|Celtics struggle with Allen’s unexpected absence on the court||04.03.10 at 12:05 am ET|
The Celtics have played without the Big Three this season. Kevin Garnett missed 10 games with a hyperextended knee, Pierce was sidelined for another 10 games with a variety of knee, foot, and thumb ailments, and Ray Allen sat out a night with back spasms.
But it is perhaps more challenging when one of these players is unexpectedly kept off the court. On Friday, the Celtics intended on having Allen for four quarters against the Rockets. Instead, foul trouble allowed him to play just 16 minutes. He picked up two fouls in the first quarter alone and had five going into the fourth. With 2:13 left in regulation and the Celtics up, 104-101, Allen fouled out for the first time all season.
The Celtics missed their sharpshooter in a loss decided by just five points, 119-114, in overtime.
“Ray was in foul trouble the entire game,” said Doc Rivers. “That hurt us down the stretch, clearly, because it took away so many options and it took away space.”
The outcome could have been different if the Celtics hit free throws, Garnett pointed out. The C’s shot just 65 percent from the line (24-for-37) while the Rockets were a consistent 89.3 percent (25-for-28). Allen, the team’s best free throw shooter at 90.6 percent on the season, made it to the line just once. Because of foul trouble, he was forced to watch his team struggle from the same place he has had so much success.
“Any time you miss Paul or Ray or anybody who is in our starting five, it’s a big blow to us,” said Garnett. “Obviously free throws were a big key tonight. If we make or we only miss about four or five of them, we’d win the game by a pretty decent margin. But every game it’s going to be something. But any time you lose a big piece of your offense or anyone in your starting lineup, it’s a big blow.
“Not having Ray in the game, not just for free throw purposes but for offensive attention, he draws a lot of attention on offense. It gets a lot of guys easy shots and different looks and stuff. And with him not in there was big.”
The Celtics will look forward to having Allen, who is averaging 15.9 points per game, back on the court when they face the Cavaliers on Sunday.
|One year later: The tweet that impacted the NBA||03.15.10 at 11:22 pm ET|
One year ago Monday, then-Milwaukee forward Charlie Villanueva entered the locker room during halftime of the Bucks-Celtics game. He logged into Twitter and posted the following tweet:
@CV31: In da locker room, snuck to post my twitt. We’re playing the Celtics, tie ball game at da half. Coach wants more toughness. I gotta step up.
Those hundred-something characters opened the virtual book on social networking in the NBA. His midgame tweet was frowned upon, and it created a ripple effect: Before the start of this season, a league-wide policy was enacted. Among its guidelines included the restriction of cell phones and other communication devices 45 minutes before the game and prohibited it during halftime.
A year later, Villanueva, now a member of the Pistons, is still surprised by the impact.
‘It’s funny, because Twitter wasn’t really that big of a deal, like nobody really knew too much about it,’ he told WEEI.com following Monday’s Pistons-Celtics game. ‘I didn’t know it was going to get that much attention. I just did it, fun for the fans and whatnot, and the next day it just blew up. The media just took it and ran with it.
“Obviously I didn’t mean for it to get that much attention, but hey, it put my name out there even more,’ he added with a laugh.
As of Monday night, Villanueva had 73,685 followers. It is a huge jump from his following a year ago. In an instant, he went from a Twitter novice to one of the early faces of social media in the NBA.
‘It was crazy because I had just started, too,’ he said. ‘I probably had like 2,000 followers at first. It was probably a couple of months old, two or three months old, my account. After that, it rose to like 13,000 in two or three days. It was ridiculous. Ever since, it’s just been picking up.’
Villanueva has turned a potential negative into a positive by taking advantage of the benefits of social networking. He has raised awareness for charitable organizations, held contests for his followers to win game tickets, and spread well wishes to friends and fans alike.
‘There are a lot of opportunities,’ he explained. ‘You get to meet a lot of people. It’s very important for networking, just opportunities come abound, appearances, they can just work directly with you instead of going through a third party.’
Twitter has become the norm for many NBA players. On the Celtics, Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) has over 1.5 million followers, Ray Allen (@greenRAYn20) has nearly 25,000, and Shelden Williams (@SheldenWilliams) is a frequent tweeter with over 10,000 followers.
Now a seasoned vet, Villanueva has some advice for his fellow NBA athletes who are starting out in the world of social networking.
‘What the fans want to see is you being straight up and interacting with them as well,’ he suggested. ‘Showing pictures as well, they want to see what’s going on, what an NBA player does on a day-to-day basis.’
Tweeting has become something Villanueva does on a day-to-day basis. Except during halftime, of course.
|Allen: ‘We’ve got a bunch of leaders’||at 7:14 pm ET|
Ray Allen says the Celtics don’t come down to one or two individuals. They are not led by a single player, he notes. Never have been nor do they plan on becoming so.
‘The same as it’s always been,’ he said prior to the Celtics – Pistons game on Monday. ‘We’ve got a bunch of leaders on this team.’
‘I think maybe a different guy gotta try to step up and be a leader,’ reported the Boston Globe. ‘I think sometimes you try to feed off your All-Stars, but maybe somebody else gotta step up. I’m talking about leading by example. One spark or positive energy on the court and guys tend to feed off that. Maybe it’s gotta be me, Rondo, ‘Sheed, somebody.’’
A day later, Doc Rivers echoed the notion of players needing to step up. He believes his players have it in them, it is just a matter of putting it out there on the court. He pointed out Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels specifically as two players the Celtics need better production from.
“I don’t care how frustrating it gets for me,” Rivers said before Monday’s game. “I see it, and if you see it or not, I see it and I’m going to get it out of you. And that’s what I told them after the game [Sunday]. I don’t know how but I will get it out of you.”
|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.’
|Ray Allen Press Conference, 3/10||03.10.10 at 11:43 pm ET|
|Ray: We probably got away with one||03.08.10 at 12:20 am ET|
Ray Allen felt comfortable all night.
With a game-high 25 points and 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the 3-point line, the stats say as much.
The problem was ‘ for 42 minutes ‘ the Washington Wizards felt just as good in nearly everything they did.
With the Celtics down 13 points, that’s when Allen said the C’s finally got to their opponent, opening the door for him to play hero in the final 93 seconds.
‘It was night and day. We put a lot of pressure on them. We made them play away from the basket. We forced them to be more uncomfortable than we did in the first half,” said Allen, whose trey with 17.1 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in Boston’s 86-83 win.
Asked if the Celtics might have gotten away with a win when maybe they didn’t deserve one, Allen was as honest as he could be.
‘You could say probably in a small way we did,” he admitted. “But we fought for it, we never gave up or thought it was over with, so it bowed in our favor tonight.’
|Fast Break: Celtics vs. Wizards||03.07.10 at 10:46 pm ET|
But that’s when their winning experience came into play. The Celtics outscored the Wizards 24-17 in the fourth quarter to secure a 86-83 comeback victory.
Turning Point: Down 81-77, Rajon Rondo scored a fastbreak layup and drew the foul on Al Thornton with 1:37 to go. He missed the free throw, but Kendrick Perkins kicked out the offensive rebound to Ray Allen, who drained a trey. This capped a 16-2 Celtics run and put them up, 82-81.
Player of the game: Ray Allen (25 points) got the Celtics momentum back with a pair of treys in the third quarter. Not only did he hit a go-ahead 3-pointer in the fourth, he knocked down the game-winning 3 with 17 seconds left.
– Rondo scored just two points in the first half. He got hot late in the third to score seven points in a span of two-minutes. He finished the game with 15 points.
– Michael Finley was inactive and watched the game from the end of the Celtics bench in a charcoal suit.
– Tony Allen played two minutes in his first game back since injuring his hip on Wednesday against the Bobcats.
– The Celtics are now 6-5 on Sundays and improved to 25-6 against sub-.500 opponents.
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