|Doc Rivers: Rajon Rondo, Big Baby and other things that made the Celtics super on Sunday||02.07.11 at 1:47 pm ET|
For many reasons, the first 12 minutes and 59 seconds didn’t start out very well for the Celtics on Sunday.
There was Orlando jumping out to a 12-2 lead as Dwight Howard dominated. There was Glen Davis leaving a mark in the parquet with the back of his head, suffering a bruised skull. But as he returned to the bench to start the second quarter, that paled in comparison to the bruise to the spinal cord of Marquis Daniels as he ran into the chest of Gilbert Arenas and fell suddenly to the floor.
Things were just completely out of whack. But then it was Rajon Rondo‘s time to take over the game. And did he ever. Immediately after kneeling to check on the well-being of Daniels, Rondo came out of the delay and drove to the basket for a lay-up exactly 20 seconds later that energized the crowd and – more importantly – his teammates. He was on his way to a season-high 26 points.
So, what was the difference in his point guard Sunday?
‘Well, after ‘ you mean after the first six minutes of horrendous basketball from our team?” Rivers replied rhetorically. It just looked like the first six minutes, we were there to play basketball but I thought they were really invested into the game. And you know, why that changed I don’t know, but it was good. We went to an open set which we rarely do. I just didn’t see us with any ‘ we didn’t have anything going.
“And Jameer [Nelson] picked up that one foul and we just decided to go basically open spread. And we told Rondo to get to the rim, and, you know, use his instincts. He’ll find open guys.’
The Celtics went with a spread offense that allowed more lanes for Rondo to drive to the basket and create off the dribble.
‘Well it really depends on the game,” Rivers said. “I want him to be aggressive every game. We’re not going to run spread every game because it doesn’t make a lot of sense every night. We’d like to match up with him, especially Jameer wanted to stay on the floor because of his fouls, but that is how we want him to take the ball to the basket.
“Whenever he does go, we want him to go with power and speed and be willing to get fouled. And I thought over everything that was it. Obviously he made great shots and all that. I just liked the fact that he had no problem if he got fouled.’
Then there were the 21 missed 3-pointers by the Magic, who missed 61-of-93 shots. After the Celtics allowed the Mavericks to beat them on 8-of-17 shooting from long range, Rivers realized early his team was committed to not allowing that again.
Rivers asked for prayers for Davis and Semih Erden, who drew the assignment of guarding Dwight Howard when Kendrick Perkins was forced to the bench to rest. Those prayers were essentially answered in the form of a 91-80 win. Yes, Howard ate up Big Baby, Perkins and Erden for 22 points in the first half. But he had just six points in the second half as the Celtics put on the defense clamps, led by Davis’ ball denial in the post.
‘Phenomenal,” Rivers said of the effort. “Great defense. I think any time you lose a game where you think you broke your principals and defensively you were not right, then the next time you play if you’re a defensive team, you’re probably going to have a good defensive effort. And I thought we did that. I said this with Baby and Perk, it was a test for them.
“It was tough because we were going to leave them on an island and Dwight had it going early. And we just kept telling them, ‘We’re doing the right thing. Just keep doing it.’ And that was tough for them, and the fact that they stayed with it and stayed on it was good.’
|Delonte West plans to return Feb. 22||02.06.11 at 6:23 pm ET|
In the aftermath of the Celtics‘ 91-80 win over the Eastern Conference rival Magic on Sunday afternoon, Delonte West said he plans to return from his wrist injury on Feb. 22 against the Warriors in Oakland.
“Righ now, they think I’ll be back the first game after the All-Star break,” said West, adding that he will be returning to full-contact practice soon.
West hasn’t played since breaking his right wrist against the Nets on Nov. 24. The Celtics’ reserve guard played just five games after serving a 10-game suspension to open the season for a weapons charge . He averaged 6.8 points and 2.0 assists in 17.6 minutes in those games.
After recently getting his cast removed, West has participated in non-contact drills at practice in addition to shooting prior to games.
As for Sunday’s game action, West expressed concern for Marquis Daniels, who suffered a bruised spine and is expected to miss a month. West also said of Rajon Rondo, who scored a season-high 26 points: “In my opinion, Rondo is the best point guard in the NBA, but I guess you’ll have to leave that to the experts.”
|Fast Break: Celtics silence Magic||at 5:16 pm ET|
After an opening 15 minutes that was both scary and sloppy, the Celtics rallied to put away the Magic, 91-80, led by a season-high 26 points by Rajon Rondo. The C’s won the season series against their Eastern Conference rivals, 2-1.
Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels both hit the ground hard on separate first-half instances. Davis (head bruise) returned. Daniels (neck injury) did not. Meanwhile, the Celtics made only five field goals in the first 15 minutes and trailed by as much as nine points.
Rondo added seven assists, as the Celtics improved their East-leading record to 38-12. Ray Allen (11 points) made 2-of-4 3-pointers on the afternoon to bring himself within four of breaking Reggie Miller‘s all-time record. Howard recorded game-highs of 28 points and 13 rebounds in a losing effort for the Magic (32-20).
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Rallying around Marquis Daniels: Just as they did in a comeback win over the Nets when Delonte West broke his wrist, the Celtics rallied around an injured member of the team. Daniels left with the scary neck injury 59 seconds into the second quarter, when the C’s trailed 24-17. Over the next 19:37 — stretching late into the third quarter — the C’s outscored the Magic by 22 points.
Rondo playing aggressive: Led by a concerted effort by Rondo to get to the rim, the Celtics earned (a rare) 34 trips to the free-throw line. They even made 28 of them (82.4 percent). Entering the game shooting just 51.6 percent from the charity stripe, Rondo made seven of his nine free-throw attempts (Paul Pierce made 10-of-12). The Celtics point guard also converted seven layups around the hoop. Rondo’s effort throughout the game helped the C’s stay in a game when their outside shooting wasn’t as sharp as normal.
Defense: As they did against Kobe Bryant in their win over the Lakers, the Celtics appeared content allowing Howard to pile up buckets as long as Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson & Co. didn’t also heat up. The plan worked, thanks to the efforts of Pierce and Allen on the latter two Magicians.
The Celtics held the Magic to 43 first-half points. Howard scored 22 points on 9-of-14 (64.3 percent) shooting from the field entering the break, while the rest of the team was just 9-of-36 (25 percent). In all, Orlando shot 32-of-93 from the field (34.4 percent) and 3-of-24 from 3-point range (12.5 percent), despite Howard’s 10-of-20 shooting on the afternoon.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Marquis Daniels goes down: Colliding with Gilbert Arenas around the rim, Daniels fell to the floor and lay motionless on the parquet for what seemed like forever. As paramedics brought out a stretcher and strapped Daniels in, the Garden crowd stood deathly quiet. Daniels was conscious and talking as he was taken to New England Baptist Hospital. He reportedly later moved all extremities and will be Ok.
Glen Davis also hit the floor hard in the first quarter, taking a charge against Magic point guard Jameer Nelson of all people. Davis walked with team Dr. Brian McKeon. Shortly afterwards, the Celtics announced Davis suffered a “head bruise” and would return. He did, to start the second quarter.
Shooting: The Celtics made only four first-quarter field goals and did not hit a 3-point shot until Allen knocked down his third attempt with 4:09 left in the second quarter. In all, the C’s made just 14-of-33 shots (42.4 percent) in the first half.
Subtract Rondo and Garnett (a combined 8-of-14) from the equation in that opening 24 minutes, and the rest of the C’s were shooting just 31.6 percent entering the break. They rallied to shoot 16-of-30 in the second half for a 47.6 percent clip for the game.
Taking care of the ball: Whether it was the Sunday afternoon start or anticipation for the Super Bowl, the Celtics looked extremely sloppy to start the game, committing six first-quarter turnovers. That number declined to an average of three over the next three quarters.
|Doc Rivers plan for his four All-Stars||02.04.11 at 12:19 am ET|
Before the announcement that the Celtics would have four All-Stars was made official, Doc Rivers joked that he would play the four of them together with whatever player was closest to free agency, “Just so they could see how it feels.” So, get ready Dwight Howard to run with Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
For only the ninth time in NBA history, one team will have four representatives in the All-Star Game. Not surprisingly, the Celtics have done it more than any other teams (four), but to underscore how rare an achievement it actually is, no Celtics team has done it since 1975 when Paul Silas, JoJo White, John Havlicek and Dave Cowens all went together.
“I think it says that the coaches in the league recognize team basketball,” Rivers said.
The team aspect is what has come to define the 2010-11 Celtics. Pierce, Allen and Garnett each average between 11-13 shots per game and 15-19 points. That no one player dominates the scoring is what makes them so successful. An opposing team can try to take one of them out of the equation, but that just opens the door for one of the others.
The Celtics shoot the highest percentage in the league and have the third most assists. Those two things are not a coincidence. Without Rondo to operate the machine they often sputter. Rondo may not be the “best point guard in the NBA,” but he may be the one who can run the Celtics better than anyone else.
If one of them is out, it alters the chemistry just enough to make the Celtics slightly less menacing. “That’s what makes it so difficult,” Rivers said when asked which one was the hardest to replace. “Any one guy that’s out, it hurts our team. We’re so together as a group. There’s not one guy ‘ one guy out affects the entire team.”
The Celtics are where they are with the best record in the Eastern Conference because they have learned how to adjust with one of them is injured. But their championship credentials rely on having them all together.
|Four Celtics headed for All-Star Game||02.03.11 at 7:13 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo were all named to the 2011 NBA All-Star Game on Thursday night, joining head coach Doc Rivers on the Eastern Conference team. It’s the ninth time in NBA history that four teammates have been named to one squad, and the first since 2006 when the Pistons had four. The Celtics have done it three times ‘ 1953, 1962 and 1975.
|Doc Rivers makes his case for 4 Celtics as All-Stars||at 4:04 pm ET|
WALTHAM — After getting snubbed by the fans and being left without a single All-Star starter, the Celtics could get their retribution when All-Star reserves are announced Thursday night.
The Celtics have four viable candidates in Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. By virtue of having the top record in the Eastern Conference, Doc Rivers will have the honor of coaching the East All-Stars on Feb. 20 in Los Angeles.
“I think I should get four guys on the roster,” Rivers said following practice Thursday. “If I don’t, I’d be very disappointed and if I do, I’ll just play them all together. That way we can run offense in the All-Star Game. That’d be a first.”
The Detroit Pistons had four All-Stars on the Eastern squad in 2006 but it is very rare for one team – no matter how good their record – to place four players on a team.
“If it happens, and let’s hope it happens, then my choice will be who will be the fifth, Some interesting combinations you can throw out,” said Rivers, before adding who he might throw out onto the court with his four players.
“Whoever is closest to free agency just so they can see how it would feel. I think it should happen. It’s clear. It’d be nice. You look at the four guys, all of them have really sacrificed their individual numbers for team wins and sometimes that’s held against them and I hope it’s not in this case.”
Celtics center Kendrick Perkins joined the Dale & Holley show Thursday afternoon and talked about his early return from knee surgery. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
“I just put in a lot of hard work,” he explained. “Every day I was in here making sure I was getting my physical therapy in, making sure I was in the weight room every day. I just wanted to get back. I wanted to get back the smart way.”
Perkins acknowledged that he has a ways to go before he returns to form. “There’s a few times around the basket where I’m used to just catching it and going up and dunking,” he said. “My lift is not all the way there yet.”
Perkins said he’s pleased with the minutes he’s been getting since coming back. “I can’t complain,” he said. “I’m happy to be back out there. I’m playing a lot right now. So, I can’t complain one bit. I know one thing about Doc [Rivers], he’s going to look out for my best interests. But he also wants to win games. So, if I’m not producing, I should come out. But I feel like if I’m producing out there, then just leave me out there. I think he’s gradually starting to play me a little bit more and more. So it’s cool.”
The absence of Perkins in the first half of the season was made easier for the Celtics with the play of Shaquille O’Neal. “I think he’s brought a lot,” Perkins said. “Obviously, he’s given us depth. For a 38-year-old man, he’s playing well. He’s fit right on in with us. The chemistry is great. Obviously, you know everything about his basketball ‘ he’s physical, he’s intimidating and all this. So, I think he brings a lot to the team. A lot.”
Perkins called Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo “divas” when they gave him a hard time about signing a poster for him. He was asked to elaborate on that comment. “Divas are like people who want things a certain way ‘ their way ‘ all the time. That’s what divas are,” he said. “They want their socks laid out a certain way or something of that nature. That’s why I called them divas. They want their own seat on the bench and stuff like that. They give a teammate and a friend that they’ve known for years trouble about signing a poster for me. That’s divas ‘ just giving me a hard time, but they know they’re really going to do it, but they’ve got to give you a hard time first.”
Ray Allen ripped into the second unit at halftime of Tuesday’s victory over the Kings. Perkins said he was surprised but pleased with the veteran’s rare outburst. “I was very shocked,” Perkins said. “Because you know, Ray is a guy who very seldom shows emotions. I think he’s always one of the most poised guys on the team. So, he was very frustrated at halftime, and he had a reason to be. I actually was shocked, but I actually was like, ‘Yeah, Ray!’ I loved it. First I thought it was KG when I walked in. But it was Ray, so I was loving it.”
Perkins was injured in Game 6 of the 2010 finals and did not play in Game 7 as the Lakers rallied for the win. Asked if he thinks the Celtics would have won the title had he been healthy, he said: “I think so. I know one thing ‘ we probably wouldn’t have gotten outrebounded by 20. So, I believe so.”
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