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Pacquiao fights for the Celtics 03.10.10 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.

Read More: Celtics, Lakers, Manny Pacquiao, NBA
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 »

Read More: Celtics, Grizzlies, Preview,
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.

Read More: Bucks, Celtics, Fast Break,
Third quarter: Celtics-Bucks at 9:47 pm ET
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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.

Read More: Bucks, Celtics,
Halftime: Celtics-Bucks at 9:05 pm ET
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Michael Finley debuted for the Celtics and he and the bench helped push the Celtics to a 46-42 lead at the half.

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.

Kevin Garnett added eight points and nine rebounds and Rajon Rondo has eight points and four assists. Fresh off his 25-point effort against the Wizards, Ray Allen has taken just one shot.

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.

Read More: Bucks, Celtics,
First quarter: Celtics-Bucks at 8:34 pm ET
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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.

Read More: Bucks, Celtics,
Preview: Celtics-Bucks at 11:05 am ET
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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)

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

Injuries: None.

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)

Likely Starters: Brandon Jennings, John Salmons, Carlos Delfino, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Andrew Bogut

Injuries: Michael Redd (Knee surgery, out) Read the rest of this entry »

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