|Celtics are caught in the middle||03.15.09 at 3:28 pm ET|
The Boston Celtics knew securing homecourt would not be the only challenge in the second half of the season. They also have to fend off playoff-hungry teams that are staying alive one win at a time.
‘Being the defending champ,’ Ray Allen said prior to the All-Star Break, ‘Teams are in our building thinking this in an opportunity for us to beat this team. And if we can prove that we can beat this team, we can beat anybody and we’ll make it into the playoffs, and who knows from there. So we always have to be aware of what we possess.’
On Sunday afternoon, the Bucks affirmed that concern with an 86-77 win over the Celtics in Milwaukee. (RECAP HERE) With that victory, the Bucks reclaimed hold of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. This is not the last time the Celtics will be caught in the middle of a tug-of-war for a playoff berth.
March 17: @ Chicago Bulls (30-37)
Season: Celtics 2-0
The Celtics have not faced the Bulls since they added veterans Brad Miller and John Salmons, a move that recently helped them beat the New Orleans Hornets by 18 points. The Bulls lost hold of the eighth spot with the Bucks win over the Celtics, and there is there is no better place for them to get to take it back than on their home court. They have earned 20 of their 30 victories in Chicago, tied for sixth in home wins in the Eastern Conference.
April 1: vs. Charlotte Bobcats (28-38)
Season: Tied 1-1
In spite of their record, the Bobcats have been a thorn in the Celtics side. Last year they beat the Celtics in Boston and this season snagged an overtime win in Charlotte. Even though the Bobcats have struggled with consistency, alternating winning and losing streaks, they step up their game against the Celtics. They’ll come to Boston with less than 10 games left in the regular season, an opportunity to bolster their playoff hopes.
April 8: vs. New Jersey Nets (28-37)
Season: Celtics 3-0
The Celtics blew out the Nets twice without Kendrick Perkins and beat them again in March without Kevin Garnett. While Devin Harris and Vince Carter are backcourt threats, the Celtics already know how to win without their bigs. The Nets seemed to lack any motivation on their first trip to Boston in January. With a postseason berth on the line, they will stand no chance of making a push if they show up with the same level of energy in April.
|Celtics-Magic Game Blog: Second Quarter||03.08.09 at 12:39 pm ET|
At the start of the second quarter … Magic 22, Celtics 15
– The Magic have scored 16 of their first 22 points in the paint. They’ve done more damage in the lane than the Celtics have done on the floor, and Howard has only played six minutes.
– This could be a big game for Gabe Pruitt. With only Marbury ahead of him at the PG, Pruitt has his first shot in a while to prove himself. He has not played since February 25 against the Los Angeles Clippers. That night he was arrested for suspicion of DUI and served a team-imposed two-game suspension.
– The Celtics have scored just two points in four minutes. And the faint boos have already begun.
– There have been 18 fouls called in the first 18 minutes of the game.
– Howard’s on the bench with three personal fouls. Now is the time for the Celtics to do some damage at the basket. The Cs also have an advantage with J.J. Redick guarding Ray Allen. Redick is not known for his defense.
– The Magic’s deal for Rafer Alston did not get much buzz at the trade deadline but this acquisition is a difference maker in this game. Alston brings quickness to the Magic that the Celtics are having trouble stopping without Rajon Rondo.
– Pierce’s dunk past Pietrus and Battie has the crowd on their feet. The harsh reality is, the Celtics are still down by nearly 20.
- At the half … Magic 51, Celtics 33
|Powe knows when to put on a show||03.06.09 at 11:54 pm ET|
The bigger the spotlight, the bigger he plays. Leon Powe does not always see major minutes, but when he is put on a national stage, he always seems to make the most of his time. Powe tries to show the world ‘ and his opponents ‘ just what he can do when given the opportunity.
‘Everybody knows their on TV, but you want to play well. You want to do your best,’ he said following the Celtics 105-94 win over the Cavaliers (RECAP HERE). ‘I always focus every game, I prepare the same, but there’s just a certain feeling when you wake up in the morning like you know you’re playing a big game.’
On Friday’s ESPN-televised game, Powe posted 20 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes. He is averaging just 6.7 points, 4.5 boards, and 16 minutes on the season. Not only was Powe aware of the implications of the game in a close Eastern Conference race, he also understood the consequences of a poor showing.
‘You’ve got to go out there and do well,’ he said. ‘You don’t want to do bad because you’re family and people are probably going to call you, like ‘What were you doing? What happened on this play?’ So I try to be extra focused too and just try to make the right reads and the right plays. I think I did everything right tonight, so fortunately I did. And that was good because some nights you aren’t going to make them like that.’
Of course Powe’s performance wasn’t driven by ego. He had no choice but to come up big for the Celtics to counter LeBron James and crew. The Celtics were already playing without forwards Kevin Garnett and Brian Scalabrine before Glen Davis was ejected for a Flagrant 2 Foul against Anderson Varejao.
‘There’s a lot of relying on me to go in there and try to hold the paint down and just get rebounds and just play defense and score when I got some opportunities,’ he said. ‘And I think I did that cause we’re missing a lot of people right now so I try to just do my best.’
Powe officially introduced himself to the world during Game of the 2008 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. Considering how well he plays when the spotlight is on, expect more encore performances.
|Celtics-Cavs Game Blog: Second Quarter||at 8:39 pm ET|
– The Garden kicked off the second quarter with a trivia contest for playoff tickets, hosted by Greg Dickerson. The contest pitted a Celtics and Cavs fan against one another. Despite being spoon-fed the correct answers, the Celtics fans still got the first question wrong. Needless to say he was booed.
– On the court: Celtics – Powe/Moore/Marbury/Pierce/House … Cavs – Gibson/Williams/Szczerbiak/Hickson/Smith
– It’ll be interesting to see how the Celtics bigs handle Joe Smith and J.J. Hickson. Smith has a mid-range jumper that can pull defenders out of the paint. The rookie Hickson was working on turn-around bank shots before the game.
– Mikki Moore had his first crowd-rousing moment at the Garden when he dunked through a handful of Cavs off of a Marbury pass.
– Rondo was welcomed back into the game with a standing ovation. The Cavs have most of their starters back in the game looking for an offensive spark. So far they have come up cold in the second quarter. The Celtics have all five starters in the game.
– LeBron’s posing after every shot like it’s a game winner. He’s shooting 2-for-7.
– Mo Williams has the Cavs back in this game with eight quick points. At the half … Cetlics 45, Cavs 43
|Scalabrine limited until April 1||at 8:09 pm ET|
Celtics forward Brian Scalabrine cannot participate in one-on-one drills until April 1, he said prior to Friday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the meantime he will do excercises that do not involve “bouncing,” including the stationary bike and stairclimber. Scalabrine, who was diagnosed with post concussion syndrome, has not suffered from blurred vision since Tuesday. (A plus considering he said he parked Eddie House’s car.) He has not played since February 19 against the Utah Jazz.
|Best of Delonte West||at 1:19 am ET|
LeBron James steals the spotlight on the Cleveland Cavaliers, but former Boston Celtic Delonte West doesn’t shy away from the camera either. Here is a look at some of West’s most memorable moments upon his return to Boston for Friday’s Celtics-Cavaliers game.
Celtics Promo: Childhood dreams and wire hangers
Dime Magazine Photo Shoot: Tattoos and a lifelong sense of style
And who can forget his ESPN Page 2 Valentine’s Day interview: Popeye’s, yachts, and “Rico Suave-ing it”
|Celtics net win against former team||03.04.09 at 11:24 pm ET|
The Boston Celtics face the New Jersey Nets four times every regular season. Some members of the Celtics, however, are more familiar with this opponent than others. On Wednesday night, Eddie House, Stephon Marbury, and Mikki Moore returned to their old stomping grounds. (RECAP HERE) Not only do these players have ties to the Nets, they also had ties to the Celtics while playing in New Jersey.
Stephon Marbury: 1999-2001
Average with Nets: 23.0 points, 8.1 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 43.7 percent from the field
- 1998-99: Traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he played with Kevin Garnett, to the Nets in part of a three-team deal that included former Celtic Sam Cassell. It only takes Marbury 31 games to establish himself as the Nets second-highest scorer that season.
- 1999-2000: Leads the Nets in scoring (22.2 ppg) and assists (8.4 apg). Ranks 10th in the NBA in assists. Teammates with former Celtic Sherman Douglas.
- 2000-2001: Marbury earns first All-Star appearance and represents the Eastern Conference with Ray Allen. Leads Nets in scoring (23.9 ppg) and assists (7.6 apg) once again.
March 4, 2009: Marbury is greeted at the IZOD Center with boos heard all the way back in Boston. He gives the Celtics a reliable ball handler off the bench, allowing the starters to take a breather, and finishes with four assists and two rebounds. Marbury commits only one turnover.
Mikki Moore: 2003-2004, 2006-2007
Average with Nets: 9.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 60.9 percent from the field (2007 season only)
- 2003-04: Moore signs with the Nets as a free agent in December of 2003. After appearing in just four games, he is waived the following month. Moore scores two points during this stint. During this time he is teammates with Celtics forward ‘ and current next door neighbor in the locker room ‘ Brian Scalabrine. That season the Nets went on to defeat Marbury and the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.
- 2006-07: Moore is traded back to the Nets by the Seattle SuperSonics (where he played with Ray Allen) in exchange for future draft pick. After bouncing around the league for almost ten years, Moore has a breakout season (9.8 ppgs, 5.1 rpg). He also leads the league in field goal percentage (60.9 percent from the field). Moore is teammates with Eddie House.
March 4, 2009: Despite leaving the Nets for a big money contract with the Sacramento Kings, Moore is still welcome in New Jersey. He looks comfortable on the court at the IZOD Center, scoring six points in 12 minutes. The seven-foot Moore also spreads the Nets defense with his mid-range jumper.
Eddie House: 2006-2007
Average with Nets: 8.4 points, 42.8 from the field
- 2006-07: Signs as a free agent with the Nets in August of 2006. House is teammates with recently acquired Celtic Mikki Moore. He leads the Nets in three-point shooting (42.9 percent), ahead of Jason Kidd and Vince Carter, and ranks 10th in the league that season. The Nets lose in the second round of the playoffs to former Celtic Scot Pollard and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
March 4, 2009: House had been playing well against the Nets so far this season, averaging 11.5 points and shooting 60 percent from the field heading into Wednesday’s game. With Rajon Rondo in early foul trouble, he is the first one off the bench for the Celtics. House scores 10 points in 16 minutes, including 3-for-6 shooting from long-range. He also adds two rebounds and two steals.
(Brian Scalabrine played with the New Jersey Nets from 2001-2005. However he did not play on March 4 and is out for at least a month after suffering his third concussion.)
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