|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.
|Pierce Playoff Ticket Giveaway||04.10.09 at 5:56 pm ET|
Paul Pierce has been in the giving mood lately, offering up tickets to Boston Celtics fans on several occasions. This time he is running a contest on his website (www.paulpierce.net) for a chance to watch the Celtics second home playoff game in his private suite. The winner will be given 12 tickets and a $500 food and beverage credit. It costs $10 to enter — $2 for five chances to win. The deadline and drawing is Friday, April 17. Click here for more details.
|KG, Powe close to games||04.10.09 at 12:19 pm ET|
When are regular season games more like practice?
When you’re trying to get two important pieces of your puzzle in order before the playoffs start.
Such is the case for Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who said at Friday morning’s shootaround that he still hopes to get Kevin Garnett (right knee) back in game action on Tuesday in Philadelphia and on Wednesday in the season finale against Washington.
“If we can play him 10 or 15 minutes, we will, if that’s what we think will give him better rhythm,” Rivers said. “But for us, we’ll use it as practice, and that may be the same for Leon.”
Leon Powe (right knee) went through some plays with the team on Friday morning, but not at full speed. He then worked with coach Clifford Ray on a rebounding drill where he caught the ball atop his ahead and then jumped back up immediately and shot the ball without bringing the ball below his shoulders.
“He was just trying to do drills to see how the leg responds,” Powe said. “So far, it responded real well to the drills we were doing.”
But don’t look for Brian Scalabrine (post-concussion) to return to action in the final two games of the season. Rivers said he would still rather be safe than sorry.
“The Scal thing, I’m not so sure,” Rivers said. “Even though I think he’s improving, I don’t know if we want to take the chance in a regular season game with him. Ball hits him on the head and he goes down, we literally don’t want to take that chance.”
The Celtics play Miami tonight and then at Cleveland on Sunday before wrapping up the season with a game on Tuesday in Philadelphia and at home against Washington on Sunday.