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Preview: Celtics-Hawks 01.08.10 at 11:04 am ET
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By now we’ve all had a chance to watch and re-watch the inbound play that resulted in a layup for Rajon Rondo and helped the Celtics take Miami to overtime, where they eventually won. (If not, Jess has an excellent re-cap of Doc Rivers explaining the ins and outs on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday). The whole thing was wonderfully executed from Paul Pierce’s pass (“Paul is the only guy that can make the pass,” Rivers said.) to Glen Davis‘ screen that sprung Rondo to Rondo’s finish at the rim.

All of which brings up an interesting point. Rivers is generally acknowledged at a master of designing plays coming out of timeouts. That’s an anecdotal observation. It would be hard to track such a thing without watching tons of game tape from around the league. It might be possible to tell how successful a team was coming out of timeouts and tracing that back to the coach, but what if something hadn’t quite worked on that play? What if Rondo’s tip spun in and out? It was still a great play call.

A few seconds earlier Rivers had Ray Allen isolated at the top of the key. Dwyane Wade stripped Allen and went in for a dunk. We have no idea what play Rivers had drawn up because Allen never got a chance to run it. But on balance, we’ve seen the Celtics score many points of out of timeouts with well-designed calls. (As an aside: One of the best I’ve ever seen at it was Villanova women’s coach Harry Perretta. He shared some of his plays with Pat Summitt who used them to help win a national championship.)

It’s interesting that some coaches don’t seem to even want to try to take advantage of the situation. George Karl rather famously doesn’t have inbound plays at least until Chauncey Billups demand that he draw some up. The Wizards were running a promotion to have a fan draw up an inbound play, which seems ridiculous. But they’ve got other problems right now.

At the very least, it’s to Rivers credit that he takes these situations seriously and does what he can to put his team in a position to make succeed.

CELTICS (25-8, 6-4 last 10)

Points Per Game: 100.9

Points Allowed: 92.3

Differential: +7.7

Offensive Efficiency: 108.9 (10th)

Defensive Efficiency: 100.6 (First)

Pace: 92.0 (19th)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Kevin Garnett (hyper-extended knee), Marquis Daniels (thumb), Eddie House (flu, questionable)

HAWKS (22-12, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 104.4

Points Allowed: 97.8

Differential: +6.6 (Fourth)

Offensive Efficiency: 112.7 (Second)

Defensive Efficiency: 105.5 (12th)

Pace: 91.8 (22nd)

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

Injuries: None. Read the rest of this entry »

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Celtics practice ‘good and bad’ 01.04.10 at 3:36 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  The Celtics have already proven they can beat a lesser team on the parquet of TD Garden without Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. But on Wednesday, they might have to do the same against the Miami Heat on the road.

Rondo [left hamstring], Pierce and Garnett [both right knees] were all observers again on Monday as Tony Allen, J.R. Giddens and Rasheed Wallace filled in during practice.

“Practice was good and bad,” said Tom Thibodeau, who was filling in for Doc Rivers. “Normally, coming off a day off, it’s a little sloppy but the intensity was good and the intentions were good.”

Read between those lines and the man who ran practice for Rivers on Monday was trying to be kind to the healthy players who are trying to get ready for Miami without Garnett and possibly Rondo and Pierce missing again.

The coaching staff will gather with the players and trainer Ed Lacerte on Tuesday before their flight to Miami and make a determination if it’s even worth traveling the players.

“I didn’t talk to Eddie today,” Thibodeau said. “[Rondo] came out and coaching and involved and he’s chomping at the bit. I assume he’s feeling better but I don’t know that he’s ready yet.

“Paul was moving around and did some shooting and things like that. He’s feeling pretty good. He’s improving day by day.”

Meanwhile, Garnett was spotted lifting weights and conditioning while he recovers from a sore right knee that has him like out another week.

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Pierce, Rondo question marks for Miami at 3:05 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo took some shots and did some light running but didn’t practice with the Celtics on Monday.

Assistant Tom Thibodeau, who filled in for Doc Rivers, ran practice and said Pierce and Rondo are day-to-day with right knee and left hamstring issues, respectively.

Thibodeau said no decision has been made on whether Pierce would travel with the team to Miami for Wednesday’s game against the Heat.

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‘Personal matter’ keeps Doc from practice at 1:46 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  Head coach Doc Rivers was not at Celtics practice on Monday as he tended to a personal matter, according to team spokesman Jeff Twiss.

Rivers is expected back at practice on Tuesday and is expected to travel with the team to Miami for Wednesday’s game against the Heat.

Assistant Tom Thibodeau ran practice in Rivers’ place.

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Rasheed: We had guys step up 01.03.10 at 3:01 am ET
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Rasheed Wallace has been around the NBA long enough to know not to get discouraged even when times look most bleak.

Another valuable lesson was taught Saturday night and it was Wallace and the Celtics schooling the Toronto Raptors, making the visitors North of the border look woefully unprepared for the woefully undermanned Celtics. Even without Paul Pierce [right knee], Kevin Garnett [right knee] and Rajon Rondo [left hamstring], the Celtics led virtually from the beginning of the game.

Here’s a sample of what Wallace and Celtics coach Doc Rivers had to say after they snapped a three-game skid with a 103-96 win over the Raptors.

Doc Rivers said his team had the right attitude on Saturday after dropping three straight.

Rivers said Wallace was huge in picking up the slack of the three missing starters.

Rivers said his reserves kept it simple, providing the key to victory.

Rasheed Wallace said they had guys step up on Saturday.

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Another bump and bruise for T.Allen at 2:24 am ET
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The last thing the Celtics needed was another injury to a player who is already filling in for an injured starter. Tony Allen said he hyperextended his left shoulder when he collided with Marcus Banks, who was setting a screen as Allen was going for a steal on Hedo Turkoglu late in the fourth quarter of Boston’s win over Toronto at TD Garden on Saturday night.

“It hyperextended when I tried to get the steal and Marcus Banks came in with the screen,” Allen said. “I don’t think he meant anything bad by it.”

Allen, who started in place of Rajon Rondo, said he will come in and get stimulation treatment on the shoulder on Sunday and should be ready to go for practice on Monday in Waltham.

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Fast Break: Celtics-Raptors 01.02.10 at 10:04 pm ET
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In truth, no one really knew what to expect when the Celtics took on the Raptors Saturday night featuring a starting lineup that included Tony Allen (playing point guard, no less) and J.R. Giddens. Add in Rasheed Wallace in place of Kevin Garnett and a bench that had six healthy players, including Bill Walker and Lester Hudson, and well, what right did anyone have to expect the Celtics to beat the resurgent Raptors?

They did, 103-96, and they’ll take it of course after a tumultuous week in which they lost three straight games and Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Garnett to injury. Any win right now is huge.

The Celtics now have four days to try and get something that resembles a healthy team in place for a road trip that will have them go to Miami, Atlanta and then Toronto. At this point, no one really knows who among the trio will be healthy enough to play against the Heat, although Pierce and Rondo would be the best guess. Garnett is likely to be out longer.

But for one night, the Celtics were able to steal a victory that was all the more satisfying against a division rival with their makeshift lineup.

Player of the Game: Rasheed Wallace. The Celtics began the game by feeding Wallace in the post and Wallace promptly banked in a jumper over Chris Bosh. It was a sign of things to come for Wallace who used his inside and outside game to play maybe his best game in a Celtic uniform. Wallace finished with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists, and he and Kendrick Perkins took turns making Bosh work for his offense.

Turning Point: After a competitive, but ragged, first quarter, the Celtics bench helped push the lead into double-digits in the second. Led primarily by Glen Davis, who had his best game since returning from injury, Eddie House and rookie Lester Hudson the Celtics reserves shot 7-for-13 in the quarter.

* Giddens got his first career start, but Hudson was the best of the so-called Celtics “kids.” Fresh off a stint in the D-League, Hudson looked calm and confident running the team. Bill Walker did not play.

* Wallace and Hedo Turkoglu picked up double technicals in the second quarter. It was the 11th technical of the season called on Wallace, putting him five away from an automatic suspension.

* Tony Allen had the dunk of the night, blowing by Bosh and jamming it home against an unguarded basket. Toronto’s defensive shortcomings have to be seen to be believed. Later in the fourth quarter, Wallace spun around Andrea Bargnani and easily beat him baseline with no help coming for a huge dunk.

* The Celtics had six players score in double figures led by Ray Allen who scored 23 of the quietest points he’s scored in his career. Tony Allen also had his best game of the season with 14 points, five rebounds and seven assists.

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