|Irish Coffee: Odds are, Celtics not No. 1?||03.14.11 at 11:47 am ET|
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
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, “No, 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.
“It 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.
“No, 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.
“Our 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.”
|Irish Coffee: Pat Riley longs for Doc Rivers||03.11.11 at 9:51 am ET|
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.
|Shaquille O’Neal feeling 84.22711556644222 percent||03.10.11 at 3:48 pm ET|
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)?
“It’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?
“I 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?
“It’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?
“She 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.”
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.”
|Irish Coffee: The Shaqtionary||03.08.11 at 11:04 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
The oldest player in the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal celebrated his 39th birthday where most almost over-the-hill men celebrate their birthdays — at Boston Children’s Museum.
The Celtics center who hasn’t played since Feb. 1 — and has already missed 25 games this season — told reporters he was 85 percent and would not return until he’s fully healthy, which could be as soon as next week. Here are the quotes from his birthday celebration, courtesy of The Globe:
“Hopefully, in the next week [I’ll be back]. They want me back at 100 percent. I tried to run on it the other day, and it felt pretty good, but I took a step back and I’m going to get back out there in a few days. I don’t really feel like I’m 39.’’
“If I can walk, I can play, and I asked many times to shoot it up, and you know, they refuse. And the Big Three said they want me at 100 percent healthy, so I’m getting there.’’
“I have a little Achilles soreness. It gets better, it comes back, it gets better, it comes back. It’s better. Dr. [Brian] McKeon is doing a great job. I’ve been working out twice a day, getting treatment. It’ll be right.’’
“[Kendrick] Perkins has meant a lot to this city, and he really helped them get No. 17 and we’re going to miss him. He was my main man. Everybody loves Perk. I love him. We became real good friends, and I congratulated him on his new deal. But this is a business. He’s going to be missed. We had a great time this year being on the same team.’’
So, there you have it. Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers, trainer Ed Lacerte, Dr. Brian McKeon and the Big Three all want Shaq to wait until he’s 100 percent before he returns to the court. He could play right now, but he’s won’t. The Celtics don’t need him now; they need him in the playoffs, so why rush him back? It’s a smart move by the Celtics, so can we just take it easy on the Shaq Watch?
Which brings me to a much more important topic. In honor of Shaq’s 39th birthday – which he called ShaqDay, which makes almost no sense — we scoured UrbanDictionary.com for the ultimate Shaqtionary, described as “the book that will be used to document all of the words that Shaquille O’Neal manages to create during his scrabble games.”
Of course, we eliminated the dirtiest definitions — like Shaq Off and Shaq’s Arm (use your imagination) – and came up with the following list …
|Doc Rivers to his new reserves: We don’t take practice off so you better be ready||03.05.11 at 8:40 pm ET|
WALTHAM — You could sense the urgency in his voice.
Doc Rivers is a coach who exudes confidence and a positive attitude. But he also calls it the way he sees it and can push the emotional buttons of his players when need be.
After practice Saturday, he sent a very clear message to his second unit.
“They’ve got to get out of their [old] habits, wherever they’ve been,” Rivers said, referring clearly to Jeff Green, Sasha Pavlovic, Troy Murphy and Nenad Krstic. “We don’t [practice] long but we play with intensity, play hard. You just see some of their habits and some of their habits have to change. It will. It’s just going to take time.”
Rivers made it clear before practice began with several hundred fans listening in that their “help” defense was very sub-par Friday night in a 107-103 win over the Warriors.
“Learning to cover for each other is number one,” Rivers said. “But you can’t do that unless you have unbelievable focus and intensity and that’s what we’re trying to show them. I thought they were trying to do the right stuff on their help [defense] but they were always late because they’re not ready.”
Then Rivers got really serious.
“A lot of pros practice and they think practice is leisure and we don’t believe that here. It’s quick here but it’s hard. When you have your starters, who are playing 35 minutes [a game] going hard and you have your second unit going in cruise control, that’s not going to settle well with me.”
During the open practice Saturday afternoon at their practice facility, which gave a peek to fans and special guests into some of their basic defensive principles, defensive coach Lawrence Frank called out positions and assignments and helped Rivers get the new players accustomed to the Celtics’ way of defending. Read the rest of this entry »