The 2007-2008 World Champion Boston Celtics finished up the preseason with a 6-2 record, looking solid so far. The Champs will face their Conference Final opponents as they raise the banner at the Garden. Lebron and the Cavaliers only managed a 3-5 preseason record (including a close loss to the C’s), but looked better as the games went on.
New players J.R. Giddens and Patrick O’Bryant are eager to figure out which roles they will be playing on the 08-09 team. Giddens will have to work through a hip injury, and O’Bryant would need to win a spot as the #3 center. The big three are returning healthy, Kendrick Perkins has recovered from his shoulder injury, and veteran Sam Cassell looks as if he will be ready to start the season. Aside from James Posey, nearly everyone involved in last season’s playoff run will be returning to this year’s team.
The Celtics tip off the season on Tuesday night at 8:00pm. Plenty of great Boston Celtics tickets are still available if you want to cheer on the C’s as they start the road to Green 18!
Right now the Boston Celtics may not have any answers on the road, but hey, if they continue to take care of business at home, so what! Last night they demonstrated their home court dominance with their 96-89 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, taking a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Semi-Final playoff match up.
Kevin Garnett led the way with a clutch double-double performance scoring 26 points and owning 16 rebounds in one of his best playoff efforts to date. Paul Pierce also had a big offensive night netting 29 points on 8-19 shooting from the field. Rajon Rondo contributed in a big way dishing out 13 assists and scoring 20 points in 42 minutes of action.
Through 12 playoff games, the Celtics are now a perfect 7-0 at the TD Banknorth Garden. Their road record is a different story, a pathetic 0-5 and as the series now shifts to Cleveland for Game 6, questions will again arise about Boston’s inability to win on the road during the post-season and what adjustments need to be made. It really shouldn’t be rocket science to figure out because during the regular season, these same Celtics had the best road record in the NBA.
So, what happened to that team? Why are they only showing up to play at home? And who told Brian Scalabrine to wear those blue pants out in public last night?
All three are very legitimate questions that Celtics fans may be asking themselves today, but in reality not even the team has any of the answers. If they did they would have swept the Hawks in four games, would be holding opponents to under the 99.6 points on the road which they are currently allowing during the playoffs, and Scal would have been in a suit like every other bench player not dressing for the game.
Seriously though, the Celtics just look like a different team on the road during these playoffs then we saw all year. Coach Doc Rivers has somehow found a way to play every combination of players that during the regular season never stepped foot on the hardwood together. He’s abandoned assistant coach Tom Thibodeau’s philosophy of defense first, and not slowed his team down from the run and gun style they’ve been playing compared to their normal half court set offense that helped them win 66 games during the year.
In Games 1 and 2 of the series, the Celtics did a great job of containing Lebron James, forcing him to take bad shots and turn the ball over. When the King made his way home, that defensive minded mentality went out the window and James had his way offensively, getting to the basket with ease against whomever he wanted. This success continued last night when he scored 35 points in the loss, leading all scorers in the game.
Despite the Celtics recent struggles on the road, the Cavs now find themselves in a win-or-go-home situation tomorrow night,
“Whether we get 35 or 20 (from James), it doesn’t matter at this point,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. “To lose the game … that’s what’s more disappointing than anything else. Whether he gets this or that, I’m not really concerned, because he’s going to contribute in other ways.”
The Cavs will look to Lebron for a big performance that would force a Game 7 in Boston on Sunday afternoon while the Celtics have other plans and intend to pick up their first playoff victory on the road to seal the deal.
Garnett put it well after the Game 5 win when he said, “This momentum, and what we did here tonight, we’ve got to figure a way to carry this on the road.”
After holding the Cleveland Cavaliers to only 72 points in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Final playoff series, the Boston Celtics defense came right back out to play shutting down Lebron and Co. again in their 89-73 Game 2 win at the TD Banknorth Garden yesterday evening. At home during the playoffs, Boston’s defense has now held opponents to an average of 75.5 points per game while they’ve averaged 95.7 per contest at the Garden.
The Celtics looked to be in trouble early, trailing by as many as 12 points midway through the first quarter. Cavalier’s center Zydrunas Ilgauskas led the early charge starting the game 6-6 from the floor, hitting mid-range jump shots with confidence on multiple occasions. After the1st quarter the Celtics trailed 24-17 and looked to be in for a long night.
That thought quickly evaporated into the rafters of the Garden as the Celtics bench came out in the 2nd quarter on a mission. They picked apart the Cavs defensively which sparked an offensive run in which they outscored Cleveland 13-3 during the first seven minutes of the quarter. The C’s bench would score 20 of the 27 points during the 2nd, putting the Celtics up at the half 44-36.
As the Celtics continued to ride the high wave of energy reigning down on them from their home court fans, the Cavaliers never were able to find the same rhythm from the first quarter. Lebron James’s offensive woes continued after going 2-18 in Game 1, he followed it up with a 6-24 shooting performance last night, and for the first time all season looked frustrated. The defensive tenacity of Paul Pierce and James Posey has been one of the main reasons for James’s struggles. He scored 21 points on the night, 9 coming from the free throw line.
“I’m a little shocked that he’s 8-for-42, but this is what we work on. We work on trying to contain him,” said Pierce, who also struggled in Game 1 going 2-for-14. “LeBron is what makes them go. And if we can somehow control him, we control their team. And with the help of the guys around me, we’ve been able to do that.”
While the Celtics continued to play great defense, their Big Three got back into the offensive swing of things after a poor showing in Game 1 where Kevin Garnett was forced to carry the load. In that game, Ray Allen went scoreless and Pierce only had 4 points but both were able to break out of it last night in the winning effort. Allen dropped 16 points and Pierce rebounded from his Game 1 performance scoring 19 on a 7-13 shooting display. Garnett chipped in with 13 points and 12 rebounds in his 32 minutes of action.
“It was good to see Ray get it going. I thought that lifted everybody up on our team,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who called the first several plays of the second half for Allen. “I made a concerted effort. I told the coaches at halftime, ‘We’re going to him over and over again. We’ve got to get him going.’”
The teams will now hit the road and travel to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4, with one squad hoping to end the series and the other wanting to extend it.
“Being down 0-2, that’s a tough hole to dig yourself out of. But if we want to win the series we’ve got to do it,” James said and noted that last year Cleveland went down 0-2 against Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals before winning four in a row to make it to the NBA Finals vs. San Antonio. “We’ve been in this situation before, and I’ve got to let them know that I’m not frustrated.”
His teammates must not be getting that message.
“He’s got to be frustrated,” Cavaliers guard Wally Szczerbiak said. “He’s such a good player. He puts so much on his shoulders.”
As the series shifts to Cleveland, the Celtics will hopefully pack their bags and bring along with them the same defensive intensity that they demonstrated in Games 1 and 2 in Boston. They already saw in Atlanta what can happen when the team relies too heavily on an offensive game, and lost three times in high scoring shoot-outs to the younger Hawks line-up. The key to having success on the road will be to continue to stress defense and shut down Lebron.
Easier said then done, but this Celtics line up looks more focused then ever on their quest for Green 17. Celtics Playoff tickets available for all potential games.
Going into last nights Eastern Conference Semi-Final playoff match up between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, all eyes were on team leaders Lebron James and Paul Pierce. Which superstar would have what it takes to guide their clubs to the victory? Who would step up and silence any doubters? Which player would rally their teammates for the best of seven series that looks to be a war?
As it turns out, neither ‘The King’ nor ‘The Truth’ had those answers in Game 1′s defensive battle that finished with a 76-72 Celtic victory in front of a sold out TD Banknorth Garden crowd.
Pierce was held to 4 points on 2-14 shooting from the field while Lebron struggled as well, netting 12 points on a dismal 2-18 performance from the floor, the 2nd worst display of his NBA career. James also had a season high 10 turnovers during his 39 minutes of action in the game. A big reason for his struggles was the defensive prowess of the Celtics 6th man, James Posey.
Posey, who was acquired during the off season to provide a defensive spark off the bench, did just that in last night’s playoff victory frustrating James whenever he touched the ball.
“You just try to take certain things away from him,” Posey said, “and make him work hard for everything.”
While Posey worked hard all night on defending Lebron, Kevin Garnett picked up the slack on the offensive end of the court dropping 28 points to lead all scorers. He nailed two clutch buckets over the last 90 seconds that would tie the game at 70-70 and then put the C’s ahead for good at 74-72 with 22 seconds left to play. His effort made up for the poor numbers Pierce and Ray Allen put up during the win. Allen was held scoreless for the first time in 852 games dating back to the 1997 season and only attempted 4 shots on the night, missing them all.
“This was two heavyweights, just body-punching,” said Garnett. “There was no finesse, no jabs, just an all-out, beat-down, defensive fight.”
Zydrunas Ilgauskas paced the Cavs contributing 22 points and 12 rebounds but as a team, the Cavs just could not overcome James’s offensive struggles. On the night, Cleveland shot .307 percent from the field (23-75). In their opening round series vs. the Washington Wizards, they were averaging a .431 shooting percentage (200-464) over the six games.
The Celtics know that these numbers will not continue and that they too will have to pick up their offensive game because Lebron is bound to bounce back.
”I missed a lot of shots I know I can make,” James said, staring blankly at the box score after scoring just two points in the second half and missing his final six shots. “I missed layups. Those layups I’ve made my whole life.”
The Celtics have put the win behind them and have already begun to prepare for Game 2 on Thursday night. Once again, they will have their eyes on Lebron and hope that this time Pierce and Allen can get into the scoring mix as well.
Tickets are still available for Game 2 at the TD Banknorth Garden!
After escaping from what could have been the biggest upset in NBA Playoff history, the Boston Celtics have refocused their attention to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference Semi Finals match up which begins tomorrow night at the TD Banknorth Garden at 8pm. Boston will welcome Lebron James and Co. to town for another great series that has the potential to feature a little bit of everything.
“They’re a group that’s defending Eastern Conference champs,” said Kevin Garnett after yesterday’s victory. “To do anything, you’ve got to get through them. It’s good that we have home-court advantage. I think it should be a good series.”
Going into the 2008 NBA Playoffs, the Celtics appeared to be the heavy favorite coming out of the East, but after the Atlanta Hawks forced a 7 game series, capturing 3 wins at home against Boston, many are beginning to wonder if Boston has what it takes to be NBA Champions. The young and athletic Hawks showed the rest of the league that the Celtics are beatable on the road. Now it’s up to the Celtics to prove to the league that the losses were just a fluke and that they had the best road record in the league on the regular season for a reason.
The Cavs are coming off of a 4-2 series win over the Washington Wizards that featured some very physical play. Suspensions were enforced and both teams were on their toes if anything else was to escalate on the floor during the action. This intensity will carry over to the Boston series and Lebron knows that there is a lot at stake.
“We all know the history of the Boston Celtics,” James said before practice over the weekend. “They’ve been unbelievable to the history of the NBA and this year it was good to see them back at the top or close to the top. I haven’t played their in the post season yet, but it’s going to be fun.”
The Celtics will be focusing the majority of their defensive attention toward James, trying to limit his touches so that he can’t score or dish out assists. Garnett and James Posey will be covering him the majority of the time but there will be some rotations when Paul Pierce will have his hands full, and Glen “Big Baby” Davis may be in there to eat a few minutes if the others are in foul trouble.
If Cleveland wants to win this series they will have to do something that they could not do during the regular season vs. Boston, and that is win a game on the road. The two teams split the 4 game regular season match ups 2-2, with both teams winning their games on their home courts. The Celtics have the home court advantage for this Eastern Conference Semi-Finals match up and it could play a big factor just as it did for their first round series.
The biggest difference between these two teams is the depth of their benches. The Celtics have comfortably gone 8 or 9 deep all season long, while the Cavs are not as strong after their 7th man. This has the potential to wear a team down, and force starters to stay out of foul trouble. The Celtics averaged 22 free throw attempts per game in the ATL series, and will continue to take the ball to the hoop against the Cavs, forcing defenders to create some type of contact on many drives.
Everyone is excited about this series and for good reason, but when it is said and done with the team that can win on the road will be the team that advances to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Tickets are now available for Games 1 and 2 at the TD Banknorth Garden!
It had been over two weeks since the Boston Celtics stepped foot in the TD Banknorth Garden, but it felt great to return home Wednesday night with a huge 92-87 win over the surging Cleveland Cavaliers. The C’s were in control most of the way which pleased another sell-out crowd of over 18,000 fans and brought them to their feet for the games final seconds.
Not only did Celtics supporters get to see a great game, they got to witness a piece of history as Lebron James became the youngest player in NBA history to score 10,000 points. He did it in 23 years and 59 days, which was more then a year faster then it took Kobe Bryant to reach the milestone when he was 24 years and 193 days old.
“It doesn’t make me happy to do it in a losing effort,” James said on NBA.com.”To be in the record books is a tribute to my teammates, myself and my family.”
The historic basket came on a thundering dunk with 4:54 remaining in the third quarter that cut the Celtics lead to 9 points (63-54) but 21 seconds later after a Rajon Rondo floater put the C’s back up by 11 and the double-digit lead held until the final minute of the contest.
“We had our hands full (with James), but I thought we did a pretty good job,” said Ray Allen on NBA.com, “I think we gutted it out.”
Allen led the Celtics in scoring with a 7-10 shooting performance, good for 22 points in 36+ minutes of action. Kevin Garnett also contributed with a double-double grabbing 11 boards, hitting for 18 points, and snatching a game high 4 steals. Paul Pierce and Leon Powe were also in double figures scoring 12 and 13 points respectively in the win.
At one point mid-way through the fourth quarter, the Celtics lead was as high as 16 points.
This is a big win for the club, especially coming off of a sub-par road-trip in which they went 2-3 over the week. Now, in the midst of a five game home stand, the Celtics hope to defend their home territory and stay a top of the East. The Cavaliers game was exciting, but the gem of this home stand is the match up on Wed. March 5th, vs. Detroit. The Pistons are currently 3 games behind the C’s for the top spot in the East, but the Celtics have not forgotten that it was the same Pistons who handed them their first home court loss of the season back on Dec. 19th.
In addition to the victory, the Celtics also announced yesterday that they had signed veteran PF/C P.J. Brown for the stretch run. Brown plays aggressive low post defense and once in game shape will be used off the bench when Garnett and Kendrick Perkins are in foul trouble. The leadership role he will assume immediately will be more influential than his physical presence on the floor. He’s not a selfish player and truly believes in the concept of team, and that’s exactly the type of guys the Celtics could use.
“First and foremost, [I'm] just try to be even more of a stabilizer on the bench, being there for the guys, being another pair of eyes on the bench, another voice in the locker room and keep them going in the right direction,” Brown said on Yahoo Sports. “I know I’m probably not going to be playing a lot here real soon, but just being there for the guys for whatever they need – encouraging, supporting and being the biggest cheerleader I can possibly be as of right now.”
Looking at the rest of the Celtics current home stand, they will battle it out with the Charlotte Bobcats March 29th, and then the Atlanta Hawks come to town for an April 1st contest. Mark your calendars if you haven’t already for the war with the Detroit Pistons on April 5th and to cap off the stand the C’s will welcome the Chicago Bulls to town for a game on April 7th.
The Boston Celtics were able to salvage their West Coast trip with two consecutive wins, finishing the trip at 2-3. Last night the Celtics dominated the Los Angeles Clippers 104-76. After struggling on offense and defense in their first three games on the trip the Celtics were firing on all cylinders last night. The Celtics once again used a balanced attack approach on offense, with Pierce and Posey scoring 17 points and Ray Allen adding 15. Kevin Garnett in his fifth game back from an abdominal strain added 11 points and 6 rebounds.
The Celtics will be back in Boston on Wednesday 2/27 to host the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs have won three straight since completing a trade that landed them Ben Wallace, Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak. This will be a great test for both teams. Celtics tickets are still available for this game.
The 2008 NBA trade deadline is over and has left some teams feeling confident about making a run into the playoffs, and left others wondering how long it will take the potential talent they traded for to actually turn into the superstars they were hoping they might become.
Sorry Timberwolves fans, but that’s just never going to happen for you.
Unlike years past, the league saw some big names relocate from struggling franchises onto playoff contending teams which is not only great for those organization’s playoff hopes, but its great for the NBA as well. Maybe for one month now we can forget about how overpaid Isaiah Thomas and the Knicks are and focus on the fact that there is actually a race going on in the West this year for the top spot in the playoffs, and the best team is the league, the Celtics, are coming out of the East. Who would have thought?
A huge winner in this years’ trade deadline has to be the L.A. Lakers. Landing Pau Gasol makes them instantly a Western Conference finalist contender. The Lakers have gone 8-1 since they acquired the big man, and that is without a healthy C Andrew Bynum. Pretty much all they had to do to get Gasol was give up Kwame Brown, yea remember him, first pick in the 2001 draft (HA!). That may go down as the worst first pick in the history of the NBA draft, but regardless, dishing him out to Memphis was brilliant because his contract expires at the end of the year anyway.
Another huge trade that was really unexpected, and at this point no one knows how it will pan out for either team, was the Shaquille O’Neal trade to the Phoenix Suns. Shaq is averaging career lows in points and rebounds, hasn’t been completely healthy for two years, and is going to be 36-years old in a few weeks. The Suns gave up former all-star power forward Shawn Marion and a talented point-guard in Marcus Banks to the Miami Heat in exchange for O’Neal. The former league MVP leaves the team with the worst record in the NBA to join the Suns who have the 2nd best record in the West. If neither team makes out in the deal, the person who did was Shaq.
Ben Wallace has found a new place to call home… again. The defensive specialist joins Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers after he was dealt from the Chicago Bulls for four players in total including Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden. The Cavs also traded for Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West and Joe Smith so the team chemistry may be off for a few weeks, but hopefully they begin to click before the playoffs. The moves they made are definitely an upgrade, but you may not see the results this season.
The biggest name to move right before the deadline may have been future hall of fame point guard Jason Kidd. Kidd was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in an eight player deal that left the New Jersey Nets hurting…even more then they had already been, but with $3 million dollars more in their pockets. The deal also left the Mavs excited for the second half of the season to get underway with Kidd running the show. Mavericks GM Mark Cuban finally got something he wanted, if he couldn’t buy the Cubs, well at least he could buy Jason Kidd… like Jay-Z really needs the money!
Some other moves that were made that wouldn’t be considered blockbuster deals, but are definitely worth mentioning include the San Antonio Spurs landing PF/C Kurt Thomas from the Seattle Supersonics. It’s not a flashy name, but a good move for the Spurs who needed some more size to compete with Shaq and Gasol who they will now be seeing more often playing in the West.
Mike Bibby was traded to the Atlanta Hawks which is an upgrade at point guard from Tyronne Lue who is now with the Sacramento Kings, and the move shows that Atlanta still has signs of life in them and wants to try and sneak in the eight and final spot for the Eastern Conference playoffs. They will need to play better basketball on the road where they are currently at a pathetic 6-19, but Bibby’s leadership could help turn that around.
So when all is said and done with, who were the biggest winner and loser after this year’s trading deadline?
Biggest Loser: The Minnesota Timberwolves – They traded away Gerald Green whom they had just traded for in the off-season when they gave away Kevin Garnett to the Celtics. It seems like this team has been rebuilding for ten years now, and its not going to stop anytime soon.
Biggest Winner: The Los Angeles Lakers – Pau Gasol is going to take a little pressure off of Kobe Bryant, help their team defense, and be the spark to drive the Lakers to the top spot in the Pacific Division. They didn’t give up hardly anything, and they became instant contenders with his addition.
The final two months of the NBA season are going to be filled with lots of action so make sure to contact Ace Ticket if you want to be there and a part of it all!