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Ainge on The Big Show: ‘We need the Big Four to play well’ 04.28.10 at 5:19 pm ET
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Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined The Big Show on Wednesday and talked about his team’s playoff hopes. The Celtics looked strong in a first-round win over the Heat after struggling for much of the regular season. “I think that the inconsistency is more a state of mind,” Ainge said. “Everyone said we’re going to turn the button on and off. I don’t think we did that except in the course of each game. It was like we came out to play all the big games of the year and many others. And then it would just be like we got disinterested in the fourth quarter, or late in the third. We were one of the worst third-quarter teams in the season, and now we’re one of the best third-quarter teams in the playoffs. To me, it’s all a frame of mind and your approach to the game.”

Ainge said that in order for the Celtics to beat LeBron JamesCavaliers, the C’s need Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo to be at the top of their games each time out. “Because we don’t have LeBron, we need a lot of guys to step up and carry us,” Ainge said. “We need the Big Four to play well. It comes down to that. We’re going to get inconsistent performances out of guys off the bench because that’s who they’ve been all year and kind of who’ve they have been in their careers. But we need consistent effort out of our Big Four.”

Asked about the future of his coach, Ainge said, “I’ve wondered about Doc because I know how much of a family man he is. I know how hard it is to coach in this business. I know the emotional toll it takes to be a coach in this league. I think this has been an extraordinarily difficult year for Doc, a challenging year,” Ainge said, adding. “I think Doc will be back next year. He hasn’t told me that, and it’s something that we really don’t talk about. I did talk with Doc earlier in the year about the possibility of doing a contract extension, and he didn’t want to do it [not] because he wasn’t sure he wanted to come back, he didn’t want to do it because he doesn’t want a distraction.” Added Ainge: “I think that Doc does like it here. I think he understands the unique opportunity he has coaching here. And I think that once the season gets over and once he has the chance to settle back, I think he will want to come back.”

Ainge was asked if the Celtics had any chance of being a player with one of the marquee free agents this summer and said it would be doubtful but not out of the question. “The only way it would be possible would be a sign and trade, and that’s very unlikely. The only way we would be able to do it is if a player said, ‘I want to play in Boston, and I’m only going to play in Boston under any circumstances.’ … That team would have to believe that [the player was willing to sign for a mid-level exception] and work out some sort of sign and trade to get that player more money.” Additionally, Ainge confirmed that the Celtics likely would have to entice the other team with a package of a player such as Ray Allen, with his huge contract, and a promising young player.

To hear the interview, click on The Big Show audio on demand page.

Read More: Celtics, Danny Ainge, The Big Show,
Durant: Celtics, Lakers comments ‘disrespectful’ 04.15.10 at 10:25 am ET
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Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant, who wrapped up the NBA scoring title Wednesday night, responded to comments from the coach of the Thunder’s first-round playoff opponent by calling them “disrespectful.” In comments that should sound familiar to Celtics fans, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Durant gets preferential treatment from officials. Responded Durant in The Oklahoman: “Ever since [Kevin Garnett] said something, everybody’s been questioning how I get to the line. If you watch our games, you wouldn’t question it. the NBA should put us on national TV more, I guess.”

Durant said Jackson’s comments fired him up more. “Because it’€™s taking away from what I do,’€ Durant said. “That’€™s a part of my game, getting to the free throw line and being aggressive. If you say that I get superstar calls or I get babied by the refs, that’€™s just taking away from how I play. That’€™s disrespectful to me. I don’€™t disrespect nobody in this league. I respect every coach, every player, everybody. I never say anything bad about anybody else or question why they do this or do that. So for them to say that about me, I don’€™t even want to use no foul language.”

Durant said he does not expect Jackson’s comments to influence the referees.

“If the refs pay attention to that and change how they call things because of that, that’€™s terrible,’€ Durant said. “That’€™s terrible to the game of basketball and to us. If that happens, then [coach] Scotty [Brooks] could talk, too. Or any other coach could talk, too, just so the refs could switch everything up. But I doubt they do that. “They’€™re smarter than that, and they have more skills than that as refs. So I don’€™t really worry about it too much.’€

Pierce on D&H: C’s not bored with regular season 04.01.10 at 1:57 pm ET
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Celtics swingman Paul Pierce joined the Dale & Holley show Thursday afternoon and talked about Wednesday night’s tough loss to the Thunder. The Celtics were visibly upset about some of the officials’ calls that benefited Thunder star Kevin Durant, but Pierce said the team can’t afford to dwell on it. “That’s the way the game goes sometimes,” he said. “You’ve just got to move on from it. You can’t let it bother you, even though it hurts. Those type of games hurt. I was really frustrated after the game, with how things went. But there’s nothing you can really do. You’ve just got to move on.”

Asked why he doesn’t seem to get the benefit of the calls from the officials that his contemporaries do, Pierce said it’s part of the whole package. “I’ve always been the Rodney Dangerfield of the game — no respect. Even from Day 1, when I got drafted,” he said. “It something I’ve just got to play through. I can’t let it bother me or frustrate me. At this point in my career, I’ve been used to it. I just feel like it’s made me a better player, because I know everything I’ve done out there, I’ve had to earn.”

Addressing the Celtics’ inconsistencies this season, Pierce said: “I think we’re more of a team that was built for the playoffs, to be honest with you. We have a number of guys who are in their 30s. In the playoffs, where it becomes a halfcourt game, you only have to be better than four teams in the playoffs to win it all. And I think we’re more built for the playoffs, when the game slows down, when you talk about halfcourt defense. It’s been tough getting through the ups and downs of the regular season, different types of matchups and all sorts of things.”

Pierce said he discounts assertions that the Celtics are bored during some regular-season games. “I don’t think guys are bored with the regular season,” he said. “I think that’s a bunch a crap about being bored with it. It’s a process. You have to build up the playoffs. You have to be consistent in what you do. You don’t just go out here and be a great shooter. You have to practice that. And that’s what the regular season is. It’s practice for the playoffs.”

To hear the interview, including Pierce’s thoughts about free agency and having his number raised to the rafters, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Rivers on D&C: Durant NBA’s most efficient 04.01.10 at 10:43 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and talked about Kevin Durant, the young star who led the Thunder past the Celtics on Wednesday night. “Offensively, he’s as good as you’re going to get in the league,” Rivers said. “I think he is the most efficient offensive player in the league. LeBron and Kobe, they score more points, but he’s more efficient at it. He’s amazing. … He’s a great young kid. He’s everything good about our league. It’s really good to have a guy like that in our league.”

Rivers said Durant’s size is what puts him (literally) over the top, helping to make him the best catch-and-shoot guy in the NBA. “There’s probably guys who can shoot as well as Durant. The difference is when Durant catches and shoots, even if you’re there, because of his size, he can still shoot it over you,” Rivers said. “He knows at the end of the day, even [against] a good defense that he can still shoot it over you, because he’s five inches taller or four inches taller than most of the guys that are going to guard him.”

Rivers admitted that had the Celtics received the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft, he would have wanted to take Ohio State center Greg Oden over the skinny Texas star. “I would have taken Oden, there’s no doubt about it,” Rivers said. “Obviously, now, I would have been wrong. … You can’t fault Portland for taking Oden.”

Comparing Durant and LeBron James, Rivers said: “The bottom line is we haven’t seen any player in the history of basketball like either one of those guys. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a guy with the size of LeBron and the power of LeBron and the speed and the IQ and all that.’€¨’€¨ The comparison of Durant would be a cross between George Gervin and Dirk Nowitzki, but he also has more speed than both of them and he can handle the ball. … Skinny, long — he is a freak. That’s what he is.”

Rivers said the Thunder are an impressive team, mainly in the maturity department. “They’re young, they’re confident, they play defense,” he said. “They have pretty good composure for a young team. And they’re not an emotional team. … They went for skill over the potential athlete who, if he learns how to shoot and run, he can be a good player, if you know what I’m saying. And they went for character. All their guys coming out of college were known as high-character players, high-skill players. It’s tough to go wrong if you go with that formula.”

Rajon Rondo has received some criticism for not being consistent enough and focusing more on being flashy than fundamental. Responded Rivers: “Rondo has come such a long way. There are times when Rondo goes for the showy pass instead of being solid. But even that, to me, he has improved so much. I don’t have a lot of complaints with Rondo right now. I do think there are times when he wants to put on a show. … He keeps getting better, and I like that part of him. He’s more competitive, he plays harder, so there’s a lot of good things. Far more good than bad. There is no perfect player, by the way. And I always remind myself of that. But as far as Rondo goes, the positives are so much greater than the negatives.”

The Celtics did their share of complaining to the officials Wednesday night, which is nothing new for this team. Asked if his team sometimes complains too much, Rivers said: “There’s no doubt that we do. There is no doubt. … That’s something I spend timeouts with at times: ‘Guys, I’ll do the complaining. I’ll do whatever I need to do. You keep playing.’ … The one thing I did like, is it never stopped them from playing last night, and that’s a really good sign for us.”

To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Grousbeck on D&H: Teams wary of C’s in playoffs 03.25.10 at 11:49 am ET
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Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck checked in with the Dale & Holley show Thursday morning and talked about the Celtics’ season. Said Grousbeck: “It has been up and down, we can’t hide from that. You have to be honest with people and be honest with yourself. We’ve always felt, though, inside the team that this team has a chance, and that that was probably a lull in the middle of the season, not from being lazy, but from being tired or conserving energy. … I think that’s what’s happened this year. I’m not trying to make make an excuse, that’s just my honest opinion.”

Grousbeck said the Celtics only have to worry about themselves as they prepare for the playoffs. “I think we have a chance to be as good as anybody at any given time, and it’s not just flashes of it,” he said. “I think people are looking at us saying, ‘Let’s avoid those guys in the playoffs.’ ”

Grousbeck noted that Danny Ainge is winning the front office’s NCAA tournament pool. “Ainge is winning our bracket, which just annoys us to no end because he won’t stop talking about it,” Grousbeck said, although he added that it does instill more confidence in Ainge’s scouting abilities. “It’s kind of a relief. If he were losing the bracket, I’d be a little more worried. I’m happy if he wins. It’s like saying, ‘Tiger beat me at golf.’ ”

To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Doc on D&C: ‘We’re close’ 03.25.10 at 8:51 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the state of the Celtics. “We’re closer,” Rivers said. “I don’t think anybody can say they’re there right now as a team.”

Rivers said the Celtics’ recent improved play can directly be attributed to the team’s improved health. “We were 23-5 [to start the season], we were completely healthy,” he said. “I felt this throughout that whole streak. It’s amazing how conveniently everybody forgot about that. … So many different guys had to play so many different roles. … That took a toll on us.”

Rivers said he’s focused on continuing to get the team in rhythm the rest of the regular season, but, “I still want to get them rest as well.”

Rivers was asked about the NCAA tournament and which underdog he thinks has the best chance of advancing. “I think Cornell’s the best [underdog] that’s still available,” Rivers said. “Unfortunately, they have to play the best team [Kentucky]. … If that game is close, I think Cornell wins that game.”

Rivers said he has been getting grief from Nate Robinson since Robinson’s alma mater, Washington, knocked off Rivers’ school, Marquette, in the tournament’s opening round. “I’m still getting [teased],” Rivers said. “Every time he walks by me, he sings the Washington fight song.”

To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

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Rivers on D&C: ‘We’re starting to get it back’ 03.18.10 at 9:29 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning (click here for the audio) and continued to be an optimist about his team. “We’re starting to get it back,” he said. “If we can get it back in time … I love our chances.”

Rivers was asked about his recent comments that the Celtics are close to getting back to form after their midseason struggles, and he was asked if he meant that the C’s could contend for a championship. “Yeah, I really see that,” Rivers said. “Listen, this is the same team that was 25-5. And I don’t lose sight of that. I’ll let everybody else loses sight of that, but I haven’t. I know we can reach back to that level. … Everyone forgets conveniently, the stretch that we struggled in, we were not right. We were not the same team. Now we’re healthy. We’ve added pieces. Nate [Robinson] is going to help us. Mike Finley is going to help us. Like I told out team, we’re not going to defend ourselves. we’re just going to go out and play. We have to prove that. As a group, I can tell you, our team belives that.”

An online columnist recently suggested that a key problem with the C’s is that Rajon Rondo and Kevin Perkins need to step up and be leaders because the Big Three have been distracted by health problems. “That’s ludicrous,” Rivers said. “It’s ridiculous, it really is. Kevin Garnett] and Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] are the leaders, but so is Rondo and Perk. I think the starting five leads our team and they always have this year. So I don’t know how all of a sudden you assume a different leadership role. That sounds so great in print, or saying it, but it’s not realistic. I think that our team’s leadership has been intact all year. I think all five of those guys lead when they need to. The bottom line is our starting five … all five of them have to set the table for his entire team.”

Rivers also made a prediction that Robinson will be a key contributor in the postseason. “Nate is a guy who has the chance to be a one-game sensation,” Rivers said “He’s going to win a playoff game for us.”

Asked if he was paying attention to the standings as the playoffs get closer, Rivers said no. “Our goal is to be ready, honest to goodness,” he said. “I’m so focused on our team.”

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