Archive for September, 2010

Training camp report: Good times

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

NEWPORT, R.I. — Day three at Salve Regina and things remain loose for the Celtics at training camp. Nate Robinson spent the last half-hour of the session wearing Shaquille O’Neal’s size 22 sneakers, running sprints and trying to dunk (funny for the first five minutes, then it turned into a fake-laugh fest. Also wearing sneakers three times your size is probably not the best way to avoid an injury). A fan — a dead ringer for Frenchy from “Goodfellas” — somehow walked into a back door to the gym and was met by Shaquille O’Neal and Kevin Garnett, who both hugged and danced with the guy for about 30 seconds. It’s been that kind of scene so far at Rodgers Recreation Center.

“A lot of personality in our practices, I can say that,” Doc Rivers said Thursday.

“Really, really loose and fun,” said Ray Allen. “But we know when that has to end.”

“Chemistry has been very good, needless to say,” said Garnett, who later added. “It’s a loose environment around here. That’s until we hit the floor and all hell breaks loose.”

DOC WILL LET AUSTIN HAVE THE STAGE

Rivers wouldn’t exactly confirm reports that his son Austin — considered to be the top high school player in the country by many — has committed to Duke, but he got about as close as you can without actually confirming. Make sense? How about I just give you the quote:

“He’s leaning there [Duke],” said Rivers. “Most likely he’ll commit in the next few days, but it’s not official yet. I’ll wait and let him do it.”

YOUR DAILY DOSE OF SHAQ

Local TV Guy: Hey Shaq, get a chance to hang around Newport at all?

Shaq: I went to the Barking Crab — I got the fish, went around the other day, looked at a couple of the yachts. Tried to steal one but I couldn’t find the keys.

Local TV Guy: You know how to drive a yacht?

Shaq: Of course. What do you think?

SO THAT’S WHY ‘SHEED RETIRED

Rivers was asked about the new guidelines for technical fouls. This season, referees have been instructed to call a T for making aggressive gestures anywhere on the court, hitting his own arm to demonstrate how his was fouled, running at a ref to complain about a call and excessive inquires, even if there is no yelling or foul language.

“We’re going to set the record this year,” joked Rivers about his team, who have led the NBA in technical fouls in each of the last two years. “Last year we fell short of the technical record, we’re going to go get it this year. Gotta have a go.”

Rivers said that he hadn’t talked about the new rules yet with his players, instead choosing to wait for the league officials to show the tape that will demonstrate what is no longer permissible.

LAST MAN OUT

Same as Tuesday and Wednesday, Delonte West was the last Celtics player to leave the gym, shooting jumpers a good 20 minutes after most of his teammates had left.

(Paul Flannery has a look at what is really a mulligan for Delonte in Boston this year.)

SOMETHING MAYBE ONLY I CARE ABOUT

Always wondered if it peeved O’Neal that Christian Laettner was the college player chosen for the Dream Team in 1992. This was a chance to play with Bird, Magic and Jordan, after all, and a case could have been made that Shaq was more “Day One” ready for that level of play. So, 18 years later, I have my answer:

“Coming out of college Laettner was probably a better player than me. I was more dominant. A lot of guys are masters at certain things, Christian Laettner was a fundamental [expletive, something about a mother if memory serves]. But I was more dominant, I was more mean. I wanted to be picked, yeah. But no one told me, I don’t even know if I was next after Laettner. I was just at home one day and my dad came in pissed. He broke a lamp and said ‘How’d they pick that [same expletive] over you?’ I was like ‘What are you talking about?’ He said ‘They picked Laettner over you.’ He was pissed. But it was cool. I was happy to be picked for Dream Team 2 and keep it going.”

The Celtics Film Crew

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

I guess this is just Nate being Nate. Nate Robinson continues to keep Celtics practices loose, posting on his Twitter account this video of him dunking on Shaquille O’Neal. He also gave us footage of him walking in Shaq’s shoes and a Kendrick Perkins/Shaq dance-off. I don’t know about you, but Perk looks pretty nimble here. Also, Paul Pierce posted a video of Nate trying to guard Delonte West in Shaq’s shoes.

Austin Rivers commits to Duke

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Celtics coach Doc Rivers‘ son, Austin Rivers, the No. 1 high school basketball recruit in the Class of 2011, has committed to Duke University, according to ESPN.com.

“He picked Duke because of [Mike Krzyzewski] and his staff,” his high school coach, David Bailey, told the website. “There is a ton of tradition at Duke, and it was the best place for him from a basketball and academic standpoint.”

The 6-foot-4, 189-pound Rivers averaged 24.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game for Winter Park (Fla.) High last season, capturing ESPN RISE National Junior Player of the Year honors.

Rivers on D&C: ‘Let’s do it year to year’

Thursday, September 30th, 2010
Doc Rivers (AP)

Doc Rivers (AP)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show to talk about the upcoming season. Rivers discussed a number of topics, including the early odds that he wouldn’t be back in Boston after last season, and how the new additions will help the team.

“The last three years have been a joy,” Rivers said. “I’ve been allowed to coach. I’ve been allowed to tell them to do things. They’ve done them, and so when you get a group like that you want to extend that group. Now we’ve added some more guys; Shaq, Jermaine, and I’m hoping they’re the same way, and I think they will be.”

[To hear the full interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.]

Odds were that you wouldn’t be back as coach after last season. What changed in the offseason that made you want to come back?

Well, I just delayed it for a year. Honestly guys, I had shipped my car home, most of my clothes home, so at that point, you were right. The reason I kept saying I can’t a decision doing this in the year, is because it’s too emotional, number one, you’re too close to it. Getting away was good for me, it was good for my family.

We’re sitting around, and the two kids are in high school, and the first thing they said was, ‘Listen, this is not on us, number one. And you’re a coach, that’s what you do.’ My young one was the best, he actually said it. He said, ‘I can’t imagine you leaving the group that you have.’ He said I would feel awful about that if you left Kevin Garnett and that group.

And my wife thought the same thing, so that part of it was easy. And then the second part for me, was do you want to come back and do it? I love what I do, I love the guys that I coach, and you guys have been around this longer than me I’m going to say. You don’t get special groups a lot when you’re a coach, and you should try to extend it as long as you can.

The way Danny [Ainge] has lined things up, it seems players have been signed for two years for the most part. You’re just talking about one year.

Yeah, you know, I told Danny and them, I didn’t want to go through the extension and walk away. I said let’s just do it year to year. That’s what it’s going to be anyway. The risk is on me, really. It’s not them. You know, Wyc [Grousbeck] and the owners, they offered a long deal, and it wasn’t anything that I didn’t like, it was great. I just thought it would be right by them to not walk out of a deal. I thought it would be better to just do a year-to-year deal. (more…)

Celtics: Irish Coffee

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

It’s becoming fairly clear that Nate Robinson enjoys pranking his teammates, especially Shaquille O’Neal. This time, he’s seen with Paul Pierce, pouring a ton of salt into a glass of water before handing it to an unsuspecting Shaq. The Big Shamrock’s reaction is priceless. It’s stuff like this that builds camaraderie, and I’m all for it.

NBA rule changes?

The NBA is trying out a number of potential rule changes in the NBA Development League–with an eye towards adding them at the top level in the near future.

The biggest change? Potentially allowing defenders to knock a ball away while its on the rim, a huge change from the current goaltending rule, which forbids players from touching the ball while its in the cylinder. Just for the record, this is a terrible idea. I mean, I even dominated when we lowered the rim in our backyard and allowed goaltending. Can you imagine how good Bill Russell would’ve been?

The other potential rule change? Three-minute overtimes, as opposed to the current five-minute system. Another awful idea. I have trouble doing anything in three minutes, let alone playing the most important part of a basketball game. Is there anyone out there thinking, “You know what, I’d watch this overtime if it were three minutes. Five minutes? That’s much too long for me.”

Salary cap issues hit hard

Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis was fined $100,000 by the NBA for saying that he expects the league to adopt a hard salary cap, much like the one currently in place in the NHL.

“In a salary cap era–and soon a hard salary cap in the NBA like it’s in the NHL–if everyone can pay the same amount to the same amount of players, its the small nuanced differences that matter,” Leonsis told a crowd of local business owners at George Mason University.

If the currently salary cap of $56 million were a hard cap, and teams could not exceed that limit under a number of nuanced exceptions, the Celtics would have to cut almost $23 million in salary. Essentially, they’d only be able to pay their starting five. In case you haven’t figured it out, this would be bad news for the C’s.

LeBron James: Big Baby

Ran across this picture yesterday and found it pretty funny. Nice job by this kid …

NBA Jam redux

Failed marketing and harsh criticism have led EA Sports to postpone the release of the new version of the 1993 2-on-2 NBA Jam video game, NBA Elite 11, indefinitely. The move could cost the company as much as $60 million. That’s more than the current NBA salary cap, for the math-challenged out there.

In case you missed it, EA Sports released the rosters for the game, and the Celtics are one of only nine teams that include four current players–Pierce,Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen–plus two legends (Larry Bird and Kevin McHale). ESPN.com’s Marc Stein surmised that you may be able to unlock Shaq as a hidden player. In the original ’93 version, if you’ll recall, the C’s roster featured Reggie Lewis and McHale.

Let me ask you this: How does EA Sports screw up a 2-on-2 basketball game? The original version was probably the greatest video basketball game ever (other than maybe Double Dribble), so why not just update the graphics and players, and move on. That would be too simple.

NBA Power Rankings, 9/30

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

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Los Angeles Lakers1. LA Lakers: They’re the two-time defending NBA champions. That should be enough. In addition to picking up one of those agitators Red Auerbach always used to talk about (Matt Barnes), they also addressed a need by adding backup point guard Steve Blake. Barring a losing streak of some sort, they’ll likely sit tight in this spot until either Miami (on Christmas) or Boston (on Jan. 30) unseats them.

Boston Celtics2. Boston: I know what you’re thinking: The Celtics are the returning Eastern Conference champions, and they added “the O’Neal brothers,” so why aren’t they No. 1? Age. If healthy, the C’s can absolutely win the title, but that’s a big “if.” Let’s not forget how Boston played during the regular season last year. If anything, this team is an even more veteran squad than the one that coasted in 2009-10.

Miami Heat3. Miami: The Heat ranked 16th on this list at the end of last regular season, and they added two guys by the name of LeBron James and Chris Bosh. I know I’ve heard those names somewhere. The biggest question facing this team is, obviously, depth, which Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller should provide. There’s a very good chance this team could rank No. 1 on this list by season’s end.

Oklahoma City Thunder4. Oklahoma City: Coming off a stellar performance in the FIBA World Championships, Kevin Durant is poised for a MONSTER season. And this comes after averaging 30.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game last year. He’s my pick for MVP. With a tremendous young core that includes Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green and James Harden around Durant, this team should be game for every opponent.

Chicago Bulls5. Chicago: The Bulls were dangerous two years ago, and that was before adding Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer this offseason. With Derrick Rose running the point, and one of the best post tandems in the league-Boozer and Joakim Noah–this group can compete with anybody. New head coach Tom Thibodeau will make sure that they will compete with everybody.

(more…)

Training camp report: Getting defensive

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
Tom Thibodeau is gone but his defense remains. (AP)

Tom Thibodeau is gone but his defense remains. (AP)

NEWPORT, R.I. — A day after working through sweltering conditions at Salve Regina, a bit of normalcy returned to the Celtics on the second day of their workouts. Doc Rivers felt that it was a good, crisp practice and the focus was on–what else?– defense.

Tom Thibodeau is no longer with them, having left to coach the Bulls, but don’t expect the Celtics to change much defensively.

“We’ll keep it the same,” Rivers said. “Thibs and I toward the end of last year wanted to make some changes, but it was in the middle of the year so we decided not to. So we’ll make those changes now as a group. Other than that there will be very few changes.”

There are two points of emphasis for the C’s in camp. They want to lower their opponents field goal percentage and pressure the ball fullcourt. The two things are related.

“We went from No. 1 in field goal percentage defense to No. 9 last year,” Rivers said. “We want to get that back to No. 1. We have to pressure more. Our first year and a half we pressured the ball up the floor. Kevin [Garnett] was up the floor pressuring. Due to Kevin’s injury we got away from that completely.”

Garnett looks healthy in the early days of camp. “Night and day,” is how Rivers put it. “He’s explosive again, especially defensively.”

Without fullcourt pressure, the Celtics gave teams the whole 24 seconds on the shot clock to get into their offense and that left them defending for 18-19 seconds in the halfcourt. Rivers wants to see that down to 12-14 seconds.

“We really didn’t pressure the ball up the floor,” Rivers said. “You got [Rajon] Rondo on the floor and Kevin to shadow and we couldn’t do it last year. That’s a huge concession for our team.”  (more…)