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Doc on Pierce, KG: C’s need them at ‘their peak’ 03.12.10 at 8:13 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett was happier with the results of Friday's game than with a suggestion that he and Paul Pierce rest down the stretch. (AP)

Kevin Garnett was happier with the results of Friday's game than with a suggestion that he and Paul Pierce rest down the stretch. (AP)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he is thinking of sitting Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, having them miss games and practice more to help them find their rhythm and conditioning as the playoffs approach.

“If that means working more in practice and missing games, then that’s what we have to do,” Rivers said. “Let’s just be honest, if they’re not at their peak, it’s going to be very tough for us to do anything. We have to have them playing at their peak.”

Pierce has been recovering from an injured left foot, while Garnett has continued to deal with his injured right knee. Yet both players indicated a strong desire following Friday’s game to continue playing and not occasionally sit out games along the lines of what Rivers suggested.

“I’m not really feeling that idea, but hey, this is the ‘Doc Rivers Show’ and we are just guests on it,” Garnett said. “So whatever he feels is best, you know Paul and I, I think I speak for both of us we don’t really feel that.”

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Hollins: C’s still ‘one of top 3 in East’ 03.11.10 at 1:16 am ET
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Coming into Wednesday’s game, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins wasn’t about to let his suffer the same fate as the Washington Wizards on Sunday night.

After his team blew a 13-point lead in the final six minutes, only to lose to Boston, 86-83, Wizards coach Flip Saunders said his team relieved itself collectively down its leg.

Hollins knew with his young, energetic team well rested in Boston while the Celtics were battling Milwaukee half a continent away 24 hours earlier, his team would have a decided advantage and likely jump out to a quick, big lead.

Hollins was prophetic. The Grizzlies raced out to a 27-12 lead after one and 55-33 at halftime.

And when the Celtics rallied to get within 12 in the third quarter he reminded his team what was at stake during a succession of timeouts.

“I was telling them to keep being aggressive,” Hollins said. “I watched the Washington Wizards come in here the other noght and literally beat the Celtics up for three and half quarters and then quit playing and the Celtics came back and won the game.

“I told them whatever happens, whatever run, we’ll call timeout and try to stem the run but when we go back out there we’re gonna be aggressive. We kept throwing the ball up the court and attacking the. We had two or three quick 1-2 passes then a layup after they scored which kind of took the start to them and also took the crowd out of the game.”

While a respectable 34-31, the Grizzlies are still on the outside looking in, trying to catch Portland for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

“It’s a big win, and we’re happy with the win, but we know we caught the Celtics on a down night,” Hollins said. “They played back to back, had to travel home, had a tough game [Tuesday] night in Milwaukee. They’re still, in my mind, one of the top three teams in the East and they’re going to show that as they go forward into the playoffs. But we’re just happy to get a win and we’re excited to have 34 wins and be three games over .500.

“We talked about making some noise, we beat a lot of good teams during the course of this season and this the first big road win though against one of the top teams in the league and we caught a break so that helped us but we’ll take it. That’s the way the NBA is and that just takes us further and closer to our goal.”

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Third quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Grizzlies 03.10.10 at 9:28 pm ET
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The best thing the Celtics can say about the third quarter is they scored 30 points after scoring just 33 the previous 24 minutes. The problem is they’re not stopping Memphis, who maintained their comfortable lead at 82-63 heading into the fourth.

The highlight of the quarter was an alley-oop dunk by Kevin Garnett from Rajon Rondo with just under three minutes remaining that cut the Memphis lead to 14, at 71-57.

Earlier in the quarter, the Celtics went on a 9-0 run to cut the Memphis lead from 21 to 12 but the Celtics could get no closer.

The Celtics are still getting hammered on the glass (40-23) while shooting only marginally better in the third quarter, raising their percentage to 42 for the game.

Rondo had seven points in the quarter and leads the Green with 16. A pair of former UConn Huskies are making their presence known. Rudy Gay has a game-high 17 after three and Marcus Williams hit a key 3-pointer and leads the Grizzlies bench with 10.

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Second quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Grizzlies at 8:45 pm ET
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The Celtics continued to play like a team that was exhausted from playing halfway across the country 24 hours earlier. The TD Garden didn’t take any sympathy on them, as they showered them with boos coming off the court.

Memphis took a 55-33 lead to the locker room, matching their largest advantage of the game. One fan even urged Kevin Garnett to “Wake up!” as Garnett missed all three shots and finished with no points in 16 minutes. But that plea could go for the entire team, which allowed Memphis to make 53.3 percent of their shots while shooting just 39 percent themselves.

But in a game where the younger Grizzlies are clearly showing their superior energy, the biggest margin is on the glass where Memphis is doubling up Boston, 28-14.

The 33 points is a low for the Celtics in the first half this season and the 22-point hole is their biggest at halftime this season.

As the Celtics continued to struggle, looking for any spark at all, coach Doc Rivers stayed with his second unit for the first six minutes of the second quarter.

Rudy Gay leads the Grizzlies with 15 points while no one in white and green is even in double figures. Rajon Rondo leads the Celtics with 9.

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Pacquiao fights for the Celtics at 7:15 pm ET
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Prior to Wednesday’s game with Memphis, many of the Celtics had a special motivational gift waiting for them in their lockers.

Manny Pacquiao, widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, sent several red autographed boxing gloves to the Celtics as a measure of gratitude for being bestowed an honorary member of the Celtics, according to Phillipines news report.

“There’s no message, no message,” insisted Celtics coach Doc Rivers before Wednesday’s game.

“It honestly wasn’t from me,” Rivers added. “Pacquiao is obviously a huge Celtics fan and he tried to get to our walk-through in the hotel ballroom before we played the Lakers [in Los Angeles] so he just sent that to us. That’s nice. It’s a good gesture.”

Asked if he hopes his players make use of the gloves, Rivers quipped, “No, not on each other.”

The relationship between Pacquiao and the Celtics grew closer in 2008 when Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo watched him capture the World Boxing Council lightweight title from David Diaz and then congratulated him afterward.

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Preview: Celtics-Grizzlies at 10:32 am ET
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One game removed from scoring 25 points and knocking down a dramatic game-winner, Ray Allen was a total afterthought in the Celtics offensive attack against the Bucks Tuesday night. Allen had only three shots, and he missed them all.

More than almost every other player on the roster, Allen relies on his teammates to set him up. According to the numbers on Hoop Data, more than 72 percent of Allen’s made shots come off assists. (Kevin Garnett actually has a higher percentage). This is the second time in the past week that Allen has had so few looks. Against the Bobcats he had only two shots, but because that was a blowout it went relatively unnoticed.

The key to the Celtics offense is balance and they can’t afford to go away from Allen like that in the future.

GRIZZLIES (33-31, 6-4 last 10)

Points Per Game: 102.0

Points Allowed: 102.8

Differential: -.8 (17th)

Offensive Efficiency: 108.5 (12th)

Defensive Efficiency: 109.3 (23rd)

Pace: 93.0 (13th)

Likely Starters: Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol

Injuries: Darrell Arthur (Torn pec muscle), Randolph (Back, questionable)

CELTICS (40-22, 6-4 last 10)

Points Per Game: 98.2

Points Allowed: 93.7

Differential: +4.5 (6th)

Offensive Efficiency: 106.8 (14th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.8 (1st)

Pace: 91.5 (23rd)

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

Injuries: None. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fast break: Celtics edged by Bucks 03.09.10 at 10:28 pm ET
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It’s been a while since the Celtics played a tough, competitive game against a solid opponent. They’ve had close games, but hardly well-played close games.

That wasn’t the case Tuesday night in Milwaukee as the Celtics and Bucks played a back-and-forth affair with neither team able to grab much of an advantage. The Bucks escaped with an 86-84 win, but for the first time in a while, it wasn’t because of lack of effort or focus on the part of the Celtics. Milwaukee just made one more play than the Celtics did.

With Andrew Bogut dominating the paint for the Bucks and the Celtics curiously going away from Ray Allen (only three shot attempts), the burden fell on Rajon Rondo. The guard continued to attack the paint, and got knocked down more than a few times for his efforts.

Rondo finished with 20 points and six assists, but he needed help and there wasn’t much to be found. Down by two points on the final possession, Paul Pierce shot a contested jumper that hit iron. The four-game winning streak is over and the Celtics have another game Wednesday night back home in Boston against Memphis.

They still have not atoned for the New Jersey loss, but the signs of progress are still there.

Turning Point: There really wasn’t one. The Bucks made a few more plays than the Celtics, including a back-tap offensive rebound that allowed them to run more clock in the final minute. But there was no definitive point when either team grabbed control of the game.

Player of the Game: There’s probably no bigger fan of Andrew Bogut’s game than Doc Rivers. The Celtics coach has gone out of his way to praise the big man for his ability to shoot with both hands and use his body to create angles. Rivers may be a fan, but he couldn’t have liked what he saw Tuesday night as Bogut killed the Celtics with 25 points and 17 rebounds.

* Michael Finley debuted for the Celtics and he made his first shot, a 17-footer and also knocked down his first 3-pointer giving him five points in his first run. Brian Scalabrine was inactive.

* Nate Robinson buried two timely 3-pointers at the end of the first quarter. Robinson’s shot-making was just about the only bright spot for the Celtics in the quarter and helped slice a Buck lead from eight to two.

* The Celtics bench outscored Milwaukee’s 29-9, but didn’t see much time in the second half.

* Glen Davis gave a hard foul to Brandon Jennings early in the fourth quarter. Jennings didn’t care for it and they both received technical fouls after the play.

* Carlos Delfino’s 3-point shooting kept the Bucks in the game early, but he he almost shot them out of it late.

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