|04.20.09 at 8:18 pm ET|
At the half … Bulls 61, Celtics 58
The Celtics kicked off the game looking strong. Then they started dropping in the second quarter.
Leon Powe left the game with a minor left knee sprain. (He was already wearing a brace for a sprained right knee.) Five minutes later, Rajon Rondo hit the ground hard after a fast break attempt. He suffered a minor right ankle sprain and was helped off the court by Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte. Both Powe and Rondo are expected to return.
In the meantime, Brad Miller has been causing problems for the Celtics. The big man with the mid-range jumper has posted 14 points (7/8 FT) and six rebounds in the first half. With Powe out of the game and Davis and Perkins sidelined with three fouls apiece, hehas been able to take advantage of his match up against Mikki Moore.
Keeping an eye on the hot/cold players from Game 1, Derrick Rose has been limited to just six points in 14 minutes. He was benched for most of the first quarter with foul trouble. After shooting 1-for-12 on Saturday, Ray Allen is shooting 1-for-4 from the field.
|04.20.09 at 8:03 pm ET|
After barreling down the court on a fast break, Rajon Rondo went up for the basket. It was moments before he was able to get up with the aid of team doctors. Rondo headed to the bench limping with 5:03 left in the first half. He suffered a minor right ankle sprain and is expected to return to the game.
|04.20.09 at 7:47 pm ET|
Leon Powe walked back toward the locker room with 10:13 left in the second quarter. Powe, who has been wearing a heavy-duty brace after spraining his right knee in March against the Bulls, has not been moving that well tonight. In seven minutes he posted two points, one rebound, and was called for one foul.
Update: Powe suffered a minor left knee sprain. He is expected to return.
|04.20.09 at 7:41 pm ET|
What’s best strategy against a team that presses? You press them back. Similarly, it was clear from the opening seconds that the Celtics wanted to run against a team that runs. Rajon Rondo was sensational in the first quarter with nine points, four rebounds, six assists and a combined five fouls against Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich. The Bulls blocked seven shots in the first quarter, but that’s a fine trade-off for taking the ball to the basket aggressively as the Celtics have done time and again.
The biggest beneficiary has been Big Baby Davis who scored 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting, with most of them coming on kickout jumpers off dribble penetration. The C’s also wanted to be tougher defensively and Kendrick Perkins set the tone with a hard foul on John Salmons three minutes into the game.
The only downside for the C’s is that Ray Allen is 0-for-2 and appears tentative early. After one, it’s 35-29 Celtics.
|04.20.09 at 7:19 pm ET|
Scratch slow starts off the check list for the Celtics. They came out ready to play tonight. Rajon Rondo has been pushing the tempo at every opportunity and taking it hard at the Bulls big men. Even though he is 1-for-3, the strategy has worked because Chicago is paying so much attention to Rondo that the C’s are getting weakside offensive boards.
Another benefit? Derrick Rose got two quick fouls and is out of the game. Something else to watch: Brad Miller was not happy with Kendrick Perkin’s hard foul on John Salmons. Miller, who is one of the toughest dudes in the league, came flying off the bench and had to be mildly restrained by a Bulls assistant.
|04.20.09 at 7:12 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett is back on the bench for Game 2 of the Celtics-Bulls series. Even though the Celtics have six points on the board two minutes into the game, Garnett and the rest of the Cs are still standing on the sideline. Garnett did not return to the bench for the second half of Game 1.
|04.20.09 at 10:46 am ET|
Having had 48 hours or so to digest that kick in the head/wakeup call that was Game 1, the Celtics should know what they have to do tonight against the Bulls. Before we get there, a quick word about the opening weekend of the playoffs.
The Celts loss to Chicago wasn’t even close to the most surprising result of the Game 1′s. That would be the crush job the Rockets laid on Portland in the Rose City followed by the huge comeback by the Sixers against Orlando. You could even throw up the Hawks beatdown of Miami ahead of the C’s loss in the stunner category. Strange days, indeed.
OK, back to the Celtics. The gameplan is really quite simple, executing it might not be so easy.
1. It’s the playoffs, a little urgency please?
The slow starts have become something of an unfortunate trademark for the Celtics lately. Doc Rivers was mad at his team for making Chicago “comfortable” early on Saturday. The Celts need to make a statement in the first 12 minutes.
2. Make Derrick Rose shoot jumpers.
If the rookie can make 20-footers consistently then it might be game over, but the Celtics can not let him get into the paint like they did in Game 1. Either way, the rotations were slow and Rajon Rondo gambled way too much.
3. Get Ray Allen untracked.
Jess wrote about this yesterday. The corollary to that is the Celtics have to return to the ball-movement that has been their offensive trademark. Dribble, dribble, stand around plays right into Chicago’s hands.
4. The Kevin Garnett sideshow needs to stop.
We have reports of surgery, delaying surgery and (gasp!) KG dribbling. The Celtics have always been good about managing the news and the best way for this to happen is to put Garnett up at the podium and have him answer questions. He won’t like it, but it’s the best thing for everyone involved. Conspiracy theories flourish in a vacuum and that’s exactly what we have right now.