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Paul Pierce: Celtics ‘defense has got to come a lot faster’ 11.02.12 at 10:08 am ET
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WALTHAM — Paul Pierce, as captain of the Celtics, has a way of sending a clear message to his team.

That was evident during the TNT telecast of Tuesday night’s season-opening loss in Miami.

He was wearing a microphone and barking out calls on the floor and words of encouragement to Rajon Rondo when things weren’t always going well.

On Thursday, before the Celtics home opener tonight against the Bucks, he was barking out something else.

“The defense has got to come a lot faster, and that’s something that’s come a lot faster in the past than the offense,” Pierce said of Boston’s 120 points allowed in a 120-107 loss to the Heat. “I’m pretty surprised we scored 107 points, to tell you the truth. Usually, the defense, we pick it up pretty fast. We understand our schemes, our rotations. But I just think we have to understand the type of atmosphere it was going to be. Some of the guys have never been in that atmosphere before, first game, playing against the defending champs on the road. We have to pick up our intensity, understand the moment, understand where we’re at and understand the type of game it’s going to be and raise our game.”

Doc Rivers thought his coaching staff had too much time to prepare and filled their players’ minds with too much information.

“I think our on-ball defense was average because our help defense was worse,” Rivers said. “If everybody is up guarding their own man and there’s no help and guys see gaps [in the defense], they’re taking it. What really upset us, every key guy got every shot he wanted, where they wanted the whole, and that’s a bad defensive night.

“It was team wide. It was spread. Like I told them, from the coaching standpoint, I thought we had way too much time to prepare for it and we put way too much stuff in their head. I thought they were thinking more than playing on instinct. I told our coaches we share in that. We had them doing a couple of different things and that’s not who we are defensively.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Leandro Barbosa gives Doc Rivers a ‘feel-good’ moment in loss 10.31.12 at 3:56 pm ET
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Jason Terry and the Celtics' bench were thrown off by Ray Allen and the Heat. (AP)

No one saw this coming this quick.

Leandro Barbosa was signed on Oct. 18 as another scoring threat off the bench who is also capable of handling the ball when Rondo is not on the floor.

On Tuesday night, it was not Jason Terry, Jared Sullinger or Jeff Green who was big off the Celtics bench. All three frankly struggled. It was Barbosa – the Brazilian beast – who exploded for 16 points in 16 minutes, making six of his eight shots from the floor and running with Rondo in the fast break.

“He was terrific,” Doc Rivers said. “If you get into a scoring contest and Barbosa’s on the floor, you’re going to feel pretty good about it. that’s how he’s played, that’s how he’s used to playing. I love him, the way he attacks. He’s clearly not scared of the moment. He bailed us out. We got back in that game down the stretch and it was because Barbosa was on the floor.”

Indeed, Barbosa entered the game with 16.1 seconds left in the third quarter and played the entire fourth quarter, leading the Celtics from 19 points down to just a four-point deficit, 111-107, with two minutes left. Barbosa scored all 16 of his points in the final quarter, making quite the impression.

And it also creates quite the decision for Rivers to consider. Green played 18 minutes in the first three quarters but when Kevin Garnett came in for Green with 7:06 left in the fourth quarter, making just three free throws and missing all four field goal attempts. Terry wasn’t much better on this night, going 2-for-7 from the field with eight points in 28 minutes.

But read between the lines in what Rivers said about Terry and apply it to the bench overall, and you get an idea of the patience Rivers plans to apply early in the season while he finds the right mixes and matches off the bench.

“Not great but there’s 81 more,” Rivers said. “He’ll make up for it.”

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Poll: What exactly did Tuesday night in Miami prove? 10.31.12 at 2:57 pm ET
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What did you take away from Tuesday night in Miami

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Kevin Garnett gives Ray Allen the cold shoulder 10.30.12 at 9:05 pm ET
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Just before coming in and making his debut for the Miami Heat to a standing ovation at American Airlines Arena, Ray Allen went over to the Celtics bench to shake hands with Doc Rivers and assistants Kevin Eastman and Armond Hill.

The look from Hill was chilly but nothing compared to when he tried going around Eastman and tap old teammate Kevin Garnett on the left shoulder. Garnett didn’t budge as the above .GIF from www.gifulmination.com shows.

See video of the incident below:

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Take your pick, Celtics most unselfish team in NBA 10.27.12 at 9:43 am ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics under Doc Rivers have made no secret about the key to their success on offense.

Set screens and picks, get your teammate open and the points will follow.

Kevin Garnett is the supreme example and symbol of this philosophy.

Watch Garnett away from the ball during a game and you’ll realize that one of his greatest skills is setting picks. But it’s not just Garnett now. New faces like Darko Milicic, Jared Sullinger and even Jason Terry have been brought in this season. And every single one of them understand the first principle of Celtics offense – do whatever necessary to get your teammate open.

“This is maybe the best pick-setting team,” Rivers said Friday, when asked where this team ranks in terms of setting screens and picks. “Darko loves to pick. Kevin is the best picker in the league. Jared is a good picker.

“JET, surprisingly, if [he's] not the best picker on the team, he’s right there with Kevin. He’s a small, but he loves setting picks. That’s what he did in Dallas with [Dirk Nowitzki], so we’re going to do it here for him.”

Someone who was around last season is big man Chris Wilcox and he sees the value in having Garnett set such a strong, physical example.

“KG shows us every day what we need to do,” said Wilcox. “So all we’ve got to do is just follow his lead and everything else will fall into place. We’ve got to set picks. It’s going to open up everybody. We’ve got guys who can score, so our job is to get them open.”

Sacrifice. It’s one of the cornerstones of the Doc Rivers era and one of the founding principles of Ubuntu. It appears this new group of Celtics team is ready to embrace the age-old concept heading into the season – a good sign for a team looking for a way to get past Miami in the East.

“It’s about sacrifice,” Terry insisted Friday after practice. “It’s about giving up your body when you’re talking about setting picks. A lot of times you’re not going to benefit from it directly, but you’re going to get your teammate open, and that’s what Celtic basketball is all about.

“We’re the best pick-setting team in the league,” Terry proclaimed. “That’s the goal, not only with the best in KG, but 1 through 5, whoever steps on the floor. We’ve made it an emphasis.”

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Jason Terry is actually learning to love practice 10.26.12 at 9:45 pm ET
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WALTHAM — No one is happier to have the season begin on Tuesday night in Miami than Jason Terry.

In the above video, Terry says Rajon Rondo has run him ragged while Doc Rivers has talked him into “loving practice” after spending most of his career hating it.

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Doc Rivers is sick of talking about Ray Allen and other notes from Friday 10.26.12 at 9:25 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Doc Rivers will go with a rotation of starting lineups to start the season, the Celtics coach announced after practice Friday. Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are the certainties when healthy. Rivers said he will rotate Brandon Bass, Jeff Green and rookie Jared Sullinger in the other two spots, depending on various factors.

“Experience, size, it depends on the night,” Rivers said. “I don’t think we’re going to have one starting lineup this year. There’s three that I know of we’ll use. We can move it around.”

The Celtics featured a starting lineup of Rondo, Pierce, Garnett, Green and Bass in their preseason finale against the Sixers, with Sullinger and Courtney Lee seeing significant time as the first two players off the bench.

“We’re going to go the same. Early in year every year, I play 10 guys, whether we have a good 10 or not,” Rivers said with no hesitation. “Ten guys played last year because you have to get through the season, so it’ll be 10 this year for the most part.”

Meanwhile, Rivers said Friday afternoon after practice that he understands his players will be motivated to play the Heat and the Heat and Ray Allen will likely be motivated to play Boston in the season opener Tuesday night in Miami.

“I don’t mind that,” Rivers said. “I don’t think it’s Ray, honestly. I’ve said it before. There may be several guys who want to play against and Ray may want to play against several guys. This is not going to be a ‘Ray-versus-the-Celtics’ game. If it becomes that, we’re going to lose by a lot of points because as good as Ray is, I know of two guys for sure, probably three guys on that team that are a lot better on that team. If we’re focused on Ray, we’re going to lose by 40.” Read the rest of this entry »

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