Boston Celtics: 2013Game18
December, 6, 2012
BOSTON -- The last player out of the Celtics' locker room after Wednesday's 104-94 triumph over the Minnesota Timberwolves, point guard Rajon Rondo wasn't in a particularly chatty mood after his first game back from suspension.
Steve Babineau/NBAE/GettyRajon Rondo drives to the hoop during Wednesday's game against Minnesota.
Rondo, who missed two games after jousting with the Nets' Kris Humphries, provided the Celtics with an offensive spark, but didn't care to elaborate much on his night. Here's a sampling of the back-and-forth at the start of his postgame chat with reporters:
Q: How did it feel to be back out there?
Q: Was your adrenaline pumping for this game?
Q: How long did it take you to get back into a rhythm?
Rondo: Only like two seconds.
Rondo certainly wasted little time picking up where he left off. He chipped in 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go along with 11 assists, a steal and a rebound over 37:42. He did show some signs of rust, turning the ball over five times, but fueled Boston's offense by pushing the ball up the floor in transition.
"Having Rondo back was big for us, I thought he brought a lot of good energy," Kevin Garnett said. "We were excited he was back and we probably fed off that."
Garnett scored a team-high 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting, benefiting from early post opportunities when Rondo pushed the pace and moved the ball up the court after stops.
"We got early baskets, but Rondo -- we got it in his hands and Rondo got it out of his hands too," Rivers said. "I think that’s just as important. He did both things today: He controlled the team, he still made advance passes, and that’s how we have to play."
Added Jason Terry: "It was great to have him back. [Rondo] was pushing the ball, we were at a good pace out there. That’s what we needed. He’s our leader, and definitely felt good to have him back."
Rondo was at his best in the third quarter, not only handing out three assists, but making three baskets -- including consecutive hoops late in the frame -- as Boston began to break the game open.
"Rondo kind of took control of the second half and set them up and made plays for them," Minnesota's Kevin Love said. "That was very telling for the game."
Rondo might not have been very wordy after the game, but did admit he simply wants these yo-yo Celtics to build off a solid effort.
"It’s just one game," he said. "We’re trying to run off a couple games here. We’re up and down. We lost last game, win this game. We've just got to do a better job of being consistent. Then I can speak on that."
December, 5, 2012
BOSTON -- Back in Boston for the first time since signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves this past summer, Greg Stiemsma got the rock-star treatment at TD Garden, including the lone double-wide stall in the visitor's locker room -- a spot typically reserved for superstar opponents like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
What's more, a crowd of local reporters hovered around his locker before tip-off, waiting for him to finish getting his ankles taped at a nearby trainer's table before Wednesday's game against the Celtics.
"I think this is a first, this has got to be a first," the soft-talking Stiemsma said with a smile when asked if he was used to this sort of treatment on the road.
After toiling overseas and in the D-League, Stiemsma parlayed a solid NBA rookie campaign with the Celtics into a two-year, $5.3 million deal with the Timberwolves. Cap-strapped Boston knew it had little chance of retaining the 27-year-old 7-footer if another team made anything more than a minimum-contract offer and begrudgingly waved goodbye to a player that had emerged as a top frontcourt reserve by season's end.
Stiemsma logged only 9 minutes, 14 seconds of floor time in his Boston return, but chipped in two points and two blocks (on Jason Terry and Jeff Green) as part of a 104-94 loss to the Celtics.
Boston coach Doc Rivers didn't begrudge Stiemsma for cashing in.
"I’d love to have him here, but I’m just happy for him," Rivers said. "He’s a great kid. So, listen, he took advantage of a great situation and I’m glad he did. He was terrific here."
December, 5, 2012
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesRajon Rondo puts up a floater over old friend Greg Stiemsma during Wednesday's game.BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-94 on Wednesday night at TD Garden:
THE NITTY GRITTY
Kevin Garnett remains undefeated against his former squad, registering a double-double with a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds to pace the well-rested Celtics. Paul Pierce added 18 points as all five Boston starters scored in double figures, including Jason Terry and Rajon Rondo (17 points apiece). Kevin Love finished with a game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds, while Nikola Pekoic chipped in 14 points and nine rebounds for the Timberwolves.
The Celtics were down two when Garnett went to the bench with 7:08 to play in the third quarter. Typically, that's when the Celtics' production takes a nosedive, but Boston outscored the Wolves 20-11 to carry a seven-point cushion (79-72) into the final frame. The Celtics were 9-of-13 shooting during that Garnett-less stretch, spearheaded by three buckets from Rondo and two apiece from Brandon Bass, Terry and Chris Wilcox (the trio was a combined 6-of-6 for 16 points over those final seven minutes). A Garnett-fueled 11-1 run to start the fourth quarter pushed Boston's lead up to 15.
A NEW STREAK BEGINS
After Rondo's 37-game double-digit assist streak was snapped when he was ejected from last Wednesday's joust with Kris Humphries and the Nets, he picked up right where he left off by handing out 11 helpers against the Timberwolves. The scorekeeper initially took away No. 10 midway through the third quarter, but Rondo later fed Wilcox for a layup with 1:52 to go in the frame to officially reach double digits in helpers.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics, rested coming off a three-day break, clearly had more in the tank than the Timberwolves, who were playing the second night of a back-to-back. Even still, the Celtics shot 52.6 percent and went into triple figures despite missing eight free throws (the Timberwolves didn't aid their own cause by going 14-of-30 at the charity stripe). Boston can take it as a quality win and now they get a day off to trek to Philadelphia for the start of a consecutive-day home-and-home with the 76ers on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
December, 5, 2012
BOSTON -- Celtics guard Leandro Barbosa is active for Wednesday's visit from the Minnesota Timberwolves, but coach Doc Rivers is hoping to avoid putting him on the floor.
Barbosa is battling an illness that forced him to miss practice the last two days.
"[Barbosa is] going to dress, but I’m going to try not to use him, if possible," Rivers said. "He’s not feeling great at all and didn’t look great today [at morning shootaround]. He’s been doing the fluid thing and all that. He’s going to be in uniform."
For an extra dash of depth, the Celtics recalled rookie swingman Kris Joseph from Maine of the NBA Development League for the second time this week (he was recalled during Rajon Rondo's two-game suspension, only to be returned to Maine on Sunday).
A handful of quick hits before Wednesday's game:
* Avery Bradley (shoulders) suggested he's a week or two away from being cleared for contact activities. Informed of Bradley's latest timeline, a surprised Rivers playfully noted, "Is that right? Wow, that’s great to hear. I’m very happy to hear the news, I appreciate you telling me. Honestly, I didn’t know that because I don’t check. [Team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] will tell us when it’s time, I don’t focus on that stuff with guys being out. I have to focus on the guys wearing the uniform."
* With Rondo back from his two-game ban, Courtney Lee will shuffle back to a reserve role. Rivers likes what he's seen from Lee recently. "Courtney’s been playing well the last six games," Rivers said. "You notice it more because he was on the floor more, maybe, but he’s in a good place, he really is. I thought it took him a while, but he’s got it, you can see it. That doesn’t guarantee great play every night, but his effort, his positioning defensively, offensively he’s running the floor -- he’s doing a lot of things for us right now. That’s been good. We need it, and it’s going to serve us well."
* With his former squad in town, Kevin Garnett naturally was a popular pregame topic of conversation (even in his sixth year with Boston). Still Rivers threw out some lofty praise noting, "I can guarantee that the people in Minnesota, they miss what he does in the locker room," Rivers said. "They miss what he does on the floor in practice everyday, his work ethic. He has this ability to give himself to a team. It’s rare that you see a superstar do that, and he does that. I mean, he gives himself completely to his team, and just tells them to use him whatever way, whatever you want. It’s nice to have. That’s what I think he brings to a franchise, is a star who is over himself and that’s really good." Later Rivers added, "I don’t know if everyone understands, even on our team, or publicly, who Kevin Garnett really is. Just as far as what he’s done, his body of work. There’s the Hall of Fame, and then there’s the table at the Hall of Fame. And Kevin Garnett is at the table. Very few people get to sit at the table."
* With a Yahoo Sports! report indicating the New Orleans Hornets are contemplating changing their nickname to the Pelicans, Rivers was asked about having his son, Austin, playing for a team with that monicker. "I just like that he’s playing on the team," Rivers said. "Pelicans, Brass -- come up with another name, I’m all for it. It should be the Jazz."
December, 5, 2012
AP Photo/Genevieve RossPaul Pierce and the Celtics meet Kevin Love and the Timberwolves on Wednesday.The Boston Celtics (9-8, 5-4 home) host the Minnesota Timberwolves (8-8, 4-5 away) on Wednesday night at TD Garden (7:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:
* WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS: With Kevin Love back on the floor for the Wolves, the focus on this game will most assuredly be on the glass. As Celtics coach Doc Rivers explained on Tuesday, "[Minnesota is] challenging because their strength is our weakness. They are not a good rebounding team, they are an amazing rebounding team. Kevin Love's one of the best rebounders of our era. I know that’s saying something early on in his career, but he is." Rivers got to see a heavy dose of Love at the Olympics and came away marveling at his ability to change the game with his rebounding alone. Concluded Rivers, "They make it difficult for us."
* RONDO'S FOCUS JUMPS FROM 46 TO 48: Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will be back on the floor after serving a two-game suspension. A dust-up with the Nets' Kris Humphries last week snapped his 37-game double-digit assist streak, leaving him tied with Utah's John Stockton for the second-longest run in league history. So instead of eyeing Magic Johnson's record 46-game stretch, Rondo's singular focus is now on getting Boston to put together a complete-game effort. "We've got to play together for 48 minutes," said Rondo. "We've been playing together well for 20 minute here, maybe a quarter or a half there. But even when I was out, the team played great in short periods of spans, but we've got to put it together for 48 minutes and it's going to take an entire-team effort."
* SYNERGY SNAPSHOT: With point guard Ricky Rubio on the mend, the Timberwolves have been a somewhat atrocious offensive team. Minnesota ranks in the the bottom third of the league in points per play (0.875, 25th, according to Synergy Sports data), offensive rating (97.6, 21st), pace (96.1, 22nd), and turnover percentage (16.6, 23rd). Yes, Minnesota can dominate on the glass, but it doesn't always cash in on those second-chance opportunities. It's their defense which, aided by strong rebounding, thrives in limiting opponent scoring opportunities. Minnesota ranks seventh in the league in overall defense (0.885 points per play) and it bumps up to fourth best in the league in halfcout sets. The Wolves are susceptible to cutters, but are otherwise fairly stout, with Nikola Pekovic spearheading a better-than-you-think defense.
* STEAMBOAT RETURNS TO BOSTON HARBOR: The cap-strapped Celtics didn't have the resources to match Minnesota's modest two-year, $5.3 million offer to second-year center Greg Stiemsma this offseason. Stiemsma, who emerged from the D-League to be a top frontcourt reserve last season in Boston, is averaging 3.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks over 12.5 minutes per game with the Wolves. Minnesota's frontcourt depth has limited Stiemsma's floor time, but he's been effective in small doses. Just look at Tuesday's win over the 76ers: Stiemsma chipped in 6 points on 2-of-2 shooting with five rebounds, an assist, a block, and a steal over 18 minutes. The Celtics most assuredly miss his young defensive-minded 7-foot frame off the bench.