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Doc Rivers to Nate Robinson: Don’t worry, you don’t suck 12.17.10 at 12:34 am ET
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Doc Rivers could tell early on that Nate Robinson was having trouble getting into the flow of the game as he struggled with his passes and running the Celtics offense in the first half Thursday night against Atlanta.

There was a bullet pass from Robinson to Semih Erden in the low post that didn’t quite make it there as Josh Smith stepped into the lane for the easy steal. There was a pass intended for Ray Allen that sailed out of bounds later in the first half.

How bad was it? Even when Nate was hustling his rear off to grab a loose ball headed toward the Hawks basket, he flipped to the lane – expecting Kevin Garnett to catch and slam. But instead, the pass was picked off by Mike Bibby, who fed Jordan Collins for an open three, which Collins hit to add salt to the wound.

All of that added up to seven points, only two assists and four turnovers in the first half for the man who will be filling in for Rajon Rondo over the next two weeks as Rondo heals a sprained left ankle. Rivers said he had to have a heart-to-heart with Robinson, telling him to keep his head up and remind him that he didn’t think Robinson “sucked” just because he was having trouble finding his game.

“You know what I told Nate at halftime?” Rivers began. “I said, ‘Nate, just a notice for you. You’re the starting point guard now, and I’m going to give you a lot of instruction. It’s not criticism.’ You know, and Nate tends to – he gets coaching at times, he hangs his head, and it was at a point in the second quarter I couldn’t even give him a play because he thought I was going to tell him, ‘Nate, you suck’ or something.”

Robinson seemed to take Rivers’ words to heart.

“Just keep playing, play through adversity,” Robinson said. “Just turn the page. I was being a little timid in first half. Second half, he told me to just be me. I think I did that.”

Rivers knew full well that he might be dealing with a point guard that was getting overwhelmed.

“I don’t know what he thought I was going to say,” Rivers said. “And he was great. He even started laughing at halftime. I thought that relaxed him, and allowed him to play a little bit more. But with Rondo, you know, I’m so used to telling him what I need everybody – ‘Rondo, tell Paul this.’ I was doing that with Nate and Nate was like, ‘Enough! No more. I don’t want—’ and he finally got what I was doing. I guess he just has to get used to that.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Ainge: Rajon Rondo will miss a couple of weeks 12.16.10 at 4:30 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo

Speaking to WEEI’s Big Show, Celtics president Danny Ainge said that he thinks Rajon Rondo will be out for “a couple of weeks” following a sprained ankle he suffered in the fourth quarter of the Celtics 118-116 win over the Knicks Wednesday night.

(To hear the whole interview, click here.)

Rondo had to be helped back to the locker room, but he did return after the game.

“I think that the adrenaline was still flowing,” Ainge said. “I think that Rajon is young, and he feels fast and he loves to play, to his credit. I couldn’t believe he was back on the court last night. He wasn’t moving very well, even when he got back out on the court. You could tell he was still in a lot of pain, and certainly after the game it started puffing up. This morning there was a lot of swelling, and he definitely needs some time off.”

There is obviously no definitive timeline yet as to how long Rondo will be out, but he has been visibly bothered by a growing number of injuries, including plantar fasciitis and a hamstring injury that has caused him to miss four games.

Rondo has steadfastly maintained that he is fine, and his teammates have noted, and appreciated, his toughness. But Wednesday night, even Rondo seemed resigned. “It’s a little bit of everything,” he said with a sigh. “Something new every game. It’s just part of it.”

After the Knicks game, reporters were ushered into the team’s training room in the visiting locker room at Madison Square Garden, a place that is normally off-limits to the press, to talk with Rondo who was sitting on a bench with his left shoe off. “It hurts,” he said. “But all ankle sprains hurt.”

CSNNE’s Greg Dickerson reported that Rondo was on crutches as he made his way to the team bus.

While he expressed his desire to continue playing, few among the Celtics believed that would be possible. Without knowing the extent of the injury, Paul Pierce noted that it didn’t look good.

“He’s been banged up over the last month.,” Pierce said. “There’s probably a slim chance we’ll have him [Thursday]. So, we’ve played a few games without him. We’ve got to make adjustments, that happens. But hey, what’s new for us? We got a lot of guys going down right now, and we keep finding ways.”

In his absence, Nate Robinson has played some of his best games this season. He scored 22 points in a loss against Toronto (the last game the Celtics have lost) and followed that up with a 16-point, 10-assist performance against the Hawks. In a win over New Jersey on Dec. 5, Robinson scored 21 points to go with six assists and six rebounds.

All told, Robinson is shooting 25-for-40 and 11-for-19 from 3-point range in his four starts.

“Nate has been playing very well for us,” Ainge said, “And now he’s going to have to step it up and play more minutes.”

Read More: Danny Ainge, injuries, Nate Robinson, Rajon Rondo
Irish Coffee: The Celtics’ homecourt advantage 12.09.10 at 11:24 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Asked, simply, if the Celtics enjoy a true homecourt advantage in Boston, Ray Allen responded, even more simply, “Always.”

Which is why last season’s 24-17 home record is all the more puzzling. After Wednesday’s victory against the Nuggets, the Celtics are 10-1 in the Garden. Their best 11-game stretch last year was 8-3 (also to start the season). Whatever the reason, the Celtics have regained the homecourt advantage they enjoyed when they finished 35-6 in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

“I think we do [have an advantage], just because our fans are the best in the world,” Nate Robinson said. “Other teams know when they’re coming here, they’re going to get the best of our fans every time they come.”

In theory, or at least in my theory, the Celtics benefit from fan support in the first quarter (when fans are fired up for the tip) and second half (when the game is more interesting — and important). A second-quarter letdown is understandble, considering the Celtics, their fans and opponents are getting comfortable at that point.

The stats certainly support that theory. Take a look at the team’s plus/minus in each quarter this season:

HOME: +54 (Q1), -2 (Q2), +30 (Q3), +18 (Q4)
ROAD: +51 (Q1), +44 (Q2), +12 (Q3), -8 (Q4)

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Nate Robinson, NBA, Rajon Rondo
Irish Coffee: 10 ‘The Association’ observations 12.06.10 at 12:16 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

In case you missed “The Association” — NBA Entertainment’s behind-the-scenes documentary of the Celtics — on Friday night, here are 10 observations from the first episode:

1. When do the Celtics play the Lakers?

Because the vengeance factor on a scale of 1-10 is going to be an 11. Obviously, that Game 7 loss in Los Angeles hurt the C’s, but watching them talk about it gives you an idea of how deep it struck them and how hard it drives them.

“Once you went back to the locker room without that trophy in your hand, it settled in,” Paul Pierce said. “It’s like you lost your best friend or something.”

The Celtics revisit the Lakers rivaly for the first time this season on Jan. 30, in Los Angeles. Where is Doc Rivers going to hide the money this time?

2. Mark my words: Rivers will coach the Celtics in 2011-12.

Ever since the start of the season, there’s been discussion about whether or not Rivers will return to the Celtics bench again next season. Heck, he even discussed his hesitations about returning this season.

“It was a difficult process,” Rivers said. “My first thing was my family, and the bottom line is that if I thought that me coaching would affect my family in the wrong way, I was out. My family, on the other hand, pushed me to coaching. They really wanted me to coach, especially the kids. They all to a man wanted me to come back, see if we could get this together and go for it one more time.”

My question is this: If his family wanted him to return this season — when two of his sons would be playing together for their high school basketball team — why would they urge him otherwise next season, when three of his four children will have already graduated high school and left home?

3. Ahh, to be a fly on the wall when the veterans talk sports.

“The Association” provided a glimpse, taking us inside the trainer’s room during a discussion between Shaquille O’Neal, Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal that centered on what it means to be athletic.

“I’m not an athlete,” Shaq said. “I ain’t never had athletic skills. It’s hard work. My definition of athletic is somebody that starts off like that. I’m not an athlete. I’m just a good dancer.”

Hearing these guys talk about sports is like what it would’ve been to hear Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Robert Duvall discuss the art of acting while they filmed Parts 1 and 2 of “The Godfather.”

4. The Celtics are embracing a unique experience.

Whether or not we get to be a fly on the wall with the Celtics, the important thing is they’re embracing the fact that it’s unique for them to be part of a team that features six former All-Stars and five potential Hall of Famers.

“Moments like this I cherish, because I’ve been on teams where you don’t have this opportunity,” Pierce said. “When you continue to play with All-Stars like — at one point, we had Kevin [Garnett] and Shaq on one team with Jermaine and me and Ray coming in. It was just like, man, you felt that in the gym.”

On a young team, like the Heat, players might look at the big picture: We could win some championships over the next eight years. On this veteran Celtics team, however, there is no big picture. It’s now or never, and they seem to get that.

5. The home opener against the Heat really didn’t mean anything.

In the wake of the league’s most hyped opening night game in its history, when the veteran Celtics disposed of the newlook Heat, all Rivers had to say to his team in the locker room was this: “Great win. Let’s get out of here.”

“People not acknowledging a giant that’s already been there and done it, that tested us in the wrong spot,” Glen Davis said. “Us as players demand respect.”

Even from behind the scenes, all that game appeared to be for the Celtics was one game in a season-long voyage to recapture the league’s respect.

6. Rajon Rondo dives for loose balls in practices.

It was one clip in a brief montage of a team practice, but it told you everything you need to know about the Celtics point guard. His leadership was born in hard work, and it’s grown on the court more than off of it.

“There was a time when I sat down with Rajon, and I said, ‘Here’s 10 characteristics of a leader, and you don’t fit any of these characteristics right now,’” said Celtics president Danny Ainge. “It was a challenge early on, because I think he wanted to be a leader, but he was trying to carve out his own niche amongst the Hall of Famers he was playing with.”

Whether or not Rondo is the best point guard in the NBA, the important thing is that he believes he is, and he’s stubborn enough to prove it. I enjoyed how Rivers summed up his protege with one word: “Rondo is a fire.”

7. How can you not root for Delonte West?

West stood alone, firing shot after shot from the corner of the Celtics’ practice facility. He was in his element. Then, speaking to the camera, holding back tears, he was once again out of it.

“I’m overcome with emotions that I’ve never had before,” West said. “It’s like I’ve been given another shot at life. All of this was almost taken from me. Basketball is my life.”

And that was filmed before he broke his wrist. His journey back to the Celtics has been a long one, and now it’s only going to be longer.

8. Old dogs can learn new tricks.

Rivers had told John Havlicek if he ever draws up a play not to hesitate to bring it by a practice. Well, Havlicek did. With guys like Hondo and Tommy Heinsohn around, you sometimes forget how much knowledge the C’s have to draw from.

“Celtic pride and Celtic mystique, there is something real to it,” Havlicek said. “There’s just something that comes out of you, knowing that you have that Green jersey on, and I knew that players coming from other teams to our team all of the sudden were transformed into another way of thinking.”

It’s pretty amazing that the Celtics organization allows for guys like Doc and Shaq to continue learning about the sport, even after being around it for so long.

9. Even on the Celtics, office dynamics can be a funny thing.

There were two internal relationships you got a real sense of from watching “The Association”: 1) Garnett and Rondo, and 2) Shaq and Kendrick Perkins.

“Seriously, out of the eight years I’ve been in the NBA, this might be the craziest team I’ve ever been on — just as far as personality,” Perkins said. “You got Paul. You got KG and Rondo. KG and Rondo are like those two brothers who grew up in the same house, but their momma always had to get on them about fighting. They really love each other at the end of the day. That’s those two. Me and Doc call them the two divas of the team.”

First, the transformation of Shaq’s relationship with Perkins — from foes to friends — is real. You don’t kiss somebody on the cheek you don’t like. It’s that simple. And second, especially with the “that ain’t no foul” back-and-forth between KG and Rondo, it’s nice to see some insight into two Celtics whose personalities you don’t often get to witness.

10. At this point, the 2008 NBA title means nothing.

Sure, the banner hangs overhead every time they take to the parquet, but it really means nothing to the leadership of this team. They know, above all, if they want to be remembered as true Celtics, they need ring No. 2.

“You win a title, no one can take it away from you,” Rivers said. “But if you want to be mentioned as part of one of the great teams here, you have to win two.”

Not many teams can draw from that extra motivation once they’ve proven themselves by winning an NBA championship. Well, besides the Lakers.

Stay tuned. The next episode of “The Association airs on Jan. 21.

Is Shaquille O'Neal (right) working on his moves for "Dancing with the Stars"?

SHAQ ‘DANCING WITH THE STARS’?

After the Celtics’ victory against the Bulls on Friday night, NBA TV interviewed Shaq. Rick Fox said that he opened the door for big men to compete on “Dancing with the Stars,” and then asked Shaq if he’d be open to the idea.

Shaq didn’t deny his interest. He is, however, going to challenge 75 kids to a dance-off with the “Michael Jackson: The Experience” video game, as part of a holiday charity event at the Boys & Girls Club of Roxbury, according to the Boston Herald’s Inside Track.

As far as the rest of the interview goes, the most interesting portion came when Shaq said he was feeling more like a 16-year veteran than an 18-year veteran, as a result of missing at least 20 games in five of his past six seasons.

“I just want to be remembered as either the most dominant big man to ever play the game or one of the most dominant big men, and I would like to have four or five or six rings. I’m just playing. I’ve still got about two years left. I missed two years because of injury, so my legs are feeling good. Hopefully, I can get No. 5 and No. 6. That’s my goal.”

NATE ROBINSON NOT LACKING CONFIDENCE

Following what was probably his most complete performance of the season — 21 points, six assists and six steals in 31 minutes as the starting point guard in place of Rondo — Nate Robinson told the New York Post he’s not lacking self esteem.

“When I shoot, I feel I can make every shot,” he said. “I feel like I can’t be stopped.”

I guess Rondo isn’t the only Celtics point guard with a healthy dose of arrogance.

CELTICS NEVER LACK STORYLINES

Even after a lazy Sunday afternoon game against the Nets, when the Celtics lit them up in a 25-point blowout, there was plenty talk about. Just take a look at Steve Bulpett’s notebook from the Herald …

Is there anybody who takes more lumps than Big Baby? Apparently, he was beaned in the head by a medicine ball mishandled by Marquis Daniels.

“That hurt,” Davis said. “I’m doing my routine, doing my little Dougie dance, and he hit me in the head. But he woke me up though. It was an early game. I needed something like that.”

Jermaine O’Neal could return to practice next week, which would give the Celtics a nice boost considering Garnett’s been playing 40,000 minutes a night.

“Basically the plan is to go every day this week,” he said. “I won’t travel with the team. I’ll come in and get some extra cardio. If I do well throughout the week, then I’m cleared to practice next week.”

After missing a Monday practice following the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Shaq had to sit out the second half against the Nets because he forgot to bring his anti-inflammatory medicine the night before the game.

“I just forgot to take my drugs,” Shaq said. “Without them, I can’t really play right now. But I’ll be fine Wednesday [against the Nuggets].”

 Should we should be concerned about Shaq getting on in years?

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Nate Robinson, NBA, Shaquille O'Neal
C’s injury bug so bad even Kevin Garnett can’t get home cooking 12.01.10 at 11:44 pm ET
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For now, the injury list is not having an impact on the Celtics record. Doc Rivers knows his luck can only last so long while he moves banged up players in and out of a make-shift rotation. The C’s have the best record in the East at 14-4 following their win over the Trail Blazers Wednesday night at TD Garden.

But that great record is coming with a price – nagging injuries.

And making matters worse Wednesday, the Celtics lost Kevin Garnett for over five minutes in the third quarter when team doctors had trouble closing up a wound under his chin that required five stitches, leading Rivers to wonder openly what in the wide, wide world of sports is going on. For a moment, he thought he was on the road, not on the parquet.

Garnett took an elbow early in the third quarter from Andre Miller and had to leave at the 7:47 mark. He didn’t return until 2:24 remained in the quarter. The Celtics, who trailed 68-62 just moments earlier, were kick-started by KG and finished the quarter on a 13-4 run that gave them the lead for good.

“It usually does,” Rivers said of Garnett’s high-energy impact. “He was pissed because someone hit him in the mouth so you knew he was come either with energy or attacking everybody else on the floor.

“The third quarter was huge because we didn’t want to sub [Shaq] him out. We wanted to wait until Kevin [returned]. Whoever did our stitches, we’re going to have a talk. That was the longest [wait]. I thought we were on the road. That’s what the opposing doctors do. They can’t find the sutures, they take their time.”

And try as he might, Rivers couldn’t get an explanation from chief trainer Ed Lacerte about why it was taking so long to get the cut under Garnett’s chin fixed.

“It did take a long time,” Rivers said. “I kept checking with Eddie, like ‘What’s going on back there?’ That was big for Shaq. He kept saying he could stay in and that was huge for us.”

Not only did O’Neal played the five-minute stretch, he played the first 9 minutes, 36 seconds of the third quarter, until getting a blow when Garnett finally returned to the game.

Rivers said after the game Wednesday that Rajon Rondo‘s strained left hamstring, which Rivers thought was no longer an issue early in the week, started to get sore in the fourth quarter. Then Rivers said that back-up point Nate Robinson has an aching left foot which was bothering him.

“I left Rondo in because Nate’s foot was hurting,” Rivers said. “Rondo’s hamstring was starting to get sore and he was worried that if he came out he couldn’t return. So, the injury thing is really starting to creep up on us a little bit, and it is what it is.”

Robinson confirmed after the game that he’s been dealing with a sore right heel since Nov. 22, when the Celtics beat the Hawks in Atlanta.

Read More: Andre Miller, Boston Celtics, Celtics injuries, Doc Rivers
Nate Robinson battling pain in foot at 11:12 pm ET
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Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers yells at guard Nate Robinson after Robinson was charged with a technical foul during the fourth quarter in Game 4 of the NBA basketball finals against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, June 10, 2010, in Boston.

Nate Robinson (right) has been battling pain in his foot for the last five games. (AP)

Celtics backup point guard Nate Robinson played a season-low 3:33 against the Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, which begged the question: What’s wrong with Nate?

According to Robinson, he’s been feeling pain in the bottom left side of his left foot since the Celtics blowout victory against the Hawks on Nov. 22, and it acted up on Wednesday night.

“It’s been bothering me since the Atlanta game, but I’ve been trying to pull through,” said Robinson. “I’m in a little bit of pain, but I’ll be all right. I’m a tough cookie.”

While the symptoms are similar to plantar fasciitis — the same ailment Rajon Rondo battled earlier in the season — Robinson said “it’s not that.”

Rondo played a season-high 35 minutes against the Raptors and followed that with another 31 minutes a night later in Atlanta. His minutes declined in the next two games before bumping back up to 22:35 against the Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

On the second night of a back-to-back on Wednesday night, however, he played just three-and-a-half minutes in the first half and didn’t see the floor after the break. Still, Robinson doesn’t expect to miss any games, as he plans to battle through the pain.

Said Robinson: “I’m going to keep icing it, getting treatment and working.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Nate Robinson, NBA,
Delonte West breaks his right wrist 11.24.10 at 8:41 pm ET
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The Celtics guard depth – already down with the left hamstring injury to Rajon Rondo – took a major hit Wednesday night when Delonte West broke his right wrist when he fell to the ground under the Celtics basket after making a spectacular lay-up with 2:48 left in the second quarter. He was on the court for about two minutes as trainer Ed Lacerte tended to him.

He got up holding his wrist in place and wincing in pain. He went immediately to the Celtics locker room with Lacerte for further evaluation.

Dr. Brian McKeon and Lacerte administered the exam during halftime. The team said there is no immediate timetable for his return.

West, a left-handed shooter, broke the same wrist in 2008-09 but only missed 16 games. Nate Robinson started Friday night for the third straight game in place of Rondo but picked up his fourth foul just 40 seconds into the third quarter.

Marquis Daniels entered the game for the Celtics and ran the point.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Delonte West, Dr. Brian McKeon, Ed Lacerte
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