Boston Celtics: 2010Game41

Never miss a beat

January, 20, 2011
1/20/11
9:55
AM ET
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty ImagesKevin Garnett: Rhythm is a dancer.
BOSTON -- The way Kevin Garnett sees it, the Garden parquet is one big dance floor and he's just busting a move at the party.

Asked after Wednesday's win over the Detroit Pistons to describe how he feels after two games back, Garnett compared finding his rhythm on the court to finding his groove at a party with a faulty turntable.

"One thing about rhythm is, it's almost like, for y'all that can dance -- and for y'all that cannot, don't worry about this -- but it’s like being at the party and the record skips, and you've got to get back on beat," explained Garnett. "So, you know, the record skipped a bit, but I’m still at the party. I just have to find that groove again. For all of y'all who can’t dance, don’t take it personal."

Garnett scored 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting with eight rebounds in his return during Monday's win over Orlando. On Wednesday, he connected on just 5-of-14 shots for 11 points with six rebounds, three assists, and a block.

“I’m good, I was a little anxious [Wednesday], man," said Garnett. "I really, really knew the ball was going to come to me a lot. I just need to take my time."

Garnett has shown no ill effects from the right calf strain that sidelined him for nine games, but he expects better production when he gets back on beat. But he's positive he'll get there because he's not afraid to tell you he can dance.

When a reporter joked that media members taught Gino, the American Bandstand dancer that cuts the JumboTron rug during lopsided Boston home wins (as rare as those have been this season), everything he knows, Garnett played along saying, "Who? Raise your hands. I don't see no hands."

And as Garnett and captain Paul Pierce left the podium following their postgame press conference, Garnett took a final jab at a media horde filled with two left feet, shouting, "Learn to dance!" as he left the room.

GameCenter: What's my age again?

January, 20, 2011
1/20/11
5:00
AM ET
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesCeltics center Shaquille O'Neal put the team on his 38-year-old shoulders.
BOSTON -- Everything you need to know after the Boston Celtics defeated the Detroit Pistons 86-82 Wednesday night at the TD Garden:


Rapid Reaction | Game Recap | Box Score


--SHAQ DEFIES AGE WITH FOURTH-QUARTER PLAY--
Doc Rivers was 34 years old during his final NBA playing season, so immediately he admits the comparison is apples to oranges. But asked to explain where Shaquille O'Neal found the effort to put the Boston Celtics on his 38-year-old back in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's 86-82 triumph over the Detroit Pistons at the TD Garden, Rivers could only reflect on his final season in San Antonio. "Listen, all I can reach back to is my last year, which is not even close," Rivers said. "But honest to God, when you get old, there are days the legs work and days they don't. And you can't call them. Honest to God, in my last year, there was no rhyme or reason. You can play a back-to-back game, the second day, and you felt great, and the first [you didn't] -- it made no sense. I think that's who he will be."

--RAY OF CONFIDENCE: ALLEN OVERCOMES WOES TO HIT KEY SHOT--
With 31 seconds remaining in Wednesday's tilt between the Celtics and Pistons, Ray Allen had registered only five points, missing six of the seven shots he had hoisted, including a pair of potential game-changing 3-pointers. Maybe more uncharacteristically, Allen had also missed back-to-back free throws in the fourth quarter. It was without question his worst shooting performance in an otherwise sizzling month of January. But with the scores tied at 82, Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn't hesitate to draw up a play for Allen out of a timeout.

--POSTGAME NOTES: INJURY ROUNDUP: NO SURGERY FOR J.O'NEAL--
Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal, who has missed 23 games this season with soreness in his left knee, will sit out the next four weeks while he rehabs and strengthens the knee in hopes of rejoining the team for a playoff push, according to president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. After seeking a second opinion in New York earlier this week, O'Neal, Ainge and members of the Celtics' medical staff met during Wednesday's game against the Detroit Pistons to map out his future. Ainge said surgery had the potential to sideline O'Neal for as little as eight weeks, but O'Neal ultimately elected to avoid going under the knife.

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Ray of confidence

January, 20, 2011
1/20/11
3:15
AM ET


BOSTON -- With 31 seconds remaining in Wednesday's tilt between the Celtics and Pistons, Ray Allen had registered only five points, missing six of the seven shots he had hoisted, including a pair of potential game-changing 3-pointers. Maybe more uncharacteristically, Allen had also missed back-to-back free throws in the fourth quarter.

It was without question his worst shooting performance in an otherwise sizzling month of January. But with the scores tied at 82, Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn't hesitate to draw up a play for Allen out of a timeout.

Allen rewarded his coach's confidence by connecting on a 21-foot jumper with 24.5 seconds to play, lifting Boston to an 86-82 triumph at the TD Garden.

"I've just shot the ball too many times," Allen said. "Like, I don't question going to the bathroom, I don't question eating. It's just that simple for me, like going out every day. If I close my eyes, I can make a good bit of shots. Sometimes you just have to look at the other team and tip your hat to them. They've done a great job of kind of running me off the shot, trying to disrupt my rhythm, whatever it may be. The beautiful thing is, I've got other guys out there that can make shots, that can make plays. So I never stress about it, I just stay ready and figure out whenever that next shot is coming. I'll be ready to knock it down."

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Postgame notes: Injury roundup

January, 20, 2011
1/20/11
12:45
AM ET
BOSTON -- A collection of postgame news and notes after the Boston Celtics defeated the Detroit Pistons 86-82 Wednesday night at TD Garden, with a focus on injuries to Jermaine O'Neal, Delonte West and Marquis Daniels:

--J.O'NEAL (KNEE) OUT FOUR WEEKS, AVOIDS SURGERY--



Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal, who has missed 23 games this season with soreness in his left knee, will sit out the next four weeks while he rehabs and strengthens the knee in hopes of rejoining the team for a playoff push, according to president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

After seeking a second opinion in New York earlier this week, O'Neal, Ainge and members of the Celtics' medical staff met during Wednesday's game against the Detroit Pistons to map out his future. Ainge said surgery had the potential to sideline O'Neal for as little as eight weeks, but O'Neal ultimately elected to avoid going under the knife.

"We had a discussion at halftime, Jermaine, myself and our medical staff, and have decided that we are not doing surgery," Ainge said. "The surgery that we were considering, by the way, was just a cleaning out. There's not ligament or cartilage damage that was going to be prepared, it was a cleaning-out process. We decided against that, we'll take the next four weeks to do nothing but work to build up his glutes and quads, with the sole purpose of that. So he'll be rehabbing to build strength in his leg to get ready for the end of the season.

"Jermaine had a lot to do with the decision, and [team physician] Dr. [Brian] McKeon was fine with it. It's not an easy decision, and I think that Jermaine feels like he overdid it. He's got some bruising from the bone-on-bone he has in his knee. He just needs to let that calm down, then build up the strength in it."

O'Neal had missed 19 games in a row before returning on Christmas Day. He played well during a 10-game stretch before the knee became sore and eventually swelled, forcing him out of action again earlier this month.

O'Neal departed the arena before reporters were allowed in the team's locker room following Boston's 86-82 triumph over Detroit.

Ainge expressed optimism that O'Neal could strengthen the knee enough to hold up over the final three months of the regular season and beyond.

"I think Jermaine has a plan to get himself in great shape and build the strength up so he'll be able to withstand the rigors of playing the last couple months of basketball," said Ainge, who also suggested there would be no restrictions once O'Neal worked himself into shape.

Hop HERE to read more on O'Neal's decision to avoid surgery.

--WEST (WRIST) CLEARED TO DRIBBLE, CATCH--

Brian Babineau/NBAE/GettyDelonte West was cleared to resume catching and dribbling as he rehabs his right wrist.
After undergoing a fresh set of X-rays earlier this week, Celtics guard Delonte West has been cleared to handle the basketball without the black brace he's used as part of his recovery from a broken right wrist.

West also reaffirmed that he's still on schedule with his rehab and hopes to join the team on the practice court in 2-3 weeks. While he's now able to dribble the basketball with his right hand, which he said last week he hoped to be able to do this week, he also stated that he's hesitant to catch the ball with the same hand.

"[I'm] not catching just yet," West said. "I'm still a little timid, but I'm getting there. As far as dribbling, trying to do whatever I can with the right hand, I'm permitted to do that. Obviously, I'm naturally timid to catch anything or fall on it, but each day my confidence with the right hand and the strength in it is getting better. ... Right now it's still a little sore on the impact, so I'm naturally timid to catch the ball with it, but I'm cleared to do as much as my wrist can permit."

West said he will undergo a CAT scan next Tuesday to further monitor his progress and could begin practicing soon after.

(Read full post)

Rapid reaction: Celtics 86, Pistons 82

January, 19, 2011
1/19/11
10:05
PM ET
Mark L. Baer/US PresswirePaul Pierce backs down Rodney Stuckey in Wednesday's game
BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Detroit Pistons 86-82 Wednesday night at TD Garden:

HOW THE GAME WAS WON
Celtics captain Paul Pierce scored a team-high 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting with five rebounds and three assists over 36 minutes, keying Boston on a night it didn't have its typically sharp offense. The Celtics shot a mere 44.7 percent (34 of 76) and even that required the Green to shoot 60 percent (12 of 20) in the fourth frame. Shaquille O'Neal added 12 points (seven in the final frame) and 12 rebounds over 25 minutes.

TURNING POINT
The final five minutes featured a dizzying back-and-forth battle, the Celtics rallying each time the Pistons tried to pull away. Rajon Rondo hauled in a key offensive rebound with 36 seconds to play and, during a timeout, Doc Rivers drew up another brilliant play that led to a long Ray Allen jumper (video review changed it from a 3-pointer) and an 84-82 Boston lead it wouldn't relinquish.

STAT OF THE GAME
The Celtics shot a mere 39.3 percent (22 of 56) through the first three quarters, trailing by as much as eight while turning the ball over 16 times during that span. Ray Allen finished with only seven points, but hit the key shot.

UNSUNG HERO
Pressed into heightened activity when Marquis Daniels departed early in the second quarter after rolling his left ankle, reserve guard Von Wafer logged 12 minutes, hitting both shots he attempted while chipping in six points.

WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics have now won four in a row. Boston clearly sleepwalked a bit through this one, a bit lethargic after Monday's playoff-intensity win over the Orlando Magic. Detroit failed to bury the hosts while it had the chance and Boston ultimately cranked up the intensity in the final frame, erasing an eight-point deficit and setting up Allen's heroics.

Daniels departs with ankle injury

January, 19, 2011
1/19/11
9:35
PM ET
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesMarquis Daniels rolled his left ankle Wednesday night against the Pistons.
BOSTON -- Celtics reserve swingman Marquis Daniels rolled his left ankle after driving to the basket in the second quarter of Wednesday's tilt with the Detroit Pistons and sat out the second half due to the injury.

The Celtics originally announced that Daniels would have the ankle re-taped and return, but he did not accompany the team out for the start of the second half and was soon declared out for the game.

Daniels, one of five Boston players to appear in all 41 games this season, has a history of injury troubles, but had been the stalwart of a bench in constant flux due to injuries to others this season.

Daniels drove strong to the basket early in the second quarter, but appeared to tweak the ankle while turning to run back up court after missing the shot. He departed with 10 minutes to go in the frame. Daniels scored two points on 1-of-4 shooting with three rebounds over five minutes.

Pregame notes: Decision time for J. O'Neal

January, 19, 2011
1/19/11
7:30
PM ET


BOSTON -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers said that team brass, including Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, will meet with Jermaine O'Neal during Wednesday's game against the Detroit Pistons to map out his future, which could include potential career-ending surgery on his ailing left knee.

Rivers, who got a brief update Wednesday afternoon, seemed almost relieved not to have to be in the meeting.

"They’re having it today, during the game, that way I'm not involved, which is perfect," Rivers said. "I know they’ve talked, we talked a little bit about it today, but there’s nothing to tell you. You’ll know more later."

O'Neal, who will sit out his 23rd game of the season due to soreness in his left knee, sought another medical opinion in New York on Monday. The team was originally scheduled to meet with him Tuesday, but the snow and ice storm that invaded the region forced them to push the meeting back.

O'Neal must decide whether to go under the knife, a procedure that could cure his knee problems long term but might keep him out of action the rest of the 2010-11 season (and an uncertain labor situation looms over next season).

A handful of other pregame news and notes:
  • West cleared to catch: After a new set of X-rays, Celtics guard Delonte West gained medical clearance to both catch and dribble the basketball this week, the latest step in his recovery from a fractured right wrist.

    "I feel real good," West said. "Monday I went back for X-rays and saw the hand specialist. I've been cleared to work out without my brace on and start strengthening. I can handle the basketball now. So that's great news."

    West admitted he's still hesitant to catch the ball despite his clearance, but estimated he'll be back to full-team practices in 2-3 weeks.
  • Villanueva past the drama: In the aftermath of his dust-up with Kevin Garnett, Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva suggested before Wednesday's game that he's moved on from the issue.

    "It's just another game," Villanueva said. "I'm past all of the stuff, drama, if you want to call it that. I've been past that. It's just another game and let's get this win."

    Asked if he was surprised by the iciness between the two players in the last meeting in Detroit (before Garnett got injured, the two got physical, including Villanueva bumping Garnett as he left the court), Villanueva dismissed that as well.

    "Was I surprised?" asked Villanueva. "I didn't even pay too much mind to it. It is what it is. I can't really say much. I'm not looking for his friendship. I slept well that night."

    Villanueva was prepared for the villain role at the Garden Wednesday.

    "I expect the fans to protect their player," Villanueva said. "Boston is a good town [and] they love their sports. I expect the worst. But I'm OK with that. [Being the villain is] fine. I'm cool with that, being that guy, the most hated guy in the arena, probably. It's cool."
  • No response for Otis: Asked about comments made by Orlando general manager Otis Smith, who suggested after his team's loss Monday to the Celtics that Boston is "fake tough," Rivers politely avoided a war of words: "I’ll let everybody else talk about us. They seem to do it better than us."
  • But what about what Phil said?: Apprised of Phil Jackson's comments suggesting the Celtics will top the Heat to win the East, Rivers smiled and said, "Well, in that case, Phil is a genius. And I hope he’s right. But there’s a lot of games to be played and we’ll see how that all works out."

Game 41: Celtics vs. Pistons

January, 19, 2011
1/19/11
12:15
PM ET
(31-9, 19-3 home)     -- vs. --     (15-26, 4-17 away)
at TD Garden, 7:30 p.m. | CSN, WEEI (850 AM)

GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
The last time the Boston Celtics met the Detroit Pistons, Kevin Garnett was lost for nearly three weeks.

He's back now.

Garnett looks to build on his impressive return and help the Celtics to a fourth straight win Wednesday night against the Pistons.

Boston (31-9) is entering the midway point of its schedule atop the Eastern Conference, a status that should be easier to continue with Garnett back on the court.

The 13-time All-Star suffered an injury to his right leg on a dunk in the first quarter of a 104-92 loss at Detroit (15-26) on Dec. 29. The Celtics won six of nine without him, but his teammates still missed his physical presence and leadership.

"We look like a totally different team out there," forward Paul Pierce said. "You can't replace what Kevin gives to a ballclub. ... He raises everyone's play when he's on the court."

Garnett made a big difference in his return to the court Monday, scoring 19 points while pulling down eight rebounds and making a key steal in the final seconds to secure a 109-106 win over Orlando.

"These last two weeks have been dark days for me. Being hurt is not one of my favorite things," said Garnett, scoring 15.1 points per game with a team-leading 9.5 rebounds.

He's averaging 21.5 points on 60.7 percent shooting and 7.5 boards in his last four home games against the Pistons.

With Garnett healthy, Boston looks to continue its dominance at TD Garden. The team is among the league's best at home this season, going 19-3 and has won three in a row there since opening this six-game homestand with a 108-102 loss to Houston on Jan. 10.

The Celtics should benefit from having Rajon Rondo on the court for this meeting with the Pistons after he sat out the most recent one with an ankle injury. Rondo leads the league with 13.4 assists per game, and dished out 17 in a 109-86 win at Detroit on Nov. 2. He's averaging 12.7 points and 13.0 assists in his last three games.

The Pistons are looking for their first four-game winning streak since a five-game run Dec. 4-12, 2009. Lineup changes appear to be sparking the current run, which continued with Monday's 103-89 victory over Dallas.

"I think that foundation has finally been set -- guys knowing their role in the starting group, guys know their role coming off the bench and as you see, it's just clicking right now," swingman Tracy McGrady said. "That's something we've been searching for, for quite some time and I think we finally found it."

McGrady and rookie Greg Monroe have started the last four games after being used mostly off the bench. McGrady is scoring 11.5 points per contest while playing the point over the last four games, and Monroe has been used at center and is averaging 13.3 points and 8.5 rebounds.

Read the full preview HERE.

FORSBERG'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
    Villanueva
    Villanueva
  • KG vs. CV31: When the two teams met in late December, there was plenty of iciness left over from the war of words in the fallout following Charlie Villanueva's post on Twitter suggesting Garnett called him a "cancer patient" during a November meeting. Every Piston got a pregame fist-bump from KG except Villanueva, who proceeded to pick up two early fouls for being over-aggressive in defending Garnett. Villanueva then appeared to bump Garnett on his way off the court. Before tempers could flare, Garnett suffered the right calf strain, putting the feud on the back burner... until Wednesday.
  • Focus on turnovers & pace: One of the few things the Pistons do well is limiting turnovers. Detroit is tied for fifth in the NBA in turnover percentage (12.9 percent) and that's important for a team that's 29th in the league in pace (89 possessions per game) and Detroit strives to make the most of every trip down the court.
  • McGrady
    McGrady
    Tightening up the defense: The Pistons shot 55.7 percent from the floor in late December, keyed by a turn-back-the-clock effort from Tracy McGrady, who scored 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting with eight assists and three steals over 30 minutes. Even if simply dazed by Garnett's injury (and fears that it was more serious than it turned out to be), the Celtics must tighten up their defense against a team that typically shoots a mere 45.3 percent from the floor.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
19.6 1.5 1.0 34.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.2
AssistsR. Rondo 10.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.7
BlocksK. Olynyk 0.8