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Injury updates on Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West 01.07.11 at 7:27 pm ET
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The Celtics received some good news on the injury front Friday. Doc Rivers said Kevin Garnett would be back next week, possibly as early as Monday when they play the Rockets.

Kendrick Perkins announced that he was ready to return to practice next week, and said he was three weeks away from returning to game action. That could put him in line to play against the Lakers in late January. “It feels good,” Perkins said of his surgically-repaired knee. “I haven’t had any setbacks or swelling, which is weird.”

Perkins’ timetable was news to Rivers, but the coach has been been encouraged by reports of Perkins’ play in 3-on-3 games.

Then there is Delonte West who had his cast off earlier this week. He is still facing two weeks of rehabilitation on his wrist before he can return to the court. He is still looking at a February return. In the grand scheme of things West’s return may be even more important than Perkins because the Celtics are worried about the depth at point guard behind Rajon Rondo.

“The one thing we know that doesn’€™t work, it did record-wise, but it didn’€™t work I can guarantee you that, was the combination of [West] and Rondo out at the same time,” Rivers said. “It was not a good recipe for us, even though we won games, we can’€™t live that way long.”

Read More: Delonte West, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett,
Irish Coffee: It’s a shame about Clifford Ray 01.04.11 at 12:03 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Either Peter Vecsey doesn’t like the Celtics, or the Celtics didn’t like former assistant coach Clifford Ray, because Vecsey detailed a pretty bizarre set of circumstances he claims led to Ray’s departure.

Here’s the nuts and bolts of the New York Post story:

Two weeks before the season began, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, who kept assistant Clifford Ray on hold the whole summer, informed him his services would no longer be needed.

An agreement eventually was signed by Ray, who was pressured by team president Danny Ainge to sign by a certain date (without getting lawyers involved) or forget it. Ray, the 1974-75 champion Warriors’ starting center, received $100,000 to go away quietly, enough to keep him and his family (including a 13-year-old son) going for a year or so.

Additionally, the Celtics approved medical attention for Ray, specifically for an MRSA infection he contracted in his foot several years ago while working (hence, the boot he wore so long) in Boston’s contaminated practice facility; Paul Pierce and Delonte West also got sick.

Had Ray not been in Minnesota last summer and gone, at the urging of his girlfriend, to the Mayo Clinic, doctors told him he was within days of having his foot amputated.

Rivers told Boston reporters he had no room in back of the bench for Ray because newly hired first assistant Lawrence Frank‘s deal allowed him to enlist a friend.

True enough. But the real reason Ray wasn’t invited back is because Rivers didn’t think he was healthy enough to get out on the floor and coach. Like the infection was Ray’s fault. Like Rivers didn’t know Ray was ailing for years. Like he couldn’t have reached that conclusion last June so that Ray would’ve had ample time to find work elsewhere.

Pierce and West both missed games in 2006 with infections in their finger and toe, respectively. Pierce also missed two weeks last season with an infection in his knee. Whether or not any of those incidents are related to what Vescey described as a “contaminated practice facility” is unclear.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Clifford Ray, Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins
The latest on Kendrick Perkins return 12.21.10 at 3:44 pm ET
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For the first time since undergoing knee surgery, Kendrick Perkins was back on the court for a practice with his Celtics teammates. He went through the non-contact, or skeleton, phase of practice and participated in the team’s warmup and stretching drills. It was a small step for Perkins, but an important one.

“Perk looked good for what he did,” Doc Rivers said. “Actually dunked a couple of times today. He’€™s in great shape and he’€™s worked so hard, so that’€™s good.”

“I felt all right,” Perkins said. “My timing was a little bit off. I thought I did pretty well for my first time out.”

Perkins had an MRI last week, which went well, and he is scheduled to have another one in early January. He was fitted for a brace last week, which has allowed him to do more work on the court. Once he got the brace he went out and dunked, “Just to make sure I still can,” he joked. The plan is for him to continue with non-contact practices for the next few weeks and then he will be reevaluated.

As for a more definitive timetable, Perkins isn’t there yet. “It’s hard to say,” he said. “I feel good. I haven’€™t had any setbacks. Really I’€™m just trying to keep moving forward. I’€™m actually surprised about how good I did out there today.”

Interestingly, Perkins said his doctor had originally pegged late January as a possible return date while he had the All-Star break in mind. But all that is purely speculation right now, and while the Celtics were happy to have him back on the court in any capacity, Rivers sounded a more realistic note.

“If we can get anything out of Perk this year, we’€™ll be thrilled,” Rivers said. “It usually takes a year after the surgery to be completely confident.”

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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
Irish Coffee: Shaq doing best Perk impression 11.15.10 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
Irish Coffee: Kendrick Perkins’ NBA secrets 11.11.10 at 10:22 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Celtics center Kendrick Perkins may be out for the first few months because of his ACL injury, but that doesn’t mean he can’t offer advice on how to guard the NBA‘s elite post players, like the Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh.

In a recent Dime Magazine article, Perkins discussed his strategy …

“Very skilled face-up guy, but he’€™s not a physical player. I try to push him off the block and play him physical. He’€™s gonna score a few, but you can’€™t get frustrated by that. Just stay focused. You’€™d rather him hit you for 18 points than for 40 points.”

Given the physical play of Kevin Garnett, perhaps that’s why he was able to hold Bosh to eight points on 3-of-11 shooting in their first meeting this season. Yet another matchup to watch tonight (we covered Rondo vs. Arroyo on Tuesday).

Perkins also discussed his game plan against Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Yao Ming, former teammate Al Jefferson and current teammate Shaquille O’Neal

“I’€™ve been playing against Old Shaq, so I don’€™t know what it was like when he was younger. He’€™s kinda like Dwight [Howard], but not as athletic. He can’€™t really finish over the top no more, so you just keep a body between him and the rim.”

Throughout the discussion, Perkins is brutally honest, saying of Jefferson, “I don’t think he’s a great passer.” Great, great stuff.

The same author is also responsible for the magazine’s power rankings. Somehow, the Heat (No. 3) are ranked three slots higher than the Celtics (No. 6), despite the C’s better record and head-to-head victory. Hmmm …

SHAQ FOOL

The never-ending stream of entertainment that comes from having Shaquille O’Neal in town just keeps flowing.

Shaq and Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina sat down for a Q&A to discuss comedy. Here are a few things we learned …

  • Garnett is the funniest player in the NBA.
  • “Best prank I pulled was on Lou Amundson in Phoenix. I took a Snickers bar, put it in some water to get it real brown and wet and put it in my hand. [When he] came off the bench to go in the game, he had on white shorts, I rubbed it all over his shorts and said ‘good game, bro,’ so when he was running on the court he thought he s#@! himself.”
  • Shaqeeta is done.
  • He wants to become the next “The Rock” in the movie business and star alongside Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.
  • His favorite “Yo Mamma” joke: “Yo Mamma is so nasty her crabs have crabs.”
  • The Big Aristotle is the best name he’s given himself.
  • His top five comedy movies of all-time: “Don’t Be a Menace To South Central While Drinking Juice in the Hood”, “Harlem Nights”, “Life”, “Me, Myself and Irene” and “Step Brothers”.

Shaq did the SI Q&A to promote an online video series for Power Balance where he interviews himself. It’s the funniest thing he’s ever done. Here’s a great exchange …

Shaq1: “So, you and Kobe [Bryant] finally made nice?”
Shaq2: “Who?”
Shaq1: “Did he get you a diamond ring?”
Shaq2: “I don’t accept diamond rings from guys.”
Shaq1: “Well, you should, because then you would have five rings, too, stupid.”

I also enjoyed Shaq asking himself, “What page were you on of the ‘Kazaam’ script when you called your agent and said, ‘I’m in’?” Hilarious.

O’Neal is also promoting his second annual “Join Shaq, Give Back” holiday campaign. As Shaq-a-Claus, he is encouraging “shoppers to donate new, unwrapped toys and cash in Toys-R-Us and Babies-R-Us stores nationwide and online at ToysRUs.com/ToysforTots.”

“My parents always encouraged me to give back to those less fortunate, and ever since I made it to the NBA, I’€™ve been visiting Toys-R-Us stores during the holiday season to buy gifts for kids in need,” O’€™Neal said. “As a father myself, I know firsthand how magical it is for a child to open a gift on Christmas morning.’€

Since Oct. 31, the program has raised $366,139. Great stuff all-around off the court. Now, if only he could get back on the court.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Chris Bosh, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett
Shaq a likely no-go but ‘big brother’ is ready 11.01.10 at 2:28 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Shaquille O’Neal missed his second straight practice on Monday with a right knee bruise suffered late in Friday’s game against the Knicks and likely won’t play on Tuesday in Detroit, according to coach Doc Rivers.

“I doubt if he plays [Tuesday] but we’ll see,” Rivers said following practice, which didn’t include O’Neal. “If he has a chance [to play] he’ll make the trip.”

O’Neal instead spent the time in the swimming pool with fellow injured big man Kendrick Perkins as both worked on therapy for knee injuries. The team did get good news on another O’Neal. Jermaine O’Neal, who suffered swelling in his left knee following the loss to Cleveland last Wednesday, returned to practice on Monday and will make the trip to Detroit.

“[Shaquille’s] brother? He had a good practice and he’ll play,” Rivers said with a laugh. “Obviously, it could swell or something but right now, he looked good.”

Rivers said Jermaine O’Neal, who practiced with the first team, will see a lot of time as will rookie Semih Erden.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, NBA, Semih Erden
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