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Anniversary of ‘Beat L.A.’

05.23.09 at 7:32 pm ET
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The chant that carried the Boston Celtics through last season’s NBA Finals originated 27 years ago today. On May 23, 1982 the Philadelphia 76ers were on the verge of eliminating the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Rather than cheer against the victors, the Garden crowd bellowed “Beat L.A.” as encouragement for the Sixers to defeat the Lakers in the championship round. The Lakers won the title in six games.

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Sixers aren’t deciding on Thibodeau just yet

05.22.09 at 1:02 pm ET
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Boston Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau interviewed for a head coaching position with the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, the Boston Globe reported. He is one of six candidates who have met with the organization.

On Friday, Sixers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski issued a statement saying,  “As such, due to the number of candidates still involved in the process, there is no timetable set for when this very important decision regarding the future direction of the franchise will be made.”

The 76ers will continue interviews and conduct further research and background checks on their prospects. Stefanski noted, “As I have said before, the qualities I am looking for in our next head coach include excellent communication and leadership skills, will stress the importance of accountability while also developing our players and will be a strong tactician.”

The Globe also reported the Sacramento Kings have been granted permission to interview Thibodeau.

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Cassell hired as Wizards assistant coach

05.21.09 at 9:11 pm ET
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Sam Cassell made his goal very clear when he signed with the Boston Celtics in 2008 — he wanted to coach. On Thursday, he accomplished that mission. Cassell was hired by the Washington Wizards to serve as an assistant coach to the newly appointed Flip Saunders. According to Michael Lee of the Washington Post, Cassell is already participating in pre-draft workouts.

“After 15 seasons playing in this league, I have accomplished all that I have dreamed of as a player,” Cassell said in a statement issued by the Wizards. “Now the time has come for to me to take my love for the game to the coaching ranks and pass on what I’ve learned. This team is loaded with talent, and it’s a great way for me to start my coaching career.”

Cassell will be part of a coaching staff that has close ties to Kevin Garnett. Cassell and Garnett were teammates in Boston and Minnesota; Saunders served as the Timberwolves head coach for ten seasons; and Wizards assistant coach Randy Wittman coached Garnett in Minnesota during the 2007 season.

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Ainge: Tony Allen was waiting in the wings

05.21.09 at 1:07 am ET
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This week Celtics head coach Doc Rivers revealed Ray Allen played in the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a hamstring injury. But the Celtics had a back up plan if another one of their stars was sidelined.

“Now if anything had happened to Ray, if Ray wasn’t able to go because of the hamstring injury, then Tony would have started and played,” Celtics president Danny Ainge told WEEI’s The Big Show.

Tony Allen has been waiting in the wings for an extended role his entire career. Like it has happened so many times before, his opportunity for playing time this season was cut short by injuries. Rather than replace the void left by James Posey, Allen suffered an ankle sprain, the flu, and torn ligaments in his thumb. He appeared in just 46 regular season games.

“Every time Tony had an opportunity to play significant minutes, he performed very well in that role over the last couple of years,” Ainge said of the five-year veteran. “In a more limited role, and I think Tony had expectations of playing a 20 to 25 minute a game role going into the season, and you know with the injuries, that just didn’t pan out that way.”

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Ainge: We never question KG

05.21.09 at 12:11 am ET
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Kevin Garnett held out hope. The Boston Celtics front office held out hope. Even though the probability of playing seemed unlikely, a chance is still a chance. And for that, Celtics president Danny Ainge has no regrets on leaving the possibility of Garnett’s return open.

“There was some question if KG would be able to play at some point in the playoffs, and we had hope. And we still had hope for that, and it just didn’t turn out that way. But one thing that we can’t do, and one thing that we don’t do internally, is never question Kevin Garnett,” he told WEEI’s The Big Show. “I mean, Kevin Garnett for 12 years has never given anybody any reason to think he would not play if he could. The guy just doesn’t miss games.

“But the reality of it is, is there was still hope. I think there was a bit of hope in Kevin’s mind, there was hope in our minds, there was hope in Doc’s mind even though we knew that the possibility, that the stronger possibility existed that he probably wouldn’t play, there was a little bit of hope that he might be able to at some point. So I think second-guessing doesn’t do any good. It didn’t turn out, he wasn’t able to play, and we don’t really think that we’ve set ourselves that far back.”

In retrospect, holding off surgery during the season may actually help Garnett’s recovery.

“We think the surgery now is fine. Anyway, Kevin’s gotten stronger, he’s been working extremely hard,” Ainge said. “And some people think the stronger your legs are when you get the surgery, the better prepared you are for your rehab anyways. So we’re not second-guessing any of that.”

Garnett is slated for surgery next week.

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Report: KG to have surgery next week

05.19.09 at 8:37 pm ET
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The Boston Globe has reported Celtics president Danny Ainge said Kevin Garnett will have surgery on his knee next week. According to the Globe, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck expects Garnett to return next season at full strength. The Celtics had not set a date for surgery during the playoffs, leaving a small window open for the possibility of his return. Garnett injured his knee in February.

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Rivers: “We have to improve our team”

05.19.09 at 11:54 am ET
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Last summer the biggest question was simple: Will the Celtics re-sign James Posey? This summer, more than a third of the team could be affected by free agency.

On Tuesday, Doc Rivers discussed the future of the Celtics bench WEEI’s “Dennis & Callahan.” With the exception of Glen Davis, who replaced Kevin Garnett in the starting lineup, all of the Celtics free agents are reserves.

“Just think this year if Kevin was healthy and Leon was healthy, that makes our bench 10 deep. … Those two guys being out really shortened our bench,” Rivers said. “But we have to improve our team. There’s no doubt about that. We don’t have to make any changes, but definitely have to make some additions.”

The Celtics will have to decide the futures of Davis, Leon Powe, Eddie House, Stephon Marbury, Mikki Moore, and Gabe Pruitt in the offseason. Davis (restricted) and Marbury (unrestricted) are poised to make the most money of the group. So who is more likely to return to Boston?

“Baby, it will probably come down to what he can get on the open market,” said Rivers. “With Steph, it will probably come down to what we can get on the open market.”

The ironic part is none of the Celtics free agents play the role the Celtics are most looking to fill. They still have not figured out how to account for the loss of Posey.

“Number one, the one spot no one talked about all year, was the small forward spot,” Rivers said. “We need a small forward who can defend, who can make shots and give Paul (Pierce) a blow. I thought Paul, all year, had to guard the best guys all game. Whenever we took him out, we went small.

“We put Ray Allen in at small forward, which is a tough matchup. You could see it in the Orlando series. You were almost scared to take Paul off the floor because when you did, Ray Allen was now guarding the Terkoglus or the Rashard Lewises of the world. They went straight to the post, just like every other team did.”

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