|First round still up for grabs||04.12.09 at 11:00 pm ET|
The Boston Celtics locked up the second seed in the Eastern Conference on Saturday, but their first round opponent is still uncertain. This weekend the Chicago Bulls rose to the occasion, the Detroit Pistons continued to be mediocre, and the Philadelphia 76ers came up short. With only three days left in the regular season, the sixth, seventh, and eighth seeds are still up for grabs.
6. Philadelphia 76ers (40-40)
The Sixers are slipping on a five-game losing streak. This weekend they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors, putting their hold on the sixth spot in jeopardy as they gear up to face the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.
Rest of the season:
Tuesday, April 14 vs. (2) Boston Celtics
Wednesday, April 15 @ (1) Cleveland Cavaliers
7. Chicago Bulls (40-40)
The Bulls enter the final week of the regular season on a four-game winning streak, including Saturday’s victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. They will wrap up the season at home where they are 28-12.
Rest of the season:
Monday, April 13 @ (8) Detroit Pistons
Wednesday, April 15 vs. Toronto Raptors
8. Detroit Pistons (39-41)
Despite beating the New Jersey Nets on Friday, a loss on Saturday to the Indiana Pacers landed the Pistons one game behind the Chicago Bulls in the eighth spot. They are 1-2 this season against both of their upcoming opponents.
Rest of the season:
Monday, April 13 vs. (7) Chicago Bulls
Wednesday, April 15 @ (5) Miami Heat
|What they said… USC coach Tim Floyd||03.20.09 at 12:46 pm ET|
Tim Floyd coached the Chicago Bulls in the NBA after Michael Jordan left in the late 90s. He has had a more successful and certainly more enjoyable time coaching the USC Trojans. This season his team caught fire at the right time, winning its last five games, including a run to a Pac-10 title that earned them a berth against Boston College tonight in Minneapolis.
Here’s how Floyd summed up his opponent on Thursday night.
Q. Hi, Coach. What do you know about B.C. by now? And what concerns you most about them?
COACH FLOYD: Well, from the coaching standpoint I think he is the best coach that nobody ever talks about. The job he’s done there with seven NCAA tournaments in 12 years. A young team this year that obviously believes in what they’re doing. Great shot selection, great conviction to what they run offensively. Play with a physicality, terrific offensive rebounding team. And great role definition with their players in terms of knowing what they should do and when they should do it.
And they have a star caliber with Rice. You know, a developmental big guy in Southern who is getting better and better. The 2 guard is outstanding, maybe could have been an All ACC player with a little bit more attention paid to him because he has been terrific the last five games. Just very good basketball team. Read the rest of this entry »
|Luck of the Irish runs out||03.17.09 at 11:29 pm ET|
The Luck of the Irish had been on the Boston Celtics side on St. Patrick’s Day. On Tuesday night, it ran out in Chicago (RECAP HERE). In spite of this loss, the Celtics have enjoyed success on March 17 over the last 10 years:
2009: Chicago Bulls 127, Boston Celtics 121
Already undermanned, the Celtics lost Leon Powe (knee) in the first half. Paul Pierce tried to keep the Celtics alive with 37 points and seven rebounds, while Rajon Rondo posted 26 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds. The Celtics, however, could not overcome injuries and foul trouble. They fell 4.5 games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Look ahead: The Celtics will take on the Miami Heat on Wednesday night in Boston.
2008: Boston Celtics 93, San Antonio Spurs 91
The Celtics overcame a 22-point deficit to top the Spurs and jumpstart their sweep of the Texas Triangle. Sam Cassell stepped up his game in place of Ray Allen (ankle) to contribute 17 points off the bench. Despite a scoreless evening from Kendrick Perkins, the Celtics starters outscored the Spurs starting five 67-39.
Flashback: A day later, the Celtics snapped the Houston Rockets 22-game winning streak.
2007: Boston Celtics 91, San Antonio Spurs 85
In the midst of a dismal season, the Celtics won in San Antonio for the first time in 17 years. And this wasn’t the Big Three version of the Celtics. Paul Pierce (30 points) got help from Delonte West (23 points) and Al Jefferson (20 points) while Rajon Rondo added 14 rebounds. It was just the Celtics 20th win of the season.
Flashback: The Celtics had not won in San Antonio since February 14, 1990.
2006: Orlando Magic 84, Boston Celtics 77
The Celtics blew a fourth quarter lead and gave up 18 points and 13 rebounds to a then-20-year-old Dwight Howard. The Cs went cold in the final 12 minutes, shooting 3-for-23, and no one on the team made more than five field goals. They also had six shots blocked by Darko Milicic.
Flashback: Raef LaFrentz was the Celtics starting center.
2004: Boston Celtics 104, Denver Nuggets 100
Paul Pierce, Chucky Atkins, and Mark Blount combined for 68 points, 27 rebounds, and 16 assists while Walter McCarty added 17 points off the bench. Then-rookie Carmelo Anthony posted 20 points, nine rebounds, and six assists in his Boston debut. But the Celtics got hot from long-range (10-16 3PG) and a jumper from Pierce iced the win with less than 30 seconds to go.
Flashback: John Carroll was the interim head coach.
2000: Boston Celtics 114, Atlanta Hawks 90
Antoine Walker scored 30 points to lead the Celtics to a 24-point victory. Paul Pierce and Vitaly Potapenko scored 16 points apiece. Pierce picked five steals from Dikembe Mutombo and the Hawks.
Flashback: Less than 12,000 people attended this game in Atlanta.
1999: Boston Celtics 118, Los Angeles Clippers 84
The Celtics outshot the Clippers 57% to 37% from the field in their commanding win. Kenny Anderson led the Celtics with 21 points. Then-rookie Paul Pierce scored 12. The Celtics outrebonded the Clippers by 19 boards.
Flashback: Future Celtic Michael Olowokandi posted 17 points and eight rebounds for the Clippers.
|Game Preview: Are the Bulls ready?||03.16.09 at 11:59 pm ET|
At this point in the season, every game is critical for the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls. A win on Tuesday in Chicago would inch the Celtics closer to first place in the Eastern Conference. A victory for the Bulls could put them back in the eighth seed. Both teams are hungry for the postseason. The question is, would be Bulls be ready if they made it to the playoffs?
“Right now, no,” said Kirk Hinrich. “We’ve definitely had our moments, but we need to play much more consistently and bring it every night. At times we’ve taken nights off and it’s kind of hurt us, so we have to make everything count from here on out.”
The Bulls (30-37) lost their footing in the East when the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Celtics (50-17) on Sunday to reclaim possession of the final spot. After getting blown out by the Orlando Magic last week, the Bulls must face both the Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers in the next five days.
“[We have to] play defense and be aggressive throughout the whole game,” said Derrick Rose. “[Those teams are] real consistent in everything they do – defense and offense. We’ve just got to stay a little more consistent and play hard.”
The Celtics have beat the Bulls by an average of 17 points in their first two meetings of the season. In their first game, the Celtics held the Bulls to less than 30% from the field. In their second game, Rajon Rondo dished 15 of the Celtics’ 40 assists. Both games were lessons for the Bulls to learn from.
“I think every night we have to come in with a certain urgency,” said Hinrich. “Consistently, we just need to start playing better basketball for longer stretches of time and we have to hang on. It’s going to be a tight race. People are jockeying for position and we definitely want to be in there.”
An eighth seed in the playoffs would mean a match up with a team like the Celtics, Cavaliers, or Magic, who are currently vying for the top spot in the East. Veteran point guard Lindsey Hunter faced the Celtics in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals as a member of the Detroit Pistons. He understands firsthand the level of competition the Bulls would be up against.
“I think the first thing that stands out with Boston and with Cleveland is clear cut – their identity is defense,” he said. “They totally take away what you like to do and they make you go to your second, third option. And teams that can do that on a consistent basis are teams that are tough, because that’s tough to do.
“You have to really be on the same page and really be to the point where guys trust each other no matter what. And when I watch those guys play, I see it. Defensively, I see the rotations that guys aren’t second guessing. And if there is a missed rotation, then guys are talking to each other and communicating. And I’ve been on teams like that so I know what that’s like, and it takes a lot of growth to get there. It takes a lot of growth. And with a young team like ours, I definitely think we can. It just takes some time.”
The Bulls admit they will have work to do if they advance to the playoffs — “We’ve still got some kinks,” said Rose. But with 15 games left to go in the regular season, they are staying optimistic about clinching a postseason berth.
“Our goal is getting the playoffs,” Hinrich said. “I don’t think anyone is thinking about next year right now. We’re focused on the task at hand and just trying to get into the playoffs and see what happens.”
|73 or 34 in a row||12.19.08 at 7:42 pm ET|
Chicago, one of the most important bands of the 70s once wondered, 25 or 6 to 4. Sitting here at TD Banknorth Garden watching Chicago’s NBA entry offer precious little resistance to the Celtics, your intrepid reporter was inspired to re-work the question.
What is more likely, the Celtics winning 73 games in a season to break the 1997 Chicago Bulls all-time record or 34 straight wins to top the mark by the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers?
Would love to hear your comments and thoughts. Just Email Trags
This reporter is on record maintaining that as the Celtics are currently constituted, they will win 73 and set the new record. As for 34 straight, with a West Coast swing on the docket starting Christmas Day, that might be too much, even for these Celtics.
One other random question… With Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, in attendance at the Garden taking in the game, who is in better shape, Bolt or Ray Allen? When the two shook hands just prior to the fourth quarter at the scorer’s table, it marked a meeting of two supremely conditioned athletes.
Then, following the game, Bolt entered the locker room for a personal chat with the team and coaching staff. There was this question posed… Who would win a race, Bolt or Rajon Rondo?
|The Initiation of Derrick Rose||10.31.08 at 11:41 pm ET|
Derrick Rose, welcome to the NBA.
In just the second regular season game of his career, Rose had to run the floor in the Garden against the defending world champion Boston Celtics. It was a tall order for the rookie point guard and he was up for the challenge.
Rose made his presence known by driving on Kendrick Perkins early in the first quarter and drawing the foul. Perkins has more than seven inches and 90 pounds on Rose and still the rook attacked the hoop as if he had a clear lane.
“I’m kind of used to it now,” Rose, 20, said after the game. “I’m the type of guard where I’m kind of athletic, so when I go to the hole I’m used to getting body contact and I’m used to finishing on people. He’s big but I’m practicing those shots all the time.”
Battling the bigs wasn’t Rose’s only concern. He also had to defend the fiesty Rajon Rondo.
“Rondo was good,” he said. “He knows his role on the team. He’s a good, improving point guard. He’s just going to make you better.”
Rose was one of the few highlights in the Bulls 96-80 loss. He tied Kevin Garnett for most points with 18 and scored all of his field goals in the paint. This was a completely different player than the one who raised red flags during an injury-ridden summer league showing.
“I didn’t want to lose,” Rose said of his improved performance. “I was steady driving, trying to get people open, shooting. I just know now that I can’t waste my time when we get out there. The Celtics, they mean business when they get out there. They try to get the game over with quick and we’ve just got to learn that and we’ll be fine.”
Just one game against the Celtics was all it took for a crash course in NBA competition.
“It’s just going to help me,” Rose said. “I’m happy that I had the opportunity to have this game early in the season so that later on in the season I can get better.”
Expect him to do just that.
|Halftime Notes and Numbers||at 6:17 pm ET|
At the half … Celtics 49, Bulls 31
- Kevin Garnett leads all scorers with 16 points. Derrick Rose leads the Bulls with 10.
- The Celtics outscored the Bulls 30-12 in the paint.
- The Celtics also outrebounded the Bulls 27-23. KG pulled down seven boards.
- Tyrus Thomas and Luol Deng shot a combined 2-for-17.
- Leon Powe scored seven points in seven minutes off the bench. Ben Gordon was scoreless in nearly 12 minutes as a reserve.
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