|04.15.09 at 9:38 pm ET|
Last season, the Celtics realized the hard way that the playoffs are where ‘Game Sevens happen.’ After 26 postseason games and two trips of the brink of elimination en route to their championship, the Celtics will enter this weekend against the Chicago Bulls with valuable lessons learned.
Check your swagger at the door
The Celtics looked indestructible in Boston … and then they hit the road. They failed to win in Atlanta and Cleveland before pulling out a victory in Detroit. Last season they were saved by homecourt advantage but this time around they have no choice but to win away from the Garden.
Ray Allen: ‘Those three series that we played, we were up 2-0 and I think losing that first game in the other team’s building, you almost have too much swagger going into a building. I think Doc said it last year, ‘If you show up thinking wearing the green is going to be good enough, that’s when you end up losing.’ And I think that’s what happened to us. That preparation that we have at home has to carry over on the road, so it has to be even more intense and we have to be even better. So that’s where we don’t look at ourselves as targets. We look at other teams that we have to beat because now we have to go in Cleveland and win.’
Take care of your body
Postseason schedules can be unforgiving, especially when they involve cross-country trips that put players in different time zones from day to day. It is easy to get rundown, and one of the most important tasks a player has is staying healthy during the playoffs.
Glen Davis: ‘You’ve just got to get your rest, basically. You can’t do things like going out, staying out late nights. You have to make sure you’re ready to perform. Get a lot of treatment if you’re hurt, eat right most definitely, and the most important thing is sleep. So if you just stay focused on that because you can’t do anything about the traveling, you’ve got to work around it.’
Avoid the hype
Aside from basketball analysis, personal stories are often highlighted during the playoffs. During the NBA Finals, Leon Powe captivated a nation when ABC told the tales of his troubled childhood. Powe had to avoid the instant spotlight to stay focused on the task at hand.
Leon Powe: ‘I tried to block everything out, especially during our playoff run because I had the story, I had a lot of family members calling me about the story, about this, about that, what are you doing, can I come over. No, no. I wasn’t having any of that because I wanted to keep my head and keep my focus on the game … I think I just do a good job of doing that because I keep my focus on the game and know what I’m here for. I’m here to play basketball. Whatever else is going on around me, that can wait because you’ve got a job to do and go out there and prepare for a game and prepare to win the series.’
|04.15.09 at 8:58 pm ET|
Pierce was officially designated “inactive” while Ray Allen was active as each team is only allowed to deactivate three players a game. Allen was also in a suit next to Pierce on the bench.
Rivers added that Rajon Rondo will start the game but play only limited minutes, “definitely the first (quarter) and maybe the third (quarter)” as the team gets ready to take on either Philadelphia or Chicago in the first round of the playoffs this weekend.
Rivers threw out a starting lineup of Rondo, Marbury, Perkins, Powe and Tony Allen, who started at the three spot.
|04.15.09 at 8:18 pm ET|
Wearing a tan suit with a orange shirt, tie and handkerchief, Paul Pierce address the crowd on Fan Appreciation Night at TD Banknorth Garden prior to the regular season finale with the Washington Wizards.
Pierce thanked the crowd for making the arena a true home court advantage and “one of the toughest” buildings for opponents to come away with a victory.
But he also had another message for the crowd, which came to its feet as he took the mic on Lucky the Leprechaun at midcourt.
“This is the time of year you expect us to step it up,” Pierce said. “We also need you fans to step up”
Pierce was inactive for the season finale.
|04.15.09 at 7:53 pm ET|
Celtics forward Kevin Garnett is featured on the cover of the May issue of Men’s Fitness, which will hit newsstands on April 20. In this six-page spread, Garnett addresses topics from his offseason training program to his fire to win.
He even commented on being called ‘skinny':
“I work very hard at it. You don’t survive playing the power forward position and sometimes at the center guarding Shaq and Yao Ming being thin. I take my weights very, very, very personally. It’s part of my regimen every day … even on game days. I’m not a weak individual.”
|04.15.09 at 7:22 pm ET|
Celtics guard Ray Allen will file a grievance with the NBA in response to his suspension for elbowing Cleveland Cavaliers big man Anderson Varejao in the groin on Sunday. He sat out Tuesday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
“I talked to Stu Jackson (Executive Vice President, NBA Basketball Operations) and he really didn’t give me a great explanation, or one that I thought rationalized why I was suspended out of the game and there was no infraction on the other guy,” he said prior to Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards. “I felt as though it was unjust but I can’t do anything about it.”
Allen’s strict pregame routine was interrupted around 12:30pm on Tuesday afternoon by the news of his suspension. He had just finished ironing his suit and was getting ready to order room service when he got the word that he could not play. The explanation — and interruption — did not sit well with him.
“He (Jackson) said that it looked like I hit him in the groin and that hitting a player in the groin is an automatic suspension,” Allen said. “And I told him I wasn’t, if you could tell by my body language — and I didn’t see the play until the game last night — but from what I was told, I didn’t land where you said I landed because if the guy didn’t cringe or he didn’t bowl over, obviously I didn’t hit him. It was just my reaction being thrown to the ground. And I told him, I said that if somebody’s on you for a rebound, the first thing you do is throw your elbows up. That’s just how you protect yourself. It wasn’t intentional.”
The suspension comes a week after being presented with the Red Auerbach Award, which exemplifies what it means to be a Boston Celtic.
Allen pointed out, “I said, ‘My track record is of one that hasn’t been intentional to do anything of that nature, so I thought all of those things should have been taken into account and obviously they weren’t.”
|04.14.09 at 11:03 pm ET|
It is now permissible to be worried about Kevin Garnett. Not time to freak out, necessarily, but worried? Yup.
A week ago, KG was supposed to make his return against the Sixers. He did not, obviously. Before that he was supposed to sit out a game or two and be back for Charlotte. That was two weeks ago. Once the Celtics clinched the No. 2 seed, they had no reason to push him back on the court, and while it’s hard to argue with that decision, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Garnett is not 100 percent and probably won’t be in time for the playoffs.
The Celtics sent him home for more treatment and quotes like, “not progressing the way we would like,” and “needs more time,” do not bode well. At this point, it’s fair to say no one outside the team really knows how Garnett’s knee is doing, and while it’s conceivable that he could come out for Game 1 of the playoffs, wreak havoc for 35 or so minutes and have a big laugh at everyone’s expense, it just doesn’t seem likely.
1) PAUL PIERCE GETS HIS 3 ON
Without Garnett and without Ray Allen, there wasn’t a lot to take from Tuesday’s game with the Sixers (recap here), but Paul Pierce’s 3-point barrage was a good sign for the Celtics. Pierce has shot fewer 3-pointers per 36 minutes than at any other point in his career, but he has shot them effectively, making 38 percent.
Pierce made seven of nine 3-pointers Wednesday, (shades of 2002?) and had his step-back jumper working to perfection. The Truth is ready for the playoffs and so are…
The only important thing for the Celtics was getting some extended minutes for Tony Allen and working Leon Powe back into the action. Good results on both counts. Allen played 38 minutes and scored 18 points, displaying an aggressiveness that has been largely absent from his play during his comeback. Powe, meanwhile, was efficient, scoring 10 points in 14 minutes.
3) THE SIXERS DON’T RUN AS MUCH AS YOU THINK
Kenny Smith tried to make the argument that the Sixers reminded him of the Hawks because they’re young (but they’re not as young as Atlanta), they’re athletic (true, but they’re not that athletic) and they run (whoops).
You will hear about a thousand times between now and Saturday if the Celtics wind up playing the Sixers that Philly likes to run, but here’s the deal: In terms of pace — that is the number of possessions per game — the Sixers rank 22nd in the NBA. In other words, they play slower than Memphis, slower than Houston and (yes) slower than the Celtics.
Bringing the halftime conversation full circle, everyone agreed that the Sixers aren’t as good as the Hawks last season. A little perspective, please. Atlanta won 37 games last year and got blown out four times in Boston during the playoffs. They played great three times at home and have made a nice jump last year, but let’s not pretend that anyone thought the Hawks were “good” last season, and the comparison between last year’s Hawks and this year’s Sixers doesn’t hold up.
4) SEVENTH SEED SHAKE-UP
The Sixers came into last night’s game holding the tiebreaker over Chicago for the sixth seed. They leave a game down with one to play and are staring at a road date with Cleveland tomorrow. If the Bulls beat Toronto at home tomorrow, they will be a trendy pick to beat Orlando in the first round, but that’s a story for another day.
So, it looks like it will be Philly in the first round and while the thought of a renewed Celtics-Sixers rivalry is enticing, the early line here is that this is the scenario Boston wanted all along. They avoid Detroit, and swoon or no swoon, every time the Celtics play the Pistons, it’s a struggle. They avoid Chicago, who is white hot and they avoid Miami and D Wade.
Not to mention, the Celtics are 4-0 against Philly this year, travel will be easier and there isn’t a single matchup that clearly favors the Sixers.
5) SUPERFERLOUS CHARLES BARKLEY QUOTE
“(The Celtics are) gonna beat them like they stole something. Starting this weekend.”
I’m just surprised Joey Crawford didn’t T up Sir Charles. He got everyone else.
|04.14.09 at 10:39 am ET|
The Celtics have an interesting dilemma tonight when they play the Sixers. They are locked into the No. 2 seed thanks to the Magic’s late-season tumble and have essentially nothing to play for. Doc Rivers has already ruled out Kevin Garnett, although he may want to get Leon Powe some run.
But what about the rest of the team? The Sixers are still fighting for either the sixth or the seventh playoff spot with Chicago who has a half-game lead on Philly. Rivers told reporters that he’s still trying to figure out how to play it.
‘Philly’s fighting with other teams, and it will be tough to sit guys for that fact,’ Rivers was quoted as saying in the Herald. ‘That’s my first thought, though I also have to take care of my team first. But that was my first thought when I thought about the Philly game.’
The Bulls finish their regular season tomorrow with a home game against Toronto, while the Sixers finish up in Cleveland, so a Celtics win tonight could effectively set up a Boston-Philly first round matchup.
The Celtics are 3-0 against Philly heading into tonight’s game and went 2-1 against the Bulls, dropping a St. Patrick’s Day game in Chicago.
UPDATE: Well that helps solve some of that issue. Ray Allen has been suspended by the NBA for one game for elbowing Anderson Varejao in the varejaos on Sunday. Allen is expected to serve his suspension tonight.
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