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Doc: ‘We’re ready’

10.23.09 at 3:26 pm ET
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WALTHAM  —  Celtics coach Doc Rivers put his team through a spirited workout on Friday afternoon at the team’s practice facility, four days before the team opens the season on Tuesday in Cleveland against LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

Rivers said following the practice that he senses his team is geared up and ready.

“I like where we’re at,” Rivers said. “I’m very happy where we’re at. We’re going to add things all year. We’re ready to play. Even if I didn’t add anything else all year, I think we’re ready to play an NBA game.”

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, Doc Rivers, LeBron James

Celtics hire Lue to their coaching staff

10.23.09 at 2:51 pm ET
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WALTHAM —  The Celtics hired NBA former point guard Tyronn Lue as their Director of Basketball Development on Friday. He will assist the coaching staff and observe practices.

The 32-year-old Lue made his debut on Friday in Waltham as the Celtics prepare for their season opener on Tuesday in Cleveland. Lue played 11 seasons with seven different teams, including last year with Orlando. He won NBA titles in 2000 and ’01 with the Lakers.

Read More: Celtics, Lakers, NBA, Tyron Lue

Isiah lashes out at Magic, Bird

10.22.09 at 4:32 pm ET
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Isiah Thomas responded to criticism from his longtime friend Magic Johnson by lashing out at the Lakers legend in a story today on SportsIllustrated.com. Thomas, the former Pistons standout, most recently failed miserably as coach of the Knicks and is now coaching at Florida International University.

“I’m really hurt, and I really feel taken advantage of for all these years,” Thomas told SI.com. “I’m totally blindsided by this. Every time that I’ve seen Magic, he has been friendly with me. Whenever he came to a Knick game, he was standing in the tunnel [to the locker room] with me. He and [Knicks assistant coach] Herb [Williams] and I, we would go out to dinner in New York. I didn’t know he felt this way.”

Johnson and Larry Bird contributed to a book by Jackie MacMullan, “When The Game Was Ours,” which is due out Nov. 4. In the book, Johnson accuses Thomas of questioning his sexuality after Johnson was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1991. Johnson also confirms that Thomas was not well-liked by other NBA stars.

Thomas fired back at Johnson and defended himself in today’s story. He also accuses Johnson of duplicitous behavior in his friendship with Bird.

“Let’s be real. I’m not going to say the things Magic said in private about Larry, but I do know the public stance he’s taken [in becoming Bird’s friend],” Thomas told SI.com. “I know that’s not how he felt about Larry Bird. Magic hated Larry, and he tried to make other people hate Larry. Magic was no friend of Larry Bird’s during that time. And his Laker teammates will tell you that. And I’m sure they’ve got to be disgusted with the way he’s carried on with this whole me-and-Larry bull.”

Read the entire SI story here. And click here to listen to Jackie MacMullan discuss the book on Dennis & Callahan last week.

Read More: Isiah Thomas, Jackie MacMullan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson

Report: Celtics ‘Unlikely’ to Sign Sweetney

10.22.09 at 4:10 pm ET
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Despite playing better than expected this preseason, the Celtics are ‘€œunlikely’€ to commit to a guaranteed contract to keep Michael Sweetney, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Sweetney averaged 3.6 points and 1.2 rebounds in five preseason games after being out of the NBA for two years. He shot 67% from the field and 86% from the line.

Sweetney has not been shy in expressing his enthusiasm to play for the Celtics. Prior to the first preseason home game he told WEEI.com, ‘€œComing here is just a great moment. Coming in the building was like, wow. But coming into this locker room and the history and just being on this team is just amazing … I’€™ve never been on a team at the beginning of the season and everybody says, ‘€˜We’€™re going to make the playoffs.’ But this team has won championships, so it’€™s a different feeling surrounding it.’€

He also gelled quickly with the team’s chemistry, including some friendly trash talking with Rasheed Wallace over football.

UPDATE: The Celtics waived Sweetney on Thursday.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Michael Sweetney, Rasheed Wallace,

Horford Tweets: ‘I do not bet on basketball’

10.22.09 at 9:44 am ET
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Hawks center Al Horford took to the Twitter to tell his followers that he was joking about making a wager with Paul Pierce for $10,000 during the 2008 playoffs and that he doesn’t bet on hoops, or any other sport for that matter.

Horford caused a mini controversy earlier in the week after an appearance on an Atlanta sports talk show with teammate Marvin Williams in which he said that Pierce bet him $10,000 that the Hawks wouldn’t win a game during their first round series with the Celtics.

On Wednesday, Horford posted two comments on Twitter:

“Some of my comments from the radio interview I did yesterday with 790 the zone were overblown. I was joking.”

And:

Paul Pierce and I did not make a bet during the playoffs in 2008. I do not bet on basketball or any other sports.”

Read More: Al Horford, Marvin Williams, Paul Pierce,

Celts Beat Cavs

10.21.09 at 9:49 pm ET
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The first rule of preseason games in any sport is don’t read too much into preseason games. It is very unlikely, for example, that there will ever be a time in the regular season when J.R. Giddens is matched up one-on-one with LeBron James at the top of the key with no help coming.

That said, the Celtics final preseason game against the Cavaliers Wednesday night revealed one very valuable truth, which is that when it comes to Cleveland, the Celtics aren’t messing around. They sat Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Glen Davis and had Paul Pierce play just 13 minutes and yet they were still the aggressors from the opening tip in a 96-82 win at THE Ohio State University. (Click here for a recap).

Sure, there were some strange sights like Giddens covering LeBron and Lester Hudson stripping the ball from Shaquille O’Neal down on the block but you have to admire the intentisty with which the Celtics went after the Cavs on the road in the final exhibition game. There was even a fun little skirmish toward the end of the first half when Shelden Williams exchanged shoves with Daniel Gibson Mo Williams. (Note to the Celtics bench: Stay off the court during fights.)

The games between the Cavs and Celtics this season promise to be Events with klieg lights surrounding the building and national TV and media inside. To carry that kind of intensity and attention to detail into the final preseason game is a nice way to wrap it up.

But, let’s not read too much into it.

Other items of note for the Celtics:

The Marquis Daniels lovefest can not be stopped: The free agent swingman might be just a little sad to see the preseason end. You can make the argument that he was the Celtics most consistent player during the preseason and he capped it off with a phenomenal 17-point, five-assist performance in 30 minutes.

Daniels has been everything the Celtics could have hoped for (and he can rap too).

Lester Hudson continues to make a case: Let’s say this before going too far: It will be very difficult for Hudson to get playing time once the season starts. But if he continues to make the most of his chances he has a chance to carve out a niche on this team. Hudson scored eight points in 21 minutes, but most importantly he continued to play without fear or hesitancy.

The players and coaching staff like the 25-year-old rookie from Tennessee-Martin and he has allowed them to feel a little bit more secure about the lack of a “true” backup point guard.

Everyone will be very happy on Tuesday when the regular refs are back: The officials everyone know, and some hate, will undoubtedly make mistakes. They will undoubtedly make a call or two that will leave people scratching their heads or cursing a blue streak at their HD. But, there won’t be many calls that will be influenced by people yelling from the bench and there won’t be too many calls where everyone with a whistle looks at each other and tries to figure out what just happened.

Both those things happened last night and far too often during the preseason. Love them, hate them or tolerate them because they’re generally the best the game has to offer the NBA needs to have the best possible officials on the court and that is the best outcome of all of this preseason.

Notes: The Celtics finished the preseason 6-2 … Brian Scalabrine (ankle) and Mike Sweetney (flu) joined Tony Allen and Bill Walker (knee surgery) on the DNP due to injury list.

Read More: Cavs, Lester Hudson, Marquis Daniels, refs

Refs Coming Back?

10.21.09 at 10:11 am ET
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Several reports Tuesday indicated that the league and the referee’s union are closing in on a labor agreement that would return the regular refs to work and prevent the so so-called “replacement refs” (read: scabs) from working regular season games.

People are of two minds on this one. The casual NBA fan will shrug his or her shoulders and wonder why anyone would care about the refs since they’re all horrible anyway. The hardcore NBA fan, on the other hand, is smiling a little bit today because the thought of a 60-foul, 3+ hour game is no good for anyone.

Throughout the preseason it became rather obvious that the replacements weren’t up the speed of the NBA game, which led to a number of ticky tack calls after the original foul. Despite a directive from the league to not talk about the refs, complaints had begun to surface.

Charlotte coach Larry Brown was fined $60,000, while Memphis coach Lionel Hollins was fined $25K for saying the refs favored Magic center Dwight Howard. Not surprisingly, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy didn’t like the insinuation. Plus he had already been docked $35,000 for criticizing the refs in a separate incident. (Perhaps Hollins didn’t get the memo that the Magic don’t get any respect from the media, the league or the zebras).

The final straw may have been an exhibition game between the Knicks and Maccabi Tel Aviv, in which Maccabi coach Pini Gershon was ejected and refused to leave the court for an extended time. According to a report by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Maccabi had paid $500,000 to play the game and was using the money from the game to benefit an Israeli orphanage.

International incidents aside, the return of the regular refs in time for the start of the regular season is good news for the league, the players and believe it or not, the fans as well.

Read More: Larry Briown, Lionel Hollins, refs, Stan Van Gundy
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