|Celtics vs. Lakers: Just Another Game?||02.18.10 at 12:18 am ET|
To Rajon Rondo, a trip to the Staples Center in the middle of February feels the same as a stop at any other arena.
He sees a basketball court, not the banners hanging above it. And regardless of the rivalry against the home team, he is simply focused on leaving with a win.
“It’s not like a championship game,” he explained. “It’s not a series. It’s one game. It helps our record or hurts our record, one way or the other. It’s another game.”
On Thursday, the Celtics will take on the Lakers in their final match up of the regular season. The last time the teams met on Jan. 31, the C’s blew an 11-point fourth quarter lead and watched Kobe Bryant sink a game-winner with 7.3 seconds left.
In spite of the desire to avenge their loss, Rondo’s right. This isn’t a championship game. In fact, at this point in the season it is more about the Celtics vs. themselves rather than the Celtics vs. the Lakers.
The C’s have been their own worst enemy lately, surrendering leads and making mistakes down the stretch. This game against Los Angeles, the second stop on a four-game West Coast road trip, will be a test for them to get back to Celtics basketball after a recent departure.
“It’s important,“ Paul Pierce said of the entire road trip. “We want to go out there and start playing better, start playing more consistent basketball. We know it’s a tough trip, and maybe this is a chance for us to get out on the road and get ourselves back together because we really struggled over the last month-and-a-half.”
The loss to the Lakers capped off a three-game losing streak and a month of January in which the Celtics went 6-8. They entered the All-Star Break on a two-game skid, still struggling to put together 48 minutes of basketball.
A win over the Lakers would give them momentum to jumpstart the second half of the season. They narrowly edged the 18-win Kings on Tuesday night and will face the playoff contending Trail Blazers, Nuggets, and Cavaliers over the course of the next week.
“Next is down to business,” said Kevin Garnett. “Obviously trying to play better, consistent basketball for the Celtics and being productive. So that’s what’s next for us.”
|KG video: ‘It’s unpleasant’||02.07.10 at 7:10 pm ET|
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett reacted to Sunday’s 96-89 loss to the Orlando Magic.
“It’s unpleasant,” Garnett said. “We don’t like that at all. Our goal is to establish home court and try to add that as an advantage and we really haven’t done that consistently, at least against good teams.”
|Van Gundy won’t ‘bury’ Pierce, KG in All-Star Game||at 4:14 pm ET|
The temptation is there for Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy. As coach of the East in the NBA All-Star Game on Valentine’s Day, he knows he’ll have three Celtics at his beck and call. He would love to play them a lot, put a few more miles on their tires.
But with the two teams squaring off Sunday at the Garden, a week before the big game at Cowboys Stadium, he doesn’t see much point in wearing out Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo so Celtics coach Doc Rivers doesn’t have to worry too much.
“He’s got a better chance of me resting his guys because we don’t play him again. So, if we played him the week after the All-Star Game, they’d all go about 42 minutes,” Van Gundy joked before Sunday’s game. “But with us not playing them again, I can’t get much out of burying them.”
But seriously, Van Gundy has the challenge every coach in every sport has in an in-season All-Star Game. How do you manage players on competing teams in an exhibition game that means nothing in the standings?
“I would plan to get together with all of them, but particularly I know Paul and Kevin have had injury concerns and see where they are.”
[Click here to hear Van Gundy dish on the Celtics and the All-Star Game.]
So, in doing his homework, Van Gundy is consulting the Celtics — specifically assistant coach Mike Longabardi.
“I just told Michael Longbardi to make sure if Doc has concerns that he lets me know, too, ahead of time,” Van Gundy said.
“I’m not looking to hurt anybody, and at the same time, obviously, Kevin was voted into the game by the fans and Paul’s a perennial All-Star, so fans are going to want to see those guys, so you can’t play them five or six minutes. Particularly Kevin as a starter, he’s got to put in some minutes, but we’ll see where they are and where Doc is.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Ian Thomsen on D&C: C’s need to adjust game||02.01.10 at 11:08 am ET|
Sports Illustrated NBA writer Ian Thomsen made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Celtics’ recent woes. He explored the team’s current struggles, whether the Big Three still has the legs to mount a championship run, whether the team might consider a major deal along the lines of a trade of Ray Allen or whether a move to acquire a player such as Kirk Hinrich of the Bulls could help the team to pull out of its current funk.
Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, click here.
How quickly is the window closing?
It’s going to close fast if they don’t make the adjustments they need to make. They aren’t themselves, and I’m talking about [Kevin] Garnett especially, and [Paul] Pierce a little bit, and even Ray Allen. They’re just going to need to adjust the way they play, to try to make the best of it while they get through this transition. If they still think they can win a championship, they can’t do it the way they are playing now. They have to sort of do a transitional style to get them to March and April with a chance to win it.
Meaning what? Get new people?
Garnett needs to be more of a center right now. He’s not himself. He’s not beating guys down the floor in transition. [Lakers coach] Phil Jackson brought that up yesterday. He needs to be more that post-up guy, play a little bit more inside, they can play the ball through him. He needs to figure out what he can do and do that. Because what he’s doing now isn’t very productive.
They’ve been outscored in the fourth quarter in 12 of their last 14 games. Is that age and injury?
It’s age and injury, and I really think they’re asking too much of Rajon Rondo in his [fourth] year to be doing so much, to be carrying them, playing a lot of minutes, and then to lead them in the fourth quarters the way he’s been having to do. I think he’s come a long way, he’s a terrific player, he’s going to be even better in a couple of years. But right now they’re asking too much of him.
A lot of it just doesn’t make sense. The team doesn’t make sense, when you look at the hierarchy. Think about two years ago. When you looked at the stats for the season, it just all made sense the way the shots were divvied out, the order of things. And they don’t have that order right now. Rondo’s a big part of the offense as a point guard who is not a great shooter. Really, it all just comes down to not having Garnett be himself, and he’s got to figure out some way to be productive right now.
|KG still finding his way||01.31.10 at 5:06 pm ET|
BOSTON — It’s pretty obvious Kevin Garnett is not the same player he was two years ago when he was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the centerpiece of Boston’s run to a 17th NBA title.
Surgery to remove bone spurs behind his right knee last summer and a hyperextended right knee suffered late in December has slowed his return to form.
Doc Rivers still believes Garnett can get back to the top defensively — hopefully taking the Celtics along for the ride. More than that, he still expects it.
“I can [expect Garnett back to form], but not right now,” Rivers said conditionally. “But really, none of our guys who have come back, you can’t hold any of them to their normal standards right now. Our biggest issue with our injuries is that they’re healthy but they’re not ready to play basketball at this level yet.
“Paul [Pierce] had his first big game in Atlanta since he’s been back. Kevin is still [getting back]. The key is you still have to play them the minutes. The only way they’re going to get back is by keeping them on the floor and let them get their minutes. The tough part is while you’re doing that, the team struggles a little bit.”
[Click here to hear Doc Rivers talk about Garnett's return.]
Rivers has maintained all along that the Celtics need Garnett back to form late in the spring — when the season truly is on the line. In the meantime, they’ll have to live with the inconsistencies.
“I think he can do it,” Rivers said of Garnett returning to form. “The No. 1 thing is getting them back to that level. I just think it’s more timing. When you look at Kevin, it’s amazing watching him. The Orlando game, his timing was completely off the entire game. Then the Atlanta game, all of sudden he had good timing.
“I just think it’s going to be that way for a while. The guy it’s most frustrating to is him because he’s knows it. The Orlando game at halftime, I thought he was going to beat himself up if he could, because he knew it. He was trying to talk himself into slowing down. I was just telling him, ‘Just play. It is what it is. It’s going to happen for you. You just have to keep playing.’ ”
|Car & Driver: Garnett cruises through practice||01.24.10 at 6:25 pm ET|
WALTHAM – No, Doc Rivers didn’t have a 1976 Pinto in his younger years. He had a Buick Skylark.
“I didn’t have a Pinto, that’s for sure,” Rivers said Sunday, two days after Kevin Garnett compared himself to a mid-’70s Pinto. “I didn’t have a back seat in my car, but that’s good. I was driving in front.
“It was burned somehow. Mysteriously, the back seat caught on fire and my dad wouldn’t replace it. So, I had to drive around with a Skylark. It only had the front seat. You could see the trunk through the back seat. No double dates. So, that’s that my car story. It smelled like smoke and that’s the way it was.”
Garnett apparently was on to something when he drew an analogy to an old beat-up mid-’70s economy car to describe his physical condition following Friday’s game — his first since a hyperextended right knee forced him to the sideline for 10 games.
“Some minor adjustments to it and it’s ready to roll,” Garnett said. “Tires changed, transmission checked and everything is pretty much where it needs to be. But at the same time, it’s still, it’s a ’76 vs. a ’10. That’s what it is.”
That was Garnett’s way of saying he had a little bit of rust but feels ready to get back to action on Monday after scoring 13 points, hauling in two rebounds and dishing out three assists in 30 minutes of action in Friday’s overtime win against Portland.
|Rivers doesn’t plan to limit Garnett’s minutes||01.23.10 at 3:11 pm ET|
WALTHAM — After Kevin Garnett played 30 minutes in his return from a knee injury, Doc Rivers said he will not limit his playing time. Garnett practiced with the Celtics on Saturday and Rivers will continue to keep him on the court.
“Someone asked me before the game if there was a minute restriction, and there wasn’t,” Rivers said. “Again, this was something totally different from last year’s injury. That’s why we were really not concerned about the minutes. Our whole concern with him minute-wise was more conditioning. It had nothing to do with the knee.”
Garnett scored 13 points (4-9 FG, 5-5 FT) and grabbed four rebounds in his first game back on Friday against the Trail Blazers since hyperextending his knee in December.
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