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‘The Most Miserable 8-2 Team You’ve Ever Seen’ 11.14.08 at 9:42 pm ET
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That was Doc Rivers after the Celtics 94-85 loss to the Nuggets, Friday night. Miserable because, as Rivers elaborated, “We’re not happy with the way we’re playing. We’re winning games, but we’re not playing well enough to be the winner.”

There are those who will say it was bound to happen. That after seven games in 10 days, and two epic fourth-quarter rallies this week that the legs just weren’t there and that the signs of fatigue were evident: slow rotations, short jumpers, etc. To their credit, the Celtics won’t say it: “We’re not going to use fatigue as an excuse,” Kevin Garnett said like it was a mantra.

And to an extent, KG is right. Fatigue, while certainly a factor, is not an excuse. Not in this league. Not when the Nuggets flew in from a big game with Cleveland in the wee hours of the morning. There are other issues for the Celtics to concern themselves with. Issues that are somewhat more befitting a team that is 4-6, rather than a ‘miserable’ 8-2. Read the rest of this entry »

Celtics-Nuggets Game Blog: Third Quarter 11.14.08 at 7:24 pm ET
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We’re back for the second half with the C’s down 48-42. This will be yet another interesting second half as I am becoming more and more intrigued by the Celtics ability to dig themselves out of a hole. It’s not the way you want to play every night, obviously, and I know the myth is “It’s the NBA, everybody makes a run,” but this kind of digging deep, for lack of a better cliche, is becoming a team characteristic.

With the exception of the Chicago game back on Halloween they haven’t really played a complete game yet, and they’re still 8-1. At some point it’s going to bite them. We’ll see if it’s tonight. Onward… Read the rest of this entry »

Celtics-Nuggets Game Blog: Halftime Adjustments 11.14.08 at 7:08 pm ET
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As faithful readers know, I am not of the mind that the loss of James Posey is the huge deal that some make it out to be. However, credit George Karl with an interesting lineup that specifically exploited the lack of a legit backup small forward–like James Posey.

In the second quarter, Karl used PG Anthony Carter and C Nene and surrounded those two with three listed small forwards: Carmelo Anthony, Renaldo Balkman and Linas Kleiza, all of whom are 6-foot-8. The Celtics had their usual second unit on the floor with Paul Pierce which led to two specific matchup issues: Tony Allen on Carmelo (length problems) and Big Baby on Balkman (quickness problems).

The unusual lineup really messed with the Celtics on the offensive end as they only managed to score five points in the first six minutes of the second quarter and their six-point lead went poof. Karl hinted at this in his pregame chat, by the way. We’ll be back for the second half in a bit.

Quick addendum: Just got the halftime stats and Carmelo, Kleiza and Balkman went 7-for-11 for 15 points and 12 rebounds in the second quarter.

Celtics-Nuggets Game Blog: First Quarter 11.14.08 at 6:04 pm ET
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We are live and courtside for tonight’s game between the Celtics and Nuggets. Is everyone still a little wrung out from the Comeback on Monday and the Epic on Wednesday? We’ll see how strong the Celtics legs are, but then, they seem to have an extra gear in the fourth quarter so we promise not to write them off too early if it’s not there at the beginning.

They are playing up the highlights from the Hawks game in the pregame intros, by the way. Game of the Year candidate if ever there was one. Click inside for all the live-ish goodness. Read the rest of this entry »

Nuggets Pre-Game Odds and Sods 11.14.08 at 5:33 pm ET
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What was that sound that caught my sabermetrically-inclined ear in the runway before tonight’s game? Why it was George Karl, coach of the Denver Nuggets, talking about “efficiency.”  Or, more specifically he was talking about recently acquired Chauncey Billups.

Someone asked the question about whether the Nuggets gained anything from Mr. Big Shot’s championship-tested mettle and Karl responded with some wonk about possessions and the like. In other words, Karl went from a question about an intangible to describing a tangible.

“(Billups) is a very efficient player,” Karl said. “He’s not going to be on SportsCenter (intangible). His efficiency is geared toward winning the game (tangible). It helps the coach. It helps the game’s flow.” OK, those last parts were intangible benefits of a tangible, but you all get the drift.

Let’s slow down and talk about what all this means. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups, George Karl, Nuggets
And Now… The Season Starts 11.10.08 at 9:23 pm ET
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There was a moment midway through the third quarter that looked the period and exclamation point on a Celtics loss. Chris Bosh got himself free behind the Celtics defense and sailed in for an easy alley-oop dunk off an uncontested feed from Jose Calderon. This kind of thing doesn’t happen to the Celtics very much. The Grizzlies, maybe, but not the baddest defensive team on the planet.

Kevin Garnett, the closest defender on the play, raised his hand as if to say, “My fault.” He left it up there a tick or two longer than was necessary, a strange sort of self-flagellation as if he wanted to be sure everyone in the arena knew it too. It was 59-46 and there wasn’t a soul in the Garden who thought, “OK, now they start the comeback.” But, that’s exactly where it started.

Garnett hit a 5-foot jump shot, and then Paul Pierce knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the lead to eight and suddenly the Garden was alive. The Celtics have played eight games on this young season, and through the first seven they have hit on an admirable grind-it-out formula that has proven successful, if not entirely aesthetically pleasing.

But then the comeback started and for the first time this season, the Celtics of last season were back. Read the rest of this entry »

Celtics-Raptors Game Blog: Third Quarter 11.10.08 at 6:56 pm ET
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We’re back for the second half, with the Celtics down 48-36. They shot an ugly 12-for-37 from the floor (32.4 percent) in the first half and 1-for-10 from 3-point range. The good news is that Kevin Garnett got it together in the second quarter after starting 1-for-5, but someone (anyone?) had better stop Jermaine O’Neal.

O’Neal lit the Celtics up for 19 points in the first half. For the first time this season he is resembling the guy from Indiana–before the injuries hit.

That much vaunted point guard battle between Rondo and Calderon that I’ve been touting since training camp? Uh, not so much. Rondo has two points and one assist and Jose has two and three assists. On with the show…

Read the rest of this entry »

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