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Fast Break: Celtics win ugly entering All-Star break 02.13.13 at 10:00 pm ET
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Thanks to another all-out effort by the few healthy players left on the roster, the Celtics outlasted the visiting Bulls 71-69 to win ugly, earning their eighth victory in nine tries since the first of the injury dominoes fell two weeks ago.

The Celtics (28-24) equaled their highest point above .500 as four C’s reached double digits, led remarkably by Brandon Bass (14 points, 9 rebounds). Kevin Garnett (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Paul Pierce (8-6-6) scored the C’s final nine points as they held off a Chicago charge to close the final quarter.

The Celtics’ 19 combined points in the second and third quarters marked the team’s lowest point total in consecutive quarters of a game during the shot clock era, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Likewise, their 71 total points was the third-lowest point total in a C’s victory since the inception of the shot clock.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Defense: The Celtics held the Bulls to 15 points in the first quarter and 13 in the third. Chicago’s five starters — Luol Deng (4-10 FG), Carlos Boozer (5-14 FG), Joakim Noah (3-8 FG), Richard Hamilton (1-6 FG) and Nate Robinson (2-7) — shot a combined 33.3 percent. It’s a good thing, because the C’s actually shot worse until …

Heart beats: As they’ve done since the injuries to Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa, the Celtics never quit. Playing their third game in four nights, shooting miserably and trailing by as many as seven in the first few minutes of the final quarter, the C’s found life. Capped by back-to-back buckets from Jason Terry (12 points) and Jeff Green (8 points) off the bench — both assisted by Garnett — the Celtics put together a 12-0 run, holding the Bulls scoreless for a stretch of 5:44 midway through the fourth quarter and capturing a 59-54 lead.

Bass finishing: In desperate need of offensive help, the Celtics found an unlikely hero. Beginning to emerge from a season-long funk, Bass scored his highest total (14) since Nov. 28. He also grabbed more rebounds (9) than he has since Nov. 25. Bass and Garnett combined for 26 points and 20 rebounds, forming a formidable frontcourt that limited a sizable advantage by the bigger Bulls, who got 27 rebounds from Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer.

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Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green lead C’s in revenge win over DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings 01.30.13 at 9:50 pm ET
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Brandon Bass, Jeff Green and Jason Terry each scored 12 points off the bench as the Celtics beat the Kings, 99-81, Wednesday night at TD Garden. The Celtics, who won their second straight after six straight losses, gained revenge for a humbling 118-96 loss in Sacramento on Dec. 30, a game in which 22-year-old DeMarcus Cousins registered a triple-double. Boston was able to contain Cousins Wednesday, holding him to 13 points and six rebounds.

Paul Pierce came on in the second half to lead the Celtics with 16 points and 10 rebounds while Kevin Garnett added 13 points and nine rebounds. Boston’s bench outscored Sacramento’s reserves, 50-26.

The Celtics raced out to an 8-0 lead to start the game as Garnett was red-hot early. The Celtics lost their starting power forward Jared Sullinger to back spasms just four minutes into the game. He received ice treatment in the locker room but could not return and was ruled out late in the second quarter.

The Kings recovered quickly and outscored the Celtics 24-14 to end the period as the visitors led, 24-22, after 12 minutes.

The Celtics couldn’t miss in the second quarter. They made a season-best 16-of-20 shots from the field, scorching the Kings with 80 percent shooting and outscoring the Kings, 37-14, in the period to take a commanding 59-38 halftime lead. The Celtics hit their first 14 shots of the quarter.

Green and Garnett were a combined 10-for-10 from the field in the first half, combining for 21 of Boston’s 59 points. The Celtics were able to do most of their damage without Paul Pierce, who was held scoreless until his layup and subsequent three-point play with 2:55 left in the first half.

Looking to avoid a meltdown like the one that cost them a 27-point lead last Friday in Atlanta, the Celtics actually expanded their lead to 28, 74-46, midway through the third.

But the Kings did make a run at the Celtics early in the fourth, cutting Boston’s lead down to 15, 82-67, on a flagrant-1 foul by Leandro Barbosa on Tyreke Evans. But the Celtics managed to stop the bleeding there and Pierce came down and responded with a basket to restore the lead to 17.

The Kings cut the lead back down to 14, 90-76, and had a rebound with a chance to narrow it more but committed a turnover in transition. But the Celtics looked awful in the next possession as Pierce held onto the ball near mid-court for a 24-second violation. The Kings would not get closer than 14 down the stretch.

The Celtics are off Thursday before returning to action on Friday against the Magic at TD Garden. The Celtics conclude their four-game homestand with a game against the Clippers on Sunday at 1 p.m. For complete coverage from the Garden from the team of Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Jason Terry
Jared Sullinger done for the night with back spasms at 8:32 pm ET
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On the night he was snubbed by the NBA for a spot on the “Rising Stars” Challenge, Jared Sullinger suffered a more painful blow during the game with the Kings as he was sidelined with back spasms.

Sullinger started and played just four minutes before being subbed out as his back tightened up on him. The Celtics initially reported that the big man went to the locker room and received ice treatment and was “likely” to return.

But midway through the second quarter, Sullinger was ruled out for the rest of the game. The injury immediately set off alarms as it was a bad back at Ohio State that allowed Sullinger to drop to 21st in the NBA draft last June, a fact not lost on head coach Doc Rivers after the game.

“I think it was bothering him in the draft,” Rivers said, referring to the issues he had at Ohio State that caused him to miss significant time in his senior season. “So, I just think, honestly, I know (trainer) Eddie (Ed Lacerte) said something a week or two ago that it’€™s been bothering him, and I think this will be what will happen. He’€™ll have these episodes and we’€™ve got to get him through it. Hopefully, he doesn’€™t miss games with them, but if he does, he does. And then get it right and come back. But I’€™m not sure if it was before the game or not.”

Asked before the game where he thinks Sullinger would be drafted right now, knowing what he’s accomplished in the NBA, Rivers didn’t hesitate, “top five.”

Sullinger made his second straight start since being promoted from the bench. He grabbed just one rebound before being sidelined. Brandon Bass took his place.

For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: back spasms, Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger
Doc Rivers wants to give Brandon Bass a little confidence while staying ‘as big as possible’ 01.04.13 at 9:14 pm ET
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Celtics head coach Doc Rivers announced before Friday’s game with the Pacers that he was inserting forward Brandon Bass back in the starting lineup, taking the place of Jason Collins.

“We want to stay as big as possible, what we didn’€™t like with Jason in the [starting] lineup was — now we’€™re going to play him every night — and when he and Kevin were off the floor, we got small quickly,” Rivers explained. “This way we can keep a big on the floor at all times.

“We could have done it the other night, but that was Avery’€™s first night. That is the group that helped us. But having Jason [play every night] will help Kevin, because he still won’t have to play ‘5’ the entire time. I just think the season’€™s too long now for Kevin to do that.”

The Celtics are also hoping the move will motivate Bass, who is averaging just 8.1 points and 5.3 rebounds a game.

“That’€™s what we’€™re hoping,” Rivers added. “You don’€™t do it just for the group, you do it for the individual at times,” said Rivers. “Brandon’€™s played better when he’€™s playing with Kevin, though everyone has for that matter. I think clearly Brandon has. And that’€™s one of the reasons we are doing it.”

The lineup of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Bass, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce marks the ninth different lineup Rivers has used in the first 32 games of the season. That lineup debuted on March 25, 2012 after Mickael Pietrus suffered a concussion in Philadelphia and two games after Ray Allen was sent to the bench. With that lineup, the Celtics went 11-3 down the stretch to help the Celtics win the Atlantic Division title for a fifth straight season.

Collins had started the previous seven games for the Celtics since being inserted in the lineup for Bass on Dec. 21 against the Cavaliers to take the load off Kevin Garnett in the low post.

Bass has strugged in his role off the bench, both offensively and defensively, and Rivers made the decision Friday to boost Bass’ game by putting him on the floor more with Garnett.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Jason Collins, Kevin Garnett
Irish Coffee: How Celtics perform in clutch situations 12.10.12 at 5:10 pm ET
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After Rajon Rondo missed not one, but both game-winning opportunities in a 95-94 Celtics loss to the 76ers over the weekend — a failed 19-footer to end regulation and the infamous slippery 16-footer as overtime ran out — I got to wondering how the C’s are performing in clutch situations (either team within five points with five minutes remaining in regulation and overtime), since half of their 20 games have been decided by six points or less.

The C’s are 6-4 in those 10 games despite shooting 37.4 percent as a team in a whopping 60.2 clutch minutes, including three overtime games. They’ve had four potential game-winning shots at the buzzer — all misses on long jumpers — and Rondo has taken three of them. Paul Pierce attempted the fourth (from the elbow, of course).

Before we started reading into who’s doing what in the clutch, here are the numbers (Leandro Barbosa, Chris Wilcox and Jared Sullinger have all played sparingly in crunch time, but not a large enough sample size). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry
Doc Rivers tells Kevin Garnett to remind the team: ‘Hey, I’m here’ on offense 11.28.12 at 9:37 am ET
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WALTHAM — Sometimes on a team with so many options, it helps to remind your teammates what you can do for them.

That’s what Doc Rivers wants Kevin Garnett to do more often.

Recently, the Celtics head coach told his superstar big man that he needs to remind his teammates that he can still score in the post. As a matter of fact, the numbers would indicate he’s the number one offensive option, even ahead of Paul Pierce.

The 36-year-old Garnett had 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the floor in a season-high 36 minutes in Sunday’s overtime win in Orlando. He also had 10 rebounds. Garnett is shooting 51.5 percent from the floor, second only to Rajon Rondo (51.7). He is the leading rebounder by far at 7.4 per game.

Rivers will usually talk to the team about making sure they look at Garnett in the low post because he can create his offense from so many places and he’s still one of the best passers among bigs in the NBA. But Rivers told Garnett that the coach can’t always be the one to do the talking.

“He has to remind them, too. I tell him that. I tell him that in front of the team. It’s both of us. I’ll tell him that you have to say, ‘Hey, I’m here.’ It goes both ways.”

Brandon Bass knows that when Garnett gets it going, it helps out others in the post, like him.

“I just think it’s important for us every night to get Kevin going early and when do that, we actually play better and [usually] win,” Bass said. “We have so many guys and so many options that sometimes we might lose sight but we can’t because he’s so important to the team.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Irish Coffee: Celtics no longer closing by committee? 11.13.12 at 12:17 pm ET
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As much as Celtics coach Doc Rivers says, “It doesn’t matter who starts; it matters who finishes,” he may never convince his players and their egos, but his actions speak just as clearly as his words. While the starting shooting guard and power forward turnstile continues twirling, Rivers plays matchups and hot hands down the stretch.

The C’s have played five straight games decided by six points or less, and the closing five has been as inconsistent as the team’s overall performance. Just as Courtney Lee vs. Jason Terry and Brandon Bass vs. Jared Sullinger battle for starting roles, Rivers has used just about every combination imaginable of those four plus Leandro Barbosa and Jeff Green at the 2 and 4 spots in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter of those games plus the five-minute overtime period against the Wizards. Here’s the minutes breakdown.

FINAL 5 MINUTES OF 4TH QUARTER (AND OVERTIME)
Celtics 89, Wizards 86: Terry 3:09; Lee 2:03 | Sullinger 3:25; Green 0:54; Bass 0:48
Celtics 100, Wizards 94 (OT): Terry 5:00 | Bass 4:51; Green 0:09 (OT: Terry 5:00; Bass 5:00)
76ers 106, Celtics 100: Terry 5:00 | Barbosa 2:58, Green 2:02
Celtics 96, Bucks 92: Lee 4:40; Terry 0:22 | Bass 3:12; Green 1:23; Sullinger 0:01
Celtics 101, Bulls 95: Terry 5:00 | Bass 5:00
TOTAL (OUT OF 30 MINUTES): Terry 18:31; Lee 6:43; Barbosa 2:58 | Bass 14:03; Green 4:28; Sullinger 3:26

If you need more proof Rivers is willing to try anything, look at the lineups that finished the Sixers game alongside Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. He played Terry for the entirety of the final five minutes and split the fifth spot between Barbosa and Green. But it’s becoming clearer who he trusts more.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger
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