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Doc Rivers: ‘There is no rotation right now’ 12.31.10 at 2:54 pm ET
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The easy question for Doc Rivers and the Celtics is replacing Kevin Garnett in the starting lineup. That job will fall to Glen Davis, as expected. The harder part is figuring out what to do what to do when Rivers has to go to his bench. For the time being, that’s a game-by-game process.

Rivers can go big with Semih Erden and Jermaine O’Neal backing up Davis and Shaquille O’Neal. Or he can go small with Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels as forwards.

“We’€™re going to do both,” Rivers said before the Celtics took on the Hornets. “Again, for right now, there is no rotation. There’€™s the starters and then we’€™ll figure it out from there on. “The game will dictate that, foul trouble may dictate that. We just have to be ready as a staff.”

Rivers said he’s not a fan of going small, although circumstances and matchups may push him in that direction. Beyond the uncertainty, Rivers is also concerned that players may try to do too much without Garnett, and he’s not just talking about Davis. “That’€™s my biggest concern for everyone. Not just Glen, but everyone,” Rivers said. “That’€™s the human nature. We’€™re going to win games for this period of time with being a team. We’€™re not going to win any other way.”

Rivers also appealed for patience with Jermaine O’Neal, who is working his way back after missing 19 games with a knee injury. “It’€™s a tough time for Jermaine too,” the coach said. “Coming off the injury, he has to make sure he’€™s not trying to doo to much himself and we have to be careful with his minutes.”

But Rivers isn’t giving up on these games. The Celtics play 11 of their next 13 at home starting with this afternoon’s contest with the Hornets and he anticipated trying to make a big push during this stretch when the season started.

“Right now we are a game to game team, and that’€™s all we can be with all the injuries we have,” Rivers said. “But we have to be a game to game team that’€™s trying to win games.”

Read More: Glen Davis, Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett,
Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I think we’re in good shape’ with Kevin Garnett 12.30.10 at 9:47 am ET
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On his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show, Celtics coach Doc Rivers expressed optimism about the health of Kevin Garnett, but added that he will know more later Thursday after Garnett has an MRI. Garnett suffered a leg injury Wednesday night in the first quarter against the Pistons. There was no contact on the play, which fueled fears that Garnett had possibly re-injured his surgically-repaired right knee. The team thinks that the injury was related to a muscle, and not his knee, however.

“I can’t tell you much more than what you know already,” Rivers said. “He’s going to do more tests today. We do think it’s muscle-related. We don’t think it has anything to do with the knee, but we don’t know. So we’re going to wait and see.”

Rivers added, “I think we’re in good shape here, but you just never know. I’m just going to wait for the MRI. I should know by mid-afternoon.”

To hear the whole interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Garnett is still likely to miss some games. Rivers said that he expects to start Glen Davis in Garnett’s place and go with a combination of Marquis Daniels and Luke Harnagody in a rotation.

He is also looking for more from Jermaine O’Neal who has played the last three games after missing time with a knee injury. “We need him,” Rivers said. “He struggled against obviously Orlando, first game back. I thought Indiana in the second half he was terrific. I thought [against Detroit] he was one of the few bright spots. He played with great energy and did his job defensively.”

Rivers also said that Rajon Rondo continues to be day-to-day with his ankle injury and he may not be available Friday when the Celtics play the Hornets. “I don’t know if we’ll see him tomorrow or not but he’s getting close,” Rivers said. “Each time he’s worked out there’s been some swelling. That’s a concern. We’re going to take it slow. We’re not going to push him back, we’ll just wait until he’s ready to play.”

Here are more highlights from the conversation: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Doc Rivers, Glen Davis, Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett
Jermaine O’Neal ’50-50′ to play against Philadelphia 12.21.10 at 3:51 pm ET
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Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal went through his second practice with the team since he injured his knee in early November and said there was a chance he would be able to play Wednesday when the Celtics host the 76ers at TD Garden. “I’€™d say it’€™s a 50-50 chance,” O’Neal said. “At some point I’€™m going to play this week, whether it’€™s tomorrow or Christmas Day [against Orlando.]. I think I’€™m doable. I can help the team but for how long I don’€™t know.”

The issue for O’Neal is conditioning more than the knee injury, which he said has improved.

“My body’€™s going to be a little sore because I’€™ve been out for a month and a half,” he said. “There’€™s a difference between soreness and pain and right now I’€™m just a little sore. This is who I am right now. This is what God has given me. You deal with it and you move forward.”

Read More: Jermaine O'Neal,
Irish Coffee: Celtics are ‘Best of the Best’ 12.20.10 at 12:03 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

In somewhat of a footnote in his most recent Sports Illustrated column, Ian Thomsen listed the records of NBA teams against oppoenents with a .500 record or better. You’ll never guess which team ranked atop the list.

Every day, people are coming up with new ways to capture how impressive the 2010-11 Celtics have been despite injuries that are piling up faster than my Christmas shopping list.

But the fact that the Celtics are 10-2 against above-.500 teams while no other Eastern Conference club has a winning record against those same squads might tell us all we need to know about the C’s chances of returning to the NBA Finals.

Against the best, the Celtics have been the best.

Only three teams in the entire league own a winning record against plus-.500 teams: the Celtics (10-2), Spurs (8-2) and Mavericks (9-3). Three others — the Thunder, Nuggets and Jazz — have .500 records against teams with winning records.

Considering the Spurs and Mavericks have been relatively healthy this season, what the Celtics have been able to accomplish is remarkable, as Rajon Rondo, Shaquille O’Neal, Delonte WestJermaine O’Neal and Kendrick Perkins have missed a combined 81 games already.

The Celtics’ biggest competitors in the East — the Heat (5-6), Magic (3-6) and Bulls (4-8) — have all been disappointing against above-.500 teams, as have the Knicks (3-5) and Hawks (2-7). In fact, 10 teams have two wins or fewer against opponents with a .500 record or better, including the Lakers, who are 1-3 in just four games against quality opponents this season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Antoine Walker, Boston Celtics, Jermaine O'Neal, Nate Robinson
Delonte West has surgery on broken wrist 11.30.10 at 1:28 pm ET
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Celtics guard Delonte West underwent surgery to repair a displaced right wrist fracture Tuesday morning at the New England Baptist Hospital, the team announced. The surgery was performed by Dr. Drew Terrono and Dr. Hervey Kimball and assisted by Celtics Team Physician Dr. Brian McKeon and was deemed successful by the team.

There is no immediate update on when West may be able to return to the Celtics who are now missing both he and Kendrick Perkins (knee surgery) for a significant period of time. Center Jermaine O’Neal is also out at least through this week although there is no update on when he will be back either.

The Celtics have said they won’t make a move to replace West and will rely on Von Wafer and rookie guard Avery Bradley to fill in the gap.

Read More: Delonte West, Jermaine O'Neal, Kendrick Perkins, Von Wafer
Jermaine O’Neal out indefinitely 11.15.10 at 4:45 pm ET
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The Celtics don’t know how long Jermaine O’Neal will be out with his knee injury, but it will be measured in weeks, not days. “Two, three weeks would be a guestimate,” Doc Rivers said Monday. “We don’€™t know exactly. We’€™re going through a couple of more evaluations.”

O’Neal sought a second opinion in Miami on his injured left knee and didn’t travel with the team to Memphis for the last game on their road trip. Rivers said he hasn’t “heard the word ‘surgery,'” yet, but there’s still no real timetable on O’Neal’s return.

Shaquille O’Neal returned to the Celtics lineup and for now he and Semih Erden are playing 30-32 minutes a night in the post, while Glen Davis takes up the rest of the minutes. It’s not perfect, but the Celtics are hanging on for now with the arrangement.

“Semih and Shaq are playing through whatever they’€™re playing through,” Rivers said. “Semih’€™s shoulder and Shaq’€™s everything, really. It’€™s a concern but there’€™s nothing we can do about it. We’€™re not going to go out and get anyone else. There are not a lot of really good 7-footers walking the earth that are not signed in the NBA, so we just have to make do.”

The Celtics may also be without Marquis Daniels who missed practice and isn’t expected back Tuesday with what Rivers called a family issue. There is some doubt as to whether Daniels will be with the team Wednesday when they play the Wizards.

Read More: Jermaine O'Neal, Semih Erden, Shaquille O'Neal,
Irish Coffee: Shaq doing best Perk impression at 10:30 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Off the court, Shaquille O’Neal has been everything Celtics fans could’ve expected — and more. Sunday’s trip as Shaq-A-Claus to Toys-R-Us in Framingham and his performance of “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” at Cheers in downtown Boston are just two examples.

On the court? Forget Shaqeeta. O’Neal’s best impression has been of Kendrick Perkins. Shaq has been as good a replacement for the injured Perkins as the Celtics could’ve found.

Through 10 games, the C’s (8-2) are exactly where they were with Perkins in 2009-10. Defensively, with Perkins in the lineup, the 2009-10 Celtics ranked fifth in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions (103.8); this fall, they rank sixth (101.7). With Perk in ’09-10, the C’s ranked 25th in rebounding differential (-1.5); this season, they’re 16th (+0.3).

Sure, some of that success can be attributed to Kevin Garnett‘s health, but Shaq should get some credit, too, as a worthy replacement for Perkins in five starts so far this season.

Take a look at the 2010-11 per-minute averages for Shaq vs. Perk’s numbers in 2009-10 (bolded statistics indicate an advantage) …

  • ’10-11 SHAQ: 0.46 points, 0.27 rebounds, 0.03 assists, 0.02 blocks, 0.02 steals, 0.09 turnovers and 0.18 personal fouls
  • ’09-10 PERK: 0.37 points, 0.28 rebounds, 0.04 assists, 0.06 blocks, 0.01 steals, 0.08 turnovers and 0.10 personal fouls

However, Shaq has not been capable of matching Perkins’ minutes. Shaq has averaged 21.2 minutes in his five starts this season — 76.8 percent of the 27.6 minutes per game Perk played last year. Even playing 6.4 fewer minutes per game, Shaq has been able to produce a solid Perkins impersonation, as evidenced by their per-game averages …

  • ’10-11 SHAQ: 9.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.4 steals, 1.8 turnovers and 3.8 personal fouls
  • ’09-10 PERK: 10.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.7 blocks, 0.3 steals, 2.1 turnovers and 2.8 personal fouls

Essentially, because Shaq has played so well, when he plays the C’s only need to make up 6.4 minutes of Perkins’ production at the center spot in order to provide some semblance of the starting five that has reached the NBA Finals in two of the last three seasons. It’s safe to say that in spurts Glen Davis, Semih Erden and Jermaine O’Neal have been able to pick up that slack.

So far, at least, the Celtics have not missed Perkins, especially when Shaq has started in his place. That means two things for the Celtics going forward: 1) If Shaq remains healthy — and that’s a big if — it will allow Perkins to take his time regaining full strength; and 2) With both Shaq and Perk, the C’s could be a better team than the one that reached the 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals.

JERMAINE O’NEAL & PERKINS SHARE THE LOVE

Prior to Jermaine O’Neal’s arrival in Boston, he and Perkins weren’t exactly best buddies. However, the moment they became teammates, any beef between them fell by the wayside. Jessica Camerato detailed their relationship this season …

“I just wanted to let him know it’s on the court, it’s not outside of that,” explained Perkins. “I’m a great teammate, but when you’re on the other team, I’m really going at your head. But I wanted to show him there isn’t any tension outside of basketball, no beef or nothing, and just kind of welcome him with open arms.”

I especially enjoyed Doc Rivers‘ take, which explains in part how quickly the C’s have been able to incorporate new bodies into a championship-contending system …

“We don’t like anybody on the other team,” Rivers said. “The outside guy is always a little iffy when he comes to our team, especially if we’ve had it in with him. But then they find out, wow this is the greatest group. They get along great. So that’s what’s happened already. … Once you’re on our team, you’re part of our group.”

As Shaq said in the same article, “Here there’s just one language — win, win, win, championship, championship, championship. And that’s all that we talk about.”

2010-11 HEAT CAN’T MIRROR ’07-08 CELTICS

While the Celtics have seamlessly incorporated new talent into an already existing system, the Miami Heat has struggled to establish a new system with all their new talent. In a Miami Herald piece, Rivers compared the Heat’s task with the one he faced three seasons ago …

“It’s the exact same thing, and I think everyone goes through it to some extent,” said Rivers, who added that this year’s Celtics are experiencing similar problems. “The more guys you add — the more key guys you add — the first year for us, our Big 3 were in each other’s way at times early because no one wanted to do too much.”

Rivers said he had to have “a big summit early in the year” to explain everyone’s role on the team. [Kevin] Garnett was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year that season.

“Kevin was so key to us — and in some ways, [Chris] Bosh is doing the same things — but Kevin can take 20 shots or one shot and it won’t affect his day at all,” Rivers said.

“He’s unselfish to a fault at times.”

Rivers said the 2007-08 championship team began the season with a slightly different dynamic than the Heat because the Celtics’ stars were older and “they were at the point in their careers where they had to solidify their careers and that made it easier for me.”

I think Rivers was being kind when he said Bosh is doing the same things this season as KG did in 2007-08. There’s simply no way Bosh is going to be the Defensive Player of the Year this season.

In his weekly mailbag, Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen took on the same issue. In his eyes, the C’s two straight victories over the Heat this season should help the Big Three forego their egos in favor of the unselfishness that allowed the Celtics to thrive three years ago …

This isn’t about improving their skills; it’s about deepening their wisdom. When Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen united in Boston, they understood intuitively the demands of coach Doc Rivers to alter their games in order to fit together, because each of them had gone year after year after year of losing in the playoffs. They were all in their 30s and they were ready to change.

But these players in Miami haven’t been humbled enough in their previous careers — if they had been forced to accept that humility, they never would have gone upon that stage and behaved so naively last July.

DOC NOT A FAN OF TWITTER

Speaking of the spectacle that was Miami’s Big Three this offseason, Rivers commented on Pierce’s “It’s been a pleasure to bring my talents to South Beach” tweet following the C’s victory this past Thursday night …

“I didn’t get laughs out of that stuff; I really don’t like that stuff,” said Rivers. “I don’t care one way or another but I don’t think you need to say anything. It’s a long season. It’s a good (dig) but I’m not a fan of all that stuff.”

I like how Rivers says he didn’t like it, and then says it’s a good dig. He may not be encouraging it, but he’s certainly not discouraging it, either.

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

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jermaine O'Neal, Kendrick Perkins, NBA
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