Archive for May, 2010

The trouble with Dwight

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

ORLANDO — Dwight Howard has been causing the Celtics major problems throughout the series and not just with his defense and rebounding. His elbows have also become cause for concern, specifically the elbow the knocked out Glen Davis in the third quarter of Game 5.

“Yeah, I didn’t know that was legal, but anyway, he did,” Doc Rivers said. “But listen, he’s a physical guy. We know that and he should be. That is his gift. Honestly, that is his gift. So he’s doing what he should do and we’ve just got to do a better job of taking the hits, I guess.”

A foul by Howard against Kevin Garnett in Game 4 was upgraded to a Flagrant 1, the league announced prior to the start of Game 5. In the aftermath, Garmett was hit with a technical foul in a game the Celtics lost in overtime.

Earlier in Game 5, Howard shoved Garnett in the back but there was no call. Rivers was seen having an animated conversation with official Joey Crawford during the next timeout and there is no question that Howard’s physical play has been a source of frustration for the Celtics throughout the series.

“We’re just trying to win,” Howard said. “Our intent is not hurt anybody out there, but basketball is a very physical sport. You’re playing against a very physical and tough team in the Boston Celtics.”

Three things that went wrong and right in Game 5

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

The Celtics knew they had to overcome the Magic’€™s pick-and-roll in order to win the series. But after a disastrous Game 5 loss,  they have added a possible suspension, two concussions, and failed perimeter defense to the list.

In a snapshot: Kendrick Perkins was ejected after being whistled for a pair of technical fouls and could be suspended, Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels suffered concussions, and the Magic drained nearly 15 3-pointers.

The Celtics, who were on the verge of sweeping just days ago, are headed back to Boston after dropping two straight to the Magic.

Three things what went wrong (and they went so, so wrong)

Possible suspension for Perk: Kendrick Perkins was whistled for two technical fouls in the first half, resulting in an automatic ejection. The bigger problem is he was called for his seventh T of the postseason, an automatic one-game suspension. However, since the league does review technical fouls, one or both could be rescinded and Perkins could play on Friday night in Game 6.

Magic struck first: The Celtics have maintained the entire postseason that the key to winning on the road is striking first. But by the end of the first quarter, their initial 5-0 lead was a distant memory. The Celtics were outscored 31-22 from that point on, giving up 15 points from behind the arc. All of the Magic starters scored at least three points, while Kevin Garnett did not attempt a single field goal. The Magic fought for their shots, outrebounding the Celtics 12-7, and was more efficient at finding the open man (7-4 assists). The C’€™s allowed the Magic — and their home crowd — into the game early and were never able to kick them out.

Perimeter D disappears: The C’€™s knew what they were up against at the start of the series. ‘€œTheir shooting is what has always given us problems,’€ said Ray Allen. ‘€œTheir 3-pointer, we’€™ve got to take that away from them.’€ Tony Allen echoed, ‘€œConsidering they’€™re a team that shoots a gang of 3’s feeding off of Dwight Howard who’€™s very dominant in the post, we’€™re going to have to be ready. No if, ands and no buts.’€ The Celtics were ready in the first four games, holding the Magic to just 31 percent from 3-point range. But their perimeter defense imploded in Game 5. The Magic scored 39 points from long-range off of 52 percent shooting.

Three things that went right (well, not so bad)

Rondo bounced back: Questions of injuries buzzed around Rajon Rondo following a poor performance in Game 4. But whether it was muscle spasms or just an off night, Rondo was more effective offensively in Game 5. He scored 19 points, 10 more than in the previous game in six less minutes. It wasn’€™t his finest showing of the playoffs, but it showed he is back on the right track.

Robinson was reliable: Doc Rivers has said Nate Robinson will win the Celtics a playoff game. Robinson didn’€™t pull off the feat, but he was effective. With Rondo in foul trouble and Tony Allen benched for most of the game with a twisted ankle, Rivers turned to Robinson in the second half. He defended the point well, scored five points in six minutes, and even blocked Dwight Howard’€™s shot.

Celtics are going home: The Celtics didn’€™t want to have to play a Game 6 in Boston (they didn’€™t want to play a Game 5 in Orlando in the first place), but they are returning to their homecourt as they look to finish things up. The C’€™s are 6-2 at TD Garden during the postseason. Records aside, they have to take advantage of the energy the Celtics home crowd is sure to provide on Friday night.

Perk gets seventh technical, could face suspension

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

ORLANDO — Kendrick Perkins received two technical fouls in the first half of Game 5 against the Magic and was ejected. Perkins now has been called for seven technical fouls during the playoffs, which by rule is an automatic one-game suspension. The NBA does review technical fouls and could rescind one of the two that he was assigned in Game 5.

Perkins received a double technical earlier in the game along with Marcin Gortat and then got his second from official Eddie F. Rush after he argued a foul call and then ran down the court.

Somewhat ironically, Doc Rivers addressed the matter of technical fouls and suspensions before the game because Dwight Howard is one flagrant foul away from an automatic suspension.

“We have a lot of guys who are closer to the number, we’re more concerned with them,” Rivers said. “I actually don’t like the rule, the suspension. I just don’t like it. I think the longer you are in the playoffs the more likely it’s going to affect your team. I think the fans want to see the best players on the floor. I just don’t agree with the whole suspension thing.”

Rivers said that he has talked to Perkins about his technicals and he also raised an interesting issue regarding double technicals.

“It’s the double tech thing that has to be resolved,” Rivers said. “Sometimes the officials are just trying to clean the game up and an easy way to do it is give both guys techs and calm the game down. To me, those are the ones that we have to figure out a better way.”

1st Half Summary: Celtics vs. Magic Game 5

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

The first half was what the Celtics feared all along coming into this Eastern Conference final series.

Down 3-0, the Magic looked ice cold from long range, couldn’t get Dwight Howard going and couldn’t start their patented fast break start with Howard blocking shots.

All three came to life in scary fashion in the first half as the Magic drilled 9-of-15 from 3-point range while Dwight Howard had five blocks and 10 points. J.J. Redick was huge again off the bench with a team-high 11.

All of it added up to a 57-49 Orlando lead at the break.

The last thing Doc Rivers and his defensive wizard Tom Thibodeau wanted the Eastern Conference finals to turn into was a three-for-all.

That’s exactly what happened in the first half, as the Magic raced out to a 14-point lead thanks to early foul trouble by the Celtics.

And worst of all, Kendrick Perkins was ejected by official Eddie F. Rush on a questionable call. It’s also his 7th of playoffs, which will disqualify him for a Game 6. Perkins picked up a foul on Dwight Howard with 36.1 seconds remaining in the second quarter. He was flabbergasted and ran away from Rush toward mid-court and Rush decided that it was behavior that deemed a second technical of the game, an automatic ejection.

Meanwhile Paul Pierce, with a game-high 16 in the first half, passed the 2,000-mark in career postseason points. The Celtics captain became the 9th player in franchise history to do it.

The eight others, Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Kevin McHale, Sam Jones, Robert Parish, Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn, and Bill Cousy, are all in the Hall of Fame.

Ian Thomsen on D&H: Celtics will prevail

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Sports Illustrated columnist Ian Thomsen appeared on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday afternoon to discuss Rajon Rondo, the Celtics-Magic series, and the future for LeBron James.

When asked about any rift that may have existed between Rondo and his teammates, Thomsen said, “I think they like him now because he’s so darn good. They appreciate now the stubbornness and the pride he has, because he backs it up. I have a feeling a lot of whatever tension was there, it was all about basketball. And look, you don’t get to act like you’re this good until you show us you’re this good, and now he’s shown it and he’s getting paid the way they’re getting paid.”

Below is a transcript. To hear the full interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Do you think you jinxed the Celtics after putting Rajon Rondo on the cover?

When I told Doc last week that they looked like they were going to be on the cover he replied with a grimace, let’s put it that way. And then originally the story was supposed to be Jameer Nelson and [Rajon] Rondo, it was supposed to be about the matchup, but, you know, the Magic were stinking up the joint, so you couldn’t write about them.

It was all about Rondo, and I went up to Joel Glass [the PR guy for the Magic] after the last game in their locker room after they won, and I said, “Sorry, I obviously couldn’t get Jameer into the story.” He said, “That’s OK, just put Rondo on the cover,” and I said, “Well we are putting him on the cover,” and the guy was rejoiced and he was shouting to everybody in the locker room, “Hey they’re putting Rondo on the cover, they killed Shaq [O’Neal] two weeks ago and now we’re going to kill Rondo.” It’s supposed to be one of the great honors in sports, and it’s kind of like a double-edged sword. (more…)

Howard foul upgraded to Flagrant

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

ORLANDO — The NBA announced that they have upgraded a personal foul called on Dwight Howard from Game 4 to a Flagrant 1. The play occurred when Howard hit Kevin Garnett in the face. Garnett became angry and was hit with a technical foul.

“That’s their decision,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said prior to Game 5. “[Howard] got a rebound and pivoted.” Howard now has two points in the so-called Flagrant Foul bank. A third would lead to an automatic one-game suspension.

Not surprisingly, Doc Rivers had a different reaction. “I thought it was a flagrant,” he said. “The bottom line whenever you throw elbows above the head, it’s going to be called a flagrant. I didn’t think that surprising. I actually don’t like the suspension rule. The longer you’re in the playoffs the more likely it’s going to affect your team.”

Rondo brushes off injury talk

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

ORLANDO — As he did after Game 4, Rajon Rondo dismissed talk that he was dealing with any kind of a serious injury. “I’m feeling better,” he said before the team’s shootaround. “I’m fine. Nothing to worry about. I’ll be playing.”

The team said that Rondo had a muscle spasm during Game 4, but Rondo refused to use that as an excuse after he scored just nine points, to go with eight assists, while Jameer Nelson scored 23 points in the Magic’s win. “I’ve just got to play better,” he said after the game.

The Magic used Nelson on a variation on their high pick and roll by having Rashard Lewis set a screen that led into another screen with Dwight Howard. Nelson repeatedly got into the lane against the Celtics and had nine assists. He also was able to get Howard several dunks on lobs once the defense committed.

The Celtics will have to come up with a counter to that for Game 5 and it will have to start with a healthy Rondo.