|Heat or Bucks?||04.12.10 at 2:44 pm ET|
The Celtics find themselves in an interesting position with two games left in the regular season. They will play either Miami or Milwaukee in the first round of the playoffs and they have some control over the outcome, but not total control.
To review: The Celtics sit one game behind Atlanta for third in the Eastern Conference, but the C’s own the tiebreaker. The Heat and Bucks are tied for fifth, but the Bucks own the tiebreaker with Miami.
If things stay as they are the Celtics will open the first round with Milwaukee, but things are not likely to stay the same. That’s because Milwaukee hosts Atlanta tonight [Monday] and then travels to Boston for the regular-season finale Wednesday.
If Atlanta wins, the Hawks can just about wrap up third and almost guarantee a first-round matchup with the Bucks. If not, the whole thing becomes a jumble. The Heat play at Philly Monday and then host New Jersey Wednesday, so if the Bucks stumble Miami had a good chance to climb into fifth.
Which brings us back to the Celtics and whether they should have a preference in a first-round opponent. On the face of things, not really.
Milwaukee and Miami have identical records and have been two of the hottest teams down the stretch. Milwaukee has gone 21-7 since acquiring John Salmons at the trade deadline, while the Heat have won 16 of their last 20. Both are also strong defensive teams who rarely turn the ball over.
But that’s where the similarities stop. The Heat are incredibly reliant on the individual brilliance of Dwyane Wade who leads the team in points, assists and steals. He has also taken almost 500 more shots and free throws than any of his teammates.
The Bucks do not have nearly that kind of star power and they’re best player, Andrew Bogut, is injured and unavailable. Playing Milwaukee seems like the obvious choice, and indeed it may be (Zach Lowe at Celtics Hub makes a strong case here), but let’s examine both sides. Read the rest of this entry »
|Doc on Sheed and Celts: Judge us in the playoffs||04.10.10 at 12:12 am ET|
Doc Rivers knows champions are made in the playoffs. So are reputations.
That’s why he’s asking everyone to hold judgement on Rasheed Wallace until they see what the Celtics and Wallace do in playoffs.
But that didn’t keep Rivers from acknowledging this has been a tough first season for Wallace to endure in Boston.
“Up and down,” Rivers said. “He’s had some good games, some bad games. Bottom line is, he’ll be judged, and our team will be judged, on how well we play in the playoffs. If he has a great playoff run, I don’t think anyone is going to say it was a disappointing Rasheed Wallace. If he has a great playoff run, I think people are going to say, ‘That’s what we brought him here for.’ I think somebody’s going to write that.
“If he has a poor one, then obviously, it’s going to go the other way.”
Rivers said he has moved on from the public argument the two had during the team’s win over Cleveland last Sunday.
“You know there’s going to be days like this and you just get through them and move on from them. I think we all have,” Rivers said before Friday’s game. “You still get back to the type of guy he is when the emotions aren’t around.”
That’s when Wallace did his typical walk back from shootaround to the locker room and teased Rivers with a ‘fire hazard’ comment as Rivers conducted his usual pre-game briefing outside the locker room.
“See what I mean,” Rivers said without missing a beat.
“When emotions aren’t around, he’s a good guy. That’s how you try to get back to it.”
Rivers also said before the game that it’s too early to be concerned with who the Celtics play in the playoffs, even with less than a week to go in the regular season.
|KG: ‘It doesn’t help when the crowd boos’||04.09.10 at 11:54 pm ET|
A frustrated Kevin Garnett took exception with the boos that rained down on the parquet during Boston’s 106-96 loss to the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
“It’s just hard, especially when we get to the end of the first quarter and we are down, 30-17, and everybody starts to hit – not the panic button – but tries to pick it up in different ways and when it doesn’t come together or you miss some shots, and it doesn’t help when the crowd boos and all these other things then you have to grow tighter together,” Garnett said. “It’s not easy. We know this journey and duration in which we are traveling is not going to be an easy one, and tonight was a difficult one. I wouldn’t say we hang our heads but every individual is trying to figure out what to do and what they can do individually to try to pick it up.”
The Celtics heard it from the TD Garden crowd as the Celtics fell behind by 28 in the second quarter.
“Well, I mean we are at home, we look for our fans to give energy, to give us a spark when the times are tough,” Garnett said. “It doesn’t help when the boos happen but we are a group of veterans and we are a group that is a real team. We aren’t fair weather.”
|Preview: Celtics-Wizards||at 10:49 am ET|
It is now open season on Rasheed Wallace after Bill Simmons ripped him apart in an ESPN column. It’s convenient to blame all the Celtics woes on Wallace, who has not played well at all this season, and most of Simmon’s critique was completely fair.
The subtext to everything is that Wallace has somehow infected the Celtics with his own unique blend of overconfidence and laissez-faire attitude. That’s both impossible to prove and equally as difficult to disprove.
Wallace isn’t responsible for Ray Allen’s inconsistent shooting in the first half of the season, Kevin Garnett’s limited mobility or Paul Pierce’s long list of injuries. There are many reasons for the Celtics lackluster play and Wallace has certainly contributed to a lot of it with his beyond-awful 3-point shooting, shoddy rebounding and wayward attention to help-side defense
What we do know is that Wallace hasn’t left himself any wiggle room. The only way he escapes this season without any further damage to his reputation is if he plays lights out in the playoffs. The same could be said for the rest of the Celtics.
WIZARDS (24-54, 4-6 last 10)
Points Per Game: 96.0
Points Allowed: 100.9
Differential: -4.9 (26th)
Offensive Efficiency: 104.0 (25th)
Defensive Efficiency: 109.3 (18th)
Pace: 91.6 (21st)
CELTICS (49-29, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 99.3
Points Allowed: 95.3
Differential: +4.0 (10th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.7 (15th)
Defensive Efficiency: 103.3 (4th)
Pace: 91.8 (20th)
Injuries: None. Read the rest of this entry »
|Fast Break: C’s right ship||04.07.10 at 9:30 pm ET|
No matter how much they insist that the regular season is meaningless from here on out, the Celtics needed a win Wednesday night against the Raptors. They needed one because of the way they played against the Knicks on Tuesday and they needed one because if they are going to go into the playoffs with any kind of momentum it has to start somewhere.
They might have needed a win, but that doesn’t mean they played like it. For two and a half quarters it was the same Celtics team we’ve seen over the last few weeks. They were fine offensively, but the defense lacked the ability or focus to get stops. That all changed late in the third quarter and the C’s were able to ride a strong effort from their reserves to a 115-104 win over Toronto.
They did it despite sitting Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins for major stretches of the second half. Michael Finley scored 14 points and had six rebounds in 23 minutes of action and Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis also checked in with 20+ minute evenings.
The Celtics had five players score in double figures, led by Rajon Rondo with 21 points and Kevin Garnett had 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting. They shot 56 percent and held the Raptors to under 50 percent shooting on the defensive end. It was a good win for the Celtics, and maybe even a necessary win.
Player of the Game: Rajon Rondo’s night started poorly but ended spectacularly. He had four turnovers in the first half, but didn’t commit another in the second. That was as big a factor in the win as his 21 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Turning Point: The Celtics were nursing a two-point lead midway through the third quarter when Doc Rivers went to his bench. The reserves pushed the lead to double-digits
* Sonny Weems had a career half for Toronto with 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting in the first 24 minutes, but he scored just four points the rest of the way.
* Ray Allen had 18 points, including a gorgeous behind the back move for a layup.
* Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson both did not play rotation minutes again and Tony Allen was the nominal backup point guard.
* As expected, Chris Bosh did not play for the Raptors. He had surgery to repair a facial fracture after he caught an elbow from Cleveland’s Antawn Jamison in their game Tuesday. It is unlikely that Bosh will play again during the regular season. He will be a free agent this summer.
* It got worse for the Raptors as Hedo Turkoglu was inadvertently hit in the face by Tony Allen late in the first quarter and had to leave the game. He did not return and is listed as questionable with a nasal contusion.
|Preview: Celtics-Raptors||at 10:41 am ET|
The Celtics are like the kid that doesn’t do their homework, and then is surprised when they fail the test. But failing the test does little to chasten them because — they seem to have reasoned collectively — if they had studied they would have done just fine.
Kendrick Perkins told reporters after Tuesday’s loss to the Knicks that they were making up defenses on the fly. Doc Rivers continues to insist that he’s not holding open tryouts for bench spots even though the rotation seems to change on a nightly basis. Kevin Garnett said the gods were punishing them.
Whatever. The Celtics, frankly, are a mess and what’s most disturbing about it is that they can’t seem to get it right even when they want to. They play the Raptors tonight, a team that is without Chris Bosh who broke his face Tuesday against the Cavs, and who have their own internal problems.
If you were a betting person you would take this game off your board because with these two teams, who knows which one will show up to play.
CELTICS (48-29, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 99.1
Points Allowed: 95.2
Differential: +3.9 (9th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.4 (15th)
Defensive Efficiency: 103.1 (4th)
Pace: 91.8 (20th)
RAPTORS (38-39, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 103.9
Points Allowed: 105.8
Differential: -1.9 (18th)
Offensive Efficiency: 110.9 (7th)
Defensive Efficiency: 112.9 (30th)
Pace: 93.2 (11th)
|Preview: Celtics-Knicks||04.06.10 at 10:42 am ET|
The Celtics went 3-3 on their homestand and there was some good mixed with the continuation of a disturbing pattern.
And the bad. They have been absolutely terrible in the second half. Even in two of their wins the Celtics melted down in the fourth quarter, barely beating the Kings and Cleveland. They also collapsed in the second half against San Antonio and didn’t execute at the end of losses to Houston and Oklahoma City.
Paul Pierce called them learning experiences, but why should a veteran team at this stage of the season have to go through them? With six games left in the regular season we either know everything there is to know about the Celtics, or we know nothing at all, because based on their regular-season performance this is not a team that is capable of winning a championship.
CELTICS (48-28, 6-4 last 10)
Points Per Game: 99.1
Points Allowed: 95.1
Differential: +4.0 (9th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.4 (15th)
Defensive Efficiency: 103.0 (2nd)
Pace: 91.8 (20th)
KNICKS (27-49, 4-6 last 10)
Points Per Game: 101.8
Points Allowed: 105.4
Differential: -3.6 (22nd)
Offensive Efficiency: 106.9 (18th)
Defensive Efficiency: 110.7 (24th)
Pace: 94.2 (6th)
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