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Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers keep Celtics reeling 01.22.13 at 9:30 pm ET
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Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 40 points and Tristan Thompson added 21 as the Cavaliers added to the misery of the Celtics with a 95-90 win at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Irving completely dominated the Celtics in the final six minutes, scoring nine points and helping the Cavaliers win for just the 11th time in 43 games. After a season-high six-game winning streak, the Celtics lost their fourth straight and are again under .500 at 20-21. Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 17 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.

Making matters worse, the Cavaliers were playing without their starting center Anderson Varejao, who was ruled out for the season this week due to a blood clot in his lower right lung.

Paul Pierce had 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while Jared Sullinger had another big game off the bench with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Kevin Garnett was the only other Celtic in double figures in scoring with 16 points, as Boston shot just 38.1 percent from the field.

Defense was non-existent in the first quarter as the Celtics allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 59.1 percent, as Cleveland made 13-of-22 shots from the floor in building a 31-27 lead. The Celtics cut the deficit to 54-53 at the half.

The Celtics built their lead up to six 64-58 early in the third on back-to-back threes from Avery Bradley but couldn’t pull away.

Irving’s pull-up jumper in transition gave the Cavaliers a 76-75 lead with 7:30 remaining but Pierce found an open Rondo moments later for a layup to give the Celtics the lead right back. Sullinger picked up his fifth foul with just under six minutes remaining and the Cavaliers immediately began their charge behind Irving.

The Cavaliers reassumed the lead 82-81 when Pierce missed a jumper and Tyler Zeller raced out on the break for a layup. But again it was Rondo who answered, this time with a layup with just over four minutes remaining, as the Celtics went back in front, 83-82. Rondo then drew Irving’s fifth foul when he took a charge with 3:30 remaining. But the Celtics couldn’t convert as Garnett missed with the shot clock winding down.

Irving’s reverse layup with 2:30 left gave Cleveland the lead again, 84-83. Replays showed rookie Zeller kicking the ball ahead to Irving but no violation was called and the basket stood. Irving scored 15 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter as he took control of the game.

Then Rondo committed a mental mistake on a loose ball that careened into the Celtics backcourt. He tried to throw it off Irving but was unsuccessful, allowing Irving to go in for an uncontested layup with just over two minutes left.

Garnett drew the sixth foul of the night on Zeller with 1:30, with Garnett hitting both free throws cutting Cleveland’s lead to one, 88-87. With a chance to give Boston the lead, Garnett missed a baseline fallaway jumper. That led to another spectacular coast-to-coast drive by Irving to put Cleveland up, 90-87, with 52.9 seconds remaining.

The Celtics host the Knicks Thursday night at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Garnett, Kyrie Irving
Doc Rivers: ‘We still haven’t sustained a 48-minute game’ 12.19.12 at 11:39 pm ET
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At this point, Doc Rivers will take any victory, any way he can get them.

But even Wednesday night, what looked like a 20-point laugher late in the third quarter against a 5-21 team on the parquet turned into nail-biting time in a matter of six minutes.

The Celtics led 80-60 with just over three minutes left in the third. Then Rivers subbed his starters and turned to his bench. The unit that was very productive and active in the first half, fell apart, allowing the Cavs to start a 20-2 run that got them back in the game.

‘€œHonestly, our bench came in and didn’€™t give us a lift,” Rivers said. “And they were fantastic in the first half. We still haven’€™t sustained a 48 minute game; we had that one stretch. We have to get better. We had a 20-point lead, you sub in, and I think guys think when you have that lead it’€™s scoring time now. And it’€™s really defensive time; you’€™ve got to continue to get stops. Then you can score. And I thought we short-cutted that part of it.’€

The Celtics finished shooting 59.7 percent on the night and scored 103 points, thanks in large part to their captain Paul Pierce, who had 40. Did Pierce just get tired of losing?

‘€œWell I don’€™t know. Whatever it was, it was great,” Rivers said. “It was efficient, though. A lot of open shots. A lot of ball movement down the stretch. He caught fire and created his own. For the most part, I just thought the ball movement was really good for our guys. We shoot 60 percent, basically; a lot of good things are happening. And then we hold a team to 40 or 41 percent, a lot of good things happen. I thought Jason Collins play with one point, two rebounds ‘€“ I thought he had a main impact on the game for us. Especially for Kevin (Kevin Garnett). I thought Kevin enjoyed playing with him.’€

A three-game losing streak ended Wednesday because the Celtics found some resiliency against a 5-21 team. Not pretty but Rivers will take it.

“I think [Pierce] and Kevin and (Rajon Rondo), they all took it to heart,” Rivers said. “They don’€™t like the way we’€™re playing, they believe we’€™re better than what we’€™re playing, but we haven’€™t done it. And at some point, you’€™ve got to stop talking about it. And Paul did that tonight.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Doc Rivers, NBA
Fast Break: Paul Pierce’s 40 points end Celtics skid at 9:54 pm ET
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His Celtics in desperate need of a victory after a winless three-game road trip, Celtics captain Paul Pierce scored a season-high 40 points for the first time since 2010 to will the C’s over the Cavaliers, 103-91.

With help from veteran teammates Rajon Rondo (20 points, 8 assists), Jason Terry (15 points) and Kevin Garnett (12 points), Pierce also contributed eight rebounds and five assists to push the Celtics above .500 (13-12).

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Raging Rondo: Add another strange stat line to Rondo’s resume. He finished the first quarter with 12 points, four rebounds and zero assists. More importantly, he attacked the basket, attempting all five of his field goals in the paint and making four of them. Rondo also set the tone early against Kyrie Irving on the other end, holding his Cavaliers counterpart to four points and no assists in the opening quarter as the C’s took a 27-25 lead.

Captain on course: Slowly, inevitably, Pierce is righting his ship. After shooting a respectable 13-of-23 (4-8 3P) in his last two games, Pierce started a perfect 6-for-6 from beyond the arc against Cleveland. He finished 13-of-16 from the field and 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Pierce’s 10 first-quarter points staked the Celtics to an early lead, and his 17 third-quarter points kept the Cavaliers at bay. All in all, Pierce’s best night of the season.

JET grounded no more: A night after attempting just two shots against the Bulls, Terry returned to the starting lineup, scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and drilled a trio of treys, including a dagger with 2:48 remaining.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA, Paul Pierce
Doc Rivers goes extreme: Starts Jason Collins at center at 7:37 pm ET
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After losing their third straight game Tuesday night in Chicago, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he would continue to search for answers to shake his team out of its early season funk. On Wednesday, he followed through, replacing Courtney Lee in the starting lineup with Jason Terry, who got only two shots in Tuesday’s 100-89 loss in Chicago.

“Nothing more, until Avery [Avery Bradley] comes back,” Rivers said of the decision. “Jet just doesn’t get involved unless [Rajon Rondo] is on the floor. It has nothing to do with anybody else, it’s more to do with getting Jet more involved.”

In a more drastic measure, Rivers said Jason Collins would take over the starting center role from Kevin Garnett in order to move Garnett back to his more natural spot of big forward. The move would mean Brandon Bass would come off the bench. Bass has started 21 of Boston’s 24 games this season, including the last 16 straight.

“Just because of his size,” Rivers said in explaining the move for the 7-foot, 255-pound big man. “[Coaching staff] has been talking about it a lot but just haven’t done it. We’ve just been trying to find ways of getting Kevin off the ’5′ spot all game. Right now, even when we put the other guys in, the same [opposing players] are guarding him and the only way you can force the action is with Jason.”

If Rivers sticks with the new starting lineup, Celtics fans can expect to see Rondo and Terry in the backcourt until Avery Bradley returns in early January, with Garnett and Paul Pierce at the forward spots and Collins at center.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Jason Collins, Jason Terry
Fast Break: Nothing Cavalier about Celtics victory 02.28.12 at 9:44 pm ET
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In a battle between two teams vying for eighth in the Eastern Conference (yup, you read that right), the Celtics blew a 16-point lead but salvaged the night when Ray Allen sandwiched a fast-break layup and two free throws around a big Kevin Garnett offensive rebound in the final minute to secure an 86-83 win over the Cavaliers.

Allen (22) and Garnett (18) combined for 40 points to help the Celtics (16-17) avoid the first six-game losing streak of the new Big Three era and stretch their lead over the Cavs (13-19) to 2.5 games for the eighth seed.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Welcome back Bass: The Celtics finished 1-5 in Bass’ recent six-game absence, and it didn’t take long for the consistent big man to demonstrate his value on the court, scoring 10 points on six shots by halftime. Bass brings a combination of scoring and toughness that the C’s simply don’t have outside of Garnett. If the Celtics have any hope for success in the second half of the season, they need a healthy Bass contributing like this.

Nothing but Garnett: Garnett reportedly called a team meeting prior to the All-Star break, and even if the entire team didn’t respond in its first game since, at least KG came to play. Wincing at times, possibly still battling the hip injury that kept him out of a game before the break, Garnett totaled 18 points and eight boards while playing his usual staunch defense. In the final seconds with the C’s leading by one, Garnett willed an offensive rebound off his own miss, got fouled and made both foul shots.

Jumping the run: Perhaps the result of an aging team benefiting from the five-day NBA All-Star break, the Celtics rattled off runs of 9-0 and 13-0 in the first quarter to establish a rare double-digit lead early (28-15 after one). Rondo recorded six assists in the first 12 minutes, including one on another fast break with his new running mate Chris Wilcox. The have only led after the first quarter in 16 of their 33 games, accumulating a 12-4 record.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Garnett, Kyrie Irving
Fast Break: Celtics (barely) avenge loss to Cavaliers 01.31.12 at 9:47 pm ET
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If you thought Sunday’s loss to the Cavaliers was bad, Tuesday’s win might have been worse.

After blowing a 12-point lead in the final five minutes at home in the first meeting of their home-and-home series, the C’s let a 22-point lead dwindle to two with 1:18 remaining in Cleveland. Luckily, Kevin Garnett dropped a turnaround jumper and Paul Pierce made a pair of free throws in the waning seconds to on for a 93-90 win.

Pierce finished with a team-high 20 points as well six assists and four rebounds, lifting the Celtics (10-10) to .500 once again. Brandon Bass chipped in 13 points to lead a 28-point effort by the C’s bench.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

In his defense: Cavs rookie Kyrie Irving beat the Celtics with his offense on Sunday night, but his porous defense helped the C’s return the favor two days later. Avery Bradley (8 points) beat him through the back door, making himself an easy target underneath the basket for open layups, and E’Twaun Moore (5 points) took advantage of Irving’s tendency to cheat by knocking down open shots on the perimeter.

Riding the pine: Led once again by Bass (13 points) and Mickael Pietrus (6 points, 2 treys), the Celtics bench dominated the Cavaliers reserves in the early going, outscoring their counterparts 23-5 in the first half alone. Moore and Sasha Pavlovic also lended a helping hand as the C’s established a double-digit lead by halftime.

Protecting the rock (for the most part): Without Rajon Rondo for the seventh straight game, the Celtics assisted on 19 of their first 26 field goals while committing only six turnovers as they built the lead to 22 in the third quarter. The C’s finished with 25 assists on 37 FGs, but their turnovers climbed to 14 — allowing the Cavaliers to climb back into the game.

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Read More: Anderson Varejao, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA
NBA Offseason Review: Central Division 12.23.11 at 10:00 am ET
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Given the drama (and comedy) that was the NBA lockout, the ensuing free agency frenzy and the vetoed trade by a commissioner of a group of owners who was acting as the general manager of an individual team that is owned by that same group of owners, it’s easy to get confused about who landed where. This is the fifth of six daily division-by-division reviews leading up to opening day.

NBA Offseason Review: Pacific Division
NBA Offseason Review: Northwest Division
NBA Offseason Review: Southwest Division
NBA Offseason Review: Southeast Division

INDIANA PACERS

2010-11 record: 37-45
2010-11 standing: 2nd in Central Division
NBA draft picks: None
Key additions: David West (free agent); Louis Amundson (trade); George Hill (trade)
Key substractions: Josh McRoberts (free agent); Brandon Rush (trade); Mike Dunleavy (FA); T.J. Ford (FA)
2011-12 starters: PG Darren Collison; SG Paul George; SF Danny Granger; PG David West; C Roy Hibbert
2011-12 wins over/under (sportsbook.com): 31.5
2011-12 prediction: 36-30

CHICAGO BULLS

2010-11 record: 62-20
2010-11 standing: Won Central Division
NBA draft picks: 23. Nikola Mirotic; 30. Jimmy Butler
Key additions: Richard Hamilton (buyout)
Key substractions: Keith Bogans (waived); Kurt Thomas (free agent)
2011-12 starters: PG Derrick Rose; SG Hamilton; SF Luol Deng; PF Carlos Boozer; C Joakim Noah
2011-12 wins over/under (sportsbook.com): 46.5
2011-12 prediction: 49-17

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Read More: Central Division, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons
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