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Celtics prepare for life without Marquis Daniels 02.09.11 at 4:22 pm ET
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Marquis Daniels

This was always Doc Rivers‘ biggest concern. What if something happens to Paul Pierce or Marquis Daniels?

“It puts us in a terrible spot,” Rivers said after practice Wednesday. “Going into the year, that was the area of concern because we knew we were one injury away from being very thin and unfortunately it happened.”

The Celtics simply don’t know how long Daniels will be out after he suffered a bruised spinal cord during Sunday’s game with the Magic. Team president Danny Ainge said they would hopefully know more next week after Daniels consults with various doctors and is offered an array of medical opinions.

“The Marquis situation is still a little bit up in the air,” Ainge said. “We’ll probably know more in a week or so what’s going on there, what’s going on in Marquis’ mind, get some different opinion from doctors. That is complicated and the fact that we don’t have Delonte [West] healthy, that complicates the matter as well. We’re thin now. If we had Delonte and Von [Wafer] we’d be fine.”

Ainge expressed confidence in Wafer’s ability to handle the backup small forward role, but Rivers was a little more skeptical.

“He’s not big enough to be that guy,” Rivers said. “We’re going to have to do something. We worked on it today and I’ve been here seven years and you’ve seen me trap probably 10 times. We’re going to have to start trapping, which weakens your defense. I hate it. But we worked on it today and we’re going to work on it every day until we get another [small forward].”

There are still a few ways for Rivers to get creative with his lineups. “It depends on who we have, and what we can get away with honestly,” Rivers said.

He can play a small lineup with Ray Allen in the spot alongside Rajon Rondo and either Wafer or Nate Robinson. He might consider going the other way and using Glen Davis in the spot.  Of particular concern is Sunday’s game with the Heat and a certain someone named LeBron James.

“When Paul goes out, somebody’s going to have to guard LeBron,” Rivers said. “We don’t have that someone.”

Read More: LeBron James, Marquis Daniels, Paul Pierce, Von Wafer
Delonte West: ‘I would love to be out there’ 02.09.11 at 3:57 pm ET
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Delonte West

Delonte West reached a significant milestone in his comeback from a broken wrist on Wednesday when he went through a full-contact practice with his injury-ravaged teammates. The Celtics needed him because they were down to just nine other players with Semih Erden and Shaquille O’Neal unavailable and Paul Pierce home sick.

Pierce is expected to play against the Lakers on Thursday, while Erden (groin) and O’Neal (Achilles) are not. West would like to be out there as well, but he also knows that he’s not ready yet.

“I definitely surprised myself,” West said. “I was able to go full contact. I got down there scrapping around with the big guys a little bit.” At the same time West acknowledged, “My conditioning wasn’t there. My timing was all off. I would love to go tomorrow. I feel confident. I expressed that to the trainers. But I think they want to stick to the plan.”

The plan is for him to return after the All-Star break when the Celtics head out on another west coast trip. Asked if it was tempting to bring West back sooner with Marquis Daniels out indefinitely, Doc Rivers said, “No, not for me. Obviously we’d love to have him [Thursday] but it’s not tempting for me.”

Still, West hinted that he may try to sneak in a game before the break. The Celtics play the Heat on Sunday and the Nets next Wednesday before the All-Star break next weekend.

When he does return, West won’t be operating at full strength and he won’t be fully recovered until the summer. He pegged his health at 85 percent, but that won’t keep him off the court. “I was told that I won’t be 100 percent for at least six months,” West said. “I still can’t rotate my wrist all the way around, there’s still a lot of pain in there.”

West said that he would wear some protection on his wrist when he does return, and as an added measure, he’s been studying martial arts for tips on transferring body mass when he does fall. “I’m not trying to make a joke here,” West said. “I’ve been studying kung fu. No, seriously. Guys that fall for a living.”

Read More: Delonte West,
Paul Pierce joins Ray Allen in 3-point contest 02.08.11 at 2:20 pm ET
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Paul Pierce gets his wish. The defending champion in the 3-point contest, Pierce wanted to go head-to-head with teammate Ray Allen, who won the contest in 2001. The two Celtics will have serious competition. Joining them in the field are Daniel Gibson, James Jones, Dorrell Wright and for added star power, Kevin Durant.

While Durant is obviously a big name, his addition to the contest is a little curious as he’s shooting just 36 percent from 3-point range this season. Matt Bonner, who’s shooting over 50 percent on 3′s was passed over, as was Denver’s Arron Afflalo and New Jersey’s Anthony Morrow.

The contest has two rounds with the top three scorers advancing to the finals and will be held Saturday, Feb. 19 as part of All-Star weekend.

Read More: 3-point contest, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen,
Celtics recall Avery Bradley from D-League 02.07.11 at 11:28 am ET
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Avery Bradley

The Celtics announced Monday that they have recalled rookie guard Avery Bradley from their D-League affiliate in Maine. Bradley is expected to join the team in time for its game with Charlotte Monday night.

With Marquis Daniels out with a serious spinal injury for at least the next month, if not longer, and Delonte West rehabbing from a broken wrist, their numbers were getting thin. Before Bradley’s recall they were down to just 10 healthy players as Shaquille O’Neal is also out with an Achilles injury and Jermaine O’Neal is out 6-8 weeks following knee surgery.

Bradley averaged 17 points, 4.8 rebounds, five assists and three steals with the Red Claws, and tied a D-League record with nine steals against Tulsa on Jan. 30. The rookie guard from Texas has played just 66 minutes for the Celtics this season and has seemed overwhelmed at times, but he has also shown a willingness to play through his mistakes and compete.

Read More: Avery Bradley,
No fine or suspension for Kevin Garnett after Mavericks game 02.05.11 at 7:20 pm ET
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The NBA has decided not to slap Kevin Garnett with any further punishment after Friday night’s game with the Mavericks, according to a league rep. Garnett was assessed a technical foul after a play in which he was fouled by the Mavs’ J.J. Barea. In the ensuing scuffle, Garnett shoved aside referee Eric Lewis who had stepped between them.

The NBA did upgrade a Garnett personal foul from late in the second quarter to a flagrant-1. The NBA defines a flagrant-1 foul as anything that as any contact that is “unnecessary.” A flagrant-2 is “unnecessary and excessive contact,” and is grounds for an automatic ejection.

This is the second incident in the last week for Garnett, who was ejected from the Phoenix Suns game last Friday after low-blowing Channing Frye. That led Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry to say he had lost respect for Garnett. Garnett wrote in a blog post for his sneaker company Anta, that he would, “never apologize,” for how he plays.

Read More: JJ Barea, Kevin Garnett,
Inside the Kendrick Perkins-Dwight Howard matchup 02.05.11 at 5:19 pm ET
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Dwight Howard and Kendrick Perkins have had many memorable matchups (AP).

Kendrick Perkins is renowned as one of the few men in the NBA who can go toe-to-toe with Dwight Howard. It’s a reputation that has grown over the years, ever since their meeting in the 2009 playoffs when Perkins stood tall with a shoulder injury so severe he couldn’t lift his arm over his head.

After missing the first two games against the Magic this season, Perkins is back in action — and the starting lineup — just in time for the rematch with Orlando on Sunday afternoon.

It’s been a fast climb for Perkins, who recorded his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds in 32 minutes against the Mavericks on Friday. He’s progressed so quickly that he’s obliterated the minutes restrictions that have been placed on him throughout his comeback.

After the Mavs game, thoughts naturally turned to the showdown with Howard. Perkins artfully streered clear of the questions.

“Don’t know,” he said when asked if he was ready. “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Perkins also called Howard “a great player,” and noted that the Celtics’ team defense is just as important as any one-on-one performance. Perkins is well aware that while his reputation has been enhanced by his individual battles with Howard, he’s also been on the receiving ends of some tough games and the respect is real.

After holding him to 13 points on 3-for-10 shooting in Game 1 of last year’s conference finals, Perkins was told that the local media was calling on Howard to do more in Game 2. His eyes grew wide as he said, “See, what happens is, y’all gas the man up. Then I have to deal with it.” Howard went out and promptly scored 30 points.

In the 2009 series, Howard averaged better than 17 points and 14 rebounds while shooting close to 60 percent. In 2010, Howard averaged 26.3 points and 16 rebounds over the final three games. It’s not that Perkins is a Howard-stopper; it’s more that Perkins is capable of slowing him down, and more importantly, he’s also willing to take him on without the help of double-teams. That, in turn, helps take away the Magic’s ability to get open looks on kickouts off double-teams.

But there’s more to it than that. One of the Celtics’ basic defensive principles is they don’t mind if a superstar player scores a ton of points. Their philosophy is that great players will be great. Their main concern is making it as difficult for them as possible, and if a guy hits a shot with a hand in his face, that’s life. Celtics coach Doc Rivers has also said in the past that he doesn’t care if Howard scores 30 points, because that just means that someone isn’t taking a 3-pointer.

None of that makes it any easier to handle the assignment, however. Perkins likely won’t have Shaquille O’Neal backing him up, as Shaq is dealing with an Achilles injury. That leaves Semih Erden as the nominal backup center, but look for the Celtics to use Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis in spots as well.

Make no mistake: Perkins loves the challenge. He’s faced down the Lakers frontline and the Mavericks’ Tyson Chandler, but this will be his biggest test to date, as it always is.

Read More: Dwight Howard, Kendrick Perkins, Magic,
Ray Allen to partcipate in 3-point contest 02.05.11 at 4:28 pm ET
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Ray Allen

Ray Allen told reporters Friday night that he had agreed to take part in the 3-point contest as part of All-Star weekend. The other competitors have not been named yet, but it is assumed that one of them will be defending champ Paul Pierce.

The captain made a plea on Twitter to face off against Allen this year, which would add a little spice to a competition generally thought of as the appetizer to the Slam Dunk contest.

Allen won the title back in 2001 and has made five appearances over the years, but not since 2006. He’s also closing in on the all-time 3-point mark, needing just five to pass Reggie Miller for the most made 3′s in NBA history. Allen has embraced the chase and said that he hopes to do it at the Garden.

“Actually, I truly am enjoying it,” he said Friday night. “This is a moment I’ve never experienced before. I don’t know how many people can experience this type of moment.”

Read More: 3-point contest, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen,
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