|01.14.09 at 7:38 pm ET|
We are live from the Garden for tonight’s game between the Celtics and the New Jersey Nets. We are at the midway point of the Celtics season and oddly this is the first meeting between the two teams. The Celtics have already played Toronto four times, the Knicks three times and the Sixers twice, but no Swamp Dragons so far. Curious.
We’ll be following the matchup between Rajon Rondo and Devin Harris all night, but there’s also an intriguing situation with 7-foot rookie Brook Lopez and Brian Scalabrine, who is most definitely not 7-feet but is starting in place of Kendrick Perkins.
Away we go… Read the rest of this entry »
|01.14.09 at 7:27 pm ET|
Before Wednesday night’s game against the New Jersey Nets, Kendrick Perkins broke a sweat working on his post moves. He banked shots over Patrick O’Bryant and then sprinted down the court at the orders of Sam Cassell. This would seem like just another night, except Perkins is injured. That isn’t stopping the big man, though, from keeping his rhythm.
‘I’m just trying to stay on top of my conditioning,’ Perkins said prior to the game. ‘I don’t want to lose my rhythm so I’m working on my post moves, doing a lot of shots, I did some jump roping, and a lot of court running, and stuff like that. I don’t want to be too far off.’
Perkins will miss at least a week with a reoccurring shoulder injury. It has plagued him since a Christmas Day game against the Los Angeles Lakers, according to Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, and is the explanation behind his recent inconsistency on the glass. As a precaution, Perkins is avoiding physical contact. Other than that, he’s following the same routine.
‘I just [can't] play basketball, contact, that’s it,’ he said. ‘I hit the weights earlier today so it’s getting better by the day … You’ve got to scale back but it never really fell off. I’m pretty much on the same page, I’m just doing different type of exercises now to work different parts of the muscle, so that’s really what I’m concentrating on.’
Perkins hopes to play next Monday against the Phoenix Suns, but said he is not going to rush his return. As for Brian Scalabrine, who has been filling in for Perkins, his return against Shaquille O’Neal would be perfect timing.
‘Wow,’ said a wide-eyed Scalabrine, unaware of the upcoming match up. ‘I’d like the opportunity to start but Perk is the guy who should be on the Diesel.’
|01.14.09 at 9:15 am ET|
It is never easy when a starting center goes down. With Kendrick Perkins out at least a week, Doc Rivers will have to use an undersized rotation of Brian Scalabrine and Leon Powe at the five spot. The Celtics caught a break in the past two games when the Toronto Raptors were without Jermaine O’Neal, but on Wednesday night the New Jersey Nets could pose a sizable challenge ‘¦ a 7′ challenge to be exact.
Brook Lopez, the twin brother of Phoenix Suns center Robin, is emerging as a rookie to watch this season. He is coming off of a career-high 31 point, 13 rebound performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder and is averaging 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks in the last ten games. Lopez isn’t just beating up on lottery teams either. He posted 17 points, 10 rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers and 15 points, 13 boards against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Tip-off is at 7:30pm EST. Stay with WEEI’s Celtics Game Day Blog for all the latest from the Garden.
|01.14.09 at 8:34 am ET|
In the latest edition of his Yardbarker.com blog, Rajon Rondo said he is happy to be back on the winning side of things. Back-to-back victories over the Toronto Raptors have the Boston Celtics point guard feeling good again.
I’m glad to say that we have won the last two games (knock on wood). I don’t want to jinx anything, but these past two wins have felt great. It is extremely tough to beat the same team back to back, but I’m glad that we did. Our defense was better and we were able to make shots-two things that we needed. We have another game tomorrow. Hopefully, we will be able to get the W.
Rondo averaged 11.5 points, 9.5 assists, and 5.5 rebounds in the last two wins. He will be tested tonight against the New Jersey Nets standout PG Devin Harris.
|01.13.09 at 6:42 am ET|
Maybe Kevin Garnett is right. Maybe the Celtics should play the theme from Superman every time Paul Pierce steps on the court. On a bum right knee, or at least very ‘ginger’ as Pierce himself said, the Celtics captain made 13 of his 26 shots and totaled a season-high 39 points to lead the Celtics to a 115-109 overtime win against the Toronto Raptors Monday night at TD Banknorth Garden. With the Celtics already missing starting center Kendrick Perkins with a bad left shoulder and Tony Allen in a protective boot with a sprained right ankle, Pierce picked it up a notch for the entire game, even when Andrea Bargnani hit a three with one second remaining. Pierce did have a supporting cast, as Kevin Garnett scored 20, Ray Allen 12 and Brian Scalabrine, playing for Perkins, chipped in with 11, including three three-pointers.
|01.12.09 at 9:49 pm ET|
It was a familiar scene. The Dropkick Murphy’s ‘I’m Shipping Up to Boston’ blared in the background. Fans jumped around in their seats and screamed when prompted by Kevin Garnett on the JumboTron. Paul Pierce had an unwavering look of determination on his face. Ray Allen drained a three and the Boston Celtics bench could hardly contain themselves. It’s only January, but on Monday night it felt a lot like June in the Garden.
‘It reminded me a lot of the playoffs, the intensity,’ said Glen Davis. ‘We had to get us a win, try to get us a streak going again. We just found a way to win tonight and the crowd was there for us and gave us some good energy.’
Similar to a postseason schedule, the Celtics took on the Raptors for the second time in as many days. Sunday’s game had been intense, with technical fouls and a close finish. Monday’s 115-109 overtime triumph over Toronto did not have any less energy.
‘They showed great fan support, like they’ve been doing all year and my entire career here,’ said Rajon Rondo. ‘That’s how it is basically every game when we’re at the Garden, especially when in close game situations. We need them to step up and make noise and they definitely do a great job of it.’
Up three points with seconds left in regulation, the Celtics watched the Raptors drain a trey to send the game into overtime. The starters had already been exhausted through the first four quarters. Pierce, who recently aggravated his knee, had played nearly 45 minutes. Allen, Garnett and Rondo were all approaching 40. Nonetheless, there was no let-up in the Garden.
‘Actually, I felt pretty good,’ said Pierce. ‘Could have played another quarter I think. I’m feeling pretty good.’
It took nine ties and six lead changes for the Celtics to put the Raptors away by six points in OT (RECAP HERE). Even though the game ran relatively late by NBA standards, the fans weren’t packing up. Neither were the Celtics.
‘They gave us a lot of energy, just to play even harder,’ said Leon Powe. ‘Even when you didn’t think you had any more left, you push yourself even harder just to get the win and get a stop for the fans and for ourselves. It was just fun to be out there. I know everybody had fun, with the fans yelling and the coaches yelling, everybody on the bench standing up. It was like a playoff atmosphere again.’
Just as in the playoffs, every game counts this season. The Eastern Conference is not promised to the Celtics and they have competition at the top of the standings for homecourt advantage. Whether they are playing the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Memphis Grizzlies, no game can be taken lightly.
‘Our fans are not dummies. I know they are looking at the top three rankings right now with Cleveland and Orlando and us, and they know every game is important,’ said Kendrick Perkins. ‘So I’m expecting that from every home game from here on out. Every game is important and we’ve got to expect the same thing from the fans.’
It was only January but it felt like June. And the Celtics are expecting the same intensity come the playoffs.
‘They got pretty loud tonight and they’re just getting warmed up,’ said Ray Allen. ‘They’re getting warmed up.’
|01.12.09 at 9:43 pm ET|
There were about eight minutes left in the third quarter and the Celtics were down 10 when Paul Pierce knocked down a 3-pointer. OK, here it comes. The Celtics will make a stand. The Raptors answered. Pierce scored again. Toronto hit a 3.
It’s not going to happen. A split will have to suffice. That’s the price for playing everybody 40 minutes the day before. That’s the way it works in the NBA when the games pile on top of each other and the injuries mount and the practice time gets short. Or maybe it was just getting started.
Then Ray Allen pulled out a sweet reverse layup from his memory bank and Pierce made a couple of more shots. Brian Scalabrine hit a couple of corner 3′s. The Toronto lead was six, then it was four. Pierce was in that groove that he gets into sometimes when the game just slows down to a crawl and he has everybody on a string. Maybe he can pull it off? Maybe?
A couple of weeks ago Doc Rivers was talking about the stretch of games between Christmas and the All-Star break. He called it the dog days of the NBA season. The coach marveled at how well his team handled the stretch last season when their focus never wavered and they never conceded a thing. People worried back then that they were pushing too hard, sacrificing too much to win meaningless games no one would remember when the playoffs started.
Wouldn’t it be nice if this team showed that kind of toughness?
Pierce kept coming and coming. Much later Kevin Garnett would break into song when asked to describe Pierce’s night.
“Dun dun-dun-duh, dun dun dun. Dun du-du-dun! Dun du-dun.” The Superman theme for those not able to follow the transcription.
“Y’all need to start playing the Superman theme music when he’s going like that,” Garnett said. “This is Clark Kent right here, ladies and gentlemen. He was 13-for-26 tonight with 39 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Superman.” And 49 minutes. On a bruised knee.
The bench, that much maligned bench, started the fourth quarter with energy and resourcefulness. Eddie House made a couple of shots, Leon Powe and Big Baby Davis banged bodies around and Gabe Pruitt just played. The Garden was rocking and the tidal wave was about to hit. This is how they do it. This is how the Celtics win games. But the Raptors wouldn’t go away.
On and on it went, with Garnett playing Chris Bosh like he was making the first start of his career, not the 1,000th. The long stretch of games, the back-to-backs, the lack of rest, none of it mattered now. Not to Garnett. Not to any of them.
“Yesterday I told you guys that Bosh is to me if not the best, then one of the best power forwards in the game today,” Garnett said. “I told them I didn’t want any help or use any kind of energy on defense. When it came to Bosh, I didn’t want it.
“You see Paul going like he’s going, you let him take care of the buckets and I’ll try to take care of the defense.”
Garnett bodied up Bosh and made him uncomfortable. He reached deep into his bag of veteran tricks, mixing up his defenses like a hoops version of Bill Belichick. Anthony Parker got free on a switch and Garnett doubled back and stuffed him like he was back at Farragut.
The Celtics took command in the fourth quarter and it was over. Cue Gino, drive home safely.
And then it wasn’t. Pierce made one mistake when he missed the front end of two foul shots and the Raptors got one last chance to tie it when Andrea Bargnani hit a 3-pointer after a scramble for a loose ball. Overtime.
Pierce hit a couple of more shots to start the extra session. “Actually I feel pretty good,” he said after working for 49 minutes and 24 seconds. “Could have played another quarter, I think.”
Thankfully he didn’t have to. The Celtics ground out the clock, and the win, after 53 grueling minutes. It was the most satisfying win they’ve had since when exactly? Last June?
Maybe it will catch up with them on Wednesday against New Jersey. Maybe it will be the game everybody looks back on after the season and say, “That was the start of the turnaround.” Maybe it will be meaningless, just another of the 82.
It’s impossible to say on January 12th what last night at the Garden will mean, really. The Celtics pride themselves on the old tried and true one game at a time mantra, and so we’re left with this: For one game, the Celtics were back.