|12.29.08 at 9:01 am ET|
The Boston Celtics sudden two-game skid put the tight Eastern Conference race into perspective. It took just two losses for the Cleveland Cavaliers to be one game within the lead in the East. The Celtics and Cavs will battle next week in Cleveland, where the Cavs are a perfect 16-0. If both teams continue on a winning pace, it is a match up that could alter the standings. But could one team falter before then? Here is a look at their schedules before they meet next Friday, January 9.
December 30 @ Portland Trail Blazers (19-12)
January 2 vs. Washington Wizards (5-23)
January 4 @ New York Knicks (11-18)
January 6 @ Charlotte Bobcats (11-20)
January 7 vs. Houston Rockets (20-11)
The Celtics and Cavs have more to worry about than just each other. The Orlando Magic, currently on a seven-game winning streak, are only three games behind the Cs.
(Standings as of December 29)
|12.26.08 at 2:37 pm ET|
Leon Powe is one of the most down-to-earth players in the NBA. But even he can’t hide his pride of winning a championship, especially when he returns to the Bay Area for the Boston Celtics west coast road trip.
‘It feels great. When I go back home whether it’s Oakland, LA, they call me the champ. I told them that’s my new name,’ Powe said with a laugh. ‘But it feels good just going back and seeing my family.’
Being called champ means nothing compared to spending time with his six younger siblings, all of whom Powe takes care of in one way or another. Playing against the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings this weekend will allow them to catch their big brother in action.
‘It’s going to be great for me,’ Powe said. ‘I’ve got my little brothers and sisters back there — I’ve got a lot of them — and they’ve been following each and every game. That’s big for me and them.’
Powe has more ties to the Bay Area community than just his family. The Oakland native runs free basketball clinics at the ‘Powe Folks’ Camp — ‘I don’t really need the money like that, so I let the kids in,’ he explains ‘ and is developing a family services program to pair children with mentors and offer them life skills and guidance.
On the court he is teaching his opponents a lesson of his own ‘ don’t send him to the line. Powe ranks second among all NBA reserves in free throws. He has also gotten to the line more than any of his teammates except for Paul Pierce. To put that in perspective, he has taken 41 more free throws than Kevin Garnett in 493 less minutes.
‘Whatever you do, make it aggressive,’ Powe said. ‘I’m more confident, settled down out there. So whenever [Celtics coach Doc Rivers] puts me out there, I know what I want to do and how I want to do it. I’m taking my time instead of rushing my shots. If I have a smaller guy on me I’ll take my time, knowing I can get anything I want. And just reading the scouting reports, too.’
This weekend the scouting report on Powe should read, aggressive power player hungry for a win in front of his family.
‘I just like the physical play,’ he said. ‘I don’t shy away from contact.’
|12.25.08 at 7:31 pm ET|
We are live from every blogger’s cliche, literally my mother’s basement in New Jersey, where Game 7 of the NBA Finals just concluded with a stirring victory for the Lakers over the Celtics… and wait, what’s that you say? The playoffs are over?
Huh. I could have swore I saw confetti coming down from the rafters of the Staples Center. And wasn’t that Kobe Bryant playing 43 minutes? I think I even saw Phil Jackson call a timeout while game was being played. That couldn’t have been a regular season game.
For the Lakers, it wasn’t. Clearly. They needed this one, and to their credit they went out and got it. In the last three minutes, Pau Gasol played like the guy everyone wants him to be all the time. Bryant was ridiculous the whole game, forcing when he needed to force and deferring when he needed to defer. And the Laker bench outplayed the Celtics second unit. They went all out in this one, and if they had lost it would have been devastating, but they didn’t. No we’ll see if they build on it or fall back into the bad habits that hurt them last week.
For the Celtics, the winning streak is over, which means we all have to come up with new questions for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, but more importantly, the Celtics finally got a chance to test themselves against a team that is in their universe. They answered some questions–can Rajon Rondo operate when the other team won’t guard him?–and left open a few more, such as, is their bench good enough?
Those, and a few more observations while resisting the urge to watch the Yankeeography marathon on the YES Network. Read the rest of this entry »
|12.25.08 at 7:06 pm ET|
On Christmas Day the second returns of the 2009 NBA All-Star Game ballots were announced. Dwight Howard continues to lead all votes while Rajon Rondo still struggles to crack the top 10 among all guards. Boston Celtics are bolded below in the Eastern Conference results:
Forwards: LeBron James (Clev) 1,259,764; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 905,506; Yi Jianlian (NJ) 762,162; Chris Bosh (Tor) 500,700; Paul Pierce (Bos) 313,474; Shawn Marion (Mia) 210,040; Hedo Turkoglu (Orl) 137,035; Danny Granger (Ind) 116,238; Josh Smith (Atl) 110,186; Michael Beasley (Mia) 100,257; Tayshaun Prince (Det) 98,262.
Guards: Dwyane Wade (Mia) 1,229,858; Allen Iverson (Det) 858,469; Vince Carter (NJ) 600,087; Ray Allen (Bos) 354,642; Devin Harris (NJ) 267,504; Gilbert Arenas (Wash) 205,223; Derrick Rose (Chi) 203,687; Luke Ridnour (Mil) 197,933; Jose Calderon (Tor) 193,715; Jameer Nelson (Orl) 174,081; Joe Johnson (Atl) 162,772.
Centers: Dwight Howard (Orl) 1,421,882; Samuel Dalembert (Phi) 232,733; Rasheed Wallace (Det) 163,279; Jermaine O’Neal (Tor) 147,534; Andrew Bogut (Mil) 112,708; Al Horford (Atl) 107,118; Ben Wallace (Clev) 89,809; Emeka Okafor (Char) 69,015; Zyrdrunas Ilgauskas (Cle) 60,970; Kendrick Perkins (Bos) 54,772; Brendan Haywood (Wash) 28,182.
|12.25.08 at 6:17 pm ET|
The Celtics couldn’t have stressed it any more, playing the Lakers was just another game. Now that they’ve snapped their historic winning streak, they have to do just as they would after any other game — move on. The Celtics didn’t dwell on 19 consecutive victories and they can’t dwell on one loss either. It’s time to look ahead to the remainder of their west coast road trip.
- Friday, December 26 @ Golden State Warriors (8-22)
- Sunday, December 28 @ Sacramento Kings (7-22)
- Tuesday, December 30 @ Portland Trail Blazers (18-11)
The Celtics will return to the Garden on Friday, January 2 against the Washington Wizards.
|12.24.08 at 10:01 am ET|
“If we had Andrew Bynum, it would have been different.”
He would have shut down Kendrick Perkins, who made Pau Gasol look soft. He would have stopped the Celtics from scoring 131 points in their Game Six victory. He would have helped the Lakers win it all … right?
Not so fast.
Eyes will be on Bynum and Perk on Christmas Day as the Lakers look to snap the Celtics 19-game winning streak, with many hoping Bynum will dominate Perkins and the Cs in the paint. Both big men went through struggles early in the season but Perk has demonstrated the maturity to overcome his setbacks while Bynum continues to be inconsistent.
Perkins was called for nine technical fouls by the first week in December. He looked like an emotional ticking time bomb on the court and was on pace to unseat Rasheed Wallace as the King of the Ts. But then something clicked. Perkins channeled his energy to his own game, focusing on his shot and protecting the glass. In the ten games since his last technical foul, he is shooting better than 60% from the field and averaging nearly 13 points and 10 rebounds. Last week Perkins posted 25 points and eight rebounds against the Chicago Bulls … without a single foul.
Whether it is the veteran leadership of the Big Three, the momentum of a historic winning streak, or simply the maturation process, Perkins has taken his game out of his head and onto the court. He is just as reliable at the start of the game as he is at the end in close situations. The same can’t be said for Bynum.
This season Bynum has found himself on the bench down the stretch, and he’s let everyone know he thinks he deserves more. Unlike the Celtics, who don’t get the nod until they’ve earned the minutes, Bynum wants more time to prove himself on the court. How did Phil Jackson respond? “When he shows the ability to play defense appropriately, he’ll probably be there,” Jackson said. It’s a clear message that hasn’t seemed to resonate.
On the night of Perkins’ season-high performance, Bynum was held to four points, six rebounds, and four fouls in a two-point loss to the Miami Heat. He followed up that game with just three points, one rebound, and five fouls in a loss to the Orlando Magic. Having a bad night against Dwight Howard is one thing, but four points against Joel Anthony? There’s no explanation for that when you’re supposed to be the savior of a championship contender. Even though his performance slightly improved in the past two games, which version of Bynum will show up against the Celtics?
“If we had Andrew Bynum, it would have been different.”
On Christmas Day the Celtics and Lakers will see just how different it could have been.
|12.24.08 at 6:52 am ET|
The Celtics threw a Christmas party for family and friends in their locker room following their 110-91 win over the 76ers Tuesday night at TD Banknorth Garden. They certainly had plenty to celebrate. In addition to the festive time of season, the Celtics family and friends cheered the fact that they are now owners of the longest winning streak in team history at 19 games. They also raised a toast to the team’s 27-2 start, the best 29-game opening to a season in NBA history. Up next, an NBA Finals rematch with the Lakers in Los Angeles on Christmas Day. To get there, they took a red-eye cross-country flight but before that, they took time to reflct on the record and look ahead to what should be a classic game on Christmas at Staples Center.
And be sure to read and hear what Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala said about the Celtics, their streak, trash-talking and a certain reference to a perfect regular season in the NFL that didn’t end in a title.