Celtics take Game 7 to eliminate 76ers and advance against Miami Heat; Red Sox walk-off with a win against the Rays

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Boston had a wonderful night yesterday. The Red Sox beat the Rays last night in the first game of the series in an awesome walk-off win fashion. Saltalamacchia was the Red Sox savior of the night. On a 0-1 pitch from Fernando Rodney in the bottom of the 9th with one out and a runner on 2nd, Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a two run walk-off homer over the Red Sox’s bullpen which received a huge thunder of cheers from the Fenway crowd. Beckett did well last night (besides giving up a go-ahead run, but hey we got a walk-off!) keeping the Rays at bay. He went seven innings, giving up four hits and striking out five batters. Rich Hill ended up getting the win, since he came out in the 9th after Miller was in the 8th. Oh yah and the best part about the Salty walk-off was that he was just in pinch-hitting for Marlon Byrd and it was his first career walk-off homer. Way to make a big impact, Jarrod. Now the Sox are once again back at .500 baseball and have placed the Rays one game behind the AL East leader, the Baltimore Orioles.

The next game begins today at 1.35pm on NESN as well as TBS. It will feature Clay Buchholz (4-2, 7.84 ERA) against Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 2.73 ERA).

Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty
Rajon Rondo is still searching for consistency from game-to-game in the playoffs, but he saved the series and helped the Celtics advance to the Conference Finals by taking charge in Game 7.

The Boston Celtics have advanced themselves to the Eastern Conference Finals in an 85-75 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden. Rondo lead the team after Pierce got fouled out of the Game 7 (Pierce’s sixth personal foul with 4:16 to play as the Celtics clung to a small 3-point lead), but Pierce finished with 15 points and nine boards. Rondo scored 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, while KG posted 18 points and 13 rebounds. The Boston Celtics will take on the Miami Heat next on Monday for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. It will start at American Airlines Arena for the first two games. Game 1 will air on ESPN at 8.30pm.

Celtics look to eliminate 76ers from playoffs tonight in Game 6

Drew Hallowell/NBAE/Getty
Paul Pierce has scored 24.0 PPG in two games at the Wells Fargo Center during this series.

Tonight the Celtics take on the Sixers again. The Celtics are ahead in the series with a 3-2 lead. If they win tonight they’ll advance pass the Eastern Conference semifinals. The game begins at 8pm on ESPN from Wells Fargo Center. The Celtics won the Game 5 in awesome 101-85 victory to regain the series lead. Check out the Game 6 preview below by Marc D’Amico.

Arbella Game 6 Preview: Celtics at 76ers

By Marc D’Amico
May 23, 2012

Arbella Playoffs

BOSTON – It took the Boston Celtics (7-4) two tries to eliminate the Atlanta Hawks from the 2012 NBA Playoffs. They hope they can cut that number in half when they try to kick the Philadelphia 76ers (6-5) to the curb for the first time at 8 p.m. tonight in the Wells Fargo Center.

The Celtics have not been great at capitalizing on the opportunity to eliminate teams from the playoffs over the past five seasons. Since 2007-08, Boston has played 21 games in which it could have eliminated an opponent from the playoffs and gone just 10-11 in those contests.

Doc Rivers has been on Boston’s sidelines for every one of those 21 games. He understands that his team hasn’t been great in these situations. He also understands that ending Philadelphia’s season tonight will not be a simple task.

“Well it’s not going to be easy,” Rivers said following Game 5. “Listen, this series is hard. They’re a good team. They’re an athletic team. Every minute you think we’re leaking oil, physically. So we’ve got a quick turnaround here and we’re going to have to be ready.”

Thankfully the turnaround isn’t such that requires a back-to-back. Both teams had Tuesday off, a day the Celtics used to watch film and take their short flight to the City of Brotherly Love. Boston has struggled while playing in Philadelphia over the past few seasons, but it has played extremely well in the Wells Fargo Center during this series.

The Celtics blew the Sixers out in Game 3 by a score of 107-91. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo each scored at least 23 points in that contest to lead Boston to the victory.

Game 5 looked as if it was going to have a similar result. The Celtics jumped out to an 18-point lead in that contest thanks to strong play from Pierce (24 points) and Rondo (15 points, 15 assists). However, Boston’s offense fell apart in the second half and Philadelphia completed an enormous comeback.

“I just told our guys, I said, ‘You know we’re just going to keep fighting. That’s what we do. It ain’t pretty. Just keep grinding it,’ ” Doug Collins told reporters after that game.

That’s exactly what the Celtics must take note of heading into tonight’s Game 6. The Sixers have proven time and time again that they will not quit or go away quietly. Likewise, the C’s have proven the same point. Neither team has been able to win consecutive games in this series through the first five contests.

Boston will be looking to buck that trend tonight. The Celtics finished off the Sixers with ease in Game 5, winning by 16 points, and if they can do the same tonight they’ll be the first team to advance to the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Attack the Glass

The Celtics overcame the odds in Game 5 by winning the contest despite losing the rebounding battle 37-31. It was the first time in this series that the winning team had been outrebounded. Let’s be clear in stating that the possibility of that happening again is highly unlikely.

Boston must attack the glass tonight with much more fury than it did during Monday’s game. Not a single player on the team grabbed more than six rebounds, and Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass were the only Celtics who grabbed more than four.

Winning the rebounding battle requires a team effort, and it will also require Garnett returning to his double-digit rebounding ways.

Active Hands

What was the one thing that stood out to Collins the most after his team was run off the court in Game 5? The fact that his team didn’t take care of the ball.

“You can’t play one-handed against this team,” Collins said. “You can’t make careless, one-handed pass against this team. They’re too good; they’re quick. Their perimeter guys have great anticipation.”

Collins’ team did play carelessly Monday night. The Sixers committed 15 turnovers that led to 18 points for the Celtics. Five of those 15 turnovers took place in the most critical stage of the game in the third quarter.

Philadelphia cannot afford to make lazy mistakes like this tonight if it is going to avoid the end of its season.

Perimeter Defense

When it was announced that Avery Bradley would sit out Game 5 with a pair of sore shoulders, everyone assumed that the floodgates would be opened up for Philadelphia’s guards. After all, Bradley is one of the best on-ball defenders in the league.

The Celtics’ guards had something to say about that. They shut down Philadelphia’s perimeter scorers for the majority of the contest, as Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams combined to score just 27 points on 10-of-26 shooting.

To put it bluntly, if the Sixers’ top-scoring guards shoot like that again tonight, Philadelphia would need a miracle to win the game. Boston shut those players down without Bradley, and there’s a possibility that Bradley will boost the lineup with a return in Game 6. That’s not good news for Philly fans.

Philly teams beat Boston, Sox lose first game of the series; Celtics drop Game 4, series tied 2-2

Getty Images
Daniel Bard pitched during the game against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

The Boston Red Sox didn’t do well against the Phillies. Bard struggled right off the bat in the first inning. He allowed four runs to the Phillies. Bard immediately walked Rollins to begin the game and also got Juan Pierre to ground out. But then Bard gave up two consecutive walks to Victorino and Pence to load the bases, which later allowed Carlos Ruiz to score two runs on a single. Then Wigginton hit a sacrifice fly to score Pence and finally as the last run of the inning, Bard gave up an RBI single to Mayberry.

Aviles managed to put the Red Sox on the board with a solo shot in the top of the 3rd. But still the Red Sox were down 1-4. Daniel Nava added on another run in the top of the 4th by hitting a sacrifice fly to score Cody Ross. Daniel Bard didn’t give up another run to the Phillies until the bottom of the 5th inning when Hunter Pence hit a home run to put the Phillies up five runs to the Sox’s two. The Red Sox continued to chip away at the lead. Cody Ross banged a home run in the top of 6th and then Gonzalez also hit one out of the park to put the Sox up even closer to the Phillies, 4-5. But Franklin Morales also gave up a solo HR to Galvis in the 8th and then Papelbon, former Red Sox closer, shut down the Sox in the top of the 9th for any hope of trying to come back from the run deficit.

The 9th could’ve been different though. Marlon Byrd grounded out; however I totally believe that Ty Wigginton came off the bag when he jumped to catch shortstop’s Jimmy Rollins throw. Bobby Valentine got ejected by the home plate umpire for arguing the call though I totally would’ve argued that call if I was in Bobby’s shoes. The argument was interesting to watch especially considering the umpire’s gum went flying out of his mouth and just hit Bobby in the face.Anyway, Papelbon got his 12th save of the season with his new team and Hamels continued to be stellar, getting his 6th win of the season and 6th consecutive win at that.

Tonight’s a new slate. The Red Sox look to get back on track with the help of Jon Lester (2-3, 3.71 ERA), while Philadelphia looks to Joe Blanton (4-3, 2.96 ERA). Blanton is now 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his past four starts. However, Lester is 2-0 with a 0.43 ERA in three career starts against the Phillies. The game begins at 7.15pm on FOX.

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) shoots as Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (5) and Philadelphia 76ers forward Lavoy Allen (50) wait under the basket in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series on Friday, May 18, 2012, in Philadelphia.

Also the Celtics unfortunately fell to the 76ers in Game 4 in a 92-83 defeat. Paul Pierce had a great game delivering 24 points to the board. The Celtics will start Game 5 in TD Garden on Monday, May 21st at 7pm on TNT. Hopefully the Celtics can regain control of the series before heading back to Philly for Game 6. Need Boston to beat these damn Philly teams!

Celtics take control of the series 2-1 in a dominating 107-91 victory over 76ers

Matt Slocum, AP

The Boston Celtics took the lead in the series against the Philadelphia 76ers tonight. They won 107-91 to take Game 3 and the first team to win a game by double digits in this series; each of the last two games were decided by only one point. Garnett absolutely dominated again by scoring 27 points and 13 rebounds. Garnett was also 13 of the 32 points in the second quarter and turned the seven point deficit the Celtics had into a lovely 13 point lead. Pierce is battling a MCL injury and has failed to be a huge impact player the Celtics could use. He has only scored 21 points in the first two games combined; however he still managed to dunk the ball a few times in tonight’s game and received 24 of the Trio’s (Garnett, Pierce, Rondo) 74 points of the game. Additionally, Pierce had 14 rebounds. Rondo had 23 points, 14 assists, and one turnover as well.

On the other side, Thaddeus Young notched 22 points, while Jrue Holiday scored 15 points for the 76ers. In addition both Lou Williams and Jodie Meeks scored 13 points each.

The next game will occur on Friday, May 18th at 8pm on ESPN. Once again, this game will take place in Philadelphia, but will be the last game in Philadelphia until Game 6 as Game 5 will be held in Boston.

Red Sox win first game against Mariners, Beckett takes the mound in last game; Celtics lose Game 2 and head to Philly

Photo Credit: Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Red Sox won yesterday night against the Mariners in a 6-1 victory behind Jon Lester. The first Seattle run came in the top of the 9th by Kyle Seager, but the Red Sox added on runs consistently throughout the game. Ortiz scored the first run in the bottom of the 1st. Later Gonzalez doubled which drove home Ortiz to make it 2-0. Nava continued to contribute to the Red Sox by belting a 2-run home run in the bottom of the 4th. Then Shoppach hit a solo shot to left. Then in the 8th, Byrd hit a sacrifice fly to right which allowed Middlebrooks to break to home, making it 6-0 before Seattle scored its first and only run in the 9th. Lester received his second win of the season.

The Seattle Mariners have Blake Beavan (1-3, 4.32 ERA) today while the Red Sox have Josh Beckett (2-4, 5.97). Beckett looks to regain Red Sox Nation’s confidence after losing a horrible game to the Cleveland Indians in his last start.

The Celtics on the other hand now head to Philadelphia in a tied 1-1 series. In Game 2, the Celtics lost to the 76ers 82-81. The next game will begin on Wednesday, May 16th at 7pm on TNT.

Celtics look to take 2-0 series lead against 76ers, game preview

Larry Johnson

Tonight the Celtics continue the second round series against the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden. The game will begin at 7pm. Once again it will air on TNT. Hopefully the Celtics can take the 2-0 series lead before they head to Philadelphia’s turf.

Here’s a preview article by Marc D’Amico on tonight’s upcoming game.

Arbella Game 2 Preview: 76ers at Celtics

By Marc D’Amico
May 14, 2012

Arbella Playoffs

BOSTON – Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals matchup between the Boston Celtics (5-2) and the Philadelphia 76ers (4-3) will take place at 7 p.m. tonight in TD Garden. Boston, which won Game 1 Saturday night, will look to advance its home record in the playoffs to 5-0.

The Celtics took Philadelphia down by a score of 92-91 Saturday night in the Garden in front of a raucous crowd. Boston came back from as many as 13 points down, including a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, to steal the series-opening win.

“Every time we’d take the lead they’d make a run, but we just gathered ourselves, gathered ourselves, kept grinding, kept grinding,” Paul Pierce said after the game. “We started rebounding the ball a lot better and the defense really settled in and that’s why we took the lead and overcame.”

Paul Pierce fired up 11 shots against Andre Iguodala and the Sixers in Game 1, but only three of them fell through the hoop. (Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty)

Getting over that hump Saturday night was monumental for the Celtics. They have put themselves in a great spot in this series, as they enter tonight’s game with an opportunity to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. That’s a much more favorable position than they would be in had they lost. Attempting to avoid an 0-2 hole on your home floor is almost a must-win situation.

While Boston is sitting pretty after its series-opening victory, Philadelphia is on the other end of the spectrum. Its goal of winning one of the first two games of the series is still alive, but losing in the fashion that it did in Game 1 could be demoralizing for a young team like the Sixers.

Doug Collins’ team is comprised of 14 players whose average age is about 25 years old. These youngsters are making just their second postseason run together and continue to learn by the day. Despite those facts, Collins is confident that his team will display plenty of confidence when it returns to the court for Game 2 tonight.

“If you followed our team all year, that’s sort of who we are – we’re not going to drop our heads. We don’t do that,” Collins said shortly after Game 1. “We’ll live to come back and we’ll fight just as hard in Game 2.”

If the 76ers deliver on that promise, Boston will need a shot in the arm prior to tip-off. Doc Rivers acknowledged after Saturday’s game that Philadelphia came out swinging and had the Celtics on their heels. The C’s struggled to 30 percent shooting in the first quarter, putting themselves in a double-digit deficit that they had to fight back from all night long.

Despite leading the Sixers for a total of just 5 minutes and 22 seconds of playing time in Game 1, the Celts somehow snagged a big win at home. They’ll try to do the same thing tonight, but hopefully in a much easier fashion.

Philly’s Defense on KG

Of all of the comments Collins made following Game 1, the most surprising one indicated that he and his coaching staff have decided to let Kevin Garnett beat them rather than Boston’s perimeter players.

“We’re not going to run out at him,” Collins said of Garnett. “We’re going to obviously to try and get a hand in his face, but then all of a sudden you start running around and doing all that, now you free up Paul Pierce and all these other guys. I mean, you have to pick your poison.”

Garnett has definitely been poison for opponents. He dropped 29 points in Game 1 to follow up a 28-point performance in Game 6 against Atlanta. Garnett is locked in right now.

We might see a radical defensive change for the 76ers tonight despite what Collins insinuated with the quote above. With Pierce, Ray Allen and Avery Bradley all hobbled, it might be a wise decision to let them be the poison rather than Garnett.

Which leads us to…

Overall Health

Everyone knew that the C’s headed into Game 1 with a long list of ailments, most notably to Pierce (knee sprain) and Allen (sore ankle). Although Pierce nailed a big jumper late in the game, he shot just 3-for-11 and had no lift on his shot. Meanwhile, Allen scored 12 points off of the bench but seemed to aggravate his injury on several occasions.

“I thought 10 different times he was hurt again,” Rivers said of Allen. “He hit the floor four or five times.”

Boston did not practice on Sunday to give its ailing bodies some time to heal up. The team was able to escape Game 1 despite those injuries resulting in subpar performances. Overcoming those odds in two consecutive games is quite a challenge. That’s why the Celtics need Pierce and Allen to shoot the ball more efficiently this time around.

Contest Perimeter Shots

Rivers calls Lou Williams a “shot-maker” and Jrue Holiday has been on fire in the playoffs. That guard combo is a big reason why the Sixers are where they are today. However, Williams and Holiday struggled mightily in Game 1, combining to shoot just 7-for-20 from the field.

To put it simply, Philadelphia is not going to win this series with those two players shooting so poorly. There are other players on the 76ers’ roster who can put the ball through the basket, but this combo, and Williams in particular, are relied on heavily to lead the team’s shooting efforts.

Philadelphia will be looking to get these players back on track, but Boston will be looking to keep them on ice. The C’s contested Philly’s shots very well in Game 1, and that’s all you can ask for. After that, you just hope that the ball doesn’t go in… and it didn’t Saturday night.

Red Sox go 2-1 in Tribe series, take on Indians tomorrow afternoon; Celtics take Game 1 against 76ers

Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Red Sox beat the Indians again with great pitching from Felix Doubront. He pitched till the 6th inning, allowed one run in the 6th, and struck out five batters, two of which were in the top of the 1st inning.

The Red Sox put themselves on the board in the bottom of the 3rd. The Sox hit back-to-back doubles by Pedroia and Ortiz, whom scored a RBI each. Red Sox took the lead 2-0. Later in the bottom of the 4th, Nava singled on a line drive and Saltalamacchia hit a ground-rule double that advanced Nava to 3rd. Aviles drove home Nava on a sacrifice fly to make the score 3-0. In the top of the 6th, Kipnis scored the first Indian run of the night off of a single to score Lou Marson. But Cody Ross hit a solo shot to answer back the Indians run in the bottom of the 6th, putting the Sox up 4-1. In the top of the 7th, Miller replaced Doubront. Miller had a 1-2-3 inning, then so did Padilla. Then Aceves came out in the top of the 9th to close out the game and notch his seventh save of the season.

Tomorrow the Red Sox will play the last game of the series against the Indians at 1.35pm on NESN. Daniel Bard (2-4, 4.83 ERA) will be on the mound for the Red Sox and former Red Sox, Justin Masterson (1-2, 4.89 ERA – who I also deeply miss), will be on the mound for the Indians.

Mel Evans/AP

It’s a great night for Boston, both the Red Sox and Celtics won their matchups. The Celtics, after eliminating the Hawks from the first round, took on the Philadelphia 76ers in the first game of the second round playoff series and won a close 92-91 victory at the Garden. Garnett once again had an excellent game posting 29 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks over 38 minutes. Rondo had another postseason triple-double by scoring 13 points, 17 assists, and 12 rebounds. Avery Bradley also had great defensive efforts. On the other side, Andre Iguodala posted 19 points and Evan Turner had a double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers.

Celtics win series 4-2 against Hawks, will face the 76ers in next round

Last night the Celtics were victorious in a 83-80 win over the Atlanta Hawks to eliminate their opponents and advance themselves to the second round playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers. Kevin Garnett was the leader in last night’s game posting 28 points, 14 rebounds, three steals, and five blocks. Paul Pierce also greatly helped the Celtics by block Joe Johnson’s shot when there was only 3.9 seconds left in regulation. Also last night, Hollins made a huge play by rebounding Garnett’s missed shot. He grabbed the ball and went back up to drive the basket home inducing tons of faithful Celtics’ fans cheers. Not only did he capitalized on the play, but he also received a foul shot by Al Horford, which gave the Celtics another go-ahead basket.

The win ended the series with the Celtics beating the Hawks 4-2. The Celtics next game will not occur until this Saturday night at 8.00pm on TNT, so the Celtics will have a day to relax and prepare for their upcoming series against the 76ers, who eliminated the Chicago Bulls.

Celtics in the Garden for Game 6, look to end series

The Celtics take on the Hawks again tonight at 8pm in Game 6. The Celtics still have the 3-2 series lead and hope to finish off the series tonight. The game is viewable on TNT.

Arbella Game 6 Preview: Hawks at Celtics

By Marc D’Amico
May 10, 2012

Arbella Playoffs

BOSTON – A loss in Game 5 to the Atlanta Hawks (2-3) has left the Boston Celtics (3-2) with a second chance to close out their first-round series. This time that opportunity will arrive in Boston.

The C’s and Hawks will meet for Game 6 at 8 p.m. tonight in TD Garden in a game that will result in either Boston advancing to the next round or the Hawks staving off elimination yet again.

Atlanta pulled off an 87-86 win Tuesday night in Philips arena to prolong its season by at least another game. That victory cut Boston’s series lead to 3-2 and potentially put some momentum in Atlanta’s favor. However, the series has now shifted back to Boston and the Celtics will have their home crowd rooting them on tonight.

Boston and Atlanta have played two games in TD Garden during this series and the Celts have come out on top in both of them. The first was a 90-84 victory in overtime and the second was a 101-79 blowout. Tonight’s contest will likely be closer to the former if Game 5 was any indication.

(Mike Zarrilli/NBAE/Getty)
Paul Pierce struggled to hit shots Tuesday night, including this final attempt with 18.9 seconds left in regulation.

These two teams went down to the wire Tuesday night in Atlanta, and the Celtics were one bucket away from moving on to the next round. It was a back-and-forth game, with each team making big runs. Rajon Rondo nearly saved the day for Boston when he stole an inbounds pass with 10.9 seconds remaining in the game. That steal gave the C’s the ball on the final possession of the game with an opportunity to win, but without a timeout in the bag they were unable to run an effective play and failed to score.

That loss surely stung the C’s, and there are a few steps they’ll need to take tonight in order to avoid a similar result. First of all, they will need to match the intensity level of the Hawks.

“Overall, I thought they played harder and better than us,” Doc Rivers said after the loss.

In addition to removing that advantage from Atlanta, Boston will also need to receive a better offensive performance from Paul Pierce while slowing down Al Horford.

Pierce, who is playing through a sprained left knee, struggled mightily Tuesday night. He had no lift on his jumper and finished the night shooting 7-of-17 from the field. Pierce shot an airball on a pretty good look from his sweet spot with 18.9 seconds left in the game, a strong indication that he simply was not right. The hope is that 48 hours between games will allow that knee to heal enough for Pierce to bounce back and shoot the ball effectively tonight.

While Pierce was struggling with his injury, Horford excelled as he played through his. In just his second game back from a four-month absence due to a torn left pectoral muscle, Horford was dominant with a game-high 19 points that went along with 11 boards, three assists and three blocks. He changes the dynamic of Atlanta’s team at both ends of the floor, allowing Joe Johnson to shift back to shooting guard and Marvin Williams to step in as the starting small forward.

The Celtics struggled against that lineup Tuesday night. None of Atlanta’s starters finished with a negative plus/minus rating. Boston will need to make several adjustments against this new Hawks team tonight if it hopes to close this series in front of its home crowd.

Bodies on Bigs

Game 5 brought back memories of Boston’s regular-season kryptonite: rebounding. Atlanta won the rebounding department by a count of 41-33, and it was almost entirely due to the fact that the C’s couldn’t contain Atlanta’s two starting big men.

Horford and Josh Smith combined for 27 rebounds Tuesday night. That’s just six less than the entire Celtics team. Those two starting big men dominated the glass while not a single Boston player grabbed more than seven rebounds.

There’s no doubt that in order to grab this win, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and every other big man on Boston’s roster will need to get their bodies into Smith and Horford on every single shot attempt. The C’s cannot afford to be dominated on the glass again.

These Hawks are Different

What got into the Hawks during Game 5? It was the presence of an effective Horford.

The Hawks’ lineup changes dramatically with Horford on the floor, which alters the way Boston plays defense. In prior games, when Jason Collins or Erick Dampier were playing center, the C’s could toss Bass or any reserve big man on those players while Garnett defended Smith. That can’t happen now with Horford on the floor. Boston needs Garnett, the team’s best rebounder, to be matched up with Horford.

That may seem like a minimal change, but it makes a world of difference. Now the Hawks can use Smith in post-up situations against Bass and others, which forces Boston to double-team. In Game 5, the Hawks burned the C’s with 3-pointers when Boston chose to double-team.

Riled Up Rondo

Many NBA analysts around the country believe Rondo is the best player on this talented Celtics squad. Boston needs him to prove those analysts correct for the entirety of Game 6 tonight.

Rondo finished Game 5 with a solid box score line of 13 points, five rebounds and 12 assists. That looks great on the surface, but the majority of that production came in the second half. Rondo headed into halftime with just five points, two rebounds and two assists to his credit.

The Celtics cannot afford to have Rondo show up for one of the two halves tonight. They need him to be the dominant force he can be for every minute he’s on the floor.

Celtics didn’t push enough to end series, Game 6 heading back to Boston

(Mike Zarrilli/NBAE/Getty)
Rajon Rondo and Jeff Teague go eye-to-eye during Game 5.

The Celtics head back to Boston for Game 6 against the Atlanta Hawks after their 87-86 defeat to the birds last night. The Celtics still lead the series 3-2 against Atlanta. the Celtics had a late game comeback that was pushed by Rajon Rondo who had 13 points and 12 assists.; however the Hawks’ Al Horford scored 19 points and put up 11 rebounds and three blocks. The next game is on Thursday, May 10th from the Garden at 8.00pm. Although I would have liked the Celtics to end the series last night, it would be nice to finish in front of the home crowd (hopefully).

Game 5 Recap 87-86

By Marc D’Amico
May 8, 2012

Key Moment

Tuesday night’s Game 6 was a game of runs, and the Atlanta Hawks made the final one that mattered.


Boston tied this one up at 83-83 when Ray Allen drilled a critical 3-pointer with 2:41 remaining in the game. Allen’s 3 capped a 7-0 run by the Celtics that completely flipped the momentum of the game. The Hawks, however, did not waver.

Atlanta immediately called for a timeout and returned to the court with confidence. The team was patient in its ensuing offensive set and that led to a big dunk by Al Horford in the final seconds of the shot clock. Interestingly enough, the big man who hadn’t played in nearly four months before his action in Game 4 delivered another big basket less than a minute later.

Kevin Garnett missed a jumper after Horford’s first basket and the Hawks took the ball back to the offensive end of the floor. They again showed patience and Horford wound up with the ball on the right baseline, about 10 feet from the basket. He chose to drive to the basket but was met by several Celtics. The strong defense forced Horford to toss up a running floater – not a shot that’s in his standard arsenal – and the shot fell through the net.

That bucket put Atlanta ahead 87-83 with 1:34 remaining in the game. The Celtics had an opportunity to win it on the final possession thanks to an incredible steal by Rajon Rondo on a Hawks inbound pass, but it was all for naught. Rondo turned it back over just seconds later while Horford harassed him along the sideline in the frontcourt.

Boston had an opportunity to complete a 5-0 run in the final minute of the game that would have sent them to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Instead, the Celtics came up short on the final possession and left Atlanta’s previous 4-0 run as the one that kept this series ticking.

Key Box Score Line

Someone very important returned to Atlanta’s lineup in Game 4. His name is Al Horford, and he really returned in Game 5.

After a productive yet rusty performance in his first game in nearly four months, no one knew what Horford would bring to the table moving forward in the series. Heck, even he himself said he wasn’t x sure if he’d play in Game 5. But oh, did he play in Game 5.

If you read the Key Moment highlighted above, you already know that Horford was a one-man wrecking crew in the final minutes of Atlanta’s Game 5 victory. He scored the final four points of the game for the Hawks – the game-clinching points. He also stayed in front of Rajon Rondo in a one-on-one situation with the game on the line for the game-clinching defensive play.

Those were the game-changing plays he made, but those certainly weren’t the only plays he made.

Horford logged a ridiculous 41 minutes of action Tuesday night and put up team highs of 19 points and three steals. He also contributed 11 boards, which were four more than any Celtics player grabbed, and three assists. Horford shot 8-of-15 from the field and finished with a plus-10 in the plus/minus category.

Atlanta’s starting center was sensational tonight in just his second game back from injury. The Celtics will need to figure out how to stop him if they plan on closing this series out back in Boston.

Al Horford – May 8, 2012

41:00 8-15 0-0 3-4 4 7 11 3 3 4 3 19

Full Box Score

Box Score Nuggets

  • Two Hawks players, Josh Smith (16 boards) and Al Horford (11 boards) grabbed at least 11 rebounds while not a single Celtics player grabbed more than seven.
  • Horford scored a game-high 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting.
  • Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who tied for the team-high in scoring with 16 points apiece, each made seven field goals.
  • Rajon Rondo led the game in assists with 12 and played nearly 44 minutes.
  • All five of Atlanta’s starters played at least 35:29.
  • Rondo committed a game-high five turnovers.
  • Avery Bradley, who scored just two points, was the only starter in the game who didn’t score in double-figures.
  • Horford’s three blocked shots matched the total of Boston’s team.
  • All five of Atlanta’s starters scored between 13 and 19 points.
  • Ray Allen scored 15 points off of the bench for the Celtics.
  • Both teams shot better than 40 percent from downtown.
  • Kevin Garnett, who finished with a plus-17 in the plus/minus category, was the only Boston starter to finish in the positive of that category.
  • Atlanta, which had shot 38.5 percent over the first four games, shot 46.6 percent in Game 5.
  • Both teams led by double-digits in the game and there were five ties and five lead changes.
  • Atlanta scored 16 second-chance points.

Quote of the Night

Rajon Rondo on the final play of the game: “I tried to make a play but got caught on the baseline. Give Al (Horford) credit. I just didn’t come up with the shot.”

Celtics look to close out the Hawks series tonight

Boston Celtics are ahead 3-1 as they head back to Atlanta to take on the Hawks for Game 5. Hopefully they can close out the series and advance themselves tonight. The game begins tonight at 8.00pm (nine minutes from now!) from Philips Arena. Turn your channel to TNT to catch all the action. Go Celtics!

Celtics take dominating 3-1 lead in first round series against Hawks

Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty

Paul Pierce lead the Celtics to another win 101-79 at the Garden to allow the Celtics to take the lead series lead 3-1. Paul Pierce dominated with 24 points in just 16 minutes of play. Rondo was great as well posting 20 points, 16 assists, and three steals. In addition, Allen led the team with five rebounds and 12 points to contribute to the win. Also Hawks’ Josh Smith returned after being absent from Friday’s game. He scored 15 points and 13 rebounds for Atlanta. By halftime the Celtics were in a commanding 63-41 lead. During this time, the officials reviewed Allen’s jumper and indeed changed it from a 2-point shoot to a 3-pointer. Additionally, the Celtics once led an amazing 80-43 lead over the trailing Hawks.

The next game begins at 8.00pm on Tuesday, May 8th on TNT.

Sox lose to the Orioles 6-4 in 13th inning; Celtics win big at the Garden and take series lead 2-1

(Elise Amendola, Associated Press)

The Red Sox, unfortunately due to the glove of Morales, did not become victorious last night against the Os. The Orioles took the lead in the top of the 13th inning with a single by Chris Davis and they added on an insurance run to make it 6-4. Previously though the Red Sox jumped on the lead by scoring Cody Ross on a passed ball in the bottom of the 2nd. The next inning Mark Reynolds homered to tie the game 1-1, but the Sox struck back the next at-bat. The Sox scored twice; once from Ortiz’s ground out which got Gonzalez home and the second from a sac fly by Cody Ross to score Pedroia. The Orioles proceeded to tie the game up again in the top of the fourth 3-3. It wasn’t until a single in the bottom of the 5th by Pedroia which scored Middlebrooks that allowed Red Sox to take the lead 4-3, but unfortunately the Orioles scored the tying run in the top of the 7th to push the game into the 13th inning where they took the whole game.

Today the Sox will be behind veteran Aaron Cook who makes his first major league debut for the Red Sox at 1.10pm on NESN. The right hander will be going against Jason Hammel (3-1, 1.97 ERA). With less than an hour away, the lineup still hasn’t been posted.

Better news from last night, the Boston Celtics took the series lead 2-1 with a 90-84 overtime win from the Garden. Rondo and Allen both returned to the lineup last night to help the Celtics win. Allen posted 13 points and Rondo finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists. Additionally, Garnett scored 20 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks. The Celtics next game will begin at 7.00pm on Sunday, May 6th from the Garden.


Sox fall 3-5 to As; Celtics rise in Rondo’s absence to take Game 2

Yesterday there looked like some hope in the bottom of the ninth, but unfortunately a liner to the As second baseman from Pedroia ended any hope of a walk-off win at a 5-3 defeat to the West. Doubront wasn’t amazing like he was in his first outing against the New York Yankees. Felix went only 4 innings, throwing 94 pitches and allowing 5 runs on just 6 hits. He did manage to get 8 Ks. The rest of the bullpen was great and recorded scoreless innings. Doubront gave up one run in the first inning to Yoenis Cespedes. The Athletics then banged on four more runs in the top of the fourth to send Doubront back to the dugout. Pennington doubled to score Suzuki, which was later followed by a 2 run RBI single from Weeks, who later stole third and got home because of a throwing error by Doubront. The only run the Red Sox could muster up before their 9th inning almost-comeback was a sac grounder by Papi which scored Pedroia in the fourth. Aviles scored the last two runs for the Sox when he lined a drive to center field during a bases loaded jam for the Athletics.

(Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox)

On a brighter side, the Boston Celtics won last night’s Game 2 to tie the series 1-1 as they head back home to TD Garden. With the absence of Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen, Paul Pierce rose to the occasion leading the Celtics with 36 points and 14 rebounds in a 87-80 victory over the Hawks. Bradley also scored 14 points and had three blocks. The Hawks also lost their man Josh Smith due to a knee sprain. Game 3 begins at 7.30pm on Friday May 4th on ESPN and CSN. And yes, Pierce did Tebowed…

Celtics lose Rondo for Game 2, must win without him

The Celtics begin Game 2 at 7.30pm tonight on CSN from Philips Arena. They will have to figure out how to win on their opponent’s turf without the help of Rondo. Rondo was suspended for bumping into referee Marc Davis during the final minutes of Game 1.

Here’s a preview article about Game 2 by Marc D’Amico.

ATLANTA – The Boston Celtics (0-1) found out on Monday evening that they’ll need to win Game 2 against the Atlanta Hawks (1-0) without the services of Rajon Rondo.

Rondo, who has been suspended by the NBA for one game, will not be on the floor with his teammates when the ball goes up at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Philips Arena.

Fortunately for Boston, it found out relatively quickly that it will be without its All-Star point guard. News broke to the public at about 5 p.m. Monday evening, but the Celtics had been preparing all along as if they would be without Rondo. They were also able to get in a shootaround this morning with Avery Bradley running the point.

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“The one thing I was happy with was how quickly they did it. I thought that was great… Usually they wait until the day of,” said Doc Rivers at Tuesday’s shootaround. “Historically, it’s been after shootaround and you get back to the hotel and you get the information that a guy’s not playing. I think that was one of the complaints I know a lot of the guys had, and to me, the fact that they did it early enough for us – it was after practice, but at least it gave us enough time to prepare for it in shootaround.”

While all of the attention is being placed on Rondo’s absence, the fact of the matter is that the Celtics must find a way to grab a win tonight. Heading back to Boston in an 0-2 hole would put them in a bind that they certainly don’t want to be in. To tie this series up, Boston will need to increase its execution dramatically in comparison to its performance in Game 1.

Rivers seemed very upset with his team’s performance when he took to the podium after Sunday night’s loss. He did not like the team’s execution on offense, particularly with ball movement, and he was peeved by the defensive performance in the first quarter.

The remedy for the offense is relatively simple: Boston needs to pass the ball better. As Rivers alluded to after Sunday’s game, the Celtics aren’t equipped to win basketball games if they aren’t sharing the basketball at the offensive end of the floor.

“We need to do a better job as a group to move the ball and get to the second option,” Rivers said Sunday night. “I thought we were a first-option team and a same-side-of-the-floor team for most of the game. And we’re not going to win a lot of games playing like that.”

Boston moved the ball so well this season that it ranked second in the NBA with an average of 23.6 assists a night. That’s a season’s worth of numbers to show us that the likelihood of them not moving the ball again tonight is fairly low.

While the offense is likely to straighten itself out with more ball movement, fixing the defense might prove to be a more difficult challenge, particularly because of Josh Smith. Smith was the best player on the floor Sunday night when he notched 22 points and 18 rebounds.

In Rivers’ opinion, the Celtics need to make Smith score in the half-court tonight against a set defense.

“His jumper was falling, but I thought a lot of them were early, too,” Rivers said. “I thought he got us again, we didn’t set our defense. We didn’t contest a lot of shots of his. We have to contest shots, but I thought a lot of that was because we were scrambling in cross-matchups.”

The attention tonight will be placed on Boston’s ability to withstand the absence of Rondo and its ability to slow down Smith’s offense. A successful night in both of those categories could lead to a critical win for the Celtics on the road.

Handling the Pressure

Bradley was playing in the first playoff game of his career in Game 1, and you could tell. He was rushing and shot just 4-of-12 in the game. The pressure of playing in his first playoff game is not off of his shoulders, but Bradley will now need to handle physical ball pressure from the Hawks when he’s playing point guard tonight.

“Do what he does to us,” Josh Smith said Tuesday morning of Atlanta’s game plan for defending Bradley. “He’s one of the great defenders in this league at a young age, and just see if he likes it a little bit, picking him up full-court, turning him a little bit and making it hard for him to initiate the offense a little bit.”

Bradley’s ability to handle that pressure will be a critical factor in this game. Paul Pierce and others will also get an opportunity to bring the ball up the court, but Bradley will be the primary option.

Who Will Step Up

It’s been a recurring situation for the Celtics all season long: Someone goes out and someone else needs to step in. Tonight, Boston will need one of its players to step in and deliver a solid performance off the bench with Rondo out of the lineup.

One man who’s confident in his ability to step up in this situation is Keyon Dooling. He played six minutes in Game 1 and Rivers called his performance “great.” Dooling is a seasoned veteran who never seems to be rattled. He understands how Playoff games work, because he’s been there and done that.

“The Playoff game is definitely different from the regular season,” Dooling said. “It’s a possession-by-possession, an inch-by-inch game, and I’m prepared to fight every inch. I know I can do it. I’ve done it before.”

Transition Defense

Fast-break points aren’t always an indication of how well a team scores in transition. Game 1 was evidence of such.

Atlanta recorded just 10 fast-break points in the contest – one less than the Celtics – but its transition offense is what worries Rivers. The Hawks opened up the series with a fast-break basket and were able to catch the Celtics in bad matchups throughout the remainder of the night. As Rivers has stated over the past couple of days, that can’t happen in Game 2.

“We have to get back. We were awful in transition,” Rivers said before Tuesday’s shootaround. “They scored the first bucket of the game (in transition). So we have to be better in transition. We have to force them to play against our half-court defense.”

Red Sox and Celtics lost yesterday; Sox head back home

Yesterday the Red Sox were almost no-hit by Chicago White Sox’s Gavin Floyd in a 4-1 defeat. Beckett was on the mound yesterday and had a rough first inning. After the RBI single given to Alex Rios and the homer to Adam Dunn which gave the White Sox the lead in the first, Beckett looked fine going 6.2 innings, allowing six hits and only three walks, and striking out eight batters. However, Floyd was better. Until the fifth inning when he walked Cody Ross, Floyd had a perfect game and it wasn’t until the seventh inning the Red Sox batters were able to get a hit off of him. Dustin Pedroia broke up Floyd’s bid at a no-hitter. Later after Ortiz’s double, Cody Ross hit an RBI single in the seventh which was the only run the Sox could muster up against Floyd. The Sox won the series, but Red Sox Nation’s brooms didn’t come out in Chicago. The Red Sox now have come back home to take on the Oakland Athletics after a 6-1 road trip. The Sox will host a three game homestand for the Athletics, starting with a match up of Clay Buchholz (2-1, 8.87 ERA) against the left-hander Tommy Milone (3-1, 2.00 ERA).

The Celtics were also not very fortunate last night like the Sox. The Celtics lost their first game 74-83 in round one of the NBA playoffs to the Atlanta Hawks. For much of the beginning, the Celtics didn’t look like themselves and trailed far behind the Hawks. They made a late push in the game, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to surpass the Hawks to take Game 1. Hawks’ Josh Smith scored 22 points and had 18 rebounds. In the first quarter, Garnett only had two points, but later was able to put up 20 points and 11 rebounds. The loss was bad, but the call made in the final minutes was and might possibly be more devastating on the Celtics. Rondo was upset about a foul call made by referee Marc Davis and bumped his chest into the back of him, immediately receiving an ejection call from Davis. Therefore, Rondo might be facing a suspension for Game 2. Certainly I may be biased for being a Celtics fan, but I don’t believe Rondo was purposely bumping into Davis. After looking at the video replay, Rondo tripped over the referee’s foot which probably set him off balanced and thus made a little push into the referee’s back. Last night Rondo had 20 points and 11 assists. He’s a young leader of the Celtics and was perhaps the best player out there last night at least in the first half of the game. Losing Rondo in the upcoming Game 2 would certainly be a huge blow to the Celtics.

“Obviously, I was upset about the call and I said some words to Marc,” Rondo told The Boston Herald. “I deserved the first tech, and as I was walking I thought he stopped, my momentum carried me into him — I even think I tripped on his foot — I didn’t intentionally chest-bump him. But that’s what it appears to be.”

The next Celtics game will be on Tuesday at 7.30pm on TNT on May 1.

The Red Sox play tonight at 7.10pm at Fenway Park. The game will once again be on NESN. The lineup still hasn’t been posted yet.

TD Garden won’t be empty much longer, here comes the NBA playoffs

After a horrible start to the season the Boston Celtics have come back and made it into the 2012 NBA Playoffs. The Celtics finished off the season well with 87-74 victory against the Bucks last night. The Celtics also finished the 39-27 (.591) with a 24-9 home record. The NBA Playoffs start this Saturday; however the Celtics don’t begin until this Sunday at 7pm against the Atlanta Hawks, who will host the first two games of the series.

Celebrating their 39th and final win of the regular season, two 7-footers, Ryan Hollins and Kevin Garnett, give each other a high five on the parquet floor.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty

Round 1 Dates and Times

Tickets are available now for Round 1 Home Playoff Games 1, 2 and 3. Use the links below to score your tickets now, and get ready for thrilling Playoff basketball at the TD Garden.

Round 1 Home Game 1Friday, 5/4 – 7:30 p.m.

Round 1 Home Game 2Sunday, 5/6 – 7:00 p.m.

Round 1 Home Game 3 (if necessary)Thursday, 5/10 – Time TBD

Here are the NBA Playoffs matchups:

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