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Irish Coffee: ‘The Association’ observations 01.24.11 at 11:36 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Episode 2 of “The Association: Boston Celtics” aired on Friday night, and like the first episode, it was a must-watch for any Celtics fan. Once again, there was a lot to take from the behind-the-scenes documentary. Here’s a rundown of the highlights:

  • Even in early December, Jermaine O’Neal was rubbing some serious ointment on his knee.
  • Doc Rivers‘ leash on Rajon Rondo can wrap around the TD Garden. With Rondo on the floor stretching his hamstring during game action, Rivers was asking him if he needed a blow.
  • Paul Pierce plays defense on Kevin Garnett like Mike Tyson played defense against Peter McNeeley — by knocking his head around.
  • Ray Allen: “At some point, somebody’s going to say, ‘Well, you guys are too old, and it’s time for you to go.’ But we all have too much competitve nature and fierceness to even show any weakness.”
  • Pierce’s leadership during the eight-man practice was great to see. Rivers called the Celtics captain “more focused” as opposed to more vocal. And Pierce believes the C’s can still “whoop some ass” despite all the injuries.
  • Rivers: “We’ve got a group of guys who lost in a Game 7, and they understand that it’s going to be hard to get back to that. We’re dealing with a ton of injuries, so we’re going to need all hands on deck.”
  • This episode really personalizes Luke Harangody’s season with the Celtics, and the portion where he compares joining this C’s team to fitting in on the first day of high school is probably the best portion of the show.
  • Earlier this season, Kendrick Perkins claimed to be working on a mid-range jumper, and he was indeed working on it during filming.
  • Shaquille O’Neal broke out a portion of my all-time favorite line of his: “A hero ain’t nothing but a sandwich.” The original quote — which he delivered after a 2004 game-winning dunk against the Rockets in the playoffs — ended with, “and I’m trying to give up carbohydrates.”
  • Glen Davis‘ pregame meal? Spaghetti and pancakes, of course.
  • Allen arrives at the gym four hours before tipoff to work on his shooting. A friend pointed out over the weekend that, based on his production in games and his work ethic around them, Allen may have made more 3-pointers in his lifetime than any other human being alive. As for the official NBA record? He’s 23 shy of Reggie Miller‘s record.
  • The shot Shaq made while he was sitting on the bench was fairly ridiculous.
  • Sam Jones: “They have a sense of playing like the Celtics of old. They know they have a chance of getting that NBA championship, but they must do it together.”
  • Was that Rondo in the background at Allen’s family Christmas? And was he wearing his warmups? I’m pretty sure he was.
  • Pierce: “We know we’re a great team, but we can’t win a championship without Kevin Garnett. He’s the one most important piece to the puzzle.”

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No passing fancy: C’s determined to show NBA ‘what basketball is like’ 01.22.11 at 11:35 am ET
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In a stat sheet filled with superlatives, the thing that shone for the Celtics like a neon sign could be found several columns over and several rows deep.

The Celtics had 31 assists on 37 baskets in Friday’s 110-86 dismantling of the Jazz at TD Garden to improve to an Eastern Conference-best 33-9. The most impressive part of the performance was that it wasn’t all Rajon Rondo. Yes, the Celtics point guard led the way with 12 dimes, but Marquis Daniels had six, Ray Allen had four and Kevin Garnett had three. Of the 11 players who dressed, only Paul Pierce and Semih Erden failed to register at least one helper.

From the opening tip, the Celtics were determined to spread the wealth. Shaquille O’Neal drew people to him in the paint as he usually does then found Pierce to his left on a cut to the basket for a lay-up 35 seconds in. The Celtics were off to the races.

That would be the first of 31 times one Celtic teammate found another for a field goal.

“It’s just a product of our work,” Pierce said. “Everyday we come in here and that’s what we work on. We work on making the passes, running our offense. Believing in one another, not caring who gets the credit. When you have a selfless group like this, that’s what happens.”

The Jazz did their best early to keep up but as a team built on strength and power, the Celtics seemed determined to take advantage of that. Let KG explain:

“Typical stuff. We know a lot of the offense goes through their bigs,” Garnett began. “They lay a lot of high post, lot of movement. Everybody knows Jerry Sloan’s system, he has been here for 30 years, 25-plus years. They are a physical team. We knew that we had to come out and not only meet their bigs’ physicality, but to be aggressive ourselves.

“I thought for the most part, we moved the ball. The things we worked on in practice the other day definitely showed and good showing by us. I liked the way we were forceful, physical. I thought we were firm. Again we moved the ball, everything we worked on and everything we have practiced up until this point was exemplified tonight.”

Utah Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan pushed every button he could but the Celtics were too much for his team, which came in tied for first with Oklahoma City in the Northwest Division.

“Well they showed us what basketball is like tonight,” Sloan said. “They came out and they played a terrific game, they took us out of our offense, we couldn’t do anything of what we were trying to do. I thought they were terrific passing the ball, and they made us turn the ball over way too many times, 21 turnovers for 26 points, it’s tough to beat anybody when you have that happen.

“But give them credit for how they came out and got after us. They were good in their offense getting the kind of shots they wanted and the kind that they can make. Doc was pretty generous not keeping his players out there, letting us breathe a little bit I guess.”

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Doc Rivers on D&C: Shaq recruited me 01.20.11 at 9:52 am ET
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Doc Rivers (AP)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show for his weekly Thursday visit and talked about the win over the Pistons, trash talk coming from Orlando, and the impact of Shaquille O’Neal. “He woke up young yesterday,” Rivers said. “It was nice. We needed it. We don’t win that game without Shaq’s energy.”

Rivers was asked if he played an active role in recruiting O’Neal, but really it was the other way around. “He kind of recruited me,” Rivers said. “Shaq was on our radar, but we were actually talking to other guys. I got a call from Shaq out of the clear-blue sky. He wanted to meet.”

The coach flew to Orlando and, “Ten minutes later he’s literally at my house, sitting in my office at my house and we talked about coming to Boston. I was asking him more questions. Would he be able to do this? Is he capable of not being the guy, being a role player, limited minutes, not starting? He was great about everything and so far he’s lived up to what he said he was coming for.”

As far as the Orlando talk (Magic GM Otis Smith said the Celtics only act tough), Rivers dismissed it. “I’m just going to let Otis keep talking. I learned long ago the guys in the suits and ties have very little impact on what’s going to happen on the floor, so I’m just going to let Otis keep talking. We want to beat them anyway. It’s not going to matter. I think anytime somebody says something and Kevin Garnett hears it, it cant hurt us. I’ll put it that way.”

Rivers said that Garnett is close to 100 percent, and it’s only a matter of rediscovering his timing.

“He’s pretty close,” Rivers said. “I was really surprised. I thought the way he played last night would be the way he played against Orlando. It’s just timing.”

The coach also said that Marquis Daniels, who rolled his ankle, could play Friday against Utah.

Rivers also weighed in on the NBA topic of the day: Carmelo Anthony. “I don’t really care [where he goes,” Rivers said. “The thing I didn’t like about it, it was way too public.”

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Ray Allen never thinks about the misses, neither do Doc Rivers or his teammates 01.19.11 at 11:38 pm ET
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Ray Allen is a future hall-of-famer so when shots aren’t falling he doesn’t panic. After drilling the game-winning jumper with 24.5 seconds remaining in an 86-82 win over the Pistons, he said that approach helped him again Wednesday night when he missed two fourth-quarter free throws and was just 1-for-7 before hitting the decisive jumper.

With 31.8 seconds remaining, Rajon Rondo grabbed a loose-ball rebound and Doc Rivers called timeout. He drew up a play that had Allen coming off a screen and Paul Pierce, with a game-high 22 points – available as a second-option.

“It was more than him as the option,” Rivers said. “He was the first option on the play. And then Paul was the second, on the flare. Ray just makes shots, you know? He’s one of those guys, he can go 0-for-10; you know the one guy that believes he’s going to make it is Ray. And the second group is our team. When we drew it up, you could tell, they thought it would work and they went with it. It was great.”

“I wasn’t surprised,” Allen said of being given another chance on a pass from Rondo. “Anytime the situation comes down to the end of the game, we’ve been in these situations enough to know that it’s going to be either me, Paul [Pierce], Kevin [Garnett] or Rondo if he gets in the gaps.

“If he didn’t throw it to me, it would’ve went somewhere else and somebody would’ve been able to make the shot. I’ve said this before, I wasn’t shooting the ball particularly well and I didn’t really think I had a great rhythm but I always think the next one is going to go in. So, I was never worried about it.”

The second-most prolific 3-point shooter in NBA history, Allen also wasn’t worried about missing all four of his 3-point shots on the night before getting a chance to drill the game-winner – which ironically was ruled a trey before officials reviewed it during a timeout and changed it to a two-pointer.

“It wasn’t odd at all because I was kind of replaying in my mind the shots I had tonight,” Allen said. “Early, I had two threes and one of them was a ’911′ shot trying to beat the buzzer. Offensively, we weren’t in a great rhythm , a bad rhythm overall for the team and that translated into how we were playing.”

If Allen had no hesitation about taking the shot, Rivers certainly didn’t. “Not with Ray,” Rivers answered without any hesitation. “No, No. Ray is a shooter. Shooters make shots. So, no.”

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Irish Coffee: Ray Allen’s ‘holy land’ 01.18.11 at 11:14 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Ray Allen may be closing in on Reggie Miller‘s all-time 3-point record, but there’s another elusive goal the Celtics shooting guard has in mind: The NBA’s holy trinity of shooting.

It’s what all professional shooters strive for — 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line — but it’s eluded Allen throughout his previous 14 seasons in the league.

“I looked at my percentages, and the one thing I can’t control is how many points I score, but I can control how efficient I am,” said Allen after his two late 3-pointers helped bury the Magic on Monday night. “The holy land of shooting is 50, 40 and 90. That’s been something I’ve aimed for my whole career.”

Currently, Allen is shooting career highs of 51.7 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from 3-point land, but his free-throw shooting sits at 88.3 percent. Imagine that, the NBA’s No. 5 free-throw shooter of all-time actually needs to improve his free-throw shooting. It’s nowhere near out of the realm of possibility, as Allen has shot 90 percent from the charity stripe nine times in his career, including the previous five seasons.

To qualify for the 50-40-90 club, a player must make at least 300 field goals, 55 3-pointers and 125 free throws. Only five players in the history of the league have qualified: Steve Nash (four times), Larry Bird (twice), Mark Price, Dirk Nowitzki and Reggie Miller. Interestingly enough, both Allen and Paul Pierce (51.4 FG%, 40.6 3P% & 86.1 FT&) could join that club by the end of the season.

Of course, Allen is also chasing Miller’s all-time 3-point record. He’s just 28 away from surpassing the retired Pacer’s 2,560 career 3-pointers. Miller was part of the TNT crew that broadcasted Monday night’s Celtics game at TD Garden, and Allen admitted he may have given him a look after one of his three treys on the night. The two began a friendship when Allen tried to recruit Miller to come out of retirement and play for the Celtics in 2008.

“He always has great things to say,” said Allen of Miller. “He’s been such a great mentor. He’s never been envious or showed animosity towards me because I’m potentially going to break his record. It’s a great lesson for me to learn as a young guy compared to him, and me passing along the things I know to the young guys who come after me.”

Because of the “$3 for 3s” program that Allen’s mother, Flora, started on behalf of her son, Allen has been able to pay particular attention to his chase for the record. The initiative asks people to pledge $3 to the Joslin Diabetes Center’s High Hopes Fund for every 3-point shot he makes this season. His stepfather is always reminding him, too, because he’s counting down to the record every morning on his chalkboard at Cheshire High School.

It’s fun for Allen to discuss with his family and friends off the court, but not on the court with his teammates.

“Once we get in the locker room, it’s all business,” said Allen. “I don’t want to be that guy who’s running around the court trying to shoot a shoot a 3-pointer all day long. I don’t want to be thirsty from behind the 3-point line, so I just make sure I play the game that I’ve always played.”

Only slightly more efficiently.

KEVIN GARNETT: CELTICS CAN LEARN FROM PATRIOTS

On his blog for his Chinese shoe sponsor, Anta, Kevin Garnett explained that the entire Celtics team went to the Patriots loss to the Jets, and the C’s can learn a lot from the No. 1 seed getting bumped from the playoffs:

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Kevin Garnett: ‘These two weeks have been dark days for me’ at 1:09 am ET
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How happy and relieved was Kevin Garnett to be back Monday night?

“I was just called up from the D-League,” he joked.

Playing his first game back from a nine-game absence due to a strained right calf, Garnett scored 19 points in 30 minutes while Paul Pierce converted the go-ahead three-point play with 38.7 seconds remaining to lift the Celtics to a 109-106 win over the Magic Monday night at TD Garden.

Ray Allen had a team-high 26 points and Rajon Rondo had 10 points and 13 assists in a contest that provided a thrilling rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals. No one seemed more excited about the turn of events than the man who was playing his first game of 2011.

“You get out of it what it what you put into it,” Garnett said.”These two weeks have been dark days for me, trying to keep my morale up, be around the guys, travel. But being hurt is not one of my things I like to be a part of. I hate it. I don’t deal with it well.

“But as I get older, along with these knuckleheads here keeping it real light for me, keeping my spirits up, I just worked through it. Tonight, I just felt stronger and I’m going to continue to build on this and not have any mishaps.”

He certainly showed no ill-effects of the strained right calf sustained on Dec. 29 in Detroit. Garnett ran and moved without a limp while starting out very strong. He had six rebounds, two assists and four points in nine minutes of the first quarter. Garnett also stole the ball from Jameer Nelson late to help seal Boston’s 31st win, keeping them on top in the Eastern Conference.

After scoring just six points on Christmas Day, Dwight Howard had one of his strongest games yet against the Celtics, scoring 33 points while grabbing 13 rebounds. But still, the Celtics, thanks to the interior passing of Garnett and Pierce dominated scoring in the paint, 52-26.

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Doc Rivers: Kevin Garnett yelling on the court again is music to my ears at 12:52 am ET
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Doc Rivers and Paul Pierce were happy to have the noise back. That noise that comes from someone yelling non-stop throughout the game and playing with defensive intensity rarely seen in the history of the NBA.

It had been so quiet for the Celtics since Kevin Garnett went down on Dec. 29 in Detroit, with what looked far more serious than a strained right calf at the time.

The Celtics defensive coordinator was back on Monday night against the Magic, and within the first three minutes you could tell a difference in defensive energy as he was calling out plays on the court.

And Rivers didn’t feel the two teams played very good defense in the first 45 minutes, the last three were what mattered in a 109-106 Celtics win Monday night over the team they eliminated in the Eastern Finals last year. So, Garnett yelling out defensive calls and making plays like a steal on Jameer Nelson with 10 seconds remaining to seal the win was music to Rivers’ ears.

“Listen, they all talk, but no one talks like Kevin,” Rivers said. “He’s the best talker in the league. When you’re talking defense. And I think Perk [Kendrick Perkins] may be the second best. So, it is clear tonight – and I didn’t think we had a great defensive night; I thought we were actually average – but it was clear the communication, especially those last four possessions, you could hear it. He was calling their sets out. He’s a defensive coach on the floor.”

Rivers had no doubt the energy would be there. His stamina and effectiveness were another thing altogether.

“I knew he’d play with energy,” Rivers said after Garnett scored 19 points and hauled in eight rebounds in 30 intensity-filled minutes. “You could see that. You could see it [Sunday], and I was telling guys that our practice was just crazy with energy. And so, you knew that. I was concerned about his wind; I wasn’t concerned about his health at all.”

One area where it was noticeable that Garnett might have been a little rusty was in the foul column where he came within one of disqualification.

“I knew one of the things we said: he wasn’t playing until he was 100 percent,” Rivers said. “But [Sunday], we went an hour and after about ten minutes he was – he looked like he needed an oxygen tank. And that’s why I took him out early in the first quarter; I thought he was struggling then. And then he came back and he felt great. So, yeah, he surprises you all the time.”

But don’t take Rivers’ word for it. Ask the man whom Garnett was helping to direct on the court, Paul Pierce.

“I mean I said to somebody else that we look like a totally different team,” Pierce said. “Just with Kevin on the court, and also people you can’t replace what Kevin gives to a ball club. He doesn’t always show up with his numbers but his presence and his feel for the game and everything he does for this team goes far beyond the numbers and you see it tonight. We look like a team who is ready, who is energized, who is locked in, and you know that’s the culture he’s brought here since day 1 he’s been here and its infectious. He raises everyone’s play when he’s on the court.”

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