|Fast Break: Celtics-Sixers||11.25.09 at 10:15 pm ET|
Doc Rivers was asked before Wednesday’s game if his team should be worried about a letdown against a Sixers team that was without two starters, and whom they had throttled by 29 points in Philly earlier this month. Doc’s Response? Um, yeah. Didn’t Golden State beat Dallas the other night with just six players, the coach asked.
The Celtics haven’t been able to take very much for granted since that first Sixers game and it became obvious very early that Philly had come to play, even after a wrenching loss to the Wizards the night before and even without Lou Williams and Elton Brand.
In the end the Celtics took every punch and landed a few more of their own in a 113-110 victory. The win continued their recent trend of playing down-to-the-wire games against sub-500 teams, but they’ll take it. Again.
Player of the Game: Paul Pierce. For everything that is going wrong with the Celtics, Pierce continues to play out of his head. It wasn’t just the 27 points, five rebounds and six assists either. With the Celtics clinging to a 107-105 lead, Andre Iguodala came steamrolling down the floor and Pierce stood his ground and took the charge.
Turning point: Rajon Rondo raised a few eyebrows through the first three quarters by continuing to pass up layups in favor of making an extra pass. One time he caught Kevin Garnett underneath the basket on a give-and-go-and-give leaving Garnett no choice but to fling the ball toward the hoop while he was already underneath it.
But in the fourth quarter Rondo finally came alive, taking the ball aggressively to the hoop and looking to score. The Celtics used a small lineup during this stretch and Rondo took advantage of the space available on the floor. Things become so much easier for the Celtics when Rondo has the mindset to finish once he breaks down the defense.
* Once again the Celtics were beaten on the offensive glass. The Sixers had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, which led to 18 second-chance points.
* Philly is in the bottom third in the league in 3-point shooting at a tick over 32 percent. Naturally the Sixers shot 13-for-20 from 3-point range.
*One area the Celtics did excel in was getting to the free throw line, making 30-of-39. Garnett was 9-for-12.
* Rasheed Wallace didn’t exactly “break out” of his shooting slump, but he did make two of six from beyond the arc.
* Kendrick Perkins, Ray Allen and Garnett all spent considerable portions of the fourth quarter on the bench. The Celtics and Sixers were both using small lineups, which left Perk out even though he had 12 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes. Garnett was spelled by Wallace as part of his regular rotation, while Allen gave way to Marquis Daniels. After 15 games the only thing that’s obvious about the rotations and lineups is that Rivers is still looking for the right combinations.
* Great coaching move and execution in the final seconds as the Celtics were able to foul Iguodala, and then Jason Kapono with a three-point lead instead of letting either of them get off a chance at a tying shot. While it’s clearly the right strategy, very few teams actually carry through with the play or execute it correctly.
|No TA quite yet||at 7:45 pm ET|
After indicating that guard Tony Allen could be ready to face the Philadelphia 76ers, head coach Doc Rivers said on Wednesday that his defensive specialist still wasn’t quite ready to make his 2009 debut after injuring his left ankle in the preseason.
“I don’t have a clue when,” Rivers said. ‘No relapse. I really don’t Just not ready to play yet. It’s getting closer.”
Allen played in just one preseason game – on Oct. 9 against the Knicks – and hasn’t played in game action since.
|Tony Allen could return vs. Sixers||11.24.09 at 4:35 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Tony Allen might finally be given the go-ahead to make his 2009-10 debut.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said following Tuesday’s practice that Allen, a 27-year-old defensive specialist, might finally have enough confidence in his healed left ankle that he can play at full game speed.
“I think he’s very close, as close that he may play [Wednesday],” Rivers said. “But I don’t know the answer yet. Wait till [Wednesday] and see how he feels.
“Tony looked good today,” Rivers said. “I think with him, it’s going to be a confidence thing. [Monday], I didn’t think he looked good. Today, I thought he looked terrific. He was exploding to the basket.”
The Celtics could use his athleticism off the bench to match that of the young 76ers, pressuring their backcourt of Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala. Tony Allen played in just one preseason game, playing eight minutes against the Knicks on Oct. 9. He missed both shots from the floor and was held scoreless.
|Meet Marquis Daniels: Hockey Player||at 4:08 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Marquis Daniels knows the tough reputation of hockey players. They are the types who get 20 stitches after taking a puck to the face and miss one shift and are back on the ice.
So, when he was spotted again on Tuesday with heavy tape around his left [non-shooting] wrist, he made an appropriate cross-sport reference.
“It’s okay,” Daniels said with a smile. “I’m hockey player. I’m alright.”
But ask him how he injured the wrist and Daniels struggles to remember.
“I don’t even know,” Daniels said after Tuesday’s practice. “I just realized it after the Indiana game. I was like something doesn’t feel right. You’re going to get it hit out here. That’s why I keep tape on it, to keep it protected. I can’t skate. I’m not going to try. I’m from Florida, I don’t even like ice.”
“I actually don’t know the answer,” his coach Doc Rivers added. “He hurt it, I think, all the way back in preseason if I’m not mistaken. He does bandage it more in practice than in the games. But lately, he’s going to that more in the games. I don’t think it’s anything where he needs surgery or anything like that. But it must be bothering him some or he wouldn’t be wearing it.”
Daniels said he’s not worried that the wrist could limit his offensive punch.
“I shoot layups anyway so I’m okay,” he said, all the while smiling. “It’s nothing. I’m okay. I can play, I can run. I still have my legs. I can move. I’m alright.”
|C’s want to see improvement starting now||at 3:30 pm ET|
“I know Doc said starting from the last game that we want to try to make a run all the way up until our Christmas game,” Kendrick Perkins said.
Perkins had 16 points and 13 rebounds on Sunday in New York. He is second on the team in rebounding behind Kevin Garnett and is averaging 10.5 points a game.
“We want to be on the right track. I know guys are locked in and focused right now. We’ve just got to stick together. It’s not always going to be great times through the season all the time so we just have to stick together.”
The Celtics improved to 10-4 by surviving an overtime scare on Sunday in New York to beat the Knicks, 107-105, on Garnett’s jumper at the buzzer. They play Philadelphia on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
|Fast break: Celtics-Knicks||11.22.09 at 4:12 pm ET|
Depending on your point of view, the Celtics 107-105 victory over the Knicks in overtime Sunday at Madison Square Garden was either a gritty gut-check, or a further sign that things are not right with the C’s.
Kevin Garnett hit the winning shot, but was 4-for-15 for the game. Ray Allen made a huge 3-pointer late in regulation, but was 3-for-13. Rasheed Wallace continued his slump missing all six shots. And on the defensive end, the Celtics held the Knicks to 43 percent shooting, but allowed Al Harrington to drop 30 points on them off the bench, which contributed to the C’s blowing a 14-point lead in the second half.
Either way, it’s a win the Celtics will take after losing three of their last four.
Player of the game: Paul Pierce. The Celtics captain had been content to play distributor at times this season, but with the memory of so many slow starts in his head, Pierce elected to take over early and often. He scored 17 of his 33 points in the first half and lived at the free throw line, all while helping handle some of the point guard duties. There are lot of things that are “off” with the Celtics right now, but Pierce is not one of them.
Turning point: There were so many ebbs and flows that it’s hard to pick one moment as the turning point, but as big shots go it was hard to top Allen’s corner 3-pointer in transition that gave the Celtics a 96-94 lead late in regulation. New York came back to tie the game on a couple of occasions, but never regained the lead.
* It’s still too early to judge Garnett on his comeback, but the judgments will start to come after yet another lackluster performance, despite his game-winning shot. Doc Rivers has acknowledged that Garnett is still a work in progress but he continues to insist that KG is 100 percent healthy.
* Kendrick Perkins played the role of unsung hero with 16 points and 13 rebounds in what might have been his best game of the season. He also refused to get into anything extra with Eddy Curry who has returned to the Knicks a far more feisty player than when they banished him. Curry was sent to the bench, and assessed a flagrant foul, after whacking Rajon Rondo in the back of the head. That came after Perkins stymied him on the block.
* Where was Nate Robinson down the stretch? Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni did the Celtics a favor by keeping Robinson on the bench in favor of Chris Duhon, who is neither a good shooter nor a good creator with the ball in his hands.
|Sheed trying to keep Superman from lifting off||11.20.09 at 1:27 pm ET|
Don’t let Superman take off.
“Step on his launch pad,” Wallace said of his strategy. “He’s a big fella, he can jump. If you step on his launch pad before he can take off and make it a hard shot for him, it’s a 50-50 chance. He going to come with the hook and little jumper, just take that 50-50 chance.”
But just because he wants to make life miserable on Howard’s big feet, don’t get the impression he doesn’t try and help Howard when the two aren’t combatants in the low post.
Wallace actually gives Howard advice on how to become even more of a force than he is now.
“He doesn’t try to brush me off,” Wallace said. “He listens. That’s coming from him being raised well by his mom and dad. I don’t think he’s arroagant. He’s still trying to learn. I think he’s just tipping the iceberg because all we’re seeing right now is him dunking and catching the alley-oops. If he decides to go into the gym and get that little 12-to-15 footer down and they establish a good pick-and-roll with the three guys they’ve got, him and Jameer or him and Rashard, I think they’ll be pretty good.” Read the rest of this entry »
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