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Stephen Curry, Tom Brady and the NBA All-Defensive power of Avery Bradley 02.28.13 at 6:33 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers and captain Paul Pierce both had high praise for Avery Bradley before Thursday’s practice. The C’s guard will have the unenviable task Friday of guarding Warriors counterpart Stephen Curry, who scored 54 points against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.

  • Pierce: “I think every great team needs a player like that, especially a great defensive team. With so many great scorers in this league and great individual play, you need that one guy who can go out there and kind of slow those types of guys down. We have that in Avery Bradley. He’s shown a willingness to sacrifice so much. I believe he can give us a lot more defensively, but he’s so great on the defensive end that it has an impact on this whole team. You don’t have to double as much, you don’t have to give as much help when you’ve got a guy like that who can defend at a high level. In my eyes, he’s probably the best on-the-ball defender in the NBA. I’d be very surprised if he didn’t make the All-Defensive Team.”
  • Rivers: “They’re picking him now. They’re getting him off of [his assignments], and that’s what they should do, but it’s nice to have a guy that can pressure the ball. I don’t know if Avery’s going to shut down everyone, but I know he’s going to give you the attempt to pressure, and ball pressure is important. I just use a football analogy: If you didn’t blitz Tom Brady and you just let him sit back there all day, he’s going to pick you apart. It’s the same in basketball. If you let the passers just sit there with no pressure, they’re going to pick you apart. And Avery is our blitzer.”

For more on the NBA All-Defensive case for Bradley, read this column.

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Doc Rivers on D&C: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett will be ‘great when the playoffs start’ at 11:26 am ET
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Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers

Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to talk about Stephen Curry‘s performance vs. the Knicks, the big win on Monday against the Jazz and more Celtics news.

The Celtics are on track to make their sixth straight postseason appearance, and Rivers is confident aging veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will be playing well once they get there.

“I think they’ll be great when the playoffs start,” Rivers said. “I think they’ll be better because there’s more rest, and our key is to get them there fresh.

“I thought that it may have had something to do with Danny [Ainge] not making a trade or doing a trade. I just don’t think anything was out there that appealed to him.”

Curry, Golden State’s sharpshooting guard, dropped 54 points against the Knicks on Wednesday night, albeit in a 109-105 Warriors loss. The 54 points are a season-high for the NBA this season.

“That was special to watch,” Rivers said, adding: “Some of the shots he was making were spectacular. … The way he shot the ball and the shots he got — he’s just a great shooter. He’s the best shooter in our league.”

Added Rivers: “When a guy gets in a zone like that, it’s just hard. It’s so easy to say, ‘Deny him,’ but he’s a point guard, so he always has the ball in his hands for the most part. That’s what makes it so difficult. Everyone else who are off the ball, you have a better chance. But a guy with the ball, in that zone, that’s hard.”

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Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘We need players’ 02.15.13 at 10:24 am ET
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Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers

Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning, as the NBA heads into All-Star Weekend, and talked about the team’s need to bolster the lineup.

The Celtics are looking for help following season-ending injuries to Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa.

Danny [Ainge] and I, we thought about it and we all have been thinking about it since all the injuries,” Rivers said. “With the last one with Barbosa, now we can’t look at one position anymore. That’s what we were looking at — looking at size first, then a guard. Now we’re looking at players. We need players. We need to pick up a couple of players as soon as we can get them. That’s what basically we’re doing.

“But we don’t want to do anything so quick that somebody else comes available and then we don’t have room because we’re at the cap threshold. We have to be very careful in what we do.”

Asked what kind of player would help most right away, Rivers said: “I would say a ball-handling guard. It’s no longer a point guard, it’s just a guard. If I had my perfect guard for this group right now, it would be a guard that can play multiple positions and that can shoot, that has some toughness.

“And then you need a big. You’re not going to find a center, so a 4. Obviously a 5 would be great, but a 4 that can stretch the floor. Or a 4 that can rebound, just a great rebounding 4 that has skills.

“That’s the list. There’s so many places to look. The China league ends in a week. So now some of the American players that are playing over there will begin coming back over to our league. The D-League. And then obviously through a trade. We don’t have a lot of assets to trade, so we have to be very careful there.”

Added Rivers: “We’re just looking for the best available player now. Obviously it would be great to have a shooter, one more shooter for us. Then we need a big that can rebound and defend.”

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Doc Rivers: ‘We are really right at the threshold’ 02.13.13 at 9:31 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers touched on just about every issue facing his team — and there are many — prior to his team’s final game before the NBA All-Star break: 1) the season-ending ACL injury suffered by Leandro Barbosa (who he “absolutely” wants back next season); 2) the search for a point guard (or any warm body, for that matter); 3) losing Barbosa, Jared Sullinger and Rajon Rondo in the locker room (a bigger deal than people think); 4) his depleted roster (“We are really right at the threshold”); 5) whether we’ll see more Fab Melo (we won’t); 6) similarities between Rondo and reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson (few beyond the ACL tear); 7) Michael Jordan‘s 50th birthday (“I wish they were all like that”), he hit them all. Here goes:

On Leandro Barbosa’s absence: “You don’t know a player or a coach or anybody until you actually coach with them or play with them, and he’s one of those guys you just like in your locker room — forget the basketball part. His spirit has been really good for us, and losing that, that’s big. And then he was our wild card. It’s good to have a wild card. When you throw him in, it could go either way, but you knew he was going to be aggressive.”

On point guard prospects: “In the last 48 hours, [Celtics president] Danny [Ainge] and I have probably covered every human being that’s breathing and can dribble and shoot. We’re just going to take our time. At the end of the day today, that’s basically what we came to. You don’t want to rush anything. We don’t have a lot of flexibility cap-wise. We’re just going to wait. If somebody shakes loose or you can get somebody, we will, but until then we’re stretched at the guard spot.”

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Doc Rivers ‘very concerned’ about Nemo after effects 02.10.13 at 5:55 pm ET
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As Nemo was belting New England Friday night and Saturday morning, all Doc Rivers could do was stay inside in his Boston home, cook up a batch of gumbo and watch – what else – basketball.

“I cooked some gumbo,” Rivers said when asked how he kept himself busy. “I went out on the blizzard night because my oldest [Jeremiah] was in. He’s from Florida and he’s never been in one. So I thought he should experience it. We walked about a half block and he wanted to turn around — that was disappointing. But it was cool. It was really neat seeing the city with no one in it, at least no cars. It was great.”

While the Bruins did everything in their power to get in Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay before the NHL, city of Boston and Commonwealth of Massachusetts stepped, Rivers likewise thought there might be some way to get his team out to Waltham for a practice.

“Trust me, we tried everything we could [Saturday], even into the evening I had guys in our [director of] security, Mr. Phil Lynch, thought it would be very dangerous, and he was right, which I hate to say that,” Rivers said. “So I’m very concerned. We even contemplated going this morning on a 6 o’clock game, it’s just tough when you have two days off. What actually concerned me more is that Denver was playing last night, because you knew they would come in with rhythm.

“But there’s nothing you can do. We came earlier than usual this evening [to TD Garden], and actually went over stuff at a real pace. I don’t know what that does, but it makes me feel better.”

But not much. Rivers knows his team will have a monumental challenge in handling the Nuggets, winners of nine straight, including a victory in Cleveland Saturday night. The Nuggets didn’t get into Boston until 3 a.m. Sunday, not leaving much time for coach George Karl and the Nuggets to get ready. Still, the Nuggets (33-18) are impressive, just 5.5 games behind Oklahoma City in the Northwest Division.

“Because they run, they play together,” Rivers said when asked to explain their success. “I love watching them, I tell George that all the time. They are genderless when you watch them play — nobody cares. They have six guys in double figures. [Kenneth Faried] led the team in attempts or second in attempts [Saturday]; he could take two attempts and he doesn’t care. They don’t care and that’s what you see when you watch them play. It’s very difficult team to load on. We load on a couple guys per game, [but] we’re sitting trying to pick which guy do we do that to tonight. It’s just hard.”

Rivers was asked if that formula could play well for the Celtics.

“I don’t know if we’ll have that balance because we have a guy named Paul Pierce on our team that’s pretty good, and Kevin Garnett,” said Rivers. “After those two, the balance should look like theirs.”

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Doc Rivers: Lakers ‘have more firestorms going on’ 02.07.13 at 8:04 pm ET
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Looks like the words of Kobe Bryant worked wonders on the right shoulder of Dwight Howard.

“We don’t have time for it to heal,” Bryant told ESPN on Wednesday, a day before the Lakers’ showdown with the Celtics in Boston. “We need some urgency.”

Howard responded Thursday.

“That’s his opinion; that’s it,” Howard told ESPN. “He’s not a doctor. I’m not a doctor. That’s his opinion.”

Doc Rivers, obviously aware of this dynamic, figured Bryant’s words would be enough to get Howard back in the lineup Thursday.

“He’s playing,” he said without hesitation. “We’ve only prepared for one way.”

Rivers was right as Howard returned from a three-game absence as he deals with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Just another turn in the NBA’s longest and most prestigious rivalry.

“They still wear that same color. And we wear the same color,” Rivers replied when asked about the current state of the rivalry before Thursday’s game. “Through all of it, it’s still the same thing, you enjoy the game because they are fun. Kobe [Bryant is] there; Kevin [Garnett] and Paul [Pierce] are there. It always will be fun.”

Then he threw a good-natured jab at the Lakers.

“It’s more, we’re just playing right now; we’re not dealing with anything,” Rivers said a week after losing Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger. “They have more firestorms going on. Give them credit, they’ve won six out of seven through it. In some ways, it may be helping them.”

Speaking of big men, Rivers said he’s not worried about Kevin Garnett‘s minutes after scoring 27 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in 32 minutes Wednesday in Toronto.

“It’s not a game-to-game thing with Kevin’s minutes, it’s more the accumulative of the year,” Rivers said. “We’ve had eight overtimes, I think, that hasn’t helped at all with him. So it’s just, we get through the year and try to keep him as fresh as possible.”

Meanwhile… Celtics players presented Rivers with the game ball from his 400th regular-season win as Celtics coach on their flight home from Toronto on Wednesday night. Garnett and Pierce were among those to honor Rivers on the flight, something Rivers acknowledged Thursday.
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Doc Rivers is sick and tired of ‘silly’ trade rumors 02.05.13 at 5:24 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The always media savvy Doc Rivers knows as well as anyone that trade rumors are going to happen in this day and age in the NBA.

But what really gets his goat is when those rumors spring out of nowhere and he’s not even remotely familiar with them. With reports swirling that the Clippers may be interested in Kevin Garnett and with Garnett reportedly saying he’d only waive his “no-trade” clause if Paul Pierce were also dealt out of town, Rivers said Tuesday he’d finally heard and seen enough.

“Really, really I would like to say that sometimes, I like you guys [local media], sometimes some of the stuff that happens is just silly. It really is. When I wake up in the morning and I hear a trade rumor I haven’t heard in my office that’s silly. And that’s what happens.”

Does he address it with the team?

“I don’t even address it,” he said before Tuesday’s practice before the team left for Wednesday night’s game in Toronto. “I really don’t. I rarely do. I don’t 99.9 percent of the time because some of it is so silly.”

The “Inside Track” in the Boston Herald reported Monday that Rivers, Chauncey Billups, Garnett and Pierce had dinner recently as the Clippers were in town to play the Celtics.

“I heard one report, I honestly did, that me, Chauncey, Kevin and Paul had dinner,” Rivers said. “I was like, ‘Well, I wish I would’ve known about it. That would’ve been terrific because I would’ve made them pay and I could’ve had a free dinner.’ It’s just silly what goes on.

“I don’t honestly think it’s [local media]. I think someone can sit behind a computer and write something. The problem is that you guys have to report on it, which you shouldn’t do, but you do and it becomes an issue.”

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