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Tag:Boston Celtics
Posted on: December 30, 2011 1:02 pm
 

Paul Pierce to return Friday?

By Matt Moore

Paul Pierce has missed the Celtics first three games, all losses, with a bruised heel. But he could be headed back for Boston's season opener Friday night. 

Pierce tweeted on Thursday: "I'm close very very close very."

If we examine Pierce's statement on the Very Scale, we see that he is very close. The Celtics have listed him as day-to-day Friday and he'll likely be a game-time decision. 

The Celtics badly need Pierce back, not just for scoring, but as an offensive creator outside of Rondo. The Celtics were down by 20-plus to Miami before a late rally fell short, then were obliterated the following neight in New Orleans against a Hornets team without Eric Gordon. The Celtics can survive an early slump, but not an abject disaster.

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com says that Pierce coming back will be when we can really evaluate whether the Celtics are in trouble or not. 
You can't fully evaluate the Celtics until they get Paul Pierce back. Even then, it's going to be a bit of a horror show at times for Boston, with old bodies stressed by the schedule and not enough depth to cover it up. In a shortened season, three- and four-game losing streaks certainly are magnified. But as long as Boston's core remains healthy and gets them through the season, they'll be there at the end.
via Friday 5 with KB: (Too) Early returns - CBSSports.com.

The Pistons are winless this season. 
Posted on: December 30, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 1:07 pm
 

Friday 5 with KB: (Too) Early returns

By Matt Moore



In this week's edition of 
the Friday 5, Ken keeps sticking up for the Celtics, we talk about whether the Nets are a disaster, and early surprises. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS

1. You threw the Celtics a life line on Tuesday, saying how their comeback effort against the Heat meant they're not dead yet. Then they turned around and flopped in New Orleans like a corpse. No, I'm sorry, that's too far. A corpse would at least give resistance by being dead weight. How bad is this going to get for the Celtics to be in some real trouble?

Ken Berger: You can't fully evaluate the Celtics until they get Paul Pierce back. Even then, it's going to be a bit of a horror show at times for Boston, with old bodies stressed by the schedule and not enough depth to cover it up. In a shortened season, three- and four-game losing streaks certainly are magnified. But as long as Boston's core remains healthy and gets them through the season, they'll be there at the end.

2. We're two weeks out of training camp and a week into the season. How much leftover anger from the lockout are you hearing from players and agents?

KB: Haven't heard much. I think everyone (including myself) needed to shift gears from lockout mode to basketball mode. I do think at some point there will be a power struggle for leadership of the NBPA, as the agents who wanted Billy Hunter out have not changed their minds.

3. The Nets are off to a pretty horrific start. Is there a point where this becomes a concern for Dwight Howard as he evaluates suitors, and does this only strengthen the likelihood of him ending up in L.A. as you forecasted?

KB: Well, yes and no. It's faulty logic to look at the Nets and shake your head in disbelief that Dwight would want to play for THAT team. That's not the team Dwight would be playing for; he'd be playing for a Nets team with HIM on it. Big difference. The most interesting aspect of the Dwight saga won't be where he does and doesn't want to play, but where the Magic are and aren't willing to trade him. If Otis Smith and Alex Martins decide they want Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the likelihood that Dwight's a Laker goes through the roof. If that can't or won't happen, can the Nets flip some of their assets for win-now players Orlando would want, i.e., Luis Scola and Kevin Martin from the Rockets, or something similar? Fascinating chess match that Orlando will be playing.

4. The Knicks do not look good right now after being dominated by an L.A. team playing Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy significant minutes. Rank their concerns in order: Injuries (Davis, Jeffries), Mike D'Antoni, overall roster.

KB: I'd say injuries and schedule are the Knicks' biggest problems, and I'd include Iman Shumpert among the injured players they miss the most. Not that Shumpert was necessarily ready, but losing him means Mike Bibby must fill a bigger role off the bench, and this is not good. Tyson Chandler needs to tone it down a notch; with three techs in three games, he's making Knicks fans yearn for Rasheed Wallace to come out of retirement and sign for the mini mid-level. Heading out West to start the season isn't ideal after a long lockout and short training camp, so I'll re-evaluate the Knicks after they play a couple of home games this week and get comfortable on the East Coast. I do like the offense running through Melo and would like to see more Melo-Amar'e pick-and-rolls. Like a lot of contending teams (Dallas, Lakers, Celtics), the Knicks are having to incorporate new players and tweak their schemes with little or no practice time. So it's too early to panic and point the finger at D'Antoni.

5. Two parter. What's the team that's impressed you the most and team that's disappointed you the most so far, early in this season?

KB: Even though I picked them to go to the Finals, I'd have to say the Thunder (4-0) are playing even better than I thought they would. It's a little early for disappointment, but I'd classify it as disappointing to see the Nets lose Brook Lopez and face a long, ugly road to the March 15 trade deadline without their key asset in a potential Dwight Howard trade.
Posted on: December 28, 2011 11:40 pm
 

Report Card 12.28.11: Spurs ground Lob City

Posted by Royce Young


A: San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are too old right? THIS is the year it all starts coming apart for them, right? Yeah, right. The Clippers came to town bringing their lightshow of dunks and alley-oops, but the old, slow Spurs had no problems handling all that noise. San Antonio used a 38-point third quarter to pull away from the Clips and really highlighted a lot of issues Lob City has. They need a shooter and some depth, badly. The Spurs seem to have it all together once again, as long as the old guys can stay healthy. Doubt them all you want. Pay attention to the young, excited kids running and jumping and dunking. But the Spurs will just keep winning no matter how boring you may find that, thank you very much. The Spurs are 2-0 with blowout wins over Memphis and the Clippers. No big.

A: LeBron James and Chris Bosh

The Heat got a tougher than anticipated test from the Bobcats, but LeBron and Bosh were terrific for Miami. LeBron had 35 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Bosh had 11 of his 25 in the fourth. And he also had this incredibly awkward and awesome dunk.

B: Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder picked up a third straight win, beating Memphis 98-95 on the road, but it's a bit tainted as Mike Conley injured his ankle on the very first possession of the game. And on top of it, the Thunder shot just 37 percent from the floor and gave up 19 offensive rebounds. But winning is winning and it's always good. Especially when it's on the road against a contender. Kevin Durant dropped a beautiful 32 points and carried OKC down the stretch.

C: New Orleans Hornets

They beat the Celtics to start 2-0. And they did this one without Eric Gordon. That really deserves an A. But you're supposed to be doing bad, New Orleans! You're supposed to be tanking this season away! You're supposed to be setting yourselves up for the Anthony Davis sweepstakes! Each win will be bittersweet this season for that stupid reason. It's supposed to be about the future and every win hurts that a bit. It's a horrible thing, but reality.

D: Russell Westbrook

How's this for a line: Four points, 0-13 shooting, four turnovers. Yikes. So why isn't this an F? Because Westbrook picked up six assists, hit two very important free throws in the final seconds and his team won.

F: Boston Celtics

What can you say? The Celtics are 0-3 and just lost to the Hornets despite their best player sitting. And it wasn't even a close game as they lost by 19. Yeah, Paul Pierce is hurt. Yeah, it's a night after that tough game in Miami. That's not supposed to be an excuse for a team like the Celtics though.

E for Effort: Charlotte Bobcats

So, sooooo close to knocking off the Heat. Miami was dragging a bit and probably overlooked Charlotte a bit as the Heat were coming off a game the night before against Boston, but the Bobcats were ready to go. Charlottle held a one-point lead with a few seconds left and if not for Dwyane Wade being ridiculous, the Bobcats would've registered the upset of the early NBA season. Things to be encouraged about though if you're Paul Silas and the Bobcats though. Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo and D.J. Augustin should give Bobcat fans something to be excited about.

Incomplete: Indiana Pacers

The Pacers are 2-0, but have wins over the Pistons and Raptors, with both games being relatively close. Are they good or just beating who they're supposed to beat? It's hard to know right now.
Posted on: December 28, 2011 7:30 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2011 8:41 pm
 

Eric Gordon out for Hornets vs. Celtics

By Matt Moore

Eric Gordon will miss the Hornets' second game of the season vs. the Boston Celtics as a precaustionary measure, according to WWL-TV in New Orleans.

Marco Belinelli will start for the Hornets instead vs. a Celtics team on a back-to-back after losing to the Heat Wednesday night. Gordon hit a game-winning shot against the Suns in the Hornets' opener after being traded to New Orleans along with Chris Kaman and Al-Farouq Aminu for Chris Paul.
Posted on: December 28, 2011 1:56 pm
 

Theory and Proof: Celts still in trouble

By Matt Moore

Theory: The Celtics are in trouble despite their comeback effort against the Heat and tough opening schedule.

Proof: Paul Pierce was out. It was a road game. The calls didn't go their way. And they still managed to come back from 20 down to put the knife to the Heat's throat Tuesday night. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com says that the reports of the Celtics' demise are greatly exaggerated. And he's right. But a further examination of this team's performance through two games reveals that it's not all smoke and mirrors that show cracks in the green facade.

For starters, well, you know, they lost both games. A great comeback effort doesn't mean much if the result is still a pair of L's to playoff opponents gunning for you on national television. The Celtics dug themselves holes they couldn't get out of despite long second-half runs in two games, especially Tuesday night, and the result is an 0-2 mark to start a season they need to rack up wins early in order to rest later in.

But beyond the obvious losses, there's a serious trend coming to light that looks awful bad. The Celtics have been one of the best defensive teams in the league for the past four years. They've been about as reliable as it gets in terms of cracking down on the opponent. But they surrendered a 112.7 defensive efficiency (basically the rate they would have scored at in an average pace game) against the Heat after givig up a 112.8 mark to the Knicks. They allowed the Knics to shoot 47 percent on Sunday, and the Heat to shoot 56 percent on Tuesday. This despit stellar third and fourth quarters, respectively, in those games. The Celtics' defense has been just plain bad. Has the copetition been high? Absolutely. But the same style that worked for so long, slowing it down, grinding it out, isn't working well so far.

Then there's the offense. The C's managed to close the Heat's lead to 3 late in the fourth quarter against the Heat, but consider what they needed offensively. With Paul Pierce out, the Celtics wound up running a huge chunk of their offense throught he perimeter. The shots fell. They were 12-19 from the arc against the Heat, a ridiculous mark. Would Keyon Dooling (18 points, 4-6 shooting from 3) have had as many minute with Pierce available, even with Keyon Dooling playing minutes at the 2. The Celtics were downright Magic-ian in shooting all those threes. That was the only way they were able to hang so long. That kind of shooting obviously isn't sustainable. The argument can be made that the Heat's clip won't stay that high either, and it's a valid one. But the Heat ran a smoother offense and created easier opportunities in transition.

This isn't to say that the Celtics won't figure it out, they will. Pierce will help. Continuity will help. Understanding lineups better and getting Bandon Bass more minutes will help. But the Celtics have issues as they showed in the first three quarters against the Heat. There are problems that the Celtics need to resolve quickly.
Posted on: December 28, 2011 2:00 am
Edited on: December 28, 2011 2:12 pm
 

Report Card 12.27.11: Lakers back on track



By Matt Moore


The Lakers get off the schneid, the Heat win by the hair on their chinny-chin-chin, and the Blazers look better than last year. All this and more in Tuesday night's report card.

A: Portland Trail Blazers: On the second night of a back-to-back, the Blazers trounced the Kings in dominant fashion, including holding them to just 14 points in the fourth quarter. There's a lot to like about this Blazers team along with the usual suspects, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby, Nicolas Batum, and Wesley Matthews. Mostly, the defense, lead by Gerald Wallace. Wallace was an absolute demon Tuesday night, covering wall-to-wall and making every play you can imagine. The Blazers blocked three shots on one possession at one point, and wound up with eight blocks and six steals. A dominant showing on a night when their guards struggled. Blazers look good early.

A: Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers played so well I'm handing out two A-grades. On the third night of a back-to-back, the Lakers came out at home and put away any talk of their losing streak stretching to 0-3 in the first quarter. The Utah Jazz looked like the worst team in the league Tuesday night, but the Lakers' dominance was great enough to overcome the challenge of a terrible opponent bending the curve. Defense was the key here. Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace were everywhere. Gasol played extremetly strong both at the rim and in space against Al Jefferson. The Jazz were a wreck, but the Lakers steered them there. Great first win for Mike Brown and company.

B: Norris Cole: The Heat rookie was the fourth quarter closer the Big 3 could not, would not be. 20 points for the rook who was aggressive at every turn. Cole not only took the game by the horns and drove the Celtics into the ground to bring back for supper when they made a furious fourth quarter run behind a zone defense, he was pivotal on defense and made good decision making. He would nail a big shot, then fist pump his way to the bench without turning around for Dwyane Wade or LeBron James' approval. So why the B? He was a bit too aggresive at times and still struggles with finishing like all rookies do. Wouldn't want the kid to get too big a head on his shoulders. The kid simply stepped up, did his job, and helped get the win for the Heat when they needed someone to step up and hit the shots. And now everyone gets to ask, "They have MORE talent?"



C: Boston's comeback: Great adjustment by Boston coach Doc Rivers to go to the zone, which the Heat will now be seeing in every game for the remainder of the season. That, combined with some great shooting, particularly from Keyon Dooling, helped the Celtics bring the Heat to the knife's edge before Cole turned it around on them. The Celtics made the push they needed to, and showed why they are still dangerous. So why the C? They lost, are 0-2, with two losses to teams they are likely to encounter in the playoffs. It was a good comeback effort, but ultimeately, it wasn't enough, and you have to wonder if it would have been that close had it not gotten so out of hand in the third so as for Erik Spoelstra to start screwing with lineups. The Celtics get a D, but the comeback is a C. 

D: Heat's composure: How many times is this team going to melt down in the fourth? They had to turn to a rookie to save them late in a key game against arguably their biggest rival. It should never have gotten that close. Oh, and Paul Pierce didn't play. The Heat won, and they played incredibly well in the third, but man alive, they need to learn to close better.

F: Utah Jazz: So, you know, this draft class, it looks great...

Other Notable Grades:

Withdraw: Heat as invulnerable: Best team in the league right now? No question. But after looking like a flying death machine in the third, the Celtics drew blood on Heat before falling to their own mortality.

E For Effort: Kevin Love: 31 points, 20 boards in a three-point loss to the Bucks. Love was a monster and gave it his all in a badly coached game by Terry Porter with Rick Adelman absent due to a death in the family. One complaint? His final shot was either badly drawn up or executed, a pull-up 35-footer a la Kevin Durant in last year's playoffs vs. the Mavericks. But that stat line is part of what we missed during the lockout.

Gold stars: Pau Gasol (5 blocks). LaMarcus Aldridge. Brandon Jennings. Jon Leuer. Chris Bosh. MarShon Brooks. Vlad Radmanovic.
Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:02 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 1:02 pm
 

Pierce doubtful against Heat Tuesday

Posted by Royce Young

Paul Pierce has already missed one game because of a bruised heel and it's sounding like he'll miss a second, this one against the Heat. Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters Tuesday at Boston's shootaround he didn't believe Pierce would be ready to go.

"He worked out (Monday), went pretty well," Rivers said. "He didn't get as sore, so that's a good sign. He's not going to play tonight -- I doubt it, at least."

Pierce sat out Sunday's opener against the Knicks. He did participate in Boston's shootaround though and is just listed as doubtful.

If Pierce doesn't play, Sasha Pavlovic is again expected to start in his place. In Sunday's game versus the Knicks, Pavlovic went scoreless.
Posted on: December 26, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 6:04 pm
 

No fine, suspension for Kevin Garnett over choke

Posted by Ben Golliver.kg-nyk

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett choked New York Knicks wing Bill Walker after a nationally-televised Christmas Day game.

He won't pay any price for it.

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that Garnett "will not face any disciplinary action" in relation to the altercation, which involved Garnett shoving Walker's throat after he missed a potentially game-tying buzzer-beater.

Punishment or no, at least Garnett had the decency to shake hands after the fact.

ESPNNY.com reports that Garnett and Walker were able to make amends following their postgame altercation which ensued immediately after Walker challenged Garnett's potential game-tying basket in the game's final second.
"When I was leaving the arena I talked to him," Walker said on Monday. "It's no hard feelings or nothing like that. We're both competitors and wanted to win. Emotions run high when you're playing at that type of level."

As Walker was leaving the Garden, he saw Garnett heading toward the Celtics' bus. He approached Garnett to say that he had no hard feelings.

"We shook hands, I talked to him ... I chopped it up with him. I still respect those guys," said Walker, who played a little over one season with Garnett in Boston.
Kudos to Walker for being the bigger man. Garnett is a one-of-a-kind monster and his frustration level is going to be off the charts this season as the Celtics struggle to deal with injuries and aging. His emotions clearly got the better of him -- something that seems to be happening increasingly often in recent years -- and Walker's gesture serves to deflate some of the tension that is sure to continue brewing between the Atlantic Division's top-2 teams. 

On the court, the Knicks served notice that they belong next to the Celtics in the division race. After the buzzer and, later, off the court, Walker showed Garnett that he is above cowering at petty intimidation tactics. New York wound up leaving with both the victory and their dignity.

Garnett leaves the scene lucky to not have cost himself some money or his team an important rotation player for Tuesday night's game showdown against the Miami Heat.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com