|Doc: ‘It’s a big game for them, too’||03.14.10 at 10:50 am ET|
“I think we’ll come in and play terrific,” Rivers said. “But we just have to play hard. There’s no guarantees. But listen, it’s a big game for them, too. It ain’t just one way. I always laugh when I hear guys say it’s a must win. But what if it’s a must-win for both teams? Someone’s not going to win.”
The Celtics (41-23) are coming off a 19-point win over Indiana on Friday night at home and trail third-place Atlanta by a half-game in the East. Meanwhile the Cavs come in with a 51-15 record, and lead the Lakers by three games for the best mark in the NBA.
LeBron James is playing his second game back from a sprained right ankle.
“It would be great, though,” Rivers said of a win in Cleveland. “I think our team is looking forward to it,” Rivers said. “And I guarantee you they’re looking forward to it. There’s no coincidence that LeBron James rested two games and came back. That’s not a coincidence but that’s fine.”
The Cavs will be without Shaquille O’Neal, likely out for the rest of the regular season following surgery on his right thumb, injured the last time the two teams met when Glen Davis went up to block an O’Neal shot. On Sunday, Davis denied hurting O’Neal intentionally during their Feb. 25 meeting.
‘They’re playing the same guys, really. They haven’t changed their offense or anything. They’re quicker, faster, more athletic.”
The Celtics are visiting Cleveland for the first time since Oct. 27, when they claimed a 96-89 win over the Cavs on opening night.
|Third quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Pacers||03.12.10 at 9:27 pm ET|
There was no let up in the Celtics in the third quarter on this night. The Celtics led 67-47 at the break and expanded their lead to as many as 25 in the third quarter, taking a 98-78 lead into the final 12 minutes.
Paul Pierce had another seven points in the quarter and leads the Celtics with 20 while Rajon Rondo has 16 points and 11 assists. Former Georgetown star Roy Hibbert is marking his alma mater’s 23-point thrashing of Marquette in the Big East Tournament with a big night. He has 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field to lead Indiana.
The entire second unit, which began the Celtics’ roll on this night late in the first quarter, finished out the third with Michael Finley, Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson looking like a smooth functioning unit.
This is the type of rest Doc Rivers would like to give his starters. Up 20 points and cruising late in the second half.
|Doc on Pierce, KG: C’s need them at ‘their peak’||at 8:13 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he is thinking of sitting Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, having them miss games and practice more to help them find their rhythm and conditioning as the playoffs approach.
“If that means working more in practice and missing games, then that’s what we have to do,” Rivers said. “Let’s just be honest, if they’re not at their peak, it’s going to be very tough for us to do anything. We have to have them playing at their peak.”
Pierce has been recovering from an injured left foot, while Garnett has continued to deal with his injured right knee. Yet both players indicated a strong desire following Friday’s game to continue playing and not occasionally sit out games along the lines of what Rivers suggested.
‘I’m not really feeling that idea, but hey, this is the ‘Doc Rivers Show’ and we are just guests on it,” Garnett said. “So whatever he feels is best, you know Paul and I, I think I speak for both of us we don’t really feel that.”
|Hollins: C’s still ‘one of top 3 in East’||03.11.10 at 1:16 am ET|
Coming into Wednesday’s game, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins wasn’t about to let his suffer the same fate as the Washington Wizards on Sunday night.
After his team blew a 13-point lead in the final six minutes, only to lose to Boston, 86-83, Wizards coach Flip Saunders said his team relieved itself collectively down its leg.
Hollins knew with his young, energetic team well rested in Boston while the Celtics were battling Milwaukee half a continent away 24 hours earlier, his team would have a decided advantage and likely jump out to a quick, big lead.
Hollins was prophetic. The Grizzlies raced out to a 27-12 lead after one and 55-33 at halftime.
And when the Celtics rallied to get within 12 in the third quarter he reminded his team what was at stake during a succession of timeouts.
‘I was telling them to keep being aggressive,” Hollins said. “I watched the Washington Wizards come in here the other noght and literally beat the Celtics up for three and half quarters and then quit playing and the Celtics came back and won the game.
“I told them whatever happens, whatever run, we’ll call timeout and try to stem the run but when we go back out there we’re gonna be aggressive. We kept throwing the ball up the court and attacking the. We had two or three quick 1-2 passes then a layup after they scored which kind of took the start to them and also took the crowd out of the game.’
While a respectable 34-31, the Grizzlies are still on the outside looking in, trying to catch Portland for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“It’s a big win, and we’re happy with the win, but we know we caught the Celtics on a down night,” Hollins said. “They played back to back, had to travel home, had a tough game [Tuesday] night in Milwaukee. They’re still, in my mind, one of the top three teams in the East and they’re going to show that as they go forward into the playoffs. But we’re just happy to get a win and we’re excited to have 34 wins and be three games over .500.
‘We talked about making some noise, we beat a lot of good teams during the course of this season and this the first big road win though against one of the top teams in the league and we caught a break so that helped us but we’ll take it. That’s the way the NBA is and that just takes us further and closer to our goal.’
|Third quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Grizzlies||03.10.10 at 9:28 pm ET|
The best thing the Celtics can say about the third quarter is they scored 30 points after scoring just 33 the previous 24 minutes. The problem is they’re not stopping Memphis, who maintained their comfortable lead at 82-63 heading into the fourth.
Earlier in the quarter, the Celtics went on a 9-0 run to cut the Memphis lead from 21 to 12 but the Celtics could get no closer.
The Celtics are still getting hammered on the glass (40-23) while shooting only marginally better in the third quarter, raising their percentage to 42 for the game.
Rondo had seven points in the quarter and leads the Green with 16. A pair of former UConn Huskies are making their presence known. Rudy Gay has a game-high 17 after three and Marcus Williams hit a key 3-pointer and leads the Grizzlies bench with 10.
|Second quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Grizzlies||at 8:45 pm ET|
The Celtics continued to play like a team that was exhausted from playing halfway across the country 24 hours earlier. The TD Garden didn’t take any sympathy on them, as they showered them with boos coming off the court.
Memphis took a 55-33 lead to the locker room, matching their largest advantage of the game. One fan even urged Kevin Garnett to “Wake up!” as Garnett missed all three shots and finished with no points in 16 minutes. But that plea could go for the entire team, which allowed Memphis to make 53.3 percent of their shots while shooting just 39 percent themselves.
But in a game where the younger Grizzlies are clearly showing their superior energy, the biggest margin is on the glass where Memphis is doubling up Boston, 28-14.
The 33 points is a low for the Celtics in the first half this season and the 22-point hole is their biggest at halftime this season.
As the Celtics continued to struggle, looking for any spark at all, coach Doc Rivers stayed with his second unit for the first six minutes of the second quarter.
|Pacquiao fights for the Celtics||at 7:15 pm ET|
Prior to Wednesday’s game with Memphis, many of the Celtics had a special motivational gift waiting for them in their lockers.
Manny Pacquiao, widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, sent several red autographed boxing gloves to the Celtics as a measure of gratitude for being bestowed an honorary member of the Celtics, according to Phillipines news report.
“There’s no message, no message,” insisted Celtics coach Doc Rivers before Wednesday’s game.
“It honestly wasn’t from me,” Rivers added. “Pacquiao is obviously a huge Celtics fan and he tried to get to our walk-through in the hotel ballroom before we played the Lakers [in Los Angeles] so he just sent that to us. That’s nice. It’s a good gesture.”
Asked if he hopes his players make use of the gloves, Rivers quipped, “No, not on each other.”
The relationship between Pacquiao and the Celtics grew closer in 2008 when Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo watched him capture the World Boxing Council lightweight title from David Diaz and then congratulated him afterward.
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