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Fast break: Celtics suffer letdown against Cavaliers 10.27.10 at 9:54 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett dunks in the first half against Cleveland, but the Celtics fell short. (AP)

Kevin Garnett dunks in the first half against Cleveland, but the Celtics fell short. (AP)

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.

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Kendrick Perkins eyes late January return 10.26.10 at 7:25 pm ET
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If Kendrick Perkins had a choice he would have tried to play opening night, but it’s not his call and so he is resigned to making the most out of his current situation while he rehabs from knee surgery. Perkins is down 10 pounds to 271 (he’d like to lose 10 more) and has made it a goal to make 300 free throws every day. He doesn’t know a firm date yet for his return, but he said his goal is to be back by late January.

Perkins has been working to strengthen the muscles around his knee with squats and other leg exercises. He said his rehab was more of a mental test than anything. “It depends what kind of person you are,” Perkins said. “If you’re a mentally strong person, you can get through it.”

Perkins also said that he wasn’t threatened by the presence of Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal. “I can’t bring what they bring to the table and they can’t bring what I bring to the table,” he said.

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Jermaine O’Neal has torn cartilage in left wrist 10.22.10 at 4:26 pm ET
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Jermaine O'Neal. (AP Image)

Jermaine O'Neal (AP)

It happened in the first quarter of a preseason game last Friday in Toronto. Jermaine O’Neal went to take a charge and the impact left him with torn cartilage in his left wrist. His latest injury has kept him out of practice and preseason games for the past week, but after going through a full workout Friday, O’Neal said he would be ready to play Tuesday when the Celtics open up the regular season against his former team, the Miami Heat.

“I feel good,” he said. “Felt pretty good today. I got a little wrap that keeps it safe. I’m not worried about it.”

O’Neal previously missed a week of camp because of a hamstring injury and, earlier this week, Doc Rivers termed this latest setback, “disappointing.”

“He has not had the preseason that we would have liked him to have so far,” Rivers said Tuesday. “Sometimes you can’t avoid it.”

While he has missed time, O’Neal seems to have been passed by the other O’Neal, Shaq, in the competition for the starting center spot. But Jermaine O’Neal isn’t worried about that aspect.

“We don’t compete for the starting time,” he said. “We challenge each other just like everybody else challenges each other. It’s not about who’s starting, who’s coming off the bench, it’s about making each other better and getting ready for the game.”

Jermaine O’Neal said that he and Shaq have had long conversations about their roles, but not about who starts. They know that it will be an adjustment for them, but they both have stressed that they are ready for it.

“We don’t talk about anything else,” Jermaine O’Neal said. “We don’t talk about who starts. There’s no animosity. We understand that we’re going to need everybody to win a championship this year. There’s going to be times where I play well. There’s going to be times where he plays well. The key is picking each other up when we need each other. That’s all we worry about. Everything else is going to play itself out.”

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Doc Rivers gets good news after biopsy 10.19.10 at 8:15 pm ET
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Doc Rivers got good news after a biopsy to check for a cancerous lesion. (AP)

Doc Rivers got good news after a biopsy to check for a cancerous lesion. (AP)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers underwent a biopsy Sunday morning at Massachusetts General Hospital after his doctor found a spot on his throat three weeks ago. The good news for the coach is that the results came back clean.

“They found cancerous lesions,” Rivers said after the team conducted an open practice for season ticket holders at TD Garden. “They had to make sure there was nothing there, and there was nothing, so I’m good. I’m going to be around for a while it looks like.”

Rivers said that he has his throat checked every year after prompting from former Celtics coach Jim O’Brien. “I think most coaches should because we yell, use our throat a lot,” Rivers said. “That makes you more susceptible to it. I’m glad I did it now.”

The Celtics had said that Rivers had a “minor throat procedure” done to relieve pressure on his vocal chords. He was not at practice Monday, but returned to the team Tuesday night. Assistant coach Lawrence Frank did most of the on-court coaching while Rivers watched from the sidelines.

“I like Lawrence as my megaphone,” Rivers joked.

Rivers is expected to coach the team Wednesday night when the Celtics play the Nets in their final preseason game at the Garden.

FINAL ROSTER MOVE COMING

Rivers said the team would probably make its final roster decision after Wednesday’s game. There is only one roster spot up for grabs and the competition is mostly between Von Wafer and Stephane Lasme. Veteran Mario West is also in the mix.

“It’s between a couple of guys,” Rivers said. “You can figure it out.”

On Wafer, Rivers said, “He’s been more aggressive offensively. He still has to buy in defensively, and into our culture. I think he’ll do that. He’s getting better.”

The Celtics also added Tiny Gallon, a second-round pick from Oklahoma who was recently waived by the Bucks to a non-guaranteed deal.

“I know nothing about him honestly,” Rivers said. “I know Danny [Ainge] is going to look at him. I think he’s doing it more for that.”

INJURIES

Delonte West said he is getting better, but he won’t play Wednesday night. West will not be eligible to play in a game until Nov. 17 against Washington after he serves his 10-game NBA suspension.

Jermaine O’Neal also won’t play. He did not participate in practice Tuesday and he is battling a number of injuries.”That’s rest, that’s injury, that’s disappointing, to be honest,” Rivers said.  “He has not had the preseason that we would have liked him to have so far, sometimes you can’t avoid it.”

SHEED CHECKS IN

The Celtics got a visit from Rasheed Wallace who watched practice from the sidelines and chatted up Kendrick Perkins while Perkins rode a stationary bike. The crowd of season ticket holders and sponsors gave him a “Sheeeeed” call for old time’s sake.

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Jermaine O’Neal loves the Celtics 10.14.10 at 1:04 pm ET
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Boston Celtics' Jermaine O'Neal, left, blocks a shot by Toronto Raptors' Amir Johnson (15) next to Celtics' Glen Davis, right, in the first quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010, in Boston.

Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal can't stop praising his new team. (AP)

In a conversation with SLAM Online‘s Russ Bengtson prior to last night’s game against the Knicks, Jermaine O’Neal continued to heap praise on his new team:

  • “It’s hard to explain the chemistry that we have. I always try to picture words to express the feeling that I have about being here. You know, obviously the rich tradition of championships and all the guys that’ve played in this uniform. It’s definitely an honor and a pleasure to be involved in something like this.”
  • “Most teams you’re on you’re gonna dominate the guy that’s backing you up or the guy that you share time with. But here it’s like, OK, let me get stretched. Let me make sure I’m ready to go when Doc says let’s go.”
  • “Everything that I’ve pictured it would be, it’s been that way. But it’s been probably five times better. You look at the point in my career where the chapter’s coming to a close, and if I had to pick a group of guys to close it with, this is it right here.”
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Technically speaking, Celtics need to adjust at 9:58 am ET
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Kendrick Perkins discusses a technical foul with the referees during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals in Orlando. (AP)

Kendrick Perkins discusses a technical foul with the referees during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals in Orlando. (AP)

Kevin Garnett picked up two technical fouls in a matter of seconds Wednesday night and was ejected before the end of the first half in the Celtics exhibition game with the Knicks. Moments earlier, Jermaine O’Neal picked up his own technical foul. According to O’Neal, he was trying to get a clarification on an offensive foul that had been whistled against him.

The Knicks’ Timofey Mozgov got one later for saying something in Russian.

The Celtics have racked up nine technicals in five preseason games under the NBA’s new harsher guidelines for issuing technicals. Among the areas of emphasis as spelled out by True Hoop:

• Players making aggressive gestures, such as air punches, anywhere on the court.

• Demonstrative disagreement, such as when a player incredulously raises his hands, or smacks his own arm to demonstrate how he was fouled.

• Running directly at an official to complain about a call.

• Excessive inquiries about a call, even in a civilized tone.

Additionally, the NBA has also doubled the amount of fines for getting T’s. It will now cost players and coaches $2,000 for each of the first five, $3,000 each for the next five, $4,000 each for 11-15 and $5,000 for any above 15 and players are also subject to a one-game suspension for every two over 15 technicals.

The NBA stopped short of calling this new stricter enforcement the Rasheed Wallace Rule, but they may have had him and Kendrick Perkins in mind. The Celtics have been the NBA’s most T’d up team two years running. (The number of technicals actually went down last season with Sheed).

2009-10: 107 (First)

2008-09: 117 (First)

2007-08: 97 (Second, Indiana was first)

The year before Garnett joined the Celtics, they ranked 22nd with 65 technicals. That’s not all on Garnett obviously, but with his addition the Celtics became an attacking, nasty, defensive-minded team. The T’s naturally followed from there.

The NBA tried to crackdown on players in 2006-07 and it didn’t take, so there is a natural inclination to believe that the new stricter guidelines won’t last this time either. There have been minor flare-ups around the league this preseason, but Wednesday night’s action may be the tipping point because it involved a player of Garnett’s stature and it happened in New York with the eyes of the basketball media watching.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski sliced and diced the league this morning.

It’s safe to assume that there will be much discussion about the new technical rules before the start of the regular season, but it’s hard to imagine the NBA will back down, at least not publicly. The league has been holding off the record seminars before preseason games with reporters to discuss the new rules, but issuing technicals is still, and always has been, a subjective matter.

To that end, Doc Rivers told reporters Wednesday night that his team would simply have to adjust. “Listen,” Rivers said. “The rules are the rules and we have to have more discipline.”

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Irish Coffee: Tommy Point Taken at 9:32 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

My biggest concern about the new technical foul rule that got Kevin Garnett ejected last night for laughing (GASP!!!)? Tommy Heinsohn‘s health. I mean, it’s only the preseason, and he almost blew a gasket. Only Tommy could sum up the rule so succinctly: “NBA: It’s Stupid!”

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski challenged the league’s stars — and therefore the biggest draws (cha-ching!) — to dare the refs to eject them from regular-season games. Fans won’t be too happy if they pay big bucks for the Celtics-Heat showdown on opening night (tickets are going for as much as $8,950), and LeBron James or KG are tossed a few minutes into the game.

Even before Jermaine O’Neal got a second tech in as many nights for (barely) reacting to a whistle last night, he expressed his concern over the stricter rules to Wojnarowski:

“These new rules are very, very excessive. They’re telling us the general public says we whine too much, but look at the way the NBA’s business is growing globally. I can see both sides of this. No one wants to see complaining over every call, but look at the rules. You can’t even make a hand gesture – never mind say anything. It’s going to be interesting to see the first two weeks of the season and how all this slows the pace.

“The message we’re getting is that this is about cleaning up the perceptions of the NBA. We never really know the reasons. We’re just a product out there that gets the memos.”

Just what the NBA needs: Referees with more power.

SHAQ’S WORD OF THE DAY: ‘PAU GASOLISH’

Video killed the radio star, and Shaquille O’Neal killed the true center. The New York media crowded around Shaq last night in hopes of getting a few precious gems from The Big Shamrock. And they obviously got them.

“I think I killed off all the centers, and now all the centers want to play the European-style basketball. There’s only 1.5 or 2 real centers left, Dwight Howard and Yao Ming. Every now and then Yao Ming steps outside and wants to shoot jumpers, but it’s gone more toward the European style. The days of Patrick Ewing and Rik Smits and Kevin Duckworth and Robert Parish, those days are over, thanks to me.”

“I’ve never lost a series to a guy shooting jumpers — besides Pau [Gasol], but Pau has a couple of extra weapons with him. There hasn’t been a center that has won shooting jumpers. Pau is 60-40 — 60 inside and 40 shooting jumpers. So I think the centers are getting a little more Pau Gasolish.”

Shaq also reiterated his team goal (a 5th ring) and revealed his individual goal: passing Wilt Chamberlain in scoring. He trails Wilt by 3,164 points, so he’d have to average 19.3 points, playing all 82 games in each of the two seasons on his contract. The C’s can only hope.

Vin Diesel made GQ's list of most powerful bald men. Have they seen his last 10 movies? (AP)

AMERICA’S MOST WANTED … BALD MEN

KG and Shaq both made GQ Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Powerful Bald Men in America. Whoever made the list demonstrated their vast knowledge of NBA history by calling KG a three-time MVP, even though he only won one (in 2004).

Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley and Jeff Van Gundy also made the list. If those four took a picture together, I’m not sure I could pick Van Gundy out of the lineup.

Wait a second, Vin Diesel made the list, and I didn’t? I’ve been rocking the bald look as a white guy since my hairline started running away from my face in college. A little respect.

VON WAFER WANTS MORE

Von Wafer is in jeopardy of failing to make the Celtics roster, but that’s not stopping him. According to SLAM Magazine, he not only wants a roster spot; he wants playing time: “I’m not just trying to make it; I’m trying to play, too. Just making it is not enough for me.”

That might be a tall order for an offense-first scorer who isn’t scoring … unless the C’s suffer six injuries at the guard spot.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

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