|Paul Pierce: ‘Our goal is to keep our home court clean’||11.02.12 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.”
|Paul Pierce: Celtics ‘defense has got to come a lot faster’||at 10:08 am ET|
That was evident during the TNT telecast of Tuesday night’s season-opening loss in Miami.
He was wearing a microphone and barking out calls on the floor and words of encouragement to Rajon Rondo when things weren’t always going well.
On Thursday, before the Celtics home opener tonight against the Bucks, he was barking out something else.
“The defense has got to come a lot faster, and that’s something that’s come a lot faster in the past than the offense,” Pierce said of Boston’s 120 points allowed in a 120-107 loss to the Heat. “I’m pretty surprised we scored 107 points, to tell you the truth. Usually, the defense, we pick it up pretty fast. We understand our schemes, our rotations. But I just think we have to understand the type of atmosphere it was going to be. Some of the guys have never been in that atmosphere before, first game, playing against the defending champs on the road. We have to pick up our intensity, understand the moment, understand where we’re at and understand the type of game it’s going to be and raise our game.”
Doc Rivers thought his coaching staff had too much time to prepare and filled their players’ minds with too much information.
“I think our on-ball defense was average because our help defense was worse,” Rivers said. “If everybody is up guarding their own man and there’s no help and guys see gaps [in the defense], they’re taking it. What really upset us, every key guy got every shot he wanted, where they wanted the whole, and that’s a bad defensive night.
“It was team wide. It was spread. Like I told them, from the coaching standpoint, I thought we had way too much time to prepare for it and we put way too much stuff in their head. I thought they were thinking more than playing on instinct. I told our coaches we share in that. We had them doing a couple of different things and that’s not who we are defensively.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Who’s a dirtier player: Rajon Rondo or Dwyane Wade?||11.01.12 at 4:27 pm ET|
After Rondo wrapped his left arm around Wade’s collar in the waning seconds of a game already in Miami’s hand on Tuesday night, the Heat guard called his Boston counterpoint out for what he interpreted as “a punk play.”
“I got my kids watching so I stopped myself but it was a punk play by him,” said Wade. “He clotheslined me.”
He added: “I’m here to play basketball. If you want to do something else, then go do something else. Boxing, this is not it. I was glad I was able to stop myself in that very moment and move on from it. We’ll see next time we play.”
After C’s practice on Thursday, Rondo responded, recalling a certain play in Game 3 of the 2011 Eastern Conference semifinals, when Wade pulled him to the floor and dislocated his elbow.
‘I don’t think it was a hard foul,’ said Rondo, referring to Tuesday’s flagrant-1 on Wade. “He sold it a little bit, and that’s basketball. They were up, he drove to the hole and I didn’t want to give up a layup. Simple as that. I didn’t yank him down or dirty plays that you’ve seen him play in the past, so that’s what it is.’
Wade didn’t get whistled for a flagrant on Rondo two seasons ago, but that’s a different argument about superstar calls and whether the Celtics point guard fits that bill among NBA officials. As for which play was dirtier, it’s simple: Wade walked to the free throw line unharmed; Rondo walked off the floor clutching his arm in excruciating pain.
|Box and 1: Inside Celtics, Heat and ‘punk plays’||10.31.12 at 4:32 pm ET|
— On seven shots, Ray Allen scored 19 points (2-3 3P, 7-8 FT) against his former team. Not good. Not good at all. Allen delivered his first dagger — a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner — 1:03 into his 30:35 on the floor thanks to a missed defensive assignment by Jason Terry. So much for Terry’s “Ray Allen who?” routine.
Doc Rivers (via ESPN.com): “You can live with LeBron [James] and [Dwyane] Wade making jump shots, but the first play I think Ray was on the floor, we leave him by himself in the corner. You’d think we would know better.”
Translation: “We made dumb plays on defense. That’s why we gave up 31 points in three consecutive quarters.”
— When the Celtics signed Leandro Barbosa two weeks ago, Rivers already understood what his newest backcourt ingredient brought to the recipe: Instant offense. Directions are simple: If trailing by double digits late, insert Barbosa. And results are appetizing: 16 points (6-8 FG, 3-3 3P) and a 19-point lead trimmed to two.
Rivers (via Celtics.com): ‘If you get in a scoring contest and Barbosa’s on the floor, you’re going to feel pretty good about it,’ said Rivers. ‘Because that’s how he’s played. That’s how he’s used to playing.’
Translation: “I trust veterans. Barbosa is a veteran. Therefore, I trust Barbosa.”
No one saw this coming this quick.
Leandro Barbosa was signed on Oct. 18 as another scoring threat off the bench who is also capable of handling the ball when Rondo is not on the floor.
On Tuesday night, it was not Jason Terry, Jared Sullinger or Jeff Green who was big off the Celtics bench. All three frankly struggled. It was Barbosa – the Brazilian beast – who exploded for 16 points in 16 minutes, making six of his eight shots from the floor and running with Rondo in the fast break.
“He was terrific,” Doc Rivers said. “If you get into a scoring contest and Barbosa’s on the floor, you’re going to feel pretty good about it. that’s how he’s played, that’s how he’s used to playing. I love him, the way he attacks. He’s clearly not scared of the moment. He bailed us out. We got back in that game down the stretch and it was because Barbosa was on the floor.”
Indeed, Barbosa entered the game with 16.1 seconds left in the third quarter and played the entire fourth quarter, leading the Celtics from 19 points down to just a four-point deficit, 111-107, with two minutes left. Barbosa scored all 16 of his points in the final quarter, making quite the impression.
And it also creates quite the decision for Rivers to consider. Green played 18 minutes in the first three quarters but when Kevin Garnett came in for Green with 7:06 left in the fourth quarter, making just three free throws and missing all four field goal attempts. Terry wasn’t much better on this night, going 2-for-7 from the field with eight points in 28 minutes.
But read between the lines in what Rivers said about Terry and apply it to the bench overall, and you get an idea of the patience Rivers plans to apply early in the season while he finds the right mixes and matches off the bench.
“Not great but there’s 81 more,” Rivers said. “He’ll make up for it.”
|Poll: What exactly did Tuesday night in Miami prove?||at 2:57 pm ET|
|Fast Break: Ray Allen, Heat set Celtics ablaze||10.30.12 at 10:49 pm ET|
Just as we last saw them, the Celtics left Miami wondering how in the hell they’ll beat the Heat.
Only this time, Ray Allen reigned jumpers for the home team. After watching his new teammates receive their NBA championship rings as part of the opening night festivities, Allen scored 19 points in a 120-107 win against his old ones. Fellow fresh face Rashard Lewis (10 points) inflicted some pain as well, and LeBron James (26 points, 10 rebounds), Dwyane Wade (29 points) and Chris Bosh (19 points, 10 rebounds) did their usual damage.
Celtics captain Paul Pierce registered a team-high 23 points, Rajon Rondo (20 points, 13 assists, 7 rebounds and 1 flagrant foul) and Brandon Bass (15 points, 11 rebounds) recorded double-doubles, and Leandro Barbosa (16 points) reached double figures off the bench, but the defense couldn’t cool Miami on the other end — even after a 16-3 run cut the lead to two late in the fourth quarter. Here’s what else happened:
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