|01.07.09 at 6:42 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo can’t pinpoint exactly why the Boston Celtics have been struggling but he has a few ideas on how to get back on track. On Wednesday, the Cs point guard explained how he wanted to bounce back against the Houston Rockets:
Be up for the challenge: ‘Doc told us from the beginning that it’s going to be like that every night. We’d be a team’s Game 7, especially the Warriors, Charlotte, New York and they played extremely hard.’
Match the intensity: ‘We’re definitely getting every team’s best shot. Guys are playing extremely hard against us every time we play one particular team. So we’ve got to come out every night and it starts with defense. We have to talk more, communicate better, play better, and get it going on the offensive end as well.’
Want it more: ‘We just need to get down and dirty. We need to fight for loose balls, get out on hustle plays, win the hustle wars … Not the whole games but it seems like in key possessions they’re outhustling us.’
Remember Ubuntu: ‘We’ll stick together. This is a tough time for us right now but we’ve just got to handle the adversity and I’m sure we’ll bounce back from it.’
Build momentum for the road: ‘We’re just in a slump right now and we’ve got to find a way to get out of it. And it starts tonight. But we’ve got to carry it over when we go to Cleveland (on Friday).’
Stay confident: ‘Every game we go through right now, the tough times can only you stronger. Like they say, if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger. We’ll find a way.”
|01.07.09 at 6:16 pm ET|
HALFTIME WRAP: No T-Mac, no problem for the Rockets in the first half. The Celtics have been unable to stop Houston in the paint and find themselves down by three at the half. Perk has been virtually ineffective down low (0 points, 3 rebounds) and the Celtics will have to ramp up their defensive efforts to slow down Yao Ming, Ron Artest, and Aaron Brooks (37 points combined).
– Carl Landry’s future with the Rockets was in question this summer. After a lengthy negotiation Landry returned to Houston and is giving the Rockets a spark off the bench. He already has four points and four rebounds in 10 minutes.
– Doc’s going with a lineup we haven’t seen much of: House/Pruitt/Ray Allen/Garnett/Powe. Rivers said he only felt comfortable with Pruitt and House in the backcourt together if their were playing a smaller team.
– Here comes Scal. Whereas Pierce could battle all night with Artest, Scal high-fived him after fouling/practically landing on top of #96.
– All sorts of size mismatches on the court … 7’6 Yao vs. 6’8 Powe … 6’11 KG vs. 6’6 Hayes … even 6’1 Rondo vs. the no-way-is-he-really 6′ Brooks.
– Time for Celtics Karaoke on the JumboTron. Tonight it’s Ray Allen “singing” the theme song to “Cheers.” It’d be better if people didn’t know his name after that rendition.
– With two minutes to go, KG finally drew the first personal foul on Yao Ming. That should tell you something about the Celtics aggression down low. So far they’ve been outscored 20-10 in the paint.
– That’s something to think about as the Celtics enter halftime trailing 52-49.
|01.07.09 at 5:38 pm ET|
We are live from the Garden for tonight’s highly-anticipated matchup between the suddenly reeling Celtics and the banged-up Rockets. That’s not the NBA version of the promo, but this is a big game for both teams. The C’s, as we know, are reeling a bit. Losing three out of four on the West Coast and then dropping back-to-back games against the Knicks and Bobcats of all people, have put them on edge a bit.
Tony Allen is out again and might not be ready until next week. Kevin Garnett is also feeling the effects of just about everything. But that’s nothing compared to what the Rockets are going through. Tracy McGrady is not in the starting lineup and not expected to play, and Huston has dropped three in a row and six of its last eight.
So, what will it be? Which team will get itself right tonight? Let’s find out… Read the rest of this entry »
|01.07.09 at 5:13 pm ET|
Dikembe Mutombo wanted to play for the Boston Celtics. The problem is, he wasn’t sure how much the Celtics wanted him to play for them. Mutombo was on the list of rumored possible mid-season acquisitions and the big man was on board to play with the champs. But the Celtics weren’t ready to commit and Mutombo, 42, didn’t feel like waiting around any longer.
Prior to Tuesday’s Celtics-Rockets game, he explained why he went back to Houston on New Year’s Eve:
“In the last minutes, especially on the 24th and 25th, I was feeling like I was not the only one in the picture no more that they were looking at,” he said. “It kind of discouraged me a little bit. I said ok, I have about seven organizations here that want me and this organization that I want to go to, I thought they wanted me but they’re looking at somebody else. Should I be on the waiting list or should I just go take another offer that was there on the table? And I think by having a talk that night with Yao and T-Mac and calling me on the phone saying, please come on man. We want you here. I was like ok. Let me just go be with guys who are talking to me who want me to be part of their family than wait for the organization who are waiting on their decision making. I think they were in between. They were looking at, I heard about Alonzo (Mourning), then I heard about Joe Smith, then I heard about P.J. Brown. I was like ok, I’m not going to be in the middle of this. I just have to walk away the way I want to walk. I wanted to come to your cold city, but they did not want me.”
This is Mutombo’s 18th season in the NBA. He has a career average of 9.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
|01.07.09 at 10:54 am ET|
For two teams who have their own version of the “Big Three,” nothing about their play as been big lately. On Wednesday night the Boston Celtics (29-7) will take on the Houston Rockets (21-15) at the TD BankNorth Garden in a match up between a pair of talented but struggling teams. The Celtics are 2-5 since snapping their 19-game winning streak on Christmas Day while the Rockets have lost six of their last eight. What is the common denominator?
The Celtics have been outhustled on the defensive end during their recent skid. Their opponents have figured out how to slow down Rajon Rondo and the Cs have not matched that intensity. Getting outrebounded doesn’t help either.
‘Teams are way too comfortable when they go up against us now,’ Paul Pierce told the media after Tuesday’s loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. ‘We’re missing assignments. One person can mess up the whole five, so we all have to get back on the same page.”
As for the Rockets, they have allowed their opponents to shoot a league-high 50.8% from the field in the last five contests. They have also been outscored by an average of six points per game.
“For whatever reason, we’ve taken steps back on the defensive end,” Tracy McGrady told reporters. “In the past (defense) has been our make up, a great defensive team. No matter how bad we were struggling on the offensive end, we always seemed to play defense. The last week or two, it got away from us.”
One team will get back on track tonight while another will be left scratching their heads. The Celtics have the advantage with McGrady being sidelined by a knee injury, but recent losses to undermanned teams like the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers are proof you may not need your superstar to beat the Cs.
|01.07.09 at 7:34 am ET|
Former Boston Celtic training camp invitee Darius Miles is still searching for a home in the NBA. The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported Miles was waived by the Memphis Grizzlies following Tuesday’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The big man was scoreless in two games for the Griz after being signed to a non-guaranteed contract in December. The team had to decide by 5 p.m. today whether or not to guarantee his deal for the rest of the season. An injury to center Darko Milicic forced the team to keep their options open.
“I thought he did a good job,” Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace told the Appeal. “He was everything the people in Boston told us. He showed me he could come back and play. Unfortunately for Darius, when we had to injury to Darko it put us in a precarious situation with our big men.”
Miles was waived by the Celtics before the start of the regular season.
|01.06.09 at 9:45 pm ET|
The Boston Celtics knew there would be a target on their backs this season. But the threats sounded empty after winning 19 straight and blowing out their opponents in embarrassing fashion. Eventually, though, the rest of the league began to fight back. The Los Angeles Lakers were the first to take a stand. The Golden State Warriors followed suit and soon the Portland Trail Blazers, New York Knicks and Charlotte Bobcats wanted in. (CLICK HERE for a recap of Tuesday’s loss to the Bobcats.)
For every game the Celtics win, there is an opponent circling their next meeting. The problem is, the Celtics can’t mark every game as their biggest and defending their title is taking a toll on them. They are 2-5 since losing to the Lakers on Christmas Day and holes in the roster are being exposed. The once unstoppable Rajon Rondo has been contained by big men. The bench that was supposed to compensate for the loss of James Posey has blown numerous leads. Final minutes that used to be garbage time are now seconds of desperation.
December 25, 2008: Lakers 92, Celtics 83
The Celtics made the Lakers look soft last season during the NBA Finals. The Lakers got payback by snapping the Celtics’ 19-game winning streak on Christmas Day, challenging the Celtics to test them again for the title. Phil Jackson inspired other coaches to put their bigs on Rondo, which stifled the Cs soaring offense.
December 26, 2008: Warriors 99, Celtics 89
The Warriors kicked the Celtics while they were down and handed them their second consecutive loss of the season in Oakland. It was a rude awakening that offered a reminder that, no matter what kind of advantage the Celtics have on paper, stats can’t compensate for the motivation of their opponents.
December 30, 2008: Trail Blazers 91, Celtics 86
The Brandon Roy-less Trail Blazers forced the Celtics to make bad plays and dealt Boston its first loss in Portland in four years. The Celtics were outrebounded by 15 in a sloppy defensive effort.
January 4, 2009: Knicks 100, Celtics 88
Thirty points from Al Harrington served as a reminder to the Cs of what a deep bench can do for you. The Celtics were simply outhustled and there was no secret who wanted this win more.
January 6, 2009: Bobcats 114, Celtics 106 (OT)
The Celtics practically welcomed the Bobcats into the paint with open arms early on to jumpstart this loss. They forced far too many shots from long range (6-23 3PG) and did not hit enough from the line (22-30 FT). This game affirmed the concern that the Celtics have work to do.
As long as the Celtics wear the rings, they will also wear a target. It is an inevitable struggle they will have to overcome if they want to face the same curse next season.