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Fast Break: Doc Rivers’ Clippers hand Celtics another reunion loss

12.11.13 at 9:57 pm ET
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Celtics fans thanked Doc Rivers with a standing ovation during a video tribute after the first quarter, and how did he repay his former organization? Guiding his Clippers to a 96-88 victory in his first game since leaving Boston.

Jeff Green (29 points), Brandon Bass (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Jordan Crawford (20 points, 9 assists) all had themselves a game against their former coach, but it wasn’t enough to help the Celtics avoid a second straight loss.

Not the greatest reunion week for the C’s, who drop to 10-14 and watch their Atlantic Division lead dwindle to a game over the idle Raptors.

WHAT WENT WRONG

The usuals: While the Celtics played stout defense, Clippers stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin got theirs, combining for 40 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists on the night. Meanwhile, the C’s held Los Angeles’ remaining three starters — Willie Green, Jared Dudley and DeAndre Jordan — to 22 points, 13 boards and two dimes. The strategy that probably wasn’t a strategy at all nearly worked.

Jump shoot: While Avery Bradley‘s jump shot has vastly improved since last season, Wednesday wasn’t his night. He didn’t connect on his first jumper until midway through the fourth quarter, although he did throw down this impressive one-handed alley-oop from Crawford early. His first connection from long distance, though, did give the Celtics a lead back after Los Angeles started the second half on a 15-4 run.

Benched: For the second straight night, Celtics coach Brad Stevens got little contribution from his second unit. With Kris Humphries nursing a bruised right knee and rookie Kelly Olynyk (ankle) missing his ninth straight game, Vitor Faverani was the lone big off the bench, and he put up zeroes again. The C’s reserves didn’t score their first points until Gerald Wallace‘s layup with 1:54 remaining in the third gave the C’s a 63-60 lead. And somehow Courtney Lee fouled out with all of zero points in the 15 minutes of action.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Steez: The legend of Crawford continues to grow with each passing game. Facing Paul, the best floor general in the business, Crawford held his own in the first half. The Celtics point guard entered the break with nine points, five assists and just one turnover — respectable numbers opposite Paul’s 15 points, three assists and two turnovers. Meanwhile, the C’s assisted on 12 of their 18 first-half field goals to take a 45-39 lead.

Motivation: Two of the Celtics most scorned by Doc’s departure, Green and Bass, came to play against their former coach. When Rivers left, admitting an unwillingness to go through another rebuilding process, that had to sting for the players left on the roster. Bass tallied his second double-double of the season in as many nights, and Green netted 20 points for the first time this month, including this monster dunk.

Defense: Through three quarters, the Celtics held the Clippers to 66 points on 43.1 percent shooting (40.9 percent in the first and 40.0 in the second), staying within two when the C’s themselves were shooting just 39.1 percent from the field. Los Angeles came into the game shooting 46.5 percent on the season and scoring 105.1 points per 100 possessions, both top-five marks in the league. Unfortunately for Boston, the aggressive defense led to 17 personal fouls and 34 free throws for Los Angeles (as opposed to 19 free throws for the C’s).

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers, NBA

Celtics pay video tribute to Doc Rivers

12.11.13 at 8:26 pm ET
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Between the first and second quarters of Wednesday night’s game between the Celtics and Clippers, Boston paid tribute to the coach who led the franchise to its 17th NBA championship with a video on the Jumbotron. He received a standing ovation from the Garden crowd. And the Celtics led 28-25 after one.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers, NBA

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett show Celtics love

12.10.13 at 10:38 pm ET
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Both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett spoke fondly of the Celtics in the aftermath of their new team’s 104-96 win over the organization that sent them to Brooklyn.

Paul Pierce: “I love those guys. They’re going to fight. That’s that Celtics pride. They all wear it with pride. You see it in the way they play, the way they’re coached. You hear [Rajon] Rondo on the sidelines coaching. They’re going to continue to be the Celtics, and they’re going to always play with pride.”

Kevin Garnett: “Because Doc [Rivers] isn’t there, it’s a little less emotional. You don’t see Danny [Ainge] sitting on the sidelines. You don’t see Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Eddie House, Baby [Glen Davis]. I see Rajon over there, which makes it a little more emotional at times. Obviously, I went to battle with BB [Brandon Bass], Jeff Green, Courtney Lee and a lot of those guys. Those are real solid guys that I know on that team. Other than that, it was another night in the office. They’ve been playing well. They beat the crap out of the Knicks. Obviously, we haven’t been playing well at home, so we wanted to come in and play well, but there will always be a special place in my heart when I face the green.”

One reunion down, one to go, as the Celtics host Rivers’ Clippers on Wednesday night.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Garnett, NBA

Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett win Celtics reunion

12.10.13 at 10:01 pm ET
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The pregame hoopla may have focused on Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce‘s first game against their former team, but Brook Lopez and Deron Williams stole the show on the court in Brooklyn’s 104-96 victory against the Celtics.

Williams (25 points) and Lopez (24 points) helped the Nets end the C’s three-game win streak and crawl within two games of Boston’s Atlantic Division lead. Garnett and Pierce combined for 15 points, 16 rebounds and six assists.

All five Celtics starters scored in double figures, led by Bradley’s 22 points. Brandon Bass (13 points, 11 rebounds) notched his first double-double of the season. Jeff Green added 19 points and six boards while Jared Sullinger and Jordan Crawford added 15 apiece. The Celtics fell to 10-13.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Babbling Brook: The Celtics had no answer for Lopez. The undersized frontcourt of Sullinger and Bass was no match for the 7-foot, 275-pound Lopez, who scored 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting through the first three quarters, when the Nets owned a 46-24 advantage in the paint and an 85-72 edge on the scoreboard. The Celtics made it a game in the final minutes, but couldn’t overcome a Nets lead as large as 17.

El Hombre Destructible: Celtics coach Brad Stevens attempted to counter Lopez with Vitor Faverani, but the Brazilian 7-footer finished minus-12 in four minutes with two personal fouls and zeroes across the stat sheet. In his last five games, Faverani is averaging 2.8 points and 1.5 rebounds. While Kelly Olynyk‘s return may help the front line, the C’s still won’t have a defender capable of matching up with a true center.

Bench press: Pierce came off the bench for just the fourth time in his career, anchoring a Brooklyn second unit that dominated their Celtics counterparts. While Pierce scored in the single digits, he added seven rebounds and three assists to give the Nets reserves a total of 22 points, 20 rebounds and six assists. Faverani, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries all struggled, as the Celtics bench totaled just 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Second helping: Often matched up with Williams, who missed the previous nine games with an ankle injury, Bradley torched the Nets point guard in the second quarter, scoring 12 of his 15 first-half points to help the Celtics remain within nine, 56-47, at halftime. Bradley has now reached double-digit scoring in 15 games, a number he didn’t reach until mid-March last season.

Triple threat: The Celtics made eight of their first 14 3-point attempts, including their first three tries of the third quarter to tie the game at 60-60. Bradley started 3-of-5, Green made his first two and Sullinger connected on his first two tries after halftime, as the C’s erased a 13-point first-half deficit 2:22 into the third quarter.

Old friends: As far as the reunion goes, this hug between Garnett and Rajon Rondo during a timeout said it all. This wasn’t exactly the cold shoulder routine KG gave Ray Allen last season.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Garnett, NBA

Jordan Crawford named Player of the Week

12.09.13 at 3:18 pm ET
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Add this to the long list of things you never thought you’d read this NBA season (or ever, for that matter): Jordan Crawford, starting point guard for the first-place Celtics, earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors.

The C’s were the conference’s lone team to finish last week unbeaten, sweeping the Bucks, Nuggets and Knicks to improve their record to 10-12. Crawford averaged 23.3 points (61.0 FG%, 52.2 3P%), 6.7 assists and 3.0 rebounds.

  • Celtics 108, Bucks 100: 25 points (season high), 5 assists, 2 rebounds
  • Celtics 106, Nuggets 98: 22 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds
  • Celtics 114, Knicks 73: 23 points (career-high six 3’s), 7 assists, 3 boards

Crawford beat out Pacers forward Paul George and Pistons teammates Andre Drummond and Brandon Jennings for the honor. Obviously, this is the first Player of the Week award of Crawford’s four-year career.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jordan Crawford, NBA,

Nets’ Paul Pierce practices, says ‘good chance’ he’ll play Tuesday vs. Celtics

12.09.13 at 1:35 pm ET
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Nets swingman Paul Pierce, expected to be out 2-4 weeks when he broke the third metacarpal bone in his right hand 10 days ago, might return early and play in Tuesday’s game against the Celtics after practicing Monday, according to reports out of Brooklyn.

Pierce said there’s “a good chance” he’ll play vs. his former team after testing his injury.

Point guard Deron Williams, out since Nov. 20 with a sprained ankle, also practiced Monday.

The Nets are 6-14 and coming off a 90-82 victory over the Bucks, as they rebounded from a 30-point loss at home to the Knicks on Thursday.

The Celtics, meanwhile, have won three straight and are coming off a 41-point victory over the Knicks. Boston is in first place in the woeful Atlantic Division with a record of 10-12.

Read More: Deron Williams, Paul Pierce,

Celtics destroy Knicks to extend Atlantic Division lead

12.08.13 at 3:38 pm ET
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The Celtics scored the first 12 points of the game and raced out to a 22-point lead in the first quarter (a staggering 25-3 mark in the first eight and a half minutes of the game) en route to a 114-73 victory over the Knicks in New York. Jordan Crawford poured in 23 points and delivered seven assists, while Jared Sullinger added 21, on a day when the Celtics shot 54 percent from the floor, including 56 percent from behind the 3-point line. Crawford drained half of his 12 attempts from behind the arc.

While the Celtics went through stretches where they couldn’t miss, the Knicks endured the opposite phenomenon, shooting just 34 percent for the game. Boston also enjoyed complete dominance on the glass, outrebounding New York by a 46-26 margin.

The 41-point margin represented the 16th largest in Celtics history, and the largest spread since a 108-63 win over the Kings in December 2008. The victory improved the Celtics to 10-12, good for a two-game lead in the hapless Atlantic Division.

For a complete recap, click here.

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