|Fast Break: Celtics survive another Wizards scare||11.07.12 at 10:21 pm ET|
Thanks to double-doubles from the Big Three, the Celtics survived a second straight game against a Wizards team missing two of its best players. It wasn’t pretty — and required OT — but the Cs’ evened their record at 2-2.
Rondo’s 18 points and 14 assists in the 100-94 victory moved him alone into third place in NBA history with 28 consecutive games with 10-plus assists (behind John Stockton‘s 29, Stockton’s 37 and Magic Johnson‘s 44).
Garnett (20 points, 13 rebounds) committed what could’ve been a costly technical foul when he jerked his elbow in Kevin Seraphin‘s direction late in the fourth quarter, but two Paul Pierce (15 points, 10 rebounds) steals and a Rondo 20-footer with 26 seconds left helped force overtime as Rondo’s 3-pionter at the end of regulation fell short. The C’s defense arrived just in time to salvage the game in OT.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
First things first: The Celtics repeatedly assure the offense will come once they can get back to playing the kind of defense that’s been the trademark of their success the past five seasons. Wednesday night’s first quarter was a start. Led by Garnett and Lee, the Celtics held the Wizards to 29.2 percent shooting (7-24 FG) in the first 12 minutes, building a 21-16 lead that should have been bigger if not for five C’s turnovers.
Garnett gold: Since nobody else put forth any effort in the opening 24 minutes, Garnett exerted twice as much. By halftime, he had 10 rebounds, seven points and two blocks. His final first-half defensive stand was remarkable, singlehandedly guarding the right side of the court and eventually blocking a Trevor Booker layup attempt with two seconds left on the shot clock. Without KG on the floor, the C’s finished minus-13 before the break.
Forward progress: Finally given an opportunity to contribute midway through the third quarter, Chris Wilcox ran the floor with Rondo, made his only field goal and got to the line five times for six points to go along with two boards and a block. In just four minutes of action, he finished a plus-11 — while Garnett sat on the bench.
Very Terry: After admitting it was an adjustment to mesh with a new system, Jason Terry finally asserted himself into the offense. He took 15 shots, made seven of them and scored 16 points off the bench. Somehow, the C’s reserves still got outscored, 53-41.
As a member of Mark Cuban‘s ever-changing Mavericks, Jason Terry saw his share of rookies, castaways and veterans enter the turnstiles attempting to adjust to the Dallas system. Even last season, a year out from winning the NBA championship, the Mavs lost five of their top 12 rotation players. Now, Terry’s the one adjusting.
“We had a lot of turnover in Dallas where we’d bring in new guys every year, it seemed like, so this is nothing new, but for me it’s definitely an adjustment,” said Terry, who averaged 15.1 points, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals last season. “And I know for the guys that have been here, it’s an adjustment for them, because they’re used to playing one way and now you’re implementing guys who are used to playing another, so it’s difficult.”
Even if last year’s Mavericks lost Tyson Chandler, Juan Barea, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Peja Stojakovic, they returned nine players from the title team while adding Vince Carter and Lamar Odom. Yet, Dallas dropped from a No. 3 to a 7 seed during the lockout season and got swept by the Thunder in the first round.
“For us, it never jelled,” said Terry, who made his desire to keep the championship core together clear at the time. “It never happened. That’s why we were out in the first round. It can happen, or it won’t.”
This season, the Celtics returned only four players from the roster that lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Heat. Even when you include Avery Bradley, Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green, coach Doc Rivers still has eight fresh faces in his locker room. What’s to say this team never jells?
|Celtics notes: Doc Rivers announces, ‘If we can’t win with [KG] off the floor, we just won’t win’||11.06.12 at 2:32 pm ET|
WALTHAM — It’s been a recurring theme of the first week of the season. The Celtics need more out of their bench — much more.
Doc Rivers underscored that after open practice for special guests and clients on Tuesday. Rivers has told his team he’s not going to lean on Kevin Garnett for more minutes when he’s already trying to conserve the big man for an 82-game season. Rivers hinted the same could be said for Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, though he feels he has some more wiggle room with them.
“No, no, I’m not going to let him do more. I’m going to play Kevin the same amount of minutes,” Rivers said. “With Paul, Rondo you can go anywhere but if we can’t win with him off the floor, we just won’t win. And I told our bench that. We’re going to play the minutes that I’m giving them. The bench will play the minutes they should get and if they’ve got to do something or we just won’t win. It’s that simple.”
Garnett is averaging a reasonable 29 minutes a game in the first three games. Pierce is at 35 minutes and Rondo is playing 41 minutes per contest. Rivers has not yet seen the consistent production he would like from Chris Wilcox, Brandon Bass and Jeff Green but he feels it will come.
“Not yet but when you take Kevin out, you’re not going to get Kevin,” Rivers added. “That’s why he’s on the bench. But I don’t think that’s been an issue. When he’s been off the floor, like last year, when he was off the floor, it had a dramatic [effect]. I don’t think that’s been the case so far this year at all. I think the guys that have come in have tried to do what they should do. I think the other guys with him have to do more.”
Tuesday’s practice featured detailed instruction from defensive guru Mike Longabardi, who was teaching trapping principles and defensive rules within the system, especially important to the newer players, like the three rookies and Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa.
“Today was just a practice,” Rivers said. “It’s easier here because it’s in your natural surroundings. It was a good practice.”
Rivers again preached patience when talking about the newer players picking up the defensive scheme.
“We’re getting it,” Rivers said. “It’s just going to take time. I thought we were a lot better today. We’re working a lot of principles and tendencies. Offensively, it’s just moving the ball. Defensively, just running the coverages and talking. It just takes time.
“There’s no date,” Rivers added when asked if there’s an expected time by which everyone should be on board. “Every group is different because if one guy doesn’t get it, it brings the whole team down. Every year, it’s a different group. There’s no expiration date on anybody. It’s just takes time.”
|Box and 2: Inside Celtics, Bucks and Wizards, oh my||11.05.12 at 2:39 pm ET|
— Called upon by Doc Rivers Friday night to protect the paint against the Bucks, when smaller lineups weren’t working, Darko Milicic played 4:30 of the first quarter. He missed his only shot — an air-balled baby left hook — and committed more turnovers (2) than he totaled rebounds (1) or blocks (0). Then, he didn’t play Saturday.
Kevin Garnett: “We’re still playing with the chemistry. We have different lineups in which Doc is playing with simultaneously, and we’re still working. No one said this was going to be an easy process.”
Translation: “The Darko Experiment is called that for a reason. Let’s just hope it doesn’t blow up in our face.”
— Over the weekend, Brandon Bass finished a minus-11 in 40:52 without Jared Sullinger on the floor. The Celtics outscored the opponent in just two of his 10 stints sans Sullinger — by one in the final 3:53 of the first quarter against the Wizards and by two Terry free throws in the final 1:35 of that game. Without Bass on the floor, Sullinger finished a plus-14 in 33:29, and the C’s outscored opponents in five of those eight stints. (In case you were wondering, the two played 14:40 together, finished a minus-9 and only outscored opponents once in six stints.)
Rivers (via the Herald): ‘[Sullinger] brings a different component, more importantly rebounding. He knows how to play without the ball. He’s a great passer. He blends well with our starting group.’
Translation: “Sorry Brandon, but you’re going to see a lot more Sullinger in the starting lineup.”
10. No self-respecting team loses to the Wizards: “I had said [Saturday night] was a must-win. The reason is when you play a team like Washington, which has had some injuries and might be short a man, you definitely want to win these games. These are the type of games you just have to win.”
9. The difference between Sully and Bass was negligible: “I know the starting lineup was changed a little bit with Jared Sullinger starting and Brandon Bass coming off the bench, but really I didn’t notice that much. Everyone who came into the game tonight was focused on our defensive coverages.”
8. Terry is clutch, according to Terry: “I was happy to contribute in our win with two free throws down the stretch. It’s definitely in my DNA to make big shots, especially when the game is on the line, whether that’s with free throws or making a play or an assist or a shot to win or tie the game — that’s just who I am.”
7. The JET hasn’t quite arrived in Boston yet: “I’m still trying to get comfortable within the structure of the team. I’m a work in progress. I’m very optimistic. I know we have the making of a championship team. I know we have to continue to grow and there are going to be some speed bumps along the way.”
6. For now, the Celtics are going to struggle against elite teams: “The Heat are the champions, and the core of that team has been together and had two full seasons for the most part. They’re going to know each other very well, while we’re still trying to figure it out. We’re going to struggle in a situation like that.”
|Jason Terry: ‘These are growing pains’||11.02.12 at 11:25 pm ET|
The Celtics didn’t plan on starting off 0-2, but through the first two games of the season it’s clear that the roster — with the additions of the likes of Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger, Leandro Barbosa and the return of Jeff Green, among other roster alterations — hasn’t quite hit its stride yet.
The C’s looked slow and admitted to a lack of communication defensively in their 99-88 loss to the Bucks, a game in which they trailed by anywhere from 16 to 20 for much of the night.
Terry, playing in his second game as a Celtic since signing a three-year deal in the offseason, finished with 10 points, two assists and two rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench on Friday. After the game, the veteran guard diagnosed why the C’s have gotten off to such an unproductive start.
“These are growing pains,” Terry said. “This is what the NBA season, this is what the journey is all about. We’re going to look back at this and say that we grew from it. It just happens, whether it’s injuries, whether it’s what we’re going through right now, there’s always bumps in the road along your journey that you can look back and say, ‘OK. We got through that, we persevered.’
|Irish Coffee: 18 milestones 2012-13 Celtics will eclipse||10.30.12 at 5:13 pm ET|
Before the Celtics renew their rivalry with the Heat in Miami on Tuesday night and both teams begin their march toward what seems like an almost inevitable second straight Eastern Conference finals showdown, let’s predict 18 franchise and NBA milestones the C’s will eclipse during the 2012-13 season.
18. Considering he totaled 620 assists in just 53 games last season, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will shatter his own single-season franchise record for assists (794) and pass Bill Russell for fifth on the C’s career assists list. In doing so, he could become the first NBA player since the turn of the century to average 12 assists per game.
17. Kevin Garnett will score his 6,000th point in a Celtics uniform, passing Ray Allen (5,987) for 21st on the franchise scoring list. He should also surpass 3,000 rebounds, 1,000 assists, 400 steals and 400 blocks in green and white before the year is through, climbing a few more rungs on his ladder to the rafters.
16. Five ways Celtics captain Paul Pierce piles even more cement on his franchise legacy: 1) If he plays all 82, he’ll surpass Robert Parish by a single contest for second behind John Havlicek on the C’s career games played list; 2) If Pierce plays 2,941 minutes, which he did in 2008-09, he’ll pass Russell for second behind Hondo; 3) If he takes his usual 1,000-plus field goal attempts, he’ll pass Larry Bird for second behind Hondo; 4) If he makes 500, he’ll pass Parish for third behind Bird; and 5) Like Rondo, Pierce will pass Russell for fourth in career C’s assists.
15. When the Celtics win their 53rd game of the year — topping Bovada’s over/under of 50.5 — Doc Rivers passes Tommy Heinsohn for second behind Red Auerbach among coaches on the franchise’s career wins list.
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