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Rivers on D&C: Durant NBA’s most efficient

04.01.10 at 10:43 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and talked about Kevin Durant, the young star who led the Thunder past the Celtics on Wednesday night. “Offensively, he’s as good as you’re going to get in the league,” Rivers said. “I think he is the most efficient offensive player in the league. LeBron and Kobe, they score more points, but he’s more efficient at it. He’s amazing. … He’s a great young kid. He’s everything good about our league. It’s really good to have a guy like that in our league.”

Rivers said Durant’s size is what puts him (literally) over the top, helping to make him the best catch-and-shoot guy in the NBA. “There’s probably guys who can shoot as well as Durant. The difference is when Durant catches and shoots, even if you’re there, because of his size, he can still shoot it over you,” Rivers said. “He knows at the end of the day, even [against] a good defense that he can still shoot it over you, because he’s five inches taller or four inches taller than most of the guys that are going to guard him.”

Rivers admitted that had the Celtics received the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft, he would have wanted to take Ohio State center Greg Oden over the skinny Texas star. “I would have taken Oden, there’s no doubt about it,” Rivers said. “Obviously, now, I would have been wrong. … You can’t fault Portland for taking Oden.”

Comparing Durant and LeBron James, Rivers said: “The bottom line is we haven’t seen any player in the history of basketball like either one of those guys. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a guy with the size of LeBron and the power of LeBron and the speed and the IQ and all that.’€¨’€¨ The comparison of Durant would be a cross between George Gervin and Dirk Nowitzki, but he also has more speed than both of them and he can handle the ball. … Skinny, long — he is a freak. That’s what he is.”

Rivers said the Thunder are an impressive team, mainly in the maturity department. “They’re young, they’re confident, they play defense,” he said. “They have pretty good composure for a young team. And they’re not an emotional team. … They went for skill over the potential athlete who, if he learns how to shoot and run, he can be a good player, if you know what I’m saying. And they went for character. All their guys coming out of college were known as high-character players, high-skill players. It’s tough to go wrong if you go with that formula.”

Rajon Rondo has received some criticism for not being consistent enough and focusing more on being flashy than fundamental. Responded Rivers: “Rondo has come such a long way. There are times when Rondo goes for the showy pass instead of being solid. But even that, to me, he has improved so much. I don’t have a lot of complaints with Rondo right now. I do think there are times when he wants to put on a show. … He keeps getting better, and I like that part of him. He’s more competitive, he plays harder, so there’s a lot of good things. Far more good than bad. There is no perfect player, by the way. And I always remind myself of that. But as far as Rondo goes, the positives are so much greater than the negatives.”

The Celtics did their share of complaining to the officials Wednesday night, which is nothing new for this team. Asked if his team sometimes complains too much, Rivers said: “There’s no doubt that we do. There is no doubt. … That’s something I spend timeouts with at times: ‘Guys, I’ll do the complaining. I’ll do whatever I need to do. You keep playing.’ … The one thing I did like, is it never stopped them from playing last night, and that’s a really good sign for us.”

To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Celtics curse Kevin Durant

04.01.10 at 3:21 am ET
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You know you’re good when a pair of NBA veterans curse your performance after you lead your team to a win on their home court.

Kevin Durant is that good — and then some.

He scored from every spot on the court, including the free throw line — where he made all 15 attempts. When all was said and done, the Celtics watched him pour in 37 points in Oklahoma City’s 109-104 win over the Green on Wednesday at TD Garden.

‘€œIt’€™s a team job to help out, period,” Rasheed Wallace said. “No matter whether it’€™s him or any other type of NBA All-Star, it’€™s a team effort to help out. It was a [pain], honestly. Helping Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] out, it’€™s just a team thing. Got to stay with him.’€

As for those 15 free throws, compare that to the fact the Celtics as a team made just 13-of-17 attempts the entire game.

‘€œI thought we were playing Michael [expletive] Jordan tonight the way he was getting the whistle,” Kevin Garnett added. “Durant damn near shot more free throws than our whole team.’€

With Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook at the point, these are not your mother’s Oklahoma City Thunder — or even Seattle Supersonics, for that matter.

‘€œWe’€™ve grown, we’€™ve grown up,” Durant said. “We’€™ve added a lot of different pieces since our first year, me and Jeff. So it’€™s good to come in here and beat a team like Boston — a great team, a championship team like them. It’€™s all about moving on from here.

‘€œIt means a lot for us, and like you say gives us confidence. We’€™ve got eight more games left, so we’ve just got to keep plugging away and keep pushing. This is another step for us. We’€™re happy with this win, but tomorrow we’ve got to let it go and get ready for Dallas.’€

Maybe most impressive is the fact the Thunder shot 50 percent, 10 percent less than their opponent — on their opponent’s home court — and still managed to win.

‘€œIf you want a tape about how to score the basketball, you’ve got to watch this game,” Durant said. “They scored it in a variety of ways and we scored in a variety of ways as well. Our point guard did a great job of starting us off early, getting to the rim and opening things up for everybody else. It was a great game as far as offensive is concerned. We’ve just got to work on our defense from here.’€

Glen Davis was one of the last Celtics to give his take on Durant on Wednesday, and he didn’t even need any dirty words.

‘€œHe’€™s a problem because you’ve got to pay attention to him,” Davis said. “You’ve got to make sure he doesn’€™t beat you, and he had a big game tonight. We’€™ve got to get him out of his comfort zone and make sure he doesn’€™t have 37, but he did.’€

Read More: Celtics, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, NBA

Pierce, Garnett press conference

04.01.10 at 12:15 am ET
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A disappointed Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett speak to the media following the Celtics‘ 109-104 loss to the Thunder at TD Garden.

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Doc Rivers press conference

04.01.10 at 12:14 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers speaks to the media following the Celtics’ 109-104 loss to the Thunder at TD Garden.

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Fast Break: Thunderstruck

03.31.10 at 10:04 pm ET
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Game of the year? No question. Best regular season game of the Big Three era? It would have to be in the discussion.

The Celtics lost to the Thunder Wednesday night, 109-104 and while there are implications to the defeat, it’s not hard to appreciate just how good this game was.

You want numbers? the Celtics shot 17-for-20 in the second quarter and 70 percent in the first half… and they only led led by four. Six different Celtics scored in double figures, but no one scored as many as 18 and they had assists on 30 of their 44 made baskets

You want moments? With four seconds left in the third quarter Rajon Rondo raced the length of the floor, knifed through the Oklahoma City defense and laid one off the glass as the buzzer expired. As Rondo skipped away from the shot he had a slight grin on his face as if to say he knew how good it was. That was only one of a dozen or more example of individual brilliance.

Or how about Rasheed Wallace going 7-for-8 from the floor, with almost all of that working off the low post where he dominated a host of OKC defenders?

And Kevin Durant was ridiculous. He scored 37 points and made impossible shots from all corners of the court. He also lived at the free throw line where he went 15-for-15. As a team the Celtics attempted just 17 free throws.

This game had everything you could possibly want in a regular season NBA contest, except for maybe a Celtics win. They are now a game behind Atlanta for third place in the East. They have two more home games to regroup during this stretch and carry some momentum into the playoffs.

Player of the Game: If you have to pick one player from this game it has to be Durant. He scored 37 points and drew so much attention from the Celtics that Jeff Green found himself open for two huge 3-pointers in the final minutes.

Turning Point: The Green 3-pointers. They were both killers.

* Paul Pierce started despite suffering a stinger in his shoulder and scored 14 points to go with four rebounds and four assists in the first half. Kendrick Perkins also returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with knee tendinitis.

* The Celtics turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter, but committed only one in the second.

* The Thunder had never beaten the Celtics in the Kevin Durant era.

* Durant was awesome, obviously, but the Celtics made him work much harder for shots in the second half. They had their big men hedge off screens to initiate double teams and throw his timing off. It really didn’t matter though. Durant also got the benefit of several whistles and shot 15 free throws. He made them all, of course.

Read More: Celtics, Fast Break, Thunder,

Halftime: Celtics-Thunder

03.31.10 at 8:40 pm ET
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At the half we’ve got a good game brewing at the Garden with the Celtics leading 61-57. The Celtics are shooting an amazing 71 percent from the floor, while the Thunder are shooting 57 percent.

As advertised Kevin Durant was phenomenal with 17 points, but the story for the Celtics was the play of Rasheed Wallace who killed a variety of Oklahoma City defenders in the post. Wallace was 5-for-5 from the field with 10 points, but he picked up his third foul with just over five minutes left in the half.

Foul trouble is also an issue for the Thunder as Nick Collison also has three. Seven different players have two fouls each.

Paul Pierce started despite suffering a stinger in his shoulder and scored 14 points to go with four rebounds and four assists. Kendrick Perkins also returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with knee tendinitis.

The Celtics turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter, but committed only one in the second

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Coach Belichick, it’s Doc on the line

03.31.10 at 6:59 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers confirmed before Wednesday’s game with Oklahoma City that Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins would both be in the starting lineup.

Pierce suffered a ‘stinger’ to his right shoulder on Sunday night and again on Tuesday in practice but was cleared by the team’s training and medical staff while Perkins has missed the last two games with left knee tendinitis.

“It’s good but it’s scary,” Rivers said. “Obviously, you don’t know why you get stingers. Maybe I should call Coach [Bill] Belichick because it’s a football injury more. We don’t have a whole bunch of stingers in our league that I know of. Obviously, it does concern you because I always think if something like that happens, there’s got to be a reason why but it’s just coincidence, let’s hope.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, NBA
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