|Fast Break: Thunderstruck||03.31.10 at 10:04 pm ET|
Game of the year? No question. Best regular season game of the Big Three era? It would have to be in the discussion.
The Celtics lost to the Thunder Wednesday night, 109-104 and while there are implications to the defeat, it’s not hard to appreciate just how good this game was.
You want numbers? the Celtics shot 17-for-20 in the second quarter and 70 percent in the first half… and they only led led by four. Six different Celtics scored in double figures, but no one scored as many as 18 and they had assists on 30 of their 44 made baskets
You want moments? With four seconds left in the third quarter Rajon Rondo raced the length of the floor, knifed through the Oklahoma City defense and laid one off the glass as the buzzer expired. As Rondo skipped away from the shot he had a slight grin on his face as if to say he knew how good it was. That was only one of a dozen or more example of individual brilliance.
Or how about Rasheed Wallace going 7-for-8 from the floor, with almost all of that working off the low post where he dominated a host of OKC defenders?
And Kevin Durant was ridiculous. He scored 37 points and made impossible shots from all corners of the court. He also lived at the free throw line where he went 15-for-15. As a team the Celtics attempted just 17 free throws.
This game had everything you could possibly want in a regular season NBA contest, except for maybe a Celtics win. They are now a game behind Atlanta for third place in the East. They have two more home games to regroup during this stretch and carry some momentum into the playoffs.
Player of the Game: If you have to pick one player from this game it has to be Durant. He scored 37 points and drew so much attention from the Celtics that Jeff Green found himself open for two huge 3-pointers in the final minutes.
Turning Point: The Green 3-pointers. They were both killers.
* Paul Pierce started despite suffering a stinger in his shoulder and scored 14 points to go with four rebounds and four assists in the first half. Kendrick Perkins also returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with knee tendinitis.
* The Celtics turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter, but committed only one in the second.
* The Thunder had never beaten the Celtics in the Kevin Durant era.
* Durant was awesome, obviously, but the Celtics made him work much harder for shots in the second half. They had their big men hedge off screens to initiate double teams and throw his timing off. It really didn’t matter though. Durant also got the benefit of several whistles and shot 15 free throws. He made them all, of course.
|Halftime: Celtics-Thunder||at 8:40 pm ET|
At the half we’ve got a good game brewing at the Garden with the Celtics leading 61-57. The Celtics are shooting an amazing 71 percent from the floor, while the Thunder are shooting 57 percent.
As advertised Kevin Durant was phenomenal with 17 points, but the story for the Celtics was the play of Rasheed Wallace who killed a variety of Oklahoma City defenders in the post. Wallace was 5-for-5 from the field with 10 points, but he picked up his third foul with just over five minutes left in the half.
Foul trouble is also an issue for the Thunder as Nick Collison also has three. Seven different players have two fouls each.
Paul Pierce started despite suffering a stinger in his shoulder and scored 14 points to go with four rebounds and four assists. Kendrick Perkins also returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with knee tendinitis.
The Celtics turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter, but committed only one in the second
|Coach Belichick, it’s Doc on the line||at 6:59 pm ET|
Pierce suffered a ‘stinger’ to his right shoulder on Sunday night and again on Tuesday in practice but was cleared by the team’s training and medical staff while Perkins has missed the last two games with left knee tendinitis.
“It’s good but it’s scary,” Rivers said. “Obviously, you don’t know why you get stingers. Maybe I should call Coach [Bill] Belichick because it’s a football injury more. We don’t have a whole bunch of stingers in our league that I know of. Obviously, it does concern you because I always think if something like that happens, there’s got to be a reason why but it’s just coincidence, let’s hope.”
|Preview: Celtics-Thunder||at 10:07 am ET|
Is there a more interesting team in the NBA right now than the Oklahoma City Thunder? They are not yet a championship contender and Kevin Durant is not yet the best player in the league, but as Doc Rivers has said several times this season, “It’s coming.”
Durant is almost too good to be true. A legit superstar with a likable game and personality to match, he and the Thunder will be the story on the league during the first round of the playoffs and for however long they can stick around.
There is ample anecdotal evidence to suggest that if the Celtics had been fortunate enough to get the top pick in the 2007 draft they would have selected Durant. It is already one of the great what-ifs for the franchise. Had they taken Durant, would they still have gone after Kevin Garnett or would Danny Ainge have stuck with the a young nucleus of Durant, Rajon Rondo and Al Jefferson? And if he had, would Paul Pierce have wanted to hang around through yet another rebuilding phase?
We’ll never know, and things did work out fairly well for the Celtics. Banners are forever, after all, but one can’t help but feel a tinge of wonder at the thought of Durant in a Celtics jersey for the next dozen years.
THUNDER (45-28, 6-4 last 10)
Points Per Game: 100.3
Points Allowed: 96.6
Differential: +3.7 (11th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.3 (15th)
Defensive Efficiency: 103.5 (6th)
CELTICS (47-26, 7-3 last 10)
Points Per Game: 98.6
Points Allowed: 94.3
Differential: +4.3 (9th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.0 (17th)
Defensive Efficiency: 102.4 (1st)
Pace: 91.7 (20th)
Injuries: Pierce (Shoulder, questionable), Perkins (Knee, probable) Read the rest of this entry »
|Pierce gets ‘stung’ again on right shoulder||03.30.10 at 3:54 pm ET|
WALTHAM — For the second time in three days, Paul Pierce injured his right shoulder. This time, the injury happened midway through Celtics practice when he ran into a back screen and fell to the ground. Rivers said trainer Ed Lacerte said if it’s just a stinger, Pierce should be fine to play.
“He actually got hurt again,” Rivers said. “It’s a stinger. It was the same exact reaction. It looked worse today. Eddie said if it’s a stinger, he’ll be fine but you get concerned because it’s a game and a practice, exact same thing.”
‘That’s something you play a guy five minutes and that can happen, Rivers added. ‘There’s nothing you can do about that. The good news is it’s not a shoulder separation or anything and probably the worst case is he misses a game or two, at worse. That’s not all bad and obviously, you’d like to have him and it’s not a lower body injury.’
Meanwhile, Kendrick Perkins, who has missed the last two games with left knee tendinitis, is expected to return to the starting lineup on Wednesday night against Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City at TD Garden.
|Spurs, Ginobili make C’s look ‘awful’||03.29.10 at 12:55 am ET|
When Doc Rivers said before the game he wanted his team to take a page out of the Spurs book on winning championships and playing consistently, Manu Ginobili might as well have been the author on Sunday night.
“It was one of those nights, guys,” Rivers said. “We played awful. I thought they wanted to play. You know, the first quarter I thought was terrific. I thought the bench came in in the second quarter and just everybody went iso. There was no ball movement at all with that group. And then after that I thought the starters came back in, got us back into the game, and then the third quarter was awful for us. But I thought in the third quarter is when they stopped moving the ball, I thought offensively. And defensively we struggled all night. Ginobili was fantastic and [DeJuan] Blair in the fourth quarter was a one-man wrecking crew.’
And after Ginobili finished with 28 points and the Spurs laid down a 94-73 beatdown on the Celtics on Sunday night, Rivers gave his good friend and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich a hug and a pat of congratulations on the back. And it wouldn’t be surprising if Rivers said nice little player that No. 20 is.
And the fact of the matter is Ginobili has had little choice. With Tony Parker out indefinitely with a fractured bone in his right foot and Tim Duncan limited to just eight points, it’s been Ginobili’s team of late.
‘Manu’s been playing great you know for the last month,” Popovich said. “He’s basically taken over the team. he’s been the same Manu we’ve had when we won championships, so you know without Tony it’s really important for somebody to step up like that and he’s done it.”
And watching Ginobili get to the basket and drive with regularity and then be a ball hawk on defense, it was like Celtics fans were watching Rajon Rondo playing for the opposition for one night.
‘Defense, defense we were very good, we were very active, we shifted very well off of the guys that we had to shift off,” Ginobili said. “We played good defense on KG and Paul Pierce, nothing was easy for them and that was a big key. Offensively we made some key shots to maintain that lead so it was really always uphill for them, it was a great game.’
“Some of the plays he makes, he still suprises me,” said another veteran Antonio McDyess of Ginobili. “You can never count him out because he always comes up with big plays at all times. To be new on this team and still see him doing those types of things, its still great to watch.’
Ginobili was happy to avenge a loss in Texas in December to the Celtics.
‘Definitely,” Ginobili said of the satisfaction of getting payback. “That was the worst we had been probably, last time we played them. Now we are kind of looking better, looking like a team at least. We are playing hard, hustling, communicating, all that. We are still making a lot of mistakes but that’s part of the whole deal, but when you look at our faces going to the bench with subs and stuff it is totally different so I am glad to see that.’
Now it’s the Celtics who must go back to the drawing board.
“That’s basketball,” Rivers said. “It happens. I thought we wanted to, but I thought it did break down tonight. I just thought everybody just held onto the ball and was going to do it themselves. You know it’s funny, that’s all we worked on yesterday. So clearly that didn’t work. Playing against the Spurs, you know, it’s extra pass. You’re not going to beat them off the bounce. You’re just not. And it seemed like we were hell-bent in trying to do that.
“And it’s like Pop said before the game to me: ‘You’re not going to beat the Celtics off the bounce.’ And they didn’t. They moved the ball. They kept swinging it, kept passing it, kept making passes. They did what we were supposed to do.’
|Fast Break: Celtics run over by Spurs||03.28.10 at 10:41 pm ET|
The Celtics and the Spurs are alike in so many way and after one half of basketball they were practically mirror images of each other on the stat sheet and on the scoreboard. But in the third quarter, the Spurs completely dominated the action en route to a 94-73 victory Sunday night at the Garden.
It was the Celtics lowest point total of the season and their largest margin of defeat, as well. The Spurs shot 65 percent in the third quarter and outscored the C’s 33-17, turning a one-point halftime lead into a romp. The Celtics scored just 30 points in the second half, or two less than Manu Ginobli who finished with 28 points.
The Celtics had won six out of seven games before this loss. The Hawks also won Sunday and moved back into a tie with the Celtics for third place in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics own the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the Atlantic Division.
Player of the Game: Manu Ginobli controlled every aspect of this game and wound up with 28 points and seven assists.
Turning Point: A close game at halftime turned into a rout as the Spurs outscored the Celtics 33-17 in the third quarter. The forgettable 12 minutes was capped off by an off-the-glass Ginobli 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.
* Garnett hit the deck hard after he was fouled by Ginobli in the second quarter, but he bounced up after a minute and appeared to be fine.
* Tony Allen got rotation minutes again in place of Marquis Daniels, but Daniels did check in midway through the third quarter after Paul Pierce hurt his left shoulder. Neither player distinguished themselves.
* Garnett’s old nemesis, Tim Duncan, missed his first four shots and finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
* A 3-pointer by Rajon Rondo was later ruled to be after the shot clock had expired.
* One game after being held to just one rebound, Rasheed Wallace grabbed six in the first eight minutes. Wallace started in place of Kendrick Perkins who missed his second game with tendinitis in his knee. Doc Rivers said before the game that he anticipates Perkins being ready to play Wednesday against the Thunder.
* Michael Finley played 14 minutes against his former team and was held scoreless. He attempted just two shots.
* Nate Robinson did play after spraining his ankle Friday against the Kings.
* DeJuan Blair was a monster with 11 rebounds in 21 minutes.