Celtics chemistry is too much for Magic


Celtics chemistry is too much for Magic

By Jessica Camerato

BOSTON -- The faces were familiar and so was the end result.

With less than a minute on the clock and the game tied at 104-104, Doc Rivers stuck with the lineup of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Glen Davis.

It was a group that has been intact since the 2007-08 season. They won a championship together. And on Monday night, they won the game together.

Theyre just smart, Dwight Howard said after the Celtics' 109-106 victory over his Orlando Magic. They dont let a lot of things get to them. And thats how youre supposed to play. You never see those guys arguing with each other, mad about little things. And those are things we need to learn as a team -- just not get frustrated when teams make runs, just play through it.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers subbed Davis in for Shaquille ONeal with 5:23 left in the fourth quarter and the score tied at 93-93. Each player made a difference down the stretch, whether it was a basket, a rebound, a block, or an assist.

With 38 seconds to go, Pierce nailed a jumper (and drew a foul) with Jason Richardsons hand in his face. Garnett, playing in his first game back from a calf injury, picked off a pass by Jameer Nelson and got it down the court to Allen, who iced the game with free throws.

From one teammate to the next, each of the Celtics played a role in the win.

Theyve been together long enough, Hedo Turkoglu told CSNNE.com. They just know how to play and they know how to execute together offensively. And defensively, too. You have to be really in the same mind with them going into the game and just executing and reading the situation and making smart decisions. But like today, it was down to the wire and they made a good play at the end.

Between six lead changes and three ties, the victory was up for grabs until the final seconds. In a game of instability, the Celtics turned to their foundation - defense. Even without Kendrick Perkins, one of their biggest defensive weapons against Howard, they held the Magic to just two points in the final 51 seconds.

I told them the last three minutes we turned back to who we were, said Doc Rivers. We were a defensive team and became that, and thats why we won the game.

The Celtics' 31st win of the season was a testament to their team chemistry. The Magic, on the other hand, continue to build their own with new faces acquired just last month. Of the players on the court at the buzzer, Richardson was traded from the Phoenix Suns in December and Turkoglu re-joined his former team in the deal.

We dont look at it that way, 'cause this is our team now and we cant be making excuses like that, said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. Were like everyone else now. We got 41 games left to get ready to play at this level.

As for the Celtics, they proved they can already play there.

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

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a CSNNE.com report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”