|Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic||11.30.08 at 10:01 pm ET|
On Monday night the Boston Celtics (16-2) will take on the Orlando Magic (13-4) at the TD BankNorth Garden. The presence of Dwight Howard makes the Magic an Eastern Conference contender but, despite successful regular season records, Superman hasn’t been able to carry his team to the Eastern Conference Finals. After last season, the road to the championship goes through Boston and the Magic surely know it. Monday’s game could be a preview of a future postseason battle.
In the Last Five Games …
The Celtics enter this game on an eight-game winning streak while the Magic have won their last four. Both teams have been running up the scoreboard in the last five games. The Celtics have averaged 104.6 points while winning by an average 13.8 points; the Magic have averaging 102.8 ppg while winning by a less impressive 6.6 ppg. They have been nearly identical on the glass. Even though Howard leads the league in blocks, the Celtics have the slight advantage as of late. The Cs have also held their opponents to less than 18 assists per game, a troubling stat for the Magic who have been playing without point guard Jameer Nelson.
Dwight Howard looks to bring his show-stopping antics to Boston and dominate his way through the paint. Howard (21.8 ppg, 13.9 rpg, 3.9 bpg) will be a challenging match up for the foul-prone Kendrick Perkins. The only silver lining for the Celtics is Howard’s inconsistency at the free throw line (57.3% FT). He shot 21-42 in three games against the Cs last season.
All Banged Up
While this game could be a playoff preview, it will be without a handful of key players. The Magic’s Jameer Nelson (hip), Mickael Pietrus (thumb), and Keith Bogans (thumb) suffered early-season injuries. This leaves holes at the point guard spot, on the wing, and on the bench. The Celtics should expect to see more of shooting guards J.J. Redick and Courtney Lee. Veteran PG Anthony Johnson has been starting in place of Nelson and will try to contain the streaking Rajon Rondo. These injuries are depleting the Magic reserves and creating a daunting task to stop the Celtics deep bench.
In the past five games the Magic have held their opponents to a staggering 28% from three-point range. Their biggest challenge will be stopping Ray Allen, who is shooting 56% from downtown during that same stretch. On the contrary, Paul Pierce is shooting just 15.4%. Ironically Allen’s former teammate, forward Rashard Lewis, has the hot hand for the Magic (47.2% 3PG last five games). There’s also no telling if one time NCAA-phenom J.J. Redick will find his groove.
Check in with the WEEI Celtics Game Day Blog for all the latest from the Celtics-Magic match up.
|Sounds of the game… Celtics 102, 76ers 78||11.28.08 at 11:48 pm ET|
When Paul Pierce scores a season-low six points on 1-of-6 shooting and you still build a 30-point fourth quarter lead, you know you’re a pretty good team. The Boston Celtics, however, may be much, much more than just a pretty good team. They may be in the middle of a season that could better last season’s 66-win world championship run. The Celtics toyed with a Philadelphia 76ers team that showed off six-year, $80 million free agent Elton Brand for the first time. He was of little use to the Sixers since Philly showed it was completely incapable of solving Boston’s swarming defense. The final result, Boston won, 102-78, improving to 15-2 and expanding their lead to an amazing six games in the Atlantic Division.
|Postgame News and Notes: Celtics vs. 76ers||at 8:48 pm ET|
Last season the Boston Celtics added two All-Stars and got out to one of the hottest starts in basketball. This season the Philadelphia 76ers added one All-Star and still haven’t figured out how to win with him. On Friday night Elton Brand posed no problem for the Celtics as they dismantled the 76ers 102-78. This loss wasn’t Brand’s fault, though. The 76ers as a whole failed to help and the Celtics took advantage of this struggling team.
- Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen combined for 38 points (16-27 FG). Paul Pierce added just six (1-6 FG). “We ran a few plays for Ray, noticed he had the hot hand and that’s what we try to do,” Pierce said. “Ray is really shooting lights out as of late so the guys around him were doing a good job of getting him open and he’s knocking shots down.”
- The 76ers are looking to learn from the Celtics cohesiveness. “They’re a very good team, well coached team,” said Andre Miller. “They play well together. You have to tip your hats to them. We should take something from this and move onto the next game.”
- Last season Miller flustered Rajon Rondo and the Celtics. Tonight Rondo got the best of the veteran PG, posting 6 points, 12 assists, and 6 rebounds to Miller’s 12 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds. Rondo’s ball handling kept his teammates on point and his 12 dimes proved to be more valuable than Miller’s 12 points.
The Celtics (15-2) are leaving tonight for Charlotte, where they will take on the Bobcats on Saturday night. The 76ers (7-9) play the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night.
|Wright Has No Regrets in NBA||11.27.08 at 1:00 am ET|
A year ago Brandan Wright worked out with the Boston Celtics as a top prospect in the 2007 NBA Draft. The Celtics passed on Wright and pulled off the Ray Allen trade, while the big man from UNC landed with the Golden State Warriors by way of the Charlotte Bobcats.
Wright has yet to make a splash in the pros and many speculated that he should have stayed past his freshman year. But Wright, 21, is happy to be learning the ropes with the Warriors and enjoys growing up in the NBA.
“You have all these grown up responsibilities to take care of but I made a decision (to leave UNC) and I’m not regretting it or anything like that,” Wright said. “I’m enjoying myself. I think it would have been good both ways.”
|Jackson: Celtics Earned My Respect||11.26.08 at 9:04 pm ET|
Last season on the night before Thanksgiving, Stephen Jackson scoffed at the hype surrounding the Boston Celtics. They were 9-1 at the time, including a 23-point blowout over the Golden State Warriors, but Jackson could care less.
“They won nine games. If you all want to hype up nine games so be it. I’m not,” he said at the time. “Like I said, they are just another NBA team just like everybody else. They’ll get praise when they win a championship.”
Exactly one year later, the now-defending champions came from behind the defeat the Warriors 119-111 in Boston. Jackson posted 30 points, six assists, and five rebounds, and looked like he was out for redemption.
So was he playing with a vengeance? His answer may surprise you.
“They definitely have my respect,” he said. “They have three great players and a great leader in (Rajon) Rondo. He definitely is a key to them winning games. Like I said, they have my respect now. If I said that year, I take it back. They’ve definitely earned it.”
The trio of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen have achieved the goal Jackson is working toward with Corey Maggette and the newly acquired Jamal Crawford. Now he is in the same situation and can appreciate what the Celtics accomplished last season.
“It’s hard to not respect them after the season they had,” Jackson said. “When you’re a team that signs three big guys and you haven’t won a championship, you have to earn the respect. And they’ve earned it.”
|Celtics Holiday Weekend Lineup||at 12:30 pm ET|
If you want to avoid the holiday traffic or aren’t one for Black Friday shopping, there is plenty of NBA action to keep you occupied.
Celtics on Comcast SportsNet
Wednesday, November 26
Celtics vs. Warriors
Friday, November 28
Celtics vs. 76ers
Saturday, November 29
Celtics at Bobcats
Today at 6:00 pm and after the game
Friday at 6:00 pm
Hosted by WEEI’s Michael Holley, this week’s Celtics Now features a panel discussion with Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, and super fan Marty Joyce, as well as features on Ray Allen’s turkey donations and the Celtics Dancers auditions. Segments include Court Vision breakdown on the “give and go” and “HolleyWould,” where Holley tells Celtics fans what he would have done in the NBA this week.
Tommy Heinsohn will return on Monday night when the Celtics take on the Magic at 7:30.
|Cassell and Perkins to Serve 250 Turkey Dinners||11.24.08 at 9:27 am ET|
On Tuesday Sam Cassell and Kendrick Perkins will serve 250 turkey dinners at the Walter Denney Youth Center in Dorchester. Full dinners, including a choice of turkey or ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, Smart Water, and Vitamin Water, will be provided by the Sam Cassell Foundation and Mark Wahlberg Foundation. Today Ray Allen will provide 275 dinners at the Vine Street Community Center as part of his Ray of Hope Foundation.