|Three-Pointer: Celtics show age before beauty||02.07.11 at 11:42 pm ET|
Even before the Celtics lost for the seventh time this season on the second night of back-to-back games, Rajon Rondo provided the perfect answer as to why.
“We’re old,” said Rondo, who at 24 is the youngest player on the roster outside of the last two guys on the bench, Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody.
The Celtics are indeed old, averaging 31.1 years of age. The good news is that with age comes experience. That’s 902 playoff games and 47 All-Star selections of experience. Generally, that means a lot of victories — just ask the 1997-98 Bulls, who at an average age of 31.6 were the oldest team in NBA history to capture a title, winning 62 games in the regular season and 15 of 21 playoff contests.
But with age also comes aching bodies. Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal have a combined 14 feet and 550 pounds of bodies — logging a total of 66,669 minutes in their careers — that have translated into 47 missed games already this season. Their consistent absences from the lineup means when other injuries occur (i.e., Delonte West, Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden), Doc Rivers’ bench looks like Norman Dale’s in “Hoosiers” when he was forced to play Ollie.
Remarkably, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are defying their ages of 35, 34 and 33, respectively, as the only players on the Celtics’ roster to start 40 of the team’s 51 games. Still, that doesn’t mean their old legs aren’t tired on the second night of back-to-back games.
“I think we have 13 losses, and I know seven of them have come on back-to-backs,” the Celtics coach told reporters after the C’s fell to 38-13 with a 94-89 loss to the Bobcats (click here for the complete recap). “And it’s the same script in five of them, where we win a decent game the day before, we come out, we kind of goof around and then all of a sudden you try to win it in the fourth. Well, then you don’t have anything left.”
|Fast Break: Bobcats’ bench bests Celtics||at 9:41 pm ET|
Despite leading scorer Stephen Jackson getting ejected, the Bobcats got 19 points and 16 rebounds from Gerald Wallace to hand the Celtics a 94-89 loss Monday night in Charlotte. Shaun Livingston and Gerald Henderson combined for 33 points off the bench for the Bobcats.
Ray Allen led all scorers with 25 points, and Rajon Rondo (10 points, 14 rebounds) produced a double-double for the Celtics (38-13), who maintain a slim lead over the Heat for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Bench scoring: While a lineup of Nate Robinson, Von Wafer, Luke Harangody, Glen Davis and Allen battled the Bobcats fairly even for the first five minutes of the second quarter, they scored just three points in that stretch. Overall, the Bobcats’ bench outscored its Boston counterpart 44-15 for the game. The 6-foot-7 Livingston (17 points) led the way, using his size advantage against Rondo and Robinson.
Off the mark: When the Celtics’ offense is running on all cylinders, they’ll shoot 60 percent as a team. Against the Bobcats, though, they hovered around 40 percent all night. That’s especially bad when you consider Rondo was seeing the floor well.
Banging the boards: Wallace (16 rebounds) and Kwame Brown (12 rebounds) owned the boards against the Celtics. Wallace is undertandable; Brown isn’t. Together, those two helped the Bobcats out-rebound the C’s by 14 (50-36) for the night. The Celtics really felt the absences of both Shaquille O’Neal and Semih Erden, who sat with injuries.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The Ray Allen watch: Allen sunk a 3-pointer in the first minute of the game — bringing the magic number to three in order to break Reggie Miller‘s all-time 3-point record. He cut that number to two when he sunk another trey in the third quarter.
At times, though, it appeared Allen might want to wait until Thursday’s home game against the Lakers to set the mark. He must’ve taken more pullup jumpers inside the arc than he had all season. Still, Allen finished with 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting.
Getting under Stephen Jackson’s skin: Earlier this week, when he was sitting on 11 technical fouls for the season and had already been suspended for berating a referee, Jackson said, “If me speaking my mend gets me a tech, hey.” Well, that attitude got him another two technical fouls — in succession — when he thought he got fouled going to the basket. As a result, he was tossed from the game while leading the Bobcats with 11 points at the time.
Brown also picked up a technical when he was fouled by Kendrick Perkins on a layup attempt. Pierce and Kevin Garnett also picked up techs on the night.
Rajon Rondo’s strong start: Just as he did against the Magic, Rondo made it a point to get to the basket right from the opening whistle, which he did rather easily against Bobcats point guard D.J. Augustin. Rondo had 10 points and five assists in the first quarter alone.
|Ray Allen to partcipate in 3-point contest||02.05.11 at 4:28 pm ET|
Ray Allen told reporters Friday night that he had agreed to take part in the 3-point contest as part of All-Star weekend. The other competitors have not been named yet, but it is assumed that one of them will be defending champ Paul Pierce.
The captain made a plea on Twitter to face off against Allen this year, which would add a little spice to a competition generally thought of as the appetizer to the Slam Dunk contest.
Allen won the title back in 2001 and has made five appearances over the years, but not since 2006. He’s also closing in on the all-time 3-point mark, needing just five to pass Reggie Miller for the most made 3′s in NBA history. Allen has embraced the chase and said that he hopes to do it at the Garden.
“Actually, I truly am enjoying it,” he said Friday night. “This is a moment I’ve never experienced before. I don’t know how many people can experience this type of moment.”
|Ray Allen knows Jason Kidd isn’t bad from three, either||at 10:00 am ET|
There was a great deal of irony in the game-winning 3-point shot delivered by Jason Kidd with 2.5 seconds remaining, a shot that highlighted a stunning Mavericks’ comeback in a 101-97 win over the Celtics Friday night at TD Garden. The shot was made by the man ranked third on the all-time 3-point field goal list and it came with Ray Allen, No. 2 on that list, guarding him.
“Very underrated Jason Kidd is with shooting the three but he’s proven over his career he’s proven he can knock the 3-ball down,” Allen said. “The only way he has been able to stay around as long as he has was to develop a jump shot. It was in form today and beat us today.”
Kidd, who finished with a pair of threes, now has 1,742 in his career, a mere 813 shy of Allen on the all-time list.
Allen hit three treys and now has 2,555, just six shy of passing Reggie Miller for the all-time NBA record. And Allen admitted afterward that he’s actually enjoying the chase as it nears its end.
“Actually, I truly am enjoying it. This is a moment I’ve never experienced before. I don’t know how many people can experience this type of moment. We’re playing a team sport but there’s an individual element associated with me right now. As much as I’ve always been associated with team, it’s something that everybody keeps pointing at me that you’ve got to keep doing that.
“It’s always a testimony to the guys that can stay around a long time, 20,000 points, however many minutes, whatever it may be but longevity produces greatness at some point.”
But Celtics coach Doc Rivers was forced to talk about Kidd’s greatness after Friday night’s contest, that and his team’s inability to defend the three.
“That one stood out obviously but I thought we gave up way too many,” Rivers said. “I thought offensively we played well, we shot 50 percent. I just thought defensively we broke a lot of our defensive rules. I thought we played hard, but I thought we tried to cheat a lot defensively as a team, you know gambles, and they made us pay for every one of them.”
Dallas finished just under 50 percent from 3-point range, making 8-of-17 in recording their seventh straight win.
|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.”