|Preview: Celtics-Hawks||01.29.10 at 10:18 am ET|
Kevin Garnett insisted to one and all Thursday night that he wasn’t hurt and that he just played like a euphemism for garbage. Certainly Garnett is entitled to an off night just three games into his comeback, but the problem is that no one really believes him.
Because of the way his comeback ended last season and because of the way his injuries were handled this season (10 days, 10 more days, etc.), he and the Celtics, frankly, don’t have a lot of credibility on the issue. However, Garnett had a string of lackluster performances earlier in the season where he looked slow and old and then rebounded to play his best stretch in over a calendar year. So, perhaps there’s hope that Thursday was just a momentary blip.
We should find out a lot Friday night when the Celtics play the Hawks and Garnett matches up against what should be a highly-motivated Josh Smith. Not only is it the second game of a back-to-back, but Garnett will be facing a player who is a decade younger and who should be (justifiably) ticked that he was left off the All-Star team. If you’re on the KG watch, it starts tonight.
CELTICS (29-14, 4-6 last 10)
Points Per Game: 99.6
Points Allowed: 93.7
Differential: +5.9 (3rd)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.9 (13th)
Defensive Efficiency: 101.6 (1st)
Pace: 91.6 (22nd)
Injuries: Marquis Daniels (thumb)
HAWKS (29-15, 7-3 last 10)
Points Per Game: 102.6
Points Allowed: 97.3
Differential: +5.3 (Fifth)
Offensive Efficiency: 111.9 (3rd)
Defensive Efficiency: 106.1 (12th)
Pace: 91.1 (25th)
Injuries: None Read the rest of this entry »
|Fast break: Celtics-Magic||01.28.10 at 11:06 pm ET|
This is what it takes to win on the road against good teams in the NBA. The Celtics outplayed the Magic for three and a half quarters, but a combination of hot shooting and a one-sided free throw discrepency allowed Orlando to get back into the game.
Down the stretch the Celtics seemed to make all the right plays. Rajon Rondo stole a possession by diving on the floor and outhustling Vince Carter. Rondo then scored on a tough drive to the hoop to give the Celtics a three-point lead with less than a minute to play. They did everything right, and then they lost it in the final 34 seconds.
The Celtics lost 96-94 after Rashard Lewis drove around Kevin Garnett on a busted play, while Rasheed Wallace’s weakside help was two steps too late. They lost after J.J. Redick made an improbable 3-pointer to tie the game seconds earlier. They lost after the Magic took 40 free throws to the Celtics 18, and they lost after two Eddie House 3-pointers were changed to 2’s.
After all that the Celtics still had a chance to come away with the victory, but Wallace’s 3-pointer at the buzzer sailed wide of the basket. It was a solid, even inspired performance for about 40 of the game’s 48 minutes, but it still wasn’t enough to get the win.
Player of the Game: Rashard Lewis made big shot after big shot for the Magic, but none was bigger than his drive to the hoop in the final seconds. The Celtics actually played good defense on the play as Paul Pierce denied Carter a chance to get the ball, which found its way into Lewis’ hands instead. He drove right around Garnett and laid in the winning points.
Turning Point: Stan Van Gundy made the biggest coaching move of the night, literally, when he brought Marcin Gortat into the game with Dwight Howard and played Lewis at the 3-spot. The Magic were down by double digits when Van Gundy went to the super-sized lineup, but took the lead late in the fourth quarter.
* Kendrick Perkins spent the majority of the first half in foul trouble, but so did Dwight Howard. Call it a draw.
* Orlando had just one assist in the first half and shot 33 percent.
* The Magic cut the Celtics lead to just six points midway through the first half. Then Brian Scalabrine knocked down a corner 3-pointer. On the next possession, Ray Allen hit from long distance on transition and the lead was back up to 12. This pattern repeated itself in the third quarter, but the Celtics once again made shots at the right time. Eddie House buried a 3-pointer with just over a second remaining to put the Celtics up 12 going into the fourth quarter.
* Wallace picked up a technical foul for yelling, “And one,” after a made basket. He also unleashed the loudest “BALL DON’T LIE,” of the season. Unofficially.
* Allen had a bounceback shooting night, going 8-for-12 and 4-for-8 from 3-point range. But he missed a shot that could have put the Celtics ahead late in the game.
|Preview: Celtics-Magic||at 10:31 am ET|
During the course of a long season it is customary for players and coaches to downplay significant games on the schedule. In the matter of the Celtics‘ three-game stretch that begins tonight in Orlando, continues Friday in Atlanta and concludes back home on Sunday against the Lakers, a curious thing has happened. Everyone connected with the Celtics seems to view these games as meaningful and important.
“We understand that these are three great games to be able to play,” Doc Rivers said Wednesday on Dennis & Callahan. “Coaches look forward to them and players look forward to them as well. Once they’re over then they become one of the 82. There’s no doubt that players look forward to them.”
Danny Ainge also acknowledged their importance. “I think it will tell us a lot about our depth, our conditioning and the quality of our play right now,” he said on The Big Show.
Each game has its own personality. The Magic offer the most compelling 1-through-5 matchups, while the Hawks present their in-season mastery of the Celtics as a hurdle to climb. The Lakers provide their own drama, of course. This is not a make-or-break stretch for the Celtics by any means, but it will reveal something about who they are and where they are going.
CELTICS (29-13, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 99.7
Points Allowed: 93.7
Differential: +6.0 (3rd)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.9 (13th)
Defensive Efficiency: 101.4 (1st)
Pace: 91.7 (22nd)
MAGIC (29-16, 505 last 10)
Points Per Game: 101.1
Points Allowed: 96.3
Differential: +4.8 (7th)
Offensive Efficiency: 108.4 (11th)
Defensive Efficiency: 103.2 (5th)
Pace: 93.1 (12th)
Injuries: None Read the rest of this entry »
|How Rondo is like Brett Favre||01.26.10 at 9:57 pm ET|
Rivers has spent the last three years trying to instill in Rajon Rondo the kind of traits Rivers used to gain a reputation as one of the best defensive guards in the NBA in the 1980s.
Right now, Rivers knows the reputation Rondo has around the league. Go at Rondo and make him try to stop you, since defense hasn’t always come naturally for the guard. On Tuesday, following practice, Rivers drew a analogy between Rondo and another pro athlete.
“I think teams try to go at Rondo because of his size and because they want to try and get him to gamble,” Rivers said. “It’s like trying to make Brett Favre try and throw across his body. It’s who you are, and teams know that and try to take advantage of that.”
[Click here to hear Doc Rivers talk about how defense led to Rondo's development into a possible All-Star]
Like Favre on Sunday with an ill-advised cross-body pass that was picked, Rondo’s season came to a bitter end in Game 7 last spring against the Orlando Magic, a game in which some critics felt Rondo hurt the team by constantly gambling for steals instead of playing solid defense on Orlando’s dangerous backcourt. Read the rest of this entry »
|Glen Davis: Don’t play if you’re not a competitor||at 7:44 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics leave Wednesday morning to begin one of their toughest four-day stretches of the season. On Thursday, they play in Orlando, followed by a road game in Atlanta the next night.
‘Huge,” Glen Davis said of the week. “These are big, big, big games. If you’re not a competitor, you don’t need to play in these games. This is a great opportunity for us to keep our win streak alive and also get better with playoff-contending teams. We’re looking forward to the challenge. Every game is big but these games are bigger.’
Speaking of Davis, he said he is on a new path when it comes to his former moniker – ‘Big Baby’
‘Big Baby will always be a part of me. But I’m going to put Big Baby on the shelf ‘ for now,’ he said.
Asked why Davis, No. 11, is leaning toward ‘Uno, Uno’ as a new nickname, Davis pointed toward Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. Davis doesn’t feel the need to formally change his last name, just his handle.
“Every sport has their version of nicknames,” Davis said. “He paved the way. Knock off or not, I’m a different player than Ochocinco. He plays football. I play basketball.”
Davis wouldn’t be the first pro athlete in Boston to follow the Cincinnati receiver’s lead. In 2008, Jonathan Papelbon had ‘Cinco Ocho’ T-shirts made up sporting the reverse of the famous wide receiver, and representing the No. 58 on the back of Papelbon’s uniform.
|Scal cleared to play, Marquis begins drills||at 4:12 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Brian Scalabrine returned to Celtics practice on Tuesday and was cleared to play on the team’s upcoming trip to Orlando and Atlanta. He had missed two games with separated right shoulder, injured on Jan. 6 in Miami.
“Scal practiced today and showed no sign of injury,” coach Doc Rivers announced following practice. “He shot two airballs and I was like, ‘Scal’s back.’ He’s good. He’ll play.”
Rivers said that Marquis Daniels participated in passing drills for the first time since surgery on his left thumb. Rivers is hopeful Daniels could re-join the team the first game back from the All-Star break.
Daniels missed his 22nd straight game on Monday night, before which Rivers indicated there was a “slight chance” the guard/forward could return on Feb. 10 in New Orleans, the final game before the All-Star break.
|Mr. Smith comes back to Boston||at 2:24 am ET|
BOSTON — For all the attention paid to the return of Marcus Camby to town as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, it’s easy to forget another former New England college star who came back on Monday night at TD Garden.
In his senior season, he averaged 17.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.8 blocked shots as the Eagles reached the Sweet 16. There, they lost a heartbreaker to Villanova at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. He also attended Worcester Academy for a year as a post-graduate student before college.
When the time arrived to turn pro following his four years at BC, he was regarded as one of the most promising young power forwards in the draft. Yes, he was just 6-7 but he could rebound and proved he had a scorer’s mentality in college. Those factors were enough for the Timberwolves to take him in the second round (36th overall) in the 2006 NBA draft.
On Monday night, Smith scored 13 points in 21 minutes for the Clippers in a 95-89 loss to the Celtics.
‘Craig’s been giving us a lot of good work off the bench the last couple of weeks, and you know when we’re scoring down there, we’ve been going to him and he’s been able to deliver for us and we had a good mix,” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. “Like I said, hey, we had good inside opportunities, we got to the free throw line some, and we didn’t convert on some fast break opportunities and some wide open shots and that was the big difference for us.’ Read the rest of this entry »