Notes: Rondo thrives against first place Spurs

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Notes: Rondo thrives against first place Spurs

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - Rajon Rondo is a big fan of winning. It doesnt matter if the opposing team is 30-0 or 0-30, victory is always the ultimate goal.

But there is a little something extra to a game against a contender like the San Antonio Spurs. On Wednesday, Rondo made sure to bring something extra, too.

He recorded a triple-double (12 points, 22 assists, 10 rebounds) against one of the top point guards in the league. He just couldnt help it.

I like to compete, Rondo said following the Celtics 105-103 win. I've got to respect every opponent, but it's just human nature. I think I get up for some of the best guys that we play against - Tony Parker, D. Rose. I think it's just human nature. But for me, I'm really competitive.

Ray Allen has made over 2,500 three-pointers in the career, but there are still the eyebrow-raising moments when teams leave him open behind the arc.

When the Spurs failed to defend him in the fourth quarter, he buried an open trey to give the Celtics a 101-96 lead with 1:37 to go.

Allen is still surprised to find himself open after thousands of buckets.

Im always surprised any time I get open, especially for 3, he said. But one thing I learned about basketball a long time ago is if I can be in better shape than the guy thats guarding me, then the team will have problems because then somebody else is going to have to help and that means either the point guard or our big men are going to be wide open. For me to run as hard as I can and get to my spots, somebodys going to be open. And a lot of times its not me, but there are those few occasions I do get open and Ive got to be ready to take a shot.

Allen is averaging 43.8 percent from three-point range this season.

< The Celtics knew they were in for a challenge when the league-leading Spurs came to town. There was no doubt it would be a grind-out battle, but the Celtics wouldnt let themselves dwell on the Spurs record.

After the Cs pulled out a two-point victory, the Spurs werent dwelling on their own 29-win record either. The Celtics handed them their second straight loss.

Were very hard on ourselves, said Tim Duncan (18 points, 8-15 FG, 5 rebounds). Were not satisfied with where we are and honestly, I dont really care what our record is. Its how were playing through stretches. Were going to hang our hat in the last two losses and the kind of defense were playing, so were definitely not satisfied with what we have right now.

Glen Davis likes that Doc Rivers holds him accountable. That, along with the birth of his daughter, has helped him develop an increased sense of responsibility and a strong work ethic.

The two have a special relationship . . . one that Davis smiled about.

For sure father-son, he said, pausing before laughing, But like stepson.

All kidding aside, he appreciates the way Rivers pushes him to become a better player.

Hes worked with me, giving me opportunities to show what Ive got within the team, he said. But hes still hard on me. Hes still hard. Its like a love-hate - its like you love it but youre like, Oh my gosh, pipe it down sometimes!

Davis laughed again, knowing the tough love has paid off.

The Celtics have launched the Celtics Banner Moments program, an interactive program that allows fans to share their favorite moments in team history through video, photos, and text. The program will run through March and fans have the opportunity to win prizes including meet-and-greets with Celtics legends, game tickets, and more. One winner will be recognized at Fan Appreciation Night in April and will also win the chance to watch a playoff game in a private suite. Visit www.celtics.commoments for more information.

Follow Jessica Camerato on Twitter at http:www.twitter.comjcameratonba

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Celtics-Cavs preview: Something to prove against the best in East

Celtics-Cavs preview: Something to prove against the best in East

BOSTON – Brad Stevens has said on more than one occasion that the Boston Celtics’ record (38-22) is a bit better than their actual play.

While it may come across as exaggerated humility on Stevens’ part, the coach makes a very good point.

Despite Boston having the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, they have struggled mightily this season against the top-four teams in the East outside of themselves.

Boston will have a chance to rewrite at least one chapter in that narrative tonight when they host the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

Against the top-four teams in the East (Cleveland, Washington, Toronto and Atlanta), the Celtics are just 3-8 which falls short of how those teams have fared against one another this season.

The Cavs are 7-1 against the East’s top-4 clubs with the lone loss at Atlanta in November. Toronto (5-5) and Atlanta (4-4) have a .500 records against the top-4 while Washington (4-5) is just a game below-.500.

That’s why tonight’s game against Cleveland is so important to Boston.

It’s not just about beating the best team in the East.

For them, it’s about beating a good team, the kind of team that they have to get past in the postseason if they are to make the kind of deep playoff run that so many of the players have their sights set on.

Coming off of a 114-98 home loss to Atlanta, the Celtics know they have to play better – a lot better – to avoid losing a second game in a row, and four of their last five.

“They’re a good team,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “If we’re not locked in, they’ll beat us worse than the Hawks. So we have to come out, execute, play harder, feed off the crowd and do our job. We should be victorious.”

That’s easier said than done, especially when you’re talking about a Cleveland team that’s truly built for the postseason.

That said, the Cavs are about as vulnerable to defeat now as they will be anytime this season.

All-Star forward Kevin Love is out until late March following “minor” surgery on his left knee.

“There’s definitely enough time to where I can get into a good rhythm,” Love told reporters earlier this week.

In addition to Love, the Cavs are also without J.R. Smith who underwent right thumb surgery in December that’s expected to keep him out until at least the middle of March.

Said Love, “I imagine between J.R. and myself, we’ll get out there and get our wind and be ready to go for (the playoffs) in April.”

Even without Love and Smith, Cleveland has plenty of firepower to remain the team to beat in the East.

It all starts with LeBron James who is averaging 25.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and a career-high 8.9 assists per game while shooting 54.1 percent from the field.

And then there’s Kyrie Irving who continues to play at a level which puts him among the best guards in the NBA. He’s averaging a career-high 24.6 points while dishing out 6.0 assists to go with 3.3 rebounds.

Tristan Thompson. Iman Shumpert. New guys Derrick Williams and Deron Williams.

Go down the line and it’s clear that the Cavs have elite talent and depth to which beating them, regardless of who may be missing in action, will not be easy.

Meanwhile, the Celtics have to simply do what they do best … only better.

“It’s going to be a tough one,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “We’ve got to make shots.”