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Nuggets try to follow Celtics lead

05.25.09 at 6:32 pm ET
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Down 2-1 in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Denver Nuggests know beating the Los Angeles Lakers is possible. They look to the Boston Celtics as proof.

The Nuggets are studying gametape of the 2008 NBA Finals to understand how the Celtics defeated the Lakers, according to Sports Illustrated:

“Boston was so much more physical than they were,” Billups said. “They didn’t give up a lot of layups and they didn’t give up a lot in transition. We’re capable of doing those kinds of things. I can’t say that our team is as good defensively as Boston was last year, but we do have a pretty good defensive basketball team.”

The Celtics held Kobe Bryant to 25.7 points per game (40.5% FG, 32.1% 3PG) during the Finals. He is averaging 37.7 points (48.6% FG, 50.0% 3PG) in the first three games against the Nuggets. The Cs also handled Pau Gasol (14.7 ppg, 10.2 rpg), who is averaging 16.7 points and 14.0 rebounds in the Western Conference Finals.

One of the biggest difference in this year’s playoffs is the Lakers edge on offense. Last season the Celtics outshot them 43.0% to 34.7% from long range. They are outshooting the Nuggets 39.9% to 29.9% from behind the arc. The Celtics also outrebounded the Lakers by nearly five boards per game whereas the Lakers are grabbing nearly four more boards than the Nuggets.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers,

Anniversary of ‘Beat L.A.’

05.23.09 at 7:32 pm ET
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The chant that carried the Boston Celtics through last season’s NBA Finals originated 27 years ago today. On May 23, 1982 the Philadelphia 76ers were on the verge of eliminating the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Rather than cheer against the victors, the Garden crowd bellowed ‘€œBeat L.A.’€ as encouragement for the Sixers to defeat the Lakers in the championship round. The Lakers won the title in six games.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers,

Sixers aren’t deciding on Thibodeau just yet

05.22.09 at 1:02 pm ET
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Boston Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau interviewed for a head coaching position with the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, the Boston Globe reported. He is one of six candidates who have met with the organization.

On Friday, Sixers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski issued a statement saying,  “As such, due to the number of candidates still involved in the process, there is no timetable set for when this very important decision regarding the future direction of the franchise will be made.”

The 76ers will continue interviews and conduct further research and background checks on their prospects. Stefanski noted, “As I have said before, the qualities I am looking for in our next head coach include excellent communication and leadership skills, will stress the importance of accountability while also developing our players and will be a strong tactician.”

The Globe also reported the Sacramento Kings have been granted permission to interview Thibodeau.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Tom Thibodeau,

Cassell hired as Wizards assistant coach

05.21.09 at 9:11 pm ET
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Sam Cassell made his goal very clear when he signed with the Boston Celtics in 2008 — he wanted to coach. On Thursday, he accomplished that mission. Cassell was hired by the Washington Wizards to serve as an assistant coach to the newly appointed Flip Saunders. According to Michael Lee of the Washington Post, Cassell is already participating in pre-draft workouts.

“After 15 seasons playing in this league, I have accomplished all that I have dreamed of as a player,” Cassell said in a statement issued by the Wizards. “Now the time has come for to me to take my love for the game to the coaching ranks and pass on what I’ve learned. This team is loaded with talent, and it’s a great way for me to start my coaching career.”

Cassell will be part of a coaching staff that has close ties to Kevin Garnett. Cassell and Garnett were teammates in Boston and Minnesota; Saunders served as the Timberwolves head coach for ten seasons; and Wizards assistant coach Randy Wittman coached Garnett in Minnesota during the 2007 season.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassell,

Ainge: Tony Allen was waiting in the wings

05.21.09 at 1:07 am ET
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This week Celtics head coach Doc Rivers revealed Ray Allen played in the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a hamstring injury. But the Celtics had a back up plan if another one of their stars was sidelined.

‘€œNow if anything had happened to Ray, if Ray wasn’t able to go because of the hamstring injury, then Tony would have started and played,’€ Celtics president Danny Ainge told WEEI’s The Big Show.

Tony Allen has been waiting in the wings for an extended role his entire career. Like it has happened so many times before, his opportunity for playing time this season was cut short by injuries. Rather than replace the void left by James Posey, Allen suffered an ankle sprain, the flu, and torn ligaments in his thumb. He appeared in just 46 regular season games.

‘€œEvery time Tony had an opportunity to play significant minutes, he performed very well in that role over the last couple of years,’€ Ainge said of the five-year veteran. ‘€œIn a more limited role, and I think Tony had expectations of playing a 20 to 25 minute a game role going into the season, and you know with the injuries, that just didn’t pan out that way.’€

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Ainge: We never question KG

05.21.09 at 12:11 am ET
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Kevin Garnett held out hope. The Boston Celtics front office held out hope. Even though the probability of playing seemed unlikely, a chance is still a chance. And for that, Celtics president Danny Ainge has no regrets on leaving the possibility of Garnett’s return open.

‘€œThere was some question if KG would be able to play at some point in the playoffs, and we had hope. And we still had hope for that, and it just didn’t turn out that way. But one thing that we can’t do, and one thing that we don’t do internally, is never question Kevin Garnett,’€ he told WEEI’s The Big Show. ‘€œI mean, Kevin Garnett for 12 years has never given anybody any reason to think he would not play if he could. The guy just doesn’t miss games.

‘€œBut the reality of it is, is there was still hope. I think there was a bit of hope in Kevin’s mind, there was hope in our minds, there was hope in Doc’s mind even though we knew that the possibility, that the stronger possibility existed that he probably wouldn’t play, there was a little bit of hope that he might be able to at some point. So I think second-guessing doesn’t do any good. It didn’t turn out, he wasn’t able to play, and we don’t really think that we’ve set ourselves that far back.’€

In retrospect, holding off surgery during the season may actually help Garnett’s recovery.

‘€œWe think the surgery now is fine. Anyway, Kevin’s gotten stronger, he’s been working extremely hard,’€ Ainge said. ‘€œAnd some people think the stronger your legs are when you get the surgery, the better prepared you are for your rehab anyways. So we’re not second-guessing any of that.’€

Garnett is slated for surgery next week.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Kevin Garnett,

Report: KG to have surgery next week

05.19.09 at 8:37 pm ET
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The Boston Globe has reported Celtics president Danny Ainge said Kevin Garnett will have surgery on his knee next week. According to the Globe, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck expects Garnett to return next season at full strength. The Celtics had not set a date for surgery during the playoffs, leaving a small window open for the possibility of his return. Garnett injured his knee in February.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett,
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