|Fast Break: Celtics survive another Wizards scare||11.07.12 at 10:21 pm ET|
Thanks to double-doubles from the Big Three, the Celtics survived a second straight game against a Wizards team missing two of its best players. It wasn’t pretty — and required OT — but the Cs’ evened their record at 2-2.
Rondo’s 18 points and 14 assists in the 100-94 victory moved him alone into third place in NBA history with 28 consecutive games with 10-plus assists (behind John Stockton‘s 29, Stockton’s 37 and Magic Johnson‘s 44).
Garnett (20 points, 13 rebounds) committed what could’ve been a costly technical foul when he jerked his elbow in Kevin Seraphin‘s direction late in the fourth quarter, but two Paul Pierce (15 points, 10 rebounds) steals and a Rondo 20-footer with 26 seconds left helped force overtime as Rondo’s 3-pionter at the end of regulation fell short. The C’s defense arrived just in time to salvage the game in OT.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
First things first: The Celtics repeatedly assure the offense will come once they can get back to playing the kind of defense that’s been the trademark of their success the past five seasons. Wednesday night’s first quarter was a start. Led by Garnett and Lee, the Celtics held the Wizards to 29.2 percent shooting (7-24 FG) in the first 12 minutes, building a 21-16 lead that should have been bigger if not for five C’s turnovers.
Garnett gold: Since nobody else put forth any effort in the opening 24 minutes, Garnett exerted twice as much. By halftime, he had 10 rebounds, seven points and two blocks. His final first-half defensive stand was remarkable, singlehandedly guarding the right side of the court and eventually blocking a Trevor Booker layup attempt with two seconds left on the shot clock. Without KG on the floor, the C’s finished minus-13 before the break.
Forward progress: Finally given an opportunity to contribute midway through the third quarter, Chris Wilcox ran the floor with Rondo, made his only field goal and got to the line five times for six points to go along with two boards and a block. In just four minutes of action, he finished a plus-11 — while Garnett sat on the bench.
Very Terry: After admitting it was an adjustment to mesh with a new system, Jason Terry finally asserted himself into the offense. He took 15 shots, made seven of them and scored 16 points off the bench. Somehow, the C’s reserves still got outscored, 53-41.
|Box and 2: Inside Celtics, Bucks and Wizards, oh my||11.05.12 at 2:39 pm ET|
— Called upon by Doc Rivers Friday night to protect the paint against the Bucks, when smaller lineups weren’t working, Darko Milicic played 4:30 of the first quarter. He missed his only shot — an air-balled baby left hook — and committed more turnovers (2) than he totaled rebounds (1) or blocks (0). Then, he didn’t play Saturday.
Kevin Garnett: “We’re still playing with the chemistry. We have different lineups in which Doc is playing with simultaneously, and we’re still working. No one said this was going to be an easy process.”
Translation: “The Darko Experiment is called that for a reason. Let’s just hope it doesn’t blow up in our face.”
— Over the weekend, Brandon Bass finished a minus-11 in 40:52 without Jared Sullinger on the floor. The Celtics outscored the opponent in just two of his 10 stints sans Sullinger — by one in the final 3:53 of the first quarter against the Wizards and by two Terry free throws in the final 1:35 of that game. Without Bass on the floor, Sullinger finished a plus-14 in 33:29, and the C’s outscored opponents in five of those eight stints. (In case you were wondering, the two played 14:40 together, finished a minus-9 and only outscored opponents once in six stints.)
Rivers (via the Herald): ‘[Sullinger] brings a different component, more importantly rebounding. He knows how to play without the ball. He’s a great passer. He blends well with our starting group.’
Translation: “Sorry Brandon, but you’re going to see a lot more Sullinger in the starting lineup.”
|Paul Pierce: ‘Our goal is to keep our home court clean’||11.02.12 at 11:29 am ET|
WALTHAM — In the labor-shortened 2011-12 NBA season, the Celtics were 24-9 at home on the parquet. They were 8-2 at the Garden in the playoffs.
But the sour taste from the last game they played before the home crowd remains. With a chance to eliminate the Heat on their home court, they came up flat, losing, 98-79, to LeBron James and company.
Everyone in attendance remembers the fans at the end of the game chanting “Let’s Go Celtics” and the players haven’t forgotten either, as they take the same court for the first time in a meaningful game since then tonight when they host the Bucks in the home opener.
“We’re excited,” Paul Pierce said. “We’re excited to be at home, especially after taking a loss in the first game so hopefully, we can come back home and establish ourselves. That’s going to be the emphasis this year – establish ourselves at home. No team should be able to come in here and get any wins. Our goal is to keep our home court clean so it can be an intimidating factor when they come to the Garden.”
“We had a tough year last year,” Rajon Rondo said. “Other than that, I think years in the past the Garden has been a tough place to play in.”
The team that will be trying to spoil the Celtics home opening party tonight is the Milwaukee Bucks, led by the dynamic duo backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. The Bucks will be playing their regular season opener tonight.
“I know they’ve got two explosive guards in the backcourt and I think a lot of things start with them,” Pierce said. “I’m very familiar with Ilyasova [Ersan Ilyasova] and that’s pretty much that core. They have good role players in Dunleavy [Mike Dunleavy] and more than capable guys like Drew Gooden so they pose a threat for us. They gave us trouble last year from what I remember so they have a good, talented team. This is their first game so they’ll be hungry to get out to a good start.”
“They’re a scrappy team,” Rondo added. “They play with a lot of intensity on defense. Jennings and Monta is their backcourt. That’s their firepower. Courtney [Courtney Lee] and I will have our hands full but it will be a team effort to win the game.”
|Paul Pierce: Celtics ‘defense has got to come a lot faster’||at 10:08 am ET|
That was evident during the TNT telecast of Tuesday night’s season-opening loss in Miami.
He was wearing a microphone and barking out calls on the floor and words of encouragement to Rajon Rondo when things weren’t always going well.
On Thursday, before the Celtics home opener tonight against the Bucks, he was barking out something else.
“The defense has got to come a lot faster, and that’s something that’s come a lot faster in the past than the offense,” Pierce said of Boston’s 120 points allowed in a 120-107 loss to the Heat. “I’m pretty surprised we scored 107 points, to tell you the truth. Usually, the defense, we pick it up pretty fast. We understand our schemes, our rotations. But I just think we have to understand the type of atmosphere it was going to be. Some of the guys have never been in that atmosphere before, first game, playing against the defending champs on the road. We have to pick up our intensity, understand the moment, understand where we’re at and understand the type of game it’s going to be and raise our game.”
Doc Rivers thought his coaching staff had too much time to prepare and filled their players’ minds with too much information.
“I think our on-ball defense was average because our help defense was worse,” Rivers said. “If everybody is up guarding their own man and there’s no help and guys see gaps [in the defense], they’re taking it. What really upset us, every key guy got every shot he wanted, where they wanted the whole, and that’s a bad defensive night.
“It was team wide. It was spread. Like I told them, from the coaching standpoint, I thought we had way too much time to prepare for it and we put way too much stuff in their head. I thought they were thinking more than playing on instinct. I told our coaches we share in that. We had them doing a couple of different things and that’s not who we are defensively.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: 18 milestones 2012-13 Celtics will eclipse||10.30.12 at 5:13 pm ET|
Before the Celtics renew their rivalry with the Heat in Miami on Tuesday night and both teams begin their march toward what seems like an almost inevitable second straight Eastern Conference finals showdown, let’s predict 18 franchise and NBA milestones the C’s will eclipse during the 2012-13 season.
18. Considering he totaled 620 assists in just 53 games last season, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will shatter his own single-season franchise record for assists (794) and pass Bill Russell for fifth on the C’s career assists list. In doing so, he could become the first NBA player since the turn of the century to average 12 assists per game.
17. Kevin Garnett will score his 6,000th point in a Celtics uniform, passing Ray Allen (5,987) for 21st on the franchise scoring list. He should also surpass 3,000 rebounds, 1,000 assists, 400 steals and 400 blocks in green and white before the year is through, climbing a few more rungs on his ladder to the rafters.
16. Five ways Celtics captain Paul Pierce piles even more cement on his franchise legacy: 1) If he plays all 82, he’ll surpass Robert Parish by a single contest for second behind John Havlicek on the C’s career games played list; 2) If Pierce plays 2,941 minutes, which he did in 2008-09, he’ll pass Russell for second behind Hondo; 3) If he takes his usual 1,000-plus field goal attempts, he’ll pass Larry Bird for second behind Hondo; 4) If he makes 500, he’ll pass Parish for third behind Bird; and 5) Like Rondo, Pierce will pass Russell for fourth in career C’s assists.
15. When the Celtics win their 53rd game of the year — topping Bovada’s over/under of 50.5 — Doc Rivers passes Tommy Heinsohn for second behind Red Auerbach among coaches on the franchise’s career wins list.
|Irish Coffee: Don’t forget about Paul Pierce||10.29.12 at 12:18 pm ET|
Paul Pierce has been an afterthought this Celtics camp. Well, you know, as much as the captain and face of the NBA’s most storied franchise — and one of the league’s few legit title contenders — can remain in the shadows.
Think about it. The summer began with the return of Kevin Garnett, whose arrival five years ago saved a team relegated to mediocrity for two decades. And it ended with the emergence of Rajon Rondo, who grabbed the reins for the next 10 years. In between, Ray Allen spurned the Celtics, who in turn made their own headlines: Drafting Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph; adding Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jason Collins, Darko Milicic and Leandro Barbosa; re-signing Brandon Bass; and restoring Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox.
Meanwhile, Pierce quietly shared a family photo at the beach here or a picture of his workout routine there. After all, he too rehabbed from injury — a sprained left MCL this past June that may have meant the difference between a Game 7 loss to the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals and a third NBA finals appearance in five seasons.
Heck, Pierce had to share his 35th birthday on Oct. 13 with C’s coach Doc Rivers, who turned 51 the same day. Even his admission to potentially retiring or requesting a trade had Garnett not returned barely moved the needle, as they say. Such is the life now of the 10-time NBA All-Star entering his 15th season for the same franchise.
|Irish Coffee: C’s chemistry at a 9 or 10 but not ’08 level||10.23.12 at 6:57 pm ET|
After the Celtics started an unofficial training camp almost a month early, Rajon Rondo organized a players-only trip to Los Angeles and everyone drew parallels between the C’s Euro trip prior to the 2008 NBA championship run and their exhibition expedition to Turkey and Milan this preseason, we’re quick to assume this unit can form a bond on the court as quickly as that one did. After all, both groups returned only six players from the previous year.
On a scale from 1 to 10, Jeff Green called this team’s current chemistry a nine. In typical Rondo fashion, he placed it at a 10. And Kevin Garnett said, “Chemistry is very, very high, man.” But Paul Pierce disagrees.
“We’re still building chemistry,” he said. “Chemistry sometimes doesn’t happen overnight like in ‘08, so we’re still trying to build that. When you look at the number of new players we’ve got, we’re still trying to implement them.”
Let’s get one thing straight: This group isn’t anything like the one five years ago. That 2007-08 team started 29-3. Twenty nine and freaking three. For a variety of reasons, don’t expect this team to replicate that feat.
“As far as being ready, we’re going to continue to get better as the year goes on,” added Pierce. “We’re not where we want to be, but that’s going to come as we play more games, as the year goes along, until we reach our peak.”
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