|Irish Coffee: Celtics going streaking!||12.15.10 at 1:20 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
It’s the year of the streak. The 2010-11 NBA season has already seen three teams pile up double-digit win streaks, and four others have won at least eight straight.
Four of those streaks have been snapped, and one more will end on Wednesday night, as the Celtics (winners of 10 straight) visit the Knicks (winners of eight straight). The Heat also put their nine-game win streak on the line Wednesday when they host the Cavaliers.
Just for fun, let’s rank those seven streaks in terms of level of difficulty, and then compare them to the 1971-72 Lakers’ all-time record of 33 consecutive victories:
- Streak: 12 games (snapped by Bucks, 103-99, on Dec. 13)
- Opponents’ win %: .505 (151-148)
- Opponents above .500: 6
- Average margin of victory: 8.3 points
- Number of 10-point victories: 5
- 2009-10 playoff teams beaten: 6
- Observation: This was truly remarkable, considering it included wins over the Thunder, Spurs, Heat and Jazz (twice).
- Streak: 12 games (snapped by Mavericks, 103-94, on Nov. 26)
- Opponents’ win %: .437 (128-165)
- Opponents above .500: 4
- Average margin of victory: 9.5 points
- Number of 10-point victories: 5
- 2009-10 playoff teams beaten: 6
- Observation: The fact that their streak was snapped by the Mavs makes the Dallas run that much more impressive.
- Streak: 9 games (ongoing)
- Opponents’ win %: .425 (93-126)
- Opponents above .500: 3
- Average margin of victory: 17.1 points
- Number of 10-point victories: 9
- 2009-10 playoff teams beaten: 4
- Observation: Not only have the Heat been winning, they’ve been blowing people out — even without Udonis Haslem.
- Streak: 10 games (ongoing)
- Opponents’ win %: .425 (104-141)
- Opponents above .500: 3
- Average margin of victory: 14.6 points
- Number of 10-point victories: 6
- 2009-10 playoff teams beaten: 6
- Observation: Not so impressive, considering they beat the Nuggets without Carmelo Anthony and Bulls without Carlos Boozer.
|Good news: Shaquille O’Neal and his ‘calf juices’ are improving||12.14.10 at 11:48 am ET|
WALTHAM — You’ve heard of getting your juices going to get into a game. Well, Shaquille O’Neal put a whole new twist on that approach Tuesday when asked to describe how’s he feeling after missing the last two games.
O’Neal said before Tuesday’s practice that his sore right calf is “getting better” and is optimistic that he will be ready for Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden against Amare Stoudemire and the New York Knicks. He worked out on the side and in the weight room but did not practice with the team.
“I’m doing better,” O’Neal said. “My calf juices are getting back up there. I’ll be alright.”
Doc Rivers said that he would see how O’Neal comes through Tuesday’s practice before making a determination on whether to play him Wednesday night against a revitalized Knicks team that has won eight straight and stands just four games behind the 19-4 Celtics in the Atlantic Division.
Semih Erden has filled in for O’Neal the last two games in the starting lineup.
WALTHAM — Paul Pierce has a home in the Boston area and attends sporting events in the off-season. So he knows full well of the rivalries between teams like the Yankees and Red Sox and the Patriots and Jets.
But ask him about the Celtics and Knicks? Well, as the song goes, that’s quite the different story.
Both teams may be on extended winning streaks and both teams may have rich basketball traditions but Celtics captain Pierce said Tuesday that doesn’t mean the Celtics and Knicks have revived the old rivalry between the two cities.
“It’s a rivalry? You [media] let me in on all the new stuff,” Pierce said. “I didn’t know we had a rivalry going.”
The Celtics enter Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden on a 10-game winning streak while the Knicks have won their last eight to stand just four games behind Boston in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.
“We have bigger goals than winning streaks,” Pierce said. “I didn’t know we had a rivalry going. If that’s what you all want, if it’s going sell more tix, get more viewers, I guess so. You [media] all make up the rivalry, we don’t, to be honest. At the end of the day, we’re playing for championships, not certain opponents.”
Big man Glen Davis will be one of the Celtics trying to contain the reinvigorated Knicks front court, led by Amare Stoudemire.
“I’m not worried about that, New York and Boston,” Davis said of any rivalry with the 16-9 Knicks. “That’s just the way it is. I’m worried about winning the game and worried about June, what’s going to happen in June. That’s what I’m worried about. I’m not even going to get into that. New York’s a great team. They’ve been playing well and trying to be where we’re at. It’s going to be a big game for them.’
|Fast Break: Celtics Rondo the Knicks||10.29.10 at 10:06 pm ET|
The best thing to happen to Doc Rivers Friday night was Rajon Rondo. Watching his All-Star point guard dissect the Knicks for a career-high 24 assists helped him forget about an ugly occurrence just hours earlier.
Before his team and Rondo beat the Knicks, 105-101, at TD Garden, he had to answer questions about an altercation between Delonte West and Von Wafer earlier in the day after a shootaround – an altercation that Rivers acknowledged by saying “There was a fight. I ‘m not real happy about it. We’ll deal with it.”
Wafer did play, albeit only three minutes off the bench, committing one foul and missing one shot from the floor.
The Celtics trailed by nine early as the Knicks came out shooting well but the Green recovered quickly and led 27-20 after the first. They didn’t trail again and led by as many as 12.
The Celtics are off until Tuesday when they play in Detroit.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
Rajon is Rondo-ing everyone right now: The point guard had a career 24 assists and is clearly the team leader. No one in an opposing uniform can seem to keep up with him in the half-court. About the only thing Rondo is doing wrong now is making passes that are so good, his teammates don’t always anticipate them, like Marquis Daniels midway through the fourth. Rondo’s 24 assists were the second-most in Celtics history, trailing only Bob Cousy’s 28. To put a cherry on the sundae, Rondo finished with a triple double, adding 10 points and 10 rebounds to his astronomical helper total.
Celtics dominated the paint: Thanks to the work of Rondo, the C’s went to the paint early and often and kept going there consistently throughout the game. They finished the game outscoring the Knicks, 54-38, in the paint. Glen Davis had 16 points off the bench, a huge contributor to the 54-point total.
Celtics found their shooting range: Paul Pierce shot 9-of-20 – including 4-of-6 from long distance – and finished with a team-high 25 points while Kevin Garnett made 12-of-17 from the floor and finished with 24. Shaquille O’Neal connected on 5-of-7, all from in close as the Celtics finished around the basket.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG
Still too many turnovers: Despite talking about the issue before the game, Doc Rivers had to sit on the bench and watch as his team committed another 18 turnovers. The Celtics have now committed 55 turnovers in their first three games. The turnovers were the biggest reason a team like the Knicks, who shot only 44 percent, were able to close to within two with 17.5 seconds remaining on an Amar’e Stoudemire three.
Celtics look their age coming out of the block: That has be a huge concern considering they are starting the season fresh. They are getting beat in two aspects of the game the Celtics of the last three seasons have dominated. They are getting beat on rotations, allowing the ball to find its way to the open shooter and too often they are getting beaten in transition. When Rajon Rondo is trailing on defense, you have a serious issue to address.
Big men are knicked up: With 5:11 left in the fourth, Shaquille O’Neal left for the locker room limping. Already without Jermaine O’Neal and Kendrick Perkins, the C’s can hardly afford to lose another big man or they run the risk of burning out Big Baby who looks as fresh as he has in his career. Shaq did not return to the game. He bruised his right knee when he banged into Stoudemire. He said after the game that he would be fine and not miss any time. Jermaine O’Neal meanwhile is day-to-day with swelling in his left knee, an ailment that cropped up after the loss in Cleveland.
|Lucky Luke Harangody active for the 1st time||at 7:25 pm ET|
After two sluggish games to start the season, Jermaine O’Neal – playing with torn cartilage in his left wrist – is getting the night off against the New York Knicks. Rookie Luke Harangody is active for the first time this season in three games.
O’Neal was just 1-for-5 in the first two games, scoring just three points. Harangody, drafted in the second round (52nd overall) last June out of Notre Dame, was named to the AirTran Airways All-Summer League first team after averaging 16.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in July.
|The NBA 30 on 30: Blogosphere Forecast (6 of 7)||10.26.10 at 1:14 pm ET|
NBA fans live a team’s ups and downs. They react to every draft pick, trade and free-agent signing. They debate the merits of the 15th man. They find significance in the most insignificant stats. They simply KNOW their team. So, too, do bloggers. That’s why we sought the opinion of the league’s best blogs — one for each of the 30 teams — to break down the team they cover and, of course, the Celtics.
ON THE NETS: I think the Nets are going to surprise some people this year and be a lot better than last year.
Not Oklahoma City Thunder good, but maybe eighth seed in the East good, which could still be below .500.
I think Brook Lopez is going to go a long way in establishing himself as an All-Star, and while I’m advocating being patient with Derrick Favors, I see him being used to lure a superstar over to New Jersey this season (Carmelo Anthony?).
ON THE CELTICS: The Celtics are clearly the class of the Atlantic Division this season, and they’re once again one of the favorites to be representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
With their age, I can see them hitting some ruts during the regular season, and of course all of their core guys have to be healthy for the playoff run, but the Celtics are one of the few teams out there that I think are capable of defensively shutting down Superfriends in Miami.
With that in mind, I’ll be rooting for them if/when their paths cross.
ON THE KNICKS: The Knicks will be improved, assuming Amar’e Stoudemire stays healthy.
They need the trio of Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chander and Anthony Randolph to make strides on both sides of the ball to get the most out of Mike D’Antoni‘s transition offense quarterbacked by Raymond Felton.
Of course, the Carmelo Anthony situation will continue to loom, and this is a pressure-packed season for the coach, seeing that his system has taken a tremendous hit with fans over the last two years.
They still have roster flexibility, and I expect them to land Anthony, but in the meantime they have to consistently win free-throw attempt battles and out-rebound their opponents. Those are two constants for playoff teams.
If they do that — and knock down their open jumpers — they’ll be a playoff team. If they don’t, it could be another lost season in the Big Apple.
ON THE CELTICS: I actually love what the Celtics did this offseason. To this day, I think they beat the Lakers if Kendrick Perkins doesn’t get hurt.
But they’ve loaded up the front line with size, and age, with both Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal, which is key because of the status of Perkins’ health — and it makes them deeper up front against the likes of Miami and Orlando.
The Celts owned the Magic last postseason because they chose to guard Dwight Howard 1-on-1 in the post, and it proved effective as he couldn’t kick out to open shooters. Perhaps more importantly, with the Big 3 in Miami, I believe the Heat are vulnerable up front. That’s the way to attack them.
If Rajon Rondo continues off his impressive playoff performance and the Celtics maintain health, then they should be right there in the end once again.
Off the floor, I love the addition of Lawrence Frank, one of the most prepared minds in the game today.
ON THE 76ERS: The Sixers had an up-and-down summer. New general manager Rod Thorn and head coach Doug Collins are both clear upgrades.
Sending Willie Green and Jason Smith out of town was a case of addition by subtraction.
Evan Turner is taking his lumps right now, but while he may not be scoring as much as we’d hoped, he’s producing in other areas and contributing while figuring out the difference between the Big Ten and the NBA.
I’d be feeling much better about the Sixers’ prospects if it wasn’t for the Samuel Dalembert trade. Ed Stefanski pulled the trigger on a deal that basically gutted the Sixers interior defense and defensive rebounding without a thought to who would fill that void.
To make matters worse, he took back the second year on Andres Nocioni‘s contract in the deal, which submarined the Sixers’ cap space for next summer. It was a horrible trade from every angle.
If the Dalembert trade hadn’t been made, I’d feel pretty confident in predicting a 10-15 game turnaround for this team and probably a trip to the playoffs in Colllins’ first season at the helm.
As things stand, however, the Sixers’ talented perimeter players won’t be able to cover for their feeble stable of bigs, and it’s a stretch to think they’ll win 35 games. If I had to make a prediction today, I’d say 30-52.
ON THE CELTICS: From the outside, looking in, the Celtics don’t look as strong as they did last season.
Their core is a year older, and the addition of Shaq is going to open some major holes in their defense.
That being said, they have a cakewalk through the Atlantic, and they’ll probably finish somewhere between the No. 2 and 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, depending on health.
If Kendrick Perkins comes back healthy in time for the playoffs, they could make a return trip to the Finals, but I think that’s a bit of a long shot.
ON THE RAPTORS: 26 wins.
The Raptors aren’t as bad as ESPN is making them out to be. They could be on par or better than teams like Philadelphia, Indiana, New Jersey, Detroit, Washington and New York, so there will be wins to be had.
The defensive effort has been solid in training camp, and if the Raptors can get consistent offensive production out of Andrea Bargnani and the Italian improves his defensive awareness, they have enough players who can play and carry the load.
Jarrett Jack, Linas Kleiza and Leandro Barbosa can complement the youth of DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson, but the question will be whether the Raptors can rely on their defense to keep them in games when their star-starved offense goes into a funk.
Last year, they were dead last in defensive rating. If they can become a middle-of-the-pack team, it could be a decent rebuilding year, but I don’t see the playoffs on the horizon.
ON THE CELTICS: The health of the two O’Neals and Kevin Garnett will dictate how the Celtics will fare.
The Raptors saw first-hand how volatile things can be with Jermaine O’Neal if he’s injured, and if you have to rely on Shaq giving you cover at center, then the Celtics could be in trouble in the postseason, much like they were when Perkins went down in the Finals.
From what I’ve seen of Rajon Rondo, he looks to have improved his outside game to the point where he can make a sagging defense pay.
Barring injury, I’d pick the Celtics to win 57 games but lose to the Bulls in the postseason (yes, I think the Bulls will be good) as Tom Thibodeau comes back to haunt you.
If injuries hit early, there will be a firesale.
Stay tuned for the final portion of this seven-part series: the Boston Celtics.
|Fast Break: Celtics – Knicks||03.17.10 at 8:55 pm ET|
The Celtics improved to 22-13 on St. Patrick’s Day with a 109-97 win over the Knicks on Wednesday in Boston.
Powered by 29 points from Paul Pierce, the Celtics led by as many as 27 in the third quarter. Kevin Garnett was right behind Pierce with 22 points and Marquis Daniels added 10 off the bench. Kendrick Perkins pulled down 12 rebounds while Rajon Rondo dished as many assists.
Davis Lee led the Knicks with 29 points. Former Celtics Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens 8 and 4, respectively.
Player of the Game: Paul Pierce scored 16 of his 29 points in the third quarter alone. It was Pierce’s highest game total since scoring 35 against the Hawks on January 29. He finished the night shooting 11-for-17 FG, 3-for-6 3PG, and 4-for-5 FT.
Turning Point: The Celtics accumulated a double-digit lead six minutes into the game. They led 35-19 after the first quarter, and that was with Pierce going scoreless in just 1:51 (he was sidelined with two fouls).
- The Celtics first five field goals came in the paint. They outscored the Knicks 56-44 in the paint overall.
- The last time Kendrick Perkins grabbed more than 10 rebounds was February 18 against the Lakers (14). It is only the second time since the All-Star Break that he has reached double-digits in boards.
- J.R. Giddens played his first game since undergoing knee surgery six weeks ago. It was his first game in a Knicks uniform and the first time he played at TD Garden since January 18 (as a member of the Celtics).
- Nate Robinson scored 8 points in 21 minutes against his former team.
- The Celtics improved to 12-2 in the Atlantic Division. They are now 7-1 at home on Wednesdays.