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Jason Collins’ great stories about Kevin Garnett, Doc Rivers

05.01.13 at 5:24 pm ET
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A couple great stories from Jason Collinspodcast with Bill Simmons about Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett that might instill some confidence in Celtics fans prior to Game 5 against the Knicks …

What’s your best Kevin Garnett story?

“He could be telling you about the weather, and he’ll break out in a full sweat. His intensity is just non-stop. It’s infectious. It makes you work even harder and makes you want to show up even earlier to practice, because you know that this guy is sacrificing his body. He plays through so much behind the scenes. He puts himself out there emotionally and physically. He’s a pro’s pro.”

Will he retire at the end of this season?

“You’ve got to ask him that. I hope not.”

Could you see him shutting that switch off?

He’s going to be that way until the end of his days. He’ll be going hard in a nursing home, although I don’t think he’ll ever be in a nursing home with the amount of money he’s making. He’ll have the suite.

“His intensity is really inspiring. I think if he ever chooses to be an assistant coach, he’d be great. I don’t know if he ever has that in him. He would be awesome with Charles [Barkley on TV]. They might need a seven-second delay for him. Obviously, he can do whatever he wants.”

Is Doc Rivers the best coach you’ve played for?

“I played for a lot of great coaches, but there’s a special place in my heart for Doc Rivers. Just the way he always talks about the team, and me being a team guy, it just really spoke to my heart. Not only the team, but it’s a family. He had that one saying that just stuck with me: If you want to go quickly, go by yourself. If you want to go farther, you’ve got to go in a group.’ It’s comments like that — that someone like me, a team guy who sacrifices so much — I appreciate his professionalism.

“I hadn’t played in a long stretch of games, and he called me into his office and said, ‘Jason, I want you to know that we see you working hard in the training room, and when you’re opportunity comes, just be ready.’ I’m like, ‘Doc, you don’t even need to have that conversation with me. I appreciate that you show me that professional courtesy, that respect of having that conversation with me, but you don’t have to have that conversation with me, because I’m already there with you.’

“He really is an amazing leader, and KG and Paul [Pierce] can speak better to the kind of person, coach and leader he is.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jason Collins, Kevin Garnett

Wednesday shootaround: Kevin Garnett not paying attention to Knicks’ ‘shenanigans’

05.01.13 at 12:53 pm ET
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The focus was on Kevin Garnett and Celtics Wednesday morning before Game 5 in New York. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The focus was on Kevin Garnett and Celtics Wednesday morning before Game 5 in New York. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

NEW YORK — No one knows trash talking like Kevin Garnett.

He also knows how to tune it out like no one else, or at least not feed into publicly.

J.R. Smith said there wouldn’t be a Game 5 Wednesday night in New York if he had not been suspended for Game 4, while Kenyon Martin is suggesting black formal wear at Madison Square Garden for the Celtics’ funeral.

“I have not paid attention to none of the shenanigans,” Garnett said before Wednesday morning’s shootaround at Madison Square Garden.

Garnett says he knows what it will take to be successful in Game 5 — taking one possession at a time and not getting overwhelmed by New York’s tenacious defense.

“It’s not that hard, to be honest,” Garnett said of the approach. “Taking one possession at a time is something you have to be conscious of, not individually but as a group. Understanding each possession and what it means, the importance of that possession. Small things are what’s going to make this a do-or-die type of game.

“I think it’s more, not for us to [instill] doubt, but it’s important to show some type of barrier, if not willingness, in this whole game. We know we’re playing on the road and we know they play really well here. I think the important thing is not to get down, to come out with some fire and play throughout with that fire.”

Garnett appreciates some of the fire on the Celtics bench in the form of Rajon Rondo. Garnett said he’s been huge in helping Avery Bradley and Terrence Williams while being an extra pair of eyes for him and Paul Pierce in the post.

“More importantly, he’s talking to Avery, T-Will, the guys who play the point guard position, Paul and I about opportunity and being aggressive, giving the coaching staff a perspective. Doe is a very smart guy, very high IQ when it comes to a lot of different things. He’s giving his take on what he sees out there as far as where he’s at. But more importantly being a safety net for Avery right now. Avery goes through periods where it’s difficult. It’s going to happen. We’ve all been young before. Just being like a security blanket for Avery and anyone else who needs it.”

Garnett has 34 rebounds in the last two games. What has been the secret to his success?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t really [put] thought into it, to be honest. A lot of rebounding is timing. Tyson [Chandler] and I, Kenyon and I are down there battling for the ball. It’s not one or two things that go into it, nor would I like to share, but the things that I have been doing are working for me and I’m going to stick with it.

“You don’t have a choice whether you like it or not. It’s whether you adapt or not. If you don’t adapt, you know what end you end up on, and I don’t want to end up on that end.”

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin

Paul Pierce reminds Celtics that his future is in ‘their hands’

05.01.13 at 11:47 am ET
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Will Paul Pierce be back in Boston next season? (AP)

Will Paul Pierce be back in Boston next season? (AP)

NEW YORK — The reality could hit soon and very hard for Paul Pierce and the Celtics if Boston doesn’t win Game 5 here at Madison Square Garden.

Reminded at the Wednesday morning shootaround that he is entering the final year of his current contract next season and could be playing his last game in a Celtics uniform, Pierce was philosophical.

“I’ve always been a guy who says things happen for a reason,” Pierce said. “I was a No. 10 [overall] pick [in 1998]. I did not anticipate that. I just always feel like through my whole career things everything is going to fall into the right place for me. So, I really don’t give much thought until after the season. But I know, at the end of the day, whatever I do, whatever they do, it’s going to fall into the right place for me.”

Pierce is signed through next season for just over $15.3 million but it is not guaranteed. Pierce is aware that the team could trade him in the offseason if the Celtics want to clear space, and if another team acquires him and then dumps the contract.

“I’ve always said that I want to end my career as a Celtic but they are the ones [who decide],” Pierce said. “I have a year contract for next year but it’s not guaranteed so the decision is in their hands. But, whatever they decision they make… Maybe if they trade me somewhere or I end up somewhere else, maybe it could be a situation where I come back for a one-day deal and retire as a Celtic.

“Right now, it’s just year-by-year. I expect to play another year next year and then evaluate after that.”

Meanwhile, Pierce isn’t worried about what the Knicks are saying either. Reminded that Kenyon Martin suggested black formal wear to Game 5 for the Celtics’ funeral, Pierce responded, “No reaction. It’s basketball. I’m not going to be dead after the game.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kenyon Martin, NBA, NBA playoffs

Celtics veterans support Jason Collins

04.30.13 at 4:23 pm ET
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Celtics veterans unanimously supported former teammate Jason Collins‘ decision to come out as the first openly gay player in major American sports in an autobiographical Sports Illustrated piece.

Collins told C’s coach Doc Rivers a few days ago and phoned Celtics captain Paul Pierce before the news broke on Monday morning. Rivers, Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green and Jason Terry all expressed genuine happiness for Collins, and their words must reinforce the erstwhile Celtics center’s decision to come forward.

Here are the Celtics speaking about Collins in their own words:

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jason Collins, Jason Terry

Kevin Garnett: ‘Haven’t given any thought to next year’

04.30.13 at 2:44 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Asked if he’s allowed himself to think what might become of these Celtics if they return a healthy Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger next season, Kevin Garnett wouldn’t take the bait.

“I haven’t given any thought to next year,” he said. “I’m just trying to focus on this game coming up.”

Those injuries left the Celtics scrambling to sign the China trio of Terrence Williams, Shavlik Randolph and D.J. White in addition to trading for Jordan Crawford. As a result, the team’s inability to set a rotation entering Game 5 of their first-round series against the Knicks hasn’t come as a surprise to Garnett.

“Our team was formed a little late, so we’ve been behind the 8-ball, if you will, as far as chemistry and just trying to make sure everything is always coming together on a consistent basis,” said KG. “That’s not easy to do, so, no, it doesn’t surprise me that we’re still in those stages.”

Still, Garnett doesn’t make excuses. As usual, he spoke in truths prior to Tuesday’s practice.

“We have no pressure at this point,” he said. “It should be an all-out mentality, and we should play with a free mind and an aggressive mind. We’ll take this thing one game at a time and see what happens. Other than that, we put ourselves in this position. We can’t be moaning about it too much.”

Garnett is averaging 11.3 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and a block in 33.0 minutes in the series.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA, New York Knicks

Tuesday practice notes: Doc Rivers treats Game 5 like another Game 7,

04.30.13 at 2:19 pm ET
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Doc Rivers asking his team to take another Game 7 approach Wednesday. (AP)

Doc Rivers asking his team to take another Game 7 approach Wednesday. (AP)

WALTHAM — It’s a theme that began last weekend after the Game 3 loss to the Knicks. Every game the rest of the series is like Game 7. It worked in Game 4 as the Celtics won, 97-90, in overtime but the Knicks still lead the series, 3-1.

“Like I told them, what’s the difference between being down 0-3 and being in a Game 7?” Doc Rivers asked rhetorically. “It’s no different. It’s an elimination game. The difference is your mindset. In a Game 7 you’re thinking, ‘Let’s win it to win it.’ When you’re down 0-3, you never know. You may have a couple guys making vacation plans, thinking you can’t do it. It’s all about the mindset. And that’s what I told our guys before the game the other night and that will be the message still. Each game you win, it is a Game 7. If you advance, you just advance to another game instead of to the next round. That’s got to be our mindset.”

Rivers knows veterans like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry fully understand that message. The hope is that it’s filters to players like Avery Bradley and Jeff Green Wednesday night in New York.

“You know, Game 7s are all out,” Garnett said before Tuesday’s practice. “It’s just what they are. They’re your last opportunity to survive and your mentality can’t be anything different. We have no pressure at this point. It should be an all-out mentality and you should play with a free mind and an aggressive mind and take this thing one game at a time and see what happens. Other than that, we put [ourselves] in this position, and we can’t [complain] about too much.”

Did Sunday’s Game 4 OT win instill more confidence in the group as they hit the road?

“Don’t know,” Rivers answered. “I’m hoping that we had confidence to begin with, but I honestly don’t know. I think we are really looking forward to the next game.”

What was clear to Rivers and his coaching staff from watching film is that another 18 turnovers Wednesday in New York like they had on Sunday will end the season. Aside from turning the ball over, the Celtics need to repeat their offensive flow of the first half, when they shot 50 percent and built a 19-point halftime lead.

“Well, we have to repeat it,” Rivers said. “It’s clear when we play a certain way, and that’s in an attack mode, not settling offensively, moving the ball, getting in transition, we’re hard to stop. It’s also clear when we get into the half-court and slow the ball down we’re not that hard to stop and that’s obvious.”

Other nuggets from Tuesday practice from Doc Rivers:

Second chance points. Frustrating for KG? “That’s frustrating for him. And some of them were switches where we switch and Chandler is underneath with a guard. We got called for two face guard block outs, which is legal. And I think we have to explain that honestly to our official, because it doesn’t look legal and I agree with them in that, but it actually is a legal position. We’re telling our guards instead of backing up, turn around and face guard them and block them out that way. Your’e not going to get the ball, but they’re not going to either. So that’s something we’re trying to do. but their guards got a lot of rebounds too. Shumpert hurt us on the glass. Jason Kidd hurt us on the glass too. So we can’t give up the extra shots with the turnovers and the offensive rebounds and expect to win tomorrow on the road. We just can’t do that. So we have to definitely fix the turnovers first and then the rebounds second.

On admiring KG for hard work it takes to get ready? “No, people have no idea what he goes through, and you can’t unfortunately. But it really is watching him just in there now doing all the stuff that they’re doing, the stretching. He just plays because he loves it, and it’s will. A lot of guys would just not play anymore. The fact that he does and to the level that he does it, I mean he’s a rebounding machine for us right now, and we need it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, J.R. Smith, Jason Terry

Ex-Celtic Jason Collins: ‘I, right now, am the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life’

04.30.13 at 2:10 pm ET
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Collins_Jason-SI cover 5-13Jason Collins had a sit-down interview with “Good Morning America” that aired on Tuesday morning, and he said that he has received “incredible” support since coming out as a gay man on Monday. With his recent revelation, Collins has become the first openly gay player in one of the four major U.S. sports leagues.

“I think, I know, in my personal life, I’m ready and I think the country is ready for supporting an openly gay basketball player,” Collins told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

Collins’ announcement was featured in a first-person article on Sports Illustrated’s website Monday and will be appearing as the cover story in next week’s issue. Collins was asked by Stephanopoulos if he hopes other players will follow his example.

“I hope that every player makes a decision that leads to their own happiness, whatever happiness that is in life,” Collins said. “I know that I, right now, am the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life.”

The former Celtics center has received a nearly unanimous positive response and lots of support, including a phone call from President Barack Obama.

“It’s incredible. Just try to live an honest, genuine life and the next thing you know you have the president calling you,” Collins said. “He was incredibly supportive and he was proud of me, said this not only affected my life but others going forward.”

Collins also spoke of former tennis star Martina Navratilova‘s decision to come out in 1981, and calls her his “role model.” He added that he could hopefully become someone else’s role model in the future.

Collins, who averaged 1.1 points per game this season with the Celtics and Wizards, is a free agent who plans to continue his career and is expecting continued support.

“From my teammates, I’m expecting support because that’s what I would do for my teammates,” Collins said. “A team is like a family. The NBA is like a brotherhood. And I’m looking at it like we all support each other, on and off the court.”

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