|Fast Break: Celtics vs. Heat||01.06.10 at 10:50 pm ET|
The Celtics overcame a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Heat, 112-106, in dramatic fashion on the road in overtime. This game wasn’t pretty — the Celtics committed 24 turnovers while the Heat attempted 98 shots — but the C’s fended off 44 points from Dwayne Wade to get the win.
Player of the Game: Kudos to Paul Pierce for perfectly executing the game-tying alley-oop to Rajon Rondo, but this award goes to the recipient of the pass. Not only did Rondo send the Celtics into overtime, he led them in the final five minutes. Rondo finished with a team-high 25 points.
Turning Point: After Wade hit a pair of game-tying free throws, the Celtics had an opportunity to hit the game-winner with 5.5 seconds left. Wade stole the ball from Ray Allen at halfcourt and slammed the go-ahead bucket to put the Heat up, 101-99, with 0.6 seconds to go. The Celtics responded with one of the best plays of the season ‘ an inbound alley-oop from Pierce to Rondo as time expired to force overtime.
– Pierce posted 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in his return from a knee infection.
– The Celtics committed 24 turnovers to just 11 by the Heat.
– Free throws were a huge deciding factor in this game. The Celtics shot 33-for-41; the Heat shot 20-for-27.
– Rasheed Wallace played a stretch in the fourth quarter with five fouls. He eventually fouled out fighting for a rebounds with Udonis Haslem, and the Celtics bench quickly stepped in front of him on the sidelines to prevent him from arguing the call.
– After getting his first NBA start last weekend, J.R. Giddens did not play on Wednesday.
|Celtics waive Hudson||01.06.10 at 7:34 pm ET|
The Celtics have waived rookie guard Lester Hudson, the team announced today. Hudson’s contract would have been guaranteed if the team had not waived him by 6pm tonight. According to the Boston Globe, Hudson had traveled with the Celtics to Miami and participated in morning shootaround prior to being released. The C’s can still sign Hudson to a 10-day contract after he clears waivers. Their roster stands at 14.
|Ray Allen’s mystical ability||01.06.10 at 1:40 pm ET|
Zach Lowe from Celtics Hub has an excellent post up about Ray Allen‘s ability to make his teammates better, particularly the second unit. Lowe did some terrific research and his post is well worth a read. The quick takeaway is that when Allen is on the floor, the other four Celtics perform better.
Doc Rivers often likes to integrate either Allen or Paul Pierce with the second unit in his first round of rotation subs. While Pierce has played well with the reserves, the numbers have shown that Allen has been a better fit. It’s not always a cut-and-dry decision for Rivers. Sometimes foul trouble dictates who will play. If one or the other has two fouls before the substitution it’s a safe bet that they will sit. Other times, it’s matchups.
Rivers had some interesting things to say about this back in November following a practice after the Celtics played the Nets in that ugly game in the Meadowlands.
“It’s matchups and unfortunately for us it’s not even matchups for us so far,” Rivers said at the time. “Paul and Ray have been in foul trouble almost every game. That makes the decision for you. The other night I wanted to go with Paul against Jersey because the pace was slow and I thought it would be a good time to get Ray some early rest and then Paul picks up his second foul. We actually gambled a bit and left him on the floor which is something I don’t prescribe doing a lot. But I did it and we got away with it.”
More generally, Rivers is aware of the different dynamics the two bring to the court.
“They change the lineups completely,” he said. “When it’s Marquis [Daniels] and Paul it becomes a power game. When it’s Ray and Marquis, now you have Ray, Eddie [House] and Rasheed [Wallace] on the floor: that’s a team that will stretch it out. It’s amazing what those two guys, it’s only one change, but the style is completely different with either of those two guys on the floor.”
All this comes at a time when there has been loose talk swirling around various Celtics-related websites about how it might be a good move to trade Allen and his expiring contract. There’s very little chance of that happening and not just because it probably wouldn’t make long-term financial sense. Allen has tremendous value to the Celtics beyond his shooting prowess and this is one manifestation.
|Preview: Celtics-Heat||01.06.10 at 10:32 am ET|
Paul Pierce has been around for so long that it’s sometimes easy to take him for granted. He popped up on various All-Decade teams, particularly those teams that were put together by careful observers who look more at production than hype. There is no question that his role on a championship team helped his standing, but take a moment to stroll through his career numbers on basketball-reference.com. Pierce has been a model of offensive efficiency and a more complete player than he is usually given credit for.
The Celtics have missed him over the last five games while he dealt with a knee infection following surgery. Would he have been a difference-maker in their losses to the Clippers and Golden State? The guess here is that he probably would have helped them win at least one and probably both, simply by settling things down in the fourth quarter of chaotic games.
Before the team headed for Miami, someone asked Pierce if he thought Eddie House or Ray Allen would make a better team rep in the 3-point contest. Pierce rather nonchalantly suggested that he would make a better candidate and he’s right. The man has been killing it from beyond the arc all season. It’s a minor point in the grand scheme of things, but yet another indication that one of the great players in team history is often criminally overlooked, even in his own town. Read the rest of this entry »
|Inside the Game: Shelden Williams and the Art of Rebounding||01.05.10 at 10:41 pm ET|
For a player whose career had been filled with uncertainties, one thing was for sure about Shelden Williams.
‘Shelden has proven he can defend and rebound,’ President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge said at Williams’ introductory press conference this summer.
The Celtics were drawn to those defensive skills when they signed him during the offseason. They were looking to add another big man to their bench and believed he had the potential to help their team down low.
His rebounding contributions are even more critical now that Kevin Garnett is sidelined. Although he is not the first man off the bench, Williams tries to make an impression on the boards whenever he can.
Before he began his NBA career, Williams had made his mark on Duke University. In fact, he had made it on backboards around the NCAA.
He graduated from Duke in 2006 as the school’s all-time leader in rebounds and blocked shots. Williams pulled down 1,262 boards over his four-year career and averaged 9.1 boards per game, including 11.2 as a junior. He became the third player in NCAA history to score 1,500 points, nab 1,000 rebounds, block 350 shots, and pick off 150 steals, while earning consecutive Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Williams was selected by the Hawks with the fifth pick in the 2006 Draft. That season he led all rookies in double-doubles and ranked third on his team in rebounds. Even as his playing time decreased and he was eventually traded (he was sent from the Hawks to the Kings to the Timberwolves over the course of two seasons), Williams stayed focused on attacking the boards.
Now on the Celtics, he has accepted the team’s defensive mentality. He is currently averaging 3.5 boards in 13.5 minutes and has recorded 8-, 9-, and 10-rebound games. Even though Williams has only played a total of 377 minutes (9th on team), he has recorded 99 rebounds (7th). He has also grabbed 33 offensive boards (4th), more than Rasheed Wallace and just seven shy of Garnett in 500 less minutes.
As part of WEEI.com’s ‘Inside the Game’ series with the Celtics, Williams explained the art of attacking the glass.
Learning at a Young Age: As a teenager, Williams led Midwest City High School (OK) to the Oklahoma Class 6A State Championship.
‘I was taught that very early on. My dad always told me about the importance of rebounding and playing defense. Those are two things that are will. If you want to do it, you have a will to do it. Those two things were taught to me at an early age and just kind of stuck.’
His American Idol: The soft-spoken Williams admired one of the most colorful athletes to ever play the game of basketball.
‘During my time period coming up, it was Dennis Rodman. He was always going after every single rebound whether he’d be over the top or not. I think that watching him be relentless, I learned from that.’
Leaving a Legacy: During his record-setting career at Duke, Williams grabbed a personal-best 19 rebounds against Virginia Tech in 2005.
‘[My record] is very important. My shot blocking and my rebounding record will be there for a while so I scratched my name on the stone, so to speak. My whole career that I was there, no one had averaged a double-double and that’s something I set out to do. I was able to accomplish it in my junior and senior year.’
There’s a Thought Process: In order to be successful, Williams educates himself on his opponents before they take the shot so he can put himself in the best position once the ball is in the air.
‘[When you go in for the rebound] depends on where the shot’s been taken from. You kind of play percentages. If the ball’s on the other end of the court and I’m on the opposite block, more often than not it’s going to come off the opposite of that block. Also you’ve got to take into account the guy who’s shooting it. Has he been missing his shot? Does he tend to be short a lot of the time? Whatever the case may be, you try to think about that as well.’
Offensive vs. Defensive: This season the Celtics have been outperformed on the offensive glass. Williams says there is a difference on both ends of the court.
‘Defensive rebounding, more often than not for a big, you’re already down there. Most cases you play around the block, closer to the basket. Whereas for offensive rebounding, if you’re setting a pick out there on the wing, you’ve got to run into there. Like I said, there’s a big difference because most time on defense you’re already in the paint … Any time the ball goes up I try to attack the glass. More often than not, not everybody’s attacking the glass all the time, so I try to make myself available, especially on the offensive end, to I keep the ball alive.’
Make the Extra Effort: At 6-9, Williams still works hard to make sure he has the edge over his opponents at the basket. On this particular day of the interview, he was the last player to leave the court after practice.
‘[I] just try to rebound as much as I can. I try to make the concerted effort.’
|Pierce and Rondo practice||01.05.10 at 3:24 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Where to begin with the Celtics injury situation Tuesday? Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce were on the floor taking part in practice. Kendrick Perkins and Eddie House were home with the flu. Just for good measure, injured swing man Marquis Daniels was spotted sweating through a treadmill workout while the team practiced and Kevin Garnett is definitely not playing on the road trip.
“Yeah,” Doc Rivers said to the media as they tried to sort through where to begin their questions. “The circus continues.”
The good news is that Pierce and Rondo both took part in most of the practice session Tuesday and it seems likely that they will both play Wednesday against Miami, although Pierce looks like the safer bet right now.
“They looked all right,” Rivers said. “Paul looked good. Rondo, you really couldn’t tell. He didn’t do much. So we’ll see tomorrow. I think he’s going to go but I wouldn’t write that down in pen for sure. Paul probably will go tomorrow it looks like, so that would help us a lot. Getting one of those guys back I’d be very happy and if we got both back it would be absolutely fantastic.”
Rondo left without talking to reporters for the second straight day although he did tell Yahoo!’s Marc Spears that he expects to play against the Heat. Pierce did talk and he said that while he’s not 100 percent, he’s feeling confident about returning to the court. Read the rest of this entry »
|Perkins, House have the flu||01.05.10 at 2:56 pm ET|
As of Tuesday afternoon Rivers said that Perkins might be able to make the team’s flight to Miami where the Celtics will play the Heat Wednesday night. House will almost certainly not make it.
“They’re home in bed,” Rivers said. “They’re both sick. Perk has the flu. Eddie has the flu. Right now it sounds like Perk is going to be able to get on the flight and I don’t think Eddie’s going to make the trip. This year especially the league has really impressed upon us that if a guy has a fever he has to stay away from the team. I agree with it, but that’s what we have to do. Perk’s feeling better. They’re not sure if its food poisoning or the flu, whereas with Eddie there’s no doubt that it’s the flu.”
When the curtain rose the Green Team (which constitutes the starters) was Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Brian Scalabrine and Rasheed Wallace. That doesn’t necessarily mean that those five would be the starters but it might be an indication of the way Rivers is leaning.
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