|12.12.09 at 10:30 pm ET|
Another night, another city, another Celtics victory.
The Celtics have played a dozen road games so far this season and they have left town with a victory eleven times. The only time the C’s suffered a defeat on the road was four weeks ago to the day in Indiana. There was no danger of a repeat performance in a 106-80 win over the Bulls on Saturday, and not just because the Celtics have figured out the road game better than every other team in the NBA.
In Chicago, the Celtics not only caught a team playing the second night of a back-to-back, with the night before going to overtime. They also caught a Bulls team in crisis mode. The double digit losses are mounting and it may only be a matter of time before the Bulls start looking for a new coach.
Credit the Celtics with doing what they needed to do and continuing their winning ways on the road, but the Bulls are in big trouble.
Player of the Game: Rajon Rondo. The Celtics point guard has been playing his best basketball of the season and he continued his run with 16 points, 14 assists, seven rebounds and three steals. Every time Rondo and Derrick Rose match up has the potential to be a special occasions, but at this point in their careers, Rondo is clearly the superior player.
Turning Point: If the Bulls were going to make it a game, they needed to make a stand to start the second half. Instead they degenerated in a morass of turnovers, bad shots and shoddy defense. Game over.
* Brad Miller got a little payback on Rondo early in the first quarter when he collared Rondo on a drive to the basket and threw him to the ground, getting a flagrant foul in the process. Rondo had whacked Miller across the face during the playoffs last season, drawing blood. To Rondo’s credit he continued to attack the middle of the Bulls defense.
* Later in the game Miller got into it a little bit with Kendrick Perkins with the duo getting called for a double foul after Miller hooked perk and Perk flipped him to the ground.
* Paul Pierce took a bit of a beating. He hurt his right shoulder in the third quarter and then banged knees with Luol Deng later in the quarter. Pierce stayed in, and showed yet again why he is one of the toughest players in the league, but the Celtics can ill afford to be without Pierce while Marquis Daniels rehabs from surgery.
* The Celtics bench played very well in the first half and increased the lead while the starters were getting a rest. Vinny Del Negro on the other hand worked his starters big minutes one night removed from an overtime win over the Warriors. The second half was fairly predictable.
* Without Daniels, the Celtics don’t really have a second ballhandler. They can get away with it for a while, particularly against teams like Chicago that don’t pressure guards, but Daniels’ loss will be felt at some point.
* All five starters scored in double figures as did Wallace and Eddie House.
|12.10.09 at 11:18 pm ET|
A 7-12 record can be deceiving when the team that carries it features Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison. The Wizards came to play on Thursday night, but ultimately it was the Celtics‘ chemistry and experience that prevailed, 104-102, in Washington.
The Celtics went up 14 at halftime but came out cold in the third quarter. The Wizards went on a 22-6 run to start the second half before the Celtics fought back, 13-2, to end the quarter. With both teams swapping buckets in the fourth, this game could have gone either way. It came down to clutch shots and free throws, with the Celtics ultimately claiming the two-point edge.
Player of the game: After being benched in the first quarter with two personal fouls, Rajon Rondo carried the Celtics to the win. Rondo posted 21 points (10-20 FG), 11 assists, and three rebounds. Six points and three assists came in the final nine minutes of the game. He recorded his ninth double-double of the season. Segue into …
Turning point of the game: With just over a minute to go and the game tied at 98 apiece, Kevin Garnett set a pick that opened up the baseline for Rondo. Rondo got up for a one-handed slam that made a statement and put the Celtics back on top.
– Ray Allen scored his 20,000th career point in the third quarter. He now ranks 33rd in career points all-time and fifth among current players behind Garnett (21,601). Click here for more on the milestone.
– The Celtics outrebounded the Wizards, the league’s third-best rebounding team, 40-34.
– The C’s improved to 10-2 both when leading at halftime and scoring 50+ points in the first half.
– All of the Celtics starters scored in double digits. Kendrick Perkins (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Rondo posted double-doubles.
– Tony Allen posted eight points and three rebounds in his second game back (ankle).
|12.10.09 at 10:04 pm ET|
‘Twenty-thousand, to me, is a wondrous accomplishment,” Allen said on Tuesday prior to the Celtics-Bucks game. “I think for the most part it’s all about longevity and staying healthy, taking care of my body, being on some good teams. But you think about all the great assists that lead to a lot of those baskets, so it does allow me to reflect on the guys that I played with, the coaches that allowed me to make the game easier, just understanding the game.’
Allen boasts a career average of 20.8 points per game (44.8 percent FG), 12th among active players.
|12.10.09 at 3:56 pm ET|
The first returns from the 2010 NBA All-Star Game voting are in and Kobe Bryant has an early lead.
Bryant received the most votes among all players (692,518) while Dwyane Wade leads the East with 672,227.
Each of the Celtics starters are ranked in the top 10 at their position, but there are a few surprises.
GUARD: Rajon Rondo ranks eighth among Eastern Conference guards despite leading the conference in assists. Allen Iverson, who has played five games this season, has received nearly 25,000 more votes than Rondo. Looking across the league, though, Rondo received more votes than Deron Williams, who bests Rondo in assists, scoring, and rebounding. Ray Allen ranks fourth in the East.
CENTER: Kendrick Perkins is ranked ninth in the East. The surprise is that Rasheed Wallace, who not only is a reserve but also went through an offensive slump earlier this season, received more than 15,000 more votes than Perkins. Last year’s fan-favorite Dwight Howard has a 400,000-vote lead over second-ranked Shaquille O’Neal in the conference.
Forwards: LeBron James (649,327), Kevin Garnett (533,187), Chris Bosh (303,550), Paul Pierce (131,379), Josh Smith (109,404), Danny Granger (100,122), Andre Iguodala (75,146), Michael Beasley (58,461), Hedo Turkoglu (55,416), Rashard Lewis (46,073, Luol Deng (37,428)
Guards: Dwyane Wade (672,227), Vince Carter (292,002), Gilbert Arenas (212,526), Ray Allen (208,276), Derrick Rose (196,059), Allen Iverson (136,976), Joe Johnson (118,964), Rajon Rondo (113,371), Jose Calderon (68,084), Mike Bibby (48,935)
Centers: Dwight Howard (625,279), Shaquille O’Neal (206,657), Andrea Bargnani (67,310), Al Horford (52,747), Andrew Bogut (45,920), Brook Lopez (39,420), Jermaine O’Neal (38,956), Rasheed Wallace (36,855), Kendrick Perkins (19,408), Brad Miller (17,188) Tyson Chandler (14,062), Samuel Dalembert (13,969)
|12.10.09 at 11:18 am ET|
What to make of the Washington Wizards? They started the 2009-10 season losing seven of their first nine games, which pretty much knocked them out of sleeper contender status in the Eastern Conference. Then Antawn Jamison returned from an injury and the Wizards went 5-5, which gets them back into playoff contention. (Hey, it is the Eastern Conference). When healthy — they are also without Mike Miller — the Wizards are probably a playoff team and they have played the Celtics tough over the last few years.
The Celtics have their own health issues with Marquis Daniels expected to be out for up to two months after wrist surgery. Tony Allen made his return Tuesday and provided the usual Tony Allen delights — a couple of hustle plays, a turnover on a pass to a guy in the courtside seats, a charging foul that a bull in Pamplona would have avoided. But not even the return of TA could derail the Celtics express. The C’s have won eight straight and are sure to be gracing the top of various power rankings shortly.
CELTICS (17-4, 9-1 last 10)
Points Per Game : 100.0
Offensive Efficiency: 109.4 (8th)
Points Allowed: 90.5
Defensive Efficiency: 99.0 (First)
Pace: 91.0 (25th)
WIZARDS (7-12, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 96.7
Offensive Efficiency: 103.8 (24th)
Points Allowed: 100.4
Defensive Efficiency: 107.8 (20th)
Pace: 92.6 (15th)
Key Matchup: Perkins vs. Haywood. The Celtics are not a good rebounding team. Doc Rivers and the players have pegged it as a team-wide issue. The bigs have taken responsibility. The guards have taken responsibility. That’s all good from an Ubuntu perspective, but it wouldn’t hurt if players started putting bodies on their opponents. The Wizards don’t do a lot of things well, but they do hit the offensive glass, particularly Haywood who is one of the best in the league. Also keep an eye on Andray Blatche and Rasheed Wallace when the second units are on the floor.
The Wizards in a Paragraph: We’ve gone this far and we haven’t mentioned Agent Zero. Possibly because it seems that Gilbert Arenas doesn’t know who Gilbert Arenas is anymore. He started the year being all business, then he dropped that for his “old” persona which now seems as dated as Windows XP. Ernie Grunfeld made a bold move in the offseason bringing in Miller and Randy Foye to compliment his veterans and intriguing collection of young talent. It was always going to take time, but injuries have set back the timetable and the Wizards don’t have much time left.
The Celtics in a Paragraph: The C’s are back on the road for three straight, which brings up an interesting point. Did you know the Lakers have played 16 of their first 20 games at home? To put it another way, the Celtics played as many road games last week as the Lakers have played all season.
What to Watch For: This seems simple. Keep the Wizards off the offensive glass. Now that Daniels will be out for a significant chunk of time, who takes his minutes? Tony Allen gets first crack. Can he handle the job?
|12.10.09 at 10:45 am ET|
1. LA Lakers (1): Let’s just get this out of the way: They’ve played four road games so far. Four! It’s a schedule straight from the desk of superfans Jack Nicholson and Flea. I have no doubt, obviously, that they’re a great team. But we’ll know just how great when they’re required to leave the block.
2. Boston (3): You don’t have to look very far for encouraging signs on this team. Kevin Garnett is back, in body and soul, hitting the floor for loose balls and cussing more than Richard Pryor on the Sunset Strip; Rajon Rondo had a game the other night against Milwaukee when I counted at least a half-dozen breathtaking assists; and Paul Pierce, if you can believe this, is making nearly half his shots. The Celtics also have been the best road team in the league. The only thing I don’t like is how they routinely get killed on the offensive boards.
3. Orlando (2): The Magic may have more untapped talent than anyone in the game: Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat are good players who sometimes have a tough time getting some run, and Jameer Nelson is hurt. Yet they’ve been dominant, at home and on the road. The only problem they have is in the stands, where their No. 1 fan USED to sit but is now defending himself against Elin’s backswing and the tabloids. (The Perkins waitress, Tiger? I’d be afraid to order breakfast from her, so you know I can’t understand how you … well, you know … did what you did.)
4. Denver (6): Although he has no chance of being league MVP, Carmelo Anthony should be considered for the award. Why no chance? He scores too much and doesn’t rebound enough for his height. That’s twisted logic, but that’s the history of the award. Basically, we love little guys who can really score and pass; we love little guys who can score all right and pass very well; we love little guys who score and do nothing else … but we don’t love 6-foot-8 guys who score and don’t crash the boards. It’s too bad. If it were up to me, Melo would get it.
5. Atlanta (7): The Hawks aren’t good just because they’re a young team that grew up. They’re good because now they have veteran fallback plans, so to speak, if any of the starters have off nights. The other night, for example, Jamal Crawford came off the bench and scored 29. It’s the element that young teams such as the Blazers, Grizzlies and Thunder still don’t have.
6. Dallas (4): Reason No. 473 that I’m not an NBA scout: I saw Jose Juan Barea play several times when he was at Northeastern, and I never thought, “Now, there’s an NBA player.” But check out this kid. He certainly doesn’t look the part, but he’s one of the Mavericks’ most important players.
|12.09.09 at 11:02 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan for his weekly call-in. The guys asked Doc about minutes, rebounding and Kevin Garnett’s hot streak. They also gave the coach the chance to sound off on his favorite ex-ref, Tim Donaghy.
Things are going well, do you worry about pushing them too hard in December and the possibility that they will be spent in April and May?
No, I don’t worry about that. I hear all that talk and I really think it’s silly sometimes. Let’s say you win 25 games in a row and someone says that’s bad for you, I’ve never got that. Obviously if you play your guys 40 minutes a night or something like that, then that’s different. But if you’re playing your guys their normal minutes and they’re winning games, isn’t that what they’re supposed to do. You want to improve. Any team that doesn’t improve during the year is not going to do much in the playoffs. That’s what the regular season is for.
Is it safe to say that with a veteran team, that margin to improve is less than a young team?
Our improvement is not going to come by individual basketball skill. Kevin, Paul [Pierce], Ray [Allen], Rasheed [Wallace] they’re not going to be different players by the end of the year, so our improvement is all about the team part of it.
All about the continuity, all about reading each other on offense and defense and that’s what we’re doing.
I love our pace right now with the practices and the game minutes. If we can continue on this pace that would be great. With injuries that come up during the regular season you know that’s not going to be possible. But if we could stay on this pace, we practice at the right time, we’re pacing ourselves in games as far as minutes, but you’ve been around long enough to know with injuries and things like that, that’s when you are pressed.
Does the division race mean anything?
I’m going to answer your question by saying I don’t know how many we’ve won. There’s your answer now that I think about it.
You may have locked it up last night.
For us it’s more about home court. If you can get home court that’s huge and that’s what we want to get. That’s what we’re looking at. You look at playoff positioning and home court advantage far more than you look at division. Read the rest of this entry »
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