Monday, December 31, 2012

Celtics in Free Fall

After an impressive Christmas day performance, the Celtics dropped their third game in a row by 18 or more points losing to the Kings Sunday night 118-96. Rajon Rondo returned from a hip injury, but it did the team no good as they were dominated by a much younger and immature team in Sacramento.
Both Aaron Brooks and Tyreke Evans sat out for the Kings, allowing Isaiah Thomas to step in to the starting lineup and take control of the game. Thomas had a game high 27 points, John Salmons finished with 23 and Jason Thompson had 20. DeMarcus Cousins showed the Celtics his diversity, posting his first career triple double with a stat line of 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.
The Celtics struggled to find their identity again, letting up 118 points to one of the worst teams in the NBA, while having a tough time scoring the ball themselves. Paul Pierce and Jason Terry led Boston with 20 points each. Kevin Garnett had a double-double with 16 points and 12 boards, and Jeff Green was strong off the bench with 16 points as well. But this team has major problems finding the type of game that they want to play. It is becoming a repetitive story, but forget the acquisitions that they need to make. Even within the team as it is built, players are not fulfilling their roles and it starts with Rondo.
Rondo posted his 10 assists as usual, but lacked any display of leadership or willingness to try and take over the game. He had the worst +/- of any player last night at -25, finishing with only two points. Yes he may have been struggling with a hip injury, but was able to play almost 36 minutes. Rondo shot 1-for-6 from the field including missing all three of his attempts from downtown. Rajon is not looking to play his game, if this team is to succeed he needs to be a player that is going to get into the paint and score.
There are a lot of problems on this Celtics team, but it's time to start considering that Rajon Rondo might be the biggest one.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Celtics Face Kings Tonight: Cousins Chatter Bound to be Heard

DeMarcus Cousins is not officially on the trading block... yet. But the troubled young star appears to be one last outburst away from being shipped out of Sacramento. His latest antics being a profanity filled argument with the coaches during halftime of a game earning him a suspension from the team.
The Celtics will face the Kings in Sacramento Sunday night, and attempt to get back to the .500 mark. The sliding Celtics are much in need of a boost. One should be provided soon when Avery Bradley returns to the lineup, but that will not solve the rebounding and size issues that need to be addressed. Other names have been thrown around for the Celtics to go after, but none make as much sense as trying to add Cousins.
Cousins is a true center, young and loaded with talent, a scorer and a rebounder. He posses the abilities to solve at least a handful of Boston's issues that has them struggling to float around .500 this season. For his career Cousins has been around 16 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and a block per game. There are two issues that the Celtics front office must debate if they are to pounce on Cousins when/if he becomes available:

1. Is Cousins' maturity going to be an issue in Boston?
It certainly has been in Sacramento. Numerous scuffles with opponents, his teammates, and his coaches lead the list of mishaps that Cousins has been guilty of in his young careers. But he has had no mentor  that he would respect and is still 22 years old. Would playing in the paint with Kevin Garnett provide him with that mentor? Would playing under a captain like Paul Pierce motivate him? Would learning from a coach like Doc Rivers help him mature? I think all the answers are yes which is why the Celtics pull the trigger on the move.

2. What would the Celtics offer that could intrigue the Kings?
Danny Ainge is working in the wake off dumping off Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green, a move that was not pleasing to fans, so he has to be careful to play his hand right on this one. Boston best two young pieces outside of Rondo are Bradley and Jared Sullinger... start by trying to KEEP those. An offer of Courtney Lee and Jeff Green paired with a first rounder would be the opening offer. Most likely it will be declined but the important thing is to find out why... is it the players, the contracts, or just not enough? Jeff Green's contract should be tough to move, so maybe Ainge tries swapping in Brandon Bass and Fab Melo (not as valuable anymore if Cousins is acquired to be the long term center) for Green. This gets the Kings thinking, maybe another draft pick puts the deal over the edge and the Kings accept it. The Celtics would most likely have to take on one of Sacramento's contracts they no longer want as well. Remember you can not trade your first rounder in back-to-back years so lets say the final trade looks like this:

Boston recieves John Salmons (due $8/$7.5/$7 million over the next 3 seasons/could also play a role off the bench) and DeMarcus Cousins.

Sacramento recieves Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass, Fab Melo, a 2013 1st round pick, a 2015 first round pick.

If you are the Kings, you get another big man who is a project in Fab Melo, two ready to play role players in Lee and Bass, and two future first rounders to do with as they please. The Celtics take on a bad contract but find a player to pair with Rondo for the future WHILE keeping Sullinger and Bradley to go along with them. This give Celtic fans a bright future to look forward to and ALSO gives Boston a better chance to win this year.
If it came down to it would Ainge move Bradley and Sullinger for Cousins? Probably yes. But why not try and work around that before jumping to conclusions so quickly.

Back-to-Back Blowouts in Cali

The Celtics didn't even stand a chance on their trip to Los Angeles on Thursday night. A blowout from the start in which Chris Paul and Blake Griffin did not even have to touch the floor in the fourth quarter. The Clippers extended their win streak to 15 games against Boston in more than convincing fashion with a final score of 106-77. The Celtics did not come remotely close to reaching their potential as a team, nor was anyone's individual performance particularly inspiring either. Kevin Garnett had a team high 16 points in what was an ugly box score.
This is not to take anything away from the Clippers who were fantastic in their display of teamwork and athleticism. LA showed what a true balanced team looks like after Boston felt that they had put forward their best game of the season just one game earlier in Brooklyn. The starters played almost identical minutes to the bench (partly due to score), but make no mistake this Clippers team is the deepest in the league. Paul and Griffin played well when in the game as well as the rest of the starters, but lets focus strictly on the bench for a moment. Lamar Odom came in and scored only four points in 29 minutes, but also provided 13 rebounds, five assists, and four blocked shots. Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford both played 23 minutes scoring 21 (game high) and 17 respectively. Ronnie Turiaf and Eric Bledsoe also play significant minutes, and keep in mind that both Chauncy Billups and Grant Hill still have not played in a game this year.
If this team does not scare you, or you don't consider them elite, you don't know basketball.

Things were not much smoother two nights later against the Warriors in Oakland. You could argue the Celtics at least had a shot at coming back in the fourth quarter before the Warriors blew it open and walked away with a 101-83 win. Although they are not the Clippers, the Warriors are developing a nice young nucleus and boast a 21-10 record under first year head coach Marc Jackson. Again Boston was lackluster on the offensive end, led by Courtney Lee with 18 points. Jared Sullinger was solid with 12 points and eight rebounds. Rajon Rondo was out of uniform with a bruised hip, but that is no excuse for the poor showing. Stephen Curry (22 points, nine assists) and David Lee (20 points) led the way for Golden State. Youngster Klay Thompson had 13 and rookie Harrison Barnes stepped up with 15 to go with eight rebounds.
Here is Paul Pierce after the loss on the identity of the team; "We gotta figure out who we want to be. Do we want to be a defense first team? If we're not going to be a defensive team, we gotta be a better offensive team. It's gotta be something. We still gotta find our way." Clearly Doc Rivers needs to establish what kind of team this is going to be when his Captain is questioning it. The Celtics will try to avoid being swept on their road trip Sunday night against the Kings.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Just a Heads Up... Fab Melo is not Bad

Now don't read too much into this at first glance, but here are Fab Melo's last two stat lines from the D-league: 32 points, nine rebounds, nine blocks and 15 points, 16 rebounds, 14 blocks. Rather impressive numbers regardless of opponent. Keep Melo in Maine working on his game, he still is not ready to be called up, and this still does not solve Boston's gapping need for a big man. If they get the chance to pull the trigger on a deal for one of the names that have come up in trade talks they need to be prepared to do that. But despite what some may think, Melo could be a very serviceable center down the road. These past two games have showed both his ability to defend the basket, and something he was thought to be even less capable in doing by scoring the ball. Keep an eye on how this plays out.

Avery Johnson Fired in Brooklyn: Breaking Down the Atlantic

Avery Johnson is on his way out of Brooklyn after being fired by the Nets on Thursday afternoon. Johnson took the team out of the gates to a 11-4 start, winning coach of the month in the NBA for October and November. The Nets then slumped into a 3-10 slide in December, reaching 14-14 overall. Dropping to .500 on back-to-back blowout losses to the Celtics and the Bucks, which was the final straw for Johnson's time in Brooklyn. P.J. Carlesimo will take over in the interim. Not to speculate but Phil Jackson, Stan Van Gundy, and Jerry Sloan have all already been mentioned.
Here is how the Atlantic Division stands today:

New York Knicks 21-8
Boston Celtics 14-13
Brooklyn Nets 14-14
Philadelphia 76ers 14-15
Toronto Raptors 9-20

The Knicks hold the two seed in the East, Boston and Brooklyn are holding on to the last two playoff seeds at seven and eight. It's a pretty congested division in the middle at the moment, and now is the time for a team to break loose. The Knicks schedule gets much tougher, and they have some brutal road trips left on the schedule, Brooklyn is obviously in turmoil, and Philly has cooled off after a hot start. This division is open for the taking if Boston wants it, and even if the Knicks don't cool off from downtown, the Celtics can still emerge as an equal to the Knicks as they were expected to be.
It was nice to see the games that Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger provided off the bench on Christmas, but they have proven to be far too inconsistent to rely on for the entire season. Help needs to come in the form of a trade, which can be nerve racking when you consider Danny Ainge's last big deadline deal was the Kendrick Perkins - Jeff Green swap. Another forced trade could ruin this teams hope for this season and the future. But a calculated risk in the form of a DeMarcus Cousins could be perfect. After some issues in Sacramento, Cousins is on the trade block. The Celtics would be crazy not to at least inquire about a deal. Cousins comes with crazy upside that could finally prevail under the wing of Garnett and the guidance of Doc.

Celtics Give Fans Christmas Day Gift

Doc Rivers was able to get the best game of the season out of his team on Christmas day in Brooklyn, giving Celtics fans the gift they have been waiting for all season. Boston came out with a 93-76 victory anchored on great defense leading to their offense, just the way the team was built to win. The second quarter was the key to the game, which Boston won 34-18, and never looked back.
Rajon Rondo led the way for the Celts with 19 points, six rebounds, and five assists, coming up with timely plays throughout the game. Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green were huge off the bench finishing with 16 and 15 points respectively. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett scored eight each but both played large roles in the win. Pierce had 10 assists including a beautiful bounce pass to Sullinger from half court. Garnett had 10 rebounds, but most importantly held down the defensive end of the court with a pair of steals and blocks and altering countless shots. Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez were the top scorers for the Nets with 15 points a piece.
This was the most well rounded game we have seen from the Celtics all year. They were led by strong defense transitioning into smooth offense and balanced by their bench. Here is what Rivers said about the team's progress after the win; "I think we're getting better. I think we're very, very close to becoming a good team, but we're not yet." The Celtics will take a great test to see how close they are when they take on the hottest team in the league on Thursday in LA... but not the Lakers. The LA Clippers have won 14 games in a row to achieve their 22-6 record. The Clippers are everything that Boston is not: young, athletic, fast, and play above the rim. The game will be a fantastic measuring stick, but a very tough matchup for the Celtics to keep pace with.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Celtics Sign Jarvis Varnado

Boston has signed the NCAA's all-time leading shot blocker in Jarvis Varnado on Christmas Eve. Varnado is an unproven player at the NBA level, but was a standout during his time as Mississippi State. He was drafted by the Miami Heat in 2010 and then went on to make several appearances overseas. Varnado ended up in the NBA D-League this year, averaging 14 points, 10 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game.
Varnado will be taking over Darko Milicic's spot on the team, so the roster now stands at 15. I still feel pretty strongly that Boston will have to make a deal by the deadline, but in the meantime this is a signing that puts them in the right direction. Varnado is the type of aggressive and athletic big that this roster lacks. It is still to be seen if he can make an impact, but the Celtics are giving a second chance. If he is able to prove himself the reward could be high.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Pierce Forces OT, Bucks Shine

Paul Pierce hit a three pointer with just seconds left on the clock to force overtime for the Celtics when they looked to be dead in the water. But the Bucks finished strong and got the win 99-94 in Boston, taking the season series from the Celtics 3-1. The loss brings the Celtics back down to .500 (13-13). Pierce stayed hot for Boston pouring in a 35 point encore after his 40 on Wednesday night. Pierce was doing it all, also contributing 12 rebounds, five dimes, and three steals. Despite the big night from the captain, Doc Rivers got minimal contribution from the rest of the team scoring... (Jeff Green 14, Kevin Garnett 12, Courtney Lee 11). Garnett shot 6-for-22 from the field on the night and Jason Terry was a career worst 1-for-15. Paul Pierce commented on the rest of the teams tough night; "It's a team game, regardless of how I play. We've got to do better in stretches. I think when our offense isn't going for long stretches we've got to be able to defend."
Larry Sanders continued to give the Celtics fits, grabbing a monster double-double of 17 points and 20 boards to go along with his three assists, two blocks, and two steals. Monte Ellis led the way in scoring with 27 for Milwaukee, and Luke Mbah a Moute had a strong night with 20. The Bucks displayed a very versatile attack as Brandon Jennings neared a triple double as well (12 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists). The Bucks have clearly showed they are the better team so far this season, Doc Rivers agrees; "Give the Bucks credit. They've beaten us three times. They're the better team right now."
The Bucks showed everything the Celtics lack. A pair of speedy guards that can get to the hoop (at least till Bradley returns), toughness, and rebounding. Most importantly the Celtics don't have Larry Sanders who kills them every time. Sanders represents what Boston needs to add to their roster. An energetic player that is active around the hoop on both sides of the court and can rebound the hell out of the ball.
Again, Boston can not rely on big nights from Pierce to stay in games all year, they need to find that piece to add, but Rajon Rondo needs to step up and become a scorer to help the cause. The bench was better against the Bucks but not good enough. If the extra production is not coming from the bench it needs to come from Rondo. He finished with six points on eight shots in 45 minutes. Rondo's aggression and ability to score is the key to this teams success, and a stat line like that is not going to cut it. I have said he has to make himself a 25 PPG type player to make this team a playoff contender, and nights like last night only further prove that. We'll find out if he has it in him Christmas day in Brooklyn.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pierce's 40 Pushes Celts Past Cavs

The Celtics bounced back strong from their three losses with a 103-91 victory against Cleveland at home on Wednesday night. Paul Pierce played a huge role finishing with a season high 40 points while also tallying eight boards and five assists. Here was what Pierce had to say about his performance; "I feel like the last few games I've been shooting the ball a lot better, three or four games now. I'm really coming along where I'm starting to get into a good groove offensively. The way my shot's going, picking my spots. So even before tonight I felt good." Rajon Rondo also chipped in 20 points, and Cleveland was led by Kyrie Irving and Tyler Zeller (made his first career start) with 22 and 20 points respectively. Boston made a couple shifts in the starting lineup, reinserting Jason Terry for Courtney Lee, and surprisingly brining Jason Collins in to start at center (moving KG to the 4) in an attempt to fix the rebounding/size problem the Celtics have battled all year. Collins fouled out in 23 minutes with a point, two rebounds, a block and a steal. 
It was an exciting night to be in the building as a fan while Pierce took us back in the time machine putting up his 40 points on 13-for-16 shooting (6-for-7 from downtown and perfect on his eight free throw attempts). But lets take a step back and look at this one for a second. Pierce very well may go the rest of the season without having another game like this, so it certainly is not something we can rely on. Anderson Varejao was out for the Cavs, a player that this rebounding challenged team would have had a miserable time keeping up with. The Cavs were able to go on a 17-0 run in the second half before Boston had to bring Pierce back in to close out the game. Despite winning, there are a LOT of things Boston has to work on to have the type of season they hope for. The bench was awful again with 15 points on 6-for-17 shooting. SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE! Besides staying healthy, here are the 3 things that must happen in Boston if this team will make a playoff push. 

1. Avery Bradley has to return in early January and make a significant impact on defense and fast break points. He is the perfect backcourt mate for Rondo and they need to gel again like they did last season.

2. Danny Ainge has to make a move to bring another active big man to the roster. Kevin Garnett is still giving everything he has and you have to tip your cap to how he holds down the defense. But KG plays only 25-30 minutes a night and the wheels fall off every time he is on the bench. Chris Wilcox has been the teams next best big and has been in and out of the lineup. Whoever is brought in needs to be able to defend and rebound, good offense would be a bonus. The three top names floating around: Varejao (would be perfect), Marcin Gortat, and Kenyon Martin.

3. Rondo has to step up and truly be the leader of this team. Pierce and Garnett both refer to Rondo as the leader, he has to accept that role. Pierce and Garnett's scoring is down and the bench isn't picking it up like they were suppose to. Rondo must become a 25 PPG player while maintaining his assist numbers. Not that it will be easy for him to do, but it is the player that he needs to become if he is going to be the man on this team, and the piece Ainge builds around in the future. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Celtics Fall to Bulls, Noah Posts Triple Double

The Boston Celtics dropped their third and final game of a three game road trip in Chicago, going winless on the trip, and sliding back down to .500 on the season. Not only was is Boston's third loss in a row, but it was their third in a row by double digits, 100-89. "We are not a good team right now. This is who we are. We are a .500 team,"; said a grim Doc Rivers after the loss. Rajon Rondo led four Celtics in double figures with a game high 26 points, but was the mere bright spot for the team. Boston's bench was a no show, and it is getting to the point where Danny Ainge has to consider making a move. The Celtics bench came up with 16 points on 5-for-23 shooting from the field against the Bulls. Avery Bradley is on schedule to return to the starting lineup next month, helping to strengthen the bench, but it still looks like there will be more to be done.
Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer were Chicago's top scorers with 21 apiece, but Joakim Noah had his second career triple double to carry the Bulls (11 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists). It was an overall dominating performance by the Bulls in all aspects of the game. Nate Robinson was able to outscore the Boston bench by himself, finishing with 18 points while shooting 5-for-7 from three point range. "Nothing better," said Joakim Noah after being asked what it feels like to beat the Celtics.
The Celtics will try and get back on track when they play the Cleveland Cavaliers at the TD Garden on Wednesday December 19th.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bradley Returns to Practice

Avery Bradley returned to practice on December 18th, his first time playing since May. Bradley had shoulder surgery that ended his season during the playoff series against the 76ers. Bradley is expected to be able to return to action sometime in January, and is anticipated to start at guard alongside Rajon Rondo. If that is the case, both Courtney Lee and Jason Terry would consistently be coming off the bench. Some think if the Celtics had been with Avery for the Eastern Conference Finals that they could have found a way past the Miami Heat with his defensive contributions. It could be just what this struggling Celtics team needs to add someone that can run the floor with Rondo and locks down the opposing teams best perimeter player. Bradley has been working out and getting shots up, but said he felt great to be back practicing with the team. Hopefully his return can provide the spark this team needs.

C's Drop Back to Back in Texas

The Celtics opened up their three game road trip in Houston on Friday night getting off to a very a sluggish start. Courtney Lee took over the starting guard spot sending Jason Terry back to his reserve role, something Terry is very comfortable with. Boston was able to come back in the second quarter before giving up the lead to the Rockets for good in the fourth. Houston ended up winning by double digits, 101-89. Paul Pierce led the way for Boston with 18 points, Rajon Rondo was able to put together a double-double (15 points, 13 assists), but had a season high seven turnovers in what was overall a pretty ugly effort from the guys in green. James Harden and the Rockets were able to dominate the last five minutes of the game, Harden finished with a game high 21 points. Greg Smith was the X-factor for the Rockets with 20 points off the bench in only 21 minutes on 8-9 shooting from the field.

The following evening the Celtics were in San Antonio taking on a Spurs team that had their number earlier this season at the Garden. Another tough game on the road for the C's ended with their second double digit loss in a row, 103-88. The Spurs went on a 13-3 run in the fourth that put the game out of Boston's reach, solidifying a win despite only five points from Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili playing only four minutes. The Celtics were led by Paul Pierce and Jason Terry who finished with 18 points each, Kevin Garnett chipped in with 13 to go along with six rebounds. But the Spurs proved to be too much, Tony Parker had 22 points and Gary Neal was right behind him with 20.
The Celts will try and finish the three game road trip strong Tuesday night in Chicago, before returning home to play the Cavs on Wednesday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Extra Basketball in Boston

Two extra periods were needed Wednesday night to settle this contest between the Celtics and Mavericks, with Boston finally pulling away 117-115. It looked like Doc Rivers and company were going to cruise to victory until a late push led by O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison got Dallas right back in the game. When it was all over, the Mavericks only led for 17 seconds of the game, but that was enough to keep the score tied at the end of regulation and the first OT. Even more astounding the Mavs were able to survive 28 turnovers on the road and keep this game competitive up to the final buzzer. Rajon Rondo and Mayo both played over 50 minutes and each set a career high in minutes on the night.
Paul Pierce netted a game high 34 points, his first 30 plus point effort of the young season. Pierce was one of six Celtics in double figures, highlighted by Rondo with 16 to go along with 9 rebounds and 15 assists. Mayo was Dallas' high man with 24 and got good help from Collison who finished with 20. They were joined by five other Mavericks in double figures.
The Celtics had chances to win at the end of regulation and the first overtime, but missed shots by Rondo and Pierce respectively kept the game going. Pierce opened the second OT with a three pointer that gave Boston the lead and they never looked back. Pierce went on to shoot five for six from the free throw line to eventually ice the game for the Celtics ending a long night. Despite coming into the game rested, the Celtics play back to back in Houston and San Antonio on Friday and Saturday night, and the heavy minutes tonight were not ideal for Doc Rivers.

Mavs in Town Minus Dirk

The Dallas Mavericks (11-10) will be in town Wednesday night to do battle with the Boston Celtics (11-9) in what will be Jason Terry's first match up against his ex team. Terry spent eight seasons in Dallas and was a key member off the bench in Dallas' 2011 championship run. Now in a starting roll wearing green, Terry has been putting together a nice season for Boston. Dallas has been without their star Dirk Nowitzki (knee) for the season so far, but are still managing to have a solid start to the year. Free agent signing O.J. Mayo has stepped into the lead roll for the Mavericks very well averaging 20.8 PPG, 4 RPG, and 3.5 APG. Mayo needed a change in scenery after things went down hill for him in Memphis. Originally drafted to be a cornerstone of the Grizzlies franchise, Mayo turned into a roll player on the bench when ex Celtic Tony Allen stole his job. Dallas had a major overhaul this off season also adding free agents Chris Kaman, Darren Collison, and Elton Brand. Both teams come into tonight's game off of wins and will look to keep the momentum rolling at the Garden at 8 P.M. in front of a National stage on ESPN.

C's Split Home-Home with Philly

The home team was able to win both match-ups this past weekend between Boston and Philadelphia. Friday night the Sixers squeaked out an overtime victory 95-94 thanks to late game heroics by Evan Turner. Boston had their chances to win both in regulation and OT, both ended with Rajon Rondo missed jumpers. The second one came on a play that looked like Rondo was going to break free for a layup on a handoff from Kevin Garnett, then Rondo appeared to lose his footing and settled for an awkward looking shot that was never even close. Despite the mistake, Rondo posted a triple double with 16 points, 14 assists, and 13 rebounds on his stat line. Paul Pierce also caught fire in the second half, finishing with a game high 27 points, but played 44 minutes, far over where Doc Rivers would like to see him. Jeff Green was fantastic on the road again, tallying 19 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Evan Turner hit the go ahead bucket for Philly and finished with 26 points, 10 boards, and five dimes. Jrue Holiday played well, and did a great job controlling the pace for the Sixers like he has all year, despite not having one of his better statistical games. Thaddeus Young also finished with a double double of 17 points and 12 rebounds. It was a well balanced performance by Philadelphia, but the Celtics felt they should have come out on top in this game, and showed why the next night.

Now on their home floor, the Celtics controlled the rematch with the Sixers from the opening tip. Putting forward their best defensive half of the season, Philly had only 28 points at halftime, and found themselves down 20 points. The big three led the way for Boston, Garnett with a team high 19 points (despite not recording a single rebound in a game for the first time since 1997). Pierce had 13 points and 9 helpers (passing 4,000 career assists and placing him 5th all time in Celtics history), and Rondo put forward a typical stat line of seven points, nine boards, and 11 assists. Once again Jeff Green was a presence off the bench, finishing with 16 points. The high man for Philly was Young with 22, but not much scoring for them as they were held to 39% shooting from the field but the Boston defense.
"I love the way we responded tonight," Pierce said afterwards, "A lot of guys were mad for the fact we lost yesterday and we wanted to take it out on them today. We came up with something to prove." The captain seemed happy with the win, as was coach Doc Rivers; "Our defense is why we won... When you play defense like that, you win games." Rivers kept it simple, but clearly was impressed with the effort. The Celtics will try and make it two in a row at home on Wednesday night against Jason Terry's former team, the Dallas Mavericks.

C's Roll Past Garnett's Former Team

The Celtics cruised through the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Garden on December 5th, winning by 10 in a game they controlled from the start. All five starters finished in double figures for Boston, led by Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett with 18 a piece. Point guard Rajon Rondo got back on track after returning from his two game suspension by posting a double-double of 17 points and 11 assists. Jeff Green was strong off the bench with eight points and four rebounds in limited minutes.
It was a balanced attack from Minnesota with Kevin Love at the head (19 points, 13 rebounds), but the Wolves could never get it together enough to make the late push they needed. Doc Rivers feels as though things are not there yet, good things are around the corner for this team; "You can feel it starting to come. It's not here, but it's coming and you feel that. We've just got to push through. It's going to be a great month for us." Up next for Boston is a home and home Vs. the 76ers, starting in Philly Friday night and in Boston the following evening. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Quick Start in Milwaukee Not Enough

On the second night of a back-to-back for the Celtics on the road, the team came out surprisingly fresh without Rajon Rondo in uniform jumping out to a 17-0 lead against the Bucks. Things only went down hill from there. Brandon Jennings hit a late three pointer with 24 seconds left that put the Bucks ahead for good in their 91-88 victory. Jason Terry did a good job filling in for Rondo finishing with 15 points and 11 assists, and Jeff Green was able to string together another solid performance with 18 points and six rebounds. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett each finished with 19 and 17 points respectively, but the Bucks were just too much as they were able to comeback led by a career night from Larry Sanders. Just one night after Sanders compiled his first career triple double, he came back with a stat line of 18 points, 16 boards and five blocks. Milwaukee has caused a lot of problems for the Celtics this year, taking two of their three games so far. Boston will get plenty of rest after this one, next up are the Timberwolves at the Garden on Wednesday night.

Just what the Doctor Ordered

After calling his team out for being "soft" on Wednesday night, the Celtics came out strong on Friday night against Portland without their starting point guard. Courtney Lee got the start in place of Rajon Rondo, and put forward his best performance of the season. Jeff Green and Jason Terry also played key roles in Boston's 96-78 victory. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce combine for only 22 points, and yet the Celtics were still in control throughout the entire game. Jeff Green led the way with 19 points and 4 steals in only 23 minutes on the floor, Jason Terry finished right behind with 17 points. Most importantly the team was able to pick up a victory without their best player, while playing Garnett and Pierce in an even more limited role than they have been in lately.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Previewing the Blazers

The Portland Trailblazers come to town tonight to face the Celts, a team that Boston has had control over in recent history. The Celtics have won five straight against the Blazers, and have taken the last eight games in Boston against Portland. In order to keep that streak alive, Doc Rivers will have to rely more on veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to step up in the absence of the suspended Rajon Rondo. A tough task with the way that Rivers has been managing both of his aging stars minutes thus far in the season.

Leandro Barbosa is expected to make the start at point guard in Rondos place, robbing fans of the expected showdown at the position between Rondo and Portland's top rookie Damian Lillard. Lillard was taken sixth overall in the NBA draft by the Blazers out of little known Weber State, and has displayed the ability to be a heavy contributor right away. Barbosa will now draw the matchup with Lillard, who is averaging 19.1 PPG and 6.1 APG so far in his campaign for Rookie of the Year. Portland has a 6-9 record on the young season, but have displayed the ability to pick up big wins. To make matters worse for Boston, forwards Jeff Green (knee) and Chris Wilcox (illness) are both questionable for tonights contest. If the Celtics are going to continue their recent trend against the Blazers, they are going to need their Veterans to step up and play well tonight.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Aftermath: Brawling in Beantown

It has just been announced that Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will serve a two game suspension for his actions Wednesday night against the Brooklyn Nets. No word yet on suspensions for any of the other players involved. Immediate reaction certainty suggests that Doc Rivers' squad dodged a bullet on this one, as most estimates had Rondo's suspension as high as five games for his role in the scuffle that spilled into the crowd at the TD Garden.

Kris Humphries tweeted the above after the Brooklyn Nets collected the win. As most fans have taken a stance behind Rondo, and defended his toughness, this is a struggling team with a frustrated point guard. Rondo losing his cool against the Nets is nothing for fans to cheer about. They will be without their leader now Friday against Portland and Saturday against Milwaukee, and will threaten to drop below .500... indefensible actions if you ask me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Suspension coming for Rondo

Games don't get much uglier than they did Wednesday night at the Garden if your'e a Celtics fan. Doc Rivers has had the team focusing strictly on defense the last three days of practicing, and it showed. The Nets shot a mere 40% from the field, and a brutal 65% from the free throw line. The problem is the Celtic forgot to show up on the offensive end, scoring only 83 points on 43% shooting of their own. All of this was overshadowed by an altercation during the last minute of the first half during a Kris Humphries hard foul on Kevin Garnett. After Garnett went to the floor, Rajon Rondo got in the face of Humphries and shoved him. Humphries retaliated and things escalated. Rondo and Humphries were ejected from the game (ending Rondo's double digit assist streak at 37), Gerald Wallace and Kevin Garnett also received technical fouls for the scuffle (Wallace was ejected as well because it was his second technical of the game). Suspensions are in the near future for most of the players involved. Rather than using this as inspiration for the second half, the Celtics came in flat out of the locker room and Brooklyn ran away with it. So once again we did not get to see the point guard matchup we all wanted to see between Rondo and Deron Williams, but tonight proved that the Nets are for real. They played hard on defense, and showed that they have the depth to compete in what may now be the deepest division in the NBA. Andre Blatche, Jerry Stackhouse, and C.J. Watson combine for 47 points off the bench, and easily picked up the slack after the departures of Humphries and Wallace. The Celtics on the other handle struggled to get the offense on track with Rondo missing, and a horrible night from Paul Pierce did not help. Pierce was 4-13 from the field and only 6-11 from the free throw line. Needless to say the Christmas day game in Brooklyn between the two just got a lot more interesting after the brawl tonight. But with the Nets 2-0 this season against the Celtics, this time it will be the Celtics trying to prove that they are still in the mix to compete in the East.
Not many predicted the Brooklyn Nets would be arriving in Boston on November 28th looking down at the Celtics in the standings, but that is exactly where they find themselves. Tonight Boston will look to avenge their November 15th loss at the hands of the Nets (at the new astounding Barclays Center in Brooklyn), a loss many Celtics fans shook off after Rajon Rondo was unable to play in the meeting due to an ankle injury. But these are no longer the lowly New Jersey Nets, this Brooklyn team is here to stay. The Nets find themselves arriving against a hot Celtics team that was able to get an impressive victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the TD Garden on Friday night. Truth be told tonight will be a very telling matchup between two Atlantic Division powers, and with Rondo now at full strength, we will get a full indication of where the teams stand in the Eastern Conference.