|Fast Break: Better late than never for Celtics||02.02.11 at 12:31 am ET|
It took a quarter for the inevitable letdown to kick in, but the Celtics wandered through a disastrous second quarter Tuesday night against the Kings that not only saw them give up 34, it also gave their young opponents a shot of confidence. The good news for the Celtics is they recovered quite nicely with a strong second half in a 95-90 win that capped off their successful west coast trip on a winning note.
The win also means that Doc Rivers will be be the head coach for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star game, a nice tribute in what has been a tremendously rewarding season thus far.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The aggressive Rajon Rondo is the right Rajon Rondo: It was good to see the point guard carryover his second-half play against the Lakers into this one, and the Celtics desperately needed it. Rondo went to the basket early and often in the first half, even passing up could-be assists for sure-thing baskets. This is the Rondo that captured the imagination during the playoffs last season and the one that keeps opposing defenses on its heels because of his unpredictable style. This is the Rondo the Celtics need in the second half of the season.
Ray Allen is closing in on Reggie Miller: It’s only a matter of time now before Allen becomes the all-time 3-point king. He made four more Tuesday and is now nine away from passing Miller for the most 3-pointers made. On an up-and-down night, Allen was consistent throughout, just like he’s been throughout his remarkable career.
Kevin Garnett brought the good kind of crazy: After a so-so first half in which Garnett didn’t do much to distinguish himself, he brought out the insanely-intent version for the final 24 minutes. Garnett was all over the court, the floor and the boards. Whether it was aggressively challenging DeMarcus Cousins at the rim, or diving on the floor to come up with a steal, Garnett turned it on big-time in the third quarter. Not surprisingly, the Kings made only 6-of-19 shots and scored 17 points as the Celtics reclaimed the lead.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Time to start Perk? Shaquille O’Neal is either hurt or just not into it right now, but he is not giving the Celtics any kind of production as the starting center. Kendrick Perkins meanwhile is still looking to find his rhythm just five games into his return from knee surgery. However, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before Perkins rejoins the starting lineup and with an upcoming slate that features the Mavericks, Magic, Lakers and Heat in the next week and a half, the time may be right for the switch.
Putting out an APB for the bench: Starting Perkins would of course send O’Neal to the bench, which was the game plan all along. Rivers envisioned Shaq being a low-post scoring threat off the bench who would open up the perimeter and also create attention and space for Glen Davis. The Celtics second unit needs something right now because outside of Davis they all seem to be struggling. On an encouraging note, Nate Robinson gave the Celtics strong minutes in the second half and even closed out the game.
Slow down, you move too fast: One of the Celtics bad habits against bad teams is to get into an up-tempo game against them. The result is often turnovers and missed opportunities in transition. The Celtics turned it over 15 times, which contributed to their lackluster play in the first half.
|Preview Game 48: Winning the trip||02.01.11 at 10:49 am ET|
And now for the inevitable letdown. The Celtics proved their point Sunday afternoon in Los Angles with their emphatic win over the Lakers. Tuesday night in Sacramento figures to be a whole different kind of challenge.
The Celtics have already had a successful west coast trip in many respects. They did what they had to do in splitting their first two games — their trouble in back-to-backs notwithstanding — and their win over the Lakers will resonate. Still, a loss to the Kings would be a serious downer after all the strides this team has made.
It would be unwise for the Celtics to take them lightly because the Kings are playing good basketball right now. They won at Portland and followed that up by beating the Lakers in L.A. and knocking off the Hornets at home. The Celtics rolled the Kings back in Boston, but that was without Tyreke Evans. The Kings remain a young, unpredictable squad who will get on the offensive glass and try to play up-tempo.
This is all about business for the Celtics tonight, and if they care of it, they’ll come back to Boston with momentum heading into a huge 10-day stretch that will have them play the Mavericks, Magic, Lakers and Heat.
Offensive Rating: 108.3 (Points per 100 possessions, 11th)
Defensive Rating: 100.3 (Points allowed per 100 possessions, 2nd)
Pace: 90.7 (22nd)
Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal
Injuries: Glen Davis (Hamstring, probable), Delonte West (Wrist, out), Jermaine O’Neal (Knee, out).
Offensive Rating: 102.9 (25th)
Defensive Rating: 107.9 (16th)
Pace: 93.6 (9th)
Likely Starters: Beno Udrih, Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi, Carl Landry, DeMarcus Cousins
Injuries: Jason Thompson (Ankle, doubtful), Francisco Garcia (Calf, questionable) Read the rest of this entry »
|KG gives Rondo a pat on the back||03.27.10 at 12:06 am ET|
Maybe Kevin Garnett had the best perspective of all on the accomplishments of Rajon Rondo on Friday night. Not only did Rondo set a new career best with 18 assists in Boston’s 94-86 win over the Kings at TD Garden, the Celtics point guard set a new single-season steals mark with two in the game and 169 for the season.
“It’s a great accomplishment. He deserves a big pat on the back,” said Garnett, who promptly proceeded to take his left hand and give Rondo a playful shot to the ribs at the podium.
All of this while the Celtics were clinching their third straight Atlantic Division title.
“I wasn’t even aware of that,” Garnett said. “I don’t think that anybody in the locker room said anything like that. I think tonight we were more appreciative of Rondo, and his accomplishments. Anytime you get any kind of record in this organization, on a team like what we have, is a huge thing. We are just of appreciative of being in the moment, being here, being a part of it. It is a very special moment, and no one even talked about the division title tonight. Tonight was Rondo’s night.”
Indeed it was. From the opening tip and continuing throughout a game that had the Celtics up 24 points five different times in the third quarter, Rondo set the tempo with another all-around great game. He now has 696 assists, just 19 shy of Bob Cousy’s mark in the 1959-60 season.
“It may mean more to me once I retire or I am away from here,” Rondo said. “I am just focused on winning. It is a great accomplishment. This organization has won so many championships and has had some great players come through; so many all-stars have set records here, hopefully down the line another record. At the end of the day I am just trying to focus on getting wins and as an individual accomplishment, they come in the path of doing great things for the team.”
“Any time you get any record, whether it be assists or steals, or rebounds,” Garnett added, “records don’t just fall in your lap. A great effort, and anticipation. I have never been nowhere near steals and all of that.”
Of course, part of the issue with Rondo has been that he sometimes gambles on defense, leaving his teammates to cover for him when the defense is left out of position.
“The anticipation is a gamble at times, but you know we understand Rondo’s game and we all do different things,” Garnett said. “We know that nine out of 10 times he is solid. He does gamble, eight out of 10 times he is right. The two we have to make up for, but at the same time when we mess up, he is there to help us, so it evens itself out at the end of the day. It’s a great accomplishment and a big pat on the back for him.”
Rondo is dishing the ball as well as he ever has and certainly is running the Celtics offense better than at any point during this season. In other words, he’s peaking at just the right time – with just 10 games left in the season.
“Kevin made a lot of shots, Ray [Allen] made shots as well. The team made shots. I just try and give them the ball. Get easy position as much as possible, but what I was proud about were the turnovers, the turnover ratio,” said Rondo, who had 18 assists and just two turnovers. “I was just trying to take care of the ball. At times, I turned down a couple of shots because I was trying to pass it, but other than that, I was just happy taking care of the ball and keeping the turnovers down.”
|Fast Break: Celtics roll Kings||03.26.10 at 10:03 pm ET|
The Celtics treated the Kings exactly the way they should have Friday night at the Garden. The final score was 94-86, and despite some anxious moments in the fourth quarter it wasn’t really that close.
The Kings cut down what had been a 24-point Celtics lead down to six late in the game, but that came mostly against the second unit that had logged considerably more time than usual. The starters returned in the final five minutes and held serve.
The Celtics have now six of their last seven games since losing in Cleveland two weeks ago. With the win, and a Toronto loss, the Celtics clinched their third straight Atlantic Division title. That officially gives them the tiebreaker for third place in the East with the Hawks if they wind up with the same record.
The Celtics received even more good news Friday as the Hawks lost in Philadelphia. That puts the C’s a full game ahead of Atlanta.
The Kings were missing rookie Tyreke Evans, but it wouldn’t have mattered all that much if he had played. The Celtics jumped on Sacramento early and never looked back. They led by 15 points after one quarter and by 20 at the half.
Player of the Game: Rajon Rondo passed Rick Fox for the Celtics single-season record for steals with 167 and he moved passed Sherman Douglas for second on the single-season assists list. Next up for Rondo is Bob Cousy who has held the mark since the 1959-60 season (715). With a career-high 18 assists Friday night, Rondo has 696 for the season for the season. He could pass Cooz on this homestand.
Turning Point: With the Celtics leading by nine with 1:45 left in the game, they forced a 24-second shot clock violation and Kevin Garnett threw down a dunk at the other end to push the lead back up to double digits.
* Tony Allen came off the bench with the first wave of reserves and Marquis Daniels did not. Doc Rivers said before the game that Allen had earned some more playing time and he was as good as his word. This will be an interesting dynamic as the season plays out.
* Kevin Garnett had an incredibly active first quarter with seven rebounds. Garnett recorded his second straight double double with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
* Kendrick Perkins sat the game out with soreness in his knee. Rasheed Wallace started in his place and drew two quick fouls. Wallace wound up fouling out in 25 minutes with six points and just one rebound.
With Perkins out Shelden Williams got some extended time and played well with six points and three rebounds in 23 minutes.
* Ray Allen scored 18 points in the first half on 7-for-11 shooting.
* Nate Robinson sprained his left ankle at the 7-minute mark of the second quarter. Robinson was taken to the locker room and did not return.
* Brian Scalabrine entered the game late in the third quarter. It was his first action since March 7 against the Wizards. That was also the last game before the Celtics activated Michael Finley.
|First half summary: Celtics vs. Kings||at 8:45 pm ET|
The Celtics picked the perfect night for Kendrick Perkins to rest his sore left knee.
Thanks to the Rajon Rondo highlight show in the first half, the Celtics cruised to the locker room with a 57-37 halftime lead.
Rondo was credited with a steal midway through the second quarter, his 168th of the season, helping him pass Rick Fox for the all-time single-season Celtics mark.
He also had a remarkable 10 assists in the first 24 minutes to pass Sherman Douglas for second on the Celtics all-time single-season assist list. Douglas had 683 in the 1993-94 season and the way Rondo is playing, he should soon pass Bob Cousy’s 1959-60 mark of 715.
Several of those 10 assists went to Ray Allen, who had a game-high 18 points, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range.
The C’s held the Kings to just 17 points in the first quarter as they opened a 32-17 lead.
With his brother Marcus playing in the D-League for the Celtics in Maine, Carl Landry is putting on quite the show himself for the Kings in Boston. He has 18 to match Ray Allen for game honors so far.
The only bit of bad news was Nate Robinson turning his left ankle on a baseline drive to the basket. He suffered a sprain, left for the locker room in the second quarter and will not return.
|Preview: Celtics-Kings||at 11:23 am ET|
John Schumann of NBA.com recently broke down the numbers and made an interesting observation about the Celtics that has generated much discussion around the Internet. Schumann’s main finding is that the Celtics are a poor second-half team, particularly in the third quarter. This was most clearly seen against Utah earlier this week when the Jazz rallied from a five-point halftime deficit and turned a Celtics lead into a blowout loss.
There are many conclusions one can draw from that bit of information, but what it really seems to boil down to is that the Celtics have done a poor job of executing after halftime. Whether it’s age, focus or some other factor, Schumann’s analysis helps bring this whole nebulous conversation about their struggles into sharper focus.
As the Celtics continue through the regular season pay close attention to their play after halftime during their final 11 games. That might help tell us if they are actually becoming a contender again.
KINGS (24-48 3-7 last 10)
Points Per Game: 100.4
Points Allowed: 104.5
Differential: -4.1 (24th)
Offensive Efficiency: 105.4 (21st)
Defensive Efficiency: 109.7 (23rd)
Pace: 94.2 (6th)
CELTICS (46-25, 6-4 last 10)
Points Per Game: 99.0
Points Allowed: 94.4
Differential: +4.6 (8th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.4 (14th)
Defensive Efficiency: 102.4 (1st)
Pace: 91.8 (20th)
Injuries: None. Read the rest of this entry »
|Fast Break: Celtics vs. Kings||02.17.10 at 12:40 am ET|
With trade rumors swirling around a possible acquisition of Nate Robinson, the Celtics found themselves locked in an offensive struggle against one of the fastest-paced teams in the league. That might have been OK to play the Sacramento Kings style earlier in the season, but the Celtics can’t afford to mess around with sub-.500 teams anymore.
Enter the bench. The very same bench that Danny Ainge seems determined to try to tweak between now and the trade deadline Thursday.
Playing one of their most inspired quarters, the second unit took an 11-point lead behind the hot shooting of Eddie House and the interior defense of Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis. The Celtics rode that effort, and survived a shaky fourth quarter, en route to a 95-92 win over the Kings Tuesday night.
Wallace, Davis, House and Marquis Daniels all played major roles in the victory and helped the Celtics overcome a lackluster performance from the starting five. It’s only one game, of course, but if they had played that well for the majority of the season (and been healthy enough to try) Ainge wouldn’t be attempting to perform a makeover at the deadline.
Turning Point: Despite the bench’s efforts, the Celtics still had to work for it. Paul Pierce, who had a sub-par shooting game otherwise, drilled a 3-pointer with 1:38 remaining that put the Celtics ahead, 89-87. The Kings helped out mightily by missing four free throws down the stretch.
Player of the Game: Rasheed Wallace. The backup big man has maintained throughout the season that he, and the Celtics, will get things right when it counts. Tuesday night was a step in the right direction. Wallace finished with 17 points, five rebounds and three blocks, but it was his play down low that was so effective. Wallace dominated on the block in the first half and was also an active presence defensively. He shifted back outside in the second half, but he served a reminder that once again he is the Celtics best post-up player. When he wants to be.
* The starters were shredded defensively in the first quarter as the Kings shot 55 percent and made 5-of-8 from 3-point range. A balanced scoring effort and a lack of turnovers helped the Celtics match the Kings, 30-30.
* Ray Allen and Paul Pierce both went 5-for-15. Rajon Rondo also struggled, going 1-for-6.
* Kevin Garnett had nine rebounds through the first three quarters and almost recorded his first double-digit rebounding game since Dec. 18 against the Sixers, but he couldn’t get over the hump.
* Eddie House made four 3-pointers, something he hasn’t been able to do since a Dec. 30 blowout loss to the Suns.
* Glen Davis had five offensive rebounds in just 17 minutes of action.
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