|Replacing Russell||04.10.09 at 6:59 pm ET|
There was a warm reunion during dinner in the Will McDonough Press Room, about 45 mintues before tip-off Friday at TD Banknorth Garden.
Hank Finkel, the seven-foot center who replaced Bill Russell the year after Russell won his 11th and final NBA title, ducked as he came into the press room. He was greeted by the man who coached him beginning in 1969, Tommy Heinsohn.
Dave Cowens eventually replaced Finkel in 1972 and finished his career in 1975, winning one NBA championship in 1974 as Cowens’ back-up.
One bit of trivia, Finkel and Heinsohn both grew up in the Union City, New Jersey area.
|KG, Powe close to games||04.10.09 at 12:19 pm ET|
When are regular season games more like practice?
When you’re trying to get two important pieces of your puzzle in order before the playoffs start.
Such is the case for Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who said at Friday morning’s shootaround that he still hopes to get Kevin Garnett (right knee) back in game action on Tuesday in Philadelphia and on Wednesday in the season finale against Washington.
“If we can play him 10 or 15 minutes, we will, if that’s what we think will give him better rhythm,” Rivers said. “But for us, we’ll use it as practice, and that may be the same for Leon.”
Leon Powe (right knee) went through some plays with the team on Friday morning, but not at full speed. He then worked with coach Clifford Ray on a rebounding drill where he caught the ball atop his ahead and then jumped back up immediately and shot the ball without bringing the ball below his shoulders.
“He was just trying to do drills to see how the leg responds,” Powe said. “So far, it responded real well to the drills we were doing.”
But don’t look for Brian Scalabrine (post-concussion) to return to action in the final two games of the season. Rivers said he would still rather be safe than sorry.
“The Scal thing, I’m not so sure,” Rivers said. “Even though I think he’s improving, I don’t know if we want to take the chance in a regular season game with him. Ball hits him on the head and he goes down, we literally don’t want to take that chance.”
The Celtics play Miami tonight and then at Cleveland on Sunday before wrapping up the season with a game on Tuesday in Philadelphia and at home against Washington on Sunday.
|Garden scheduling madness||04.10.09 at 11:41 am ET|
It’s a good problem to have but it’s still a problem that needs solving.
How to schedule two teams and two Springsteen concerts all in one building over four days.
The Celtics are almost certain to play Saturday the 18th with Game 2 of the first round to be played on Monday, the 20th. The reason is as follows:
The NBA playoffs begin on Saturday, Apr. 18. The NHL playoffs for the Boston Bruins begin at home at the Garden on Thursday, the 16th since the Celtics finish up their regular season on Wednesday, the 15th against Washington. It should be pointed out, of course, that the Bruins and owner Jeremy Jacobs own TD Banknorth Garden.
If the Bruins play Montreal in the first round, it’s very likely that Hockey Night in Canada will want the Bruins-Habs on Saturday night and the Bruins would acquiesce to that request. If that scenario takes place, then you’re likely looking at a Celtics playoff opener at 12:30 on ESPN in the afternoon and a Bruins-Canadiens nightcap.
If the Bruins play the New York Rangers in the opening round, it’s more likely, the Bruins would play on Sunday afternoon on NBC and the Celtics could move to a Saturday night game on TNT.
In any event, the NBA wants to avoid having the Celtics or any team for that matter, play on back-to-back days if at all possible.
Bruce Springsteen takes over the building on April 21 and 22 and there’s no moving The Boss. Once again, a great time to be a Boston sports fan.
|Rondo… The new Pearl Washington||04.08.09 at 11:49 pm ET|
On Wednesday night during a 106-104 nail-biter over the New Jersey Nets at TD Banknorth Garden, Rondo scored a team high 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor, while grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out five assists.
It seemed from Marbury’s standpoint, every time Rondo drove to the basket, he scored.
“The guy had [31 ]points and I think he shot all layups,” Marbury said. “He reminds me of Pearl Washington from what they said, back in the days. A guy who didn’t really shoot the jump shots, but just continued to get to the basket and dominated.”
There are cases around the NBA when the point guard looks to score, their team is usually in trouble. Such is not the case with Rajon Rondo and the Celtics. As a matter of fact, it may be just the opposite.
For the third straight game, Rondo scored at least 20 points in leading his team to victory, their fifth straight overall.
‘I’m pretty comfortable,” Rondo said. “I’m probably as comfortable as I’ve ever been these last five or six games, just knowing when to take a shot or when to pass it.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|Doc: DJ ‘absolutely’ deserves HOF||04.06.09 at 4:34 pm ET|
It came as a surprise to exactly no one that Michael Jordan was a first ballot inductee to the Basketball Hall of Fame in the voting announced Monday morning at the Final Four in Detroit. And names like John Stockton, Utah coach Jerry Sloan, David Robinson and women’s coach C. Vivian Stringer were hardly stunning either.
“I had a lot to do with that. I guarded Michael, I guarded Stockton, they looked a lot better. I can tell you that. Clearly, first ballot all of them. It’s terrific. Michael may be the greatest player, definitely of our generation, and maybe of all time. Stockton may be the greatest point guard in some arguments,” Rivers said.
But the late Dennis Johnson did not make it.
“That surprises me, I thought he would make it,” Rivers said. “Well, I’m disappointed in that part. I absolutely think he deserves it.”
And a look at the numbers Johnson put up over his 14-year career detail Rivers’ argument. He played in exactly 1,100 games, averaging 14.1 points and 5.0 assists. His numbers were even better in the playoffs. He averaged 17.3 points and 5.6 assists in 180 games, while playing on three NBA championship teams.
Everyone recalls how DJ was brought to Boston in the 1983-84 season, in part, to answer Philadelphia’s Andrew Toney and Maurice Cheeks, and give the Celtics a powerful backcourt influence and provide great defense on Magic Johnson. The Celtics won titles in 1984 and 1986.
But ask Rivers, and he will tell you voters forget what DJ did in Seattle, like leading his team to the 1979 NBA title, earning Finals MVP honors.
“I really believe this, they (voters) only look at him just with the Celtics,” Rivers said. “They forget how great he was with the Sonics. He was unbelievable. He came to the Celtics and they asked him to do what we ask Ray Allen to do, what we ask Paul (Pierce) to do and that is play a role and I actually think he’s being penalized for it.”
NBA.com has a complete bio of Dennis Johnson, who passed away on Feb. 22, 2007 in Austin, TX of a heart attack while coaching the Austin Toros of the NBDL.
|Rondo turns ankle, Garnett out this week||04.06.09 at 3:06 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo continues to battle ankle injuries. On Monday, in the team’s first practice since beating Atlanta on Friday night, Rondo was seen limping off the court after turning his ankle.
Doc Rivers said he wasn’t sure of the severity or which ankle was turned but said he didn’t initially think it was a serious injury.
“He just twisted his ankle, nothing bad but instead of keeping him out on the floor, easier to take him off,” Rivers said.
Meanwhile, Rivers said Kevin Garnett is making progress in rehabbing his strained right knee but not enough for him to return this week.
“I’m just really happy with what we see,” Rivers said. “A week ago there was more concern. This week, less concern. He looks great, he’s moving great. You can just tell the difference.”
Rivers ruled Garnett out from games through next Sunday, meaning the star forward won’t be able to play in the team’s final three games as Rivers had hoped.
“He won’t play this week, Wednesday, Friday or Sunday,” Rivers said. “But he’s going to go on the road with us and start practicing. Actually, our hope is start practicing our entire team on this little road trip, which would be really nice since I haven’t seen them in a while, and I think it’s possible.”
Rivers also said Garnett will travel with the team on its road trip to Cleveland and Philadelphia, with the hope of having the entire team together practicing together. Leon Powe and Brian Scalabrine could also return to action in practice.
|Nothing will be finer than Carolina… Trags Take||04.06.09 at 2:02 pm ET|
National Championship-Michigan State (31-6) vs. North Carolina (33-4), 9:18 p.m. ET, CBS-TV.
The Michigan State Spartans are unquestionably the darlings of this tournament, if you can be with a 31-6 record and a No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region. They beat No. 1 Connecticut on Saturday and advance to the national title game just 90 miles from their campus in East Lansing. Their official web site proclaims: “One More. Wear White on Monday Night.”
One of the more overwhelming storylines of this Final Four is the boost that a national championship would give Detroit and the state of Michigan if the Spartans could prevail.
Roy Williams, the Heels coach, would have none of that talk on Sunday.
“You know if we’re playing against the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan, they out number us,” Williams said. “We don’t have as good a chance at that one. But the other thing is you guys have to understand, we left here (Saturday) night at 12:45. We went back, we had a nice little snack and some ice cream and the kids went to bed. I saw them this morning at 11:00 for 30 minutes. We haven’t exactly exhausted the state of the nation’s economy in the last 18 hours.
“So for us, we’re playing Michigan State. I do realize they have a cause. Well, we also have a cause. We want to win a national championship, period, the end. And if you would tell me that if Michigan State wins, it’s gonna satisfy the nation’s economy, then I’d say, Hell, let’s stay poor for a little while longer. I don’t think that’s gonna happen. So if all the workers of America come down and start guarding my butt on the bench, then I’ll start being concerned about it.”
Michigan State has certainly been outstanding guarding people and that’s the No. 1 reason they have gotten to this point. They completely took overall No. 1 seed Louisville out of its game, allowing just 52 points in the Midwest final. They never let Jeff Adrien and A.J. Price get into their game in the national semifinal on Saturday. Now, they are playing their third straight game against a No. 1 seed.
Can they do it again against Carolina? Here’s a vote for reality and against storybook finishes. Carolina simply has too much.
Here’s how North Carolina wins its fifth title tonight in Detroit.
1: Depth. When Ty Lawson picked up two quick fouls on Saturday against Villanova, the Heels didn’t panic. When Tyler Hansbrough picked up his third early in the second half, again no worries. The reason for the calm is the number of bodies Roy Williams has next to him on the bench that can come in, bodies that would be starters on most other Division I programs.
2. Ty Lawson. The bum toe of Lawson has not been a factor and the point guard has played his best basketball in the tournament.
3. Outside-in. As Carolina showed in the first half on Saturday, they have plenty of scorers who can fire from three-point range.
4. Tyler Hansbrough. The Carolina big man can match up with Goran Suton. That will be a fascinating matchup to watch.
5. Us against the world. Carolina knows full well what the atmosphere is likely to be. Playing in Cameron Indoor Stadium, in many ways, is harder than playing before 72,000 in dome stadium.
How they lineup:
Morgan, Raymar…… f
Roe, Delvon……… f
Suton, Goran…….. c
Lucas, Kalin…….. g
Walton, Travis…… g
Deon Thompson……. f
Tyler Hansbrough…. f
Lawson, Ty………. g
Danny Green……… g
Wayne Ellington….. g
How they got here:
No. 2 seed Michigan State won the Midwest Regional. Beat No. 15 Robert Morris, 77-62. Beat No. 11 USC. 74-69. Beat No. 3 Kansas 67-62. Beat No. 1 Louisville, 64-52. Beat No. 1 Connecticut
No. 1 seed North Carolina won the South Regional. Beat No. 16 Radford, 101-58. Beat No. 8 LSU, 84-70. Beat No. 4 Gonzaga, 98-77. Beat No. 2 Oklahoma, 72-60. Beat No. 3 Villanova, 83-69.
It certainly won’t be the 98-63 Carolina blowout in the same stadium back on Dec. 3 but Carolina can handle the pressure that the Spartans will throw at them.
North Carolina 76, Michigan State 71
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