|Fast Break: Celtics cool Heat hype||10.26.10 at 10:21 pm ET|
The Celtics held the Heat to nine first-quarter points, and Ray Allen nailed a clutch 3-point shot to snap a late 10-0 Miami run and push the Celtics’ lead back to six in the final minute. Allen’s shot from the corner ended any Heat visions of a comeback from a 19-point deficit, and allowed Boston to claim an 88-80 opening-night win.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
1. Rondo to Shaq: Just four minutes into Tuesday night’s game, Rajon Rondo drove, drew three defenders and lobbed the ball to Shaquille O’Neal, who threw it down with ease. It was more than just two points.
Obviously, Shaq takes up a ton of space around the basket, which means Rondo has a larger area to which he can toss the ball without fearing interference. That’s could translate into a heckuva lot more assists for Rondo and a heckuva lot of easy buckets for Shaq this season.
In almost 12 first-half minutes, the Big Shamrock finished with six points but would have had 10 if not for a pair of missed bunnies.
The Rondo-to-Shaq combo also exposed the Heat’s biggest weaknesses: the point guard and center spots. The two Celtics simply owned Heat starters Carlos Arroyo and Joel Anthony. Many critics had serious concerns about “The Others” in Miami, and, for now, those apprehensions appear legit.
2. Interior Defense: The Celtics held the Heat to 12 first-half points in the paint on just 6-of-16 shooting. What’s more, the C’s grabbed 21 first-half defensive rebounds, allowing only two second-chance points en route to a 45-30 lead at the half.
Shaq and Rondo’s dominance of Arroyo and Anthony extended beyond the offensive end. Not worried about their defensive assignments (Arroyo/Anthony combined for two first-half shots), the Celtics duo could sag off and help out on Miami’s trio of stars.
3. Ray Allen: With all the talk about how Garnett looks as healthy as he’s been since arriving in Boston and how Pierce showed up in terrific shape, it was easy to forget to mention Allen.
Maybe it’s because Allen always looks as though he’s in top shape, but the C’s shooting guard looked like he was in midseason form on Tuesday, scoring 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting (including 5-of-8 from downtown). His final 3-pointer of the night came with 50 seconds remaining. It snapped a 10-point Heat run that had cut the lead to 83-80 in the waning minutes.
Allen also did a nice job keeping up with Wade on the defensive end, limiting the Heat guard to 13 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG
1. Apparently, Standing in the Way of LeBron James: Twice — once in each half — Pierce appeared to draw a charge on LeBron, who was barreling down the lane, shoulder lowered, towards the basket. And twice referees called Pierce for the blocking foul.
On the second foul, Pierce came down hard on his lower back. He limped to the sideline as the Celtics called timeout, and then went to the locker room clutching his side behind trainer Ed Lacerte.
A report came down that Pierce was out of the game with back spasms — return unknown. But he did return, finishing the night with 19 points.
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers was none too happy with both blocking calls and let the refs know his frustration.
2. Lacking a Killers’ Mentality: The Celtics led, 63-50, with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. The C’s had their chances to end the game then and there, but instead saw their lead dwindle as they settled for jump shots. Meanwhile, the Heat closed the quarter on a 7-0 run (thanks to four points from LeBron), cutting the gap to a manageable 63-57 deficit heading into the fourth quarter.
Likewise, in the fourth quarter, the Celtics held an 83-70 advantage with four minutes remaining. A few ill-advised shots taken too early in the shot clock led to a 10-point Heat run over the next three minutes that would’ve been 13 if not for a missed wide-open 3-pointer by LeBron.
3. Perimeter Defense: While the Celtics’ inability to get out on the wings defensively didn’t hurt them in the first half, the Heat got plenty of wide-open looks. Eddie House and James Jones missed a string of 3-point attempts in the first quarter. But Celtics fans likely understood that House wasn’t going to keep missing those.
In the second half, House and Jones — along with LeBron — finished 5-of-11 from beyond the arc.
|The NBA 30 on 30: Blogosphere Forecast (7 of 7)||at 2:28 pm ET|
NBA fans live a team’s ups and downs. They react to every draft pick, trade and free-agent signing. They debate the merits of the 15th man. They find significance in the most insignificant stats. They simply KNOW their team. So, too, do bloggers. That’s why we sought the opinion of the league’s best blogs — one for each of the 30 teams — to break down the team they cover and, of course, the Celtics.
by Jeff Clark, Celtics Blog
ON THE CELTICS: When you are six minutes away from an NBA championship, what do you do to make up those six minutes in the next year?
You try to get a little bit better. The Celtics are hoping that their gains are greater than their losses.
Is Kevin Garnett‘s improved health enough to make up for the creeping age of this roster? Are Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal enough to make up for the loss of Kendrick Perkins for half a season (at best)? Is Delonte West enough of an offensive upgrade to make up for the loss of the surprisingly steady defense of Tony Allen?
If the Celtics can stay a little bit healthier, maybe they can win a few more games to give them more home games in the playoffs. Maybe, just maybe, that will be the little edge they need to make up those six minutes and raise another banner.
by John Karalis, Red’s Army
ON THE CELTICS: With all the talk of what other teams have done this offseason, few people have paid a lot of attention to the fact that the Celtics — a team that was within four minutes of a title — addressed their two most pressing needs: Size and depth.
Now, the Boston Celtics boast what is probably the deepest team in the NBA.
Fast forward to the playoffs – since it would take the most catastrophic of events for this team to miss the playoffs – and the C’s will start their usual rotation of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, KG and Perk.
A team of those six guys would challenge for the last playoff spot in the East … and they’re backing up a starting five that, as Doc Rivers loves to say, still hasn’t lost a playoff series.
The Celtics’ team chemistry has been remarkable. So, questions as to whether these guys can coexist are already answered.
They matched up well against most Eastern teams already, so the added size will only give the C’s more guys to throw at Dwight Howard.
The added depth will be able to keep up with Chicago or Atlanta. And the combined size and depth are the perfect counter to a heavily front-loaded Heat team.
Ultimately, this Celtics team has too much for the rest of the league. Even if a couple of guys get banged up, they have the depth to overcome it and properly rest guys for the playoffs.
Miami will be really good. The Celtics — with their experience, depth and size — will be just a little better, and they’ll get that 18th banner this year.
by Jay King, Celtics Town
ON THE CELTICS: Before the preseason started, I predicted that the Celtics were destined to lose to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were tough enough by themselves. Once Pat Riley paired them together and sprinkled a little Chris Bosh on top, they became the team to beat — regardless of who won the Eastern Conference last season.
Then the preseason happened, I got to see the Celtics play in real life rather than on paper, and I’m no longer convinced they’ll fall to the Heat (Yes, I realize it was just the preseason; bear with me).
I expected many of the older Celtics to digress this season. Instead, almost every Celtic looks better than last year.
Pierce entered camp in great shape; Garnett’s healthy; Delonte was a perfect fit; Marquis added confidence and perhaps an outside shot; Nate looks more comfortable after a full training camp; Davis has matured and potentially taken a leap; Rondo remained Rondo, only one year older and more experienced; Shaq has meshed far better than he ever did in Cleveland (I even saw him hedge a pick-and-roll last game); and Jermaine O’Neal’s addicted to the injured list.
Okay, maybe J.O.’s preseason didn’t work out perfectly, but every other player — stunningly — looks to be improved from last season.
A lot of teams claim to be motivated by tough losses, but the Celtics took that motivation to a next level. They used the devastation from the Game That Must Not Be Named and channeled it into returning in great shape, with only one purpose — winning an NBA title.
One through 12, the Celtics are the NBA’s most talented team. If healthy, they’ll win the East and then take down the Lakers in the NBA Finals. If healthy.
by Brandon Paul, Gino’s Jungle
ON THE CELTICS: When asked by WEEI for a brief preview of the Boston Celtics 2010-11 season, the first thing I had to do was run to my desk and grab that fashionable pair of green goggles I’ve worn throughout my time as a Celtics fan.
Now that I took care of that, here’s what I think will go down this year for the hometown boys in green:
The Celtics are back and better than ever this season. After watching six preseason games, the amount of depth on this team cannot be compared to that of any other team in recent memory.
Von Wafer, a guy who had a solid tenure in Houston, was being talked about as a guy that could be cut from this team. That right there says something.
Of course, the team is going to undergo injuries and other hiccups throughout the course of the regular season that may draw some criticism, but if this Celtics team remains healthy come playoff time nobody (not even the Miami Heat) can match their depth and playoff experience.
For that reason, I’m predicting a solid regular season record of 52-30, a healthy team going into the playoffs and … wait for it … wait for it … Banner 18.
by Brian Robb, Celtics Hub
ON THE CELTICS: Continuity. I’m a big believer in it as far as the NBA goes.
You take a look at the teams that have made the NBA Finals in the last 20 years, and the vast majority have been seasoned squads — units that have played together for years; players who know each other inside and out — their strengths and flaws, where they will be on the floor, where they like to catch the ball and everything in between.
You can’t buy that kind of knowledge in free agency, and it’s the biggest edge the Celtics’ core will have over their competition next year — one that will ultimately lead them to the NBA Finals.
The Miami Heat obviously have more talent, and they will get their championship(s) down the road, but next year will be a learning experience once the playoffs roll around. And they’ll fall short against the Celtics.
An improved offense, more depth and a deep sense of urgency will be enough to get Boston back to the promised land — where they will earn redemption against the Lakers after coming up empty last year.
Thanks to all who participated in this year’s NBA 30 on 30: Blogosphere Forecast.
|Video proof Kendrick Perkins is back – at least in practice||at 12:38 pm ET|
WALTHAM — You have to crawl before you walk and walk before you run.
In the NBA, you have to stand on a court before you can really begin think about getting back into a game following reconstructive knee surgery.
But as one can see from this video – filmed Monday at Celtics practice – Kendrick Perkins certainly looks the part as he appears to be in the best shape of his career, a clear sign he has done significant rehab work already following June’s rebuild of his right knee after it buckled and collapsed in Game 6 of the NBA finals, along with the Celtics’ hopes of banner No. 18.
Now, looking the part of a svelte, lean and mean big man, Perkins has hit the court and has started shooting short jumpers and free throws.
The big man is expected to be out until at least January following the repair of the ACL in his right knee.
|Doc Rivers: C’s just ‘other team that’s playing’||10.25.10 at 8:43 pm ET|
WALTHAM — So finally, thankfully, mercifully no more hype – just the game.
Ever since the game was announced as part of the full NBA schedule on Aug. 10, news and sports outlets across the country and the globe circled Oct. 26 on their calendars as a “must-cover” event at Boston’s TD Garden.
Doc Rivers maintains those news and sports outlets won’t be in Boston Tuesday to see a great game but what they think will be one of the greatest teams in NBA history.
‘All eyes will be on the game in Boston, but I think all eyes will really be on Miami. We’re the other team that’s playing and we’re just going to show up. But I’m sure everybody is there to see Miami.
‘It’s opening night, it’s great. It’s opening night at home. We’ve had a lot of time to prepare for the game, which is nice, and we’re ready to play.’
And it’s fitting that James plays his first official game on the same court he played his last for the Cavaliers. But unlike Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last May 13, James will be playing alongside players named Wade and Bosh, even if those three played very little together in the preseason because of Wade’s nagging hamstring injury.
‘I would say it probably hurts them more than it hurts us,” Rivers said. “It probably hurts both teams, not being able to scout them and see what exactly what they’re going to do when they’re all on the floor. You can make the case that not being able to practice at all [together] it may hurt them as much. I don’t think it matters. I guarantee you that Wade will have the ball a lot, so will LeBron and so will Bosh.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|Doc: Shaq attack starting Tuesday||at 2:59 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Barring any unforeseen changes, Shaquille O’Neal will make his Celtics debut as the starting center on opening night against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
“Most likely Shaq, to be honest,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said following Monday’s practice. “We haven’t officially announced it but most likely.”
Rivers added that back-up centers Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erden will both suit up and be ready to play. O’Neal has been playing with torn cartilage in his left wrist while Erden has a sore shoulder that Rivers indicated will take some “managing” to keep him healthy enough to play.
|Sunday is no day of rest for Celtics||10.24.10 at 4:51 pm ET|
WALTHAM — You could tell immediately after practice on Sunday that this was no ordinary weekend practice. It’s not often the Celtics practice both days on the weekend but Doc Rivers is giving his team every chance to get prepared for the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
“We didn’t do much today,” Rivers said. “I really went back and forth with giving them the day off or getting them to run through some stuff. A lot of skeleton today and very little contact and going over our defensive schemes.”
Then, on their own, new players like Von Wafer, Luke Harangody and Semih Erden worked on the offensive sets. The intensity was certainly there.
Tempers flared between Delonte West and Wafer during a post-practice drill, the Celtics continued preparations for the Miami Heat on Sunday at their practice facility.
Wafer, who won the last 15th and final roster spot after the final preseason game last Wednesday, played with Harangody against West and Erden in a 2-on-2 drill as extra time is being spent at the end of practice for new players trying to learn the Celtics offensive sets before they open the season Tuesday night at home. Wafer and West exchanged words after West drove to the basket and beat Wafer for a couple of buckets.
“Listen it’s game one, even if it wasn’t Miami, everybody is going to be excited,” Rivers said. “This is a special situation. Let’s just be honest. Everybody is excited about it. Our guys try to downplay it until you walk through the locker room and hear them talking about it. The film is on all day, watching Miami. Let’s just go out and have fun and see what we have the next night. We’d like to win them both.
The Celtics play in Cleveland on Wednesday, the night after their season opener against the Heat at TD Garden.
|Rajon Rondo finds comic relief in Stern warning||10.22.10 at 4:22 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Rajon Rondo can be one difficult person to read.
Take Friday for example. Following practice, he was asked about David Stern‘s comments a day earlier in which the NBA commissioner said he wants player salaries cut by a third or up to four teams may have to be contracted. Stern is looking to save NBA owners – his bosses – between $750 and $800 million.
It was bargaining posture that sports fans have become accustomed to in the collective bargaining era. But still, the threat had a very serious undertone.
Are NBA players worried about Stern’s latest shot in the bargaining battle?
“Who? David Stern? It doesn’t worry me at all,” said Rondo, who is in line to make $9 million this season.
“I’m preparing for like there is one,” Rondo added. “I’m saving a lot of money this year. I’m saving a lot on my car insurance, too. Geico.”
While that might seem like the off-hand comedic comment it is, he followed up with something a little more telling.
“We’re focused on the season. It’d be great if we could get a ring heading into a lockout but other than that, I’m focused on the season.” Read the rest of this entry »