|04.06.13 at 12:29 pm ET|
Just over 12 hours after a humbling loss to the Cavaliers at the Garden, the Celtics got a boost at practice in Waltham when Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce returned from separate foot injuries.
Garnett has missed the last eight games due to inflammation from bone spurs in his left ankle. The Celtics have gone 3-5 in his absence as they look to lock up the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and avoid the Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
“I’ve never come into postseason 100 percent, so it’s nothing new,” Garnett told reporters. “But I do want a rhythm. I don’t want to go into the postseason and have no rhythm. I want to be healthy. That’s my first priority.”
Garnett said when and how much he plays in the final six games will be decided after a discussion that includes himself, coach Doc Rivers and medical staff.
“I’m going to practice today and Doc and I will have a conversation and make some decisions for the future.”
Avery Bradley, however, did not take part, as he was still nursing soreness from taking an elbow to his left collarbone from Kyrie Irving in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game.
Rivers told reporters before Saturday’s practice that he anticipates Bradley would be available for Sunday’s game against Washington but would not predict anything further, adding, “you just never know.”
Pierce missed Friday’s game due to soreness and swelling in his right ankle, which first cropped up in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s loss to the Knicks in New York, when he was spotted with a wrap on the ankle.
Pierce missed Monday’s game in Minnesota due to the birth of his first son, Prince Paul Pierce before returning on Wednesday in a win over Detroit. Pierce was held out of Friday’s game by Rivers on the advice of trainer Ed Lacerte.
|04.06.13 at 11:10 am ET|
With injury comes opportunity. It’s one of the oldest cliches in sports.
It’s also an interesting thought when considering the options in front of Doc Rivers as he tries to ready his Celtics for another playoff run.
Has the play of someone like unheralded power forward Shavlik Randolph opened Rivers’ eyes and those of the coaching staff enough to warrant serious consideration in the playoff rotation?
After a career-high 16 points and seven rebounds, providing the only real energy off the bench in Friday’s loss to Cleveland, Rivers was asked where Randolph fits in during the playoffs, when benches are shortened and playing time is at a premium.
“I don’t know,” Rivers said. “He’s playing great. Just leave it at that; he’s just playing great basketball and we’re going to keep playing him.”
“I was just rolling to the basket and guys were finding me,” Randolph said. “It’s simple as that, I was getting good passes. Putting me in positions where I could finish around the rim. I wasn’t really making any tough shots. My teammates were finding me.”
On the surface, that sounds like the coach is hedging his bets on whether there will be any time at all for the Duke product, considering if Kevin Garnett is healthy, Wilcox heads back to the bench and Rivers already has Brandon Bass already starting on the front court.
In eight games without Garnett, Randolph has averaged just over five points and 4.5 rebounds while playing about 13 minutes per game.
“Well, it’s the mindset I’ve had probably for the past six or seven games,” Randolph said. “I know I’m going to get in there at some point. I just have to play as high energy as possible, you know come in with that second unit and make sure that the energy doesn’t drop off from the starting unit. You know that’s what I’ve tried to do since I got here.”
He certainly didn’t get the benefit of the doubt on calls Friday night, when he fouled out with six minutes left.
“You know, just try to keep my composure,” he said. “In a game you’re not always going to agree with the calls, that’s just the nature of the game. You just got to keep playing. If you foul out, then you just try to cheer your teammates on. You know, that’s what I tried to do.”
Does he think he’s shown enough on and off the court to warrant serious playing time in the playoffs?
“That’s a great question. All I know, is I’ll be ready, regardless. I’ll be ready to go in, regardless of what my role might be.”
|04.06.13 at 1:39 am ET|
Not that there was much of a doubt to begin with but Doc Rivers made it very clear after Friday’s 97-91 loss to the Cavaliers (which snapped Cleveland’s 10-game losing streak) that he wants no part of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
Thanks to the Bucks loss in New York to the Knicks Friday night, the Celtics (39-37) are two games up in the loss column on Milwaukee for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with just six games left.
Does he pay attention to the standings?
“I do but I don’t,” Rivers said in his best hedging language. “I really don’t. I know we’re in the seventh spot. I know we want to stay out of the eighth spot.
So, Rivers is actually admitting he wants avoid the Heat?
“Of course we would,” Rivers admitted when asked that very question. “But if we play them, we’ll be ready. But of course we would. Listen, I’m not that dumb. I’m not the brightest guy but come on. Really, you would love to avoid anyone [like Miami]. Listen, no matter who we play, we’re going to play a tough team. It’s going to be New York, Indiana or Miami. There’s no cakewalk for us. It’s going to be hard.”
To Rivers point, the Celtics are 1-3 this year against New York, 1-2 against Miami and 2-0 against Indiana. The Celtics play the Heat next weekend in Miami and the Pacers at the Garden on April 16.
Rivers was asked if he’s going out of his way to avoid playing his stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to get them as physically ready for the playoffs as possible. But Rivers said trainer Ed Lacerte took that decision out of his hands just before Friday’s game.
“No, I wanted Paul to play [against Cleveland] but he couldn’t, honestly,” Rivers said. “I would’ve played him if he could have. But right [before game] when Eddie said Paul’s [ankle] was swollen, that was an easy decision.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted after Friday night’s 97-91 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden that he is watching the standings and wants to avoid finishing eighth in the Eastern conference and a first round match up with the defending world champion Miami Heat. Rivers however stressed that whoever the Celtics face if it’s the Indiana Pacers or New York Knicks, it will be a tough matchup.
|04.05.13 at 11:19 pm ET|
With just over three minutes left in Friday’s ugly loss to the Cavaliers at TD Garden, things appeared to be getting a whole lot uglier for the Celtics.
Avery Bradley left the court with trainer Ed Lacerte holding his left shoulder.
Bradley had surgery on both shoulders last summer, delaying his return to the Celtics until January this season.
But as it turned out, Bradley was examined and returned to the bench late in the fourth quarter. Doc Rivers said he could’ve returned if absolutely necessary.
So, what was it that caused many Celtics fans to skip a heart beat?
He was elbowed in the collarbone by Kyrie Irving.
“I think he’s fine,” Rivers said. “I think it was more the hit. I was concerned when he grabbed his shoulder that it was his shoulder, and Kyrie informed me that he shot him with an elbow; it had nothing to do with the shoulder. So, I told Kyrie, ‘Thank you for the update.’”
Bradley admitted after the game that he was sore but it’s nothing to be concerned about.
“It hurts, but I’ll be fine,” Bradley said. “I get injured all the time, I’ll be alright.”
Most importantly, he confirmed that it wasn’t his shoulder.
“No, not at all,” Bradley said. “Just my collarbone. He came, went to the basket, came down, and elbowed me right on my collarbone. It’s just a little swelling.”
“No, when that happens you just have got to keep playing.”
Was Bradley aware he gave Celtics fans a scare?
“Yeah, I know, me too,” Bradley said. “But I’m fine.”
|04.05.13 at 9:55 pm ET|
Life without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett was ugly Friday night. Very ugly.
Second-year big man Tristan Thompson scored 29 points and grabbed 17 rebounds while the Celtics went ice cold in the second half and fell to the lowly Cavaliers, 97-91, Friday night at TD Garden. Pierce missed the game with a sore right ankle while Garnett missed his eighth straight game with inflammation in his left ankle. Cleveland won two of the three meetings this season between the two.
The Cavaliers used the Celtics to snap their 10-game losing streak while Boston fell for the third time in four games. The Celtics fell to 39-37 on the season but did not lose any ground on eight-place Milwaukee, which lost to the Knicks in New York. Boston remains in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, two games ahead of the Bucks in the loss column. Boston has six games remaining, including two games on its current four-game homestand. Jeff Green led the Celtics with 23 points and nine rebounds.
In a first half of unknown and unlikely heroes, it was Tristan Thompson became the latest opposing big man to dominate the Celtics inside. Behind Thompson’s career high in points and rebounds, the Cavaliers outscored the Celtics 52-38 in the paint and outrebounded Boston, 58-42.
Thompson, the second-year player out of Texas, scored 21 points and hauled in 11 rebounds in the first two quarters, as the Cavaliers (23-52) erased an eight-point deficit early in the second quarter, using a 10-0 run to forge a 52-52 halftime tie.
Shav Randolph had the best first half of his NBA career, scoring a career-high 13 points and grabbing five rebounds in the first 15 minutes of the game. But as has often been the case in his short stint with the Celtics, foul trouble limited his time on the court as he picked up three first-half fouls.
The Celtics built a seven-point lead, 62-55, on an Avery Bradley three with 8:13 left in the third. But then the wheels fell off as the Celtics went ice cold. Boston was just 6-for-27 (27.3 percent) from the field. Cleveland went on a 19-3 run to take a 74-65 lead before Jordan Crawford hit a three to cut Cleveland’s lead to 74-68 heading into the fourth.
But Cleveland scored the first eight points of the fourth to take a 14-point lead. Randolph picked up two fouls in a minute in the third quarter and then fouled out with 6:57 left in the fourth. Randolph finished with a career-high 16 points and seven rebounds.
Jason Terry hit a baseline three with 5:46 left to bring Boston within four, 87-83, as the crowd became a factor again. But Thompson’s put-back dunk with five minutes left answered the Celtics run, putting Cleveland back up by six.
With 3:18 left in the game and the Celtics down eight, 91-83, Bradley left the game and headed for the locker room with trainer Ed Lacerte. He suffered a bruised left collar bone and returned to the bench with two minutes left in regulation but did not play. With 2:09 left in the game Green completed a three-point play to draw Boston within four again, 91-87 but an easy alley-oop layup by Tyler Zeller and a jumper by Kyrie Irving with 1:22 left put Cleveland up, 95-87.
The Celtics are off Saturday before returning to action at home on Sunday night (6 p.m.) against the Wizards at TD Garden. Boston concludes its four-game homestand on Wednesday night. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|04.05.13 at 7:31 pm ET|
Paul Pierce will miss his second game in a week as the Celtics take on the Cavaliers at TD Garden.
This time, it will be the sore right ankle that is keeping him out of the lineup for precautionary reasons.
“I think he’ll be fine by Sunday,” Rivers said before Friday’s game.
Pierce, who missed Monday’s game in Minnesota for the birth of his first son, Prince Paul Pierce, on Tuesday night, was held out by coach Doc Rivers after Pierce complained of soreness in the foot.
Pierce was first spotted with a wrap on his right ankle in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Pierce is missing just his third game this season, having played in 73 of the previous 75.
Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett missed his eighth straight game, still dealing with inflammation and bone spurs in his left ankle. Rivers is hopeful to have him back for practice on Saturday and possibly in the game against Washington on Sunday evening.
“Most likely [he'll play Sunday] but I’m just saying that to give you an answer,” Rivers told reporters.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|04.04.13 at 1:07 pm ET|
Celtics forward Jeff Green checked in with Mut & Merloni to discuss his recent stellar play, the difficulty teams will face when playing the Celtics when Kevin Garnett comes back, and the firing of Rutgers coach Mike Rice.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Outside the Lines aired several hours of footage of Rice’s disgraceful behavior during Rutgers basketball practices, including various forms of physical and verbal abuse toward his players. Rice was fired the following day.
“You don’t want to believe it because you don’t want to see anything like that,” Green said. “He’s fired now, there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s in the past, you just got to move on from it. Coach Rice had his tactics of how he handled his players and now he’s suffering the consequences from it.
“When you’re dealing with college kids, you don’t want to kill their confidence, and I think he did that to a lot of the players with his language, his verbal abuse, and the physical abuse from pushing and throwing the ball.”
With the season-ending injury to Rajon Rondo, as well as the continued aging of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Green’s role has changed. He now is typically viewed as the focal point of the Celtics offense.
“When I first got traded here, I didn’t know my role,” Green said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what I was going to be able to do on the floor. So, compared to now, the floor’s just wide open. … I’m finding my role and I’m playing it to the best of my ability.”