|Talking Hoops, Episode V with Kelly Dwyer||03.14.11 at 4:44 pm ET|
In the latest edition of Talking Hoops with Paul Flannery we talked with Kelly Dwyer, editor of Yahoo! Sports Ball Don’t Lie. Few people know the Bulls as well as Dwyer, so we went in-depth on Chicago’s rise from talented als0-ran to legitimate championship contender. Then we talked about the Celtics and what we can expect from their new additions and later, we ran through the sleepers in the Eastern Conference.
We also reminisced about the Fab 5, Rodrick Rhodes and Dwyer tries to convince me to listen to ELO.
LISTEN HERE: Talking Hoops, Episode V
|What it means to have Nutty Professor Glen Davis back||at 9:12 am ET|
And while it was only a four-games, the Celtics could feel the loss of their nutty professor in their lineup. They beat Golden State and Milwaukee but fell very flat against the Clippers and Sixers. As a matter of fact, one could easily make the argument that he is the single-most important bench player of any of the favored teams to win the NBA title.
The Lakers, Spurs, Mavericks, Bulls and Heat all have star-studded players among their starting five but none of them have Big Baby. He can come off the bench and provide an instant jolt of energy to the reserves and this is precisely why Doc Rivers wants to keep him coming off the bench come April, May and hopefully, June.
But Sunday, it was all about getting acquainted with some players he’d never played with or had just seen in practice. There was no more ‘Shrek-ing’ with Nate Robinson. He has been replaced with Carlos Arroyo. Davis has played just three games with the troika of Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy.
“First half, I felt a little weird a little bit,” Davis said. “I didn’t remember anybody on the team. Nate? Carlos?”
And what about that No. 77, Sasha Pavlovic? Davis was wondering how to pronounce his name, let alone learn his game.
“I knew his name but I couldn’t pronounce it so I didn’t call him anything,” Davis said. “Just, ‘What’s up?’ and ‘hey.'”
Sunday night was clearly an example of shaking off the rust as he played just 18 minutes, going 3-for-6 from the floor with seven rebounds and nine points, with all nine coming in the fourth quarter.
“I saw a guy that needs to run more,” Rivers said. “He did well. He played with a lot of patience offensively and he let the ball come to him instead of hunting it down and that’s how we should play all the time. He just needs the minutes. He was starting to get his legs. I asked him how he felt and he said he felt great, except he can’t feel his lungs anymore.”
He missed a lay-up 90 seconds into the fourth as he had flashbacks to the Heat game on Feb. 13 when he went up on the wrong foot and missed a dunk. This time he missed the layup but 90 seconds later he was pounded by Jon Brockman and finally felt like he was back. More importantly, his knee felt OK with the contact.
“I was kind of trying to feeling it out,” Davis said. “I felt it a little bit more when I missed my first layup I was like, ‘Oh!’ I was trying to jump. I felt it but I didn’t feel it. But then when Brockman hit me, I felt like, ‘OK, you’re back.'”
No one means more to their bench than Glen Davis to the Celtics and here’s why:
First, after Krstic, the Celtics – as Rivers was all too willing to point out – had really no one to play the center position. Read the rest of this entry »
|Kevin Garnett: President Obama is ‘a cool dude’||03.12.11 at 11:22 am ET|
Celtics forward Kevin Garnett posted to his blog on shoe company Anta’s website and touched on a few topics from what he called a “crazy busy” couple days. Here’s what he had to say about meeting President Barack Obama, the loss to the Clippers and signing a deal with Zico coconut water …
On Obama: “On Tuesday, we went to an event and met the No. 1 man. The president of the United States. It was cool to take a couple of minutes to talk with the leader of our country. He’s a cool dude. Not all the guys made it, but hopefully we’ll meet him again (we get to if we win the championship).”
On Clippers: “It just seemed like things were off all day. Not sure what happened, but we didn’t play together and were not on the same page. I guess that has to happen every now and then. Still sucks to lose. We were down 20 points at one point and we cut it down, but mental errors hurt us. We lost by five, but cut it to three at one point.”
On endorsement: “Big news. Just signed a deal with Zico ‘coconut water.’ Excited, to work with them, as I’m a huge coconut water guy. I drink some after my massages, practice and any time I feel like my body needs refreshing. Helps with dehydration and recovery. … Be on the look out for a contest or something. Planning on signing my game sneakers! Stay tuned.”
If Garnett’s commercials are anything like the one embedded in this blog, they should be wonderfully terrible.
|Irish Coffee: Pat Riley longs for Doc Rivers||03.11.11 at 9:51 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Four months ago, when rumors started swirling that Pat Riley wants Doc Rivers to replace Erik Spoelstra as head coach of the Heat in 2011-12 (if there is a 2011-12 season), the current Celtics head coach told WEEI: “As far as I’m concerned, I’m a Celtic and I plan on being that for a long time, as long as I’m coaching.”
Yet, Riley still pines for his former point guard when the two were Knicks, like Rick Blaine longed for Ilsa Lund in “Casablanca.” Unfortunately for the Heat president, Rivers chose Celtics orchestrator Danny Ainge as his Victor Laszlo.
We’ll let Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski explain …
Yes, Riles has long been intrigued with Doc Rivers, his old point guard with the New York Knicks. In his mind, Doc’s an extension of his own coaching tree. He must love to hear Rivers tell the story about how Riles told him that he would one day be a coach, about how Doc told him that he was crazy. The Celtics have a contract extension waiting for Rivers, sources say, but so far he’s wanted to wait until the season’s end to deal with it. For him, it would be difficult to make a direct leap from an aging Celtics roster to the Heat. Rivers is too entrenched, too woven into the franchise’s fabric now. What would happen to his relationships with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, with that city, those fans who adore him?
Nevertheless, he’s perfect for Miami. He’s a championship coach. He has a blueprint for making a Big Three work, for holding difficult stars accountable and together. Yet Rivers has a relationship with his GM that Riley has never had with a coach. He isn’t afraid to tell GM Danny Ainge that he’s completely wrong, that he’s going to do it his way and that that’s just way it has to be. Rivers and Ainge can argue, debate and sometimes even rage, but ultimately Ainge lets Rivers coach the Celtics. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Riley, or Rivers, could have the autonomy that they would need to co-exist. Go down the list of strong-minded, successful coaches, and ask yourself how many could come from the outside and fit into that insular Heat world.
Do you think every time the Celtics visit American Airlines Arena, Riley quotes the words written by Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein‘s grandfather and great uncle: “Of all the arenas, in all the towns, in all the world, he walks into mine”?
Celtics fans can revel in the fact that the Heat essentially want to be the Celtics, from the president right on down to the players. And to throw another log on the fire, read Jessica Camerato’s discussion with former Heat starter and current C’s backup point guard Carlos Arroyo — conducted in Spanish and translated by Miami blog Hot Hot Hoops — during which Arroyo explains the difference between the two teams:
“I think it starts with the players. Not every player has incredible team chemistry. [Boston] already has a lot of time together, and they know each other very well on the court. I think that’s what Miami is missing. Boston always has a very complete team and I hope it happens this year.”
For everybody’s sake, let’s jut hope Riley doesn’t start crying in the front office.
|Irish Coffee: Celtics a slam dunk||03.10.11 at 12:38 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Between Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon, the Clippers own four of the top 10 throwdowns on NBA.com’s Dunk Ladder. Not to mention the fact that DeAndre Jordan had more than twice as many dunks (7) during the Clips’ 108-103 victory against the Celtics on Wednesday night as Rajon Rondo has had all season (3).
So, I figured now is as good a time as any to check out the dunk statistics for the Celtics, especially in comparison to their performance during the 2007-08 season. Thanks to CBS Sports’ Dunk-O-Meter and Roto Evil’s Slam Dunk Stats, we can do that.
If an aging NBA veteran has almost twice as many dunks through 62 games this season than he did during a year in which he captured the NBA Finals MVP, that seems to say a lot about the kind of lift and athleticism that’s still in his legs, right?
Of course, I’m talking about Paul Pierce, who according to CBS Sports has slammed 28 dunks already this season — including the highlight-reel one last night that can be seen in the video that accompanies this blog (thanks to @MrTripleDouble10). By comparison, Pierce recorded just 16 dunks in the 2007-08 regular season.
Count Ray Allen in the same category, as his 11 dunks so far this year are two more than he produced during the entire season three years ago. Glen Davis has already more than doubled his dunking output (11 in 2010-11, compared to 5 in 2007-08), but that can be credited to his increased role as the Sixth Man on this year’s squad.
If we can draw conclusions about how much more lift or aggressiveness Pierce has this year compared to three seasons ago based on his increased number of dunks, is the same true for those going in reverse? That means you, Kevin Garnett.
The naked eye test suggests Garnett has been more active and aggressive around the basket than he’s ever been in a Celtics uniform, but could it be that we’re simply remembering the guy who’s been hobbled by knee problems the last two years?
It would seem after his bench was outscored, 26-12, in a 108-103 loss to the Clippers Wednesday night at TD Garden, Doc Rivers would have laid blame for the defeat at the hands of his reserves.
It’s a lot to ask any second unit to make up a 15-to-20 deficit in a game, let alone one that was making its debut. So, the way Rivers saw it, this loss really was at the feet of his “Big 4″ – namely Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
“I was concerned because in the first quarter, our four starters put us in a hole and then you needed to sub, and you knew nothing good was going to happen,” Rivers said, as his team fell behind by as much as 15 in the first quarter and 23 early in the third.
“It actually [wasn’t bad]. They held their ground,” Rivers said of his reserves, led by Carlos Arroyo and new starting center Nenad Krstic. “The problem was it was a 20-point ground [deficit] they were holding and that’s very difficult.
“We sub anyway. We sit guys down regardless of score. Obviously, we were down 20 and we’re subbing. It’s not something you want to do but you have to.”
Pierce couldn’t argue.
‘It’s tough when you get out to bad starts and a lot of that has to do with the starters. How we come out at the beginning of the games, we’ve got to come out with a better focus,” Pierce said. “Once you get a team confidence like the Clippers then they feed off that for the rest of the game and were able to get the win.’
Pierce did point to the defensive struggles of the second unit but only as far as they had to pick up the pieces from the starters not playing defense, either.
‘I think some of it is the second unit, but a lot of that was at the start of the game with the first five so no excuses on that point,” Pierce said. “They came out and shot 70 percent and a lot of that was against the guys that know what we are doing night in and night out.
“You give some leeway to the newer guys, but there is no excuse to the way we started out giving them the big lead and then having to fight all the way to get back into the game.’
The reserves did a very respectable job on Blake Griffin, who had just 12 points in 37 minutes. Down 23, the Celtics slowly started to chip away, outscoring the Clippers, 24-16 in the third to cut the lead to 10.
Then the starters finally did their thing. Allen drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing on a bullet pass from Rondo with 7:36 left to draw the Celtics within six, 86-80. Garnett’s jumper with just under six minutes left capped a 15-2 run to draw the Celtics within three.
But Mo Williams drained three free throws with 5:23 left to restore the lead to six. Jeff Green drilled a trey with 47.4 seconds left to get within four, 104-100. Allen’s three with 10.5 seconds left turned out to be too little, too late.
The Celtics will try to regroup and start a new winning streak on Friday against the upstart 76ers in Philadelphia. The Sixers are making a late-season push to finish in the middle of the playoff pack in the Eastern Conference and are one of the hottest teams in the NBA since the All-Star break.
Friday would be a great time for a new start for the “Big 4.”
|Irish Coffee: The Shaqtionary||03.08.11 at 11:04 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
The oldest player in the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal celebrated his 39th birthday where most almost over-the-hill men celebrate their birthdays — at Boston Children’s Museum.
The Celtics center who hasn’t played since Feb. 1 — and has already missed 25 games this season — told reporters he was 85 percent and would not return until he’s fully healthy, which could be as soon as next week. Here are the quotes from his birthday celebration, courtesy of The Globe:
‘Hopefully, in the next week [I’ll be back]. They want me back at 100 percent. I tried to run on it the other day, and it felt pretty good, but I took a step back and I’m going to get back out there in a few days. I don’t really feel like I’m 39.’’
‘If I can walk, I can play, and I asked many times to shoot it up, and you know, they refuse. And the Big Three said they want me at 100 percent healthy, so I’m getting there.’’
‘I have a little Achilles soreness. It gets better, it comes back, it gets better, it comes back. It’s better. Dr. [Brian] McKeon is doing a great job. I’ve been working out twice a day, getting treatment. It’ll be right.’’
‘[Kendrick] Perkins has meant a lot to this city, and he really helped them get No. 17 and we’re going to miss him. He was my main man. Everybody loves Perk. I love him. We became real good friends, and I congratulated him on his new deal. But this is a business. He’s going to be missed. We had a great time this year being on the same team.’’
So, there you have it. Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers, trainer Ed Lacerte, Dr. Brian McKeon and the Big Three all want Shaq to wait until he’s 100 percent before he returns to the court. He could play right now, but he’s won’t. The Celtics don’t need him now; they need him in the playoffs, so why rush him back? It’s a smart move by the Celtics, so can we just take it easy on the Shaq Watch?
Which brings me to a much more important topic. In honor of Shaq’s 39th birthday — which he called ShaqDay, which makes almost no sense — we scoured UrbanDictionary.com for the ultimate Shaqtionary, described as “the book that will be used to document all of the words that Shaquille O’Neal manages to create during his scrabble games.”
Of course, we eliminated the dirtiest definitions — like Shaq Off and Shaq’s Arm (use your imagination) — and came up with the following list …
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