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Kevin Garnett: Rajon Rondo’s playing hurt 03.17.11 at 12:41 am ET
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Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo‘s recent struggles have been well documented. While he appeared more explosive on the parquet, he still went scoreless and rebound-less while recording eight assists  against the Pacers on Wednesday night.

That (lack of) production led to this question posed to teammate Kevin Garnett: What’s wrong with Rajon Rondo?

“Rondo’€™s playing hurt,” said Garnett. “He’€™s hurting. He’€™s giving us everything he has. He’€™s grinding. He’€™s playing countless minutes for us, and he’€™s not playing like a washed-up guy.”

Asked if he thought it was Rondo’s tweaked ankle that was giving the C’s floor general problems lately, Garnett responded curtly, “I don’t know. You’d have to talk to him.”

On a less serious note, Garnett made a fantastic comparison between the Celtics and the “Ocean’s Eleven” cast, especially upon the inevitable returns of Shaquille O’Neal and (hopefully) Jermaine O’Neal.

“You know what’€™s crazy?” said Garnett. “This is like a good movie. As a matter of fact, I’€™m going to use ‘Ocean’€™s Eleven.’ You haven’€™t seen Matt Damon. You haven’€™t seen Brad Pitt. You haven’€™t seen Bernie Mac. You’€™ve just seen [George] Clooney and a couple other guys.’€

So, which character is Garnett? “I’€™m Saul,” he said. Saul Bloom, of course, is the old pro who comes out of retirement to play a valuable role in the casino heist.

Garnett also touched on a few other hot-button topics from the Celtics’ victory …

  • On Delonte West’s return: “He’s a seasoned vet. He’s been in the thick of it. He’s been in countless playoff games. He has the experience. You kind of expect that from him. Whatever the perception is of Delonte isn’€™t the reality of what we deal with every day. He’€™s a very, very vocal guy – very smart. He definitely knows X’€™s and O’€™s, and he’€™s tough as nails. To get a guy like that back in your lineup, it makes your team better overnight.’€
  • On Jeff Green’s 19-point effort: “Jeff Green is so versatile. If you put a three on him, he’€™s too small. If you put a four on him, he’€™s too big. He’€™s too quick. He has so much he can go to, and I think he’€™s going to pick up from some of the vets and the personal parts of the game where he can make himself better. He’s an unfinished product. When he puts that all together, he’s going to be something special.”
  • On the surging Bulls: “I don’t really care about Chicago.”
Read More: Boston Celtics, Delonte West, Kevin Garnett, Ocean's Eleven
Fast Break: Celtics slow down the Pacers 03.16.11 at 10:05 pm ET
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Paul Pierce and Jeff Green combined for 39 points, and the Celtics‘ defense held the Pacers to 37.5 percent shooting in a 92-80 victory Wednesday night at the TD Garden. The Celtics (48-18), who had lost three out of four entering Wednesday night’s game, pulled even with the idle Bulls atop the Eastern Conference.

The ACC combo of Josh McRoberts and Tyler Hansbrough combined for 24 points and 22 rebounds in defeat for the Pacers (29-39), who dropped to a tie – for the time being – with the Bobcats for the eighth playoff spot.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Defense: As Sports Illustrated’s Zach Lowe noted, with the exception of holding the Bucks to a record-low 56 points, the Celtics’ defense hasn’t exactly been the shutdown brand the team’s made their bones on since The Trade.

Well, Wednesday may have been a step in the right direction, as the Celtics held the Pacers to 20 points in each of the four quarters. Through the first nine minutes of the second quarter — when they started a lineup of Green, Glen Davis, Troy Murphy, Delonte West and Carlos Arroyo – the Celtics held the Pacers to just nine points and established the lead.

Green, in particular, did a nice job on Danny Granger.

Beyond the Arc: While the Celtics shot just 15-of-35 (42.9 percent) in the first half, their 3-point shooting (5-of-8 for 62.5 percent) saved them a bit in the opening 24 minutes. Specifically, two Ray Allen treys sandwiched around a Pierce triple helped the C’s turn a 33-29 lead into a 42-31 advantage in the span of 58 seconds. They finished 6-of-10 from 3-point range.

The Thunder, up and under: Green and Nenad Krstic combined for 30 points and 10 rebounds. In fact, through the first 20 minutes of the game, Green had more points than the rest of his C’s teammates combined. At halftime, Green led the Celtics in scoring, and Krstic led them in rebounding.

Even Troy Murphy got in on the action, scoring six points on perfect shooting from the field (2-for-2) and free-throw line (2-for-2). Perhaps it was the St. Patrick’s Day luck of the Irish.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Attacking the glass: Celtics head coach Doc Rivers told reporters that Shaquille O’Neal had been doing some shooting — a sign that his return could be imminent — and the news couldn’t come at a better time. The C’s got outworked on the glass by the Pacers, who owned a 49-36 rebounding advantage (including a 19-7 edge in offensive boards).

Offensive flow: The Celtics’ offensive sets looked ugly in the first quarter, almost as if the C’s had gotten a headstart on the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Allen didn’t even attempt a shot in the opening 12 minutes, and the Celtics scored just 15 points on 7-of-17 shooting in an ugly start to the game.

The curious case of Rajon Rondo: He looked as if he’d risen from the slump that’s plagued him over the last couple weeks, but his production still was perplexing for a player who’s capable of so much more. Here’s his line: 0 points, 0 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals 2 turnovers and 1 block.

And while Delonte West made his re-re-re-debut with the Celtics, he and Carlos Arroyo did little to help Rondo on the point guard front.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, Jeff Green, NBA
Irish Coffee: Nate Dogg, the Celtics & the legend of Brian Scalabrine 03.16.11 at 2:56 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Hip-hop lost one of its best when Nate Dogg died at age 41 on Tuesday. In memoriam, I figured I’d share one of the great scenes in basketball movie history — which, of course, featured the Warren G track “Regulate” (feat. Nate Dogg) at the crescendo (and, yes, I just used the word crescendo).

For those of you who might need the back story behind this “Above the Rim” scene, it’s not too complicated …

A former high school basketball star turned janitor named Shep stopped playing when his best friend died after dunking so hard on the top of a roof that he went through the hoop and fell off the top of the building. Just your every day, typical high school stuff.

So, the janitor — clearly the city’s most eligible bachelor — starts dating the mother of the school’s next great superstar, Kyle Lee Watson. The kid gets pissed, but eventually they all make up when Shep dominates a team coached by Tupac in a blacktop tournament while wearing corduroys.

Then, Avon Barksdale from “The Wire” tries to shoot Watson and Shep only to get shot himself. Eventually, Watson wins the Big East championship for Georgetown with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer while Shep and his mom decide to watch the game on TV in a bar rather than see the game in person. Got it? Good.

Nate Dogg had plenty of NBA ties, including one with the Celtics. He appeared on the Lloyd Banks song “Warrior,” also featuring 50 Cent and Eminem. The tune included the lyric:  “‘Cause he remembers when they wouldn’t lend a helping hand ’til he was sitting on green like a Celtics fan.”

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Read More: Austin Rivers, Boston Celtics, Brian Scalabrine, Doc Rivers
Instant Replay: Top 5 Tommy Heinsohn moments 03.16.11 at 1:06 pm ET
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In honor of their 30th season calling games together, Celtics broadcasters Tommy Heinsohn and Mike Gorman will be honored prior to tonight’s C’s game against the Pacers at the TD Garden. We figured we’d go back into the Green Street archives and re-unveil the top five greatest moments of Tommy’s announcing career caught on tape. Without further ado …

5. “Wait a minute. That’s a terrible call. That is a TERRIBLE call.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Mike Gorman, Tommy Heinsohn,
Irish Coffee: Rajon Rondo & Derrick Rose’s contrasting styles 03.15.11 at 12:00 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Bulls point guard Derrick Rose has only been held to fewer than 10 points once all season — and never fewer than six. Conversely, his Celtics counterpart, Rajon Rondo, has been held to single-digit scoring 21 times in the 2010-11 season — and less than six points nine times.

Meanwhile, Rose has recorded double-digit assists just 16 times — and never more than 14. On the other hand, Rondo has produced 10 or more assists 36 times — and more than 14, well, 14 times.

To say the least, Rose and Rondo have led the Celtics and Bulls to a tie atop the Eastern Conference by playing different styles as the floor generals of their respective teams. But which is more successful?

In the 29 times since 1980 that someone has recorded at least 11 assists per game, that player has reached the conference finals nearly half the time (14-of-29). Those are favorable odds for the Celtics, as Rondo has produced 11.7 assists per game this season.

Still, only six times in that span has someone averaged 11 assists and led his team to the NBA Finals. Each time his name was Magic Johnson, who led the Lakers three titles in such seasons (1985, ’87 and ’88).

Fear not, Celtics fans, for no point guard who has averaged at least 24 points per game has even won a playoff series in the last 30 years. Michael Adams (1991), Gary Payton (2000), Allen Iverson (2005, ’06, ’08) and Gilbert Arenas (’06, ’07) have all produced 24-plus points a game as the primary point guard on their roster and never made it out of the first round.

Before you say, ‘Hey, Rose has had a better year in 2010-11 than any of those four players in those seven seasons — and he’s surrounded by better talent,’ consider Iverson’s 2007-08 season with the Nuggets:

  • Rose (’10-11): 24.7 points, 8.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 3.5 turnovers, 44.1 FG%, 33.7 3-PT FG%, 84.5 FT%
  • Iverson (’07-’08): 26.4 points, 7.1 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 3.0 turnovers, 45.8 FG%, 34.5 3-PT FG%, 80.9 FT%

I’d say Iverson’s supporting cast of Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby and a healthy Kenyon Martin are fairly comparable to Rose’s supporting cast of Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and a questionably healthy Carlos Boozer. And that Nuggets team got swept in the first round.

There’s no question that Magic’s three 11-assist championship seasons were better than Rondo’s performance this year, but would you also concede that Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and a 39-year-old Shaquille O’Neal are a better supporting cast than Magic’s 1988 supporting cast of James Worthy, Byron Scott, A.C. Green and a 41-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar that won the title?

I think I just talked myself into betting on the Celtics to win the Eastern Conference. If not, I can take solace in the fact that Brian Scalabrine would make the NBA Finals as a member of three different franchises (2002-03 Nets, 2007-08 & 2009-10 Celtics, 2010-11 Bulls).

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Derrick Rose, Kevin Garnett
Irish Coffee: Odds are, Celtics not No. 1? 03.14.11 at 11:47 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

We’re entering the home stretch of the NBA season, and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference is a definite possiblity for the Celtics. But according to John Hollinger’s NBA Playoff Odds, the Bulls have a better shot — and the Heat have almost no shot — at that top spot.

While an Eastern Conference finals Game 7 at home is an added bonus, the ultimate prize for whichever of those three teams captures the No. 1 seed is the simple fact that the other two would have to battle each other in the conference semifinals, while the No. 1 seed would face either the Magic or Hawks in Round 2 — regardless of what Celtics head coach Doc Rivers or Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau would have you believe …

Rivers: “I would like it. It’s not going to be a deal-breaker for us, honestly. I want it, though. I think it’s important. But right now I can say I’m not focused on that at all. I’m not thinking about the one-seed at all. Early in the year we were clearly thinking about it, but right now I think about getting guys back healthy. Let’s act like a one-seed even if we’re not.”

Thibodeau: “That doesn’t guarantee anything. Where I think it does make a difference is Game 7 of a playoff series, to have it at home. You want to do your best to put as many things in your favor as possible.” 

So, the No. 1 seed has been the C’s ultimate goal all season, but it’s no longer the priority now that the Bulls have threatened to take it from them? I’m not buying it. The Celtics want that top seed, and they just might need it. How close will the race for the No. 1 seed be? Down to the wire, for sure. See for yourself …

CELTICS (47-17; 18 games remaining)

  • at New Jersey (21-43)
  • vs. Indiana (28-38)
  • at Houston (33-34)
  • at New Orleans (39-29)
  • at New York (34-31)
  • vs. Memphis (36-31)
  • vs. Charlotte (28-38)
  • at Minnesota (17-51)
  • at Indiana (28-38)
  • at San Antonio (54-12)
  • at Atlanta (38-28)
  • vs. Detroit (23-44)
  • vs. Philadelphia (34-32)
  • at Chicago (47-18)
  • vs. Washington (16-48)
  • at Miami (45-21)
  • at Washington (16-48)
  • vs. New York (34-31)

Home games remaining: 7
Opponents’ winning percentage: .482 (571-615)
ESPN.com odds to capture No. 1 seed: 39.4 percent
Record vs. remaining teams on schedule: 29-8 (.784)
Games remaining against .500-plus teams: 9
Games remaining against potential playoff teams: 12

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Doc Rivers, Miami Heat
Kevin Garnett: President Obama is ‘a cool dude’ 03.12.11 at 11:22 am ET
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Celtics forward Kevin Garnett posted to his blog on shoe company Anta’s website and touched on a few topics from what he called a “crazy busy” couple days. Here’s what he had to say about meeting President Barack Obama, the loss to the Clippers and signing a deal with Zico coconut water …

On Obama: “On Tuesday, we went to an event and met the No. 1 man. The president of the United States.  It was cool to take a couple of minutes to talk with the leader of our country. He’s a cool dude.  Not all the guys made it, but hopefully we’ll meet him again (we get to if we win the championship).”

On Clippers: “It just seemed like things were off all day. Not sure what happened, but we didn’t play together and were not on the same page. I guess that has to happen every now and then. Still sucks to lose. We were down 20 points at one point and we cut it down, but mental errors hurt us. We lost by five, but cut it to three at one point.”

On endorsement: “Big news. Just signed a deal with Zico ‘coconut water.’ Excited, to work with them, as I’m a huge coconut water guy. I drink some after my massages, practice and any time I feel like my body needs refreshing. Helps with dehydration and recovery. … Be on the look out for a contest or something. Planning on signing my game sneakers! Stay tuned.”

If Garnett’s commercials are anything like the one embedded in this blog, they should be wonderfully terrible.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, President Barack Obama,
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