|What to watch for on the Celtics homestand||01.09.11 at 12:19 am ET|
Last season, while in the midst of a depressing spring swoon, the schedule gods handed the Celtics a gift: six straight games at TD Garden to help them right their sinking ship. There were two problems. First, the Celtics simply weren’t very good at the Garden last season (for whatever reason) and second, they played five playoff teams including the Thunder, Spurs and Cavaliers.
The Celtics actually did all right for themselves, splitting those six games and winning an emotional game over the Cavs on Easter Sunday that served as a rallying point when they ultimately faced them in the playoffs. But there were also some ugly setbacks, such as a 21-point loss to San Antonio and the memorable Kevin Durant gets calls like Michael Bleeping Jordan game (in the words of Kevin Garnett).
Ultimately their six-game homestand was neither defining nor damning. It simply was another signpost in the Celtics up and down 2010.
This season, however, the expectations are much different. The Celtics are rolling (or were rolling until the Bulls wiped them out Saturday night in an ugly, defensive game) and they are playing much better at the Garden where their 16-2 record is tops in the Eastern Conference and tied for first in the loss column with the Spurs, who are 19-2 at home.
The Celtics will also get the benefit of playing four teams who are under .500. They get the Rockets, Kings and Bobcats this week and the Pistons in between visits from Orlando and Utah next week and it’s a golden opportunity for the Celtics to continue to pad their record. Even with Saturday night’s loss to the Bulls, at 28-8 the Celtics still hold a one-game lead on Miami for the best conference record and are four games ahead of Chicago and Orlando in the loss column for second.
Here are five things to look for on this homestand: Read the rest of this entry »
|Injury updates on Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West||01.07.11 at 7:27 pm ET|
The Celtics received some good news on the injury front Friday. Doc Rivers said Kevin Garnett would be back next week, possibly as early as Monday when they play the Rockets.
Kendrick Perkins announced that he was ready to return to practice next week, and said he was three weeks away from returning to game action. That could put him in line to play against the Lakers in late January. “It feels good,” Perkins said of his surgically-repaired knee. “I haven’t had any setbacks or swelling, which is weird.”
Perkins’ timetable was news to Rivers, but the coach has been been encouraged by reports of Perkins’ play in 3-on-3 games.
Then there is Delonte West who had his cast off earlier this week. He is still facing two weeks of rehabilitation on his wrist before he can return to the court. He is still looking at a February return. In the grand scheme of things West’s return may be even more important than Perkins because the Celtics are worried about the depth at point guard behind Rajon Rondo.
“The one thing we know that doesn’t work, it did record-wise, but it didn’t work I can guarantee you that, was the combination of [West] and Rondo out at the same time,” Rivers said. “It was not a good recipe for us, even though we won games, we can’t live that way long.”
|Danny Ainge on The Big Show: ‘One of best games Rondo’s ever played’||01.06.11 at 5:06 pm ET|
Celtics president Danny Ainge joined The Big Show to talk about Wednesday’s night victory over the Spurs, the importance of Jermaine O’Neal and who among the big four is the most irreplaceable. Ainge called Rajon Rondo’s performance, “one of the best games Rondo’s ever played,” but Ainge was more impressed by his defense against Tony Parker, than his triple-double stat line.
“Not only did he control the game offensively — he had a lot of assists last night because Ray [Allen] was shooting the ball so well. His numbers can be deceiving. His defense against Tony Parker, he was fighting through the screens. I think the two games he played prior to that he was just out there. I don’t think he was playing 100 percent. I don’t think he could. He was just out there just to get us in our offense. It was helpful but he wasn’t playing the defense like he did.”
Ainge also noted Allen’s night, in which the veteran sharpshooter made 13-of-16 shots with many coming off the same play. “I don’t know who else in the league can do what Ray did last night. Just catching and shooting going away from the basket off down screens, other than guys like Reggie Miller and Dale Ellis, there really aren’t that many guys that are proficient at it.”
Here are more highlights from the interview: Read the rest of this entry »
|Glen Davis: I love Doc Rivers but wish he would ‘pipe it down sometimes’||01.05.11 at 11:42 pm ET|
After the Celtics survived the NBA-best San Antonio Spurs by two points on Wednesday night, Glen Davis wanted to share a different kind of family story – the one involving his head coach.
Following his most productive night of the season in the scoring column, Davis said coach Doc Rivers continues to give him plenty of tough love this season. But Davis added that Rivers is working with him this season harder than ever to get the most out of him.
“He has, he has worked with me,” Davis said after scoring a season-best 23 on 10-of-18 shooting from the field. “He’s given me the opportunity to show what I got. He is still hard on me. He’s still hard. It’s like a love hate thing. It’s like you love it but pipe it down sometimes.”
Asked to describe their relationship, Davis – who detailed his new role as father in December -said it’s a very complicated, but effective one.
“For sure father son, like step-son,” Davis said of Rivers. “He loves me. But it’s like I still love you, but I’m hard on you. It is what it is.”
Davis and Rivers got into a heated argument on New Year’s Eve when the Celtics lost to the Hornets at the Garden, with Davis missing an ill-advised three-pointer to tie it late. Rivers afterward said Davis was guilty of playing too much “hero-ball.”
But then there was the loving part of their relationship, which Rivers clearly showed after Wednesday’s dramatic win, not possible, according to Rivers, without him.
“I’ve been saying it all year, he’s been terrific,” Rivers said. “Baby has his days but overall, he’s had very few of them. He’s been terrific all year. He’s had a tremendous team attitude in a contract year, which is very difficult. I don’t think he gets enough credit for that part of it. The only time he gets himself in trouble is when he forgets he’s Glen Davis, and I don’t know how you can forget something that big, personally.”
Rivers didn’t stop there, maintaining the team’s 27-7 mark wouldn’t be possible without Davis.
“He’s just been fantastic,” said the Celtics coach. “Our record is where it’s at because Glen Davis is on our basketball team. The minutes, playing him at four, playing him at five, he’s just turned into a terrific player for us.”
Speaking of contract, Davis is in the final year of a two-year, $6.3 million deal, a situation Davis said he’s not worried about – for now. When owner Wyc Grousbeck and GM Danny Ainge are ready, Davis will be ready to listen.
“Contract? You know what, I’m going to be honest with you,” Davis began. “Do you think about your job? You do, right. Man, I hope I get that next bonus or that next check. You have to think about it but you try to stay within yourself and the team and know that it’s going to happen. You have to control yourself. You can’t control what Danny or Wyc might put on the table. You just have to control yourself. That’s what I’ve come to realize. You have to keep wishing and don’t worry about that kind of stuff.”
Paul Pierce is no father figure to Davis. Instead, the big brother can appreciate what Davis has done in Kevin Garnett‘s absence.
“He’s given us a big spark for us playing for Kevin, the things he’s given us off the bench as a sixth man, probably the best sixth man in basketball right now if you ask me,” Pierce said. “He’s doing a lovely job at that, we’re asking him to do so many jobs, things that Kevin does, asking him to duplicate what Kevin does, but defensively he’s really given us a spark, offensively the way he spreads the floor. I just get on him a little bit, when it comes to rebounding but he’s playing great”
|Celtics vs. Spurs: Speaking with the enemy||at 2:09 pm ET|
The following is an e-mail exchange between myself and Spurs blog Pounding the Rock’s Dale Dye in anticipation of Wednesday’s game between the East-leading Celtics and West-leading Spurs …
Looks like it’s time for the beast in the East to host the best in the West, and I couldn’t be more excited. For some reason, this matchup makes me think about college football. I live in Austin, and like to follow the Longhorns. I didn’t graduate from UT, but I took some classes there after I graduated, so I feel like I’m a nearly legit fan. Anyway, a few years ago the season began with USC and UT ranked 1 and 2, and they stayed like that all the way through to the championship game.
Perhaps I remember that better because the Horns went on to win one of the most exciting BCS games ever, or maybe my memory is just that good. Either way, I feel much the same following the Spurs this year as I did enjoying the Longhorns success that year. SBNation keeps their Power Rankings split by conference, for good reason, and they’ve had our favorite teams on top of each side of the bracket for a while now.
I suppose this is the place where I would usually start in on the difference between the pace and approach of the teams, how the Spurs have been winning with offense and the Boston defense has been spectacular, while maybe throwing in a stat or two about point differential, etc. But with Kevin Garnett out (like the Spurs game last week against Dallas sans Dirk Nowitzki, and Tuesday’s against New York without Danilo Gallinari) it’s not quite the matchup I was anticipating. He’s just a huge part of what Boston does on both sides of the floor (whether he’s scoring a lot or no) that it’s not at all like playing the Celtics, if he’s not on the court.
So, since I don’t want to make this entire bit about the injury, I’m going to punt this to you at this point, to let you put his absence in context so we can set it aside and move on. Just what is Boston capable of with KG in plain clothes? I don’t mean for the rest of the season, but just for the purposes of this discussion.
Let’s take the official word from the Celts’ front office at face value and assume he’ll be back before the month is out. Which brings the focus onto the rest of the team, now that Rajon Rondo is back on the court. I know that since adding Ray Allen and Garnett, Boston hasn’t had a terrific record in games without Garnett — but what do you expect to see from this year’s bunch over the next few games, and Wednesday’s specifically?
Date: Tuesday, Jan. 4, 10:12 a.m.
Subject: Spurs/Celts Exchange
From: Ben Rohrbach
To: J.R. Wilco
|Paul Pierce pulls no punches: ‘I really didn’t come to play’||12.31.10 at 7:55 pm ET|
Paul Pierce did what a captain usually does after an emotional loss, one without two stars in the lineup.
After scoring just 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds in 36 minutes of an 83-81 loss to the Hornets Friday, Pierce was not about to make excuses for a team that was missing Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett. As a matter of fact, he put most of the blame squarely on his own shoulders.
“Maybe Paul Pierce has to do a better job in stepping up his game,” Pierce said in third person. “I really didn’t come to play to today, evident when you look up, six turnovers, but we only lose by two. The responsibility is on the guys out on the floor.
“Regardless of the injuries, I’ve [said before] injuries are going to happen. Regardless of the injuries, we’ve still got to show up to play. There’s no moral victories…and the guys that we put out there have got to be ready. We’re on the home court with guys who know how to play the game…a game that we feel like we should win.”
The Celtics used an 18-0 run in the fourth quarter to open an 73-66 lead with under seven minutes remaining, only to see the Hornets outscore them, 17-8, down the stretch.
|Doc Rivers: ‘There is no rotation right now’||at 2:54 pm ET|
The easy question for Doc Rivers and the Celtics is replacing Kevin Garnett in the starting lineup. That job will fall to Glen Davis, as expected. The harder part is figuring out what to do what to do when Rivers has to go to his bench. For the time being, that’s a game-by-game process.
Rivers can go big with Semih Erden and Jermaine O’Neal backing up Davis and Shaquille O’Neal. Or he can go small with Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels as forwards.
“We’re going to do both,” Rivers said before the Celtics took on the Hornets. “Again, for right now, there is no rotation. There’s the starters and then we’ll figure it out from there on. “The game will dictate that, foul trouble may dictate that. We just have to be ready as a staff.”
Rivers said he’s not a fan of going small, although circumstances and matchups may push him in that direction. Beyond the uncertainty, Rivers is also concerned that players may try to do too much without Garnett, and he’s not just talking about Davis. “That’s my biggest concern for everyone. Not just Glen, but everyone,” Rivers said. “That’s the human nature. We’re going to win games for this period of time with being a team. We’re not going to win any other way.”
Rivers also appealed for patience with Jermaine O’Neal, who is working his way back after missing 19 games with a knee injury. “It’s a tough time for Jermaine too,” the coach said. “Coming off the injury, he has to make sure he’s not trying to doo to much himself and we have to be careful with his minutes.”
But Rivers isn’t giving up on these games. The Celtics play 11 of their next 13 at home starting with this afternoon’s contest with the Hornets and he anticipated trying to make a big push during this stretch when the season started.
“Right now we are a game to game team, and that’s all we can be with all the injuries we have,” Rivers said. “But we have to be a game to game team that’s trying to win games.”