|Will Shav Randolph be a playoff factor for Celtics?||04.06.13 at 11:10 am ET|
With injury comes opportunity. It’s one of the oldest cliches in sports.
It’s also an interesting thought when considering the options in front of Doc Rivers as he tries to ready his Celtics for another playoff run.
Has the play of someone like unheralded power forward Shavlik Randolph opened Rivers’ eyes and those of the coaching staff enough to warrant serious consideration in the playoff rotation?
After a career-high 16 points and seven rebounds, providing the only real energy off the bench in Friday’s loss to Cleveland, Rivers was asked where Randolph fits in during the playoffs, when benches are shortened and playing time is at a premium.
“I don’t know,” Rivers said. “He’s playing great. Just leave it at that; he’s just playing great basketball and we’re going to keep playing him.”
“I was just rolling to the basket and guys were finding me,” Randolph said. “It’s simple as that, I was getting good passes. Putting me in positions where I could finish around the rim. I wasn’t really making any tough shots. My teammates were finding me.”
On the surface, that sounds like the coach is hedging his bets on whether there will be any time at all for the Duke product, considering if Kevin Garnett is healthy, Wilcox heads back to the bench and Rivers already has Brandon Bass already starting on the front court.
In eight games without Garnett, Randolph has averaged just over five points and 4.5 rebounds while playing about 13 minutes per game.
“Well, it’s the mindset I’ve had probably for the past six or seven games,” Randolph said. “I know I’m going to get in there at some point. I just have to play as high energy as possible, you know come in with that second unit and make sure that the energy doesn’t drop off from the starting unit. You know that’s what I’ve tried to do since I got here.”
He certainly didn’t get the benefit of the doubt on calls Friday night, when he fouled out with six minutes left.
“You know, just try to keep my composure,” he said. “In a game you’re not always going to agree with the calls, that’s just the nature of the game. You just got to keep playing. If you foul out, then you just try to cheer your teammates on. You know, that’s what I tried to do.”
Does he think he’s shown enough on and off the court to warrant serious playing time in the playoffs?
“That’s a great question. All I know, is I’ll be ready, regardless. I’ll be ready to go in, regardless of what my role might be.”
|Doc Rivers: Rajon Rondo lower assist totals ‘just one of those stretches’||01.14.13 at 8:08 pm ET|
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers says he is not overly concerned about the lower assist totals of point guard Rajon Rondo in the last three weeks. Entering Monday’s game, Rondo averaged 8.3 assists over his last 12 games. He recorded double-digit assist totals in just four of those games.
“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll call [assistant GM, team counsel and stat guru] Mike Zarren and figure it out,” Rivers laughed. “Honestly, bench is playing really well and his minutes are down over the stretch as well. Ball movement is better and maybe it’s a by-product of that, but we can do that and he can still have high assist games as well. It’s just one of those stretches.”
Rivers also spoke about not taking the 9-27 Bobcats lightly. Charlotte started out the season 7-5 before losing 22 of their last 24 coming into Monday’s game in Boston. Rivers also confirmed that big-man Chris Wilcox (thumb) is getting closer to returning, and would dress but not play in Monday’s game as the Celtics need to dress 12 players for the game.
|Chris Wilcox: Secret to the Rajon Rondo alley-oop||11.25.12 at 2:55 pm ET|
The secret to that Rajon Rondo-to-Chris Wilcox alley-oop that’s been so successful — despite just 33 games together as Celtics teammates — really isn’t all that complicated.
“It is what it is, man,” said Wilcox, whose averaging 13.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per 36 minutes. “I’m playing hard, just trying to be in the right spot at the right time, and good things happen. His No. 1 goal is to find us, to find the open man. All I do is just make it easier for myself and get to the right spot at the right time.”
Remarkably, 19 of Wilcox’s 21 field goals this season have come at the rim, where he’s making 86.4 percent of his shots (19-22 FG), and 15 of them have come from assists. The other four? All from offensive rebounds. He’s made a living from scoring around the basket — honing his alley-oop skills from guys like Andre Miller and Sam Cassell on the Clippers as well as Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson on the Sonics — but never like this.
“Rondo’s one of a kind,” said Wilcox.” I’ve been with some great point guards — Andre Miller, Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson — and they were basically the same kind of point guards. You just get to the right spot and good things happen. I’m just out there trying to be aggressive and trying to make things easier for him.”
|Chris Wilcox: Wednesday’s performance ‘motivation for me to keep going’||11.08.12 at 1:54 am ET|
Chris Wilcox doesn’t know when he’s getting into a game or for how long, so he’s come up with a motto to keep him fresh.
“If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,” Wilcox said after the Celtics’ 100-94 overtime win over the Wizards. “That’s my motto and that’s what I go by. I just go and work out hard and do whatever I’ve got to do, so when my number is called I’ll be right in the rotation and do exactly what the coach wants me to do.”
Wilcox stayed ready on Wednesday, as he came in with just over three minutes left in the third quarter and made the most of the four minutes he played. The power forward made his presence felt right away by blocking a Kevin Seraphin jump shot and drawing a foul on Jan Vesely to set up a pair of successful free throws. After a Rajon Rondo steal, Wilcox put in a layup on which he was fouled, though he failed to make it a three-point play.
That missed free throw proved to be Wilcox’ only blemish on the night, as he dew another another foul late in the third and made both free throws. By the time he returned to the bench early in the fourth quarter, he had six points and two rebounds to go with his block, and the Celtics were a plus-8 with him on the floor.
Wilcox, of course, was limited to 28 games last season by a heart irregularity, as he and teammate Jeff Green both underwent heart surgery for their conditions. He’s still easing his way back in after back issues in the preseason, but both Wilcox and his teammates can look at Wednesday’s performance as encouraging.
“I thought Chris played great for us tonight. He gave us great minutes,” said Kevin Garnett. “For he and Jeff, knowing their story, knowing their journey, it’s inspirational to be honest with everybody here. To get a chance to see someone still get a chance to do something that they love and do it passionately is moving, and I’m just glad he had a great night. He was able to help us, and I thought he turned the game around.”
Said Wilcox: “I’m trying to get back there. I’m not 100 percent where I want to be, but great things like this happen, and that’s motivation for me to keep going. Like I said, I just have to stay ready so I don’t have to get ready.”
|Take your pick, Celtics most unselfish team in NBA||10.27.12 at 9:43 am ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics under Doc Rivers have made no secret about the key to their success on offense.
Set screens and picks, get your teammate open and the points will follow.
Kevin Garnett is the supreme example and symbol of this philosophy.
Watch Garnett away from the ball during a game and you’ll realize that one of his greatest skills is setting picks. But it’s not just Garnett now. New faces like Darko Milicic, Jared Sullinger and even Jason Terry have been brought in this season. And every single one of them understand the first principle of Celtics offense – do whatever necessary to get your teammate open.
“This is maybe the best pick-setting team,” Rivers said Friday, when asked where this team ranks in terms of setting screens and picks. “Darko loves to pick. Kevin is the best picker in the league. Jared is a good picker.
“JET, surprisingly, if [he's] not the best picker on the team, he’s right there with Kevin. He’s a small, but he loves setting picks. That’s what he did in Dallas with [Dirk Nowitzki], so we’re going to do it here for him.”
Someone who was around last season is big man Chris Wilcox and he sees the value in having Garnett set such a strong, physical example.
“KG shows us every day what we need to do,” said Wilcox. “So all we’ve got to do is just follow his lead and everything else will fall into place. We’ve got to set picks. It’s going to open up everybody. We’ve got guys who can score, so our job is to get them open.”
Sacrifice. It’s one of the cornerstones of the Doc Rivers era and one of the founding principles of Ubuntu. It appears this new group of Celtics team is ready to embrace the age-old concept heading into the season – a good sign for a team looking for a way to get past Miami in the East.
“It’s about sacrifice,” Terry insisted Friday after practice. “It’s about giving up your body when you’re talking about setting picks. A lot of times you’re not going to benefit from it directly, but you’re going to get your teammate open, and that’s what Celtic basketball is all about.
“We’re the best pick-setting team in the league,” Terry proclaimed. “That’s the goal, not only with the best in KG, but 1 through 5, whoever steps on the floor. We’ve made it an emphasis.”
|Irish Coffee: Where do walking wounded Celtics stand?||10.02.12 at 5:54 pm ET|
“Knock on wood,” as Paul Pierce said, because the Celtics haven’t been this healthy during training camp the past three seasons. In 2010, Kevin Garnett returned from his season-ending knee surgery the spring before. A year later, Kendrick Perkins sat with an ACL tear. Last season, a foot injury kept Pierce from playing opening night.
“The key for us if we’re going to win another championship is going to be our health,” said Pierce. “You have to be good; you have to be lucky. Sometimes those are things you can’t control. Since our first year we won it, we haven’t been lucky enough to be healthy, so hopefully we’re healthy this year and we can make another run at it.”
Role players like Tony Allen, Leon Powe, the O’Neal brothers, Delonte West, Mickael Pietrus or even Ray Allen last season have also kept the C’s doctors busy the past few years. Youth doesn’t guarantee health, but it certainly helps. At least they’re not keeping a trainer’s table warm for the Jermaine O’Neals of the league anymore.
Ironically, the youngest members of the Celtics — Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger — are two of the biggest question marks among a handful of health concerns, so let’s see where the C’s walking wounded stand.
|Irish Coffee: Top 10 Celtics Media Day moments||10.01.12 at 5:36 pm ET|
Considering the Celtics have been unofficially practicing together since early September, Friday’s Media Day at the team’s practice facility in Waltham seemed less like a welcome home party than years past and more like an interruption of a team’s quest for the franchise’s 18th NBA championship already in progress. That attitude is reflected in the top 10 moments from this year’s Celtics Media Day compared to the same post last season.
10. Chris Wilcox on missing the playoffs again: “I was fresh out of surgery when they made it to the playoffs. The whole time, I was just trying to see whatever I could do. I was like, ‘Doc, there’s no way I could come back?’ And he was like, ‘Don’t even think about it.’ So, it was just motivation, because I can’t watch basketball and not play it. … I’m out trying to walk on treadmills and doing all these different kind of things, just trying to get back, because I wanted to be around basketball. I’ve never been to the playoffs before. That was going to be my first experience, and then that had to happen, so it was tough.”
9. Jared Sullinger on dropping to the Celtics: “Everybody was knocking me for the back problems and all this crazy stuff, but I could care less. Like I told everybody, if I dropped to the Celtics at 21, and I could go back and redo everything — and me not getting hurt — I’ll get hurt again and slide all the way back down to 21, just so I could be with the Boston Celtics. I’d redo it, because it’s a great organization, great vets, great team.”
8. Courtney Lee on the Celtics’ championship tradition: “Every organization I’ve been with, winning has always been the key, but here you believe — you feel it, you see it. We’re not even starting training camp yet, and we had our whole team here Sept. 4, and everybody was dedicated to getting better. The motto of it was to win a championship. The first day I got here, on the fourth, all Rondo was talking about is a championship and getting back and winning. Once you hear that from your star players, you don’t want to let them down, so that motivates you to get on the same page, and that’s all it’s about: Winning.”