|Fast Break: Celtics-Magic||12.25.09 at 5:23 pm ET|
If Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has his way, the NBA would make like the rest of the world and take Christmas Day off. He has a point, but for the last two decades Dec. 25 has become the NBA’s early-season showcase event and there’s no chance of that changing anytime soon.The way his team played against the Celtics, he may get his wish.
Without Paul Pierce, the Celtics played a different brand of basketball than has been their norm this season. There was very little flash and not much in the way of offensive efficiency. Instead the Celtics played gritty, grind-it-out halfcourt hoops with a heavy emphasis on defense. It was playoff-style basketball, if not playoff-style execution. The Magic, meanwhile, played like they would have rather been knocking back some eggnog with the family.
It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t anything that the NBA would want to put in its highlight packages, but for the Celtics this 86-77 win was their biggest of the season. The Magic have owned this matchup recently, but with Kevin Garnett back to check Rashard Lewis and Rajon Rondo playing far more aggressively than he has against Orlando, the Celtics were able to escape with the victory.
Player of the Game: Rajon Rondo. Every time you think you have Rondo figured out, he does something to make you think otherwise. He has been one the game’s best distributors as a point guard, but he has struggled against Orlando. The Magic didn’t even pretend to guard Rondo on the perimeter. They ducked under screens and gave him a 10-foot cushion at the top of the key.
So, Rondo adjusted. Instead of looking to set up his teammates he attacked the basket throughout the first half. The result was a 13-point, zero-assist half. Rondo then completely reversed course and racked up eight assists in the second half. He dictated the outcome instead of allowing the Magic to take him out of the game.
Turning Point: With Garnett out of the game the Magic were able to attack the offensive glass in the fourth quarter. In one sequence they had four shots at the basket from deep inside the paint. Finally, Rasheed Wallace was able to tap the ball out to Rondo, who found Tony Allen on the break for a vicious dunk. It was a huge four-point swing.
* Glen Davis was limited to a few minutes in the first half, mainly because of foul trouble. He’s not in game shape yet, but he was able to soak up a few minutes and allowed Doc Rivers to rest Kevin Garnett and keep him on his regular rotation.
* You take the good with the bad when it comes to Tony Allen, and he offered a little bit of both starting for Paul Pierce. He went to the basket hard and did what he could on Vince Carter. He also turned into a bit of a ball stopper at times on offense. The good far outweighed the bad, however, and Allen continued his strong play of late with 16 points.
* Kendrick Perkins is one of the few individuals on the planet who can play Dwight Howard straight up. It’s past time that NBA officials recognized that and let him play. Instead, Perkins spent most of the afternoon on the bench in foul trouble. As ragged as the play was at times, the officials helped create the environment.
* The Celtics desperately missed Pierce’s ability to create good shots for himself down the stretch. Without Pierce they lack a closer.
* Garnett took a hard fall late in the game, but it appeared that it didn’t have anything to do with his knee.
|Sheed trying to keep Superman from lifting off||11.20.09 at 1:27 pm ET|
Rasheed Wallace makes no bones about his game plan heading into tonight’s match-up with Dwight Howard the defending Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic.
Don’t let Superman take off.
“Step on his launch pad,” Wallace said of his strategy. “He’s a big fella, he can jump. If you step on his launch pad before he can take off and make it a hard shot for him, it’s a 50-50 chance. He going to come with the hook and little jumper, just take that 50-50 chance.”
But just because he wants to make life miserable on Howard’s big feet, don’t get the impression he doesn’t try and help Howard when the two aren’t combatants in the low post.
Wallace actually gives Howard advice on how to become even more of a force than he is now.
“He doesn’t try to brush me off,” Wallace said. “He listens. That’s coming from him being raised well by his mom and dad. I don’t think he’s arroagant. He’s still trying to learn. I think he’s just tipping the iceberg because all we’re seeing right now is him dunking and catching the alley-oops. If he decides to go into the gym and get that little 12-to-15 footer down and they establish a good pick-and-roll with the three guys they’ve got, him and Jameer or him and Rashard, I think they’ll be pretty good.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Celtics savor shot at Magical redemption||11.19.09 at 10:26 pm ET|
WALTHAM – When last the Celtics saw the Orlando Magic, Kevin Garnett walked out of TD Garden one ticke- off man.
He had to watch from the bench as his teammates lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“I was [ticked] off. Really just [ticked] off,” Garnett admitted following Thursday’s practice.
“I’m not a miserable person,” Garnett continued. “I’m just looking forward to playing them. Obviously, they’re considered one of the best teams. I’m sure we’re going to rate ourselves and grade ourselves on that and try to play better. We’re a team that’s trying to get better so it should be a fun game.”
The Magic are tied with the Celtics with a 9-3, just behind Atlanta for early-season supremacy in the East.
“It’ll be nice to get to play them,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “They’re the team everyone is chasing in the East. They won the championship of the East last year. As far as we’re concerned, they’re the favorite, Cleveland’s the second favorite and we’re the third, based on the results of last year. It’ll be good to see where we’re at.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Vince Carter to Magic?||06.25.09 at 4:55 pm ET|
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Nets are in what he calls “advanced discussions” to send Vince Carter to Orlando for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie and Courtney Lee.
The only real prize for the Nets would be Lee who impressed a lot of people with his performance in the playoffs. Battie and Alston are, of course, free agents after the 2010 season, while Carter has three years and over $50 million still coming to him (the last year is a team option).
For all of his many quirks, Carter would be an interesting pickup for the Magic, who would bid adieu to Hedo Turkoglu if this goes down. Carter can shoot and he can create his own shot–two qualities the Magic need from their wing players–but he’s not exactly a defensive stopper. Carter, who is from Orlando, has also been a consistent performer with New Jersey since he was traded by Toronto in a messy divorce.
Funny how none of the trades that have actually happened ever made it to the rumor stage (the Shaq deal being the exception).
|Bench blues||05.18.09 at 12:56 am ET|
It was the unit that carried them time after time in this playoff run.
But on Sunday night, the Celtics’ bench looked like the regulars — drained and empty at the end.
Eddie House, Brian Scalabrine and Stephon Marbury combined for three field goals in 12 attempts, totaling eight points.
“Yes, did we struggle off the bench? Yes,” Scalabrine said. “I don’t know if it’s like you count on us. It’s like, once again, I always keep saying, the guys who make plays for us, they make plays for us and it’s our job to just knock shots down.”
On a night when it looked like Paul Pierce, Glen Davis and Rajon Rondo had hit the wall collectively, the bench needed to be there. Read the rest of this entry »
|Perk: We just didn’t show up||05.17.09 at 11:59 pm ET|
Kendrick Perkins gave his frank assessment of what happened in the aftermath of Boston’s 101-82 loss to the Orlando Magic in Game 7 on Sunday night.
“They took the crowd out early,” Perkins said. “Their three-point shooting was phenomenal. We looked tired, sluggish. I know guys’ hearts were there but we just didn’t really show up on the court tonight. It’s very disappointing, just for the simple fact that you don’t get opportunities to play on teams this talented.
“Nobody expected us to win (anything) anyway,” he added. “We had belief in this locker room. It looked like fatigue set in at the end of the day but they came out with all the right effort.”
|Game 7: Third quarter update||at 10:00 pm ET|
After three, the Magic lead, 66-61.
Every time the Celtics get close enough to really put pressure on Orlando, the Magic find a way to make a play or two. With the score 54-50, Ray Allen had a look at a 3-pointer, but it rimmed out. J.J. Redick and Hedo Turkoglu then hit 3-pointers to make it a 10-point game again.
With the Magic up seven, 64-57, Mickael Pietrus was able to get a layup in transition and Kendrick Perkins missed three shots from in close in rapid succession.
But the Celtics are hanging in there and they have the Magic to thank. Rashard Lewis missed a pair of free throws at the end of the quarter and Rafer Alston fouled Rajon Rondo while he was shooting a fade-away jumper. Then after Courtney Lee missed a 10-footer, Rondo drained a long two at the buzzer.
This sets up the classic fourth quarter situation. If the Magic are going to take a step and advance they will have to hold a lead on the road in a close-out game. The Celtics have 12 minutes to come back from yet another deficit and continue the defense of their title.