|Sunday is no day of rest for Celtics||10.24.10 at 4:51 pm ET|
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.
|Doc Rivers gets good news after biopsy||10.19.10 at 8:15 pm ET|
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.”
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.
|Doc Rivers has ‘minor throat surgery,’ is day to day||10.18.10 at 2:45 pm ET|
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.
|Irish Coffee: A Preview of Celtics Previews||at 10:49 am ET|
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.
|Stephane Lasme’s added motivation||10.12.10 at 3:10 pm ET|
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.
|Doc on Miami rumor: ‘I’m not going there’||10.09.10 at 3:42 pm ET|
Doc Rivers downplayed speculation that he would one day go to Miami to coach Pat Riley’s South Beach juggernaut. “I’m not getting into that.,” Rivers said Saturday after the Celtics concluded practice. “The only guy on [Riley’s] list is Erik [Spoelstra] and that’s the only guy that should be there. I’m not going there.”
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote that Rivers would be at the top of Riley’s list if he were to make a change. In the same piece, Rivers told Woj that he’s given thought to being a career Celtics coach.
“I’m year to year,” Rivers reiterated Saturday. “That’s how I am. The question asked is, where else would you rather go? And I don’t think there’s a better place than here. It’s a great set-up and it is phenomenal.”
Much of the basis for Rivers’ decision to return for the final season of his contract is his relationship with Celtics boss Danny Ainge. The coach has said often that he has a unique friendship with Ainge, and that’s not something coaches can find in every city.
“It’s the organization,” Rivers said. “You look at the Red Sox and see Theo [Epstein] and Terry [Francona] and they have a great relationship. It works. When you can get along it’s nice. You look around and there’s so many groups that’s them and us. Here it’s just us.
“Maybe because we went through hard times at the start. Not our relationship, but we weren’t winning a lot of games. When you endure that as a group, I think you clearly grow together. It’s amazing through that whole time I thought as a group, we got closer and that’s rare.”
“He’s been able to coach a young team and he’s shown he can build a veteran team with a lot of personalities,” Pierce said. “That’s a difficult combination for a coach. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Doc here for another 20 years, and you might see me here too.”
|Austin Rivers commits to Duke||09.30.10 at 12:16 pm ET|
“He picked Duke because of [Mike Krzyzewski] and his staff,” his high school coach, David Bailey, told the website. “There is a ton of tradition at Duke, and it was the best place for him from a basketball and academic standpoint.”
The 6-foot-4, 189-pound Rivers averaged 24.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game for Winter Park (Fla.) High last season, capturing ESPN RISE National Junior Player of the Year honors.
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