|Eastern Conference weekend guide||04.11.09 at 3:19 pm ET|
While the Boston Celtics-Cleveland Cavaliers battle is a must-watch on Sunday, there are several other games to keep an eye on this weekend that could impact postseason match ups:
Saturday, April 11
(7) Chicago Bulls vs. Charlotte Hornets: 8:30pm EST – WGN
Sunday, April 12
|Celtics riding momentum to Cleveland||04.10.09 at 11:31 pm ET|
When the Boston Celtics arrived in Cleveland in January, they had just dropped their third consecutive game and were in the middle of their longest losing streak since last season. The following game, the Cavaliers blew them out by 15 points.
But thanks to a grind-it-out victory over the Miami Heat on Friday night in Boston, the Celtics are riding the momentum of a six-game winning streak into Sunday’s game in Cleveland. (Click here for a recap) They will try to make a dent in the Cavs’ four-game lead of the top spot, and while head coach Doc Rivers conceded the number one seed weeks ago, the Celtics are looking to build on their two-game lead over the Orlando Magic for the second spot.
‘Every game is a big game for us,’ said Paul Pierce. ‘We’re trying to lock up the number two seed. I think Cleveland locked up the number one seed tonight, so we’re trying to lock up the number two seed. So every game is big for us. We’re only [two] games in front of Orlando, so these last three games we feel like we have to win them all.’
With less than a week left in the regular season, the Celtics have to tackle Sunday’s game as if it were a Game Seven situation. The Cavaliers are sure to as they battle against the Los Angeles Lakers for the number one overall seed.
‘Everybody we play from here on out is basically trying to achieve something,’ said Tony Allen. ‘So each game is playoff-like. We’re going in there with a clear focus that we need to win just as badly as they do because they’re competing with L.A. We’ve got to take it as a must-win game that we need because we’ve got goals that we need to achieve too. It’s going to be a tough fight.’
The Celtics will turn to their bench to help carry the team without Kevin Garnett. Friday’s win against the Heat was a confidence-booster for the reserves.
‘You play a little looser. You play with a little more confidence,’ said Mikki Moore of playing on a winning streak. ‘But we just have to concentrate on the defensive end. We’re pretty sound on the offensive ends. As long as we don’t have too many turnovers and we play solid defense, we’re alright.’
As for Ray Allen, he is simply looking forward to putting a blemish on the Cavaliers’ near-perfect 38-1 home record.
‘They take care of what they have to take care of, we take care of what we have to take care of,’ he said. ‘I think we know where we stand, but as a team it will be a great win on the road for us and that’s what we’re looking forward to.’
The Celtics and Cavaliers will face off at 3:30pm EST on Easter Sunday.
|Powe expects to practice Monday||at 7:07 pm ET|
Leon Powe hasn’t played since spraining his knee on St. Patrick’s Day. He expects to return to practice on Monday, and he doesn’t want his teammates to go easy on him either.
‘Oh no, no, no. I wouldn’t even practice. I wouldn’t even come to practice,’ he said with a laugh prior to the Boston Celtics‘ game against the Miami Heat. ‘No, don’t go easy on me. I want to go in there full speed. You’ve got to go at me so I can test it out.’
Powe is making so much progress, in fact, that he said he is ‘very much ahead of schedule.’ He completed a 30-minute workout with assistant coach Clifford Ray on Friday, focusing on his legs with sliding, cutting, jumping, and post move drills.
But team doctors are still proceeding with caution. They have asked him to wear a brace as a preventative measure to avoid other players banging into his knee. Powe doesn’t like it ‘ taking it on and off is the worst part, he says ‘ but he knows it’s part of the recovery.
Head coach Doc Rivers still does not expect Powe to play before the playoffs.
|Pierce Playoff Ticket Giveaway||at 5:56 pm ET|
Paul Pierce has been in the giving mood lately, offering up tickets to Boston Celtics fans on several occasions. This time he is running a contest on his website (www.paulpierce.net) for a chance to watch the Celtics second home playoff game in his private suite. The winner will be given 12 tickets and a $500 food and beverage credit. It costs $10 to enter — $2 for five chances to win. The deadline and drawing is Friday, April 17. Click here for more details.
|How to dine like a champ||04.09.09 at 1:00 pm ET|
Paul Pierce credited his notable weight loss to a change in diet after the Boston Celtics championship run. Now he is lending his dining tips to Zagat Survey for, ‘A Spotlight on Boston Restaurants: Paul Pierce’s Favorites for Healthy Dining.’
This guide includes Pierce’s advice for staying healthy while eating out at Zagat Survey’s Most Popular restaurants in Boston, which were selected by nearly 7,000 local diners in Zagat’s 2009/10 Boston Restaurants Survey.
Pierce also worked with Zagat on another guide to benefit his Truth Foundation. In addition to healthy dining tips at Zagat’s Most Popular Restaurants in Boston, this guide offers general tips for eating out and fitness advice. Pierce also includes his favorite pre-game meal of grilled salmon, a baked potato, and broccoli.
Information on this pocket-sized guide (for convenience) will be available on paulpierce.net.
|Preview: Boston Celtics vs. New Jersey Nets||04.08.09 at 12:03 am ET|
Season Series: Celtics 3-0
Last time they met: March 4, 2009
Playing without Kevin Garnett, the Celtics gave up a 13-point fourth quarter lead and found themselves down by three with just over a minutes to go. But Ray Allen kicked the Cs into high gear, scoring five points during a 7-0 run. Ultimately it was Paul Pierce’s jumper with 20 seconds left that iced the Celtics 115-111 victory. Pierce (12-14 FG) led the Celtics with 31 points. Vince Carter led all scorers with 34 points (13-21 FG).
Celtics Team Leaders
Scoring: Paul Pierce (20.5 points)
Rebounding: Kevin Garnett* (8.5 points)
Assists: Rajon Rondo (8.4 assists)
Hawks Team Leaders
Scoring: Devin Harris (21.8 points)
Rebounding: Brook Lopez (7.9 rebounds)
Assists: Devin Harris (7.0 assists)
Follow the latest news and updates from the Garden on Green Street.
|Hawks explain Celtics keys to postseason success||04.03.09 at 11:07 pm ET|
Despite looking unstoppable heading into the playoffs last season, the Celtics needed seven games to fend off the eighth-seeded Hawks. This season they are even more vulnerable, with injuries hampering their lineup. If the Celtics came dangerously close to elimination with a healthy squad, what do they have to do this season to avoid another first round scare?
‘They just have to come out to try to keep focused throughout the whole series,’ said Al Horford prior to the Celtics-Hawks game (RECAP HERE). ‘I think that after them beating us the first two games here (Boston), they thought that they could just go into Atlanta and take care of it. But they didn’t realize what was ahead of them. I think they know this by now. They know they have to come in and they have to bring their A-game on the road too.’
The Celtics inability to win on the road nearly cost them their title. They folded in Atlanta — ‘[They played] totally different. Totally different,’ said Horford — and it wasn’t until Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons that they finally won away from the Garden.
‘They are a lot more energetic, I would say, [at home]. They get up and down a lot more and play with a lot more confidence at home, so it makes them a much better team,’ said Joe Johnson. ‘I don’t think they run as much [on the road]. I just think that as soon as you go on the road, the atmosphere is not the same. You’re just not used to a lot of things. But at home, that’s where you’re more comfortable so you tend to play more relaxed and have a lot more confidence.’
Even if the Celtics overcome their woes on the road, there is still a bigger concern ‘ the nagging knee injury of Kevin Garnett. He averaged nearly 21 points (more than twenty percent of the Celtics total offense) and nine rebounds per game in the first round against Atlanta. But the Hawks have lost twice to Celtics this season without Garnett and think they can compensate for his absence.
‘Keep (Glen) Big Baby Davis confident in his play and keep having Mikki Moore come off the bench and play well like he’s doing,’ suggested Josh Smith. ‘I don’t think they have anything to worry about.’
In less than two weeks the Celtics will be drawing up their gameplan for the start of the postseason. While they have three first round losses to the Hawks to reflect on, they may have already learned all the lessons they need.
‘Just win, that’s what it comes down to,’ said Hawks head coach Mike Woodson. ‘I think the fact that they might not have homecourt advantage all the way through, when you win a title that doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t because these guys, they’ve been through the wars. They went seven with us, they went seven with Cleveland, Detroit gave them a good run. There’s nothing they haven’t seen so I don’t think it really matters.
‘They’re going to be there when it counts. I promise you that.’