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Chris Mannix on D&C: Celtics ‘can’t win without Rajon Rondo’ 04.24.13 at 9:51 am ET
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Paul Pierce and the Celtics are down 2-0 in their series against Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks. (AP)

Paul Pierce and the Celtics are down 2-0 in their series against Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks. (AP)

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics, who are in a 2-0 hole against the Knicks in their Eastern Conference playoff series following Tuesday night’s 87-71 loss at Madison Square Garden.

“They can’t win without Rajon Rondo. It kind of just boils down to that,” Mannix said. “It was such a gutty first half, how they played. They defended, they made shots, Jason Terry was big for them. But the second half, when the Knicks came out with a modicum of defensive intensity, they could do nothing, because they don’t have anyone on the floor that knows how to manufacture shots. [Paul] Pierce did the best he could, but it was pretty clear to me that the Knicks were loading up on him and really putting a focus on keeping him under control in the second half, contesting more shots in the second half. And without Rondo, they got nothing in the paint. Everything was a contested jump shot off one or two passes.

“In a lot of ways, it’s kind of depressing to watch. Because the Knicks, they’re not a good defensive team. They were good for like five games in the month of November. Then all of a sudden they reverted back to Carmelo Anthony ball, circa 2008, and decided to outscore people. But the Knicks, when they put any kind of pressure on the Celtics last night, they just didn’t have anything in terms of playmaking that could respond.”

The Celtics were able to play well for stretches after Rondo’s season-ending ACL injury in the regular season, but Mannix noted that the style and intensity in the playoffs are a different matter.

Said Mannix: “We’ve seen first-hand the last two years what Rondo has done for this team in the playoffs — he’s been the best player on the floor every single year. … He just creates shots, and he wreaks havoc in the paint. You simply can’t replace that.”

Jeff Green‘s inconsistency continues to be an issue. After recording 26 points and seven rebounds in Saturday’s Game 1 loss, Green had 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting with one rebound in almost 35 minutes Tuesday.

“I don’t know what it is, other than the fact that it’s just kind of who Jeff Green is at this point,” Mannix said. “He has been a workhorse for him in the second half of the season, and so many nights you can see just that talent. But I can tell you this: The inconsistency was maddening to Oklahoma City back in the day. They wanted to keep Jeff Green, they offered him a good contract extension. But they weren’t willing to go as high as Jeff Green wanted them to go because of that inconsistency. It was a big part of it. They didn’t know if he was going to be that guy every single night. At his best, he’s one of the most versatile forwards in the NBA, he can do a lot at either forward spot from the perimeter and on the inside. But some nights, as you mentioned, he does disappear. That’s one of the most frustrating things about Green, and that’s something I think that until he resolves, it’s always going to hold him back.”

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Wyc Grousbeck on M&M: ‘It just didn’t feel right at all to be playing tonight’ 04.16.13 at 1:06 pm ET
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Wyc Grousbeck

Wyc Grousbeck

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday afternoon to talk about the decision to cancel Tuesday night’s game against the Pacers in the wake of Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing.

“The first phone call I got about this was from [NBA commissioner] David Stern,” Grousbeck said. “[Wife] Corinne and I had been following the news for just a few minutes. Right away David called, and we started our dialogue. We’re always on the same page. He’s a terrific commissioner and a terrific person. It was an easy decision for us to make together as the evening unfolded, as we learned about injuries and deaths.

“It wasn’t going to feel right to play a basketball game tonight just out of respect, and then out of diverting police resources in any way to playing a game. I’d rather personally have them able to work on the crime scene and help care for anybody who needs help in Boston as opposed to helping patrol our game. It just didn’t feel right at all to be playing tonight. It was an easy decision, which we made together.”

Grousbeck said the team will do its best to make sure TD Garden is a safe place for next week’s playoff games against the Knicks.

“We’ll be intensely focused on security,” Grousbeck said. “I’ve been here 10 years now, and it was shortly after 9/11 when we came in. Every single game is secured to a relatively high degree. Every playoff game is secured to the nth degree. Maybe we’ll secure every game to the nth degree, as it were. But these playoffs will be a very safe place to be. And they will be respectful of the victims and hopeful for the future.”

Added Grousbeck: “I think it’s fair to say that there are levels of security that people are even unaware of. There will be more of those.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Heat stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh expected to play Friday vs. short-handed Celtics 04.12.13 at 12:29 pm ET
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Heat superstars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are well aware of the Celtics' championship pedigree. (AP)

Heat superstars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have been nursing ailments but should be in the lineup Friday. (AP)

Heat stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all have missed games recently due to injuries, illness or perhaps needed rest. However, all three are expected to be in the lineup Friday night when the Celtics pay a visit to Miami.

While James (strained right hamstring), Wade (right knee bone bruises) and Bosh (flu-like symptoms) are expected back, Shane Battier (assorted aches) and Udonis Haslem (sprained ankle) are out.

Wade has missed the past six games for the Heat, who already have clinched the top seed in the East.

“I’m feeling good,” Wade told The Associated Press on Thursday. “The toughest part is mentally more so than physically. I played two weeks with it and eventually I felt it getting a little worse and I said, ‘OK, I’ve got to shut it down.’ ”

The Celtics likely will be without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett (both with ankle soreness). Both are targeted to return for Saturday’s game against the Magic in Orlando.

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Doc Rivers on D&C: Jeff Green ‘starting to take off’ 04.04.13 at 10:05 am ET
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Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers

Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and talked about the final month of the regular season, the Mike Rice controversy at Rutgers, and how he almost played for Bobby Knight at Indiana.

The Celtics clinched a playoff berth Wednesday with a 98-93 victory over the Pistons. Jeff Green scored 34 points and hit a key 3-pointer in the final minute, continuing his resurgence after sitting out last season following heart surgery.

“He missed a year last year. You just don’t walk back on the court and play well, especially with the injury that he had,” Rivers said. “I just think it took some time. This is the next phase of his career, and he’s starting to take off.”

The Celtics head into the home stretch of the regular season looking to take advantage of some well-timed off days.

“This is a great stretch here,” Rivers said. “I hope we can really improve out team over this next week, because we practice [and] days off. So it’s a pretty good stretch here for us to try to get some improvement in.

Kevin Garnett remains out with an ankle injury, but Rivers said he expects the team’s inspirational leader to return in time to get some games under his belt before the playoffs.

“He’ll play soon,” Rivers said. “I don’t know if he’ll play Friday, but I think he’ll be playing pretty soon.”

The big news in the basketball world this week was the reaction to the videotape of since-fired Rutgers coach Mike Rice abusing players in practices.

“I did see the video and it was just shocking,” Rivers said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that in any practice that I’ve been in. … I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Added Rivers: “I don’t know coach Rice at all. But obviously I think when he saw that, you understand that he probably changed as well, which is a good thing for him. But that was hard to watch. And I just felt for those kids. Because the college kids, they go to college and their careers are in coaches’ hands. So, they will not complain no matter how bad things are, because they all have this dream of making it to the NBA, and they don’t want to be they guy, that guy that started a scandal and get the black mark. So, they can really be taken advantage of. In that case, they were.”

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Jason Terry on M&M: Celtics will see Heat in postseason, ‘and it’s going to be be fireworks’ 03.22.13 at 2:24 pm ET
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Jason Terry

Jason Terry

Celtics guard Jason Terry spoke with Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon from Dallas, where he’s preparing to play against his former team, and talked about the C’s mindset following Wednesday’s disappointing loss as well as his reaction to the LeBron James dunk that made Terry fodder on the Internet.

“I’m going to be fired up,” Terry said of Friday night’s matchup against the Mavericks. “This is a big game for us — not only for me, but for our team. We dropped one in New Orleans, we definitely shouldn’t have lost to them. We’ve got to get back and get things rolling.”

Terry said coach Doc Rivers stressed the need for better focus following Wednesday’s 87-86 loss to the Hornets.

“It’s all about learning at this point, learning how to close and finish ballgames,” Terry said. “Especially when you’re up 10, 15 points. You have to keep it going. We kind of went into cruise control mode. We got lackluster, especially with our execution. We just don’t have that luxury. Rajon Rondo‘s not coming back. So we have to do it by committee and we all have to take ownership and take pride in executing and finishing games, on both ends of the floor.

“We’ve learned from that, we watched a lot of film, and Doc ripped us a new one today in shootaround. So, just expect us to bounce back tonight and be more efficient when we do get the lead.”

Terry was posterized by James in Monday’s loss to the Heat. James later said he enjoyed the dunk because of his personal rivalry with trash-talking Terry. The dunk earned legendary status on the Internet.

“[The way] social media is today, it’s just unbelievable,” Terry said. “But I will say, I did get a kick out of the one when I was in a coffin, laying in the coffin, and the pallbearers were [Kevin Garnett] and Paul Pierce. That was hilarious. It’s all in fun, it’s all in the spirit of the sport.

“But I’ll tell you right now, I would love to see Miami in the playoffs, because the road to the championship goes through the champion. We’re fired up. We love that matchup.”

Terry said his issue is more with the Heat than LeBron. Terry’s Mavericks lost to the Heat in the 2006 NBA finals and got revenge in the 2011 rematch.

“It’s just the Miami Heat,” Terry said. “Is it the red and black? Maybe. I hate that color. I just don’t like them. … It goes back to ’05-06. It doesn’t matter who’s in those Miami Heat uniforms. … [The Mavericks were] up 2-0 and [the Heat] come back and win four straight games and you lose the NBA finals. So, LeBron inherited something bigger than the matchup of he and I. It’s about the Miami Heat and that organization. He picked his poison.

“They put him on me to shut me down in the NBA finals in 2011 and he couldn’t get the job done. Hopefully he’ll have another chance this year in the Eastern Conference finals or wherever we match up. But I’m telling you right now, I love us, I love the way we’re built. We miss Rondo, we miss [Jared] Sullinger, but with this team we have, we have a chance.”

Added Terry: “You know at some point — I don’t want to say that it’s fixed — I think it’s going to happen. We are going to see them, and it’s going to be fireworks.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I don’t second-guess’ Paul Pierce’s final shot 03.19.13 at 11:28 am ET
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Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers

Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning, hours after Monday night’s tough 105-103 loss to LeBron James and the streaking Heat.

“I thought we competed well,” Rivers said. “I thought we had a lot of chances to win the game. For me, and for our players, we’re really disappointed. But I think we would enjoy that matchup [in the playoffs], there’s no doubt about that.”

Rivers said the Celtics’ biggest issues were their failure to continue to push the pace after having early success playing the Heat’s preferred uptempo style, as well as turnovers and defensive miscues.

“We did make some mistakes,” Rivers said. “The turnovers, I though, cost us the game. And then our defensive mistakes — game-planning mistakes that I was frustrated with. We gave up three or four, I’ll maybe even say five or six layups to the basket where we were switching and we shouldn’t have. Those are the things that hurt you.”

The Celtics had a chance to take the lead in the final seconds, but Paul Pierce missed a fadeaway 3-pointer off an inbounds pass.

“I don’t mind that,” Rivers said. “Listen, he got a good look at it. He maybe could have drove, I don’t know. I don’t question those types of shots at the end of the game. Because he makes those shots. If it goes in, it’s a great shot. If it doesn’t go in, then could we have gotten a better shot? I don’t know.”

Added Rivers: “Paul takes fadeaways. That’s part of his shot. Having said that, the play was really what it was, except for it wasn’t designed for a 3. Jason Terry actually set a terrific pick on LeBron. LeBron actually got tangled up on it — give him credit, he closes so quick it’s amazing. But the play was just for a pin-down from Jason Terry, because I knew they didn’t want to get off his body. And I thought Paul would have an opening. And Paul went out to the 3. He didn’t probably have to. He may have been able to tight curl that. But I don’t second-guess that.”

Jeff Green scored 43 points, but he was not involved in the Celtics’ final offensive play.

“He just had the shot before that,” Rivers explained. “Paul’s a better shot-maker low clock. Jeff Green is great, obviously. But they guarded him. There was a back screen for him on the back side of that. There was more than one option on the play. The guy who takes the ball out decides who he thinks is open.”

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Report: Kevin Garnett refused offer from Chris Paul to make trade happen 02.22.13 at 6:57 am ET
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Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett said all along he wanted to remain a Celtic, and apparently he said the same thing to Chris Paul after the All-Star guard called to gauge KG’s interest in joining the Clippers.

According to the Boston Herald‘s Mark Murphy, Paul contacted Garnett and said if the veteran big man was open to making the move to Los Angeles, Paul would make it happen. Garnett said no.

The oft-rumored trade would have landed the Celtics center DeAndre Jordan and guard Eric Bledsoe.

The Celtics ended up making one move before Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline, acquiring Jordan Crawford from the Wizards for center Jason Collins and injured guard Leandro Barbosa.

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