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Irish Coffee: Bill Russell on the NBA, Celtics & more 12.07.10 at 10:35 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

(Part 2 of the interview between Bill Russell & Kevin Garnett can be seen here.)

It’s not every day you get the sage advice of Bill Russell, so when it happens, don’t miss it. The Celtics legend needs no introduction, so let’s get to his latest interview, with SLAM Magazine …

RUSSELL on winning: “I think I know a lot about the subject. My college team has the second-longest winning streak in history. My Olympic team still holds the record for greatest margin of victory. And the Celtics were perhaps the best team in the history of American sports. We won eight straight titles and nine of 10 in the decade of the ’60s. To do that against the best basketball players on the planet is remarkable.”

RUSSELL on offense: “To me, I was a better offensive player than a defensive player. By the end of my first year, I always put the offense in motion, and after a year or two almost all the plays went through me. In fact, [John] Havlicek said after I left, he missed me more on offense than on defense.”

RUSSELL on Wilt Chamberlain: “Wilt was an enormously talented man and I wasn’t going to do things that would inspire him to play harder, even if that meant giving him an easy basket here and there. You have to understand, this was a great, great player. And you had to keep things in perspective. He was a guy you couldn’t dominate physically or mentally. You can’t play somebody else’s game and have a chance to win. We had a style when he arrived, and the idea was to maintain that style, because it was successful.

“Wilt’s numbers speak for themselves: 100 points in a game, 27 rebounds averaged in a season! But after he did all these things, Wilt kept on not winning, and people never understood that, so they started criticizing him. But I never did. I thought he was great. Basically, I saw it as he had an agenda and I had an agenda. And we both fulfilled our agendas.”

RUSSELL on racism: “Fans all over the country were racist and obnoxious, some places more and some less, but I never permitted that to have an adverse effect on my playing, and within the Celtics that did not exist.”

RUSSELL on player/coaching:Red [Auerbach] offered me the job first and I said I wasn’t interested. So he asked if I had any recommendations and said that he would not hire anyone who I didn’t approve of 100 percent, because I had meant too much to the franchise. I had some ideas, but we couldn’t work out a deal. Frank Ramsey, who was my first choice, couldn’t leave home. Bob Cousy couldn’t get out of his contract at Boston College and so on. Red came up with one last name, and I just wasn’t going to play for that person, so I decided that I would, in fact, do it.”

RUSSELL on the dynasty: “Last year’s championship is only important in how other teams fear you; you still have to go out and beat everyone again. People say there were better teams than the Celtics, but we set the standard. A given team might come up for a year, but only we could sustain it.”

RUSSELL on mentoring: “When a new big man came into the league, I wanted to make sure they knew I was around, and to establish that there were boundaries that should not be crossed. But I also wanted every player in the league playing as well as possible, because I wanted the league to be totally elite. It always made me feel good to hear people say, “The greatest athletes in the world play in the NBA.'”

RUSSELL on Bob Cousy: “Not only was he a great player, but the things he did were completely in sync with what I did. He would transition from defense to offense as his guy went to the basket, because he knew I’d take care of him. I knew which way he’d force him, and I’d be there waiting while also cutting off his passing lanes. Meanwhile, Bob was heading downcourt, so we’d take control of the offense while the other team still had the ball. Nobody had done that before, because they didn’t have the ingredients, namely a great rebounder and defender to grab the ball and turn it around, and a fast, in-control guard to throw to.”

RUSSELL on his legacy: “Maybe it’s egotism, but I have never seen another player who even approached the way I played the game in terms of depth. I’ve never seen anyone do the number of things I do well.”

So, yeah, I could pretty much sit and listen to Bill Russell talk about how he folds laundry and be completely enthralled. In fact, I might go buy his “Russell Rules” and “Red and Me” audio books on iTunes right now. Paul Flannery was absolutely right: Give Bill Russell a damn statue!

SQUASHING THE INJURY BUG

The Celtics aren’t setting any timetables for the returns of Rajon Rondo, Jermaine O’Neal, Delonte West and Kendrick Perkins from injuries that range from minor to major. Here’s a quick rundown of the latest updates on all four guys …

Rondo (day-to-day via The Boston Globe): Doc Rivers said he might consider sitting Rondo for a stretch of games if needed.

“We get a two-day break after [Sunday’s Nets game], and that’s one of the things that went into this [thinking]. We’re just going to try to get through it.”

Jermaine O’Neal (pre-Christmas return via NECN.com): Considering he hasn’t played in a game since Nov. 8, being off his game [during Monday’s practice] was a given. But just being able to run up the floor, and feel little to no pain afterwards, was yet another indication that he is moving past the left knee injury that has sidelined him for the last 12 games.

“Hopefully in the next week-in-a-half to two weeks, I’ll be playing no problem,” he said.

West (1-2 months away via CSNNE.com): Following surgery on Nov. 30, the outlook for his return has picked up considerably. West said the wrist is healing up so well, there won’t be any need for it to be placed in a hard cast.

“Just stimulate it with treatments, and I’ll be back to working out within the next two weeks,” said West, who added that he’ll have it in a soft cast when he resumes working out.

Perkins (eyeing late February via the Boston Herald): “It can be real,” Perk said of playing sometime late next month, “but I think if I play it smart I’ll wait to come back until after All-Star break. That’ll give me more time. I think, what’s one more month, right?”

SHAQ-A-CLAUS BRINGS HIS ELVES

According to the Inside Track, all of the Celtics showed up at Children’s Hospital Boston and Boston Medical Center on Monday to deliver some Christmas cheer.

They split up, Shaquille O’Neal and Ray Allen tooke one group to Children’s — with O’Neal leading a Shaq Fu-style version of “Frosty the Snowman” among other carols.

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett took another group with Santa to the Top of the Hub, where they spent some time with the Boston Medical Center’s pediatric hematology program.

Santa hats off to those guys. They’re not just winning on the court.

DOC RIVERS LOSES A MENTOR

Doc Riverscollege basketball coach, Hank Raymonds, 86, died of cancer on Monday morning. Raymonds coached Marquette from 1977-83, mentoring Rivers throughout his life — starting from his time as a player at Marquette from ’80-83 and continuing through last year’s Celtics run.

Rivers expressed his grief with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Here are some nuggets:

“I use Hank’s lines all the time. The line I always use that he used on me a lot is, ‘I’m never going to coach you for who you are today. I’m going to coach you for who you should be someday, and what you should be someday.’ I use that on my players, I use that on my kids, and I think it’s a great thing. To me, that sums Hank up as much as anything.”

“Hank called me every time we would have a bad turnover game or a bad rebounding game. Then when I went to see him [over the summer] the first thing he said was, ‘Oh my gosh, the rebounding — the Lakers killed you guys on the glass.’ I loved to hear it. It’s funny. It’s not what you want to hear, but the one guy who can tell you that is Hank.”

“Hank has had a profound impact. And the thing about Hank is he never let go. It’s not like when I left he stopped. … I look at him, he’s a basketball treasure that really not enough people know about. I’m glad I do. I always laugh and say, ‘He’s my little secret.’ And I’m fine by that.”

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Bill Russell, Boston Celtics, Delonte West, Doc Rivers
Irish Coffee: Big Baby buoys bench 12.02.10 at 1:29 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

 

BOSTON — In the aftermath of Wednesday night’s 99-95 victory against the Blazers, Celtics forward Glen Davis sat, seemingly exhausted, at his locker.

Following what may have been his most complete and efficiently productive game in a Celtics uniform, Davis had earned the rest. He had just recorded 16 points (7-of-9 FG; 2-2 FT) and seven rebounds in 29 minutes, including a stretch of eight straight points and three consecutive 20-foot jumpers over  a three-minute span in the third quarter that singlehandedly kep the Celtics within striking distance of the Blazers.

“I took the shots that were given to me,” said Davis. “That’s what it’s about.”

Taking that notion further, what it’s really all about is making those shots, and Davis has done that at a remarkable rate this season, shooting 50 percent from the floor — the highest clip of his four-year career. The benefit of that is two-fold: 1) obviously, points on the board, and 2) opening up opportunities for his teammates.

“If I can spread the floor, I can help out Kevin [Garnett],” said Davis. “Teams won’t double-team him. They’ve got to guard me.”

In this space, before the season started, I presented an argument for Davis as a potential NBA Sixth Man of the Year winner: “Given any injury to Shaquille or Jermaine O’Neal, Davis would be the first to gobble up those minutes. Is there any reason he couldn’t average 14 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes a game?”

Through 18 games this season, he’s averaging career highs of 11.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in 29.4 minutes per game — but it’s his efficiency and versatility that have vaulted him into the NBA’s Sixth Man discussion.

Assume the role of a go-to scorer as a power forward for the one of the best benches in the league? Sure. Perform the “little things” — like taking charges — as the center alongside Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett down the stretch of close games? Done. Drag smaller defenders into the post? Easy (especially with his frame). Pull bigger defenders away from the basket? Not a problem.

So, what does being in the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year conversation mean to Davis?

“Nothing, until you win it,” he said. “You can talk all you out. You can say, ‘He’s top two, he’s top whatever.’ It doesn’t really count until you’re No. 1 at the end of the season, when you’re having a press conference, congratulating your team and thanking all the people who helped you get that award. I’d be excited to get it. Just to be considered is not enough for me.”

Celtics head coach Doc Rivers told Dennis & Callahan on WEEI on Thursday morning that he was in Danny Ainge‘s ear, urging him to select Davis with the 35th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. Rivers knew Big Baby’s potential, because he’d seen Davis succeed against his sons and the nation’s top talent on the AAU circuit.

“But we didn’t know he was going to be this good,” Rivers admitted.

After struggling with some maturity issues over his first few seasons in the league, Davis has earned the trust of not only Rivers but all of his teammates as well.

“Most definitely,” said Davis. “I’ve been here for four years now, and that’s Doc’s system. You’ve got to trust his players. He’s looking at me as a player that he trusts.”

DOC RIVERS: COACH OF THE MONTH

The NBA named Rivers the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month prior to the Celtics’ victory against the Blazers. It didn’t mean much to Doc, but Garnett elaborated:

‘€œI love him,’€™’€™ Garnett told The Boston Globe. ‘€œI told Danny that the day y’€™all get rid of Doc is the day I sort of tip my hat and thank the Boston area and the Boston fans. I love Doc, he’€™s a credit to our success and the building of the players, because he’€™s always motivating and he’€™s always pushing you, finding ways to get you rekindled.’€™’€™

IN SUPPORT OF BILL RUSSELL

In case you missed it, our own Paul Flannery detailed why the Celtics should build a statue outside of the Garden in Bill Russell‘s honor. In a fantastic Boston Magazine piece, he builds an argument that’s pretty hard to disagree with. Here’s a nugget:

In Boston, we now have statues of three sports figures — Bobby Orr, Red Auerbach, and Ted Williams — sprinkled throughout the city. (Williams, oddly, also has a tunnel named after him.) That’€™s quite a list, actually. But there’€™s one glaring omission: the one sports star — no disrespect here to Teddy Ballgame or Tom Brady — who left a bigger mark on this city than any other. I’€™m talking about a guy who won 11 championships in 13 seasons. Whose name has become synonymous with victory, hard work, and shared sacrifice. I’€™m talking about Bill Russell.

This is a disappointing oversight — absurd, really, given Russell’€™s accomplishments — but a correctable one. What we need is a Bill Russell statue outside the Garden, where the greatest Celtic of them all will stand watch over the franchise he helped build.

KOBE BRYANT: ‘WE’RE SLOW’

Wednesday night’s loss to the Rockets marked the first four-game losing streak for the Lakers since they acquired Pau Gasol. So, what’s the reason for the skid? ESPN.com presented that question to Kobe Bryant:

The general assessment of the team by its players remained that the team had a lot of work to do on both offense and defense, leading to a chicken-or-the-egg type of situation about which is more damning when it’s lousy.

“We’re slow. We’re slow. We’re slow. We’re slow on rotations,” Bryant said, picking on the defense and maybe subconsciously mentioning the word once for every consecutive loss.

THE LEBRON JAMES SAGA

You may not have heard, but a guy named LeBron James who plays for a team called the Miami Heat is returning to his hometown to take on a team by the name of the Cavaliers. The Cleveland Plain Dealer consulted everyone from players to fans to therapists to clergy in order to determine what the reaction should be. Here’s Cavs point guard Mo Williams‘ take:

“This game is not just for us. It’s for 20,000 fans and for the millions watching and pulling for us. We’ve got people that ain’t even Cavs fans pulling for us. We’ve got a lot behind us.”

Lost in all the discussion of LeBron’s return to Cleveland is this: Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has launced a probe into alleged tampering by the Heat in their pursuit of James, according to Yahoo! Sports:

Prior to the start of free agency on July 1, no Miami Heat representative ‘€“ including star Dwyane Wade  was allowed to discuss with James the specific circumstances around Wade, Toronto’€™s Chris Bosh and James joining together with the Heat.

One focus of the law firm’€™s probe includes an alleged Pat Riley-James meeting in Miami in November 2009, and a meeting of James’€™ inner circle with Wade in Chicago in June 2010, sources said.

Riley, James, Wade and Bosh have denied there was a predetermined collusion in the historic free-agent binge, although the players have admitted to discussing the possibility of playing together as far back as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

If Gilbert’s accusations turn out to be truths, the Heat could lose draft picks. As if there weren’t enough drama surrounding Thursday night’s Cavs-Heat game.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Big Baby, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Glen Davis
Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I’m a Celtic … for as long as I’m coaching’ at 11:56 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to discuss some of the most “Heat”ed topics around the NBA and in the Celtics organization. Rivers commented on LeBron James‘ return to Cleveland, Kevin Garnett receiving stitches on his chin, and the C’s win on Wednesday against the Blazers.

“When Ray [Allen] was open, I liked the odds,” Rivers said. “I just think Ray’s got to make shots. I never really panic when Ray’s missing shots, or Paul [Pierce]. I just know they’re great shooters, and great shooters make shots, and eventually they do. They have that occasional game where they miss them all, but I still like the odds whenever [Ray] takes a shot.”

To hear the entire interview with Doc, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Was last night a prime example of which of the following two things (talking about the end of the game): your team’s ability to trust one another, or a great NBA shooter has no conscience whatsoever?

Probably both; I mean really both. The play before that, Ray took a tough shot. Really the play was to get a switch, which we got, and Ray was going to throw it to the post, but Ray thought he was open and jacked it up. You know what, that’s why he’s a great player: because he can go 0 for whatever or one for whatever, and if he’s open he thinks that next shot should go in, and then on the other part of that, Paul Pierce was, what, 9 for 11, and actually had a decent shot, and passed it to Ray who was wide open. So that’s the trust factor.

When that play was about to unfold, and Paul had the option to shoot it or pass it, as the coach which did you prefer he do?

Well when Ray was open, I liked the odds. I just think Ray’s got to make shots. I really never panic when Ray’s missing shots, or Paul. I just know they’re great shooters, and great shooters make shots, and eventually they do. They have that occasional game where they miss them all, but I still like the odds whenever [Ray] takes a shot.

When Danny Ainge took Big Baby in the second round a few years ago, did you know that he was this good? Or did you think it was a stretch at the time? Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James
C’s injury bug so bad even Kevin Garnett can’t get home cooking 12.01.10 at 11:44 pm ET
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For now, the injury list is not having an impact on the Celtics record. Doc Rivers knows his luck can only last so long while he moves banged up players in and out of a make-shift rotation. The C’s have the best record in the East at 14-4 following their win over the Trail Blazers Wednesday night at TD Garden.

But that great record is coming with a price – nagging injuries.

And making matters worse Wednesday, the Celtics lost Kevin Garnett for over five minutes in the third quarter when team doctors had trouble closing up a wound under his chin that required five stitches, leading Rivers to wonder openly what in the wide, wide world of sports is going on. For a moment, he thought he was on the road, not on the parquet.

Garnett took an elbow early in the third quarter from Andre Miller and had to leave at the 7:47 mark. He didn’t return until 2:24 remained in the quarter. The Celtics, who trailed 68-62 just moments earlier, were kick-started by KG and finished the quarter on a 13-4 run that gave them the lead for good.

“It usually does,” Rivers said of Garnett’s high-energy impact. “He was pissed because someone hit him in the mouth so you knew he was come either with energy or attacking everybody else on the floor.

“The third quarter was huge because we didn’t want to sub [Shaq] him out. We wanted to wait until Kevin [returned]. Whoever did our stitches, we’re going to have a talk. That was the longest [wait]. I thought we were on the road. That’s what the opposing doctors do. They can’t find the sutures, they take their time.”

And try as he might, Rivers couldn’t get an explanation from chief trainer Ed Lacerte about why it was taking so long to get the cut under Garnett’s chin fixed.

“It did take a long time,” Rivers said. “I kept checking with Eddie, like ‘What’s going on back there?’ That was big for Shaq. He kept saying he could stay in and that was huge for us.”

Not only did O’Neal played the five-minute stretch, he played the first 9 minutes, 36 seconds of the third quarter, until getting a blow when Garnett finally returned to the game.

Rivers said after the game Wednesday that Rajon Rondo‘s strained left hamstring, which Rivers thought was no longer an issue early in the week, started to get sore in the fourth quarter. Then Rivers said that back-up point Nate Robinson has an aching left foot which was bothering him.

“I left Rondo in because Nate’s foot was hurting,” Rivers said. “Rondo’s hamstring was starting to get sore and he was worried that if he came out he couldn’t return. So, the injury thing is really starting to creep up on us a little bit, and it is what it is.”

Robinson confirmed after the game that he’s been dealing with a sore right heel since Nov. 22, when the Celtics beat the Hawks in Atlanta.

Read More: Andre Miller, Boston Celtics, Celtics injuries, Doc Rivers
Irish Coffee: An NBA tribute to Leslie Nielsen 11.29.10 at 11:13 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the basketball ties in the wake of Sunday’s passing of Leslie Nielsen — one of the great comedic actors in history.

Playing Dr. Rumack in the 1980 comedy classic “Airplane”, Nielsen starred alongside NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as Roger Murdock. Unfortunately, Nielsen didn’t appear in Kareem’s best scene.

In addition, back in 1994, when Del Harris assumed the head coaching position of the Los Angeles Lakers, he joked about serving as a double for Nielsen in Hollywood. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein contacted Harris for comment …

“We had already had the lookalike thing going, and I had actually signed a name to an autograph a time or two, so I said to him, ‘How about going in the locker room and act like you are me and tell them they played a good game or you are proud of them or whatever you have.’ He did it and the guys loved it.

“He brought a lot of laughter to the world, but not tonight. Peace, Leslie.”

Of course, Nielsen also had ties to the NFL (co-starring alongside O.J. Simpson in the “Naked Gun” movies) and Major League Baseball (impersonating an umpire in “Naked Gun”).

R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen. Now, on to some Boston Celtics links …

DOC’S DIAGNOSIS OF AUSTIN RIVERS

NBA.com’s Shaun Powell caught up with Doc Rivers to discuss the success of his son, Austin Rivers, who ranks No. 1 among Class of 2011 high school basketball recruits.

The only actual news to come from the story is that Doc will miss up to 10 potential practice days in order to catch some of his son’s games in Florida.

“It’s not the best way, but it’s the only way,” Rivers told Powell. “If they play and I’m off, I’m there.”

Will Doc’s potential absence for as many as 10 practice days affect this veteran-laden Celtics team? In my mind, no chance. It might have some small effect on a young team, but because of their collective experience this C’s squad is the ideal group for Rivers in this situation, as a few absences in favor of father-son bonding shouldn’t impact their success one way or another.

And, in many ways, the father-son relationship between Doc and Austin Rivers is just like any other involving a teenager.

“You know when you’re a teenager you really don’t even want to talk to your parents anymore,” Doc said, with a laugh. “So basketball does give you a conversation piece. While the bond my wife and I have with all of our kids is away from basketball, it helps.”

In other ways, their relationship is unlike most, in that Doc could one day coach his son in the NBA.

“I harbor dreams that he makes it to the league,” Rivers said. “But coaching him? That’d be tough. Because I have to live with his mom. She runs the household. If I didn’t play him one day, I’d have to go home to his mother. And that would be no fun at all.”

Of course, if Austin Rivers lives up to his billing as the nation’s No. 1 recruit, the Celtics probably won’t have a chance at drafting him in a few years — considering he’d be a top-10 pick in that scenario.

FORMER CELTICS STRUGGLE TO FIND HOMES

In a bizarre story over the holiday weekend, despite Stephon Marbury‘s popularity in the Chinese Basketball Association last season, Shanxi Zhongyu opted not to sign the former Celtics guard to one of its three contracts allotted for international players.

Not only that, but the team only alerted Marbury after he arrived for training camp in Taiyuan. As a result, he hasn’t been able to sign with another CBA team, because they too have signed their three international players.

“If they said they weren’t going to sign him a month ago, then Marbury still would have had a lot of other opportunities because there are still some teams who are quite interested in him,” Titan Sports associated editor and close Marbury confidant Yang Yi told NIUBBall.com.  “But now, every CBA team has already signed their import players, so it’€™s going to be real tough for Marbury to find a team to play with.

“He’s dissapointed in Shanxi.  This is treachery.  Marbury isn’t strapped for cash, he doesn’€™t need to play in China because he needs money.  He just feels really sad because he loves Shanxi.  This summer he was working out and keeping his body in shape.  He feels really hurt by the team.”

In other news, former Celtics All-Star Antoine Walker could sign a contract with the NBA Development League as soon as Monday.

One former Celtic who isn’t having trouble finding his place is Al Jefferson, who got emotional after his Utah Jazz upset the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I haven’t beaten the Lakers in probably six years, since I left Boston, and I haven’t been in a playoff game in six years and it felt like a playoff game,” Jefferson told The Orange County Register. “Every possession counted. Kobe Bryant being who he is, and we were down, we fought back, we didn’€™t give up. We won against all odds. It was just amazing, man. I’€™m overwhelmed. It’€™s never been like this before, and to be a part of this. It just meant a lot to me.”

CAN RAJON RONDO AVERAGE 20 ASSISTS?

Rajon Rondo believes he can average 20 assists per game. At least, that’s what he told NBA FanHouse.

OK, so how many assists per game does Rondo believe he can average this season?

“Twenty,” he said.

Realistically, how many?

“Twenty,” said Rondo, who did hand out 24 Oct. 29 against New York but hasn’t exceeded 17 in any other game.

OK, why do you think that?

“Because we’re shooting the ball extremely well,” he said. “We’re playing together and moving the ball.”

In order to produce 20 assists a game, Rondo would have to average 21.1 dimes over the next 66 games this season. While I’m not buying that — considering he’s only eclipsed 20 assists once this season — I still think he has a shot at John Stockton‘s 1989-90 NBA record of 14.5 assists per game.

SHAQ DOMINATES BASKET & RINGS

The Onion once again took on the Celtics, this time in a tonge-in-cheek article entitled, “Shaquille O’Neal shows he can still dominate around basket of fries.” Here’s a sample:

“Shaq’s already got four onion rings on his fingers, but he still wants to get one more for the thumb,” Kevin Garnett said. “And you know what? Tonight he showed he’s going to do whatever it takes to get a whole handful of onion rings. Whatever it takes.”

Never a dull moment when it comes to this Celtics squad.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Leslie Nielsen, NBA
Kevin Garnett gets his revenge on Andrea Bargnani 11.27.10 at 1:01 am ET
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Call it a lack of respect from certain members of the Raptors, an overwhelming desire to make good on a sub-par performance five days earlier or a kick in the butt from his head coach, Kevin Garnett was a man on a mission Friday night.

After Andrea Bargnani dropped 29 points on the Celtics last Sunday in a 102-101 come-from-behind Raptors win in Toronto, Celtics coach Doc Rivers pulled Garnett aside and essentially told him that can’t happen again. Garnett responded by scoring a season-high 26 points while holding Bargnani to 11 in Garnett’s best two-way game of the season as the Celtics prevailed, 110-101, Friday nigh at TD Garden.

“Doc has different ways of motivating me,” Garnett said. “He pulled me to the side, he wasn’t really happy with Bargnani situation up there and I wasn’t really pleased with that, either. And tonight was more of a concentrated effort to just make sure I kept him under control. It doesn’t take much to motivate me.”

Rivers was far more subtle in his post-game comments but hinted that he saw the KG everyone expected on Friday night.

“Kevin’s energy tonight was off the charts, and you knew it would be, if you know Kevin,” Rivers said. “Because the last time we played them, the guy in his position had a pretty good game, and that’€™s just Kevin Garnett.’€

Then there were the words of Shaquille O’Neal, who hinted that Raptors forward Amir Johnson was talking trash and directing it at KG on the court. Pretty dumb idea, if true.

Garnett said he was inspired by his own fire and Rivers’ words of inspiration.

“It was 50-50 a little bit,” Garnett added. “I didn’t get much sleep [Thursday] night. That’s what it is. I’m going to see Bargnani as long as I’m in the league but I guess the way Doc came at me was the way he wanted it. That’s what he wanted. I likes to see me a little of the chain at times and I don’t mind being like that.”

Read More: Andrea Bargnani, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Irish Coffee: Are referees screwing the Celtics? 11.22.10 at 12:32 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

In remembrance of the 47th anniversary of John F. Kennedy‘s assassination — and in the wake of the two worst officiated games of the Celtics season — we’ll examine an NBA conspiracy theory: Are the C’s getting screwed by the referees?

“You answer that,” Celtics head coach Doc Rivers told MSNBC.com. “I need my money, I have four kids. I’ll let you answer that. I didn’t see anything.”

Now, let’s get one thing straight: The Celtics deserved to lose to the Kevin Durant-less Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors. They coasted through both games like Rasheed Wallace sleepwalked through the entire 2009-10 regular season and should’ve won each game by double digits.

Still, after two absolutely terrible calls in the final seconds against the Raptors — the Ray Allen “forced” turnover and the Paul Pierce “blocking” foul — it’s worth taking a look at how the Celtics are being treated by the referees (Tommy Heinsohn, of course, might say “like a rented mule”).

Statistically speaking, the Celtics have been called for more personal fouls (292) than their opponents (278) in addition to attempting fewer free throws (295) than their opposition (335).

Given that the Celtics have led 11 of their 13 games in the final two minutes, when teams are purposely fouling in an attempt to make a comeback — you’d think that both those numbers would be flipped around in the C’s favor. At the very least, they should be much closer to an even split.

However, the C’s have only attempted more free throws than their opponent four times in 13 games. On two of those occasions — against the Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies — the opposition intentionally put the Celtics at the free throw line 10 times apiece at the end of regulation and overtime.

While other teams have shot five or more free throw attempts than the Celtics on five occasions, the C’s have only outshot an opponent at the free throw line once — an OT victory against the Bulls at home. For future reference, Tom Washington headed the officiating crew for that game.

Want to hear something really spooky? The Celtics’ lowest free throw total and one of their biggest free throw discrepancies of the season — a 20-7 margin in favor of Dallas during a two-point Mavericks win — one of the referees was … wait for it, wait for it … a Kennedy.

It was Bill Kennedy to be exact. Yup, the same Bill Kennedy who has had a long, tumultuous history with Celtics head coach Doc Rivers.

Is it just Kennedy who has a score to settle with Rivers, or are there other officials on the grassy knoll contributing as well?

WORST LOSS EVER

The back-to-back losses to the Durant and Jeff Green-less Thunder and Raptors could possibly be the worst two-game stretch since Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett arrived.

In 2007-08, the Celtics only lost consecutive games three times, including just one three-game losing streak. None of those stretches came in the first three months of the season.

The following year, during an injury-plagued 2008-09 season, the C’s only lost consecutive games four times (none before Christmas), which included a four-game losing streak in January.

Last season, in total, the Celtics lost back-to-back games 10 times (including four three-game losing streaks) — the first of which came in mid-November.

Their worst performance last season came in back-to-back losses to the Clippers (29-53) and Warriors (26-56). While that was pretty awful, it came on back-to-back nights during a four-game road trip that started on Christmas and took them through Florida, California and Arizona.

The bench was supposed to infuse this year’s team with enough energy to help them avoid losing streaks like they suffered last season. In their past two losses, however, the Celtics bench has been outscored by undermanned opponents, as a result of the Thunder’s Durant/Green injuries and the Raptors’ Jarrett Jack trade.

Could it be a 2009-10 regular season all over again? I thought this Celtics team would be hungrier after its loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals.

SANS RONDO

So far this season, the Celtics are 0-2 in games they finish without a healthy Rajon Rondo. However, for fans looking for a glimmer of hope should Rondo not play against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night, the C’s actually possess a winning record (5-4) since 2007-08 without Rondo in the starting lineup.

Here’s a look at the games he’s missed since taking over the starting point guard position (and how the backup did in his place) …

2007-08
Dec. 30: Celtics 110, Lakers 91 (Tony Allen: 16 points, 4 assists, 4 turnovers, 3 rebounds, 1 steal)
Jan. 12: Wizards 85, Celtics 78 (Allen: 8 points, 0 assists, 4 turnovers, 6 rebounds, 4 steals)
Jan. 16: Celtics 100, Blazers 90 (Eddie House: 10 points, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 4 rebounds, 1 steal)
Jan. 18: Celtics 116, 76ers 89 (House: 15 points, 4 assists, 2 turnovers, 4 rebounds, 1 steal)
April 16: Celtics 105, Nets 94 (Sam Cassell: 9 points, 4 assists, 0 turnovers, 0 rebounds, 0 steals)

2008-09
March 8: Magic 86, Celtics 79 (Stephon Marbury: 4 points, 0 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 rebound, 0 steals)
March 11: Heat 107, Celtics 99 (Marbury: 0 points, 4 assists, 2 turnovers, 0 rebounds, 2 steals)

2009-10
Jan. 2: Celtics 103, Raptors 96 (Allen: 14 points, 7 assists, 3 turnovers, 5 rebounds, 1 steal)

2010-11
Nov. 21: Raptors 102, Celtics 101 (Nate Robinson: 22 points, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 4 rebounds, 0 steals)

Robinson is the best scoring option off the bench in Rondo’s stead, but what the Celtics really need is a guy to continue running the offense as a distributor (Delonte West?). In three of the C’s four losses without Rondo in the lineup, his replacement failed to dish out more than two assists.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, John F. Kennedy, NBA
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