|Banged up Celtics grind through knowing Lakers won’t have sympathy||02.09.11 at 2:42 pm ET|
They don’t care that the Celtics had just 10 players for practice Wednesday. They don’t care that Paul Pierce was home sick instead of gearing up for the rematch with the Lakers Thursday night at TD Garden. They don’t care that 38-year-old Shaquille O’Neal is nursing a sore right Achilles tendon that has forced him to miss the last three games.
They don’t care that Semih Erden is about to miss his second straight game with a right adductor strain. They don’t care that the Celtics don’t have a proven replacement for Marquis Daniels, who went down with a bruised spinal cord on Sunday afternoon.
“You come to play the game,” Rivers said. “We don’t worry about the body count. They’re not going to worry about the body count, I can guarantee you that. We’ll be read. We’ll be fine.”
All the Lakers care about is getting revenge for that 109-96 Celtics win on Jan. 30 at Staples Center.
The Celtics were reduced to 10 healthy players in practice on Wednesday.
On the bright side, Delonte West participated in his first full contact practice since his broken right wrist, suffered on Nov. 24 against New Jersey.
“We had 10,” Rivers said following Wednesday’s practice. “Paul’s is sick so he stayed at home. Semih is out, Shaq is out. Delonte practiced today but he won’t play [Thursday] or probably won’t play until after the break.”
Rivers said he does expect Pierce to play Thursday but not O’Neal or Erden. “I expect him to play,” Rivers said of Pierce. “He’s just not feeling good. We’ll see [Thursday]. I don’t expect Shaq, I don’t expect Semih. I don’t think [O’Neal] can go yet so we’re just going to wait until he gets healthy.”
Rivers said West was allowed to return but cautioned his players to try and use good judgment so that West’s right wrist wouldn’t be hit.
“We told [players] no reaching which is impossible with some of our guys but other than that, we got through it,” Rivers said.
|NBA Power Rankings, 2/3||02.03.11 at 6:14 pm ET|
The Celtics haven’t claimed the top spot in our NBA Power Rankings since Jan. 6, but as Paul Flannery wrote following the C’s 109-96 victory against the Lakers on Sunday, “The Celtics’ performance proved that as of this moment they are the team to beat in the NBA. On their best day, and this may have been it, no one can even come close to matching them.”
There are four other legitimate contenders for the 2011 NBA title — the Spurs, Bulls, Heat and Lakers — and the Celtics have beaten all of them, recording six wins in seven games against those teams. That’s kinda good.
The C’s have now defeated 23 of the 29 other teams in the league. The only two teams they haven’t faced yet are the Clippers and Warriors. They’ve lost their only games against the Mavericks, Suns, Rockets and Hornets so far, but they get their respective shots at revenge on Friday, March 2, March 18 and March 19.
In short, pretty much everybody has praised the Celtics as one of, if not THE best in the league. Kevin Garnett might be one of the most disliked opponents in the league, but the C’s are getting their share of respect. That’s why we’ve decided to highlight the best quotes about the Celtics from opposing coaches and players in this week’s edition of the Power Rankings. Without further ado, here goes …
1. Boston (37-11): I don’t care that the Celtics have lost to the Wizards, Pistons, Raptors and Cavaliers. I don’t care that they scored only 71 points against the Suns. Four of those losses occurred on the road after playing the previous night, and the other came at 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. When the Celtics are motivated, they’ve been almost unbeatable. Just ask the Spurs, Lakers and Heat.
2. San Antonio (40-8): Spurs coach Gregg Popovich after losing to the Celtics on Jan. 5, 105-103: “It’s just frustrating that we’re a definite, significant notch below the big boys — of course, Boston being one of the big boys — come playoff time if this continues. You know, Boston is third in field-goal percentage ‘D,’ and first in defensive rebounding. Those are the kind of stats we used to have defensively to do what you need to do to be the last team standing.” (via Sporting News)
3. Chicago (34-14): Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau after losing to the Celtics in overtime on Nov. 5, 110-105: “They’ve got a lot of weapons, they’re experienced, they know how to work the game and they’re hard to guard. I think the thing that often gets overlooked with them is not only their individual greatness but their collective greatness and willingness to share with each other. ‘¦ It puts enormous pressure on your defense. Your defense can’t get set, and that’s something we’re striving for.”
4. Miami (34-14): Heat forward LeBron James on Wednesday: “We’re way behind [the Celtics]. Just look at the number of games played, the number of playoff series those guys have had. We’re only a few months in together — 40-something-plus games. I’ve seen the statistics. Boston has like 250-plus games played together. We’re way behind those teams.” (via ESPN.com)
|Irish Coffee: Avery Bradley’s stock rising||02.01.11 at 11:34 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Avery Bradley‘s move to Maine has been the best thing for both him and the Celtics.
The C’s first-round selection in the 2010 NBA draft, Bradley took his talents to Portland when the team sent him to the NBA Development League, and he’s beginning to prove himself as one of the (minor) league’s best.
The 20-year-old is flourishing in the NBADL, gaining valuable experience. But the value of his performance might be even greater for the Celtics. Because there’s no urgency to force a young kid into the rotation, the C’s — if necessary — can either call on a kid who two years ago was ranked higher than John Wall as a high school player or shop him with all the leverage in a trade discussion.
Either way, it’s a win-win — another great pick by president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. Bradley is a valuable member of this Celtics team, even if he’s not playing for them. Look at his averages while playing just 30 minutes a night in seven games (4 starts) for the Maine Red Claws:
- Points: 15.3
- Assists: 5.0
- Rebounds: 3.9
- Steals: 0.4
- Blocks: 0.4
- Turnovers: 4.3
- FG percentage: 39.8
- 3-point FG percentage: 36.4
- FT percentage: 83.3
Sure, his turnovers and field-goal percentage could use some improvement, but his offensive production has been better than expected, considering his defensive ability has always been his greatest strength. Here’s how ESPNU described his game when they ranked him as the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2009:
|Irish Coffee: Interpreting Celtics vs. Lakers||01.31.11 at 1:07 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Considering all the stars on and off the court — for both teams — at Sunday’s game between the Celtics and Lakers, you would’ve thought there’d have been some great Twitter messages in the aftermath of the C’s 109-96 victory at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. There wasn’t, so I made them up anyway. Here’s my interpretation of what the players and celebrity fans should’ve Tweeted throughout the finals rematch:
- Matt Damon: “The Celtics are showing ‘True Grit’. The Lakers are playing like True …”
- Jimmy Kimmel: “I’m feeling Matt Damon.”
- Ron Artest: “Is this my second season with the Lakers? Time to check out.”
- Phil Jackson: “I’m going to kill Ron Art– (deep breath) Serenity now!!!”
- Kobe Bryant: “The ring I bought my wife and Artest’s contract cost the same. And I’m sorry for both.”
- Robert Rodriguez: “Black Mamba seems like a strange nickname for a guy who was once arrested for sexual assault, but let’s go with it Kobe!”
- Derek Fisher: “A cheerleader blew me a kiss, and I thought I got shot. I flopped like 10 feet backwards!”
- Zac Efron: “Who’s worse at acting: Me or Fisher?”
- Paul Pierce: “The only way I could’ve made this win better is to get the wheelchair involved.”
- Adam Sandler: “KG told a ballboy he had a better chance of catching Bin Laden than getting an autograph? Was it Bobby Boucher? ‘Stop making fun of me!'”
- Kevin Garnett: “It wasn’t a good week for me and things that hold balls. Just ask Channing Frye.”
- George Lopez: “Wait, why aren’t I rooting for the Nuggets? They have Eduardo Najera!”
- Glen Davis: “Coach told me to treat Odom and Andrew Bynum like a bowl of gumbo. Eat ’em up. Ayo!”
- Lamar Odom: “I’m not sure whose badonkadonk is bigger: Big Baby’s or Khloe Kardashian‘s.”
- John Lackey: “Who’s better looking: Me or Semih Erden?”
- Brooklyn Decker: “I love basketball. How many touchdowns does Kobe have? Oh, and who’s better looking: Me or John Lackey’s wife?”
- Joey Crawford: “Wait, Kendrick Perkins is back? (whistle) Technical foul, No. 43.”
- Kendrick Perkins: “Two technicals in two nights. I’m in midseason form!”
|NBA Power Rankings, 1/27||01.27.11 at 5:38 pm ET|
1. San Antonio (39-7): It seems like every time I look at the NBA standings, the Spurs are 9-1 in their last 10 games. It’s ridiculous. According to John Hollinger’s playoff odds, San Antonio has a 78.1 percent chance of capturing the top seed out West and homecourt throughout the playoffs. Yet, their odds of making the Finals are just 27.3 percent, despite possessing the league’s best home record at 24-2. Strange.
2. Boston (34-10): The Celtics lost another game to a bad team when they fell to the Wizards over the weekend, but we’ll give them a break considering it was once again the result of playing on the road in the second game of a back-to-back following a plane trip. Losses to the Cavaliers, Rockets and Wizards are the only reason the C’s aren’t ranked No. 1, because no team has been better than them — when motivated.
3. LA Lakers (33-13): The silhouette of the NBA’s logo, former Lakers general manager Jerry West eased off his comments that the Lakers are too old to play defense (they’re ranked 10th in points allowed), but he didn’t back down from saying he wouldn’t want to play the Celtics every other night — calling the C’s the favorites over the Lakers to win the NBA title.
4. Miami (31-13): Speaking of predictions involving the Celtics and Lakers, Phil Jackson obviously chimed in, as he doesn’t believe the Heat can get by the Celtics to reach the NBA Finals. Considering the Celtics still own a 2-0 record against Miami (and it wasn’t even that close), how can you argue with Jackson? Especially after you watch some of the poses Chris Bosh gets into during his Maxim shoot.
5. Chicago (31-14): I figured the Bulls could be a top-five team once Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah were both healthy at the same time. It turns out Noah’s presence isn’t necessary for that to happen. Perhaps more important than homecourt advantage in the Celtics’ chase for the No. 1 seed is the fact that — as it stands now — they’d only have to face the Heat or Bulls and not both in the playoffs.
|Irish Coffee: Celtics less valuable than Lakers||at 12:10 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
According to Forbes Magazine’s latest valuations of all 30 NBA franchises, 17 teams hemorrhaged money over the last year — the highest number since the 1998-99 lockout — despite the fact that 24 of those 30 clubs generated at least $100 million in revenue.
Based on the numbers, the Celtics are the fourth most valuable franchise in the NBA. They generated $151 million in revenue while the franchise’s value rose 5 percent over the past year, yet they made just $4.2 million.
When the magazine released the same figures just over a year ago, the Celtics ranked as the eighth-most valuable franchise, generating less revenue but taking home almost $9 million more in income.
Despite the state of the U.S. economy, the average value of all 30 NBA franchises rose 1 percent since the magazine’s last valuations. However, the average team’s operating income fell 22 percent — to $6.1 million — “the lowest figure since the 2002-03 season.”
In the offseason, Amar’e Stoudemire and LeBron James altered the balance of NBA financial power. The Knicks’ worth increased 12 percent, dethroning the Lakers as the league’s most valuable franchise. Meanwhile, the Heat’s worth rose 17 percent, while the Cavaliers‘ value fell 26 percent.
Here are the top five most valuable NBA franchises:
- 1. New York Knicks ($655 million)
- 2. Los Angeles Lakers ($643 million)
- 3. Chicago Bulls ($511 million)
- 4. Boston Celtics ($452 million)
- 5. Houston Rockets ($443 million)
After noting the surprising fact that the Pistons, who haven’t been able to find a proper suitor, are valued 13th, here are the five least valuable NBA franchises:
|NBA Power Rankings, 1/20||01.20.11 at 1:00 pm ET|
So much for the Year of the Streak, huh? After the Celtics, Mavericks, Spurs, Heat, Lakers and Hornets ripped off significant winning streaks earlier this season, everybody’s settling into midseason NBA mode (aka, “no heavy lifting”) — which makes sorting out the Power Rankings all that much more difficult.
In my mind, there are four heavy favorites to reach the two conference finals: Celtics vs. Heat, and Lakers vs. Spurs. And four other contenders: Bulls, Magic, Thunder and Jazz. Outside of that, it’s a matter of filling out the playoff picture now that we’re at the midway point, and that’s not a pretty picture at the bottom of the East. Here goes …
1. San Antonio (36-6): The Spurs are 22-2 at home and riding a 16-game winning streak at the AT&T Center. Only the Lakers are within 8.5 games of San Antonio for the West’s No. 1 seed, and even they’re six games back. If the Spurs manage to snag homecourt advantage, L.A.’s reign could be over sooner than expected. And Shaq won’t be the only guy playing for a fifth ring this spring; Tim Duncan will be, too.
2. Boston (32-9): The Celtics are 13-5 against teams with records above .500. They’ve beaten the Heat, Bulls, Magic, Spurs and Thunder already, and they play the Jazz (Friday) and Lakers (Jan. 30) over the next 10 days, so they could easily reclaim the top spot. That’s a remarkable feat for a team that’s never been fully healthy.
3. LA Lakers (31-13): The Lakers are now top-10 in points scored, points allowed, rebounds and assists, which is pretty good. They had won 8-of-9 before losing in Dallas on Wednesday night, which is also pretty good. And Lamar Odom granted Playboy an interview about basketball and marriage, which is beyond good.
4. Miami (30-13): You can’t really let the Heat slip too far down the rankings, despite their season-high four-game losing streak, considering LeBron James missed two of those contests and Chris Bosh missed another. Still, it’s midway through the season, and Miami still doesn’t have a defined rotation. That’s a problem.
5. Oklahoma City (27-15): Would you rather have the Miami Thrice on your team or the Kevin Durant–Russell Westbrook–Jeff Green triumvirate? The former, but the latter’s not far behind (Miami Thrice: 69.3 ppg, 13.3 apg; OKC Three: 65.9 ppg, 13.4 apg). Considering their respective salaries next season (Miami Thrice: $47.6 million; OKC Three: $24.6 million), it’s almost a toss-up as to who’s in better position for the future.
6. Chicago (28-14): This season, especially lately, Derrick Rose is getting a LOT of love. Charles Barkley called him the NBA’s best point guard. Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie gave him their midseason Most Improved Player award. There’s even some MVP chatter. Should he be crowned before he’s even won a playoff series?
7. Orlando (27-15): It’s funny how Otis Smith decided to pick this week — after losing 3-of-4, including one to the Celtics — to essentially call the C’s a bunch of posers. Because, you know, Hedo Turkoglu and J.J. Redick are essentially Randy Couture and Mickey Ward. What’s that saying about glass houses?
8. Utah (27-15): The Celtics are welcoming the Jazz to Boston on Friday, and let’s hope a stomach bug doesn’t keep Deron Williams from playing. Boston fans have already missed Durant and Carmelo Anthony in their teams’ only trips to the hub. Missing a battle between Williams and Rajon Rondo would be a shame.
9. Atlanta (28-15): It’ll be interesting to see how much attention Jamal Crawford will get in free agency after this season. Even though he’s the returning Sixth Man of the Year, he’s not a guy I’d really want on my team. Same goes for a lot of guys on the Hawks, except for Al Horford.
10. New Orleans (27-16): Welcome back to the top 10, Chris Paul. A six-game winning streak — including wins over the Magic and Nuggets — will do that for you. The Hornets accomplished it with defense, allowing fewer than 90 points in four of those six contests.
11. Dallas (27-14): After Dirk Nowitzki missed nine games, he returned against the Grizzlies, only to be tossed by the referees midway through the third quarter. And then the Mavericks lost their sixth straight to the lowly Pistons. Good times. Mark Cuban was probably sticking forks in light sockets before they beat the Lakers.
12. Denver (24-17): I hate the fact that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov called off the ‘Melo trade discussion for two reasons: 1) he robbed us of a meeting between them and Jay-Z, which may have been the greatest meeting of all-time; and 2) now we have to listen to another few weeks of people speculating where he’ll go.
13. New York (22-19): How does the NBA’s top scoring team produce 83 points at home against the Kings? Seriously. It’s the Kings!?!? Since winning 13-of-14 from mid-November to mid-December, the Knicks are 6-10. There’s a lot less optimism around them since they played the C’s tough and were in the ‘Melo sweepstakes.
14. Portland (23-20): Another Trail Blazers player (Marcus Camby) injured his knee. In other news: The sky is blue. At this point, should opposing teams just rest their stars when they visit, for fear that their knees might disintegrate into the Portland air?
15. Houston (20-23): Rockets GM Daryl Morey is on Twitter and gives insightful comments about his team, like: “Our shot making disguised issues in our transition offense.” Can we lobby to get Danny Ainge on Twitter?
16. Memphis (19-23): When Zach Randolph is the one saying, “We’ve got to get some heart,” you’ve got problems. The Grizzlies still have an outside shot at a playoff berth, but Randolph’s words aren’t a good sign.
17. Phoenix (19-21): The only two players that have scored 20,000 points, are eligible for the Hall of Fame and haven’t been inducted are Mitch Richmond and Tom Chambers. Now that Vince Carter has joined the 20,000-point club, will he be the third to fall short of the Hall?
18. Indiana (16-23): Pacers wing Mike Dunleavey has been in the league since 2002 and never sniffed the playoffs, but this could be his year — even if Indiana doesn’t make the postseason. The Pacers are shopping him, and he’d be a nice pickup for any team looking to deepen their rotation.
19. LA Clippers (16-25): When Blake Griffin scored 47 points on 24 shots, he became just the 13th player in the last 20 seasons to score such a high figure on so few shots. TrueHoop did a nice job of breaking it down.
20. Golden State (18-23): According to the Contra Costa Times, over the last 13 games, Dorell Wright has averaged 20.4 points and 5.2 rebounds. Think the Miami Heat could use him in their rotation now?
21. Philadelphia (17-24): The 76ers might be the most confusing team in the NBA. They’ll lose to the Raptors twice in one week, and then play the Celtics tough. They’ll lose to the Bulls by 45 points one night, and then beat them by six another. Chalk that up to youth and the fact Andre Iguadola is their leader.
22. Milwaukee (15-24): A back injury has flared up for Bucks center Andrew Bogut. You wonder if the issue is something that will plague him for a while, considering that nasty fall he took last April. You know what they say: the bigger they are, the harder they fall … and the tougher it is to come back from it.
24. Detroit (15-27): Good thing the Pistons benched Richard Hamilton against the Celtics amid the trade rumors that would’ve sent him to New Jersey as part of a three-team ‘Melo trade — now that there’s no way the Nets are going to take on Rip’s contract without landing the big fish, too.
25. Washington (12-28): I saw this headline: “Lewis provides a steady influence for young Wizards.” Are we talking about Rashard Lewis? Well, I guess the headline didn’t distinguish whether it was a good or bad influence.
26. Toronto (13-29): The Raptors and Cavaliers have a combined 21 wins after the departures of Bosh and James. The Heat have 30 victories. Those guys were kind of important to their teams. Just a little.
27. New Jersey (11-31): Is anybody shocked by the fact that Prokhorov is pursuing Andrei Kirilenko. Next up: Timofey Mozgov. Let’s just hope they don’t turn out to be like Angelina Jolie‘s character in “Salt”.
28. Minnesota (10-33): I had to steal this line from Canis Hoopus: “Wesley Johnson: DNP (coach’s decision); Jonny Flynn: 15 minutes, 2 points; Ricky Rubio: tanning. What an awesome use of top lotto picks.”
29. Sacramento (9-31): The Maloofs could move to Anaheim. Sounds like a bad CBS comedy. Unfortunately, it could be a reality for Sacramento fans. If there are any of those.
30. Cleveland (8-33): Anderson Verajao out for the season. Mo Williams out for a couple weeks. Believe it or not, those are the Cavalier’s two best players. Now Cleveland fans literally have nothing to root for but a potential No. 1 pick in the lottery. Knowing their luck, though, that won’t happen.
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