|Irish Coffee: 10 things I Heard About Celtics||08.03.12 at 2:28 pm ET|
If watching Celtics strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo attempt to defend three-time NBA All-Star Rajon Rondo (see video above, h/t ballislife.com) isn’t enough enjoyment for one Friday afternoon in the NBA’s dog days of August, here is the latest edition of 10 Things I Heard About Celtics, where despite another slow news day we gather all the information we can about Boston’s green men.
10. Green peace: Well, I guess this one falls more under “things I haven’t heard about Celtics,” since inquiries about Green to the team and his agent David Falk have so far gone unanswered, so in all likelihood his reported four-year, $36 million deal remains unsigned.
Obviously, since he cannot be signed-and-traded as a result of the new collective bargaining agreement, the first reason that comes to mind for such a delay is Green’s health following heart surgery this past winter, but I can think of two other possibilities: 1) The two sides are ironing out clauses that would protect the team against the possibility of a recurring heart ailment, and/or 2) The CBA is so complicated, and the Celtics are so close to the salary cap, Danny Ainge & Co. are waiting to see if they’ll use the bi-annual exception.
If the Celtics begin the season with a minimum salary player rather than using their exception this season, they can frontload Green’s deal for an extra million dollars, so they could potentially free up some cap space — however small it may be — in Year 2, 3 or 4 of the deal. Then again, the delay might involve an entirely different scenario altogether. With both sides remaining mum on the issue, it’s all speculation at this point.
|Marquis Daniels saves the day||06.02.12 at 2:23 am ET|
Doc Rivers told Marquis Daniels to be ready. Then he didn’t play. Rivers didn’t tell Daniels anything before Game 3, but there he was checking into the game in the first quarter after Brandon Bass got into foul trouble.
“Hopefully,” Daniels said. “He doesn’t say anything to me next game.”
Daniels scored nine points and had five rebounds in the Celtics’ 101-91 victory. That was the “gravy” as Rivers called it. What he really needed from Daniels, and from Keyon Dooling and from whoever else he throws out there from his patchwork bench, is defense and that’s one thing Daniels has always been able to provide.
Rivers went with a small lineup against Miami, mainly because he has no choice. Without Chris Bosh, the Heat are getting extended minutes from Shane Battier and Mike Miller and the Celtics are scrambling to matchup. Fortunately, Rivers has bodies to throw at the problem and this time he used them.
Daniels was plus-14 in his 19 minutes and Dooling was plus-10. Together, they brought the defense. Dooling, with his manic, wired intensity and Daniels with his cerebral, give no quarter approach.
“I thought what the second unit did was they came in with a defensive energy that changed the game,” Rivers said. “And they scored off the defense. They got stops, they ran the floor, Marquis cut and got to the basket. Marquis made great passes, and then we posted him up a couple of times as well. But I thought it was more from that. And that’s who they are. Listen, they are not going to put up great numbers offensively, but they know exactly who they are. They accept that, and they are comfortable with that.”
In his second go-round with the Celtics, Daniels has been even more enigmatic than his first tour. He seemingly lost the ability to finish inside and with that went his playing time. That’s what separates this Celtics’ team from some of the others. Rotations have changed, playing time has fluctuated, but there have been no gripes and no complaints. Everyone just stays ready.
“Guys on the bench, they are registered professionals,” Paul Pierce said. “Marquis hasn’t really played a lot for us in this series, but when his name was called upon he was ready. That’s what being a professional is all about. Everyday he comes in, gets his work in.”
Daniels made one other huge contribution in the playoffs. In Game 2 against the Hawks, he helped shutdown Joe Johnson in a must-win performance. The stakes and the magnitude of the competition were even greater this time, but Daniels was ready.
“I continue to go back to Marquis because he’s a guy who hasn’t played much throughout these playoffs,” Dooling said. “I spend a lot of time with him off the court and there are a lot of frustrating nights for him. But through all the frustration he is able to keep a level of professionalism that is second to none. Imagine not playing much throughout these whole playoffs and having the cardio to play against some of the best athletes we have in our league- and be able to excel. I tip my hat to him.”
|Irish Coffee: Marquis Daniels to the Celtics’ rescue?||05.30.12 at 11:24 am ET|
The Celtics ran into this same question last season, and surely will have to answer it next year and the year after that: Who gives Paul Pierce a break defending LeBron James?
James played 44 minutes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and Pierce was on the floor for 40 of them. While chasing the NBA MVP around as he took 30 percent of Miami’s 72 field goal attempts and scored 32 of the Heat’s 93 points, the Celtics captain had little left in the tank on the offensive end.
Pierce finished with 12 points on 5-of-18 field goals and failed to get to the free throw line, where he’s made his bones on a bum knee during this playoff run. It was only the third time in his career he didn’t attempt a foul shot in a playoff game, and two of those have come since he sprained the MCL in his left knee.
Jeff Green was supposed to be the guy who could spare Pierce for even a handful of minutes, and he actually did a fairly good job against James in the 2011 playoffs, but that hope ended in heart surgery and a lost season. Then, Mickael Pietrus showed potential as that guy, but he’s had to assume the backup duties to Ray Allen on Dwyane Wade in Avery Bradley‘s absence, and that problem is only becoming more complicated.
That leaves Celtics coach Doc Rivers with Sasha Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels as his last two options.
|An ugly game could be a thing of beauty for Sasha Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels||04.25.12 at 9:19 am ET|
To Doc Rivers, no minutes or players are ever insignificant. Even in a game that had most starters on both sides taking the night off to rest for the playoffs.
To Rivers, a game like Tuesday is the perfect time to get players like Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic tuned up, just in case he might be needed in the playoffs. And given how this year has progressed, it’s certainly a good idea not to rule any possibility out.
Pavlovic had 12 of his game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter, as he made five of his six attempts from the floor, while Daniels sparked the surge that put the game away with a high-flying dunk as the Celtics beat the Heat, 78-66, at the Garden.
Like most of the starters on both teams, Pavlovic did not have a good start to the game. He was on the floor with the starters who opened the game 0-for-7 for Boston as the Celtics fell behind 11-0. He missed both of his shots in the opening 12 minutes and was scoreless in the first half.
But then he turned it on in the second half, finishing with a flourish in the fourth quarter when he nailed a couple of open threes during a 10-0 Boston run.
“If I’m wide open I shouldn’t be hesitant and that’s what I’m trying to do,” Pavlovic said. “The most important thing with me, just don’t think and shoot the ball when I’m wide open. I started kind of slow in the first half, Doc was on me about that. He told me just to play to it, I took a couple bad shots in the first half. I just came out in the second half and played as hard as I could defensively and whenever I had an open shot I just took it.”
“That was huge for Sasha. I thought it was – especially in the fact that Sasha really struggled in the first half and then he came in the second half and played terrific,” Rivers said.
Daniels and Pavlovic have both spent time this season, languishing at the end of the Celtics’ bench with little or no hope of playing time. “DNP-Coach’s Decision” has appeared on their line in many boxscores this season.
But not Tuesday. On a night the Celtics kept alive their hopes of home court advantage, both of them had big roles as Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Mickael Pietrus and Greg Stiemsma got the night off. Read the rest of this entry »
|Doc Rivers: ‘Someone had to win the game’||at 12:45 am ET|
How do you explain a game in which you fall behind 11-0 to the No. 2 team in the East, don’t score for the first six minutes, 15 seconds, score 10 points in the first quarter on your home court (28 for the half) only to win going away by 12 points?
“Well, someone had to win the game,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of the 78-66 slopfest that Boston managed not to lose against Miami Tuesday at the Garden. “And we did, which was really nice. You know these games are still important, probably for both teams. I’m sure (Erik Spoelstra) is still looking at guys. We pretty much know our rotation, but someone else is always going to help you in playoffs, and games like this can give you confidence.”
With Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Mickael Pietrus, Ray Allen and Greg Stiemsma all getting the night off, Paul Pierce played just 18 minutes and scored eight points. Instead, it was Sasha Pavlovic leading the way with 16 points and Marquis Daniels adding 13 to help the Celtics to their 38th win of the season.
“That was huge for Sasha,” Rivers said. “I thought it was – especially in the fact that Sasha really struggled in the first half and then he came in the second half and played terrific. I thought for (E’Twaun Moore), just playing that amount of minutes at the point-guard position was good for him. And, so, there were a lot of good things in our way for that. You know it every year: someone who plays a little bit comes in in the playoffs and has a big game for you. Marquis, again. So all those guys I thought the game was very important for.”
It certainly wasn’t easy for Pierce.
“Yeah, Paul was just – you could see he was struggling,” Rivers said. “Also struggling with spacing, too. I mean, he’s used to Ray and Paul and Kevin and those guys spacing the floor; he spun one time, he should’ve been by himself, and three of our guys were in his way. It’s all that.”
|Fast Break: Celtics topple Heat on starless night||04.24.12 at 10:42 pm ET|
Of the seven current or former NBA All-Stars on the Celtics and Heat rosters, only Paul Pierce graced the Garden parquet on Tuesday night, and even he only played 18 minutes. That left major minutes for guys like Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic, the only C’s to reach double figures in an ugly 78-66 victory against the Heat.
Pavlovic (16 points) and Daniels (13 points) helped the Celtics (38-27) outscore Miami 28-16 in the fourth quarter and finish the season 3-1 against the Heat. With only a home game against the Bucks on Thursday remaining, the Celtics trail the Hawks (39-26) — 109-102 winners over the Clippers — by a game. As division winners, the Celtics own the tiebreaker for home court advantage in their first-round playoff series, but they would have to beat Milwaukee and hope Atlanta loses to the Mavericks.
Dexter Pittman (12 points) led the Heat (46-19), who officially conceded the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed to the Bulls.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Quis to the game: From the season opener on Christmas Day to April 19, Daniels never reached double digits in scoring or grabbed more than six rebounds in a single night. He almost exceeded both those benchmarks in the last two games. After totaling 12 points and eight boards against the Hawks on Friday night, he amassed 13 points and five rebounds against the Heat. He’s not likely to see much, if any, playing time in the playoffs, but at least something other than his shoes did the shining.
Block party: With the Celtics clinging to a 54-52 lead in the fourth quarter (yes, the fourth quarter), rookie JaJuan Johnson blocked a Juwan Howard layup attempt. Just 42 seconds later, newly signed Boston College product Sean Williams blocked Howard’s 10-foot baseline jumper, sending it into the stands for a 24-second violation. Williams sandwiched a four points around his rejection to help the C’s establish a six-point lead.
Heroic Herren: Each home game, the Celtics honor a member of the community who goes to extraordinary lengths to help those in need with a “Heroes Among Us” ceremony. Tuesday, the C’s recognized a member of their own community: Chris Herren. The Fall River native and Durfee High graduate battled substance abuse issues throughout a career that led the former McDonald’s All-American to Boston College, Fresno State, the Nuggets (No. 33 overall pick in 1999 NBA Draft) and the Celtics before several destinations abroad. Since recovering from addiction, a journey detailed in the ESPN Films production “Unguarded,” Herren founded Project Purple to fight drug abuse. As a result, he found himself back on the Garden parquet, the recipient of a rousing standing ovation — this time in a suit, clean and sober.
|Irish Coffee: It’s not the Celtics bench’s fault||01.30.12 at 7:40 pm ET|
After the Celtics blew an 11-point lead to the Cavaliers with a little more than five minutes left, Paul Pierce told reporters, “Maybe I should play a little bit more” in the fourth quarter. In so many words, the bench blew the game.
Not so. A lineup of E’Twaun Moore, Mickael Pietrus, Sasha Pavlovic, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett entered the final 12 minutes with an eight-point lead, and various combinations of four reserves and one starter played Cleveland even until Pierce re-entered the game with 3:42 remaining and the Celtics holding an 87-79 lead.
In fact, rarely has any of the 10 losses through the first third of the season fallen on the Celtics bench’s shoulders. Just the opposite. With Garnett the lone starter to play all 19 games, an argument could rather easily be made that the C’s reserves are the main reason the team hasn’t started worse than 9-10.
“The first full month has been a tough month for us, but we are a team of workers,” KG said last week. “Since I’ve been here, that’s all we’ve done. We haven’t really leaned on a lot of the talent, moreso the hard work.”
While Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal have all nursed injuries through the first four weeks of the lockout-shortened season, the hodgepodge that includes a second-year guard, a pair of trade acquisitions, two free agent signings and three rookies has formed some semblance of a cohesive group.
THE STALWARTS Read the rest of this entry »