|Box and 2: Inside Celtics, Bucks and Wizards, oh my||11.05.12 at 2:39 pm ET|
– Called upon by Doc Rivers Friday night to protect the paint against the Bucks, when smaller lineups weren’t working, Darko Milicic played 4:30 of the first quarter. He missed his only shot — an air-balled baby left hook — and committed more turnovers (2) than he totaled rebounds (1) or blocks (0). Then, he didn’t play Saturday.
Kevin Garnett: “We’re still playing with the chemistry. We have different lineups in which Doc is playing with simultaneously, and we’re still working. No one said this was going to be an easy process.”
Translation: “The Darko Experiment is called that for a reason. Let’s just hope it doesn’t blow up in our face.”
– Over the weekend, Brandon Bass finished a minus-11 in 40:52 without Jared Sullinger on the floor. The Celtics outscored the opponent in just two of his 10 stints sans Sullinger — by one in the final 3:53 of the first quarter against the Wizards and by two Terry free throws in the final 1:35 of that game. Without Bass on the floor, Sullinger finished a plus-14 in 33:29, and the C’s outscored opponents in five of those eight stints. (In case you were wondering, the two played 14:40 together, finished a minus-9 and only outscored opponents once in six stints.)
Rivers (via the Herald): “[Sullinger] brings a different component, more importantly rebounding. He knows how to play without the ball. He’s a great passer. He blends well with our starting group.”
Translation: “Sorry Brandon, but you’re going to see a lot more Sullinger in the starting lineup.”
|Doc Rivers: ‘I don’t see the urgency yet’||11.03.12 at 1:39 am ET|
Doc Rivers admitted a couple of things Friday night after his team lost in stunning fashion to the Bucks, 99-88, in their home opener at TD Garden.
The Celtics coach doesn’t think his team has played with any urgency this season. And on Friday, he had to – for the first time in his recent memory – remind his team to actually pass the basketball.
Those are two developments no one could have foreseen with this particular veteran Celtics group after two games and two losses.
On Friday night, the Celtics didn’t allow 100 points like the 120 Tuesday night in Miami. But they still allowed the Bucks to get out in transition easily and they were having all sorts of problems consistently defending the low post as they were outscored 52-36 in the paint.
“I don’t know if I’m upset, concerned – I’m all those, probably,” Rivers said. “We just – I don’t see the urgency yet. At times think we thought we would show up, because we have a lot of players on the team, and that would mean we would win. And when you make this many changes, I think our guys have to understand you have to invest, invest into the team to become a team. And I don’t think we’ve done that yet. I think we will. I think guys are, their minds – their spirit is right; we’ve got to get the minds right too.
“But I thought offense was bad too. I thought we fumbled, I thought we had no rhythm. And we haven’t graduated to the point where you can play bad offense and stay defensively. You know what I mean? So I thought it was both; I thought our defense was bad all night. But I thought our offense – you know, that thing where you start struggling on offense, you get down, and then you start not playing defense – I thought that was a lot of it. I thought early on we got open shots, then I thought we pressed, I thought we little ‘every man for himself,’ and then selfishly I thought every guy was trying to win the game for us. But I thought there was very little ball movement, extra passes. I thought each guy, when he tried to make the play, I thought that was out of frustration. I really thought they were pressing.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Kevin Garnett’s ‘pack of hyenas’ Celtics speech||at 1:07 am ET|
Needless to say, Kevin Garnett didn’t enjoy the Bucks embarrassing his Celtics a few nights after the Heat dropped 120 on their defense, so he privately addressed his teammates in the locker room afterwards.
“When we came in the locker room, KG spoke,” Courtney Lee said. “What he said is that we’ve got to go into every battle like we’re the underdog, like we have nothing, like we’re scrapping. He used the hyena as an example. The hyena, when they go for the kill, they eat in packs. And that’s how we’ve got to do it. We’ve gotta go out there, have each other’s backs, play for each other, make the right plays and be on the same page.”
Garnett, Lee and even the very vocal Jason Terry wouldn’t go into much detail about the postgame speech about hyenas, but it’s safe to say it wasn’t anything like Zach Galifianakas‘ wolf pack soliloquy from “The Hangover.”
(If it was, it might’ve gone like this: “You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-man hyena pack. But when I met Rondo, I knew he was one of my own. And my hyena pack, it grew by one. So there were two of us in the hyena pack. I was alone first in the pack, and then Rondo joined in later. And a month ago, when Rondo introduced me to you guys, I thought, ‘Wait a second, could it be?’ And now I know for sure, I just added nine more guys to my hyena pack. Fifteen of us hyenas, running around the Garden together, in Boston, looking for strippers and cocaine. So tonight, I make a toast!”)
|Fast Break: Bucks stampede Celtics in Garden debut||11.02.12 at 9:46 pm ET|
So much for the Celtics keeping their house clean, as Paul Pierce vowed in the days leading up to the team’s home opener on Friday night, because the Bucks muddied up the Garden paint all night long.
Led by their backcourt of Brandon Jennings (21 points), Monta Ellis (14 points) and wing Tobias Harris (18 points) — among the many Bucks who seemed to coast to the basket at will –Milwaukee scored 52 points in the paint, built a lead as high as 22 and never looked back in a 99-88 blowout.
But, hey, at least Jeff Green made some baskets (11 points, 5-9 FG), so the Celtics have that going for them. Kevin Garnett (15 points), Rajon Rondo (14 points, 11 assists), Paul PIerce (11 points), Brandon Bass (10 points) and Jason Terry (10 points) also reached double figures. Here’s what else happened:
|Paul Pierce: ‘Our goal is to keep our home court clean’||at 11:29 am ET|
WALTHAM — In the labor-shortened 2011-12 NBA season, the Celtics were 24-9 at home on the parquet. They were 8-2 at the Garden in the playoffs.
But the sour taste from the last game they played before the home crowd remains. With a chance to eliminate the Heat on their home court, they came up flat, losing, 98-79, to LeBron James and company.
Everyone in attendance remembers the fans at the end of the game chanting “Let’s Go Celtics” and the players haven’t forgotten either, as they take the same court for the first time in a meaningful game since then tonight when they host the Bucks in the home opener.
“We’re excited,” Paul Pierce said. “We’re excited to be at home, especially after taking a loss in the first game so hopefully, we can come back home and establish ourselves. That’s going to be the emphasis this year – establish ourselves at home. No team should be able to come in here and get any wins. Our goal is to keep our home court clean so it can be an intimidating factor when they come to the Garden.”
“We had a tough year last year,” Rajon Rondo said. “Other than that, I think years in the past the Garden has been a tough place to play in.”
The team that will be trying to spoil the Celtics home opening party tonight is the Milwaukee Bucks, led by the dynamic duo backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. The Bucks will be playing their regular season opener tonight.
“I know they’ve got two explosive guards in the backcourt and I think a lot of things start with them,” Pierce said. “I’m very familiar with Ilyasova [Ersan Ilyasova] and that’s pretty much that core. They have good role players in Dunleavy [Mike Dunleavy] and more than capable guys like Drew Gooden so they pose a threat for us. They gave us trouble last year from what I remember so they have a good, talented team. This is their first game so they’ll be hungry to get out to a good start.”
“They’re a scrappy team,” Rondo added. “They play with a lot of intensity on defense. Jennings and Monta is their backcourt. That’s their firepower. Courtney [Courtney Lee] and I will have our hands full but it will be a team effort to win the game.”
|Doc Rivers picks up another award||05.14.12 at 6:36 pm ET|
The following should come as no surprise: Doc Rivers is very media friendly.
On Monday, the Professional Basketball Writers Association recognized this formally by announcing the Celtics head coach was voted the winner of the annual “Rudy Tomjanovich Award” – given to the head coach considered the most accessible to the media.
Rivers received 33 votes, topping a group that included Denver’s George Karl (13), Orlando’s Stan Van Gundy (9) and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle (2).
The PBWA also handed out two other awards. Phoenix Suns star point guard Steve Nash was announced as the winner of “The Magic Johnson Award” – the equivalent of Rivers’ award on the players’ side. The Milwaukee Bucks media relations staff was given the “Brian McIntyre Award” as the league’s most enterprising and helpful public relations staff.
|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo, Celtics stop Bucks season here||04.26.12 at 10:11 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Mickael Pietrus all returned to the lineup, and the Celtics cruised to an 87-74 victory against the Bucks in their regular-season finale.
The trio combined for just 13 points, but Rondo dished out 15 assists despite taking just one shot. Avery Bradley (14 points) and Paul Pierce (12 points) were the only Celtics to reach double digits, but the Celtics (39-27) cruised nonetheless.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Recovery act: At times, Rondo ran the floor like, well, a guy with a bad back, but it appeared more like an act than anything worth concern. He toyed with defenders at will, improving his streak of games with at least 10 assists to 24 by halftime. Meanwhile, Pietrus returned from his four-game absence to register nine points off the bench. Garnett only played 11 first-half minutes, but he showed no signs of the sore hip flexor that kept him out against the Heat. All in all, the trio of walking Celtics wounded appeared ready to go for the playoffs.
S’Moore: After totaling seven points and seven rebounds against the Heat on Tuesday night, rookie E’Twaun Moore put together another nice performance. At one point against the Bucks, he was a plus-18 in his time on the floor. Moore finished with eight points, five assists and four rebounds.
Hollins of Fame: It took all of 51 seconds for Ryan Hollins to put together his most productive stretch of the season. He scored seven points in just under a minute, including a pair of dunks — one of which even came on a putback after a rebound — that helped the Celtics establish a double-digit advantage early in the second quarter. After a month of discouragement, Thursday night was an encouraging sign for Hollins.
WHAT WENT WRONG
My left big toe: Just minutes into the game, Pierce limped back to the Celtics locker room accompanied by team Dr. Brian McKeon — a scary sight for a Celtics team hobbled by injuries entering the playoffs. Scarier still was the Celtics diagnosis that Pierce had sprained his left big toe and was “probably not likely to return.” Naturally, the C’s captain returned before halftime, scoring seven of the team’s final 11 points before the break. The feet have been an issue for Pierce ever since his heel injury during training camp, but on a night he accept an Eastern Conference Player of the Month trophy, his injuries don’t appear too serious.
Ray of hope: While Rondo, Pietrus and Garnett all returned, Ray Allen missed his ninth consecutive game — and 15th in his last 20 — with bone spurs in his right ankle. Celtics coach Doc Rivers pronounced Allen “probable” to play Game 1 of the Hawks series, but even if he does play, there has to be some doubt about his effectiveness after such a long absence. As for Greg Stiemsma, his foot problems shouldn’t keep him from his first career playoff game, even if he missed a second straight game on Thursday.
On the road again: With the Hawks holding a 20-point lead midway through the fourth quarter against the Mavericks, they appeared well on their way to claiming home court advantage in their first-round series against the Celtics. The C’s will own the fourth seed as the Atlantic Division winners, but will have to travel to Atlanta for Game 1 (on Sunday). The Celtics finished 2-1 against the Hawks (1-1 in the ATL) this season, but 2-0 when they weren’t missing five of their top eight rotation players.