Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Celtics reign atop Eastern Conference!

Although they've failed to best Chicago & Miami respectively in meetings thus far, the Boston Celtics have lifted themselves into the #1 spot in the Eastern Conference.

They are currently 21-7 and riding a 5 game win streak (current highest streak in the East) as they tackle yet another elite team in the west's Los Angeles Clippers (22-7), after falling to the Spurs (19-9) a while ago.

With two wins above Chicago (19-9) & Miami (19-8), Boston's momentum is taking them places and the added help from surging reserve Josh Howard as of late (3 games above 20+) and the erratic yet phenomenal play of their stars is certainly part of the reason for it. Even more auspicious is the record for their last 10 games (8-2) compared to their adversaries, Miami (4-6) and Chicago (6-4).

Flashes of greatness can easily betray focus, but undoubtedly Boston is now playing their best ball of the season. As the road gets tougher and they face a more diverse series of opponents, can the reigning Celtics continue to turn heads up to the championship banners that grace the rafters of the TD Garden? Well, let's not get THAT ahead of ourselves.


Celtics have 'magical' 3rd quarter against Orlando.

After a sluggish effort in the 1st quarter and a 28-19 start by Orlando, the task of beating the home team seemed daunting for Boston. By halftime, however, the score was tied at 50 all.

Then something truly magical happened, as if a containment spell fell over Boston's rim and an enlarging spell stretched Orlando's really wide. Shot, after shot, after shot, after shot, was easily tossed into the basket by the unstoppable Celtics.

Yet Orlando barely scored 17 to Boston's near double of 33 in the 3rd, elevating the visiting squad with an 83-67 lead going into the final and hopeless quarter for Orlando. With a stunned crowd, the Magic continued to be outscored by Boston (41 to 37), capping Boston's fantastic turnaround into a 20 point victory that left the Magic with a chorus of jeers from the unfrozen crowd afterward to close the shocking festivities.

Amidst the lopsided outcome, Josh Howard (a shattering 25 points off 7 threes), Derek Fisher (9 points on 3's) and Kenyon Martin (26 points, 3 blocks) carried--yes, carried--the Celtics to a victory, as the unlikely spark that catapulted Boston back into the game and then some, along with 24 solid points from beastly Kevin Garnett and 9 assists from Rajon Rondo, who sat out the rest of Orlando's flattening deconstruction with only 5 points. The Truth chipped in 16 points on efficient shooting as well, but despite good shooting overall by the starters, this game belonged to the bench.

Sadly, what looked like a dominant home win for the struggling Magic (33 by Al Harrington, 21 by Arron Affalo, 30 and 12 assists by Jameer Nelson) obviously got bewitched--or B. Celtic'ed.

Celtics (20-7) outrun Pacers and pull off surprising rout.

The Pacers raced up and down the court, to score and from downtown, but in the 4th quarter they tumbled and Boston took their "pace" to make it their own with a crippling 60% improvement in field goal shooting. The home team made Indiana's collective head spin with 9 dizzying fast break points, mimicking the Pacers for their raucous playing style that unfortunately led to many missed shots down the stretch on Indiana's side.

Efficient shooting by Indiana and spirited overall play posed quite the challenge for Boston to overcome, but overcome it they did. In what looked to be an energetic steal on the road for the Pacers, led by DJ Augustin (34 points, 8 assists) and Paul George (18 points), with Roy Hibbert (10 points, 12 rebounds) locking things down in the paint, the stars of Beantown came ready for the dance and to please the crowd.

Rajon Rondo had another huge game, scoring 27 total (11-19 shooting), along with 17 by "The Truth", who rained in some crucial 3's down the stretch, along with Derek Fisher when Indiana's mad dashes were scorching up the court. Keeping with the theme, rookie Jared Sullinger attracted scarce defensive attention from the Pacers and gave them two well-timed three pointers to mull over, impressively doing his part to raise Boston's lead to a sweeping margin of victory in the 4th, along with Kenyon Martin (10 points). Despite low scoring by Jason Terry, Josh Howard sank a couple of 3's in his place and even Fab Melo put in 6.

Celtics (19-7) tame wandering Wolves

The Celtics outscored Minnesota 24-15 in the 1st quarter, but Minnesota made things interesting with a few runs down the stretch, only to come up short in Beantown.

Boston was led by Paul Millsap, who jumped to the rim every chance he got, devouring 18 points & 11 rebounds with virtual effortlessness. It might be fair to say intuition or the fitting 'Luck of the Irish' was on Boston's side tonight, as those in green managed to find themselves in perfect position for important rebounds, second chance points and thunderous rejections at the basket.

Returning to the floor after a breather against the troubled 76ers, Rajon Rondo gave the crowd a few chills, and not of the "ooh and aah" variety, bricking up a few more than approved jump shots before finally taking the hint (5 points on yucky 2/14 shooting).

Rondo's divisive reckless nature failed to poison Boston's victory tonight, though Minnesota gave a strong effort, mostly in sophomore sensation Ricky Rubio (30 points) and Luke Ridnour (23 points), as well as AK-47 (16 points) on some corner 3's and shots at the rim. In what became nearly a shot-for-shot festival in the 3rd quarter, the buzzer sounded and somehow Boston had conjured an 11-0 run going into the 4th, leading 85-74.

In doing so, the other Celtics compensated for Rajon's stubborn play as he failed to get the ball to his teammates more effectively (4 assists). Paul Millsap (18 points) and "clutch" Jason Terry (19 points) fueled Boston's defensive brigade at home, but it was a staggering sequence of 3 sunk free throws by Paul Pierce, due to reckless defense by the Wolves, and to make it worse, a game-shifting 3 point shot by Josh Howard (13 points) that cemented Boston's victory. Another 3 by Josh Howard late in the final minute was the icing on the cake.

PHILA fails again in Boston, lose third straight against Celtics (18-7)

It must be a "home vs away" thing, seeing as the Sixers battled their hearts out at home early in the year against Boston, but since have turned in two weak showings on the road.

So weak, that Rajon Rondo stayed in the news columns for steamrolling through Memphis in Boston's last game and was kept on the bench for this less-than-competitive cruise through late night Beantown. So did Paul Pierce, in fact, after missing a couple of shots. When a 20 point lead is staring back at you, it's not always worthwhile to hoist up a jumper over Andrew Bynum (12 points, 15 rebounds) or drive straight into said mac truck if you're the antidote to the Grizzlies, either.

Accordingly, Boston's reserves got some time in the spotlight, warding off a modest but unbecoming effort from Philadelphia, their leading scorer being J Rich, the aging traveler picked up (along with a hefty contract) in the Bynum acquisition. Clearly, Bynum has to give stronger effort if Philly hopes to win when the others are failing to do it for him.

In a less than compelling game, Josh Howard soared to new heights with 22 points and Rajon-substitute, Derek Fisher tried to match him with 20 of his own, leading Boston's play making duties with Rajon roasting marshmallows on the bench. 11 from Kenyon Martin and 10 from Avery Bradley also contributed to the breezy win against Philadelphia.

Boston (17-7) gives Memphis the blues in defiant road win.

Nothing could stop Rajon Rondo (41 points) and his tenacious Celtics, who trudged on through a seemingly perpetual 10 point deficit against the lively Grizzlies to strut out of Memphis with an encouraging victory.

After battling back for an eternity that was filled with stellar shooting by the home team, Boston (whose shooting was also solid, but simply not as good) finally took a lead of their own in the 4th quarter once the hot shooting of the Grizzlies fizzled for the much needed lapse that the Celtics had been aching for since the end of the 1st quarter.

The comeback was led by Rondo (as expected of a star PG), but Paul Millsap (21 points) powered the collectively fueled resilience, while Pierce, Terry & KG chipped in a modest 10+ respectively. With the scores flipped for the final quarter, Memphis pugnaciously gave Boston a brief scare when they broke the still wet lead to 2, only for the defiant Celtics to reestablish their focus and charge their lead back up to comfort after a much needed timeout.

The same determination that broke Memphis of their lead earlier proved to be efficient once again, as the Grizzlies failed to finish that comeback of their own while Boston continued to play well in the final minutes, despite heroic efforts by Mike Conley (31 points) and Rudy Gay (20 points). A weak showing by Marc Gasol contributed to the loss for Memphis, as well as failing to crack down a defensive barricade around the dazzlingly inconsistent yet explosive Rondo.

Windy City blows visiting Celtics (16-7) out of town yet again.

Despite dishing out 10 assists, Rajon Rondo was a deflating 7 of 21, cancelling out the 10-17 effort from Boston's scoring leader, Paul Pierce (29 points), but "the truth" was clear in Chicago: Boston had been out-shot, out-rebounded and out-matched for a second time.

In what Boston hoped would turn into a payback performance for the blowout loss earlier in the season, Chicago's core of Derek Rose (14 assists, 21 points), Rip Hamilton (playing like a 2004 Piston again with 22 points) and especially 7-footer Joakim Noah (25 rebounds, 34 points) had other plans.

Not much more to talk about. Hopefully, the third meeting will prove different, but it seems unlikely, despite Boston's holding of a better w/l record than the Windy City.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Boston (16-6) stifles Wizards.

Paul Pierce led the way with 21 points and the rest of the Celtics outplayed all but Nene (26 points, 14 rebounds) of the Wizards, overwhelming Washington in the 4th quarter with smart teamwork.

Aside from some early dunk contest practice in the first half by the home team, Boston came in to the nation's capital and left with relative ease once the well oiled machine got running. Not even a flurry that dared to put the visiting Celtics on their heels could rattle the Celtics, as they responded with strong, proven and calm play that raised their lead once again for good.

On the Rise: Josh Howard

Josh Howard has been a nomad for most of his NBA career, being swung to Dallas, Washington and Utah before not being called back in the off-season until Minnesota gave him a shot, only to trade him yet again to Boston.

Aside from a couple maturity issues, Howard is a skilled player that can do a bit of everything. After failing to immediately wow Celtics management with his unremarkable play upon arriving in Boston, a fire was lit inside Howard that consistently has him leaping off the bench, eager to help his team with mid range shooting ability and fearless drives to the rim, which has rewarded him with plenty of free throws, which he keeps draining with a brilliant 95.2% at the line.

Averaging 8 points per game on 47.3% shooting proficiency, Howard has found his comfort zone with the Celtics and just had his biggest game (22 points) after lurking in the 10s. Howard is currently the 6th highest scorer on the Celtics behind the starting 5 in Garnett, Millsap, Pierce, Terry & Rondo, which begs the question.

Could Josh Howard have a chance at winning the Sixth Man Award this year?

Celtics (15-6) cruise past visiting Bucks

The Bucks shot themselves into a loss while playing around on defense as the Celtics poured in shots past them.

Rajon Rondo had 15 points, but with a 20 point lead half way through the 3rd quarter, he left to go get cozy on the bench, along with the rest of Boston's starting five, who put up a modest combined effort. KG was contented with a double double (12 points and 11 rebounds on solid 6-10 shooting) and the others shot similarly well. An effortless display of dominance ensued when sixth man Josh Howard (season high 22 points) sank a 3, only for Milwaukee to cough up the ball on the inbound, which led to a second 3 point swish by Paul Pierce.

Kenyon Martin had it going, chipping in 6 points. Derek Fisher did relatively well, giving 9 points and 5 assists. Avery Bradley dipped in 8, and Fab Melo took KG's place at Center for 8 rebounds and 4 points.

Although the game degraded into a complacent 3 point shootout in the tedious 4th quarter, which saw Milwaukee cut the lead to 7 at one point, Boston clearly wasn't worried, sinking free throws with ease as the Bucks feebly tried to foul their way back into the contest they'd run away from for 3 quarters.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Rondo Seals Victory Over Thunder, Celtics Improve to 14-6

After a dissatisfying loss against the Spurs, the Celtics shipped out of the Lone Star State and traveled to Oklahoma City, where the Thunder and ecstatic fans were waiting to watch a showdown.

The game didn't disappoint. And neither did Rondo, who faltered against the Heat and the Spurs, despite crushing Charlotte by himself in between both games. The distributor of Boston dished out 9 assists and scored 28 points on much better shooting (10-22) as opposed to his terrible aim against the Spurs (5-18). The most significant of those 28 points came from Rondo swallowing the divisive fear of possibly missing two shots in the final minutes of regulation and bravely firing away without worrying about the consequences.

The first was a mid range jumper that held the resilient Thunder squad at bay, because a 4 point lead is better than a 2 point lead, especially when Kevin Durant (35 points) and Russel Westbrook (18 points, 13 assists) are unconscionably letting the ball fly on the other end split seconds after getting the would-have-been rebound had Rondo misfired. The second gutsy move by Boston's leader was a layup that rattled in, despite Rondo being pummeled several times throughout the game by the big men of OKC, Serge Ibaka & Kendrick Perkins.

The last would-be dagger was a 3 in the corner as Rondo tried to formulate a play after Boston came up with a vital offensive rebound. Just enough unintentional breathing room from Westbrook and Rondo sank the score spreading long ball. Even though OKC rallied back in the final minute and only lost by 5, Rondo continued to suck up the role of being Boston's leader by sinking crucial free throws, something Kenyon Martin failed to do earlier in the tightly contested showdown.

Overall, Boston was more patient and structured with their offense. OKC was proficient as well, but Boston battled back despite a small lead by the home team. KG was in foul trouble all night (ultimately fouling out in the final minutes), but was careful enough to still be effective on the floor, chipping in a diligent 16 points on a sharp 8/11 shooting. As a blessing in disguise, the rest of Boston took up KG's absence with vigor and determination to not lose against another elite team, especially one from the western conference.

With virtually no help from the bench, the burden fell upon the starting five and they more than lived up to their salaries, and to their fans watching them at home. Millsap (18 points), Pierce (18 points, 4 three pointers) and Terry (17 points, 5 three pointers) banded together, defying the high scoring style of OKC.

Spurs Defense Lassos Celtics

What was a competitive affair through 2 1/2 quarters turned into a difference of shooting efficiency. Boston's poor efficiency tonight stonewalled any chance of keeping up with the more effective Spurs, whose shooting was far more consistently productive.

Fresh off his 54 point explosion in Charlotte, Rajon Rondo fizzled to only 15 points on an icky 5 of 18 shooting. But all the major players of Boston struggled to shoot the ball, something they can do with ease other nights, but not on this one. When Paul Pierce is the lead scorer but still hurling up bricks, the outcome is obvious.

Meanwhile, San Antonio's suffocating defense made the road for Boston all the more perilous as Tony Parker (20 points, 10 assists) and Tim Duncan (19 points, 21 rebounds) took care of the rest, outplaying their defensive counterparts by a decisive margin.

Rondo (and Boston) Obliterate Bobcats

To say Rajon Rondo had a chip on his shoulder, fresh off a disheartening loss against the defending champions, Miami Heat, would, well, be a severe understatement.

Rajon Rondo played the entire length of regulation and scored at will against the troubled Charlotte Bobcats, who fared a lot better in their first meeting with Boston earlier this season. "Scoring at will" meaning Charlotte couldn't stop him from driving into the lane, pulling up on double teams and scoring, or passing to his teammates. He cruised his way to 54 points, but it must have been a very angry ride.

Whether Rondo was upset with himself, or wanted to prove that he won't let down the Celtics again in big games, it worked and even had the Charlotte crowd chanting "MVP" as he repeatedly drained faaaaar three pointers for pure sport. The other Celtics? Well, they scored, too.

Heat scold Celtics in gritty dogfight

In a strange turn of events, the Heat catch fire late in the 3rd quarter, scorching away Boston's trim lead, sizzling into the final period with a 6 point lead themselves.

Jason Terry had 29 points (on 9 three pointers), but in a dramatic final minute, the man whose place he took knocked down two crucial free throws after Boston edged Miami's blazing lead to 6. Ray Allen, while only offering slim help for Miami otherwise, did the dirty work against his former team, the same team he might've been at the line for, seeking to narrow the Heat's lead even more. But no longer.

Boston's demise came from running a small lineup that enabled the lead-breaking run from Miami, courtesy of the dynamic trio in Wade, Bosh (22 points/20 rebounds) & LBJ (25 points). Flash crushed Boston's hopes of a comeback with 38 monster points, nearly equaling 3 combined Celtics in the scoring column. Meanwhile, Boston deviated from running set plays and firing up seemingly efficient shots that clanged off the rim, a major problem in the final period when Miami's lead towered up to 20. Defensively shaky all night, Boston failed to lock down the thunderous Heat and instead confined themselves, thus burdening Terry with too much responsibility, despite a laborious effort by the Ray Allen replacement.

Most noticeably absent was Rajon Rondo (4-20), who can't afford another absentminded effort like this one if Boston is going to win when it counts later in the year. Even Derek Fisher had more points than the usual sly leader of Boston, who shyed away from breaking Wade's ankles and vied for the jump shot detour instead.

While the Celtics nearly stole one in the final minute on prayers from beyond the arc, this is a wake up call for what NOT to do against elite teams. They must come to play, play hard, play smart, and play mean if they are ever going to overthrow the Miami champions.

Easy win for Boston? No, Raptors make it interesting but fall short.

Toronto crossed borders to come play in Boston and they made it a mostly worthwhile trip. They might've gone back to the chilly north with a loss (4-14), but they left sweat, hunger and temerity on the floor of the TD Garden in a narrow defeat (94-102).

Rondo struggled in the first half that belonged to the visiting Raptors, and so did Pierce and KG, with Boston's offense falling heavily on Terry, Millsap and even Fab Melo. Had it not been for a reinvigorated Celtics squad in the 3rd quarter, Toronto would've smoothly rolled out of beantown with an impressive win. If only this game wasn't a tale of two halves, a game Boston outscored Toronto 24/16 & 31/26 to close it out.

The 3rd quarter saw surging reserve, Josh Howard (14 points, 2-2 from downtown), making unexpectedly huge shots that helped Boston take the lead and blitz beyond reach of Toronto's gutsy comeback late in the final period. Meanwhile, the struggling stars mended their mediocre play from the first half. KG, gritty as ever, gnawed his way to a solid 16 points and 13 rebounds and Rajon Rondo returned to his dazzling nature with a solid 19 points and 10 assists. Reserve Derek Fisher (7 points) and two free throws by rookie Jared Sullinger charged Boston past the 100 point mark to cap off the comeback.

In a losing but respectable effort, Andrea Bargnani (23 points, 12 rebounds), Landry Fields (17 points), Amir Johnson (16 points, 24 rebounds) and Jose Calderon (25 points) powered the Raptors.

What could've been a throwaway game for Boston proved to be the test they sought from the Knicks a couple games back, as they travel to south beach to clash with the defending champions, who have one more victory than the surging Celtics. Can the Celtics protect their 7 game win streak as they take on the coasting champions of yesteryear, along with former Celtic Ray Allen, who scorned the Celtics to play with the champs?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Visiting 76ers Get "86ed" by Boston (11-4)

Ask the Phoenix Suns of yesteryear how valuable a fluent offense is for a team that doesn't commit to defense.

Then watch the Celtics. I mean, the Boston Guns. And no, I don't mean The Departed). The "Green Dream" actually plays defense, and frankly shot the lights out against the visiting squad from Philly. Jason Terry truly showed his range tonight, swishing 5 from beyond the arc, and so did Pierce, Fisher and Josh Howard. In a tidbit, all of them were outdone by Jrue Holiday whose prayer from beyond half court closed the half.

After a close early meeting this season, Boston looked to prevail again and diligently protected a 10-or-so point lead for the duration of the game, a lead that exploded into a 20 point margin of victory as Jared Sullinger rattled in a 3 pointer to crack 100 for the overjoyed Celtics fans. KG, showing his lasting passion for the game, 'slingshot' in 25 points as fuel for the offensive storm.

While the 76ers weren't as careless as other teams on the defensive end, they weren't sticking like glue to the Celtics either, the same glue that kept Spencer Hawes' feet wandering too long in the key late in the 3rd quarter. The difference maker here was the phenomenal shooting caused by the pragmatic and cerebral playing style of Boston. It was the icing on the cake, as Philadelphia began to falter, despite a strong effort by Jrue Holiday (28 points), a modest but uninspired showing by Andrew Bynum and a couple rim-shattering windmill dunks by Jason Richardson. Boston was simply magical tonight.

All the Celtics played well, played hard, played together, and all of their fans went home happy...unlike the Sixers who fall to 7-8 on the season.

Celtics crush nonchalant Knicks, move to 10-4

In what was purported to be a thrilling showdown, Boston visited NYC and left with far more than a convincing victory.

Boston, a team on the rise, and New York, one win above them in the early going of the season. The mega-star duo of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. Madison Square Garden. Spike Lee. New roster additions in Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton and a defensive barricade in Marcus Camby & Tyson Chandler (who initially sent Rondo and Pierce to the floor without scoring whenever they drove into the lane in the 1st quarter.

So... what went wrong?

The Knicks came out flat and were determined, or not determined at all, to stay that way for the entirety of regulation. Boston, on the other hand, came into the garden with the hunger for self-assurance, the motivation to leap into their first meeting against an elite team and to emphatically leave them in the dust. Well, the Celtics did just that... by default. Everyone for Boston played well. But it might as well have been an extra practice in the Celtics gym, because New York was numb all night and the gradual phoned-in scores of Melo & STAT did little to affect the obvious outcome.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stats on the Season So Far

After a rocky start, Boston (9-4) now holds the #4 spot in the East and its players are not shying away from the statistics board. Kevin Garnett's long arms and general tenacity have cinched in midway through the Rebounds Per Game category, at a solid 10.8, as he remains the top rebounder for the Celtics with 141 rebounds on the year so far. KG's numbers are more impressive on the defensive side, as he stands in 3rd place with 132, which make up for most of his total rebounds.

Meanwhile, new Celtic Paul Millsap is taking care of the offensive side on the glass, comfortably holding a sufficient 2.2 with a total of 26 on the year. It is well known that a crucial offensive rebound down the stretch in a close game can make a huge difference in regards to the outcome.

Rajon Rondo has made 92 shots on the season, leading his team as he continues to slice his way through opposing defenses while having the discretionary vision to know when he should pass and when he should shoot, clearly more confident with his shooting than last year.

As a whole, Boston leads the Eastern Conference in Assists Per Game, a testament of their solid team chemistry on the floor and how they love to share the ball, which accordingly delivers to them the highest % in both FG (48.6) and 3 point shooting (39.7)

Pre-Game: Knicks game to be big test for Boston.

After a rocky start, the Celtics appear to be coming into their own (9-4), more than doubling their win-to-loss ratio, but those victories haven't come against an elite team.

Sure, the young squads from Philadelphia, Charlotte & Indiana are no pushovers and besting them should be considered as legitimate victories. But respectively they are not on the level of the New York Knicks, Miami Heat (the reigning NBA champions) or New Jersey (who blew out Boston a few games back).

So, to outlast the Knicks in the garden would be a stepping stone for the Celtics, whose proficient team play has garnered them a 4 game win streak. Can the dazzling talents of Rajon Rondo stun Knicks fans on Tuesday night? How about the fantastic bench effort from Josh Howard, Kenyon Martin and recent acquisition Derek Fisher?

One thing is certain going into tonight's game: the Big 3 of Boston (Pierce, KG & Rondo) need to play up to par if they are going to survive the mad dash onslaught of the Knicks, which promises to include many highlight reel dunks and corner 3's by J.R. Smith and star performances by Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire.

New to the opposition's weapons is veteran point guard, Jason Kidd, and free agent pickup, Raymond Felton, who will add more weight to NY's electric offense. On the flipside, how will the penetrative talents of Rajon Rondo stack up against the new defensive wall around the rim, thanks to NY acquiring Marcus Camby in the off-season to aid Tyson Chandler in the front court?

Magic disappear in Boston, 80-89, as Celtics climb to strong 9-4

Orlando tried their best to act like the huge pink elephant with maturity issues never wore a Magic uniform as they visited Boston. Frankly, they needed Dwight Howard to come out on top of the Celtics, as Hedo Turkoglu (19 points) and Jameer Nelson (21 points) barely managed to outscore Paul Pierce (36 points) alone, who was hot all night and rattled in 5 from beyond the arc.

The final score is deceiving, however, as Orlando's lazy defense provided Boston with a run in the 3rd quarter that could've easily gone up to 25 instead. "The Truth" is that Paul Pierce played with more hunger and energy than the entire Magic squad, making them pay for dealing Dwight Howard and only receiving Aaron Affalo and Al Harrington in return, both of which only had modest impact on the score sheet.

Without heart, even a million clanging bricks meant to be three point shots by Derek Fisher wouldn't have changed a thing, nor would have the low numbers from the rest of the green team. Boston's strategy was obvious once Paul Pierce got rolling: Get him the ball, and get out of the way. Rondo and Fisher both did so, setting up Pierce with open jumpers and open lanes all night, two things Orlando couldn't be bothered enough to contest.

Warriors less than pugnacious in Boston, fall 84-100

Boston had plenty of time to spare for hooligans on the sidelines because Golden State came into the TD Garden with anything other than a fight.

Their defense was stuck in slow motion and sadly their FG% was even worse. Despite gradual high scores by Bogut (17 points), Jarret Jack (18 points) and Stephen Curry (19 points), they more closely resembled the amount of shots GS took instead of shots made. Richard Jefferson shot an abysmal 0/6 from beyond the arc and did his worst with 5/18 shooting otherwise, missing twice as many shots as David Lee (3-9), who couldn't get rolling either.

When the opposing team can't even make a shot, there is no reason to play the starting lineup. And while Jason Terry & Kevin Garnett chimed in 18 and 17 respectively, they spent most of their time on the bench, along with Rajon Rondo (12 points), who is better served for actually competitive games. In their place, Josh Howard leaped off the bench, going for 12 points, as well as Derek Fisher who dictated the play making, scoring 17 points off 6/12 shooting and 4 from downtown.

Celtics Outgun Pacers (7-4)

A festive Indiana crowd took in a competitive bout between the visiting Celtics and hometown Pacers, the former of which prevailed with a dominant if not diligent victory as they return home for their next game against the Warriors.

Paul Pierce comfortably took the floor and rattled in 20 points, spacing the floor and knocking down 3's, as the solid play making abilities of Rajon Rondo shined in front of the wooed Indiana audience, the ball dishing out in all directions, resulting in double figures in scoring across the board, from KG to Millsap and plenty of 3's from Jason Terry. Taking a note from Terry, Derek Fisher debuted in his former rival's colors of green, white and black, rainbowing in 10 points, sparking Boston's tenacious energy tonight by nailing his first 3 point attempt as part of the Celtics roster.

Despite a resilient effort by Indiana as encouraged by their supportive fans, the Celtics pulled away for a 93-84 victory, outlasting a strong effort by Danny Granger (25 points) and the on-the-rise Pacers squad.

GM's Desk: Old Nemesis Turned New Allie

Rajon Rondo & the Boston Celtics won't have to worry about fending off Derek Fisher any longer, because Randy Foye has been traded for the infamous ex-Laker point guard, though aged can still swish in three-point shots at the drop of a hat.

After trading Randy Foye in a direct swap with Utah for Brandon Bass, he had shown signs of efficiency but overall has been unable to engage the Boston offense. By trading him for Fisher, Boston gains a second much needed outside shooter with loads of experience whose talents are equal or slightly lesser than Foye's in other areas of the game.

Also relieved is the need for a "truer" point guard after Keyon Dooling was swapped in the trade that earned Boston former T-Wolve, Josh Howard, as Fisher will be able to better relieve the wily Rondo (who definitely deserves a break every now and then for his tremendous efforts) compared to inconsistent rookie, Dionte Christmas, or Avery Bradley, who is clearly raw compared to the veteran Fisher...who now wears green.

Hawks' Wings Clipped in Boston, Celtics Improve to 6-4

The occasional highlight dunk by Josh Smith was negated by Rajon Rondo's occasional dazzling play, as was Atlanta's impressive youth against Boston's experience down the stretch as wise teamwork came to fruition for a thrilling comeback in the TD Garden.

At first, the staggering efficiency of Devin Harris and the trade pieces acquired over the summer (Anthony Morrow, Kyle Korver) stunned Boston. Fortunately, responding to the daunting lead was Josh Howard off the bench (17 points), stifling doubts about his performance since being traded to Boston with a contagious effort that fueled a comeback by the entire squad, culminating in a 37-21 point disparity in the decisive 4th quarter that was led by splashy 3's, courtesy of Jason Terry (26 points) and Rajon Rondo, which served as the nail in ATL's coffin.

KG earned a commendable double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) and "The Truth" chipped in 18 diligent points, using his strength and tenacity to get to the free throw line. It appears that Boston's only weakness is consistency on both sides of the court, as tonight they were up to par, a stark contrast to their performance against Utah.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Jazz gives Boston the blues, Celtics fall to 5-4

Maybe it was Rajon Rondo fouling out to kick off the closely contested 4th quarter, or maybe Utah simply outplayed the hometown heroes. Either way, Mo Williams frustrated Boston's defense all night, forced to double team the Salt Lake City bound ex Clipper, thus allowing more movement and less defensive pressure for Gordon Hayward and Al Jefferson. They made Boston pay, and so did recent castoff Jeff Green, who scorned his former team after being traded at the tip of the regular season.

The effort from Boston was so-so at best and scatterbrained at worst. Sparks of brilliance calmed a storm by Utah that ended the 3rd, as Boston battled back, making smart plays with Garnett (26 points) and Terry. Soon, the lead had swerved back to the Celtics. But it wasn't to last. Without Rondo's leadership and an insufficient amount of aggressiveness from Pierce, the loss fell on Terry and Boston's weak play bled them out, since Millsap and the bench were non-factors.

This game will be remembered as a 4 point lead that Boston blew in the final two minutes of regulation. Hopefully, Atlanta will help get the Celtics back up to form as another night in Beantown promises (at least) a supportive crowd, even if Boston did themselves in tonight.

Celtics Swished by Nets, Fall to 5-3

31 points by Deron Williams and 15+ by both Gerald Wallace and new teammate Joe Johnson silenced any hopes for a comeback by Boston, as the Celtics tried to overcome a lazy defensive effort, aimless focus on rebounding and poor shooting.

In the loss, Paul Millsap (30 points) and Paul Pierce tried to carry Boston on their shoulders, but the Nets were simply too strong down the stretch and the two heroes weren't helped by low scoring from Garnett, Terry and practically everybody else on the visiting squad from Beantown.

Suns Fizzle in Beantown

Although Goran Dragic (25 points) captained the Suns and encouraged them to shoot the lights out in Boston, the three-pointer-or-bust mentality did them in as the Celtics made an energized return to Boston, with a passionate crowd fueling them all on in what culminated as a great team effort all around. The comparison of 27 (BOS) assists to 11 (PHX) was worthy enough of a blowout victory at home, despite Phoenix rallying back with their streaky shooting talents to close the half and a poor shooting game by Rondo. Nonetheless, Garnett, Terry (who had a good night after a disappointing stint on the road), Pierce, Millsap and the rookies--Kris Joseph, Jared Sullinger & Dionte Christmas (who was recently made active in place of Fab Melo and for good reason) provided a conscious effort on both ends of the court to send the lazy Suns home with a 1-5 record to start the regular season, unable to scorch Boston's fluent spirits (5-2).

No "Love" from visiting Boston

It's halftime at the Target Center. A raucous crowd is confident that their team has earned a blowout victory over visiting Beantown, courtesy of Ricky Rubio and big man Kevin Love. Yet, what appeared to be a demoralizing deficit proved to be the spark that former T-Wolve, Kevin Garnett, and "Celtic Cross" bearer, Rajon Rondo (32 points) needed to fight back until the buzzer sounded, along with a bit of "truth" from BC frontman, Paul Pierce.

When hope was running on empty, Rondo volunteered a 3 here, and a 3 there, even on a bad shooting night by sharpshooter Jason Terry. Along with several mid range jump shots by Rondo, courtesy of the pick and roll game that also helped Garnett, trade acquisition Millsap, free agent pickup Kenyon Martin and rookie Jared Sullinger contribute to the thrilling comeback by Boston's finest. Yet, it was on Minnesota's shoulders the game outcome lied, because a Hail Mary could've sent the game into Overtime, but it rattled out after teasing the rim with a crowd-pleasing embrace.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Truth in Phillie

Despite an offensive spurt to end the half and dazzling resilience throughout the game, Andrew Bynum's 76ers couldn't fend off the heroics of Rajon Rondo (24 points) or deny The Truth, Paul Pierce, as a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer crushed Philadelphia's remarkable comeback after losing their lead in the 3rd and ultimately coming up short in Overtime. Impressive defense followed by efficient offense, strong passing and voracious teamwork put together an inspiring victory for Boston.

Friday, August 17, 2012

New Orleans vs New Look Celtics

The Hornets visited Beantown, bringing #1 pick, Anthony Davis, along for the trip, only to wind up fleeing back into their hive after buzzing around for 3 quarters but eventually being outplayed by the new look Celtics.

The latest additions in Boston, Paul Millsap, Josh Howard, Randy Foye and Kenyon Martin collaborated for a convincing effort that proved they were worth all trade acquisitions. Millsap played well alongside Garnett (22 points) up front, Howard filled Pierce's shoes nicely off the bench, Foye dished out some assists to excuse a breather for Rondo (28 points) and Kenyon Martin played with lively hustle as he knocked down the mid range jumper.

With Rajon leading the conscientious charge, a promising victory speaks volumes of a resplendent flame in Boston.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hosting the Chicago Bulls

NOTE: This game was played prior to the trades below.

A blowout loss to the Bulls caused by poor shooting (especially by Pierce). Chicago's victory was powered by Derrick Rose and complimentary stellar shooting by Rip Hamilton.

A lack of energy on the floor, though Rondo & Terry had 20+ a piece in the defeat. Trading baskets doesn't cut it when the other team has a comfortable lead. Had the Bulls missed some shots in the 4th quarter, the outcome might've changed, but it's best to move on.

GM's Desk: On the Move

After failing to acquire Marvin Williams (a SF that would more-or-less mend Jeff Green's absence) from Utah, I decided to do other trades.

To Utah Jazz: Brandon Bass (PF)
To Boston Celtics: Randy Foye (SG)
To Minnesota Timberwolves:
Keyon Dooling (PG), Jason Collins (C) & Courtney Lee (SG)
To Boston Celtics: Josh Howard (SF) What I've done for the backcourt is prioritize offense when it comes to playing time. Jason Terry has free range to shoot now, but if he struggles, I can bring in Foye (who has a good mid-range game) in the place of Courtney Lee, who had some skills but was mostly a defensive player by comparison and that wasn't working because I already have Avery Bradley to bring in for necessary defense.

As a side note, I was reluctant to trade Dooling (a good backup PG for Rondo) but Bradley makes him expendable and Dooling's salary was necessary to make the trade for Howard possible, since Lee & Collins have such low monetary weight.

Instead of Marvin Williams, I reel in Josh Howard, who by comparison is a more conventional SF, a faster hybrid of defensive and offensive skill. Lastly, after choosing to sign Martin (who is better defensively than Bass) as a backup for Millsap, Bass was logically traded to accommodate for the offensive talents Farmar would've brought to Boston.

By doing these trades, I've declared the leadership of Paul Pierce, who can shift from SF to SG (if Terry is struggling) while now having someone to take the other position without compromising offensive strength. And clearly, I have improved my bench and now have room to sign a few helpful players for the league minimum.

GM's Desk: Welcome to Beantown, Millsap!

After comparing Martin, Bass & Millsap, I found Millsap was the most efficient player and definitely superior to Bass. So I went through with this trade.

To Utah Jazz: Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox To Boston Celtics: Paul Millsap

Utah wouldn't bite on the alternative (Wilcox & Bass for Millsap). I don't like losing Green, but he has been inconsistent despite his auspicious stats.

At this stage, Bass is expendable, but could serve as a nice backup for Millsap off the bench. Martin could fill that role as well, though, and that would mean signing him over Farmar. Yet, to make up for doing so, I could trade Bass for a similar player that would fill Farmar's role instead. Or alternatively, I could sign Farmar and trade Bass for a similar Small Forward like Green, who I've just traded, and use the rookie, Jared Sullinger, off the bench, or even use Fab Melo more when Millsap needs to rest.

Either way, getting Millsap helped things on defense and on offense as he is superior to Bass. The question is: "Farmar or Martin?"

GM's Desk: At a Crossroads

So, I'm a crossroads with the Celtics.

I need to acquire more defense in the frontcourt. Brandon Bass is unreliable as of now, both offensively and defensively, and I could acquire Paul Millsap from Utah by trading Jeff Green (who might be missed on offense) and another player. I could trade Bass, but that might also be a mistake.

Or, I could sign free agent, Jordan Farmar, to help improve the t... eam's offense, yet I could sign Kenyon Martin instead who would match Millsap when it comes to defending the frontcourt. I can only sign one with the Mid League Exception, and either way I'm lacking offense or defense.

"So, why not trade other players?" The problem is, all I have is Courtney Lee and Jeff Green, and Lee has a low salary, which makes trading difficult.

Either way, there is going to risk tagged along with any move I make.

The underlying issue is clearing some roster space, regardless. Hmm.

First Home Game against Charlotte

I edged the Bobcats in OT with a much better showing of smoother play and efficient scoring in Beantown, despite a solid effort from Charlotte's new rookie, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Garnett, Terry, Rondo and especially Pierce exceeded expectations and rookie Jared Sullinger played well. Learning set plays is tough, but definitely worthwhile.

Opening Game @ Cleveland

I lost Boston's opening game against the Cavs in Cleveland. Garnett got into foul trouble and never picked up a groove because of it, despite hitting a clutch shot in the 4th quarter and nailing two huge game-tying free throws with second to spare in the 4th.

While it was a decent team effort (amidst poor shooting and sluggishness), crucial mistakes (fouling Cleveland in OT, i.e. giving them free points and not being more aggressive with Rondo, the leading scorer of the game for Boston) cost me the game. Rondo hit a huge 3 pointer, but couldn't make a second, despite a solid pick that gave him room to fire again.

Clearly, there are some kinks to work out, but I see potential. Hopefully I'll turn in a better performance against the Bobcats at home.

Original Roster

Starting Lineup

C/PF - Kevin Garnett
PF - Brandon Bass
SF - Paul Pierce
SG - Jason Terry
PG - Rajon Rondo


C - Fab Melo
C - Jason Collins
SF - Jeff Green
SG - Courtney Lee
PG - Keyon Dooling
PF - Jared Sullinger (Rookie)
SF - Kris Joseph (Rookie)
SG - Dionte Christmas
SG - Avery Bradley
PF - Chris Wilcox