Archive for May, 2011

Irish Coffee: What exactly is ‘championship DNA’?

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Probably as a Pavlovian response forced upon them by coach Erik Spoelstra, the Heat keep saying the Celtics have some mythical championship DNA lingering from their 2008 title that will make them seemingly impossible to oust from the NBA playoffs in Game 5.

  • Dwyane Wade: “That’€™s a championship team, and they play with the championship DNA that they have.”
  • Mario Chalmers: “We know they’€™ve won a championship before, and they have a championship DNA. We’€™re just trying to get there, and we want to beat them.”
  • Udonis Haslem: “We have the opportunity to close it out. It’s not going to be easy. I understand that they’ve got the championship DNA, and they’re not going to just give it to us. It’s going to be a hard-fought game.”

What, exactly, is “championship DNA”? Did the two-time defending champion Lakers have it when they were swept out of this season’s Western Conference semifinals by the title-starved Mavericks? Did the four-time champ Spurs have it this year when they lost in the first round to an eighth-seeded Grizzlies team that had never won a playoff game before?

Only five players remain from the Celtics team that won a title three years ago — albeit their best five for much of the season, until Glen Davis went missing. Like people, NBA teams get old, and they eventually pass the torch to someone with younger, stronger and/or better DNA. Someone like LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.

The sad part is that you can still extract DNA from somebody after they’re dead. But a heart is different. As long as it’s beating, you’re still alive. And the Celtics, for now, are still alive.

“This is a veteran team with a championship heart,” said the Heat’s Chris Bosh, after he helped push the Celtics to the brink of elimination in Game 4. They’re going to come out swinging in the beginning until the end no matter what the outcome is. We just have to be prepared for that. We have to use the homecourt to our advantage and just play basketball.”

So, the real question before Game 5: Is that championship heart still beating?

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Shootaround notes from the Celtics’ last stand

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

MIAMI — There was much to discuss with coach Doc Rivers prior to Game 5 of the Celtics‘ playoff series with the Heat, but the key question is: How will they perform facing elimination?

“They’€™ve got great pride,” Rivers said. “I think you’€™ll see that tonight. I think I’€™ll enjoy the way we play.”

Rivers won’t have Shaquille O’Neal, but he does expect Rajon Rondo to play. The coach said he will have a wait-and-see attitude with Rondo to see how he responds to his dislocated left elbow.

The first order of business for the Celtics is to stop turning the ball over. They had 18 turnovers in Game 4, which led to 28 points for Miami, an enormous swing considering the way both teams payed defense.

“As poorly as we played we still had a shot to win the game in regulation,” Rivers said. “But when you gift a gifted team turnovers like we did, in the playoffs you’€™re usually not going to win that game.”

Rivers expects Kevin Garnett to recover from his disastrous Game 4, when he shot 1-for-10 and was involved in a pair of breakdowns on both ends of the floor late in the contest.

“I expect the same from Kevin every night,” Rivers said. “I expect him to be great. I also understand as a coach that we’€™re coaching humans. He owns up to everything. I said all the time you can coach one guy or work with one guy in your career, you should coach Kevin Garnett at some point. He’€™s a pro’€™s pro. He understands when he plays well, and when he plays well he comes back the next day to play better. That’€™s just who he is.”

As for Glen Davis, who has struggled throughout the playoffs, Rivers sounded less optimistic.

“We need him, but he’€™s been struggling for a while,” Rivers said. “It started before the playoffs and he’€™s still in it. He had an occasional light. We’ve just got to keep going to him and see if we can get anything out of him.”

Asked whether Davis’ impending free agent status may be affecting him mentally, Rivers said, “I have no idea what’€™s in his mind. I don’€™t even want to get in there. It’€™s safer where I’€™m at.”

Shaquille O’Neal doubtful for Game 5

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

MIAMI — Shaquille O’Neal is doubtful for Game 5, and even that may be too generous of a classification. Shaq didn’t play in the second half or overtime of Game 4 against the Heat, and it wasn’t a coaching decision by Doc Rivers. It was strictly health-related.

“It was physical,” Rivers said at the team’s shootaround prior to Game 5. “Don’€™t know yet today. I will say I doubt it. That little stretch of the game it got worse.”

Rivers said that Shaq’s condition worsened in the four minutes he played in Game 4 and it doesn’t sound like he will be able to play no matter what happens in Game 5 or beyond.

“It’€™s nothing he can do. It’€™s not like he’€™s not trying,” Rivers said. “He’€™s done everything you possibly can do to get healthy. Unfortunately for him, he just hasn’€™t been able to do it. When he originally got injured no one thought it was that serious. It just never healed and it still hasn’€™t, and now every time he plays it gets worse.”

Rivers was asked whether this could be the end for O’Neal, who has a player to option to return next season.

“I think it’€™s too early to talk about it,” Rivers said. “I’€™ve learned personally you never try to make any decision during the heat of the battle. Emotionally you’€™re always going to make the wrong choice, so I think he’€™ll walk away from it this summer and then decide what he’€™s going to do. I just know this has been emotionally draining to him, more than you guys would know. He feels awful about this because this is why he came here, to get to the playoffs. Not being able to do that has really hurt him.

Rivers does expect Rajon Rondo to play with his dislocated left elbow, but he’s going into the game with the same wait-and-see approach that he had in Game 4. “I don’€™t know how much better he’€™s going to be, he is what he is,” Rivers said. “He’€™s a little better, I would guess.”

Game 5 refs: Scott Foster, Bill Spooner, Ron Garretson

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

The officials for Wednesday night’s Celtics-Heat Game 5 in Miami are Scott Foster, Bill Spooner and Ron Garretson.

All three will be overseeing a Celtics game for the first time this postseason. All three officiated one game of the Heat’s first-round playoff series vs. the 76ers.

Foster has recovered from his friendship with disgraced former official Tim Donaghy and has received key assignments from the NBA. He was part of the officiating crew for last year’s Game 7 of the NBA finals, which the Celtics lost to the Lakers.

Spooner is the referee who filed suit against Associated Press reporter Jon Krawczynski after an incident in a Jan. 24 game between the Timberwolves and Rockets. Krawczynski reported that Spooner told Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis he would “get it back” after making a bad call and then made “an even worse call on the Rockets.” Spooner sued for $75,000 and a retraction.

Garretson, the son of former longtime referee Darell Garretson, and Spooner are both Southern California natives who have officiated in the NBA for more than two decades.

Ric Bucher on D&C: ‘Athleticism has taken over this league’

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

ESPN NBA analyst Ric Bucher made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics-Heat series. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Asked if the Celtics will claw and scrape and do whatever they can to avoid elimination in Wednesday night’s Game 5, Bucher said that might be the case, but it still likely won’t be enough.

“I would certainly expect that [effort], knowing the character and the temperament of this team. I just don’t know that it’s going to matter,” he said. “We’ve seen one thing in this postseason, it’s that the athletes and athleticism has taken over this league. It’s just a matter of sort of pushing that big boulder downhill; it begins to gain momentum.

“The Miami Heat, whatever confidence they had playing against the Celtics overall, beating them on their home floor, beating them in last-minute execution just has to do wonders for their confidence. And if there was an Achilles’ heel that the Celtics had to take advantage of with the Heat, it was the fact that the Heat seemed to have a fragile psyche. And if you could get them doubting themselves, you could get that boulder rolling in the other direction. I just don’t see that happening at this point.

“Going home, I just feel like the Heat are going to come out hard, they’re going to play fast. I just don’t know that the Celtics at this point have the requisite physical ability to slow down that freight train.”

Added Bucher: “It’s hard for me, when I look at the width and breadth of this series, to make case for why the Celtics are going to get it to a Game 6, much less get it to a Game 7 and make a great comeback.”

Bucher said the lack of production from the Celtics’ bench players is something the team could not afford. “The big disappointment ‘€” and maybe it shouldn’t be disappointment, maybe my expectations were too great ‘€” Big Baby Davis, Jeff Green, Nenad Kristic, who didn’t even play in the last game, Delonte West ‘€” when those guys gave them something, as they did in Game 3, this was a different team,” he said. “Expecting those role players to give them something, to give them transcendent performances on the road just flies against history and tradition. ‘€¦ At this point, I don’t see any reason for that to change.”

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Why Erik Spoelstra and the Heat still fear Kevin Garnett and the C’s

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

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After Saturday night’s 28-point, 18-rebound performance, Erik Spoelstra called Kevin Garnett the modern-day Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

After his team found a way to hold Garnett to 1-of-10 shooting from the field and seven points in a 98-90 overtime win over the Celtics Monday night, Spoelstra wasn’t about to say he found any miraculous answer. And if he did, he wasn’t about to share it anyway.

‘€œI’€™m not going to say anything about it,” Spoelstra said. “Now he’€™s got 48 hours to gain all his fuel again and fuel him up. I’€™m sure if I actually paid attention, everybody will be saying whatever they will be saying about him.”

Chris Bosh was a big piece of the puzzle on Monday night, so was Joel Anthony, the surprise starter at center for Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

“He’€™s a champion,” Spoelstra said of KG. “I have incredible respect for him. We tried to be active defensively. We tried to not leave people on an island. I anticipate we’€™ll get their best games on Wednesday and we have to be better than that. If we’€™re real about what we want to do, we have to beat the Boston Celtics at their best.’€

All of that is well and good but Doc Rivers knows he has to have more out of KG Wednesday night in Miami if the Celtics have a prayer of chance to bring the series back to the Garden for Game 6 Friday night.

“I don’€™t know,” Rivers responded when asked if Garnett was tentative. “They trapped him a couple of times and I thought he was probably looking more for traps. We have to get him down there more; we tried. So, I don’€™t know. I don’€™t think so. I think he was looking for ‘€“ he was looking to be a passer to me more than being an aggressive scorer. And that was that.’€

Irish Coffee: Delonte West knows ‘it’s win or go home’

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

This was supposed to be Delonte West‘s season of redemption. Instead, it’s been a season of frustration.

If anybody on this Celtics team could turn to excuses, it’s West, whose series of injuries this year has kept him from assuming the role everybody knew he was capable of fulfilling when healthy. He grew up balling on the playgrounds in the Greater Washington D.C. area, developing a toughness that has prepared him to take (and make) big shots in big moments, frustrate superstars like Dwyane Wade defensively and, of course, battle injury.

And now that West has finally found his groove — scoring at least 10 points in all four games against the Heat — it might be too late. Still, trailing 3-1 and heading back to Miami for Game 5, West isn’t playing the blame game.

“It’€™s win or go home,” West said after the 98-90 Game 4 defeat. “You gotta bring it. Everybody’€™s gotta bring it, or we might as well just get some seats down at the beach and stay down there. But that’€™s not our plan.”

West could’ve made excuses when he was suspended for the first 10 games of the season on weapons charges, but instead he took it as a learning experience. He could’ve made excuses when he broke his right wrist five games after returning from suspension. Or when he chipped a bone in his right ankle three games after returning from wrist surgery.  Or when he injured his shooting shoulder in Game 3 of these Eastern Conference semifinals. But he didn’t.

“It’€™s doing a lot better,” he said. “I had it taped up. They put some type of compression sleeve on it. It feels a lot better than [Sunday] and definitely better than when I hurt it the prior game. I ain’€™t got no excuses over here.”

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