|Fast break: A quick take on Celtics-Cavs||10.27.09 at 10:20 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — More than anything Tuesday night, the Celtics showed they can take the best an opponent has to offer and respond strong.
Not just any opponent on any court. The Celtics beat the Cavaliers, 95-89, on the home floor of one of the teams that’s expected to challenge Boston for Eastern Conference supremacy.
‘¢ Player of the game: Paul Pierce. His jumper in the final minute cemented a 23-point virtuoso performance for the captain and Boston’s first win of the season. He added 11 rebounds for good measure. Runner up: Rajon Rondo ‘ On a night when Danny Ainge said he continues to talk with Rondo’s agent on a new deal, Rondo set the tempo. With chaos swirling around the team in the wake of the Glen Davis debacle and a double-digit deficit early, Rondo restored order on the court.
‘¢ Turning point of the game: LeBron James gave the Celtics a gift when a Boston turnover with 4.7 seconds left in the third put the ball in his hands. He drove past Rasheed Wallace and had an easy lay-up, but the ball rimmed out and that seemed to give the Celtics a big reprieve. It also kept the crowd from exploding. Runner-up ‘ With 5:32 to go in the fourth. James hit one of two free throws to cut the C’s lead to four, 80-76, but Kendrick Perkins converts a three-point play to answer.
‘¢ The Celtics fell behind early by 14 twice, 19-5 and 21-7, but they closed the gap to 28-21 after one. Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels and Shelden Williams, filling in for Glen Davis, all played significant minutes in the first quarter as the Celtics found their legs.
‘¢ The Celtics turned up the defensive pressure in the second quarter. The team preached in the preseason that they will go only as far as their defense takes them, and it showed in the second, where they went from a seven-point deficit to a six-point lead, 51-45. They held the Cavs to 5-of-16 shooting from the floor. More impressive than the 31 percent they held the Cavs to from the field was the fact that Cleveland could only manage five field goals on their home court.
‘¢ Thanks in large part to the above, the C’s completely took the raucous Q crowd out of the game until a LeBron James three with two minutes remaining in the third.
‘¢ Bench belief. With the Celtics holding onto a seven-point lead heading into the fourth, the Celtics took the court with Wallace, Daniels, Eddie House and Shelden Williams. Those four joined Ray Allen as Doc Rivers was able to rest his big guns. Wallace hit a big jumper from the right wing to extend the lead to nine with 11:25 remaining. Daniels drilled a three moments later and the lead was an even 10.
‘¢ The Celtics took advantage of Cavalier play. Twice in the final two minutes, the Cavaliers turned the ball over and twice they forced up quick three-pointers trailing by just six when a two-pointer would have been the better play. Isn’t this why they got Shaq?
‘¢ James got his. LeBron finished with 38 points and eight assists but just four rebounds.
|Turn up the volume: C’s not living in past||10.23.09 at 5:25 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Before this season ever starts, nearly everyone in a Celtics uniform wants to make one thing clear. This is NOT 2008.
On Friday, the Celtics held a two-hour practice before going home to get clean and ready for their team dinner Friday night in Boston.
Here’s what a number of them had to say about this year, comparisons to two seasons ago and other miscellaneous items.
|Doc: ‘We’re ready’||at 3:26 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers put his team through a spirited workout on Friday afternoon at the team’s practice facility, four days before the team opens the season on Tuesday in Cleveland against LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Rivers said following the practice that he senses his team is geared up and ready.
“I like where we’re at,” Rivers said. “I’m very happy where we’re at. We’re going to add things all year. We’re ready to play. Even if I didn’t add anything else all year, I think we’re ready to play an NBA game.”
|Sounds of the game… Celtics 105, Cavaliers 94||03.07.09 at 12:30 am ET|
No, it wasn’t Rocky or even Hoosiers. It was a film of the Celtics scoring basket after basket with their big men executing great interior passes. The result – the undermanned Celtics outscored the Cleveland Cavaliers 58-22 in the paint and rolled to a stunning 11-point win, 105-94, over the Eastern Conference leaders.
The Celtics didn’t have Kevin Garnett but they did have Leon Powe. The Celtics didn’t have Brian Scalabrine but they did have Glen Davis, at least for 17 minutes before he was ejected for a flagrant Type 2 foul with 9:09 remaining in the third quarter.
But Doc Rivers, who said at the shootaround in the morning that this would be a phenomenal win, had one of his best games of the season as head coach of the defending NBA champions. Just ask Mike Brown, his counterpart on the Cleveland bench.
|‘We see them as a real threat’…||03.06.09 at 1:22 pm ET|
As the Celtics shot around at their training facility in Waltham, everyone wanted to know what the Celtics needed to do to beat King James and the Cavaliers without last season’s defensive player of the year and the team’s heart and emotional soul in a suit for at least another week.
“He ran yesterday, he told me, on the treadmill, which I’m sure was supervised,” Rivers said. “And he said he felt great so he’s feeling a lot better. That’s the first day he’s been able to run so we’ll take it day-to-day from that point on.”
“It’s the whole knee thing. We’re just going to take our time. I would say at least a week out and most likely, longer.”
As for tonight’s battle to end all battles, at least for the next 24 hours, Rivers, possibly looking back on last year’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semis, pointed out what it really means, especially if they could pull it off without Garnett, Brian Scalabrine and Tony Allen.
“It’s a big game,” Rivers said. “Obviously, home court is at stake here. And it would be a great win for us, to beat them at their full strength and us not having Kevin, Scal and Tony, I think it would be a phenomenal win for us. We’ll be ready.”
The Celtics have allowed their last two opponents to score over 100 points while a third, Indiana scored 99 last Friday.
“We want to win, really, and we have to find a way to do that,” Rivers said. “We’ve got to improve defensively. Over the last couple of games, we have not played our defense, especially transition-wise. And if we don’t get back tonight, it’s going to be a long night. That’s what we have to improve.
“We’ve won games and we’ve lost to a couple of good teams, which I can always live with even though you never want to lose, but our defense hasn’t been consistent and for us to be a good offensive team, we have to have multiple stops and we have to get back to that.”
But maybe it was Leon Powe who provided the best perspective of all on Friday morning, a mere nine hours before tip.
“It’s real good for us because we’ve been looking forward to this game,” Powe said of the test. “If you want to be the best you’ve got to beat the best. I know the road to the championship means you’ve got to knock us off. We see them as a real threat. We’ve got to go out there and play our best and hopefully both teams put on a good show and hopefully we come out on top.”
|Sounds of the game… Rockets 89, Celtics 85||01.08.09 at 8:14 am ET|
You can sense the concern growing each and every day. What was a juggernaut headed for 70+ wins two weeks ago is now a team that has lost three straight, six of eight and in second place, IN ITS OWN CONFERENCE. Talk about a change of direction. The Celtics haven’t hit a bump in the road, they’ve hit a Boston-sized pothole that has messed up their alignment and they desperately need a trip to the garage to get it fixed. Problem is their next pit stop is against the Cavaliers, the team ahead of them in the East, in Cleveland Friday night where they haven’t lost at home this season in 18 games. Wednesday night, someone named Von Wafer drilled a three with 44 seconds remaining and the Celtics couldn’t overcome Yao Ming’s 26 points as Houston handed the Green their sixth loss in eight games since Christmas.
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