Final: Celtics 107, Nets 92. Whatever rust the Celtics had in the first half of their preseason finale, it was nowhere to be seen in the second. The C's have finished off a blowout win at the TD Garden.
Paul Pierce leads the way with 17 points, while Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis each chip in 14. A huge third-quarter run makes the difference, as the Celtics outscore the Nets 36-16 in the period and cruise to their seventh and final win of the preseason.
With a 7-1 exhibition run in the books, the Celtics now look ahead to Tuesday night's regular-season opener against the Miami Heat. Get ready — it's going to be huge.
Fourth quarter, 2:42, Celtics 102-88: Lawrence Frank empties his bench, letting Stephane Lasme and Mario West take the floor for the final three minutes. Who knows when we'll see them again?
Doc Rivers said before tonight's game that the Celtics have "evaluated them enough" when asked about the three players at the end of his bench (meaning Lasme, West and Von Wafer). It sounds like they're near a decision. Neither Lasme nor West has gotten a chance to bolster their case tonight. The future doesn't look good for those two, even if one of them goes insane here in garbage time.
Fourth quarter, 4:36, Celtics 102-84: This preseason has been fairly decent for Nets lottery pick Derrick Favors. The young power forward is averaging just 6.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for the Nets off the bench, despite seeing fairly limited minutes.
Favors is having a solid night tonight with 12 points. Glen Davis is having a heck of a time trying to guard the bigger, more athletic power forward.
Fourth quarter, 7:14, Celtics 100-78: Glen Davis puts the Celtics over the century mark early, knocking down a long two to widen the C's lead to 22.
It's hard to believe they were down double digits in the second quarter. This game has become a blowout very, very quickly.
Big Baby and Nate Robinson just continue to bring instant offense. This second unit is looking really good.
Fourth quarter, 10:13, Celtics 91-73: The second unit is on the floor to start the fourth quarter: It's Semih Erden, Glen Davis, Marquis Daniels, Nate Robinson, and — drumroll please — Von Wafer.
Still no sign of Stephane Lasme, or Mario West for that matter. The C's have a decision to make soon about the 15th spot on their roster, and Wafer now appears to be the front-runner for the position. He's probably the most NBA-ready athlete of the three, so it makes sense.
Wafer just hit a 3 to open the Celtics' lead to 18. He looks poised to prove he deserves the spot.
End of third quarter, Celtics 84-71: Nate Robinson comes up way short on a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer, but the C's aren't fazed. All in all, they've have outscored the Nets 36-16 in the third quarter, thoroughly dominating every aspect of the game.
Twelve minutes ago, it wasn't too clear whether these Celtics were ready for Miami next week. But now … well, at the very least, they're getting a lot closer.
Third quarter, 2:29, Celtics 78-67: The Celtics are now on a 28-6 run. It used to be that second-half collpases were right in the Celtics' wheelhouse, but not this time around. The C's are doling out the pain in the second half.
The Nets just can't buy a basket right now. They look frazzled and totally clueless against a dialed-up Celtics D.
Third quarter, 3:57, Celtics 71-67: Rajon Rondo just threw down a ridiculous one-handed slam. Step aside, Nate Robinson — there's a new slam dunk champion in town.
Allen, Pierce and Rondo are going nuts for the Celtics, who have streaked into the lead and aren't about to let up now. The Garden is rocking, and the C's are going strong.
Third quarter, 5:21, Celtics 67-65: Ray Allen has been quiet all night, but he's come to life here with nine points in the last two-plus minutes.
The C's have the lead for the first time since early in the first quarter.
Lawrence Frank has been letting his starters play extended minutes in their final tuneup for Tuesday against Miami. If the C's continue to let their All-Star starting five run, they should be able to hold this lead.
Third quarter, 7:19, Nets 61-59: Remember those words, folks: "Ray Allen for threeeeeee." If the Celtics are going to make a lot of second-half comebacks like this one, you'll probably hear those words a lot.
Ray's sweet outside shot cuts the lead to two. The Celtics have the momentum on their side and the crowd behind them.
Third quarter, 8:56, Nets 61-56: Paul Pierce has brought the Celtics' home crowd to life by getting a steal, running the fast break, and finishing at the rim on a give-and-go with Rajon Rondo.
Nice play, and even nicer to see the Celtics start caring about this game again. They're not going to let the Nets push them around all night.
Third quarter, 10:47, Nets 59-50: Surprise! The Celtics have elected to use their starters in the second half against New Jersey. Maybe it's a pride thing. No one likes losing to the Nets, whether it counts or not.
Lawrence Frank (or is it Doc from behind the scenes, pulling the strings) sticks with his starting five. Maybe the C's have one last push in them.
Halftime, Nets 55-48: The season opener against Miami is still six days away. From the looks of it, the Celtics might have forgotten to show up for their preseason finale.
The C's are down seven, and with the exception of some Kevin Garnett theatrics, they don't seem to care too much.
Kris Humphries is having a night for the ages for New Jersey, throwing down 10 points, eight rebounds, two steals, an assist and a block. Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow each have 11 points, Terrence Williams has 10 and Devin Harris chips in nine for the Nets, who head into the locker room with a solid lead.
Shaquille O'Neal has been a bright spot so far for the Celtics, turning in 12 points and seven rebounds in the first half.
Second quarter, 2:13, Nets 48-38: Something tells me Kevin Garnett might need a while to get the hang of these new technical foul rules.
Last week in New York, he got himself kicked out of a game for excessive griping about the officiating; this time out, he's still griping, and he's still getting T'd up.
From the looks of it, I'd say KG just came dangerously close to getting his second ejection of the preseason. The rules state that technicals can be doled out for complaining even in a civil manner, and KG sure was complaining at length. (It didn't sound too civil, either.)
Second quarter, 2:53, Nets 45-38: When the Celtics get down, you can count on their veteran Big Three to lead them back.
Paul Pierce gets to the basket for a driving layup, then draws a foul from Joe Smith and finishes a 3-point play.
Kevin Garnett breaks free from Smoth along the left baseline, then knocks down a sweet mid-range jumper.
The C's have narrowed the Nets' lead to seven. That's a start.
Second quarter, 4:38, Nets 39-30: Lots of little things are going wrong for the Celtics in this one. They're going for long rebounds and coming up and inch short, they're rimming out decent shots, they're leaping to block shots and ending up with fouls instead.
The effort is there, but the execution is just a little off.
Somewhere, Doc Rivers is in front of a TV set fuming.
Second quarter, 6:36, Nets 37-27: Lawrence Frank is unleashing the starters back onto the floor for the last six minutes of the first half. The C's are in need of a little jolt — maybe they'll get it from Rajon Rondo and the Big Three.
The Nets have been in control for most of this second quarter. Kris Humphries and Terrence Williams, of all people, have been shredding the C's defense and getting to the basket with ease. It's still a double-digit game.
Second quarter, 9:14, Nets 31-20: The Celtics' second unit looks stagnant offensively. Usually the mere presence of Nate Robinson and Glen Davis is enough to breathe new life into the C's offense in the first half, but this time it's not enough.
The C's are really struggling. It might be a case of the team looking past this game to Tuesday night against Miami.
The Nets are playing like they really want this one.
End of first quarter, Nets 27-15: Maybe Lawrence Frank is throwing this game against the Nets his former team. Just kidding. Sort of.
Frank was fired last season by the Nets after they started their season with an 0-16 record. If the Nets win tonight, they'll have more wins in the last 12 months against Frank than for him.
Six different Nets have scored so far in this contest, led by Travis Outlaw's seven points in the first quarter.
The Celtics are a mess out there. They're shooting 35.3 percent.
First quarter, 2:42, Nets 21-14: Both power forwards in this game have Minnesota connections — Kevin Garnett played 12 seasons for the Timberwolves, while the Nets' Kris Humphries was raised in the Twin Cities area and attended the University of Minnesota.
Right now, the former Golden Gopher has the upper hand. Humphries is lighting the Celtics up for four points, three rebounds and a steal. He just threw down a nice dunk in transition to put the Nets up seven in the first quarter.
First quarter, 4:22, Nets 16-11: This Celtics lineup with Shaq off the floor and Glen Davis at center has some scoring firepower, but it sure is small. The Nets are going to work inside, getting easy points for Johan Petro and Travis Outlaw.
Can't fault Big Baby for his hustle, though. The guy just dove into the front for and plowed over a cameraman to get a loose ball. Davis plays like he wants it more than anyone.
First quarter, 6:12, Nets 12-9: Rajon Rondo is taking on Devin Harris like he's out for blood. Gambling for every steal on defense, posting him up on offense, trying to do everything possible to humiliate the guy. So far, it's working. Rondo has two points, two assists and two steals.
Glen Davis is the first man off the bench for Boston, checking in for Shaquille O'Neal nice and early.
First quarter, 8:41, Celtics 7-4: First impression of this Nets team tonight: Their interior defense leaves a lot to be desired. The C's are pounding the ball inside with ease — Shaq and Kevin Garnett are getting layups without any trouble.
Johan Petro and Kris Humphries are decently skilled players offensively, but from the looks of it, they don't have the defensive chops to be regular starters in the NBA.
First quarter, 11:38, Celtics 2-0: The Celtics strike first, as Rajon Rondo drives the lane and takes a nice entry pass from Ray Allen to the basket for two.First quarter, 11:38, Celtics 2-0: The Celtics strike first, as Rajon Rondo drives the lane and takes a nice entry pass from Ray Allen to the basket for two.
7:30 p.m.: No starting centers for either side tonight — when these two squads tip off in just a moment, you won't see Jermaine O'Neal or Brook Lopez.
As Lopez gets the night off and O'Neal tends to a few nagging injuries, it'll be Johan Petro jumping it up with Shaquille O'Neal.
We're getting underway in just a moment.
6:45 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden, where Celtics coach Doc Rivers has decided that he won't be on the sidelines Wednesday night for his team's preseason finale against the New Jersey Nets.
Rivers is in the house and has spoken with his players prior to game time, but he's decided that with his voice box still resting after this weekend's minor throat surgery, he isn't fit to coach.
When asked why he was spending the evening watching on TV from the locker room, not leading from the sidelines, his answer was pithy as expected: "Because I can't scream."
Assistant coach Lawrence Frank will lead the Celtics in Rivers' place.
8 a.m.: The Celtics' main goal was to make it through the preseason healthy. They haven't exactly done that, but it could be worse.
Jermaine O'Neal, with his hamstring, back and wrist all bothering him, will not play in Wednesday night's preseason finale. Nor will Delonte West, who has had back pain on and off all month. But the C's starting five, including a relatively healthy Shaquille O'Neal penciled in at center, will be on the court and ready to play significant minutes when the team tips off against the New Jersey Nets at the TD Garden.
The Celtics are currently 6-1 on their exhibition schedule, and this will be their final tuneup before the big regular-season opener next Tuesday against the Miami Heat. This is their final chance to get in game shape. After this, they all start counting.