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KG still finding his way 01.31.10 at 5:06 pm ET
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BOSTON — It’s pretty obvious Kevin Garnett is not the same player he was two years ago when he was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the centerpiece of Boston’s run to a 17th NBA title.

Surgery to remove bone spurs behind his right knee last summer and a hyperextended right knee suffered late in December has slowed his return to form.

Doc Rivers still believes Garnett can get back to the top defensively ‘€” hopefully taking the Celtics along for the ride. More than that, he still expects it.

‘€œI can [expect Garnett back to form], but not right now,” Rivers said conditionally. “But really, none of our guys who have come back, you can’€™t hold any of them to their normal standards right now. Our biggest issue with our injuries is that they’€™re healthy but they’€™re not ready to play basketball at this level yet.

Paul [Pierce] had his first big game in Atlanta since he’€™s been back. Kevin is still [getting back]. The key is you still have to play them the minutes. The only way they’€™re going to get back is by keeping them on the floor and let them get their minutes. The tough part is while you’€™re doing that, the team struggles a little bit.’€

[Click here to hear Doc Rivers talk about Garnett’s return.]

Rivers has maintained all along that the Celtics need Garnett back to form late in the spring ‘€” when the season truly is on the line. In the meantime, they’ll have to live with the inconsistencies.

‘€œI think he can do it,” Rivers said of Garnett returning to form. “The No. 1 thing is getting them back to that level. I just think it’€™s more timing. When you look at Kevin, it’€™s amazing watching him. The Orlando game, his timing was completely off the entire game. Then the Atlanta game, all of sudden he had good timing.

“I just think it’€™s going to be that way for a while. The guy it’€™s most frustrating to is him because he’€™s knows it. The Orlando game at halftime, I thought he was going to beat himself up if he could, because he knew it. He was trying to talk himself into slowing down. I was just telling him, ‘€˜Just play. It is what it is. It’€™s going to happen for you. You just have to keep playing.’€™ ‘€

Read More: Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA,
Doc on Lakers: ‘Better than last year’ at 3:51 pm ET
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BOSTON  —  Doc Rivers knows how tough it is to repeat. The Celtics won the title in 2008 and won 66 games.

Last year, the Celtics won 62 but lost in seven games to the Magic in the Eastern Conference semifinals when being without Kevin Garnett proved to be just too much to overcome.

Instead of a repeat, the Lakers won the title. And before Sunday’s game, Rivers sounded just a tad envious because instead of losing two key players like Boston lost in James Posey and P.J. Brown, the Lakers added Ron Artest, Shannon Brown and a healthy Andrew Bynum.

‘€œI think having won the title, having the same title back , adding Artest, that continuity and health I think those have been three pretty good things for them,” Rivers said. “Gasol has been in and out for them, which hurt them early in the year, too. It’€™s rare when you get a championship team that adds to their team and they did. You don’€™t see that very often. People are taking away from championship teams. It’€™s rare that they come back better and they’€™re better than last year.

‘€œI thought we took away from it. Losing Posey hurt us, losing P.J. Brown hurt us. But I think we’€™ve addressed that. Bringing in Marquis this year, bringing in Rasheed this year.”

[Click here to listen to Rivers compare his 2009 Celtics to the 2010 Lakers, teams attempting to defend a title.]

Read More: Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, NBA
Preview: Celtics-Hawks 01.29.10 at 10:18 am ET
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Kevin Garnett insisted to one and all Thursday night that he wasn’t hurt and that he just played like a euphemism for garbage. Certainly Garnett is entitled to an off night just three games into his comeback, but the problem is that no one really believes him.

Because of the way his comeback ended last season and because of the way his injuries were handled this season (10 days, 10 more days, etc.), he and the Celtics, frankly, don’t have a lot of credibility on the issue. However, Garnett had a string of lackluster performances earlier in the season where he looked slow and old and then rebounded to play his best stretch in over a calendar year. So, perhaps there’s hope that Thursday was just a momentary blip.

We should find out a lot Friday night when the Celtics play the Hawks and Garnett matches up against what should be a highly-motivated Josh Smith. Not only is it the second game of a back-to-back, but Garnett will be facing a player who is a decade younger and who should be (justifiably) ticked that he was left off the All-Star team. If you’re on the KG watch, it starts tonight.

CELTICS (29-14, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.6

Points Allowed: 93.7

Differential: +5.9 (3rd)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.9 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.6 (1st)

Pace: 91.6 (22nd)

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

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (thumb)

HAWKS (29-15, 7-3 last 10)

Points Per Game: 102.6

Points Allowed: 97.3

Differential: +5.3 (Fifth)

Offensive Efficiency: 111.9 (3rd)

Defensive Efficiency: 106.1 (12th)

Pace: 91.1 (25th)

Likely Starters: Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Al Horford

Injuries: None Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Hawks, Preview,
Fast break: Celtics-Magic 01.28.10 at 11:06 pm ET
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This is what it takes to win on the road against good teams in the NBA. The Celtics outplayed the Magic for three and a half quarters, but a combination of hot shooting and a one-sided free throw discrepency allowed Orlando to get back into the game.

Down the stretch the Celtics seemed to make all the right plays. Rajon Rondo stole a possession by diving on the floor and outhustling Vince Carter. Rondo then scored on a tough drive to the hoop to give the Celtics a three-point lead with less than a minute to play. They did everything right, and then they lost it in the final 34 seconds.

The Celtics lost 96-94 after Rashard Lewis drove around Kevin Garnett on a busted play, while Rasheed Wallace’s weakside help  was two steps too late. They lost after J.J. Redick made an improbable 3-pointer to tie the game seconds earlier. They lost after the Magic took 40 free throws to the Celtics 18, and they lost after two Eddie House 3-pointers were changed to 2’s.

After all that the Celtics still had a chance to come away with the victory, but Wallace’s 3-pointer at the buzzer sailed wide of the basket. It was a solid, even inspired performance for about 40 of the game’s 48 minutes, but it still wasn’t enough to get the win.

Player of the Game: Rashard Lewis made big shot after big shot for the Magic, but none was bigger than his drive to the hoop in the final seconds. The Celtics actually played good defense on the play as Paul Pierce denied Carter a chance to get the ball, which found its way into Lewis’ hands instead. He drove right around Garnett and laid in the winning points.

Turning Point: Stan Van Gundy made the biggest coaching move of the night, literally, when he brought Marcin Gortat into the game with Dwight Howard and played Lewis at the 3-spot. The Magic were down by double digits when Van Gundy went to the super-sized lineup, but took the lead late in the fourth quarter.

* Kendrick Perkins spent the majority of the first half in foul trouble, but so did Dwight Howard. Call it a draw.

* Orlando had just one assist in the first half and shot 33 percent.

* The Magic cut the Celtics lead to just six points midway through the first half. Then Brian Scalabrine knocked down a corner 3-pointer. On the next possession, Ray Allen hit from long distance on transition and the lead was back up to 12. This pattern repeated itself in the third quarter, but the Celtics once again made shots at the right time. Eddie House buried a 3-pointer with just over a second remaining to put the Celtics up 12 going into the fourth quarter.

* Wallace picked up a technical foul for yelling, “And one,” after a made basket. He also unleashed the loudest “BALL DON’T LIE,” of the season. Unofficially.

* Allen had a bounceback shooting night, going 8-for-12 and 4-for-8 from 3-point range. But he missed a shot that could have put the Celtics ahead late in the game.

Read More: Celtics, Fast Break, Magic,
Preview: Celtics-Magic at 10:31 am ET
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During the course of a long season it is customary for players and coaches to downplay significant games on the schedule. In the matter of the Celtics‘ three-game stretch that begins tonight in Orlando, continues Friday in Atlanta and concludes back home on Sunday against the Lakers, a curious thing has happened. Everyone connected with the Celtics seems to view these games as meaningful and important.

“We understand that these are three great games to be able to play,” Doc Rivers said Wednesday on Dennis & Callahan. “Coaches look forward to them and players look forward to them as well. Once they’€™re over then they become one of the 82. There’€™s no doubt that players look forward to them.”

Danny Ainge also acknowledged their importance. “I think it will tell us a lot about our depth, our conditioning and the quality of our play right now,” he said on The Big Show.

Each game has its own personality. The Magic offer the most compelling 1-through-5 matchups, while the Hawks present their in-season mastery of the Celtics as a hurdle to climb. The Lakers provide their own drama, of course. This is not a make-or-break stretch for the Celtics by any means, but it will reveal something about who they are and where they are going.

CELTICS (29-13, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.7

Points Allowed: 93.7

Differential: +6.0 (3rd)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.9 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.4 (1st)

Pace: 91.7 (22nd)

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

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (thumb), Brian Scalabrine (shoulder)

MAGIC (29-16, 505 last 10)

Points Per Game: 101.1

Points Allowed: 96.3

Differential: +4.8 (7th)

Offensive Efficiency: 108.4 (11th)

Defensive Efficiency: 103.2 (5th)

Pace: 93.1 (12th)

Likely Starters: Jameer Nelson, Matt Barnes, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard

Injuries: None Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Magic, Preview,
How Rondo is like Brett Favre 01.26.10 at 9:57 pm ET
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WALTHAM ‘€” Celtics coach Doc Rivers wants his supremely talented point guard to get downright defensive.

Rivers has spent the last three years trying to instill in Rajon Rondo the kind of traits Rivers used to gain a reputation as one of the best defensive guards in the NBA in the 1980s.

Right now, Rivers knows the reputation Rondo has around the league. Go at Rondo and make him try to stop you, since defense hasn’t always come naturally for the guard. On Tuesday, following practice, Rivers drew a analogy between Rondo and another pro athlete.

“I think teams try to go at Rondo because of his size and because they want to try and get him to gamble,” Rivers said. “It’s like trying to make Brett Favre try and throw across his body. It’s who you are, and teams know that and try to take advantage of that.”

[Click here to hear Doc Rivers talk about how defense led to Rondo’s development into a possible All-Star]

Like Favre on Sunday with an ill-advised cross-body pass that was picked, Rondo’s season came to a bitter end in Game 7 last spring against the Orlando Magic, a game in which some critics felt Rondo hurt the team by constantly gambling for steals instead of playing solid defense on Orlando’s dangerous backcourt. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, NBA, nfl, Packers
Glen Davis: Don’t play if you’re not a competitor at 7:44 pm ET
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WALTHAM  —  The Celtics leave Wednesday morning to begin one of their toughest four-day stretches of the season. On Thursday, they play in Orlando, followed by a road game in Atlanta the next night.

They return home on Sunday to host Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. All three teams have a combined 91 wins entering Tuesday’s play.

‘€œHuge,” Glen Davis said of the week. “These are big, big, big games. If you’€™re not a competitor, you don’€™t need to play in these games. This is a great opportunity for us to keep our win streak alive and also get better with playoff-contending teams. We’€™re looking forward to the challenge. Every game is big but these games are bigger.’€

Speaking of Davis, he said he is on a new path when it comes to his former moniker – ‘Big Baby’

‘€œBig Baby will always be a part of me. But I’€™m going to put Big Baby on the shelf ‘€“ for now,’€ he said.

Asked why Davis, No. 11,  is leaning toward ‘Uno, Uno’ as a new nickname, Davis pointed toward Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. Davis doesn’t feel the need to formally change his last name, just his handle.

“Every sport has their version of nicknames,” Davis said. “He paved the way. Knock off or not, I’m a different player than Ochocinco. He plays football. I play basketball.”

Davis wouldn’t be the first pro athlete in Boston to follow the Cincinnati receiver’s lead. In 2008, Jonathan Papelbon had ‘Cinco Ocho’ T-shirts made up sporting the reverse of the famous wide receiver, and representing the No. 58 on the back of Papelbon’s uniform.

Read More: Celtics, Glen Davis, NBA,
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