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The Genius of Doc Rivers 12.01.08 at 9:27 pm ET
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Doc Rivers was named the Eastern Conference coach of the month for November before last night’s win over Orlando, one of those strange awards the NBA loves to give out to mark the passage of time. “I don’t know if coaches get better from month-to-month,” Orlando’s Stan Van Gundy was saying before the game. “I won a couple of them in Miami and I wondered, ‘Did I really do a better job that month?’”

As Rivers himself pointed out, the award had everything to do with the Celtics 16-2 record in November (and October) and not much at all to do with some blast of strategic brilliance from the sideline, but if the honor does have any significance, it’s further validation that Rivers is at the top of his profession.

That’s a long way from 2006-07 when fans were openly calling for him to be fired, and not all that far removed from those same fans wondering if Phil Jackson would run circles around him in the NBA Finals. But an NBA title does do wonders for a coach’s reputation. “That’s not for me to say,” Rivers said. “It shouldn’t (have an effect on other’s perceptions), but I’m sure it does.”

So, the question becomes, knowing all that we know about Doc in his tenure with the Celtics, how good a coach is he, really? Read the rest of this entry »

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Celtics-Magic Game Blog: Third Quarter 12.01.08 at 6:52 pm ET
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Interesting first half as Magic coach Stan Van Gundy solved his backcourt problem by essentially playing 6-10 Rashard Lewis at shooting guard. Lewis is a tough cover under normal circumstances, but with Paul Pierce on the bench with three fouls, the Celtics had to leave Tony Allen on Lewis, and Lewis took advantage to score 12 of his 18 points in the second quarter.

For their part the Celtics old issue of turnovers continues to be a problem. They had nine in the first half, which was the only real negative offensively after shooting 54 percent. Defensively the Celtics have to stay active on the boards. Orlando picked up 11 second-chance points on nine offensive rebounds–Dwight Howard and Tony Battie had three apiece.

Onward with the Celtics leading 48-46… Read the rest of this entry »

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Celtics-Magic Game Blog: First Quarter 12.01.08 at 5:41 pm ET
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We are live from the Garden for tonight’s big game between the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics. The Magic are 13-4, but a little shorthanded, having to play without their starting backcourt of Jameer Nelson and Mickael Pietrus, as well as backup swing man Keith Bogans.

Ageless veteran Anthony Johnson has been starting in Jameer’s place, and has played well, but can he stick with Rajon Rondo for 36 minutes? Can Kendrick Perkins keep the league’s leading rebounder, Dwight Howard, off the glass? Will JJ Redick get booed? Will answer those questions, and more, tonight. Read the rest of this entry »

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Being Tony Allen 11.26.08 at 9:21 pm ET
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It was early in the fourth quarter and the Celtics had just surrendered a lead, again, against the Golden State Warriors. The pattern, if there can be something so structured as a pattern when talking about Don Nelson’s quirky team, had gone something like this: Boston starters establish the lead, bench gives it up.

After having played 55 of the available 60 minutes in the third quarter, every one of the starters with the exception of Paul Pierce was justifiably getting some rest. But still, the lead was disappearing, and big picture thoughts are often far from the minds of the paying customers.

Someone in the stands called out, “C’mon Doc! Call a timeout. Put the stahtahs back in.” But, of course, Rivers couldn’t do that yet. This was still Game 16 of an 82-game season, and as it was, Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were on track to log almost 40 minutes apiece, well above the prescribed court time Doc had intended.

The bench, which has been generally good this year and at times excellent was not having a stellar evening. It wasn’t until Big Baby Davis finished off a three-point play with nine minutes and change left in the fourth quarter that any of the reserves had actually converted a shot from the floor.

But then, Nellie Ball, came into play. Nelson’s lineups are always a mystery from one game to the next and for the stretch run he elected to play CJ Watson, Jamal Crawford, Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette together as a unit. None of those four could even charitably be considered a “big” forward, and with such a quick, trigger-happy bunch on the floor, Doc countered with his own version of small ball. All of which is a very long way of getting around to Tony Allen. Read the rest of this entry »

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Celtics Warriors Game Blog: Third Quarter 11.26.08 at 7:01 pm ET
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I’ll be honest: After that first quarter, I figured the Celtics defense would tighten up and we’d be looking at a 10-15 point game the rest of the way. Which is reason 337 why I don’t gamble. The good news for the Celtics is that a 13-point spread against a team like Golden State can disappear pretty quickly. But, as noted in the intro I have no feel for this game at all.

Onward…

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Celtics-Warriors Game Blog: First Quarter 11.26.08 at 5:41 pm ET
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We are live from the Garden for tonight’s game between the Celtics and the Warriors. It’s always a little strange when teams like Golden State come to town for their annual visit. Except for that magical mini-run the Warriors enjoyed a few years ago when they beat Dallas in the playoffs there hasn’t been a whole lot to talk about or get excited about with the Warriors. What was the last memorable Golden State team? The Run-TMC crew? They kind of exist in this strange nether-world.

Anyway, Golden State suffered a huge loss when Monta Ellis hurt himself in the offseason. The recent addition of Jamal Crawford may help in that regard, but it will also probably take time for him to absorb Nellie-ball in all its glory.

If you’re not up on Andrinis Bierdrins you should be. He is second in the league in rebounding behind Dwight Howard and averaging better than 16 points and 13 boards. He’ll be a handful tonight. On with the show, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sunday Afternoon NBA Analysis 11.23.08 at 12:44 pm ET
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Checking in on a couple of fairly big developments in the NBA this weekend, while watching the Celtics and the Raptors. On Friday night, the Knicks moved two big contracts (Zach Randolph and Jamal Crawford) and moved closer toward fulfilling their rebuilding plan, while out in the place that stole the Sonics from Seattle, the Robber Barons axed P.J. Carlesimo.

First, the Knicks. Most fans are already sick of hearing about the 2010 free agency class, but for roughly half the teams in the league, getting cap space is their reason for being. The Knicks, meanwhile, have put a big blinking sign on the marquee at Madison Square Garden saying “OPEN FOR BUSINESS–2010,” ever since Donnie Walsh to clean up the toxic spew that Isiah Thomas left behind.

On Friday, the Knicks traded Randolph and Mardy Collins to the Clippers for Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley and dealt Crawford to Golden State for unhappy forward Al Harrington. Those moves were genius in that they replaced three players who would be due $30 million in 2010-11 with three players who will be due nothing. Nada.

Small wonder then that ESPN’s Mark Stein was floating speculation that had the Knicks going for LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Steve Nash in 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

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