|Sounds of the game… Celtics 102, 76ers 78||11.28.08 at 11:48 pm ET|
When Paul Pierce scores a season-low six points on 1-of-6 shooting and you still build a 30-point fourth quarter lead, you know you’re a pretty good team. The Boston Celtics, however, may be much, much more than just a pretty good team. They may be in the middle of a season that could better last season’s 66-win world championship run. The Celtics toyed with a Philadelphia 76ers team that showed off six-year, $80 million free agent Elton Brand for the first time. He was of little use to the Sixers since Philly showed it was completely incapable of solving Boston’s swarming defense. The final result, Boston won, 102-78, improving to 15-2 and expanding their lead to an amazing six games in the Atlantic Division.
|Celtics Named GQ Men of the Year||at 11:39 pm ET|
The Boston Celtics were honored by GQ Magazine as Men of the Year: The Athletes, Actors, and Newsmakers who Blew our Minds in ’08. The issue, which is on newsstands now, features a photo of Doc Rivers and the starting five at HealthPoint training facility in Waltham. Four of the 17 championship banners hang behind them.
Celtics great JoJo White writes for the magazine:
‘It had been twenty-two years since we last reached that pinnacle. Twenty-two long, long years between NBA Championships … So when we got Ray Allen to pair with Paul Pierce in the off-season, you thought, Well, that’s good. He’s always been a heck of a shooter. But when we got Garnett on top of Paul and Ray? You knew something special could happen. But it had to happen because of defense. The truth of the matter is that the Celtics always won because of defense. You don’t get seventeen championships by accident.
‘As for beating the Lakers in the finals? That’s sweet. That’s always sweet. But really, this was for Red Auerbach … There was a beauty to it ending on our home court with Red looking down on us. And he got the last laugh. He always did.’
|Preview: Celtics vs. 76ers||11.27.08 at 10:01 pm ET|
On Friday night the Boston Celtics (14-2) will take on the Philadelphia 76ers (7-8) at the TD BankNorth Garden. The 76ers were expected to challenge the Celtics in the Atlantic Division after acquiring Elton Brand this summer, but so far they have yet to pose a threat. The Celtics are riding a six-game winning streak while the 76ers have lost their last two.
In the last five games …
Over the last five games the Celtics have averaged the third most points in the NBA (108 ppg), the 76ers are posting the third least (90.4 ppg). The 76ers have the highest rebounding differential in the league (+6.33) for the season but the Celtics have outrebounded their opponents by nearly eight boards in the past five contests.
The match up to watch will be Kevin Garnett vs. Elton Brand. The big men have seen each other plenty of times in the Western Conference and now they are two of the best in the East. Brand gives the 76ers a legitimate option in the post, something they’ve been lacking of over the years, and they don’t have to rely as much on their running game.
‘You know they’re going to play hard, you know they’re going to crash the boards,’ Garnett said. ‘But having that range from the floor makes them [multi-dimensional]. They’re able to go pick-and-pop. Andre Miller can string out the defense a little bit and throw it back and Elton can hit all the way up to 19-feet jumpers.’
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has made it clear on several occassions that Andre Miller is one of his favorite point guards in the league. Now many are saying the same about Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
‘The problems we’ve had with Philly in the past, last year we struggled with them because of the Andre Miller problem,’ Rivers said. ‘You know, at the point, with his size. I think Rondo’s better suited to handle that this year, and so he’s going to have to.’
Rondo’s fearless hustle has garnered praise from teammates and opponents alike. He enters Friday’s game on a hot streak after scoring 22 points against the Golden State Warriors. See how Rondo and Miller stacked up in the past five games:
Rajon Rondo: 29.2 minutes, 16.6 points, 6.2 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 55.7% FG
Andre Miller: 36.4 minutes, 12.0 points, 6.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 42.3% FG
Keep an Eye On …
The obvious scoring options on the 76ers are Brand and Andre Iguodala. This season, however, versatile forward Thaddeus Young is emerging in Philly. Young is quietly averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds, catching the attention of Garnett.
‘A lot of people don’t really talk about him but Thaddeus Young, I think, is having an exceptional year,’ Garnett said. ‘He’s hitting threes, he’s been able to come off picks … and he’s aggressive. Just some of the games that I’ve seen, when they win it’s because he’s playing really well.’
The Bottom Line
‘I think they ran a lot more this year than last year,’ said Paul Pierce. ‘They’re good in transition with Iguodala but I think now that they’ve added Brand to the dimension, they’re more built I think for the playoffs. They have early struggles, I think they’re a better team than their record has really shown as they get used to one another, but definitely they’re capable of scoring 100 points. But we’ve got our work cut out for us again defensively.’
Check in with the WEEI Celtics Game Day Blog for all the latest from the Celtics-76ers match up.
|Sounds of the game… Celtics 119, Warriors 111||at 10:11 am ET|
Maybe Stephen Jackson was onto something. He told our own Jessica Camerato that the Celtics deserve the respect he refused to give them last year. And after the game he said one reason he has changed his mind is the play of Rajon Rondo. The point guard’s teammates are also on board. Rondo led a dramatic 32-16 surge in the third quarter that left Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett calling for Rondo to get some All-Star love. The Rondo-for-All-Star push continues Friday night at the Garden as the 14-2 Celtics welcome the 7-8 Philadelphia 76ers.
|Watch that temper…||11.25.08 at 1:28 pm ET|
Perkins didn’t come into the season intending to become the NBA’s new bad boy. But if people want to draw that comparison after drawing eight technical fouls in the first 15 games of the season, then so be it.
“It doesn’t matter, they’re two great players in this league so I hope so,” Perkins said following Tuesday’s practice. “Nobody is getting under my skin. I really start all the problems. It’s not like they’re starting stuff with me. I pretty much start everything.”
“I use it to get in my opponents’ heads,” Pierce said Tuesday. “I don’t use it to start anything. I use it to frustrate my opponent, sort of what Larry Bird used to do in the day, Michael (Jordan), Gary Payton, these guys. I use it more as a tactic. I’m not trying to fight anybody. I do it in practice.”
Perkins, meanwhile, has always had a fierce but quiet demeanor on the court.
“I don’t really worry about it. It is what it is. They’re either going to like me or they’re not. I’m not saying anything to them. I’m just going to go out there and play my game. I’m an emotional guy but it’s not anything I can’t change. I can control it. It’s more getting into with (other players) than anything.”
Now, this season, opposing players have chosen to ride the Celtics big man to see if they can draw him into verbal, and sometimes, physical encounters that result in technical fouls.
Well, 15 games into the season, Perkins has eight. Under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, if you collect 16, you earn yourself a seat on the bench in civilian clothes for a game.
Not what Doc Rivers and the Celtics are looking for.
“Last year was more techs toward the refs,” said Perkins, who picked up his eighth T on Sunday, jabbing and jarring with Jose Calderon in Toronto. “This year is more getting into with people. I’ve just been trying to keep my head. Last game, I wasn’t trying to get a tech. I’m trying to get it overturned.”
But in fairness to Perkins, Rivers was quick to point out that he thinks at least two of the instances should be reviewed and repealed.
“I’m concerned,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, sounding somewhat worried about Perkins’ rep. “We’re sending a lot of the tapes to the league because a lot of the double-technicals are where someone saying something to him and he turns around and they get a double-tech. That’s, to me, where the officials have to do their job. I think it’s easy to say say, ‘double-technical’ instead of saying this guy started it. We’re going to try to get a couple of them rescinded. It won’t happen but we’re going to try.”
Rivers then had this message for Perk.
“You want them to be emotional but not be emotionally sabotaged,” Rivers said.
Perk wasn’t looking for any shelter on Tuesday, continuing his reputation on the team as a stand-up guy.
“I blame it on myself,” he said. “I’m a man. Nobody makes me do that. I do it on my own. It’s very hard because you’re emotional and you’re going to get into with sometimes, especially at the position I play, you’re going to bang with people a lot. It’s a lot of physical contact. It gets emotional at times.”
|Just ‘ridiculous’…||11.18.08 at 5:54 pm ET|
“I was just surprised. I thought it was a ridiculous suspension, I really did,” Doc said. “Anybody who’s been around the game long enough, whether you’ve played it or not, you’ve got your head sideways and someone strikes you not once but twice, your reaction… your reflex is to flail. And I guess that constitutes a punch. Clearly, he’s not a good fighter if that’s the case if that’s a punch.
“It is what it is. There’s nothing you can do about it. We have to play tonight so we have to move forward.”
Garnett’s one-game sit-out for his flailing against Milwaukee’s Andrew Bogut will cost him $200,000.
“I just want more consistency from our league. I think they have to look at things differently,” Rivers said. “I just looked at the Shaq thing, and I hate to call out Shaq, but that was a hard foul, where a guy was suspended in the air and comes down on his face and he gets $50,000 and Kevin gets $200,000 and misses a game. Those two things don’t go together and we have to pay the price.”
Brian Scalabrine got his first start of the season, taking Garnett’s place in the lineup.
“You don’t replace Kevin Garnett. Everyone just has to pitch in and do a little bit more,” Rivers said.
|Pregame: Scal to Start against Knicks||at 5:12 pm ET|
Brian Scalabrine will get the start on Tuesday night against the New York Knicks in place of the suspended Kevin Garnett. Doc Rivers went with Scal to keep in second unit in tact. This will be just the 51st start of Scal’s eight-year career and 28th with the Celtics.
Garnett’s suspension was the hot topic before the game for both teams. Rivers cited Shaquille O’Neal’s recent fine in comparison to Garnett’s punishment. “I was just surprised. I’m not going to get into this long because I thought it was a ridiculous suspension. I really did,” he said. Rivers also pointed out that KG isn’t even allowed in the building tonight.
Inside the Celtics locker room Garnett’s teammates were cautious when giving their opinion of the ruling.
“Ya’ll want me to say something bad, huh?” Kendrick Perkins said with a smile before adding, “I don’t know, it’s kind of crazy. But you know it’s something we’ve got to deal with. I think he’s handling it well but what can we do about it?”
Said Leon Powe, “Well I can’t really say but, you know, I wouldn’t have suspended him for that. But it’s the league and there are rules so whatever they decide, we’ve got to roll with. So now we’ve got to go out there with KG but we’ve got to still be a team and we’ve still got to go out there and fight and play together.”
As for the Knicks, they are looking to take advantage of the defensive void on the Celtics. “KG is pretty much the anchor defensively,” said Jamal Crawford. “He really gets after it defensively but they’re still a good defensive team without KG. But with him, he just takes them to a different level. It’ll be a lot of similar things that we were going to do before but you make minor adjustments.”
Paul and I will be bringing out the latest live from the TD BankNorth Garden, so tune in during the game for all the most up-to-date information.
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