|Game Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards||01.01.09 at 10:21 pm ET|
Last week the Boston Celtics headed out West on a 19-game winning streak and seemed unstoppable. On Friday night they will return to the TD BankNorth Garden looking surprisingly vulnerable after going 1-3 on their road trip. The Celtics (28-5) will look to snap out of their skid against the Washington Wizards (6-24). On paper this looks like a guaranteed win for the Cs, but after falling to the sub-.300 Golden State Warriors and Brandon Roy-less Portland Trail Blazers, suddenly no team can be counted out.
The Skid in Review
The Christmas Day loss to the Los Angeles Lakers was, just like any other loss, tough for the Celtics to swallow. But more worrisome than falling to a title contender was losing to the then 8-22 Warriors. Follow that up with an unexpected defeat to the shorthanded Trail Blazers, and their 45-point rout over the Sacramento Kings meant nothing. The trio of quick losses has put the Cleveland Cavaliers just one-game back for first in the East and the Orlando Magic are right on their heels.
Wizards Looking for Some Magic
The last time the Celtics and Wizards met up, the Cs handed their injury-ridden opponents a 122-88 loss. The Wizards have looked tougher in the past week ‘ they upset the Houston Rockets without Caron Butler, nearly knocked off the Cavs, and hung close against the New Orleans Hornets. Even though Butler (ankle) is expected to be back in the lineup on Friday, his 19 points were useless in their last meeting.
Do the Wizards have enough momentum to shock the Cs in Boston? Don’t count on it. The Celtics may have been rattled but that’s even more motivation to come out swinging on their home court. They avenged two consecutive losses with a beat down on the Sacramento Kings and the Wiz shouldn’t expect any less fire.
Tip-off is at 7:30pm. Stay with WEEI.com’s Celtics Game Day Blog for all the latest from the Garden.
|Sounds of the game… Celtics 110, 76ers 91||12.24.08 at 6:52 am ET|
The Celtics threw a Christmas party for family and friends in their locker room following their 110-91 win over the 76ers Tuesday night at TD Banknorth Garden. They certainly had plenty to celebrate. In addition to the festive time of season, the Celtics family and friends cheered the fact that they are now owners of the longest winning streak in team history at 19 games. They also raised a toast to the team’s 27-2 start, the best 29-game opening to a season in NBA history. Up next, an NBA Finals rematch with the Lakers in Los Angeles on Christmas Day. To get there, they took a red-eye cross-country flight but before that, they took time to reflct on the record and look ahead to what should be a classic game on Christmas at Staples Center.
And be sure to read and hear what Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala said about the Celtics, their streak, trash-talking and a certain reference to a perfect regular season in the NFL that didn’t end in a title.
|O’Bryant Spreads Holiday Cheer||12.23.08 at 11:29 pm ET|
This week Boston Celtics big man Patrick O’Bryant spread holiday cheer to a deserving local family. He was inspired by his community outreach during Thanksgiving and requested to be paired up with a family from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC).
“We went bowling, played pool and ping pong, and had food,” O’Bryant said. “Then I came to them at the end and said, ‘Oh yeah, I have one more surprise for you.’ There was a big tree in the back.”
O’Bryant, 22, purchased over 100 gifts, including clothes, Nintendo DS systems, and gift cards to Walmart and IKEA. Bergeson individually wrapped each present, something O’Bryant thought was important for every child.
“That’s the point,” he said. “You get to wake up in the morning and see all the gifts and you get to have the fun of ripping everything off and destroying the paper.”
What was the best part of the day?
“It wasn’t even what they said. It was just seeing their smiles and how exuberant they were. One of the girls was almost screaming when she opened her gifts,” O’Bryant said. “We’ve been blessed with so much and not everybody gets to go through this. I figured if I was blessed with this I could help someone out and bless them with at least gifts for Christmas.”
|Sure they’re great but…||at 8:57 pm ET|
Call it sour grapes, call it frustration or just simple truth but Philadelphia 76ers star Andre Iguodala is of the belief that the Celtics talk too much on the court. Following Boston’s 110-91 beat down of the Sixers on Tuesday night for their new franchise-best 19th straight win and an NBA best-ever 27-2 start, the OTHER ‘AI’ had this to say about the Green and what they say on the court and if they Celtics are peaking too soon.
“I think teams would hope that but 27-2, you can’t knock that. It is what it is,” he began. “They’re playing good ball, no matter if they’re peaking or not. They just won the title and I’m sure they want to play to perfection and just try to keep it going the whole way. Similar to the Patriots, they were undefeated and they lost in the (Super Bowl). I’m sure they’re aware of that and want to keep it going the whole year.
“Everybody knows they won a championship and everybody knows they are a great team,” he continued. “They’ve got great players in Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, those guys go out there and play hard. But they try to go overboard with it sometimes. I think it takes away from actually how good a team they are, it takes away from the respect factor. Teams don’t respect them as much because of that.”
As for other teams in the NBA and whether they’re intimidated by the Celtics.
“I think they’re a good team but I don’t think they have that intimidation factor like the Detroit teams had those years when they were going to the Finals every year,” Iguodala said. “I think people respect them in as far as they’re a good team and they play great defensively but they have a lot of trash talkers out there so that kind of takes away from them sometimes.
“As a basketball group, they do a great job of executing and do a good job of sticking to their game plan.”
The two teams meet again on Feb. 3 in Philly.
|Sounds of the Game… Celtics 126, Bulls 108||12.20.08 at 10:32 am ET|
What makes a great team is when it can constantly find way to get better even when things are already going so well. Doc Rivers and staff worked with center Kendrick Perkins to work on setting better screens and picks, convincing him that this would lead to better seals under the basket and eventually more scoring opportunities for him. The result? Perk scored a career high 25 points on Friday night, second only to Ray Allen’s 27 as the C’s (yawn-yawn) dispatched of the Chicago Bulls 126-108 at TD Banknorth Garden. Now, the Celtics can match the team’s all-time winning streak mark of 18 on Sunday night against Quentin Richardson and the Knicks at home. If victorious against New York, the chance to break it comes on Tuesday against another arch-rival, the Philadelphia 76ers.
|73 or 34 in a row||12.19.08 at 7:42 pm ET|
Chicago, one of the most important bands of the 70s once wondered, 25 or 6 to 4. Sitting here at TD Banknorth Garden watching Chicago’s NBA entry offer precious little resistance to the Celtics, your intrepid reporter was inspired to re-work the question.
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This reporter is on record maintaining that as the Celtics are currently constituted, they will win 73 and set the new record. As for 34 straight, with a West Coast swing on the docket starting Christmas Day, that might be too much, even for these Celtics.
One other random question… With Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, in attendance at the Garden taking in the game, who is in better shape, Bolt or Ray Allen? When the two shook hands just prior to the fourth quarter at the scorer’s table, it marked a meeting of two supremely conditioned athletes.
Then, following the game, Bolt entered the locker room for a personal chat with the team and coaching staff. There was this question posed… Who would win a race, Bolt or Rajon Rondo?
|Sounds of the Game… Celtics 100, Jazz 91||12.16.08 at 8:39 am ET|
The Green Machine rolled to their 15th straight win thanks to another All-Star-worthy performance from point guard Rajon Rondo. He poured in a career-high 25 points and was just a rebound and two assists shy of another triple-double. He also had the move of the night late in the fourth quarter when he drove to the basket, got turned around and threw threw the ball over his head. The ball banked off the glass and came down, sending the sellout crowd into a frenzy and sealing Boston’s 23rd win in 25 tries. The Celtics matched the NBA’s all-time best 25-game start. All three previous teams to start 23-2 have won the NBA championship. The last time the Celtics won 15 straight was during their franchise-record 18-game run in the 1981-82 season. Next up, the Atlanta Hawks on the road Wednesday night at Philips Arena.
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