Celtics keep Griffin under wraps

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Celtics keep Griffin under wraps

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

LOS ANGELES With all of Bostons trade deadline drama, you almost forgot that Saturdays meeting with the Clippers would feature a date with the 6-foot-10, 21-year-old, car-leaping monster whos taken the NBA by storm. But Doc Rivers didnt.

Hes been spectacular, Rivers said of Clippers rookie Blake Griffin before the game. "I think people miss the best part of his game when theyre watching ESPN dunks. Everybodys missing his great passes. Hes already one of the best passing bigs in the league, and he does it all the time. Hes an extremely unselfish kid. Hes very talented. Hes already improved his jump shot. Hes starting to make that up to 15 feet. You know hes just to keep getting better.

But the Celtics didnt want him to get better on their watch. They set out to make things difficult for the soon-to-be Rookie of the Year; make him work for and earn everything. And for the most part they were successful.

Griffin finished with 21 points and 11 boards, but was kept under wraps when it mattered most in Bostons 99-92 win.

We were fine with it, Rivers said of Griffins numbers. He had a couple fast-break buckets which we dont like for anybody, I dont care who it is. Other than that, especially down the stretch, we made it difficult for him to get the catch and made him catch it off the block, which is what we wanted to do. He actually hit some jump shots. Hes a terrific player.

At the heart of the Celtics defensive attack on Griffin was (not surprisingly) Kevin Garnett, who rode the rookie all night, muscled him on the block, battled him for position and who, because of injuries and deadline moves, didnt have much help in the process. But Garnett was up to the task, and will have to be until the new look Cs develop some new chemistry,

Until the ONeal brothers get back, we probably will (have to lean more on Garnett), Rivers said. Hes not going to play any more minutes, though. But Nenad (Krstic) is going to be fine there. Its just him not knowing the schemes. He just didnt know it. But he picks it up quickly. He got one in the second half. Its just going to take some time.

After the win, Garnett typically a man of few postgame words, dished some praise on the explosive rookie: Hes strong, very powerful, Garnett said. Very gifted, a lot of potential. Hes gonna be a real good player.

And for his part, Griffin had plenty of great things to say about the Cs:

The thing about them is how well they move the ball and play off each other, said Griffin. You can tell theyve been playing together for a while. Thats tough to beat when teams are moving the ball and everyone knows their role, everybodys getting shots and everybodys rotating defensively.

Griffin will get another shot at Garnett and the Celtics when he makes his first trip to the Garden on March 9

Rich Levine can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Raptors missing Lowry in first half

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Raptors missing Lowry in first half

TORONTO -- Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half which ended with the Boston Celtics ahead 55-45 over the Toronto Raptors.

STARS

DeMar DeRozan

Playing without Kyle Lowry (right wrist), DeRozan made the most of what, not surprisingly, were a few more shot attempts. He led all scorers with 19 first-half points on 7-for-13 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

The strong play by Thomas prior to the All-Star break, hasn't gone anywhere. He led the Celtics with 11 points in the first half on 3-for-7 shooting along with four assists.

 

STUDS

Jonas Valanciunas

Boston had problems throughout the first half keeping him off the boards as he tallied five points and a game-high six rebounds.

Jaylen Brown

The rookie showed a heightened level of maturity at both ends of the floor, scoring 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting.

 

DUDS

Corey Joseph

We all know he's not Kyle Lowry, but he has to do a better job of filling in for the All-Star than what we saw in the first half if the Raptors are to have any shot at rallying tonight. He was scoreless in 17 minutes, missing all three of his shots from the field. 

Olynyk staying active, hopes to continue recent success on the boards

Olynyk staying active, hopes to continue recent success on the boards

TORONTO – Kelly Olynyk has a diverse skillset, one that has made him a fixture in the Boston Celtics’ rotation.

Boston has come to expect him to provide some offense and good playmaking, but lately he has given them what they desperately need – rebounds.

While this is still Boston’s greatest weakness, the recent play of Olynyk when it comes to the boards provides a glimmer of hope that maybe just maybe, rebounding won’t be such hindrance to this group.

Boston (37-20) will certainly need that tonight as they take on the Toronto Raptors, a team that got a lot stronger with the addition of Serge Ibaka – another really good rebounder – from Orlando shortly before the trade deadline.

As for Olynyk, he attributes his recent success on the boards as just being more active once the ball is in the air.

In addition, he’s tired of hearing about how bad the Celtics have been on the boards.

They come into tonight’s game ranked among the league’s bottom-10 in just about every rebounding statistical category of note.

* Rebounds per game (41.2, 28th in the NBA)

* Rebound percentage (.479, 27th)

* Defensive rebound percentage (.747, 29th)

“We’ve struggled rebounding all year,” Olynyk said. “I’ve focused my game of late to help shore up that. It’s just a matter of being more active, put your work in early, get the initial contact and get guys off.”

In Boston’s last eight games, Olynyk has averaged 7.0 rebounds per game while still scoring at a decent 13.6 points per game clip off the bench.

For the season, he’s averaging 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.

Of course, you can’t count on Olynyk to take on the lion’s share of the rebounding for the Celtics.

But to his credit, he’s finding a way to do a better job on the glass of late compared to how he has fared overall this season.

And by doing so, it gives Celtics Nation hope that the team’s front office made the right decision to keep this group intact rather than go out and trade for a rebounding big man.

Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, has expressed concern that adding a player whose strength was rebounding only might do more harm than good due to its impact on an offense that ranks among the league’s best this season.

Olynyk echoed similar sentiments.

“We’re second in the East now, a couple games back and on a good roll with great chemistry. Everybody likes each other, playing for each other,” Olynyk told CSNNE.com. “That’s a rarity sometimes. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it."