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Danny Ainge on The Big Show: Health of O’Neals ‘a concern’ 11.11.10 at 7:30 pm ET
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Danny Ainge (AP)

Danny Ainge

Celtics executive president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, in his weekly appearance on The Big Show (lsten to the interview at The Big Show audio on demand page) said that the health of centers Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal had become something of a concern. Shaquille O’Neal has missed the last five games while recovering from a bruised right knee, while Jermaine O’Neal was sidelined in the second half of this week’s contest against the Mavericks due to a left knee injury.

Shaq, Ainge said, is expected to return to the lineup against the Heat on Thursday. Jermaine O’Neal, on the other hand, is expected to remain sidelined. While Ainge did proclaim the health of the two centers a concern, he also said that it was not a complete surprise that the team is managing minutes at the position.

“I think that Jermaine and Shaq are a concern with their health,” said Ainge. “I felt like with the four centers we have that we’d be able to make it through the year. I didn’t expect Shaq to play 82 games, and I didn’t expect him to play more than 20-25 minutes a night at the most, and that was if he was playing well.”

With the two O’Neals dealing with their knee issues and Kendrick Perkins trying to work his way back from his torn ACL, Ainge said that rookie Semih Erden will continue to see minutes.

“Semih is going to get a chance to play with the up-and-down health of the two O’Neals,” Ainge said. “He has pretty good instincts about where to be both offensively and defensively. … Sometimes he’s thinking too much rather than relying on his instincts.”

Ainge also touched on the recent remarks by Joakim Noah of the Bulls that were critical of Celtics forward Kevin Garnett. Noah called Garnett “very mean” and “ugly,” comments that Ainge suggested were a non-story.

“I’m sure Kevin’s enjoying it. … It’s hilarious. I’m sure Kevin is enjoying every bit of it,” Ainge said. “I don’t even think this is a story. i don’t even want to talk about it, it’s so boring. … Joaquim Noah popping off is not very interesting.”

Ainge also discussed the early inconsistencies of the Heat, a team that he characterized as alternately dominant and vulnerable, as well as the status of Perkins’ recovery and the nature of his team’s budding rivalry with Miami.

Read More: Danny Ainge, Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
The Three-Pointer: Rajon Rondo has a lot to prove 11.09.10 at 12:03 am ET
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Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (9) goes for a shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas on Monday, Nov. 8, 2010.

Rajon Rondo finished 3-1 against point guards in his toughest four-game stretch of the season. (AP)

Remember that scene in the movie “Billy Madison” when Adam Sandler apologizes to Steve Buscemi for teasing him in high school, so Buscemi crosses him off his “kill list”? You kind of getting the feeling that NBA point guards should start finding reasons to apologize to Rajon Rondo.

With the possible exception of a stretch in late February and early March — when Rondo will face Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings in consecutive games — the Celtics point guard won’t face another stretch like he has over the past four games.

In six nights, Rondo faced Jennings, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Jason Kidd, finishing 3-1  — with the defeat arriving in an 89-87 loss to Kidd’s Mavericks Monday night in Dallas.

Despite battling mild plantar fasciitis, Rondo outplayed them all. See for yourself …

Celtics 105, Bucks 102 (OT)

  • Rondo: 17 points, 7-of-10 field goals, 15 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 6 turnovers
  • Jennings:  13 points, 5-of-13 field goals, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 turnovers

Celtics 110, Bulls 105 (OT)

  • Rondo: 10 points, 5-of-10 field goals, 11 assists, 3 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 turnovers
  • Rose: 18 points, 8-of-19 field goals, 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 0 steals, 6 turnovers

Celtics 92, Thunder 83

  • Rondo: 10 points, 5-of-8 shooting, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 4 turnovers
  • Westbrook: 16 points, 6-of-16 shooting, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, 8 turnovers

Mavericks 89, Celtics 87

  • Rondo: 11 points, 5-of-15 shooting, 15 assists, 6 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 turnovers
  • Kidd: 0 points, 0-for-5 shooting, 10 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 turnovers

In all, Rondo averaged 12.0 points on 51.2 percent shooting, 12.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 4.5 turnovers. Defensively, he allowed the other four to produce 11.8 points on 35.9 percent shooting, 8.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 5.0 turnovers.

The difference, though, went beyond the numbers. Rondo dictated the tempo against each of them on offense and disrupted the normal flow of his opponents’ games on defense. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Three-Pointer: Backup Bigs Boost C’s 11.02.10 at 10:43 pm ET
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Boston Celtics forward Jermaine O'Neal, left, talks with head coach Doc Rivers during their practice at NBA basketball training camp at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I. , Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers (right) got a solid effort against the Pistons out of an embattled Jermaine O'Neal. (AP)

With Kendrick Perkins sidelined until at least January with a knee injury and Shaquille O’Neal sitting with his own knee issues, all eyes were on Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erden.

And they responded.

Getting his first start of the season, Jermaine O’Neal totaled 12 points in 21 minutes during last night’s 109-86 win over the Detroit Pistons, despite dealing with a few nagging injuries that kept him out of Friday night’s game against the New York Knicks.

From the start, J.O. set an early tone with aggressive defense — blocking two first-quarter shots while also picking up a pair of fouls that kept him from completely getting into a rhythm.

As a result, O’Neal started slow offensively, but kept finding open spots. Eventually, his knack to find the right place was rewarded by Rajon Rondo at the right times — leading to a 5-of-8 shooting night.

In O’Neal’s absence, Erden also blocked a pair of Pistons attempts, picked up three rebounds and ran the floor for a wide-open dunk. The latter was a shining example of the energy the Turk played with throughout his 15 minutes on the floor.

Most importantly, Erden looked as though he belonged on an NBA floor.

The first-half play of Erden could be the best sign for the Celtics future, as he showed that the potential to spell both O’Neals — who, as we know, will need their share of spelling. That leaves Glen Davis to continue giving Kevin Garnett his rest, limiting minutes for all three veteran big men over the course of the 82-game season.

Of course, any excitement over the play of J.O. and Semih last night can be tempered by the fact that they played the Pistons, who by the looks of things should be one of the worst five teams in the league.

It’s important to note, too, that both bigs faded as the game went on. Erden did all of his damage in the first half, and O’Neal grabbed only two rebounds in his time on the floor. It’s no coincidence that Shaq’s absence led to the Celtics getting out-rebounded for the first time all season.

But it was a start — literally, a start in place of Perkins and Shaq. And any time the C’s can win without those two, it’s a good sign. After all, that’s what they’re here for.

WHAT IS RONDO’S CEILING?

In the last 28 seasons, only nine players have led the NBA in assists: John Stockton (9 seasons), Jason Kidd (5 seasons), Steve Nash (4 seasons), Magic Johnson (4 seasons), Chris Paul (2 seasons) Isaiah Thomas (once), Mark Jackson (once), Rod Strickland (once) and Andre Miller (once).

Of those nine players, only Stockton managed to average 12 assists or more. Through the first four games, Rondo has totaled 67 assists, and nobody in the history of the league has done that. He totaled 17 assists last night, and his average only moved from 16.5 to 16.8 per game.

Currently, only one other player in the NBA is averaging more than 10 assists, and that’s Kidd at 11.7. There’s no doubt that Rondo’s departure from the USA team and all the talk about who’s the best point guard in the league -Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose – lit a fire under the Celtics point guard.

And did anybody else notice Rondo’s pull-up, knock-down, 17-foot jumper in the first half? If he ever gets that going, there’s no telling how good he’ll be this season. I’m talking MVP consideration. Even without the scoring — just 10.8 points per game — he’s already the story of this NBA season (unless you count the off-the-court hype of the Miami Heat).

WANTED: DELONTE WEST

The Celtics got little to nothing from their backup guards behind Rondo and Ray Allen. The starting duo combined for 25 points and 20 assists. Von Wafer and Nate Robinson? They combined for a whopping four points in 27 minutes between them.

Marquis Daniels has really been the lone bright spot at guard from the bench. He totaled nine points and four rebounds, but Doc has used him mainly at the 3 in smaller lineups this season.

Simply based on their play, we should’ve known better than to think Danny Ainge might cut Delonte West after his reported scuffle with Wafer late last week. I’m sure Doc is counting the games until West can return to the lineup. He’s now served four games of the 10-game suspension.

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Jermaine O’Neal, Rajon Rondo and Tiger Woods 11.01.10 at 4:46 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Jermaine O’Neal admitted following practice on Monday that he’s been a disappointment so far, in part because of injuries that have affected his conditioning.

“It’s been challenging,” O’Neal said of his slew of injuries. “Obviously, the hamstring, the back a little bit, the wrist, now the knee so it’s been extremely disappointing for me so far. But obviously, trials and tribulations will make you stronger and you have to take that as you never can be successful if you don’t fail. So far, I haven’t been able do things out there that I want to do out there.”

The 31-year-old O’Neal, who practiced with the first team and will play on Tuesday in Detroit, was signed in early July to a two-year, $12 million deal. He played in the first two games, scoring just three points, before swelling in his left knee sidelined him for the game against the Knicks last Friday.

“I know the people that are happy about me aren’t happy quite yet with what they’ve seen but I can guarantee that before the year is over with, they’ll be really happy with my play and it’s just about finding ways of getting yourself going.”

Rajon Rondo, the Eastern Conference player of the Week for Week 1 after dishing 50 assists in three games, dressed up as Tiger Woods to win the team’s award for best Halloween costume on Sunday. “We did a little vote on it Rondo won for being Tiger Woods,” captain Paul Pierce said. As for the video of Shaquille O’Neal as Shaqeeta, his drag costume for Halloween that is making the rounds on the internet and local TV, “No, I haven’t seen it,” Pierce added. “I’ll have to check it out.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jermaine O'Neal, NBA, PGA Tour Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Semih Erden is ready for his closeup at 4:36 pm ET
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Semih Erden

Semih Erden

WALTHAM — Semih Erden was working in the post against Jermaine O’Neal during practice Monday. Erden started to his left, faked like he was going right and then finished back on the left side. It’s the kind of move he’s been pulling off with regularity since he joined the Celtics, but not the only one.

“He gave me a move in that open scrimmage the other day,” Shaquille O’Neal said. “Real nice move. That just tells me he has the potential to go at me whenever he wants to. With him, he’s going to have to get a rhythm out there with the guys. He’s young and he’s going to get his shot.”

Erden’s shot may be getting closer to becoming a reality because, as expected, the Celtics are about to go into a stretch of games without at least one of the O’Neals.

Shaq made the trip to Detroit and hasn’t been officially ruled out of Tuesday’s game, but after he missed practice for the second straight day with a shin injury, it’s not likely that he’ll play.

Jermaine O’Neal, on the other hand, looks like he will be able to go against the Pistons. That helps, but the Celtics need at least two big men against the Pistons large frontline and that means Erden will finally get a chance to show what he can do in a game situation.

“Yeah I’m ready,” Erden said responding to a question in English without the help of his translator. “I feel good. Every day I learn something. It’s good for me. I’m lucky.”

That tiny interaction is a major step forward for Erden who has the added pressure of not only being a rookie, but a rookie from Turkey who is being asked to assimilate the NBA game as well as a new language.

“He knows how to play,” Doc Rivers said. “He’s just trying to learn how to play our way. The language barrier is a problem, there’s no doubt about that. You just got to keep working on him. He’s going to be a good big in this league and he’s going to be a good big for a long time. What we don’t know is whether he’s a good enough big right now.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Shaq misses practice, status uncertain 10.31.10 at 4:42 pm ET
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Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O'Neal

WALTHAM — Shaquille O’Neal didn’t practice Sunday and his status for the week ahead is uncertain. He banged his fibula in a collision with Amar’e Stoudemire Friday late in the Celtics win over the Knicks and did not return. “I always have a freak injury,” O’Neal said Sunday. “We’ll be all right.”

O’Neal said that he hopes to practice Monday, but he may have to sit out for the next few days. The Celtics play at Detroit Tuesday and host the Bucks on Wednesday. The Celtics did get good news, however, when Jermaine O’Neal returned to practice.

“The O’Neal brothers are both banged up a little bit,” Doc Rivers said. “Jermaine actually practiced most of the practice. He went in and out, but he had a pretty good practice. Our fear, and it’s going to happen one day, [is] where we’re not going to have either one of the O’Neal brothers. That would be a concern for us. Right now, I think we’ll have Jermaine [Tuesday] and I don’t know about Shaq.”

If both can’t play, Rivers indicated that he would probably start Semih Erden, rather than Glen Davis because he prefers to have Davis come off the bench and backup the four and five spots in the rotation.

“He knows how to play,” Rivers said of Erden who has not seen any time yet this season. “He’s just trying to learn how to play our way. The language barrier is a problem, there’s no doubt about that. You just got to keep working on him. He’s going to be a good big in this league and he’s going to be a good big for a long time. What we don’t know is he a good enough big right now.”

As for Davis, who has averaged better than 14 points and five rebounds while playing almost as many minutes as the O’Neals have combined, Rivers explained his rationale: “When you start him, you really take away your options. Then if he gets into foul trouble you take away all his options. It would be either Semih or J.O.  Like I’ve told you guys for two years, when Baby gets outside of his role is when he struggles. When he stays within himself he’s an excellent basketball player.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Lucky Luke Harangody active for the 1st time 10.29.10 at 7:25 pm ET
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After two sluggish games to start the season, Jermaine O’Neal – playing with torn cartilage in his left wrist – is getting the night off against the New York Knicks. Rookie Luke Harangody is active for the first time this season in three games.

O’Neal was just 1-for-5 in the first two games, scoring just three points. Harangody, drafted in the second round (52nd overall) last June out of Notre Dame, was named to the AirTran Airways All-Summer League first team after averaging 16.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in July.

The Celtics will stick with the same starting lineup of Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Shaquille O’Neal, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett as they look to bounce back over .500 against New York.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jermaine O'Neal, Luke Harangody, NBA Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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