|Pregame News and Notes||11.28.08 at 5:25 pm ET|
Anything Really is Possible for Pierce: Kevin Garnett screamed it after winning the NBA Finals. This season Paul Pierce is taking on the same optimistic attitude. In a rare chat with the media prior to Friday’s game, Pierce was asked how he could top winning a title, becoming a father, and watching his alma mater Kansas win the NCAA championship.
“Kansas wins the title, become a dad again, and we win it again. That would top it,” he said with a laugh, adding, “It’s a possibility.”
Pruitt in Need of Some R&R: Gabe Pruitt left the building prior to the Celtics-76ers game with flu-like symptoms. He was sick on Thanksgiving and does not expect to travel with the team to Charlotte for tomorrow’s game against the Bobcats.
Young Thanks KG: Among veteran standouts like Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala, Kevin Garnett is paying close attention to a (literally and figuratively) young player. He’s had his eye on Thaddeus Young, and the second-year forward was taken aback by the acknowledgment.
“It’s pretty good. He’s an All-Star player,” Young said with his trademark smile. “It’s pretty big for him to say something like that so, you know, thank him for that.”
|Preview: Celtics vs. 76ers||11.27.08 at 10:01 pm ET|
On Friday night the Boston Celtics (14-2) will take on the Philadelphia 76ers (7-8) at the TD BankNorth Garden. The 76ers were expected to challenge the Celtics in the Atlantic Division after acquiring Elton Brand this summer, but so far they have yet to pose a threat. The Celtics are riding a six-game winning streak while the 76ers have lost their last two.
In the last five games …
Over the last five games the Celtics have averaged the third most points in the NBA (108 ppg), the 76ers are posting the third least (90.4 ppg). The 76ers have the highest rebounding differential in the league (+6.33) for the season but the Celtics have outrebounded their opponents by nearly eight boards in the past five contests.
The match up to watch will be Kevin Garnett vs. Elton Brand. The big men have seen each other plenty of times in the Western Conference and now they are two of the best in the East. Brand gives the 76ers a legitimate option in the post, something they’ve been lacking of over the years, and they don’t have to rely as much on their running game.
“You know they’re going to play hard, you know they’re going to crash the boards,” Garnett said. “But having that range from the floor makes them [multi-dimensional]. They’re able to go pick-and-pop. Andre Miller can string out the defense a little bit and throw it back and Elton can hit all the way up to 19-feet jumpers.”
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has made it clear on several occassions that Andre Miller is one of his favorite point guards in the league. Now many are saying the same about Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
“The problems we’ve had with Philly in the past, last year we struggled with them because of the Andre Miller problem,” Rivers said. “You know, at the point, with his size. I think Rondo’s better suited to handle that this year, and so he’s going to have to.”
Rondo’s fearless hustle has garnered praise from teammates and opponents alike. He enters Friday’s game on a hot streak after scoring 22 points against the Golden State Warriors. See how Rondo and Miller stacked up in the past five games:
Rajon Rondo: 29.2 minutes, 16.6 points, 6.2 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 55.7% FG
Andre Miller: 36.4 minutes, 12.0 points, 6.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 42.3% FG
Keep an Eye On …
The obvious scoring options on the 76ers are Brand and Andre Iguodala. This season, however, versatile forward Thaddeus Young is emerging in Philly. Young is quietly averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds, catching the attention of Garnett.
“A lot of people don’t really talk about him but Thaddeus Young, I think, is having an exceptional year,” Garnett said. “He’s hitting threes, he’s been able to come off picks … and he’s aggressive. Just some of the games that I’ve seen, when they win it’s because he’s playing really well.”
The Bottom Line
“I think they ran a lot more this year than last year,” said Paul Pierce. “They’re good in transition with Iguodala but I think now that they’ve added Brand to the dimension, they’re more built I think for the playoffs. They have early struggles, I think they’re a better team than their record has really shown as they get used to one another, but definitely they’re capable of scoring 100 points. But we’ve got our work cut out for us again defensively.”
Check in with the WEEI Celtics Game Day Blog for all the latest from the Celtics-76ers match up.
|Sounds of the game… Celtics 119, Warriors 111||at 10:11 am ET|
Maybe Stephen Jackson was onto something. He told our own Jessica Camerato that the Celtics deserve the respect he refused to give them last year. And after the game he said one reason he has changed his mind is the play of Rajon Rondo. The point guard’s teammates are also on board. Rondo led a dramatic 32-16 surge in the third quarter that left Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett calling for Rondo to get some All-Star love. The Rondo-for-All-Star push continues Friday night at the Garden as the 14-2 Celtics welcome the 7-8 Philadelphia 76ers.
|Jackson: Celtics Earned My Respect||11.26.08 at 9:04 pm ET|
Last season on the night before Thanksgiving, Stephen Jackson scoffed at the hype surrounding the Boston Celtics. They were 9-1 at the time, including a 23-point blowout over the Golden State Warriors, but Jackson could care less.
“They won nine games. If you all want to hype up nine games so be it. I’m not,” he said at the time. “Like I said, they are just another NBA team just like everybody else. They’ll get praise when they win a championship.”
Exactly one year later, the now-defending champions came from behind the defeat the Warriors 119-111 in Boston. Jackson posted 30 points, six assists, and five rebounds, and looked like he was out for redemption.
So was he playing with a vengeance? His answer may surprise you.
“They definitely have my respect,” he said. “They have three great players and a great leader in (Rajon) Rondo. He definitely is a key to them winning games. Like I said, they have my respect now. If I said that year, I take it back. They’ve definitely earned it.”
The trio of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen have achieved the goal Jackson is working toward with Corey Maggette and the newly acquired Jamal Crawford. Now he is in the same situation and can appreciate what the Celtics accomplished last season.
“It’s hard to not respect them after the season they had,” Jackson said. “When you’re a team that signs three big guys and you haven’t won a championship, you have to earn the respect. And they’ve earned it.”
|Watch that temper…||11.25.08 at 1:28 pm ET|
Perkins didn’t come into the season intending to become the NBA’s new bad boy. But if people want to draw that comparison after drawing eight technical fouls in the first 15 games of the season, then so be it.
“It doesn’t matter, they’re two great players in this league so I hope so,” Perkins said following Tuesday’s practice. “Nobody is getting under my skin. I really start all the problems. It’s not like they’re starting stuff with me. I pretty much start everything.”
One of those eight techs occurred with Jermaine O’Neal (below) in the Nov. 10 game against Toronto.
Celtics captain Paul Pierce is more than experienced in the ways of emotional warfare on the court.
“I use it to get in my opponents’ heads,” Pierce said Tuesday. “I don’t use it to start anything. I use it to frustrate my opponent, sort of what Larry Bird used to do in the day, Michael (Jordan), Gary Payton, these guys. I use it more as a tactic. I’m not trying to fight anybody. I do it in practice.”
Perkins, meanwhile, has always had a fierce but quiet demeanor on the court.
“I don’t really worry about it. It is what it is. They’re either going to like me or they’re not. I’m not saying anything to them. I’m just going to go out there and play my game. I’m an emotional guy but it’s not anything I can’t change. I can control it. It’s more getting into with (other players) than anything.”
Now, this season, opposing players have chosen to ride the Celtics big man to see if they can draw him into verbal, and sometimes, physical encounters that result in technical fouls.
Well, 15 games into the season, Perkins has eight. Under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, if you collect 16, you earn yourself a seat on the bench in civilian clothes for a game.
Not what Doc Rivers and the Celtics are looking for.
“Last year was more techs toward the refs,” said Perkins, who picked up his eighth T on Sunday, jabbing and jarring with Jose Calderon in Toronto. “This year is more getting into with people. I’ve just been trying to keep my head. Last game, I wasn’t trying to get a tech. I’m trying to get it overturned.”
But in fairness to Perkins, Rivers was quick to point out that he thinks at least two of the instances should be reviewed and repealed.
“I’m concerned,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, sounding somewhat worried about Perkins’ rep. “We’re sending a lot of the tapes to the league because a lot of the double-technicals are where someone saying something to him and he turns around and they get a double-tech. That’s, to me, where the officials have to do their job. I think it’s easy to say say, ‘double-technical’ instead of saying this guy started it. We’re going to try to get a couple of them rescinded. It won’t happen but we’re going to try.”
Rivers then had this message for Perk.
“You want them to be emotional but not be emotionally sabotaged,” Rivers said.
Perk wasn’t looking for any shelter on Tuesday, continuing his reputation on the team as a stand-up guy.
“I blame it on myself,” he said. “I’m a man. Nobody makes me do that. I do it on my own. It’s very hard because you’re emotional and you’re going to get into with sometimes, especially at the position I play, you’re going to bang with people a lot. It’s a lot of physical contact. It gets emotional at times.”
|Sounds of the game… Celtics 98, Pistons 80||11.21.08 at 12:03 am ET|
The Celtics showed no mercy on the weary Detroit Pistons on Thursday night at TD Banknorth Garden, demolishing them, 98-80. The first quarter was a wake-up call as the Green fell behind 13-2 in the first three and a half minutes. But for the final three quarters, this one belonged entirely to the defending champs. Rajon Rondo looked better than he has all season, scoring 18 and controlling Allen Iverson and the tempo all night. This was the second time this season the 11-2 Celtics have owned Detroit, beating them 88-76 back on Nov. 9. There are 69 games remaining but it’s hard to imagine anyone in the East knocking the Celtics out of the top perch. Next up tonight, Kevin Garnett gets to actually play in his return to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves. Last year, he had to sit on the sidelines because of an injury.
|Celtics-Pistons Game Blog: Second Quarter||11.20.08 at 6:53 pm ET|
SECOND QUARTER WRAP: The Celtics second unit was hot early in the second and pushed the lead up to 38-27. But the Pistons got physical and are within nine half. They’re looking to battle and the Celtics will have to come out hot in the third quarter to stave off a comeback.
Halftime Notes and Numbers:
- Iverson leads all scorers with 12. Rondo and Tony Allen lead the Celtics with 9 apiece.
- Both teams have 16 points in the paint and the rest of the stat lines are very similar.
- The Pistons are outrebounding the Celtics 18-16 while the Celtics have one more assist, 11-10.
Paul has you covered after a entertaining halftime performance by the Bucket Boys.
- At the half, Celtics 49, Pistons 40
- Two days after saying KG is “crazier” than him on the court, Perk got T’ed up at the end of the second after Maxiell fouled Pierce at the hoop.
- There is talk of a heated relationship between UConn alums Ray Allen and Rip Hamilton, but few details are known. We’re getting a glimpse into that tonight with Hamilton knocking Allen over for an offensive foul. Hamilton had something to say about it as they ran down the court.
- A little kid dressed in an oversized Bill Walker jersey just won Sarah Brightman tickets in a tot-sized road race. What are the chances he has her songs on iTunes?
- The Celtics have their starters back on the court and the Pistons have all but Wallace out there.
- Both Ray Allen and House have missed free throws this quarter. It was House’s first miss of the season and Allen’s fourth.
- Eddie House is feeling it. After Powe swatted away a Prince drive, House nailed a three on the fast break. He drained another trey on the next possession, prompting the Pistons to call a timeout down 38-27.
- Rip Hamilton completely faked out Tony Allen at the top of the key. TA has learned from his mistakes and didn’t get tricked into fouling him on the shot a la last season against Chauncey Billups.
- During a timeout the Celtics played their first “slow dance” of the year on the Jumbotron. It was a slo-mo of awesomely bad dance moves from the Garden set to the awesomely bad Lonestar ballad, “Amazed.”
- Now Aaron Afflalo is guarding Powe (??) … now Afflalo’s on the ground. Powe’s at the line shooting two.
- Scal for three. And the crowd goes wild.
- I was hoping for a physical match up between Powe and Maxiell considering the trouble the Pistons big man gave Perk last season. But Big Baby is on Maxiell and Powe has Prince. Powe should be able to back Prince down in the paint.
- For the first time in a while, Doc is going with an entire second unit. Usually he leaves PIerce or Ray Allen on the court with the reserves, but now he’s giving the lineup of Scal, Powe, Davis, Tony Allen, and House a look. Michael Curry’s going with Iverson, Stuckey, Prince, Afflalo, and Wallace.
- After another slow start, the Celtics enter the second quarter tied 21-21 with the Pistons.