|For those trying to fix Shaquille O’Neal’s free throws, don’t bother||10.08.10 at 9:05 am ET|
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.
‘I never take advice,’ O’Neal told WEEI.com after Tuesday’s practice, saying he learned that lesson by his second season in the league.
‘Actually 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.
‘I 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. ‘I’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.’
‘Everybody 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. ‘He 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.)
‘I 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|
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|
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:
|Report: Celtics eye Barbosa, Fernandez||07.04.10 at 9:08 am ET|
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.
|Source: Celtics first to contact Lee||07.01.10 at 11:54 pm ET|
Jeff Goodman of WEEI.com and FoxSports.com has learned from a source familiar with the situation that Celtics general manager Danny Ainge was first to contact free agent forward David Lee once the NBA free agency began after midnight Wednesday night. The 6-foot-9 Lee, 27, played in all 81 regular season games for the New York Knicks last season, averaging 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. It was Lee’s best season, having averaged 13 points and 9.6 rebounds per contest throughout his five-year pro career. He has played in 81 games in each of the last three seasons. For more see the Celtics team page by going to weei.com/celtics.
|Five reasons the Celtics won Game 5||06.13.10 at 10:49 pm ET|
The Celtics are headed back to Los Angeles one win away from taking their 18th NBA championship, after beating the Lakers, 92-86, Sunday night at TD Garden. Here are five reasons that was made possible. (For a complete recap, click here.)
1. Limiting the Lakers’ top two options: Kobe Bryant might have gotten his points (38), but few were easy. Ray Allen was particularly effective against the LA star, staying on his shooting hand from the get-go, with Bryant going just 1-for-4 in the first quarter and 4-for-12 in the first half. Paul Gasol, who was checked by both Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins, couldn’t take advantage of the Celtics’ early willingness to let him shoot from the outside, going just 1-for-4 for the first half. Gasol did show a renewed aggressiveness in the second half, taking six shots in the third quarter. But at the end of the day, Gasol never established himself as the interior threat witnessed in the series’ first few games, finishing with just 12 points.
2. Paul Pierce: It was clear this was Pierce’s time to take top billing when it came to the Celtics’ offense, coming out of the shoot going 7-for-10 in the first half. He then continued in the third quarter, going 5-for-8 from the floor. With Ray Allen and Co. clearly deferring to Pierce, the Celtics captain never stopped displaying the kind of aggressiveness that he hadn’t offered at any point throughout the finals, finishing with 27 points. This was the Paul Pierce who carried the Celtics to their 2008 NBA championship.
3. The Celtics’ overall defense: As promising as it was that the Celtics had held the Lakers to just 33 percent shooting in the first half, the fact that they led by just six points heading into the intermission was cause for concern, especially considering the Celts had shot 65 percent. But the C’s defense never let up. And to cap it off, nobody on the Celtics was getting into foul trouble, with Allen becoming the first Celtic to pick up three fouls with just under eight minutes left in the game. Another sign of the Celtics’ resolve was their rejuvenation on the glass, with the C’s actually out-rebounding LA, 27-22, through three quarters. The Lakers finished shooting 40 percent from the floor, to the Celtics’ 55 percent.
4. Ability to control the paint: Remember the matchup problems the Celtics were supposed to continue to have on the interior? Many of them magically disappeared in Game 5. Leading the way was Kevin Garnett, who found his Fountain of Youth, going 5-for-6 from the floor through the first three quarters while grabbing nine boards and helping control Andrew Bynum (1 rebound) and Gasol during that time. Credit has to go out to Perkins, as well, with the center not only making both his shots from the floor while keeping the Lakers away from the glass, but also keeping his composure. At one point Perkins walked away from a rift with Gasol, holding his hands in the air while pointing to his head as a reminder that he wasn’t going to be coaxed into his seventh technical foul of the playoffs.
5. The point guards: Perhaps statistically, Game 2 was Rajon Rondo‘s best game, but Game 5 offered how far Rondo has come as a point guard. He consistently got the ball in the right hands (usually Pierce), while taking few bad shots (as his 8-for-11 showing from the floor would suggest). But it wasn’t only Rondo (18 points) who helped set the tone for the Celtics at the point, with Nate Robinson continuing to play with confidence, albeit not too much confidence. Robinson went 2-for-4 in his 10 minutes, only turning the ball over twice while coming away with a plus-1.
|Five reasons why the Celtics won||05.16.10 at 6:23 pm ET|
At first glance at the Celtics’ 92-88, Game 1 win over the Magic in the Eastern Conference finals, here are five reasons why the C’s were able to jump out to a 1-0 series lead:
They found their Garnett-Jamison matchup: While the Celtics rode Cleveland’s Antawn Jamison’s inability to guard Kevin Garnett in the last series, the C’s found a similar advantage in the matchup between Vince Carter and Paul Pierce. After having to deal with the physical defense of LeBron James in the series against the Cavs, Pierce clearly knew he was going to try to take advantage of Carter guarding him this time around, starting with a 3-pointer for the Celts’ first points of the game. Carter first tried to play off of Pierce, and then when the veteran guard got up on the C’s star it resulted in drives to the basket Carter couldn’t defend. Ray Allen also took advantage of his pairing with Matt Barnes/Mickael Pietrus, consistently staying aggressive in going to the hoop, especially in the first half.
They made Howard look human: Dwight Howard missed a total of five shots in the entire four-game series with the Hawks, yet missed four in the first half Sunday. Sure, it was an off game for the best center in the NBA, but the most important aspect of the performance was the ability of Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace to man-up on Howard without any help. When Howard did get one-on-one chances on the block he showed little to no ability to make any kind of post move that would make the C’s change their strategy. Orlando actually had much more luck with backup center Marcin Gortat in the game, a matchup that didn’t seem to favor Perkins. (Gortat finished as a plus-9, while Howard finished as a minus-8.)
The Celts were able to focus on Orlando’s 3-point game: The Magic went 0-for-9 from 3-point land in the first half, and it was no accident. With the Celts able to do what no other Magic playoff opponent has managed — defend Howard one-on-one — the Celtics could concentrate on extending their defense to the 3-point line. Orlando was able to free up some 3-point shooters in the second half, but because of it went away from staying aggressive going to the basket.
Rondo played point guard while Nelson played scorer: While it wasn’t Rajon Rondo’s best game, he certainly held his own against one of the key components of the Orlando offense, Jameer Nelson. Perhaps Rondo’s most important contribution was his ability to control the tempo at key times, pushing the ball back at the Magic each time it appeared as though a run by the hosts was on the horizon. Nelson, meanwhile, offered some value in the Magic’s half-court sets, but he wasn’t nearly the pace-setter his counterpart proved to be. Rondo was perhaps a bit too aggressive in the final few minutes — perhaps better served eating up some clock instead of driving — but it didn’t diminish his overall value.
The bench guys did exactly what was needed: Other than a seven-second appearance by Michael Finley, the Celtics subs consisted of Tony Allen, Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace. That was it. But for good reason. Each of the trio offered exactly what the Celts had hoped. Allen supplied athleticism on the wing, Davis gave the Celts some much-needed interior offense while guarding Howard on occasion, and Wallace simply injected his own brand of chaos. It was Wallace’s presence that proved perhaps most important, not only chipping in with 13 points (5-for-6 from the floor), but frustrating Howard with his own unique brand of defense.
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