|03.15.10 at 11:22 pm ET|
One year ago Monday, then-Milwaukee forward Charlie Villanueva entered the locker room during halftime of the Bucks-Celtics game. He logged into Twitter and posted the following tweet:
@CV31: In da locker room, snuck to post my twitt. We’re playing the Celtics, tie ball game at da half. Coach wants more toughness. I gotta step up.
Those hundred-something characters opened the virtual book on social networking in the NBA. His midgame tweet was frowned upon, and it created a ripple effect: Before the start of this season, a league-wide policy was enacted. Among its guidelines included the restriction of cell phones and other communication devices 45 minutes before the game and prohibited it during halftime.
A year later, Villanueva, now a member of the Pistons, is still surprised by the impact.
‘It’s funny, because Twitter wasn’t really that big of a deal, like nobody really knew too much about it,’ he told WEEI.com following Monday’s Pistons-Celtics game. ‘I didn’t know it was going to get that much attention. I just did it, fun for the fans and whatnot, and the next day it just blew up. The media just took it and ran with it.
“Obviously I didn’t mean for it to get that much attention, but hey, it put my name out there even more,’ he added with a laugh.
As of Monday night, Villanueva had 73,685 followers. It is a huge jump from his following a year ago. In an instant, he went from a Twitter novice to one of the early faces of social media in the NBA.
‘It was crazy because I had just started, too,’ he said. ‘I probably had like 2,000 followers at first. It was probably a couple of months old, two or three months old, my account. After that, it rose to like 13,000 in two or three days. It was ridiculous. Ever since, it’s just been picking up.’
Villanueva has turned a potential negative into a positive by taking advantage of the benefits of social networking. He has raised awareness for charitable organizations, held contests for his followers to win game tickets, and spread well wishes to friends and fans alike.
‘There are a lot of opportunities,’ he explained. ‘You get to meet a lot of people. It’s very important for networking, just opportunities come abound, appearances, they can just work directly with you instead of going through a third party.’
Twitter has become the norm for many NBA players. On the Celtics, Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) has over 1.5 million followers, Ray Allen (@greenRAYn20) has nearly 25,000, and Shelden Williams (@SheldenWilliams) is a frequent tweeter with over 10,000 followers.
Now a seasoned vet, Villanueva has some advice for his fellow NBA athletes who are starting out in the world of social networking.
‘What the fans want to see is you being straight up and interacting with them as well,’ he suggested. ‘Showing pictures as well, they want to see what’s going on, what an NBA player does on a day-to-day basis.’
Tweeting has become something Villanueva does on a day-to-day basis. Except during halftime, of course.
|03.15.10 at 9:42 pm ET|
No one on the Celtics scored more than 15 points yet they beat the Pistons by 26, 119-93, on Monday in Boston.
The victory was a total team effort, the kind of win the Celtics needed after their leadership had been critiqued. Ray Allen said the team has “a bunch of leaders,” and showed up on Monday. Every player on the C’s scored.
Allen, Michael Finley, and Paul Pierce scored 15 points apiece; Kevin Garnett scored 14; Glen Davis contributed 13; and Kendrick Perkins and Marquis Daniels each added 11. (Rajon Rondo scored just three points and dished six assists.) The Celtics shot 62.2 percent from the field, 0.1 percent away from their season high.
Player of the Game: Finley was the spark plug off the bench the Celtics have needed. He started off shooting a perfect 3-for-3 and finished the game 6-for-7 from the field and 3-for-4 from behind the arc. Finley’s 15 was the most he has scored since October 20, 2009 when he posted 20 against the Thunder in preseason action.
Turning Point: After being tied 6-6 five minutes into the game, the Celtics went on a 14-3 run early in the first quarter. They got up by as many as 18 early on and never gave up their lead.
– Tayshaun Prince left the game with 4:53 remaining in the third after hitting his lower back against Jason Maxiell’s knee while fighting for a rebound. A timeout was called as Prince lay on the court and received medical attention. He was eventually helped off by the Pistons staff and did not return to the game.
– Before the game, Doc Rivers affirmed that he is not giving up on the Celtics. ‘I don’t care how frustrating it gets for me,’ he said. ‘I see it, and if you see it or not, I see it and I’m going to get it out of you. And that’s what I told them after the game [Sunday]. I don’t know how but I will get it out of you.’ Rivers also pointed out Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels and said both players could be more productive. Wallace posted 8 points and 4 rebounds; Daniels contributed 11 points and 5 boards.
– Tony Allen set Nate Robinson up for an alley-oop dunk off the backboard with 43.5 seconds left. Despite drawing a standing O from the crowd, Robinson was called for a technical for hanging on the rim.
|03.15.10 at 9:08 pm ET|
The Pistons outscored the Celtics, 33-25, in the third quarter, but the C’s are still holding on a commanding lead heading into the fourth. They are up 89-70 after three.
The Celtics are shooting an impressive 55.9 percent from the field. However, they let the Pistons shoot 12-for-17 in the quarter. Jonas Jerebko was on a mission to get his back in the game. He scored all of his 10 points in the third, many coming at the basket. Kevin Garnett scored eight for the Celtics.
Kendrick Perkins was called for a technical foul. It was his 14th of the season and second of the month.
|03.15.10 at 8:15 pm ET|
So far so good for the Celtics through 24 minutes. They have a 64-35 lead and it feels like much more.
Paul Pierce has 12 points and Ray Allen has 11, but this is one instance when it’s not individual efforts that are carrying the Celtics, it’s the collective team. Cliche though it may be, that’s the case at the Garden tonight. The C’s are shooting 55 percent and have only one turnover. Detroit is shooting 34 percent and has 11.
|03.15.10 at 7:39 pm ET|
The Celtics came into their game with the Pistons in desperate need of a fast start and they got it behind 12 points from Paul Pierce en route to a 31-15 lead. The Celtics shot 52 percent and held Detroit to 6-for-18 shooting.
Things went from bad to worse for Detroit. Already without Rodney Stuckey who was involved in a scary incident in Cleveland on March 5 when he collapsed during a game with the Cavs and was taken to the hospital, the Pistons saw Tayshaun Prince go down when he appeared to collide with teammate Jason Maxiell.
Prince was on the floor throughout a timeout and was helped off the floor by trainers. Stuckey hasn’t played since his collapse and Ben Wallace was also out for Detroit.
|03.15.10 at 7:14 pm ET|
Ray Allen says the Celtics don’t come down to one or two individuals. They are not led by a single player, he notes. Never have been nor do they plan on becoming so.
‘The same as it’s always been,’ he said prior to the Celtics – Pistons game on Monday. ‘We’ve got a bunch of leaders on this team.’
‘I think maybe a different guy gotta try to step up and be a leader,’ reported the Boston Globe. ‘I think sometimes you try to feed off your All-Stars, but maybe somebody else gotta step up. I’m talking about leading by example. One spark or positive energy on the court and guys tend to feed off that. Maybe it’s gotta be me, Rondo, ‘Sheed, somebody.’’
A day later, Doc Rivers echoed the notion of players needing to step up. He believes his players have it in them, it is just a matter of putting it out there on the court. He pointed out Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels specifically as two players the Celtics need better production from.
“I don’t care how frustrating it gets for me,” Rivers said before Monday’s game. “I see it, and if you see it or not, I see it and I’m going to get it out of you. And that’s what I told them after the game [Sunday]. I don’t know how but I will get it out of you.”
|03.15.10 at 6:39 pm ET|
Peppered with questions about his team’s effort in the final five minutes of Sunday’s double-digit loss in Cleveland, Doc Rivers said he is going to find a way to get better results from his team.
“I don’t care how frustrating it gets for me,” Rivers said before Monday’s game with Detroit. “I see it, and if you see it or not, I see it and I’m going to get it out of you. And that’s what I told them after the game [Sunday]. I don’t know how but I will get it out of you.”
The Celtics were tied with the Cavs at 68 on Sunday before the roof caved in.
“I never mentioned that we didn’t have effort,” Rivers said. “I looked at it, there’s four minutes left in the third quarter, it’s a tie score. So at least at that point, we still had effort. We didn’t sustain our play. We missed a lot of open shots. I don’t think it had a lot to do with effort [Sunday]. I thought the last five minutes did [have to do with effort], when we were down 16 and you could see us giving in.”
“I think it’s an easy thing now when we don’t win, it was effort.”
To Rivers, the story wasn’t the lack of fight the team appeared to show in the final five minutes but how they got there.
“I’m not as worried about that as I am why we got down 16,” the coach said. “I was more concerned with that. They came with a great spirit and wanted to win the game. They had a chance to win the game. Then when it slipped away in their minds, they were disappointed. To me, that’s a human reaction. I can live with that.”
Rivers said the swagger against teams will come back to the Celtics only by results on the court.
“I said, ‘You’ve got to earn for people be afraid of you.’ The first half of the year we did earn that,” Rivers said. “Then I think everybody conveniently forgets the second-half of the year. When we were [23-5], we were completely healthy. We had injuries, we struggled and now we’re trying to get it back.
“It didn’t just go away because the healthy group stop playing, it went away for a good reason. What we’ve failed to do is put it back together yet, and that’s what we’re working on.”
Ultimately – and appropriately with Boston trying to dry out from drenching rains – Rivers is taking a glass half-full approach.
“In some ways, it’s very enjoyable,” Rivers said of this year’s challenge. “I know that sounds crazy. It’s a group where you’ve had to get your hands dirty. Really, you’ve had to dive into this group, push buttons, get on different guys you’d never thought you’d have to. In some ways, that has been very difficult but in some ways, it has been a joyous challenge. This is a very challenging year. I’m excited by it, in a crazy way I am. If you get it right, it will be an unbelievable feeling at the end.”
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