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Kevin Garnett is ‘pretty close’ to returning but that won’t happen Friday night 01.13.11 at 4:16 pm ET
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WALTHAM — In a sign that he is close to returning to game action, Kevin Garnett took part in contact practice with the Celtics on Thursday for the first time since straining his right calf against Detroit on Dec. 29. Coach Doc Rivers said that Garnett participated in a little more than half the practice, going through plays and running up and down the court but ruled him out of Friday’s home game against Charlotte.

“He went through half the practice or more than that, actually,” Rivers said. “He looked pretty good. He’s not playing [Friday] but he looked pretty good. Besides just his wind, I thought his movement was very good. I want to see him another practice but he’s getting close.”

Rivers said trainer Ed Lacerte and team doctor Brian McKeon checked out Garnett and cleared him to participate in all of the contact drills and plays in practice.

“That was him and Eddie, they just thought he could go and Dr. McKeon, all three, thought he’s fine so we let him go,” Rivers added. “There were a couple of times I wanted him off the floor and he stayed on the floor and did all the pick-and-roll defense live. We went up and down and he did all that live.”

The Celtics are 5-3 in the eight games without Garnett in the lineup.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA, right calf
And the hits keep on coming as Semih Erden pulls his groin 01.13.11 at 4:13 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Doc Rivers paraphrased Bill Parcells following Thursday’s practice that didn’t include injured forwards Semih Erden and Jermaine O’Neal.

“This is who we are right now,” Rivers said in announcing the latest injuries to hit the Celtics‘ front court.

Jermaine O’Neal had an MRI Thursday on his sore left knee that acted up in the second half of Monday’s game against Houston.

Rivers is concerned that surgery will likely be needed to correct the issue.

“Don’t know yet,” Rivers said following practice Thursday. “I know he did [have] an MRI. Honestly, my guess is they’re going to have to do something. So, I don’t know that. I’m just using my doctorate right now. My guess is they’ll probably have to do something.”

Complicating matters is a groin pull sustained by back-up center Semih Erden, which kept him out of practice Thursday and limited the Celtics to nine healthy players. With Kevin Garnett still out with a strained right calf, Kendrick Perkins (right knee) not yet cleared for contact practice and Shaquille O’Neal getting limited minutes to save his stamina for later in the season, the Celtics are struggling with depth in the front court.

“It puts more pressure on them,” Rivers said of his remaining healthy front-court players. “Semih couldn’t practice today. He has a groin pull. So, that’s what we are. We have 15 players. We’re going to send Avery [Bradley] down [to D-League] pretty soon, too, so he can get some reps playing basketball. I just think he needs to play basketball. It’s part of it.”

The Celtics face Charlotte on Friday night at TD Garden as they continue their season-long six-game homestand, likely without Garnett, Erden and Jermaine O’Neal.

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, injuries, Jermaine O'Neal
Energy savings pay off for Nate Robinson and the Celtics 01.13.11 at 2:43 am ET
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Doc Rivers may have liked the way his team was playing in the first half than Monday night. He went as far as to say if the Celtics somehow managed to lose Wednesday to the 8-27 Kings at TD Garden, he could sleep well knowing his team played good, solid basketball.

But the truth of the matter is that Celtics fans were downright concerned when they saw the Kings – without their top scorer Tyreke Evans – wipe out an 8-0 lead and actually grab a lead, albeit very brief, in the first quarter. The Celtics kept spinning their wheels in the first half, even with Paul Pierce scoring 15 of his 25 points in the first quarter.

The Celtics – without big men Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O’Neal- looked fatigued and out of rhythm. They needed a spark and Nate Robinson was only too happy to provide it. Robinson came in and made 6-of-9 shots, including 4-of-5 from long distance.

Robinson was just 11-for-32 in his six games this month entering Wednesday. His 16 points off the bench provided instant energy and eventually allowed Doc Rivers to give his starters the fourth quarter off.

‘€œThat’€™s how you have to play every night,” Robinson said. “Play with a lot of energy and be yourself. Everything else will fall into place.’€

After allowing the Rockets to make 21-of-34 shots in the second half on Monday, the Celtics – with a 57-49 halftime lead – were determined not to let it happen 48 hours later.

‘€œJust continue to pick it up on defense,” Robinson said. “We have been lacking the last couple of games. Rebounding was a talking point as well. As a team today we dug down deep. We were like ‘€˜we have to rebound and get stops and run’€™. We did that and got a lot of easy buckets tonight.

‘€œJust do things harder. There is always another notch that you can go too. Just pick it up. We have to pick each other up regardless if it’€™s the starters or second team, everybody has to be tuned in together and play a full 48 minutes.’€

Robinson had 16 to lead four bench players in double figures. Another player in double figures, Marquis Daniels with 12, could see what Robinson meant to the Celtics on Wednesday – instant energy and a very important player to help take minutes from Rondo and preserve him for the second half of the season.

‘€œLittle Nate played good tonight,” Daniels said. “He’€™s shooting the ball real well. He got his bird wings going. He’€™s playing real good right now. We just have to stay focused and stay hungry.’€

In total, Semih Erden, Daniels, Robinson and Von Wafer all scored at least 10 points, outscoring Sacramento’s bench, 56-47. Daniels said it was very refreshing to see not only Robinson but the rest of the bench contribute offensively so the starters could enjoy the rest of the game from their courtside seats.

‘€œDefinitely, I saw Paul icing early, Ray is icing early, Rondo. It’€™s always a good thing to see those guys icing early,” Daniels said. “We are going to need those guys later down the line.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Marquis Daniels, Nate Robinson, NBA
Doc Rivers thanks Danny Ainge for the chance to make Celtics coaching history 01.12.11 at 11:34 pm ET
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Doc Rivers remembers the 2006-07 season vividly, and for all the wrong reasons.

The Celtics had just completed the second-worst season of their existence, losing 58 times and Rivers would have totally understood if his boss decided that – in addition to changing the roster – it was time to change the coach.

But GM Danny Ainge saw something in Rivers and convinced Celtics ownership to stick with Rivers since he felt he was the right coach to handle the egos and personalities of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. One championship and one near-miss later over a span of four years, Ainge has been greatly rewarded for his loyalty.

On Wednesday night, following a 119-95 win over the Kings at TD Garden, Rivers passed K.C. Jones for third on the franchise’s regular season all-time coaching wins list with 309. And it was Ainge whom Rivers thanked for giving him the chance.

‘€œYeah, you know, I don’€™t know what that means, honestly,” Rivers said. “It’€™s awesome, I guess. I mean, I just don’€™t know what that means, yet, because I’€™m not thinking about it much, I’€™m not done. But it’€™s nice. And, listen, it’€™s Danny Ainge at the end of the day. I’€™m full-aware of that. We were bad for two years and he stuck with me. And believed in me. And so, at the end of the day it’€™s Danny Ainge more than me.’€

Rivers, whose record stands at 309-221, trails only Tommy Heinsohn (427) and all-time leader Red Auerbach (795) on the franchise’s all-time list. Rivers guaranteed one thing Wednesday, he won’t be shooting for first. ‘€œNo. That ain’€™t gonna happen. I can guarantee you that!’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers, K.C. Jones
With an eye on big picture, Doc Rivers admits ‘I don’t like where we’re at right now’ 01.11.11 at 2:16 am ET
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Sure, Monday was a very distasteful and bitter pill to swallow for the Celtics. But really what concerned Doc Rivers afterward was how he felt his team approached the game.

With or without Kevin Garnett and with or without the high-scoring Kevin Martin in the game for the Rockets, Rivers felt his team was capable of a whole lot better than they showed in a 108-102 loss at TD Garden.

But the trademark defense that has been a staple of these championship-driven Celtics has not been there in the last week, and Rivers fears that if they start falling in love with scoring instead of doing the dirty work, they’ll lose something a lot more important – home court advantage in the NBA playoffs.

Don’t look now but not only are the Spurs putting some distance between themselves and the Celtics – who fell to 28-9 – but the Miami Heat have, in the space of about three weeks, caught up to them with a torrid winning streak.

If the Celtics aren’t careful, they not only might have to win an NBA Finals Game 7 on the road like last year in LA but they may have to do the same thing against Miami just to get there.

“To me, you can see them thinking about the individual game and not the ramifications of the entire season,” Rivers said of his team. “And playing Game 7 on the road. And hell, not just in the Finals if you make it there, but in the playoffs. In the East, which is going to be difficult. This year’€™s not like last year where you can coast. You don’€™t have home court this year, you could go home.

‘€œYou know especially at home, I think we need to really take advantage of games where their best player isn’€™t playing, guys coming off injury,” captain Paul Pierce added. “These games mean a lot down the road, and but at the same time, they’€™re going to suit up and play, and we got to understand that nothing is given to us cause their down a man, or they’€™ve been struggling for most of the year. We got to put our work boots on and come with our A game, we’€™re not taking advantage of this, there are a lot of games that we’€™re letting slip away that we’€™re supposed to win’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Game 7 NBA Finals, Houston Rockets
Ray Allen dealing with a ‘sore’ left shoulder 01.10.11 at 11:58 pm ET
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Everyone who saw Ray Allen sprawled on the court with 10:56 left in the fourth quarter Monday night had the same thought – Oh no, not again. The Celtics have already had two starters miss significant time with significant injuries as Kevin Garnett hopes to come back Wednesday night from a strained right calf and Rajon Rondo continues to play through sore feet.

As for Allen, he said he will need a night of sleep and then see how he feels after taking a vicious hit on a pick early in the fourth quarter of Monday’s loss to Houston.

“I just took a hard hit, and kind of collapsed on the side,” Allen said of the screen set with 10:56 left in the fourth. “I’€™m sore, I’€™ll feel it [Tuesday]. My shoulder but kind of my side, you got so much adrenaline running that you don’€™t really feel it, once I got in the back I felt it.”

Allen added that he didn’t think it was a legal screen since – as he said, ‘€œThe rule states that, if there’€™s a screen set, you have to give the person a chance to see the screen and then move out the way. I didn’€™t even know the screen was there and when I went to step I just hit the screen, and it caught me like on the side of my hip.”

Allen, who matched Marquis Daniels with a team-high 19 points, did return with 5:40 left in the game and hit a big three-pointer with 2:04 left to pull the Celtics to within seven, 106-99.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Kevin Garnett, Marquis Daniels
Fast Break: Rockets shoot past Celtics 01.10.11 at 10:06 pm ET
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This is not how Doc Rivers and the Celtics envisioned starting a season-long six-game homestand.

The Rockets came to Boston without the services of their leading scorer, as Kevin Martin was out with a sore right wrist. They had lost their last five and six of seven.

But the Celtics fell behind at halftime and couldn’t overcome the energy of Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola and the rest of the Rockets in a 108-102 loss to Houston Monday night at TD Garden. (Recap.) It’s the third straight win for Houston in Boston.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Defense: Quite simply, on a night when Kevin Garnett remained in street clothes, it wasn’t there in this one. Forget the fact that Houston shot 53 percent for the game — they made 11 of 19 shots in the third quarter alone to build a six-point lead heading into the fourth. Worse yet, every time the Celtics got a big lay-up from Paul Pierce or an offensive rebound or jumper from Glen Davis, the Rockets not only scored on the next possession, but got very open looks, including Aaron Brooks on a killer 3-ball with 4:26 left that put Rockets up, 101-90. Another three by Brooks with 3:10 left put Houston up by 12.

Glen Davis’ stamina: He worked hard but looked very, very tired in the third quarter. He had huge problems keeping up with Scola in the third quarter as the Rockets improbably built upon their lead by going inside and the Celtics didn’t play very good defense, allowing Houston to score 30 in the quarter on 58 percent shooting. Rivers was also on Davis early about the number of passes he was dishing out and the Celtics were guilty of shot clock violations on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter.

Not taking Kyle Lowry seriously: Yes, the Rockets didn’t have their leading scorer, Martin - out with a sore right wrist. But the Celtics apparently forgot that Lowry is very quick and developing as a legitimate two-way guard in his fourth year. Lowry played 18 minutes in the first half and had 11 points. But more than that, the former Villanova Wildcat brought the energy on both sides of the court. It continued into the third quarter as he took it to the basket just like he did when he played with Randy Foye and Allan Ray on the Main Line. Tough kid.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Marquis Daniels and the bench: After a rough showing on Saturday night in Chicago, the Celtics’ bench woke up Wednesday out of necessity as Daniels led the way, making 7-of-8 shots from the field and finishing with 19 points, tied with Allen for the team lead. He also chipped in with seven rebounds. He played practically the entire fourth quarter as Rivers held Nate Robinson and Jermaine O’Neal on the bench.

Domination in the paint: When they made the commitment to get there, the Celtics owned the paint, with mid-range jumpers, cuts and lay-ups. They finished with a 48-22 advantage over the Rockets.

Ray Allen takes a licking and keeps on ticking: The last thing – obviously – the Celtics need is another star to go down with an injury, and so the sight of Allen taking a vicious hit on a blindside pick early in the fourth quarter was troubling for Boston. But after Allen had his left shoulder examined briefly by trainer Ed Lacerte, he returned with five minutes to go. He drilled a 3-pointer with 2:10 left to bring the Celtics to within seven, 106-99.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Glen Davis, Houston Rockets, Kyle Lowry
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