|12.04.08 at 12:30 am ET|
So, only 55 more wins until the Celtics set the all-time NBA record for wins in a season. That means the Celtics need to go 55-7 the rest of the way. Based on what we’ve seen so far this season, there’s no reason to think they can’t do it. The latest example came on Wednesday. As the Indiana Pacers showed of making a courageous run to stay in the game in the third quarter, Rajon Rondo reminded everyone that he just might be the MVP of the team, lighting it up for 16 points while handing out a career-best 17 assists. Just think, that’s MVP Rondo on the same team with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and vintage Ray Allen, who is tearing it up for the Green so far this season. Now you see why there are those who feel this team may be on the verge of something historic.
|12.04.08 at 12:02 am ET|
Roy Hibbert never played for the Boston Celtics, but with all of his ties to the organization he might as well have.
When the Celtics landed the fifth pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, all signs pointed to selecting the big man from Georgetown. Hibbert had already impressed Red Auerbach and seemed to have the size and potential to help the struggling Cs.
“Playing for John Thompson, [Red] used to come watch our practices at Georgetown for a number of years,” Hibbert said prior to Wednesday’s Boston Celtics-Indiana Pacers game. “He would talk to me after practice and talk to me about big man stuff, and him and Big John would relive some memories.”
Hibbert made an unexpected decision to return to Georgetown for his senior season and played alongside Doc Rivers‘ son, Jeremiah. That year Auerbach passed away. In the short time they talked, Auerbach left a lasting impression on him.
“It was nice because he’s such a nice person and he obviously knows the game really well,” Hibber said. “He’s coached a lot of great players so any time you get to soak up a minute of his time is always great. I went to his funeral and all his former players came. It was a special moment.”
When Hibbert entered the league in 2008, he was appropriately enough traded to Larry Bird‘s Indiana Pacers.
“I always grew up a Celtics fan, obviously of Larry,” Hibbert revealed. “Once you start playing it’s all business, no more admiring. You have to go at it every night and it’s all business so you have to take care of it.”
On Wednesday night the business at hand was tying to beat the Celtics for the second time this season. Hibbert couldn’t afford to be starstruck, even against one of his favorite basketball players.
“Paul (Pierce) [was my favorite] when I was in high school. I have one of his jerseys back home,” he said. “But it’s all business when we get out on the court. It’s nice to be able to play against the greatest players in the world right here.”
Pierce and the Celtics may have got the best of the Pacers, but simply being in the house that Red built was special for Hibbert. Auerbach’s signature scrawled across the court was a reminder of just how much it meant to know the man behind the organization.
“Obviously I’m going to have to work for everything I get but it was nice that he had confidence in me,” he said. “I have a long way to go but it nice that great folks like that would take the time to talk to me and see something in me.”
|12.03.08 at 11:45 pm ET|
A lot has changed about Tony Allen since he entered the NBA in 2005. From overcoming a gruesome knee injury to winning a championship with the Boston Celtics, Allen is far from the basketball player he was at Oklahoma State University. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t the same person.
“He was the exact same way,” said former college teammate and current Indiana Pacer Stephen Graham. “I don’t think he’s changed a bit.”
It has been over three years since Allen and Graham led the Cowboys to the NCAA Final Four. On Wednesday night they were pitted against each other when the Celtics defeated the Pacers. Graham laughed as he recalled Allen’s antics and was not surprised that he is one of the most animated characters on the Celtics.
“My first impression of him was that he was just a guy who didn’t want to be bothered by nobody. He was kind of quiet when he first came to school,” Graham recalled. “But when everybody loosened up, he was the guy who wanted to be in the main scene all the time. He’s pretty much like that now.”
Allen still keeps his teammates loose in the Celtics locker room. He can often be found cracking jokes or rapping loudly to one of his favorite artists.
“For some reason he thought he was Cam’ron,” Graham chuckled.
Allen’s role on the court is another story, though. He went from the spotlight to the bench and accepted his responsibilities as a role player. There is enough offense in the Celtics starting lineup that he doesn’t have to put the ball in the basket to be effective. Read the rest of this entry »
|12.03.08 at 9:31 pm ET|
Ray Allen is the best dresser on the Celtics. That is a fact can not be disputed. He is meticulous in his appearance, something he says he learned from Michael Jordan. If you are a star, you must present yourself accordingly.
It’s not easy to be GQ-ed out all the time (just ask any sportswriter). It takes more than a bit of care and attention to detail, as well as an innate sense of sartorial style. That’s important in the context of Allen as a basketball player in that he is just as particular about his shot.
As effortless and natural as it appears, Allen’s shot is actually the product of hours of practice. Honed under the withering eye of UConn coach Jim Calhoun, who used to start every practice with a pressure-packed free-throw shooting contest, and in his early days in the NBA in shooting drills with the largely forgotten Jeff Nordgaard where the two then-rookies would talk shooting concepts. (Nordgaard isn’t forgotten in Poland by the way, where he’s still lighting it up in the Polish League and has played for the national team there).
Allen’s shot abandoned him just once last year. That it came in the playoffs against Cleveland caused the basketball-watching public to wonder aloud if his magnificent career was in its final days. It’s not, of course, but it’s in keeping with his tenure with the Celtics that as brilliant as he has been, Allen has also largely been overlooked.
He was the leading scorer last night in their win over the Pacers with a season-high 31 points. He was the one who got them off to a quick start by knocking down three 3-pointers en route to 13 points in the first quarter. But on a night when Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins recorded double-doubles and Rajon Rondo earned the first triple-double of his career, Allen’s night went largely overlooked. Read the rest of this entry »
|12.03.08 at 9:24 pm ET|
The stat line will tell the story of Rajon Rondo‘s triple-double, Ray Allen‘s 31 points, and Kevin Garnett‘s 14 rebounds. But what it won’t show is the stifling defense Paul Pierce imposed on Danny Granger. Pierce held Granger to just six second half point (20 total) and shut down the Pacers leading scorer.
“Paul’s always been a good defensive player,” Granger said after the Pacers 114-96 loss. “KG’s a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year and I think that’s one of the things that makes this team good. They can score the ball but they also play good defense.”
Granger scored 14 points in the first half with the majority coming while Ray Allen was guarding him. The defensive switch worked for the Celtics and Granger finished the night shooting 7-for-15, including just one basket in the paint. Pierce’s tough defense combined with the Pacers’ exhaustion from Tuesday’s overtime win against the Lakers was too much for Granger to overcome.
“I just got a little tired,” he said. “It’s hard playing back to back games sometimes, especially when you fight so hard to win one game. You have lapses and your legs give out but that’s still no excuse. Everyone plays back to back games. You’ve just got find a way to find through. Tonight we couldn’t.”
|12.03.08 at 7:27 pm ET|
Entering the fourth quarter … Celtics 88, Pacers 73
- Rivers is leaving Pierce on the court with the second unit. The Celtics captain got hot toward the end of the third quarter but his real accomplishment tonight has been containing Danny Granger. The Pacers are going with all but one starter (Nesterovic) in hopes of staging a comeback. They did outscore the Lakers 32-16 in the fourth quarter last night.
- In between the time I typed this and hit save, Granger drained a pair of threes to put the Pacers within nine.
- A new character was dubbed in the Garden tonight. “Mr. Roboto” joins the ranks of Soulja Boy Jr. and the Jack Black Guy for his quirky robotic dance moves.
- Rondo’s back in the backcourt with Eddie House. Usually this would be a size disadvantage but the Pacers have TJ Ford and Jarrett Jack in. Maybe Rondo will get the standing O he deserves when he sits down this time.
- It has been 181 games since a Celtic recorded a triple-double. The last player to do so was Ryan Gomes. (He was selected 50th in the same draft as Granger.)
- The Pacers unloaded their bench with five minutes to go. Travis Diener and Stephen Graham (former Oklahoma State teammate of Tony Allen) have checked into the game. They were greeted by yet another dunk by KG.
- Gino Time. Celtics are up 16 and Patrick O’Bryant’s in the game. Garnett is standing alone to watch Gino but he has the rest of the Garden cheering with him.
- There’s the standing O Rondo deserves. He left the game with 16 points, 17 assists, and 13 rebounds. Someone in fantasy basketball land just had a monster night.
|12.03.08 at 6:54 pm ET|
Interesting half for the Celtics who put up 57 points on 48 percent shooting and had three players–Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett score in double figures. The only problem is that they allowed the Pacers to score 51, not exactly vintage Celtics D right there.
What will the second half have in store? Let’s take that journey together, shall we… Read the rest of this entry »