|C’s injury bug so bad even Kevin Garnett can’t get home cooking||12.01.10 at 11:44 pm ET|
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.
|Irish Coffee: An NBA tribute to Leslie Nielsen||11.29.10 at 11:13 am ET|
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.”
R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen. Now, on to some Boston Celtics links …
DOC’S DIAGNOSIS OF AUSTIN RIVERS
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.”
“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
“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.)
|Kevin Garnett gets his revenge on Andrea Bargnani||11.27.10 at 1:01 am ET|
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.”
|Irish Coffee: Are referees screwing the Celtics?||11.22.10 at 12:32 pm ET|
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?
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
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.
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) …
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)
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)
Jan. 2: Celtics 103, Raptors 96 (Allen: 14 points, 7 assists, 3 turnovers, 5 rebounds, 1 steal)
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.)
|Irish Coffee: Different Celtics defense, same result||11.08.10 at 10:52 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
The same question was asked over and over around the Celtics locker room. The standard poker-faced response? Defensive schemes hadn’t changed much since Thibodeau’s departure.
Perhaps the C’s were playing their cards a little close to the vest.
“From what I’ve seen, they’ve tweaked some things,” Thibodeau told WEEI.com. “There are some things that were there before. I think a big part of their team is the personnel that they have, and it could change again when [Kendrick] Perkins comes back.”
The biggest question marks surrounding the Celtics’ defense entering the 2010-11 season had the same last name — O’Neal. With the additions of Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal, how would the C’s integrate them — along with rookies Semih Erden, Luke Harangody and Avery Bradley — into a defense that ranked first, second and fifth in points allowed per 100 possessions over the last three seasons?
“Some of those guys have pretty good defensive foundations,” added Thibodeau. “A guy like Jermaine O’Neal — his shot blocking — and obviously Shaq’s a physical presence. He takes up a lot of space. He’s always been on the boards, rebounding. I think that they’ve got a lot of length up front, and they’ve got a lot of toughness on that team. So, when you add those things to their system, they’re tough to score on.”
So far, whatever wrinkles Doc Rivers and new assistant coach Lawrence Frank have put in place are paying dividends. The C’s currently rank third in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) in the NBA. In perhaps their two most difficult games to date, they’ve held Miami to 80 points at the TD Garden on opening night and the Thunder to 83 points in Oklahoma City on Sunday night.
This fall, Jermaine O’Neal has looked fairly uncomfortable in the offense, but defensively he’s been a stalwart underneath — blocking a shot every 11 minutes in six games this season (despite reportedly undergoing a “minor procedure” on his left knee this season). Jermaine ranks 44th individually all-time in career defensive rating. Shaq also ranks in the top 100 ever, at 78. Perkins doesn’t rank in the top 250.
So, can the concerns over what Thibodeau’s departure would do to the C’s defense be laid to rest? According to Thibodeau himself, they certainly can.
“The good thing about their team is they’re smart,” said Thibodeau. “So, you can keep adding things to what you’re doing. Each year, we added something to it. It never remained the same. I think it’s their commitment to defense that makes them special. Again, that comes from, first, Doc, and then Kevin [Garnett], Paul [Pierce] and Ray. They’re commitment has made everyone else buy into it.”
Essentially, the foundation is still there, even if the exterior looks a little different.
|Doc Rivers thinks Rajon Rondo has ‘mild’ plantar fascitis||11.06.10 at 12:58 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said his head trainer Ed Lacerte told him hours before Friday’s tip-off that Rajon Rondo wouldn’t be available to the team in their game against Chicago because of lingering soreness in his left foot.
“[Friday] morning, Eddie told me that Rondo wasn’t playing because of his foot,” Rivers said after Friday’s overtime game in which Rondo played 41 minutes, scored 10 points and dished out 11 assists. “And ten minutes later I go down so we can watch film and Rondo said, ‘I’m playing; I’m fine.’”
Asked if Rondo was dealing with plantar fascitis, Rivers said, “I think that’s what it is, and it’s a mild case but when those get fired up, those are extremely painful.”
But Rivers was impressed with the way Rondo managed himself through pain on Friday.
“Down the stretch, his defense, his hands ‘ the steal on the in-bounds play, the deflection steal at the end of the game on the last shot,” Rivers said. “He was great. I mean, [Derrick] Rose got one drive in the over time and he yells to the bench, ‘My fault!’ He was just ‘ he was locked in tonight. And that’s what we need.
‘I told him that before the game, too. I walked right over to him before the tip and said, ‘Hey, listen, if I see anything’¦’ You could see he was good. The only thing we did and you could tell: we subbed him early. I think with five or six minutes in the first we subbed him. And then we did it again at half time. And overall that may have helped him with his wind.’
Rondo took treatment for 30 minutes after the game and then said he has been dealing with pain in both feet, with more pain in his left foot. He also said he’s been sleeping with both feet elevated to relieve the soreness.
|Doc Rivers on D&C: Villanueva broke ‘unwritten rule’ to press after game||11.04.10 at 2:16 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show this morning to talk about Kevin Garnett‘s alleged comments on the floor the other night against the Pistons, Paul Pierce‘s 20,000th point, as well as his thoughts on the team’s start to the new season.
“I’ve played the game, and I couldn’t imagine someone going to the press after the game because someone said something to you on the floor,” Rivers said, “I just, I don’t know, that’s an unwritten rule here; I thought that we didn’t cross, and we did that the other night.”
To hear the interview, check out the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Wasn’t that the perfect scenario for Paul Pierce to get his 20,000th point, going to the free-throw line to ice the game?
Well, I guess you can call it a perfect scenario; I would’ve liked it done a little bit earlier in the game.
Not in overtime?
No, exactly. But, I’ll take it, and for him it really was a special moment.
Is last night a perfect example of why no one should complain and moan during the end-of-practice free throws?
Yeah, I mean, they’re so important, and there’s so many games, if you go back and look at book, that are won and lost form that line, that, um, and you know, the only thing we did well last night, as far as executing, is we got the ball to the right people to shoot free throws. Other than that, um, we didn’t have one of our better end-of-the-game execution games at all.
Can you tell us how a stats sheet can lie? Because if you looked at just the stats from last night’s game, one would think you guys blew them out.
Well, it was almost the exact stat sheet of the Cleveland game at halftime. I mean, we were shooting I think 52, 53, 54 percent. The other team was shooting 39 percent and it was a tied game. And you don’t even have to look at the stat sheet, when you see that, you know exactly that that’s an effort game. That means that they’re outworking you, they’re getting rebounds, they’re getting loose balls, and those don’t show up at times in the stat sheet.
What’s the one stat that doesn’t lie? The one that when you pick it up in the post-game and say to yourself ‘This is going to tell me something’?”
Well, one stat is rebounds, and then the other one is turnovers, you know, for us. Those are the two stats.
You’re not liking that turnover stat?
Yeah, I am, because we’re really, we came out of the gate struggling, and now we’re doing a better job , but turnovers are big for us. You know, we scored I think, I don’t know what it is this year, but last year I think we were fourth in the league in points-per-possession. That means that we score every time we get the ball, I think it was one point whatever per possession. But we were 29th in turnovers, so, you know, when you were a great efficient offensive team, and you turn the ball over, it really hurts you, because we’ve really been taking points off the board.
You talked about how you don’t like this whole tweeting thing. Can you stop it?
No. I mean, I can come in and say ‘Hey guys, let’s make a rule that there’s no Tweeting.’ That’s nothing I’m going to do. And the Tweeting thing doesn’t bother me, it’s what we’re Tweeting about and when. That bothers me. After a game, you know guys, let’s not, you know, like I said yesterday, I’ve played the game, and I couldn’t imagine someone going to the press after the game because someone said something to you on the floor. I just, I don’t know, that’s an unwritten rule here; I thought that we didn’t cross, and we did that the other night.
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