|Fast Break: How the Hawks swept the Celtics||01.29.10 at 10:24 pm ET|
The inability to play 48 minutes of basketball has been detrimental to the Celtics this season. But on Friday, they had difficulty playing just 12. The C’s jumped out to a double-digit lead early in the first but failed to maintain the advantage. The Hawks quickly erased their deficit, kicked up their energy, and controlled the rest of the game.
In the end, the Celtics were outscored 29-8 on fastbreak points. The combination of the Hawks’ athleticism and long-range shooting dealt the Celtics a 100-91 loss on Friday in Atlanta. (Recap.) The Hawks completed a 4-0 sweep of the regular season series.
Turning Point: The C’s were up by nine with 3:40 to go in the first quarter until the Hawks picked up their energy and began slicing away at the lead. When Jamal Crawford drained a halfcourt buzzer-beater to end the quarter, the Celtics found themselves trailing by one. The shift in momentum set the tone for the rest of the game.
Player of the Game: Paul Pierce scored a game-high 35 points (11-15 FG, 12-13 FT) for the Celtics in the losing effort. On Friday, though, it was a different player who took over in the fourth. Joe Johnson scored 16 points in the fourth alone (27 for the game), and his three-pointer in the face of Pierce with a minute to go iced the win.
– The Celtics’ second unit hurt their team tonight. Not only were they unable to prevent the Hawks from adding to their lead early in the second quarter, but they also made it difficult for Doc Rivers to give his starters a rest. The Celtics bench was outscored 44-18.
– The Celtics have lost two in a row, and dropped to 4-5 in back-to-back games. They will return to Boston to face the Lakers on Sunday.
|Rondo, Pierce named to All-Star team||01.28.10 at 7:31 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce were officially added to the Eastern Conference All-Star team Thursday. Rondo and Pierce join teammate Kevin Garnett, who was voted in as a starter, to give the Celtics three representatives; more than any other team.
This is Rondo’s first selection to the All-Star team. This is Pierce’s eighth All-Star nod.
The rest of the Eastern Conference reserves:
|KG at practice but C’s still have work to do||01.19.10 at 5:52 pm ET|
WALTHAM — While the head coach and captain were very happy to see Kevin Garnett back at practice on Tuesday afternoon, they tempered their enthusiasm with a heavy dose of reality.
The Celtics have a lot of work to do, even when their defensive MVP returns to game action.
“He looked real fluid,” Paul Pierce said. “He got up and down the court, got him the ball in the post. It’ll be a positive to get him back whenver he comes back. We don’t know if that’s going to be tomorrow, later in the week or whenever. But it just good to have him out there, his presence. You feel it and you see it when he’s out on the court.
“We ain’t thinking about that but definitely we know we’re going to better when Kevin comes back, obviously. He makes a better team on both ends of the court. We have to take care of responsibilities while he’s out. If he’s going to play the next game or not, we still have to go out there and turn this thing around going into the All-Star break.”
Then there’s Doc Rivers‘ attitude.
“When Kevin gets back, we still have to grow as a team,” Rivers said. “The way I look at it, with him out, our growth has been stunted. When he comes back, it’ll continue our growth. It’s not the answer yet. We still have to grow as a team.”
While Garnett looked terrific, his conditioning wasn’t. And that came as no surprise to Rivers, who reiterated time and time again, KG will NOT return to game action Wednesday in Detroit.
“He actually looked really good,” Rivers added. “He played well. His conditioning was awful. That’s why I stopped [practice] because he was going well. I didn’t want to take him to the next step yet. He’ll do some running [Wednesday]. We may do something Thursday, or not, and then Friday, we’ll see.”
|Pierce plays, Sheed returns||01.18.10 at 7:32 pm ET|
Doc Rivers announced before Monday’s tipoff that both Paul Pierce and Rasheed Wallace were cleared to play against the Mavericks. Pierce banged his sore right knee into the leg of Shelden Williams during Sunday’s practice while Wallace missed the last three games with a sore left foot.
|Pierce bangs his knee||01.17.10 at 5:15 pm ET|
The injury, according to head coach Doc Rivers, didn’t appear serious. But it was enough to force him out of the final moments of practice.
“It’s starting to feel better, I hope he’s fine,” Rivers said following the session. Pierce was spotted at the end of practice with ice on his right knee – the same one that forced Pierce to the sidelines for five games around the holidays with an infection.
“He got kneed [in] same exact spot,” Rivers said. “It’s just amazing the luck right now with things like that.”
The team held a full practice on Sunday after his team held a short workout on Saturday that included a skills competition.
The scary moment at the end of the practice comes as the team prepares to welcome back Rasheed Wallace to action in time for Monday’s game against Dallas at TD Garden. Kevin Garnett is hopeful to return on Friday against Portland.
|Rivers explains ‘The Play’||01.07.10 at 4:02 pm ET|
A day after the Celtics forced overtime with an inbound alley-oop layin from Paul Pierce to Rajon Rondo, Celtics fans are still buzzing about ‘The Play.’ It took less than a second to execute, but it’s sure to be talked about the rest of the season.
On Thursday, Doc Rivers explained the keys to this offensive strategy on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan show.
Picking the passer: After running through the play in practice, Rivers knew Pierce was the right man for the role.
‘We ran it once, might have been last year or two years ago, and it didn’t work. It worked to the point that Rondo was open and we threw the pass off mark. It actually went into overtime. We work on that play occasionally, like once every 10 practices. Paul is the only guy that can make the pass. Every time we use someone else it’s a bad pass. But it was good that all those guys were there.’
‘The good thing with Paul, because he is such a threat as a player, they rarely put a big on him. A lot of time, like what we did in Golden State where we put the two bigs on the ball, teams don’t want to do that just in case there is enough time for Paul to come back and get the ball. They usually put his guy on him and that’s why we use him.’
Watching the clock: Six-tenths of a second may not seem like a lot of time to pull of a daring shot, but it was more than enough for the Celtics.
‘We’ve done it with 0.4 because it’s just a tap. Even at 0.3 you have a chance.’
Selecting the secret weapon: The Heat were caught off guard when Pierce lobbed the ball to the smallest guy on the team.
‘Rondo is usually the best guy to do it, because he’s the guy that no one thinks you are going to do it with. That’s what we try to choose. Ray [Allen] is the other guy, surprisingly, because no one thinks you are going to throw a lob pass to Ray, either. So, it’s usually one of those two guys.’
Testing the guinea pigs: Rivers had stumped his own players in practice to ensure it could work against their opponents.
‘We just disguise it. It’s the same play that you could run like 10 different ways and we just give it different formations. That’s what we do in practice.’
|Fast Break: Celtics vs. Heat||01.06.10 at 10:50 pm ET|
The Celtics overcame a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Heat, 112-106, in dramatic fashion on the road in overtime. This game wasn’t pretty — the Celtics committed 24 turnovers while the Heat attempted 98 shots — but the C’s fended off 44 points from Dwayne Wade to get the win.
Player of the Game: Kudos to Paul Pierce for perfectly executing the game-tying alley-oop to Rajon Rondo, but this award goes to the recipient of the pass. Not only did Rondo send the Celtics into overtime, he led them in the final five minutes. Rondo finished with a team-high 25 points.
Turning Point: After Wade hit a pair of game-tying free throws, the Celtics had an opportunity to hit the game-winner with 5.5 seconds left. Wade stole the ball from Ray Allen at halfcourt and slammed the go-ahead bucket to put the Heat up, 101-99, with 0.6 seconds to go. The Celtics responded with one of the best plays of the season ‘ an inbound alley-oop from Pierce to Rondo as time expired to force overtime.
– Pierce posted 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in his return from a knee infection.
– The Celtics committed 24 turnovers to just 11 by the Heat.
– Free throws were a huge deciding factor in this game. The Celtics shot 33-for-41; the Heat shot 20-for-27.
– Rasheed Wallace played a stretch in the fourth quarter with five fouls. He eventually fouled out fighting for a rebounds with Udonis Haslem, and the Celtics bench quickly stepped in front of him on the sidelines to prevent him from arguing the call.
– After getting his first NBA start last weekend, J.R. Giddens did not play on Wednesday.
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