|Magic know formula to beat Celtics||11.21.09 at 12:05 am ET|
BOSTON ‘ It has been nearly a year since the Magic faced a healthy Celtics squad. On Friday they proved they can beat the Celtics with or without Kevin Garnett.
‘It’s very important especially when they are full strength to show you that we’re still a good team,’ Rashard Lewis told WEEI.com after the Magic’s 83-78 victory (Recap). ‘You know they’re a great team. This is only one game, it’s early in the season and I definitely would not count them out at all. Every time we play the Boston Celtics it’s going to be a tough, tough game.’
The Celtics were 0-2 last regular season against the Magic without Garnett and were eliminated from the Eastern Conference Semifinals by the Magic without him. But the truth is, the Magic have held their own against the Celtics in recent years. They improved to 5-3 against the Cs since the 2007-08 regular season.
‘I think the biggest thing playing their team is not allowing them to get a lot of second chance points, hold them to one shot, and then run,’ said Dwight Howard.
The Celtics actually outshot the Magic 87-to-70 from the floor, but the Magic shot 10-for-22 from three-point range while Celtics were a mere 2-for-19. Vince Carter attempted 29 field goals — ‘All of them weren’t open, I’ll be the first to tell you that,’ he said with a laugh — the same number as Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined. Stifling the Celtics offense was a must-do for the Magic.
‘You’ve got to play defense,’ said Lewis. ‘I think every time we play this team we really buckle down on the defensive end and we try to take their main guys out ‘ Ray Allen at the three-point line, and we try to crowd Paul Pierce and make other guys beat us. Tonight I think we did a good job of that.’
The Celtics lost their lead just three minutes into the first quarter, and the Magic held off a 17-12 fourth quarter run after Rasheed Wallace tied the game at 78 apiece. Lewis said his team regained their composure after coach Stan Van Gundy called a timeout and buckled down, realizing how easily the Celtics can fight back from a double-digit deficit. The Magic diminished the Celtics homecourt advantage and held on in the TD Garden’s playoff atmosphere.
‘We’re not going to do that [back down] to anybody,’ said Jason Williams. ‘I mean, we feel that we’re just as good as anybody else. So if we come out and do what we’re supposed to do, we’re going to win more times than not.’
On Friday night, like they have so many times in recent games against the Celtics, the Magic came out on top. Neither team can read too much into this victory, though. While the Magic know how to beat the Celtics, but they also know either team is capable of winning at any time.
‘I don’t want to say we got their number because anything can happen on any given night,’ said Lewis. ‘Tonight the ball kind of bounced our way and towards the end of the game we were able to get away. It’s not like we blew them out. We won by like four points so it could have easily gone the other way.’
|Magic: Can’t Afford to Foul Rondo||11.20.09 at 7:46 pm ET|
BOSTON — Even though Rajon Rondo enters Friday’s game shooting a mere 25 percent from the free throw line, the Magic are not going to give him extra trips to the charity stripe. Just because free throws have been a weakness for Rondo this season that doesn’t mean the same is true for his teammates.
‘With their team you don’t want to foul unnecessarily,’ said Anthony Johnson. ‘Even though maybe he’s not shooting well, Paul Pierce, KG, all the other guys, they’re going to draw fouls.’
In spite of Rondo’s struggle (4-16 FG), the Celtics are still in the middle of the pack around the league. Ray Allen is ranked eighth in the NBA (89.3%) while Shelden Williams and Pierce are both shooting better than 80 percent.
‘If you waste your fouls on Rondo, it’s going to help them as a team get into the bonus and it’s going to give those guys free points,’ Johnson said. ‘So as much as possible we want to keep them off the line, including him, and try to make them make tough shots over the top of us.’
The Magic have a lot more to worry about with Rondo than just free throws. They are without starting point guard Jameer Nelson (knee) and will depend on veterans Johnson and Jason Williams to contain Rondo.
“He’s a guy that plays with a lot of energy offensively and defensively so you’ve got to always keep him in front of you, don’t allow him to really dictate the tempo with his ball pressure and just putting pressure on our defense getting into the paint,” said Johnson. “So we’re going to have to keep him in front of us and not let him orchestrate and make all the big plays.”
|Pierce returns to practice||11.17.09 at 2:27 pm ET|
Pierce said it was only a slight sprain and he took part in the team’s workout, with coach Doc Rivers giving him an occasional rest on the sideline.
“I got a good response from the last couple of days of rest and I felt good about it. It went smoothly. I went the whole practice and felt really good about it. It was a slight sprain in the knee but normally I’m a fast healer so I felt good,” Pierce said.
Pierce and head coach Doc Rivers expect Pierce to be available and start when the team takes on Golden State on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
“He looked good,” Rivers said. He went half-and-half. We got him in, got him out. He really wanted to do something because he said, ‘I don’t want to go through three days of nothing and play a game,’ which I agreed with. It was more about rest than an injury thing. He’ll be fine.”
|Open practice, open questions||11.16.09 at 3:49 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics conducted an open practice session for one of their sponsors Monday, which allowed the media a window into their mostly closed off world. NBA teams have been conducting practices in private for several years now, usually allowing the last 20-30 minutes to be open for viewing for the press.
That tends to mean a whole lot of watching guys take free throws, but with the open session we were able to see how hard they work on defense, and how loud and vocal the practices tend to be. The Celtics worked a lot on halfcourt situations and it had the same intensity as a regular game.
Paul Pierce (bruised left knee) sat out the session. Doc Rivers said that he shouldn’t have let Pierce play on Saturday against Indiana, but that he let Pierce talk him into it. Pierce tried to sneak on to the court Monday, but Rivers shut him down.
“He’s not going to practice today or tomorrow,”Rivers said. “I told him that after the game. He tried to get on the floor at the beginning, I told him no. he doesn’t miss practices. The only way you can get him to miss is to force him.”
Tony Allen did take part in his first practice since training camp, but he’s unlikely to see game action, unless as Rivers said, “We need him.”
After the session there was ample talk about what’s been going wrong the last two games, and it starts with the pick and roll defense.
“Our pick and roll coverage is the main thread,” Rivers said. “It’s been inconsistent. It’s two guys not just the guy on the ball. It’s the guy guarding the ball who sets the pick. And then dribble penetration. Some of our defensive sets have been very good and then with five seconds left on the clock the guy dribbling the ball gets all the way to the basket and that’s not just the guy guarding the ball.”
Rivers also said that he thought fatigue was a factor. He blamed himself for working his team too hard during practice last Thursday before a set of back-to-back games. “I made a mistake on Thursday,” Rivers said. “We went way too hard in practice. I thought it carried over to our back to back on Thursday and Friday. I thought we could get away with it, and I was wrong.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Pierce to strike again for charity||11.15.09 at 11:19 pm ET|
On Monday evening Paul Pierce will trade his basketball sneakers for bowling shoes at ‘The Truth Strikes Again,’ a celebrity bowling tournament to raise funds for the Truth on Health Campaign and FitClub 34 by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Pierce is scheduled to be joined by his teammates, including Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, Eddie House, Marquis Daniels, Tony Allen, Brian Scalabrine, Lester Hudson, and Bill Walker. The event will take place at Kings Lanes in Dedham. For more information on Pierce’s initiatives, visit www.paulpierce.net.
|Pierce will ‘wait’ on tender left knee||11.14.09 at 12:15 am ET|
Paul Pierce bruised his left knee in the third quarter of Friday night’s loss to Atlanta. Pierce said afterward that he will see how it responds before making a decision on whether to play on Saturday night at Indiana.
‘It’s a little tender, I’m just going to wait to see how it feels when it cools down,” he said. “On the play I was falling down and my foot got stepped on, sort of turned it so it was a light sprain in the knee. You know I’m just gonna ice it right now and see how it feels a little bit later.’
Pierce led the Celtics with 24 points, and returned with a soft brace on his knee with just under 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Celtics flew out to Indianapolis following their 97-86 loss to the Hawks at the Garden.
|Pierce suffers bruised left knee||11.13.09 at 9:57 pm ET|
With three minutes remaining in the third quarter, Paul Pierce left the game with a bruised left knee and limped to the locker room with trainer Ed Lacerte.
Pierce appeared to injury his knee earlier in the third quarter, when he was slow to come off the court at midcourt during a TV timeout.
Pierce returned to the game with 10:29 remaining in the fourth, with a wrap on his left knee. He was checked out by team doctor Alan Curtis.
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