|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.
|Perkins and Daniels to Kick Off Celtics Stay in School Program||10.14.09 at 9:41 pm ET|
On Friday the Celtics will kick off the 19th season of their Stay in School program. Kendrick Perkins and Marquis Daniels will host an assembly of honor students at the Mildred Avenue Middle School in Mattapan and encourage all students to take pride in their academic work.
The Celtics will visit Boston public middle schools throughout the season to motivate students and emphasize the importance of staying in school. Top students will be honored for academic success and perfect attendance at the end of each year. The Stay in School program, presented by Arbella Insurance, is a collaboration of efforts from the Celtics, New England Sports Museum, Northeastern University Center for the Study of Sport in Society, and Boston Public Schools.
|Pierce Turning 32 Going on 20||10.12.09 at 11:08 pm ET|
“I still feel in my early 20s,” he told WEEI.com after a recent practice. “I feel like I’m back in Kansas.”
Pierce turns 32 on Tuesday, and a new lifestyle has him energized as he enters his 12th NBA season. Last month he was one of several Celtics who showed up to media day with a noticeably slimmer frame. While Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis admitted to dropping up to 15 and 30 pounds respectively, Pierce (who is listed at 235 pounds) isn’t paying attention to the scale.
“I maybe lost two pounds, I don’t know,” he said. As for losing body fat, “Probably so, I haven’t measured it, but most likely I have.”
Pierce isn’t counting the pounds because it’s how his body feels, not what the scale reads, that matters more to him. And even though he feels young, he understands the reality of being a professional athlete in his 30s. Pierce made a commitment to improve his overall health and kick the habits that could eventually catch up to him.
“I just think it’s more important because the body is aging, it’s getting older,” he said. “You’re not as quick as you used to be and your body has to adjust with the times. I mean, what I used to do when I was younger are some of the things I can’t do now. I’m stressing more rest, I didn’t sleep as much when I was younger, so a lot of things change. It’s easier to gain weight the older you get so that’s why I decided to change a lot of my habits.”
The change in his physique has more to do with the changes he endorses through his healthy living initiatives rather than a regimented weight loss program.
“I think it has more to do with my eating habits,” he said. “Ever since I changed everything I’m doing as far as my foundation with The Truth on Health and FitClub34, I’ve got to practice what I preach. I’ve pretty much benefited from the things I’m doing of that nature.”
He added: “I’ve just changed up my eating habits as far as eating a lot of fish, chicken, vegetables, not as much red meat — almost no red meat — no sodas, not a lot of juice. I drink a lot of water and Gatorade and Powerade.”
Ray Allen, a stickler for healthy living, already has noticed the changes in Pierce. Allen was 32 when he was traded to the Celtics in 2008, a time when he says he began to get in his best shape by eating better and getting more sleep. He understands firsthand the importance of Pierce taking care of his body at this pivotal stage in his career.
“Just yesterday in the weight room I told him he was starting to look skinny,” Allen said. “You know, Paul has always had like a heavy look, a heavy body. Now you see in his legs he’s slimming down, his upper body is slimming down. I think it’s the natural evolution when you get into your 30s and your metabolism starts to slow down and you start thinking about eating better, getting more sleep, and then your body starts to show it. And then as for us, this schedule is so demanding you really have no choice, your body will tell you you need more rest.”
Pierce has learned to listen to his body, and because of this he can celebrate his 32nd birthday feeling like he’s in his 20s.
|Football a Touchdown for Celtics Chemistry||at 12:26 am ET|
With seconds left in regulation between Wallace’s favorite team, the Kansas City Chiefs, and Perkins’ hometown club, the Chiefs scored a touchdown to force overtime. It was enough to send Perkins back into the trainer’s room while Wallace gloated in the last-second comeback.
On Sunday afternoon the Celtics locker room became an NFL fan zone following their game against the Nets (recap).
“Everybody has their own teams and they’re rooting for their hometown,” said Michael Sweetney while he watched the game from his locker. “Especially with ‘Sheed with Kansas City, Perk with Dallas, Paul [Pierce] likes the Patriots, and I’m from D.C. so I’ve got the [Washington] Redskins, we all just get around and talk trash. It brings us together. We have a good time.”
For the Celtics, following football is another experience to strengthen their team chemistry. Many of the players, including Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels, played in high school. Their passion for the sport now brings them together in the pros.
“We’re all football fans,” said Davis, a New Orleans Saints follower. “Football’s an American sport. Every guy likes football, we like to talk about football, and everybody talks about athletes.”
According to Daniels, this game is a common thread among many NBA players. The Orlando native, who is a fan of any Florida football team, recalls friendly rivalries among teammates when he played for the Mavericks and Pacers. In many cases a lost prediction would result in having to wear the opposition’s jersey.
Sweetney, however, has never played for a team where Sundays are so significant.
“This is my first team being around something like this, just the camaraderie, everything,” he said. “It’s just something special right now. Like I told you before — and I’m not bad mouthing other teams – the two teams I’ve been on [Bulls and Knicks], we’ve never done this. Guys enjoy each other, not just on the floor.”
In that moment, Wallace enjoyed himself as he continued his celebration. Even though his initial outburst was directed at Perkins, Sweetney was not exempt from the cheers. As Sweetney explained, Wallace is a “true diehard fan” who would stick by the Chiefs even if they only won one game this season.
“Yeah, Sweet, say something now, Sweet!” Wallace jokingly yelled out.
“I was talking trash to him all week,” Sweetney admitted, “and we lost today.”
|Former Magic Notice Changes in Celtics||10.11.09 at 5:01 pm ET|
The last time Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, and Courtney Lee played against the Celtics, they sent the C’s packing for the summer. The trio were members of the Magic team that eliminated the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. This year they are in a different uniform and noticed the Cs have a different look as well.
Alston, Battie and Lee were traded from the Magic to the Nets over the summer as part of the Vince Carter deal. On Sunday they got their first take at the Celtics with their new team during preseason action at the TD Garden (recap here).
“They got a brand new season,” Battie said. “I mean, you look and [Kevin Garnett] is back and Rasheed [Wallace] is part of it. They got a great steal in getting Marquis Daniels, and you have those three additions coming back in the team. So, I think they’re the team to beat, definitely.”
Last season a hobbled Celtics squad was outscored, outrebounded and burned from the 3-point line by the Magic. Without Garnett on the court and veterans Ray Allen and Paul Pierce overworked, the Celtics bench could not save the season. Now the additions of Wallace and Daniels give the team much-needed depth.
“They get their big guy back and then they add Rasheed Wallace in there now,” Alston said. “I think when you’re trying to take away a lot of their main guys, they have a lot of guys that can step up and stretch the defense or post up on the low block. They have a different dynamic to their team, especially from a defensive aspect for other teams.”
Both Alston and Lee agree the series would have been completely different if the Celtics had so many weapons last season.
“They would’ve been a better team,” Lee said. “They definitely would’ve been harder for a matchup because you can play Marquis at the 1 and you sub in Rasheed, so they keep a shooting big in at all times, so they definitely would have been better.”
Said Alston: “I don’t think we would have been able to roam a lot off of a lot of their guys — [Rajon] Rondo, [Kendrick] Perkins, Big Baby [Glen Davis]. Those guys who really bring more scoring to the offense, especially from the bench standpoint.”
The combination of a healthy Garnett and a revamped second unit has Alston noticing a difference in the 2009-10 Celtics. Although he isn’t as willing as Battie to name them the best in the Eastern Conference, he can’t deny the changes on the court.
“Whenever they have all their guys, they have a swagger,” he said. “When someone goes down they don’t have swagger no more. That’s just how they are.”