|A new villain emerges in Celtics playoffs||04.20.10 at 11:05 am ET|
Quentin Richardson is not the first opponent to stir up controversy in a playoff series against the Celtics during the current Big Three era. Prior to Richardson’s Game 1 altercation with Kevin Garnett, there had been a line of players before him who took on the role of “Public Enemy No. 1″ with Celtics fans. Take a look back at players fans loved to hate over the past three seasons.
Bibby dished the ultimate insult to Boston sports fans when he called them ‘bandwagon’ in the first round of the 2008 playoffs. The Celtics crowd responded by booing him on every possession, chanting ‘Rondo’s better’ (as encouraged by RedsArmy.com), and flashing masks of Bibby’s face during the series. Two years later, Bibby still is jeered every time he plays at the Garden. ‘I’m not even worried about that,’ he told WEEI.com this season. ‘I don’t worry about that.’
Zaza Pachulia, Atlanta Hawks
Tempers flared under the basket after Pachulia and Garnett fought for a rebound during Game 4 of the first round of the 2008 playoffs. Once the big men got involved in an altercation, their teammates got involved as well and the question of suspensions was raised. But in the end, Garnett, Sam Cassell and Atlanta’s Joe Johnson were assessed technical fouls. In the deciding Game 7, Garnett fouled Pachulia while setting a hard screen and knocked the Hawks center to the ground.
When Noah recently ranted about Garnett’s Game 1 altercation with Richardson, that wasn’t the first time he spoke out against his former childhood favorite. Prior to Game 7 of the first round of the 2009 playoffs, Noah didn’t hold back when discussing the then-injured Garnett’s presence on the sidelines. ‘I don’t care about him at all. I don’t care about him at all,’ he told WEEI.com. ‘He used to be my favorite player. Not my favorite player any more.’ Noah also added, ‘He’s a great player. Now that I hear stories, I see how he is, not a big fan.’ Noah received a standing ovation when he fouled out of Game 7.
Alston temporarily interrupted Eddie House‘s 31-point performance in Game 2 of the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals between the Celtics and Magic. After House drained a 3-pointer in the third, Alston slapped him in the back of the head. At the time, Alston claimed he was reacting to being elbowed by House. But there were no signs of hard feelings from Alston a season later when he told WEEI.com that he actually wanted to play for the C’s after being bought out by the Nets.
|KG: ‘It doesn’t help when the crowd boos’||04.09.10 at 11:54 pm ET|
“It’s just hard, especially when we get to the end of the first quarter and we are down, 30-17, and everybody starts to hit – not the panic button – but tries to pick it up in different ways and when it doesn’t come together or you miss some shots, and it doesn’t help when the crowd boos and all these other things then you have to grow tighter together,” Garnett said. “It’s not easy. We know this journey and duration in which we are traveling is not going to be an easy one, and tonight was a difficult one. I wouldn’t say we hang our heads but every individual is trying to figure out what to do and what they can do individually to try to pick it up.’
The Celtics heard it from the TD Garden crowd as the Celtics fell behind by 28 in the second quarter.
“Well, I mean we are at home, we look for our fans to give energy, to give us a spark when the times are tough,” Garnett said. “It doesn’t help when the boos happen but we are a group of veterans and we are a group that is a real team. We aren’t fair weather.”
|James took lessons learned from battles with Pierce||04.04.10 at 11:58 pm ET|
The matchup between Paul Pierce and LeBron James is one of the most competitive battles in the NBA. But before James was dominating the scoreboard, he was trying to learn from his veteran counterpart.
“When I first came into the league, he was a seasoned vet and I was a rookie just trying to learn the curve and things like that,” James said prior to the Celtics 117-113 win over the Cavaliers. “Over the years, he’s still been an All-Star, he’s still been competitive. I’m just trying to develop my game to be one of the best three’s (small forwards) in the league, to be on Paul Pierce’s level and all these other guys’ level.”
On Sunday, James outscored Pierce, 42-16 (20 of his points came in the fourth quarter alone). It’s a far cry from their first regular-season matchup seven years ago. On Nov. 13, 2003, James ‘ as a rookie ‘ scored 10 points in a 91-82 loss to the Celtics. In that one, Pierce, who was entering his sixth season, led the C’s with 19 points.
‘You learn, the game itself teaches you game after game after game,” James said. ‘But you learn when you go against the best, you see why they are considered the best at that time or still now because of the work they put into it. They never took a night off.’
James is averaging 29.9 points this season (30.6 in his last five contests) and has scored more than 20 points in all but one game since the All-Star Break. He wrapped up his regular season matchup with the Celtics averaging 36.5 points in four games.
‘I’ve been able to be recognized as one of the best three’s that we have in this league,” James added, “So it’s always fun to go against the best guys in the league, and Paul continues to be that since I was a rookie.’
|Pierce on C’s turmoil: We ‘talk things out’||at 12:18 am ET|
WALTHAM — Paul Pierce made a admission on Saturday following practice.
The Celtics had some words amongst each other about what was happening on their home court in three straight losses – or more to the point, what wasn’t. And that turmoil was evident several times on Friday as Rajon Rondo had animated discussions with Shelden Williams and Pierce during the fourth quarter as the Celtics were trying to get their defensive house in order.
The team’s ability to defend the simple pick-and-roll was exposed as an apparent weakness on Friday as Aaron Brooks, Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola went to town late in the fourth quarter as the Rockets battled back to force overtime and then erased a five-point hole in OT to score the last 10 points of overtime in the 119-114 Rockets win.
“I think we’re breaking down in just one area,” Pierce said. “And it needs to get better. We have to be better on the pick and roll.”
In other words, when the opposing player passes the ball, a fundamental rule in basketball defense 101 is that the passer becomes the most dangerous potential scorer on the court.
“I think we trust each other,” Pierce said. “It’s just about going out there and doing it and trusting the coaching staff. The good thing about us after a game like [Friday] or the game before, we sit in the locker room and we talk about it. We were in the training room, talking about what we need to do better and what we need to do as a team. That’s a positive sign, how during a tough stretch like this, we stick together and talk things out.”
And that talk continued from Friday night post-game to Saturday pre-film study as Pierce said the team had an animated and frank discussion of the mistakes being made, with everyone in green taking some responsibility.
He didn’t want to get into it after Friday’s loss, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers gave several examples on Saturday of the problems that led to his team’s meltdown.
There was the lack of respect given to 3-point sharpshooter Chase Budinger, after several reminders from the coaching staff to get in his face and stick with him on defense. They failed.
There was the shot taken by Nate Robinson at the end of the second quarter, leading to a three-point swing that gave Houston a four-point lead instead of one. And there was Pierce dribbling out the clock before halftime without getting off a shot.
All of that said, Saturday was a time to look forward to preparing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that beat them by 20 on the same court on Feb. 26. Looking back on Friday’s loss on film was not what Doc ordered on Saturday.
|Pierce, Garnett press conference||04.01.10 at 12:15 am ET|
|Coach Belichick, it’s Doc on the line||03.31.10 at 6:59 pm ET|
Pierce suffered a ‘stinger’ to his right shoulder on Sunday night and again on Tuesday in practice but was cleared by the team’s training and medical staff while Perkins has missed the last two games with left knee tendinitis.
“It’s good but it’s scary,” Rivers said. “Obviously, you don’t know why you get stingers. Maybe I should call Coach [Bill] Belichick because it’s a football injury more. We don’t have a whole bunch of stingers in our league that I know of. Obviously, it does concern you because I always think if something like that happens, there’s got to be a reason why but it’s just coincidence, let’s hope.”
|Pierce gets ‘stung’ again on right shoulder||03.30.10 at 3:54 pm ET|
WALTHAM — For the second time in three days, Paul Pierce injured his right shoulder. This time, the injury happened midway through Celtics practice when he ran into a back screen and fell to the ground. Rivers said trainer Ed Lacerte said if it’s just a stinger, Pierce should be fine to play.
“He actually got hurt again,” Rivers said. “It’s a stinger. It was the same exact reaction. It looked worse today. Eddie said if it’s a stinger, he’ll be fine but you get concerned because it’s a game and a practice, exact same thing.”
‘That’s something you play a guy five minutes and that can happen, Rivers added. ‘There’s nothing you can do about that. The good news is it’s not a shoulder separation or anything and probably the worst case is he misses a game or two, at worse. That’s not all bad and obviously, you’d like to have him and it’s not a lower body injury.’
Meanwhile, Kendrick Perkins, who has missed the last two games with left knee tendinitis, is expected to return to the starting lineup on Wednesday night against Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City at TD Garden.