|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 Wallace had his technical from Thursday night rescinded.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.
|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).
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|
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.
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|
|Fast Break: Celtics vs. Nets||02.05.10 at 10:01 pm ET|
The Celtics may have won the game, 96-87, but it wasn’t pretty. The Nets tested the C’s for the majority of the game and led, 73-72, heading into the fourth quarter.The Celtics allowed the Nets to shoot at an astonishingly high percentage in the first half (63.3 percent, compared to their league-worst season average of 42.2 percent). The C’s were also outplayed in the paint.
But the Celtics were carried by their backcourt and bench — a game-high 26 points from Ray Allen, 17 from Rajon Rondo, and a combined 30 from Rasheed Wallace, Eddie House and Glen Davis led the Celtics to avoid a humiliating loss against the worst team in the NBA.
Player of the game: Eddie House scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter and took back the game for the Celtics. House had shot 0-for-4 from the field, including 0-for-3 from 3-point range, heading into the final quarter.
Turning point: House hit a 3-pointer with nine minutes left in the game to put the Celtics up 77-75. The C’s forced a turnover on the next possession, and Bill Walker drew a foul to push the lead to four. This gave the C’s the edge and control over the ballgame.
– Ray Allen led a balanced attack throughout the game, scoring 11 points in the first half and another 15 in the second.
– The Celtics committed a pair of careless turnovers down the stretch. They were called for a 24-second violation shortly followed by an eight-second violation. Earlier in the game, officials rescinded a fourth-quarter trey by House and ruled that a 24-second shot clock violation had occurred.
– The Celtics will face the Magic on Sunday in Boston. The Magic lost on Friday night to the Wizards.
|Ray to Bulls rumor swirls again||02.04.10 at 12:52 pm ET|
The Chicago Sun-Times put out the rumor that the Bulls and Celtics could get together on a deal that would send Ray Allen to Chicago for a package that includes Kirk Hinrich, Tyrus Thomas and Jerome James. That’s a deal that has been speculated about before, but it doesn’t seem like it would be a good match for the Celtics.
Thomas and James are both in the final years of their contracts. While James is essentially a non-factor, Thomas does have intriguing ability, but throughout his career he has been more potential than production. Hinrich is a player who has received lots of interest around the league because of his abilities and also because the Bulls would like to move his contract, which has two years left after this one, to create more cap space in the summer.
It has long been speculated that the Bulls will make a run at Chicago native Dwyane Wade. If they can clear Hinrich’s contract, they could have the space to go after two prime free agents.
Hinrich could help the Celtics, certainly. He is a solid playmaker and a good defender who can guard multiple positions. He is having a down shooting season, however, and would not be a viable replacement for Allen in that regard. The Celtics could get creative and try to work out a deal for Hinrich alone involving a combination of their other expiring contracts — Brian Scalabrine, Tony Allen, Eddie House, etc.–but probably not at the cost of Allen.
“The thing that’s happening right now is everybody’s trying to give away their [expiring contracts] to those same teams and those same teams are trying to get a bargain,” Rivers said. “Eventually the trade stuff will end up, I don’t think with us, but around the league everybody’s trying to take advantage of everybody.”
In other words, the trade market has not yet fully taken shape. Teams are still in the feeling-out process. In regards to Allen, both Rivers and Danny Ainge have stated the team’s position, which is: They will listen to offers for Allen, but it will have to be a great deal for the Celtics for them to pull the trigger.
While the Hinrich rumor makes some sense in the abstract, it doesn’t appear to satisfy those requirements for the Celtics.
|Ray to Rondo: ‘This could be your last shot’||at 12:34 am ET|
Ray Allen had a very simple message for his backcourt teammate before Wednesday’s game against Miami.
“I told [Rajon] Rondo earlier, I said this could be his last shot,” Allen said. “I told him, ‘You’ve got 10, 12-plus years left in the NBA, you’re making great money but this could be yours.
“I told him I went to the Eastern Conference finals in Milwaukee and the next year we just assumed we’re going to get back and we didn’t make the playoffs. So, it’s not guaranteed because you did it once or twice. It’s never guaranteed. So, we have to be very selfish about really wanting to be good now and really taking care of our bodies, making sure we hold each other accountable. And doing it in a good way.”
Allen and Rondo have been the focal point this week of trade rumors and locker room chemistry questions. But Allen made it clear following a 107-102 win over the Heat that he wants to go to battle with Rondo and the rest of the Celtics.
“Believe me, there’s not a better group of guys that I think are capable right now,” Allen said. “I’m not looking at our record (31-16), although our record is not too shabby. We have guys here, a roster than can win it.”
[Click here to hear what Allen had to say about wanting to stay with Rondo and his team]
More to the point, Allen sounded like a man who wants desperately to keep the relationships he’s forged over the last three seasons.
“All of these guys in this locker room are my brothers and I’m going to proceed forward that this could be it for all of us and we have to treat this season very specially and know that what comes out of it is what we want to come out of it, and that’s a championship,” he said.