|A look back: Celtics vs. Heat||04.15.10 at 11:15 pm ET|
The Celtics and Heat will square off in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs on Saturday. The teams faced each other three times this season, with the Celtics sweeping the regular-season series. See how the Celtics got a 3-0 edge over the Heat heading into the postseason:
CELTICS 92, HEAT 85
Nov. 29, 2009, at Miami
How the Celtics won: Led by 24 points (11-12 FG) from Kevin Garnett, the Celtics starters led a balanced attack in this win over the Heat. Rajon Rondo (13 points, 11 assists) and Kendrick Perkins (14 points, 13 rebounds) recorded double-doubles; Paul Pierce added 15 points; and Ray Allen scored 11, including a key 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter. The C’s shut the Heat down from behind the arc (2-for-15). Michael Beasley was the only player to knock down a trey.
Wade watch: Dwyane Wade scored a game-high 27 points. He attempted 23 field goals, the same number as Garnett and Pierce combined. The Heat were also a team-low -14 with Wade on the court.
Key stat: Assists ‘ Celtics 21, Heat 12
After the game: Celtics 13-4, Heat 9-7
The Three-Pointer: Garnett enjoys a run of near perfection
|Unexpected Reunion for Davis and Lafayette||04.14.10 at 11:44 pm ET|
Glen Davis got a surprise when he arrived at TD Garden on Wednesday.
He entered the locker room and saw his childhood friend, Oliver Lafayette ‘¦ in Celtics warmup gear?
‘I walked in and I was like, ‘What’s up man?! Baton Rouge!” Davis exclaimed.
Davis and Lafayette have known each other since elementary school and played AAU basketball together in Louisiana. Unbeknown to Davis, Lafayette had recently signed with the Celtics. The former D-League standout received the call just two days ago while he was driving to Baton Rogue.
‘My agent called me and told me Danny Ainge had called him. When he called me, I almost ran off the road driving,’ Lafayette said before suiting up for his first Celtics game. ‘I had to pull over for like an hour or two. I had to regroup myself. I called my mother and told her the good news.’
The 25-year-old guard came to the Celtics by way of Brown Mackie (Junior) College, the University of Houston, Erie BayHawks and Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He is thankful for his time in the NBA Development League, where he says the coaches gave him the green light to play ball.
‘My coaches just taught me the game,’ he said. ‘They put the ball in my hand and let me go to work, learn how to read the defense and stuff like that.’
This season Lafayette averaged 17.1 points, 6.5 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in 48 games for the Mad Ants, and ranked 10th in the league in steals. He was named NBDL Co-Performer of the Week after averaging 26.4 points, 8.0 assists, and 6.4 rebounds in his last seven games.
“He’s a scorer,” said Davis. “He’s a scoring point guard. He can play the point, he can play the one, play the two. He’s efficient with his jumpshot, playing defense, he’d be good for our team.”
The rookie made the most of his first opportunity with the Celtics in their 106-95 loss to the Bucks. He scored seven points (3-6 from the field, including 1-of-2 on threes), grabbed four rebounds, and dished two assists in 21 minutes. Davis believes it is time for Lafayette’s hard work to pay off.
‘He’s a great guy, a wonderful player. I think he’s a great player, actually,’ he said. ‘Oliver, I’ve always though of like a late-bloomer as far as his opportunities. He played high school at Capitol High School ‘¦ he went to [junior college], every time it was a late-bloomer. He went to University of Houston, played great over there, and now he’s just finally really getting his opportunity.”
Lafayette’s goal is to play well enough to earn a contract with the Celtics next season. In the meantime, he is trying to digest a whirlwind 48 hours that has taken him from the roads of Louisiana to the Garden parquet.
‘I can’t believe it myself right now,’ he said. ‘This is a great opportunity, great guys, great team, and great players I’ve been looking up to my whole life.”
|Allen’s high-flying dreams||04.11.10 at 11:27 pm ET|
Ray Allen has been having the same dream for years. He envisions it in his sleep and carries it with him on to the court.
‘I always, I have this thing in my mind like sometimes when I’m sleeping I dream that I can fly,’ he said. ‘When I’m playing basketball, it always tells myself that I’ve still got great legs, like I still have that lift in my legs. So when I get on the floor, you see a play, you see something happen, you just feel like you can take it, you can make a certain play happened based on getting up there to the basket.’
Allen doesn’t have wings in his dream. He isn’t a high-flying hero like Superman or Iron Man either. Instead he imagines things like soaring over an oncoming car or running with his friends in the air. It can even be as simple as making it home from a park in a single jump.
The dream has a deeper meaning for the 34-year-old than just being able to take flight. To him, it exemplifies the work ethic that he has committed himself to over his 14-year career.
‘I’ve been having that for a long time,’ Allen explained. ‘That’s why when I always wake up, it’s like a great feeling. You wake up and you just know, for me what I do, I get out on the floor and I just feel like I still have that. For me, it translates into my athleticism.’
Athleticism ‘¦ and perhaps some competition, too? Being able to fly also means he can get places faster than those on foot. It’s another asset to put him ahead of the pack.
‘Both. I think it’s more of my competition,’ Allen said. ‘If you think about the ability to train yourself to go work out or to go do something that’s going to give you greater stamina or endurance, that’s what I think it is, is you’ve got to start from somewhere. Like sitting around, you see some guy on TV bench pressing and he has muscles on every part of his body. Most people see that and say man I’ve got to go work out. Like where does your motivation come from? I think that’s partly the competition factor, like I need to get shots up, I need to go get on the treadmill.’
As Allen dreams of winning another NBA championship this postseason, his dreams of flying continue to serve as subconscious motivation.
‘It just always, for some reason, it just gives me great confidence when I wake up,’ he said. ‘It’s like my body feels great. That’s kind of the translation that I make when I wake up. I’m like I feel great, my legs feel great, and now I’m going to work out and get that strength that I need.’
|Rondo talks winning in cover story||04.08.10 at 11:17 pm ET|
This month Rajon Rondo is featured on the cover of Dime Magazine, his first national cover story. Rondo discusses his competitive nature, dedication to winning, and drive to be the best. Check out a video from the photo shoot and excerpts from the article:
On staying hungry: ‘After I won the first ring, I just wanted to get another one. Stay hungry and never settle. Most people don’t get to experience that feeling, so I want to try and feel that way again. Especially with the team that we have, most people can’t say that they can compete each year for a ring, and for the last three years, we’ve been able to contend. Might as well seize the opportunity while I can.”
On inspiring work ethics: ‘Now, KG. Actually, KG and Ray. They’re future Hall of Famers. And right now as we speak, you know they’re down there working out. They never settle, so why should I? I’ve accomplished nowhere near what they’ve accomplished. They’re perennial All-Stars. That’s one of my goals as I continue getting better.”
On being the best: ‘What makes me want to keep getting better is that I just love being the best. I know other point guards like Deron Williams and Chris Paul aren’t settling; Steve Nash continues to get better as he gets older. I’m in love with trying to be the best person I can be, the best player on the court, the best point guard in the league.”
|Injuries could impact Eastern Conference standings||04.07.10 at 12:47 am ET|
Andrew Bogut’s gruesome arm injury was the first of many to hit the Eastern Conference over the last few days. Joe Johnson will miss at least two games with a sprained thumb and Chris Bosh’s status is unclear after suffering a facial fracture on Tuesday against the Cavaliers.
With just over a week left in the regular season, these injuries could impact playoff seedings, including that of the Celtics.
Aside from the Washington Wizards, whom the C’s will play on Friday, their remaining competitors are vying for postseason positions. Johnson’s injury opens the window of opportunity for the Celtics to close in on the third seed (currently held by the Hawks), but their opponents will be trying to secure their own place in the playoffs as well.
Toronto Raptors (currently 8th)
Wednesday, April 7 @ Toronto
The Raptors were dealt a devastating blow on Tuesday when Bosh suffered an unintentional elbow to the face from Antawn Jamison. According to reports, Bosh will remain in Cleveland overnight. His status is unknown.
Milwaukee Bucks (currently 5th)
Saturday, April 10 @ Milwaukee
Wednesday, April 14 @ Boston
The Bucks posed problems for the Celtics when healthy, and now this team is on a mission without Bogut. The young squad still has plenty of weapons and will challenge the Celtics even if they don’t have their big man in the middle.
Chicago Bulls (currently one game out of 8th)
Tuesday, April 13 @ Chicago
If there is any team with something to play for right now, it is the Bulls. They were already edging toward the eighth spot. Now the injury of Bosh has created an opportunity for them to grab it if they can win enough games down the stretch.
|James took lessons learned from battles with Pierce||04.04.10 at 11:58 pm ET|
The matchup between Paul Pierce and LeBron James is one of the most competitive battles in the NBA. But before James was dominating the scoreboard, he was trying to learn from his veteran counterpart.
“When I first came into the league, he was a seasoned vet and I was a rookie just trying to learn the curve and things like that,” James said prior to the Celtics 117-113 win over the Cavaliers. “Over the years, he’s still been an All-Star, he’s still been competitive. I’m just trying to develop my game to be one of the best three’s (small forwards) in the league, to be on Paul Pierce’s level and all these other guys’ level.”
On Sunday, James outscored Pierce, 42-16 (20 of his points came in the fourth quarter alone). It’s a far cry from their first regular-season matchup seven years ago. On Nov. 13, 2003, James ‘ as a rookie ‘ scored 10 points in a 91-82 loss to the Celtics. In that one, Pierce, who was entering his sixth season, led the C’s with 19 points.
‘You learn, the game itself teaches you game after game after game,” James said. ‘But you learn when you go against the best, you see why they are considered the best at that time or still now because of the work they put into it. They never took a night off.’
James is averaging 29.9 points this season (30.6 in his last five contests) and has scored more than 20 points in all but one game since the All-Star Break. He wrapped up his regular season matchup with the Celtics averaging 36.5 points in four games.
‘I’ve been able to be recognized as one of the best three’s that we have in this league,” James added, “So it’s always fun to go against the best guys in the league, and Paul continues to be that since I was a rookie.’
|First half: Celtics – Cavs||at 2:10 pm ET|
The Celtics jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the first two minutes in never trailed in the first quarter. It was Ray Allen — not LeBron James — who led all players with 10 points. James and Mo Williams were right behind him with eight points apiece for the Cavs. Both teams shot 50 percent from the field in the first quarter.
Doc Rivers turned to his bench when Rajon Rondo picked up two early fouls. First one in: Tony Allen, who is averaging 9.25 points and 3.5 rebounds in the last four games. Interesting move as this left the unit without a true point guard. That didn’t halt the Celtics, though, as they outscored the Cavs, 33-24, after the first 12 minutes.
The Celtics continued to build their lead in the second quarter. They were up, 50-40, with 3:23 left before back-to-back fouls on Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett allowed the Cavs to chip away at the deficit. They went on a 7-2 run to get back within five. But the Celtics answered with a 5-0 run of their own, propelled by Garnett and Paul Pierce. Rondo drained a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Celtics a 64-49 halftime lead.
Williams leads all players with 15 points. James has 10. Rondo and Ray Allen scored 12 each. The Celtics are 37-17 when leading or tied at the half.
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