|04.10.13 at 12:37 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Doc Rivers isn’t just one of the most personable coaches among fans and media, he’s one of the most likable among his fellow NBA head coaches.
And that – as it turns out – has its rewards.
As the playoffs near, Rivers has been tapping into that network of coaches for some inside intel. But Rivers isn’t looking for advance scouting tips on his opponents; he’s looking for what other coaches see in the Celtics.
Rivers was asked Tuesday at practice what he thought of teams like Cleveland and Washington defending Paul Pierce and Jeff Green with smaller, quicker guards.
“That won’t last,” Rivers predicted. “I think teams will go back and forth on it. And they did even in the game the other night [vs. Washington]. They started out small, went big and then went back to small. I think teams are trying to figure out which way they would guard them.”
Why is that? All Rivers had to do was ask longtime friend and former Atlanta teammate Randy Wittman, now the coach of the Wizards.
“It’s nice when you play, honestly, a team that’s not in the playoffs and talk to the coach after the game. I asked what their reasoning [is] for choosing one or the other. It’s been interesting the comments I’ve gotten back.”
What kind of information?
“Good information,” Rivers smiled. “They’ve always helped, and they’re open for the most part,” Rivers said of his postgame chats with the coaches. “They’re not going to tell you their secrets but they’re going to tell you some of their thoughts so they’re helpful.”
It’s not just Wittman, either. On the current four-game homestand that ends against Brooklyn, the Celtics have played Detroit [Lawrence Frank], Cleveland [Byron Scott] and Washington [Wittman]. All three teams will be home in two weeks when the playoffs begin. And all three have head coaches with direct ties to Rivers.
“That’s huge because otherwise, I wouldn’t ask, to be honest,” Rivers said. “So, if you have a relationship with a coach, it helps. And there’s also a lot of coaches not coaching right now that you talk to a lot. You even ask them, ‘Who would you guard or how would you attack?’ It’s good getting somebody outside of us because they see us entirely different than we see ourselves.”
|04.10.13 at 12:26 pm ET|
With the trade deadline long gone and the Celtics positioning themselves for another playoff run, just when you thought it was safe to table the discussion of trading veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Marc J. Spears reminds everyone that their departure is a very real possibility in the near future.
These two names were certainly hot before the trade deadline. A lot of people were wondering if Garnett might go to the Clippers or Paul might get moved. If something’s going to happen with either one of them or both of them, the summer is a better time for that, because you’re not in a rush. There’s no real big deadline. You can think about it. Even draft night is a possibility.
Keep in mind, Pierce has one more year left on his deal. Pierce is still a valuable player, still a dynamic player. Keep an eye on a team like the Clippers. Not so much even for Garnett, but for Pierce, because if the Clippers stumble in the first or second round, I think that small forward position is something that they could use. They need maybe that No. 3 scorer or even that No. 2 scorer to kind of get them over the hump and be in the elite. He’s from L.A., so I don’t think Danny Ainge is going to send him to Minnesota. He’s going to send him somewhere that he would be happy with, and I’m sure Paul probably thinks he he could get an extension with a team like the Clippers.
But the problem with trading Garnett is — no matter where it is, even if it was Miami — he could potentially retire. He’s not a guy who wants a change, and he’s a guy who’s big on commitment. It would have to be a place where you’d have to have some stars that could convince him, but, to me, I think Pierce is probably the more likely guy if either of the two are to get moved in the offseason.
While speculation resumes about their future, Pierce and Garnett focus on preparing for the playoffs. The two spoke at length about developing consistency in a year full of inconsistencies. Here are the highlights.
|04.09.13 at 2:59 pm ET|
While Mavericks owner Mark Cuban claimed he might select Baylor women’s basketball sensation Brittney Griner in the second round of this June’s NBA draft and Heat wing Shane Battier suggested a woman will make the league in his lifetime, Celtics captain Paul Pierce doesn’t foresee either scenario playing out anytime soon.
“I think it will be a little difficult, just because of the physicality of the sport,” said Pierce, who has watched the many highlights of Griner. “The men are much faster, much stronger and much more athletic. Will it happen one day? I don’t know. They have a women’s league, where they are the best women in the world. Honestly, I can’t tell you if I can see a woman right now playing in the NBA. Not in the next couple of years. No.”
The 6-foot-8 senior set NCAA women’s career records for dunks and blocks, won the national title as a junior and claimed her second straight Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year trophy this season.
“If she is the best on the board, I will take her,” Cuban told reporters before a game last week.
Added Battier: “There’s no doubt that in our lifetime, there will be a woman NBA player.”
As usual, Celtics coach Doc Rivers did a better dancing around the issue than anyone.
“If I find a green man walking down the street and I think he can rebound, I’m going to draft him,” he told reporters prior to Friday’s loss to the Cavaliers. “So, I don’t think anyone cares. Obviously, it would make a huge story and it would be really cool. I just don’t know the answer. I don’t watch it enough to know, but it would be great.”
Perhaps Pierce and Griner should play a game of 1-on-1 to settle this NBA debate once and for all.
|04.09.13 at 1:53 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Sometimes movies imitate real life. And sometimes, it’s the other way around.
With news last week that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would welcome an openly gay player on his team and the coming out announcement by Magic Johnson‘s son, the subject has been a topic of discussion.
Doc Rivers was asked before Tuesday’s practice about the potential impact on the NBA if a player came out as openly gay. Rivers drew a comparison to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball and major professional sports in 1947.
“There’ll be a lot of talk about it and then I think it will go away,” Rivers said. “It’s [interesting]. As a team, I took the team to see ’42′ [on Monday]. There was a lot of talk and then all of a sudden, everybody starts playing. And I think the same thing will happen. So, that’s the way I look at it.”
Rivers also said there was much about the movie that reminded him of the ‘Ubuntu’ concept he brought in during the 2008 championship season.
“It was really good. It was fantastic,” Rivers said. “It was a great team message. It’s funny, you think race, but, really, it was more of a team message, when players on the Brooklyn Dodgers accepted Jackie. And a lot of it was because he was their teammate. Actually, one of the guys said that, he said, ‘What do you expect? I’m your teammate.’ And I just thought that was really a cool honor.”
Rivers was asked if his players knew the historical impact and the story behind Robinson’s MLB debut and breaking the color barrier.
“Yeah, I think a lot of players know the history,” Rivers said. “Some may not have, I don’t know that. But I always go by — I thought guys were at their full attention throughout the movie, and engaged, which I thought was really cool.”
Other practice notes:
“Obviously, we have to take care of our position,” Rivers said. “But, for Kevin, rest is always important, and Paul as well. But, other than that, we’ve thought about (resting them), we’ve talked about it.”
“Yeah, that’s a sad, sad thing,” Rivers laughed. “I’m so disappointed in Terry. I mean, getting lost going out to have a drink with me — I can see that. But getting lost going to the ballpark, my gosh. And he lives two blocks away, and he was walking! I didn’t know you could get lost walking. But, I guess you can.”
|04.08.13 at 12:02 am ET|
Kevin Garnett knew coach Doc Rivers and trainer Ed Lacerte would be watching his every move Sunday night.
Playing for the first time since inflammation and bone spurs in the left foot caused him to sit out eight games, Garnett paced himself and scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes as the Celtics beat the Washington Wizards, 107-96, at TD Garden.
“I felt okay,” Garnett said of playing for the first time since March 22 in Dallas. “I felt strong enough to play. I felt decent in my minutes and I picked and choosed when I was aggressive. I did the things I typically do. That was it. I told Ed that if I felt like I couldn’t go that I wouldn’t push myself but Doc has a lot of trust in what I’m doing. We were on the same page so so far so good.”
Rivers said the situation, as it turned out, was ideal for Garnett’s return – that is, 24 minutes in a low pressure environment.
“I thought he was really good, really good,” Rivers said. “And I thought his rhythm was good early. I was surprised how well he was running; I noticed that [Saturday] in practice. We did all fast-break stuff and I was just doing it for him, just so he could blow his lungs out, and I was surprised how well he was running. So that was good. And I don’t know what we played him – 24 minutes – that’s, I mean, you couldn’t script that. That was perfect. Actually I wanted 20, but 25 was what I didn’t want to go.”
Garnett was 6-of-9 from the field and was able to defend well, posting a plus-8 while on the court. While Paul Pierce was busy pointing out how important Garnett’s presence is to Boston’s postseason hopes, Garnett was focused instead on the way the rest of his team is playing.
“It doesn’t matter what line-up goes or who’s on the floor as long as we’re playing the right way,” Garnett said. “That’s all my concern is. Just making sure that we’re sharing the ball, playing as a team, giving up for each other, playing defensively, being one voice, one sound – those are the things that are most important.” Read the rest of this entry »
|04.07.13 at 10:16 pm ET|
Paul Pierce knows the value of Kevin Garnett – or more to the point – a healthy Kevin Garnett.
Pierce said the Celtics are going nowhere without Garnett at full strength going into the playoffs. Garnett scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes in his first game back since injuring the ankle on March 22.
“I feel good because I know when we’re all out there and we’re on, we’re as tough as anybody in the East to beat, especially with Kevin’s presence,” Pierce said after Garnett scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes.
“We’re not going anywhere without Kevin’s presence, just being honest with you. He’s a big part of what we try to do out there on offense and defense. We play through him a lot. He anchors the defense. It’s going to be important for him in these last few of games to get his legs back and get going.”
Pierce said it’s important for the Celtics to be playing their best ball going into the playoffs, pointing specifically to Brandon Bass, who led Boston with 20 points Sunday night.
“Its good to be playing the best basketball at the right time, and right now is the right time going into the playoffs for some guys to get their confidence going and start having some big games,” Pierce said. “That’s going to be huge for us if he continues to play well going into the playoffs, and the great thing about it is he’s doing it all off of the hustle plays and off of ball movement. When you can do things like that without a play being called for you…that’s beautiful.
“It was good. Kevin healthy finally, im coming along…so were gonna need these next few games to really prepare for the upcoming playoffs no matter who we play, and right now is the time for us to start hitting our stride.”
|04.07.13 at 8:23 pm ET|
Paul Pierce scored 15 and Kevin Garnett added 10 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes as the Celtics beat the Wizards, 107-96, Sunday night at TD Garden. The Celtics were 3-5 in the eight games Garnett missed with inflammation and bone spurs in the left ankle.
Pierce missed only Friday’s game with a sore right ankle, as the Celtics recovered from Friday’s embarrassing 97-91 loss to the Cavaliers, a game that snapped Cleveland’s 10-game losing streak.
Not only did the Celtics (40-37) get their two star regulars back from foot injuries, Boston took a step closer toward clinching the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference as they lead the Bucks by two games in the loss column with five games left to play.
Chris Wilcox had a big first half off the Boston bench, scoring eight points and helping the Celtics to a 56-52 halftime lead. Wilcox finished 5-of-6 from the field and led all Boston bench scorers with 13 points.
Leading the way was forward Brandon Bass with 20 points as the Celtics outscored the Wizards, 31-19, in the third quarter and built an 18-point lead.
Bass shot 9-of-12 from the field and played a team-high 36 minutes to lead the Celtics, who watched as the Wizards closed the lead down to 10 with three minutes remaining but could get no closer.
Boston is off Monday and Tuesday before finishing their four-game homestand on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets at 8 p.m. at TD Garden.
For more from Mike Petraglia from the Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
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