|03.20.10 at 10:33 pm ET|
The last time the Celtics played the Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki scored 37 points and had Rasheed Wallace vowing “retribution.” For three quarters the Celtics held Nowitzki in check, but in the final 12 minutes the most under-appreciated superstar in the NBA began to get rolling.
Nowitzki shot the Mavs back into the game — and a seven-point fourth quarter lead — and the Celtics knew that if they were going to steal another one on the road, they would have to stop him to do it.
Kevin Garnett drew the assignment down the stretch, but he was not alone. Wherever Nowitzki went, help followed. The Celtics allowed open jump shots to whomever wanted one, but wouldn’t let Nowitzki breathe. While he finished with 28 points, the Celtics held him to just one field goal in the final five minutes.
The Celtics did escape with a 102-93 win in Dallas (recap) against a Mavs team that had been 14-2 since acquiring Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood. In doing so they not only completed the sweep of the back-to-back, they also capped off a sweep of the Texas triangle after beating Houston Friday night and San Antonio earlier in the year.
Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo combined for 70 points on 26-for-45 shooting, 16 rebounds and 14 assists. It was the Celtics’ fourth straight win and their fifth in the last six games. It was also their most significant win since beating the Lakers and Portland back-to-back in February.
Retribution? Maybe not, but it was certainly a satisfying win for the Celtics.
Player of the Game: Paul Pierce scored 29 points on 10-for-17 shooting, but it was his last points that were the most important. With the Celtics clinging to a one-point lead, Pierce drained a 3-pointer from the top of they key. He then came up with a steal on the other end and found Rajon Rondo for an easy layup and a 99-93 lead. It was Pierce’s third straight game where he has scored more than 20 points.
Turning Point: After J.J. Barea sank a 3-pointer to put Dallas ahead, 82-75, the Celtics looked like they might be in trouble. But Ray Allen came back and hit a 20-footer and then a long 3-pointer to get the C’s back within two, 84-82. The Mavs are a notorious second-half team and looked like they were about to make one of their patented fourth-quarter runs before Allen’s big shots.
* The C’s opened up a 60-52 lead with a 12-5 run to start the second half, but the Mavericks rallied, highlighted by an emphatic dunk by Caron Butler on Kendrick Perkins.
* Both teams got off to a slow start as the Celtics missed their first five shots and the Mavs missed five of their first six. But things picked up quickly after that and the Celtics took a 30-24 lead after one quarter.
* Jason Terry scored 14 points in the first half. The Mavericks bench completely outplayed the Celtics reserves.
* The teams combined for 26 free throws in the first half.
* Garnett had a strange stat line in the first half when he had eight rebounds and five steals to go with just two points. Garnett missed all four shots that he took, but he appeared to be moving well.
|03.20.10 at 9:09 pm ET|
At the half, the Celtics have a 48-47 lead in Dallas.
Paul Pierce leads the Celtics with 12 points, while Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen each have eight.In the strangest stat line from the first half, Kevin Garnett is 0-for-4 from the floor, but has seven rebound and five steals.
Both teams got off to a slow start as the Celtics missed their first five shots and the Mavs missed five of their first six. But things picked up quickly after that and the Celtics took a 30-24 lead after one quarter.
Pierce scored 10 points in the quarter, but the biggest difference was at the free throw line where the Celtics made 12-of-13 shots and were plus-eight at the line compared to Dallas. The Mavs got up 23 shots in the first quarter, but shot only 43 percent.
|03.19.10 at 10:12 pm ET|
The Big Three came together to help the Celtics beat the Rockets, 94-87, on Friday night in Houston.
Paul Pierce led all players with 26 points (15 in the fourth quarter); Ray Allen shot 5-for-8 from 3-point range (19 points), and Kevin Garnett scored 15. Allen and Garnett’s contributions were so significant because they kept the Celtics ahead when Pierce was benched early on with foul trouble. The trio didn’t have to be on the court at the same time to be effective.
The Celtics actually trailed 13-6 early in the first before going on an 8-0 run to erase their deficit. The comeback was a team effort. The C’s first 10 points came off of baskets from each of the five starters. They led 28-24 after the first 12 minutes.
The Celtics held the Rockets scoreless for the first 3:38 of the second quarter. During that stretch, they went on a 5-0 run and built a nine-point lead, which they carried into halftime.
When the Rockets made a push in the third, the Celtics fended off the threat with long-range shooting. Ray Allen and Nate Robinson nailed 3-pointers that kept the Rockets at bay.
Then the fourth belonged to Pierce. He scored 15 of his 26 points in the final quarter to ice the Celtics third straight win.
Turning Point: The Rockets had closed in, 57-55, with 5:28 left in the third. Kendrick Perkins blocked a driving layup attempt by Aaron Brooks and Rajon Rondo grabbed the rebound. He dished it to Ray Allen, who nailed a trey and pushed the Celtics back up, 62-57. It set the Celtics up for a series of 3’s that would maintain their lead.
Player of the Game: It’s tough to give the award to just one player when the Celtics won the game with a combined effort by Pierce, Allen, and Garnett. Each player did their part to lead the C’s to victory and picked up the slack when the other was off the court.
– Rasheed Wallace had one of his best performances in a Celtics uniform. He scored seven points off a combination of inside and outside shots, and grabbed nine rebounds.
– Glen Davis also had a solid contribution off the bench. He posted seven points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes. Nate Robinson scored eight in 13 minutes.
– Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 10 assists. The Rockets as a team dished just 15.
|03.19.10 at 8:47 pm ET|
The Rockets jumped out to an quick lead but lost control over it just five minutes into the game. The Celtics trailed 13-6 early in the first before going on an 8-0 run to erase their deficit. The comeback was a team effort. The C’s first 10 points came off of baskets from each of the five starters. They led 28-24 after the first 12 minutes.
The Celtics held the Rockets scoreless for the first 3:38 of the second quarter. During that stretch, they went on a 5-0 run and built a nine-point lead. They still lead by nine at halftime, 50-41.
Paul Pierce is the Celtics high scorer with 11 points. Rasheed Wallace is having one of his best showings all season, driving the lane and hitting his outside shots. He had added seven points, four rebounds, and two blocks off the bench. Luis Scola leads all players with 13 points.
|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.”
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