|Fast Break: Doc Rivers’ Clippers hand Celtics another reunion loss||12.11.13 at 9:57 pm ET|
Celtics fans thanked Doc Rivers with a standing ovation during a video tribute after the first quarter, and how did he repay his former organization? Guiding his Clippers to a 96-88 victory in his first game since leaving Boston.
Jeff Green (29 points), Brandon Bass (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Jordan Crawford (20 points, 9 assists) all had themselves a game against their former coach, but it wasn’t enough to help the Celtics avoid a second straight loss.
Not the greatest reunion week for the C’s, who drop to 10-14 and watch their Atlantic Division lead dwindle to a game over the idle Raptors.
WHAT WENT WRONG
The usuals: While the Celtics played stout defense, Clippers stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin got theirs, combining for 40 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists on the night. Meanwhile, the C’s held Los Angeles’ remaining three starters — Willie Green, Jared Dudley and DeAndre Jordan — to 22 points, 13 boards and two dimes. The strategy that probably wasn’t a strategy at all nearly worked.
Jump shoot: While Avery Bradley‘s jump shot has vastly improved since last season, Wednesday wasn’t his night. He didn’t connect on his first jumper until midway through the fourth quarter, although he did throw down this impressive one-handed alley-oop from Crawford early. His first connection from long distance, though, did give the Celtics a lead back after Los Angeles started the second half on a 15-4 run.
Benched: For the second straight night, Celtics coach Brad Stevens got little contribution from his second unit. With Kris Humphries nursing a bruised right knee and rookie Kelly Olynyk (ankle) missing his ninth straight game, Vitor Faverani was the lone big off the bench, and he put up zeroes again. The C’s reserves didn’t score their first points until Gerald Wallace‘s layup with 1:54 remaining in the third gave the C’s a 63-60 lead. And somehow Courtney Lee fouled out with all of zero points in the 15 minutes of action.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Steez: The legend of Crawford continues to grow with each passing game. Facing Paul, the best floor general in the business, Crawford held his own in the first half. The Celtics point guard entered the break with nine points, five assists and just one turnover — respectable numbers opposite Paul’s 15 points, three assists and two turnovers. Meanwhile, the C’s assisted on 12 of their 18 first-half field goals to take a 45-39 lead.
Motivation: Two of the Celtics most scorned by Doc’s departure, Green and Bass, came to play against their former coach. When Rivers left, admitting an unwillingness to go through another rebuilding process, that had to sting for the players left on the roster. Bass tallied his second double-double of the season in as many nights, and Green netted 20 points for the first time this month, including this monster dunk.
Defense: Through three quarters, the Celtics held the Clippers to 66 points on 43.1 percent shooting (40.9 percent in the first and 40.0 in the second), staying within two when the C’s themselves were shooting just 39.1 percent from the field. Los Angeles came into the game shooting 46.5 percent on the season and scoring 105.1 points per 100 possessions, both top-five marks in the league. Unfortunately for Boston, the aggressive defense led to 17 personal fouls and 34 free throws for Los Angeles (as opposed to 19 free throws for the C’s).
|Celtics pay video tribute to Doc Rivers||12.11.13 at 8:26 pm ET|
Between the first and second quarters of Wednesday night’s game between the Celtics and Clippers, Boston paid tribute to the coach who led the franchise to its 17th NBA championship with a video on the Jumbotron. He received a standing ovation from the Garden crowd. And the Celtics led 28-25 after one.
|Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett show Celtics love||12.10.13 at 10:38 pm ET|
Both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett spoke fondly of the Celtics in the aftermath of their new team’s 104-96 win over the organization that sent them to Brooklyn.
Paul Pierce: “I love those guys. They’re going to fight. That’s that Celtics pride. They all wear it with pride. You see it in the way they play, the way they’re coached. You hear [Rajon] Rondo on the sidelines coaching. They’re going to continue to be the Celtics, and they’re going to always play with pride.”
Kevin Garnett: “Because Doc [Rivers] isn’t there, it’s a little less emotional. You don’t see Danny [Ainge] sitting on the sidelines. You don’t see Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Eddie House, Baby [Glen Davis]. I see Rajon over there, which makes it a little more emotional at times. Obviously, I went to battle with BB [Brandon Bass], Jeff Green, Courtney Lee and a lot of those guys. Those are real solid guys that I know on that team. Other than that, it was another night in the office. They’ve been playing well. They beat the crap out of the Knicks. Obviously, we haven’t been playing well at home, so we wanted to come in and play well, but there will always be a special place in my heart when I face the green.”
One reunion down, one to go, as the Celtics host Rivers’ Clippers on Wednesday night.
|Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett win Celtics reunion||12.10.13 at 10:01 pm ET|
The pregame hoopla may have focused on Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce‘s first game against their former team, but Brook Lopez and Deron Williams stole the show on the court in Brooklyn’s 104-96 victory against the Celtics.
Williams (25 points) and Lopez (24 points) helped the Nets end the C’s three-game win streak and crawl within two games of Boston’s Atlantic Division lead. Garnett and Pierce combined for 15 points, 16 rebounds and six assists.
All five Celtics starters scored in double figures, led by Bradley’s 22 points. Brandon Bass (13 points, 11 rebounds) notched his first double-double of the season. Jeff Green added 19 points and six boards while Jared Sullinger and Jordan Crawford added 15 apiece. The Celtics fell to 10-13.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Babbling Brook: The Celtics had no answer for Lopez. The undersized frontcourt of Sullinger and Bass was no match for the 7-foot, 275-pound Lopez, who scored 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting through the first three quarters, when the Nets owned a 46-24 advantage in the paint and an 85-72 edge on the scoreboard. The Celtics made it a game in the final minutes, but couldn’t overcome a Nets lead as large as 17.
El Hombre Destructible: Celtics coach Brad Stevens attempted to counter Lopez with Vitor Faverani, but the Brazilian 7-footer finished minus-12 in four minutes with two personal fouls and zeroes across the stat sheet. In his last five games, Faverani is averaging 2.8 points and 1.5 rebounds. While Kelly Olynyk‘s return may help the front line, the C’s still won’t have a defender capable of matching up with a true center.
Bench press: Pierce came off the bench for just the fourth time in his career, anchoring a Brooklyn second unit that dominated their Celtics counterparts. While Pierce scored in the single digits, he added seven rebounds and three assists to give the Nets reserves a total of 22 points, 20 rebounds and six assists. Faverani, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries all struggled, as the Celtics bench totaled just 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Second helping: Often matched up with Williams, who missed the previous nine games with an ankle injury, Bradley torched the Nets point guard in the second quarter, scoring 12 of his 15 first-half points to help the Celtics remain within nine, 56-47, at halftime. Bradley has now reached double-digit scoring in 15 games, a number he didn’t reach until mid-March last season.
Triple threat: The Celtics made eight of their first 14 3-point attempts, including their first three tries of the third quarter to tie the game at 60-60. Bradley started 3-of-5, Green made his first two and Sullinger connected on his first two tries after halftime, as the C’s erased a 13-point first-half deficit 2:22 into the third quarter.
Old friends: As far as the reunion goes, this hug between Garnett and Rajon Rondo during a timeout said it all. This wasn’t exactly the cold shoulder routine KG gave Ray Allen last season.
KG greets his buddy Rondo during a timeout: pic.twitter.com/ZNi3GE4yRH
— Jay O (@MrTrpleDouble10) December 11, 2013
|Jordan Crawford named Player of the Week||12.09.13 at 3:18 pm ET|
Add this to the long list of things you never thought you’d read this NBA season (or ever, for that matter): Jordan Crawford, starting point guard for the first-place Celtics, earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors.
The C’s were the conference’s lone team to finish last week unbeaten, sweeping the Bucks, Nuggets and Knicks to improve their record to 10-12. Crawford averaged 23.3 points (61.0 FG%, 52.2 3P%), 6.7 assists and 3.0 rebounds.
- Celtics 108, Bucks 100: 25 points (season high), 5 assists, 2 rebounds
- Celtics 106, Nuggets 98: 22 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds
- Celtics 114, Knicks 73: 23 points (career-high six 3′s), 7 assists, 3 boards
Crawford beat out Pacers forward Paul George and Pistons teammates Andre Drummond and Brandon Jennings for the honor. Obviously, this is the first Player of the Week award of Crawford’s four-year career.
|Carmelo Anthony recruiting Rajon Rondo to Knicks?||12.06.13 at 9:55 am ET|
In an interview with USA Today’s Jason Jordan, Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy boys basketball coach Steve Smith, whose teams featured Rajon Rondo and Carmelo Anthony at the prep level, claimed the Knicks superstar is lobbying the Celtics point guard to join him in New York.
JJ: Are you confident that he’ll be just as good, if not better, coming off of the ACL tear?
SS: No, I think he should be fine. He took a long time off and he’s rehabbed the right way. Whether he stays in Boston or not who knows. I know, talking to Melo , he’s recruiting Rajon to come to New York. Melo thinks he’ll come, too. You never know about that stuff though. I think either way, Rajon will be fine.
Last month, New York Daily News writer Frank Isola reported the Knicks eyed Rondo as their “primary target” and attempted to package Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton and Amar’e Stoudemire in a deal for the three-time NBA All-Star — a preposterous proposal that Celtics president Danny Ainge said never reached his desk. Even if Ainge was willing to trade Rondo within the division, New York cannot currently trade a first-round pick earlier than 2018 and seemingly does not have the assets to acquire Rondo no matter how creative the offer.
Likewise, Rondo is signed through next season, when he could command a maximum contract on the free agent market, but the Celtics would be able to offer a significantly better deal than the Knicks should Ainge deem his rehabbing star a centerpiece worth building around. However, all of New York’s burdensome contracts, including Anthony’s, expire at the end of next season as well, so it’s not out of the question for the two former Oak Hill Academy stars to join forces. Rondo didn’t transfer to play for Smith until two years after Anthony graduated.
Of course, the NBA has strict rules against any form of tampering with players under contract for other teams.
|Pump the brakes on Rajon Rondo’s return||12.05.13 at 11:21 am ET|
Everybody can just pump the brakes on Rajon Rondo‘s imminent return.
After conflicting reports over the past week about whether or not Rondo has been cleared to return to practice 10 months after surgery to repair the ACL in his right knee, The Boston Globe’s Baxter Holmes is reporting that the Celtics point guard is not scheduled for a checkup with famed surgeon Dr. James Andrews for another two weeks. As a result, while Rondo has participated in limited practice work, he reportedly has not been cleared for full contact.
Likewise, in an interview up the dial, Celtics president Danny Ainge said Rondo would not return to the court for good until his knee is “back to 100 percent.”
“I don’t think he’s close,” Ainge said. “I don’t think it’s going to happen in the next few weeks. We’re not on pins and needles about it. We’re being very cautious with Rondo. He’s still got a little bit of a limp. He needs to get his strength back.”
So, if Rondo won’t be cleared for full contact until mid-December at the earliest and then must rehab his knee to full strength, it’s safe to assume we won’t see him in a Celtics uniform until 2014.
Meanwhile, the first-place C’s (8-12) have 11 games left on the December slate, and seven of them are against teams with better records. The other four — the Knicks (twice), Nets and Cavaliers — aren’t walkovers, either.
And things get worse in January. The Celtics visit the Bulls and host the Pelicans for a Jan. 2-3 back-to-back, and then face a brutal West Coast swing against the Thunder, Nuggets, Clippers, Warriors and Blazers from Jan. 5-11. If Rondo doesn’t return by then, the standings could look a whole lot different. After all, as SB Nation’s Paul Flannery noted, the C’s may own the No. 4 seed now, but they’re much closer to the East’s worst record (4.0 games up on the Bucks) than they are to the conference’s best mark (9.5 games behind the Pacers).