|Report: Ray Allen felt disrespected by Celtics, leading to move to Miami||07.07.12 at 1:46 pm ET|
According to a report from Yahoo! Sports, Ray Allen’s decision to leave the Celtics and sign a three-year, $9.7 million deal with the Miami Heat was based on not only the love shown by Heat president Pat Riley, but the lingering bitterness toward the Celts.
The report had a source saying “He felt he was getting respect that he hadn’t gotten from [Celtics president] Danny [Ainge] and [coach] Doc [Rivers] anymore.…The presentation was incredible.”
According the author of the report, Adrian Wojnarowski, Allen still was upset that Celtics boss Danny Ainge had dangled him in trade talks, at one point telling the guard he was being shipped to Memphis only to then be told the deal was off. Allen was also reportedly upset over Doc Rivers taking away his starting job late in the season.
Then there was the fractured relationship Allen had with Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. As Wojnarowski wrote:
Those were some of the conflicts that Allen had with Rondo, but the stubbornness of the point guard worked to exacerbate everything. Rondo and Allen were non-confrontational, but much of the behind-the-back sniping to teammates and those around the team took a toll. So much of it was sandbox stuff, the kind of grating, ultimately petty issues that occur in every locker room, every workplace. Rondo didn’t chase Allen out of Boston, but their relationship did become a drain in the locker room. Their cold war was something Allen discussed with associates, something that become a concern of management and the coaching staff.
“When it comes to basketball, Rondo is the smartest player on the team – one of the smartest players in the league,” one locker-room source said. “And Ray considers himself a smart guy. But at some point, it became hard for Ray to be corrected by a guy so much younger than him.”
The report states that Kevin Garnett and (to a lesser extent) Paul Pierce both joined Rivers in trying to convince Allen to stay with the Celtics in the final days leading up to his agreement with the Heat. But the recruitment by Riley — who promised the end of any trade talks, along with the prospect of championship runs — won out.
|Inside the matchup: Celtics vs. Heat||12.27.11 at 12:10 am ET|
For most of the 2010-11 season, the Celtics were confident in their ability to beat Miami. They beat them on opening night in Boston and did it again in Miami less than three weeks later. The Celtics won again in February with just six healthy rotation players.
Everything changed in April when the Celtics were blasted on South Beach, losing 100-77, and the dynamic was completely reversed during the playoffs when the Heat won in five games.
With their first meeting this season on Tuesday, it’s the Celtics that are trying to prove that they can handle the Heat, who have won five of the last six meetings.
It won’t be easy because they’re not likely to have Paul Pierce, who is resting a bone bruise in his right heel and new addition Mickael Pietrus isn’t expected in the lineup until they return home on Friday. That leaves the underwhelming combination of Sasha Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels to handle LeBron James, fresh off a 37-point Christmas Day showing against the Mavericks that equaled the 37 Carmelo Anthony dropped on the Celtics.
The Celtics have always had great respect for accomplishment and hierarchy — that’s the reason they gave the Magic more respect than LeBron’s Cavs — and coach Doc Rivers has been reinforcing the notion that these Celtics haven’t won anything in a long time.
They did get a reprieve of sorts with word that Kevin Garnett escaped both a fine and a suspension after his one-arm shove of Bill Walker after time expired on Sunday. The Celtics didn’t lose three straight games at any point last season but with a back-to-back looming the next night in New Orleans that could suddenly become a stark possibility.
Here’s a closer look at the matchup:
What’s new with Miami: Shane Battier was the Heat’s big free agent acquisition, but a more important addition is one who never left: Udonis Haslem.
The veteran forward played in just 13 regular season games before tearing ligaments in his left foot. Haslem saw less than three minutes of action in the Celtics’ series, but returned to form later in the playoffs and grabbed 14 rebounds in 32 minutes in their opener against Dallas.
Haslem is part of a three-man frontcourt rotation with Chris Bosh and Joel Anthony that’s on the smaller side. Not coincidentally, the Celtics have adjusted their frontcourt with Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox, who should be able to provide a much more balanced matchup with Miami.
The other important addition is rookie point guard Norris Cole, who split duties with Mario Chalmers in the opener. That’s a major upgrade in terms of youth and athleticism from Mike Bibby, who had major problems with Rajon Rondo last season.
Can Avery Bradley offer defensive support? The Celtics clearly missed defensive stopper Tony Allen in last year’s playoffs and Dwyane Wade took full advantage, scoring 151 points in their five games. Bradley remains a liability on offense, but if he can give the Celtics 5-10 minutes of defense on Wade, that would help take some pressure off Ray Allen. The Celtics need something from Bradley because the alternatives are Rondo and/or Keyon Dooling.
Key matchup: Kevin Garnett vs. Chris Bosh
Garnett had a brilliant performance in Game 3, the only game the Celtics won, but was otherwise either outplayed or neutralized by Bosh throughout the series. Jermaine O’Neal is not a great matchup on Bosh and Wilcox is in the early stages of gaining Rivers’ trust. It’s up to Garnett who played 37 minutes in the opener, which is not part of the master minutes plan.
The Rondo factor: In 41 minutes against the Knicks, Rondo made 11-of-19 shots and scored 31 points. Much notice was paid to his outside shot where he sank three of five from 16-23 feet and his free throws where he made nine of 12 attempts. More importantly, he converted on 8-of-10 attempts at the rim and seven of his 13 assists were for inside shots.
Against the Knicks, the Celtics made a staggering 84 percent of their shots inside — 21-of-25 — and that was against Tyson Chandler, one of the league’s top interior defenders. Miami doesn’t have a shot-blocker like Chandler protecting the basket and it will be on Rondo to stay aggressive. He’s their best weapon against Miami.
CELTICS LIKELY STARTERS: Rondo, Allen, Daniels, Garnett, O’Neal
Rotation: Dooling, Bradley, Pavlovic, Bass, Wilcox
HEAT LIKELY STARTERS: Chalmers, Wade, James, Bosh, Anthony
Rotation: Cole, James Jones, Battier, Haslem, Juwan Howard
|Shootaround notes from the Celtics’ last stand||05.11.11 at 11:46 am ET|
MIAMI — There was much to discuss with coach Doc Rivers prior to Game 5 of the Celtics’ playoff series with the Heat, but the key question is: How will they perform facing elimination?
“They’ve got great pride,” Rivers said. “I think you’ll see that tonight. I think I’ll enjoy the way we play.”
Rivers won’t have Shaquille O’Neal, but he does expect Rajon Rondo to play. The coach said he will have a wait-and-see attitude with Rondo to see how he responds to his dislocated left elbow.
The first order of business for the Celtics is to stop turning the ball over. They had 18 turnovers in Game 4, which led to 28 points for Miami, an enormous swing considering the way both teams payed defense.
“As poorly as we played we still had a shot to win the game in regulation,” Rivers said. “But when you gift a gifted team turnovers like we did, in the playoffs you’re usually not going to win that game.”
Rivers expects Kevin Garnett to recover from his disastrous Game 4, when he shot 1-for-10 and was involved in a pair of breakdowns on both ends of the floor late in the contest.
“I expect the same from Kevin every night,” Rivers said. “I expect him to be great. I also understand as a coach that we’re coaching humans. He owns up to everything. I said all the time you can coach one guy or work with one guy in your career, you should coach Kevin Garnett at some point. He’s a pro’s pro. He understands when he plays well, and when he plays well he comes back the next day to play better. That’s just who he is.”
As for Glen Davis, who has struggled throughout the playoffs, Rivers sounded less optimistic.
“We need him, but he’s been struggling for a while,” Rivers said. “It started before the playoffs and he’s still in it. He had an occasional light. We’ve just got to keep going to him and see if we can get anything out of him.”
Asked whether Davis’ impending free agent status may be affecting him mentally, Rivers said, “I have no idea what’s in his mind. I don’t even want to get in there. It’s safer where I’m at.”
|Shaquille O’Neal doubtful for Game 5||at 11:29 am ET|
MIAMI — Shaquille O’Neal is doubtful for Game 5, and even that may be too generous of a classification. Shaq didn’t play in the second half or overtime of Game 4 against the Heat, and it wasn’t a coaching decision by Doc Rivers. It was strictly health-related.
“It was physical,” Rivers said at the team’s shootaround prior to Game 5. “Don’t know yet today. I will say I doubt it. That little stretch of the game it got worse.”
Rivers said that Shaq’s condition worsened in the four minutes he played in Game 4 and it doesn’t sound like he will be able to play no matter what happens in Game 5 or beyond.
“It’s nothing he can do. It’s not like he’s not trying,” Rivers said. “He’s done everything you possibly can do to get healthy. Unfortunately for him, he just hasn’t been able to do it. When he originally got injured no one thought it was that serious. It just never healed and it still hasn’t, and now every time he plays it gets worse.”
Rivers was asked whether this could be the end for O’Neal, who has a player to option to return next season.
“I think it’s too early to talk about it,” Rivers said. “I’ve learned personally you never try to make any decision during the heat of the battle. Emotionally you’re always going to make the wrong choice, so I think he’ll walk away from it this summer and then decide what he’s going to do. I just know this has been emotionally draining to him, more than you guys would know. He feels awful about this because this is why he came here, to get to the playoffs. Not being able to do that has really hurt him.
Rivers does expect Rajon Rondo to play with his dislocated left elbow, but he’s going into the game with the same wait-and-see approach that he had in Game 4. “I don’t know how much better he’s going to be, he is what he is,” Rivers said. “He’s a little better, I would guess.”
|Rajon Rondo goes through shootaround prior to Game 4||05.09.11 at 12:00 pm ET|
Injured point guard Rajon Rondo went through shootaround at the Celtics’ training facility in Waltham Monday morning, which is generally an indication that he will try to play in Game 4 Monday night at the Garden against Miami. Rondo was on the floor in practice clothes shooting free throws when the media was allowed down on the court. He didn’t talk to the press.
Rondo dislocated his left elbow in the third quarter of Game 3 after he became entangled with Miami’s Dwyane Wade. Rondo underwent and MRI and a CT-scan on Sunday and both came negative for a fracture. The Celtics have said that he is a game-time decision.
Fellow point guard Carlos Arroyo said that he thinks Rondo is ready. “He’s a warrior,” Arroyo said. “He demonstrated that last game. We were all surprised in the fact that he came back after that injury. I know he’s ready. He wants to play. He wants to win.”
Delonte West also participated in shootaround as did Shaquille O’Neal.
|Celtics await test results on Rajon Rondo, Delonte West||05.08.11 at 2:22 pm ET|
UPDATE: According to a team spokesman, the MRI on Rajon Rondo came back negative for further damage to his elbow. He is a game-time decision for Game 4 Monday night in Boston.
The initial diagnosis for Rondo was a dislocated left elbow. Delonte West apparently did not have an MRI, although he is dealing with a shoulder injury.
“I’m optimistic about both that they’re going to play,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before the team went through a film session and walkthrough on Sunday. “I don’t know why I am, but I am. I just don’t know how well either one of them can play. If they’re on the floor, we’re healthy. That’s been my motto since I’ve been here and our guys believe that.”
Both players were unavailable to the press. Rivers said that Rondo was in pain and there was swelling. As for West, Rivers said, “With Delonte it will come down to what he can tolerate.”
Rivers also said that Shaquille O’Neal had an expected amount of swelling, but that he would probably be able to play in Game 4 on Monday as well. “It’s day to day with Shaq and his body at this point of his life in the NBA, but I do think he can do the same,” Rivers said.
|Shootaround notes: Last minute checklist||05.03.11 at 12:42 pm ET|
MIAMI — As they head into Game 2, both the Celtics and Heat feel that they didn’t play their best in the opener and while there will be strategic adjustments on both sides, the sense is that both teams simply want to play their game better.
“As poorly as we played and they didn’t necessary play terrific either, you can clearly say some of it was due to their defense,” Doc Rivers said before the team’s shootaround. “It wasn’t just us being bad. There’s somebody out there making you be bad and they had a lot to do with it.”
On the Celtics to-do list are guard the 3-point line better, particularly James Jones who made 5-of-7 from behind the arc and keep Miami off the free throw line. Offensively, Rivers felt his team rushed and put themselves in a bad position.
“They’ll respond,” Rivers said of his team. “We’re usually a pretty good team in execution and we just were not. I was just surprised how impatient we were offensively. When you become impatient that makes you easy to guard. I think we were very easy to guard.”
As for Miami, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was happy with his team’s defense, but is looking for more from his offense. He knows that it won’t be easy.
“We’ve tried to exercise our mental disciple to maintain our mental edge,” he said. “It’s two physical teams, two very good defensive teams. There will be times when both teams struggle to score. Whoever can say that consistently played their game will likely win the basketball game.”
As for the prospect of going down 2-0 in this series, something that has never happened in the Big 3 era, Kevin Garnett said that the Celtics were not thinking that way.
“You take one game at a time,” Garnett said. “Each game you learn something from it and you try to apply what you’ve learned to the next game. Obviously [1-1] is always good but you go 0-2 against a great team it’s very hard.”
Expect both teams to be sharper in Game 2 and that’s when we’ll really find out if one team had the advantage.
“That will happen,” Rivers said. “It may happen tonight. I think one or two games you’ll get the best shot from each team and somebody will win that game.”
SHAQ UPDATE: Rivers said that Shaquille O’Neal looked good in practice on Monday in stretches but struggled at the end. the coach termed him doubtful for Game 2, but it will be a game-time decision.
“I doubt it,” Rivers said. “He looked great yesterday. He went through the whole practice. He was phenomenal actually. He had one stretch that was phenomenal. Then by the end of the practice he was struggling walking. We’ll see but I would say Game 3 is becoming likely. Game 2, were not sure but I doubt it.”
Rivers said that it was O’Neal’s first scrimmage since his seven-minute comeback against Detroit on April 3. That was encouraging, but, “Watching him walk on the bus and even this morning said the recovery time is tough for him,” Rivers said.