|Inside the Game: Shelden Williams and the Art of Rebounding||01.05.10 at 10:41 pm ET|
For a player whose career had been filled with uncertainties, one thing was for sure about Shelden Williams.
‘Shelden has proven he can defend and rebound,’ President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge said at Williams’ introductory press conference this summer.
The Celtics were drawn to those defensive skills when they signed him during the offseason. They were looking to add another big man to their bench and believed he had the potential to help their team down low.
His rebounding contributions are even more critical now that Kevin Garnett is sidelined. Although he is not the first man off the bench, Williams tries to make an impression on the boards whenever he can.
Before he began his NBA career, Williams had made his mark on Duke University. In fact, he had made it on backboards around the NCAA.
He graduated from Duke in 2006 as the school’s all-time leader in rebounds and blocked shots. Williams pulled down 1,262 boards over his four-year career and averaged 9.1 boards per game, including 11.2 as a junior. He became the third player in NCAA history to score 1,500 points, nab 1,000 rebounds, block 350 shots, and pick off 150 steals, while earning consecutive Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Williams was selected by the Hawks with the fifth pick in the 2006 Draft. That season he led all rookies in double-doubles and ranked third on his team in rebounds. Even as his playing time decreased and he was eventually traded (he was sent from the Hawks to the Kings to the Timberwolves over the course of two seasons), Williams stayed focused on attacking the boards.
Now on the Celtics, he has accepted the team’s defensive mentality. He is currently averaging 3.5 boards in 13.5 minutes and has recorded 8-, 9-, and 10-rebound games. Even though Williams has only played a total of 377 minutes (9th on team), he has recorded 99 rebounds (7th). He has also grabbed 33 offensive boards (4th), more than Rasheed Wallace and just seven shy of Garnett in 500 less minutes.
As part of WEEI.com’s ‘Inside the Game’ series with the Celtics, Williams explained the art of attacking the glass.
Learning at a Young Age: As a teenager, Williams led Midwest City High School (OK) to the Oklahoma Class 6A State Championship.
‘I was taught that very early on. My dad always told me about the importance of rebounding and playing defense. Those are two things that are will. If you want to do it, you have a will to do it. Those two things were taught to me at an early age and just kind of stuck.’
His American Idol: The soft-spoken Williams admired one of the most colorful athletes to ever play the game of basketball.
‘During my time period coming up, it was Dennis Rodman. He was always going after every single rebound whether he’d be over the top or not. I think that watching him be relentless, I learned from that.’
Leaving a Legacy: During his record-setting career at Duke, Williams grabbed a personal-best 19 rebounds against Virginia Tech in 2005.
‘[My record] is very important. My shot blocking and my rebounding record will be there for a while so I scratched my name on the stone, so to speak. My whole career that I was there, no one had averaged a double-double and that’s something I set out to do. I was able to accomplish it in my junior and senior year.’
There’s a Thought Process: In order to be successful, Williams educates himself on his opponents before they take the shot so he can put himself in the best position once the ball is in the air.
‘[When you go in for the rebound] depends on where the shot’s been taken from. You kind of play percentages. If the ball’s on the other end of the court and I’m on the opposite block, more often than not it’s going to come off the opposite of that block. Also you’ve got to take into account the guy who’s shooting it. Has he been missing his shot? Does he tend to be short a lot of the time? Whatever the case may be, you try to think about that as well.’
Offensive vs. Defensive: This season the Celtics have been outperformed on the offensive glass. Williams says there is a difference on both ends of the court.
‘Defensive rebounding, more often than not for a big, you’re already down there. Most cases you play around the block, closer to the basket. Whereas for offensive rebounding, if you’re setting a pick out there on the wing, you’ve got to run into there. Like I said, there’s a big difference because most time on defense you’re already in the paint … Any time the ball goes up I try to attack the glass. More often than not, not everybody’s attacking the glass all the time, so I try to make myself available, especially on the offensive end, to I keep the ball alive.’
Make the Extra Effort: At 6-9, Williams still works hard to make sure he has the edge over his opponents at the basket. On this particular day of the interview, he was the last player to leave the court after practice.
‘[I] just try to rebound as much as I can. I try to make the concerted effort.’
|Garnett’s rest not part of master plan||01.01.10 at 6:24 pm ET|
WALTHAM — When Kevin Garnett returned from knee surgery this season, there was a question as to how many games he would play. He hadn’t played a full 82 games since the 2004-5 season and had not played more than 71 as a Celtic.
Surely Doc Rivers would want to give his big man rest, but when and how long?
Even though now Garnett is out ‘indefinitely,’ according to Rivers, with a hyperxtended right knee which he suffered this week, the Celtics coach says this period of rest was not part of a master plan to preserve minutes.
‘No, no, this is because of a freak accident,’ Rivers said after practice on Friday. ‘Kevin is as frustrated as anybody that he hyperextended his knee on a play that happened twice in two different games, which is literally impossible…Both times he was jumping off you’re feet and someone kicks you and kicks the back of your leg, for that to happen once is almost impossible. For that to happen twice is just bad luck. And it just did. He’s laughing like how can that happen twice? I said, well it happened in this game and in that game. That’s how.’
Rivers said rest is imperative for this kind of injury, regardless of who the player is. But given Garnett’s history with injuries, the team has to be extra cautious.
‘It’s not a serious injury but if you don’t take care of it, especially in Kevin’s case, he’ll compensate, and then he would injure himself,’ he said. ‘So I’m not taking that chance.’
|Christmas may come late for Giddens||at 6:09 pm ET|
WALTHAM — J.R. Giddens sported a pair of red and green Nikes during practice. It was appropriate for the second-year player who is expected to receive a belated Christmas gift on Saturday.
“That’d be a Christmas present and a Happy New Year,” Giddens said with an uncontrollable smile following practice on Friday.
While Rivers only hinted that one of the younger C’s (Giddens, Lester Hudson, and Bill Walker) would play and Giddens spoke hypothetically, Kendrick Perkins said he expects to see him in the starting lineup. Giddens is preparing himself by coming back to the Celtics training facility to get in some extra shots and cardio until he feels comfortable with his offense and ball handling.
Playing time period is a big deal for Giddens. The 2008 first round draft pick has played a total of 61 minutes in just 15 games this season and looked forward to any opportunities, let alone the chance to start.
But things were different when Giddens showed up for practice on Friday. Rivers called him, Hudson, and Walker into his office to discuss the importance of their roles in the midst of the injuries. Then he worked out with the first unit.
Giddens seemed at a loss for words at points when he talked about the possibility of starting. But after pausing a moment of reflect on his journey since Draft Night, he was filled with emotions.
“Being a first round draft pick and then not getting the chance to play is very humbling,” he said. “Now that I have that opportunity, I know I’m so fortunate and I feel so blessed to get it. I think this made me appreciate ball a lot more and playing. I always say when I played basketball when I was living, you know when I got reps, it would be just like living again, getting out there.”
|Davis: “I’m functioning”||at 5:33 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Glen Davis turned 24 years old on Friday. He felt it, too.
“I feel old,” he said after practice. “Old, old, old.”
He had a reason to feel that way. The banged up big man, who broke his right thumb in October, sprained his right ankle this week. But with a depleted lineup (Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, and Paul Pierce will not play on Saturday), Davis is needed on the court.
“We need some help. You know? We need as many bodies as we can,” he said. “So as long as I’m functioning, I can play with the pain. If I can function, I can play. It’s how it is.”
Davis participated in a two-hour practice on Friday. He is expected to play against the Raptors unless his ankle swells up overnight, said Rivers.
Davis’ thumb is still sore and will receive extra tape on his ankle. He said once he begins playing, though, he becomes too busy to focus on the injuries and forgets about the pain. Whether or not he should be playing becomes inconsequential to him.
“No, I want to play. It doesn’t matter. As long as I can function, I’ll play. I’m good enough to do something out there,” he said. “That’s the beauty about my game. I’m not a high jumper. If I was a high jumper, I’d be kind of concerned because that’s the only thing I can do. But my game is staying on the ground, getting position. It kind of takes away from my jumpshot a little bit, but I’ll make it work.”
As long as Davis feels like he can play, it doesn’t matter how old he feels.
“I’m functioning,” he said. “I can play. I can play hard. I can compete. “
|KG, Rondo, Pierce out against Raptors||at 5:14 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Kevin Garnett (knee), Paul Pierce (knee), and Rajon Rondo (hamstring) will not play on Saturday against the Raptors, Doc Rivers said following practice on Friday. Here is the injury rundown:
- Rondo: Rivers decided to sideline Rondo after reviewing film from Wednesday’s loss to the Suns. He thought Rondo looked better live than he actually did on tape. Rondo emerged after practice wearing practice gear and sandals. He received treatment at the Celtics training facility.
- Pierce: Pierce also received treatment at the C’s facility. Rivers did not have any new information to offer on his return — “Maybe Miami, maybe later.”
- Garnett: KG was not present at the Celtics facility during practice. His timetable for return is still indefinite. “I don’t think it’s a long indefinite thing, but it is indefinite because you don’t know the date of return,” said Rivers. “It’s not going to be that long. But when I did this, I looked at the schedule and I looked at the days off and I thought this was the time to do it.”
Marquis Daniels (thumb) is also out.
As for those who will be on the court, Glen Davis (ankle) is expected to play unless his ankle swells up overnight, said Rivers. J.R. Giddens is expected to get his first NBA start, according to Kendrick Perkins, in the midst of the injuries.
|Celtics Community Roundup||at 3:27 pm ET|
The Celtics wrapped up 2009 by spending some extra time in the Boston community. See a few examples of how they ended the year with their fans:
- The Celtics brought cheer to patients from the Boston Medical Center’s Pediatric Hematology Program at Dick’s Last Resort. The C’s posed for pictures and signed autographs for the children, who also received a visit from Santa.
- Rajon Rondo and Glen Davis participated in a Stay in School assembly to honor high-acheiving students at the Thomas Edison Middle School in Brighton. They encouraged students to stay in school by using the acronym PRIDE (perseverance, respect, integrity, decisions, and education). Presented by Arbella Insurance, the Stay in School program is a collaboration of efforts from the Celtics, New England Sports Museum, Northeastern University Center for the Study of Sport in Society, and Boston Public Schools.
- As part of the Read to Acheive program, presented by Kia Motors, Davis, Paul Pierce, and J.R. Giddens read and played board games with children from the GRASP after school program at the Marshall Elementary School in Dorchester and the Orchard Gardens Community Center in Roxbury. Each child received a board game courtesy of the Highland Street Foundation.
- Rondo hosted the “DD Perks Rewards Pick-up on the Parquet” for six lucky Dunkin’ Donuts DD Perks Rewards Card holders. The winners received an opportunity to play round robin pick-up games with their five-person teams on the TD Garden parquet. Rondo also participated warm up drills and a shoot-around.
- Ray Allen hosted a giving tree at the Natick Collection and collected hundreds of gifts for children from the Boys and Girls Club of Boston’s Jordan Club in Chelsea and the Boston Centers for Youth and Families. The event was presented by Allen’s organization, the Ray of Hope Foundation.
|Celtics recall Hudson from NBDL||12.30.09 at 3:19 pm ET|
The Celtics recalled rookie Lester Hudson from the NBA Development League’s Maine Red Claws, the team announced on Wednesday. Hudson has played in five games for the Red Claws this season, averaging 14.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists.