|03.03.10 at 9:58 pm ET|
Now, this is what the Celtics have been looking for.
Playing the second night of a back-to-back, and at home where they have struggled incomprehensibly this season, the Celtics finally put together a complete game in a 104-80 destruction of the Charlotte Bobcats Wednesday night at TD Garden.
The Celtics shot 54 percent, while holding the Bobcats to 36 percent shooting. It was eerily reminiscent of their first meeting of the season way back in October when the Celtics won 92-59.
The starters were solid, the bench was terrific, everyone is healthy and for the first time in a long time the Celtics looked like the team we’ve grown accustomed to watching over the last two and a half seasons.
Turning Point: Coming out for the second half the Celtics had a nine-point lead, which was nice but considering the way they had played for most of the half should have been much higher. Another night of post-game laments seemed imminent. But the Celtics flipped the script, outscoring Charlotte 28-16 in the third quarter. It was the kind of third-quarter effort that has been lacking since December.
Player of the Game: Paul Pierce scored 27 points in just 27 minutes of action. He made nine of 13 shots and was 4-for-6 from 3-point range. That’s impressive in and of itself, but what made Pierce’s performance even more remarkable is that the 27 points was the most he has scored in a game since scoring 35 against the Hawks on Jan. 29.
* Ray Allen scored only three points and took just two shots in 17 minutes. He had early foul trouble and never got on track, but the Celtics didn’t need him on this night.
* The Celtics led by as many as 17 points in the second quarter before the Bobcats cut the lead down to four.
* Nate Robinson electrified the crowd with a buzzer-beater 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter. He made his first four shots, all 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.
* Kendrick Perkins returned to the lineup after missing the previous game with the flu and scored five points early.
|03.03.10 at 9:23 pm ET|
Looking to put some distance between themselves and the Bobcats, the Celtics finally put together a complete third quarter turning a nine-point halftime lead into an 82-61 advantage.
Paul Pierce continued his hot shooting and scored 13 of his 27 points in the quarter. It’s the most points for Pierce since he scored 35 against the Hawks in late January. Kevin Garnett is the only starter in double-figures with 12 points. Somewhat surprisingly, Ray Allen has scored only three points and taken just two shots.
|03.03.10 at 8:39 pm ET|
The Celtics led by as many as 17 points, but have to settle for a 54-45 lead at the break.
After a Marquis Daniels jumper gave them a 40-25 lead, the Celtics were held without a field goal for the next five minutes, while Charlotte’s D.J. Augustin got to the rim at will. Charlotte cut the lead to four before a late surge led by Paul Pierce, who leads all scorers with 14 points.
The Celtics shot 63 percent and made six of their seven 3-point attempts. Nate Robinson scored nine points off the bench in just seven minutes.
|03.03.10 at 8:22 pm ET|
“I don’t have that mindset,” Pierce said. “If some players feel that way, then I think it’s shame on them. That’s what the regular season is about, is building for the playoffs. We haven’t been a team that has proved we coast during the season and turn it on in the playoffs. There’s no excuses. This is the build-up for the playoffs. You have to start playing well now.”
Before Saturday’s home court loss to hapless New Jersey, Kendrick Perkins admitted that the Celtics sometimes look bored and veterans like Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen can’t wait for the playoffs.
Pierce said he believes the team can win its second world championship in three seasons if only it gets its act together on its home court.
Entering Wednesday’s game against Charlotte, the Celtics were a very average 16-11 in 27 home games, the second-most losses of the 16 teams currently in playoff position.
|03.03.10 at 8:10 pm ET|
The Celtics came into this game with an obvious objective: Begin repairing their image at home. Through 27 games at the Garden, the Celtics have a 16-11 record. The only NBA team in playoff contention with a worse mark is the Miami Heat.
Poor starts have been to blame for the Celtics struggles at home and the starters got it half right against the Bobcats, clicking offensively but allowing the Bobcats to get what they wanted on the other end. Fortunately, the second unit flipped the script and led the Celtics to a 31-21 lead.
Nate Robinson made a pair of 3-pointers, including a buzzer-beater at the end of the quarter.
|03.03.10 at 10:14 am ET|
It has been said that athletic frontcourts are the Celtics Achilles heel. The Hawks, as everyone knows, swept the Celtics this season, and last week the Cavaliers unleashed the hounds once Shaquille O’Neal left the game. Those teams have proven to be too quick on the dribble and on the boards for the Celtics aging frontcourt to handle.
Of the teams alive in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, only one really fits that description: the Bobcats. Unlike the Hawks and the Cavs, however, Charlotte’s athletic frontcourt is better suited for defense than for offense. The Bobcats are one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA. They don’t shoot well, they’re not particularly strong on the offensive glass and they turn it over as much as the Celtics.
They are also thin in the backcourt and injured up front with three centers on the shelf for tonight’s game. But they are dangerous, more so now with the addition of Tyrus Thomas the one-time Chicago Bull headache. The Cats are dangerous because they slow the game down to a crawl and play terrific half-court defense, a staple of Larry Brown-coached teams.
If the Celtics were to meet the Bobcats in the playoffs (and if Charlotte was healthy) it could be the proverbial bad matchup for the C’s. Tonight’s game should give something of an indication if that indeed would be the case.
BOBCATS (28-30, 4-6 last 10)
Points Per Game: 94.9
Points Allowed: 94.3
Differential: +.6 (15th)
Offensive Efficiency: 103.9 (24th)
Defensive Efficiency: 103.2 (5th)
Pace: 90.6 (27th)
CELTICS (37-21, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 98.6
Points Allowed: 94.3
Differential: +4.3 (7th)
Offensive Efficiency: 106.8 (14th)
Defensive Efficiency: 102.2 (2nd)
Pace: 91.7 (21st)
Injuries: Perkins (Flu, questionable) Read the rest of this entry »
|03.02.10 at 10:15 pm ET|
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.
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