|Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers||12.22.08 at 10:50 pm ET|
On Tuesday night the Boston Celtics (26-2) will take on the Philadelphia 76ers (12-15) at the TD BankNorth Garden. The Celtics enter the game on an 18-game winning streak and could break the franchise mark for consecutive wins with a victory over the Sixers. They also have the chance to set a new NBA record for best start with two losses.
The Big Three + Two
The impressive play by Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins is making headlines nationwide, from ESPN.com features on Rondo to CBS Sports plugs for Perk as a fantasy basketball must-have. So just how well have these two young starters been playing as of late? Let’s take a look at the last five games …
17 blocked shots (T-4 NBA): ahead of Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, and Yao Ming
13.8 PPG: ahead of centers Andrew Bynum, Tyson Chandler, and Andrew Bogut
11.4 RPG: ahead of Chris Bosh, Shaquille O’Neal, and Zach Randolph, tied fourth among all centers with Al Jefferson
16.0 PPG: ahead of Andre Iguodala, Baron Davis, and Manu Ginobili
7.4 APG: ahead of Chauncey Billups, Jason Kidd, and Tony Parker
6.4 RPG: ahead of Kobe Bryant, Brandon Roy, and Dwyane Wade
The Celtics bench will be one-man short for the second game in a row. Glen “Big Baby” Davis will sit out with a concussion and cervical strain sustained in a car accident on Sunday. Davis is listed as day-to-day. The 76ers will be without starting forward Elton Brand, who is sidelined at least a month with a dislocated shoulder. Last season, before acquiring Brand, the Sixers stifled the Celtics with their running game. Their post-game failed miserably this season against the Cs but the absence of Brand may allow them to get out and go, which could pose a challenge. Sixers guard Willie Green (ankle) is also day-to-day.
Making Enemies Early
Marreese Speights made a rookie mistake by losing his poise late in the Celtics 102-78 win back in November. The big man was ejected with 43 seconds left for committing a flagrant foul against Brian Scalabrine. Don’t be surprised if Speights is booed for messing with Scal.
In the Last Five Games …
Celtics: 106.4 PPG, +12.2 differential, 53.5% FG, 41.8% 3PG, 71.2% FT, 24.2 APG, 45.0 RPG, 8.4 SPG
76ers: 94.4 PPG, +1.8 differential, 46.8% FG, 26.2% 3PG, 76.3% FT, 20.6 APG, 42.0 RPG, 7.6 SPG
Check back with WEEI’s Celtics Game Day Blog for all the action from the TD BankNorth Garden.
|Big Baby Injury Update||12.22.08 at 1:00 pm ET|
After seeing Boston Celtics team physician, Dr. Brian McKeon, it was determined that Glen Davis will not play on Tuesday against the Philadelphia 76ers. Davis sustained a concussion and cervical strain in a car accident on Sunday en route to the Celtics/New York Knicks game. He is listed as day-to-day.
|The Beginning of a Celtics Legend||12.21.08 at 11:23 pm ET|
On December 19, 1956, Bill Russell signed his first contract with the Boston Celtics.
On December 19, 2008, I went back to where he made history.
In the 1950s Bill Russell transformed the University of San Francisco from a small school in California into a collegiate basketball powerhouse. Russell, and future Celtic teammate K.C. Jones, led the Dons on a 55-game winning streak and back-to-back NCAA Championships in 1955 and 1956, shattering racial barriers along the way.
Despite their success, the men’s basketball team was forced to practice in various high school gyms and played “home games” on random courts in the Bay Area. It wasn’t until two years after Russell left for the NBA that the Dons were granted their own gymnasium on campus.
Today, tucked away in the hills of San Francisco, there is not only a basketball court but a tribute to the man who put USF basketball on the map as one of the most notable collegiate programs in NCAA history. See more pictures of Russell’s legacy at USF after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
|Big Baby Hospitalized after Car Accident||12.21.08 at 4:45 pm ET|
Glen “Big Baby” Davis was hospitalized on Sunday after suffering a concussion and whiplash on his way to the Boston Celtics game against the New York Knicks. Davis will spend the night in the hospital and there is no word when he will rejoin the team. As Rajon Rondo blogged on Yardbarker, many of the Celtics checked into hotel rooms to lessen their commutes to the Garden this weekend.
|Sounds of the Game… Celtics 126, Bulls 108||12.20.08 at 10:32 am ET|
What makes a great team is when it can constantly find way to get better even when things are already going so well. Doc Rivers and staff worked with center Kendrick Perkins to work on setting better screens and picks, convincing him that this would lead to better seals under the basket and eventually more scoring opportunities for him. The result? Perk scored a career high 25 points on Friday night, second only to Ray Allen’s 27 as the C’s (yawn-yawn) dispatched of the Chicago Bulls 126-108 at TD Banknorth Garden. Now, the Celtics can match the team’s all-time winning streak mark of 18 on Sunday night against Quentin Richardson and the Knicks at home. If victorious against New York, the chance to break it comes on Tuesday against another arch-rival, the Philadelphia 76ers.
|Things We’ve Learned||12.19.08 at 9:09 pm ET|
(For a recap of the Celtics’ 126-108 blowout over the Bulls, click HERE.)
The last time the Celtics lost a game, Dustin Pedroia had yet to be named MVP, John Kerry still had a shot at Secretary of State and Bernard Madoff was the king of Palm Beach. It’s been a while, in other words.
“I don’t even know our record,” Kevin Garnett said after yet another blowout win, this time over the Bulls. “I just know that we’ve got a couple of losses.”
The record, for the record, is 25-2 and the winning streak is 17 in a row. It’s getting to be like a broken record with this team. They’re just taking it one game at a time, yada, yada, yada. But with each win, we learn a little bit more about the 2008-09 Celtics.
1. Perk is a beast–who also has a nice touch.
Kendrick Perkins turned in a career-best performance with 25 points on 12-for-15 shooting. Most of those shots were of the high-percentage variety, but he is doing things, like putting the ball on the floor on the perimeter, for example, that would have been unthinkable even back in November.
The key for Perkins against the Bulls wasn’t his shotmaking ability, however, it was his willingness to do the little things, specifically setting screens to get Ray Allen open that was important. Doc Rivers had a conversation with him about that very subject before Friday night’s game and when he did, and the Bulls didn’t follow him off the screen, he was wide open underneath.
“They rotated to the other guys, to the shooters, and left Perk kind of right there,” Paul Pierce said. “We put pressure on them with our penetration, and as you know when Rondo gets into the lane it just seems like everyone collapses on him. A number of times he was able to find Perk for a layup or a dunk.”
2. Rajon Rondo is not faster than Usain Bolt
But he’d probably like the chance at trying his luck against the Jamaican sprinter who was in attendance Friday. That was the joke in the locker room after Rondo dished out 15 assists (against just one turnover). As a team the Celtics had 40 assists. That’s 4 and a 0. Even if that number was slightly inflated by the hometown stat keepers it was proof that the Celtics are back to their pass-happy ways.
“I thought a couple of times we over-passed, but that’s a problem I’d like to have all the time,” Rivers said. The Celtics scored 126 points and no one took more than 18 shots. Offensive efficiency, meet your definition.
3. Kevin Garnett is not getting traded
“I got one rebound,” KG said when he walked into the post-game press conference. “On this team, with Rondo and Perkins you can’t get a rebound. They’re going to trade me.”
Not happening, of course, but even with Garnett getting just a solitary board, the Celtics still out-rebounded the Bulls, 35-31. Not only did they have more rebounds, the Celtics had a whopping 13 offensive rebounds on only 34 missed shots. That’s not an edge, that’s domination.
4. They really don’t care about the streak
They have said it so many times that it’s become Belichickian and the subject of press-room jokes, but they really, really mean it. They just don’t care.
“We know what our goal is and we just kind of go what we said last year and take it one game at a time,” Pierce said. “And not get bored by the process.”
Wait. Back it up. That’s the key phrase right there: Not get bored by the process.
It’s impossible to not get bored by the process. It’s December, there’s 55 games left in the regular season, there’s a foot of snow on the ground and there’s a trip to LA looming. And yet, the Celtics played one of their best offensive games of this season, or any other season. Maybe it’s time to start believing the locker room cliches.
|73 or 34 in a row||12.19.08 at 7:42 pm ET|
Chicago, one of the most important bands of the 70s once wondered, 25 or 6 to 4. Sitting here at TD Banknorth Garden watching Chicago’s NBA entry offer precious little resistance to the Celtics, your intrepid reporter was inspired to re-work the question.
What is more likely, the Celtics winning 73 games in a season to break the 1997 Chicago Bulls all-time record or 34 straight wins to top the mark by the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers?
Would love to hear your comments and thoughts. Just Email Trags
This reporter is on record maintaining that as the Celtics are currently constituted, they will win 73 and set the new record. As for 34 straight, with a West Coast swing on the docket starting Christmas Day, that might be too much, even for these Celtics.
One other random question… With Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, in attendance at the Garden taking in the game, who is in better shape, Bolt or Ray Allen? When the two shook hands just prior to the fourth quarter at the scorer’s table, it marked a meeting of two supremely conditioned athletes.
Then, following the game, Bolt entered the locker room for a personal chat with the team and coaching staff. There was this question posed… Who would win a race, Bolt or Rajon Rondo?
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