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Camp Report: Doc Rivers won’t alternate centers in Celtics’ starting lineup

10.05.10 at 3:26 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Speaking after the Celtics‘ practice Tuesday, Doc Rivers said that he doesn’t plan on rotating Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal in the starting lineup depending on match-ups, instead going with one consistent starter until Kendrick Perkins returns from his knee injury.

“I doubt it. I don’t usually do that,” said Rivers when asked if he was going to alternate between two big men. “I usually just go with one, and that’s what we’ll do. I’m going to wait until the end of camp and the best big wins.”

Regarding if he feels it makes a big difference which of the two get the starting nod, Rivers said, “It doesn’t. I think it’s going to come down to who we feel is going to give us the best chance to get off to a good start.” The Celtics’ coach also noted that he doesn’t expect to play both Jermaine and Shaquille on the floor at the same time.

Jermaine is still out with a left hamstring injury, and won’t play in the Celtics’ preseason opener at the Verizon Center in Manchester, N.H. Wednesday night. Shaquille, on the other hand, will get some playing time, along with the other healthy Celts, including Delonte West, who had been battling a sore back. “If guys have anything, they’re not playing.

“I think Shaq is in phenomenal shape,” Rivers added. Asked if he had lost weight the coach said jokingly, “I have no idea. I’ll tell you who would know, the other bigs. Ask them.”

GO HARD OR GO HOME: The Celtics will conduct what Rivers classified as “hard” practice prior to heading up to Manchester Wednesday afternoon. “We’ll practice hard tomorrow, go right to the bus, and then to the arena,” the coach said. “Some of the guys are going to be tired.” Rivers said he uses the first couple of preseason games to “tell you what you should be looking at.”

“We’re just going to go hard, and if somebody falls, they’re going to fall,” Rivers also said in regard to balancing getting ready for the season and not incurring any more injuries. “They’re playing hard, they’re playing really well. We do need to see somebody else, I’ll tell you that. And we need to see the NBA officials. Other than that, I’m happy so far where we’re at.”

SEMIH-EXCITED: Rivers has been impressed with the play of Semih Erden’s play thus far, saying of the 24-year-old, 7-foot-1 center, “We’re going to need Semih, and I keep saying that. I don’t know when, but he’ll be the axe in the glass: In case you need you have to break it. That may happen a lot, and I think it will happen a lot. Semih knows how to play basketball. He doesn’t know our stuff yet, but that will come.”

When asked about Erden’s play, Shaquille’s initial response was, “Semih Crawford? Yes, she’s gorgeous.” The center then went on to praise his rookie counterpart.”

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: The biggest piece of the puzzle that the Celtics seem intent on working on in the coming days is their overall timing.

“It’s getting there. I’ve been on teams where you get it right away, and I’ve been on teams where you get it at the right time. We have to have everybody master in March and April ‘€¦ I’m not really concerned about being a perfect team right now,” Shaq said. “All the guys are unselfish. All the guys play hard. All the guys play smart. So we’re going to have our ups and downs, but that’s only going to make us stronger.”

When it was pointed out that he managed to make a few free throws down the stretch in the Celtics’ intra-squad scrimamge, O’Neal looked down at the reporter who asked if he was excited over making the buckets and said, “I don’t get pumped. I get pumped in June. I can’t wait to stick your face in some clam chowder.”

GETTING A VISIT: Attending practice was former Atlanta head coach Mike Woodson, Westford’s Jim Todd, who had been an assistant with Woodson with the Hawks, and Mike Jarvis.

Celtics: Irish Coffee

10.05.10 at 9:40 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Members of the Knicks, Lakers and Timberwolves were among the Americans warned yesterday of potential terrorist plots at sports arenas, according to the New York Daily News. The teams would reportedly return to the United States immediately if the terror alert increased.

“This is real,” a fomer senior U.S. counterterrorism official told the paper.

Man, after watching Jean Claude Van Damme in Sudden Death as a kid, I used to wonder if I’d enjoy teams like the Knicks and Lakers being involved in a terrorist plot, but this is scary stuff. In all honesty, let’s hope these teams make it home safe.

NBA Europe

While the Lakers were busy losing to the Timberwolves overseas, NBA commissioner David Stern spoke to the  British media about the sport’s future in Europe. His hope is that the upcoming 2012 London Olympics will spark basketball’s popularity in the United Kingdom. You know, because John Amaechi‘s 6.2 points per game didn’t quite capture the nation’s hearts during his five-year NBA career.

“It’s no secret that the UK trails other European markets in development, but we think this is a great market and participation rates are increasing,” Stern said. “That’s why we have our European headquarters in London, and we think the Olympics provides a huge opportunity to demonstrate that this is a sport of great inclusiveness.”

Admitting it’s certainly not in the near future, Stern was receptive to the idea of having not only one but an entire European division of NBA teams. “As our game gets better known post-Olympics, maybe that will come into view,” he said, “but it’s nothing soon.”

The NBA will gain further exposure when the Raptors and Nets meet for two games in London in March. I’m not sure a Raptors/Nets series will be the exposure Stern is looking for, but still …

Rondo: “It’s still the Big 3”

Rajon Rondo sat down with ESPN.com to promote today’s release of NBA 2K11. We learned that he’s gathered more about the history of his league from playing the video game than watching actual NBA games as a kid; Nate Robinson, Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis are actually video game geeks; and Rondo wants a 99 rating (the highest in the game). Yet, when Rondo discussed his real team, he was much more modest:

“It’s still the Big Three,” he told ESPN.com. “Shaq is four. Shaq is an enforcer. I know that from experience. He knocks guards like myself down, but he can’t hit me no more, so I’m excited about that. I’m just one of the guys. I’m not saying I’m not important, but this is a team game. The Big Three still get a lot of attention, and I’m just really excited to start the season with them and be a part of this team.”

C’s a safe bet

Gambling lines are already coming out for the C’s opening night game against the Heat on Oct. 26, and according to the oddsmakers, these teams are pretty even. PinnacleSports.com has the Celtics +1 home underdogs.

The MGM Mirage in Las Vegas reportedly listed the Celtics at 5-1 odds to win the NBA title. The Heat were 3-2, the Lakers 9-5, Bulls 6-1 and Magic 10-1. But on the Sportsbook.com website, the Celtics are 10-1 to win the NBA title this season, tied with the Orlando Magic behind the Lakers (5-2) and Heat (8-5).

If gambling were legal in the United States, that 10-1 C’s bet would be a solid value.

Hazed and confused

According to NBCSports.com, rookie hazing has begun in the NBA. The Sixers sent Evan Turner to buy Chick-fil-A for the entire team, while Pacers rookies Lance Stephenson and Paul George have been caught wearing pink Disney backpacks.

What do you think the Celtics should do to Avery Bradley, Luke Harangody and Semih Erden? I think they should make them wear the C’s uber-short ’80s shorts during the preseason. Maybe dance like fools in Halloween costumes? Oh, wait, KG, Robinson and Big Baby did that already.

Read More: Avery Bradley, David Stern, Luke Harangody, Rajon Rondo

Camp report: Fighting through the injuries

10.04.10 at 4:09 pm ET
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As always with the Celtics, injuries and their effects will be a constant theme this season. It’s fitting then that only a week into camp, the team is already dealing with a couple of minor ailments.

Jermaine O’Neal injured his left hamstring at the end of Friday’s practice and will likely be held out for the rest of the week. Delonte West left practice Monday after suffering back spasms. Doc Rivers is a little more optimistic on West, saying that West could be day to day. One thing is certain: the Celtics are playing it safe.

“We cannot take a chance with that,” Rivers said.

The injuries, however minor, do allow for Rivers to begin tinkering with lineups. When practice opened to the media, Shaquille O’Neal was with the first team and Von Wafer and Semih Erden were working with the second unit.

“When you look at Shaq and Jermaine and think that they’€™re going to play 82 games healthy, that would be nice, but we have to be ready for them to miss a couple of games,” Rivers said. “That’€™s why like Luke [Harangody] and Semih are so important. They’€™re going to have to play.”

Jermaine O’Neal’s hamstring injury, which he does not believe is serious, comes at a difficult time because he was just getting comfortable with the new system.

“I’€™m not really concerned about it,” O’Neal said. “It’€™s the timing, being here with the guys getting that chemistry. I was just starting to get comfortable with the philosophies, what Doc wanted. That’€™s the most frustrating part about it. But I don’€™t have any doubt in my mind that I’€™ll be back fairly soon. There’€™s no substitution for it. You can study and look all you want. I felt like Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I was really starting to get comfortable and everything was starting to slow down.”

Rivers termed O’Neal’s play “up and down,” through the first part of camp, which is understandable since he’s just beginning to process all the changes. “When you’€™re playing with a new team, you’€™re not playing, you’€™re thinking,” Rivers said. “But other than that I love what he was doing. He’€™s starting to make shots from the outside.”

The Celtics open their exhibition schedule Wednesday in Manchester, New Hampshire against the Sixers. O’Neal is almost certainly out for that game, while West is day to day.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Delonte West, Jermaine O'Neal, Paul Pierce, Shaquille O'Neal

Tony Gaffney on the move

10.04.10 at 10:26 am ET
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The Celtics officially announced the release of Tony Gaffney Monday morning and it appears the UMass product is headed to Turkey.

Gaffney, like a number of young players, is trying to crave out a role in the NBA. His strengths–defense and rebounding– would be welcome additions to most teams, but while the Celtics certainly value those traits they are also loaded at his position where he was already behind Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis.

The C’s feel like they need shooting and that has left Von Wafer with a fighting chance at the last roster spot. Wafer is getting pushed by Mario West, a defensive specialist who walked on at Georgia Tech and survived three seasons with the Hawks. West has played 156 career games and scored 132 points, so scoring is definitely not his thing.

But West can guard small forwards and that is a greater source of need for the Celtics than what Gaffney was able to provide.

Read More: Mario West, Tony Gaffney, Von Wafer,

Celtics: Irish Coffee

10.04.10 at 10:23 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

In an appearance at the London School of Basketball over the weekend, Kobe Bryant claimed he could beat LeBron James 1-0n-1 in his sleep.

“I’d win, I’d win” Bryant said. “That’s what I do. One on one is … that’s easy for me, you know. Playing one on one is how I grew up playing, it’s like my thing. LeBron is more like a Magic Johnson, he’s a great passer and plays an all-around game. At the core of me, I’m a one-on-one player. I’d do that in my sleep.”

That’s a bold statement, but I tend to agree. He’s arrogant, but his breakdown is pretty much spot on. So, what do you think? Could any current Celtics beat Kobe 1-on-1? I think Ray Allen could beat him in HORSE.

Why Boston hates L.A.

This is the most ridiculous story I’ve ever heard. So, the L.A. Times is doing a weekly series on its Lakers Blog community. Each writer explains a little about himself, including how he became a Lakers fan. Well, this guy claims he was a longtime Celtics fan who became a loyal Lakers fan. I say that’s impossible.

“I liked winners, and they won every year–like the Yankees,” wrote Paul Hefti. “Following the Celtics, Yankees and Bruins seemed a natural thing to do. … I had moved to L.A. and the Lakers really got a hold of me. They were so clean, pretty, sunshiny–all things L.A.–and I was hooked. Getting beaten by the Celtics really started to kill me–my Boston family never forgave me.”

Is that the most ridiculous paragraph ever written in sports journalism history? No wonder Boston fans hate L.A. No true Celtics fan would ever become a Lakers fan. EVER. Anyone who roots for the Lakers and Yankees is called a fair-weather fan. Not a fan. And that’s the end of that.

Celtics idol?

Interested in singing the national anthem at a Celtics home game this season? Show up at the Hard Rock Café between noon and 5 p.m. today to audition in front of former New Edition member Michael Bivins, one-time American Idol contestant Ayla Brown and JAMN 94.5 personality Melissa. More info here. Try not to pull a Roseanne Barr or a Carl Lewis while attempting “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Celtics SCVNGR hunt

Foursquare competitor SCVNGR teamed with the Celtics to allow users to compete for a pair of season tickets. C’s fans with Android or iPhones can use SCVNGR to hunt around Boston, completing tasks at locations tied to the team. The fan with the most points by Oct. 22 wins a pair of season tix.

I’m not sure they thought of these, but I’d include: rub Bill Russell‘s beard, find the old Scotch ‘n Sirloin and imitate this kid’s dance moves step for step on a stairwell in Boston.

Read More: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, SCVNGR,

Shaq gossip all over the Radar

10.02.10 at 4:09 pm ET
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Don’t shoot the messenger on this one, but I thought this story from RadarOnline.com was weird when I read that Shaquille O’Neal‘s ex-wife Shaunie reportedly offered Shaq’s alleged mistress, Vanessa Lopez, an “incentive” to go public with an affair in order to nullify the terms of their pre-nup. But that’s the least bizarre aspect of the story.

Twist No. 1: According to RadarOnline.com, Shawn Darling, who used to work for Shaq, accused his former boss of hacking into his computer, destroying evidence and planting child pornography. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the old blame the cat for your disgusting kiddie porn trick that some guy tried a few months back. And, somehow, I don’t picture Shaq as the computer hacking type. Or should I say computer shaq-ing type (that was bad, I know).

Twist No. 2: Now, RadarOnline.com reports that Shaq allegedly hired Justin Zormelo to harass Lopez. Zormelo denies this claim in an e-mail to the website: “The allegations are completely untrue. I have never spoken to that woman, nor threatened her.”

I have no idea what to make of all this. Lawsuits are flying everywhere. Messy stuff. Whether the info is true or not, it obviously creates an unwanted distraction for Shaq.

Read More: Justin Zormelo, Shaquille O'Neal, Shawn Darling, Vanessa Lopez

Bye bye Tony Gaffney

10.02.10 at 3:57 pm ET
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Citing a numbers game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced Saturday that the team had waived rookie forward Tony Gaffney from the team on Saturday. The move brings the current roster to 17.

Gaffney, who played as a standout at UMass, was the final cut of the Lakers before last season, before signing on with a team in Israel. He injured his ankle in his first game overseas and returned to the States to rehab. Gaffney and Oliver Lafayette on April 14 to get an extended look at both over the summer.

The 25-year-old Gaffney, a native of Berkley, Mass., was a Celtics fan before becoming a standout at Somerset High School.

And as a senior at UMass, he was Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year in a season, averaging 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.8 blocks.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Oliver Lafayette, Tony Gaffney,
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