|Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett from enemy’s perspective||01.25.14 at 1:53 am ET|
As the Celtics prepare to welcome Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett back to Boston on Sunday, one member of the new-look franchise knows the two legends of the game all too well from the opposite side of the ball. Joel Anthony endured three straight playoff meetings against the Celtics from 2010-12 as a member of the Heat.
“More than anything, you just wanted to beat them,” said Anthony, who entered the league the same year Garnett came to Boston. “You really, really wanted to beat them. They made you want to be like that because of how they played and how they competed. It’s really the beauty of the game, the beauty of basketball — the whole competition aspect and what you love about the game – to be able to have those type of moments, those battles, those types of feelings and emotions. That’s what it’s all about — to be able to have those battles with that team was special.”
Particularly after a brutal loss to an undermanned Thunder team, Anthony’s reminiscence of those series — a five-game Celtics win before LeBron James‘ arrival during the magical 2010 run, the five-game Heat victory when Rondo dislocated his elbow in 2011 and the epic seven-game Eastern Conference finals in 2012 — will make any basketball fan long for one more matchup between those grit and balls C’s and King James ascending to his throne.
“You respected who they were, what type of team they were and how good of a team that they were,” Anthony said. “Those were the games that guys really got up for, because we knew we were going to be in a battle with those guys every single night and every single minute on the floor. That was just the biggest thing, knowing that they were such competitors — that team was such a tough team to play against every single night.”
As Pierce and Garnett’s arrival in Nets uniforms will attest on Sunday, those days of meaningful Celtics-Lakers and Celtics-Heat playoff meetings are long gone — a chapter in NBA history that will be remembered the same way Larry Bird‘s Celtics and Magic Johnson‘s Lakers ultimately made way for Michael Jordan‘s Bulls.
There were a lot of tough battles for LeBron when he was in Cleveland and with us in Miami, a lot of pain from losing to that team,” added Anthony. “They were an extremely good basketball team, and so to be able to win those games was big, because it was really a huge step for us to be able to get that monkey off our back in terms of surpassing a team that you struggled against and that you respected, but that you wanted to beat more than anything.”
Was it really mutual respect, or was there more to it than that? Because it sure seemed like there was more to it than that. “I think there was some dislike in there,” said Anthony. “Yeah, there was some dislike in there.”
Regardless, Anthony remembers Pierce and Garnett the way most everyone does.
“KG’s intensity and demeanor,” he said. “Defensively, especially, he changed how that team was. They kind of took on his identity. And, in terms of Paul, his ability to hit those big shots. They’d find a way to keep it close, and Paul would end up getting the ball in some kind of iso and find a way to always make big shots.”
Yup, that’s Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in a nutshell. Even Rajon Rondo, who called their homecoming “just another game,” knows deep down Sunday will be special. There are too many memories for it not to be.
|Bounceback: Kelly Olynyk enjoys breakthrough game||01.18.14 at 1:15 am ET|
After the Celtics win against the Raptors on Wednesday night that featured a zero-point output from Kelly Olynyk, Boston owner Stephen Pagliuca approached the 7-footer at his locker.
Pagliuca wanted to instill confidence in the Gonzaga product whom the Celtics took in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft to offset the loss of Kevin Garnett. Olynyk’s lack of aggression was not limited to the Toronto game. His zero-point effort just capped off a rough stretch of play. From Jan. 2 to Jan. 15 (nine games), Olynyk averaged 14.5 minutes per game and 4.3 points per game on 39 percent shooting. His boss encouraged him to abandon his on-court reticence.
“[He said] be confident, be aggressive, take shots when they’re there,” Olynyk said after Boston’s 107-104 loss to the Lakers on Friday.
Olynyk received that message and translated it to the court in a big way against the Lakers. He totaled a game-high and career-high 25 points, and tacked on seven assists and five rebounds.
The timid, unaggressive Olynyk who has been prominent at times this year vanished against Los Angeles. He was efficient around the rim and creative with his passing from the top of the key. Olynyk made his only 3-pointer in the first half, but played more of a facilitating role, tallying five assists in the first 24 minutes of the game. But in the second half, the Lakers had no answer for the center, as he scorched their frontline for 16 points. Read the rest of this entry »
Through 47 minutes and 59 seconds there was nothing to complain about regarding the debut of Rajon Rondo.
But it took just a second for that outlook to change.
With Boston trailing by three points in the waning moments, Rondo hoisted a 3-pointer that would have sent the game into overtime at the buzzer. But his shot clanked off the rim, and Boston fell 107-104 at the Garden.
Still, there were plenty of positive takeaways from Rondo’s first game since last January — starting with the fact that he changed the dynamic of the team before the opening tip. Stevens, unbeknownst to Rondo, bestowed captainship upon Rondo before the start of the game. Rondo is the 15th Celtic captain, following Pierce, who reigned from 2003-2013.
“I never told him — I mean, maybe it’s something I should have done,” Stevens said. ‘”But I think it’s something you earn through your effort, through your leadership, through your involvement in the community.” Read the rest of this entry »
|3-day former Celtics reunion tour ends in Brooklyn||12.13.13 at 8:40 am ET|
The three-day former Celtics reunion tour ended Thursday night in Brooklyn, where Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett led their Nets to a 102-93 victory against Doc Rivers‘ Clippers, and naturally it was a mutual love-fest.
Quotes courtesy of the New York Post.
Pierce: “I grew under him. I was a young player, played nine years with him, just continued to mature and become a better all-around player under him. Before I was really known as a scorer; now when he took over he taught me the other parts of the game, the defense, the rebounding, the passing, just helped my game grow and mature.”
Garnett: “He taught us a lot about not just basketball and the philosophies of it, but about being a young man, a young black man, understanding your responsibilities, because we were starting our families. [He's] just overall a great model. No one’s perfect, all humans have their flaws or whatever; but shoot, he’s damn near close to it. I’m just grateful he came into my life and that I had that experience to him.”
Those two remarks offer a reminder of the one significant difference between Rivers and new Celtics coach Brad Stevens. Doc is revered by veterans. Those who know Rivers love and respect him, and those who don’t hear stories from the ones who do. That helps when a team is trying to lure high-profile players. Stevens may get there one day, but it takes years to develop that type of cache, and that’s what the C’s will miss most in Rivers’ absence.
|Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett show Celtics love||12.10.13 at 10:38 pm ET|
Paul Pierce: “I love those guys. They’re going to fight. That’s that Celtics pride. They all wear it with pride. You see it in the way they play, the way they’re coached. You hear [Rajon] Rondo on the sidelines coaching. They’re going to continue to be the Celtics, and they’re going to always play with pride.”
Kevin Garnett: “Because Doc [Rivers] isn’t there, it’s a little less emotional. You don’t see Danny [Ainge] sitting on the sidelines. You don’t see Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Eddie House, Baby [Glen Davis]. I see Rajon over there, which makes it a little more emotional at times. Obviously, I went to battle with BB [Brandon Bass], Jeff Green, Courtney Lee and a lot of those guys. Those are real solid guys that I know on that team. Other than that, it was another night in the office. They’ve been playing well. They beat the crap out of the Knicks. Obviously, we haven’t been playing well at home, so we wanted to come in and play well, but there will always be a special place in my heart when I face the green.”
One reunion down, one to go, as the Celtics host Rivers’ Clippers on Wednesday night.
|Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett win Celtics reunion||at 10:01 pm ET|
The pregame hoopla may have focused on Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce‘s first game against their former team, but Brook Lopez and Deron Williams stole the show on the court in Brooklyn’s 104-96 victory against the Celtics.
Williams (25 points) and Lopez (24 points) helped the Nets end the C’s three-game win streak and crawl within two games of Boston’s Atlantic Division lead. Garnett and Pierce combined for 15 points, 16 rebounds and six assists.
All five Celtics starters scored in double figures, led by Bradley’s 22 points. Brandon Bass (13 points, 11 rebounds) notched his first double-double of the season. Jeff Green added 19 points and six boards while Jared Sullinger and Jordan Crawford added 15 apiece. The Celtics fell to 10-13.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Babbling Brook: The Celtics had no answer for Lopez. The undersized frontcourt of Sullinger and Bass was no match for the 7-foot, 275-pound Lopez, who scored 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting through the first three quarters, when the Nets owned a 46-24 advantage in the paint and an 85-72 edge on the scoreboard. The Celtics made it a game in the final minutes, but couldn’t overcome a Nets lead as large as 17.
El Hombre Destructible: Celtics coach Brad Stevens attempted to counter Lopez with Vitor Faverani, but the Brazilian 7-footer finished minus-12 in four minutes with two personal fouls and zeroes across the stat sheet. In his last five games, Faverani is averaging 2.8 points and 1.5 rebounds. While Kelly Olynyk‘s return may help the front line, the C’s still won’t have a defender capable of matching up with a true center.
Bench press: Pierce came off the bench for just the fourth time in his career, anchoring a Brooklyn second unit that dominated their Celtics counterparts. While Pierce scored in the single digits, he added seven rebounds and three assists to give the Nets reserves a total of 22 points, 20 rebounds and six assists. Faverani, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries all struggled, as the Celtics bench totaled just 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Second helping: Often matched up with Williams, who missed the previous nine games with an ankle injury, Bradley torched the Nets point guard in the second quarter, scoring 12 of his 15 first-half points to help the Celtics remain within nine, 56-47, at halftime. Bradley has now reached double-digit scoring in 15 games, a number he didn’t reach until mid-March last season.
Triple threat: The Celtics made eight of their first 14 3-point attempts, including their first three tries of the third quarter to tie the game at 60-60. Bradley started 3-of-5, Green made his first two and Sullinger connected on his first two tries after halftime, as the C’s erased a 13-point first-half deficit 2:22 into the third quarter.
KG greets his buddy Rondo during a timeout: pic.twitter.com/ZNi3GE4yRH
— Jay O (@MrTrpleDouble10) December 11, 2013
|Avery Johnson: ‘Rebuilding was the right move’ for Celtics||10.23.13 at 4:10 pm ET|
Johnson, who coached the Nets for 2½ seasons and was dismissed shortly after the Celtics trounced Brooklyn last Christmas, will be adding a very distinct voice to the ESPN airwaves this season, sharing his insight every Wednesday on “NBA Countdown.”
In a one-on-one interview with WEEI.com, Johnson shared his thoughts on the state of the Celtics, as well as the Nets’ decision to go all-in.
‘This is a totally different year for the Celtics,’ Johnson said. ‘A lot of the pieces that were there last year, those guys are pretty much in the twilight and near the end of their careers. They still had a lot of great basketball in them and can carry a team during the regular season, but that was an aging team.’
Johnson, known as the ‘Little General’ during his playing career, believes the Celtics were never the same after Ray Allen‘s departure to Miami as a free agent last offseason.
‘The loss of Ray Allen was too much,’ Johnson said. ‘They never really were able to fill his shoes in terms of the great work he did on the court for the Celtics over the years during their championship runs.’
Similar to the beginning of his run with the Nets, a team that only won 24 games in 2011, Johnson sees a team in Boston with an uncertain future.
‘This was a team that needed to change,’ Johnson said. ‘Obviously we didn’t know the change would occur with Doc Rivers not being a part of it, but everything’s changed. Now the Celtics have a lot of pieces they’re still trying to figure out. They’re still working on how they’re going to play defensively and offensively, and where they’re going, not only now, but in the future.’