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Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘We have a chance to be really special’ 10.28.10 at 10:39 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan for his weekly visit and talked about the loss to the Cavaliers, the win over the Heat and the longest second in his life. It’s been a whirlwind beginning to the season, but Rivers likes what he sees from his team.

“I enjoy this group,” he said. “I enjoy coaching them. We’ve got to solidify ourselves as a group, as a team. I think we’re on our way to doing that. I think we have a chance to be really special, but we’re not there yet and we have work to do.”

(To hear the whole interview, visit the team Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page).

Rivers conceded that the opening night win over the Heat was more than just another game. “We’d be lying if we said it was a normal game,” Rivers said. “It was still only one game, but it didn’t have a lot of meaning. A lot of people wanted to see us play Miami and a lot of people wanted to see Miami.” But Wednesday night in Cleveland, the Celtics ran into a team that was also on an emotional high. “You could feel the energy in the building in Cleveland,” Rivers said. “It was important for everybody. But those are the game you still try to find a way to win.”

The key play came late in the game when Anthony Parker made a 3-pointer with one second on the shot clock that appeared to take longer. “The tough part for the officials was, they could not overrule it,” Rivers said. “All they could do was go by video and look at the light when the light comes on. They were in a tough position. I think they knew that, but there’s nothing they could do about it. That has to be one of the longest seconds that I’ve ever experienced.”

Rivers also didn’t feel like Wednesday night was one of Rajon Rondo‘s better performances, despite scoring 18 points and having nine assists. “His numbers were great but it wasn’t his best game,” Rivers said. “It was one of those games where the ball was in his hands too much. We played the Cleveland game like we played the second half of the Miami game. Last night was an execution night. Rondo’s offense will come from transition, pushing the ball up the floor, attacking the paint.”

On the technical foul that Shaquille O’Neal picked up in the fourth quarter against the Cavs, Rivers said he was “blown away” by the call. “It’s a work in progress, obviously, whatever this is,” Rivers said of the new technical foul enforcement. “I was blown away by that tech. It’s hard to believe Shaq did enough to get that tech.”

Rivers also said he wanted to have his whole team together before making an assessment of whether this is his most talented team.

“When we get Delonte [West] and [Kendrick Perkins] back, then you can make that argument,” he said. “Until then, I’m not so sure yet. Shaq’s going to give us stuff, I don’t know every night he can and what he’s capable of. We’ve got to get more out of [Jermaine O’Neal]. We look at him as a defensive player. He can be a terrific defensive player with our unit, but he’s just not there yet.”

Read More: Doc Rivers, Rajon Rondo, Shaquille O'Neal,
Doc Rivers: C’s just ‘other team that’s playing’ 10.25.10 at 8:43 pm ET
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WALTHAM — So finally, thankfully, mercifully no more hype – just the game.

Ever since the game was announced as part of the full NBA schedule on Aug. 10, news and sports outlets across the country and the globe circled Oct. 26 on their calendars as a “must-cover” event at Boston’s TD Garden.

Doc Rivers maintains those news and sports outlets won’t be in Boston Tuesday to see a great game but what they think will be one of the greatest teams in NBA history.

‘€œAll eyes will be on the game in Boston, but I think all eyes will really be on Miami. We’€™re the other team that’€™s playing and we’€™re just going to show up. But I’€™m sure everybody is there to see Miami.

‘€œIt’€™s opening night, it’€™s great. It’€™s opening night at home. We’€™ve had a lot of time to prepare for the game, which is nice, and we’€™re ready to play.’€

Rivers said Monday that he feels confident his team is ready for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat on Tuesday at TD Garden.

And it’s fitting that James plays his first official game on the same court he played his last for the Cavaliers. But unlike Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last May 13, James will be playing alongside players named Wade and Bosh, even if those three played very little together in the preseason because of Wade’s nagging hamstring injury.

‘€œI would say it probably hurts them more than it hurts us,” Rivers said. “It probably hurts both teams, not being able to scout them and see what exactly what they’€™re going to do when they’€™re all on the floor. You can make the case that not being able to practice at all [together] it may hurt them as much. I don’€™t think it matters. I guarantee you that Wade will have the ball a lot, so will LeBron and so will Bosh.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Doc Rivers, Dwyane Wade
Sunday is no day of rest for Celtics 10.24.10 at 4:51 pm ET
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WALTHAM — You could tell immediately after practice on Sunday that this was no ordinary weekend practice. It’s not often the Celtics practice both days on the weekend but Doc Rivers is giving his team every chance to get prepared for the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.

“We didn’t do much today,” Rivers said. “I really went back and forth with giving them the day off or getting them to run through some stuff. A lot of skeleton today and very little contact and going over our defensive schemes.”

Then, on their own, new players like Von Wafer, Luke Harangody and Semih Erden worked on the offensive sets. The intensity was certainly there.

Tempers flared between Delonte West and Wafer during a post-practice drill, the Celtics continued preparations for the Miami Heat on Sunday at their practice facility.

Wafer, who won the last 15th and final roster spot after the final preseason game last Wednesday, played with Harangody against West and Erden in a 2-on-2 drill as extra time is being spent at the end of practice for new players trying to learn the Celtics offensive sets before they open the season Tuesday night at home. Wafer and West exchanged words after West drove to the basket and beat Wafer for a couple of buckets.

“Listen it’s game one, even if it wasn’t Miami, everybody is going to be excited,” Rivers said. “This is a special situation. Let’s just be honest. Everybody is excited about it. Our guys try to downplay it until you walk through the locker room and hear them talking about it. The film is on all day, watching Miami. Let’s just go out and have fun and see what we have the next night. We’d like to win them both.

The Celtics play in Cleveland on Wednesday, the night after their season opener against the Heat at TD Garden.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Delonte West, Doc Rivers, Dwyane Wade
Doc Rivers gets good news after biopsy 10.19.10 at 8:15 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers underwent a biopsy Sunday morning at Massachusetts General Hospital after his doctor found a spot on his throat three weeks ago. The good news for the coach is that the results came back clean.

“They found cancerous lesions,” Rivers said after the team conducted an open practice for season ticket holders at TD Garden. “They had to make sure there was nothing there, and there was nothing, so I’€™m good. I’€™m going to be around for a while it looks like.”

Rivers said that he has his throat checked every year after prompting from former Celtics coach Jim O’Brien. “I think most coaches should because we yell, use our throat a lot,” Rivers said. “That makes you more susceptible to it. I’€™m glad I did it now.”

The Celtics had said that Rivers had a “minor throat procedure” done to relieve pressure on his vocal chords. He was not at practice Monday, but returned to the team Tuesday night. Assistant coach Lawrence Frank did most of the on-court coaching while Rivers watched from the sidelines.

“I like Lawrence as my megaphone,” Rivers joked.

Rivers is expected to coach the team Wednesday night when the Celtics play the Nets in their final preseason game at the Garden.

FINAL ROSTER MOVE COMING

Rivers said the team would probably make its final roster decision after Wednesday’s game. There is only one roster spot up for grabs and the competition is mostly between Von Wafer and Stephane Lasme. Veteran Mario West is also in the mix.

“It’€™s between a couple of guys,” Rivers said. “You can figure it out.”

On Wafer, Rivers said, “He’€™s been more aggressive offensively. He still has to buy in defensively, and into our culture. I think he’€™ll do that. He’€™s getting better.”

The Celtics also added Tiny Gallon, a second-round pick from Oklahoma who was recently waived by the Bucks to a non-guaranteed deal.

“I know nothing about him honestly,” Rivers said. “I know Danny [Ainge] is going to look at him. I think he’€™s doing it more for that.”

INJURIES

Delonte West said he is getting better, but he won’t play Wednesday night. West will not be eligible to play in a game until Nov. 17 against Washington after he serves his 10-game NBA suspension.

Jermaine O’Neal also won’t play. He did not participate in practice Tuesday and he is battling a number of injuries.”That’€™s rest, that’€™s injury, that’€™s disappointing, to be honest,” Rivers said.  “He has not had the preseason that we would have liked him to have so far, sometimes you can’€™t avoid it.”

SHEED CHECKS IN

The Celtics got a visit from Rasheed Wallace who watched practice from the sidelines and chatted up Kendrick Perkins while Perkins rode a stationary bike. The crowd of season ticket holders and sponsors gave him a “Sheeeeed” call for old time’s sake.

Read More: Doc Rivers, Jermaine O'Neal, Stephane Lasme, Von Wafer
Doc Rivers has ‘minor throat surgery,’ is day to day 10.18.10 at 2:45 pm ET
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Doc Rivers had a planned surgical procedure Sunday morning at Massachusetts General Hospital to relieve pressure on his vocal chords, the team said after Monday’s practice, which Rivers did not attend. The team called the surgery, “minor.”

“He came through,” said assistant coach Lawrence Frank. “He feels good, but right now the doctor just doesn’€™t want him using his voice. So he’€™s day to day, but everything looks good and we look forward to getting him back.”

Frank said that Rivers returned to his Boston home after the surgery and is essentially day-to-day. “They just want him to rest his voice box,” Frank said. “He gave us the [practice] plan and we executed the plan.”

The Celtics will have an open practice at TD Garden Tuesday night for season-ticket holders and sponsors. Their last exhibition game is Wednesday night at the Garden. There is no word as to whether Rivers will be back for either yet.

Read More: Doc Rivers, Lawrence Frank,
Irish Coffee: A Preview of Celtics Previews at 10:49 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

 

Every publication from here to Los Angeles is rolling out its NBA preview, and the predictions for the Celtics are, well, pretty predictable: They’re old, but they’re deep. They coasted through the 2009-10 regular season, and they’ll do it again. If they can stay healthy, they’ll compete for a championship. See for yourself …

SLAM Magazine: “Get your jokes in about the Celtics while you can. Sure, the Big Three and Shaq Daddy may alternate using the wheelchair Paul Pierce used in Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals. They probably will take some games off in the regular season, as head coach Doc Rivers did last year to keep the team healthy for the playoff run. And Rajon Rondo‘€™s jumper, though improving, is still broken like the NBA single-game scoring record Michael Jordan would be if he had played in his prime today. That said, this is a team that finished second in team assists and fifth in points allowed last season, and they have seemingly improved as a team overall. No squad in the NBA overcomes their deficiencies like the Boston Celtics, and they are serious title contenders in the 2010-11 season. Don’€™t say we didn’€™t tell you so if the Miami Heat cool off, the Orlando Magic disappear and Irish eyes are smiling after another magnificent seventh game between the Lakers and Celtics.”

That points allowed indicator — and, more specifically, point differential — has been a fairly good reflection of the C’s success the last three years. In the 2007-08 season, they ranked second in points allowed (90.3) and first in point differential (+10.2), resulting in a 66-16 record, homecourt throughout the playoffs and an NBA title.

In the last two seasons, during the 2008-09 campagin (62-20) and last year’s regular-season walkthrough (50-32), those numbers slipped.

To put the importance of those stats in perspective, when the C’s finished 24-58 in 2006-07 BB3 (Before Big 3), they ranked 18th in points allowed and 23rd in point differential. Keep an eye on those numbers in the first month of the season, especially considering the C’s brutal schedule through the first few weeks.

Ball Don’t Lie: “The team looks great. Kevin Garnett appears to be the picture of health, a chubbed-out Paul Pierce is as feisty as ever, Ray Allen looks about the same, and the team just oozes competitive spirit. But this is a team built to turn over a new leaf when there aren’t any leaves on the trees next spring, not when the foliage is blowing around and the days are getting shorter. It’s a long season, people get injured and things tend to even out. And, as was the case last year, those 50 wins would have little bearing on what happens in the postseason. This is a championship contender. Perhaps more than ever.”

I’m not exactly sure what they’re getting at when they call Pierce “chubbed-out,” considering he’s shown up slimmed down in each of the last two seasons. Still, they touch on an interesting point: The C’s competitive spirit. With the play of the second unit, a renewed focus on that two-year window and a vengeance factor for that Game 7 loss, this year’s team appears to have a competitive edge we haven’t seen since 2007-08.

Hoops Daily: “The Celtics’€™ Achilles heel remains health.  A lot of guys have played a lot of games, and a major injury to anybody inside the Allen-Garnett-Pierce trio would be catastrophic.  Rebounding, the Celtics’ ugly nemesis last year, could prove to be even more problematic with Perkins in street clothes for a while. And then there’€™s the departure of Tom Thibodeau, the guy who masterminded the Celtics’€™ dominant lockdown defense for the last three years, to consider as well. The team has the personnel and the experience to continue their defensive dominance, but it wouldn’€™t be a shock if they took a slight step back in that department. The Big Three are rickety and parts of their bench are downright old, but if you’€™re an Eastern Conference team dreaming of a Finals matchup with the Lakers, you’€™d do well not to run into the Green come May. Expecting 50-55 wins is probably best for a group that will likely go through the motions in the regular season before showing up gangbusters in the playoffs.”

Obviously, a major injury to any of the Big 4 (with Rondo) would be catastrophic. Then again, that can be said for the Heat, Lakers and Magic as well. I’m not sure if I’m buying the rebounding issue, either, considering that was the Celtics main focus in the offseason. I’m not sure if you know, but the C’s picked up Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal in the offseason, not to mention the addition of Semih Erden.

However, the loss of Thibodeau needed to be mentioned. That point differential statistic is largely a result of a defensive scheme he implemented, and the C’s will be integrating the O’Neal Brothers and Co. into that scheme without Thibodeau. How Rivers and new assistant Lawrence Frank incorporate the new bodies into the “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” defensive system will go a long way in determining this team’s success. In his first two full seasons as head coach of the Nets (2004-05 and 2005-06), Frank’s teams ranked sixth in points allowed.

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Read More: Doc Rivers, Larry Siegfried, Lawrence Frank, LeBron James
Stephane Lasme’s added motivation 10.12.10 at 3:10 pm ET
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BOSTON — Surely, Von Wafer and Mario West are motivated to make the Celtics roster, but Stephane Lasme is playing for something more.

Training in Italy this summer for Russia’s Spartak Saint Petersburg squad, Lasme — a citizen of Gabon — was informed that if he didn’t return to the United States and land a year-long job, he could lose his residency.

“My wife and my baby are American,” the 27-year-old Lasme said after Sunday’s 91-87 win over the Raptors. “To get a chance to see them, I basically have to get a job here.”

Playing for teams in Serbia and Tel Aviv ever since he failed to make the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat in 2007-08, Lasme decided to return to the U.S., even if that meant a “big, big, big” pay cut.

“I had to make a choice between seeing my family or not seeing my family and taking that much money,” said the 6-foot-8, 220-pound former UMass forward. “For me, the choice is obvious. I’m gonna see my family.”

Even if Lasme fails to make the Celtics roster, he could stay relatively close to his wife Anastasia and 17-month-old Lily in Marlborough, Mass. A new NBA rule would allow the C’s to sign him — along with two other players — to their Developmental League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

“Even if I don’t make the team, I’m going to stay around,” said Lasme. “(Signing with the Red Claws) is an option that I’ve thought about with the new rule. Maine is not that far away from home.”

It’s appearing more and more likely that Lasme won’t have to worry about that. Wafer’s minutes have declined in each preseason game, and West has contributed little in two brief stints. Meanwhile, Lasme has made his presence felt, significantly.

After totaling 12 points and four boards in just seven minutes in the opener, he threw down a highlight-reel dunk over Andrea Bargnani in a key moment of Sunday night’s victory over the Raptors. He’s looked downright Leon Powe-esque, and that’s a good thing (remember 2008?).

“I like him a lot,” C’s head coach Doc Rivers said after the game. “I do. He just does everything. He has energy. He has a high basketball IQ. He’s athletic. He’s probably our most athletic player. … He has a great shot at making our team. He’s terrific.”

Capturing Atlantic 10 Player of the Year honors after averaging 13.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.1 blocks as a senior, Lasme concluded his college career as UMass’ all-time shot-blocking leader, over Marcus Camby. Since then, he’s added to his game, and if the Celtics keep him around, he’ll get to show off the skills he learned in Europe over the last two years.

“I’ve had a couple of good coaches who have tried to develop my game in the summer, and I think it’s worked out pretty good,” said Lasme. “I’ve worked a lot on my ball-handling and shooting. I know I haven’t shot the ball (from the outside) yet, but I’ve worked a lot on those two aspects. The more I play, the more I’m going to get a chance to show that.”

In all likelihood, he’ll get that chance.

Read More: Doc Rivers, Mario West, Stephane Lasme, Von Wafer
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