|Destination: Enemy Territory||11.01.08 at 2:46 pm ET|
Before even winning a championship last season, the Boston Celtics were targets every time they hit the road. The hype surrounding the Big Three was enough to make every game significant for their opponent and one in which they amped up their intensity.
After spending last week in the comforts of the TD BankNorth Garden, the Celtics are shipping out for their first road trip of the regular season. The three-stop tour will take them from Indiana to Houston and end in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.
The defending champs don’t expect to be welcomed with open arms and explain why:
Kendrick Perkins: “This first game (of road trip) is key. I think we need to go out there and establish ourselves early and don’t give a chance for the fans to get involved and just go out there and play Celtics ball and we’ll be alright.”
Glen Davis: “My guess is that we’re the champs. We’re last year’s champs. We have a reputation to hold on to and the odds are going to be against us but hey, what do you expect?”
Leon Powe: “We’re just going to go out and play well and set the tone early. We are just going to stay within our rules and hopefully we can pull the game out. But we’ll come out with the same intensity we came out with tonight (Friday against the Chicago Bulls) and get the win.”
Eddie House: “I expect the same thing we’ve been expecting since last year. Everybody was gunning for us last year because people pretty much crowned us the champions before we actually went out and did it. People were gunning for us because we had the Big Three and stuff like that so I think that by us winning it, people are going to come out a little bit harder and I think we’re ready for that. One thing about that is they’re going to come harder but we’re going to come even harder.”
Tony Allen: “I ain’t really worried about that. We’ve got to go out there any play any how. They were tough last year, they were gunning for us last year so it’s going to be times two.”
Head Coach Doc Rivers: “Not very well, I would say (of the expected reception). But that’s fine. That makes the games better. I didn’t think we were received well last year in retrospect. Teams wanted to beat you and they should. That’s what it’s all about and that’ll be nice, that’ll be fun. It’ll be a new experience for our guys and it’ll be a challenging experience for our guys.”
|Sounds of the game… Celtics 96, Bulls 80||at 12:00 pm ET|
As the Celtics sit in Indianapolis standing 2-0 on the infantile season, let’s take a look back a defensive shutdown performance that had every fan of the Green seeing visions of last year’s title run dancing in their heads more than Gino on Halloween. (Great call, Jessica!)
|Del Negro Taking On Old Friends||10.31.08 at 5:48 pm ET|
Vinny Del Negro’s return to Boston is more than just a homecoming for the Springfield, Massachusetts native. Tonight the newly appointed head coach of the Chicago Bulls is going up against his former teammates in all levels of the Celtics organization.
“I played with Doc, I played with Danny, I played with Ray Allen,” Del Negro said before the game. “So to come back and see those guys is great. I’m just happy with their success last year and for all those guys.”
Here’s how it breaks down:
1988-90: Teammates with Danny Ainge on the Sacramento Kings
1994-96: Teammates with Doc Rivers on the San Antonio Spurs
1998-2000: Teammates with Ray Allen on the Milwaukee Bucks
|The Admiral Salutes the Celtics||10.28.08 at 9:09 pm ET|
12 years ago David Robinson and Doc Rivers sat next to each other in the San Antonio Spurs locker room, sharing dreams of becoming NBA champions. Three seasons after Rivers retired, Robinson realized his ultimate goal and won it all. On Tuesday night, Rivers finally realized his.
Robinson was on hand to watch Rivers receive his championship ring as the head coach of the Boston Celtics. The Admiral, coincidentally, had already planned to be in Boston and it couldn’t have been better timing.
“I love Doc,” Robinson said after the Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 90-85 on Opening Night. “He’s a great guy. I was watching him through the playoffs and this is really the first chance I’ve really had to talk with him and congratulate him. It was really good to be able to get up here tonight.”
Just as many of the Celtics were overcome with emotion, Robinson felt it too. Like Pierce, it took him 10 years to win his first NBA title. He felt a sense of relief for both Rivers and the players.
“I know it was an emotional time for [Doc],” he sad. “He has a great family and they went through a couple of really hard years and that kind of redemption is super. Tonight was even kind of an emotional time just watching him and knowing what it felt like for those three guys to get their first ring. Pretty nice, pretty good.”
Robinson stepped away from the game in 2003 after winning his second championship in five years with the Spurs. He knows firsthand just how hard it is to repeat.
“Obviously we weren’t able to do it,” he said. “You’ve got to have a lot of luck along with being ready. Mentally they’ve crossed the line. They’re ready mentally. But I remember one year Tim Duncan got hurt and that changes your whole picture. If they lose Kevin Garnett, if they lose Paul Pierce, that’s stuff that you can’t control. They have the right mentality now; they know they can win games; they’re going to figure out how to get themselves ready for the playoff time; Doc is great, so I think they’re in as good of a position as you could ask.”
Health, Robinson points out, is the key to success both in a season and a career. He spent 14 years in the league and offered advice to the young Celtics big men.
“Work on your body. Make sure you’re strong, you’re healthy,” he suggested. “You get so many bumps and bruises and if you don’t spend the time to be strong, if you don’t spend the time in the weight room outside of practice and outside of the locker room, you’re going to struggle. I don’t have a huge body, I’m not a 280-pound guy, so it’s even more important to keep your joints strong. So that’s what I would encourage these guys, just work on your body all the time. Be strong, be ready, be prepared to play and hopefully that’ll keep you from injuries.”
For all the sweat and tears that go into defending a title, there are also perks to being the champs. There is that special feeling they will be reminded of for 82 games.
“One of the things that I remember the most is before every game coming out there and you’re sitting on the bench getting ready to be called up and they say, ‘And now you’re Worrrrld Champion San Antonio Spurs!’” Robinson said. “That’ the best thing and you get to enjoy it all year long.”
|GMs Predict Lakers to Beat Celtics in NBA Finals||10.22.08 at 11:37 am ET|
On Wednesday NBA.com revealed the results of the 2008-09 GM Survey. There were some expected predictions based on last season’s performances – a second straight Celtics/Lakers Finals, the Miami Heat will be the most improved team, and Chris Paul is the fastest player with the ball. But there were also a few notable results worth taking another look at:
Which team will win NBA Finals 2009?
1. L.A. Lakers — 46.2%
2. Boston — 19.2%
3. New Orleans — 11.5%
4. Houston — 7.7%
San Antonio — 7.7%
Others receiving votes: Detroit, Orlando
The departure of James Posey caused many to doubt the Celtics chances to repeat, but this landslide victory was still surprising. Most of the hoopla surrounding the Lakers this season is the return of Andrew Bynum. Yes, he will make them better by giving them an inside presence and allowing Pau Gasol to move back to the power forward position (where he won’t get beat up by Kendrick Perkins). But can Bynum hold up for three postseason rounds? The Lakers starting five (including the hobbled Kobe Bryant) has not proven they can win it all as a unit whereas the Celtics are returning their entire starting lineup. While experience isn’t accounted for on the box score, it can affect the final outcome.
Who will win the 2008-09 Rookie of the Year?
1. Michael Beasley — 48.1%
2. Greg Oden — 29.6%
Which rookie will be the best player in five years?
1. Greg Oden — 30.8%
2. Michael Beasley — 23.1%
A year ago the race for Rookie of the Year was neck-and-neck between Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. One knee injury later, Oden has been edged out by Michael Beasley for the honors. But you’ve got to feel good if you’re Portland Trail Blazer GM Kevin Pritchard. His long-term vision for young talent will make his team a contender for several years down the road.
Who is the best head coach in the NBA?
1. Gregg Popovich — 53.8%
2. Phil Jackson — 23.1%
3. Jerry Sloan — 7.7%
Others receiving votes: Rick Adelman, Rick Carlisle, Nate McMillan,
Stan Van Gundy
Which head coach is the best manager/motivator of people?
1. Phil Jackson — 44.0%
2. Gregg Popovich — 28.0%
3. Doc Rivers — 12.0%
4. Nate McMillan — 8.0%
Others receiving votes: Rick Adelman, Jerry Sloan
Did you check that list twice? After winning an NBA Championship, Doc Rivers was left off the list of best head coaches. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich still reigns supreme in the eyes of GMs, also taking first place over Rivers for coach with the best defensive schemes. You would assume that Rivers would get at least one nod after transforming the Celtics from worst to first, but fortunately for Rivers the title of 2008 NBA Champions holds more clout than any preseason predictions.
Who is the best on-the-ball defender in the NBA?
1. Kobe Bryant — 26.9%
2. Ron Artest — 19.2%
Bruce Bowen — 19.2%
Rajon Rondo — 19.2%
As far as defense goes, Kevin Garnett was predicted to be the league’s best defensive player, best interior defender, and best leader. Rajon Rondo’s inclusion on the best on-the-ball defender list speaks volumes to the influences of Garnett and Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, who was also predicted best in the NBA. To put things into perspective, Rondo was 10 years old when Bruce Bowen made his professional debut. Talk about a quick learner.
So how much stock should you put into these results? It’s up to you.
Which team will win NBA Finals 2008?
1. San Antonio Spurs 37.0%
2. Phoenix Suns 25.9%
3. Dallas Mavericks 14.8%
4. Detroit Pistons 7.4%
Others receiving votes: Boston, Houston, Miami, Orlando
|Fourth Quarter Reserved for Reserves||10.19.08 at 2:50 pm ET|
Doc Rivers said he wanted to learn more about “3-4″ guys before he made cuts and today he’s taking a look at everyone but Sam Cassell. With four minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Gabe Pruitt, J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker, Darius Miles, and Brian Scalabrine are on the court. This lineup is without a true center so they are pressuring on the perimeter to prevent a mismatch at the hoop. And just in case you thought anything has changed since last season, the fans are still chanting “Scal-a-bri-ne” every 30 seconds.
|Sounds of the game… Best of Doc||at 2:17 pm ET|
Too bad Doc Rivers doesn’t like to talk and chat up other sports in town. Ask anyone who covers the Celtics, including our very own Jessica Camerato and Paul Flannery, they don’t come much better than Rivers when it comes to conversation.
Here’s just some of what he had to say before Sunday’s preseason game with New Jersey…
The Celtics close out the preseason on Tuesday night in New York against the Knicks before raising Banner 17 in the season opener against Cleveland at TD Banknorth Garden on the Tuesday, the 28th.