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Backcourt steps up 02.22.09 at 6:57 pm ET
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Shaquille O’Neal was supposed to be a problem for the Boston Celtics. He was supposed to push around their little big men and have the Celtics counting down the days until Kevin Garnett returned from his knee injury. But it was one of the smallest guys on the court who caused the biggest problems. Led by Rajon Rondo, the Celtics backcourt dominated the Phoenix Suns. (RECAP HERE)

Rajon Rondo
32 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 13-18 FG, 1-1 3PG, 5-9 FT, 3 STL

On his 23rd birthday, Rondo made 35-year-old Steve Nash look about ten years older. The Suns had no way of stopping Rondo, not even O’Neal’s presence made a difference — Rondo scored however and from wherever he pleased. The absence of Garnett creates more opportunities for him to take his jumpshot, and judging by his shot chart, there is little need to question whether or not he has developed one.

Ray Allen
31 points, 4 rebounds, 10-15 FG, 4-8 3PG, 7-8 FT

It’s no secret that Allen can’t be left alone on the arc. On Sunday he couldn’t be left alone, period. Allen spread the Suns defense with a balanced attack of long and mid-range shots. Allen was on his mark, hitting 10 field goals and scoring 30 points for the first time since January 11 against the Toronto Raptors. He also set a new franchise record with 72 consecutive free throws made, passing Larry Bird’s previous mark of 71.

Paul Pierce
26 points, 6 rebounds, 8-17 FG, 10-10 FT

The Celtics couldn’t score 128 points without Pierce making an impact. Pierce struggled in the first half (1-8 FG), so when his shot didn’t fall he got to the line (6-6 FT). Then he turned it on in the second half to score 18 points in 22 minutes. The captain played a team-high 44 minutes and by the end of the game had gone to the line 10 times. The Celtics improved to 12-3 when Pierce attempts at least 10 free throws.

The Celtics will travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets on Monday night.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Phoenix Suns
Report: KG out 2-3 weeks 02.21.09 at 1:48 am ET
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According to Marc Spears of the Boston Globe, Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge has said Kevin Garnett will miss 2-3 weeks with a posterior muscle strain of the right knee. Garnett left the court hobbling during Thursday’s loss to the Utah Jazz. Ainge told the Globe, “Rest and ice for KG.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Kevin Garnett, Utah Jazz
O’Bryant wasn’t ready 02.20.09 at 3:12 pm ET
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It turns out Patrick O’Bryant wasn’t ready to play. Not for the Boston Celtics, at least.

‘€œI feel like I’m pretty ready,’€ he said prior to the All-Star Break. ‘€œI never feel like I’m not ready, I don’t want to get down on myself. But I feel like I’m ready. In Doc’s eyes I might not be, so I’ve just got to take his advice and keep pushing forward.’€

The Celtics echoed head coach Doc Rivers‘ opinion when they traded O’Bryant to the Toronto Raptors on Thursday as part of a three-team deal with the Sacramento Kings.

In spite of being a big man on a team in need of length, O’Bryant averaged just 4.2 minutes in 26 games this season (less playing time than everyone on the Celtics except for Sam Cassell and J.R. Giddens). Last summer an informed source questioned if O’Bryant would be able to shake his two-guard mentality in a seven-foot frame. His defensive abilities continued to be a cause for concern.

‘€œHe’s been stressing Celtics D,’€ O’Bryant said of Rivers. ‘€œIt’s different than any other team’s expectations. They’re a championship team and you’ve got to be able to play at a championship level.’€

O’Bryant was looking forward to growing as a shot blocker and rebounder in the second half of the season. He was eager to back up Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins off the bench. Now he can try to do the same for Chris Bosh.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chris Bosh, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett
Stoudemire out against Celtics at 1:14 pm ET
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When the Boston Celtics face the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, Kevin Garnett will not be the only big man out of the game. Suns power forward Amar’e Stoudemire underwent successful eye surgery today and could miss eight weeks, according to multiple reports. Stoudemire suffered a partially detached retina in Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. ESPN has reported Garnett will return to Boston today for an MRI after straining his right knee during Thursday’s loss to the Utah Jazz.

Read More: Amare Stoudemire, Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Phoenix Suns
Celtics-Jazz instant analysis at 1:48 am ET
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The Celtics lost a game to the Jazz in the early morning hours. (For a full recap of the 90-85 defeat in Utah, CLICK HERE.) They lost because they couldn’t figure out a way to score down the stretch and they couldn’t get a key rebound after dominating the boards for most of the night. Most of all they lost because Kevin Garnett was not on the floor.

Garnett came down awkwardly late in the first half favoring his right knee. Danny Ainge said on the TNT broadcast that it had been bothering him for the last few weeks. Garnett tried to warm up for the second half and apparently wanted to play, but Doc Rivers shut him down.

The team is calling it a “sprained right knee,” and there wasn’t much information available beyond that. Considering the circumstances, considering the opponent and the location, and considering the foul trouble that plagued just about everybody, it’s not surprising that the Celtics started the post All-Star break stretch with a loss.

But as they have shown on several occasions, the Celtics can weather storms like this. They went 9-2 last year without Garnett, and if not for a play or two here or there could have won last night. In the short run the Celtics can handle his absence. But, if Garnett’s injury is more than just a strain, or if it lingers throughout the rest of the season and into the playoffs that’s another matter entirely

The obvious question is what is Ainge going to do with his two open roster spots? The absolute home run of home runs would be Joe Smith, who has apparently expressed an interest in being bought out and coming to Boston now that the trade to New Orleans fell though. (Quick digression: Oklahoma City will rue the day it held up the trade because of concern over Tyson Chandler’s toe. Maybe this is karma for the whole Seattle thing.)

The other name floating in the internet ether is Mikki Moore, an active big man who parlayed one above-average season with the Nets into a big payday from Sacramento. As is usually the case in such situations, it didn’t work out and Moore was released. Moore is younger, more athletic and more defensive-minded than Smith but he doesn’t possess anywhere near the offensive ability or experience that Smith could provide.

Expect Cleveland, which has more of the mid-level exception to bargain with than the Celtics, to make a play in either direction, if only to provide deterrence.

If the Celtics can get one of those two big men, which way do they go with the other spot? Another point guard? A swing man to replace Tony Allen? Another big man if the injury to Garnett is serious? Tough questions for Ainge to answer between now and March 1. But for now the biggest question is Garnett and the status of his knee.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz,
Smith deal called off 02.18.09 at 11:57 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, big man Joe Smith is heading back to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Smith has been mentioned as a possible addition for the Boston Celtics front court. On Tuesday he was traded to the New Orleans Hornets as part of a deal for Tyson Chandler. However Chandler, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury, did not pass the Thunder’s physical. This means the 6-10, 225 pound  Smith could be back on the market. Even though the Celtics are not expected to make any major moves, they do have a roster spot made available by the Sam Cassell trade. The NBA trade deadline is Thursday.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Joe Smith, New Orleans Hornets, Oklahoma City Thunder
PP2 and his PS3 at 10:26 pm ET
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During All-Star Weekend Paul Pierce and a handful of NBA players, including LeBron James, received personalized, laser-etched PS3 consoles. On the Sony PlayStation Blog, Pierce shows off his green President Obama console. New York Knick Al Harrington and Philadelphia 76er Thaddeus Young were also given Obama-inspired systems. As for James, his console was fit for a king.  Click here for more photos of the athletes and their personalized gaming gear from Gizmodo.

Read More: Al Harrington, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers,
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