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Preview: Celtics-Knicks

02.23.10 at 10:20 am ET
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When last we saw the Celtics in Boston, they were blowing a huge third-quarter lead against the Orlando Magic and causing nearly everyone to abandon ship. That was on Super Bowl Sunday. Since then, we’ve seen Peyton Manning choke, the United States win 25 medals in the Olympics and Tiger Woods kind of apologize.

Since then we’ve also seen the Celtics manage to win the first three games of a treacherous West Coast road trip (including sweeping the Lakers and Blazers in a back-to-back, which ranks near the top of the NBA in degree of difficulty) before getting blitzed in a first-quarter barrage in a loss against the Nuggets.

In other words, a lot can change in two weeks.

In the games since the All-Star break, Ray Allen has rediscovered his shooting touch, Kevin Garnett has looked more athletic than he has since December and Rasheed Wallace looks like he cares. That last part is a cheap shot, but it accurately encapsulates how a lot of people feel about this Celtics run.

The question is: Are the Celtics capable of turning it on and off whenever they want, and is this what happened over the first half of the season when uneven performances and second-half collapses became the norm? The showed out west just how good they can be even with Paul Pierce dealing with his various injuries. Now they just have to do it consistently before everyone can believe it again.

KNICKS (19-36, 1-9 last 10)

Points Per Game: 100.9

Points Allowed: 104.1

Differential: -3.2 (21st)

Offensive Efficiency: 106.6 (15th)

Defensive Efficiency: 109.7 (24th)

Pace: 94.0 (7th)

Likely Starters: Sergio Rodriguez, Tracy McGrady, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, David Lee

Injuries: McGrady (knee, questionable)

CELTICS (35-19, 6-4 last 10)

Points Per Game: 98.5

Points Allowed: 93.6

Differential: +4.9 (4th)

Offensive Efficiency: 106.8 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.5 (1st)

Pace: 91.7 (21st)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Pierce (thumb, questionable) Read the rest of this entry »

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Rivers may rest Pierce

02.22.10 at 10:38 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers may rest Paul Pierce, who suffered a sprained right thumb last week against the Lakers, the Boston Herald reported.

‘€œI think it is [bothering him],’€ Rivers said after the Celtics’ loss to the Nuggets on Sunday. ‘€œYou can see it on free throws. I think the thumb, the knee, and the foot may have caught up to him right now, so we may have to look at giving him some rest. I don’€™t know yet, but on the surface that’€™s the way it looks like it’€™s going.’€

Pierce was injured during the first half of Thursday’€™s win in Los Angeles when he was hit by Derek Fisher. Though he played through the sprain, his offensive production has been hampered.

He shot 3-for-9 on Friday against the Trail Blazers, but his struggles were most evident two days later against the Nuggets. Pierce went 2-for-10 from the field and, more noticeably, 1-for-4 from the line. He finished with a season-low five points.

Even though Pierce still managed to block four shots and pick off two steals, he admitted the injury impacted his shot and dribbling. According to the Herald, he said ‘€œmaybe’€ when asked if he would miss games to heal his thumb.

‘€œIt’€™s sore right now,’€ Pierce said. ‘€œIt’€™s affecting my shot a lot. I’€™m not really even looking to be aggressive with it. I’€™m trying to do other things to help this ball club, but hopefully in the next few days it’€™ll get better. There’€™s some pain when I catch the ball, and it’€™s really affecting my shot. That’€™s the reason I’€™m not as aggressive.’€

He added, ‘€œI try to play off my instincts, and my instincts are shoot the ball. But it’€™s not the same shot. It’€™s definitely not. Even my free throws feel weird.’€

If Pierce were to sit out, Tuesday’€™s game against the Knicks would be his best opportunity. The Celtics will need all able bodies Thursday against the Cavaliers.

Bird and Magic documentary to debut at TD Garden

02.21.10 at 10:59 pm ET
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The Celtics, HBO and Comcast have partnered to premier the HBO Sports documentary, ‘€œMagic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals,’€ in an invitation-only event on Monday at the TD Garden.

Paul Pierce and Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck will join Ross Greenburg, president of HBO Sports, for the screening on the parquet floor.

‘€œMagic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals’€ explores 30 years of competition between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, dating back to their collegiate careers in the 1970s. The film also features Bird and Johnson’€™s personal lives and their unlikely friendship.

The film will debut on HBO on Saturday, March 6.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Paul Pierce,

Fast Break: Celtics vs. Nuggets

02.21.10 at 6:23 pm ET
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The Celtics came into Denver on a three-game winning streak. They go back to Boston on a one-game skid.

The C’€™s lost to the Nuggets, 114-105, on Sunday to cap off their post-All Star Game road trip with a 3-1 mark.

The final score is deceiving, though ‘€” this game was closer than it appears. The Celtics overcame a 20-point deficit to tie the game up in the third, and looked poised to make a comeback while the Nuggets looked complacent on defense. But Denver reverted to the energy level that put them up early and pulled ahead for a double-digit victory.

Player of the Game: Chauncey Billups provided veteran leadership early on and was the driving force behind the Nuggets early advantage. He finished with a game-high 26 points, including a perfect 10-for-10 from the line. The most impressive note? He scored 26 in 32 minutes. Carmelo Antony scored 23 in 43 minutes.

Turning Point: After tying the game at 66 with 4:56 left in the third, the Celtics fell flat. The Nuggets went on a 16-7 run to close out the quarter and take an 82-73 lead. Anthony scored six points during that stretch. The Celtics were never able to overcome the deficit in the fourth.

‘€¢Paul Pierce (sprained thumb) struggled offensively. He shot 1-for-6 in the first half and finished the game with just five points (2-10 FG, 0-2 3PG, 1-4 FT).

‘€¢Kevin Garnett looked like, well, Kevin Garnett. From blocked shots to turnaround jumpers to no-look passes, Garnett played with the level of energy the Celtics have needed this season. He scored 15 points (7-13 FG).

‘€¢Ray Allen continued to improve on this road trip. He scored a team-high 25 points, including 17 in the first half alone.

‘€¢J.R. Smith scored 19 points off the bench for the Nuggets and closed the door on the Celtics late in the game. He hit five 3-pointers, three more than the entire Celtics squad.

Third quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Nuggets

02.21.10 at 5:37 pm ET
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The Celtics entered the third quarter trailing 54-47 and came out of halftime on a tear. They tied the game at 66 apiece off of a Marquis Daniels layin from Rajon Rondo. But the Nuggets buckled down, outscoring the Celtics 16-7 after that point. They lead 82-73 after three quarters.

Kevin Garnett was a bright spot for the Celtics in the third. From turnaround jumpers to blocked shots to no-look assists, Garnett is playing with energy the C’s  have been looking for. He has scored 12 points off of 6-for-11 field goal shooting.

Second quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Nuggets

02.21.10 at 4:47 pm ET
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After giving up a season-high 37 points in the first quarter, the Celtics came out aggressive in the second. The second unit stepped up and the C’s outscored the Nuggets 16-7 in the first 4:25 alone to cut the deficit to single digits.

A moment of contention came late in the quarter when a Celtics 4-2 fast break situation was interrupted by a technical foul whistled against George Karl. The Nuggets coach was arguing the lack of goaltending call against Kevin Garnett when he got T’€™ed up mid-play. Karl argued the T, Rivers argued the delay.

But the interruption didn’t stop the Celtics run. They closed out the first half down just seven, 54-47. Ray Allen leads all players with 17 points.

First quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Nuggets

02.21.10 at 4:08 pm ET
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The Celtics came into Denver looking to go a perfect 4-0 on their West Coast road trip. They got off to a rocky start. The Nuggets jumped out to a 17-8 lead in the first six minutes, a stretch in which Chauncey Billups scored seven points off of perfect shooting (3-3 FG, 1-1 FT).

A mid-quarter timeout did little to help the Celtics gain momentum. The Nuggets doubled the C’€™s scoring total, 28-14, before Doc Rivers turned to the bench. Tony Allen, Rasheed Wallace, and Glen Davis were not the answers either. The Celtics gave up a season-high 37 points in the first quarter and trail 37-19.

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