|Fast break: Celtics edged by Bucks||03.09.10 at 10:28 pm ET|
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.
* 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.
* Carlos Delfino’s 3-point shooting kept the Bucks in the game early, but he he almost shot them out of it late.
|Third quarter: Celtics-Bucks||at 9:47 pm ET|
After three quarters, we’ve got a good game brewing in Milwaukee with the Celtics holding a 68-64 lead. Both teams are shooting right around 47 percent. The Celtics have shot 20 free throws to the Bucks eight, but Milwaukee has gone 6-for-10 from 3-point range.
Kevin Garnett has already recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Rajon Rondo has 12 points, six assists and one vicious put-back slam dunk. Milwaukee’s Andrew Bogut has been a one-man wrecking crew with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
|Halftime: Celtics-Bucks||at 9:05 pm ET|
Finley made his first shot, a 17-footer and also knocked down his first 3-pointer giving him five points. Marquis Daniels also has five points, while Nate Robinson leads the bench with six points, two steals and untold amounts of energy. The Celtics bench is outscoring their Milwaukee counterparts, 20-8.
Carlos Delfino has 11 points for the Bucks and he made all three of his 3-point attempts. His shooting is keeping them in the game.
|First quarter: Celtics-Bucks||at 8:34 pm ET|
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 in the first quarter as Bogut killed the Celtics with 10 points and six rebounds.
Despite Bogut’s brilliance the Celtics trail by only two, 24-22 as Nate Robinson buried two timely 3-pointers at the end of the quarter. Robinson’s shotmaking was just about the only bright spot for the Celtics thus far.
|Preview: Celtics-Bucks||at 11:05 am ET|
Quick: Who is the hottest team in the Eastern Conference? The Celtics, who have won four straight and seven of their last 10? Nope. The Cavs? The Magic? No and no. The hottest team in the Eastern Conference is the Milwaukee Bucks and has been since the trade deadline when the acquired John Salmons from the Bulls.
The addition of Salmons has given the Bucks a much-needed perimeter threat to take the pressure off rookie point guard Brandon Jennings and also aided the development of Andrew Bogut, who is putting it all together in his fifth season. The Bucks have played great defense all season. They rank third in defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) and their low-risk (fourth best at not turning it over), deliberate offensive sets don’t hurt their defensive rep either.
While Salmons gives them a shooter and a scorer that they lacked, the other reason for their success has been the play of backup point guard Luke Ridnour, who has been one of the best-kept secrets in the NBA. Ridnour is in the midst of a career-season and since Bucks coach Scott Skiles knows what he’s doing, Ridnour’s also plays crunch-time minutes when the situation arises.
A few weeks ago, the Bobcats looked like the emerging team in the bottom five of the East. Now that team appears to be the Bucks, a young team playing well with a solid coach and nothing to lose. That’s a tough combination in a first-round playoff matchup.
CELTICS (40-21, 7-3 last 10)
Points Per Game: 98.4
Points Allowed: 93.8
Differential: +4.6 (6th)
Offensive Efficiency: 106.9 (14th)
Defensive Efficiency: 101.9 (1st)
Pace: 91.6 (22nd)
BUCKS (33-29, 9-1 last 10)
Points Per Game: 98.1
Points Allowed: 96.5
Differential: +1.6 (13th)
Offensive Efficiency: 104.5 (23rd)
Defensive Efficiency: 102.8 (3rd)
Pace: 907. (26th)
|Garnett: Ray is playing ‘beautiful basketball’||03.08.10 at 1:02 pm ET|
Ray Allen’s clutch performance on Sunday night was a thing of beauty – to fans and teammates alike.
‘A huge weapon,” Garnett said. “You know him and P [Paul Pierce] can put up a lot of points in a hurry. That’s big. We have to get them open. You know our job is to get them open. I thought that once he got into a nice, little rhythm, I think that everyone else, you know fed off of that a little bit. When it was time to really get him opened for the three, we got him open, and he hit a big shot.’
Garnett has seen Allen suddenly get hot after the All-Star break, carrying the Celtics offense while Pierce nursed a sore thumb.
‘I can just say that each player has their time where they play up and down,” Garnett said. “That is the nature of the season. You know, you guys don’t know but he deals with a lot of different things with injuries, you know we all deal with different types of physical stuff. He is no different than that. At the same time he had talks of business, about where he was going to be in his future and stuff. I can just tell that he is a lot more healthier. Everything that he is doing is a lot more fluid. He is not thinking a lot, he is just reacting and his beautiful basketball.’
Paul Pierce had a slightly different take.
While happy with the win, Pierce realizes the team should have had that intensity all along against a Washington team that has just 21 wins this season. Read the rest of this entry »
|Ray: We probably got away with one||at 12:20 am ET|
Ray Allen felt comfortable all night.
With a game-high 25 points and 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the 3-point line, the stats say as much.
The problem was ‘ for 42 minutes ‘ the Washington Wizards felt just as good in nearly everything they did.
With the Celtics down 13 points, that’s when Allen said the C’s finally got to their opponent, opening the door for him to play hero in the final 93 seconds.
‘It was night and day. We put a lot of pressure on them. We made them play away from the basket. We forced them to be more uncomfortable than we did in the first half,” said Allen, whose trey with 17.1 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in Boston’s 86-83 win.
Asked if the Celtics might have gotten away with a win when maybe they didn’t deserve one, Allen was as honest as he could be.
‘You could say probably in a small way we did,” he admitted. “But we fought for it, we never gave up or thought it was over with, so it bowed in our favor tonight.’