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Are the Celtics finally showing their true grit? 12.09.12 at 10:12 pm ET
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Before Saturday night’s game, Doug Collins told his team that Kevin Garnett had over 51,000 minutes played in his career while Paul Pierce had over 40,000. Collins’ counterpart, Doc Rivers, the ultimate motivator, spoke to the team and made sure Garnett got the message.

‘€œI don’€™t know,” Rivers said. “I don’€™t think anybody should be that tired this early, but Doug’€™s right about the one thing these games: you play each other, you split them. That’€™s basically what happened. But I hope we are. When you guys asked before the game ‘€“ they’€™ve played a long time and so you’€™re hoping they have great mental toughness. I mean, if they don’€™t have anything else that’€™s what they should have, and they do.’€

Garnett may not have had legs on back-to-back to games as he was held without a rebound for the first time since Jan. 21, 1997 but his shooting eye certainly was not impacted.

Garnett was 9-of-11 and finished with 19 points in 24 minutes as the Celtics beat the Sixers, 92-79, a night after spending lots of emotional energy in a 95-94 overtime loss.

Is Rivers worried about the dependence on Garnett?

‘€œNo, I mean, Miami depends on LeBron (James), the Lakers depend on Kobe (Bryant), Oklahoma depends on (Kevin) Durant, we depend on our guys. You’€™re always going to depend on them. I thought overall everyone else played great, though, and we had that one bad stretch. So, you know, it happens.’€

To Rivers, toughness begins with defense and that’s the characteristic he’s starting to see game in and game out with the Celtics. The Celtics have allowed fewer than 100 points in six straight games, dating back to their overtime win in Orlando. In those games, the Celtics have gone
3-3 but they’ve started to show the kind of pressure that Rivers wants to see on the ball.

‘€œIt’€™s been great; it really has been,” Rivers said. “You know, we can’€™t string a streak of wins together yet, but you can feel us playing better. So you feel like it’€™s coming, just nothing’€™s happened. We’€™re treading water but I like our trend; I like where we’€™re going.

“The pick and roll defense has improved dramatically, but our rotation still is not there, but they’€™re much better. Our pressuring the ball, you know without Avery (Bradley), we just kind of backed off of that. So I know that’€™s an area we’€™re going to get way better. Because when he does it everyone does it and it helps your team. Right now it’€™s just hard to do.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers,
Jeff Green thinks ‘things are turning the corner’ 12.09.12 at 6:23 pm ET
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This is the Jeff Green every Celtics fan – and Green himself – has been waiting for.

In the last five games, Green has become the go-to guy off the bench, reaching double figures four times while averaging 16 points and 4.2 rebounds.

To top it all off, his long-range shot has been starting to fall much more consistently. He is shooting 54 percent from the field.

That’s a far cry from the 7.7 points and 2.5 rebounds he was averaging in the previous 15 games. In that stretch, he was shooting just 40 percent from the floor.

“I just went through a slump,” Green said. “Every player goes through one. Now shots are going in for me; things are turning the corner.”

“It’s just about being more aggressive, getting the rim so I can get into a rhythm, offensively. Get easy looks and the other shots will start to fall.

What makes Doc Rivers so happy is that he isn’t being forced to draw up new plays to get Green good looks. They’re all coming from Green himself.

“I think Jeff is just freeing himself up,” Rivers said after Saturday’s 92-79 win over the Sixers, in which he scored 16 points in 23 minutes off the bench, converting 7-of-12 shots from the floor. “He’s starting to do it and it’s really been good.”

Finally, it looks like Green isn’t worried about meeting the expectations of a four-year, $36 million contract signed this summer.

The more he plays like Saturday, the more confident he gets. And when Green plays with confidence, he begins to fly all over the court. Green converted a pair of dunks, including a slam on a alley-oop from Rajon Rondo that put the Celtics up, 81-63 with 7:44 left in the game.

“I’m getting there. My bounce is getting there,” Green said. “It’s been a slow process but it’s coming along.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jeff Green, NBA
Doc Rivers pays his respect – in person- to Rick Majerus 12.08.12 at 7:11 pm ET
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In a whirlwind of a day, Doc Rivers traveled from Philadelphia to Milwaukee for Saturday morning’s funeral of his former assistant coach and close friend Rick Majerus.

“I’ve been with Rick since fifth grade for the most part so I felt like I had to be there. It was important for me,” Rivers said. It was Majerus who gave Rivers his nickname of “Doc” when he showed up at a basketball camp wearing a Julius Erving t-shirt.

Rivers then jumped on plane and made it back to Boston, getting back about 90 minutes before Saturday night’s tip-off with Philadelphia at TD Garden. Rivers said he didn’t give much consideration to not coaching Saturday.

“If I really want to [tick] Rick off, then don’t coach the game,” Rivers joked. “No, I didn’t give that much thought. Life is involved with what we do every day. You deal with life and then you deal with your job. I always try to separate them when you can. Sometimes, you can’t.”

Other notes:

Doc on Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday: “Jrue right now is an all-star, and Evan played like one last night for sure. He made a couple of incredible shots. His game-winning shot, he was trapped for the most part, he puts up a one-handed push shot. The blocked shot by [Paul Pierce] and getting the rebound and he had another one where he split our pick-and-roll [defense]. That’s what he does. That’s what he’s always done. He did it in college. He made three sensational plays. I think he’s getting comfortable in our league right now. I thought it started last year and I think it carried on to this year.”

Rivers had some good-natured fun with Doug Collins after being told that Collins expects to take advantage of the fact that Pierce and Kevin Garnett have combined to play an extraordinary number of minutes combined in their careers: “We played how many minutes, 51,000? We’re smarter. We’re the wiser team. I don’t know how you counteract that. I tell you what you can’t do. You can’t turn the ball over.”

The Celtics committed 19 turnovers leading to 21 Philadelphia points in Friday’s overtime loss. The Sixers committed just nine.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Dr. J, Evan Turner
Kevin Garnett: Being called soft ‘still lives in the back of our minds’ 12.06.12 at 1:51 am ET
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Kevin Garnett had heard enough about how the Celtics couldn’t rebound. He had heard it from the fans, media and even his head coach.

Doc Rivers put another carrot in front of his team this week when he said Kevin Love and the Timberwolves would kill the Celtics on the glass if they didn’t bring energy Wednesday night. Safe to say, the message hit home with Garnett and the Celtics, who outrebounded Minnesota, 45-41 in a 104-94 win at TD Garden.

“I think what you see here is that we as a team are trying to be better at rebounding,” Garnett said. “Doc’s been on our [butt] about giving up offensive rebounds, playing tougher, establishing something. Obviously, being called soft is not something that you want to be called. It still lives in the back of our minds. Still a work in progress.”

‘€œThis is a very good team we played tonight,” Garnett said beating a Timberwolves team that handled the Sixers a night before in Philadelphia. “They put it to Philly the night before and obviously they played back to back, but a very good team. Kevin Love has been a cast over there and it was by no means an easy game for us.’€

Garnett finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds as his energy and attack mentality against Kevin Love led the way.

“When I’m out there hoopin’, I’m not really conscious of when it comes to defense,” Garnett said. “I know where my energy needs to be. I know my primary role. But I’m efficient. I know what I’m doing. I try to be aggressive when they need to be.”

Love had 19 points and 13 rebounds but the Celtics we able to control the Minnesota front court.

‘€œWe were aggressive, and we were aggressive from the early part of the game,” Garnett said. “We established a post early on. I thought defensively we played with a lot of energy. We made them go to their second and third options which is something they don’€™t like to do, but we did a decent job on Kevin. He obviously had a double double but for the most part we slowed him down a little bit and controlled the tempo. Having Rondo back was big for us, I thought he brought a lot of big energy. He was excited that he was back and probably fed off that.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
Doc Rivers: ‘Just glad’ Austin Rivers is playing while Avery Bradley provides ‘great news’ 12.05.12 at 8:04 pm ET
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Sometimes Celtics head coach Doc Rivers sounds a lot like Bill Belichick.

Such was the case Wednesday pre-game when he was told that Avery Bradley told reporters he’s “maybe a week or two” from returning to practice after a pair of shoulder surgeries.

“Is that right? That’s great to hear,” Rivers said with a hearty laugh and smile. “I’m very happy to hear the news! Honestly, I didn’t know that because I don’t check. [Trainer Eddie Lacerte] will tell us when it’s time. I don’t focus on that stuff, guys being out. I have to focus on the guys wearing the uniform. With Avery, I talk to him every day and see how he’s doing, and I kid him about it but I don’t really ask.”

Rivers also spoke about his son Austin playing for the New Orleans Hornets, who may be on the verge of changing their name. Names like the Pelicans and Brass have been thrown out there to give the team a more regional flare. “I’m just glad he’s playing,” Rivers said.

On the return of Greg Stiemsma: “I’d love to have him here but I’m happy for him. He took advantage of a great situation, and I’m glad he did. He was terrific here.”

On Kevin Garnett and his impact on the Celtics and Timberwolves: “There’s a Hall of Fame and then there’s a table at the Hall of Fame Kevin has a table at the Hall of Fame”

Rivers said that Leandro Barbosa showed up Wednesday and will dress but is hoping to stay away from playing him as he is still under the weather.

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Greg Steimsma, Kevin Garnett
Paul Pierce and Celtics get another chance to prove their toughness against Kevin Love 12.04.12 at 6:46 pm ET
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WALTHAM ‘€” All season, the Celtics have been looking for a chance to prove their toughness.

At 9-8, they get another chance Wednesday night when they host the most impressive rebounder in the NBA. Kevin Love isn’t among the league leaders with 15.3 rebounds per game since he’s played just six games due to a broken knuckle on his right hand. But he will be eventually.

“Kevin Love is one of the best rebounders of our era,” said C’s coach Doc Rivers. “I know that’s saying something early on in his career, but he really is.”

In addition to coaching against him, Rivers got an up close and personal look at Love at the Olympics in London. Love, as Rivers noted Tuesday, was there helping Team USA flex its muscle early on in the Games while Team USA was still finding itself.

“Two of those games early in the Olympics were kind of close in the first half, the U.S. would have been down by 20 but Kevin Love kept getting rebounds and you stare at it and watch it, it’s an art.”

“Our main objective is to try and slow him down,” Paul Pierce said. “He’s shown he can dominate the game with his offensive rebounding, and defensive rebounding. That’s definitely an emphasis.”

Rivers thought the Celtics cleared a mental hurdle against the Thunder and Kevin Durant. Then they barely beat the Magic two days later and were beat up by the Nets. Pierce knows the Celtics can’t afford a relapse, even if they handle Love and the Timberwolves Wednesday.

“Going up against a guy like that definitely is a chance but it’s something you want to see consistently,” Pierce said. “In order to build and in order to get better, you can’t just pick your moments because you get one of the more physical players in the NBA coming into our building. It has to be a something that’s a mindset that we have to be able to do every night, regardless of who we’re going against”

Love is also averaging 21.7 points and represents the ultimate toughness challenge for Pierce and the Celtics, because he can also step back and shoot the three, though he has shot just 19.4 percent from long range this season.

“Kevin Love is such a different kind of player,” Pierce said. “He’s a power forward but he can step out and shoot the three, but he’s an interior player when it comes to rebounding and doing all the dirty work.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Love, NBA
Rajon Rondo messes with reporters, admits time away from Celtics ‘was difficult’ 12.04.12 at 3:58 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Rajon Rondo said he really got away during his league-imposed two-game suspension for his role in the brawl last Wednesday with the Nets.

“I went to Mexico for a couple of days and watched the games,” said Rondo, who was immediately asked if he was being serious. “It was cool.”

Rondo, who practiced with the team on Monday and Tuesday, said he just wanted to give his body a chance to rest. Team officials had no knowledge of Rondo traveling outside the country, leading to the conclusion that Rondo was simply joking with reporters.

“Why not? Had days off, allow my body to get a chance to rest,” Rondo said, insisting again that he went south of the border. “I wanted to be out there with my teammates but obviously a two-game suspension, and I was glued in front of the TV.

“Hopefully, I don’t feel too winded [Wedensday]. I’ve been off for about a week. We’ll see [Wednesday].”

The Celtics return to action on Wednesday night at 7:30, when they host Kevin Love and the Timberwolves at TD Garden. The Celtics went 1-1 without Rondo, beating Portland Friday easily before blowing a 17-point lead Saturday and losing in Milwaukee.

“We moved the ball very well without me,” Rondo said. “Guys played great, guys stepped up. Courtney [Lee] played well. We got off to a great start in Milwaukee but our defense slipped in terms of our blitz pick-and-roll defense. Other than that, the guys did a great job.”

Rondo said there was no lesson learned from the suspension. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Mexico, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA
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