|Notes and numbers: First quarter||03.23.09 at 8:11 pm ET|
At the end of the first quarter … Celtics 31, Clippers 18
- KG watch: 9 minutes, 8 points, 1 rebound, 1 foul
- Leading scorer: Rajon Rondo (10 points)
- Leading rebounder: Zach Randolph (5 boards)
- Leading ball handler: Rondo and Baron Davis (3 assists)
- Hot shot: Celtics 68.4% FG, Clippers 45.0% FG
|The boys are back in town||at 7:46 pm ET|
It’s been 30 days … But tonight the Big Ticket returns to the Garden … Are you ready?
For the first time in over a month the true Boston Celtics starting five is taking the court. After a dramatic introduction on the Jumbotron, Kevin Garnett looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. After the lineups were announced he got in Kendrick Perkins face and shouted who-knows-what. He acknowledged each of the Clippers and then ran to the corner of the court to address the crowd, lifting fans to their feet with every point of his finger. There is something different tonight — maybe the Garden is trying new lighting — but the energy in the air is undeniable.
|NBA already thinking playoffs||03.22.09 at 7:02 pm ET|
|Garnett makes most of minutes||03.20.09 at 11:43 pm ET|
Perhaps more frustrating than an injured Kevin Garnett in street clothes is a restricted Garnett in uniform.
After missing the last 13 games with a strained knee, Garnett returned to the Boston Celtics starting lineup in Friday night’s win against the San Antonio Spurs. (RECAP HERE) As a precautionary measure, head coach Doc Rivers capped his minutes at just 15, leaving the Celtics without their big man down the stretch.
However this game had a different result than the last time Garnett returned from a lengthy absence:
February 19, 2008 vs. Denver Nuggets
Last season Garnett was sidelined for nine games in January/February with an abdominal strain . After going 7-2 without Garnett, the Celtics dropped the first three games with KG back in the lineup. His return was spoiled by a 124-118 loss to the Denver Nuggets following the All-Star break. Garnett scored just 4 points (2-7 FG) in 27 minutes and committed four turnovers. After the game Rivers deemed Garnett’s performance ‘not very good’ and thought he looked ‘rusty.’ Garnett bounced back the following night, posting 17 points and 15 rebounds in the Celtics two-point loss to the Golden State Warriors.
March 20, 2009 vs. San Antonio Spurs
Garnett had been averaging more than 32 minutes per game before suffering his knee injury in February. Knowing his playing time would be limited, Garnett came out aggressive in his return. He attempted his first shot 15 seconds into the game and finished the night with 10 points (5-9 FG) in just 15 minutes. He also grabbed four rebounds. Unlike his return last season, Rivers was full of compliments for Garnett this time around. ‘He was playing terrific right before we took him out,’ he said after the game.
The Celtics intend to limit Garnett’s minutes on Saturday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.
|KG and Allen off to San Antonio||03.19.09 at 11:44 am ET|
Ray Allen (elbow) and Kevin Garnett (knee) are traveling to San Antonio with the Boston Celtics on their team charter, according to multiple reports. Garnett has not played since February 19 against the Utah Jazz. Allen sat out of Wednesday’s game against the Miami Heat. The Celtics will play the Spurs on Friday night.
|Too many whistles while he works||03.18.09 at 11:21 pm ET|
‘Foul on number seven, Mikki Moore.’
Those words have become all too familiar since Moore joined the Boston Celtics in February.
Moore has fouled out of the last two games, including Wednesday night’s overtime win against the Miami Heat. (He was gone after playing less than 17 minutes.) Over the last five games, he has been whistled for a league-leading total of 26 personal fouls. (Recap here)
‘I’m playing aggressive, trying to do the right thing, and most of my calls are just touch fouls,’ Moore said after the game. ‘That’s why I’m frustrated. But a foul is a foul. I have to make my fouls count.’
Moore explains there is a difference between a good foul and a bad foul. He should know. He led the NBA with 310 personal fouls during the 2008 season.
‘A bad foul is when it goes negative to the team, when it’s a turnover,’ he said. ‘Like if it’s an offensive foul or if I try to come off somebody’s back and get an offensive rebound. That’s a real bad foul. And if it’s low on the shot clock and I foul a jumpshooter, that’s a bad foul. But if it’s just a hustling foul or I’m going for a loose ball, I don’t think that’s a bad foul.’
Moore admits that part of his foul trouble has come with learning a new system. He is anxious to get adjusted, but knows he has to be patient.
‘I’ve got to stop trying so hard,’ he said. ‘KG told me tonight, ‘Just relax and play, man. Stop trying to do everything.’ That’s what I’ve got to start doing.’
Garnett’s advice was echoed by head coach Doc Rivers.
Said Moore, ‘He said, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day so you’ve got to keep working hard.”
|‘We see them as a real threat’…||03.06.09 at 1:22 pm ET|
As the Celtics shot around at their training facility in Waltham, everyone wanted to know what the Celtics needed to do to beat King James and the Cavaliers without last season’s defensive player of the year and the team’s heart and emotional soul in a suit for at least another week.
“He ran yesterday, he told me, on the treadmill, which I’m sure was supervised,” Rivers said. “And he said he felt great so he’s feeling a lot better. That’s the first day he’s been able to run so we’ll take it day-to-day from that point on.”
“It’s the whole knee thing. We’re just going to take our time. I would say at least a week out and most likely, longer.”
As for tonight’s battle to end all battles, at least for the next 24 hours, Rivers, possibly looking back on last year’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semis, pointed out what it really means, especially if they could pull it off without Garnett, Brian Scalabrine and Tony Allen.
“It’s a big game,” Rivers said. “Obviously, home court is at stake here. And it would be a great win for us, to beat them at their full strength and us not having Kevin, Scal and Tony, I think it would be a phenomenal win for us. We’ll be ready.”
The Celtics have allowed their last two opponents to score over 100 points while a third, Indiana scored 99 last Friday.
“We want to win, really, and we have to find a way to do that,” Rivers said. “We’ve got to improve defensively. Over the last couple of games, we have not played our defense, especially transition-wise. And if we don’t get back tonight, it’s going to be a long night. That’s what we have to improve.
“We’ve won games and we’ve lost to a couple of good teams, which I can always live with even though you never want to lose, but our defense hasn’t been consistent and for us to be a good offensive team, we have to have multiple stops and we have to get back to that.”
But maybe it was Leon Powe who provided the best perspective of all on Friday morning, a mere nine hours before tip.
“It’s real good for us because we’ve been looking forward to this game,” Powe said of the test. “If you want to be the best you’ve got to beat the best. I know the road to the championship means you’ve got to knock us off. We see them as a real threat. We’ve got to go out there and play our best and hopefully both teams put on a good show and hopefully we come out on top.”