|Ugly clincher: C’s finally beat Pistons, clinch playoff berth||04.03.13 at 10:09 pm ET|
Jeff Green scored a game-high 34 points and Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass each had 17 as the Celtics held off the Pistons, 98-93, Wednesday night at TD Garden. As it turned out, the Celtics clinched a spot in the playoffs by virtue of Philadelphia’s 88-83 loss in Charlotte as the fourth quarter was getting underway in Boston.
The Celtics snapped a two-game skid and improved to 39-36, maintaining their tenuous lead on Milwaukee for seventh in the Eastern Conference and out of a first-round encounter with the Miami Heat. With the Bucks losing at home to Minnesota, the Celtics now lead Milwaukee by 2.5 games for seventh in the East.
The Celtics won the game despite getting out-rebounded, 52-34, outscored in the paint, 58-28, and beaten in second-chance points, 26-7. Boston shot 50 percent on the night while holding the Pistons to 37 percent shooting, including 4-of-24 from 3-point range.
The Pistons had beaten Boston twice in their previous two meetings, scoring 103 points each time and winning by an average of 17 points a contest. Detroit shot 50 percent in each game in handing the Celtics two unexpected losses in Auburn Hills.
The Celtics appeared to be in for another long night against the bigger Pistons in the first quarter. Detroit jumped out to a six-point lead twice before settling for a 30-25 lead over Boston after 12 minutes.
Thanks to eight of his team-leading 23 points in the second, the Celtics outscored the Pistons, 29-14, and took a 54-44 lead to the locker room at halftime.
The Celtics built their lead to 18, 70-52, on two Bass free throws with 5:37 left in the third. They led by 18, 74-56, on a Chris Wilcox layup with 3:50 left in the quarter. But the Celtics fell asleep the rest of the period, allowing the Pistons to score the final 11 points of the period and cut the lead to 74-67 heading into the fourth.
Two Brandon Knight free throws with 9:21 left cut Boston’s lead to three, 79-76.
Charlie Villanueava blew a layup with eight minutes left that would have cut the lead to one. The Pistons threw away another fast break chance with 7:22 left and Pierce came down and hit a jumper to put Boston back up five, 83-78, with seven minutes left. Villanueva, the University of Connecticut product, gave the Celtics a chance to avoid another embarrassing loss. Villanueva was 2-for-17 from the field and missed all eight 3-point attempts.
Green’s jumper with 4:55 left put Boston up, 89-80. His put-back slam dunk of a Jason Terry missed jumper with 3:36 brought the crowd to their feet and put Boston ahead, 91-83. A technical on the Celtics bench and a two Greg Munroe free throws cut the lead down to four, 91-87, with three minutes left but Green answered with an 18-foot jumper with 2:56 left.
Jonas Jerebko gave Detroit new life with a three with 2:29 left, as the Pistons pulled within 93-90. Knight, infamous for getting dunked on by DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers, blew a wide open layup with just under two minutes left that would’ve drawn the Pistons within one.
Green’s third trey of the night from the left baseline put Boston up 96-91 with just 45.3 seconds left. Rodney Stuckey passed on a wide-open, game-tying three with 20 seconds left, instead deferring to Villanueva, who missed his seventh triple attempt of the night.
The Celtics continue their four-game homestand on Friday night at the Garden with a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. For more from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach from the Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Doc Rivers on Rajon Rondo: ‘They say he’s doing tremendous’||03.29.13 at 11:39 pm ET|
The Celtics got an added boost on their bench for Friday’s showdown with the Hawks.
Rajon Rondo made his first appearance on the sidelines with the team since having season-ending ACL surgery on his right knee.
‘It was nice. It was nice,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He told us today he was coming in, and it was good to have him back around. He’s moving okay. You know, it’s funny, I’m looking at it knowing he’s nowhere near, but that’s the first thing you look at. Having gone through that experience, we sat and talked about a lot of the stuff you have to go through. So, it brought back these horrendous memories, actually. But he’s, from his doctors, they say he’s doing tremendous.’
Rivers was asked to describe Rondo’s spirits while on the sidelines.
‘Oh, I don’t know, I have no idea,” Rivers said. “I mean, I don’t care who you are, especially if you’re on a team sport I think these types of injuries are very lonely. Very hard, because rehab is all by yourself with some stranger. And you’re away from your team. Just brutal rehab. That’s what it is. He’s been in ‘ wherever, Jacksonville, wherever, Florida, Pensacola ‘ and that’s tough. His family has been going back and forth. But he’s made the commitment and he’s been great.’
Asked if Rondo tried to exert himself in the huddle, Rivers laughed, “No, no, no. I told him to be nice. And he was.”
The players were the most affected – and inspired – by Rondo’s presence.
‘Definitely,” Paul Pierce said. “It’s good to get him around the guys, to see some of his new teammates. Who knows ‘ a lot of these guys might be here for him next year. It’s good for him to get acquainted with them. He’s done his surgery, he seems to be in good spirits, so its good to see him.’
“It was fun. It was good to see him. He’s got a little fro now,” Jeff Green laughed. “It was good to Rondo, glad he’s doing well. Wish he were on the court but I think it was a big emotional boost for us to have him on the bench with us.”
How big of a boost was it to the players?
“It’s big,” Green said. “I think a lot of people counted us out when he went down, when Sully [Jared Sullinger] went down, too. But we’ve been coming together, doing our part, playing hard. We’ve been talking and he’s been seeing things from a different point of view.
“Definitely, most definitely,” Green added. “He sees us playing hard and that’s all you can do.”
Since Rondo had his ACL repaired on February 12, the Celtics have added several new players, including Shav Randolph, DJ Williams, Jordan Crawford (at the trade deadline) and Terrence Williams.
|Fast Break: Shavlik Randolph, Celtics shoot down Hawks||at 9:59 pm ET|
In his first game back on the Celtics bench since his knee surgery, Rajon Rondo witnessed everything his new-look team had to offer. Shavlik Randolph (9 points, 13 rebounds) turned in the finest performance of his NBA career and Jeff Green (27 points) submitted another critic-silencing effort in a 118-107 victory against the Hawks that gave the C’s a 2.5-game lead on the seventh seed over the idle Bucks.
Kevin Garnett may have missed his fourth straight game with a foot injury, but fellow over-35 club members Paul Pierce (20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) and Jason Terry (24 points) shined. Here’s what else went right.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Shav: In eight first-half minutes, Shavlik Randolph made both his shots and grabbed five boards. The C’s trailed by four when he entered early in the second quarter and led by 11 when he left. Given his team’s depth and Chris Wilcox‘s struggles, Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been turning to Randolph earlier, and the 6-foot-10 big man has delivered in limited action. His biggest contribution has been rebounding (10.4 per 36 minutes), but he also appears to grasp the defensive rotations, which doesn’t hurt in Doc’s book.
Terry and Terrence: Sounds like a bad Disney Channel program, right? Actually, the duo put on a good show. A second quarter, Terry (7-10 FG) made back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game, and Terrence Williams sandwiched a pair of emphatic dunks around a Pierce layup to give the C’s a lead. That kickstarted a 22-6 run that pushed the edge to double digits. Terry scored 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc in the frame.
Green and Pierce: The two Celtics wings have each raised their game for a Celtics squad in desperate need of leaders without Garnett on the floor. Green, obviously, has been the bigger surprise, eclipsing 20 points for the fourth time this month and fourth time in eight starts. Meanwhile, despite hobbling his way through a portion of the game, Pierce continued to do Truth things, submitting his third triple-double of the season. In all, they combined for 47 points, 14 assists and 14 rebounds.
|Three for all: Jeff Green, Jason Terry and Shav Randolph lead C’s to key win over Hawks||at 9:49 pm ET|
Shav Randolph picked a fine time for the game of his NBA career. The 29-year-old Duke product had 13 rebounds and nine points, just missing his first career double-double, as the Celtics continued their fight for playoff position with a 118-107 win over the Atlanta Hawks Friday night at TD Garden. The win drew Boston to within 1.5 games of sixth-place Atlanta in the Eastern Conference race, just two games back in the loss column.
With the injured Rajon Rondo watching from the Celtics bench, the Celtics put on an offensive exhibition, led by 27 points from Jeff Green and 24 from Jason Terry. The Celtics shot 11-of-23 from 3-point range, including 5-of-7 from Terry, who paced a big effort from the bench. Paul Pierce picked up a triple-double with a strong fourth-quarter effort. Pierce finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Celtics, who improved to 38-34.
For Pierce, it was his third triple-double of the season and 10th of his career. Another milestone was reached as Terry passed the 1,900 plateau in career 3-pointers, becoming just the fourth player in NBA history to pass the milestone. Terry stands behind only Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Jason Kidd. Pierce is fifth with 1,810
Thanks to scorching shooting from beyond the arc, the Celtics posted their highest point total of the first half all season when they put up 66 points and raced out to a 66-56 halftime lead.
Leading the charge was Terry, who was 4-for-5 from 3-point range and scored 14 of his team-leading 16 points in the second quarter. Jordan Crawford nailed a three at the first-quarter buzzer and Green answered with 5.8 seconds left in the second as the Celtics seized momentum.
The unsung hero of the first half was Randolph. With Chris Wilcox fighting foul trouble and the Hawks attempting to take advantage of their superior size, Randolph grabbed five rebounds and scored four points. Randolph came into the game with the Celtics trailing, 38-34, with just under 10 minutes left in the second quarter.
When he checked back out eight minutes later, the Celtics had completed a 27-10 run and built a 11-point lead, 61-50.
Randolph thrilled the crowd again in the third quarter when Wilcox picked up his fourth foul with 9:15 left in the quarter. He blocked a Josh Smith shot and hauled in three rebounds, including an offensive put-back during a key run that ended in a Jeff Green three that put Boston up, 83-68, Boston’s biggest lead to that point.
The Celtics led comfortably, 98-87, on a Crawford jumper when the Hawks put on a push to get back into the game. The Hawks scored the five points to make it a six-point game before Terry answered with a mid-range jumper. Terry stepped into a three with 5:49 left after a wild loose-ball scramble. That three was Boston’s 10th of the night and put them up, 105-94. Green hit a jumper with 5:08 left to stretch the lead back to 13, 107-94.
Green’s three with 2:27 left put Boston up, 112-101, sealed Atlanta’s fate.The Celtics are off Saturday before playing Sunday night at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks. For complete coverage from the Garden from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Danny Ainge: Jeff Green ‘deserves to be on the court most minutes’||03.21.13 at 6:05 pm ET|
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined Salk & Holley in his weekly Thursday afternoon appearance to face questions about his team’s tough losses to the Hornets and Heat, Jeff Green‘s (lack of) playing time and the NCAA tournament.
C’s coach Doc Rivers, who ripped his team’s performance in New Orleans, only played Green 26 minutes and resorted to another off-balanced Paul Pierce isolation jumper in the 87-86 loss. Even Ainge seemed to have questions about those decisions.
“I think Jeff is starting to prove and has proven to Doc that he deserves to be on the court most minutes of the game,” Ainge said. “Doc needs something off the bench, and I think he’s trying to figure all that out.
“And he will. He’s played Jeff at the 2 and the 3 and the 4 this year, and so I think that last night might’ve been a good opportunity for Jeff to play more at the 2. They had two big guys in there. They were killing us on the glass in the second half. I think in one stretch it was 27-9, and that just shows you lack of effort.”
Ainge stopped himself before including Green’s second-half performance as part of that lack of effort, but he did cite Brandon Bass‘ improved play in defense of Rivers’ decision and eventually blamed the loss on the backcourt.
“I think that last night maybe [we needed] some Jeff at the 2 guard,” said Ainge, who watched Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee combine for eight points in 39 combined minutes, “because our guard play was not good last night.’
While Ainge commended Anthony Davis‘ effort in what he termed “a bad loss” — calling the Hornets rookie “a Spiderman” and “a young, athletic KG” — he also expressed disappointment in his team’s late-game execution.
|Donny Marshall on M&M: ‘I did not have a problem’ with Paul Pierce’s last shot||03.19.13 at 1:37 pm ET|
In the Celtics‘ 105-103 loss to the Heat on Monday night, Green scored a career-high 43 points. In two of the games that Kevin Garnett has missed due to injury, Green has started and stepped up big time, combining for 74 points.
“From what I understand, [in] last night’s game, KG was in [Green’s] ear as well before, telling him to be that guy that he was,” Marshall said. “Your shots are going to be different obviously when KG comes back. He’s not Carmelo [Anthony] by any means. He’s not going to take 20, 25 shots, and it may make it easier for Jeff when KG comes back. If I’m a wing player, I throw the ball into KG, I know heads are going to turn. If they don’t go double-team when KG is playing well, they’re still going to have to respect him. That means now it’s my opportunity, my job to cut to the basket, to move without the basketball, and KG is such a great passer that Jeff Green I think will still get that quality shot. … At times, you have to be selfish for your team, meaning you may have to take those shots. You may have to take different risks when you’re out there, and that’s how you, I think, gain the respect of your teammates and also let them know that, ‘OK, I’m here to help you,’ and not just put everything on Paul [Pierce] and KG.”
With Green’s excellent play of late, Doc Rivers may have some thinking to do when Garnett returns. For most of the season, Green has come off of the bench, with players like Brandon Bass getting the starting nod.
“They tried to bring Brandon off the bench and I just don’t think his personality is fit for coming off the bench,” Marshall said. “I don’t think he’s one of those ‘go get it’ guys. You don’t run anything for him in the post. If you think about where most of his shots come from, they come off drive, draw and kick to that little 16-, 14-foot area. So, Brandon Bass is not going to be one of those guys that you’re going to showcase off the bench. So, I don’t know how you go about bringing him off the bench. I think you almost have to keep them in there and keep some semblance of interior with Bass on the floor.”
With the Heat’s two-point victory, they now have the second-longest winning streak in NBA history at 23 games. With seven seconds left, Pierce attempted a fadeaway 3-pointer that clanked off the rim, all but ensuring the Heat win.
“If that shot goes in and it’s Terrence Williams or somebody you’re like, ‘Still probably not a great shot and he got lucky,’ Marshall said. “If Pierce makes that shot, we’re like, ‘There’s Pierce. That’s his legacy, that’s what he does.’ LeBron James to me is not as good a defender as everyone wants him to be. … You have a situation in LeBron James that people think, ‘Oh, great defender. [Pierce] had to get that shot off quick.’ I really don’t believe laterally that LeBron is that great a defender. There are better defenders in the NBA, but he’s so big and so explosive that if Pierce catches that, pump fakes, I don’t think LeBron goes for it. If he does, Pierce is probably going to take one dribble and step back. That’s what he does. … The shot was a little early, but I did not have a problem with that shot because of who took it, and really what the situation was.”
“I thought we competed well,” Rivers said. “I thought we had a lot of chances to win the game. For me, and for our players, we’re really disappointed. But I think we would enjoy that matchup [in the playoffs], there’s no doubt about that.”
Rivers said the Celtics’ biggest issues were their failure to continue to push the pace after having early success playing the Heat’s preferred uptempo style, as well as turnovers and defensive miscues.
“We did make some mistakes,” Rivers said. “The turnovers, I though, cost us the game. And then our defensive mistakes — game-planning mistakes that I was frustrated with. We gave up three or four, I’ll maybe even say five or six layups to the basket where we were switching and we shouldn’t have. Those are the things that hurt you.”
The Celtics had a chance to take the lead in the final seconds, but Paul Pierce missed a fadeaway 3-pointer off an inbounds pass.
“I don’t mind that,” Rivers said. “Listen, he got a good look at it. He maybe could have drove, I don’t know. I don’t question those types of shots at the end of the game. Because he makes those shots. If it goes in, it’s a great shot. If it doesn’t go in, then could we have gotten a better shot? I don’t know.”
Added Rivers: “Paul takes fadeaways. That’s part of his shot. Having said that, the play was really what it was, except for it wasn’t designed for a 3. Jason Terry actually set a terrific pick on LeBron. LeBron actually got tangled up on it — give him credit, he closes so quick it’s amazing. But the play was just for a pin-down from Jason Terry, because I knew they didn’t want to get off his body. And I thought Paul would have an opening. And Paul went out to the 3. He didn’t probably have to. He may have been able to tight curl that. But I don’t second-guess that.”
Jeff Green scored 43 points, but he was not involved in the Celtics’ final offensive play.
“He just had the shot before that,” Rivers explained. “Paul’s a better shot-maker low clock. Jeff Green is great, obviously. But they guarded him. There was a back screen for him on the back side of that. There was more than one option on the play. The guy who takes the ball out decides who he thinks is open.”
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Austin Ainge Offers Window to C's Pre-Draft Process
- Trade Possibilities for C's with Draft Approaching
- Latest Buzz Surrounding Jamal Crawford, Kristaps Porzingis, Celtics'...
- Latest NBA Trade Rumors, Buzz
- Ranking Celtics' Biggest NBA Draft Needs
- Buzz Surrounding Ty Lawson, Celtics Draft Plans and More
- Realistic Targets for Celtics to Chase During Offseason