|Injuries could impact Eastern Conference standings||04.07.10 at 12:47 am ET|
Andrew Bogut’s gruesome arm injury was the first of many to hit the Eastern Conference over the last few days. Joe Johnson will miss at least two games with a sprained thumb and Chris Bosh’s status is unclear after suffering a facial fracture on Tuesday against the Cavaliers.
With just over a week left in the regular season, these injuries could impact playoff seedings, including that of the Celtics.
Aside from the Washington Wizards, whom the C’s will play on Friday, their remaining competitors are vying for postseason positions. Johnson’s injury opens the window of opportunity for the Celtics to close in on the third seed (currently held by the Hawks), but their opponents will be trying to secure their own place in the playoffs as well.
Toronto Raptors (currently 8th)
Wednesday, April 7 @ Toronto
The Raptors were dealt a devastating blow on Tuesday when Bosh suffered an unintentional elbow to the face from Antawn Jamison. According to reports, Bosh will remain in Cleveland overnight. His status is unknown.
Milwaukee Bucks (currently 5th)
Saturday, April 10 @ Milwaukee
Wednesday, April 14 @ Boston
The Bucks posed problems for the Celtics when healthy, and now this team is on a mission without Bogut. The young squad still has plenty of weapons and will challenge the Celtics even if they don’t have their big man in the middle.
Chicago Bulls (currently one game out of 8th)
Tuesday, April 13 @ Chicago
If there is any team with something to play for right now, it is the Bulls. They were already edging toward the eighth spot. Now the injury of Bosh has created an opportunity for them to grab it if they can win enough games down the stretch.
|Fast Break: Celtics – Knicks||04.06.10 at 10:20 pm ET|
Nothing is guaranteed in the NBA, even when it’s a 48-win team taking on a team with 49 losses.
After jumping out to a 4-0 lead, the Celtics were outscored 10-2 by a Knicks squad determined to run the court. Kevin Garnett was the only Celtics to score in the first 6:53 (8 points). The C’s trailed 14-8 before Ray Allen drained a 3-pointer to get on the board. As the veterans fought to get the Celtics back in the game, the Knicks were powered by former Celtic Bill Walker and Earl Barron (see below). The Knicks led, 27-21, after the first quarter.
Doc Rivers turned to the bench to start the second quarter, including Nate Robinson who checked in late in the first. (Amid talks of playoff rotations, Robinson played eight minutes in the first half.) The second unit outscored the Knicks, 12-8, to pull within two points before the starters checked back in. Kendrick Perkins tied the game up at 40 apiece with five minutes to go, and the game transformed into a back-and-forth battle.
The Celtics trailed by one, 53-52, at halftime. After two quarters, Barron posted 13 points and 8 rebounds. Allen led all scorers with 14 points. Garnett scored 12 points off of 6-for-9 shooting.
In the third quarter, Danilo Gallinari took the Knicks’ three-point lead and ran away with it. He scored 19 points in the quarter off a combination of free throws, layups, and jumpshots. Even though the Celtics tied the game, 65-65, the Knicks pulled away on a 15-6 run. The Knicks led 86-78 after the third.
The Celtics opened the fourth quarter on a quick 7-0 run. They reclaimed the lead, 88-86, off of a Michael Finley 3-pointer. Robinson added an energetic 5 points and assist in the first six minutes. But this was only the beginning of a shot-for-shot duel down the stretch. Even though the Celtics outscored the Knicks, 23-18, in the final quarter, they were unable to overcome their previous deficits. The game went down to the wire (see Turning Point below) before the Knicks prevailed, 104-101.
Gallinari led all players with 31 points. Ray Allen led the Celtics with 17.
Turning Point: After officials recalled a Danilo Gallinari 3-pointer with 36 seconds left, Paul Pierce turned the ball over on a bad pass. Chris Duhon stole the ball and David Lee connected for the game-winning layup. The Celtics failed to attempt a shot on their final possession.
Player of the Game: Danilo Gallinari scored a game-high 31 points, but Earl Barron set the tone early for the Knicks. He posted 17 points and 18 rebounds in just his second game with his team.
– Who is Earl Barron? Barron, 28, signed a 10-day contract with the Knicks last week. The undrafted center has appeared in nearly as many games in the NBA Development League as the NBA. He has played for the Miami Heat as well as several D-League teams. Barron scored 10 points in his Knicks debut on Saturday.
– Former Celtics Watch: Bill Walker posted 10 points and three rebounds in 28 minutes. J.R. Giddens added 4 points and 2 rebounds in 15 minutes.
– Six of the eight Knicks who played scored in double digits. Five out of 11 Celtics scored more than 10 points.
– The Celtics were outrebounded, 44-34. Lee and Barron combined for 27.
|Halftime Wrap: Celtics – Knicks||04.06.10 at 8:49 pm ET|
Nothing is guaranteed in the NBA, even when it’s a 48-win taking on a team with 49 losses.
After jumping out to a 4-0 lead, the Celtics were outscored 10-2 by a Knicks squad determined to run the court. Kevin Garnett was the only Celtics to score in the first 6:53 (8 points). The C’s trailed 14-8 before Ray Allen drained a 3-pointer to get on the board. As the veterans fought to get the Celtics back in the game, the Knicks were powered by former Celtic Bill Walker and Earl Barron, who has played nearly as many games in the NBA as he has in the D-League. The Knicks led, 27-21, after the first quarter.
Doc Rivers turned to the bench to start the second quarter, including Nate Robinson who checked in late in the first. (Amid talks of playoff rotations, Robinson played eight minutes in the first half.) The second unit outscored the Knicks, 12-8, to pull within two points before the starters checked back in. Kendrick Perkins tied the game up at 40 apiece with five minutes to go, and the game has been a back-and-forth battle since then. The Celtics trail by one, 53-52, at halftime.
Allen leads all scorers with 14 points. Barron leads the Knicks with 13 points and 8 rebounds. Garnett scored 12 points off of 6-for-9 shooting. The Celtics are 10-11 when trailing at the half.
|Preview: Celtics-Knicks||04.06.10 at 10:42 am ET|
The Celtics went 3-3 on their homestand and there was some good mixed with the continuation of a disturbing pattern.
And the bad. They have been absolutely terrible in the second half. Even in two of their wins the Celtics melted down in the fourth quarter, barely beating the Kings and Cleveland. They also collapsed in the second half against San Antonio and didn’t execute at the end of losses to Houston and Oklahoma City.
Paul Pierce called them learning experiences, but why should a veteran team at this stage of the season have to go through them? With six games left in the regular season we either know everything there is to know about the Celtics, or we know nothing at all, because based on their regular-season performance this is not a team that is capable of winning a championship.
CELTICS (48-28, 6-4 last 10)
Points Per Game: 99.1
Points Allowed: 95.1
Differential: +4.0 (9th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.4 (15th)
Defensive Efficiency: 103.0 (2nd)
Pace: 91.8 (20th)
KNICKS (27-49, 4-6 last 10)
Points Per Game: 101.8
Points Allowed: 105.4
Differential: -3.6 (22nd)
Offensive Efficiency: 106.9 (18th)
Defensive Efficiency: 110.7 (24th)
Pace: 94.2 (6th)
|Showing Sheed some love||04.05.10 at 6:38 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Doc Rivers has been around the NBA as a player and coach long enough to know when and where to pick your battles.
With the season winding down and the playoffs approaching, the last thing he need is for his back-up veteran post player to be unhappy and feel unwanted by his team.
This is why Rivers spoke with Rasheed Wallace on Monday about his outburst in the second half of their game against Cleveland, with much of Wallace’s fury pointed in Rivers’ direction following a technical foul.
River said he worked things out with Wallace following their on-court dispute during a talk before the team’s trip to New York for Tuesday’s game with the Knicks.
“Rasheed’s emotional, he’s been emotional and some of that won’t change. I can accept that,” Rivers said. “As a coach, when an emotional hijack happens, your job is to get your team to function. You can’t focus on the one at that point.”
Rivers said following Sunday’s game that he did not plan to publicly punish Wallace, after the veteran picked up a technical foul and then argued with Rivers as the coach took him out of the game.
“Yeah, he apologized. They all do,” Rivers said. “It’s not personal. Rasheed and I get along great. Rasheed gets along great with his teammates. But when you have an emotional hijack, you don’t get along well with anyone at that moment. We just had a great talk. He always apologizes. All of them do the next day about techs but I didn’t seek his apology. He just said, ‘Hey, I should’ve controlled myself some.'”
|Doc on the Cavs: ‘I like the hatred’||04.05.10 at 4:55 pm ET|
No friends allowed.
“I like the hatred,’ Rivers said. ‘I think that’s good. I do think the two teams don’t like each other, for whatever reason. I don’t ever think that’s a bad thing, personally. I think that’s a good thing. I just don’t want to see that officiated. I think going into games, people know that. Just line them up and let them play.”
When told that James endorses a more fierce mentality between teams, Rivers said that’s good for the league.
Rivers has maintained for years that the dynamic between NBA players has changed forever with the evolution of basketball camps such as Nike and AAU, where players get to know each other at a young age – usually in high school.
“I’m all for it,’ Rivers said. ‘I love it. He’s the new leader. I think we should all listen to LeBron, if that’s what he’s saying. I really believe that. I said many times, the AAU thing has changed the game in that way. Everyone knows each other. I don’t understand how everybody is still friends. It drives me nuts. That’s just the way it is.
“I used to fight that my first couple of years here and in Orlando. Even in Orlando, I went so far as if you shake a guy’s hand before a game, I was going to fine you. Then I realized they know each other, they’re friends, so I gave in.”
|James took lessons learned from battles with Pierce||04.04.10 at 11:58 pm ET|
The matchup between Paul Pierce and LeBron James is one of the most competitive battles in the NBA. But before James was dominating the scoreboard, he was trying to learn from his veteran counterpart.
“When I first came into the league, he was a seasoned vet and I was a rookie just trying to learn the curve and things like that,” James said prior to the Celtics 117-113 win over the Cavaliers. “Over the years, he’s still been an All-Star, he’s still been competitive. I’m just trying to develop my game to be one of the best three’s (small forwards) in the league, to be on Paul Pierce’s level and all these other guys’ level.”
On Sunday, James outscored Pierce, 42-16 (20 of his points came in the fourth quarter alone). It’s a far cry from their first regular-season matchup seven years ago. On Nov. 13, 2003, James ‘ as a rookie ‘ scored 10 points in a 91-82 loss to the Celtics. In that one, Pierce, who was entering his sixth season, led the C’s with 19 points.
‘You learn, the game itself teaches you game after game after game,” James said. ‘But you learn when you go against the best, you see why they are considered the best at that time or still now because of the work they put into it. They never took a night off.’
James is averaging 29.9 points this season (30.6 in his last five contests) and has scored more than 20 points in all but one game since the All-Star Break. He wrapped up his regular season matchup with the Celtics averaging 36.5 points in four games.
‘I’ve been able to be recognized as one of the best three’s that we have in this league,” James added, “So it’s always fun to go against the best guys in the league, and Paul continues to be that since I was a rookie.’
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