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Rivers on D&C: ‘We’re starting to get it back’

03.18.10 at 9:29 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning (click here for the audio) and continued to be an optimist about his team. “We’re starting to get it back,” he said. “If we can get it back in time … I love our chances.”

Rivers was asked about his recent comments that the Celtics are close to getting back to form after their midseason struggles, and he was asked if he meant that the C’s could contend for a championship. “Yeah, I really see that,” Rivers said. “Listen, this is the same team that was 25-5. And I don’t lose sight of that. I’ll let everybody else loses sight of that, but I haven’t. I know we can reach back to that level. … Everyone forgets conveniently, the stretch that we struggled in, we were not right. We were not the same team. Now we’re healthy. We’ve added pieces. Nate [Robinson] is going to help us. Mike Finley is going to help us. Like I told out team, we’re not going to defend ourselves. we’re just going to go out and play. We have to prove that. As a group, I can tell you, our team belives that.”

An online columnist recently suggested that a key problem with the C’s is that Rajon Rondo and Kevin Perkins need to step up and be leaders because the Big Three have been distracted by health problems. “That’s ludicrous,” Rivers said. “It’s ridiculous, it really is. Kevin Garnett] and Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] are the leaders, but so is Rondo and Perk. I think the starting five leads our team and they always have this year. So I don’t know how all of a sudden you assume a different leadership role. That sounds so great in print, or saying it, but it’s not realistic. I think that our team’s leadership has been intact all year. I think all five of those guys lead when they need to. The bottom line is our starting five … all five of them have to set the table for his entire team.”

Rivers also made a prediction that Robinson will be a key contributor in the postseason. “Nate is a guy who has the chance to be a one-game sensation,” Rivers said “He’s going to win a playoff game for us.”

Asked if he was paying attention to the standings as the playoffs get closer, Rivers said no. “Our goal is to be ready, honest to goodness,” he said. “I’m so focused on our team.”

Rondo getting the point of Paul and KG

03.17.10 at 11:16 pm ET
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No one – not even Doc Rivers – needs to remind Rajon Rondo just how important it is to get Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett playing at their peak come April.

Rondo knows if Pierce and Garnett play like they did on Wednesday, whether it’s the lowly Knicks or the mighty Cavs, the Celtics become a whole different beast.

Even with two early fouls, Pierce finished with 29 points and Garnett added 22. Most impressive were the open looks Rondo was getting the pair – one major reason Pierce made 11 of his 17 shots and Garnett 9-of-his-11.

‘€œI do [take pride in setting up],” Rondo said. “You know you can’t leave out Ray [Allen]. He’€™s a jump shooter, so you got to get them looks early. Paul and Kevin create their shots anytime on the court. Get them looks and transitions I think is key. Get them easy looks an going to the free throw lines, and aggressive. I think that both of those guys, talking to Paul and Kevin early on in the game.’€

After the game, Rivers said it was Rondo who stepped up his scoring when he could, getting to the basket and taking more open shots.

That’s all changed now and Rondo said he is more than happy to revert to just running the show and getting the team’s scorers involved.

‘€œWhen I feel like I need to score,” Rondo explained, “I try and do it but otherwise, you know we are rolling. Take shots that’€™s fine with me, as long as we win. Getting assists better for me than scoring.

‘€œFirst and for most. Everybody is back by now, and guys are playing well. Paul played well tonight. You we are winning so be it, regardless of the outcome of how many shots I take, as long as we win.’€

Read More: Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Knicks, NBA

Doc Rivers Press Conference, 3/17

03.17.10 at 10:24 pm ET
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Doc Rivers talks to the media following the Celtics win against the Knicks on St. Patricks Day.

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Kevin Garnett Press Conference, 3/17

03.17.10 at 10:21 pm ET
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BOSTON. — Kevin Garnett talks to the media following the Celtics win against the Knicks on St. Patricks Day.

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Fast Break: Celtics – Knicks

03.17.10 at 8:55 pm ET
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The Celtics improved to 22-13 on St. Patrick’s Day with a 109-97 win over the Knicks on Wednesday in Boston.

Powered by 29 points from Paul Pierce, the Celtics led by as many as 27 in the third quarter. Kevin Garnett was right behind Pierce with 22 points and Marquis Daniels added 10 off the bench. Kendrick Perkins pulled down 12 rebounds while Rajon Rondo dished as many assists.

Davis Lee led the Knicks with 29 points. Former Celtics Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens 8 and 4, respectively.

Player of the Game: Paul Pierce scored 16 of his 29 points in the third quarter alone. It was Pierce’s highest game total since scoring 35 against the Hawks on January 29. He finished the night shooting 11-for-17 FG, 3-for-6 3PG, and 4-for-5 FT.

Turning Point: The Celtics accumulated a double-digit lead six minutes into the game. They led 35-19 after the first quarter, and that was with Pierce going scoreless in just 1:51 (he was sidelined with two fouls).

– The Celtics first five field goals came in the paint. They outscored the Knicks 56-44 in the paint overall.

– The last time Kendrick Perkins grabbed more than 10 rebounds was February 18 against the Lakers (14). It is only the second time since the All-Star Break that he has reached double-digits in boards.

– J.R. Giddens played his first game since undergoing knee surgery six weeks ago. It was his first game in a Knicks uniform and the first time he played at TD Garden since January 18 (as a member of the Celtics).

Nate Robinson scored 8 points in 21 minutes against his former team.

– The Celtics improved to 12-2 in the Atlantic Division. They are now 7-1 at home on Wednesdays.

Read More: Boston Celtics, New York Knicks,

Doc to big men: Shelden ‘wants your minutes’

03.17.10 at 8:40 pm ET
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Doc Rivers remembers how vital a sense of urgency can be for those who back up the starters.

The Celtics coach saw it on the 2008 championship team with Leon Powe and Glen Davis battling each other for minutes on the second unit with veterans James Posey and P.J. Brown.

Now, with Shelden Williams seeing some more playing time of late, he hopes history is in the course of repeating itself.

And he’s let everyone on the second unit know it.

“We kind of alerted the other bigs that if you’re not getting the job done, we’re just going to go with Shelden,” Rivers said before Wednesday’s game. “If he’s not, then we’ll go back with you. But I think right now, with our team, I think that’s a good place for all of them to be in.”

Rivers clearly is looking for that extra fire in the second unit to motivate the likes of Davis and Rasheed Wallace.

“I thought that was very good a couple of years ago with Leon and Baby,” Rivers said. “I thought that sense of urgency that the other guy wanted to play your minutes was a good thing for our team.

“We kind of feel into but I think it’s great that Shelden is there and wants your minutes.”

Williams has seen significant minutes of late in blowouts over the Pacers, Pistons and Knicks.

“It’s need and he’s showing me something,” Rivers said. “It’s been great all year in the fact that once he stopped playing he never stopped working.”

Read More: Celtics, Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Shelden Williams

Third Quarter: Celtics – Knicks

03.17.10 at 8:31 pm ET
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Paul Pierce scored 16 points in the third quarter to give the Celtics a 92-71 lead over the Knicks. He accounted for but eight of the Celtics points in the quarter.

The C’s are dominating the Knicks in the paint and have a 46-24 advantage. They are also outrebounding the Knicks, 33-26.

Kevin Garnett is behind Pierce with 22 points. Kendrick Perkins has 12 rebounds while Rajon Rondo has as many assists.

The Celtics are 34-8 when leading or tied after the third quarter.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Paul Pierce,
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