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The Three-Pointer: Celtics aching for Kevin Garnett 01.11.11 at 12:34 am ET
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And that’s why the Celtics need a healthy Kevin Garnett.

Garnett missed his seventh straight game as a result of the calf he strained during a game in Detroit on Dec. 29, and sooner or later his absence was bound to catch up to the Celtics. Coincidence or not, it happened on the night Garnett was rumored to return.

He didn’t, and the Celtics lost 108-102 to the Rockets, who had suffered five straight defeats entering the game and suited up without Yao Ming or Kevin Martin in uniform.

Houston did, however, have one very good power forward in the lineup (Luis Scola) and a pair of budding big men (Patrick Patterson and Jordan Hill), who combined for 34 points and 21 rebounds. You think that’s happening on Kevin Garnett’s watch?

“We just weren’t ready,” said Doc Rivers. “I told our guys I thought overall it was probably our worst defensive effort in three, four years as far as overall effort.”

For all that Glen Davis has done exceedingly well this season — and he has exceeded expectations — he’s no Kevin Garnett. That’s not breaking news or anything. But in Garnett’s absence, the Celtics have relied too much on Davis, and as a result he’s tried to do too much.

Starting in place of Garnett over the past seven games, Davis has shot just 41 percent (41-of-100) and grabbed more than five rebounds only once while averaging 35.7 minutes. In 30 games off the bench this season, he had been shooting 48 percent and averaging more than five rebounds in 28.5 minutes a game. Quite simply, he’s no longer doing the “garbage man” things that made him a contender for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.

“He’s getting too many minutes, quite honestly,” added Rivers. “Thirty-eight minutes is too many for Baby. We don’t have a lot of options right now. Luke [Harangody]’s playing okay, but we may have to go small. That’s too many minutes, and that’s on me. Baby should play more in the 30-range, because I think the fatigue is bothering him.”

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Ray Allen dealing with a ‘sore’ left shoulder 01.10.11 at 11:58 pm ET
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Everyone who saw Ray Allen sprawled on the court with 10:56 left in the fourth quarter Monday night had the same thought – Oh no, not again. The Celtics have already had two starters miss significant time with significant injuries as Kevin Garnett hopes to come back Wednesday night from a strained right calf and Rajon Rondo continues to play through sore feet.

As for Allen, he said he will need a night of sleep and then see how he feels after taking a vicious hit on a pick early in the fourth quarter of Monday’s loss to Houston.

“I just took a hard hit, and kind of collapsed on the side,” Allen said of the screen set with 10:56 left in the fourth. “I’m sore, I’ll feel it [Tuesday]. My shoulder but kind of my side, you got so much adrenaline running that you don’t really feel it, once I got in the back I felt it.”

Allen added that he didn’t think it was a legal screen since – as he said, “The rule states that, if there’s a screen set, you have to give the person a chance to see the screen and then move out the way. I didn’t even know the screen was there and when I went to step I just hit the screen, and it caught me like on the side of my hip.”

Allen, who matched Marquis Daniels with a team-high 19 points, did return with 5:40 left in the game and hit a big three-pointer with 2:04 left to pull the Celtics to within seven, 106-99.

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Irish Coffee: Celtics’ shooting aim historically high at 1:42 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

In the past 20 seasons, only a handful of teams have shot at least .500 from the field for an entire season. Despite shooting just .378 against the Bulls on Saturday night, the Celtics are still shooting .502 as a team this year, keeping pace with some pretty remarkable company historically.

Here are the teams that have shot better than .500 for an entire season since 1991-92:

  • 1994-95 Utah Jazz (.512)
  • 1991-92 Chicago Bulls (.508)
  • 1991-92 Golden State Warriors (.507)
  • 2008-09 Phoenix Suns (.504)
  • 1996-97 Utah Jazz (.504)
  • 1994-95 Orlando Magic (.502)
  • 2007-08 Phoenix Suns (.500)

There are plenty of conclusions to draw based on that list. Here are a few:

  • Of those seven teams, two — the 1991-92 NBA champion Bulls and 1994-95 Magic — reached the NBA Finals.
  • The guys who those offenses ran through: Michael Jordan, John Stockton, Steve Nash, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Hardaway — which means Rajon Rondo would join some pretty remarkable players.
  • The fact that the 1984-85 Lakers shot .545 from the field for the season is simply ridiculous.
  • The last time the Celtics eclipsed .500 was in 1990-91, when Larry Bird & Co. shot .512 for the season.

The overwhelming positive for the Celtics is that they’re only allowing their opponents to shoot .437 from the field — better than any of the seven teams on that list. Six of those teams let their opponents shoot better than .450, and only the 1996-97 Jazz came close to this year’s C’s, allowing their opponents to shoot .438 from the field.

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What to watch for on the Celtics homestand 01.09.11 at 12:19 am ET
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Kevin Garnett is on the way back for the Celtics. (AP Image).

Last season, while in the midst of a depressing spring swoon, the schedule gods handed the Celtics a gift: six straight games at TD Garden to help them right their sinking ship. There were two problems. First, the Celtics simply weren’t very good at the Garden last season (for whatever reason) and second, they played five playoff teams including the Thunder, Spurs and Cavaliers.

The Celtics actually did all right for themselves, splitting those six games and winning an emotional game over the Cavs on Easter Sunday that served as a rallying point when they ultimately faced them in the playoffs. But there were also some ugly setbacks, such as a 21-point loss to San Antonio and the memorable Kevin Durant gets calls like Michael Bleeping Jordan game (in the words of Kevin Garnett).

Ultimately their six-game homestand was neither defining nor damning. It simply was another signpost in the Celtics up and down 2010.

This season, however, the expectations are much different. The Celtics are rolling (or were rolling until the Bulls wiped them out Saturday night in an ugly, defensive game) and they are playing much better at the Garden where their 16-2 record is tops in the Eastern Conference and tied for first in the loss column with the Spurs, who are 19-2 at home.

The Celtics will also get the benefit of playing four teams who are under .500. They get the Rockets, Kings and Bobcats this week and the Pistons in between visits from Orlando and Utah next week and it’s a golden opportunity for the Celtics to continue to pad their record. Even with Saturday night’s loss to the Bulls, at 28-8 the Celtics still hold a one-game lead on Miami for the best conference record and are four games ahead of Chicago and Orlando in the loss column for second.

Here are five things to look for on this homestand: Read the rest of this entry »

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Injury updates on Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West 01.07.11 at 7:27 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett

The Celtics received some good news on the injury front Friday. Doc Rivers said Kevin Garnett would be back next week, possibly as early as Monday when they play the Rockets.

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.”

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Danny Ainge on The Big Show: ‘One of best games Rondo’s ever played’ 01.06.11 at 5:06 pm ET
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Danny Ainge (AP)

Celtics president Danny Ainge joined The Big Show to talk about Wednesday’s night victory over the Spurs, the importance of Jermaine O’Neal and who among the big four is the most irreplaceable. Ainge called Rajon Rondo’s performance, “one of the best games Rondo’s ever played,” but Ainge was more impressed by his defense against Tony Parker, than his triple-double stat line.

“Not only did he control the game offensively — he had a lot of assists last night because Ray [Allen] was shooting the ball so well. His numbers can be deceiving. His defense against Tony Parker, he was fighting through the screens. I think the two games he played prior to that he was just out there. I don’t think he was playing 100 percent. I don’t think he could. He was just out there just to get us in our offense. It was helpful but he wasn’t playing the defense like he did.”

Ainge also noted Allen’s night, in which the veteran sharpshooter made 13-of-16 shots with many coming off the same play. “I don’t know who else in the league can do what Ray did last night. Just catching and shooting going away from the basket off down screens, other than guys like Reggie Miller and Dale Ellis, there really aren’t that many guys that are proficient at it.”

Here are more highlights from the interview: Read the rest of this entry »

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Glen Davis: I love Doc Rivers but wish he would ‘pipe it down sometimes’ 01.05.11 at 11:42 pm ET
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After the Celtics survived the NBA-best San Antonio Spurs by two points on Wednesday night, Glen Davis wanted to share a different kind of family story – the one involving his head coach.

Following his most productive night of the season in the scoring column, Davis said coach Doc Rivers continues to give him plenty of tough love this season. But Davis added that Rivers is working with him this season harder than ever to get the most out of him.

“He has, he has worked with me,” Davis said after scoring a season-best 23 on 10-of-18 shooting from the field. “He’s given me the opportunity to show what I got. He is still hard on me. He’s still hard. It’s like a love hate thing. It’s like you love it but pipe it down sometimes.”

Asked to describe their relationship, Davis – who detailed his new role as father in December -said it’s a very complicated, but effective one.

“For sure father son, like step-son,” Davis said of Rivers. “He loves me. But it’s like I still love you, but I’m hard on you. It is what it is.”

Davis and Rivers got into a heated argument on New Year’s Eve when the Celtics lost to the Hornets at the Garden, with Davis missing an ill-advised three-pointer to tie it late. Rivers afterward said Davis was guilty of playing too much “hero-ball.”

But then there was the loving part of their relationship, which Rivers clearly showed after Wednesday’s dramatic win, not possible, according to Rivers, without him.

“I’ve been saying it all year, he’s been terrific,” Rivers said. “Baby has his days but overall, he’s had very few of them. He’s been terrific all year. He’s had a tremendous team attitude in a contract year, which is very difficult. I don’t think he gets enough credit for that part of it. The only time he gets himself in trouble is when he forgets he’s Glen Davis, and I don’t know how you can forget something that big, personally.”

Rivers didn’t stop there, maintaining the team’s 27-7 mark wouldn’t be possible without Davis.

“He’s just been fantastic,” said the Celtics coach. “Our record is where it’s at because Glen Davis is on our basketball team. The minutes, playing him at four, playing him at five, he’s just turned into a terrific player for us.”

Speaking of contract, Davis is in the final year of a two-year, $6.3 million deal, a situation Davis said he’s not worried about – for now. When owner Wyc Grousbeck and GM Danny Ainge are ready, Davis will be ready to listen.

“Contract? You know what, I’m going to be honest with you,” Davis began. “Do you think about your job? You do, right. Man, I hope I get that next bonus or that next check. You have to think about it but you try to stay within yourself and the team and know that it’s going to happen. You have to control yourself. You can’t control what Danny or Wyc might put on the table. You just have to control yourself. That’s what I’ve come to realize. You have to keep wishing and don’t worry about that kind of stuff.”

Paul Pierce is no father figure to Davis. Instead, the big brother can appreciate what Davis has done in Kevin Garnett‘s absence.

“He’s given us a big spark for us playing for Kevin, the things he’s given us off the bench as a sixth man, probably the best sixth man in basketball right now if you ask me,” Pierce said. “He’s doing a lovely job at that, we’re asking him to do so many jobs, things that Kevin does, asking him to duplicate what Kevin does, but defensively he’s really given us a spark, offensively the way he spreads the floor. I just get on him a little bit, when it comes to rebounding but he’s playing great”

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