|02.05.10 at 9:35 am ET|
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the NBA version of the dreaded trap game. On the face of things, there is no conceivable reason why the Celtics should lose to the Nets. But when you factor in the absence of Paul Pierce, the nationally televised showdown with the Magic looming on Super Bowl Sunday and the fact that the All-Star beak is right around the corner, this is the kind of effort and focus game everyone has spent so much time talking about.
The Celtics are beginning to get on a nice little role. They’ve won two straight and should make it three against New Jersey. That would give them a chance to calm down all the rumors and innuendo, and there is nothing the veterans on this team like more than calm. A loss would bring all those distractions back into play.
NETS (4-44, 1-9 last 10)
Points Per Game: 90.0
Points Allowed: 101.7
Differential: -11.7 (30th)
Offensive Efficiency: 97.5 (30th)
Defensive Efficiency: 110.2 (27th)
Pace: 92.2 (17th)
CELTICS (31-16, 4-6 last 10)
Points Per Game: 99.3
Points Allowed: 93.8
Differential: +5.6 (3rd)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.8 (13th)
Defensive Efficiency: 101.8 (1st)
Pace: 91.5 (22nd)
|02.05.10 at 12:44 am ET|
Earlier this season, there was speculation that the Celtics could make a move to acquire Rafer Alston after he was bought out by the Nets. The theory was that he could be a veteran backup to Rajon Rondo, the same role the Celtics had filled with Sam Cassell and Stephon Marbury the previous two seasons.
Turns out, it was actually the other way around. Rather than the Celtics going after Alston, Alston told his camp after the buyout that he would like to play in Boston. He is ‘pretty sure’ the Celtics knew of his interest, but he never had a conversation with the organization.
‘I think it was my interest,’ he told WEEI.com. ‘But I don’t think Doc [Rivers] would have opposed it knowing that you can grab a guy that can give you minutes at backup point for this team, and who’s a willing passer and just a natural point guard. Then understand, I played for [assistant coach Tom] Thibodeau before in Houston. So I’d always had them on my mind before I came here.’
The 33-year-old didn’t lose any time holding out for the C’s, though. The Heat scooped him up almost immediately after he cleared waivers in early January. Alston could not turn down the opportunity to start for a playoff contender, nor could he stress enough how happy he is on his new team: ‘I got blown away by coming here with the immediate option to play instead of waiting it out.’
There is an element of surprise in Alston’s interest in the Celtics, though. He has been involved in some heated moments at TD Garden. Last season he slapped Eddie House in the head during the Eastern Conference semifinals as a member of the Magic. Just Wednesday night, he was issued a technical foul in the Celtics-Heat game.
But Alston says that has nothing to do with ill will. It’s about the competition.
‘I enjoy watching them on League Pass,’ he admitted. ‘Playing against them, I know it’s going to be a competitive game. We always chat at each other, but deep down I always care about each of the players in this league. So even if I did come, I hope they wouldn’t have taken the chatter back and forth that we all do against each other personally. Again, I have a great respect for the level of competition that they bring.’
Alston also has a good understanding of the Celtics. He has faced them enough times over his career to see where he could have fit in. While he believes Rondo is more than qualified to run the floor himself ‘ ‘He’s an All-Star,’ Alston said. ‘He’s having a wonderful career.’ ‘ Alston thinks having a true point guard on the bench could have had its benefits, too.
‘Not back up but just complement, maybe get him [Rondo] some much-needed rest,’ he explained. ‘Sometimes there are nights that he’s out there giving 40 minutes, and get him some rest. And also, you’d help the second-unit guys. You can keep some guys in their natural positions. You can keep [Eddie] House in his natural position; you can keep [Marquis] Daniels in his natural position, guys that are flirting between playing shooting guard.
“That’s one thing that I learned in this game. If you can keep everyone at their natural and most comfortable position, them succeeding is a better percentage.’
|02.04.10 at 5:32 pm ET|
WALTHAM — When Marquis Daniels eventually returns to game action, he shouldn’t be that much out of breath.
That’s because the most versatile player on the roster has been put through a strict running program to make sure he’s in shape once his surgically repaired left thumb is ready for game action.
‘I think they did a good job of running me,” Daniels said. “I’ve turned into Forrest Gump a little bit. I’m glad to be back. It feels like the first day of school, very excited. I’m just ready to get back out there and play and be a part of the team and just feel more wanted out there. Hopefully, I can another good practice in and maybe [play] Sunday.’
And while he wasn’t doing much running on Thursday in practice (see below), he was busy learning new plays that coach Doc Rivers has installed in his 27-game absence.
‘He put a couple more sets in, but for the most part it’s pretty much the same thing. I just have to learn three positions, the point guard, the 2 and the 3. It’s coming along pretty simple, so hopefully I can pick them up by next practice.’
That next practice will be Saturday, meaning it’s highly unlikely he plays ‘ or is needed for that matter ‘ against New Jersey on Friday. When he does, he wants to be sure his thumb is ready for a hit. If he can take a hit in practice, he believes he’ll be game-ready.
‘Just getting hit,” Daniels said Thursday. “Everything else is pretty much mental. I think my conditioning is OK. It’s not the best, but it’s the best it can be without playing basketball. Other than that, once I get that first hit on it, I think I’ll be OK.’
Rivers spent nearly 30 minutes with Daniels and the second unit at the end of practice as he tries to help Daniels get back to speed in time for a possible weekend return to action.
After several days of shooting and basketball-related drills, Thursday marked Daniels’ first practice back with the team.
Daniels said the biggest hurdle for him will be taking a blow to the thumb, which was wrapped in white protective bandage for his first practice back.
‘It wasn’t a great practice for him,” Rivers said. “We didn’t do a lot. We didn’t do really anything live, so it wasn’t a great practice for him. Just trying to get him some rhythm, which is good.’
Rivers added that he doubts Daniels will be ready to play against New Jersey on Friday but more likely set for a Sunday return against Orlando.
|02.04.10 at 4:22 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Paul Pierce spoke on Thursday for the first time since being diagnosed with a left mid-foot sprain that forced him to miss Wednesday night’s game against Miami and will likely keep him out of action against New Jersey on Friday night.
But the All-Star forward said he has reason to think he might be back by Sunday when the team takes on the Orlando Magic at TD Garden.
‘I can walk on it,” Pierce said. “It’s just a basic mid-foot sprain. It’s not the end of the world. I’ve had worse injuries, to tell you the truth. And the good thing about it is I didn’t have to go into a boot. I’m still walking around on it. It’s just about the pain going away. It’s a sprain but it’s not the worst sprain I’ve ever had.’
Pierce said he definitely plans on taking part in the All-Star 3-point shooting contest and is hopeful for the All-Star Game itself on Feb. 14 at Cowboys Stadium.
[Click here to hear a humble Pierce explain why he’s planning on going ahead with the All-Star 3-point contest.]
‘The foot is getting better every day,” Pierce added. “I’m just doing the necessary treatments to get back on the court as soon as possible. Going by how it feels. The good thing about it over the last couple of days it’s gotten better every day so I’m just taking it a day at a time until I know it’s right.
‘It’s tough but I know at this point in my career and understanding my body, I know the most important thing for me right now is just to get healthy. As a younger player I might have pushed it too much and who knows if I might have made the injury even worse. Right now at this age I have to take care of my body and do what’s right and right now the right thing is to get rest.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|02.04.10 at 2:46 pm ET|
Celtics forward Bill Walker was selected for the NBA D-League’s slam dunk competition on Feb. 12. The 22-year-old, who has shown an ability to produce highlight-reel dunks, has played in just seven NBA games this season while averaging 0.9 points per game. He has averaged 17.4 points per contest in nine D-League games for the Maine Red Claws.
To take part, he would have be assigned to the D-League team. It’s possible that the Celtics would leave that choice up to him. Walker has family in West Virginia and indicated Thursday he would prefer spending time with them over the break.
Joining Walker on the roster for the D-League’s skills competition is Red Claws teammate Trey Gilder, who is a member of the Memphis Grizzlies organization. Gilder will take part in the Shooting Stars competition.
Here is the press release detailing the skills competition:
NEW YORK, Feb. 4, 2010 ‘ The NBA Development League Dream Factory Friday Night presented by Haier, an innovative skills competition modeled after the popular NBA All-Star Saturday Night, returns for the third consecutive year to Center Court at NBA Jam Session presented by adidas on Friday, Feb. 12, at 10:00 p.m. ET, and will stream live on NBA.com from 10-11p.m. ET. Read the rest of this entry »
|02.04.10 at 1:46 pm ET|
I’m hoping you could give us some news ‘ that you’re going to take part in the 3-point contest?
No, I haven’t got an invite. I think Paul’s actually going to be the one representing the Celtics in the contest, so I hope all’s well with that and I hope he gets a win.
You should have been in last year, in your hometown ‘ could you imagine a final in Phoenix between you and Mike Bibby?
That would have been a lot of fun, but at the end of the day, that’s not my main goal, to get in the 3-point contest. Mine is to make sure my 3-point percentage is steadily on the way up, and I’m helping the team get wins ‘ that’s what it’s about. My job is to do whatever I can to get wins and get a few loose rebounds or make the next pass so somebody else can make the wide open shot, or if it’s me to take the shot or hit a 3 or 2, whatever I have to do to get a win, that’s what my focus is. Read the rest of this entry »
|02.04.10 at 12:52 pm ET|
The Chicago Sun-Times put out the rumor that the Bulls and Celtics could get together on a deal that would send Ray Allen to Chicago for a package that includes Kirk Hinrich, Tyrus Thomas and Jerome James. That’s a deal that has been speculated about before, but it doesn’t seem like it would be a good match for the Celtics.
Thomas and James are both in the final years of their contracts. While James is essentially a non-factor, Thomas does have intriguing ability, but throughout his career he has been more potential than production. Hinrich is a player who has received lots of interest around the league because of his abilities and also because the Bulls would like to move his contract, which has two years left after this one, to create more cap space in the summer.
It has long been speculated that the Bulls will make a run at Chicago native Dwyane Wade. If they can clear Hinrich’s contract, they could have the space to go after two prime free agents.
Hinrich could help the Celtics, certainly. He is a solid playmaker and a good defender who can guard multiple positions. He is having a down shooting season, however, and would not be a viable replacement for Allen in that regard. The Celtics could get creative and try to work out a deal for Hinrich alone involving a combination of their other expiring contracts — Brian Scalabrine, Tony Allen, Eddie House, etc.–but probably not at the cost of Allen.
“The thing that’s happening right now is everybody’s trying to give away their [expiring contracts] to those same teams and those same teams are trying to get a bargain,” Rivers said. “Eventually the trade stuff will end up, I don’t think with us, but around the league everybody’s trying to take advantage of everybody.”
In other words, the trade market has not yet fully taken shape. Teams are still in the feeling-out process. In regards to Allen, both Rivers and Danny Ainge have stated the team’s position, which is: They will listen to offers for Allen, but it will have to be a great deal for the Celtics for them to pull the trigger.
While the Hinrich rumor makes some sense in the abstract, it doesn’t appear to satisfy those requirements for the Celtics.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Austin Ainge Offers Window to C's Pre-Draft Process
- Trade Possibilities for C's with Draft Approaching
- Latest Buzz Surrounding Jamal Crawford, Kristaps Porzingis, Celtics'...
- Latest NBA Trade Rumors, Buzz
- Ranking Celtics' Biggest NBA Draft Needs
- Buzz Surrounding Ty Lawson, Celtics Draft Plans and More
- Realistic Targets for Celtics to Chase During Offseason