Celtics Clinch a Playoff Spot

Boston Celtics F Paul Pierce looking for an open man against the Pistons
Picture Courtesy of csnne.com

Seventh Heaven: Following a 98-93 win over the Detroit Pistons Wednesday (April 3rd), the Boston Celtics secured a playoff spot and will likely be the seventh seed in this year’s NBA playoffs.

Despite an up and down month of March in which the C’s went 8-8 (including a six game losing streak, and losing Kevin Garnett for a few weeks), Boston has managed to will their way into the post-season once again.

Playoff Picture: With the NBA playoffs taking shape, here’s a look at what the Eastern Conference playoff seeding would look like if the season ended today (April 4th):

1) Miami Heat vs. 8) Milwaukee Bucks

4) Brooklyn Nets vs. 5) Atlanta Hawks

3) Indiana Pacers vs. 6) Chicago Bulls

2) New York Knicks vs. 7) Boston Celtics

Pierce guarding New York Knicks F Carmelo Anthony at TD Garden
Picture Courtesy of zimbio.com

The C’s would draw the Knicks as shown directly above and would undoubtedly have their work cut out for them. Boston has only played New York a total of three times this season going 1-2 for the season series.

In their win against the Knicks, Paul Pierce posted 23 points with six assists, three rebounds, and one steal, while Kevin Garnett added a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. The C’s held Carmelo Anthony to 20 points (which was solid considering he averages 28 points per game) and caused the Knicks to only shoot 40 percent from the field.

In their two losses to New York, Boston allowed Anthony to score a combined 57 points while letting J.R. Smith drop 32 points coming off the Knicks bench. Granted, in both losses the Celtics had multiple players score in double digit figures, however, the scoring combination of Anthony and Smith proved too much in those two loses.

Celtics C Kevin Garnett fading away agains New York Knicks C Tyson Chandler at TD Garden
Picture Courtesy of celticshub.com

Keys to Playoff Success: Defense will ultimately decide the outcome of Boston’s potential opening round series with the Knicks. If Paul Pierce and company can contain Anthony, who by the way dropped a combined 90 points in his last two games (April 2nd and 3rd against Miami (50) and Atlanta (40)), and hold the Knicks to a low shooting percentage while contesting shots and controlling the boards, the Celtics will have a chance against New York.

If they can’t…it will likely be curtains for the Celtics who will see an early exit if they fail to contain Anthony and the Knicks.

Final Thoughts: In what has been a brutal season for Boston, the Celtics have found a way to overcome injuries and losing streaks to give themselves a chance at a championship. Though it may be a long shot with the Heat, Knicks, and Pacers all looking like NBA Finals champions, the Celtics are in it to win it like everybody else. And when your Boston, you’re never counted out. How do you feel the C’s will fair in the playoffs? Leave a comment below.

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Beating the Odds: C’s Avoid Anticipated Collapse

Celtics Competing:  I’ll admit I was one of the many who threw their hands up and said, “What are we going to do now?” when I heard Rajon Rondo was out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Well, since then the Celtics have responded to everyone’s questions the old fashioned way…by simply winning.

The Celtics have won eight of their last nine games with impressive victories over the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, and Chicago Bulls . More importantly, and surprisingly, the C’s have done so without the likes of Rondo, Jared Sullinger, and more recently Leandro Barbosa (all out for the remainder of the season due to injury).

Winning Ways: With the loss of Rondo and Co., Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jeff Green have led the team on the floor along with assistance from Jason Terry. Here are their numbers for the month of February:

Pierce: 17.1 PPG with 8.9 RPG and 7.3 APG

Garnett: 16.6 PPG with 10.3 RPG and 1.4 SPG

Green: 14.4 PPG with 4 RPG and 1.7 BPG

Terry: 13.1 PPG with 3.7 APG

Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Bass have also contributed, each averaging 8 PPG.

The Celtics have used a no “pure point guard” philosophy in their 8-1 stretch without Rondo, and so far it has worked well.

Playoff Probability: Although Boston is finding ways to win without a true point guard, they will have to add depth to their roster if they want to have a sure shot at the post-season. According to ESPNBoston’ Chris Forsberg, Coach Doc Rivers recently released his “shopping list” of what he felt the team needed to compete down the stretch:

“Well, I would say a ball-handling guard. It’s no longer a point guard, it’s just a guard. A guard that, if I had my perfect guard for this group right now, it would be a guard that can play multiple positions, that can shoot, and has some toughness. Then we need a big. You’re not going to find a center, so a 4. Obviously a 5 would be great, but a 4 that can stretch the floor, or a 4 that can rebound — just a great rebounding 4 that has skill. That’s the list.”

We’ll have to wait and see what kind of deals Doc and Danny Ainge can whip up in the weeks to come. As of today (February 15th) the Celtics are 28-24 overall and hold the seventh playoff spot/seed of the available eight in the Eastern Conference. Moreover, if the season ended today the C’s would make the playoffs. Of course, the season still has about 30 games to go and as we all know with any sport “anything can happen”.

Nevertheless, I whole heartedly believe Boston can continue their winning ways and place themselves somewhere between a fifth to seventh seed at seasons end. Honestly, at the rate the C’s are playing, they could even lobby for a fourth seed. We’ll just have to watch and see what happens.

Final Thoughts: With roughly 30 games left and only 10 healthy players on a 13 man roster, the C’s have their work cut out for them as they head down the final stretch. Will the Celtics make the post-season? If so, what playoff seed will they earn? Leave a comment below.

Back on the Ice: Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers Preview

Bruins Back On the Ice: The Boston Bruins open up what’s left of a 48-game regular season against the New York Rangers at 7pm in TD Garden tomorrow (Saturday Jan 19th). The Bruins vs. Rangers contest is one of 13 games on tap for tomorrow, with 6 more games on Sunday for a weekend full of hockey.

Tale of the Tape: According to the Associated Press, both the Bruins and the Rangers are potential Stanley Cup favorites entering this season. Here’s a breakdown of both teams:

Rangers: The New York Rangers enter this season with Stanely Cup hopes as they nearly missed the big game last year with a conference finals loss to their rivals the New Jersey Devils. The Rangers made an offseason addition to their roster, as they landed former Columbus Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash via trade.

Nash brings even more scoring power to an already potent mix, with Ranger forwards Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards. With the Blue Jackets Nash racked up 289 goals and 547 points in 674 games with a pair 40 goal seasons as well as 5 30+ goal seasons, according to the AP.

Then there’s the goal play of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who only allowed 1.97 goals averaged against him in 62 regular games last season. Lundqvist also posted an even more microscopic 1.82 GAA in the post-season for New York. Couple that with Nash, Gaboric, plus Richards, and the Rangers could be as good as advertised.

Bruins: The Bruins will be looking to win their second Stanley Cup Finals trophy in 3 seasons and they’ll have to try and do it without usual goalie Tim Thomas. Thomas you may remember was one of the keys to the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup triumph. Thomas decided to take this shortened season off and spend time with his family.

That puts Tuukka Rask in front of the net for Boston. Rask has promise as he posted a 2.05 GAA in 25 games backing up Thomas last season. Also, Rask posted a 1.97 GAA in a 45 game span back in 2010 when Thomas was injured. The Bruins will hope Rask can put up similar numbers in this 48-game regular season.

Aside from losing Thomas, the Bruins have most of  last year’s crew back. This includes Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, and Milan Lucic. All of whom signed multi-year contract deals with Boston before the lockout began.

The Bruins will be looking to bounce back to Stanley Cup form this year, after a first round Game 7 playoff loss to Washington last year.

Brian Boyle Milan Lucic #17 of the Boston Bruins tries to keep the puck as Brian Boyle #22 of the New York Rangers defends on February 14, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The New York Rangers defeated the Boston Bruins 3-0.

My Prediction: With this being the first game of a shortened season, it’s hard to say how any team will do. Nevertheless, I will take a shot in the dark and say the Bruins win 2-1 over the Rangers.

However, the Bruins may have a tough time scoring against the Rangers Lundqvist, as he boasts a pair of shutouts in his last 3 trips to Bean-town and a nasty 1.53 GAA in 27 games against the Bruins.

Despite the numbers, I give Boston the edge as the Bruins had 9 players who found work in Europe during the lockout. So, I’ll take experience over stats in this one.

Where to Watch: As a reminder the Bruins vs. Rangers game begins at 7pm tomorrow evening (Saturday January 19th) in the TD Garden and can be viewed on NHLN (NHLNetwork). If you’re going to the game, remember to cheer, drink, and act responsibly.

NHL= No Hope Left

Meaningless Meeting: It was more of the same this week, as the NHL and NHLPA failed once again to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. The two sides did not meet with one another, but rather met separately with federal mediators. Despite discussions lasting a total of six hours, no progress was made and no future talks are planned for now, according to sources.

At this point, the only thing that is getting accomplished is the cancellation of regular season games. All games through December 30th have been nixed. That’s almost half of the season gone (roughly 43 percent according to ESPN Stats).

Final Thoughts: Unless something can be done, and soon, I don’t foresee this lockout ending. With nearly half the season wiped out, and neither side budging (with federal mediators help mind you), I fear this season is all but lost. My advice to Boston fans: Watch pre-recorded Bruins games from last season, focus on the Celtics, and start a calendar countdown to opening day at Fenway (116 days by the way), because hockey isn’t being played anytime soon at the Garden.

Celtics Cap Mavericks in Double OT

Boston Beats Dallas: The Boston Celtics came away with a victory against the Dallas Mavericks last night in nail-biting double overtime fashion. The C’s beat the Mavs 117-115 at the Garden, thanks in part to a pair of Courtney Lee free throws in the game’s final seconds.

Lee’s made free-throws sealed the deal for Boston. Had Lee missed both of them, Dallas guard OJ Mayo’s 24 foot 3-pointer at the buzzer would have tied the game and forced a 3rd OT. Instead Mayo’s heroics were too little too late and behind Paul Pierce’s 34 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals the Celtics managed to sweat out a win.

Rajon Rondo also turned in a top performance for Boston with a double-double of 16 points and 15 assists. Rondo was a rebound shy of pulling off a triple double with 9 rebounds in the game.

Dallas’ top performers: OJ Mayo led the Mavericks in scoring with 24 points to go along with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Shawn Marion also performed well with 16 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 blocks.

Fun Facts From the Game:With a score in the games first overtime, C’s forward Paul Pierce surpassed 23,000 points for his career. Pierce becomes only the 25th player in NBA history to reach 23,000 points.

Also, six Celtics players scored in double figures in this one. Pierce 34pts, Rondo 16pts, Kevin Garnett 16pts, Jeff Green 15pts, Jason Terry 10pts, and Chris Wilcox 10pts.

Back to Back Wins for Boston:With the win over Dallas, the Celtics are now the winners of two straight games. Boston will look to build off this win, and improve on their 12 and 9 overall record, as they hit the road to face Jeremy Lin, James Harden, and the Houston Rockets this Friday at 8pm from the Toyota Center.

Boston Shouldn’t Need Any Magic Against Washington

ImageAfter beating the Washington Wizards 89-86 last Saturday, the Boston Celtics will play the Wiz again tonight in the TD Garden at 7:30pm. The C’s will be looking to win their first home game of the regular season after dropping their home opener to the Milwaukee Bucks 99-88.

Player Previews: Right now the obvious trio of Pierce, Rondo, and Garnett have and will be there all season long for the C’s. However, look for rookie Jared Sullinger to make some more noise as he is being mixed Imageinto the starting lineup and playing well (4PPG and 5 RPG).

Normally for the Wizards I would say to keep your eyes locked on star point guard John Wall and the rest will fall into place for Washington. However, the Wiz will have to rely on others to step up in his absence. Look for their big men to shine in this one. Second year power forward Trevor Booker (7.5 PPG with 5.5 RPG) and veteran center Emeka Okafor (6.5 PPG with 7 RPG) will have to control the boards and the paint if they want to win at the Garden.

When 2 Watch: Again, tonight’ contest between the C’s and Wizards will tip off at 7:30pm in the Garden. If your attending the game remember to enjoy yourself, have fun, and be sure to check back here for a game recap.

Celtics Look To Pass the Buck In Their Home Opener

ImageHome Sweet Home: Tonight the Boston Celtics will look to bounce back from a season opening loss to the reigning NBA Champs, the Miami Heat, as they host the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden at 7:30pm. Paul Pierce and company will go up against the run and gun Bucks lead by point guard Brandon Jennings. Boston should have the upper hand in this match-up as the Celtics swept the season series last year winning all three contests against Milwaukee.

Likely Lineups: Let’s take a look at the toe-to-toe roster rundown for this one:

Celtics                                                                               Bucks

PG  Rajon Rondo                                                         PG  Brandon Jennings

SG  Courtney Lee                                                        SG     Monta Ellis

SF    Paul Pierce                                                         SF    Mike Dunleavy

PF   Brandon Bass                                                       PF     Drew Gooden

C    Kevin Garnett                                                         C   Samuel Dalembert

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Player Previews: No surprise the usual suspects for Boston will come up big in this one as Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Kevin Garnett will all do their part. But look for potential six man of the year award winner Jason Terry (8 points against Miami, 4 of 4 from the free throw line) to spark for a few scores and also keep an eye on another new guy in Leandro Barbosa (16 points against the Heat) who could become a solid swing man for the C’s.

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For the Bucks the dynamic scoring duo of guards Brandon Jennings (19.1 PPG last year) and Monta Ellis (20.4 last year) is always a deadly combo. Those two can simply light up the scoreboard when they’re both clicking. Another player to watch, if he gets the minutes, is backup forward Ersan Ilyasova. Ilyasova averaged 13 PPG with 8 RPG last season. He could see more minutes if his numbers continue to have a steady uptick.

When 2 Watch: As mentioned earlier the C’s home opener will begin tonight at 7:30pm. If your going to the game be sure to cheer loudly, drink responsibly and as always enjoy the game.

She’s the Man (Part 1) – Gina M.

Looking to Score on Valentine’s Day?

Yes, you guessed it. The second post from the BSB ladies comes just in time for Hallmark holiday of the year, Valentine’s Day. You may be thinking, what does Valentine’s Day and Boston Sports have in common? Absolutely nothing if you already have dinner reservations and flowers picked out. However, if that doesn’t apply to you, I would high tail it to the Garden on Tuesday night to celebrate the right way…with the Bruins. The Bruins are playing the New York Rangers…Going to be a good game, right? Well, I’m not here to talk about the game.

Rather, I am here to provide you the game plan on how to find the most eligible bachelors and bachelorettes while you are at the Garden.

1. Find the Perfect Seat: The Loge Sections 1-22 are prime locations for meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right Now. The right amount of rowdy and fun.
2. Make conversation in the Beer Line: As many of you BSB-ers know, beer lines can be brutal. You want to get your drink on (responsibility) but there is always an 85 year old working the line you are in. This presents the perfect opportunity to make conversation with that special someone.
3. Don’t bash Valentine’s Day: Ladies, this is specifically for you- when the conversation starts-DO NOT BASH VALENTINE’S DAY-you will come off as a bitter girl and no one likes a bitter girl.
4. Facebook and Twitter Updates can wait: Now, we are all guilty of this but no one likes the person playing with their phone. Focus on the game, make conversation but don’t update, unless you are thanking BSB for these great tips. #thankyoubostonsportsblog

Ditch the dinner plans, grab your Bruin’s jersey and head to the Garden to watch at least one Boston team beat New York…too soon?