We’re a long way away from the Chicken Little “the sky is falling” predictions about the Celtics season coming true, but this isn’t a good start.
Paul Pierce didn’t practice on Friday and Doc Rivers sounded less than optimistic he would be able to go in the Celtics season opener Sunday against the Knicks, reports Jessica Camerato at CSNNE.com.
Pierce did light shooting after practice and Rivers noted he has been working out more. If he were able to suit up, Rivers would limit his minute off the bench.
“Paul may wake up and say, ‘Coach, I want to go,’ ” Rivers said. “I can tell you this, it’s very unlikely he’ll start if he plays. I don’t think that’ll happen. So if he does play, he’ll play 15, 20 minutes, but right now I don’t see him playing.”
Jeff Green was to be Paul Pierce’s backup, but he is out for the season, too. That means Sasha Pavlovic will likely start and Marquis Daniels will be the first guy off the bench.
Which is bad news against the firepower the Knicks bring to the table. With Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire New York is going to put up points, even against a good Celtics defense. The Celtics should be able to put up points of their own against what should be an improved but not rock solid Knicks defense. But being without Pierce and his shot creating skills tilts the scales toward the Knicks.
The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.
After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.
The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.
Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.
The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.
J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”
Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.
Raptors media relations:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.
Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.
The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.