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Brian Scalabrine: ‘The Celtics are one really good center away’ 10.22.14 at 12:34 pm ET
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Brian Scalabrine says the Celtics are one player away from being a contender. (Courtesy 2 Gingers)

Brian Scalabrine, who was the featured guest at a party Tuesday night welcoming him back to Boston, says the Celtics are one player away from being one of the East’s top teams. (Courtesy 2 Gingers)

Boston, he’s home.

Brian Scalabrine announced his homecoming in LeBron James-esque fashion in August, as the former Celtics power forward will handle the bulk of color commentary for Celtics road games this season for Comcast Sports New England.

“LeBron really set the template for me,” a smiling Scalabrine said. “But I put that letter together once I knew I was going back to Boston and I wasn’t coaching anymore.”

Scalabrine returned to Boston on Tuesday night for a welcome home party at Battery Park hosted by 2 Gingers Irish whiskey, and he sat down with WEEI.com to share his thoughts on why he’s no longer coaching, Rajon Rondo‘s future in green, and his memories playing with the NBA champion Celtics.

Although he was demoted last season from his job as a Warriors assistant coach after having a falling out with then-coach Mark Jackson, Scalabrine said he left coaching — despite having offers — to spend more time with his family, including three children under the age of 8.

“It’s better for me, right now in my life, to have a much better balance in my life with my family and basketball,” he explained. “It looked like leaving coaching was not my decision, but in reality, it was my decision to leave the Warriors.”

While Celtics fans will enjoy the opportunity to hear Scalabrine analyze games and banter with Mike Gorman during road trips, he said he did have opportunities to join an NBA staff this season, including that of new Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

“I could have gone back to Golden State,” he said. “I could have coached with Doc [Rivers], and could have coached with Thibs [Tom Thibodeau] in Chicago.

“But I still have an opportunity to coach. I had an opportunity to work out players before the draft, and I worked out Marcus Smart, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid. This job is a great opportunity to be around the game without the grind of film and all the other major commitments.”

Scalabrine isn’t shy to admit the Celtics — as currently constituted — are a fringe playoff team. But he says they’re not as far away as some might think.

“The Celtics are one really good center away,” he said. “And I’m talking about a guy who can plug the lane or roll down the lane, get the ball from Rondo and rise up. This team has Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, two really good stretch 4’s that also rebound and defend their position. But if you add a 5 to the mix — a Steven Adams type or Omer Asik — this team goes from fighting to make the playoffs to a team fighting for home-court advantage.”

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Read More: Brian Scalabrine, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo,
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett ‘happy’ for playoff support of Celtics fans during Nets run 04.24.14 at 4:25 pm ET
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Paul Pierce knows the postseason as well as he knows Boston.

“This is the playoffs,”€ he said from the Nets practice facility in East Rutherford, N.J. “This is do or die.”

Pierce played 136 playoff games over 15 seasons for the Celtics. His 24,021 points rank second on the team’s all-time scoring list, brought a championship back to Boston in 2008, and also earned the NBA Finals MVP that very same season. The Truth restored meaning to the NBA’€™s signature franchise, so No. 34 still appreciates that Celtics fans are watching his run in Brooklyn.

“There’€™s a lot of fans [in Boston],” he added, “and I’€™m happy for their support.”

Kevin Garnett spent the last six seasons as a Celtic, patrolling the Garden paint and delivering a Bill Russell-esque intensity focused completely on winning. Up until this season, Garnett had played his last 84 playoff games for Boston, providing the interior defense, elbows, scowls and growls that the people of Boston know intimately well.

“€œThis is a different level of intensity,”€ said Garnett, who verified the fans in Boston understand that vigor and fury. “€œA different level of concentration. Some people can withstand that for 48 minutes, and some can’€™t.”

Pierce and Garnett helped Brooklyn split the first two games with the Atlantic Division champion Raptors. Now the Nets head back to play two home games in the Barclays Center, a place Pierce still finds odd calling home. He has registered two playoff games so far for the Nets, and is still getting used to placing his long arms through a green and white jersey before each game.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Garnett, NBA
As he turns 84, Spider Edwards spins web of Garden memories 03.08.14 at 2:41 am ET
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Boston’€™s favorite ‘€œSpider’€ turns 84 Saturday.

Rudolph “Spider” Edwards helped the Boston Garden run for 33 years during his time working with the building’€™s manual labor team, the acclaimed “Bull Gang.” Though he won’€™t be celebrating his birthday at the Garden, he will be wearing a fedora, a trademark of his ever since 1941.

“€œWe were visiting my grandmother in St. Petersburg, Fla., for my 11th birthday,” recalled Edwards. “My grandmother gave one to me, and I’€™ve been wearing one ever since. She said a man wasn’€™t dressed unless his shoes were shined and he was in a suit, tie and a hat.”

Spider is remembered fondly for his time cleaning the Garden parquet with style, grace and even a touch of flair during home games for the Celtics. Mop in hand, striding across the parquet, he always commanded more of the spotlight than one might expect from his 5-foot-5 frame. His enthusiasm resonated with those around him. The bounce in his step and his shamrock-covered Celtics jacket were fixtures of any game at the Garden from the day he started in 1964 all the way to end in 1997. Throughout his three decades at the Garden, Edwards took a great deal of pride in doing his job.

“Oh, absolutely,” said Edwards. “€œOtherwise, there was no point in doing it. I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed the people who were around me.”

And the people enjoyed him, too.

“€œHe’€™s one of our great treasures,”€ said NBA Hall of Famer and Celtics all-time leading scorer John Havlicek. “€œHe seemed to be enjoying his job at the Garden and the familiarity with many of the basketball and hockey players.”€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dave Cowens, John Havlicek, spider edwards,
‘You learn every day': Brad Stevens experiment nears end of first year with Celtics 02.26.14 at 11:34 am ET
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HANDS ON HIS KNEES, gasping for air, there stood a teenaged Danny Ainge. Covered in sweat, surrounded by members of the Portland Trail Blazers, Ainge looked up to see the greatest Blazer of all. With his shaggy beard and full head of red hair, there was a smiling Bill Walton.

“I’ve known Danny since I moved to Oregon 40 years ago,” said Walton. “He was just in high school in Eugene when we got there. Danny would come up and play with us when he was in high school, and he would do just fine. In fact, he was incredibly fun to play with.”

The young Ainge, still sharpening his teeth as a three-sport All-American at North Eugene High School, would impress his NBA teammates with a strong handle and perfect jumper. The piece of his game that most impressed these professional basketball players was one that still cannot be found on a stat sheet. Ainge’s intelligence put him on another level as a basketball player.

“Danny Ainge is brilliant,” said Walton. “Even at a young age, he was very motivated, dedicated and committed. He’€™s always been a visionary.”

Ainge has always embraced different ideas. Conventional wisdom is not a phrase you hear the 54-year-old utter to defend his thought process. Just as Ainge was dedicated to the idea of playing professional basketball, he’s now applied his drive to his role as a president of basketball operations for the Celtics. And, depending on who is speaking, his latest big idea may be his greatest.

THE BOSTON CELTICS are spitting in the face of history. Luring Brad Stevens away from Butler and flying him first-class to Boston is a daring move even for a team with a deep history of bold moves. The Celtics, after all, hired the first African-American head coach in the NBA. Amidst all sorts of race issues in the United States, this franchise started the first entirely black starting five. The team, led by the undaunted Red Auerbach, was never hesitant. The Celtics thought differently, courageously, unafraid — in 1950, one year before Oliver Brown and friends began their battle against the Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas — the Celtics used a second-round pick on Chuck Cooper, the first black player to be drafted by an NBA team and the second to appear in a game (one day after Washington Capitols forward Earl Lloyd). Trendsetting rarely has surfaced as an issue at 151 Merrimac Street. Yet with Ainge’s hiring of Stevens, the fabled Celtics franchise is following a trend with an extremely high failure rate. College coaches from the past two decades have not succeeded in the NBA. But here are the Celtics, hiring a 37-year-old coach who never played a second of pro basketball, reintroducing the league to a rather old concept. Not that Stevens will fail, but that the Celtics — led by Ainge — will reset the trend. The rest of the league, pawns outplayed by a dominating queen, will see the Celtics succeed with Stevens.

“Brad is smart, he has great integrity, his teams execute and play hard, and he’s a great communicator,” said Ainge. “Experience as a player can help as a coach, but it’s not mandatory. Experience as a coach in college can make a big difference as well. Coach Stevens has proven he’s a great coach. Coaching in the NBA is different, I understand, but in terms of coaching experience, there have been a lot of guys who have become really good coaches that weren’t NBA players.”

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Read More: Bill Walton, Brad Stevens, Charles Barkley, Danny Ainge
ESPN’s Tom Penn: ‘I think there is significant interest’ in Kris Humphries 02.19.14 at 1:39 pm ET
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With Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline approaching, ESPN NBA analyst Tom Penn said Wednesday is the day to look for deals to take shape.

“Today’€™s always ‘€˜real deal’€™ day,” said Penn, who will appear on ESPN’s “Trade Deadline Special” Thursday at 3 p.m. “You start finally talking real deals, and then you’€™ll try to get them done tomorrow, and I expect to see quite a bit of movement. On a macro-picture, with the West being wide open, everyone should be looking to upgrade. In the East, strangely, you have some teams trying to get as bad they can get, so you have deals going in every direction.”

Penn worked as assistant general manager for the Grizzlies and then vice president of basketball operations for the Trail Blazers, and he has direct experience negotiating with Danny Ainge.

“Danny’€™s a pro,” said Penn, “a pro’€™s pro. He’€™s done everything in this league, and he’€™s had success making mega-deals and making smaller deals. He’€™s not bashful about asking for what he wants.”

Added Penn: “With Danny, he was always very confident in what he had and very direct in what he wanted to do. He tended to offer deals that were really good for the Celtics and really not so good for the other team, and he did so unashamedly.”

A major deal for Rajon Rondo seems unlikely, but Penn identified Kris Humphries and Brandon Bass as the C’€™s two most desirable trade assets.

“The main challenge finding a match to give the Celtics what they want,” explained Penn. “Humphries [earning $12 million this season] is a lively big on an expiring contract, so I think there is significant interest in getting him, but his contract is the only significant expiring contract for the Celtics.

Keith Bogans can go away, we know that, but the Celtics really need that money to go away. So they would be looking for a different combination of one-year expiring contracts and then something for the trouble, right? So that’€™s harder to see a match when you factor in what they need.”

Bass, who has another year left on his contract, is the most likely Celtic to be moved.

“A player like Brandon Bass is very valuable this year and next year to whoever’€™s looking at him,” Penn said. “His salary is [$6.4 million], and he’€™s been proven to deliver in the playoffs [most notably an 18-point quarter in game five of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals against the 76ers]. He can spread the floor, make shots, and isn’€™t going to hurt you too bad defensively.

“Unlike Humphries, who you’€™re just renting for the rest of this season, with Brandon you have in the fold for next year and see if he fits with you longer term. In Bass’€™ case, it’€™s easier to give up more of what the Celtics want — a younger piece, or a draft pick — when you know you have this player for two years.”

The NBA trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m.

Read More: Brandon Bass, Danny Ainge, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries
Jeff Green on Celtics’ defense: ‘Lately, we’ve been (expletive)’ 12.27.13 at 9:04 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics returned to practice for a second straight day after their three-day holiday break, Friday. The opportunity to end their three-game losing streak comes Saturday afternoon (1) taking on the Cavs, who are also desperate for a win after dropping their last three.

“If we don’t play well,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens, “we’ll get beat. [Kyrie] Irving and [Dion] Waiters can get to the rim on us, they can get to the rim on everybody. If we don’t defend well, it’s going to be hard for us to win.”

The Celtics prefer to start on offense in transition, so forcing turnovers is critical for their success. Jeff Green, for one, has not been pleased with the team’s effort on defense.

“Lately, we’ve been [expletive],” said Green. “We’ve been giving up a lot of points and a lot of easy looks.

“Our defense,” continued Green, “is the key.”

The Celtics defeated the Cavs at the TD Garden, 103-86, on November 29. Jordan Crawford is excited to match up again with Cleveland start Kyrie Irving, though he understands it’s far from an individual match-up.

“It’s a team effort,” said Crawford. “Kyrie’s looking for his, and once you key in on him, he’ll find the others. But you want to step up to the challenge. He’s a great player, so you want to see where you at.”

Also of note from practice was Rajon Rondo working on two additional agility drills. In what has become a familiar sight, Phil Pressey was last to leave the court.

For a complete preview of Saturday’s matchup, click here.

Read More: Brad Stevens, Cavaliers, Celtics, Jeff Green
Brad Stevens knows road success depends on C’s finding ‘outstanding’ defense 11.15.13 at 8:38 pm ET
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As the Celtics embark on a four game/six night stretch, Brad Stevens is looking forward to the opportunity to see some of the Western Conference’s elite clubs. He is fully aware that his team will need to extremely sharp on the defensive end to keep their head above water against this type of elite type of competition.

“We’re going to have to be outstanding on the defensive end to have a chance to win these games,” said Stevens. “There’s no question about it. It’s one of those deals where you’re playing teams that you’ve got to play well against to have a chance to win. Defensively, every detail matters, every effort play matters, everything adds up.”

The Portland TrailBlazers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets, and San Antonio Spurs all present a multitude of challenges, yet the one consistent is an explosive guard and a dominating presence inside the post. Portland’s Damian Lillard/LaMarcus Aldridge precedes Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, and the beat goes on in Texas with the likes of James Harden, Dwight Howard, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan.

“I watched a few of our preseason games,” Stevens said, “just to kind of get a gauge of if they’re improving at the rate we’d like them to, and they’ve improved quite a bit defensively. Offensively, we’ve had our moments. I think we’ve improved, maybe more so, just because of our shifts and rotations. We still have a long way to go. We’re getting a lot better on the basketball. We were a lot better at defending the paint, even though we got back cut a few times in the first half [against Charlotte]. We’ve been good all year defending the 3-point line, knock on wood, so I think it’s one of those deals where we’ve got some strengths to us. But we’ve got to foul less and we’ve got to make sure we’re as good defending the post as we possibly can.”

Without Rajon Rondo, the Celtics lack a true NBA superstar yet still present a balanced team. The roster is full of capable players at the offensive end, so when the C’s move the ball, they can get a lot of people involved.

In order to be successful in this upcoming trip, they will need to continue to play hard defensively, remaining active on the ball and creating steals. Without a true point guard, the Celtics understand the value of scoring in transition. The biggest surprise this season is the team’s ability to move the basketball on offense. Stevens has this team moving the ball from side-to-side and playing an enjoyable brand of team basketball. Any time a team that moves the ball, that presents a major challenge. Another bonus for these upcoming games is the return of post presence Jared Sullinger, who the Celtics missed desperately with right knee soreness during this past Wednesday night’s loss to the Bobcats.

“We’re not as good on the block [without Sullinger], obviously,” confirmed Stevens. “Throwing it into the post [Monday] night against Orlando, we went on a 4-0 run when we were down [by] throwing him the ball. He gives us a little more flexibility playing inside-out, and that’s been when we’ve been at our best. He is probably our best low post player.”

Beginning with tonight’s game against the Blazers, the Celtics will have an opportunity to show the league their early success is no fluke, but instead the result of hard work and the team buying into the Stevens system.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Jared Sullinger, NBA
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