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Three point play: Time for Plan B

11.29.10 at 4:25 pm ET
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Barely a month into the season, Doc Rivers is already seeing his plans go up in smoke. The hoped-for scenario, with all the accumulated talent on the roster, was to employ a 10-man rotation, almost in a platoon style. Now that Jermaine O’Neal and Delonte West are out, Rivers is forced to scramble a bit. The Celtics are down to a dozen able-bodied players and three of them are rookies.

“You come into the year with one plan and you got to change the plan sometimes and that’€™s something we’€™re doing as a staff,” Rivers said after the team conducted practice Monday. “The 10-man thing is not going to work right now. I believe it’€™s really important for us to have one because that allows [the starters] to get rest.”

Rivers said the injuries will force him to sub differently and you may see him go to his bench earlier in an attempt to jumpstart the minutes rotation. At the same time, he’s reluctant to leave all of his starters on the bench at any one time without veterans like West and O’Neal to take charge of the second unit.

“I’€™m just going to have to sub differently,” Rivers said. “It’€™s not what I wanted to do. The way our starters play, logically, I’€™d rather extend their minutes together. It’€™s just not going to work out that way.”

Rajon Rondo is already logging 39 minutes a night and Ray Allen checks in at 38 per game. Allen, Paul Pierce (36 minutes) and Kevin Garnett (33) have all seen their playing time increase from the previous season. Garnett said the veterans are ready for it.

“Everybody on here they’€™re going to have to be extended, not just us three,” Garnett said. “Guys have to anticipate playing more minutes.”

One player who has suddenly found himself with an unexpected role is Von Wafer, who has seen the court in small doses. Wafer is ahead of rookie Avery Bradley because of his experience, and also his shooting ability. “Obviously we need Von more than Avery in some ways,” Rivers said. “We need the guy to play the 2-spot. Avery can help us.” As for his defense, Rivers said that Wafer is working on it.

West is scheduled to have surgery on his wrist Tuesday and the Celtics will have a better idea how long he will be out after the procedure is performed. As for Jermaine O’Neal, his status is still up in the air. Rivers said that he was out for all of this week and that’s as far as they were willing to look.

Everyone knew injuries would be a part of this year’s team and now it’s time for the first of what could be many Plan B’s.

More practice notes after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Avery Bradley, Glen Davis, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo

Delonte West wrist surgery set for Tuesday

11.29.10 at 2:41 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced that guard Delonte West will have surgery on Tuesday for the fractured right wrist he suffered last Wednesday night late in the second quarter against New Jersey after driving in for a lay-up. Rivers said the team will know more about West and his fate for the rest of the season following the procedure.

“Surgery [Tuesday] and then we’ll know more after that,” Rivers said after practice on Monday.

Rivers aded starting point guard Rajon Rondo‘€™s left hamstring is no longer an issue but his sore left foot still remains troublesome. ‘€œThe foot is the bigger issue. The hamstring [injury] is gone for the most part.’€ Rivers said.

Rondo returned on Friday against Toronto after a three-game absence with a strained left hamstring.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Delonte West, NBA, Rajon Rondo

Shaquille O’Neal misses practice unexcused

11.29.10 at 2:08 pm ET
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UPDATE: The Celtics announced that Shaquille O’Neal was on the flight to Cleveland for Tuesday’s game with the Cavaliers.

WALTHAM — Forgetting the time practice begins is not the best way to endear yourself to the coach – especially when it comes after the coach gives you and the rest of the team the Thanksgiving weekend off. But Shaquille O’Neal can be lucky that he’s built up a lot of goodwill with Doc Rivers.

“You get over it,” Rivers said. “Listen, if a guy had a history, then you deal with it differently. When a guy doesn’t have a history or something, it happens. It’s life, you move on. You do whatever you do, fine [the player] or whatever all that stuff is. I never release that stuff and it’s not a big deal.”

The Celtics center missed practice on Monday when he forgot when practice began, according to coach Doc Rivers. Team spokesman Jeff Twiss confirmed that O’Neal did make the team flight to Cleveland for Tuesday night’s game. The absence comes after the 12-4 Celtics were given Saturday and Sunday off by the coach to enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend. Glen Davis had to take his place in practice for the short-handed C’s.

“Today, we only had 11 guys, which sucks,” Rivers said. “It hurts your practice because that means most of your guys are on the floor for the entire practice. That’s not the way to go. He got times mixed up, he missed one, he owes us one. We’re good.”

Asked if he would punish O’Neal, Rivers joked, “I was going to spank him. He may not hurt. It may hurt me.”

Then Rivers was asked if he handles star players differently than other players.

“It depends on who you are,” Rivers said. “If you have a history of that, we deal with it. It’s a human game and it always will be. I don’t have a set rule for one guy or two guys. Each guy is an individual basis is what I’m saying. You deal with it that way. You put money in the bank. If you’re a guy who tends to use his money up, then it’s a little shorter.”

The Celtics had a 90-minute practice that began at noon at their complex in Waltham.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA, Shaq

Irish Coffee: An NBA tribute to Leslie Nielsen

11.29.10 at 11:13 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the basketball ties in the wake of Sunday’s passing of Leslie Nielsen — one of the great comedic actors in history.

Playing Dr. Rumack in the 1980 comedy classic “Airplane”, Nielsen starred alongside NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as Roger Murdock. Unfortunately, Nielsen didn’t appear in Kareem’s best scene.

In addition, back in 1994, when Del Harris assumed the head coaching position of the Los Angeles Lakers, he joked about serving as a double for Nielsen in Hollywood. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein contacted Harris for comment …

“We had already had the lookalike thing going, and I had actually signed a name to an autograph a time or two, so I said to him, ‘How about going in the locker room and act like you are me and tell them they played a good game or you are proud of them or whatever you have.’ He did it and the guys loved it.

“He brought a lot of laughter to the world, but not tonight. Peace, Leslie.”

Of course, Nielsen also had ties to the NFL (co-starring alongside O.J. Simpson in the “Naked Gun” movies) and Major League Baseball (impersonating an umpire in “Naked Gun”).

R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen. Now, on to some Boston Celtics links …

DOC’S DIAGNOSIS OF AUSTIN RIVERS

NBA.com’s Shaun Powell caught up with Doc Rivers to discuss the success of his son, Austin Rivers, who ranks No. 1 among Class of 2011 high school basketball recruits.

The only actual news to come from the story is that Doc will miss up to 10 potential practice days in order to catch some of his son’s games in Florida.

“It’s not the best way, but it’s the only way,” Rivers told Powell. “If they play and I’m off, I’m there.”

Will Doc’s potential absence for as many as 10 practice days affect this veteran-laden Celtics team? In my mind, no chance. It might have some small effect on a young team, but because of their collective experience this C’s squad is the ideal group for Rivers in this situation, as a few absences in favor of father-son bonding shouldn’t impact their success one way or another.

And, in many ways, the father-son relationship between Doc and Austin Rivers is just like any other involving a teenager.

“You know when you’re a teenager you really don’t even want to talk to your parents anymore,” Doc said, with a laugh. “So basketball does give you a conversation piece. While the bond my wife and I have with all of our kids is away from basketball, it helps.”

In other ways, their relationship is unlike most, in that Doc could one day coach his son in the NBA.

“I harbor dreams that he makes it to the league,” Rivers said. “But coaching him? That’d be tough. Because I have to live with his mom. She runs the household. If I didn’t play him one day, I’d have to go home to his mother. And that would be no fun at all.”

Of course, if Austin Rivers lives up to his billing as the nation’s No. 1 recruit, the Celtics probably won’t have a chance at drafting him in a few years — considering he’d be a top-10 pick in that scenario.

FORMER CELTICS STRUGGLE TO FIND HOMES

In a bizarre story over the holiday weekend, despite Stephon Marbury‘s popularity in the Chinese Basketball Association last season, Shanxi Zhongyu opted not to sign the former Celtics guard to one of its three contracts allotted for international players.

Not only that, but the team only alerted Marbury after he arrived for training camp in Taiyuan. As a result, he hasn’t been able to sign with another CBA team, because they too have signed their three international players.

“If they said they weren’t going to sign him a month ago, then Marbury still would have had a lot of other opportunities because there are still some teams who are quite interested in him,” Titan Sports associated editor and close Marbury confidant Yang Yi told NIUBBall.com.  “But now, every CBA team has already signed their import players, so it’€™s going to be real tough for Marbury to find a team to play with.

“He’s dissapointed in Shanxi.  This is treachery.  Marbury isn’t strapped for cash, he doesn’€™t need to play in China because he needs money.  He just feels really sad because he loves Shanxi.  This summer he was working out and keeping his body in shape.  He feels really hurt by the team.”

In other news, former Celtics All-Star Antoine Walker could sign a contract with the NBA Development League as soon as Monday.

One former Celtic who isn’t having trouble finding his place is Al Jefferson, who got emotional after his Utah Jazz upset the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I haven’t beaten the Lakers in probably six years, since I left Boston, and I haven’t been in a playoff game in six years and it felt like a playoff game,” Jefferson told The Orange County Register. “Every possession counted. Kobe Bryant being who he is, and we were down, we fought back, we didn’€™t give up. We won against all odds. It was just amazing, man. I’€™m overwhelmed. It’€™s never been like this before, and to be a part of this. It just meant a lot to me.”

CAN RAJON RONDO AVERAGE 20 ASSISTS?

Rajon Rondo believes he can average 20 assists per game. At least, that’s what he told NBA FanHouse.

OK, so how many assists per game does Rondo believe he can average this season?

“Twenty,” he said.

Realistically, how many?

“Twenty,” said Rondo, who did hand out 24 Oct. 29 against New York but hasn’t exceeded 17 in any other game.

OK, why do you think that?

“Because we’re shooting the ball extremely well,” he said. “We’re playing together and moving the ball.”

In order to produce 20 assists a game, Rondo would have to average 21.1 dimes over the next 66 games this season. While I’m not buying that — considering he’s only eclipsed 20 assists once this season — I still think he has a shot at John Stockton‘s 1989-90 NBA record of 14.5 assists per game.

SHAQ DOMINATES BASKET & RINGS

The Onion once again took on the Celtics, this time in a tonge-in-cheek article entitled, “Shaquille O’Neal shows he can still dominate around basket of fries.” Here’s a sample:

“Shaq’s already got four onion rings on his fingers, but he still wants to get one more for the thumb,” Kevin Garnett said. “And you know what? Tonight he showed he’s going to do whatever it takes to get a whole handful of onion rings. Whatever it takes.”

Never a dull moment when it comes to this Celtics squad.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Leslie Nielsen, NBA

Kevin Garnett gets his revenge on Andrea Bargnani

11.27.10 at 1:01 am ET
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Call it a lack of respect from certain members of the Raptors, an overwhelming desire to make good on a sub-par performance five days earlier or a kick in the butt from his head coach, Kevin Garnett was a man on a mission Friday night.

After Andrea Bargnani dropped 29 points on the Celtics last Sunday in a 102-101 come-from-behind Raptors win in Toronto, Celtics coach Doc Rivers pulled Garnett aside and essentially told him that can’t happen again. Garnett responded by scoring a season-high 26 points while holding Bargnani to 11 in Garnett’s best two-way game of the season as the Celtics prevailed, 110-101, Friday nigh at TD Garden.

“Doc has different ways of motivating me,” Garnett said. “He pulled me to the side, he wasn’t really happy with Bargnani situation up there and I wasn’t really pleased with that, either. And tonight was more of a concentrated effort to just make sure I kept him under control. It doesn’t take much to motivate me.”

Rivers was far more subtle in his post-game comments but hinted that he saw the KG everyone expected on Friday night.

“Kevin’s energy tonight was off the charts, and you knew it would be, if you know Kevin,” Rivers said. “Because the last time we played them, the guy in his position had a pretty good game, and that’€™s just Kevin Garnett.’€

Then there were the words of Shaquille O’Neal, who hinted that Raptors forward Amir Johnson was talking trash and directing it at KG on the court. Pretty dumb idea, if true.

Garnett said he was inspired by his own fire and Rivers’ words of inspiration.

“It was 50-50 a little bit,” Garnett added. “I didn’t get much sleep [Thursday] night. That’s what it is. I’m going to see Bargnani as long as I’m in the league but I guess the way Doc came at me was the way he wanted it. That’s what he wanted. I likes to see me a little of the chain at times and I don’t mind being like that.”

Read More: Andrea Bargnani, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett

Rajon Rondo ‘a little rusty’ but C’s will take it

11.27.10 at 12:06 am ET
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Rajon Rondo admitted he wasn’t completely back to his old form but said he felt good being back on the court for the first time since suffering a strained left hamstring. Rondo played 35 minutes in Boston’s 110-101 win over the Toronto Raptors Friday night at TD Garden.

“I was rusty,” Rondo said. “Guys made shots in the first quarter. We got some easy looks from my teammates. My timing was a little off for me. But I feel fine.”

But as for his eight assists in the first quarter and 14 for the game, Rondo said he felt like he was seeing the court very well.

“I was in the zone passing the ball,” said Rondo, who added the extended minutes took its toll afterward. “Tired. I hadn’t played in a week. Playing 35 minutes, I was trying to sit the fourth [quarter].”

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, Rajon Rondo,

Shaq calls Rajon Rondo ‘One of the best point guards of all-time’ … again

11.26.10 at 11:22 pm ET
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He also said that Rondo was a cross between Nick Van Exel and Scott Skiles, so …

Here is that, and some other Shaquille O’Neal post-game goodness following the Celtics‘ 110-101 win over Toronto Friday night:

Celtics Box Score
Celtics Schedule
Celtics Headlines
NBA Headlines