Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Charlotte Bobcats

Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Charlotte Bobcats

By A. Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON If you look at the record of the Boston Celtics' opponent tonight, the Charlotte Bobcats, you would think it was just another night in which the C's hosted a bad team.

But the Bobcats (15-21) are not your run-of-the-mill, below-.500 club.

For starters, they have a new coach in ex-Celtic Paul Silas.

Since Silas took over for Larry Brown, the Bobcats are 6-2.

In fact, if the playoffs were today, the Celtics and their Conference-best record of 29-9 would open against an eighth-seeded Charlotte club.

Not only are the Bobcats looking to run more, but they've also played a greater sense of mental toughness down the stretch in close games.

Prior to Silas' arrival, Charlotte was on the losing end of eight of their 12 games decided by five points or less.

Silas has coached the Bobcats in four such games, and has emerged victorious three times.

"They're playing well," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Especially point guard D.J. Augustin.

The last time the C's saw him, he was scoreless with four turnovers as the Celtics crushed the Bobcats, 93-62, in Charlotte.

In the last eight games under Silas, Augustin has averaged 19.9 points and 7.1 assists while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 47.7 percent from 3-point range.

As for the Celtics, one of their biggest concerns has to be keeping the Bobcats off the boards.

That challenge will become even more daunting with the litany of injuries that have hit the Celtics frontcourt.

Kevin Garnett is expected to miss his ninth straight game due to an injury to his lower right leg suffered at Detroit on Dec. 29. Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal continues to have problems with his left knee, and is out. The C's are contemplating him having surgery, which likely means he'll be out of the mix for an extended period of time. Boston center Semih Erden has a sore groin which may keep him out of tonight's game as well.

With all the injuries, the C's may lean more than ever on Shaquille O'Neal whose earl foul trouble has made him a non-factor in recent games.

In six games this month, O'Neal has averaged 7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. At this rate, this would be the lowest-scoring and rebounding month in his illustrious Hall of Fame career.

Against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, O'Neal had more fouls (four) than points (two) for the second time this season. Prior to becoming a Celtic, that had only happened once to O'Neal in his entire career.

One Celtics player who doesn't need to change a thing, is Ray Allen.

The C's second-leading scorer this season, Allen has shot at least 50 percent from the field in his last 10 games, the longest such stretch by a Celtics player since Kendrick Perkins set the franchise record last season when he shot 50 percent or better from the field in 24 consecutive games.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Celtics break ground on new practice facility


Celtics break ground on new practice facility

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- When it comes to finding ways to attract the best talent, colleges and universities often seek to upgrade their training facilities as an enticement to prospective players.
So why should it be any different at the pro level?
The Boston Celtics had a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning for The Auerbach Center at New Balance Headquarters.
“When you think he was hired in 1966 and they’re still honoring him, it’s very humbling,” said Randy Auerbach, Red’s daughter.
New Balance officials echoed similar sentiments about the legendary Red Auerbach, the architect of arguably the greatest dynasty in professional basketball.
“Red Auerbach was a true entrepreneur whose passion for winning and dedication to the sport of basketball and the Boston Celtics was equally matched with his commitment to people and his local community,” said Jim Davis, Chairman and Owner at New Balance.  “New Balance is extremely proud to join with the Boston Celtics in honoring his professional achievements and personal values through ‘Red’s House’ at our Boston world headquarters.”
Celtics president Rich Gotham cited several benefits to moving the team to a state-of-the-art practice facility closer to Boston.
Among the reasons given was the potential for the practice facility to be a potential enticement for free agents.
“Players spend more time in the practice facility than they do in the arena they play in certainly, and maybe more than they do at home,” Gotham said. “So having a place where they feel comfortable, a place where they want to spend time to improve themselves across the board … it’s all coming together in a pretty big way. The best players know it’s integral to their success that make sure that support is there, that infrastructure is there. So when we’re out talking to a player, we’re going to be talking about this practice facility we’re building. Because we do think it’s an important part of our story.”
Some of the features of the new practice facility will include:
·  Two state-of-the-art parquet floor basketball courts where the team will practice
·  Leading edge audio-visual technology throughout the facility
·  Expanded strength and conditioning, training, and recovery facilities
·  Best-in-class locker rooms and players’ lounge
·  Physical therapy areas including hydrotherapy pools
·  Sports science and nutrition facilities
·  Expanded media work room, press conference and broadcast facilities
·  A flexible hospitality area designed for community relations activities, partner gatherings and other guest events
·  Work space for the team’s coaching and basketball front office staffs
While the facility will have all the bells and whistles you would come to expect in a new facility, Gotham said there will be a balance of sorts struck between that and the franchise’s longstanding history.
“What will be clear is it will be … at that intersection of, which is a strange intersection, of innovation but honoring our tradition,” Gotham said. “This will be a building that’s state-of-the-art, moving forward. But at the same time, I think one of the things we’re lucky to have is this treasure trove of great guys who came before us who left great wisdom and great quotes. You can see a lot of that built in. Coach Stevens is big on having motivational phrases around for the guys to see every single day when they come in for practice. If those come from Red Auerbach and Bill Russell, all the better. You’ll see us incorporating those kind of things.”   

Celtics waive R.J. Hunter as James Young makes roster


Celtics waive R.J. Hunter as James Young makes roster

BOSTON – One way or another, R.J. Hunter or James Young was not going to be a Boston Celtic by the end of the day Monday.
The Celtics made their choice by waiving Hunter just hours before the NBA deadline to trim their roster down to 15 players.
Hunter began to show signs of coming around near the end of training camp, but his improved play would eventually be too little too late.

This is certainly good news for Young, who like Hunter, made it clear that he wanted to remain with the Celtics. But it by no means should be seen as a victory for Young who is entering his third NBA season.
The 21-year-old is now part of the 15-man roster, but it still doesn’t address the issue of him playing better to where the Celtics might actually use him with some degree of regularity.
If not for Kelly Olynyk’s shoulder injury, which will keep him out of action until next month, there was a decent chance that Young would begin the season on the inactive roster. But to Young’s credit, he showed a level of dedication to the game that the Celtics had not seen before. He spent most of this past summer in Boston working on his game, trying to get physically stronger. During the preseason, his level of commitment to improving was noticeable as well.
And when he did get a chance to play in the preseason, he did a lot of little things really well, showing the kind of improvement that ultimately put him a leg up on Hunter whom the Celtics drafted last year with the 28th overall pick.
If Hunter isn’t claimed, he becomes an unrestricted free agent who can then sign with any team of his choosing. Do not be surprised if Hunter is claimed off waivers by a team which then assigns him to their Development League affiliate, similar to what the Celtics did with Ryan Kelly over the weekend.