Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: Celtics' Year of Endings & Beginnings

It's that time of the year when we all reflect what 2013 meant to all of us. As Celtics fans, we've had a fair share of ups and downs. These last 12 months have probably been the hardest in recent years because of the many changes that the Celtics went through and you can't help but think about 'what could have been.' It's only human nature to think in such a manner when things happen that are out of our control but nonetheless here's a few highlights and low-lights of this past year for the Celtics.

January 27, 2013: Celtics vs Heat (TD Garden, Rondo learns he has a torn ACL)

Even after starting the season 21-23, Celtics fans still had hope that the slow start only meant more rest for aging superstars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for a playoff run. After a loss to the Atlanta Hawks two nights before when they had squandered a 27-point lead that went into double overtime, Rajon Rondo believed he had hyper-extended his knee or pulled a hamstring in the same game against the Hawks. Little did he know, he needed further tests to determine what indeed was wrong with his right knee. After being a late-game scratch from the lineup, Courtney Lee started in place of Rondo on the Sunday afternoon game against the defending champion Miami Heat.

It's a day we won't forget anytime soon, as the game went back and fourth, news began to spread that the Celtics floor leader had indeed torn his ACL and would require immediate surgery, ending his season. By halftime the rumor was confirmed to be fact. After Rajon returned to the Garden to a standing ovation, the Celtics pulled out a double-overtime win 100-98 to beat the Heat on a day that some began to consider the beginning of the end of the new 'Big 3' era. Despite the blow to the team, Doc Rivers believed his team could still compete come April.

Three days later while the Celtics were playing the Kings, Jared Sullinger left the game in the first quarter because he was complaining about having back spasms. He was taken to a hospital where he found out he would require back surgery to repair a lumbar disk and would miss the reminder of the season.

February 10, 2013: Celtics vs Nuggets (Triple OT Sunday win at the Garden)

Boston shot 39.8% from the field and were out rebounded 65-61 against the Denver Nuggets as the NBA's two hottest teams clashed on a Sunday afternoon at the Garden. The Celtics had won six in a row and Denver was on a current nine-game winning streak. It was the wildly vets who found the fountain of youth for the Celtics. Jason Terry made a huge three-pointer (26 points off the bench) and made a defensive stop to end the game.

While KG played a season high 47 minutes and made clutch jumpers in the OT and added 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. But the player of the game was Paul Pierce. Pierce did his best Rondo impression when he went for 27 points, 14 rebounds and dished out 14 assists for a triple-double while playing 54 minutes in a 118-114 win at home. They went on to expend their streak to 7-0 in Rondo's absense and they found themselves moving on up in the standing as well.

The following night in Charlotte while playing the Bobcats, Leandro Barbosa injured himself on a drive to the hoop. It was determined that he torn his ACL and would miss the rest of the season. Another hit to the team's backcourt.

April 26, 2013: Celtics vs Knicks (0-3 & on the brink of elimination)

Boston went 16-6 in its first 22 games without Rondo but with the playoffs looming and Doc wanting to rest Pierce and Garnett, the Celtics finished 5-11 in their last 16 games and finished the season 41-40 (21-17 overall without Rondo). It was good enough for the seventh seed and a series match up with the second seeded New York Knicks. After losing the first two games at Madison Square Garden, the Celtics looked to bounce back at home in game three. It was the first Celtics game at TD Garden since the Boston Marathon bombings. At a time when the city needed to be uplifted, the boys in Green could not even score 80 points, losing 90-76 and were down 3-0. The only solace going into game four was the fact that Knicks forward J.R. Smith, who was ejected from the game would also be suspended for throwing an elbow to Jason Terry.

Two days later at TD Garden, the Celtics heard the message loud and clear: 'Win for the City.' Terry led the troops by scoring his team's last nine points in an overtime win, 97-90, sending the series back to New York and avoiding a sweep. Boston led by as much as 20 points, while Pierce played his best game of the series, adding 29 points.

On May 1, New York planned to end the series at home. The team went as far as wearing funeral attire, dressing in all black as they wanted to send a message to the Celtics that on this day its season would indeed be 'dead.' But Boston, were inspired from its game four win, had their most balanced game of the series. As five Celtics finished in double figures, including KG who chipped in with 16 points, hauled down 18 rebounds and dished out five assists, beating the Knicks 92-86 and forced a game six back in Beantown.

May 3, 2013: Celtics vs Knicks (Pierce and Garnett's last game as a Celtic)

Celtics were down 3-2 to the Knicks and were trying to become the first team in NBA history to win a series after being down 3-0, while New York was trying to close out Boston and win a playoff series for the first time in 13 years. Game six started off a lot like the first three games of the series. Celtics were down 21-5 in the first quarter. Pierce had gone one-for-nine from three point land and committed five turnovers. By the fourth quarter the Knicks were up 75-49 and all seemed lost until Boston went on a 20-0 run and left the Knicks scoreless for 4:43.

After a couple of defensive stops by Avery Bradley and free throws by Jeff Green, Knicks only led by four points, 79-75. Celtics were poised for a comeback but unfortunately Pierce missed a quick three-pointer from the top of the key and was also stripped (what looked like a foul) going to the hole. In the end it was not enough firepower to force a game seven back at MSG, Celtics lost the game, 88-80 and their season was over.

Some began to speculate if this game was indeed Pierce's last in a Celtics uniform as it was time for Danny to make a decision.

June 23, 2013: Doc's Swan Song (It's official, Rivers is heading to LA-LA land)

After weeks of speculating if Doc was leaving Boston or not, it was announced that after nine season with the Celtics (two trips to the NBA Finals and a championship), Rivers was let out of the remaining three years of his contract to coach the Los Angeles Clippers. He was set to make the same amount of approximately $21 million for the next three seasons, and also serve as the team's general manager of the franchise. Rivers' 417 wins made him the coach with the third best wins in Celtics history. In return, Boston received a 2015 first round pick as compensation. Celtics fans were left wondering how this all went down and why?

June 28,2013: NBA Draft Night (trades and picks)

The Celtics had the 16th pick in the draft but Danny decided to trade up with the Dallas Mavericks for the 13th pick in exchange for Boston's two future second round draft picks. Celtics selected Kelly Olynyk out of Gonzaga. Rumors regarding a trade involving Pierce and Garnett proved to be true when Danny Ainged pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal that sent the two future hall of famers along with Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Gerald Wallace, Marshon Brooks, Kris Humpries and Keith Bogans. The deal included draft picks from BK ( in 2014, 2016 & 2018).

With loaded talent coming in next year's draft class, some perceive the Celtics will want to 'tank' the season while Rondo recovers from ACL surgery to get a high lottery pick. Only time will tell what Ainge has up his sleeve.

July 12, 2013: Pierce, KG, JET are offically introduced as Nets (Hello Brooklyn)

After 15 seasons in green, The Truth held up a Brooklyn Nets jersey and said how excited he is to start a new chapter in his career. Kevin Garnett talks about how Pierce had to convince him to come to Brooklyn and that this was their best opportunity to win one more title. Ultimately they both mentioned their desire to end their careers in Boston, but it just wasn't meant to be. It was truly a sad day for Celtics Nation...
October 1, 2013: Media Day/Traning Camp (It's a New Day)
Not much hype or noise on this day like in years past, especially because there aren't big expectations for this team. Brad Stevens named Avery Bradley as his starting point guard until Rondo returns. Everyone seemed pretty positive, even Danny about the upcoming 'rebuilding' season. 
All players made it clear, no one is here to 'tank' this year!
October 30, 2013: Opening Night in Toronto (To 'tank' or not to 'tank'?)
After a 2-6 preseason finish and multiple starting lineups, the Celtics opened their season north of the border versus the Toronto Raptors. It was Brad Stevens' official NBA debut. The Celtics loss 93-87, and were without their power forward Jared Sullinger. Sully was suspended for one game by the team for being arrested and charged with domestic violence stemming from a September 3rd incident. All charges were later dropped.
Boston would go on to lose the next three games, starting the season 0-4 before getting their coach his first win in the pros on Nov. 6 against Utah and his former protege Gordon Hayward. The Celtics beat the Jazz 97-87 at home, and coach Stevens inserted Jordan Crawford as the starting point guard and swapped Sullinger for Gerald Wallace, two moves that would later became permanent. 
November 9, 2013: Celtics vs Heat (The 'Miami Miracle')
After beating the Jazz and Magic in the three days, Boston was looking to win three in a row and knock off the champs in the process. With several lead changes the entire game, it seemed the Heat would take the lead for good when they went up seven with less than two minutes remaining in the game. LeBron made two free throws to give Miami a 110-106 lead and a quick Gerald Wallace layup led to Dwayne Wade being fouled with less than one second left. 
After a missed free throw, Mr. Wade figured he would try to miss the second one on purpose to end the game. Except he hit noting but backboard, giving the Celtics a chance to either tie the game and send it to OT, or win it with a three-pointer. With only 0.4 seconds remaining on the clock and down 110-108, Brad Steven drew up the play of all plays. On a perfect inbound pass from Wallace to Jeff Green on the right corner behind the arc, a shot that was even out of reach of James's hands, Green hit a game-winning three-pointer. Boston had beat Miami 111-110 and The Miracle on South Beach was completed. 
December 4, 2013: Celtics vs Bucks (Third Time is a Charm)
Boston played 19 games in 30 days, including six back-to-backs in the month of November and went 7-12 in that span. No other NBA team had reached 19 games by the end of November. The Celtics finally beat the Bucks at home after three tries 108-100, and grabbed first place in the Atlantic Division at 8-12 where they would remain for the next three weeks.
December 8, 2013: Celtics vs Knicks (The Start of Reunion Week)
Reunion week for the Celtics began with a 114-73 victory. A 41-point win at MSG vs the Knicks on a Sunday afternoon, was the largest win by any team in the NBA this season. Two days later Boston headed to Brooklyn where they faced KG and Paul Pierce for the first time since the blockbuster trade between the two teams. Pierce came back from a broken hand helped beat his former team 104-96 at the Barclay Center.
On Wednesday Dec. 11 Doc Rivers made his first comeback to the TD Garden for the first time since leaving to coach the Clippers. The place where he called home for nine seasons received him with open arms, that included a video tribute and three standing ovations. Even after he openly admitted that he did indeed walk away from the Celtics, the Garden faithful couldn't forget all the great things he accomplished while coaching in Boston. Doc also went on to say that the best decision he ever made was the day he agreed to coach the Celtics. The Clippers beat Boston 98-88 on an emotional night.
Boston would end the week by beating the Knicks again, this time at the Garden 90-86. After blowing a 20 point lead and being down by double figures in the fourth quarter, they came back to beat their division rivals. They finish their week 2-2, by beating the Knicks twice in five days.
Decemeber 14, 2013: Rajon Cleared for Practice (Rondo watch is offically on)
After weeks of wondering when and if Rondo would be ready to come back, doctors gave the 'OK' for the veteran point guard to participate in full contact practice. The floor leader has been sidelined for almost 12 months since tearing his ACL and recovering from surgery. 
Impromtu scrimmages after practices, and workouts before games having become the norm for Rajon, even before he was physically able to return. A late January return seems to be the target and maybe a trip to the D-League might be in order to complete the rehab. In any case, it's good to see the year start and end with Rondo, who looks like he has been hitting the weight room hard as well.

Despite trade rumors and all the changes we as Celtics' fans have witnessed, the future looks bright regardless of how this current seasons ends. Boston is currently 13-18 and one game out of first place in the Atlantic division. All things considered, I believe the sky is the limit for this team, especially once Rondo returns. I hope you have enjoyed a look back on this very fasinating year for the C's. From all of us here on Causeway Street, we would like to wish you all a very safe and Happy New Year! We will see you in 2014, where anything can happen, and we difinetly see big things coming. As always we will try our hardest to continue to give you the best, we thank you once agian for all the support... much love and blessings to everyone in the New Year!

Joel Pavón

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Rondo proves he's on the right pace

Boston - It was a week ago today when it was announced that Rajon Rondo was cleared by doctors to practice. It was a step in the right direction for the rehabbing guard who looks to return to the court at the turn of the calender and by the looks of things so far, there should be no delays. The media got an inside glimpse into the progress of the all-star yesterday during and after practice in Waltham.

Despite being the subject of trade rumors the last few days, Rondo is gearing to run with his Celtic teammates sooner rather than later. That was evident more than ever yesterday after Brad Stevens ended practice. Rajon was not done practicing. Rondo and several teammates decided to run an impromptu 5-on-5 scrimmage. Now to the ordinary sports fan, you might say so what? But to the true basketball heads, the ones that played until they couldn't breathe anymore, are smiling right now.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pistons 107 - Celtics 106: Motown snaps Beantown's two game win streak

Boston -It felt like deja-vu Wednesday night when Jared Sullinger hit another huge three pointer in the fourth quarter to put the Celtics up one point, forcing the TD Garden to erupt into a frenzy. But a crucial made basket down the stretch by Brandon Jennings put a stop to the C's attempt to grab win number 13 on the season, losing to the Pistons 107-106.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Celtics, Rockets suspend trade talks for Asik

After failing to come to an agreement with the Celtics, the Houston Rockets have taken Omer Asik off of the table and are no longer seeking a deal.

Boston had offered a package of Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, and a first round pick but the two teams couldn't come to an agreement.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

ASIK TRADE RUMOR UPDATE: Latest rumor includes Bass, Lee & First Round Pick

According to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski trade talks between Celtics and Rockets for Omer Asik are heating up and that Danny Ainge could be sending Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee and a first round pick.

There are also rumors swirling around that there may be a third team involved. We will keep you updated throughout the day. Rockets have set a self-imposed Thursday deadline so a deal could be completed by the end of today.

Causeway Street 

Celtics 101 - Timberwolves 97 : No love lost as Sullinger helps Boston beat T-Wolves

Boston - The Celtics came into Monday night's game fresh from a three day lay-off, stitting pretty atop of the Atlantic Divison at 11-14. Minnestota came into the TD Garden owning an 18-point win over the C's from a month ago. This time around Jared Sullinger played more than 14 minutes and contributed with more than just three points, as Boston evened the season series by beating the Timberwolves 101-97.

On a night when Jordan Crawford (6-of-14), Jeff Green (3-of-11) and even Brandon Bass (0-of-5) all struggled from the field, it was Sully who owned the fourth quarter after hitting a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2:22 left as he had 15 points and six rebounds in the period alone. When it was all over, Sullinger led the Celtics in points (24), rebounds (11) and a career-high five assists. He also had the assignment of guarding Kevin Love (9-for26) for most of the night as well.

"He did take it up a notch at the end," Stevens said of his starting power forward. "He's a scorer. He's always been a scorer. He's been a scorer as long as I've known him. It never surprises me when scorers make plays."

Avery Bradley, who has been shooting lights out as of late, scored 19 points for the Celtics, who have won for the fifth time in seven games to hold on to first place in the division despite a 12-14 record. Love had 27-points and 14-rebounds for Minnestota, a team that has not won in Boston since 2005. He also shot poorly from three-point range going 2-for-11.

"I shot the ball good; it just didn't go in, said Love. "It was that way for all of our team...We shot the ball pretty bad the whole game. We beat that team the majority of the time we play them."

Kevin hit a 3-pointer to give Minnesota a 92-90 lead with 3:48 to play, then Jordan Crawford tied it from the right baseline. After both teams exchanged misses, Sullinger hit a dagger three ball from the top of the key to give Bosotn the lead for good.

"We made the right plays, and I happened to be the beneficiary," Jared said. "I was just wide open. I passed up a lot of shots in the third when I was wide open."

After the Sullinger three pointer, it seemed Minnestota's window was still open as Boston commited a few turnovers down the stretch including an eight second violation when Crawford failed to get over half court before time expired. The Celtics led 95-94 when Sullinger grabbed the rebound of J.J. Barea's miss and made free throws with 18 seconds left to make it a three point game. Then on a Nikola Pekovic missed dunked, Sullinger grabbed yet another rebound and made one of two free throws with 14 seconds left for the win.

Brad Stevens spoke about how the second year forward needs to play like he did in Monday's win.

"Kevin [Love] is considered an elite NBA player, and Jared is a rising NBA player. You look up to those guys, you study them and you figure out what they do to make themselves elite," said the Celtics' coach. "If there's a person in basketball that you can identify with, those are good guys to learn from."

Celtics will host the Detroit Pistons Wednesday night, as they try to avenge another lost from last month on this current home stand. Tip-off is at 7:30 from TD Garden.

Game Notes: Boston only turned the ball over 13 times compared to their season average of 18. They were impressive on the boards even though they lost the battle of the glass as they were out rebounded 51-50. Kelly Olynyk in his second game back from a sprained right ankle scored nine points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 13 minutes, while Kris Humphries returned from a bruise right knee and contributed a solid eight points (4-of-5 from the field), and seven rebounds in 21 minutes. The Garden crowd recieved the former Northeastern star J.J. Barea well, as he had a double-double 10-points and 11-assists.

Joel Pavón

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Celtics reportedly interested in Omer Asik

Celtics are interested in acquiring Omer Asik, ESPN's Marc Stein reported Monday morning.

The Houston Rockets have decided to trade Asik and want him dealt as soon as this week. It's been reported all season long that Asik is unhappy in Houston. With Dwight Howard in town, the two centers have struggled to be productive while both on the floor.

Houston has reportedly expressed interest in forward Jeff Green. But according to Marc Stein, Celtics are hoping to deal Brandon Bass, who could interest the Rockets. The Celtics have nine first round picks and could be willing to send more than one to Houston in exchange for Asik.

Houston Chronicle's Jonathon Feign reported Sunday that Houston's general manager Daryl Morey "hopes to come away with either a strong defensive wing who can catch-and-shoot, a power forward who can fill in as a back up center, or expiring contracts that come with first-round picks - or some combination of those assets."

Asik is a seven-foot rebounder who can also protect the rim. He proved to be a double-double machine when he averaged 10 points and 12 rebounds a game last season for Houston.

An elite defender is a piece that the Celtics are going to need in this rebuilding phase and Asik fills that need. Celtics haven't had a defensive-minded center since they traded Kendrick Perkins, ultimately forcing power forward Kevin Garnett to play center.

Asik has a $14 million tag for next season. If Celtics complete a deal involving Bass, they will be in good shape to pay for Asik's services for the remaining season and through the 2014-15 campaign.

Monday, December 16, 2013

This past week's Boston, Brooklyn, L.A. reunion

Boston – It’s been an interesting NBA season thus far, for Celtics’ fans. Weather you want them to ‘tank’ this year or succeed, you can’t help but be intrigued by this team, as they are currently first in the Atlantic Division. Let’s be honest a lot has to do with slow starts of New York and Brooklyn. Boston has been a product of their environment, but nonetheless the games have been fun to watch, especially the ones that end with a W.

There have been times of frustration but after an 11-14 start, some may start to wonder, what will happen once the floor general Rajon Rondo returns?   There are still a few more weeks before we cross that bridge. But in the meantime you can’t not help but mention Jordan Crawford and what he has done so far, when the Celtics come up in conversation. He is having his best year so far as a pro. Since Brad Stevens has inserted him as the starting point guard, he has been averaging 14 points 5.5 assists (career high) and three rebounds while making 45% of his shots.

“Crawford has done a good job of recognizing his strengths and recognizing his teammates' strengths,” says the NBA’s youngest coach [grantland.com]

Jeff Green is having what some may say an ‘all-star’ type season, averaging 17 points (career high), 4.4 rebounds and shooting 46% from the field. It’s been quite the adjustment for the first year NBA coach. But playing 19 games in 30 days for the month of November, including six back-to-backs is certainly a great way to get to know each other as a team. These young Celtics have accepted the challenge.

“I think the first month of the season was a real true test for us,” said Gerald Wallace, who has been moved to the bench after the first four games of the season. “We had some setbacks, and we’ve came back from that, so I think we’ve gotten a lot better. That whole month of November was probably the best thing that could have happened to us as a young team.”
The Celtics are coming off of ‘Reunion Week’ where they met Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Doc Rivers for the first time in the regular season. They finished 0-2, with opportunities to win both games. The only solace in the four games played in the last seven days was ending the week with two huge wins against the rival New York Knicks.

It included a 41-point blowout win last Sunday at Madison Square Garden, the largest win by any team in NBA so far this season. All former teammates have gone through their battles though before they met last week.

The Brooklyn Nets had high hopes this season of knocking off the Heat, when they completed a blockbuster trade with Boston this past summer, acquiring two future hall of famers and willing to pay a luxury tax upwards of $90 million. But before facing the Celtics, the Nets started off 5-14(fourth in the Atlantic). Deron Williams, their star point guard, had missed 10 of 11 games, while Paul Pierce had missed five due to a broken right hand, and role players like Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko have also been sidelines with no real timetable set on their return. With various other injuries to Brook Lopez, and resting KG, Brooklyn had yet to find any consistency, not to mention first year coach, and former point guard Jason Kidd was having friction with his coaching staff.  

After Kidd was fined $50,000 for asking his back up point guard to run into him, forcing to spill his soda onto the court because he ran out of timeouts during a game, things only got worse. The Brooklyn fans had seen enough especially after a 25-point lost to the crosstown rivals, the Knicks at home, where boos were raining down from the stands. KG who is averaging a career low in points (6.9) and shooting percentage (37%), but believes staying positive is key.

“We’re continue to show progress in practice," says Garnett.  "We’ve got to somehow transcend this over, carry over to what we do and what we talk about as far as schemes. We work on things with that game plan and teams are shooting the hell out of the ball. It’s a process, man.” [Boston Globe]

Defense has also been a liability for this team. Lead assistant coach Lawrence Frank was hired to run defensive schemes like he did so well for Doc in Boston. It’s clearly been documented that Kidd has had issues with Frank, going as far as demoting him after a blow out that was heard throughout the Nets practice facilities even though it was behind closed doors. It’s been reported since then Lawrence has hired attorneys to try and negotiate a buyout with the team.

Gerald Wallace who played in Brooklyn last year, still keeps in contact with some of his former teammates and gets asked by the media about his thoughts on their situation;

“The first month is always going to be hard, especially with a new coach and they’ve got a new system, new players,” said the former Net. “Everybody is trying to figure out and learn their roles. I think the main thing for them is getting everybody healthy and right now I don’t think they’re healthy.” [Boston Globe]

As of today, the Nets are 8-15, winning the last three out of four games. Including beating the Celtics last Tuesday night 104-96, where Paul Pierce and Deron Williams made their returns and won consecutive games for the first time all season. They then went on to beat Doc Rivers and the Clippers on Thursday night, (a nationally televised game) as KG and ‘The Truth’ got two wins over their former coach and team.

Hopefully this past week is what Brooklyn needed to save their season as they try to make a championship run.

Doc Rivers also has the pressure of a championship hanging over his head out in Los Angeles. He takes over a team that on paper is arguably the deepest team in the league. The Clippers have also been hit with the injury bug as key players such as J.J. Riddick and Matt Barnes are out for a significant amount of time, has forced them to find a shooter for the short term. Stephan Jackson has come to the rescue, they signed the free agent before Doc’s return to the Garden last Wednesday night. They were 13-8 coming into Boston, first in the Pacific Division, but in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference. It’s been an adjustment going from Boston to LA.

“I was at a place I loved and I was there for nine years. It just takes time,” said the former Celtics coach.

It’s not easy when two basketball teams occupy the Staples Center and the Lakers are the heavy favorite out of the two. The good thing is that they have allowed the Clippers to cover the Lakers championship banners when the Clippers play at home, an idea that Rivers came up with to help the home fans identify with just one team.

Doc knew what he was getting himself into when he chose to leave Boston as a ‘rebuilding’ phase was underway and an opportunity presented itself to not only coach a contender in the west, but make executive decisions for the team as well.

It was no surprise even after making an appearance on a Boston radio station stating he did in fact walk away from Boston, he still got multiple standing ovations at TD Garden.

“You make choices in your life, it happens,” said Rivers. "It was a very difficult decision to make-whether to walk away and sit a couple of years… I was afforded a great opportunity here with the Clippers. This was the first time I’ve been able to coach a team and run a team… So I thought it was the right time to take it.” [CBSBoston.com]

After nine seasons, 417 wins, two trips to the NBA finals and a 17th-banner, you really can’t be mad at one of Boston’s real winners over the past decade in a town where sports means everything. Either way I’m sure Doc is glad those two games are behind him, as there was also another reunion in Brooklyn for Doc with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the following night. After beating the Celtics 96-88, he was asked afterwards which game would stir up the most emotion he unequivocally answered Boston;

“Oh it’s harder coming back here,” said the former Celtics coach. “Playing against them, I see two guys that I love in a Brooklyn uniform. Coming back here, that’s special to me. I get to walk under a banner I helped get and see the fans and a lot of my friends. This day and a half has been a lot of fun, but it’s also been emotional, too.” [ESPN.com]

After the video tribute, the hugs and the emotions this week for all three teams, its back to business as usual. The ultimate goal for Brooklyn and LA is to be the last team standing in June. There are significant injuries to the three clubs but that should change soon. One thing is for certain, the next time these teams meet, it should be even more interesting, especially when the Nets meet the Celtics at TD Garden next month.

Rajon Rondo has been cleared to practice as of Saturday and hopefully will be ready to play once KG and Pierce make their first offical visit to the Garden in late January. Until then it’s clear that these three teams will stay connected for the time being.

Joel Pavón  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Celtics 90 – Knicks 86: Boston Finish ‘Reunion Week’ 2-2, Beat NY

Boston – After a blow out win in Madison Square Garden on Sunday, and losing a couple of close games against some familiar faces, the Celtics got the chance to close out a crazy week by beating the Knicks for the second time in five days, 90-86.

This time around Boston jumped out to a 17-point lead lost it and made a comeback from being down 11-points late in the fourth to get the win. This might have been a more rewarding win according to Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Clippers 96 - Celtics 88 : Boston couldn't spoil Doc's return

Boston - In his first return to the place he called home for nine years, Doc Rivers not only got a great reception from the Celtics faithful at TD Garden but also got a win, as his Clippers beat the home team 96-88.
Speculations were running wild through the city the last few days on how Rivers would be received after he chose to take his coaching talents across the country to LA-LA land, instead of sticking around through a rebuilding year. 
All doubts were put to rest the moment former Celtics leader stepped out of the visitor's tunnel and onto the parquet to a roar of applause from fans on their feet. It only got louder during player introductions, and of course during the video tribute at the end of the first quarter on the jumbo-tron, that ended with "Thank You Doc!" You saw Rivers trying to wipe away tears as he acknowledged yet another standing ovation. The coach who had lead the Celtics to the 2008 NBA title, had returned to an much-appreciated welcome.

"It was just a really nice day," said Rivers chocking back tears during the post game conference. "This is, it's just a classy place here...They cheer for their teams and they love their athletes. The best decision I ever made was 10 years ago, when I decided to come."

LA hit clutch shots down the stretch. Jamal Crawford scored 21 points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers 23 seconds apart to help the visiting team pull away in the final three minutes. Chris Paul had 22 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and Blake Griffin scored 18 points for the Clippers who have won seven of its last 11 games. 

Jeff Green scored 29 points against his former coach while Jordan Crawford scored 20 points and had nine assists. Brandon Bass finished with a double-double putting up 17 and 12 for the Celtics, who lost its second game in a row and went 0-2 during 'reunion week'.
"It wasn't emotional," said Green, one of just a handful of Celtics remaining from last season's team. "We were just trying to win a game, plain and simple."
Regardless of how the players want to down play the emotion, it was Doc's day to wave and shake hands, and give out hugs to the familiar faces he had gotten to know over the years. He earned that right because of what he accomplished. Whether it's because he brought a title back after 22 years, or because he became the third most winning coach in franchise history. He contributed to making the Celtics relevant again, and how could any true Boston sports fan forget that?

"I was basically useless for the first 18 minutes of the game. I thought." an emotional Rivers said after the game. "It was nice. It didn't surprise me. You've got to live here to understand that. It is an amazing fan base, it really is. And I just want everything to go well for them."

During the game Doc did what he does best best, coach. As he got 34 points from his bench to Boston's four. The Celtics led by as many as nine points in the first half, but the Clippers quickly erased it in a back and forth third quarter in which the lead changed hands five times. Los Angeles had a 85-83 lead with less than three minutes left in the game when Jamal Crawford made back-to-back 3-pointers. Boston did cut the lead to five on a Jordan Crawford 3-pointer but never got closer as Chris Paul took over the scoring duties to get LA the win.
'Reunion Week' continued for Doc last night when he faced former Celtics Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in Brooklyn. although the results were not in Rivers' favor this time around, must feel good to get those last two games out of the way.
The Celtics finish off their emotional roller coaster ride of a week by meeting the Knicks once again, this time at the TD Garden. Tip-off is Friday night at 7:30.

Game Notes:
Boston shot an awful 41% from the field, and turned the ball over 17 times that lead to 15 L.A. fast break points. While the Clippers stayed aggressive going to the line 34 times to the Celtics' 19. Kelly Olynyk missed last night's tilt, making it 10 consecutive games he has been out. He is questionable for Friday night's lineup. Kris Humphries was also a late scratch, as he was out with a bruised right knee suffered in Brooklyn on Tuesday night.

Joel Pavón

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rivers admits he walked out on Celtics team

Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers admitted he walked out on his Celtics team this past summer when he agreed to coach the Clippers.

Rivers, who spent nine years coaching the Celtics, winning one title in 2008, returns to TD Garden for the first time as a coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. He spoke to 98.5 The Sports Hub about his decision to leave and had this to say when he was asked if he walked away from Boston:
“I did at the end of the day,” he said on 98.5 The Sports Hub. “You make choices in your life, it happens. It was a very difficult decision for me to make – whether to walk away and sit a couple of years, which was another way I was leaning, or if the right job presented itself to walk away and do that. I was afforded a great opportunity here with the Clippers. This is the first time I’ve been able to coach a team and run a team. This may work, it may not work. It’s a far bigger gamble for me than anyone else. So I thought it was the right time to take it.”
It's clear that Doc wanted to take on a bigger challenge. In Los Angeles he's able to be a coach and a part-time 'Danny Ainge,' a role he's never had before.

There was lots of speculation that Rivers didn't want to be part of a rebuilding Celtics team. Ainge sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn a week after Rivers signed with Los Angeles so that may have also factored into his decision.

Rivers also said that he expects to hear some booing tonight in Boston.
“Well I’m sure there will be some, because they were booing when I coached,” the Los Angeles Clippers coach told news reporters this morning.
Lets hope he's wrong.

Nets 104 – Celtics 94: Boston finish 1-1 on its New York road trip

Brooklyn – The game was more over hyped by the media, emotions were not as high as expected. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were playing in their new home against their former team. After the smoked cleared, the Celtics had its three game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Nets; 104-94.

Boston was coming off an historic win on Sunday versus the Knicks. Paul Pierce hadn’t played a game in two weeks due to a broken hand, and Deron Williams had missed his last 9 games due to a sprained left ankle. Both returned and helped get their team a much needed home win as they beat the first place Celtics. Williams scored a season high 25 points in his return to the starting lineup, while Brook Lopez added 24.

“D-Will set the tone for how we were going to play tonight,” Garnett said.

KG finished with 11 points, just his third time in double figures this season, and grabbed nine rebounds. Pierce who came off the bench for the first time in six years after making a quick recovery, finished with four points, seven rebounds and three assists.

The Nets meanwhile, won consecutive games for the first time all season. Despite losing six straight at home, and their internal issues, this might be the turning point that this team desperately needs.

“We’re starting to get whole and it’s definitely good to have everyone back,” Williams said. “Even though Paul didn’t start, I thought he came in and gave us a big boost off the bench. It seemed like our energy level was a lot better. More intensity on both ends of the floor.”

Avery Bradley scored 22 points and Jeff Green had 19 for the Celtics, all five starters scored in double figures. But not much production from off the bench, which scored only 12 points. It was a bittersweet ending to their few days in New York.

“The players that had come back tonight, I still feel like they were a very good team. But obviously having two of their leaders as in Deron Williams and Paul, you know that definitely helps them out a lot,” Bradley said.

Pierce was expected to miss two to four weeks, but sat out only four games before returning to practice on Monday. He received an ovation when he checked in with a protective glove covering his hand midway through the first quarter. There were many Boston fans all around the Barclays Center as they cheered for Paul and the Celtics throughout the game.

Kevin Garnett gave out hugs and pats on the heads of the Celtics’ starters before the opening tip. And a huge embrace with Rondo during a break, who has said in the past that Rajon is like a little brother to him. Boston trailed 31-20 after the opening quarter and by halftime they were down 56-47.

Celtics looked like they were poised to take over the third quarter as they quickly tied the Nets 60-60, before Brooklyn went on a 10-0 run and never gave up the lead the rest of the way. Even after being down by as much as 15 in the fourth Boston got within 5 with less than two minutes to play but couldn’t make it happen as they failed to get their fourth win in a row.

“They played great tonight. Played really hard, really together. They took us out of what we wanted to do,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said about the lost.

There is nothing like a little incentive in playing your former team. The Nets and Celtics know what it means to play each other this season, not to mention the two teams are on opposite sides in the Atlantic Division at the moment. Nothing has changed after Tuesday night. Hopefully the next meeting in January will be even more interesting as it’s not only a nationally televised game, it will be at the TD Garden and more importantly both teams should be healthy.

Until then, ‘reunion week’ continues for the Celtics as they are set to take on Doc Rivers and the Clippers on Wednesday at home. Tip-off is at 7:30.

Game Notes: Boston only turned the ball over nine times to Brooklyn’s 13, but were out rebounded 42-35. The Celtics only shot 43-percent from the field while the Nets shot 56 for the game. Kelly Olynyk missed his ninth consecutive game and will be a game-time decision for tomorrow night against L.A. Joel Pavón

Friday, December 6, 2013

Celtics 108 - Bucks 100: C's grab first place, beat Milwaukee

Boston - The Milwaukee Bucks came into Tuesday night's game with a 3-13 record. Two out of their three wins had come at the helm of the Celtics and both were comeback wins after being down by double digits. This time around, Jordan Crawford made sure the home team kept the lead as they beat the Bucks 108-100.
Crawford took over in the fourth quarter at the TD Garden as he scored 15 of his 25 points to help the Celtics hold off the visitors from Milwaukee;
"We've just got to learn how to stay focused and pull out these wins...grind them out," said Crawford, who was 5-for-5 in the fourth including three 3-pointers to end the game. "I think we're getting a little better. They still made a run and made it close."
Boston was coming off a 92-85 loss to the Bucks on Saturday night in Milwaukee. Jeff Green added 18 points and Brandon Bass helped out the cause with 16 points and grabbing nine rebounds, while Avery Bradly and Jared Sullinger scored 15 and 12 respectfully, making all starters finishing in double figures.
Losing two of the last three games, Brad Stevens talked about how badly they wanted this one;
"We moved the ball side to side and inside-out better than we did on Saturday," said the Celtics' coach. "Maybe that's a little bit of karma for why the shots went in."
The Bucks had snapped an 11-game losing streak by beating the Celtics on Saturday, but could not rally from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter. O.J. Mayo scored 19, and Brandon Knight had 15 points and six assists for Milwaukee.
The win puts the Celtics at 8-12 for the season and for the time being, in first place in a not so impressive Atlantic Division, while Toronto suffered another loss to the Golden State Warriors, trail Boston by a half game.
"We're 8-12. It's not like we're lighting the world on fire," said Stevens.

The C's lead by as much as 15 points and had a 13-point lead in the final period cut to three twice before holding on for the win.
Milwaukee trailed 69-65 to start the fourth, before Crawford swished a three pointer that would ignite a 15-6 run and nearly make a Bucks comeback out of reach. Courtney Lee, who had returned to the lineup after nursing a left knee injury, made a three that made it 81-71, then was followed by another three by Crawford to put Boston up 84-71 with 7:51 left.
The Bucks put together a 13-4 run of their own and made it 90-87 on a pair of free throws by John Henson. After a Brandon Knight three pointer with 1:10 remaining, kept hope alive for the visitors as they were down 99-96, until Jared Sullinger beat the shot clocker with a jumper on the other end making it 101-96.
Stevens said that he put Sully in a bad situation on that play, but the forward pulled it off by beating the double team and making the shot his team needed to put the game away.
"It's a good player making a good play and bailing out a bad coach," Stevens said.
The Celtics are off until Friday, when the Denver Nuggets come to town. This will be Boston's first nationally televised game on ESPN, tip-off is at 7:30.

Game Notes:
Courtney Lee in his first game back from injury went 5-for-7 for 11 points in 16 minutes off the bench. Rookie Kelly Olynyk missed yet another game with a sprained right ankle, still has no turntable on his return. Before Tuesday night's game it was reported Rajon Rondo had been cleared to participate in full contact practice, it's up to him when we will make his return to an actual game.
Joel Pavón

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Celtics 103 - Cavs 86 :C's Win Big at Home

Boston - The home crowd at the TD Garden got an early holiday present last night, as the familiar sounds of the Bee Gees blasted through the sound system and the sights of a shaggy man in a bread wearing a tight tan shirt that read “Gino” began to play on the jumbo-tron. It’s been a long time coming, as the Celtics blew out the visiting Cavaliers 103-86 and Gino Time was in full affect from the fans in the stands to the players on the bench shaking their hips in a celebration of the huge win.

“Nobody told me about that,” first year coach Brad Stevens said after the win. “Maybe they thought we wouldn’t have a game out of reach.”

Rajon Rondo who enjoyed the game in street clothes has seen a lot of Gino over the years;

“They don’t know about Gino,” said the injured point guard. “We’ve got to get a couple of more wins.”

Boston jump out to 18-2 lead to start the game and never looked back. Jeff Green scored a season high 31 points, the most by any Celtic this season. While Jordan Crawford scored 11 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished out 10 assists for his third career triple-double and his first as a member of the Celtics. Avery Bradley continued his hot shooting going 9-for-11 for 21 points giving the home team its third win in four games.

They never trailed in this game as they maintained a double-digit edge the entire 48 minutes.

“We got great defensive stops to begin the game with. That’s how we got that lead,” said Green. “We are finally putting everything together. We’ve had our ups and downs throughout the season…but it was good to put an all-around good game together.”

Stevens said he was surprised to hear that Crawford had reached the milestone and called his performance “shockingly effective.”

“He had 11 rebounds?” Green asked reporters. “Jordan Crawford had 11 rebounds?  It’s good that our guards rebound. Our guards need to rebound to win.”

Dion Waiters scored 21 points while Kyrie Irving struggled with only 17 points (15 of them came in the first half) for the Cavs, who have lost their fifth straight game and fell to 1-9 on the road this season. Cleveland scored just 10 points in the first quarter, and the lost marks their eighth in nine games.

The only run the Cavs made was in the middle of the second quarter as they went on a 16-6 run to cut a 20-point deficit to 10. But the Celtics scored the next eight points, including a 3-pointer and a layup by Green.

All five Celtics starters scored in double figures, and the team shot 50-percent for the game while going 11-for-23 from behind the arc, as the team is 7-11 on the season and a half game out of first in the Atlantic Division. Next game is tonight as the team travels to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks as this 19 game schedule for the month of November (5 games in the last seven days) comes to an end.

Game Notes:

The Celtics as a team had 26 assists and grabbed 47 rebounds, as they stayed aggressive moving the ball and going to the basket the entire game. Friday night’s 23-point win marks the largest win of the season so far. Courtney Lee missed last night’s game due to a sore left knee. Kelly Olynyk missed his fourth straight game with a sprained right ankle. Boston will be the first team in the NBA to play 19 games after tonight.

Joel Pavón

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Grizzles 100 Celtics 93: Despite late game surge C's lose at home

Boston- Memphis came in to the TD Garden 7-7 and playing without the NBA's reigning defensive player of the year Marc Gasol, who is out three to four weeks with a sprained left MCL. They already owned a win from a little over three weeks ago over the Celtics and after blowing a 19-point lead late in the fourth, the Grizzles were able to hold on 100-93 for a much needed W on the eve of Thanksgiving.

One would think that Memphis' inside scoring would suffer without their big man, but it was quite the opposite. Zach Randolph scored 13 points while Tony Allen and Ed Davis each had 12 and 11 points. Kosta Koufos who started in Gasol's place grabbed 13 boards while Randolph grabbed seven.

Jerryd Bayless, who has always played well against the Celtics scored 22 points off the bench and believes the team is playing well even without Marc;

"We're playing well. Everyone's contributing. We've got to continue to do that," Bayless said of the team's effort without Gasol. "We still have Zach and Zach's a premier big man in the league. We've got to continure to get him the ball and he's capable of doing great things."

Jeff Green lead the Celtics with 26 points, while Jared Sullinger started off slow but finished with 23 points(13 of which were in the fourth quarter) and grabbed 12 rebounds. Avery Bradley added 16 points, and not much offensivly was going Boston's way.

The Grizzles garbbed the lead in the opening minutes and never trailed the rest of the way, though the C's made a late charge in the last two minutes of the game.

The Celtics trailed 90-77 with under two minutes before Sully went off and Boston figured out how to guard the paint better.

"That's why it's a game of adjusting, changing," Celtics Coach Stevens said. "If you look at the game, you give yourself a chance to win. We were never quite back in the game."

After a 49-36 halftime deficit at the halftime, Boston cut it to nine three different times in the third quarter. But Memphis's interior scoring was too much as seven of their nine baskets in the quarter came from inside the lane. Mike Miller and Bayless each hit 3-pointers in the fourth before a pair of three pointers from Sully in the closing two minutes in a 16-7 Celtics' run and eight straight points from Sullinger.

Bradley's 3 with 14.4 seconds left cut Memphis lead 96-93. But Bayless made two free throws to seal the win, and snap Boston's two game winning streak.

"They just came out aggressively and our intensity wasn't there," said Jeff Green. "We allowed them to put us on our heels and that's how they got their early lead."

Despite a great late fourth quarter comeback, the Celtics needed more offense especially from Jordan Crawford (five points and seven assists) and Brandon Bass who shot a combined 4-for-14 from the field. Next game is on Friday at home vs the Cavs and then back on the road on Saturday vs the Bucks before the worst month schedule wise comes to an end.

Game Notes:

Courtney Lee sprained his left knee in the second quarter and did not return, while Kelly Olynyk missed his third straight game with a sprained right ankle. Jeff Green addressed the home crowd at center court before tip-off, wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Joel Pavón

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Report: Celtics Would Consider Deal for Amar'e

According to Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report the Knicks are interested in sending Amar'e Stoudemire to Boston in exchange for a big man and others.

The report states that Celtics are looking to move Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries to shave salary cap space for the future. 

Wallace is guaranteed his $10 million a year until 2016 and while Humphries is guaranteed his $12 million for only this season, he's a serviceable big man who could help the Knicks with rebounding. 

Center Tyson Chandler will be out for a significant amount of time and coach Woodson has restricted Stoudemire's minutes on the floor.

Knicks are desperate to move Stoudemire's contract for players who can come in and contribute this season. Carmelo Anthony can opt-out of his deal and become a free agent next summer. 

There has also been talks that the Celtics could also look to move Courtney Lee's contract. Lee's contract keeps him in Boston until 2016.

Celtics should pass on this offer and wait for a better deal down the road. But tank-wise it makes things better for the Celtics. Wallace has emerged as a leader on the team who is Boston's best defender. Knicks will have to take Wallace's contract in order for the deal to go through. 

If Danny Ainge pulls the trigger on this trade consider it a clear cut sign that he's aiming for a lottery pick in June.

Josue Pavon

Spurs 104 Celtics 94: San Antonio cruise to eight in a row, Celtics drop its fifth straight

San Antonio – The Celtics were coming off a four game skid going into the AT&T Center last night and were handed another to add to the loss column. 

The Spurs handed Boston its fifth straight loss and won its eighth straight, remaining undefeated at home and 10-1 overall.  

Jeff Green, in his previous three games was shooting a combined 6-for-25 from the field but scored 19 points against San Antonio. Meanwhile Tony Parker scored his 19 points and dished out five assists; leading the way to a 104-93 win. 

San Antonio had 27 assists and six players in double figures, rallying from a slow start to lead by as many 19 in the second half. Manu Ginobili who finished with five points and six assists, knows the importance of moving the ball, leads to better shots;

“Those moments when we start to play better ‘D,’ push the ball and be more aggressive, then it’s fun to watch, it’s exciting and it’s what we need,” the Spurs guard said. “We pass the ball really well. We penetrate and pitch, and everybody gets involved and that’s fun.”

There were 10 different lead changes and 14 ties in the first half, as neither team was able to maintain any momentum. But the Spurs shot 48% from the field and were 8-for-21 from behind the arc as Boston struggled to close on San Antonio’s shooters.

Jared Sullinger, who got his first start of the season, had a great night going 8-for-17 from the field putting up 19 points and grabbing a career high 17 rebounds. Sullinger said it was exhausting trying to keep up with the Spurs ball movement;

“Phew;” Said the Celtics forward “They’re a tough team to play. On any given night, anybody can go off. Honestly, they move the ball. They care less about scoring…They have go-to players but they hardly ever use them because they move the ball so well and play as a team, so they are hard to guard.”

Besides Sully’s double-double, Avery Bradley continued his great shooting going for 19 points, and Jeff Green finally broke out of his slump. 

Brad Stevens was pleased with the first half production of his team as they were all tied 48-48 after the first 24 minutes, considering how poorly they played in Houston the night before.

The team that played tonight could be a really fun group to work with,” said Stevens. “I think that’s what you take from here. We talked about this early in the year. There’s going to be nights where we measure progress a little bit differently.”

Boston couldn't slow San Antonio down when they began to pull away midway through the third quarter behind the great shooting of Kawhi Leonard (16 points) and Tony Parker. Leonard scored 10 of the Spurs first 12 points to start the second half and put his team up ahead 61-52 with eight minutes left in the quarter. The Celtics ended the period outscored 32-22.

Despite the Celtics’ defense slowing down, Tim Duncan, who went 3-for-13 from the field, and Parker sitting out the entire fourth quarter wasn't enough for Boston to make a comeback in the final 12 minutes. Danny Green (11 points) who had not made a single shot in the first half, woke up in the second half and so did the rest of San Antonio’s role players.

Boston will make a return to the Garden on Friday to face against the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference, the red hot Indiana Pacers. Tip off is at 7:30.

Game Note:
The Celtics continue to turn the ball over as they committed 17 last night (averaging 16.9 for the season), which lead to 20 Spurs’ points. San Antonio and Indiana have the league’s best record as they are the only teams to have lost only once at 10-1

Joel Pavón