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Danny Ainge on The Big Show: C’s not likely to deal at deadline 01.27.11 at 5:26 pm ET
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Danny Ainge (AP)

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined The Big Show for his weekly visit and said that the team was likely to stay intact through the rest of the season. The trade deadline is Feb. 24, but unlike last season the Celtics aren’t likely to be in the trade market.

Not only are they playing better, but Ainge also pointed to the return of Kendrick Perkins last week, as well as the return of Delonte West, hopefully in late February.

“Of course there’s players out there that are good players, but I like our team,” Ainge said. “I like the mix when we’re all healthy. It’s also very difficult to make any trades because the contracts that could make some significant noise are the contracts of our big four And then the guys on our bench like Perk or [Glen Davis], we certainly don’t want to move any of those guys to make and of those trades. So I like our team and I think this is probably the team that we’ll be with by the time the season ends.”

[Go to The Big Show audio on demand page to hear the whole interview]

Ainge said that getting West back will be a key addition for the Celtics because of his versatility. “We’re looking forward to Delonte coming back, but he probably won’t be back until the end of February,” Ainge said. “He’s a perfect fit and compliment to the guys that we have on our bench and maybe the guy that’s the most versatile. He shoots and he handles the ball. He runs the team. He’s a terrific defender, rebounder. We really miss having Delonte out there.”

Here are more highlights from the conversation. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Danny Ainge, Delonte West, Kendrick Perkins, The Big Show
Preview: Celtics at Trail Blazers, Game 45 01.27.11 at 11:18 am ET
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You just can’t kill the Portland Trail Blazers. Greg Oden is out for the season, again, after knee surgery. Marcus Camby is out for three weeks after knee surgery. Brandon Roy had surgery on both his knees. On and on it goes for the most star-crossed franchise in the NBA who may never approach the greatness that was forecast for them following the 2009 season.

Yet, here they are again, clinging to the eighth spot in the Western Conference having won five of their last six games. Much of the credit for Portland’s still viable status belongs to forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who has taken on a larger burden without Roy in the Blazers deliberate offense and scoring more inside.

Aldridge, Andre Miller, Wes Matthews and Nic Batum form the thrown-together core of this Blazers team and that’s enough talent to make them a tough out any night of the week.

The Celtics come to town tonight for the start of a four-game west coast trip and in many way, this is the pivotal game of the trip. They have a back-to-back with Phoenix Friday night and then the showdown with the Lakers on Sunday. The last thing the Celtics want is a losing streak heading into L.A.

CELTICS (34-10, 7-3 last 10)

Offensive Rating: 109.1 (Points scored per 100 possessions, 10th)

Defensive Rating: 100.6 (Points allowed per 100 possessions, 2nd)

Pace: 90.6 (Possessions per game, 22nd)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Semih Erden

Injuries: Shaquille O’Neal (Hip, questionable), Jermaine O’Neal (Knee, out), Delonte West (Wrist, out).

TRAIL BLAZERS (25-21, 6-4 last 10)

Offensive Rating: 107.3 (14th)

Defensive Rating: 106.6 (15th)

Pace: 88.8 (30th)

Likely Starters: Andre Miller, Wes Matthews, Nic Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Pryzbilla

Injuries: Marcus Camby (Knee, out), Greg Oden (Knee, out), Brandon Roy (Knee, out), Elliot Williams (Knee, out), Aldridge (Hip, probable), Matthews (Hip, questionable). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Preview, Trail Blazers,
Kendrick Perkins returns 01.25.11 at 7:24 pm ET
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Kendrick Perkins

About an hour before the Celtics were to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kendrick Perkins rolled through the locker room and found about 20 reporters congregating by his locker. Someone asked if he had lobbied coach Doc Rivers to play Tuesday night, 10 days ahead of his scheduled target date of Feb. 4. “I probably did,” he said with a smile as he tried to deflect the obvious: He’s back.

Perkins returns about seven months after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during Game 6 of the NBA finals and about six months after having surgery. It’s been quite a turnaround for Perkins, who had his first live practice on Jan. 16. As late as Monday, Rivers said he wouldn’t rush Perkins back, even with injuries keeping both Shaquille O’Neal (hip) and Jermaine O’Neal (knee) out of the lineup.

Later that night, team trainer Eddie Lacerte and team doctor Brian McKeon told Rivers that Perkins was ready.

“I didn’t think he’d play on this [upcoming west coast] trip, but it wasn’t a big surprise when they walked in,” Rivers said. “When they came in together I knew what they were coming in for, so I was all for it.”

Perkins won’t start yet and Rivers said he was on a restriction on 12-16 minutes. “It’s going to take Perk some time,” Rivers said. “Listen, you don’t miss the amount of games that he’s missed and have the injury that he has and think that because he’s going to play tonight he’s going to be the Perk that you saw the last time.”

Still, with the injuries to the O’Neal’s (Shaq may return Friday, Jermaine O’Neal is out until after the All-Star break) his return has become an important component of the second half of the season. Rivers has not been able to develop a bench with all the injuries affecting various members of the second unit.

For now, Perkins adds depth at a position that needs some, but once he’s able to work his back into the starting lineup he’ll allow Rivers the flexibility to use Shaq and Glen Davis off the bench.

“It’s just another piece we’re adding is the way I’m looking at it,” Rivers said. “That’s great for us. The healthier we can get, the better we can get, the more consistent we can become and we can start rolling. It’s tough to grow as a team when half your team, or at least your bench, is not playing.”

Perkins’ teammates were obviously thrilled with the development. They have been impressed with how hard he’s worked. Perkins said last week that he has lost eight pounds and he appears trimmer and in better shape than when he was injured.

“I’m just hoping he doesn’t foul out in those 16 minutes,” Rivers joked. “Which is very likely.”

Read More: Jermaine O'Neal, Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O'Neal,
The Celtics won’t rush Kendrick Perkins back 01.24.11 at 4:14 pm ET
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Kendrick Perkins

It has to be tempting for the Celtics to see Kendrick Perkins going through live practice sessions and think they need to get him back on the floor now. With Jermaine O’Neal out four weeks for rest and rehab on his injured knee and Shaquille O’Neal likely to miss at least the next two games with a sore hip, the team’s depth at center is once again down to Semih Erden and Glen Davis.

That’s enough to get through a game here or there, and that’s the way the Celtics are going to play it because they are taking the longview on Perkins’ return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Doc Rivers acknowledged Monday that Perkins has already begun lobbying to come back sooner, but it’s falling on deaf ears.

“Honestly, he wants to play tomorrow,” Rivers said. “He’s already approached me about that. The only consideration is when [trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] and Dr. [Brian] McKeon say you can play him. I’m not going to listen to Perk, I can tell you that.”

Perkins has targeted Feb. 4 against the Mavericks as his potential return date and the Celtics have five games left between now and then. They play the Cavs Tuesday at the Garden and then head out for a four-game west coast trip.

It’s unlikely that Shaq will play in the first game Thursday at Portland for a number of reasons — it’s a long flight and it’s the first of a back-to-back with Phoenix on Friday. “I think [Shaq will] play in at least one or two of the games for sure, but I don’t [know] that positively.”

The Celtics have made it this far being patient with injuries. They can afford to wait a little longer.

Read More: Jermaine O'Neal, Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O'Neal,
Ricky Rubio reportedly has interest in Celtics 01.23.11 at 7:39 pm ET
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Ricky Rubio was drafted by the Timberwolves in 2009, but the Spanish guard has yet to sign a contract and come to the NBA. Rubio faces an interesting choice this summer. If he signs before June 30, his contract would be on the current rookie scale. If he waits and stays in Europe for another season he could negotiate a deal that isn’t bound by the rookie scale.

Complicating the matter further is the pending lockout, which could go into effect on June 30 once the current collective bargaining agreement ends and would muddle his options further.

But Rubio has never shown an interest in playing for Minnesota, and in a piece in The New York Times, one of his representatives is quoted as saying that Rubio would rather play for an East Coast team, citing New York, Miami and Boston as his preferred destinations.

The takeaway from Rubio’s interest isn’t that he wants to come to Boston so much as it appears that he doesn’t want to go to Minnesota. It’s not really his choice right now because Rubio doesn’t have a lot of leverage. The Timberwolves own his rights, regardless of how long it takes for him to sign a contract. Even if he did want to play for the Celtics, they are already set at point guard with Rajon Rondo, who is in the first year of a five-year, $65 million contract.

While it is interesting that he has Boston on his list, the specter of a work stoppage and a new collective bargaining agreement makes any future plans impossible to predict. That’s one of the reasons the Celtics went all-in for this season. Their future is an open question as the only players signed beyond next season are Rondo and Paul Pierce. (Rookies Avery Bradley, Semih Erden and Luke Harangody also are more or less bound to the team.)

Read More: Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Ricky Rubio,
Fast Break: Celtics play taps on the Jazz 01.21.11 at 9:58 pm ET
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The Celtics played nine home games over the last three weeks and after their 110-86 beatdown of the Utah Jazz Friday night, they won eight and lost one. They played some memorable games during that stretch, including wins over San Antonio and Orlando, as well as some ugly grind-it-out affairs.

They capped it off with a double-digit win over one of the best teams in the Western Conference, which puts an exclamation point on this recent stretch that also saw them return to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Life is good for the Celtics right now.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Ball movement: The Celtics were out of rhythm Wednesday in their win over Detroit and execution was a point of emphasis for them at practice on Thursday. It was clear right from the start that it wouldn’t be a problem on this night. The Celtics had assists on all five of their early baskets and kept it up, finishing with 31 assists on 37 made shots.

Rajon Rondo had 12 assists, but everyone was involved. One late-game sequence saw the ball hop from Marquis Daniels to Nate Robinson to Von Wafer before finally ending with a dish to Semih Erden for a jam.

The return of the sixth man: Glen Davis opened up Thursday about the pressure he put on himself while he was a member of the starting lineup. It seems that being one of the best sixth men in the game is a role that’s growing on him. Davis was at his absolute best Friday, scoring 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting with seven rebounds. He scored inside and out and outworked the Utah bigs for loose balls. This is his role and he’s one of the best in the league at it.

Semih-tough: It’s been an up and down season for Erden, but he shows flashes of becoming more than just a solid role player in this league someday. Erden played 30 minutes and had a season-high 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting and seven rebounds. The Celtics needed him to play minutes after Shaquille O’Neal left the game early in the first quarter and he delivered a great performance.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Shaq Maintenance: The big fella left the game midway through the first quarter and didn’t return. The team announced in the second half that he has a sore right leg. Shaq has been dealing with a number of leg injuries throughout the season, but he has gutted it out and given the Celtics minutes. It’s too early to tell if it’s anything more than that, but the unexpected blowout allowed for some opportunistic rest.

Foul trouble for Deron Williams: The All-Star guard picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter and then got his third early in the second. Williams had an all-around awful night, depriving us of an opportunity to see him and Rondo go head-to-head. Williams played on 23 minutes and had five points on 1-for-4 shooting.

FAST BREAK RULE: When you beat a Jerry Sloan-coached team by 20 or more points there are only so many things that can go “wrong.”

Read More: Celtics, Fast Break, jazz,
Nate Robinson’s strange season 01.21.11 at 7:33 pm ET
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Nate Robinson

One of the keys to having a player like Nate Robinson on a team like the Celtics is allowing him to do what he does best. Robinson is a scorer in a point guard’s body and it’s taken some time for both the player and the team to adjust to each other.

When he first arrived Robinson wanted to prove that he could fit in on an unselfish team, but his ability to create his own shot was exactly the reason they got him. Then there was the defensive end. Doc Rivers wanted him to defend fullcourt and it wasn’t until the playoffs that they got on the same page.

This season has been a different story. Robinson is playing defense. As our friends at Celtics Hub noticed, Robinson is part of the NBA’s best five-man unit in terms of defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) according to Basketball Value. The other four are Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O’Neal.

Playing with Garnett will make anyone’s team defensive numbers look better, but Robinson has taken to his role as a fullcourt pest, forcing his opponent to burn shot-clock time to get the ball over halfcourt.

On the other end, Robinson has become the high usage player the team envisioned, but his shot isn’t falling as it has in the past and there are times when perhaps he gets a little too perimeter heavy. Coming into Friday’s game with Utah, Robinson is shooting just 35 percent (21-for-60) in his last 10 games and has taken a rather incredible 55 of those shots from 16 feet and out.

Has he become too jumpshot happy?

“Depends on the shot,” Rivers said. “I’ll leave it there. We want him to make shots. He’s got open shots that he’s not making or making, I’m fine with that. But he does take some you don’t like. Honestly, with Nate I pretty much leave him alone. I’ll tell him after a game but I don’t think you correct a shooter during a game. Usually that’s with your teammates, they’re body language will tell him that that was a horrible shot.”

Asked if he wanted Robinson to try to get to the basket more (he’s taken just two shots at the rim in the last 10 games), Rivers said he’d like him to use more of his mid-range game, which has also been relatively non-existent.

“Not really,” Rivers said. “At his size getting to the basket is very difficult and very difficult for him to finish. I like his in-between game better than I do all the way to the basket.”

All that said Robinson has given the Celtics games and minutes. When Rajon Rondo was out with his various leg ailments, Robinson stepped in and soaked up major minutes. It wasn’t a perfect fit, but he did the job that was asked. The Celtics believe that when Delonte West returns from a broken wrist it will allow Robinson to really flourish. Until then, he is still searching for the elusive happy medium.

Read More: Celtics, Nate Robinson,
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