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Irish Coffee: Celtics vs. Knicks tale of the tape 04.15.11 at 12:28 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Ah, the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The grass is greener, and Boston is Greener. The Celtics (56-26) and Knicks (42-40) are squaring off in the postseason for the first time since the former blew a two-game lead in a best-of-five series against the latter in 1990. Boston Garden vs. Madison Square Garden. Blue collar against big dollar. Hammer. Nail. You get the picture. Let’s go to the tape …

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Celtics 4, Knicks 0

107.8 … points … 101.3
9.8 … fast break points … 12.8
53.0 … points in the paint … 42.5
50.9FG% … 45.9
37.13P% … 33.6
79.5FT% … 75.8
45.3 … rebounds … 37.0
10.0 … o-rebounds … 9.8
35.3 … d-rebounds … 27.2
23.8 … assists … 21.3
8.3 … steals … 6.8
1.0 … blocks6.3
13.3 … turnovers … 14.0
21.0 … personal fouls19.3

That’s pretty lopsided, until you consider the Celtics and Knicks as currently constituted really only faced each other once. In fact, eight of the 24 guys that suited up for their first regular-season meeting are no longer playing for their respective teams. In that lone post-trades matchup — a 96-86 comeback Celtics victory — the C’s shot better, rebounded better, took care of the ball better and played better defense. They even dominated the paint (44-28) and the fast break (18-7).

Now, let’s examine how the Celtics and Knicks produced this season (league ranks in parentheses):

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Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA playoffs, New York Knicks, Shaquille O'Neal
NBA Power Rankings 4/15 04.14.11 at 7:30 pm ET
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1. Chicago (62-20): Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told ESPN.com Derrick Rose “will continue to get better throughout his career.” That’s a ridiculously scary thought, considering he’s a lock for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. But the real question remains, Can Rose capture NBA Finals MVP? Only five other guys under 6-foot-4 have captured that honor in NBA history: Tony Parker (2007), Chauncey Billups (’04), Isiah Thomas (’90), Joe Dumars (’89) and Jerry West (’69).

2. San Antonio (61-21): I’m not sure if Dr. Jack Ramsay prescribed himself some medical marijuana or what, but he picked Spurs guard Manu Ginobili as his MVP. I’d be surprised if Ginobili is named First Team All-NBA. Take nothing away from what the Spurs have accomplished, including a 2-1 record against the Lakers with Ginobili, Parker and Tim Duncan in the lineup.

3. LA Lakers (57-25): After losing five straight games, the Lakers got a bit of their swagger back. If you think about it, all signs point to the fact that they’re already in playoff form: They beat the Spurs in the penultimate game of the regular season, Phil Jackson is getting fined for his comments, Andrew Bynum‘s health is in question, Kobe Bryant is screaming homophobic slurs at referees and Lamar Odom wants to quit.

4. Miami (58-24): Just as Gloria James may not have thrown the first punch at a Florida valet, LeBron James & Co. didn’t deliver the first, second or third blow against the Celtics. But the Heat landed the biggest punch in the fight on Sunday, handing the Celtics their worst loss of the year during a game in which Mike Bibby actually played Rajon Rondo to a standstill.

5. Boston (56-26): Who holds the key to the Celtics’ figurative playoff switch? I’m guessing it’s not Danny Ainge. And they better hope it’s not Shaquille O’Neal. Is it Rondo? Kevin Garnett? Maybe it’s Paul Pierce, who told Mut & Merloni on Thursday, “I flipped the switch when I woke up this morning.” Whoever it is, Doc Rivers should remind him to keep it on Sunday.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA
Doc Rivers: Celtics are ready to ‘get back and finish the job’ at 1:03 pm ET
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There’s no more time for sitting starters and there’s no more optional practices. Doc Rivers knows full well that while it may not be time to slam the foot on the accelerator, now is the time to start stepping down with more force.

On Thursday, following a 112-102 glorified exhibition win over the Knicks, Rivers began prep for the first-round playoffs series with the Knicks with film work. The hard practices are expected on Friday and Saturday – with or without Shaquille O’Neal.

‘€œI feel good that our team will be ready; I feel really good about that,” Rivers said. “This has been far more difficult in that regard because of the trades, the injuries, the late-season seven-out-of-eleven games. It’€™s just been ‘€“ that’€™s been extremely difficult. We lost our rhythm; had no practice to get it back, and then we had injuries.

“So, it’€™s great playing on Sunday, let me just put it that way. We’€™ll be ready.’€

As for Delonte West (ankle) and Shaq (calf), Rivers said this weekend of practice will tell a lot.

‘€œWell Delonte will be [ready] for sure, from everything I hear,” Rivers said. “Shaquille, I’€™d like to see him yesterday. We’€™ll just wait and see.’€

Obviously, this has been the most injury-riddled season for Celtics big men – or bigs as Doc loves to call them. And it’s started from camp and carried right through. Say this much, the C’s and Rivers and his coaching staff have had plenty of time this season to get ready to win without them.

There was the rehabbing Kendrick Perkins in camp and early in the season. There was the conditioning of Jermaine O’Neal. There was the knee/hip/Achilles/calf of Shaq. And the brief injury scares to Glen Davis and Perkins’ replacement Nenad Krstic. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 NBA Playoffs, Amare Stoudemire, Boston Celtics, Delonte West
Irish Coffee: Harshing Celtics playoff buzz at 12:17 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

If you don’t want your Celtics playoff buzz harshed, you might want to avoid The Wall Street Journal this week. First, Scott Cacciola wrote a Tony Allen feature, entitled, “The Most Unlikely Impact Player.” Then, WSJ reported that should Shaquille O’Neal start on Sunday the Celtics will be the sixth-oldest NBA Playoff team since 1992, and among the 20 oldest playoff squads in that span only Michael Jordan‘s 1998 Bulls took home championship rings.  And then came this interview with TNT NBA analyst Steve Kerr:

“It seems to me that ever since the [Kendrick] Perkins trade, they’ve lost their soul,” Kerr said. “They’ve lost their identity and I think that team was really affected emotionally by that trade. And even though they played well early in the season without him when he was injured, I think knowing that Perkins would be back along with having Shaq playing pretty well at the time, I think that was a comforting time for them.

“Now that he’s gone, especially with the way that they’ve built that team the last couple of years and sustained their confidence through Doc [Rivers]’ comments that we’re undefeated when we’re fully healthy, the celebrated Ubuntu philosophy, it’s like they sort of threw that out the window and I don’t see the belief in their eyes right now. …

“I don’t think there’s anyone in the East that scares the daylights out of Boston. But with that said, they’re going to have to recapture the old glory, the old spirit somehow in the next couple of weeks and I haven’t seen anything to indicate that that’s going to happen,” Kerr said. “I was convinced that Boston was the best most of the season, but that’s kind of thrown out the window now for me.”

As if on cue, the trailer for the final episode of “The Association: Boston Celtics” dropped, and Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo opened up about the Perkins trade like never before:

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Read More: Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Rajon Rondo, Shaquille O'Neal
Glen Davis: ‘We’re going to fight’ with the Knicks at 12:13 am ET
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Glen Davis was all smiles after scoring 17 points in 27 minutes of Wednesday night’s season-ending laugher over the team they’ll be seeing in four days.

But when these two teams meet against Sunday night, Davis is fully aware of how much different the atmosphere will be.

“A brawl,” Davis said. “We’re going to fight, especially here [in Boston]. We’re going to go there. Knicks-Boston rivalry, it’s going to be crazy. This is the series to watch. They’re going to be watching our series.”

Davis also said that immediately following the 112-102 win Wednesday that gave the Celtics a 56-26 mark for the season, he sat at his locker and thought back to Game 7 of the NBA finals last June when the Celtics came within six minutes of an 18th NBA title before running out of gas against the Lakers.

“I’m excited man,” Davis said. “The regular season is over with. Now it’s time for the postseason. This is what it’s all about. I was just sitting here thinking, ‘Wow, Game 7 I felt like was just yesterday.’ Now, we’re back [in playoffs again. I’m starting my campaign for champagne, trying to get No. 18.”

In playing 40 minutes Monday and 27 minutes Wednesday, Davis said he is in playoff shape and ready to come off the bench and contribute during the playoff run.

“I feel good. I just feel good going into the playoffs,” Davis said. “Everybody is getting healthy. We’re going to have some hard practices and do what we have to do to get ready because I know New York is going to be ready.”

The Celtics playoff run of the last four seasons has coincided with the career of Glen Davis. And every year, Davis has raised his game significantly during the postseason. Davis and Rivers expect the same again this year. More to the point, they NEED Davis to raise his game this year.

“I’€™m not shooting the ball as much even though I am kind of open,” Davis said. “I’€™m making the second pass, getting some movement into the games. I’€™m trying to hold my picks, things like that.

“Just the fact that you are making your own footprint in history. People don’€™t see that, I see that a lot. Playing for a team like the Celtics and going out there to do something great. I’€™ll be sitting out, fat on a farm, turn on NBA TV and look at myself 30 years ago and be like ‘€˜Golly, that was exiting.’ I think that’€™s what it’€™s about. Here in Boston, you try and win more than one championship. You win one and it’€™s OK, you win two you’€™ll be a hero here. There’€™s something about the postseason that I love man. You’€™ve got to bring you’€™re a game. It’€™s time to bring you’€™re ‘A’ game.’€

Read More: 2011 NBA Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Glen Davis, NBA playoffs
Celtics-Knicks appointment viewing 04.13.11 at 10:15 pm ET
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The NBA announced the rest of the schedule for the Celtics-Knicks first round playoff series. Games 5, 6 and 7 are if necessary and some times are still to be determined (TBD).

Game 1: Sunday At Boston, 7 p.m. TNT

Game 2: Tuesday at Boston, 7 p.m. TNT

Game 3: Friday at New York, TBD ESPN

Game 4: Sunday at New York, 3:30 p.m. ABC

Game 5: Tuesday April 26 at Boston, TBD TBD

Game 6: Friday, April 29 at New York, TBD TBD

Game 7: Sunday, May 1 at Boston, TBD TBD

Here is the rest of the Eastern Conference schedule, as released by the NBA on Wednesday night:

Chicago vs. Indiana

Game 1 – Sat April 16 Indiana at Chicago 12:00PM 1:00PM
ESPN/ESPN3D
Game 2 – Mon April 18 Indiana at Chicago 8:30PM 9:30PM TNT
Game 3 – Thu April 21 Chicago at Indiana TBD TBD NBA TV
Game 4 – Sat April 23 Chicago at Indiana TBD TBD TNT
Game 5 * Tue April 26 Indiana at Chicago TBD TBD TBD
Game 6 * Thu April 28 Chicago at Indiana TBD TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sat April 30 Indiana at Chicago TBD TBD TNT
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Read More: 2011 NBA Playoffs, Boston Celtics, NBA, NBA playoff schedule
Irish Coffee: Mr. Big Talk (a.k.a. Chauncey Billups) at 10:41 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

The New York papers have already rolled out their NBA playoff coverage of the Knicks’ first-round series against the Celtics, and while nobody has pulled an Antonio Cromartie and claimed they hate Kevin Garnett, the confidence in New York is oddly high for a team that has an 0-3 record against its Atlantic Division rival.

Maybe it’s because they believe the Celtics coaching staff preferred a first-round matchup against the 76ers, as a New York Post source indicated.

Maybe it’s because Bobcats coach Paul Silas — a two-time NBA champion with the Celtics in the 1970s — told the New York Daily News, “It’s not just that [the Celtics] don’t have the defense or the rebounding at the center position that they once did, which could be a very difficult problem for them. But I wonder about the mindset of their guys. They thought they should have kept [Kendrick] Perkins. They still believe that. I’m not sure that they have the right mindset now to deal with that. As players, you’ve got to let that go.”

Wherever the confidence stems from, it’s there. Just listen to Chauncey Billups:

“We are probably, most certainly, the most dangerous first-round team in the NBA. When I say that it’s because we are new, and we are dangerous. We’ve got a lot of weapons. We can move the scoreboard. I think our defense is a lot better. We’re going to be a tough out, man.”

That confidence is tempered a bit by their president and their coach (via the New York Post):

  • Knicks president Donnie Walsh: “We’re two of the longest-tenured franchises, but those rivalries are engendered by the teams playing right now. There was one rivalry way back. But the rivalry will have to come in the playoffs. For us, we have to beat them. We have to beat them once to be considered that.”
  • Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni: “They’re veterans and they’re champions. That’s the biggest concern. Their mentality is probably better than anybody’s.”

And then there’s two former Celtics — one in New York and one with the Bulls — sound more confident in the third-seeded Celtics than the No. 6 Knicks:

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Danny Ainge, Kevin Garnett
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