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Preview: Celtics vs. Nets 02.05.10 at 9:35 am ET
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This, ladies and gentlemen, is the NBA version of the dreaded trap game. On the face of things, there is no conceivable reason why the Celtics should lose to the Nets. But when you factor in the absence of Paul Pierce, the nationally televised showdown with the Magic looming on Super Bowl Sunday and the fact that the All-Star beak is right around the corner, this is the kind of effort and focus game everyone has spent so much time talking about.

The Celtics are beginning to get on a nice little role. They’ve won two straight and should make it three against New Jersey. That would give them a chance to calm down all the rumors and innuendo, and there is nothing the veterans on this team like more than calm. A loss would bring all those distractions back into play.

NETS (4-44, 1-9 last 10)

Points Per Game: 90.0

Points Allowed: 101.7

Differential: -11.7 (30th)

Offensive Efficiency: 97.5 (30th)

Defensive Efficiency: 110.2 (27th)

Pace: 92.2 (17th)

Likely Starters: Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez

Injuries: None

CELTICS (31-16, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.3

Points Allowed: 93.8

Differential: +5.6 (3rd)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.8 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.8 (1st)

Pace: 91.5 (22nd)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Tony Allen Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (Thumb), Paul Pierce (Foot) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Nets, Preview,
Preview: Celtics-Heat 02.03.10 at 10:37 am ET
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The great Paul Pierce foot watch of 2010 began not with a Tweet from Shelden Williams, but with a report from respected NBA writer David Aldridge.

Taken on its own a Twitter update that reads: Man when it rains it pours!!! Yall find out what I mean soon!!!! could mean just about anything, besides a comical over-use of exclamation points. Taken with Aldridge’s nebulous report that Pierce “may have a broken foot,” suddenly one little Tweet takes on a whole new signifigance. Attempts to blame Williams in particular, and Twitter in general, for causing a firestorm are off the mark.

No doubt someone told Aldridge something at 4:51 p.m., but the fact that the doctor attending to Pierce had not yet examined the medical records, and the fact that the tests were not even completed, should have given him pause and allowed the process to play out as it should have in the first place. There are still many questions regarding Pierce’s health, but until he speaks on the matter, everything should be taken with a huge grain of salt.

CELTICS (30-16, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.1

Points Allowed: 93.7

Differential: +5.6 (3rd)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.5 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.6 (1st)

Pace: 91.6 (22nd)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce (Foot, questionable) Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (Thumb)

HEAT (24-24, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 96.8

Points Allowed: 96.4

Differential: +.4 (15th)

Offensive Efficiency: 106.6 (16th)

Defensive Efficiency: 106.1 (12th)

Pace: 90.7 (28th)

Likely Starters: Rafer Alston, Dwyane Wade, Quentin Richardson, Michael Beasley, Joel Anthony

Injuries: Jermaine O’€™Neal (Back spasms; questionable), Mario Chalmers (Thumb) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Heat, Preview,
Preview: Celtics-Wizards 02.01.10 at 10:49 am ET
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There once was a time when the Washington Wizards represented a direct challenge for the Celtics so great that some around the team were relieved when the C’s matched up with the Cavaliers in the second round of the 2008 playoffs rather than the Wiz. Things have changed a little bit since then, and whatever hold the Wizards used to have on the Celtics is long gone.

Of course there was also a time when it was a given that the Celtics would walk into a bad team’s arena and come away with a win whenever it was deemed necessary. This is one of those times. It’s one thing to lose against elite teams on the road. It’s another to lose a one-point heartbreaker against what is probably the best team in the league. But if the Celtics are going to pull themselves out of their funk, it has to start tonight.

CELTICS (29-16, 3-7 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.1

Points Allowed: 93.8

Differential: +5.4 (3rd)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.5 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.7 (1st)

Pace: 91.6 (22nd)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (thumb)

WIZARDS (16-30, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 98.2

Points Allowed: 102.0

Differential: -3.8 (23rd)

Offensive Efficiency: 105.3 (22nd)

Defensive Efficiency: 109.3 (23rd)

Pace: 92.4 (16th)

Likely Starters: Randy Foye, Mike Miller, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood

Injuries: None. Read the rest of this entry »

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Preview: Celtics-Hawks 01.29.10 at 10:18 am ET
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Kevin Garnett insisted to one and all Thursday night that he wasn’t hurt and that he just played like a euphemism for garbage. Certainly Garnett is entitled to an off night just three games into his comeback, but the problem is that no one really believes him.

Because of the way his comeback ended last season and because of the way his injuries were handled this season (10 days, 10 more days, etc.), he and the Celtics, frankly, don’t have a lot of credibility on the issue. However, Garnett had a string of lackluster performances earlier in the season where he looked slow and old and then rebounded to play his best stretch in over a calendar year. So, perhaps there’s hope that Thursday was just a momentary blip.

We should find out a lot Friday night when the Celtics play the Hawks and Garnett matches up against what should be a highly-motivated Josh Smith. Not only is it the second game of a back-to-back, but Garnett will be facing a player who is a decade younger and who should be (justifiably) ticked that he was left off the All-Star team. If you’re on the KG watch, it starts tonight.

CELTICS (29-14, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.6

Points Allowed: 93.7

Differential: +5.9 (3rd)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.9 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.6 (1st)

Pace: 91.6 (22nd)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (thumb)

HAWKS (29-15, 7-3 last 10)

Points Per Game: 102.6

Points Allowed: 97.3

Differential: +5.3 (Fifth)

Offensive Efficiency: 111.9 (3rd)

Defensive Efficiency: 106.1 (12th)

Pace: 91.1 (25th)

Likely Starters: Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Al Horford

Injuries: None Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Hawks, Preview,
Preview: Celtics-Magic 01.28.10 at 10:31 am ET
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During the course of a long season it is customary for players and coaches to downplay significant games on the schedule. In the matter of the Celtics‘ three-game stretch that begins tonight in Orlando, continues Friday in Atlanta and concludes back home on Sunday against the Lakers, a curious thing has happened. Everyone connected with the Celtics seems to view these games as meaningful and important.

“We understand that these are three great games to be able to play,” Doc Rivers said Wednesday on Dennis & Callahan. “Coaches look forward to them and players look forward to them as well. Once they’€™re over then they become one of the 82. There’€™s no doubt that players look forward to them.”

Danny Ainge also acknowledged their importance. “I think it will tell us a lot about our depth, our conditioning and the quality of our play right now,” he said on The Big Show.

Each game has its own personality. The Magic offer the most compelling 1-through-5 matchups, while the Hawks present their in-season mastery of the Celtics as a hurdle to climb. The Lakers provide their own drama, of course. This is not a make-or-break stretch for the Celtics by any means, but it will reveal something about who they are and where they are going.

CELTICS (29-13, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.7

Points Allowed: 93.7

Differential: +6.0 (3rd)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.9 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.4 (1st)

Pace: 91.7 (22nd)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (thumb), Brian Scalabrine (shoulder)

MAGIC (29-16, 505 last 10)

Points Per Game: 101.1

Points Allowed: 96.3

Differential: +4.8 (7th)

Offensive Efficiency: 108.4 (11th)

Defensive Efficiency: 103.2 (5th)

Pace: 93.1 (12th)

Likely Starters: Jameer Nelson, Matt Barnes, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard

Injuries: None Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Magic, Preview,
Preview: Celtics-Clippers 01.25.10 at 10:39 am ET
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The second half of the season begins with what might be the most important week the Celtics will have in the regular season. They start with the Clippers but then run through a back-to-back session with Orlando and Atlanta and finish with a home showdown against the Lakers on Sunday afternoon.

With Kevin Garnett back in the lineup, it’s time to seriously consider how good the Celtics are, and whether Danny Ainge needs to make a move to shore up the roster for the stretch run. How well they do this week, and how well Garnett holds up, should help fill in some of the blanks in terms of what this team needs.

The two primary areas of concern are turnovers and defensive rebounding. They have lived with being a high-turnover team in the past, mainly because they shoot the ball so well and they have also been among the best teams in the league in rebounding. They still are a great shooting team, but by giving away so many possessions, and failing to recover them on the defensive end, their shooting isn’t the cure-all that it’s been in the past. For that reason, another big man would probably make sense, but there aren’t any P.J. Browns out there right now.

Tonight’s game is a chance to provide some breathing room in what will be an arduous test.

CLIPPERS (20-23, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 96.2

Points Allowed: 98.7

Differential: -2.5 (20th)

Offensive Efficiency: 104.5 (23rd)

Defensive Efficiency: 107.3 (18th)

Pace: 91.8 (20th)

Likely Starters: Baron Davis, Rasual Butler, Al Thornton, Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman

Injuries: Eric Gordon (toe, questionable), Blake Griffin (knee), Sebastian Telfair (groin).

CELTICS (28-13, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.8

Points Allowed: 93.8

Differential: +6.0 (Third)

Offensive Efficiency: 108.1 (12th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.6 (Second)

Pace: 91.6 (22nd)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (thumb) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Clippers, Preview,
Preview: Celtics-Blazers 01.22.10 at 10:21 am ET
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Kevin Garnett’s return, if it happens tonight, couldn’t come at a better time for the Celtics. But for Garnett personally, the timing couldn’t be worse. The Celtics have problems right now ranging from the physical to the mental. Garnett can help fix some of those things but he can’t do it all in one night, and it wouldn’t be a good idea to ask him to try.

Garnett hasn’t played since the end of 2009, or just over three weeks ago, and during that time he apparently did no conditioning before this week, according to the team. It will take him a week’s worth of action, at least, to get back in rhythm and game-condition. The end game isn’t for the Celtics to get out of their swoon, it’s to be functioning on all cylinders in April, May and June.

All that said, if he does play tonight, his mere presence can have a galvanizing effect on a team that has grown stale. Just don’t expect him to solve all the Celtics problems yet.

TRAIL BLAZERS (26-17, 6-4 last 10)

Points Per Game: 97.7

Points Allowed: 94.2

Differential: +3.5 (Eighth)

Offensive Efficiency: 111.0 (Fifth)

Defensive Efficiency: 107.1 (17th)

Pace: 87.4 (30th)

Likely Starters: Andre Miller, Jerryd Bayless, Martell Webster, LaMarcus Aldridge, Juwan Howard

Injuries: Brandon Roy (hamstring), Nicolas Batum (shoulder), Greg Oden (knee), Joel Przybilla (knee), Travis Outlaw (foot)

CELTICS (27-13, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.9

Points Allowed: 93.8

Differential: +6.1 (Third)

Offensive Efficiency: 108.2 (11th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.6 (Third)

Pace: 91.8 (21st)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Kevin Garnett (hyper-extended knee), Marquis Daniels (thumb) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Blazers, Celtics, Preview,
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