|Lakers-Celtics Instant Analysis||12.25.08 at 7:31 pm ET|
We are live from every blogger’s cliche, literally my mother’s basement in New Jersey, where Game 7 of the NBA Finals just concluded with a stirring victory for the Lakers over the Celtics… and wait, what’s that you say? The playoffs are over?
Huh. I could have swore I saw confetti coming down from the rafters of the Staples Center. And wasn’t that Kobe Bryant playing 43 minutes? I think I even saw Phil Jackson call a timeout while game was being played. That couldn’t have been a regular season game.
For the Lakers, it wasn’t. Clearly. They needed this one, and to their credit they went out and got it. In the last three minutes, Pau Gasol played like the guy everyone wants him to be all the time. Bryant was ridiculous the whole game, forcing when he needed to force and deferring when he needed to defer. And the Laker bench outplayed the Celtics second unit. They went all out in this one, and if they had lost it would have been devastating, but they didn’t. No we’ll see if they build on it or fall back into the bad habits that hurt them last week.
For the Celtics, the winning streak is over, which means we all have to come up with new questions for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, but more importantly, the Celtics finally got a chance to test themselves against a team that is in their universe. They answered some questions–can Rajon Rondo operate when the other team won’t guard him?–and left open a few more, such as, is their bench good enough?
Those, and a few more observations while resisting the urge to watch the Yankeeography marathon on the YES Network. Read the rest of this entry »
|All-Star Voting Update||12.25.08 at 7:06 pm ET|
On Christmas Day the second returns of the 2009 NBA All-Star Game ballots were announced. Dwight Howard continues to lead all votes while Rajon Rondo still struggles to crack the top 10 among all guards. Boston Celtics are bolded below in the Eastern Conference results:
Forwards: LeBron James (Clev) 1,259,764; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 905,506; Yi Jianlian (NJ) 762,162; Chris Bosh (Tor) 500,700; Paul Pierce (Bos) 313,474; Shawn Marion (Mia) 210,040; Hedo Turkoglu (Orl) 137,035; Danny Granger (Ind) 116,238; Josh Smith (Atl) 110,186; Michael Beasley (Mia) 100,257; Tayshaun Prince (Det) 98,262.
Guards: Dwyane Wade (Mia) 1,229,858; Allen Iverson (Det) 858,469; Vince Carter (NJ) 600,087; Ray Allen (Bos) 354,642; Devin Harris (NJ) 267,504; Gilbert Arenas (Wash) 205,223; Derrick Rose (Chi) 203,687; Luke Ridnour (Mil) 197,933; Jose Calderon (Tor) 193,715; Jameer Nelson (Orl) 174,081; Joe Johnson (Atl) 162,772.
Centers: Dwight Howard (Orl) 1,421,882; Samuel Dalembert (Phi) 232,733; Rasheed Wallace (Det) 163,279; Jermaine O’Neal (Tor) 147,534; Andrew Bogut (Mil) 112,708; Al Horford (Atl) 107,118; Ben Wallace (Clev) 89,809; Emeka Okafor (Char) 69,015; Zyrdrunas Ilgauskas (Cle) 60,970; Kendrick Perkins (Bos) 54,772; Brendan Haywood (Wash) 28,182.
|Moving On||12.25.08 at 6:17 pm ET|
The Celtics couldn’t have stressed it any more, playing the Lakers was just another game. Now that they’ve snapped their historic winning streak, they have to do just as they would after any other game — move on. The Celtics didn’t dwell on 19 consecutive victories and they can’t dwell on one loss either. It’s time to look ahead to the remainder of their west coast road trip.
- Friday, December 26 @ Golden State Warriors (8-22)
- Sunday, December 28 @ Sacramento Kings (7-22)
- Tuesday, December 30 @ Portland Trail Blazers (18-11)
The Celtics will return to the Garden on Friday, January 2 against the Washington Wizards.
|Perk vs. Bynum: Christmas Day Battle of the Bigs||12.24.08 at 10:01 am ET|
“If we had Andrew Bynum, it would have been different.”
He would have shut down Kendrick Perkins, who made Pau Gasol look soft. He would have stopped the Celtics from scoring 131 points in their Game Six victory. He would have helped the Lakers win it all … right?
Not so fast.
Eyes will be on Bynum and Perk on Christmas Day as the Lakers look to snap the Celtics 19-game winning streak, with many hoping Bynum will dominate Perkins and the Cs in the paint. Both big men went through struggles early in the season but Perk has demonstrated the maturity to overcome his setbacks while Bynum continues to be inconsistent.
Perkins was called for nine technical fouls by the first week in December. He looked like an emotional ticking time bomb on the court and was on pace to unseat Rasheed Wallace as the King of the Ts. But then something clicked. Perkins channeled his energy to his own game, focusing on his shot and protecting the glass. In the ten games since his last technical foul, he is shooting better than 60% from the field and averaging nearly 13 points and 10 rebounds. Last week Perkins posted 25 points and eight rebounds against the Chicago Bulls … without a single foul.
Whether it is the veteran leadership of the Big Three, the momentum of a historic winning streak, or simply the maturation process, Perkins has taken his game out of his head and onto the court. He is just as reliable at the start of the game as he is at the end in close situations. The same can’t be said for Bynum.
This season Bynum has found himself on the bench down the stretch, and he’s let everyone know he thinks he deserves more. Unlike the Celtics, who don’t get the nod until they’ve earned the minutes, Bynum wants more time to prove himself on the court. How did Phil Jackson respond? “When he shows the ability to play defense appropriately, he’ll probably be there,” Jackson said. It’s a clear message that hasn’t seemed to resonate.
On the night of Perkins’ season-high performance, Bynum was held to four points, six rebounds, and four fouls in a two-point loss to the Miami Heat. He followed up that game with just three points, one rebound, and five fouls in a loss to the Orlando Magic. Having a bad night against Dwight Howard is one thing, but four points against Joel Anthony? There’s no explanation for that when you’re supposed to be the savior of a championship contender. Even though his performance slightly improved in the past two games, which version of Bynum will show up against the Celtics?
“If we had Andrew Bynum, it would have been different.”
On Christmas Day the Celtics and Lakers will see just how different it could have been.
|Sounds of the game… Celtics 110, 76ers 91||12.24.08 at 6:52 am ET|
The Celtics threw a Christmas party for family and friends in their locker room following their 110-91 win over the 76ers Tuesday night at TD Banknorth Garden. They certainly had plenty to celebrate. In addition to the festive time of season, the Celtics family and friends cheered the fact that they are now owners of the longest winning streak in team history at 19 games. They also raised a toast to the team’s 27-2 start, the best 29-game opening to a season in NBA history. Up next, an NBA Finals rematch with the Lakers in Los Angeles on Christmas Day. To get there, they took a red-eye cross-country flight but before that, they took time to reflct on the record and look ahead to what should be a classic game on Christmas at Staples Center.
And be sure to read and hear what Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala said about the Celtics, their streak, trash-talking and a certain reference to a perfect regular season in the NFL that didn’t end in a title.
|O’Bryant Spreads Holiday Cheer||12.23.08 at 11:29 pm ET|
This week Boston Celtics big man Patrick O’Bryant spread holiday cheer to a deserving local family. He was inspired by his community outreach during Thanksgiving and requested to be paired up with a family from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC).
“We went bowling, played pool and ping pong, and had food,” O’Bryant said. “Then I came to them at the end and said, ‘Oh yeah, I have one more surprise for you.’ There was a big tree in the back.”
O’Bryant, 22, purchased over 100 gifts, including clothes, Nintendo DS systems, and gift cards to Walmart and IKEA. Bergeson individually wrapped each present, something O’Bryant thought was important for every child.
“That’s the point,” he said. “You get to wake up in the morning and see all the gifts and you get to have the fun of ripping everything off and destroying the paper.”
What was the best part of the day?
“It wasn’t even what they said. It was just seeing their smiles and how exuberant they were. One of the girls was almost screaming when she opened her gifts,” O’Bryant said. “We’ve been blessed with so much and not everybody gets to go through this. I figured if I was blessed with this I could help someone out and bless them with at least gifts for Christmas.”
|Now and Then: Breaking 18-Game Streaks||12.23.08 at 9:44 pm ET|
On February 14, 2007, the Boston Celtics blew out to the Milwaukee Bucks to end an abysmal 18-game losing streak that devastated the organization. On December 23, 2008, they blew out the Philadelphia 76ers to break the franchise record of 18 consecutive games and capture their 19th straight win. They are two 18-game streaks with very different results.
Biggest heartbreaker: 93-89 loss to the San Antonio Spurs
Paul Pierce then: Pierce was sidelined for 35 games and described the losing streak as ‘watching his little brothers get beat up.’ His 25.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.1 assists were not enough to overcome a 24-58 record.
Doc Rivers then: On the hotseat the entire season, fans chanted ‘Fire Doc’ and were outraged that he didn’t get the boot.
Emerging leader: Al Jefferson
After Paul Pierce and Tony Allen went down with injuries, Jefferson emerged as one of the most promising big men in the league. That season Big Al averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds, a performance good enough to become the centerpiece of the Kevin Garnett trade.
2008-2009 Winning Streak
How it all began: The Celtics beat the Bucks 102-97 in overtime on November 15, 2008.
Biggest blowout: 102-78 win over the Philadelphia 76ers
Paul Pierce now: ‘Has any Boston Celtics team ever lost 18 in a row? I’ve done that,’ he asked with a chuckle. Pierce can laugh at the 2007 season now that he is the reigning NBA Finals MVP and his 18.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists are enough to keep the Celtics atop the standings.
Doc Rivers now: After leading his team to a championship, Rivers became the third coach to ever win three consecutive Eastern Conference Coach of the Month honors.
Emerging Leader: Rajon Rondo
So much for the Big Three. Rondo has not only emerged as the spark plug of the Celtics but one of the most versatile point guards in the NBA. Whether he’s lobbing it to KG, driving to the lane, or knocking down an improved jumpshot, his triple-double was a sign of things to come.
The Celtics will look to continue their winning streak against the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Why Celtics Will Be Better Than Expected in 2014-15
- Should Celtics Fans Buy or Sell Rondo's Hot Start?
- Lessons Learned from Celtics so Far
- Why Green Will Finally Succeed in Boston
- C's Big Offense Showing a Sign of Things to Come?
- Green's Transition to PF Could Reshape NBA Career Arc
- Could Rondo's Play Increase the Chances He's Dealt?