|Studs and Duds: Isaiah Thomas, Celtics defense shine in win over Pistons||02.03.16 at 10:25 pm ET|
Like Will Ferrell in “Old School,” the Celtics are officially streaking. The C’s won for the seventh time in eight games on Wednesday night, leading from wire-to-wire in a 102-95 victory over the Pistons.
Isaiah Thomas (17 points) led five Celtics in double figures as the Celtics opened a 24-point lead before holding on down the stretch. Guard Marcus Smart sealed it with a corner 3-pointer in the final 90 seconds with the lead down to seven.
The Celtics won with interior defense and efficient offense. They did a stellar job of defending the pick and roll between Pistons All-Star Andre Drummond and Boston College alumnus Reggie Jackson. And they picked the Pistons apart inside, scoring on drives and backdoor cuts, finishing with 54 points in the paint and 18 points on fast breaks.
With the win, the Celtics have won six straight at home and remain tied with the Hawks for third place in the Eastern Conference.
|Report: Knicks have interest in Lawrence Frank||07.18.11 at 5:25 pm ET|
Celtics assistant coach Lawrence Frank has interviewed with Houston, Golden State, Toronto and now Detroit for their head coaching jobs and he is said to be one of two finalists for the Pistons job along with former Hawks coach Mike Woodson.
It’s no secret that Frank wants to be a head coach again. He had a fairly successful run with the Nets that stretched over seven seasons before coming to a screeching halt when the Nets began the year 0-16 in 2009-10. That said as much about New Jersey’s talent as Frank’s abilities as a coach.
In his one season with the Celtics, Frank was tasked with operating the team’s defense. They ranked first in fewest points allowed, second in field goal percentage defense and were in a virtual tie with the Bulls in terms of points per 100 possessions. He also had a solid rapport with the veteran players — no easy task.
It has been assumed that Frank would return if he couldn’t get a head-coaching job but the Celtics may have competition for his services.
The Knicks have been casting about for a defensive-minded assistant and Newsday’s Alan Hahn reports that Frank would be a good fit as he and head coach Mike D’Antoni have a good relationship and — unlike many coaches — he wouldn’t be bothered by working for a coach in the last year of his contract. Additionally, Hahn notes that Frank’s wife and daughters stayed in New Jersey while he was working in Boston.
Like head coach Doc Rivers, all of Boston’s assistants were working on one-year contracts last season. Team president Danny Ainge noted that while he expected Frank to get offers, the team would have interest in bringing him back.
|Report: Lawrence Frank interviews with Pistons||06.16.11 at 2:05 pm ET|
When the season ended the Celtics expected assistant Lawrence Frank to land one of the available head coaching jobs in the offseason. Frank was passed over by the Warriors and Rockets but is still in contention for two jobs. Frank has been identified as one of the finalists in Toronto, along with Dallas assistant Dwane Casey.
Frank may also have a shot with the Pistons. ESPN’s Marc Stein cited sources that had Frank interviewing with Detroit on Wednesday. Former Hawks coach Mike Woodson has also interviewed and Bucks assistant Kevin Sampson is also expected to get an interview as is Casey.
|Fast Break: Celtics win but lose Shaquille O’Neal (again)||04.03.11 at 8:22 pm ET|
The pregame optimism that hovered around the Celtics disappeared early in the first half when Shaquille O’Neal limped off the court with what the team is calling a strained right calf. Shaq didn’t return and there was no further update provided. His future is uncertain at best. The good news for the Celtics is that Nenad Krstic‘s knee injury is much less serious than first feared and there’s a chance he can return by Tuesday.
As for the game, the Celtics got a much-needed 101-90 win over Detroit to stay tied with Miami in the loss column for second place in the East. They built a double-digit lead in the second half and had some anxious moments, but were able to hold off a Detroit team that is playing out the string.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Nenad Krstic will be back soon: The best news the Celtics received over the weekend is that Krstic suffered a bone bruise and didn’t do any further damage to his right knee. Krstic said that he hoped to return to the lineup on Tuesday when the Celtics host the 76ers. He has some pain in his knee and there is swelling, but all things considered this couldn’t have worked out better for him or the team.
Three of the big four isn’t bad: Paul Pierce scored 22 points, Kevin Garnett had 23 points and eight rebounds and Rajon Rondo dished out 14 assists. Now the Celtics just need to get Ray Allen going. They ran their first play for him and he got a wide-open jumper, but Allen later collided with Rip Hamilton and had to leave the game early in the first quarter. He finished with 13 points, but on just six shots.
Delonte West is doing everything the Celtics hoped he would: Delonte West had a lot of expectations to live up to when he returned from his wrist and ankle injuries, but he’s surpassed them most nights. West had one of his better all-around games with 10 points and five assists, while playing the kind of strong defense at two positions the Celtics desperately need.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Shaquille O’Neal’s return didn’t last long: For five minutes of the first quarter, Shaquille O’Neal was back on the court and all was well. But when he pulled up lame at midcourt and hobbled off, the Celtics were right back where they started in regards to the Big Fella. The team is calling a strained right calf.
Too many turnovers: The Celtics shot 62 percent in the first half and held the Pistons to 41 percent shooting, but they had only a one-point lead. The problem was too many turnovers. They had 11 in the half and seven in the second quarter alone. That kept the Pistons in the game.
|Preview: Celtics at Pistons||11.02.10 at 12:53 am ET|
Strange things happened to the Celtics when they went into Detroit last year.
Desperately needing a win on March 2, the Celtics relied on Nate Robinson in the fourth quarter to pull it out instead of Rajon Rondo. The Fast Break posted that night had Rasheed Wallace as the Player of the Game for his defensive effort.
In a 92-86 loss on Jan. 20, Glen Davis swore at a heckler in a very quiet arena and was later fined $25,000.
What awaits the Celtics this season? From the looks of things a mediocre and slightly disjointed basketball team. Rondey Stuckey remains the point guard, although the Pistons just let the deadline pass to sign him to a extension. Rip Hamilton still starts at the other guard, while the younger and more talented Ben Gordon comes off the bench. Tayshaun Prince is an expiring contract and Tracy McGrady is getting minutes.
Still, the Pistons have some interesting young players such as Austin Daye who is now starting and rookie center Greg Monroe, who has yet to crack the rotation. Detroit is a team in transition, with enough proven veterans to make a run at one of the final playoff spots, but also a team with several young players to develop.
The Pistons have dropped their first three games of the season by a total of 14 points and would love to get a win. For the Celtics, this game has trap written all over it.
It’s the first night of a five games in seven days stretch with a back-to-back coming Wednesday against the Bucks at the Garden. They are not expecting to have Shaquille O’Neal and will likely insert Jermaine O’Neal into the starting center spot with rookie Semih Erden backing him up. They also struggled to close out the Cavaliers in their first road game, another also-ran Central Division team that is somewhere between rebuilding and competing.
Offensive Rating: 99.6 (23rd)
Defensive Rating: 98.1 (5th)
Pace: 93.7 (21st)
Offensive Rating: 103.3 (15th)
Defensive Rating: 108.3 (21st)
Pace: 94.5 (17th)
KEY MATCHUP: Pierce vs. Prince
In 2008-09, Prince held Pierce to 15.5 points over four games. That was the lowest per-game average Pierce had against any team other than the Clippers and Grizzlies.
The year before, Pierce again scored just 15 points a night in three games against the Pistons while shooting just 37 percent. Pierce has the same effect on Prince who shot below 40 percent against him those two seasons. Their matchup cooled a bit last season while Pierce was battling injuries and Prince missed one of the games entirely, but it’s still one of the better small forward battles in the East.
Prince’s length has been a problem for Pierce over the years, but he is off to a quietly efficient start to this season, averaging 19 points a game and making 8-of-12 from 3-point range. The focus has been on Pierce’s rebounding after he grabbed 14 boards against the Knicks, but the Celtics need his shooting more while Ray Allen works out his shot (6-for-18 from 3) and Nate Robinson tries to get untracked (1-for-9).
It’s not exactly the most enjoyable matchup to watch, but it should be a good one.
KEY NUMBER: 3-point shooting
The Pistons have bee defensively-challenged in their first three games, giving up over 100 points in all three games, but they have defended the arc well, allowing only 28 percent shooting.
The Celtics, with the notable exception of Pierce, have struggled from beyond the arc and need to start making some shots to take the pressure off the inside game. Take Pierce out of the equation and they have made just 25 percent of their 3’s (8-for-32).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Detroit is desperate for win and the Celtics would like to get through a road game and get Jermaine O’Neal on track.
These two teams never quite renewed their rivalry for the modern era. They battled throughout the Celtics championship year of 2007-08, but the Pistons fell of quickly once they traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson.
Still, these two teams have history and you never know, maybe Sheed will show up.
|Finley just making ‘the most of it’||03.15.10 at 11:26 pm ET|
Most impressive was how smooth Finley made it look. He missed just once in seven field goal attempts, making the most of his 13-plus minutes off the bench.
‘I work out,” Finley said. “I try to work out every day where I have confidence in my game. Whenever my number is called, I just want to be prepared. Tonight was just an example of that. My teammates just got me in good positions to make plays and I just made the most of it.
‘I’m still trying to find my way in. This team was a good one before I got here. I just want to come in and help them be a better team. If that’s possible, I’m all for it.’
On Sunday in Cleveland, the bench struggled mightily, with Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels held scoreless. On Monday, thanks to the early fire shown by Finley, the bench exploded for 61 points, including 13 for Davis and 11 for Daniels.
‘It’s always good to win, especially coming off the performance we had in Cleveland,” Finley said. “It always good to get that winning taste back in your mouth and show each other what it takes to win ball games, despite the opponent.’
‘Yeah, because I didn’t know what to expect, honestly,” Rivers said. “You know he hadn’t played a lot this year with San Antonio and he wasn’t making shots. I just don’t believe a guy can forget how to shoot. So we thought if we could get him in here and get him some looks, you know give him a chance to make some shots, they would go in. But, yeah, even his passing, just little things he does on the floor, he’s been great.’
Wallace had a simple message for Finley on Monday – keep it simple and I’ll find you on the court.
“I’ve seen it in college when he was at Wisconsin, and you know for the few teams he played with here in the league, I know what type of player Fin is,” ‘Sheed said. “That’s one thing I told him when he first came here, when were out there in that second unit, I’m going to swing you the ball, just basic basketball. I’m going to come over set the pick, you can either come off for the shot, drop it off, or just play basketball and make that next pass.’
More to the point, Finley, if he continues to play like he did Monday night, makes the Celtics’ bench that much more difficult to match up against come playoff time.
‘It gives us another guy where you have to step up,” Wallace said. “And I say that from an offensive standpoint, you know guys will have to respect Fin’s jump shot and driving ability, and that pretty much leaves all the post players open for a one on one.’
‘He’s a veteran,” added Daniels. “He’s a shooter. That’s something he does, it’s like riding a bike. He knows how to shoot the ball and he does it well.’
|Preview: Celtics-Pistons||at 9:29 am ET|
At this point in the season, where do the Celtics rank in relation to the other top teams in the NBA? They can no longer be considered one of the elite teams. Their record indicates that they are the fourth-best team in the East and their point-differential ranks eighth in the league. That’s good, but hardly championship-caliber.
The difference between the Celtics and the Hawks may not be that great, but the difference between them and Orlando is growing and the Cavaliers might as well be on another planet. This can all change of course, but while the Celtics are reeling, teams like the Magic, Nuggets, and even those old and gray Spurs are getting better.
Matchups will determine a great deal once we get into April and May, but right now, in mid-March, this team looks more like an outsider than a contender.
PISTONS (23-43, 2-8 last 10)
Points Per Game: 93.4
Points Allowed: 97.9
Differential: -4.5 (26th)
Offensive Efficiency: 104.5 (23rd)
Defensive Efficiency: 109.6 (21st)
Pace: 88.8 (29th)
CELTICS (41-24, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 98.4
Points Allowed: 94.2
Differential: +4.2 (8th)
Offensive Efficiency: 106.8 (17th)
Defensive Efficiency: 102.3 (1st)
Pace: 91.7 (22nd)
Injuries: None. Read the rest of this entry »
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