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Celtics look to come back for one more run 05.12.11 at 1:53 am ET
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Doc Rivers (AP)

MIAMI — It was surprising if only for the timing, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers said after his team had been eliminated by Miami that he was , “leaning heavily toward coming back,” next season.

Rivers contract is up and there has been speculation that he would take a year off to watch his son Austin play at Duke. But Rivers said that he had more or less decided to return during the last two weeks.

“I haven’t made that decision, but I can tell you I probably will [come back],” Rivers said. “I’m a Celtic and I love our guys. I want to win again here and I’m competitive as hell. I can tell you that is where I am at today. Tomorrow I may change my mind, but that’s where I’m at today.”

Unlike last season when several of their key players were unsigned, Rivers is the biggest domino for the Celtics this offseason and reaction in the locker room was overwhelmingly positive.

“I want to put this on the record, Doc already committed to me and said he was coming back so he can’t go back against his word,” Rajon Rondo said. Asked what his career would be like without Rivers, Rondo said, “I don’t even want to imagine. I really want him to come back.”

With Rivers seemingly on board, other pieces began to fall into place as well. Ray Allen, who has a player option for next season, also declared his intentions to return. “This has been my team,” he said. “I have been full steam ahead with this team. I don’t have any plans to go anywhere else.”

With Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett already under contract, the Celtics core looks like they will come back for one more run. Center Jermaine O’Neal also has a year left and he said that he felt his body would allow him to come back for one more season. “If you ask me do I think I have another year in me, yeah, I do,” he said.

The Celtics will have some decisions to make. Glen Davis is an unrestricted free agent and he may have played, and talked, his way out of Boston after an uneven playoff performance.

“You can’t just base it on just the playoffs,” Davis said. “My whole body of work I feel like I can play in this league. I can start in this league. My second year when Kevin went down my third year playing in the playoffs and this year was my best year. I just didn’t play well in the playoffs this year. Things happen like that. I don’t think this playoffs is going to hurt me as much.”

Asked if he wanted to stay, Davis said, “I have given thought about that. I love Boston and I plan on wishing I can stay. But you never know like [Kendrick Perkins] situation. He was here for eight years he wanted to stay but it just might not work my way. It’s just how it is.”

He continued, “I want to be a player in this league. I feel like I have a lot more to offer. I want to show the world my talent.”

Jeff Green is a restricted free agent, meaning the team can match any offer he receives. “There’s a lot to my game that people haven’t seen,” he said. “There’s a lot I can bring to this team.”

Delonte West and Nenad Krstic are also free agents, as are Von Wafer, Sasha Pavlovic, Carlos Arroyo and Troy Murphy. The Celtics would undoubtedly like to bring West back. Despite his struggles, Krstic does have value as big men with his experience are hard to find. The future is less certain for the other four.

Avery Bradley is also under contract and this will be a big summer for him as he tries to carve out a niche for next season. The Celtics love his talent, but he received only scarce playing time.

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Jeff Van Gundy on D&C: Jermaine O’Neal ‘a decisive force’ 05.09.11 at 9:28 am ET
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Jeff Van Gundy

ABC NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Celtics-Heat series. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Rajon Rondo‘s health was the primary topic of discussion, as everyone waits to see how the point guard will respond two days after dislocating his left elbow during the Celtics’ Game 3 victory. If Rondo plays, Van Gundy said the Heat assuredly will test him right away.

“Obviously, Miami has time to adjust and adapt and really send him left on every penetration,” Van Gundy said. “I’d pick up him up full court and see if he can advance the ball with his left hand. Because you can’t take it easy on someone with an injury. So, the adrenaline rush from the other night — and it truly was a heroic thing he did — whether it can carry over to another night, I’m not sure.”

Added Van Gundy: “I think it all depends on who you are, your competitive spirit and personality, your level of speed and quickness to be able to get back to that dominant hand. And obviously, Rondo has all of those. Now, I think it will impact him shooting, because you need your left hand to help you get the ball up into the shooting position. And I would suspect they may leave him more open than they normally do.”

If Rondo can’t be productive, Van Gundy noted that the Celtics have other options. “Delonte West — he’s not a setup-type point guard, he’s not a create shots for others-type point guard, but he can play effectively,” Van Gundy said. “I thought he had a good game in Game 3.

“They’re going to have play a really good game again tonight, and it will be interesting to see if they can regenerate that same intensity and energy and enthusiasm.”

On the subject of the ailing Shaquille O’Neal, Van Gundy said: “I felt badly for O’Neal in the last game. … I found [it] tough to watch, actually. I give him a lot of credit for going out there and not worrying about how he was looking but giving of himself for the betterment of the team, whatever he could provide. And he is still a force when it comes to having to block him out on the offensive boards.”

Van Gundy said Shaq’s return overshadowed a solid performance by the Celtics’ starting center. “If you looked at Jermaine O’Neal — which is the ONeal that everyone should have been talking about after that game — that guy, he put his heart into that game,” Van Gundy said. “He blocked shots, he took charges. I thought Jermaine O’Neal was absolutely a decisive force in Game 3. But they have to keep doing it to have a chance. It can’t just be a one-game hit.”

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Irish Coffee: Kevin Garnett just doing his job 04.26.11 at 11:44 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

During the Celtics’ two days of rest before Wednesday’s practice, Kevin Garnett got a chance to contribute to his Anta blog, focusing on Games 3 and 4 of the Knicks sweep. Here are the highlights …

Yo yo yo! We’re moving on! Great energy [Sunday] afternoon!  Happy Easter to anyone who celebrates it! We needed to get this game, so we could have a couple of days to get our rest! With Miami losing, we don’t play until at least Sunday. Doc gave us two days off, so practice on Wednesday! Lots of treatment, recovery and catching up with video games.

The team played awesome! We got up early and started executing better. Baby [Glen Davis] and JO [Jermaine O'Neal] tightened down our defense, and Rondo made our offense go. Setting picks for the guys is my job, and as Doc says, “DO YOUR JOB!” Good picks get good shots for Ray [Allen] and P2 [Paul Pierce]. Friday’s game they went off!!!! Yesterday, the Knicks tried to stop them, which got me looks. I was able to make shots and get rebounds. Didn’t even realize that I had 20-plus points. Team win is the only thing that matters.

That’s by far the most praise Garnett has heaped on his team’s execution, especially on the defensive end — a good sign for Round 2. It’s also nice to see Doc Rivers borrowing the “do your job” line from Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Always loved that.

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Adrian Wojnarowski on M&M: Leaving C’s would be difficult for Doc Rivers 04.25.11 at 2:43 pm ET
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Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday afternoon to discuss the NBA playoffs and other Celtics items of interest. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Rajon Rondo put up huge numbers in the C’s first-round series sweep of the Knicks, and Wojnarowski said the point guard will again be tough for Boston’s opponent to handle in Round 2. “He’s Miami’s most difficult matchup,” Wojnarowski said. “They don’t have a guy to deal with him.”

The Heat, who need one more win to close out the 76ers, also appear to be at a disadvantage vs. the Celtics when it comes to bench play. “The question marks around Miami’s bench continue to be immense,” Wojnarowski said. “Mike Miller, who they had signed to be a key part of that team, he’s got issues with both thumbs. He can’t shoot the ball. And so, his minutes have diminished. They’re getting less and less from that bench. That’s why they thought about signing Eddy Curry. That’s the level of desperation they had with that group there. That’s where Boston’s supposed to have the advantage here.”

If Shaquille O’Neal can return and give the C’s some quality minutes to complement Jermaine O’Neal, that would give Boston another advantage. “We’ll see what happens with Shaq, if he comes back,” Wojnarowski said. “Because Jermaine O’Neal really established himself as a big part of this Celtics postseason run with the way he played. He probably won Game 2 for Boston. I think Doc said he did, and I agree with him. His ability to defend the rim and block shots. Now, if Shaq comes back — maybe Shaq comes off the bench, maybe Shaq starts — but Boston’s bench has shown some signs in that New York series of playing better.”

Added Wojnarowski: “Doc said it all along: They had to have one of the O’Neals play. And Jermaine has played better. He exceeded my expectations. … You saw him defending, rebounding and just his movement around the floor and getting out, really being a lot of places, his rotation on defense, getting back, showing on the pick and roll and then getting back and protecting the rim. He brings a very high basketball IQ. He’s a smart guy, a veteran guy. And I thought he played great in that series and was the difference for Boston.

“But listen, Shaq still commands a double team in the post offensively. He still can rebound the ball. He can’t move like Jermaine can and defend all over the floor defensively the way Jermaine has showed himself to do. But there’s still things that Shaq brings to them that are going to help them, not just against Miami.

“You know, it’s funny: They don’t need him against Miami in terms of, Miami doesn’t have great size. But what it is is, he gives you an advantage. He gives you an edge where they have trouble matching up, and guys still have to foul him or double him. And so, while you don’t need him to match up with one of their guys, you say, ‘Hey, we have an advantage with him playing.’ So, that’s why you want him to play.”

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Shaq shows up at shootaround 04.22.11 at 3:24 pm ET
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Shaquille O'Neal

When the curtain was parted at Madison Square Garden a large familiar face was on the court. Shaquille O’Neal was dressed in workout clothes with the rest of the Celtics. He won’t play in Game 3 Friday night and he’s doubtful for Game 4, but his presence was an indication that he is getting closer to returning to the lineup.

“He’s not ready to play yet,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “But the fact that he’s feeling better and he’s getting closer, you just bring him on the road.”

Shaq talked briefly as he made his way off the court saying he’s “just trying to get back.”

Rivers maintains that the team isn’t holding him back for any other reason than he’s just not ready to play yet. “I’m worried about getting him right and healthy,” Rivers said. “There’s no strategic gameplan for not playing him. There’s a medical gameplan for not playing him. Once he can play he can play.”

Asked if the Shaq situation was becoming a distraction, Rivers said, “Our guys don’t care.”

As for the other O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal injured his left wrist in Game 2 when he fell awkwardly after taking a charge. He wore a brace for the last two days to prevent any further damage, but said that the swelling had gone down and that he would probably play without the brace Friday night.

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Biggest bonehead play of Celtics season? 04.12.11 at 2:54 pm ET
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Because Von Wafer provided us with perhaps the most boneheaded play of the entire Celtics season — which, when you think about it, cost the Celtics the game and an outside shot at the No. 2 seed – I’d be remiss if I didn’t include video of such an historic event on Green Street …

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Fast Break: Celtics lose No. 2 seed, Delonte West 04.11.11 at 10:19 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers rested the Big Four to keep them healthy for the playoffs, Delonte West re-injured his right ankle and the Celtics officially dropped to the No. 3 seed in the playoffs after an ugly 95-94 overtime road loss to the Wizards on Monday.

When Wizards center JaVale McGee trampled West at midcourt in the third quarter, the Celtics guard sprained his right ankle again and did not return after producing 11 points and five assists in 23 minutes. Meanwhile, the Celtics (55-26) clinched the No. 3 seed and will face the Knicks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Resting the starters: Despite owning an identical record to the Lakers and trailing the Heat by one game for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, Celtics coach Doc Rivers elected to start a lineup of Delonte West, Von Wafer, Jeff Green, Glen Davis and Jermaine O’Neal. Rivers said the value of physical and — more importantly — mental rest outweighed foregoing rest to play for potential homecourt advantages against the Lakers and Heat.

Delonte West re-injuring his ankle: West missed 57 of the team’s first 80 games with a 10-game suspension, a broken right wrist and a right ankle sprain that he initially suffered during a late February practice. And now it appears as if he’s going to miss at least one more, as he left Monday night’s game against the Wizards in the third quarter after spraining his right ankle again when McGee ran him over at midcourt. Even after initially returning on March 16, West admitted he had a chipped bone in that same right ankle, which could signal a dependency on Carlos Arroyo at the backup point guard position.

Not so sweet 16-point run: After taking an early 11-point lead in the first quarter, the Celtics gave up a 16-0 run that spanned 5:25 between the first and second quarters while delivering a 28-23 lead to the Wizards. For the most part, Nenad Krstic‘s presence coincided with that run. The C’s led 12-3 when Krstic entered for O’Neal and trailed 25-23 when O’Neal subbed back in. Once Krstic exited, the Celtics finished the first half on a 21-14 run, taking a 44-37 lead into the break and making it a game for the remainder of the night.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

A healthy Jermaine O’Neal: Because of Krstic’s inability to contribute defensively, Rivers was forced to play Jermaine O’Neal more minutes than he had indicated he would prior to the game. And O’Neal responded. He nearly reached a double-double by hafltime and finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks in 36 minutes of action. He entered the game averaging 5.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 17.1 minutes a night.

Jeff Green’s monster night: Insterted back into a role he had become accustomed to with the Thunder, Green started and proved to be the best player on the court for either team. He totaled 20 points — albeit on 8-of-20 shooting — a season-high 15 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Prior to Monday night, Green hadn’t had a 20-point night since March 4 and had not reached double-digits rebounds in a Celtics uniform. The C’s can only hope that he can translate that effort into effectiveness off the bench moving forward.

Replacements starting well: Behind the aggressive play of Jermaine O’Neal, West and Green, the Celtics jumped out to a 23-12 lead. During that stretch, Green scored six points in the first 9:37, West assisted on four of the C’s first nine field goals and O’Neal grabbed four rebounds in his first-quarter minutes. Those four boards gave O’Neal more rebounds in  5:37 against the Wizards than he had totaled in his three previous games combined – against the Heat, Bulls and 76ers.

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