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Pierce out with right thumb, flu 02.23.10 at 6:57 pm ET
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Paul Pierce will miss the game with the Knicks with an injured right thumb and didn’t make the trip into the Garden as he is also suffering from the flu. Marquis Daniels will start in his place.

“It’s just a hurt hand so we’re just going to go one day at a time,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s not even in the building tonight. He has the flu, too. He would’ve played if he didn’t have the hand injury. With the flu, we just told him to stay home.”

Rivers said he was not aware if tests have been performed on Pierce’s right thumb.

“If we have, I don’t know. I’m assuming we have but I actually don’t know the answer,” Rivers added.

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Nate: Willing to help ‘by any means’ at 6:11 pm ET
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Nate Robinson promised his new teammates and fans that they are going to see a determined player as he begins his Celtics career in Boston. “It’s a brand new start,” said Robinson, who was seated next to Marcus Landry, the other player acquired in the trade with the Knicks.

“I’m just looking to keep my mind free and no detours. I’m on track and not looking for any detours. I’m just going to have my mind focused on the prize and that’s to win games in the playoffs and win a championship and help this team to that by any means, whether I play one minute or 30 minutes, I’m going to be here whenever my number is called, I’ll be ready to play.”

[Click here to hear some audio highlights of Nate Robinson's press conference before Tuesday's game.]

Robinson, after missing his first two games with an illness, will make his debut against his former Knicks team at TD Garden.

[Click here to hear Nate Robinson's opening remarks followed by Marcus Landry's remarks.]

Here are the highlights of Robinson’s press conference before members of the New York and Boston media. Read the rest of this entry »

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Preview: Celtics-Knicks at 10:20 am ET
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Eddie House won't be in a Celtics uniform, but he'll be back on the parquet when the Celtics host the Knicks tonight. (AP)

Eddie House won't be in a Celtics uniform, but he'll be back on the parquet when the Celtics host the Knicks tonight. (AP)

When last we saw the Celtics in Boston, they were blowing a huge third-quarter lead against the Orlando Magic and causing nearly everyone to abandon ship. That was on Super Bowl Sunday. Since then, we’ve seen Peyton Manning choke, the United States win 25 medals in the Olympics and Tiger Woods kind of apologize.

Since then we’ve also seen the Celtics manage to win the first three games of a treacherous West Coast road trip (including sweeping the Lakers and Blazers in a back-to-back, which ranks near the top of the NBA in degree of difficulty) before getting blitzed in a first-quarter barrage in a loss against the Nuggets.

In other words, a lot can change in two weeks.

In the games since the All-Star break, Ray Allen has rediscovered his shooting touch, Kevin Garnett has looked more athletic than he has since December and Rasheed Wallace looks like he cares. That last part is a cheap shot, but it accurately encapsulates how a lot of people feel about this Celtics run.

The question is: Are the Celtics capable of turning it on and off whenever they want, and is this what happened over the first half of the season when uneven performances and second-half collapses became the norm? The showed out west just how good they can be even with Paul Pierce dealing with his various injuries. Now they just have to do it consistently before everyone can believe it again.

KNICKS (19-36, 1-9 last 10)

Points Per Game: 100.9

Points Allowed: 104.1

Differential: -3.2 (21st)

Offensive Efficiency: 106.6 (15th)

Defensive Efficiency: 109.7 (24th)

Pace: 94.0 (7th)

Likely Starters: Sergio Rodriguez, Tracy McGrady, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, David Lee

Injuries: McGrady (knee, questionable)

CELTICS (35-19, 6-4 last 10)

Points Per Game: 98.5

Points Allowed: 93.6

Differential: +4.9 (4th)

Offensive Efficiency: 106.8 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.5 (1st)

Pace: 91.7 (21st)

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

Injuries: Pierce (thumb, questionable) Read the rest of this entry »

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Third quarter wrap: Celtics-Blazers 02.20.10 at 12:36 am ET
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The defensive effort that the Celtics rode in the second quarter carried over to the third as they maintained a 73-61 lead despite struggling on offense. The Celtics scored just 17 points in the quarter, but they have held Portland to 34 percent shooting through three quarters.

Rajon Rondo and Rasheed Wallace both picked up technical fouls in the quarter. Wallace had his technical from Thursday night rescinded. Assuming he keeps this one, he now has 13 technical fouls this season. His 16th would trigger an automatic suspension.

Portland got two cheap points late in the quarter as Brian Scalabrine threw an errant inbounds pass under his own basket that was picked off by Jerryd Bayless, who then converted a layup.

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Halftime wrap: Celtics vs. Blazers 02.19.10 at 11:43 pm ET
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After a hot start offensively, the Celtics put the clamps down defensively, holding the Blazers to just three field goals in the quarter to take a 56-38 lead into halftime.

Portland scored just six points in the first six minutes of the quarter as the Celtics built a 45-31 lead with their second unit. The starters picked it up from there as Kevin Garnett knocked down his first 3-pointer of the season on a desperation heave as the shot clock expired. Garnett followed that with a length-of-the-floor layup off a feed from Rajon Rondo.

The Celtics physical defense got to the Blazers late in the half as Kendrick Perkins and Andre Miller became entangled under the basket. Perkins and Juwan Howard were assessed double technical fouls

Rondo capped off the quarter with a buzzer-beating 20-foot jump shot. He has eight points and nine assists, while Garnett leads all scorers with 13 points and seven rebounds.

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First quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Blazers at 11:03 pm ET
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Playing the second night of a back-to-back the Celtics looked sharp. They made 14 of their first 18 shots and held Portland to 43 percent shooting en route to taking a 32-25 lead. Kevin Garnett started the game 4-for-4 for eight points and four rebound and Rajon Rondo dished out six assists in addition to six points.

Paul Pierce was a game-time decision, but was in the starting lineup as usual. Portland’s Brandon Roy, who is dealing with a hamstring injury, also started. The Blazers had new addition Marcus Camby in the starting lineup. New Celtics Nate Robinson did not play and will make his debut Sunday against the Nuggets.

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Fast Break: Celtics vs. Lakers at 1:26 am ET
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Danny Ainge made his trade deadline move and, all things considered, it was a relatively minor one. He effectively traded Eddie House for Nate Robinson and while it will give the second unit a different look, it doesn’t do a lot to alter the makeup of this team.

The Celtics hopes will still rise and fall primarily upon the health and effectiveness of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. To that end Allen looked positively rejuvenated and Garnett looked like the 2007 version of himself in an emotional 87-86 victory over the Lakers Thursday night in Los Angeles.

The Big Three will get at least one more chance to see if they can win a championship together. That’s what they have been asking for the last few weeks and now that the final decision has been made there can be no more excuses. It’s on them to turn it around in the final 30 games and through the playoffs.

Turning Point: For three quarters the Celtics controlled the matchup, but when the Lakers made their inevitable run to start the fourth quarter and turned a nine-point deficit into a four-point lead, the Celtics had a decision to make. They could retreat into a shell, as they have done so often the last few weeks, or they could stand and fight. They chose to fight.

Player of the Game: Ray Allen. It’s dangerous to read too much into a player’s one-game performance but Allen resembled the dangerous outside shooter that he’s been known for being throughout his career. He made his first four shots and finished with 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Was he more relaxed after the trade deadline passed? Who knows for sure, but if this is the Allen the Celtics can get night in and night out for the rest of the season, it will go a long way toward making them a serious contender again.

* The game was physical throughout with several big dunks and a few minor staredowns. Ron Artest and Pierce continued their rivalry, Garnett and Lamar Odom exchanged words after a jump ball and Kendrick Perkins and Andrew Bynum battled under the glass.

* The officials let the two teams play for the most and both sides wanted calls in the final seconds of the game. Doc Rivers could be seen asking the refs, “That wasn’t a foul?” after Pierce drove to the basket. On the other end, the Lakers though Allen fouled Derek Fisher’s last-second shot.

* Rasheed Wallace missed nine of his first 10 shots and picked up a technical foul when he tangled with Pau Gasol at midcourt. After several solid outings, it was not a good night for Wallace.

* Kobe Bryant didn’t play for the Lakers. He is battling an assortment of injuries but it’s his ankle that seems to be giving him the most trouble.

* Robinson and Marcus Landry, the other player acquired from the Knicks in exchange for House, J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker did not play. The Celtics had only 11 players in uniform and lost Tony Allen with an ankle injury, but Doc Rivers stayed with a tight rotation throughout.

* All five started scored in double figures.

* Once again Rondo was on the floor for the final offensive possession. The play involved Pierce and Garnett in a high pick and roll, but without House, expect to see more of that.

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