|Jeff Van Gundy on D&C: Jermaine O’Neal ‘a decisive force’||05.09.11 at 9:28 am ET|
ABC NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Celtics-Heat series. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Rajon Rondo‘s health was the primary topic of discussion, as everyone waits to see how the point guard will respond two days after dislocating his left elbow during the Celtics’ Game 3 victory. If Rondo plays, Van Gundy said the Heat assuredly will test him right away.
“Obviously, Miami has time to adjust and adapt and really send him left on every penetration,” Van Gundy said. “I’d pick up him up full court and see if he can advance the ball with his left hand. Because you can’t take it easy on someone with an injury. So, the adrenaline rush from the other night — and it truly was a heroic thing he did — whether it can carry over to another night, I’m not sure.”
Added Van Gundy: “I think it all depends on who you are, your competitive spirit and personality, your level of speed and quickness to be able to get back to that dominant hand. And obviously, Rondo has all of those. Now, I think it will impact him shooting, because you need your left hand to help you get the ball up into the shooting position. And I would suspect they may leave him more open than they normally do.”
If Rondo can’t be productive, Van Gundy noted that the Celtics have other options. “Delonte West — he’s not a setup-type point guard, he’s not a create shots for others-type point guard, but he can play effectively,” Van Gundy said. “I thought he had a good game in Game 3.
“They’re going to have play a really good game again tonight, and it will be interesting to see if they can regenerate that same intensity and energy and enthusiasm.”
On the subject of the ailing Shaquille O’Neal, Van Gundy said: “I felt badly for O’Neal in the last game. … I found [it] tough to watch, actually. I give him a lot of credit for going out there and not worrying about how he was looking but giving of himself for the betterment of the team, whatever he could provide. And he is still a force when it comes to having to block him out on the offensive boards.”
Van Gundy said Shaq’s return overshadowed a solid performance by the Celtics’ starting center. “If you looked at Jermaine O’Neal — which is the ONeal that everyone should have been talking about after that game — that guy, he put his heart into that game,” Van Gundy said. “He blocked shots, he took charges. I thought Jermaine O’Neal was absolutely a decisive force in Game 3. But they have to keep doing it to have a chance. It can’t just be a one-game hit.”
|Celtics await test results on Rajon Rondo, Delonte West||05.08.11 at 2:22 pm ET|
UPDATE: According to a team spokesman, the MRI on Rajon Rondo came back negative for further damage to his elbow. He is a game-time decision for Game 4 Monday night in Boston.
The initial diagnosis for Rondo was a dislocated left elbow. Delonte West apparently did not have an MRI, although he is dealing with a shoulder injury.
“I’m optimistic about both that they’re going to play,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before the team went through a film session and walkthrough on Sunday. “I don’t know why I am, but I am. I just don’t know how well either one of them can play. If they’re on the floor, we’re healthy. That’s been my motto since I’ve been here and our guys believe that.”
Both players were unavailable to the press. Rivers said that Rondo was in pain and there was swelling. As for West, Rivers said, “With Delonte it will come down to what he can tolerate.”
Rivers also said that Shaquille O’Neal had an expected amount of swelling, but that he would probably be able to play in Game 4 on Monday as well. “It’s day to day with Shaq and his body at this point of his life in the NBA, but I do think he can do the same,” Rivers said.
|Celtics need more in reserve||04.23.11 at 6:44 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Step one was getting the defense in order. Step two was finding a way to make the offense function better. Step three, and possibly the final step in getting the Celtics on the right track for the rest of the playoffs is unlocking the potential of the second unit.
Delonte West, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic have all started at various times in their career. Glen Davis is practically a starter for the Celtics, so the talent is there. But for whatever reason those four have not functioned well either as a group, or individually.
The numbers are not pretty. Through three games of the postseason, those four have averaged just nine points, nine rebounds and three assists, while shooting 14-for-45 in 179 minutes.
“It’s something I’ve got to do, I know that,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said on Saturday after the team had a brief walkthrough at Madison Square Garden. “I’ve got to get them playing right. We’re searching I can tell you that because we need them in this series and we need them to play well.”
No one is standing out for the bench crew right now, which has magnified the pressure on all of them. Rivers had a quiet conversation with Davis after practice and simply told him to keep playing hard.
“We need him,” Rivers said. “He can play better. I can help him play better. I told him I was going to try keeping to do that as long as he keeps his end. Baby’s an energy player for us. As Pat Riley used to tell me — and everyone else — thinking hurts the team. When you start thinking what’s wrong you usually play poorly.”
Davis has struggled shooting jumpers all season and while he’s started trying to maneuver closer to the basket in recent games, he has had a difficult time shooting over the Knicks more athletic players. Davis is the Celtics most important reserve, but they also need more from Green.
Game 3 wasn’t a breakout game for Green, but it was his best of the playoffs as he scored nine points and earned praise from Rivers for his defense.
“He played much better,” the coach said. “Defensively, he was terrific. He’s starting to cut better for us. We got him a couple of nice cuts where he got deep posts and got his spot. He’s getting there. Jeff is going to help us.”
This is Green’s first time coming off the bench since his rookie season. He has said that the adjustment is all mental and it’s something he’s still getting used to doing. He also has to be something of a go-to guy for the reserves because they lack a dominant scorer with this group. Should the Celtics advance, Green will become a very important player in their series with the Heat because they play so many unorthodox lineups.
Even with all that no one has struggled more than Krstic. He has attempted just one shot, a jumper in Game 1 when he had a clear path to the basket. He saw second-half minutes in Game 3 only because of the score and he has grabbed just three rebounds in the series.
Rivers hasn’t given up on Krstic yet, but there are other options, namely Troy Murphy.
“There’s always another guy when the other guy’s not working,” Rivers said. “Troy’s working his butt off, I can tell you that. Him and Von [Wafer], they may be guys that help us win a game.”
|Doc Rivers: Celtics are ready to ‘get back and finish the job’||04.14.11 at 1:03 pm ET|
There’s no more time for sitting starters and there’s no more optional practices. Doc Rivers knows full well that while it may not be time to slam the foot on the accelerator, now is the time to start stepping down with more force.
On Thursday, following a 112-102 glorified exhibition win over the Knicks, Rivers began prep for the first-round playoffs series with the Knicks with film work. The hard practices are expected on Friday and Saturday – with or without Shaquille O’Neal.
“I feel good that our team will be ready; I feel really good about that,” Rivers said. “This has been far more difficult in that regard because of the trades, the injuries, the late-season seven-out-of-eleven games. It’s just been – that’s been extremely difficult. We lost our rhythm; had no practice to get it back, and then we had injuries.
“So, it’s great playing on Sunday, let me just put it that way. We’ll be ready.”
As for Delonte West (ankle) and Shaq (calf), Rivers said this weekend of practice will tell a lot.
“Well Delonte will be [ready] for sure, from everything I hear,” Rivers said. “Shaquille, I’d like to see him yesterday. We’ll just wait and see.”
Obviously, this has been the most injury-riddled season for Celtics big men – or bigs as Doc loves to call them. And it’s started from camp and carried right through. Say this much, the C’s and Rivers and his coaching staff have had plenty of time this season to get ready to win without them.
There was the rehabbing Kendrick Perkins in camp and early in the season. There was the conditioning of Jermaine O’Neal. There was the knee/hip/Achilles/calf of Shaq. And the brief injury scares to Glen Davis and Perkins’ replacement Nenad Krstic. Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: Celtics weary, even on rest||04.12.11 at 11:44 am ET|
Mercifully, the Celtics have no more back-to-back games. After recording an 8-11 record in 19 back-to-backs this year – including a 2-8 record in their last 10 — the C’s won’t be playing on consecutive nights in the playoffs. So, just how much better are the Celtics with one or more days rest?
Before we attempt to answer that, it’s important to consider these three things:
- 1) The Celtics have allowed an NBA-best 91.0 points per game, and even in back-to-back games they held opponents to an average of 92.3 points, which still would’ve ranked third in the league this year.
- 2) The Celtics scored 96.3 points per game, ranking 24th out of 30 NBA teams. In back-to-backs, they averaged just 91.6 points a game, which would’ve ranked last in the league this season.
- 3) While the 2011 NBA Playoff schedule hasn’t been released yet, in their 24 playoff games last season the Celtics played 14 on one day rest, six on two days rest and four on three or more days rest.
- 4) The Celtics will go as far as the Big Four take them. Plain and simple. And considering Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo are the only C’s to play 30-plus minutes a night, they’re in need of the most rest.
Now, let’s compare the Big Four’s performances on one, two, three or more days rest as opposed to their numbers in back-to-back games. How significant is their improvement with fresher legs (individual bests in bold)?
- Totals (80 games): 34.7 min, 18.9 pts, 49.7 fg%, 37.4 3p%, 86.0 ft%, 5.4 reb, 3.3 apg, 2.1 to
- 0 days rest (18 games): 35.7 min, 19.0 pts, 46.4 fg%, 41.4 3p%, 88.9 ft%, 5.9 reb, 3.2 apg, 2.3 to
- 1 day rest (42 games): 34.0 min, 18.9 pts, 50.5 fg%, 36.3 3p%, 83.4 ft%, 5.2 reb, 3.0 apg, 2.2 to
- 2 days rest (14 games): 36.4 min, 17.6 pts, 47.0 fg%, 26.3 3p%, 87.0 ft%, 5.1 reb, 4.2 apg, 2.1 to
- 3+ days rest (5 games): 31.6 min, 22.0 pts, 61.2 fg%, 57.1 3p%, 94.1 ft%, 4.8 reb, 3.2 apg, 1.2 to
|Fast Break: Celtics lose No. 2 seed, Delonte West||04.11.11 at 10:19 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers rested the Big Four to keep them healthy for the playoffs, Delonte West re-injured his right ankle and the Celtics officially dropped to the No. 3 seed in the playoffs after an ugly 95-94 overtime road loss to the Wizards on Monday.
When Wizards center JaVale McGee trampled West at midcourt in the third quarter, the Celtics guard sprained his right ankle again and did not return after producing 11 points and five assists in 23 minutes. Meanwhile, the Celtics (55-26) clinched the No. 3 seed and will face the Knicks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Resting the starters: Despite owning an identical record to the Lakers and trailing the Heat by one game for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, Celtics coach Doc Rivers elected to start a lineup of Delonte West, Von Wafer, Jeff Green, Glen Davis and Jermaine O’Neal. Rivers said the value of physical and — more importantly — mental rest outweighed foregoing rest to play for potential homecourt advantages against the Lakers and Heat.
Delonte West re-injuring his ankle: West missed 57 of the team’s first 80 games with a 10-game suspension, a broken right wrist and a right ankle sprain that he initially suffered during a late February practice. And now it appears as if he’s going to miss at least one more, as he left Monday night’s game against the Wizards in the third quarter after spraining his right ankle again when McGee ran him over at midcourt. Even after initially returning on March 16, West admitted he had a chipped bone in that same right ankle, which could signal a dependency on Carlos Arroyo at the backup point guard position.
Not so sweet 16-point run: After taking an early 11-point lead in the first quarter, the Celtics gave up a 16-0 run that spanned 5:25 between the first and second quarters while delivering a 28-23 lead to the Wizards. For the most part, Nenad Krstic‘s presence coincided with that run. The C’s led 12-3 when Krstic entered for O’Neal and trailed 25-23 when O’Neal subbed back in. Once Krstic exited, the Celtics finished the first half on a 21-14 run, taking a 44-37 lead into the break and making it a game for the remainder of the night.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
A healthy Jermaine O’Neal: Because of Krstic’s inability to contribute defensively, Rivers was forced to play Jermaine O’Neal more minutes than he had indicated he would prior to the game. And O’Neal responded. He nearly reached a double-double by hafltime and finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks in 36 minutes of action. He entered the game averaging 5.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 17.1 minutes a night.
Jeff Green’s monster night: Insterted back into a role he had become accustomed to with the Thunder, Green started and proved to be the best player on the court for either team. He totaled 20 points — albeit on 8-of-20 shooting — a season-high 15 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Prior to Monday night, Green hadn’t had a 20-point night since March 4 and had not reached double-digits rebounds in a Celtics uniform. The C’s can only hope that he can translate that effort into effectiveness off the bench moving forward.
Replacements starting well: Behind the aggressive play of Jermaine O’Neal, West and Green, the Celtics jumped out to a 23-12 lead. During that stretch, Green scored six points in the first 9:37, West assisted on four of the C’s first nine field goals and O’Neal grabbed four rebounds in his first-quarter minutes. Those four boards gave O’Neal more rebounds in 5:37 against the Wizards than he had totaled in his three previous games combined – against the Heat, Bulls and 76ers.
|Fast Break: Celtics rebound against Wizards||04.08.11 at 10:00 pm ET|
The Celtics allowed the Wizards to hang around for much of the night, until the starters returned in the fourth quarter and mercifully put their stamp on a 104-88 victory.
Rajon Rondo (20 points, 14 assists), Kevin Garnett (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Paul Pierce (22 points, 12 rebounds) all recorded double-doubles, and Ray Allen (13 points) showed signs of coming out of his recent slump, making 5-of-10 shots (but only 1-of-6 3-pointers). The Celtics (55-24) did their part in the race against the Heat for the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed.
Andray Blatche led the Wizards (21-58) with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Rajon Rondo’s fast start: One night after reportedly asking coach Doc Rivers for a 1-on-1 meeting, the Celtics point guard came out of the gates with a full head of steam, recording more assists in the first quarter against the Wizards (7) than he did all night against the Bulls (6). By the third quarter, he had already recorded a double-double. As a side note, Rondo continued to incite concerns about his aggressiveness around the basket, passing up easy shots to create more difficult ones.
Kevin Garnett came to play: It’s no surprise that a showdown with Blatche brought out the best in Garnett, as the two have a long history of back-and-forth bickering. Knocking down six of his first eight shots, the Celtics forward registered his 28th double-double of the season by the third quarter. Of course, Blatche wasn’t so bad himself, producing a double-double of his own.
Back to the basics: Of course, it helped that they were playing the Wizards. The Celtics totaled only 22 points in the paint and 14 assists (on 28 field goals) against the Bulls. Against Washington, they nearly doubled their output from the previous night in both areas (48 points in the paint and 25 assists), as all five starters reached double figures and each of the Big Four had at least three assists.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Just when you think they’re out of it … the Celtics let them back in. After building a lead as big as 12 points and appearing to be in total command during the first 6:39 of the game, the C’s predictably — as they have all season — let the Wizards close the gap to 59-56 at the half. As the season nears a close, Rivers would love to be able to rest his stars, but the bench hasn’t been productive enough and the starters haven’t been aggressive enough to put bad teams away.
Will Troy Murphy ever contribute consistently? The C’s waiver wire acquisition saw some rare early playing time against the Wizards. Offensively, he committed a turnover and seemed lost for many of his 14 minutes on the floor, although he made a couple layups. Defensively, he got burned by unstoppable force JaVale McGee and immovable object Andray Blatche. All in all, not a great showing by Murphy, who’s in desperate need of good showings if he wants to see playoff minutes.
Delonte West gets the heave ho: The team’s best point guard against the Bulls Thursday night, Delonte West didn’t even make it through the second quarter Friday. Playing tough defense but scoring just two points in less than six minutes of play, West picked up Washington point guard John Wall on full-court pressure, only to be whistled for a cheap foul. He didn’t complain. Instead, he picked up Wall again, defending all the way up the court until another, worse whistle 14 seconds later.
After two separate verbal exchanges between West and referee Josh Tiven, the Celtics backup point guard picked up two technical fouls and, as a result, the ejection. West quietly walked off the court, leaving the C’s with Carlos Arroyo and Avery Bradley as their options off the bench.