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Irish Coffee: Does poor Celtics offensive rebounding matter? 01.12.11 at 11:48 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Despite losing two straight games, if you look at the Celtics’ statistics, there’s not much they’re doing poorly over the course of this season. They’ve made more field goals than their opponents while taking fewer shots. They’ve dished out more assists, snatched more steals, swatted more blocks and committed fewer turnovers.

In fact, only one number sticks out. The Celtics have been out-rebounded overall by four. More specifically, they’ve been out-boarded on the offensive glass by 97 and rank last this year in the category that Red Auerbach called “the hardest single phase of basketball.”

When you consider the fact that the C’s are shooting a league-leading 50.2 percent from the field — leaving fewer chances for themselves — that number is less glaring than at first glance, but does it matter at all? C’s head coach Doc Rivers doesn’t think so.

“I’m not a big believer in offensive rebounds,” said Rivers. “I think if you if you get back every single time and not get offensive rebounds, you probably save more points in the long run. So, that’s not a concern.”

Anyone who watched Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals — when the Lakers out-rebounded the Celtics 23-8 on the offensive end — might disagree with Rivers on that contention. While fans often rely on emotions for their arguments, Rivers can generally point to statistics to back up his statements, so let’s look to the numbers.

Here are the top-five NBA teams record-wise with their rank in offensive rebounds per game in parentheses:

  • 1. Spurs (15th)
  • 2. Heat (25th)
  • 3. Celtics (30th)
  • 4. Lakers (5th)
  • 5. Mavericks (29th)

Here are the bottom-five NBA teams record-wise with their rank in offensive rebounds per game in parentheses:

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Marquis Daniels, Nate Robinson
Irish Coffee: The transformation of Von Wafer 01.11.11 at 11:17 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Optimus Prime. Wheeljack. Von Wafer. The name even sounds like a “Transformers” character.

For Doc Rivers and the Celtics, that’s exactly what he is. Wafer left Houston as an established offensive player and came to Boston as a defensive project.

‘€œHe played very well for us,” Rockets head coach Rick Adelman said prior to Monday night’s 108-102 defeat of the Celtics. “He was a real spark off the bench. He won a lot of games for us. He’€™s a guy who once he gets comfortable he’€™s a real threat. I think eventually he’€™s going to help them.’€

In 2008-09, as a member of the Rockets, Wafer played 20 minutes a night, averaging 9.7 points in 63 games — including 11 starts. He even hit a clutch 3-pointer that sunk the Celtics almost two years ago to the day. This season, with this Celtics team, he might not get more than five minutes on a given night.

“Whether you play five minutes or 15, you’€™ve got to play hard,” added Adelman. “You’€™ve got to make a contribution to the team. Some guys don’€™t feel like that. They feel like they have to get minutes to help the team. You can’€™t do that.”

When Wafer first arrived in Boston, he fell into the camp of guys who felt like they needed minutes to contribute — and by contribute, he meant score. After all, that’s what Adelman wanted from him in Houston.

“He’€™s unbelievable,” Wafer said of his former coach. “He just let me do whatever, let me be who I was. It didn’€™t matter how many shots I missed. He just let me play.” Even at the expense of his defense.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Jermaine O'Neal, NBA
The Three-Pointer: Celtics aching for Kevin Garnett 01.11.11 at 12:34 am ET
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And that’€™s why the Celtics need a healthy Kevin Garnett.

Garnett missed his seventh straight game as a result of the calf he strained during a game in Detroit on Dec. 29, and sooner or later his absence was bound to catch up to the Celtics. Coincidence or not, it happened on the night Garnett was rumored to return.

He didn’€™t, and the Celtics lost 108-102 to the Rockets, who had suffered five straight defeats entering the game and suited up without Yao Ming or Kevin Martin in uniform.

Houston did, however, have one very good power forward in the lineup (Luis Scola) and a pair of budding big men (Patrick Patterson and Jordan Hill), who combined for 34 points and 21 rebounds. You think that’€™s happening on Kevin Garnett’€™s watch?

‘€œWe just weren’€™t ready,’€ said Doc Rivers. ‘€œI told our guys I thought overall it was probably our worst defensive effort in three, four years as far as overall effort.’€

For all that Glen Davis has done exceedingly well this season — and he has exceeded expectations — he’€™s no Kevin Garnett. That’€™s not breaking news or anything. But in Garnett’€™s absence, the Celtics have relied too much on Davis, and as a result he’€™s tried to do too much.

Starting in place of Garnett over the past seven games, Davis has shot just 41 percent (41-of-100) and grabbed more than five rebounds only once while averaging 35.7 minutes. In 30 games off the bench this season, he had been shooting 48 percent and averaging more than five rebounds in 28.5 minutes a game. Quite simply, he’€™s no longer doing the ‘€œgarbage man’€ things that made him a contender for the NBA’€™s Sixth Man of the Year.

‘€œHe’€™s getting too many minutes, quite honestly,’€ added Rivers. ‘€œThirty-eight minutes is too many for Baby. We don’€™t have a lot of options right now. Luke [Harangody]‘€™s playing okay, but we may have to go small. That’€™s too many minutes, and that’€™s on me. Baby should play more in the 30-range, because I think the fatigue is bothering him.’€

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Glen Davis, Houston Rockets, Kevin Garnett
Irish Coffee: Celtics’ shooting aim historically high 01.10.11 at 1:42 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

In the past 20 seasons, only a handful of teams have shot at least .500 from the field for an entire season. Despite shooting just .378 against the Bulls on Saturday night, the Celtics are still shooting .502 as a team this year, keeping pace with some pretty remarkable company historically.

Here are the teams that have shot better than .500 for an entire season since 1991-92:

There are plenty of conclusions to draw based on that list. Here are a few:

  • Of those seven teams, two — the 1991-92 NBA champion Bulls and 1994-95 Magic — reached the NBA Finals.
  • The guys who those offenses ran through: Michael Jordan, John Stockton, Steve Nash, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Hardaway — which means Rajon Rondo would join some pretty remarkable players.
  • The fact that the 1984-85 Lakers shot .545 from the field for the season is simply ridiculous.
  • The last time the Celtics eclipsed .500 was in 1990-91, when Larry Bird & Co. shot .512 for the season.

The overwhelming positive for the Celtics is that they’re only allowing their opponents to shoot .437 from the field — better than any of the seven teams on that list. Six of those teams let their opponents shoot better than .450, and only the 1996-97 Jazz came close to this year’s C’s, allowing their opponents to shoot .438 from the field.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA, Rajon Rondo
Fast Break: Luke Harangody leads Celtics over Raptors 01.07.11 at 9:57 pm ET
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Celtics rookie Luke Harangody produced the first double-double of his career, totaling 17 points and 11 rebounds, as the Celtics scored a season-high in a 122-102 victory against the Raptors in Boston. The win marked the team’s 3,000th career win.

Six Celtics (28-7) scored in double figures: Harangody, Paul Pierce (20), Ray Allen (17), Nate Robinson (15), Glen Davis (14) and Shaquille O’Neal (12). Only Avery Bradley didn’t get on the board against the Raptors.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Luke Harangody dominates; yup, you read that right: Harangody played so well on Friday night that his name was actually a trending topic on Twitter in Boston. In just under four first-quarter minutes, the Celtics rookie scored eight points to help the C’s race to a 34-22 lead in the opening 12 minutes.

The only person who could cool down Harangody was Doc Rivers. The Notre Dame product knocked down his fifth straight shot (a trey) and grabbed three of his 11 rebounds in the opening 4:15 of the second quarter. Harangody finished his best game of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds in 26-plus minutes.

The Raptors forget to play defense: In the first half, the Celtics shot almost as well from the floor (65.9 percent) as they did from the foul line (70 percent) — scoring a season-high 67 first-half points against the Raptors. Entering the break, only Rondo (2-for-5) and Von Wafer (0-for-1) failed to shoot 50 percent.

At halftime, four Celtics — Harangody, Allen, Pierce and Robinson — had already reached double figures. Combined, those four shot 16-of-20 in the opening 24 minutes. After the break, the C’s cooled to a 57.5 shooting clip for the game.

Shaq & Co. share the wealth: Shaq doesn’t get enough credit for his passing ability. Twice against the Raptors, he made great looks — once on an offensive board that he kicked to an open Pierce for 3 and another on a touch-pass to a waiting Davis underneath the basket.

In all, the Celtics recorded 31 assists on 46 field goals. Led by Rondo’s seven dimes, eight Celtics produced multiple-assist nights.

The C’s also shared the rebounding load. Harangody’s 11 boards led the way, but Rondo, Pierce, Allen and Shaq all had at least four rebounds on the night. As a team, the Celtics out-rebounded the Raptors, 43-31.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Defensive activity: As bad as the Celtics beat the Raptors on Friday night, it could’ve been worse. Sure, the C’s shot 60-plus percent from the floor, but they failed to lock it down defensively on the other end.

Toronto got a ton of open looks, leading to a 50.6 percent shooting percentage against the Celtics. Against the Raptors, that’s OK. Against everybody else, that’s trouble.

DeMar DeRozan is a heckuva scorer: DeRozan’s youthful athleticism gave the Celtics’ defense problems at times. He got into the lane at will and maneuvered around Shaq like a squirrel around a tree. The Raptors’ shooting guard finished with 20 points.

DeRozan is signed with Toronto in the Atlantic Division through 2014, so the Celtics should be seeing plenty of him over the years — unless the Raptors trade him away like every other good player that goes through Canadian customs.

Fourth-quarter brain fart: What was once a 23-point lead disintegrated into a 98-86 advantage after an Andrea Bargnani dunk over Davis with nine minutes remaining in the game. Then, Allen buried a 3-pointer, Davis and Rondo made four straight free throws, and Harangody buried an 18-footer to push the lead back to 21. The Raptors never sniffed a comeback again.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Luke Harangody, NBA, Toronto Raptors
Irish Coffee: What’s your Celtics Banner Moment? 01.07.11 at 10:40 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

The Celtics launched the Banner Moments program, encouraging fans to share their favorite C’s moments through video, photos and text. Until March, two Banner Moments are chosen each month. Prizes include Celtics tickets, meet and greets with legends, and practice facility shoot-arounds.

In March, the C’s will put the top-10 moments up for a vote on Celtics.com. The winner will be recognized during an April 13 Knicks game in addition to potentially watching a playoff game from their own private suite.

I’d have to say my “Banner Moment would be the Celtics’ 21-point comeback in the fourth quarter of Game 3 in the 2002 Eastern Conference finals. That was the unquestionable highlight of a Celtics season that shouldn’t have sniffed the NBA Finals, yet came within two games of playing the Lakers for a title. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the new Garden louder. The building was literally shaking.

It’s between that and the time my buddy started running down the Garden stairs — only to slip, throwing his arms upward and splashing an entire beer in some poor Blazers fan’s face by accident. I mean, he couldn’t have tried to spill more on this guy than he did. Let’s just say the dude was none too happy.

Part 1 of that comeback against the Nets accompanies this post. You can revisit Parts 2, 3, 4 and 5 on YouTube. As part of the program, members of the Celtics, their mascot, dance team and celebrity fans shared a few of their Banner Moments:

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Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo
Irish Coffee: Ray Allen ‘really isn’t Jesus’ 01.06.11 at 12:37 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Considering Ray Allen has shot 89.4 percent from the free-throw line in his career, he’ll miss two straight about once every 100 times he goes to the charity stripe.

And that’s exactly what happened with eight seconds left as the Celtics clung to a 105-103 lead against the Spurs — owners of the NBA‘s best record. Thankfully, for Allen and the C’s, Paul Pierce blocked Manu Ginobili‘s last-second 24-footer to preserve the victory.

“I would’ve put my whole salary that he made at least one,” said Glen “Big Baby” Davis. “I would’ve been in trouble. It’s Ray Allen. It just goes to show you he’s really not Jesus. You know? I swear to God … if he misses, I’m like, ‘That must be Ray Allen.’ When he makes it, every time I think it’s Jesus Shuttlesworth. I swear. I’m surprised when he misses.”

Obviously, the mention of Jesus was a reference to Allen’s character in the film “He Got Game”. But even Jesus Shuttlesworth couldn’t make 13-of-16 shots from the field, as Allen did Wednesday night.

“I was pretty confident in Ray going to the line, but he’s human,” added Rajon Rondo. “He did almost everything else perfect today, so you can fault him. The bottom line is we got the win.”

Allen is shooting 50.1 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from 3-point range — both career highs for a single season. That’s saying something, considering Allen has been considered one of the league’s best shooters since entering the NBA in 1996.

“Ray needs to work on his shooting a bit,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich joked. “He only hit 13 out of 16. If it was practice and you did pindowns and you came off of that, I don’t know if anyone in the league would hit 13 out of 16. He does it in a game.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Glen Big Baby Davis, NBA, Ray Allen
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