|Game Preview: Celtics vs. Pacers||02.27.09 at 1:24 am ET|
On Friday the Boston Celtics (46-13) will return to the TD BankNorth Garden to take on the Indiana Pacers (25-35). It has been nearly three weeks since the Celtics played on their home court, and since then a lot has changed:
- February 13-15: Big Three participate in All-Star Weekend
- February 17: Sam Cassell traded to the Sacramento Kings
- February 19 (day): Patrick O’Bryant traded to the Toronto Raptors
- February 19 (night): Kevin Garnett strains right knee; Celtics lose 90-85 to Utah Jazz
- February 22: Rajon Rondo celebrates 23rd birthday with 32 points in 128-108 win over Phoenix Suns
- February 23: Brian Scalabrine suffers cervical strain; Celtics beat Denver Nuggets 114-76
- February: 24: Stephon Marbury is bought out by the New York Knicks; Mikki Moore signs with the Celtics
- February 25: Moore debuts; Paul Pierce dislocates right thumb; Celtics lose 93-91 to Los Angeles Clippers
- February 26: Gabe Pruitt is arrested in LA for suspicion of DUI; Marbury tells New York Times he will sign with Celtics and be in uniform on February 27
The actual game between the Celtics and Pacers is overshadowed by the question of whether or not Marbury will be a Celtic prior to tip off. While the Celtics may make an addition, both teams are shorthanded. Garnett (knee), Tony Allen (thumb), and Brian Scalabrine (neck) are unavailable for the Celtics. Danny Granger (foot) and Mike Dunleavy (knee) will not play for the Pacers. The Celtics are 2-1 since losing Garnett. The Pacers are 3-1 without Granger.
Tip-off is at 7:30 EST.
|Cavs Wallace breaks leg||02.27.09 at 12:37 am ET|
Kevin Garnett’s injury could have created a window of opportunity for the Cleveland Cavaliers to pull ahead in the Eastern Conference. But now they too are down a starter. On Thursday night forward Ben Wallace broke his right leg during a 19-point loss the Houston Rockets. TNT’s David Aldridge reported Wallace will miss 8-10 weeks.
This injury is a blow to the Cavaliers front court. Wallace, 34, is one of the most experienced players on the team. Instead of having his veteran leadership down the stretch, the Cavaliers will have to rely on J.J. Hickson to step up in his rookie season. Wallace was averaging 6.7 rebounds, 3.0 points, and 24.3 minutes per game this season. Hickson is averaging 4.5 points and 2.9 boards in 12.2 minutes per game.
The Celtics will play the Cavaliers next Friday, March 6 in Boston.
|NY Times: Marbury to Boston on Friday||02.26.09 at 3:35 pm ET|
Stephon Marbury has told the New York Times he will sign with the Boston Celtics and be in uniform for Friday’s game against the Indiana Pacers. Marbury also said that he has already spoken with members of the Celtics.
“The great thing is that they want me to play with them,” Marbury told the Times from his home in Purchase, New York.
The Times also reports that Marbury is scheduled to meet with the media on Friday morning in Boston.
|Surviving without Kevin Garnett||02.26.09 at 1:26 am ET|
It is not intuitive that a team would play better without one of its best players. Maybe in the short run, but over a long stretch of time it just isn’t supposed to work that way. So, it is somewhat curious that the Celtics have assembled an enviable record without Kevin Garnett in the lineup over the last year and a half.
Last year the Celtics went 9-2 without Garnett. This season, due to suspension, illness and injury, the Celtics were a perfect 5-0 without KG before they spent most of the last night’s game with the Clippers like they had been out in L.A. Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night with Tom Waits. Fittingly, it ended on a turnover, one of 20 for the Celtics.
In all it was a bad night for the Celtics who lost a perfectly winnable game when they uncharacteristically blew their cool down the stretch. Paul Pierce picked up a technical after he had a little shove for Mardy Collins following a hard foul and Rajon Rondo failed to gain control of the game. A bad call on the timeout after Rondo missed a free throw? Sure, but they never should have been in that position in the first place.
Last night aside, how have the Celtics managed without KG? Oddly enough, while Garnett may be one of the most unique talents in the league, the Celtics are constructed in a way that covers for his absence. If they were without the services of Paul Pierce or Ray Allen for an extended period of time that would be a different story. The bench is weak in swing men, and is even weaker since the injury absence to Tony Allen. All of which makes the dislocated thumb Pierce suffered against the Clippers potentially a very big deal.
But behind Garnett the Celtics have the productive Leon Powe. Per 36 minutes, Powe averages almost 15 points and 10 rebounds per game, numbers that compare, if not favorably, than at least are in line with Garnett’s production. But Powe wasn’t the first man to replace Garnett.
The first was Brian Scalabrine who turned in a 14-point effort against Phoenix, which combined with a career game by Rondo (32 points, 10 assists and six rebounds) and superior efforts by Pierce and Allen gave the C’s more than enough offensive firepower.
When Scalabrine went out early against Denver, Powe responded with 16 points and five rebounds in 29 minutes. Additionally, Big Baby Davis put together his best stretch of games in a month, so Garnett’s absence was compensated for on the offensive end.
Defensively is where the Celtics miss Garnett the most–and they certainly did against Zach Randolph who ate them up inside–but in one of the more under-appreciated stories this year, the Celtics have become a rebounding machine.
They are the best rebounding team in the league by Rebound Rate (essentially the percentage of available rebounds a team gets), which is a far more reliable indicator than total rebounds. The Celtics were +8 against both Phoenix and Denver and effective rebounding can make any team look better on D. But against the Clippers, while they had a 41-39 edge on the boards, LA was the more efficient rebounding team and won the battle inside.
The key in replacing star players isn’t always who takes their spot in the starting lineup, it’s sometimes who covers for the backup who suddenly finds himself a starter. With Scal, the Celtics have the perfect utility player for those occasions, which is why he usually gets the call to replace Garnett or Kendrick Perkins, as it keeps the bench more or less intact and within their usual roles.
Without Scalabrine, who got whacked in the head against the Nuggets things get trickier. He missed last night’s game, and won’t play Friday either, and his absence was a major concern when Powe, Perkins and Davis all had foul trouble.
But still, the Celtics are in decent shape to ride out Garnett’s injury. The schedule isn’t terribly rough when they come back from the West Coast, with games against Indiana, a struggling Detroit team and the Nets. Cleveland comes to town next Friday and Orlando follows and you know Garnett will be angling to return for those games. Even with the loss last night that decision should have everything to do with his health, as it should be.
Quick thoughts on Mikki Moore
Mikki Moore has a career that defines the term “journeyman.” In 11 NBA seasons he has had 10 jobs with eight different teams (two stints apiece with New jersey and Boston). In those 11 seasons he has played over 2,000 minutes twice and over 1,000 minutes four times.
After a career year in New Jersey, playing alongside Jason Kidd, he had an unsatisfying year and half run with the Kings. Moore is tall, athletic and runs the floor well (he is also said to be one of the all-time good guys in the league, as well). He gives the Celtics length and experience, two qualities that are in short supply on the bench.
What he is not is P.J. Brown redux. Moore doesn’t have that consistent 15-foot jump shot that and he is not nearly the defender that Brown was. That said, Moore represented the best value at the time. There was/and is a lot of talk about Joe Smith, but there were two things conspiring against the Celtics.
The first is that Smith is not available (at least not yet). Since the trade to New Orleans was rescinded, the Thunder have held on to the veteran forward. If he was to become available, a handful of teams, notably Cleveland where Smith played last season, have more of their mid-level exception to offer. In other words, there was no guarantee that Smith would, or even could, come to Boston. A real Mikki Moore is worth more than the thought of Joe Smith.
|A look back at Marbury||02.25.09 at 8:54 am ET|
“I don’t feel I’m totally ready. The NBA and college are two totally different games. The NBA is just pick-and-roll, and if the pick-and-roll’s not there, throw it to Hakeem and he scores. How hard can that be? It’s just physical strength. Being ready means adjusting to being around older players. Right now I don’t have anything in common with those guys.”
It is hard to imagine those sentiments were once expressed by Stephon Marbury.
Before the accounts of banishment, betrayal, and buyouts, there was a different story being told of the teenage phenom. In January of 1996, Sports Illustrated printed the article, “Caught In The Middle.” At the center was a basketball wiz from Brooklyn who tried to find a sense of normalcy in a downtown Atlanta barber shop. The story offers a look back at a young Georgia Tech point guard who drove a Suzuki 4×4, senselessly blew games, and grappled with the high expectations of success.
The NBA does not make lottery picks of floor leaders whose teams lose to Mount St. Mary’s at home. With Tech up a point and a minute and a half to play, Marbury threw away a blind wraparound pass. “We don’t need to be forcing it in a close game like that,” says Drew Barry, Marbury’s fifth-year senior backcourt mate. “Stephon’s a great talent. He’s going to be a great player. But right now he has a lot to learn.”
With Barry and forwards Michael Maddox and Matt Harpring, Yellow Jacket coach Bobby Cremins has the nucleus of a pretty good team, and he wants to let Marbury, who was averaging 19.3 points and 4.4 assists at week’s end, grow naturally into the role of leading it. “Why is he not there yet?” Cremins says. “He’s stubborn. And there’s the pressure to perform. The expectations are ridiculous. All this pressure. All this hype. It really pisses me off. He’s had his mind on other things.”
Thirteen years after the Sports Illustrated article was published, WEEI.com has reported Marbury is expected to sign with the world champion Boston Celtics. At this point in his career, one can only hope the only thing on his mind is winning.
|Who is Mikki Moore?||02.24.09 at 7:31 pm ET|
On Tuesday the Boston Celtics signed free agent big man Mikki Moore. In just a matter of days since being waived by the Sacramento Kings, he had become one of the hottest players on the market. But it wasn’t that long ago that Moore was known for being a journeyman rather than a contributor on a championship-defending team. So who is Mikki Moore?
Full name: Clinton Renard Moore
Born: November 4, 1975
Hometown: Orangeburg, South Carolina
High School: Blacksburg HS, Blacksburg, SC
(Fast Fact: Celtics guard Ray Allen attended Hillcrest HS in Dalzell, SC. Moore and Allen are two of six players currently in the NBA to attend high school in that state.)
College: University of Nebraska (1997)
What’s in a name? The nickname Mikki (pronounced “Mikey”) was given to Moore as a kid because he liked to eat Life cereal. He also goes by “Snake” for his love of reptiles.
(Fast fact: Former Celtic James Posey goes by the nickname “Mike” to his friends and family)
He looks familiar: Moore signed a 10-day contract with the Celtics in 2003. He picked up six fouls in three games, but never scored a basket.
League leader: In 2007, Moore led the league in field goal percentage (.609). The following season he led the league in personal fouls (310).
(Fast fact: Former Celtics center Robert Parish was called for 310 fouls in the 1981 season. He only ranked 10th in the NBA.)
Lucky # 7: Moore will be the first player to wear number seven since Al Jefferson. Tom Gugliotta wore it prior to Big Al in 2005.
Lending a helping hand: Moore’s goal is to touch every community he plays in. He founded the Moore Love Foundation in his home state of South Carolina and bussed 600 children to a Charlotte Bobcats game. As a member of the Detroit Pistons, Moore helped knock down and rebuild homes in drug-infested neighborhoods. He also distributed Thanksgiving turkeys with the Utah Jazz, among other initiatives.
Moore’s Road (Back) to Boston
- June, 1997: Undrafted in NBA Draft
- September 30, 1997: Signed as a free agent by the Minnesota Timberwolves
- October 28, 1997: Waived by the Minnesota Timberwolves
- 1998-99: Played nine games for Papagou of the Greek League
- 1998-99: Played remainder of the season for the Fort Wayne Fury of the Continental Basketball Association
- January 21, 1999: Signed as a free agent by the Minnesota Timberwolves
- January 27, 1999: Waived by the Minnesota Timberwolves
- January 29, 1999: Signed as a free agent by the Detroit Pistons
- February 18, 1999: Waived by the Detroit Pistons
- October 5, 1999: Signed as a free agent by the Detroit Pistons
- August 5, 2002: Waived by the Detroit Pistons
- October 3, 2002: Signed as a free agent by the San Antonio Spurs
- October 24, 2002: Waived by the San Antonio Spurs
- 2002-03, 2003-04: Played for the Roanoke Dazzle of the NBA Development League
- January 6, 2003: Signed by the Boston Celtics to a 10-day contract
- April 14, 2003: Signed by the Atlanta Hawks for the remainder of the season
- September 27, 2003: Signed as a free agent by the Seattle SuperSonics
- October 21, 2003: Waived by the Seattle SuperSonics
- December 22, 2003: Signed as a free agent by the New Jersey Nets
- January 7, 2004: Waived by the New Jersey Nets
- January 28, 2004: Signed by the Utah Jazz to the first of two consecutive 10-day contracts
- March 4, 2004: Signed by the Utah Jazz for the remainder of the season
- August 20, 2004: Signed as a free agent by the Los Angeles Clippers
- August 31, 2005: Signed as a free agent by the Seattle SuperSonics
- July 7, 2006: Traded by the Seattle SuperSonics to the New Jersey Nets in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2009 NBA Draft
- July 13, 2007: Signed as a free agent by the Sacramento Kings
- February 19, 2009: Waived by Sacramento Kings
- February 24, 2009: Signed as a free agent by the Boston Celtics
|Report: Moore and the Celtics||02.23.09 at 4:05 pm ET|
WEEI.com has confirmed, through a league source, the Boston Herald‘s report that free agent Mikki Moore is expected to sign with the Boston Celtics once he clears waivers on Tuesday morning. Moore was placed on waivers by the Sacramento Kings last Thursday. According to the Herald, Celtics President Danny Ainge has denied making a formal offer. However their source insisted Moore will pick the Celtics.
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