|KG still finding his way||01.31.10 at 5:06 pm ET|
BOSTON — It’s pretty obvious Kevin Garnett is not the same player he was two years ago when he was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the centerpiece of Boston’s run to a 17th NBA title.
Surgery to remove bone spurs behind his right knee last summer and a hyperextended right knee suffered late in December has slowed his return to form.
Doc Rivers still believes Garnett can get back to the top defensively — hopefully taking the Celtics along for the ride. More than that, he still expects it.
“I can [expect Garnett back to form], but not right now,” Rivers said conditionally. “But really, none of our guys who have come back, you can’t hold any of them to their normal standards right now. Our biggest issue with our injuries is that they’re healthy but they’re not ready to play basketball at this level yet.
“Paul [Pierce] had his first big game in Atlanta since he’s been back. Kevin is still [getting back]. The key is you still have to play them the minutes. The only way they’re going to get back is by keeping them on the floor and let them get their minutes. The tough part is while you’re doing that, the team struggles a little bit.”
[Click here to hear Doc Rivers talk about Garnett's return.]
Rivers has maintained all along that the Celtics need Garnett back to form late in the spring — when the season truly is on the line. In the meantime, they’ll have to live with the inconsistencies.
“I think he can do it,” Rivers said of Garnett returning to form. “The No. 1 thing is getting them back to that level. I just think it’s more timing. When you look at Kevin, it’s amazing watching him. The Orlando game, his timing was completely off the entire game. Then the Atlanta game, all of sudden he had good timing.
“I just think it’s going to be that way for a while. The guy it’s most frustrating to is him because he’s knows it. The Orlando game at halftime, I thought he was going to beat himself up if he could, because he knew it. He was trying to talk himself into slowing down. I was just telling him, ‘Just play. It is what it is. It’s going to happen for you. You just have to keep playing.’ ”
|Doc on Lakers: ‘Better than last year’||at 3:51 pm ET|
BOSTON – Doc Rivers knows how tough it is to repeat. The Celtics won the title in 2008 and won 66 games.
Last year, the Celtics won 62 but lost in seven games to the Magic in the Eastern Conference semifinals when being without Kevin Garnett proved to be just too much to overcome.
Instead of a repeat, the Lakers won the title. And before Sunday’s game, Rivers sounded just a tad envious because instead of losing two key players like Boston lost in James Posey and P.J. Brown, the Lakers added Ron Artest, Shannon Brown and a healthy Andrew Bynum.
“I think having won the title, having the same title back , adding Artest, that continuity and health I think those have been three pretty good things for them,” Rivers said. “Gasol has been in and out for them, which hurt them early in the year, too. It’s rare when you get a championship team that adds to their team and they did. You don’t see that very often. People are taking away from championship teams. It’s rare that they come back better and they’re better than last year.
“I thought we took away from it. Losing Posey hurt us, losing P.J. Brown hurt us. But I think we’ve addressed that. Bringing in Marquis this year, bringing in Rasheed this year.”
[Click here to listen to Rivers compare his 2009 Celtics to the 2010 Lakers, teams attempting to defend a title.]
|NBA Power Rankings, 1/28||01.28.10 at 9:15 am ET|
1. Cleveland (2): It’s surprising how well the Cavaliers have matched up with the Lakers this year. With or without Shaq in Cleveland’s lineup, I just didn’t think that they had the big men to deal with LA’s size. As for player-coach-mayor LeBron, I’ve seen him carry a worse team than this to the Finals … but he did it when the Eastern Conference was worse, too. After last year, regular-season dominance means nothing. Can this team be this good in late May and early June?
2. LA Lakers (1): What fickle person comes up with these rankings, anyway? Wasn’t it just last week that “it’s going to be hard for someone to knock them from this [No. 1] perch”? That someone was the Cavaliers, who swept the season series from the Lakers. (An aside, from the world of trashy TV: The fellas might think I’m crazy on this one, but do you know which Kardashian is really starting to grow on me? Khloe. Lamar Odom’s girl. Kim and Kourtney get all the hype, but … I’m just saying … never mind.)
3. Denver (5): What the Nuggets have done this year is amazing. They’ve won some games without Carmelo Anthony, they’ve won some games without Chauncey Billups, they’ve won some games without bench guy J.R. Smith. They were conference finalists last year, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they were able to return and make it even more interesting than last time.
4. Dallas (3): I love the way they’re playing, but I don’t believe in the way they’re playing. It’s great for the regular season. But when the playoffs arrive and scouting and defense becomes more intense, there’s one player I definitely trust (Dirk, of course) and two maybes (the Jasons: Terry and Kidd).
5. Boston (6) KG is back and the world is back to normal for the C’s. They closed out two games, against the Clippers and Blazers, that they probably would have lost without the presence, sound and fury of No. 5. Speaking of which, does anyone know any good lip readers? I swear, before the year is over, I’m going to the Garden with a lip reader whose only assignment will be to focus on KG the entire night. Some people are offended by his rants. I’m not. I just want to know what he’s saying beyond the obvious, you know, “Take that, mother…” and other assorted f-bombs.
|How Rondo is like Brett Favre||01.26.10 at 9:57 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers wants his supremely talented point guard to get downright defensive.
Rivers has spent the last three years trying to instill in Rajon Rondo the kind of traits Rivers used to gain a reputation as one of the best defensive guards in the NBA in the 1980s.
Right now, Rivers knows the reputation Rondo has around the league. Go at Rondo and make him try to stop you, since defense hasn’t always come naturally for the guard. On Tuesday, following practice, Rivers drew a analogy between Rondo and another pro athlete.
“I think teams try to go at Rondo because of his size and because they want to try and get him to gamble,” Rivers said. “It’s like trying to make Brett Favre try and throw across his body. It’s who you are, and teams know that and try to take advantage of that.”
[Click here to hear Doc Rivers talk about how defense led to Rondo's development into a possible All-Star]
Like Favre on Sunday with an ill-advised cross-body pass that was picked, Rondo’s season came to a bitter end in Game 7 last spring against the Orlando Magic, a game in which some critics felt Rondo hurt the team by constantly gambling for steals instead of playing solid defense on Orlando’s dangerous backcourt. Read the rest of this entry »
|Glen Davis: Don’t play if you’re not a competitor||at 7:44 pm ET|
WALTHAM – The Celtics leave Wednesday morning to begin one of their toughest four-day stretches of the season. On Thursday, they play in Orlando, followed by a road game in Atlanta the next night.
They return home on Sunday to host Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. All three teams have a combined 91 wins entering Tuesday’s play.
“Huge,” Glen Davis said of the week. “These are big, big, big games. If you’re not a competitor, you don’t need to play in these games. This is a great opportunity for us to keep our win streak alive and also get better with playoff-contending teams. We’re looking forward to the challenge. Every game is big but these games are bigger.”
Speaking of Davis, he said he is on a new path when it comes to his former moniker – ‘Big Baby’
“Big Baby will always be a part of me. But I’m going to put Big Baby on the shelf – for now,” he said.
Asked why Davis, No. 11, is leaning toward ‘Uno, Uno’ as a new nickname, Davis pointed toward Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. Davis doesn’t feel the need to formally change his last name, just his handle.
“Every sport has their version of nicknames,” Davis said. “He paved the way. Knock off or not, I’m a different player than Ochocinco. He plays football. I play basketball.”
Davis wouldn’t be the first pro athlete in Boston to follow the Cincinnati receiver’s lead. In 2008, Jonathan Papelbon had ‘Cinco Ocho’ T-shirts made up sporting the reverse of the famous wide receiver, and representing the No. 58 on the back of Papelbon’s uniform.
|Scal cleared to play, Marquis begins drills||at 4:12 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Brian Scalabrine returned to Celtics practice on Tuesday and was cleared to play on the team’s upcoming trip to Orlando and Atlanta. He had missed two games with separated right shoulder, injured on Jan. 6 in Miami.
“Scal practiced today and showed no sign of injury,” coach Doc Rivers announced following practice. “He shot two airballs and I was like, ‘Scal’s back.’ He’s good. He’ll play.”
Rivers said that Marquis Daniels participated in passing drills for the first time since surgery on his left thumb. Rivers is hopeful Daniels could re-join the team the first game back from the All-Star break.
Daniels missed his 22nd straight game on Monday night, before which Rivers indicated there was a “slight chance” the guard/forward could return on Feb. 10 in New Orleans, the final game before the All-Star break.
|Mr. Smith comes back to Boston||at 2:24 am ET|
BOSTON — For all the attention paid to the return of Marcus Camby to town as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, it’s easy to forget another former New England college star who came back on Monday night at TD Garden.
Craig Smith scored 2,349 points in his collegiate career at Boston College (2002-06), placing him second on the school’s career scoring list, trailing only Troy Bell.
In his senior season, he averaged 17.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.8 blocked shots as the Eagles reached the Sweet 16. There, they lost a heartbreaker to Villanova at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. He also attended Worcester Academy for a year as a post-graduate student before college.
When the time arrived to turn pro following his four years at BC, he was regarded as one of the most promising young power forwards in the draft. Yes, he was just 6-7 but he could rebound and proved he had a scorer’s mentality in college. Those factors were enough for the Timberwolves to take him in the second round (36th overall) in the 2006 NBA draft.
After two seasons in Minny, he was dealt this past summer, along with Sebastian Telfair and Mark Madsen to the Clippers in exchange for Quentin Richardson.
On Monday night, Smith scored 13 points in 21 minutes for the Clippers in a 95-89 loss to the Celtics.
“Craig’s been giving us a lot of good work off the bench the last couple of weeks, and you know when we’re scoring down there, we’ve been going to him and he’s been able to deliver for us and we had a good mix,” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. “Like I said, hey, we had good inside opportunities, we got to the free throw line some, and we didn’t convert on some fast break opportunities and some wide open shots and that was the big difference for us.” Read the rest of this entry »
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