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Are the Celtics in trouble? 01.06.09 at 9:45 pm ET
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The Boston Celtics knew there would be a target on their backs this season. But the threats sounded empty after winning 19 straight and blowing out their opponents in embarrassing fashion. Eventually, though, the rest of the league began to fight back. The Los Angeles Lakers were the first to take a stand. The Golden State Warriors followed suit and soon the Portland Trail Blazers, New York Knicks and Charlotte Bobcats wanted in. (CLICK HERE for a recap of Tuesday’s loss to the Bobcats.)

For every game the Celtics win, there is an opponent circling their next meeting. The problem is, the Celtics can’t mark every game as their biggest and defending their title is taking a toll on them. They are 2-5 since losing to the Lakers on Christmas Day and holes in the roster are being exposed. The once unstoppable Rajon Rondo has been contained by big men. The bench that was supposed to compensate for the loss of James Posey has blown numerous leads. Final minutes that used to be garbage time are now seconds of desperation.

December 25, 2008: Lakers 92, Celtics 83

The Celtics made the Lakers look soft last season during the NBA Finals. The Lakers got payback by snapping the Celtics’ 19-game winning streak on Christmas Day, challenging the Celtics to test them again for the title. Phil Jackson inspired other coaches to put their bigs on Rondo, which stifled the Cs soaring offense.

December 26, 2008: Warriors 99, Celtics 89

The Warriors kicked the Celtics while they were down and handed them their second consecutive loss of the season in Oakland. It was a rude awakening that offered a reminder that, no matter what kind of advantage the Celtics have on paper, stats can’t compensate for the motivation of their opponents.

December 30, 2008: Trail Blazers 91, Celtics 86

The Brandon Roy-less Trail Blazers forced the Celtics to make bad plays and dealt Boston its first loss in Portland in four years. The Celtics were outrebounded by 15 in a sloppy defensive effort.

January 4, 2009: Knicks 100, Celtics 88

Thirty points from Al Harrington served as a reminder to the Cs of what a deep bench can do for you. The Celtics were simply outhustled and there was no secret who wanted this win more.

January 6, 2009: Bobcats 114, Celtics 106 (OT)

The Celtics practically welcomed the Bobcats into the paint with open arms early on to jumpstart this loss. They forced far too many shots from long range (6-23 3PG) and did not hit enough from the line (22-30 FT). This game affirmed the concern that the Celtics have work to do.

As long as the Celtics wear the rings, they will also wear a target. It is an inevitable struggle they will have to overcome if they want to face the same curse next season.

Read More: Al Harrington, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Kevin Garnett
Sounds of the game… Celtics 110, 76ers 91 12.24.08 at 6:52 am ET
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The Celtics threw a Christmas party for family and friends in their locker room following their 110-91 win over the 76ers Tuesday night at TD Banknorth Garden. They certainly had plenty to celebrate. In addition to the festive time of season, the Celtics family and friends cheered the fact that they are now owners of the longest winning streak in team history at 19 games. They also raised a toast to the team’s 27-2 start, the best 29-game opening to a season in NBA history. Up next, an NBA Finals rematch with the Lakers in Los Angeles on Christmas Day. To get there, they took a red-eye cross-country flight but before that, they took time to reflct on the record and look ahead to what should be a classic game on Christmas at Staples Center.

Doc Rivers said he is not downplaying the sigificance of the 19-game streak.

Rivers heard the ‘Beat L-A’ chants and thought it was a great moment for the fans.

Paul Pierce on playing the Lakers in a rematch.

Kevin Garnett said winning 19 straight doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win a championship.

Ray Allen said the C’s are doing a great job of not looking too far ahead.

And be sure to read and hear what Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala said about the Celtics, their streak, trash-talking and a certain reference to a perfect regular season in the NFL that didn’t end in a title.

Read More: 19-game win streak, 27-2, Andre Iguodala, Boston Celtics
Sounds of the Game… Celtics 126, Bulls 108 12.20.08 at 10:32 am ET
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What makes a great team is when it can constantly find way to get better even when things are already going so well. Doc Rivers and staff worked with center Kendrick Perkins to work on setting better screens and picks, convincing him that this would lead to better seals under the basket and eventually more scoring opportunities for him. The result? Perk scored a career high 25 points on Friday night, second only to Ray Allen’s 27 as the C’s (yawn-yawn) dispatched of the Chicago Bulls 126-108 at TD Banknorth Garden. Now, the Celtics can match the team’s all-time winning streak mark of 18 on Sunday night against Quentin Richardson and the Knicks at home. If victorious against New York, the chance to break it comes on Tuesday against another arch-rival, the Philadelphia 76ers.

Doc Rivers on the good first and third quarters.

Rivers said Ray Allen is hitting his stride this year with the team.

Rivers jokes about Ray Allen’s 27 points.

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were not surprised at the great crowd that showed up.

Garnett said the Celtics were locked in at the beginning of the game.

Rajon Rondo said the winning streak isn’t changing the Celtics.

Kendrick Perkins on the coaching staff working hard to keep team sharp.

Perkins looks forward to Knicks and Sixers.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett
Sounds of the Game… Celtics 100, Jazz 91 12.16.08 at 8:39 am ET
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The Green Machine rolled to their 15th straight win thanks to another All-Star-worthy performance from point guard Rajon Rondo. He poured in a career-high 25 points and was just a rebound and two assists shy of another triple-double. He also had the move of the night late in the fourth quarter when he drove to the basket, got turned around and threw threw the ball over his head. The ball banked off the glass and came down, sending the sellout crowd into a frenzy and sealing Boston’s 23rd win in 25 tries. The Celtics matched the NBA’s all-time best 25-game start. All three previous teams to start 23-2 have won the NBA championship. The last time the Celtics won 15 straight was during their franchise-record 18-game run in the 1981-82 season. Next up, the Atlanta Hawks on the road Wednesday night at Philips Arena.

Doc Rivers on the amazing Rajon Rondo and how ‘English’ on the ball helps his shot – sometimes.

Rivers said Rondo’s speed was the difference Monday because the Jazz didn’t guard him aggressively.

Rondo said he just tried to stay aggressive.

Rondo expects a battle from Atlanta Wednesday night.

Paul Pierce said Rondo is All-Star worthy.

Pierce expects playoff atmosphere Wednesday in the ATL.

Kevin Garnett gave it up for Rondo’s driving layup.

Utah coach Jerry Sloan said the Celtics let his team back in the game but his players were scared.

Read More: Boston Celtics, jerry sloan, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce
Phelps Makes a Splash with Celtics 12.15.08 at 9:42 pm ET
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There was a ruckus coming from the trainers room following the Boston Celtics 100-91 win over the Utah Jazz. They weren’t celebrating their win but rather their special guest, U.S. Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps.

“B-More!” Kevin Garnett screamed out of the trainers room.

Sam Cassell rushed in to see the fellow Baltimore native Phelps, who grew up north of Cassell in the suburb of Rodgers Forge. Cassell had met Phelps after his first Olympic run in 2000.

“It’s good, a guy from the suburbs accomplished so much,” Cassell said. “He’s cool, he’s cool. He’s from the suburbs but he does everything a city guy does.”

So who has to fend off more fans in Baltimore? The swimmer or the point guard?

“It depends on which neighborhood we’re in. In my neighborhood they’d attack me because they know who I am. They might not know who he is,” Cassell replied with a laugh.

The prolific swimmer was ushered into the Celtics locker room by an entourage of security and Jared Fogle, with whom he is promoting Subway.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Michael Phelps, Sam Cassell
Sounds of the game… Celtics 93, Trail Blazers 78 12.06.08 at 11:44 am ET
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Last season, in their run to their 17th NBA title, the Celtics went from potential to prolific, winning 66 games in the regular season. This season, they are going from hype to historic, as in no team in NBA history has ever followed up an 18-2 start one season with a 19-2 opening the next… until now. What’s scary about the Green Machine’s is they honestly believe they have yet to play a complete game. Friday night, the best offensive rebounding team in the NBA came to town with a 16-4 mark and a six-game winning streak. They hadn’t lost to an Eastern Conference team. They had lost just twice in 16 games when holding their opponent under 100 points. Still not enough to overcome the Celtics, who overwhelmed them with a 21-0 run. The Celtics are all on the same page, preaching the same message, we’re playing well but there’s a lot of season remaining and a lot to play for. Just take a listen.

Doc Rivers loved the energy and effort against Portland.

Rivers said his team took the offensive rebounding challenge against Portland to heart.

Paul Pierce said the Celtics are just looking to get better.

Kevin Garnett on the flow of the team during the 21-0 run.

Garnett said the team is all business right now.

Kendrick Perkins said the team is ready for a battle in Indiana on Sunday.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett
Sounds of the game… Celtics 114, Pacers 86 12.04.08 at 12:30 am ET
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So, only 55 more wins until the Celtics set the all-time NBA record for wins in a season. That means the Celtics need to go 55-7 the rest of the way. Based on what we’ve seen so far this season, there’s no reason to think they can’t do it. The latest example came on Wednesday. As the Indiana Pacers showed of making a courageous run to stay in the game in the third quarter, Rajon Rondo reminded everyone that he just might be the MVP of the team, lighting it up for 16 points while handing out a career-best 17 assists. Just think, that’s MVP Rondo on the same team with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and vintage Ray Allen, who is tearing it up for the Green so far this season. Now you see why there are those who feel this team may be on the verge of something historic.

Rajon Rondo said driving the basketball has been the key to the offense.

Rondo said he was anxious to return from bloody lip after collision with Indiana’s T.J. Ford.

Rondo said Sam Cassell told him how close he was to triple-double in first half.

Ray Allen said Rondo is the catalyst of the team right now.

Allen said Rondo and he go hand-in-hand right now.

Kevin Garnett said it was like there were three Rondos on the court.

Indiana head coach Jim O’Brien’s team played the Lakers and Celtics on back-to-back nights. He can see a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals.

O’Brien said it was just a case of too much Rondo and no answers.

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo,
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