|Preview: Celtics vs. 76ers||11.27.08 at 10:01 pm ET|
On Friday night the Boston Celtics (14-2) will take on the Philadelphia 76ers (7-8) at the TD BankNorth Garden. The 76ers were expected to challenge the Celtics in the Atlantic Division after acquiring Elton Brand this summer, but so far they have yet to pose a threat. The Celtics are riding a six-game winning streak while the 76ers have lost their last two.
In the last five games …
Over the last five games the Celtics have averaged the third most points in the NBA (108 ppg), the 76ers are posting the third least (90.4 ppg). The 76ers have the highest rebounding differential in the league (+6.33) for the season but the Celtics have outrebounded their opponents by nearly eight boards in the past five contests.
The match up to watch will be Kevin Garnett vs. Elton Brand. The big men have seen each other plenty of times in the Western Conference and now they are two of the best in the East. Brand gives the 76ers a legitimate option in the post, something they’ve been lacking of over the years, and they don’t have to rely as much on their running game.
“You know they’re going to play hard, you know they’re going to crash the boards,” Garnett said. “But having that range from the floor makes them [multi-dimensional]. They’re able to go pick-and-pop. Andre Miller can string out the defense a little bit and throw it back and Elton can hit all the way up to 19-feet jumpers.”
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has made it clear on several occassions that Andre Miller is one of his favorite point guards in the league. Now many are saying the same about Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
“The problems we’ve had with Philly in the past, last year we struggled with them because of the Andre Miller problem,” Rivers said. “You know, at the point, with his size. I think Rondo’s better suited to handle that this year, and so he’s going to have to.”
Rondo’s fearless hustle has garnered praise from teammates and opponents alike. He enters Friday’s game on a hot streak after scoring 22 points against the Golden State Warriors. See how Rondo and Miller stacked up in the past five games:
Rajon Rondo: 29.2 minutes, 16.6 points, 6.2 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 55.7% FG
Andre Miller: 36.4 minutes, 12.0 points, 6.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 42.3% FG
Keep an Eye On …
The obvious scoring options on the 76ers are Brand and Andre Iguodala. This season, however, versatile forward Thaddeus Young is emerging in Philly. Young is quietly averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds, catching the attention of Garnett.
“A lot of people don’t really talk about him but Thaddeus Young, I think, is having an exceptional year,” Garnett said. “He’s hitting threes, he’s been able to come off picks … and he’s aggressive. Just some of the games that I’ve seen, when they win it’s because he’s playing really well.”
The Bottom Line
“I think they ran a lot more this year than last year,” said Paul Pierce. “They’re good in transition with Iguodala but I think now that they’ve added Brand to the dimension, they’re more built I think for the playoffs. They have early struggles, I think they’re a better team than their record has really shown as they get used to one another, but definitely they’re capable of scoring 100 points. But we’ve got our work cut out for us again defensively.”
Check in with the WEEI Celtics Game Day Blog for all the latest from the Celtics-76ers match up.
|The Revitilization of Rajon Rondo||11.20.08 at 10:10 pm ET|
It was early in the game and Rajon Rondo found himself driving to the basket with a clear lane to the hoop. His options: Finish the move and take it strong, or pass it out for a jump shot. As he has several times this year Rondo elected to exercise Option Two–pass it out to the perimeter. The decision elicited audible gasps from the Garden crowd, disappointment really, and a missed jump shot. That’s not what getting Rondo’d is all about.
But the most picked over, scrutinized and dissected player on the Celtics roster does not lack for confidence, and the next time Rondo found himself in the same position (clear path, decision time), Rondo elected for Option One: Take it strong to the goal.
Again and again Thursday night against the Pistons, Rondo took it strong to the basket en route to an 18-point, eight-assist performance that stands as his best game of the young season in a 98-80 win over Detroit. Read the rest of this entry »
|Celtics-Pistons Game Blog: Second Quarter||at 6:53 pm ET|
SECOND QUARTER WRAP: The Celtics second unit was hot early in the second and pushed the lead up to 38-27. But the Pistons got physical and are within nine half. They’re looking to battle and the Celtics will have to come out hot in the third quarter to stave off a comeback.
Halftime Notes and Numbers:
- Iverson leads all scorers with 12. Rondo and Tony Allen lead the Celtics with 9 apiece.
- Both teams have 16 points in the paint and the rest of the stat lines are very similar.
- The Pistons are outrebounding the Celtics 18-16 while the Celtics have one more assist, 11-10.
Paul has you covered after a entertaining halftime performance by the Bucket Boys.
- At the half, Celtics 49, Pistons 40
- Two days after saying KG is “crazier” than him on the court, Perk got T’ed up at the end of the second after Maxiell fouled Pierce at the hoop.
- There is talk of a heated relationship between UConn alums Ray Allen and Rip Hamilton, but few details are known. We’re getting a glimpse into that tonight with Hamilton knocking Allen over for an offensive foul. Hamilton had something to say about it as they ran down the court.
- A little kid dressed in an oversized Bill Walker jersey just won Sarah Brightman tickets in a tot-sized road race. What are the chances he has her songs on iTunes?
- The Celtics have their starters back on the court and the Pistons have all but Wallace out there.
- Both Ray Allen and House have missed free throws this quarter. It was House’s first miss of the season and Allen’s fourth.
- Eddie House is feeling it. After Powe swatted away a Prince drive, House nailed a three on the fast break. He drained another trey on the next possession, prompting the Pistons to call a timeout down 38-27.
- Rip Hamilton completely faked out Tony Allen at the top of the key. TA has learned from his mistakes and didn’t get tricked into fouling him on the shot a la last season against Chauncey Billups.
- During a timeout the Celtics played their first “slow dance” of the year on the Jumbotron. It was a slo-mo of awesomely bad dance moves from the Garden set to the awesomely bad Lonestar ballad, “Amazed.”
- Now Aaron Afflalo is guarding Powe (??) … now Afflalo’s on the ground. Powe’s at the line shooting two.
- Scal for three. And the crowd goes wild.
- I was hoping for a physical match up between Powe and Maxiell considering the trouble the Pistons big man gave Perk last season. But Big Baby is on Maxiell and Powe has Prince. Powe should be able to back Prince down in the paint.
- For the first time in a while, Doc is going with an entire second unit. Usually he leaves PIerce or Ray Allen on the court with the reserves, but now he’s giving the lineup of Scal, Powe, Davis, Tony Allen, and House a look. Michael Curry’s going with Iverson, Stuckey, Prince, Afflalo, and Wallace.
- After another slow start, the Celtics enter the second quarter tied 21-21 with the Pistons.
|Scal-a-bri-ne The P-R-O||11.18.08 at 9:24 pm ET|
It was late in the game and the ball swung to Brian Scalabrine in the corner. As they have every time the ball has found him in those situations, the crowd at the Garden began to rise. At times this year this reaction has seemed to un-nerve Scalabrine and made him think just an extra second, long enough for the shot to not be available to him any more.
This time, however, it wasn’t the closing seconds of a blowout win. It was a close game against a division rival and the outcome was still very much in doubt. In other words, there was no time to think. “What we’re trying to get Scal to do is just keep the game simple,” his coach, Doc Rivers was saying after the game. “When you’re open, shoot it. If not, pass it.”
Scal was open. He shot it. And it went down. It was his third 3-pointer of the game and it was critical in the Celtics, 110-101 win over the Knicks Tuesday night.
And so, the evolution of Brian Scalabrine from scapegoat to curiosity to folk hero took another twist as everyone’s favorite reserve stepped into the starting lineup for a suspended Kevin Garnett and not only helped the Celtics win a game against the Knicks, he also made perhaps the biggest shot of the night. Read the rest of this entry »
|Richardson Still Unimpressed by Celtics||at 8:56 pm ET|
This time last year Quentin Richardson wasn’t buying into the hype surrounding the Big Three. To him, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett were just another handful of players who hadn’t won a championship. Despite their hot start to the 2008 season, Richardson wasn’t in awe.
“It’s not that big a deal to us,” the New York Knicks forward told the New York Post last year. “It’s like the media makes more of The Big Three and all of them. We’re not in awe of them. They ain’t won no championships. They have a good record right now, but that don’t matter.”
At the time, Pierce shrugged it off.
“You know what? I really don’t get caught up in all that talk,” Pierce said. “He’s going to say what he’s going to say to try to motivate his team. We don’t need to be motivated. We’re a self-motivated team and we’re going to go out there and take care of business.”
Fast forward 12 months. The Knicks faced off against the Celtics on Tuesday night in Boston for a heated battle that included plenty of trash-talking and technical fouls to go around. This time the Knicks were playing the defending NBA champions. This time … was no different than the last for Richardson.
“I think a few of those guys know they can’t just say anything to us,” he said following the Celtics tension-filled 110-101 victory. “I’m just real curious to see what those guys will be saying if we weren’t in a basketball league and didn’t have referees. I mean it wouldn’t be the same story. I mean they are the World Champions and rah-rah-rah, but the tough part I don’t factor. I come from a neighborhood where you can say what you want to say, but til you do something, it don’t mean nothing. Some of those guys are happy to get a ring, but you ain’t been in the league long enough to talk to people like that. I don’t have a lot of respect for that. Like I said, I’d be curious to hear what they have to say in a different setting, I’d be very curious to see that.”
A year later, Pierce is still shrugging off Richardson’s rants.
“We just have to keep our composure,” the Celtics captain said. “The Knicks try to get you to play their game with the talking and the small ball. We can’t get caught up in the way they’re playing. We have to play our game and take advantage of what we do out there well.”
Don’t expect this to be the last heard from Richardson. The Celtics and Knicks will see each other again three times this season. Next up, December 21 at the Garden.
|Celtics Know How to Beat Knicks without Garnett||11.17.08 at 7:11 pm ET|
On Tuesday night the Boston Celtics will take on the New York Knicks without Kevin Garnett as he serves a one-game suspension for his conduct on Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Garnett was penalized without pay for striking Andrew Bogut in the face in the fourth quarter of the Celtics 102-97 overtime win. Bogut’s foul on Garnett was also upgraded to a Flagrant Foul Penalty One on Monday.
This isn’t the first time the team has been without KG since acquiring him nearly 16 months ago. Last season Garnett sat out nine games with an abdominal strain that he suffered on a game-saving play against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Celtics went 7-2 during that stretch.
This isn’t the first time the team will take on the Knicks without KG either. Last February 13 the Celtics defeated them 111-103 at Madison Square Garden.
So how did the Celtics get it done without Garnett?
(I know, I know, beating the Knicks isn’t earth shattering but the Celtics still have to make adjustments.)
That night Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined for 45 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. The duo hit 17-of-18 from the free throw line (Allen missed one). Rajon Rondo also shot 64% from the field to score 18 points. Garnett wasn’t the only starter out of the lineup that night. Kendrick Perkins was sidelined as well, so Leon Powe and Brian Scalabrine got the starts in their place. Powe chipped in 18 points while Scal lasted just under three minutes before James Posey took over.
On the defensive end, they limited the Knicks to 29% three-point shooting and held them to 20 assists (the Celtics dished 29). The Cs also blocked six shots to the Knicks zero.
The Celtics turned to their bench to get it done last time and Tuesday night will be no different.
|Sounds of the game… Nuggets 94, Celtics 85||11.15.08 at 2:49 pm ET|
Call it fatigue. Call it sluggishness, or being outplayed or a combination all three. But the Denver Nuggets showed the Celtics Friday night that they are human on their home court. They hadn’t lost at home in the regular season since last March 26 to Philadelphia, a string of 11 straight wins on the parquet. But that changed when the Nuggets closed the game with a 10-1 run. Now the focus is on the Bucks in Milwaukee, where the Celtics are right now, trying to make sure one bad night doesn’t turn into two.