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What to expect from Shaquille O’Neal Saturday? Your guess is as good as Doc’s 05.06.11 at 12:39 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Shaquille O’Neal hasn’t played since that fateful six-minute stint against the Pistons on April 3 at TD Garden.

When he left the floor, hobbling badly on his strained right calf, no one knew when — or if — the future Hall of Fame center would make his Celtics playoff debut.

Well, it appears O’Neal will indeed join the playoff party for the Celtics on Saturday night for Game 3 against Miami — and not a minute too soon. After he was hardly missed in the Celtics’ four-game dispatch of the Knicks in the first round, his void has been huge in the second round as Miami has muscled its way to two straight wins.

Doc Rivers spoke Thursday about how badly he wants to see his team “go through bodies” and be “forceful” with the Heat to get back in this series.

Hello, Shaq. But Rivers is keeping his expectations in line and not getting his hopes anywhere near up as it pertains to O’Neal. Why? Because Shaq has played exactly five minutes, 29 seconds in one game dating back to Feb. 1. In that 5:29, O’Neal was certainly promising as an inside force, hitting all three shots from the field and grabbing a rebound and, most importantly, establishing an unmistakable inside presence for the Celtics.

But Rivers truly doesn’t know if he can expect that Saturday.

“I have no idea, I really don’t,” he said. “And I don’t say it to be funny, I just don’t, but I know he’s going to be big, I know that.”

Will Shaq’s mere presence in the paint be a deterrent for the Heat and a “force” for the Celtics?

“He’ll be big at the end of the day,” Rivers added. “We’ll find that out. I can’t give that answer.”

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Paul Pierce strains left Achilles 05.03.11 at 11:51 pm ET
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MIAMI — Paul Pierce strained his left Achilles tendon in the first quarter of Game 2 and had to go back to the locker room for a stretch. He returned soon after and scored 13 points in the Celtics’ 102-91 loss. “It’s day to day right now,” Pierce said. “We’ll see how it feels the next couple of days.”

Pierce said he wasn’t sure how the injury happened, but it was a problem for him. “When you strain your Achilles, every step is like a slight little pain,” he said. “It actually loosened up as I got back in there and it didn’t really affect me the rest of the game.”

Pierce wasn’t the only Celtic playing in pain. Rajon Rondo’s back tightened up and Ray Allen was dealing with a bruised chest. “[Trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] and Dr. [Brian] McKeon did a hell of a job today,” Doc Rivers said. “We had a circus going on at one point. Ray needed to be taken to the locker room. Paul was coming out of the locker room. Rondo was asking to come out almost simultaneously. It was sketchy.”

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Doc Rivers: ‘I’ve got to do a better job of getting Kevin involved’ 05.02.11 at 9:31 pm ET
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Doc Rivers wasn’t exactly jubilant after watching the film of Sunday’s Game 1 loss to the Heat.

He talked before Monday’s practice about the importance of staying patient on offense — “very eager offensively and that hurt us … we were pretty much a one-option team and very rarely worked the sets” — and the importance of keeping composure, something Paul Pierce failed to do in the fourth quarter.

Rivers stressed the need to do a better job on James Jones — “The fact that he took seven 3-pointers without taking a dribble, when you think about it, that’s poor defense” — and Dwyane Wade.

In short, it wasn’t quite a sneak peak of “The Hangover: Part II” in the old film room.

And when it came to analyzing his own effort after viewing the 99-90 loss again, Rivers pointed to one decision as perhaps his biggest error.

“I’ve got to do a better job of getting Kevin [Garnett] involved,” Rivers said. “Kevin is one of our featured scorers and I didn’t think we did a good job with him at all.”

Indeed Garnett was an absolute non-factor on offense in Game 1, scoring just six points on 3-of-9 shooting. The Celtics made a concerted effort to get Garnett going early, posting him up on Chris Bosh on their first two possessions, but then went away from a matchup that the team looked at as a advantage heading into the series.

“We got Bosh on an early foul, and then we went seven straight plays before we decided to look back to that spot,” said Rivers. “That’s not like us to do that. That was a mistake.”

Garnett had plenty of success in four games vs. the Heat this season, averaging 16.5 points on 54 percent shooting. And coming off of a Game 4 win over the Knicks that saw Garnett score 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, it seemed a fairly obvious bet that the power forward would be heavily involved in the offense.

And as much as Rivers wanted to take the blame for Garnett’s lack of productivity, there is no question that the 14-time All-Star can be too unselfish at times. The Celtics want Garnett on the attack against Bosh, and that wasn’t the nearly the case in Game 1.

“I think we’ve just got to try to tell him to be aggressive when he gets the ball in the post,” said Rajon Rondo. “He is an unselfish guy, but we want him to be aggressive and take advantage of the matchup.”

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Irish Coffee: Kevin Garnett just doing his job 04.26.11 at 11:44 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

During the Celtics’ two days of rest before Wednesday’s practice, Kevin Garnett got a chance to contribute to his Anta blog, focusing on Games 3 and 4 of the Knicks sweep. Here are the highlights …

Yo yo yo! We’re moving on! Great energy [Sunday] afternoon!  Happy Easter to anyone who celebrates it! We needed to get this game, so we could have a couple of days to get our rest! With Miami losing, we don’t play until at least Sunday. Doc gave us two days off, so practice on Wednesday! Lots of treatment, recovery and catching up with video games.

The team played awesome! We got up early and started executing better. Baby [Glen Davis] and JO [Jermaine O'Neal] tightened down our defense, and Rondo made our offense go. Setting picks for the guys is my job, and as Doc says, “DO YOUR JOB!” Good picks get good shots for Ray [Allen] and P2 [Paul Pierce]. Friday’s game they went off!!!! Yesterday, the Knicks tried to stop them, which got me looks. I was able to make shots and get rebounds. Didn’t even realize that I had 20-plus points. Team win is the only thing that matters.

That’s by far the most praise Garnett has heaped on his team’s execution, especially on the defensive end — a good sign for Round 2. It’s also nice to see Doc Rivers borrowing the “do your job” line from Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Always loved that.

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Adrian Wojnarowski on M&M: Leaving C’s would be difficult for Doc Rivers 04.25.11 at 2:43 pm ET
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Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday afternoon to discuss the NBA playoffs and other Celtics items of interest. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Rajon Rondo put up huge numbers in the C’s first-round series sweep of the Knicks, and Wojnarowski said the point guard will again be tough for Boston’s opponent to handle in Round 2. “He’s Miami’s most difficult matchup,” Wojnarowski said. “They don’t have a guy to deal with him.”

The Heat, who need one more win to close out the 76ers, also appear to be at a disadvantage vs. the Celtics when it comes to bench play. “The question marks around Miami’s bench continue to be immense,” Wojnarowski said. “Mike Miller, who they had signed to be a key part of that team, he’s got issues with both thumbs. He can’t shoot the ball. And so, his minutes have diminished. They’re getting less and less from that bench. That’s why they thought about signing Eddy Curry. That’s the level of desperation they had with that group there. That’s where Boston’s supposed to have the advantage here.”

If Shaquille O’Neal can return and give the C’s some quality minutes to complement Jermaine O’Neal, that would give Boston another advantage. “We’ll see what happens with Shaq, if he comes back,” Wojnarowski said. “Because Jermaine O’Neal really established himself as a big part of this Celtics postseason run with the way he played. He probably won Game 2 for Boston. I think Doc said he did, and I agree with him. His ability to defend the rim and block shots. Now, if Shaq comes back — maybe Shaq comes off the bench, maybe Shaq starts — but Boston’s bench has shown some signs in that New York series of playing better.”

Added Wojnarowski: “Doc said it all along: They had to have one of the O’Neals play. And Jermaine has played better. He exceeded my expectations. … You saw him defending, rebounding and just his movement around the floor and getting out, really being a lot of places, his rotation on defense, getting back, showing on the pick and roll and then getting back and protecting the rim. He brings a very high basketball IQ. He’s a smart guy, a veteran guy. And I thought he played great in that series and was the difference for Boston.

“But listen, Shaq still commands a double team in the post offensively. He still can rebound the ball. He can’t move like Jermaine can and defend all over the floor defensively the way Jermaine has showed himself to do. But there’s still things that Shaq brings to them that are going to help them, not just against Miami.

“You know, it’s funny: They don’t need him against Miami in terms of, Miami doesn’t have great size. But what it is is, he gives you an advantage. He gives you an edge where they have trouble matching up, and guys still have to foul him or double him. And so, while you don’t need him to match up with one of their guys, you say, ‘Hey, we have an advantage with him playing.’ So, that’s why you want him to play.”

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Doc Rivers’ son, Austin Rivers, named High School Player of the Year 04.21.11 at 1:35 pm ET
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Austin Rivers, the son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers, has been named the USA Today’s 2011 National High School Boy’s Basketball Player of Year.

Rivers, who is headed to Duke, averaged 28.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game for Winter Park (FL) High. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 20.2 points per game in helping lead the USA 18-Under National team to a win at the FIBA Americas U19 World Championships.

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Doc Rivers says the excuses are ‘all gone’ 04.15.11 at 5:17 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers is hoping Shaquille O’Neal returns to practice on Saturday after watching from the sidelines on Friday as the team began full-scale practice preparations for the Knicks Sunday night in Game 1 of their first-round series.

“He was doing good. He sat pretty well today, looked good over there,” Rivers said tongue-in-cheek. “It was terrific. He watched the entire practice.”

Rivers said the team is managing O’Neal’s calf injury as carefully as possible before letting him get back on the court.

“We knew that, we planned that,” Rivers added. “[Saturday] we’ll see what he can do. He did some of the walk-through stuff but I just don’t want to take a chance. We’ll find out [Saturday]. “He’ll practice hopefully and then we’ll make a decision after that.”

Delonte West (ankle) and Jermaine O’Neal both returned to full-scale practice on Friday and Rivers said both are ready to go for Sunday.

“Delonte’s fine, everybody else is fine,” Rivers said. “We’re 100 percent except for Shaq. Everybody else is pretty good and that’s good.” “We watched film for about an hour and a half [Thursday]. Then we walked through for another half-hour, 45 minutes but we didn’t do anything live.”

Friday was critical to Rivers because of the work accomplished in practice. Saturday figures to be even more significant.

“Today was a hard, long live practice. Everybody’s rested, every team is rested. There’s no excuses. It’s all gone. “It was a good that they could get their mind set on one opponent and walk through the game plan. Today we got to do a lot of live stuff. [Saturday] we’re going to do even more live stuff.

“With this new group, we’ve never [practiced that hard]. The worst part of the trade was the timing of the trade and the schedule, it just didn’t mesh for us. We never had days off, we never had practice time and then we had the injuries. At least now, I’m cutting out literally half of our offensive playbook. I’ve made a choice to run a couple of things well than a lot of things average and poor and so that’s the route we’re going.”

Read More: 2011 NBA Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, New York Knicks Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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