|03.19.10 at 9:26 am ET|
With three games in four days, all on the road, against teams from the Western Conference, the Celtics once again have a stretch of games that have been deemed “important.” Most people have concluded by now that the regular season means nothing to the Celtics and therefore will tell us nothing about how good they actually are.
Maybe so, but the players seem to believe that this trip would be an interesting barometer. They have won seven of their last 10, with most of that coming against teams with losing records. Their next eight games are all against teams from the Western Conference and seven of them have winning records.
With a month to go in the regular season, this is the beginning of the stretch run and if the Celtics were ever going to “turn it on” after tuning out for most of the last two months, now would be a good time.
CELTICS (43-24, 7-3 last 10)
Points Per Game: 98.9
Points Allowed: 94.3
Differential: +4.6 (8th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.2 (15th)
Defensive Efficiency: 102.3 (1st)
Pace: 91.6 (22nd)
ROCKETS (35-31, 7-3 last 10)
Points Per Game: 101.9
Points Allowed: 101.5
Differential: .4 (16th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.3 (14th)
Defensive Efficiency: 107.0 (15th)
Pace: 93.7 (8th)
|03.18.10 at 1:12 pm ET|
The playoffs are fast approaching, and with two straight wins under their belt, the Celtics are looking to get rolling.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan to talk about the team’s preparation for a playoff run. He discussed getting Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett back to full strength, as well as the importance of the bench play.
But Rivers was careful to note that a big thing about getting Pierce and Garnett healthy is that it allows Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins to play their own games, saying, ‘When everybody was hurt, we needed Rondo to have the ball in his hands and keep it in his hands, to score. Now when everybody’s back, we need him to push the ball, and then leave the ball, and get everybody involved. And that’s what he’s doing.’
Rivers also touched on the importance of getting players such as Michael Finely and Nate Robinson ready for the playoffs as well, and putting Marquis Daniels in a better position to do more damage with the basketball.
‘He’s a nightmare to guard on the post. And obviously with the second unit, we have to do a better job getting him the ball down there.’
Read below for the transcript. To listen to the interview, click here.
Quality of opponents aside, your last two wins, against the Pistons and Knicks, with the Big Three totaling about 48 minutes in each game, is that what you’re looking for?
Yes, and our defense more than all that. I think whenever we score people get lost in the points, and obviously the ball movement is important, the fact that we’re running because we’re getting stops and we’re getting multiple stops, that’s far more important than anything else.
When you said, ‘This team is very, very close,’ what did you mean by that? I thought you might even be a little sarcastic with the remark.
No, I was not. You look at the Cleveland game, we didn’t play great and it was 68-all with four minutes left in the third quarter, on the road. There was a lot of positive signs, we had the ball back to back in those possessions, turned it over, and missed four free throws in a row. What we didn’t do was when Cleveland made their next run, was fight after. You can just see things ‘ Paul improving, Kevin improving, everybody’s starting to get their rhythm back. And I’ve said it earlier, I don’t think people realize ‘ and it wasn’t about the injuries, it was about the amount of injuries and trying to bring guys back at the same time ‘ you lose your rhythm. Not only as a team but as an individual, and we haven’t gotten it back. But we’re starting to get it back, and if we can get it back in time, like I said in the interview, I love our chances. Read the rest of this entry »
|03.18.10 at 9:29 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning (click here for the audio) and continued to be an optimist about his team. “We’re starting to get it back,” he said. “If we can get it back in time … I love our chances.”
Rivers was asked about his recent comments that the Celtics are close to getting back to form after their midseason struggles, and he was asked if he meant that the C’s could contend for a championship. “Yeah, I really see that,” Rivers said. “Listen, this is the same team that was 25-5. And I don’t lose sight of that. I’ll let everybody else loses sight of that, but I haven’t. I know we can reach back to that level. … Everyone forgets conveniently, the stretch that we struggled in, we were not right. We were not the same team. Now we’re healthy. We’ve added pieces. Nate [Robinson] is going to help us. Mike Finley is going to help us. Like I told out team, we’re not going to defend ourselves. we’re just going to go out and play. We have to prove that. As a group, I can tell you, our team belives that.”
An online columnist recently suggested that a key problem with the C’s is that Rajon Rondo and Kevin Perkins need to step up and be leaders because the Big Three have been distracted by health problems. “That’s ludicrous,” Rivers said. “It’s ridiculous, it really is. Kevin Garnett] and Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] are the leaders, but so is Rondo and Perk. I think the starting five leads our team and they always have this year. So I don’t know how all of a sudden you assume a different leadership role. That sounds so great in print, or saying it, but it’s not realistic. I think that our team’s leadership has been intact all year. I think all five of those guys lead when they need to. The bottom line is our starting five … all five of them have to set the table for his entire team.”
Rivers also made a prediction that Robinson will be a key contributor in the postseason. “Nate is a guy who has the chance to be a one-game sensation,” Rivers said “He’s going to win a playoff game for us.”
Asked if he was paying attention to the standings as the playoffs get closer, Rivers said no. “Our goal is to be ready, honest to goodness,” he said. “I’m so focused on our team.”
|03.17.10 at 11:16 pm ET|
Rondo knows if Pierce and Garnett play like they did on Wednesday, whether it’s the lowly Knicks or the mighty Cavs, the Celtics become a whole different beast.
Even with two early fouls, Pierce finished with 29 points and Garnett added 22. Most impressive were the open looks Rondo was getting the pair – one major reason Pierce made 11 of his 17 shots and Garnett 9-of-his-11.
‘I do [take pride in setting up],” Rondo said. “You know you can’t leave out Ray [Allen]. He’s a jump shooter, so you got to get them looks early. Paul and Kevin create their shots anytime on the court. Get them looks and transitions I think is key. Get them easy looks an going to the free throw lines, and aggressive. I think that both of those guys, talking to Paul and Kevin early on in the game.’
After the game, Rivers said it was Rondo who stepped up his scoring when he could, getting to the basket and taking more open shots.
That’s all changed now and Rondo said he is more than happy to revert to just running the show and getting the team’s scorers involved.
‘When I feel like I need to score,” Rondo explained, “I try and do it but otherwise, you know we are rolling. Take shots that’s fine with me, as long as we win. Getting assists better for me than scoring.
‘First and for most. Everybody is back by now, and guys are playing well. Paul played well tonight. You we are winning so be it, regardless of the outcome of how many shots I take, as long as we win.’
|03.17.10 at 10:24 pm ET|
|03.17.10 at 10:21 pm ET|
|03.17.10 at 8:55 pm ET|
The Celtics improved to 22-13 on St. Patrick’s Day with a 109-97 win over the Knicks on Wednesday in Boston.
Powered by 29 points from Paul Pierce, the Celtics led by as many as 27 in the third quarter. Kevin Garnett was right behind Pierce with 22 points and Marquis Daniels added 10 off the bench. Kendrick Perkins pulled down 12 rebounds while Rajon Rondo dished as many assists.
Davis Lee led the Knicks with 29 points. Former Celtics Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens 8 and 4, respectively.
Player of the Game: Paul Pierce scored 16 of his 29 points in the third quarter alone. It was Pierce’s highest game total since scoring 35 against the Hawks on January 29. He finished the night shooting 11-for-17 FG, 3-for-6 3PG, and 4-for-5 FT.
Turning Point: The Celtics accumulated a double-digit lead six minutes into the game. They led 35-19 after the first quarter, and that was with Pierce going scoreless in just 1:51 (he was sidelined with two fouls).
– The Celtics first five field goals came in the paint. They outscored the Knicks 56-44 in the paint overall.
– The last time Kendrick Perkins grabbed more than 10 rebounds was February 18 against the Lakers (14). It is only the second time since the All-Star Break that he has reached double-digits in boards.
– J.R. Giddens played his first game since undergoing knee surgery six weeks ago. It was his first game in a Knicks uniform and the first time he played at TD Garden since January 18 (as a member of the Celtics).
– Nate Robinson scored 8 points in 21 minutes against his former team.
– The Celtics improved to 12-2 in the Atlantic Division. They are now 7-1 at home on Wednesdays.
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