|Kevin Garnett: ‘I can be better, and I will be’||04.11.13 at 1:08 am ET|
In his first test since returning from a foot injury that cost him two weeks (he faced the Wizards on Sunday, but c’mon), Kevin Garnett didn’t live up to his own standards in a 101-93 loss to the Nets. If the Celtics have any hope in the playoffs, they need the Kevin Garnett that averaged 19.2 points and 10.3 rebounds in 36.9 minutes last postseason, and he doesn’t seem to be available with a week left in the regular season.
“Absolutely, I can be better, and I will be,” said Garnett. “I can be better in every part of my game. It’s not just one decisive thing. Obviously, my timing is off a little bit, and I’ll get that.”
Garnett has precious little time to get that timing down. The Celtics have four games remaining in the regular season, and coach Doc Rivers might elect to rest his aging superstars with the No. 7 seed all but wrapped up. (“Whatever Doc wants me to do,” said KG.) Still, that doesn’t seem to worry Garnett all that much.
“I think we’re focusing too much on the playoffs that aren’t here yet,” said Garnett, whose 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes didn’t reflect his performance. “I think we need to focus and lock in on these games that we have left, and put the energy and the effort behind that. I think we’re stressing too much on the future, and the future’s not here yet. We need to take this one game at a time and then prepare for whatever’s after this.”
|Fast Break: Nets cut down sluggish Celtics||04.10.13 at 9:43 pm ET|
The Nets ran the Celtics out of their own building, 101-94, but the Bucks bailed them out by losing in overtime to the lowly Magic. The C’s own a three-game advantage on Milwaukee with four games to play. Here’s what went wrong against the Nets, a tough matchup for the Celtics should they meet in the second round.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Worst first: In the opening quarter, the Nets committed three times as many turnovers (6) as they had assists (2). The Celtics held Brooklyn to 7-of-19 shooting, including an 0-for-3 frame from Williams. And somehow the C’s trailed 22-21 after one. The fact that everyone not named Brandon Bass or Paul Pierce combined to shoot 3-of-16 didn’t help. The Celtics had a chance to bury Brooklyn early. Instead, the opposite.
Garnett and Green: For different reasons, Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green struggled. Garnett seemed to be playing his way back into shape in his second game since missing two weeks with a foot injury, although he made 4-of-5 shots after finishing 1-for-6 from the floor in the first half. Meanwhile, Green got open looks but had an awful shooting night (4-17 FG). Easy rule of thumb: If scoring options 2 and 3 aren’t working, the Celtics are in trouble.
Foul mood: Avery Bradley picked up three fouls in the first half and his fourth 49 seconds into the second, and Williams took full advantage. Actually, he was the reason Bradley got into foul trouble in the first place. The Nets point guard continued his improved play since failing to make the All-Star roster for the first time since 2009, recording a double-double (29 points, 12 assists). Speaking of fouls, the Celtics didn’t attempt a free throw for almost 28 minutes (thanks to a heaping helping of jump shots). Somebody check on Tommy Heinsohn.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Super Bass: After averaging fewer than 10 points for the first five months of the season, Bass has scored in double digits in all five games this month. Heck, he practically reached that mark in the first quarter. Illustrating a more versatile offensive arsenal, he threw down a vicious two-handed dunk over Brook Lopez, knocked down an 18-foot jumper and showed off a creative post move on Reggie Evans on consecutive Celtics buckets in the opening frame. In an odd move, Celtics coach Doc Rivers opted not to play Bass for a lengthy second-half stretch while Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries of all people grabbed rebound after rebound.
Living Wilcox: Likewise, the C’s nearly had to file a missing persons report on Chris Wilcox, who hasn’t been the same since injuries to his thumb and alley-oop partner Rajon Rondo‘s knee. For the second straight game, Shavlik Randolph was the first big off the bench, and for the second straight game, Wilcox played like his playoff minutes depended on it. After all, he’s never participated in the NBA’s postseason. Eighty percent of his shots have come within 2 feet of the basket, and Wednesday was no different, but at least he earned those buckets.
Truth handles: While many of the Celtics regulars struggled — and frankly turned in a preseason performance — Pierce (23 points) plodded his way through another stellar effort. After citing the “chippiness” between the two teams, Pierce probably had this game circled on his calendar. He scored 13 points on four shots in the third quarter alone. While the lead continued to slip away from the C’s as the game wore on, Pierce at least gave them a fighter’s chance, even if he was the only one fighting.
|Brandon Bass posterizes Brook Lopez||04.10.13 at 9:11 pm ET|
|Irish Coffee: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett trade rumors return||04.10.13 at 12:26 pm ET|
With the trade deadline long gone and the Celtics positioning themselves for another playoff run, just when you thought it was safe to table the discussion of trading veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Marc J. Spears reminds everyone that their departure is a very real possibility in the near future.
These two names were certainly hot before the trade deadline. A lot of people were wondering if Garnett might go to the Clippers or Paul might get moved. If something’s going to happen with either one of them or both of them, the summer is a better time for that, because you’re not in a rush. There’s no real big deadline. You can think about it. Even draft night is a possibility.
Keep in mind, Pierce has one more year left on his deal. Pierce is still a valuable player, still a dynamic player. Keep an eye on a team like the Clippers. Not so much even for Garnett, but for Pierce, because if the Clippers stumble in the first or second round, I think that small forward position is something that they could use. They need maybe that No. 3 scorer or even that No. 2 scorer to kind of get them over the hump and be in the elite. He’s from L.A., so I don’t think Danny Ainge is going to send him to Minnesota. He’s going to send him somewhere that he would be happy with, and I’m sure Paul probably thinks he he could get an extension with a team like the Clippers.
But the problem with trading Garnett is — no matter where it is, even if it was Miami — he could potentially retire. He’s not a guy who wants a change, and he’s a guy who’s big on commitment. It would have to be a place where you’d have to have some stars that could convince him, but, to me, I think Pierce is probably the more likely guy if either of the two are to get moved in the offseason.
While speculation resumes about their future, Pierce and Garnett focus on preparing for the playoffs. The two spoke at length about developing consistency in a year full of inconsistencies. Here are the highlights.
|Paul Pierce doesn’t see Brittney Griner making NBA||04.09.13 at 2:59 pm ET|
While Mavericks owner Mark Cuban claimed he might select Baylor women’s basketball sensation Brittney Griner in the second round of this June’s NBA draft and Heat wing Shane Battier suggested a woman will make the league in his lifetime, Celtics captain Paul Pierce doesn’t foresee either scenario playing out anytime soon.
“I think it will be a little difficult, just because of the physicality of the sport,” said Pierce, who has watched the many highlights of Griner. “The men are much faster, much stronger and much more athletic. Will it happen one day? I don’t know. They have a women’s league, where they are the best women in the world. Honestly, I can’t tell you if I can see a woman right now playing in the NBA. Not in the next couple of years. No.”
The 6-foot-8 senior set NCAA women’s career records for dunks and blocks, won the national title as a junior and claimed her second straight Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year trophy this season.
“If she is the best on the board, I will take her,” Cuban told reporters before a game last week.
Added Battier: “There’s no doubt that in our lifetime, there will be a woman NBA player.”
As usual, Celtics coach Doc Rivers did a better dancing around the issue than anyone.
“If I find a green man walking down the street and I think he can rebound, I’m going to draft him,” he told reporters prior to Friday’s loss to the Cavaliers. “So, I don’t think anyone cares. Obviously, it would make a huge story and it would be really cool. I just don’t know the answer. I don’t watch it enough to know, but it would be great.”
Perhaps Pierce and Griner should play a game of 1-on-1 to settle this NBA debate once and for all.
|Jeff Green and Paul Pierce: ‘We’re two lethal threats’||04.04.13 at 1:19 am ET|
He’s been downright dominant offensively in 11 spot starts for a resting Paul Pierce and an injured Kevin Garnett, so come playoff time, all three should be in the starting lineup. Even Celtics coach Doc Rivers seemed to concede that it’s “very possible” Green and Pierce start on the wings once Garnett returns.
“We’re playing off each other,” said Green, who scored 34 points to go with Pierce’s 17 in a 98-93 win over a Pistons team that had no matchup answers. “We’re two lethal threats on the perimeter and in the low post, so teams have to make a decision on how they want to play us. Either one of us is going to have a nice matchup.”
Added Pierce: “You’ve seen a lot of flashes of that this year. A lot of teams come into these games really focused on what I’m trying to do in the scouting report. When you’ve got a guy like Jeff who can put up big numbers like that and take over a game, it’s fun. It’s fun to watch and be a part of.”
In the final 9:06 of a game that shouldn’t have been so close, Pierce and Green scored 17 straight points until a pair of Jason Terry free throws sealed the deal in the final seconds. Green scored 11 of the C’s final 13 points. But don’t confuse his aggressiveness in Garnett’s absence a passing of the torch just yet.
“I’m not trying to take over games,” said Green, who added five boards and four blocks. “That’s why we’ve got The Truth. I’m playing off of him. We’re looking for each other. We’re being aggressive. If it’s in my hands, I’m trying to make a play. If it’s in his hands, he’s going to make a play, so we’ve just got to play off each other.”
|Fast Break: Jeff Green drives Celtics over Pistons||04.03.13 at 10:14 pm ET|
Jeff Green scored a game-high 34 points — including a dagger 3-pointer with 45 seconds left — Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass each added 17, and the Kevin Garnett-less Celtics beat the Pistons, 98-93. A 76ers loss locked the C’s into the playoffs, and a Bucks loss gave them a 2.5-game cushion over the eight seed.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Slump busting: In an attempt to emerge from his recent shooting struggles, Avery Bradley came out firing for the second straight game, and it’s working. He made 6-of-11 jumpers against the Timberwolves on Monday in his highest-scoring night since March 5. And he followed that up with a 5-of-6 night on jump shots against the Pistons. In his 13 previous games, Bradley made just 22-of-70 attempts (30 percent) from beyond 10 feet.
Green Day: Once again, Green shined in his seventh straight start for the injured Garnett. He entered Wednesday’s game averaging 21.4 points (55 FG%), 5.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals in 10 starts this season. He added six rebounds and four blocks to his 34 points on 13-of-19 shooting against the Pistons. Five-man Celtics units featuring Green were a combined plus-152, and all but one of them were in the black, according to 82games.com’s most recent updated on March 21.
Defending their honor: Somehow, the Celtics lost their two previous games to Detroit this season by a combined 35 points, allowing 103 points each time. This time around, sans Garnett, the C’s held the Pistons to 36.6 percent shooting (16.7 3P%), as pitbulls Bradley and Courtney Lee held Detroit’s starting backcourt to 7-of-26 from the field. Of course, Bass’s 17 points on eight shots and seven boards didn’t hurt, either.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Paint job: The Pistons scored their first 12 points in the paint. Here’s how it went down: Andre Drummond from 6 feet, Greg Monroe layup, Kyle Singler layup, Drummond layup, Monroe layup and Rodney Stuckney layup. Not good. Detroit out-rebounded the C’s 8-0 on the offensive glass (Drummond 5), scored 18-of-30 first-quarter points in the key and took a five-point edge on Monroe’s eight points, four rebounds and three assists. Also not good. When all was said and done, Detroit outscored the Celtics 58-28 in the paint.
Sloppy second half: With 3:49 left in the third quarter, the Celtics took a 74-56 lead on Chris Wilcox‘s one and only bucket. That’s the good news. The bad: The Pistons closed the third quarter on an 11-0 run thanks to nine points from Monroe and Jonas Jerebko. When Jerebko (19 points) converted a 3-point play to start the fourth quarter, the C’s 18-point lead was trimmed to four, and the teams had themselves a ballgame.
Extra chances: The Celtics shot 50.7 percent from the field. The Pistons shot 36.6 percent. So, how in the heck was it a three-point game midway through the fourth quarter? Turnovers, for one. The C’s committed 16 of them, leading to 20 Detroit points. And offensive rebounds. The Pistons grabbed almost as many offensive boards (25) as defensive (27), giving the visitors 22 more shots for the game.