Archive for November, 2008

Celtics-76ers Game Blog: First Quarter

Friday, November 28th, 2008

At the end of the first … Celtics 22, 76ers 16

FIRST QUARTER WRAP: About that 76ers post game, it needs some work. The Celtics have outscored them 14-8 in the paint, with 8 points coming from Kendrick Perkins. The Celtics lead is a total team effort (six players have scored), while the 76ers are relying on Brand (10 points) for their offense. Kudos to Rondo for his impressive play without scoring a single basket (4 rebounds, 4 assists).- Rajon Rondo flat out took the ball out of Andre Miller’s hands. Something tells me he didn’t say please.

- Team chemistry doesn’t come over night, as proven by the 76ers. After a dunk from Kendrick Perkins, Elton Brand let Samuel Dalembert know his dissatisfaction on the way back down the court. Dalembert was sent to bench shortly thereafter.

- There is a cheering section called “Scal’s Pals” in the stands tonight, with kids donning red wigs.

- 76ers head coach Mo Cheeks said he still wants his team to run. So far tonight it’s the Celtics who are coming out running. While the 76ers are settling for outside attempts, the Cs are pushing the ball up the court to the basket.

- This season Glen Davis has taken over for James Posey’s pregame send offs. Reggie Evans handles that role for the 76ers, greeting each of the starters on the court and high-fiving his way down the bench.

Starting Lineups

Celtics: Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins
76ers: Samuel Dalembert, Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Elton Brand

Pregame News and Notes

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Anything Really is Possible for Pierce: Kevin Garnett screamed it after winning the NBA Finals. This season Paul Pierce is taking on the same optimistic attitude. In a rare chat with the media prior to Friday’s game, Pierce was asked how he could top winning a title, becoming a father, and watching his alma mater Kansas win the NCAA championship.

“Kansas wins the title, become a dad again, and we win it again. That would top it,” he said with a laugh, adding, “It’s a possibility.”

Pruitt in Need of Some R&R: Gabe Pruitt left the building prior to the Celtics-76ers game with flu-like symptoms. He was sick on Thanksgiving and does not expect to travel with the team to Charlotte for tomorrow’s game against the Bobcats.

Young Thanks KG: Among veteran standouts like Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala, Kevin Garnett is paying close attention to a (literally and figuratively) young player. He’s had his eye on Thaddeus Young, and the second-year forward was taken aback by the acknowledgment.

“It’s pretty good. He’s an All-Star player,” Young said with his trademark smile. “It’s pretty big for him to say something like that so, you know, thank him for that.”

Preview: Celtics vs. 76ers

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

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.

Front Court
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.”

Back Court
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.”

Read more on Young here.

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.

Sounds of the game… Celtics 119, Warriors 111

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

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.

Paul Pierce said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Rondo wind up on the Eastern Conference All-Star squad.

Rajon Rondo appreciated the thoughts from his captain.

Garnett said Rondo has a heart the size of Africa.

Rondo on his big third quarter.

Doc Rivers said the team got away with an offense-first mentality on Wednesday.

Rivers said he liked the team’s start.

No More Drama for Crawford

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

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.

Wright Has No Regrets in NBA

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

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.”

(more…)

Being Tony Allen

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

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. (more…)