|12.01.09 at 1:15 pm ET|
The Charlotte Bobcats have come a long way from their season-opening stomping at the hands of the Celtics, a humiliating 92-59 defeat. After falling to 3-9 following a seven-game losing streak, Charlotte (7-9) rolls into Tuesday night’s rematch as winners of four straight, including a 94-87 victory over LeBron James and the Cavaliers and a 92-76 beat-down of the Washington Wizards.
The Celtics (13-4), meanwhile, are in the midst of ‘righting the ship’ after some mid-month struggles, riding their own four-game win streak – including a hard-fought, come-from-behind win over Dwyane Wade and the Heat on Sunday.
The two collide tonight at 7:00 pm in Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, the Bobcats looking to settle the score after their miserable showing to open the season, and Boston looking to continue its return to dominance in the NBA.
Here’s how things are shaping up heading into tonight’s game:
Heating Up ‘ Both teams head into Tuesday night winners of four straight, each with highlights in their streaks. Charlotte is fresh off a bombing of the Wizards in Washington, and before that a fairly convincing seven-point win over LeBron and his Cavs. Before that? A 116-81 punishing of the Raptors, a team that took Boston to the final quarter in the Garden.
The Celtics aren’t exactly flying low either, however, coming off a solid win over a Miami squad that had every reason to beat them last Sunday. The most important thing to take from the Celtics’ past four games, however, hasn’t been just the W’s so much as it’s been the play of Kevin Garnett. Amidst all the worries and concerns about his knee injury and recovery, Garnett answered critics with an 11-for-12 shooting night Sunday versus the Heat, posting 24 points and 8 rebounds ‘ and, more importantly, putting Boston on his shoulders to seal up a win.
Head to Head
Tough Customers ‘Glancing at their overall records the past few seasons, you’d assume Boston usually has its way with Charlotte. In fact, it hasn’t exactly been that easy. Aside from their season-opening blowout of the Bobcats to open Charlotte’s 2009 season, Boston has disposed of the Cats in regulation only once in their past three meetings ‘ a five point nail-biter. The other two times Charlotte took Boston to overtime, and one of them was a Celtic loss. Tuesday’s game marks the second of three games the two will play against each other this season, with Boston holding a 1-0 edge in 2009.
The Bobcats added some punch to their offense when they traded for the Warriors’ Stephen Jackson a few weeks ago. He has totaled 17.4 points per game since he joined Charlotte. That being said, it still remains Gerald Wallace’s team. Wallace leads the Bobcats (aside from Jackson’s seven-game stat sample) in both points per game (15.9) and rebounds per game (11.8). During their four-game win streak, Wallace has led the Cats in boards in every single match, and topped the team in points in three of the four, including back-to-back 31 point nights against the Raptors and Cavaliers.
That being said, in Charlotte’s season opener against the Celtics, Boston was able to corral Wallace, holding him to a season-low 10 points.
.259 – Ray Allen’s three-point shooting percentage over the past six games. The veteran sniper has been struggling with his stroke to say the least. In fact, Allen has only hit multiple three-balls once in his past six games ‘ and twice in his past 10. It hasn’t exactly killed the Celtics, because amidst it all they’ve won four straight. But if No. 20 does not heat up, it could start hurting the Celtics down the road.
6 ‘ The amount of games in a row that Gerald Wallace has hit double figures in rebounds. He is a beast on the boards, and it’s going to be a key for Boston to keep him off them. If they don’t, he can dictate a game (20 boards, 24 points Nov. 2 vs. New Jersey).
Same Old ‘ Nothing new for the Celtics, who are still without Big Baby and Tony Allen. Ray Allen had missed last Sunday’s practice because of his son’s illness, and his status for the Miami game was in doubt, but it appears it won’t be an issue for Tuesday’s match-up. Similar story for Charlotte, which is operating with a full complement of players after the recent return of Tyson Chandler following his back spasms earlier in the season.
Pedal to the Metal – ‘This is a time where you have to concentrate more. We understand what being a successful road team is about in the past. It will give us more focus time. I think we understand being on the road, we have to focus a lot more. You can’t play the way we’ve been playing at home on the road because you won’t get those wins.’
Celtics Captain Paul Pierce knows these games are important. The Bobcats aren’t a division rival. They aren’t really even a conference rival, and at 7-9, aren’t considered a playoff threat. But it doesn’t matter. The Celtics know they need to get all the wins they can find, and Tuesday night is no different.
|11.29.09 at 9:29 pm ET|
Rasheed Wallace will appeal his $30,000 fine for criticizing officials, he told reporters following Sunday’s game against the Heat.
‘Oh I’m definitely going to appeal that. What did I say wrong?” he said before cutting himself off.
The NBA issued the fine after Wallace expressed his disagreement with several calls following Friday’s game against the Raptors, including the whistle against him for fouling Hedo Turkoglu. Wallace believed Turkoglu flopped and did not mix words.
‘They gotta know that he’s a damn flopper,’ he said on Friday. ‘That’s all Turkododo do. Flopping shouldn’t get you nowhere. He acts like I shot him.’
He went on to defend Paul Pierce’s dunk over Chris Bosh, after which Pierce was issued a technical for taunting.
‘This game is watered down, watered down with all that flopping [crap],’ Wallace said. ‘They’re setting rules on us to the point where you’re taunting if you dunk on somebody. Paul dunked it and then he didn’t say nothing but it’s a tech … Let the Golden Child do that or one of the NBA Without Border kids do that, it’s all fine and dandy.’
|11.29.09 at 9:04 pm ET|
The Celtics began their four-game road trip with a victory in Miami as they beat the Heat, 92-85. After blowing an 11-point lead, the Celtics fought back with an attack led by Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. The Cs regained control of the frenetic tempo and made the extra pass (or two) to spread the Heat’s defense, making it easy to find an open Garnett in many instances. For the second game in a row, Garnett was nearly perfect from field and led the Celtics with 24 points.
Player of the game: The Celtics could not have won this game without the combined efforts of Garnett and Rondo. Garnett was locked in on offense. He shot 11-for-12 from the field after shooting a perfect 6-for-6 against the Raptors on Friday. Garnett looked to have more arc on his release and lift in his jumper following his knee injury last season. Rondo was the mastermind behind the Celtics second quarter comeback and orchestrated their offense down the stretch. He finished the night with 11 assists for the second game in a row.
Turning point: Michael Beasley put the Heat on his back and made an early run in the fourth quarter to put his team on top. With the Celtics down by four points, Paul Pierce drew a foul on James Jones and made both free throws. Jones traveled on the next possession and Garnett responded with a game-tying lay-in on the opposite end. The Celtics never trailed after that. They went ahead on a Kendrick Perkins dunk from Rondo and pushed the lead up with key shots from Garnett and Ray Allen.
– Perkins won the battle of the bigs against Jermaine O’Neal. Both players scored 14 points but it was Perkins who outrebounded O’Neal, 13-10. He drew early fouls on O’Neal, limiting the Heat’s size down low, and made 11 trips to the free throw line. Perkins also added three blocks.
– Rasheed Wallace was whistled for his seventh technical foul of the season during the first quarter. He was recently fined $30,000 for criticizing officials following Friday’s game against the Raptors.
– The Celtics outscored the Heat 48-38 in the paint and 10-2 on fastbreak points.
– The Heat’s backcourt had no answer for Rondo. Starting point guard Mario Chalmers dished just one assist, compared to Rondo’s 11.
– Celtics and Heat combined for 29 points in the third quarter. The Celtics alone scored 29 points in the first quarter.
|11.29.09 at 6:53 pm ET|
Rasheed Wallace was fined $30,000 for criticizing officials following Friday’s game against the Raptors. Wallace expressed his disagreement with several calls, including a personal foul attributed to him in which he felt Hedo Turkoglu flopped.
“This game is watered down, watered down with all that flopping [crap],’ he said after the game. ‘They’re setting rules on us to the point where you’re taunting if you dunk on somebody. Paul dunked it and then he didn’t say nothing but it’s a tech …Let the Golden Child do that or one of the NBA Without Border kids do that, it’s all fine and dandy.’
Click here for more on what Wallace had to say.
|11.28.09 at 3:36 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Doc Rivers laughed when asked to characterize the upcoming road trip through Miami, Charlotte, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
“It’s an important trip because it’s four good teams, unfortunately all four teams are playing well,” Rivers said. “But that’s what you have to expect when you go out on the road.
Indeed, the four teams have a collective record of 32-28, with only Charlotte (6-9) under .500.
“This is a time where where you have to concentrate more,” Pierce said. “We understand what being a successful road team is about in the past. It will give us more focus time. I think we understand being on the road, we have to focus a lot more. You can’t play the way we’ve been playing at home on the road because you won’t get those wins.”
|11.28.09 at 3:11 pm ET|
WALTHAM — After spending time with his ill son on Friday night at a local hospital, Ray Allen re-joined the Celtics for their plane trip to Miami and should be available for Sunday night’s game in Miami in the opener of the team’s four-game road trip, according to the team.
Allen was not at Celtics practice on Saturday. Walker Allen, 2, was diagnosed with diabetes during the 2008 NBA Finals and Allen spent the night with him on Friday night after getting word after the game that he was not feeling well.
“There really is no update,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said after Saturday’s practice. “It’s more his son. He’s [caring for] Walker, obviously. That’s why he’s not around.”
|11.28.09 at 2:19 pm ET|
WALTHAM — It doesn’t take long for Rasheed Wallace to make an impression. Ask Paul Pierce, who just one month into the regular season has already heard so many stories and jokes that he could pen a literary masterpiece.
“He’s an extension of Kevin [Garnett],” Pierce said with a laugh after Saturday’s practice. “Between the two you hear a lot of stories. It’s fun. I could write a 400-page book right now.”
Garnett and Wallace are seated next to each other in the Celtics locker room. So it is only fitting that the title of Pierce’s hypothetical book would include both of them.
“I’d keep it simple: Kevin and Sheed,” Pierce said, adding, “[The cover would] probably have them two face to face, smiling.”
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