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Jermaine O’Neal on D&H: Surgery a consideration for ailing knee 01.13.11 at 2:09 pm ET
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Jermaine O'Neal

Celtics big man Jermaine O’Neal checked in with the Dale & Holley show Thursday as part of the show’s Celtic of the Week interview series. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

O’Neal has been struggling with his surgically repaired left knee the entire season, and he’s been limited to 17 games. “For the most part, it’s been a frustrating first part of the year,” he acknowledged. “I do understand where I’m at. I understand what we’re dealing with. We actually had a little evaluation this morning about something that may or may not be done to kind of just put a couple of scenarios behind me.”

O’Neal said another meeting was scheduled for Thursday afternoon with doctors and Danny Ainge, so they can make a decision on the treatment plan. O’Neal indicated surgery definitely is in his future, but he’s hoping it can wait until after the season.

“[Surgery] was definitely something that we talked about the first time I was out for an extended period of time,” he said. “We wanted to try a couple of options. And we may be looking at that situation now. It’s something that I will eventually need at some point, at the end of the season or in the season, but you want to be around. You don’t want to miss an extended period of time. I already did that. So, you make your decisions as a player. You listen to the staff, and if they have a certain way, then you try that. And if that doesn’t work, you’ve got to go with the next best scenario.”

Despite the injury troubles, O’Neal gushed about how much he’s enjoyed playing in Boston. “This is a very enjoyable time for me,” he said. “Sometimes when you’re not doing some of the things you’re used to, sometimes you look at it as a negative. But I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had so many enjoyable teammates. so many enjoyable personnel as far as the coaching staff, and just so many enjoyable people throughout the city that really makes it easy to be here, and no matter what you’re going through, it makes it fun.

“It’s funny, because me and Kevin [Garnett] were just talking over the last couple of weeks, and we were talking last night actually about the ability to pick a teammate up when he’s sort of down and make him feel like nothing else matters. You know, We love you and we want you here. That’s how we approach it every day.”

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Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett passed in latest All-Star voting at 1:35 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett have been passed by Derrick Rose and Amar’e Stoudemire, respectively, in the latest round of All-Star voting numbers released by the league. Rondo and Garnett have had slim leads over their counterparts since the returns started coming in, but Rose and Stoudemire have been making steady gains each week.

The Eastern Conference starters right now are: Dwyane Wade and Rose at guards, LeBron James and Stoudemire as forwards and Dwight Howard at center.

The West lines up with: Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant at guard, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony at forward and Yao Ming, who is injured, at center. Final results will be announced in two weeks.

Here’s the latest voting:

Eastern Conference

Forwards: LeBron James (Mia) 1,518,807; Amar’e Stoudemire (NYK) 1,143,391; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 1,049,544; Paul Pierce (Bos) 578,473; Chris Bosh (Mia) 427,551; Carlos Boozer (Chi) 320,661; Josh Smith (Atl) 280,158; Danilo Gallinari (NYK) 259,619; Danny Granger (Ind) 201,653; Luol Deng (Chi) 191,312.

Guards: Dwyane Wade (Mia) 1,499,768; Derrick Rose (Chi) 1,225,575; Rajon Rondo (Bos) 1,171,311; Ray Allen (Bos) 630,588; John Wall (Was) 260,893; Brandon Jennings (Mil) 254,614; Raymond Felton (NYK) 246,208; Gilbert Arenas (Orl) 240,586; Jamal Crawford (Atl) 163,971, Darren Collison (Ind) 156,230.

Centers: Dwight Howard (Orl) 1,537,619; Shaquille O’Neal (Bos) 639,661; Joakim Noah (Chi) 291,107; Andrew Bogut (Mil) 245,253; Al Horford (Atl) 193,449; Roy Hibbert (Ind) 183,092; Andrea Bargnani (Tor) 162,364; Brook Lopez (NJ) 125,022; JaVale McGee (Was) 106,710; Ben Wallace (Det) 79,017.

Western Conference

Forwards: Kevin Durant (OKC) 1,270,729; Carmelo Anthony (Den) 945,720; Pau Gasol (LAL) 851,456; Blake Griffin (LAC) 702,784; Tim Duncan (SA) 663,487; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 615,243; Lamar Odom (LAL) 364,950; Luis Scola (Hou) 347,986; Kevin Love (Min) 301,529; Caron Butler (Dal) 205,146.

Guards: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,757,216; Chris Paul (NOH) 949,049; Manu Ginobili (SA) 593,718; Steve Nash (Pho) 522,215; Deron Williams (Utah) 487,887; Russell Westbrook (OKC) 463,250; Tony Parker (SA) 355,993; Jason Kidd (Dal) 303,164; Vince Carter (Pho) 277,430; Kevin Martin (Hou) 266,037.

Centers: Yao Ming (Hou) 928,928; Andrew Bynum (LAL) 660,576; Nene (Den) 389,263; Marc Gasol 352,136; Emeka Okafor (NOH) 317,677; Brendan Haywood (Dal) 276,777; Marcus Camby (Por) 201,133; Chris Kaman (LAC) 165,684; Andris Biedrins (GS) 126,567; DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 110,230.

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Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I’m against what the Jets are doing’ at 10:55 am ET
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Doc Rivers said Kevin Garnett is 'very close' to a return from a strained calf. (AP)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning, following Wednesday’s night’s 119-95 rout of the Kings. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Rivers started the conversation by giving his opinion of the trash-talking going on in the lead-up to Sunday’s Patriots-Jets playoff game. He said, “I can’t wait for the game,” but he didn’t support the Jets’ disrespectful comments. “It’s stuff obviously I don’t like,” he said. “But it’s who they are. And that’s what they’ve been all year. … I’m against what the Jets are doing, because I do think it — I don’t know if it motivates you, but it may give you that extra, a little bit more, so who knows?”

The Celtics snapped a two-game losing streak with Wednesday’s win. It followed Monday’s 108-102 loss to the Rockets in which the Celtics’ effort was lacking, according to Rivers. “In an 82-game season, you’re going have some of those [letdowns],” he said. “I didn’t feel like we would have one last night, because of what happened against Houston. … I just thought we’d be ready last night.”

Kevin Garnett remains out after straining his right calf two weeks ago vs. the Pistons. “He is day-to-day, very close, but just not ready yet,” Rivers said.

Rivers said he feels sympathy for Cavaliers coach Byron Scott, whose team was hammered by the Lakers, 112-57, in losing for the 21st time in 22 games on Tuesday. However, he doesn’t think LeBron James deserves the type of criticism he’s received for abandoning Cleveland.

“No it’s not unfair,” he said. “It was legal. He became a free agent and he left. And there’s nothing wrong with what he did. What did they have, seven years, in LeBron’s mind to get it right, to get him the players he wanted for them to win. And in his opinion, they never did that. And so, he had every right to do what he did. Obviously, you knew if LeBron left it would wreak havoc on that team, and it has. It tells you one thing, is how good LeBron was. He’s the only guy that really left the team, and man, it’s amazing what’s happened.”

Rivers raved about the iPad, which he uses to watch video and check stats. “It is absolutely amazing how often I’m on it,” he said. “Way too much.”

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Kevin Garnett likely out two more games 01.12.11 at 7:12 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett

The original prognosis for Kevin Garnett‘s return from a strained calf was two weeks. Now it appears that it will take a little longer. Garnett won’t play tonight against the Kings, as expected, but Doc Rivers sounded pessimistic about whether Garnett would be ready to go Friday against the Bobcats. That puts Monday’s game with the Magic as the new target date.

“Eddie [Lacerte, the team's trainer] and I talked about it yesterday and it will really depend on what we do [Thursday],” Rivers said. “My guess [for Friday] is no, because after that we have two days off. My thinking right now, unless he comes out and practices the whole practice and looks great, is probably off Friday too and then probably [play] Monday.”

Rivers is aware that people are questioning the nature of Garnett’s injury, but he insisted that nothing has changed except the timeline. “There’s no conspiracy here or anything like that,” Rivers said. “He’s just taking a little longer than we wanted it to, but it’s not a big deal.”

While Rivers insisted that he’s not concerned that the injury is worse than originally feared, he is concerned about Garnett’s mental state.

“With Kevin because he’s so emotional, you just want to make sure he doesn’t get down about stuff,” Rivers said. “That’s where I’m always concerned with him. Starting with the, ‘Why is this happening to me,’ stuff and you don’t want him to go there, because it’s not a bad injury. But he doesn’t like missing games.”

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The trouble with injury timelines 01.11.11 at 5:21 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett is on the way back for the Celtics. (AP Image).

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.”

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Kevin Garnett doubtful for Wednesday against the Kings at 3:08 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett is likely to remain out on Wednesday. (AP)

WALTHAM — Celtics forward Kevin Garnett did not take part in his team’s practice on Tuesday, and it is unlikely that he will play on Wednesday when the Celtics are scheduled to host Sacramento.

He’s just not ready yet,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s close, very close. I think he wants to play but I just don’t think he should play yet.”

The Celtics won’t have a shootaround before Wednesday’s game, which is another indication that Garnett won’t play against the Kings. “I doubt he plays. There’s a chance but I doubt it,” said Rivers, who called Garnett day-to-day.

Garnett has been out since suffering a left calf strain against the Pistons on Dec. 29. Including that contest, the Celtics are 4-4 without Garnett, and his absence was felt acutely by teammates during their 108-102 loss to the Rockets on Monday.

In 30 games this year, Garnett is averaging 15.0 points and 9.5 boards a game while shooting a career-best 53.9 percent from the floor.

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With an eye on big picture, Doc Rivers admits ‘I don’t like where we’re at right now’ at 2:16 am ET
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Sure, Monday was a very distasteful and bitter pill to swallow for the Celtics. But really what concerned Doc Rivers afterward was how he felt his team approached the game.

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 »

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