|Doc Rivers says the excuses are ‘all gone’||04.15.11 at 5:17 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers is hoping Shaquille O’Neal returns to practice on Saturday after watching from the sidelines on Friday as the team began full-scale practice preparations for the Knicks Sunday night in Game 1 of their first-round series.
‘He was doing good. He sat pretty well today, looked good over there,” Rivers said tongue-in-cheek. “It was terrific. He watched the entire practice.”
Rivers said the team is managing O’Neal’s calf injury as carefully as possible before letting him get back on the court.
“We knew that, we planned that,” Rivers added. “[Saturday] we’ll see what he can do. He did some of the walk-through stuff but I just don’t want to take a chance. We’ll find out [Saturday]. ‘He’ll practice hopefully and then we’ll make a decision after that.’
‘Delonte’s fine, everybody else is fine,” Rivers said. “We’re 100 percent except for Shaq. Everybody else is pretty good and that’s good.’ ‘We watched film for about an hour and a half [Thursday]. Then we walked through for another half-hour, 45 minutes but we didn’t do anything live.”
Friday was critical to Rivers because of the work accomplished in practice. Saturday figures to be even more significant.
“Today was a hard, long live practice. Everybody’s rested, every team is rested. There’s no excuses. It’s all gone. ‘It was a good that they could get their mind set on one opponent and walk through the game plan. Today we got to do a lot of live stuff. [Saturday] we’re going to do even more live stuff.
‘With this new group, we’ve never [practiced that hard]. The worst part of the trade was the timing of the trade and the schedule, it just didn’t mesh for us. We never had days off, we never had practice time and then we had the injuries. At least now, I’m cutting out literally half of our offensive playbook. I’ve made a choice to run a couple of things well than a lot of things average and poor and so that’s the route we’re going.’
|Speaking with the enemy: Celtics vs. Knicks||at 2:09 pm ET|
First question: Despite being 0-3 against the Celtics, the Knicks seem pretty confident. Why?
Date: Wednesday, April 13, 2:20 p.m.
Subject: RE: Celtics-Knicks
From: Seth Rosenthal
To: Ben Rohrbach
Well, a few things. First of all, the guys you hear talking are Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. They’re nothing if not confident. Amar’e unblinkingly called Pau Gasol “soft” the other day, and thought nothing of it. These guys like to talk. To some degree, they’re qualified. Those three all have meaningful playoff experience, and more or less know what it takes to win a playoff series against a good team.
Moreover, each of those three losses included some sort of silver lining. One of ’em was tenths of a second short of being a win, and the most recent one was dominated by the Knicks until the Celtics woke up in the fourth quarter (that might actually be more foreboding than promising, but…).
Maybe it’s got something to do with the Celtics’ struggles of late. The Knicks might smell blood in the water, or some other sort of predatory analogy. What’s the deal with that, by the way? Does this strike those who know the Celtics as another late-season stretch of playing possum before a sudden surge in the playoffs, or does the slide seem to have some inertia?
|Irish Coffee: Celtics vs. Knicks tale of the tape||at 12:28 pm ET|
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 …
Celtics 4, Knicks 0
107.8 … points … 101.3
9.8 … fast break points … 12.8
53.0 … points in the paint … 42.5
50.9 … FG% … 45.9
37.1 … 3P% … 33.6
79.5 … FT% … 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 … blocks … 6.3
13.3 … turnovers … 14.0
21.0 … personal fouls … 19.3
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):
|NBA Power Rankings 4/15||04.14.11 at 7:30 pm ET|
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.
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.
‘I 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.
‘Well 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 »
|Irish Coffee: Harshing Celtics playoff buzz||at 12:17 pm ET|
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.”
|Glen Davis: ‘We’re going to fight’ with the Knicks||at 12:13 am ET|
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.’
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