|Fast Break: Ray Allen, Heat set Celtics ablaze||10.30.12 at 10:49 pm ET|
Just as we last saw them, the Celtics left Miami wondering how in the hell they’ll beat the Heat.
Only this time, Ray Allen reigned jumpers for the home team. After watching his new teammates receive their NBA championship rings as part of the opening night festivities, Allen scored 19 points in a 120-107 win against his old ones. Fellow fresh face Rashard Lewis (10 points) inflicted some pain as well, and LeBron James (26 points, 10 rebounds), Dwyane Wade (29 points) and Chris Bosh (19 points, 10 rebounds) did their usual damage.
Celtics captain Paul Pierce registered a team-high 23 points, Rajon Rondo (20 points, 13 assists, 7 rebounds and 1 flagrant foul) and Brandon Bass (15 points, 11 rebounds) recorded double-doubles, and Leandro Barbosa (16 points) reached double figures off the bench, but the defense couldn’t cool Miami on the other end — even after a 16-3 run cut the lead to two late in the fourth quarter. Here’s what else happened:
|Irish Coffee: 18 milestones 2012-13 Celtics will eclipse||10.30.12 at 5:13 pm ET|
Before the Celtics renew their rivalry with the Heat in Miami on Tuesday night and both teams begin their march toward what seems like an almost inevitable second straight Eastern Conference finals showdown, let’s predict 18 franchise and NBA milestones the C’s will eclipse during the 2012-13 season.
18. Considering he totaled 620 assists in just 53 games last season, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will shatter his own single-season franchise record for assists (794) and pass Bill Russell for fifth on the C’s career assists list. In doing so, he could become the first NBA player since the turn of the century to average 12 assists per game.
17. Kevin Garnett will score his 6,000th point in a Celtics uniform, passing Ray Allen (5,987) for 21st on the franchise scoring list. He should also surpass 3,000 rebounds, 1,000 assists, 400 steals and 400 blocks in green and white before the year is through, climbing a few more rungs on his ladder to the rafters.
16. Five ways Celtics captain Paul Pierce piles even more cement on his franchise legacy: 1) If he plays all 82, he’ll surpass Robert Parish by a single contest for second behind John Havlicek on the C’s career games played list; 2) If Pierce plays 2,941 minutes, which he did in 2008-09, he’ll pass Russell for second behind Hondo; 3) If he takes his usual 1,000-plus field goal attempts, he’ll pass Larry Bird for second behind Hondo; 4) If he makes 500, he’ll pass Parish for third behind Bird; and 5) Like Rondo, Pierce will pass Russell for fourth in career C’s assists.
15. When the Celtics win their 53rd game of the year — topping Bovada’s over/under of 50.5 — Doc Rivers passes Tommy Heinsohn for second behind Red Auerbach among coaches on the franchise’s career wins list.
|NBA Power Rankings, 2012-13||10.29.12 at 7:19 pm ET|
It’s almost Halloween, another NBA season is upon us and the league’s landscape changed once again, but the Celtics are title contenders and so too are their most heated rivals. Let’s get right to the 2012-13 debut of our semi-regular NBA power rankings. Here’s the wrinkle: What’s the scariest aspect about each team this year?
1. Miami: LeBron James set the Celtics, Thunder and entire world on fire during his run to a first NBA championship and second gold medal, proving doubters wrong in every corner of the globe (including this cubicle). And he and the Heat only seemed to figure it out midway through the Eastern Conference finals, which means they could be even better, especially with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis in tow.
2. L.A. Lakers: A starting five of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard is terrifying, but so is their bench. The Lakers won’t get 82 games from any of those starters, so how close each comes to that number will determine if they can unseat the Thunder beyond arbitrary power rankings.
3. Oklahoma City: After reaching the NBA finals last season, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook got their first taste of what it will take to earn the Larry O’Brien trophy, so they’ll be hungrier than ever. They’ll just have to set the table for Kevin Martin coming off the bench instead of returning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden.
4. Boston: If the Celtics can reach Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on grit and balls alone, imagine what they can do with a rotation deeper than six. Once Avery Bradley returns, coach Doc Rivers can go 12 deep and weather most injury storms, which have been downright Hurricane Sandy-esque in recent years.
5. San Antonio: Before losing four straight to OKC in the Western Conference finals, the Spurs won 20 straight and 31-of-33. That’s the value of a deep roster. But I’m still buying more stock in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo & Co. than Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili & Tony Parker Inc.
|Irish Coffee: Don’t forget about Paul Pierce||10.29.12 at 12:18 pm ET|
Paul Pierce has been an afterthought this Celtics camp. Well, you know, as much as the captain and face of the NBA’s most storied franchise — and one of the league’s few legit title contenders — can remain in the shadows.
Think about it. The summer began with the return of Kevin Garnett, whose arrival five years ago saved a team relegated to mediocrity for two decades. And it ended with the emergence of Rajon Rondo, who grabbed the reins for the next 10 years. In between, Ray Allen spurned the Celtics, who in turn made their own headlines: Drafting Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph; adding Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jason Collins, Darko Milicic and Leandro Barbosa; re-signing Brandon Bass; and restoring Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox.
Meanwhile, Pierce quietly shared a family photo at the beach here or a picture of his workout routine there. After all, he too rehabbed from injury — a sprained left MCL this past June that may have meant the difference between a Game 7 loss to the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals and a third NBA finals appearance in five seasons.
Heck, Pierce had to share his 35th birthday on Oct. 13 with C’s coach Doc Rivers, who turned 51 the same day. Even his admission to potentially retiring or requesting a trade had Garnett not returned barely moved the needle, as they say. Such is the life now of the 10-time NBA All-Star entering his 15th season for the same franchise.
|Jason Terry on Celtics: ‘We’re legit; we are for real’||10.28.12 at 4:44 pm ET|
On Celtics-Heat rivalry: ‘I’ll never forget ‘05-06 for me [when the Heat beat his Mavericks in Game 6 of the 2006 NBA finals]. I should be a two-time champion right now, but it wasn’t so. I’ll never forget that feeling, walking off that court in Game 6 in Dallas, when the confetti dropped on our head. I like to remember winning the championship, but what sticks in my mind more than anything is when we lost. I’ve gotta believe it’s a feeling similar to what Boston felt last year in Game 7, so I come right into the rivalry, I’m yearning for it and that’s game No. 1. Whether it was Miami or somebody else, it’s just basketball, it’s the season and it’s Game 1.’
On C’s title chances: ‘A lot of times when you see your team on paper before the season, you’re like, ‘OK, we might have a chance.’ But as we worked through the September month, which was earlier than usual, into training camp, the trip to Europe to our last practice today, we’re legit; we are for real. And I think to a man we are a very tough team. I think our bench is deep, but our starting lineup is a beast. These are champions. These are guys who know what they want, and the ultimate goal is to win a championship.’
|Irish Coffee: Do Celtics really have NBA’s best bench?||10.26.12 at 1:45 pm ET|
“We haven’t made [me coming off the bench] official yet, but if that is the case we have the deepest bench in basketball,” Terry said after Thursday’s practice. “The Clippers may have something to say about that, but for us in this locker room, our mission every night is to go out and outwork and outscore everyone’s bench.”
Similarly, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, “If you could play 10-on-10, we would beat everybody.”
The mission here is simple: Determine the accuracy of their claim, breaking down the C’s division, conference and eventually the entire NBA. But first let’s look at Boston’s depth behind a not-so-bad starting five: Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Paul Pierce, Jared Sullinger and Kevin Garnett. (For the purposes of this exercise, we’re inserting Terry and Sullinger into the starting lineup, since both took the floor first for 5-of-8 preseason games.)
|Courtney Lee throws down after Celtics practice||10.25.12 at 9:53 pm ET|
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