Celtics Schedule Released
August 4, 2009

If you like seeing the Celtics battle LeBron, Shaq, and the Cavs on national TV, this is your year. The 2009-10 Celtics schedule is out, with the C’s heading to Cleveland for opening night on Tuesday, October 27. There will also be SIX games right here on Channel 5, and they are all good ones, including Christmas Day against the Magic and January 31 at home against the Lakers.

December 25 @ Orlando
January 31 vs. Lakers
February 7 vs. Orlando
February 21 @ Denver
March 14 @ Cleveland
April 4 vs. Cleveland

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Need For Sheed
July 5, 2009

Just traded text messages with Mike Dowling, who has confirmed that the Celtics have agreed to terms with big man Rasheed Wallace, late of the Pistons.

We believe it’s a 2-year deal for the Celtics’ mid-level exception, which, once the salary cap is determined, will be a little less than $6 million per season.

Wallace is definitely one of the league’s more charismatic players (for better or worse) but he’s also one of the best when he wants to be. The solid outside shooter and defender was the centerpiece of a Pistons team that was always in the title chase (and won it all in 2004). You have to think the intensity of Kevin Garnett and the professionalism of Ray Allen will keep ‘Sheed focused on the big picture.

The Celtics definitely need another big man, especially with Leon Powe out for the long term rehabbing his knee injury. I truly hope this signing doesn’t mean the end of Leon’s time with the Celtics as has been rumored. It’s not unreasonable to try and get him to sign a minimum deal while he rehabs. Maybe it’s wishful thinking as Leon has been a great guy (and a great story) to cover over the past two years. He’s earned his spot here in Boston.

Two other players to watch now that ‘Sheed is off the table. Big Baby and David Lee. Baby is a restricted free agent and allegedly courting a lot of interest. The right offer from another team may be too much for the Celtics’ tastes. Lee also stands to benefit. Teams like San Antonio that were in on the Wallace sweepstakes might turn their attention to the Knicks double-double man.

Mike is still working the phones. Check out SportsCenter 5 OT tonight at 11:25 for updates.

–SI

Probable Playoff Schedule
April 10, 2009

Mike Dowling just checked in with some playoff news. As of now, it is looking like the Celtics first two playoff games – both home – will be played on Saturday, April 18 and Monday April 20. Again – this is the probable schedule, although it’s hard to move because of Bruce Springsteen’s swing through town and the Bruins.

We’ll update this as more information comes in.

First Day Of School
February 28, 2009

More or less, for Stephon Marbury.

The mercurial (love that word) guard arrived in Boston at 5 AM, was at the Garden by 8:30, and spent most of the day finalizing his contract and taking a physical. He practiced with the team for about an hour before meeting the media before the game. During that pregame talk, he stressed that the past is the past, and he’s here to win a championship (good job Steph, PR 101).

The game itself was certainly interesting. Stephon entered the game with 19 seconds left in the 1st quarter and his first run lasted 5:08. His entry into the game was highlighted by a standing ovation from the crowd, which Marbury acknowledged by waving his arm and high fiving a young boy sitting courtside. Marbury ran the point, with Eddie House playing the off guard. Stephon hit a jump shot, but had a difficult time guarding Indiana’s Brandon Rush, a much taller player. When I talked to Stephon after the game, he told me he was definitely surprised (and pleased) by the warm reaction from the crowd. He said he simply got caught up in the excitement when he delivered the high five of a lifetime for that little boy (I’d be bragging if I were that kid, it was cute). We also talked about how he was going to have to get used to guarding bigger guards if he was going to play more shooting guard than point (which was weird, because Marbury played point guard, yet he was guarded by the Pacers’ 2 guards early – this changed later). He said he would rely on his quickness to keep up.

Marbury really got the crowd going when he re-entered the game in the fourth quarter. He scored 6 more points on a jumper and two layups that put the Celtics up for good, In the end, Marbury played about 12 minutes, scoring 8 points on 4 of 5 shooting. After the game, Stephon joked about how tired his legs felt, and how the only thing that mattered was that the team won. It was also funny to watch Big Baby squirm in his locker as the media swarmed around Stephon (their lockers are next to each other). Don’t worry Glen, we’ll thin out after a couple of games 🙂

For all of the concerns I have about this acquisition, it seems pretty obvious to me that Marbury knows if nothing else, he had better say all the right things, because for the short money he’s getting, the Celtics won’t hesitate to cut him if he becomes a problem. So for now, I say this is a move worth making, because the potential benefits are too much to pass up. Let’s hope the thrill of finally shedding his “loser” label is enough to convince Marbury to stick to his role and be a good sport. His quest for a big payday next year will be easy enough if he has a big championship ring on his finger.

–SI

Stephon Marbury at pregame press conference

Stephon Marbury at pregame press conference

Marbury Coming To Garden
February 24, 2009

SportsCenter 5’s Mike Dowling has learned that the Knicks and disgruntled guard Stephon Marbury have reached an agreement to buy out Marbury’s contract, making him a free agent after he clears waivers.

League sources tell SportsCenter 5 that once he clears waivers (48 hour period), Marbury will sign a contract with the Boston Celtics, bolstering the team’s bench as it deals with several injuries.

At one time, Marbury was one of the premier guards in the NBA, and has averaged nearly 20 points and 8 assists per game for his career. He has yet to play this season due to conflicts with Knicks management. He did play with Kevin Garnett for three seasons in Minnesota.

How Much Is Too Much?
January 26, 2009

That is the question isn’t it? If you haven’t heard by now, the coach of Covenant School, a small Christian school in Dallas, lost his job this weekend, after refusing to apologize for his team’s performance in a 100-0 victory.

There are reports Covenant use various presses throughout the game and even kept taking 3-point shots, despite scoring only 12 points in the 4th quarter.

After word of the game’s result spread, Covenant administrators forfeited, calling it a victory without honor.

Now, I’m one of those people who thinks once the starters are pulled, the reserves who rarely play should be allowed to try their hardest. But there is a limit to that. Dallas Academy, a school for students with learning disabilities, managed only SEVEN shots – the entire game!

Perhaps Covenant could have learned something from Sunday’s blowout at the Garden. Once the Celtics took a 30-point lead over the hapless Mavericks, the defense kind of fell by the wayside. It’s one thing to keep scoring, you can’t keep the ball out of the hoop, after all, and I would never want to keep a kid who doesn’t play a lot from the chance to score a basket. But it’s another thing to actively try to keep the other team from even putting up a shot… with an 88 point lead after 3 quarters!

Head Coach Micah Grimes, prior to his firing, said that his girls played with “honor and integrity.” What do you think?

–SI

Put It In The Books – 2nd Half Running Thoughts
December 24, 2008

(6:44 to play in the 3rd) It’s over. Really, I’m calling this one Charlie Gibson-style for the Celtics. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have hit back to back dagger 3-pointers to give the Celtics an 18-point lead. Philly had better summon the ghosts of Wilt Chamberlain, Charles Barkley, Andrew Toney, and Moses Malone if they want to have a chance in this one.

(2:22 to play in the 3rd) Rajon and Scal just wished me a happy holiday… OK, they did it for the entire arena, but it got me in the spirt. The Celtics Dancers are also in the spirit, sporting Santa outfits tonight, although if Santa dressed like that he’d be pretty cold in the North Pole. The Sixers have made a mini-run to pull within 12. Despite this, Doc is sticking with his routine of pulling Pierce and Garnett towards the end of the 3rd to give them extra rest around the quarter change (he does this at the end of the 1st too). Powe and Allen are waiting to check in. Looks like they won’t get a chance. The quarter ends without another stoppage… Celtics up 78-66 after 3.

(10:36 remaining) Stay out of Leon Powe’s way! Lunchpail Leon has just dropped two slams on the Sixers, the second resulting in a 3-point play. We’ve got most of the second unit – TA, Scal, Leon, and House playing with Ray Allen. Celtics up 83-68.

(7:30 remaining) With the Celtics up 19, the Scal-A-Brine chants have started up. I really don’t think it bothers him THAT much. There are a plethora of WWSD? shirts around the Garden tonight… hilarious.

(5:18 remaining) BEAT LA! is the chant from the Garden faithful, who are enjoying a record-setting blowout. The Celtics are up 17, and even a recuperating Glen “Big Baby” Davis is cracking a smile on the bench.

(2:30 remaining) Eddie House is filling it up in garbage time, hitting back to back threes, and that is enough to wake the mighty GINO from his winter slumber! 104-86 – you’ll have to excuse me while I get my American Bandstand on.

Time to shut it down for the postgame, but go to bed tonight knowing this. Your 2008-2009 Boston Celtics are now off to the best start in NBA history. 27-2, never been done before. The only other teams to go 26-2 both won the the NBA championship.

Now it’s time to BEAT LA Christmas Day – 5:00 right here on WCVB-TV in high definition! We’ll see you then! Happy Holidays to you all!

–SI

Celtics Going For History – 1st Half Running Thoughts
December 24, 2008

Welcome to the TD BankNorth Garden where the Boston Celtics are going for NBA history tonight versus the Philadelphia 76ers. Should the Celtics win tonight, not only will it be a team record 19 in a row, but they will be the first team in league history to start a season 27-2 (they are currently tied with the 69-70 Knicks and 66-67 76ers).

It could be a bumpy start for the C’s. Traffic was so bad on Storrow Drive and 93 that only 5 players had made it to the Garden by the end of our 6 pm newscast! However, everyone is present and accounted for as we get underway. Big Baby is still on the bench in street clothes after his car accident Monday… Sam Cassell is dressed for action.

(5:10 left in the 1st) A back and forth affair so far, highlighted by a monster dunk from Philly’s Andre Iguodala, and some smooth jump shooting from Rajon Rondo. Some aesthetic items of note. The TV team of Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn have been freed from their prison behind the scorer’s table. They are now set up in the space between the courtside seats on the opposite side, where the national crews are usually based. Also, a dancing bottle of grape jelly entertained fans during a TV timeout. The bottle performed various moves, including “the Gino.” It defies explanation.

(1:52 remaining in the 1st) Early exit for Rajon Rondo, who quickly picked up a second foul. We’ll see how that affects the flow of the Celtics offense, which is now being run by Eddie House. 24-23 Celtics.

(9:08 remaining in the 2nd) Full second unit in now, with a backcourt of House and Pruitt, with Allen, Powe, and Scalabrine up front. This should be a good test to see if they can produce points without one of the Big Three in the game. Celeb update – Patriots linebacker Junior Seau, tight end Ben Watson, and HUGE Channel 5 fan Donnie Wahlberg are here.

(8:08 remaining in the 2nd) I believe we just witnessed a vicious double air ball on two free throws by Philly’s Reggie Evans. Ouch. 37-30 Celtics.

(7:01 remaining in the 2nd) Rajon Rondo just checked in for Eddie House. For the record, the Celtics added 4 points to their lead in Rondo’s absence (outscoring Philly 13-9 in about 7 minutes of play).

(3:42 remaining in the 2nd) After Philly tied the game at 37, the starters re-asserted themselves. Ray Allen hit a driving layup, and then Andre Miller got Rondo’d for two, and then Rajon fed Perk for a layup of his own, and all of a sudden it’s 44-37 and the Celtics are back in control.

Rajon Rondo adds another layup, Perk with a 3-point play, and then Miller gets Rondo’d again, for a layup that drives the crowd into a frenzy. Move over DJ and Chief – Rondo and the (Perk Is A) Beast are here. The improvement in both guys this season is remarkable, especially in Perkins’ case, considering he had to have another operation on his shoulder in the offseason. And if Rondo isn’t an All-Star, the voting process is corrupt. I love that he steps up his game against the “elite” guards in the league.

Your numbers at the break:
Rajon Rondo: 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Kendrick Perkins: 8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 scowls

HALFTIME Boston 58, 76ers 44

Is there any doubt they are going to win this game?

First Rounder Demoted
November 15, 2008

On the surface, something of a surprise move announced today by the Celtics:

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics announced today that they have assigned rookie guard J.R. Giddens to their NBA Development League affiliate Utah Flash. Giddens is the team’s first assignment to the NBA Development League this season.

Giddens averaged 2.0 points and 1.5 rebounds in 7.5 minutes during preseason and has been on the inactive list for the Celtics in each of their first 10 games during the 2008-09 regular season. The former New Mexico Lobo was selected by the Celtics with the 30th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.


But if you’ve been watching this season, it really isn’t. Giddens seemed to be behind second round pick Bill Walker (who would have been drafted higher were it not for injury concerns) every step of the way, and if I’m not mistaken, J.R. has yet to even be activated for a game. At least now, he’ll get some much needed playing time (like Gabe Pruitt did last year).

For those of you wondering why Doc is sticking to a 9-man rotation (starting five, TA, House, Powe, and Big Baby) with the Big Three notching heavy minutes, I’ll tell you this:

– Doc told me after the Hawks game that he wants to give the Big Three a heavy run now, early in the year, so they get in game shape… resting them as the season progresses.

– Remember that Big Baby and Leon Powe barely appeared in any games until the season was a couple of months in… Doc started giving both small minutes, gradually working them in until they had become key contributors by the end of the season.

– Plus, it’s entirely possible Sam Cassell still isn’t in game shape yet, or Doc is choosing just to save him for the second half of the season, when a veteran’s experience is of more use. That, or Sam I Am is just an under-the-table assistant coach (also entirely possible).

I think as the season moves on, you’ll see Pruitt as the beneficiary of the Powe/Davis plan, getting more time at the backup point guard spot behind Rondo, with House used to spell Ray Allen, and Tony Allen backing Paul Pierce. Powe and Davis will rotate through with Perkins and Garnett.

I’m sure the fans want to see more of the explosive Bill Walker, who posterized Samuel Dalembert of the Sixers with a huge slam in the preseason (among several good performances). He’s also known for his defense, not unlike Tony Allen. If there are injuries to TA or Pierce, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Walker get some PT, but if not, he may find himself apprenticing for most of the year.

–SI

The Boys Are Back In Town
September 29, 2008

Update: view the slideshow here.

One of my favorite movies is “Major League” and one of my favorite scenes is when Willie Mays Hays shows up out of the blue ready to play. All of the coaches give each other that quizzical “who is this guy?” look. Of course, security carries his bed outside in the middle of the night, until the starter’s gun awakens Hays, who goes on to win the sprints in his pajamas.

I feel like that’s what happened at Celtics Media Day today with veteran point guard Sam Cassell. Despite no word that Sam had re-signed, there he was, all smiles today in his sparkling white #28 jersey. We all turned to each other and said, “Well, I guess Sam’s back!” But would it really surprise anyone if the charismatic Cassell, who stole the show with a variety of jokes during other players’ interviews (at one point acting like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets, hurling insults from the balcony), just showed up on his own?

Sam I Am Up In The Balcony

Sam I Am Up In The Balcony

Later, we learned Sam was actually planning to sign his new contract today, so there you go (and the team made an official announcement just after dinnertime). Not sure how much he can contribute to the team (in fact, some observers say he did more harm than good during the playoffs), but he’s definitely an entertaining presence in the locker room, and can provide a lot of veteran guidance to the young guards.

Media Day is basically the one shot the team gets to take photos of the guys in various poses for use in promotional materials and the Jumbotron pieces. It’s also our first chance to talk to them before training camp (at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island). While most of the media and players are milling about in the main gym, almost like a flea market, we had a different vantage point.

We were set up in the secondary gym which was quite a sight. As you walked in, you were immediately greeted by a well-lit giant blue screen which belonged to TNT. Each player came in and read lines for the ENTIRE season. When you see Kevin Garnett say “You’re watching the NBA Playoffs on TNT” in May, he taped that today.

Then it was over to a second giant blue screen. This one was doing double duty. First, the players had to strike a variety of poses for their animated profiles that you will see on CelticVision (the HD jumbotron) during the season. When asked to dribble and play with the ball a bit, some of the guys got a bit carried away, with Tony Allen and Rajon Rondo providing the most memorable ball tricks. Then the guys had to read lines for ESPN and ABC, which included Paul Pierce wishing every NBA fan a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year… in September (presumably to air when the Celtics play the Lakers in LA on Christmas Day only on… Channel 5!).

We were the players final stop, and while most of them could rightfully have run away at that point after all of the pictures and script reading, they were all great to talk to. Kevin Garnett talked about how winning championships is addictive, and he has a craving for another one. When I asked him about mentoring Darius Miles, another high schooler-straight to the pros (remember the SI cover with both of them posing?), who didn’t fare so well, KG said that playing in a winning environment for the first time in his career could be a big help to Miles, and told me we shouldn’t be surprised when he delivers big things, hopefully filling that James Posey role for this year’s team.

I would be remiss if I didn’t share (without naming names) how the KG interview began. Kevin came over, all smiles, and shook my hand. He then went off on a hilarious rant (seriously, he was Chris Rock good today) about how the last reporter who had interviewed him had done him wrong by eating an “onion burger” before the interview. You know, the man has a point. In our rush to interview these athletes, do we ever take our personal hygiene into account? Can you imagine trying to answer questions from someone with chili breath? It ended with all of us joking that there should be breath mints, like when you leave a restaurant, in the media room. I would be lying if I said I didn’t start frantically searching my pockets for gum. No luck. Note to self: stick to crackers and soda water before all KG interviews.

Paul Pierce reported that he’s feeling great, which is good news. Rajon Rondo looked jacked… saying he had gained 7 pounds, but he’s clearly bulked up… Kendrick Perkins said he will take it easy in camp after undergoing shoulder surgery… he’s looking at the 3rd preseason game (in Manchester) as his on-court debut… Ray Allen told me that while winning a title and getting married in the offseason were great, it was the quiet time with his family that made this a special summer break… And just about all of the guys were united in saying they don’t care if their summers off are short, as long as they are winning titles in June.

Next stop: Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island for a week of practices. We’re going to make a couple of trips down, so check back for more reports.

–SI