Celtics-Bulls Series Preview
April 17, 2009

2 vs. 7

Series Schedule
Game 1: Sat, April 18 – CHI @ BOS – 12:30 pm ET
Game 2: Mon, April 20 – CHI @ BOS – 7:00 pm ET
Game 3: Thu, April 23 – BOS @ CHI – 7:00 pm ET
Game 4: Sun, April 26 – BOS @ CHI – 12:00 pm ET
Game 5: Tue, April 28 – CHI @ BOS – TBD (if necessary)
Game 6: Thu, April 30 – BOS @ CHI – TBD (if necessary)
Game 7: Sat, May 2 – CHI @ BOS – TBD (if necessary)

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)

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)

Celtics Keys

Close Off Penetration: The staple of the Boston Celtics a year ago was their dedication to team defense. They talked, they sacrificed, they made remarkably crisp defensive rotations, and they let the basketball world know that you are not going to win an NBA championship if you don’t commit to both ends of the floor.

Oh yeah, and last year’s club had Kevin Garnett at full strength. This year’s Boston Celtics do not, at least for the time being, as the team recently announced that Garnett’s knee has failed to respond to the healing process as smoothly as they would’ve liked. In fact, he may even miss the remainder of the season, no matter how far the Celtics go. The loss hurts in more ways than one, but the part Boston will miss the most is his defensive presence. Now, there is no defensive quarterback directing traffic and providing the most active roamer and second-line defender in the league. Kendrick Perkins is no slouch, but he can’t do it alone. That is why the perimeter defense becomes that much more important in this series.



Time To Stop Bitchin’, And Start Playin’
April 17, 2009

The reaction has been almost unanimous… at least from everything I’ve seen and read out there:  Without Kevin Garnett, the Celtics have no chance of repeating as NBA chance.  Goodbye Banner 18 is a headline that pretty much sums up everyone’s reaction.

I understand it.  I know why people might say that.  I just don’t believe it.

You say goodbye Banner 18… I say hello to it.

Quite honestly, I’ve had enough of the doomsday, “woe-is-us” sentiment that exists all too much on the Celtics internets today.  Accuse me of being the eternal optimist if you will.  I see this as a hurdle, not a death sentence.

I know goddam well what KG means to this team.  I also know goddam well that the Celtics, more than any other recent champion, are built on a TEAM concept.  They are more than just one player.  They run on more than KG’s intensity.  They have a defensive system that is built to run whether KG is in or out of the game.  It runs on rotations and help.  KG makes those rotations better and the help easier… but he doesn’t make it happen by himself.   They have an offensive system that doesn’t rely on any one player to score.  KG make scoring easier and the passing better… but he doesn’t run the offense by himself.

Glen Davis and Leon Powe will be asked to step up and maybe do things they haven’t done before.  Paul Pierce and Ray Allen will have to shoulder a little more of the load.  Rajon Rondo will have to be at his best every night.  The second unit is going to have to out play every other team’s second unit.

Is it a tall order?  Maybe.  Can you see those things happening?  Absolutely.

Don’t get sucked into all the hype over Cleveland and Los Angeles.  They are great teams, but they are not immortal.  They have their flaws.  And they’re not the Champ.  That 2008 banner hangs in Boston.  And the Celtics… and we fans… aren’t just going to hand it over, are we?

Hell no we’re not.  We’re going to play our role too.  We’re going to make up for KG’s intensity by making that building impossible for the other team.  We’ll be loud without the Garden jumbotron.  When our team is down, we won’t sit on our hands…. we’ll get up and cheer louder.

Everyone is writing the Celtics off… which means we’re going to be proving a lot of people wrong.  I’m not sitting here and pulling the same crap Lakers fans pulled last year with the “if we only had Bynum.”  We’re better than that.  We’re Celtics fans!

So follow Red’s Army… follow Red’s Army to freedom Banner 18.

Herald:  Ubuntu must rule again Celtics lose TicketAinge suffers heart attackDoc steady in rough C’sScal keeps his head upDavis, Powe eager to fill big shoesLooking back at the BullsKG’s new role: cheerleader |  Globe:  C’s lose Garnett Bob Ryan:  Forget repeat, C’s are already winnersReaction to KG variesTime for subs to rise up Silence was not the ticket Harsh reminder of fleeting excellence First round playoff schedule |  Souza:  Word of KG’s condition not greatly exaggeratedGarnett will miss postseasonPierce:  We’re still capable of winning a championship

Report: Ainge Suffers Heart Attack
April 16, 2009


Update from the Globe:

Celtics managing partner Stephen Pagliuca told the Globe that Ainge got to the hospital quickly — something that is critical when a heart attack is in progress — and is “recovering nicely.”

“I saw him at about 3:30 p.m. today,” Pagliuca said. “I spoke to him and he was already joking about recovering and Eddie House breaking his record [for 3-point percentage in a season] putting him over the top. He was in good spirits. He was with his wife, Michelle, at the hospital. He was in good spirits.”

Via WCVB-TV in Boston:

Ainge was resting comfortably after being taken to the hospital early Thursday morning, SportsCenter 5 reported.

Ainge, 50, who took over reins of the Celtics in in 2003 and orchestrated last year’s Celtics championship by bringing in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, did not attend Wednesday night’s Celtics game because he was feeling sick.

Ainge woke up Thursday morning with chest pains and was taken to the hospital. Doctors later inserted a stent to unclog an artery that was 100 percent clogged.

Ainge will be in the hospital for a few days and will probably miss the Celtics’ playoff opener against the Bulls on Saturday.

He is expected to make a full recovery.

Get well Danny.

Geez, can anything else go wrong today? Wait, I take that back.

“There’s No Way”
April 16, 2009

The news continues to trickle out on KG.  I’m holding out hope for a Willis Reed moment… but Doc is not instilling any confidence.  The first video on Celtics.com’s website (to the right) is Doc talking about KG’s injury.  This is pretty definitive:

It’s not official if he’s out for the playoffs, but it’s official as far as I’m concerned.

Doc goes on to say “There’s no way” when asked if he anticipates KG coming back… but then he also sounds like the door is, in fact open for a return.  Then, Frank Dell’Apa says there are TWO injuries KG is dealing with.

Kevin Garnett will miss the NBA playoffs and likely have surgery on his right knee during the offseason, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said today.

The surgery will be to remove a spur in Garnett’s knee. But a strained popliteus tendon — and not the spur — has affected Garnett’s inability to return from a Feb. 19 injury. The tendon strain must heal naturally, and has taken longer than anticipated.

This is driving me nuts.  And I’m not really talking about the injury anymore.  It’s just the various reports… and the confusion.  Over on CSN, The Duke is begging Doc to be more Belichickian. I hope he listens, and stops talking about this… just for our sanity’s sake.

Wyc Wants KG on Bench
April 16, 2009

During an interview with WEEI this afternoon, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck said the team wants Garnett to remain a presence during games even though he won’t play. Garnett chooses to watch games from the locker room rather than the bench when he is injured because it frustrates him to not be able to contribute. Grousbeck said the Celtics want him to change his policy during the postseason.

“I think that’s essential, and I think we’re going to ask him to do that,” Grousbeck said. “I think Doc, Danny [Ainge], everybody will make it clear that we’d like his presence out there. He is a warrior in every way. I mean, unusual sounds strong, but he is the most different guy any of us has ever met over here. He just does it in his way, and it works, and he became Defensive Player of the Year, MVP formerly, and now a champion. It’s Kevin Garnett, it’s not anybody else. There’s never been another one like him.

“If he needs to sit in the locker room just to be able to keep his head together, we can respect that. And it actually worked pretty well for us in the regular season. But I think, playoff-time, we’d like to have him out on the bench.”

I agree with Wyc. KG needs to be out there supporting the team.

According to Marc Spears, surgery is now being considered, but there is no timetable.

KG Gone for Entire Playoffs?
April 16, 2009

Everyone bow your head and pray.

Dammit.  Kevin Garnett will NOT play in the first round of the playoffs… and maybe more.

Update via the Globe:

An NBA source confirmed to the Globe this morning that Garnett was only about 70 percent healed from the knee injury, which occured during a Feb. 19 game in Utah, and that the Celtics All-Star would likely miss the entire postseason.

Garnett worked out his injured right knee this morning, Rivers said, after which the coach made the radio proclamation: “After watching him run, there’s no way. So, we’re going to move without him. And the way I saw him move today guys, I don’t know if he’ll be ready.”

Rivers added that Garnett would continue to get treatment in the hopes that he would be able to return at some point.

“At this point after going through all the rehab and looking so good last week … to where he’s at today if he can’t get through biking and working out without swelling and stiffness … I just don’t know how he can play in the playoffs,” Rivers said.

Garnett’s reaction?

“He was frustrated. He was mad at me, mad at everybody. Then he understood,” Rivers said. “He put up a fight. He’s really frustrated, but that’s Kevin. That’s why we got him, because he cares so much.”

Avery Johnson offers his take of the situation on ESPN.

We’re really looking forward to the REAL story of what’s going on here.

The inspirational comment of the morning goes to DRJ:

We can do this thing, and now if/when we do, it will be the greatest story of all.

And the 7th Seed Goes To….
April 15, 2009

Paul, you gotta check out this blog called Redsarmy.com

"Paul, you gotta check out this blog called Redsarmy.com"

UPDATED UPDATE: The Sixers beat the Cavs in OT.

UPDATE: Apparently, I published this blog too soon. The Cavs/Sixers game is tied and headed to OT.

The Bulls. Yup – Chicago choked hard against Toronto while Philly beat a Cleveland team that dressed Brad Daugherty, Craig Ehlo and Larry Nance. Looks like I have to rewrite the Celtics/Sixers playoff preview I wrote today for Dimemag.com.

I believe the Bulls will be a tougher out for the Celtics. This series could go 5.

For a meaningless game, the final 5 minutes of this 4th quarter was very exciting. Eddie House scored 17 of his 20 points in the final quarter to lead the Celtics back from an 8-pt deficit. Eddie finished 6-9 3FG and beat Danny Ainge’s team record for three-point field goal percentage for a season.

Leon Powe (18 pts, 13 reb) is back. As you can tell by the above photo, Ray and Paul sat this one out. Rondo and Perk played a total of 20 minutes.

Box Score

Wizards Visit For Regular Season Finale
April 15, 2009

19-62 @ 61-20
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
8:00 pm ET
TD BankNorth Garden (Boston, MA)

Eighty-one games down, one to go. The final night of the 2008-09 regular season is finally upon us. I think I speak for Celtic Nation, and perhaps a large portion of NBA fans around the world, when I say “it’s about time.”

The green will cap off their schedule tonight at the Garden against the Washington Wizards, otherwise known as the worst team in the Eastern Conference this season (19-62); as far as the standings are concerned, anyway. Boston has already clinched the East’s second seed while Washington clinched the conference’s worst record a while ago.

Neither club is necessarily playing for a W in this one. The Cs will be focusing on resting the big guns (Garnett, Pierce, perhaps others) and the Wizards fan base is actually pulling for a loss. Don’t laugh, we all had those same thoughts in 2006-07. Ed Tapscott’s group is currently tied with the L.A. Clippers for the league’s second-worst overall record, and “the other L.A. team” will host the Oklahoma City Thunder for a very winnable finale.

More losses means more lottery balls. Been there, done that. Should both Washington and L.A. lose tonight, the rights to the second-best lottery chances would be decided via coin flip, which could obviously go either way. Again, been there, done that (see: 2006, Minnesota).

Win or lose, let’s get some of the young guys on the floor (cough cough, Billy Walker) and stay injury-free for just 48 more minutes.

Projected Starters

Team Leaders
PPG: Antawn Jamison (22.2)
RPG: Antawn Jamison (8.9)
APG: Gilbert Arenas (10.0)
SPG: Caron Butler (1.6)
BPG: Brendan Haywood (2.5)

Projected Starters

Team Leaders
PPG: Paul Pierce (20.5)
RPG: Kevin Garnett (8.5)
APG: Rajon Rondo (8.3)
SPG: Rajon Rondo (1.9)
BPG: Kendrick Perkins (2.0)

Key Matchup

Injury Report
Gilbert Arenas (sore knee – out)
Antawn Jamison (sprained ankle – out)
DeShawn Stevenson (lower back issues – out)
Andray Blatche (sore left knee – questionable)
Mike James (broken right pinky – out)
Etan Thomas (torn left knee ligaments – out)
Kevin Garnett (sore knee/rest – out)
Paul Pierce (rest – out)
Brian Scalabrine (post-concussion syndrome – out)

Ray Closing In On Sharman
April 15, 2009

With one game left, and the possibilty that Ray won’t even play tonight, Ray Allen will end up breaking Bill Sharman’s single-season free throw percentage record tonight.

If all goes as expected, Celtics guard Ray Allen will finish the regular season with a franchise-record for free throw shooting and the fourth highest mark in NBA history.

Allen has shot a career-best .952 after making 237 of 249 free throws and isn’t expected to play in the season-finale tonight against Washington

Sharman’s record is 93.2%  For you young kids wondering who Bill Sharman is… take a look up into the rafters at the Garden, and find #21.  That’s him.  He shot .911 from the line for his career.

Find out more about Sharman here.  It’s an impressive bio.

Encouraging Signs
April 15, 2009

 (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

As far as I’m concerned, there are 3 things about which we should be very encouraged after last night’s game.  (4 if you count me busting out proper grammar for the opening sentence.  Hooked on Phonics worked for me)

Tony Allen

He filled the stat sheet in 39 minutes. 18 points on 8 of 14 shooting, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals.  He looked in aggressive but in control.  He played with no hint of worry about his injured thumb.  He, in short, did everything we wanted Tony Allen to do all year.  As impressive as Paul Pierce was last night, I think the story of the game was Tony Allen playing as well as he did.  If THIS is the Tony Allen we’ll have for the playoffs, then the second unit is going to kill other teams.  Think about Stephon Marbury’s recent improvement, Eddie House’s deadly shooting and Big Baby’s marked improvement.  Now add last night’s Tony Allen to that mix.  That’s one hell of a second unit.  And we haven’t even talked about Leon Powe… whose return last night was also very encouraging.

The first round

Briefly piggy-backing on Chuck’s post-game analysis… I think it’s clear that the Celtics without Ray and KG are still probably a 6 seed in the playoffs.  And let me stop the people who will feel the urge to comment right there… I’m very well aware of the Hawks series last year.  But this year is much different.  The 76’ers are not the Hawks.  The Celtics are not last year’s Celtics.  The 76’ers were playing for something last night:  playoff position and to send a message.  They accomplished neither in front of their home crowd.

Kevin Garnett

I’m going to keep marching on as one of the few people around this town that isn’t developing an ulcer over KG’s knee. It’s not that I don’t understand why some people are worried, I’m just focusing on what Danny Ainge said yesterday.

“When Kevin plays is his decision,” Ainge said yesterday. “But I think Kevin (right knee) plays once the playoffs start. Ultimately, it’s just his decision. Could Kevin play right now?. Absolutely. But the question is whether it is in his best interests. I don’t think there’s anyone out there who feels he can’t play. It’s just a hot topic right now…

“Nothing is worse,” Ainge said. “It’s just a matter of identifying the best opportunity for his return. Every two or three days we have this discussion.

“It hasn’t taken a turn for the worse, but we want to give him the best chance once the playoffs start.”

I’m not sure how much of it is spin and how much of it is fact.  I think the Celtics are well aware that KG has only so many minutes left in that knee this year, so there’s no point in playing him more than they have to.

So with that, I full expect KG to be back on Saturday.  I expect him to start and play hard.  But I also expect him to sit after about 6 minutes… and maybe not come back until midway through the 2nd quarter (and only after sufficient warmup… maybe on the Brian Scalabrine memorial stationary bike on the sideline).  The C’s will probably look to pull KG from the game once they have a lead they feel can be sustained by the rest of the team.  I think they’ll use that same approach for the first round… maybe increasing his minutes a little in each game.  Then they’ll have him as fresh as possible for that assumed 2nd round matchup against Orlando… which is bad news for Orlando because that will allow the C’s to play Dwight Howard straight up again.  That’s been a winning formula for the C’s.

So kick back and relax everyone.  The season ends tonight.  The REAL season begins on Saturday.  And there’s plenty of encouraging news out there.

Herald:  Pierce deep sixes SixersWizards scouting report |  Globe: Pierce busy in win Wizards thumbnails | Brown Daily Herald:  Q&A with Bill Russell |  Comcast SportsNet:  Multi-tasking during the second halfLakers get 65th win