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Why Doc Rivers is the ‘perfect coach’ for C’s 09.27.10 at 11:53 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Celtics head coach Doc Rivers believes he enters the season with the most talented group he’s ever coached, with more depth than the 2008 team that won the NBA title.

“You could make the case the 2008 team had more talent because they were younger. Kevin [Garnett] was at the peak of his health at that point so that has changed just a little bit. We’re hoping that all the guys on the bench are as good as their names. We don’t know that, either.”

One thing Rivers does know is the “O’Neal Brothers” – as he labeled the unrelated Shaquille and Jermaine on Monday – gives the Celtics as much in size as name recognition and the two will fight for the starting center’s job while Kendrick Perkins rehabs his right knee.”

Rivers has Delonte West on the bench. He has Nate Robinson on the bench. He Marquis Daniels on the bench. No team north of Miami can bring the depth to the court that the Celtics will bring this season.

“But I like the group as far as talent,” Rivers added. “A lot of the guys we’ve added, they’ve won. They’ve done a lot of winning if they haven’t been the winner [of the NBA title] and they are tough. A lot of them are tough guys, and I think that is good for our team.”

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said Monday he believes Rivers is the “perfect coach” for the veteran group of superstars he’s assembled to make another run at the franchise’s 18th NBA title. Rivers, Ainge and the rest of the Celtics spoke at Media Day about how ready and primed this group is to make it back to the promised land.

“Yeah, we’ll see about that, that’s for sure,” Rivers laughed when told what Ainge said. “We have a lot of personalities, there’s no doubt about that, probably more than we’ve ever had. Having said that, I also think this is the most talented group we’ve had, as far as deep, on the bench.”

The Celtics are trying to get back to the NBA Finals again next June for the third time in four seasons and avenge their Game 7 loss last June to the Lakers. The Celtics lead the Lakers 17 titles to 16.

Rivers went back with his coaching staff in August and made them all watch just how close they were to No. 18.

“I don’t think you ever get over it,” Rivers said. “I made my staff watch it. We watched it together about a month ago. So, I don’t think you ever get over it. Whenever I see anything [involving Game 7], they always show the damn celebration and all that. That’s not anything I want to watch. Hell, I’m not over Game 7 Celtics-Atlanta Hawks [1987], so I’m certainly not going to be over this.

“It does in some ways. It wants you to get it started again so you can get back there. So yeah, in that way it does. But other than that, you have to move forward. It has to push you a little bit. There’s no doubt.”

One thing Rivers did take from watching again was just how big a role the third-quarter injury to Paul Pierce played in the final devastating outcome.

“It’s easier to watch it the second time,” Rivers said. “It’s still emotional, it always will be. You watch it and you looked at all the opportunities you did have in that in that game. You saw some things you didn’t see. I didn’t realize the Paul injury was bigger, that little injury, was bigger than I thought it was during the game.

“I think [Celtics' lead] was 12 when he went out. It was only a three-minute period, but when he came back in it was four or six and that was the game. That was in the third quarter and I thought that was the turning point in the game. Nothing in the fourth quarter was different than what I saw. It was more the third quarter I thought changed the game.

In the wake of Game 7 in the locker room, Rivers also admitted Monday that he thought that was it for this group together under his direction.

“Yeah, because I wasn’t sure of what I was going to do at that time,” he said. “I knew Rasheed [Wallace] wasn’t coming back, he told me that before the game. I was, at that time, leaning heavily toward not coming back. Yeah, in the locker room I actually thought that was going to be the last time, at that point, that I would see all these guys together.

“And even if I did come back, I knew it wouldn’t be the same team. I knew we were going to have to make changes. I knew at that time, and no one else knew, the extent of Perk’s injury so I knew he wouldn’t be back until late in next year.”

But he does get another chance to prove – as Pierce believes – that he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA.

Just how many games can this group win this regular season?

“How many games we play, 82? Ok,” Rivers laughed.

Rivers would be just happy with 16 in the playoffs when it matters most.

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Meaner and leaner Shaq ready to do battle at 11:04 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Shaquille O’Neal is a superstar who loves to talk about having 735 days left in his NBA career. He wants those days to include two more NBA titles, giving him six, which would mean he would have one more than Kobe Bryant.

But as O’Neal reminded everyone on Monday at Celtics media, this isn’t about him and Kobe, it’s about leaving the game on top.

The newest superstar member of the Celtics has given up his mom’s hamburgers, fried chicken, mac and cheese and cornbread muffins and is ripped and ready to go for his 18th season in the NBA, starting with Celtics media day on Monday.

O’Neal said he has been playing pickup games with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce at the Celtics facility and swimming to get in shape.

The Shaq-Kobe war of words was re-ignited Monday when he recalled the words of Bryant in the moments after the Lakers beat the Celtics for their 17th title and his fifth. ‘That’s one more than Shaq.’

O’Neal had his response on Monday. It had less to do with Kobe and more to do with San Antonio’s Tim Duncan.

“Yeah I heard it,” O’Neal said. “My whole career I’ve been the measuring stick. Glad to see I’m still relevant. I would’ve been more upset, more hurt, if Tim Duncan would’ve made the comment. I don’t compete with guards. They have the ball more than I do, they shoot way more than I do. You can’t compete with guard. I’m only competing w/Tim Duncan so hopefully I can get No. 5 before Tim Duncan, respectfully before Tim Duncan.”

Duncan and O’Neal each have four NBA championship rings while Bryant and Derek Fisher lead active players with five.

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Report: Smith ‘blessed’ by Celtics training camp invite 09.18.10 at 5:09 pm ET
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Jamar Smith considers himself “blessed beyond belief” to be invited to the Celtics training camp, he told the Evansville Courier & Press. Smith, a shooting guard, shared his excitement about getting the call to come to Boston:

“I’ve been working out like crazy,” said the former University of Southern Indiana star and Division II Player of the Year.

By “crazy,” he means several hours per day on the University of Illinois campus in Champaign, sometimes with members of the Illini basketball team and coach Bruce Weber, who originally signed Smith.

Now Smith has a chance to fulfill a dream. But sometimes that chance seems to be a dream.

“When my agent told me (about the Celtics’ invitation), I was, ‘Are you serious?’ ” said Smith. “Now I’m in the gym two or three times a day. My dad called me and asked, ‘Are you working hard?’ When I said I was, he said, ‘Well, you have to work harder.’ “

Smith averaged 21.6 points per game last season at USI.

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Shaq calls out Cavs, Mo Williams 09.04.10 at 5:07 pm ET
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There was a time when being a role player would not have sat well with Shaquille O’Neal. That time has passed.

In a recent interview with the Times-Picayune, O’Neal explained that he now looks forward to playing for an unselfish ball club, even if it means less time on the court.

“I’m at the point in my life where I can’t carry a team by myself anymore, but I can be a piece on a team that’s already good,” he said. “The Celtics are good with or without me. A lot of people say, ‘How can I be a complementary player?’ But at 38, it’s easy. If I was 28, it would be a problem, Doc.”

O’Neal called out his most recent team, the Cavaliers, for their approach on offense. He singled out one former teammate in particular.

“I like that they (the Celtics) play together and nobody really worries about shots,” O’Neal said. “When I was with Cleveland, guys who couldn’t even play were worried about shots. Why was Mo (Williams) taking 15 shots, and I’m only taking four? If LeBron takes 20 shots, that’s cool.

“So I said, let me get with a good team for the last two years. I don’t mind people calling me a journeyman. I’ve been programmed to move around every three years.”

O’Neal averaged a career-low 8.7 shots per game last season. LeBron James led the Cavs with 20.1 field goal attempts. In contrast, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 12.1 attempts each.

O’Neal also added that he had been interested in the Hawks and Hornets before signing with the Celtics.

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Pierce talks Pacquiao, ‘greatest athlete to ever live’ 08.17.10 at 12:11 am ET
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When Paul Pierce isn’t battling on the court, he enjoys watching battles in the ring. Elie Seckbach from AOL FanHouse recently caught up with the boxing fan, who says Manny Pacquiao is the “best pound-for-pound boxer in the world” and shares who he considers to be “the greatest athlete to ever live.” (Watch to the end to get former Celtic/Laker Rick Fox’s take on Shaq in green.)

Click here for more on the Celtics special relationship with Pacquiao.

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Shaq takes on crime and Boston accents 08.07.10 at 4:41 pm ET
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Shaquille O’Neal recently sat down with Vanity Fair Magazine to discuss the second season of his television show, Shaq Vs., and talked about fighting crime, Boston accents and staying focused on next season with the Celtics.

Read a few excerpts below or click here for the entire interview:

What happens if one of your kids comes home from school and says, “Aw pop, I had some chowda today that was wicked awesome?”

That’s when they get grounded.

What do you say when you’re roughing up a perp? “On the floor, dirtbag!” “Book ‘em, Danno!” That kind of thing.

Well, uh. (Long pause.) My job is to be a little girl.

Come again?

I play a little girl on the Internet. So whatever name I’m going by, that will probably be my catchphrase. If I’m Tanya, then it’ll be something like, “Tanya says hello.” And they’ll be like, “Tanya who?” And I’ll say, “You don’t know no Tanya, huh? I’m Tanya. Let’s go.” And that’s when the cuffs get slapped on you.

Are you going to do any undercover police work in Boston?

No, probably not. This is going to be my last year in the NBA, so I really want to concentrate and be focused.

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Look back: Shaq, Celtics teammates before 08.04.10 at 11:45 pm ET
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When Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal suit up for the Celtics next season, there will be some familiarity with their new teammates on the court. Both played with Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the 2004 and 2005 NBA All-Star Games.

In 2004, Pierce (Celtics) and Jermaine O’Neal (Pacers) represented the East while Garnett (Timberwolves), Allen (SuperSonics), and Shaquille O’Neal (Lakers) played for the West. Shaq (24 points, 11 rebounds) took home MVP honors as the West won, 136-132, in Los Angeles.

The following year, Shaquille O’Neal changed conferences and joined Pierce and Jermaine O’Neal on the East team as a member of the Heat. Garnett and Allen played for the West. Allen led all players with 17 points and Jermaine O’Neal tied MVP Allen Iverson with 15 for the East. The East won, 125-115, in Denver.

Check out the video of Garnett and Shaq from the 2004 All-Star Game:

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