|With an eye on big picture, Doc Rivers admits ‘I don’t like where we’re at right now’||01.11.11 at 2:16 am ET|
Sure, Monday was a very distasteful and bitter pill to swallow for the Celtics. But really what concerned Doc Rivers afterward was how he felt his team approached the game.
With or without Kevin Garnett and with or without the high-scoring Kevin Martin in the game for the Rockets, Rivers felt his team was capable of a whole lot better than they showed in a 108-102 loss at TD Garden.
But the trademark defense that has been a staple of these championship-driven Celtics has not been there in the last week, and Rivers fears that if they start falling in love with scoring instead of doing the dirty work, they’ll lose something a lot more important – home court advantage in the NBA playoffs.
Don’t look now but not only are the Spurs putting some distance between themselves and the Celtics – who fell to 28-9 – but the Miami Heat have, in the space of about three weeks, caught up to them with a torrid winning streak.
If the Celtics aren’t careful, they not only might have to win an NBA Finals Game 7 on the road like last year in LA but they may have to do the same thing against Miami just to get there.
“To me, you can see them thinking about the individual game and not the ramifications of the entire season,” Rivers said of his team. “And playing Game 7 on the road. And hell, not just in the Finals if you make it there, but in the playoffs. In the East, which is going to be difficult. This year’s not like last year where you can coast. You don’t have home court this year, you could go home.
“You know especially at home, I think we need to really take advantage of games where their best player isn’t playing, guys coming off injury,” captain Paul Pierce added. “These games mean a lot down the road, and but at the same time, they’re going to suit up and play, and we got to understand that nothing is given to us cause their down a man, or they’ve been struggling for most of the year. We got to put our work boots on and come with our A game, we’re not taking advantage of this, there are a lot of games that we’re letting slip away that we’re supposed to win” Read the rest of this entry »
|The Three-Pointer: Celtics aching for Kevin Garnett||at 12:34 am ET|
And that’s why the Celtics need a healthy Kevin Garnett.
Garnett missed his seventh straight game as a result of the calf he strained during a game in Detroit on Dec. 29, and sooner or later his absence was bound to catch up to the Celtics. Coincidence or not, it happened on the night Garnett was rumored to return.
He didn’t, and the Celtics lost 108-102 to the Rockets, who had suffered five straight defeats entering the game and suited up without Yao Ming or Kevin Martin in uniform.
Houston did, however, have one very good power forward in the lineup (Luis Scola) and a pair of budding big men (Patrick Patterson and Jordan Hill), who combined for 34 points and 21 rebounds. You think that’s happening on Kevin Garnett’s watch?
“We just weren’t ready,” said Doc Rivers. “I told our guys I thought overall it was probably our worst defensive effort in three, four years as far as overall effort.”
For all that Glen Davis has done exceedingly well this season — and he has exceeded expectations — he’s no Kevin Garnett. That’s not breaking news or anything. But in Garnett’s absence, the Celtics have relied too much on Davis, and as a result he’s tried to do too much.
Starting in place of Garnett over the past seven games, Davis has shot just 41 percent (41-of-100) and grabbed more than five rebounds only once while averaging 35.7 minutes. In 30 games off the bench this season, he had been shooting 48 percent and averaging more than five rebounds in 28.5 minutes a game. Quite simply, he’s no longer doing the “garbage man” things that made him a contender for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.
“He’s getting too many minutes, quite honestly,” added Rivers. “Thirty-eight minutes is too many for Baby. We don’t have a lot of options right now. Luke [Harangody]’s playing okay, but we may have to go small. That’s too many minutes, and that’s on me. Baby should play more in the 30-range, because I think the fatigue is bothering him.”
|Ray Allen dealing with a ‘sore’ left shoulder||01.10.11 at 11:58 pm ET|
Everyone who saw Ray Allen sprawled on the court with 10:56 left in the fourth quarter Monday night had the same thought – Oh no, not again. The Celtics have already had two starters miss significant time with significant injuries as Kevin Garnett hopes to come back Wednesday night from a strained right calf and Rajon Rondo continues to play through sore feet.
As for Allen, he said he will need a night of sleep and then see how he feels after taking a vicious hit on a pick early in the fourth quarter of Monday’s loss to Houston.
“I just took a hard hit, and kind of collapsed on the side,” Allen said of the screen set with 10:56 left in the fourth. “I’m sore, I’ll feel it [Tuesday]. My shoulder but kind of my side, you got so much adrenaline running that you don’t really feel it, once I got in the back I felt it.”
Allen added that he didn’t think it was a legal screen since – as he said, “The rule states that, if there’s a screen set, you have to give the person a chance to see the screen and then move out the way. I didn’t even know the screen was there and when I went to step I just hit the screen, and it caught me like on the side of my hip.”
Allen, who matched Marquis Daniels with a team-high 19 points, did return with 5:40 left in the game and hit a big three-pointer with 2:04 left to pull the Celtics to within seven, 106-99.
|Fast Break: Rockets shoot past Celtics||at 10:06 pm ET|
This is not how Doc Rivers and the Celtics envisioned starting a season-long six-game homestand.
The Rockets came to Boston without the services of their leading scorer, as Kevin Martin was out with a sore right wrist. They had lost their last five and six of seven.
But the Celtics fell behind at halftime and couldn’t overcome the energy of Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola and the rest of the Rockets in a 108-102 loss to Houston Monday night at TD Garden. (Recap.) It’s the third straight win for Houston in Boston.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Defense: Quite simply, on a night when Kevin Garnett remained in street clothes, it wasn’t there in this one. Forget the fact that Houston shot 53 percent for the game — they made 11 of 19 shots in the third quarter alone to build a six-point lead heading into the fourth. Worse yet, every time the Celtics got a big lay-up from Paul Pierce or an offensive rebound or jumper from Glen Davis, the Rockets not only scored on the next possession, but got very open looks, including Aaron Brooks on a killer 3-ball with 4:26 left that put Rockets up, 101-90. Another three by Brooks with 3:10 left put Houston up by 12.
Glen Davis’ stamina: He worked hard but looked very, very tired in the third quarter. He had huge problems keeping up with Scola in the third quarter as the Rockets improbably built upon their lead by going inside and the Celtics didn’t play very good defense, allowing Houston to score 30 in the quarter on 58 percent shooting. Rivers was also on Davis early about the number of passes he was dishing out and the Celtics were guilty of shot clock violations on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter.
Not taking Kyle Lowry seriously: Yes, the Rockets didn’t have their leading scorer, Martin - out with a sore right wrist. But the Celtics apparently forgot that Lowry is very quick and developing as a legitimate two-way guard in his fourth year. Lowry played 18 minutes in the first half and had 11 points. But more than that, the former Villanova Wildcat brought the energy on both sides of the court. It continued into the third quarter as he took it to the basket just like he did when he played with Randy Foye and Allan Ray on the Main Line. Tough kid.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Marquis Daniels and the bench: After a rough showing on Saturday night in Chicago, the Celtics’ bench woke up Wednesday out of necessity as Daniels led the way, making 7-of-8 shots from the field and finishing with 19 points, tied with Allen for the team lead. He also chipped in with seven rebounds. He played practically the entire fourth quarter as Rivers held Nate Robinson and Jermaine O’Neal on the bench.
Domination in the paint: When they made the commitment to get there, the Celtics owned the paint, with mid-range jumpers, cuts and lay-ups. They finished with a 48-22 advantage over the Rockets.
Ray Allen takes a licking and keeps on ticking: The last thing – obviously – the Celtics need is another star to go down with an injury, and so the sight of Allen taking a vicious hit on a blindside pick early in the fourth quarter was troubling for Boston. But after Allen had his left shoulder examined briefly by trainer Ed Lacerte, he returned with five minutes to go. He drilled a 3-pointer with 2:10 left to bring the Celtics to within seven, 106-99.
|Irish Coffee: Celtics’ shooting aim historically high||at 1:42 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
In the past 20 seasons, only a handful of teams have shot at least .500 from the field for an entire season. Despite shooting just .378 against the Bulls on Saturday night, the Celtics are still shooting .502 as a team this year, keeping pace with some pretty remarkable company historically.
Here are the teams that have shot better than .500 for an entire season since 1991-92:
- 1994-95 Utah Jazz (.512)
- 1991-92 Chicago Bulls (.508)
- 1991-92 Golden State Warriors (.507)
- 2008-09 Phoenix Suns (.504)
- 1996-97 Utah Jazz (.504)
- 1994-95 Orlando Magic (.502)
- 2007-08 Phoenix Suns (.500)
There are plenty of conclusions to draw based on that list. Here are a few:
- Of those seven teams, two — the 1991-92 NBA champion Bulls and 1994-95 Magic — reached the NBA Finals.
- The guys who those offenses ran through: Michael Jordan, John Stockton, Steve Nash, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Hardaway — which means Rajon Rondo would join some pretty remarkable players.
- The fact that the 1984-85 Lakers shot .545 from the field for the season is simply ridiculous.
- The last time the Celtics eclipsed .500 was in 1990-91, when Larry Bird & Co. shot .512 for the season.
The overwhelming positive for the Celtics is that they’re only allowing their opponents to shoot .437 from the field — better than any of the seven teams on that list. Six of those teams let their opponents shoot better than .450, and only the 1996-97 Jazz came close to this year’s C’s, allowing their opponents to shoot .438 from the field.
|Fast Break: Bulls bury Celtics||01.08.11 at 10:42 pm ET|
The NBA schedule is sometimes a cruel beast. Take the Celtics and Bulls, put them in a vacuum and the result is usually a fantastic game. But put them on a Saturday night with both teams on the second end of back-to-backs and you get a slow, ugly contest, like the one these two teams played.
The Celtics were able to hang in until the bitter end, mostly thanks to 21 Chicago turnovers, but the combination of Derrick Rose (36 points) and Carlos Boozer (22) was too much to overcome in a 90-79 loss that snapped Boston’s four-game winning streak. (Recap.)
Credit Tom Thibodeau‘s defense, which held the Celtics to 38 percent shooting and kept them out of the paint all night. Not many teams can make the Celtics look as bad as they did Saturday night, but Thibodeau knows them as well as anyone and he has Chicago ranked second (behind the Celtics) in defensive efficiency.
The Celtics return home for a six-game homestand against only two teams with winning records: Utah and Orlando. They are also expected to get Kevin Garnett back, possibly as early as Monday.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Rebounding: In case there was still any confusion about how the Celtics feel about offensive rebounds, Doc Rivers said it as plainly as he could Friday night.
“I don’t care about offensive rebounds,” the coach said. “I care about defensive rebounds.”
In that case, the first half was very discouraging as the Bulls grabbed eight offensive rebounds. It didn’t get any better in the second half as the Celtics got pounded on the boards. They gave up 11 offensive boards and lost the overall battle, 48-27.
Derrick Rose at the free throw line: Derrick Rose established a new career-high in free throw attempts and makes midway through the third quarter. He went on to make 15-of-19 as he wore the Celtics out with the pick-and-roll. The Bulls wound up only being +7 at the line, despite taking 13 more shots (35-22).
Bench production: Or the lack, thereof. Outside of Jermaine O’Neal who had six points and three rebounds, the Celtics reserves combined to shoot 1-for-7 with three rebounds and four assists. Once again, the Celtics offense without Rajon Rondo on the floor was disjointed and out of sync.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Paul Pierce and Ray Allen: The two veterans basically are the Celtics offense right now with Garnett out, so it’s a good thing that they are both playing at a high level. They combined for 40 points, or more than half the Celtics’ total. Along with Rondo, they shot 20-for-43. The rest of the team? A horrific 8-for-31.
Turnovers: Yes, this is the right column. The Bulls turned it over 21 times compared to the Celtics’ eight times. The Celtics recorded 12 steals, which helped, but this was the only thing that kept the Celtics in the game.
Rajon Rondo was decent: Rondo had a solid line with 13 points, five rebounds, five steals and eight assists, but he was also responsible (along with the big men) for Rose’s big night.
|Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘Saw improvement’ on Rondo’s elbow jumper last night||01.06.11 at 5:08 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan for his weekly segment on Thursday morning, talking about the Celtics big win over the Spurs last night, and Rajon Rondo‘s immediate return to prominence following his injury. Rivers also discussed current NBA hot topics, including in-flight fights and gambling, and how Kevin Garnett‘s hopeful return next week will get the team back to top form.
“To me, the most important thing was that [Rondo] took shots down the stretch,” Rivers said. “I’ve said this before, as good as he’s playing and we’re playing right now at times, it’s a different game in the playoffs.”
To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Last night’s game certainly qualified as a great game, but I don’t know as the coach if you could be entertained by it. But it was by all means a great game.
Well it did as far as the shot-making game. I mean, you saw our team shoot 60 percent in the game, you saw [Manu] Ginobili make shots down the stretch that were unbelievable. So I guess in that way, yeah, it was. You knew both teams wanted to win the game, you could feel that right at the start of the game. So there was a chance for that to happen.
How do you shoot 61 percent and they shoot 45 percent and you win by two? Is it the disparity of the offensive rebounds and the number of shots they took?
Yeah, it’s both of those. They took more shots and the offensive rebounds. Obviously, they’re going to have a couple more offensive rebounds when they shoot 45 and we shoot 60.
There’s going to be a discrepancy, but it just can’t be as big as it has been the last three games.