|Final Update||04.10.09 at 9:59 pm ET|
It’s over at the Garden where the Celtics held off the Heat in a wildly entertaining game, 105-98. Paul Pierce led the way with 28 points, while Big Baby Davis added 22 and eight rebounds and Rajon Rondo came up just shy of a triple-double with seven points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
In the last two minutes with the score tied 95-95, the Heat switched Dwyane Wade on to Pierce, an interesting tactical decision by rookie coach Erik Spolestra. Pierce had been working over James Jones when Spolestra made the switch, and while Wade has the edge on Jones in the strength department, he also gave up a few inches in size and he picked up two quick fouls including one on a Pierce jumper.
Pierce went to the line and made a pair of free throws and after Wade missed a 3-pointer, the Celtics cashed in on some solid ball movement that resulted in Davis dropping in a lay-up as the shot clock hit zero.
For the C’s it was their 60th win of the season, the first time they’ve had back-to-back 60-win seasons since the Larry Bird era. Elsewhere, Cleveland beat Philadelphia and clinched first place in the Eastern Conference, while Orlando is down seven at home against the Knicks entering the fourth quarter.
|Third Quarter Update||04.10.09 at 9:23 pm ET|
Things are getting interesting at the Garden as D-Wade and Paul Pierce put on a nice little show in the third quarter. Wade scored 10 of his 20 points in the quarter, while Pierce went for a dirty dozen to give him 19 and the C’s are holding a 79-72 lead.
It’s been an entertaining game with both teams shooting around 50 percent, balanced scoring on both sides and Rajon Rondo continues to work his way toward a triple-double. He has seven points, nine rebounds and eight assists going into the final frame.
Elsewhere, the Cavs are up 11 on Philly and about to wrap up the top overall seed in the East.
|Halftime Update||04.10.09 at 8:42 pm ET|
The man of the hour, or the half, whichever you prefer, is Stephon Marbury. As Marbury’s play has improved over the last few weeks the one thing still missing has been his shot. Early in the second quarter, Marbury pulled up on the break and knocked down an elbow jumper. That shot appeared to galvanize him as he finished the quarter with eight points and shot 4-for-5 from the floor.
Marbury’s play, and a solid defensive effort from the second unit got the Celtics the lead, but they still are having a problem with Jermaine O’Neal who has racked up 14 points and six rebounds. The C’s have managed to hold Dwyane Wade mostly in check and the Heat have shot a shockingly bad 4-of-10 from the free throw line. That’s helped them take a 54-47 lead into the break.
The highlight of the night, though, was Bill Walker’s reverse alley-oop jam. I talked to Walker before the game about Tony Allen’s similar dunk during the Nets game Wednesday and told him that I still preferred his tomahawk jam on Memphis’ Darrell Arthur a few weeks ago. Walker thanked me for the compliment but added that TA’s dunk “was pretty sweet.” Now he’s got one of his own.
One more note from the first half: Rajon Rondo is flirting with a triple-double. He’s got five points, six rebounds and five assists.
|First Quarter Update||04.10.09 at 8:10 pm ET|
If you want to know why the Miami Heat fall into that nebulous category of potentially dangerous in the playoffs, it goes beyond Dwyane Wade. In Jermaine O’Neal and Michael Beasley Miami has a pair of athletic and active big men who run the floor well and can provide matchup problems.
O’Neal and Beasley combined for 10 points and seven rebounds in the first quarter while the Heat shot a scintillating 55 percent from the floor in taking a 25-22 lead. The Celtics, meanwhile, have struggled mightily, making just 8-of-24 shots, but own a 14-9 edge on the boards. On a positive note for the C’s, Paul Pierce heated up late in the quarter, sticking that step-back 20-footer and nailing a contested 3-pointer from the top of the key.
Both teams have something to play for tonight. The Celtics, of course, are trying to hold off Orlando for the second seed, while Miami has a one game lead on Philly for the fifth seed. The Magic are hosting the Knicks tonight, while the Sixers are in Cleveland. The Cavs can clinch homecourt with one more win, or one more Celtics loss.
|Allen receives Red Auerbach Award||04.10.09 at 7:42 pm ET|
Ray Allen was honored as the recipient of the Red Auerbach Award prior to tip-off. Allen is the fourth player to receive the award which recognizes those who exemplify what it means to be a Celtic. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Al Jefferson previously received the award.
|Powe expects to practice Monday||04.10.09 at 7:07 pm ET|
Leon Powe hasn’t played since spraining his knee on St. Patrick’s Day. He expects to return to practice on Monday, and he doesn’t want his teammates to go easy on him either.
“Oh no, no, no. I wouldn’t even practice. I wouldn’t even come to practice,” he said with a laugh prior to the Boston Celtics’ game against the Miami Heat. “No, don’t go easy on me. I want to go in there full speed. You’ve got to go at me so I can test it out.”
Powe is making so much progress, in fact, that he said he is “very much ahead of schedule.” He completed a 30-minute workout with assistant coach Clifford Ray on Friday, focusing on his legs with sliding, cutting, jumping, and post move drills.
But team doctors are still proceeding with caution. They have asked him to wear a brace as a preventative measure to avoid other players banging into his knee. Powe doesn’t like it – taking it on and off is the worst part, he says – but he knows it’s part of the recovery.
Head coach Doc Rivers still does not expect Powe to play before the playoffs.
|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.
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