After rolling off a seven game winning streak, the Boston Celtics hit a wall last night, and that wall was the Washington Wizards. The Wizards controlled most of the action in their 109-95 victory over the Celtics, and became the only team in the NBA to beat Boston for the third time this season. After a dominating opening night performance in which the C’s downed the Wizards 103-83 back in early November, the Wizards have had a spell cast over their Eastern Conference foes that can not leave anyone in beantown feeling good about a possible playoff match up.
The Wizards came out runnin’ and gunnin’ early scoring 30 points in the first quarter. Six members of their lineup would score in double digits led by Antawn Jamison’s 27 point performance. One of his buckets was a high light reel dunk directly over Kevin Garnett on a baseline drive that brought the Washington crowd to their feet. Not too shabby for a 10-year NBA veteran.
“It’s just letting the young fellows know I still got it,” said Jamison with a laugh. “I joke with them all the time. For me, it was an aggressive move going to the basket, and I was able to find it.”
With the top seed and home court wrapped up throughout the playoffs, a fan might see the lopsided score and think the Celtics were resting starters and just didn’t put in the effort to win. Well, that wasn’t the case in this one, with the big three all playing at least 31 minutes a piece and still in the game late into the 4th quarter. Last night was just a prime example that the hungrier team will feast on the weaker prey and it looked like the Wizards hadn’t eaten in days.
“It says a lot to beat them three games to one throughout the regular season,” Jamison said. “I think if the match up was to occur as far as meeting them in the second round or whatever, it gives us the confidence to know that we can match up with them. We’re taking their best shot.”
Paul Pierce led the Celtics scoring 28 points on a 10-15 shooting performance from the floor and was 6-9 from behind the arc. Garnett played typical KG basketball in the post dropping 22 and grabbing 14 boards in 31 minutes. Ray Allen was the only other Celtics player in double figures dropping only 13 points on a poor 4-13 shooting display from the field. Coach Doc Rivers was disappointed with the loss but understands that the games result is not a setback by anyone’s standards.
“We didn’t play with much intensity, but, honestly, I understand that,” Rivers said. “This is the game I wanted to use minutes with the starters, and I probably will do it one more time. After that, we are just getting ready for the playoffs.”
The regular season wraps up mid next week and both the Celtics and Wizards are gearing up for the post season run. The Wizards are looking at their remaining games a little differently then most teams heading into the playoffs because for the majority of the season key members on the roster were injured. Gilbert Arenas missed 66 games due to knee surgery and last night played in only his third game back. He scored 13 points.
“A lot of teams are resting their starters because they’re in the playoffs,” Jamison said. “But for us, I think we had too much rest throughout the season. It’s time to get the rotations down, get the chemistry down.”
The Wizards are currently 5th in the Eastern Conference standings, two games behind Cleveland for the last home court spot in the first round of the playoffs. As they continue to gel, the Celtics wait patiently to find out who their first round opponent will be, which may not be determined until the very last game of the season. Currently the Atlanta Hawks are in the 8th spot, and the Celtics will see them on Saturday in Atlanta for the two team’s last regular season meeting.
When asked about a possible second round match up between the Wizards and Celtics and if the three consecutive losses to them will play into the series Paul Pierce said, “I don’t know—unless you let it get in your head, psychologically. I still feel that we’re the better team. Maybe we can see them in the playoffs, who knows, and go from there.”
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The Boston Celtics completed the best turn-around in NBA history when they beat the Bobcats 101-78 on Saturday night. The victory topped the previous record held by the San Antonio Spurs from the 1997-98 season. That was the year the Spurs landed Tim Duncan. The Celtics also benefited from the key off-season acquisition of Kevin Garnett to complete their turn-around in 2007-08.
Ironically enough the Celtics clinched the top seed in the upcoming playoffs without the help of their three superstars, the Big Three of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Leon Powe stepped up with 22 points and 9 rebounds while James Posey added a season high 19 points. The rest was well deserved for the Big Three of the Celtics. With the top seed locked up for the playoffs the Celtics will want their best players to be rested for the 2nd season. Paul Pierce had the night off to celebrate the birth of his baby girl.
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Although the Boston Bruins would have liked to pick up a win, their 3-2 shootout loss last night against the New Jersey Devils still earned them an important point to help them in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Bruins are currently tied for the 6th spot in the East with the Ottawa Senators, both teams have 92 points in the standings with two games remaining. The teams will skate off against each other tomorrow night in a huge game that could solidify a playoff birth for one of the clubs.
In last nights contest the Devils took a 1-0 lead early in the 1st period scoring only 3:41 into the game on a Dainius Zubrus shot which was good for his 13th goal of the year.
After the quick goal, the Bruins tightened up their defense and shut out New Jersey for the next 51 minutes on the ice.
In the 2nd period, the B’s lit the lamp twice, first on a power play goal that came only 37 second into the frame by Dennis Wideman. It was Wideman’s 13th goal on the year and gave his teammates some momentum. With 3:27 left to play in the 2nd, Bruins left wing Milan Lucic netted his 8th goal of the season on a nice finish that was assisted by P.J. Axelsson, Glen Metropolit. The goal gave the Bruins a 2-1 that would last until late in the 3rd period when the Devils were able to knot the score at 2-2 on David Clarkson’s 14th goal of the year with only 5:28 left in regulation.
The teams skated to a 2-2 tie in regulation and left it up to goaltenders Martin Brodeur and Tim Thomas to try to secure a victory for their clubs.
Brodeur and the Devils would have the upper hand in the 4 goal shootout session in which he blacked the Bruins on all of their attempts. Zach Praise scored the game winner on Thomas beating him high on his glove side with a bank hand wrist shot.
”It’s really up to us to do our job and worry about winning our hockey games,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “That’s where we are at now, and that’s why that second point would have been huge.”
The win for the Devils clinched at least the 5th spot in the East and another victory would secure home ice for the first round of the playoffs.
“We are trying to move forward and play well going into the playoffs,” Brodeur said. “This is a big win. We didn’t play our best game. We were patient in the third, not trying to score right away. We got rewarded by a big goal at the end.”
A win in regulation tomorrow night would clinch a playoff birth for the Bruins as long as one of the teams below them in the race losses one of their remaining games.
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To the average fan, last night’s 92-77 Boston Celtics win over the Indiana Pacers was just another impressive effort that displayed dominating play on both ends of the court. To the diehard fan, it was much more.
With this victory at the TD Banknorth Garden, the Celtics reached two milestones that deserve some recognition. The win was the teams 60th of the season, the franchise has not accomplished this feat since 1986. Big deal, right? Wrong. The Celtics have gone on to win an NBA Championship 5 times after winning 60+ games in a year, the last being in 1986. Granted, back then the big three in town were a few guys by the name of Bird, McHale and Parish.
There’s a new trio in town these days and they’re hungry. Together Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen have made some noise in a city where basketball had been in a state of hibernation for years. The Celtics were so bad last year fans started cheering for losses so that we would have a better shot at the overall # 1 pick in the NBA Lottery Draft.
To go from a 24 win season to a 60 win season in one year is an accomplishment that should not go unnoticed. In fact, this turnaround is the biggest in NBA history, and there’s still 7 games remaining in the regular season. The Spurs had previously held the record for best turnaround in a season when they went from 20 wins in 1997 to 56 wins in 1998. Some guy named Duncan got drafted or something like that, but regardless, now the C’s hold the new mark.
The beautiful thing about this team and these accomplishments is that they could care less. They understand that they haven’t won anything yet and that they are preparing themselves for a run at a championship. When Coach Doc Rivers was informed about the historic turnaround in one season, his response, “Did we do that? Thanks for letting me know.”
Well they did do it, and it came in another onslaught, this time against the Indiana Pacers. Garnett led the way for Boston scoring 20 pts and grabbing 11 rebounds in 31 minutes of action. Allen netted 15 points, reserve Leon Powe played well off the bench dropping 14 points with 9 boards and Pierce chipped in with 13 points.
This one wasn’t even close. Boston was off and running from the opening tip, going on a 9-2 run to start the game sealed with a KG slam that forced a quick Pacer timeout only 1:41 into the 1st quarter. Indiana coach Jim O’Brien just didn’t have any answers for the powerful offensive and defensive attack that the Celtics brought to the table in this one.
“I think they are the best defensive team in the league,” O’Brien said. “I think they play the hardest of any team in the league. I don’t think there is that much dispute about that. That’s why they are contenders.”
The Celtics caused the Pacers to turn the ball over 20 times and held them to a dismal shooting percentage of 35.6% from the floor on the night. A few bright notes for Indiana was the solid play from Jermaine O’Neal who came off the bench for the second straight game, scoring 12 points in 20 minutes. O’Neal had been sidelined for 33 games with a deep knee bruise. Troy Murphy also recorded a double-double going for 11 points and 10 rebounds in the losing effort.
The win also puts the Celtics magic number for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs at 2. With the Detroit Pistons idle last night, the win increased Boston’s lead to 6 ½ games with only 7 remaining. With that said, there’s still work to be done and nobody wants it more the KG.
“We’re preparing for something way bigger than the present,” Garnett said. “I just don’t believe that you get to the playoffs and you wake up in the morning and blink and all of a sudden you turn it on.”
KG and the Celtics continue to turn it on every night; they just have to keep it going during the playoff run in their quest for Green 17.
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Ray Allen knows that the Boston Celtics can play with anyone in the NBA. Last night, that unfortunate opponent happened to be the Chicago Bulls and Allen’s 22 point performance helped lift the Celtics to a 106-92 victory. The win also inches the team that much closer to locking up the # 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Boston is currently 6 games ahead of Detroit with only 8 regular season games remaining. Even with the best record in the NBA at 59-15, Allen believes that they aren’t the favorites coming out of the East.
“It’s not like we won last year,” he said. “We’re all pretty much new to the situation.”
He’s right, last year the Celtics had the 2nd worst record in the NBA at 24-58 and were hoping for either the 1 or 2 picks in the lottery draft trying to land one of the top prospects to begin a rebuilding phase for the organization. And as fate would have it, the Celtics ping pong logo ball did not come up until the 5th spot breaking every Celtics fan’s heart.
With the off-season acquisitions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the draft day disappointment became a memory of the past, visions of the future began to look much brighter and an organization that was once a dominant force in the league was resurrected.
The last two Celtics victories have proven that the team can win with both its defense and its offense. Over the weekend, the C’s held the Heat to 17 field goals and only 66 points on the night. That field goal total was the lowest in NBA history since the shot clock era. Last night, the Celtics nailed 14 three-point field goals and shot over 49% from the floor. They can do it all.
“We knew what we were facing (against Boston),” Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas said. “I think everybody in the room knew what we were facing. They’re not the best team in the league, record-wise, for nothing.” Thomas scored 24 points, leading the Bulls in the losing effort.
Allen shot 5 of 7 on the night from behind the arc, while fellow guard Paul Pierce hit 4 of 5 shots from three point land and ended up with 17 points. Kevin Garnett pitched in a solid 20 point effort and grabbed 7 boards in the win.
“The 3-point line can be very tricky at times,” Allen said. “You have so many open looks, and I know I’m capable of making them. Paul knows he’s capable of making them, but I think there’s a stigma attached when you shoot too many threes—you’re settling. But the way our offense is, we go through the post. Sometimes, that’s the shot that’s available.”
The Celtics are back in action again tonight when they travel back to Boston to take on the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers are battling for the final playoff spot in the East and currently are 3 games behind Atlanta in the standings but 4 of their remaining games are against teams with less then 30 wins, and they also have a key game vs. Atlanta. The Celtics on the other hand are going for win number 60 on the season, the last time the franchise had a 60 win year was in 1986 en route to their 16th NBA Title.
Did someone say Green 17?
The “M-V-P” chants reigned down on the parquet floor as Kevin Garnett hit two free-throws late in the fourth quarter in his 30 point effort that lifted the Boston Celtics over the Phoenix Suns 117-97 yesterday evening at the TD Banknorth Garden. This was Boston’s first win vs. the fierce Western Conference opponents in six tries, and only their third win against the team since 2001.
In a game that was tied at the half 57-57, the Celtics came out and played an inspired type of basketball on the defensive end of the court that in return sparked their offensive production. The Suns were held to only 16 points in the 3rd quarter, an impressive stat considering they were coming off a 37 point 2nd quarter showing.
“You could hear the guys when we walked in [the locker room at halftime] saying, ‘We need to do this, we need to do that,’ said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers on boston.com. “And we said, ‘We need to do what we’ve done all year. We’re making no changes.’ And we were very stern; I was very stern about that. That we’re not going to make a change. We’re going to play it our defense… And so we went over what they were doing, and we showed if we played our normal defense, that we’re able be a better team than trying to change. And they did that in the second half. And they were all great at it. So it was a great lesson for us.”
After watching the Celtics performance last night, the rest of the NBA may have learned a lesson as well; you have to play hard for 48 minutes against this team or else you’re in for some serious trouble.
All of the Celtics starters were in double figures for points, led by Garnett’s 30. Paul Pierce had another great performance dropping 27 points on 9-16 shooting from the field and perfect 9-9 from the free-throw line. Kendrick Perkins contributed with a double-double grabbing10 boards and netting 13 points. Ray Allen had a quiet night but still produced 14 points and recorded a season high 8 assists in the win. Rounding out the five, Rajon Rondo also scored 14 points with 6 assists but more importantly kept Suns PG and former MVP Steve Nash in check.
“I just wanted to make Steve play defense on the opposite end,” said Rondo on boston.com. “I made a couple shots early, then I missed a couple, but I went back to it and still made my shots.”
The Suns had won 7 in a row before making their East Coast swing and were welcomed with two games against the top two teams in the Conference; Detroit and Boston. Detroit handed them a 109-105 overtime loss on Monday and the Celtics added to their woes with last nights pounding.
So, which team in the East is better?
“It’s a toss-up,” said Nash after the loss. “Both are terrific teams; two of the favorites, that’s for sure.”
Toss up or not, the Celtics currently hold a 6 game lead in the standings over the Pistons and with last nights win improve to a dominating 24-5 record against the Western Conference. Detroit’s record vs. the West currently stands at 20-8, the second best in the East only behind Boston’s.
The Celtics are home again on Friday with a rematch against the New Orleans Hornets. Led by another MVP candidate Chris Paul, the Hornets beat Boston last week in New Orleans so the C’s will be looking to settle the score with another strong showing tomorrow night.
With last nights 94-90 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, the Boston Celtics accomplished something that hasn’t been done in seven years. That feat would be the good old fashion ‘Texas Sweep’ or when an NBA team comes in and beats the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks all in the same road trip. The last team to come into Texas and beat all three of the powerhouses was the Sacramento Kings in November 2001.
The win didn’t come easy for the Celtics who trailed the majority of the second half, and even were down with less then one minute to play. Ray Allen nailed a 3-point field goal with :31 seconds left to pull the Celtics ahead 90-88 and they were then able to hold off the Mavs offensive attack for the remaining time on the clock.
“This feels good,” said Allen on nba.com, who’d missed three games with a jammed left ankle. “It’s something for the rest of the NBA to watch.”
The C’s capitalized on shooting very well from the charity stripe hitting 30 of 35 attempts (85.7%) on the night which helped balance out an ugly performance from the floor where they were only 30 for 87 (34.5%). The PG combination of Rajon Rondo and Sam Cassell combined for a dismal 1-16 shooting display which dragged the teams overall percentage down, but the effort was enough for a win.
Paul Pierce had another solid performance recording a double-double with 22 points and 13 rebound. Kevin Garnett had equally impressive numbers with 20 points and 13 boards. Allen finished with 21 points and all the heroics that were needed to secure the victory.
The Mavericks were led by PF’s Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard who scored 22 and 24 points in the losing effort. PG Jason Kidd was held to only 2 points and Dallas is now 0-7 to teams with winning records since he was traded to the team before the deadline.
“We’re just right there in a lot of these games,” said Jerry Stackhouse on nba.com, who scored 17 points. “It’s disappointing to keep coming up short.”
The loss was the second consecutive loss at home for the Mavericks, the first time that had happened all year. It doesn’t get any easier for Dallas, San Antonio is in town on Sunday and the Spurs have beaten the Mavericks in their last two meetings.
Last night’s win was the Celtics 14th victory in 15 games. They are currently 4-0 on their road trip with one game remaining on Saturday vs. New Orleans. During the month of March they’ve held opponents to an amazing average of only 87 points per contest. During the ‘Texas Sweep’ the Celtics held All-Stars Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady and Jason Kidd to a total of 20 points, together the trio averages 52. Not bad, right?
Not bad at all. The Celtics continue to roll with no plans to stop until a 17th banner is hoisted at the TD Banknorth Garden.
It’s been a while since the Boston Bruins can remember what its like to beat the Montreal Canadiens, and nothing changed with last nights 4-2 defeat at the TD Banknorth Garden. With the loss, the Canadiens have now beaten the Bruins in ten straight games, tying a franchise record for consecutive wins over the B’s. The record could be extended when the two teams meet for their final regular season match up this Saturday night in Montreal, but not if the Bruins have something to say about it.
“The onus is on us to change this,” Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward said on yahoo.com. “It sounds bad to say, but I thought we were better against them tonight. Shame on us if we are not ready for them on Saturday.”
After a scoreless first period, Alexei Kovalev scored twice in four minutes for the Canadiens to put them in control. The goals were his 32nd and 33rd of the year.
The Bruins were able to cut the lead in half before the 2nd period ended with a Mark Stuart goal only 27 seconds after Kovalev’s 2nd score, but continued to let the Canadiens dictate the play on the ice looking totally out matched and over powered.
Montreal took a 3-1 lead on Michael Ryder’s 14th goal of the year only 6:47 into the 3rd period. The game was all but over after Andrei Kostitsyn’s 22nd goal with 8:47 left in the period. The Bruins gave fans a chance to cheer about something with a goal 3:05 left on the clock by Dennis Wideman.
Too bad that at that point there were more Canadiens fans left in the stands then Bruins.
Carey Price made 34 saves in the win for the Canadiens with another solid performance in net. Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas stopped 26 shots but his second half of the season struggles continue. Thomas has allowed 22 goals in the month of March in only 6 games.
“Some teams just play well against other teams, and that’s just the way it goes,” Price said on yahoo.com.
With the win, the Canadiens move into the first place spot of the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the New Jersey Devils. The Bruins are clinging to their playoff life in the seventh spot, and have four teams within four points of them in the standings. Over the past 10 games, the B’s are only 2-5-3 and have not looked like a playoff caliber team.
If the Bruins drop into the eight and final playoff spot, and the Canadiens hold their ground atop the Eastern Conference, the two teams would meet in the first round of the playoffs. That situation is very possible, and over the next few weeks the Bruins will do everything in their power to not let it happen. They’d much rather face New Jersey in the first round whom they have had some success against this year.
But in the NHL, nothing is guaranteed so the Bruins playoff hopes lay in their own hands, well in their case, sticks.
It was supposed to be a great match-up that featured the Eastern and Western Conference leaders, but in the end a showdown that would only leave the Boston Celtics standing tall after an impressive display of defense en route to a 94-74 victory over the Houston Rockets, snapping their 22-game win streak. The streak which dated back to Jan. 27th was the 2nd longest winning streak in NBA history, only behind the 33-game steak the 1971-1972 L.A. Lakers team compiled in the midst of their championship season.
Fans in Houston definitely got their money’s worth in the first half of the contest, watching intense play go back and forth between the NBA powerhouses. Both teams were fired up, and tempers even flared before the opening tip when Celtics PG Rajon Rondo and Rockets PG Rafer Alston got into a shoving match that resulted in a double technical foul.
It was the Celtics who jumped out to an early lead but saw it slip away in the final three minutes of the period, capped with a steal and lay-up by Alston with only :03 seconds left on the clock. Alston ended the period with 9 points and the Rockets had a 22-21 advantage.
Houston jumped out to their largest lead of the game with 8:45 remaining in the 2nd quarter after Bobby Jackson netted a jumper to make the score 32-25 in favor of the Rockets. The Celtics fired back going on a 15-8 run to end the half, which ended with a Paul Pierce 3-pointer with :30 seconds left on the clock, tying the score at 40-40.
The second half was a different story, a story about defense.
Boston held Houston to a season low of only 34 points on 11-33 shooting (.33%) from the field in the half and capitalized on turnovers to turn a tied ballgame into a one-sided victory for the Celtics. At one point late in the 4th quarter the C’s took a 27 point lead on a powerful drunk by Kevin Garnett with 1:33 to play.
Rockets’ leading scoring Tracy McGrady was kept in check all night by aggressive, in your face defense, and the All-Star only scored 8 points on a 4 for 11 shooting display.
“It’s not disappointing,” McGrady said on yahoo.com. “It’s a hell of a team over there. They outplayed us. I’ve never seen a defense like that. I mean, if they play defense like that, night in and night out, the NBA is in trouble because that was defense at its finest.”
Garnett led the way for the Celtics recording another double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds in the win. In only 20 minutes of action, reserve PF Leon Powe scored 21 points while captain Paul Pierce chipped in with 20. The team was again without SG Ray Allen who sat out his third consecutive game with a sore left ankle injury.
With the loss, the Rockets fall back into a tie with the Lakers for the best record in the Western Conference at 46-21. The Celtics remain in charge in the Eastern Conference, now 5 games ahead of the 2nd place Detroit Pistons with the NBA’s best record of 54-13.
Up next, the Celtics continue their Texas swing after impressive wins vs. the Spurs and Rockets to face the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday 3/20 for the fourth game of a five game road trip. In the only meeting between the Celts and Mavs, Boston captured a 96-90 victory at home on Jan. 31st in a game where Garnett sat out with an injury and Pierce and Allen both hit for 26 points.