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Doc Rivers: ‘Of course’ Celtics want to avoid Heat in playoffs.. ‘I’m not that dumb’

04.06.13 at 1:39 am ET
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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.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Indiana Pacers, LeBron James

Avery Bradley: ‘Just my collarbone… I’ll be fine’

04.05.13 at 11:19 pm ET
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It was a bruising night for Avery Bradley in a Celtics loss to Cleveland. (AP)

It was a bruising night for Avery Bradley in a Celtics loss to Cleveland. (AP)

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.”

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Kyrie Irving, NBA

Running on empty: Cavs outmuscle shorthanded Celtics

04.05.13 at 9:55 pm ET
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Jordan Crawford (27) and the Celtics were off balance and off their game Friday night without captain Paul Pierce. (AP)

Jordan Crawford (27) and the Celtics were off balance and off their game Friday night without captain Paul Pierce. (AP)

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.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett out for Celtics against Cavaliers

04.05.13 at 7:31 pm ET
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A sore right ankle kept Paul Pierce out of action Friday night against Cleveland. (AP)

A sore right ankle kept Paul Pierce out of action Friday night against Cleveland. (AP)

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.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA, Paul Pierce

Jeff Green on M&M: ‘I’m finding my role’ with Celtics

04.04.13 at 1:07 pm ET
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Jeff Green

Jeff Green

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.”

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Read More: Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett, Mike Rice, Paul Pierce

Doc Rivers on D&C: Jeff Green ‘starting to take off’

04.04.13 at 10:05 am ET
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Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers

Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and talked about the final month of the regular season, the Mike Rice controversy at Rutgers, and how he almost played for Bobby Knight at Indiana.

The Celtics clinched a playoff berth Wednesday with a 98-93 victory over the Pistons. Jeff Green scored 34 points and hit a key 3-pointer in the final minute, continuing his resurgence after sitting out last season following heart surgery.

“He missed a year last year. You just don’t walk back on the court and play well, especially with the injury that he had,” Rivers said. “I just think it took some time. This is the next phase of his career, and he’s starting to take off.”

The Celtics head into the home stretch of the regular season looking to take advantage of some well-timed off days.

“This is a great stretch here,” Rivers said. “I hope we can really improve out team over this next week, because we practice [and] days off. So it’s a pretty good stretch here for us to try to get some improvement in.

Kevin Garnett remains out with an ankle injury, but Rivers said he expects the team’s inspirational leader to return in time to get some games under his belt before the playoffs.

“He’ll play soon,” Rivers said. “I don’t know if he’ll play Friday, but I think he’ll be playing pretty soon.”

The big news in the basketball world this week was the reaction to the videotape of since-fired Rutgers coach Mike Rice abusing players in practices.

“I did see the video and it was just shocking,” Rivers said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that in any practice that I’ve been in. … I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Added Rivers: “I don’t know coach Rice at all. But obviously I think when he saw that, you understand that he probably changed as well, which is a good thing for him. But that was hard to watch. And I just felt for those kids. Because the college kids, they go to college and their careers are in coaches’ hands. So, they will not complain no matter how bad things are, because they all have this dream of making it to the NBA, and they don’t want to be they guy, that guy that started a scandal and get the black mark. So, they can really be taken advantage of. In that case, they were.”

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Read More: Bobby Knight, Doc Rivers, Isiah Thomas, Jeff Green

Jeff Green and Paul Pierce: ‘We’re two lethal threats’

04.04.13 at 1:19 am ET
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Jeff Green has earned a starting spot on the Celtics.

He’s been downright dominant offensively in 11 spot starts for a resting Paul Pierce and an injured Kevin Garnett, so come playoff time, all three should be in the starting lineup. Even Celtics coach Doc Rivers seemed to concede that it’s “very possible” Green and Pierce start on the wings once Garnett returns.

“We’re playing off each other,” said Green, who scored 34 points to go with Pierce’s 17 in a 98-93 win over a Pistons team that had no matchup answers. “We’re two lethal threats on the perimeter and in the low post, so teams have to make a decision on how they want to play us. Either one of us is going to have a nice matchup.”

Added Pierce: “You’ve seen a lot of flashes of that this year. A lot of teams come into these games really focused on what I’m trying to do in the scouting report. When you’ve got a guy like Jeff who can put up big numbers like that and take over a game, it’s fun. It’s fun to watch and be a part of.”

In the final 9:06 of a game that shouldn’t have been so close, Pierce and Green scored 17 straight points until a pair of Jason Terry free throws sealed the deal in the final seconds. Green scored 11 of the C’s final 13 points. But don’t confuse his aggressiveness in Garnett’s absence a passing of the torch just yet.

“I’m not trying to take over games,” said Green, who added five boards and four blocks. “That’s why we’ve got The Truth. I’m playing off of him. We’re looking for each other. We’re being aggressive. If it’s in my hands, I’m trying to make a play. If it’s in his hands, he’s going to make a play, so we’ve just got to play off each other.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett, NBA
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