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Glen Davis acknowledges starting affected him mentally 01.20.11 at 4:56 pm ET
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While Kevin Garnett was out with a calf injury, the Celtics went 6-3 with Glen Davis in the starting lineup. He had some terrific games in that role, notably a 23-point effort against the Spurs and 15-11-8 line against the Raptors.

But it wasn’t all good for Davis who struggled with his outside shot. He made only 21-of-66 shots from 16-23 feet during his nine starts and also struggled to replace Garnett as a rebounder, getting a little more than four boards a game. Davis acknowledged Thursday after the team’s practice that the shift in roles affected him mentally.

“It’€™s all mental,” he said. “I was kind too hard on myself when I was starting. I wanted to prove to Doc [Rivers] and prove to my teammates … The difference between that and the playoffs is I just went and played. That’€™s what I do when I come off the bench, I just go out and play. I put a lot of pressure on myself.  I got out of myself and tried to be something [else]. That’€™s now how it works. You have to be yourself. I had a couple of good games, but as far as all-around games, the way I know I can play, I didn’€™t bring it. Now being on the bench you get back to the same mentality.”

Davis has excelled in his role as sixth man. In a recent online poll of SI.com basketball writers, Davis was listed on everyone’s ballot for Sixth Man of the Year consideration after the first half of the season. As a sixth man, Davis is able to not only backup Garnett, but also play important fourth quarter minutes at center. He has also made significant improvements in a number of areas, notably finishing at the rim.

Last season Davis shot barely over 50 percent inside and had his shot blocked at a whopping rate of 18 percent — the highest rate in the league for players playing meaningful minutes.

“I had a stat that I really didn’€™t like: the most blocked shots in the NBA,” Davis said. “You don’€™t like those type of stats. You find a way to get it done. That’€™s my mentality. Just find a way to get it done.”

And he found a way to do it. This season Davis is shooting more inside, and finishing better, than he has in his career, and he has cut his shot-blocked rate by more than half, down to a more reasonable 7.5 percent.

“Just slow down,” Davis said when asked about the adjustments he’s made. “Most of the time when you get an offensive rebound you want to hurry up and go ahead and put it back up. If you look at the rim and find the rim, you go straight up because they’€™re waiting for you. They just don’€™t know when you’€™re going to go up.”

While Davis slides back into a more comfortable role — and the one that also suits him best — he is still driven by the same forces that have always motivated him. The slights and the doubts ring loud in his head.

“I always have to prove myself,” he said. “I’€™m an undersized power forward. Everybody knows me as the overweight guy. People think I’€™m too big. A lot of negative things about me. I always have the motivation when I play. In spite of what other people say.”

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Doc Rivers on D&C: Shaq recruited me 01.20.11 at 9:52 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show for his weekly Thursday visit and talked about the win over the Pistons, trash talk coming from Orlando, and the impact of Shaquille O’Neal. “He woke up young yesterday,” Rivers said. “It was nice. We needed it. We don’t win that game without Shaq’s energy.”

Rivers was asked if he played an active role in recruiting O’Neal, but really it was the other way around. “He kind of recruited me,” Rivers said. “Shaq was on our radar, but we were actually talking to other guys. I got a call from Shaq out of the clear-blue sky. He wanted to meet.”

The coach flew to Orlando and, “Ten minutes later he’s literally at my house, sitting in my office at my house and we talked about coming to Boston. I was asking him more questions. Would he be able to do this? Is he capable of not being the guy, being a role player, limited minutes, not starting? He was great about everything and so far he’s lived up to what he said he was coming for.”

As far as the Orlando talk (Magic GM Otis Smith said the Celtics only act tough), Rivers dismissed it. “I’m just going to let Otis keep talking. I learned long ago the guys in the suits and ties have very little impact on what’s going to happen on the floor, so I’m just going to let Otis keep talking. We want to beat them anyway. It’s not going to matter. I think anytime somebody says something and Kevin Garnett hears it, it cant hurt us. I’ll put it that way.”

Rivers said that Garnett is close to 100 percent, and it’s only a matter of rediscovering his timing.

“He’s pretty close,” Rivers said. “I was really surprised. I thought the way he played last night would be the way he played against Orlando. It’s just timing.”

The coach also said that Marquis Daniels, who rolled his ankle, could play Friday against Utah.

Rivers also weighed in on the NBA topic of the day: Carmelo Anthony. “I don’t really care [where he goes,” Rivers said. “The thing I didn’t like about it, it was way too public.”

Read More: Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Otis Smith, Shaquille O'Neal
Doc Rivers: ‘I’ll let everyone else talk about us’ 01.19.11 at 7:21 pm ET
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Two different comments about the Celtics have made the rounds today. One complimentary, and the other not so much. Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith questioned the Celtics tough reputation by telling the Orlando Sentinel, “They act tough. They’re not really tough. They act tough.”

Asked about it before the Celtics game with the Pistons, Ray Allen responded, “It doesn’t matter. We know who we are.”

Celtics coach Doc Rivers wouldn’t even go that far. “I’ll let everybody else talk about us,” he said. “They seem to do it better than us.”

Told that Lakers coach Phil Jackson had suggested that Heat couldn’t beat the Celtics, Rivers joked, “In that case I think Phil is a genius! And I hope he’€™s right. There’€™s a lot of playing to be played. We’€™ll see how that all works out.”

Read More: Doc Rivers, Orlando Magic, Otis Smith, Phil Jackson
The Celtics chances of winning the Eastern Conference 01.19.11 at 10:39 am ET
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It has long been the assumption of most people that the Miami Heat will ultimately win enough games to get the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Heat’s stars are younger, obviously, and there was a feeling that such an accomplishment would “mean” more to them than the Celtics. So, when Miami went 21-1 and passed Boston for the best record in the East on Jan. 9, many assumed that was the beginning of the end for the Celtics hopes at gaining homecourt advantage.

That may be changing.

Miami has now lost four games in a row after last night’s overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks and the Celtics have a four-game edge in the loss column. How much is that worth?

According to Justin Kubatko’s playoff forecasting model on Basketball-Reference.com, it’s actually worth quite a bit. Using Kubatko’s method, the Celtics now have a 72.4 percent chance of gaining the top spot based on 1,000 simulations. That’s up from around 60 percent before Tuesday’s game.

With Kevin Garnett back in the lineup and more help on the way in February from Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West, the Celtics have kept themselves in position to make a run in the second half of the season. They would do well to continue putting pressure on Miami, who play 10 of its 13 games at home in the month of March.

For the Celtics, the question will be how much effort do they want to expend to get the top spot, but the opening is there. (Click here for more on the challenges facing the Celtics in the second half of the season).

Read More: Celtics, Miami Heat,
NBA will rescind Rajon Rondo assist 01.18.11 at 2:20 pm ET
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It’s no secret that stat inflation goes on in every NBA game, but how about getting credited for an assist on as pass you didn’t even make? That was the case Monday night in the Celtics 109-106 win over the Orlando Magic when Rajon Rondo was given an assist on a play that ended with Shaquille O’Neal scoring on a pass from Ray Allen.

This was first caught by Sham Sports, an invaluable NBA site, and given some more exposure by Zach Lowe, from the Sports Illustrated NBA blog, The Point Forward. The league emailed Lowe and told him the assist will be changed.

Here’s the video:

Read More: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Shaquille O'Neal,
Kevin Garnett returns to lineup with no restrictions 01.17.11 at 7:55 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett will make his return to the lineup against the Orlando Magic Monday night and he will not have a minutes restriction in his first game since injuring his right calf against the Pistons on Dec. 29. “He’s pretty much free to play,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before the game.

The Celtics had contemplated bringing Garnett back last Friday after he went through most of a practice the day before. But they ultimately decided to give him the weekend to make sure everything felt 100 percent. “He had a practice before the other night where he probably could have played, but we were going to bring him back if he was right,” Rivers said. “So he’€™s pretty much free to play now.”

Rivers said he wouldn’t shy away from playing Garnett against Dwight Howard, although they typically don’t use that strategy until late in games to avoid getting Garnett in foul trouble.

Several other injured Celtics players are also in the lineup including Shaquille O’Neal, who slipped on ice getting to practice Sunday and Marquis Daniels who had to sit out most of practice after taking a hard screen from Kendrick Perkins.

Read More: injuries, Kevin Garnett,
Preview: Magic at Celtics, Game 40 01.17.11 at 1:48 pm ET
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Over the years the Celtics and Magic have had an underrated, but energetic, rivalry. The Magic knocked the Celtics out in the 2009 playoffs and the Celtics returned the favor last season. They have played on Christmas Day two years running and there have been the kind of matchups (Dwight Howard vs. Kendrick Perkins, Rashard Lewis vs. Kevin Garnett) that have marked their games with the sort of in-game strategic maneuvers that hard-core hoops fans enjoy.

That might be why this rivalry exists mainly on the court and not in the press. Doc Rivers was one of the first coaches to catch on that the 2009 Magic had turned a corner and become a legitimate challenger. The respect has worked both ways as each side has recognized the other as their most formidable conference foe.

That’s not to say there hasn’t been some sparks, but it’s been relatively peaceful between the two teams. As opposed to say, the Celtics and Lakers or Magic and Heat.

Perhaps that’s why the Celtics, and presumably Orlando, are not putting much emphasis on the outcome of Monday night game. They both know that while the result may be a significant signpost for where they are right now, there’s a ton of difference when right now is Jan. 17 and later when it really matters.

“The games don’€™t literally have meaning, but guys get fired up for games like this,” River said Sunday at practice. “I don’€™t know about our guys, I know the other team does for sure. I like games like this because I think it’€™s good for us.”

That comment could have been taken as an indirect slap, but the feeling here is that Rivers intended it more for his team. The Celtics have been treading water since late December. To their credit they have done so better than last season when the injuries began to take hold.

Since beating the 76ers on Dec. 22 to run their winning streak to 14 games, the Celtics have gone 7-5. The first loss came against Orlando on Christmas in a game that was ragged to say the least. “That game down there, I don’€™t think any team was proud of the way they played,” Rivers said. “I thought both teams were proud of the way they competed. It just was not played very well at all.”

Both teams are fighting for position. The Celtics hope to get Garnett back tonight, which would go a long way toward solving their emerging frontcourt depth issue, while the Magic recently lost two straight after running off nine consecutive wins. It’s a big game in that regard as both teams are trying to establish some consistency through the dog days of January.

MAGIC (26-14, 8-2 last 10)

Offensive Rating: 107.7 (Points per 100 possessions, 12th)

Defensive Rating: 102.0 (Points allowed per 100 possessions, 3rd)

Pace: 92.2 (Possessions per game, 18th)

Likely Starters: Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Brandon Bass, Dwight Howard

Injuries: Malik Allen (Ankle, out), Daniel Orton (Knee, out), Jason Williams (Foot, out)

CELTICS (30-9, 6-4, LAST 10)

Offensive Rating: 108.8 (10th)

Defensive Rating: 100.5 (2nd)

Pace: 90.8 (21st)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal

Injuries: Garnett (Strained calf, probable), Shaquille O’Neal (Strained adductor, questionable), Marquis Daniels (Back, probable), Semih Erden (Groin, probable), Jermaine O’Neal (Knee, out), Delonte West (Wrist, out), Kendrick Perkins (Knee, out)  Read the rest of this entry »

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