|KG concern: He’s the center of everything||03.31.09 at 2:52 pm ET|
He hasn’t been that big a player since coming to the Celtics in February but Mikki Moore spoke volumes on Tuesday when he spoke about the news that the team is shutting down Kevin Garnett for the time being with continuing right knee soreness.
“It’s a big adjustment,” said Moore, who will pick up the slack along with Glen Davis. “He’s the center of everything. He’s the vocal point of our defense and he enthuses guys to come out and play hard. We’re going to miss his presence out on the floor but he’s always in the locker room or on the sideline out there talking to us. We’ll be alright.”
Coach Doc Rivers is hopeful that Moore, Davis and Bill Walker can step into line of fire and help while KG gets his rest.
“He’s been terrific,” Rivers said of Davis. “Mikki has a big game the other night as well. Maybe that’s the silver lining, that Mikki and Big Baby are playing more. Steph is getting more minutes due to the fact that we just don’t have enough bodies and Billy Walker is playing more so maybe that is a silver lining.”
As for others who just became more important, Rivers knows the burden falls to Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
“We’re not going to play them more minutes but clearly there’s more pressure on them,” Rivers said. “I understand that. That may be a reason to cut their minutes a little bit as well. Bottom line is we’re going to be healthy when playoffs start and we’re going to do whatever we can to have the legs.”
Then there were the following words from Kendrick Perkins.
“We have to do it as a team,” Perkins said. “For sure, I have to do a better job of communicating on the floor and talking the defense out.”
Perkins can read the writing on the wall about the team’s chances if KG isn’t fully recovered.
“There’s always concern,” Perkins said. “A guy that has a month off from rest, comes back and he’s still not fully recovered. It’s still kind of scary. But then again, you’re dealing with a warrior, so he’ll find a way to get back.
“When he was out there, he wasn’t 100 percent, you could tell. The biggest thing is, we’ve got two-to-three weeks before the playoffs and we just want Kevin to be healthy, get treatment, messages and go from there,” Perkins added.
|Doc on shutting down Garnett||at 2:12 pm ET|
Doc Rivers began his briefing with reporters on Tuesday with the following statement about Kevin Garnett’s right knee.
“After watching him move today, we’re just going to shut him down,” Rivers said. “It probably won’t be for the year. He’ll probably play by the end, last couple of games, or last three games. It’s just not progressing the way we anticipated it would progress. So, instead of going back and forth, trying to get him run in practice and seeing he gets sore, it’s just not worth it.”
Garnett experienced continued soreness in the knee, first injured on Feb. 19 at Utah.
Here are some of the other quotes from Rivers on Tuesday:
Any second guessing on bring him back after 13 games: “We thought it was the right decision and the doctors thought it was the right decision. Again, I told you that I wasn’t going to play him until the doctors said, ‘play him.’ With half the people it’s fine and half it’s not. Unfortunately, he’s in the ‘not’ category right now.”
On working him out in practice before making Tuesday’s decision: “We assumed we were going to practice him and right now, we’re not even going to do that. We’re going to shut him down until the soreness goes away and the swelling goes away and then we bring him back up.”
On the seriousness of the injury: “We’re just going to shut him down until we feel like he’s ready. It’s nothing structural. It’s the same thing that it’s been. It’s just not reacting the same way we thought it would react. He didn’t react to the games we thought he would and he’s clearly not reacting to practice the way we thought he would.”
|Welcome home Gerald Henderson||03.25.09 at 4:31 pm ET|
Gerald Henderson is hoping to have the same success in Boston that his dad did.
We chronicled his father’s most famous moment when he stole the ball from James Worthy in Game 2 of the 1984 NBA Finals. Now let’s hear it from the man himself. Assuming he can stay awake for the 10 p.m. tip-off, Gerald Henderson will start at point guard for Duke on Thursday night against Villanova.
There are several ironies at work here.
First is the fact that his game will be played in the home building of the Celtics but not on the parquet or with Celtics banners above him because of NCAA regulations, meaning he can’t pay tribute to one of the banners his father helped put up in the rafters.
“They took the banners down. They took them down,” Henderson said with some genuine remorse. ” It’s pretty nice to be playing in Boston, where my dad had his best years as a pro. It’s pretty cool to be playing in the same place as him. I’m sure he’ll have fun coming back here and hopefully watching me having some of the same success that he had.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Sounds of the game… Celtics 90, Clippers 77||03.23.09 at 11:29 pm ET|
It’s the most basic lesson Celtics head coach Doc Rivers preaches, with some serious nudging from assistant Tom Thibodeau.
Think defense first and everything else will follow.
Rivers didn’t think his team was in that mindset in the first half on Monday night against the lowly Clippers, especially when the Clip Joint went on a 19-5 run early in the second quarter to wipe out a 13-point lead and take a lead against the sluggish Celts.
“We didn’t get any stops and we didn’t score the basketball,” Eddie House said. “They went on a 19-5 run I think from the start of the 2nd to 4 minutes left so that’s a recipe for disaster if you don’t get stops and don’t score. Second half we concentrated on getting stops and our offense slowed up our defense.”
Thanks to Kevin Garnett, the Celtics picked up their defensive intensity. And as our colleague Paul Flannery writes, the offense did, indeed, follow.
But with Orlando lurking in the land of Magic on Wednesday and second-place in the East on the line, Rivers knows his team, especially the second unit, can’t afford to come into a game like they did Monday night.
“Honestly, I thought in the first half they came out thinking all about offense and it was a one pass, shot unit,” Rivers said. “In the second half they thought about defense and they got stops. And then we moved the ball and got open shots. And it’s amazing when you play the right way together how things work out. And then when you have the right mindset when you walk on the floor. Read the rest of this entry »
|A professional effort||03.21.09 at 10:44 pm ET|
There is nothing better than the NCAA Tournament. The games are exciting, the emotion is unparalleled and the size of the field and the format is perfect. It is the best post-season in all of sports, and this comes from an NBA guy who thinks the college version of hoops is a vastly inferior product and is far more interested in Lionel Hollins’ rotations than Coach K’s histrionics.
But as awesome as it is to see Siena take down Ohio State, there is something to be said for putting together a win like the Celtics did last night. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t particularly enjoyable to watch and the atmosphere inside the Grizzlies building was like the BPL at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday. (Did you catch the guy sleeping in the fifth row with about four minutes left?) One shining moment it wasn’t. (Click here for a recap).
But the Celtics were, in a word, professional. One night after taking down the Spurs they went into Memphis with tired legs and did what they had to do. This was a solid step forward for the C’s who had lost a little bit of their swagger last week.
Six more observations from a subdued Saturday in the middle of March madness:
1. When Kevin Garnett is in the game everything changes. The defensive intensity picks up, the offense flows better, the tempo gets faster. Rivers experiment with KG is a noble one and it’s to his credit that he has resisted the urge to play him more minutes. There are a lot of coaches who talk a good game about things like this and then push the panic button when things get tough. Credit Doc for that one.
Credit Garnett for his 10-point, four-rebound effort, as well. The plan appears to be to give him a little more work on Monday against the Clippers (four minutes in the second, four in the fourth). That seems like a workable idea. The test will be Wednesday when the C’s go to Orlando.
2. You could do a lot worse in your bracket then going with a team that has Mike Conley, OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, Darrell Arthur and Hakim Warrick. The problem with the Grizzlies is the only veteran on the roster is Greg Buckner. If they get a little time to develop, and if Marc Gasol continues to be an effective presence inside, they might have something there. But what are the odds that owner Michael Heisley keeps the team together? The Grizz are just treading water until the next collective bargaining agreement.
3. Doc made a conscious effort to keep Paul Pierce’s minutes down and that also seems like a very good idea. The Truth has logged major playing time this year and while it’s tempting to keep him out there at all times (especially without an obvious backup) keeping him somewhat fresh will be a major challenge down the stretch.
4. Interestingly, Rivers opened the second quarter sans Big Three and then went to a Stephon Marbury, Eddie House, Ray Allen lineup for a significant stretch of the second and fourth quarters.He seems intent on doing a little tinkering with the second unit, which is exactly what he should be doing right now.
5. Big Baby had a huge first half, following up on his solid effort against San Antonio. Before he got hurt Leon Powe was turning some heads with his play. It remains to be seen what the backup big man rotation is going to look like come playoff time but right now Baby and Powe are making their case to play big roles.
6. Safe to say that the acquisition of Marbury has accomplished at least one thing so far. House has flourished as the designated shooter while Marbury handles the ball. E-House is averaging over eight points a game and shooting over 50 percent from 3-point range playing off Marbury, while Steph looked cool and calm running the offense last night, as well. Granted it’s not like the Memphis guards were channeling TR Dunn, but it was a good night for Marbury.
6A. If Bill Walker isn’t in the slam dunk context next year, there ought to be an investigation. In the spirit of Darryl Dawkins, that dunk he threw down on Arthur, the former Kansas forward, should be called the: Rock Chalk In-yo-face-Jayhawk Tomahawk Jam.
|Sounds of the game… Celtics 112, Heat 108 OT||03.18.09 at 11:52 pm ET|
Everyone assumed Wednesday’s game between the short-handed Celtics and Miami Heat at the Garden would be a showcase of an NBA MVP candidate. And it was.
While Paul Pierce is almost certainly not going to beat out guys named Kobe or LeBron or even the Heat’s Dwayne Wade, who was a late scratch Wednesday with a right hip flexor, the Celtics captain showed exactly why he is still one of the most feared players in the league.
He scored 36 points and hauled in 11 rebounds and, with the help of Rajon Rondo’s 27 points and 10 assists, led the Green to a gutsy 112-108 OT win against Miami.
“It almost came down to that we had Paul and they didn’t have Wade,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “When Paul was making all the shots, I thought that last shot he took was in too so, it’s a good win for us, right now even when you get what we’re going through is good. I thought a lot of guys, obviously Paul and Rajon, was terrific.”
Pierce looked like the Pierce of 2006-07 when he HAD to be the guy taking all the big shots at the end of games. Like his three-pointer with 2:27 left in regulation to give the Celtics a 96-95 lead. Like his jumper with 1:49 remaining to give the Celtics a 98-97 lead. Like his jumper with 1:23 remaining to give the Celtics a 100-99 lead. Pierce was 6-for-8 in the fourth quarter, scoring 16 of his team’s 25 points
“When he does that, it’s unbelievable,” Kendrick Perkins said in wonder. “He’s hitting shots, crazy shots. I knew they were in trouble how he came out. When he comes out like that, he’s in attack mode. I was like, ‘Somebody is in trouble tonight.’ He came out just feeling it. He carried us tonight, he and Rondo.”
Pierce was more humble.
“We just needed a win any way we can get it, right now at this point, it seems like bodies are going down left and right, to get our spirits back up,” Pierce said. “We know that we are injured, we know that we are losing guys every other day, but just to get back on the winning mindframe, is big for us, especially when you are going into San Antonio in a couple of days later. So, this was a big game for us, hopefully on this road trip, we get a couple of bodies back, if not we continue to grind these games out until these guys get better.”
And the captain isn’t about to let his team’s spirits get down, even after losing Ray Allen to a bum elbow and Leon Powe for two weeks with a banged up right knee.
“They’re up,” Pierce said. “That’s the one great thing about this team. We’ve never been down, we’ve never look at one another, point the finger at one another, and we understand that we just have to keep working. We’re a team that doesn’t make excuses, that doesn’t cry over spilled milk. The situation is what it is and we have to go out there and put our hard hats on and our work boots on and continue to work regardless of who’s out there.”
Jermaine O’Neal has seen this all before. He wasn’t surprised by the show Pierce put on against his Heat on Wednesday.
|The puzzle changes shape||at 11:15 pm ET|
There are two ways to look at Doc Rivers’ statement before the Celtics took the court against the Heat. “We’re not going to catch Cleveland,” Rivers told the press without being asked about whether they could catch the Cavaliers. “We have a chance to hold on to that second spot.” (Click here for a recap of the Miami game.)
The first is this. The coach is absolutely right. There are 13 games left in the regular season and the Celtics are down five in the loss column. It’s math.
Now that kind of unprompted candor, even from one of the more honest and realistic coaches in the NBA, is not generally expected. Someone who has been around competitive sports for as long as Rivers knows there’s always a chance, and to concede anything less is to admit to defeat on a certain level.
But admitting defeat is not in this team’s nature (and they have the championship banner to prove it) so clearly this was a different sort of message. After the game, which was as good a win as his team has had in almost two weeks, Rivers talked about a jigsaw puzzle. “It’s corny,” he said. “But we were talking about it today that the only way you can put a puzzle together is with the box. You have to have the picture. So we just don’t have all our pieces together right now. They’re kind of scattered but we’re going to have a chance to put them back together and we know that. And we know the picture and that’s what we want.”
The puzzle pieces are scattered throughout Eddie Lacerte’s training room. They have hyper-extended elbows, sprained ankles and strained knees. But the picture is clearer now after suffering losses to Milwaukee and Chicago and it involves getting the home-court advantage against Orlando in the second round. That’s the puzzle they will try to solve over the next 13 games: Get healthy and stay ahead of the Magic.
That’s a different picture than what was in place a few weeks ago when there was a realistic chance at catching the Cavaliers, but that was then and this is now. There were a lot of words spoken in the aftermath of their gritty win over the Heat without two of their stars and with only three able-bodied big men, but none of them were “Cleveland.”
“One, for us to get on the same page and two, to solidify that second spot,” was how Stephon Marbury put it. “Once everyone gets healthy I think this team will be totally different.”
“Either way, I still feel good about us winning a championship,” Kendrick Perkins said. “I don’t care if we play home or away.”
Say this for the Celtics, when the coach talks about something like this it’s not an accident and it’s not a sub-conscious slip of the tongue. The players were briefed about this subtle change in expectations and they are on board.
“That’s the one great thing about this team,” Paul Pierce said. “We’ve never been down. We never look at one another, point the finger at one another, and we understand that we just have to keep working. The situation is what it is and we have to go out there and put our hard hats on and our work boots on and continue to work, regardless of who’s out there.”
To that end, they milked 41 minutes out of Big Baby Davis, who has been out the last four games with an ankle injury. They had three (relatively) healthy big men and when Davis and Mikki Moore fouled out, they turned to rookie Bill Walker in the final minute of an overtime game.
It was, as they say, a good win. A win that clinched them the Atlantic Division, not that any of them cared because that’s not part of the puzzle they’re trying to solve.
“(The division) doesn’t really mean anything to the Boston Celtics,” Pierce said. “They don’t put that banner up. Maybe in other arenas they put that banner up, but here, it doesn’t really mean a thing.”
Getting healthy matters. Staying ahead of Orlando matters. That was the message the coach delivered Wednesday night and it was heard, and well-received by his team.
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