|Flip: ‘We choked’ against Celtics||03.08.10 at 2:04 am ET|
With all apologizes to Jim Croce, Saunders, now the head coach of the Wizards, knows you don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind and you don’t tick off the Big Ticket.
The last part of that equation was especially troublesome in Saunders’ eyes as he watched his Wizards blow a 79-66 lead with just over six minutes to go Sunday night.
‘Well, we choked,” Saunders began. “Six minutes to go, we’re up 13. We’ve got young guys, they don’t know what it’s like to be in a situation. We start talking to Garnett, start talking trash and everything else. Got Garnett and those guys juiced up and we just pissed down our leg the last six minutes.
“You have a veteran team that knows how to close out games against a young team that hasn’t been there, and instead of just letting a sleeping dog lie, we juiced up their energies. We had plays coming off timeouts and we had guys going to the wrong side of the floor, we were so discombobulated.’
|Ray: We probably got away with one||at 12:20 am ET|
Ray Allen felt comfortable all night.
With a game-high 25 points and 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the 3-point line, the stats say as much.
The problem was ‘ for 42 minutes ‘ the Washington Wizards felt just as good in nearly everything they did.
With the Celtics down 13 points, that’s when Allen said the C’s finally got to their opponent, opening the door for him to play hero in the final 93 seconds.
‘It was night and day. We put a lot of pressure on them. We made them play away from the basket. We forced them to be more uncomfortable than we did in the first half,” said Allen, whose trey with 17.1 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in Boston’s 86-83 win.
Asked if the Celtics might have gotten away with a win when maybe they didn’t deserve one, Allen was as honest as he could be.
‘You could say probably in a small way we did,” he admitted. “But we fought for it, we never gave up or thought it was over with, so it bowed in our favor tonight.’
|Finley: Not going to ‘hurt what they already have’||03.07.10 at 7:18 pm ET|
Finley and his new head coach both hail from the Windy City, and it was in Chicago where their bond began in the late 1970s while Finley’s sister and Doc Rivers were at Proviso East High School.
‘Well, me and Doc go way back,” Finley explained. “My sister was a cheerleader and he was the star basketball player at the high school games, and I used to sit under the basket and watch him play. That’s how far our relationship goes back. He’s always been a mentor for me, how to be a professional and how to be a man. He’s a role model for me and it goes way back, I’ve watched his career as a basketball player and as a coach, and it’s definitely an honor for me to play for him.”
Finley said his familiarity with the organization, from general manager Danny Ainge to coach Doc Rivers and players Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, made Boston a good fit for him. He said he had talks with another “championship” caliber team before deciding on the Celtics.
“I’ve talked to Doc and Danny, and coach was very honest with me, which I respect that he doesn’t know how he is going to use me,” Finley said. “I have to respect that. I am coming to a situation, where the team is already established. They have put in ‘X’ amount of games, so for me to come in and try to establish a role would be crazy for me to even think that. But coach has put me in a situation at ease, where he doesn’t know, I don’t know, just when my situation comes just go out there and play hard and do what I can to help the team be a better one. I think that I am able to do that.’
There’s also another practical matter for Finley, who turned 37 on Saturday, the day he landed ‘ literally ‘ in Boston.
“It gave me an opportunity to challenge for a title,” Finley said. “All those things combined with the over history of Boston just drew me here.”
Finley, who suffered what he called a severe ankle injury in December, said he’s ready to play and will wear the No. 40. Rivers held him out of Sunday’s game against the Wizards as he just arrived in Boston Saturday night.
Finley was also honest about his less-than-ideal situation in San Antonio, which precipitated his release last week.
‘This all happened within a week, a week or two span,” Finley admitted. “It was something that started as something little and I think it just erupted. I think both sides, myself and the Spurs organization, there was a mutual split. I have no hard feelings with them, it was just something they were willing to do, and I was man enough to be ready to make that move.
‘It was frustrating because of the situation I was in at San Antonio, but I think all players at my age and that have been in the league as long as I have experience that. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t finish something that I had in San Antonio because the role was something that I really didn’t agree with. But here, hopefully the situation will be different, but you never know, it may be the same. But I’m happy with my situation now and I’m definitely going to make the most of it.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|Larry Brown: Don’t panic, Boston||03.03.10 at 11:43 pm ET|
“They buried us two games,” Brown said after his team lost 104-80 Wednesday night. In Boston’s home opener on Oct. 28, the Celtics prevailed, 92-59.
“But I don’t buy all this stuff that they’re in trouble. They’ve had some injuries. They’re just starting to get healthy. They got some new players like [Marquis] Daniels and Nate [Robinson] now, Rasheed [Wallace]. They’re gonna be fine. They got a great coach, they got great chemistry. They’re gonna be fine. I think everybody has bad periods but when you put the injuries they faced, all that’s done is develop depth.”
[Click here to hear Larry Brown rave about the Celtics.]
Brown has heard the naysayers proclaim the Celtics aren’t going anywhere because they’re old, because they can’t win at home and because they’ve lost the fire of a champion. Paul Pierce came out on fire Wednesday, scoring 27 points, one point for each minute he played.
“They’re gonna be alright,” Brown continued. “They play like this, this is the way Paul Pierce plays. Garnett was phenomenal. But I just like all the little pieces they have because I think Danny [Ainge] has done a tremendous job putting them in a position where they can play with just about anybody.’
“I don’t think anyone could have played in that environment,” Brown added. “They played great, they made shots, they executed great. We played hard but there were too many obstacles. But they played great. One time I think they were 10 for 12 from three. They shot 60% in the first half. Shared the ball. There bench was great. There bench was great last night. So if we had played our best I don’t know if that would have been good enough.”
|Jackson: Pierce challenged my manhood||at 11:03 pm ET|
During the game, that vocal spirit apparently offended Charlotte’s Stephen Jackson.
Following Wednesday night’s blowout 104-80 win by the Celtics, Jackson took issue with trash-talking by the Celtics and Pierce in particular.
“It turned disrespectful when certain things were said,” Jackson said. “You can be emotional in the game and you talk to your teammates and do all that but when you get personal and direct certain things to people as far as their manhood, that’s when the problems come up. And I guarantee you that if I wasn’t in this gym, that wouldn’t have been said to me.”
Pierce and Jackson got into a verbal battle and were each called for technical fouls with 7:31 remaining in the third quarter as Jackson was preparing to shoot free throws
[Click here to listen to Stephen Jackson speak out against the Celtics.]
|Doc: ‘You’ve got to get your hands dirty’||03.01.10 at 4:46 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Following a day off Sunday to reflect on a stunningly bad performance in a 104-96 loss to the hapless Nets, Doc Rivers played the part of coach/philosopher/team psychologist on Monday at Celtics practice as his team prepared for Detroit on the road Tuesday night.
‘I would like it not to but this is basketball and these are teams,” Rivers said of a possible wake-up call courtesy the six-win Nets. “It happens. We’re not used to it happening here but it happens. I’m not going to overreact to it. I can tell you that. But we just need work on it and we need to see it. Sometimes you can see it on film, sometimes you can see it on the floor and sometimes you’ve got to get your butt whipped a couple of times before you realize it’s a problem. I’m hoping all of those are going to help us.’
The Celtics are 36-21, a half-game behind third-place Atlanta in the Eastern Conference. But a closer check of the standings reveals that only the Cavaliers appear clearly out of reach. The Celtics have just one more loss than second seed Orlando in the East and Denver in the West. Dallas, Boston, Utah and Atlanta all have 21 losses.
[Click here to listen to Doc Rivers break down what’s been bothering him and his team.]
‘We’re a game behind Denver, three or four behind the Lakers. As bad as we ‘so called’ have played, we’re still in the thick of things, and that’s what you want at this time because we haven’t played well. In some ways, maybe we’re lucky in that way that other teams have faltered in other places as well. But we have a lot of games to get it right and we’re going to have to do that.’
But Rivers did isolate one area that needs to improve. The Celtics are just 16-11 at home. Of the 13 teams in the NBA with more losses on their home court, only No. 8 Portland in the West would be a playoff team.
‘I don’t know why. Blame the wives.” Rivers joked before offering perspective. “It is troubling. Of all the things to me, even with the rebounding and everything, is how we have performed at home. If you ask me, the one thing that has bothered me more than anything is that because I don’t care what your injuries are, whatever, you should win at home. On the road, it becomes difficult. At home, you should win those games. And we haven’t.’
So, in short, the Celtics coach has the mother of all motivational jobs ahead of him, with a talented team that is clearly underachieving right now.
“It’s a great challenge,” he said. “Obviously, you would love it to be easy but if you want to do something special, I don’t think it’s ever going to be easy. You’ve got to get your hands dirty. You have to dive into it and see what you can come out with. It’s a good challenge. It really is.”
|Pierce on his return: ‘This is perfect timing’||at 2:05 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Paul Pierce practiced on Monday and said afterward he is ready to go for the team’s game in Detroit on Tuesday after missing the last three games with a sprained right thumb.
“I would have been back for the Cleveland game, please believe me, as much as I love to play against Cleveland, as much as I love to play against LeBron,” Pierce said. “I even went out there and shot before the Cleveland game because I wanted to be out there so bad. I don’t think I’m rushing back. I think this is perfect timing. My body feels good, my hand feels good and I’m ready to go.”
The Celtics won their first game without Pierce against New York last Tuesday before dropping home games to Cleveland and New Jersey.
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