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Hawks say Pierce lost bet on ’08 playoffs

10.20.09 at 9:32 pm ET
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Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks had some interesting things to say about Celtics captain Paul Pierce Tuesday in a radio interview on Atlanta’s 790 The Zone. Recalling the teams’ intense, seven-game, first-round playoff series in 2008, Horford said Pierce was so confident that, during some trash-talking on the court, Pierce bet Horford $10,000 that the Celtics would sweep.

“I haven’t talked to him [since the series], but I know he owes me money,” Horford said. “Marvin [Williams] was a witness. We were at the free throw line and he was telling me that they were going to sweep us and all this and, you know, we bet and I never got anything.”

Williams also took part in Tuesday’s interview and backed up his teammate’s accusation.

“He bet ten thousand we wouldn’t win a game,” Williams stated.

Later in the interview, Horford and Williams claimed that they were not holding a grudge.

“I’m not mad at him at all,” Horford said. “You know, I mean, he’s a competitor like you said and, you know, he wants to win. He’s a good player, so, I mean, it’s fine for him to talk. He’s a vet.”

Said Williams: “You know, growing up, you know, Paul Pierce was one of the guys I looked up to. At the end of the day, he’s a competitor, man, he wants to win just like we want to win and it’s never personal.”

For more on the story at Hooponion.com, including the audio of the interview, click here.

Fun With Numbers

10.20.09 at 9:43 am ET
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There are a couple of very different sets of numbers that caught my eye this morning.

First, is the postseason data from 82games.com, which shows that Rajon Rondo was the Celtics best player in the playoffs last season, and by a fairly wide margin. There are a couple of other observations we can make from the data. Among them:

1. The Celtics really missed Kevin Garnett. Compare the 2008-09 playoff numbers with the 2007-08 numbers and not only will Garnett’s Roland Rating (a simple explanation is here) jump right off the page, but so will the effect he had on his teammates …

2. Particularly Paul Pierce. The Captain shot much worse in 2008-09 then in 2007-08 and had a significantly lower percentage of assists leading to his shots, which speaks to ball movement, which is one of Garnett’s most underrated offensive contributions. There were a number of theories for Pierce’s sub-par postseason, but a simple reason may have been that he just had to do too much and work too hard to get his shot off without KG.

3. The bench was really bad, especially Stephon Marbury. There was also no depth. Of the players who did play, Eddie House was the biggest contributor among the reserves (no surprise), but that was about it.

Moving on, the fine fellows at basketball-reference.com have put up a huge amount of preseason data (hat tip to Henry Abbott at True Hoop), and from that we can see that the Celtics most efficient offensive player has been Mike Sweetney (!)

We can also see that Garnett and Rasheed Wallace have been killing it defensively. Of possibly greater importance, the Celtics have also played the best team defense in the NBA, which is nice. You can waste hours of your life playing with this stuff, but as Abbott and everyone else pointed out, there’s only a week left until the games start to really count, which is the best number of all.

Read More: Geekery, Kevin Garnett, Numbers, Paul Pierce

Celtics to Host Annual Shamrock Gala

10.19.09 at 3:28 pm ET
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On Friday, October 23 the Celtics will host their annual Shamrock Gala to benefit the Shamrock Foundation. The event, which will be held at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel from 6:00pm-9:30pm, will include a discussion with the team hosted by WEEI’€™s Glenn Ordway. Those scheduled to attend include:

This year’€™s auction items will include a trip for two (including airfare, dinner, and accommodations) to be on the set of ‘€œEntourage’€ in Los Angeles, courtesy of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation. All proceeds will benefit the Celtics Shamrock Foundation, which currently partners with Perkins School for the Blind, Boston Children’€™s, Horizons for Homeless Children, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC), and Berklee College of Music.

Tables for the Gala can be purchased by contacting Rebekah Splaine at 617-854-8090.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen

Celts Make it Five Straight

10.18.09 at 6:09 pm ET
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Marquis Daniels can do a lot of things on the basketball court. That’s a big reason why the former undrafed free agent has had a long and productive career as a role player.

Coming into the Celtics preseason game with the Raptors Sunday in Toronto, Doc Rivers figured to see just how many things Daniels could do on the court. He has already proven himself as a capable ball handler and backup swing man, but Rivers wanted to see him running the point and playing small forward for extended stretches of game action in the Celtics 101-82 victory over Toronto. (Click here for a recap).

Daniels was in the 3-spot for about six minutes of the second quarter when he ran with Rajon Rondo and Eddie House in the backcourt and Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace up front. The lineup had some rough spots offensively, but they were active and pesky on defense and Rivers may have found yet another combination to play with once the regular season starts.

There was talk of other more exotic lineup combinations, but few materialized Sunday. Instead Ray Allen and Rondo played 30+ minutes and Kevin Garnett checked in with a 21-point, 28-minute afternoon. The starters were in rhythm offensively in the first half, shooting 78 percent in the first quarter as Garnett and Allen combined to go 10-for-12 for 23 points.

The second half was more ragged, but all in all, it was another productive preseason outing for the Celts who have won five straight.

A few other observations:

Allen finds his stroke: As the Celtics check items off their preseason to-do list, they can add another notch after Allen finally had a hot shooting night. Coming into the game, Allen was shooting just 36 percent in his four outings. But after going 6-for-6 in the first half and finishing with an efficient 20-points, the veteran shooter is back on track.

Not that anyone should have been worrying about Allen. He is coming off one of the best shooting seasons of his career and he came into camp in terrific shape. But Allen is in the final year of his contract and his season will be watched carefully for any signs of slippage. As a general rule, when shooting guards in their 30′s lose it, they tend to lose it quickly.

Allen has been able to defy the ravages of time and has the game to continue being a successful shooter for a few more years. Whether that will translate into another big contract remains to be seen.

Inside the matchups: The Celtics don’t figure to get a lot of competition from the Atlantic Division this year. The Knicks and Nets are in various stages of their rebuilding programs and while the Sixers and Raptors should find themselves in playoff contention, neither is likely to make a serious move in the east.

Still, the games against Toronto are some of the more intriguing ones for the Celtics because there are three great individual matchups — Rondo vs. Jose Calderon, Paul Pierce vs. Hedo Turkoglu and Kendrick Perkins vs. Chris Bosh.

Rondo and Calderon are two of the top point guards in the conference, while Pierce and Turkoglu love to mix it up with each other. The two are among the craftiest practitioners of their art in the league and Pierce has tremendous respect for Turkoglu.

Perkins, meanwhile, is on the cusp of earning serious defensive cred around the league, especially after he battled Dwight Howard with one arm in last season’s playoffs. Bosh is one of his toughest covers because the Raptors big man can go inside and out and because he has several inches on Perkins.

Give Bosh the edge Sunday. He had Perkins in foul trouble for most of the afternoon and finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, but expect to see some great battles during the regular season.

NOTES: As expected, Tony Allen (ankle) and Bill Walker (knee surgery) didn’t play. Former Celtic Patrick O’Bryant had two points, four rebounds and five fouls in 12 uninspired minutes. The teams combined for 43 turnovers and 54 fouls.

The Celtics have two more preseason games — at New York Tuesday and at Cleveland Wednesday. Don’t expect to see much against the Cavs.

Read More: Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Marquis Daniels, Raptors

‘Rare’ lineup for Celtics on Sunday

10.17.09 at 4:25 pm ET
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WALTHAM – Celtics coach Doc Rivers said following Saturday’s practice that he intends to use a ‘rare’ lineup on Sunday in Toronto against the Raptors in the team’s sixth preseason game.

Rivers will start Paul Pierce, along with Ray Allen and Marquis Daniels, with Daniels the most-likely choice to start at the point. Daniels, who has played big guard as well as small forward, has been getting time in practice as the point behind Rajon Rondo.

“We’re just going to do that [Sunday] to see what the other team does defensively,” Rivers said Saturday.

Daniels, along with Eddie House and rookie Lester Hudson figure to get a long look as Rivers considers back-up options behind Rondo off the bench.

Read More: Celtics, Marquis Daniels, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo

Allen Excited for Obama’s Visit, Would Consider Politics

10.17.09 at 3:11 pm ET
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WALTHAM — In January Ray Allen traveled to Washington, D.C. to watch President Barack Obama’s inauguration in person. Now he would welcome the opportunity to meet him a little closer to home.

Obama is scheduled to visit Boston this Friday, October 23, to attend a luncheon for Governor Deval Patrick’s re-election campaign. Although Allen was unaware of the event, he was enthusiastic upon hearing the news.

‘€œI’d be pumped to meet him, just to sit down and have a conversation with him, just to talk to him,’€ Allen told WEEI.com following practice on Saturday. ‘€œI think that we get so consumed with what’s going on in our lives. I have a saying, and I’m sure that other people use it, but never judge a man before you walk a mile in his shoes, and then once you get a mile away you can say whatever you want. And that’s kind of how it is. You watch somebody from afar, I think you see people’s jobs unfold. Like people criticize us for what we do, what we don’t do on the floor.

‘€œIt’s always interesting to sit down and talk to somebody in the position of power that is passing legislation. Whether it’s five minutes or ten minutes, you really get an inside take or feel of how that person thinks or how that person operates. So I think anybody who sat down with me or any of the other guys on the team, they are always interested even more and they want to watch the game even more because you start to see different things and you understand how the game is played. It’s a little bit more difficult than it may look from the surface, and I definitely believe that’s the Presidential office. That’s probably the hardest job in this country. At the same time it’s the highest position that anybody could reach, it’s like the ultimate sign of success. But at the same time, who wants the job because you’ve got so much coming down on you? So I’d be interested in meeting him, whether it’s five minutes or ten minutes, just to have a conversation with him.’€

Allen already knows his opening line if he ever met the President. After that, he would find it easy to relate Obama’s position in politics to his own role in professional sports.

“I think that I would ask him about his hoop game because I heard that he played a lot,” he said. “And then it would depend on how much time I would have with him. If I had five seconds, I would say how’s the hoop game? If I knew I had like 20, 25 minutes with him I would probably ask him a lot about just how he does it and how he holds it in. I know how I hold my position in and what I do. Somebody said something interesting today about America. We were talking about when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, Doc [Rivers] actually said this to me. We were talking about all the people who were criticizing him and it would be like if Doc won Coach of the Year and I said, ‘Why did he get it? He didn’t deserve it.’ He’s on my team, I want him to get all the awards that he should get. And that’s the same thing when he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Doc said, we were talking about it, ‘Unfortunately everybody in America’s not on the same team.’ And that’s the unfortunate thing.”

Allen could see himself getting involved in politics after he retires from basketball. Even though he may be a veteran in the NBA, he understands he would be a rookie in the political world.

“I would consider it,” he said. “Obviously I think I have a lot to learn about the economy, not just the American economy but the overseas economy as well. I’d need to make sure that I went to more than just Mexico and Canada (laughs). I’ve been overseas a couple of places but I’d have to extend my travel. You have to see the world, you have to understand people around the world. You can’t just be from one place and try to rule over everyone.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Ray Allen,

Doc: ‘I like where we’re at

10.17.09 at 2:45 pm ET
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WALTHAM – Celtics coach Doc Rivers sounded a very optimistic tone following Saturday’s practice in Waltham, 10 days before the team’s season opener in Cleveland.

“For us, it’s just getting better with continuity on both ends, working on all the little things. I like where we’re at, honestly. I like our team. The answer to ‘Are you ready to play the first game?’ You don’t know that until you play it. You think you are all the time but I do like where our team is at,” Rivers said.

“This group to me, the first unit is playing fantastic. [Rajon] Rondo has been absolutely fantastic and Kevin [Garnett] is coming along and everybody is playing well.”

The Celtics are 4-1 in preseason and play in Toronto on Sunday in the sixth of eight preseason games.

Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers,
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