|Fast Break: Celtics slow down the Pacers||03.16.11 at 10:05 pm ET|
Paul Pierce and Jeff Green combined for 39 points, and the Celtics’ defense held the Pacers to 37.5 percent shooting in a 92-80 victory Wednesday night at the TD Garden. The Celtics (48-18), who had lost three out of four entering Wednesday night’s game, pulled even with the idle Bulls atop the Eastern Conference.
The ACC combo of Josh McRoberts and Tyler Hansbrough combined for 24 points and 22 rebounds in defeat for the Pacers (29-39), who dropped to a tie – for the time being – with the Bobcats for the eighth playoff spot.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Defense: As Sports Illustrated’s Zach Lowe noted, with the exception of holding the Bucks to a record-low 56 points, the Celtics’ defense hasn’t exactly been the shutdown brand the team’s made their bones on since The Trade.
Well, Wednesday may have been a step in the right direction, as the Celtics held the Pacers to 20 points in each of the four quarters. Through the first nine minutes of the second quarter — when they started a lineup of Green, Glen Davis, Troy Murphy, Delonte West and Carlos Arroyo – the Celtics held the Pacers to just nine points and established the lead.
Green, in particular, did a nice job on Danny Granger.
Beyond the Arc: While the Celtics shot just 15-of-35 (42.9 percent) in the first half, their 3-point shooting (5-of-8 for 62.5 percent) saved them a bit in the opening 24 minutes. Specifically, two Ray Allen treys sandwiched around a Pierce triple helped the C’s turn a 33-29 lead into a 42-31 advantage in the span of 58 seconds. They finished 6-of-10 from 3-point range.
The Thunder, up and under: Green and Nenad Krstic combined for 30 points and 10 rebounds. In fact, through the first 20 minutes of the game, Green had more points than the rest of his C’s teammates combined. At halftime, Green led the Celtics in scoring, and Krstic led them in rebounding.
Even Troy Murphy got in on the action, scoring six points on perfect shooting from the field (2-for-2) and free-throw line (2-for-2). Perhaps it was the St. Patrick’s Day luck of the Irish.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Attacking the glass: Celtics head coach Doc Rivers told reporters that Shaquille O’Neal had been doing some shooting — a sign that his return could be imminent — and the news couldn’t come at a better time. The C’s got outworked on the glass by the Pacers, who owned a 49-36 rebounding advantage (including a 19-7 edge in offensive boards).
Offensive flow: The Celtics’ offensive sets looked ugly in the first quarter, almost as if the C’s had gotten a headstart on the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Allen didn’t even attempt a shot in the opening 12 minutes, and the Celtics scored just 15 points on 7-of-17 shooting in an ugly start to the game.
The curious case of Rajon Rondo: He looked as if he’d risen from the slump that’s plagued him over the last couple weeks, but his production still was perplexing for a player who’s capable of so much more. Here’s his line: 0 points, 0 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals 2 turnovers and 1 block.
And while Delonte West made his re-re-re-debut with the Celtics, he and Carlos Arroyo did little to help Rondo on the point guard front.
|What it means to have Nutty Professor Glen Davis back||03.14.11 at 9:12 am ET|
Glen Davis looked the part of a teacher at an institute of higher learning following his return to the Celtics Sunday night after a four-game absence.
And while it was only a four-games, the Celtics could feel the loss of their nutty professor in their lineup. They beat Golden State and Milwaukee but fell very flat against the Clippers and Sixers. As a matter of fact, one could easily make the argument that he is the single-most important bench player of any of the favored teams to win the NBA title.
The Lakers, Spurs, Mavericks, Bulls and Heat all have star-studded players among their starting five but none of them have Big Baby. He can come off the bench and provide an instant jolt of energy to the reserves and this is precisely why Doc Rivers wants to keep him coming off the bench come April, May and hopefully, June.
But Sunday, it was all about getting acquainted with some players he’d never played with or had just seen in practice. There was no more ‘Shrek-ing’ with Nate Robinson. He has been replaced with Carlos Arroyo. Davis has played just three games with the troika of Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy.
“First half, I felt a little weird a little bit,” Davis said. “I didn’t remember anybody on the team. Nate? Carlos?”
And what about that No. 77, Sasha Pavlovic? Davis was wondering how to pronounce his name, let alone learn his game.
“I knew his name but I couldn’t pronounce it so I didn’t call him anything,” Davis said. “Just, ‘What’s up?’ and ‘hey.’”
Sunday night was clearly an example of shaking off the rust as he played just 18 minutes, going 3-for-6 from the floor with seven rebounds and nine points, with all nine coming in the fourth quarter.
“I saw a guy that needs to run more,” Rivers said. “He did well. He played with a lot of patience offensively and he let the ball come to him instead of hunting it down and that’s how we should play all the time. He just needs the minutes. He was starting to get his legs. I asked him how he felt and he said he felt great, except he can’t feel his lungs anymore.”
He missed a lay-up 90 seconds into the fourth as he had flashbacks to the Heat game on Feb. 13 when he went up on the wrong foot and missed a dunk. This time he missed the layup but 90 seconds later he was pounded by Jon Brockman and finally felt like he was back. More importantly, his knee felt OK with the contact.
“I was kind of trying to feeling it out,” Davis said. “I felt it a little bit more when I missed my first layup I was like, ‘Oh!’ I was trying to jump. I felt it but I didn’t feel it. But then when Brockman hit me, I felt like, ‘OK, you’re back.’”
No one means more to their bench than Glen Davis to the Celtics and here’s why:
First, after Krstic, the Celtics – as Rivers was all too willing to point out – had really no one to play the center position. Read the rest of this entry »
When Keyon Dooling missed a pair of free throws with 22 seconds left, the Celtics had themselves a brand new franchise record for fewest points allowed in a game.
No team in the shot clock era had ever scored a few as the 56 points the Bucks managed Sunday night in an 87-56 Celtics’ win.
But the Celtics weren’t exactly popping champagne corks afterward.
Asked if he were aware of the new record his team just set, Paul Pierce quipped, “No, I didn’t have my NBA record book on the bench with me tonight so I didn’t realize.”
To Pierce and the rest of the Celtics, Sunday night was more about getting back to 48 minutes of quality defensive basketball and not suffering breakdowns and let downs in communication following losses to the Clippers and Sixers.
“It was definitely encouraging just to put together a four-quarter game of defense,” Pierce said. “I definitely thought we did that tonight. Especially when we are integrating a lot of new players, coming back home after coming off of two losses, it was just to get back comfortable in our building and play the type of defense that we like to play.”
Doc Rivers looked at it a different way. He saw the schedule and took into consideration the hour lost due to daylight savings time and the travel the Bucks went through to get to Boston to play a 6 p.m. game less than 24 hours after beating the Sixers at home.
“No, honestly, did we set a record? I didn’t know that,” Rivers said. “I really thought this was one of those schedule losses for Milwaukee. I just thought this was very similar to the game we had against Phoenix where you play a game and you lose an hour going backwards and then they lost another hour with the time change, and then we started the game at 6:00.
“So, I just thought – you looked at the schedule – I was concerned early in the game because we were up 10 and we were blowing layups; we were missing a lot of shots. You could see they were tired. So, we took advantage of that and that was great, but a lot of it had to do with their schedule.”
So, to be honest about it, Rivers said it’s great to win a game by 31 but he’s not about to draw any long-range conclusions about the quality of his team or how well his team got the message of toughening up in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense was good, but we don’t know how good our defense was tonight, even though – I would say our effort was phenomenal. And that’s all we talked about, we’re trying to sustain effort loner defensively and get back to doing that. Now that we’re starting to get – we have one body back. Hopefully Delonte (West) is back, not tomorrow but the game after that. So you know, it’s what we need to do.”
|Nenad Krstic: I’m lost a little because ‘Oklahoma is still in my head’||03.10.11 at 12:43 pm ET|
Nenad Krstic had a season-high 20 points in 38 minutes but he admitted afterward he wasn’t satisfied with his defense in a 108-103 loss to the Clippers at TD Garden.
Krstic and the Celtics had tremendous difficulty early on stopping DeAndre Jordan and the rest of the Clippers front court, which scored early and often en route to shooting 68 percent in the first half and building a 60-42 halftime lead.
Krstic came to Boston on deadline day, Feb. 24 with Jeff Green in exchange for the defensive-minded Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson. Krstic is still trying to get accustomed to thinking the Celtics’ way – which begins and ends with defense.
“I just need to get better, need to be more focused,” Krstic said. “Sometimes, I’m a lost a little bit because of a different style of playing. Oklahoma is still in my head. I’m just really trying to get adjusted. It just takes time, especially when you play games. It’s different in practice but in games you just have to react.
“It’s going to come. I just need to get used to more of the guys. Sometimes, I’m trying to do too much, over help and have a couple of stupid fouls, too. I know I scored 20 points but I need to focus on my defense and help the team.”
Doc Rivers still has confidence in his new starting center.
“Krstic overall is playing pretty well,” Rivers said. “He’s got to hold his ground a little bit. The problem we had going into the game, and I’m kind of kicking myself, is I told our bigs — the two bigs that we have right now due to all the injuries — you can’t get in foul trouble. “So if it comes down to you getting out of the way, you almost had to. Because we couldn’t afford Kevin [Garnett] or Nenad in foul trouble.
“And it actually happened anyway.”
Krstic said he’s confident the defensive part of his game will come but it will take time.
“Just not having been on the court at the same time together is the problem,” Krstic said of the chemistry with his new teammates. “Sometimes, especially in the first half, our second unit is almost all new guys, and we’re not used to each other. I think that was a problem tonight, we just haven’t spent too much time together playing. It’s going to take some time, but obviously with this team, we pick it up really quickly.”
It would seem after his bench was outscored, 26-12, in a 108-103 loss to the Clippers Wednesday night at TD Garden, Doc Rivers would have laid blame for the defeat at the hands of his reserves.
But Rivers also realizes that the Celtics dressed just five players Wednesday who were with the team before the Feb. 24 trade deadline, and one of those five was Avery Bradley.
It’s a lot to ask any second unit to make up a 15-to-20 deficit in a game, let alone one that was making its debut. So, the way Rivers saw it, this loss really was at the feet of his “Big 4″ – namely Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
“I was concerned because in the first quarter, our four starters put us in a hole and then you needed to sub, and you knew nothing good was going to happen,” Rivers said, as his team fell behind by as much as 15 in the first quarter and 23 early in the third.
“It actually [wasn't bad]. They held their ground,” Rivers said of his reserves, led by Carlos Arroyo and new starting center Nenad Krstic. “The problem was it was a 20-point ground [deficit] they were holding and that’s very difficult.
“We sub anyway. We sit guys down regardless of score. Obviously, we were down 20 and we’re subbing. It’s not something you want to do but you have to.”
Pierce couldn’t argue.
“It’s tough when you get out to bad starts and a lot of that has to do with the starters. How we come out at the beginning of the games, we’ve got to come out with a better focus,” Pierce said. “Once you get a team confidence like the Clippers then they feed off that for the rest of the game and were able to get the win.”
Pierce did point to the defensive struggles of the second unit but only as far as they had to pick up the pieces from the starters not playing defense, either.
“I think some of it is the second unit, but a lot of that was at the start of the game with the first five so no excuses on that point,” Pierce said. “They came out and shot 70 percent and a lot of that was against the guys that know what we are doing night in and night out.
“You give some leeway to the newer guys, but there is no excuse to the way we started out giving them the big lead and then having to fight all the way to get back into the game.”
The reserves did a very respectable job on Blake Griffin, who had just 12 points in 37 minutes. Down 23, the Celtics slowly started to chip away, outscoring the Clippers, 24-16 in the third to cut the lead to 10.
Then the starters finally did their thing. Allen drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing on a bullet pass from Rondo with 7:36 left to draw the Celtics within six, 86-80. Garnett’s jumper with just under six minutes left capped a 15-2 run to draw the Celtics within three.
But Mo Williams drained three free throws with 5:23 left to restore the lead to six. Jeff Green drilled a trey with 47.4 seconds left to get within four, 104-100. Allen’s three with 10.5 seconds left turned out to be too little, too late.
The Celtics will try to regroup and start a new winning streak on Friday against the upstart 76ers in Philadelphia. The Sixers are making a late-season push to finish in the middle of the playoff pack in the Eastern Conference and are one of the hottest teams in the NBA since the All-Star break.
Friday would be a great time for a new start for the “Big 4.”
|Glen Davis on the new guys: ‘They’ve got to adjust to the Celtics way’||03.08.11 at 6:24 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Turns out there’s a method to Glen Davis‘ apparent madness – or at least his sometimes goofy behavior.
He just wants to let all the new players acquired in the last two weeks know that they’re part of the family now. And talking and playing around with them in practice is just his way of getting to know them.
“Basketball is basketball,” Davis began. “I play the Celtics way. They’ve got to adjust to the Celtics way. I don’t have any worries or anything like that but just getting the feel for each player. I’m going to have to do that. That’s why I try to interact with everybody, see who they are as people and hope that when I get back on the court have that translate into basketball terminology on the court.”
As for that problematic left knee, Davis said the patellar tendinitis is getting better and better but he’s still limited.
“Just watching a lot of film, trying to drop some lbs before the playoffs start so I can be out there jumping like a jack rabbit,” Davis quipped.
While he can watch film and shadow box with Paul Pierce – as he did after practice Tuesday, what is he not allowed to do while he’s waiting to get cleared for practice?
“Just a lot of up and down, a lot of jumping, things like that,” Davis said. “I’m not doing any jumping or any shooting or anything like that. I’ll try to do that in the next couple of days.
“I’m going to practice soon, I don’t know when but soon, whenever they let me.”
Davis was then asked the classic, ‘Would this injury keep you out of the playoffs?’ question.
“Oh, no way,” he answered without hesitation. “It’s the playoffs. I could play with that. It’s only for a couple of weeks, right? I’ve been playing with this for the whole season so far, half the year. A couple of weeks isn’t going to hurt. As long as I don’t get to the point where I can’t walk, perform or play.”
WALTHAM — After sounding hopeful on Saturday that Delonte West would return Wednesday against the Clippers, Doc Rivers ruled that possiblity out following practice on Tuesday. West has missed the last four games with a sprained right ankle and was limited to working out on an exercise bicycle Tuesday while the team held an open practice.
“He’s not going to play [Wednesday],” “I think he’s doubtful for Friday, as well. We’re hoping Sunday.”
Meanwhile, Von Wafer is also battling leg issues and Rivers said his back-up guard, injured against Golden State last Friday, is out indefinitely. “Von is going to miss a while. He’s nowhere close to coming back,” Rivers said.
There was some good news as Rivers sounded much more hopeful with regard to Glen Davis, who is battling left knee soreness. The power forward has missed the last two games with patellar tendinitis.
“Baby said he felt great today but we’re going to hold him out for the next two games, for sure,” Rivers said.
The Celtics play the Clippers at TD Garden Wednesday night before traveling to Philadelphia for a Friday night game with the 76ers. They host Milwaukee on Sunday night.
Also, Carlos Arroyo participated in his first practice Tuesday with the Celtics after being signed to a veteran minimum pro-rated contract for the remainder of the season over the weekend. Arroyo is expected to be available on Wednesday night when the Celtics play the Clippers.
“He played against us in two playoff series. He should know some of our stuff. That’s the way we look at it. But he’s a point guard, been a point guard all his life. So I think some of the stuff, he’ll pick up pretty quickly. All the nuances of things, that’ll just take time,” Rivers said.
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