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Inside the Game: Shelden Williams and the Art of Rebounding 01.05.10 at 10:41 pm ET
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For a player whose career had been filled with uncertainties, one thing was for sure about Shelden Williams.

‘€œShelden has proven he can defend and rebound,’€ President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge said at Williams’ introductory press conference this summer.

The Celtics were drawn to those defensive skills when they signed him during the offseason. They were looking to add another big man to their bench and believed he had the potential to help their team down low.

His rebounding contributions are even more critical now that Kevin Garnett is sidelined. Although he is not the first man off the bench,  Williams tries to make an impression on the boards whenever he can.

Before he began his NBA career, Williams had made his mark on Duke University. In fact, he had made it on backboards around the NCAA.

He graduated from Duke in 2006 as the school’s all-time leader in rebounds and blocked shots. Williams pulled down 1,262 boards over his four-year career and averaged 9.1 boards per game, including 11.2 as a junior. He became the third player in NCAA history to score 1,500 points, nab 1,000 rebounds, block 350 shots, and pick off 150 steals, while earning consecutive Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Williams was selected by the Hawks with the fifth pick in the 2006 Draft. That season he led all rookies in double-doubles and ranked third on his team in rebounds. Even as his playing time decreased and he was eventually traded (he was sent from the Hawks to the Kings to the Timberwolves over the course of two seasons), Williams stayed focused on attacking the boards.

Now on the Celtics, he has accepted the team’s defensive mentality. He is currently averaging 3.5 boards in 13.5 minutes and has recorded 8-, 9-, and 10-rebound games. Even though Williams has only played a total of 377 minutes (9th on team), he has recorded 99 rebounds (7th). He has also grabbed 33 offensive boards (4th), more than Rasheed Wallace and just seven shy of Garnett in 500 less minutes.

As part of WEEI.com’s ‘€œInside the Game’€ series with the Celtics, Williams explained the art of attacking the glass.

Learning at a Young Age: As a teenager, Williams led Midwest City High School (OK) to the Oklahoma Class 6A State Championship.
‘€œI was taught that very early on. My dad always told me about the importance of rebounding and playing defense. Those are two things that are will. If you want to do it, you have a will to do it. Those two things were taught to me at an early age and just kind of stuck.’€

His American Idol: The soft-spoken Williams admired one of the most colorful athletes to ever play the game of basketball.
‘€œDuring my time period coming up, it was Dennis Rodman. He was always going after every single rebound whether he’d be over the top or not. I think that watching him be relentless, I learned from that.’€

Leaving a Legacy: During his record-setting career at Duke, Williams grabbed a personal-best 19 rebounds against Virginia Tech in 2005.
‘€œ[My record] is very important. My shot blocking and my rebounding record will be there for a while so I scratched  my name on the stone, so to speak. My whole career that I was there, no one had averaged a double-double and that’s something I set out to do. I was able to accomplish it in my junior and senior year.’€

There’s a Thought Process: In order to be successful, Williams educates himself on his opponents before they take the shot so he can put himself in the best position once the ball is in the air.
‘€œ[When you go in for the rebound] depends on where the shot’s been taken from. You kind of play percentages. If the ball’s on the other end of the court and I’m on the opposite block, more often than not it’s going to come off the opposite of that block. Also you’ve got to take into account the guy who’s shooting it. Has he been missing his shot? Does he tend to be short a lot of the time? Whatever the case may be, you try to think about that as well.’€

Offensive vs. Defensive: This season the Celtics have been outperformed on the offensive glass. Williams says there is a difference on both ends of the court.
‘€œDefensive rebounding, more often than not for a big, you’re already down there. Most cases you play around the block, closer to the basket. Whereas for offensive rebounding, if you’re setting a pick out there on the wing, you’ve got to run into there. Like I said, there’s a big difference because most time on defense you’re already in the paint … Any time the ball goes up I try to attack the glass. More often than not, not everybody’s attacking the glass all the time, so I try to make myself available, especially on the offensive end, to I keep the ball alive.’€

Make the Extra Effort: At 6-9, Williams still works hard to make sure he has the edge over his opponents at the basket. On this particular day of the interview, he was the last player to leave the court after practice.
‘€œ[I] just try to rebound as much as I can. I try to make the concerted effort.’€

PREVIOUS ENTRIES

Inside the Game: Paul Pierce and the Art of Versatility

Inside the Game: Kendrick Perkins on the Art of Shot-Blocking

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dennis Rodman, Duke University, inside the game
Injury situation comes into focus 01.02.10 at 11:04 pm ET
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The Celtics shed a little light on their developing injury situation Saturday night.

As expected, Rajon Rondo joined Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on the sidelines. Doc Rivers said he was didn’t want his young point guard to make his tender hamstring worse, and after reviewing Rondo’s performance against Phoenix, Rivers said he was concerned that Rondo was trying to over-compensate for the injury. The decision to rest him was set in precautionary terms. “I think he wanted to play,” Rivers said before adding that trainer Eddie Lacerte makes the final call.

While Rondo sat, Pierce detailed his experiences last week, which involved a higher than expected white-cell count and an additional surgery to deal with fluid and an infection in his knee. (Go here for more details). If all goes well Pierce might practice Monday before the team heads to Miami to start a three-game road trip, but that’s far from certain. Rivers called it 50-50 and Pierce said he was “day-to-day.”

What is certain is that Rondo and Pierce are far more likely to rejoin the team before Garnett does. Since details of his hyper-extended knee have surfaced, Garnett has been pushed back from likely to miss the next two games, to possibly out for as much as 10 days from now. That could have Garnett out of the lineup for as many as five games, but even that is far from a hard target.

“I have no idea,” Rivers said. “I really don’t.”

If that sounds eerily familiar to last season, well, it is. The difference, perhaps, this time around is the Celtics may be better-equipped to deal with Garnett’s absence for an extended — and unknown –period of time this season.

For starters, the stakes are much obviously lower now than they were last season. The playoffs are nowhere in sight and the Celtics hot start has given them ample room for Garnett to take his time and heal properly.

The offseason addition of Rasheed Wallace also gives the Celtics a reasonable facsimile of Garnett’s production and Wallace played perhaps his best game of the season against the Raptors Saturday night. He worked effectively inside on the post and his timely outside shooting helped loosen up the Raptors interior defense, which frankly wasn’t all that tight to begin with.

“When Rasheed wants to be, he can be one of the best post players in the game,” said Kendrick Perkins, echoing what so many have said over the years. “But, when he comes to play and he’s focused, man, he’s great.”

The Celtics will need more performances like this from Wallace over the next few weeks, whose play can accurately be described as uneven through the first 32 games. “Rasheed shows you he can play almost every night,” Rivers said. “He doesn’t play well every night, but he’s getting better each game.”

The third factor with Garnett is that the Celtics have been through this once before. The veteran players are mature and grounded enough to know that it will take some time for Garnett to return and they are prepared to deal with his absence, no matter how long it lasts.

“With Kevin, the big thing is we just want to stay afloat and stay on top of the East until he gets back,” Perkins said. “We don’t want him to feel like he has to rush back.”

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo,
No rush for KG return at 7:56 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers hinted on Saturday night that Kevin Garnett could be out at least another 10 days with soreness in his right knee, adding that he would probably miss the next five games.

“At least you know it’s going to be a lot longer than that, but you don’t know how quickly he can come back from that.”

Entering Saturday’s game, the Celtics were 2-3 in the five games without Garnett in the lineup.

Read More: Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA,
Garnett’s rest not part of master plan 01.01.10 at 6:24 pm ET
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WALTHAM — When Kevin Garnett returned from knee surgery this season, there was a question as to how many games he would play. He hadn’t played a full 82 games since the 2004-5 season and had not played more than 71 as a Celtic.

Surely Doc Rivers would want to give his big man rest, but when and how long?

Even though now Garnett is out ‘€œindefinitely,’€ according to Rivers, with a hyperxtended right knee which he suffered this week, the Celtics coach says this period of rest was not part of a master plan to preserve minutes.

‘€œNo, no, this is because of a freak accident,’€ Rivers said after practice on Friday. ‘€œKevin is as frustrated as anybody that he hyperextended his knee on a play that happened twice in two different games, which is literally impossible…Both times he was jumping off you’re feet and someone kicks you and kicks the back of your leg, for that to happen once is almost impossible. For that to happen twice is just bad luck. And it just did. He’s laughing like how can that happen twice? I said, well it happened in this game and in that game. That’s how.’€

Rivers said rest is imperative for this kind of injury, regardless of who the player is. But given Garnett’s history with injuries, the team has to be extra cautious.

‘€œIt’s not a serious injury but if you don’t take care of it, especially in Kevin’s case, he’ll compensate, and then he would injure himself,’€ he said. ‘€œSo I’m not taking that chance.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett,
KG, Rondo, Pierce out against Raptors at 5:14 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Kevin Garnett (knee), Paul Pierce (knee), and Rajon Rondo (hamstring) will not play on Saturday against the Raptors, Doc Rivers said following practice on Friday. Here is the injury rundown:

- Rondo: Rivers decided to sideline Rondo after reviewing film from Wednesday’s loss to the Suns. He thought Rondo looked better live than he actually did on tape. Rondo emerged after practice wearing practice gear and sandals. He received treatment at the Celtics training facility.

- Pierce: Pierce also received treatment at the C’s facility. Rivers did not have any new information to offer on his return — “Maybe Miami, maybe later.”

- Garnett: KG was not present at the Celtics facility during practice.  His timetable for return is still indefinite. “I don’t think it’s a long indefinite thing, but it is indefinite because you don’t know the date of return,” said Rivers. “It’s not going to be that long. But when I did this, I looked at the schedule and I looked at the days off and I thought this was the time to do it.”

Marquis Daniels (thumb) is also out.

As for those who will be on the court, Glen Davis (ankle) is expected to play unless his ankle swells up overnight, said Rivers. J.R. Giddens is expected to get his first NBA start, according to Kendrick Perkins, in the midst of the injuries.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo
Report: Rondo and Garnett questionable 12.30.09 at 2:00 pm ET
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CSN New England’s A. Sherrod Blakely is reporting that Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett are both questionable for tonight’s game with the Suns. Per Blakely, Doc Rivers told the press after practice that of the two, Rondo is more likely to play. Rondo is dealing with a sore hamstring. Rivers also said that he may wind up sitting Garnett for the next week, specifically citing a game against Miami on Jan. 6 as a potential target date. That would mean Garnett would miss two games; tonight and Saturday against Toronto.

If Garnett can’t go, Rasheed Wallace would likely get the start in his place. Rivers has been reluctant to play Wallace and Kendrick Perkins together, preferring that each man the center spot, but Wallace started for Garnett against Philadelphia after Garnett came down with a thigh bruise

UPDATE: The Herald’s Steve Bulpett files from Phoenix that the Celtics are saying Garnett’s latest problem is not related to his surgery, but that he got kicked in the knee against the Warriors, Monday.

Read More: injuries, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo,
Report: Davis Ankle Injury May Not Be Serious at 12:18 am ET
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Glen Davis‘ right ankle sprain may not be as serious as first thought, the Boston Globe reported. The injury occurred during Monday’s loss against the Warriors when Davis got tangled up with Rony Turiaf and fell to the ground. He reportedly left Oracle Arena on crutches and wearing a protective boot following the game.

“I haven’t heard anything, which means nothing is serious,” Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge told the Globe. “I sent (trainer) Eddie (Lacerte) a text and I haven’t heard anything and usually that means it’s not much.”

In other injury-related news, Ainge told the Globe Paul Pierce will have his right knee evaluated this week, while no definitive date has been set for his return.

The Boston Herald also reported Kevin Garnett, who was kicked in the right leg against the Warriors, and Rajon Rondo, who tweaked his left hamstring, received attention from Lacerte on Tuesday as well. Both players are expected to play on Wednesday against the Suns in Phoenix.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Glen Davis, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo
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