|Celtics teach history lesson||03.29.09 at 10:37 pm ET|
On paper the biggest difference between the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder is their records. The Celtics are atop the Atlantic Division with 60 wins while the Thunder have 40 less. But the Celtics also have an advantage that the Thunder cannot attain in a single season – one of the deepest histories in the NBA.
On Sunday the Thunder made the first trip of their inaugural season the TD BankNorth Garden. (Click here for the recap of the Celtics 103-84 win.) The Celtics legacy was not lost on the Thunder squad.
“Inspirational,” Jeff Green said of playing in the Garden. “That’s the point we want to get at. They won championships and that’s what we want to do. But it takes a lot of focus. You’ve got to play defense. This is our first season. It’s going to take some time. We’ve got to be patient, we’ve got to continue to work hard to get to the point where stuff is working.”
Green was drafted by the Celtics in 2007 and traded to the then-Seattle SuperSonics as part of the Ray Allen deal. He played in Boston last season but this time it was different in a Thunder uniform.
“We have to establish who we want to be,” he said. “As of right now, we’re working on that. But we want to be a defensive-minded team. We want to be able to stop people when it counts. We want to be able to make our opportunities count when we get those stops. And I think right now we’re in the process of forming our identity but we’ve just got to continue to work at it.”
Rookie Russell Westbrook also has his own ties to the Celtics. The Lawndale, California native, and former UCLA Bruin, grew up as a Los Angeles Lakers fan. Even though he rooted against the Celtics, he appreciates their tradition.
“It’s kind of like a dream come true growing up, watching the Celtics and Lakers play,” Westbrook said of his first game in Boston. “I’ve seen the old games and things like that. It’s kind of where you planned on being announced.”
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks hopes his young team will learn a thing or two from the Celtics victory.
“One of things that we will learn is, pick up from this team, is there is a reason why they are a championship team,” he said. “They compete every time they are on the court. They execute throughout the game. They don’t just do it in spurts. It’s something that we have to continue to get better at — play 48 minutes of execution and do a better job of just playing with toughness down the stretch.”
Xs and Os aside, the Thunder can take more than a loss away with them.
“It motivates you to want to get better, to want to be at that championship level,” Green said. “It’s an honor to play in a building where some of the greats, Bill Russell, who have banners hanging up, Larry Bird, Parish, all those guys. They paved the way and made it possible to do what we do today. But we’ve got to build our own type of history. We have to start somewhere. And I think the more that we work, the better and better we get and the closer we wil get to that championship level.”
|Scal growing stir crazy||at 7:08 pm ET|
Brian Scalabrine is getting stir crazy.
The Boston Celtics forward has been out of commission with post concussion syndrome since February 19. In an attempt to speed up his recovery, he pushed himself too far. Scalabrine is still suffering from lingering headaches in the morning and evening. However his doctors discourage him from taking Tylenol because the medication could mask his symptoms.
“I was going too hard. I was doing too many things,” he said prior to the Celtics game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. “I was trying to get back and you’re limited in what you can do. You can ride a bike, you can lift weights, but I was lifting weights really hard, riding the bike really hard. We’re not going to tone that down because they (headaches) could just go away and your body could get used to it. But more so April 1 will be the time that we’ll know from the doctors.”
In the meantime, he is itching to get back on the court. In addition to supporting his teammates, attending Celtics home games is a much needed escape.
“For me it’s about getting out of the house,” Scalabrine, a hunting enthusiast, laughed. “A man can only be home so long before he needs to go hunt and gather … I’ve got to do a lot more than the dishes if I stay home. We’re just not built that way … Men are not built to stay home and do stuff at home … We’re not good like that.”
Scalabrine keeps a journal three times a day to record his progress. He will meet with doctors on April 1.
|Injury Update: Leon Powe||at 6:33 pm ET|
On Sunday Leon Powe made his first appearance at a Boston Celtics game since spraining his knee against the Chicago Bulls on March 17. Powe was scheduled to undergo further testing by team doctors, but spoke to the media beforehand.
“It’s sore every once and a while but it feels good,” he said. “It’s feeling better than it did when I hurt it. I was able to run straight it that game but then when it got stiffened up, it stiffened up on me in the back and I couldn’t even move it.”
Powe suffered the injury when he banged knees with Ben Gordon. A sprain is nothing compared to the extensive knee injuries he has endured in the past. He hopes to return a few games before or during the playoffs.
“I’ve been through a lot of knee problems a whole lot worse,” he said. “Just a few weeks, three-and-a-half weeks, that isn’t anything to me. But I would like to get back into action a little bit before the playoffs. But however I feel, that’s where I’m going to go from there.”
As for Sunday’s game, Powe will watch the Celtics take on the Oklahoma City Thunder from the locker room.
“I’m not going to be on the bench,” he said. “I didn’t wear a sports coat today. I don’t want to get fined, especially when I’m sitting out.”
Update: Following the game, Powe gave a thumbs up when asked about his meeting with team doctors.
|Pierce continues to fight for sick girl||03.27.09 at 4:14 pm ET|
Paul Pierce has been fighting to help save Jasmina Anema, a six-year-old girl who is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant to battle a rare form of leukemia. In response, he is encouraging any compatible donors to take part in an upcoming blood drive. For more information visit www.paulpierce.net or www.oneforjasmina.com.
Sunday, April 5th
11:00 AM-4:00 PM
316 Huntington Ave
|House and son on Cartoon Network||03.25.09 at 6:30 pm ET|
Eddie House’s seven-year-old son Jaelen has become a mainstay on the sidelines by the Boston Celtics bench. Now their close relationship will be featured in the new series, My Dad’s A Pro, on the Cartoon Network. The show will follow Jaelen’s day-to-day life as the son of an NBA player. They will be the first father-son pair on the show, which will debut this fall.
NBA commissioner David Stern and Stuart Snyder, President and COO of Turner Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media, made the announcement today at the annual Cartoon Network Upfront presentation in New York. According to the press release, the NBA and Cartoon Network have developed a partnership to create long and short-form basketball-themed content, including online (CartoonNetwork.com), mobile, and on-air.
|Celtics not Magic’s biggest problem||at 12:34 am ET|
Boston Celtics (54-18) @ Orlando Magic (52-18)
8:00PM EST, ESPN
The Orlando Magic established themselves as a contender early on this season, positioning Wednesday’s game against the Boston Celtics as a possible Eastern Conference Semifinals – or even Finals — match up. But before the Magic can think about playing the role of spoiler, they have their own issues to take care of first – the Detroit Pistons.
“We can’t focus in on how they’ve played us in the past,” said Magic center Dwight Howard. “This is going to be a different year for us in the postseason if we continue to do the things that we do on a night in, night out basis.”
Over the past two seasons the Magic have made early exits from the playoffs at the hands of the Pistons. In 2007 they were swept 4-0 in the first round. Last season, in spite of earning their best record in over 10 years, they fell 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
With less than a month left in the regular season and Eastern Conference rankings changing every night, the Magic could very well face the Pistons in the first round of the playoffs.
“I think mentally we’ve got to get over that hill, I guess, that they present to us,” said Howard. “They’re a very physical team, they get away with it. They know how to score. They play great defense. And we know how to beat those guys, but it’s just going to take us to come out and do it. We know the way to beat them is to run, not let the defense set up, and then play help defense, and then rebound the basketball. So they’re a team that we can beat. We just have to be mentally on our game.”
This season was the perfect opportunity for the Magic to reverse their luck. They have been soaring behind Howard, beating the Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Los Angeles Lakers. The Pistons, on the other hand, have plummeted since the Allen Iverson trade. But the Magic went 0-3 against the Pistons this season. The third loss came just a day after defeating the Celtics in Boston this month.
“Any team is liable to get beat any night. But you’ve got to be able to beat both teams,” said Howard. “Boston is the world champion so they’re a tough team. And you’ve got Detroit, who’s been beating us like they’ve got our number. I think it’s just a mental block. It’s the same thing that happened to us with the (Atlanta) Hawks. They would always beat us until we got over that — ok, we can beat this team — then that’s when we started beating them. But we have to do that against a good team in Detroit.”
The Magic did not capitalize on the Pistons’ struggles. They are not focused on exploiting the Celtics’ either. While they could view Kevin Garnett’s restricted playing time and the recent depletion of the Celtics bench as a window of opportunity to steal the second seed, the Magic are paying more attention to their own team.
“We’ve just got to continue to do things to win games,” Howard said. “We can’t really focus in on how Cleveland or Boston’s playing. They’re still good teams without those key guys, so we’ve just got to come out every night and continue to get better. Hopefully we’re hot during the playoffs, and the team’s that hot during the playoffs is going to win.”
|Walker happy to take a seat||03.23.09 at 11:23 pm ET|
The return of Kevin Garnett means less playing time for Bill Walker. That’s bad for the Boston Celtics rookie, right? Think again.
“I’m actually happy Ticket’s back,” he said before Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers (RECAP HERE). “He gives our team that swagger again. We’re more aggressive on defense. You can just tell it’s a different team when he’s on the court.”
After bouncing between the bench and the NBA Development League, Walker received a rare window of opportunity for meaningful minutes on the Celtics. He had played a total of just 54 minutes all season before Garnett strained his knee on February 19. With the Celtics bench already hampered by injuries, Walker averaged 8.5 minutes per game in Garnett’s absence.
“I learned that it’s more physical than it looks on TV out there,” he said. “You’ve got to learn to rest your body and take care of your little aches because those games come back so quick. You’ve got to take care of the little things.”
While Walker’s numbers did not skyrocket – his game-high was only eight points – his perspective on the game did.
“You can always get better, especially on defense,” he said. “There are so many things that go with our defense that I don’t know everything. So watching tape and watching myself like, ‘Oh I’m a second late’ or, ‘I’m a step late.’”
Walker is constantly learning, whether it is on the court or on the bench, so he does not mind taking it all in from the sidelines. He pay close attention to the players around him — “What do they do that’s effective?” he asks himself – and tries to incorporate their strengths into his own game. He doesn’t have to look much further than his own team to pick up some pointers.
“Offensively you can take from just about anybody out there. (Rajon) Rondo, how he gets to the basket. Paul (Pierce), his footwork. Ray (Allen’s) shooting. Ticket’s post work. There’s a lot of stuff to watch out there,” Walker said. “I watch Ray on defense. Ray’s got some great defense. People don’t really realize it but Ray’s always in the right position. Hands are where they’re supposed to be. He’s just a smart player.”
The Celtics basketball IQ has already rubbed off on Walker. He’ll take the opportunity to watch the Big Three play any day.
“I think it’s very, very valuable because everybody is not playing on a team with three sure-fire Hall of Famers,” he said. “It’s not like these guys are stuck up. They teach me things every day.”
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