|Fast Break: Celtics vs. Timberwolves||12.20.09 at 8:32 pm ET|
BOSTON – Their first meeting was close, but that would not be the case on Sunday. The Celtics reached a season-high in scoring and easily defeated the T’Wolves, 122-104, at the Garden.
Turning Point: In a moment that is sure to appear on SportsCenter, Eddie House stole the ball, passed it behind his back as he stumbled out of bounds near the scorer’s table and dished it to Tony Allen for a dunk over Corey Brewer. That second-quarter play proved the entire Celtics squad ‘ not just their starting five ‘ was going to cause problems for the Timberwolves.
Player of the Game: Paul Pierce hit six 3s (tying a team season-high) and led all players with 29 points. He shot a perfect three-for-three from long range in the second quarter alone. Pierce also chipped in seven rebounds and four assists.
– Tony Allen also had an impressive night ‘ 15 points (5-8 FG, 5-7 FT), six rebounds, three assists. This was Allen’s second consecutive double-digit performance.
– The Celtics scored a season-high 34 points in the first quarter. (The previous high was 31 against the Thunder on December 4.) The Celtics held the Timberwolves to 28 percent shooting in the first quarter (7-25 FG). Just four Minnesota players scored in the first 12 minutes compared to seven on the C’s.
– Kendrick Perkins was whistled for a technical in the third quarter. He did not get to the free throw line the entire night.
– The Celtics improved to 4-0 when scoring more than 30 points in the first quarter. They are also 4-0 on Sundays.
|Fast Break: Celtics vs. Wizards||12.10.09 at 11:18 pm ET|
A 7-12 record can be deceiving when the team that carries it features Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison. The Wizards came to play on Thursday night, but ultimately it was the Celtics‘ chemistry and experience that prevailed, 104-102, in Washington.
The Celtics went up 14 at halftime but came out cold in the third quarter. The Wizards went on a 22-6 run to start the second half before the Celtics fought back, 13-2, to end the quarter. With both teams swapping buckets in the fourth, this game could have gone either way. It came down to clutch shots and free throws, with the Celtics ultimately claiming the two-point edge.
Player of the game: After being benched in the first quarter with two personal fouls, Rajon Rondo carried the Celtics to the win. Rondo posted 21 points (10-20 FG), 11 assists, and three rebounds. Six points and three assists came in the final nine minutes of the game. He recorded his ninth double-double of the season. Segue into …
Turning point of the game: With just over a minute to go and the game tied at 98 apiece, Kevin Garnett set a pick that opened up the baseline for Rondo. Rondo got up for a one-handed slam that made a statement and put the Celtics back on top.
– Ray Allen scored his 20,000th career point in the third quarter. He now ranks 33rd in career points all-time and fifth among current players behind Garnett (21,601). Click here for more on the milestone.
– The Celtics outrebounded the Wizards, the league’s third-best rebounding team, 40-34.
– The C’s improved to 10-2 both when leading at halftime and scoring 50+ points in the first half.
– All of the Celtics starters scored in double digits. Kendrick Perkins (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Rondo posted double-doubles.
– Tony Allen posted eight points and three rebounds in his second game back (ankle).
|C’s want to see improvement starting now||11.24.09 at 3:30 pm ET|
“I know Doc said starting from the last game that we want to try to make a run all the way up until our Christmas game,” Kendrick Perkins said.
Perkins had 16 points and 13 rebounds on Sunday in New York. He is second on the team in rebounding behind Kevin Garnett and is averaging 10.5 points a game.
“We want to be on the right track. I know guys are locked in and focused right now. We’ve just got to stick together. It’s not always going to be great times through the season all the time so we just have to stick together.”
The Celtics improved to 10-4 by surviving an overtime scare on Sunday in New York to beat the Knicks, 107-105, on Garnett’s jumper at the buzzer. They play Philadelphia on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
|Perkins: Inside the mind of a shot-blocker||11.23.09 at 11:27 pm ET|
Kendrick Perkins leads the Celtics in blocked shots this season and also is one of the top swatters in the NBA. His 29 blocks through 14 games ranks him seventh overall in the league in blocks per game (2.07) and blocks per 48 minutes (3.73). He ranks third in total blocks among all NBA centers and second in the Eastern Conference.
Perkins gave WEEI.com a glimpse into the mind of a shot-blocker:
Good block, bad block: ‘A good block is when you can block a shot and keep it in play. A block, rebound, keep it in play where you get the possession. A bad block is when you block it and block it out of bounds and you’ve got to play defense all over again.’
Timing is everything: ‘Timing, you’ve got to read. I think you’ve got to read, see what’s going on. Sometimes you’ve got to judge whether or not you can actually block the shot. Is it worth trying to go and block it? So it’s all timing and decision making.’
Judgment call: ‘Well, you can tell if a guy’s out of position as far as just how he goes up, if he’s kind of capable of making the shot. If a guy goes up out of control, you kind of want to fall back and just wait for a rebound.’
Making the move: ‘When it leaves his hands, then you jump up.’
Perkins has used his judgment to make cautious decisions on defense. He leads all Eastern Conference centers in blocks per personal foul (.74). Perkins shows no signs of letting up this season, either. He is averaging a season-best 2.5 blocks per game on zero days’ rest.
|Celtics generous in win over Jazz||11.11.09 at 11:00 pm ET|
There is a reason why the Celtics entered Wednesday’s game leading the league in assists. It isn’t only because of Rajon Rondo — point guards Steve Nash, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams are all ahead of him in dimes per game. It’s because the Celtics as a team look to pass, and that ball movement and selflessness were determining factors in their win over the Jazz.
‘Doc [Rivers] and Coach [Armond] Hill were just saying move the ball,’ Rondo said after the Celtics 105-86 victory. ‘It started in practice. We kept getting each other involved and we made plays for each other.’
The Celtics dished out 30 assists to the Jazz 18. Rondo accounted for 11, which totals more than Jazz starting guard Deron Williams and Ronnie Brewer combined.
They looked for not just one or two extra passes on Wednesday. One of the most significant possessions of the game involved four in the third quarter — Rondo to Ray Allen, Allen to Kendrick Perkins, Perkins behind the back to Kevin Garnett, Garnett back to Rondo for the lay in.
That sequence was memorable to many, but Rondo is so accustomed to sharing the ball that it was just another trip down the floor for him.
‘I don’t even remember the play,’ he said. ‘I think it was like five passes maybe, but I don’t remember how I got there.’
If the Celtics continue to see each other on the court like they did against the Jazz, they will remember how they ended up in the win column throughout the season.
|Grousbeck: Green days for C’s||11.06.09 at 1:05 am ET|
Are the Green concerned about their greenbacks?
That financial question was raised in a recent article on Yahoo! Sports, which suggested co-owner Wyc Grousbeck’s consideration of suspending injured Glen Davis had less to do with discipline and more to do with money.
Just months after signing a two-year deal worth over $6 million, Davis broke his thumb fighting a childhood friend and will be sidelined for at least six weeks. Reports then surfaced that the team was looking to take back some of the salary. Days after the Davis episode subsided, the Celtics committed $55 million to Rajon Rondo over the next five years.
Coupling the money owed to an injured Davis with their recent spending spree on Rondo, is Grousbeck concerned about the team’s finances? Quite the opposite. In fact, the Celtics are on a record-setting pace for revenue as they feature a reloaded team contending for another trophy.
‘On the contrary, we are on course to set a new record for revenues thanks to our fantastic fan support and support from our sponsors and broadcast partners,’ Grousbeck told WEEI.com via email. ‘We appreciate everything they have done to support the team.’
Rondo’s new deal is a major financial obligation for a team who already has over $32 million tied up with starters Rondo, Kevin Garnett, and Kendrick Perkins next season alone. Next summer they will face Paul Pierce‘s $21.5 million player option and will also have to address Ray Allen‘s unrestricted free agency.
That’s just the starting lineup. The Celtics will also face the question of building their bench as role players including Marquis Daniels, Eddie House, Brian Scalabrine, Tony Allen, and Shelden Williams have expiring contracts.
The new-look Celts have been nothing short of a hit sensation. They are off to a 6-0 start two years removed from their 17th title and one year removed from reaching the Eastern Conference Semifinals with an undermanned/overachieving team.
And regardless of their upcoming financial commitments, Grousbeck remains confident the organization is prepared to continue its pursuit for another championship.
Said Grousbeck, ‘I thank the fans and sponsors and will do everything I can to keep a winning team on the floor.’
|Celts Make it Five Straight||10.18.09 at 6:09 pm ET|
Marquis Daniels can do a lot of things on the basketball court. That’s a big reason why the former undrafed free agent has had a long and productive career as a role player.
Coming into the Celtics preseason game with the Raptors Sunday in Toronto, Doc Rivers figured to see just how many things Daniels could do on the court. He has already proven himself as a capable ball handler and backup swing man, but Rivers wanted to see him running the point and playing small forward for extended stretches of game action in the Celtics 101-82 victory over Toronto. (Click here for a recap).
Daniels was in the 3-spot for about six minutes of the second quarter when he ran with Rajon Rondo and Eddie House in the backcourt and Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace up front. The lineup had some rough spots offensively, but they were active and pesky on defense and Rivers may have found yet another combination to play with once the regular season starts.
There was talk of other more exotic lineup combinations, but few materialized Sunday. Instead Ray Allen and Rondo played 30+ minutes and Kevin Garnett checked in with a 21-point, 28-minute afternoon. The starters were in rhythm offensively in the first half, shooting 78 percent in the first quarter as Garnett and Allen combined to go 10-for-12 for 23 points.
The second half was more ragged, but all in all, it was another productive preseason outing for the Celts who have won five straight.
A few other observations:
Allen finds his stroke: As the Celtics check items off their preseason to-do list, they can add another notch after Allen finally had a hot shooting night. Coming into the game, Allen was shooting just 36 percent in his four outings. But after going 6-for-6 in the first half and finishing with an efficient 20-points, the veteran shooter is back on track.
Not that anyone should have been worrying about Allen. He is coming off one of the best shooting seasons of his career and he came into camp in terrific shape. But Allen is in the final year of his contract and his season will be watched carefully for any signs of slippage. As a general rule, when shooting guards in their 30’s lose it, they tend to lose it quickly.
Allen has been able to defy the ravages of time and has the game to continue being a successful shooter for a few more years. Whether that will translate into another big contract remains to be seen.
Inside the matchups: The Celtics don’t figure to get a lot of competition from the Atlantic Division this year. The Knicks and Nets are in various stages of their rebuilding programs and while the Sixers and Raptors should find themselves in playoff contention, neither is likely to make a serious move in the east.
Still, the games against Toronto are some of the more intriguing ones for the Celtics because there are three great individual matchups — Rondo vs. Jose Calderon, Paul Pierce vs. Hedo Turkoglu and Kendrick Perkins vs. Chris Bosh.
Rondo and Calderon are two of the top point guards in the conference, while Pierce and Turkoglu love to mix it up with each other. The two are among the craftiest practitioners of their art in the league and Pierce has tremendous respect for Turkoglu.
Perkins, meanwhile, is on the cusp of earning serious defensive cred around the league, especially after he battled Dwight Howard with one arm in last season’s playoffs. Bosh is one of his toughest covers because the Raptors big man can go inside and out and because he has several inches on Perkins.
Give Bosh the edge Sunday. He had Perkins in foul trouble for most of the afternoon and finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, but expect to see some great battles during the regular season.
NOTES: As expected, Tony Allen (ankle) and Bill Walker (knee surgery) didn’t play. Former Celtic Patrick O’Bryant had two points, four rebounds and five fouls in 12 uninspired minutes. The teams combined for 43 turnovers and 54 fouls.
The Celtics have two more preseason games — at New York Tuesday and at Cleveland Wednesday. Don’t expect to see much against the Cavs.
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