|Hot Celtics might not only make playoffs, but have chance to advance||03.24.15 at 6:17 pm ET|
If the NBA and NHL playoffs were to start today, then the Celtics would be off to Atlanta for a first-round series while the Bruins cleaned out their lockers. Not many people in Boston saw this being the case on March 24.
Of course, the 31-39 Celtics still have 12 games to play, and while they currently sit in the East’s eighth seed, they are by no means a lock to make the playoffs. According to John Hollinger’s playoff odds on ESPN.com the C’s hold a 48.6 percent chance of landing in the postseason. If you want to see what the remainder of the regular season entails for all the teams competing for the final spots in the East, Ben Rohrbach gave us a pretty good look last week.
But let’s have some fun here. If the Celtics do make the playoffs, what’s their ceiling? We can all likely agree that if the Celts draw LeBron James‘ Cavaliers in the first-round that they stand no chance. Maybe they steal a game, but LeBron would prove to be too much. Boston could probably give the Hawks a good run and make it a series, but likely still fall in five or six games despite making Atlanta sweat.
What’s changed in the East over the past month is the fact that the Bucks are no longer locked into the sixth seed as they seemingly were just a month ago. Going into the All-Star break, Milwaukee had withstood Jabari Parker’s ACL tear and compiled a 30-23 record — becoming the first team to double their previous season’s win total (15) by the All-Star break in the following season. Since then? Frankly trading away Brandon Knight completely crippled them. Despite still holding onto the sixth seed by the skin of their teeth, the Bucks are just 4-13 since the break. Their 34-36 record means they are just three games ahead of the Celtics and a game and a half ahead of the Heat (who sit in control of the seven spot).
In their final 12 games, the C’s face seven opponents with losing records and five with winning records. If they can win seven or eight of those games (including two huge must-wins over the Bucks and games against the Heat and Pacers), the sixth seed is in sight. To further help Boston’s cause, Isaiah Thomas is expected to return on Wednesday for the important matchup against Miami, and ideally the rest of the playoff push.
The C’s clearly wouldn’t own home court, but would a matchup against the third seeded Raptors, or potentially Derrick Rose-less Bulls be something these resilient Celtics couldn’t overcome? Personally, I’d like their chances.
The Raptors have lost 11 of their last 16 games, and look like they’ll be limping into the playoffs. They are also coming off a season in which they were upset on their home floor in game 7 of the first-round by Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett‘s Brooklyn squad. The Bulls may be a tougher opponent than Toronto, but with Rose’s future as uncertain as any player in the league, the feisty Celtics would surely have a shot at an upset here if Chicago were to climb into the third seed.
I don’t want to take the fun out of Brad Stevens‘ first playoff race by raising expectations. Like I said, we never expected this to be the case from the beginning. So for now, enjoy these final 12 games. But if the C’s can get hot for this home stretch — with some help from Miami and Milwaukee — we could be watching a Celtics team that gets hot at just the right time go from making a little more noise than we thought this season to a whole lot more noise in the postseason.
Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow
|Last call: Celtics make furious comeback but season ends in Game 6||05.03.13 at 9:57 pm ET|
History will have to wait.
Despite one of the most furious comebacks in NBA playoff history, the Celtics‘ season came to an end Friday night with an 88-80 loss to the Knicks in Game 6 at a wild TD Garden. Boston used a 20-0 run over a four-minute span midway through the fourth quarter to cut a 26-point hole down to six, and eventually cut it to four before the Knicks held on for dear life.
Iman Shumpert and Pablo Prigioni hit seven of their first nine attempts from 3-point range and combined for 27 points as the Knicks ended Boston’s hopes of becoming the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit.
The Knicks hit eight of their first 15 3-point attempts and turned 20 Boston turnovers into 17 points as New York clinched their first playoff series win since 2000.
The ice-cold Celtics lost in the first round for the first time since 2005, when they fell in seven games to the Pacers. In repeat of their offensive woes for most of the series, Boston scored just 27 points in the first half.
The Celtics pulled out all of the cards in their final home game of the season, including playing a video montage of the Red Sox comeback from 3-0 down in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees before the tip.
In a repeat of Game 5 in New York on Wednesday night, the Celtics got off to a very cold start. New York raced out to a 21-5 lead in the first quarter as Pablo Prigioni hit three 3-pointers. Unlike Game 5, the Celtics couldn’t immediately work their way back into the game as they started out missing 11 of their first 14 shots and finished the first quarter trailing 24-10, while shooting just 4-for-16 from the field.
No one on the Celtics struggled more than their captain. Pierce finished the first half making just one of 10 shots while missing all five from 3-point range after going 4-for-8 from long distance in Game 5. The Knicks built their lead to 18 twice in the second quarter before the Celtics answered with a 10-0 run that included consecutive threes from Jeff Green and Jason Terry, getting the Garden crowd into the game for the first time.
Carmelo Anthony carried the Knicks offensively in the first half, scoring 14 points, including a key three-point play with just 4.5 seconds left before halftime that gave New York a 39-27 halftime lead. Anthony finished with 21 points.
Garnett hit a jumper to start the third quarter to cut the deficit to 10 but Prigioni fed Tyson Chandler for a slam dunk. That was followed by a Prigioni reverse layup and a Raymond Felton jumper and New York had a 45-29 lead. After Bass hit one of two free throws, Prigioni answered with his fifth 3-pointer with 8:56 and the Knicks matched their biggest lead, 50-32. Read the rest of this entry »
Maybe it was as simple as learning from Game 6 against Miami last spring in the Eastern Conference finals. Or Maybe it was just re-enforcing the obvious.
Whatever the reason, Doc Rivers made one thing perfectly clear before Game 6 with the Knicks Friday night – the Celtics, not the crowd, must be the ones to bring it against New York if they are going to become the fourth team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after a 3-0 hole,
“I told our guys, we can’t lean on,” said Rivers. “We have to supply the energy. We can’t think because we’re here now that we can let our guard down. We’re playing a really good team and an extremely talented team. We have to do more to win, in my opinion. We have to be ready to do that.”
Rivers, surrounded by 25 reporters and photographers outside the Celtics locker room, said he’s also not putting much stock in the bad blood between the two teams after the exchange between Jordan Crawford and Carmelo Anthony.
“I don’t worry about that. I really thought that was much ado about nothing,” Rivers said. “I thought Carmelo said something to Jordan; Jordan said something back. It’s words. Obviously, then then words take their own meaning, I’m hearing that people are reading lips now and all this stuff. I had one of my assistants telling me what he thought someone said. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is getting too deep for me.’ I really don’t worry about it. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of healthy dislike, that’s all good. But let’s just play the game.”
WALTHAM — In the hours before Game 6, Terrence Williams reminded everyone of the animosity between the Celtics and Knicks in this series.
“I always wanted to say this, that’s playoff basketball,” Williams said at Friday morning’s shootaround in Waltham. “Before I got here, I heard these two teams were rivals so you don’t expect anything less. But at the end of the day, it’s basketball. I think everything should be left on the court. Nothing should be escalated off the court like last game at the end of the game. Stuff like that shouldn’t happen but it’s playoff basketball.”
The back-up guard doesn’t think either team has any tricks in store for Game 6 at TD Garden. Williams made a point to once again bring up the Knicks funeral wardrobe before Game 5 at Madison Square Garden, and explained why that bothered him.
“No, there are no surprises,” Williams said. “At this point, I don’t think either team likes each other. We’re all for our guys and they’re for their guys. When people wear all black and say it’s a funeral, a lot of us have people that died in our own personal lives. That’s not really something funny. That’s not something to play with. You can say you’re going to end the series in New York but not [call it] a funeral. We know we don’t like them and we know they don’t like us.”
That bad blood was countered when Jordan Crawford verbally attacked Carmelo Anthony at the end of Game 5, giving the Knicks some ammunition in the war of words. Crawford didn’t play in Game 5 but Williams did. It was Williams, along with DJ White and Chris Wilcox, who was at the center of trying to keep Crawford away from Anthony and the Knicks.
“I was there, yeah,” Williams said Friday morning. “I don’t really remember. I put out of my mind. As you guys saw, I was trying to be the peacemaker. I grabbed Felton. I don’t want that to escalate. I don’t really remember.”
Has a message been sent from coach Doc Rivers and the staff about keeping the mouths shut before and during the game?
“I don’t know if it has or hasn’t,” Williams said. “It doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, we’re going to compete. If there’s a funeral, then there’s a funeral. If there’s fuel to the fire with that, then it is what it is but you don’t really have to have that conversation because we’re not little kids. We’re professionals. We’re going to try and handle our jobs every day.”
Williams was the only Celtics player to talk Friday morning as the team prepared for the 7 p.m. tip at TD Garden.
|Terrence Williams: ‘One thing I’ve learned from being here is to be ready’||05.02.13 at 2:23 am ET|
NEW YORK — Unheralded backup guard Terrence Williams was one of only two bench players to see action for the Celtics on Wednesday night, but he provided four points and four rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench as the Celtics beat the Knicks, 92-86, in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden.
“I know it sounds cliche, but I know how to play basketball,” Williams said when asked about not being overwhelmed by the big-game situation of Game 5. “One thing I’ve learned from being here [with the Celtics] is to be ready.”
Williams came off the bench several times in the second half, including midway through the third quarter when Jeff Green was struggling with his offensive game.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers trusted Williams enough to put him in the game in the second half for Green, as the team’s season hung in the balance.
“He controlled the ball,” Rivers said. “He can handle the pressure and bring it up the floor. He got guys into our stuff. He allowed us to get organized. Sometimes you pull out a card. He was it tonight. We loved his size, he was rebounding. What we are asking him to do is what he has never done before. He is defending. Everybody told me he can’t defend, but he is proving everyone wrong. He is doing it for us.”
After Williams came off the bench ahead of Jordan Crawford, Courtney Lee, Shav Randolph and Chris Wilcox, all of whom did not play, it’s fairly obvious that he will be ready again for Game 6 Friday night in Boston.
|Jason Terry: ‘We have a lot of basketball left in us’||at 1:53 am ET|
NEW YORK — The “Game 7” theme repeated itself before, during and after Boston’s 92-86 win in Game 5 Wednesday night. As a result, Jason Terry and the Celtics have a Game 6 on Friday night at TD Garden.
Terry led a blazing 11-for-20 effort from 3-point range, drilling 5-of-7 from beyond the arc as the Celtics overcame an early 11-0 hole to beat the Knicks and become the 11th team in NBA history to force a Game 6 after being down 3-0.
“We know every game for us is a Game 7,” Terry said. “We played with tremendous resiliency. The last two games we were able to make shots and play solid defense.”
As for his inspired 17-point effort off the bench, Terry said he felt the same as he has all series.
“I am pumped every game whether I am making or missing [shots],” he said. “It is all about being resilient. ‘Do you want to pack up your things and go home or do you want to play another day?’ Every playoff series takes a life of their own. Nobody in here is going to quit.
“It shows you how resilient we are. We know we are starting to jell as a team. Injuries have plagued all season long, but in this series it is all about heart. I believe in this team, the coaching staff. We have a lot of basketball left in us.”
Terry’s fifth and final trey of the night came with 4:57 left in the fourth quarter and put Boston up 80-67 as the Knicks were desperately trying to get back in the game.
|Carmelo Anthony: ‘I’m not thinking about no Jordan Crawford’||05.01.13 at 11:51 pm ET|
NEW YORK — In a series filled with trash talk back and forth, the animosity between the Celtics and Knicks reached a whole new level at the end of Game 5.
After the Celtics completed a 92-86 win at Madison Square Garden, the players were leaving the court and crossed paths with the Knicks, who were heading toward the other end and their locker room.
Video shows Jordan Crawford yelling at Carmelo Anthony, with Celtics reserve D.J. White trying to intercede and keep the peace. As the shouting continued, Raymond Felton is seen coming over and yelling at Crawford.
“I’m not thinking about no Jordan Crawford, not at this point in time. I’ll tell you that,” Anthony said afterward at his press conference. “I don’t even think he deserves for you to be typing right now.”
On Jan. 7, Anthony and Kevin Garnett got into a verbal battle that spilled over to the staging area near the Celtics’ bus. The argument allegedly involved comments that Garnett made about Anthony’s wife.
The animosity in the series began in earnest when J.R. Smith elbowed Jason Terry in the face with seven minutes to go in Game 3 and the Knicks leading by 19 points. Smith was suspended for Game 4, which the Celtics won in overtime, 97-90. Smith declared on Tuesday that he’d be golfing instead of practicing had he not been suspended because the Knicks would have swept the series.
Kenyon Martin added fuel to the fire when he suggested all of his teammates should wear black to Wednesday’s game since it would serve as a funeral for the Celtics.
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