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Bill Simmons talks some hoops

10.30.09 at 2:11 pm ET
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Bill Simmons joined Dennis & Callahan to talk about his new book, ‘The Book of Basketball’, among other things. Here is a transcript of the conversation (To listen to the audio click here.):

(Transcript courtesy Dan Rowinski)

That is a long book.

Take your time with it. It was never meant to be a book that you read in two days or three days or whatever. It was actually kind of designed that if you want to put it next to your toilet and read it in six months, that’€™s fine.

How long did it take your to write it?

It took me three years. Actually five years from a research standpoint. But really like three solid years of watching games and taking notes and going through every NBA opinion I ever had to make sure that I did not repeat myself. Reading, I read like 100 books. I have ever NBA book that’€™s ever been written including some of the worst books you have ever seen.

Why don’€™t you just make it clear and say those books sucked?

Some of those books were good. I had a bibliography at the end and I wanted to make it clear which books helped my book and some of the books just didn’€™t help, you know?

If it took three years to write, did you ever write something in Year 1 that you ended up changing? Because I know you already changed your thoughts on who will be in the NBA Finals next spring.

Yeah, I did. I wrote the prologue in the summer of ‘€™07, before the KG trade. That’€™s when I really started writing the book. And, we had just lost the lottery and if you remember it was just so depressing to be a Celtics fans. Like, what are we going to do, are we going to take that Chinese guy where he has the workouts where he just goes against the chair. What’€™s going to happen? So, I had this whole thing that it was once great to be a Celtics fan and then the wheels came off and what’€™s going to happen now? As I was writing the book, things totally change, we win the title. That was the thing I had to change the most.

Heard you had some big book signings. Are you so big that you got Tim Donaghy’€™s book squashed because it would have been competition for you?

No, I am not big. Because if I was big that same book company would have sent me those excerpts instead of the sports blog.

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Rondo deadline extended to Monday

10.29.09 at 9:23 pm ET
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ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting that the NBA has extended the deadline to sign players from the 2006 draft class to a contract extension to Monday, meaning the Celtics have until then to re-sign Rajon Rondo. Per Stein, the NBA moved the deadline to be in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement.

Thebo Sefolosaha was the fourth player from the class to sign an extension, joining Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Andrea Bargnani. Rondo is by far the best player from that class who hasn’t worked out an extension.

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NBA Power Rankings — 10/29

10.29.09 at 11:59 am ET
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1. All right, dammit, I’ll give them their props for last year. But there’s no way in hell they’ll be here next week.

2. I thought Sheed was crazy with the 72-win talk; why not 75? Seriously, this will be Doc’s best team yet.

3. Tim Duncan is still great, but the Spurs also win because they’ve got the smartest front office in the league.

4. You’ve hated on Vince. I’ve hated on Vince. But Vince is gonna play out of his mind in this system.

5. OK, Mike Brown. I’ll be the first to say it: The Cavs would be a better team if Shaq came off the bench.

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Doc Rivers on D&C, 10/29

10.29.09 at 11:24 am ET
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Doc Rivers appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show and talked about the Celtics‘ fast start, the impressive bench, and Glen Davis‘ immaturity. A transcript follows. Listen to the interview at the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Can the first game of an 82-game season … be a statement game?

I don’t know if it can be a statement game. I don’t think it’s a statement game to the Cavs, for sure. But I think for us, it helps us. Because we’ve had problems winning in that building, and now you have that monkey off your back, so when you go in there, at least that won’t be in the conversation anymore.

Was [last night's blowout] useful?

It’s always useful this early in the season. We have a lot of things to work on. They didn’t play well, Charlotte, especially in the first half. It’s funny, I thought defensively we were really good, obviously, you look at the numbers all game. But in the first half, I thought we played terrific defense and our offense didn’t match at all. And then in the second half we continued to play terrific defense and then our offense matched. And that’s what stretched the score. I think it was only 10 points at halftime. It was one of those games. Film-wise, it will be a good film session for us when we watch it tomorrow.

Are there not some easy wins in the NBA?

You’re never comfortable. Obviously, just like in football, fourth quarter, you have a big lead, that quarter can become easy. But up until then, it’s all work. You have to earn that score, you have to earn that lead. I was not happy at halftime, because I thought we had blown a golden opportunity to maybe have an easy night the rest of the night. And then we came out in the third quarter and played terrific on both ends. But it’s still hard work to get those leads. And once you get it, as a coaching staff, then you’re panicked to keep it all the time.

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Killer C’s

10.29.09 at 1:10 am ET
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When the Celtics rolled to 66 wins and their 17th NBA title two seasons ago, they owned the third quarter.

The Celtics crushed the collective will and spirit of their opposition coming out of halftime. It became a sense of pride among Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

That spirit has resurfaced in the first two games of this season. And on Wednesday night, during their home opener against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Celtics put on a clinic on how to systematically dismatle their opponent by outscoring the Bobcats, 25-10, holding the visitors to a miserable 3-for-17 shooting from the floor.

Even Larry Brown had to stop and pay homage after the game.

‘€œOur team wasn’€™t prepared, weren’€™t ready to play,” Brown said. “That’€™s nobody’€™s fault but the coach. We got a lot of guys scared to death and that’€™s tough. We talked before the game, you know, just don’€™t turn the ball over early and just hang in. I think we had, like, eight turnovers in the first eight or nine minutes, and that led to a lot of their points.”

The Bobcats were actually in the game, trailing just 32-29 when Boris Diaw hit a layup with 4:38 left in the second. The Celtics pushed the lead to 11 with a 10-2 run to close out the first half.

“Then we got back in the game, cut it to five with the ball and then all hell broke loose. But Doc’€™s done a great job with them. Danny’€™s done a great job of getting the right guys. He’€™s just a heck of a lot better coach and better prepared than we are.’€

But as Larry Brown reminded everyone after the game, hell hath no fury like a team motivated. And the starting five of Garnett, Pierce, Perkins, Rondo and Ray Allen came out in the third quarter with a point to prove – or more accurately no points to allow.

The  Celtics scored the first 15 points of the quarter and the game was over. There’s killer instinct for you, just like 2007-08.

‘€œI thought it was terrific; what did you think?” asked Doc Rivers rhetorically. “I thought it was great.  I thought, obviously, very active early.  Tons of deflections.  We keep that number and it was extremely ‘€“ as high as you can possibly probably get it at halftime.  And I thought we carried it over, contested starts.  Last two nights, I thought it has been absolutely wonderful.’€

What was interesting to note on Wednesday was the fact that the intensity began with the starters and continued with the reserves, an encouraging pattern over the season’s first two games.

“It’s very important,” Shelden Williams said. “That’€™s something that we try to do throughout the course of the season where If we got somebody on the ropes we gonna take them out. These guys are great guys. Theres no such thing as a blue out league. You can see that in basketball all the time you know be down 20 next thing you know it’€™s a tie game. We had a chance to get the team on the ropes and step your foot down and go from there.”

Garnett safe at second

10.29.09 at 12:50 am ET
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Kevin Garnett has already expressed fatigue with the number of questions about his right knee, but any time there’s a hard fall or a slip he’s going to be asked about it. He had such a play midway through the third quarter against the Bobcats when he dove for a loose ball and came up gingerly.

After the play concluded, Doc Rivers replaced Garnett who didn’t return to the court. That may have had as much to do with the score as anything else. The Celtics were up big at the time and things were beginning to get chippy with Kendrick Perkins, Tyson Chandler and Gerald Wallace all picking up technicals.

“My first intention was to get back and run,” Garnett said. “Then I saw Paul [Pierce] and [Rajon] Rondo in the break and I was like, ‘Know what? They got that.’ Let me just sit back here, rub this hip and that was it. It wasn’t nothing. Doc said it looked really bad, but it wasn’t nothing. I slid into second base. The ump said I was safe. I’m good with that.”

Garnett was smiling by the time he got to the bench.

“It was enough because of the lead, and it was just time for him to come out anyway at that point,” Rivers said. “But obviously every time he goes to the floor you just want him to get back up, and he did. He’s fine, but it does scare you because it was an awkward fall. The rarity is that you see a big [man] diving with a 25-point lead at the time. And that’s who he is, and that’s who you want him to continue to be.”

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Fast break: Celtics-Bobcats

10.28.09 at 10:06 pm ET
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If the Celtics opening night win over the Cavs was about their bench, Wednesday night’s 92-59 win over the Bobcats was all about the starting five. The unit that many feel is the best starting five in the league dominated the Bobcats early, regained control of the game in the second quarter and then blew their doors off to start the second half with a 15-0 run.

Every Celtic starter scored in double figures except for Kendrick Perkins who finished with nine points (and seven rebounds). Ray Allen led the way with 18 points and Paul Pierce had 15 including a thunderous tomahawk dunk that put an aesthetic cap on the C’s third quarter run.

Player of the game: Rajon Rondo. The young point guard is staring at a big week, and not just because the deadline to sign an extension is Saturday. With the Cavs and Bobcats in his rear view mirror Rondo gets his first shot at Derrick Rose and the Bulls since their epic playoff series when the two teams meet Friday. On Sunday, Rondo gets the reigning King of the Point Guards in New Orleans’ Chris Paul.

“Rondo has established himself as a guy that other players are going to get up for,” Doc Rivers said prior to the start of the game. “When you reach a level like Paul Pierce, there are no off nights because they’re going to try to make their name off you now.”

Rondo was brilliant against Charlotte with 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting and 11 assists (against only one turnover) as he outplayed both Ray Felton and DJ Augustin. Felton left the game in the second quarter after he hit the floor and had 15 stitches inserted into, and around, his mouth.

Turning point: With about seven minutes left in the second quarter the Bobcats had cut the Celtics lead to four points, 29-25. That’s when Doc Rivers put his starters back on the court. While the offense was still sluggish, the starting five held Charlotte to just six points the rest of that half and went into the locker room with a 42-31 lead.

The Celtics opened things up in the second half, but that stretch set the defensive tone.

* Rasheed Wallace is quickly on his way to becoming a folk hero. He received a loud ovation when he was introduced prior to the game and the cheers grew even more raucous when he knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter. What really brought the house down? Sheed’s karaoke version of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler. All that and he’s got pipes.

* Rivers said he wasn’t overly concerned with managing minutes despite the team playing the second half of a back-to-back and a third game in four days looming with Chicago Friday. He was as good as his word as Ray Allen played almost the entire first half (mainly because of foul trouble for Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels). Kevin Garnett also logged 18 minutes in the first half. It’s a situation that will be watched closely without Glen Davis.

* Speaking of Garnett, he took hard fall diving for a loose ball with about four minutes left in the third quarter. He appeared to be moving gingerly and Rivers quickly replaced him with Shelden Williams. By the time he got to the bench Garnett seemed to be fine, and while he didn’t return to the game he seemed to be in good spirits.

* Things got chippy in the third quarter between Perkins and Charlotte’s Tyson Chandler and Gerald Wallace. All three received technical fouls. You may remember Augustin saying last season that other teams weren’t intimidated by the Celtics anymore.

* Quote of the night came before the game when Pierce addressed the crowd following the introductions. “You see up there?” Pierce said gesturing toward the rafters. “There’s only 17 (banners) up there. We need another one.”

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