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Doc on how Celtics can get better: ‘We can win Game 7′ 10.16.10 at 9:23 pm ET
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HARTFORD — Doc Riversinitial explanation of how his Celtics can better from last season’s team, which came one win away from the NBA title, wasn’t complicated.

“We can win Game 7,” he said prior to the C’s preseason tilt with the Knicks Saturday night at XL Center.

But, as the Celtics’ coach talked, he got more specific.

“We can rebound better. We were awful during the regular season. We turned the ball over during the regular season. And we didn’t win enough home games,” Rivers said. “I know we had the injuries, but we were losing the home games even when we were playing well last year. And in retrospect, it came back and we had a Game 7 on the road, so that’s how we can get better. I don’t know record-wise if we will be better or not, but I know we can be a better basketball team.”

Another difference Rivers will be looking for?

“Veteran teams have to be playing well all year, just like young teams,” he said. “I’ve said it before, what we did last year was unusual. It usually doesn’t work and in my opinion didn’t work. It got us to the Finals but didn’t us to what we wanted. We didn’t win it. That’s what we’re going to fight. Just because we have a lot of experience, we can’t use that as a crutch all year.”

Then came the final, much more specific, focal point that might allow the C’s to leave the season with a smile: Actually pounding the ball into the post instead of living on the perimeter.

“When you have injuries you tend to stay outside, and it hurt us. You look at some of the bigger games in the playoffs, we really didn’t have post presences at the time. That’s a difficult way to play basketball and win. We got away with it for the most part, but not all the way,” Rivers explained. “You’ll see more. Two years ago, we were an in and out basketball team. We had to basically abandon that in some ways.”

The coach continued: “We’re posting everybody. That’s what we told them the first day, is we have to get back to being an in and out team. We want to run, we want to get easy baskets, we want to look to the early post. Like yesterday, Kevin [Garnett] had five of them where sprinted down the floor, beat everybody down the floor, got deep in the post, and last year he was the last guy down the floor. He was dragging his leg. We had to do what we had to do to win. It allows you to stop runs when you have a post game. Teams are on an 8-0 run, you can call a timeout and go right to the post, you usually get something out of that. When you don’t that you just better hope to make every shot.”

And then there is the secret weapon …

Paul [Pierce] loves the post, so does Kevin. [Rajon] Rondo is the guy, for me, who is the new guy that we can actually use,” Rivers explained. “Rondo is better than you think down there. We were working on it a lot last year, we just never had the confidence to do it.

“What makes him effective is that you have to guard him down there. You can’t back off of him on the post. When he’s guarded, it not only spreads the floor, but it makes him a better passer.”

So, there you have it in a nutshell: The keys to unlocking the door that the Celtics couldn’t walk through a season ago.

Tommy Heinsohn gives NBA new slogan: ‘It’s stupid!’ 10.14.10 at 8:30 am ET
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Classic Tommy after Kevin Garnett gets ejected in Wednesday night’s Celtics‘ win over the Knicks. Heinsohn: “This is absolutely, NBA, it’s stupid!” (Hat tip to ‘Ball Don’t Lie’)

Reggie Evans: Chris Bosh will use Paul Pierce dunk as ‘ammunition’ 10.10.10 at 10:28 pm ET
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Talking after his team’s 91-87 preseason loss to the Celtics on Sunday night at TD Garden, Toronto forward Reggie Evans suggested that his former teammate, Chris Bosh, would be using the motivation derived from being kicked by Paul Pierce during dunk in the midst of a Nov. 27 game last year at the Garden when Bosh’s new team, the Heat, face off with the Celts in the teams’ season-opener.

“Me knowing Chris, I know he’s got that game penciled in based on what happened last year with the Paul Pierce dunk, with the kick and stuff,” Evans said. “Knowing him, when he has so much ammunition on a team, I know he’s looking forward to that game. He may deny it, but I’m pretty sure he’s looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun to watch.”

Evans explained that Bosh never said anything about the play, but suggested that it wouldn’t be a big leap of faith to suggest that the new Heat forward is using that play to prepare for the Oct. 26 showdown at the Garden.

“Anybody would take that personally,” Evans said. “Getting kicked on a dunk, who wouldn’t take that personally? The thing about it is that Chris never said anything about it out of his own mouth, but Chris, with his competitive nature, I could see how he would be looking forward to playing him again.

“It’s just like Kobe Bryant losing to Boston in the Finals. He remembers that. That goes for any athlete, who has a competitive nature and genuinely loves the game. It will definitely be fun to watch.”

In 25 career games against the Celtics, Bosh is averaging 20.2 points per game. For more on the Celtics, see the team page at weei.com/celtics.

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For those trying to fix Shaquille O’Neal’s free throws, don’t bother 10.08.10 at 9:05 am ET
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New city. New team. Same routine.

Shaquille O’€™Neal has taken the third-most free throws of any player in the NBA (11,347), and trails only Wilt Chamberlain in the amount he has missed (5,974). But what he might lead the professional basketball-playing world in is something that no stat service will hand over ‘€“ advice.

Wherever O’€™Neal has gone he has been besieged by legions of well-meaning observers who swear they have the elixir to the big man’€™s free throw shooting woes.

For those people, Shaq has a message: Don’€™t bother.

‘€œI never take advice,’€ O’€™Neal told WEEI.com after Tuesday’€™s practice, saying he learned that lesson by his second season in the league.

‘€œActually taking advice made my numbers drop. Whatever you use to get you to where you are at you should never change.’€

Where O’€™Neal is at is an incredibly successful basketball player, which a prolific ability to miss free throws. He has the second-worst free throw shooting percentage in the history of the NBA (.527), with Chamberlain the only player to have shot worse (.511).

(Fear not, even if O’€™Neal duplicates his 112-for-226 performance of a season ago — .496 ‘€“ it will only knock him down to .526.

‘€œI could care less. How many years has he played? I’m not smarter than anybody else he’s had. He’s only had Riley, Phil Jackson,’€ said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. ‘€œI’m not going to try and do anything with him. The day we signed Shaq I got letters, people, everybody giving advice. If you can get a hold of him, have at it.’€

‘€œEverybody would come up to him. Even players wanted to show him how to do it,’€ said Celtics guard Delonte West, who played with O’€™Neal in Cleveland last season. ‘€œHe wants to do it his way. But you would be surprised, he’€™s been knocking them down in practice. We’€™ve been doing ‘€˜Hack-A-Shaq’€™ in practice and he’€™s been making us pay for it every time.’€

Unfortunately for the Celtics, the perceived improvement hasn’€™t translated into the games as of yet. O’€™Neal — whose 226 attempts last season were the fewest of his career — has taken five free throws in the Celts’€™ first two exhibition games and missed them all.

But while O’€™Neal isn’€™t keen on soaking in unsolicited advice, it doesn’€™t mean he isn’€™t going to take advantage the resources available to him.

What O’€™Neal can draw upon now is the expertise of one of the greatest free throw shooters of all-time, Ray Allen, who enters the season with the fifth-best percentage in the history of the game (.894). (For reference sake, Allen has missed 458 regular season free throws in his 14-season career. In the 2000-01 campaign alone, O’€™Neal misfired 473 times.)

‘€œI won’t say anything to him about his foul shooting unless he asks. He’s been around long enough. I feel like if he wants to get better, or if he feels like he’s at a point where he doesn’t realize what he’s doing he’ll come to me,’€ Allen explained.

If he says something like, ‘I don’t feel good about free throws’ I might step in and say, ‘This is what I see.’ He actually said something to me earlier and I just gave him some advice. But they have to come to me first. I’m not going to over-inundate them with advice or knowledge with what I know, because what works for me might now work for somebody else.’€

Camp Report: Doc Rivers won’t alternate centers in Celtics’ starting lineup 10.05.10 at 3:26 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Speaking after the Celtics‘ practice Tuesday, Doc Rivers said that he doesn’t plan on rotating Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal in the starting lineup depending on match-ups, instead going with one consistent starter until Kendrick Perkins returns from his knee injury.

“I doubt it. I don’t usually do that,” said Rivers when asked if he was going to alternate between two big men. “I usually just go with one, and that’s what we’ll do. I’m going to wait until the end of camp and the best big wins.”

Regarding if he feels it makes a big difference which of the two get the starting nod, Rivers said, “It doesn’t. I think it’s going to come down to who we feel is going to give us the best chance to get off to a good start.” The Celtics’ coach also noted that he doesn’t expect to play both Jermaine and Shaquille on the floor at the same time.

Jermaine is still out with a left hamstring injury, and won’t play in the Celtics’ preseason opener at the Verizon Center in Manchester, N.H. Wednesday night. Shaquille, on the other hand, will get some playing time, along with the other healthy Celts, including Delonte West, who had been battling a sore back. “If guys have anything, they’re not playing.

“I think Shaq is in phenomenal shape,” Rivers added. Asked if he had lost weight the coach said jokingly, “I have no idea. I’ll tell you who would know, the other bigs. Ask them.”

GO HARD OR GO HOME: The Celtics will conduct what Rivers classified as “hard” practice prior to heading up to Manchester Wednesday afternoon. “We’ll practice hard tomorrow, go right to the bus, and then to the arena,” the coach said. “Some of the guys are going to be tired.” Rivers said he uses the first couple of preseason games to “tell you what you should be looking at.”

“We’re just going to go hard, and if somebody falls, they’re going to fall,” Rivers also said in regard to balancing getting ready for the season and not incurring any more injuries. “They’re playing hard, they’re playing really well. We do need to see somebody else, I’ll tell you that. And we need to see the NBA officials. Other than that, I’m happy so far where we’re at.”

SEMIH-EXCITED: Rivers has been impressed with the play of Semih Erden’s play thus far, saying of the 24-year-old, 7-foot-1 center, “We’re going to need Semih, and I keep saying that. I don’t know when, but he’ll be the axe in the glass: In case you need you have to break it. That may happen a lot, and I think it will happen a lot. Semih knows how to play basketball. He doesn’t know our stuff yet, but that will come.”

When asked about Erden’s play, Shaquille’s initial response was, “Semih Crawford? Yes, she’s gorgeous.” The center then went on to praise his rookie counterpart.”

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: The biggest piece of the puzzle that the Celtics seem intent on working on in the coming days is their overall timing.

“It’s getting there. I’ve been on teams where you get it right away, and I’ve been on teams where you get it at the right time. We have to have everybody master in March and April ‘€¦ I’m not really concerned about being a perfect team right now,” Shaq said. “All the guys are unselfish. All the guys play hard. All the guys play smart. So we’re going to have our ups and downs, but that’s only going to make us stronger.”

When it was pointed out that he managed to make a few free throws down the stretch in the Celtics’ intra-squad scrimamge, O’Neal looked down at the reporter who asked if he was excited over making the buckets and said, “I don’t get pumped. I get pumped in June. I can’t wait to stick your face in some clam chowder.”

GETTING A VISIT: Attending practice was former Atlanta head coach Mike Woodson, Westford’s Jim Todd, who had been an assistant with Woodson with the Hawks, and Mike Jarvis.

Counting down with Flannery and the Celtics 09.14.10 at 10:49 pm ET
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In case you missed it, check out Paul Flannery’s list of the hottest topics that have come across the path of the Celtics this offseason. So far Paul has made it through six, with another four on the way. Here is what he has so far:

No. 10: The Kids Are Alright

No. 9: Tony Allen Leaves

No. 8: The New-Look Bench

No. 7: Perk’s Surgery and Sheed’s Departure

No. 6: Rondo Leaves Team USA

No. 5: Can Jermaine O’Neal Man The Middle

Report: Celtics eye Barbosa, Fernandez 07.04.10 at 9:08 am ET
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According to a report in The Boston Herald, the Celtics are looking at trades that could bring them either Phoenix’ Leandro Barbosa or Rudy Fernandez of Portland. The report states that the Celts would most likely use Rasheed Wallace‘s contract to secure Barbosa, a 27-year-old swingman who will make $7.1 million in 2010-11 after averaging 9.5 points in 17.9 minutes per game for the Suns last season. Fernandez is a 6-foot-6 shooter who averaged 8.1 minutes and 1.0 assists in 23.2 minutes for the Trail Blazers in ’09-10. He is due to make $1,246,680 in the coming season, and has a team option of $2,180,443 for ’11-12.

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