|11.27.08 at 10:01 pm ET|
On Friday night the Boston Celtics (14-2) will take on the Philadelphia 76ers (7-8) at the TD BankNorth Garden. The 76ers were expected to challenge the Celtics in the Atlantic Division after acquiring Elton Brand this summer, but so far they have yet to pose a threat. The Celtics are riding a six-game winning streak while the 76ers have lost their last two.
In the last five games …
Over the last five games the Celtics have averaged the third most points in the NBA (108 ppg), the 76ers are posting the third least (90.4 ppg). The 76ers have the highest rebounding differential in the league (+6.33) for the season but the Celtics have outrebounded their opponents by nearly eight boards in the past five contests.
The match up to watch will be Kevin Garnett vs. Elton Brand. The big men have seen each other plenty of times in the Western Conference and now they are two of the best in the East. Brand gives the 76ers a legitimate option in the post, something they’ve been lacking of over the years, and they don’t have to rely as much on their running game.
‘You know they’re going to play hard, you know they’re going to crash the boards,’ Garnett said. ‘But having that range from the floor makes them [multi-dimensional]. They’re able to go pick-and-pop. Andre Miller can string out the defense a little bit and throw it back and Elton can hit all the way up to 19-feet jumpers.’
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has made it clear on several occassions that Andre Miller is one of his favorite point guards in the league. Now many are saying the same about Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
‘The problems we’ve had with Philly in the past, last year we struggled with them because of the Andre Miller problem,’ Rivers said. ‘You know, at the point, with his size. I think Rondo’s better suited to handle that this year, and so he’s going to have to.’
Rondo’s fearless hustle has garnered praise from teammates and opponents alike. He enters Friday’s game on a hot streak after scoring 22 points against the Golden State Warriors. See how Rondo and Miller stacked up in the past five games:
Rajon Rondo: 29.2 minutes, 16.6 points, 6.2 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 55.7% FG
Andre Miller: 36.4 minutes, 12.0 points, 6.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 42.3% FG
Keep an Eye On …
The obvious scoring options on the 76ers are Brand and Andre Iguodala. This season, however, versatile forward Thaddeus Young is emerging in Philly. Young is quietly averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds, catching the attention of Garnett.
‘A lot of people don’t really talk about him but Thaddeus Young, I think, is having an exceptional year,’ Garnett said. ‘He’s hitting threes, he’s been able to come off picks … and he’s aggressive. Just some of the games that I’ve seen, when they win it’s because he’s playing really well.’
The Bottom Line
‘I think they ran a lot more this year than last year,’ said Paul Pierce. ‘They’re good in transition with Iguodala but I think now that they’ve added Brand to the dimension, they’re more built I think for the playoffs. They have early struggles, I think they’re a better team than their record has really shown as they get used to one another, but definitely they’re capable of scoring 100 points. But we’ve got our work cut out for us again defensively.’
Check in with the WEEI Celtics Game Day Blog for all the latest from the Celtics-76ers match up.
|11.27.08 at 10:11 am ET|
Maybe Stephen Jackson was onto something. He told our own Jessica Camerato that the Celtics deserve the respect he refused to give them last year. And after the game he said one reason he has changed his mind is the play of Rajon Rondo. The point guard’s teammates are also on board. Rondo led a dramatic 32-16 surge in the third quarter that left Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett calling for Rondo to get some All-Star love. The Rondo-for-All-Star push continues Friday night at the Garden as the 14-2 Celtics welcome the 7-8 Philadelphia 76ers.
|11.27.08 at 1:04 am ET|
When Jamal Crawford faced the Boston Celtics two weeks ago as a member of the New York Knicks, the game was filled with heated tension and hostility. That wasn’t the case with the Golden State Warriors. While Wednesday’s back-and-forth game was a battle, it was simply good basketball in his opinion. Crawford could hardly hide his excitement for playing with his new team.
‘It was a lot more fun because with the Knicks, for whatever reason, we always get into it with the Celtics,’ Crawford said with a smile from ear-to-ear following the Warriors 119-111 loss. ‘But here it’s just fun, we just play, it’s competitive. I thought our young guys came to play tonight. After playing kind of lackluster last night, all of us bounced back and had a chance to win against one of the best teams in the NBA.’
Crawford can look forward to another match up against the Celtics when they come to town on December 26 as part of their four-game West Coast road trip.
|11.27.08 at 1:00 am ET|
A year ago Brandan Wright worked out with the Boston Celtics as a top prospect in the 2007 NBA Draft. The Celtics passed on Wright and pulled off the Ray Allen trade, while the big man from UNC landed with the Golden State Warriors by way of the Charlotte Bobcats.
Wright has yet to make a splash in the pros and many speculated that he should have stayed past his freshman year. But Wright, 21, is happy to be learning the ropes with the Warriors and enjoys growing up in the NBA.
‘You have all these grown up responsibilities to take care of but I made a decision (to leave UNC) and I’m not regretting it or anything like that,’ Wright said. ‘I’m enjoying myself. I think it would have been good both ways.’
|11.26.08 at 9:21 pm ET|
It was early in the fourth quarter and the Celtics had just surrendered a lead, again, against the Golden State Warriors. The pattern, if there can be something so structured as a pattern when talking about Don Nelson’s quirky team, had gone something like this: Boston starters establish the lead, bench gives it up.
After having played 55 of the available 60 minutes in the third quarter, every one of the starters with the exception of Paul Pierce was justifiably getting some rest. But still, the lead was disappearing, and big picture thoughts are often far from the minds of the paying customers.
Someone in the stands called out, “C’mon Doc! Call a timeout. Put the stahtahs back in.” But, of course, Rivers couldn’t do that yet. This was still Game 16 of an 82-game season, and as it was, Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were on track to log almost 40 minutes apiece, well above the prescribed court time Doc had intended.
The bench, which has been generally good this year and at times excellent was not having a stellar evening. It wasn’t until Big Baby Davis finished off a three-point play with nine minutes and change left in the fourth quarter that any of the reserves had actually converted a shot from the floor.
But then, Nellie Ball, came into play. Nelson’s lineups are always a mystery from one game to the next and for the stretch run he elected to play CJ Watson, Jamal Crawford, Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette together as a unit. None of those four could even charitably be considered a “big” forward, and with such a quick, trigger-happy bunch on the floor, Doc countered with his own version of small ball. All of which is a very long way of getting around to Tony Allen. Read the rest of this entry »
|11.26.08 at 9:04 pm ET|
Last season on the night before Thanksgiving, Stephen Jackson scoffed at the hype surrounding the Boston Celtics. They were 9-1 at the time, including a 23-point blowout over the Golden State Warriors, but Jackson could care less.
“They won nine games. If you all want to hype up nine games so be it. I’m not,” he said at the time. “Like I said, they are just another NBA team just like everybody else. They’ll get praise when they win a championship.”
Exactly one year later, the now-defending champions came from behind the defeat the Warriors 119-111 in Boston. Jackson posted 30 points, six assists, and five rebounds, and looked like he was out for redemption.
So was he playing with a vengeance? His answer may surprise you.
“They definitely have my respect,” he said. “They have three great players and a great leader in (Rajon) Rondo. He definitely is a key to them winning games. Like I said, they have my respect now. If I said that year, I take it back. They’ve definitely earned it.”
The trio of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen have achieved the goal Jackson is working toward with Corey Maggette and the newly acquired Jamal Crawford. Now he is in the same situation and can appreciate what the Celtics accomplished last season.
“It’s hard to not respect them after the season they had,” Jackson said. “When you’re a team that signs three big guys and you haven’t won a championship, you have to earn the respect. And they’ve earned it.”
|11.26.08 at 7:34 pm ET|
– And just like that the Celtics have all but locked in a victory. The Warriors faltered offensively and the Celtics got hot at the basket. KG just attempted a three. I’d say this one’s in the bag.
– This is where team chemistry could come into play. The Celtics can read each other like a book and are pulling away with cohesive play. The Warriors, on the other hand, have two first year players on the court in Maggette and Crawford.
– Jackson thinks this is hilarious. Ray Allen got called for the foul on Jackson’s three-point attempt and Jackson couldn’t contain his jubilation. He made two of three free throws.
– Who wants it more? KG or Captain Jack? It’s about to play out in the final five.
– The officials just told Celtics superfan Marty Joyce to take a seat. Something tells me they can’t stop him, they can only hope to contain him … And he’s back on his feet celebrating a Warriors foul.
– Pierce entered the game with seven minutes to go and the Celtics down by one. He just picked up his fourth foul but Doc needs him on the court for his late-game heroics.
– Jackson wanted to make sure the Celtics saw that shot. After draining a three over a pair of defenders, he pranced in front of the Cs bench. Someone’s in it to win it.
– Eddie House is off tonight. He isn’t simply missing his shots, he just threw up a brick from long range. He and Scal are the only scoreless Celtics with 9:35 to go.
– Scal just got called for his 10th personal foul of the season. Pierce leads the Celtics with 41.
– It will be interesting to see how Watson performs down the stretch. He was a Vegas Summer League standout (19 points, 5 assists, 3.5 rebounds per game) but those impressive performances can often be a fluke.
– Celtics start the fourth quarter with Pierce, Davis, Tony Allen, Scal, and House. Crawford, Azubuike, Turiaf, Watson, and Maggette are on the court for the Warriors.