|04.02.10 at 11:05 am ET|
When the month of March began the Celtics were coming off a loss to the Nets and looking at 17 games in 31 days and 10 of those 17 at home. This was a chance for them to reassert themselves at TD Garden as well as get some of their pride back after struggling through January and February.
The Celtics went 11-6 in March and 7-3 at home, which are both solid marks, but not particularly noteworthy. They swept the Texas teams, but blew a halftime lead in Utah. They beat the Nuggets, but lost by 21 to the Spurs. They handled sub-500 teams on their schedule, but got crushed by Memphis. And, once again, they couldn’t hang with the Cavaliers for 48 minutes.
Have the Celtics improved over the last month? Absolutely. Have they inspired any more confidence that they have a serious postseason run in them? Not really. They are still in fourth place in the East and ninth in point differential. They remain good, maybe even dangerous, but outside the ranks of the top contenders.
ROCKETS (37-37, 4-6 last 10)
Points Per Game: 101.5
Points Allowed: 101.9
Differential: -.4 (16th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.0 (17th)
Defensive Efficiency: 107.4 (16th)
Pace: 93.8 (8th)
CELTICS (47-27, 6-4 last 10)
Points Per Game: 98.6
Points Allowed: 94.5
Differential: +4.1 (9th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.1 (16th)
Defensive Efficiency: 102.6 (2nd)
Pace: 91.7 (20th)
Injuries: Pierce (Shoulder, probable), Perkins (Knee, probable) Read the rest of this entry »
|04.01.10 at 5:23 pm ET|
To that point, Doc Rivers outlined two areas he believes his team has improved since the All-Star break and one more he believes still needs work before the second season begins.
Rivers told reporters following Thursday’s practice that the team has cut down on its turnovers since the break and has done a better job of rebounding in recent games.
But the one area he still feels his team needs work on its weak-side defense. In other words, Rivers wants to see more green and white shirts flying to the open shooter and not allow wide open shots, especially from three-point range.
That was particularly evident on Wednesday when Jeff Green nailed back-to-back three-pointers in the final two minutes to seal Oklahoma City’s 109-104 win over the Celtics.
“Turnovers are going down but we’ve had the sporadic bad game,” Rivers said. “We’re rebounding better, we’ve had the sporadic bad game. And then there’s the weak-side defense.
“To me that’s the biggest concern, a guy is going to get beat off the dribble, that next guy being there to take the charge and the next guy being there to get his body in the way and then the next guy getting on that guy’s body. That’s the next step we have to make.”
Rivers also said his players were more upset with three free-throw discrepancy than he was.
“I thought we could’ve gone to the line more but I thought we could’ve been more aggressive going to the basket as well since we took a lot of threes,” Rivers said. “I thought they were complaining more they were playing good defense on some of those and they were playing good defense.”
|04.01.10 at 2:56 pm ET|
Paul Pierce called in to Dale & Holley on Thursday to talk about the Celtics’ charge to the playoffs. Pierce said that he was happy that no major moves were done at the deadline to change the team and he sees this veteran squad being a team that can make moves in the postseason.
“I look at our and team and the struggles we have and I think we are more of a team that is built for the playoffs,” he said. “We have a number of guys who are in their 30s and I just think in the playoffs it becomes a half court game, and you only have to be better than four teams in the playoffs to win it all.”
Pierce also talked about where Rajon Rondo stacks up with the top point guards in the league, his future with the Celtics and why he is the Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA.
To read the transcript, look below. To listen, click here.
Kevin Garnett was a little upset after the game last night, wasn’t he?
He’s going to say how he feels.
That was a bogus call though, right?
We were expecting make up calls, but they never came.
That’s just the nature of the game. Sometimes you get good calls, sometimes you get bad calls, and sometimes it’s the way it goes. I felt like I didn’t foul in a couple of cases but the refs saw it differently and a lot of times it’s judgment calls and what they think. There’s nothing you can really do about it.
The guys, like Kevin Durant, get the calls but they really don’t need the help.
Durant shoots 15 free throws and we shoot 17 for the game. That was the ball game with the discrepancy with the free throw shooting and that’s the way the game goes sometimes. You got to move on from it and you can’t let it bother you even though it hurts. Those types of games hurt. I was really frustrated after the game with how things went. But there’s nothing you can do, you just got to move on. Read the rest of this entry »
|04.01.10 at 1:57 pm ET|
Celtics swingman Paul Pierce joined the Dale & Holley show Thursday afternoon and talked about Wednesday night’s tough loss to the Thunder. The Celtics were visibly upset about some of the officials’ calls that benefited Thunder star Kevin Durant, but Pierce said the team can’t afford to dwell on it. “That’s the way the game goes sometimes,” he said. “You’ve just got to move on from it. You can’t let it bother you, even though it hurts. Those type of games hurt. I was really frustrated after the game, with how things went. But there’s nothing you can really do. You’ve just got to move on.”
Asked why he doesn’t seem to get the benefit of the calls from the officials that his contemporaries do, Pierce said it’s part of the whole package. “I’ve always been the Rodney Dangerfield of the game — no respect. Even from Day 1, when I got drafted,” he said. “It something I’ve just got to play through. I can’t let it bother me or frustrate me. At this point in my career, I’ve been used to it. I just feel like it’s made me a better player, because I know everything I’ve done out there, I’ve had to earn.”
Addressing the Celtics’ inconsistencies this season, Pierce said: “I think we’re more of a team that was built for the playoffs, to be honest with you. We have a number of guys who are in their 30s. In the playoffs, where it becomes a halfcourt game, you only have to be better than four teams in the playoffs to win it all. And I think we’re more built for the playoffs, when the game slows down, when you talk about halfcourt defense. It’s been tough getting through the ups and downs of the regular season, different types of matchups and all sorts of things.”
Pierce said he discounts assertions that the Celtics are bored during some regular-season games. “I don’t think guys are bored with the regular season,” he said. “I think that’s a bunch a crap about being bored with it. It’s a process. You have to build up the playoffs. You have to be consistent in what you do. You don’t just go out here and be a great shooter. You have to practice that. And that’s what the regular season is. It’s practice for the playoffs.”
To hear the interview, including Pierce’s thoughts about free agency and having his number raised to the rafters, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
|04.01.10 at 10:43 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and talked about Kevin Durant, the young star who led the Thunder past the Celtics on Wednesday night. “Offensively, he’s as good as you’re going to get in the league,” Rivers said. “I think he is the most efficient offensive player in the league. LeBron and Kobe, they score more points, but he’s more efficient at it. He’s amazing. … He’s a great young kid. He’s everything good about our league. It’s really good to have a guy like that in our league.”
Rivers said Durant’s size is what puts him (literally) over the top, helping to make him the best catch-and-shoot guy in the NBA. “There’s probably guys who can shoot as well as Durant. The difference is when Durant catches and shoots, even if you’re there, because of his size, he can still shoot it over you,” Rivers said. “He knows at the end of the day, even [against] a good defense that he can still shoot it over you, because he’s five inches taller or four inches taller than most of the guys that are going to guard him.”
Rivers admitted that had the Celtics received the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft, he would have wanted to take Ohio State center Greg Oden over the skinny Texas star. “I would have taken Oden, there’s no doubt about it,” Rivers said. “Obviously, now, I would have been wrong. … You can’t fault Portland for taking Oden.”
Comparing Durant and LeBron James, Rivers said: “The bottom line is we haven’t seen any player in the history of basketball like either one of those guys. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a guy with the size of LeBron and the power of LeBron and the speed and the IQ and all that.’¨’¨ The comparison of Durant would be a cross between George Gervin and Dirk Nowitzki, but he also has more speed than both of them and he can handle the ball. … Skinny, long — he is a freak. That’s what he is.”
Rivers said the Thunder are an impressive team, mainly in the maturity department. “They’re young, they’re confident, they play defense,” he said. “They have pretty good composure for a young team. And they’re not an emotional team. … They went for skill over the potential athlete who, if he learns how to shoot and run, he can be a good player, if you know what I’m saying. And they went for character. All their guys coming out of college were known as high-character players, high-skill players. It’s tough to go wrong if you go with that formula.”
Rajon Rondo has received some criticism for not being consistent enough and focusing more on being flashy than fundamental. Responded Rivers: “Rondo has come such a long way. There are times when Rondo goes for the showy pass instead of being solid. But even that, to me, he has improved so much. I don’t have a lot of complaints with Rondo right now. I do think there are times when he wants to put on a show. … He keeps getting better, and I like that part of him. He’s more competitive, he plays harder, so there’s a lot of good things. Far more good than bad. There is no perfect player, by the way. And I always remind myself of that. But as far as Rondo goes, the positives are so much greater than the negatives.”
The Celtics did their share of complaining to the officials Wednesday night, which is nothing new for this team. Asked if his team sometimes complains too much, Rivers said: “There’s no doubt that we do. There is no doubt. … That’s something I spend timeouts with at times: ‘Guys, I’ll do the complaining. I’ll do whatever I need to do. You keep playing.’ … The one thing I did like, is it never stopped them from playing last night, and that’s a really good sign for us.”
To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
|04.01.10 at 3:21 am ET|
You know you’re good when a pair of NBA veterans curse your performance after you lead your team to a win on their home court.
Kevin Durant is that good — and then some.
He scored from every spot on the court, including the free throw line — where he made all 15 attempts. When all was said and done, the Celtics watched him pour in 37 points in Oklahoma City’s 109-104 win over the Green on Wednesday at TD Garden.
‘It’s a team job to help out, period,” Rasheed Wallace said. “No matter whether it’s him or any other type of NBA All-Star, it’s a team effort to help out. It was a [pain], honestly. Helping Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] out, it’s just a team thing. Got to stay with him.’
As for those 15 free throws, compare that to the fact the Celtics as a team made just 13-of-17 attempts the entire game.
‘I thought we were playing Michael [expletive] Jordan tonight the way he was getting the whistle,” Kevin Garnett added. “Durant damn near shot more free throws than our whole team.’
‘We’ve grown, we’ve grown up,” Durant said. “We’ve added a lot of different pieces since our first year, me and Jeff. So it’s good to come in here and beat a team like Boston — a great team, a championship team like them. It’s all about moving on from here.
‘It means a lot for us, and like you say gives us confidence. We’ve got eight more games left, so we’ve just got to keep plugging away and keep pushing. This is another step for us. We’re happy with this win, but tomorrow we’ve got to let it go and get ready for Dallas.’
Maybe most impressive is the fact the Thunder shot 50 percent, 10 percent less than their opponent — on their opponent’s home court — and still managed to win.
‘If you want a tape about how to score the basketball, you’ve got to watch this game,” Durant said. “They scored it in a variety of ways and we scored in a variety of ways as well. Our point guard did a great job of starting us off early, getting to the rim and opening things up for everybody else. It was a great game as far as offensive is concerned. We’ve just got to work on our defense from here.’
Glen Davis was one of the last Celtics to give his take on Durant on Wednesday, and he didn’t even need any dirty words.
‘He’s a problem because you’ve got to pay attention to him,” Davis said. “You’ve got to make sure he doesn’t beat you, and he had a big game tonight. We’ve got to get him out of his comfort zone and make sure he doesn’t have 37, but he did.’
|04.01.10 at 12:15 am ET|
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