|11.30.08 at 10:01 pm ET|
On Monday night the Boston Celtics (16-2) will take on the Orlando Magic (13-4) at the TD BankNorth Garden. The presence of Dwight Howard makes the Magic an Eastern Conference contender but, despite successful regular season records, Superman hasn’t been able to carry his team to the Eastern Conference Finals. After last season, the road to the championship goes through Boston and the Magic surely know it. Monday’s game could be a preview of a future postseason battle.
In the Last Five Games …
The Celtics enter this game on an eight-game winning streak while the Magic have won their last four. Both teams have been running up the scoreboard in the last five games. The Celtics have averaged 104.6 points while winning by an average 13.8 points; the Magic have averaging 102.8 ppg while winning by a less impressive 6.6 ppg. They have been nearly identical on the glass. Even though Howard leads the league in blocks, the Celtics have the slight advantage as of late. The Cs have also held their opponents to less than 18 assists per game, a troubling stat for the Magic who have been playing without point guard Jameer Nelson.
Dwight Howard looks to bring his show-stopping antics to Boston and dominate his way through the paint. Howard (21.8 ppg, 13.9 rpg, 3.9 bpg) will be a challenging match up for the foul-prone Kendrick Perkins. The only silver lining for the Celtics is Howard’s inconsistency at the free throw line (57.3% FT). He shot 21-42 in three games against the Cs last season.
All Banged Up
While this game could be a playoff preview, it will be without a handful of key players. The Magic’s Jameer Nelson (hip), Mickael Pietrus (thumb), and Keith Bogans (thumb) suffered early-season injuries. This leaves holes at the point guard spot, on the wing, and on the bench. The Celtics should expect to see more of shooting guards J.J. Redick and Courtney Lee. Veteran PG Anthony Johnson has been starting in place of Nelson and will try to contain the streaking Rajon Rondo. These injuries are depleting the Magic reserves and creating a daunting task to stop the Celtics deep bench.
In the past five games the Magic have held their opponents to a staggering 28% from three-point range. Their biggest challenge will be stopping Ray Allen, who is shooting 56% from downtown during that same stretch. On the contrary, Paul Pierce is shooting just 15.4%. Ironically Allen’s former teammate, forward Rashard Lewis, has the hot hand for the Magic (47.2% 3PG last five games). There’s also no telling if one time NCAA-phenom J.J. Redick will find his groove.
Check in with the WEEI Celtics Game Day Blog for all the latest from the Celtics-Magic match up.
|11.28.08 at 11:48 pm ET|
When Paul Pierce scores a season-low six points on 1-of-6 shooting and you still build a 30-point fourth quarter lead, you know you’re a pretty good team. The Boston Celtics, however, may be much, much more than just a pretty good team. They may be in the middle of a season that could better last season’s 66-win world championship run. The Celtics toyed with a Philadelphia 76ers team that showed off six-year, $80 million free agent Elton Brand for the first time. He was of little use to the Sixers since Philly showed it was completely incapable of solving Boston’s swarming defense. The final result, Boston won, 102-78, improving to 15-2 and expanding their lead to an amazing six games in the Atlantic Division.
|11.28.08 at 11:39 pm ET|
Their World Championship put them in the company of Bill Russell and Larry Bird. Now their NBA title has ranked them alongside President-Elect Barack Obama, Sean Penn, and Michael Phelps.
The Boston Celtics were honored by GQ Magazine as Men of the Year: The Athletes, Actors, and Newsmakers who Blew our Minds in ’08. The issue, which is on newsstands now, features a photo of Doc Rivers and the starting five at HealthPoint training facility in Waltham. Four of the 17 championship banners hang behind them.
Celtics great JoJo White writes for the magazine:
“It had been twenty-two years since we last reached that pinnacle. Twenty-two long, long years between NBA Championships … So when we got Ray Allen to pair with Paul Pierce in the off-season, you thought, Well, that’s good. He’s always been a heck of a shooter. But when we got Garnett on top of Paul and Ray? You knew something special could happen. But it had to happen because of defense. The truth of the matter is that the Celtics always won because of defense. You don’t get seventeen championships by accident.
“As for beating the Lakers in the finals? That’s sweet. That’s always sweet. But really, this was for Red Auerbach … There was a beauty to it ending on our home court with Red looking down on us. And he got the last laugh. He always did.”
Others honored include Senator Ted Kennedy, Chris Paul, Leonardo DiCaprio, Josh Hamilton, and Jon Hamm.
|11.28.08 at 8:48 pm ET|
Last season the Boston Celtics added two All-Stars and got out to one of the hottest starts in basketball. This season the Philadelphia 76ers added one All-Star and still haven’t figured out how to win with him. On Friday night Elton Brand posed no problem for the Celtics as they dismantled the 76ers 102-78. This loss wasn’t Brand’s fault, though. The 76ers as a whole failed to help and the Celtics took advantage of this struggling team.
- Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen combined for 38 points (16-27 FG). Paul Pierce added just six (1-6 FG). “We ran a few plays for Ray, noticed he had the hot hand and that’s what we try to do,” Pierce said. “Ray is really shooting lights out as of late so the guys around him were doing a good job of getting him open and he’s knocking shots down.”
- The 76ers are looking to learn from the Celtics cohesiveness. “They’re a very good team, well coached team,” said Andre Miller. “They play well together. You have to tip your hats to them. We should take something from this and move onto the next game.”
- Last season Miller flustered Rajon Rondo and the Celtics. Tonight Rondo got the best of the veteran PG, posting 6 points, 12 assists, and 6 rebounds to Miller’s 12 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds. Rondo’s ball handling kept his teammates on point and his 12 dimes proved to be more valuable than Miller’s 12 points.
The Celtics (15-2) are leaving tonight for Charlotte, where they will take on the Bobcats on Saturday night. The 76ers (7-9) play the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night.
|11.28.08 at 7:30 pm ET|
Final score … Celtics 102, 76ers 78
- Take that back. Scal still had some fight left in him. He got pushed to the floor after attempting a reverse lay in, drawing a flagrant 2 foul on Speights. The 76ers rookie got ejected and Scal blew off some steam at the free throw line.
- Scal for three. Time to pack it up.
- Just got a text message from my mother requesting Gino and Cassell. It’s Gino Time with a 26-point lead but so far no signs of Cassell.
- Patrick O’Bryant just entered the game and fans are chanting “Scal-a-bri-ne” instead. Relentless.
- KG and Rondo are offering House advice during a timeout. Speaking of coaches, coach-in-the-making Sam Cassell is still on the bench but active for his first game of the season.
- Gino is warming up backstage.
- Like Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams doesn’t get a lot of attention behind Brand and Iguodala. But let this guy shoot and he’ll get hot. Williams has 10 points in 13 minutes.
- Scal nearly posted up the 76ers … nearly. Even though the bucket didn’t drop Scal still tried to back his way into the paint instead of settling for an outside J.
Both second units are getting minutes in the fourth quarter. I’m particularly interested in watching Marreese Speights, who impressed at Vegas Summer League and reminded me of an unpolished Al Jefferson.
|11.28.08 at 7:00 pm ET|
At the end of the third quarter … Celtics 73, 76ers 47
THIRD QUARTER WRAP: Garnett and Ray Allen put on a show toward the end of the third quarter, killing the 76ers from both inside and out. The Sixers tried to fight back by going inside (12 points in the paint) but that is no match for the surge by Allen and KG (15 and 8 third quarter points respectively).
- First it was Allen’s threes and now it’s KG’s dunks. Garnett has been unstoppable at the basket laying down jam after jam on former Celtic Theo Ratliff. Ratliff’s mega contract made the KG deal possible and KG is doing little to thank him.
- Credit KG’s monster dunk to the Celtics solid ball movement. The 76ers look lost trying to figure out who’s going to shoot.
- Allen has hit three three-pointers in as many minutes. All of a sudden he has 21 points, nearly half of the Sixers total.
- KG isn’t backing down after his one-game suspension. He dealt Iguodala a hit to the chest after Iggy scored, a bump that was noticed by Iguodala but not called by the refs.
- Think again. Allen drained back-to-back threes, pushing the lead back up to 20.
- Both teams are cold from long-range. The Celtics are 1-for-6 and the 76ers are 0-for-3 with six minutes to go in the quarter. Ironically, Ray Allen is the Celtics leading scorer despite being cold from the arc.
- Less than four minutes into the third quarter, the Celtics have pushed the lead up to 20 points. Rondo has four quick points and the 76ers need a timeout.
On the court at the start of the third quarter …
Celtics: Pierce, Garnett, Perkins, Ray Allen, Rondo
76ers: Young, Brand, Dalembert, Iguodala, Miller
|11.28.08 at 6:10 pm ET|
At the half … Celtics 46, 76ers 28
FIRST HALF WRAP: Maybe Mo Cheeks can light a spark during halftime but so far this has been all Celtics basketball. The 76ers have been cold in the paint (Celtics 24-14) and Brand only scored two points in the second quarter. Nine Celtics are on the scoreboard, with KG, Perk, and Ray Allen tied at 8 apiece.
- Doc has his starting five back on the court with 3:24 to go, up 40-24. The 76ers have their starters minus Young, with Royal Ivey in the game.
- The Celtics are keeping Iguodala and Brand out of the paint, leaving Dalembert as their only option down low. Dalembert is scoreless so far.
- This is only Davis’ second season with the Celtics but you think he’d know his teammates by now. Big Baby and Tony Allen got tied up fighting for a rebound … against each other.
- 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.
On the court at the start of the second quarter …
Celtics: Leon Powe, Glen Davis, Ray Allen, Tony Allen, Eddie House
76ers: Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights, Louis Williams, Willie Green, Theo Ratliff