Boston Celtics

Celtics 'crushed' by more physical Hawks

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Celtics 'crushed' by more physical Hawks

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

ATLANTA Too many times to count Friday night, the Boston Celtics would follow the defensive game plan to near perfection.

They forced the Atlanta Hawks to take shots that they didn't necessarily want to take. And most of those shots were contested.

Funny thing happened after most of those shot clanged off the rim, though -- they wound up back in the hands of Hawks players who more often than not, converted those second-chance opportunities into points.

And when the final horn sounded, the Boston Celtics found themselves on the short end of an 88-83 loss.

The skidding Celtics, losers of four of their last six games, are known as a physical basketball team.

But the Hawks became the latest opponent to play the role of aggressor against Boston.

"We got crushed," said coach Doc Rivers, who repeated the "crushed" reference two more times in case anyone missed it. "We got absolutely crushed on the glass tonight. Our guys played with effort. I think they want to play. Atlanta was just better."

The Celtics were minus-14 on the boards against Atlanta, and minus-11 when you just looked at offensive rebounds.

Although Boston held the Hawks to just 36.7 percent shooting, all those multiple shot opportunities they got essentially negated what had been a number of otherwise solid defensive efforts.

"We have to be a better rebounding team," said Paul Pierce. "Especially if you play great defense for 19, 20, 22 seconds and the ball goes up, you gotta be able to get those rebounds. That really bit us in the butt tonight."

And it's a trend that'll keep giving them fits until they fix it.

The idea that the return of Shaquille O'Neal, which may happen as early as Sunday, can certainly help along those lines.

But Rivers isn't banking on O'Neal coming back being what rights all the wrongs of the C's.

"Let's not make . . . we have no saviors," Rivers said. "We have to save ourselves. Clearly another big body would help. Jermaine O'Neal playing three or four more games will help. But at the end of the day, all of us have to get on the glass and I didn't think we did that tonight."

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

Photo of Celtics' 1963 White House visit recalls a simpler time

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Photo of Celtics' 1963 White House visit recalls a simpler time

As the controversy raged Saturday over President Donald Trump's tweet rescinding the White House invitation to Golden State Warriors' star Stephen Curry, a tweeted photo recalling a simpler time for sports team's presidential visits appeared. 

The nostalgic Twitter account @the_60s_at_50 posted a photo from the Celtics' visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and its principal occupant, John F. Kennedy, on Jan. 31, 1963. JFK had invited his hometown NBA team into the Oval Office for what seemed to be a spur-of-the-moment visit.

A newspaper account of the visit was also posted. The defending NBA champion Celtics were in the Washington area to play the Cincinnati Royals at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House that night and had been taking a tour of the White House when Kennedy invited them in. 

All the team members were there except for star center Bill Russell, who, of course, experienced incidents of racism in Boston that were well-documented. However, Russell's absence was blamed on him oversleeping. His teammates said they didn't know they would meet Kennedy on the tour.  

And yes, that's Celtics legend - and CSN's own - Tommy Heinsohn second from right. Coach Red Auerbach is next to the President on the left, Bob Cousy is next to Auerbach and John Havlicek is the first player in the second row on the left.