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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.

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 »

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.

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 »

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.

Checking In with J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker 12.05.08 at 12:09 am ET
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Last month Boston Celtics rookies J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker were assigned to the NBA Development League affiliate Utah Flash. Minutes are hard to come by with the defending world champions and the pair was headed down a road of DNPs. In just a few weeks, though, Giddens and Walker have gone from benchwarmers in Beantown to standouts in Provo. They caught up with WEEI.com in a telephone interview to explain why the grass is still pretty green in Utah.

Some players would rather forgo playing time to stay in the NBA, but you seemed to embrace the D-League. What was your reaction when you found out you were assigned to the Utah Flash?

JG: Well I was excited because I had an idea that I was going down there. My brother and some of my closest people talked about it, how it was going to be a good opportunity to go down there and get into game shape and just gain confidence and become better every day. So whenever I do get the chance from the Celtics to play, then I’ll be in the best shape possible and I’ll be able to take a good swing at it.

BW: I was excited to have a chance to be able to play again, so I was excited about going. J.R. was already down there and I just welcomed it.

After flying from a major city like Boston to Provo, what was your first impression of Utah?

BW: I just looked at the mountains and I was like, ‘Oh I’m not in Boston any more.’ I had fell asleep on the plane so that was the first thing I’d seen.

JG: I played in the Mountain West Conference so I had traveled out to this part of Utah before. I was just trying to soak up the culture. I was just trying to get a feel for it and just soak up the atmosphere out here and just enjoy the experience out here in Utah.

J.R. was assigned to the Flash a week before Bill. How excited were you to be playing together again?

JG: Well Bill’s my partner in crime so it’s like I was excited to have him down here. Just having somebody that you’re familiar with and you’re friends with playing with you makes it a lot easier … He’s made this transition a lot easier for me and I hope that I’ve done the same for him.

BW: It was fun. He told me all the things the team has been up to and helped me with the plays and everything. So he helped me out with that …You always want to go into something like this with somebody you know because it’s a totally different experience if you’re by yourself.

Bill, you mentioned before that you enjoyed rooming with Michael Beasley at Kansas State last season. Now you’re sharing an apartment with J.R. in Utah. How is having a new roommate?

BW: I wouldn’t say I miss living with Mike (laughs). He was just real funny though. Him and J.R. are kind of similar in the effect that they’re very funny guys.

Aside from keeping in touch with your teammates, what kind of feedback have you received from (Celtics President) Danny Ainge or (head coach) Doc Rivers?

JG: They just give me words of encouragement … It means a lot because obviously Doc Rivers, that’s my coach, so he’s pretty high on my priority list. So I’m just happy that he’s thinking of me and knows that I’m down here working to help the Celtics out.

You were part of two Opening Nights this season – one with the Celtics in October and another with the Flash in late November. How did the two compare?

BW: The Garden is definitely a different experience from anything I’ve ever seen, so I don’t think anything is going to be able to top that.

JG: One opening night was a ring ceremony and the other opening night was just kind of introducing the basketball season. There was a lot more tradition in opening night with the Celtics, but the Flash had a great turnout and the fans supported us and you couldn’t ask for a better turnout.

It took no time for you to become the leading scorers on the Flash. What kind of improvements have you seen in your game already?

JG: I’m just trying to be efficient and attacking the basket and finding teammates who are open and using my size to rebound and doing just more of whatever I can, whether it’s enhance or defense or make somebody better by running the court. Just doing whatever I can to help the team win.

BW: Just trying to cut down on my turnovers right now, pass out of double teams, so that’s the only difference. Just learning how to play in a 48 minute game, learning how to play hard but still pace yourself where you have enough to finish the game out.

You went from playing major minutes in college to hardly any in the NBA. What are the challenges in transitioning back to 35, 40, 45 minutes a night?

BW: You get a time where you’re on a break and you’re body is getting beat up that much because you’re not getting any minutes and then all of a sudden you’re thrown in there. It doesn’t matter how much cardio you do. Until you play in the games, that’s the only way you can really, really get into top shape.

JG: When you go from not playing to playing, I’d say the transition’s more fun than hard. It’s obviously difficult because you’re not in game shape and you’re trying to catch your rhythm, which you could be frustrated with your game or conditioning at times. But that’s just part of the game and you’ve got to stay patient. I’m just really excited to come back out on the court because, like I said, I’d rather play than not play.

Out of the two of you J.R. was the long-range player, but so far it seems like role reversal. Bill, a power player on the Cs, has actually taken more shots from behind the arc. What sparked your recent 5-for-9 performance?

BW: I’ve just had more opportunities to shoot the ball down here. With the Celtics you really just play off of the other guys, you’re really not a creator. That’s probably the biggest difference, just the mentality change.

J.R., you used to compete in three-point shooting contests with Ray Allen after Celtics practice. So far you’ve shot 2-for-7 from long range. How does your three-point shot feel?

JG: I wouldn’t say I’m struggling. We’ve only played three games and I’ve taken about six shots, probably less than ten. Now if I had shot like 100 and didn’t make that many then I’d say I’m struggling, but no, the three-pointer feels good. It just hasn’t been sinking but I feel confident and I know I’ll hit a high percentage.

After being away from the team, what do you miss the most about playing with the Boston Celtics?

BW: A lot. Probably being around the guys every day. Just watching KG and those guys play every day because it seems like one of them does something good every game. (Rajon) Rondo just had a triple-double so I missed out on stuff like that.

JG: Just learning everything from being around those guys, seeing how they are every day, and just being in the NBA. It’s been my dream and every experience, good and bad, you’ve just got to take it and just love it.

When you get called back up to the Celtics, which versions of Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens can we expect?

JG: I know I’ll be a lot more confident and feel more fluid with my movements on the court and I’ll feel like I’m in better shape. Being an athlete I feel like being in games in crucial because you use a certain amount of energy when you’re playing. When you’re not in game shape you’re not as quick and you’re not as on point as you normally would be.

BW: Probably a more confident Bill Walker. Just having some game experience on this level and knowing what I can do and what I can’t do, so I’m learning the ropes.

Through the first three games of the D-League season, Giddens is averaging a team-high 23.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and shooting 54% FG. Walker is posting 22 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and is shooting 46% FG. To keep up with their progress, visit www.utahflash.com.

Read More: Bill Walker, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, J.R. Giddens
Sounds of the game… Celtics 114, Pacers 86 12.04.08 at 12:30 am ET
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So, only 55 more wins until the Celtics set the all-time NBA record for wins in a season. That means the Celtics need to go 55-7 the rest of the way. Based on what we’ve seen so far this season, there’s no reason to think they can’t do it. The latest example came on Wednesday. As the Indiana Pacers showed of making a courageous run to stay in the game in the third quarter, Rajon Rondo reminded everyone that he just might be the MVP of the team, lighting it up for 16 points while handing out a career-best 17 assists. Just think, that’s MVP Rondo on the same team with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and vintage Ray Allen, who is tearing it up for the Green so far this season. Now you see why there are those who feel this team may be on the verge of something historic.

Rajon Rondo said driving the basketball has been the key to the offense.

Rondo said he was anxious to return from bloody lip after collision with Indiana’s T.J. Ford.

Rondo said Sam Cassell told him how close he was to triple-double in first half.

Ray Allen said Rondo is the catalyst of the team right now.

Allen said Rondo and he go hand-in-hand right now.

Kevin Garnett said it was like there were three Rondos on the court.

Indiana head coach Jim O’Brien’s team played the Lakers and Celtics on back-to-back nights. He can see a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals.

O’Brien said it was just a case of too much Rondo and no answers.

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo,
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