|Preview: Celtics vs. Hornets||02.10.10 at 10:09 am ET|
This marks the end of the unofficial first half of the regular season and the Celtics remain something of an enigma. Despite all their struggles over the last month and a half, the Celtics remain one of the top teams in the league according to all the best indicators–record, point differential, etc.
Since Christmas, however, the Celtics are just 10-12. That’s a significant chunk of the season in which they have played more like the Bulls then the Cavaliers, the latter of which has won 19 of 22 games during that same stretch.
Coming out of the All-Star break the Celtics go on a long west coast trip and will endure a March in which they play 17 games in 31 days. At the beginning of the season that looked like a good time to give their veteran players some rest before the playoffs. Now it looks like a survival test.
CELTICS (32-17, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 99.0
Points Allowed: 93.7
Differential: +5.3 (4th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.7 (13th)
Defensive Efficiency: 101.9 (1st)
Pace: 91.4 (22nd)
Injuries: Paul Pierce (Foot)
HORNETS (27-25, 4-6, last 10)
Points Per Game: 100.2
Points Allowed: 101.5
Differential: -1.3 (19th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.4 (14th)
Defensive Efficiency: 108.9 (20th)
Pace: 92.1 (19th)
|Video: Doc Rivers addresses the press at practice||02.09.10 at 2:00 pm ET|
|Doc: C’s ‘lean back too far on what they’ve done’||02.08.10 at 5:31 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Like everyone else, Doc Rivers has had his fill of his players saying they’re better than what they’ve been showing on the court of late.
“I think when you have a veteran team, there are several pitfalls,” Rivers said following practice Monday. “One, you’re a veteran team. Two, we’ll turn it on. I don’t buy into that, never have. Three, leaning back on your past success. Your past success is no guarantee to future success. I think this team leans back too far on what they’ve done and we have to get to work on what we’re going to do and I think that’s what we have to do a better job of.”
[Click here to hear Doc talk about his team.]
In the words of a famous football coach who coached the Patriots in the 1990s, ‘You are what your record says you are.’ For the Celtics, a 32-17 mark is good for third in the East behind Cleveland and Orlando.
He paraphrased Bill Parcells for his players on Monday before, during and after a practice.
“Enough with the talk,” Rivers said. “That’s basically it. I had a Conga line in my office today. That’s great, though. Guys want to do the right thing. I don’t think we have bad guys on our team, I know we don’t. But we have to do [right things]. All we keep talking, ‘You’re right and we’re going to do it,’ but we’re not doing it. That’s what we have to do.”
Monday was a good first step in a process that figures more like a grind as the team faces road games in the next two weeks against the Hornets, Lakers, Trail Blazers and Nuggets.
“They responded with a great practice so that’s good,” Rivers said. “But we have to, we have to get back to work, that workman’s mentality. We have to get back to wanting to be the best defensive team in the NBA. We have to get back to executing better. We can’t just rely on guys coming back off injury. That has thrown us off a little bit because of lack of practice time and all that, but I think that’s becoming an excuse around here. Read the rest of this entry »
|KG video: ‘It’s unpleasant’||02.07.10 at 7:10 pm ET|
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett reacted to Sunday’s 96-89 loss to the Orlando Magic.
“It’s unpleasant,” Garnett said. “We don’t like that at all. Our goal is to establish home court and try to add that as an advantage and we really haven’t done that consistently, at least against good teams.”
|Van Gundy won’t ‘bury’ Pierce, KG in All-Star Game||at 4:14 pm ET|
The temptation is there for Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy. As coach of the East in the NBA All-Star Game on Valentine’s Day, he knows he’ll have three Celtics at his beck and call. He would love to play them a lot, put a few more miles on their tires.
But with the two teams squaring off Sunday at the Garden, a week before the big game at Cowboys Stadium, he doesn’t see much point in wearing out Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo so Celtics coach Doc Rivers doesn’t have to worry too much.
“He’s got a better chance of me resting his guys because we don’t play him again. So, if we played him the week after the All-Star Game, they’d all go about 42 minutes,” Van Gundy joked before Sunday’s game. “But with us not playing them again, I can’t get much out of burying them.”
But seriously, Van Gundy has the challenge every coach in every sport has in an in-season All-Star Game. How do you manage players on competing teams in an exhibition game that means nothing in the standings?
“I would plan to get together with all of them, but particularly I know Paul and Kevin have had injury concerns and see where they are.”
[Click here to hear Van Gundy dish on the Celtics and the All-Star Game.]
So, in doing his homework, Van Gundy is consulting the Celtics — specifically assistant coach Mike Longabardi.
“I just told Michael Longbardi to make sure if Doc has concerns that he lets me know, too, ahead of time,” Van Gundy said.
“I’m not looking to hurt anybody, and at the same time, obviously, Kevin was voted into the game by the fans and Paul’s a perennial All-Star, so fans are going to want to see those guys, so you can’t play them five or six minutes. Particularly Kevin as a starter, he’s got to put in some minutes, but we’ll see where they are and where Doc is.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Second quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Magic||at 3:35 pm ET|
Playing one of their most complete quarters in recent memory, the Celtics opened up a 51-40 lead at the half.
The Celtics opened the second quarter with five reserves on the floor, a departure from their usual rotation of either Ray Allen or Paul Pierce teaming up with four bench players. The second unit responded well as Marquis Daniels scored six quick points on post-ups.
Rasheed Wallace also continued his mastery over Dwight Howard by getting Howard to commit a needless offensive foul, the third of the half for the All-Star big man. Howard played just eight minutes in the first half with two points and three rebounds.
The Celtics gradually built a lead that grew to double digits after Rajon Rondo found Pierce for a 3-pointer with a gorgeous look-away pass in traffic. Rondo has 11 points, three rebounds and four assists, while Allen also had 11 points and Pierce added nine. Kevin Garnett was held scoreless but contributed five rebounds and his usual stellar help defense.
|First quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Magic||at 3:00 pm ET|
With Paul Pierce back in the lineup, and Marquis Daniels suited up, the Celtics took the floor for the first time this season with all of their top rotation players. They came out suitably aggressive, attacking the basket and getting Dwight Howard in early foul trouble to take a 24-23 lead.
When Howard went to the bench, however, the Magic reeled off seven straight points to take a 17-16 lead. As he did in Orlando the last time these two teams played, Marcin Gortat gave the Magic energy when he came off the bench.
Pierce played 11 minutes and scored six points. Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo also scored six points apiece, while Jameer Nelson led all scorers with seven. Daniels checked in late in the quarter and received a nice ovation.
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