|Doc Rivers: ‘Of course’ Celtics want to avoid Heat in playoffs.. ‘I’m not that dumb’||04.06.13 at 1:39 am ET|
Not that there was much of a doubt to begin with but Doc Rivers made it very clear after Friday’s 97-91 loss to the Cavaliers (which snapped Cleveland’s 10-game losing streak) that he wants no part of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
Thanks to the Bucks loss in New York to the Knicks Friday night, the Celtics (39-37) are two games up in the loss column on Milwaukee for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with just six games left.
Does he pay attention to the standings?
“I do but I don’t,” Rivers said in his best hedging language. “I really don’t. I know we’re in the seventh spot. I know we want to stay out of the eighth spot.
So, Rivers is actually admitting he wants avoid the Heat?
“Of course we would,” Rivers admitted when asked that very question. “But if we play them, we’ll be ready. But of course we would. Listen, I’m not that dumb. I’m not the brightest guy but come on. Really, you would love to avoid anyone [like Miami]. Listen, no matter who we play, we’re going to play a tough team. It’s going to be New York, Indiana or Miami. There’s no cakewalk for us. It’s going to be hard.”
To Rivers point, the Celtics are 1-3 this year against New York, 1-2 against Miami and 2-0 against Indiana. The Celtics play the Heat next weekend in Miami and the Pacers at the Garden on April 16.
Rivers was asked if he’s going out of his way to avoid playing his stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to get them as physically ready for the playoffs as possible. But Rivers said trainer Ed Lacerte took that decision out of his hands just before Friday’s game.
“No, I wanted Paul to play [against Cleveland] but he couldn’t, honestly,” Rivers said. “I would’ve played him if he could have. But right [before game] when Eddie said Paul’s [ankle] was swollen, that was an easy decision.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted after Friday night’s 97-91 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden that he is watching the standings and wants to avoid finishing eighth in the Eastern conference and a first round match up with the defending world champion Miami Heat. Rivers however stressed that whoever the Celtics face if it’s the Indiana Pacers or New York Knicks, it will be a tough matchup.
|Pat Riley to Danny Ainge: ‘Shut the F— up and manage’ the Celtics||03.29.13 at 7:11 pm ET|
Palm Beach Post columnist Ethan J. Skolnick was among the first to tweet Riley’s official reaction, delivered to the media by a team official: “Danny Ainge needs to shut the f— up and manage his own team. He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him.”
Correction to Riley quote: “Danny Ainge needs to shut the f— up and manage his own team.” My bad. Typing too fast.
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) March 29, 2013
James was far more mild-mannered.
“I’m not surprised about anything that comes from Boston,” Skolnick tweeted.
Ainge delivered his response to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
“We’re both right,” Ainge said. “LeBron should stop complaining and I should manage my own team.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has his own unique perspective. He played for Pat Riley with the Knicks at the end of his career. He tells stories of how tough Riley was on his own players and their conditioning. Rivers also played against Ainge in the prime of his career, when Ainge was on the Celtics and Rivers was on the Celtics.
“Yeah, I think it’s funny,” Rivers said. “I think it’s very interesting. I can relate. It’s cool. I think they should duke it out.”
Does Friday’s exchange add anything to the Celtics-Heat rivalry?
“Not unless they’re playing,” Rivers said. “Really. I just think it’s just talk both ways. I’ll just let those two grown men handle their own grown men argument. I’m going to stay out of it. On a side note, it gives me a smile and it’s interesting. I think it’s fun. It’s a flashback.”
Rivers wasn’t about to pass judgement either way on the fouls called on James at the end of the game with the Bulls on Wednesday.
“I did see those fouls,” Rivers said, before being asked what he thought. “I don’t know. I’m going to stay out of it.”
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|LeBron James ‘glad’ dunk came against Jason Terry||03.20.13 at 2:14 pm ET|
By now, you’ve seen LeBron James‘ monster dunk over Jason Terry that will probably go up against DeAndre Jordan‘s posterization of Brandon Knight for the NBA’s Dunk of the Year. Well, apparently so has LeBron.
“I’ve had a chance to [review] it, and it was one of my better ones,” James told ESPN.com two days after Miami’s 105-103 victory in Boston. “The fact that it happened to J.T. made it that much sweeter. Because we all know J.T. and he talks too much sometimes. And I’m glad it happened to him.”
The beef began when Terry’s Mavericks defeated LeBron’s Heat for the 2011 NBA title. It continued on the eve of Monday’s Celtics-Heat battle, when Terry declared in his diary: “I know ways to beat them,” and, “The blueprint is right here before us and we know it.” Strong words from the 6-foot-2, 180-pound C’s guard.
Then again, so were LeBron’s in the immediate aftermath of earning a taunting technical for standing over Terry like Godzilla over his own carnage. “I seen him down there,” James said Monday. “I guess he didn’t see me.”
Pretty sure he saw LeBron, who stands six inches taller and weighs 70 pounds more than Terry.
|Dwyane Wade: ‘There’s some dislike’ among Heat, Celtics||03.19.13 at 1:00 pm ET|
The celebration in the Heat locker room could be heard from the hallway after Miami’s 105-103 win over the Celtics on Monday night, which seemed strange — considering the absences of Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett — until Dwyane Wade reminded everyone his team doesn’t like Boston all that much.
“It’s a Celtics-Heat game,” said Wade, who scored 16 points in 36 minutes, mostly against Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee. “It’s always like that, man. Whether it’s the first game of the year or the last game of the year, it’s always like that. No matter who’s on the court, no matter who’s playing, it’s going to be a battle, and here they’ve beat us in those games. Tonight, we were able to pull it out, and it just shows the growth of our team.
“We know we’re getting the best from Boston every time we play them,” he added. “There’s a dislike there. It’s a different focus, especially here in this building.”
Conversely, the Garden crowd apparently focused its ire on former Celtics star turned Heat role player Ray Allen.
“Nobody pulled punches for me today,” said Allen, who scored six points in 30 minutes. “I heard some pretty brutal things in the building today, and people really let me know how they felt. I don’t go into it with any expectation, but I’m on the other team, so they’re going to say whatever they can and whatever they think they need to say.”
Maybe that’s why Allen pretended Celtics-Heat isn’t a rivalry in the aftermath of yet another memorable meeting.
“When I played here, our rivals were the Lakers, Pistons and New York,” said Allen. “That’s deep-seeded. It comes from a lot of basketball, and we’ll see how the years go to determine if that’s the case.”
OK, then. So, I guess those 20 games and 980 minutes of basketball between the two teams over the past three seasons have just been all in good fun. I don’t remember Rondo laughing when Wade dislocated his elbow, when Paul Pierce head-butted James Jones, when LeBron James laughed in Garnett’s face or when KG ignored Allen’s return to Boston. It’s kind of a touchy subject, especially if you ask LeBron.
‘Why does it always have to be, ‘They gave us a war’?” said James. “There’s never us giving anybody else a war, huh? That’s how y’all like it? That’s all that matters is the win. That’s all that matters.’
For more on the rivalry — and that’s exactly what it is — read this column: “James, Heat don’t scare Celtics.”
He spoke of his dislike bordering on hatred for the Miami Heat. A heartbreaking, gut-wrenching 105-103 loss to Miami Monday night at TD Garden did little to change that.
“We know what type of team we are. We’re dangerous. So, we’re encouraged. We’re definitely encouraged. We’re not going to keep our head down. This was a self-inflicted game here we lost. Give them credit. They’ve won however many games (23) in a row – hope they lose the rest.
“We’re disappointed, obviously. You have a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, you have to get the job done. So, we had a lot of mistakes that we made offensively and defensively that are correctable errors so we just have to get back in here and grind.”
Terry also had this observation about Jeff Green and his 43-point night.
“He came to play. When he comes to play like that, obviously we’re tough to beat,” Green began. “He just has to continue to be aggressive. We’ve said it all year long, when Jeff Green is aggressive, he’s just as good as everybody else out there on the floor. We look for him to continue to do so, take advantage of the match-ups out there because on any given night he’s the most athletic player on the floor.
“Three, four, five whatever position you want put him at, he’s definitely a tough cover when he’s playing like he was playing tonight.”
For Doc Rivers, Monday night was a preview of the playoffs and a good barometer to see how new players would handle it and how his team would do the same, overall. Terry said it’s been like that for a while.
“It’s been like that for us for about a month now,” Terry said. “We just have to continue to grind it out.
“It’s not about competing for us. It’s about winning. We’re already confident, we already know what we’re capable of doing. We just have to continue to build, continue to get better, use this as a learning lesson and move forward.
“Not only take care of the ball but defensively, you have [to protect] a 10-point lead,” Terry said. “Our game is predicated on our defense. We gave up three layups and they cut the lead in a minute and a half. That can’t happen.”
|Jeff Green on his Celtics performance for the ages: ‘I didn’t pay attention’ to 43 points||at 12:43 am ET|
Jeff Green scored a career-high 43 points, including 26 in the first half, but it was not enough as LeBron James countered with 37 points, including the game-winning basket with 10.5 seconds remaining, as the Heat extended their winning streak to 23 games with a 105-103 win over the heartbroken Celtics on Monday night at TD Garden.
This was a sample of what Green had to say after the game:
On his 43 points: “I didn’t pay attention to that. I was just in a zone. The ball just kept going in.”
On Doc Rivers saying he needed a blow in the fourth quarter: ‘Yeah, I was tired. I was guarding one of the best players on the floor. You know, I played basically the whole game. But I mean, we still had a chance to win. Those couple of minutes that I was out we were up probably eight at the time, so we still were in the lead, so we just got to figure out a way to win at the end.’
On fans chanting his name: ‘Yeah, I heard it. It’s a good feeling, but you’ve just got to stay in the game, stay focused. Think about the next play.’
On the confidence a game like this give him moving forward: ‘Every game’s a new game, every team is different. You’ve got to find different ways to attack. You’ve got to find different ways to help your team out. So, I mean, the next game is going to be a lot different than this game, so I just have got to figure out another way, of how I can continue to stay aggressive.’
On if Kevin Garnett being out changed his mindset: ‘No. Even if he’s in, I still have got to continue to be aggressive.
‘You know, you can’t rely on a jump shot. I know I missed a couple at the beginning of the game. That’s when I’ve got to try to get to the free throw line, try to get a rhythm, and I did.
‘It was the best team in the league and we took them to their breaking point. We’ve just got to, when Kevin comes back, continue to play like we did today. With the addition of him, I think we will be more lethal. So as long as we continue to attack, get stops, we’ll be in pretty good shape.’
|Fast Break: LeBron James spoils Jeff Green’s career night||03.18.13 at 11:00 pm ET|
Jeff Green (career-high 43 points) became the first Celtics player not named Paul Pierce in more than 12 years to score 43 points in the regular season, and it still wasn’t enough to end the Heat’s winning streak, which LeBron James (37 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds) extended to 23 games in a 105-103 thriller in the Garden.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Garnett loss: Considering they shot 62 percent from the field in the first half, the Celtics’ offense didn’t miss Garnett all that much — thanks to Green’s monster night. The defense? Different story. After building a 17-point lead, the C’s allowed five straight second-quarter layups. Doc Rivers quickly reinserted Avery Bradley — whose ridiculous chase-down block of Norris Cole gave the C’s a brief lift — but Miami responded with a 12-4 run to close the half, taking a more manageable six-point deficit into the break. That doesn’t happen with Garnett. Of course, neither do the Heat’s 8-0 run to start the second half nor the 18-4 string down the stretch of the fourth quarter, each of which erased comfortable Celtics leads.
LeBron being LeBron: Growing increasingly frustrated with his teammates — even showing up Chris Bosh when the Heat center allowed Brandon Bass to waltz into lane for an offensive rebound on a missed free throw — James took over. He showed again and again why he’s the game’s greatest player, even if for one night Green gave him a run for his money. When he wasn’t posterizing Jason Terry, he was drawing defenders and finding everyone from Ray Allen to Shane Battier for wide-open 3-point attempts.
Bench pressed: At some point, there’s a breaking point. Since Garnett’s absence moved Green into the starting lineup, the reserves featured only two players who started the season with the Celtics. Outside of Jason Terry, who knocked down four of his six attempts in 24 minutes, the C’s didn’t get much from the rest of the roster. For the most part, Jordan Crawford (8 points) seemed lost, Chris Wilcox racked up the fouls and the China trio of Terrence Williams, D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph didn’t see the floor.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Green lantern: Either James and Green switched jerseys, or Green played his best basketball in a Celtics uniform. The C’s closed the first quarter on a 17-0 run, including 12 points from Green, to take a 31-19 lead after one. That momentum carried into the second, as Green scored 22 points in a span of 10:43, nearly playing the Heat to a standstill (24-22) through the games’s first 15 minutes. What’s more, he grabbed six boards in that same span — twice his season average. Basically, Green unlocked God mode for 15 minutes.
Truth matters: You can bet Rivers took mental note as his starting combination of Green and Pierce gave the Heat fits. While Miami attempted to guard one of the two with Udonis Haslem (and for some reasonn Chris Andersen), Green and Pierce took advantage. As the former enjoyed a career night, the latter submitted another retro performance, quietly approaching a triple-double (17 points, 8 assists, 8 rebounds) in tandem.
Quality Lee: Courtney Lee followed up perhaps his most complete performance of the season (13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks against the Bobcats) with another solid effort against the Heat. He contributed 13 points — including a huge fourth-qaurter triple to snap a 9-0 Heat run — to go along with four assists, three rebounds and three steals. His performance helped offset a mostly underwhelming night for fellow pitbull Avery Bradley, who struggled in the face of fullcourt pressure from Miami’s Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole.
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