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Doc Rivers on loss of Jared Sullinger: ‘We’ll have to play differently again’ 02.01.13 at 7:18 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers says his team will have to play more small ball now that big man Jared Sullinger is lost for the season to lumbar disc surgery in his back, surgery that took place Friday at New England Baptist Hospital.

While the news was somewhat surprising to outsiders on Friday, the Celtics knew all along that this was the risk of drafting Sullinger, who missed nearly half of his final (sophomore) year last winter with Ohio State, a team he led to the Final Four. Sullinger’s bad back dropped him on draft day last June and the Celtics took the gamble, taking him 21st overall.

“We knew this could happen,” Rivers said. “We knew it a month before the draft that this could happen and at some point it probably would happen. We were hoping it would be a summer thing, rather than the middle of the season, but it happened now. He was playing great and the good news is we know he can play. We know he’€™ll be a very good player and, in the long run, this will make him healthier.”

As for Rivers’ reaction to the news, “My emotions are to the team, I have to give them that. I told them after shootaround. Our goals haven’€™t changed, nothing’€™s changed. We will have to play differently, again.”

Rivers said he would use more of a “small-ball” approach, like the Magic and Knicks already do in the East. Rivers also inserted Brandon Bass back in the starting lineup and hinted that he would use Jeff Green more at the power forward spot, with the following caveat.

“It’s probably not fair but I’m going to lean more on Jeff to do more rebounding,” Rivers said. “When he’s rebounded for us, he’s played well.”

“I think we’€™re still working on what we may have to do. But I think we definitely have to be a small-ball team. We’€™ll start big, as usual with Brandon and Kevin [Kevin Garnett] — I don’€™t know if that’€™s big, but that’€™s how we’€™ll start. After that we just have to put our five best players on the floor, so we’€™re going to have to be creative.”

As for leaning on rookie center Fab Melo, don’t expect Rivers to be using the Syracuse product, meshing with what Danny Ainge told reporters before Friday’s game.

“I know how people here love the young guys — love to see the young guys,” Rivers said tongue-in-cheek. “I’€™m sure at some point, Fab will find his way on the floor. Obviously, I think you try to give him as much as he can handle. You do try to put him in situations like when he’€™s on the floor, Kevin’€™s on the floor with him to help him.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green
Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green lead C’s in revenge win over DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings 01.30.13 at 9:50 pm ET
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Brandon Bass, Jeff Green and Jason Terry each scored 12 points off the bench as the Celtics beat the Kings, 99-81, Wednesday night at TD Garden. The Celtics, who won their second straight after six straight losses, gained revenge for a humbling 118-96 loss in Sacramento on Dec. 30, a game in which 22-year-old DeMarcus Cousins registered a triple-double. Boston was able to contain Cousins Wednesday, holding him to 13 points and six rebounds.

Paul Pierce came on in the second half to lead the Celtics with 16 points and 10 rebounds while Kevin Garnett added 13 points and nine rebounds. Boston’s bench outscored Sacramento’s reserves, 50-26.

The Celtics raced out to an 8-0 lead to start the game as Garnett was red-hot early. The Celtics lost their starting power forward Jared Sullinger to back spasms just four minutes into the game. He received ice treatment in the locker room but could not return and was ruled out late in the second quarter.

The Kings recovered quickly and outscored the Celtics 24-14 to end the period as the visitors led, 24-22, after 12 minutes.

The Celtics couldn’t miss in the second quarter. They made a season-best 16-of-20 shots from the field, scorching the Kings with 80 percent shooting and outscoring the Kings, 37-14, in the period to take a commanding 59-38 halftime lead. The Celtics hit their first 14 shots of the quarter.

Green and Garnett were a combined 10-for-10 from the field in the first half, combining for 21 of Boston’s 59 points. The Celtics were able to do most of their damage without Paul Pierce, who was held scoreless until his layup and subsequent three-point play with 2:55 left in the first half.

Looking to avoid a meltdown like the one that cost them a 27-point lead last Friday in Atlanta, the Celtics actually expanded their lead to 28, 74-46, midway through the third.

But the Kings did make a run at the Celtics early in the fourth, cutting Boston’s lead down to 15, 82-67, on a flagrant-1 foul by Leandro Barbosa on Tyreke Evans. But the Celtics managed to stop the bleeding there and Pierce came down and responded with a basket to restore the lead to 17.

The Kings cut the lead back down to 14, 90-76, and had a rebound with a chance to narrow it more but committed a turnover in transition. But the Celtics looked awful in the next possession as Pierce held onto the ball near mid-court for a 24-second violation. The Kings would not get closer than 14 down the stretch.

The Celtics are off Thursday before returning to action on Friday against the Magic at TD Garden. The Celtics conclude their four-game homestand with a game against the Clippers on Sunday at 1 p.m. For complete coverage from the Garden from the team of Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Jason Terry
Jeff Green: ‘Just glad to be here, glad to be alive, glad to be playing basketball’ 01.09.13 at 11:51 pm ET
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Just one year ago Wednesday, Jeff Green went under the knife to repair the aortic valve in his heart. Doc Rivers thought his career was over and Green had to lay in a certain way on his hospital bed to make sure he healed correctly.

One year to the day later, he had three spectacular dunks and led a potent Boston bench with 14 points as the Celtics beat the Suns, 87-79, at TD Garden.

‘€œIt felt good. (long pause) I can’€™t put it into words,” Green said. “I mean it’€™s a wonderful day, I had a good game, I’€™m just glad to be here man. You know, I reflect a lot about what I’€™ve been through and it’€™s just a blessing and I’€™m glad to be here.’€

The Celtics couldn’t have done it without Green and Jared Sullinger leading the way.

‘€œWe’€™re just playing together. Things are starting to click, were just playing hard. Our main focus is defense. Defense defense defense.’€ KG’€™s been playing unbelievable with this energy, Countney, myself and Jet, everyone is playing unbelievable.

‘€œI don’€™t cry, but, it was. A year ago I had heart surgery. When I think about laying in the bed when I woke up from it, and to where I am now’€¦it’€™s a big deal to me. Like I said, I’€™m just glad to be here, glad to be alive, glad to be playing basketball.’€

Rivers wasn’t tearing up either but he was clearly happy for Green.

“It’€™s a good night,” Rivers said. “He got some dunks and looked good. And who would’€™ve thought it a year ago? So it’€™s really a ‘€“ I mean, the doctors, and all that ‘€“ but it’€™s really a testament to Jeff in general. The fact that he worked himself into the condition that he did; there had to be some kind of fear somewhere, because to work yourself into condition you have to use that muscle. So it’€™s just really cool that he’€™s playing, and he’€™s playing well of us.

“I was more concerned about Jeff’€™s health; I wasn’€™t thinking about basketball at all, I can tell you that. I didn’€™t, honestly, at that time I didn’€™t think he’€™d ever play. So the basketball part wasn’€™t even a concern. You know, the two things that bugged me the most, obviously, was his condition, was number one, and then the contract that was voided, because it had to be, legally. And I was thinking, ‘€˜Man, this kid’€™s worked his whole life to make a living,’€™ and now he’€™s signing the biggest deal of his life at that point and it’€™s gone. You know? And so now he’€™s back playing, doing well in all those areas, and I’€™m very happy for him. He deserves it.’€

What did Green think Wednesday looking back 12 months?

‘€œFirst time I stood up from surgery, the first time I walked, it was painful, but I had to make progress and take steps to get back on the court,” Green said. “Those are memories that Ill never forget. Anything between now and that first step, you know, it was a wonderful journey for myself and an unbelievable process that I went through.”

Does it push him every day?

‘€œOh, most definitely, because I never want to be back at that point, the way I felt when I woke up, I never want to feel that way again, taking 10 steps and getting tired’€¦I never want to feel that way again,” he said. “I’€™m gonna push myself to the limits and never be out of shape.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jeff Green, NBA
Irish Coffee: How Celtics perform in clutch situations 12.10.12 at 5:10 pm ET
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After Rajon Rondo missed not one, but both game-winning opportunities in a 95-94 Celtics loss to the 76ers over the weekend — a failed 19-footer to end regulation and the infamous slippery 16-footer as overtime ran out — I got to wondering how the C’s are performing in clutch situations (either team within five points with five minutes remaining in regulation and overtime), since half of their 20 games have been decided by six points or less.

The C’s are 6-4 in those 10 games despite shooting 37.4 percent as a team in a whopping 60.2 clutch minutes, including three overtime games. They’ve had four potential game-winning shots at the buzzer — all misses on long jumpers — and Rondo has taken three of them. Paul Pierce attempted the fourth (from the elbow, of course).

Before we started reading into who’s doing what in the clutch, here are the numbers (Leandro Barbosa, Chris Wilcox and Jared Sullinger have all played sparingly in crunch time, but not a large enough sample size). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry
Jeff Green thinks ‘things are turning the corner’ 12.09.12 at 6:23 pm ET
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This is the Jeff Green every Celtics fan – and Green himself – has been waiting for.

In the last five games, Green has become the go-to guy off the bench, reaching double figures four times while averaging 16 points and 4.2 rebounds.

To top it all off, his long-range shot has been starting to fall much more consistently. He is shooting 54 percent from the field.

That’s a far cry from the 7.7 points and 2.5 rebounds he was averaging in the previous 15 games. In that stretch, he was shooting just 40 percent from the floor.

“I just went through a slump,” Green said. “Every player goes through one. Now shots are going in for me; things are turning the corner.”

“It’s just about being more aggressive, getting the rim so I can get into a rhythm, offensively. Get easy looks and the other shots will start to fall.

What makes Doc Rivers so happy is that he isn’t being forced to draw up new plays to get Green good looks. They’re all coming from Green himself.

“I think Jeff is just freeing himself up,” Rivers said after Saturday’s 92-79 win over the Sixers, in which he scored 16 points in 23 minutes off the bench, converting 7-of-12 shots from the floor. “He’s starting to do it and it’s really been good.”

Finally, it looks like Green isn’t worried about meeting the expectations of a four-year, $36 million contract signed this summer.

The more he plays like Saturday, the more confident he gets. And when Green plays with confidence, he begins to fly all over the court. Green converted a pair of dunks, including a slam on a alley-oop from Rajon Rondo that put the Celtics up, 81-63 with 7:44 left in the game.

“I’m getting there. My bounce is getting there,” Green said. “It’s been a slow process but it’s coming along.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jeff Green, NBA
Courtney Lee: Doc Rivers ‘can continue to call us soft … if it wakes us up’ 12.01.12 at 1:29 am ET
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Courtney Lee

Jeff Green might have scored 19 points and Jason Terry might have had 17 in 31 minutes but it was Courtney Lee who was the key player in Boston’s 96-78 win over the Trail Blazers Friday night at TD Garden, as the Celtics played the first of two straight games without the suspended Rajon Rondo.

Lee said the team responded well to Doc Rivers calling them soft after a loss to the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday night at home.

“He can continue to call us soft,” Lee said afterward. “If we’re going to respond like this and play, I guess we need to be told that for us to wake up.”

What really hit home with Lee was when Rivers rolled the film of Wednesday’s game, showing the team how many easy baskets they were giving up.

“We got called soft the other day and we didn’t like that,” Lee said. “When you watch the tape, you see those guys [Nets] coming down, running their offense, setting hard screens, getting layups and dunks and wide open shots. We took that personally.”

No shock that the turnaround began on the defensive end, where the Celtics held the Blazers to 23 percent shooting in the first half.

‘€œYeah, definitely after that loss last game, we wanted to come out and just focus on the defensive end make sure we got stops,” Lee said. “Make sure we didn’€™t give up any easy buckets and so I think we started off and threw the first punch.’€

Rivers gave Lee credit for stepping up and showing his play-making ability in the absence of Rondo.

‘€œCourtney was great,” Rivers said. “You could see Courtney is getting better and better at what we’€™re asking him to do. He’€™s bought in completely, which you can see that. His shots will fall. I feel like him, with Avery (Avery Bradley) last year, where I kept telling you guys ‘€˜Avery can shoot’€™ and you guys were looking at me like I was a Martian. And then he started making them. And Courtney is proving he can. He’€™s getting wide open ones, and eventually they’€™ll fall.’€

“I mean that’€™s what you gotta do,” Lee said of his ball-handling skills. “Rondo is a great playmaker, the guy’€™s gonna rack up a lot of assists, so we just have to play within the offense, move the ball around, and you see the assists were spread out throughout the whole team. Without him we had to move the ball a lot more.

‘€œI mean it shows good character for our team. We got beat bad on our own court then we went to practice, had a real tough practice. Doc was on us the whole time so we wanted to come in and protect home court, because we cant keep letting teams come in and beat us on our home court. We wanted to bounce back and we did that today.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Courtney Lee, Doc Rivers, Jason Terry
Fast Break: No Rajon Rondo, no problem; Celtics smoke Blazers 11.30.12 at 10:04 pm ET
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As Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo sat the first of his two-game suspension, five of his teammates reached double figures, led by Jeff Green‘s 19 points, and just about every member of the Blazers not named LaMarcus Aldridge (23 points, 8 rebounds) didn’t bother to show up in a 96-78 blowout at the Garden.

Jason Terry (17 points), Paul Pierce (12 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 turnovers), Kevin Garnett (10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) and Courtney Lee all joined Green in double digits. Here’s what else transpired.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Portlandia: The Celtics put away the Blazers early. They started 10-of-15 from the field, and by first quarter’s end the C’s owned a 25-18 advantage on 57.1 percent shooting as all five starters scored between 4-6 points. By halftime, three Celtics had already reached double figures, they shot 56.8 percent as a group and took a 56-33 lead into the break. In the meantime, Portland shot 5-of-16 (31.3 FG%) in the opening quarter and somehow managed worse in the second (2-14, 14.3 FG%).

GreenLee: As Twitter follower @EricJsaint noted, Green and Lee each probably played their best game of the season (with the possible exception of Green’s 17-point night against the Thunder). On a sprained right knee, Green shot 6-of-13 (2-4 3P) to go along with four steals, three rebounds, two assists and a block in 23 minutes off the bench. Meanwhile, starting in Rondo’s absence, Lee amassed 10 points (4-10 FG), seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Rest home: Given the fact they led by as many as 25 points in the first half, elder Celtics statesman Garnett and Pierce played just 23 and 27 minutes, respectively. An unexpected bonus with Rondo out of the lineup, for sure, considering the C’s head to Milwaukee for the second night of a back-to-back against the Bucks on Saturday night.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Depth perception: Prior to the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers claimed he would only break the Chris Wilcox glass in case of emergency. Well, when backup center Jason Collins picked up his third personal foul in a span of 5:36, Rivers turned to Wilcox — with a minute left in the first quarter.

Lone star: The Celtics appeared content letting LaMarcus Aldridge try to beat them, as long as he had to do it all by himself. At halftime, the 2012 NBA All-Star had 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting. His teammates? 16 on 2-of-19.

Running afoul: Portland attempted 27 free throws in the first 24 minutes (37 in all). Blazers bigs Aldridge and J.J. Hickson combined for 17 by the break while the C’s had just 12. Just a guess: Tommy Heinsohn wasn’t pleased.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jeff Green, NBA, Portland Trail Blazers
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