|04.10.09 at 12:19 pm ET|
When are regular season games more like practice?
When you’re trying to get two important pieces of your puzzle in order before the playoffs start.
Such is the case for Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who said at Friday morning’s shootaround that he still hopes to get Kevin Garnett (right knee) back in game action on Tuesday in Philadelphia and on Wednesday in the season finale against Washington.
“If we can play him 10 or 15 minutes, we will, if that’s what we think will give him better rhythm,” Rivers said. “But for us, we’ll use it as practice, and that may be the same for Leon.”
Leon Powe (right knee) went through some plays with the team on Friday morning, but not at full speed. He then worked with coach Clifford Ray on a rebounding drill where he caught the ball atop his ahead and then jumped back up immediately and shot the ball without bringing the ball below his shoulders.
“He was just trying to do drills to see how the leg responds,” Powe said. “So far, it responded real well to the drills we were doing.”
But don’t look for Brian Scalabrine (post-concussion) to return to action in the final two games of the season. Rivers said he would still rather be safe than sorry.
“The Scal thing, I’m not so sure,” Rivers said. “Even though I think he’s improving, I don’t know if we want to take the chance in a regular season game with him. Ball hits him on the head and he goes down, we literally don’t want to take that chance.”
The Celtics play Miami tonight and then at Cleveland on Sunday before wrapping up the season with a game on Tuesday in Philadelphia and at home against Washington on Sunday.
|04.10.09 at 11:41 am ET|
It’s a good problem to have but it’s still a problem that needs solving.
How to schedule two teams and two Springsteen concerts all in one building over four days.
The Celtics are almost certain to play Saturday the 18th with Game 2 of the first round to be played on Monday, the 20th. The reason is as follows:
The NBA playoffs begin on Saturday, Apr. 18. The NHL playoffs for the Boston Bruins begin at home at the Garden on Thursday, the 16th since the Celtics finish up their regular season on Wednesday, the 15th against Washington. It should be pointed out, of course, that the Bruins and owner Jeremy Jacobs own TD Banknorth Garden.
If the Bruins play Montreal in the first round, it’s very likely that Hockey Night in Canada will want the Bruins-Habs on Saturday night and the Bruins would acquiesce to that request. If that scenario takes place, then you’re likely looking at a Celtics playoff opener at 12:30 on ESPN in the afternoon and a Bruins-Canadiens nightcap.
If the Bruins play the New York Rangers in the opening round, it’s more likely, the Bruins would play on Sunday afternoon on NBC and the Celtics could move to a Saturday night game on TNT.
In any event, the NBA wants to avoid having the Celtics or any team for that matter, play on back-to-back days if at all possible.
Bruce Springsteen takes over the building on April 21 and 22 and there’s no moving The Boss. Once again, a great time to be a Boston sports fan.
|04.09.09 at 1:00 pm ET|
Paul Pierce credited his notable weight loss to a change in diet after the Boston Celtics championship run. Now he is lending his dining tips to Zagat Survey for, ‘A Spotlight on Boston Restaurants: Paul Pierce’s Favorites for Healthy Dining.’
This guide includes Pierce’s advice for staying healthy while eating out at Zagat Survey’s Most Popular restaurants in Boston, which were selected by nearly 7,000 local diners in Zagat’s 2009/10 Boston Restaurants Survey.
Pierce also worked with Zagat on another guide to benefit his Truth Foundation. In addition to healthy dining tips at Zagat’s Most Popular Restaurants in Boston, this guide offers general tips for eating out and fitness advice. Pierce also includes his favorite pre-game meal of grilled salmon, a baked potato, and broccoli.
Information on this pocket-sized guide (for convenience) will be available on paulpierce.net.
|04.08.09 at 11:49 pm ET|
On Wednesday night during a 106-104 nail-biter over the New Jersey Nets at TD Banknorth Garden, Rondo scored a team high 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor, while grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out five assists.
It seemed from Marbury’s standpoint, every time Rondo drove to the basket, he scored.
“The guy had [31 ]points and I think he shot all layups,” Marbury said. “He reminds me of Pearl Washington from what they said, back in the days. A guy who didn’t really shoot the jump shots, but just continued to get to the basket and dominated.”
There are cases around the NBA when the point guard looks to score, their team is usually in trouble. Such is not the case with Rajon Rondo and the Celtics. As a matter of fact, it may be just the opposite.
For the third straight game, Rondo scored at least 20 points in leading his team to victory, their fifth straight overall.
‘I’m pretty comfortable,” Rondo said. “I’m probably as comfortable as I’ve ever been these last five or six games, just knowing when to take a shot or when to pass it.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|04.08.09 at 11:35 pm ET|
In his long NBA career, Mikki Moore has seen his share of coaches come and go. He has seen the NBA world from all angles — as a starter on a playoff team, as a reserve, as a deep reserve and unfortunately as a forgotten man on a team going nowhere. Moore possesses the kind of perspective on life in the League that has to be lived in order to appreciate the situation he finds himself in now and the coach he is playing for, Doc Rivers.
“Doc is a player’s coach,” Moore said. “He knows how to relate. Some coaches are just good X’s and O’s, but he’s good on both sides. He knows how to sit down and talk to you and let you know exactly what he thinks. And take your opinions. There’s nothing hidden. He’s not playing with your mind. I’ve been through all of that. It’s straight cut and dry. He lets you know how he feels. (He) respects your opinion, but this is what I need done. That’s what I like.”
It sounds so easy, so refreshingly straight-forward, but it’s a big part of the reason why the Celtics have such respect for their head coach, and conversely, a big reason why so many other coaches fail. You can draw up the best out of bounds play known to man and Hubie Brown, and Rivers is very good at that particular aspect of his job, but if you can’t get your players to buy into what you’re selling you’ll find yourself watching games with a headset and a mic instead of a dry-erase board.
As NBA awards season begins to dawn, Rivers has received scant attention for the job he’s done this year. He is on the verge of another 60-win season, which was expected, but it’s the unexpected–the myriad of injuries that have plagued the Celtics since the All-Star break, and the job he’s done piecing together lineups, that has not received enough attention.
“Doc’s been our leader,” Leon Powe said. “He puts his team out there, whatever we’ve got. If somebody’s hurt we don’t make any excuses. If somebody’s hurt, somebody else has to step up. As a player, you respect that.”
If Rivers’ name hasn’t been bandied about for Coach of the Year, it doesn’t affect him. He’s won it before in Orlando and all that got him was a pink slip a few years later. Just like it got Sam Mitchell in Toronto and Avery Johnson in Dallas and on and on.
“Stuff like that doesn’t even bother him,” Moore said. “Both as a coach and a person. Some guys, they hit adversity they start acting differently. He’s just the same cool cat.”
On Wednesday night against New Jersey, Rivers left his second unit on the floor deep into the fourth quarter. They had been playing with energy and were responsible for the lead, so he left them in the game. (Click here for a recap). There were two methods at play with this decision. One, it was a good chance to see how the bench would do in that situation, and two, they were just playing well.
But then Rivers brought the starters back in to finish the game and someone asked if it was a message, which it was, to a point. But the important thing was it wasn’t a hidden message.
“I thought they hadn’t played well enough to sit,” Rivers said. “So that’s really why I played them, because I just didn’t think they had played well enough to sit. I thought they needed to play.”
To say NBA players appreciate such candor is a little like saying LeBron James gets some calls. It’s part of the reason why Rivers relates so well to a team full of veterans and young players with their heads in the right place. Take Powe, a thoughtful young man who hasn’t had to endure Moore’s vagabond life to appreciate life in an NBA locker room devoid of the usual craziness.
“It makes it easier for us,” Powe said. “It makes it easier to focus on basketball. That starts with the head man and his character. It trickles down to the veterans and then down to the young guys. KG, Ray and Paul showed us and now we’re showing the young guys how to act on and off the court.”
Or take Kendrick Perkins who has developed under Rivers and his staff into a very good NBA big man. “He’s great,” Perkins said. “Not only does he help the team, he’s helped me a lot. He’s not only a good teacher on the court, but off the court too. He’s got a really good mind for basketball, he puts his time in. The thing about Doc that most coaches don’t do is, he’s open. It’s not always his way. He’s open to suggestions. You don’t find that too often.”
Rivers was asked before the game if the injuries have been a challenge for him this year. “I don’t know,” he said. “I guess it’s a challenge. For me you grab the numbers you have and you make do with what you have. It’s become more difficult because you would like to get your rotation in your mind set for the playoffs.”
The injuries and the lack of practice time have forced Rivers and his staff to adjust on the fly, often during games. He hit on having Stephon Marbury and Eddie House handle the backup guard minutes, but he’s still working through how best to use Tony Allen and how his big man combinations will play out once Garnett comes back.
Those are tough decisions and bound to leave somebody feeling left out, but don’t count on anyone complaining to the press about it because 1) that’s not the way things are done with this team and 2) everyone in the locker room will know why the coach is doing what he’s doing and they will respect it.
“We’re a pretty open team,” Perkins said. “When we have a problem we deal with it. We don’t have to go to the media. That’s one thing Doc stresses.”
Rivers may not be Coach of the Year, in fact he probably won’t, but he’s done as good a job as can be expected under the circumstances and more importantly, he has his players’ trust and respect.
|04.08.09 at 9:55 pm ET|
It’s over at the Garden with the Celtics holding on to a 106-104 victory over the Nets. Things got a little tighter than they might have wanted as New Jersey got a pair of 3-point looks in the final seconds that could have won the game, but both Vince Carter and Devin Harris’ shots were off the mark.
Rajon Rondo led the way with 31 points, nine rebounds and five assists. With the win the C’s stayed a game ahead of Orlando in the race for second place (The Magic held off Memphis) and kept Cleveland from clinching the top overall seed for at least one more day. One Cavalier win, or Celtics loss, will give Cleveland the No. 1 seed.
|04.08.09 at 9:20 pm ET|
With about two minutes left in the third quarter, Tony Allen announced his return to the Celtics (officially) with your standard-variety alley-oop reverse jam. Allen took the pass from Ray Allen on the break and brought the Garden crowd to its feet with one of the best Celtic dunks of the season. (Personally, I’d still take Bill Walker’s tomahawk over Darrell Arthur).
Tony Allen has put together a nice night so far with four points and three rebounds in 12 minutes of action. It’s the most time he’s seen since his return to the lineup.