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Rockets get 18th overall pick for Chase Budinger, Lior Eliyahu 06.26.12 at 1:50 pm ET
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The Rockets have acquired the 18th overall pick in the NBA draft from the Timberwolves in return for Chase Budinger and the rights to Lior Eliyahu according to multiple reports.

The deal gives the Rockets the 14th, 16th and 18th overall picks in Thursday’s draft, which gives them plenty of ammunition for more trades. The Rockets have been linked to a potential deal involving the Kings’ fifth overall pick in the draft, as well another deal involving the Raptors’ eighth overall pick.

The Rockets are reportedly using these trades to make a strong push towards acquiring Dwight Howard from the Magic despite the fact that Howard intends to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Budinger, who was the 44th overall pick in the 2009 draft, averaged 9.6 points in 22.4 minutes per game last season. The 6-foot-7 small forward shot 40.2 percent from three-point range last season and is likely to help a Timberwolves team that struggled to score from the wing. Eliyahu is a 6-foot-10, 232 pound forward who was originally  taken with the 44th overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Magic and plays professionally in Israel.

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Ray Allen comes through in the clutch again, this time using a ‘Top Gun’ move 03.07.12 at 12:31 am ET
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It’s a move that’s vintage Ray Allen.

He catches a pass from Brandon Bass with just under 40 seconds remaining and the Celtics trailing by a point. Allen sees Courtney Lee charging at him in desperation to get a hand in his face.

“When Lee jumped at me, I knew I was going to fake him and let him fly by me,” Allen said. “It’s like one of my favorite moves, Top Gun, I put on the brakes and let him fly by.”

He lets Lee fly by, just like in his favorite movie. And as was the case with Tom Cruise’s character in “Top Gun”, Allen made Lee pay by nailing a wide-open 3-pointer with 35.4 seconds remaining to put the Celtics on top, 84-82, capping a furious 14-2 run by Boston. The game would wind up going to overtime, with the Celtics willing themselves to a 97-92 overtime win over the Rockets at TD Garden.

The game didn’t begin so smoothly for Allen and the Celtics. Allen’s jumper was flat, as he missed his first three shots, all threes, and the Celtics fell behind 28-21 after a quarter.

“I had a couple early in the game that didn’t go in for me and I was watching how they were guarding me, so as the fourth quarter came along everytime I got the ball I knew they were trying to run me off the three so I just said this three was going to be on my terms,” Allen said.

Allen finished with 21 points on 7-for-15 shooting, including 3-of-8 from long range, in 41 grueling minutes.

If there’s anyone on the Celtics who can speak to the virtues of taking care of the body in the grind of a season, it’s No. 20. It’s certainly paying off this week, as Allen played his second straight game over 40 minutes in three days, with the prospects of playing the young and up-tempo Sixers on the road in Philly in less than 24 hours.

“The in-between days were you really have to take care of your body and make sure that you focus on rest,” he said. “Even in the games you have to learn how to be efficient out there. Sometimes you have to run harder just to push that bad wind out of you and sometimes you have to just be efficient, and get to your spot and allow your body to recover out there.

“So it changes, you just have to listen to your body. Sometimes your body is telling you you can’t go more. When that happens you have to make sure you pass the ball. Still make a sharp cut, but our legs are so important when you get to the shot. So if I’m short on the shot I know it’s my legs. So I always make sure I pay attention to that. I think as a team we have to make sure we play more together in these stretches because it is going to require us to be a team unit when we play those games.”

With the Celtics dying on the vine with 5:33 left, and down 10, it was Allen who drew upon his freakish good conditioning to bring his team back from certain defeat. he scored in every way possible, lay-up, mid-range jumpers and, of course, his trademark – the 3-pointer. He accounted for half of Boston’s 14 points in the run that got the Celtics back in the game.

“There’s so many facets of the game, you have to score in transition, you have to score in the paint,” Allen said. “In fast breaks, you have to score off easy buckets, you have to score free throws, you have to score 3-pointers. There’s so many different things so you have to be prepared for everything. I always feel like if I can be in better condition than my guy then that’s going to be four-to-six points a game I will be able to get.”

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NBA Offseason Review: Southwest Division 12.21.11 at 5:28 pm ET
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Given the drama (and comedy) that was the NBA lockout, the ensuing free agency frenzy and the vetoed trade by a commissioner of a group of owners who was acting as the general manager of an individual team that is owned by that same group of owners, it’s easy to get confused about who landed where. This is the third of six daily division-by-division reviews leading up to opening day.

NBA Offseason Review: Pacific Division
NBA Offseason Review: Northwest Division

HOUSTON ROCKETS

2010-11 record: 43-39
2010-11 standing: 5th in Southwest Division
NBA draft picks: 14. Marcus Morris; 20. Donatas Motiejunas; 38. Chandler Parsons
Key additions: Samuel Dalembert (free agent); Jonny Flynn (trade); Jeremy Lin (FA)
Key substractions: Yao Ming (retired); Chuck Hayes (free agent); Brad Miller (trade)
2011-12 starters: PG Kyle Lowry; SG Kevin Martin; SF Chase Budinger; PF Luis Scola; C Dalembert
2011-12 wins over/under (sportsbook.com): 34.5
2011-12 prediction: 35-31

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

2010-11 record: 46-36
2010-11 standing: 4th in Southwest Division; lost Western Conference semifinals to Thunder, 4-3
NBA draft picks: 49. Josh Selby
Key additions: Brian Skinner (free agent); Jeremy Pargo (FA)
Key substractions: Shane Battier (free agent); Leon Powe (FA)
2011-12 starters: PG Mike Conley; SG O.J. Mayo; SF Rudy Gay; PF Zach Randolph; C Marc Gasol
2011-12 wins over/under (sportsbook.com): 36.5
2011-12 prediction: 38-28

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Report: Rockets interview Lawrence Frank again 05.17.11 at 8:44 am ET
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Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank interviewed again with the Rockets. (AP)

Just a year after losing defensive-minded assistant coach Tom Thibodeau and watching him take the Bulls to the Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics and head coach Doc Rivers might be posting the position on the NBA’s “Help Wanted” list for a second straight season.

Thibodeau’s replacement, Lawrence Frank, went through a second round of interviews with the Rockets on Monday for the head coaching position left vacant in Houston by Rick Adelman, according to Houston’s local FOX affiliate. He is reportedly one of three finalists for the job, along with Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey and Celtics Hall of Famer Kevin McHale.

This past season, Frank did an admirable job as Rivers’ assistant coach, leading the Celtics to a No. 1 ranking in points allowed (91.1) and No. 2 ranking in defensive rating (100.3 points per 100 possessions). Under Thibodeau in 2009-10, the C’s ranked fifth in both points allowed (95.6) and defensive rating (103.8).

Last serving as a head coach in 2009, Frank totaled a 225-241 record (.483 winning percentage) with the Nets for six-plus seasons.

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Irish Coffee: The transformation of Von Wafer 01.11.11 at 11:17 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Optimus Prime. Wheeljack. Von Wafer. The name even sounds like a “Transformers” character.

For Doc Rivers and the Celtics, that’s exactly what he is. Wafer left Houston as an established offensive player and came to Boston as a defensive project.

“He played very well for us,” Rockets head coach Rick Adelman said prior to Monday night’s 108-102 defeat of the Celtics. “He was a real spark off the bench. He won a lot of games for us. He’s a guy who once he gets comfortable he’s a real threat. I think eventually he’s going to help them.”

In 2008-09, as a member of the Rockets, Wafer played 20 minutes a night, averaging 9.7 points in 63 games — including 11 starts. He even hit a clutch 3-pointer that sunk the Celtics almost two years ago to the day. This season, with this Celtics team, he might not get more than five minutes on a given night.

“Whether you play five minutes or 15, you’ve got to play hard,” added Adelman. “You’ve got to make a contribution to the team. Some guys don’t feel like that. They feel like they have to get minutes to help the team. You can’t do that.”

When Wafer first arrived in Boston, he fell into the camp of guys who felt like they needed minutes to contribute — and by contribute, he meant score. After all, that’s what Adelman wanted from him in Houston.

“He’s unbelievable,” Wafer said of his former coach. “He just let me do whatever, let me be who I was. It didn’t matter how many shots I missed. He just let me play.” Even at the expense of his defense.

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With an eye on big picture, Doc Rivers admits ‘I don’t like where we’re at right now’ at 2:16 am ET
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Sure, Monday was a very distasteful and bitter pill to swallow for the Celtics. But really what concerned Doc Rivers afterward was how he felt his team approached the game.

With or without Kevin Garnett and with or without the high-scoring Kevin Martin in the game for the Rockets, Rivers felt his team was capable of a whole lot better than they showed in a 108-102 loss at TD Garden.

But the trademark defense that has been a staple of these championship-driven Celtics has not been there in the last week, and Rivers fears that if they start falling in love with scoring instead of doing the dirty work, they’ll lose something a lot more important – home court advantage in the NBA playoffs.

Don’t look now but not only are the Spurs putting some distance between themselves and the Celtics – who fell to 28-9 – but the Miami Heat have, in the space of about three weeks, caught up to them with a torrid winning streak.

If the Celtics aren’t careful, they not only might have to win an NBA Finals Game 7 on the road like last year in LA but they may have to do the same thing against Miami just to get there.

“To me, you can see them thinking about the individual game and not the ramifications of the entire season,” Rivers said of his team. “And playing Game 7 on the road. And hell, not just in the Finals if you make it there, but in the playoffs. In the East, which is going to be difficult. This year’s not like last year where you can coast. You don’t have home court this year, you could go home.

“You know especially at home, I think we need to really take advantage of games where their best player isn’t playing, guys coming off injury,” captain Paul Pierce added. “These games mean a lot down the road, and but at the same time, they’re going to suit up and play, and we got to understand that nothing is given to us cause their down a man, or they’ve been struggling for most of the year. We got to put our work boots on and come with our A game, we’re not taking advantage of this, there are a lot of games that we’re letting slip away that we’re supposed to win” Read the rest of this entry »

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The Three-Pointer: Celtics aching for Kevin Garnett at 12:34 am ET
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And that’s why the Celtics need a healthy Kevin Garnett.

Garnett missed his seventh straight game as a result of the calf he strained during a game in Detroit on Dec. 29, and sooner or later his absence was bound to catch up to the Celtics. Coincidence or not, it happened on the night Garnett was rumored to return.

He didn’t, and the Celtics lost 108-102 to the Rockets, who had suffered five straight defeats entering the game and suited up without Yao Ming or Kevin Martin in uniform.

Houston did, however, have one very good power forward in the lineup (Luis Scola) and a pair of budding big men (Patrick Patterson and Jordan Hill), who combined for 34 points and 21 rebounds. You think that’s happening on Kevin Garnett’s watch?

“We just weren’t ready,” said Doc Rivers. “I told our guys I thought overall it was probably our worst defensive effort in three, four years as far as overall effort.”

For all that Glen Davis has done exceedingly well this season — and he has exceeded expectations — he’s no Kevin Garnett. That’s not breaking news or anything. But in Garnett’s absence, the Celtics have relied too much on Davis, and as a result he’s tried to do too much.

Starting in place of Garnett over the past seven games, Davis has shot just 41 percent (41-of-100) and grabbed more than five rebounds only once while averaging 35.7 minutes. In 30 games off the bench this season, he had been shooting 48 percent and averaging more than five rebounds in 28.5 minutes a game. Quite simply, he’s no longer doing the “garbage man” things that made him a contender for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.

“He’s getting too many minutes, quite honestly,” added Rivers. “Thirty-eight minutes is too many for Baby. We don’t have a lot of options right now. Luke [Harangody]’s playing okay, but we may have to go small. That’s too many minutes, and that’s on me. Baby should play more in the 30-range, because I think the fatigue is bothering him.”

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