Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

December 28, 2008
Opening tip: The old men and the Cs

Celtics (27-4) at Kings (7-23)

Scoring: Kings 17th (97.1), Celtics eighth (101.3).
Shooting: Kings 13th (45.3 percent), Celtics second (48.5).
Scoring defense: Kings 28th (105.7), Celtics third (91.7).
Shooting defense: Kings 29th (47.8 percent), Celtics tied for first (42.2).
Rebound differential: Kings 27th (minus-2.8), Celtics first (plus-5.6),

The links: Celtics coverage in the Boston Herald and Boston Globe.
The almanac: On this date in 1950, Dolph Schayes of the Syracuse Nationals had 35 rebounds against the Philadelphia Warriors, at the time a single-game record. On this date in 1995, Dick Motta of the Mavericks became the third coach to win 900 games.


This is a particularly bad night to be the Kings. The Celtics have lost two in a row, to the Lakers on Thursday and the Warriors on Friday, and no way Boston is willing to go 0-for-Northern California within 48 hours against these two lotto types. Just maybe the defending champs will be locked in.

That's part of their greatness -- focus and intensity and attitude. (Attitude: When the Celtics won Best Team at the ESPY Awards at the Nokia Theater, next door to Staples Center, Ray Allen smart-alecked, "Another win in L.A." Attitude: Kevin Garnett.) They're not much for holding back.

Look at the numbers. The Cs were built on a foundation of veterans last season, went until June 17, had a little more than an extra quarter-season in the playoffs, had five more postseason games than anyone, got older, lost important depth in the offseason ... and keep pounding the minutes.

The intrigue has become not merely Boston vs. the field -- Cavaliers and Lakers, maybe the Magic, Hornets and Spurs -- but Boston vs. itself in a self-styled showdown: nearly 40 percent in, the Big Three is averaging more time or essentially the same amount as the 2007-08 regular season as an unproven mix that needed the work to mesh. Strange concept for a defending champion with nothing to prove in December, but, again: no holding back.

Kevin Garnett is 32 years old and played 97 games last season from late October to mid-June.
2007-08 regular season: 32.8 minutes per.
2008-09: 33.1.

Paul Pierce is 31 and played 106 games.
2007-08 regular season: 35.9 minutes.
2008-09: 36.7.

Allen is 33 and played 99.
2007-08 regular season: 35.9 minutes.
2008-09: 35.8.

It's worth noting that each had big jumps in the playoffs -- Garnett to 38 minutes a game, Pierce to 38.1, Allen to 38. They know exactly what's needed in the tank starting the third weekend of April. And the improvements by point guard Rajon Rondo, from the greatest of the unknowns in his first go-round as a full-time starter to likely All-Star consideration in 2008-09, spreads the workload beyond the Big Three.

But, also, P.J. Brown is in his retirement/waiting-for-the-right-time-and-offer state, after an important reserve role in the Finals and 18.2 minutes the last two rounds. Sam Cassell, a backup point guard in 2007-08, has yet to play this season.

Maybe the Celtics will pull so far ahead of the pack that Garnett, Pierce and Allen will be using chaise lounges on the bench by March. It's possible. The .871 winning percentage projects to 71 victories, if they keep their foot on the gas, and the next five opponents are the Kings, Trail Blazers, Wizards, Knicks and Bobcats, teams that are a combined 53-95 and three of which are in last place.

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