|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo’s triple-double cools Heat||02.13.11 at 3:46 pm ET|
The first half felt like a preseason exhibition, and the second half played like a postseason battle. In the end, the Celtics defeated the Heat, 85-82, recapturing first place in the Eastern Conference by a half-game on Sunday afternoon in the TD Garden.
With 12.5 seconds to go and Lebron James on the line with a chance to tie the game with a pair of free throws, the Heat forward made just 1-of-2. Moments later, Glen Davis nailed a pair on the other end, and Mike Miller missed a game-tying 3-point attempt at the buzzer, as the Heat (39-15) lost to the Celtics (39-14) for the third time in three tries this year.
Rajon Rondo‘s third triple-double of the season (11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists steered the Celtics, despite Paul Pierce‘s worst offensive performance (1 point) since March 9 of his rooke season. The C’s survived 62 combined points from the Heat’s Big Three of Chris Bosh (24), Lebron James (22) and Dwyane Wade (16).
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Heat get chippy: When things got sloppy midway through the third quarter, it ignited the Celtics — and their crowd. First, Zydrunas Ilgauskas knocked Rondo to the ground on a legal screen, and then Kevin Garnett returned the favor on Miller. That’s when Wade decided to shove Garnett.
As the referees discussed the severity of Wade’s foul (a flagrant-1), Rondo listened in on the Heat’s non-timeout huddle. That’s when James decided to shove Rondo — twice. Those events came during a stretch in which the Celtics expanded a two-point lead to a 13-point advantage.
Don’t get Rajon Rondo angry: Rondo was playing well before Ilgauskas decked him. Afterwards? He was on a mission. The Celtics point guard produced his first triple-double since totaling 22 assists, 12 points and 10 rebounds against the Spurs on Jan. 5. Not to mention the fact he had just one turnover. As a result, Garnett, Davis, Ray Allen, Kendrick Perkins and Von Wafer all reached double figures as well.
Bench boost: Despite leaping 9.5 feet instead of 10 while missing a fast-break dunk attempt, and then belly-bumping Chris Bosh on the rebound, Glen Davis performed admirably off the bench. He totaled 16 points and four rebounds in 30 minutes. Over the previous eight days, in the Celtics’ three losses, he shot 5-of-18 and averaged six points. That was a far cry from the guy who cemented himself as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate earlier this season.
And despite looking lost at times, Von Wafer made two big second-half 3′s to total 10 points.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Paul Pierce feeling the Heat:: After missing practice with an illness earlier in the week, Pierce still appeared sluggish on Sunday against the Heat. He missed all 10 of his shots — including five 3-pointers. Meanwhile, his defensive assignment, James, made 10-of-21 buckets and outscored him 22-1 for the game.
Easy like Sunday morning: Even the crowd didn’t seem entirely into the game in the first quarter. The Celtics took three more shots than the Heat in the opening 12 minutes, yet they trailed 20-15. That’s because the C’s shot just 6-of-20 (30 percent) while defensively allowing the Heat to connect on 9-of-17 field goals (52.9 percent) in that same span.
Riding the starters: Considering the Celtics’ depth was as shallow as a kiddie pool, and they still defeated the next-best team in the East, the C’s couldn’t have asked for much more. It’s a stretch in the “what went wrong” department, but Doc Rivers was forced to play Rondo and Allen 40-plus minutes, Perkins 30-plus minutes for the fifth straight game and a (less than 100 percent) Pierce 35-plus minutes. Since the C’s play just once (Wednesday) in the next nine days, that shouldn’t cause much concern.
|Doc Rivers: We weren’t up the challenge of the Lakers||02.11.11 at 10:57 am ET|
One characteristic Doc Rivers has always admired about his team was that it fights through almost every kind of adversity.
On Thursday night, he didn’t have that feeling. Whether it was the overwhelming number of injuries, the foul trouble of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Kobe being Kobe or just all of the above, Rivers just didn’t have the feeling that his team had the energy or will to overcome all of it. And that, more than the 92-86 loss to the Lakers at TD Garden seem to bug him the most.
“I thought they came out and jumped on us early in the third quarter, first –scored the first 10 points,” Rivers began. “And I never thought we fought through it, really. I mean obviously the fatigue and all that – you know, one of our concerns going into the game were Paul or Ray couldn’t get in foul trouble obviously, because of what we had left. And that happened.
“But I just thought mentally we were not a very good team tonight and usually we are. I didn’t think we fought hard enough through adversity, and we’re great at that usually.”
But not on this night. While the Celtics are not a great rebounding team to begin with, they usually find a knack of dominating their opponent in the paint. Not on this night when they were outscored, 50-32.
They usually get to loose balls and find a way to score on second-chance points. Not on this night. They were outscored, 16-9, in that category. And while Rajon Rondo posted his 21st double-double of the season, he was just 5-of-14 and – after feeding Ray Allen for his record-breaking three in transition – couldn’t let his team back. It didn’t help that Nate Robinson went down with a bruised right knee in the second quarter and didn’t return.
“It was one of those nights; I just thought we didn’t do a very good job of [battling],” Rivers said. “And we obviously did have a lot of adversity with the injury of Nate and foul trouble and the lack of bodies, but you know that that could happen before the game and I don’t think we handled that very well.”
And watching Kobe Bryant – with just three shots in the first half – take over in the third quarter didn’t help either.
“Well once he saw there was a chance to win, Kobe was going to be Kobe,” Rivers said. “I think we knew that a week ago. And, he also knew that we had foul problems on the floor and he was aggressive. Kobe didn’t win the game with his offense. Kobe won the game today with his defense. I thought defensively he was absolutely phenomenal. He was everywhere. He was trapping, he was helping, you know off Rondo all night, and trapped the post, blocked shots. I mean, he just had a great floor game to me more than just scoring.”
The Celtics face another NBA superstar when LeBron James and the Heat come calling on Sunday. The same Heat team that has been dominated twice this year by the Green. And whether or not Delonte West returns from a broken right wrist, the C’s better find their fight on Sunday or history will repeat itself.
|Celtics prepare for life without Marquis Daniels||02.09.11 at 4:22 pm ET|
This was always Doc Rivers‘ biggest concern. What if something happens to Paul Pierce or Marquis Daniels?
“It puts us in a terrible spot,” Rivers said after practice Wednesday. “Going into the year, that was the area of concern because we knew we were one injury away from being very thin and unfortunately it happened.”
The Celtics simply don’t know how long Daniels will be out after he suffered a bruised spinal cord during Sunday’s game with the Magic. Team president Danny Ainge said they would hopefully know more next week after Daniels consults with various doctors and is offered an array of medical opinions.
“The Marquis situation is still a little bit up in the air,” Ainge said. “We’ll probably know more in a week or so what’s going on there, what’s going on in Marquis’ mind, get some different opinion from doctors. That is complicated and the fact that we don’t have Delonte [West] healthy, that complicates the matter as well. We’re thin now. If we had Delonte and Von [Wafer] we’d be fine.”
Ainge expressed confidence in Wafer’s ability to handle the backup small forward role, but Rivers was a little more skeptical.
“He’s not big enough to be that guy,” Rivers said. “We’re going to have to do something. We worked on it today and I’ve been here seven years and you’ve seen me trap probably 10 times. We’re going to have to start trapping, which weakens your defense. I hate it. But we worked on it today and we’re going to work on it every day until we get another [small forward].”
There are still a few ways for Rivers to get creative with his lineups. “It depends on who we have, and what we can get away with honestly,” Rivers said.
He can play a small lineup with Ray Allen in the spot alongside Rajon Rondo and either Wafer or Nate Robinson. He might consider going the other way and using Glen Davis in the spot. Of particular concern is Sunday’s game with the Heat and a certain someone named LeBron James.
“When Paul goes out, somebody’s going to have to guard LeBron,” Rivers said. “We don’t have that someone.”
|Irish Coffee: Shaquille O’Neal talks Hoopz||02.03.11 at 12:31 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
During the filming of “Flavor of Love” on VH1, Nikki “Hoopz” Alexander dominated Flavor Flav in a game of one-on-one. Then she owned some dude named “Entertainer” with a flurry of profanities on “I Love Money” — another VH1 reality show.
But she’d probably have a tougher time defeating her current boyfriend, Shaquille O’Neal.
Sudbury’s most famous couple went two-on-one in an interview with The Globe’s Meredith Goldstein for a Home & Lifestyle section cover story. Here’s what we learned:
- Hoopz, 28, on Shaq, 38: “I knew he was a goofball. We’re the same. We’re both goofballs.’’
- Shaq is 7-foot-1; Hoopz is 5-foot-2. A full Nelson de la Rosa separates them.
- Hoopz is filming another reality show, based on their suburban life and her desire to become a women’s heath and self-defense guru. Like I won’t watch that.
- Shaq has a pit bull named Shamrock. Do you think the dog has a Kobe Bryant chew toy?
- Ther’s a room in Shaq’s house that features Taylor Swift and “Alice in Wonderland” posters on the wall and candy canisters everwhere. Oh, and there’s a pink bathroom, too. Thankfully, that room is Hoopz’s. Shaq calls it the “dungeon.”
- Hoopz won “Flavor of Love” Season 1, capturing Flavor Flav’s “on-camera affection” and the ultimate prize: a set of gold teeth. I think I just found my Valentine’s Day gift.
- Hoopz then took home $250,000 for winning “I Love Money,’’ a crazy reality show spinoff about the craziest VH1 reality show castoffs that could only happen in America.
- Hoopz once followed another basketball player, James “Boo” Jackson, to Tennessee. A gym gypsy of sorts, Jackson left town for another team. Hoopz stayed behind.
- Hoopz and Shaq’s first date was in Las Vegas. Luckily, it didn’t end up at The Best Little Chapel — a la Stu and Jade in “The Hangover.”
- The next few dates between Hoopz took Shaq included fishing, visiting a Waffle House and listening to music by Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift. You know, typical Shaq things.
- Shaq on Hoopz: “She’s my first female best friend, besides my mother.’’
- Shaq has a live-in chef. Unfortunately, it’s not Chef from “South Park.”
- Hoopz and Shaq watch “Spartacus” on Starz together. Loin cloths optional.
- Hoopz attends every Celtics home game. Shaq attends most, too.
|Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I’m against what the Jets are doing’||01.13.11 at 10:55 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning, following Wednesday’s night’s 119-95 rout of the Kings. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Rivers started the conversation by giving his opinion of the trash-talking going on in the lead-up to Sunday’s Patriots-Jets playoff game. He said, “I can’t wait for the game,” but he didn’t support the Jets’ disrespectful comments. “It’s stuff obviously I don’t like,” he said. “But it’s who they are. And that’s what they’ve been all year. … I’m against what the Jets are doing, because I do think it — I don’t know if it motivates you, but it may give you that extra, a little bit more, so who knows?”
The Celtics snapped a two-game losing streak with Wednesday’s win. It followed Monday’s 108-102 loss to the Rockets in which the Celtics’ effort was lacking, according to Rivers. “In an 82-game season, you’re going have some of those [letdowns],” he said. “I didn’t feel like we would have one last night, because of what happened against Houston. … I just thought we’d be ready last night.”
Kevin Garnett remains out after straining his right calf two weeks ago vs. the Pistons. “He is day-to-day, very close, but just not ready yet,” Rivers said.
Rivers said he feels sympathy for Cavaliers coach Byron Scott, whose team was hammered by the Lakers, 112-57, in losing for the 21st time in 22 games on Tuesday. However, he doesn’t think LeBron James deserves the type of criticism he’s received for abandoning Cleveland.
“No it’s not unfair,” he said. “It was legal. He became a free agent and he left. And there’s nothing wrong with what he did. What did they have, seven years, in LeBron’s mind to get it right, to get him the players he wanted for them to win. And in his opinion, they never did that. And so, he had every right to do what he did. Obviously, you knew if LeBron left it would wreak havoc on that team, and it has. It tells you one thing, is how good LeBron was. He’s the only guy that really left the team, and man, it’s amazing what’s happened.”
Rivers raved about the iPad, which he uses to watch video and check stats. “It is absolutely amazing how often I’m on it,” he said. “Way too much.”
|Irish Coffee: The homecomings of Celtics greats||12.03.10 at 12:55 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Other than a Cavaliers assistant coach telling him to “shut the [bleep] up” and a fan tossing a battery in his general direction, things couldn’t have gone much better for LeBron James in his return to Cleveland on Thursday night.
The two-time NBA Most Valuable Player produced 38 points, eight assists and five rebounds, as his new team (the Heat) beat his former team (the Cavaliers), 118-90. Not too shabby.
But you know who had a better game in his first game against his former team? Danny Ainge.
I decided to do some quick research into every former player who either had his number retired by the Celtics or appeared in an All-Star game as a member of the team in order to see who had to face the C’s after appearing in another uniform.
Basketball Reference didn’t have box scores for the seasons that Jo Jo White (Warriors), Dave Cowens (Bucks), Ed Macauley (Saint Louis Hawks), Tiny Archibald (Bucks), Bailey Howell (76ers) and Paul Silas (Nuggets) could’ve faced the Celtics as opposing players for the first time after donnning green and white.
That left Ainge, Cedric Maxwell, Robert Parish and Antoine Walker. Here’s a synopsis of how each player performed in his first game against the Celtics after playing in Boston:
Danny Ainge (1989-90 Sacramento Kings)
- Back story: Ainge and Brad Lohaus were dealt by the Celtics to the Kings for Joe Kleine.
- The game: Celtics 115, Kings 112 (OT)
- Stat line: 39 points, nine assists and six rebounds
- His quote: “It was a highly emotional game for me. I never wanted to beat a team so badly as I did them that night.”
Antoine Walker (2003-04 Dallas Mavericks)
- Back story: The Celtics traded Walker and Tony Delk to the Mavericks for Raef LaFrentz, Jiri Welsch, Chris Mills and their 2004 No. 1 pick.
- The game: Celtics 105, Mavericks 103
- Stat line: Seven points, eight assists and seven rebounds
- His quote: “It was nice to see [the fans' reaction] and very surprising. It kind of puts a closing for me in Boston, and I can move on with my career.”
Cedric Maxwell (1985-86 Los Angeles Clippers)
- Back story: The Celtics dealt Maxwell, their 1986 No. 1 pick and cash to the Clippers for Bill Walton.
- The game: Celtics 125, Clippers 103
- Stat line: Six points and 10 rebounds
- His quote: “Revenge? How can you be seeking revenge against a team that’s stil paying you?”
Robert Parish (1994-95 Charlotte Hornets)
- Back story: At the age of 41, Parish signed two-year, $5.5 million free-agent deal with the Hornets.
- The game: Celtics 98, Hornets 91
- Stat line: Eight points, four rebounds and one block
- His quote: “I must say I was surprised by the length of the ovation. I’m not comfortable with being honored, showered with appreciation. But it’s always appreciated.”
Unlike LeBron’s return to Cleveland, the only bad blood that existed in these cases came between the player and management as a result of the trades — rather than between the fans and the player. All four of those guys are beloved by Boston fans. I’m not sure James will ever capture Cleveland’s adoration again.
HALL OF FAMER BILL FITCH?
Speaking of former Celtics, two-time NBA Coach of the Year Bill Fitch, who guided the C’s to the 1981 NBA championship, is a finalist for the 2011 class for the Hall of Fame.
“I haven’t even thought about that,” Fitch told Houston’s local FOX affiliate. “When you get to be my age (76), the only hall you think of is the big one upstairs.”
“They have a shirt and tie of mine somewhere up there,” Fitch added. “You know how when you win a big game the hall of fame asks you for something. So I feel like I’ve undressed at the hall, but they’ve never asked me to stay.”
Fitch may have the eighth-most wins in NBA coaching history, but he also ranks second for most losses at the helm. Former Celtics star Don Nelson and coach Rick Pitino are also finalists for this year’s Hall of Fame class.
FIVE CELTICS IN NBA’S TOP 50
Sporting News polled 76 current and former NBA players and coaches — including Rick Barry, Dee Brown, Bob Cousy, Dave Cowens, Bill Fitch, Tom Heinsohn, Daryl Morey, Jim O’Brien, Doc Rivers, Paul Silas and Jo Jo White – to determine the league’s top 50 players.
Kobe Bryant ranked No. 1 for the second straight season, capturing 49 of the 76 first-place votes. James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol rounded out the top 10.
Here’s where the Celtics finished (last year’s ranking in parentheses):
14. Paul Pierce (10)
16. Rajon Rondo (38)
20. Kevin Garnett (7)
25. Ray Allen (27)
35. Shaquille O’Neal (16)
Considering 11 of the 76 contributors had Celtics ties, the numbers may have fallen in their favor. Do you think Heinsohn had them ranked 1-5, with Glen Davis at six?
RAJON RONDO: NBA’S THIRD-BEST POINT GUARD?
Baseketball Reference creator and Trail Blazers statistical consultant Justin Kubatko contributed an interesting analysis to The New York Times of the NBA’s top point guards over the last year and change. Along with their shooting percentages and assist percentage (number of teammates’ field goals assisted while on the floor). He also included two new statistics:
“The first, steal percentage, is an estimate of the number of steals the player records per 100 opponent possessions. The second, win shares per 48 minutes, is an estimate of the number of wins the player generates per 48 minutes played (the league average for this statistic is 0.100).”
The results determined Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and Tony Parker were the league’s most productive point guards, in that order. Here are the results:
- Paul: 51.9 2-PT FG%, 39.4 3-PT FG%, 86.7 FT%, 51.2 AST%, 3.68 STL%, 0.264 WS/48
- Williams: 51.1 2-PT FG%, 34.4 3-PT FG%, 82.8 FT%, 46.0 AST%, 1.66 STL%, 0.175 WS/48
- Rondo: 52.8 2-PT FG%, 25.4 3-PT FG%, 61.9 FT%, 42.8 AST%, 3.16 STL%, 0.166 WS/48
- Parker: 51.0 2-PT FG%, 30.6 3-PT FG%, 77.4 FT%, 36.2 AST%, 1.40 STL%, 0.144 WS/48
Perhaps what’s most surprising is how much better Paul is than everyone else. As Kubatko notes:
This is not much of a contest. Paul shoots the highest percentage on 3-pointers and free throws; he has the best assist percentage; he has the top steal percentage; and he generates wins at a rate almost 51 percent higher than the next-closest point guard.
‘THE ASSOCIATION’ PREVIEW
The first of NBA Entertainment’s five-part, behind-the-scenes documentary of the Celtics airs Friday night at 7.p.m. on ESPN, prior to their game against the Bulls at the Garden.
My favorite part of this preview, other than the fact that former New Kid on the Block Donnie Wahlberg is narrating it, is this quote from Shaq:
“Sometimes, you’ve got to put things in business terms. When I was younger, I was the CEO — everything was branded my way. But now, I’m an older guy, an experienced gentleman and they have a CEO, so I look at myself as a consultant. And, if it’s all about winning, then you have no problem doing that.”
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I’m a Celtic … for as long as I’m coaching’||12.02.10 at 11:56 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to discuss some of the most “Heat”ed topics around the NBA and in the Celtics organization. Rivers commented on LeBron James‘ return to Cleveland, Kevin Garnett receiving stitches on his chin, and the C’s win on Wednesday against the Blazers.
“When Ray [Allen] was open, I liked the odds,” Rivers said. “I just think Ray’s got to make shots. I never really panic when Ray’s missing shots, or Paul [Pierce]. I just know they’re great shooters, and great shooters make shots, and eventually they do. They have that occasional game where they miss them all, but I still like the odds whenever [Ray] takes a shot.”
To hear the entire interview with Doc, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Was last night a prime example of which of the following two things (talking about the end of the game): your team’s ability to trust one another, or a great NBA shooter has no conscience whatsoever?
Probably both; I mean really both. The play before that, Ray took a tough shot. Really the play was to get a switch, which we got, and Ray was going to throw it to the post, but Ray thought he was open and jacked it up. You know what, that’s why he’s a great player: because he can go 0 for whatever or one for whatever, and if he’s open he thinks that next shot should go in, and then on the other part of that, Paul Pierce was, what, 9 for 11, and actually had a decent shot, and passed it to Ray who was wide open. So that’s the trust factor.
When that play was about to unfold, and Paul had the option to shoot it or pass it, as the coach which did you prefer he do?
Well when Ray was open, I liked the odds. I just think Ray’s got to make shots. I really never panic when Ray’s missing shots, or Paul. I just know they’re great shooters, and great shooters make shots, and eventually they do. They have that occasional game where they miss them all, but I still like the odds whenever [Ray] takes a shot.
When Danny Ainge took Big Baby in the second round a few years ago, did you know that he was this good? Or did you think it was a stretch at the time? Read the rest of this entry »