|Celtics vs. Spurs: Speaking with the enemy||01.05.11 at 2:09 pm ET|
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.
“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.”
|Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo among leaders in All-Star balloting||12.30.10 at 1:17 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo are among the starters for the Eastern Conference in the latest round of All-Star balloting, released Thursday by the NBA. Garnett and Rondo both ranked second at their positions (behind Miami’s LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, respectively).
Garnett leads Amar’e Stoudemire by about 75,000 votes for the second starting forward spot with Paul Pierce a distant fourth. Rondo’s lead over Derrick Rose is a little more than 50,000 votes. Fans can vote on NBA.com and the final results will be announced Jan. 27.
Here’s a breakdown of the latest results as supplied by the NBA:
Forwards: LeBron James (Mia) 969,459; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 712,555; Amar’e Stoudemire (NYK) 637,486; Paul Pierce (Bos) 381,348; Chris Bosh (Mia) 260,007; Josh Smith (Atl) 193,897; Carlos Boozer (Chi) 159,073; Danilo Gallinari (NYK) 127,726; Andre Iguodala (Phi) 115,660; Danny Granger (Ind) 107,145.
Guards: Dwyane Wade (Mia) 938,402; Rajon Rondo (Bos) 777,310; Derrick Rose (Chi) 721,122; Ray Allen (Bos) 392,441; John Wall (Was) 169,219; Gilbert Arenas (Orl) 144,889; Brandon Jennings (Mil) 128,556; Raymond Felton (NYK) 105,425; Joe Johnson (Atl) 99,598; Jamal Crawford (Atl) 97,809.
Centers: Dwight Howard (Orl) 988,572; Shaquille O’Neal (Bos) 410,663; Joakim Noah (Chi) 153,657; Al Horford (Atl) 120,404; Andrew Bogut (Mil) 110,153; Andrea Bargnani (Tor) 92,822; Brook Lopez (NJ) 77,048; Roy Hibbert (Ind) 70,698; JaVale McGee (Was) 59,508; Ben Wallace (Det) 44,375.
Forwards: Kevin Durant (Okc) 735,521; Carmelo Anthony (Den) 602,516; Pau Gasol (LAL) 597,201; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 447,737; Tim Duncan (SA) 436,651; Blake Griffin (LAC) 435,857; Lamar Odom (LAL) 232,299; Luis Scola (Hou) 197,728; Kevin Love (Min) 171,945; Caron Butler (Dal) 168,937.
Guards: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,153,694; Chris Paul (NOH) 585,690; Manu Ginobili (SA) 403,632; Steve Nash (Pho) 321,659; Deron Williams (Utah) 313,011; Jason Kidd (Dal) 234,779; Russell Westbrook (Okc) 233,593; Tony Parker (SA) 219,378; Vince Carter (Pho) 185,213; Eric Gordon (LAC) 179,917.
Centers: Yao Ming (Hou) 637,527; Andrew Bynum (LAL) 376,283; Brendan Haywood (Dal) 215,905; NenÃª (Den) 211,475; Marc Gasol (Mem) 205,227; Emeka Okafor (NOH) 172,012; Chris Kaman (LAC) 131,741; Marcus Camby (Por) 111,346; Andris Biedrins (GS) 65,908; Robin Lopez (Pho) 62,199.
On his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show, Celtics coach Doc Rivers expressed optimism about the health of Kevin Garnett, but added that he will know more later Thursday after Garnett has an MRI. Garnett suffered a leg injury Wednesday night in the first quarter against the Pistons. There was no contact on the play, which fueled fears that Garnett had possibly re-injured his surgically-repaired right knee. The team thinks that the injury was related to a muscle, and not his knee, however.
“I can’t tell you much more than what you know already,” Rivers said. “He’s going to do more tests today. We do think it’s muscle-related. We don’t think it has anything to do with the knee, but we don’t know. So we’re going to wait and see.”
Rivers added, “I think we’re in good shape here, but you just never know. I’m just going to wait for the MRI. I should know by mid-afternoon.”
He is also looking for more from Jermaine O’Neal who has played the last three games after missing time with a knee injury. “We need him,” Rivers said. “He struggled against obviously Orlando, first game back. I thought Indiana in the second half he was terrific. I thought [against Detroit] he was one of the few bright spots. He played with great energy and did his job defensively.”
Rivers also said that Rajon Rondo continues to be day-to-day with his ankle injury and he may not be available Friday when the Celtics play the Hornets. “I don’t know if we’ll see him tomorrow or not but he’s getting close,” Rivers said. “Each time he’s worked out there’s been some swelling. That’s a concern. We’re going to take it slow. We’re not going to push him back, we’ll just wait until he’s ready to play.”
Here are more highlights from the conversation: Read the rest of this entry »
Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
It’s fitting that the adage — Murphy’s law — came from an Irishman, as it probably crossed the mind of every Celtics fan who watched as Kevin Garnett crumpled to the floor in agony late in the first quarter of his team’s 104-92 loss to the Pistons in Detroit on Wednesday night.
It certainly entered Doc Rivers‘ thoughts.
‘I thought it was his knee the way he did it — the knee or the Achilles,’ Rivers told reporters in Detroit. ‘You’ve heard me say it before: Injuries when nobody’s around, to me, are always the severe ones. There was no one around when he grabbed it, so I thought it was a bad one. Let’s just hope it’s not. I don’t think it is, but we’ll find out later.’
It looked like the knee as Garnett limped up the floor to commit a foul on Tayshaun Prince and stop the clock. It definitely looked like the knee as trainer Ed Lacerte rubbed Garnett’s leg on the bench. And it had to be the knee when replays looked eerily similar to Garnett’s season-ending injury in 2009.
But Garnett hobbled to the training room on his own accord, the first sign that it wasn’t, in fact, the knee. Later, he walked gingerly (but better) to undergo X-rays that eventually revealed no fractures.
During the game, the Celtics were quick to calm the nerves of their fans, their coach and even their players, as the team stressed that Garnett suffered ‘a lower left leg injury’ — not a knee or ankle issue.
After the game, the C’s claimed that tests revealed no structural damage to the knee, and Garnett most likely injured his calf muscle. That noise you’re hearing is the collective sigh of relief from those same Boston fans, coaches and players.
‘I don’t think it’s bad, so I’m not that concerned,’ added Rivers. ‘He’s going to miss games, probably. I don’t know how many. I don’t think it will be that long, but, listen, it happens.’
Watching Garnett hop on one leg, it wasn’t a few games most Celtics observers were concerned about. It was another promising season that had appeared to go up in flames before what can now only be termed as ‘good news’ came from the Celtics’ organization.
|Fast Break: Pistons pound Celtics||12.29.10 at 10:09 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett left the game with a lower right leg injury late in the first quarter, but even before that the Celtics were in trouble during a 104-92 loss to the Pistons on the road on the second night of a back-to-back. Paul Pierce scored a game-high 33 points on 11-of-16 shooting, but only one other Celtic (Ray Allen) reached double figures. The Celtics drop to 24-6, despite Pierce’s effort to fuel a failed fourth-quarter comeback.
Meanwhile, despite the absence of their leading scorer (Rodney Stuckey), six Pistons scored in double digits: Tracy McGrady (21), Tayshaun Prince (18), Charlie Villanueva (14), Austin Daye (12), Ben Gordon (12) and Chris Wilcox (10).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Kevin Garnett goes down: Late in the first quarter, Garnett went up for a wide-open dunk, held on to the rim for an extra second as he grimaced in pain and limped up the floor on his left leg. Moments later, Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte worked on the same right leg that kept Garnett from finishing the 2008-09 season and hobbled him last year. Then, the official word: Garnett was out for the remainder of the game with a “lower right leg injury.”
Later, the Celtics stressed it was not a knee or ankle issue, but indeed a lower right leg injury. Garnett underwent X-rays, which showed no fractures, and he’ll have an MRI on Thursday. He walked to the locker and training rooms on his own accord.
Is it New Year’s Day? As Tommy Heinsohn said on the television broadcast, “They’re playing like they’re hungover.” The Celtics looked sluggish, even before the injury to Garnett. In the first quarter alone, they committed eight turnovers and allowed the Pistons to shoot 11-of-20 (55 percent).
In all, the C’s committed 21 turnovers, leading to 23 Pistons points. Detroit also shot 39-of-69 from the field (56 percent) and 10-of-14 from 3-point range (71 percent) for the game. The Celtics even made McGrady appear like the McGrady of old, as he totaled 21 points, eight assists and four rebounds.
Sharing the wealth: In their first matchup of the season, with Rajon Rondo in the starting lineup, the Celtics recorded 20 more assists than the Pistons (33-13) in a 109-86 victory.
This time around? The Pistons actually recorded eight more assists than the C’s (26-18), as Nate Robinson (one assist) got the start in place of the injured Rondo. In fact, the Celtics totaled more turnovers than assists.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Paul Pierce does it all: With Garnett out for the remainder of the game, all eyes turned to Pierce for leadership on both ends of the floor. He responded — even though his teammates did not. Pierce scored 33 points to go with eight assists, five rebounds and five steals. Allen was the only other Celtic to reach double figures, finishing with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Jermaine O’Neal contributes: In 23 minutes off the bench, Jermaine O’Neal — who had shown little to nothing since returning on Christmas Day — recorded six rebounds and seven points, making his only two shots from the field. He even drew an important fourth-quarter charge on defense.
While it wasn’t much, O’Neal produced more in this outing than he had in the two previous games combined. If Garnett misses significant time this season, a giant magnifying glass will be focused on O’Neal’s impact.
Free-throw shooting: The Celtics didn’t get to the free-throw line much, but when they did they made them count — making 18-of-19 (94 percent). Pierce, Allen and O’Neal were a combined 14-for-14 from the charity stripe.
In fact, the C’s shot pretty well from everywhere on the floor, making 34-of-66 shots from the field (51 percent) and 6-of-15 3-pointers (40 percent).
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