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Ray to Rondo: ‘This could be your last shot’ 02.04.10 at 12:34 am ET
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Ray Allen had a very simple message for his backcourt teammate before Wednesday’s game against Miami.

“I told [Rajon] Rondo earlier, I said this could be his last shot,” Allen said. “I told him, ‘You’ve got 10, 12-plus years left in the NBA, you’re making great money but this could be yours.

“I told him I went to the Eastern Conference finals in Milwaukee and the next year we just assumed we’re going to get back and we didn’t make the playoffs. So, it’s not guaranteed because you did it once or twice. It’s never guaranteed. So, we have to be very selfish about really wanting to be good now and really taking care of our bodies, making sure we hold each other accountable. And doing it in a good way.”

Allen and Rondo have been the focal point this week of trade rumors and locker room chemistry questions. But Allen made it clear following a 107-102 win over the Heat that he wants to go to battle with Rondo and the rest of the Celtics.

“Believe me, there’s not a better group of guys that I think are capable right now,” Allen said. “I’m not looking at our record (31-16), although our record is not too shabby. We have guys here, a roster than can win it.”

[Click here to hear what Allen had to say about wanting to stay with Rondo and his team]

More to the point, Allen sounded like a man who wants desperately to keep the relationships he’s forged over the last three seasons.

“All of these guys in this locker room are my brothers and I’m going to proceed forward that this could be it for all of us and we have to treat this season very specially and know that what comes out of it is what we want to come out of it, and that’s a championship,” he said.

Read More: Celtics, NBA, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen
Doc: At least Rondo’s been listening 02.03.10 at 8:42 pm ET
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Doc Rivers initially thought Rajon Rondo’s comments to Boston Herald reporter Steve Bulpett were blown out of proportion.

But upon further review, the Celtics coach said he would have written what Bulpett wrote. Moreover, he was happy with the fact that Rondo has apparently been listening to the coach’s pleas for better team chemistry and singleness of purpose on and off the court.

Here’s what Rivers had to say about Rondo’s thoughts on team chemistry before Wednesday’s game with Miami.

“I don’t mind that,” Rivers said. “There’s better ways of doing that but I don’t mind that. Even the comments he made, I didn’t mind much at all because, for one, it says at least he’s been listening. And that’s always a good thing.”

Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, NBA, Rajon Rondo
Daniels could return Sunday vs. Orlando 02.03.10 at 8:17 pm ET
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Marquis Daniels confirmed before Wednesday’s game that he will return to practice on Thursday for the first time since having surgery on his left thumb in early December.

Head coach Doc Rivers said he could possibly return on Sunday against Orlando but the more realistic date is next Wednesday in New Orleans against the Hornets. Rivers said he will not rush Daniels back just because Paul Pierce is questionable and day-to-day with a left mid-foot sprain.

Read More: Celtics, Marquis Daniels, NBA,
Kobe plays Keyshawn: ‘Give me the damn ball’ 01.31.10 at 8:26 pm ET
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Bad left ankle or not, injured right index finger or not, Kobe Bryant channeled Keyshawn Johnson on Sunday and made the Celtics pay in the end.

“I didn’t say, ‘Give me one more chance.’ I said, ‘Give me the damn ball.’ I didn’t really give [my team] much of a choice,” Bryant said of the moments in the huddle before his game-winner with 7.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

“All we talked about was the execution of [the play], where I was going to catch the ball. That was the only difference. Throughout the course of the game, I was pretty much a decoy because of all the traps they run, but if I catch it at the top of the floor, it’s a different story.”

Then there are Celtics fans, who had a slightly different perspective ‘€” one that had Bryant clearly pushing off of Ray Allen to create space for the game-winner.

“I just tried to create space and get to a spot where I could elevate and knock it down,” Bryant explained.

Speaking of pushing off, Bryant said his left ankle was so sore he couldn’t elevate, leading to this tidy little jab at Allen.

“Oh yeah, I couldn’t push off,” Bryant said. “Ray’s athletic, but my elevator goes to the 12th floor, his stays at the seventh. But I couldn’t get to the 12th floor today, so it was hurting.

“Special for me, personally, because I had opportunity to win the game last year and I didn’t do it. I didn’t get the shot I wanted, so I wanted to make sure I redeemed myself today.”

Mr. Zenmaster himself, Phil Jackson ‘€” who tied Pat Riley for all-time wins by a Lakers coach on Sunday with his 733rd ‘€” said nothing feels better than putting the game in Bryant’s hands.

“He had a couple of looks before that that were good looks in that area and we were mystified he couldn’t put it in. He told me the next one he got out there he would drop it in and so we went with it,” Jackson said.

Read More: Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Lakers,
KG still finding his way 01.31.10 at 5:06 pm ET
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BOSTON — It’s pretty obvious Kevin Garnett is not the same player he was two years ago when he was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the centerpiece of Boston’s run to a 17th NBA title.

Surgery to remove bone spurs behind his right knee last summer and a hyperextended right knee suffered late in December has slowed his return to form.

Doc Rivers still believes Garnett can get back to the top defensively ‘€” hopefully taking the Celtics along for the ride. More than that, he still expects it.

‘€œI can [expect Garnett back to form], but not right now,” Rivers said conditionally. “But really, none of our guys who have come back, you can’€™t hold any of them to their normal standards right now. Our biggest issue with our injuries is that they’€™re healthy but they’€™re not ready to play basketball at this level yet.

Paul [Pierce] had his first big game in Atlanta since he’€™s been back. Kevin is still [getting back]. The key is you still have to play them the minutes. The only way they’€™re going to get back is by keeping them on the floor and let them get their minutes. The tough part is while you’€™re doing that, the team struggles a little bit.’€

[Click here to hear Doc Rivers talk about Garnett’s return.]

Rivers has maintained all along that the Celtics need Garnett back to form late in the spring ‘€” when the season truly is on the line. In the meantime, they’ll have to live with the inconsistencies.

‘€œI think he can do it,” Rivers said of Garnett returning to form. “The No. 1 thing is getting them back to that level. I just think it’€™s more timing. When you look at Kevin, it’€™s amazing watching him. The Orlando game, his timing was completely off the entire game. Then the Atlanta game, all of sudden he had good timing.

“I just think it’€™s going to be that way for a while. The guy it’€™s most frustrating to is him because he’€™s knows it. The Orlando game at halftime, I thought he was going to beat himself up if he could, because he knew it. He was trying to talk himself into slowing down. I was just telling him, ‘€˜Just play. It is what it is. It’€™s going to happen for you. You just have to keep playing.’€™ ‘€

Read More: Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA,
Doc on Lakers: ‘Better than last year’ 01.31.10 at 3:51 pm ET
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BOSTON  —  Doc Rivers knows how tough it is to repeat. The Celtics won the title in 2008 and won 66 games.

Last year, the Celtics won 62 but lost in seven games to the Magic in the Eastern Conference semifinals when being without Kevin Garnett proved to be just too much to overcome.

Instead of a repeat, the Lakers won the title. And before Sunday’s game, Rivers sounded just a tad envious because instead of losing two key players like Boston lost in James Posey and P.J. Brown, the Lakers added Ron Artest, Shannon Brown and a healthy Andrew Bynum.

‘€œI think having won the title, having the same title back , adding Artest, that continuity and health I think those have been three pretty good things for them,” Rivers said. “Gasol has been in and out for them, which hurt them early in the year, too. It’€™s rare when you get a championship team that adds to their team and they did. You don’€™t see that very often. People are taking away from championship teams. It’€™s rare that they come back better and they’€™re better than last year.

‘€œI thought we took away from it. Losing Posey hurt us, losing P.J. Brown hurt us. But I think we’€™ve addressed that. Bringing in Marquis this year, bringing in Rasheed this year.”

[Click here to listen to Rivers compare his 2009 Celtics to the 2010 Lakers, teams attempting to defend a title.]

Read More: Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, NBA
How Rondo is like Brett Favre 01.26.10 at 9:57 pm ET
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WALTHAM ‘€” Celtics coach Doc Rivers wants his supremely talented point guard to get downright defensive.

Rivers has spent the last three years trying to instill in Rajon Rondo the kind of traits Rivers used to gain a reputation as one of the best defensive guards in the NBA in the 1980s.

Right now, Rivers knows the reputation Rondo has around the league. Go at Rondo and make him try to stop you, since defense hasn’t always come naturally for the guard. On Tuesday, following practice, Rivers drew a analogy between Rondo and another pro athlete.

“I think teams try to go at Rondo because of his size and because they want to try and get him to gamble,” Rivers said. “It’s like trying to make Brett Favre try and throw across his body. It’s who you are, and teams know that and try to take advantage of that.”

[Click here to hear Doc Rivers talk about how defense led to Rondo’s development into a possible All-Star]

Like Favre on Sunday with an ill-advised cross-body pass that was picked, Rondo’s season came to a bitter end in Game 7 last spring against the Orlando Magic, a game in which some critics felt Rondo hurt the team by constantly gambling for steals instead of playing solid defense on Orlando’s dangerous backcourt. Read the rest of this entry »

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