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Fast Break: Kevin Garnett takes care of Joakim Noah 12.03.10 at 10:41 pm ET
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Doc Rivers says it time and time again – watch out if Kevin Garnett comes to the building fired up.

It was clear from the opening tip – when KG fist-pounded every starter on both teams – with one notable exception. He greeted eight starters, then made his way to Keith Bogans, greeted him and wished him well before walking right past Joakim Noah. Garnett – for the most part – productively channeled his dislike for his arch-nemesis.

Garnett had a double-double by halftime and led a defensive charge in the third quarter as the Celtics beat the Bulls, 104-92, Friday night at TD Garden.

Aside from the Celtics winning their sixth straight to improve to an Eastern Conference-best 15-4, the other highlight for the fans was the surreal chants of “SCAL-A-BRINE” several times in the fourth quarter, with the Celtics comfortably ahead.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS:

Garnett was a monster: KG made it clear early he would not be denied, either offensively or on the glass. He finished with 20 points and 17 rebounds in arguably his most energetic game of the year. Garnett only had one true run-in with Noah, getting in Noah’s face after a 10-foot turnaround with 2:24 left in the second quarter. Both players were T’d up but nothing much happened the rest of the way.

Rondo got up: Everyone and their brother and sister went silent with 4:54 left in the third quarter when Rajon Rondo cut through the lane, jumped up in the air on a pass and landed awkwardly. Rondo’s right leg slipped on the landing and his left leg stuck in the floor. He immediately held his left knee and remained on the court about 30 seconds. He got up and stay in the game and immediately hit a 22-foot jumper, showing everyone he was ok.

Turning up the D: Led by Garnett down low and Pierce on the wing, the Celtics showed a dominant defensive effort. After allowing 29 points in the second quarter, the Celtics held the Bulls to 19 in the third, building their lead up to 82-67 after three. The Bulls made just 6-0f-19 from the field in the third quarter as the Celtics got back to basics.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS:

A defenseless bench: When you look at the stat sheet, you see that the Celtics reserves can score with anyone – and they can. It’s the defense that’s troubling, like in the second quarter, when the Bulls shot 53 percent and outscored the C’s 29-22. It’s certainly understandable that without the injured Delonte West and Jermaine O’Neal, the depth isn’t there for the Celtics. But they’re going to need more than just “Sixth Man of the Year” favorite Glen Davis to produce. Semih Erden is still finding his way and managed some very important minutes late in the third and early fourth quarter as Shaquille O’Neal sat on the bench with five fouls. They were lucky that the Bulls bench was just as ineffective. Nate Robinson (sore left foot) was clearly not the same player and Marquis Daniels had eight points in 26 minutes.

Foul trouble: With 9:28 left in the fourth quarter and the Celtics up, 84-70, Glen Davis went to the bench with his fifth foul, joining O’Neal with the same number. That’s not good. Boston’s two best bruisers – and only bruisers – were not available against a Bulls team that relies on finesse and quickness from players like Noah, Luol Deng and of course, Derrick Rose. That played right into the Bulls’ hands.

Leaking leads: Maybe it’s splitting hairs, but for the second straight game, the Celtics built what appeared to be a very comfortable lead at home, leading by 17 in the third quarter and by 15, 82-67, heading into the fourth. The Bulls made a charge early in the fourth. It’s a nasty habit that bears at least some attention, especially on your home court, where the Celtics improved to 9-1 this season.

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Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I’m a Celtic … for as long as I’m coaching’ 12.02.10 at 11:56 am ET
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Doc Rivers (AP)

Doc Rivers (AP)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to discuss some of the most “Heat”ed topics around the NBA and in the Celtics organization. Rivers commented on LeBron James‘ return to Cleveland, Kevin Garnett receiving stitches on his chin, and the C’s win on Wednesday against the Blazers.

“When Ray [Allen] was open, I liked the odds,” Rivers said. “I just think Ray’s got to make shots. I never really panic when Ray’s missing shots, or Paul [Pierce]. I just know they’re great shooters, and great shooters make shots, and eventually they do. They have that occasional game where they miss them all, but I still like the odds whenever [Ray] takes a shot.”

To hear the entire interview with Doc, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Was last night a prime example of which of the following two things (talking about the end of the game): your team’s ability to trust one another, or a great NBA shooter has no conscience whatsoever?

Probably both; I mean really both. The play before that, Ray took a tough shot. Really the play was to get a switch, which we got, and Ray was going to throw it to the post, but Ray thought he was open and jacked it up. You know what, that’s why he’s a great player: because he can go 0 for whatever or one for whatever, and if he’s open he thinks that next shot should go in, and then on the other part of that, Paul Pierce was, what, 9 for 11, and actually had a decent shot, and passed it to Ray who was wide open. So that’s the trust factor.

When that play was about to unfold, and Paul had the option to shoot it or pass it, as the coach which did you prefer he do?

Well when Ray was open, I liked the odds. I just think Ray’s got to make shots. I really never panic when Ray’s missing shots, or Paul. I just know they’re great shooters, and great shooters make shots, and eventually they do. They have that occasional game where they miss them all, but I still like the odds whenever [Ray] takes a shot.

When Danny Ainge took Big Baby in the second round a few years ago, did you know that he was this good? Or did you think it was a stretch at the time? Read the rest of this entry »

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C’s injury bug so bad even Kevin Garnett can’t get home cooking 12.01.10 at 11:44 pm ET
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For now, the injury list is not having an impact on the Celtics record. Doc Rivers knows his luck can only last so long while he moves banged up players in and out of a make-shift rotation. The C’s have the best record in the East at 14-4 following their win over the Trail Blazers Wednesday night at TD Garden.

But that great record is coming with a price – nagging injuries.

And making matters worse Wednesday, the Celtics lost Kevin Garnett for over five minutes in the third quarter when team doctors had trouble closing up a wound under his chin that required five stitches, leading Rivers to wonder openly what in the wide, wide world of sports is going on. For a moment, he thought he was on the road, not on the parquet.

Garnett took an elbow early in the third quarter from Andre Miller and had to leave at the 7:47 mark. He didn’t return until 2:24 remained in the quarter. The Celtics, who trailed 68-62 just moments earlier, were kick-started by KG and finished the quarter on a 13-4 run that gave them the lead for good.

“It usually does,” Rivers said of Garnett’s high-energy impact. “He was pissed because someone hit him in the mouth so you knew he was come either with energy or attacking everybody else on the floor.

“The third quarter was huge because we didn’t want to sub [Shaq] him out. We wanted to wait until Kevin [returned]. Whoever did our stitches, we’re going to have a talk. That was the longest [wait]. I thought we were on the road. That’s what the opposing doctors do. They can’t find the sutures, they take their time.”

And try as he might, Rivers couldn’t get an explanation from chief trainer Ed Lacerte about why it was taking so long to get the cut under Garnett’s chin fixed.

“It did take a long time,” Rivers said. “I kept checking with Eddie, like ‘What’s going on back there?’ That was big for Shaq. He kept saying he could stay in and that was huge for us.”

Not only did O’Neal played the five-minute stretch, he played the first 9 minutes, 36 seconds of the third quarter, until getting a blow when Garnett finally returned to the game.

Rivers said after the game Wednesday that Rajon Rondo‘s strained left hamstring, which Rivers thought was no longer an issue early in the week, started to get sore in the fourth quarter. Then Rivers said that back-up point Nate Robinson has an aching left foot which was bothering him.

“I left Rondo in because Nate’s foot was hurting,” Rivers said. “Rondo’s hamstring was starting to get sore and he was worried that if he came out he couldn’t return. So, the injury thing is really starting to creep up on us a little bit, and it is what it is.”

Robinson confirmed after the game that he’s been dealing with a sore right heel since Nov. 22, when the Celtics beat the Hawks in Atlanta.

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Three point play: Time for Plan B 11.29.10 at 4:25 pm ET
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Doc Rivers (AP)

Doc Rivers (AP)

Barely a month into the season, Doc Rivers is already seeing his plans go up in smoke. The hoped-for scenario, with all the accumulated talent on the roster, was to employ a 10-man rotation, almost in a platoon style. Now that Jermaine O’Neal and Delonte West are out, Rivers is forced to scramble a bit. The Celtics are down to a dozen able-bodied players and three of them are rookies.

“You come into the year with one plan and you got to change the plan sometimes and that’s something we’re doing as a staff,” Rivers said after the team conducted practice Monday. “The 10-man thing is not going to work right now. I believe it’s really important for us to have one because that allows [the starters] to get rest.”

Rivers said the injuries will force him to sub differently and you may see him go to his bench earlier in an attempt to jumpstart the minutes rotation. At the same time, he’s reluctant to leave all of his starters on the bench at any one time without veterans like West and O’Neal to take charge of the second unit.

“I’m just going to have to sub differently,” Rivers said. “It’s not what I wanted to do. The way our starters play, logically, I’d rather extend their minutes together. It’s just not going to work out that way.”

Rajon Rondo is already logging 39 minutes a night and Ray Allen checks in at 38 per game. Allen, Paul Pierce (36 minutes) and Kevin Garnett (33) have all seen their playing time increase from the previous season. Garnett said the veterans are ready for it.

“Everybody on here they’re going to have to be extended, not just us three,” Garnett said. “Guys have to anticipate playing more minutes.”

One player who has suddenly found himself with an unexpected role is Von Wafer, who has seen the court in small doses. Wafer is ahead of rookie Avery Bradley because of his experience, and also his shooting ability. “Obviously we need Von more than Avery in some ways,” Rivers said. “We need the guy to play the 2-spot. Avery can help us.” As for his defense, Rivers said that Wafer is working on it.

West is scheduled to have surgery on his wrist Tuesday and the Celtics will have a better idea how long he will be out after the procedure is performed. As for Jermaine O’Neal, his status is still up in the air. Rivers said that he was out for all of this week and that’s as far as they were willing to look.

Everyone knew injuries would be a part of this year’s team and now it’s time for the first of what could be many Plan B’s.

More practice notes after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

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Kevin Garnett gets his revenge on Andrea Bargnani 11.27.10 at 1:01 am ET
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Call it a lack of respect from certain members of the Raptors, an overwhelming desire to make good on a sub-par performance five days earlier or a kick in the butt from his head coach, Kevin Garnett was a man on a mission Friday night.

After Andrea Bargnani dropped 29 points on the Celtics last Sunday in a 102-101 come-from-behind Raptors win in Toronto, Celtics coach Doc Rivers pulled Garnett aside and essentially told him that can’t happen again. Garnett responded by scoring a season-high 26 points while holding Bargnani to 11 in Garnett’s best two-way game of the season as the Celtics prevailed, 110-101, Friday nigh at TD Garden.

“Doc has different ways of motivating me,” Garnett said. “He pulled me to the side, he wasn’t really happy with Bargnani situation up there and I wasn’t really pleased with that, either. And tonight was more of a concentrated effort to just make sure I kept him under control. It doesn’t take much to motivate me.”

Rivers was far more subtle in his post-game comments but hinted that he saw the KG everyone expected on Friday night.

“Kevin’s energy tonight was off the charts, and you knew it would be, if you know Kevin,” Rivers said. “Because the last time we played them, the guy in his position had a pretty good game, and that’s just Kevin Garnett.”

Then there were the words of Shaquille O’Neal, who hinted that Raptors forward Amir Johnson was talking trash and directing it at KG on the court. Pretty dumb idea, if true.

Garnett said he was inspired by his own fire and Rivers’ words of inspiration.

“It was 50-50 a little bit,” Garnett added. “I didn’t get much sleep [Thursday] night. That’s what it is. I’m going to see Bargnani as long as I’m in the league but I guess the way Doc came at me was the way he wanted it. That’s what he wanted. I likes to see me a little of the chain at times and I don’t mind being like that.”

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Shaquille O’Neal: C’s are ‘best team I’ve been on’ 11.25.10 at 1:33 am ET
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Kevin Garnett had certainly seen this from his frontcourt teammate before.

Garnett was on the Minnesota Timberwolves and Shaquille O’Neal on the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 2000s when O’Neal – along with close friend Kobe Bryant – was leading the Lake Show to three straight NBA titles from 2000-02.

Shaq’s Lakers were always the team KG and the Wolves could never conquer out West. On Wednesday, he was reminded why.

Shaq turned back the clock 10 years, scoring 25 on 9-of-10 shooting from the field while hauling in 11 rebounds in Boston’s 89-83 win over the Nets at TD Garden. O’Neal played nearly 32 minutes, hit his last five shots from the floor and even sank a pair of key free throws which drew as loud a cheer from the sellout crowd as his alley-oop dunk moments earlier.

“Well he has his family in town, so that’s tough to beat,” Garnett said. “I know he’s a huge family guy. His family’s not always with him, so maybe he got like a boost of adrenaline from his family or something, but he looked great I told him.

“But he looked the 2000 Shaq, the ’99 Shaq, the 2001 and 2002 to 2003 to 2004 to 2005 to 2006. He looked fresh tonight. He looked really good. I thought he did a great job of getting us in the bonus early. He definitely was the target tonight and reload him. On this team night in and night out we are going to have a different guy from Truth to Ray to anybody, and tonight he was Shaq.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Kevin Garnett on D&H: ‘I’m not speaking to nobodies’ like Charlie Villanueva 11.18.10 at 12:29 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett

As part of WEEI’s Celtics Thursday, forward Kevin Garnett joined the Dale & Holley show to talk about his resurgence this season. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Garnett has returned to form after struggling for much of last season following knee surgery in May 2009.

“Rest is everything,” Garnett said. “And being healthy is another thing. I don’t like speaking about my own personal health, because everybody in the league has something they’re dealing with, and I was no different from it. Obviously, you can see the difference in the play. I have a little pep in my step, I’ve got a little bounce in my hop. And it feels good.

“A lot of times last year I was playing subpar guys, man, and they were getting by me, doing different things to where I knew that if I was 100 percent, no way that some of those things were happening. To be honest, I’m blessed. It’s something I have to deal with every day. But you can see the difference. You can see the difference. The confidence is there. When you get hurt — one of the things I’ve never had to battle was dealing with health issues to where it damages and messes with your confidence. I’m a very confident person. I would be lying if I said it didn’t test me. But it made me a stronger person mentally.”

The addition of Shaquille O’Neal to the roster brought a unique personality to Boston. The high-intensity Garnett was asked if he agreed that Shaq has lightened the mood in the locker room.

“Unfortunately, I do [agree],” Garnett said. “I don’t like my mood to be lightened too much, man. I like to have an edge. When I take the floor, I like to be a certain way. I don’t do well when I’m giddy and kind of light. I do well when I’m dark and sort of concentrated. When I’m locked in, I look at myself as a threat. I don’t want to be too lighthearted when I go out there. Shaq is the opposite. He likes things light. He likes to keep you laughing. He likes the mood to be light.

“I think from [Doc Rivers'] perspective — or anybody’s perspective — they tend to think that I’m too intense at times. And I can understand that. But hey, man, this is my makeup. This is who I am. This is what I’ve been for a long time. It’s gotten me to this point. Like anybody else’s personality it’s who they are. This is my makeup. This is who I am.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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