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Doc Rivers: Pacers stole C’s ‘airspace’ and ‘all we did was whine and retaliate’ 01.07.12 at 11:40 am ET
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The Celtics – coaches and players – were visibly upset many times during Friday’s hideous loss to the Pacers at TD Garden. Rajon Rondo picked up a technical after he was called for a cheap foul on one end and then didn’t get the call when he was hammered under the basket on a reverse layup.

Jermaine O’Neal picked up a couple of fouls on plays that appeared to be clean blocks on replay.

So, when Doc Rivers stepped to the microphone in postgame, many assumed he’d go off. He did. But not on the refs.

“I think he was trying to draw fouls, honestly, and I thought he did or didn’t,” Rivers said of Rondo’s drives to the basket. “I actually liked, in that way, they were letting you play. That usually benefits us. Tonight it didn’t.”

But that was just the beginning. What really bothered Rivers the most was the fact the Pacers went on the road to Boston and beat the Celtics at their own game.

“I just thought offensively, we were horrible,” Rivers began. “The ball stuck the entire night. I used a timeout early, I used a timeout in the third quarter. But I give Indiana a lot of the credit. I thought they were up into our airspace, they fought us all night, they knocked us off the block. I thought they were the instigators the entire night and all we did was whine and retaliated, for the most part.

“I think it was their effort. I thought their intensity ‘€“ I just thought they were into us. They were in our airspace, you know? We always talk about owning the airspace of ours, and then owning the opponents’€™ airspace. That’€™s who we are. And they were us, for the entire game. Even in the stretch we were playing well I thought it was late shot clock baskets by us. So I just thought they did it better than us. And that falls on me first. I told our guys that. But then it falls on them as well.’€

By the end of the third quarter, the Celtics were utterly lost, symbolized by their botched play that ended in a desperate Kevin Garnett 3-point attempt from the right wing at the buzzer, a shot partially blocked by Tyler Hansbrough.

“Early pick-and-roll,” Rivers said of planned play call gone awry. “That was just frustration at the summit. I thought they were responsible for a lot of it. I thought they were the tougher team, physically, and the tougher team, mentally.”

KG and Hansbrough went face-to-face in the fourth quarter but the man they called “Psycho-T” at North Carolina wouldn’t back down. And neither would the Pacers, leading Rivers to point out the following:

“I mean, listen, we’€™re a 4-4 basketball team,” Rivers began. “That’€™s what we are. You are what your record is. Make no mistake about that. One of the guys said, ‘€˜Hey, that’€™s alright; we’€™re better than that.’€™ And I said, ‘€˜No we’€™re not. You’€™re what your record says you are. And you always have the ability to do something about that. But right now, Indiana’€™s a 5-2 team ‘€“ I think that’€™s their record ‘€“ and we’€™re a 4-4 team. And make no mistake: that’€™s who we are. That’€™s not who we want to be, and that’€™s not who we’€™re going to be hopefully, but right now that’€™s who we are.’€

The Celtics are 4-0 against the Pistons, Wizards (twice) and Nets, teams that are a combined 4-18. They are 0-4 against the Knicks, Heat, Hornets and Pacers, teams that are a combined 17-12.

“Well, we’€™re 0-fer against quality opponents,” Rivers said. “But again, it’€™s eight games into the year, so I’€™m not going to overdo that.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Indiana Pacers, Jermaine O'Neal
Paul Pierce shows his ‘human’ side as Celtics and Pacers set offense back ’50 years’ 01.07.12 at 10:54 am ET
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Paul Pierce was a mere symptom of the cause Friday night at TD Garden.

Yes, he made just three of the 17 shots he attempted from the field. Yes, he finished with just 10 points in 37 minutes of play. Yes, he attempted six 3-pointers, making just one.

But the Pacers and Celtics combined to make just 58 of their combined 145 shots from the field. That’s 87 misses. That’s a lot. Just asked the coach on the losing end of an 87-74 Indiana survival.

“Both teams set offense back about 50 years today,” Doc Rivers said. “It was awful to watch. I thought defensively, we were pretty good until the third quarter.”

That’s probably because as the Celtics were desperate to get out from under their 25-point first half, they opened things up and sped up the game, losing sight of their defensive principles just to put points on the board and get into a rhythm.

As for Pierce, “He was human, you know?” Rivers explained. “I thought he tried to do too much off the [dribble], especially early. And then I thought he got frustrated a little bit. That’€™s going to happen. But that’€™s where somebody else we needed to pick up, and nobody could. Without Ray [Ray Allen] shooting today, we would’€™ve shot 20 percent.’€

Allen finished 7-for-11 in his first game back from the flu. The rest of the team was a collective 19-for-55, which is bad enough for 35 percent.

‘€œWe were able to score but we didn’€™t get stops,” said Pierce. “We played them to dead even, both teams scored thirty points. When they have the lead, you’€™re just running on a treadmill. We’€™ve just got to go back to work, watch the tape and see some of the things we did wrong. There’€™s no need to put our heads down, it’€™s early in the season, and we just need to clean up a few things.

‘€œRay’€™s doing what he does, he knocks down shots so we get him open but unfortunately myself and some other guys didn’€™t step up enough offensively for us to win.’€

Perhaps Pierce and the Celtics can rediscover their offensive mojo in the next five days, as the team has several practices planned.

‘€œIt will give us a chance to get some good practice time in,” Pierce said. “I haven’€™t had any practice this year so it’€™ll be good for me to get back in and refreshed with some of the things we’€™re doing. Add to our playbook which we haven’€™t been able to do because of our lack of practice plus it’€™ll be a good rest for us. We’€™re playing every other day, so get our feet back up under us and regroup and get back on next week.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Indiana Pacers, NBA
Brandon Bass: ‘I’m playing with three hall of famers’ and Rajon Rondo, too 01.05.12 at 8:56 am ET
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Brandon Bass continues to show the world why the Celtics traded Glen Davis for him.

Sixth man for sixth man but this sixth man can score with the best of them. He did so again Wednesday night when the Celtics desperately needed someone other than Paul Pierce to score with Ray Allen at home with the flu.

Bass came off the bench and scored 15 points and hauled down 13 rebounds, leading a second-half surge that saw the Celtics pull away from the Nets, 89-70.

‘€œEnergy, play good defense, rebound, score when I get good opportunities,” Bass said. “That’€™s what I think my role is and that’€™s what I’€™m going to try to bring every night.”

The only question: Can he keep it up? He is averaging 14 points and 6.6 rebounds in 27.7 minutes over the first seven games. He has averaged 7.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 18.6 minutes per game over his previous six NBA seasons.

‘€œRondo, Paul and KG all put me in a position to shoot, swing and go into pick and roll so I don’€™t think it’€™s my job to be a play maker, but I will make a play if I get the opportunity to,” Bass said.

Bass’ reference to not being a playmaker is why he has affectionately earned the reputation as Brandon “No-Pass” Bass, as Paul Flannery wrote on Tuesday. Bass realizes this. So, when he was told he got an assist on Wednesday, he replied, “Oh, did I?”

But Bass’ job is to get open underneath the basket and be ready when Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett all look to him and fire him the ball.

‘€œThere are opportunities to do lots of different things,” Bass said. “I’€™m on the floor with three hall of famers and there’s an All-Star in Rondo so you got a lot of opportunities to do a lot of different things.’€

‘€œIt’€™s nice,” added coach Doc Rivers. “I haven’€™t been able to do this. I did it last year at the end with Jeff [Jeff Green] when we went small and they stayed big. But it’€™s rare you can come out of a time-out and run a pick and roll for a pop for the big. It’€™s actually an iso for him to take someone off the dribble. That’€™s just nice to have. I’€™ve not ‘€“ I don’€™t think I’€™ve ever had that.’€

The other big benefit Bass provides are minutes, minutes that can be used to rest Garnett. Wednesday, the official box score showed Bass with 25 minutes, 45 seconds, just 11 seconds fewer than Garnett, the perfect situation for Rivers.

“Brandon’s so important for us because we take Kevin out of the first quarter at seven; you don’€™t lose offensively when Kevin comes out, you lose some defense for sure,” Rivers said. “Brandon rebounds well, too.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Glen Davis, Kevin Garnett
The legend – and significance – of Greg Stiemsma just continues to grow 01.03.12 at 10:33 am ET
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Doc Rivers wanted to make sure Greg Stiemsma had the confidence to assume the role of playing and starting for the Celtics. He wanted to hear it from the man himself and then the Celtics coach wanted the rookie – who’s been around the world playing basketball – to let his teammates know he was ready.

“We had the silly ‘€“ he’€™ll recall it, but we had the silly day where he wouldn’€™t shoot and I made him stand in front of the whole team and say, ‘€˜My name is Greg Stiemsma; I’€™m a shooter.’€™ And we kept making him repeat it. Everybody started. About two weeks ago, everybody was laughing. He said, ‘€˜I can shoot. I’€™m a shooter.’€™ And he is. And it was good,” Rivers said after Monday’s 100-92 win over the Wizards.

It worked. Stiemsma, filling in as starting center for Jermaine O’Neal, scored 13 points and hauled down seven rebounds in 21 minutes. He added two blocks – including one that got Wizards coach Flip Saunders ejected just over a minute into the game – two assists, three fouls on 5-of-7 shooting. Not bad for a guy who had to be convinced by his coach that he was good enough to be taking shots in the NBA.

‘€œStiemsma was terrific,” Rivers said. “He was absolutely wonderful. And I was so happy when he just took the shot. My favorite play of the whole game was he missed a shot and they threw it right back to him and he shot it again. I mean, that’€™s terrific. That was ‘€“ I thought the whole bench was excited over that because it’€™s what we’€™ve been saying.”

After playing at the University of Wisconsin, Stiemsma went overseas to play in South Korea and Turkey. He came home to play in the D-League. He got a look from the Timberwolves and Cavaliers but couldn’t stick on an NBA roster. Monday night, he finally got his first NBA start.

And after hearing the crowd cheer for him every time he touched the ball in preseason and on Friday night, he was ready to take the big stage Monday.

‘€œI’€™m trying to bring some energy every time,” he said. “I take my shot when it’€™s there and not force anything. I just want to take care of the ball.’€

Kevin Garnett has been huge in helping Stiemsma, as our Paul Flannery points out. Stiemsma has been doing everything he can to contribute, since he figures to become more and more important as the Celtics manage the hamstring of Jermaine O’Neal through the course of an accelerated schedule.

‘€œI’€™ve just try to be his sponge and just learn as much as I can from him,” Steimsma said. “He doesn’€™t make mistakes too often so he’€™s in the right spot every time. So if I can just mimic him, it’€™s going to help my game.

‘€œWith every opportunity I’€™ve had I feel like I’€™ve tried to step up to the plate and come out and perform well and tonight was another opportunity. I was happy to get the opportunity and to play well on top of that.’€

And now, thanks to Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett, he will do so with a lot more confidence.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Greg Stiemsma, Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett
Paul Pierce: ‘I was expecting to be me’ 12.31.11 at 2:00 am ET
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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 »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, NBA, Paul Pierce
Doc Rivers not pulling punches: We need to start fast 12.24.11 at 1:01 pm ET
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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.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, NBA, New York Knicks
Jermaine O’Neal: Now, ‘I feel like I know what I’m doing’ 12.24.11 at 12:30 am ET
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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 »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jermaine O'Neal, Miami Heat
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