Bulls more confident after Celtics dealt Perkins

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Bulls more confident after Celtics dealt Perkins

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

CHICAGO Former Boston Celtics forward Brian Scalabrine still believes the C's are one of the top teams in the NBA.

But you can throw him into the camp that believes the loss of Perkins has given many teams -- including his current club, the Chicago Bulls -- a boost of confidence that they can do some things against the Celtics that they weren't able to do before Perkins was traded.

"For us, Perkins was an intimidating factor at the rim," Scalabrine told Comcast SportsNet prior to Thursday night's game. "Kevin Garnett and Perkins out there, that's a big deal."

While the Celtics are certainly not the same team since Perkins was traded to Oklahoma City on Feb. 24, it's not like they weren't used to playing without him.

Perkins suffered a torn MCL and PCL in Game Six of the NBA Finals last June. He didn't return to the Celtics lineup until Jan. 25 against Cleveland.

The Celtics traded Perkins, along with Nate Robinson, to Oklahoma City on Feb. 24 for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.

Prior to the trade, Perkins was sidelined with a knee injury that was non-related to the torn MCL and PCL injury he suffered earlier.

He eventually joined the Thunder's lineup, and has been instrumental in them winning 10 of the 13 games he has appeared in this season.

Meanwhile, the Celtics are 13-9 since Green and Krstic joined the team.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, a former Celtics assistant, recognizes how the trade has given the C's added depth. He also points out how even with the moves, the group you see on the floor to end most games isn't all that different now than the group that closed out games when Perkins was around.

However, Thibodeau acknowledges that they are definitely a different team without Perkins.

"He's a very good all-around player for them," Thibodeau said. "He benefited from being around Kevin a lot."

Looking back at the 2008 championship team, Perkins spent most of his time trying to establish position in the post.

Meanwhile, Garnett would be running around the court most games setting screens, and occasionally look to take his man down on the block.

"Kevin has a right to call for the ball every time down the floor," Thibodeau said. "But he never does that. He flies all around setting screens. What that led to, was Perkins ending up doing the same thing. They created a lot of easy offense for their team. And defensively, when you put Perkins and Garnett out there together, it was probably as good as it gets in terms of length, intelligence, pick-and-roll defense, catch-and-shoot defense . . . he was a terrific player. He understood his role."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers can understand why so many fans still pine away at the days in which Perkins wore a Celtics uniform.

That doesn't bother him.

What does irritate him is the perception that the trade made the Celtics a smaller team.

When the Celtics traded Perkins, they did so with the intent being that Shaquille O'Neal would be on the floor relatively soon afterward.

Since the trade, O'Neal has played a total of just six minutes. He's currently out with a right calf strain injury.

"I don't what people expect, honestly," Rivers said. "That part of it, I don't care. But we didn't get smaller. That's the one thing you keep hearing, 'We got smaller.' Actually, we've gotten bigger if Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal play and all of them play. But they haven't played. So how could anyone know."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Shots don't fall for Celtics in frustrating 114-98 loss to Hawks

Shots don't fall for Celtics in frustrating 114-98 loss to Hawks

BOSTON – You hear coaches and players often refer to the NBA as a make-miss league.

When summing up what happened in Boston’s 114-98 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, sadly it was that simple.

Dennis Schroder led the six double-figure scorers for the Hawks with 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting.

Boston got many of the shots that they have been getting throughout this run in which they came into Monday’s game having won 11 of their previous 14 games.

The Celtics (38-22) have now lost three of their last four games. Life won’t get any easier for them with defending NBA champion Cleveland coming into town on Wednesday.

We have seen the Celtics make some miraculous comebacks under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens, but Celtics fans understandably began hitting the exits with more than three minutes to play and Boston looking up at a 108-84 deficit.

Credit the Hawks defense which played with a greater sense of urgency, the kind you would expect from a team that had come in riding a three-game losing streak.

Meanwhile, Boston looked like the team that we have seen most of this season which relies heavily on their perimeter shooting to win games.

That’s not all that surprising against the Hawks whose interior defense is anchored by Dwight Howard.

Howard, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds, also had a pair of blocked shots and altered many others.

But the Celtics spent a good chunk of the second half with Howard out of the game.

Howard, an absolute unstoppable force for the Hawks all game, picked up his second technical foul (an automatic ejection) for hanging on the rim following a put-back dunk with 4:03 to play in the third and Atlanta ahead 74-65.

He had picked up his first technical foul for shoving Al Horford earlier in the game.

But with Howard out, the Celtics still couldn’t take advantage of an Atlanta team that was much more vulnerable to dribble-drive penetration.

In fact, Atlanta began to pull away and took their biggest lead up to that point of the game, 84-69, following a 3-pointer by Tim Hardaway Jr. late in the third quarter which ended with the Hawks ahead 84-71.

And Boston’s struggles stemmed from their inability to make open shots.

For the game, the Celtics shot 39.1 percent from field which is a somewhat inflated figure considering the mini-run Boston's backups went on in the final minute or two of play.

Not even the usual high-scoring exploits of Isaiah Thomas could save the day.

The NBA’s leading scorer in the fourth quarter, Thomas had another sub-par night in the game’s final quarter of play.

He led the Celtics with 19 points, but only two came in the fourth quarter. And by failing to reach 20 points, Thomas’ franchise-record of consecutive games with 20 or more comes to an end at 43 straight.  

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Hawks hold decisive edge on the boards

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Hawks hold decisive edge on the boards

BOSTON – The return of Avery Bradley was a good thing for the Boston Celtics, but it wasn’t enough for them to control the action in the first half of Monday’s game against the Hawks who took a 51-47 lead into the half.

Bradley, who had missed previous 18 games and 22 of 23, had six points in the first half on 2-for-4 shooting.

The Celtics opened the game with a 7-2 spurt and led by as many as eight points (15-7) in the first before the Hawks begin to cut into Boston’s lead and eventually take their first lead of the night following a 3-point play by Paul Millsap with 4:20 to play in the quarter which put them ahead 18-15 as part of an 11-0 run.

Boston would regain the lead before both teams went into the second quarter tied at 24.

The second quarter saw Boston hit one of those scoring lulls that they go through from time to time.

But unlike last night’s win at Detroit when they went nearly four minutes without scoring, Atlanta’s offense did a much better job of taking advantage of Boston’s struggles.

Atlanta went on a 9-2 spurt in the second quarter capped off by a Kent Bazemore lay-up that put the Hawks ahead 35-31.

Boston rallied soon after with Bradley leading the charge.

Bradley drained a 3-pointer that cut Atlanta’s lead to 35-34.

A defensive stop by Boston led the way for an Isaiah Thomas lay-up that put the Celtics back on top, leading to the Hawks calling a time-out with 6:18to play in the half.

Atlanta tightened up defensively, doing just enough to go into the half with a four-point lead.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks.

 

STARS

Dennis Schroder

He really came out and set the tone for the Hawks, scoring eight of his 10 first-half points in the first quarter.

Isaiah Thomas

Atlanta did a nice job of blitzing Thomas and forcing him to pass the ball. But Thomas is a professional scorer so you knew it was a matter of time before he got going offensively. He led the Celtics with nine points at the half, in addition to dishing out five assists while also grabbing five rebounds.

Dwight Howard

The Celtics simply could not keep him from dominating play around the rim. He led all scorers at the half with 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds.

 

STUDS

Marcus Smart

When the offense seemed to stall, it was Smart who kept the Celtics within striking distance in the second quarter. He had seven points at the half along with three rebounds and an assist.

Paul Millsap

He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (he missed six of his seven shots), but his presence was felt. He had five points at the half along with nine rebounds.

 

DUDS

Celtics rebounding

It really is an adventure when it comes to the Boston Celtics and rebounding the ball. Tonight, they have not been very good, with the Hawks holding a decisive 32-21 rebounding edge which has allowed them to hold a 28-14 advantage in points in the paint, an 8-2 edge on second-chance points in addition to leading the fast break points game, 7-4.