Tuesday, February 19
9:00 PM ET
What a weekend! From Dwight Howard’s jaw-dropping slam dunk contest performance to the All-Star game’s exciting finish, the 2008 NBA All-Star weekend certainly didn’t leave fans disappointed. Celtics fans, in particular, had a blast as well. Rajon Rondo played just under 19 minutes for Tom Thibodeau’s sophomore team in this year’s Rookie Challenge, and game up with a stat line of six points, six assists, three rebounds, and three steals. Meanwhile, Doc Rivers was the head coach of the Eastern Conference All-Stars, consisting of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and the injured Kevin Garnett, who enjoyed himself at the end of the bench. Pierce scored 10 points in limited minutes, but Ray Allen didn’t hold back. "Jesus" scored 14 of his 28 points in the final three and a half minutes of the ballgame, giving the East a huge lift that carried them to a six-point victory. Unfortunately, fans across the world snubbed him of the MVP trophy, but LeBron James acknowledged that in the trophy presentation. Regardless of who took the trophies home, there’s no doubt that everybody had a blast in what seemed to be the revival of NBA All-Star weekend.
Did you have fun? Did you enjoy yourself this weekend? Good, now get it out of your system, because the C’s are back to business. They’ll begin their five-game west coast swing tonight in Denver, where they’ll go up against the exciting trio of Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, and Marcus Camby. The good news is that the Celtics are likely to get their own trio intact once again, as Kevin Garnett is planning on suiting up for the first time in over three weeks. In addition, the Celtics will get the rest of their injury-riddled front line back tonight as well. Kendrick Perkins (shoulder), Glen Davis (quad, knee), and Scot Pollard (ankle) are expected to suit up with Garnett and the gang, giving the Celtics a much needed frontcourt lift against Denver.
The Nuggets will not take this game lightly, however, so Boston’s returning big men better make sure they are ready to play some tough, gritty basketball. When George Karl’s crew came to visit on November 7, after a rough game in New York the night before, the Celtics gave them a hard enough spanking to leave imprints on their butts for weeks. The final score of 119-93 is bad enough, but it doesn’t even tell the full story. The Celtics were up by 35 at the end of the third quarter, and by that point, both teams decided it was time to throw in the towel and let the bench go to work. The Nuggets were downright embarrassed on both ends of the floor, and you’d imagine that they’ll come out fighting like cats and dogs for this one.
The second half of the 2007-2008 regular season is officially underway, ladies and gentlemen. You know what that means, don’t you? Only 32 more games until the real season starts (is it wrong to be thinking about that already?).
C Kendrick Perkins / Marcus Camby
PF Kevin Garnett / Kenyon Martin
SF Paul Pierce / Carmelo Anthony
SG Ray Allen / Allen Iverson
PG Rajon Rondo / Anthony Carter
Key Matchup: Rajon Rondo vs. Allen Iverson
There aren’t too many guys in the NBA that can stay in front of Allen Iverson for a full game of basketball, let alone contain him. If there is one Celtic that can get the job done, it’s Rajon Rondo. His speed, quickness, anticipation skills, and length may cause some problems for the 12-year veteran. Asking Rondo to stop him is out of the question, as no living thing is able to do so, but it’s not out of the question to ask him to bother and disrupt "The Answer."
Celtics X-Factor: Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett hasn’t suited up since January 25, the night he was diagnosed with a strained abdominal muscle but still proceeded to give his all on the final defensive possession of the ballgame. In his absence, the Celtics played excellent basketball. They won seven of nine games without "The Big Ticket," including wins over Dallas and San Antonio, and had guys like Rajon Rondo and Leon Powe step up in a big way. With that said, the Celtics are going to really need KG to make his presence felt, as they are beginning a tough five-game west coast trip tonight in Denver. Hopefully, Garnett is healthy and will be able to give us all the engines before too long. In the meantime, the C’s will need him to be a presence tonight against the likes of Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin.
BOS – Kevin Garnett (strained abdomen – probable)
BOS – Kendrick Perkins (strained left shoulder – probable)
BOS – Glen Davis (strained quad, bruised left knee – probable)
BOS – Brian Scalabrine (strained groin – out)
BOS – Scot Pollard (score left ankle – probable)
DEN – Nene (recovering from tumor removal - out)
DEN – Kenyon Martin (step throat - questionable)
DEN – Chucky Atkins (recovering from hernia surgery – out)
DEN – Steven Hunter (right knee inflammation - out)
Celtics Keys to the Game
- Control the Tempo
- Close Off Penetration
- Attack the Rim, Don’t Settle