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Doc: ‘Those are the basketball gods punishing you’ 02.27.10 at 5:34 pm ET
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Doc Rivers has been preaching to the Celtics all season long to avoid taking shortcuts on defense and to play with energy and purpose.

He warned that if they didn’t, eventually it would catch up to them.

Well, on Saturday ‘€” in a 104-96 stinker vs. the Nets ‘€” it didn’t just catch up to them, it barreled them over in stunning fashion on their home court in the form of a 5-52 team beating them soundly and thoroughly.

Perhaps most troubling from the final box score were the 41 free throws the Nets attempted, compared to a measly 11 for the Celtics.

Afterward, there was no hiding for the Celtics coach.

“Like I said before, I still believe in this team,” Rivers said. “I just know for a fact we’€™re not playing well. But I do believe in this team. But I don’€™t think you change just to change. I don’€™t think we need it. I think we need to change our approach and the way we play.

“And tonight you could see it early, even though [at the] beginning of the game we jumped out and after that you just ‘€” you know, we had that sense that ‘€˜we’€™ll get back into it.’€™ And you know what happened? They actually did try. I thought our guys gave a great effort in the second half, but then they started making shots, and then we’€™d have the defensive breakdown with three seconds on the shot clock over and over again. Every time we got it down to six or four, a guy would make a 3, a bobbled ball would go to it. I talk about it a lot with our guys: ‘Those are the basketball gods punishing you; you have no right to get back in this game. I thought all those little breaks went to them, and I thought the basketball gods were saying that they deserve to go to you.’ ‘€¦ If you believe in that.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, NBA, Nets
Third quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Nets at 2:55 pm ET
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The third quarter featured the first energy moment of the game.

With just one second remaining on the shot clock on an inbounds play, Rasheed Wallace caught and fired a three-at the basket that just missed.

Brian Scalabrine rebounded and fired to an open Nate Robinson, who drilled a three of his own with 1:35 remaining and the crowd came to its feet. Moments later on missed shot by New Jersey, Robinson came down and put pack a missed shot and the Celtics were within nine.

But the quarter ended on a sour note as Scalabrine airmailed a three and the Nets led, 74-64. The combination of Courtney Lee and Brook Lopez is killing the Celtics. They have a combined 44 points.

Read More: Celtics, NBA, Nets,
First Quarter Wrap: Celtics vs. Nets at 1:40 pm ET
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The Celtics stayed true to form racing out to a 12-2 lead. Unfortunately, their second-half form also came out when they allowed the 5-52 Nets to go on a 16-6 run to tie the game at 18.

Like Thursday night, the Celtics were on fire from the floor, shooting a blazing 11-for-16 to start the opening quarter and finishing 12-for-19. Kevin Garnett made all four of his shots and finished with eight points.

Devin Harris, who is second on the Nets in scoring at 16.5 points a game, nearly had that many in the opening period, netting 11, including all six free throws.

Nate Robinson saw his most significant playing time in the first quarter in his third game with the Celtics. He came in for Rajon Rondo and played eight of the 12 minutes and scored four points.

Keyon Dooling drilled a three just before the first-quarter buzzer to give Nets a 29-27 lead.

Read More: Celtics, NBA, Nets,
Kiki on his Nets: ‘We hung right in there’ 02.05.10 at 11:23 pm ET
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Nets head coach Kiki Vandeweghe addresses media after Celtics beat the Nets, 96-87, in Boston to drop his team to 4-45 on the season.

Read More: Celtics, NBA, Nets, Vandeweghe
Preview: Celtics vs. Nets at 9:35 am ET
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This, ladies and gentlemen, is the NBA version of the dreaded trap game. On the face of things, there is no conceivable reason why the Celtics should lose to the Nets. But when you factor in the absence of Paul Pierce, the nationally televised showdown with the Magic looming on Super Bowl Sunday and the fact that the All-Star beak is right around the corner, this is the kind of effort and focus game everyone has spent so much time talking about.

The Celtics are beginning to get on a nice little role. They’ve won two straight and should make it three against New Jersey. That would give them a chance to calm down all the rumors and innuendo, and there is nothing the veterans on this team like more than calm. A loss would bring all those distractions back into play.

NETS (4-44, 1-9 last 10)

Points Per Game: 90.0

Points Allowed: 101.7

Differential: -11.7 (30th)

Offensive Efficiency: 97.5 (30th)

Defensive Efficiency: 110.2 (27th)

Pace: 92.2 (17th)

Likely Starters: Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez

Injuries: None

CELTICS (31-16, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.3

Points Allowed: 93.8

Differential: +5.6 (3rd)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.8 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.8 (1st)

Pace: 91.5 (22nd)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Tony Allen Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (Thumb), Paul Pierce (Foot) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Nets, Preview,
Fast Break: Celtics-Nets 01.13.10 at 10:05 pm ET
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At times this season the Celtics have struggled against mediocre teams. Fortunately for them the Nets aren’t mediocre. They’re awful. It’s been a long time since epic Nets failures of the past like Dennis Hopson and Dave Feitl roamed what is now called the Izod Center. Time and the Jason Kidd era may have made people forget that stretch of futility, but this year’s Nets seem determined to outdo even the worst of those teams

The final score was 111-87 but in truth the Celtics could have named the number because the Nets clearly didn’t want to be there. At one point in the second quarter after Brook Lopez had rebounded a missed free throw, Rajon Rondo snuck around behind Lopez and literally ripped the ball from his hands. Lopez outweighs Rondo by almost 100 pounds.

The Celtics will take any kind of win they can get right now, but it can’t be minimized that the Nets were an embarrassment.

Player of the Game: Paul Pierce/Rajon Rondo (tie). There is no rule that says we can’t have co-players of the game and while Pierce was scoring 24 points, Rondo was dishing out 14 assists. Pierce exposed the Nets lack of interior defense early when he went to the basket and dunked while three Nets watched. Rondo simply ran the team perfectly, while also keeping his teammates from trying to get their scoring averages all at once.

Turning Point: The opening tip. The Nets had no chance in this game and to the Celtics credit, they didn’t give them any either. Early in the game Ray Allen went up for a jump shot and there wasn’t a New Jersey defender within five feet of him. It’s one thing to be devoid of talent, it’s another to not compete.

* The NBA sent a curious mixed message with their decision to fine Doc Rivers $25,000 and also rescind the Flagrant 1 foul on Glen Davis from Monday night’s game against the Hawks. In effect Rivers was fined for protesting a call the league later overruled.

* Speaking of Davis, he scored 13 points for the second straight game, which seems like a solid step in the right direction. But late in the game he was fouled hard by newest Net Kris Humphries and it appeared to bother his surgically-repaired thumb.

* Tony Allen threw down an incredible one-handed alley-oop dunk off a pass from Paul Pierce in which he appeared to start his leap from behind the basket.

* Brian Scalabrine had another strong game, scoring 11 points and adding four points and four rebounds. Scalabrine has had a difficult season but if he can build on these last two games he might be able to get back on the right track.

* Bill Walker finally got some playing time and played well in six minutes of mop-up action. There has been a small outcry for Walker to get more minutes but barring any type of injury situation it just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this season. The knee surgery he underwent in training camp set him back and he has now fallen behind J.R. Giddens in the young-player derby, which is a dubious honor since Giddens doesn’t play much either.

Read More: Celtics, Fast Break, Nets,
Preview: Celtics-Nets at 10:33 am ET
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In the aftermath of the loss to the Hawks Monday night, there were many conflicting emotions. Some players didn’t like how the game was called. Others expressed uncertainty about the was the team was handled once Doc Rivers was ejected. But one player refused to pay any of that any mind; Paul Pierce.

“We don’t make excuses,” Pierce said when asked about the officiating. When someone asked about four of the starters playing 40+ minutes, Pierce pointed out that the Hawks had done the same thing.

Pierce is the captain, and in pro sports the whole notion of the captain isn’t nearly as important as people like to think it is. But he is the public face of the franchise and the first person to respond to the media’s questions. In essence Pierce helps set the tone for how the press deals with the rest of the locker room. Pierce was stoic and measured in the face of adversity Monday night and added yet another layer to his leadership credentials.

CELTICS (26-10, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 100.7

Points Allowed: 93.8

Differential: +6.9 (First)

Offensive Efficiency: 109.1 (10th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.6 (Third)

Pace: 91.8 (21st)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Brian Scalabrine, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Kevin Garnett (hyper-extended knee), Rasheed Wallace (foot) Marquis Daniels (thumb)

NETS (3-34, 1-9 last 10)

Points Per Game: 89.8

Points Allowed: 101.1

Differential: -11.4 (30th)

Offensive Efficiency: 97.3 (30th)

Defensive Efficiency: 109.6 (22nd)

Pace: 92.3 (18th)

Likely Starters: Devin Harris (questionable, wrist), Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez

Injuries: Harris. Read the rest of this entry »

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