Archive for November, 2009

Fast Break: Celtics-Sixers

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Doc Rivers was asked before Wednesday’s game if his team should be worried about a letdown against a Sixers team that was without two starters, and whom they had throttled by 29 points in Philly earlier this month. Doc’s Response? Um, yeah. Didn’t Golden State beat Dallas the other night with just six players, the coach asked.

The Celtics haven’t been able to take very much for granted since that first Sixers game and it became obvious very early that Philly had come to play, even after a wrenching loss to the Wizards the night before and even without Lou Williams and Elton Brand.

In the end the Celtics took every punch and landed a few more of their own in a 113-110 victory. The win continued their recent trend of playing down-to-the-wire games against sub-500 teams, but they’ll take it. Again.

Player of the Game: Paul Pierce. For everything that is going wrong with the Celtics, Pierce continues to play out of his head. It wasn’t just the 27 points, five rebounds and six assists either. With the Celtics clinging to a 107-105 lead, Andre Iguodala came steamrolling down the floor and Pierce stood his ground and took the charge.

Turning point: Rajon Rondo raised a few eyebrows through the first three quarters by continuing to pass up layups in favor of making an extra pass. One time he caught Kevin Garnett underneath the basket on a give-and-go-and-give leaving Garnett no choice but to fling the ball toward the hoop while he was already underneath it.

But in the fourth quarter Rondo finally came alive, taking the ball aggressively to the hoop and looking to score. The Celtics used a small lineup during this stretch and Rondo took advantage of the space available on the floor. Things become so much easier for the Celtics when Rondo has the mindset to finish once he breaks down the defense.

* Once again the Celtics were beaten on the offensive glass. The Sixers had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, which led to 18 second-chance points.

* Philly is in the bottom third in the league in 3-point shooting at a tick over 32 percent. Naturally the Sixers shot 13-for-20 from 3-point range.

*One area the Celtics did excel in was getting to the free throw line, making 30-of-39. Garnett was 9-for-12.

* Rasheed Wallace didn’t exactly “break out” of his shooting slump, but he did make two of six from beyond the arc.

* Kendrick Perkins, Ray Allen and Garnett all spent considerable portions of the fourth quarter on the bench. The Celtics and Sixers were both using small lineups, which left Perk out even though he had 12 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes. Garnett was spelled by Wallace as part of his regular rotation, while Allen gave way to Marquis Daniels. After 15 games the only thing that’s obvious about the rotations and lineups is that Rivers is still looking for the right combinations.

* Great coaching move and execution in the final seconds as the Celtics were able to foul Iguodala, and then Jason Kapono with a three-point lead instead of letting either of them get off a chance at a tying shot. While it’s clearly the right strategy, very few teams actually carry through with the play or execute it correctly.

76ers minus two

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

The Sixers are without starting point guard Lou Williams and power forward Elton Brand for Wednesday night’s game with the Celtics.

Williams suffered a fractured jaw in their game Tuesday with Washington, while Brand has been struggling with a sore hamstring. Rookie Jrue Holiday will start in place of Williams and Jason Smith gets the nod for Brand.

NBA ref scandal re-opened

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

The NBA referee gambling scandal was rekindled on Wednesday night when a source indicated that 13 NBA officials had contact with a reputed gambler, according to a report by WHDH-TV.

“Well, I just hope it’s not true,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said minutes after the report broke in Boston. “That’s all I can say on it.”

Former NBA official Tim Donaghy served 15 months in federal prison for admitting he worked with gamblers to provide tips on NBA games. The source told 7News on Wednesday that gambler Jimmy ‘The Sheep’ Battista implicated 13 other officials.

The first game Battista and Donaghy bet on together was the Celtics-76ers game in Dec. 2006 — a game Donaghy officiated and one the Celtics covered with ease. The source says Battista is making these claims as he works to finalize a tell-all book deal.

No TA quite yet

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

After indicating that guard Tony Allen could be ready to face the Philadelphia 76ers, head coach Doc Rivers said on Wednesday that his defensive specialist still wasn’t quite ready to make his 2009 debut after injuring his left ankle in the preseason.

“I don’t have a clue when,” Rivers said. ‘No relapse. I really don’t Just not ready to play yet. It’s getting closer.”

Allen played in just one preseason game – on Oct. 9 against the Knicks – and hasn’t played in game action since.

Celtics-76ers Preview

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Philadelphia has been riddled with mediocrity all season. The Celtics are fighting with it right now.

At 7:30 p.m., the Celtics (10-4) will play host to the 76ers (5-9) in a collision of two teams that have been struggling of late – though Philly’s struggles suggest more far-reaching problems than do Boston’s. Despite the skewed skill levels, records and anything else that might separate a 10th-place Philly team from a playoff-bound Boston club, Friday night’s game carries a decent amount of intrigue – especially from the Boston perspective.

Of late, the Celtics have seemingly lost some of the swagger that they displayed during a 6-0 start. After dropping two straight to the Hawks and Pacers, Boston seemed to get back on track against Golden State in what was a pretty convincing win. But another slip-up against the Magic and an overtime buzzer-beating win against the 3-10 Knicks have made it appear that the Celtics are not in sync.

Center Kendrick Perkins attributed it to a lack of focus. But regardless of what’s been plaguing them, the Celtics need to improve – and what better team to straighten things out against then the 76ers? (more…)

Danny Ainge on The Big Show

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Celtics Executive Director of Basketball Operations and GM Danny Ainge joined the Big Show on Tuesday to discuss the Celtics’ recent play, the development of Rajon Rondo, the three-point difficulties of Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett’s recovery from injury. To listen to the interview, visit the Big Show’s Audio On Demand page.

Do you think the team’s recent play has anything to do with the fact the players are getting older?

I don’t think so, no. I think our team has played well in a lot of scenarios and I just think that we haven’t been as consistent. But, shooting the ball accounts for a lot. We haven’t been hitting a lot of fairways but we have been hitting a lot of puts. Right now we are a shot of two shots away from winning these games and we have been shooting the ball very poorly from the outside.

You can’t be happy with the defense thus far though?

No, I have been happy with the defense we’ve played in a lot of the stretch but I think we get sloppy and we get lazy and we lose our focus a little bit. Defensively, statistically we were doing well defensively.

Two things that are worrying about Rondo: lack of defensive pressure at the point and that he is not breaking down the defense quite as much. Is this the same guy we saw last year?

I think he is playing better than last year. I think his defense is significantly better than last year. I think he is not getting to the line as much but I think part of that is that we are getting the ball inside more to our post players and not relying on his penetration as much but he is shooting a much better percentage than he did last year which says he is getting to the basket more, he is just not getting to the line more. (more…)

Tony Allen could return vs. Sixers

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

WALTHAM  –  Tony Allen might finally be given the go-ahead to make his 2009-10 debut.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said following Tuesday’s practice that Allen, a 27-year-old defensive specialist, might finally have enough confidence in his healed left ankle that he can play at full game speed.

“I think he’s very close, as close that he may play [Wednesday],” Rivers said. “But I don’t know the answer yet. Wait till [Wednesday] and see how he feels.

“Tony looked good today,” Rivers said. “I think with him, it’s going to be a confidence thing. [Monday], I didn’t think he looked good. Today, I thought he looked terrific. He was exploding to the basket.”

The Celtics could use his athleticism off the bench to match that of the young 76ers, pressuring their backcourt of Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala. Tony Allen played in just one preseason game, playing eight minutes against the Knicks on Oct. 9. He missed both shots from the floor and was held scoreless.