|Halftime: Celtics vs. Nuggets||03.24.10 at 8:19 pm ET|
The exclamation point on the outstanding play was a spectacular Tony Allen dunk on a beautiful feed from Rajon Rondo with 1:23 left and a layup with 0.1 seconds remaining in the half. Allen had 10 points off the Celtics bench.
This game was played at a breakneck tempo right out of the gate, with both teams executing their offenses at a high level.
The Celtics came out and appeared ready to make a statement against a Nuggets team that is expected to be the chief competition out West to the defending champion Lakers this spring. The Celtics made 13-of-21 shots from the floor and outscored Denver 20-8 in the paint to take a 30-27 lead after one.
Paul Pierce again showed he is ready to assume leadership of the team heading into the home stretch as he poured in a game-leading 16 points. That offset an equally impressive first half from Carmelo Anthony, who had 14.
The Celtics bench again saw a significant amount of playing time, bridging the first and second quarters effectively, and even building the lead up to nine points late in the second quarter. The down side to that was foul trouble.
In addition to the three first half fouls that sent Pierce to the bench early prematurely, Marquis Daniels also picked up three and Glen Davis two as 16 fouls were called on the Green in the opening 24 minutes.
But again the ball distribution was outstanding as the Celtics racked up 19 assists, led by seven from Rondo.
|Nuggets try to follow Celtics lead||05.25.09 at 6:32 pm ET|
“Boston was so much more physical than they were,” Billups said. “They didn’t give up a lot of layups and they didn’t give up a lot in transition. We’re capable of doing those kinds of things. I can’t say that our team is as good defensively as Boston was last year, but we do have a pretty good defensive basketball team.”
The Celtics held Kobe Bryant to 25.7 points per game (40.5% FG, 32.1% 3PG) during the Finals. He is averaging 37.7 points (48.6% FG, 50.0% 3PG) in the first three games against the Nuggets. The Cs also handled Pau Gasol (14.7 ppg, 10.2 rpg), who is averaging 16.7 points and 14.0 rebounds in the Western Conference Finals.
One of the biggest difference in this year’s playoffs is the Lakers edge on offense. Last season the Celtics outshot them 43.0% to 34.7% from long range. They are outshooting the Nuggets 39.9% to 29.9% from behind the arc. The Celtics also outrebounded the Lakers by nearly five boards per game whereas the Lakers are grabbing nearly four more boards than the Nuggets.
|Welcome to the Garden||11.14.08 at 5:26 pm ET|
This is the Celtics first look at Chauncey Billups in his new uniform since the Allen Iverson trade. Doc Rivers called Billups “terrific,” noting his size (6’3″) and basketball IQ. He also praised how clutch Billups has been over his career in down the stretch, something the Celtics know a thing or two about after this week’s buzzer-beating wins.
Another Nugget who is big at his position is Carmelo Anthony. Before the game Melo talked about his counterpart Paul Pierce, calling him one of the best players in the league. “I respect his game a lot, especially on this team right now,” Anthony said. Pierce is averaging 35 points over the last two games.
Patrick O’Bryant will be activated tonight for the Celtics, with Rivers saying he’s earned it in practice. For the Nuggets, Steven Hunter underwent arthroscoping surgery today and will be out a minimum of 12 weeks.
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