Archive for December, 2011

Practice Notes: Green sighting, KG on his future & mentoring, Opening tip looms

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

WALTHAM — Less than a week after finding out he would need season-ending surgery to deal with an aortic aneurysm, Jeff Green was taking jump shots after practice.

The Celtics are insistent that Green is still part of the organization even though he will not play this season. “Jeff doesn’t have to be here,” coach Doc Rivers said. “Jeff wants to be here. He is part of our culture and our family.”

Jeff Green was at Celtics practice Thursday (Courtesy NBA.com)

Green is scheduled to have surgery January 9th. Kevin Garnett was happy to see Green at practice, but asked that people respect his family’s privacy. “What he’s about to go through, none of us have been through,” Garnett said. “It’s definitely life changing. We don’t know what the future holds in all of this, but it’s good having him around as a young brother that he is to us. We wish him the best.”

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NBA Offseason Review: Southeast Division

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Given the drama (and comedy) that was the NBA lockout, the ensuing free agency frenzy and the vetoed trade by a commissioner of a group of owners who was acting as the general manager of an individual team that is owned by that same group of owners, it’s easy to get confused about who landed where. This is the fourth of six daily division-by-division reviews leading up to opening day.

NBA Offseason Review: Pacific Division
NBA Offseason Review: Northwest Division
NBA Offseason Review: Southwest Division

MIAMI HEAT

2010-11 record: 58-24
2010-11 standing: Won Southeast Division; lost NBA Finals to Mavericks, 4-2
NBA draft picks: 28. Norris Cole
Key additions: Shane Battier (free agent); Eddy Curry (free agent)
Key substractions: Mike Bibby (free agent); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (retired)
2011-12 starters: PG Mario Chalmers; SG Dwyane Wade; SF LeBron James; PF Chris Bosh; C Joel Anthony
2011-12 wins over/under (sportsbook.com): 49.5
2011-12 prediction: 51-15

WASHINGTON WIZARDS

2010-11 record: 23-59
2010-11 standing: 5th in Southeast Division
NBA draft picks: 6. Jan Vesely; 18. Chris Singleton; 34. Shelvin Mack
Key additions: Ronny Turiaf (trade)
Key substractions:Josh Howard (free agent); Yi Jianlian (FA)
2011-12 starters: PG John Wall; SG Nick Young; SF Rashard Lewis; PF Andray Blatche; C JaVale McGee
2011-12 wins over/under (sportsbook.com): 19.5
2011-12 prediction: 21-45

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Ian Thomsen on M&M: Expect more Rajon Rondo trade rumors

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Sports Illustrated NBA writer Ian Thomsen joined Mut & Merloni Thursday to talk about the Celtics, who open the season in New York on Christmas Day.

Thomsen said the early part of the NBA season likely will be tough to watch, following a shortened preseason.

“It will be a lot like April baseball when it’s freezing cold and no one really wants to be out there, including the fans,” Thomsen said. “And then, how many empty seats are we going to see? All the fans that didn’t renew their season tickets, not knowing what the NBA was going to be, if they were going to have a season, not knowing if they wanted to support the team even if they did come back.

“It’s going to be a lot of interesting things to watch for, and almost none of them are positive over the first month, I would say. By the end of the year, I would think the NBA’s hoping everybody forgets all about all of this. Right now, it’s just really interesting to see how it plays out.”

However, Thomsen said he can’t fault the owners for pushing to start the season on Christmas.

“I think this was the right thing to do,” he said. “People are complaining about it, for sure. … This was all part of trying to save as much of the season as they could. To me, the greater good was served by that.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On the Celtics’ near acquisition of David West and why West chose instead to go the Pacers: “They thought they were going to get him. And it would have been a huge get. Now, would he have been lost a little bit here? What was his role going to be alongside Garnett? The talk was Kevin Garnett would shift over to center and then David West would be the power forward. But everyone knows that Kevin doesn’t like to play around the basket. And even now, when Doc [Rivers] says he wants Kevin to be more of a scorer, he’s not saying he has to go inside.

“Maybe from David West’s point of view, where was he going to play? Because this was Kevin Garnett’s team. David West isn’t going to come in and take over for Kevin Garnett this year. So, what were their roles going to be? They sort of play on the same areas on the floor. Maybe that was a big part of it. Whereas if he goes to Indiana, he can take a team that’s on the rise, make them better. They barely made the playoffs last year. They should be much better this year. They have a great coaching staff. It’s not the Celtics. It’s not nearly as close as that. But maybe he can establish himself again coming off knee surgery. After his two-year deal’s up, he can go get another big contract. But they thought they had him, for sure.”

On Rajon Rondo trade rumors: “At times there may be complaints from Danny Ainge that he’s not generating it. But I think he wouldn’t be doing his job if he wasn’t generating it. He should be generating it. He should be trying to figure out what can be done to make the team better. And really, the only thing he has going for him right now is cap space, the chance to play with Paul Pierce, who isn’t going to be traded, and then the ability to trade Rondo. What else does he have? What other assets does he have? So, I think we’re going to be hearing more of it. There’s just no way around it.”

On the C’s improved depth: “It’s really not a bad bench. It compares pretty well to the other second units they’ve had. And if Jeff Green was there, it would be even better. It’s not a bunch of old guys. Keyon Dooling, Chris Wilcox, Marquis [Daniels], Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, E’Twaun Moore, who looks like he’s going to be able to play a little bit — all these guys, they can come in and do some things to help them.

“What they don’t have is size. It’s the weakest group of big men they’ve had since they brought in Garnett and Ray Allen to go with Pierce. Jermaine O’Neal has a long history of not being able to stay healthy. And Chris Wilcox is an athletic big man but doesn’t have the low-post skills you’d like to have coming off the bench. That might be an issue. Brandon Bass is height deficient like Big Baby [Glen Davis] was. That’s really going to be a problem for them. Really, the bench is OK. The problem is the age of the players that are going to define the team.”

Keyon Dooling wants his 2-year-old son ‘to play ball like Rajon Rondo’

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011


Keyon Dooling has been around long enough to let his eyes tell him what he sees while blocking out all the noise.

He’s heard all of the chatter about the limitations with Rajon Rondo (whom he calls Ray) and his jump shot. But from what he’s seen so far, up close and personal, he’s been impressed.

“I think it’s just a matter of confidence with Ray,” Dooling said of Rondo, not Ray Allen. “I think because he’s got good mechanics and he knows when to shoot. It’s just all about his confidence. He’s fun to watch.”

As a matter of fact, he’s been so enamored with Rondo that he wants his two-year-old son to model his play not after daddy but daddy’s teammate.

“I was telling him earlier that I’ve got a two-year-old son and I want him to play ball like Rondo,” Dooling said. “So, I think Ray’s going to be very important to our championship run this year.”

As for his own play, he was scoreless in 15 minutes while handing out four assists. He considers himself a “Rondo-like” leader of the second unit, and he was disappointed that the second unit let a double-digit lead slip in the second half Wednesday in the preseason finale.

“I think if you look at us, I think the thing that is apparent or obvious is that our defense is ahead of our offense,” Dooling said. “We had a spurt with our second unit that was very disappointing. So, we’ll go back to the drawing board. We’ll be in practice a little bit earlier than the rest of the guys and we’ll try and continue to build our continuity with the second unit.”

Helping along the way is, of course, head coach Doc Rivers, who pulled Dooling aside several times during a break in the action to talk over things.

“It’s been fantastic,” Dooling said after Wednesday’s scrimmage. “Doc has been great so far. I’m a guy who sits back and I just watch him, watch him work, I watch him when he’s thinking of a play, staring into space, when he’s writing down on the board what he’s saying, how’s he motivating all the guys. Doc’s a guy I just want to sponge off and learn as much as I can.”

The legend of Greg Stiemsma, Celtics player at large

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

As Celtics training camp invitee Greg Stiemsma‘s buckets started to pile up Wednesday night against the Raptors, so too did his potential nicknames. “Stiemroller” or “McStiemy” were just two of the many batted around.

Regardless, one thing is for certain: Stiemsma made a name for himself in Boston, as the Garden crowd grew louder and louder with each of his seven points (3-8 FG), five rebounds and two blocks.

“It was fun,” Stiemsma said of the fan reaction. “It’s fun to have those guys behind you. I know Boston is a great sports town. They love their Celtics. I’m just having fun out there and trying to stick around for as long as I can.”

Indeed, just how long Stiemsma sticks around remains to be seen. The Celtics could make final roster cuts as soon as Thursday, and coach Doc Rivers suggested the C’s would leave the 15th spot open for a potential free agent signing. Draft picks JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore should make the roster out of camp, so that leaves one open spot to be filled by Stiemsma, Gilbert Brown, Michael Sweetney or Jamal Sampson.

“I just hope I showed I belong, that I can play at this level and that I can help this team,” said the 6-foot-11, 260-pound Stiemsma. “Whether it’s three- or four-minute stretches or whatever it may be, in practice, whatever it is, I feel like I can step in and help them out.” (more…)

Doc Rivers on Rajon Rondo: ‘We want him to just shoot it, don’t care how many times’

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011


While Jermaine O’Neal was off getting his in-game massage, Doc Rivers was making the following observation about Rajon Rondo: the Celtics need him to shoot and score if they are going anywhere this season.

Rondo certainly didn’t disappoint in his preseason finale, making the first two jumpers he attempted on his way to 6-of-10 shooting and a team-high 17 points as the Celtics beat the Raptors, 81-73, Wednesday night.

Rondo started off strong from the floor, something Rivers is looking for this season.

“Yeah, yeah, we want him to just shoot it; I don’t care how many times he shoots,” Rivers said. “What I did like more than his jump shot was that he got to the foul line, I think six times in the first half. That’s – we need that.”

Speaking of scoring, something the Celtics are going to need lots of if Paul Pierce is sidelined with a heel problem, Kevin Garnett posted up several times in the first quarter as well as spotting up high in the Celtics offense and passing to an open teammate down in the paint.

“Well he looks good,” Rivers said. “He looked – the first couple of days he was out of synch a little bit, but now he looks great. His jumper looks good again, he’s aggressive. I like the fact that he looks more aggressive offensively, which we need him to be. He needs to be – he needs to score more this year for us. And I don’t care where it’s from. The purists are saying on the post. I don’t care if the ball goes in, it still counts as the same. Where he gets it from – he just has to be more aggressive offensively for us.”

As for the Celtics bench, it looked strong at times, led by the new Big Baby, Brandon Bass.

“You pretty much – I got a good feel,” Rivers said. “The good news is we’ve had a lot of practices. You would’ve hoped a couple of guys, honestly, separated themselves, and they didn’t. But hey, listen, we’re going to just throw them out there and hopefully someone separates themselves when the game – season starts. We may have to do a couple of positions by committee.”

Fast Break: Celtics steamroll Raptors in preseason

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (17 points, 6 assists) got the preseason Garden party started, Greg Stiemsma (7 points, 5 rebounds) kept it going and E’Twaun Moore (11 points) closed it out in a 81-73 victory against the lowly Raptors finale on Wednesday night.

Heck, C’s fans were even treated to a Michael Sweetney sighting, whose bucket in the waning moments of the fourth quarter brought the house down and signaled closing time on the preseason.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

The Steamroller: Playing for a roster spot, 6-foot-11, 260-pound Greg Stiemsma turned in what might have been his best performance since leading the Randolph High Rockets to three straight Division 4 Wisconsin state titles. In between, he’s played in renowned basketball hotbeds like South Korea and Sioux Falls, S.D. Wednesday night, Stiemsma totaled all seven of his points in the first half, garnering more applause from the Garden crowd with each bucket. Then again, the Celtics were playing the Raptors … in the preseason.

JO’s D: In limited action, the 33-year-old Jermaine O’Neal let his presence be known. Showing what Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been saying throughout training camp — that his starting center has looked better than ever in green — O’Neal owned the paint on the defensive end, blocking four shots in 11 minutes. Although, O’Neal did leave the game to return to the locker room in the third quarter never to return (with no visible injury).

Rondo’s jumper: Perhaps the most encouraging sign — and the one that could benefit the Celtics the most throughout the season — was not only Rajon Rondo‘s willingness to shoot from the perimeter, drive through the lane looking for his shot and get to the free throw line, but his ability to score in all three aspects of the game. Rondo established himself early and often as the best player on the floor, draining a couple 18-footers, getting to the line six times and totaling 17 points in 22 minutes.

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