|10.20.10 at 11:51 pm ET|
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.
‘We 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.
‘You 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.”
|10.20.10 at 11:00 pm ET|
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.
‘It’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.”
|10.20.10 at 10:04 pm ET|
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?
|10.20.10 at 8:07 pm ET|
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.
|10.20.10 at 10:44 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
ESPN analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy piled on the anti-technical foul bandwagon in a conference call to promote the station’s NBA coverage this season. While most of what’s been said on the subject has been redundant over the last week — (a la Van Gundy: “More free throws is never the answer”) — Jackson made an interesting point that could benefit the Celtics:
‘If I was a guy like Reggie Miller I’d love the rule because it would add three or four points a night to my scoring total from technical fouls.’
Hmmm … I’m trying to think of a guy like Reggie Miller on the Celtics. Shaquille O’Neal? No. Rajon Rondo? Nope. Oh, I know: Ray Allen. Four current NBA players, including Allen, rank higher on the list of career free-throw percentage leaders than Miller (who is No. 9 at 88.8 percent): 2. Steve Nash (90.3 percent), 3. Peja Stojakovic (89.5), 4. Allen (89.4) and 6. Chauncey Billups (89.2).
Allen averaged 16.3 points per game for the Celtics last season, so an additional four points — which, for the NBA’s sake, better be an excessive estimate — would get him closer to his career average of 20.5 points a game.
The scariest name on that free-throw percentage list: Kevin Durant, whose 88.3 conversion rate ranks No. 11 all-time. Already an NBA MVP favorite, Durant’s 30.1 points per game led the league in scoring last year. An additional few points a game gets Durant that much closer to averaging 35 points. Only two players have done that since 1970: Michael Jordan (37.1 in 1986-87; 35.0 in 1987-88) and Kobe Bryant (35.4 in 2005-06).
NBA PRESEASON PREMONITION
The Sporting News produced the following NBA statistic: “Over the last nine preseasons, 17 teams have finished undefeated or with one loss. Of those 17 teams, 16 wound up in the playoffs. None went on to win a championship and only half survived to the second round, but the fact is, if you play well in October, there’s a good chance you’ll at least be playing in late April.”
Only four NBA teams currently have unbeaten or one-loss preseason records: the Celtics (6-1), Orlando Magic (6-0), Utah Jazz (7-0) and Memphis Grizzlies (7-0). I’m not sure this is good news for the Celtics, who need a monumental breakdown to miss the playoffs. Should they defeat the New Jersey Nets tonight, they would have to buck a recent trend to win the NBA title.
Along the same lines, 82games.com analyzed a five-year window to determine: Does the NBA preseason matter? Looking at records from 2001-02 to 2005-06, there was a corollary: successful preseason teams succeeded in the regular season; likewise, unsuccessful preseason teams failed in the regular season.
The most interesting statistic from the study: teams coming off less-than-30-win seasons that produced successful preseason teams gained an average of 19 wins the following season. The only team that fits that bill this season is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who finished 15-67 last season and are 5-2 this preseason.
MAGIC JOHNSON’S DISAPPEARING ACT?
What the heck is Magic Johnson up to? A day after selling his 4.5 ownership stake in the Los Angeles Lakers for an estimated $27 million, Magic reportedly sold his 105 Starbucks franchises for another $100 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Magic was rumored to have interest in the sales of the Detroit Pistons and Golden State Warriors, which have since been sold. Back in 2006, when the Seattle SuperSonics were sold for $350 million, five teams were supposedly available for the right price: the Portland Trail Blazers, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Magic and Grizzlies. None of those teams have been sold since.
Conspiracy Theory of the Day: Maybe Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are preparing to buy the Indiana Pacers. Bird did admit back in April that he’s fielded calls from people interested in buying the team. I’m pretty sure Magic has his number.
Just as long as Magic isn’t planning on investing in another edition of that godawful TV show, “The Magic Hour.”
The NBA banned its players from wearing Athletic Propulsion Labs’ $300 Concept 1 shoes. Apparently, the shoes are spring-loaded to increase vertical leap. According to the Associated Press story, 30 percent of NBA players had shown interest in the shoe produced by former USC walk-ons Adam and Ryan Goldston. Any chance the aging legs of Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal were among that 30 percent?
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|10.19.10 at 8:50 pm ET|
Ray Allen has always had a special way with words.
He knows exactly how to say something with a smile and deliver the right tone and most importantly – the right message.
His message following Tuesday night’s intrasquad “Green-White” scrimmage at TD Garden was: Everyone knows we’re a team. Everyone wants to find out if Miami is, too.
“I believe so because there’s never been an opening game that has been more heavily anticipated,” Allen said. “I do believe that people are definitely excited to see them more than they’re excited about about seeing us. Truly they know, as a team, what we represent. The two teams are Eastern Conference powerhouses. It’s going to be a game.”
“I think with the anticipation [after] our exiting the finals last year and then with the new additions to Miami, they overly hyped the game,” Kevin Garnett added. “Yeah, I can see this has a lot of episodes, a lot of drama, if you will. It will have a lot of soap opera feel to it. Days of Our Lives, Another World, Santa Barbara.
“My grandmother was a big, big soap opera fan so it was either go outside or sit in there with her so I know that schedule quite well.”
Allen played Tuesday for the Green squad, which captured a 38-31 victory in an enhanced practice before season ticket holders and VIPs. The Celtics conclude their preseason Wednesday night against New Jersey at the Garden before opening the NBA season next Tuesday against the Heat, also at TD Garden.
|10.19.10 at 8:15 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers underwent a biopsy Sunday morning at Massachusetts General Hospital after his doctor found a spot on his throat three weeks ago. The good news for the coach is that the results came back clean.
“They found cancerous lesions,” Rivers said after the team conducted an open practice for season ticket holders at TD Garden. “They had to make sure there was nothing there, and there was nothing, so I’m good. I’m going to be around for a while it looks like.”
Rivers said that he has his throat checked every year after prompting from former Celtics coach Jim O’Brien. “I think most coaches should because we yell, use our throat a lot,” Rivers said. “That makes you more susceptible to it. I’m glad I did it now.”
The Celtics had said that Rivers had a “minor throat procedure” done to relieve pressure on his vocal chords. He was not at practice Monday, but returned to the team Tuesday night. Assistant coach Lawrence Frank did most of the on-court coaching while Rivers watched from the sidelines.
“I like Lawrence as my megaphone,” Rivers joked.
Rivers is expected to coach the team Wednesday night when the Celtics play the Nets in their final preseason game at the Garden.
FINAL ROSTER MOVE COMING
Rivers said the team would probably make its final roster decision after Wednesday’s game. There is only one roster spot up for grabs and the competition is mostly between Von Wafer and Stephane Lasme. Veteran Mario West is also in the mix.
“It’s between a couple of guys,” Rivers said. “You can figure it out.”
On Wafer, Rivers said, “He’s been more aggressive offensively. He still has to buy in defensively, and into our culture. I think he’ll do that. He’s getting better.”
The Celtics also added Tiny Gallon, a second-round pick from Oklahoma who was recently waived by the Bucks to a non-guaranteed deal.
“I know nothing about him honestly,” Rivers said. “I know Danny [Ainge] is going to look at him. I think he’s doing it more for that.”
Delonte West said he is getting better, but he won’t play Wednesday night. West will not be eligible to play in a game until Nov. 17 against Washington after he serves his 10-game NBA suspension.
Jermaine O’Neal also won’t play. He did not participate in practice Tuesday and he is battling a number of injuries.”That’s rest, that’s injury, that’s disappointing, to be honest,” Rivers said. “He has not had the preseason that we would have liked him to have so far, sometimes you can’t avoid it.”
SHEED CHECKS IN
The Celtics got a visit from Rasheed Wallace who watched practice from the sidelines and chatted up Kendrick Perkins while Perkins rode a stationary bike. The crowd of season ticket holders and sponsors gave him a “Sheeeeed” call for old time’s sake.
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