|04.30.13 at 2:19 pm ET|
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 »
|04.30.13 at 2:10 pm ET|
Jason 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.”
|04.30.13 at 2:00 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett‘s mantra following the C’s Game 4 victory in Boston — “all out from here on out” — seems to be permeating throughout the locker room, if only because they have no other choice.
‘We have to bring it,” said Green, who brings a playoff average of 20.8 points into Wednesday’s Game 5. “That’s the only way we have a chance to win the game. We’ve just got to play all out.’
The Celtics have had their share of issues against the Knicks, but Green hasn’t been one of them. He’s averaging 5.8 boards, 2.3 assists and a block per game while recording a true shooting percentage of 55.
‘I’ve been working hard,” said Green. “The playoffs are where players are made, and hopefully people are starting to take notice of what I can do, but it is what it is. I know what I can do. I could care less what other people think. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m just trying to win games for my team.’
If only so he doesn’t have to answer any more questions about Garnett or Pierce.
But he’ll still have to answer plenty of questions about everything else. Here are his answers:
|04.30.13 at 1:35 pm ET|
The veteran point guard was asked before Tuesday’s practice if his 18-point performance on Sunday in Game 4 – which included a season-saving 9-0 run at the end of overtime – is a sign that his offensive game is coming around at the right time.
“I’m just feeding off the fact that I don’t want to go home right now,” Terry said. “I feel like we have a lot of basketball left with this particular group. If we win, we get another opportunity to come back here and play another game.
“We just know that if we can score 90-plus points, we’re going to have an opportunity to win. We’ve doing a decent job defensively of holding them under their season average but offensively, we’ve struggled. We started to get a little bit of a breakthrough the last game. Hopefully, the floodgates will open and we’ll have one of those performances.”
Indeed, the Celtics scored 97 points in Sunday’s 97-90 Game 4 win, though they needed 53 minutes to reach that figure.
“It’s just staying persistent, staying in the moment and knowing every possession is critical,” Terry said. “You can’t turn the ball over. That’s been a struggle for us this series. If we don’t turn it over, we stay persistent and keep defending the way we are, we’re going to have a great chance shot to win the game.”
Is that Terry’s veteran message to other Celtics?
“This is what I’m saying,” Terry said. “This is my approach. If it feeds on to them, hopefully, it does. If it doesn’t, I still have to go out and play like that for myself to be right.”
Of course, Game 5 in New York will be a hostile environment. Some – like Kenyon Martin predicted on Monday – might call it a funeral for the Celtics season. It was Martin who suggested everyone at Madison Square Garden wear black for the occasion. Read the rest of this entry »
|04.30.13 at 11:57 am ET|
WALTHAM — While his teammates waxed poetically about the focus necessary to win Wednesday’s do-or-die Game 5 against the Knicks in New York, these are the socks Celtics guard Jordan Crawford chose to wear to practice on Tuesday. They have marijuana leaves on them. Nothing says playoff intensity like weed socks.
|04.30.13 at 9:52 am ET|
Collins, a 12-year NBA veteran who started the season with the Celtics and was traded to the Wizards in February, revealed Monday that he is gay. The support from people in and around the league was immediate and impressive.
“I expected every player to publicly support him, certainly the league to support him,” Van Gundy said. “I think the question that remains is privately, when you get behind the locker room doors, or they’re in their rooms in the hotels, what do they say then? Because everyone’s aware player-wise that to do like what [Dolphins wide receiver] Mike Wallace said yesterday, there’s going to be major repercussions. But to think that some players don’t have those similar thoughts but just won’t publicly express them is a bit naive. I think if Collins is on a roster next year, I think the public support will always be there. Privately, I think there will still be some ignorance to his situation.”
Collins is being heralded as the first active player in major team sports to come out. However, Van Gundy isn’t so sure Collins, a free agent, will be playing next season.
“The big issue whether Collins gets signed next year or if he’s not signed is going to have nothing to do with his sexual orientation and everything to do with his diminishing skills and athleticism,” Van Gundy said. “He’s a marginal NBA player right now, at best.”
The Celtics head back to New York for Wednesday’s Game 5 as heavy underdogs as they look to extend the series.
“I just think that the Celtics, are they going to be able to find enough offense over the next three games to legitimately put pressure on New York,” Van Gundy said. “Certainly if they win Game 5, anything becomes possible then because then you just have to win one home game to get to the ultimate Game 7. But when I see them, their guard struggles are so dramatic without [Rajon] Rondo that it’s difficult to create quality opportunities in the halfcourt. I think it will be even more so on the road.
“The thing that’s been overlooked is the first two halves of the games in New York, Boston was great. So many people have been focusing on what was wrong in the second halves, and I think it’s a talent issue, they just don’t have enough offensive talent with the loss of Rondo and Ray Allen from last year. But if they can stay in a faster-paced game, like they can get that ball and advance it and attack before the Knick defense gets set, then we’ve seen how effective Jeff Green can be in that type of game, [Paul] Pierce can hit some trail 3’s. I just think they have to play with pace and offensive energy. And if they can do that, their defense should be able to limit New York. They’re still an excellent defensive team.”
|04.29.13 at 2:52 pm ET|
Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy, who roomed with former Celtics center Jason Collins at Stanford University, issued the following statement about his friend’s decision to come out as the first openly gay athlete in any major American sport:
‘For as long as I’ve known Jason Collins he has been defined by three things: his passion for the sport he loves, his unwavering integrity, and the biggest heart you will ever find. Without question or hesitation, he gives everything he’s got to those of us lucky enough to be in his life. I’m proud to stand with him today and proud to call him a friend.’
Kennedy played a vital role in Collins’ decision to write a Sports Illustrated article announcing his sexuality. Here’s what Collins said about his Cardinal roommate:
I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn’t even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I’d been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, “Me, too.”
The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn’t wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully? When I told Joe a few weeks ago that I was gay, he was grateful that I trusted him. He asked me to join him in 2013. We’ll be marching on June 8.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton declared on Twitter, “I’m proud to call Jason Collins a friend,” in addition to issuing the following statement on his website: