|Danny Ainge: Wednesday victory over Pacers ‘was a good win’||03.07.13 at 8:10 pm ET|
Making his weekly appearance on ‘The Big Show’ Thursday afternoon, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge discussed a number of topics, including that fact that Wednesday night’s dramatic win over the Pacers in Indiana was one of the best of the season for the Celtics. (To hear the entire interview, check out The Big Show audio on demand page.)
“Last night was a good win for us — obviously, to hang in there and score the last 11 points of the game …. I don’t think we played particularly well throughout the course of the game, but they really [ground] it out. It look like when we came all the way back and tied it up, and then they went out and hit those three straight 3′s to go up nine, that was not looking promising, but you’ve got to credit Doc. He called a quick time out, got the guys reorganized, went on a couple of runs ourselves in that last fourth quarter stretch and executed perfectly on that last play.”
On the last play–did you know what was coming? “No, I actually thought it was going to be with Avery holding the ball, I thought it was going to be a KG and Paul pindown for Paul to catch and curl and make a play in the free-throw line area. Or, for Paul to catch and then set a quick pick-and-roll — a step-up pick-and-roll with KG … most likely leading to a KG jumpshot at the elbow. That’s what it looked like the formation was set up to be when Avery was holding the ball.”
When is last time time this team set up a play for a last-second shot for someone like Jeff Green? That shows me that they’re trusting and starting to grow with Jeff. “Yeah, I think — by the way that wasn’t a great pass by KG. But it was a great catch. So there was … we had run a play in Utah that we had we sort of botched that turned into a Paul Pierce stepback jumper that we normally see. But that wasn’t what the play was called, and it was poorly executed. There are going to be times where … like the play that was called there was for Jeff. That was sort of the first option on the play. But had it not worked — good defense will sniff that out. What happened was David West, who was guarding Jeff, reached for the ball, tried to pike it away from KG as he ran by, and was completely blindsided by the screen that Paul set. And of course, Paul’s man is not going to come off the body and that allowed the play to happen too. So it was great execution, it was poor defense. We’ll take it.”
On the importance of getting home court and a home seed down the stretch: “I think that it’s secondary to health and rest and freshness. Nothing is more important than fresh bodies. We see what happened with KG when he has a few days off and how he’s responded. It’s not a perfect science; you can’t predict it. The temptation is to continue to grind and push and fight for every win. I personally — I’ll let Doc make these decisions — but between Doc, KG and I, we’ll try to figure it out. We have to trust KG to talk to us, and I think that he is more willing to do that than he ever has in his career. I think he’s wiser and sort of gets it. So I think we need to figure out what’s best for him. And not just for him but for Paul. Paul has been playing with a sore neck — when we went in a really bad stretch after winning six in a row and I saw every day during that stretch just really in pain. And as we started, I don’t think it was a coincidence that Paul started feeling a lot better. So I think those are two guys — and Jason Terry. I think with the addition of Jordan Crawford, Doc doesn’t have to ride him as much, and we can really save him for when he’s big, like he was last night. Last night, he was big at both ends of the court down the stretch. He’s a guy who is experienced and completely unafraid of any moment.”
|Celtics find themselves with second straight road victory, beating Philadelphia||03.05.13 at 9:48 pm ET|
The Celtics took a step toward turning over a new leaf with a convincing road victory Tuesday night, beating the Sixers, 109-101, in Philadelphia. It improved the Celts to 11-18 away from TD Garden this season, and marked just the second time Boston has claimed back-to-back road victories.
The Celts, who had lost six of their last seven games in Philly, slowly built their lead, having held a 53-46 halftime lead. While the Sixers had been slumping, losing eight of their last nine games, had claimed 17 of their 23 victories this season at home.
Leading the way for the Celtics’ offense was Avery Bradley, who scored 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor.
Contributing off the bench for the C’s, who finished shooting 50 percent from the floor, were Jeff Green (16 points), and newly-acquired Jordan Crawford, who added 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor. The C’s also moved to 18-4 when scoring over 100 points.
The Celtics did commit a season-high 22 turnovers, this after turning the ball over just twice in the first quarter.
|Danny Ainge: Big part of the second half involves getting Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce healthy||02.28.13 at 5:24 pm ET|
In his weekly appearance on “The Big Show” Thursday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge talked about a variety of topics, including why Boston didn’t make more deals at the trade deadline and the health of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Ainge was asked as to whether he was concerned at all about the fatigue level of Pierce and Garnett, the latter of whom sat out Friday’s game against the Suns.
“Yes, I always am. Paul and KG have been incredibly durable throughout their entire careers,” Ainge said. “They take good care of themselves, but I do think that they need rest. If we have any chance of winning playoff basketball games, we need those guys fresh, healthy. Paul’s neck thing I think comes and goes, but there was a stretch I think when we were in that losing streak, I actually think that might have been one of the biggest factors. Paul was not 100 percent and yet he continued to play. That’s just who Paul is.
“I think Doc is determined to cut those guys’ minutes down now that we have a little bit more depth on the bench and we get some more bodies in here. That’s a big part of the second half of the season — getting them healthy.”
Ainge also talked about the remarkable run of LeBron James, calling him the “best player in our game today, without question. When it’s all said and done, he could be one of the best players of all time.”
“He’s one of those guys, the first time I ever saw him, in the first five minutes, I questioned whether he could be one of the best basketball players who ever lived,’ recalled Ainge. “And he was 17 years old at the time and he had a similar body — he’s probably 10 or 15 pounds heavier now, but he was so gifted, because he not only could shoot, pass and dribble, but he was the smartest guy on the court. The most intense guy on the court. The most unselfish guy on the court.
“I’ve been one of those people who know that LeBron is not perfect, and he’s been under the microscope since he’s been a young man. I think he’s done a pretty good job handling all this stuff and he continues to get better. Now, people are having to have the conversation about him and Michael Jordan. I think it’s still too early, but he’s getting better. And like Michael, now he’s starting to make mid-range jump shots, 3-point shots, and he’s virtually unguardable with one person. You need two and three people to guard him. If he’s making shots, you just have to tip your cap and pray that he misses.”
Here are some more highlights of the Q&A:
Read the rest of this entry »
|Happy flight: Paul Pierce, Celtics knock off Jazz in overtime||02.26.13 at 12:08 am ET|
The Celtics bounced back from a loss in Portland on Sunday night to close out a challenging five-game Western Conference swing with a victory in Utah, claiming a 110-107 win in overtime against the Jazz. Paul Pierce broke a 99-99 tie with a 3-pointer, the first of his three consecutive baskets in overtime that put the Celtics in control of the game’s final minutes. Kevin Garnett added four points in overtime, and Courtney Lee helped to ice the game with a pair of free throws with one second left on the clock. Randy Foye‘s attempt to tie the game with a last-second 3-pointer missed the mark, permitting the Celtics to close out their road trip with a 2-3 mark to start the second half.
The strong overtime period continued a roller-coaster second half in which the Celtics outscored the Jazz 32-19 in the third quarter, only to see the Jazz go on a 13-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter that gave Utah an 85-82 lead. However, the Celtics recovered in time to send the game into overtime in a 97-97 deadlock. Pierce missed a chance to give Boston the win when he could not convert a turnaround jumper at the end of regulation, but he made up for the miss by taking over in overtime.
Pierce led the Celtics with 26 points while adding seven rebounds and eight assists. Garnett added 13 points and 10 boards, while Avery Bradley tallied 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 26 points.
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|Celtics continue road sputter in Portland with loss to Blazers||02.24.13 at 11:40 pm ET|
The Celtics lost for the third time in four games since the All-Star break, falling to Portland, 92-86. Though Boston erased an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit with a 12-4 run that resulted in a Kevin Garnett game-tying layup with 1:46 to go, Damian Lillard responded with a three-point play on a layup just 14 seconds later that put the Blazers ahead for good, as Portland went on to snap its seven-game losing streak.
Guard Wesley Matthews posted 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting to lead the Blazers, though Portland’s dominance on the boards proved a difference-maker. Portland grabbed 47 rebounds, 11 more than the Celtics corralled.
In defeat, the Celtics were led by Paul Pierce (23 points) and Garnett (20 points), but the team lacked offensive production from the rest of its rotation. Celtics newcomer Jordan Crawford was held scoreless in 12 minutes, missing all four of his shots.
The Celtics fell to 1-3 on their current Western Conference swing, and now face a need to bounce back on Monday in Utah before heading back home. The Celtics are 9-18 on the road this year.
For a complete recap, click here.
|Getting the start for Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green leads Celtics past Suns||02.23.13 at 7:00 am ET|
Green scored 31 points on 11-for-14 shooting from the floor, with Chris Wilcox, Avery Bradley and Jason Terry each chipping in which 13 points. Newly-acquired Jordan Crawford netted 10 points in in his Celtics debut.
“Jeff was phenomenal,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters. “We started the game running a set we had never run in our lives. We literally drew it up right before the game. They just had the basketball IQ to keep working and they actually showed us options we didn’t know we had.”
Green was starting in place of Kevin Garnett, who was getting the night off with the Celtics playing their third game in four nights. The forward’s performance also helped make up for Paul Pierce’s night, with the Celtics’ captain scoring just eight points on 3-of-5 shooting.
The Celtics, who held a 53-41 advantage at halftime, led by as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter.
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|As trade deadline approaches, Celtics get blown out by Lakers||02.21.13 at 1:14 am ET|
The Celtics gave up 36 first-quarter points to the Lakers, and their defense remained porous for the rest of the night in a 113-99 loss in Los Angeles. The defeat, which came with just over 12 hours left until the NBA trade deadline, was the second in as many games at the start of a five-game trip against Western Conference teams.
Dwight Howard was dominant in the post for the Lakers, hitting 10-of-13 shots en route to 24 points and 12 rebounds, including seven on the offensive glass. Howard and Earl Clark (14 points, 15 rebounds) gave Los Angeles a huge advantage on the boards, with a 48-34 advantage on the glass. Seven Lakers finished the night in double figures in a well-balanced attack that consistently found clear lanes to the bucket against the Celtics.
The Celtics now have two days to regroup before they face the Suns in Phoenix. Given the uncertainty inherent in the hours leading up to the trade deadline, it remains to be seen what the composition of the team will be when it next takes the floor.