|Glen Davis doesn’t really care about the Magic||12.22.10 at 11:54 pm ET|
With consecutive win No. 14 in the books, the focus turned to No. 15 — the Magic — for the Celtics. And the C’s appear to be catching Orlando at the perfect time, even if it is on Christmas.
The Magic have lost eight of nine games and are attempting to integrate Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas into the fold after shipping Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Rashard Lewis out of town. Outside of Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson, it’s a complete overhaul of a team that reached the NBA Finals two years ago.
Not that Glen Davis noticed.
“I don’t really care about what they’re doing,” he said.
Pushed further, Davis added, “I don’t really pay attention to what’s going on. Those guys have problems they’ve got to work out for themselves. As a team, we’re trying to focus on one thing, and we’re not focused on what other teams are doing. I wish them the best, and I hope they get … everything going – after we play them.”
In just four seasons, Davis has seen plenty of change in the Eastern Conference, as the Pistons, Cavaliers, Magic and Heat have completely revamped their rosters. So, is it tough for Big Baby to get a read on the East?
“I really don’t read a lot,” Davis said, with a smile. “I play video games.”
Meanwhile, the Celtics’ core of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins — along with Davis — has remained the same since 2007, and that “Ubuntu,” if you will, is paying huge dividends for the 23-4 Celtics.
“Most definitely,” said Davis. “I think that does give us an advantage.”
When a team can keep its core together, the philosophy remains the same, trickling down the roster even when injuries hit — like they have to Rondo and Perkins, among others.
“That’s how we’re going to do it – just try to grind,” said Davis. “That’s all we can do. We just hope we can keep doing this in June. We’re just real deep. We’re a deep team. A lot of guys can play quality minutes and come through, and that’s what a championship team does.”
Nate Robinson, for one, hasn’t been with this group since its inception three and a half years ago, but after spending his first training camp — and now his first Christmas — with the Celtics, he’s starting to buy into that philosophy.
“This is my first Christmas to play, so I’m looking forward to it,” said Robinson. “But you’ve got to treat it like every game that we’ve been playing … and just play the way we’ve been playing – just play hard, play together, have fun and just play the right way, which is the Celtics way.”
Meanwhile, in Orlando, they’re trying to figure out what the Magic “way” is exactly.
|Paul Pierce isn’t ready to buy in Boston-New York rivalry in NBA – yet||12.14.10 at 11:29 am ET|
WALTHAM — Paul Pierce has a home in the Boston area and attends sporting events in the off-season. So he knows full well of the rivalries between teams like the Yankees and Red Sox and the Patriots and Jets.
But ask him about the Celtics and Knicks? Well, as the song goes, that’s quite the different story.
Both teams may be on extended winning streaks and both teams may have rich basketball traditions but Celtics captain Pierce said Tuesday that doesn’t mean the Celtics and Knicks have revived the old rivalry between the two cities.
“It’s a rivalry? You [media] let me in on all the new stuff,” Pierce said. “I didn’t know we had a rivalry going.”
The Celtics enter Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden on a 10-game winning streak while the Knicks have won their last eight to stand just four games behind Boston in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.
“We have bigger goals than winning streaks,” Pierce said. “I didn’t know we had a rivalry going. If that’s what you all want, if it’s going sell more tix, get more viewers, I guess so. You [media] all make up the rivalry, we don’t, to be honest. At the end of the day, we’re playing for championships, not certain opponents.”
Big man Glen Davis will be one of the Celtics trying to contain the reinvigorated Knicks front court, led by Amare Stoudemire.
“I’m not worried about that, New York and Boston,” Davis said of any rivalry with the 16-9 Knicks. “That’s just the way it is. I’m worried about winning the game and worried about June, what’s going to happen in June. That’s what I’m worried about. I’m not even going to get into that. New York’s a great team. They’ve been playing well and trying to be where we’re at. It’s going to be a big game for them.”
|Irish Coffee: Big Baby buoys bench||12.02.10 at 1:29 pm ET|
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:
“I love him,’’ Garnett told The Boston Globe. “I 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.)
|The Three-Pointer: Marquis Daniels delivers what Doc ordered||11.30.10 at 11:14 pm ET|
Last year, a few times during the season, the cameras would catch Marquis Daniels in street clothes on the end of the Celtics bench, and people would be reminded, “Oh, yeah, he’s on this team.”
In other words, he was forgettable, even for Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who designated Daniels as a DNP for 13 of their 24 playoff games last season.
Since entering the NBA in 2003, Daniels has missed at least 20 games in six of his seven full seasons. After signing a $2 million deal with the Celtics last season, he played in just 51 games — reaching double figures only eight times and looking more like Lou Tsioropolous than the guy who averaged 13.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists for the Pacers during the 2006-07 season.
In the Celtics’ 106-87 victory over the Cavaliers, we saw a different Daniels — one the Celtics must have known still lurked somewhere beneath those dreads, or else they wouldn’t have re-signed the swingman to another one-year deal (this time for more money, at $2.5 million).
“He surprises me, and he upsets me, because I know he can do it every night,” Rivers told reporters after Tuesday night’s win. “I’m going to stay on him, because he has that in him. I think he can be that terrific every single night. I really do.”
When the final seconds had ticked off the clock in Cleveland, Daniels’ line read like this: 16 points (on 7-of-10 shooting), four rebounds, two steals and one block — all improvements from his averages of 4.7 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 0.4 blocks. But it wasn’t just his statistical production that endeared him to Rivers for at least one night. It was his defense.
“We put him on [Ramon] Sessions, he was guarding Mo Williams and moving his feet,” added Rivers. “They couldn’t beat him off the dribble. That was huge. We didn’t know how long we could go with that. We were going to try to get them on the other end in the post. We didn’t know we could stay in front of those guys, and the fact that Marquis could do that was a big deal for us.”
In the wake of Delonte West‘s surgery after suffering a broken wrist last week, the Celtics desperately needed someone off the bench to help Glen Davis — who had his usual productive night off the bench with 17 points and 11 rebounds — ease the burden for the Celtics starters. They’ve been waiting for more than a season for Daniels to be that guy, and for at least one game he met the challenge.
It’s no surprise that his best game of the season came two games after West’s injury and just one day after Rivers made the Celtics bench pull double duty at practice.
“We brought the second unit in early [Monday],” said Rivers. “They had their own practice before the regulars had their practice, and you could see that it got to them a little bit. And it was great, but we need them like that every night.”
Consider that a challenge to Daniels going forward, as if the motivation of another, bigger payday wasn’t already enough.
‘STEP ON THE GAS PEDAL’
After falling behind the Cavaliers 17-8 in the first 6:34 of Tuesday night’s game, the Celtics outscored Cleveland 48-28 to close out the half and take a 56-45 lead into the locker room.
That’s when Celtics commentator Tommy Heinsohn said it, as a ton of Celtics fans were thinking it: “All right, now step on the gas pedal.”
Too often this season the Celtics have rushed out to double-digit leads, seemingly in total control of every aspect of the game, only to have their advantage start to vanish like Marty McFly‘s image in that “Back to the Future” photograph.
Tuesday night, however, the Celtics outscored the Cavaliers 24-20 in the third quarter, stretching their lead from 11 to 15 points and allowing Rivers to give his starters some much-needed rest, considering the C’s host the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.
In their first 13 games, the Celtics led all three of their games at halftime but were outscored in nine of those games during the third quarter — leading to close games and forcing the Celtics to rely on Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo for well over 30 minutes a night.
That trend has changed in the C’s last four games, as they have won the third-quarter battle in wins over the Hawks, Nets, Raptors and — after Tuesday night — the Cavaliers. That allowed Rivers to limit Pierce and Allen to just 23 minutes apiece in the final game of that stretch.
‘TOP OF THE FRONT RIM’
My father could drain free throw after free throw in the driveway. He’d make 200 in a row, or at least it seemed that way when I was a kid. His mantra: “Aim for the top of the front rim.” He ingrained that — and as a result the importance of foul shooting — into my head at an early age.
Despite having three guys — Allen, Garnett and Pierce — shooting 89, 85 and 84 percent from the free-throw line, the Celtics entered Tuesday night’s game ranked 21st in the NBA in foul shooting. And they didn’t do themselves any favors, shooting just 13-of-23 from the charity stripe against the Cavaliers.
Shaquille O’Neal‘s struggles at the line are a given (he’s at 57 percent). It’s really only Rondo who can help the Celtics improve in that arena. The Celtics point guard is shooting a putrid 47 percent from the line this season, and he made just 1-of-4 against the Cavaliers.
This problem may not have much effect on the C’s success during the regular season, but there’s no doubt it could be an Achilles heel in the playoffs, when games are more physical and tighter at the end. After all, the Celtics ranked eighth in free-throw percentage when they won the title three years ago.
|Three point play: Time for Plan B||11.29.10 at 4:25 pm ET|
Barely a month into the season, Doc Rivers is already seeing his plans go up in smoke. The hoped-for scenario, with all the accumulated talent on the roster, was to employ a 10-man rotation, almost in a platoon style. Now that Jermaine O’Neal and Delonte West are out, Rivers is forced to scramble a bit. The Celtics are down to a dozen able-bodied players and three of them are rookies.
“You come into the year with one plan and you got to change the plan sometimes and that’s something we’re doing as a staff,” Rivers said after the team conducted practice Monday. “The 10-man thing is not going to work right now. I believe it’s really important for us to have one because that allows [the starters] to get rest.”
Rivers said the injuries will force him to sub differently and you may see him go to his bench earlier in an attempt to jumpstart the minutes rotation. At the same time, he’s reluctant to leave all of his starters on the bench at any one time without veterans like West and O’Neal to take charge of the second unit.
“I’m just going to have to sub differently,” Rivers said. “It’s not what I wanted to do. The way our starters play, logically, I’d rather extend their minutes together. It’s just not going to work out that way.”
Rajon Rondo is already logging 39 minutes a night and Ray Allen checks in at 38 per game. Allen, Paul Pierce (36 minutes) and Kevin Garnett (33) have all seen their playing time increase from the previous season. Garnett said the veterans are ready for it.
“Everybody on here they’re going to have to be extended, not just us three,” Garnett said. “Guys have to anticipate playing more minutes.”
One player who has suddenly found himself with an unexpected role is Von Wafer, who has seen the court in small doses. Wafer is ahead of rookie Avery Bradley because of his experience, and also his shooting ability. “Obviously we need Von more than Avery in some ways,” Rivers said. “We need the guy to play the 2-spot. Avery can help us.” As for his defense, Rivers said that Wafer is working on it.
West is scheduled to have surgery on his wrist Tuesday and the Celtics will have a better idea how long he will be out after the procedure is performed. As for Jermaine O’Neal, his status is still up in the air. Rivers said that he was out for all of this week and that’s as far as they were willing to look.
Everyone knew injuries would be a part of this year’s team and now it’s time for the first of what could be many Plan B’s.
More practice notes after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »
|Celtics’ Glen Davis taking charge||11.17.10 at 10:56 pm ET|
Glen Davis is leading the charge on, well, charges. The Celtics’ Sixth Man drew his league-leading 17th offensive foul in Tuesday night’s 114-83 blowout victory over the Washington Wizards.
“A wise man once told me a pig sacrifices more than a chicken,” said Davis. “I just want to be a pig.”
The statistic isn’t officially tracked by the NBA, but Davis is lobbying for it, arguing that they work two ways — turning the ball over in your favor and giving the opposing team an additional foul.
“They keep track of how many shots of yours you get blocked, don’t they?” said Davis, who contributed two points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals in the win. “I think I led the league in that one year. So, why not charges?”
Big Baby said he learned how to take a charge from former teammate James Posey during the 2007-08 season. According to Davis, the key to the charge is deception — making opponents believe you’re going to foul them and holding your ground in the final moment (“I look at my feet every time”). It’s that timing in addition to his knowledge of help defense, the team’s rotations and thier scouting reports that have led to Davis’ success in that area.
“I don’t like to flop,” said Davis. “When I take a charge, somebody is going to have to run into me.”
Davis said it took a week to fully shake off a charge he took against the Dallas Mavericks’ Caron Butler. So, do they all hurt that much?
“All of them do,” said Davis. “There’s not one that does not hurt. But every one is worth it. The only one that’s not is the one where I get hit in the gonads.”
Just don’t hit the pig in the gonads. Got that everybody?
|Fast break: Celtics suffer letdown against Cavaliers||10.27.10 at 9:54 pm ET|
It was the second night of the first back-to-back of the season and the Celtics were playing in a decidedly different atmosphere than the one they experienced in Boston on Tuesday. Still, there are no viable excuses for the Celtics, who blew a fourth-quarter lead in a 95-87 loss to the Cavaliers. (Recap.)
The Celtics played with fire throughout the game and it ultimately burned them, especially down the stretch where they were outscored, 13-3.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG
Too many turnovers: The main problem with the Celtics offense remains turnovers. They had 10 in the first half and another nine in the second. The Cavs wound up with nine more shots than the Celtics, one reason why they were able to win despite shooting under 45 percent.
Jermaine O’Neal will need some time: Give Jermaine O’Neal credit for getting himself healthy enough to play after a variety of training camp injuries, but he was not effective at all in 12 lackluster minutes. O’Neal fouled out with two points — his first points of the season — along with three turnovers and two rebounds.
Fourth quarter techs: Nate Robinson and Shaquille O’Neal picked up technical fouls on the same play, which helped propel a Cavaliers run. Fourth-quarter techs are a major no-no for Doc Rivers.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
Kevin Garnett looks fresh: Garnett had his second-straight double-digit rebounding game with 15 boards. There’s a long way to go, but Garnett looks so much more athletic than he did at this time last season.
Glen Davis knows his role: The Celtics bench needs to fine-tune things, but Davis has assumed the role of sixth man. He saw action at both the center and power forward spots and scored 14 points to go with five rebounds in 33 minutes of action. He and Marquis Daniels have been the top reserves.
Managing minutes: Rivers acknowledged that he played his veterans too many minutes in the opener, and despite the second-half run by the Cavs, he kept his starters on the bench and let his team play through it. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce went from 40 minutes down to the mid-30′s and Garnett clocked in at a more reasonable 30 minutes. Managing minutes may have cost the Celtics the game, but Rivers is going to keep the long view throughout the season.