The Boston Celtics beat the Minnesota Timberwolves last night in Rajon Rondo’s return from suspension. Rondo came back last night to gain 17 points and 11 assists. Boston ended up winning 104-94. (more)
20 straight wins would have been a great Christmas present from the Boston Celtics to their fans but alas they were bound to lose one sooner or later. Most in Boston would have preffered any team beat them other than the Los Angeles Lakers however. The Lakers won this mini battle yesterday at the Staples Center with an impressive defensive showing in their 92-83 win over Boston. The win improved the Lakers’ record to 24-5 while the Celtics move to 27-3. The game between last year’s Championship rivals had the feel of a Finals game despite the fact that this season isn’t half over. Both teams still have a long road ahead before they meet in any seriously important games.
Kobe Bryant was the scoring leader for the Lakers in this one with 27 points and 9 rebounds. Boston meanwhile got a great shooting game out of Kevin Garnett who added 22 points and 9 rebounds. Paul Pierce scored 20 with 10 rebounds but failed to score in the crucial 4th quarter. The win for the Lakers was Phil Jackson’s 1,000th career win as a head coach.
The Celtics and Lakers will meet again on 2/5/09 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston. Celtics vs Lakers tickets are available for this game.
Riding the momentum from Friday night’s win in Minnesota, Garnett’s first trip back since his trade to the Celtics, Boston dropped 118 points on the Toronto Raptors today for their 13th win of the year. In Friday night’s win at the Timberwolves, Kevin Garnett led the Celtics with 17 points en route to a 95-78 win.
It was Ray Allen dominating the Raptors on Sunday, scoring 21 points for the team high. Scoring 15 points each were Kevin Garnett, Tony Allen, and Rajon Rondo. Perkins added 12 points and 8 rebounds and Paul Pierce had 11 points as the Celtics made sure they got their baskets today.
The win was the fifth straight for the Boston Celtics who have been cruising lately. They’ve overcome some tough opponents and early deficits to maintain their poise. As the defending champions they are no doubt wearing a target on their backs. The Celtics will get two days to rest before hosting the Golden State Warriors on 11/26. On Friday the Celtics will host the Philadelphia 76ers as part of a double header of hockey and basketball at the TD Banknorth Garden. Celtics tickets are available for both of these games now.
As the final seconds ticked down on the clock during Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals, cries of “SEVEN-TEEN, SEVEN-TEEN” rained down from the TD Banknorth Garden. The Boston Celtics had done it; they’d beaten the Los Angeles Lakers 131-92 to capture their first title in 22 years and in doing so secured themselves a spot in history with some of the all-time great Celtics teams that were able to hang championship banners from the old Boston Garden rafters.
There will be a new banner hanging in Boston very shortly, and it may be the most meaningful one of all.
In the most dramatic turnaround in NBA history, the same Celtics club that was only able to win 24 games last season persevered to rise to the elite status that many are never fortunate enough to experience. Boston fans had long awaited for their teams return to glory and after last nights 48 minutes of dominating play, there is no question that the Boston Celtics are once again the best team in the NBA.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen can now join the long list of Celtics greats to have been able to win a championship ring with the NBA’s most successful franchise.
“It means so much more because these are the guys, the Havliceks, the Bill Russells, the Cousys,” Pierce said. “These guys started what’s going on with those banners. They don’t hang up any other banners but championship ones… And now I’m a part of it.”
A big part of it. Pierce was named the Finals MVP, a well deserved honor awarded to the Celtics captain and leader. During the series he averaged 21.8 points, 6.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. Something that you won’t see in any box score is the job he did defending the regular season MVP, Kobe Bryant. On the series, Bryant was held to a 40.5% shooting percentage from the field which was well below his playoff average of 48% from the floor.
It’s almost unfair to call Tuesday nights match up “Game 6″ because it wasn’t a game at all. The Celtics coasted to a 39 point victory, which set a new NBA record for largest margin of victory in a clinching title game. The previous record had been a 33 point margin in Boston’s 129-96 win in Game 5 of the 1965 NBA finals vs., you guessed it, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Every member on the team was able to contribute in the victory which made it that much sweeter. Boston’s bench picked up 39 points shooting 57% (12-21) and every member that checked into the game scored at least 2 points in the win.
The starters weren’t so bad themselves. Garnett led the way with a huge night scoring 26 points and grabbing 14 boards in 36 minutes of play. Allen also dropped 26 points, nailing 7 of 9 three point shots he attempted. Rajon Rondo stepped up in the clutch scoring 21 points, hauling down 7 rebounds, dishing out 8 assists while collecting 6 steals for a very well rounded line.
Over the course of the game, Boston just continued to build on their lead. After the first quarter they led by 4 points, 24-20. They outscored LA 34-15 in the second quarter to increase their halftime lead to a commanding 58-35 margin. A 31-25 scoring advantage in the third quarter put the C’s ahead 89-60 entering the fourth quarter and Boston continued to bring the heat, exploding for 42 points in the final 12 minutes of play to round out the scoring at 131-92.
Some Celtics legends were even on hand to witness the one sided victory including Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Jo-Jo White, Tommy Heinsohn and Bill Walton. GM Danny Ainge sat courtside to marvel at the team he helped create with a few brilliant off-season trades and signings.
And somewhere, Red Auerbach watched as well, most likely with a victory cigar in his mouth, lighting up to the NBA’s greatest franchise ever. The Celtics victory also prevented Lakers head coach Phil Jackson from surpassing Auerbach in the wins column for total championships as a head coach. The two are still knotted at nine a piece.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers was nothing but smiles late in the game and Pierce made sure to let him know just how much he cares by dumping a cooler of red Gatorade over his head with very little time remaining on the clock, to symbolize that the game was over and they had done it, together. Early on in the season Rivers had called a team meeting and used an African word, ubuntu, which translates to “I am, because we are” in English, as the Celtics’ unifying team motto.
Last night was UBUNTU at its finest.
There will be no more question marks surrounding the careers of Pierce, Garnett and Allen. They three proved they have what it takes to win it all, and now they have rings to prove it. During the post-game celebration, Garnett hugged Russell in the center of the court, an exchange that will become just another part of the organizations rich history.
“I got my own. I got my own,” Garnett said. “I hope we made you proud.”
“You sure did,” Russell said.
Congratulations Boston Celtics, you are the champions of the NBA, and your city could not be more proud of you. With last nights victory, Boston’s 22 year quest for Green 17 is now complete and so begins a new journey… the road to repeat… Green 18!
The Eastern Conference Finals are underway and after another big performance by Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the Boston Celtics captured a Game 1 win by the score of 88-79 to take a 1-0 series lead over the Detroit Pistons. The victory improves the C’s playoff home record to a perfect 9-0 and they continue to excel defensively holding opponents to a 79.2 points per game average at the TD Banknorth Garden.
“The defensive pressure was fantastic,” gushed Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “Offensively, we made the extra pass. The ball kept moving, finding the open guy, and that’s how we have to play.”
The Celtics team that showed up to play last night reminded everyone watching of the ball club that won 66 games during the regular season, breezed to the best record in the NBA and was a supposed lock to represent the East in the NBA Finals. It’s been three weeks since anyone had seen any sign of that team, but they definitely came out to play in the yesterdays dominating victory.
After a 41 point performance in Sunday’s Game 7 against Cleveland, Pierce picked up where he left off pouring in 22 points on 9-18 shooting, grabbing 6 boards and dishing out 6 assists for an impressive all around effort. No one on the Pistons lineup matches up well against him and ‘the truth’ was able to pick apart each defender by varying his shot selection with baseline fade away jumpers, free throw extended set shots and open looks on the wing. When defenders started to cheat closer trying to get the extra step, he’d slash to the basket which would result in either a bucket, a foul or defensive help opening up a shot for a teammate.
“You got Detroit coming in, well-rested,” Pierce said. “This was the perfect game for them to come in and try to steal one, and we were aware of that. They probably figured we were tired while they’ve been practicing. And we just came out with extra focus and extra energy at the start of the game.”
Speaking of extra energy, Garnett came out of the gates looking like he had been hooked up all day to a Red Bull I.V. drip. The defensive player of the year hit his first three shots from the floor, pounded his chest after every basket and screaming to the Boston fans fueling their energy for the rest of the game. KG finished the game with 26 points and 9 rebounds in 38 minutes of action.
“We just didn’t seem to be in a good flow, it might have had something to do with (the layoff). We were just a step slow,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. “We didn’t get into the flow.”
Veteran guard Ray Allen has gotten used to the routine of playing every other day and thinks that it is working towards the Celtics advantage. “You have to figure, doing this every other day, you just get used to the same routine of coming out, being out this late, playing basketball,” Allen said. “I think when you get that break in between, you have to build yourself back up into it.”
Unlike some games in the first two playoffs series, the Celtics really had control of this one all throughout. They jumped out to an early 8-0 lead and then played the type of basketball that everyone expected to see in the playoffs, a team oriented style of play. Players were making the extra pass to find an open teammate and not forcing shots. The end result, 27 assists and a .522 shooting percentage from the floor.
If the Celtics can put up those types of numbers every game, next week the Pistons will be golfing while the C’s will be the team getting the week long layoff before the NBA finals begin on June 5th.
There’s only one thing that needs to take place for that to happen that has yet to… Boston needs to win on the road. They currently hold a 0-6 mark when playing away from the Garden but hope to turn it around this weekend when they head to Detroit for games 3 and 4 of the series.
Before they ship out of Boston, there is still work to be done in Game 2. The Celtics look to stay perfect at home while the Pistons will do everything in their power to stop the home win streak right where it is.
The players will be fired up, the Garden will be fired up and you should be fired up as the Celtics continue their quest for Green 17.
Celtics Tickets are still available for Game 2!
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!