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NBA Power Rankings, 12/17 12.17.09 at 7:58 am ET
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1. Boston (2): Think about this for a second: Kendrick Perkins is making 65 percent of his field goals. Perk actually shoots better from the field than the line, and although I can’t precisely remember each of his 174 field goal attempts this year, I don’t remember a single bad shot from the Celtics center. The other four starters get more attention, but Perk is the perfect symbol for why this team is great: He’s not afraid to lean on you and play shut-down defense, but he also can efficiently outscore you.

2. LA Lakers (1): This team knows entertainment value: Ron Artest does interviews in his boxers and sticks up for Tiger Woods; Lamar Odom still is keeping up with Khloe (I guess I’m an optimist ‘€” I actually think they’ll make it); and Kobe Bryant breaks a finger and hits a shot at the buzzer to win in Milwaukee. We’ll know a lot more about the Lakers when they finish this current 10-game stretch, which includes seven roadies.

3. Orlando (3): I love all the Dwight Howard double-double stats. The Magic have played 25 games this year and Howard already has 20 double-doubles, including three games with 20 or more rebounds. I can’t wait to see the Magic-Celtics rematch on Christmas.

4. Atlanta (5): Interesting opinion from Brian Scalabrine: When asked which team in the league poses the biggest threat to the Celtics, he said the Hawks.

5. Dallas (6): This is how much we take the skill level of the modern player for granted: We watch 7-footers like Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett easily run up and down the court, draining jumpers, and think nothing of it. This is NOT normal. Both of these guys are freaks. I don’t give Rick Pitino props for much (and I certainly wouldn’t want to share a late-night meal with him at an Italian restaurant in Kentucky), but he was crazy about Dirk and thought the Celtics had him on the night of the 1998 draft. But Paul Pierce wasn’t a bad consolation prize.

6. Denver (4): Carmelo Anthony is an unstoppable scoring force, but Denver has to be nervous about Chauncey Billups‘ groin injury. The Nuggets have dealt with nicks and suspensions all year, but they’ll tumble if they don’t have Billups for a few weeks.

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Pierce adds injury to insult 11.27.09 at 11:06 pm ET
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Best Celtics‘ dunk of the young season? You be the judge … Paul Pierce over Toronto’s Chris Bosh in the C’s 116-103 win over the Raptors, Friday night (hat tip to Reds Army):

Danny Ainge on The Big Show 11.24.09 at 6:09 pm ET
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Celtics Executive Director of Basketball Operations and GM Danny Ainge joined the Big Show on Tuesday to discuss the Celtics’ recent play, the development of Rajon Rondo, the three-point difficulties of Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett’s recovery from injury. To listen to the interview, visit the Big Show’s Audio On Demand page.

Do you think the team’€™s recent play has anything to do with the fact the players are getting older?

I don’€™t think so, no. I think our team has played well in a lot of scenarios and I just think that we haven’€™t been as consistent. But, shooting the ball accounts for a lot. We haven’€™t been hitting a lot of fairways but we have been hitting a lot of puts. Right now we are a shot of two shots away from winning these games and we have been shooting the ball very poorly from the outside.

You can’€™t be happy with the defense thus far though?

No, I have been happy with the defense we’€™ve played in a lot of the stretch but I think we get sloppy and we get lazy and we lose our focus a little bit. Defensively, statistically we were doing well defensively.

Two things that are worrying about Rondo: lack of defensive pressure at the point and that he is not breaking down the defense quite as much. Is this the same guy we saw last year?

I think he is playing better than last year. I think his defense is significantly better than last year. I think he is not getting to the line as much but I think part of that is that we are getting the ball inside more to our post players and not relying on his penetration as much but he is shooting a much better percentage than he did last year which says he is getting to the basket more, he is just not getting to the line more. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Danny Ainge, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Rasheed Wallace
Rivers on Rondo’s Contract: ‘I Can Fine Him More’ 11.02.09 at 3:36 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo now has security in the form of the five-year deal to which he’s agreed in principle. At the same time, Celtics coach Doc Rivers also has a form of security in knowing that he will have the dynamic point guard beyond the 2009-10 NBA season. And so, Rivers felt little need to hide his enthusiasm for the deal. 

“I love it. Whenever we can lock up a player like him, that’€™s what you want to do,” said Rivers. “I said last week that I really thought he’€™d be a Celtic for life. Now, with the contract, at least for the most part of it, he will be. That’€™s a good thing.” 

That notwithstanding, Rivers suggested that the deal — which has yet to be finalized — will do little else to change the Celtics. Rondo will be treated as the same player, and the team is unlikely to view the point guard differently just because he received the lucrative deal.

“I just look at him as a player. I’€™m not going to look at him today any differently than I did yesterday. When he screws up, I’€™m still going to yell at him. I can fine him more. I guess that’€™s the good news of the contract. We treat him the same. We treat everyone the same. Our motto here is we’€™re going to coach you the way you should be someday, not the way you are today. That goes for everyone,” said Rivers. “It’€™s obviously a topic of conversation because everyone talks about it all around. It’€™s funny ‘€“ no one made a big deal of it [at practice] today. They kidded him about it. We just went about our business. That’€™s pretty much who we are.”

Rivers did not seem to think that complacency would become an issue for Rondo in light of the financial security of incredible wealth. The idea of a player achieving peace of mind through such a contract, the Celtics coach suggested, was exaggerated.

“As a player, you just play. It’€™s all within. You keep your drive. You keep pushing forward. He’€™s 24 years old. I think that is for guys, that 32-year-old age who get that last contract, that’€™s peace of mind,” said Rivers. “But at this point in his career, I don’€™t think he thinks of it that way. I think he looks at is as something I’€™ve earned, something I’€™ve worked extremely hard for, and I want a couple more of these big deals.”

Read More: Doc Rivers, Rajon Rondo,
Rondo, C’s agree in principle 11.02.09 at 8:35 am ET
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According to Jeff Goodman of WEEI.com and FoxSports.com, the Celtics and Rajon Rondo have agreed in principle to a five-year contract extension that could reach a worth of $55 million. The agreement was first reported by Yahoo! Sports. Rondo’s agent, Bill Duffy, who works out of California, was scheduled to talk again with the Celtics late Monday morning.

According the Yahoo! report, the parameters of the agreement were reached late Sunday night when Celtics general manager Danny Ainge agreed to the particulars in a late-night phone call, a day before the deadline to ink such an agreement. If there was no extension agreed upon prior to 6 p.m. Monday, the 23-year-old would have been in line to become a restricted free agent following the 2009-10 season. WEEI.com reported last week that the Celtics’ initial offer was five years and $45 million, while Rondo was looking for $60 million over the same time period. For more updates throughout the day, go to the Green Street Blog.

Related links:

Flannery: What a Rondo Deal Would Mean

Camerato: Rondo’€™s Lesson In the Biz of Basketball

Bill Simmons talks some hoops 10.30.09 at 2:11 pm ET
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Bill Simmons joined Dennis & Callahan to talk about his new book, ‘The Book of Basketball’, among other things. Here is a transcript of the conversation (To listen to the audio click here.):

(Transcript courtesy Dan Rowinski)

That is a long book.

Take your time with it. It was never meant to be a book that you read in two days or three days or whatever. It was actually kind of designed that if you want to put it next to your toilet and read it in six months, that’€™s fine.

How long did it take your to write it?

It took me three years. Actually five years from a research standpoint. But really like three solid years of watching games and taking notes and going through every NBA opinion I ever had to make sure that I did not repeat myself. Reading, I read like 100 books. I have ever NBA book that’€™s ever been written including some of the worst books you have ever seen.

Why don’€™t you just make it clear and say those books sucked?

Some of those books were good. I had a bibliography at the end and I wanted to make it clear which books helped my book and some of the books just didn’€™t help, you know?

If it took three years to write, did you ever write something in Year 1 that you ended up changing? Because I know you already changed your thoughts on who will be in the NBA Finals next spring.

Yeah, I did. I wrote the prologue in the summer of ‘€™07, before the KG trade. That’€™s when I really started writing the book. And, we had just lost the lottery and if you remember it was just so depressing to be a Celtics fans. Like, what are we going to do, are we going to take that Chinese guy where he has the workouts where he just goes against the chair. What’€™s going to happen? So, I had this whole thing that it was once great to be a Celtics fan and then the wheels came off and what’€™s going to happen now? As I was writing the book, things totally change, we win the title. That was the thing I had to change the most.

Heard you had some big book signings. Are you so big that you got Tim Donaghy’€™s book squashed because it would have been competition for you?

No, I am not big. Because if I was big that same book company would have sent me those excerpts instead of the sports blog.

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Grousbeck talks about Davis and Rondo 10.27.09 at 3:03 pm ET
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Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck just finished up an appearance on ‘€œThe Big Show,’€ and touched on a couple of topics, namely Glen Davis and Rajon Rondo (Click here to listen to the complete interview):

Grousbeck confirmed Davis suffered a broken thumb in a recent altercation. Though he did not give a specific timetable for the forward’€™s return, he did suggest that such injuries ‘€œare usually not season-threatening. … It’€™s a broken thumb. I don’€™t think it’€™s going to be that long.’€

Grousbeck did say that the team expected to ‘€œsuspend or fine’€ Davis. Noting that the 23-year-old will be out for some time, Grousbeck suggested that the Celtics planned to sit down with the player and determine an appropriate punishment. ‘€œI think we’€™re going to ask him to chip in,’€ said Grousbeck.

On why they wouldn’€™t reveal what happened: ‘€œI can’€™t talk to him. He’€™s post-operative and I’€™m getting on a plane. It’€™s just the way it is.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Glen Davis, Rajon Rondo, Wyc Grousbeck,
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