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Preview: Celtics-Bobcats 03.03.10 at 10:14 am ET
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It has been said that athletic frontcourts are the Celtics Achilles heel. The Hawks, as everyone knows, swept the Celtics this season, and last week the Cavaliers unleashed the hounds once Shaquille O’Neal left the game. Those teams have proven to be too quick on the dribble and on the boards for the Celtics aging frontcourt to handle.

Of the teams alive in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, only one really fits that description: the Bobcats. Unlike the Hawks and the Cavs, however, Charlotte’s athletic frontcourt is better suited for defense than for offense. The Bobcats are one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA. They don’t shoot well, they’re not particularly strong on the offensive glass and they turn it over as much as the Celtics.

They are also thin in the backcourt and injured up front with three centers on the shelf for tonight’s game. But they are dangerous, more so now with the addition of Tyrus Thomas the one-time Chicago Bull headache. The Cats are dangerous because they slow the game down to a crawl and play terrific half-court defense, a staple of Larry Brown-coached teams.

If the Celtics were to meet the Bobcats in the playoffs (and if Charlotte was healthy) it could be the proverbial bad matchup for the C’s. Tonight’s game should give something of an indication if that indeed would be the case.

BOBCATS (28-30, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 94.9

Points Allowed: 94.3

Differential: +.6 (15th)

Offensive Efficiency: 103.9 (24th)

Defensive Efficiency: 103.2 (5th)

Pace: 90.6 (27th)

Likely Starters: Ray Felton, Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Theo Ratliff

Injuries: Tyson Chandler (Knee), DeSagana Diop (Knee), Nazr Mohammed (Back, questionable)

CELTICS (37-21, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 98.6

Points Allowed: 94.3

Differential: +4.3 (7th)

Offensive Efficiency: 106.8 (14th)

Defensive Efficiency: 102.2 (2nd)

Pace: 91.7 (21st)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Perkins (Flu, questionable) Read the rest of this entry »

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Fast break: Celtics-Bobcats 12.01.09 at 9:34 pm ET
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Coming into Tuesday night’s action, the two hottest teams in the Eastern Conference were Boston and Charlotte. Despite their inconsistent play the Celtics had reeled off four straight wins. Despite being the Bobcats, Larry Brown’s crew had also won four straight, including a decisive victory over the Cavs.

Additionally the Celtics came in with the best road record in the league, while the Bobcats owned a 6-1 mark at home. But what looked like an intriguing matchup quickly turned into a rout as the Celtics played their best game since the first week of the season in a 108-90 win. Ray Allen broke out with 27 points, while Kevin Garnett continued his hot shooting, scoring 16 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists

Player of the Game: Kendrick Perkins. The Celtics center has very quietly put together a strong season, but he may not remain a secret for much longer after scoring 21 points to go with 12 rebounds. It was Perk’s second double-double in as many games and his third in the last six. He scored easily and efficiently against Tyson Chandler, showing a nice variety of low-post moves.

Turning point: Midway through the second quarter the Bobcats had cut the Celtics lead to 12, 42-30, when the starting five came back on the floor. They proceeded to go on an 11-1 run, highlighted by deft passing and great defensive work. The Bobcats never got back in the game.

* The Celtics were 17-for-17 from the free throw line in the first half. Among the encouraging signs: Garnett had six free throws and Rajon Rondo and Perkins were a combined 5-for-5.

* The Bobcats racked up 13 offensive rebounds but that number is a little deceiving. Most of them came on just a handful of possessions so it wasn’t like the C’s were getting beat on the boards all night and a few of them were, shall we say, generously awarded.

* Allen and Paul Pierce were 7-for-9 from beyond the arc. Eddie House and Rasheed Wallace were 3-for-8.

* Hard to say that the Celtics played “great” defense because the Bobcats looked so disorganized offensively, but they held Charlotte to 41 percent shooting.

* Once again things got testy between these two teams. Garnett and Nazr Mohammed had to be separated and Rondo and Chandler picked up double fouls away from the ball.

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Fast break: Celtics-Bobcats 10.28.09 at 10:06 pm ET
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If the Celtics opening night win over the Cavs was about their bench, Wednesday night’s 92-59 win over the Bobcats was all about the starting five. The unit that many feel is the best starting five in the league dominated the Bobcats early, regained control of the game in the second quarter and then blew their doors off to start the second half with a 15-0 run.

Every Celtic starter scored in double figures except for Kendrick Perkins who finished with nine points (and seven rebounds). Ray Allen led the way with 18 points and Paul Pierce had 15 including a thunderous tomahawk dunk that put an aesthetic cap on the C’s third quarter run.

Player of the game: Rajon Rondo. The young point guard is staring at a big week, and not just because the deadline to sign an extension is Saturday. With the Cavs and Bobcats in his rear view mirror Rondo gets his first shot at Derrick Rose and the Bulls since their epic playoff series when the two teams meet Friday. On Sunday, Rondo gets the reigning King of the Point Guards in New Orleans’ Chris Paul.

“Rondo has established himself as a guy that other players are going to get up for,” Doc Rivers said prior to the start of the game. “When you reach a level like Paul Pierce, there are no off nights because they’re going to try to make their name off you now.”

Rondo was brilliant against Charlotte with 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting and 11 assists (against only one turnover) as he outplayed both Ray Felton and DJ Augustin. Felton left the game in the second quarter after he hit the floor and had 15 stitches inserted into, and around, his mouth.

Turning point: With about seven minutes left in the second quarter the Bobcats had cut the Celtics lead to four points, 29-25. That’s when Doc Rivers put his starters back on the court. While the offense was still sluggish, the starting five held Charlotte to just six points the rest of that half and went into the locker room with a 42-31 lead.

The Celtics opened things up in the second half, but that stretch set the defensive tone.

* Rasheed Wallace is quickly on his way to becoming a folk hero. He received a loud ovation when he was introduced prior to the game and the cheers grew even more raucous when he knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter. What really brought the house down? Sheed’s karaoke version of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler. All that and he’s got pipes.

* Rivers said he wasn’t overly concerned with managing minutes despite the team playing the second half of a back-to-back and a third game in four days looming with Chicago Friday. He was as good as his word as Ray Allen played almost the entire first half (mainly because of foul trouble for Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels). Kevin Garnett also logged 18 minutes in the first half. It’s a situation that will be watched closely without Glen Davis.

* Speaking of Garnett, he took hard fall diving for a loose ball with about four minutes left in the third quarter. He appeared to be moving gingerly and Rivers quickly replaced him with Shelden Williams. By the time he got to the bench Garnett seemed to be fine, and while he didn’t return to the game he seemed to be in good spirits.

* Things got chippy in the third quarter between Perkins and Charlotte’s Tyson Chandler and Gerald Wallace. All three received technical fouls. You may remember Augustin saying last season that other teams weren’t intimidated by the Celtics anymore.

* Quote of the night came before the game when Pierce addressed the crowd following the introductions. “You see up there?” Pierce said gesturing toward the rafters. “There’s only 17 (banners) up there. We need another one.”

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