|Preview: Celtics-Rockets||04.02.10 at 11:05 am ET|
When the month of March began the Celtics were coming off a loss to the Nets and looking at 17 games in 31 days and 10 of those 17 at home. This was a chance for them to reassert themselves at TD Garden as well as get some of their pride back after struggling through January and February.
The Celtics went 11-6 in March and 7-3 at home, which are both solid marks, but not particularly noteworthy. They swept the Texas teams, but blew a halftime lead in Utah. They beat the Nuggets, but lost by 21 to the Spurs. They handled sub-500 teams on their schedule, but got crushed by Memphis. And, once again, they couldn’t hang with the Cavaliers for 48 minutes.
Have the Celtics improved over the last month? Absolutely. Have they inspired any more confidence that they have a serious postseason run in them? Not really. They are still in fourth place in the East and ninth in point differential. They remain good, maybe even dangerous, but outside the ranks of the top contenders.
ROCKETS (37-37, 4-6 last 10)
Points Per Game: 101.5
Points Allowed: 101.9
Differential: -.4 (16th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.0 (17th)
Defensive Efficiency: 107.4 (16th)
Pace: 93.8 (8th)
CELTICS (47-27, 6-4 last 10)
Points Per Game: 98.6
Points Allowed: 94.5
Differential: +4.1 (9th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.1 (16th)
Defensive Efficiency: 102.6 (2nd)
Pace: 91.7 (20th)
Injuries: Pierce (Shoulder, probable), Perkins (Knee, probable) Read the rest of this entry »
|Doc’s three-point plan for success||04.01.10 at 5:23 pm ET|
To that point, Doc Rivers outlined two areas he believes his team has improved since the All-Star break and one more he believes still needs work before the second season begins.
Rivers told reporters following Thursday’s practice that the team has cut down on its turnovers since the break and has done a better job of rebounding in recent games.
But the one area he still feels his team needs work on its weak-side defense. In other words, Rivers wants to see more green and white shirts flying to the open shooter and not allow wide open shots, especially from three-point range.
That was particularly evident on Wednesday when Jeff Green nailed back-to-back three-pointers in the final two minutes to seal Oklahoma City’s 109-104 win over the Celtics.
“Turnovers are going down but we’ve had the sporadic bad game,” Rivers said. “We’re rebounding better, we’ve had the sporadic bad game. And then there’s the weak-side defense.
“To me that’s the biggest concern, a guy is going to get beat off the dribble, that next guy being there to take the charge and the next guy being there to get his body in the way and then the next guy getting on that guy’s body. That’s the next step we have to make.”
Rivers also said his players were more upset with three free-throw discrepancy than he was.
“I thought we could’ve gone to the line more but I thought we could’ve been more aggressive going to the basket as well since we took a lot of threes,” Rivers said. “I thought they were complaining more they were playing good defense on some of those and they were playing good defense.”
|Celtics curse Kevin Durant||at 3:21 am ET|
You know you’re good when a pair of NBA veterans curse your performance after you lead your team to a win on their home court.
Kevin Durant is that good — and then some.
He scored from every spot on the court, including the free throw line — where he made all 15 attempts. When all was said and done, the Celtics watched him pour in 37 points in Oklahoma City’s 109-104 win over the Green on Wednesday at TD Garden.
‘It’s a team job to help out, period,” Rasheed Wallace said. “No matter whether it’s him or any other type of NBA All-Star, it’s a team effort to help out. It was a [pain], honestly. Helping Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] out, it’s just a team thing. Got to stay with him.’
As for those 15 free throws, compare that to the fact the Celtics as a team made just 13-of-17 attempts the entire game.
‘I thought we were playing Michael [expletive] Jordan tonight the way he was getting the whistle,” Kevin Garnett added. “Durant damn near shot more free throws than our whole team.’
‘We’ve grown, we’ve grown up,” Durant said. “We’ve added a lot of different pieces since our first year, me and Jeff. So it’s good to come in here and beat a team like Boston — a great team, a championship team like them. It’s all about moving on from here.
‘It means a lot for us, and like you say gives us confidence. We’ve got eight more games left, so we’ve just got to keep plugging away and keep pushing. This is another step for us. We’re happy with this win, but tomorrow we’ve got to let it go and get ready for Dallas.’
Maybe most impressive is the fact the Thunder shot 50 percent, 10 percent less than their opponent — on their opponent’s home court — and still managed to win.
‘If you want a tape about how to score the basketball, you’ve got to watch this game,” Durant said. “They scored it in a variety of ways and we scored in a variety of ways as well. Our point guard did a great job of starting us off early, getting to the rim and opening things up for everybody else. It was a great game as far as offensive is concerned. We’ve just got to work on our defense from here.’
Glen Davis was one of the last Celtics to give his take on Durant on Wednesday, and he didn’t even need any dirty words.
‘He’s a problem because you’ve got to pay attention to him,” Davis said. “You’ve got to make sure he doesn’t beat you, and he had a big game tonight. We’ve got to get him out of his comfort zone and make sure he doesn’t have 37, but he did.’
|Pierce, Garnett press conference||at 12:15 am ET|
|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.”
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