|SVG: Celtics weren’t playing possum||05.24.10 at 10:27 pm ET|
“I think that’s a bunch of crap,” Van Gundy said. “I think they had injuries, period. I don’t think they were holding anything back. Kevin Garnett had a serious knee injury that takes a lot of time to get back to full strength. When we were at the All Star Game, at that point, I didn’t either Garnett or Pierce were at full speed or looked healthy, still. I thought Kevin was still having trouble with mobility in that leg and Paul’s foot was bothering him. Injuries mean a lot.”
Van Gundy saw both Garnett and Paul Pierce during the All Star break in Arlington, Texas. He said he knew at the time, the Celtics weren’t at full strength. The Celtics finished fourth in the East with a 50-32 record, behind Cleveland, Orlando and Atlanta.
“They weren’t 41-41 were they? The way everybody talked about them they exploded out of the blue after winning 41 games,” Van Gundy added. “Didn’t they win 50 games? Fifty games is a hell of a season, and those guys weren’t healthy. I don’t they were out there saying, ‘Let’s hold it back.’ I think that’s ridiculous and I think it’s insulting to them, quite honestly.”
Doc Rivers knows a thing or two about getting shown the door. He was dismissed early in the 2004 season following a 1-10 start in Orlando after earning coach of the year honors in 2000. He has watched as Mike Brown won 60-plus games in back-to-back seasons and led his team to the NBA Finals in the year before.
“I don’t know what you have to do to keep your job,” said a perplexed Rivers.
|1st half summary: Celtics vs. Magic Game 4||at 9:53 pm ET|
The Orlando Magic came to play Monday night in Game 4 after being embarrassed in Game 3 and made a point of showing it early on.
They took a 51-47 lead at halftime over the Celtics, amazingly their first such lead after 24 minutes in the series so far.
Orlando, which shot 61.5 percent in the first quarter, built their largest lead of the game at 10 points, 42-32, with 5:47 left in the second quarter.
The Magic were led by Dwight Howard, with 17 points and six rebounds.
The other thing to keep a close eye on in the second half is the condition of Rajon Rondo, who left with a minute to go with trainer Bryan Doo to treat muscle spasms in his right leg.
|Magic questions will be answered||at 8:12 pm ET|
Throughout the Eastern Conference finals the Magic have seemed to be a step behind the moment. Game 1 came and went and the Magic seemed unprepared for the Celtics physical play. Then down 2-0 Orlando was run off the court early by the Celtics and never recovered.
Now that it’s literally a must-win game for Orlando, Stan Van Gundy was asked if he would know if his team was ready early in the game.
“I don’t even think that’s the real question,” Van Gundy said prior to Game 4. “I think the question will come, whether it’s early or later on in the game, the question comes whenever you get hit, especially when you’re in this situation.”
The Magic didn’t react well to that Celtics punch in Game 3 and Orlando has faced criticism that they laid down with their season on the line. Doc Rivers wasn’t going near that one.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’ve always said keep your own bedroom clean, let everyone else clean their own. It would be great if it was us because that would mean that we’re playing well, but I can’t answer that.”
Things can change fast in this league. Take the Celtics who spent most of the regular season answering those types of questions. Now they are an efficient, focused machine. It was only a week ago when people were saying the same thing about the Magic.
|Video: Jason Williams’ postgame rant||at 12:32 pm ET|
Magic guard Jason Williams let off a little steam in the locker room following the Celtics‘ Game 3 rout Saturday night. Williams wasn’t happy that reporters were crowding his locker in an attempt to listen to an interview with Matt Barnes. Here’s the video of Williams’ rant.
|Celtics by the numbers||05.23.10 at 12:09 pm ET|
As we all know by now, the Celtics have become a different team than the one they were in the regular season and the numbers bare that out.
Fair warning: This post uses non-traditional metrics to look for statistical trends. They are taken straight from the Celtics page on basketballreference.com and are by no means the end all and be all of analysis. As the guru of advanced basketball stats Dean Oliver once told me, numbers are useless if they don’t help tell a story, so we’ll use these to help paint a picture of how the Celtics have turned things around.
The important thing to remember is that these stats are adjusted for pace (possessions used during a game), which simply allows us to compare the numbers found in the box score to other players on other teams, regardless of how fast or slow they play. If you’re interested in understanding more, B-R has a very useful glossary page.
As you might expect, some interesting trends have developed with the Celtics over the course of 14 playoff games: Read the rest of this entry »
|Baby dances all over Magic||at 1:08 am ET|
Even the most optimistic Celtics fan that thought the Green could take Game 3 and go up, 3-0, didn’t expect what happened Saturday night.
The Celtics blew out the Magic, 94-71, in a game not that close to come within one win of a return trip to the NBA Finals.
But dance Big Baby did when he connected on a lay-up with eight minutes to go in the second quarter and stomped around the baseline as he was also fouled in the process. He might as well have been stomping on the heart and soul of the listless Magic.
“It’s not surprising as far as how well we are playing because we know we are capable of doing that,” Davis said. “We are capable of putting together some good games, its just our turn, I think this year we have had some ups and downs, didn’t close out games like we were supposed to, didn’t finish games like we were supposed to. Now it’s just turning around for us, we are staying focused and we are making sure we are doing our job, everybody has a job and everyone is doing their job, we are just making sure that we do our job.’
For the record, Davis drilled the free throw as well, giving Boston its first 20-point lead of the game at 39-19.
Davis not only finished with 17 points but six rebounds in 27 minutes off the Celtics bench.
‘I think the thing that I figured out being a young player, being on a team that is so loaded, you have to find your role and play your role to the max,” Davis said. “I just bought into what Doc was saying, bought into what the team was saying, and just making sure that I am there for my teammates. That’s all that is.
‘My role is just being an energy guy, making sure that I play defense, get rebounds, Doc lets me offensively do what I want to do, hit the open jump shot, play in the post, he lets me do that. But at the same time he makes me still remember my role and what I am capable of doing. I am capable of setting a great pick, you realize if you set a great pick, you are going to be open because your man is going to guard the man that you are guarding and that’s your shot. So just playing to my role, doing what I need to do and realizing what I am capable of doing.’
Davis, sounding confident if not cocky, also said he’s been able to find his rhythm the last three years in the playoffs.
‘It’s just the rising of the occasion, that’s all it is,” he added. “I just love to play, you realize when I get my opportunity to play, I play. That’s all I do, is just play the games, and big games are my specialty for some reason.’
Davis said the Celtics will not let the Game 3 blowout affect their approach in Game 4, with fans already chanting ‘Beat LA, Beat LA.’ But as Bruins fans will tell you, it takes four wins to close out a series. And Davis is more than aware of this.
“I understand the fans with the ‘Beat LA,'” said Davis. “We have one more game to win and this team is highly capable of winning three in a row, we have been playing great but at the same time we need to realize it is not finished until we win the next game.
“Just staying focused in our game plan, making sure we do what we have to do to win the ballgame. We know what it takes to win, we’ve seen it, and we’ve done it. Now we just have to keep on doing it, consistency, and that’s what we are doing, just trying to play at a high level of consistency throughout the whole year. It wasn’t working like that at first, we have ups and downs, come out third quarter not playing well, but we are putting it together at the right time at the right moment and that’s what its all about.’
And winning four games to win a series is all the Celtics care about on Monday night.
|Doc keeping it all in the family||05.22.10 at 10:04 pm ET|
How good things were going for Doc Rivers on Saturday?
His team was up 2-0 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals against the Orlando Magic. His 24-year-old point guard Rajon Rondo is playing his best basketball of the season. His team raced out to a 24-point lead in Game 3 and making the Orlando Magic look silly.
But what makes him most proud – as it would any father – is what his youngest son has accomplished.
Austin Rivers stands 6’3″, plays shooting guard for Winter Park High School and just led his team to its first state title in school history.
“That was awesome. That was one of the better experiences I’ve had as a parent, as a fan,” Rivers beamed when asked about his son before the game.
“Watching your kid win a state title when the school had never won in their history, it was an amazing feeling. I don’t know if you can get that feeling unless your kids do something like that. It was special.”
How good is his son?
“I can’t say how good he is because he’s my son,” Rivers said. “For me, I don’t know. I saw him at least 11 times. I got home a lot, games just worked out. They actually played a game here in Springfield, Mass., which was great for me because I got to see that, as well. I got home to see him a lot and that was great to do.”
Austin Rivers is considered a top 10 basketball prospect in the class of 2011.
Helping his son get into a basketball school would not, of course, be new territory for the Celtics coach. His oldest son Jeremiah played basketball for Georgetown before transferring to Indiana University, while his daughter Callie plays volleyball for the University of Florida, where she dates Patriots draft pick and linebacker Brandon Spikes.
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