|Backcourt steps up||02.22.09 at 6:57 pm ET|
Shaquille O’Neal was supposed to be a problem for the Boston Celtics. He was supposed to push around their little big men and have the Celtics counting down the days until Kevin Garnett returned from his knee injury. But it was one of the smallest guys on the court who caused the biggest problems. Led by Rajon Rondo, the Celtics backcourt dominated the Phoenix Suns. (RECAP HERE)
32 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 13-18 FG, 1-1 3PG, 5-9 FT, 3 STL
On his 23rd birthday, Rondo made 35-year-old Steve Nash look about ten years older. The Suns had no way of stopping Rondo, not even O’Neal’s presence made a difference — Rondo scored however and from wherever he pleased. The absence of Garnett creates more opportunities for him to take his jumpshot, and judging by his shot chart, there is little need to question whether or not he has developed one.
31 points, 4 rebounds, 10-15 FG, 4-8 3PG, 7-8 FT
It’s no secret that Allen can’t be left alone on the arc. On Sunday he couldn’t be left alone, period. Allen spread the Suns defense with a balanced attack of long and mid-range shots. Allen was on his mark, hitting 10 field goals and scoring 30 points for the first time since January 11 against the Toronto Raptors. He also set a new franchise record with 72 consecutive free throws made, passing Larry Bird’s previous mark of 71.
26 points, 6 rebounds, 8-17 FG, 10-10 FT
The Celtics couldn’t score 128 points without Pierce making an impact. Pierce struggled in the first half (1-8 FG), so when his shot didn’t fall he got to the line (6-6 FT). Then he turned it on in the second half to score 18 points in 22 minutes. The captain played a team-high 44 minutes and by the end of the game had gone to the line 10 times. The Celtics improved to 12-3 when Pierce attempts at least 10 free throws.
The Celtics will travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets on Monday night.
|Report: KG out 2-3 weeks||02.21.09 at 1:48 am ET|
According to Marc Spears of the Boston Globe, Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge has said Kevin Garnett will miss 2-3 weeks with a posterior muscle strain of the right knee. Garnett left the court hobbling during Thursday’s loss to the Utah Jazz. Ainge told the Globe, “Rest and ice for KG.”
|O’Bryant wasn’t ready||02.20.09 at 3:12 pm ET|
‘I feel like I’m pretty ready,’ he said prior to the All-Star Break. ‘I never feel like I’m not ready, I don’t want to get down on myself. But I feel like I’m ready. In Doc’s eyes I might not be, so I’ve just got to take his advice and keep pushing forward.’
In spite of being a big man on a team in need of length, O’Bryant averaged just 4.2 minutes in 26 games this season (less playing time than everyone on the Celtics except for Sam Cassell and J.R. Giddens). Last summer an informed source questioned if O’Bryant would be able to shake his two-guard mentality in a seven-foot frame. His defensive abilities continued to be a cause for concern.
‘He’s been stressing Celtics D,’ O’Bryant said of Rivers. ‘It’s different than any other team’s expectations. They’re a championship team and you’ve got to be able to play at a championship level.’
O’Bryant was looking forward to growing as a shot blocker and rebounder in the second half of the season. He was eager to back up Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins off the bench. Now he can try to do the same for Chris Bosh.
|Stoudemire out against Celtics||02.20.09 at 1:14 pm ET|
When the Boston Celtics face the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, Kevin Garnett will not be the only big man out of the game. Suns power forward Amar’e Stoudemire underwent successful eye surgery today and could miss eight weeks, according to multiple reports. Stoudemire suffered a partially detached retina in Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. ESPN has reported Garnett will return to Boston today for an MRI after straining his right knee during Thursday’s loss to the Utah Jazz.
|Celtics-Jazz instant analysis||02.20.09 at 1:48 am ET|
The Celtics lost a game to the Jazz in the early morning hours. (For a full recap of the 90-85 defeat in Utah, CLICK HERE.) They lost because they couldn’t figure out a way to score down the stretch and they couldn’t get a key rebound after dominating the boards for most of the night. Most of all they lost because Kevin Garnett was not on the floor.
Garnett came down awkwardly late in the first half favoring his right knee. Danny Ainge said on the TNT broadcast that it had been bothering him for the last few weeks. Garnett tried to warm up for the second half and apparently wanted to play, but Doc Rivers shut him down.
The team is calling it a “sprained right knee,” and there wasn’t much information available beyond that. Considering the circumstances, considering the opponent and the location, and considering the foul trouble that plagued just about everybody, it’s not surprising that the Celtics started the post All-Star break stretch with a loss.
But as they have shown on several occasions, the Celtics can weather storms like this. They went 9-2 last year without Garnett, and if not for a play or two here or there could have won last night. In the short run the Celtics can handle his absence. But, if Garnett’s injury is more than just a strain, or if it lingers throughout the rest of the season and into the playoffs that’s another matter entirely
The obvious question is what is Ainge going to do with his two open roster spots? The absolute home run of home runs would be Joe Smith, who has apparently expressed an interest in being bought out and coming to Boston now that the trade to New Orleans fell though. (Quick digression: Oklahoma City will rue the day it held up the trade because of concern over Tyson Chandler’s toe. Maybe this is karma for the whole Seattle thing.)
The other name floating in the internet ether is Mikki Moore, an active big man who parlayed one above-average season with the Nets into a big payday from Sacramento. As is usually the case in such situations, it didn’t work out and Moore was released. Moore is younger, more athletic and more defensive-minded than Smith but he doesn’t possess anywhere near the offensive ability or experience that Smith could provide.
Expect Cleveland, which has more of the mid-level exception to bargain with than the Celtics, to make a play in either direction, if only to provide deterrence.
If the Celtics can get one of those two big men, which way do they go with the other spot? Another point guard? A swing man to replace Tony Allen? Another big man if the injury to Garnett is serious? Tough questions for Ainge to answer between now and March 1. But for now the biggest question is Garnett and the status of his knee.
|Garnett strains knee||02.20.09 at 12:24 am ET|
Late in the first half of the Celtics game with the Utah Jazz, Kevin Garnett came down awkwardly favoring his right knee. He left the game and tried to come out and play in the second half, but coach Doc Rivers shut him down. Brian Scalabrine started the second half in his place.
TNT’s Cheryl Miller reported that the Celtics are calling it a “strained right knee.”
We’ll have more after the game.
|Giddens back to the NBA||02.19.09 at 6:53 pm ET|
After trading away Patrick O’Bryant in a three-team deal involving the Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors, the Celtics have made a move within their own organization. On Thursday the Celtics recalled rookie J.R. Giddens from the NBA Development League’s Utah Flash. Giddens was first called up in January and was later re-assigned on February 5. He was averaging 17.0 points and 3.0 during his most recent stint with the Flash. Giddens has appeared in a total of 15 games for the Flash this season and averaged 17.6 points and 5.7 rebounds. He has yet to play in a regular season game for the Celtics.