|Fast break: Celtics suffer letdown against Cavaliers||10.27.10 at 9:54 pm ET|
It was the second night of the first back-to-back of the season and the Celtics were playing in a decidedly different atmosphere than the one they experienced in Boston on Tuesday. Still, there are no viable excuses for the Celtics, who blew a fourth-quarter lead in a 95-87 loss to the Cavaliers. (Recap.)
The Celtics played with fire throughout the game and it ultimately burned them, especially down the stretch where they were outscored, 13-3.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG
Too many turnovers: The main problem with the Celtics offense remains turnovers. They had 10 in the first half and another nine in the second. The Cavs wound up with nine more shots than the Celtics, one reason why they were able to win despite shooting under 45 percent.
Jermaine O’Neal will need some time: Give Jermaine O’Neal credit for getting himself healthy enough to play after a variety of training camp injuries, but he was not effective at all in 12 lackluster minutes. O’Neal fouled out with two points — his first points of the season — along with three turnovers and two rebounds.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
Kevin Garnett looks fresh: Garnett had his second-straight double-digit rebounding game with 15 boards. There’s a long way to go, but Garnett looks so much more athletic than he did at this time last season.
Glen Davis knows his role: The Celtics bench needs to fine-tune things, but Davis has assumed the role of sixth man. He saw action at both the center and power forward spots and scored 14 points to go with five rebounds in 33 minutes of action. He and Marquis Daniels have been the top reserves.
Managing minutes: Rivers acknowledged that he played his veterans too many minutes in the opener, and despite the second-half run by the Cavs, he kept his starters on the bench and let his team play through it. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce went from 40 minutes down to the mid-30’s and Garnett clocked in at a more reasonable 30 minutes. Managing minutes may have cost the Celtics the game, but Rivers is going to keep the long view throughout the season.
|Paul Pierce knows clutch when he sees it||at 3:38 pm ET|
You know you’re clutch when Paul Pierce says you’re one of the best clutch players he’s ever played with. Kevin Garnett echoed those feelings about Ray Allen after the sharpshooter showed off his deadly shooting prowess again late in Tuesday’s season-opening 88-80 win over the Miami Heat.
Allen hit a clutch three-pointer from the left baseline with 49.8 seconds to go in the fourth quarter to seal Boston’s win over LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the highly-anticipated NBA lid-lifter at TD Garden.
“I’ve been a witness of it the last three years, and he’s one of the best players that I’ve ever played with,” Pierce said of Allen. “It’s an honor just to be able to step on the court with him night in and night out. You’ve got a guy that can take that kind of pressure off you, it’s an amazing feeling. I don’t know if you guys realize it, but Ray, he’s hit so many game winners for us and so many clutch shots for us, we have confidence to get him the ball in these situations. He delivers nine times out of ten.”
“And this guy hits big shots himself,” smiled Garnett, who added just the right amount of perspective.
But Pierce also admitted, “I like watching, too.”
Pierce did exactly that when he fed Allen off a designed play and the Celtics desperately needing a bucket to regain control after Miami drew to within three on a James lay-up with under a minute remaining.
“We drew a play out of the time out, and the only thing we said is, if it’s not there, it won’t be there because they have to rotate, and if they rotate, if we make the next pass, the ball will find the open guy,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, before giving props to Pierce for making the extra pass.
James was defending Pierce very closely and not giving him a good look so the Celtics captain found an open and willing Allen on the left baseline.
“And that was terrific,” Rivers added. “He had a shot, but it would have been contested, and he made the extra pass. We always talk about no hero ball, and to me that was a hero pass in a great way. He didn’t have to make that pass, but he made the right decision, and it was great.”
Who was supposed to be on Allen? Former Celtic Eddie House, a shooting guard who can appreciate hitting the clutch shot.
“I should have stayed with him on the baseline,” House said. “He kicked it out and got that one right in front of our bench. That’s a play I’ve already replayed in my head about 1,000 times already. But Ray just does that to you.”
|Ray Allen, C’s knew what was coming||at 2:21 am ET|
The Heat played right into the hands of the Celtics all night long ‘ and right into the teeth of their defense.
And Ray Allen, who defended Wade much of the night and held him to 4-of-16 shooting, explained exactly how the Celtics were able to defend Miami in an 88-80 win in the season-opener at TD Garden.
The Celtics knew coming in that with James and Wade, the Heat were going to run isolation plays all night to try and get their two scoring stars going.
“We had a great swarm,” Allen said. “Everybody was in position. We talked on defense. We knew every play they were running so when they ran it, [Rajon] Rondo was right there, there was no gap. There was nowhere for LeBron to go and then we were coming back out for the shooters. There was one stretch where we were letting those corner 3s [be taken] and we have to do a better job of letting them have those shots.”
“We had seen every thing they run. and they run a lot of iso,” Davis said of isolation plays for James and Wade. “And the one thing about iso is you can guard that by throwing two or three guys at them.”
Miami, which made just 11-of-41 shots in the first half, finished the game shooting a measly 36.5 percent, connecting on 27-of-74 attempts. The two players primarily responsible for guarding James were Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels. Allen was on Wade and Garnett drew Bosh.
“I thought we’re a defensive team that can score the basketball,” Kevin Garnett said. “Paul has his hands full, I have my hands full, Ray Allen had his hands full. Those three are going to be a force to be reckoned with. With know that. Very talented guys, but it’s not one, two, three individuals that make a team. It definitely sets the foundation.
“But for the most part every time we touch the floor it’s about getting better. I thought tonight we did just that. We’ve got a lot of room to improve, but it’s the first night, a lot of expectations on tonight. But for the most part I thought we were solid enough to win, and we want to be better at home. What a way to start the year, with a win at home.”
The Celtics will try to continue their “swarm” when they play their first road game of the year on Wednesday night in Cleveland, serving as the opposition in the Cavaliers‘ first game without LeBron James.
|Bill Simmons on D&C: Heat ‘not ready’ to win Eastern Conference||10.26.10 at 4:17 pm ET|
Bill Simmons joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to discuss the Celtics‘ heavily hyped season-opener against the Heat. Simmons talked about LeBron James and his new crew in Miami and how the Big Three in South Beach will fare this season.
He also talked about the Celtics’ chances for success in the 2010-11 season. Simmons said that Paul Pierce is the player the team could least afford to lose.
“Pierce is the guys who can guard the other small forward, the guy who can take over a little bit at the end of the game. I even think they could survive a Rondo injury. … Pierce is the guy who they’d really feel it.”
Below are some highlights from the interview. To listen to the full audio visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Do you buy into the corporate lie that the Celtics are telling, that the regular season really means more to them this year than it did last year, because hell, had they won five or six more games in the regular season, the seventh game [of the NBA finals] would have been in Boston last year? Isn’t this an aging veteran team that just needs to get to the playoffs healthy?
That’s a good question, John Dennis. I don’t believe them. I do think the one difference between last year’s team and this year’s team is they have a bench. And when you have a bench, you can win games that maybe ‘ last year’s team, the starters, they didn’t show up, the team was not going to win. And I think you’ll see when Delonte [West] comes back ‘ I’ve got to say I was shocked by how good Delonte looked in the preseason. I thought out of everything I watched, that was the one thing I didn’t expect.
He just was bad last year. Obviously, it started out with him riding on a motorcycle with guns, and he got suspended and missed preseason and just was never what he was in 2008, when he was the second-best player on a team that almost bear the Celtics. I think that he is back to where he was, from what I saw. And when you see him and Nate [Robinson] come off the bench, I actually think that’s a backcourt that can swing a game for six, seven minutes. Then you throw in Big Baby [Glen Davis], who’s in fantastic shape. I’m not crazy about Jermaine O’Neal, obviously, but if he’s your 10th man, that’s not a terrible thing.
I just think the difference with last year vs. this year is Paul Pierce can go 5-for-19 in Detroit or Philly or wherever and they can still win the game because they have other guys.
|Celtics practice what Doc preaches||10.23.10 at 4:08 pm ET|
The Celtics went through a hard practice at Waltham Saturday. This was a different sort of workout than the one they endured Friday, which stretched out past three hours. As the curtain lifted, they were going through a scrimmage, complete with refs and all the intensity you would expect from a regular season game.
“It was the best practice we’ve had in a while,” Doc Rivers said. “It was good to see. Following yesterday’s fiasco of a practice, I thought today was phenomenal.”
But what really stood out was the sight of Kendrick Perkins, whiteboard in hand, drawing up a play for the second team (usually referred to as the White Team for their jerseys, as opposed to the starters, who wear green). The play was for Von Wafer to come off a back pick, but it didn’t go according to plan.
“We needed a 3 at the time,” coach Perk explained. “We were down six. So I went with a Doc play. We didn’t execute it right.”
This whole exercise was by design. It’s something Rivers learned from Mike Fratello when he played for him in Atlanta. “I saw something during the game,” Rivers said. “We came into the huddle and I said we’ve got to run this. We did it and we won the game, but that was the last time he let me do it.”
Rivers has tried this out with his players at various times — Gabe Pruitt called up a game-winner a few years back — and the benefits work both ways.
“You see a lot when you’re hurt and on the sidelines,” Perkins said. “You put yourself in the coach’s shoes and see what they’re going through. I’m just trying to install it in my head so when I get in there I won’t make the same mistakes.”
“You learn a lot,” Rivers said. “You see what they’re thinking. You see who they think should take the shots. Who they think can make plays. What they learn is they get frustrated when guys don’t execute. That’s how I feel the whole game. It’s good learning tool for everybody.”
“Ray,” Rivers said. “Because it’s always for him. Rondo and Ray are pretty darn good.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Kevin Garnett on Celtic pride, Beverly Cleary||at 3:29 pm ET|
You never know what you’re going to get from Kevin Garnett in an interview setting. Some days he might be terse. Other days he may be expansive. On Saturday after the C’s went through practice, KG was in a chatty mood.
“We’ve done a good job of policing ourselves, making sure the standard that we’ve built,” Garnett said. “I can’t speak on other franchises other than one that I played with, but I know that when you come in here and you look up and see all the retired numbers and banners and see the dedication and the sweat and tears that have been poured into this club, that’s a responsibility.”
Wanting to keep the conversation going, I mentioned that when veterans come to the Celtics, they find that attitude refreshing. That was when KG dropped a reference to noted children’s author Beverly Cleary.
“Think about it,” Garnett said. “You’re a writer. If you looked up to Beverly Cleary and different writers who were monumental and whatever it is that inspired you, and you come into their office or to their desk or type at their typewriter, if you have any kind of passion, I don’t know you personally, but if you have any kind of passion about something and you were able to put yourself in their place while they were writing their stories, then you would feel that. It’s no different from basketball. It’s a very prideful thing. It’s a very honorable thing.”
For the record, your correspondent is more of a F. Scott Fitzgerald man, but point taken.
|KG: Celtics-Heat definitely a ‘soap opera’||10.19.10 at 8:50 pm ET|
Ray Allen has always had a special way with words.
He knows exactly how to say something with a smile and deliver the right tone and most importantly – the right message.
His message following Tuesday night’s intrasquad “Green-White” scrimmage at TD Garden was: Everyone knows we’re a team. Everyone wants to find out if Miami is, too.
“I believe so because there’s never been an opening game that has been more heavily anticipated,” Allen said. “I do believe that people are definitely excited to see them more than they’re excited about about seeing us. Truly they know, as a team, what we represent. The two teams are Eastern Conference powerhouses. It’s going to be a game.”
“I think with the anticipation [after] our exiting the finals last year and then with the new additions to Miami, they overly hyped the game,” Kevin Garnett added. “Yeah, I can see this has a lot of episodes, a lot of drama, if you will. It will have a lot of soap opera feel to it. Days of Our Lives, Another World, Santa Barbara.
“My grandmother was a big, big soap opera fan so it was either go outside or sit in there with her so I know that schedule quite well.”
Allen played Tuesday for the Green squad, which captured a 38-31 victory in an enhanced practice before season ticket holders and VIPs. The Celtics conclude their preseason Wednesday night against New Jersey at the Garden before opening the NBA season next Tuesday against the Heat, also at TD Garden.
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