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Preview: Celtics vs. Nets 02.05.10 at 9:35 am ET
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It's been a long season for Devin Harris and the Nets. (AP)

It's been a long season for Devin Harris and the Nets. (AP)

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the NBA version of the dreaded trap game. On the face of things, there is no conceivable reason why the Celtics should lose to the Nets. But when you factor in the absence of Paul Pierce, the nationally televised showdown with the Magic looming on Super Bowl Sunday and the fact that the All-Star beak is right around the corner, this is the kind of effort and focus game everyone has spent so much time talking about.

The Celtics are beginning to get on a nice little role. They’ve won two straight and should make it three against New Jersey. That would give them a chance to calm down all the rumors and innuendo, and there is nothing the veterans on this team like more than calm. A loss would bring all those distractions back into play.

NETS (4-44, 1-9 last 10)

Points Per Game: 90.0

Points Allowed: 101.7

Differential: -11.7 (30th)

Offensive Efficiency: 97.5 (30th)

Defensive Efficiency: 110.2 (27th)

Pace: 92.2 (17th)

Likely Starters: Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez

Injuries: None

CELTICS (31-16, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.3

Points Allowed: 93.8

Differential: +5.6 (3rd)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.8 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.8 (1st)

Pace: 91.5 (22nd)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Tony Allen Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (Thumb), Paul Pierce (Foot) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Nets, Preview,
Daniels feels like Forrest Gump 02.04.10 at 5:32 pm ET
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Marquis Daniels (AP)

Marquis Daniels (AP)

WALTHAM — When Marquis Daniels eventually returns to game action, he shouldn’t be that much out of breath.

That’s because the most versatile player on the roster has been put through a strict running program to make sure he’s in shape once his surgically repaired left thumb is ready for game action.

“I think they did a good job of running me,” Daniels said. “I’ve turned into Forrest Gump a little bit. I’m glad to be back. It feels like the first day of school, very excited. I’m just ready to get back out there and play and be a part of the team and just feel more wanted out there. Hopefully, I can another good practice in and maybe [play] Sunday.”

And while he wasn’t doing much running on Thursday in practice (see below), he was busy learning new plays that coach Doc Rivers has installed in his 27-game absence.

“He put a couple more sets in, but for the most part it’s pretty much the same thing. I just have to learn three positions, the point guard, the 2 and the 3. It’s coming along pretty simple, so hopefully I can pick them up by next practice.”

That next practice will be Saturday, meaning it’s highly unlikely he plays — or is needed for that matter — against New Jersey on Friday. When he does, he wants to be sure his thumb is ready for a hit. If he can take a hit in practice, he believes he’ll be game-ready.

“Just getting hit,” Daniels said Thursday. “Everything else is pretty much mental. I think my conditioning is OK. It’s not the best, but it’s the best it can be without playing basketball. Other than that, once I get that first hit on it, I think I’ll be OK.”

Rivers spent nearly 30 minutes with Daniels and the second unit at the end of practice as he tries to help Daniels get back to speed in time for a possible weekend return to action.

After several days of shooting and basketball-related drills, Thursday marked Daniels’ first practice back with the team.

Daniels said the biggest hurdle for him will be taking a blow to the thumb, which was wrapped in white protective bandage for his first practice back.

“It wasn’t a great practice for him,” Rivers said. “We didn’t do a lot. We didn’t do really anything live, so it wasn’t a great practice for him. Just trying to get him some rhythm, which is good.”

Rivers added that he doubts Daniels will be ready to play against New Jersey on Friday but more likely set for a Sunday return against Orlando.

Read More: Celtics, Marquis Daniels, NBA,
Pierce on injury: ‘It’s not the end of the world’ at 4:22 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Paul Pierce spoke on Thursday for the first time since being diagnosed with a left mid-foot sprain that forced him to miss Wednesday night’s game against Miami and will likely keep him out of action against New Jersey on Friday night.

But the All-Star forward said he has reason to think he might be back by Sunday when the team takes on the Orlando Magic at TD Garden.

“I can walk on it,” Pierce said. “It’s just a basic mid-foot sprain. It’s not the end of the world. I’ve had worse injuries, to tell you the truth. And the good thing about it is I didn’t have to go into a boot. I’m still walking around on it. It’s just about the pain going away. It’s a sprain but it’s not the worst sprain I’ve ever had.”

Pierce said he definitely plans on taking part in the All-Star 3-point shooting contest and is hopeful for the All-Star Game itself on Feb. 14 at Cowboys Stadium.

[Click here to hear a humble Pierce explain why he's planning on going ahead with the All-Star 3-point contest.]

“The foot is getting better every day,” Pierce added. “I’m just doing the necessary treatments to get back on the court as soon as possible. Going by how it feels. The good thing about it over the last couple of days it’s gotten better every day so I’m just taking it a day at a time until I know it’s right.

“It’s tough but I know at this point in my career and understanding my body, I know the most important thing for me right now is just to get healthy. As a younger player I might have pushed it too much and who knows if I might have made the injury even worse. Right now at this age I have to take care of my body and do what’s right and right now the right thing is to get rest.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 3-point shooting contest, Celtics, NBA, NBA All-Star Game
Ray to Rondo: ‘This could be your last shot’ at 12:34 am ET
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Ray Allen (left) enjoys playing with Celtics teammates Rajon Rondo (right) and Paul Pierce and doesn't take it for granted. (AP)

Ray Allen (left) enjoys playing with Celtics teammates Rajon Rondo (right) and Paul Pierce (back) and doesn't take it for granted. (AP)

Ray Allen had a very simple message for his backcourt teammate before Wednesday’s game against Miami.

“I told [Rajon] Rondo earlier, I said this could be his last shot,” Allen said. “I told him, ‘You’ve got 10, 12-plus years left in the NBA, you’re making great money but this could be yours.

“I told him I went to the Eastern Conference finals in Milwaukee and the next year we just assumed we’re going to get back and we didn’t make the playoffs. So, it’s not guaranteed because you did it once or twice. It’s never guaranteed. So, we have to be very selfish about really wanting to be good now and really taking care of our bodies, making sure we hold each other accountable. And doing it in a good way.”

Allen and Rondo have been the focal point this week of trade rumors and locker room chemistry questions. But Allen made it clear following a 107-102 win over the Heat that he wants to go to battle with Rondo and the rest of the Celtics.

“Believe me, there’s not a better group of guys that I think are capable right now,” Allen said. “I’m not looking at our record (31-16), although our record is not too shabby. We have guys here, a roster than can win it.”

[Click here to hear what Allen had to say about wanting to stay with Rondo and his team]

More to the point, Allen sounded like a man who wants desperately to keep the relationships he’s forged over the last three seasons.

“All of these guys in this locker room are my brothers and I’m going to proceed forward that this could be it for all of us and we have to treat this season very specially and know that what comes out of it is what we want to come out of it, and that’s a championship,” he said.

Read More: Celtics, NBA, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen
Third Quarter Wrap: Celtics vs. Heat 02.03.10 at 10:07 pm ET
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The Celtics led by as many as seven points in the quarter, but every time they began to put some distance between them and Miami, the Heat came right back. With the score tied at 74-74, this game looks like it will go right down to the wire.

Rajon Rondo scored eight of his team-high 20 points in the quarter, while Dwyane Wade matched Rondo with eight of his own.

The action came midway through the quarter after Wade got knocked the floor on a long rebound. The Heat players felt that Kendrick Perkins had fouled Wade and Jermaine O’Neal and Rafer Alston got called for technicals.

Turnovers have once again been a problem for the Celtics. They have 14 after three quarters.

Read More: Celtics, Heat,
Doc: At least Rondo’s been listening at 8:42 pm ET
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Doc Rivers initially thought Rajon Rondo’s comments to Boston Herald reporter Steve Bulpett were blown out of proportion.

But upon further review, the Celtics coach said he would have written what Bulpett wrote. Moreover, he was happy with the fact that Rondo has apparently been listening to the coach’s pleas for better team chemistry and singleness of purpose on and off the court.

Here’s what Rivers had to say about Rondo’s thoughts on team chemistry before Wednesday’s game with Miami.

“I don’t mind that,” Rivers said. “There’s better ways of doing that but I don’t mind that. Even the comments he made, I didn’t mind much at all because, for one, it says at least he’s been listening. And that’s always a good thing.”

Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, NBA, Rajon Rondo
Daniels could return Sunday vs. Orlando at 8:17 pm ET
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Marquis Daniels confirmed before Wednesday’s game that he will return to practice on Thursday for the first time since having surgery on his left thumb in early December.

Head coach Doc Rivers said he could possibly return on Sunday against Orlando but the more realistic date is next Wednesday in New Orleans against the Hornets. Rivers said he will not rush Daniels back just because Paul Pierce is questionable and day-to-day with a left mid-foot sprain.

Read More: Celtics, Marquis Daniels, NBA,
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