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
G G F F C

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
G G F F C

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.

(more…)

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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

Maybe This Time Doc Means It
April 3, 2009

Tony’s going to see time tonight… well… maybe.

“We are going to try and ease Tony in,” Rivers said, indicating that tonight would likely be a chance for Allen to return to action. “It was game situation and Eddie (House) had it going. They stayed small, which is unusual for them. They usually go big and they stayed small. They had (D.J.) Augustine and (Raymond) Felton in a lot together and that allowed us to keep Eddie on the floor, and that was good for us because the way he was shooting we wanted to keep him on the floor.”

I guess we’ll see.  In other, much more interesting news:  Paul Pierce naps in a hyperbaric chamber before games.  Paul is also cancelling any ticket giveaways until the playoffs.

Liar Liar
April 2, 2009

I’m a little confused.  I could have sworn that this:

Doc in pregame: “Tony’s playing tonight. He’s running, he just needs games under his belt. That’s what we’ll give him.”

Would mean we wouldn’t have seen this:

tony-allen-dnp

Yeah, I’m happy that we won last night.  It was exciting and I enjoyed it.

But it didn’t mean a damn thing.  What’s the big deal, we’re now alone as the second seed?  Who cares?  There is almost no difference between the #2 and #3 seed.  It doesn’t matter if we play the Sixers or Bulls.  It doesn’t matter if we have home court against Orlando.  And it doesn’t matter when it comes to home court after the second round.

I like Doc Rivers.  I might have been his biggest defender in the “Fire Doc” days… and I think he’s the perfect kind of coach for a veteran team like this.  But I can’t get past him saying one thing about how he’s going to play players, and then doing another.  First, it was how he’s going to limit Ray and Paul’s minutes.  That never happened.  Now it’s how Tony Allen needs game reps, and that didn’t happen.

He was clear:  Tony Allen needs to get ready for the playoffs.  Doc has said that the rest of this regular season is about getting healthy and ready for the playoffs.  He had a chance last night to get Tony some time so he can start getting ready for the playoffs, and he didn’t do it.  I’m not even saying Tony should have gotten overtime minutes.  They could  have come in the first and second half.  It could have been 10-15 minutes or so, just to get him back into it.  Something.

Couldn’t the Celtics have won even while giving Tony some minutes?  Didn’t the rest of the team suck for 3 and half quarters… would it have been worse with Tony in there?  Don’t we need Tony’s defense against a young, athletic team like Charlotte?

If Doc never said anything so definitive about Tony Allen playing, this wouldn’t be an issue.  It’s like Doc agrees with what I’m saying… until the game begins and he gets too wrapped up in things to give Paul or Ray an extra 2 or 3 minutes on the bench so Tony can get in.  He needs to get past that for the next couple of weeks so the team can be ready for the playoffs.

For those of you came here this morning to bask in the glow of a double overtime thriller… we’ll end this on a high note.

Herald:  Overtime pays off big for late starting CelticsBig shot Ray Allen follows through with heroicsDoc has faith in defense minus KG |  Globe:  Three, CheersIt bears repeating, health keyRivers expect KG back for playoffs Playoff seeding not a primary concern |  Camerato:  Powe limited in workouts |  Souza:  Ray shines |  LA Times:  Rest Kobe, or not?

Cs Open Up Home Stretch Against Charlotte
April 1, 2009

34-40 @ 56-19
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
7:30 pm ET
TD BankNorth Garden (Boston, MA)

With just seven games to go before playoff time, the Celtics kick off the final month of the regular season at home against one of the scrappiest young teams in the league. The Charlotte Bobcats typically give the men in green a tough battle, win or lose, and have won two of the last five matchups against the 2008 champs.

Charlotte heads into tonight’s game with extra incentive to pull out a victory, as well. As it currently stands, Larry Brown’s club is one game behind Chicago for the final Eastern Conference playoff seed. The ‘Cats have won six of their last eight and come into tonight on a three-game winning streak, but the Bulls have countered those efforts by winning seven of their last 10 games.

Kevin Garnett, as you may have already heard, will be “shut down” for the time being, and could even be out for the remainder of the regular season. Leon Powe is in the same boat, and Brian Scalabrine may not suit up at all until 2009-10 preseason. Tony Allen, however, is expected to give it a go tonight after missing the last 22 games with torn ligaments in his left thumb. “TA” typically takes a while to get back into the swing of things when he returns from a time-consuming healing process, but it is somewhat comforting to have another body nonetheless.

Projected Starters
G G F F C

Team Leaders
PPG: Gerald Wallace (16.9)
RPG: Emeka Okafor (10.1)
APG: Raymond Felton (6.8)
SPG: Gerald Wallace (1.7)
BPG: Emeka Okafor (1.7)

Projected Starters
G G F F C

Team Leaders
PPG: Paul Pierce (20.3)
RPG: Kevin Garnett (8.5)
APG: Rajon Rondo (8.5)
SPG: Rajon Rondo (1.9)
BPG: Kendrick Perkins (1.9)

Key Matchup

Injury Report
Kevin Garnett (Knee – out)
Leon Powe (bruised right knee – out)
Tony Allen (recovering from thumb surgery – probable)
Brian Scalabrine (post-concussion syndrome – out)

Keys to Victory

  • Limit Turnovers
  • Avoid Foul Trouble
  • Bench Play
  • Outwork the Opposition

Tony Allen Is Back
April 1, 2009

Frank Dell’Apa reports

“I’m going to give it a shot and see how it goes,” Allen said after a morning shootaround. “Today is a big day for me. I’m not looking at going out and scoring 50 points, nothing like that. Just getting in a rhythm and getting a feel for my new teammates and just trying to do what I can do to help.”

Good news.  Get Tony a few minutes tonight.  Give Paul and Ray a few extra minutes on the bench.  We’ll need Tony in the playoffs, so getting him back now is good.

Powe, TA Injury Updates
March 29, 2009

Jess Camerato tells us about Leon, who hopes to be back before the playoffs begin:

On Sunday Leon Powe made his first appearance at a Boston Celtics game since spraining his knee against the Chicago Bulls on March 17. Powe was scheduled to undergo further testing by team doctors, but spoke to the media beforehand.

“It’s sore every once and a while but it feels good,” he said. “It’s feeling better than it did when I hurt it. I was able to run straight it that game but then when it got stiffened up, it stiffened up on me in the back and I couldn’t even move it.”

Frank Dell’Apa tells us Tony Allen could be back by next week.

Allen returned to practice and worked on shooting along with guard Gabe Pruitt after Sunday morning’s session in Waltham. Allen has an appointment with a hand specialist tomorrow and is doubtful for Wednesday’s game, but could return by next week, according to coach Doc Rivers.

“It feels good in practice but I’m not rushing it,” Allen said before the Celtics met Oklahoma City. “Our practices are like game speed, anyway.”

Tony Allen Is Frustrated
March 27, 2009

tony-allen-bench

Tony Allen is apparently a couple of weeks away from returning.  And as usual with him, the injury that knocked him out came when he was playing well, which frustrates him.

“My [left knee] injury was a freak accident,” Allen said. “[The thumb injury] was a freak accident. The knickknack injuries, those are just regular NBA [injuries].

“But the ones I really look at is the freak injuries, like me going to a layup after the whistle, tripping in practice and falling [on the thumb], those are the ones that have held me back. Both of those times when I’ve had these surgeries, I was on the verge of trying to come out of my shadow.”

It’s frustrating to us too.  That story shows us how Tony hasn’t been his normal happy-go-lucky self… which might be even scarier for Celtics fans.  We know that Tony’s head is usually months behind Tony’s body when it comes to recovering from injuries.  We can’t afford that this time around.

You’ll also see in that link that the Celtics call Tony “Gucci.”  I’ll just stop there.

Herald:  Atlanta is no rivalryKG defends Marbury |  Globe:  Hawks thumbnails |   Concord Monitor:  C’s can take the show on the road |   Celtics Hub:  Very interesting quote from Stan Van Gundy |  Atlanta Journal Constitution:  Cramming for 2 NBA Exams |  LA Times:  Bynum not close to return |  CSN:  Tanguay compares watching a game with Tommy and Donny

And finally… be sure to head over to Ball Don’t Lie and vote for Daylon Trotman.  If you don’t know Daylon, he’s this kid:

C’s Host Eastern Conference Showdown
March 6, 2009

48-12 @ 48-14
Friday, March 6, 2009
8:00 pm ET
TD BankNorth Garden (Boston, MA)

Tonight, the C’s return to The Garden for perhaps the biggest game of the regular season. Probable MVP LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers are set to pay a visit to the men in green for a prime time Eastern Conference showdown. Cleveland currently holds a one-game advantage over Boston for the East’s top seed, and this evening’s victor may very well decide which of the two powerhouses receive homecourt advantage this postseason.

Both teams come into tonight’s game a bit shorthanded. In addition to role players Tony Allen (thumb) and Brian Scalabrine (concussions/neck), defensive anchor and emotional leader Kevin Garnett continues to recoup from the posterior muscle strain he obtained in Utah on February 20. Since the injury, the Celtics have won four of seven games.

Cleveland will also be without a starting big, as Ben Wallace went down with a fractured right fibula in last week’s loss in Houston, which will keep him out of the lineup for 4-6 weeks. The Cavs haven’t missed a beat since, however, as they’ve won four straight (three coming on the road) with Anderson Varejao replacing Wallace as the team’s starting power forward. As a starter in 21 games this season, Varejao has put up 10 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

Fortunately for Cleveland, they’ve been able to throw salt on the wound caused by Wallace’s injury by adding veteran big Joe Smith this week. Smith was bought out and released by Oklahoma City this past Sunday and elected to go back to Cleveland as soon as he cleared waivers. The fourteenth-year power forward appeared in 27 regular season games for the Cavs last season, where he held averages of 8.1 PPG and 5.0 RPG. Against the Celtics in the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Smith produced 7.6 points and 4.4 rebounds throughout the seven-game series, in which Cleveland came up on the wrong side of.

Leading up to the March 1 deadline for free agents to be playoff eligible, Boston was considered the favorite to land Smith when and if the Thunder decided to part ways. Unfortunately, the Celtics couldn’t afford to wait any longer. Sacramento made Mikki Moore available first, and Danny Ainge took what he could get while he could get it.

Smith may or may not be in action tonight, but all signs point to him playing, as he went through Cleveland’s scheduled practice yesterday.

There’s no Kevin Garnett, but you better believe that emotions will be flaring. Homecourt advantage is extremely important, should these two teams meet in the playoffs, as expected. Get your popcorn ready.

Projected Starters
G G F F C

Team Leaders
PPG: LeBron James (28.5)
RPG: Zydrunas Ilgauskas (7.7)
APG: LeBron James (7.0)
SPG: James/West (1.7)
BPG: Ben Wallace (1.4)

Projected Starters
G G F F C

Team Leaders
PPG: Paul Pierce (20.3)
RPG: Kevin Garnett (8.8)
APG: Rajon Rondo (8.4)
SPG: Rajon Rondo (1.9)
BPG: Kendrick Perkins (1.7)

Key Matchup

Injury Report
Ben Wallace (fractured right fibula – out)
Eric Snow (chronic left knee injury – out)
Kevin Garnett (posterior muscle strain – out)
Tony Allen (recovering from thumb surgery – out)
Brian Scalabrine (concussions/strained neck – out)

Keys to Victory

  • Ball Control
  • Crash the Boards
  • Production From the “Other Guys”
  • Don’t Let This Happen

One Last Push Out West
February 25, 2009

46-12 @ 14-43
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
10:30 pm ET
Staples Center (Los Angeles, CA)

After two and a half weeks of away-from-home battles, the Celtics will wrap up this west coast trip tonight at the Staples Center. Now, don’t get too excited; this isn’t round three vs. the Lakers. Instead, it’ll be the first meeting with the often-forgotten LA club, the Clippers. You know, the franchise that produces a smile-and-head-shake reaction following the mere citation of its name.

This year is no different, as the Clips come into tonight’s contest with the league’s fourth-worst record (14-43) along with the least amount of home wins (7). To put it lightly, they have failed to live up to pre-season expectations, both internally and externally. To be fair, Mike Dunleavy’s group has experienced a plethora of injuries to just about every key player in the lineup this season. Chris Kaman leads the way with 42 games missed, followed by ex-Celtic Ricky Davis (24), Zach Randolph (21), Baron Davis (14), and Marcus Camby (13).

Brian Scalabrine joins Tony Allen and Kevin Garnett on Boston’s injured list, as he flew back home following the neck strain he attained in Monday night’s win in Denver. Fortunately, newest-Celtic Mikki Moore has officially signed with the team and will be among the 11 Celtics in uniform tonight.

Projected Starters
G G F F C

Team Leaders
PPG: Paul Pierce (20.1)
RPG: Kevin Garnett (8.8)
APG: Rajon Rondo (8.4)
SPG: Rajon Rondo (2.0)
BPG: Kendrick Perkins (1.7)

Projected Starters
G G F F C

Team Leaders
PPG: Zach Randolph (22.1)
RPG: Marcus Camby (12.6)
APG: Baron Davis (8.0)
SPG: Baron Davis (1.8)
BPG: Marcus Camby (2.4)

Key Matchup

Injury Report
Kevin Garnett (posterior muscle strain – out)
Tony Allen (thumb surgery – out)
Brian Scalabrine (strained neck – out)
Chris Kaman (strained arch in left foot – out)
Al Thornton (sore right foot – doubtful)

Keys to Victory

  • Control the Glass
  • Limit Turnovers
  • Bench Boost