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Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers

12.03.08 at 9:25 am ET
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On Wednesday night the Boston Celtics (17-2) will take on the Indiana Pacers (7-10) at the TD BankNorth Garden. The Pacers already upset the Celtics once this season and are riding the momentum of stunning the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. It will be up to the Celtics to halt this series of shockers.

What Went Wrong
On November 1 the Pacers defeated the Celtics 95-79 in Indiana. It was the Celtics first loss of the season, quickly proving their championship didn’t make them immortal. The Pacers jumped out to a 10-point first quarter lead and went up by as many as 25 in the fourth. The Celtics looked sloppy on the road (24 turnovers) and were off the mark all night (34.6% FG, 4-for-20 3PG, 60% FT). Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce‘s combined 33 points and 24 rebounds were not enough. Kendrick Perkins went scoreless while Rajon Rondo hit just one basket. Danny Granger scored 20 points, Marquis Daniels posted 13 points and 11 boards, and T.J. Ford contributed 19 points. When asked to explain the 18-point loss, Garnett told the media, “I don’t even know what to call it.”

In the Last Five Games …
The Celtics have the offensive edge over the Pacers, stretching their margin of victory up to 14.2 points per game over the last five contests while the Pacers have been losing by an average of 4.4 points. Their offense is back on pace with their defense (51.4% FG, 40.3% 3PG) as the Pacers have ranked in the bottom half of the league (43.8% FG, 34.8% 3PG). But in spite of the Celtics stifling D, the Pacers are the best rebounding team in the NBA and average nearly 10 more boards (49.0 to 40.0 rpg). The Pacers have also been the better ball handling team (23.0 to 21.8 apg) as of late despite Rajon Rondo‘s impressive play.

More than Meets the Eye
The Pacers 7-10 record is deceiving. This team has individual talent and has proved they can be threatening when playing together. Danny Granger is one of the hottest players in the league today and he and Paul Pierce will challenge each other on the perimeter all night. Force him behind the arc, though, and the Celtics could stifle his game. He is shooting just 24% from long range on no days rest. The Pacers traded Jermaine O’Neal for T.J. Ford this summer for backcourt leadership. Ford is just as dangerous as Ray Allen from the line and is capable of dropping 20 points on any given night. Troy Murphy (11.0 ppg, 11.8 rpg) will challenge the Celtics on the glass as one of the league’s underrated big men. Marquis Daniels is also having a breakout season (16.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg) after recovering from a foot injury.

Hitting the Bench
While Jeff Foster and Jarrett Jack have been reliable for the Pacers off the bench, the Celtics reserves have the advantage. The Cs bench is filled with championship winners whereas the Pacers bench includes inexperienced rookies and unproven journeymen. Tony Allen has been explosive at the basket and scored 14 points in the first game against the Pacers. After suffering their first loss in Indy, the Celtics starters will look to come out swinging and that intensity will trickle down the bench.

Check back tonight for WEEI’s Live Celtics Game Day Blog from the TD BankNorth Garden.

Read More: Celtics, Danny Granger, Jeff Foster, Kendrick Perkins

Sounds of the game… Celtics 107, Magic 88

12.02.08 at 9:36 am ET
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Doc Rivers called Monday night’s game a ‘free speech night’… a game in which he doesn’t have to say a word to his team about its significance. Such was the case as the Celtics took on yet another ‘would-be challenger’ to their Eastern Conference reign. And the Orlando Magic found out what Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Toronto have already realized, knocking the Celtics off the throne won’t be easy. And did you hear what the Magic said??? Listen to the comments below. Dwight Howard and Anthony Johnson were all about giving respect but also wanted people to remember they were without their backcourt of Jameer Nelson and Mickael Pietrus. Doc Rivers acknowledged as much but the Celtics also took Orlando’s best punch in the second quarter before blowing them off the court in the second half – doing exactly what championship teams do that have dreams of repeating.

Doc Rivers was happy with the balance.

Rivers didn’t have to say a word to his team on ‘free speech’ night.

Rivers jokes about the eight technical fouls called in the game.

Paul Pierce on his 17-point third quarter.

Orlando’s Dwight Howard gave it up to the Celtics, on this night at least.

Orlando guard Anthony Johnson said the Celtics smacked them but he wants to see how they would fare against Boston at full strength.

Johnson said they will remember this game.

Read More: Anthony Johnson, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Dwight Howard

Rondo Launches Spirit of Giving Food Drive

12.02.08 at 8:29 am ET
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On Tuesday Rajon Rondo is spearheading the 9th annual Spirit of Giving Food Drive to benefit eight New England food banks. The program will run at over 199 Shaw’s and Star Market Supermarkets and is expected to provide 200,000 meals for New England families this winter. Rondo will launch the drive at Shaw’s Supermarket in Mansfield, MA. The Spirit of Giving Food Drive was created by Infinite Ideas, Inc., a Boston agency that develops social marketing programs.

In other community events, the Boston Celtics Women’s Group collected and donated more than 200 coats, winter clothing, and $3,000 as part of their Cradles to Crayons holiday coat drive. The coats were donated by fans during the November 26 home game against the Golden State Warriors. The Women’s Group also received donations from Modell’€™s Sporting Goods, adidas, Reebok, and Arbella.

Read More: Rajon Rondo,

Memories Still Golden for Howard

12.01.08 at 11:39 pm ET
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Dwight Howard isn’t living in the past. He just isn’t ready to put it behind him yet.

It’s been more than three months since he won a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics with the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team and he relives the glory every day. Howard brings his medal on the road with him as he tries to capture another piece of hardware ‘€“ the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.

‘€œIt’s to remind me of something I accomplished this summer, a goal I’ve been wanting to have since I was little,’€ Howard said following the Orlando Magic-Boston Celtics game. ‘€œWatching the Dream Team I always wanted a gold medal, and I have one now. I take it and it reminds me every day to keep pushing for something because reach for the stars and you might get it.’€

If Howard needs another reminder of Olympic success, he can just look down the Magic bench. Original Dream Team member Patrick Ewing is his assistant coach.

Read More: Celtics, Dwight Howard, Magic, Patrick Ewing

The Genius of Doc Rivers

12.01.08 at 9:27 pm ET
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Doc Rivers was named the Eastern Conference coach of the month for November before last night’s win over Orlando, one of those strange awards the NBA loves to give out to mark the passage of time. “I don’t know if coaches get better from month-to-month,” Orlando’s Stan Van Gundy was saying before the game. “I won a couple of them in Miami and I wondered, ‘Did I really do a better job that month?’”

As Rivers himself pointed out, the award had everything to do with the Celtics 16-2 record in November (and October) and not much at all to do with some blast of strategic brilliance from the sideline, but if the honor does have any significance, it’s further validation that Rivers is at the top of his profession.

That’s a long way from 2006-07 when fans were openly calling for him to be fired, and not all that far removed from those same fans wondering if Phil Jackson would run circles around him in the NBA Finals. But an NBA title does do wonders for a coach’s reputation. “That’s not for me to say,” Rivers said. “It shouldn’t (have an effect on other’s perceptions), but I’m sure it does.”

So, the question becomes, knowing all that we know about Doc in his tenure with the Celtics, how good a coach is he, really? Read the rest of this entry »

Celtics-Magic Game Blog: Fourth Quarter

12.01.08 at 7:24 pm ET
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GAME WRAP: The Boston Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic 107-88 on Monday night at the TD BankNorth Garden. The Celtics extended their winning streak to nine games behind 24 points from Paul Pierce and 21 from Ray Allen. Rashard Lewis led all scorers with 30 points while Dwight Howard posted a quiet 14 points and 15 rebounds. With this win the Celtics improved to 17-2.

- Somewhere there is a Tar Heels fan laughing at the brick J.J. Redick just shot.

- Are you keeping track? Two more technicals have been issued. One on Kevin Garnett, the other against Dwight Howard.

- The interesting thing about this game is that it’s being like there is a two-point differential, yet the Celtics are up by 14 with three minutes to go.

- Before the game Kendrick Perkins proudly pointed out that he hadn’t been T’ed up in the last few games. He spoke too soon. Perk was called for a technical late in the fourth quarter but a 15+ point lead.

- Lewis is the latest recipient of a technical foul. He kept arguing his point until Turkoglu came over to cool him down.

- The Celtics are moving the ball so well it’s like playing hot potato. Powe to Davis to House in a matter of seconds for an EHouse three.

- Monster dunk from Leon Powe. That’s the kind of stuff I’d expect from Howard.

- Ray Allen and Eddie House are walking all over the young backcourt duo of Courtney Lee and J.J. Redick. Lee said the Magic drafted him for his defense but tonight Allen is giving him a crash course on trying to stop one of the best shooters in the league.

- The Celtics held the Magic to just six points in the paint in the third. Howard’s on the bench, will they take advantage of this and continue to attack their own basket?

- Does anyone want to stop Rashard Lewis? Doesn’t seem that way. Lewis has gotten off nearly 20 shots early in the fourth quarter, more than double KG’s stat line.

It’s not really surprising that the Celtics have pushed the lead up considering how undermanned the Magic are. Entering the fourth quarter Paul Pierce leads all scorers with 22 points. Rashard Lewis follows with 20 points. Rajon Rondo has dished nine assists and Dwight Howard has grabbed 11 rebounds. Now on to the final 12 minutes …

At the start of the fourth … Celtics 77, Magic 65

Celtics-Magic Game Blog: Third Quarter

12.01.08 at 6:52 pm ET
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Interesting first half as Magic coach Stan Van Gundy solved his backcourt problem by essentially playing 6-10 Rashard Lewis at shooting guard. Lewis is a tough cover under normal circumstances, but with Paul Pierce on the bench with three fouls, the Celtics had to leave Tony Allen on Lewis, and Lewis took advantage to score 12 of his 18 points in the second quarter.

For their part the Celtics old issue of turnovers continues to be a problem. They had nine in the first half, which was the only real negative offensively after shooting 54 percent. Defensively the Celtics have to stay active on the boards. Orlando picked up 11 second-chance points on nine offensive rebounds–Dwight Howard and Tony Battie had three apiece.

Onward with the Celtics leading 48-46… Read the rest of this entry »

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