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Are the Celtics in trouble? 01.06.09 at 9:45 pm ET
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The Boston Celtics knew there would be a target on their backs this season. But the threats sounded empty after winning 19 straight and blowing out their opponents in embarrassing fashion. Eventually, though, the rest of the league began to fight back. The Los Angeles Lakers were the first to take a stand. The Golden State Warriors followed suit and soon the Portland Trail Blazers, New York Knicks and Charlotte Bobcats wanted in. (CLICK HERE for a recap of Tuesday’s loss to the Bobcats.)

For every game the Celtics win, there is an opponent circling their next meeting. The problem is, the Celtics can’t mark every game as their biggest and defending their title is taking a toll on them. They are 2-5 since losing to the Lakers on Christmas Day and holes in the roster are being exposed. The once unstoppable Rajon Rondo has been contained by big men. The bench that was supposed to compensate for the loss of James Posey has blown numerous leads. Final minutes that used to be garbage time are now seconds of desperation.

December 25, 2008: Lakers 92, Celtics 83

The Celtics made the Lakers look soft last season during the NBA Finals. The Lakers got payback by snapping the Celtics’ 19-game winning streak on Christmas Day, challenging the Celtics to test them again for the title. Phil Jackson inspired other coaches to put their bigs on Rondo, which stifled the Cs soaring offense.

December 26, 2008: Warriors 99, Celtics 89

The Warriors kicked the Celtics while they were down and handed them their second consecutive loss of the season in Oakland. It was a rude awakening that offered a reminder that, no matter what kind of advantage the Celtics have on paper, stats can’t compensate for the motivation of their opponents.

December 30, 2008: Trail Blazers 91, Celtics 86

The Brandon Roy-less Trail Blazers forced the Celtics to make bad plays and dealt Boston its first loss in Portland in four years. The Celtics were outrebounded by 15 in a sloppy defensive effort.

January 4, 2009: Knicks 100, Celtics 88

Thirty points from Al Harrington served as a reminder to the Cs of what a deep bench can do for you. The Celtics were simply outhustled and there was no secret who wanted this win more.

January 6, 2009: Bobcats 114, Celtics 106 (OT)

The Celtics practically welcomed the Bobcats into the paint with open arms early on to jumpstart this loss. They forced far too many shots from long range (6-23 3PG) and did not hit enough from the line (22-30 FT). This game affirmed the concern that the Celtics have work to do.

As long as the Celtics wear the rings, they will also wear a target. It is an inevitable struggle they will have to overcome if they want to face the same curse next season.

Read More: Al Harrington, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Kevin Garnett
No More Drama for Crawford 11.27.08 at 1:04 am ET
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When Jamal Crawford faced the Boston Celtics two weeks ago as a member of the New York Knicks, the game was filled with heated tension and hostility. That wasn’t the case with the Golden State Warriors. While Wednesday’s back-and-forth game was a battle, it was simply good basketball in his opinion.  Crawford could hardly hide his excitement for playing with his new team.

‘€œIt was a lot more fun because with the Knicks, for whatever reason, we always get into it with the Celtics,’€ Crawford said with a smile from ear-to-ear following the Warriors 119-111 loss. ‘€œBut here it’s just fun, we just play, it’s competitive. I thought our young guys came to play tonight. After playing kind of lackluster last night, all of us bounced back and had a chance to win against one of the best teams in the NBA.’€

Crawford can look forward to another match up against the Celtics when they come to town on December 26 as part of their four-game West Coast road trip.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Jamal Crawford, New York Knicks
Sounds of the game… Celtics 110, Knicks 101 11.18.08 at 9:28 pm ET
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And let it begin. Quentin Richardson against the world, or at least the world champion Boston Celtics.

He didn’t hold back following Tuesday’s loss in Boston. He accused the Celtics of throwing their title, their rings and everything else in his face in the form of trash talk.

What could turn out to be a facsinating storyline if the Knicks remain relevant throughout the season evolved Tuesday night into a backyard brawl. Just listen to ‘Q’ explain his side of the story.

Richardson said the Celtics were trash talking.

Tensions flared in the second quarter when Richardson actually played peace-maker, separating his teammate Zach Randolph from Leon Powe under the Knicks basket as the two began to get into it.

Richardson said if this weren’t a basketball court, things would be different.

Paul Pierce on all the trash talk going on.

Celtics center Kendrick Perkins said ‘Q’ has it all wrong.

One thing is for sure, our Jessica Camerato doesn’t have it wrong. She has as terrific look back at last year, showing that this isn’t the first time Richardson has popped off in Boston’s direction. Check out that and more on the Celtics Game Day Blog.

Oh by the way, the stars of the game did have something to say about how the Celtics managed to win without Kevin Garnett.

Perkins said there was no replacing Kevin Garnett on Tuesday.

Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said he takes comfort in outplaying Celtics in the fourth quarter.

Doc Rivers on the win without KG.

Paul Pierce said they didn’t feel extra pressure without the Big Ticket.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Leon Powe, New York Knicks
Celtics-Knicks Game Blog: Second Quarter at 6:11 pm ET
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Trailing 35-32 with eight minutes left in the second quarter, the Celtics outscored the Knicks 25-12 to take a 56-47 lead at the half.

The quarter was anything but calm with runs, drives, hard fouls, and even a scuffle at the hoop …

- It’s ironic that I talked to Leon Powe before the game about what KG has taught him about maintaining his composure in heated game situations. Powe and Randolph were just given technical fouls for a tussle under the Knicks basket. The two had to be separated by their teammates and have been exchanging frozen stares at each other down the court. Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck was spotted giving the “eject him” sign to the refs. “He always talks to us about that, especially me, just about keeping my composure even when i’m mad and if I want to go back at somebody, you go back at somebody by taking your time and really doing it in the game and the team concepts,” Powe said of Garnett. Hmm …

- There is a life-sized Nutracker walking around the Garden. The costume is part of the Boston Ballet’s halftime performance, but for those who are unaware of the entertainment, it just looks creepy.

- Timeout with six minutes to go and the Celtics second unit has taken over with a 45-37 lead. So far they have knocked the Knicks down to 44% field goal shooting while boosting their own to nearly 70%. The reserves are playing with a fiery intensity that has Pierce clapping and encouraging them in the huddle.

- Two smart moves by Tony Allen: the first, an aggressive drive to the basket that he finished off with a layup and the second, a drive and dish to Big Baby for the jumper that he’s been perfecting.

- The question tonight was, who will make up for Garnett? While KG is irreplacebale, it’s Powe who is stepping up in the post. He has eight points in eight minutes of play and he could easily wind up with 15 tonight.

- Rivers has Ray Allen playing with the second unit (Eddie House, Tony Allen, Glen Davis, Leon Powe). They give up a lot of size with this lineup but are going for defensive stops. It also helps the Celtics that the Knicks leading scorers, Quentin Richardson and Wilson Chandler, are taking a breather.

- The Celtics looked like they had control early on but enter the second quarter allowing the Knicks to shoot 52% from the field. Seven turnovers haven’t helped the Cs either. Let’s see what they can do …

At the start of the second quarter … Knicks 28, Celtics 26

… Paul brings you the action for the third …

Read More: Big Baby, Boston Celtics, eddie house, Glen Davis
Pregame: Scal to Start against Knicks at 5:12 pm ET
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Brian Scalabrine will get the start on Tuesday night against the New York Knicks in place of the suspended Kevin Garnett. Doc Rivers went with Scal to keep in second unit in tact. This will be just the 51st start of Scal’s eight-year career and 28th with the Celtics.

Garnett’s suspension was the hot topic before the game for both teams. Rivers cited Shaquille O’Neal’s recent fine in comparison to Garnett’s punishment. “I was just surprised. I’m not going to get into this long because I thought it was a ridiculous suspension. I really did,” he said. Rivers also pointed out that KG isn’t even allowed in the building tonight.

Inside the Celtics locker room Garnett’s teammates were cautious when giving their opinion of the ruling.

“Ya’ll want me to say something bad, huh?” Kendrick Perkins said with a smile before adding, “I don’t know, it’s kind of crazy. But you know it’s something we’ve got to deal with. I think he’s handling it well but what can we do about it?”

Said Leon Powe,  “Well I can’t really say but, you know, I wouldn’t have suspended him for that. But it’s the league and there are rules so whatever they decide, we’ve got to roll with. So now we’ve got to go out there with KG but we’ve got to still be a team and we’ve still got to go out there and fight and play together.”

As for the Knicks, they are looking to take advantage of the defensive void on the Celtics. “KG is pretty much the anchor defensively,” said Jamal Crawford. “He really gets after it defensively but they’re still a good defensive team without KG. But with him, he just takes them to a different level. It’ll be a lot of similar things that we were going to do before but you make minor adjustments.”

Paul and I will be bringing out the latest live from the TD BankNorth Garden, so tune in during the game for all the most up-to-date information.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jamal Crawford, Kendrick Perkins
Celtics Lose, Cuts Loom 10.17.08 at 7:47 pm ET
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Final Score: Knicks 104 – Celtics 97

Eddie House rained threes but that wasn’t enough to fend off the Knicks in the Celtics seven-point loss. House shot 7-for-11 from long range and finished the game with 27 points. Nate Robinson carried the Knicks with 19. A few postgame notes:

  • According to Doc Rivers, Rajon Rondo (sprained ankle) could have returned to tonight’s game. He left the young PG out, though, since “he knows how to play.” Rondo is still uncertain for Sunday.
  • Cuts are coming, and maybe sooner than expected. Doc Rivers said he wants to cut down his roster sooner rather than later to give player(s) a shot at being picked up being another team. He wants to learn more about three or four players before making his decision.
  • Who does Kevin Garnett have the best chemistry with? It’s not Paul Pierce. It’s not Ray Allen either. KG said he has “the best chemistry by far” with Kendrick Perkins. Even though Perk missed the beginning of preseason play with a shoulder injury, Garnett claims the two bigs never missed a beat when he returned and were in constant communication tonight.

The Celtics will hold an open practice for a select group of ticket holders tomorrow in Lowell before taking on the New Jersey Nets on Sunday afternoon in the Garden.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, eddie house, Kendrick Perkins
Coach Cassell in Action at 5:09 pm ET
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In between the first and second quarter Sam Cassell pulled Kendrick Perkins away from the huddle. The point guard demonstrated post up moves to the center, who scored two points and grabbed three rebounds in the first quarter. Despite their difference in size and position, Cassell has been working out with Perkins during shootarounds as well.

Celtics lead 26-22 after 12 minutes.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, New York Knicks, Sam Cassell
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