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Now and Then: Breaking 18-Game Streaks

12.23.08 at 9:44 pm ET
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On February 14, 2007, the Boston Celtics blew out to the Milwaukee Bucks to end an abysmal 18-game losing streak that devastated the organization. On December 23, 2008, they blew out the Philadelphia 76ers to break the franchise record of 18 consecutive games and capture their 19th straight win. They are two 18-game streaks with very different results.

2006-2007 Losing Streak
How it all began: Paul Pierce injured his foot as the Celtics lost 96-95 to the Golden State Warriors on December 20, 2006.

Biggest heartbreaker: 93-89 loss to the San Antonio Spurs

Paul Pierce then: Pierce was sidelined for 35 games and described the losing streak as ‘€œwatching his little brothers get beat up.’€ His 25.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.1 assists were not enough to overcome a 24-58 record.

Doc Rivers then: On the hotseat the entire season, fans chanted ‘€œFire Doc’€ and were outraged that he didn’t get the boot.

Emerging leader: Al Jefferson
After Paul Pierce and Tony Allen went down with injuries, Jefferson emerged as one of the most promising big men in the league. That season Big Al averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds, a performance good enough to become the centerpiece of the Kevin Garnett trade.

2008-2009 Winning Streak
How it all began: The Celtics beat the Bucks 102-97 in overtime on November 15, 2008.

Biggest blowout: 102-78 win over the Philadelphia 76ers

Paul Pierce now: ‘€œHas any Boston Celtics team ever lost 18 in a row? I’ve done that,’€ he asked with a chuckle. Pierce can laugh at the 2007 season now that he is the reigning NBA Finals MVP and his 18.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists are enough to keep the Celtics atop the standings.

Doc Rivers now: After leading his team to a championship, Rivers became the third coach to ever win three consecutive Eastern Conference Coach of the Month honors.

Emerging Leader: Rajon Rondo
So much for the Big Three. Rondo has not only emerged as the spark plug of the Celtics but one of the most versatile point guards in the NBA. Whether he’s lobbing it to KG, driving to the lane, or knocking down an improved jumpshot, his triple-double was a sign of things to come.

The Celtics will look to continue their winning streak against the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day.

Celtics-Sixers Post-Mortem

12.23.08 at 9:29 pm ET
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What do you get for winning 19 straight games? Do you get a car, Paul Pierce asked. No, you don’t get a car, but you do get a place in the Celtics record book as the team with the longest winning streak in the history of the franchise, and that will have to suffice because for the 19th straight game everyone dismissed the streak as a happy accident of a team trying to get better.

OK, so what can we take from last night’s 110-91 win over Philly?

1. The bench, make that the much-maligned bench, was terrific. Doc Rivers credited the second unit with changing the energy in the second quarter, and it’s worth noting that Rivers played five reserves at once with Gabe Pruitt getting some action with Brian Scalabrine in addition to the usuals: Leon Powe, Eddie House and Tony Allen.

In the fourth quarter, the bench expanded the lead and allowed Rivers to keep the starters off the floor for the duration. Powe was a monster with 15 points and 10 rebounds and House knocked down three 3-pointers. Pruitt also had a sweet dish to Powe and got into it with 6-10 rookie Marreese Speights.

2. Kevin Garnett took 13 shots, which is about right for him. But here’s the interesting part. Those 13 shots were the highest individual total on the team. Rajon Rondo took 12, Pierce and House took 11 shots. When the Celtics are the balanced they are also very efficient. See Ray Allen who scored 16 points on just eight shots.

On Friday, they had 40 assists against Chicago. On Sunday they had 33 against the Knicks. Last night they had 27 assists on 37 made shots. High school teams in Indiana in the 1950’s don’t share the ball that well.

3. One reason why the Celtics aren’t throwing themselves a party for their winning streak is the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs knocked off the Rockets last night and now stand at 24-4. To put it another way the Cavs are just 2.5 games behind the Celtics in the race for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

The Celtics believe homecourt advantage was the single biggest reason they won the championship last year and they are determined to have it again this year. Compare that to the attitude of the Pistons the last five years, which was: We know how to win in April, May and June so who cares about December?

And when they got to May and June they suddenly forgot how to win.

4. Remember when the Celtics couldn’t shoot free throws? They were 29-for-34 last night and they have raised their percentage above 75 percent.

5. This was not a vintage defensive performance by the Celtics. Philly shot 48 percent from the floor, but even then the Celtics defense is good enough to completely take things away. Witness the 3-point arc, where the Sixers launched 11 shots and made exactly zero shots. That doesn’t get you a car either.

Sure they’re great but…

12.23.08 at 8:57 pm ET
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Call it sour grapes, call it frustration or just simple truth but Philadelphia 76ers star Andre Iguodala is of the belief that the Celtics talk too much on the court. Following Boston’s 110-91 beat down of the Sixers on Tuesday night for their new franchise-best 19th straight win and an NBA best-ever 27-2 start, the OTHER ‘AI’ had this to say about the Green and what they say on the court and if they Celtics are peaking too soon.

“I think teams would hope that but 27-2, you can’t knock that. It is what it is,” he began. “They’re playing good ball, no matter if they’re peaking or not. They just won the title and I’m sure they want to play to perfection and just try to keep it going the whole way. Similar to the Patriots, they were undefeated and they lost in the (Super Bowl). I’m sure they’re aware of that and want to keep it going the whole year.

“Everybody knows they won a championship and everybody knows they are a great team,” he continued. “They’ve got great players in Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, those guys go out there and play hard. But they try to go overboard with it sometimes. I think it takes away from actually how good a team they are, it takes away from the respect factor. Teams don’t respect them as much because of that.”

As for other teams in the NBA and whether they’re intimidated by the Celtics.

“I think they’re a good team but I don’t think they have that intimidation factor like the Detroit teams had those years when they were going to the Finals every year,” Iguodala said. “I think people respect them in as far as they’re a good team and they play great defensively but they have a lot of trash talkers out there so that kind of takes away from them sometimes.

“As a basketball group, they do a great job of executing and do a good job of sticking to their game plan.”

The two teams meet again on Feb. 3 in Philly.

Read More: Andre Iguodala, Boston Celtics, New England Patriots undefeated, Philadelphia 76ers

Celtics-Sixers Game Blog: Fourth Quarter

12.23.08 at 7:30 pm ET
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At the start of the fourth … Celtics 78, Sixers 66

– Speights vs. Scal … dum dum dum. Speights was ejected back in November for commiting a flagrant foul on Scal. Let’s see if they can keep their hands to themselves tonight.

– Lou Williams vs. Eddie House … another good match up. Both are feisty guards, but House has the long-range advantage.

– The Garden just erupted for the announcement of the Bruins sixth consecutive win. A fan proudly flashed a Patrice Bergeron jersey, who like Big Baby suffered a concussion.

– It’s garbage time right now with the Celtics up by 20+. Scal, House, and Pruitt are tossing up threes while both teams are resting their starters.

– Both teams have hit 32 field goals and the 76ers are actually shooting better from the field (50% FG). Behind the arc, though, the Celtics are 4/10 while the Sixers are 0/9. The Cs are also beating them up on the boards even though Dalembert has finally decided to start rebounding.

– A “Beat LA” chant has started. It’s getting louder … and louder … and louder.

– Gino Time. The Cs are up 104-86 and KG is pointing to Gino like he’s never seen him before. Ray Allen added a shoulder shimmy.

- Game over. Celtics 110-91. The Celtics broke a franchise record set by the 1981-82 team with their 19th consecutive victory.

Celtics-Sixers Game Blog: Third Quarter

12.23.08 at 7:00 pm ET
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You get the feeling the Celtics are just toying with Philly tonight? They had a nice little nine-point lead, the Sixers came back and tied it and now it’s back up to 14 points. Know this: Getting on a cross-country flight on Christmas Eve would be a king-hell bummer for the C’s, to quote Hunter S. Thompson.

Onward… Read the rest of this entry »

Celtics-Sixers Game Blog: Second Quarter

12.23.08 at 6:12 pm ET
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At the start of the second quarter … Celtics 29, Sixers 25

Junior Seau is here. No one has tackled him … yet. Ben Watson is also in the building.

– Early minutes for Gabe Pruitt. He checked in at 10:48. Makes sense to use Pruitt’s speed and explosiveness against the 76ers, who have been able to get out and run without Brand. The second unit’s getting an early look: Pruitt, Leon Powe, Tony Allen, Scal, and Eddie House.

– The 76ers are cringing at every blow of the whistle. First Andre Miller looked stunned when called for fouling Rondo, then Reggie Evans and Lou Williams looked perplexed by a offensive foul call on Evans. The Celtics are 8/8 from the line.

– Airball on a Reggie Evans free throw and it’s not the first time it happened here either. From November 28: The Celtics came out swinging with a 10-0 lead to kick off the quarter. Reggie Evans only added fuel to their fire by airballing a free throw.

– During a timeout Celtics President Rich Gotham and legend JoJo White presented former Celtics ball boy James Tolland with his 2008 championship ring. Tolland, who worked for the Celtics during their title run, will be deployed to Iraq in the coming months.

– Is this the Slam Dunk Contest? Iguodala is showing off his stuff with two emphatic jams in the quarter.

– The dunks didn’t look so impressive after Rondo drove through the Sixers for two reverse lay-ins.

– Paging Samuel Dalembert: Doing something, anything, in the paint. Dalembert is scoreless and has only four rebounds. He let Rondo, who is at least a foot shorter than him, make his way to the hoop without putting up a fight.

- At the half … Celtics 58, Sixers 44

Celtics-Sixers Game Blog: First Quarter

12.23.08 at 5:28 pm ET
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We are live from the Garden where the word for tonight is “distractions.” Several of the Celtics were late arriving to the building, although they are all present and accounted for. Immediately after tonight’s game the team will head to the airport for a cross-country flight for a Christmas Day game with the Lakers you may be aware of.

Distractions? This team? “It’s tough,” Doc Rivers said. “Let’s be honest. That game has been built up since the season started.” Wow. A bit of candor from the coach.

But the Sixers had their own issues. Their bus from their downtown hotel took well over an hour to arrive and by 6:30 there were a sizable portion of ballers somewhere on the streets of Boston (Should have taken the MBTA, guys). But arrive they did.

So, what will it be tonight? Will it be 19 in a row? Will the Sixers continue their improved play under Tony DiLeo? Will people start booing Mark Teixeira, just because? Those answers and more tonight… Read the rest of this entry »

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