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Celtics-Pacers Pre-game Notes

12.03.08 at 5:37 pm ET
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Tony Allen will not play tonight after suffering a sprained ankle in Monday’s game with the Magic. Allen said he hopes to return by Friday for the Portland game, but a more realistic assessment might be Sunday. Allen came up gimpy in the fourth quarter against Orlando, and he said that after the game he thought the worst.

“When I got back to the locker room, I said, ‘Not again,'” Allen said. “They looked at the X-rays and said that it’s nothing bad, just a sprained ankle.”

Allen’s loss is a tough one for the Celtics who are not deep in swingmen.

“It was crystalized last game for us,” Doc Rivers said. “If you lose one of those guards: Tony, Ray (Allen) or Paul (Pierce) that’s a hole.”

Rivers said the Celtics may go small with Rajon Rondo and Eddie House in the backcourt at times, or possibly Gabe Pruitt who is back after dealing with the flu. The loss is also important because Tony Allen has been playing some of his best basketball in recent weeks.

“Tony’s been good,” Rivers said. “Very, very good. I’m always on him about his defense because I think he can be a dominant defensive player.”

——–

Danny Granger has been lighting it up for the Pacers this year and may be on an All-Star pace. Rivers reminisced before the game about the 2005 draft when the only thing standing between the Celtics and the New Mexico product was the Pacers. The C’s wound up with Gerald Green instead.

“I thought he had a chance to be a terrific player,” said Rivers who does not typically pay much attention to college prospects but had caught a few of Granger’s games. “He’s going to be a star.”

Rivers said the difference with Granger this year is that he is driving to the basket more and has added a pull-up jumper instead of settling for perimeter shots. He called him a cross between Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis, which is pretty high praise.

——

Ray Allen had some anxious moments over the Thanksgiving weekend when he found out his childhood friend, Darryl Jones was actually in the PRS Oberoi hotel. Jones is a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines. “What are the odds?” Allen asked rhetorically.

Allen said that he was able to reach Jones, who had taken refuge in a room on the 21st floor of the hotel. The power was out, but Jones’ cell phone still worked and Allen stayed on the phone with him delivering updates. Jones is OK, Allen said.

Celtics Release More Tickets for the Holidays

12.03.08 at 2:11 pm ET
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Just in time for holiday shopping, the Boston Celtics have released additional tickets for the remaining home games. They will go on sale this Friday at 11am. Those interested are encouraged to order early. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster, online at www.Celtics.com, by phone at 1-800-4NBA-TIX, or by visiting the TD BankNorth Garden Box Office (open 11am-7pm, Monday-Sunday). Individual tickets start at $10 in the Rite-Aid Pharmacy Family Section and several ticket packages will be made available. A limited number of group tickets for 20+ people are also currently on sale. Call 888-4CELTIX for more information.

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 »

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