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Celtics Community Roundup 01.01.10 at 3:27 pm ET
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The Celtics wrapped up 2009 by spending some extra time in the Boston community. See a few examples of how they ended the year with their fans:

Rajon Rondo hosted the DD Perks Rewards Pick-up on the Parquet

Rajon Rondo hosted the DD Perks Rewards Pick-up on the Parquet

- The Celtics brought cheer to patients from the Boston Medical Center’s Pediatric Hematology Program at Dick’s Last Resort. The C’s posed for pictures and signed autographs for the children, who also received a visit from Santa.

- Rajon Rondo and Glen Davis participated in a Stay in School assembly to honor high-acheiving students at the Thomas Edison Middle School in Brighton. They encouraged students to stay in school by using the acronym PRIDE (perseverance, respect, integrity, decisions, and education). Presented by Arbella Insurance, the Stay in School program is a collaboration of efforts from the Celtics, New England Sports Museum, Northeastern University Center for the Study of Sport in Society, and Boston Public Schools.

- As part of the Read to Acheive program, presented by Kia Motors, Davis, Paul Pierce, and J.R. Giddens read and played board games with children from the GRASP after school program at the Marshall Elementary School in Dorchester and the Orchard Gardens Community Center in Roxbury. Each child received a board game courtesy of the Highland Street Foundation.

- Rondo hosted the “DD Perks Rewards Pick-up on the Parquet” for six lucky Dunkin’ Donuts DD Perks Rewards Card holders. The winners received an opportunity to play round robin pick-up games with their five-person teams on the TD Garden parquet. Rondo also participated warm up drills and a shoot-around.

- Ray Allen hosted a giving tree at the Natick Collection and collected hundreds of gifts for children from the Boys and Girls Club of Boston’s Jordan Club in Chelsea and the Boston Centers for Youth and Families. The event was presented by Allen’s organization, the Ray of Hope Foundation.

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Allen to play with injured finger 12.20.09 at 5:44 pm ET
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BOSTON – Ray Allen will play tonight against the Timberwolves with a hyperextended right ring finger.

“I think we all have a finger or two that’s probably pointing in another direction,” he said prior to the game. “It’s just an occupational hazard.”

Allen injured his finger during practice on Saturday playing defense against Tony Allen. He considered taping it for gametime but decided against it. He would be more aware of the injury that way.

Even though Allen acknowledged that his finger is sore and he could aggravate it during the game, he pointed out “Once I start playing, nothing bothers me.”

Allen stuck to his gameday routine even with a bothersome finger. Aware of the snowstorm, he left his house at 1:45pm to get to the Garden with plenty of time for his pregame shooting. Allen did, however, have one regret.

“The mistake I made was I didn’t get those little poles to stick in my grass because [the snow plower's] all over the grass. He’s killing my grass,” he said with a laugh. “When April roles around I’m going to look at my grass and there’s going to look like some moles or some hedgehogs are climbing out of my grass. Just tore my yard up.”

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Allen expected to play with finger injury 12.19.09 at 3:18 pm ET
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WALTHAM – Ray Allen hyperextended his right finger during an open practice on Saturday. He seemed to jam his finger and left practice, but later returned to shoot free throws. He is expected to play on Sunday against the Timberwolves.

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Allen to host Giving Tree event 12.17.09 at 5:20 pm ET
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On Saturday, December 19 Ray Allen will be participating in a Giving Tree event at the Natick Collection.

Beginning at 10am, shoppers may select an ornament from the tree, located in the Infinity Pool Court. Each ornament includes the wish list of a child from the Boys and Girls Club of Boston’s Jordan Club in Chelsea and the Boston Centers for Youth and Families.

Allen will sign autographs for Giving Tree shoppers from 4pm to 6pm to show his appreciation of their generosity.

“Not only am I trying to give back, I’m encouraging people to give back,” Allen said. “And people are doing it, it’s not like it’s for me, but it’s a way to help. We’ve all been that child that hasn’t gotten what we wanted for Christmas. So if we can try to step into the community and try to find kids and try to make their wishes come true, the giving part is the best part of the holidays. I like to be on that end of it.”

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Fast Break: Celtics vs. Wizards 12.10.09 at 11:18 pm ET
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A 7-12 record can be deceiving when the team that carries it features Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison. The Wizards came to play on Thursday night, but ultimately it was the Celtics‘ chemistry and experience that prevailed, 104-102, in Washington.

The Celtics went up 14 at halftime but came out cold in the third quarter. The Wizards went on a 22-6 run to start the second half before the Celtics fought back, 13-2, to end the quarter. With both teams swapping buckets in the fourth, this game could have gone either way. It came down to clutch shots and free throws, with the Celtics ultimately claiming the two-point edge.

Player of the game: After being benched in the first quarter with two personal fouls, Rajon Rondo carried the Celtics to the win. Rondo posted 21 points (10-20 FG), 11 assists, and three rebounds. Six points and three assists came in the final nine minutes of the game. He recorded his ninth double-double of the season. Segue into …

Turning point of the game: With just over a minute to go and the game tied at 98 apiece, Kevin Garnett set a pick that opened up the baseline for Rondo. Rondo got up for a one-handed slam that made a statement and put the Celtics back on top.

- Ray Allen scored his 20,000th career point in the third quarter. He now ranks 33rd in career points all-time and fifth among current players behind Garnett (21,601). Click here for more on the milestone.

- The Celtics outrebounded the Wizards, the league’s third-best rebounding team, 40-34.

- The C’s improved to 10-2 both when leading at halftime and scoring 50+ points in the first half.

- All of the Celtics starters scored in double digits. Kendrick Perkins (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Rondo posted double-doubles.

- Tony Allen posted eight points and three rebounds in his second game back (ankle).

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Celtics-Spurs Preview 12.03.09 at 11:36 am ET
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After nailing down their fifth straight win on Tuesday night, a 108-90 thumping of the Charlotte Bobcats, it appears the Boston Celtics (14-4) might be regaining their swagger.

Meanwhile, a certain team in San Antonio (9-6) might be hitting its own stride. After making a splash this summer by trading for former New Jersey Nets star Richard Jefferson (career 17.6 ppg), it appeared the Spurs positioning themselves to contend for another NBA title. But after a three-game skid dropped their season record to 4-6, questions began to surface about age, chemistry and hunger for winning.

So much for that.

Five straight victories for San Antonio and they’re right back in the title talks. That being said, the black and silver has been beating up mostly on second-tier teams; their game Thursday night against the Celtics will be another matter.

Both teams teams have been hot of late, and neither is a stranger to the NBA spotlight. The Celtics dominated the league in 2007 en route to their 17th NBA Championship, meanwhile seemingly every year the Spurs are on the brink of grabbing one of their own, including winning four titles in the past 10 years.

Tonight’s 8 p.m. clash has just about everything: the names, the legacy, and the anticipation. But how does everything else pan out? Let’s take a look:

Recent Performance

On A Roll – Both teams come in winners of five straight, though neither streaks have been star studded. Aside from Boston’s 92-85 win on Sunday over the 10-5 Miami Heat, none of the Celtic’s past five victories have come against opponents above .500. In fact, before taking down the Heat, the last time the Celtics beat a team with more notches in the win column than the loss column was back on Nov. 11, a 105-96 win over the now 10-7 Utah Jazz.

Similarly, San Antonio has benefited from a rather smooth stretch in their schedule, helping them get back on track after losing three straight in mid-November. The only above .500 team in the Spurs’ past five wins? The 10-8 Houston Rockets, whom San Antonio disposed of 92-84 back on November 27. But you’d have to travel all the way back to that same Nov. 11 to find the last time the Spurs beat an above .500 team prior to the Rockets, a 92-83 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Head to Head

Strangely Familiar They may not meet that often, but when they do, chances are it’ll be memorable. Boston and San Antonio have yet to collide this season, but last year they met two times – as they do every season – and both games were spectacular. The Spurs took the first game, a 105-99 nail-biter that had San Antonio taking the lead with 20.4 seconds left off a Roger Mason three, stunning a packed house at the Garden. The second game, however, was taken by the Celtics in an equally exciting matchup, an 80-77 victory at the AT&T Center in Texas. Kendrick Perkins netted the game-winner for the Celtics, who escaped San Antonio with KG on the bench for the entire fourth quarter – in part thanks to the Spurs’ six consecutive free-throw misses to close out the game.

Boston swept the two-game series in 2007-08, but the two split again back in 2006-07 with both teams winning their home matchups.

Scouting Report

Defense Wins Championships – It’s no secret to anyone in the NBA how the Spurs run their team: a combination of stout defense and scoring mainly from anyone on the floor named Duncan, Parker or Ginobli. But the addition of Richard Jefferson this season has helped alter that perception a little, giving the Spurs a potent fourth option when it comes to putting the ball in the net. So far in 2009, Jefferson has averaged a solid 13.5 points a game, a nice complement to point guard Tony Parker (16.5) in the absence of guard Manu Ginobli (groin injury). But regardless of how much or how little Jefferson steps up, the Spurs are still the same old Spurs, and they live and die by perennial All-Star forward and team-leader, Tim Duncan.

As a result, the most exciting matchup within the Spurs-Celtics rivalry is as it has been for the past three seasons – Tim Duncan vs. Kevin Garnett. Seeing those two do battle in the paint is like watching history collide. Whenever two NBA greats the likes of Garnett and Duncan meet on the hardwood, it’s bound to be exciting, particularly considering that the two play the same position and will literally be matching up head-to-head.

Key Statistic

.833 – After posting a very less-than-Allen .259% from beyond the arc in his past six games, Ray Allen heated up in a big way in the Celtics win over the Bobcats. Allen nailed five of six shots from three-point range on Tuesday night, was a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line and finished the night with a game-high 27 points. The Celtics would like that hot shooting to carry over to tonight’s game against a tough defensive squad in the San Antonio Spurs, who are surrendering 96.5 points a game, 10th in the NBA.

3/4 – the amount of major statistical categories in which Tim Duncan leads the Spurs, furthering the notion that the black and silver go as No. 21 goes. So far in 2009, Duncan leads San Antonio with 18.5 points per game, 10.8 rebounds and an intimidating 2.00 blocks per contest. He even ranks third on the team in assists with 3.7, a rarity for a power forward with the size of Duncan.

Health/Injuries

The Ginobli We All Know and LoveHe’s back on the injured list – again. Oh wait, never mind, he’s off. Wait, no, he’s back on. Okay, forget it – he’s off it now. Ginobli finally returned to the Spurs lineup on Sunday, a 97-89 win over the 76ers that had the Spurs’ star bench-player contribute 17 minutes on the court, netting only eight points and grabbing three rebounds. Obviously a sub-par game for Ginobli, who is averaging 13.5 points a game in ’09, but it’s apparent he doesn’t have his sea legs back yet after injuring his groin in the Spurs’ loss to the Jazz back on Nov. 19. Since then, the injury has kept the Argentinean born guard out for five-straight games until returning on Sunday. He’s only appeared in 10 games this season, and may not be at full-strength tonight against the Celtics, something that will undoubtedly hurt the Spurs both on the offensive and defensive ends.

On the other hand, San Antonio’s backup guard, Roger Mason (7.1), who was a thorn in the Celtics’ side last season, may be cleared to play Thursday night. The Spurs’ off-the-bench hot shooter has been dealing with a hamstring injury that held him off the court in Sunday’s win over the 76ers, but he is expected to be available for Thursday night’s clash with the Green. In his last two games before injuring the hamstring, Mason posted a combined 28 points, shooting a torrid 66.7 percent from the field.

Nothing new for the Celtics on the injury front, as the usuals — Glen “Big Baby” Davis” and Tony Allen — will be sidelined for tonight’s matchup. News for Tony Allen is that the Celtics will be without the 6-foot-4-inch shooting guard for the entirety of their four game road-trip, and he will be re-evaluated when the club returns to Boston.

Quotable

Big Four? - “Those situations were created by that little guy. He was excellent tonight, really. … I thought he controlled this game as well as anybody and I don’t know if his stat line is really as indicative of how much impact he had on this game.” – Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on Celtics’ point guard Rajon Rondo after Sunday’s game.

He’s no longer a secret in the NBA. Rajon Rondo continues to improve daily, and the Celtics have all the confidence in the world in him, evident in his new five-year, $55 million contract. It will be another tough night for the point guard however, as he goes toe-to-toe with perennial All-Star Tony Parker, who is averaging 16.5 points a game this season. It’s apparent that a lot of this game hinges on Garnett vs. Duncan – but make no mistake about it, it will be no small battle at the point.

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Celtics-Bobcats Preview 12.01.09 at 1:15 pm ET
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The Charlotte Bobcats have come a long way from their season-opening stomping at the hands of the Celtics, a humiliating 92-59 defeat. After falling to 3-9 following a seven-game losing streak, Charlotte (7-9) rolls into Tuesday night’s rematch as winners of four straight, including a 94-87 victory over LeBron James and the Cavaliers and a 92-76 beat-down of the Washington Wizards.

The Celtics (13-4), meanwhile, are in the midst of ‘righting the ship’ after some mid-month struggles, riding their own four-game win streak – including a hard-fought, come-from-behind win over Dwyane Wade and the Heat on Sunday.

The two collide tonight at 7:00 pm in Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, the Bobcats looking to settle the score after their miserable showing to open the season, and Boston looking to continue its return to dominance in the NBA.

Here’s how things are shaping up heading into tonight’s game:

Recent Performance

Heating Up – Both teams head into Tuesday night winners of four straight, each with highlights in their streaks. Charlotte is fresh off a bombing of the Wizards in Washington, and before that a fairly convincing seven-point win over LeBron and his Cavs. Before that? A 116-81 punishing of the Raptors, a team that took Boston to the final quarter in the Garden.

The Celtics aren’t exactly flying low either, however, coming off a solid win over a Miami squad that had every reason to beat them last Sunday. The most important thing to take from the Celtics’ past four games, however, hasn’t been just the W’s so much as it’s been the play of Kevin Garnett. Amidst all the worries and concerns about his knee injury and recovery, Garnett answered critics with an 11-for-12 shooting night Sunday versus the Heat, posting 24 points and 8 rebounds – and, more importantly, putting Boston on his shoulders to seal up a win.

Head to Head

Tough Customers –Glancing at their overall records the past few seasons, you’d assume Boston usually has its way with Charlotte. In fact, it hasn’t exactly been that easy. Aside from their season-opening blowout of the Bobcats to open Charlotte’s 2009 season, Boston has disposed of the Cats in regulation only once in their past three meetings – a five point nail-biter. The other two times Charlotte took Boston to overtime, and one of them was a Celtic loss. Tuesday’s game marks the second of three games the two will play against each other this season, with Boston holding a 1-0 edge in 2009.

Scouting Report

The Bobcats added some punch to their offense when they traded for the Warriors’ Stephen Jackson a few weeks ago. He has totaled 17.4 points per game since he joined Charlotte. That being said, it still remains Gerald Wallace’s team. Wallace leads the Bobcats (aside from Jackson’s seven-game stat sample) in both points per game (15.9) and rebounds per game (11.8). During their four-game win streak, Wallace has led the Cats in boards in every single match, and topped the team in points in three of the four, including back-to-back 31 point nights against the Raptors and Cavaliers.

That being said, in Charlotte’s season opener against the Celtics, Boston was able to corral Wallace, holding him to a season-low 10 points.

The Bobcats do run a fairly diversified offense however, with Boris Diaw (11.7), Raymond Felton (10.3), and Flip Murray (10.3) getting in on the action when they’re called upon.

Key Statistic

.259 – Ray Allen’s three-point shooting percentage over the past six games. The veteran sniper has been struggling with his stroke to say the least. In fact, Allen has only hit multiple three-balls once in his past six games – and twice in his past 10. It hasn’t exactly killed the Celtics, because amidst it all they’ve won four straight. But if No. 20 does not heat up, it could start hurting the Celtics down the road.

6 – The amount of games in a row that Gerald Wallace has hit double figures in rebounds. He is a beast on the boards, and it’s going to be a key for Boston to keep him off them. If they don’t, he can dictate a game (20 boards, 24 points Nov. 2 vs. New Jersey).

Health/Injuries

Same Old – Nothing new for the Celtics, who are still without Big Baby and Tony Allen. Ray Allen had missed last Sunday’s practice because of his son’s illness, and his status for the Miami game was in doubt, but it appears it won’t be an issue for Tuesday’s match-up. Similar story for Charlotte, which is operating with a full complement of players after the recent return of Tyson Chandler following his back spasms earlier in the season.

Quotable

Pedal to the Metal – “This is a time where you have to concentrate more. We understand what being a successful road team is about in the past. It will give us more focus time. I think we understand being on the road, we have to focus a lot more. You can’t play the way we’ve been playing at home on the road because you won’t get those wins.”

Celtics Captain Paul Pierce knows these games are important. The Bobcats aren’t a division rival. They aren’t really even a conference rival, and at 7-9, aren’t considered a playoff threat. But it doesn’t matter. The Celtics know they need to get all the wins they can find, and Tuesday night is no different.

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