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Paul Pierce on Celtics’ future hopes: ‘As Rondo goes, we go’ 04.06.11 at 10:38 am ET
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Paul Pierce could see it. Doc Rivers could see it. So could Kevin Garnett. All of the Celtics‘ leaders essentially said the same thing following Tuesday’s 99-82 win over the 76ers at TD Garden. The Celtics are slowly but surely getting in playoff form, and if they are going anywhere, they’re going to need Rajon Rondo to get them there.

Rondo had 16 points and 13 assists and led the charge all night long as the Celtics were pressed early and often by a young Philadelphia team trying to show it could be a legitimate threat come the playoffs if the two meet in the first round.

“You expect Rajon to play that way every night,” Pierce said. “He’s set a standard for himself over the last couple of years with his play. It’s no surprise when I look up and he has those type of numbers. I just think his next step is being more consistent with it to where he’s putting up 13, 14, 15 assists every night, but that comes as you get older. I was in that position, too, as a young player, just learning how to be consistent with it. As Rondo goes, we go. When he has these monster assist games, we usually win.”

“He was just aggressive and attacking and shooting,” Rivers said of Rondo, his prized floor general. “You can see he’s getting himself ready, you can just feel that. I don’t know if he plays with great focus all game right now, or if any of our guys do. But you can see what they’re all doing. They’re in some ways sharpening their tools in spurts. It’s tough for coaches. You’d like for them to do that and keep doing it. But they know where they’re at.”

As for team consistency, the captain said the Celtics showed enough to overcome the Sixers, learning from recent history where they have had a hard time protecting a double-digit lead. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Doc Rivers, NBA
Doc Rivers on D&C: Jeff Green ‘could be a good defensive player’ at 10:21 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning, following Tuesday night’s 99-82 victory over the 76ers. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Asked if beating the Sixers was a statement win, considering the teams could meet in the first round of the playoffs, Rivers said it would mean more to a younger team. “All we got out of that game is that we played better in the second half, and that’s it for us,” he said.

Shaquille O’Neal left Sunday’s win over the Pistons with a strained right calf muscle. Rivers said Shaq will not play Thursday in Chicago. As for Friday vs. the Wizards: “I doubt it.” Sunday vs. the Heat? “Maybe.”

Said Rivers: “We’re going to be very cautious with him. I would like to play him a couple of games, but only if he’s feeling great. If not, we’ll just wait.”

Jeff Green has shown flashes of solid play since coming over from the Thunder, but Rivers said he needs more consistency from the young forward. “He looked great last night,” Rivers said. “We’re asking him to do a lot. We’re asking him to play two positions. But it does, it has to be a repetitive act for him every night, the same intensity level every night, and I think he’s learning to do that. And that’s good, because he can really help us win games.”

Green was supposed to give the Celtics a defensive boost, but Rivers said he may have been hampered by being forced to guard at two positions. “He could be a good defensive player,” Rivers said. “Is he a 3 or a 4? He’s a 3. He’s played 4 his whole career thus far. With Oklahoma he had no choice. They put [Kevin] Durant on the 3s and they put him on the 4s. ‘€¦ I think he’s a better 3 than 4 defensively just from the power standpoint. But I do think he can be a good defender. I think right now he’s an OK defender.”

Asked why Troy Murphy isn’t contributing more to the Celtics, Rivers said, “He’s been injured. I don’t think it’s any deeper than that. Yesterday was his first day back after one practice. ‘€¦ He’s not going to average a double-double with us. He’s just not going to get the minutes.”

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Read More: Doc Rivers, Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal
‘Tentative’ Nenad Krstic: The pain is still there but ‘I think I’ll be ready for the playoffs’ 04.05.11 at 9:55 am ET
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Doc Rivers called his first practice since bruising his right knee a “tentative” one but Nenad Krstic was just happy to be back on the court Monday afternoon working out and getting ready for what he believes will be his return tonight against the 76ers at TD Garden.

Of course, it looked a lot worse for Krstic last Thursday night in San Antonio when his knee appeared to buckle in the second quarter.

He came off the court, did not play again that night and immediately went for an MRI the next day.

“I was upset but I knew right away [it wasn’t serious] or anything like that,” Krstic said. “When I was in New Jersey, I had the ACL [tear] and I knew it wasn’t the ACL. I was thinking maybe it was meniscus but obviously, I’m not a doctor. But I was just waiting for the MRI and the day and a half was really long for me.

“I can get through the pain but it’s just still in my head a little bit. Sometimes, I’m afraid to jump or slide [step] or cutting but I’ll be ready. I’ve been through a whole practice. I’ll be fine but we’ll see.”

When the MRI revealed only a bone bruise, he took a deep breath and began getting his mind ready to return to practice within the next week, assuming his knee would allow him.

“Maybe in my head, I’m just trying to still protect it a little bit,” Krstic said. “Mentally, I’m not 100 percent. My knee, I still feel pain but MRI showed it’s nothing really serious so I can get through that pain. I know it’s not going to get serious. Mentally, it’s just the first practice after. It was really tough for me. I was thinking it was more serious when it [happened] but maybe it’s still in my head.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Ed Lacerte, Kendrick Perkins
Doc Rivers sounds a hopeful tone on Shaquille O’Neal 04.04.11 at 3:32 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers is holding out hope that he may get Shaquille O’Neal back by the end of the week after the big man strained his right calf on Sunday night in his first game back since early February.

“He may play at the end of the week,” said Rivers following Monday’s practice, which included every player except O’Neal. “We’re just not sure yet. If that’s what it requires. We’re going to do whatever they tell us is required. Other than that, I would love to play him, honestly, a couple of game.”

Rivers indicated O’Neal would definitely miss Tuesday’s home game against the 76ers after playing just six minutes in Sunday’s 101-90 win over the Pistons.

“If we can get that up to 20 minutes, that would be great. He looked agile. His energy was high. As far as his [six] minutes of play, that was good.”

Meanwhile, Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy both returned to practice on Monday and are expected to give a try on Tuesday night at TD Garden. “I thought Nenad was tentative, honestly, but he got through the whole practice and that was good,” Rivers said of Krstic, who suffered only a bruised knee last Thursday in 10 minutes of play at San Antonio. Murphy rolled his ankle in practice on March 24 and has missed the last six games.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, NBA, nenad krstic
Irish Coffee: Celtics rotating rotations at 11:48 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Unlike the last three years, when Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has had his rotation locked into place heading into the playoffs — whether Kevin Garnett was healthy (2008, 2010) or not (2009) — this postseasonseason will be a guessing game, at least for the first round.

As he said postgame — and Paul Flannery detailed when he nailed his Three-Pointer column — Rivers knows exactly what he wants it to be, and what he’s always wanted it to be this season.

‘€œWe’€™re not getting that set. That’€™s going to be just tough. What we have to do is get everyone on the same page, rhythm-wise. As far as rotations, I know it. It’€™s set. But we just got to get it together. We’€™ll be ready. If everyone’€™s healthy, I can tell you, I know it. I just haven’€™t seen it.’€

On paper, it’s written. On the court? Rivers doesn’t know what it’s actually going to be. Therein lies the problem. The Celtics will be relying on the unkown — on chemistry, rhythm, whatever you want to call it — more during this playoff run than any other over the past three seasons.

It’s not the first half of the rotation that’s a problem. The Big Four were always going to be relied on for 30-40 minutes a game in the playoffs, and that hasn’t changed. It’s the uncertainty at center, Jeff Green‘s role and the expectations for Delonte West that cause problems.

The fact remains that Rivers is relying on a rotation that’s never actually been put into action on the court. Here’s what the Celtics coach told the Chicago Sun-Times:

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jermaine O'Neal, nenad krstic
With Shaq hurt again, having Jermaine O’Neal back is a good start for the Celtics at 8:59 am ET
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Just like the rest of the season for the Celtics‘ bigs, Sunday didn’t exactly turn out the way Doc Rivers and company planned.

Jermaine O’Neal got the clearance to start his first game since early November and Rivers thought, with Shaquille O’Neal coming back for the first time since early February, he would finally have some depth at the position that’s been – pardon the terrible pun – the team’s Achilles.

J-O played nearly seven of the 12 first-quarter minutes and was getting his feet wet in his third game back from a left knee scope. He finished with five points and six rebounds in 18 minutes. But it wasn’t until the shootaround Sunday evening that he felt confident enough to let Rivers know he was comfortable starting the game.

‘€œFelt good, felt good to be back, it’€™s just going to be about progression, [Sunday] was probably the first day felt sore coming to the game,” O’Neal said. “Didn’€™t even know I was going to start until the shoot around, but we got into the weight room, did some legs stuff. But that’€™s just part of the process. [Monday], I’ll get a practice in, get acquainted with the new system. They’€™ve changed some plays some I’€™m kind of learning on the fly and asking Rondo at the same time during the game, where I’€™m supposed to be.’€

That general soreness and stiffness was not a concern to O’Neal since it had nothing to do with his left knee.

‘€œI’€™ve never been concerned about the knee being sore and having set backs,” O’Neal said. “It’€™s more about the body being sore with the banging and stuff like that. But I’€™ve passed all the tests that I’€™m supposed pass so I’€™m pretty excited about that.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jermaine O'Neal, NBA
Irish Coffee: Celtics sign Saleh, add frontcourt depth 04.01.11 at 12:07 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

With the concerns about the health of all three of their potential starting centers — Nenad Krstic, Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal — the Celtics have added depth at the position by signing former Winabi Parish School standout power forward Saleh, according to Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation

“Do the names [Hakeem] Olajuwon, Manute Bol or Dikembe Mutombo mean anything to you?” said Jimmy Dolan, a former assistant coach at Saint Joe’s College who represents Saleh.

Dolan discovered Saleh at a 1994 faculty dinner while watching a film about Saint Joe’s missionary efforts in Africa. Also a member of Saint Joe’s 1981 NCAA title team, Dolan represented the 35-year-old Saleh in the C’s negotiations of a $40,000 deal — or the equivalent of 40 cows — with the 6-foot-9 post who possesses a “vertical leap that’s off the charts.”

“I would like to play for the Celtics very, very much,” said Saleh, who learned about the NBA in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition. “My father is a stubborn man. He says I have a lot to learn before I’m a leader.”Asked if he’s ready for the NBA, Saleh added, “Does a zebra have stripes?”

Saleh agreed to sign with the Celtics after leading his Winabi squad to a comeback victory against rival Mingori, 57-56. Without their starting point guard, his team trailed by 10 with a little more than two minutes to play, but Saleh sparked an 11-0 run, capped by his game-winning windmill dunk as time expired — a move he dubbed “The Jimmy Dolan Shake and Bake.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Dwyane Wade, nenad krstic
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