dynamic, it has proven to be an ill fit. Still, Iguodala and Young are a tough matchup for whoever draws the assignment.

Celtics in a Paragraph: The regular season is a process. A long, slow, drawn-out process. Right now the Celtics are playing their best basketball of the season, and have a nice stretch of spread-out home games to continue their winning ways before embarking on a west coast road trip with a stopover in Orlando on Christmas Day. Until then their enemy is the process.

Sixers in a Paragraph: For all that is wrong with Philly, there is one thing they do well and that one thing has proven to be the Celtics Achilles heel — offensive rebounding. Keep the Sixers off the offensive glass and there isn’t much left in their bag of tricks. Philly racked up 12 offensive rebounds in its last meeting with the Celtics, which helped the Sixers stay in the game until Rondo took over in the fourth quarter.

What to Watch For: In one of the more bizarre subplots of the NBA season, three of the Celtics four losses have come at home on Friday nights. It’s not much to go on if you’re the Sixers, but it beats hoping Holiday can keep up with Rondo.

Read More: Celtics, Preview, Sixers,

Allen to host Giving Tree event

12.17.09 at 5:20 pm ET
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On Saturday, December 19 Ray Allen will be participating in a Giving Tree event at the Natick Collection.

Beginning at 10am, shoppers may select an ornament from the tree, located in the Infinity Pool Court. Each ornament includes the wish list of a child from the Boys and Girls Club of Boston’€™s Jordan Club in Chelsea and the Boston Centers for Youth and Families.

Allen will sign autographs for Giving Tree shoppers from 4pm to 6pm to show his appreciation of their generosity.

‘€œNot only am I trying to give back, I’m encouraging people to give back,’€ Allen said. ‘€œAnd people are doing it, it’s not like it’s for me, but it’s a way to help. We’ve all been that child that hasn’t gotten what we wanted for Christmas. So if we can try to step into the community and try to find kids and try to make their wishes come true, the giving part is the best part of the holidays. I like to be on that end of it.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Ray Allen,

Danny Ainge on the Big Show

12.17.09 at 5:20 pm ET
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Danny Ainge joined the Big Show for his weekly call. He talked to the guys about Rajon Rondo’s maturation, Paul Pierce’s growth and the plan for Glen Davis to return. Ainge also told the guys that the Celtics had internal discussions about Allen Iverson, but that the timing wasn’t right.

The team keeps rolling on, so all that hoopla and fear when the team struggled for a week is all in the rear-view mirror now?

The team is playing well and we’re still not on all cylinders. We’re not playing great, but we’re finding ways to win and I’m happy with the way the tram is playing. I like our team chemistry and I think Doc [Rivers] is doing a magnificent job with the guys. We saw Rasheed really coming along and fitting in and getting into the low post and doing some damage. Our defense has picked up recently. We’re still not rebounding the ball well enough, but the team is doing well.

Let’s talk about Rajon Rondo. You defended him earlier in the year and you thought he was doing better than [we] thought. He seems to have more confidence in his shot. Do you see him expanding his game?

Rondo, the shot, I don’t really think that much about it. I like that he’s taking it with confidence. I like it when he’s playing free. For me it’s so much more. Arguably he’s the most valuable player on our team.

Notice you said that after you signed him.

Right. You know what? I’ve been saying that since we signed him. He’s playing as good these last 10 or 12 games or so as he’s played in his career.

Getting back to the shot. It’s not a huge concern because of all the other things that he does. But the fact that he’s taking it, is now forcing teams to play him a little bit differently. Make sense?

Well yeah, but I’m not sure they’re going to play him differently until he makes it consistently over a sustained period of time. First, the alternative of him shooting shots instead of taking it to the rim because he’s so dynamic going to the basket and getting in the paint, running along the baseline and creating havoc. So, I think it’s not just because he doesn’t shoot the ball great from the outside that teams play him the way they do. They’ve got to prevent him from getting into the paint and penetrating on their defense. Teams will continue to play him like that. His confidence will grow. He’ll have really good shooting stretches, not so good shooting stretches, like most shooters.

I’m just excited about how hard he’s playing. He seems so confident and so in control. There seems to be a trust with him and the players and with Doc. Maybe the contract situation freed him up and he’s maturing a little bit. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Big Show, Danny Ainge,

Doc Rivers on D & C

12.17.09 at 10:44 am ET
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Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan to talk about what the Celtics still need to do better, whether he holds his breath when Kevin Garnett goes up for an alley-oop and which teams in the East give the Celtics the most trouble. Doc also tells the guys how good Rajon Rondo has been this year.

Is this a good time for a break or would you rather keep playing?

It’s the way our schedule has worked out. We’ve had a couple of these and done pretty well with these so far, so we’ll see.

Steve Kerr said that no one will ever break the 1995-96 Bulls record of 72-10, do you agree with that and do you want to do it?

I would love to do it, if you had a team that’s 12 deep and all that. I don’t think you should ever not do it, if you have an opportunity to do it. As long as you’re not taxing your guys. Having said that, I agree with Steve Kerr. I can’t see anyone ever breaking that. People forget that year that they actually had one game where they were up by 18 against Dallas and the second unit came in and lost the lead and Phil Jackson refused to put the starters back in. They lost that game and could have had one more win.

If you did break that record, does that mean that you would have to win the championship, or you would go down as one of the greatest postseason disappointments?

When you do that, obviously, you’ve proven that for the regular season that you’re the best team. Where I think it’s different than football — one game can upset you. You can also get a bad matchup in basketball that can affect you. Having said that, if you win 72 games you’re probably going to win it. Most likely.

You watch [Rajon] Rondo and [Kevin Garnett] do an alley-oop and you hold your breath hoping that he doesn’t land on someone’s foot. Do you do that as the coach?

No, I did early on. I don’t anymore. I think Kevin’s fine. Early on in the first couple of weeks of the season, and even in preseason especially, whenever he left his feet I was his concerned. Now that’€™s all gone. They have it down pretty well, obviously, so I have no problem with it. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: D & C, Doc Rivers,
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