|03.15.10 at 8:15 pm ET|
So far so good for the Celtics through 24 minutes. They have a 64-35 lead and it feels like much more.
Paul Pierce has 12 points and Ray Allen has 11, but this is one instance when it’s not individual efforts that are carrying the Celtics, it’s the collective team. Cliche though it may be, that’s the case at the Garden tonight. The C’s are shooting 55 percent and have only one turnover. Detroit is shooting 34 percent and has 11.
|03.15.10 at 7:39 pm ET|
The Celtics came into their game with the Pistons in desperate need of a fast start and they got it behind 12 points from Paul Pierce en route to a 31-15 lead. The Celtics shot 52 percent and held Detroit to 6-for-18 shooting.
Things went from bad to worse for Detroit. Already without Rodney Stuckey who was involved in a scary incident in Cleveland on March 5 when he collapsed during a game with the Cavs and was taken to the hospital, the Pistons saw Tayshaun Prince go down when he appeared to collide with teammate Jason Maxiell.
Prince was on the floor throughout a timeout and was helped off the floor by trainers. Stuckey hasn’t played since his collapse and Ben Wallace was also out for Detroit.
|03.15.10 at 7:14 pm ET|
Ray Allen says the Celtics don’t come down to one or two individuals. They are not led by a single player, he notes. Never have been nor do they plan on becoming so.
‘The same as it’s always been,’ he said prior to the Celtics – Pistons game on Monday. ‘We’ve got a bunch of leaders on this team.’
‘I think maybe a different guy gotta try to step up and be a leader,’ reported the Boston Globe. ‘I think sometimes you try to feed off your All-Stars, but maybe somebody else gotta step up. I’m talking about leading by example. One spark or positive energy on the court and guys tend to feed off that. Maybe it’s gotta be me, Rondo, ‘Sheed, somebody.’’
A day later, Doc Rivers echoed the notion of players needing to step up. He believes his players have it in them, it is just a matter of putting it out there on the court. He pointed out Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels specifically as two players the Celtics need better production from.
“I don’t care how frustrating it gets for me,” Rivers said before Monday’s game. “I see it, and if you see it or not, I see it and I’m going to get it out of you. And that’s what I told them after the game [Sunday]. I don’t know how but I will get it out of you.”
|03.15.10 at 6:39 pm ET|
Peppered with questions about his team’s effort in the final five minutes of Sunday’s double-digit loss in Cleveland, Doc Rivers said he is going to find a way to get better results from his team.
“I don’t care how frustrating it gets for me,” Rivers said before Monday’s game with Detroit. “I see it, and if you see it or not, I see it and I’m going to get it out of you. And that’s what I told them after the game [Sunday]. I don’t know how but I will get it out of you.”
The Celtics were tied with the Cavs at 68 on Sunday before the roof caved in.
“I never mentioned that we didn’t have effort,” Rivers said. “I looked at it, there’s four minutes left in the third quarter, it’s a tie score. So at least at that point, we still had effort. We didn’t sustain our play. We missed a lot of open shots. I don’t think it had a lot to do with effort [Sunday]. I thought the last five minutes did [have to do with effort], when we were down 16 and you could see us giving in.”
“I think it’s an easy thing now when we don’t win, it was effort.”
To Rivers, the story wasn’t the lack of fight the team appeared to show in the final five minutes but how they got there.
“I’m not as worried about that as I am why we got down 16,” the coach said. “I was more concerned with that. They came with a great spirit and wanted to win the game. They had a chance to win the game. Then when it slipped away in their minds, they were disappointed. To me, that’s a human reaction. I can live with that.”
Rivers said the swagger against teams will come back to the Celtics only by results on the court.
“I said, ‘You’ve got to earn for people be afraid of you.’ The first half of the year we did earn that,” Rivers said. “Then I think everybody conveniently forgets the second-half of the year. When we were [23-5], we were completely healthy. We had injuries, we struggled and now we’re trying to get it back.
“It didn’t just go away because the healthy group stop playing, it went away for a good reason. What we’ve failed to do is put it back together yet, and that’s what we’re working on.”
Ultimately – and appropriately with Boston trying to dry out from drenching rains – Rivers is taking a glass half-full approach.
“In some ways, it’s very enjoyable,” Rivers said of this year’s challenge. “I know that sounds crazy. It’s a group where you’ve had to get your hands dirty. Really, you’ve had to dive into this group, push buttons, get on different guys you’d never thought you’d have to. In some ways, that has been very difficult but in some ways, it has been a joyous challenge. This is a very challenging year. I’m excited by it, in a crazy way I am. If you get it right, it will be an unbelievable feeling at the end.”
|03.15.10 at 9:29 am ET|
At this point in the season, where do the Celtics rank in relation to the other top teams in the NBA? They can no longer be considered one of the elite teams. Their record indicates that they are the fourth-best team in the East and their point-differential ranks eighth in the league. That’s good, but hardly championship-caliber.
The difference between the Celtics and the Hawks may not be that great, but the difference between them and Orlando is growing and the Cavaliers might as well be on another planet. This can all change of course, but while the Celtics are reeling, teams like the Magic, Nuggets, and even those old and gray Spurs are getting better.
Matchups will determine a great deal once we get into April and May, but right now, in mid-March, this team looks more like an outsider than a contender.
PISTONS (23-43, 2-8 last 10)
Points Per Game: 93.4
Points Allowed: 97.9
Differential: -4.5 (26th)
Offensive Efficiency: 104.5 (23rd)
Defensive Efficiency: 109.6 (21st)
Pace: 88.8 (29th)
CELTICS (41-24, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 98.4
Points Allowed: 94.2
Differential: +4.2 (8th)
Offensive Efficiency: 106.8 (17th)
Defensive Efficiency: 102.3 (1st)
Pace: 91.7 (22nd)
Injuries: None. Read the rest of this entry »
|03.14.10 at 11:03 pm ET|
The Celtics repeatedly have mentioned ‘turning a corner’ to get back on a winning track. But with 17 games left in the regular season, how far away is that corner?
‘I don’t know, maybe 17 blocks,’ Rajon Rondo guesstimated on Friday. ‘It should be the same zip code.’
Doc Rivers said he has felt his team getting closer, including at times during Sunday’s loss to the Cavaliers. ‘I told our guys, it’s frustrating for me because I could see in a lot of ways how close we are to breaking out and to being really good,’ he told reporters after the game. But the Celtics trailed the Cavs by as many as 17 in the fourth quarter and lost for the third time in four games.
The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 contests, a stretch that included a three-game winning streak and a pair of two-game skids. Ray Allen understands the regular season can be a series of ups and downs, the reason why he thinks that corner isn’t that distant.
‘I live on an island. I don’t have blocks or anything in the country,’ Ray Allen said. ‘Any time you have to turn a corner, the corner is a block away. It’s just a block away because once you do something well, you feel like you’ve turned a corner. So it’s never that far away. Just like when you’re good, you’re just teeter-tottering on being bad, vice versa.’
|03.14.10 at 5:30 pm ET|
Winning in Cleveland was important to the Celtics, but Doc Rivers knew beating the Celtics at home would be significant to the Cavaliers, too. On Sunday, the Cavs defended their homecourt (where they are now 29-4) and defeated the Celtics, 104-93.
LeBron James scored just two field goals in the first quarter and had six points in the entire first half, but finished with a game-high 30 points.
The Big Three tried to carry the Celtics offensively — Ray Allen led with 20 points; Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce followed with 18 each. Rajon Rondo led the C’s with eight boards, but the team was outrebounded 51-43.
Turning Point: The Celtics had an opportunity to reclaim control of this game in the third quarter. Allen and Pierce tied the game at 68 apiece with back-to-back 3-pointers. But Garnett and Rondo committed a pair of turnovers in 24 seconds and the Cavs went on an 8-0 run.
Player of the Game: After Saturday’s practice, Kendrick Perkins said Anderson Varejao was an instigator on the court, and he proved to be on Sunday. Varejao scored 15 points and grabbed 6 rebounds off the bench in the first half alone. His tough play early on set the tone for the Cavaliers.
– Garnett and Glen Davis were both involved in rough play during the game. Early in the first, Garnett and J.J. Hickson were called for technical fouls after exchanging words under the basket. In the third, Garnett went for the ball and ended up hitting James in the face. James fell to the ground and had to go to the bench during a subsequent timeout. As for Davis, he practically leapt at Antawn Jamison and knocked him to the floor while attempting a 3-pointer.
– One of the reasons why the Celtics were able to stay in the game was because of free throw shooting. They shot 23-for-30 from the line while the Cavs were 31-for-48.
– The Celtics shot 0-for-6 from 3-point range in the first half, but went 6-for-11 in the second. Allen and Pierce hit three apiece.
– Former Celtic Leon Powe scored six points and grabbed four rebounds in eight minutes for the Cavs.
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