|Fast Break: Celtics regain luster against Blazers||02.20.10 at 1:12 am ET|
When the Celtics went out on their annual West Coast swing following the All-Star break, they were a team that was searching for itself. A narrow win over the Kings gave them some much-needed relief. A win over the Lakers gave them a much-needed victory over an elite team.
But it was Friday night against Portland, in the second game of a back-to-back, that the Celtics finally started to look like the Celtics of old in a 96-76 victory. (Recap.)
The Celtics put together a complete game that featured strong shooting (53.4 percent), low turnovers (11), solid rebounding and, most of all, defense. The Blazers shot just 34 percent for the game and scored just 15 points in the fourth quarter and 13 in the second.
The Celtics looked sharp early, making 14 of their first 18 shots. Kevin Garnett, in particular, was strong as he made his first six shots while Rajon Rondo had six assists in the first quarter. The Celtics then put the clamps down defensively, holding the Blazers to just three field goals in the quarter to take a 56-38 lead into halftime.
The Blazers closed to within nine early in the fourth quarter, but Ray Allen scored 11 of the next 14 points as part of a 14-2 run to put the game away. Allen led all scorers with 21 points and was 9-for-14 from the floor.
Turning Point: Portland scored just six points in the first six minutes of the second quarter as the Celtics built a 45-31 lead with their second unit. The starters picked it up from there as Garnett knocked down his first 3-pointer of the season on a desperation heave as the shot clock expired. Garnett followed that with a length-of-the-floor layup off a feed from Rondo.
Player of the Game: Rajon Rondo once again controlled the Celtics offense with 10 points and 11 assists in only 31 minutes.
* The Celtics’ physical defense got to the Blazers late in the first half as Kendrick Perkins and Andre Miller became entangled under the basket. Perkins and Juwan Howard were assessed double technical fouls.
* Rondo and Rasheed Wallace both picked up technical fouls in the third quarter. Wallace had his technical from Thursday night rescinded. Assuming he keeps this one, Wallace now has 13 technical fouls this season. His 16th would trigger an automatic suspension.
* The second unit played well with a combined 33 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Glen Davis was a force around the basket in the fourth quarter while the Celtics were able to pull away.
* Thanks to the lopsided final, Garnett played just 21 minutes, but he still scored 16 points and had seven rebounds.
* Paul Pierce was a game-time decision, but was in the starting lineup as usual. He scored just nine points on 3-for-9 shooting in 26 minutes. Danny Ainge said on The Big Show that Pierce was still fighting through his foot injury. (Click here for a full transcript of Ainge’s appearance Friday.)
* Nate Robinson did not play and will likely miss Sunday’s game with the Nuggets as well. Robinson has had the flu. The other new Celtic, Marcus Landry, is also not expected to join the team until Tuesday, when they both newcomers are scheduled to make their debuts against their old team when the Knicks come to town.
|Celtics announce the Robinson deal||02.18.10 at 9:02 pm ET|
The Celtics officially announced the deal to acquire Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry from the Knicks in exchange for Eddie House, Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens. Boston President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge lauded Robinson’s ball-handling and scoring abilities, suggesting that he brings sorely needed skills to the team.
“Nate is one of the great athletes in the league and he brings a dynamic scorer to our team,” Ainge said in the release. “We have been seeking a second ball handler capable of penetrating the defense and we believe that he provides that. We love Nate’s ability to pressure the ball defensively and we think he can add to our defense as well as our offense.”
Robinson, a 5-foot-9 guard, is currently averaging 13.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 24.4 minutes per game. The former Washington Husky is also shooting a career-high 45.2 percent from the field in 30 games this season.
Ainge did suggest that it was difficult to part with House, who became a key reserve in parts of three seasons with the Celtics. House was averaging 7.2 points, 1.4 boards and 1.0 assists a game this year. Read the rest of this entry »
|Robinson officially a Celtic||at 8:49 pm ET|
The Celtics announced late Thursday afternoon that the long-rumored trade of Nate Robinson to the Celtics was indeed, official. As it was reported earlier the Celtics traded Eddie House, Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens to the Knicks for Robinson and Marcus Landry.
“Nate is one of the great athletes in the league and he brings a dynamic scorer to our team,” Danny Ainge said in the team’s press release. “We have been seeking a second ball handler capable of penetrating the defense and we believe that he provides that. We love Nate’s ability to pressure the ball defensively and we think he can add to our defense as well as our offense.”
Ainge also expressed regret over trading House.
“It is tough to see Eddie go,” said Ainge. “He was one of my favorite players to watch and he was a key element in winning the 2008 championship and a tremendous presence in the locker room along with his son Jaelen. J.R. and Billy are two talented young players that haven’t had much of an opportunity to play. We thank them for their commitment and wish them well.”
Robinson is expected to take over House’s minutes as a reserve guard. He’s a better scorer than House, although not as good a shooter. Lanrdry, a 6-foot-7 rookie forward from Wisconsin, is not expected to have much of a role for the Celtics. In 17 games he has played just 108 minutes.
|Giddens reacts to trade||at 8:43 pm ET|
Giddens, who turned 25 last week, has been in Boston rehabbing his left knee (meniscus surgery) and predicts he could play in the next three-to-four weeks, depending on the Knicks’ assessment. He expects to leave for New York on Friday morning, and shared his thoughts on his past and present teams:
What was your reaction when you heard you were being traded to New York?
Well I was excited, but it was bittersweet just because I really wanted to do well and show the city of Boston what I could do. But hopefully the Knicks will give me the opportunity.
Why do you think you will be a good fit for Mike D’Antoni’s system?
As a ballplayer, I’ve got to think that I’m a good fit in any system. I’ve had three different college coaches. Then me being athletic in this system because he likes to run-and-gun and get up and down, I’m athletic and I’m best in transition. I could really use my athleticism to help them.
How did playing in Boston in under such a big spotlight prepare you for playing in Madison Square Garden?
Well New York is the mecca of basketball and Boston is a championship town and it’s so traditional. Both of them are obviously so rich with basketball tradition. Being out here and seeing how people appreciate basketball, it gives you that love for the game, and I’ll carry that over to New York if I’m given the right opportunity.
Can you sum up your time in Boston — what you learned and what it meant to play for the Celtics?
I learned a lot from a lot of the veterans and just being under the tutelage of Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers. You get to see great leaders and how they prepare themselves every day and just how they approach life. Just seeing Kevin (Garnett), Paul (Pierce), and Ray (Allen), and even guys like (Rajon) Rondo that are coming into their own, I can see how they conduct business every day, prepare their bodies, the preparation they go into every game with. Just as far as the physical and mental aspect of the game, they taught me a lot. And sitting on the bench with guys like Rasheed (Wallace) and (Brian) Scalabrine, Scal talked to me so much and helped educate me on situations in the game and just how to have my mental.
I think that I was like the little brother to everybody out there, so everybody kind of passed on a little bit of knowledge to me. From the head of the organization down, I’ve had so many heartfelt conversations with even trainers, ball boys, doctors, some of the veterans, some of the young guys, everybody. When you’re a young guy on the team, everybody has some wisdom to give you. So I’ve learned so much that I just feel blessed to be in that position. Now hopefully if the situation’s different, I can apply that on court in New York or wherever I get my chance.
Yeah, I’ll still be with those guys and familiar with them, being them for two years now.
What are you most looking forward to about being a Knick?
I’m just looking forward to starting fresh and hopefully getting the opportunity to show coach and players that I can help them win games and that I’m a good player and somebody that they’d like to have on their team.
You have that shamrock tattooed behind your ear. What’s next?
With the shamrock, it took me 22 years to get drafted to the NBA and the Celtics were the first team that gave me the opportunity to go on and play professional and follow my dreams and my heart. Every one of my tattoos means something so that’s always going to be my first, so the shamrock stays.
|Poll: Do you like the Nate Robinson trade?||at 5:38 pm ET|
|All eyes on New York||at 10:17 am ET|
Late last night the Rockets pulled off a major deal when they agreed to a trade that would send Tracy McGrady, Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey to the Kings for Kevin Martin, Hilton Armstrong, Sergio Rodriguez and Kenny Thomas. ESPN and Yahoo! Sports have the particulars.
Celtics fans have become well-acquainted with Martin over the last few weeks. The Kings have maintained that they wouldn’t move the scoring guard except for a young big man, and while Landry is not as well-known as the other players in the deal he has emerged as one of the best sixth men in the NBA and is a major scoring threat on the low post.
The other big piece is McGrady, who carries an expiring contract worth almost $23 million. The Kings, presumably, have no use for him and speculation has swung back to the Knicks who have been in talks with the Rockets about McGrady for weeks. The key for New York is unloading Jared Jeffries who has another year left on his contract after this one.
McGrady could be relayed to the Knicks along with Rodriguez for Jeffries, Larry Hughes and rookie Jordan Hill. The Knicks have also been said to be in talks with the Bulls about sending Al Harrington to Chicago for Tyrus Thomas and another player.
This is where the Celtics re-enter the picture in their quest to land Nate Robinson. The salary cap math doesn’t work on a Robinson for Eddie House swap so the two two teams would have to find a third team to help facilitate the move. Suddenly there are lots of third teams potentially available. Various reports have also indicated that J.R. Giddens would be involved somehow.
The Knicks also pulled off a minor deal Wednesday when they traded Darko Milicic to Minnesota for Brian Cardinal. The Knicks plan to release Cardinal, which would clear a roster spot, no small consideration. Before all the wheeling and dealing the Knicks were at the 15-player limit.
That’s a lot to sift through as we approach the 3 p.m. trade deadline. Indications remain strong that Robinson will be joining the Celtics, perhaps as early as tonight when they play the Lakers. How he winds up getting there is still to be determined.
|The latest on Nate||02.17.10 at 8:39 pm ET|
UPDATE (12:48 P.M.): ESPN’S Chris Sheridan is reporting that the teams have a tentative agreement that will send Eddie House, Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens to New York for Nate Robinson and an unidentified second player. It’s likely that that the other player is coming from somewhere other than New York, since none of the other Knicks make the salary cap math work.
The Knicks have been engaged with the Rockets, and now the Kings, on a deal for Tracy McGrady. Keep an eye on those two teams as the afternoon progresses toward the 3 p.m. deadline.
The Celtics want Nate Robinson. The Knicks want Eddie House. That’s the easy part.
House told reporters in Los Angeles, where the Celtics are getting ready to play the Lakers Thursday, that he expects to be traded before Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline. Robinson also reportedly cleaned out his locker in New York and was scratched from the Knicks game against the Bulls with what the team said was the flu.
The Celtics have targeted Robinson for a month and House has a relationship with Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni going back to their days together in Phoenix. And yet, it’s still not done.
The problem, as it’s been from the start, is that Robinson’s contract status as a base year compensation player makes him difficult to trade. The Knicks won’t take back anything for Robinson other than expiring contracts and while the Celtics have many players who fit that bill, none of them make the math work in a straight-up trade.
They can start to assemble a deal with multiple players involved — and reports have had everyone from J.R. Giddens to Bill Walker in the mix. Or, they can try to find a third team to bring into it who would then absorb some of the salaries. To date, no third team has been identified.
It’s also worth noting that the Knicks are at the 15-player maximum, which doesn’t leave them with a lot of wiggle room. The Celtics have had an open roster spot since the release of Lester Hudson. In other words, the Knicks can’t take back more players than they trade. (Minor update to this: The Knicks worked out a trade that sent Darko Milicic to Minnesota for Brian Cardinal and they are expected to waive Cardinal, which would free up a roster spot).
There is every reason to believe that the Celtics will wind up with Robinson in their backcourt. It’s just not clear how yet.