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Cassell: What to Expect Defending a Title 10.27.08 at 12:49 pm ET
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Sam Cassell is the only player on the Boston Celtics who knows how it feels to defend an NBA championship. Not only that, he also knows what it takes to win two consecutive titles. Nearly 15 years after going back-to-back with the Houston Rockets, Cassell explains what the Celtics should expect heading into Opening Night.

On playing as an NBA champion: These guys got a grasp of that early in preseason. Everyone’s going to be giving us their best shot. Every game is going to be a big game. Every game.

On controlling emotions from the ring ceremony to focus on the game: You don’t control them. You don’t control them but our game plan is defense. If our offense ain’t hitting, our defense is going to be hitting so that’s the thing we live and die by, our defense. There’s no excuse if our defense isn’t up to par, so you’ll see our defense up to par and if our offense is struggling our defense will have to win the game for us.

On being a target for 82 games: Our big guys understand that and that’s why when we practice, our second unit goes after our starting unit, fouling and going after them, trying to frustrate them. But they’ve been doing a hell of a job just keeping their composure and understanding what’s at stake. And what’s at stake is winning.

On the reception in opposing arenas: Oh we’re on top of the mountain. We’re the Celtics and the majority of places we play at, we’ll have a lot of fans there ourselves. Everybody loves the champion no matter who they are. We’ve got great guys on our team and people really enjoy the way we play the game of basketball. We play it, we don’t taunt, we play hard.

On repeating the same success with different players this season: First of all, we’ve got to have the basketball gods on our side. Injuries, course of the NBA season, they happen. But we’ve also got to understand that every night is going to be a dog fight for us. So we’ve got to bring the fight. If we do that we’ll be fine.

On convincing the new Celtics to buy in to the system: Well they’ve got to. We don’t have too many new guys on this ball club but they’ve got to. They’ve got to understand. I told the guys I had a great summer last summer. I had a wonderful summer being a champ. That’s what we want to get back to. Everyone on this team had probably the best summer of their NBA career. For me it was blast because where I came from and where I ended up at, I went from last to first in a matter of 48 hours.

On putting last season behind them: It’s forgotten. It’s forgotten. We haven’t done anything yet. It’s all over. Doc emphasizes that every day in practice that it’s all over. After one night we’re just the world champions, it’s just a title. So we’re trying to get that back again.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Sam Cassell,
Celtics Entertain at Shamrock Foundation Gala 10.25.08 at 10:46 am ET
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Winning an NBA title is cause for celebration and on Friday night the Boston Celtics shared their excitement at the Shamrock Foundation’s World Championship Gala. Members of the team held little back as they entertained the crowd with anecdotes, jokes, and even an operatic performance when emcee Glenn Ordway passed the mic to Paul Pierce. Highlights included:

  • Eddie House gave his best Ray Allen impersonation while explaining the definition of ‘€œUbuntu.’€ Word is House doesn’t need to practice that anymore … he does it so often it’s like second nature by now.
  • Big Baby shimmied across the stage doing his best take on KG’s dance moves. If Davis’ impression is any indication of the real thing, let’s just say ‘€œDancing With the Stars’€ won’t be calling Garnett any time soon.
  • Pierce invited rookies J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker to the stage for a public display of rookie initiation. The two sang an off-key rendition of ‘€œI Believe I Can Fly’€ which sounded more like Sanjaya than R. Kelly when Giddens tried to hit a high note.

When all was said and done, the gala raised $1.5 million to benefit the Celtics Shamrock Foundation, which provides education and support for charities in and around the Boston area.

The ornate 2008 World Championship rings were revealed and featured a diamond encrusted emerald shamrock. The big ticket auction item was a personalized championship ring, which went for $15,000.

Other auction items featured autographed memorabilia from the Boston Celtics and around the NBA, including celebratory photographs of the Big Three, an oversized cover of the Sporting News with Paul Pierce and David Ortiz, a basketball signed by members of the 2007-08 Celtics and Lakers squads, and a pair of sneakers worn by Dwight Howard. Guests were also able to bid on the opportunity to dine with the 2008 Championship trophy for the evening.

Read More: Bill Walker, Boston Celtics, Glen Davis, J.R. Giddens
GMs Predict Lakers to Beat Celtics in NBA Finals 10.22.08 at 11:37 am ET
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On Wednesday NBA.com revealed the results of the 2008-09 GM Survey. There were some expected predictions based on last season’€™s performances ‘€“ a second straight Celtics/Lakers Finals, the Miami Heat will be the most improved team, and Chris Paul is the fastest player with the ball. But there were also a few notable results worth taking another look at:

Predictions

Which team will win NBA Finals 2009?

1. L.A. Lakers — 46.2%
2. Boston — 19.2%
3. New Orleans — 11.5%
4. Houston — 7.7%
San Antonio — 7.7%
Others receiving votes: Detroit, Orlando

The departure of James Posey caused many to doubt the Celtics chances to repeat, but this landslide victory was still surprising. Most of the hoopla surrounding the Lakers this season is the return of Andrew Bynum. Yes, he will make them better by giving them an inside presence and allowing Pau Gasol to move back to the power forward position (where he won’€™t get beat up by Kendrick Perkins). But can Bynum hold up for three postseason rounds? The Lakers starting five (including the hobbled Kobe Bryant) has not proven they can win it all as a unit whereas the Celtics are returning their entire starting lineup. While experience isn’€™t accounted for on the box score, it can affect the final outcome.

Rookies

Who will win the 2008-09 Rookie of the Year?
1. Michael Beasley — 48.1%
2. Greg Oden — 29.6%

Which rookie will be the best player in five years?
1. Greg Oden — 30.8%
2. Michael Beasley — 23.1%

A year ago the race for Rookie of the Year was neck-and-neck between Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. One knee injury later, Oden has been edged out by Michael Beasley for the honors. But you’€™ve got to feel good if you’€™re Portland Trail Blazer GM Kevin Pritchard. His long-term vision for young talent will make his team a contender for several years down the road.

Coaches

Who is the best head coach in the NBA?

1. Gregg Popovich — 53.8%
2. Phil Jackson — 23.1%
3. Jerry Sloan — 7.7%
Others receiving votes: Rick Adelman, Rick Carlisle, Nate McMillan,
Stan Van Gundy

Which head coach is the best manager/motivator of people?

1. Phil Jackson — 44.0%
2. Gregg Popovich — 28.0%
3. Doc Rivers — 12.0%
4. Nate McMillan — 8.0%
Others receiving votes: Rick Adelman, Jerry Sloan

Did you check that list twice? After winning an NBA Championship, Doc Rivers was left off the list of best head coaches. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich still reigns supreme in the eyes of GMs, also taking first place over Rivers for coach with the best defensive schemes. You would assume that Rivers would get at least one nod after transforming the Celtics from worst to first, but fortunately for Rivers the title of 2008 NBA Champions holds more clout than any preseason predictions.

Defense

Who is the best on-the-ball defender in the NBA?
1. Kobe Bryant — 26.9%
2. Ron Artest — 19.2%
Bruce Bowen — 19.2%
Rajon Rondo — 19.2%

As far as defense goes, Kevin Garnett was predicted to be the league’€™s best defensive player, best interior defender, and best leader. Rajon Rondo’€™s inclusion on the best on-the-ball defender list speaks volumes to the influences of Garnett and Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, who was also predicted best in the NBA. To put things into perspective, Rondo was 10 years old when Bruce Bowen made his professional debut. Talk about a quick learner.

So how much stock should you put into these results? It’€™s up to you.

Which team will win NBA Finals 2008?
1. San Antonio Spurs 37.0%
2. Phoenix Suns 25.9%
3. Dallas Mavericks 14.8%
4. Detroit Pistons 7.4%
Others receiving votes: Boston, Houston, Miami, Orlando

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Gregg Popovich, Kevin Garnett
Tables Still Available for 2008 World Championship Celebration Gala 10.21.08 at 6:46 am ET
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Tables are still available for the 2008 World Championship Celebration Gala to benefit the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation. The annual gala will be held this Friday, October 24 beginning at 6:00pm at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel.

This fundraising event raises money for an exceptional cause ‘€“ providing education and support for children in our community. All proceeds will go to benefit the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation.

This year’€™s gala will feature the unveiling of the 2008 championship rings as well as a roundtable panel discussion with last season’€™s starting five, moderated by WEEI’€™s Glen Ordway.

Members of the Boston Celtics organization in attendance will include All-Stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, members of the 2008-2009 Celtics team and coaching staff, Head Coach Doc Rivers, Executive Director of Basketball Operations and GM Danny Ainge, and Co-owners Wyc Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca and Robert Epstein.

The gala will also feature once-in-a-lifetime auction items, including a 2008 World Championship Executive Level Ring, Two Gold Level Seats to the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, a ‘€œTravel with the Team,’€ and more.

To purchase a table contact Rebekah Splaine at 617-854-8090.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen
How to Make an NBA Schedule 10.20.08 at 9:12 am ET
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Ever feel like the same teams roll through Boston year after year? Or wonder why the Celtics had such a demanding West Coast road trip last season? Mike Zarren, the Boston Celtics Assistant Executive Director of Basketball Operations, explains the thought process behind an NBA schedule on Celtics.com.

There are basic requirements for the Celtics, such as a home and away game against every Western Conference team. They also have to play two home and two away games against each team in the Atlantic Division. Then there are other factors, including coordinating their schedule with the Boston Bruins as well as boosting those ratings on national TV.

Zarren does a great job of breaking it all down here so you’ll never have to question why you catch the New Jersey Nets every time you go to the Garden.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Mike Zarren,
Powe Goes Numb, OK After Game 10.19.08 at 3:42 pm ET
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A week after injuring his hand against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Leon Powe was sent back to the trainer’s room on Sunday. Powe was injured when he went up for a rebound and one of the New Jersey Nets landed on his left foot, hitting a nerve. Powe lost all feeling in his left foot for 30 minutes. After the game he said he can put pressure on it again and is not expected to have further complications. As for his left hand, it is still noticeably swollen but he is playing through the injury.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Leon Powe,
Fourth Quarter Reserved for Reserves at 2:50 pm ET
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Doc Rivers said he wanted to learn more about “3-4″ guys before he made cuts and today he’s taking a look at everyone but Sam Cassell. With four minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Gabe Pruitt, J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker, Darius Miles, and Brian Scalabrine are on the court. This lineup is without a true center so they are pressuring on the perimeter to prevent a mismatch at the hoop. And just in case you thought anything has changed since last season, the fans are still chanting “Scal-a-bri-ne” every 30 seconds.

Read More: Bill Walker, Boston Celtics, Brian Scalabrine, Darius Miles
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