Archive for May, 2011

Celtics look to come back for one more run

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Doc Rivers (AP)

MIAMI — It was surprising if only for the timing, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers said after his team had been eliminated by Miami that he was , “leaning heavily toward coming back,” next season.

Rivers contract is up and there has been speculation that he would take a year off to watch his son Austin play at Duke. But Rivers said that he had more or less decided to return during the last two weeks.

“I haven’t made that decision, but I can tell you I probably will [come back],” Rivers said. “I’m a Celtic and I love our guys. I want to win again here and I’m competitive as hell. I can tell you that is where I am at today. Tomorrow I may change my mind, but that’s where I’m at today.”

Unlike last season when several of their key players were unsigned, Rivers is the biggest domino for the Celtics this offseason and reaction in the locker room was overwhelmingly positive.

“I want to put this on the record, Doc already committed to me and said he was coming back so he can’t go back against his word,” Rajon Rondo said. Asked what his career would be like without Rivers, Rondo said, “I don’t even want to imagine. I really want him to come back.”

With Rivers seemingly on board, other pieces began to fall into place as well. Ray Allen, who has a player option for next season, also declared his intentions to return. “This has been my team,” he said. “I have been full steam ahead with this team. I don’t have any plans to go anywhere else.”

With Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett already under contract, the Celtics core looks like they will come back for one more run. Center Jermaine O’Neal also has a year left and he said that he felt his body would allow him to come back for one more season. “If you ask me do I think I have another year in me, yeah, I do,” he said.

The Celtics will have some decisions to make. Glen Davis is an unrestricted free agent and he may have played, and talked, his way out of Boston after an uneven playoff performance.

“You can’t just base it on just the playoffs,” Davis said. “My whole body of work I feel like I can play in this league. I can start in this league. My second year when Kevin went down my third year playing in the playoffs and this year was my best year. I just didn’t play well in the playoffs this year. Things happen like that. I don’t think this playoffs is going to hurt me as much.”

Asked if he wanted to stay, Davis said, “I have given thought about that. I love Boston and I plan on wishing I can stay. But you never know like [Kendrick Perkins] situation. He was here for eight years he wanted to stay but it just might not work my way. It’s just how it is.”

He continued, “I want to be a player in this league. I feel like I have a lot more to offer. I want to show the world my talent.”

Jeff Green is a restricted free agent, meaning the team can match any offer he receives. “There’s a lot to my game that people haven’t seen,” he said. “There’s a lot I can bring to this team.”

Delonte West and Nenad Krstic are also free agents, as are Von Wafer, Sasha Pavlovic, Carlos Arroyo and Troy Murphy. The Celtics would undoubtedly like to bring West back. Despite his struggles, Krstic does have value as big men with his experience are hard to find. The future is less certain for the other four.

Avery Bradley is also under contract and this will be a big summer for him as he tries to carve out a niche for next season. The Celtics love his talent, but he received only scarce playing time.

Glen Davis: ‘I can start in this league’

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

MIAMI — As the Celtics head to a summer with a little more certainty than last year, one of their biggest decisions will be made on Glen Davis who will be an unrestricted free agent. Davis didn’t help himself with a poor posteason, but he said again that he feels like he can be a starter.

“You can’t just base it on just the playoffs,” Davis said. “My whole body of work I feel like I can play in this league, I can start in this league. My second year when Kevin [Garnett] went down, my third year playing in the playoffs and this year was my best year. I just didn’t play well in the playoffs this year. Things happen like that. I don’t think this playoffs is going to hurt me as much.”

Asked whether he wanted to stay with the Celtics, Davis said, “I have given thought about that. I love Boston and [hope] I can stay. But you never know, like [Kendrick Perkins] situation. He was here for eight years, he wanted to stay but it just might not work my way. It’s just how it is.”

Asked what he wanted out of his career, Davis said, “I want to be a player in this league. I feel like I have a lot more to offer. I want to show the world my talent.”

Doc Rivers: ‘I love our guys’ and I’m ‘leaning heavily to coming back’

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Just minutes after being eliminated in a stunning 16-0 game-ending run in Game 5 by the Miami Heat, Doc Rivers announced that he is leaning heavily toward returning as the Celtics head coach next season.

“I’m leaning heavily to coming back,” said Rivers, who is not signed for the 2011-12 season. “I haven’t made a decision but I can tell you I probably will [return]. I’ve kind of come to that [decision] over the last couple of weeks. I’m a Celtic and I love our guys. And I want to win again here, I do. I’m competitive as hell and I have a competitive group. So, we’ll see but I can tell you that’s where I’m at today. I may change my mind tomorrow but that’s where I’m at today.”

Rivers reflected on the intense fight that his team put forward with players like Rajon Rondo, Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal battling injuries throughout the series.

“I know we gave a lot in Game 3 and I never felt like we could ever get all that effort back from all our guys and the games did come quick,” Rivers said. “I will say this, I don’t believe this team is done, though. After listening to the Lakers being broken up after they lost, I’m sure, hell, we’re all done, our team. We have to add some people but other than that, I love the guys in that locker room.”

The first major personnel decision could be what to do with Glen Davis, who is unsigned next season. Jeff Green is also a restricted free agent this summer. Shaquille O’Neal told TNT’s Craig Sager before the Game 5 that he will decide this summer if he will play again or retire.

As for the game itself, Rivers had few words for the 16-0 run that ended his seventh season in Boston.

“It happens,” Rivers said. “I’ve just about seen all of it. It’s not the way you want to end the game or the season.”

Visibly fighting off emotions, Rivers concluded the post-game Game 5 press conference by answering how much of his desire to return is tied to the fact that Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are all under contract for next season.

“Yeah, and I love them and I love the people I work for,” Rivers said. “It’s tough. So, we’ll see. That’s where I’m at today for sure.”

Fast Break: LeBron James, Heat bury the Celtics

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

A pair of 3-pointers, a fast break dunk off a steal and a driving layup by LeBron James in the final 2:10 capped a 16-0 run that gave the Heat a 97-87 victory Wednesday night and ended the Celtics season after five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Nenad Krstic scored the C’s final points of the season, with 4:28 remaining, giving the Celtics an 87-81 lead. But James broke an 87-87 tie with 2:10 remaining, and then buried a go-ahead trey with 40 seconds left after Jeff Green mishandled a poor Paul Pierce pass. After a timeout, Delonte West turned the ball over and James put the game — and the C’s season — away with a dunk and a layup seconds later.

James finished with 33 points, and Dwyane Wade had 34 for the Heat. Ray Allen led the Celtics with 18 points.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Paul Pierce’s early foul trouble: With the Celtics leading by three and James cruising for a breakaway dunk, Pierce committed a truly ill-advised foul just 5:40 into the game. Not only that, but it was Pierce’s second personal, forcing coach Doc Rivers to give him an early hook before bringing him back for the second quarter. Pierce then picked up his third foul late in the second quarter and missed the final 1:44 of the half. He never got into a rhythm and couldn’t provide any physicality on the defensive end.

Dwyane Wade’s monster first half: While the rest of his teammates made just 6-of-24 first-half shots (25 percent), Wade buried 9-of-12 from the field and 5-of-9 from the free-throw line for 23 points before the break. While the Celtics shot 52.9 percent for the opening 24 minutes, the Heat trailed by only two points (49-47) at the half — thanks to Wade and the Heat’s 23-14 advantage in free-throw attempts. Wade had 15 foul shots in all, and overall, the Heat totaled free throws 38 to the Celtics’ 20.

Rondo’s health: At one point in the fourth quarter, both Rondo and Jermaine O’Neal were receiving back treatment on the sidelines. And how could you forget Rondo was already dealing with a dislocated left elbow that left him at 50-50 prior to the game? He did not play in the fourth quarter, finishing with six points and three assists, despite a valiant effort. O’Neal also missed the final quarter, totaling just three points and two boards.

Careless turnovers: Garnett and Pierce combined for seven turnovers, and the Celtics committed 17 in all — the majority of them seemingly unforced. Down 3-1 and on the road, the C’s couldn’t afford to give the Heat that many extra opportunities.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Getting KG involved early: The Heat crowd may have arrived late, as usual, but Garnett showed up right from the opening tip. He attacked the paint and scored nine of the Celtics’ first 13 points, finishing the first quarter with 12 points, five rebounds and two steals to help the C’s grab a 24-16 before the Heat and their fans even knew what hit them. Considering Garnett’s Game 3 success (28 points, 18 rebounds) and Game 4 failure (7 points on 1-of-10 shooting), the Celtics needed Garnett to set the tone. Unfortunately, he scored three points the rest of the way.

Ray Allen gets open looks: After struggling to find space and making only 11-of-30 shots in Games 2-4, Allen got free from Wade and made 6-of-12 from the field in Game 5, including 5-of-10 shooting on some pretty wide open looks from beyond the arc (not to mention a huge four-point play). His 11 first-half points helped pick up some of the slack left by Pierce’s relative absence.

Nenad Krstic and the bench (yup, you read that right): At the end of the third quarter, Krstic buried a long baseline jumper that put the Celtics up 73-71 heading into the final 12 minutes of play. Krstic finished with eight points as the Celtics’ bench outscored the Heat’s 33-12. Krstic, Jeff Green (9 points), Delonte West (10 points) and even Glen Davis (6 points) each scored at least six points on the night.

Celtics-Heat Live Blog Game 5 from Miami

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Join WEEI.com’s Celtics beat writer Paul Flannery from Miami and Celtics writers Ben Rohrbach and Mike Petraglia for a live blog of tonight’s do-or-die Game 5 for the Celtics as they try to stay alive in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Heat.

Rivers: Rajon Rondo may be in more pain than Game 4

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Rajon Rondo

MIAMI — Rajon Rondo will play in Game 5 despite a painful dislocated left elbow, as expected, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he will keep a close watch on Rondo.

“In some way I think he’s in more pain than he was going into Game 4, but I think he at least has an idea on how to deal with it more,” Rivers said. “We’re hoping that he can give us something and if he can’t then we’ll have to make a decision on the floor.”

Rivers is most concerned about the defensive end where he feels the Heat took advantage by forcing him into difficult positions on help defense.

“A lot of times the guy that’s been in the help spot, that requires a physicality and he literally couldn’t do it,” Rivers said. “We thought it opened up too many driving lanes for them. We have to try a couple of things. First, keep him out of those positions if possible, and two he just has to do it, and if not then we have to make a decision.”

Rivers will turn to Delonte West if that’s the case who had a strong performance in Game 4. Carlos Arroyo is also active.

Shaquille O’Neal, Avery Bradley and Sasha Pavlovic are inactive for the Celtics. Even without Shaq there’s no guarantee that Nenad Krstic will see more playing time. He didn’t play in either of the last two games.

“We may shorten the rotation more,” Rivers said. “You’re always walking the fine line with Kevin [Garnett] because he’s the only guy that’s been on a minutes restriction the last two years. So, if we can keep his minutes to the right where he’s still effective we may shorten it, but if not you may see Nenad.”

For the Heat, Udonis Haslem is active again, although he may not have much of a role after his short, but eventful, stretch in his return in Game 4 when he badly missed a jumper, committed a pair of fouls and picked up a technical foul.

“The most important thing when I made the decision to activate him was because of his leadership,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Shaquille O’Neal reportedly resists statue at alma mater

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal reportedly is resisting plans by LSU to erect a life-sized statue of the 7-footer in front of the university’s new basketball practice facility.

According to the website Sports by Brooks, Shaq has donated “multiple millions” funds to his alma mater but always requested that his name not be placed on any of the new facilities he helped fund.

The website reports that the school already has competed the statue of O’Neal dunking the ball in an effort to convince him to accept the honor. There also are plans to have three other statues, representing Pete Maravich, Bob Petit and women’s standout Seimone Augustus. O’Neal reportedly has donated the money for the Augustus statue.