|Four Celtics headed for All-Star Game||02.03.11 at 7:13 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo were all named to the 2011 NBA All-Star Game on Thursday night, joining head coach Doc Rivers on the Eastern Conference team. It’s the ninth time in NBA history that four teammates have been named to one squad, and the first since 2006 when the Pistons had four. The Celtics have done it three times ‘ 1953, 1962 and 1975.
WALTHAM — Delonte West took another significant step in his attempt to return from a broken right wrist when he went through a full shootaround and skeleton practice with the Celtics on Thursday at their practice facility.
“He didn’t practice,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He just did the shootaround and the shooting and that’s about it.”
But Rivers acknowledged it was significant that West could take part in catch-and-shooting drills without any protection whatsoever on his wrist, broken on Nov. 24 in home game vs. New Jersey.
“That’s nice. He did run through all of our skeleton stuff so obviously, the next step will be him going through a practice,” said Rivers before adding that there is still no specific timetable for West to return to game action. “I have no idea. No time soon I don’t think but I’m not sure.”
|Doc Rivers makes his case for 4 Celtics as All-Stars||at 4:04 pm ET|
WALTHAM — After getting snubbed by the fans and being left without a single All-Star starter, the Celtics could get their retribution when All-Star reserves are announced Thursday night.
The Celtics have four viable candidates in Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. By virtue of having the top record in the Eastern Conference, Doc Rivers will have the honor of coaching the East All-Stars on Feb. 20 in Los Angeles.
“I think I should get four guys on the roster,” Rivers said following practice Thursday. “If I don’t, I’d be very disappointed and if I do, I’ll just play them all together. That way we can run offense in the All-Star Game. That’d be a first.”
The Detroit Pistons had four All-Stars on the Eastern squad in 2006 but it is very rare for one team – no matter how good their record – to place four players on a team.
“If it happens, and let’s hope it happens, then my choice will be who will be the fifth, Some interesting combinations you can throw out,” said Rivers, before adding who he might throw out onto the court with his four players.
“Whoever is closest to free agency just so they can see how it would feel. I think it should happen. It’s clear. It’d be nice. You look at the four guys, all of them have really sacrificed their individual numbers for team wins and sometimes that’s held against them and I hope it’s not in this case.”
Celtics center Kendrick Perkins joined the Dale & Holley show Thursday afternoon and talked about his early return from knee surgery. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
“I just put in a lot of hard work,” he explained. “Every day I was in here making sure I was getting my physical therapy in, making sure I was in the weight room every day. I just wanted to get back. I wanted to get back the smart way.”
Perkins acknowledged that he has a ways to go before he returns to form. “There’s a few times around the basket where I’m used to just catching it and going up and dunking,” he said. “My lift is not all the way there yet.”
Perkins said he’s pleased with the minutes he’s been getting since coming back. “I can’t complain,” he said. “I’m happy to be back out there. I’m playing a lot right now. So, I can’t complain one bit. I know one thing about Doc [Rivers], he’s going to look out for my best interests. But he also wants to win games. So, if I’m not producing, I should come out. But I feel like if I’m producing out there, then just leave me out there. I think he’s gradually starting to play me a little bit more and more. So it’s cool.”
The absence of Perkins in the first half of the season was made easier for the Celtics with the play of Shaquille O’Neal. “I think he’s brought a lot,” Perkins said. “Obviously, he’s given us depth. For a 38-year-old man, he’s playing well. He’s fit right on in with us. The chemistry is great. Obviously, you know everything about his basketball ‘ he’s physical, he’s intimidating and all this. So, I think he brings a lot to the team. A lot.”
Perkins called Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo “divas” when they gave him a hard time about signing a poster for him. He was asked to elaborate on that comment. “Divas are like people who want things a certain way ‘ their way ‘ all the time. That’s what divas are,” he said. “They want their socks laid out a certain way or something of that nature. That’s why I called them divas. They want their own seat on the bench and stuff like that. They give a teammate and a friend that they’ve known for years trouble about signing a poster for me. That’s divas ‘ just giving me a hard time, but they know they’re really going to do it, but they’ve got to give you a hard time first.”
Ray Allen ripped into the second unit at halftime of Tuesday’s victory over the Kings. Perkins said he was surprised but pleased with the veteran’s rare outburst. “I was very shocked,” Perkins said. “Because you know, Ray is a guy who very seldom shows emotions. I think he’s always one of the most poised guys on the team. So, he was very frustrated at halftime, and he had a reason to be. I actually was shocked, but I actually was like, ‘Yeah, Ray!’ I loved it. First I thought it was KG when I walked in. But it was Ray, so I was loving it.”
Perkins was injured in Game 6 of the 2010 finals and did not play in Game 7 as the Lakers rallied for the win. Asked if he thinks the Celtics would have won the title had he been healthy, he said: “I think so. I know one thing ‘ we probably wouldn’t have gotten outrebounded by 20. So, I believe so.”
The Celtics have thus far avoided a second-half letdown like the one that hurt them last season, costing them homecourt advantage for most of the playoffs. Rivers acknowledged that the obvious reason is the health of Kevin Garnett, but he noted that there are other factors as well, including having a healthy Paul Pierce.
“People forget, both were injured. Paul Pierce had the knee surgery as well as Kevin Garnett,” Rivers said. “So, I think those two things are the biggest difference. And [Rajon] Rondo is another year [more experienced], playing great. And Ray Allen is having an unbelievable season. I think all those, in the one basket, is the reason we’re playing well. But the big key is Kevin and Paul.”
Allen gave a fiery speech before Rivers entered the locker room at halftime of Tuesday’s victory over the Kings. Rivers said Allen got everyone’s attention because he’s not normally that vocal.
“Yeah, that was out of the ordinary, for sure. The tone and just the entire speech,” Rivers said. “It was more about playing the right away. And you could hear it. It was at the second unit. He wasn’t mad at the starters. it was all directed to the second unit. The starters came out and played great to start that game, and then the second unit kind of let it go. And it was more how they’re were playing. And that’s what he was frustrated with.”
Reggie Miller has said he’s cheering for Allen to break his record for most 3-pointers all-time, as Allen is within eight of the former Pacers star and current TNT analyst. However, the hosts said they don’t believe Miller, never known for his graciousness during his playing days, is telling the truth. “No, I don’t believe him, either,” Rivers said. “I’m going to call ‘bull’ on that one with Reggie.”
|On the Celtics and clutch plays||01.28.11 at 3:02 pm ET|
Over on True Hoop, Henry Abbott wrote a post about one of his favorite topics: The perception of Kobe Bryant as a clutch player versus the reality of his numbers in ‘clutch’ situations. Abbott’s main point is that Bryant makes about one-third of his shots in the clutch, which is about average for every other player in the league.
This is one those third-rail arguments that generate lots of heat and discussions since Bryant fans will never concede on the clutch argument. They have watched him make too many big shots. On the other side, this is manna for Bryant opponents since they have likewise watched him miss contested shots with the game on the line.
The thing that truly stands about Bryant is this regard is that if the game’s on the line he’s going to take the shot. Abbott points to a five-year study done by Roland Beech at 82games.com that shows that Bryant took 56 shots in clutch situations and had just one assist. The other thing that stood about the study? Paul Pierce had the most assists in those situations with nine.
There are a number of different conclusions one can jump based just on those numbers, but let’s start with the idea that Bryant, and therefore the Lakers, are relatively easy to defend in late-game situations because everyone knows that Bryant is going to take the shot. Maybe easy isn’t the right word, since defending Bryant is no one’s idea of a good time. Let’s say instead that they are predictable.
The Celtics have their own version of Kobe in the clutch: Pierce at the elbow. Time and again the Celtics return to sets that puts the ball in Pierce’s hands near the top of the key where he attempts to work into his sweet spot at the elbow for a 15-foot jump shot. There are good reasons for this, most prominently is that Pierce is the Celtics’ best one-on-one player and the one who is best able to create his own shot.
When it works, Pierce is a cold-blooded assassin. And when it doesn’t, fans scream that it’s a predictable, low-percentage play.
Despite this tendency, the Celtics and coach Doc Rivers also have a well-deserved reputation for coming up with interesting plays out of timeouts. Just this year alone there was the gorgeous Rajon Rondo lob to Kevin Garnett that beat the 76ers and this motion set that gave Ray Allen a 3 that put the Celtics ahead of Detroit.
The point is that in late-game situations opponents can never be too sure where the Celtics are going. Sometimes they aren’t either. Most of Rivers’ plays have multiple options that rely on his players reacting to the different looks the defenses give them.
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra noted in a radio interview that he had “great respect” for the plays Rivers draws up out of timeouts. Spoelstra said, “They always seem to come out with something. You don’t know which guy they’re going to, and they execute well.”
Take for example that Pierce game-winner against the Heat in Game 3 of last year’s playoffs. On the surface it seemed like an ordinary ISO play for Pierce, but there were other factors.
“We had two plays called just in case they fouled,” Rivers said after the game. “What we tried to get is Paul facing the basket because it’s very difficult to commit a foul when you’re facing. If you reach and grab he’ll throw the ball up. The whole play was for Paul, but we wanted activity.”
This, ultimately, is what you want out of late-game situations. A play with movement and options that leads to the best shot available by the player who is most willing to take it. Give Bryant this: He doesn’t shy away from the moment. That may not make him a clutch shooter, but he is completely unafraid of the situation. Perhaps, as Abbott suggests, to his detriment.
|Kendrick Perkins, NBA officials and how you know ‘Perk’s back’ for real||01.26.11 at 2:21 pm ET|
Memo to Kendrick Perkins: While you were gone from the NBA – impressively rehabbing your right knee – the league decided to give more power to the referees that officiate NBA games.
During their annual meeting last fall in Jersey City, N.J., the league’s officials, in conjunction with the league, announced new guidelines for technical fouls, including T’ing up any and all “overt” player reactions to calls.
Just because we’re here to help, here’s what NBA officials are on the lookout for in determining whether a player should be “T’d” up:
– Running directly at an official to complain about a call.
– Excessive inquiries about a call, even in a civilized tone.
– Players making aggressive gestures, such as air punches, anywhere on the court.
– Demonstrative disagreement, such as when a player incredulously raises his hands, or smacks his own arm to demonstrate how he was fouled.
This season, refs have also been instructed to consider technicals on players who use body language to question or demonstrate displeasure. Additionally, officials can also consider techs on players who “take the long path to the official,” i.e., walking across the court to make their case.
So, what would a return to NBA game action be without Perk testing out those new limits?
He did just that in the first half when he was called for a personal foul and raised his arms and scowled that trademark “Perk Scowl”. But apparently, he mellowed during physical therapy. He stopped short of getting a tech. Last season, Perk was called for seven technicals in the playoffs alone, but the second one in Game 5 against the Magic in the Eastern Conference finals was rescinded by the league, thus he avoided suspension.
If a player accumulates 16 in a regular season, he draws an automatic one-game suspension. Perk has a long way to go to approach that.
‘He’s going to get a tech soon,” coach Doc Rivers smiled and laughed after Tuesday’s win over Cleveland. “Yeah, we’ll see I think because he started so late he can’t get to the number. So I think we’re safe there because at the end of the day Perk’s going to be Perk. I mean, he almost ran after the guy the one time. And I was thinking, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Perk’s back.’ That’s the whole bench; when he did it the bench started laughing, saying ‘Perk’s back.’ I’m thinking we have a cushion.’ Read the rest of this entry »
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