Celtics Crave Some Home Cooking
The Celtics came into this key six-game stretch with high expectations, now they’re looking to recover after dropping two of their last three.
The men in green came into this week’s important stretch of games before the All Star break riding high after winning three out of four on their West Coast trip, which included wins against playoff caliber teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trailblazers. Luck ran out on the C’s this week as the depth at center continues to diminish with Shaquille O’Neal’s sore right leg holding him out past the All Star break or later and backup swingman Marquis Daniels, who was injured Sunday afternoon, was diagnosed with a bruised spinal cord and a month recovery time at best.
Friday night the C’s let one get away, unable to make a basket in the final three minutes of the game and falling to the Dallas Mavericks 101-97. Boston led 97-91 with 2:43 left to play as the Mav’s went on a 10-0 run to extend their win streak to seven. The key moment of the game was Jason Kidd’s travel, sorry, three-point dagger with 2.5 seconds left in the game. Rajon Rondo sailed an alley-oop attempt to Kevin Garnett off the in bounds over his head and the Mav’s walked away with their second-straight victory over Boston.
Sunday afternoon, the Celtics faced off against their Eastern Conference rival, the Orlando Magic. Rondo hit the floor over and again as he penetrated the open lanes of the Magic defense and took advantage of the gaping holes on his way to 26 points in a 91-80 victory. The young guard, known for his ability to dish the ball, led the C’s in scoring and had seven assists on the afternoon. After Daniels went down with a spinal injury, the Garden came alive and gave the Celtics energy that seemed lacking in the first quarter. Dwight Howard opened the game with a 12 point first quarter, overpowering the recently recovered Kendrick Perkins on the inside. The C’s managed to find their defensive groove and held Howard to 1-6 shooting and six points in the second half. A full team effort, and solid play from sixth man Glen Davis once again, gave them the edge against Dwight Howard’s Magic.
For the fourth time this season, Boston lacked the energy and hustle on the second night of a back-to-back, losing to the Charlotte Bobcats on the road Monday night 94-89. The C’s only dressed 10 men, with rookie Avery Bradley returning from his D-League stint with the Maine Red Claws and Semih Erden sitting with a right abductor strain. Ray Allen seemed tentative to take the three-ball in preparation of breaking Reggie Miller’s all-time three-point record and the team looked sloppy at times. Sugar Ray connected on his only two three point attempts, but finished 9-17 for 25 points. The offense seemed to drag through the fourth quarter and defense was lacking in the waning minutes as journeyman Eduardo Najera nailed the three-point dagger, followed by Gerald Wallace’s game-sealing free throws.
The Celtics will have a chance to redeem themselves Thursday night against the Lakers, where Ray Allen will attempt to break the all-time three point record. Allen currently sits only one trey behind Reggie Miller and Miller will be in attendance as a part of the TNT broadcast team Thursday night. Allen and the Celtics will try to get back on track with the Thursday night game, a Sunday afternoon meeting with the Miami Heat and finally Wednesday night’s game against the New Jersey Nets before heading into the All-Star break.