|Fast Break: Raptors spoil Brad Stevens’ Celtics debut||10.07.13 at 9:58 pm ET|
The new-look Celtics may have lost their preseason debut, but the defeat wasn’t entirely discouraging.
In front of the handful of fans not watching the Red Sox, four Celtics reached double figures in the 97-89 loss to the Raptors. Gerald Wallace (16 points) led the way, followed by Jared Sullinger (14 points, 6 rebounds), Avery Bradley (12 points) and Kris Humphries (11 points). Of course, other things happened, too.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Tough start: Let’s just say the introduction to the Brad Stevens Era defense wasn’t pretty. The Raptors grabbed an 8-0 lead, including a pair of uncontested Jonas Valanciunas dunks, and then stretched it to 14-2 against a starting lineup of Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries.
No contest: The Celtics played everyone on the 14-man roster in the first half with the exception of Phil Pressey, and things didn’t get much better defensively. The Raptors shot 59.4 percent from the field and scored 53 points in the opening 24 minutes, including 26 in the paint and 10 on second chances. Somehow, only two of those 53 points came on the fast break, which means the half-court defense wasn’t so good.
Window watching: At halftime, the Celtics had six rebounds. Six. That’s one every four minutes. Their leading rebounder? Six guys with one apiece (four bigs, Gerald Wallace and Avery Bradley). Meanwhile, the Raptors had 22 boards at the break. Valanciunas had a half dozen, or as many as the entire Celtics roster combined. Things improved in the second half, but Toronto still out-rebounded the C’s 46-26 for the game.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Frontcourt depth: The first three non-guards off the bench — Wallace, Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger — transformed the early 14-2 deficit into a three-point lead late in the first quarter. Olynyk’s passing game was the biggest surprise, as the rookie registered more assists (5) than the rest of his teammates (4) through the first two quarters.
Vitor FAVErani: The mystery behind the Brazilian big man landing in Boston and the unveiling of his mohawk during a glorious Media Day interview established Faverani as the Honorary Brian Scalabrine Award winner of this preseason (also known as the Greg Stiemsma Lifetime Achievement Award), and he didn’t disappoint in his Garden debut. In the 7-footer’s first three minutes, he threw down a breakaway dunk, poached a pair of steals, blocked a shot and set a handful of hard screens. Vitor is still the best.
Over the Hump: For all the off-the-court drama that has plagued Kris Humphries, he quietly showed up early in Boston (in great shape, too), served as a leader to the younger Celtics during pre-camp workouts, earned a starting spot out of camp and then drew a pair of charges early in the first preseason game. In other words, he’s motivated and could win over some Celtics fans this season. In related news, Humphries is in a contract year.
|Fast Break: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce help Celtics spread wealth||03.13.13 at 9:58 pm ET|
Seven Celtics scored in double figures and every member of the team but Shavlik Randolph made a bucket as they handed the Raptors a 112-88 blowout win to bounce back from a loss to the Bobcats the night before.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
New Logo: In what’s becoming a nightly occurrence, Garnett passed another milestone, the Celtics crowd gave him a standing ovation and he reciprocated with a salute. This time, Garnett (12 points) passed Jerry West for 15th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with a layup two minutes into the second quarter. Midway through the third quarter, Pierce (15 points) surpassed Charles Barkley to claim 20th on the same list and also saluted the cheering crowd.
Green lantern: After shooting a combined 16-for-47 (34 FG%) in his last four games, Green came out firing. He made 5-of-7 attempts, including his lone 3-pointer, to enter the break as the lone player in double digits (12). His three rebounds paired with Garnett’s seven first-half boards gave the C’s an early edge on the glass. Green finished with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting.
Air Jordan: Jordan Crawford submitted his best two performances in a Celtics uniform in back-to-back games. After scoring 14 points in the stinker against the Bobcats, he totaled 12 against the Raptors, and each basket was more improbable than the next. The off-balance 3-pointer to beat the shot clock and a half dunk over a chagrined Raptor in transition were just two of his highlights. At some point, as the kid keeps hitting ridiculous shots, it’s more skill than luck, right?
WHAT WENT WRONG
Worst first: It’s hard to tell whether the first quarter was even basketball or not. The Celtics and Raptors combined for 11 turnovers (BOS 6, TOR 5), Jason Terry (12 points) earned himself a silly technical foul for batting the ball off an announcer and the C’s allowed 14 points in the paint. The result? A 22-21 Toronto lead after one.
Turd-quarter runs: The Celtics built a 53-40 lead a minute into the second half, but they proceeded to watch as the Raptors ran off a 9-0 run that included three layups and a Rudy Gay (19 points) dunk. For the sake of Garnett and Pierce’s legs, thankfully the C’s closed out the third quarter on a 28-13 run, taking an 81-62 edge into the final frame.
Finish rim: Avery Bradley came into the game shooting a season-worst 56 percent at the rim. Considering the number of times he gets himself open under the basket, that’s disturbing, but most of his misses seem to come in transition, when he’s 1-on-1 with a defender as he was at the end of the first quarter. Since Bradley’s defensive prowess will so often put him in transition, he needs to work on finishing at the rim.
Garnett scored 12 points and passed Jerry West for 15th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with a dunk with 6:30 left in the first half. Pierce scored 15 and passed Charles Barkley for 20th place on the same list with a pair of free throws midway through the third quarters.
Both Pierce and Garnett received a video tribute during separate timeouts and a standing ovation from the Garden crowd.
Riding a two-game losing streak, the Celtics (35-29) raced out to an early 18-12 lead but thanks to six first-quarter turnovers, allowed Toronto to go on a 10-4 run to end the quarter and trailed the Raptors, 22-21, after 12 minutes. Seven Celtics scored in double figures and Shav Randolph was the only Celtic not to score.
The Celtics took better care of the ball in the second quarter and raced out to a 49-40 lead at the half, as Jeff Green scored 12 points in the quarter. Green finished with a team-best 20 points while Jason Terry and Jordan Crawford had 12 each off the bench.
THe Celtics quickly built their lead to 13 in the opening minute of the third, 53-40, but the Raptors came back to close to within four, 60-56. The Celtics finally put the game away with a 21-6 run to end the third and head into the fourth with an 81-62 lead. Former Celtic Sebastian Telfair picked up his second technical foul in the third quarter intermission and was ejected.
The Celtics built their lead up to as many as 25 in garbage time, allowing Doc Rivers to take out Garnett with just under 10 minutes left. However, unlike the night before, Garnett was getting rest because of a blowout lead.
The win came one night after arguably Boston’s worst effort of the season in a 26-point loss to the lowly Bobcats in Charlotte. The Celtics have Thursday off and will practice Friday in advance of their rare Saturday night home game, a revenge contest against the Bobcats at the Garden.
The Celtics will conclude their three-game homestand with a Monday night game at the Garden with LeBron James and the Heat, who ran their win streak to 20 games with a narrow 98-94 win over the Sixers Wednesday night in Philadelphia. The Heat have road games against Milwaukee Friday and Toronto Sunday afternoon before taking on the Celtics in Boston Monday night.
For more from the team of Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach from the Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Kevin Garnett powers Celtics past Raptors||02.06.13 at 9:34 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett led all five Celtics starters in double-figure scoring with a season-high 27 points and powered a key run at the start of the fourth quarter as the Celtics outlasted the Raptors, 99-93, Wednesday night at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. His turnaround jumper with 46.6 seconds left put Boston up 96-91.
Garnett’s three-point play with 8:46 remaining capped a 10-0 run at the start of the final period as the Celtics overcame a sloppy third quarter to win their fifth straight game and improve to 25-23 on the season. Garnett was 11-of-18 from the field and added 10 rebounds in the win.
Paul Pierce had 12 points and 11 rebounds while former Raptor Leandro Barbosa chipped in 14 points off the Boston bench. Courtney Lee (15), Avery Bradley (11) and Brandon Bass (10) also scored in double figures. After dominating the previous four games, the Celtics bench was not a major factor Wednesday but still outscored Toronto’s reserves, 24-20.
The Celtics finished the first half on an 11-6 run to take a 50-45 lead. The Celtics scored first in the third quarter to increase their lead to seven, but Rudy Gay then came alive. Gay, who was 8-of-22 from the field, scored 13 of his team-leading 25 in the third.
The Raptors appeared ready to steal the game with a 17-4 run late in the third quarter. The Raptors would outscore the Celtics 34-19 to take a 79-69 lead heading into the final 12 minutes. The Raptors had five of their 11 steals in the quarter as Toronto took command.
But Garnett led a Celtics charge that saw Boston outscore Toronto 30-16 in the final 12 minutes to wrap up a fifth straight win. Barbosa had 12 of his 14 in the final period to help Garnett and the Celtics put the game away.
The Celtics will have little time to rest as they fly back to Boston and take on Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Thursday at 8 p.m. at TD Garden. The Lakers will not have the services of Pau Gasol, as the Lakers big man was diagnosed with a torn plantar fascia.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo, Celtics tame Raptors||11.17.12 at 2:59 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo didn’t just reach double-digit assists for his 33rd straight game, he notched 20 dimes for the second time in nine games, and the Celtics rolled to a 107-89 Atlantic Division victory against the Raptors.
Rondo reached that plateau while playing just 32 minutes and sitting the final 10:33 of the C’s first comfortable victory of the season (and, obviously, Gino’s first appearance in the Garden this year).
Jared Sullinger (12 points, 11 rebounds) posted his first career double-double, Jason Terry reached 20 points for the first time this season and the triumvirate of Leandro Barbosa, Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green all scored at least eight points off the bench, giving Paul Pierce (19 points in 25 minutes) and Kevin Garnett (15 points in 17 minutes) the rest they’ll need in Detroit on Sunday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Early Bird special: Despite the 12:30 p.m. Saturday start, the C’s Big Three awoke early. Garnett started 3-for-3 in his first five-minute stint, Pierce netted eight points in the opening 10 minutes and Rondo showed no ill effects from the sprained right ankle that kept him out of Thursday’s game, finishing the first quarter with seven assists. As a result, the Celtics shot 73.7 percent as a team and established a 30-17 lead through 12 minutes.
Domesticated dinosaurs: Raptors attack in packs, like hyenas. Unless they’re the Toronto kind. Even when the Celtics fell into their usual jump-shooting comfort zone, at least they were open shots. Wide open shots, to be clear. Toronto imports Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas were particular dreadful defensively. That repeatedly left Wilcox open for lobs, inflating Rondo’s ballooning assist total.
Tapping Sully: In recent games, Celtics coach Doc Rivers has avoided giving Jared Sullinger minutes without Garnett on the floor, but some Brandon Bass foul trouble forced the issue. And Sullinger delivered, grabbing six first-half boards off the bench and establishing a rare rebounding advantage for the C’s.
|Fast Break: Celtics team effort scratches Raptors||02.01.12 at 9:47 pm ET|
Without starting point guard Rajon Rondo for the eighth consecutive game, the Celtics shared the wealth anyway — assisting on 28 of their 37 field goals — to dominate the Raptors from start to finish, 100-64.
Captain Paul Pierce led the way with just 17 points for the Celtics (11-10), who eclipsed .500 for the first time since Jan. 4 and improved to 4-2 on the second night of the deadly back-to-backs. Ray Allen (12 points), Brandon Bass (12 points), Avery Bradley (11 points) and JaJuan Johnson (11 garbage points on 5-5 FGs) all reached double figures as 10 different Celtics scored at least six points.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Start C’s up: Considering both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back, it wasn’t pretty basketball early, but the Celtics went on a 12-0 run midway through the first quarter — thanks to six straight Bass points sandwiched by four from Pierce– that gave the C’s an early 25-9 advantage they never relinquished. Even against the likes of the Raptors, the Celtics have had trouble getting off to good starts, so Doc Rivers had to like what he saw against Toronto.
Moore Bradley: Without Rondo for an eighth straight game and Keyon Dooling for his 11th game in 12 outings, the point guard duo of Bradley and E’Twaun Moore (8 points) continued to hold court — this time both in the same game. Bradley’s getting a knack for getting free under the basket, and his fellow starters are rewarding him for easy buckets. And Moore is proving himself as simply a good NBA offensive player, especially evident on one particular shot clock-beating pull-up jump shot.
Downtown Kedrick Brown: The Celtics connected on 12-of-24 3-pointers, actually shooting almost as well from beyond the arc than they did overall (52%). The dozen treys tied a season high for the C’s. Pierce led the way, burying 4-of-6 from long distance, while Allen, Pietrus and Sasha Pavlovic each added a pair.
|Rajon Rondo rocks a mean fedora and says ‘I’m sure I’ll be OK’||01.18.12 at 11:39 pm ET|
If ever a player knew how to play it cool, it is Rajon Rondo.
Every Celtics fan thought the worst Wednesday night and had nightmarish flashbacks to last spring when he bent his left arm in a way it’s not supposed to bend in Game 3 against the Heat.
So when he took a nasty spill Wednesday night, breaking his fall with his right hand and wrist, there was legitimate reason to be worried.
With just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter Wednesday night, Rondo drove to the basket and was knocked to the ground by Linas Kleiza of the Raptors. Rondo said he is “day-to-day” with a sore right wrist, an injury he said afterward “hurt more” than the grotesque dislocated elbow he suffered against the Heat in the second round of the playoffs last spring.
“This was different,” Rondo said, sporting a cool black fedora. “This was more painful, honestly. The other one was just more of a shock.”
‘Honestly, I was laughing right afterwards,” added coach Doc Rivers. “I wasn’t [concerned] at first because I thought he was trying to get the flagrant. I thought he was laying down, trying to ‘ you know. And then when he stayed down then I was concerned. But I didn’t know what it was. And then when I saw him grabbing his arm or hand I was thinking ‘last year, playoffs’ obviously.’
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