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Things We Learned This Week 12.05.08 at 10:03 pm ET
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The Celtics came into the week with three games in five days; two against up and coming teams, and one against the only team that beat them soundly. If it was a test, they passed it easily with blowout wins over Orlando, Indiana and Portland.

The Celtics haven’t just been beating teams, they’ve been dominating them. It’s to the point that the bench’s recent inability to hold 20-point leads in the fourth quarter is the only criticism anyone can make (well, that and a few too many turnovers).

Still, there were lessons to be learned this week, and almost all of them are positive ones for the defending champs. Read the rest of this entry »

Celtics-Blazers Game Blog: Third Quarter 12.05.08 at 7:28 pm ET
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A couple of thoughts on the first half. Portland zoned up a few times, which is something the Blazers are known for. The results were not all that successful. First, they failed to identify Eddie House as a shooter and he buried a wide-open jumper. Then they gave up an easy dunk by Leon Powe, which is exactly what a zone is supposed to prevent. On top of that the Blazers got nailed with two Defensive 3 Seconds technicals for their trouble.

Seven minutes, four points, two rebounds, two fouls and one technical for Greg Oden, which is vaguely disappointing for those of us who want to see what the kid can do. The Blazers were 6-for-19 in the second quarter and 0-for-5 from 3-point range. They’re one of the better shooting teams in the league, so don’t expect that to continue.

Very workmanlike effort from the C’s. Everyone’s contributing, the defense has been sound, etc. What will the second half have in store? Let’s find out… Read the rest of this entry »

Celtics-Blazers Game Blog: First Quarter 12.05.08 at 6:04 pm ET
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We are live from the Garden for tonight’s game between the Celtics and the Portland Trail Blazers, and I have to tell you, I’ve been looking forward to this one since the schedule came out. It’s always fun to catch up-and-coming NBA teams before they hit their peak, and for the Blazers their time might not be all that far off.

So, what will it be tonight? Will the champs teach the kids a few lessons? Will the youngsters put on a show? Will Greg Oden get booed? (Actually, we already know that one: yes). Come one come all, for tonight’s live-ish blogging extravaganza… Read the rest of this entry »

Mr. Smooth 12.03.08 at 9:31 pm ET
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Ray Allen is the best dresser on the Celtics. That is a fact can not be disputed. He is meticulous in his appearance, something he says he learned from Michael Jordan. If you are a star, you must present yourself accordingly.

It’s not easy to be GQ-ed out all the time (just ask any sportswriter). It takes more than a bit of care and attention to detail, as well as an innate sense of sartorial style. That’s important in the context of Allen as a basketball player in that he is just as particular about his shot.

As effortless and natural as it appears, Allen’s shot is actually the product of hours of practice. Honed under the withering eye of UConn coach Jim Calhoun, who used to start every practice with a pressure-packed free-throw shooting contest, and in his early days in the NBA in shooting drills with the largely forgotten Jeff Nordgaard where the two then-rookies would talk shooting concepts. (Nordgaard isn’t forgotten in Poland by the way, where he’s still lighting it up in the Polish League and has played for the national team there).

Allen’s shot abandoned him just once last year. That it came in the playoffs against Cleveland caused the basketball-watching public to wonder aloud if his magnificent career was in its final days. It’s not, of course, but it’s in keeping with his tenure with the Celtics that as brilliant as he has been, Allen has also largely been overlooked.

He was the leading scorer last night in their win over the Pacers with a season-high 31 points. He was the one who got them off to a quick start by knocking down three 3-pointers en route to 13 points in the first quarter. But on a night when Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins recorded double-doubles and Rajon Rondo earned the first triple-double of his career, Allen’s night went largely overlooked. Read the rest of this entry »

Celtics-Pacers Game Blog: Third Quarter 12.03.08 at 6:54 pm ET
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Interesting half for the Celtics who put up 57 points on 48 percent shooting and had three players–Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett score in double figures. The only problem is that they allowed the Pacers to score 51, not exactly vintage Celtics D right there.

What will the second half have in store? Let’s take that journey together, shall we… Read the rest of this entry »

Celtics-Pacers Game Blog: First Quarter 12.03.08 at 5:40 pm ET
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We are live from the Garden for tonight’s game between the Celtics and Pacers. This is a revenge-special for the C’s who were blown out in Indiana earlier this year, easily their worst loss of the season (there’s not much competition, but still).

The C’s are without Tony Allen, who might have helped on emerging star Danny Granger, but look for Paul Pierce to take it up a notch tonight. The Pacers are coming off a win over the Lakers last night and looking to make it two in a row against the NBA’s elite.

As a wise man once asked, “Are you ready?” Read the rest of this entry »

Celtics-Pacers Pre-game Notes 12.03.08 at 5:37 pm ET
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Tony Allen will not play tonight after suffering a sprained ankle in Monday’s game with the Magic. Allen said he hopes to return by Friday for the Portland game, but a more realistic assessment might be Sunday. Allen came up gimpy in the fourth quarter against Orlando, and he said that after the game he thought the worst.

“When I got back to the locker room, I said, ‘Not again,’” Allen said. “They looked at the X-rays and said that it’s nothing bad, just a sprained ankle.”

Allen’s loss is a tough one for the Celtics who are not deep in swingmen.

“It was crystalized last game for us,” Doc Rivers said. “If you lose one of those guards: Tony, Ray (Allen) or Paul (Pierce) that’s a hole.”

Rivers said the Celtics may go small with Rajon Rondo and Eddie House in the backcourt at times, or possibly Gabe Pruitt who is back after dealing with the flu. The loss is also important because Tony Allen has been playing some of his best basketball in recent weeks.

“Tony’s been good,” Rivers said. “Very, very good. I’m always on him about his defense because I think he can be a dominant defensive player.”

——–

Danny Granger has been lighting it up for the Pacers this year and may be on an All-Star pace. Rivers reminisced before the game about the 2005 draft when the only thing standing between the Celtics and the New Mexico product was the Pacers. The C’s wound up with Gerald Green instead.

“I thought he had a chance to be a terrific player,” said Rivers who does not typically pay much attention to college prospects but had caught a few of Granger’s games. “He’s going to be a star.”

Rivers said the difference with Granger this year is that he is driving to the basket more and has added a pull-up jumper instead of settling for perimeter shots. He called him a cross between Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis, which is pretty high praise.

——

Ray Allen had some anxious moments over the Thanksgiving weekend when he found out his childhood friend, Darryl Jones was actually in the PRS Oberoi hotel. Jones is a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines. “What are the odds?” Allen asked rhetorically.

Allen said that he was able to reach Jones, who had taken refuge in a room on the 21st floor of the hotel. The power was out, but Jones’ cell phone still worked and Allen stayed on the phone with him delivering updates. Jones is OK, Allen said.

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