|Preview: Celtics-Clippers||01.25.10 at 10:39 am ET|
The second half of the season begins with what might be the most important week the Celtics will have in the regular season. They start with the Clippers but then run through a back-to-back session with Orlando and Atlanta and finish with a home showdown against the Lakers on Sunday afternoon.
With Kevin Garnett back in the lineup, it’s time to seriously consider how good the Celtics are, and whether Danny Ainge needs to make a move to shore up the roster for the stretch run. How well they do this week, and how well Garnett holds up, should help fill in some of the blanks in terms of what this team needs.
The two primary areas of concern are turnovers and defensive rebounding. They have lived with being a high-turnover team in the past, mainly because they shoot the ball so well and they have also been among the best teams in the league in rebounding. They still are a great shooting team, but by giving away so many possessions, and failing to recover them on the defensive end, their shooting isn’t the cure-all that it’s been in the past. For that reason, another big man would probably make sense, but there aren’t any P.J. Browns out there right now.
Tonight’s game is a chance to provide some breathing room in what will be an arduous test.
CLIPPERS (20-23, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 96.2
Points Allowed: 98.7
Differential: -2.5 (20th)
Offensive Efficiency: 104.5 (23rd)
Defensive Efficiency: 107.3 (18th)
Pace: 91.8 (20th)
CELTICS (28-13, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 99.8
Points Allowed: 93.8
Differential: +6.0 (Third)
Offensive Efficiency: 108.1 (12th)
Defensive Efficiency: 101.6 (Second)
Pace: 91.6 (22nd)
|Car & Driver: Garnett cruises through practice||01.24.10 at 6:25 pm ET|
WALTHAM — No, Doc Rivers didn’t have a 1976 Pinto in his younger years. He had a Buick Skylark.
“I didn’t have a Pinto, that’s for sure,” Rivers said Sunday, two days after Kevin Garnett compared himself to a mid-’70s Pinto. “I didn’t have a back seat in my car, but that’s good. I was driving in front.
“It was burned somehow. Mysteriously, the back seat caught on fire and my dad wouldn’t replace it. So, I had to drive around with a Skylark. It only had the front seat. You could see the trunk through the back seat. No double dates. So, that’s that my car story. It smelled like smoke and that’s the way it was.”
Garnett apparently was on to something when he drew an analogy to an old beat-up mid-’70s economy car to describe his physical condition following Friday’s game ‘ his first since a hyperextended right knee forced him to the sideline for 10 games.
“Some minor adjustments to it and it’s ready to roll,” Garnett said. “Tires changed, transmission checked and everything is pretty much where it needs to be. But at the same time, it’s still, it’s a ’76 vs. a ’10. That’s what it is.”
That was Garnett’s way of saying he had a little bit of rust but feels ready to get back to action on Monday after scoring 13 points, hauling in two rebounds and dishing out three assists in 30 minutes of action in Friday’s overtime win against Portland.
|Ray on tough week: ‘It an us project right now’||01.24.10 at 5:03 pm ET|
The Celtics host the Clippers on Monday night, a team that beat them in late December. They have two days off and then play at Orlando and Atlanta on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Then they welcome the defending champion Lakers on Sunday the 31st to the Garden, followed the next day by a game in Washington.
The tough stretch ends with a game at home against Miami a week from Wednesday.
“From a schedule prospective, it looks daunting because we’re playing some of the better teams in the league,” Allen said. “Right now, it’s an ‘us’ project, just focusing on the small, little things that we’ve done to be successful, the things we’ve done to build this team to where it is right now.”
Rivers did acknowledge that his only concern with playing Garnett in the next two weeks are in the second game of back-to-back contests.
“The games that I’m concerned with Kevin will be the Atlanta game because it comes off a tough back-to-back with Orlando and then the Washington game because it comes off a tough Laker game,” Rivers said. “Those the only two games in the next eight or nine days I have concern.
Rivers repeated on Sunday following practice that Garnett looks strong in practice and he has no concern about the health of Garnett’s right knee. Rivers said his only concern is Garnett’s conditioning.
The Celtics are comfortably ahead in the Atlantic Division with a mark of 28-13. They have nine games before the All-Star break.
“We look forward to the whole week,” Allen said. “We know we’re winding down to the All-Star break.”
|Doc ‘has no problem’ with All-Star Iverson||01.24.10 at 2:05 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers is all for Rajon Rondo making the All-Star team. But he made it clear on Sunday that he has no beef with the fans who voted Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson one of the starting guards along with Miami’s Dwayne Wade for the upcoming All-Star Game in Arlington, Texas.
“The fans voted him,” Rivers said. “I have no problem with it. I disagree with the people who say that he should not play. I think he should play. I think the fans have said they want to see him play. It may be because of this year. It may be because of his career. He’s earned that through his career. If the fans want to see him, they want to see him.
“They don’t get a lot of them wrong when you think about it. Maybe every two or three years, one guy is on there that you think maybe shouldn’t be out of the 10 they put on. I don’t think it’s a bad thing.”
Does Rivers think Rondo could be distracted by the fact that All-Star reserves are announced on Thursday?
“The good news is that there will only be one game in that time frame,” Rivers said. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make it. That’s human nature, as long as you keep playing and doing your job. Like I’ve found and I’ve told him this and all of them this: When you do make it, it’s an honor, but the games don’t stop. You still have to prove yourself the next day and then you’re more of a target.”
|Rivers doesn’t plan to limit Garnett’s minutes||01.23.10 at 3:11 pm ET|
WALTHAM — After Kevin Garnett played 30 minutes in his return from a knee injury, Doc Rivers said he will not limit his playing time. Garnett practiced with the Celtics on Saturday and Rivers will continue to keep him on the court.
“Someone asked me before the game if there was a minute restriction, and there wasn’t,” Rivers said. “Again, this was something totally different from last year’s injury. That’s why we were really not concerned about the minutes. Our whole concern with him minute-wise was more conditioning. It had nothing to do with the knee.”
Garnett scored 13 points (4-9 FG, 5-5 FT) and grabbed four rebounds in his first game back on Friday against the Trail Blazers since hyperextending his knee in December.
|Ray Allen: ‘The ball needed to go in’||01.23.10 at 12:27 am ET|
Ray Allen said the key to overcome his sluggish night from the field and the free throw line was keeping mentally focused.
And that seemed a might tall order considering he had missed 11-of-13 shots before the biggest shot he took of the night. It came with 41.3 seconds remaining in overtime and the Trail Blazers leading, 95-93.
“I knew I was close,” Allen said. “There wasn’t anything wrong with my form or my mechanics. It was just the ball needed to go in. I had a shot where I hit the glass [on bank shot] and it just kinda hit the glass and rolled off and it was like, ‘Geez.’ It just wasn’t working for me.
“Mentally, I had to whatever I could to help this team win and just be prepared because you never know when that ball drifts in your direction and you’ve got to be ready to shoot.”
The fact that the shot found the bottom of the basket surprised no one. After all, he was due. And less than a minute earlier, he nearly had a shot rattle home but it ‘toilet bowled’ out as Allen himself described it.
To hear Allen talk about his night, click here.
|KG speaks: ‘Old 76 Pinto got banged up’||01.22.10 at 11:55 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett was in a jovial mood following his first game since Dec. 28.
And for good reason. He just passed the first significant test of his right knee, which was hyperextended during the ill-fated West Coast road trip.
He had 13 points, two rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes.
After the Celtics finally found a way to dispatch of the short-handed Trail Blazers, 98-95, in overtime, Garnett spoke about how he felt.
To hear Garnett, who was born in May 1976, compare himself to a ’76 Pinto and talk about how he felt, click here.
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