|Irish Coffee: The Celtics Vengeance Factor||11.30.10 at 11:48 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
I love vengeance movies. Good (“Kill Bill”) or bad (“The Punisher”). I’ll watch it. And I’ll love it.
So, in the wake of last week’s Celtics victory over the Raptors and in the face of Tuesday night’s rematch against the Cavaliers, I got to thinking: How good are the post-Kevin Garnett-trade C’s at exacting revenge?
Examining the Celtics’ record over the last three-plus seasons in rematches against opponents following a regular-season loss in their previous meeting, it’s clear these C’s are pretty damn good at vengeance — like Charles Bronson in “Death Wish” good — especially against sub-.500 teams.
After losing to the Raptors by one on Nov. 21 this season, the Celtics handled Toronto during a nine-point victory in their rematch five days later. It marked their first shot at vengeance of the 2010-11 regular season.
Since the start of the 2007-08 season, the Celtics have a record of 26-11 in rematches following a loss against that team in their previous meeting. Their average margin of victory in those 26 wins was 10.3 points.
Against sub-.500 teams during that same span, the C’s are now 9-0 in vengeance opportunities. Tuesday, the Celtics have another shot, as they face a 7-9 Cavaliers club that beat them 95-87 in Game 2 of the season.
The Celtics are favored by seven points in Tuesday night’s game. I’m just saying.
A CAVS TRAP GAME?
There’s no question that Thursday’s Cavaliers game against the Heat means more to Cleveland than Tuesday night’s rematch against the Celtics. And rightfully so, considering LeBron James‘ return to the town he dissed in his “Decision.”
But the Cavs are trying to avoid looking past the C’s, because — based on their comments to the Akron Beacon Journal — they expect the vengeance factor.
”We really took advantage of them playing the night before,” [Cavaliers guard Mo] Williams said of the first meeting against the Celtics. ”We ran, we ran, we ran. It was a new-look team at the time that didn’t know what to expect. I expect to see a better, more prepared Boston tomorrow.”
If the Cavs’ game plan against the Celtics was a secret before, it isn’t any longer.
”One of the reasons we were successful the first time is we got up and down the floor and put Shaq in a lot of pick and rolls,” [Cavaliers coach Byron] Scott said. ”That won’t change. We’ll still try to do that. If we do that like we did the last time, our guards will get wide open shots. We just have to keep it spread as much as possible and get the ball moving side to side.”
Well, then. I guess the Celtics don’t need to videotape any Cavaliers practices.
Oh, and speaking of LeBron’s return to Cleveland, if you haven’t already, read Adrian Wojnarowski‘s piece on James’ egotistical behavior. It’s probably the best insight into the Akron product you’ll read — including gems like these …
[Dwyane] Wade was one of the Team USA players who’d watch incredulously as James would throw a bowl of fries back at a renowned chef and bark, ‘They’re cold!’ Or throw his sweaty practice jersey across the court and command a team administrator to go pick it up. Everyone wants James to grow out of it, but he’s never showed much of an inclination for self-examination and improvement. And he’s never surrounded himself with people who’d push him to do so.
The fundamental problem for [Heat head coach Erik] Spoelstra isn’t that James doesn’t respect coaches — he doesn’t respect people. Give LeBron this, though: He’s learned to live one way with the television light on, and another with it off. He treats everyone like a servant, because that’s what the system taught him as a teenage prodigy. To James, the coach isn’t there to mold him into the team dynamic. He’s there to serve him.
I’m not sure why I do this to myself, but I’ve been following the 24-part series of profiles about the Lakers bloggers on the Los Angeles Times website.
Here’s what I’ve learned (in vast generalizations): Somehow, they’re all Lakers fans, yet none of them came from Los Angeles. Take one blogger’s story about how he became a Lakers fan as an example:
Born and raised in NYC, I didn’t really start watching much basketball until I found myself living in Cambridge, Mass., coming out of college and rooming and living with a crazy Celtics fan during the ‘85-‘86 season. I got one look at Magic Johnson and the Showtime Lakers, and I was instantly hooked. I eventually found myself living and working in L.A. early in my film/TV career in ‘87, ‘88 and some of ‘89 where my love for the Lakers was truly forged. I have been following the team religiously ever since.
They all hate, hate, hate the Celtics, which I’m sure fuels their objectivity:
Opposing team, player you dislike the most: The Celtics and all things green. Paul Pierce and the ‘wheelchair’ incident will always cause me to gag. More recently, however, Lebron and his now infamous ‘I’m going to take my talents to South Beach…’ episode have trumped the hatred I have for the Celtics. I’ve never disliked a team more than I do this Heat team at the moment — I hate the Celtics, but I loathe the Heat.
Ladies and gentlemen, your L.A. Times basketball bloggers!
Sports Illustrated named Drew Brees its Sportsman of the Year. Back in 1968, Bill Russell became the first NBA player to capture the honor. Here’s what the former Celtics player-coach told SI about winning the award:
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|Irish Coffee: Delonte West discusses Kevin Durant||11.18.10 at 11:23 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
One day, Delonte West is the talk of the town, returning to a Celtics uniform three years after being traded and 10 additional games after being suspended. The next day? He’s just another member of a championship contender.
And that’s the way he likes it.
“Now you guys can go back to bothering them and leaving me alone,” West told reporters after Wednesday night’s 114-83 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Now, he’s left to do his thing, which Wednesday night was knocking down 5-of-7 shots for 12 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists, one steal and a block — a little bit of everything.
“Once I left here, in my journey in the league, I’ve matured as a player,” added West. “I’ve come into my own a little bit. I’m just really scratching my potential, as far as playmaking. Right now, I’m embracing my role as a bench player. I don’t want to say Sixth Man. You have a team like this, the whole bench is the Sixth Man.
“I know what I can do. I know I can play at a high level, so it helps the team when I can come off the bench and bring that high level of play out there.”
With his Celtics debut behind him, West can answer the day-to-day questions, like what he thinks of Kevin Durant, his former teammate on the Seattle SuperSonics.
“Y’all seen him,” West told WEEI.com. “I watched him grow up in D.C. He by far scores the easiest [in the NBA]. You watched him in college. I watched him on the playgrounds in D.C. On the outside, he could shoot the ball from anywhere. He’s so smooth with it.
“We’re from the same area. We keep track of each other. I got a chance to play with him a little bit in Seattle, give him some pointers and root him on. The sky’s the limit for the guy.”
West and Durant both grew up in Maryland, outside of Washington D.C. On Friday night, they’ll be reunited when the Celtics host Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder. And West knows from experience — defending Durant is no easy task.
“You’ve got to give him a little bit of everything [defensively],” said West. “Put a hand in his face and hope he misses. Guys like that, there’s really no defense for him. He’s either going to make it or he’s going to miss. That’s the kind of player he is. Once he steps across half-court, he’s dangerous.”
As West proved on Wednesday night, he can be dangerous on the court, too.
THE OBLIGATORY SHAQ UPDATE
A 2010-11 Celtics victory just wouldn’t be the same without a postgame interview with Shaquille O’Neal. Heres’ a few highlights:
- On Delonte West: “He’s a great player. He played well. I had the opportunity to play with him last year. Great player and a great guy. He can be a sparkplug sometimes. You guys think he’s crazy, but he’s not. Not at all. I can handle him. We always have conversations about the game. He’s very smart. He’s just misunderstood sometimes.” (Mike Petraglia has more.)
- On the C’s interior dominance: “I’m going to have the advantage on every center that we play. … It’s paying off very nicely. Once we get Jermaine [O’Neal]and Kendrick [Perkins] back, it’s going to be really, really nice – really, really difficult for teams to match up.”
- On his chemistry with Rondo: “Rondo’s a great passer. He gets me the ball. I do what I’ve been doing for 18 years. … It’s not really something you need to work on with him. He’s just a great player. He reads the court very well. … Two great players just working together. He passes it to me, and I put it in the basket.”
- On Rondo’s alley-oop to Kevin Garnett: “[Garnett] understands how the defense is playing, and he actually orchestrated that play. He said, ‘This dude’s overplaying me; this dude’s disrespecting me.’ He’s great like that.”
- On what he told Semih Erden: “I told him to be mean out there, be aggressive. Semih’s a nice guy. … I told him to go out and play and dominate.”
REACTIONS FROM D.C.
As you can imagine, Wednesday night’s 31-point blowout by the Celtics against the John Wall-less Wizards didn’t sit well with anybody on Washington’s side …
- Head coach Flip Saunders (courtesy of the Washington Post): “It was like men playing against boys. I told our guys, they just reached right into our chest and tore our heart out, and just took away our will.”
- Gilbert Arenas: “This is one of them games, where you’re on the playground and you beat somebody up – and the real bully comes and beats you up. They are built for a championship. We’re rebuilding. Until we feel we’re on that level, we have a long way to go. The two championship-caliber teams that we’ve played, we got blown out.”
- Nick Young: “They’re an all-star team. … Obviously, they know how to win.”
WHITE HOUSE HONORS BILL RUSSELL
The White House announced that Bill Russell is one of 15 people who will receive the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom, “the nation’s highest civilian honor.”
“Bill Russell is the former Boston Celtics‘ captain who almost single-handedly redefined the game of basketball. Russell led the Celtics to a virtually unparalleled string of 11 championships in 13 years and was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player five times. The first African American to coach in the NBA — indeed he was the first to coach a major sport at the professional level in the United States — Russell is also an impassioned advocate of human rights. He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and has been a consistent advocate of equality.”
Russell will be the first former NBA player to receive the honor, and based on his contributions to civil rights alone — regardless of the fact that he’s the greatest winner in the history of sports — there’s no question he deserves it. The only question is, right now, could Russell still beat President Obama 1-on-1? I say definitely.
MORE RONDO FOR MVP DISCUSSION
The Sporting News is the latest publication to consider Rondo a contender for the 2010-11 NBA MVP honor. The most interesting tidbit to come from their take is the fact that Garnett believes Rondo can keep up his current rate of 14.9 assists per game — which would eclipse John Stockton‘s NBA record of 14.5 set in 1989-90.
“Why not?” Garnett said. “Who says that he can’t? Let’s see. It’s all about the flow. It’s all about guys hitting shots. He’s in a real good groove. He knows when to attack. He’s picking and choosing when to do certain things. He’s mixing it up really well. He’s keeping defenses off balance. Who says he can’t?”
Well, if the Celtics keep shooting 65 percent from the floor as they did Wednesday night against the Wizards, there’s no reason he can’t.
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|Shaq on D&C: ‘I would have played for free’ in Boston||09.28.10 at 8:49 am ET|
In an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show, new Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal, who has made no less than $10 million in his last 14 NBA seasons and at least $20 million in his last nine campaigns, said that he had no problem taking a pay cut in excess of 90 percent in order to come to the Celtics. O’Neal signed a two-year deal for approximately $3 million this summer, and he suggested that money was virtually irrelevant in making his decision to join Boston.
“I had other options where the money would have been greater. But this franchise, this team, has a tradition of winning,” O’Neal said. “I’ve been one of the luckiest guys in the history of the game. I’ve had four max deals and one lifetime of play. So money wasn’t an issue. Money will never be an issue. But Danny Ainge had $1 million left, which was the minimum. If I had to, to come here and play, I would have played for free. Doesn’t matter to me.”
O’Neal ‘ who said that he wanted to be called The Big Shamrock while with the Celtics — also discussed whether he will be able to “blend in” in Boston both on and off the court, his bucket list, his experience of last year’s Celtics-Cavaliers playoff series from Cleveland’s perspective and his feelings on Dwight Howard and LeBron James, among several other topics.
A transcript is below. To listen to the complete interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
This is Shaquille O’Neal. Don’t mess with Dennis & Callahan, weekdays from 6-10 on the WEEI Sports Radio Network.
Skip the boring basketball questions. Is Boston big enough for your personality?
I always tell people that I was raised Karate Kid style. My father took me many places as a youngster. I started off in Northern New Jersey, born and raised. Went down south to Hinesville, Ga., then to West Germany, then to San Antonio, Tex. I say that to say that I can blend in anywhere.
You probably can’t blend in.
I can blend in. If people are looking for me in Boston, I’ll be in Sudbury. If you’re looking for the Big Shamrock, he’ll be in Sudbury, in the fields of Sudbury.
You’ve settled on the Big Shamrock?
Yes. The Big Shamrock. Yes.
|Celtics: Irish Coffee||09.27.10 at 7:33 am ET|
It’s time again for your morning cup of Irish coffee. Following the referees’ annual meeting late last week, the NBA announced new guidelines for technical foul calls. Guyism explained all four new guidelines with some comical Rasheed Wallace footage, of course. The guidelines are as follows …
- “Players making aggressive gestures, such as air punches, anywhere on the court”
- “Excessive inquiries about a call, even in a civilized tone”
- “Running directly at an official to complain about a call”
- “Players who use body language to question or demonstrate displeasure”
These stricter rules could spell trouble for the Celtics, even without Rasheed. Kendrick Perkins (16), Kevin Garnett (6), Paul Pierce (5) and Rajon Rondo (4) all finished in the top 50 for technical fouls last season. Based on the above descriptions, Perk might be eligible for a technical foul roughly every time he hears a whistle. Heck, he might even get a handful of techs before he comes back from the knee injury.
The Reclamation of Delonte West
Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie has an interesting take on Delonte West‘s return to the Celtics. He believes this C’s team could be just what the doctor ordered for West, who has suffered from mental issues throughout his career.
“So even with the nonguaranteed contract, you would hope that the Celtics are in it for the long haul, and not for some guy to take a chance on because Tony Allen followed the money to Memphis,” writes Dwyer. “Because this really could be the first season of the rest of Delonte’s life, in 2010-11, as their supportive environment and steady work could be the best possible thing for West as he tries to move forward.”
NBADL Rule Change
The NBA and NBA Development League have reached a deal that allows as many as three players cut from an NBA roster to be assigned to their D-League affiliate. So, the Celtics could potentially store training camp invitees Chris Johnson, Stephane Lasme and Jamar Smith in Maine with the Red Claws (Did Jackie Moon play for them?). I’m sure all four Red Claws fans are drooling at the opportunity to watch Stephane Lasme all winter. Tickets must be flying off the shelves.
Perfect Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce spoke to the media on Saturday following a fitness rally for his charities, The Truth on Health and FitClub34. After a “perfect” summer, he’s excited to chase another title.
“I’ve been in the gym for the last couple of weeks and I’ve probably seen everybody,” Pierce told the Herald. “I’ve been comparing this to the last couple of years. It’s like a new energy with Shaq, Jermaine. You can just kind of feel it around the practice facility–just the energy, the vibe of the guys in the locker room–that we left something behind last year and that’s the trophy.”
Shhhhhh! You’ll wake Bill Russell!
I’m not exactly sure why I found this so funny, but I did. Hats off to GrahamSpector.tumblr.com for that.
|Rivers embraces Celtics history||05.21.10 at 4:15 pm ET|
WALTHAM — History and tradition are wonderful, but there are times when the burden can be too great. Times when the ones who built that legacy feel the need to defend it, and in so doing, wind up taking shots at the current structure. Take the Chicago Bears who are getting criticism from Gale Sayers, among others.
The Celtics are one of the most unique franchises in all of sports, and their past is always playing with the present.
Take Paul Pierce’s epic Game 7 showdown with LeBron James in the 2008 playoffs. The immediate comparison, of course, was to Larry Bird in 1988 against Dominique Wilkins and the Hawks. It’s hard to create your own path when everything has already been done before your time.
But the Celtics embrace their history, and it helps that their alumni embrace it too; as history.
“Our guys are the best,” Doc Rivers said. “That’s the biggest thing that I tell people all the time. From afar you think, man you see all these ex-players around, are they still trying to hold on to their little piece? I don’t know about other organizations, actually I do, but this one is different. Our guys so much want you to do well because you’re a Celtic and they don’t worry about their legacy because they have championships too. I think it’s amazing. The best I’ve ever seen. [John] Havlicek, [Bill] Russell, all of them. When they come around all they tell you is that they want you and how to win.”
The video montage that runs before Celtics games features ex-Celtic greats from Red to Larry to Russ all speaking about their time in Boston as players and what it meant to them to be a Celtics. It’s a subtle reminder, although perhaps not that subtle, of the expectations.
“We brainwash [them] a little bit too and we do it on purpose,” Rivers said. “We show a lot of film of those guys. Larry Bird, some of the things he said, all the stuff about playing in Boston. The history of their voice, for [coaching purposes], is far better than the history of their play.”
|Doc: ‘I think No. 6 should be retired’||11.13.09 at 7:57 pm ET|
One thing NOT on his mind is whether the No. 23 should be retired throughout the NBA, as suggested by superstar LeBron James.
“I don’t know if there’s a right answer on that,” Rivers said. “Something I’ve been asked far more than I’d like to be asked, going into a game. He said he was going to wear No. 6. That number should be retired. I don’t know what the right answer to that question is. I think it’s good either way.”
James offered to give up his No. 23 and wear his Olympic No. 6 instead. Then, Rivers had some fun with reporters pregame Friday.
“You know who No. 6 is, right?” Rivers said, referring to Bill Russell.
|Russell joins NBA greats for charity||06.30.09 at 12:04 am ET|
On Saturday night former Boston Celtics Bill Russell and Cedric Maxwell joined a group of the NBA’s finest at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods in support of Alonzo Mourning’s charitable foundation. The event was presented by Jerry Powers and the Alonzo Mourning Charities.
The lineup of NBA standouts also included James Worthy, Moses Malone, Dwyane Wade, and Chauncey Billups. Former Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant was also in attendance. The event was emceed by Comcast SportsNet’s Gary Tanguay.
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