Tag:Boston Celtics
Posted on: April 16, 2009 10:41 am

No KG, no Banner 18

You can feel the misery wafting down the I-95 corridor from Boston as we speak. If it's true that Kevin Garnett is out for the entire postseason, then the entire postseason is going to be decidedly shorter than anticipated for the Celtics.

Sure, they can beat the Bulls without Garnett. But then what? The defending champs will be a very vulnerable team heading into the Orlando series, that's what.

I expect the Celtics to rally around the rest of their core, which is still as good as anyone else in the East other than Orlando and Cleveland. I'd expect Paul Pierce to continue in the role of emotional leader and crunch-time assassin. I'd expect Ray Allen to raise his game and shoot the ball even better. I'd expect the role players -- Eddie House, Leon Powe, Big Baby Davis, etc. -- to respond to the challenge. This is a proud group that will fight as long and as hard as possible to extend the Celtics' playoff life in the hopes that KG can make it back.

But Doc Rivers' comments on WEEI in Boston Thursday were decidedly grim.

"We're going to have to move on without him," Rivers said after watching Garnett try and fail to complete a 20-minute team run.

The Celtics aren't commenting on Rivers' interview with the radio station, whose website, WEEI.com, is oddly offline at the moment. Maybe from all the suicidal Celtics fans trying to find Rivers' audio clip.



Posted on: April 12, 2009 6:23 pm

Will someone smash the guitar over LeBron's head?

It's easy to draw kneejerk conclusions from a blowout over the defending champs in the final week of the regular season. I'm not going to do that. I will give the Cavaliers this: The path to the Larry O'Brien Trophy goes through Cleveland this year, plain and simple.

It's hard to say whether the Celtics are flat-out playing second fiddle to the Cavs now, especially since everyone knows the Celts aren't at full strength and probably won't be until the sometime in their second-round playoff series. Kevin Garnett is expected to chip the rust off in Boston's regular season finale against the Washington Wizards. Even after that, it'll take some time for the Celtics to find the rhythm and cohesiveness that led them to banner No. 17 last June.

I understand there was a reason the Cavs were dancing, strumming air guitars, and mugging for the ABC cameras during a 107-76 evisceration of the Celtics on Sunday afternoon. Not only were they proclaiming their superiority in the East, the Cavs also were celebrating the stranglehold they have on homecourt advantage in the NBA Finals if and when they get there. With their 65th victory of the season, Cleveland would have to lose both of its remaining games and the Lakers would have to win both of theirs for the Cavs to lose their grasp on home court. (If somehow all that happened, the Lakers would get the nod because they were 2-0 against Cleveland this season.) The way the Cavs play at home -- 39-1, for goodness sake -- it would be hard to imagine a more confident team going into a Game 7 against the Lakers in mid-June.

But ... and this is a significant caveat ... the Cavs are better than this. How can you be better than 39-1 at home? For one, you can show class -- not crass. You can show sportsmanship -- not gamesmanship. You can act like you're auditioning for a championship, not "Dancing With The Stars." I want to get LeBron, Mo Williams, and Delonte West in front of Bruno Tonioli for five minutes. They'd never pull stunts like this again.

The Cavs sure looked better than the Celtics on Sunday. A lot better. You can argue that LeBron can do whatever he wants on the bench during the fourth quarter of a blowout he'd so expertly orchestrated. He is the MVP in the league, hands down. His drive to the basket for a 3-point play -- dragging two defenders with him and getting fouled three times -- was awe-inspiring. So was the way he chased down a play from 60 feet and swatted Ray Allen's layup attempt away from the rim. He is an awesome talent at both ends of the floor, and there may very well be no one who can stop him and no team that can stop the Cavs.

But you don't show up the defending champs the way the Cavs did Sunday. You just don't. You celebrate when the season is over and when you are holding the gold-plated trophy on your home court. Not on the last Sunday of the regular season, in the midst of an eminently meaningless regular season game.

The Celtics will remember this. As to whether they're good enough to do anything about it, only time will tell. But I don't like it one bit. One of these days, somebody is going to take that air guitar and smash it over LeBron's head.






Posted on: March 31, 2009 6:08 pm

Tough luck for the Celts

I'm not the least bit surprised that Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced Tuesday that he'll probably shut down Kevin Garnett until the last two or three games of the regular season to give his ailing right knee a chance to heal.

It sure sounded like Rivers was leaning that way Friday night in Atlanta, when he wouldn't rule out another lengthy absence to get KG ready for the playoffs.

Surprised is one thing. Concerned is another. I don't know how the Celtics couldn't be gravely worried about their chances of a repeat with Garnett so slow to return.

It's not as though Rivers brought Garnett back after nearly a month and rode him like Secretariat. KG didn't log more than 18 minutes in any of the four games he played before Rivers sat him as a precuation Friday night against the Hawks. When last I saw Rivers, outside the visiting locker room at Philips Arena, he professed no concern about KG's aborted comeback.

"I'm just going to make sure I don't have concern by doing it this way," Rivers said.

Hey, Doc: I think the time to be concerned has come. The champs are officially in trouble.


Posted on: March 27, 2009 7:10 pm

Comeback curtailed: Garnett out against Hawks

ATLANTA -- Though he didn't crack the 20-minute mark in any of his four games back from a right knee injury, Kevin Garnett still isn't right. So Celtics coach Doc Rivers pulled the plug on KG's comeback Friday night and didn't rule out shutting Garnett down until the final two or three games of the regular season.

"We think about all that, yeah, for all of them," Rivers said before the Celtics played the Hawks, who pushed the defending champs to seven games in their first-round playoff series last year. "We're going to make that evaluation and determination at some point soon, but we don't know yet."

Rivers said Garnett is experiencing soreness but nothing structural in the knee, and that he doesn't have anything scheduled with team doctors. But Rivers had no answers for why Garnett's knee hasn't responded to limited minutes during his four-game aborted comeback. 

"It's uncharted waters," Rivers said. "We don't know where we're going with this right now. What we do know is that whatever it takes to get him to be 100 percent when the playoffs start, that's what we're going to do."

The Celtics carried an 11 1-2 game lead over Atlanta for the third playoff spot, so there's no reason to take any chances with Garnett or Rajon Rondo (ankle), who will play Friday night but will be watched closely.

"I would probably say if we're going to (rest Garnett), we're going to do it more than one day, but I'm not sure yet," Rivers said. "If he feels great (Saturday) then Sunday comes back into play, but I don't know. There's no reason to take a chance."

After the Atlanta game, the Celtics have eight remaining. If Rivers wants to shut Garnett down until the final two or three games, that plan would be complicated by the fact that Boston finishes the regular season with a back-to-back set at Philadelphia and home against Washington.

"I'm not concerned in the big picture," Rivers said. "I'm just going to make sure I don't have concern by doing it this way."



Posted on: March 26, 2009 4:21 pm

NBA owners vote for do-overs

The NBA board of governors has voted to adopt a rule change we told you about during All-Star weekend. When a team has too many players on the court, the opposing team will have the option to nullify any game action (i.e. baskets) that occurred while the infraction was going on. This would be in addition to the technical foul that is assessed to the offending team.

The change will take effect beginning with Friday's games. At All-Star weekend in Phoenix, the competition committee voted to recommend the change to owners in response to a game Dec. 30 in which Portland scored a basket against Boston with six men on the court. Under the old rule, the technical foul was assessed but the Celtics did not have the option to disallow the basket. Now they do.

There. Now you can get on with your lives.



Posted on: March 24, 2009 8:49 pm

Celts-Magic IV

All I can guarantee about Celtics-Magic IV Wednesday night is that there will be a lot of complaining.

Before. During. After. Would you like some whine with that second seed?

Nobody whines for respect from the officials like the Celtics and Magic. OK, and the Cavs. OK, and the Lakers. Anyway, nobody in the playoff picture in either conference has a bigger inferiority complex than Orlando. Last we saw these teams together, the Magic nearly blew a 22-point third-quarter lead with Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo wearing suits. (Nice ones, but suits.) Afterward, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy -- admit it, you can't get enough of him, can you? -- proceeded to complain about how the Magic are regarded nationally as an also-ran .500 team. Gee, after that performance, I wonder why?

Not satisfied with taking out one Eastern hub of the Revolutionary War this month, Van Gundy took aim at New York Monday night. The Knicks planned this nice, respectable little shin-dig for their legends, and Van Gundy used the opportunity to complain about how the Knicks never made any effort to hire Patrick Ewing. I'm sure Van Gundy's motivations are pure (wink-wink), but maybe it's something as simple as this: He's tired of his 7-foot freak of nature, Dwight Howard, who is coached by Ewing, getting pushed around by the likes of Leon Powe.

Anyway, Boston and Orlando in the middle of the NCAA's Sweet 16 is about as good as it gets in late March in the NBA. The Celtics finally are at almost-full strength. (Tune in to the pregame interviews, and Doc Rivers will fill you in on all the physical misfortune the poor Celtics have endured. By the time tipoff arrives, you'll be stuffing money in an envelope and sending it to the big bank building/Garden on Causeway Street. Just a dollar a day can keep the starting five in the whirlpool through the conference semifinals.)

The Magic are beginning what will be a fascinating mission to clear hurdles that sent them home prematurely the past two years. They're too soft. All they do is shoot threes. No killer instinct. You know the drill.

They're catching the Celtics at a time when Boston has taken more lumps than it's used to lately. Now the defending champs are looking to inflict some. The Magic, to their credit, are actually stating their preference for a first-round opponent: Their nemesis, the Pistons, who have swept them and cut them down 4-1 in the past two postseasons. This is one thing I greatly admire about Orlando. They recognize the natural progression that great teams before them have followed. You have to beat the team that's knocked you out before.

"Hopefully we play Detroit again," Howard said Monday night after Orlando beat the Knicks. "That'd be good for us because I think we have to get over that hump. Those guys have beaten us two years in a row and they left a bad taste in our mouth. Hopefully, this year it’ll be different Every year, I don’t know what it is about the Pistons, but they seem to have our number and we need to get over that hump mentally. There’s teams around the league that give us problems, and they’re one of those teams. In order to grow out of it, we have to mentally step up to the challenge and beat those guys."

Well, as things stand now, if Orlando can pass the Celtics for the second seed, they'd get their wish and face the Pistons in the first round. But there's a lot more at stake than that. Not the least of which is to see which team does more complaining, lobbying, and whining. I'm picking the Magic in that department, but don't count out the champs.




Posted on: March 13, 2009 4:02 pm

So long, Spectrum

The Spectrum hosts its final major league sporting event Friday night when the 76ers host the Bulls and bid farewell to the old arena filled with memories at the corner of Broad and Pattison. I spent a couple of years working in Philly and never had the pleasure of covering a game at the Spectrum. I wish I had. I would've gladly traded the dozens of Eagles and Phillies games I had to endure in the awful Vet.

When the Spectrum is demolished later this year to make room for a new hotel and retail complex, a lot of memories will go with it. The building was blessed with Julius Erving's entire career and hosted all those epic battles between the Celtics and Sixers. Dr. J and other members of the Sixers' '82-'83 championship team will be honored before the game.

I gotta ask: Couldn't the last game at the Spectrum have been Sixers-Celtics? How dumb.

Here are transcripts and audio links from radio interviews with Larry Bird and Dr. J talking Spectrum memories. Good stuff.




Posted on: March 8, 2009 1:14 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2009 6:41 pm

Marbury gets start for Celtics (UPDATE)

BOSTON -- Stephon Marbury got his first start Sunday since joining the Celtics, replacing injured poinit guard Rajon Rondo against the Orlando Magic.

It's Marbury's first start since Jan. 11, 2008, when he had 13 points and eight assists for the Knicks in a home loss to Toronto. After that game, Marbury elected to have foot surgery and missed the rest of the season. The rest is history -- the benching in the season opener by Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, the banishment from the team over refusing to play, the lengthy contract dispute, and finally a buyout that freed him up to sign with the Celtics.

Welcome to the Gah-den. Happy to be here to bring you the Brooklyn vs. Queens point guard matchup between Marbury and Rafer Alston.

Brooklyn we go hahd, we go hahd ...

UPDATE: Marbury played about the way you'd expect after such a long gap between starts. He was 2-for-5 with four points and no assists. His timing and conditioning still have a long way to go, and a problem he had even when he was healthy and in good graces with the Knicks was evident again: Steph can still get to the basket whenever he wants to, but he can't finish the way he used to. Hey, it comes with age and not playing competitive basketball for almost 14 months.

Marbury was unable to play at the tempo the Celtics needed to keep the Magic off balance, which is why Doc Rivers went with Eddie House at the point for most of the third and all but the final 14 seconds of the fourth. With Marbury on the bench, Boston climbed back from a 22-point third-quarter deficit and got it down to single digits before falling to Orlando, 86-79.

I wished him luck after his postgame interview, and he thanked me and asked how I was. No hug. No hard feelings. No feelings at all, really. He plays ball and I write about it. One thing I'll say about him is that he almost always understands that. 





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