Monday, March 31, 2014

Bulls 107 – Celtics 102: Rondo's double-double not enough to snap losing streak

Boston – It was the same story last night at TD Garden as it’s been for most of the season, another close game but bad execution late in the fourth quarter led to another lost. This time to the defensive minded Bulls, 107-102.

Two late game turnovers and the near perfect shooting of D. J. Augustin made it lost number 50 on the year for the Celtics. It was also their fourth consecutive defeat since beating the champion Miami Heat 10 days ago.

In the first game of another home and home, Boston failed to play spoiler against an Eastern Conference playoff contender looking for better seeding late in the season.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Raptors 99 – Celtics 90: C's can't keep up with Division leading Raptors, lose second straight

Boston – Playoff inclination were loud and clear last night for the Raptors at the TD Garden. For the visitors from up north, it meant snapping an 11-game losing streak in Boston.

Two 3-pointers daggers from Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter help put the Celtics away 99-90.

For Toronto the win not only breaks a five-year-old winless streak in Beantown, but it puts them that much closer to a playoff birth, their first since 2008 and a possible Atlantic Division title. Ross finished with 24 points and Lowry added 23, while DeMarr DeRozan chipped in with 20 points in the win.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Nets 114 – Celtics 98: C's lose in BK, drop season series

Brooklyn – The Nets fed off of their home crowd and each other's energy while sporting some ‘old school’ blue and gray Brooklyn Dodgers jerseys last night at the Barclay Center.

Joe Johnson’s 16-point outburst in the third quarter proved to be the game changer when they beat the Celtics, 114-98.

Johnson hit six 3-pointers (made 6-of-8 from behind the arc) on his way to 27 points (10-of-16 overall), while Mason Plumlee added 18 points. Former Celtic Paul Pierce looked like he was on his way to a big night when he scored seven points in the first quarter but he finished with 14 points against his former team. The Nets are currently on an 11-game home winning streak and have improved to 29-10 since the start of the calendar year, the best in the East.

Babb & Celtics agree on multi-year deal

After completing two-10 day contracts, Chris Babb has been signed by the Celtics for the rest of the season on a minimum salary. first reported that the 6’5 swingman as of yesterday, had officially signed a multi-year deal. The deal includes two more non-guaranteed seasons.

It’s essentially the same deal Danny Ainge gave Chris Johnson last month. In short the two players have become trading chips for the offseason and beyond. It also gives Boston some flexibility at the wing since Gerald Wallace is out for the season with a torn meniscus in his left knee. Technically at the moment Jeff Green is the team’s only true small forward.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Celtics 101 – Heat 96: Rondo, Bradley help snap five-game skid, cool off Miami

Boston – Regular season records aside, C’s versus the two-time defending champs at TD Garden was must see TV last night. Rajon Rondo proved again why he still doesn’t like the Heat after hitting two straight running baseline floaters late in the fourth to put them away in a 101-96 Celtics victory.

Due to back spasms, LeBron James was a late game scratch from Miami’s lineup shortly before tip-off. It would have been his first and only appearance in Boston this season.

That gave Rondo the green light as he played arguably his best game since returning from ACL surgery, nearly putting up his first triple-double of the year. He finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and dished out 15 assists to help the Celtics snap a five-game losing streak and win the season series against Miami (2-1). There are one of two teams in the league that have beaten the Heat more than once this season.

Avery Bradley led the home team with 23 points, including going 6-of-9 from behind the arc (a new career high in makes and attempts). Brandon Bass chipped in with 18 points, while Jared Sullinger added 14 off the bench. Five players scored in double figures for Brad Stevens, who was prepared to face LeBron, who was coming off a 43-point performance against Cleveland just the night before.

“You just move on to what’s next,” said Stevens. “We were down 12 after the first quarter, and then we hit 60 percent of our shots the rest of the way and that’s how we won.”

The Heat, who had six players in double figures, shot 40 percent in the second half, including Dwayne Wade going 7-of-17 for 17 points. Udonis Haslem finished with 14 (12 of them came in the first 12 minutes of the game) and Chris Anderson added 16 points and grabbed 8 rebounds off the bench for Miami, who are 4-6 in their last 10 games. The Heat are still three and a half games behind the Pacers for home court throughout the playoffs.

The Celtics started off the night making just 9-of-27 shots in the first quarter and were down 34-22 going into the second frame. The Heat had led by as much as 14 in the first half before Bradley and Sully got it going, hitting 3-pointers that cut the lead to a 59-53 deficit at halftime.

“I just have confidence in my shot,” said Avery as the Celtics climbed out of an early hole. “We didn’t only execute at the end of the game but we played great defense.”

Boston outscored Miami 27-19 in the third quarter, and had a 78-80 lead going in to the fourth quarter. With 2:32 left, Rondo found Jeff Green who made a 3-pointer that broke a 94-94 tie. The Heat never lead again. Celtics’ captain hit his signature running ‘tear drop’ from the baseline. It was crucial bucket to put Boston up 99-94 with 1:44 on the clock.

Wade made a put back off an offensive rebound to make it a three-point game with 1:32 remaining. Both teams couldn't convert on the next two possessions before Rondo connected on another running floater on the right side, this time blowing by Wade and putting the ball high enough that Bosh couldn’t even reach it with just over 18 seconds left for the game winner. It capped off a great comeback for the home crowd.

Before banking the two huge shots at the end of the fourth Rondo had missed his previous four attempts, something he patiently continues to work on daily.

“That’s the most frustrating part of my game that hasn’t come back,” he said of sinking those floaters near the basket. “I expected it to be there. I made two tonight and have to continue to work on it.”

The Celtics will travel to Brooklyn Friday night to take on Paul Pierce and the red hot Nets. They look to make it two in a row as tip-off is at 7:30 PM at the Barclay’s Center.

Game Notes:
The Celtics outscored the Heat in the second half 48-37 and shot 51 percent to Miami’s 49 percent for the game. Avery Bradley started for the first time in the backcourt with Rondo since coming back from his ankle injury.

Joel Pavón  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mavs 94 - Celtics 89: Mavs spoil C's St. Patrick's Day comeback

Another close game. Another Celtics loss.

Dallas Mavericks won its eighth straight home game Monday night at American Airlines Arena against Celtics, 94-89 and set a franchise-record.

Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis led the way for Dallas. Nowitzki scored 19 points and had six rebounds. Ellis scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Nowitzki and Ellis both hit crucial shots late in the fourth quarter to close the door on the Celtics' late game comeback.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Knicks 116 – Celtics 92: Rondo-less C’s lose to NY, drop two in a row

Boston – Just 24 hours after the Celtics couldn’t keep pace with Indiana, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks came into TD Garden last night and dominated for their fifth straight win, 116-92.

It was the worst home lost of the season for Boston, and their worst home defeat in seven years.

Anthony scored 19 of his 34 points in the first 24 minutes after hitting his first three 3-pointers four and a half minutes in to the first quarter. The Knicks jumped out to a 25-10 lead and they never looked back as they cruised past the Celtics.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Celtics 118 – Pistons 111: Rondo, Green & Humphries help C's win two in a row

Boston – Ever heard the saying ‘sharing is caring?' The Celtics demonstrated that and more last night when every player that entered the game recorded at least one assist that lead to a 118-111 win over the Pistons at TD Garden.

Rajon Rondo had 18 of Boston’s season high 38 assists and the home team only committed five turnovers total. The captain also added 11 points and did not turn the ball over once Sunday night.

Jeff Green had it going in the second half as he finished with 27 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field. Kris Humphries scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Celtics 91 – Nets 84: Rondo & C’s Snap BK's win streak

Boston – After what can only be described as an embarrassing loss on Wednesday to the Warriors, Celtics spoiled the second return of Paul Pierce by beating the Nets 91-84 and snapped their losing streak.

Brooklyn never led in this game and the Celtics were in control all night and led by as much as 18 in the second half. Rajon Rondo flirted with a triple-double. He had 20 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds.

Jeff Green added 15 points and Jerryd Bayless chipped in by adding 14 points in his fourth straight start for Boston. Kelly Olynyk once again played the sixth man role and contributed with 13 points and seven rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth. Jared Sullinger finished with a game high 12 rebounds in the win.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Warriors 108 – Celtics 88: C’s can’t fight off the Golden State

Boston – It was one of those rare nights when there were things in the arena that were more exciting than the actual game.

From the crowd chanting ‘Let’s go Tupac’ when a look-a-like of the late rapper was shown on the jumbo-tron, to the classic ‘Scalabrine’ (now an assistant coach with Golden State) chant that all who frequently attend Celtics games in the last seven years have grown accustomed to.

In any event last night’s 108-88 loss to the Warriors, was not pretty at TD Garden.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ainge sheds light on Rondo and his #44

Just when we all thought ‘Birthday-gate’ was dead and buried, it rears its ugly head one more time.

ESPN Boston is reporting Danny Ainge confirmed today that Rondo had told both him and coach Brad Stevens of his plans to stay in Los Angeles one extra day after a loss to the Lakers, to celebrate his birthday and that he was not traveling with the team to Sacramento.

The point guard was not scheduled to play the following day (the second game of a back-to-back), while his teammates suffered a loss to the Kings. It has also came to light that the Celtics captain was advised that it wouldn’t be a good idea to go ahead with his plans.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Time to put the 'Rondo-Birthdaygate' behind us

It took five days, but turning the page on Rajon Rondo's absence from the Celtics trip to Sacramento last Saturday, was easier said than done.

It was reported that he stayed in Los Angeles after a Friday night loss to the Lakers, with his wife, kids and mother, and others to celebrate his 28th birthday. Although he was not scheduled to play in Sacramento, he did not accompany his teammates and he didn’t have permission.

Rondo started for Brad Stevens Monday night in Utah, scored 18 points, and handed out 10 assists in 33 minutes. What he didn’t do was offer up any explanation on an already developing story about staying the extra night. He only stated:

"We already talked about it,” he said. “There’s nothing to talk about.”[Boston Herald]

Once the story broke in the Boston Herald on Tuesday, it made national headlines, and the Celtics captain was being crucified like never before. Danny Ainge remained confident that it would be handled internally and it was not a big deal that the media and fans had sought it out to be. Rondo claimed management knew about his prior plans, but did he get the 'OK' or just mentioned it in passing to coach Stevens?

By Wednesday, it was clear that this was not a dead issue, and folks in the media had dubbed it ‘Birthdaygate’ and they were still looking for answers. Even if Rondo refused to give them any. Danny was a few thousands miles away on a college scouting trip, so everyone was going to have to wait. A conversation between both parties was set to take place, but it was unknown when.

Meanwhile the Celtics were back at home looking to break a five game losing streak when they took on the Hawks. Brad Stevens was questioned again about his point guard as he claims he indeed talked to Rondo before the team departed LA on Friday.


Some cracks in the case, but no comments from the man of the hour because he once again declined to talk to reporters. After a 22-point, 11-assist performance and in a win against the Hawks, helping the home team snap the losing streak, the only thing left was for Rajon to offer up his side of the story. All that was needed to put this thing to rest, was a simple ‘hey sh-t happens, and there was a miscommunication on my part. My bad,’ and all would have been forgiven. Instead, after a great night at TD Garden, Rondo had this to say to reporters:

“I haven’t really read much about it,” he said. “I heard a lot of comments. Nobody knows the story, so [the media can] keep making up every story you guys possibly can.” So, then what’s the story? (A reporter asked) “It’s my business, “ Rondo replied. “It’s my choice. [ESPN Boston]

That did not sit well with fans, nor members of the media Thursday morning.

But yet what had we learned up to that point? Rondo’s stubbornness can be a gift and a curse. He handled talking to media the wrong way. He was at fault for not putting this really small issue to bed as soon as possible, even though he hadn’t had a conversation with Danny yet.

Rondo didn't need the negative press. It was the incident that the Rondo haters have been waiting to pounce on all season. It’s too bad no one is talking about how we are slowly starting to see the old Rondo on the basketball court.

For the month of February, Rondo is averaging 15.3 points, 10 assists, 5.1 boards, 1.6 steals. As for his often criticized shot, Rondo is shooting 49 percent from the field (including 40 percent from 3-point range) and an impressive 84.2 percent from the free-throw line!

‘Oh but the Celtics have only won three games when he is in the lineup' (said by the Rondo haters) OK, you either want the team to ‘tank’ (the majority that really don’t watch this team, only listen to sports radio) for good picks or you want the team to win, so that they become mediocre.

You can’t have it both ways, so I say shut up and watch the games if you are a fan and enjoy the fact that this Celtics point guard could be back and become an even bigger threat than he was before his injury.

On Friday it was announced by Ainge that Gerald Wallace had torn a meniscus and had bone spurs in his ankle, and he would need surgery right away, meaning he will miss the rest of the season. He also mentioned he had cleared the air with Rondo about the ‘big news' of the week. Ainge did not say if the guard would be fined or if he was disciplined already, but he did say the situation had been resolved;

“It was between Rondo and I, and I learned some things that I did not know and we had a long conversation about it and I’m satisfied with it,” said the Celtics GM. "He learned from it too. Let’s move on.” [Boston Globe]

Amen, Danny. Thank you for ending this hell week that was ‘Birthdaygate’. It was a week of bashing and rehashing old stories and rumors. We can’t continue to bring up past Rondo indiscretions just because he has been the captain for all of a month and a half.

Those other things were in the past and he was not a captain then, and clearly the Celtics higher ups have seen past all of that because they believe in him. With the job comes not only responsibility, but also learning by example. So if you want to add this to the ‘list of infractions,’ go ahead. But it doesn’t make a difference what I think or anyone else for that matter. Only one person has the final say on employee number nine.

“For those that want to assume that it was a mistake, leaders make mistakes. All leaders make mistakes,” said Ainge  “That’s just part of it. That doesn’t disqualify them as leaders. Leaders learn, too.” [Boston Globe]

Now back to you regularly scheduled programming of Red Sox and Patriots talk, at least for the Boston market.

Joel Pavón