|Scal not likely to play this week||11.10.09 at 2:29 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Brian Scalabrine watched Tuesday’s practice on the sideline, still slowed by back spasms that forced him to miss last Friday’s game against Phoenix.
Scalabrine returned on Saturday night against the Nets and scored five points in 20 minutes off the bench, including a 3-pointer.
|Celts get back to business||11.09.09 at 5:06 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The infamous stretch of eight games in 12 days is behind the Celtics, who now have a little bit of time to tighten the things that began to get away from them over the weekend.
“Defense and offense, we were slipping in both areas,” Doc Rivers said after a two-hour session Monday. “Defensively, our transition defense was starting to struggle. Our pick-and-roll defense was really slipping. That’s why you need practices. We still have new guys, down the stretch of games that’s when it really shows.”
A popular topic of conversation was the number of 3-pointers the Celtics have taken so far this season. Through eight games the C’s have taken 154 3-pointers, and Rivers suggested after the loss to Phoenix that he thought his team was searching for the 3-point line instead of attacking the middle of the Suns defense, where the Celtics had so much success.
Rivers, though, said several times that he didn’t mind the amount of 3’s his team was hoisting and he clarified the remarks he made at the end of the Phoenix game.
“I don’t mind the amount of 3’s we’re taking at all,” Rivers said. “What I don’t want is at the end of the game, is settling for them. I think we thought that we needed 3’s to get back in the game and we didn’t. We just needed to play. As far as the amount of 3’s we’re taking, I’m fine with that. They’re good shots for us.”
One player in particular has stood out for his willingness to shoot the long ball: Rasheed Wallace. Wallace has shot 75 times this season, and 50 of his attempts have been from beyond the arc, which even for him is a little much — particularly because he went 0-for-10 against Phoenix and New Jersey. Still, Rivers insisted that there was nothing wrong with Wallace’s role.
“I have no problem with it,” Rivers said. “We’re 7-1 and Rasheed is a big reason for that. Even when he misses, he’s taking a [center] and making them stand out by the 3-point line when Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] are working down low, or Kevin [Garnett] or [Kendrick Perkins] or someone else. Obviously, we want to keep mixing it up and get him on the post and get Kevin on the post. His shooting is a big factor for us.”
A couple of things that are worth pointing out here:
1. The Celtics are averaging 19.3 3-point attempts per game, which ranks 12th in the NBA. In other words, the high volume of 3-point attempts is a league-wide trend.
2. The Celtics are making the 3’s at a rate of of just over 40 percent, which ranks fourth in the NBA.
3. They are holding teams to 32 percent shooting from 3-point range, which is tied for seventh.
So, the Celtics are making good use of the 3-point line, both offensively and defensively. There is ample evidence that suggests that teams that shoot more 3-pointers, and shoot them better, will win most of their games.
“I know this is a big deal all of a sudden here about 3-point attempts,” Rivers said. “I’m not upset at all. I like what we’re doing. We’re causing teams miserable problems because we’re spreading the floor.”
NOTES: Bill Walker practiced for the first time since undergoing knee surgery, while Brian Scalabrine sat out the sessions. Scalabrine was a DNP on Friday because of back spasms, but he suited up on Saturday while Marquis Daniels was away tending to a personal matter.
Walker still has a ways to go before he can get a chance at cracking the end of the rotation, but it does appear that his rehab is right on schedule, which is a good sign for the second-year forward, who has flashed interesting potential in his limited minutes.
“We didn’t hold him back at all,” Rivers said. “He was fine. I don’t know what his schedule was. I’m assuming it’s about on schedule because [trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] told me a week ago this is the day he’s going to practice.”
|Fast break: Celtics-Nets||11.07.09 at 9:56 pm ET|
This was a classic trap game for the Celtics. On the second day of a back-to-back and facing their eighth game in 12 days to open the season, this was an obvious letdown game for them on the calendar.
The Nets were also missing seven players due to a variety of injuries, including the swine flu for Chris Douglas-Roberts, and the Izod Center was half-empty. Add that all up and you have a recipe for a potential disaster.
The Celtics almost fell into the trap, but were able to put it together in the fourth quarter in an 86-76 victory, which gives them the best record in the NBA at 7-1.
Player of the game: Paul Pierce. Until the fourth quarter Pierce and Rajon Rondo were the only two Celtics doing anything offensively. Rondo was able to get his game going with steals on the defensive end, but Pierce got it done in the halfcourt. He also stepped in front of a rampaging Brook Lopez and took a charge.
It wasn’t a vintage Pierce game, but 16 points and seven assists looked pretty sweet in what was an otherwise ugly boxscore.
Turning point: The Celtics trailed by two points entering the fourth quarter and Pierce was on the bench with foul trouble. They needed someone to step up and make a shot and that someone was Brian Scalabrine, who knocked down two to give them a lead they never relinquished.
Scalabrine missed Friday night’s game with Phoenix because of back trouble, but the Celtics needed him to give it a go without Marquis Daniels (personal reasons) in the lineup.
* The Nets had just eight healthy players available for the game, which is the NBA minimum. They are without Courtney Lee, Devin Harris, Keyon Dolling, Jarvis Hayes, Yi Jianlin, Tony Battie and Chris Douglas-Roberts.
* With Daniels out, JR Giddens had a chance to play some meaningful minutes. Giddens lasted only two minutes before getting pulled.
* Ray Allen was on his way to another bad shooting night, but he turned it on in the fourth quarter making four straight shots.
* Rasheed Wallace missed all four of his 3-pointers and he is now 0-for-10 from distance in his last two games. But unlike Friday night’s game with Phoenix, he also went down into the post where he was able to operate effectively. He also came up with a handful of big defensive plays in the fourth quarter.
|Fast break: Celtics-Suns||11.06.09 at 10:04 pm ET|
The popular notion coming into Friday night’s game with Phoenix was that the super-fast Suns would run into a brick Celtics wall, but anyone expecting the Celtics to roll over the Suns was in for a surprise. In a hard-fought entertaining game, the Suns prevailed, 110-103, handing the Celtics their first loss of the season.
The Suns were blown out on Wednesday against Orlando (their first loss of the season) and came into this one with a bit of a chip on their shoulder and a feisty attitude. Channing Frye and Kendrick Perkins picked up double technicals at the end of the first half and there were more than a few wayward elbows getting tossed around.
The Celtics had a couple of chances to steal the game late, but Rajon Rondo had his layup blocked by Amare Stoudemire and a 3-pointer by Rasheed Wallace rattled in and out. Wallace was 0-for-6 on 3-point attempts and many of those shots met a similar fate.
Player of the game: Steve Nash. The veteran All-Star may have lost a step here or there, but he is still one of the league’s top orchestrators and he drained a huge 3-pointer in the final minute that put the final nail in the Celtics coffin.
Turning point: After the Celtics had closed to within two points at the end of the third quarter, Doc Rivers stuck with his regular rotation which included the four reserves and Paul Pierce. Phoenix’s Jason Richardson proceeded to go off scoring eight quick points. Phoenix steadily built the lead to 11 points and still Rivers resisted the urge to sub his starters back in until the eight-minute mark.
In a long season that is certainly the right decision by Rivers, but it may have cost them against Phoenix.
* Rivers said before the game that the Celtics wanted to run, and run they did in a breakneck paced first quarter. The C’s got up 23 first quarter shots and made 12 of them. The only problem was that the Suns shot 61 percent on the other end. Things slowed down in the second quarter when Phoenix went to its bench, but this was easily the fastest-paced game the Celtics have played this season.
* Ray Allen picked up his fourth foul less than three minutes into the third quarter. The Suns increased their lead from four to nine with Allen off the floor, but the Celtics closed to within two, 85-83 by the end of the quarter.
* Allen had a vicious baseline dunk in the fourth quarter. It’s worth noting that both he and Pierce have been attacking the basket better than they were at the end of last season.
* Former Boston College star Jared Dudley played 30 very effective minutes for the Suns. He scored 10 points, but his primary responsibility was hounding Pierce, who shot just 5-for-15 from the floor.
* There was a funny moment midway through the third quarter. After Richardson tumbled into a photographer on a drive to the basket, Stoudemire helped him up and then went over to Bill Russell who was sitting in the front row to shake his hand. Funnier moment came after the quarter when David Ortiz came out of the crowd to help the new Lucky during his dunk routine.
|Doc on Nash: ‘He’s Brady and Manning’||at 8:26 pm ET|
Doc Rivers can appreciate point guard greatness when he sees it.
He can also draw analogies unlike any other NBA coach. Rivers, a huge NFL fan, sees Steve Nash and he sees not just a point guard but a supremely gifted signal-caller on the floor.
Nash, a spry 35, is off to another other-worldly start for the Suns. He entered Friday’s game on the parquet averaging 19.6 points, 10.8 assists and three rebounds per contest.
“That’s who he is,” Rivers said. “He’s a great quarterback. He’s [Tom] Brady and [Peyton] Manning and all those guys combined at times, it looks like. He can shoot, he can pass. He does a lot for their team. And they have some great players around him.”
|Doc on Shaq: ‘I was obviously wrong’||at 8:05 pm ET|
He, like many others around the NBA, thought the Phoenix Suns hit a home run two seasons ago when they traded for Shaquille O’Neal, putting him alongside Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Nash. Rivers just assumed the Suns would take off, challenge the Lakers and Nuggets for Western Conference supremacy.
Not so much. After a half-season in 2007-08, when they were eliminated in the first round, the Suns fell to 46-36 last season, not even good enough to qualify for the Western playoffs.
“I was obviously wrong,” Rivers said. “I didn’t that was a bad match with Shaq and Stoudamire.”
But the Suns could never optimize O’Neal’s presence with Nash and Stoudamire and the Suns let O’Neal go to Cleveland this past off season. The more nimble, athletic 6-11 Channing Frye has taken O’Neal’s spot and is averaging 14.6 points in Phoenix’s 4-1 start to this season.
“I thought you had one post guy and Stoudamire is more off the post than on the post so I thought it was a good combination but it just didn’t work out for whatever reason,” Rivers added. “It’s good to see Channing Frye play well. I’ve always been pretty high on him as a player. I think he’s another great example, a litle like Shelden [Williams], guys who take a little time to find their way and I guess he’s found his way.”
|Fast break: Celtics-Sixers||11.03.09 at 9:26 pm ET|
The Celtics improved to 5-0 on the young season with a 105-74 win over the Sixers Tuesday night in Philadelphia. It was the Celtics first game against an Atlantic Division foe and while they struggled offensively at times they remained dominant defensively, holding Philly to 36 percent shooting and 1-for-16 from 3-point range.
The Celtics broke it open in the fourth quarter with 23-5 run, which gave Lester Hudson, JR Giddens and Brian Scalabrine ample time to work on their games. The trio scored 13 points. Philly’s leading scorer, Andre Iguodala scored 17. It was that kind of night.
Player of the game: Rasheed Wallace. Philly’s favorite son shot the Celtics into the lead with three first half 3-pointers and broke it open with three more in the second half. Wallace finished with 20 points and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes of action.
Turning point: It was late in the first quarter and the Celtics were having a miserable time of it offensively. They had scored points on just two of their first 15 possessions and weren’t running anything resembling an offense. That’s when Rajon Rondo popped a 20-foot jumper. The second unit came in soon after that and the hot shooting of Wallace, Eddie House and Marquis Daniels opened up a double-digit lead.
Rondo’s shot was a minor blip in that run, but further confirmation that he has more confidence in his jumper.
* According to the early box score, Marquis Daniels was an unadjusted +21 for the Celtics. What that means in layman’s terms is that the Celtics were 15 points better than Philly when Daniels was on the floor. Unadjusted +/- is not a very reliable indicator of performance over time, but it helps reveal Daniels’ contribution in a way that six points, three rebounds and four assists never will.
* In theory you don’t need a true point guard to run the Princeton offense that new Philly coach Eddie Jordan is employing. That’s good news for Philly because Lou Williams is a lot of things, but a true point isn’t one of them. What you do need are willing passers, good shooters and movement away from the ball. The Sixers had none of that.
* The Celtics opened the fourth quarter with a 69-54 lead. That’s a comfortable margin, but it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see the starters back on the floor at some point to finish it off. Instead, the bench pushed the lead to 33 points and the starters never had to take off their warmups again. Those kinds of unexpected gifts are invaluable over the course of the season.
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