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Fast Break: C’s right ship 04.07.10 at 9:30 pm ET
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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.

Read More: Celtics, Fast Break, Raptors,
Preview: Celtics-Raptors at 10:41 am ET
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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)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: None.

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)

Likely Starters: Jose Calderon, Sonny Weems, Hedo Turkoglu, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani

Injuries: Chris Bosh (Face fracture), Antoine Wright (Ankle) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Preview, Raptors,
Preview: Celtics-Knicks 04.06.10 at 10:42 am ET
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The Celtics went 3-3 on their homestand and there was some good mixed with the continuation of a disturbing pattern.

First, the good. They registered an impressive win over Denver and beat the Cavs, no matter how hard it got in the fourth quarter.

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)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: None.

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)

Likely Starters: Sergio Rodriguez, Tracy McGrady, Bill Walker, Danilo Gallinari, David Lee

Injuries: Wilson Chandler (Groin), Eddy Curry (Calf, knee), McGrady (Knee, Questionable) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Knicks, Preview,
Showing Sheed some love 04.05.10 at 6:38 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Doc Rivers has been around the NBA as a player and coach long enough to know when and where to pick your battles.

With the season winding down and the playoffs approaching, the last thing he need is for his back-up veteran post player to be unhappy and feel unwanted by his team.

This is why Rivers spoke with Rasheed Wallace on Monday about his outburst in the second half of their game against Cleveland, with much of Wallace’s fury pointed in Rivers’ direction following a technical foul.

River said he worked things out with Wallace following their on-court dispute during a talk before the team’s trip to New York for Tuesday’s game with the Knicks.

“Rasheed’s emotional, he’s been emotional and some of that won’t change. I can accept that,” Rivers said. “As a coach, when an emotional hijack happens, your job is to get your team to function. You can’t focus on the one at that point.”

Rivers said following Sunday’s game that he did not plan to publicly punish Wallace, after the veteran picked up a technical foul and then argued with Rivers as the coach took him out of the game.

“Yeah, he apologized. They all do,” Rivers said. “It’s not personal. Rasheed and I get along great. Rasheed gets along great with his teammates. But when you have an emotional hijack, you don’t get along well with anyone at that moment. We just had a great talk. He always apologizes. All of them do the next day about techs but I didn’t seek his apology. He just said, ‘Hey, I should’ve controlled myself some.’”

Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, NBA, Rasheed Wallace
Doc on the Cavs: ‘I like the hatred’ at 4:55 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Doc Rivers believes LeBron James has it right when it comes to attitudes of opposing players on the court.

No friends allowed.

Rivers reacted Monday and said he embraces the bitter feelings between the Celtics and Cavaliers. He just added that he doesn’t want to see it spill over to the officials.

“I like the hatred,” Rivers said. “I think that’s good. I do think the two teams don’t like each other, for whatever reason. I don’t ever think that’s a bad thing, personally. I think that’s a good thing. I just don’t want to see that officiated. I think going into games, people know that. Just line them up and let them play.”

When told that James endorses a more fierce mentality between teams, Rivers said that’s good for the league.

Rivers has maintained for years that the dynamic between NBA players has changed forever with the evolution of basketball camps such as Nike and AAU, where players get to know each other at a young age – usually in high school.

“I’m all for it,” Rivers said. “I love it. He’s the new leader. I think we should all listen to LeBron, if that’s what he’s saying. I really believe that. I said many times, the AAU thing has changed the game in that way. Everyone knows each other. I don’t understand how everybody is still friends. It drives me nuts. That’s just the way it is.

“I used to fight that my first couple of years here and in Orlando. Even in Orlando, I went so far as if you shake a guy’s hand before a game, I was going to fine you. Then I realized they know each other, they’re friends, so I gave in.”

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, Doc Rivers, LeBron James
Doc on DJ: ‘People forget how good he was’ 04.04.10 at 1:59 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers, like many fans, was extremely happy on Saturday to hear word that Dennis Johnson was finally being inducted into the basketball hall of fame in Springfield this fall. The official announcement is expected to come out of Indianapolis on Monday during the Final Four.

Rivers just wishes that DJ were around to receive the accolades and get his chance to say thank you. Johnson died of heart failure in Feb. 2007.

“In some ways, it’s a little late,” Rivers said. “It would have been better for this to happen when DJ was alive. It would have been great for him to give the speech. That’s the only bad part of this.”

In many ways, the best thing to have ever happened to Dennis Johnson was his trade from Phoenix to Boston following the 1982-83 season for Rick Robey.

In his first year in Boston in ’83-84, Johnson helped contain Philadelphia’s Andrew Toney in the regular season and Magic Johnson in the playoffs as the Celtics returned to glory in a seven-game NBA Finals win.

But, as Celtics coach Doc Rivers correctly pointed out, while he may not have been well known by fans before coming to Boston in the mid-80s, he certainly had built quite the reputation. He led Seattle to its first and only title in 1979 and was voted NBA Finals MVP.

“I think, unfortunately, for DJ is people forget how good he was in Seattle,” Rivers said of Johnson. “They dismiss that part of his career for some reason. Somehow, they forget he won titles on two different teams and was a key player on both.”

After the ’79 title season, Johnson averaged 19.0 points and 4.1 assists, appeared in his second All-Star Game and was named to the All-Defensive first team and All-NBA second team.

However, the Sonics lost in the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers, who had Hall of Famers Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Johnson later called that playoff exit one of the worst disappointments of his professional career.

Read More: Celtics, Dennis Johnson, NBA, Seattle SuperSonics
Pierce on C’s turmoil: We ‘talk things out’ at 12:18 am ET
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WALTHAM — Paul Pierce made a admission on Saturday following practice.

The Celtics had some words amongst each other about what was happening on their home court in three straight losses – or more to the point, what wasn’t. And that turmoil was evident several times on Friday as Rajon Rondo had animated discussions with Shelden Williams and Pierce during the fourth quarter as the Celtics were trying to get their defensive house in order.

The team’s ability to defend the simple pick-and-roll was exposed as an apparent weakness on Friday as Aaron Brooks, Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola went to town late in the fourth quarter as the Rockets battled back to force overtime and then erased a five-point hole in OT to score the last 10 points of overtime in the 119-114 Rockets win.

“I think we’re breaking down in just one area,” Pierce said. “And it needs to get better. We have to be better on the pick and roll.”

In other words, when the opposing player passes the ball, a fundamental rule in basketball defense 101 is that the passer becomes the most dangerous potential scorer on the court.

“I think we trust each other,” Pierce said. “It’s just about going out there and doing it and trusting the coaching staff. The good thing about us after a game like [Friday] or the game before, we sit in the locker room and we talk about it. We were in the training room, talking about what we need to do better and what we need to do as a team. That’s a positive sign, how during a tough stretch like this, we stick together and talk things out.”

And that talk continued from Friday night post-game to Saturday pre-film study as Pierce said the team had an animated and frank discussion of the mistakes being made, with everyone in green taking some responsibility.

Now with LeBron James, Antawn Jamison and the NBA-leading Cavaliers coming to town Sunday, the Celtics are just hoping their film study and practice on Saturday is enough to pass the huge test.

He didn’t want to get into it after Friday’s loss, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers gave several examples on Saturday of the problems that led to his team’s meltdown.

There was the lack of respect given to 3-point sharpshooter Chase Budinger, after several reminders from the coaching staff to get in his face and stick with him on defense. They failed.

There was the shot taken by Nate Robinson at the end of the second quarter, leading to a three-point swing that gave Houston a four-point lead instead of one. And there was Pierce dribbling out the clock before halftime without getting off a shot.

All of that said, Saturday was a time to look forward to preparing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that beat them by 20 on the same court on Feb. 26. Looking back on Friday’s loss on film was not what Doc ordered on Saturday.

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, LeBron James, NBA
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