|How close is that corner?||03.14.10 at 11:03 pm ET|
The Celtics repeatedly have mentioned ‘turning a corner’ to get back on a winning track. But with 17 games left in the regular season, how far away is that corner?
‘I don’t know, maybe 17 blocks,’ Rajon Rondo guesstimated on Friday. ‘It should be the same zip code.’
Doc Rivers said he has felt his team getting closer, including at times during Sunday’s loss to the Cavaliers. ‘I told our guys, it’s frustrating for me because I could see in a lot of ways how close we are to breaking out and to being really good,’ he told reporters after the game. But the Celtics trailed the Cavs by as many as 17 in the fourth quarter and lost for the third time in four games.
The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 contests, a stretch that included a three-game winning streak and a pair of two-game skids. Ray Allen understands the regular season can be a series of ups and downs, the reason why he thinks that corner isn’t that distant.
‘I live on an island. I don’t have blocks or anything in the country,’ Ray Allen said. ‘Any time you have to turn a corner, the corner is a block away. It’s just a block away because once you do something well, you feel like you’ve turned a corner. So it’s never that far away. Just like when you’re good, you’re just teeter-tottering on being bad, vice versa.’
|Fast Break: Celtics vs. Cavaliers||03.14.10 at 5:30 pm ET|
Winning in Cleveland was important to the Celtics, but Doc Rivers knew beating the Celtics at home would be significant to the Cavaliers, too. On Sunday, the Cavs defended their homecourt (where they are now 29-4) and defeated the Celtics, 104-93.
LeBron James scored just two field goals in the first quarter and had six points in the entire first half, but finished with a game-high 30 points.
The Big Three tried to carry the Celtics offensively — Ray Allen led with 20 points; Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce followed with 18 each. Rajon Rondo led the C’s with eight boards, but the team was outrebounded 51-43.
Turning Point: The Celtics had an opportunity to reclaim control of this game in the third quarter. Allen and Pierce tied the game at 68 apiece with back-to-back 3-pointers. But Garnett and Rondo committed a pair of turnovers in 24 seconds and the Cavs went on an 8-0 run.
Player of the Game: After Saturday’s practice, Kendrick Perkins said Anderson Varejao was an instigator on the court, and he proved to be on Sunday. Varejao scored 15 points and grabbed 6 rebounds off the bench in the first half alone. His tough play early on set the tone for the Cavaliers.
– Garnett and Glen Davis were both involved in rough play during the game. Early in the first, Garnett and J.J. Hickson were called for technical fouls after exchanging words under the basket. In the third, Garnett went for the ball and ended up hitting James in the face. James fell to the ground and had to go to the bench during a subsequent timeout. As for Davis, he practically leapt at Antawn Jamison and knocked him to the floor while attempting a 3-pointer.
– One of the reasons why the Celtics were able to stay in the game was because of free throw shooting. They shot 23-for-30 from the line while the Cavs were 31-for-48.
– The Celtics shot 0-for-6 from 3-point range in the first half, but went 6-for-11 in the second. Allen and Pierce hit three apiece.
– Former Celtic Leon Powe scored six points and grabbed four rebounds in eight minutes for the Cavs.
|Third Quarter Wrap: Celtics vs. Cavaliers||03.14.10 at 4:39 pm ET|
Early in the third, Kevin Garnett went for the ball and hit LeBron James in the face. James fell to the ground and went to the bench for a timeout. He returned to the game and scored 11 points in the quarter.
Even though they trail, the Celtics did even things up in the quarter. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game at 68 apiece. But they committed two consecutive turnovers and the Cavs quickly went back up by six.
Garnett and Glen Davis both picked up their fourth fouls. The Celtics, however, have a strong advantage at the line. They are shooting 20-for-23 from the line while the Cavs are 19-for-30.
|Second Quarter Wrap: Celtics vs. Cavaliers||03.14.10 at 3:50 pm ET|
Glen Davis committed another tough foul against the Cavaliers. He practically leapt at Antawn Jamison and knocked him to the ground while shooting a 3-pointer. He picked up three fouls in the first half.
The Celtics are 0-for-6 from behind the arc while the Cavs are 5-for-12.
|First Quarter Wrap: Celtics vs. Cavaliers||03.14.10 at 3:07 pm ET|
The first 10:30 of the Celtics-Cavaliers game was a back-and-forth battle of ties and lead changes. But that was before LeBron James got on the scoreboard. He hit his field goal with 1:44 left and scored five points in a span of 45 seconds. The Cavs finished the quarter on an 8-0 run and lead 24-18.
Kevin Garnett and J.J. Hickson were issued double technicals after exchanging words under the basket. Both players led their teams with eight points.
Glen Davis was booed as he entered the game with 3:10 left in the quarter. Not surprising after Shaquille O’Neal suffered a sprained thumb at the hands of Davis last month.
|Doc: ‘It’s a big game for them, too’||03.14.10 at 10:50 am ET|
“I think we’ll come in and play terrific,” Rivers said. “But we just have to play hard. There’s no guarantees. But listen, it’s a big game for them, too. It ain’t just one way. I always laugh when I hear guys say it’s a must win. But what if it’s a must-win for both teams? Someone’s not going to win.”
The Celtics (41-23) are coming off a 19-point win over Indiana on Friday night at home and trail third-place Atlanta by a half-game in the East. Meanwhile the Cavs come in with a 51-15 record, and lead the Lakers by three games for the best mark in the NBA.
LeBron James is playing his second game back from a sprained right ankle.
“It would be great, though,” Rivers said of a win in Cleveland. “I think our team is looking forward to it,” Rivers said. “And I guarantee you they’re looking forward to it. There’s no coincidence that LeBron James rested two games and came back. That’s not a coincidence but that’s fine.”
The Cavs will be without Shaquille O’Neal, likely out for the rest of the regular season following surgery on his right thumb, injured the last time the two teams met when Glen Davis went up to block an O’Neal shot. On Sunday, Davis denied hurting O’Neal intentionally during their Feb. 25 meeting.
‘They’re playing the same guys, really. They haven’t changed their offense or anything. They’re quicker, faster, more athletic.”
The Celtics are visiting Cleveland for the first time since Oct. 27, when they claimed a 96-89 win over the Cavs on opening night.
|Perkins: Cavs better without Shaq||03.13.10 at 3:37 pm ET|
There is no denying that Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most challenging big men to go up against in the NBA. But in the case of the Cavaliers, Kendrick Perkins thinks they are better suited without him.
The Cavaliers are 6-1 since O’Neal suffered a sprained thumb on February 25 against the Celtics. While it should be noted that wins during that stretch came against the sub-.500 Knicks, Nets, Pistons, and 76ers, Perkins believes that the Cavaliers have more options and speed without O’Neal.
‘In my opinion, I think they’re better,’ he said after practice on Saturday. ‘They can run more, you’ve got Anderson Varejao who’s more of an active body, he gets LeBron open a lot, opens up the paint for him, so I think they’re a better team. I mean obviously Shaq could help them, but I think they’re a better, more fast-paced team.’
Even without O’Neal on the court, Perkins will still have hands full in the paint. Anderson Varejao isn’t as big as O’Neal, but he causes problems for opponents in his own way.
‘You’ve just got to take him out of the game,’ said Perkins. ‘I think you’ve got to, all the time he’s more of the instigator. I think you’ve got to be more of the instigator when you’re playing against him. You’ve got to hit him first. He’s a guy who flops, gets a lot of calls, takes charges, offensive rebounds, so I think you’ve just got to keep a body on him and play against him hard.’
Varejao is averaging 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in two games against the Celtics this season, compared to 8.0 points and 6.0 rebounds from O’Neal.
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