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Doc: ‘Slight’ chance Daniels returns before break 01.25.10 at 7:21 pm ET
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Marquis Daniels (AP)

Marquis Daniels (AP)

BOSTON — Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before Monday’s game that Marquis Daniels could return before the All-Star break.

Monday was the 22nd straight game that Daniels missed following surgery on his left thumb. Initially, the Celtics didn’t anticipate his return until after the All-Star break, but if a checkup goes well on Tuesday, some basketball activities could be in the offing followed by practice, and then, games.

“We’ll find out more [Tuesday] about Marquis,” Rivers said. “We’re hoping first game after the All-Star break.

“There’s a slight chance he may be able to play by the New Orleans game [Feb. 10], which would be a huge benefit for him because he gets one game in before which helps him once we come out of break. We’re out of break on the West Coast, so we want to come out of break playing well.”

Meanwhile, Brian Scalabrine, who missed his second game on Monday with a separated right shoulder, is expected to miss a week.

He also will be re-evaluated on Tuesday.

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No more ‘Big Baby’ at 7:14 pm ET
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Glen Davis (AP)

Glen Davis (AP)

It took a broken thumb and a $25,000 fine to convince Glen Davis to shed the identity he carried into the NBA.

But now, Davis wants a new nickname. He wants to leave Big Baby behind.

“I’m not a Big Baby anymore,” he said. “ I’m not feeling that anymore. You got that? No more Big Baby.”

So what does he have in mind?

“Call me ‘Uno Uno!’ Yeah, I like that,” he exclaimed after a reporter suggested the moniker. “‘Uno Uno,’ that’s my new name.”

Big Baby represents a past from which Davis wants to move on. It’s a past that includes fighting in a car during the preseason and yelling obscenities at a fan just last week. He appreciates the opportunities he has been given by the Celtics organization and never wants to revert back to the player who had to be granted second – and third – chances.

“Being Big Baby, I just realized throughout my life I’ve been called Big Baby, and throughout my life I’ve been going through different changes. So really, I’m not Big Baby,” he explained. “You know, it’s like I’m in a cocoon and now I’m coming out as a different player and as a different person also. Basically just the fact that the new person is growth, so you want to shed that Big Baby off. You want to be perceived as something else, not the past.”

To Rivers, Davis’ personality has nothing to do with the name he goes by. Regardless of whether or not he is Big Baby or Uno Uno, he is still a young player who is learning his way in the league. Davis asked that fans believe he is not a bad person or a troublemaker, and Rivers echoed his request.

“He’s young, that’s the one thing I keep saying about him,” he said. “He has to grow up in front of a lot of people where most people his age don’t. He’s not a bad kid. We just have to give him time. Some you don’t, some you do and he’s one you do.”

So while Davis figures out who he is and who he is going to become in the NBA, he is turning to his veteran teammates for advice along the way.

“I look up to a lot of these players on this team and Ray Allen gave me some great advice,” he said. “The 26-year-old man has to think for the 36-year-old man. The 36-year-old man has to think for the 46-year-old man. So every decision I make is more than just today.”

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Marcus Camby all grown up at 10:41 am ET
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WALTHAM — Marcus Camby has come a long way from his days at the University of Massachusetts.

He is no longer just a lanky, talented big man in the middle. He is widely regarded as one of  the best defensive post players in the league.

Camby led the John Calipari-coached Minutemen to the 1996 Final Four and was the second overall pick in the first round by the Toronto Raptors. And yes, he showed signs of dominating his Atlantic-10 competition. And yes, he set the career record with 43 blocked shots in 11 NCAA tourney games.

But then trouble hit. Following his junior season, the Hartford native was tied to two sports agents, a scandal that eventually led to the NCAA stripping UMass of its Final Four appearance in its record books. He had no future left at UMass and declared for the NBA draft as a junior.

After two seasons in Toronto, he led the Knicks to the NBA Finals against the Spurs in 1999. But that was his highlight as he played four seasons in New York before being dealt to Denver. He spent six seasons in the Rockies, earning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in 2007. Another trade in the summer of 2008 landed him in Los Angeles, where he’s now in his second season with the Clippers.

Camby, who turns 36 on March 22, is one of the best defenders in the best basketball league in the world. A close look at the numbers shows that.

He is third in the NBA in the rebounding, grabbing 12.0 boards per contest. He has been in double figures in eight of 11 games this month, including 20 or more rebounds twice.

In a Jan. 20 win over the Bulls, Camby pulled down 25 rebounds. Exactly a week earlier, he had 20 rebounds in a loss at Memphis.

Then on Sunday, in a win over the Wizards in Washington, Camby had 19 rebounds while showing he is also one of the best shot-blockers in the game (see below).

But listen to Doc Rivers and he’ll tell you that Camby also can get it done on the offensive side.

“We say he’s overlooked, but it was three years ago, he was Defensive Player of the Year,” Rivers said. “So, he’s not that overlooked. Where I think people sleep on him is he is a far better offensive player than you think because he can make that little elbow jump shot.”

The Celtics won’t be overlooking No. 23 when he steps on the “Red Auerbach Parquet” at TD Garden.

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Preview: Celtics-Clippers at 10:39 am ET
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The second half of the season begins with what might be the most important week the Celtics will have in the regular season. They start with the Clippers but then run through a back-to-back session with Orlando and Atlanta and finish with a home showdown against the Lakers on Sunday afternoon.

With Kevin Garnett back in the lineup, it’s time to seriously consider how good the Celtics are, and whether Danny Ainge needs to make a move to shore up the roster for the stretch run. How well they do this week, and how well Garnett holds up, should help fill in some of the blanks in terms of what this team needs.

The two primary areas of concern are turnovers and defensive rebounding. They have lived with being a high-turnover team in the past, mainly because they shoot the ball so well and they have also been among the best teams in the league in rebounding. They still are a great shooting team, but by giving away so many possessions, and failing to recover them on the defensive end, their shooting isn’t the cure-all that it’s been in the past. For that reason, another big man would probably make sense, but there aren’t any P.J. Browns out there right now.

Tonight’s game is a chance to provide some breathing room in what will be an arduous test.

CLIPPERS (20-23, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 96.2

Points Allowed: 98.7

Differential: -2.5 (20th)

Offensive Efficiency: 104.5 (23rd)

Defensive Efficiency: 107.3 (18th)

Pace: 91.8 (20th)

Likely Starters: Baron Davis, Rasual Butler, Al Thornton, Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman

Injuries: Eric Gordon (toe, questionable), Blake Griffin (knee), Sebastian Telfair (groin).

CELTICS (28-13, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.8

Points Allowed: 93.8

Differential: +6.0 (Third)

Offensive Efficiency: 108.1 (12th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.6 (Second)

Pace: 91.6 (22nd)

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

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (thumb) Read the rest of this entry »

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Car & Driver: Garnett cruises through practice 01.24.10 at 6:25 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  No, Doc Rivers didn’t have a 1976 Pinto in his younger years. He had a Buick Skylark.

Skylark vs. Pinto. Who you got?

Skylark vs. Pinto: Who you got?

“I didn’t have a Pinto, that’s for sure,” Rivers said Sunday, two days after Kevin Garnett compared himself to a mid-’70s Pinto. “I didn’t have a back seat in my car, but that’s good. I was driving in front.

“It was burned somehow. Mysteriously, the back seat caught on fire and my dad wouldn’t replace it. So, I had to drive around with a Skylark. It only had the front seat. You could see the trunk through the back seat. No double dates. So, that’s that my car story. It smelled like smoke and that’s the way it was.”

Garnett apparently was on to something when he drew an analogy to an old beat-up mid-’70s economy car to describe his physical condition following Friday’s game — his first since a hyperextended right knee forced him to the sideline for 10 games.

“Some minor adjustments to it and it’s ready to roll,” Garnett said. “Tires changed, transmission checked and everything is pretty much where it needs to be. But at the same time, it’s still, it’s a ’76 vs. a ’10. That’s what it is.”

That was Garnett’s way of saying he had a little bit of rust but feels ready to get back to action on Monday after scoring 13 points, hauling in two rebounds and dishing out three assists in 30 minutes of action in Friday’s overtime win against Portland.

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Ray on tough week: ‘It an us project right now’ at 5:03 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  Whether it’s Doc Rivers, Ray Allen or Kevin Garnett, everyone associated with the Celtics is capable of understanding the challenge of them in the next 10 days.

The Celtics host the Clippers on Monday night, a team that beat them in late December. They have two days off and then play at Orlando and Atlanta on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Then they welcome the defending champion Lakers on Sunday the 31st to the Garden, followed the next day by a game in Washington.

The tough stretch ends with a game at home against Miami a week from Wednesday.

“From a schedule prospective, it looks daunting because we’re playing some of the better teams in the league,” Allen said. “Right now, it’s an ‘us’ project, just focusing on the small, little things that we’ve done to be successful, the things we’ve done to build this team to where it is right now.”

Rivers did acknowledge that his only concern with playing Garnett in the next two weeks are in the second game of back-to-back contests.

“The games that I’m concerned with Kevin will be the Atlanta game because it comes off a tough back-to-back with Orlando and then the Washington game because it comes off a tough Laker game,” Rivers said. “Those the only two games in the next eight or nine days I have concern.

Rivers repeated on Sunday following practice that Garnett looks strong in practice and he has no concern about the health of Garnett’s right knee. Rivers said his only concern is Garnett’s conditioning.

The Celtics are comfortably ahead in the Atlantic Division with a mark of 28-13. They have nine games before the All-Star break.

“We look forward to the whole week,” Allen said. “We know we’re winding down to the All-Star break.”

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Doc ‘has no problem’ with All-Star Iverson at 2:05 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers is all for Rajon Rondo making the All-Star team. But he made it clear on Sunday that he has no beef with the fans who voted Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson one of the starting guards along with Miami’s Dwayne Wade for the upcoming All-Star Game in Arlington, Texas.

“The fans voted him,” Rivers said. “I have no problem with it. I disagree with the people who say that he should not play. I think he should play. I think the fans have said they want to see him play. It may be because of this year. It may be because of his career. He’s earned that through his career. If the fans want to see him, they want to see him.

“They don’t get a lot of them wrong when you think about it. Maybe every two or three years, one guy is on there that you think maybe shouldn’t be out of the 10 they put on. I don’t think it’s a bad thing.”

Does Rivers think Rondo could be distracted by the fact that All-Star reserves are announced on Thursday?

“The good news is that there will only be one game in that time frame,” Rivers said. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make it. That’s human nature, as long as you keep playing and doing your job. Like I’ve found and I’ve told him this and all of them this: When you do make it, it’s an honor, but the games don’t stop. You still have to prove yourself the next day and then you’re more of a target.”

That one game is Monday night when the Celtics try to make it two in a row at the TD Garden against the Los Angeles Clippers, the same team that beat them, 92-90, on Dec. 27 at Staples Center.

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