|03.06.09 at 11:54 pm ET|
The bigger the spotlight, the bigger he plays. Leon Powe does not always see major minutes, but when he is put on a national stage, he always seems to make the most of his time. Powe tries to show the world ‘ and his opponents ‘ just what he can do when given the opportunity.
‘Everybody knows their on TV, but you want to play well. You want to do your best,’ he said following the Celtics 105-94 win over the Cavaliers (RECAP HERE). ‘I always focus every game, I prepare the same, but there’s just a certain feeling when you wake up in the morning like you know you’re playing a big game.’
On Friday’s ESPN-televised game, Powe posted 20 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes. He is averaging just 6.7 points, 4.5 boards, and 16 minutes on the season. Not only was Powe aware of the implications of the game in a close Eastern Conference race, he also understood the consequences of a poor showing.
‘You’ve got to go out there and do well,’ he said. ‘You don’t want to do bad because you’re family and people are probably going to call you, like ‘What were you doing? What happened on this play?’ So I try to be extra focused too and just try to make the right reads and the right plays. I think I did everything right tonight, so fortunately I did. And that was good because some nights you aren’t going to make them like that.’
Of course Powe’s performance wasn’t driven by ego. He had no choice but to come up big for the Celtics to counter LeBron James and crew. The Celtics were already playing without forwards Kevin Garnett and Brian Scalabrine before Glen Davis was ejected for a Flagrant 2 Foul against Anderson Varejao.
‘There’s a lot of relying on me to go in there and try to hold the paint down and just get rebounds and just play defense and score when I got some opportunities,’ he said. ‘And I think I did that cause we’re missing a lot of people right now so I try to just do my best.’
Powe officially introduced himself to the world during Game of the 2008 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. Considering how well he plays when the spotlight is on, expect more encore performances.
|03.06.09 at 10:06 pm ET|
- Who will prove to be the better pick up? Marbury, Moore, and Smith are on the court in crunch time. Nothing better than being thrown to the wolves to get players ready for the postseason.
– Doc called Marbury over during free throws. As they talked, both put their hands on the other’s back. When was the last time Marbury seemed to get along this well with a coach?
– Big Z is getting everyone riled up tonight. This time he drew a controversial foul on Kendrick Perkins which sent the crowd into a tizzy.
– Huge night for Leon Powe. In addition to his 18 points and 9 rebounds so far, he swatted a monster block followed up with a chance for a three-point play.
– Collision between Ray Allen and LeBron at half court. Both players fell to the ground after it looked like LeBron tried to set a hard pick. Everyone’s fine.
– Another tie up at halfcourt, this one reminding me of Pierce’s game-changing timeout during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
– Looks like this is a rap. James and the Cavs starters are being yanked with 1:27 to go. Pierce is still in the game with 45 minutes.
– Now it’s really a rap. J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker are in.
- Final score … Celtics 105, Cavs 94
|03.06.09 at 9:26 pm ET|
So, you’re the Celtics. You’re up by two points. That’s good. But LeBron James has not played well and you have to expect he’ll be better in the second half. That’s not good. So, are you happy with a two-point lead or are you thinking that you blew a chance to get a little distance on the scoreboard?
Probably a little bit of both.
What you are happy with, if you’re the Celtics, is the production of Leon Powe, Big Baby Davis and Kendrick Perkins who are eating up the Cavs big men. As noted in our preview this is one you just can’t predict and if you had figured on any of those above scenarios, well, congrats you are a hoops Nostradamus.
THIRD QUARTER WRAP: OK, so we had a minor fracas, an ejection, three technicals and a flagrant 2, an explosion from Paul Pierce and a smaller, but no less significant one from Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo has already racked up 10 assists.
The next 12 minutes could do no less than decide the rest of the regular season, homecourt, the playoffs, and the fate of the Republic. Not bad.
Third Quarter Observations
— At the risk of stating the obvious, that was a big shot for Ray Allen to make to open the half. We try to mix the obvious with the sublime. It’s what we do.
— Well, to quote Dick Stockton, you could see that coming. Perkins and Baby have had elbows for Anderson Varejao all night, and Varejao is a well-known instigator. That said that was a hard foul. A foul that wouldn’t have been out of place in the 80s or 90s. In the 00s it’s a Flagrant 2.
— So, Ray Allen and LeBron James got double T’s. Big Z got a regular T and Baby got a Flagrant 2. Got all that?
— Whoops. I didn’t. Baby Davis got ejected, which is automatic with a Flagrant 2. Got my flagrants confused. It’s hard to tell from courtside without numerous HD replays but that seems kind of dubious.
— I’m beginning to sense a Pierce-James battle looming, and I like it.
— OK Ray, here’s the play. Rondo will hit you on the break. You go hard to to the goal and when LeBron comes over, you bounce it off his chest, spin in the lane and make a layup on the other side. Got it? Ready, break!
— Not sure if it was visible on TV, but Perkins just caught Varejao with an elbow to the chops.
— This will be a test for Doc to see if he’s willing to take Pierce out of this game for a few minutes. Would he trust Bill Walker in this spot? Would he go small with three guards?
— Uh-oh. Pierce is feeling it. The guy behind me on that fast break 3: “No, no, no, yeah!”
— I hate this lineup for the Cavs. Wally has no shot of playing Powe inside. JJ Hickson is where?
|03.06.09 at 8:39 pm ET|
– The Garden kicked off the second quarter with a trivia contest for playoff tickets, hosted by Greg Dickerson. The contest pitted a Celtics and Cavs fan against one another. Despite being spoon-fed the correct answers, the Celtics fans still got the first question wrong. Needless to say he was booed.
– On the court: Celtics – Powe/Moore/Marbury/Pierce/House … Cavs – Gibson/Williams/Szczerbiak/Hickson/Smith
– It’ll be interesting to see how the Celtics bigs handle Joe Smith and J.J. Hickson. Smith has a mid-range jumper that can pull defenders out of the paint. The rookie Hickson was working on turn-around bank shots before the game.
– Mikki Moore had his first crowd-rousing moment at the Garden when he dunked through a handful of Cavs off of a Marbury pass.
– Rondo was welcomed back into the game with a standing ovation. The Cavs have most of their starters back in the game looking for an offensive spark. So far they have come up cold in the second quarter. The Celtics have all five starters in the game.
– LeBron’s posing after every shot like it’s a game winner. He’s shooting 2-for-7.
– Mo Williams has the Cavs back in this game with eight quick points. At the half … Cetlics 45, Cavs 43
|03.06.09 at 8:09 pm ET|
Celtics forward Brian Scalabrine cannot participate in one-on-one drills until April 1, he said prior to Friday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the meantime he will do excercises that do not involve “bouncing,” including the stationary bike and stairclimber. Scalabrine, who was diagnosed with post concussion syndrome, has not suffered from blurred vision since Tuesday. (A plus considering he said he parked Eddie House’s car.) He has not played since February 19 against the Utah Jazz.
|03.06.09 at 8:02 pm ET|
There is a playoff atmosphere both in the Garden and in the press room for this one. It’s a shame, really, that Kevin Garnett isn’t in uniform, but he is here. His baritone was unmistakable behind the locker room wall. Doc Rivers reiterated that KG will be out at least another week.
But everyone else is ready to go and we are too. Let’s get it started.
FIRST QUARTER WRAP: If the first 12 minutes are any indication this is going to be a knockdown drag-out street fight. Neither team is giving an inch defensively and fast breaks are but a rumor. Considering the fact that Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined for three points, that the Celtics have a 21-19 lead is about as good as they could have hoped.
First Quarter Observations
— The Cavs are in mustard yellow finest for this one. The Celtics are in their classic whites. Something to be said for classic.
— Where will the offense come for the Celtics tonight beside Ray Allen and Paul Pierce? Kendrick Perkins made a nice move on Big Z to score in the lane last time down. Despite a ton of size, Z has trouble moving and could be someone the C’s can exploit. Of course he can also make 20 footers like they are layups.
— This has been like the first two rounds of a big fight with both teams gingerly testing each other but not going for knockout. Now that LeBron just biffed that dunk maybe it’s time to take off the wraps and get down to business. I’m telling you LeBron was WAY up there for that windmill.
— Asked in the opening minute who would score besides Pierce and Allen? We’re at the first timeout and all the points have come from players not named Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
— Whole lot of everything going on there. Allen’s mysterious shooting funk against the Cavs continues, Perkins got a career-highlight block on LeBron, but most importantly Rondo is down and he is hurt.
It looks like he has a sprained ankle. He was hopping on one foot behind the plan and completely collapsed at midcourt. He is still on the bench at this moment. Eddie House replaced him in the lineup.
— Joe Smith was booed. Not sure why.
— Update: Rondo has a slightly sprained right ankle and will return. That is huge news for the Celtics.
— Outside shots are just not falling tonight. Both teams defend the perimeter extremely well so that’s not a surprise, but Allen especially has had a couple of decent looks. It would do wonders for his psyche if he had a breakout game against Cleveland. To be sure, Allen is as veteran-tough as it comes, but still the Cavs have defended him better than anyone in the past.
— The Celtics spacing is all messed up but they are playing hard. Baby and Perkins especially.
|03.06.09 at 1:22 pm ET|
As the Celtics shot around at their training facility in Waltham, everyone wanted to know what the Celtics needed to do to beat King James and the Cavaliers without last season’s defensive player of the year and the team’s heart and emotional soul in a suit for at least another week.
“He ran yesterday, he told me, on the treadmill, which I’m sure was supervised,” Rivers said. “And he said he felt great so he’s feeling a lot better. That’s the first day he’s been able to run so we’ll take it day-to-day from that point on.”
“It’s the whole knee thing. We’re just going to take our time. I would say at least a week out and most likely, longer.”
As for tonight’s battle to end all battles, at least for the next 24 hours, Rivers, possibly looking back on last year’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semis, pointed out what it really means, especially if they could pull it off without Garnett, Brian Scalabrine and Tony Allen.
“It’s a big game,” Rivers said. “Obviously, home court is at stake here. And it would be a great win for us, to beat them at their full strength and us not having Kevin, Scal and Tony, I think it would be a phenomenal win for us. We’ll be ready.”
The Celtics have allowed their last two opponents to score over 100 points while a third, Indiana scored 99 last Friday.
“We want to win, really, and we have to find a way to do that,” Rivers said. “We’ve got to improve defensively. Over the last couple of games, we have not played our defense, especially transition-wise. And if we don’t get back tonight, it’s going to be a long night. That’s what we have to improve.
“We’ve won games and we’ve lost to a couple of good teams, which I can always live with even though you never want to lose, but our defense hasn’t been consistent and for us to be a good offensive team, we have to have multiple stops and we have to get back to that.”
But maybe it was Leon Powe who provided the best perspective of all on Friday morning, a mere nine hours before tip.
“It’s real good for us because we’ve been looking forward to this game,” Powe said of the test. “If you want to be the best you’ve got to beat the best. I know the road to the championship means you’ve got to knock us off. We see them as a real threat. We’ve got to go out there and play our best and hopefully both teams put on a good show and hopefully we come out on top.”