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Celtics: Irish Coffee

09.30.10 at 9:00 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

It’s becoming fairly clear that Nate Robinson enjoys pranking his teammates, especially Shaquille O’Neal. This time, he’s seen with Paul Pierce, pouring a ton of salt into a glass of water before handing it to an unsuspecting Shaq. The Big Shamrock’s reaction is priceless. It’s stuff like this that builds camaraderie, and I’m all for it.

NBA rule changes?

The NBA is trying out a number of potential rule changes in the NBA Development League–with an eye towards adding them at the top level in the near future.

The biggest change? Potentially allowing defenders to knock a ball away while its on the rim, a huge change from the current goaltending rule, which forbids players from touching the ball while its in the cylinder. Just for the record, this is a terrible idea. I mean, I even dominated when we lowered the rim in our backyard and allowed goaltending. Can you imagine how good Bill Russell would’ve been?

The other potential rule change? Three-minute overtimes, as opposed to the current five-minute system. Another awful idea. I have trouble doing anything in three minutes, let alone playing the most important part of a basketball game. Is there anyone out there thinking, “You know what, I’d watch this overtime if it were three minutes. Five minutes? That’s much too long for me.”

Salary cap issues hit hard

Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis was fined $100,000 by the NBA for saying that he expects the league to adopt a hard salary cap, much like the one currently in place in the NHL.

“In a salary cap era–and soon a hard salary cap in the NBA like it’s in the NHL–if everyone can pay the same amount to the same amount of players, its the small nuanced differences that matter,” Leonsis told a crowd of local business owners at George Mason University.

If the currently salary cap of $56 million were a hard cap, and teams could not exceed that limit under a number of nuanced exceptions, the Celtics would have to cut almost $23 million in salary. Essentially, they’d only be able to pay their starting five. In case you haven’t figured it out, this would be bad news for the C’s.

LeBron James: Big Baby

Ran across this picture yesterday and found it pretty funny. Nice job by this kid …

NBA Jam redux

Failed marketing and harsh criticism have led EA Sports to postpone the release of the new version of the 1993 2-on-2 NBA Jam video game, NBA Elite 11, indefinitely. The move could cost the company as much as $60 million. That’s more than the current NBA salary cap, for the math-challenged out there.

In case you missed it, EA Sports released the rosters for the game, and the Celtics are one of only nine teams that include four current players–Pierce,Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen–plus two legends (Larry Bird and Kevin McHale). ESPN.com’s Marc Stein surmised that you may be able to unlock Shaq as a hidden player. In the original ’93 version, if you’ll recall, the C’s roster featured Reggie Lewis and McHale.

Let me ask you this: How does EA Sports screw up a 2-on-2 basketball game? The original version was probably the greatest video basketball game ever (other than maybe Double Dribble), so why not just update the graphics and players, and move on. That would be too simple.

Read More: LeBron James, Nate Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Ted Leonsis

NBA Power Rankings, 9/30

09.29.10 at 9:54 pm ET
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1. LA Lakers: They’re the two-time defending NBA champions. That should be enough. In addition to picking up one of those agitators Red Auerbach always used to talk about (Matt Barnes), they also addressed a need by adding backup point guard Steve Blake. Barring a losing streak of some sort, they’ll likely sit tight in this spot until either Miami (on Christmas) or Boston (on Jan. 30) unseats them.

2. Boston: I know what you’re thinking: The Celtics are the returning Eastern Conference champions, and they added “the O’Neal brothers,” so why aren’t they No. 1? Age. If healthy, the C’s can absolutely win the title, but that’s a big “if.” Let’s not forget how Boston played during the regular season last year. If anything, this team is an even more veteran squad than the one that coasted in 2009-10.

3. Miami: The Heat ranked 16th on this list at the end of last regular season, and they added two guys by the name of LeBron James and Chris Bosh. I know I’ve heard those names somewhere. The biggest question facing this team is, obviously, depth, which Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller should provide. There’s a very good chance this team could rank No. 1 on this list by season’s end.

4. Oklahoma City: Coming off a stellar performance in the FIBA World Championships, Kevin Durant is poised for a MONSTER season. And this comes after averaging 30.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game last year. He’s my pick for MVP. With a tremendous young core that includes Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green and James Harden around Durant, this team should be game for every opponent.

5. Chicago: The Bulls were dangerous two years ago, and that was before adding Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer this offseason. With Derrick Rose running the point, and one of the best post tandems in the league-Boozer and Joakim Noah–this group can compete with anybody. New head coach Tom Thibodeau will make sure that they will compete with everybody.

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Training camp report: Getting defensive

09.29.10 at 5:08 pm ET
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NEWPORT, R.I. — A day after working through sweltering conditions at Salve Regina, a bit of normalcy returned to the Celtics on the second day of their workouts. Doc Rivers felt that it was a good, crisp practice and the focus was on–what else?– defense.

Tom Thibodeau is no longer with them, having left to coach the Bulls, but don’t expect the Celtics to change much defensively.

“We’ll keep it the same,” Rivers said. “Thibs and I toward the end of last year wanted to make some changes, but it was in the middle of the year so we decided not to. So we’€™ll make those changes now as a group. Other than that there will be very few changes.”

There are two points of emphasis for the C’s in camp. They want to lower their opponents field goal percentage and pressure the ball fullcourt. The two things are related.

“We went from No. 1 in field goal percentage defense to No. 9 last year,” Rivers said. “We want to get that back to No. 1. We have to pressure more. Our first year and a half we pressured the ball up the floor. Kevin [Garnett] was up the floor pressuring. Due to Kevin’€™s injury we got away from that completely.”

Garnett looks healthy in the early days of camp. “Night and day,” is how Rivers put it. “He’€™s explosive again, especially defensively.”

Without fullcourt pressure, the Celtics gave teams the whole 24 seconds on the shot clock to get into their offense and that left them defending for 18-19 seconds in the halfcourt. Rivers wants to see that down to 12-14 seconds.

“We really didn’€™t pressure the ball up the floor,” Rivers said. “You got [Rajon] Rondo on the floor and Kevin to shadow and we couldn’€™t do it last year. That’€™s a huge concession for our team.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Delonte West, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal, Von Wafer

Kevin Garnett on D&C: Offseason a ‘dark place’

09.29.10 at 11:37 am ET
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Celtics forward Kevin Garnett spoke with Dennis & Callahan at Celtics media day in an interview that aired on Wednesday morning’s show. Garnett spoke of the depressed mood he was in following the Celtics’ NBA finals Game 7 loss to the Lakers.

Said Garnett: “Very dark, to be honest, dark. ‘Just leave me alone, let me be my myself. I don’t want to deal with anything right now. Let me just be in a dark place.’ Just the way I replay the game over and over in my mind, trying to get a resolution to some type of place to where you can settle with it. I never found it, but that’s what it is. I say it’s fuel to the fire.”

Garnett said his passion for the game though has not waned throughout the years. “I feel older in the fact that I’ve played for multiple years,” he said. “But when it comes to competing, being in shape, passion ‘€” none of those things are lacking, not with me. When I get out on the floor, man, I’m going to compete. I wear my heart on my sleeve with anything that I do, anyway. Basketball is one of the things I enjoy in this world, so it’s like I’m having a tryout here. When I work out, I work out to better myself, to better my craft. Basketball is pure enjoyment for me.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To listen to the full interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

When you’€™re done ‘€” whenever that is ‘€” will it be physical or emotional? Will it be that passion that goes first or will it be the knees?

I think it will be physical. When I retire, it will probably be because I’€™m hurting on a regular basis. I’€™m a passionate guy. Anyone who knows me or hangs out with me, they know that if I’€™m playing a video game or telling a story or something, I’€™m passionate about it.

How come nobody knows you, other than your family and friends? You’€™re pretty private, people don’€™t know much about you. Ray Allen is out playing golf, Shaq is everywhere already, but you don’€™t see much of Kevin Garnett.

Those guys like to be seen, I like to be in the back.

Are you shy?

I wouldn’€™t say shy, I’€™m just private. I think to get to know anybody is a moment. I look at life like, guys get to see me perform, play ball, a lot of things that we do are on blast anyways. So, the little private life that I do have I like to keep it private. I don’€™t like to ‘€” you know, I don’€™t have a Twitter, I don’€™t have a Facebook. It’€™s not that I’€™m not social. I’€™m social, but I like to be social with the people I know.

I just feel like everybody out here is not for you. If you let everybody in, you let those people in with that. I just prefer to have my circle tight and have my family and friends close to me. That’€™s how I like to interact and be around people. Shaq has the personality, his personality’€™s so big that you can’€™t really withhold that. Ray is a good golfer. I guess he likes people to see his swing or whatever. I’€™m just to the back. If I go out and go somewhere I like to sit down and chill. I’€™m not a rah-rah guy, I’€™m rah-rah when I’€™m on the court. I’€™m pretty laid back.

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Read More: Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA,

Celtics: Irish Coffee

09.29.10 at 8:58 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

You’d think everything was painted green in Tommy Heinsohn‘s world, but truth be told the Celtics legend does more than just color for his former team. He’s a talented artist, as detailed in this NECN piece.

Tommy recently entered some of his work into an art show that benefited a charity in honor of his late wife, the Helen J. Weiss Scholarship fund for art education amoung children.

“I do something in art every day,” he told NECN. “If it’s only for five minutes.” It’s his relaxation, he joked, from all those terrible referees in the NBA. There’s not enough Tommy Points to give it for that.

Oh, and you’ll never guess Tommy’s prediction for the 2010-11 season. “If they can put on the floor what’s on paper,” he said to NECN, “we’re gonna win a title.”

Training Camp: Day 1

The Celtics practiced for three hours in a hot and humid gym yesterday at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I. An evening walk-through got pushed until this morning. The news? The veterans’ conditioning is the biggest question going forward, Jermaine O’Neal worked mainly with the starters and Kevin Garnett “just looked explosive,” according to Doc Rivers. “He had his hop back.”

Following the practice, Shaquille O’Neal tweeted, “First day is over, the truth and ray allen didn’t miss a shot, daaayum I wish I was a shooter.”

That’s a far cry from Von Wafer‘s tweet at 2 a.m. the morning before practice: “jus woke to use the bathroom back to sleep big day tomorrow.” Thanks for the update, Von. Wafer reportedly tweaked an ankle during the first day of practice.

According to the Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star, the C’s are waiting for a letter from FIBA Europe that will clear Chris Johnson to participate in training camp. The 6-foot-11 LSU product apparently attended practice yesterday but didn’t participate. His agent said the process normally takes seven days, and the Celtics sent the letter last week, while Johnson was reportedly participating in unofficial workouts in Boston.

Magic impressions

Members of the Orlando Magic were quick to point out to Fox Sports Florida that the East does not belong to the Heat. The Celtics, if you remember, are the returning Eastern Conference champions …

Dwight Howard: “I got tired of [hearing about the Heat] as soon as LeBron said he was going to Miami. Our discussions are not about Miami and what they’re doing. Our discussions are about what we are going to do to win a championship. What are we going to sacrifice? How are we going to play night in and night out so we can win a championship? We’re not banking on beating the Miami Heat or saying, ‘Hey we need to beat the Heat.’ That’s not our concern.”

Stan Van Gundy: “I don’t think anybody is doubting Miami’s talent and the fact that they’re going to be a serious challenge, but we don’t doubt Boston’s talent or them being a serious challenge. Or Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee, Philadelphia [or] Washington. There’s a lot of people who got better in the East. I think the challenge only rises, and I think we’re very confident in ourselves as a team and we look forward to those challenges ahead.”

J.J. Redick also made interesting comments to the Orlando Pinstriped Post during the Magic’s Media Day …

“I still have a bitter taste in my mouth,” he said. “I don’t know if we could have beaten Boston last year because we didn’t play our best game. We just–we got our butts kicked. … [Toughness is] a big reason why Boston beat us. It’s mental, man. Those guys were tougher mentally than us during that series.”

Top 10 All-Time Celtics

A Lakers fan ranked the top-10 Celtics of all-time on the Bleacher Report (similarly, a Celtics fan ranked the top-10 Lakers of all-time). As shocking as this may be to the person who commented on the Antoine Walker link in yesterday’s Irish Coffee (to quote: “Felger is an idiot but he isn’t stupid like weei people INCLUDINg this writer who was never around befoerw [sic] KG”), Antoine did not crack the top 10. Neither did Dino Radja. I kid. I kid. Paul Pierce did make the list. Who do you think was left off?

Putting a Price on Rondo’s jumpshot

The Herald’s Dan Duggan tweeted, “Rajon Rondo didn’t work out with Mark Price this summer. Said he didn’t do anything special to work on his shooting, but feels good about it.” Jay King at Celtics Town makes a good point: “Why would we even WANT Rondo to do something special to fix his jumper? I mean, it’s not like he shot 21.2% from behind the arc last season. It’s not like defenders were able to sag off him and clog the lane. It’s not like Rondo gives Shaq a run for his money as the worst free throw shooter on the Celtics.” Here’s to hoping Rondo was kidding.

Chicago Bullish on Thibodeau

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls players are getting more than an earful from former Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau.

“He’ll talk for like two or three hours, so you have to shorten your conversation with him real quick, come up with a good lie or something,” Derrick Rose told the Tribune. “Have one of your friends call you and say you gotta go pick him up or something.”

There’s no hint of green envy in Thibodeau’s eyes any longer. Asked if he’d occasionally wear the 2008 championship ring he won with the Celtics, he said, “I have to find it first. That was then. This is now. We want to build championship habits. It’s a lot of rhetoric to talk about. The real serious teams do it every day from how they practice.”

Read More: Chris Johnson, Rajon Rondo, Tom Thibodeau, Tommy Heinsohn

Why the time is now (and right) for Delonte West

09.28.10 at 6:26 pm ET
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WALTHAM ‘€” Delonte West stepped on a foot stool he didn’t need with a broad, beaming smile and began to talk in a most relaxed fashion about how glad and grateful he is to be back in Boston with a chance to win his first NBA title with the team where it all began.

If ever anyone was grateful to be back in Boston with a chance at redemption, it’s the 27-year-old lefty-shooting guard from Washington, signed by the Celtics on Sept. 1 to a non-guaranteed free agent deal. West had been cut by Minnesota, which had acquired him from Cleveland just days after the Cavaliers lost free agent LeBron James to Miami.

“It feels great to be back in green and white, where I started my career,” West said. “That’s a great compliment, being picked up from a team that’s coming off an [NBA finals] Game 7 and got their eyes set on a championship. To be called to render my services to help this team put up another banner, that’s an amazing feeling.”

Before doing so, he must sit out the first 10 games of the season on gun charges after he pleaded guilty for carrying two loaded handguns, a loaded shotgun and two knives when he was pulled over in suburban Washington last September.

He spoke of being familiar with Doc Rivers when he broke into the NBA. He spoke of his experiences in Cleveland, where he was on a team favored to get to the NBA finals ‘€” only to be twice denied by the Celtics.

But most of all, West spoke like a man who knows that ‘€” assuming he can win a spot on the roster out of camp ‘€” he will have his best shot yet to reach the NBA summit.

And it would certainly have been quite the journey. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Delonte West, LeBron James

Celtics practice report: O’Neals pass first test

09.28.10 at 5:51 pm ET
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NEWPORT, R.I. — It was hot inside Rodgers Recreation Center at Salve Regina University Tuesday, where the Celtics held their first practice of the 2010-11 season.

How hot?

“Way too warm, felt like the [Boston] Garden in the ’80s,” said Doc Rivers, who played in his share of summer playoff games vs. the Celtics during his years with the Hawks.

“It a little humid in here, a little warm,” said Jermaine O’Neal, who felt the players did a “pretty good” job dealing with the heat.

Rivers felt that the temperature inside the gym — best guess was somewhere in the low 90s — “didn’t help” the players during a three-plus hour session, but he wasn’t going to make excuses.

“I think that we’€™re not in great shape, personally,” said Rivers. “I don’€™t think that we’€™ve come back in the condition that we want. So we’€™re going to have to come back in better shape.”

— It was the first day as a member of the Celtics for both Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal. Rivers was pleased with the efforts of both.

“Shaq was great, actually. He looked fine,” said Rivers, who when asked about Jermaine O’Neal noted, “What did I see [from him]? He’s going to help us.

Both O’Neals were seen practicing with the first team [the media was allowed to watch the last 20 minutes or so of the session] but it was Shaquille O’Neal who spent some time with the second unit ‘€” “The White Team” ‘€” that also included Delonte West, Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels.

“My game is real limited,” Shaq said when asked if he preferred to start or come off the bench. “I know to look for [Kevin] Garnett and to look for my shooters. I’ve always played with great big men and great shooters, so it’s no different.

“I’m not going to be playing 30-40 minutes a game, just 20-30.”

Jermaine O’Neal didn’t seem concerned about the starter/reserve situation, either.

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Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jermaine O'Neal, Shaquille O'Neal
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