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Celtics-Mavericks Game Blog: Second Quarter 01.25.09 at 1:37 pm ET
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At the half … Celtics 74, Mavs 47

Second Quarter Observations:

7: the number of field goals Dirk Nowitzki has attempted.

0: the number of field goals he has made.

- The Dallas Mavericks looked unmotivated in the first quarter and the Celtics enter the second with a 38-23 lead. The Garden crowd, which was a bit sleepy at the start of the game, have more energy than the Mavs right now.

- The Mavs are trying to take advantage of the Celtics second unit at the start of the quarter. Scal on Nowtizki could be worrisome as Dirk is getting wide open looks and rebounds.

- That didn’t last long for Gabe Pruitt. He got called for three fouls in two minutes, sending him to the bench.

- No jumpshot? Rondo has hit three Js against a Mavericks team who two seasons ago purposely left him open … to miss.

- For those of you waiting to catch a dunk from Gerald Green, there’ll be no dunking going on in street clothes. Green is inactive for this game.

- Nomar Garciaparra and Lou Merloni are in the building.

- Ray Allen’s getting a breather with six minutes to go after scoring 19 points in 17 minutes. He has made more field goals than Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, and Josh Howard combined.

- 6’1 Rondo picked off an overhead pass from 6’11 Erick Dampier. This is the type of focus the Mavs have been playing with today.

- At the half … Celtics 74, Mavs 47

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks,
Celtics-Mavericks Game Blog: First Quarter 01.25.09 at 12:51 pm ET
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We are live on a Sunday afternoon from the Garden for today’s matinee between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics. The champs come into this one on a roll, winners of seven straight and off a mighty impressive Florida sweep.

The Mavs have won three of four, including a blowout win at Detroit on Friday, but they are coming through a very tough stretch. This is their fourth road game this week, and they have been away from Dallas for seven of their last nine. After this, the Mavs go home for one game and then head back out to do the Florida thing (see, every team has insane schedule issues).

At any rate, the Celtics have narrowly regained the top spot in the Eastern Conference (although they are down a game in the loss column to Cleveland), while Dallas is holding on in seventh in the West. Fun matchups will be the flavor of the day with Rajon Rondo going against Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce and Josh Howard and the always-fun Kevin Garnett-Dirk Nowitzki battle serving as the main event.

We’ll be here all day. You should be too…

FIRST QUARTER WRAP: Tremendous start by the Celtics. They opened by running everything through Garnett to take advantage of the matchup with Nowitzki and it paid off. It was an incredibly efficient quarter; no turnovers, 67 percent shooting. Garnett and Ray Allen both have 11 points, while Nowitzki opened up going 0-for-7.

First Quarter Observations

– Jason Kidd: Still getting booed.

– The Celtics are pounding it into KG to start. Makes sense with Nowitzki on him, but they should probably be careful not to overdo that strategy. They work best when they are free-flowing and there are clear lines to the hoop available. (addendum: I take back everything I said in that first sentence).

– Fun start with lots of movement on both ends offensively. Safe to say that both teams are into it. The crowd, however, is kind of dead.

– Every time the Celtics go down low, Kidd is doubling off Rondo. So far Garnett got Rondo twice, once on a backdoor layup attempt, which Rondo missed, and then Rondo found Paul Pierce wide-open for a 3-pointer.
The Mavs, meanwhile are basically playing 3-on-5 on offense. Antoine Wright and Erick Dampier just take up space.

– Good play call by Doc coming out of the timeout to get Ray Allen a jumper. That’s something he doesn’t get enough credit for. He’s one of the best in the league at getting good shots out of timeouts.

– You know how announcers like to call a play where a guy makes a shot, gets fouled and converts a free-throw an “old-fashioned three-point play?” Not sure why people still do that. I mean the 3-point line has been in existence since 1980. There’s nothing particularly new about shooting 3-pointers, but anyway, Garnett just got a three-point play in an entirely unique way. He made one free throw, missed the second, and then hit a jumper after Rondo got the offensive board.

– Great defensive sequence by the Celtics. They had two or three terrific rotations and wound up with a steal that led to a Pierce 3-pointer.

– The Celtics are putting on a clinic right now. Every shot they are getting is wide open.

Celtics practice notes 01.24.09 at 3:12 pm ET
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There was a media circus on Saturday at Health Point with several outlets taking advantage of what has become a rare Boston Celtics practice.

- Tony Allen, who has missed the last 10 games with an ankle injury, consistently knocked down long-range jumpshots after practice. However Doc Rivers, who does not get involved in the medical side of the game, has not been given the green light yet from Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte.

‘€œI have no idea [how he's feeling],’€ Rivers said. ‘€œHe seems like he’s doing well, smiling and laughing today. I didn’t check updates. He’s not playing so I just talk to him as a guy. I don’t even ask him about the injury. So he’s feeling good.’€

- Rajon Rondo was also working on his jumpshot, a hot topic as of late. Rondo attests that Rivers has not asked him to spend any more time on his J than he usually does.

‘€œIn practice when I have the opportunity, I shoot it,’€ he said. ‘€œBut other than that I try to continue to do what I do best.’€

- The Celtics spent an extra day in Florida on Friday after beating the Orlando Magic on Thursday night. Temperatures reached nearly 70 degrees in Orlando yesterday compared to 40 in Boston.

‘€œIt’s great, any time you can stay in warm weather it’s got to be good for the body, good for the soul,’€ Rivers said. ‘€œThe players wanted that and they earned it, so they got to stay.’€

As for Rivers, he used the extra day to spend time with his family. ‘€œI slept at home, I never saw the team,’€ he said before adding with a laugh, ‘€œSo it was perfect for me.’€

- The Celtics will take on the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday at 1pm at the TD BankNorth Garden.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, Rajon Rondo, Roc Rivers
A Big All-Star Push 01.23.09 at 9:47 am ET
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When is there a possibility that 22 points and nearly 11 rebounds per game not good enough for an All-Star selection? When you play on the 13-27 Minnesota Timberwolves.

“Big Al” Jefferson has been quietly running up the leaderboards since being traded from the Boston Celtics in July of 2007. His performance, which includes 22 double-doubles, went relatively unnoticed in fan voting. So the T’€™Wolves are doing everything they can to make sure Jefferson receives the recognition he deserves in spite of their losing record.

The organization has less than a week to win the votes of the Western Conference coaches who will vote on All-Star reserves. They have developed a marketing campaign ‘€“ ‘€œBig Al’s Road Trip: Navigating his way to Phoenix’€ ‘€“ and mailed each coach a Sony GPS device. The devices have been named the ‘€œDouble-Double Machine’€ and play a highlight video set to Lupe Fiasco’€™s ‘€œSuperstar.’€

“It would mean a lot,” Jefferson told the media. “Just growing up, before I even knew I was going to be an NBA player, just watching the All-Star games on TV you always wanted to be there as a kid. Me having that chance to make it, it would mean a lot to me. It’s something I could talk about for the rest of my life.”

All-Star reserves will be revealed next Thursday, January 29. Celtics Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, and Kendrick Perkins are also on the Eastern Conference ballot. Kevin Garnett was named as a starting forward for the East.

Read More: Al Jefferson, Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett
Are the Magic a threat? 01.23.09 at 12:01 am ET
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The Orlando Magic had the best record in the East, so it was only fair to say they were the best team. At least that was the credit the Boston Celtics were giving them before Thursday’s match up. But of the 41 games the Magic had played entering the game, only one had been against the Celtics. It was a loss.

The Magic have said they wanted to beat the best to be the best. In the last two seasons they lost to the Detroit Pistons early in the playoffs. Now the Celtics are the measuring stick in the East and after Thursday’s 90-80 loss to the defending champs (RECAP HERE), the Magic have failed to stack up twice.

It’s true the Magic haven’t received all the recognition they deserve nearly halfway through the season. Despite winning 16 of their last 19 games, they have flown relatively low under the radar and the talk of the East is still LeBron James vs. the Celtics. But there is a reason for that. Even with one of the most dominating big men in the game, the Magic do not have what it takes to unseat the Celtics in the postseason.

Leadership
There is no denying the power and talent of Dwight Howard. He is a beast on the glass and can body through the paint with authority. But the reality is Howard is 23, only three months older than Rajon Rondo. The Celtics point guard has three proven veterans to turn to whereas the veterans on the Magic turn to Howard.

On Thursday the Celtics held Howard scoreless for the entire second and third quarters. In that time he picked up four fouls and had to limit his defensive intensity late in the fourth before fouling out with 2:30 to go. The glaring question is, can Howard lead a team in a seven-game series?

Point Guard Play
Jameer Nelson is having a breakthrough year, averaging 17 points up from 11 last season, and is finally emerging as the point guard the Magic have been anticipating since 2004. However surging performances aren’t always consistent. It’s been said that as Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. The same can be said for Nelson and the Magic.

Rajon Rondo (through 44 games)
Wins: 11.9 PPG, 54.8% FG, 8.2 APG, 5.1 RPG, 2.5 PF
Losses: 7.0 PPG, 32.4% FG, 7.3 APG, 4.1 RPG, 3.0 PF

Jameer Nelson (through 36 games)
Wins: 18.1 PPG, 54.4% FG, 52.1% 3PG, 5.7 APG, 2.9 PF
Losses: 12.9 PPG, 37.4% FG, 19.4% 3PG, 4.0 APG, 4.1 PF

Long-Range Game
The Magic are the best three-point shooting team in the league. They hit an NBA-record 23 treys this month against the Sacramento Kings and entered Thursday’s game shooting 53.9% 3PG in their last five match ups. At some point, though, legs get tired and the finesse can fade, especially in a six or seven-game series.

The Magic’s leading three-point shooter Rashard Lewis may be dangerous from inside and out, but he wasn’t a threat when he only shot one-for-four from long range against the Celtics. The team as a whole shot 7-for-22, which was actually worse than the Celtics 0-for-6 performance. The Cs compensated for their slump by going inside. The Magic, on the other hand, lived and died by the deep three.

The Celtics weren’t wrong for giving the Magic credit. They are one of the hottest teams in the league centered around one of the most exciting players to watch. But the season isn’t even halfway over and the Magic are not prepped for a title run just yet. They wanted to beat the best in the playoffs to be the best, but the first step is beating the best in the regular season.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic
One less option 01.22.09 at 3:16 pm ET
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When rumors began buzzing about the Boston Celtics need for a back up center. Alonzo Mourning’€™s name had been mentioned in the mix of veteran big men. On Thursday, Mourning put those rumors to rest when he announced his retirement from basketball.

“I truly feel it’s best that I retire,” Mourning said at his press conference. “When you’ve got something you love and you’re passionate about, it’s hard to let that go. But at 38, I feel I’ve physically done all I can for this game. It has been an amazing ride.’€

Mourning had been rehabbing from a knee injury he suffered over a year ago with the Miami Heat. The 15-year veteran, who had already overcome a kidney disease to win an NBA championship in 2006, decided to leave the game with a positive attitude.

“It’s not a sad day, but it’s a day to celebrate,’€ he said. ‘€œI can think of a million people right now that would have loved to walk the path I’ve walked. The ups and the downs made it even more joyous.”

In addition to Mourning, the Dikembe Mutombo and Joe Smith were also mentioned as possible acquisitions for the Celtics. Mutombo re-signed with the Houston Rockets in December after losing patience with Cs. Smith is still under contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Read More: Alonzo Mourning, Boston Celtics, Dikembe Mutombo, Joe Smith
Walker committed to Boston 01.22.09 at 12:10 am ET
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Bill Walker has close ties to his community. So close, in fact, that he tattooed the numbers of his childhood address on his neck. When the Boston Celtics rookie got recalled from the NBA Development League this month, he was eager to give back to the city he’s now calling home.

Last weekend Walker, along with Kendrick Perkins, Gabe Pruitt, and J.R. Giddens, served home-cooked meals to 150 men and women at the Boston Rescue Mission. The food was prepared by members of the Celtics staff as part of the Shamrock Foundation.

‘€œ[The best part was] just them being so happy that we’re there,’€ Walker said. ‘€œJust being somebody who actually could take enough time to come down there and just sit and talk with them, serve them food, things like that. Little things like that do mean a lot to people.’€

Boston is one of the many places where Walker, 21, wants to make a difference. Even though he is just starting his NBA career, he already has made plans for years to come.

‘€œThat’s just something I want to do when I’m done with basketball, just to try to help the communities that I’m in first and then expand,’€ Walker said. ‘€œSo that was just fun, going back and trying to cheer up a couple people.’€

For more information on the Celtics community outreach, visit www.celtics.com.

Read More: Bill Walker, Boston Celtics, Gabe Pruitt, J.R. Giddens
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