Celtics

Sixers have no answer for Garnett in Game 1

761832.jpg

Sixers have no answer for Garnett in Game 1

BOSTON Kevin Garnett has been really good for the Boston Celtics since the All-star break.

But in the last two games, the Big Ticket has been delivering in a way that few would expect from a player so seasoned.

Garnett led the way for Boston with a 29-point, 11-rebound night that proved to be just enough for the C's to slip past Philadelphia, 92-91, in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series.

"Garnett, I've never seen him play better," said Sixers head coach Doug Collins.

It was vintage Garnett, who controlled the action with scoring around the basket and from the perimeter, all while continuing to serve as the anchor for a strong Celtics defense.

And as far as Garnett's offense was concerned, Rajon Rondo was once again feeding Garnett early and often.

"That's the game plan all the time," said Rondo who had his eighth playoff triple-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 17 assists. "When we get away from (it), we take a lot of jump shots. We're a jump-shooting team. But when we need a bucket we tend to go to Paul (Pierce) or Kevin."

Against the Sixers, the preferred matchup to exploit was Garnett against Spencer Hawes.

"He (Garnett) had a lot of great looks that he wanted and he made his shots," Rondo said.

The Sixers were well aware of how Garnett dominated the Atlanta Hawks on Game 6 of the C's first-round series. In that game, an 83-80 Celtics win, Garnett had 28 points and 14 rebounds.

Philadelphia threw double teams at him.

They tilted defenders in his direction.

But nothing seemed to work.

"I don't know what else we could have done," Collins said. "He made a lot of tough shots. He hits those long jump shots. We are not going to run out at him or get a hand in his face. You start running around and doing all that, you free up Paul Pierce and all these other guys."

And there lies the challenge that Garnett poses when he's on his game like he has been of late:

His play symbolizes the pick-your-poison dilemma that most teams face when playing the Celtics.

And while the Celtics have a slew of players that have delivered in big-game situations, Garnett has been the player giving teams the most fits lately.

His strong play has made it tough on C's coach Doc Rivers to limit his minutes. In Saturday's win, Garnett played 38 minutes which included the entire fourth quarter.

Boston cut back his minutes earlier in the game with the goal being to play him for most, if not all of the fourth quarter.

"It's still tough, though, honestly, because it's the minutes in a row that I manage more than the cumulative minutes for him," Rivers said. "And that was the risk, but he handled it pretty well."

Said Garnett: "Whatever is asked of me, is what I am going to do. I don't really pay attention to the minutes."

While Garnett openly admits he hates the fact that the C's now have him playing center, there's no argument outer how it has helped both him and the Celtics this season.

"He's been incredible," C's guard Keyon Dooling told reporters after Saturday's win. "Ever since we made that adjustment at the All-Star break and put him at the five, it's really tough for big guys to get out and challenge him. When they try to put smaller, quicker guys on him he goes down on the block and he just raises up right over the top of them. So his play has been inspiring, his defense has been flawless, and he still does all the little things in the energy and effort category that really help our team win."

And all those little things come about because Garnett puts in the time to steadily work towards improvement, as opposed to simply relying on his experience and talent.

"I have no life at this point," Garnett said. "I go home, get treatment, come back in here, study tape, film. No life at all. This is what it is."

Morris returns to Celtics starting lineup vs. Magic

celtics_marcus_morris_112417.jpg

Morris returns to Celtics starting lineup vs. Magic

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics will turn to a familiar starting lineup as they try to get back on their winning ways following Wednesday’s loss at Miami.
 
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Marcus Morris will be in the starting lineup tonight against Orlando, joining the usual Celtics foursome of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford.

MORE:

 
Morris’ availability tonight was not a given, similar to it being in question prior to Wednesday’s game against the Heat.
 
Morris has been dealing with soreness in his left knee which kept him out for the first eight games of the season and has limited his playing time since then.
 
Stevens said Morris will likely not play against Indiana on Saturday but no final decision has been made. Since returning to the lineup, the Celtics have played Morris with a minutes restriction in addition to not allowing him to play in any back-to-back games.

Morris has made it clear that he does not like having his playing time limited while not playing in any back-to-backs, but has repeatedly he understands why it is being done and won’t fight what the coaching and medical staff believe is best for him and the team.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Celtics' bounce-back ability put to the test

Celtics' bounce-back ability put to the test

BOSTON – When it comes to bouncing back from defeat, the Celtics don’t have a ton of experience with that this season.
 
As impressive as their 16-game winning streak was, a truer sense of where this team is at lies in how they respond.

MORE CELTICS:

 
Their first chance to bounce back comes tonight against the Orlando Magic (8-10) who will put Boston’s team cohesion to the test.
 
With so many new players to the roster this season, it has been somewhat surprising how well players have come together. It was instrumental to Boston’s winning streak, which was the fourth-longest in franchise history.
 
“It’s two things,” said Al Horford. “A lot of credit to coach [Brad Stevens], really setting the emphasis on the things that he expects from our group. And then credit to our younger guys and our guys in general, to pick up those concepts and play for each other out there on the defensive end. That’s what we try to do every night.”
 
When you talk about Boston’s young players, it begins with the rapid improvement of second-year wing Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum.
 
“I just think that they’re starting to see, to understand the game more especially on the offensive end,” Horford said. “I think they’re starting to identify reads. It’s a process. They’re going to keep learning; it’s a long season. But that’s the one thing, from the beginning of the season until now, I feel like they have the ability to read plays and make plays for themselves and others.”
 
Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game at TD Garden: 
 


STREAKING MAGIC
The Magic are on a bit of a streak, but not the kind any team would like to have. They come in having lost six in a row. The Magic have struggled to knock down 3-point shots and rebound in that span. They're ranked among the league’s bottom 10 in both categories.
 

THE PAINT GAME
Boston has had its problems scoring in the paint this season, averaging 38.5 points, which ranks 27th in the NBA. But that might change tonight against a Magic team that has been among the worst limiting points in the paint all season. Scratch that. They are the worst, giving up a league-high 51.0 points in the paint this season.
 

WICKED TOUGH SCHEDULE
Boston’s 16-game winning streak was impressive, especially when you consider their schedule which included their past eight games being played in a 16-night stretch with a game every other day. It’s not so much the challenge of so many games close together, but the inability to have any time to practice. “For a young team like ours, practice is really important,” Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston earlier this season. “But the schedule is what it is. You play every game as best you can, practice when you can practice and go from there.”
 

BACKUP POWER LOW
The Celtics got 34 points from their bench in Wednesday’s loss at Miami, an improvement over what the second unit has been able to deliver most of this season. They come into tonight’s game ranked dead-last in the NBA in shooting (33.5 percent) and next-to-last in 3-point shooting (27.7 percent). Scoring-wise, they average 28.6 points, which ranks 24th in the league, but log an average of 18.8 minutes which ranks 14th in the NBA. So why do they get major minutes? Because more often than not, they find a way to come out ahead of their second unit brethren. For the season, Boston’s bench has a plus/minus of +1.6 which ranks eighth in the league.
 

REBOUND SUCCESS
One of the biggest concerns for the Celtics coming into this season was rebounding. So far, so good. The Celtics average 47.2 rebounds per game, which ranks fourth in the NBA. To put that in perspective, if Boston maintains that average, it would be the franchise’s highest rebounding average in 40 years (49.8, 1977-78).