|First quarter update||04.20.09 at 7:41 pm ET|
What’s best strategy against a team that presses? You press them back. Similarly, it was clear from the opening seconds that the Celtics wanted to run against a team that runs. Rajon Rondo was sensational in the first quarter with nine points, four rebounds, six assists and a combined five fouls against Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich. The Bulls blocked seven shots in the first quarter, but that’s a fine trade-off for taking the ball to the basket aggressively as the Celtics have done time and again.
The biggest beneficiary has been Big Baby Davis who scored 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting, with most of them coming on kickout jumpers off dribble penetration. The C’s also wanted to be tougher defensively and Kendrick Perkins set the tone with a hard foul on John Salmons three minutes into the game.
The only downside for the C’s is that Ray Allen is 0-for-2 and appears tentative early. After one, it’s 35-29 Celtics.
|Big start for the Celtics||04.20.09 at 7:19 pm ET|
Scratch slow starts off the check list for the Celtics. They came out ready to play tonight. Rajon Rondo has been pushing the tempo at every opportunity and taking it hard at the Bulls big men. Even though he is 1-for-3, the strategy has worked because Chicago is paying so much attention to Rondo that the C’s are getting weakside offensive boards.
Another benefit? Derrick Rose got two quick fouls and is out of the game. Something else to watch: Brad Miller was not happy with Kendrick Perkin’s hard foul on John Salmons. Miller, who is one of the toughest dudes in the league, came flying off the bench and had to be mildly restrained by a Bulls assistant.
|Garnett back on the bench||04.20.09 at 7:12 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett is back on the bench for Game 2 of the Celtics-Bulls series. Even though the Celtics have six points on the board two minutes into the game, Garnett and the rest of the Cs are still standing on the sideline. Garnett did not return to the bench for the second half of Game 1.
|Celtics to-do list||04.20.09 at 10:46 am ET|
Having had 48 hours or so to digest that kick in the head/wakeup call that was Game 1, the Celtics should know what they have to do tonight against the Bulls. Before we get there, a quick word about the opening weekend of the playoffs.
The Celts loss to Chicago wasn’t even close to the most surprising result of the Game 1’s. That would be the crush job the Rockets laid on Portland in the Rose City followed by the huge comeback by the Sixers against Orlando. You could even throw up the Hawks beatdown of Miami ahead of the C’s loss in the stunner category. Strange days, indeed.
OK, back to the Celtics. The gameplan is really quite simple, executing it might not be so easy.
1. It’s the playoffs, a little urgency please?
The slow starts have become something of an unfortunate trademark for the Celtics lately. Doc Rivers was mad at his team for making Chicago “comfortable” early on Saturday. The Celts need to make a statement in the first 12 minutes.
2. Make Derrick Rose shoot jumpers.
If the rookie can make 20-footers consistently then it might be game over, but the Celtics can not let him get into the paint like they did in Game 1. Either way, the rotations were slow and Rajon Rondo gambled way too much.
3. Get Ray Allen untracked.
Jess wrote about this yesterday. The corollary to that is the Celtics have to return to the ball-movement that has been their offensive trademark. Dribble, dribble, stand around plays right into Chicago’s hands.
4. The Kevin Garnett sideshow needs to stop.
We have reports of surgery, delaying surgery and (gasp!) KG dribbling. The Celtics have always been good about managing the news and the best way for this to happen is to put Garnett up at the podium and have him answer questions. He won’t like it, but it’s the best thing for everyone involved. Conspiracy theories flourish in a vacuum and that’s exactly what we have right now.
|They call him ‘Big Cuddly’||04.20.09 at 12:14 am ET|
Music can be used to get players in ‘the zone.’ Rasheed Wallace blares hip hop music through the Detroit Pistons locker room. Tony Allen shows off his rap skills before every Celtics game. And then there’s Glen Davis.
On any given night, Big Baby can be seen sauntering down the halls of the TD BankNorth Garden singing Jason Mraz or offering his own rendition of Celine Dion in the Celtics locker room. Davis has an explanation for his unexpected song choice.
‘I’m an emotional player and when I’m mad or I’m thinking mad, I’m not thinking at all,’ Davis said. ‘But when I’m smooth and I understand what’s going on, the rhythm of the game, I’m having fun, that’s the way I am.’
Davis’ postseason playlist keeps him ‘smooth’ in high pressure situations. He lists ‘Bubbly‘ by Colbie Caillat along with ‘Beat It’ and ‘Billy Jean’ by Michael Jackson as his playoff favorites.
So what do his teammates say when he blurts out the latest pop hits?
‘Nothing, they already know,’ he said. ‘They call me ‘Big Cuddly’ because I look like a big cuddly bear.’
|More minutes for Marbury?||04.19.09 at 3:23 pm ET|
Marbury was scoreless after attempting just two shots. It wasn’t that he couldn’t get open, either. Marbury has been playing selflessly since joining the Celtics, often passing up his own looks.
“Steph’s going to be fine. He should have been more aggressive but I should have played him more,” Rivers said after practice on Sunday. “I don’t think I played Steph enough last night to get him going. I thought in the first half the second unit actually had a nice little rhythm going, and in the second half I didn’t play him as much.”
Marbury has a postseason career average of 18.4 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.7 rebounds in 41.1 minutes. Prior to this series, he played his last playoff game in 2004 with the New York Knicks.
Related Story: The Wait Ends for Marbury This Weekend
|Doc: Celtics have to get Ray open||04.19.09 at 3:00 pm ET|
The day after losing Game One in overtime to Chicago, the Celtics honed in on their mistakes with a lengthy film session. They focused on sticking with their game plan, taking away the Bulls transition game, and making the second pass. And after Ray Allen went 1-for-12 on Saturday, they focused on getting him the open shot.
“We’ve got to do a better job of getting Ray open. We didn’t set enough picks for Ray,” said Doc Rivers. “So we’ve got to get him open, give him more time. I think he had two good looks, one was late in the game, but even that, the pass was late. I told them that shooters have to have the ball in their rhythm and they have to have time. And I thought when our shooters were open, we didn’t get them the ball in time and we threw them off rhythm. And then a lot of times they were not open because we didn’t set good picks.”
Rives stressed the importance of playing as a team, not being “the guy.” On Saturday, the Celtics dished 16 assists, nearly seven less than their season average.
“The way our team is built, especially now with KG out, we need to get out and break a little bit more, get Paul and Ray easy shots, get them to the free throw line, so that way their jumpshots will flow easier,” said Rajon Rondo.
Sunday’s practice wrapped with a three-pointer … by Ray Allen.
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