|Nate Robinson will try to play against Heat||02.12.11 at 4:15 pm ET|
Nate Robinson was at the Celtics practice facility until 11 p.m. Friday night getting treatment on his bruised knee, which he injured in a freak collision with the Lakers’ Shannon Brown. He was at the facility again Saturday, but didn’t participate in the team’s practice, other than in the walkthrough segment.
With the Celtics down to just nine other healthy players, Robinson will try to go Sunday when they play the Heat at the Garden. “The pain in there is kind of funky so we’re just trying to ice it right now,” Robinson said.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Delonte West would not play Sunday, but may try to give it a go on Wednesday when they play the Nets in their final game before the All-Star break. Shaquille O’Neal (Achilles) and Semih Erden (groin) also won’t play and their return has been delayed until after the break at the earliest.
“Semih’s out until after the break and Shaq will be too,” Rivers said. “We don’t even know if they’ll be back after the break right now. Semih’s groin is not improving and Shaq’s Achilles is not improving at all. We thought we’d have them both back by the last game, but that’s fine. We’re good.”
Asked if Shaq’s injury has become worse, Rivers said, “It just hasn’t healed. It’s no worse, but it hasn’t healed as quickly.”
With Jermaine O’Neal (knee surgery) and Marquis Daniels (bruised spinal cord) also out for the next month at least, the Celtics need all the bodies they can muster for the next two games.
“We’ve just got to find a way to win regardless of who goes down,” Robinson said. “That’s why it’s called a team.”
|Delonte West gets closer to return||02.11.11 at 2:27 pm ET|
Delonte West wanted to play Thursday night against the Lakers. He went to the Celtics medical staff and argued his case. They debated the issue and that debate is what caused Doc Rivers to say, no. Not yet.
“I said if we have to go back and forth on it, then the answer is no,” Rivers said. “So, he’s going to practice Saturday. I would actually like him to play in the New Jersey game [next Wednesday] just to get him one game [before the All-Star break].”
Rivers left the door open for West to come back against Miami on Sunday. It will largely depend on how West does at practice, who went through his first full-contact work this week.
The Celtics may need him. Nate Robinson left the Lakers game at the 8:45 mark of the second quarter with a bruised knee and didn’t return. Without Robinson the Celtics bench was reduced to Glen Davis and Von Wafer. Rookie Avery Bradley played less than two minutes to finish out the third quarter because of foul trouble and fellow rookie Luke Harangody was a DNP-coaches decision.
The Celtics have been waiting for West for most of the season. He missed the first 10 games with a suspension and then broke his wrist just five games into his return. His return will help their backcourt depth, which has been depleted with the loss of Marquis Daniels.
|Doc Rivers: We weren’t up the challenge of the Lakers||at 10:57 am ET|
One characteristic Doc Rivers has always admired about his team was that it fights through almost every kind of adversity.
On Thursday night, he didn’t have that feeling. Whether it was the overwhelming number of injuries, the foul trouble of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Kobe being Kobe or just all of the above, Rivers just didn’t have the feeling that his team had the energy or will to overcome all of it. And that, more than the 92-86 loss to the Lakers at TD Garden seem to bug him the most.
“I thought they came out and jumped on us early in the third quarter, first –scored the first 10 points,” Rivers began. “And I never thought we fought through it, really. I mean obviously the fatigue and all that – you know, one of our concerns going into the game were Paul or Ray couldn’t get in foul trouble obviously, because of what we had left. And that happened.
“But I just thought mentally we were not a very good team tonight and usually we are. I didn’t think we fought hard enough through adversity, and we’re great at that usually.”
But not on this night. While the Celtics are not a great rebounding team to begin with, they usually find a knack of dominating their opponent in the paint. Not on this night when they were outscored, 50-32.
They usually get to loose balls and find a way to score on second-chance points. Not on this night. They were outscored, 16-9, in that category. And while Rajon Rondo posted his 21st double-double of the season, he was just 5-of-14 and – after feeding Ray Allen for his record-breaking three in transition – couldn’t let his team back. It didn’t help that Nate Robinson went down with a bruised right knee in the second quarter and didn’t return.
“It was one of those nights; I just thought we didn’t do a very good job of [battling],” Rivers said. “And we obviously did have a lot of adversity with the injury of Nate and foul trouble and the lack of bodies, but you know that that could happen before the game and I don’t think we handled that very well.”
And watching Kobe Bryant – with just three shots in the first half – take over in the third quarter didn’t help either.
“Well once he saw there was a chance to win, Kobe was going to be Kobe,” Rivers said. “I think we knew that a week ago. And, he also knew that we had foul problems on the floor and he was aggressive. Kobe didn’t win the game with his offense. Kobe won the game today with his defense. I thought defensively he was absolutely phenomenal. He was everywhere. He was trapping, he was helping, you know off Rondo all night, and trapped the post, blocked shots. I mean, he just had a great floor game to me more than just scoring.”
The Celtics face another NBA superstar when LeBron James and the Heat come calling on Sunday. The same Heat team that has been dominated twice this year by the Green. And whether or not Delonte West returns from a broken right wrist, the C’s better find their fight on Sunday or history will repeat itself.
|Nate Robinson’s strange season||01.21.11 at 7:33 pm ET|
One of the keys to having a player like Nate Robinson on a team like the Celtics is allowing him to do what he does best. Robinson is a scorer in a point guard’s body and it’s taken some time for both the player and the team to adjust to each other.
When he first arrived Robinson wanted to prove that he could fit in on an unselfish team, but his ability to create his own shot was exactly the reason they got him. Then there was the defensive end. Doc Rivers wanted him to defend fullcourt and it wasn’t until the playoffs that they got on the same page.
This season has been a different story. Robinson is playing defense. As our friends at Celtics Hub noticed, Robinson is part of the NBA’s best five-man unit in terms of defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) according to Basketball Value. The other four are Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O’Neal.
Playing with Garnett will make anyone’s team defensive numbers look better, but Robinson has taken to his role as a fullcourt pest, forcing his opponent to burn shot-clock time to get the ball over halfcourt.
On the other end, Robinson has become the high usage player the team envisioned, but his shot isn’t falling as it has in the past and there are times when perhaps he gets a little too perimeter heavy. Coming into Friday’s game with Utah, Robinson is shooting just 35 percent (21-for-60) in his last 10 games and has taken a rather incredible 55 of those shots from 16 feet and out.
Has he become too jumpshot happy?
“Depends on the shot,” Rivers said. “I’ll leave it there. We want him to make shots. He’s got open shots that he’s not making or making, I’m fine with that. But he does take some you don’t like. Honestly, with Nate I pretty much leave him alone. I’ll tell him after a game but I don’t think you correct a shooter during a game. Usually that’s with your teammates, they’re body language will tell him that that was a horrible shot.”
Asked if he wanted Robinson to try to get to the basket more (he’s taken just two shots at the rim in the last 10 games), Rivers said he’d like him to use more of his mid-range game, which has also been relatively non-existent.
“Not really,” Rivers said. “At his size getting to the basket is very difficult and very difficult for him to finish. I like his in-between game better than I do all the way to the basket.”
All that said Robinson has given the Celtics games and minutes. When Rajon Rondo was out with his various leg ailments, Robinson stepped in and soaked up major minutes. It wasn’t a perfect fit, but he did the job that was asked. The Celtics believe that when Delonte West returns from a broken wrist it will allow Robinson to really flourish. Until then, he is still searching for the elusive happy medium.
|Irish Coffee: Sorting through Celtics speak||01.14.11 at 11:21 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Check out this video of some chick named Kath singing Nate Robison‘s tweets. It starts to get pretty funny around the 53-second mark. My favorite lyric, courtesy of the Celtics’ backup guard: “Don’t you just feel like getting away from the world? I do, just me and my kids — eff everything else.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT …
Doc Rivers and Jermaine O’Neal discussed the injury-plagued Celtics on WEEI on Thursday, and Paul Pierce did the same in his blog on Celtics.com. If you listen to the links, you’ll learn a few things, like …
Rivers plans on sticking around for a while, as he discussed the possibility of passing Tommy Heinsohn for second among coaches on the team’s all-time winning list; he’s 119 games away, which would put him on the bench for at least another two seasons:
“Yeah, I could. That would be nice. That would mean that we’re doing well and playing well. That still takes a while. That would be nice to do. I would say that.”
Despite his original insistence that Kevin Garnett‘s absence didn’t hurt them in their loss to the Rockets, Rivers admitted that indeed the defense is falling apart without their All-Star forward:
“We watched tape the other day of our transition defense, and it screamed of no Kevin – that voice of telling guys to get back, get to your spot, look left, pick-and-roll defense. … It’s like losing the linebacker on your team who leads your team and tells everybody where they should go. Not having that hurts your defense.”
According to Rivers, Garnett is day-to-day but not ready to return yet, which seems to me like more than day-to-day:
“I hate dates, if you know what I mean. If anyone says two weeks or a week, that’s silly, because you don’t know how long anything’s going to take. He is day-to-day, very close, but just not ready yet.”
According to Jermaine O’Neal, his role on this team is to defend the pick-and-roll, block shots and rebound — which seems pretty simple for a guy who makes more than Glen Davis, Shaquille O’Neal and Semih Erden combined:
“This team is built a certain way, and it’s one of the rare teams that is really a system team, and it needs different components for the system to run right. You don’t need two batteries in the motor. You need different parts in the car to make it run, and I’m one of those parts — to help defensively to stop the pick and roll, block shots and get some rebounds.”
O’Neal also admitted that in-season knee surgery is not completely out of the question:
“That was definitely something we talked about the first time I was out for an extended period of time. We wanted to try a couple options, and that may be something that we’re looking at now. It’s something I will eventually need at the end of the season. You want to be around, and you don’t want to miss an extended period of time, and I’ve already done that. So, you make decisions as a player. … We’re going to make a decision on what’s best for me to get better, be done with the ailment and be back on the court full-time.”
The Celtics’ backup bigman believes that — if healthy — the Celtics are pretty much unstoppable:
“To have one of the best records in the league, and we haven’t had a full complement of players all year, that makes us feel a certain way. We feel like once we do get everyone back it’s going to be extremely, extremely tough to beat our team.”
The following guys are battling through injuries, according to Pierce: the O’Neal “brothers”, Robinson, Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Semih Erden and Delonte West:
“We’re taking it game by game. Fighting through injuries with Shaq, Jermaine, Rajon, Nate and Semih and KG all dinged up. It hurt me a lot to see Delonte go down with the broken wrist, but in the NBA, it’s always go time, so we can’t lose our focus when something like that happens.”
Good times all around. If the Celtics can hobble through Friday night’s game against the Bobcats, they’ll have two days off before facing the Magic on Monday. By then, Garnett could be back in the lineup for a much-needed boost.
CELTICS’ TRADE CHIPS
The NBA trade deadline is approaching in February, so HoopsWorld is detailing where each team stands in terms of needs, trade bait and salary cap. Here’s how they depict the Celtics:
Notable Trade Chips: Von Wafer (one year/$900K), Avery Bradley (two years/$3 million plus team options for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014), Marquis Daniels (one year/$2.5 million), Glen Davis (one year/$3.3 million), Luke Harangody (two years/$1.2 million) and Nate Robinson (two years/$8.7 million).
Salary Cap Situation: The Celtics are nearly $31 million over the cap this season and are $7.4 million over the luxury tax threshold.
Trade Exceptions: None
Their contention that the Celtics will be looking to deal for a backup point guard and center is fairly ridiculous, considering they’ll be adding West and Perkins over the next month, but it is at least worth noting who has value around the league and how much the C’s owners are investing in this team.
|Energy savings pay off for Nate Robinson and the Celtics||01.13.11 at 2:43 am ET|
Doc Rivers may have liked the way his team was playing in the first half than Monday night. He went as far as to say if the Celtics somehow managed to lose Wednesday to the 8-27 Kings at TD Garden, he could sleep well knowing his team played good, solid basketball.
But the truth of the matter is that Celtics fans were downright concerned when they saw the Kings – without their top scorer Tyreke Evans – wipe out an 8-0 lead and actually grab a lead, albeit very brief, in the first quarter. The Celtics kept spinning their wheels in the first half, even with Paul Pierce scoring 15 of his 25 points in the first quarter.
The Celtics – without big men Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O’Neal- looked fatigued and out of rhythm. They needed a spark and Nate Robinson was only too happy to provide it. Robinson came in and made 6-of-9 shots, including 4-of-5 from long distance.
Robinson was just 11-for-32 in his six games this month entering Wednesday. His 16 points off the bench provided instant energy and eventually allowed Doc Rivers to give his starters the fourth quarter off.
“That’s how you have to play every night,” Robinson said. “Play with a lot of energy and be yourself. Everything else will fall into place.”
After allowing the Rockets to make 21-of-34 shots in the second half on Monday, the Celtics – with a 57-49 halftime lead – were determined not to let it happen 48 hours later.
“Just continue to pick it up on defense,” Robinson said. “We have been lacking the last couple of games. Rebounding was a talking point as well. As a team today we dug down deep. We were like ‘we have to rebound and get stops and run’. We did that and got a lot of easy buckets tonight.
“Just do things harder. There is always another notch that you can go too. Just pick it up. We have to pick each other up regardless if it’s the starters or second team, everybody has to be tuned in together and play a full 48 minutes.”
Robinson had 16 to lead four bench players in double figures. Another player in double figures, Marquis Daniels with 12, could see what Robinson meant to the Celtics on Wednesday – instant energy and a very important player to help take minutes from Rondo and preserve him for the second half of the season.
“Little Nate played good tonight,” Daniels said. “He’s shooting the ball real well. He got his bird wings going. He’s playing real good right now. We just have to stay focused and stay hungry.”
In total, Semih Erden, Daniels, Robinson and Von Wafer all scored at least 10 points, outscoring Sacramento’s bench, 56-47. Daniels said it was very refreshing to see not only Robinson but the rest of the bench contribute offensively so the starters could enjoy the rest of the game from their courtside seats.
“Definitely, I saw Paul icing early, Ray is icing early, Rondo. It’s always a good thing to see those guys icing early,” Daniels said. “We are going to need those guys later down the line.”
|Irish Coffee: Does poor Celtics offensive rebounding matter?||01.12.11 at 11:48 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Despite losing two straight games, if you look at the Celtics’ statistics, there’s not much they’re doing poorly over the course of this season. They’ve made more field goals than their opponents while taking fewer shots. They’ve dished out more assists, snatched more steals, swatted more blocks and committed fewer turnovers.
In fact, only one number sticks out. The Celtics have been out-rebounded overall by four. More specifically, they’ve been out-boarded on the offensive glass by 97 and rank last this year in the category that Red Auerbach called “the hardest single phase of basketball.”
When you consider the fact that the C’s are shooting a league-leading 50.2 percent from the field — leaving fewer chances for themselves — that number is less glaring than at first glance, but does it matter at all? C’s head coach Doc Rivers doesn’t think so.
“I’m not a big believer in offensive rebounds,” said Rivers. “I think if you if you get back every single time and not get offensive rebounds, you probably save more points in the long run. So, that’s not a concern.”
Anyone who watched Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals — when the Lakers out-rebounded the Celtics 23-8 on the offensive end — might disagree with Rivers on that contention. While fans often rely on emotions for their arguments, Rivers can generally point to statistics to back up his statements, so let’s look to the numbers.
Here are the top-five NBA teams record-wise with their rank in offensive rebounds per game in parentheses:
- 1. Spurs (15th)
- 2. Heat (25th)
- 3. Celtics (30th)
- 4. Lakers (5th)
- 5. Mavericks (29th)
Here are the bottom-five NBA teams record-wise with their rank in offensive rebounds per game in parentheses:
- 26. Wizards (8th)
- 27. Nets (17th)
- 28. Kings (3rd)
- 29. Timberwolves (1st)
- 30. Cavaliers (28th)