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Celtics-Bulls Game Blog: Second Quarter

12.19.08 at 6:10 pm ET
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Hey, look who’s back. Jess is out of town on business–yes we do have day jobs–so I will be your host all night. Let’s skip the formalities and get on with it, shall we? Read the rest of this entry »

Celtics-Bulls Game Blog: First Quarter

12.19.08 at 5:34 pm ET
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We are live from the snowbound Garden for tonight’s game between the Celtics and Bulls. The C’s made some unusual travel plans in preparation for the snow with several of the players staying at a local hotel. Ray Allen, for one, arrived an hour and a half earlier than normal. But all are present and accounted for as they go in search of their 16th 17th win in a row.

This one has all the classic makings of a trap game. With an emotional game on Wednesday in Atlanta, what figures to be a smaller-than-normal crowd and the weather affecting the player’s routines, this one could be more dangerous than it first appears. Of course, the Celtics have seemed particularly immune to traps this season.

So, will it be Sweet 16 17 for the C’s? Will it be upset city for the Bulls? Will the crowd top 10,000? Those answers and more tonight… Read the rest of this entry »

This Week in Celtic History

12.16.08 at 10:53 pm ET
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This week the Boston Celtics tied the NBA record for best start through 25 games. The mark was reached during a week rich with Celtics history:

December 17, 1996
Red Auerbach was named one of the Top Ten Coaches in NBA History as part of the league’s 50th anniversary season. Auberach was honored with Chuck Daly, Bill Fitch, Red Holzman, Phil Jackson, John Kundla, Don Nelson, Jack Ramsay, Pat Riley and Lenny Wilkens.

December 19, 1956
Bill Russell signed his first contract with the Boston Celtics. It was a one-year deal worth $19,5000.

December 22, 1949
Boston Celtic Tony Lavelli showed off his accordion skills during halftime of the Celtics-Minneapolis Lakers game. The NBA paid Lavelli $125 per performance to entertain crowds at more than 20 games around the league.

December 22, 1956
Bill Russell made his debut as a Celtic in the Boston Garden. He posted six points and 16 rebonds in the Celtics 95-93 victory over the St. Louis Hawks.

December 22, 1962
The 1,000,000th NBA point was scored during one of three games, including the Boston Celtics-New York Knicks match up.

Also on this date …
The Boston Celtics will take on the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, 12 years to the day after the Hawks set an NBA record for three-point field goals. They hit 19 treys, which has since been topped, in a convincing win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Sounds of the Game… Celtics 100, Jazz 91

12.16.08 at 8:39 am ET
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The Green Machine rolled to their 15th straight win thanks to another All-Star-worthy performance from point guard Rajon Rondo. He poured in a career-high 25 points and was just a rebound and two assists shy of another triple-double. He also had the move of the night late in the fourth quarter when he drove to the basket, got turned around and threw threw the ball over his head. The ball banked off the glass and came down, sending the sellout crowd into a frenzy and sealing Boston’s 23rd win in 25 tries. The Celtics matched the NBA’s all-time best 25-game start. All three previous teams to start 23-2 have won the NBA championship. The last time the Celtics won 15 straight was during their franchise-record 18-game run in the 1981-82 season. Next up, the Atlanta Hawks on the road Wednesday night at Philips Arena.

Doc Rivers on the amazing Rajon Rondo and how ‘English’ on the ball helps his shot – sometimes.

Rivers said Rondo’s speed was the difference Monday because the Jazz didn’t guard him aggressively.

Rondo said he just tried to stay aggressive.

Rondo expects a battle from Atlanta Wednesday night.

Paul Pierce said Rondo is All-Star worthy.

Pierce expects playoff atmosphere Wednesday in the ATL.

Kevin Garnett gave it up for Rondo’s driving layup.

Utah coach Jerry Sloan said the Celtics let his team back in the game but his players were scared.

Read More: Boston Celtics, jerry sloan, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce

Phelps Makes a Splash with Celtics

12.15.08 at 9:42 pm ET
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There was a ruckus coming from the trainers room following the Boston Celtics 100-91 win over the Utah Jazz. They weren’t celebrating their win but rather their special guest, U.S. Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps.

“B-More!” Kevin Garnett screamed out of the trainers room.

Sam Cassell rushed in to see the fellow Baltimore native Phelps, who grew up north of Cassell in the suburb of Rodgers Forge. Cassell had met Phelps after his first Olympic run in 2000.

“It’s good, a guy from the suburbs accomplished so much,” Cassell said. “He’s cool, he’s cool. He’s from the suburbs but he does everything a city guy does.”

So who has to fend off more fans in Baltimore? The swimmer or the point guard?

“It depends on which neighborhood we’re in. In my neighborhood they’d attack me because they know who I am. They might not know who he is,” Cassell replied with a laugh.

The prolific swimmer was ushered into the Celtics locker room by an entourage of security and Jared Fogle, with whom he is promoting Subway.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Michael Phelps, Sam Cassell

MIP: Most Indispensable Player

12.15.08 at 9:38 pm ET
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Paul Pierce had been knocked down, kneed, elbowed and the recipient of more than one collision already when his knee banged into Mehmet Okur. It was his left knee, not the one he injured against the Lakers in the Finals, and it was straight, as in prone for a devastating knee injury.

Pierce was able to bend his knee a bit before Okur went crashing into him, and he avoided disaster. But it still hurt like hell, and when he went down the Garden was deathly quiet. His teammates left the bench en masse to check on Pierce and Big Baby Davis and Leon Powe had to help him get back to the locker room.

The crowd chanted M-V-P as Pierce made his way off the court, but they should have been chanting M-I-P as in, Most Indispensable Player.

“It’s a little tender,” Pierce said after his club dispatched the Jazz, 100-91. “The knee kind of buckled. It should be all right.”

That’s good news, obviously, for the Celtics, because if there’s one player on the roster they can’t afford to lose, it’s Pierce.

That’s a funny statement to make when you look at what Rajon Rondo has done this year–and he turned in another gem against Deron Williams–and when you consider that Kevin Garnett is well, Kevin Garnett. But behind Pierce on the small forward depth chart is Tony Allen, who is not, in fact, a small forward, and Brian Scalabrine, who is a perfect 10th Man, but not exactly the guy you want knocking heads with Ron Artest or LeBron James for 38 minutes a night.

It’s also funny when you look at Pierce’s shooting numbers. Simply put, Pierce has not shot the ball well this season. His field goal percentage has hovered around 40 percent, the lowest of his career, and his 3-point shooting is a tick off (35 percent) his career average of 36 percent.

But Pierce is indispensable because he has become a player who can be great even when he’s not scoring at a high level. Take the simple act of making free throws, for instance, where he is shooting 84 percent. Pierce is getting to the line at a higher rate than he did last year, which is helping him keep his scoring average at around 18 a game.

That’s important because while his shot hasn’t been falling at his normal rate, he is shooting less and turning it over less than his career averages, proof that he is not forcing the issue in an effort to get himself going. Even more than last year, Pierce has been content to take his offense as it comes and let others, particularly Ray Allen, have the scoring glory.

Even when he is on the floor with the four mainstays off the bench, Pierce hasn’t imposed his strong personality on the proceedings. Before his knee scare, Pierce had logged 43 minutes and taken just 13 shots, none of them 3-pointers. Think about that for a second and let it roll around in your head. He remains the Celtics’ best one-on-one option. The guy you want to have the ball in his hands when the game is on the line–as he proved against Toronto and Atlanta back in early November. Yet he is perfectly comfortable to not be The Man.

As great as Garnett is, Pierce’s willingness to defer to others, and take the reins when necessary, are the principal reasons the Celtics have worked offensively.

Then there’s the defense.

Oct. 28 LeBron James: 9-for-21, 22 points

Nov. 4 Ron Arrest: 3-for-16, 15 points

Nov. 14 Carmelo Anthony: 8-for-19, 18 points

Dec. 12: Peja Stojakovic: 1-for-6, 2 points

Nov. 1, Dec. 3, Dec. 7 Danny Granger: 21-for-55

There are all kinds of ways to measure toughness, particularly on the defensive end. Garnett is intimidating. Kendrick Perkins is, to coin a phrase, a beast. But Pierce gives the Celtics an edge, a street-tough nastiness that doesn’t back down.

This was Utah coach Jerry Sloan, one of the toughest SOB’s the NBA has ever seen, after last night’s game:

“It looked like we were scared to play against them to start the ballgame. Looked like we wanted to play out on the perimeter and take jump shots. They’re awfully hard to get the ball inside on, because they’re an excellent defensive team and they knock you around a bit. Our guys wanted to stay outside because I think they were afraid they’d get hurt. They had us intimidated a great deal and had us out on the perimeter.”

When Jerry Sloan says that his team was intimidated you have to take note.

People might not like the comparison, but the Celtics are an awful lot like the Detroit Pistons of the late 80′s, swaggering, intimidating and defense-first. They beat you up and then they tell you about it. All that went away for the Pistons when they traded Rick Mahorn, who was legitimately scary as hell. The Celtics have more than their share of tough guys, but Pierce is the one no one outside of Quentin Richardson wants to mess with.

He has been the Captain for a long time now, but this is truly his team now. The Celtics are in his image: tough, intimidating and just a little bit dangerous.

Read More: Celtics, jazz, jerry sloan, mehmet okur

Celtics-Jazz Game Blog: Fourth Quarter

12.15.08 at 7:30 pm ET
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Click here for Paul’s third quarter recap.

The final 12 minutes are going to be physical. Tony Allen is taking it hard to the basket and Andrei Kirilenko and Matt Harpring aren’t letting him get there easily. Leon Powe got whistled for a controversial moving block and the Garden is not happy about this one.

- As we reported earlier, Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps arrived at the Garden at halftime. During the fourth quarter he made an appearance with Jared Fogle (aka: The Subway Guy) to promote his recent endorsement with Subway.

- Gabe Pruitt’s back in and showing no hesitation on the long-range shot. After he drained a three a fan near me said, “I like this Pruitt kid.” Could he become this season’s Leon Powe? He got a standing O when he left the game.

- Kevin Garnett needs the fans to feel it, at least that’s what he said on the Jumbotron. KG is feeling it with a seven point lead heading into the final five. The starters are back in and all are in double digits tonight.

- Rondo and Williams are engaged in a battle of daring shots.

- After this game P.J. Brown isn’t the only Louisiana Tech alum the Celtics will remember. Paul Millsap has been the offensive spark for the Jazz and will finish as the game’s leading scorer barring a freakish offensive spree.

- Paul Pierce left the game with less than a minute left after a collision under the basket. Pierce grabbed his knee and was helped off the court by Glen Davis and Leon Powe.

- Game over. Celtics 100, Jazz 91. Recap here.

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