|Paul Pierce on Celtics’ future hopes: ‘As Rondo goes, we go’||04.06.11 at 10:38 am ET|
Paul Pierce could see it. Doc Rivers could see it. So could Kevin Garnett. All of the Celtics‘ leaders essentially said the same thing following Tuesday’s 99-82 win over the 76ers at TD Garden. The Celtics are slowly but surely getting in playoff form, and if they are going anywhere, they’re going to need Rajon Rondo to get them there.
Rondo had 16 points and 13 assists and led the charge all night long as the Celtics were pressed early and often by a young Philadelphia team trying to show it could be a legitimate threat come the playoffs if the two meet in the first round.
“You expect Rajon to play that way every night,” Pierce said. “He’s set a standard for himself over the last couple of years with his play. It’s no surprise when I look up and he has those type of numbers. I just think his next step is being more consistent with it to where he’s putting up 13, 14, 15 assists every night, but that comes as you get older. I was in that position, too, as a young player, just learning how to be consistent with it. As Rondo goes, we go. When he has these monster assist games, we usually win.”
“He was just aggressive and attacking and shooting,” Rivers said of Rondo, his prized floor general. “You can see he’s getting himself ready, you can just feel that. I don’t know if he plays with great focus all game right now, or if any of our guys do. But you can see what they’re all doing. They’re in some ways sharpening their tools in spurts. It’s tough for coaches. You’d like for them to do that and keep doing it. But they know where they’re at.”
As for team consistency, the captain said the Celtics showed enough to overcome the Sixers, learning from recent history where they have had a hard time protecting a double-digit lead. Read the rest of this entry »
After scoring 16 points and dishing out 13 assists in a 99-82 win over the Sixers Tuesday night at TD Garden, Rajon Rondo said the Celtics made a statement by shutting down the team they may face in the opening round of the playoffs.
‘Tonight was a good test for us,” Rondo said. “That might be a first-round team and we did a good job of making a little statement that it’s going to be hard to beat us in a seven-game series.”
The Celtics trailed by two after one as Rondo’s counterpart – Jrue Holiday – had 11 points in the first quarter. Holiday was held scoreless the rest of the game. Now, the 54-23 Celtics prepare for the 57-20 Bulls in Chicago Thursday night with a chance to draw within two games of the Eastern Conference leaders.
“It’s a different game versus Chicago and Miami,” Rondo added. “Obviously, the intensity will be a lot greater but in the playoffs, the first round, there’s going to be a lot of intensity. We just want to win [against Chicago] because we’ll probably have to see those guys in the conference finals or whoever we may end up [with]. We just want to win the game [against the Bulls], Miami, tonight against Philly, we want to win every game the rest of the season.’
As for his body, which includes a pair of sore feet and a banged up pinky, Rondo says he’ll have time in the summer to get back to full strength. Right now, his focus is getting ready for a playoff run. He was asked -point blank – if he felt healthier now as the playoffs approach.
“No, I’m pretty much the same,” Rondo said. “We haven’t played as many back-to-backs. Just getting a little bit more rest, taking better care of my body, lifting more. I wouldn’t say I’m feeling 100 percent but I’m doing OK.’
|‘Tentative’ Nenad Krstic: The pain is still there but ‘I think I’ll be ready for the playoffs’||04.05.11 at 9:55 am ET|
Doc Rivers called his first practice since bruising his right knee a “tentative” one but Nenad Krstic was just happy to be back on the court Monday afternoon working out and getting ready for what he believes will be his return tonight against the 76ers at TD Garden.
Of course, it looked a lot worse for Krstic last Thursday night in San Antonio when his knee appeared to buckle in the second quarter.
He came off the court, did not play again that night and immediately went for an MRI the next day.
“I was upset but I knew right away [it wasn’t serious] or anything like that,” Krstic said. “When I was in New Jersey, I had the ACL [tear] and I knew it wasn’t the ACL. I was thinking maybe it was meniscus but obviously, I’m not a doctor. But I was just waiting for the MRI and the day and a half was really long for me.
“I can get through the pain but it’s just still in my head a little bit. Sometimes, I’m afraid to jump or slide [step] or cutting but I’ll be ready. I’ve been through a whole practice. I’ll be fine but we’ll see.”
When the MRI revealed only a bone bruise, he took a deep breath and began getting his mind ready to return to practice within the next week, assuming his knee would allow him.
“Maybe in my head, I’m just trying to still protect it a little bit,” Krstic said. “Mentally, I’m not 100 percent. My knee, I still feel pain but MRI showed it’s nothing really serious so I can get through that pain. I know it’s not going to get serious. Mentally, it’s just the first practice after. It was really tough for me. I was thinking it was more serious when it [happened] but maybe it’s still in my head.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Doc Rivers sounds a hopeful tone on Shaquille O’Neal||04.04.11 at 3:32 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers is holding out hope that he may get Shaquille O’Neal back by the end of the week after the big man strained his right calf on Sunday night in his first game back since early February.
“He may play at the end of the week,” said Rivers following Monday’s practice, which included every player except O’Neal. “We’re just not sure yet. If that’s what it requires. We’re going to do whatever they tell us is required. Other than that, I would love to play him, honestly, a couple of game.”
Rivers indicated O’Neal would definitely miss Tuesday’s home game against the 76ers after playing just six minutes in Sunday’s 101-90 win over the Pistons.
“If we can get that up to 20 minutes, that would be great. He looked agile. His energy was high. As far as his [six] minutes of play, that was good.”
Meanwhile, Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy both returned to practice on Monday and are expected to give a try on Tuesday night at TD Garden. “I thought Nenad was tentative, honestly, but he got through the whole practice and that was good,” Rivers said of Krstic, who suffered only a bruised knee last Thursday in 10 minutes of play at San Antonio. Murphy rolled his ankle in practice on March 24 and has missed the last six games.
|Irish Coffee: Celtics rotating rotations||at 11:48 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Unlike the last three years, when Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has had his rotation locked into place heading into the playoffs — whether Kevin Garnett was healthy (2008, 2010) or not (2009) — this postseasonseason will be a guessing game, at least for the first round.
As he said postgame — and Paul Flannery detailed when he nailed his Three-Pointer column — Rivers knows exactly what he wants it to be, and what he’s always wanted it to be this season.
‘We’re not getting that set. That’s going to be just tough. What we have to do is get everyone on the same page, rhythm-wise. As far as rotations, I know it. It’s set. But we just got to get it together. We’ll be ready. If everyone’s healthy, I can tell you, I know it. I just haven’t seen it.’
On paper, it’s written. On the court? Rivers doesn’t know what it’s actually going to be. Therein lies the problem. The Celtics will be relying on the unkown — on chemistry, rhythm, whatever you want to call it — more during this playoff run than any other over the past three seasons.
It’s not the first half of the rotation that’s a problem. The Big Four were always going to be relied on for 30-40 minutes a game in the playoffs, and that hasn’t changed. It’s the uncertainty at center, Jeff Green‘s role and the expectations for Delonte West that cause problems.
The fact remains that Rivers is relying on a rotation that’s never actually been put into action on the court. Here’s what the Celtics coach told the Chicago Sun-Times:
Jermaine O’Neal got the clearance to start his first game since early November and Rivers thought, with Shaquille O’Neal coming back for the first time since early February, he would finally have some depth at the position that’s been – pardon the terrible pun – the team’s Achilles.
J-O played nearly seven of the 12 first-quarter minutes and was getting his feet wet in his third game back from a left knee scope. He finished with five points and six rebounds in 18 minutes. But it wasn’t until the shootaround Sunday evening that he felt confident enough to let Rivers know he was comfortable starting the game.
‘Felt good, felt good to be back, it’s just going to be about progression, [Sunday] was probably the first day felt sore coming to the game,” O’Neal said. “Didn’t even know I was going to start until the shoot around, but we got into the weight room, did some legs stuff. But that’s just part of the process. [Monday], I’ll get a practice in, get acquainted with the new system. They’ve changed some plays some I’m kind of learning on the fly and asking Rondo at the same time during the game, where I’m supposed to be.’
That general soreness and stiffness was not a concern to O’Neal since it had nothing to do with his left knee.
‘I’ve never been concerned about the knee being sore and having set backs,” O’Neal said. “It’s more about the body being sore with the banging and stuff like that. But I’ve passed all the tests that I’m supposed pass so I’m pretty excited about that.’ Read the rest of this entry »
After going through a very difficult and tumultuous March, Paul Pierce realizes the Celtics now are left with the reality that they likely won’t catch Chicago and very possibly could wind up third in the Eastern Conference heading into the upcoming playoffs.
This is certainly not what the team envisioned when the C’s were leading the East with a 46-15 record after beating Milwaukee on March 6. Since then, they’ve been treading water, going 6-8 in their last 14 before beating the lowly Pistons Sunday night at home.
“I mean, there’s nothing I can do right now,” Pierce painfully admitted. “We don’t control our destiny right now. It’s pretty much hoping they fumble up or stumble up somewhere along the road and we win. It’s going to be what it’s going to be at the end of the day.”
That’s not exactly what the Celtics were hoping for, but they also weren’t counting on six different starting centers this season. Shaquille O’Neal and his “brother” Jermaine have started there. So have Semih Erden, Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins and Nenad Krstic.
Through all that, the Celtics managed to stay atop the East. That is, until their 6-8 stretch that ended Sunday. They are now three back of the Bulls with six games to go, including a big one this Thursday at the United Center against Chicago. At this point, Pierce and the Celtics would do well to finish second and have home court against Miami should they meet in the second round.
They are also still looking up at the Heat in the standings, trailing LeBron James and company by a half-game for second. And with Shaq going down last night with what appears to be nothing more than a right calf strain, Pierce conceded the C’s are now focused on simply trying to get their heads — and bodies — straight for another playoff run. Read the rest of this entry »
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