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KG: Celtics-Heat definitely a ‘soap opera’ 10.19.10 at 8:50 pm ET
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Ray Allen has always had a special way with words.

He knows exactly how to say something with a smile and deliver the right tone and most importantly – the right message.

His message following Tuesday night’s intrasquad “Green-White” scrimmage at TD Garden was: Everyone knows we’re a team. Everyone wants to find out if Miami is, too.

“I believe so because there’s never been an opening game that has been more heavily anticipated,” Allen said. “I do believe that people are definitely excited to see them more than they’re excited about about seeing us. Truly they know, as a team, what we represent. The two teams are Eastern Conference powerhouses. It’s going to be a game.”

That game will be played next Tuesday night at TD Garden as LeBron James makes his official debut with the Heat, along with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

“I think with the anticipation [after] our exiting the finals last year and then with the new additions to Miami, they overly hyped the game,” Kevin Garnett added. “Yeah, I can see this has a lot of episodes, a lot of drama, if you will. It will have a lot of soap opera feel to it. Days of Our Lives, Another World, Santa Barbara.

“My grandmother was a big, big soap opera fan so it was either go outside or sit in there with her so I know that schedule quite well.”

The Celtics and Miami Heat are getting ready to open the season next Tuesday night at TD Garden in one of the most anticipated regular season games in NBA history.

Allen played Tuesday for the Green squad, which captured a 38-31 victory in an enhanced practice before season ticket holders and VIPs. The Celtics conclude their preseason Wednesday night against New Jersey at the Garden before opening the NBA season next Tuesday against the Heat, also at TD Garden.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett
Irish Coffee: A Preview of Celtics Previews 10.18.10 at 10:49 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

 

Every publication from here to Los Angeles is rolling out its NBA preview, and the predictions for the Celtics are, well, pretty predictable: They’re old, but they’re deep. They coasted through the 2009-10 regular season, and they’ll do it again. If they can stay healthy, they’ll compete for a championship. See for yourself …

SLAM Magazine: “Get your jokes in about the Celtics while you can. Sure, the Big Three and Shaq Daddy may alternate using the wheelchair Paul Pierce used in Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals. They probably will take some games off in the regular season, as head coach Doc Rivers did last year to keep the team healthy for the playoff run. And Rajon Rondo‘€™s jumper, though improving, is still broken like the NBA single-game scoring record Michael Jordan would be if he had played in his prime today. That said, this is a team that finished second in team assists and fifth in points allowed last season, and they have seemingly improved as a team overall. No squad in the NBA overcomes their deficiencies like the Boston Celtics, and they are serious title contenders in the 2010-11 season. Don’€™t say we didn’€™t tell you so if the Miami Heat cool off, the Orlando Magic disappear and Irish eyes are smiling after another magnificent seventh game between the Lakers and Celtics.”

That points allowed indicator — and, more specifically, point differential — has been a fairly good reflection of the C’s success the last three years. In the 2007-08 season, they ranked second in points allowed (90.3) and first in point differential (+10.2), resulting in a 66-16 record, homecourt throughout the playoffs and an NBA title.

In the last two seasons, during the 2008-09 campagin (62-20) and last year’s regular-season walkthrough (50-32), those numbers slipped.

To put the importance of those stats in perspective, when the C’s finished 24-58 in 2006-07 BB3 (Before Big 3), they ranked 18th in points allowed and 23rd in point differential. Keep an eye on those numbers in the first month of the season, especially considering the C’s brutal schedule through the first few weeks.

Ball Don’t Lie: “The team looks great. Kevin Garnett appears to be the picture of health, a chubbed-out Paul Pierce is as feisty as ever, Ray Allen looks about the same, and the team just oozes competitive spirit. But this is a team built to turn over a new leaf when there aren’t any leaves on the trees next spring, not when the foliage is blowing around and the days are getting shorter. It’s a long season, people get injured and things tend to even out. And, as was the case last year, those 50 wins would have little bearing on what happens in the postseason. This is a championship contender. Perhaps more than ever.”

I’m not exactly sure what they’re getting at when they call Pierce “chubbed-out,” considering he’s shown up slimmed down in each of the last two seasons. Still, they touch on an interesting point: The C’s competitive spirit. With the play of the second unit, a renewed focus on that two-year window and a vengeance factor for that Game 7 loss, this year’s team appears to have a competitive edge we haven’t seen since 2007-08.

Hoops Daily: “The Celtics’€™ Achilles heel remains health.  A lot of guys have played a lot of games, and a major injury to anybody inside the Allen-Garnett-Pierce trio would be catastrophic.  Rebounding, the Celtics’ ugly nemesis last year, could prove to be even more problematic with Perkins in street clothes for a while. And then there’€™s the departure of Tom Thibodeau, the guy who masterminded the Celtics’€™ dominant lockdown defense for the last three years, to consider as well. The team has the personnel and the experience to continue their defensive dominance, but it wouldn’€™t be a shock if they took a slight step back in that department. The Big Three are rickety and parts of their bench are downright old, but if you’€™re an Eastern Conference team dreaming of a Finals matchup with the Lakers, you’€™d do well not to run into the Green come May. Expecting 50-55 wins is probably best for a group that will likely go through the motions in the regular season before showing up gangbusters in the playoffs.”

Obviously, a major injury to any of the Big 4 (with Rondo) would be catastrophic. Then again, that can be said for the Heat, Lakers and Magic as well. I’m not sure if I’m buying the rebounding issue, either, considering that was the Celtics main focus in the offseason. I’m not sure if you know, but the C’s picked up Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal in the offseason, not to mention the addition of Semih Erden.

However, the loss of Thibodeau needed to be mentioned. That point differential statistic is largely a result of a defensive scheme he implemented, and the C’s will be integrating the O’Neal Brothers and Co. into that scheme without Thibodeau. How Rivers and new assistant Lawrence Frank incorporate the new bodies into the “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” defensive system will go a long way in determining this team’s success. In his first two full seasons as head coach of the Nets (2004-05 and 2005-06), Frank’s teams ranked sixth in points allowed.

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Read More: Doc Rivers, Larry Siegfried, Lawrence Frank, LeBron James
NBA Power Rankings, 10/14 10.14.10 at 12:12 pm ET
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1. LA Lakers: Lamar Odom hired his mother-in-law, Kris Jenner, as his new manager. If the knee injuries to Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum don’t spell doom for the Lakers, this could, as anybody who has seen “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” can attest. We’ll leave them in the top spot — until Kris makes Odom pose nude or something.

2. Boston: After his jumper to beat the Knicks, Paul Pierce appears to be up to his old game-winning ways. And the Celtics bench seems to keep getting deeper and deeper. The play of Semih Erden, Stephane Lasme and Luke Harangody has been an encouraging sign. So far, the injury bug has only claimed Delonte West, and he’s suspended for 10 games anyway.

3. Miami: First it was Dwyane Wade’s hamstring, and now it’s LeBron James‘ leg cramps. I heard somewhere that if Wade really does miss the remainder of the preseason, the Heat’s Big 3 (do they have a nickname yet?) will have only played a few minutes together before taking on the Celtics on opening night. I think it’s just a marketing ploy.

4. Oklahoma City: Larry Brown recently called the Thunder everything that’s right with the NBA: young, talented and well-behaved. I couldn’t agree more. This team should be fun to watch all season long, especially if Longar Longar makes the roster.

5. Dallas: With this new technical foul rule, how much in fines do you think Mark Cuban will spend this year? I’m putting the over/under at $1 million. In other news, I love the nickname for Mavericks rookie Dominique Jones: DoJo.

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Read More: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, NBA, Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce on D&C: ‘I don’t think you ever forget’ Game 7 loss 10.13.10 at 9:40 am ET
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Celtics captain Paul Pierce sat down with Dennis & Callahan at C’s media day for an interview that aired Wednesday morning. Pierce said he’s still working on getting past the loss to the Lakers. “I still haven’t gotten over it,” he said. “You think about the what ifs and all of that. I don’t think you ever forget it.”

Pierce also talked about the upcoming season, the acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal, and LeBron James and the new-look Heat.

Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

How long does it take a competitive person like you to get over a seventh-game loss in the NBA [finals]? A week? A month? Ever?

I still haven’t gotten over it. It’s tough. Because you envision back, and saying, “If we could have done this different, that different in the game, it would have been a different outcome.” So, it’s hard. You think about the what ifs and all of that. I don’t think you ever forget it.

What’s the process? Do you go in your bedroom for a couple of days and sleep, and then don’t shave for a while, or don’t bathe, and then finally come out of the shell?

I didn’t talk to people for a long time. I didn’t watch any basketball for a long time. I sort of kind of did go into a shell. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t even want to go out and eat for a while, because you just felt that bad about the loss. But then as I got back into the gym and working out, I just used it for motivation and just sort of loosened up from there.

Did you feel like last season was the final run this team was going to have? And are you surprised to look around and see the same crew back together, indeed with more big, old guys like Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal?

No, I wasn’t surprised at the run. We struggled a bit during the regular season at home. When I looked at our team from the beginning, I told people that we were more built for the playoffs that the regular season, because we didn’t have the up-and-down athletes, high-flyers that a lot of teams in the NBA have that can beat you in one game, on any given night. But when you have to break down a team and really scout them and put us in the playoffs, then I knew that we could be successful.

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Read More: LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Shaquille O'Neal,
Irish Coffee: Ron Artest guarantees title 10.12.10 at 9:15 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Ron Artest is pretty confident the Lakers will repeat as NBA champions. He practically guaranteed it in a recent Tweet, claiming he’ll give away his second ring to whoever writes the best essay “on how we can make America better” (he’s already scheduled to auction off his 2009-10 championship ring to benefit mental-health causes).

Where does this competition rank in prestige among essay contests? It probably falls somewhere between the Ayn Rand Institute Essay Contest and the John F. Kennedy library’s Profile in Courage Essay Contest, right? Artest, after all, is the same guy who wrote such lyrical poetry as “Booty Wooty” …

Now I might be quick to get a tech,
But I keep my girls in check,
Punch ‘em in the neck
With the utmost respect.

Talk about making America a better place, huh? Hypocrisy at its finest.

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Read More: Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Ron Artest, Shaquille O'Neal
Celtics: Irish Coffee 10.06.10 at 10:04 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Are the Celtics “playing too much,” as Shaquille O’Neal says in this video? Talk about Hack-a-Shaq. Is it just me, or could Shaq have easily injured his back during this prank by Nate Robinson and Rajon Rondo? It’s not like Shaq is some 28-year-old, like Dwyane Wade, and even he got injured in the preseason. I know Rondo is used to getting knocked to the ground a handful of times every game, and I’m not sure if Robinson’s ever heard the phrase, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” But Shaq practically invented that saying, especially after this stunt. Listen, I’m all for the wacky Halloween dance videos and the old dump-salt-in-Shaq’s-water trick, but when these hijinks could potentially effect the team on the court, I think it’s gone a little too far.

QUOTES FROM AROUND THE NBA

Gilbert Arenas on John Wall: “I’m out there to hit open shots, teach John the ins-and-outs of the game and eventually go on and move on. And I’m on my way. This is the NBA, there are few players that stay in the same city. Right now, the city is John’s. I’m not here to fight anybody. I’m here to just play alongside of him. He’s Batman, and I’m Robin. I’m moving aside so he can become a star.”
(NOTE: Arenas is signed through 2014. Sounds kinda like he’s gonna be looking for a trade.)

Tracy McGrady on The Decision: “If I had the opportunity to team with someone like D-Wade — it’s about winning isn’t it? What everyone has a problem with is how LeBron did it. You shouldn’t do it that way. As far as him leaving, I’m happy for him. I hope they win 10 championships. I’m envious.”
(NOTE: I know you’re washed up, Tracy, but you’re still in the NBA. I’m pretty sure he just admitted the Pistons are going to be terrible, and he’d rather be playing in Miami.)

Jamario Moon on Cleveland life without LeBron: “It wasn’t strange at all, it’s home. We were anxious to get out there and show that basketball is still alive in Cleveland.”
(The NBA: Where delusion happens!)

Yao Ming on his return from injury: “I’m happy that I can get on the court and I can run. I was running without pain … and I think that’s a good first step.”
(Wait, it helps to actually get on the court and run in order to play basketball?)

DeMarcus Cousins on, well, I’m not sure: “I know I’m a big body as well. As well as I’m feeling them bump me, they’re feeling the exact same thing. That’s how I approach it. I feel you on that end; you’re going to feel me down on the other end.”
(I think I’m gonna stay away from this one. I also enjoyed his coach, Paul Westphal, admitting, “And if he ever gets in shape, he’ll really be able to do a lot.” Not what you want to hear.)

Mo Lester, mo problems for Mavs

I vaguely remember some caller phoning into WEEI last fall to declare, “Lester Hudson will challenge Rondo for the starting point guard spot.” At the time, I remember thinking, This guy’s a moron. I was right, of course. But maybe now that guy can point to Hudson’s game-winning 3-pointer against the Mavericks last night in a 97-94 Wizards win that saw Wall total 21 points and nine assists in his debut.

Bird nearly flew the coop?

In hopes of acquiring a high-profile coach in order to entice LeBron James to stay in Cleveland, the Cavaliers reached out to Larry Bird during their search to replace Mike Brown, according to ESPN.com.

“Bird did take the call,” sources told Marc Stein, “but quickly informed the Cavs that he had no interest in coaching again. Sources said Bird, 53, let Cleveland know that he wants to continue in his front-office work with the Pacers and that he has all but ruled out coaching again because of health and family reasons.”

I guess that rules out Bird as a replacement whenever Doc Rivers decides to hang it up, which could be any year now.

Carr steering the ship?

Maybe former Celtic Chris Carr could be that replacement in the wings. Carr, after all, became a head coach … of a girls basketball team in Minnesota? After averaging 4.8 points in 35 games with the C’s in 2000-01, Carr retired from the NBA. Since then, he started the 43 Hoops Basketball Academy in Hopkins, Minn., so he could mentor youth athletes. Yesterday, he accepted the head girls basketball coaching position at Eden Prairie (Minn.) High ‘€” in the same district his children attend school.

“Chris stood out during the interview process,” Eden Prairie athletic director Mike Grant told the Eden Prairie News. “One, he has the experience of having played at a very high level. Two, he has the experience of having played for a number of very talented coaches.”

Chris stood out during the interview process? You’re meaning to tell me that a 6-foot-6, 200-something pound former NBA player stood out while you were interview potential high school girls basketball coaches? You don’t say.

Read More: DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal
Mock NBA Fantasy Basketball Draft 10.05.10 at 4:58 pm ET
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A breakdown of the first five rounds of a mock 10-team fantasy basketball draft, in addition to the top-10 late-round sleepers and the top-10 players to avoid. Full disclosure: I am unstoppable at fantasy basketball. I also consulted commissioner James Hough of our annual league, Mondo Rondo.

ROUND 1
(NOTE: Your season depends solely on the health of this pick.)

1. Kevin Durant: Team USA’s best player; absolute monster; fills every stat category.
2. LeBron James: Has a legit chance to average a triple-double.
3. Kobe Bryant: Even if not 100 percent, the game’s best player can’t slip past No. 3.
4. Chris Paul: Might be the No. 2 pick if not for the whole knee surgery thing.
5. Deron Williams: Averaged at least 18 points & 10 assists per game last 3 seasons.
6. Danny Granger: Most underrated player in the NBA on a bad team translates into numbers.
7. Dwight Howard: You’re giving up FT% with this pick … but likely winning FG%, blocks & boards.
8. Dwyane Wade: Stats will suffer beside LeBron, but still warrants first-round pick.
9. Dirk Nowitzki: The first-round guy I’d least like to have on my team still fills the statsheet.
10. Pau Gasol: He may look like a llama, but he’s the best offensive center in the game.

ROUND 2(NOTE: Either diversify your roster or lock categories down in your favor.)

11. Chris Bosh: He’ll still score, grab rebounds, block shots and make free throws.
12. Steve Nash: It’s a good thing defense isn’t really a category in fantasy hoops.
13. Amar’e Stoudemire: Last season under D’Antoni: 25.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 59.0 FG%, 80.5 FT%.
14. Josh Smith: Draft him with Howard, and you win blocks & boards every week.
15. Stephen Curry: A first-round pick on most boards, I wouldn’t take him until now.
16. Brook Lopez: Never would’ve predicted he’d be a top-20 pick.
17. Carmelo Anthony: A top-10 player, but on a team he doesn’t want to play for.
18. Rajon Rondo: Points, assists, steals and FG% have gone up every year.
19. Derrick Rose: Is anybody else thinking he’s going to have a huge season?
20. David Lee: You can count the number of centers who have average 20 and 12 on one hand.

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Read More: Fantasy, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James
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