Pierce Could Play The 4
April 22, 2009

The Celtics are down 2 bigs now… which leaves them in a bit of a lurch.  But after practice today, Paul Pierce said he’d be ready to step in and play the 4 if the Celtics need him to.

Other practice notes:  Rajon Rondo and Brian Scalabrine practiced… and Scal was stylin

Scal is rockin’ a sweet white headband too. That’s a new look.

Scal doesn’t need a headband.  He needs a helmet.


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 |

Just Do What You Do
April 20, 2009

Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

It’s a very simple message to the Celtics if they’re going to shut everyone up and get back on track.

Aside from Rondo cutting back on the gambling on Derrick Rose (something he admits to) there’s no special defense to play on the Bulls rookie.  Just make the rotations.  Play defense like you’re used to playing defense.  On offense, you play like you’ve always played.  We’ve been saying since the final buzzer on Saturday… and the Celtics, and Paul Pierce, were saying it after practice yesterday

“After watching tape, we didn’t play well at all and still had a chance to win. I thought we had a real good practice and had a chance to clean up some things. Just really stick with our game plan, we aren’t going to change up our game plan.

Paul pretty much stuck to the same message when talking about getting Ray open

“Our job is to get him open.  He’s one of the deadliest shooters to ever play the game, so we have to do a better job of get him open. Despite all that, we still had our chances. The bigs and even myself have to set screens for him, because that’s what we’ve done for him all year. It has to come from all of us.”

Pretty simple stuff.  Do what you’ve done all year and you’ll beat the Bulls.  Then maybe all the people panicking can shut up.

Herald:  Doc’s orders: Wait, KG Celtics ready to reboundC’s hope help on the way with RoseAinge out of the hospital Case closed, get Ray open |  Globe:  Little LeBron, big problemOffensive plan is to get Allen involvedBulls old college try successful |  Camerato:  They call him “Big Cuddly”Philly upsets OrlandoLakers win Nuggets beat Hornets Hawks destroy Heat

“I should have played him more”
April 19, 2009

That’s what Doc said about Stephon Marbury after practice today.

“Steph’s going to be fine. He should have been more aggressive but I should have played him more,” Rivers said after practice on Sunday. “I don’t think I played Steph enough last night to get him going. I thought in the first half the second unit actually had a nice little rhythm going, and in the second half I didn’t play him as much.”

Meanwhile, Ray Allen ended today’s practice with a three pointer… showing that *gasp* he can still shoot!  Rondo had some thoughts about making life easier for Ray and Paul.

“Probably get him shots in transition,” Rondo said of Allen, “that’s how he gets his jump shots. He didn’t get any layups — he missed a dunk — the way our team is built, especially with KG (Kevin Garnett) out, we need to get out on the break a little more, get Ray and Paul easy shots, get them to the free throw line. That way, their jump shots are flowing easier.”

Easy shots will be nice.  But it’s really simple.  Run your offense, make your rotations on D, and you’ll win.  They can’t hang when you do that.

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

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

We’re #2, We’re #2
April 11, 2009

Ray holds the trophy given to the #2 seed in the East.

Ray holds the trophy given to the #2 seed in the East.

It’s not official yet, but it will take a major catastrophe for the Celtics (60 – 19) to fall out of that #2 seed in the East. As for their opponent, it’s too close to call at this point:

  • (6) Philly 40-39
  • (7) Chicago 39-40
  • (8) Detroit 39-40

The Globe has the scoop on the playoff dates:

The Celtics are set to play first-round home games Saturday April 18 and Monday April 20. If the Bruins meet Montreal in the first round, Game 2 of that series would be Saturday night to fill a “Hockey Night in Canada” time slot. That would set the Celtics’ playoff opener at 12:30 p.m. that day.

I’d love for the Celtics to put the Pistons out of their misery. I can see Rasheed Wallace quitting after falling down 2-0 and jawing with lame duck coach Michael Curry on the bench, can’t you?

SI.com’s Ian Thomsen spoke with some personnel execs and advanced scouts and got their take on postseason awards. The consensus – Paul Pierce is an All-NBA first teamer:

Pierce deserves to be a first-teamer, according to the panel. “He has done a great job of keeping that team in contention,” an admirer said. “You can’t stop him offensively, and he plays at both ends. At the end of the game, he’s playing defense against the best perimeter player. He has been their glue all year.”

And Rondo is first team All-Defensive first team:

Rondo was the surprise here. “Off the ball, he takes chances and he’s not solid,” a panelist said. “But I love his ability to get everybody on the team to defend. Garnett has the fanfare, and he deserves it, but when Garnett has been out, you notice that this guy [Rondo] is the guy who goes out to meet the ball. I love the way he gets over the screens, plays the 1 and 2 and at times he has even played Kobe Bryant on defense. When they have to have a major stop, it’s Rondo. He sets the tone out front and gets them to be good defensive team.”

This comes as no surprise to us. I value their opinions 500 times more than the national media which remains too busy sucking up to the biggest stars. The same media which thinks the Magic are better than the Celtics…bahahahahaha.

Today’s Links: Globe – C’s Turn Down Heat | Milestone Win | Herald – PP Shows Why He’s Mr Clutch | C’s Ride Pierce to Beat Heat | Ray Honored with Auerbach Award | MetroWest: Pierce Delivers at End | ESPN: Stein’s Award Winners | Blazers Beat Lakers |

After the jump….pics of Magic dancers.


Rajon Rondo: Basketball’s Biggest Bargain
April 10, 2009

Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

It’s pretty simple:  When Rajon Rondo plays well, the Celtics win.  That was even true before he stepped his game up over the past week.  He’s hitting his jumpers with more regularity, and he’s making defenders look pretty stupid as he blows by them whenever he wants.  In 3 April games, Rondo is averaging 24 points, 6.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 3 steals. And he’s doing it for $1.6 million dollars.

Rondo is due a million dollar raise next year ($2.6 mil) and he’ll get a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent of $3.8 million… although he’ll likely work out an extension by then.

Rajon Rondo probably won’t get any MVP votes, but he really should.  The Celtics have no one that can come close to matching what Rondo does.  And not only does he produce on the floor… he’s got that kind of sick internal drive that makes a player a superstar.

“I hate being out,” Rondo said following yesterday’s practice session. “Those two games I missed this year, I just hated. I wanted to go the entire season without missing a game. (Kevin Garnett) is going through it right now, and Leon (Powe) and (Brian Scalabrine) are going through it, so the rest of us have to pick it up. I guess (it’s a matter of willpower). But nobody is playing at 100 percent at this time of year.

“I’ve always played through pain and injury. I just don’t want to settle for less.”

There are other bargains out there. David Lee, Ronnie Brewer and Rodney Stuckey are making the same money as Rondo.  Rudy Fernandez is making a little less in the first year of his rookie deal.  And there are some good role players, like Roger Mason ($3.5 mil) that are producing well for their salaries.

But the Celtics are getting much more for their money in Rajon Rondo than any team is getting from anyone.  It’s like finding a thousand dollar suit on the $29.99 rack.  Rondo will be paid like a superstar soon enough… but for now… he’s clearly the biggest bargain in the NBA.

Globe:  Rondo driven to succeedHeat thumbnails |  Herald:  Heat-C’s scouting report |  WEEI:  Rondo – The new Pearl Washington |  Camerato:  How to dine like a champion |   Celtics Hub:  Perk’s spending habits |  Kentucky.com:  Rondo, NBA a perfect fitLakers win in Bynum’s return