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Preview: Celtics vs. Pistons

01.20.10 at 10:27 am ET
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Kevin Garnett is close to coming back for the Celtics. He practiced Tuesday and might play Friday against the Blazers, although that seems a little optimistic considering how cautious everyone has been with his various leg injuries.

The question for Garnett and the Celtics is: Which KG will we see on the floor? The one at the beginning of the season was tentative and out of rhythm offensively. The KG we saw before the injury was one of the best shooting big men in the NBA and a strong rebounder. Even when he’s not at his best, Garnett remains an excellent passer and a terrific help-side defender, and the Celtics have been struggling with stagnant offense and sub-par defensive rotations.

It’s too much to ask Garnett for him to pick up right where we he left off, but he needs to be that player again at least by the All-Star break if the Celtics are going to have any time to get everything in place for the playoffs. Marquis Daniels is also tentatively scheduled to be back by that point and that would be the first time this season the Celtics would have their nine-man rotation fully upright and operational.

CELTICS (27-12, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 100.2

Points Allowed: 93.8

Differential: +6.4 (Second)

Offensive Efficiency: 108.7 (10th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.7 (Third)

Pace: 91.7 (21st)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Kevin Garnett (hyper-extended knee), Marquis Daniels (wrist)

PISTONS (14-26, 3-7 last 10)

Points Per Game: 92.2

Points Allowed: 97.1

Differential: -4.9 (27th)

Offensive Efficiency: 103.6 (24th)

Defensive Efficiency: 109.9 (21st)

Pace: 88.5 (29th)

Likely Starters: Rodney Stuckey, Rip Hamilton, Jonas Jerebko, Chris Wilcox, Ben Wallace

Injuries: Will Bynum (ankle), Ben Gordon (questionable, strained groin), Tayshaun Prince (questionable, knee) Read the rest of this entry »

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Inside the Game: Eddie House and the art of sharpshooting

01.20.10 at 12:22 am ET
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When the NBA announces the contestants of the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout in early February, Eddie House hopes to see his name on the lineup.

‘€œThe wind can’t stop me. The cold weather can’t stop me,’€ he proclaims in a promotional video in which he shovels snow off the court to shoot treys in a hat and winter coat.

Even when it’s cold out, House has the ability to get hot from long-range. Yet even though he has made his mark in Boston as a 3-point threat, he didn’t always spend most of his time behind the arc.

Seven years before he signed with the Celtics, House was a second-round pick of the Heat in 2000. He had played four years at Arizona State, where he left as the school’s all-time leading scorer (2,044 points) and tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most points scored in a Pac-10 game (61).

But by the time House (who is listed at 6-foot-1) squared off against NBA players, he quickly realized he couldn’t score at ease like he had on his way to the pros. And since he was coming off the bench, his coaches weren’t looking for him to score 30 points every night either.

So he began to adapt. House took his jumper and moved further and further away from the basket. As his role on the court changed, so did his game.

He honed in on his long-range shot, a decision early in his career that has paid long-term dividends in his career. House has spent the last three years as one of the Celtics’ offensive go-to guys off the bench and has proven himself to be reliable down the stretch. Last season he broke Danny Ainge’s single-season 3-point shooting percentage (44.4 percent). This season he is shooting 37.1 percent from behind the arc, second on the team only to Paul Pierce.

As part of WEEI.com’€™s ‘€œInside the Game’€ series with the Celtics, House explains that even though he may be known for his 3-point skills, it took more than just treys (think 1,000 shots a day in the offseason) to become a successful sharpshooter:

Knowing his role: House shot less than 35 percent from 3-point range during his first three NBA seasons. After perfecting his craft, he has ranked in the top 10 among all players in two seasons.
‘€œI think I probably developed [3-point shooting] more in the league more than anywhere else. Being in college and high school, you’re the guy who’s getting the most buckets and you’re like the man on the team, to where you come to the league and you have to become a role player. It was a role that because I was able to shoot the ball, that was the role that I was given so I had to start working on it. … Just repetition, practice, practice, practice, practice.”

Art appreciation: Hitting 3-pointers may look flashy during a game, but House always enjoys seeing more fundamental shots on the court.
“I don’t just love the 3-pointer ‘€” I love the jump shot. I think it’s kind of a lost art. You don’t have too many jump shooters in the game anymore. You have a lot of set shooters. I think it’s a pretty art that’s something that’s gone away from the game. There aren’t too many jump shooters at a premium, so to be one of them in the league, I think if you can shoot the basketball, you have a great chance of staying in this league for a while.”

No time to waste: One of House’s biggest strengths is his ability to quickly get rid of the ball ‘€” into the basket. His efficient catch and release not only helps the tempo of the game, it also helps him get better looks at the hoop.
“I guess if I took too long, then I’d probably get my shot blocked. So it’s just something that I developed by not trying to get my shot blocked. Knowing I’m not the tallest guy on the court, if I take too long I might get it blocked so it’s something you have to adapt to, and it wound up happening.”

Counting their weapons: Even though House is part of the Celtics’ second unit, he often plays alongside the starters. The combination of offensive weapons poses problems for their opponents.
“[Ray Allen is] another guy that has to be accounted for. You know they’re not going to help off him ‘€” you know they’re not really going to help off me ‘€” but at times if I’m out on the court and it’s Ray, Paul, Kevin [Garnett], [Rajon] Rondo, when they drive, someone’s got to give, and usually I’m the guy that they give from, so I get open shots.”

Two was enough: Surprisingly, House’s most significant shot was not a 3-pointer. He remembers a clutch jumper during the Celtics’ historic comeback against the Lakers in Game 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.
“It wasn’t a 3-point shot. I think the biggest shot I made in my career was against the Lakers. It put us up when we were making that comeback from being down 24 in the third quarter. Then in the fourth quarter, we ran a play, I set a pick and rolled out, Paul [Pierce] dribbled out, hit me in the corner and I hit the shot. It put us up for the first time and we never looked back. I think that was the most important shot I made in my career.”

Second generation shooting: The oldest of Houses’ three sons, Jaelen, is already gravitating toward the arc. Oh, yeah, he’s only 8 years old.
“Jaelen tries to shoot it right now. He can make college 3-pointers. He  started this past summer because he plays with older kids that are around 12. They’re shooting the shot and it’s easy for them, and he’s trying and it’s too much of a push for him. We never work on those things when we work out. I have him work on everything else but the first thing he always wants to do is go behind the 3 and shoot the shots. I don’t know why.”

PREVIOUS ENTRIES

Inside the Game: Rajon Rondo and the art of passing

Inside the Game: Shelden Williams and the art of rebounding

Inside the Game: Paul Pierce and the art of versatility

Inside the Game: Kendrick Perkins on the art of shot-blocking

Read More: Boston Celtics, eddie house, inside the game,

KG at practice but C’s still have work to do

01.19.10 at 5:52 pm ET
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WALTHAM  —  While the head coach and captain were very happy to see Kevin Garnett back at practice on Tuesday afternoon, they tempered their enthusiasm with a heavy dose of reality.

The Celtics have a lot of work to do, even when their defensive MVP returns to game action.

“He looked real fluid,” Paul Pierce said. “He got up and down the court, got him the ball in the post. It’ll be a positive to get him back whenver he comes back. We don’t know if that’s going to be tomorrow, later in the week or whenever. But it just good to have him out there, his presence. You feel it and you see it when he’s out on the court.

“We ain’t thinking about that but definitely we know we’re going to better when Kevin comes back, obviously. He makes a better team on both ends of the court. We have to take care of responsibilities while he’s out. If he’s going to play the next game or not, we still have to go out there and turn this thing around going into the All-Star break.”

Then there’s Doc Rivers‘ attitude.

“When Kevin gets back, we still have to grow as a team,” Rivers said. “The way I look at it, with him out, our growth has been stunted. When he comes back, it’ll continue our growth. It’s not the answer yet. We still have to grow as a team.”

While Garnett looked terrific, his conditioning wasn’t. And that came as no surprise to Rivers, who reiterated time and time again, KG will NOT return to game action Wednesday in Detroit.

“He actually looked really good,” Rivers added. “He played well. His conditioning was awful. That’s why I stopped [practice] because he was going well. I didn’t want to take him to the next step yet. He’ll do some running [Wednesday]. We may do something Thursday, or not, and then Friday, we’ll see.”

Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, NBA

KG is back… in practice

01.19.10 at 3:15 pm ET
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WALTHAM  —  Doc Rivers sounded like a parent talking to his child.

But he was talking to reporters about his star power forward who he anticipates will beg and plead to return to action on Wednesday night against Detroit.

Rivers told the assembled media Wednesday that, “No means no,” and he insists he will have the same message for Kevin Garnett after his successful return on Tuesday in practice.

The only trade-off was that Rasheed Wallace was given the day off to rest his foot and groin. But Rivers doesn’t anticipate Wallace missing the game in Detroit on Wednesday night.

Read More: Celtics practice, Kevin Garnett,

KG: ‘Felt good to be back with the guys’

01.19.10 at 3:06 pm ET
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WALTHAM  —  For the first time since being sidelined by a hyperextended right knee, Kevin Garnett returned to full practice on Tuesday. He took part in session, running up and down the court without a noticeable limp.

“It felt good,” Garnett said. “It felt good to be back with the guys today.”

Head coach Doc Rivers said he will not allow Garnett to play on Wednesday night in Detroit when the team plays the Pistons but rather keep him on track for a Friday return when the Celtics host Portland.

Read More: Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA,

Sheed: League doesn’t like tough D on Dirk

01.18.10 at 11:52 pm ET
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Dirk Nowitzki ‘€” with 37 points on 14-of-22 shooting from the floor ‘€” had a great game. Rasheed Wallace thinks he had a whole lot of help from the officiating crew of Tony Brown, Dan Crawford and John Goble.

Wallace didn’t hold back in expressing his frustration following Monday night’s game about a crucial fourth personal foul called on him with 5:16 remaining in the third quarter and the Celtics holding on to a 63-60 lead.

With Wallace on the bench, Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks on a 15-5 run to close out the third quarter, on their way to a 99-90 win over the Celtics at TD Garden.

“You know, they don’t like no tough defense on him so of course I get a whole lot of bull[crap] calls but that’s how the story goes,” Wallace said, before adding, “I ain’t worried about it. We’ll see them again. Honestly, I can’t remember which one the fourth foul was, there were so many bogus [calls]. I ain’t worried about it. Like I said, we’ll see them again. We go down there in about a month or so. There’ll be retribution.”

Wallace and the Celtics will have their chance at payback on March 20 when the Celtics visit Dallas.

Wallace also said there was a double-standard when it came to fouls that weren’t called on Paul Pierce.

Read More: Celtics, Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks, NBA

Banged Up, Perkins Can Still See Woes Clearly

01.18.10 at 11:39 pm ET
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BOSTON ‘€“ Kendrick Perkins walked into the locker room with a bandage on his cheek. The big man caught an elbow from Dirk Nowitzki while he was trying to block a shot and ended up with six stitches under his right eye.

In spite of the battle wound, Perkins could still see the Celtics‘ problems clearly. They have dropped the past three games at home after giving up a 12-point lead to the Mavericks on Monday night. The Celtics are now 11-7 in Boston this season and 4-6 in their last ten games.

‘€œWe’re not putting together a full game, obviously, so we’re playing in spurts,’€ he said following the C’s 99-90 loss. ‘€œWe’re not playing for 48 minutes. The first half was pretty great tonight. Second half, third quarter we gave up 34 points and we can’t do that.’€

In addition to blowing a third quarter lead to the Mavericks, the Celtics have been outscored in the fourth quarter in their last four games. They are 1-3 during that stretch, except for a win over the Nets. Extended minutes and fatigue all come into play late in the games. So does the absence of a leader whose intensity is heightened down the stretch.

‘€œYou need Kevin [Garnett], we needed Kevin tonight,’€ said Perkins. ‘€œI think [the Mavericks] match up pretty well with this defense and the way Dirk stretches the court, Kevin could guard guys like this. So I guess we needed him, but we couldn’t do it.’€

Even with the bandage under his eye, Perkins has a clear perspective on the Celtics’  recent woes.

‘€œ[It’s been an] up and down season,’€ he said. ‘€œI think we’re playing in spurts during the season so some games we look like a championship team, some games we look pretty old, but we’ve just been playing in spurts.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett,
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