|Luck of the Irish runs out||03.17.09 at 11:29 pm ET|
The Luck of the Irish had been on the Boston Celtics side on St. Patrick’s Day. On Tuesday night, it ran out in Chicago (RECAP HERE). In spite of this loss, the Celtics have enjoyed success on March 17 over the last 10 years:
2009: Chicago Bulls 127, Boston Celtics 121
Already undermanned, the Celtics lost Leon Powe (knee) in the first half. Paul Pierce tried to keep the Celtics alive with 37 points and seven rebounds, while Rajon Rondo posted 26 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds. The Celtics, however, could not overcome injuries and foul trouble. They fell 4.5 games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Look ahead: The Celtics will take on the Miami Heat on Wednesday night in Boston.
2008: Boston Celtics 93, San Antonio Spurs 91
The Celtics overcame a 22-point deficit to top the Spurs and jumpstart their sweep of the Texas Triangle. Sam Cassell stepped up his game in place of Ray Allen (ankle) to contribute 17 points off the bench. Despite a scoreless evening from Kendrick Perkins, the Celtics starters outscored the Spurs starting five 67-39.
Flashback: A day later, the Celtics snapped the Houston Rockets 22-game winning streak.
2007: Boston Celtics 91, San Antonio Spurs 85
In the midst of a dismal season, the Celtics won in San Antonio for the first time in 17 years. And this wasn’t the Big Three version of the Celtics. Paul Pierce (30 points) got help from Delonte West (23 points) and Al Jefferson (20 points) while Rajon Rondo added 14 rebounds. It was just the Celtics 20th win of the season.
Flashback: The Celtics had not won in San Antonio since February 14, 1990.
2006: Orlando Magic 84, Boston Celtics 77
The Celtics blew a fourth quarter lead and gave up 18 points and 13 rebounds to a then-20-year-old Dwight Howard. The Cs went cold in the final 12 minutes, shooting 3-for-23, and no one on the team made more than five field goals. They also had six shots blocked by Darko Milicic.
Flashback: Raef LaFrentz was the Celtics starting center.
2004: Boston Celtics 104, Denver Nuggets 100
Paul Pierce, Chucky Atkins, and Mark Blount combined for 68 points, 27 rebounds, and 16 assists while Walter McCarty added 17 points off the bench. Then-rookie Carmelo Anthony posted 20 points, nine rebounds, and six assists in his Boston debut. But the Celtics got hot from long-range (10-16 3PG) and a jumper from Pierce iced the win with less than 30 seconds to go.
Flashback: John Carroll was the interim head coach.
2000: Boston Celtics 114, Atlanta Hawks 90
Antoine Walker scored 30 points to lead the Celtics to a 24-point victory. Paul Pierce and Vitaly Potapenko scored 16 points apiece. Pierce picked five steals from Dikembe Mutombo and the Hawks.
Flashback: Less than 12,000 people attended this game in Atlanta.
1999: Boston Celtics 118, Los Angeles Clippers 84
The Celtics outshot the Clippers 57% to 37% from the field in their commanding win. Kenny Anderson led the Celtics with 21 points. Then-rookie Paul Pierce scored 12. The Celtics outrebonded the Clippers by 19 boards.
Flashback: Future Celtic Michael Olowokandi posted 17 points and eight rebounds for the Clippers.
|Game Preview: Are the Bulls ready?||03.16.09 at 11:59 pm ET|
At this point in the season, every game is critical for the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls. A win on Tuesday in Chicago would inch the Celtics closer to first place in the Eastern Conference. A victory for the Bulls could put them back in the eighth seed. Both teams are hungry for the postseason. The question is, would be Bulls be ready if they made it to the playoffs?
‘Right now, no,’ said Kirk Hinrich. ‘We’ve definitely had our moments, but we need to play much more consistently and bring it every night. At times we’ve taken nights off and it’s kind of hurt us, so we have to make everything count from here on out.’
The Bulls (30-37) lost their footing in the East when the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Celtics (50-17) on Sunday to reclaim possession of the final spot. After getting blown out by the Orlando Magic last week, the Bulls must face both the Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers in the next five days.
‘[We have to] play defense and be aggressive throughout the whole game,’ said Derrick Rose. ‘[Those teams are] real consistent in everything they do ‘ defense and offense. We’ve just got to stay a little more consistent and play hard.’
The Celtics have beat the Bulls by an average of 17 points in their first two meetings of the season. In their first game, the Celtics held the Bulls to less than 30% from the field. In their second game, Rajon Rondo dished 15 of the Celtics’ 40 assists. Both games were lessons for the Bulls to learn from.
‘I think every night we have to come in with a certain urgency,’ said Hinrich. ‘Consistently, we just need to start playing better basketball for longer stretches of time and we have to hang on. It’s going to be a tight race. People are jockeying for position and we definitely want to be in there.’
An eighth seed in the playoffs would mean a match up with a team like the Celtics, Cavaliers, or Magic, who are currently vying for the top spot in the East. Veteran point guard Lindsey Hunter faced the Celtics in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals as a member of the Detroit Pistons. He understands firsthand the level of competition the Bulls would be up against.
‘I think the first thing that stands out with Boston and with Cleveland is clear cut ‘ their identity is defense,’ he said. ‘They totally take away what you like to do and they make you go to your second, third option. And teams that can do that on a consistent basis are teams that are tough, because that’s tough to do.
‘You have to really be on the same page and really be to the point where guys trust each other no matter what. And when I watch those guys play, I see it. Defensively, I see the rotations that guys aren’t second guessing. And if there is a missed rotation, then guys are talking to each other and communicating. And I’ve been on teams like that so I know what that’s like, and it takes a lot of growth to get there. It takes a lot of growth. And with a young team like ours, I definitely think we can. It just takes some time.’
The Bulls admit they will have work to do if they advance to the playoffs — ‘We’ve still got some kinks,’ said Rose. But with 15 games left to go in the regular season, they are staying optimistic about clinching a postseason berth.
‘Our goal is getting the playoffs,’ Hinrich said. ‘I don’t think anyone is thinking about next year right now. We’re focused on the task at hand and just trying to get into the playoffs and see what happens.’
|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.
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