|The trouble with injury timelines||01.11.11 at 5:21 pm ET|
Celtics president Danny Ainge doesn’t like to give timelines on when injured players will return to the court and there’s a good reason for that: Things change.
Take Kevin Garnett, for example. Late last week Doc Rivers suggested that Garnett would be back Monday or maybe Wednesday. That forecast no longer appears likely to materialize after the Celtics went through practice without Garnett on Tuesday.
“He’s just not ready yet,” Rivers said. “He’s close, very close. I think he wants to play, but I just don’t think he should play yet.”
That was probably the right call. Why take a chance in mid-January if you’re not 100 percent certain? But if he doesn’t play by Friday, expect a whole host of questions about the nature of Garnett’s injury, which has been described as a calf strain. Without the timeline, this is just a common-sense delay.
Then there’s Kendrick Perkins, who announced that he was ready to return to full-contact practice and would be back in three weeks. But when the Celtics held practice, Perkins was kept on the sidelines by Rivers and Dr. Brian McKeon for everything expect skeleton drills and no-contact running.
It was the team’s first practice in weeks and Rivers wanted it to be live and physical. In other words, it wasn’t a good environment for Perkins to take his first contact since injuring his knee in Game 6 of the NBA finals.
“We went pretty hard so I didn’t want him out there in that,” Rivers said. “We did a lot of contact stuff and I didn’t want him to be a part of it. It was a good practice actually. I knew we were going to do a lot of live, hard rebounding stuff. Too many bodies. Too many feet. I didn’t want him involved.”
Perkins, who will be kept out of live practice for the rest of the week, said he was disappointed, but he understood. “A little bit, but at the same time I know it’s in my best interest,” he said when asked if he was frustrated by the delay. “If they say one more week, I can go one more week.”
Still, Perkins wouldn’t back off his ultimate timeline to return in three weeks. If he can’t go by the time the Celtics play the Lakers on Jan. 30, then it will feel like a setback, he said — even though he is only six months removed from knee surgery.
Of all the injured Celtics, Delonte West has offered no set timetable. He had his hard cast taken off his broken right wrist, but he’s still not able to do anything basketball-related with his right hand like catch, shoot or dribble a ball. He also said he has trouble turning doorknobs in his house and carrying groceries.
In the meantime, West said he has watched Youtube videos of “karate masters” (his term) to learn how to absorb contact in other parts of his body when he falls. He also went to Home Depot and bought a bucket, which he filled with rice. He sticks his hand in the bucket and churns. (Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton did the same routine for years.)
“It works too,” he said. “Try it man.”
West was vague when pressed for a return date, which was smart because he simply doesn’t know yet. His next step is to be able to handle the basketball with his right hand, which he hopes will happen next week. Ultimately he knows that his body will tell him when it’s time.
“I’d rather let it heal naturally,” West said. “With the rice.”
With or without Kevin Garnett and with or without the high-scoring Kevin Martin in the game for the Rockets, Rivers felt his team was capable of a whole lot better than they showed in a 108-102 loss at TD Garden.
But the trademark defense that has been a staple of these championship-driven Celtics has not been there in the last week, and Rivers fears that if they start falling in love with scoring instead of doing the dirty work, they’ll lose something a lot more important – home court advantage in the NBA playoffs.
Don’t look now but not only are the Spurs putting some distance between themselves and the Celtics – who fell to 28-9 – but the Miami Heat have, in the space of about three weeks, caught up to them with a torrid winning streak.
If the Celtics aren’t careful, they not only might have to win an NBA Finals Game 7 on the road like last year in LA but they may have to do the same thing against Miami just to get there.
“To me, you can see them thinking about the individual game and not the ramifications of the entire season,” Rivers said of his team. “And playing Game 7 on the road. And hell, not just in the Finals if you make it there, but in the playoffs. In the East, which is going to be difficult. This year’s not like last year where you can coast. You don’t have home court this year, you could go home.
‘You know especially at home, I think we need to really take advantage of games where their best player isn’t playing, guys coming off injury,” captain Paul Pierce added. “These games mean a lot down the road, and but at the same time, they’re going to suit up and play, and we got to understand that nothing is given to us cause their down a man, or they’ve been struggling for most of the year. We got to put our work boots on and come with our A game, we’re not taking advantage of this, there are a lot of games that we’re letting slip away that we’re supposed to win’ Read the rest of this entry »
|Injury updates on Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West||01.07.11 at 7:27 pm ET|
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.”
|Irish Coffee: It’s a shame about Clifford Ray||01.04.11 at 12:03 pm ET|
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.
|The latest on Kendrick Perkins return||12.21.10 at 3:44 pm ET|
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.”
|Delonte West has surgery on broken wrist||11.30.10 at 1:28 pm ET|
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.
|Irish Coffee: Shaq doing best Perk impression||11.15.10 at 10:30 am ET|
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.
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.)
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