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NBA Power Rankings, 10/21

10.21.10 at 4:50 pm ET
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1. LA Lakers: So, Ron Artest was on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night. I knew he was crazy, but I guess I didn’t know he was that crazy. How long can he go without creating a distraction? It worked last year, but there’s a shelf life for these things. Still, they’re the two-time defending NBA champions, and they have “length,” which doesn’t sound right, but size matters in this league.

2. Boston: The Celtics finished the preseason with a 7-1 record, proving they can turn on the “all systems go” button, even when the games don’t matter. That’s a scary thought when wins and losses start to mean something. I’m a little skeptical about how the C’s will integrate Shaquille O’Neal on both ends of the court, but the depth on this team is the league’s best.

3. Miami: Injuries continue to pile up for the Heat: Dwyane Wade (hamstring), LeBron James (hamstring), Mike Miller (thumb), Mario Chalmers (ankle) and Eddie House (shoulder). The 2007-08 Celtics used the preseason to jell; this team will have to do it in the regular season. I’m being careful not to be a “hater” here, so Eddie House doesn’t flip me the bird.

4. Oklahoma City: There are some interesting stories coming out about Jeff Green. He has a “special relationship” with his head coach, whatever that means. According to Etan Thomas, he’s an underappreciated player in the league. Just another one of the Thunder’s young guns.

5. Orlando: Wait a second, it’s a contract year for Vince Carter? So, that’s why he’s trying again — and knocking down 61 percent of his shots (59 percent from 3-point range) this preseason. Combine a motivated Vince, a healthy Jameer Nelson and a Hakeem Olajuwon-inspired Dwight Howard, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

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Read More: Celtics, Heat, Lakers, NBA

Shaq’s debut as a statue in Harvard Square

10.21.10 at 3:03 pm ET
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On Thursday afternoon, Shaq announced on his twitter account that he would be showing up in Harvard Square to be a statue so that people could take pictures with him. WEEI.com had a few people on the scene to snap a few photos and shoot some video. The video will be available soon, but here are a few quick pictures (can you find Shaq in the first one?):

Read More: Shaq, Shaquille O'Neal,

Irish Coffee: Big Baby’s all grown up

10.21.10 at 11:03 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

BOSTON — At this time last preseason, Glen Davis watched in street clothes from the bench with a broken hand he suffered when he took a swing at a friend around 4 a.m. one night.

Big Baby’s done a lot of growing up since then.

“You make a mistake, and it helps you grow,” Davis said after last night’s Celtics win over the Nets in the preseason finale. “Situations happen. … I look at it, and I just look back on how young I was at that time. I’ve had a lot of things happen in my life so far.”

At the start of the preseason, Davis questioned his role, and coach Doc Rivers fired back: “I think Big Baby’s living up to his nickname again.” There was a here-we-go-again feel to it.

But in just three short weeks, Davis has grown into the leader of the NBA‘s best second unit, thanks in large part to Danny Ainge defining his role as,well, an indefinable one.

“It’s how you look at it,” said Davis. “I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t have a role,’ but I knew my role. It was just confusing. I know I’m a versatile player. I can do multiple things. I can play the 5, and I can play the 4.”

Rivers has also let Davis define his own role on the court.

“One thing Doc’s letting me do this year is allowing me to be more creative on my own. So far, in the preseason, I’m being a post threat, and I’m shooting an outside jumper. I’m just glad and fortunate that I know my role now. I know exactly what I can do for this team, and I’m going to do it the best I can.”

BIG BABY: SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR?

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better second unit in the NBA than Nate Robinson, Delonte West, Marquis Daniels, Big Baby and Jermaine O’Neal. So, why shouldn’t that unit produce the league’s Sixth Man of the Year?

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Read More: Celtics, Glen Big Baby Davis, NBA, Shaquille O'Neal

Pierce: No window watching needed

10.20.10 at 11:51 pm ET
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Everyone assumed that the Celtics starters would play only until halftime in Wednesday’s preseason finale against the New Jersey Nets … including, apparently, some of the players.

Boston got off to a sluggish start, and while New Jersey figures to be much-improved this year with new head coach Avery Johnson, the Celtics had no business being down 14 points early in the second quarter, on their home court, in their final tuneup before the most important (or, at least, most hyped?) regular season game in NBA history on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

And their captain knew it. Paul Pierce, who finished with a game-high 17 points in a 107-92 win over the Nets, said the Celtics wanted a good feeling heading into the season.

‘€œWe knew that was not our brand of basketball how we came out to start the game,” Pierce said of allowing the Nets to shoot 50 percent and score 55 points in the first half. “We wanted to try to establish the tone in the third quarter and we just have to do a better job on starting games off and understanding on what we need to do. But I think for the most part we are ready.

‘€œYou want to sort of build something going into the season individually and as a team. It’s about getting the confidence going. You want to be playing well not just as a team. Trying to figure out some things I am trying to do offensively just to get some confidence to know I can get the job done during the regular season.’€

But that wasn’t the only message Pierce sent after the game. He was asked if he views this season, starting with Tuesday’s showdown with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, as a final shot at an NBA title with the current group of Celtics.

“I don’t look at it that way,” Pierce said. “I’ve got four years left, shoot. The window’s open as long as I’m here. Definitely, the sense of urgency is there every year we have our team [together]. We don’t look ahead at a window. The object is to have a sense of urgency now and then next year, worry about that.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Miami Heat

Big Baby knows his role

10.20.10 at 11:00 pm ET
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BOSTON — Glen Davis was lost, and now he’s found.

If you’ll recall, at the start of the preseason, Big Baby told reporters:

“I’€™ve got to find out what my role is. With Rasheed Wallace last year, I had to become a center. Now? I don’€™t know. Do I go back to playing the 4? We’€™ll see.

‘€œIt’€™s difficult because, as a player, you kind of don’€™t understand where the Celtics are going or what they are doing. No matter what I do — I can play great — it’€™s still not enough. I’€™m just here to help the team wherever possible, any way I can. Whenever I find my role, I’€™ll do it to the max, the only way I can.”

Now? He wishes he could take it all back. He knows his role now, after Doc Rivers pulled him aside, telling him to “shut up and play,” and Danny Ainge helped define his role — as a versatile big man off the bench who can play the 4 and the 5.

“I don’t even know why I made that comment,” Davis told reporters after last night’s preseason win over the Nets. “You guys have to help me out when I make stupid comments.”

Davis went as far as saying, “I’m a lucky big man to be on this team,” citing the experience he’s gained in a few years alongside veterans like Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal.

After a poor first half as a team that left the Celtics trailing 55-48 going into the locker room, Davis and Shaq had a pointed discussion at the bench.

“We were just communicating with each other, making sure we were on the same page,” said Davis. “We have to do it a lot, because he really doesn’t know our defensive system. Me being here for four years now, I know it. So, I’m just trying to help him out, making sure he’s there when the rotations need to made.”

Read More: Celtics, Glen Davis, Shaquille O'Neal,

Fast Break: Sharp Shaq ignites C’s win

10.20.10 at 10:04 pm ET
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Five Celtics scored in double figures — led by Paul Pierce‘s 17 points — and Rajon Rondo finished with 12 assists to ignite a 107-92 victory over the New Jersey Nets in the final game of the preseason. Boston finished the preseason at 7-1.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT

1. Shaq looking sharp: A nifty spin move and another juke move around Joe Smith showed flashes of the Shaquille O’Neal of old. Sure, it was Joe Smith, but still. Playing 15 of the first 24 minutes, he finished the half with 12 points and seven boards.

Shaq did the little things, too. He tossed a nice outlet pass to Rondo for an easy bucket that put the C’s up 75-67 in the third quarter. He cleaned up the defensive glass, a serious deficiency for the Celtics in the 2010 game that shall not be named. And, believe it or not, he made 4-of-5 free throws, which raised his percentage to 69.2.

All in all, not too shabby for a 38-year-old.

2. Coming out of halftime firing on all cylinders: The Celtics could’ve easily packed it in and called it a night, trailing 55-48 at the half. If trap games existed in the preseason, this would’ve been it. The C’s started 6-1 in the expedition season, and if you haven’t heard yet they open the season against the new-look Heat on Tuesday.

Yet, the starters came out of the locker room and turned a seven-point deficit into a 13-point lead by the end of the third quarter, outscoring the Nets, 36-16.

3. Getting to the free throw line: The Celtics got to the line 24 times last night and made 18 of them. Shaq, Pierce and Glen Davis each got to the line five times, and only Big Baby (2-of-5) failed to knock them down.

Entering last night’s game, the C’s averaged 28.6 foul shots per game, and they were shooting 76.6 percent as a team. Last season, the Celtics attempted 25.5 free throws per game, making 74.6 percent of them.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG

1. Starting the game in a last-game-of-the-preseason effort: Looking sloppy and lackadaisical, the Celtics gave up 11 fast break points and scored none in the first quarter. That left them coming from behind … until an epic third quarter. Making up a 14-point deficit might be easy against the Nets, but it won’t be a cakewalk against the NBA’s upper echelon.

2. Giving up high-percentage shots on defense: The Celtics still allowed New Jersey to shoot 48 percent from the floor through three quarters — and that’s with the Nets shooting just 1-of-8 from beyond the arc. The C’s have plenty of bigs this year, so there’s no reason their interior defense shouldn’t be among the league’s best.

3. Do I really have to come up with three things that went wrong in a 20-point blowout during the last game of the preseason? OK, I guess the Celtics didn’t bring Gino out. What gives?

Read More: Celtics, NBA, Rajon Rondo, Shaquille O'Neal

Meet Tiny Gallon

10.20.10 at 8:07 pm ET
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The Celtics newest player wasted little time ingratiating himself into the Celtics locker room. After sweating through a pregame workout, Tiny Gallon started talking trash to anyone and everyone about his alma mater, the University of Oklahoma. No one was spared including Nate Robinson who tried to give the rookie an education about the University of Washington.

It was all in good fun, and despite being here for little more than 24 hours, Gallon has long-standing relationships with Kendrick Perkins and Avery Bradley. “I’€™ve been playing Avery since ninth grade,” Gallon said. “Avery’€™s been the same way. Me and him are real close, like brothers.”

Gallon, who is listed at 6-9, 290 pounds wasn’t in uniform Wednesday night when the Celtics closed their preseason slate against the Nets at the Garden, and he’s really not sure how things are going to go for him in Boston. He doesn’t have a realistic chance at landing a roster spot with the Celtics, but the team could take advantage of the new rules on D-League allocations by sending him to Maine, provided he signs a D-League contract.

The Celtics wouldn’t hold his rights, but if he does play for Maine it would be for Austin Ainge, Danny’s son. Danny Ainge said that the C’s liked Gallon during the pre-draft process and this is a chance to get a longer look at him.

“It’€™s just been a learning experience for me being around these vets,” Gallon said. “It’€™s been fun for me.”

Gallon was drafted by the Bucks in the second round, but didn’t stick with the team. He said he wasn’t surprised that they released him.

As for his game, Gallon said, “I’€™m a versatile big. I can shoot the ball, play inside. I really don’€™t label myself as having a position. I just play basketball. People say I’€™m a power forward or something like that. I just play basketball.”

Gallon’s number is 63 and he said that made him feel like an offensive tackle. He’d like to change it if he stick around, but that seems like a mighty big if right now.

Read More: Avery Bradley, Nate Robinson, Tiny Gallon,
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