Wake up with the Celtics  and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
During the Celtics’ two days of rest before Wednesday’s practice, Kevin Garnett  got a chance to contribute to his Anta blog , focusing on Games 3 and 4 of the Knicks sweep. Here are the highlights …
Yo yo yo! We’re moving on! Great energy [Sunday] afternoon! Happy Easter to anyone who celebrates it! We needed to get this game, so we could have a couple of days to get our rest! With Miami losing, we don’t play until at least Sunday. Doc gave us two days off, so practice on Wednesday! Lots of treatment, recovery and catching up with video games.
The team played awesome! We got up early and started executing better. Baby [Glen Davis ] and JO [Jermaine O’Neal ] tightened down our defense, and Rondo made our offense go. Setting picks for the guys is my job, and as Doc says, “DO YOUR JOB!” Good picks get good shots for Ray [Allen] and P2 [Paul Pierce ]. Friday’s game they went off!!!! Yesterday, the Knicks tried to stop them, which got me looks. I was able to make shots and get rebounds. Didn’t even realize that I had 20-plus points. Team win is the only thing that matters.
That’s by far the most praise Garnett has heaped on his team’s execution, especially on the defensive end — a good sign for Round 2. It’s also nice to see Doc Rivers  borrowing the “do your job” line from Patriots coach Bill Belichick . Always loved that.
PAUL PIERCE: ‘YOU GOTTA SEND SOMEBODY A MESSAGE SOMETIMES’
To foul or not to foul, that is the question NBA.com’s David Aldridge posed . Here are the responses he got from Celtics coach Doc Rivers and several knowledgeable defensive minds around the NBA …
Paul Pierce: “We need to. A little bit more, for my taste. You gotta send somebody a message sometimes. I think we are lacking that. Nah, I’m for real on that. I was mad when ‘Melo [Carmelo Anthony] had 42 and he kept going to the hole, and he didn’t go to the ground. That’s playoffs, though. That ain’t trying to hurt nobody. It’s an unspoken rule. …
“We’re in an actual defensive system. With other coaches I’ve been with, there was no actual defensive system. One night we’d play one way and the next night we’d play another way. There was no consistency. With our club, we have that consistency each and every night. I’ve actually been on good defensive teams where it was, basically, Rucker Park. You know, you’ve got your man, whatever happens. But you notice, that’s with all the bad teams. …
“If one guy makes a mistake and he’s not in his right spot, then it breaks down the whole defense. You can have four guys that did perfect, did what they were supposed to be doing, but if one guy messes up, it breaks everybody. We’ve been playing together for a while. We know each other’s tendencies. Even when guys break the rules — I think [Rajon] Rondo probably breaks the rules more than anybody — but we give him that freedom because he’s such a good player at roaming, and stealing the ball and causing havoc. But if we haven’t played with him, it would be a problem. But since we’ve played with him, we know how to work that into the defensive system.”
Ray Allen : “When [Jeff Green ] comes out on the floor looking at the shooter (in OKC), staring him down, he might be a little bit more lackadaisical with the contest. But here, you can ask him at any given time, Doc has been on his butt about closing out too short, making sure he runs that guy off of the 3. What people don’t see is just that adjustment period, changing over in your mind the signals, the defensive calls, offensively, just the whole philosophy of how we play. And now we’re incorporating him and he’s playing a lot of minutes. So getting him to understand, to apply it in a game situation on the spur of the moment, it’s a tough adjustment for anybody.”
Doc Rivers: “Obviously, if you could play the old way, we would. What’s difficult now is the small guards are back in. Before the changes, you could take them out of the lane. But you think about the guards now, they’re amazing to guard. Taking away the touching above the free throw line has just changed the game. …
“I think it’s everybody’s defense. Thibs was huge for me. He really was. It was what we discussed, but he still had a lot of input. I don’t think it’s anybody’s. It’s all of us. You can make a case it’s Dick Harter‘s defense. (Harter, the longtime assistant coach generally regarded as one of the finest defensive minds in the game, was on Pat Riley ‘s staff when Rivers played in New York in 1992 and 1993.) You really can. We’ve changed since then, but we’re all from the same tree.”
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau : “You have to have a lot of concentration on body position. We want to play the ball well, with technique, but we’re not a passing lane, deny, steal, gamble-type team. So we play more body position-type defense. I think that helps. We try not to be reckless. I believe in pulling back your hands at the end, and when we challenge shots, we try to go straight up, straight down. I think your technique and your discipline is important, and studying, knowing your opponent — there’s a lot of guys that are great at utilizing shot fakes, both before and after the dribble — so knowing when you’re guarding those guys, at the end, not to reach in. …
“The way the play is being called now, with the guys going up under the arms, they’re getting that call. So we’ve worked on our technique with keeping the (defender’s) hand high. So it’s not in there where they can draw that foul. So I think that helps us also.”
JERMAINE O’NEAL: ‘IT’S ALL ABOUT WINNING’
In that same Aldridge piece, he sat down for a Q&A session with Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal. Here’s part of the exchange …
- DA: It’s been an up-and-down season for you, but now, what do you contribute to this team for the playoffs?
- JO: Well, originally when I signed up for this, I talked to Danny [Ainge] and Doc this summer, it was about my defensive ability. They told me right away offensively, it wasn’t going to be like what I was used to, quite used to being involved in, and that was getting opportunities quite often. And I was okay with that. I understand that at this point in my career, it’s all about winning. And you do some things that the team needs you to do, and defensively is just where I’m really comfortable hanging my hat.
- DA: Is it hard to change your identity in midstream?
- JO: To be honest, I’ve had a very up and down career when it comes to turbulence. I’ve responded every single time. Sometimes you’re given a job to do. And you may or may not like it. Sometimes your pride kicks in and you say ‘I know I can still do this.’ Do I feel like I can still score? Yeah, I still feel I can still score. But being part of something special, I would rather take that than hang on to my pride. Being a part of this, we feel like we have a brotherhood here, and I felt it even beyond basketball. I felt it when I was out, and I’ve been out for a long time, basically missed all of this year. And those guys really called me, they texted me, every day. It’s been special. So those type of situations make you want to respond to whatever the task is. And I know this city is very emotional about their sports, and the Celtics are one of those sports teams that they really want to win. To give back what they’ve been giving me when I stepped outside of my house, in those dog days — and it’s been a lot of dog days — to get an opportunity to go and give them something to cheer about, that’s what it’s all about.
MORE CELTICS DOUBTERS
First, Player X ripped Kevin Garnett , and now a few other anonymous sources can be added to the list of NBA players and executives who don’t believe in this season’s Celtics. This time, courtesy of Sports Illustrated , “one member of the Knicks’ rotationcalled Miami the best team in the conference ‘by far.’ There’s no need trying to figure out who said it, because it appears to be the majority opinion.”
If that’s not enough to add fuel to the C’s “Nobody believes in us” fire, there is this, too: “an Eastern Conference team executive took an informal poll of rivals about the developing postseason matchups. He said it was almost universally agreed that Boston was the top-three team that every underdog wanted to meet in the first round. ‘They don’t have a big man,’ explained the executive, ‘and they aren’t playing that well.'”