|Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce back at practice, Avery Bradley (collarbone) sits||04.06.13 at 12:29 pm ET|
Just over 12 hours after a humbling loss to the Cavaliers at the Garden, the Celtics got a boost at practice in Waltham when Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce returned from separate foot injuries.
Garnett has missed the last eight games due to inflammation from bone spurs in his left ankle. The Celtics have gone 3-5 in his absence as they look to lock up the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and avoid the Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
“I’ve never come into postseason 100 percent, so it’s nothing new,” Garnett told reporters. “But I do want a rhythm. I don’t want to go into the postseason and have no rhythm. I want to be healthy. That’s my first priority.”
Garnett said when and how much he plays in the final six games will be decided after a discussion that includes himself, coach Doc Rivers and medical staff.
“I’m going to practice today and Doc and I will have a conversation and make some decisions for the future.”
Avery Bradley, however, did not take part, as he was still nursing soreness from taking an elbow to his left collarbone from Kyrie Irving in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game.
Rivers told reporters before Saturday’s practice that he anticipates Bradley would be available for Sunday’s game against Washington but would not predict anything further, adding, “you just never know.”
Pierce missed Friday’s game due to soreness and swelling in his right ankle, which first cropped up in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s loss to the Knicks in New York, when he was spotted with a wrap on the ankle.
Pierce missed Monday’s game in Minnesota due to the birth of his first son, Prince Paul Pierce before returning on Wednesday in a win over Detroit. Pierce was held out of Friday’s game by Rivers on the advice of trainer Ed Lacerte.
Not that there was much of a doubt to begin with but Doc Rivers made it very clear after Friday’s 97-91 loss to the Cavaliers (which snapped Cleveland’s 10-game losing streak) that he wants no part of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
Thanks to the Bucks loss in New York to the Knicks Friday night, the Celtics (39-37) are two games up in the loss column on Milwaukee for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with just six games left.
Does he pay attention to the standings?
“I do but I don’t,” Rivers said in his best hedging language. “I really don’t. I know we’re in the seventh spot. I know we want to stay out of the eighth spot.
So, Rivers is actually admitting he wants avoid the Heat?
“Of course we would,” Rivers admitted when asked that very question. “But if we play them, we’ll be ready. But of course we would. Listen, I’m not that dumb. I’m not the brightest guy but come on. Really, you would love to avoid anyone [like Miami]. Listen, no matter who we play, we’re going to play a tough team. It’s going to be New York, Indiana or Miami. There’s no cakewalk for us. It’s going to be hard.”
To Rivers point, the Celtics are 1-3 this year against New York, 1-2 against Miami and 2-0 against Indiana. The Celtics play the Heat next weekend in Miami and the Pacers at the Garden on April 16.
Rivers was asked if he’s going out of his way to avoid playing his stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to get them as physically ready for the playoffs as possible. But Rivers said trainer Ed Lacerte took that decision out of his hands just before Friday’s game.
“No, I wanted Paul to play [against Cleveland] but he couldn’t, honestly,” Rivers said. “I would’ve played him if he could have. But right [before game] when Eddie said Paul’s [ankle] was swollen, that was an easy decision.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted after Friday night’s 97-91 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden that he is watching the standings and wants to avoid finishing eighth in the Eastern conference and a first round match up with the defending world champion Miami Heat. Rivers however stressed that whoever the Celtics face if it’s the Indiana Pacers or New York Knicks, it will be a tough matchup.
|Doc Rivers on D&C: Jeff Green ‘starting to take off’||04.04.13 at 10:05 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and talked about the final month of the regular season, the Mike Rice controversy at Rutgers, and how he almost played for Bobby Knight at Indiana.
The Celtics clinched a playoff berth Wednesday with a 98-93 victory over the Pistons. Jeff Green scored 34 points and hit a key 3-pointer in the final minute, continuing his resurgence after sitting out last season following heart surgery.
“He missed a year last year. You just don’t walk back on the court and play well, especially with the injury that he had,” Rivers said. “I just think it took some time. This is the next phase of his career, and he’s starting to take off.”
The Celtics head into the home stretch of the regular season looking to take advantage of some well-timed off days.
“This is a great stretch here,” Rivers said. “I hope we can really improve out team over this next week, because we practice [and] days off. So it’s a pretty good stretch here for us to try to get some improvement in.
Kevin Garnett remains out with an ankle injury, but Rivers said he expects the team’s inspirational leader to return in time to get some games under his belt before the playoffs.
“He’ll play soon,” Rivers said. “I don’t know if he’ll play Friday, but I think he’ll be playing pretty soon.”
The big news in the basketball world this week was the reaction to the videotape of since-fired Rutgers coach Mike Rice abusing players in practices.
“I did see the video and it was just shocking,” Rivers said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that in any practice that I’ve been in. … I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Added Rivers: “I don’t know coach Rice at all. But obviously I think when he saw that, you understand that he probably changed as well, which is a good thing for him. But that was hard to watch. And I just felt for those kids. Because the college kids, they go to college and their careers are in coaches’ hands. So, they will not complain no matter how bad things are, because they all have this dream of making it to the NBA, and they don’t want to be they guy, that guy that started a scandal and get the black mark. So, they can really be taken advantage of. In that case, they were.”
|Paul Pierce returns for Celtics, Kevin Garnett misses his seventh straight game||04.03.13 at 7:13 pm ET|
Doc Rivers announced an hour before tip-off that captain Paul Pierce would return from a one-game absence and would be available for the Celtics in their matchup against the Pistons.
Pierce missed Monday’s game in Minnesota for what the team termed personal reasons. Pierce has missed just two of Boston’s 75 games this season. Pierce was back in the lineup with Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox.
Rivers reiterated Wednesday that Monday’s absence and Wednesday’s uncertainty before the game had nothing to do with his right ankle.
Pierce had a wrap on his right ankle late in the fourth quarter against the Knicks on Sunday night but the team said it was just for maintenance and was not a serious injury.
As for Kevin Garnett, Rivers said the big man is working out on his own and testing his left foot. Inflammation in his left foot near the ankle caused him to miss his seventh straight game Wednesday night. The Celtics were 2-4 in the previous six.
“Honestly, I haven’t asked one question about [Garnett's return],” Rivers said when asked about the end of the two-week timetable. “I don’t even know when two weeks is. Whenever it is, it’s probably coming up, and he’ll play.
“We have a lot of practice days coming up and Kevin’s been working out. He hasn’t lost all his conditioning, but you do lose some when you don’t play.”
The Celtics play Cleveland on Friday in the second game of a four-game homestand that will also see them play Washington and Brooklyn. Rivers said the off days in between the home games will allow for more practices that should help the team work Garnett back into game action, if willing and able.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Doc Rivers: ‘I just want us to play the right way. Overall, I think we did that’||04.01.13 at 11:10 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers put a silver lining on a 110-100 road loss to the Timberwolves Monday night at the Target Center. It was a game in which Rivers did not have four of his projected five starters, as Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jared Sullinger were out.
The latest addition was Pierce, who was not with the team Monday due to personal reasons. Rivers said before the game he expects Pierce to be ready to go on Wednesday at home against Detroit.
Still, Rivers thought his undermanned team played hard and handled adversity the right way, starting with a lineup of Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox.
“I go into every game thinking we’re going to win the game,” Rivers said afterward. “We had our chances tonight. But I get it, too. I just want us to play the right way and do things our way. I think overall we did that.”
The Celtics trailed for most of the game and never got closer than eight points in the fourth quarter against a Minnesota team that had 26 wins coming in and had lost to Boston 11 straight times dating back to Feb. 11, 2007, before Garnett arrived in Boston.
The Timberwolves took full advantage as 6-foot-11 Nikola Pekovic scored 29 points, including 15 in the first quarter and 21 in the first half.
“I thought we played pretty hard,” Rivers said. “We had no one to deal with that big monster they had down there. I was kidding with Longo [defensive coach Mike Longabardi], we held him to about eight points in the second half after he had 21 in the first [half].
“I thought our guys did everything I wanted them to do. One of the things I told them was that seven out of the last nine games, we’ve given up 100 points. We’ve proven we can score. We scored 100 tonight even without 50 points of our offense [in Garnett, Pierce and Rondo]. We’ll be able to score but, especially with all the new guys, learning the little things on our defense, there’s a we need a lot of work with them, and it showed tonight.”
|Keyon Dooling signs with Memphis Grizzlies for playoff run||at 12:50 pm ET|
Keyon Dooling is heading back to action in the NBA. He is coming out of retirement but not with the Celtics.
The 32-year-old veteran guard has agreed to terms with the Memphis Grizzlies to help them in their playoff push in the Western Conference. Entering Monday, the Grizzlies are 49-24 and in a tight three-way race with Denver and the Clippers for third place in the highly competitive Western Conference.
Dooling made the announcement Monday on his Twitter page: “I am so honored to announce that I AM BACK! I am heading to officially sign w/ @MemGrizz and am looking forward to being back on the court!”
Dooling had been serving as a player development coordinator for the Celtics before accepting the offer to play with the Grizzlies on Monday. Dooling will be playing for his seventh NBA team since entering the NBA with the Clippers at the age of 20 in 2000. Dooling has averaged 7.0 points and 2.2 assists in 721 career games. He averaged 4.0 points and 1.1 assists in 46 games for the Celtics during the 66-game schedule in the 2011-12 season.
On Dec. 9, 2011, Dooling and a 2012 second-round pick were traded to Celtics in exchange for the draft rights to Albert Miralles. Then at the end of last season, Dooling re-signed with the Celtics.
But after being waived by the Celtics on Sept. 20, he decided to retire from the Celtics and accept a front office/coaching position with the team. Dooling thanked GM Danny Ainge and head coach Doc Rivers on Monday after announcing his return.
— Keyon Dooling (@AmbassadorKD) April 1, 2013
Dooling is also a former Vice President for the NBA Players Association.
Dooling will join former Celtics guard Tony Allen, who also welcomed him back to the NBA via his Twitter page.
@ambassadorkd. Welcome My Guy!!!
— Tony Allen (@aa000G9) April 1, 2013
|The Celtics love them some Shavlik Randolph||03.30.13 at 2:12 am ET|
When security opened the Celtics locker room after Friday’s 118-107 win over the Hawks, reporters rushed to Shavlik Randolph‘s locker, but the PR staff announced he had already left. The Duke product generally makes postgame small talk for a bit with anybody willing to listen, so his absence came as a surprise to some.
For the C’s, though, it should be refreshing. On the best night of his NBA career, Randolph ducked the media scrum, dodged questions that would have made his China-to-Boston journey the headline in Saturday’s papers and generally just avoided becoming the focus on a night when veteran teammates Paul Pierce (20-10-10 triple-double), Jeff Green (game-high 27 points) and Jason Terry (24 points on 10 shots) all performed better.
In other words, Randolph knows his role. That or he wanted to watch his alma mater’s Sweet 16 date with Michigan St. Either way, his new teammates welcomed the opportunity to heap praise upon the journeyman.
“He understands who he is,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, “and he does it.”
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