|How close is that corner?||03.14.10 at 11:03 pm ET|
The Celtics repeatedly have mentioned ‘turning a corner’ to get back on a winning track. But with 17 games left in the regular season, how far away is that corner?
‘I don’t know, maybe 17 blocks,’ Rajon Rondo guesstimated on Friday. ‘It should be the same zip code.’
Doc Rivers said he has felt his team getting closer, including at times during Sunday’s loss to the Cavaliers. ‘I told our guys, it’s frustrating for me because I could see in a lot of ways how close we are to breaking out and to being really good,’ he told reporters after the game. But the Celtics trailed the Cavs by as many as 17 in the fourth quarter and lost for the third time in four games.
The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 contests, a stretch that included a three-game winning streak and a pair of two-game skids. Ray Allen understands the regular season can be a series of ups and downs, the reason why he thinks that corner isn’t that distant.
‘I live on an island. I don’t have blocks or anything in the country,’ Ray Allen said. ‘Any time you have to turn a corner, the corner is a block away. It’s just a block away because once you do something well, you feel like you’ve turned a corner. So it’s never that far away. Just like when you’re good, you’re just teeter-tottering on being bad, vice versa.’
|Third Quarter Wrap: Celtics vs. Wizards||03.07.10 at 10:00 pm ET|
If the Celtics are going to take back this game, they have just 12 more minutes to do so. They trail 66-62 after three quarters.
The C’s struggled to piece together a total team effort coming out of halftime. Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins were the only players to score for the first 5:49 of the quarter. The C’s also went scoreless during a 3:45 stretch in which the Wizards pushed their lead up to 11 points.
Ray Allen gave the Celtics a spark midway through the quarter with a pair of 3s. Then it was Rajon Rondo’s turn. He scored seven points two minutes to bring the Celtics back within four.
The Celtics have momentum heading into the fourth, but they still have to dig themselves out of a deficit. They are 7-14 when trailing after three quarters.
|Third Quarter Wrap: Celtics vs. 76ers||03.05.10 at 8:50 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo was quiet in the first half. But once he finally scored in the third, he didn’t stop. Rondo scored 14 points in just over eight minutes. He and Kevin Garnett combined for all but six of the Celtics points in the quarter.
The Celtics have their largest lead, 74-67, going into the final 12 minutes. They did not commit a single turnover in the third. Garnett and Ray Allen are tied with a game-high 16 points. Elton Brand still leads the 76ers with 15 points.
The C’s are 31-7 this season when leading or tied after three quarters.
|Nate’s learning curve||03.01.10 at 2:48 pm ET|
The initial fanfare over Nate Robinson’s arrival in Boston has simmered down and now the newest Celtic is simply trying to dig in and digest everything, especially the team’s defensive scheme.
“It’s getting there,” Robinson said. “I’m trying to figure out this defensive playbook that’s pretty crazy. The offense is going to come easy. For me and Marcus [Landry] everything is coming at us fast. It’s like in baseball, they put you other and say, ‘Hit a 100 miles an hour fastball.’ It’s like, How do I do that? You just got to keep playing and keep working.”
While Robinson adjusts to Tom Thibodeau’s scheme, with its emphasis on fighting over screens, help defense and constant communication, Doc Rivers had tried to help Robinson feel more comfortable offensively by incorporating a handful of plays from Mike D’Antoni’s Knicks offense.
“It’s kind of cool, because I’ve got to be out there trying to coach it,” Robinson said. “They like the offense that we showed them and we’re trying to run with it. I know when I’m in I’m going to be calling that play 99.9 percent of the time. I’m going to be real comfortable with that.”
Rivers has also utilized Robinson in a backcourt tandem with Rajon Rondo at times. That is something of a league-wide trend to have teams play two quick point guards together to take advantage of the NBA’s rules changes outlawing hand-checks on the perimeter.
It’s an intriguing lineup, but Rivers isn’t quite sold on it yet because of the size aspect, but in limited bursts a Rondo-Robinson backcourt could be a game-changer once both players get comfortable. “It’s a good combination,” Rivers said. “It’s not one I love because it makes us really small, obviously.”
Robinson himself noted that he is treading lightly. “You can’t really rush things like this.”
Like everything else with the Celtics these days, it’s just going to take time for them to get things right.
|LeBron: Rondo has made ‘The Board’||02.26.10 at 2:39 pm ET|
Before every game, NBA coaches and their assistants place the names of players to contain on a board as part of the game plan.
But it’s obvious now that they need to add a fourth name: Rajon Rondo.
He showed why in the first quarter on Thursday night, with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor and six assists as the Celtics raced out to a 31-21 lead. James stopped short of saying Rondo has become the most important Celtic but not by much.
“I don’t know if I can say that,” James began. “When you scout for Boston, there are certain guys that make that board before the game, these type of guys you have to stop and he’s one of those guys.
“First couple of years here in Boston, he wasn’t on that board. He was fast point guard, you have to get back but other than that you didn’t talk about him, you didn’t talk about Rondo.”
[Click here to hear LeBron talk about Rondo.]
Rondo earned his first All-Star berth this winter and players like King James have taken note.
“Last year, he made a name for himself and he makes that board when you’re talking about, ‘This is what we’re doing again Paul, this is what we’re doing against Ray and this is what we’re doing against KG and this is what we’re doing against Rondo.’ When you make that board, you’re definitely a very good player.”
As for whether Rondo can get the Celtics back in gear and challenge the 45-14 Cavaliers, that remains to be seen. But James isn’t taking the Celtics lightly, even after a 20-point win on Thursday at TD Garden.
“They’re a very good team,” James said. “No one doubts Boston. No one who ever comes into this building or plays Boston on the road doubts that team. They have too many weapons, they’re too experienced. They have a good coach, a good coaching staff. No one ever doubts them and you better play well or they can embarrass you.”
|Fast Break: Celtics regain luster against Blazers||02.20.10 at 1:12 am ET|
When the Celtics went out on their annual West Coast swing following the All-Star break, they were a team that was searching for itself. A narrow win over the Kings gave them some much-needed relief. A win over the Lakers gave them a much-needed victory over an elite team.
But it was Friday night against Portland, in the second game of a back-to-back, that the Celtics finally started to look like the Celtics of old in a 96-76 victory. (Recap.)
The Celtics put together a complete game that featured strong shooting (53.4 percent), low turnovers (11), solid rebounding and, most of all, defense. The Blazers shot just 34 percent for the game and scored just 15 points in the fourth quarter and 13 in the second.
The Celtics looked sharp early, making 14 of their first 18 shots. Kevin Garnett, in particular, was strong as he made his first six shots while Rajon Rondo had six assists in the first quarter. The Celtics then put the clamps down defensively, holding the Blazers to just three field goals in the quarter to take a 56-38 lead into halftime.
The Blazers closed to within nine early in the fourth quarter, but Ray Allen scored 11 of the next 14 points as part of a 14-2 run to put the game away. Allen led all scorers with 21 points and was 9-for-14 from the floor.
Turning Point: Portland scored just six points in the first six minutes of the second quarter as the Celtics built a 45-31 lead with their second unit. The starters picked it up from there as Garnett knocked down his first 3-pointer of the season on a desperation heave as the shot clock expired. Garnett followed that with a length-of-the-floor layup off a feed from Rondo.
Player of the Game: Rajon Rondo once again controlled the Celtics offense with 10 points and 11 assists in only 31 minutes.
* The Celtics’ physical defense got to the Blazers late in the first half as Kendrick Perkins and Andre Miller became entangled under the basket. Perkins and Juwan Howard were assessed double technical fouls.
* Rondo and Rasheed Wallace both picked up technical fouls in the third quarter. Wallace had his technical from Thursday night rescinded. Assuming he keeps this one, Wallace now has 13 technical fouls this season. His 16th would trigger an automatic suspension.
* The second unit played well with a combined 33 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Glen Davis was a force around the basket in the fourth quarter while the Celtics were able to pull away.
* Thanks to the lopsided final, Garnett played just 21 minutes, but he still scored 16 points and had seven rebounds.
* Paul Pierce was a game-time decision, but was in the starting lineup as usual. He scored just nine points on 3-for-9 shooting in 26 minutes. Danny Ainge said on The Big Show that Pierce was still fighting through his foot injury. (Click here for a full transcript of Ainge’s appearance Friday.)
* Nate Robinson did not play and will likely miss Sunday’s game with the Nuggets as well. Robinson has had the flu. The other new Celtic, Marcus Landry, is also not expected to join the team until Tuesday, when they both newcomers are scheduled to make their debuts against their old team when the Knicks come to town.
|Celtics vs. Lakers: Just Another Game?||02.18.10 at 12:18 am ET|
He sees a basketball court, not the banners hanging above it. And regardless of the rivalry against the home team, he is simply focused on leaving with a win.
‘It’s not like a championship game,’ he explained. ‘It’s not a series. It’s one game. It helps our record or hurts our record, one way or the other. It’s another game.’
On Thursday, the Celtics will take on the Lakers in their final match up of the regular season. The last time the teams met on Jan. 31, the C’s blew an 11-point fourth quarter lead and watched Kobe Bryant sink a game-winner with 7.3 seconds left.
In spite of the desire to avenge their loss, Rondo’s right. This isn’t a championship game. In fact, at this point in the season it is more about the Celtics vs. themselves rather than the Celtics vs. the Lakers.
The C’s have been their own worst enemy lately, surrendering leads and making mistakes down the stretch. This game against Los Angeles, the second stop on a four-game West Coast road trip, will be a test for them to get back to Celtics basketball after a recent departure.
‘It’s important,’ Paul Pierce said of the entire road trip. ‘We want to go out there and start playing better, start playing more consistent basketball. We know it’s a tough trip, and maybe this is a chance for us to get out on the road and get ourselves back together because we really struggled over the last month-and-a-half.’
The loss to the Lakers capped off a three-game losing streak and a month of January in which the Celtics went 6-8. They entered the All-Star Break on a two-game skid, still struggling to put together 48 minutes of basketball.
A win over the Lakers would give them momentum to jumpstart the second half of the season. They narrowly edged the 18-win Kings on Tuesday night and will face the playoff contending Trail Blazers, Nuggets, and Cavaliers over the course of the next week.
‘Next is down to business,’ said Kevin Garnett. ‘Obviously trying to play better, consistent basketball for the Celtics and being productive. So that’s what’s next for us.’