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The Celtics Film Crew 09.30.10 at 4:10 pm ET
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I guess this is just Nate being Nate. Nate Robinson continues to keep Celtics practices loose, posting on his Twitter account this video of him dunking on Shaquille O’Neal. He also gave us footage of him walking in Shaq’s shoes and a Kendrick Perkins/Shaq dance-off. I don’t know about you, but Perk looks pretty nimble here. Also, Paul Pierce posted a video of Nate trying to guard Delonte West in Shaq’s shoes.

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Training camp report: Getting defensive 09.29.10 at 5:08 pm ET
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Tom Thibodeau is gone but his defense remains. (AP)

Tom Thibodeau is gone but his defense remains. (AP)

NEWPORT, R.I. — A day after working through sweltering conditions at Salve Regina, a bit of normalcy returned to the Celtics on the second day of their workouts. Doc Rivers felt that it was a good, crisp practice and the focus was on–what else?– defense.

Tom Thibodeau is no longer with them, having left to coach the Bulls, but don’t expect the Celtics to change much defensively.

“We’ll keep it the same,” Rivers said. “Thibs and I toward the end of last year wanted to make some changes, but it was in the middle of the year so we decided not to. So we’ll make those changes now as a group. Other than that there will be very few changes.”

There are two points of emphasis for the C’s in camp. They want to lower their opponents field goal percentage and pressure the ball fullcourt. The two things are related.

“We went from No. 1 in field goal percentage defense to No. 9 last year,” Rivers said. “We want to get that back to No. 1. We have to pressure more. Our first year and a half we pressured the ball up the floor. Kevin [Garnett] was up the floor pressuring. Due to Kevin’s injury we got away from that completely.”

Garnett looks healthy in the early days of camp. “Night and day,” is how Rivers put it. “He’s explosive again, especially defensively.”

Without fullcourt pressure, the Celtics gave teams the whole 24 seconds on the shot clock to get into their offense and that left them defending for 18-19 seconds in the halfcourt. Rivers wants to see that down to 12-14 seconds.

“We really didn’t pressure the ball up the floor,” Rivers said. “You got [Rajon] Rondo on the floor and Kevin to shadow and we couldn’t do it last year. That’s a huge concession for our team.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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Why the time is now (and right) for Delonte West 09.28.10 at 6:26 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Delonte West stepped on a foot stool he didn’t need with a broad, beaming smile and began to talk in a most relaxed fashion about how glad and grateful he is to be back in Boston with a chance to win his first NBA title with the team where it all began.

If ever anyone was grateful to be back in Boston with a chance at redemption, it’s the 27-year-old lefty-shooting guard from Washington, signed by the Celtics on Sept. 1 to a non-guaranteed free agent deal. West had been cut by Minnesota, which had acquired him from Cleveland just days after the Cavaliers lost free agent LeBron James to Miami.

“It feels great to be back in green and white, where I started my career,” West said. “That’s a great compliment, being picked up from a team that’s coming off an [NBA finals] Game 7 and got their eyes set on a championship. To be called to render my services to help this team put up another banner, that’s an amazing feeling.”

Before doing so, he must sit out the first 10 games of the season on gun charges after he pleaded guilty for carrying two loaded handguns, a loaded shotgun and two knives when he was pulled over in suburban Washington last September.

He spoke of being familiar with Doc Rivers when he broke into the NBA. He spoke of his experiences in Cleveland, where he was on a team favored to get to the NBA finals — only to be twice denied by the Celtics.

But most of all, West spoke like a man who knows that — assuming he can win a spot on the roster out of camp — he will have his best shot yet to reach the NBA summit.

And it would certainly have been quite the journey. Read the rest of this entry »

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Celtics: Irish Coffee 09.27.10 at 7:33 am ET
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It’s time again for your morning cup of Irish coffee. Following the referees’ annual meeting late last week, the NBA announced new guidelines for technical foul calls. Guyism explained all four new guidelines with some comical Rasheed Wallace footage, of course. The guidelines are as follows …

  • “Players making aggressive gestures, such as air punches, anywhere on the court”
  • “Excessive inquiries about a call, even in a civilized tone”
  • “Running directly at an official to complain about a call”
  • “Players who use body language to question or demonstrate displeasure”

These stricter rules could spell trouble for the Celtics, even without Rasheed. Kendrick Perkins (16), Kevin Garnett (6), Paul Pierce (5) and Rajon Rondo (4) all finished in the top 50 for technical fouls last season. Based on the above descriptions, Perk might be eligible for a technical foul roughly every time he hears a whistle. Heck, he might even get a handful of techs before he comes back from the knee injury.

The Reclamation of Delonte West

Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie has an interesting take on Delonte West‘s return to the Celtics. He believes this C’s team could be just what the doctor ordered for West, who has suffered from mental issues throughout his career.

“So even with the nonguaranteed contract, you would hope that the Celtics are in it for the long haul, and not for some guy to take a chance on because Tony Allen followed the money to Memphis,” writes Dwyer. “Because this really could be the first season of the rest of Delonte’s life, in 2010-11, as their supportive environment and steady work could be the best possible thing for West as he tries to move forward.”

NBADL Rule Change

The NBA and NBA Development League have reached a deal that allows as many as three players cut from an NBA roster to be assigned to their D-League affiliate. So, the Celtics could potentially store training camp invitees Chris Johnson, Stephane Lasme and Jamar Smith in Maine with the Red Claws (Did Jackie Moon play for them?). I’m sure all four Red Claws fans are drooling at the opportunity to watch Stephane Lasme all winter. Tickets must be flying off the shelves.

Perfect Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce spoke to the media on Saturday following a fitness rally for his charities, The Truth on Health and FitClub34. After a “perfect” summer, he’s excited to chase another title.

“I’ve been in the gym for the last couple of weeks and I’ve probably seen everybody,” Pierce told the Herald. “I’ve been comparing this to the last couple of years. It’s like a new energy with Shaq, Jermaine. You can just kind of feel it around the practice facility–just the energy, the vibe of the guys in the locker room–that we left something behind last year and that’s the trophy.”

Energy isn’t the first word that comes to mind when I think of Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal (“The O’Neal brothers,” as Doc Rivers has dubbed them).

Shhhhhh! You’ll wake Bill Russell!

Shhhhhh! You’ll wake Bill Russell!

I’m not exactly sure why I found this so funny, but I did. Hats off to GrahamSpector.tumblr.com for that.

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Report: C’s waive Oliver Lafayette 09.25.10 at 1:59 pm ET
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On the eve of opening training camp the Celtics have waived guard Oliver Lafayette, according to a report on the Herald’s website.

Lafayette was a longshot to make the roster with Rajon Rondo, Nate Robinson and possibly rookie Avery Bradley slotted ahead of him, but no doubt he would have liked the opportunity to compete.

Lafayette played well during the Orlando summer league and looks like a player who can stick on an NBA roster in the right circumstances. He also performed well with Fort Wayne in the D-League, averaging over 17 points and six assists per game.

The move leaves the Celtics with 16 players on their training camp, and it seems likely they will add a few more. Competition for roster spots will be fierce, however, because the C’s have 13 players on guaranteed contracts.

That leaves Delonte West, Von Wafer and Tony Gaffney fighting for two spots. Danny Ainge spoke enthusiastically about West before the team’s annual charitable golf outing. West is facing a 10-game suspension to start the season, so it’s possible that Wafer, or another veteran, could serve as insurance until he is able to return.

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Nate Robinson on Twitter, his role and ‘Kazaam’ 09.23.10 at 4:32 pm ET
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nateQUINCY — If you’re one of Nate Robinson‘s 153,448 followers on Twitter, then you know the backup Celtics guard isn’t afraid to share his thoughts.

“Nate’s talking? That’s a news flash,” Doc Rivers quipped at the team’s annual golf fundraiser to support The Shamrock Foundation.

And Twitter is one of Robinson’s favorite places to chirp. He’s posted 79 tweets (@nate_robinson) since Monday, including what appeared to be his own telephone number followed by “text me NOW” last night.

That behavior made you wonder if Robinson was living up to his self-proclaimed nickname, Donkey, but it turns out that was a prank on one of his friends.

“That wasn’t my phone number,” explained Robinson, laughing. “That’s my friend’s number. … I don’t put up my information. I just joke around with my friends. Hopefully, none of my friends put my number up.”

When he first started Twitter, Robinson actually did post his personal phone number, accidentally, while attempting to send Quentin Richardson a private message.

“All of a sudden, I was like, ‘Why are all of these people calling my phone?’” he said. “It was pretty funny — but never again.”

On Twitter, pretty much no topic is off limits for Robinson. He’s discussed everything from relationship advice to potential tattoos to nutrition tips.

“It takes time out of your day,” he said. “When you’re bored, you can go on Twitter, and by the time you’re done, three or four hours go by. It’s fun. You keep up with the world, I guess. I think it’s one of the best creations of the last two years.”

So, who does Robinson follow on Twitter? Other than his teammates, opponents and a slew of football players, his three favorites are rapper Fabolous (“He’s got a lot of interesting things to say”), boxer Floyd Mayweather (“he’s pretty funny”) and comedian Kevin Hart (“a lot of comedians are pretty funny, because it’s their job”).

Nate Robinson: On basketball

When he’s not tweeting, Robinson finds time to play a little basketball.

After seeing limited playing time for the Celtics following last season’s trade from New York, he had at least one breakout performance in each of the final three series of Boston’s playoff run, including the 12-point performance in Game 4 of the finals that led to the infamous “Shrek and Donkey” press conference.

Building off that momentum, the 5-foot-9 former University of Washington star hopes to contribute to this year’s team, in any way he can.

“I love the game of basketball,” he said. “That’s never going to change. For me to get a training camp in with the Celtics, that’s only going to help me out with knowing exactly what Doc wants from me, how to play and getting in where I fit in, which is me playing with energy. I don’t try to do too much. I’ve just got to play my game.”

Nothing is set in stone for Robinson this season, especially with the re-acquisition of Delonte West. They’ll be battling for playing time behind Rajon Rondo, but Rivers believes that Robinson’s participation in a Celtics training camp can only help.

“It’ll be important,” said Rivers. “It’ll help him understand what we’re running better, and it’ll help us understand him a little better as well. It’ll be good for both of us.”

Nate Robinson: On Shaq

Robinson and Shaquille O’Neal share adjacent lockers this season, and they’re getting to know each other — perhaps a little too well.

“I’ve been a Shaq fan since I was a little boy, so I’ve been teasing him about all the movies he’s been in,” Robinson said. “He’s awesome. His locker is right next to mine, so it’s kind of cool. Every day, he comes in with these Superman pajamas. I’m kinda getting tired of those already, but he’s a real fun guy. He’s one of those guys who I can always tell my kids, ‘I played with one of the all-time greats.’”

Oddly, Shaq (@THE_REAL_SHAQ) doesn’t follow Robinson on Twitter yet. Maybe it’s all those digs about Shaq’s movie career, like, “Yo, my locker is right next to Kazaam” …

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Ainge: We like our talent at 1:14 pm ET
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Danny Ainge (AP)

Danny Ainge (AP)

QUINCY — Speaking to reporters before the Celtics annual golf fundraiser to support The Shamrock Foundation, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge noted: “I think this is the most talented team we’ve had in quite a while. Now it’s just a matter of it all coming together.”

Never one to tip his hand, Ainge acknowledged that the team has been bringing in players such as Rashad McCants and Adam Morrison (who just agreed to a training camp deal with the Wizards), but said, “We may be all done, and we may not.”

Where the Celtics are thin is at the backup wing position behind Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Ainge brought in Delonte West and Von Wafer, and re-signed Marquis Daniels to primarily fill those roles. West and Daniels, in particular, seem to have the inside track.

“Had we not had the [Kendrick Perkins] injury, maybe our focus would have been on backup wings for Paul and Ray,” Ainge said. “It was still a priority. After we got our center positions filled, bringing in Delonte and Nate [Robinson], I think were huge just to take minutes off of [Rajon] Rondo and Paul and Ray. I think we have great depth now in bringing Marquis back.”

On the subject of Daniels, it hardly seemed a given that he would return to Boston after falling out of favor, and the rotation, following a mid-season thumb injury. Ainge, however, sounded an optimistic note about his contributions.

“It didn’t work out for him [last year],” Ainge said. “Tony [Allen] earned the minutes, but coming out of training camp Marquis won those minutes. Marquis outplayed all of our bench players throughout October, November and December until he had the [thumb] injury. We know what Marquis is capable of doing.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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