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Danny Ainge ‘not particularly thrilled’ with Knicks matchup 04.25.13 at 5:52 pm ET
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Danny Ainge

Danny Ainge

During his weekly Thursday appearance with Salk & Holley, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge stopped short of saying he thought his C’s are the better team in their first-round NBA playoff series against the Knicks.

“We don’t think that we’ve played like we are capable of playing,” said Ainge. “It’s one thing to lose to a team who deserves to beat you and is a better team, but I feel like we’ve come out ready to play and I have no idea why the beginning of the third quarter in the last two games has not been good.”

Asked to clarify his comments, Ainge showered praise on the Knicks, who lead the series 2-0 and have held the Celtics to 48 combined second-half points.

“They’re very good. I have a great deal of respect for the Knicks, and Carmelo [Anthony] is a great player — maybe the toughest matchup in the entire league,” he said. “He’s right there in the same category as difficult a matchup as the Lebron [James]es and the Kevin Durants and the Kobe Bryants. He’s one of those types of players that can score against certain defense. So, no, I’m not particularly thrilled with the matchup.”

Still, Ainge placed the blame on his players. The Celtics simply haven’t lived up to their ability.

“We just need to play with more mental and physical toughness,” he said. “This isn’t the team I’ve seen play all year. The first halves have been, but not the second half. I wish I had an explanation, but we just need to be tougher, instigating the physical play. I think that they are getting into us, and we’re not responding. I’d like to see us instigate and initiate contact and be aggressive and not let their pressure affect us as much as it has.”

And the blame doesn’t rest with just one or two Celtics. They’ve pretty much all been been underwhelming.

“It’s everybody,” said Ainge. “It’s gotta be everybody. Avery [Bradley] embodies toughness. Paul Pierce is toughness to us, and Jeff Green — when he’s playing the way that we need him to play — he’s asserting himself and tough. And we know how tough Jason Terry is. And right on down the line. It takes everybody. Brandon Bass. It takes every one of the guys. We don’t have a team where we can rely on one or two guys. We have to get good performances out of the whole team.”

Everybody? Everybody.

“We’ve got to have contributions from the whole team,” he added. “You can’t do it with one or two guys like New York has done. We don’t have that kind of scoring power. We don’t have the league’s leading scorer on our team right now, so we have to get contributions out of a lot of people.”

Got it? Good. Now here are the remaining highlights of Ainge’s interview, which can be heard in full on the Salk & Holley audio on demand page:

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Kevin Garnett
Avery Bradley not with Celtics to start practice, Kevin Garnett ‘confident’ for Game 3 at 12:48 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Starting guard Avery Bradley was not with the team at the start of practice as he arrived at the facility at 12:15, approximately 15 minutes after the start of practice. There was no immediate word from the team as for the reason.

The team confirmed that Bradley did participate later in practice.

Kevin Garnett was with the team to start practice at the Celtics training facility but Doc Rivers said he would not participate in the full practice as a precaution against his hip injury from Game 2. Garnett said he’s confident and ready and will play in Game 3 Friday night.

“We’re a confident group,” Garnett said when asked if he’s physically ready for Game 3, a phrase he repeated when asked specifically about his health.

“I didn’t ask [medical staff],” Rivers said. “That’s my rule, I try not to ask. Because they may give you the answer you don’t want to hear,” Rivers joked about Garnett’s status. “Right now, we’re planning on him practicing. I’m not going to let him go through the entire practice, even if he’s feeling good. I know a hip pointer, all you need is someone to bang into you or something. I don’t even know if it’s that, so we’re going to be careful.”

This is just the latest in a string of injuries for Garnett, who appeared to be tugging at his right hip in the second half of Tuesday’s Game 2 loss in New York. Garnett was sidelined for all but three of the team’s final 13 games, including eight straight due to left ankle inflammation. He’s also battled a left adductor strain that forced him to miss two games prior to that.

Rivers said he was initially concerned it was a stomach or oblique issue. Trainer Ed Lacerte assured him it wasn’t.

“I asked him two or three times if he could keep going, because at the time, I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was the stomach and when you see someone grabbing there you immediately think stomach muscle, which is the worst,” Rivers said. “That’s why in our era, we didn’t do sit-ups, so we could never hurt that muscle, but that was my fear, and that’s a bad injury. And it wasn’t that. So after Eddie told me it wasn’t that, I was good.”

Friday marks the first home game for the Celtics in 16 days and the first since the Boston Marathon bombings.

“I’m looking forward to [Friday], being home, back in Beantown. Very much so,” Garnett said. “We haven’t been home since all the current events and everything. So, yes, we’re anticipating it being very emotional, very inspiring, and we’re looking forward to coming out and trying to get this Game 3.”

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA
Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce back at practice, Avery Bradley (collarbone) sits 04.06.13 at 12:29 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett

Just over 12 hours after a humbling loss to the Cavaliers at the Garden, the Celtics got a boost at practice in Waltham when Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce returned from separate foot injuries.

Garnett has missed the last eight games due to inflammation from bone spurs in his left ankle. The Celtics have gone 3-5 in his absence as they look to lock up the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and avoid the Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

“I’ve never come into postseason 100 percent, so it’s nothing new,” Garnett told reporters. “But I do want a rhythm. I don’t want to go into the postseason and have no rhythm. I want to be healthy. That’s my first priority.”

Garnett said when and how much he plays in the final six games will be decided after a discussion that includes himself, coach Doc Rivers and medical staff.

“I’m going to practice today and Doc and I will have a conversation and make some decisions for the future.”

Avery Bradley, however, did not take part, as he was still nursing soreness from taking an elbow to his left collarbone from Kyrie Irving in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game.

Rivers told reporters before Saturday’s practice that he anticipates Bradley would be available for Sunday’s game against Washington but would not predict anything further, adding, “you just never know.”

Pierce missed Friday’s game due to soreness and swelling in his right ankle, which first cropped up in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s loss to the Knicks in New York, when he was spotted with a wrap on the ankle.

Pierce missed Monday’s game in Minnesota due to the birth of his first son, Prince Paul Pierce before returning on Wednesday in a win over Detroit. Pierce was held out of Friday’s game by Rivers on the advice of trainer Ed Lacerte.

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Ed Lacerte
Avery Bradley: ‘Just my collarbone… I’ll be fine’ 04.05.13 at 11:19 pm ET
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It was a bruising night for Avery Bradley in a Celtics loss to Cleveland. (AP)

It was a bruising night for Avery Bradley in a Celtics loss to Cleveland. (AP)

With just over three minutes left in Friday’s ugly loss to the Cavaliers at TD Garden, things appeared to be getting a whole lot uglier for the Celtics.

Avery Bradley left the court with trainer Ed Lacerte holding his left shoulder.

Bradley had surgery on both shoulders last summer, delaying his return to the Celtics until January this season.

But as it turned out, Bradley was examined and returned to the bench late in the fourth quarter. Doc Rivers said he could’ve returned if absolutely necessary.

So, what was it that caused many Celtics fans to skip a heart beat?

He was elbowed in the collarbone by Kyrie Irving.

“I think he’s fine,” Rivers said. “I think it was more the hit. I was concerned when he grabbed his shoulder that it was his shoulder, and Kyrie informed me that he shot him with an elbow; it had nothing to do with the shoulder. So, I told Kyrie, ‘Thank you for the update.’”

Bradley admitted after the game that he was sore but it’s nothing to be concerned about.

“It hurts, but I’ll be fine,” Bradley said. “I get injured all the time, I’ll be alright.”

Most importantly, he confirmed that it wasn’t his shoulder.

“No, not at all,” Bradley said. “Just my collarbone. He came, went to the basket, came down, and elbowed me right on my collarbone. It’s just a little swelling.”

“No, when that happens you just have got to keep playing.”

Was Bradley aware he gave Celtics fans a scare?

“Yeah, I know, me too,” Bradley said. “But I’m fine.”

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Kyrie Irving, NBA
Doc Rivers: ‘I just want us to play the right way. Overall, I think we did that’ 04.01.13 at 11:10 pm ET
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Doc Rivers was not downtrodden after Monday's loss in Minnesota. (AP)

Doc Rivers was not downtrodden after Monday’s loss in Minnesota. (AP)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers put a silver lining on a 110-100 road loss to the Timberwolves Monday night at the Target Center. It was a game in which Rivers did not have four of his projected five starters, as Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jared Sullinger were out.

The latest addition was Pierce, who was not with the team Monday due to personal reasons. Rivers said before the game he expects Pierce to be ready to go on Wednesday at home against Detroit.

Still, Rivers thought his undermanned team played hard and handled adversity the right way, starting with a lineup of Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox.

“I go into every game thinking we’re going to win the game,” Rivers said afterward. “We had our chances tonight. But I get it, too. I just want us to play the right way and do things our way. I think overall we did that.”

The Celtics trailed for most of the game and never got closer than eight points in the fourth quarter against a Minnesota team that had 26 wins coming in and had lost to Boston 11 straight times dating back to Feb. 11, 2007, before Garnett arrived in Boston.

The Timberwolves took full advantage as 6-foot-11 Nikola Pekovic scored 29 points, including 15 in the first quarter and 21 in the first half.

“I thought we played pretty hard,” Rivers said. “We had no one to deal with that big monster they had down there. I was kidding with Longo [defensive coach Mike Longabardi], we held him to about eight points in the second half after he had 21 in the first [half].

“I thought our guys did everything I wanted them to do. One of the things I told them was that seven out of the last nine games, we’ve given up 100 points. We’ve proven we can score. We scored 100 tonight even without 50 points of our offense [in Garnett, Pierce and Rondo]. We’ll be able to score but, especially with all the new guys, learning the little things on our defense, there’s a we need a lot of work with them, and it showed tonight.”

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Inside job: Nikola Pekovic, Dante Cunningham dominate as T’Wolves finally beat Celtics at 10:21 pm ET
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Nikola Pekovic overpowered Brandon Bass and the undermanned Celtics Monday night in Minnesota. (AP)

Nikola Pekovic overpowered Brandon Bass and the undermanned Celtics Monday night in Minnesota. (AP)

Another road game. Another undermanned Celtics team. And another road loss.

The Celtics, playing without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, were overpowered by Nikola Pekovic, Dante Cunningham and the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 110-100 loss at the Target Center Monday night. Pekovic took advantage of an undersized front court with a game-high 29 points while Cunningham added 19 points and five rebounds off the bench for Minnesota, which beat Boston for the first time in 12 meeting dating back to the pre-Garnett era in Boston.

The defenseless Celtics (38-36) fell for the second straight night and dropped their seventh in nine games. With Milwaukee beating Charlotte, the seventh-place Celtics are just 1.5 games ahead of the Bucks (one game in loss column) for eight-place. If Boston, which has eight games left, finishes eighth, they will face Miami in the first round.

What Monday’s game lacked in star power it made up for in offense from unexpected places.

The Celtics were without Garnett (left foot) and Pierce (personal reasons) while the Timberwolves were still without U.S. Olympic champion Kevin Love (broken hand).

The Timberwolves (27-46) turned to Pekovic and he responded with a huge opening quarter. The 27-year-old native of Montenegro scored 15 points as Minnesota dominated the paint and took a 27-25 lead after 12 minutes.

Since acquiring Garnett – the most accomplished player in Timberwolves history – after the 2006-07 season, the Celtics were 10-0 against Minnesota. Overall, the Celtics had won 11 straight against Minnesota dating back to Boston’s last loss, 109-107, on Feb. 11, 2007 in Minnesota.

Adding to Boston’s misery on the inside, big men Shav Randolph and Chris Wilcox each picked up three personal fouls. Courtney Lee’s three with 3:15 left in the second quarter tied the game, 45-45. But the Timberwolves came back with the next four points before Avery Bradley connected on a jumper as the game kept a quick tempo leading up to halftime. Bradley’s hit 6-of-8 in the first half and single-handedly kept Boston within range with 15 first half points. Bradley led the Celtics with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting.

Boston was manhandled in the paint in the first half. Pekovic scored 21 points in the first half, part of an effort that had Minnesota outscoring getting outscored 34-18 and allowing Minnesota to grab a 57-52 halftime lead.

The Timberwolves went on a 10-4 run midway thought the third to open their biggest lead, 80-66, before Jason Terry responded with a long two-point jumper. Terrence Williams followed that up with a baseline three to cut Minnesota’s lead down to nine, 80-71, with just over three minutes left in the third.

Randolph picked up his fifth foul seconds later but stayed in the game to give the Celtics some size in the paint. As the Celtics were making a run late in the third quarter, Jeff Green came up limping, holding his left hip. Green, who played the entire first half and the first six minutes of the third quarter before finally coming out for a breather, took a knee from Pekovic to the left thigh/hip area. Green stayed in the game and was part of a 12-4 run that cut Minnesota’s lead to six, 84-78, heading into the fourth. Green finished with just 10 points in 38 minutes.

With the Celtics defense forcing a near turnover, Derrick Williams hit a three to open the fourth quarter and push Minnesota’s lead back to nine.

Lee came in for Green with just over 10 minutes left as Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte tended to Green’s left hip. The T-Wolves went on a 7-0 run midway through the fourth that was capped by an Alexey Shved three with 7:45 left to put Minnesota up, 96-82. The Celtics could get no closer than eight the rest of the way.

The Celtics are off Tuesday before hosting the Pistons on Wednesday night at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Dante Cunningham, Kevin Garnett
The Celtics love them some Shavlik Randolph 03.30.13 at 2:12 am ET
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When security opened the Celtics locker room after Friday’s 118-107 win over the Hawks, reporters rushed to Shavlik Randolph‘s locker, but the PR staff announced he had already left. The Duke product generally makes postgame small talk for a bit with anybody willing to listen, so his absence came as a surprise to some.

For the C’s, though, it should be refreshing. On the best night of his NBA career, Randolph ducked the media scrum, dodged questions that would have made his China-to-Boston journey the headline in Saturday’s papers and generally just avoided becoming the focus on a night when veteran teammates Paul Pierce (20-10-10 triple-double), Jeff Green (game-high 27 points) and Jason Terry (24 points on 10 shots) all performed better.

In other words, Randolph knows his role. That or he wanted to watch his alma mater’s Sweet 16 date with Michigan St. Either way, his new teammates welcomed the opportunity to heap praise upon the journeyman.

“He understands who he is,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, “and he does it.”

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jason Terry
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