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Larry Bird on the Big Show: I never would have coached at old Garden 06.28.11 at 6:39 pm ET
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Celtics legend Larry Bird was a guest of The Big Show on Tuesday and he sat down with Glenn Ordway for a wide-ranging interview that touched on his job with the Pacers, how he feels about the modern game — and some of the players — and his memories of playing with the Celtics.

Bird also said that he never would have coached at the old Boston Garden.

“All my memories I just wanted them to be as a player,” Bird said. “Even here in Indiana, I told Donnie [Walsh] if the Garden was still up I would never go in there as an opposing coach and play the Celtics as an Indiana Pacer coach. I just couldn’t do that. But they tore it down and I got in there in the other Garden and it didn’t bother me as much.”

Asked if he would have handed over the team to his then-assistant coach Rick Carlisle, Bird laughed, “Carlisle did a lot of it anyway. No, I just wouldn’t have taken the job. I just couldn’t do that. I couldn’t see myself walking in the Boston Garden as a visitor. I just couldn’t do that.”

Listen to the whole interview on The Big Show audio on demand page. Here’s the rest of the transcription from the interview:

You haven’t made a lot of trips back [to Boston]. Is that by design or is that just how the schedule worked out?

Well, we’re pretty busy here and I try to get out there as much as I can, just never enough because my admiration I have for that city, it’s a great city, it’s a sports town. I always like to go back out there but an opportunity hadn’t arose as much as I’d like. But obviously I’m going to be there for a couple of days and I’ll probably enjoy it.

As you look back at the great period that you had with [the Celtics], is there anything you look back at and say, “I wish I had done this?”

Yeah, a couple more championships would have helped. You know in 1981 when we won our first championship, I looked at our team and I thought, “Boy, we got a chance here to win at least five championships.” And we had a couple years where we didn’t do as well. Starting in ’84, ’85, ’86, and ’87, we were well on our way to winning a lot of championships. Then all of a sudden the back issues started coming in and things started changing. I always felt that we had a good enough team to win five championships.

We played in five finals but we just won three, so that’s probably the most disappointing thing, but overall it was the greatest time of my life. It was something I loved and playing in a city that cared for their players and their teams, really it was a positive for me and I miss it. I miss being out there, I miss playing, but sometimes I forget I even played because it’s been so long. But it was a great experience for me, I grew up in Boston and met a lot of good people and obviously got to play for Red [Auerbach], and I had some good teammates. We were a good team out there. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dwight Howard, Larry Bird, LeBron James,
Talking Hoops, Episode 7: Bethlehem Shoals 06.18.11 at 10:15 am ET
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On the latest version of the Talking Hoops WEEI.com’s Paul Flannery is joined by Bethlehem Shoals the founder of FreeDarko.com and co-author of The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History.

Flannery and Shoals put a wrap on the 2010-11 season by examining the Heat, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and NBA narratives, while also pondering the future of Rajon Rondo.

Listen here: Talking Hoops, Episode 7

Read More: Bethlehem Shoals, Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, Rajon Rondo
Irish Coffee: Celtics playoff picture just a memory 05.12.11 at 1:00 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

In the end, the hated Heat executed and defended better. Essentially, they did everything the Celtics always used to do, except with younger, better and healthier players. Now, with another year of mileage on Boston’s Big Three’s old legs, the Celtics hope to make one more run against a Miami team that’s only going to improve.

Something’s gotta change. They need help at the center position. They need the No. 25 pick in the NBA draft to give them something. And they need to make a splash with their mid-level exception. This all assumes, of course, that there is an NBA season in 2011-12. As for Game 5 and its aftermath, The Associated Press pictures tell the whole story, so let’s let them (NOTE: click on the pictures in the rest of this entry to follow the links) …

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, LeBron James, Miami Heat
Fast Break: LeBron James, Heat bury the Celtics 05.11.11 at 9:49 pm ET
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A pair of 3-pointers, a fast break dunk off a steal and a driving layup by LeBron James in the final 2:10 capped a 16-0 run that gave the Heat a 97-87 victory Wednesday night and ended the Celtics season after five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Nenad Krstic scored the C’s final points of the season, with 4:28 remaining, giving the Celtics an 87-81 lead. But James broke an 87-87 tie with 2:10 remaining, and then buried a go-ahead trey with 40 seconds left after Jeff Green mishandled a poor Paul Pierce pass. After a timeout, Delonte West turned the ball over and James put the game — and the C’s season — away with a dunk and a layup seconds later.

James finished with 33 points, and Dwyane Wade had 34 for the Heat. Ray Allen led the Celtics with 18 points.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Paul Pierce’s early foul trouble: With the Celtics leading by three and James cruising for a breakaway dunk, Pierce committed a truly ill-advised foul just 5:40 into the game. Not only that, but it was Pierce’s second personal, forcing coach Doc Rivers to give him an early hook before bringing him back for the second quarter. Pierce then picked up his third foul late in the second quarter and missed the final 1:44 of the half. He never got into a rhythm and couldn’t provide any physicality on the defensive end.

Dwyane Wade’s monster first half: While the rest of his teammates made just 6-of-24 first-half shots (25 percent), Wade buried 9-of-12 from the field and 5-of-9 from the free-throw line for 23 points before the break. While the Celtics shot 52.9 percent for the opening 24 minutes, the Heat trailed by only two points (49-47) at the half — thanks to Wade and the Heat’s 23-14 advantage in free-throw attempts. Wade had 15 foul shots in all, and overall, the Heat totaled free throws 38 to the Celtics’ 20.

Rondo’s health: At one point in the fourth quarter, both Rondo and Jermaine O’Neal were receiving back treatment on the sidelines. And how could you forget Rondo was already dealing with a dislocated left elbow that left him at 50-50 prior to the game? He did not play in the fourth quarter, finishing with six points and three assists, despite a valiant effort. O’Neal also missed the final quarter, totaling just three points and two boards.

Careless turnovers: Garnett and Pierce combined for seven turnovers, and the Celtics committed 17 in all — the majority of them seemingly unforced. Down 3-1 and on the road, the C’s couldn’t afford to give the Heat that many extra opportunities.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Getting KG involved early: The Heat crowd may have arrived late, as usual, but Garnett showed up right from the opening tip. He attacked the paint and scored nine of the Celtics’ first 13 points, finishing the first quarter with 12 points, five rebounds and two steals to help the C’s grab a 24-16 before the Heat and their fans even knew what hit them. Considering Garnett’s Game 3 success (28 points, 18 rebounds) and Game 4 failure (7 points on 1-of-10 shooting), the Celtics needed Garnett to set the tone. Unfortunately, he scored three points the rest of the way.

Ray Allen gets open looks: After struggling to find space and making only 11-of-30 shots in Games 2-4, Allen got free from Wade and made 6-of-12 from the field in Game 5, including 5-of-10 shooting on some pretty wide open looks from beyond the arc (not to mention a huge four-point play). His 11 first-half points helped pick up some of the slack left by Pierce’s relative absence.

Nenad Krstic and the bench (yup, you read that right): At the end of the third quarter, Krstic buried a long baseline jumper that put the Celtics up 73-71 heading into the final 12 minutes of play. Krstic finished with eight points as the Celtics’ bench outscored the Heat’s 33-12. Krstic, Jeff Green (9 points), Delonte West (10 points) and even Glen Davis (6 points) each scored at least six points on the night.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Miami Heat
Irish Coffee: What exactly is ‘championship DNA’? at 12:48 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Probably as a Pavlovian response forced upon them by coach Erik Spoelstra, the Heat keep saying the Celtics have some mythical championship DNA lingering from their 2008 title that will make them seemingly impossible to oust from the NBA playoffs in Game 5.

  • Dwyane Wade: “That’€™s a championship team, and they play with the championship DNA that they have.”
  • Mario Chalmers: “We know they’€™ve won a championship before, and they have a championship DNA. We’€™re just trying to get there, and we want to beat them.”
  • Udonis Haslem: “We have the opportunity to close it out. It’s not going to be easy. I understand that they’ve got the championship DNA, and they’re not going to just give it to us. It’s going to be a hard-fought game.”

What, exactly, is “championship DNA”? Did the two-time defending champion Lakers have it when they were swept out of this season’s Western Conference semifinals by the title-starved Mavericks? Did the four-time champ Spurs have it this year when they lost in the first round to an eighth-seeded Grizzlies team that had never won a playoff game before?

Only five players remain from the Celtics team that won a title three years ago — albeit their best five for much of the season, until Glen Davis went missing. Like people, NBA teams get old, and they eventually pass the torch to someone with younger, stronger and/or better DNA. Someone like LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.

The sad part is that you can still extract DNA from somebody after they’re dead. But a heart is different. As long as it’s beating, you’re still alive. And the Celtics, for now, are still alive.

“This is a veteran team with a championship heart,” said the Heat’s Chris Bosh, after he helped push the Celtics to the brink of elimination in Game 4. They’re going to come out swinging in the beginning until the end no matter what the outcome is. We just have to be prepared for that. We have to use the homecourt to our advantage and just play basketball.”

So, the real question before Game 5: Is that championship heart still beating?

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James
Irish Coffee: Delonte West knows ‘it’s win or go home’ 05.10.11 at 11:30 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

This was supposed to be Delonte West‘s season of redemption. Instead, it’s been a season of frustration.

If anybody on this Celtics team could turn to excuses, it’s West, whose series of injuries this year has kept him from assuming the role everybody knew he was capable of fulfilling when healthy. He grew up balling on the playgrounds in the Greater Washington D.C. area, developing a toughness that has prepared him to take (and make) big shots in big moments, frustrate superstars like Dwyane Wade defensively and, of course, battle injury.

And now that West has finally found his groove — scoring at least 10 points in all four games against the Heat — it might be too late. Still, trailing 3-1 and heading back to Miami for Game 5, West isn’t playing the blame game.

“It’€™s win or go home,” West said after the 98-90 Game 4 defeat. “You gotta bring it. Everybody’€™s gotta bring it, or we might as well just get some seats down at the beach and stay down there. But that’€™s not our plan.”

West could’ve made excuses when he was suspended for the first 10 games of the season on weapons charges, but instead he took it as a learning experience. He could’ve made excuses when he broke his right wrist five games after returning from suspension. Or when he chipped a bone in his right ankle three games after returning from wrist surgery.  Or when he injured his shooting shoulder in Game 3 of these Eastern Conference semifinals. But he didn’t.

“It’€™s doing a lot better,” he said. “I had it taped up. They put some type of compression sleeve on it. It feels a lot better than [Sunday] and definitely better than when I hurt it the prior game. I ain’€™t got no excuses over here.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Delonte West, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James talk it out and finally beat the C’s in Boston at 12:40 am ET
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This was exactly the kind of moment their detractors were waiting for. LeBron James drives into the paint against Paul Pierce, loses control of himself and the ball and allows the Celtics to get a chance to get a final shot and win the game.

So, when a foul was called with 19.5 seconds remaining and the Celtics called timeout, Dwyane Wade came over to LeBron and had a talk.

‘€œI had a timeout to kick myself, tell myself you can’€™t turn the ball over in that situation,” James said. “D-Wade came to me, told me what he thought I should have done, but there was still time on the clock and I had to let it go because they had the ball with the shot clock was off.

“For the most part, I’€™ve watched a lot of Celtics games, I’€™ve been in a lot of pressure situations against them so I kind of knew what was coming at me, I knew it was going to be either a Paul Pierce pick and roll or it was going to be an isolation. The only way for me to redeem myself was to get a stop and send it to overtime.’€

Which is exactly what he did. He forced Paul Pierce to the left – after the Celtics botched the play – and made the Celtics captain shoot a fallaway jumper that rimmed out at the buzzer.
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Read More: 2011 NBA Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James
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