Maine vs. Iowa Preview

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Maine Red Claws (8-3) vs. Iowa Energy (11-1)
1:00PM Thursday December 31, Portland Expo, Portland, Maine

Later today your Maine Red Claws face off against the Iowa Energy, who are associated with the Chicago Bulls and the Phoenix Suns. Maine will be looking to hand the best team in the league their second loss of the season just three days after handing the worst team in the league their second victory of the season.

Unlike the Red Claws, the Energy are not packed with NBA talent. The Suns have assigned Taylor Griffin to the D-League, but he is not a points leader on the team. Instead, Curtis Stinson of Iowa State, with no NBA experience, is leading the team to the top. Apart from Griffin, the Energy have three players with NBA time, including Earl Barron, who earned a ring with the Miami Heat in 2006. New Englanders will also recognize Rashad Anderson, a UConn product who was part of the 2003-04 championship team.

This is an important game for Austin Ainge and the Maine Red Claws. It’s always been an important game, but it became doubly so after the Sunday loss to Bakersfield. A home win over Iowa would re-establish Maine as one of the top teams in the league and give their season momentum again. Another loss – especially if it’s a thumping – could lead to roster changes.

This game will be a challenge, to be sure. Thanks to the Celtics’ injuries, the Claws are without the C's assignees, though Bobcat Alexis Ajinca remains. The rest of the team will have to step it up in a way they didn’t on Sunday. These two teams match up well, and Maine can’t let the Energy establish an early lead. They have to return to their usual aggressive defense and prevent the Energy from getting into an offensive rhythm.

NEXT THREE: Friday, January 1, vs. Eerie BayHawks, 5PM, Portland Expo; Monday, January 4, vs. LA D-Fenders, Qwest Arena, Boise, ID 3:45PM; Tuesday, January 5, @ Sioux Falls SkyForce, Qwest Arena, Boise ID, 1PM.

The Morning Walkthrough: Doc expected to win, but not affected by loss

The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn't mean we have to. Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day.

Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston - "Celtics coach Doc Rivers wasn't happy that his team dropped its third game in four nights, wrapping up a four-game road trip 1-3 after a Christmas Day win in Orlando. But he admitted the odds were stacked against his shorthanded team Wednesday night at Phoenix as it battles mounting injuries, and he said he hoped his troops learned how important it is to capture winnable games. 'The lesson we should learn on this trip is that when you give away games with the Clippers when you're healthy, then do it again [against the Warriors], and then when you're injured, you need those games back -- but you can't get them back,' said Rivers. 'This game would have been very difficult to win. They're a very good team. When you take your two best scorers away against a scoring team ... you might not win that game. This game doesn't affect me at all.'"

A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE - "Despite being without about half of their usual playing rotation, Rivers came into the game with no thoughts of conceding defeat. 'I expected to win,' he said. 'I think we pay every guy. As long as you do, you have to come in the game with the expectations to win.' But it seemed in the game's early stages, the Celtics didn't have the kind of fight you normally see from them. It was as if they bought into the notion that because they were so short-handed - Marquis Daniels (left thumb) and Glen Davis (sprained right ankle) were also out - a loss to the Suns was something they had no control over. 'Somebody has to be the spark. We didn't have that tonight,' said Kendrick Perkins, who had 13 points and seven rebounds. 'We came out like Doc said, we kind of (played like) we knew we were going to lose the game or something like that. Doc tried to give us some energy, but it just wasn't there for us mentally and physically.'"

Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston - "'They were more aggressive than us today,' said Eddie House, who provided the only spark for Boston, hitting five of the seven 3-pointers he attempted off the bench for a team-high 19 points. 'We came out and we were kind of lollygagging after that point, you know, going through the motions. They came out playing hard and they got us. So tip your cap to them. We’ll try to regroup next game. We’ll get it together, it’s a long season.'"

Bright Side of the Sun - "Channing set his season high with 26 points on 9 of 15 shooting including 6 three's. Many of those three's came at key points when the Celtics were making a push to get back in the game. His shooting tonight wasn't just on fire, it was clutch. More impressive though was his 10 rebounds. He understands that his rebounding is as important if not more so to this team and he's certainly focused on that. He's also working hard on adding some dribble drive moves to his game. 'They're closing out so hard on him and that's something he's worked on in practice. He has to be able to put it down for one or two dribbles and shoot it or if there's an ally he's got to be able to take it to the basket. He's gotten pretty good at that,' said Gentry."

Paul Coro, Arizona Republic - "Two nights after routing the Lakers, the Suns lit up the Celtics' NBA-best scoring defense for a 116-98 victory Wednesday night. Boston was finishing a four-game road trip that began in Orlando and finished in the West, and Paul Pierce (knee), Kevin Garnett (knee), Glen Davis (ankle) and Marquis Daniels (thumb) sat out. But the Suns still became the only team besides the Lakers to sweep Celtics since 2007-08, re-establishing home-court success and its offense. 'I say to our guys all the time, 'When we play at home, we expect to win every game,'' said Suns coach Alvin Gentry, whose home record is 26-5 since taking over. 'It doesn't matter who we play.'"

Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald - "Kevin Garnett joined Paul Pierce on the shelf. And there was no Glen Davis or Marquis Daniels. Ergo no real prayer. Rajon Rondo did play in the 116-98 loss to the Suns, but with a tightly wrapped left hamstring, acquiring 13 points and eight assists. He said after his only problem was Phoenix, but he was clearly not his freewheeling self. 'I was proud of him because he’s at the level now where he can play on one leg and dominate the game, and I thought he did that at times,' said Celts coach Doc Rivers. 'He’s really assuming a role of leadership on this team, and I’m probably as proud of him as any player in a long time because he’s come a long way. I’m very happy for him.'"

Have a link I might want to look at? Send it my way by email ( or Twitter.

Running Diary: Undermanned Celtics again can't rise in the West

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tic-tac-toe, three in a row.  Unfortunately for the Celtics, it's now three losses in a row.

From the very beginning, the Celtics were thoroughly outplayed, and the loss of KG and Paul Pierce were simply too much to overcome against a good Suns team.

As shorthanded as they were, the Celtics simply exhibited very little effort.  They gave up offensive rebounds and wide open jumpers all night long.  I never wanted to ram my head into a wall harder than I did seeing Channing Frye wide open on the arc play after play.  Sure, he was hotter than Mila Kunis (right), but I'm pretty sure things might have been different if he'd had a hand in his face all night.

At the end of the day, though, the Celtics were without two of their stars and another -- Rajon Rondo -- might as well have sat out the first half, too.  Beyond that, they were missing two key subs, Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels.  With so many players out, it's a testament to the C's track record with injuries that anybody is even upset by the loss.  Really, they should have been expected to lose this one, in Phoenix against a good Suns team.

But they just shouldn't have lost like that, with little effort and even less resistance.

If you want to read some more of my thoughts, here's my running diary of thoughts during the game.  Hopefully, they will probably bring you a smile, even if your head -- like mine -- is still hurting from ramming it into the wall after all those Frye jumpers.

First Quarter
  • KG's out for tonight, and I'm going to say it now...  To say KG's injury is unrelated to last year's surgery is like saying Tiger Woods' car crash was completely unrelated to his "transgressions."  Highly unlikely.  The Celtics expect us to believe he got kicked in the knee and that's what's causing all the discomfort?  Please don't insult our intelligence.
  • Tony Allen with a sick behind-the-back in the open court, then right after that leads the break and finds Rasheed Wallace for a breakaway dunk.  Allen's resurgence has been more shocking than it would be if Steve Nash went up for a tomahawk dunk.
  • Not shocking, though, is that Amare Stoudemire is destroying a KG-less Boston front line.  Almost before I could sit down in my couch, he already has 8 points. 12-10, Celtics.
  • After a couple Phoenix threes, Boston's defense looks very porous early on.  They're flat, and seem to be in a funk just like they were when KG missed a game earlier in the season.  It took them an entire half to recover that night, but that was against the Pacers.  If the C's play a bad half tonight, without KG and Pierce, they'll get blown out... no matter how well they play in the second half.
  • 20-12, Suns.  Suns are running and gunning, and on a quick 12-0 run.  Nash is firing bullet passes ahead to his teammates, and Amare is killing the Celtics whenever Nash or a three-pointer doesn't.
  • My brother: "This could be a loonnggg night."  Reason number one I know it's going to be a long night?  Amare Stoudemire just took a charge.  Since when does Amare Stoudemire exert any energy at all on the defensive side of the floor?
  • Reason number two I know it's going to be a long night?  Brian Scalabrine was the first man off the bench.  Never a good sign.
  • Less than ten minutes in, Amare looks like the second coming of... searching for a good basketball comparison... not finding one worthy... screw it, fine, Jesus Christ, with 16 points and 6 rebounds.  And no help seems on the horizon; he's now being defended by Scal.  (Note: I vaguely remember Scal doing a great job on Amare once upon a time. Sadly, I don't believe a repeat is likely.)
  • The first quarter mercilessly comes to a close, but not after Jesus Christ erupted for 18 points and 6 rebounds.  Let's just say the Celtics miss Pierce and Garnett.
Second Quarter
  • I'm surprised Rondo didn't play a better first quarter.  He usually kills Steve Nash, but had a non-existent 2 points and 1 dime in the first.  Maybe his hammy is a little stiff?
  • Stat that makes literally no sense: Celtics had 10 fast break points in the first, Suns only had 4.  Huh?  Did my eyes deceive me?  Weren't the Suns running all over the C's in the first?
  • The second quarter starts off even worse than the first.  Instead of Amare Stoudemire looking like Jesus Christ, it's now Channing Frye and Louis Amundson getting easy dunks and easy layups.  None of which looks good for the guys in Green. 36-21, Suns.
  • Louis Amundson gets fouled on an easy layup look, and Donny Marshall is ecstatic because -- for once tonight -- the Celtics defense rotated.  When the announcer is that hyped after a single defensive rotation and a foul that results in two shots for the opposing team, it is never, never a good sign.
  • Tony Allen strips the ball from Grant Hill (aka pokes him in the eye) and heads off the other way, where he gets fouled by Barbosa.  Allen is the lone bright spot tonight.  If you think that bodes well for winning this game, think again.
  • With the Celtics down 44-32 and not showing any energy whatsoever, is there a better time to throw Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens into the fire?  And maybe Lester Hudson?  If nothing else, they'll bring some energy into the game.
  • Tony Allen flushes home a nice dunk off a Perkins feed. He continues to be the One Shining Player for the Celts.  I thought Rondo would play well, but I'm not really sure if he has even stepped foot out of the locker room yet.
  • Finally.  Another reason to smile, and maybe even a little hope: Eddie House nails two consecutive jumpers, and the Celtics are now down only 9 points.
  • Ray Allen spends an entire shot clock dribbling, only to end the possession with an awkward, off-balance, running layup that clanks heavily off the backboard then rim.  Not so coincidentally, methinks, Doc calls Rondo to sub in on the next play.
  • Tony Allen picks up his fourth steal, then gets called for a bogus charging foul while finishing the layup at the other end.  Granted, he should have given the ball up to a wide open Rajon Rondo, but he didn't commit a charge, damn it!
  • The bad news: Grant Hill blocks Rondo's half-court heave at the end of the half, and the Suns take a 61-49 lead into half-time.  The good news: I finally noticed Rondo was in the game.  
  • More good news: If the Celtics pick up their defense in the second half, and rebound the basketball, they are in position to come back.  The bad news?  They haven't shown a single sign of doing that yet.
Third Quarter
  • I just got a glass of water, except I didn't put any ice in it.  Is anyone else in the world so lazy that they'll drink lukewarm water rather than get some ice cubes out of the freezer?  (Thinking about Rasheed Wallace sauntering around the court... Thinking about Rasheed Wallace's gut... Thinking about Rasheed Wallace's tendency to settle for three-pointers... Maybe there is someone as lazy as I am, after all.)
  • Reason not to trust Gary Tanguay, under any circumstances: He just said the Celtics are doing a good job without KG and Pierce tonight.  Huh?  Really, Gary?  Did you even watch the Celtics get smoked in the first half?
  • An early fourth foul for Stoudemire.  Donny Marshall says it might be a blessing in disguise for the Celtics.  I ask you, what's the disguise?  It couldn't be more clear that fourth foul was a blessing if it came stamped "Blessing".
  • Perk is starting to take advantage of Stoudemire, who the Suns left in the game despite his fourth foul.  Earlier I said Stoudemire wasn't likely to exert any effort defensively, so you can imagine what he's like with four fouls.  Straight matador.  The C's should go to Perk a whole lot as long as Stoudemire stays in the game.
  • When Amare dunks, it's like the rim did something wrong to him.  Like it made him very angry and he just wants to hurt it.  He does not go to the hoop weakly.
  • Perkins gets called for a moving screen.  I think it's the millionth moving screen of his career.
  • The Celtics temporarily had the deficit back down to nine, but it quickly ballooned to 16.  That's what happens when you play negative defense and leave shooters and big men wide open.  Channing Frye has now hit three wide open threes; something tells me it might have been in the scouting report that he likes to fire from long range.  Just a guess.
  • Rasheed shoots an airball from three-point range, an exclamation point in what so far has been an 0-4 night from downtown.  If my eyes weren't mistaken, his lower body was still twisting while he pulled the trigger; 'Sheed had no balanace on that one.  I don't know if that's been his problem, but I'll keep a closer eye on it.
  • The lead is now twenty.  I'm contemplating turning the channel and stopping the torture, but I can't;  I keep hoping the Celtics will mount a comeback.  Me not turning it off is like somebody going through the Chinese Water torture by choice:  The water keeps dripping and dripping onto my face, and all I have to do is role over and stop it, but I don't.  Somehow, after all this crappiness tonight, I still have a little faith in my Celtics.
  • Channing Frye right now is a combination of college J.J. Redick, Hoosiers Jimmy Chitwood, and Bulls Steve Kerr.  Of course, it helps he's been wide open all game long, but still.
  • 90-73, Phoenix after three.  Even the biggest die-hards like myself are close to throwing the white flag.
Fourth Quarter
  • Shelden Williams starts the fourth off with an emphatic missed dunk.   He sure does seem to miss a whole lot of dunks.
  • Shocking stat of the night #2: Jared Dudley is leading the NBA in three-point field goal percentage.  Watching him in college, I would have thought I had a better chance of leading the NBA in three-point shooting than Dudley.
  • As bad as it's been, the Suns lead is only 15 with ten minutes left. As bad as it's been, I still have hope.  Somebody hit me in my head and tell me how stupid I am.
  • Oh, well, there goes my hope.  A quick Channing Frye jumper makes the lead 17, and then Barbosa goes right by Scalabrine and hits a bucket.  Two plays later, Frye hits another three.  He's as hot as a conventional oven right now.
  • The lead is twenty, and it's just about time for the youngsters to (finally) get their chance.  As for me?  My hope has been strangled away by a flurry of jumpers from a guy who looks like an over-sized version of Sean Elliott.

  • Tell me they don't look alike.  Tell me.  That's what I thought.
  • The rest of the game was pretty normal for two teams just trying to run out the clock. Shelden Williams getting a technical was the only thing out of the ordinary but, really, who cares if Williams gets a technical?  Not me.
  • The youngsters finally got their chance, but it was only in garbage time.  Actually, the whole game might as well have been garbage time.
  • Oh yeah, and Shelden Williams missed another dunk.

Garnett out for tonight's game: Is his injury really no big deal?

Our worst fears have happened; Kevin Garnett is hurt, and the reasons for him sitting are both varied and vague.

According to the Herald and ESPNBoston, he got kicked in the knee. But the Globe's Gary Washburn says he hyperextended his knee, and does that happen just from getting kicked?

The team says Garnett is okay, that sitting Garnett is only for "strategic rest", but pardon me if strategic rest doesn't sound a lot like "Garnett's old injury is acting up again."

It's tough to trust the Celtics when it comes to KG's injuries, mostly because they've lied about them for a year straight. If you're scoring at home, the team says Garnett is okay, but the injury has been described as anything from a thigh bruise to a hyperextended knee. Sounds a lot like lost season, doesn't it?

Uh-oh. At the very least, I wish the Celtics could do me one favor: If KG goes down for an extended period of time, please don't try to replace him with Mikki Moore.

If you still have any faith in what the organization says, here's what the team had to say about the whole incident, via ESPNBoston:
"The good news is we don't have serious injuries that are long-term things that are going to prevent us from accomplishing our goals," Celtics executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in an interview Wednesday afternoon on Boston sports radio station WEEI. "They are just short-term issues that we have to get through."

The Celtics ruled out Davis earlier Wednesday and deemed Garnett a game-time decision.

"If I do decide to sit [Garnett], I'm not sitting him for one game. I can tell you that," Celtics coach Doc Rivers told Comcast Sportsnet. "I told Kevin that."

Rivers told Comcast that if he decided to sit Garnett, he would probably keep him out two games until about Jan. 6, when the Celtics face the Heat, or longer. He said he wasn't sure if that was the direction he was going to take with Garnett but that he was "leaning that way heavily."

"It's early in the season," Rivers told Comcast. "We got tonight and we got two days, and then we got three days after that. To me, if you're going to rest guys, this is the perfect time to do it."
And here's me, hoping it's as small a deal as the Celtics say (Okay, so it's not really me. You get the idea.)...

My favorite Celtics of the decade

So it's just about the New Year, which means it's just about the end of the decade, which means it's time for everyone and their mother to come up with All-Decade lists. I was thinking about what to write my own All-Decade lists, and couldn't decide what in the hell to do. I thought about writing the Boston Celtics All-Decade team... until I realized I might as well state their starting lineup for this season. I thought about writing about the ten best Celtics plays of the decade... but I'm far too indecisive to choose ten plays. I thought about ranking the top ten players... but that's kind of boring.

So instead of picking the best players, or the best plays, or an All-Decade team (because ANYONE can do that), I chose to write a list of my ten favorite players, mostly because, well, my favorites are probably far different than yours.

And here they are:

10. Walter McCarty - Why Walter McCarty? He was, at best, mediocre. He was a link to one of the worst times in Celtics history. He was Walter McCarty.

To be honest, I love Walter mostly for Tommy Heinsohn's famous call... IIII LOOOVVVEEEE WWWALLLLLLTTTAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!! But it wasn't just that. McCarty gave his all on the court, and he did it during a time when not every Celtic gave a damn. And for that, I love Waltah.

9. Delonte West - You're going to start seeing a theme on this list: My favorite players are normally tough, tough bastards. When Delonte was on the Celtics (and now, too), he was a gritty defender, a hard-nosed rebounder, and he didn't yet carry shotgun-filled guitar cases over his shoulder. (At least so far as we know.)

Plus, he was always good for a goofy interview like this one:

8. Ray Allen - Ray's game is as smooth as silk. From his picture-perfect jumper to his finger-roll finishes at the rim, Ray is the epitome of smooth. On top of the aesthetic pleasure I get while watching Ray, he's been willing to sacrifice his game in order to help the C's win ballgames.

More than any other Celtic, Ray has cut back his own game in order to fill the role Doc asks of him. And that, above anything else, is why Ray Allen has quickly become one of my favorites.

7. Eddie House - You take a more accomplished player, a starter, a point guard who can actually handle the rock.  I'll take Eddie House, shooter extraordinaire, a player who plays every second like it might be his last in the league. (Okay, damn it.  You got me.  I'd still like a point guard who can actually handle the rock.)

Just in case you forgot, Eddie was huge for the Celtics in their run to the '08 championship, then even bigger the following season while establishing a new Celtics single-season three-point percentage record.  Along the way, he's far surpassed what should have been the ceiling for a 6 foot nothing point guard who can barely dribble the ball upcourt.  You've got to appreciate the overacheiver.

6. Al Jefferson - While I love most of the guys on this list for their heart and grit, I admire Al mostly for the way he plays basketball.  Watching him whip out post move after post move, I can't help but lust after his great footwork and soft touch.  If I had a son who played in the post, I would give him tapes of Al Jefferson to help him become a better player; before long, my son would be doing drop-steps, up-and-unders and jump hooks, all with the soft touch of a goddess.  Is there a better compliment you can give a player than saying you wish your son played like him?

5. Rajon Rondo - Selfless on the court, with a mean streak that belies his meek exterior, Rajon Rondo is, quite simply, the best Celtics point guard of my lifetime.  (A short lifetime, indeed.)  He can do it all on the court, fill up box scores with the best of them, and he does it all with a certain flair that he makes seem so effortless.  I love Rondo because he never backs down from any challenge, because he fails to ever believe he might be outmatched.  With an attitude like that and all the athletic ability in the world, the sky is the limit for Mr. Rondo.

4. Antoine Walker - Good ol' Employee Number 8 (or is it Broke ol' Employee Number 8?)  has always been one of the most polarizing Celtics in recent history.  Some people felt his antics, like the Walker wiggle, were played out and unnecessary; others loved to see such joy emanating from a professional basketball player.  Some saw 'Toine as merely an underacheiver, capable of far more than he accomplished; others saw him as one of the more talented all-around players in the league, a player who could handle the basketball, pop out for three, or post up. 

In the end, he was all of those things, and that's part of what made me love him.  He was as accessible as any Celtic I've seen, and he behaved as I might if I got to play one game in the NBA... with unbridled enthusiasm and a passion for the game that most NBA players lose sometime down the road.

3. James Posey - If you need a guy to dive on the floor after a loose ball, Posey's your guy. If you need a clutch three, Posey's your guy. If you need a player who can guard three different positions, Posey's your guy. If you need a homo-erotic hug that makes every fan sitting in the first ten rows (at least) slightly uncomfortable, Posey's definitely your guy.

More than anything, Posey's on this list because he did whatever it took to get the C's wins. He fought for every inch, he never stepped outside his role, and I believe 100% that the Celtics wouldn't have won the 2008 championship without James Posey. Posey was only in Celtics green for one year, but he left an indelible mark as a tough competitor and, above all else, a winner.

2. Kevin Garnett - Even before Garnett became a Celtic, he was one of my favorite players.  I loved that he wore his heart on his sleeve, that he couldn't accept losing, and that he played as hard as any human ever has.  I loved him most of all for his interview with John Thompson, when a frustrated Garnett didn't demand a trade or sulk... no, he cried because he hates to lose, he blamed himself for the losses, and he stood by his teammates even as the wheels fell off in Minnesota.

I once wrote I love KG not only because he not only plays the game with unrivaled intensity and plays every play like it might be his last, but also because he demands that same kind of effort from every one of his teammates.  He's the rare leader who inspires his teammates to bigger and better things simply by being himself.

1. Paul Pierce - Who else could it be?  Pierce has been the Celtics' rock, their heart, and their soul since being drafted in the 1998 Draft.  Just like me, Pierce has experienced the Celtics during mediocrity, poverty and prosperity.  Pierce has been through the ups and downs in Boston, and seeing his career validated by winning an NBA championship was made all the sweeter by knowing that, just like me, Pierce has stayed with the C's during tough times and overcome those hardships. 

Knowing what it felt like to root for a team that won only 24 games, I can only imagine what it must have felt like for Pierce to actually play for that team.  He deserves the success as much as anyone in Boston, and will always be the player I remember as my absolute favorite.

Lester Hudson back with Celtics

Gary Washburn tweets that Lester Hudson has been recalled to the Celtics, perhaps in reaction to Rondo potentially missing time with his sore left hamstring.

Garnett, Rondo could miss tonight's game

And it looks more and more like Garnett's injury is worse than they're letting on...

Boston might be without two additional starters - Paul Pierce (right knee) has missed the last three games - with the most serious injury being to the surgically repaired right knee of Kevin Garnett.

Rivers said he hasn't made up his mind as to whether he will sit Garnett or Rajon Rondo whose left hamstring didn't appear to bother him too much during the team's morning shoot-around.

Garnett's injury is clearly the more serious of the two.

"If I do decide to sit him (Garnett), I'm not sitting him for one game. I can tell you that," Rivers said. "I told Kevin that."
If Rondo and KG sit, that will make five rotation players who won't be suiting up tonight, including arguably the Celtics three best players.


Big Baby out for tonight

Via the Celtics Twitter account:
Big Baby is not participating in today's shootaround, he's out for tonight's game vs. Phoenix and is considered day-to-day.

One more knife in the chest

As if watching the Celtics lose two very winnable games against mediocre (at best) opponents, today TrueHoop posted a video of Baron Davis walking through his game-winner the other night.

Since I'm spineless, I decided to alleviate my pain by sharing it with you guys...

The Morning Walkthrough: Rajon Rondo is 'made of carbon'

The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn't mean we have to. Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day.

Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald - "'Things happen to us that you turn and you ask yourself, ‘Why me?’ ” Garnett said as the Celtics had yesterday off in preparation for tonight’s road trip finale against the Phoenix Suns. “I told him when he went to the line (Monday), I smacked him and I said, ‘Yeah, redemption. Payback.’ I just kept filling him with that. It either makes you or breaks you, man. You can’t break this kid. This kid is made of carbon, man. Everybody knows what carbon is. You know that it’s damn near invincible. It’s just more than a pleasure to be his teammate.' Rondo shrugged it all off, but he was seriously down in LA. 'I was bummed out up until gametime (Monday),” Rondo said. “But luckily it’s the NBA. We had a back-to-back, so I tried to redeem myself, but we still got another loss. For me, I get down on myself. I’m very hard on myself. But I’m still confident. I’m going to play the game and feel like I’m the best at it.'"

Gary Washburn, Boston Globe - "'I think it’s a combination of we’re getting some pretty good performances by other teams and we’re not playing as hard as we can play for 48 minutes,' he said. 'We think we can show up for a quarter or a half, and that’s not good enough in this league, and that’s been our pattern. We come out of the gates ready to play and have shown up to play in some cases. Other cases we haven’t; we’ve had to turn it on in the second half. That’s the fear I had at the beginning of the season - play it out and wait for the playoffs to roll around and not bringing it night in and night out. This is the second stretch where we really haven’t really shown up. The urgency of winning from the get-go hasn’t been important enough.' Mentally - and that’s 90 percent of how NBA games are won - the Celtics had the Warriors defeated. All that was required was basic execution for the final three quarters. But with tired bodies on the second game of a back-to-back stretch, Paul Pierce sitting in his Waltham home trying not to kick the television with his healing right leg, and the offense depending solely on Rajon Rondo, the Celtics faltered."

Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald - "On one hand, Doc Rivers has derided his team’s play even in victories. But he seemed to be debating himself when he let his guys off the hook. 'If you look around, all the good teams have tight games against the lower teams,' he said. 'These are NBA players, so they’re going to play well. And it’s tough to win an NBA game. I think if you ask the bad teams, they’ll tell you that.' The problem the Celtics encounter is a boredom of sorts. They generally lose the mental energy to simply run their stuff and make extra passes when they get around teams they see as beneath them. On the rare occasions when they stick with their plan, they systematically run the foe out of the building. But too often they take the ball and try to make individual plays. The issue is even more acute down the stretch. With the experience and alleged wisdom on the team, it just shouldn’t be happening this often."

A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE - "For a veteran team, we played with absolutely zero composure,' Rivers said. 'We just didn't play like a veteran basketball team tonight.' Little did Rivers know that would be a recurring theme just 24 hours later. Ill-timed turnovers. Poor shot selection. Mental breakdowns defensively. If there was a way to keep the Warriors in the game, the Celtics were more than willing to give it to them. Kevin Garnett understands what's going on. The Celtics aren't playing Celtics basketball."

Gary Washburn, Boston Globe - "Davis left Oracle in arena wearing a protective boot and walking with crutches. 'I haven't heard anything, which means nothing is serious,' Ainge said. 'I sent (trainer) Eddie (Lacerte) a text and I haven't heard anything and usually that means it's not much.' Meanwhile, Ainge said the team will evaluate Paul Pierce's right knee this weekend to determine when he will return. 'We don't have any definite dates or change on Paul,' he said."

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Throwing some dimes: Rick Pitino's shining moment as a Celtic

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Once in a while, someone else's article catches my eye. Sometimes, it's because the article is so spot-on I wish I'd written it myself. Other times, it's because the article enlightens me with something I never knew. Still other times, it's because I disagree with whatever's written. No matter what the reason, I dish it off to another writer to make his/her point. You know, throwing some dimes.
  • Red's Army runs through the ten worst Celtics moments of the decade.  My favorite?  Number nine, Rick Pitino.  It's not often a top ten worst moment of the decade can make me laugh for full minutes at a time:
"Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they're going to be gray and old. What we are is young, exciting, hard-working, and we're going to improve. People don't realize that, and as soon as they realize those three guys are not coming through that door, the better this town will be for all of us because there are young guys in that (locker) room playing their asses off. I wish we had $90 million under the salary cap, I wish we could buy the world. We can't; the only thing we can do is work hard, and all the negativity that's in this town sucks. I've been around when Jim Rice was booed. I've been around when Yaz was booed. And it stinks. It makes the greatest town, greatest city in the world, lousy. The only thing that will turn this around is being upbeat and positive like we are in that locker room... and if you think I'm going to succumb to negativity, you're wrong. You've got the wrong guy leading this team."

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The NBA wants to sweep Rasheed Wallace's comments under the rug

You've got to love Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald for his article today about Rasheed Wallace. Just when the league thought it could get away without shining any more publicity on the Tim Donaghy scandal, Bulpett shined a light on their willingness to do whatever they can to let the scandal slide away:
When Rasheed Wallace said three weeks ago that the NBA was headed for a crash to rival the college basketball betting scandal of the 1950s, it seemed fairly certain the league’s lords of discipline would be hitting him with another fine.

But there was silence from the big offices, and now it appears that was quite by plan. According to sources, the NBA did contact the Celtics about comments from Wallace and Ray Allen regarding allegations by convicted former referee Tim Donaghy, but it preferred to lend no further publicity to the matter.
I really love bringing publicity to the fact that the NBA didn't want publicity, thereby generating the publicity they never wanted... or something like that.

I hope every NBA blog in the world links to Bulpett's article. Putting as much publicity as possible on the Donaghy scandal is a good thing, so that the NBA will be forced to take protective measurements to ensure that nothing like that ever happens again. 

Could I possibly have said publicity any more times within this post?  Yup.  Publicity.

Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen show leadership

There's a reason why guys like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are given a lot of the credit for turning around the entire Boston Celtics organization. (You know, besides their terrific skills and all that jazz.)

Here's what Garnett said to Rajon Rondo after he choked missed two late free throws in the loss to the Clippers.

Via the Boston Herald:
“I told him after the game, ‘Man, we’ve all been in that position. We’ve all made them; we’ve all missed them,” Kevin Garnett said before last night’s 103-99 loss to the Warriors. “And more than less, I’ve got the confidence in you to go back up there and make those.’ That’s the confidence I’ve got in Rondo. If he was to go up there a hundred times, I’m going to support him a hundred times, if not a hundred and one.”

He shared tales of his own failures, saying, “I have actually airballed game-winners. I think when we had a chance to put the Lakers away I missed two big free throws. I mean, it’s what gives you tough skin.

“And I told Rondo the true essence and the true meaning of confidence is being able to step back up there and take them. A lot of people don’t want to be in that position. A lot of people shy away from that. Things happen to certain individuals, and he’s a special one. You know what? He’ll grow. This is part of it. It’s part of growing pains, and you live and learn with it.”
And Ray:
“The percentage I’m shooting now, you can only get there from habit, those pressure situations that you’ve been in during your career,” Allen said. “I’ve missed plenty of shots, plenty of free throws to win games. So now when I go to the line, you remember those moments.

“I just told him, I said, ‘That’s what you remember. When you go to shoot free throws and you try to duplicate that situation over and over again, it’s going to make you a better free throw shooter. It’s going to make you a better player.’

“It makes him a better player because he has to live with that,” Allen said. “He has to deal with that. We’ve all had that gut-wrenching feeling in our stomachs that you don’t want to eat, you don’t want to do anything until you can play the next game and try to put it as far as you can in the back of your mind.”
You've got to love the support from KG and Ray. Even if they don't really believe in Rondo at the line, just to say that they do should bring Rondo some confidence.

And a night after saying those things?

Rondo went 7-9 from the line.

Doc's genius late-game coaching decision

Lost amidst another bad loss to a mediocre team was Doc Rivers' (Tom Thibodeau's?) late-game coaching decision to have his two biggest men defend the inbounds passer.  With the Celtics down two points and only 4.4 seconds remaining, Doc had Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett harass the inbounds passer on two successive plays. 

The first play, C.J. Watson drew the unfortunate task of passing the ball inbounds, and couldn't even see over Boston's two monsters, much less pass the ball over them.  Four seconds later, he called timeout and Don Nelson had to switch inbounders to give the 6'10" Vlad Radmanovic a chance.  Even Vlad had troubles throwing the ball in, and had to loft a super-dangerous pass right in front of his own basket that, unfortunately for the Celtics, was corralled by Monta Ellis to end the game.

For those of you who didn't see the game, here's what the defense looked like:

Be sure to applaud my serious photo-shopping skills.  Look at that high-tech and well-rounded circle. 

Seriously, though, has anyone ever seen that strategy employed before?  I hadn't, at least not that I can remember.  (And it's tough not to remember two seven-footers flailing their arms and doing jumping jacks in a strategy you've never seen before.) 

It seems like a great move, as long as you have two long seven-footers to execute it.  Who knows?  Maybe Doc will start a trend and, before you know it, every team will have their seven-footers jumping all over the place on late-game inbounds plays.

It was almost enough to save the Celtics last night.

Glen Davis sprains his ankle at a bad time

It's been a rough season so far for Glen Davis. First he went down for a few months after throwing a haymaker at his friend. Then he struggled to come back, played in three games, and now he's hurt again.

Via Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston:
Celtics forward Glen Davis, playing in only his third game of the season after missing the first 27 because of a fractured right thumb, departed Monday's game against the Golden State Warriors with a mild right ankle sprain.
Thankfully, it doesn't seem too serious:
"I didn't even ask; he'll be all right," Rivers said when asked about Davis' health. "The way I look at it, we'll find out [Tuesday]."
The injury comes at a bad time for Davis, who was seemingly just finding his way how to become a professional.

Via the Boston Herald:
“[My injury] made me think about a lot of things,” Davis said. “I still think all the time about basketball, but what happened made me think even more about me as a person, as a man off the court. I’ve just been thinking about what’s important and what I need to do to be successful on and off the court. So it’s been a big time for me to reflect on me as a person and my morals and my goals further on.”

Davis came to the striking conclusion that, at age 23 (he turns 24 on Friday), he didn’t know everything.

“I think I’ve really started to understand that no matter how old you are you can never stop learning,” he said. “You never stop learning how to be a better person. You watch people around you. You have to be able to learn from everyone. I think I’ve also learned the business of basketball even more. You have to go out and play hard and enjoy it, have fun and all that. But at the same time you have to approach it in a serious way, because it is a business. I just came to the conclusion that I’m not as old as I think I am.”
Besides maturing, Davis had shown some signs of playing very good basketball. Against the Clippers, he was a beast on the offensive glass and a menace flopping taking charges. It's too bad he had to go down; hopefully the recovery will be as quick as the Celtics seem to think.

UPDATE: It might not be such an easy recovery after all.

Via the Globe:
Glen "Big Baby" Davis left the arena on crutches and told reporters he has a sprained right ankle. He was wearing a protective boot and said he couldn't walk without aid. He could be out for an extended period. He didn't sound positive. X-rays were negative.

The Morning Walkthrough: Monta Ellis 'had his way with us tonight'

The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn't mean we have to. Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day.

Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston - "'[Ellis] played great for them," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "He basically saved the game for them at the end of the game with that play. One misstep and Tony [Allen] would have had a layup. [Ellis] made a great adjustment to get to the ball and maintain control.' Ellis connected on 15 of 26 attempts, and added four assists. Celtics guard Ray Allen admitted there was little the Green could do to slow him. 'We started out putting one-and-a-half guys on him to start the game, which turned into two guys guarding him and that didn’t work,' said Allen. 'By that time it was too late. He basically had his way with us tonight.' Said Ellis of his big night: '[Scoring is] really just coming to me. I’m trying to get everybody involved -- got myself going, and they keyed in on me, so I moved the ball and everybody got involved.'"

Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston - "Celtics coach Doc Rivers pointed to a season-high 25 turnovers as the key in allowing the Golden State Warriors to rally from an 18-point deficit for a 103-99 triumph at Oracle Arena. 'I told the guys [at halftime] that we had 58 points with 15 turnovers -- that's a miracle,' said Rivers. 'Typically, if you have 15 turnovers, you have maybe 35 points. The fact that we had 58 points with that many turnovers was amazing. But you can't have turnovers against them. They score too quick and too easy. Honestly, that was the difference in the game. 'We were up 18 in the first quarter -- that happens. Eighteen points doesn't mean much, they're an offensive team and we knew they'd get back in it. It was more the 25 turnovers that turned the game around.'"

Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald - "Instead of patiently pounding the ball into the paint against the undersized Warriors, the Celts were content to jack up 3-pointers. They went 5-for-19 from beyond the arc and got outscored in the lane, 44-36. The best sign for the Celts was Rondo, who was utterly undaunted by his two free throw failures against the Clippers. Rondo also tweaked a sore left hamstring in the first quarter. 'I thought he played terrific all night,' said Rivers. 'His hamstring is bothering him. We almost took him out at the end but he just wanted to keep playing, and he played great.'"

Tom Halzack, Celtics Central - "In a move never before seen in an NBA basketball game (by me), Doc Rivers stationed his two tallest players, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins, in front of Watson, the player throwing the ball in. Garnett and Perkins went crazy jumping and waving their hands. When Watson was unable to get the ball in, the Warriors called time out and substituted the taller Vladimir Radmanovic as the player to throw the ball in. Perkins and KG again waved wildly, causing a huge distraction as Radmanovic was forced to throw a football pass leading Ellis to a spot in the back court. The scheme almost worked as Ellis started to fumble the ball a bit as he got to it. But he recovered and the Celtics were forced to foul him. Monte made both foul shots essentially ending the game."

Paul Flanner, WEEI - "We have been down this road many, many times before with Tony Allen. Throughout his star-crossed career, Allen has shown sporadic spasms of brilliance, mixed with head-scratching periods of inertia. So, it comes with no small parts of restraint to say that Allen’s return to the Celtics lineup has been nothing short of solid. Yes, Allen still mixes the sublime with the bizarre, but on the whole the good has far outweighed the bad. His latest comeback is even more intriguing because when the season started one would have been hard-pressed to imagine a scenario in which Allen would have even been given the chance to contribute, let alone excel."

Have a link I might want to look at? Send it my way by email ( or Twitter.

Ellis leads Warriors over Celtics, 103-99

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Boston Celtics lost their second straight West Coast road game, falling 103-99 to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

Rajon Rondo and Monta Ellis went back-and-forth all night, attacking each other on almost every possession, Rondo netting 30 points and 15 assists and Ellis countering with 37 points. In the end, however, Boston was unable to overcome 25 turnovers, and a poor night of outside shooting.

Ray Allen scored 24 points, but he shot only 1-7 from 3's, while the team combined to shoot 5-19.

Boston jumped out to a 13-point lead after the first quarter, but sloppy ball-handling and a defensive surge from C.J. Watson, who finished with 7 steals (6 in 1st half), allowed the Warriors to work their way back into the game.

With Watson playing so well, heralded rookie Stephen Curry only played 10 minutes and went scoreless, leaving the showdown with Rondo for his backcourt mate, Ellis.

Ellis was supported offensively by Anthony Randolph (18 points, 9 rebounds) and Anthony Morrow (13 points, 6 rebounds, who controlled the pace and flow of the game after a slow first quarter.

A depleted Celtics bench, who continued to miss both Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels, was severely outplayed by an energetic Warrior bench and probably cost the team the win. The Warrior bench outscored the Celtics bench 35-15 for the game, including a stretch in the second quarter which brought the Warriors back into the game.

Recently activated Glen Davis played poorly, committing 4 turnovers in only 10 minutes, before leaving the game with a mild sprained ankle. Also, according to the great Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston, Rondo injured his hamstring early in the game, but convinced Doc and the doctors to remain in the game.

With Pierce, Daniels, and Glen Davis (again) out, the last player the Celtics can afford to lose is Rajon Rondo.

Undergoing site changes

Sometime during the next few days, Celtics Town will be undergoing site changes that will make our site a far better place for you to visit.  However, you will have to bear with us as our site, for a couple hours or so, will look completely unprofessional and unbecoming.  Once the couples hours are over and our new site is up and running, we will also be having a new RSS feed, which I believe (but am not positive) will be

Thanks for sticking with us, and we hope you're as excited for our new site as we are.

Celtics-Warriors game preview: Boston's size vs. Golden St.'s quickness

Over the past few games, Golden St. has been starting Anthony Randolph at center and Corey Maggette at power forward. Now, if you're playing a pickup game against a team with little structure and no viable big men, that's okay. But against an NBA team with big, talented, physical interior players? Then, it could be a recipe for disaster.

Granted, playing Randolph at center is probably better than playing Mikki Moore, out with an injured heel. (Note: Even sitting with an injury, I still expect Mikki to get into foul trouble.)  But against the Celtics, a team that loves to go inside early and often, taking advantage of their big, skilled frontcourt, Golden St.'s so-called big men could be in for some serious trouble.

If Don Nelson expects Maggette to be able to defend KG, or Randolph to defend Perk, he's got another thing coming to him. 

On the other end, though, the C's could have some serious issues matching up with the Warriors' quickness.  Maggette should be able to drive by KG just about whenever he chooses, and Randolph should be able to go around Perk more or less at will.

Really, whoever dictates the style of play should win this one.  If the Celtics slow the game down and pound the ball inside, it could become a bloodbath; if the Warriors get their athletes out in space and utilize their speed, it could be a game. 

So what wins, size or quickness?

I say size, but let's just be happy Baron Davis isn't on the Warriors... He has both.


Three things to look for in tonight's game:
  •  Rajon Rondo vs. Stephen Curry - Curry isn't the NBA's quickest player, and Rondo just might be.  If Rondo is aggressive going to the hoop, he should have his way with the athletically unimposing former Davidson star.
  • Rasheed Wallace's shot selection - In the first half of yesterday's game, 'Sheed was posting up and destroying Brian Skinner on the blocks.  In the second half, he was short-arming three after three.  When 'Sheed's down low, he's a force... he just doesn't do it all the time.
  • Glen Davis - Big Baby could have a huge impact on this game.  He is strong enough to destroy Golden St. down low, yet quick enough to stay in front of the Warriors quick "big men."  It's weird to say someone so overweight is quick, but Big Baby is one nimble chunker.

Other links:

Red Claws Get Jammed

The Maine crowd no doubt expected another blowout victory for the home team, a repeat of Saturday's blowout.

Instead the Maine Red Claws fell 115-98 to the 2-11 Bakersfield Jam Sunday evening, giving the visitors their second win of the season. The loss dropped the Claws to 8-3 and put them two games behind the league-leading 10-1 Iowa Energy, whom they face Thursday. Bakersfield stepped it up and played well, clearly eager for a win. The Claws were fizzling on both ends of the court, with the defense falling flat and the offense searching desperately for a rhythm.

Celtics fans will be heartened to know that Lester Hudson’s performance was one of the highlights of the evening. In just 24 minutes he had 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. A day after playing decently despite being a little under the weather, Alexis Ajinca had a disappointing game with just 6 points and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes. For Bakersfield, 6'1" G Jeremy Wise led the team with 24 points.

Maine's usually-balanced offense was apathetic. Four players had double digits, but two of those were closer to ten than twenty, and two starters – Will Blalock and Darnell Lazare – had just two points. Trey Gilder, meanwhile, had a great night with 28 points and 7 rebounds. If another player had played at the same level as Gilder and Hudson, this game might have been a contest.

The Claws have started out slowly in other games and finished with wins, so their lackadaisical first quarter was hardly a reason to hit the panic button. Indeed, Bakersfield was ahead for more than half the first quarter on Saturday as well. That day, though, it was a two-point lead; Sunday it was five. While Maine was behind 13-10 on Saturday with 4:30 left in the first quarter, they finished the quarter up 27-18 and never looked back. On both days the first quarter set the tone for the rest of the game.

Sunday night, because the team was never clicking on either end, the Claws weren't able to establish any runs. This would have been fine if they’d started strong, but trading baskets doesn't work when you’re behind. Every time the Claws looked like they might get close, knocking the Jam lead down to single digits, Bakersfield answered. One of the top defenses in the D-League looked like it was playing under the Maine State Pier rather than in the Portland Expo.

This is just the sort of disappointing performance that can inspire serious re-evaluation, so it’s no wonder that the Portland Press Herald quotes Head Coach Austin Ainge as mentioning changes. The process began Monday as the Red Claws waived F Mike Williams, who's seen little playing time. Whether it will continue with signing a new player remains to be seen.

NOTES: Austin Ainge earned his first Technical Foul of the season arguing with referee Steve Anderson...Maine had their fifth straight sellout, with 3,045 in attendance...the next game is 1PM Thursday against the Iowa Energy at home.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Trey Gilder; Honorable Mention to Lester Hudson.

The Return of Glen "Big Baby" Davis

With Glen "Big Baby" Davis having returned to the Boston Celtics lineup, it's a good time to ask the question: Where does Big Baby fit in the rotation?

(Note: I know he wants to be called Glen Davis now, because he's maturing and growing blah blah blah...but anytime you break a thumb punching a buddy, especially a season after weeping uncontrollably on the bench after a tongue lashing from KG, you're still a Big Baby. I'm Sorry, Glen, it's not my fault the nickname fits. He's immature, maybe, but lovable.)

The Boston Celtics frontcourt has been collectively playing amazing ball during the recent win streak, and Rasheed Wallace and Shelden Williams have more than filled in during Davis' absence.

But it's hard to forget Big Baby's heroic performance last season after Garnett was lost for the season, culminating in this game winning shot in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Orlando Magic:

Before The Big Three was born in Boston, Doc Rivers was well-known as a coach who had trouble maintaining a consistent rotation; one night, Rajon Rondo would play 25 minutes, the next, only 10 minutes. Lineups were mixed, minutes were seemingly random, and the Celtics struggled finding the flow of the game.

However,the arrival of Garnett and Ray Allen was a blessing for Rivers: he had a veteran squad and lineup that was very hard to tinker with.

While I am impressed with Rivers' growth and improvement as a coach, I'm still slightly worried he'll be compelled to tinker with the frontcourt lineups, especially when Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels return.

Despite Shelden Williams' consistent play, I think Big Baby is a better fit as the fourth big man on this particular Celtics team. Though Big Baby is not a terrific rebounder, he is a superior offensive rebounder and finisher than Williams, and a much better mid-range shooter.

Also, though neither Big Baby or Shelden Williams are great defenders, Big Baby is a better fit alongside Perkins or Wallace because he has the mobility to guard most power forwards, and has really improved at flopping... er, I mean taking charges.

If I were Doc Rivers, my 9-man rotation would include the usual starting five (Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, Perkins) with Eddie House, Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels (when healthy) and Glen Davis playing significant roles off the bench. Shelden Williams, Tony Allen, and Brian Scalabrine would contribute spot minutes and provide security, depending on the health of our other players, and the particular game matchups.

When Big Baby gets his body into game shape, I am confident he will be another big factor off our devastating bench. I just hope Doc Rivers figures out the new rotation quickly.

Throwing some dimes: Rajon Rondo impressing teammates with leadership

Once in a while, someone else's article catches my eye. Sometimes, it's because the article is so spot-on I wish I'd written it myself. Other times, it's because the article enlightens me with something I never knew. Still other times, it's because I disagree with whatever's written. No matter what the reason, I dish it off to another writer to make his/her point. You know, throwing some dimes.

  • Steve Bulpett has a great article about Rajon Rondo developing from a starter into a leader and possibly the best point guard in the Eastern Conference.  Here are some quotes from the story:
Doc Rivers: "He’s a leader.  He’s obtained that this year, and that’s all off-the-court stuff. His on-the-court (performance) alone has made him an All-Star in my opinion, but we’ll see."

Ray Allen: "What’s different is that what he’s doing now is in the confines of the offense. It’s all part of what we’re doing as a team. He’s making the plays that are there. He’s getting guys the ball, but he’s also making his move when the other team gives him that opportunity. He’s taking it."

Eddie House: "He has a lot more confidence in himself. You know, when he steps on the court he feels like that guy. When you have that confidence in yourself and you go out and prove it night in and night out, people have to take notice. That’s what he’s doing. He’s proving it.

That comes with his confidence. He’s been given the reins. For a time you’re not sure, but now it’s like, OK, go. He has that green light. He’s playing freely. He’s getting guys the ball and he’s making the plays. He does what he wants. He’s just playing basketball at an extremely high level."
You should read the rest of the story. It's a nice look at Rondo's progression, mostly through the eyes of his teammates.

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TrueHoop's Kevin Arnovitz eases some of last night's pain

If you're like me, Baron Davis' jumper last night made your heart sink.  It made your lungs inhale sharply with pain. It made you contemplate taking Baron Davis' beard right off his face and strangling him with it.

So I'm probably not the one to put that loss into perspective for you. But here's Kevin Arnovitz, a contributor to TrueHoop, to show you that things are going to be okay, even if Baron Davis ruined last night for you:
So far as the Celtics go, chalk up last night's loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles as an outlier. Make a mental note that the vicious strong-side pressure defense that works brilliantly on 95 percent of possessions might need to be tabled in tight late-game situations -- something the Celtics don't encounter all that often. Offensively, understand your strengths and exploit them. Your offense works most efficiently with rotating pick-and-rolls that confound defenses and run big men ragged. Yes, there will be mismatches at times that invite exploitation, but understand that whatever you gain by working against inferior post defenders in isolation might be offset by upsetting your offensive rhythm. The truth, though, is that the no team in the NBA can touch the Celtics' offensive-defensive differential. The Celtics are simply killing opponents on a nightly basis. To make wholesale adjustments after fluke losses would be the equivalent of sending Rajon Rondo to the line for technical free throws because he's drained his last three from the stripe. Play the odds, C's, they're in your favor.
And if that doesn't make you feel better about the loss, I don't know what will.

Did Kevin Garnett's injury cool him off?

What happens when "strategic rest" goes wrong?

A supremely hot-shooting power forward goes ice cold.

Remember how hot Kevin Garnett was shooting before his mysterious thigh bruise forced him to sit out a game? It seemed like he would never miss, like he couldn't miss, like the basket was five feet wide and he was throwing Skittles through it.

For the 11 games prior to his injury, KG took 113 shots and hit 78 of them. He was a smoking hot 69% from the floor and, during that stretch, he only had one game (!) during which he shot less than 50%.

Here's a table of his makes and misses in those games:

San Antonio
Oklahoma City

He was unconscious. He couldn't miss. And then came the "strategic rest", or injury, or whatever it was, and all of a sudden Garnett can't hit the broad side of a barn.

Granted, it's only been two games, but Garnett had only shot under 50% once in his previous eleven games and has now done so twice in a row since returning from his ailments.

Maybe Garnett's hurting and it's affecting his shot. Maybe he feels fine, but sitting a game was enough to get him off his roll. Hell, maybe I'm just completely over-reacting to two poor shooting games.

Whatever the reason for it, he's no longer shooting at an ubelievable clip.

Maybe a trip to Golden St. and a visit with their meek frontcourt can heal him.

Stephen Curry faces another test with Rajon Rondo tonight

Just look at Stephen Curry's opponents for this three-game stretch:

Wednesday night, Chris Paul. Saturday, Steve Nash. Monday, Rajon Rondo.

It may not yet be time to insert Rondo into a group with those other two guys, but nonetheless that is a murderer's row of point guards.

At this point, all Curry wants for New Year's is a game against Chris Duhon and the New York Knicks. And, after battling three of the top point guards in the NBA, Curry deserves a night off against the likes of Duhon. (He'll have to settle, though, for tomorrow night's game against Derek Fisher. Fisher will seem like an old washed-up bum after playing Paul, Nash and Rondo in successive games. What's that, you say? Fisher IS an old, washed-up bum? Sorry, I'd forgotten.)

If facing Rondo provides a far different challenge than playing against Nash, it still provides a tough matchup for Curry. Curry, one of the less athletic PG's in the NBA, will have his hands full defending the uber-quick Rondo. Defending Rondo is no easy task, even for the best defensive point guards. But when you get a middling defensive guard in his rookie season, that task looks even more daunting.

"He's doing a lot better than he was at the beginning of the season," Don Nelson told the Contra Costa Times about Curry's defense. "I know Coach (Keith) Smart has been working with him a lot, talking about his stance and not backing up so much in transition."

Curry better hope that stance is looking good tonight, or he may look like he's stuck in quicksand as Rondo blows by him play after play.

From Rondo's side, Curry brings a (probably welcome) change of opponent. After Baron Davis used his brute strength and above-average athleticism to score 24 points and distribute 13 assists, Curry will rely more on his basketball savvy and perimeter shooting. Unlike Davis, Curry won't put his shoulder into Rondo and try to bully his way to the hoop. He'll be looking to pull-up for jumpers rather than to physically pound Rondo towards the basket. Rondo will likely be happy to see he's matched up against a slower, less physical player than Baron Davis was last night.

So what's Curry's best hope for guarding Rondo tonight, despite his speed disadvantage?

He's just got to hope Coach Keith Smart is better at teaching defense than Mark Price is at teaching free throws.

The Morning Walkthrough: 'A whole potpourri of mistakes'

The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn't mean we have to. Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day.

Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald - "The 13-17 Clippers outscored the visitors 6-0 in the last two minutes, but C’s coach Doc Rivers reached back further than the free throw line for the reasons behind the defeat. 'The free throws didn’t bother me,' Rivers said after his team’s nine-game road winning streak was snapped. 'Obviously I’d have loved (Rondo) to make them, but that’s not why we lost this game. The free throws had nothing to do with that game. It was our composure and our execution and our focus. The (Eddie House) technical, leaving a guy behind the 3(-point line). I mean, we have a whole potpourri of mistakes that we made down the stretch, mental mistakes. Nothing that anyone did except for us. Like we talk about every night, the only opponent we have is ourselves, and tonight we beat ourselves. Even if we had won, we’d have felt bad about the game, honestly.'"

Gary Washburn, Boston Globe - "Ainge said he is pleased with the team’s 23-6 start, especially since it has yet to play with a fully healthy roster. 'I like our team,' he said. 'I like the attitude of our team and the work ethic of our team. I like the chemistry of our team and so I’m very pleased where we are. I think there’s a level our team hasn’t reached yet that we’re capable of reaching and I’ve seen signs of that along the way that are very encouraging and we haven’t had our team full strength. I still anticipate that we will be at full strength very shortly, meaning where everybody is playing their best, not just having people on the court - it’s having people back on the court playing their best basketball. I think that that is a real possibility for us. I see that possibility in the near future and I am hopeful for it.'"

Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald - A lot of teams missed the boat on Rajon Rondo in the 2006 draft, but the Clippers weren’t one of them. Unfortunately, they had traded their choice. The Suns took Rondo and dealt him to the Celtics that night. 'On draft day, we tried like heck to get a first-round pick to get up and get him,' said coach Mike Dunleavy, now also the general manager for Los Angeles. “We thought actually that Phoenix would take him because of the fit that he would make for their team. So we felt like we had to get up in front of 21. We tried like heck after 16 and down to try to get a pick to take him. Our guy really had him pegged right as far as how good he was. Obviously you knew he wasn’t a great outside shooter, but everything else he does is pretty terrific.'"

Lisa Dillman, LA Times - "'Coach, run this play for me. I'm gonna shoot and we're gonna win,' Davis said he told Coach Mike Dunleavy. And what a wildly improbable story and finish. The Clippers scored five points in the final 8.5 seconds to defeat the Celtics, 92-90, the winning shot being a fadeaway jumper by Davis at the buzzer. It stopped Boston's nine-game road winning streak, marking only the second Celtics loss on the road this season. This had echoes of the Clippers' upset of the Celtics last season at Staples Center, a two-point victory in February. 'You've got to prepare your mind for it when you're getting ready to take a shot,' Davis said. 'I didn't know what Coach was gonna draw. I made it known that I wanted to get the ball and if I got it with a second left, if I can get to my fadeway over [Rajon] Rondo, at least we'd be able to get a good look.'"

Associated Press - "Rondo scored 20 points in another impressive offensive game for the Celtics, but his free throw woes -- he's hovering near 53 percent for the season -- cost the Celtics dearly. After drawing a foul from Davis, his two misses were actually three, including another shot that was waved off in between the two that counted. 'I made it tough,' Rondo said. 'We just didn't execute down the stretch. I felt confidence shooting them. I wasn't antsy or nervous. I took my time and I kept my follow-through up. But the first one was just long, and the second one was long.' Davis then had a Jimmy Chitwood moment, although his "Hoosiers"-style declaration didn't surprise anybody in the Clippers' huddle. 'Baron said, 'Coach, draw it up and I will make this,'' coach Mike Dunleavy said. 'He told us to give him the ball, so we draw up a play and it paid off.'"

A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE - "But the Celtics made enough mistakes against the Clippers to where they should not have even had a chance to steal a victory, which is exactly what they would have done if Rondo would have made one or both of those free throws. 'We beat ourselves,' said Celtics forward Glen Davis. 'We gave the Clippers opportunities to make plays. We can look back at the game and pinpoint a lot of things we could have done. We look back at the game and look at the mistakes we did, it wasn't Celtics basketball. When we play Celtics basketball, it's hard to beat us. We didn't, and the Clippers closed the game.' Unlike some players who shy away from the media when they have a night like this, Rondo was the first Celtic to speak following the loss. 'We just didn't execute down the stretch,' he said."

Jessica Camerato, WEEI - "The reality is, these missed shots don't say too much about whether or not Rondo is a clutch player because he is not a great free throw shooter to begin with. Rondo had only made 37 free throws heading into the game and was shooting 53.6% on the season. That's just three more free throws made than Rasheed Wallace, who had taken 27 fewer attempts than Rondo. Even so, his inability to make free throws represents a vulnerability in his game that opponents will continue to attack until Rondo makes them pay for doing so. If Rondo can show the same ability to address his weakness from the stripe that he did with his jumper, then he will be able to give other teams pause before fouling him in pivotal moments. For now, however, as the rest of his game blossoms, Rondo's poor shooting from the foul line represents a potentially significant development that will be monitored by the Celtics and other teams."

Have a link I might want to look at? Send it my way by email ( or Twitter.

Running Diary: Celtics done in by bearded man

Baron Davis is one of the most frustrating NBA players in the game today.  He has all the talent in the world -- strength, athleticism, great court vision, soft touch -- but for whatever reason hasn't been able to be a consistent performer over his career.

On any night, though, he can put all those skills on display, and when he does he can be very special.  Unfortunately for the Boston Celtics, he decided to put those skills together against Boston, doing it all for the Clippers in their 92-90 win.

With one second left in the game, after two Rajon Rondo misses from the free throw line left the game tied at 90, Davis came up to the top of the key and drilled a jumper with Rondo draped all over him.

Poor Rondo; he went from being the Celtics best player for 47 minutes and 59 seconds to the goat by the end of the game.  First the missed free throws, then Davis' jumper in his mug.  (Even though you couldn't play much better defense than Rondo played, short of completely denying him the pass.)

For my thoughts while the game was going on, read on. It's my running diary...

First Quarter

  • It took Tony Allen a little less than two minutes to get his first turnover.  I don't want to be too harsh on Tony, he's played well lately, but the only reason he got that turnover was that he decided to look off Rondo, who was looking for an outlet pass.  Tony, just a bit of advice: Don't. Look. Off. Rondo.
  • Baron Davis is far too strong for Rondo.  Three minutes into the game, and Davis has been super aggressive going to the hoop.  When he plays like this, it's hard to realize why he's not one of the NBA's elite point guards... until you remember he has hardly ever been in shape, continually decides to settle for bad jumpers, and gets injured more often than Evil Knievel.
  • Eric Gordon just blew by Ray Allen for an easy two-handed flush.  I hate to say it when he's playing the Celtics, but I really like the way he plays.
  • Celtics look a step slow to begin the game.  It could be a letdown from winning such an emotional Orlando game, it could be having to travel from Orlando to L.A., or it could be that they saw they were playing a team starting DeAndre Jordan.  Whatever it is, they don't have the same sense of urgency they had against Orlando.
  • Early on, Rondo's the only one with any energy.  Thankfully for the Celtics, he's dominating the game, with 6 points and 2 assists in the first seven minutes.  Celtics up 13-12.
  • Since I got on TA for his dumb play earlier, I've got to give him credit now: He just stole an entry pass, then ran his lane down the left wing.  What happened?  Rondo hit him with a bounce pass and Allen ended up on the free throw line shooting two free throws.  Moral of the story?  Let Rondo make the decisions.  (As I'm writing this, Allen just broke up an alley-oop with a great defensive play.  He's done some really good things these last few weeks.)
  • TA is taking over the running diary.  This time, a nice cut from the wing to the bucket, where Rondo hit him for an easy lay-in.  One of the big changes Allen has made to help his game is working off the ball.  When he is just a finisher, he can be a weapon.  When he tries to initiate plays and over-dribbles, that's when he makes bad mistakes.  (By the way, I can't believe what I just wrote.  Tony Allen "can be a weapon." Before the season, I would have bet my life I would never say that.)
  • Brian Skinner's little goatee thing is disgusting.  I don't want to be too graphic, but he looks like he has Brian Scalabrine's pubic hairs pasted to his chin.

Second Quarter
  • A minute into the second quarter, Ray Allen gets subbed in for Rondo and the Celtics now have a lineup of Ray, Scal, Eddie House, Big Baby, and Rasheed.  Not exactly their best unit.
  • Remember when I said it wasn't their best unit? I wasn't lying.  But it doesn't really matter, because 'Sheed is getting defended by Brian Skinner and Brian Skinner's pubic goatee... And he is torching them both.  On one possession, he put the ball right over Skinner's head, as if contemplating about what move to make, then just decided, "Hey, I can just shoot it right over him.  I don't even have to make any moves.  It's that easy." And so he shot it.  And it went in. 
  • Even without Rondo on the floor, Eddie House is playing almost entirely off the ball;  Ray and Tony Allen are doing most of the ball-handling.
  • DeAndre Jordan is an athletic freak.  He had a huge alley-oop earlier, and a nice block on a Rondo drive in this quarter.  He's a physical specimen but, still, he's not very good.  Why not?  He's less skilled offensively than my grandmother.
  • KG just went up to catch an alley-oop, completely botched the dunk, then came down limping.  I get the feeling his injury is worse than the Celtics are letting on and, if it is, he should be sitting out some more games.  Plus, have you seen that knee brace of his?  He's out there looking like a young Forrest Gump.
  • The starters came back into the game with the score 38-34, Celtics.  Now, it's 42-38 Clippers.  Bring back Scal!
  • You can say what you want about Tommy Heinsohn being a complete and total homer; it's all true.  But I miss him during road games.  Especially when the Celtics get called for a blatantly obvious foul and I just want to hear Tommy's inevitable, "What a bogus call!" Nobody complains about good calls quite like Tommy does.  Actually, I'm forgetting about somebody who does...  Did you see Kobe Bryant the other day?
  • I can't believe some of the entry passes L.A. has thrown into their big men.  They've already thrown away three our four.  I've seen second-grade teams who can throw better passes into the post.
  • Baron Davis just settled for "the Baron Davis" to end the second quarter.  What exactly is "The Baron Davis"?  A stepback, fadeaway three-pointer, of course.  Surprisingly, it's only his first "Baron Davis" of the night.  (Side note: "The Baron Davis" also has an alternate name... "The Vince Carter".
  • The half ends with the Celtics ahead, 48-46.  Rondo leads the Celtics with 10 points and 4 assists.  Garnett a paltry 2-7 from the field.  The Clippers shot 50%, but 10 turnovers hurt their cause.
Third Quarter
  • The Celtics have picked it up to begin the second half.  Rondo's getting out in transition, Tony Allen's making nice plays, and Kevin Garnett is affecting things on both ends of the floor.  A quick 12-4 run to start the half has put the Celtics up 60-50.  
  • If Tony Allen keeps playing like he is, the C's bench will be dangerous when Marquis Daniels returns.  Both Allen and Daniels are versatile defenders who can really apply pressure on the other team.  
  • Mike Gorman on Al Thornton: "Thornton's been out there for 25 minutes, and we haven't called his name much."  Couldn't have said it better myself, Mike.  Still, despite having done literally nothing productive tonight, he leads the Clippers in minutes.  Huh?
  • What's more attractive... Chris Kaman or Brian Skinner's goatee? I vote Kaman, by a hair.
  • Baron Davis comes off a screen and launches his second "Baron Davis" of the night.  In related news, it missed.
  • The C's are really playing great defense in this third quarter.  Every shot is contested, and Garnett and Perk are really doing a great job of owning the paint and not allowing easy shots.  (Note: As I was writing this,  Eric Gordon sliced to the hoop for a wide open lay-up.  The lesson, as always: Don't jinx your team.)
  • Mike Gorman: "I haven't figured out yet what the Clippers are trying to do."  A perfect quote to describe the Mike Dunleavy effect.
  • I'll say this about DeAndre Jordan: He's good at catching alley-oops.  To me, it's his one discernible skill.
  • I really like Rasual Butler.  He's not great by any stretch of the imagination, but he seems to be a pro's pro.  He sprints both ways in transition, gives it all he's got on defense, and can really shoot the basketball.  He's one of the few Clippers who actually seems to give a damn.
  • A missed Rasheed dunk turns into a Chris Kaman and-one at the other end... Kaman seems to be really happy, after being named more attractive than Scal's pubes Brian Skinner's goatee.
  • 73-69 Celtics to end the third.  A good start to the quarter was ruined by a lackadaisical last few minutes.
Fourth Quarter
  • Big Baby has played a nice game tonight.  He's gotten a few offensive rebounds, taken a few charges, and scored a few buckets.  Plus, unlike Shelden Williams, he doesn't have a wife with more skills.
  • When I watch the Clips play, I wonder why Craig Smith doesn't get more playing time.  He can score, he's active on the glass, and he's not Brian Skinner.  What more could the Clips want?  (Answer: Maybe a power forward taller than 6'7"?)
  • Another note about Smith: Watching him go against Big Baby is like watching two 6'7" bowling balls play basketball.
  • I was just about to ask why Eddie House was still in the game with a little over five minutes to go, then Eddie hit an and-one jumper from the corner.  I guess that's why.  Still, no matter how hot Eddie's been this fourth quarter, Rondo should not be on the bench to finish the game.  He just shouldn't be.
  • With four minutes to go, Doc finally puts Rondo back into the game.  Doc, he's been your best player all night long.  He should have been in a long time ago.
  • I don't have any stats to back this up, but Perk seems like he's been far more active on the offensive glass lately.  He just had a huge board after a Ray Allen miss, keeping alive a possession that ended with a made Rondo jumper.  
  • Eric Gordon takes three very long steps, then gets called for a travel, and somehow Donny Marshall takes Gordon's side and said he didn't walk.  He's like Bizarro Tommy Heinsohn right now.
  • TA with a huge steal and coast-to-coast lay-in to give the C's a four-point lead.  I keep waiting for his inevitable self-destruction at the worst possible time, but he hasn't had one in awhile. (Crossing my fingers that I didn't just jinx the first reliable stretch of play Allen's had in a long, long time.)
  • .346 -- No, I didn't just randomly write down Albert Pujols' batting average.  .346 is actually DeAndre Jordan's free throw percentage on the season.  To look on the bright side, though, if he were three times as good from the line he'd be a little better than Ray Allen.
  • Doc Rivers is subbing offense-defense with 'Sheed and Perk.  I like that, but I don't like 'Sheed deciding to shoot a three on his first possession, despite being oh fer five on his first five trifectas.
  • Rondo drives by Baron Davis with time running down, drawing the foul and getting himself to the line.  Mark Price, please tell me you helped Rajon enough to let him make at least one of two.
  • They show this stat before Rondo takes his first free throw: 54% from the line.  He then clanks the first one.  So much for the reverse jinx.
  • And Rondo misses them both.  Damn you, Mark Price, damn you.
  • Baron Davis drills a fadeaway with no time left on the clock.  Wow, what a stomach-punch.
  • That last play ended up well for the Clips, but did anyone else notice these two things about it?... 1) Dunleavy had Rasual Butler, arguably the Clips best shooter, pass the ball in, and 2) Steve Novak, ice-cold after sitting for the first 47 minutes and 59 seconds, was inserted into the game.  If you want a shooter, doesn't it make more sense to have somebody else pass the ball in and have Butler  -- not ice-cold Novak --  on the court?
  • For the Celtics, this was an uneven effort.  They didn't execute well, either offensively or defensively, and clearly didn't show the same focus and determination they showed in beating the Magic the other night.  Really, they didn't deserve to win this game.