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Jason Terry: ‘These are growing pains’ 11.02.12 at 11:25 pm ET
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The Celtics didn’t plan on starting off 0-2, but through the first two games of the season it’s clear that the roster — with the additions of the likes of Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger, Leandro Barbosa and the return of Jeff Green, among other roster alterations — hasn’t quite hit its stride yet.

The C’s looked slow and admitted to a lack of communication defensively in their 99-88 loss to the Bucks, a game in which they trailed by anywhere from 16 to 20 for much of the night.

Terry, playing in his second game as a Celtic since signing a three-year deal in the offseason, finished with 10 points, two assists and two rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench on Friday. After the game, the veteran guard diagnosed why the C’s have gotten off to such an unproductive start.

“These are growing pains,” Terry said. “This is what the NBA season, this is what the journey is all about. We’re going to look back at this and say that we grew from it. It just happens, whether it’s injuries, whether it’s what we’re going through right now, there’s always bumps in the road along your journey that you can look back and say, ‘OK. We got through that, we persevered.’

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Kevin Garnett: Celtics ‘still a work in progress’ 11.02.12 at 11:01 pm ET
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The Celtics’ 99-88 loss to the Bucks was a lot uglier than the final score would suggest, and it left the Garden crowd booing the C’s in Boston’s home opener.

Following the game, Kevin Garnett said that “communication is everything” in remedying what allowed the Bucks, led by Brandon Jennings (21 points, 13 assists) to run all over the C’s.

“I think what you see is we’re still a work in progress, obviously,” Garnett said. “The lack of communication on the court makes it even more difficult, but all in all, we’re still working. We’re still working to get some consistency.

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Stephen A. Smith: Celtics ‘too close’ for Heat to win several consecutive titles 10.30.12 at 2:45 pm ET
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Stephen A. Smith

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith joined Mut & Merloni Tuesday to discuss the upcoming NBA season and the hot water he’s found himself in over his perceived use of a racial slur last week.

Smith denied saying the slur on ESPN’s “First Take,” though he said he understands that people heard it that way, and that he would have “shook their hands” and accepted it should ESPN have punished him. For Smith’s complete answer regarding the incident, click here.

In discussing the upcoming season, Smith touched on Tuesday night’s season-opener between the Heat and the Celtics, the first game in which Ray Allen will face his old team since rejecting a more lucrative deal from Boston to sign with the defending NBA champions.

Since Allen left, there has been a bit of a war of words between the two sides, as Allen has made numerous comments about the C’s while Kevin Garnett said he deleted Allen’s phone number.

“I think the animosity is real on Boston’s side. I don’t think Ray Allen has that level of animosity for anybody. He’s class personified,” Smith said. “It’s not to say the Boston Celtics are not classy because they very much are, but Ray Allen just isn’t one to get into all of that. That’s never been his MO in all the years that I’ve known him, but the reality of the situation is he doesn’t really have legitimate reasons to harbor animosity.

“When you look at the situation in Boston, yeah you didn’t like getting benched for Avery Bradley, yeah you didn’t like feeling that you were no longer the significant part of the game plan that you were in years past. There’s no way to get around the fact that if you look at the Ray Allen situation in Boston from that standpoint, you have to remember he left them. They offered him twice as much as he’s getting from Miami, even though it was an additional year compared to what Miami was offering him. They offered him more years, they offered him more money and he still decided to leave, but not only did he decide to leave, he decided to leave for somebody that is considered the enemy in that locker room and throughout that franchise in the Miami Heat, particularly since LeBron James arrived.

“That’s why you see Kevin Garnett reacting the way that he’s reacting. Paul Pierce sort of smiled it off, but he’s following KG’s lead because Paul Pierce obviously is a friend of Ray Allen. He loves him. It’s just that he’s a competitor now. Kevin Garnett takes it to another level. Right now he has no love whatsoever for Ray Allen. He looks at Ray Allen as somebody that betrayed him and this franchise. He has no love for him whatsoever. He wants to take him out just as badly as he wants to take the rest of them out and he considers him the enemy. It’s just that simple.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Should you still care about the center position? 10.25.12 at 3:49 pm ET
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WALTHAM — As was evidenced by the NBA taking the center position off the All-Star ballot this week, the idea of traditional positions might be a thing of the past.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers spoke about the evolution of the game in that regard on Wednesday, and on Thursday Kevin Garnett spoke about how the center position has become more of a place for finesse and less of a place for prototypical big and strong 7-footers.

A power forward when he came into the league in 1995 and throughout the vast majority of his career, Garnett made the move to the center position for the C’s midway through last season and saw results that further agreed with the notion that traditional centers as the world once knew it are becoming less and less important.

“I just think it’s a versatility thing,” Garnett said. “Before, you had players like Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing, [Robert] Parish. Guys who had to play the 5 — methodical, traditional 5s, power game. I think you see the game going to a finesse game, so to speak. Since I’ve been in the league you’ve seen 3s turn into 4s, 4s turn into 5s, 2s turn into 3s. You have to be able to guard both and be able to do multiple things.

“I think 80s basketball and the early 90s, it was traditional basketball. When I say new basketball, new school, 2000, 2K — whatever you want to call it — is more of being agile, being able to guard multiple positions. I think Scottie Pippen, Robert Horry … those versatile players, I think that’s where the game has been. Not just on one side of the basketball. Now you see 3s and 4s switching, being able to switch, 2s and 3s switching. I just think it’s non-traditional. I think it’s more of an agile and finesse game.”

Garnett’s been in the league for as long as the changes of traditional positions have been going on. Asked if he recognizes himself as a bit of a pioneer among bigger bodies who provide versatility in their skill sets, Garnett agreed but noted he wasn’t the first and won’t be the last.

“I do, but I also like to give credit where credit is due, too. Those guys that played before, that I took examples [from],” he said. “I see me every day, so I’m not a big fan of me. Those are guys that I learned from, took some things from and was able to apply to my own game.”

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Leandro Barbosa finally practices with Celtics 10.24.12 at 4:01 pm ET
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Visa issues kept Leandro Barbosa from playing Sunday. (AP)

WALTHAM — Leandro Barbosa got his first practice in as a member of the Celtics Wednesday, as visa issues had kept him from playing in Sunday’s preseason finale against the 76ers.

“It was a good practice, and I got to get to know the plays, the defensive standpoint and all the things that they’ve been doing in training camp when I wasn’t here, so I think it was OK,” Barbosa said. “The coaches have been giving me a lot of attention. They’ve been helping me a lot. I think this is very important for me in the beginning, but also the players have been helping me too.”

Conditioning-wise, Barbosa said he felt fine throughout a practice that ran ran roughly three hours.

“I wasn’t playing that much when I was back in Brazil, but I think I’m OK so far for what we did today,” he said. “[Practice today] was long, but we didn’t go up and down. I think tomorrow we’ll go up and down. I think day-by-day I will be fine. I think I’ll pick it up little by little.”

The 29-year-old used to average around 30 minutes a game back in the day for the Suns but averaged 19.8 minutes in 22 games down the stretch last season with the Pacers. He knows that he might not get major minutes for the C’s, but he’s comfortable with whatever workload he’s given.

“I’m OK with whatever,” Barbosa said. “Whatever minutes I have on the court, I’m going to do my best to try to help my teammates, but if I don’t get on the court, it’s fine for me too. As long as the team is successful, I’ll be happy.”

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Things end better for Kevin Garnett, Celtics vs. Suns this time around 03.02.11 at 11:52 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett got his revenge on Channing Frye and the Suns Wednesday. (AP)

Things didn’t end so pretty for Kevin Garnett the last time the Celtics faced the Suns. Think a shot to Channing Frye‘s groin, a pair of technical fouls, an early shower and weeks of media criticism for his style of play. It was probably those things, and not his 18 points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes, that served as the lasting memory of the C’s 88-71 loss in Phoenix on Jan. 28.

Just over one month later, Garnett got his long-awaited revenge. He dropped a season-high 28 points on the Suns — often on Frye himself — on the night, all of which came in the first three quarters of play. Frye would leave the game with an eye contusion after a collision with Vince Carter, but regardless of his presence, Garnett made his presence felt.

“We were ready for this game,” Glen Davis said. “I know KG was.”

Indeed he was. Garnett didn’t take kindly to the way things played out in late January, so it wasn’t a major shock that he took it upon himself to change his personal fortune, as well as his team’s results.

“I just didn’t like the way I played last time I played the Suns, and I made it a point this time to play better,” Garnett said. “That’s what I did.”

Given the preexisting tension between the two sides, the game proved to be interesting even as the Celtics opened up a 29-point lead. The Suns crawled back to make it a nine-point contest in the fourth quarter, and didn’t relent right down to the last-second technical foul from Jared Dudley on Rajon Rondo. The foul came amidst a spat between Garnett and Suns coach Alvin Gentry, with Rondo launching a three-pointer despite a 10-point lead.

“We knew coming in to expect a little trash talk. It was an intense game but it wasn’t,” Rondo said. “They made a run at it, but we had it under control the whole game.”

With the victory, the Celtics grabbed their six win in their last seven games. Just as importantly, it seems, they countered their ugly January loss and got the last laugh.

“Yeah, it was serious,” Davis said. “We owed them.”

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Kevin Garnett says Suns coach Alvin Gentry was asking for playoff tickets 03.02.11 at 11:27 pm ET
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Celtics forward Kevin Garnett and Suns coach Alvin Gentry had words for one another in the final seconds of the C’s 115-103 victory over Phoenix on Wednesday night. Things escalated when Rajon Rondo then attempted a three-pointer with the C’s holding a 10-point lead, which led to a technical foul from Jared Dudley.

“Alvin Gentry was asking me for tickets for the first round of the playoffs,” Garnett said after the game. “I told him I’ll hook him up, so that’s what that was.”

Celtics coach Doc Rivers shared his opinion on the exchange, saying he doesn’t believe in such behavior from coaches.

“I thought their bench, their coaches were talking,” Rivers said, “which I don’t think you should ever [do] if you have a suit and tie on and and actually can’t play. I don’t think toy should be doing a lot of talking to the players on the floor. It’s just my opinion.”

Garnett, who led all scorers with 28 points in the game, defended his style of play that has led so many to criticize him.

“I don’t really care, but don’t make stuff up. …I’m far from dirty,” Garnett said. “I play the game really hard. I play with my heart. I never going to make any excuses about that, so who cares about what they’re talking about?”

He said he generally wouldn’t expect a coach to jaw at a player, but given the tension between the two teams this season, he wasn’t surprised.

“It’s very uncommon,” Garnett said, “but they’re an uncommon team.”

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