|Doc Rivers needs more out of Semih Erden||01.15.11 at 2:05 pm ET|
Doc Rivers admitted after Friday’s escape against the Charlotte Bobcats – without Shaquille O’Neal and Rajon Rondo playing at another level, the Celtics wouldn’t have been too happy.
And rookie Semih Erden would’ve led the list of players feeling pretty miserable.
On a night when the depleted front court needed minutes from their Turkish import, Shaquille O’Neal had to play 35 minutes because Erden – still learning the intricacies of the NBA. Rivers was more than aware that Erden was playing one day after missing practice with a pulled groin.
“Semih, we just needed him more on the floor tonight,” Rivers said. “I just kept telling him, just point, and we’ll get you out, and then we’ll bring you back in and do whatever we can, but we need you tonight. And they went small and we did a great job of not forcing it to them, but letting it come to them in the flow without taking us out of our flow.”
Rivers would not give the rookie a free pass just because of the injury.
“I don’t ask,” Rivers said. “If a guy’s playing, he’s healthy. Listen, they don’t care on the other team.If you’re going to be out on the floor, I don’t want to hear about it and neither does the other team. That’s how we always function, and our guys know that.”
Rondo fell just four rebounds shy of another triple-double while Shaq scored a game-high 23 points in the Celtics’ 99-94 win over the Bobcats Friday night at TD Garden. The Celtics were very effective from long distance, draining 8-of-19 from beyond the arc.
The Celtics joined the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat as 30-game winners, improving to 30-9 on the season and 2-1 on their six-game homestand. They are off until Monday night when they host Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in the possible return of Kevin Garnett to the Celtics lineup.
And, if called upon, Rivers hopes Erden does his level best to stay on the court.
The date was April 8, 2009. The site was New Orleans. Shaquille O’Neal led his Phoenix Suns to a 105-100 win over the Hornets. O’Neal scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and accomplished it in 36 minutes, 38 seconds of action.
That was the last time O’Neal played 35 minutes in a game – before Friday night.
On a night when the Celtics were without three big men and another fell into early foul trouble and had a sore groin, O’Neal delivered the goods.
The 38-year-old center played a season-high 35 minutes, scoring 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting, leading the Celtics to a 99-94 win over Charlotte Friday night at TD Garden. After the game, O’Neal said he wasn’t motivated by Doc Rivers‘ pre-game jab that the future Hall-of-Famer is day-to-day and will be for the rest of the season because “he’s old as hell.”
“I would agree,” O’Neal said without hesitation. “I’ve been around a long time. I knew that whatever happened I was going to be ready. I’ve been in foul trouble and haven’t really played a lot of minutes so there was really no excuse for me to be tired. I just came out and got a few more touches tonight and just did what I do.”
The signs were there early on that Shaq was ready to turn back the clock 5-10 years – like when he ran the court with Rajon Rondo and finished the two-man break by flushing down a jam on an alley-oop from Rondo with 9:36 left in the first quarter.
“It helps a lot when he’s out there looking for me,” O’Neal said of Rondo. “He’s played well. It’s my job when I get the ball I have to finish. Whether its low or a little drop off.”
O’Neal added that he’s on the Celtics to do whatever the team needs, especially while Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and Jermaine O’Neal are out of the lineup.
On Friday, it was Shaq who had to help out the bench when Semih Erden picked up fouls early and often. When Erden was whistled for his fourth with 1:29 left in the third quarter, neither Shaq nor coach Doc Rivers were particularly pleased.
“I was [ticked] too. Shaq wants to play but he doesn’t want to play 35 minutes and he had just said coming out, ‘Give me a blow here’ and then bam, bam, Semih’s out,” Rivers said. “With Shaq, it’s just too many minutes. You know, tonight we had no choice. It’s not a big deal for one night; I don’t worry about it. And we don’t play again until Monday, so that’s nice. It came at the right moment.”
It was just Wednesday, when O’Neal played just over 13 minutes, that Rivers felt Shaq took a foul just to get out of the game and get a seat on the bench in the second half.
“You know a lot of times I get fouls helping out so I got to be selective,” O’Neal said. “So I knew we were a big man short so it was like a couple lay ups I knew I had to let go. I was just trying to play smart.”
So how does he go from 13 minutes to 35 minutes, 13 seconds in the span of 48 hours?
“I live in Sudbury and the people at Sudbury Farms won’t allow me to eat junk food,” O’Neal explained. “So I’m eating salad, eating fish. I’m really in shape and work out every night. I’m ready. I came here to be ready.”
As for his role now, O’Neal said he’s not worried about that.
“I’m here to do whatever Doc asks me to do,” O’Neal added. “I knew that whatever happened I was going to be ready. I’ve been in foul trouble and haven’t really played a lot of minutes so there was really no excuse for me to be tired. I just came out and got a few more touches tonight and just did what I do.”
The Celtics are hopeful to have Garnett back on Monday night after a nine-game absence due to a strained right calf.
Oh yeah, Shaq turns 39 on March 6. Maybe Doc will have something special planned for his big man that night.
|Irish Coffee: Sorting through Celtics speak||01.14.11 at 11:21 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Check out this video of some chick named Kath singing Nate Robison‘s tweets. It starts to get pretty funny around the 53-second mark. My favorite lyric, courtesy of the Celtics’ backup guard: “Don’t you just feel like getting away from the world? I do, just me and my kids — eff everything else.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT …
Doc Rivers and Jermaine O’Neal discussed the injury-plagued Celtics on WEEI on Thursday, and Paul Pierce did the same in his blog on Celtics.com. If you listen to the links, you’ll learn a few things, like …
Rivers plans on sticking around for a while, as he discussed the possibility of passing Tommy Heinsohn for second among coaches on the team’s all-time winning list; he’s 119 games away, which would put him on the bench for at least another two seasons:
“Yeah, I could. That would be nice. That would mean that we’re doing well and playing well. That still takes a while. That would be nice to do. I would say that.”
Despite his original insistence that Kevin Garnett‘s absence didn’t hurt them in their loss to the Rockets, Rivers admitted that indeed the defense is falling apart without their All-Star forward:
“We watched tape the other day of our transition defense, and it screamed of no Kevin – that voice of telling guys to get back, get to your spot, look left, pick-and-roll defense. … It’s like losing the linebacker on your team who leads your team and tells everybody where they should go. Not having that hurts your defense.”
According to Rivers, Garnett is day-to-day but not ready to return yet, which seems to me like more than day-to-day:
“I hate dates, if you know what I mean. If anyone says two weeks or a week, that’s silly, because you don’t know how long anything’s going to take. He is day-to-day, very close, but just not ready yet.”
According to Jermaine O’Neal, his role on this team is to defend the pick-and-roll, block shots and rebound — which seems pretty simple for a guy who makes more than Glen Davis, Shaquille O’Neal and Semih Erden combined:
“This team is built a certain way, and it’s one of the rare teams that is really a system team, and it needs different components for the system to run right. You don’t need two batteries in the motor. You need different parts in the car to make it run, and I’m one of those parts — to help defensively to stop the pick and roll, block shots and get some rebounds.”
O’Neal also admitted that in-season knee surgery is not completely out of the question:
“That was definitely something we talked about the first time I was out for an extended period of time. We wanted to try a couple options, and that may be something that we’re looking at now. It’s something I will eventually need at the end of the season. You want to be around, and you don’t want to miss an extended period of time, and I’ve already done that. So, you make decisions as a player. … We’re going to make a decision on what’s best for me to get better, be done with the ailment and be back on the court full-time.”
The Celtics’ backup bigman believes that — if healthy — the Celtics are pretty much unstoppable:
“To have one of the best records in the league, and we haven’t had a full complement of players all year, that makes us feel a certain way. We feel like once we do get everyone back it’s going to be extremely, extremely tough to beat our team.”
The following guys are battling through injuries, according to Pierce: the O’Neal “brothers”, Robinson, Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Semih Erden and Delonte West:
“We’re taking it game by game. Fighting through injuries with Shaq, Jermaine, Rajon, Nate and Semih and KG all dinged up. It hurt me a lot to see Delonte go down with the broken wrist, but in the NBA, it’s always go time, so we can’t lose our focus when something like that happens.”
Good times all around. If the Celtics can hobble through Friday night’s game against the Bobcats, they’ll have two days off before facing the Magic on Monday. By then, Garnett could be back in the lineup for a much-needed boost.
CELTICS’ TRADE CHIPS
The NBA trade deadline is approaching in February, so HoopsWorld is detailing where each team stands in terms of needs, trade bait and salary cap. Here’s how they depict the Celtics:
Notable Trade Chips: Von Wafer (one year/$900K), Avery Bradley (two years/$3 million plus team options for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014), Marquis Daniels (one year/$2.5 million), Glen Davis (one year/$3.3 million), Luke Harangody (two years/$1.2 million) and Nate Robinson (two years/$8.7 million).
Salary Cap Situation: The Celtics are nearly $31 million over the cap this season and are $7.4 million over the luxury tax threshold.
Trade Exceptions: None
Their contention that the Celtics will be looking to deal for a backup point guard and center is fairly ridiculous, considering they’ll be adding West and Perkins over the next month, but it is at least worth noting who has value around the league and how much the C’s owners are investing in this team.
|Irish Coffee: Semih Erden vs. Jermaine O’Neal||01.13.11 at 11:56 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
It’s a hodgepodge edition of Irish Coffee this morning, so stay alert. While Brent Barry may have compared Glen “Big Baby” Davis to an actual baby in the video that accompanies this blog, we’re going to take a look at the per-minute averages of Celtics centers Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erden:
J. O’Neal: 0.29 points, 0.21 rebounds, 0.16 personal fouls, 0.07 blocks, 0.06 turnovers, 0.03 assists, 0.01 steals, 44.7 field-goal percentage, 77.8 free-throw percentage.
Erden: 0.28 points, 0.18 rebounds, 0.17 personal fouls, 0.06 turnovers, 0.04 blocks, 0.03 assists, 0.02 steals, 57.7 field-goal percentage, 60.5 free-throw percentage.
After Erden dropped 10 points and nine rebounds in 33 minutes against the Kings while O’Neal sat out his 21st game of the season with a sore knee, I thought to myself: Would Erden be a better option than O’Neal? Considering these numbers at this point, why not invest your time in a 24-year-old rookie with room for improvement rather than a 32-year-old veteran who has logged 24,757 minutes and has a sore knee for life?
Paul Flannery has more on the growing concern that is Jermaine O’Neal’s knee in his Three-Pointer.
The difference between the Celtics and Kings is so glaring that Sacramento’s players and coach not only openly admitted that fact, they expressed their desire to essentially grow up to be the C’s:
Kings coach Paul Westphal (via the Sacramento Bee): “You could pick up how they work together to take away your first and second options. They were really on the same page doing that. … They really don’t care who shoots. They run their stuff, and they know they have threats at all the places, and they get the shot they want.”
Kings guard Beno Udrih (also via the Bee): “On offense, nobody’s worrying about who’s going to score. They just hit the guy that’s open. They set screens. They play basketball basically the way it should be played.”
And then there’s my favorite quote of the day, also from Westphal, on the starting matchup between Kings rookie Eugene “Pooh” Jeter (Boston fans have probably used that nickname for another guy) and Rajon Rondo:
|Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I’m against what the Jets are doing’||at 10:55 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning, following Wednesday’s night’s 119-95 rout of the Kings. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Rivers started the conversation by giving his opinion of the trash-talking going on in the lead-up to Sunday’s Patriots-Jets playoff game. He said, “I can’t wait for the game,” but he didn’t support the Jets’ disrespectful comments. “It’s stuff obviously I don’t like,” he said. “But it’s who they are. And that’s what they’ve been all year. … I’m against what the Jets are doing, because I do think it — I don’t know if it motivates you, but it may give you that extra, a little bit more, so who knows?”
The Celtics snapped a two-game losing streak with Wednesday’s win. It followed Monday’s 108-102 loss to the Rockets in which the Celtics’ effort was lacking, according to Rivers. “In an 82-game season, you’re going have some of those [letdowns],” he said. “I didn’t feel like we would have one last night, because of what happened against Houston. … I just thought we’d be ready last night.”
Kevin Garnett remains out after straining his right calf two weeks ago vs. the Pistons. “He is day-to-day, very close, but just not ready yet,” Rivers said.
Rivers said he feels sympathy for Cavaliers coach Byron Scott, whose team was hammered by the Lakers, 112-57, in losing for the 21st time in 22 games on Tuesday. However, he doesn’t think LeBron James deserves the type of criticism he’s received for abandoning Cleveland.
“No it’s not unfair,” he said. “It was legal. He became a free agent and he left. And there’s nothing wrong with what he did. What did they have, seven years, in LeBron’s mind to get it right, to get him the players he wanted for them to win. And in his opinion, they never did that. And so, he had every right to do what he did. Obviously, you knew if LeBron left it would wreak havoc on that team, and it has. It tells you one thing, is how good LeBron was. He’s the only guy that really left the team, and man, it’s amazing what’s happened.”
Rivers raved about the iPad, which he uses to watch video and check stats. “It is absolutely amazing how often I’m on it,” he said. “Way too much.”
|Doc Rivers thanks Danny Ainge for the chance to make Celtics coaching history||01.12.11 at 11:34 pm ET|
Doc Rivers remembers the 2006-07 season vividly, and for all the wrong reasons.
The Celtics had just completed the second-worst season of their existence, losing 58 times and Rivers would have totally understood if his boss decided that – in addition to changing the roster – it was time to change the coach.
But GM Danny Ainge saw something in Rivers and convinced Celtics ownership to stick with Rivers since he felt he was the right coach to handle the egos and personalities of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. One championship and one near-miss later over a span of four years, Ainge has been greatly rewarded for his loyalty.
On Wednesday night, following a 119-95 win over the Kings at TD Garden, Rivers passed K.C. Jones for third on the franchise’s regular season all-time coaching wins list with 309. And it was Ainge whom Rivers thanked for giving him the chance.
“Yeah, you know, I don’t know what that means, honestly,” Rivers said. “It’s awesome, I guess. I mean, I just don’t know what that means, yet, because I’m not thinking about it much, I’m not done. But it’s nice. And, listen, it’s Danny Ainge at the end of the day. I’m full-aware of that. We were bad for two years and he stuck with me. And believed in me. And so, at the end of the day it’s Danny Ainge more than me.”
Rivers, whose record stands at 309-221, trails only Tommy Heinsohn (427) and all-time leader Red Auerbach (795) on the franchise’s all-time list. Rivers guaranteed one thing Wednesday, he won’t be shooting for first. “No. That ain’t gonna happen. I can guarantee you that!”
|Irish Coffee: Does poor Celtics offensive rebounding matter?||at 11:48 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Despite losing two straight games, if you look at the Celtics’ statistics, there’s not much they’re doing poorly over the course of this season. They’ve made more field goals than their opponents while taking fewer shots. They’ve dished out more assists, snatched more steals, swatted more blocks and committed fewer turnovers.
In fact, only one number sticks out. The Celtics have been out-rebounded overall by four. More specifically, they’ve been out-boarded on the offensive glass by 97 and rank last this year in the category that Red Auerbach called “the hardest single phase of basketball.”
When you consider the fact that the C’s are shooting a league-leading 50.2 percent from the field — leaving fewer chances for themselves — that number is less glaring than at first glance, but does it matter at all? C’s head coach Doc Rivers doesn’t think so.
“I’m not a big believer in offensive rebounds,” said Rivers. “I think if you if you get back every single time and not get offensive rebounds, you probably save more points in the long run. So, that’s not a concern.”
Anyone who watched Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals — when the Lakers out-rebounded the Celtics 23-8 on the offensive end — might disagree with Rivers on that contention. While fans often rely on emotions for their arguments, Rivers can generally point to statistics to back up his statements, so let’s look to the numbers.
Here are the top-five NBA teams record-wise with their rank in offensive rebounds per game in parentheses:
- 1. Spurs (15th)
- 2. Heat (25th)
- 3. Celtics (30th)
- 4. Lakers (5th)
- 5. Mavericks (29th)
Here are the bottom-five NBA teams record-wise with their rank in offensive rebounds per game in parentheses:
- 26. Wizards (8th)
- 27. Nets (17th)
- 28. Kings (3rd)
- 29. Timberwolves (1st)
- 30. Cavaliers (28th)