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Irish Coffee: Who wants the No. 1 seed more? 03.21.11 at 2:12 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Arguing that the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed is more important to the Bulls than the Celtics, Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen wrote, The Celtics know they can win on the road, while this Bulls team has yet to win a series under any circumstances.”

The logic is certainly sound, considering the veteran C’s defeated the Cavaliers and Magic and nearly won the 2010 NBA Finals as a No. 4 seed. But these are the Celtics’ probable Eastern Conference playoff matchups if they earn the No. 1 seed …

  • First Round: Pacers, Bucks or Bobcats
  • Eastern semis: Magic or Hawks
  • Conference finals: Bulls or Heat

And these are their probable conference playoff opponents if they get the No. 2 seed …

  • First Round: Knicks or 76ers
  • Eastern semis: Heat
  • Conference finals: Bulls

Now, which would you rather have? Door No. 1, right? Like, by a significant margin. Still, the Celtics seem to be aligning themselves with Thomsen’s thinking — at least, to NBA.com

Rajon Rondo: “If you ask me personally, I don’t think it’s so important. I think it’s important that we get our chemistry. We have a lot of new guys on our roster and lot of veterans. The focus should be on getting Shaq [O’Neal] back, getting J.O. [Jermaine O’Neal] back. Delonte [West] is getting acquainted. We’ve got to continue finding a way.”

Doc Rivers: “We’re gonna lean on the health side. I’m gonna always go that way, and we hope we can still win games and still get the No. 1 seed. But we’re not gonna get it if it means that we’re gonna have to give up health. Health is gonna be No. 1.

“Any timing when you get healthy is good timing. But I obviously would have preferred it to be right after the All-Star break. That’s when we hoped that everyone would be back and that we’d be able to kind of put the parts together. It just hasn’t happened. There’s nothing we can do about it. So we have to hope to figure it out on the fly.”

We should be able to determine if either team cares less about the top seed than the other simply by taking a look at whether or not Rivers or Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau are limiting their respective team’s minutes.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Derrick Rose, Doc Rivers
Irish Coffee: Nate Dogg, the Celtics & the legend of Brian Scalabrine 03.16.11 at 2:56 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Hip-hop lost one of its best when Nate Dogg died at age 41 on Tuesday. In memoriam, I figured I’d share one of the great scenes in basketball movie history — which, of course, featured the Warren G track “Regulate” (feat. Nate Dogg) at the crescendo (and, yes, I just used the word crescendo).

For those of you who might need the back story behind this “Above the Rim” scene, it’s not too complicated …

A former high school basketball star turned janitor named Shep stopped playing when his best friend died after dunking so hard on the top of a roof that he went through the hoop and fell off the top of the building. Just your every day, typical high school stuff.

So, the janitor — clearly the city’s most eligible bachelor — starts dating the mother of the school’s next great superstar, Kyle Lee Watson. The kid gets pissed, but eventually they all make up when Shep dominates a team coached by Tupac in a blacktop tournament while wearing corduroys.

Then, Avon Barksdale from “The Wire” tries to shoot Watson and Shep only to get shot himself. Eventually, Watson wins the Big East championship for Georgetown with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer while Shep and his mom decide to watch the game on TV in a bar rather than see the game in person. Got it? Good.

Nate Dogg had plenty of NBA ties, including one with the Celtics. He appeared on the Lloyd Banks song “Warrior,” also featuring 50 Cent and Eminem. The tune included the lyric:  “‘Cause he remembers when they wouldn’t lend a helping hand ’til he was sitting on green like a Celtics fan.”

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Read More: Austin Rivers, Boston Celtics, Brian Scalabrine, Doc Rivers
Irish Coffee: Odds are, Celtics not No. 1? 03.14.11 at 11:47 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

We’re entering the home stretch of the NBA season, and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference is a definite possiblity for the Celtics. But according to John Hollinger’s NBA Playoff Odds, the Bulls have a better shot — and the Heat have almost no shot — at that top spot.

While an Eastern Conference finals Game 7 at home is an added bonus, the ultimate prize for whichever of those three teams captures the No. 1 seed is the simple fact that the other two would have to battle each other in the conference semifinals, while the No. 1 seed would face either the Magic or Hawks in Round 2 — regardless of what Celtics head coach Doc Rivers or Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau would have you believe …

Rivers: “I would like it. It’s not going to be a deal-breaker for us, honestly. I want it, though. I think it’s important. But right now I can say I’m not focused on that at all. I’m not thinking about the one-seed at all. Early in the year we were clearly thinking about it, but right now I think about getting guys back healthy. Let’s act like a one-seed even if we’re not.”

Thibodeau: “That doesn’t guarantee anything. Where I think it does make a difference is Game 7 of a playoff series, to have it at home. You want to do your best to put as many things in your favor as possible.” 

So, the No. 1 seed has been the C’s ultimate goal all season, but it’s no longer the priority now that the Bulls have threatened to take it from them? I’m not buying it. The Celtics want that top seed, and they just might need it. How close will the race for the No. 1 seed be? Down to the wire, for sure. See for yourself …

CELTICS (47-17; 18 games remaining)

  • at New Jersey (21-43)
  • vs. Indiana (28-38)
  • at Houston (33-34)
  • at New Orleans (39-29)
  • at New York (34-31)
  • vs. Memphis (36-31)
  • vs. Charlotte (28-38)
  • at Minnesota (17-51)
  • at Indiana (28-38)
  • at San Antonio (54-12)
  • at Atlanta (38-28)
  • vs. Detroit (23-44)
  • vs. Philadelphia (34-32)
  • at Chicago (47-18)
  • vs. Washington (16-48)
  • at Miami (45-21)
  • at Washington (16-48)
  • vs. New York (34-31)

Home games remaining: 7
Opponents’ winning percentage: .482 (571-615)
ESPN.com odds to capture No. 1 seed: 39.4 percent
Record vs. remaining teams on schedule: 29-8 (.784)
Games remaining against .500-plus teams: 9
Games remaining against potential playoff teams: 12

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Doc Rivers, Miami Heat
Celtics don’t see a big point to setting a new team record at 7:41 am ET
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When Keyon Dooling missed a pair of free throws with 22 seconds left, the Celtics had themselves a brand new franchise record for fewest points allowed in a game.

No team in the shot clock era had ever scored a few as the 56 points the Bucks managed Sunday night in an 87-56 Celtics’ win.

But the Celtics weren’t exactly popping champagne corks afterward.

Asked if he were aware of the new record his team just set, Paul Pierce quipped, ‘€œNo, I didn’€™t have my NBA record book on the bench with me tonight so I didn’€™t realize.’€

To Pierce and the rest of the Celtics, Sunday night was more about getting back to 48 minutes of quality defensive basketball and not suffering breakdowns and let downs in communication following losses to the Clippers and Sixers.

‘€œIt was definitely encouraging just to put together a four-quarter game of defense,” Pierce said. “I definitely thought we did that tonight. Especially when we are integrating a lot of new players, coming back home after coming off of two losses, it was just to get back comfortable in our building and play the type of defense that we like to play.’€

Doc Rivers looked at it a different way. He saw the schedule and took into consideration the hour lost due to daylight savings time and the travel the Bucks went through to get to Boston to play a 6 p.m. game less than 24 hours after beating the Sixers at home.

‘€œNo, honestly, did we set a record? I didn’€™t know that,” Rivers said. “I really thought this was one of those schedule losses for Milwaukee. I just thought this was very similar to the game we had against Phoenix where you play a game and you lose an hour going backwards and then they lost another hour with the time change, and then we started the game at 6:00.

“So, I just thought ‘€“ you looked at the schedule ‘€“ I was concerned early in the game because we were up 10 and we were blowing layups; we were missing a lot of shots. You could see they were tired. So, we took advantage of that and that was great, but a lot of it had to do with their schedule.’€

So, to be honest about it, Rivers said it’s great to win a game by 31 but he’s not about to draw any long-range conclusions about the quality of his team or how well his team got the message of toughening up in the fourth quarter.

‘€œOur defense was good, but we don’€™t know how good our defense was tonight, even though ‘€“ I would say our effort was phenomenal. And that’€™s all we talked about, we’€™re trying to sustain effort loner defensively and get back to doing that. Now that we’€™re starting to get ‘€“ we have one body back. Hopefully Delonte (West) is back, not tomorrow but the game after that. So you know, it’€™s what we need to do.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA
Irish Coffee: Pat Riley longs for Doc Rivers 03.11.11 at 9:51 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Four months ago, when rumors started swirling that Pat Riley wants Doc Rivers to replace Erik Spoelstra as head coach of the Heat in 2011-12 (if there is a 2011-12 season), the current Celtics head  coach told WEEI: “As far as I’€™m concerned, I’€™m a Celtic and I plan on being that for a long time, as long as I’€™m coaching.”

Yet, Riley still pines for his former point guard when the two were Knicks, like Rick Blaine longed for Ilsa Lund in “Casablanca.”  Unfortunately for the Heat president, Rivers chose Celtics orchestrator Danny Ainge as his Victor Laszlo.

We’ll let Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski explain

Yes, Riles has long been intrigued with Doc Rivers, his old point guard with the New York Knicks. In his mind, Doc’€™s an extension of his own coaching tree. He must love to hear Rivers tell the story about how Riles told him that he would one day be a coach, about how Doc told him that he was crazy. The Celtics have a contract extension waiting for Rivers, sources say, but so far he’€™s wanted to wait until the season’€™s end to deal with it. For him, it would be difficult to make a direct leap from an aging Celtics roster to the Heat. Rivers is too entrenched, too woven into the franchise’€™s fabric now. What would happen to his relationships with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, with that city, those fans who adore him?

Nevertheless, he’€™s perfect for Miami. He’€™s a championship coach. He has a blueprint for making a Big Three work, for holding difficult stars accountable and together. Yet Rivers has a relationship with his GM that Riley has never had with a coach. He isn’€™t afraid to tell GM Danny Ainge that he’€™s completely wrong, that he’€™s going to do it his way and that that’€™s just way it has to be. Rivers and Ainge can argue, debate and sometimes even rage, but ultimately Ainge lets Rivers coach the Celtics. It’€™s hard to imagine a scenario where Riley, or Rivers, could have the autonomy that they would need to co-exist. Go down the list of strong-minded, successful coaches, and ask yourself how many could come from the outside and fit into that insular Heat world.

Do you think every time the Celtics visit American Airlines Arena, Riley quotes the words written by Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein‘s grandfather and great uncle: “Of all the arenas, in all the towns, in all the world, he walks into mine”?

Celtics fans can revel in the fact that the Heat essentially want to be the Celtics, from the president right on down to the players. And to throw another log on the fire, read Jessica Camerato’s discussion with former Heat starter and current C’s backup point guard Carlos Arroyo — conducted in Spanish and translated by Miami blog Hot Hot Hoops — during which Arroyo explains the difference between the two teams:

“I think it starts with the players. Not every player has incredible team chemistry. [Boston] already has a lot of time together, and they know each other very well on the court. I think that’€™s what Miami is missing. Boston always has a very complete team and I hope it happens this year.”

For everybody’s sake, let’s jut hope Riley doesn’t start crying in the front office.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Shaquille O’Neal feeling 84.22711556644222 percent 03.10.11 at 3:48 pm ET
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Celtics center Shaquille O’€™Neal joined WEEI’€™s Mut & Merloni show this morning. He touched on everything from his health to eating pizza with the elderly — and everything in between.

You can hear the entire interview on WEEI.com right here. And here is the transcription:

How’€™s O’€™Neal’€™s Achilles (he hasn’€™t played since Feb. 1)?

‘€œIt’€™s getting better. I can remember a time when I was 19, I’€™d get hit by a car and five minutes later I’€™d be Ok. The older you get, it takes time to heal. I’€™ve been getting better, a little stronger, but there’€™s still a little pain. I’€™ve been instructed by Doc [Rivers] and the Big Three to come back when there’€™s no pain. It’€™s their call. Doc and I are from the same era. If it’€™s not getting better, shoot it up and let’€™s go out and play. But we’€™re looking at the 1825 thing (see below) here, so we want to do things right. The team’€™s playing well. [Nenad] Krstic is doing a fabulous job. They want me 1,000 percent, especially for the postseason, because that’€™s when it really counts.’€

How did O’€™Neal feel about the Kendrick Perkins trade?

‘€œI was training, and I heard about the trade. It was kind of a sad ordeal. I got to know a lot about him and got to see his work ethic. I didn’€™t realize he was from Texas. I’€™m from Texas. We hung out on the road and got to talk strategies, talk shop and then business kicks in. He’€™s a very physical player — long arms, plays hard, not afraid of anybody, takes the elbow, gives them out, hard-nosed guy. We’€™re going to miss him. Boston’€™s going to miss him. He’€™s done a lot for the Boston community. He helped them get No. 17, and it’€™s been an honor to play with him.’€

How difficult will it be to integrate the newest Celtics?

‘€œIt’€™s difficult, but it’€™s not difficult. You brought in five consistent role players — guys who are used to being role players. Everybody’€™s gonna be playing off the Big Three. We know that. We just have to create a rhythm and keep it going. We’€™re looking very good right now. We’€™re going to be full strength very soon, and then we know what’€™s at hand. A lot of people play for championships, but for us — for the city of Boston — it’€™s something different. Something I call 1825: 18 for the beautiful people of Boston, two for Ray [Allen] and Doc and Kevin [Garnett] and those guys, and five for me. It was also the year John Quincy Adams was inaugurated, and he was a Boston guy. So, for us, it’€™s bigger than winning.’€

What has it been like for O’€™Neal to work with Jackie MacMullan on a book?

‘€œShe knew things that I’€™d forgotten about. We were sitting at the house talking — we meet twice a week for three hours. She asks me questions, and I ‘€˜ve got to dig in my old Shaqodex. I’€™m like, ‘€˜That’€™s 13 years ago.’€™ It should be a very exciting book — no holds barred. ‘€˜Tell-all’€™ wouldn’€™t be the correct term. ‘€˜Truthful’€™ would be the better term.’€

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, nenad krstic
Nenad Krstic: I’m lost a little because ‘Oklahoma is still in my head’ at 12:43 pm ET
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Nenad Krstic had a season-high 20 points in 38 minutes but he admitted afterward he wasn’t satisfied with his defense in a 108-103 loss to the Clippers at TD Garden.

Krstic and the Celtics had tremendous difficulty early on stopping DeAndre Jordan and the rest of the Clippers front court, which scored early and often en route to shooting 68 percent in the first half and building a 60-42 halftime lead.

Krstic came to Boston on deadline day, Feb. 24 with Jeff Green in exchange for the defensive-minded Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson. Krstic is still trying to get accustomed to thinking the Celtics’ way – which begins and ends with defense.

“I just need to get better, need to be more focused,” Krstic said. “Sometimes, I’m a lost a little bit because of a different style of playing. Oklahoma is still in my head. I’m just really trying to get adjusted. It just takes time, especially when you play games. It’s different in practice but in games you just have to react.

“It’s going to come. I just need to get used to more of the guys. Sometimes, I’m trying to do too much, over help and have a couple of stupid fouls, too. I know I scored 20 points but I need to focus on my defense and help the team.”

Doc Rivers still has confidence in his new starting center.

“Krstic overall is playing pretty well,” Rivers said. “He’s got to hold his ground a little bit. The problem we had going into the game, and I’m kind of kicking myself, is I told our bigs — the two bigs that we have right now due to all the injuries — you can’t get in foul trouble. “So if it comes down to you getting out of the way, you almost had to. Because we couldn’t afford Kevin [Garnett] or Nenad in foul trouble.

“And it actually happened anyway.”

Krstic said he’s confident the defensive part of his game will come but it will take time.

“Just not having been on the court at the same time together is the problem,” Krstic said of the chemistry with his new teammates. “Sometimes, especially in the first half, our second unit is almost all new guys, and we’re not used to each other. I think that was a problem tonight, we just haven’t spent too much time together playing. It’s going to take some time, but obviously with this team, we pick it up really quickly.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jeff Green, Kendrick Perkins
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