|11.06.09 at 10:04 pm ET|
The popular notion coming into Friday night’s game with Phoenix was that the super-fast Suns would run into a brick Celtics wall, but anyone expecting the Celtics to roll over the Suns was in for a surprise. In a hard-fought entertaining game, the Suns prevailed, 110-103, handing the Celtics their first loss of the season.
The Suns were blown out on Wednesday against Orlando (their first loss of the season) and came into this one with a bit of a chip on their shoulder and a feisty attitude. Channing Frye and Kendrick Perkins picked up double technicals at the end of the first half and there were more than a few wayward elbows getting tossed around.
The Celtics had a couple of chances to steal the game late, but Rajon Rondo had his layup blocked by Amare Stoudemire and a 3-pointer by Rasheed Wallace rattled in and out. Wallace was 0-for-6 on 3-point attempts and many of those shots met a similar fate.
Player of the game: Steve Nash. The veteran All-Star may have lost a step here or there, but he is still one of the league’s top orchestrators and he drained a huge 3-pointer in the final minute that put the final nail in the Celtics coffin.
Turning point: After the Celtics had closed to within two points at the end of the third quarter, Doc Rivers stuck with his regular rotation which included the four reserves and Paul Pierce. Phoenix’s Jason Richardson proceeded to go off scoring eight quick points. Phoenix steadily built the lead to 11 points and still Rivers resisted the urge to sub his starters back in until the eight-minute mark.
In a long season that is certainly the right decision by Rivers, but it may have cost them against Phoenix.
* Rivers said before the game that the Celtics wanted to run, and run they did in a breakneck paced first quarter. The C’s got up 23 first quarter shots and made 12 of them. The only problem was that the Suns shot 61 percent on the other end. Things slowed down in the second quarter when Phoenix went to its bench, but this was easily the fastest-paced game the Celtics have played this season.
* Ray Allen picked up his fourth foul less than three minutes into the third quarter. The Suns increased their lead from four to nine with Allen off the floor, but the Celtics closed to within two, 85-83 by the end of the quarter.
* Allen had a vicious baseline dunk in the fourth quarter. It’s worth noting that both he and Pierce have been attacking the basket better than they were at the end of last season.
* Former Boston College star Jared Dudley played 30 very effective minutes for the Suns. He scored 10 points, but his primary responsibility was hounding Pierce, who shot just 5-for-15 from the floor.
* There was a funny moment midway through the third quarter. After Richardson tumbled into a photographer on a drive to the basket, Stoudemire helped him up and then went over to Bill Russell who was sitting in the front row to shake his hand. Funnier moment came after the quarter when David Ortiz came out of the crowd to help the new Lucky during his dunk routine.
|11.06.09 at 8:26 pm ET|
Doc Rivers can appreciate point guard greatness when he sees it.
He can also draw analogies unlike any other NBA coach. Rivers, a huge NFL fan, sees Steve Nash and he sees not just a point guard but a supremely gifted signal-caller on the floor.
Nash, a spry 35, is off to another other-worldly start for the Suns. He entered Friday’s game on the parquet averaging 19.6 points, 10.8 assists and three rebounds per contest.
“That’s who he is,” Rivers said. “He’s a great quarterback. He’s [Tom] Brady and [Peyton] Manning and all those guys combined at times, it looks like. He can shoot, he can pass. He does a lot for their team. And they have some great players around him.”
|11.06.09 at 8:05 pm ET|
He, like many others around the NBA, thought the Phoenix Suns hit a home run two seasons ago when they traded for Shaquille O’Neal, putting him alongside Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Nash. Rivers just assumed the Suns would take off, challenge the Lakers and Nuggets for Western Conference supremacy.
Not so much. After a half-season in 2007-08, when they were eliminated in the first round, the Suns fell to 46-36 last season, not even good enough to qualify for the Western playoffs.
“I was obviously wrong,” Rivers said. “I didn’t that was a bad match with Shaq and Stoudamire.”
But the Suns could never optimize O’Neal’s presence with Nash and Stoudamire and the Suns let O’Neal go to Cleveland this past off season. The more nimble, athletic 6-11 Channing Frye has taken O’Neal’s spot and is averaging 14.6 points in Phoenix’s 4-1 start to this season.
“I thought you had one post guy and Stoudamire is more off the post than on the post so I thought it was a good combination but it just didn’t work out for whatever reason,” Rivers added. “It’s good to see Channing Frye play well. I’ve always been pretty high on him as a player. I think he’s another great example, a litle like Shelden [Williams], guys who take a little time to find their way and I guess he’s found his way.”
|11.06.09 at 7:42 pm ET|
The Phoenix Suns have always epitomized the Wild West part of the Western Conference.
Can the Suns still run? Sure. They’re averaging 111.2 points a game. But Rivers said that doesn’t mean Phoenix is limited to just that aspect of the game.
“We want to run,” Rivers said of his team, which is averaging 99.8 points a contest. “We would love to run and them not. They are going to but they are not just a running team. I think people don’t give them their due offensively. They’re more than a running team to me. They really execute in the half-court extremely well. They have the ability to not get fast-break points and still score 120.”
|11.06.09 at 6:52 pm ET|
The Celtics will be without forward Brian Scalabrine for their game against the Suns at TD Garden. Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced that Scalabrine came down with bad back spasms on Friday. “He was having awful spasms,” Rivers said an hour before the game.
|11.06.09 at 1:05 am ET|
Are the Green concerned about their greenbacks?
That financial question was raised in a recent article on Yahoo! Sports, which suggested co-owner Wyc Grousbeck’s consideration of suspending injured Glen Davis had less to do with discipline and more to do with money.
Just months after signing a two-year deal worth over $6 million, Davis broke his thumb fighting a childhood friend and will be sidelined for at least six weeks. Reports then surfaced that the team was looking to take back some of the salary. Days after the Davis episode subsided, the Celtics committed $55 million to Rajon Rondo over the next five years.
Coupling the money owed to an injured Davis with their recent spending spree on Rondo, is Grousbeck concerned about the team’s finances? Quite the opposite. In fact, the Celtics are on a record-setting pace for revenue as they feature a reloaded team contending for another trophy.
‘On the contrary, we are on course to set a new record for revenues thanks to our fantastic fan support and support from our sponsors and broadcast partners,’ Grousbeck told WEEI.com via email. ‘We appreciate everything they have done to support the team.’
Rondo’s new deal is a major financial obligation for a team who already has over $32 million tied up with starters Rondo, Kevin Garnett, and Kendrick Perkins next season alone. Next summer they will face Paul Pierce‘s $21.5 million player option and will also have to address Ray Allen‘s unrestricted free agency.
That’s just the starting lineup. The Celtics will also face the question of building their bench as role players including Marquis Daniels, Eddie House, Brian Scalabrine, Tony Allen, and Shelden Williams have expiring contracts.
The new-look Celts have been nothing short of a hit sensation. They are off to a 6-0 start two years removed from their 17th title and one year removed from reaching the Eastern Conference Semifinals with an undermanned/overachieving team.
And regardless of their upcoming financial commitments, Grousbeck remains confident the organization is prepared to continue its pursuit for another championship.
Said Grousbeck, ‘I thank the fans and sponsors and will do everything I can to keep a winning team on the floor.’
|11.05.09 at 10:34 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan to talk about how important his bench has been, the now-infamous Rajon Rondo vs. Chris Paul tiff, how getting more sleep has helped the Celtics, and his problems with Tim Donaghy.
Does it bother you when people start talking about winning 70 games?
No, it’s unrealistic, but it’s talk and people can talk about it, obviously. But it’s not what we’re focused on, I can tell you that.
On the Minnesota game:
You could see it early on, it was just one of those nights. Nothing was going for us. It didn’t look like we had legs, which happens during the year. Rasheed Wallace, Eddie [House] and Ray [Allen] were wide open on a lot of shots and some of them weren’t even close, so you knew it was one of those nights. Sometimes it’s a good thing when you can win with that, especially down the stretch, the last two or three defensive possessions we held them from scoring, it’s a good sign for your team.
Is it difficult to keep focus?
It’s not difficult at all because we have so many things to do defensively. We have things to do to get better offensively. We have yet to put in things. We’re not getting to the third and fourth options because we just don’t know them well enough yet, so we have a ton of work to do. Read the rest of this entry »
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