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Preview: Celtics-Sixers 03.05.10 at 10:57 am ET
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A question that has been hanging in the air during this Celtics season: Should they be more aggressive? Should the Celtics be a little more (choose your adjective here) physical, punishing, nasty?

Paul Pierce certainly thought so. “That’s who are, truthfully,” he said after Wednesday’s game that featured a minor run-in with Stephen Jackson. “We’re a team that usually intimidates.” Pierce was quick to add that he didn’t advocate crossing whatever arbitrary line is drawn in the NBA sand these days regarding physical play.

Certainly the Celtics aren’t about to emulate the 90’s “no layups” Knicks, mostly because the rules have changed to the point where no one can play that kind of rough and tumble basketball without getting half the roster suspended. The Celtics are up among the league leaders in technical fouls with 77 (Orlando of all teams is the leader in the clubhouse with 79), but that’s more agitation than intimidation.

They’ve been called bullies and trash talkers before, but that’s a different thing, as well. The Celtics have played 59 games and they still seem like a team that is searching for an identity. Perhaps their old one fit just fine.

SIXERS (22-38, 3-7 last 10)

Points Per Game: 97.6

Points Allowed: 101.0

Differential: -3.4 (21st)

Offensive Efficiency: 105.6 (21st)

Defensive Efficiency: 109.2 (22nd)

Pace: 91.8 (21st)

Likely Staters: Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Sam Dalembert

Injuries: Elton Brand (Achilles, questionable), Mareese Speights (Knee, questionable), Allen Iverson (Personal)

CELTICS (38-21, 6-4 last 10)

Points Per Game: 98.7

Points Allowed: 94.1

Differential: +4.6 (7th)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.1 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 102.1 (2nd)

Pace: 91.7 (22nd)

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

Injuries: None.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Larry Brown: Don’t panic, Boston 03.03.10 at 11:43 pm ET
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Bobcats coach Larry Brown has a simple message for Celtics fans and others proclaiming an early demise for the Green in early March. Just relax.

“They buried us two games,” Brown said after his team lost 104-80 Wednesday night. In Boston’s home opener on Oct. 28, the Celtics prevailed, 92-59.

“But I don’€™t buy all this stuff that they’€™re in trouble.  They’€™ve had some injuries.  They’€™re just starting to get healthy.  They got some new players like [Marquis] Daniels and Nate [Robinson] now, Rasheed [Wallace].  They’€™re gonna be fine.  They got a great coach, they got great chemistry.  They’€™re gonna be fine.  I think everybody has bad periods but when you put the injuries they faced, all that’€™s done is develop depth.”

[Click here to hear Larry Brown rave about the Celtics.]

Brown has heard the naysayers proclaim the Celtics aren’t going anywhere because they’re old, because they can’t win at home and because they’ve lost the fire of a champion. Paul Pierce came out on fire Wednesday, scoring 27 points, one point for each minute he played.

“They’€™re gonna be alright,” Brown continued. “They play like this, this is the way Paul Pierce plays.  Garnett was phenomenal.  But I just like all the little pieces they have because I think Danny [Ainge] has done a tremendous job putting them in a position where they can play with just about anybody.’€

And Brown said no one could have beaten the Celtics they way they torched his team Wednesday.

“I don’€™t think anyone could have played in that environment,” Brown added. “They played great, they made shots, they executed great.  We played hard but there were too many obstacles. But they played great.  One time I think they were 10 for 12 from three.  They shot 60% in the first half.  Shared the ball.  There bench was great.  There bench was great last night.  So if we had played our best I don’€™t know if that would have been good enough.”

Read More: Bobcats, Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Larry Brown
Jackson: Pierce challenged my manhood at 11:03 pm ET
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Before Wednesday’s game, Celtics captain Paul Pierce made it a point to speak out for his team, letting them all know that nothing less than dominance at home would be acceptable the rest of the way.

During the game, that vocal spirit apparently offended Charlotte’s Stephen Jackson.

Following Wednesday night’s blowout 104-80 win by the Celtics, Jackson took issue with trash-talking by the Celtics and Pierce in particular.

“It turned disrespectful when certain things were said,” Jackson said. “You can be emotional in the game and you talk to your teammates and do all that but when you get personal and direct certain things to people as far as their manhood, that’s when the problems come up. And I guarantee you that if I wasn’t in this gym, that wouldn’t have been said to me.”

Pierce and Jackson got into a verbal battle and were each called for technical fouls with 7:31 remaining in the third quarter as Jackson was preparing to shoot free throws

[Click here to listen to Stephen Jackson speak out against the Celtics.]

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Read More: Bobcats, Celtics, NBA, Paul Pierce
Fast Break: Celts rip Bobcats at 9:58 pm ET
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Now, this is what the Celtics have been looking for.

Playing the second night of a back-to-back, and at home where they have struggled incomprehensibly this season, the Celtics finally put together a complete game in a 104-80 destruction of the Charlotte Bobcats Wednesday night at TD Garden.

The Celtics shot 54 percent, while holding the Bobcats to 36 percent shooting. It was eerily reminiscent of their first meeting of the season way back in October when the Celtics won 92-59.

The starters were solid, the bench was terrific, everyone is healthy and for the first time in a long time the Celtics looked like the team we’ve grown accustomed to watching over the last two and a half seasons.

Turning Point: Coming out for the second half the Celtics had a nine-point lead, which was nice but considering the way they had played for most of the half should have been much higher. Another night of post-game laments seemed imminent. But the Celtics flipped the script, outscoring Charlotte 28-16 in the third quarter. It was the kind of third-quarter effort that has been lacking since December.

Player of the Game: Paul Pierce scored 27 points in just 27 minutes of action. He made nine of 13 shots and was 4-for-6 from 3-point range. That’s impressive in and of itself, but what made Pierce’s performance even more remarkable is that the 27 points was the most he has scored in a game since scoring 35 against the Hawks on Jan. 29.

* Things got testy midway through the quarter when Stephen Jackson and Pierce received double technical fouls. A few minutes later Tyrus Thomas picked one up as well.

* Ray Allen scored only three points and took just two shots in 17 minutes. He had early foul trouble and never got on track, but the Celtics didn’t need him on this night.

* The Celtics led by as many as 17 points in the second quarter before the Bobcats cut the lead down to four.

* Nate Robinson electrified the crowd with a buzzer-beater 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter. He made his first four shots, all 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.

* Kendrick Perkins returned to the lineup after missing the previous game with the flu and scored five points early.

Read More: Bobcats, Celtics, Fast Break,
Third quarter: Celtics-Bobcats at 9:23 pm ET
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Looking to put some distance between themselves and the Bobcats, the Celtics finally put together a complete third quarter turning a nine-point halftime lead into an 82-61 advantage.

Paul Pierce continued his hot shooting and scored 13 of his 27 points in the quarter. It’s the most points for Pierce since he scored 35 against the Hawks in late January. Kevin Garnett is the only starter in double-figures with 12 points. Somewhat surprisingly, Ray Allen has scored only three points and taken just two shots.

Things got testy midway through the quarter when Stephen Jackson and Paul Pierce received double technical fouls. A few minutes later Tyrus Thomas picked one up as well.

Read More: Bobcats, Celtics,
First quarter: Celtics-Bobcats at 8:10 pm ET
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The Celtics came into this game with an obvious objective: Begin repairing their image at home. Through 27 games at the Garden, the Celtics have a 16-11 record. The only NBA team in playoff contention with a worse mark is the Miami Heat.

Poor starts have been to blame for the Celtics struggles at home and the starters got it half right against the Bobcats, clicking offensively but allowing the Bobcats to get what they wanted on the other end. Fortunately, the second unit flipped the script and led the Celtics to a 31-21 lead.

Nate Robinson made a pair of 3-pointers, including a buzzer-beater at the end of the quarter.

Kendrick Perkins returned to the lineup after missing the previous game with the flu and scored five points early. Ray Allen picked up two fouls and played only six minutes.

Read More: Bobcats, Celtics,
Preview: Celtics-Bobcats at 10:14 am ET
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It has been said that athletic frontcourts are the Celtics Achilles heel. The Hawks, as everyone knows, swept the Celtics this season, and last week the Cavaliers unleashed the hounds once Shaquille O’Neal left the game. Those teams have proven to be too quick on the dribble and on the boards for the Celtics aging frontcourt to handle.

Of the teams alive in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, only one really fits that description: the Bobcats. Unlike the Hawks and the Cavs, however, Charlotte’s athletic frontcourt is better suited for defense than for offense. The Bobcats are one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA. They don’t shoot well, they’re not particularly strong on the offensive glass and they turn it over as much as the Celtics.

They are also thin in the backcourt and injured up front with three centers on the shelf for tonight’s game. But they are dangerous, more so now with the addition of Tyrus Thomas the one-time Chicago Bull headache. The Cats are dangerous because they slow the game down to a crawl and play terrific half-court defense, a staple of Larry Brown-coached teams.

If the Celtics were to meet the Bobcats in the playoffs (and if Charlotte was healthy) it could be the proverbial bad matchup for the C’s. Tonight’s game should give something of an indication if that indeed would be the case.

BOBCATS (28-30, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 94.9

Points Allowed: 94.3

Differential: +.6 (15th)

Offensive Efficiency: 103.9 (24th)

Defensive Efficiency: 103.2 (5th)

Pace: 90.6 (27th)

Likely Starters: Ray Felton, Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Theo Ratliff

Injuries: Tyson Chandler (Knee), DeSagana Diop (Knee), Nazr Mohammed (Back, questionable)

CELTICS (37-21, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 98.6

Points Allowed: 94.3

Differential: +4.3 (7th)

Offensive Efficiency: 106.8 (14th)

Defensive Efficiency: 102.2 (2nd)

Pace: 91.7 (21st)

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

Injuries: Perkins (Flu, questionable) Read the rest of this entry »

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