|Even in winning, Paul Pierce admits the refs got the better of him||12.22.10 at 11:34 pm ET|
Paul Pierce started off the night by missing his first seven shots from the field, including a pair of three-point attempts. But that’s not what caused him to admittedly lose his cool in the third quarter, when he was hit with a technical foul by referee Tony Brothers with 6:07 left in the third quarter. Pierce was called for his fourth personal foul, causing him to wave his hand in disgust at Brothers.
“We got frustrated,” admitted Pierce, who finished with 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting and four rebounds in 34 minutes. “I got a technical. I know I was frustrated tonight. Just in a game where you’re trying to get rhythm and the game is off-balance and calls are being called each and every way. It’s hard to get into a rhythm so I was definitely frustrated.”
How frustrated? Maybe the most he’s been since he was teamed with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the 2007-08 season. But there was a huge sense of relief, as Pierce raised his arms at midcourt when the final seconds ticked off of Boston’s 14th straight win.
“Nothing was really going our way,” Pierce said. “Nothing was really going my way. This is one of the more frustrating games I’ve had in a long time. It was just – I don’t know – it was just something about this game, for us to pull it out the way we did, I’m very relieved.
“I felt like this was one of our better wins because we didn’t let the frustration get to us all the way. We found a way, we pulled back and this is one of the many ways we’re finding out about our team and tonight we found out even more about our team.”
Doc Rivers agreed with Pierce in one regard. Wednesday night symbolized just how bizarre and unique this winning streak is. The Celtics are not playing their best basketball by any stretch but still winning, making this the oddest extended winning streak he’s seen. Read the rest of this entry »
When you’re the coach of the Celtics or Lakers, it’s basically a given than you will be spending your Christmas Day at work. Both teams are staples of the NBA’s annual Christmas Day extravaganza. This year, the C’s play in Orlando, which is at least home for a few players, and notably coach Doc Rivers. The Lakers host the Heat, which was a given the moment Miami signed LeBron James.
In truth, no one likes playing on Christmas, but the Celtics all said Tuesday that it was a privilege and something they expect from playing on one of the league’s best teams. Lakers coach Phil Jackson expressed a different view:
“It used to be Phoenix and L.A. and New York and Boston and New York or Philly or somebody on the East Coast,” Jackson, told reporters before the Lakers game against the Bucks. “Now, I see they have like six games on Christmas. It’s like Christian holidays don’t mean anything to them anymore. You just go out and play and entertain [on] TV. It’s really weird.”
While Rivers didn’t bring up the religious aspect, he did note that the day used to be more special when it involved just two games. The league now has five games running all day with the Celtics and Lakers matchups in the marquee time slots.
“I wish they would reduce the games on Christmas,” Rivers said Tuesday. “I thought it was more special when it was two games. Now they it’s up five games. I think that’s too many.”
|Irish Coffee: The Celtics’ bench struggles||12.21.10 at 12:16 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Remember when a lot of people — including me — believed the Celtics had the best bench in the NBA? Well, they don’t. At least not now.
The second unit that C’s head coach Doc Rivers had cultivated to give his veteran starters their much-needed rest throughout the 82-game NBA season was supposed to look like this: Nate Robinson, Delonte West, Marquis Daniels, Glen Davis and Shaquille O’Neal.
On paper, that lineup looks good. Very good. Unfortunately, wrists, ankles and knees aren’t made out of paper. As a result, the Celtics’ reserves rank 24th out of 30 NBA teams, according to Hoopsstats.com‘s efficiency differential.
West’s suspension and subsequent broken wrist have kept him out of all but five games. Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal have been a pain in the knee, missing a combined 28 games and vaulting a third-string guy (Semih Erden) into four starts. And Rajon Rondo‘s feet, hamstring and ankle soreness, tweaks and sprains haven’t helped, either, forcing one of the original sencond unit’s go-to scorers (Robinson) into a starting role six times.
Put those injuries to paper, and the Celtics’ bench has produced better than only one team that would be in the postseason if the playoffs started today — the Trail Blazers, who have had more injuries than King Leonidas‘ men in the movie “300.”
Here’s where the C’s reserves rank in the league statistically per game this season:
Rebounds: 25th (22nd defensive/30th offensive)
Field-goal percentage: 1st
3-point field goal percentage: 23rd
Free-throw percentage: 19th
And here’s where their opponents’ bench’s production against them ranks:
|Doc Rivers to Nate Robinson: Don’t worry, you don’t suck||12.17.10 at 12:34 am ET|
Doc Rivers could tell early on that Nate Robinson was having trouble getting into the flow of the game as he struggled with his passes and running the Celtics offense in the first half Thursday night against Atlanta.
There was a bullet pass from Robinson to Semih Erden in the low post that didn’t quite make it there as Josh Smith stepped into the lane for the easy steal. There was a pass intended for Ray Allen that sailed out of bounds later in the first half.
How bad was it? Even when Nate was hustling his rear off to grab a loose ball headed toward the Hawks basket, he flipped to the lane – expecting Kevin Garnett to catch and slam. But instead, the pass was picked off by Mike Bibby, who fed Jordan Collins for an open three, which Collins hit to add salt to the wound.
All of that added up to seven points, only two assists and four turnovers in the first half for the man who will be filling in for Rajon Rondo over the next two weeks as Rondo heals a sprained left ankle. Rivers said he had to have a heart-to-heart with Robinson, telling him to keep his head up and remind him that he didn’t think Robinson “sucked” just because he was having trouble finding his game.
“You know what I told Nate at halftime?” Rivers began. “I said, ‘Nate, just a notice for you. You’re the starting point guard now, and I’m going to give you a lot of instruction. It’s not criticism.’ You know, and Nate tends to – he gets coaching at times, he hangs his head, and it was at a point in the second quarter I couldn’t even give him a play because he thought I was going to tell him, ‘Nate, you suck’ or something.”
Robinson seemed to take Rivers’ words to heart.
“Just keep playing, play through adversity,” Robinson said. “Just turn the page. I was being a little timid in first half. Second half, he told me to just be me. I think I did that.”
Rivers knew full well that he might be dealing with a point guard that was getting overwhelmed.
“I don’t know what he thought I was going to say,” Rivers said. “And he was great. He even started laughing at halftime. I thought that relaxed him, and allowed him to play a little bit more. But with Rondo, you know, I’m so used to telling him what I need everybody – ‘Rondo, tell Paul this.’ I was doing that with Nate and Nate was like, ‘Enough! No more. I don’t want—’ and he finally got what I was doing. I guess he just has to get used to that.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Good news: Shaquille O’Neal and his ‘calf juices’ are improving||12.14.10 at 11:48 am ET|
WALTHAM — You’ve heard of getting your juices going to get into a game. Well, Shaquille O’Neal put a whole new twist on that approach Tuesday when asked to describe how’s he feeling after missing the last two games.
O’Neal said before Tuesday’s practice that his sore right calf is “getting better” and is optimistic that he will be ready for Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden against Amare Stoudemire and the New York Knicks. He worked out on the side and in the weight room but did not practice with the team.
“I’m doing better,” O’Neal said. “My calf juices are getting back up there. I’ll be alright.”
Doc Rivers said that he would see how O’Neal comes through Tuesday’s practice before making a determination on whether to play him Wednesday night against a revitalized Knicks team that has won eight straight and stands just four games behind the 19-4 Celtics in the Atlantic Division.
Semih Erden has filled in for O’Neal the last two games in the starting lineup.
WALTHAM — Paul Pierce has a home in the Boston area and attends sporting events in the off-season. So he knows full well of the rivalries between teams like the Yankees and Red Sox and the Patriots and Jets.
But ask him about the Celtics and Knicks? Well, as the song goes, that’s quite the different story.
Both teams may be on extended winning streaks and both teams may have rich basketball traditions but Celtics captain Pierce said Tuesday that doesn’t mean the Celtics and Knicks have revived the old rivalry between the two cities.
“It’s a rivalry? You [media] let me in on all the new stuff,” Pierce said. “I didn’t know we had a rivalry going.”
The Celtics enter Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden on a 10-game winning streak while the Knicks have won their last eight to stand just four games behind Boston in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.
“We have bigger goals than winning streaks,” Pierce said. “I didn’t know we had a rivalry going. If that’s what you all want, if it’s going sell more tix, get more viewers, I guess so. You [media] all make up the rivalry, we don’t, to be honest. At the end of the day, we’re playing for championships, not certain opponents.”
Big man Glen Davis will be one of the Celtics trying to contain the reinvigorated Knicks front court, led by Amare Stoudemire.
“I’m not worried about that, New York and Boston,” Davis said of any rivalry with the 16-9 Knicks. “That’s just the way it is. I’m worried about winning the game and worried about June, what’s going to happen in June. That’s what I’m worried about. I’m not even going to get into that. New York’s a great team. They’ve been playing well and trying to be where we’re at. It’s going to be a big game for them.”
|The Three-Pointer: One Celtics play says so much||12.10.10 at 12:29 am ET|
It was just one play, lasting 5.2 seconds, yet it said so much about the 2010-11 Celtics.
Not many coaches have the smarts (or the cojones) to draw up a game-winning alley-oop with 6.6 seconds left. But the Celtics have Doc Rivers — one of the best coaches in the business at designing plays following a timeout — and he had the script that resulted in a 102-101 Celtics win over the 76ers in his back pocket all along.
“We worked on the whole timing of it last week,” Rivers told reporters. “We tried to run it earlier in the year, and we had bad timing, so it’s just funny how things worked out. It’s a low-clock play, the ball is in the best passer’s hands, and you have shooters on the floor. … It worked.”
Not many point guards can throw a perfect blind lob over a taller defender in the final moments of a game. But the Celtics have Rajon Rondo, who picked up his 14th assist of the night with 1.4 seconds left when he dropped a pretty pass over the heads of Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday that led to the basket that resulted in his team’s ninth consecutive victory.
Not many post players have the length and athleticism to get from the top of the key to the rim in a blink of an eye. But the Celtics have a healthy Kevin Garnett, who rolled to the basket, caught the lob pass and converted it all in one fluid motion to improve the C’s Eastern Conference-best record to 18-4.
“Last year, Kevin would’ve missed the lob,” Rivers added. “Actually, we wouldn’t have thrown it. We can do it now.”
And not many teams have three deadly shooters who opponents absolutely have to respect in the waning seconds of a one-point game. But the Celtics have Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Nate Robinson, who all hovered around the 3-point line — drawing Andre Iguadola, Jodie Meeks and Louis Williams from the basket and allowing Rivers’ design to play out on the floor.