|10.29.09 at 1:10 am ET|
When the Celtics rolled to 66 wins and their 17th NBA title two seasons ago, they owned the third quarter.
That spirit has resurfaced in the first two games of this season. And on Wednesday night, during their home opener against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Celtics put on a clinic on how to systematically dismatle their opponent by outscoring the Bobcats, 25-10, holding the visitors to a miserable 3-for-17 shooting from the floor.
Even Larry Brown had to stop and pay homage after the game.
‘Our team wasn’t prepared, weren’t ready to play,” Brown said. “That’s nobody’s fault but the coach. We got a lot of guys scared to death and that’s tough. We talked before the game, you know, just don’t turn the ball over early and just hang in. I think we had, like, eight turnovers in the first eight or nine minutes, and that led to a lot of their points.”
The Bobcats were actually in the game, trailing just 32-29 when Boris Diaw hit a layup with 4:38 left in the second. The Celtics pushed the lead to 11 with a 10-2 run to close out the first half.
“Then we got back in the game, cut it to five with the ball and then all hell broke loose. But Doc’s done a great job with them. Danny’s done a great job of getting the right guys. He’s just a heck of a lot better coach and better prepared than we are.’
But as Larry Brown reminded everyone after the game, hell hath no fury like a team motivated. And the starting five of Garnett, Pierce, Perkins, Rondo and Ray Allen came out in the third quarter with a point to prove – or more accurately no points to allow.
The Celtics scored the first 15 points of the quarter and the game was over. There’s killer instinct for you, just like 2007-08.
‘I thought it was terrific; what did you think?” asked Doc Rivers rhetorically. “I thought it was great. I thought, obviously, very active early. Tons of deflections. We keep that number and it was extremely ‘ as high as you can possibly probably get it at halftime. And I thought we carried it over, contested starts. Last two nights, I thought it has been absolutely wonderful.’
What was interesting to note on Wednesday was the fact that the intensity began with the starters and continued with the reserves, an encouraging pattern over the season’s first two games.
“It’s very important,” Shelden Williams said. “That’s something that we try to do throughout the course of the season where If we got somebody on the ropes we gonna take them out. These guys are great guys. Theres no such thing as a blue out league. You can see that in basketball all the time you know be down 20 next thing you know it’s a tie game. We had a chance to get the team on the ropes and step your foot down and go from there.”
|10.29.09 at 12:50 am ET|
Kevin Garnett has already expressed fatigue with the number of questions about his right knee, but any time there’s a hard fall or a slip he’s going to be asked about it. He had such a play midway through the third quarter against the Bobcats when he dove for a loose ball and came up gingerly.
After the play concluded, Doc Rivers replaced Garnett who didn’t return to the court. That may have had as much to do with the score as anything else. The Celtics were up big at the time and things were beginning to get chippy with Kendrick Perkins, Tyson Chandler and Gerald Wallace all picking up technicals.
“My first intention was to get back and run,” Garnett said. “Then I saw Paul [Pierce] and [Rajon] Rondo in the break and I was like, ‘Know what? They got that.’ Let me just sit back here, rub this hip and that was it. It wasn’t nothing. Doc said it looked really bad, but it wasn’t nothing. I slid into second base. The ump said I was safe. I’m good with that.”
Garnett was smiling by the time he got to the bench.
“It was enough because of the lead, and it was just time for him to come out anyway at that point,” Rivers said. “But obviously every time he goes to the floor you just want him to get back up, and he did. He’s fine, but it does scare you because it was an awkward fall. The rarity is that you see a big [man] diving with a 25-point lead at the time. And that’s who he is, and that’s who you want him to continue to be.”
|10.28.09 at 10:06 pm ET|
If the Celtics opening night win over the Cavs was about their bench, Wednesday night’s 92-59 win over the Bobcats was all about the starting five. The unit that many feel is the best starting five in the league dominated the Bobcats early, regained control of the game in the second quarter and then blew their doors off to start the second half with a 15-0 run.
Every Celtic starter scored in double figures except for Kendrick Perkins who finished with nine points (and seven rebounds). Ray Allen led the way with 18 points and Paul Pierce had 15 including a thunderous tomahawk dunk that put an aesthetic cap on the C’s third quarter run.
Player of the game: Rajon Rondo. The young point guard is staring at a big week, and not just because the deadline to sign an extension is Saturday. With the Cavs and Bobcats in his rear view mirror Rondo gets his first shot at Derrick Rose and the Bulls since their epic playoff series when the two teams meet Friday. On Sunday, Rondo gets the reigning King of the Point Guards in New Orleans’ Chris Paul.
“Rondo has established himself as a guy that other players are going to get up for,” Doc Rivers said prior to the start of the game. “When you reach a level like Paul Pierce, there are no off nights because they’re going to try to make their name off you now.”
Rondo was brilliant against Charlotte with 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting and 11 assists (against only one turnover) as he outplayed both Ray Felton and DJ Augustin. Felton left the game in the second quarter after he hit the floor and had 15 stitches inserted into, and around, his mouth.
Turning point: With about seven minutes left in the second quarter the Bobcats had cut the Celtics lead to four points, 29-25. That’s when Doc Rivers put his starters back on the court. While the offense was still sluggish, the starting five held Charlotte to just six points the rest of that half and went into the locker room with a 42-31 lead.
The Celtics opened things up in the second half, but that stretch set the defensive tone.
* Rasheed Wallace is quickly on his way to becoming a folk hero. He received a loud ovation when he was introduced prior to the game and the cheers grew even more raucous when he knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter. What really brought the house down? Sheed’s karaoke version of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler. All that and he’s got pipes.
* Rivers said he wasn’t overly concerned with managing minutes despite the team playing the second half of a back-to-back and a third game in four days looming with Chicago Friday. He was as good as his word as Ray Allen played almost the entire first half (mainly because of foul trouble for Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels). Kevin Garnett also logged 18 minutes in the first half. It’s a situation that will be watched closely without Glen Davis.
* Speaking of Garnett, he took hard fall diving for a loose ball with about four minutes left in the third quarter. He appeared to be moving gingerly and Rivers quickly replaced him with Shelden Williams. By the time he got to the bench Garnett seemed to be fine, and while he didn’t return to the game he seemed to be in good spirits.
* Things got chippy in the third quarter between Perkins and Charlotte’s Tyson Chandler and Gerald Wallace. All three received technical fouls. You may remember Augustin saying last season that other teams weren’t intimidated by the Celtics anymore.
* Quote of the night came before the game when Pierce addressed the crowd following the introductions. “You see up there?” Pierce said gesturing toward the rafters. “There’s only 17 (banners) up there. We need another one.”
|10.28.09 at 7:41 pm ET|
Doc Rivers said before Wednesday’s game that Glen Davis had yet to address his teammates and offer up an apology for Sunday’s fight that led to a fractured right thumb, putting him out of action for at least six weeks.
“No, not yet. He’s got plenty of time,” Rivers laughed. “We’re not worried about that really. We had Cleveland last night, Charlotte tonight. That stuff will take care of itself.”
Rivers added that Davis, suspended by the team on Tuesday, was not in the building for Wednesday’s home opener. Danny Ainge indicated on Tuesday that he expected Davis to apologize to the team sometime on Wednesday when the team returned for the home opener.
|10.28.09 at 7:13 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said back-up forward Brian Scalabrine is getting close to returning to action. Scalabrine turned his right ankle when he inadvertently stepped on a camera at Madison Square Garden in the last week of the preseason.
“I don’t know the answer,” said Rivers, who has been talking to team trainer Ed Lacerte about his condition. “I know he’s going to dress tonight but he’s not playing. I didn’t ask Eddie. I knew he wasn’t playing in the first two. I think he’s close from the last talk I had with him.”
“Tonight would be a great game to have Scal because they play so many small lineups at the four [position], this would be perfect game for Scal,” Rivers added. “But he’s injured and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
|10.27.09 at 10:20 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — More than anything Tuesday night, the Celtics showed they can take the best an opponent has to offer and respond strong.
Not just any opponent on any court. The Celtics beat the Cavaliers, 95-89, on the home floor of one of the teams that’s expected to challenge Boston for Eastern Conference supremacy.
‘¢ Player of the game: Paul Pierce. His jumper in the final minute cemented a 23-point virtuoso performance for the captain and Boston’s first win of the season. He added 11 rebounds for good measure. Runner up: Rajon Rondo ‘ On a night when Danny Ainge said he continues to talk with Rondo’s agent on a new deal, Rondo set the tempo. With chaos swirling around the team in the wake of the Glen Davis debacle and a double-digit deficit early, Rondo restored order on the court.
‘¢ Turning point of the game: LeBron James gave the Celtics a gift when a Boston turnover with 4.7 seconds left in the third put the ball in his hands. He drove past Rasheed Wallace and had an easy lay-up, but the ball rimmed out and that seemed to give the Celtics a big reprieve. It also kept the crowd from exploding. Runner-up ‘ With 5:32 to go in the fourth. James hit one of two free throws to cut the C’s lead to four, 80-76, but Kendrick Perkins converts a three-point play to answer.
‘¢ The Celtics fell behind early by 14 twice, 19-5 and 21-7, but they closed the gap to 28-21 after one. Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels and Shelden Williams, filling in for Glen Davis, all played significant minutes in the first quarter as the Celtics found their legs.
‘¢ The Celtics turned up the defensive pressure in the second quarter. The team preached in the preseason that they will go only as far as their defense takes them, and it showed in the second, where they went from a seven-point deficit to a six-point lead, 51-45. They held the Cavs to 5-of-16 shooting from the floor. More impressive than the 31 percent they held the Cavs to from the field was the fact that Cleveland could only manage five field goals on their home court.
‘¢ Thanks in large part to the above, the C’s completely took the raucous Q crowd out of the game until a LeBron James three with two minutes remaining in the third.
‘¢ Bench belief. With the Celtics holding onto a seven-point lead heading into the fourth, the Celtics took the court with Wallace, Daniels, Eddie House and Shelden Williams. Those four joined Ray Allen as Doc Rivers was able to rest his big guns. Wallace hit a big jumper from the right wing to extend the lead to nine with 11:25 remaining. Daniels drilled a three moments later and the lead was an even 10.
‘¢ The Celtics took advantage of Cavalier play. Twice in the final two minutes, the Cavaliers turned the ball over and twice they forced up quick three-pointers trailing by just six when a two-pointer would have been the better play. Isn’t this why they got Shaq?
‘¢ James got his. LeBron finished with 38 points and eight assists but just four rebounds.
|10.27.09 at 8:00 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge both sounded like upset brothers before Tuesday’s game when they spoke of Glen Davis‘ indiscretions that resulted in a fractured thumb and a team-mandated suspension.
“Baby is not a bad person,” Rivers said before the game, speaking at length for the first time since details surfaced about Davis’ Sunday scuffle. “He made a bad mistake and he made a bad judgment. Unfortunately, it only takes one second or five seconds to make a mistake and then you have to live with it at times. And right now, he has to live with that mistake.
“But he’s not a bad kid. He’s growing, he’s maturing. Obviously, he has some ways to go. But we want to help him do that. I really feel that’s part of my job as a coach to help him as a person and not put him in ways like that.”