|Kevin Garnett gets his revenge on Andrea Bargnani||11.27.10 at 1:01 am ET|
Call it a lack of respect from certain members of the Raptors, an overwhelming desire to make good on a sub-par performance five days earlier or a kick in the butt from his head coach, Kevin Garnett was a man on a mission Friday night.
After Andrea Bargnani dropped 29 points on the Celtics last Sunday in a 102-101 come-from-behind Raptors win in Toronto, Celtics coach Doc Rivers pulled Garnett aside and essentially told him that can’t happen again. Garnett responded by scoring a season-high 26 points while holding Bargnani to 11 in Garnett’s best two-way game of the season as the Celtics prevailed, 110-101, Friday nigh at TD Garden.
“Doc has different ways of motivating me,” Garnett said. “He pulled me to the side, he wasn’t really happy with Bargnani situation up there and I wasn’t really pleased with that, either. And tonight was more of a concentrated effort to just make sure I kept him under control. It doesn’t take much to motivate me.”
Rivers was far more subtle in his post-game comments but hinted that he saw the KG everyone expected on Friday night.
“Kevin’s energy tonight was off the charts, and you knew it would be, if you know Kevin,” Rivers said. “Because the last time we played them, the guy in his position had a pretty good game, and that’s just Kevin Garnett.’
Then there were the words of Shaquille O’Neal, who hinted that Raptors forward Amir Johnson was talking trash and directing it at KG on the court. Pretty dumb idea, if true.
Garnett said he was inspired by his own fire and Rivers’ words of inspiration.
“It was 50-50 a little bit,” Garnett added. “I didn’t get much sleep [Thursday] night. That’s what it is. I’m going to see Bargnani as long as I’m in the league but I guess the way Doc came at me was the way he wanted it. That’s what he wanted. I likes to see me a little of the chain at times and I don’t mind being like that.”
|Rajon Rondo out again, Nate Robinson gets 3rd start||11.24.10 at 7:38 pm ET|
The Celtics are taking every precaution with the left hamstring of Rajon Rondo and have ruled him out of tonight’s game against New Jersey at TD Garden. He likely will miss Friday’s contest against Toronto as well, coach Doc Rivers said before Wednesday’s game.
‘I don’t think it’s a bad hamstring, but you just have to be careful with it,’ said Rivers, who added Rondo is “iffy” against the Raptors on Friday night.
Nate Robinson makes his third straight start in Rondo’s absence.
Rivers said Rondo, who will miss his third straight game, was leading the NBA in assists, dishing out 14.3 per game. The Celtics are 1-1 in the two games without him, losing at Toronto on Sunday before a big win on Monday in Atlanta.
|The NBA 30 on 30: Blogosphere Forecast (6 of 7)||10.26.10 at 1:14 pm ET|
NBA fans live a team’s ups and downs. They react to every draft pick, trade and free-agent signing. They debate the merits of the 15th man. They find significance in the most insignificant stats. They simply KNOW their team. So, too, do bloggers. That’s why we sought the opinion of the league’s best blogs — one for each of the 30 teams — to break down the team they cover and, of course, the Celtics.
ON THE NETS: I think the Nets are going to surprise some people this year and be a lot better than last year.
Not Oklahoma City Thunder good, but maybe eighth seed in the East good, which could still be below .500.
I think Brook Lopez is going to go a long way in establishing himself as an All-Star, and while I’m advocating being patient with Derrick Favors, I see him being used to lure a superstar over to New Jersey this season (Carmelo Anthony?).
ON THE CELTICS: The Celtics are clearly the class of the Atlantic Division this season, and they’re once again one of the favorites to be representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
With their age, I can see them hitting some ruts during the regular season, and of course all of their core guys have to be healthy for the playoff run, but the Celtics are one of the few teams out there that I think are capable of defensively shutting down Superfriends in Miami.
With that in mind, I’ll be rooting for them if/when their paths cross.
ON THE KNICKS: The Knicks will be improved, assuming Amar’e Stoudemire stays healthy.
They need the trio of Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chander and Anthony Randolph to make strides on both sides of the ball to get the most out of Mike D’Antoni‘s transition offense quarterbacked by Raymond Felton.
Of course, the Carmelo Anthony situation will continue to loom, and this is a pressure-packed season for the coach, seeing that his system has taken a tremendous hit with fans over the last two years.
They still have roster flexibility, and I expect them to land Anthony, but in the meantime they have to consistently win free-throw attempt battles and out-rebound their opponents. Those are two constants for playoff teams.
If they do that — and knock down their open jumpers — they’ll be a playoff team. If they don’t, it could be another lost season in the Big Apple.
ON THE CELTICS: I actually love what the Celtics did this offseason. To this day, I think they beat the Lakers if Kendrick Perkins doesn’t get hurt.
But they’ve loaded up the front line with size, and age, with both Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal, which is key because of the status of Perkins’ health — and it makes them deeper up front against the likes of Miami and Orlando.
The Celts owned the Magic last postseason because they chose to guard Dwight Howard 1-on-1 in the post, and it proved effective as he couldn’t kick out to open shooters. Perhaps more importantly, with the Big 3 in Miami, I believe the Heat are vulnerable up front. That’s the way to attack them.
If Rajon Rondo continues off his impressive playoff performance and the Celtics maintain health, then they should be right there in the end once again.
Off the floor, I love the addition of Lawrence Frank, one of the most prepared minds in the game today.
ON THE 76ERS: The Sixers had an up-and-down summer. New general manager Rod Thorn and head coach Doug Collins are both clear upgrades.
Sending Willie Green and Jason Smith out of town was a case of addition by subtraction.
Evan Turner is taking his lumps right now, but while he may not be scoring as much as we’d hoped, he’s producing in other areas and contributing while figuring out the difference between the Big Ten and the NBA.
I’d be feeling much better about the Sixers’ prospects if it wasn’t for the Samuel Dalembert trade. Ed Stefanski pulled the trigger on a deal that basically gutted the Sixers interior defense and defensive rebounding without a thought to who would fill that void.
To make matters worse, he took back the second year on Andres Nocioni‘s contract in the deal, which submarined the Sixers’ cap space for next summer. It was a horrible trade from every angle.
If the Dalembert trade hadn’t been made, I’d feel pretty confident in predicting a 10-15 game turnaround for this team and probably a trip to the playoffs in Colllins’ first season at the helm.
As things stand, however, the Sixers’ talented perimeter players won’t be able to cover for their feeble stable of bigs, and it’s a stretch to think they’ll win 35 games. If I had to make a prediction today, I’d say 30-52.
ON THE CELTICS: From the outside, looking in, the Celtics don’t look as strong as they did last season.
Their core is a year older, and the addition of Shaq is going to open some major holes in their defense.
That being said, they have a cakewalk through the Atlantic, and they’ll probably finish somewhere between the No. 2 and 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, depending on health.
If Kendrick Perkins comes back healthy in time for the playoffs, they could make a return trip to the Finals, but I think that’s a bit of a long shot.
ON THE RAPTORS: 26 wins.
The Raptors aren’t as bad as ESPN is making them out to be. They could be on par or better than teams like Philadelphia, Indiana, New Jersey, Detroit, Washington and New York, so there will be wins to be had.
The defensive effort has been solid in training camp, and if the Raptors can get consistent offensive production out of Andrea Bargnani and the Italian improves his defensive awareness, they have enough players who can play and carry the load.
Jarrett Jack, Linas Kleiza and Leandro Barbosa can complement the youth of DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson, but the question will be whether the Raptors can rely on their defense to keep them in games when their star-starved offense goes into a funk.
Last year, they were dead last in defensive rating. If they can become a middle-of-the-pack team, it could be a decent rebuilding year, but I don’t see the playoffs on the horizon.
ON THE CELTICS: The health of the two O’Neals and Kevin Garnett will dictate how the Celtics will fare.
The Raptors saw first-hand how volatile things can be with Jermaine O’Neal if he’s injured, and if you have to rely on Shaq giving you cover at center, then the Celtics could be in trouble in the postseason, much like they were when Perkins went down in the Finals.
From what I’ve seen of Rajon Rondo, he looks to have improved his outside game to the point where he can make a sagging defense pay.
Barring injury, I’d pick the Celtics to win 57 games but lose to the Bulls in the postseason (yes, I think the Bulls will be good) as Tom Thibodeau comes back to haunt you.
If injuries hit early, there will be a firesale.
Stay tuned for the final portion of this seven-part series: the Boston Celtics.
|Celtics’ preseason schedule||08.13.10 at 11:33 am ET|
Wednesday, October 6 – Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. at Verizon Wireless Arena
Sunday, October 10 – Toronto, 6:00 p.m. at TD Garden
Tuesday, October 12 – Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m. at Wachovia Center
Wednesday, October 13 – New York, 7:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden
Friday, October 15 - Toronto, 7:00 p.m. at Air Canada Centre
Saturday, October 16 – New York, 7:30 p.m. at XL Center
Wednesday, October 20 – New Jersey, 7:30 p.m. at TD Garden
|Injuries could impact Eastern Conference standings||04.07.10 at 12:47 am ET|
Andrew Bogut’s gruesome arm injury was the first of many to hit the Eastern Conference over the last few days. Joe Johnson will miss at least two games with a sprained thumb and Chris Bosh’s status is unclear after suffering a facial fracture on Tuesday against the Cavaliers.
With just over a week left in the regular season, these injuries could impact playoff seedings, including that of the Celtics.
Aside from the Washington Wizards, whom the C’s will play on Friday, their remaining competitors are vying for postseason positions. Johnson’s injury opens the window of opportunity for the Celtics to close in on the third seed (currently held by the Hawks), but their opponents will be trying to secure their own place in the playoffs as well.
Toronto Raptors (currently 8th)
Wednesday, April 7 @ Toronto
The Raptors were dealt a devastating blow on Tuesday when Bosh suffered an unintentional elbow to the face from Antawn Jamison. According to reports, Bosh will remain in Cleveland overnight. His status is unknown.
Milwaukee Bucks (currently 5th)
Saturday, April 10 @ Milwaukee
Wednesday, April 14 @ Boston
The Bucks posed problems for the Celtics when healthy, and now this team is on a mission without Bogut. The young squad still has plenty of weapons and will challenge the Celtics even if they don’t have their big man in the middle.
Chicago Bulls (currently one game out of 8th)
Tuesday, April 13 @ Chicago
If there is any team with something to play for right now, it is the Bulls. They were already edging toward the eighth spot. Now the injury of Bosh has created an opportunity for them to grab it if they can win enough games down the stretch.
|O’Bryant wasn’t ready||02.20.09 at 3:12 pm ET|
‘I feel like I’m pretty ready,’ he said prior to the All-Star Break. ‘I never feel like I’m not ready, I don’t want to get down on myself. But I feel like I’m ready. In Doc’s eyes I might not be, so I’ve just got to take his advice and keep pushing forward.’
In spite of being a big man on a team in need of length, O’Bryant averaged just 4.2 minutes in 26 games this season (less playing time than everyone on the Celtics except for Sam Cassell and J.R. Giddens). Last summer an informed source questioned if O’Bryant would be able to shake his two-guard mentality in a seven-foot frame. His defensive abilities continued to be a cause for concern.
‘He’s been stressing Celtics D,’ O’Bryant said of Rivers. ‘It’s different than any other team’s expectations. They’re a championship team and you’ve got to be able to play at a championship level.’
O’Bryant was looking forward to growing as a shot blocker and rebounder in the second half of the season. He was eager to back up Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins off the bench. Now he can try to do the same for Chris Bosh.
|Eastern Conference trades begin||02.13.09 at 1:44 pm ET|
ESPN the Magazine‘s Ric Bucher has reported the Miami Heat have agreed to trade Shawn Marion and former Boston Celtic Marcus Banks to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Jermaine O’Neal and Jamario Moon. According to Bucher, the deal is pending league approval and would be announced Friday afternoon if it goes through.
So what could this mean for the Celtics?
This move could get the Raptors back to the playoffs, potentially as a first round match up for the Celtics. Even though they have the second worst record in the East (21-34), they are only five games out of the eighth spot. The problem was O’Neal could not figure out how to play a secondary role to Chris Bosh (as he told WEEI.com in November). Rather than clogging the post, Marion can spread the floor with his outside shot. This balances the Raptors lineup, one that certainly has the potential to make a push in the East.
The Heat (28-24) currently hold the fifth spot in the East. The addition of O’Neal gives them the big body they have been missing since Shaq left and a reliable option for Dwyane Wade to find down low. Suddently the Heat have a solid 1-2 punch.
The Celtics swept the Raptors 4-0 this season. They are 1-0 against the Heat and will face them next on March 11 in Miami.
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