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How did the Celtics lose Game 1? We’ll count the ways 04.30.12 at 1:35 am ET
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ATLANTA — Well before Rajon Rondo lost his cool, the damage had been done to the Celtics in their playoff opener against the Hawks. It started in the first quarter when Atlanta raced to a 20-6 lead before six minutes had gone off the clock. It continued in the next 42 minutes, when they couldn’t make shots and every offensive possession carried with it an eerie reminder of the first half of the season.

“I don’€™t know if we kind of eased into the game,” Paul Pierce said. “It’€™s hard to tell. We establish ourselves early defensively. We definitely didn’€™t do that. They got every loose ball. They got every 3-point shot. They got everything they wanted in the first, and then it was like in a boxing match. You sit there and you’ve got your guard up, then you take your guard down, you take a punch and you’€™re like, Ok, we’€™re in a fight. We’ve got to realize we’€™re in a fight from the jump.”

The Celtics realized that too late, and after an 83-74 loss they now find themselves in the unenviable position of having to make up ground without homecourt advantage to sustain them. Over the final three quarters, the Celtics actually outscored Atlanta, 56-52, playing the kind of grimy, sludge-ball everyone expected in this series.

“This is a long series,” Pierce said. “You have to win four games and we just have to learn from our mistakes. Learn from the first quarter, learn from what we did better in the second and third quarters, and we’ve got to learn to keep our composure.”

It will be much harder if Rondo is suspended (click here for more on that story), but the blueprint is there. Assuming they can shoot better than 39 percent, there’s no reason they can’t get back into the series. Still, there’s a lot to work on between now and Tuesday’s Game 2.

Among the areas that need improvement:

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Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Kevin Garnett
Report: Bulls will send Hinrich, pick to Wizards 06.24.10 at 4:00 pm ET
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According to an ESPN report, the Bulls have agreed to a deal that would send guard Kirk Hinrich and the No. 17 pick to the Wizards in an effort to clear up salary cap space. The deal would not be able to be consummated until July 8, at which time the Wizards would have the salary cap space to afford Hinrich’s $9 million salary. It was not clear what Washington would send to Chicago in return.

Read More: Bulls, Kirk Hinrich, Wizards,
Ray to Bulls rumor swirls again 02.04.10 at 12:52 pm ET
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The Chicago Sun-Times put out the rumor that the Bulls and Celtics could get together on a deal that would send Ray Allen to Chicago for a package that includes Kirk Hinrich, Tyrus Thomas and Jerome James. That’s a deal that has been speculated about before, but it doesn’t seem like it would be a good match for the Celtics.

Thomas and James are both in the final years of their contracts. While James is essentially a non-factor, Thomas does have intriguing ability, but throughout his career he has been more potential than production. Hinrich is a player who has received lots of interest around the league because of his abilities and also because the Bulls would like to move his contract, which has two years left after this one, to create more cap space in the summer.

It has long been speculated that the Bulls will make a run at Chicago native Dwyane Wade. If they can clear Hinrich’s contract, they could have the space to go after two prime free agents.

Hinrich could help the Celtics, certainly. He is a solid playmaker and a good defender who can guard multiple positions. He is having a down shooting season, however, and would not be a viable replacement for Allen in that regard. The Celtics could get creative and try to work out a deal for Hinrich alone involving a combination of their other expiring contracts — Brian Scalabrine, Tony Allen, Eddie House, etc.–but probably not at the cost of Allen.

Doc Rivers had some interesting comments about this Thursday on his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan (click here for a full transcript).

“The thing that’€™s happening right now is everybody’€™s trying to give away their [expiring contracts] to those same teams and those same teams are trying to get a bargain,” Rivers said. “Eventually the trade stuff will end up, I don’€™t think with us, but around the league everybody’€™s trying to take advantage of everybody.”

In other words, the trade market has not yet fully taken shape. Teams are still in the feeling-out process. In regards to Allen, both Rivers and Danny Ainge have stated the team’s position, which is: They will listen to offers for Allen, but it will have to be a great deal for the Celtics for them to pull the trigger.

While the Hinrich rumor makes some sense in the abstract, it doesn’t appear to satisfy those requirements for the Celtics.

Read More: Kirk Hinrich, Ray Allen, Trade rumors,
Ian Thomsen on D&C: C’s need to adjust game 02.01.10 at 11:08 am ET
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Sports Illustrated NBA writer Ian Thomsen made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Celtics‘ recent woes. He explored the team’s current struggles, whether the Big Three still has the legs to mount a championship run, whether the team might consider a major deal along the lines of a trade of Ray Allen or whether a move to acquire a player such as Kirk Hinrich of the Bulls could help the team to pull out of its current funk.

Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, click here.

How quickly is the window closing?

It’s going to close fast if they don’t make the adjustments they need to make. They aren’t themselves, and I’m talking about [Kevin] Garnett especially, and [Paul] Pierce a little bit, and even Ray Allen. They’re just going to need to adjust the way they play, to try to make the best of it while they get through this transition. If they still think they can win a championship, they can’t do it the way they are playing now. They have to sort of do a transitional style to get them to March and April with a chance to win it.

Meaning what? Get new people?

Garnett needs to be more of a center right now. He’s not himself. He’s not beating guys down the floor in transition. [Lakers coach] Phil Jackson brought that up yesterday. He needs to be more that post-up guy, play a little bit more inside, they can play the ball through him. He needs to figure out what he can do and do that. Because what he’s doing now isn’t very productive.

They’ve been outscored in the fourth quarter in 12 of their last 14 games. Is that age and injury?

It’s age and injury, and I really think they’re asking too much of Rajon Rondo in his [fourth] year to be doing so much, to be carrying them, playing a lot of minutes, and then to lead them in the fourth quarters the way he’s been having to do. I think he’s come a long way, he’s a terrific player, he’s going to be even better in a couple of years. But right now they’re asking too much of him.

A lot of it just doesn’t make sense. The team doesn’t make sense, when you look at the hierarchy. Think about two years ago. When you looked at the stats for the season, it just all made sense the way the shots were divvied out, the order of things. And they don’t have that order right now. Rondo’s a big part of the offense as a point guard who is not a great shooter. Really, it all just comes down to not having Garnett be himself, and he’s got to figure out some way to be productive right now.

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Read More: Danny Ainge, Kevin Garnett, Kirk Hinrich, Marquis Daniels
Game 6: Rondo gets a flagrant 04.30.09 at 7:47 pm ET
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Late in the first quarter of Game 6, Rajon Rondo got tangled up with Chicago’s Kirk Hinrich and appeared to throw Hinrich into the scorer’s table. Hinrich came back at Rondo with a shove and the two squared off. Rondo was assessed a Flagrant 1 Foul, a huge break for the Celtics because a Flagrant 2 would have resulted in his ejection and could have led to a possible suspension.

Hinrich was assessed a technical foul on the play. It was the culmination of a tightly-called first quarter that saw 15 fouls called.

Read More: Kirk Hinrich, Rajon Rondo,
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