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Kevin Garnett’s strong debut

10.07.09 at 11:39 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett’s highly anticipated return to live game action was sharp, efficient and uneventful. The first two adjectives are nice, but the last is the most important for the Celtics as they began pursuit of another NBA championship in a 96-90 loss to the Rockets in their 2009 preseason opener in Hidalgo, Texas, Wednesday night. (Click here for a game recap).

On the Celtics’ first possession, Garnett popped out and drained 20-foot jump shot. A few possessions later Garnett again played pick-and-pop and knocked down another. The jumpers were a pleasant reminder of the Garnett we all remember, as were the six points, five rebounds and two steals, but what was most telling in Garnett’s 14 minutes (8 in the first half, 6 in the second) was that he was mobile getting up and down the floor and active on defense in his first game since March 25.

The only blemish was when he couldn’t get up quickly enough on a Rajon Rondo lob, but that’s partly timing as well. Garnett’s second half was mostly nondescript, although he did work in a post-up on the left block where he showed his usual deft footwork.

The Celtics are still 20 days from the actual season-opener, Oct. 27 in Cleveland, and there’s a lot of training camp left for Garnett and his surgically repaired knee to grind through, but Wednesday night in the Texas border town was a positive first step.

A few other quick observations from the Celtics opener:

THE REPLACEMENT REFS ARE A PROBLEM

It’s hard to find a lot of sympathy for NBA refs at any point in time, but count on a growing sentiment to emerge among the players and coaches as the preseason continues. The game was too fast for the refs at times and there was an awful lot of hand-checking that went uncalled.

And yet there were still 102 free throws, which even for a preseason game is way too many. NBA players are adept at adjusting their games to the refs, but what they want more than anything is consistency, which was in short supply. There were some funky calls, including a travel on Ray Allen for a move he’s been making since before he played Jesus Shuttlesworth in “He Got Game.”

The easiest prediction of the night was the technical foul on Rasheed Wallace after what he thought was a clean block.

THE SECOND UNIT SHOULD BE MUCH BETTER THIS YEAR

Beyond Garnett, the most impressive player on the floor for the Celtics Wednesday was Marquis Daniels, who finished with seven points, three rebounds and a team-high five assists. Whether or not he can actually be the backup point guard is still an open question, but after watching the opener it may not even be the right question.

Daniels split time at the spot with Eddie House and rookie Lester Hudson, but with Daniels and Wallace on the floor the Celtics are incredibly versatile, which helps negate the need for a creator type of point guard. Daniels looks like he can be the long sought-after replacement for James Posey defensively, but it’s Wallace who is the long sought-after replacement for Posey offensively with his ability to stretch the floor.

The biggest mark against Daniels’ game is that he is not a particularly good long-range shooter, but he is a terrific slasher, and with House and Wallace stretching the perimeter there should be ample room for Daniels to operate.

The second unit looks to be a combination of House, Daniels, Wallace, Brian Scalabrine and Glen Davis, and you’ll notice that all five can play more than one position, which allows the Celtics to mix and match “positions” depending on the matchups.

PATIENCE REQUIRED FOR RONDO’S IMPROVED JUMPER

It’s a positive development for the Celtics that Rondo spent part of his summer working with former NBA sharpshooter Mark Price. That’s exactly the kind of extra effort the Celtics have been looking for from the mercurial guard.

Rondo’s work with Price focused on correcting a mechanical flaw, and that will take some time for him to work through. He wasn’t particularly effective, going 1-for-4 from the floor and only 5-for-8 from the free throw line, but in just 17 minutes of action he didn’t get much of a chance to show it off, either.

This obviously is a big October for Rondo as he eyes an extension. The deadline is Oct. 31 to get something done, and while it’s not like he’ll make any more or less bank based on his preseason shooting numbers, the extra work will go a long way toward validating a long-term commitment.

Read More: Celtics, Kevin Garnett, preseason,

Returning Celtics hit the court in preseason opener

10.07.09 at 11:37 pm ET
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On Wednesday night, all eyes were on Kevin Garnett as he returned to the court for the first time in more than six months during the Celticspreseason opener against the Rockets in Hidalgo, Texas. Although Garnett’s playing time was limited, his knee injury looked out of mind when he drained the first shot of the game.

But Garnett was not the only player who returned to the Celtics looking to improve upon last season. Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis lost weight, Rajon Rondo bulked up, and Ray Allen claims to be in the best shape of his career. See how the members of the 2008-09 team fared as they began the 2009-10 season.

Kevin Garnett
Last game: March 25 vs. Orlando Magic
17 minutes, 4 points (2-5 FG), 8 rebounds, 1 assist
Preseason opener: 13 minutes, 6 points (2-6 FG), 5 rebounds, 1 assist

Paul Pierce
Last game: May 17 vs. Orlando Magic
39 minutes, 16 points (4-13 FG), 7-10 FT, 2 rebounds, 3 assists
Preseason opener: 16 minutes, 8 points (2-6 FG), 4-4 FT, 1 rebound, 0 assist

Ray Allen
Last game: May 17 vs. Orlando Magic
41 minutes, 23 points (9-18 FG), 3-6 3PG, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Preseason opener: 17 minutes, 8 points (3-6 FG), 0-2 3PG, 2 rebounds, 1 assist

Rajon Rondo
Last game: May 17 vs. Orlando Magic
37 minutes, 10 points (4-10 FG), 2-2 FT, 6 rebounds, 10 assists
Preseason opener: 17 minutes, 7 points (1-4 FG), 5-8 FT, 1 rebound, 3 assists

Kendrick Perkins
Last game: May 17 vs. Orlando Magic
39 minutes, 8 points (3-11 FG), 15 rebounds, 2 blocks
Preseason opener: 14 minutes, 3 points (1-2 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 blocks

Glen Davis
Last game: May 17 vs. Orlando Magic
31 minutes, 13 points (4-7 FG), 4 rebounds
Preseason opener: 23 minutes, 9 points (3-6 FG), 4 rebounds

Eddie House
Last game: May 17 vs. Orlando Magic
17 minutes, 2 points (1-3 FG), 0-1 3PG, 0 assists
Preseason opener: 21 minutes, 9 points (3-6 FG), 1-2 3PG, 0 assists

Brian Scalabrine
Last game: May 17 vs. Orlando Magic
13 minutes, 2 points (1-5 FG), 1 rebound, 2 assists
Preaseason opener: 18 minutes, 4 points (1-2 FG), 2 rebounds, 0 assists

J.R. Giddens
Last game: March 6 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
1 minute, 0 points (0-0 FG), 1 rebound, 1 steal
Preseason opener: 13 minutes, 1 point (0-1 FG), 1 rebound, 0 steals

Tony Allen (ankle) did not play against the Rockets. Visit WEEI.com’s Green Street for live coverage from the TD Garden on Friday night as the Celtics take on the Knicks in their preseason home-opener.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brian Scalabrine, eddie house, Glen Davis

NBA GMs Pick Celtics as Best Defensive Team

10.07.09 at 11:29 am ET
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A survey of NBA General Managers on NBA.com revealed the more than 60 percent of the execs believe the Los Angeles Lakers will win it all again this season. That doesn’t mean, though, the Boston Celtics were not recognized.

The Cs were predicted to win the Eastern Conference, earning 50 percent of the votes. They also received 100 percent of votes to win the Atlantic Division.

Which team will win the Eastern Conference?
Boston Celtics     50.0%
Cleveland Cavaliers     42.9%
Orlando Magic     7.1%

Over 60 percent of GMs selected the Celtics as the best defensive team in the 2009-10 season. Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo each received votes for individual defensive categories. Rondo tied Kobe Bryant with the most votes for best ball-on-ball defender.

Best defensive team:
Boston     60.7%
San Antonio     32.1%
L.A. Lakers     7.1%

Best defensive player:
Dwight Howard, Orlando     46.4%
Kevin Garnett, Boston     17.9%
Ron Artest, L.A. Lakers 17.9%

Best on-the-ball defender:
Rajon Rondo, Boston     25.0%
Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers     25.0%
Ron Artest, L.A. Lakers     17.9%

Best interior defender:
Dwight Howard, Orlando     64.3%
Kevin Garnett, Boston     32.1%

Best perimeter defender:
Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers     34.5%
Shane Battier, Houston     24.1%
Ron Artest, L.A. Lakers     20.7%
Rajon Rondo, Boston     6.9%

On an individual basis, Garnett received the second-most votes (20.7%) for best power forward behind Tim Duncan. Ray Allen also received votes for best shooting guard.

Click here for complete results on NBA.com. General Managers were not allowed to vote for their own team.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen

Rivers: “I think Rajon Rondo will be a lifetime Celtic”

10.06.09 at 11:25 pm ET
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The Boston Celtics have until the end of the month to decide whether to extend Rajon Rondo‘s contract or let the point guard become a restricted free agent next summer. Doc Rivers, however, has a strong feeling Rondo will be back … for a while.

On Tuesday he told WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Show:

“I think Rajon Rondo will be a lifetime Celtic. I really do. I think this process he’€™s gone through is the process all players go through at times. The maturity process is another thing that all players go through. I don’€™t think he’€™s behind in that department at all. I just think he’€™s young and he’€™s growing. So, I never had a black mark against him. For maturity issues, that’€™s part of his process of growing up, and he’€™s doing that. He’€™s been as good as anyone. In camp thus far he’€™s doing everything we ask him to do ‘€” and he usually does. I would be very surprised if he’€™s not a lifetime Celtic.”

Click here for a complete transcript of Rivers’ interview.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Rajon Rondo,

Doc Rivers on D&C, 10/6

10.06.09 at 11:38 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers appeared on Dennis & Callahan Tuesday morning to discuss the team’s preseason preparations as the C’s get set to play the Houston Rockets in Hidaglo, Texas, on Wednesday night.

Following is a complete transcript. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Do you worry about your guys … when you make a trip like that [to Hidalgo, Texas, on the Mexico border]?

I worry more about [Greg] Dickerson doing it than our players. I’m hoping he actually goes and we can steal his passport so he can’t come back.

No, you do worry about it. Guys like going over and having fun or whatever. We have great guys, and we’ll talk to them about it so you’re not that concerned. But you’d rather [they] not be there, let’s put it that way.

Give us several significant highlights to camp at this point. What are we missing here so far?

I think Rasheed [Wallace] and Marquis Daniels, they really have solidified our bench. It’s a veteran bench, very similar to two years ago. Rasheed’s ability to stretch the floor will be amazing when he plays with [Kendrick Perkins] or Kevin [Garnett], it doesn’t really matter which one he plays with, he still stretches the floor, he has the ability to take 5s out. And Marquis Daniels, he’s really good for our team. He’s a small forward, he plays 2 guard as well. From his position, he can handle the ball, and that frees up Eddie [House]. The old point forward ‘€” if you remember the Paul Pressey days in Milwaukee, where he handled the ball, and then Sidney Moncrief and Marques Johnson and those guys came off picks. Well, it will be very similar to us with the second team.

Is Rasheed going to be beloved here in Boston?

Yeah. The one thing we knew about Rasheed was the fact that his teammates that he’s played for loved him. He’s always been a great teammate. He’s one of the more verbal talkers on defense in the league ‘€” him and Kevin. And it’s amazing. During camp, I have a lot of college coaches come in and they watch camp. And that’s the one thing they keep saying is ‘€” well, there’s two things: “Boy, your bigs have a chance to be really good.” The second thing is, “I’ve never seen a team talk as much on defense, especially Rasheed, Perk and Kevin.” So, those are the things they’ll notice. But they’ll love him. I’m sure there will be a couple of nights where he’ll get into an exchange with someone else in stripes, and we’re going to have to deal with that. But that’s not going to be an issue, in my opinion.

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Read More: Big Baby, Bill Walker, Celtics, Doc Rivers

Garnett clarifies knee injury

10.04.09 at 11:05 pm ET
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A week into the Celtics Training Camp, Kevin Garnett cleared the air about his knee injury which had kept him off the court since last season.

“I don’t have any knee problems. I don’t have any knee problems,” the Boston Globe quoted Garnett saying on Saturday. “I’m not trying to get in depth with my injury and all that but the things are bothering me are secondary and not even primary. So I’m excited about that because it’s nothing be strengthening the knee and playing again. You gotta remember, I have been out since what, March? I haven’t done anything since then. I have just been rehabbing, strengthening. Nothing simulates basketball play. The pounding, the churning, the reactions, the stuff you have to react to in games you can’t get that in trying to that with the rehab and the trainers and all that other stuff.”

Garnett admitted last week during Media Day that he was still struggling with his energy level and is working toward reaching the condition he was in prior to his injury. That being said, he is still optimistic about his recovery.

“I feel really good,” he said. “I wouldn’t (BS) you guys if I was hurting, I would tell you. I’m pretty straight up with everything that’s going on with me. I feel good. I’m excited about how we are and I’m just trying to get my part together to make sure I’m ready for when we need to be like we need to be.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett,

NBA tells players to take a seat

10.02.09 at 2:31 pm ET
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For anyone who has had their view of the game blocked by a towering Kevin Garnett or a towel-waving Tony Allen, they won’€™t have to worry about that again this season.

Mixed in with the news of the NBA’€™s social media guidelines was a new policy on sideline behavior. According to a memo obtained by ESPN.com, the league is restricting players from standing on while they are on the bench. This comes in response to complaints received last season.

Marc Stein reported, ‘€œStarting this season, league rules dictate that players will be required to remain seated on the bench while the ball is live except to ‘€˜spontaneously react to a notable play [and] immediately sitting down on the bench afterward’€™ or ‘€˜to approach the scorer’s table to report into the game.’€™ The memo states that ‘€˜players will not be permitted to stand [in front of] the bench at any other time while the ball is in play, including standing for the last minute of a game or standing until the team scores its first point in game.’€™’€

According to the memo, teams may be fined for not following the rule.

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA,
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