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Fast break: Celtics-Pistons

03.02.10 at 10:15 pm ET
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The Celtics don’t need to care about style point right now, which is good because there weren’t many to be had Tuesday night in Detroit. For three quarters they couldn’t shake the Pistons, who at 21-39 are the definition of lackluster. That the Celtics came away with a 105-100 victory is really the only thing that matters.

The big picture is still cloudy for this team, and it will take much better efforts than this to compete with elite teams in the Eastern Conference. Perhaps a win like this will finally convince the Celtics that this is their reality now. Perhaps not. We’ll simply have to wait and see if they are ready to move beyond their professed “boredom” and get to work.

In the meantime they will surely take a win, no matter how unsightly or ugly it was. If they are looking for positive signs, their bench was the difference-maker, particularly Nate Robinson, who came to the rescue in the fourth quarter. Rajon Rondo, who had one of the worst 15-point, 11-assist games you will ever see, managed to make all four of his free throws in the final minute.

But the most important thing was the victory. Now they have to do it again Wednesday night in Boston.

Turning Point: Trailing by three points at the start of the fourth quarter, the Celtics bench took over. Up to that point there had not been much of note for the second unit. But then Nate Robinson got hot and Glen Davis got active. The bench went on 17-6 run that gave the Celtics an 89-81 lead.

Player of the Game: Rasheed Wallace didn’t score the most points and he didn’t grab the most rebounds. He didn’t dominate in the paint and he didn’t bury a bunch of 3-pointers. He did, however, play the kind of defense the Celtics expect from him and he did take good shots within the rhythm of the offense. Wallace also had a big block on Jonas Jerkebo down the stretch, making his second game in Detroit a little more memorable than the first.

* Robinson played the majority of the fourth quarter and scored 14 points in just 15 minutes of action. He energized the Celtics offensively.

* Ray Allen scored 18 points and he did most of his damage in the second half when the Celtics needed it the most. He also had a bizarre turnover when he simply slipped and lost the ball out of bounds.

* Detroit shot 3-for-20 from 3-point range, while the C’s went 9-for-18.

* Paul Pierce returned to the lineup after missing the last three games games. Pierce drained a 3-pointer and didn’€™t appear to favor his injured thumb. He finished with nine points, one rebound and one assist in 29 minutes.

* The news wasn’€™t so good on Kendrick Perkins who sat out the game with the flu. This is the first game that Perkins has missed all season. With Perkins out, Shelden Williams became the second big man off the bench in Doc Rivers‘€™ rotation. He has played just seven minutes since Jan. 14.

* Austin Daye, the son of former Celtic Darren Daye, had a big half with nine points and four rebounds for Detroit.

* Kevin Garnett picked up a technical foul late in the half.

Read More: Celtics, Fast Break, Pistons,

Third quarter: Celtics-Pistons

03.02.10 at 9:34 pm ET
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After three quarters, the Piston lead 75-72 and this game looks like it’s going to go down to the wire. The Celtics led by as many as eight points, but they haven’t been able to put Detroit away.

The Celtics have had balanced scoring at least. All five starters have at least seven points. Ray Allen leads them with 12 points, while Rajon Rondo has 11 points and 11 assists.

Rookie Jonas Jerkebo has been a major problem for the Celtics tonight. He has 14 points and six rebounds and has been all over the floor offensively and defensively. Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince rolled his ankle on teammate Ben Gordon’s foot late in the quarter.

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Halftime: Celtics-Pistons

03.02.10 at 8:52 pm ET
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After 24 minutes at the Palace the Celtics once again find themselves with work to do against a sub. 500 team. Still, the Celtics will take their 55-52 lead, no matter how poorly they played.

Detroit still can’t find the range from long distance (0-for-10), but the Pistons have done their work inside, particularly Jason Maxiell who has four of their nine offensive rebounds.

Rajon Rondo has 11 points and six assists, but he also has four turnovers, and did not play well until the final minutes of the half. The one bright spot for the Celtics was the play of Shelden Williams who saw his first significant action in over a month and responded with four points and two rebounds in eight minutes.

Austin Daye, the son of former Celtic Darren Daye, had a big half with nine points and four rebounds for Detroit.

Kevin Garnett picked up a technical foul late in the half.

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First quarter: Celtics-Pistons

03.02.10 at 8:14 pm ET
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It wasn’t a thing of beauty but the Celtics and Pistons played to a 25-25 tie after one quarter. The Celtics shot just 39 percent, but went 3-for-5 from 3-point range. The Pistons weren’t much better missing all five of their 3-point attempts and turning the ball over five times.

Paul Pierce returned to the lineup after missing the last three games games. Pierce drained a 3-pointer and didn’t appear to favor his injured thumb. The news wasn’t so good on Kendrick Perkins who sat out the game with the flu. This is the first game that Perkins has missed all season.

With Perkins out, Shelden Williams became the second big man off the bench in Doc Rivers‘ rotation. He has played just seven minutes since Jan. 14.

Read More: Celtics, Pistons,

Reports: C’s have interest in Finley

03.02.10 at 8:21 am ET
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According to multiple reports, the Celtics are interested in swingman Michael Finley, who asked for and was given his release by the Spurs Monday. Finley, who turns 37 Saturday, played just 25 games this season for the Spurs, averaging 3.7 points.

Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports quoted Finley’s agent, Henry Thomas, who explained why Finley wanted to leave San Antonio after five seasons: “It was a situation where the Spurs understood why Michael wanted to pursue other opportunities elsewhere. He wants to be part of the mix again. He’€™s a competitor who has never been in that position [of not playing] before.’€

Finley broke into the NBA in 1995 with the Suns, who drafted him 21st overall out of Wisconsin. He was traded midway through the following season to Dallas, where he played 8½ years, including two All-Star seasons in 1999-2000 and 2000-01. He joined the Spurs in 2005 as a free agent and won an NBA title in 2007. He has a career average of 15.9 points per game.

Doc: ‘You’ve got to get your hands dirty’

03.01.10 at 4:46 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Following a day off Sunday to reflect on a stunningly bad performance in a 104-96 loss to the hapless Nets, Doc Rivers played the part of coach/philosopher/team psychologist on Monday at Celtics practice as his team prepared for Detroit on the road Tuesday night.

‘€œI would like it not to but this is basketball and these are teams,” Rivers said of a possible wake-up call courtesy the six-win Nets. “It happens. We’€™re not used to it happening here but it happens. I’€™m not going to overreact to it. I can tell you that. But we just need work on it and we need to see it. Sometimes you can see it on film, sometimes you can see it on the floor and sometimes you’€™ve got to get your butt whipped a couple of times before you realize it’€™s a problem. I’€™m hoping all of those are going to help us.’€

The Celtics are 36-21, a half-game behind third-place Atlanta in the Eastern Conference. But a closer check of the standings reveals that only the Cavaliers appear clearly out of reach. The Celtics have just one more loss than second seed Orlando in the East and Denver in the West. Dallas, Boston, Utah and Atlanta all have 21 losses.

[Click here to listen to Doc Rivers break down what’s been bothering him and his team.]

‘€œWe’€™re a game behind Denver, three or four behind the Lakers. As bad as we ‘€˜so called’€™ have played, we’€™re still in the thick of things, and that’€™s what you want at this time because we haven’€™t played well. In some ways, maybe we’€™re lucky in that way that other teams have faltered  in other places as well. But we have a lot of games to get it right and we’€™re going to have to do that.’€

But Rivers did isolate one area that needs to improve. The Celtics are just 16-11 at home. Of the 13 teams in the NBA with more losses on their home court, only No. 8 Portland in the West would be a playoff team.

‘€œI don’€™t know why. Blame the wives.” Rivers joked before offering perspective. “It is troubling. Of all the things to me, even with the rebounding and everything, is how we have performed at home. If you ask me, the one thing that has bothered me more than anything is that because I don’€™t care what your injuries are, whatever, you should win at home. On the road, it becomes difficult. At home, you should win those games. And we haven’€™t.’€

So, in short, the Celtics coach has the mother of all motivational jobs ahead of him, with a talented team that is clearly underachieving right now.

“It’s a great challenge,” he said. “Obviously, you would love it to be easy but if you want to do something special, I don’t think it’s ever going to be easy. You’ve got to get your hands dirty. You have to dive into it and see what you can come out with. It’s a good challenge. It really is.”

Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, NBA,

Nate’s learning curve

03.01.10 at 2:48 pm ET
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The initial fanfare over Nate Robinson’s arrival in Boston has simmered down and now the newest Celtic is simply trying to dig in and digest everything, especially the team’s defensive scheme.

“It’€™s getting there,” Robinson said. “I’€™m trying to figure out this defensive playbook that’€™s pretty crazy. The offense is going to come easy. For me and Marcus [Landry] everything is coming at us fast. It’€™s like in baseball, they put you other and say, ‘Hit a 100 miles an hour fastball.’ It’€™s like, How do I do that? You just got to keep playing and keep working.”

While Robinson adjusts to Tom Thibodeau’s scheme, with its emphasis on fighting over screens, help defense and constant communication, Doc Rivers had tried to help Robinson feel more comfortable offensively by incorporating a handful of plays from Mike D’Antoni’s Knicks offense.

“It’€™s kind of cool, because I’€™ve got to be out there trying to coach it,” Robinson said. “They like the offense that we showed them and we’€™re trying to run with it. I know when I’€™m in I’€™m going to be calling that play 99.9 percent of the time. I’€™m going to be real comfortable with that.”

Rivers has also utilized Robinson in a backcourt tandem with Rajon Rondo at times. That is something of a league-wide trend to have teams play two quick point guards together to take advantage of the NBA’s rules changes outlawing hand-checks on the perimeter.

It’s an intriguing lineup, but Rivers isn’t quite sold on it yet because of the size aspect, but in limited bursts a Rondo-Robinson backcourt could be a game-changer once both players get comfortable. “It’€™s a good combination,” Rivers said. “It’€™s not one I love because it makes us really small, obviously.”

Robinson himself noted that he is treading lightly. “You can’t really rush things like this.”

Like everything else with the Celtics these days, it’s just going to take time for them to get things right.

Read More: Nate Robinson, Rajon Rondo,
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