|Celtics and Magic: Road to the Second Round||05.03.09 at 11:07 pm ET|
The second round match up between the Boston Celtics (62-20) and Orlando Magic (59-23) has been in the makings for months. After the Cleveland Cavaliers ran away with the best record in the East, both clubs knew there was a strong chance they would meet again in the playoffs. The Celtics and Magic split the season series 2-2. This time, they will play until one team comes out on top.
December 1: Celtics 107, Magic 88
The Magic tried to beat the Celtics from long range … and failed. The Celtics shot 6-for-13 (46%) from behind the arc while the Magic shot themselves out of the game (5-26 3PG, 19%). Paul Pierce scored 17 of his 24 points in the third quarter as the Celtics outscored the Magic 59-42 in the second half. Rashard Lewis led all scorers with 30 points. Emotions ran high in this game, prompting eight technical fouls. Sam Cassell, in his most memorable moment of the season, was ejected from the sidelines for arguing a call. Jameer Nelson (hip) did not play.
Related Story: Sounds of the Game
January 22: Celtics 90, Magic 80
The Celtics cut Dwight Howard’s night short by drawing six fouls on the big man in 38 minutes. Howard shot just 4-for-10 from the field and finished with 11 points and 11 boards. The Celtics extended their winning streak to seven games behind 27 points from Paul Pierce. They got a boost from Glen Davis, who scored 16 points off the bench. The Magic outscored the Celtics 21-0 from three-point range.
Related Story: Are the Magic a Threat?
March 8: Magic 86, Celtics 79
Already banged up without Kevin Garnett (knee) and Rajon Rondo (ankle), the Celtics watched Glen Davis leave the game with a sprained ankle. The depleted Celtics squad could not fend off 18 points and 15 rebounds from Dwight Howard as the Magic won in Boston. Without Rondo in the lineup, the Magic posted seven more assists (17) and steals (9) than the Celtics. Ray Allen led all scorers with 32 points (12-25 FG).
Related Story: Magic a Problem Without KG
March 25: Magic 84, Celtics 82
The box score painted a different picture than the final score. The Celtics outshot the Magic 43% to 37% from the field and outscored them 20 to 14 in the fourth quarter. But ultimately it was Dwight Howard’s stat line that won the game. He posted 24 points, 21 rebounds, and 4 blocks (including a swat against Pierce with four seconds left) that gave the Magic the edge over the Celtics. Kevin Garnett (knee) was limited to just 16 minutes and Leon Powe (knee) did not play.
Related Story: Magic Not Ready for Prime Time
|The Road to Game 7||05.02.09 at 3:22 pm ET|
The combination of an injured Celtics team and an athletic Bulls squad ruled out expectations of a sweep in the first round in the playoffs for the defending champs. Even a Game 7 wasn’t that unrealistic considering the Celtics struggles with the Hawks last season. But the road the Celtics took to this deciding game was nearly impossible to predict.
Game 1: Bulls 105, Celtics 103 (OT)
The Bulls stunned the Celtics on their own court with an overtime victory that set the tone for the intensity and unpredictability of the series. Paul Pierce missed a potential game-winning free-throw with 2.6 seconds left in regulation and Ray Allen (1-12 FG) failed to connect on the last shot of overtime for the Celtics. Point guards Rajon Rondo (29 points, 7 assists, 9 rebounds) and Derrick Rose (36 points, 11 assists, 12-12 FT) established a rivalry that will play out in seasons to come.
Game 2: Celtics 118, Bulls 115
Game 2 was a showcase of UConn’s finest. Ray Allen redeemed himself from Game 1 by hitting a game-winning three-pointer with two seconds left on the clock. Ben Gordon scored 42 points, including a go-ahead shot with 12 seconds left, in the Bulls loss. Rajon Rondo (19 points, 16 assists, 12 rebounds) recorded a triple-double. But the Celtics celebration was cut short ‘ Leon Powe suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the second quarter.
Game 3: Celtics 107, Bulls 86
The Celtics got payback for their Game 1 loss by blowing out the Bulls in Chicago. They held Derrick Rose to just nine points while shooting nearly 50% from the field. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined for 7-for-12 from long range. Glen Davis posted 14 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 6 steals.
Game 4: Bulls 121, Celtics 118 (2 OT)
Ray Allen and Ben Gordon were back at it in Game 4. Allen knocked down a game-tying three with ten seconds left in regulation before Gordon hit a contested trey to force overtime. Game 4 was one by a battle of the benches. Kirk Hinrich and Brad Miller combined for 30 points while five Celtics reserves added just 11. Rajon Rondo (25 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) posted another triple-double in the loss.
Game 5: Celtics 106, Bulls 104 (OT)
Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo proved there is more to the Celtics than just the Big Three in Game 5. Perkins (16 points, 19 rebounds, 7 blocks) played 48 minutes of foul-free basketball. Rondo (28 points, 11 assists, 8 points) delivered the most memorable moment of the series to date by bloodying Brad Miller’s mouth as the big man drove to the basket for an attempted game-tying basket. Ben Gordon, who was questionable with a strained hamstring, scored 26 points for the Bulls.
Game 6: Bulls 128, Celtics 127 (3 OT)
Emotions ran strong from Game 5 as Rajon Rondo and Kirk Hinrich got involved in an altercation early on. The foul trouble continued for the Celtics and they found themselves without Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins, and Glen Davis at the final buzzer. Ray Allen’s 51 points (18-32 FG, 9-18 3PG) were overshadowed by the Bulls triple-overtime win, which was iced with Derrick Rose’s block against Rajon Rondo’s attempted go-ahead shot. John Salmons scored 35 points for the Bulls in the win.
|Official Pierce T-Shirts on Sale for Game 7||05.01.09 at 4:41 pm ET|
@paulpierce34: hey guys got my official t-shirts for sale! pick one up, pass me some Celtic karma for game 7 on Sat
Paul Pierce is back on Twitter, this time selling T-shirts on his website, PaulPierce.net, for Game 7 on Saturday. The series of shirts feature the phrase, “We know truth not only by reason, but also by the heart.” Click here for a complete selection of merchandise.
|Game 7 Garnett Chatter||at 8:37 am ET|
There were rumors of a possible return even before Kevin Garnett decided to hold off knee surgery. There were the conspiracy theorists who believed KG would suit up if it came down to a Celtics/Cavs Eastern Conference Finals. Reggie Miller believed Garnett would return even sooner if the Celtics made it out of the first round.
But now the Celtics are tied 3-3 with the Bulls and elimination is on the line. It was only inevitable that the rumors — remember, nothing has been confirmed — would heat up.
Following the Celtics Game 6 triple-overtime loss, ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski addressed the issue:
Even more interesting is the rumor, nothing more, that the injured Kevin Garnett might attempt a Game 7 return.
“You must be one of those conspiracy theorists,” said Allen, when asked to divulge any secret Garnett-will-play scenarios.
Allen has acted in movies, but he seemed to play it straight on the possibility of a Garnett return. He said Garnett is “anxious,” but wouldn’t you be if you had to watch Marbury?
|Positive impression left by Marbury||04.30.09 at 4:27 pm ET|
For many of the Knicks, there was no love lost by the time Stephon Marbury officially left New York in February. Their relationship had been tarnished for months, if not years. But there was one player who had been positively impacted by Marbury in just a matter of weeks.
“It’s funny that you asked me [about him]. He was a very good mentor to me,” said Anthony Roberson. “When I got here in the short time I knew him, he was very encouraging to me. He always made sure I kept a good attitude and was working hard and always had good, positive stuff to say about always getting better every game.”
Roberson, now a member of the Chicago Bulls, met Marbury after signing with the Knicks last summer. He was returning from a stint in Turkey and was trying to get acclimated with his fifth organization in four years. The veteran took the newcomer under his wing during the preseason.
“When he was in practice we always shot together after practices, he was my partner,” Roberson said. “He always had a very positive attitude toward me in the time he was here with me. I enjoyed all the things he told me, just helped me get better every single day and keep a level head and a positive attitude.”
He added, “[He was] very accessible to me. I would always talk to him if I had a question, from offense to how to really react to certain situations to being on the court to always being ready and prepared for my opportunity, and always staying ready. He was very positive and the things he said were very valuable to me in the time he was [in New York].”
Marbury was eventually banished from the Knicks. Roberson was eventually traded to the Bulls. Now the two are on opposing teams in the first round of the playoffs. Despite their different uniforms, there was a time when they only wanted each other to succeed.
Said Roberson, “He had a good heart and was encouraging to me.”
|Marbury opens up on E:60||04.29.09 at 11:25 pm ET|
On this week’s episode of ESPN’s E:60, Lisa Salters sat down with Stephon Marbury for an in-depth look back at his road to the Boston Celtics. Marbury opens up about the highs and lows of his 13-year NBA career, including leaving Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves, returning home to the New York Knicks and the turmoil that ensued, the impact of his father’s death, and signing with the world champions.
On 2009 NBA season:
Everything that I went through this year, it was tough. It was like being in jail. Then to end up in this situation, it’s like you go from hell to being in heaven.
On demanding a trade from the Timberwolves in 1998:
I don’t want to tell you that I’ma stay, I’ma stay, I’ma stay here, and then when it’s time to re-sign, then I leave and then ya’ll stuck and then ya’ll don’t have a point guard. So I was looking out for the franchise and I was trying to do the honorable thing. [Salters: Why didn't you want to stay?] I just wanted to, I wanted to move, move on. You know I wanted to leave Minnesota. I didn’t want to live there.
On joining the Knicks in 2004:
That was one of the happiest times of my life. [Salters: Why?] Because I got an opportunity to go back home. I got an opportunity to play for the team that I idolized. I felt like going home was gonna be perfect for me.
On Knicks sexual harassment case:
I wasn’t proud of the things that I did. Not at all. You know it wasn’t the right thing, you know. I made a mistake, I’m human. And I asked for forgiveness, I apologized. There wasn’t nothing else I could do.
On death of father, who suffered heart attack during Knicks game unbeknown to Marbury:
I basically lost my mind when my father died. You know, going to the psychiatrist was the best thing that I ever did. You know growing up, growing up in the projects you think you go to a psychiatrist, people are gonna think you’re crazy. No. You’re crazy if you don’t go. I had post traumatic stress from different things that was going on. [Salters: Was it diagnosed as post traumatic stress?] Yeah. He told me, he was like you’re a mess right now, basically.
|No punishment for Rondo||at 4:37 pm ET|
According to the Boston Globe, an NBA official has confirmed Celtics guard Rajon Rondo will not face further action in response to his Game 5 foul on Brad Miller. The Bulls had argued Rondo committed a flagrant foul in the closing seconds of overtime. The Celtics and Bulls will play Game 6 on Thursday night in Chicago.
The league did hand down on punishment, though, on Wednesday. Dwight Howard was suspended for Game 6 of the Magic-76ers series for elbowing Samuel Dalembert in the face.