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NBA Power Rankings, 2/3 02.03.11 at 6:14 pm ET
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The Celtics haven’t claimed the top spot in our NBA Power Rankings since Jan. 6, but as Paul Flannery wrote following the C’s 109-96 victory against the Lakers on Sunday, “The Celtics’ performance proved that as of this moment they are the team to beat in the NBA. On their best day, and this may have been it, no one can even come close to matching them.”

There are four other legitimate contenders for the 2011 NBA title — the Spurs, Bulls, Heat and Lakers — and the Celtics have beaten all of them, recording six wins in seven games against those teams. That’s kinda good.

The C’s have now defeated 23 of the 29 other teams in the league. The only two teams they haven’t faced yet are the Clippers and Warriors. They’ve lost their only games against the Mavericks, Suns, Rockets and Hornets so far, but they get their respective shots at revenge on Friday, March 2, March 18 and March 19.

In short, pretty much everybody has praised the Celtics as one of, if not THE best in the league. Kevin Garnett might be one of the most disliked opponents in the league, but the C’s are getting their share of respect. That’s why we’ve decided to highlight the best quotes about the Celtics from opposing coaches and players in this week’s edition of the Power Rankings. Without further ado, here goes …

1. Boston (37-11): I don’t care that the Celtics have lost to the Wizards, Pistons, Raptors and Cavaliers. I don’t care that they scored only 71 points against the Suns. Four of those losses occurred on the road after playing the previous night, and the other came at 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. When the Celtics are motivated, they’ve been almost unbeatable. Just ask the Spurs, Lakers and Heat.

2. San Antonio (40-8): Spurs coach Gregg Popovich after losing to the Celtics on Jan. 5, 105-103: “It’s just frustrating that we’re a definite, significant notch below the big boys — of course, Boston being one of the big boys — come playoff time if this continues. You know, Boston is third in field-goal percentage ‘D,’ and first in defensive rebounding. Those are the kind of stats we used to have defensively to do what you need to do to be the last team standing.” (via Sporting News)

3. Chicago (34-14): Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau after losing to the Celtics in overtime on Nov. 5, 110-105: “They’€™ve got a lot of weapons, they’€™re experienced, they know how to work the game and they’re hard to guard. I think the thing that often gets overlooked with them is not only their individual greatness but their collective greatness and willingness to share with each other. ‘€¦ It puts enormous pressure on your defense. Your defense can’€™t get set, and that’€™s something we’€™re striving for.”

4. Miami (34-14): Heat forward LeBron James on Wednesday: “We’re way behind [the Celtics]. Just look at the number of games played, the number of playoff series those guys have had. We’re only a few months in together — 40-something-plus games. I’ve seen the statistics. Boston has like 250-plus games played together. We’re way behind those teams.” (via ESPN.com)

5. LA Lakers (34-15): Lakers coach Phil Jackson: “I personally don’t think [the Heat] can get by Boston. I think Boston is too good a team. I think a team is still going to win.” (via ESPN.com)

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, power rankings
Doc Rivers keeping it real on Delonte West and his quick progress on a broken wrist at 4:20 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Delonte West took another significant step in his attempt to return from a broken right wrist when he went through a full shootaround and skeleton practice with the Celtics on Thursday at their practice facility.

“He didn’t practice,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He just did the shootaround and the shooting and that’s about it.”

But Rivers acknowledged it was significant that West could take part in catch-and-shooting drills without any protection whatsoever on his wrist, broken on Nov. 24 in home game vs. New Jersey.

“That’s nice. He did run through all of our skeleton stuff so obviously, the next step will be him going through a practice,” said Rivers before adding that there is still no specific timetable for West to return to game action. “I have no idea. No time soon I don’t think but I’m not sure.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Delonte West, Doc Rivers, NBA
Doc Rivers makes his case for 4 Celtics as All-Stars at 4:04 pm ET
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WALTHAM — After getting snubbed by the fans and being left without a single All-Star starter, the Celtics could get their retribution when All-Star reserves are announced Thursday night.

The Celtics have four viable candidates in Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. By virtue of having the top record in the Eastern Conference, Doc Rivers will have the honor of coaching the East All-Stars on Feb. 20 in Los Angeles.

“I think I should get four guys on the roster,” Rivers said following practice Thursday. “If I don’t, I’d be very disappointed and if I do, I’ll just play them all together. That way we can run offense in the All-Star Game. That’d be a first.”

The Detroit Pistons had four All-Stars on the Eastern squad in 2006 but it is very rare for one team – no matter how good their record – to place four players on a team.

“If it happens, and let’s hope it happens, then my choice will be who will be the fifth, Some interesting combinations you can throw out,” said Rivers, before adding who he might throw out onto the court with his four players.

“Whoever is closest to free agency just so they can see how it would feel. I think it should happen. It’s clear. It’d be nice. You look at the four guys, all of them have really sacrificed their individual numbers for team wins and sometimes that’s held against them and I hope it’s not in this case.”

Read More: All Star reserves, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Irish Coffee: Shaquille O’Neal talks Hoopz at 12:31 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦  

  

During the filming of “Flavor of Love” on VH1, Nikki “Hoopz” Alexander dominated Flavor Flav in a game of one-on-one. Then she owned some dude named “Entertainer” with a flurry of profanities on “I Love Money” — another VH1 reality show.  

But she’d probably have a tougher time defeating her current boyfriend, Shaquille O’Neal.  

Sudbury’s most famous couple went two-on-one in an interview with The Globe’s Meredith Goldstein for a Home & Lifestyle section cover story. Here’s what we learned:  

  • Hoopz, 28, on Shaq, 38: ‘€œI knew he was a goofball. We’€™re the same. We’€™re both goofballs.’€™’€™
  • Shaq is 7-foot-1; Hoopz is 5-foot-2. A full Nelson de la Rosa separates them.
  • Hoopz is filming another reality show, based on their suburban life and her desire to become a women’s heath and self-defense guru. Like I won’t watch that.
  • Shaq has a pit bull named Shamrock. Do you think the dog has a Kobe Bryant chew toy?
  • Ther’s a room in Shaq’s house that features Taylor Swift and “Alice in Wonderland” posters on the wall and candy canisters everwhere. Oh, and there’s a pink bathroom, too. Thankfully, that room is Hoopz’s. Shaq calls it the “dungeon.”
  • Hoopz won “Flavor of Love” Season 1, capturing Flavor Flav’s “on-camera affection” and the ultimate prize: a set of gold teeth. I think I just found my Valentine’s Day gift.
  • Hoopz then took home $250,000 for winning ‘€œI Love Money,’€™’€™ a crazy reality show spinoff about the craziest VH1 reality show castoffs that could only happen in America.
  • Hoopz once followed another basketball player,  James “Boo” Jackson, to Tennessee. A gym gypsy of sorts, Jackson left town for another team. Hoopz stayed behind.
  • Hoopz and Shaq’s first date was in Las Vegas. Luckily, it didn’t end up at The Best Little Chapel — a la Stu and Jade in “The Hangover.”
  • The next few dates between Hoopz took Shaq included fishing, visiting a Waffle House and listening to music by Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift. You know, typical Shaq things.
  • Shaq on Hoopz: ‘€œShe’€™s my first female best friend, besides my mother.’€™’€™
  • Shaq has a live-in chef. Unfortunately, it’s not Chef from “South Park.”
  • Hoopz and Shaq watch “Spartacus” on Starz together. Loin cloths optional.
  • Hoopz attends every Celtics home game. Shaq attends most, too.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Nikki "Hoopz" Alexander
Irish Coffee: Time to start Kendrick Perkins 02.02.11 at 12:57 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

It’s time for Kendrick Perkins to start.

Despite Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge‘s claim on WEEI’s Big Show last week that he doesn’t think it matters who starts between Shaquille O’Neal and Perkins, the man who hasn’t lost a playoff series starting alongside Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo has proven within five games that he deserves his spot back.

In Perkins’ first three games since returning from ACL surgery this past offseason, the Celtics were better off with either O’Neal or Semih Erden starting the first and third quarters. The numbers back it up. The C’s outscored their opponents by a total of three points to start each half before Perkins entered the game against the Cavaliers, Blazers and Suns. They were subsequently outscored by a total of 11 points with Perkins on the floor in those three games.

However, in the last two games — victories over the Lakers and Kings — the C’s have outscored their opponents by 22 from the moment Perkins entered the game in the first and third quarters to the time somebody substituted for him. That’s nine points better than they were in those two contests with O’Neal on the floor to start each half.

In his first five games this season, Perkins’ minutes have steadily risen to the mid-20s, culminating in a near double-double against the Kings. His performance Tuesday night marked the first game he vastly outperformed the C’s starting center.

Take a look at Perkins’ progression upon entering each half since his return compared to the Celtics’ starting center that night (each player’s plus/minus statistics are in parentheses):

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Read More: Bill Walton, Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Magic Johnson
Irish Coffee: Avery Bradley’s stock rising 02.01.11 at 11:34 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Avery Bradley‘s move to Maine has been the best thing for both him and the Celtics.

The C’s first-round selection in the 2010 NBA draft, Bradley took his talents to Portland when the team sent him to the NBA Development League, and he’s beginning to prove himself as one of the (minor) league’s best.

The 20-year-old is flourishing in the NBADL, gaining valuable experience. But the value of his performance might be even greater for the Celtics. Because there’s no urgency to force a young kid into the rotation, the C’s — if necessary — can either call on a kid who two years ago was ranked higher than John Wall as a high school player or shop him with all the leverage in a trade discussion.

Either way, it’s a win-win — another great pick by president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. Bradley is a valuable member of this Celtics team, even if he’s not playing for them. Look at his averages while playing just 30 minutes a night in seven games (4 starts) for the Maine Red Claws:

  • Points: 15.3
  • Assists: 5.0
  • Rebounds: 3.9
  • Steals: 0.4
  • Blocks: 0.4
  • Turnovers: 4.3
  • FG percentage: 39.8
  • 3-point FG percentage: 36.4
  • FT percentage: 83.3

Sure, his turnovers and field-goal percentage could use some improvement, but his offensive production has been better than expected, considering his defensive ability has always been his greatest strength. Here’s how ESPNU described his game when they ranked him as the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2009:

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Paul Pierce
Irish Coffee: Interpreting Celtics vs. Lakers 01.31.11 at 1:07 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Considering all the stars on and off the court — for both teams — at Sunday’s game between the Celtics and Lakers, you would’ve thought there’d have been some great Twitter messages in the aftermath of the C’s 109-96 victory at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. There wasn’t, so I made them up anyway. Here’s my interpretation of what the players and celebrity fans should’ve Tweeted throughout the finals rematch:

  • Matt Damon: “The Celtics are showing ‘True Grit’. The Lakers are playing like True …”
  • Jimmy Kimmel: “I’m feeling Matt Damon.”
  • Ron Artest: “Is this my second season with the Lakers? Time to check out.”
  • Phil Jackson: “I’m going to kill Ron Art– (deep breath) Serenity now!!!”
  • Kobe Bryant: “The ring I bought my wife and Artest’s contract cost the same. And I’m sorry for both.”
  • Robert Rodriguez: “Black Mamba seems like a strange nickname for a guy who was once arrested for sexual assault, but let’s go with it Kobe!”
  • Derek Fisher: “A cheerleader blew me a kiss, and I thought I got shot. I flopped like 10 feet backwards!”
  • Zac Efron: “Who’s worse at acting: Me or Fisher?”
  • Paul Pierce: “The only way I could’ve made this win better is to get the wheelchair involved.”
  • Adam Sandler: “KG told a ballboy he had a better chance of catching Bin Laden than getting an autograph? Was it Bobby Boucher? ‘Stop making fun of me!’”
  • Kevin Garnett: “It wasn’t a good week for me and things that hold balls. Just ask Channing Frye.”
  • George Lopez: “Wait, why aren’t I rooting for the Nuggets? They have Eduardo Najera!”
  • Glen Davis: “Coach told me to treat Odom and Andrew Bynum like a bowl of gumbo. Eat ‘em up. Ayo!”
  • Lamar Odom: “I’m not sure whose badonkadonk is bigger: Big Baby’s or Khloe Kardashian‘s.”
  • John Lackey: “Who’s better looking: Me or Semih Erden?”
  • Brooklyn Decker: “I love basketball. How many touchdowns does Kobe have? Oh, and who’s better looking: Me or John Lackey’s wife?”
  • Joey Crawford: “Wait, Kendrick Perkins is back? (whistle) Technical foul, No. 43.”
  • Kendrick Perkins: “Two technicals in two nights. I’m in midseason form!”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, Paul Pierce
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