|Fast Break: Rondo returns and Celtics beat Raptors||11.26.10 at 10:02 pm ET|
The Celtics broke open what was a semi-close game thanks to a third quarter in which they out-scored Toronto 28-15. The end result was a 110-101 victory for the C’s, snapping the Raptors four-game win streak.
Perhaps the biggest news of the night was the return of point guard Rajon Rondo, who had missed the C’s last three games with a hamstring injury. Rondo lacked his normal explosion, but more than compensated with some adept passing going toward the hoop.
Rondo would finish with 14 assists to go along with four points (shooting 2-for-6 from the field while missing both of his two free throw attempts). He played 36 minutes, initially coming out of the game with 2:32 left in the first quarter, having already helped the C’s build a 12-point lead with eight assists.
Here is what went right and what went wrong as the Celtics improved to 12-4 …
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS
– Kevin Garnett dominated the inside for the Celtics (thanks in largepart to the set-ups of Rondo). The forward was active on both ends, resulting in a game-high 26 points and 11 rebounds. His replacement, Semih Erden, also performed admirably, contributing with eight points on 4-for-4 shooting from the floor (8 points) in 11 minutes.
– The Celtics made a living early on going over the top of the Toronto defense, as was evidenced by four alley-oop passes from Rondo in the opening two quarters alone. One in particular stood out, with Shaquille O’Neal flying through the air to slam in a Rondo pass, giving the C’s a 22-9 lead at the time. The result of the flurry of lay-ins was 67 percent shooting from the floor by the hosts in the first quarter.
– Shaq played inspired ball once again, coming up one rebound short of recording his third straight double-double (this time scoring 16 points to go with nine rebounds). Most notably was O’Neal’s ability to beat Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani down the floor on more than a few occasions. Through three quarters the center was 5-for-5 from the floor, and, even more impressive, 6-for-8 from the foul line.
– Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch was at the game and still looked spry.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS
– The Celtics bench had a tough time putting the game away, which was on display both in the first half, and after the C’s built a 22-point lead late in the third quarter. The Raptors would ultimately close the gap to six points midway through the fourth quarter. The backcourt combination of Marquis Daniels (one free throw) and Nate Robinson (2 points) didn’t yield many dividends.
– In this case, what could have gone wrong for the Celtics: Shaq swinging his fist around violently after missing a lay-up after being fouled. Toronto guard Jerryd Bayless, who was just inches away from the roundhouse, might not have survived if he was positioned differently.
– Von Wafer saw some rare early action, presumably getting a chance to fill in for some of the minutes left behind by the injured Delonte West. But after two second-quarter minutes, his presence was negligible.
|What’s up next for Shaq? A snowman, the subway, and dressing up like a woman||10.24.10 at 1:58 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Just days after heading to Harvard Square to pretend he was a statue for an hour, Shaquille O’Neal revealed what his next experiments will be.
Initially, Shaq mentioned that his next public foray will be seasonally-based.
“I thinking of buy a snowsuit, standing in the middle of a field and have people throw snowballs at me,” he said. “Something different.”
But then, after a suggestion from a reporter that he could integrate the ‘T’ into his next field trip, O’Neal latched onto the idea.
“No, never,” he said when asked if he had ever been on the subway in Boston. “That’s a good idea. I’m going to do that. What’s today? Sunday? I’m going to do that next week.”
O’Neal then took it to another level when explaining how he was going to appear when boarding the train. He said that he would be dressing up as a woman named, “Shaquita,” “I’m going to do that,” he said.
As for his experience at Harvard, O’Neal said that the idea came from seeing the discipline of the Buckingham Palace guards and other military personnel.
“For me I can always tell my friends I went to Harvard,” he noted. “When I say I went to Harvard, you can take that for how you want to take it. I went to Harvard, I stood at Harvard, and I graduated from Harvard. So now I’m smart.
“I’ve always liked Boston. The people here have always treated me right. Go to [Legal’s Seafood] and get that clam chowder. Go to (an Italian restaurant) for that big spaghetti bowl. I’ve never had problems in Boston, that’s why I can go to Harvard Square by myself for an hour, people just touch me, have someone say they’re my son. Just have a good time.”
Asked how his experience with the Celtics has been compared to other teams he has been with, O’Neal gave the Celts a notable distinction.
“This is the funnest team I’ve been on in my life,” O’Neal said. “These guys are great. Usually I’m the ring leader of bringing fun to a team, but I haven’t even done anything yet. These guys crack me up. Big Baby and Nate, they need their own TV show. Those guys are funny. Just having certain conversations with all the great players, me and Kevin [Garnett] going back to our LA, Minnesota days. It’s just fun. It’s a close-knit group already. We go to dinner together, movies together, play cards. It’s just a fun group. It’s going to be a fun 735 days for me.”
|The reason Shaquille O’Neal was shouting ‘Chimichanga!’ at Big Baby||10.16.10 at 10:47 pm ET|
First time it was, “Jumbalaya!”
The next came, “Chimichanga!”
And, finally, was, “Barb-b-que chicken!”
The source of the shouting was Shaquille O’Neal. So why was he doing it?
“I can’t tell you. It’s an LSU thing,” he explained to group of reporters after the Celtics’ 97-84 preseason win over the Knicks Saturday night.
The center was then asked if it was something he did to all players who attended his alma mater.
“Yes, all LSU players,” O’Neal deadpanned. “I can’t tell you our secret society codes.”
But, while walking out to the bus, O’Neal offered a chance to unlock the secret. One guess, which was: It was encouragement for ‘Big Baby’ to eat up his competition on the isolation.
Another mystery revolving around the mysterious Big Shamrock solved. About one million to go.
|Doc Rivers doesn’t ‘get all the hatred’ toward Miami Heat||10.16.10 at 9:35 pm ET|
HARTFORD — The questions will continue to come fast and furious as Oct. 26 approaches.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers understands the deal: The inquiries leading into his team’s season opener will be just part of the equation. Just as many questions will also center around the team the C’s are playing, the Miami Heat and their three faces of the franchise — LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade.
This time, just prior to the Celtics’ preseason tilt with the Knicks at the XL Center, Rivers was asked about the difference in people’s perception regarding the the Heat and the C’s.
“I don’t get all the hatred,” Rivers said. “I guess the press conference had a little bit to do wit that. We did it through trade, they did it through free agency, maybe that had a little bit to do with it. Whatever it is at the end of the day, when the games start the Miami fans are going to cheer for Miami, and the Boston fans are going to cheer for Boston. The Orlando fans are going to cheer for Orlando. We’ll see how it goes.”
|Doc on how Celtics can get better: ‘We can win Game 7’||10.16.10 at 9:23 pm ET|
“We can win Game 7,” he said prior to the C’s preseason tilt with the Knicks Saturday night at XL Center.
But, as the Celtics’ coach talked, he got more specific.
“We can rebound better. We were awful during the regular season. We turned the ball over during the regular season. And we didn’t win enough home games,” Rivers said. “I know we had the injuries, but we were losing the home games even when we were playing well last year. And in retrospect, it came back and we had a Game 7 on the road, so that’s how we can get better. I don’t know record-wise if we will be better or not, but I know we can be a better basketball team.”
Another difference Rivers will be looking for?
“Veteran teams have to be playing well all year, just like young teams,” he said. “I’ve said it before, what we did last year was unusual. It usually doesn’t work and in my opinion didn’t work. It got us to the Finals but didn’t us to what we wanted. We didn’t win it. That’s what we’re going to fight. Just because we have a lot of experience, we can’t use that as a crutch all year.”
Then came the final, much more specific, focal point that might allow the C’s to leave the season with a smile: Actually pounding the ball into the post instead of living on the perimeter.
“When you have injuries you tend to stay outside, and it hurt us. You look at some of the bigger games in the playoffs, we really didn’t have post presences at the time. That’s a difficult way to play basketball and win. We got away with it for the most part, but not all the way,” Rivers explained. “You’ll see more. Two years ago, we were an in and out basketball team. We had to basically abandon that in some ways.”
The coach continued: “We’re posting everybody. That’s what we told them the first day, is we have to get back to being an in and out team. We want to run, we want to get easy baskets, we want to look to the early post. Like yesterday, Kevin [Garnett] had five of them where sprinted down the floor, beat everybody down the floor, got deep in the post, and last year he was the last guy down the floor. He was dragging his leg. We had to do what we had to do to win. It allows you to stop runs when you have a post game. Teams are on an 8-0 run, you can call a timeout and go right to the post, you usually get something out of that. When you don’t that you just better hope to make every shot.”
And then there is the secret weapon …
“Paul [Pierce] loves the post, so does Kevin. [Rajon] Rondo is the guy, for me, who is the new guy that we can actually use,” Rivers explained. “Rondo is better than you think down there. We were working on it a lot last year, we just never had the confidence to do it.
“What makes him effective is that you have to guard him down there. You can’t back off of him on the post. When he’s guarded, it not only spreads the floor, but it makes him a better passer.”
So, there you have it in a nutshell: The keys to unlocking the door that the Celtics couldn’t walk through a season ago.
|Tommy Heinsohn gives NBA new slogan: ‘It’s stupid!’||10.14.10 at 8:30 am ET|
|Reggie Evans: Chris Bosh will use Paul Pierce dunk as ‘ammunition’||10.10.10 at 10:28 pm ET|
Talking after his team’s 91-87 preseason loss to the Celtics on Sunday night at TD Garden, Toronto forward Reggie Evans suggested that his former teammate, Chris Bosh, would be using the motivation derived from being kicked by Paul Pierce during dunk in the midst of a Nov. 27 game last year at the Garden when Bosh’s new team, the Heat, face off with the Celts in the teams’ season-opener.
“Me knowing Chris, I know he’s got that game penciled in based on what happened last year with the Paul Pierce dunk, with the kick and stuff,” Evans said. “Knowing him, when he has so much ammunition on a team, I know he’s looking forward to that game. He may deny it, but I’m pretty sure he’s looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun to watch.”
Evans explained that Bosh never said anything about the play, but suggested that it wouldn’t be a big leap of faith to suggest that the new Heat forward is using that play to prepare for the Oct. 26 showdown at the Garden.
“Anybody would take that personally,” Evans said. “Getting kicked on a dunk, who wouldn’t take that personally? The thing about it is that Chris never said anything about it out of his own mouth, but Chris, with his competitive nature, I could see how he would be looking forward to playing him again.
“It’s just like Kobe Bryant losing to Boston in the Finals. He remembers that. That goes for any athlete, who has a competitive nature and genuinely loves the game. It will definitely be fun to watch.”
In 25 career games against the Celtics, Bosh is averaging 20.2 points per game. For more on the Celtics, see the team page at weei.com/celtics.
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