Partying For The Big Game?

by admin on January 28, 2014

This isn’t about the Celtics, but it could be at a future time. Planning a party for the Big Game this weekend? What are the trends and favorites across the country? This graphic will help you with your planning and give some ideas for the next time the Celtics are in the finals…hopefully in the next five years!


Via: Quiznos

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CSN Opens Ace Ticket Studio on Causeway St

by admin on October 27, 2009

COMCAST SPORTSNET MOVES CELTICS HOME GAME PRE AND POST GAME SHOWS TO NEW ACE TICKET STUDIO ON CAUSEWAY STREET

 

New Store Front Studio Premieres with Celtics Home Opener on October 28

 

BURLINGTON, MA – Comcast SportsNet and Ace Ticket announced today that the regional sports network will host its Celtics Pre-Game Live and Celtics Post Game Live studio shows from the Ace Ticket Studio on Causeway Street for every 2009-10 Boston Celtics home game. 

The store front studio, located at 109 Causeway Street, inside the Ace Ticket flagship location and directly across the street from TD Bank Garden will premiere with the home opener on Wednesday, October 28. Before and after every home game, studio host Gary Tanguay and NBA analyst Donny Marshall will analyze the game, welcome special guests to the studio and link up live with its telecast team Mike Gorman, Tommy Heinsohn and Greg Dickerson from inside the TD Garden.

 The studio will feature three high definition cameras that Comcast SportsNet will send back to its Burlington studios. Celtics fans will be able to view the telecast from inside the Ace Ticket location and from the exterior on both Causeway and Friend St as the studio will be lined with glass panels that extend around the 25 foot perimeter. 

“The Ace Ticket Studio represents a first for Comcast SportsNet and it brings our telecast to a new level. Sports is about the experience and giving fans a chance to experience our Celtics telecast is an exciting way to begin this much anticipated season,” said Bill Bridgen, Comcast SportsNet’s executive vice president and general manager. 

“The store front location directly across for the Garden will give our customers and Celtics fans a front row seat as Comcast SportsNet puts on its award winning telecast,” said Ace Ticket Founder and CEO Jim Holzman. “Ace Ticket continues to expand its presence in New England and to work with Comcast SportsNet gives a high profile opportunity to reach our consumers.” 

Comcast SportsNet will use the studio throughout the year and extensively on Celtics home game nights as it will provide an exclusive location to interview Celtics front office officials, visiting team representatives and high profile fans attending the games. 

Comcast SportsNet reaches more than 4 million households in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Comcast SportsNet’s programming includes the Boston Celtics, Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight, Celtics Now, Sports Sunday, The Baseball Show, New England Tailgate, and Net Impact. Comcast SportsNet’s partnership with the 17-time NBA Champion Boston Celtics is the longest team-regional sports network relationship in New England and the fourth longest in professional sports. Comcast SportsNet New England is owned and managed by Comcast Sports Group. Visit www.comcastsportsnet.com for more information. 

Comcast Sports Group operates 10 sports networks that deliver 2,400 sporting events annually and sports news and analysis to 40 million cable and satellite homes.  Comcast Sports Group’s networks are: Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, Comcast SportsNet California, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, Comcast SportsNet New England, Comcast SportsNet Northwest, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, SNY, The Mtn. – Mountain West Sports Network, and CSS.  Comcast Sports Group also manages New England Cable News (NECN), the nation’s largest regional news network, and The Comcast Network, based in Philadelphia and Washington, which delivers community-oriented programming.  For more information, see ComcastSportsNet.com.

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Plenty of Green on National TV Schedule

by admin on September 23, 2009

The Celtics will begin their quest to bring the NBA championship back to Boston on Tuesday, October 27th in Cleveland against LeBron, Shaq and the Cleveland Cavaliers on TNT. That will be the first of a staggering 32 nationally televised games for the Celtics, nine of which will be on TNT. (Seven Celtics games are on NBA TV, so I’m not sure if those should really count as “Nationally Televised.”) The Celtics home opener is the next night, the 28th against the Charlotte Bobcats. The first rematch with the Chicago Bulls will be that Friday night, in a game that ESPN has picked up, the first of 10 ESPN appearances by the Celtics.

The early part of the schedule features 10 out of the first 16 games at home, but then starting on November 29th, the team hits a stretch of eight games in 16 nights, with seven of those games on the road, including a three game trip through Charlotte, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

After a Christmas Day playoff rematch in Orlando with the Magic, (2:30pm ABC start time) the Celtics head out on their first West coast trip of the season. The Clippers, Warriors and Suns are on the itinerary for this quick three game set. Kobe Bryant and the world champion Los Angeles Lakers (that stings) make their only appearance at the TD Garden on Sunday, January 31st. This is another ABC game, tipping off at 3:30. With that being the weekend between the AFC and NFC championship games and the Super Bowl, the NBA will have the stage to itself to present that marquee matchup.

Boston sports fans are circling the following Sunday, February 7th on their sports calendar, hoping it turns out to be a Boston doubleheader. The Celtics host the Orlando Magic at 2:30 that afternoon on ABC, and the Super Bowl kicks off a little more than four hours later.

The last game prior to the All Star break for the Celtics is a trip to New Orleans to play the Hornets on February 10th. The 11th to the 15th of that month, the Celtics are off for the break before heading out on their traditional post All Star break West coast road trip starting in Sacramento on February 16th. Then, less than three weeks after their first matchup, the Celtics and Lakers conclude their two game season series on a Thursday night TNT game, which is a curious move on a couple fronts. Why would the NBA place two of their marquee games just a few weeks apart like this? And why have it at 10:30 at night on a weeknight? Why not another Sunday afternoon? Was TNT guaranteed to get one of these games, so it had to be then?

After that four game West coast swing, the Celtics will be home for nine of their next 13 games. The stretch includes a February 25th TNT home game with the Cavs, as well as a Sunday afternoon (3:30pm) ABC game in Cleveland on March 14th. At the end of that week, the Celtics depart on a mini, four night, three game swing through Houston, Dallas and Utah.

The final regular season matchup with LeBron, Shaq and the Cavs is scheduled for April 4th, another ABC game, this time at home at 1:00pm. The regular season concludes on Wednesday night, April 14 with a home game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

So what do you think? 74-8? Sound good? OK, that’s probably a tad optimistic, but this looks to be another fun season following the Celtics. Training camp is a week away. Can’t wait.

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So Long, Leon

by admin on August 12, 2009

Leon Powe was probably my favorite member of the Boston Celtics over the last few years. Quiet, hardworking, willing to do the dirty work under the basket, Powe was perfect in the role the played for the Celtics. The fact that he had overcome so much in his life added to the appeal of Leon Powe as a person.

He grew up in the foster system in the Oakland area, trying the best he could to keep tabs on and take care of his younger siblings, Powe ended up the University of California, where he led the Pac-10 in rebounding at a freshman, and then returned from a devastating knee injury his sophomore year to become only sixth player in history to lead the conference in scoring and rebounding during his junior year, with totals of 20 points per game and 10 rebounds per game. Despite being somewhat undersized as a power forward at 6-8, 240 lbs, Powe was drafted in the second round of the NBA draft by the Nuggets and then traded to the Celtics.

During his three seasons with the Celtics, Powe endeared himself to fans with his tenacious, powerful style of play. It seemed he routinely outmuscled bigger and stronger players under the basket and dunked on them. Off the court, he founded a non-profit organization in the Bay Area to give support and education to children who are enduring a similar upbringing to what Powe himself had. Despite not being a highly paid NBA star, Powe was certainly among the busiest when it came to charity and off the court activities. It seemed this offseason was going to be his chance to finally make some good NBA money, but a torn ACL in the playoffs against Chicago put his entire NBA career in jeopardy.

Comments made by Doc Rivers seemed to indicate that he really hoped to keep Powe around, and bring him back next season. That didn’t happen. The Celtics chose to allow him to become an unrestricted free agent, with the team perfunctorily wishing him well on the way out the door. It sure seemed like good-bye, something I didn’t understand at the time, and still don’t understand. River talked often about the quality of person that Leon Powe is. That you really want more those on your team. Powe was facing another long rehab following his knee surgery, but it seemed that he would be a guy that the Celtics would take care of. Maybe something happened behind the scenes, but I doubt it. This was just a business decision. The Celtics felt they couldn’t afford to tie up a roster spot with a guy who won’t be back until, at the very soonest, the All Star break.

It’s their loss. This week Powe received an two year offer sheet with the Celtics biggest rivals in the Eastern Conference, the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers. Powe agree to the deal, and pending his physical, will make the deal official. This one hurts. It’s not quite Johnny Damon going to the Yankees, because I’ve got absolutely no animosity towards Powe. It’s just going to hurt seeing Powe in that Cavs uniform when he finally makes it back. Given his history, I have absolutely no doubt Leon Powe will make it all the way back. Let’s hope the damage to the Celtics is minimal.

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Requiem For a Lost Season

by Kevin on May 20, 2009

By Jeremy Gottlieb

Well, that was a huge bummer, eh?

Talk about an anti-climax. The last thing I or pretty much anyone to whom I’ve spoken would have predicted for Game 7 at the Garden the other night was that the weary Celts would be blown out of the gym. The Celtics had history, experience, their home crowd and a seemingly mentally weak opponent all working in their favor and they still managed to drop one of the biggeststinkbombs of the season. So I guess that means it’s time to reflect now that enough time has passed that I can clearly wrap my head around it all. But before we go any further, let me put out one, small disclaimer. This will not be another one of those, “If only KevinGarnett had played, then they may have won it,” columns. So many supposedly shrewd, intelligent writers have mailed in that kind of drivel in the last couple of days, it’s made my eyes bleed. Really, guys? You think ifGarnett had played, the Celtics might have beaten the Magic? Wow, thanks for such astute, expert analysis. Now I know exactly why they lost.

No, here at the BSMW Full Court Press, we don’t believe in insulting our readership with such simplified obviousness. Everyone who has ever watched a sporting event knows that if the team thatlost’s best player didn’t play, that’s probably a huge reason why said losing team went down. Apparently, a lot of our local bastions of basketball knowledge forgot this.

Anyway, let’s not waste any more time discussing such nonsense. I’d prefer to examine how the Celtics got as far as they did and why. The series against Orlando didn’t have nearly the drama or suspense or sheer joy of the first-round series with the Bulls. But there were plenty of twists and turns. On one hand, you could argue that the Celts should have lost in five games. Orlando had both Games 4 and 5 wrapped up before going completely mental and spitting the proverbial bit. On the other hand you could argue that the Celtics should have won in six games. When Paul Pierce stepped to the line with 2:03 left in that game, just after the play of BrianScalabrine’s life (his “in your face” stuffing of Rashard Lewis on the low block that couldn’t possibly happen 99 out of 100 times) the Celtics had a chance to jump ahead after having held the Magic to just four points in the previous four minutes. Pierce, who shot 85 percent from the stripe in the series, missed enough big ones both against the Bulls and the Magic that when he clanked up both attempts, it wasn’t really surprising. What was surprising was that Orlando, which had virtually cornered the market on not being able to capitalize on pretty much anything up to that point, saw an opening, somehow flipped a switch on their collective mental toughness meter (which at that point was hovering around zero) and ran off an 11-2 run to escape with an 83-75 win and force another Game 7.

In hindsight, that was pretty much it. Like several Celtics fans I know, I figured the whole Game 7 at home thing would be enough to carry them. I thought it was a fluke that the Magic had kept their composure and managed to take advantage of such a huge chance at the end of Game 6. They had blown their wad in doing that, it seemed, and there was no way such a fragile group could summon the requisite chutzpah to beat a defending champ on the road in a deciding game, even a defending champ as tired and depleted as the Celtics.

Of course, that wasn’t remotely what happened. Instead of yet another Game 7 triumph, the Celtics completely wilted when it mattered most. I won’t waste too much time belaboring this point, but under the circumstances, considering the losses in personnel and the subsequent alternatives, reaching the ultimate game of the conference semifinals was a major accomplishment. It’s a bit astounding that they got as far as they did. That by no means absolves them of their performance on Sunday, but it is worth noting.

It was awful, really. Even though Ray Allen played by far his best game of the series, everyone else was basically out of it. Pierce was doubled anywhere on the floor at which he touched the ball and had no answer for it. Kendrick Perkins had his worst game in weeks, disappearing on offense and even missing three straight layups on a single possession at one point. Rajon Rondo hit a couple of jumpers but lacked the explosiveness he displayed earlier in the playoffs and was mostly ineffective, not to mention the fact that he was schooled by the not-really-that-good Rafer Alston. I would mention the bench, but there isn’t one, although one particular yokel earlier this week was shouting at me about how Doc Rivers should be ashamed of himself for employing an eight-man rotation, even though pretty much every coach since the beginning of time has done the same come playoff time (including Doc Rivers last year), and that Mikki Moore and Tony Allen should have played more in Game 7. Whatever, it was the worst-case scenario and not too many of us saw it coming.

But even though they absolutely stunk on Sunday, it’s hardly the last or most pertinent thing we should remember about this particular Celtics team. Instead, the focus should be on how admirable their overall performance throughout the last few weeks has been. I’m not a huge fan of trafficking in cliches, but this team showed a massive amount of heart, the heart of a champion. They outlasted Chicago and its Energizer Bunny youngsters and they came within one game (or a couple minutes, going back to Game 6) of bouncing an Orlando team with far more talent and athleticism while using Scalabrine as their sixth man/main backup at center and both forward slots. They were so thin that they had to take Big Baby (who is about to get PAID) out after one foul as opposed to two. They were forced to rely on Stephon Marbury at times, and even though he rewarded them for it in Game 5 and was by all accounts a perfect soldier during his time here, he was still too rusty and out of his element to live up to it.

All that, and they still were this close to winning the right to get swept by LeBron and the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals. They were tired and banged up and practically patched together with duct tape, yet they just missed winning two playoff rounds. Not too shabby. Of course, the end was bitter and disappointing. But it was a hell of a ride and for that, this group, the 2008-2009 defending NBA champion Boston Celtics, should be commended.

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So Now What, Celtics Fans?

by Kevin on May 4, 2009

By Jeremy Gottlieb

I don’t know about you, but I feel like tonight should be Game 8.

It seems really hard to grasp that the Celtics’ first-round series against the Bulls is over. By the time the third overtime of Game 6 rolled around, I figured that the two teams would just keep playing each other forever, or at least until someone keeled over. And now, it’s over. Let the withdrawal symptoms begin.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy the Celtics won. I’m ecstatic about it, actually. The fact that they were able to stay on their feet throughout all seven of those games plus all seven of those overtimes and wind up the ones that didn’t get knocked out wassupremely impressive. Both teams were so totally staggered, so banged up and so running on fumes by the time Saturday night rolled around, being the one who gave out first was nothing over which to sulk. They showed tremendous character and fortitude in outlasting the Bulls and should be not only commended, but remembered for it, no matter what happens next.

Which leads us to that very question: what is going to happen next? We know that the Orlando Magic, their monster of a center and their wildly oversensitive head coach will invade the Garden tonight for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. And that’s about it. Just as the last series proved to be impossible to predict (even in the end, when it seemed the Celtics and Bulls couldn’t play without at least one extra period, they finished Game 7 in regulation with barely a sliver of the suspense found in the previous three games), what the Celtics may do against Orlando is a complete mystery.

There are at least a couple of possibilities. They could be completely spent from the energy, both physical and mental, expended against the Bulls. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and Doc Rivers can talk all they want about how playing a ton of minutes doesn’t matter because they’re all basketball players and that’s what they do. Tack on the amount of time played by the Celtics’ starting five to the amount they’ve all played over the course of the season, plus all of last season, when they participated in 26 playoff games, and you have a truckload of minutes. Enough minutes that would add at least a little bit of weight to even the most well-conditioned player’s legs. And on top of that, there’s the emotional toll after a series that featured so many highs and lows that even the most stoic, bloodless guys had to have felt them. The Celtics are exhausted and they may be too gassed to stay with the Magic.

Or, they may be recharged and re-energized. There’s no doubt that the Celts are flying after coming out on top against the Bulls. Even for a team that has been to the heights that the Celts have reached, winning such a battle, especially while playing severely undermanned, has to be totally elating. Now, after showing the kind of heart and resolve on display against Chicago, perhaps they see themselves as world beaters and will play as such. Or maybe they’re just so happy to be rid of the Bulls (especially the hideous Brad Miller andJoakim Noah) that just seeing a different uniform on the other side of the floor will carry them. Who knows?

What is clear, or at least clearer, is that the Celts are going to have to deal with a better, more experienced group. As well as the Bulls played all series long, particularly the duo of Ben Gordon and Derrick Rose, they don’t have anyone who even approaches Orlando’s Dwight Howard. Howard, who on any particular night may well grab 25 rebounds and block seven shots, is an absolute beast, a prototypical center for this era of the pro game. As well as his will to rebound and defend at the highest possible level, he is extremely quick and is able to get around pretty much every big man he faces with ease. He has harnessed that quickness and applied it to his offensive repertoire to the tune of 21 points a game. He can post up or face up and be just as dangerous regardless.

If the Celtics want to win, they may just have to live with giving Howard what he wants. As we all know so well, the Celts’ front line is thin. Kendrick Perkins will have the task of checking Howard and he has to stay out of foul trouble, not just so there will be less need forMikki Moore and Brian Scalabrine on the offensive end but on defense as well, where each of them will be eaten alive before fouling out in 10 minutes. Big Baby Davis had one of his better games of the season against Howard and the Magic, outplaying him on both ends, but that was with KevinGarnett backing him up. Big Baby emerged as a true threat against the Bulls and the Celtics will need all they can get from him in this round, so the less time he has to spend grappling with Howard the better. Howard’s going to get his, so the Celts just have to ensure that everyone else in blue doesn’t.

After Howard, the Magic thin out. Hedo Turkoglu is their next best player, and although he has proven to be somewhat of an assassin at big moments both in these playoffs and before, he’s been playing on a bad wheel that may or may not affect him, particularly when it comes to driving to the basket. The point guard isRafer Alston, a journeyman equally capable of throwing out a great game and a stinker. Rashard Lewis, the team’s highest paid player, was quiet in the Magic’s first-round win over Philly and has appeared to be rather passive in big games. Their starting 2-guard a rookie named Courtney Lee who can really shoot, is out with a fractured sinus. No one on their bench is all that scary, unless you count Duke alum/slow, no-position, long range gunner J.J.Redick scary. Second-year big guy Marcin Gortat, did put up 11 points and 15 boards in place of the suspended Howard in the clincher against the Sixers so given the Celts’ depleted frontcourt, they may need to pay him some mind.

The point is that these are the guys the Celts have to make beat them. Despite Howard’s mammoth presence up front, the Magic are a perimeter-oriented outfit. They shoot three after three after three with a lot of screen and roll up top to freeTurkoglu and Lewis for open looks, as well as a fair amount drive and kick stuff too. There won’t be as much ball movement as the Bulls employed and Orlando doesn’t have nearly the team speed that the Bulls had. Although they will get out and run from time to time, these factors play into the Celts’ hands.Rajon Rondo, who must be considered among the league’s elite point guards after his performance against the Bulls, shouldn’t have too tough a time against Alston, and both Pierce and Allen are likely to be able to operate a little bit more freely against the Magic’s D, which won’t be as quick or aggressive as the Bulls’ was. Orlando probably caught on to the fact that Pierce’s worst moments in the last round were when he was trapped or at least doubled at the three-point line so seeing that approach won’t be surprising. And a more consistent effort from the bench, thin as it is and Eddie House’s perfect Game 7 notwithstanding, would be nice, though saying that is like hoping for rain in the midst of a drought.

So that’s what next. I’m not particularly ready to leave the Bulls series behind just yet (and by the way, as great a series as it was, and man was it amazing, it was not one of the best series of all time for the simple fact that it was just the first round – move it up a couple rounds and we’re onto something) but as gratifying and meaningful as it was, it’s now history. It was one step, even if it felt like 20. And now, another task is at hand. It’s a task the Celts will handle – they take the Magic in six.

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Classic Stuff on a Hot Sunday Afternoon

by Kevin on April 27, 2009

By Jeremy Gottlieb

Four games down and it feels like 24. One blowout sandwiched among three total nail biters, the most recent of which was an absolute classic. What more can the Celtics and Bulls possibly give us? Yet there are at least two, potentially three more games to play (and believe me, this series is going seven) and if those games follow anything close to the same path the rest of the series has, ESPN Classic may have to rethink its strategy of showing nothing but reruns of the World Series of Poker. The series has had its fair share of intriguing plotlines, from the explosion of Derrick Rose to Rajon Rondo’s taking the next step, to Paul Pierce’s surprising amount of lethargy in three of the four games to the emergence of Joakim Noah as a supervillian (the thought here is that he’s involved in at least one fracas before the series is over). And as entertaining as each of the first three games were in their own ways, none of them combined added up to what we got from Game 4, a relentlessly “can you top this,” type of contest that alternately blissfully and painfully seemed to never end. It was playoff basketball at its finest, one of the best, most competitive games of the year, a true test of wills that ended with the Bulls winning 121-118 in double overtime.

Early on, things were mundane at best. It took Pierce, who was absolutely blistering hot to start Game 3, until almost halfway through the second quarter to score his first points. Kendrick Perkins, who seems to have Noah’s number in the low post, was the Celts’ most reliable option at this point, and he, along with Rondo, carried the load while Pierce was taking his time waking up in time for the noon central time start and Ray Allen got untracked. Meanwhile, as happened so often during the season, the bench turned a slim, first quarter lead into a 16-2 Bulls run practically on cue in the early stages of the second quarter. It was quite dispiriting to see Stephon Marbury and Mikki Moore, after each of their solid performances in Game 3, return to the ranks of the irrelevant at best, hopelessly lost/overmatched at worst.

The Bulls were certainly not the same team that stunk out the gym in Game 3. They were much looser, more focused and calmer. Their energy, which was nonexistent Thursday night, gave the Celts fits, especially on the defensive end, particularly when it came to Pierce. And speaking of energy, the game also marked the official emergence of Tyrus Thomas as a certifiable beast. Thomas was all over the place, adding to his league-leading playoff blocked shot total, in on every rebound, ferocious on defense, particularly down low and pretty much just jumping through the roof. All the talk about Rose and his enormous talent is certainly justified, but if Thomas, who also has hit a few big shots in the series, continues to develop, he will be an all-star several times over.

Pierce and Allen both hit a few shots in the waning stages of the first half but for the Celts, it was all about Rondo. He hit the break with 11 points, six rebounds and six assists, and continued to be the best player on the floor wearing a green uniform. On defense, he was a one man swarm, holding Rose pretty much in check (at least temporarily) while keeping up his furious pace on the glass and doing all of the little things that any team needs to win. On the ABC telecast, both Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy were falling all over themselves praising Rondo for everything short of doing cartwheels, all of it perfectly justified. And even though Pierce made just three of 10 shots and Allen took only four in the half, the Celtics were ahead going into the locker room.

The second half started quite similarly to the first, with the Celts confounding propensity for sluggish starts rearing its head again. They missed nine of their first 10 shots in the third quarter but were bailed out by the Bulls’ youth and inexperience. The hosts couldn’t get out of their own way, committing seven turnovers and sending the Celts to the line 12 times in the quarter. Worse, Rose was playing passive which made up for the facts that Pierce again couldn’t get going and Big Baby, such a crucial offensive weapon for the Celts since his man doubles off him and he’s wide open all the time, was suffering through a horrendous shooting day. It seemed as though the Bulls wouldn’t be able to capitalize on their best chance of the day to send the Celts home and the Celts took advantage when Pierce got hot toward the end of the quarter and they ended the frame on a 12-0 run.

The fourth quarter was when things started to enter a different realm. Big Baby and Bulls’ big man Brad Miller got into a near-scuffle and it ignited Rose. Suddenly, the player who owned Game 1 was back. Rose was trying to take the game over and if it wasn’t for Rondo, who was careening toward another triple-double, he may well have done it. Meanwhile, Perk, who averages 1.5 moving pick fouls per game, committed his second one of the game and fouled out. I love Perk and how he’s developed over the past couple of years, but it would not be asking too much for him to learn how to set a legal screen. Anyway, his expulsion from the proceedings robbed the Celts of their only real shot blocker and their second best rebounder (if anyone wants to argue that Rondo is not their best right now, please feel free to bring it). This lack of a defensive presence in the paint opened things up for Rose even more and he took advantage.

Down the stretch, with Rondo still controlling things and Big Baby’s shooting struggles extending into the post, where he missed three layups between the final quarter and second overtime, Allen started to make his presence felt. He hit a three in the final two minutes so naturally, with the Bulls up three with just under 10 seconds to play, it seemed a foregone conclusion that he’d be getting the ball. What wasn’t so obvious was that the Bulls defense on the play would be so bad. Both Noah and Thomas got caught in a screen set by Big Baby and Allen’s look from the right wing was wide open. He buried the shot and we were on to the first OT.

Soon after extra session No. 1 began, Rondo had the triple-double. He’s now averaging one for the series, only the fourth player to ever do that, and the first Celtic since Larry Bird in 1986 to have two in the same series. Allen drilled a couple more from long range and Rose was beginning to lag. When they went up five with two minutes left, it felt like the Celts would survive. But Ben Gordon, who put on the best Andrew Toney impression in Game 2 since Andrew Toney, had bounced back from a sore hamstring to make a couple of big shots in the overtime, including a swooping runner high off the glass over both Big Baby and Tony Allen that defied logic. Ahead by two, Pierce made a free throw then missed his second one of the series that would have ended the game with nine seconds left. Just as it was a no-brainer for Allen to take the shot at the end of regulation, so too was it that Gordon would get the ball at the end of the overtime. The Bulls called his number, he barely shook free of Pierce, launched an off-balance bomb from the right wing and nailed it. What goes around comes around and we were headed for another extra frame.

There was some suspense in OT, version 2.0, but not as much as there had been. The Celtics were the team that seemed to have had its spirit broken, not the youthful, inexperienced Bulls. John Salmons, who was awful in the first half, made two big shots, scored six of the Bulls 11 points in the frame and rung up two huge defensive plays on Pierce, one a strip while Pierce was driving with the Bulls up two and the second a partial block of Pierce’s last-second three-point heave. Rose and Gordon each had a couple more big moments and even though Pierce made a huge three to cut the Bulls lead to one, making the thought of a third overtime very real with about 15 seconds left, it just wasn’t going to happen, despite the heroics of both Rondo and Allen. Both teams had multiple chances to win and both teams probably should have won before it was all said and done. The Bulls just made one more shot than the Celts did, the way it usually goes down in the best games.

So what do the Celts need to do going forward? They need Pierce to play more like he did in Game 3, for starters. Sure, the Bulls are playing him extremely well, trapping and harassing him when they can and siccing defensive maven Kirk Hinrich on him when they can’t. But his energy and intensity just don’t seem right which is very confusing. He must step up, which we all know he can if he so chooses. They also need to tighten up defensively. They were positively demonic on D in Game 3 and for stretches yesterday. But there were missed assignments and slow rotations at crucial points yesterday as well and that sort of thing needs to be eliminated.

Still, there isn’t that much to complain about. It was a very tough loss and naturally, it’s far better to be coming home up 3-1 than tied 2-2. But it was such a great game, so worthy of all the praise one can dish out, so exhilarating and infuriating and exhausting and magnificent all at once that the final outcome seems less important. It will be pretty hard for any of the remaining games to live up to Game 4. But it can’t hurt to hope.

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The Give and Go: Game 3 Breakdown

by Kevin on April 24, 2009

By Mike Brilliant and Tom Scott

Tom:

Great end to the first half. Good to see the team extend the league with Rondo on the bench. Was the celtics demise greatly exagerated?

Mike:

The Celtics were being counted out by most experts. Going in to tonight’s game, the Bulls were even money to win this series. And what about all that talk of Pierce being too tired, too run down and the victim of over 200 games in the past 20 months?

The key to the first half was Pierce getting off early and the Celtics playing their championship defense. It seemed like Boston was creating turnovers on every other possession, and they got to just about every loose ball.

Rondo turned in another awesome effort and even Marbury created a spark off the bench tonight that we all expected from Day 1.

Tom, what do the Celtics need to do in the second half to continue their success?

Tom:

Defense and ball movement. The first half defense was great. The bulls shot 33% and they were taking at least 15 seconds a possession in order to get a shot off. Keep the defensive intensity and the hustle to loose balls. On offense, it’s the ball movement. They had about a five minute stretch in the first half when it was Paul Pierce isolation offense from 2005. There’s no need to repeat that again.

Give me your two things that make you confident and two things that still concern you going forward?

Mike:

I really like how Rondo is running the team. Right from the get-go, it seemed like Rondo was running after every defensive board. Rose has received all of the publicity this series, but Rondo has clearly outplayed him. He has been the MVP of the series so far.

I also loved the way the Celtics came out and played defense. You expect it from Rondo and Perkins, but even Big Baby was moving his feet and blocking shots. The Bulls had over 20 turnovers. Many of those were self inflicted, but the Celtics force many more with their aggressiveness.

It’s tough to criticize a team that wins on the road by 30, but I’m a bit concerned about their big man situation. As noted before, Mikki Moore is a human foul machine and is really the only reserve big man. I know Scalabrine is back…but he hasn’t played in two months.

Tom Scott:

Big Baby had a great game, he is getting better and better. The man is incredibly light on his feet. He looked good with that finger roll the other day and tonight he had some nifty moves. As an aside, with NFL draft coming up, could big baby have become Antonio Gates? He’s got great feet and is quicker than he looks.
 
The other plus item was clearly the defense. They came out with much better focus on defense.  I think part of it was the “us against the world on the road” metality but the other half was effort.  They shut down the lane, challenged most shots and made the Bulls work hard.
 
On the downside, Pierce and Ray Allen had a combined total of one rebound and zero assists. They did play good D tonight but it would be nice for them to contribute in these other categories.  The Celtics’ best games this year involved these two stuffing the stat sheet
 
Prediction for Game 4?

Mike:

To beat the same team they just blew out on the road will be a tall task for the Celtics. Chicago will have three days to think about how bad they were, which should prove to be the ultimate motivation. Saying that, if the Celtics play stellar defense and the starters stay out of foul trouble, there’s no reason they shouldn’t have a good chance to win.

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Give and Go: Bum Rush the Playoffs Edition

by Kevin on April 22, 2009

By Mike Brilliant and Tom Scott

Editor’s Note: With two playoff games in the books, I’ve solicited the contributions of two former writers for the Full Court Press to chip in with playoff coverage. Last season, they gave us their back and forth opinions in a regular column called the “Give and Go”. Thankfully, Mike and Tom “the Chest” Scott are back. As noted in the past, these guys are all about the basketball.

Tom Scott:

With Game 2 over, another thriller, the question is – Are the bulls a good #7 seed or are the Celtics just a bad #2 seed?

Mike:

There have been many first round series that have been much closer than anyone expected. Off the top of my head, I can remember the Celtics being involved in quite a few. There was Cleveland back in the mid-eighties. Indiana in 1991 and 1992.

Having said that, I think the Bulls are comparable with the Hawks and the Heat who are the #4 and #5 seeds respectively. Since the acquisitions of Brad Miller and John Salmons, Da Bulls are playing well over .500 basketball. Chicago could be this year’s Atlanta.

So what is/are the Celtics’ problem(s)?

Tom Scott:

Chicago is even better than that. They might be equal to Orlando. They finished the season 14-7 since March 4th. Orlando was 15-7 and the Celtics were15-6. So clearly they came together after the trade while Rose got used to the league (what rookie wall?). They really remade that team nicely by getting rid of Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden and Nocioni. Brad Miller and John Salmons really round out the team. Salmons is playing good defense on Pierce. They are definitely a team on the rise.

That being said, Boston’s problems really arise from one major issue – Defense. The Bulls are getting transition points all of over the place by out-hustling the Celtics on the break. After the first 8 minutes of Game 2 until the end of the half, the Bulls were pushing when they could. It also helps that they are more athletic than the Celtics.

The help defense is also a problem. Without KG, they are not able to rotate quick enough and to help protect, like when Rose blew by Rondo all throughout Game 1. Then Chicago put up 115 points in Game 2 and they shot 50%. This is way above the average they allowed all season.

I also have to wonder: What happened to the bench?

Mike:

I agree. The Boston defense over the last two games has been their biggest problem. Giving up 115 points per game is not going to win you many playoff games. Also, Ben Gordon was getting far too many open looks. The Celtics didn’t really pay attention to him until it was too late. He was totally “en fuego.”

Regarding the Boston bench, they obviously didn’t do a great job in the first half of Game 2. Once Rondo and Perkins came out of the game, the Celtics blew their double digit lead almost immediately. It seems like the only players I truly trust off the bench are Eddie House and Leon Powe. Um, make that just House as we won’t be seeing Leon on the floor anytime soon after he tore his left ACL.

Rondo and Perkins were superb in the first half. Their replacements, Stephon Marbury and Mikki Moore? Not so much. I’ll start with Moore. You would think that he should be able to match up with Noah (athletic, slim build) and Brad Miller (a jump shooter). But Moore is a human fouling machine that can’t rebound and can’t seem to grasp the Celtics’ defensive concept.

As for Marbury, not only is he tentative going to hoop, but he somehow lost his outside shot. We know he can’t play on the ball defense, so the Celtics appear to be left with Sebastian Telfair all over again.

Doc Rivers didn’t do the starters any favors either. It seemed like House was the only significant bench player who received minutes in the second half. By the end of the game, it seemed like the offense was stagnant probably due mostly to fatigue. Pierce wasn’t going to the hoop at all. Then again, I’m not sure I can attribute that to fatigue or the lack of calls he’s been getting all series from these minor league NBA refs.

All that said, if there was one guy who should have played more, it’s Tony Allen. As hot as Gordon was in the fourth quarter, why wouldn’t you put Allen on him? I asked the same question in Game 1 when Rose went off for 36.

What’s your forecast for Game 3? Will the Celtics’ road woes from last year’s playoffs continue?

Tom Scott:

I agree on TA. I was wondering if he was hurt. He would have been a good matchup for Gordon and would have been useful on Rose on Saturday.

I think they can win one in Chicago but I’m not sure it will be Game 3. The crowd will be crazy and the team will definitely feed off that. I guess the biggest hope is that perhaps the Bulls will read their own clippings and may not have the same focus they had in Boston. Conversely, maybe the Celtics can rally around themselves and try to survive in a hostile environment.

Ultimately, they need the defense to be better and they need the offensive movement they had in Game 2. Ray Allen finally decided to move in the second half and it showed. In Game 1 and in the first half of Game 2, he stood around. He wasn’t doing what made him successful, i.e. coming off picks, moving and finding the soft spots.

What happened to Pierce in Game 2? He looked out of the game.

Mike:

Pierce looked like he was exhausted. How else to explain why he got his jumper blocked by a point guard, Derrick Rose, late in the game? He also was very hesitant to drive to the basket all throughout the game. Then the few times he did, the refs didn’t give him a single call.

Pierce played 43 minutes on Saturday. This is fine, because the game went into overtime, which added 5 minutes to his total. But Doc really put a lot of pressure on the starters Monday with his non-existent substitutions. I remember Doc blew a game by leaving his starters in all second half during Game 2 in 2005 versus Indiana. He’s lucky it didn’t cost him on Monday.

Tom Scott:

Pierce got outhustled on the block and the out of bounds save and looked like he was out of energy. Now with Powe out, using the bench effectively will be important. They need to continue with rotating substitutions rather than bringing on four bench guys at once. They’ll probably use Marbury on Rose but they might be better off letting him take Hinrich to the hoop and abuse him a bit. Generally speaking, Stephon and Eddie House both need to step up big on Thursday.

Coming attractions on FCP: More “Give and Go” with post-game analysis of Game 3

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Junk Food for the Celtics Fan’s Soul

by Kevin on April 21, 2009

By Kevin Henkin

Although this has nothing to do with the Bulls or even the Celtics, I thought it was worth mentioning nonetheless:

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal had a piece that embarrassingly fawned all over the Los Angeles Lakers and their semi-passionate fan base. My favorite nugget of information gleaned from the article was the fact that, according to one Los Angeles insurance carrier, at least 350 pets in the LA area are named after Kobe Bryant.

Hmm. Actually, I think it makes far more sense for Celtics fans to name their dogs after Kobe because it would provide everyone with a constant source of amusement whenever discipline was required . “Oh no! Kobe Bryant just peed all over the floor! Bad Kobe !” Or “No! No! No! Kobe , how many times have I told you not to eat your own poop!” Or “Fer Crissakes, Kobe Bryant just ran away with my dirty underwear again!” And finally: “Kobe, leave that poor woman’s leg alone! That’s disgusting!”

Moving along, some might call this the blatant recycling of old material. I prefer to view it as a fond reminiscence of those heady days of the title run of last spring. Here are some random Rolling Observations I made during a couple of the playoff games I attended last year. They’re about a few specific players that I happen to find myself missing these days:

Kevin Garnett (from Game 1 of the Cleveland series):

Anderson Varejao draws a hard foul. While at the line, the crowd starts a “Sideshow Bob” chant. It’s funny because it’s true. Sideshow Bob can’t cover Kevin Garnett either.

Leon Powe (from Game 1 of the Atlanta series):

Just when the crowd seems to be getting a little sleepy, Leon Powe wakes them up with an eye-popping jam against double coverage, including Josh Smith. I’m pretty sure Leon Powe could muscle a slam through a truck full of fast drying concrete. This from a guy who couldn’t get on the floor at the beginning of the season. Now he’s clearly an important (if unheralded outside of Boston) part of the rotation.

James Posey (from Game 1 against Atlanta):

After a Joe Johnson three, James Posey responds seconds later with his own three, then grabs the rebound on the next defensive possession. This reminds me of the words of his former coach Pat Riley offered earlier this season in the bowels of this very building. After a drubbing by the Celtics, when asked to reflect on the loss of James Posey (due to salary cap considerations), Riley said, “James Posey is a big shot, big game, big time player.” True, that.

Sam Cassell (from Game 1 against Cleveland):

Sam Cassell knocks down his first jumper after talking some smack to Delonte West. Although I couldn’t catch the full exchange, it was something about West’s mother being overweight and crashing through the wall yelling Kool-Aid.

and:

After a Cleveland miss, Sam Cassell of all people tears away the rebound and is subsequently knocked to the floor by Ilgauskas. The big Lithuanian knees Cassell in the head for good measure, but Cassell knees the Cavs in the groin by knocking down his free throws.

Coming attractions on FCP: The revival of the “Give and Go” by Mike Brilliant and Tom “the Chest” Scott

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