|Paul Pierce: ‘I was expecting to be me’||12.31.11 at 2:00 am ET|
The box score may have read just 12 points in 23 minutes for Paul Pierce in the first game of his 14th NBA season Friday night, helping the Celtics beat the Pistons, 96-85, at TD Garden for their first win of the season.
But more than that, the Celtics captain felt good about his ailing right heel. After bruising the heel just before the opening of camp on Dec. 9, he took part in just one practice with the team before being reduced to watching practice from the sidelines.
He had to watch in a suit on the sidelines as the Celtics dropped their first three games for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
“It felt good to finally get back out there with my teammates,” Pierce said. “Didn’t have much practice time, just have to get in shape in these games and just feels good to be out there.”
What were his expectations after just one practice and no games to get him in basketball shape?
“I was expecting to be me,” Pierce said. “I don’t settle for anything less. I work tremendously hard. I did a lot of things and did what I could do, other than practice. I just stayed focused, got my shots every day, I was on the [exercise] bike, and Doc [Doc Rivers] wanted me to be aggressive and just play the way I play, and that’s what I tried to do.
“It felt good. I think the rest of my body is a little bit more sore than anything, since I haven’t had any physical contact or up-and-down basketball in quite a while.”
After six points in 15 minutes in the first half, Kevin Garnett found Pierce open for a pair of threes early in the third quarter, as the Celtics put the game away with a 36-21 spurt.
“We moved the ball, with Kevin making the two passes, wide open for the threes and I just wanted to try to be aggressive,” Pierce said. “Everything is going to come if I just continue to play hard. The timing, the chemistry, it will all come. I’m not going to hold anything back. So, I’m just going to go out there and continue to play the way I play.”
As impressive as his six points in four minutes of the third quarter were, his presence bolstered a smothering Celtics defense, something that had been missing in three losses. Read the rest of this entry »
|Doc Rivers not pulling punches: We need to start fast||12.24.11 at 1:01 pm ET|
The Celtics tipoff their 66th season Sunday in New York, and never has it been more important to start fast.
Each team will have 66 games to get to the postseason. There is much less margin for error to find your rhythm, just ask Doc Rivers.
“I think you have to start fast and I think you have to stay fast,” Rivers said Friday, 48 hours before the season opener at Madison Square Garden. “Now, the calming down part, if we’re playing unbelievable, I’m going to calm them down. If we’re playing poorly, either way I’m going to leave that up to you guys.”
Rivers asked the media to keep everyone on a even keel, because he’ll be busy with other matters, like managing his team through a compressed schedule.
“If that does happen, I’m going to ask you guys, can you calm them down because I’m not going to notice,” Rivers said. “I really don’t notice when people are excited or not because I’m into the team, so you guys can watch that for me and report back.”
|Jermaine O’Neal: Now, ‘I feel like I know what I’m doing’||12.24.11 at 12:30 am ET|
No one was more disappointed about the way last season ended in Miami than Jermaine O’Neal. He had just begun to find his legs in the playoffs, playing significant minutes and becoming a force after injuries to his left knee and left wrist caused him to miss 58 regular season games.
But now he’s healthy and ready to go. He says he hasn’t felt this good since finishing the 2009-10 season in Miami, when he played and started 70 games.
“I felt strong, I felt knowledgable about the system,” O’Neal said. “Now I feel comfortable with the guys and the guys felt comfortable with me. I think the coaching staff feel comfortable with me. Last year, no one knew what to expect since I wasn’t out there.”
Doc Rivers called him the “MVP of training camp” and believes the C’s will be getting the real O’Neal this season. O’Neal doesn’t want to disappoint.
“I think all of us want to do the job Doc expects us to do,” O’Neal said Friday. “I feel like we have enough size, enough mobility to play the style of game we want to play.”
O’Neal, if healthy, could be a huge difference-maker this season for the Celtics. He has average 14 points and just over seven rebounds a game and is considered one of the best defensive centers in the league when healthy.
“You talk about our size, there’s not many teams that have legitimately three or four seven-footers,” O’Neal said. “We have 6-10, 6-11, three or four of those guys who can really do a lot of different things. I think a lot of guys are just mentally focused on doing their jobs. If we do our jobs, we’ll be fine.”
O’Neal could never get on track last season, battling injuries and splitting practice time with Shaquille O’Neal and Glen Davis as the Celtics desperately searched for an answer in the low post. Read the rest of this entry »
|Keyon Dooling wants his 2-year-old son ‘to play ball like Rajon Rondo’||12.22.11 at 10:46 am ET|
Keyon Dooling has been around long enough to let his eyes tell him what he sees while blocking out all the noise.
He’s heard all of the chatter about the limitations with Rajon Rondo (whom he calls Ray) and his jump shot. But from what he’s seen so far, up close and personal, he’s been impressed.
“I think it’s just a matter of confidence with Ray,” Dooling said of Rondo, not Ray Allen. “I think because he’s got good mechanics and he knows when to shoot. It’s just all about his confidence. He’s fun to watch.”
As a matter of fact, he’s been so enamored with Rondo that he wants his two-year-old son to model his play not after daddy but daddy’s teammate.
“I was telling him earlier that I’ve got a two-year-old son and I want him to play ball like Rondo,” Dooling said. “So, I think Ray’s going to be very important to our championship run this year.”
As for his own play, he was scoreless in 15 minutes while handing out four assists. He considers himself a “Rondo-like” leader of the second unit, and he was disappointed that the second unit let a double-digit lead slip in the second half Wednesday in the preseason finale.
“I think if you look at us, I think the thing that is apparent or obvious is that our defense is ahead of our offense,” Dooling said. “We had a spurt with our second unit that was very disappointing. So, we’ll go back to the drawing board. We’ll be in practice a little bit earlier than the rest of the guys and we’ll try and continue to build our continuity with the second unit.”
Helping along the way is, of course, head coach Doc Rivers, who pulled Dooling aside several times during a break in the action to talk over things.
“It’s been fantastic,” Dooling said after Wednesday’s scrimmage. “Doc has been great so far. I’m a guy who sits back and I just watch him, watch him work, I watch him when he’s thinking of a play, staring into space, when he’s writing down on the board what he’s saying, how’s he motivating all the guys. Doc’s a guy I just want to sponge off and learn as much as I can.”
|Doc Rivers on Rajon Rondo: ‘We want him to just shoot it, don’t care how many times’||12.22.11 at 12:59 am ET|
While Jermaine O’Neal was off getting his in-game massage, Doc Rivers was making the following observation about Rajon Rondo: the Celtics need him to shoot and score if they are going anywhere this season.
Rondo certainly didn’t disappoint in his preseason finale, making the first two jumpers he attempted on his way to 6-of-10 shooting and a team-high 17 points as the Celtics beat the Raptors, 81-73, Wednesday night.
Rondo started off strong from the floor, something Rivers is looking for this season.
“Yeah, yeah, we want him to just shoot it; I don’t care how many times he shoots,” Rivers said. “What I did like more than his jump shot was that he got to the foul line, I think six times in the first half. That’s – we need that.”
Speaking of scoring, something the Celtics are going to need lots of if Paul Pierce is sidelined with a heel problem, Kevin Garnett posted up several times in the first quarter as well as spotting up high in the Celtics offense and passing to an open teammate down in the paint.
“Well he looks good,” Rivers said. “He looked – the first couple of days he was out of synch a little bit, but now he looks great. His jumper looks good again, he’s aggressive. I like the fact that he looks more aggressive offensively, which we need him to be. He needs to be – he needs to score more this year for us. And I don’t care where it’s from. The purists are saying on the post. I don’t care if the ball goes in, it still counts as the same. Where he gets it from – he just has to be more aggressive offensively for us.”
As for the Celtics bench, it looked strong at times, led by the new Big Baby, Brandon Bass.
“You pretty much – I got a good feel,” Rivers said. “The good news is we’ve had a lot of practices. You would’ve hoped a couple of guys, honestly, separated themselves, and they didn’t. But hey, listen, we’re going to just throw them out there and hopefully someone separates themselves when the game – season starts. We may have to do a couple of positions by committee.”
|Celtics scrimmage: Avery Bradley and E’Twaun Moore thrill ‘em at the end||12.16.11 at 10:07 pm ET|
Back-up point guard Avery Bradley hit a baseline jumper as time expired to lift the Green team to a 52-51 win over the White in an intrasquad scrimmage for the Boston Celtics Friday night before about 4,000 fans at TD Garden.
Rookie E’Twaun Moore‘s three-pointer with 0.8 seconds remaining had given the white team, featuring Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo the lead before Bradley’s game-winning shot. A portly Mike Sweetney, weighing in at well over 320 pounds, put the White up, 48-46, with just over 50 seconds remaining as the two sides exchanged buckets in a furious finish before an appreciative crowd.
Rajon Rondo started for the White team, along with Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal at center. Marquis Daniels started for the Green while Chris Wilcox started at center and took the opening tip for the Green.
The games were split into two 12-minute halves. The White trailed 27-18 at halftime before the Green, mostly stocked with reserves.
Wilcox led everyone at the scrimmage with 17 points and 10 rebounds, both game highs. Brandon Bass started and led the White with 13 points and five rebounds. Bradley, Dooling and Daniels each played the entire 24 minutes of the scrimmage.
The game was highly entertaining and featured the first look for fans at newcomers Wilcox, Bass, Moore, Keyon Dooling – who made all three of his 3-point attempts.
After the scrimmage, coach Doc Rivers said there was no medical update on the condition of Jeff Green, who failed his physical earlier in the week. He visited with doctors on Friday with team President and general manager Danny Ainge. WEEI.com’s Paul Flannery reported after the game that an announcement is expected sometime Saturday.
The Celtics open their brief two-game preseason schedule Sunday in Toronto, with the two teams playing in Boston on Wednesday night.
Paul Pierce will not make the trip to Toronto while Kevin Garnett is questionable after injuring his thumb on Thursday in practice. Rivers said after Friday night’s scrimmage that the X-rays were negative.
|Keyon Dooling remembers brawling with Ray Allen: ‘Sometimes you know a man better when you fight’||12.13.11 at 3:52 pm ET|
WALTHAM — During Tuesday’s media day for the Celtics, new point guard Keyon Dooling joked about his Jan. 2006 fight with new teammate Ray Allen when Allen – then with Seattle – elbowed Dooling – then with the Magic – and a bench-clearing brawl ensued.
After both were ejected, Dooling took off down the hallway and tried to confront Allen outside the Sonics locker room but was restrained.
“The Sonics? Is that even a team anymore? Oh, that’s ancient history,” Dooling joked. “At the end of the day, when Ray and I saw each other the next time after the fight, we had a conversation and we embraced each other. At the end of the day, it was the heat of battle. I have a lot more respect for him. I know he has a lot more respect for me. Sometimes you know a man better when you fight.
“He’s been nothing but a phenomenal influence since I’ve been here. I’ve had a chance to spend some time with him over the summer, with some of the union business. I’m just looking forward to being here and being a part of the organization.”
Who won the fight?
“Nobody wins in a basketball fight,” Dooling said. “The NBA won. They got all the fine money. They always win, right?”
Other nuggets from Dooling included his feelings about backing up Rajon Rondo at point guard.
“Pushing me, I don’t need much of a push,” Dooling said. “I’m pretty self-motivated. I think I can learn some of the tricks. He’s a guy who averages a lot of assists and so I can pick up little techniques from him and maybe he can pick up some things from me as well. We’ll just try to make each other better every day.”
Dooling said he is looking forward to becoming a key part of the Celtics bench.
“I came in focused,” he said. “This is the opportunity of a lifetime for me so I don’t have any time to waste. I want to pick up the system as quick as I can, offensively and defensively, so I won’t be a liability when I’m on the court. If I’m a liability on the court, not only do I hurt my team, I hurt my family, so I’ve got to be ready to play.
“My experience has made me who I am. I’ve had some hardships in this league. I’ve always been able to persevere and work my way through adversity. This is another chance for me to come out and prove to the world I can play basketball. I think still a lot people don’t really know me unless you’re a true NBA fan. So, I think it’ll be a unique chance for me to prove myself to the world.”
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