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Archive for November, 2008

Celtics Continue to Flex Their Collective Muscles

Posted by r1zzo23 on November 24, 2008

Another week of games under our belt, four more wins added to the East’s best record and it seems like the offensive swagger is back as the Celtics averaged 105.25 points in each of those four. It looked as if this would be a pesky stretch of games with the offensive-minded Knicks, rival Detroit Pistons, young and restless Minnesota Timberwolves and Atlantic foe Toronto Raptors. The first two of those games were in Boston while the latter two were on the road. Believe it or not, the Knicks’ and the Timberwolves’ games were the most competitive of the bunch. The Celtics really only played three quarters against both the Pistons and the Raptors as they ran away with both games early.

The Celtics have been playing their stellar defense all season, but the offense was struggling for most of the season up until this week. The Big Three weren’t always clicking, Rondo was looking offensively inept and there were stretches of games where the bench would contribute absolutely nothing to the effort. Watching the games this week and you would have thought you were watching last year’s team because there was nothing stopping the Celtics from winning this week.

As I said earlier, the Knicks and the Timberwolves put up the biggest fights this week. In both games, the Celtics continued their trend of getting down early. Against the Knicks, the Celtics trailed early but opened a nine point lead heading into the half. We would inflate the lead here and there, but the Knicks scored basket for basket with us. In the end, they just couldn’t chip away at the lead and ended up losing by that same nine points. The Celtics went to Minnesota, marking Kevin Garnett’s first trip back to the Target Center and the rout was on. But it wasn’t like that the entire game as the Celtics were down for almost the entire first half. The third quarter was when the Celtics pulled away as they won the quarter 35-10 and there was no looking back.

I won’t be one of the people to say that this team is better than last year’s team because it just isn’t… yet! James Posey and PJ Brown were two huge losses from last year’s team and they both played key roles in winning the title. James Posey is being replaced by Tony Allen, who is doing a great job, but his lack of ability to guard some power forwards in the league is a downer. PJ Brown was our key big man off the bench with experience and leadership. We thought we had a shot at Antonio McDyess, but he will be returning to Detroit. Patrick O’Bryant is definitely not the answer. Leon Powe, as great as he has been for us, just isn’t able to replace what PJ Brown gave us. Hopefully we can scoop a big man down the road for the stretch run, but I couldn’t begin to theorize who that player may be.

With 15 games played through the season, the Celtics are a scintilating 13-2, with their only losses to the Pacers in our first road game of the season and the Nuggets at home. Other than that, we have looked great and are definitely showing that we are still the best team in the East. I hate to say it, but Christmas Day will be when we find out if we are still the best in the league as we travel to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers. With 14 games between now and then, I don’t think anything less than a 10-4 effort is acceptable. Being 23-6 heading into a Christmas clash would be a great goal to achieve.

Posted in 2008, Game Analysis | 2 Comments »

UMass Shout Out: Tony Gaffney

Posted by r1zzo23 on November 18, 2008

Not sure how many people stayed up to check out UMass take on #16 Memphis Tigers last night at midnight, but it was a better game than many would have expected. You look at the ESPN Bottomline and you see that UMass got blown out, but that certainly wasn’t the case. Memphis led the game by a constant eight to ten points, mostly because the Minutemen continued to hand them fast break baskets (UMass committed 25 turnovers). With the all the turnovers, horrendous shooting (30.3% from the field) and lack of front court depth (gave up 12 offensive rebounds), not to mention the extreme difference in talent, it’s not a surprise that UMass lost this game. With that said, the Minutemen definitely proved that they can hang with the top teams in the nation as they really were in the game up until about seven minutes remaining in the game.

The one player that should have stood out in everyone’s mind while watching the game last night was senior forward Tony Gaffney for the UMass Minutemen. Born and raised in Berkley, MA, Tony Gaffney transferred to UMass from Boston University after his sophomore season. Last year he played a small role off the bench, but with Dante Milligan and Ettienne Brower graduating and Luke Bonner now out for a month with a knee injury, Gaffney is left to man the paint for the Minutement by himself. And he gave the Memphis Tigers everything they can handle!

Gaffney brought the energy from the opening tip as he was an absolute beast on the glass and was doing his best to deter shots at the rim. The Tigers were grabbing offensive rebounds early in the game and that was because they were sending three guys to the glass and Gaffney was the only legit rebounder in the paint for the Minutemen. From about ten minutes remaining in the first half, Gaffney kept the Tigers off the glass and ended the game with a career-high 19 rebounds. He also tacked on 16 points as well as another five blocks (he had seven last game against SIU). When Coach Kellogg took him out of the game for good, the Memphis crowd actually gave him a great round of applause.

Tony Gaffney is asserting himself as the senior leader on this team (Chris Lowe’s play is really hurting his leading ability) and this big play will be needed for a few weeks with Bonner sidelined and no other legit center on this roster. Tyrell Lynch, Matt Hill (possibly injured) and Travon Wilcher are just too inexperienced and too small, to defend many big men in the Atlantic 10, let alone against Memphis. Gaffney will patrol the paint and give us nostalgia, bringing back memories of when Stephane Lasme was giving us the same energy.

Keep up the good work, Tony. Your play speaks volumes about your character.

Posted in 2008, College Basketball, Players | 2 Comments »

Garnett Suspended for Tonight’s Game Against Knicks

Posted by r1zzo23 on November 18, 2008

KG will be a cheerleader from the bench tonight.

KG will be a cheerleader from the bench tonight.

This has been widely reported, but I figured I’d throw it up here anyways. From ESPN.com:

The Boston Celtics will take a hit for Kevin Garnett‘s hit.

The NBA announced on Monday that the All-Star forward will be suspended for one game for hitting Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut in the face on Saturday.

Bogut didn’t get off, however, with the league also upgrading the foul he committed that started the altercation to a Flagrant 1.

The incident happened late in the fourth quarter of the Celtics’ 102-97 overtime win in Milwaukee.

Garnett will sit out Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks in Boston.

Can’t say that I expected to see this happen. Both players were assessed technical fouls at the time of the altercation and that should have been enough. Bogut’s technical being upgraded to a flagrant foul is another bad decision, in my opinion. Garnett has been a little crazy so far this season. First, he was barking at Jose Calderon. Next, he clearly started verbally assaulting Randolph Morris, I believe, during the Hawks game when KG had an and-1 alley-oop. Now we have this scuffle with Andrew Bogut. Celtic fans love the fire and passion, until it starts affecting the team by keeping him on the bench. This can’t continue for Garnett.

Now I am going to assume that Leon Powe will get the starting nod tonight against the Knicks. Is there a better game for Leon to play in than tonight? The Knicks will be running D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense with undersized players, perfect for Leon. He should have himself a great game tonight if he can stay out of fould trouble.

Posted in 2008, News | Leave a Comment »

Long Week Over, Celtics Take Their Lumps

Posted by r1zzo23 on November 16, 2008

After five games in a seven day stretch, the Celtics finally get a couple days off to rest up for their first meeting with the new-look New York Knicks this coming Tuesday. Let’s take a look back at the past couple games:

Wednesday vs. Atlanta Hawks, Celtics win 103-102

This is easily the most memorable game of the young season for the men in Green. The Hawks came to town sporting one of two undefeated records (our rivals in purple and gold being the other team) and gave the defending champs about all they can handle. But in the end, the Hawks just couldn’t handle The Truth! The Celtics never really led throughout the entire contest until very late in the game. With about 30 seconds remaining, the Celtics were up by two points when Joe Johnson drove baseline and kicked it to a wide-open Marvin Williams in the corner for an uncontested three, putting the Celtics down one with about seven seconds left. After a timeout, the Celtics inbounded to KG at halfcourt who then handed it off to Pierce. Paul did what he does best, taking Al Horford one on one for a 15-foot fadeaway jumper to but the Celtics up one with .5 seconds left on the clock. Easily the greatest moment of the young season.

Friday vs. Denver Nuggets, Celtics lose 85-94

A tough game for the Celtics all-around. Their defense wasn’t as tenacious as usual and the bench (other than Eddie House) gave absolutely zero to the team. The whole team just looked a step slow as Kenyon Martin and Nene seemed to blow by both Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins on a few occassions. One thing this made the Celtics Nation think about was the offense has been very stagnant so far this season. Last year, we seemed to score at will but now it seems we are really working to earn every bucket. Guaging by first hand experience, it looks like the Nuggets got the better end of the Iverson deal than the Pistons did.

Saturday @ Milwaukee Bucks, Celtics win 102-97 in OT

That’s right, it took overtime for the Celtics to beat the feisty Bucks, but a win is a win. The Celtics had to pull this one out without Kevin Garnett for most of the overtime period as he had fouled out. Luke Ridnour, who took Ray Allen to the rack to tie it up a the end of regulation, also fouled out. Andrew Bogut was ejected from the game after receiving his 2nd technical foul of the game after a tussle with Garnett in overtime. With Rondo and Perkins each contributing a whopping two points each, the Big Three had to pour in 68 between the three of them (Pierce leading the game with 28) with Tony Allen also chipping in 10 off the bench (on a horrid 4-12 shooting). The Bucks are a very scrappy team and Scott Skiles has got them playing some tough defense early this season and this was without their leading scorer, Michael Redd. The Celtics were lucky to escape with a win as they let up a sizeable lead late in the game once again. Remember when we used to try to blow teams out rather than let them back in the game?

What did we learn this past week?

First off, I don’t think it’s too crazy to say that Paul Pierce is the MVP of the league so far. He has put this team on his back so far and is winning games in the fourth quarter mostly by himself. When Jalen Rose is getting your vote, you know you’re a serious candidate for the award.

The overall team free throw shooting has been greatly improved lately and should continue. The team is still DEAD LAST in the league. Not what championship teams are made of, but if there is any team that can turn that around, it is the Boston Celtics. Rondo needs to stay under control and Pierce seems to be trying to do too much lately. Doc will get them to start playing much more efficient basketball.

We also learned that it is not a forgone conclusion that Antonio McDyess will be returning to Detroit. His agent said that they are definitely weighing his options, and there are plenty of them out there. It’s assumed that the Celtics and Cavaliers are great options for McDyess, especially if he’s looking for a ring.

With all this said, the Celtics are still sports the best record in the East and that could be up for grabs Thursday night when the Pistons come to town. But the team should not be looking past the Knicks as they can score in bunches and could definitely steal a win from us.

Posted in 2008, Game Analysis | 2 Comments »

Pierce Scores 22 In 4th, Leads C’s to W

Posted by r1zzo23 on November 11, 2008

Last night, we witnessed classic Paul Pierce when it mattered the most: the fourth quarter. After starting the game three of 13 from the field in the first three quarters, The Truth exploded for 22 fourth quarter points, carrying the Celtics to a win over a very impressive Raptors squad. Pierce scored on seven of his nine attempts in the quarter and finished the game with 36 points including four treys from deep.

Paul’s game has been great, for the most part, but has had some shaky shooting nights early. After watching the first three quarters, you thought it was just one of those nights. Well, it was one of those nights, but not the same one as the first three quarters. Pierce showed the league last night that he is still one of the best scorers in the league and should never be counted out of any game. Not only is he a great scorer, but he is arguably the best fourth quarter scorer in the Eastern Conference (Kobe gets my nod as best in the league).

Anyone get chills watching this and thinking back to the Eastern Conference Finals comeback game against the Nets? I know I did.

The Celtics, sporting a five game win streak, finally get a day off before welcoming the undefeated Atlanta Hawks (5-0) to the TD Banknorth Garden tomorrow night. The Hawks are led by former Celtic Joe Johnson, but will be without all-everything forward, Josh Smith, as he is out with a high left ankle sprain. The Hawks took the Celtics to seven games in the opening round of the playoffs last season and they look to be as tough, if not tougher, this year than they were in April.

Posted in 2008, Game Analysis | Leave a Comment »

Celtics Punish Pistons, Win 88-76

Posted by r1zzo23 on November 9, 2008

The Celtics went to their Eastern Conference rival’s house and stuck it to them. The new-look Detroit Pistons played their first game in front of the home crowd with Allen Iverson in the lineup. They also got their chance to see how they measured up with the defending champs. Let’s just say that looking at this game, the Pistons are no longer the #1 threat to the Celtics in the East.

There were rumblings that the Iverson deal was a step backward this season in order to take two steps forward in the ensuing offseasons and it definitely looking that way. The Pistons were one of the top defensive teams in the league and perhaps one of the toughest to guard in the halfcourt set. But now with Iverson pounding the rock, there was a lot of standing around watching and the Celtics took advantage of that.

Both teams played sloppy to open the game as they combined for four or 25 shooting to open the game. It actually took the Celtics’ bench in order to start putting some points on the board. Tony Allen was the player of the game, scoring a game-high 23 points off the bench on 11-16 shooting. He was attacking the rim relentlessy and was finishing in traffic like we saw him do two seasons ago. He was a deterrant on defense as well. Seems to me as if Tony is back to 100% and his confidence is sky high. Pierce (foul trouble) and Garnett both struggled tonight, but luckily their production wasn’t necessary in order to get a win as the Celtics flexed their collective muscles without them

The Celtics will return home to host their Atlantic Division rivals, the Toronto Raptors, at the TD Banknorth Garden. Hopefully the team is ready because the Raptors are a good team. The Raptors are also going to be playing in their 2nd game of a back-to-back, but both of their games will be on the road as they got a win down in Charlotte this afternoon.

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McDyess Gets Buy-Out, Becomes Free Agent

Posted by r1zzo23 on November 8, 2008

From RealGM.com:

The Denver Nuggets have reached an agreement with Antonio McDyess and will buy out his contract, allowing the forward to become an unrestricted free agent, the Denver Post is reporting.

Miller said that 19 teams have inquired about McDyess’ status, and it’s possible that the veteran forward could return to the Pistons, the team who traded him on Monday, along with Chauncey Billups and Cheikh Samb, in exchange for Allen Iverson.

Well we all knew it was coming. Now the big story is where will the Dyess Man decide to resume his career. Does he go back to the team who just traded him away or does he choose to come to Boston for a better chance at winning a title? Although he needs to wait 30 days before he can re-sign with Detroit, I’m sure his future will be decided much earlier than that.

Posted in 2008, Players | Leave a Comment »

Perk Owns the Paint

Posted by r1zzo23 on November 8, 2008

I have always been a Kendrick Perkins fan, even when my allegiance may not have been warranted by his play. He was always a big bruiser with limited skill and that look on his face like he’s ready to decapitate anyone at a moment’s notice. Two seasons ago, he was starting to come around like maybe there was a glimmer of hope for him o become a decent starting center in this league. As soon as you put him next to Kevin Garnett, he turned it up to a whole new level.

Last season, Perkins averaged career-highs in points, rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage and minutes. His problem used to be that he would take himself out of the game by picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter, but he is learning how to play physical without fouling every time down the floor. He averaged a respectable 1.5 blocks last season and I’m sure playing next to KG helped that.

But watching him play the last three games this season, I’m starting to think he very well may have the timing down when it comes to blocking shots. After back-to-back four block performances (@ Houston, @ Oklahoma City), Perkins returned home and kept the block party going. Last night with the Milwaukee Bucks in town, Kendrick Perkins rejected SEVEN shots! The seven blocks is now his new career-high (he had six on three different occassions) and puts him tied for 3rd in the league with 2.8 blocked shots per game. Now do I expect Perkins to challenge Dwight Howard for the blocked shots leader for the season? Not at all. But will it surprise me if he averages over 2.5 blocks a game this season and finally becomes a top defensive center? I already think he is one of the best low-post defenders in the league already. If he starts blocking shots at this rate, he’ll be a force in the paint that all teams will have to respect.

Posted in 2008, Players | 1 Comment »

C’s Keep Rolling, Blow Past Bucks at Home

Posted by r1zzo23 on November 8, 2008

Celtics return home after a three game road trip to host the Milwaukee Bucks. As seems to be a recurring theme this season, the Celtics got down early and for most of the first half, but close out the 2nd quarter on a nice little run. Then in the 3rd quarter, they pull away and hold them off for the rest of the game.

Early on in the game, Richard Jefferson was unstoppable, scoring 16 points in the first quarter alone (finishing the game with 20). With Michael Redd out, there just wasn’t enough offensive fire power for the Bucks to hang with the Celtics. When you’re relying on Charlie Villanueva to be your 2nd option against the defending champs, you know you’re in big trouble.

Paul Pierce continues to be the Jack of all trades as he finished the game with 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Kevin Garnett was the only other starter scoring in double-digits with 16 points and chipped in with nine rebounds. Ray Allen struggled from the field (3-13) but the bench stepped up with Tony Allen, Leon Powe and Eddie House scoring 13, 10 and 11 points respectively. Rondo finished with eight assists and Kendrick Perkins swatted a career high SEVEN shots.

This next week will be a marathon for the Celtics as they will have five games in seven days (four of which are back-to-back nights). Sunday night at 6:00 PM, the Celtics will be in Detroit to take on their Eastern Conference rival Pistons with their new look lineup featuring Allen Iverson.

Posted in 2008, Game Analysis | Leave a Comment »

Celtics Thump Thunder, 96-83

Posted by r1zzo23 on November 6, 2008

The Boston Celtics, on the second night of back to back games on the road, beat the Oklahoma City Thunder last night. They broke away in the 3rd quarter and kept a sizable lead for the rest of the game, but the first half was a different story. The Celtics trailed for almost the entire first half and early in the 3rd quarter. The Thunder’s stadium was described as a college-esque atmosphere and they came out on an emotional high as the crowd cheered them on.

After the Celtics took the Thunder’s best punch, they fired back and got back to doing what they do, and that’s winning basketball games. The Celtics had five players score in double digits with Paul Pierce leading the way with 20 points. Perkins, for the 2nd game in a row, scored in double digits (10) and added another four blocks and is now averaging two rejections a game. Rajon Rondo was perfect from the field (2-2), but once again could not figure out the whole free-throw thing (0-2). He is now 12-26 from the free-throw line on the season, good for 46.2%. That must change if the Celtics are going to make a run for another title this year. He did chip in with 11 assists and two steals, so his passing and defense, as we know by now, will never be affected by his offense.

Leon Powe and Tony Allen played great off the bench, scoring 11 and eight points, respectively, while combining to shoot 50% from the floor (7-14). On the other hand, Eddie House continues to struggle from the floor, connecting on just one of his four shots. Rondo’s free-throw shooting worries me, but House’s shooting woes do not. He is a pure shooter and is in a funk that we witnessed Ray Allen go through late last season and into the playoffs. I’m sure we all remember how Ray’s shooting turned out in the championship series, so I’m not too worried about Eddie.

The Celtics, now 4-1 on the young season and 2-0 at home, welcome the surpising Milwaukee Bucks (3-2) to the Garden Friday night. The Bucks should not be taken lightly as they are a much better team than perhaps expected.

Posted in 2008, Game Analysis | Leave a Comment »