Has Marbury Lost His Swagger?
April 22, 2009

Came across this article about Marbury in Newsday:

Marbury should be an effective player for the Celtics. He should give them more scoring off the bench, when Ray Allen needs a breather, and another penetrating guard for those drive-and-kicks that Rajon Rondo has mastered. But the most noticeable issue with Marbury is, after sitting out for over a year, his trademark first step isn’t what it used to be (and the second one is even less explosive). Perhaps more concerning for Rivers than anything Marbury is showing physically is what you see from him mentally. He looks like he’s trying too hard. Hesitating. Second-guessing.

I felt that Marbury was coming around. He had developed some chemistry with Eddie House and was starting to pile up the assists (averaging about 4.5 apg in his final six games).

The shot has not been there consistently. He’s just 1-6 from the field in the playoffs with a combined -19 +/-.

Maybe its rust, maybe its a problem establishing a rhythm off the bench. Your thoughts?

Other news: Derrick Rose will be named Rookie of the Year


Calling All Lip Readers
April 21, 2009

Anyone know what the hell KG said after Ray’s game winner? And how about that snarl?

(Courtesy SI.com’s Extra Mustard)

New Public Enemy #1
April 21, 2009

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Man, Joakim Noah is one really hate-able guy.  Part of it is because of his histrionics out on the court.  Part of it is, well, he’s REALLY ugly.  And part of it is his histrionics on the court (those REALLY bother me). I mean, what’s he doing here… is he really going after Kendrick Perkins?

It makes it easier to hate him when he plays well for Chicago… and he’s playing well.  He’s blocking shots and rebounding… making him very annoying for a Celtics fan.  There’s nothing more infuriating than playing good defense and then having someone like Noah come in and get the tip back.

The big talk for Chicago has been Derrick Rose’s game 1 and Ben Gordon’s game 2.  But it’s really been guys like Noah, and Tyrus Thomas, that have been killers for the C’s.  Every time the C’s started to make a little run, one of those guys would step up and do something that kept the Celtics from shaking the Bulls (Thomas and Noah combined for 10 blocks).

So some of this might be bitterness.  And maybe I’d like him if he played for me.  But right now, I hate Joakim Noah.

The Little Engine That Could
April 21, 2009

“And so when I walked to the locker room I told Rondo that he had the keys to the team – and just go play. And stop asking me questions.”

That’s Doc Rivers on our budding superstar point guard Rajon Rondo. He secured a triple double by the 3rd quarter. He had:

  • More assists than Rose and Hinrich combined
  • More rebounds than Joakim Noah
  • More steals than the Bulls starting five

All this on a sprained, swollen ankle. He was every bit as important as Ray Allen in last night’s win.

Like a proud father, I feel like I can’t mention Rondo without including Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins. Big Baby firing up jumpers like Danny Ainge. And Perk playing with a controlled ferocity on the boards. I give Perk immense credit for not snapping Noah in half.

Let’s step outside the 2009 playoffs for a moment. Rondo, Davis and Perk showed me there will be life after the Big 3.

On the injury front, Leon sprained his left knee last night. I wouldn’t expect to see him the rest of this series. Fortunately Scal should be back for Thursday’s Game 3 in Chicago (Did I actually type that sentence?).

If you want proof that the Celtics bench play was hideous, check out the +/- in the box score.

The Truth has been anything but Superman in this series. But there’s a bright side to that:

“I think we feel very confident because we feel like we haven’t played good basketball yet,” Pierce said. “We win [Game 2] and we feel like we should have won Game 1 and we just say, ‘I feel like this is pretty much our ‘C’ game. We are not a team that gives up 100 points in consecutive games. I think our best is yet to come.”

Today’s Links: Globe – Bulls Had No Answer For Rondo | Allen Helps Bring C’s Even | More KG Speculation | Dual Went Down to Last Shot | Herald – C’s Dodge Bullet | Bulpett – Ray Stuck in Dream | Buckley – Rondo Makes His Point | Leon’s Other Knee Acts Up | Del Negro and Doc Good Friends |Shootout Marks Anniv. of Jordan Explosion | Fox – Allen to the Rescue |WEEI – 5 Things We Learned |

Ray Ray!!!!!
April 20, 2009

Check out Noahs reaction to Rays game winner.

Check out Noah's reaction to Ray's game winner.

Ray’s three with 2 seconds left gives the Celtics a 118-115 win over the Bulls. It was the final shot in a magnificent duel between Ray (30 pts, 28 in the 2nd half) and Ben Gordon (42 pts, 6-11 3FG).

Ray’s three pointer with 25 seconds gave the Celtics a 115-113 lead, but a Gordon jumper tied it back up with :12 left.

What a ballsy effort/performance by the kids. Rajon Rondo (19 pts, 16 assists, 12 reb, 5 stls), Kendrick Perkins (16 pts, 12 reb, 2 blks and Big Baby Davis (26 pts, 9 reb) all played great games.

The Bulls blocked 14 shots and it seemed like 12 of those were on Paul Pierce. The Truth (18 pts, 8-19 FG, 8 reb) did not play well tonight. In the postgame presser, Doc said it appears as if Paul is looking for a double team that isn’t coming and that is making him tentative.

The Celtics just can’t shake the injury bug. Leon Powe sprained his left knee (it was the right knee that kept him out for several weeks) in the first half and did not return in the 2nd half. He went to the hospital for an MRI. Rondo took a nasty fall in the first half and sprained his ankle.

Perk and Noah (13 pts, 8 reb) mixed it up several times tonight. Noah caught a T for yapping at Perk in the 3rd quarter. It’s clear to me Noah is trying to make his bones as a “tough guy” in this series.

Box Score | Recap

More game photos after the jump…


“Prediction: Pain” In Game Blog
April 20, 2009

No way we go down 2-0 to this Bulls team.

To partake in our live in-game blog – Click Here

Cs Eye Game 2 Redemption
April 20, 2009

1 @ 0
Monday, April 20, 2009
7:00 pm ET
TD BankNorth Garden (Boston, MA)

The Celtics didn’t begin the 2009 NBA Playoffs as well as they would’ve liked. Granted, Game 1 was extremely intense and showcased a marvelous head-to-head battle from point guards Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo, but you never want to allow the road team to steal Game 1 from you in your building. Especially in overtime, as the defending champions, at the expense of an unstoppable (at least on that day) rookie.

Boston wasn’t the only higher-seeded club to blow a Game 1, however. Portland got romped by Houston on Saturday night, while Dallas played tough in San Antonio and Philadelphia pulled off a late 18-point comeback to steal one from Orlando.

Regardless, what’s in the past stays in the past, and there is still plenty of basketball to be played. As Tyson Chandler said last night after New Orleans’ 113-84 Game 1 loss to Denver, you’ll take yourself out of a series quickly if you dwell on previous outings. If you lose a game, you lose a game. From there, you’ve got to move on and try to get the next one.

Tonight, the Celtics will look to redeem themselves back at the TD BankNorth Garden in Game 2. Should Chicago manage to somehow pull off back-to-back victories, the defending champs would be knee-deep in trouble. On the same note, this team is more than capable of taking care of business tonight and taking homecourt advantage back in either Game 3 or 4.

Get your popcorn ready.

Regular Season Record: 62-20
Eastern Conference Seed: 2

Projected Starters

Series Leaders
PPG: Rajon Rondo (29.0)
RPG: Rajon Rondo (9.0)
APG: Rajon Rondo (7.0)
SPG: Ray Allen (3.0)
BPG: Glen Davis/Kendrick Perkins (2.0)

Primary Focus: Play Celtics Basketball
Simply saying “play Celtics basketball” is very vague. There are two things we should look for our beloved Celtics to do tonight. First and foremost, they need to close off penetration and refuse to allow Derrick Rose to dominate the paint like he did in Game 1. One of the keys in doing this is Rajon Rondo making the mental decision to move his feet and stay in front of him (easier said than done), as opposed to gambling and hoping that he can poke the ball free from behind. Take away as many lanes as possible, and make the Bulls shoot as many jumpers as possible. Even Tyrus Thomas. Trust me, he will not go 8/12 every night.

On the other side of the floor, the Celtics need to do what they have done since 2008 training camp: play as a team. Move the basketball. In Game 1, Doc Rivers and the Celtics fan base were very disappointed with all of the one-on-one play and lack of ball reversals, swings, and draw-and-kicks. As Doc noted, it seemed as though everybody was trying to be “the man.” If the Celtics want to win games and advance in these playoffs, they’re going to have to move the ball and work for better shots.

Regular Season Record: 41-41
Eastern Conference Seed: 7

Projected Starters

Series Leaders
PPG: Derrick Rose (36.0)
RPG: Joakim Noah (17.0)
APG: Derrick Rose (11.0)
SPG: 5 Tied (1.0)
BPG: Joakim Noah/Tyrus Thomas (3.0)

Primary Focus: Own the Glass
Prior to Game 1, I noted that it was important for Chicago to make their presence felt on the glass. They did just that, as they held a 54-45 rebounding advantage and even got 17 out of Joakim Noah by his lonesome. If Chicago can continue to hit the boards like they did in Game 1, they’ll continue to give Boston problems.

Injury Report
Luol Deng (anterior right tibial stress fracture – out)
John Salmons (strained groin – will play)
Jerome James (ruptured achilles tendon – out)
Kevin Garnett (right knee – out)
Brian Scalabrine (post-concussion syndrome – out)

Keys to Victory

  • Close Off Penetration, Protect the Paint
  • Ball Movement
  • Control the Defensive Glass
  • Get Something Out of Ray Allen

These Are Shank’s Glory Days
April 19, 2009

He’s like the mother that finds that one line that pisses you off at every family dinner.  You know the one… “if you had just gone to law school like I said, you wouldn’t be wasting all that time on the internet”.  Or something like that.

It cuts through you.  You walk in knowing its coming, and you swear you’re going to laugh it off, but then when it happens you just want to throw an ottoman through the bay windows.

Yes, Shank is basking in the glory of Boston failure… or at least the hint of it. Check out how he starts today’s pile of dung.

The Celtics’ playoff quest is just getting started, and it feels like it’s already over.

The Celtics don’t have Kevin Garnett and they are not going to repeat. They are in for a bloody death and it’s just a matter of who plays the executioner.

One game into a 7 game series, a 2 point OT loss in which one team played its absolute best and the other played pretty close to its absolute worst, and there’s Shank smirking as he needles people like us into talking about him.  But he’s not alone.  A lot of people are jumping off the bandwagon.  To them I say good riddance.  We don’t want you around.  And don’t come back when the C’s handle the Bulls the rest of this series.

First of all, there’s no way Derrick Rose is going to hit shots like thisor this… for an entire series.  He’s good.  Damn good.  He showed he’s got balls and he’s not afraid of the Celtics.  But even for a great player, those shots are total BS.

But Rajon Rondo’s got to ease back on the gambling when he’s defending Rose straight up.  Rose is too damn quick for that.  His crossover is too good.  His first step is too fast.  If you go for the steal, you’d better get it.  And yesterday, Rondo didn’t get it.  And because Rose is so fast, going for the steal at the top of the key means by the time your help realized you’ve been burned, Rose is already in the middle of the lane.  They can’t take the charge because there’s no way to get out of the circle… and there’s no one else who’s remotely quick enough to steer him away from the hoop.

So the best way for Rondo to defend Rose is to just defend him straight up.  Don’t reach, just move your feet.  If a pick comes, go under it and turn him into a jump shooter.  If he’s in the lane, he’s scoring and passing.  I don’t care if he scores 30 again.  If he gets them all on jump shots and he’s not distributing, the Celtics will be in a great position.

The second problem for the C’s is Ray Allen.  It’s not really a huge problem.  He had one horrible game.  But he’s gotten away from his most successful formula this season:  Open the game driving and taking mid-range jumpers… and then start bombing away when the defender backs-off.  Ray is one of the best pure shooters the game has ever seen, but sometimes he falls in love with the 3.

I think early on, he needs to pass up the 3, take a dribble or two, and take that middle jumper to get going.  The defender will be flying past him expecting the shot, so chances are good he’ll get some really good looks.  That will force some help to step up, and it might lead to some easy baskets under the basket for someone like Perk or Leon.  It will force the defense to move, which is something the Bulls defense didn’t have to do yesterday.

And that’s the third problem the Celtics have.  If Rondo didn’t take over in spurts, the Celtics would have had no offense at all.  There was one play where Rondo was beyond the 3 point line on the right side, and he skipped the ball to Paul Pierce, who was posting his guy up above the left block.  It’s the first time I’ve EVER seen that.  NORMALLY, the ball would get swung around and Pierce would get a little entry pass.  For some reason yesterday, ball movement disappeared.  I’m all for Paul Pierce putting the cape on and taking over, but it’s always been most successful when the offense is run for most of the game.

The Bulls are young and athletic.  They rely on their physical skills to win.  If you make them move around, they’ll make mistakes, and it will lead to easy baskets.  If you take away what they want to do, they’ll try to force it, and they’ll turn the ball over.  They’re a .500 team for a reason.  Make them play like it.

I’ll start the links with this:  KG eyes surgery date.  It might eliminate any shot of KG coming back.  I didn’t want to make the whole post about it, because I’m sick of talking about KG.  If he’s not here, he’s not here… let’s move on.

Herald:  Celtics trampled by running BullsUsually clutch Pierce misses FTNo excuse for this effortRose a thorn in C’s sideRondo shines all by himself 1st series puts chill in Ray’s shot |  Globe:  Rose’s Garden in game 1 For Pierce, performance was half bad This rook has all the movesYoung Bulls gain confidenceAllen aim:  improve accuracy Rivers find inquiries unsuitable |  Megliola:  for starters, this wasn’t the plan |  Souza:  C’s fall short |  Camerato:  Bulls run C’s out of game 1 |  Mike Petraglia:   Doc-we did it as much as they didBulls teach champs a lessonRockets beat BlazersCavs beat PistonsMavs beat Spurs

Epic Battle
April 18, 2009

It was an epic battle of the point guards today. Derrick Rose shut me, and all my talk about a rookie wilting in the spotlight, up with 36 points and 11 assists in 50 minutes.  Rajon Rondo had 29 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists… but other than that, the Celtics flat out sucked offensively, and it cost them.  The Bulls take game 1, 105-103.

Ray Allen had his worst game of the season, scoring 4 points on 1-11 shooting.  Pierce was 8-20 for 23 points, but a lot of it came courtesy of a play we haven’t seen in a while (for good reason), Paul Pierce posting his guy up about 40 feet from the basket, then turning and making a 1-on-1 move.  Not to mention, Pierce had a chance to put the C’s up 1 with 2.6 seconds left and Chicago without any time outs, but he missed the free throw.

Chicago did a great job defending the basket.  They played with a ton more energy.  The Celtics played like crap.  Doc summed it up:

“There was no ball movement. It just looked like everybody decided that they were gonna be The Man tonight.”

I guess if you wanted to take an optimistic approach, the Bulls beat the Celtics by 2 in overtime… and it took a God-like performance from Derrick Rose and crappy performances from Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.  What are the odds that both of those things happen again?

Box Score

Postseason Kicks Off In Boston
April 18, 2009

0 @ 0
Saturday, April 18, 2009
12:30 pm ET
TD BankNorth Garden (Boston, MA)

Do you smell that? Can you taste it? Can you feel it? Playoff basketball is finally back after a year’s hiatus, and the energy is back in Boston as the men in green are set to begin a consecutive postseason run.

Everybody has heard the news about Kevin Garnett, but we’re not going to dwell on that. As Ray Allen said to the media at yesterday’s practice, “nobody feels sorry for us.” If anything, it allows the opposition to truly feel that they have a chance to take out the defending champs.

The loss of KG is unfortunate. Sure, it sucks, but the sky is not falling and we certainly still have a lot of basketball to play. In addition, we’ve got obstacles to overcome and naysayers to silence. It all starts this afternoon in Boston, for a Game 1 matinee against the seventh-seeded Chicago Bulls to kick off the 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

To the fans attending the game (including myself): in honor of KG, let’s make sure we give our team as much of a boost as possible and “keep this mutha rockin.”

Let’s go Celtics!

Regular Season Record: 62-20
Eastern Conference Seed: 2

Projected Starters

Regular Season Leaders
PPG: Paul Pierce (20.5)
RPG: Kevin Garnett (8.5)
APG: Rajon Rondo (8.2)
SPG: Rajon Rondo (1.9)
BPG: Kendrick Perkins (2.0)

Primary Focus: Protect the Paint
The Chicago Bulls are not an overwhelmingly fearsome perimeter shooting team. In fact, Doc Rivers mentioned that very notion at yesterday’s practice. The Ben Gordons, Kirk Hinrichs, and Tim Thomas’ of the world can stroke it from deep, but Del Negro’s group as a whole is mightily inconsistent outside of that 15-foot mark. If the Celtic defense can deny penetration, keep Chicago’s creators out of the paint, and limit Chicago’s second-chance opportunities, the defending champs will be in good shape on the defensive end of the floor.

Regular Season Record: 41-41
Eastern Conference Seed: 7

Projected Starters

Regular Season Leaders
PPG: Ben Gordon (20.7)
RPG: Joakim Noah (7.6)
APG: Derrick Rose (6.3)
SPG: Kirk Hinrich (1.3)
BPG: Tyrus Thomas (1.9)

Primary Focus: Own the Glass
Even without Kevin Garnett, it remains clear that the Celtics are Chicago’s superior. However, Chicago can make things interesting by putting extra pressure on Boston by crashing the boards and racking up second-chance opportunities. The more rebounds you secure, the more possessions you take away from the opposition, and ultimately, the better chance you have of dictating the pace of the game.

Injury Report
Luol Deng (anterior right tibial stress fracture – out)
John Salmons (strained groin – will play)
Jerome James (ruptured achilles tendon – out)
Kevin Garnett (right knee – out)
Brian Scalabrine (post-concussion syndrome – out)

Keys to Victory

  • Close Off Penetration
  • Control the Defensive Glass
  • Selflessness
  • Attack, Attack, Attack