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Things We Learned This Week 12.05.08 at 10:03 pm ET
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The Celtics came into the week with three games in five days; two against up and coming teams, and one against the only team that beat them soundly. If it was a test, they passed it easily with blowout wins over Orlando, Indiana and Portland.

The Celtics haven’t just been beating teams, they’ve been dominating them. It’s to the point that the bench’s recent inability to hold 20-point leads in the fourth quarter is the only criticism anyone can make (well, that and a few too many turnovers).

Still, there were lessons to be learned this week, and almost all of them are positive ones for the defending champs. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wrap Up: Celtics vs. Trail Blazers 12.05.08 at 9:55 pm ET
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RECAP: Boston Celtics 93, Portland Trail Blazers 78

Greg Oden scored 5 points in his Boston debut en route to a 93-78 Celtics victory over the Trail Blazers. Oden’s only two field goals came in the first seven minutes of the game. He hit a single free throw late in the fourth quarter.

“They’re the World Champions, and we wanted to see where we are at right now,” Oden said. “We can tell that we’re not there. Everybody will see that we lost by 15, but we were down by 20 the whole entire fourth quarter. That’s just not where we’re at yet. Those guys are still the World Champions, and we’re still working and getting better each day.”

The Celtics led a balanced attack, with Ray Alen scoring a game-high 19 points. The starting five combined for 76 points and Leon Powe added 14 off the bench. They were more proud of holding the Trail Blazers to 78 points than scoring 93.

“Our strength right now is the defense,” Kevin Garnett said. “We’ve embraced it and that’s what we hang our hat on every night. We know that in order for us to be the team that we want to be we have to play that. I think for the most part we’ve been consistent with it. It’s definitely our foundation right now.”

The Celtics will take on the Indiana Pacers on Sunday in Indy. Friday’s win (19-2) ties them with the best record through 21 games. Paul Pierce is seven points away from surpassing Kevin McHale as the Celtics fourth all-time leading scorer.

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Celtics-Trail Blazers Game Day Blog: Fourth Quarter 12.05.08 at 8:07 pm ET
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This final quarter should be a showcase of the reserves. Entering the final 12 up by 25, there’s no use for Doc Rivers to exhaust the starters. Ray Allen is still on the court for a least a few more minutes with Scal, Leon Powe, Eddie House, and Glen Davis. LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Przybilla, Travis Outlaw, Sergio Rodriguez, and Rudy Fernandez are playing for the Trail Blazers.

- With seven minutes to go in the game, it’s important to point out that Greg Oden has 4 points and has not scored since a slam dunk at 5:42 in the first quarter.

- So much for rest. The Trail Blazers cut the lead to 13 and all of the Celtics starters are going back in. KG called them into a huddle during a timeout and Tony Allen pulled Ray aside for a moment. There’s a video set to “In the Air Tonight,” Garnett’s favorite song, and he’s bouncing to the music while Perk and Ray look up at the Jumbotron.

- Vegas Summer League MVP Jerryd Bayless is on the court for the Trail Blazers. The rookie may not see a lot of minutes this season but his summer performance is definitely worth taking a look at.

- Oden fouled out. The crowd is on his feet taunting him like he did something wrong to the Celtics. Let’s just remember that Oden was a piece of their championship run.

- In lieu of Scalabrine a Donnie Wahlberg chant has randomly been started. Welcome back.

- Crowd’s clearing out with 1:30 left.

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Celtics-Blazers Game Blog: Third Quarter 12.05.08 at 7:28 pm ET
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A couple of thoughts on the first half. Portland zoned up a few times, which is something the Blazers are known for. The results were not all that successful. First, they failed to identify Eddie House as a shooter and he buried a wide-open jumper. Then they gave up an easy dunk by Leon Powe, which is exactly what a zone is supposed to prevent. On top of that the Blazers got nailed with two Defensive 3 Seconds technicals for their trouble.

Seven minutes, four points, two rebounds, two fouls and one technical for Greg Oden, which is vaguely disappointing for those of us who want to see what the kid can do. The Blazers were 6-for-19 in the second quarter and 0-for-5 from 3-point range. They’re one of the better shooting teams in the league, so don’t expect that to continue.

Very workmanlike effort from the C’s. Everyone’s contributing, the defense has been sound, etc. What will the second half have in store? Let’s find out… Read the rest of this entry »

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Celtics-Trail Blazers Game Day Blog: Second Quarter 12.05.08 at 6:40 pm ET
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At the half … Celtics 49, Trail Blazers 36

FIRST HALF WRAP: The Trail Blazers have been hot but their youth and inexperience is falling short against the Celtics. After holding their own in the first quarter, the Trail Blazers find themselves down by at the end of the half. Ray Allen leads all scorers with 11 points in a well-balanced game.  He is the only player in double-digits. The Celtics have outrebounded the Trail Blazers 23-15 and got to the line 11 more times.


- Leon Powe kicked off the second quarter with a drive and drew a quick foul. With Greg Oden on the bench, the Celtics can capitalize on the extra space in the paint. Pierce is playing with the second unit again, which tonight includes Brian Scalabrine.

- The Spanish duo of Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez are playing together. Fernandez has been hyped for so long and I’m very interested in seeing what he can do in the NBA. After all, not every player is greeted by a swarm of fans when they touch down in Portland.

- Notable substitutions: Brandon Roy stretched in between quarters and has returned to the game. Gabe Pruitt is also seeing significant minutes in a close game. Pruitt and Eddie House in the backcourt help the Celtics match the Trail Blazers speed.

- Fernandez is trying to guard Perk. Wonder how that’s going to work out … (By the way, if Fernandez looks familiar it’s probably because of his celebreality look-alike.

- With the lead up to eight, Tony Allen (dressed in street clothes) was on his feet cheering and holding his hand to his ear to encourage the crowd.

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Celtics-Blazers Game Blog: First Quarter 12.05.08 at 6:04 pm ET
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We are live from the Garden for tonight’s game between the Celtics and the Portland Trail Blazers, and I have to tell you, I’ve been looking forward to this one since the schedule came out. It’s always fun to catch up-and-coming NBA teams before they hit their peak, and for the Blazers their time might not be all that far off.

So, what will it be tonight? Will the champs teach the kids a few lessons? Will the youngsters put on a show? Will Greg Oden get booed? (Actually, we already know that one: yes). Come one come all, for tonight’s live-ish blogging extravaganza… Read the rest of this entry »

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Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Portland Trail Blazers 12.05.08 at 12:33 pm ET
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Tommy's face had "Fifth Pick" written all over it

Tommy's face had "Fifth Pick" written all over it

On Friday night the Boston Celtics (18-2) will take on the Portland Trail Blazers (14-6) at the TD BankNorth Garden. These are two of the hottest teams in the NBA — the Cs are on a 10-game winning streak while the Trail Blazers have won their last six. The real headline, though, is Greg Oden’s debut at the Garden. After missing all of last season with a knee injury, the Celtic that never-was will play his first game under the 17 championship banners that would not have been possible had the Cs landed the top pick in the 2007 draft.

Perk vs. Oden
Kendrick Perkins and Al Jefferson didn’t want the Celtics to draft Greg Oden. The tight-knit duo were certain they could lead the Celtics to success together, and the addition of Oden would break up their tandem. Now Perk has a new front court partner in Kevin Garnett, posing a formidable challenge for Oden in the paint. Look for Perk to prove the Celtics made the right decision when he goes up against the rookie who once threatened to take his minutes.

Ray vs. Roy
Brandon Roy‘s backcourt versatility makes him one of the trickier guards to defend. If Roy were a traditional point guard the Celtics could put Rajon Rondo on him, but given his size and long-range abilities Ray Allen is the better option to stifle his shooting game. Roy leads the Trail Blazers in scoring with 21.1 points per game and is shooting 50% over the last five contests.

In the last five games …
Celtics:
99.5 ppg, 47% FG, 34% 3PG, 76% FT, 43.1 rpg, 21.1 ast
Trail Blazers: 98.7 ppg, 46% FG, 42% 3PG, 77% FT, 41.1 rpg, 21.6 ast

Check back with WEEI’s Live Game Day Blog for the latest news and updates from the TD BankNorth Garden.

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