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Irish Coffee: Early Celtics blow could stun Heat 04.27.11 at 12:33 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

The more I hear from the Heat locker room and see from them on the court, the more confidence I have that they’ll cave the first opportunity they get. If the Celtics throw the first punch, it could be a knockout.

I fully expect the Heat to advance to Round 2, whether or not they blow another close-out opportunity on Wednesday night. Beyond that? I just can’t see them winning four times in a seven-game series against the Celtics.

Why? Listen to the types of statements the Heat’s stars have made in the last few days alone …

There’s this from Dwyane Wade: “The starting unit is not that [high energy] kind of lineup, and we understand that. But we do have to start off better, so we’ve got to do different things, myself and LeBron. We’ve got to be the ones to put the effort in those guys.”

I didn’t realize you could just put effort in people. I wish they did that at City Hall, so I didn’t have to wait in lines all day there. News flash Dwyane: It’s not that your other teammates aren’t trying — they’re just not that good.

This from LeBron James: “Throughout me and D-Wade’s career, we have always been kind of feel out the game first and then go from there. The both of us are going to play with more effort, more aggression and not feel the game out as much to start the game and see how that works, because our first quarters haven’t been the best.”

James hasn’t been putting forth his best effort? Forgive me for being naive, but don’t most guys play full-tilt at all times in the playoffs? Do you think Kevin Garnett has to say, “Maybe I should start playing with more effort”?

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat
NBA playoff picture, in a snapshot 04.26.11 at 6:46 pm ET
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Believe it or not, as of Tuesday afternoon, the Celtics are the only team that has finished its first-round series. While they await their first day of practice on Wednesday, NBA fans in Boston get a chance to watch what should be one of the most exciting playoffs in league history. Here’s a brief snapshot of the current playoff picture …

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Miami Heat 3, Philadelphia 76ers 1

  • Heat  97, 76ers 89
  • Heat 94, 76ers 73
  • Heat 100, 76ers 94
  • 76ers 86, Heat 82

LeBron James & Co. are just trying to finish this series, so they can get their shot at the Celtics. The problem? The Heat are still struggling with chemistry and — as a result — have a 0-1 record in close-out games so far. Meanwhile, 76ers coach Doug Collins is just glad to get another game of playoff experience under his young team’s belt.

Heat forward Chris Bosh: ‘€œWe’€™re going to have to trust each other. We’€™ve been talking about trust all this time, so we’€™re going to have to actually do it when it counts the most. It’€™s easy to stress when you’€™re up 2-0, 3-0. … When it’€™s time to close and it’€™s time to get to those other elite teams, and we’€™re going to have a chance to compete against them, we have to do the same thing well, not the same thing we did [Sunday].’€

Sixers coach Doug Collins: “I’m sure Doc Rivers hopes we take the Heat to triple overtime in Game 7. No question about that. One thing about the playoffs, especially when you are a team that has a lot of games under the belt, you want series to go as little time as possible.”

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Read More: Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, NBA playoffs
Even Ray Allen finds it hard to believe how open he was 03.05.11 at 12:12 am ET
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Ray Allen could only imagine what Warriors fans were thinking when he was unconscious in the first half, drilling all four 3-point attempts on his was to 20 points and a 64-53 Celtics lead at the break.

‘€œWell, I think I’€™m the one guy that you look up and ask yourself, ‘How did he get so wide open in the corner?’ I think that everybody is thinking that ‘€“ everybody in the Bay Area is thinking that early in the game,” said Allen, who finished with 27 in Boston’s 107-103 win over those defenseless Warriors.

“You don’€™t really look at Paul [Pierce] and he’€™s wide open, and Jeff [Green] was wide open several times, Nenad [Krstic] was open a couple times; when Rondo get to the basket, I think that’€™s as the result of all the guys on the floor and the plays that we run.”

Good thing Allen’s sore right knee healed in time so he could play. But ice and a stat sheet that shows that Golden State is 28th of 30 NBA teams in points allowed can make you healthy in a hurry.

‘€œHe shoots the ball pretty well most days,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He’€™s just an amazing shooter, he really is. And what’€™s more amazing is how many times he’€™s wide open. It’€™s just remarkable when you think about it, the Reggie Millers, I’€™ve been on teams where before the game the coach is, ‘€˜Do not give this guy an open shot’€™ and you turn around and he’€™s standing there all by himself. It’€™s just amazing how they find the open spots.’€

“You just make sure you run, make a sharp cut, stay spaced, and if a team has to double, you know that someone has to be open,” Allen explained.

But you get open with great defense. And when Monta Ellis wasn’t lighting up the Celtics as part of a 41-point night [matching Kobe Bryant for most by an opponent this year], the Celtics were playing enough defensive to allow them to get out in transition.

“The defensive end is really where it starts because when we get stops like that and we force them to miss, and then I’€™m gone. I don’€™t even wait, I just get to the corner. They have to get to the paint, and Rondo, he knows where I’€™m at so I just have to make sure that I’€™m ready.’€

As for that bothersome knee, he wasn’t out on a driving range on Thursday but rather just resting. “Driving range? Who said that?”

Informed it was his coach, Allen replied, “And where am I going to hit golf balls at?”

He then turned slightly more serious when asked just how sore were his legs to require a day off from practice.

“My knee was bothering me a little bit. I just had a little bit of soreness in there that I worked through over the last day and a half,” Allen said. “Coming in this morning, it felt similar and I was kind of taking it hour-by-hour and seeing how it felt when I got down here and when I got down here, it felt better.

“This morning I just came in and got treatment and just try to play it by ear. That’s why I have a suit on in case I was on the bench. I honestly thought when I came down here, there might be a chance but I came down here as usual to be ready to play. It’s hard from one day to the next and then the day before say, ‘I’m not playing tomorrow’ because you feel a little soreness. You have to get in there and really put your body to the test and get it better. I got treatment and ice and by the time I got down here, I shot and felt a lot better and here I am.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Jeff Green, Kobe Bryant
Irish Coffee: Celtics’ NBA All-Star Weekend in quotes 02.21.11 at 12:05 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Celtics Ray Allen and Paul Pierce may have lost to overlooked Heat forward James Jones in the final round of the 3-Point Contest, and more heralded Miami forward Lebron James (29 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) might have singlehandedly played Allen, Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo (28 points, 12 rebounds, 14 assists) even at the NBA All-Star Game, but all was not lost.

After sorting through all 29,562, 317 interviews from the All-Star festivities, I present the weekend in quotes …

Kevin Garnett (via USA Today): “I’m far from dirty. Dirty is like hate. Don’t use that word. I’m competitive, and I play hard, but don’t call me dirty. Just like if you dislike me, dislike me. ‘Hate’ is a very strong word, just like ‘dirty’ is a very strong word.”

Garnett (via CBS Sports): “All-Star weekend is a chance for all players to sit down and relax. Get to know one another. I don’€™t like the word ‘fraternizing’ and I don’€™t like the word ‘fronting’. It’€™s the one time that we get to socialize and be friendly, I don’€™t think it’€™s fronting, I think everybody is sort of in a relaxed state.”

Garnett (via NBA.com): “Look here, I don’€™t play for the Phoenix Suns. I could care less what Spike [Lee] or whoever else has to say about me. As long as Doc Rivers and my organization is happy with what I’€™m doing, I could care less. …

“If I’€™m playing against you, I’€™m not trying to be your friend. I’€™m out here to win. I’€™m just competitive. I go about this a certain way. Always have, always will. I don’€™t make any excuses about that or apologize for anything I’€™ve done. I carry myself in a well-fashioned manner. I respect the game first-off, respect the players that are in it. And I’€™m definitely not trying to hurt anybody — I don’€™t want to be hurt. I’€™m just out there playing hard and playing competitive. If that comes off as something else, then that’€™s your problem.”

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Read More: All-Star Game, Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant
Jackie MacMullan on D&H: Celtics’ problems at center critical 02.11.11 at 1:12 pm ET
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Basketball Hall of Fame writer Jackie MacMullan joined the Dale & Holley show Friday to talk about the Celtics and news from around the NBA. While Kobe Bryant scored 20 of his 23 points in the second half to spark a Lakers comeback Thursday night, MacMullan attributed most of the blame for the Celtics’ loss on their sudden lack of depth at center. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

“That was the game in a nutshell,” she said. “Their bigs just played really, really well, crushed them on the boards, made things happen in the paint. We know Kobe can turn it on, as he did in the second half. And we all knew when he had three points at halftime that it wouldn’t end that way. But to me, it really was about what went on in the paint last night.”

Ray Allen broke the NBA record for career 3-pointers Thursday night. MacMullan noted that despite the lofty praise, Allen has not always been the most coachable player. Said MacMullan: “It was just so funny to me how, as he was approaching the record, everyone was saying, ‘Oh, Ray Allen, a coach’s dream, the greatest veteran, what a model, an ambassador for the NBA.’ And I was thinking, ‘Whoa.’ I can remember a lot of coaches that really struggled with Ray, including the one here.

“And that doesn’t mean they don’t love him ‘€” and certainly Doc [Rivers] and Ray have found their way together ‘€” but that’s not who Ray is. Ray’s going to challenge you and Ray’s going to question you. Because he wants things to work within his own parameters. And to me, that was the most interesting part about this quest for the 3-point title, was he did it through multiple coaches, each of whom at one point or another I’m sure were saying, ‘This guy drives me nuts!’ ”

Addressing the rumors of a trade that would send Carmelo Anthony to the Lakers, MacMullan noted that Lakers owner Jerry Buss has been looking to trim payroll, not add to it. Plus, the Lakers already have a title-contending team without adding a player with defensive liabilities who would take some time to learn the triangle offense. “It just didn’t make sense to me,” she said. “Not if you’re the Lakers and you’re right there.”

MacMullan, who had lunch Thursday with Lakers coach Phil Jackson, said she believes Jackson will stick to his word and retire at the end of the season. “The impression I get is that Phil is at the end of the road,” she said. “He didn’t say that, he won’t say anything about it. But that’s the impression I get. I think he’s come to the point where it’s time to step away again.”

MacMullan was talking to Jackson for a book she’s writing about Shaquille O’Neal. “He gave me some great insight on Shaquille, who he has a great affection for to this day, really loved being with him,” she said. “And you know, when it was Phil, Kobe and Shaq, nine times out of 10, Phil was siding with Shaq, not Kobe.”

Read More: Carmelo Anthony, Doc Rivers, Jackie MacMullan, Jerry Buss
Irish Coffee: Perfect remedy for loss to Lakers at 11:30 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Few game films exist of Bill Russell‘s playing days, but a United States Information Agency documentarian by the name of Gary Goldsmith had some rare footage in his vault: Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Celtics and Cincinnati Royals.

The video has since been shown on NBA TV, and SLAM Magazine recently caught with the filmmaker. Goldsmith takes us through the documentary’s process, and the unquestionable highlight of the interview is this aside on a retired Bob Cousy wandering the Garden hallways:

‘€œHe was holding his head in his hands and saying to somebody, ‘€˜We can’€™t lose. If we lose, they’€™ll never let us up. It will be like the Yankees; they’€™ll grind us in to the earth. We’€™ve got to win.’€™ He wasn’€™t saying this to anybody for publication; this was a private comment that he made. It’€™s that sense of how important it was to sustain their championship level. I got a feel for it from moments like that.’€

Part 1 of Goldsmith’s “The Final Game” is embedded in this blog. Be sure to check out Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 on YouTube. There’s nothing better than watching a game from the last run of the Celtics’ nine consecutive championship seasons to get over a loss to the Lakers.

The time spent is worth it just to hear Red Auerbach‘s incessant chatter from the sidelines:

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Read More: Bill Russell, Boston Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen
Doc Rivers: We weren’t up the challenge of the Lakers at 10:57 am ET
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One characteristic Doc Rivers has always admired about his team was that it fights through almost every kind of adversity.

On Thursday night, he didn’t have that feeling. Whether it was the overwhelming number of injuries, the foul trouble of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Kobe being Kobe or just all of the above, Rivers just didn’t have the feeling that his team had the energy or will to overcome all of it. And that, more than the 92-86 loss to the Lakers at TD Garden seem to bug him the most.

“I thought they came out and jumped on us early in the third quarter, first ‘€“scored the first 10 points,” Rivers began. “And I never thought we fought through it, really. I mean obviously the fatigue and all that ‘€“ you know, one of our concerns going into the game were Paul or Ray couldn’€™t get in foul trouble obviously, because of what we had left. And that happened.

“But I just thought mentally we were not a very good team tonight and usually we are. I didn’€™t think we fought hard enough through adversity, and we’€™re great at that usually.”

But not on this night. While the Celtics are not a great rebounding team to begin with, they usually find a knack of dominating their opponent in the paint. Not on this night when they were outscored, 50-32.

They usually get to loose balls and find a way to score on second-chance points. Not on this night. They were outscored, 16-9, in that category. And while Rajon Rondo posted his 21st double-double of the season, he was just 5-of-14 and – after feeding Ray Allen for his record-breaking three in transition – couldn’t let his team back. It didn’t help that Nate Robinson went down with a bruised right knee in the second quarter and didn’t return.

“It was one of those nights; I just thought we didn’€™t do a very good job of [battling],” Rivers said. “And we obviously did have a lot of adversity with the injury of Nate and foul trouble and the lack of bodies, but you know that that could happen before the game and I don’€™t think we handled that very well.’€

And watching Kobe Bryant – with just three shots in the first half – take over in the third quarter didn’t help either.

‘€œWell once he saw there was a chance to win, Kobe was going to be Kobe,” Rivers said. “I think we knew that a week ago. And, he also knew that we had foul problems on the floor and he was aggressive. Kobe didn’€™t win the game with his offense. Kobe won the game today with his defense. I thought defensively he was absolutely phenomenal. He was everywhere. He was trapping, he was helping, you know off Rondo all night, and trapped the post, blocked shots. I mean, he just had a great floor game to me more than just scoring.’€

The Celtics face another NBA superstar when LeBron James and the Heat come calling on Sunday. The same Heat team that has been dominated twice this year by the Green. And whether or not Delonte West returns from a broken right wrist, the C’s better find their fight on Sunday or history will repeat itself.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James
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