|05.05.10 at 1:32 pm ET|
Anderson Varejao is far from a Celtics fan favorite. He isn’t a flashy scorer, nor is he a finesse player. But that’s not what his game is about.
‘The man does one thing, and he does it well, and that’s what he gets paid for,’ Kevin Garnett told WEEI’s Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell following the C’s Game 2 victory (listen to the audio here). ‘And you know what? He doesn’t score a lot, he feeds off LeBron [James], he picks up the garbage, he does the dirty work. He’s out here trying to get guys rattled, trying to get technicals, the dumb stuff. You know, the stuff that shouldn’t even be in basketball, but it is.’
Even though Varejao does the dirty work for the Cavs, he still makes an impact on the scoreboard. He entered the series averaging 13 points and nine boards against the Celtics during the regular season, including a 17-point, 10-rebound performance in March.
In response, the C’s have turned to their bigs to combat Varejao’s energy and keep him away from the glass. They have limited him to a total of 12 points and 13 rebounds in Games 1 and 2 combined. Half of those points have come at the line.
‘We watched a lot of tape, we focused, we understand we’ve got to block him out,’ Garnett said. ‘He’s pure energy, he is a momentum changer, and we understand that. Baby is our momentum changer. And I think not just Kevin Garnett, but Rasheed Wallace, Big Baby Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins, Shelden Williams, everybody’s been getting a body on him, we’ve been conscious of where he is. And we’ve been helping and trying to foul him and make him score at the free throw line. And it’s been working so far. Knock on wood.’
|05.05.10 at 11:21 am ET|
|05.05.10 at 9:07 am ET|
When he played, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge was known as a guy who would do anything to win. Apparently, he hasn’t lost that edge. During Monday night’s game in Cleveland, Ainge, sitting just to the side of the basket, threw a towel in the air in an attempt to distract J.J. Hickson, who was shooting a free throw. An NBA spokesman said “The situation is under review.”
Cavaliers coach Mike Brown didn’t seem too concerned after the game, saying: “That was interesting to see that happen during the flow of the game, from Danny Ainge. If it’s within the rules, hey, at this time, you do whatever you can to win. As long as it’s within the rules.”
|05.04.10 at 11:46 pm ET|
Turns out, Rivers wasn’t the only one who wanted to see Wallace step up. Kevin Garnett also believed Wallace was critical to the Celtics postseason success, and he made it a point to tell him that.
‘After the first game, I went to him in the shower and I said, ‘In order for us to beat this team, man, it’s going to take not just the starting five. It’s going to take Rasheed, it’s going to take Tony Allen, it’s going to take Marquis (Daniels), Big Baby (Glen Davis), Shelden Williams, everybody, Nate Robinson. It’s going to take everybody who’s on that bench,’ Garnett told WEEI’s Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell following the C’s Game 2 victory on Monday (listen to the audio here).
Garnett has known his teammate long enough to understand his receptiveness ‘ or lack thereof ‘ to feedback. But fortunately for Garnett, who was in the 1995 NBA draft class with Wallace, he is on that short list.
‘I went to him personally, you know, he don’t really listen to a lot of people,’ Garnett explained. “Sheed sort of goes by his own tune and he only respects a few, and I’m one of the very few that he listens to and that he respects. And I went to him and I said, ‘If you give us 10 and 10, we’re going to not only beat these Cavs, but we’re going to blow them out.’ I said, ‘I need 10 and 10 every night with you, at least in this series right here.’”
Wallace shot just 1-for-5 and recorded more fouls than points in Game 1. But Garnett knew what Wallace was capable of, in spite of a disappointing regular season in which he averaged nine points, four rebounds, shot 28 percent from 3-point range, and was assessed numerous technical fouls and fines. He wanted Wallace to put that behind him, focus on the postseason series at hand, and provide the Celtics with a solid contribution off the bench.
‘I said, ‘I don’t care what you’ve been going through. To hell with what the year is. So what? You can make it all up right here,’’ Garnett recounted. ‘And I got into him a little bit. I rubbed him the wrong way a little bit. And then later on we talked. He said, ‘You’re right.’’
Whatever the driving force may have been, Wallace stepped onto the court in Game 2 and gave one of his best performances in a Celtics uniform. He scored an efficient 17 points (7-for-8 on field goals and 3-for-4 on threes) in 18 minutes. Even though Wallace didn’t do anything fancy, it was just what the Celtics needed.
‘It was just good to see results,’ said Garnett. ‘He’s a gutty veteran, he knows how to play, and it was just big. He was big for us.’
|05.04.10 at 9:47 pm ET|
The team elected to watch film in Cleveland Tuesday, even though they had a scheduled off day. Cavs coach Mike Brown ripped his team’s effort after Game 2 in which the Celtics evened the series with a decisive 104-86 victory.
“We have to decide if we are going to take the fight to them and take these games,” Brown said. “Ain’t a [expletive] thing is going to be given to us at all in this series. Plain and simple, they kicked our behind. This series is one to one. We are going to see what we’re made of in Game 3.’
The bigger story, however, is that LeBron James is scheduled to have another MRI on right elbow before Friday’s Game 3. He had one last week before the Cavs closed out the Bulls in their first-round series that revealed a bone bruise and a sprained elbow. James admitted that he started Game 1 tentatively and he faced questions after Game 2 when he attempted 15 shots (he also had 15 free throws).
Also, Anderson Varejao was examined by the team’s physician after back spasms took him out of Game 2. He is listed as day to day.Varejao was one of the few Cavs big men who played well in Game 2 and he was doing his best to try to rile up the Celtics.
[Go here to listen to Kevin Garnett’s post-game interview with WEEI in which he talked about Varejao’s play, as well as calling our Rasheed Wallace after Game 1]
This is a potentially huge problem for the Cavs who are getting minimal production out of Shaquille O’Neal and are also looking at big matchup problem with Antawn Jamison guarding Garnett. The Celtics believe they can exploit this matchup throughout the series and they have made a concerted effort to isolate Garnett on the left block against Jamison.
Rivers wants Garnett to look for his own offense more, which runs counter to his nature.
“He’s got to stay on that,” Rivers said between games. “He fights his own self because people don’t get that. They criticize him for being unselfish which is the craziest thing on earth, but that is who he is.”
Garnett has been aggressive. He tied a season-high with 20 shot attempts in Game 1 and shook off a slow first-half in Game 2 in which he went 2-for-9, by making his first three shots in the third quarter when the Celtics dominated play.
“Kevin was playing way too fast in the first half but he was still a concern on the post,” Rivers said after Game 2. “They’re trapping. They’re worried about him right now.”
Varejao is the key to the Cavs multiple frontcourt lineups because he can play both the four and five spots and is a much better defender than J.J. Hickson. Without him in the lineup, the Cavs have to either play small with James and either Jamison or Hickson up front, or go big with either O’Neal or Zydrunas Ilgauskus, which makes them much slower.
For their part, the Celtics took the day off and are scheduled to resume practice Wednesday.
|05.04.10 at 7:54 pm ET|
Celtics antagonist Anderson Varejao left Monday’s Game 2 with back spasms and didn’t return to the game. He was examined at the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health on Tuesday by Cavs Physician Dr. Richard Parker, who confirmed the diagnosis after an MRI and X-Ray were negative.
The team said he is receiving treatment and is currently listed as day-to-day.
|05.03.10 at 11:02 pm ET|
The Celtics bounced back from their Game 1 loss with a 104-86 victory over the Cavs in Game 2 in Cleveland. They will head back to Boston on Friday for Game 3 with the series split, 1-1.
LeBron James gave credit to his teammates when he was awarded the MVP trophy before the game, but it was the Celtics that won with a total team effort. All of the starters scored in double-digits, Rajon Rondo dished 19 assists, and Rasheed Wallace provided a critical spark off the bench with 17 points in just 18 minutes.
On the defensive end, the Celtics held James to 24 points (13 through three quarters). The C’s also outrebounded the Cavs, 43-29.
First Quarter: Celtics 26 – Cavaliers 22
First quarter key stats
Field goal percentage: Celtics 66.7% – Cavaliers 37.5%
Turnovers: Celtics 7 – Cavaliers 3
Doc River said Rasheed Wallace had to play better. It took just a few seconds to show he had listened. Wallace replaced Kendrick Perkins in the first quarter and hit his first basket (a jumper) less than a minute later. He posted 5 points and 1 rebound in two minutes. The Celtics were successful in containing LeBron James (3 points, 1-4 FG), but the team committed seven turnovers in the quarter, giving up some of their defensive edge. Paul Pierce picked up two fouls in 10 seconds – one trying to stop James at the basket, the other an offensive call against Anthony Parker. Rajon Rondo quieted the Cavs crowd with a 3-pointer as time ran down to push the C’s lead up to four.
Second Quarter: Celtics 52 – Cavaliers 48
First half leading scorers
Celtics: Rasheed Wallace – 13 points (5-5 FG, 3-3 3PG)
Cavs: Antawn Jamison – 11 points (4-6 FG, 1-2 3PG, 2-4 FT)
First half key stats
Turnovers: Celtics 10 – Cavaliers 7
Fouls: Celtics 16 – Cavaliers 4
Wallace carried his momentum into the second quarter, scoring five minutes in the first four minutes. Even though the C’s opened the quarter on a 9-0 run to push their lead up to 35-22, the Cavs responded with a 10-3 stretch of their own to gain momentum. In spite of only eight points from James, the combination of Celtics turnovers and fouls allowed the Cavs to make their way back into the game. The Celtics committed 16 first half fouls, as well as 10 turnovers. Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Tony Allen had three fouls at halftime.
Third Quarter: Celtics 83 – Cavaliers 60
Leading scorers through three quarters
Celtics: Ray Allen – 20 points (7-11 FG, 3-5 3PG, 3-4 FT)
Cavs: Antawn Jamison – 13 points (5-8 FG), 1-2 3PG, 2-4 FT)
Key stats through three quarters
Turnovers: Celtics 14 – Cavaliers 12
Fouls: Celtics 20 – Cavaliers 10
After the Celtics got outscored, 36-24, in the third quarter of Game 1, they responded in Game 2 with a third quarter push of their own. The C’s outscored the Cavs 31-12, to take a 23-point lead. Records were reached and tempers flared during the stretch. Rondo tied Bob Cousy‘s franchise mark with 19 assists in a postseason game. Kendrick Perkins and Anderson Varejao were issued double technicals when things got heated following the whistle. Minutes later, Varejao was called for a technical as Ray Allen drove to the basket. The Celtics committed just four fouls in the quarter, compared to 16 in the first half.
Final Score: Celtics 104 – Cavs 86
Celtics: Ray Allen – 22 points (8-15 FG, 3-7 3PG, 3-4 FT)
Cavs: LeBron James – 24 points (7-15 FG, 0-4 3PG, 10-15 FT)
Assists: Celtics 30 – Cavs 17 (Rondo, 19)
Fouls: Celtics 31 – Cavs 16
The Cavs diminished a 25-point lead with a 15-0 run late in the fourth quarter and got within nine points. The C’s went scoreless for over five minutes before Pierce snapped the skid. Doc Rivers called a timeout to group his team, which responded with an 11-5 run to end the game. Even though the Celtics were outscored, 26-21, in the final 12 minutes, they held on for an 18-point win. Ray Allen led the Celtics with 22 points, and it was Wallace who provided a huge spark with 17 points off the bench.
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