|10.14.09 at 10:05 pm ET|
Earlier this week Celtics coach Doc Rivers was asked how many preseason games he’d like to have before the season started. “In a perfect world I’d get to five games, maybe six, tops,” he said. “That would be perfect. You do need games to see what other teams do against what you run and also to play in front of a crowd.”
The Celtics put their fifth preseason game in the books Wednesday night with a 106-90 win over the Raptors in Hartford, and aside from a tough shooting night for former UConn homeboy Ray Allen (1-for-7 from the floor) they look more than ready to start the season. It was one of the Celtics’ sharpest games offensively as they shot 46 percent from the floor and had six players score in double figures led by Paul Pierce’s 17 points. (Click here for a recap).
It’s been a very good preseason for the Celtics so far. Consider the two biggest question marks facing the C’s this October: Kevin Garnett’s health and the revamped bench. Both seem like they’ve been answered positively already.
Garnett was again spry, getting up for a couple of lobs and jumping out on the high pick and roll. While the bench, even without the services of Rasheed Wallace (ankle), turned in another solid effort. In the first half the second unit changed the energy level and extended the lead, two things that were in scant supply last season.
A couple of other observations:
Shelden Williams might have some game: The new big man’s job is simple. He has to be ready to play at all times, even if it doesn’t look like he will. If (and that’s a mighty big if) Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis and Wallace all stay healthy Williams could go weeks without seeing the court once the regular season begins. But if one of them goes down or gets into foul trouble Williams has to be ready to go.
So far this preseason he hasn’t shown much of an offensive game. Indeed, on his first touch Williams looked stiff and predictable working on Chris Bosh in the post and Bosh easily swatted away his shot. But Williams then rolled down the lane and tossed in a nifty little jump hook. He followed that up by hitting a pair of 15-foot baseline jumpers.
If the Celtics wind up looking for offense from Williams then there in trouble, but if he is able to provide something dependable–like that baseline jumper–then he will fill his role nicely.
The rotation starts to come into focus: In the first half Rivers went with Eddie House and Marquis Daniels in the backcourt along with the three frontline starters. In the second half Rivers went with House, Allen, Pierce, Davis and Perkins. In both sets, Pierce brought the ball up and initiated the offense.
It’s no secret that the Celtics want to hide House’s weaknesses as a ballhandler when he’s in the game, and also take advantage of his strength as a 3-point shooter. With Pierce and Daniels they have two forwards who can handle the chore.
Lester Hudson continues to make a case: It happens every preaseason. A rookie plays well in the exhibition games and gets everyone projecting great things about their future. It’s difficult to say what, if any, role Hudson will have with the Celtics this season. In fact, one can make the argument that if he does have a role they might be in some trouble.
But Hudson is showing in spurts that he might have the skills (and toughness) to make it as a reserve guard. Hudson needs to continue having a strong preseason because at 25 years of age he won’t have a lot more chances to show what he’s got, but it’s to his credit that he’s taken the third point guard job by the throat and played fearlessly.
The C’s and Raptors play again this Sunday at 3 p.m.
|10.14.09 at 10:03 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett has joined Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Chauncey Billups, Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady, and Josh Smith for adidas’ “It’s On Me for My Brotherhood” 2009-10 season campaign. Check out the new advertisement below and click here for more videos.
|10.14.09 at 9:41 pm ET|
On Friday the Celtics will kick off the 19th season of their Stay in School program. Kendrick Perkins and Marquis Daniels will host an assembly of honor students at the Mildred Avenue Middle School in Mattapan and encourage all students to take pride in their academic work.
The Celtics will visit Boston public middle schools throughout the season to motivate students and emphasize the importance of staying in school. Top students will be honored for academic success and perfect attendance at the end of each year. The Stay in School program, presented by Arbella Insurance, is a collaboration of efforts from the Celtics, New England Sports Museum, Northeastern University Center for the Study of Sport in Society, and Boston Public Schools.
|10.13.09 at 10:57 pm ET|
On Tuesday night, the Celtics overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat the Nets, 91-88, in Newark, N.J., during preseason action (recap here). With Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen getting the night off, the Cs were propelled by Rajon Rondo and the reserves.
- Rondo led the Cs with 18 points, 13 assists, and nine rebounds in 40 minutes. This is in contrast to Sunday’s game against the Nets when he posted eight points, three assists and two rebounds in 26 minutes.
- Rasheed Wallace (20 points, 9 rebounds, 25 minutes) was the Celtics‘ driving force in the first half. However, he rolled his right ankle in the third quarter and eventually left the game. Doc Rivers told the media he considers the injury to be mild.
- Eddie House demonstrated his tenacious intensity by fighting for loose balls, forcing jump balls and hitting clutch shots, including a go-ahead jumper with 34 seconds left. He finished the night with 14 points.
- Glen Davis continued to knock down his mid-range jumper en route to 18 points. The Celtics were a game-high plus-12 with Davis on the court.
- J.R. Giddens, whose talent only had been showcased in the D-League, played his best NBA game. He grabbed 13 rebounds and scored seven points.
- Marquis Daniels started the game but left after 15 minutes with a stomach bug.
The Celtics will travel to Hartford to take on the Raptors on Wednesday night.
|10.12.09 at 11:08 pm ET|
‘I still feel in my early 20s,’ he told WEEI.com after a recent practice. ‘I feel like I’m back in Kansas.’
Pierce turns 32 on Tuesday, and a new lifestyle has him energized as he enters his 12th NBA season. Last month he was one of several Celtics who showed up to media day with a noticeably slimmer frame. While Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis admitted to dropping up to 15 and 30 pounds respectively, Pierce (who is listed at 235 pounds) isn’t paying attention to the scale.
‘I maybe lost two pounds, I don’t know,’ he said. As for losing body fat, ‘Probably so, I haven’t measured it, but most likely I have.’
Pierce isn’t counting the pounds because it’s how his body feels, not what the scale reads, that matters more to him. And even though he feels young, he understands the reality of being a professional athlete in his 30s. Pierce made a commitment to improve his overall health and kick the habits that could eventually catch up to him.
‘I just think it’s more important because the body is aging, it’s getting older,’ he said. ‘You’re not as quick as you used to be and your body has to adjust with the times. I mean, what I used to do when I was younger are some of the things I can’t do now. I’m stressing more rest, I didn’t sleep as much when I was younger, so a lot of things change. It’s easier to gain weight the older you get so that’s why I decided to change a lot of my habits.’
The change in his physique has more to do with the changes he endorses through his healthy living initiatives rather than a regimented weight loss program.
‘I think it has more to do with my eating habits,’ he said. ‘Ever since I changed everything I’m doing as far as my foundation with The Truth on Health and FitClub34, I’ve got to practice what I preach. I’ve pretty much benefited from the things I’m doing of that nature.’
He added: ‘I’ve just changed up my eating habits as far as eating a lot of fish, chicken, vegetables, not as much red meat ‘ almost no red meat ‘ no sodas, not a lot of juice. I drink a lot of water and Gatorade and Powerade.’
Ray Allen, a stickler for healthy living, already has noticed the changes in Pierce. Allen was 32 when he was traded to the Celtics in 2008, a time when he says he began to get in his best shape by eating better and getting more sleep. He understands firsthand the importance of Pierce taking care of his body at this pivotal stage in his career.
‘Just yesterday in the weight room I told him he was starting to look skinny,’ Allen said. ‘You know, Paul has always had like a heavy look, a heavy body. Now you see in his legs he’s slimming down, his upper body is slimming down. I think it’s the natural evolution when you get into your 30s and your metabolism starts to slow down and you start thinking about eating better, getting more sleep, and then your body starts to show it. And then as for us, this schedule is so demanding you really have no choice, your body will tell you you need more rest.’
Pierce has learned to listen to his body, and because of this he can celebrate his 32nd birthday feeling like he’s in his 20s.
|10.12.09 at 5:17 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The dunk happened sometime today between 1 and 2:30 p.m. when the Celtics had their practice closed off to the media, but it did happen.
Doc Rivers worked the Celtics hard Monday, one day after a preseason game with the Nets, and one day before a back-to-back set with New Jersey and then Toronto in Hartford. During the session, Kevin Garnett went up for a lob and brought it home.
“Kevin was great,” Rivers said. “I don’t think he came out today. He’s getting stronger and stronger. The only thing left, today, he caught a lob and dunked it. It was an amazing dunk and everyone was like, ‘Whoa, we haven’t seen that.’ He’s not as explosive yet, but it will come. You can see it. When he did it he yelled out, ‘Oh I can do it.’ That was good to see.”
“I think Doc wants me to grow wings and fly,” Garnett said. “I tell him just to be patient. The wings are coming.”
The wings, and everything else, are coming into focus for the Celtics as they reach roughly the midway point of training camp. The starting five is back and healthy and the reserves have shown enough in the preseason games that the bench seems far more settled than it has in the past.
Still, there remains work to be done incorporating the new players ‘ Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels particularly ‘ into the offensive and defensive systems as well as learning the little things about each other that only come with time and reps.
“Even though everyone has a high IQ when it comes to basketball, we still have chemistry [things to work on],” Garnett said. “Where ‘Sheed likes to have the ball, where Marquis likes isolation and everybody understanding everybody’s game. It’s not a big thing, but it’s something that you have to give a certain amount of attention to. The new guys have to learn our schemes and understand terminology.”
There’s no question the Celtics are feeling good about where they are with the season-opener at Cleveland looming in a little more than two weeks. A big part of that is fact that the players came into camp in basketball shape.
“Every guy on our team has come to camp in better shape than they were last year,” Rivers said. “Eddie [House] came to camp in phenomenal shape. Kevin, conditioning-wise, is probably not where he was last year because he spent half the summer not being able to work out. But everyone else: Paul [Pierce] is in great shape, [Glen Davis] is in great shape. A lot of that is that we lost and no one likes that feeling. You want to do something about it.”
NOTES: Part of the reason that Rivers worked the team so extensively Monday is that he plans to rest the veterans in at least one of the next two games. Look for the coach to use that time to begin working on some rotation patterns. Rivers said that he is set on the first four off the bench ‘ House, Daniels, Wallace and Davis ‘ and then the rest will sort itself out depending on matchups.
Pierce turns 32 Tuesday (look for a story by colleague Jess Camerato that day) and while the captain was not in a mood to reminisce, Garnett offered his thoughts on his teammate. “Paul makes things easier,” Garnett said. “I’m not going to lie about that. He not only makes things easier, but simpler. Offensively, things get simplified, plus a lot of things he and I don’t need to talk. We have a bond and a chemistry that’s unspoken.”
Pierce on rookie Lester Hudson, who is three months older than six-year veteran Kendrick Perkins: “He’s a 25-year-old rookie. How many of those do you have? He plays mature. He came in and he understands the game a little better than your average 19- or 20-year-old rookie. That’s good.”
|10.12.09 at 12:26 am ET|
With seconds left in regulation between Wallace’s favorite team, the Kansas City Chiefs, and Perkins’ hometown club, the Chiefs scored a touchdown to force overtime. It was enough to send Perkins back into the trainer’s room while Wallace gloated in the last-second comeback.
‘Everybody has their own teams and they’re rooting for their hometown,’ said Michael Sweetney while he watched the game from his locker. ‘Especially with ‘Sheed with Kansas City, Perk with Dallas, Paul [Pierce] likes the Patriots, and I’m from D.C. so I’ve got the [Washington] Redskins, we all just get around and talk trash. It brings us together. We have a good time.’
For the Celtics, following football is another experience to strengthen their team chemistry. Many of the players, including Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels, played in high school. Their passion for the sport now brings them together in the pros.
‘We’re all football fans,’ said Davis, a New Orleans Saints follower. ‘Football’s an American sport. Every guy likes football, we like to talk about football, and everybody talks about athletes.’
According to Daniels, this game is a common thread among many NBA players. The Orlando native, who is a fan of any Florida football team, recalls friendly rivalries among teammates when he played for the Mavericks and Pacers. In many cases a lost prediction would result in having to wear the opposition’s jersey.
Sweetney, however, has never played for a team where Sundays are so significant.
‘This is my first team being around something like this, just the camaraderie, everything,’ he said. ‘It’s just something special right now. Like I told you before ‘ and I’m not bad mouthing other teams ‘ the two teams I’ve been on [Bulls and Knicks], we’ve never done this. Guys enjoy each other, not just on the floor.’
In that moment, Wallace enjoyed himself as he continued his celebration. Even though his initial outburst was directed at Perkins, Sweetney was not exempt from the cheers. As Sweetney explained, Wallace is a ‘true diehard fan’ who would stick by the Chiefs even if they only won one game this season.
‘Yeah, Sweet, say something now, Sweet!’ Wallace jokingly yelled out.
‘I was talking trash to him all week,’ Sweetney admitted, ‘and we lost today.’