|Rondo eyes matchup with Westbrook||03.31.10 at 12:36 am ET|
For the past four years, Rajon Rondo has been catching the eyes of veteran point guards around the league as he developed into an All-Star. Now there is another up-and-coming player who has caught his attention.
Rondo has been impressed by the play of Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.
“He’s a mature guy,“ Rondo said. “He’s running the show, he’s getting his main guy the ball, and at times he knows when to attack.”
In just his second season in the NBA, Westbrook is averaging over 16 points and ranks eighth in the league with 7.9 assists per game. (Rondo is fourth with 9.8 apg.) Many of those have been dished to teammate Kevin Durant, the league’s second-leading scorer.
Not only is Westbrook moving the ball, he also is helping his team win. The young Thunder squad currently holds the sixth seed in the Western Conference and has just two less wins than the Celtics this season.
On Wednesday, the C’s will look to push that differential up to three wins when they face the Thunder at TD Garden. Rondo knows he will have to buckle down on defense to stop Westbrook. Both players scored 15 points in their first meeting of the season (a Celtics win) in December.
“[I have to] try to keep him in front of me, keep him out of transition,“ Rondo said. “He loves to attack in transition, so just try to keep between him and the basket.”
Rondo understands how to stop Westbrook for a reason. Prior to the his first All-Star appearance, Rondo pointed out Westbrook as the player in the Rookie-Sophomore game who reminds him most of himself. He drew similarities between their quickness and aggressiveness with the ball.
If it were up to Rondo, Westbrook would have been joining him on the court in Dallas.
“I think he could’ve gotten into the All-Star Game this year too as well,” Rondo said. “Hopefully he’ll make it next year. He got overlooked, but he’s definitely a good player.”
Even though Rondo and Westbrook are only in their early 20s, Rondo believes this matchup has the potential to become one to watch over the next few seasons.
“You know you’ll be going against him for hopefully another six or seven years,” he said.
|Williams happy to see Duke return to Final Four||03.30.10 at 12:36 am ET|
It’s hard for Shelden Williams to believe the last time the Duke appeared in the Final Four, he was on the court.
In 2004 the Blue Devils suffered a one-point loss to the University of Connecticut Huskies, who went on to win it all. Since then, the team had not been able to make it past the Sweet Sixteen. (Interestingly enough, Williams and the Blue Devils were eliminated by Glen Davis and the LSU Tigers in 2006.) But that all changed this season.
Six years later, Williams watched Duke defeat Baylor in the Elite Eight prior to the Celtics-Spurs game. (He even boasted when the Blue Devils drained back-to-back 3-pointers.) The top-seeded Blue Devils will face the second-ranked Mountaineers of West Virginia on Saturday in a Final Four match up. It has been a long wait for Williams, who is happy to see his alma mater just one game away from the championship battle.
What was it like watching Duke advance to the Final Four?
“It’s great. It’s kind of strange that this is the first time that we’ve been back to the Final Four since my team in ‘04. It’s been kind of crazy, but actually this year has been amazing for college basketball fans to watch. This tournament has been unbelievable with underdog teams and powerhouse teams, you never know what to expect. If you had tried to tell me after being in the tournament that a fifth seed, a fifth seed, and only one one-seed would make it, that’s crazy.”
Why do you think the Blue Devils could win it all this year?
“Everybody on that team is playing their role. Nobody’s getting out of hands with things, nobody’s trying to doing more than what they can do. I think just everybody is playing their role and playing off of each other well. I think that’s a great thing for them to do. Whether they’re not shooting well, like [Sunday], (Kyle) Singler was 0-for-10, he’s one of the top scorers if not the top scorer on the team, and they still managed to find a way to win. That says a lot.”
Even though you are in the NBA now, what do you miss the most about playing in the NCAA Tournament?
“Just how much every game means to you, how much the atmosphere comes into play, everybody is into it whether they love you or hate you. Basketball is like king and everything else is secondary. It’s one of the best feelings to be part of.”
For more on Williams career at Duke, where he graduated as the school’s all-time leader in rebounds and blocked shots, check out WEEI.com’s Inside the Game series.
|Perkins expects to play on Wednesday||03.29.10 at 1:05 am ET|
On Sunday, Kendrick Perkins missed his second straight game with tendonitis in his left knee. Following the Celtics loss to the Spurs, he told WEEI.com he expects to practice on Tuesday and play on Wednesday against the Thunder.
“I feel good,” he said, adding, “[I’m getting] a lot of rest, hitting the weights, pool, so it’ll be alright.”
Even though he has his return in sight, that didn’t make the Celtics loss any easier to watch from the bench.
“It sucked,” he said. “You always want to be on the court.”
Even though the Celtics missed Perkins on the court as well — they were outrebounded 48-37 — they don’t want him to push himself either.
“I would say [we missed] his defensive tenacity, but it’s no rush with Perk,“ said Rasheed Wallace. “These last few games, we’re already set. These last few games, they mean something but they don’t mean nothing, if you get what I’m saying. But our main thing is to get Perk healthy, take a couple games off, lay off them knees for a minute, and come back with some fresh legs.”
|Halftime: Celtics vs. Nuggets||03.24.10 at 8:19 pm ET|
The Celtics rebounded nicely from their second-half fade on Monday night by claiming a 61-51 lead over the high-powered Denver Nuggets at the break.
The exclamation point on the outstanding play was a spectacular Tony Allen dunk on a beautiful feed from Rajon Rondo with 1:23 left and a layup with 0.1 seconds remaining in the half. Allen had 10 points off the Celtics bench.
This game was played at a breakneck tempo right out of the gate, with both teams executing their offenses at a high level.
The Celtics came out and appeared ready to make a statement against a Nuggets team that is expected to be the chief competition out West to the defending champion Lakers this spring. The Celtics made 13-of-21 shots from the floor and outscored Denver 20-8 in the paint to take a 30-27 lead after one.
Paul Pierce again showed he is ready to assume leadership of the team heading into the home stretch as he poured in a game-leading 16 points. That offset an equally impressive first half from Carmelo Anthony, who had 14.
The Celtics bench again saw a significant amount of playing time, bridging the first and second quarters effectively, and even building the lead up to nine points late in the second quarter. The down side to that was foul trouble.
In addition to the three first half fouls that sent Pierce to the bench early prematurely, Marquis Daniels also picked up three and Glen Davis two as 16 fouls were called on the Green in the opening 24 minutes.
But again the ball distribution was outstanding as the Celtics racked up 19 assists, led by seven from Rondo.
Growing up, Nate Robinson was supposed to stay away from sweets. All that sugar would keep him awake, his mother told him. He found a way to get into it anyways.
But Robinson never needed sweets and sugar to get going. He has been high-powered for as long as he can remember. The 25-year-old is the oldest of nine siblings (the youngest is 4 years old), and being a ringleader of energy was something he says fell into his lap.
“It just came naturally, I guess,” he said. “I was always energized and always wanted to have fun and mess with people. I always wanted people to have as much fun as I’m having. I think that’s what it was for me. I feel like if other people are not having fun or not being energized, I think that I didn’t do my job that day. So I always have to bring that energy.”
Robinson has made a career out of channeling that energy on to the basketball court. The former University of Washington standout was selected by the Suns with the 21st pick in the 2005 draft. He spent past 4½ seasons providing an instant spark for the Knicks in a backup role before being traded to the Celtics in February.
Robinson’s “ready whenever” mentality was showcased this season in his return from being benched for 14 straight games with the Knicks. On Jan. 1, he exploded for 41 points in just 38 minutes off the bench. He scored 11 of the Knicks’ 13 overtime points in a victory over the Hawks. To Robinson, he was just doing his job.
“It’s funny,” he said. “I felt the same like I always do.”
Robinson instant energy has enhanced the C’s second unit in the second half of the season. While the Celtics lost one sharpshooter in Eddie House, they gained another confident offensive player who has the potential to make an impact in the postseason. After less than two months on the team, Doc Rivers told WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan show, “Nate is a guy who has the chance to be a one-game sensation. He’s going to win a playoff game for us.”
Robinson may not know when Rivers is going to call his name, when he does, he’ll be ready to go.
“For them, they don’t need much because they’re a smart team,” Robinson said of the Celtics. “They’re a fun team. Baby [Glen Davis], he brings the energy as well, so they have guys that do that. Me, I’m just adding a little more fuel so they can go a little faster.”
As part of WEEI.com’s “Inside the Game” series with the Celtics, Robinson explains what it means to be a high-energy player:
Call him ‘Garbage Man’: Providing a spark off the bench may not be appealing to every player, but Robinson enjoys doing the dirty work on the court.
“It’s kind of like, it’s a job that has to be done. It’s kind of like a garbage man, that’s how I look at it, kind of like a garbage man. Everybody needs their garbage picked up and I’m that guy to do it. I’m the energy guy. I’ve got to bring enough energy for everybody, enough for the whole building.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Green soars in Russian dunk contest||03.22.10 at 1:14 am ET|
It has been almost four months since former Celtic Gerald Green signed overseas, and he has been showcasing his high-flying skills internationally.
Green, a member of Lokomotiv Kuban, recently squared off against former NBA players James White and Pops Mensah-Bonsu in the 2010 Gatorade Dunk Contest in Russia. Even though Green always maintained he wanted to be viewed as more just a dunker, he didn’t shy away from his leaping abilities in this competition.
(Warning: Content features music with explicit lyrics.)
|Fast Break: Celtics – Rockets||03.19.10 at 10:12 pm ET|
The Big Three came together to help the Celtics beat the Rockets, 94-87, on Friday night in Houston.
Paul Pierce led all players with 26 points (15 in the fourth quarter); Ray Allen shot 5-for-8 from 3-point range (19 points), and Kevin Garnett scored 15. Allen and Garnett’s contributions were so significant because they kept the Celtics ahead when Pierce was benched early on with foul trouble. The trio didn’t have to be on the court at the same time to be effective.
The Celtics actually trailed 13-6 early in the first before going on an 8-0 run to erase their deficit. The comeback was a team effort. The C’s first 10 points came off of baskets from each of the five starters. They led 28-24 after the first 12 minutes.
The Celtics held the Rockets scoreless for the first 3:38 of the second quarter. During that stretch, they went on a 5-0 run and built a nine-point lead, which they carried into halftime.
When the Rockets made a push in the third, the Celtics fended off the threat with long-range shooting. Ray Allen and Nate Robinson nailed 3-pointers that kept the Rockets at bay.
Then the fourth belonged to Pierce. He scored 15 of his 26 points in the final quarter to ice the Celtics third straight win.
Turning Point: The Rockets had closed in, 57-55, with 5:28 left in the third. Kendrick Perkins blocked a driving layup attempt by Aaron Brooks and Rajon Rondo grabbed the rebound. He dished it to Ray Allen, who nailed a trey and pushed the Celtics back up, 62-57. It set the Celtics up for a series of 3′s that would maintain their lead.
Player of the Game: It’s tough to give the award to just one player when the Celtics won the game with a combined effort by Pierce, Allen, and Garnett. Each player did their part to lead the C’s to victory and picked up the slack when the other was off the court.
- Rasheed Wallace had one of his best performances in a Celtics uniform. He scored seven points off a combination of inside and outside shots, and grabbed nine rebounds.
- Glen Davis also had a solid contribution off the bench. He posted seven points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes. Nate Robinson scored eight in 13 minutes.
- Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 10 assists. The Rockets as a team dished just 15.