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Fast Break: Sharp Shaq ignites C’s win 10.20.10 at 10:04 pm ET
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Five Celtics scored in double figures — led by Paul Pierce‘s 17 points — and Rajon Rondo finished with 12 assists to ignite a 107-92 victory over the New Jersey Nets in the final game of the preseason. Boston finished the preseason at 7-1.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT

1. Shaq looking sharp: A nifty spin move and another juke move around Joe Smith showed flashes of the Shaquille O’Neal of old. Sure, it was Joe Smith, but still. Playing 15 of the first 24 minutes, he finished the half with 12 points and seven boards.

Shaq did the little things, too. He tossed a nice outlet pass to Rondo for an easy bucket that put the C’s up 75-67 in the third quarter. He cleaned up the defensive glass, a serious deficiency for the Celtics in the 2010 game that shall not be named. And, believe it or not, he made 4-of-5 free throws, which raised his percentage to 69.2.

All in all, not too shabby for a 38-year-old.

2. Coming out of halftime firing on all cylinders: The Celtics could’ve easily packed it in and called it a night, trailing 55-48 at the half. If trap games existed in the preseason, this would’ve been it. The C’s started 6-1 in the expedition season, and if you haven’t heard yet they open the season against the new-look Heat on Tuesday.

Yet, the starters came out of the locker room and turned a seven-point deficit into a 13-point lead by the end of the third quarter, outscoring the Nets, 36-16.

3. Getting to the free throw line: The Celtics got to the line 24 times last night and made 18 of them. Shaq, Pierce and Glen Davis each got to the line five times, and only Big Baby (2-of-5) failed to knock them down.

Entering last night’s game, the C’s averaged 28.6 foul shots per game, and they were shooting 76.6 percent as a team. Last season, the Celtics attempted 25.5 free throws per game, making 74.6 percent of them.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG

1. Starting the game in a last-game-of-the-preseason effort: Looking sloppy and lackadaisical, the Celtics gave up 11 fast break points and scored none in the first quarter. That left them coming from behind … until an epic third quarter. Making up a 14-point deficit might be easy against the Nets, but it won’t be a cakewalk against the NBA’s upper echelon.

2. Giving up high-percentage shots on defense: The Celtics still allowed New Jersey to shoot 48 percent from the floor through three quarters — and that’s with the Nets shooting just 1-of-8 from beyond the arc. The C’s have plenty of bigs this year, so there’s no reason their interior defense shouldn’t be among the league’s best.

3. Do I really have to come up with three things that went wrong in a 20-point blowout during the last game of the preseason? OK, I guess the Celtics didn’t bring Gino out. What gives?

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Irish Coffee: One Reason Ray Allen Will Be Better at 10:44 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

ESPN analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy piled on the anti-technical foul bandwagon in a conference call to promote the station’s NBA coverage this season. While most of what’s been said on the subject has been redundant over the last week — (a la Van Gundy: “More free throws is never the answer”) — Jackson made an interesting point that could benefit the Celtics:

“If I was a guy like Reggie Miller I’d love the rule because it would add three or four points a night to my scoring total from technical fouls.”

Hmmm … I’m trying to think of a guy like Reggie Miller on the Celtics. Shaquille O’Neal? No. Rajon Rondo? Nope. Oh, I know: Ray Allen. Four current NBA players, including Allen, rank higher on the list of career free-throw percentage leaders than Miller (who is No. 9 at 88.8 percent): 2. Steve Nash (90.3 percent), 3. Peja Stojakovic (89.5), 4. Allen (89.4) and 6. Chauncey Billups (89.2).

Allen averaged 16.3 points per game for the Celtics last season, so an additional four points — which, for the NBA’s sake, better be an excessive estimate — would get him closer to his career average of 20.5 points a game.

The scariest name on that free-throw percentage list: Kevin Durant, whose 88.3 conversion rate ranks No. 11 all-time. Already an NBA MVP favorite, Durant’s 30.1 points per game led the league in scoring last year. An additional few points a game gets Durant that much closer to averaging 35 points. Only two players have done that since 1970: Michael Jordan (37.1 in 1986-87; 35.0 in 1987-88) and Kobe Bryant (35.4 in 2005-06).

NBA PRESEASON PREMONITION

The Sporting News produced the following NBA statistic: “Over the last nine preseasons, 17 teams have finished undefeated or with one loss. Of those 17 teams, 16 wound up in the playoffs. None went on to win a championship and only half survived to the second round, but the fact is, if you play well in October, there’s a good chance you’ll at least be playing in late April.”

Only four NBA teams currently have unbeaten or one-loss preseason records: the Celtics (6-1), Orlando Magic (6-0), Utah Jazz (7-0) and Memphis Grizzlies (7-0). I’m not sure this is good news for the Celtics, who need a monumental breakdown to miss the playoffs. Should they defeat the New Jersey Nets tonight, they would have to buck a recent trend to win the NBA title.

Along the same lines, 82games.com analyzed a five-year window to determine: Does the NBA preseason matter? Looking at records from 2001-02 to 2005-06, there was a corollary: successful preseason teams succeeded in the regular season; likewise, unsuccessful preseason teams failed in the regular season.

The most interesting statistic from the study: teams coming off less-than-30-win seasons that produced successful preseason teams gained an average of 19 wins the following season. The only team that fits that bill this season is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who finished 15-67 last season and are 5-2 this preseason.

Inductees Larry Bird, left, and Earvin "Magic" Johnson shake hands after being inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009, in Kansas City, Mo. Other inductees include Gene Bartow, Walter Byers, Travis Grant, Jud Heathcote, Wayman Tisdale and Bill Wall.

Could Magic Johnson and Larry Bird team up to buy the Pacers? Just a conspiracy theory. (AP)

MAGIC JOHNSON’S DISAPPEARING ACT?

What the heck is Magic Johnson up to? A day after selling his 4.5 ownership stake in the Los Angeles Lakers for an estimated $27 million, Magic reportedly sold his 105 Starbucks franchises for another $100 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Magic was rumored to have interest in the sales of the Detroit Pistons and Golden State Warriors, which have since been sold. Back in 2006, when the Seattle SuperSonics were sold for $350 million, five teams were supposedly available for the right price: the Portland Trail Blazers, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Magic and Grizzlies. None of those teams have been sold since.

Conspiracy Theory of the Day: Maybe Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are preparing to buy the Indiana Pacers. Bird did admit back in April that he’s fielded calls from people interested in buying the team. I’m pretty sure Magic has his number.

 Just as long as Magic isn’t planning on investing in another edition of that godawful TV show, “The Magic Hour.”

PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING SHOES

The NBA banned its players from wearing Athletic Propulsion Labs’ $300 Concept 1 shoes. Apparently, the shoes are spring-loaded to increase vertical leap. According to the Associated Press story, 30 percent of NBA players had shown interest in the shoe produced by former USC walk-ons Adam and Ryan Goldston. Any chance the aging legs of Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal were among that 30 percent?

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

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Report: Shaquille O’Neal applies for gun license 10.19.10 at 11:56 am ET
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Shaquille O'Neal is here to serve and protect you. (AP)

According to reports, Shaquille O’Neal applied for a lcoal gun license from the Sudbury Police Department.

If you’ll recall, Shaq began his law enforcement career as a reserve officer in the Miami Police Department. He later applied to become a deputy sheriff with the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Sheriff’s Department while playing for the Cavaliers. Two quick thoughts on this item:

1) Well, Shaq did admit to killing off all the true centers.

2) Is Shaq simply fulfilling his proposed nickname: Blackie Bulger, the Godfather of Sudbury?

And this is reason No. 372 to be intimidated by Shaquille O’Neal.

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Irish Coffee: Ta-Ta Tony Allen at 10:48 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Tony Allen left for greener pastures. Green as in the color of cash; definitely not Celtics green. How can you blame him? After all, his list of injuries reads like a children’s song: ankles, knees and thumbs, so his earning potential could go at any moment — like a post-whistle dunk attempt.

He signed a three-year, $9.7 million contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. He wasn’t going to get that from the Celtics. And he was never going to play more than 20 minutes — maybe not even 15 — for this year’s C’s squad. So, why not sign with the Grizzlies?

“I was definitely overshadowed,” Allen told The Tulsa World. “Anybody would have been overshadowed considering those Hall of Fame prolific-type scorers that they had.”

He played 18.3 minutes per game for the 2007-08 Celtics team that won the NBA title and 16.5 minutes for last year’s team that reached the finals. He’s gotta be able to play more than that for a franchise that’s never won a playoff game, right? Wrong.

“I don’t think it’s smart,” Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins also told The Tulsa World. “What would you rather do? Win and play 15 minutes a game? Or you may not win as much and play 15 minutes a game. My thing is I would rather play on a winning team and have a chance to win championships — and get a playoff share too.”

Ouch. Getting thrown under the bus by his own coach isn’t going to help Allen’s injury woes.

THE GREAT POINT GUARD DEBATE

There’s a recent theory going around the blogosphere: Should you build your team around a point guard? That’s a big question for Celtics fans, considering two years from now that’s exactly what Danny Ainge will be challenged to do. Other than what will be a 35-year-old Paul Pierce, the only current player guaranteed to play for the 2012-13 Celtics is Rajon Rondo.

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Talking hoops podcast: Episode 1 10.13.10 at 9:51 pm ET
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Introducing the newest weei.com podcast: Talking Hoops.

In the debut episode, I talked with AOL/Fanhouse senior NBA writer Sam Amick about a number of topics including whether the Celtics have the attention of the Western Conference, and whether anyone can challenge the Lakers in the West. Amick also talked about Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins (check out his story on Cousins here) and gave his prediction for the finals and MVP.

In the second segment, Michael Holley and I talked Celtics and gave our thoughts on the Heat.

Listen to the podcast here.

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NBA Power Rankings, 10/7 10.07.10 at 12:48 pm ET
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Los Angeles Lakers1. LA Lakers: As the long as the Lakers avoid terrorist threats in Europe and manage to stay healthy, they’ll hang on to this spot throughout the preseason. I’m not too worried about a loss to the T-Wolves or Kobe’s knee being 60 percent. And they’re pretty used to surviving without Bynum at this point.

Boston Celtics2. Boston: When your biggest question mark is whether Von Wafer or Mario West will fill the final spot on the roster, I’d say your team is in pretty good shape … as long as Nate Robinson doesn’t hurt Shaq with one of his pranks. Oh, and Semih Erden looks like he’ll actually contribute.

Miami Heat3. Miami: Don’t let D-Wade’s hamstring injury alarm you. Those things happen in the preseason, and he’s played through far worse. The Heat looked good. No surprise there. And if Udonis Haslem keeps contributing like he has, they just might slide up to No. 2 on opening night.

Oklahoma City Thunder4. Oklahoma City: The Thunder recently invited the greatest name in the NBA to their training camp: Longar Longar. If he makes the team, watch out league. What better complement to Durant, Westbrook and Green?

Dallas Mavericks5. Dallas: The Mavericks are a bunch of 30-somethings who have a limited window left to challenge for an NBA title. Sound familiar? Yup, they’re like the Celtics, only they don’t rebound much and play porous defense. Still, they’ll be tough out West.

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Kevin Garnett on D&C: Offseason a ‘dark place’ 09.29.10 at 11:37 am ET
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Kevin Garnett has had the upper hand against Magic forward Rashard Lewis (back) in this series. (AP)

Kevin Garnett opened up about a number of topics during his interview with Dennis & Callahan. (AP)

Celtics forward Kevin Garnett spoke with Dennis & Callahan at Celtics media day in an interview that aired on Wednesday morning’s show. Garnett spoke of the depressed mood he was in following the Celtics’ NBA finals Game 7 loss to the Lakers.

Said Garnett: ”Very dark, to be honest, dark. ‘Just leave me alone, let me be my myself. I don’t want to deal with anything right now. Let me just be in a dark place.’ Just the way I replay the game over and over in my mind, trying to get a resolution to some type of place to where you can settle with it. I never found it, but that’s what it is. I say it’s fuel to the fire.”

Garnett said his passion for the game though has not waned throughout the years. “I feel older in the fact that I’ve played for multiple years,” he said. “But when it comes to competing, being in shape, passion — none of those things are lacking, not with me. When I get out on the floor, man, I’m going to compete. I wear my heart on my sleeve with anything that I do, anyway. Basketball is one of the things I enjoy in this world, so it’s like I’m having a tryout here. When I work out, I work out to better myself, to better my craft. Basketball is pure enjoyment for me.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To listen to the full interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

When you’re done — whenever that is — will it be physical or emotional? Will it be that passion that goes first or will it be the knees?

I think it will be physical. When I retire, it will probably be because I’m hurting on a regular basis. I’m a passionate guy. Anyone who knows me or hangs out with me, they know that if I’m playing a video game or telling a story or something, I’m passionate about it.

How come nobody knows you, other than your family and friends? You’re pretty private, people don’t know much about you. Ray Allen is out playing golf, Shaq is everywhere already, but you don’t see much of Kevin Garnett.

Those guys like to be seen, I like to be in the back.

Are you shy?

I wouldn’t say shy, I’m just private. I think to get to know anybody is a moment. I look at life like, guys get to see me perform, play ball, a lot of things that we do are on blast anyways. So, the little private life that I do have I like to keep it private. I don’t like to — you know, I don’t have a Twitter, I don’t have a Facebook. It’s not that I’m not social. I’m social, but I like to be social with the people I know.

I just feel like everybody out here is not for you. If you let everybody in, you let those people in with that. I just prefer to have my circle tight and have my family and friends close to me. That’s how I like to interact and be around people. Shaq has the personality, his personality’s so big that you can’t really withhold that. Ray is a good golfer. I guess he likes people to see his swing or whatever. I’m just to the back. If I go out and go somewhere I like to sit down and chill. I’m not a rah-rah guy, I’m rah-rah when I’m on the court. I’m pretty laid back.

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