|How C’s-Cavs are different now||02.25.10 at 1:00 pm ET|
WALTHAM — It seems much longer than four months when last the Celtics played the Cavaliers on opening night in Cleveland.
And for both teams – who meet tonight at TD Garden at 8 p.m. – the perspective has changed.
The Celtics went into Quicken Loans Arena on Oct. 27 and came away with a 95-89 win and served notice that they were intent on reclaiming their perch atop the Eastern Conference with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen back in full stride.
That night Pierce led a balanced attack with 23 points, overcoming a game-high 38 from LeBron James. But C’s coach Doc Rivers said beyond the final score, there’s not much to take from the result that night.
“Nah, they’re not the same team,” Rivers said. “We’re not the same team. We won. We can take that away from it but other than that, I think both teams have forgotten about that.”
Indeed. Since then, the two teams have taken different paths. The Cavs, after losing their first two and starting the season 3-3, have rebounded to claim the top spot in the East and the NBA at 44-14, despite a recent three-game skid.
[Click here to listen to Rivers explain how Cavaliers are different than opening night.]
The Celtics, who stood 23-5 following a Christmas Day win over Orlando, have battled injuries and inconsistency and stand 36-19, just ahead of fourth-place Atlanta by a game in the loss column.
Both teams made moves at the trading deadline to strengthen themselves. While the Celtics added firepower with Nate Robinson, Cleveland acquired more front court athleticism in Antawn Jamisoin, dealing away Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The Cavs lost their first three games following the trade with Jamison in the starting lineup before he scored 18 in Tuesday’s win over New Orleans.
“They are different, watching them on tape the last two games,” Rivers said. “The Jamison thing has changed them a little bit. It definitely makes it more difficult to guard them so we have to get ready for that.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Celtics wish the best for Powe||02.24.10 at 11:59 pm ET|
Thursday night will be Leon Powe’s first return to Boston since signing with the Cavaliers last summer.
It could also be the first time he plays in over 10 months.
Powe tore the ACL in his left knee during Game 2 of the Celtics first round playoff series against the Bulls last season. That was April 20, 2009. He has not played in an NBA game since.
On Tuesday, after months of rehab, Powe was activated into the Cavaliers lineup. While he did not get on the court, it presented the possibility for him to make his regular season debut against his former team.
Even though he is in a different uniform this time around, those who spent seasons around him expressed their best wishes for his return:
Ray Allen: “I’d be happy for him. I’d definitely be happy for him. I’m just wishing him well because how he injured himself and how everything went, I was so distraught. We all felt bad so I’d be glad to see him just lace them back up.”
Kendrick Perkins: “I’d be excited for him. Just for him to bounce back after the injury, it could have been a career-ending injury. But for him to come back and get a chance to play, I’d be happy for Leon. He’s a great guy. … He works hard. Leon’s a hard worker. He’s all basketball. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t do any of the club stuff. He’s strictly basketball.”
Tony Allen: “That’s my man. I’m happy for him. If anybody could come off injuries and play, hey, I’m all for it. I hope he gets back to where he wants to get back. That’s my man. We’ve got a friendship that’s going to last forever. He’s a championship teammate, we won it together, we threw champagne together, he understands me.”
Glen Davis: “It means a lot. He’s a great guy, and for him to have an opportunity to play and do some big things, come back from a tough knee injury, I know it means a lot to him. It’s a joy to see a guy bounce back and fight adversity and come back and be able to play. … We won a championship together. We won it together so he’s always going to be a part of that.”
Head coach Doc Rivers: “It’d be nice to see him playing basketball. I’m looking forward to it. I don’t know, except for having gone through the knee injury myself, and he’s gone through it a couple times, what he has had to go through. So I’m really looking forward to him just playing basketball again. It’ll be great. To me, it’ll be a success story in a lot of ways because a lot of people didn’t think he could ever play again. When he got hurt, I heard that the first time. I said, ‘You clearly don’t know who Leon Powe is. That kid will always be a success story.’”
Powe averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds over three seasons for the Celtics. Last season he stepped into the starting role in place of an injured Kevin Garnett and Davis. He scored a career-high 30 points and added 11 rebounds against the Grizzlies last March.
Powe’s troubled childhood has also been chronicled as a testament to his dedication to succeed in the NBA. Click here to read more.
|Allen always expected return to Boston||at 12:53 am ET|
On Tuesday night, Ray Allen returned to TD Garden for the first time since the trade deadline.
He didn’t expect to be anywhere else.
“I had my whole West Coast bag packed already, so it was going on the plane to Sacramento on that Monday morning [for the Celtics four-game road trip]. So I wasn’t thinking about anything anyways,“ he said prior to the Celtics-Knicks game. “I think there was more made up than honestly I knew because people were tweeting me, hoping I stayed here. But it wasn’t a question for me whether or not I thought I was going anywhere.”
Allen repeatedly vocalized his desire to retire as a Celtic. There was no questioning his interest in finishing his career in green.
However, an expiring contract combined with the Celtics’ inconsistencies had landed his name is trade rumors for weeks. Many thought Allen had played his last game as a Celtic when the C’s blew a late lead to the Magic on Feb. 7, their final home game before the deadline. And when he sat out the next game in New Orleans with back spasms, even more speculation buzzed.
But as Celtics fans waited anxiously for the trade deadline to pass last Thursday, Allen was unaware of the time frame. He actually thought the deadline was Feb. 20, not the 18th.
Besides, one deadline did not dictate his 14-year career.
“Not that I was ever worried about it because at worst you go somewhere else and you still play. Just you start somewhere else,” he said. “So that was my mindset. But I think obviously there were people that either wanted me to stay or wanted me to go, one way or the other, it didn’t make a difference. I was still going to play.”
Just as leaving the Garden before the trade deadline didn’t trigger any emotions for Allen, neither did his return. For him, it was just another game in Boston, the city he always intended to return to.
“I never expected not to be [here],” he said. “If they traded me, then I’m gone. But I was never worried about it so I never thought otherwise, like I’m going to be somewhere else. This is where I planned to be and I didn’t think about anything else.”
|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.)
* Portland’s Brandon Roy, who is dealing with a hamstring injury, also started. The Blazers had new addition Marcus Camby in the starting lineup, as well.
* 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.
|Mavs moving in on Butler||02.13.10 at 11:19 am ET|
Reports out of Dallas and Washington indicate that the Mavericks are closing in on a deal that would get them Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson in exchange for Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross. (The Washington Post had a could of different names at the end of the deal, but the principles, Butler and Howard, are the same).
The hot rumor Friday morning involved the Celtics trading Ray Allen to the Wizards for Butler and Antawn Jamison.
Jamison is still very available and has been linked to the Cavaliers among other teams.
|New rumor: Ray for Jamison, Butler||02.12.10 at 10:42 am ET|
UPDATE: Say this for the rumored trade between the Wizards and Celtics involving Ray Allen, Caron Butler and Antwan Jamison, it certainly got a lot of people talking.
Danny Ainge shot it down, telling the Globe that he has not talked with the Wizards. It also prompted Allen to post the following on Twitter: “I have no control over trade rumors people. Let’s just focus on being positive. I am a Celtic. Green all day.”
Washington Post beat man Michael Lee also took to Twitter to knock it down.
There is some thought that the rumor was put out there as a way to get other teams to sweeten their offers for Butler and Jamison. The Cavaliers, for example, have been rumored to be in pursuit of Jamison, but are said to be unwilling to part with second-year forward J.J. Hickson.
The following is the initial reaction to the rumor:
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski offers up an intriguing trade rumor with the Celtics potentially dealing Ray Allen, Brian Scalabrine and J.R. Giddens to the Wizards for Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. If it happens the deal would fundamentally make over both teams.
Wojnarowski writes that “the trade isn’t imminent.” The Wizards have been talking with several teams, notably the Mavericks, about dealing Butler but this is the first scenario involving both Butler and Jamison.
Washington’s motivation is simple. The franchise is a mess in the wake of the Gilbert Arenas fiasco and it is loaded down with huge contracts for its veteran stars. Allen, Scalabrine and Giddens all have expiring contracts and a deal like this wouldn’t just be the first step in blowing it up and starting over, it would be the T.N.T. and the dynamite.
Butler is signed through next season at over $10 million and Jamison is signed through 2012 where he will make over $15 million. For the Celtics, a move like this would add significant money to the payroll, but it would also accomplish Danny Ainge’s stated goal of a trade that would help them win now and in the future. They would be getting two former All-Stars, and with Allen’s decline this season, the two best players in the deal.
It does raise some interesting scenarios, however, because Butler and Jamison play the same positions as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Butler’s career has read sort of like Pierce-lite and while he has played some 2-guard, he is not the same caliber of long-range shooter as Allen (Butler is a career 31 percent shooter from 3-point range). According to 82games.com, he has played 72 percent of his minutes at the small forward position this season. Jamison will turn 34 this summer, but he has been remarkably durable during his career, playing 82 games five times in his 12-year career.
Both players have shown versatility during their careers. Jamison came off the bench during his one season with the Mavericks in 2003-04 and wound up winning the Sixth Man of the Year award. He would obviously be a significant upgrade to the second unit if Garnett is healthy, and provide better Garnett insurance then Rasheed Wallace has been able to give.
If Butler can make the transition to playing alongside Pierce it would give the Celtics two rugged scorers and defenders on the wing. It’s worth noting that he has played alongside Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant at various points in his career.
Of all the rumors that have been presented, this one has the most realistic and interesting possibilities.
(Note: The preceding sentence was written before the denials started rolling in. The “realistic” part was a bad read on my part.)
|Video: Doc Rivers addresses the press at practice||02.09.10 at 2:00 pm ET|