|10.30.12 at 5:50 pm ET|
|10.30.12 at 5:13 pm ET|
Before the Celtics renew their rivalry with the Heat in Miami on Tuesday night and both teams begin their march toward what seems like an almost inevitable second straight Eastern Conference finals showdown, let’s predict 18 franchise and NBA milestones the C’s will eclipse during the 2012-13 season.
18. Considering he totaled 620 assists in just 53 games last season, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will shatter his own single-season franchise record for assists (794) and pass Bill Russell for fifth on the C’s career assists list. In doing so, he could become the first NBA player since the turn of the century to average 12 assists per game.
17. Kevin Garnett will score his 6,000th point in a Celtics uniform, passing Ray Allen (5,987) for 21st on the franchise scoring list. He should also surpass 3,000 rebounds, 1,000 assists, 400 steals and 400 blocks in green and white before the year is through, climbing a few more rungs on his ladder to the rafters.
16. Five ways Celtics captain Paul Pierce piles even more cement on his franchise legacy: 1) If he plays all 82, he’ll surpass Robert Parish by a single contest for second behind John Havlicek on the C’s career games played list; 2) If Pierce plays 2,941 minutes, which he did in 2008-09, he’ll pass Russell for second behind Hondo; 3) If he takes his usual 1,000-plus field goal attempts, he’ll pass Larry Bird for second behind Hondo; 4) If he makes 500, he’ll pass Parish for third behind Bird; and 5) Like Rondo, Pierce will pass Russell for fourth in career C’s assists.
15. When the Celtics win their 53rd game of the year — topping Bovada’s over/under of 50.5 — Doc Rivers passes Tommy Heinsohn for second behind Red Auerbach among coaches on the franchise’s career wins list.
|10.30.12 at 2:45 pm ET|
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith joined Mut & Merloni Tuesday to discuss the upcoming NBA season and the hot water he’s found himself in over his perceived use of a racial slur last week.
Smith denied saying the slur on ESPN’s “First Take,” though he said he understands that people heard it that way, and that he would have “shook their hands” and accepted it should ESPN have punished him. For Smith’s complete answer regarding the incident, click here.
In discussing the upcoming season, Smith touched on Tuesday night’s season-opener between the Heat and the Celtics, the first game in which Ray Allen will face his old team since rejecting a more lucrative deal from Boston to sign with the defending NBA champions.
Since Allen left, there has been a bit of a war of words between the two sides, as Allen has made numerous comments about the C’s while Kevin Garnett said he deleted Allen’s phone number.
“I think the animosity is real on Boston’s side. I don’t think Ray Allen has that level of animosity for anybody. He’s class personified,” Smith said. “It’s not to say the Boston Celtics are not classy because they very much are, but Ray Allen just isn’t one to get into all of that. That’s never been his MO in all the years that I’ve known him, but the reality of the situation is he doesn’t really have legitimate reasons to harbor animosity.
“When you look at the situation in Boston, yeah you didn’t like getting benched for Avery Bradley, yeah you didn’t like feeling that you were no longer the significant part of the game plan that you were in years past. There’s no way to get around the fact that if you look at the Ray Allen situation in Boston from that standpoint, you have to remember he left them. They offered him twice as much as he’s getting from Miami, even though it was an additional year compared to what Miami was offering him. They offered him more years, they offered him more money and he still decided to leave, but not only did he decide to leave, he decided to leave for somebody that is considered the enemy in that locker room and throughout that franchise in the Miami Heat, particularly since LeBron James arrived.
“That’s why you see Kevin Garnett reacting the way that he’s reacting. Paul Pierce sort of smiled it off, but he’s following KG’s lead because Paul Pierce obviously is a friend of Ray Allen. He loves him. It’s just that he’s a competitor now. Kevin Garnett takes it to another level. Right now he has no love whatsoever for Ray Allen. He looks at Ray Allen as somebody that betrayed him and this franchise. He has no love for him whatsoever. He wants to take him out just as badly as he wants to take the rest of them out and he considers him the enemy. It’s just that simple.” Read the rest of this entry »
|10.29.12 at 7:19 pm ET|
It’s almost Halloween, another NBA season is upon us and the league’s landscape changed once again, but the Celtics are title contenders and so too are their most heated rivals. Let’s get right to the 2012-13 debut of our semi-regular NBA power rankings. Here’s the wrinkle: What’s the scariest aspect about each team this year?
1. Miami: LeBron James set the Celtics, Thunder and entire world on fire during his run to a first NBA championship and second gold medal, proving doubters wrong in every corner of the globe (including this cubicle). And he and the Heat only seemed to figure it out midway through the Eastern Conference finals, which means they could be even better, especially with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis in tow.
2. L.A. Lakers: A starting five of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard is terrifying, but so is their bench. The Lakers won’t get 82 games from any of those starters, so how close each comes to that number will determine if they can unseat the Thunder beyond arbitrary power rankings.
3. Oklahoma City: After reaching the NBA finals last season, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook got their first taste of what it will take to earn the Larry O’Brien trophy, so they’ll be hungrier than ever. They’ll just have to set the table for Kevin Martin coming off the bench instead of returning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden.
4. Boston: If the Celtics can reach Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on grit and balls alone, imagine what they can do with a rotation deeper than six. Once Avery Bradley returns, coach Doc Rivers can go 12 deep and weather most injury storms, which have been downright Hurricane Sandy-esque in recent years.
5. San Antonio: Before losing four straight to OKC in the Western Conference finals, the Spurs won 20 straight and 31-of-33. That’s the value of a deep roster. But I’m still buying more stock in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo & Co. than Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili & Tony Parker Inc.
|10.29.12 at 12:18 pm ET|
Paul Pierce has been an afterthought this Celtics camp. Well, you know, as much as the captain and face of the NBA’s most storied franchise — and one of the league’s few legit title contenders — can remain in the shadows.
Think about it. The summer began with the return of Kevin Garnett, whose arrival five years ago saved a team relegated to mediocrity for two decades. And it ended with the emergence of Rajon Rondo, who grabbed the reins for the next 10 years. In between, Ray Allen spurned the Celtics, who in turn made their own headlines: Drafting Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph; adding Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jason Collins, Darko Milicic and Leandro Barbosa; re-signing Brandon Bass; and restoring Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox.
Meanwhile, Pierce quietly shared a family photo at the beach here or a picture of his workout routine there. After all, he too rehabbed from injury — a sprained left MCL this past June that may have meant the difference between a Game 7 loss to the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals and a third NBA finals appearance in five seasons.
Heck, Pierce had to share his 35th birthday on Oct. 13 with C’s coach Doc Rivers, who turned 51 the same day. Even his admission to potentially retiring or requesting a trade had Garnett not returned barely moved the needle, as they say. Such is the life now of the 10-time NBA All-Star entering his 15th season for the same franchise.
|10.28.12 at 4:44 pm ET|
Jason Terry once again oozing confidence after the Celtics hosted an open practice Sunday at the Garden.
On Celtics-Heat rivalry: “I’ll never forget ’05-06 for me [when the Heat beat his Mavericks in Game 6 of the 2006 NBA finals]. I should be a two-time champion right now, but it wasn’t so. I’ll never forget that feeling, walking off that court in Game 6 in Dallas, when the confetti dropped on our head. I like to remember winning the championship, but what sticks in my mind more than anything is when we lost. I’ve gotta believe it’s a feeling similar to what Boston felt last year in Game 7, so I come right into the rivalry, I’m yearning for it and that’s game No. 1. Whether it was Miami or somebody else, it’s just basketball, it’s the season and it’s Game 1.”
On C’s title chances: “A lot of times when you see your team on paper before the season, you’re like, ‘OK, we might have a chance.’ But as we worked through the September month, which was earlier than usual, into training camp, the trip to Europe to our last practice today, we’re legit; we are for real. And I think to a man we are a very tough team. I think our bench is deep, but our starting lineup is a beast. These are champions. These are guys who know what they want, and the ultimate goal is to win a championship.”
|10.27.12 at 9:43 am ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics under Doc Rivers have made no secret about the key to their success on offense.
Set screens and picks, get your teammate open and the points will follow.
Kevin Garnett is the supreme example and symbol of this philosophy.
Watch Garnett away from the ball during a game and you’ll realize that one of his greatest skills is setting picks. But it’s not just Garnett now. New faces like Darko Milicic, Jared Sullinger and even Jason Terry have been brought in this season. And every single one of them understand the first principle of Celtics offense – do whatever necessary to get your teammate open.
“This is maybe the best pick-setting team,” Rivers said Friday, when asked where this team ranks in terms of setting screens and picks. “Darko loves to pick. Kevin is the best picker in the league. Jared is a good picker.
“JET, surprisingly, if [he's] not the best picker on the team, he’s right there with Kevin. He’s a small, but he loves setting picks. That’s what he did in Dallas with [Dirk Nowitzki], so we’re going to do it here for him.”
Someone who was around last season is big man Chris Wilcox and he sees the value in having Garnett set such a strong, physical example.
“KG shows us every day what we need to do,” said Wilcox. “So all we’ve got to do is just follow his lead and everything else will fall into place. We’ve got to set picks. It’s going to open up everybody. We’ve got guys who can score, so our job is to get them open.”
Sacrifice. It’s one of the cornerstones of the Doc Rivers era and one of the founding principles of Ubuntu. It appears this new group of Celtics team is ready to embrace the age-old concept heading into the season – a good sign for a team looking for a way to get past Miami in the East.
“It’s about sacrifice,” Terry insisted Friday after practice. “It’s about giving up your body when you’re talking about setting picks. A lot of times you’re not going to benefit from it directly, but you’re going to get your teammate open, and that’s what Celtic basketball is all about.
“We’re the best pick-setting team in the league,” Terry proclaimed. “That’s the goal, not only with the best in KG, but 1 through 5, whoever steps on the floor. We’ve made it an emphasis.”
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