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Practice report: The Celtic way 10.11.10 at 3:42 pm ET
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It was a half hour or so after practice had concluded and Kevin Garnett was finished with his customary individual workout. As he looked up from his own efforts, Garnett saw Semih Erden going through the paces on pick and roll defense. Garnett called over to assistant coach Kevin Eastman and asked him to, “get Luke,” as in Harangody, the Celtics other rookie big man.

Dripping with sweat and slightly out of breath, Garnett gathered the two together and began a tutorial as only Garnett can. He wanted them to talk loud. No, louder. Let there be no doubt which way they were showing, Garnett told them in no uncertain terms.

Erden had been too quiet on Sunday against the Raptors, and in one instance he let Rajon Rondo get steamrolled by a screen. The lesson took no more than 10 minutes and left little time for pleasantries or niceties. That’s just fine with Harangody who relishes this kind of attention from Garnett.

“He’€™s not really yelling,” Harangody said after the Raptors game. “He’€™s teaching. I like that, to be honest.”

“He helps the ones he likes,” Doc Rivers said. “Kevin is great. Kevin tries to help every big in here. If that big doesn’€™t listen to him one time, he’€™ll never speak to him again. Literally one time. That has happened a couple of times. Those two guys that he did that to are no longer here and that may be one of the reasons. That’€™s Kevin, when you talk about the Celtic Way, whatever that is, just say Kevin Garnett, and you’€™re pretty much there. Everything he does and says is about the team.”

Garnett’s little demonstration was a perfect example of the “Celtic Way,” for lack of a better phrase. It has been standard operating procedure around this team since Garnett arrived with Ray Allen and set about with Rivers and Paul Pierce “changing the culture,” to use another over-worked cliche.

“It’s not for everyone,” Rivers said. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Luke Harangody, Nate Robinson, Semih Erden
Celtics bond at Fenway 10.09.10 at 4:03 pm ET
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The fact that the Celtics gathered at Fenway Park on their off day for an impromptu softball game is perhaps less noteworthy than the identity of the organizer. That would be Rajon Rondo, who has been criticized at times for not knowing when to assert his authority as the team’s point guard in a room full of Hall of Famers.

“It was Rondo’€™s deal,” Doc Rivers said. “It was great. The Red Sox are great to us. They gave us the field and we went out and played.”

Paul Pierce called it “one of the best days of my life.” Kevin Garnett said it was, “a dream come true.”

No question, the Celtics are having a good time getting to know one another.

“We’€™re having a blast,” Garnett said. “We come in here and bust each other’€™s [butt.]. Doc he lets us be competitive and be who we are and then off the court we try to get to know each other. It just so happens that we got more people that Tweet more than anything on this team than anybody in the league. That’€™s why y’€™all know what’€™s going on in the locker room, but we’€™re having a good time. We work hard but also we play hard.”

The softball game followed movie night in Newport, assorted team dinners and a duck boat tour. One of Garnett’s tenets is that teams that know each other off the floor are better able to relate with one another when they’re working on the court.

“It certainly doesn’€™t hurt,” he said. “The more you do together, the more activities you have together, the more you get to know one another, the more one-on-one’€™s you have with each other. … You come together for this common goal, so far so good.”

Rondo was apparently voted the MVP of the game, while Jermaine O’Neal surprised everyone with his swing. As for Garnett, he played left in the shadow of Ted Williams, Yaz, Jim Rice and Manny Ramirez. Judging by his own description, Theo Epstein shouldn’t have him on speed dial.

“Danny [Ainge] hit a couple to me,” Garnett said. “Some I dropped, some I didn’€™t. Good day. 50-50. I’€™ll take it. It was fun day. Beautiful day at Fenway. Dream come true. I felt like I was 10 years old.”

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo,
Doc on Miami rumor: ‘I’m not going there’ 10.09.10 at 3:42 pm ET
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Doc Rivers downplayed speculation that he would one day go to Miami to coach Pat Riley’s South Beach juggernaut. “I’€™m not getting into that.,” Rivers said Saturday after the Celtics concluded practice. “The only guy on [Riley's] list is Erik [Spoelstra] and that’€™s the only guy that should be there. I’€™m not going there.”

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote that Rivers would be at the top of Riley’s list if he were to make a change. In the same piece, Rivers told Woj that he’s given thought to being a career Celtics coach.

“I’€™m year to year,” Rivers reiterated Saturday. “That’€™s how I am. The question asked is, where else would you rather go? And I don’€™t think there’€™s a better place than here. It’€™s a great set-up and it is phenomenal.”

Much of the basis for Rivers’ decision to return for the final season of his contract is his relationship with Celtics boss Danny Ainge. The coach has said often that he has a unique friendship with Ainge, and that’s not something coaches can find in every city.

“It’€™s the organization,” Rivers said. “You look at the Red Sox and see Theo [Epstein] and Terry [Francona] and they have a great relationship. It works. When you can get along it’€™s nice. You look around and there’€™s so many groups that’€™s them and us. Here it’€™s just us.

“Maybe because we went through hard times at the start. Not our relationship, but we weren’€™t winning a lot of games. When you endure that as a group, I think you clearly grow together. It’€™s amazing through that whole time I thought as a group, we got closer and that’€™s rare.”

His players are certainly glad that’s sticking around. Paul Pierce noted earlier in camp that Rivers’ decision to return was a key factor in his decision to re-sign, along with Ray Allen.

“He’€™s been able to coach a young team and he’€™s shown he can build a veteran team with a lot of personalities,” Pierce said. “That’€™s a difficult combination for a coach. I wouldn’€™t be surprised to see Doc here for another 20 years, and you might see me here too.”

Read More: Doc Rivers, Erik Spoelstra, Pat Riley, Paul Pierce
Camp report: Fighting through the injuries 10.04.10 at 4:09 pm ET
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As always with the Celtics, injuries and their effects will be a constant theme this season. It’s fitting then that only a week into camp, the team is already dealing with a couple of minor ailments.

Jermaine O’Neal injured his left hamstring at the end of Friday’s practice and will likely be held out for the rest of the week. Delonte West left practice Monday after suffering back spasms. Doc Rivers is a little more optimistic on West, saying that West could be day to day. One thing is certain: the Celtics are playing it safe.

“We cannot take a chance with that,” Rivers said.

The injuries, however minor, do allow for Rivers to begin tinkering with lineups. When practice opened to the media, Shaquille O’Neal was with the first team and Von Wafer and Semih Erden were working with the second unit.

“When you look at Shaq and Jermaine and think that they’€™re going to play 82 games healthy, that would be nice, but we have to be ready for them to miss a couple of games,” Rivers said. “That’€™s why like Luke [Harangody] and Semih are so important. They’€™re going to have to play.”

Jermaine O’Neal’s hamstring injury, which he does not believe is serious, comes at a difficult time because he was just getting comfortable with the new system.

“I’€™m not really concerned about it,” O’Neal said. “It’€™s the timing, being here with the guys getting that chemistry. I was just starting to get comfortable with the philosophies, what Doc wanted. That’€™s the most frustrating part about it. But I don’€™t have any doubt in my mind that I’€™ll be back fairly soon. There’€™s no substitution for it. You can study and look all you want. I felt like Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I was really starting to get comfortable and everything was starting to slow down.”

Rivers termed O’Neal’s play “up and down,” through the first part of camp, which is understandable since he’s just beginning to process all the changes. “When you’€™re playing with a new team, you’€™re not playing, you’€™re thinking,” Rivers said. “But other than that I love what he was doing. He’€™s starting to make shots from the outside.”

The Celtics open their exhibition schedule Wednesday in Manchester, New Hampshire against the Sixers. O’Neal is almost certainly out for that game, while West is day to day.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Delonte West, Jermaine O'Neal, Paul Pierce, Shaquille O'Neal
Tony Gaffney on the move 10.04.10 at 10:26 am ET
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The Celtics officially announced the release of Tony Gaffney Monday morning and it appears the UMass product is headed to Turkey.

Gaffney, like a number of young players, is trying to crave out a role in the NBA. His strengths–defense and rebounding– would be welcome additions to most teams, but while the Celtics certainly value those traits they are also loaded at his position where he was already behind Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis.

The C’s feel like they need shooting and that has left Von Wafer with a fighting chance at the last roster spot. Wafer is getting pushed by Mario West, a defensive specialist who walked on at Georgia Tech and survived three seasons with the Hawks. West has played 156 career games and scored 132 points, so scoring is definitely not his thing.

But West can guard small forwards and that is a greater source of need for the Celtics than what Gaffney was able to provide.

Read More: Mario West, Tony Gaffney, Von Wafer,
Training camp report: Getting defensive 09.29.10 at 5:08 pm ET
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NEWPORT, R.I. — A day after working through sweltering conditions at Salve Regina, a bit of normalcy returned to the Celtics on the second day of their workouts. Doc Rivers felt that it was a good, crisp practice and the focus was on–what else?– defense.

Tom Thibodeau is no longer with them, having left to coach the Bulls, but don’t expect the Celtics to change much defensively.

“We’ll keep it the same,” Rivers said. “Thibs and I toward the end of last year wanted to make some changes, but it was in the middle of the year so we decided not to. So we’€™ll make those changes now as a group. Other than that there will be very few changes.”

There are two points of emphasis for the C’s in camp. They want to lower their opponents field goal percentage and pressure the ball fullcourt. The two things are related.

“We went from No. 1 in field goal percentage defense to No. 9 last year,” Rivers said. “We want to get that back to No. 1. We have to pressure more. Our first year and a half we pressured the ball up the floor. Kevin [Garnett] was up the floor pressuring. Due to Kevin’€™s injury we got away from that completely.”

Garnett looks healthy in the early days of camp. “Night and day,” is how Rivers put it. “He’€™s explosive again, especially defensively.”

Without fullcourt pressure, the Celtics gave teams the whole 24 seconds on the shot clock to get into their offense and that left them defending for 18-19 seconds in the halfcourt. Rivers wants to see that down to 12-14 seconds.

“We really didn’€™t pressure the ball up the floor,” Rivers said. “You got [Rajon] Rondo on the floor and Kevin to shadow and we couldn’€™t do it last year. That’€™s a huge concession for our team.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Delonte West, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal, Von Wafer
Paul Pierce on Doc Rivers’ return: ‘That was huge’ 09.28.10 at 11:48 am ET
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In our countdown of the Celtics 10 most important offseason developments, we gave the top spot to Doc Rivers‘ decision to return to the bench. Paul Pierce backed that up at media day Monday

“I think the most important thing was Doc coming back,” Pierce said. “That was huge. It would have been a tougher decision on me truthfully. It would have been a domino effect. If you had seen Doc leave, I honestly believe that we probably wouldn’€™t have re-signed Ray [Allen]. We probably wouldn’€™t have went after Shaq, re-signed Nate [Robinson]. We probably would have seen rebuilding here”

Pierce also acknowledged that he wouldn’t have wanted to be involved with another rebuilding effort at this point in his career.

Read More: Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Shaquille O'Neal
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