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Glen Davis doesn’t really care about the Magic

12.22.10 at 11:54 pm ET
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With consecutive win No. 14 in the books, the focus turned to No. 15 — the Magic — for the Celtics. And the C’s appear to be catching Orlando at the perfect time, even if it is on Christmas.

The Magic have lost eight of nine games and are attempting to integrate Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas into the fold after shipping Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Rashard Lewis out of town. Outside of Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson, it’s a complete overhaul of a team that reached the NBA Finals two years ago.

Not that Glen Davis noticed.

‘€œI don’€™t really care about what they’€™re doing,’€ he said.

Pushed further, Davis added, “I don’€™t really pay attention to what’€™s going on. Those guys have problems they’€™ve got to work out for themselves. As a team, we’€™re trying to focus on one thing, and we’€™re not focused on what other teams are doing. I wish them the best, and I hope they get ‘€¦ everything going — after we play them.”

In just four seasons, Davis has seen plenty of change in the Eastern Conference, as the Pistons, Cavaliers, Magic and Heat have completely revamped their rosters. So, is it tough for Big Baby to get a read on the East?

“I really don’€™t read a lot,” Davis said, with a smile. “I play video games.”

Meanwhile, the Celtics’ core of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins — along with Davis — has remained the same since 2007, and that “Ubuntu,” if you will, is paying huge dividends for the 23-4 Celtics.

“Most definitely,” said Davis. “I think that does give us an advantage.”

When a team can keep its core together, the philosophy remains the same, trickling down the roster even when injuries hit — like they have to Rondo and Perkins, among others.

“That’€™s how we’€™re going to do it — just try to grind,” said Davis. “That’€™s all we can do. We just hope we can keep doing this in June. We’€™re just real deep. We’€™re a deep team. A lot of guys can play quality minutes and come through, and that’€™s what a championship team does.”

Nate Robinson, for one, hasn’t been with this group since its inception three and a half years ago, but after spending his first training camp — and now his first Christmas — with the Celtics, he’s starting to buy into that philosophy.

“This is my first Christmas to play, so I’m looking forward to it,” said Robinson. “But you’ve got to treat it like every game that we’ve been playing … and just play the way we’ve been playing — just play hard, play together, have fun and just play the right way, which is the Celtics way.”

Meanwhile, in Orlando, they’re trying to figure out what the Magic “way” is exactly.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Glen Davis, NBA, Orlando Magic

Even in winning, Paul Pierce admits the refs got the better of him

12.22.10 at 11:34 pm ET
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Paul Pierce started off the night by missing his first seven shots from the field, including a pair of three-point attempts. But that’s not what caused him to admittedly lose his cool in the third quarter, when he was hit with a technical foul by referee Tony Brothers with 6:07 left in the third quarter. Pierce was called for his fourth personal foul, causing him to wave his hand in disgust at Brothers.

“We got frustrated,” admitted Pierce, who finished with 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting and four rebounds in 34 minutes. “I got a technical. I know I was frustrated tonight. Just in a game where you’re trying to get rhythm and the game is off-balance and calls are being called each and every way. It’s hard to get into a rhythm so I was definitely frustrated.”

How frustrated? Maybe the most he’s been since he was teamed with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the 2007-08 season. But there was a huge sense of relief, as Pierce raised his arms at midcourt when the final seconds ticked off of Boston’s 14th straight win.

“Nothing was really going our way,” Pierce said. “Nothing was really going my way. This is one of the more frustrating games I’ve had in a long time. It was just – I don’t know – it was just something about this game, for us to pull it out the way we did, I’m very relieved.

“I felt like this was one of our better wins because we didn’t let the frustration get to us all the way. We found a way, we pulled back and this is one of the many ways we’re finding out about our team and tonight we found out even more about our team.”

Doc Rivers agreed with Pierce in one regard. Wednesday night symbolized just how bizarre and unique this winning streak is. The Celtics are not playing their best basketball by any stretch but still winning, making this the oddest extended winning streak he’s seen. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, NBA

Fast Break: Celtics capture 14th straight

12.22.10 at 10:11 pm ET
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Despite a poor shooting night, the Celtics held on for an 84-80 victory over the 76ers at the Garden on Wednesday night (recap), stretching their NBA-best winning streak to 14 games heading into a Christmas Day showdown in Orlando.

The Celtics made 10-of-12 free throws in the final four minutes — including a pair by Ray Allen with 5.6 seconds remaining — and Kevin Garnett blocked an Andre Iguadola shot with 14 seconds left to preserve an 82-80 lead, as the C’s held on to improve their Eastern Conference-leading record to 23-4. Allen scored a game-high 22 points, while Shaquille O’Neal (13 points, 9 rebounds), Garnett (12 points, 7 rebounds) and Pierce (11 points) all reached double figures.

Elton Brand totaled 16 points and 12 rebounds for Philadelphia before fouling out in the final minutes.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Relying on defense: It’s the staple of their success. Even when the Celtics aren’t shooting well, they can still play defense. They held the 76ers to 80 points on 43.1 percent shooting from the field (28-of-65), they forced 13 turnovers and everybody crashed the boards, as seven different Celtics had at least four boards.

Allen’s hot start: While most of his teammates struggled from the floor to start the game, Allen scored 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the first quarter, helping the Celtics establish an early 23-17 lead. In all, Allen netted his game-high 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting. He also made 5-of-6 free throws, including the game-clinching pair.

Cameo appearances: Off the bench, Von Wafer had his best performance of the season, scoring five points on a nifty up-and-under layup and big second-half 3-pointer. Avery Bradley showed a glimpse of his talent, picking Louis Williams’ pocket and converting on the other end. And Marquis Daniels totaled four points, four rebounds and five assists — including a nice alley-oop to O’Neal.

WHAT WENT WRONG

A rare poor shooting night: The Celtics aren’t used to shooting less than 50 percent from the field. In fact, they entered Wednesday night’s game against the 76ers shooting 51.2 percent as a team for the season.

However, against Philadelphia, they shot just 17-of-46 (37.0 percent) in the first half — scoring only 38 points and entering halftime with a six-point deficit at home against a team with an 11-17 record. For the game, the Celtics shot just 38.8 percent (31-of-80).

Foul trouble: Nate Robinson, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett had to sit for extended periods in the second half as they all picked up their fourth fouls in the third quarter. O’Neal got into some foul trouble of his own in the first half, as he sat out the last three minutes of the half.

After all was said and done, the Celtics’ reserves played a combined 38 minutes, and given the state of their bench due to the number of injuries that have piled up, that wasn’t going to translate into positive results.

Technical difficulties: In the third quarter, Garnett and Pierce each picked up technical fouls following calls against the Celtics — adding insult to injury. Doc Rivers wasn’t too happy with the officiating either, as he had a pointed discussion with referee Scott Foster midway through the third quarter. After a minute, Foster walked away from the conversation, shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA, Philadelphia 76ers

Rajon Rondo ‘moving a lot better’

12.22.10 at 7:16 pm ET
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The Celtics don’t expect Rajon Rondo to be active when they play Orlando on Christmas, and there is still no definitive timetable for his return from an ankle injury that had him in a boot and on crutches for a few days, but they are encouraged by his recovery.

Rondo was at the team’s practice on Tuesday, without the boot, and was dribbling a basketball on the side of the court. “I know he’€™s walking and running pretty well and moving a lot better,” Doc Rivers said. “So I know he’€™s getting pretty close.”

Rondo injured his ankle in the fourth quarter against the Knicks last Wednesday. He had to be helped back to the locker room, but he returned later in the quarter and finished the game. He has also battled foot problems related to plantar fasciitis and a hamstring injury that caused him to miss four games.

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Irish Coffee: Rajon Rondo’s recovery

12.22.10 at 12:26 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Rajon Rondo isn’t exactly Charles Barkley when it comes to talking to the media, but he’s quietly letting us in on his rehabilitation progress as he recovers from a sprained ankle — through his Twitter page

  • Dec. 16: “Another great team effort tonight. A lot of treatment. Elevating my foot now, watching the game.”
  • Dec. 18: “Ankle is feeling better. Out of the boot. Still got a ways to go. Treatment twice a day.”
  • Dec. 21: “I love my new video game. Still keeping my foot elevated.” (see accompanying photo)

Now, I know what you’re all thinking: Where can I get a full-sized H2Overdrive arcade cabinet like the one Rondo uses to elevate his foot? It makes  a great stocking stuffer for just $8,200.

It’s been exactly one week since Celtics president Danny Ainge threw out “a couple of weeks” as a timeframe for Rondo’s return. The first game after that two-week window is against the Pistons on Dec. 29, but do they really need Rondo to beat Detroit? Answer: No. They could probably start Avery Bradley and still win.

Two days later, however, the Celtics host Chris Paul and the Hornets. We all know how Rondo gears up to play the NBA’s best point guards, and some consider Paul the best in the game. You can bet Rondo will want to play in that game. The only question is whether Ainge, Doc Rivers and the training staff will let him.

CELTICS HAVE THE POWER

Ever-so-slowly, as their winning streak has stretched to an NBA-best 13 games — while the Mavericks, Heat and Knicks have snapped their streaks — the Celtics are gaining a monopoly on the national media’s NBA Power Rankings.

Here’s where the C’s rank, according to six major national media outlets:

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, power rankings, Rajon Rondo

Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson kind of agree about playing on Christmas

12.22.10 at 11:24 am ET
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When you’re the coach of the Celtics or Lakers, it’s basically a given than you will be spending your Christmas Day at work. Both teams are staples of the NBA’s annual Christmas Day extravaganza. This year, the C’s play in Orlando, which is at least home for a few players, and notably coach Doc Rivers. The Lakers host the Heat, which was a given the moment Miami signed LeBron James.

In truth, no one likes playing on Christmas, but the Celtics all said Tuesday that it was a privilege and something they expect from playing on one of the league’s best teams. Lakers coach Phil Jackson expressed a different view:

“It used to be Phoenix and L.A. and New York and Boston and New York or Philly or somebody on the East Coast,” Jackson, told reporters before the Lakers game against the Bucks. “Now, I see they have like six games on Christmas. It’s like Christian holidays don’t mean anything to them anymore. You just go out and play and entertain [on] TV. It’s really weird.”

While Rivers didn’t bring up the religious aspect, he did note that the day used to be more special when it involved just two games. The league now has five games running all day with the Celtics and Lakers matchups in the marquee time slots.

“I wish they would reduce the games on Christmas,” Rivers said Tuesday. “I thought it was more special when it was two games. Now they it’€™s up five games. I think that’€™s too many.”

Read More: Doc Rivers, Phil Jackson,

Preview: Philadelphia at Boston, Game 27

12.22.10 at 10:35 am ET
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Up until Tuesday night, the Philadelphia 76ers were cruising right along with a nice little winning run at their backs. They had gone 8-3 in their last 11 games and taken four of the last five. Then, the Bulls happened. The Sixers lost by an astounding 45 points and allowed the Bulls to shoot 65 percent.

In Kate Fagan’s piece in the Inquirer, Andre Iguodala said it was a wake-up call, while coach Doug Collins called it one of those nights. Both of them have a point.

The truth is, the Sixers are not a bad basketball team. They might even wind up being quite good by the end of the season. For now, they have rebounded from a terrible start to become merely decent, which in the top-heavy Eastern Conference is good enough to be in the hunt for a playoff spot.

This has been quite a turnaround since starting the season by winning three of their first 16 games. It’s not hard to see Collins’ imprint all over this team. The key has been defense where the Sixers rank fifth (down from second after Tuesday’s debacle) in effective field goal percentage defense, a stat which accounts for the difference between two and 3-point shots.

The Sixers are not a very good offensive team, but they don’t turn the ball over and there is evidence that they are playing smarter: Thaddeus Young has almost completely cut out his penchant for taking (and missing) 3-pointers, for example.

In addition, Collins seems to have defined roles for his collection of young talent. He turned the team over to second-year point guard Jrue Holiday, who is learning on the job but showing good signs of development, and moved Lou Williams to the bench, where he can create offense for the second unit and provide a nice reserve combination along with Young.

Collins also took No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner out of the starting lineup, where he was horribly overmatched, and replaced him with Jodie Meeks, a 3-point shooter. The Sixers responded by going 6-2 and Meeks immediately went on a tremendous hot streak making, making 15-of-23 from beyond the arc, but he has since cooled hitting just four of his last 25 attempts.

But by far the biggest change for the Sixers has come from Elton Brand. He may never justify the ridiculous five-year, $80 million contract Ed Stefanski gave him after missing almost an entire season because of an Achilles injury — oddly enough, Brand proceeded to miss 53 games in the first of his new deal — but he has played well this season, averaging better than 15 points and eight rebounds a game.

That’s a far cry from Brand’s salad days with the Clippers where he put up almost 25 points and 10 rebounds in 2006, but five years ago Kevin Garnett was still in Minnesota and Ray Allen was still a Sonic. There were still Sonics, period. Times change.

The Sixers are still in the discovery stage. To Iguodala’s point, they managed to beat a handful of decent, but not great, teams during their streak in Portland, New Orleans and the trade-depleted Orlando Magic. Their losses came by eight points against the Lakers, one point against the Celtics and five at Atlanta, so they were playing competitively against the better teams. But mainly they’ve fattened up on so-so competition.

Still, Collins said when he took the job that his goal was to get the Sixers heading in the right direction and he is off to a solid start. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 76ers, Celtics, Preview,
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