|NBA Power Rankings, 2/10||02.10.11 at 8:28 pm ET|
A quick explanation of the top four: While the Celtics and Lakers have fallen prey to the annual February malaise at times, the Spurs continue to separate themselves in the standings, establishing a 5.5-game lead for homecourt throughout the playoffs.
Meanwhile, neither the Heat nor the Lakers have proven this season they can beat the Celtics, although that could change when both come to town in the next four days. While the Mavericks have won 10 straight and swept the C’s this season, I’m still not confident they’re any better than the third-best team out West. There you have it.
Now, it’s time to unveil this week’s full NBA Power Rankings. In a tribute to Ray Allen‘s chase for Reggie Miller‘s all-time 3-point record, we give you the best current and former long-distance shooters on each of the league’s 30 teams …
1. San Antonio (44-8): Sinking 916-of-2,450 (37.4 percent) in his Spurs career, Manu Ginobili is both the team’s current and all-time leading 3-point shooter.
2. Boston (38-13): Sinking 1,540-of-4,158 (37.0 percent) in his Celtics career, Paul Pierce is both the team’s current and all-time leading 3-point shooter. Allen has made 639 of his 1,586 3-point shots (40.3 percent) since coming to Boston in 2007.
3. Miami (38-14): Sinking 806-of-2,263 (35.6 percent) in his Heat career, Tim Hardaway is the team’s all-time leading 3-point shooter. Dwyane Wade is Miami’s current 3-point shooting leader, making 288-of-985 (29.2 percent) in his career with the team.
4. LA Lakers (36-16): Sinking 1,370-of-4,042 (33.9 percent) in his Lakers career, Kobe Bryant is both the team’s current and all-time leading 3-point shooter.
5. Dallas (37-15): Sinking 1,175-of-3,084 (38.1 percent) in his Mavericks career, Dirk Nowitzki is both the team’s current and all-time leading 3-point shooter.
|Shaquille O’Neal to levitate over the Garden?||at 3:43 pm ET|
Accompanying girlfriend Nicole “Hoopz” Alexander on WGBH’s Emily Rooney Show Thursay, he announced plans to perform a magic act on top of the TD Garden.
“Now, listen,” O’Neal told WGBH. “I asked Criss Angel to levitate me over the top of the TD Boston Garden, and he said yes so we just have to figure out a date.”
Angel is a magician who appears on an A&E television show entitled “Mindfreak.”
Alexander also revealed that the two have taken dancing classes together in their hometown of Sudbury. Unfortunately, there’s no video available of that. She and O’Neal also debated whether or not she’s ever defeated him 1-on-1 in tennis.
Suffering from an inflamed Achilles tendon, O’Neal hasn’t played since Feb. 1 against the Kings. He is expected to miss Thursday night’s game against the Lakers and could be out through the Feb. 18-21 NBA All-Star break.
|Ray Allen thinks Reggie Miller is one classy guy||02.09.11 at 4:37 pm ET|
Allen comes in with 2,559 treys in his career and, most appropriately, Reggie Miller will be on hand to broadcast the game for TNT television.
Allen said he has nothing but respect for the way Miller has handled himself and is glad that the former Pacers sharpshooter will be on hand for the big moment, assuming it does come to pass on Thursday.
“The one thing I can say about Reggie is that he’s been in my corner over the last three or four years since I’ve been here,” Allen said. “I catch him in the hallway, catch him the hotels, he’s always been a great supporter of everything I’ve done.
“He’s taught me how to be even a better person, be a humbled success when great things happen to you. He’s had a great career and so many great things have happened to him. For him not to have any ego or animosity towards me because I’m breaking his record, he wants to be in the building when it happens.”
The irony of Miller’s presence on Thursday night at the Garden is not lost on Allen.
“It’s like the stars have aligned because he’s able to be here and people are able to see him,” Allen said. “I always tell people the record is not just about me, it’s about the people who have built into who I am and allowed me to get to this place.
“At the same time, it’s about the people that have built this record up, and Reggie is the guy who has built this record up to this point and every other shooter that he’s beat out to get to the point where he’s at. It’s a long list and I’m glad to be making my way to the top of it.”
They don’t care that the Celtics had just 10 players for practice Wednesday. They don’t care that Paul Pierce was home sick instead of gearing up for the rematch with the Lakers Thursday night at TD Garden. They don’t care that 38-year-old Shaquille O’Neal is nursing a sore right Achilles tendon that has forced him to miss the last three games.
They don’t care that Semih Erden is about to miss his second straight game with a right adductor strain. They don’t care that the Celtics don’t have a proven replacement for Marquis Daniels, who went down with a bruised spinal cord on Sunday afternoon.
“You come to play the game,” Rivers said. “We don’t worry about the body count. They’re not going to worry about the body count, I can guarantee you that. We’ll be read. We’ll be fine.”
All the Lakers care about is getting revenge for that 109-96 Celtics win on Jan. 30 at Staples Center.
The Celtics were reduced to 10 healthy players in practice on Wednesday.
On the bright side, Delonte West participated in his first full contact practice since his broken right wrist, suffered on Nov. 24 against New Jersey.
“We had 10,” Rivers said following Wednesday’s practice. “Paul’s is sick so he stayed at home. Semih is out, Shaq is out. Delonte practiced today but he won’t play [Thursday] or probably won’t play until after the break.”
Rivers said he does expect Pierce to play Thursday but not O’Neal or Erden. “I expect him to play,” Rivers said of Pierce. “He’s just not feeling good. We’ll see [Thursday]. I don’t expect Shaq, I don’t expect Semih. I don’t think [O'Neal] can go yet so we’re just going to wait until he gets healthy.”
Rivers said West was allowed to return but cautioned his players to try and use good judgment so that West’s right wrist wouldn’t be hit.
“We told [players] no reaching which is impossible with some of our guys but other than that, we got through it,” Rivers said.
|Doc Rivers: Rajon Rondo, Big Baby and other things that made the Celtics super on Sunday||02.07.11 at 1:47 pm ET|
For many reasons, the first 12 minutes and 59 seconds didn’t start out very well for the Celtics on Sunday.
There was Orlando jumping out to a 12-2 lead as Dwight Howard dominated. There was Glen Davis leaving a mark in the parquet with the back of his head, suffering a bruised skull. But as he returned to the bench to start the second quarter, that paled in comparison to the bruise to the spinal cord of Marquis Daniels as he ran into the chest of Gilbert Arenas and fell suddenly to the floor.
Things were just completely out of whack. But then it was Rajon Rondo‘s time to take over the game. And did he ever. Immediately after kneeling to check on the well-being of Daniels, Rondo came out of the delay and drove to the basket for a lay-up exactly 20 seconds later that energized the crowd and – more importantly – his teammates. He was on his way to a season-high 26 points.
So, what was the difference in his point guard Sunday?
‘Well, after ‘ you mean after the first six minutes of horrendous basketball from our team?” Rivers replied rhetorically. It just looked like the first six minutes, we were there to play basketball but I thought they were really invested into the game. And you know, why that changed I don’t know, but it was good. We went to an open set which we rarely do. I just didn’t see us with any ‘ we didn’t have anything going.
“And Jameer [Nelson] picked up that one foul and we just decided to go basically open spread. And we told Rondo to get to the rim, and, you know, use his instincts. He’ll find open guys.’
The Celtics went with a spread offense that allowed more lanes for Rondo to drive to the basket and create off the dribble.
‘Well it really depends on the game,” Rivers said. “I want him to be aggressive every game. We’re not going to run spread every game because it doesn’t make a lot of sense every night. We’d like to match up with him, especially Jameer wanted to stay on the floor because of his fouls, but that is how we want him to take the ball to the basket.
“Whenever he does go, we want him to go with power and speed and be willing to get fouled. And I thought over everything that was it. Obviously he made great shots and all that. I just liked the fact that he had no problem if he got fouled.’
Then there were the 21 missed 3-pointers by the Magic, who missed 61-of-93 shots. After the Celtics allowed the Mavericks to beat them on 8-of-17 shooting from long range, Rivers realized early his team was committed to not allowing that again.
Rivers asked for prayers for Davis and Semih Erden, who drew the assignment of guarding Dwight Howard when Kendrick Perkins was forced to the bench to rest. Those prayers were essentially answered in the form of a 91-80 win. Yes, Howard ate up Big Baby, Perkins and Erden for 22 points in the first half. But he had just six points in the second half as the Celtics put on the defense clamps, led by Davis’ ball denial in the post.
‘Phenomenal,” Rivers said of the effort. “Great defense. I think any time you lose a game where you think you broke your principals and defensively you were not right, then the next time you play if you’re a defensive team, you’re probably going to have a good defensive effort. And I thought we did that. I said this with Baby and Perk, it was a test for them.
“It was tough because we were going to leave them on an island and Dwight had it going early. And we just kept telling them, ‘We’re doing the right thing. Just keep doing it.’ And that was tough for them, and the fact that they stayed with it and stayed on it was good.’
|Celtics show they are a band of ‘brothers,’ like in 2008||02.06.11 at 11:58 pm ET|
When Marquis Daniels went down early in the second quarter, it was like a vacuum sucked up every bit of noise and energy in the Garden. Players, coaches and fans all stood silent as Daniels was being tended to on the court as he lay motionless.
‘Honestly I didn’t really know what was up,” Celtics captain Paul Pierce said. “Obviously when you see guy lay down there for a sense of time you get worried and you pray and hope that he’s alright. When we came back to the locker room at half time I asked how he was doing and they said he was moving and doing pretty good. I guess he has some type of condition in his neck or spine that I don’t know about. Hopefully, you know, he can take some time off, hopefully if he can get back on the court but most importantly we’re more worried about his health.”
Daniels will be out for at least a month as doctors perform tests on his bruised spinal cord, a condition that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and team doctor Brian McKeon said afterward was preexisting before Daniels became a Celtic.
As for the current day Celtics, they turned a 24-17 deficit at the time of Daniels’ injury into a 91-80 demolition of the Magic.
‘I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that after Marquis went hurt that we kinda rallied together,” Pierce said. “I guess it seemed that way but I’m just glad that usually when you see a guy get injured that teams use that as an excuse and have a letdown and you know kind of go through the motions for the rest of the game worried about the guy that went down because your worried about him.”
Just like on Nov. 24, when the Celtics watched helplessly as Delonte West went down with an ugly fracture of his right wrist. The Celtics were down 40-36 after West’s lay-up with 2:48 left in the second quarter. Ironically, that night it was none other than Daniels who came into replace West.
The Celtics would win that game 89-83. On Sunday, it was Ray Allen‘s turn to take the place of a fallen teammate, as he came in with 11:01 left in the second quarter.
‘I was trying to process what just happened, and when I saw the way he hit the ground it was I just started thinking about any time I watched a football game, and I saw a guy on the ground, how their body just kind of didn’t respond to anything,” Allen said. “It looked like he got hit in the wrong spot where whatever happened to his body he just couldn’t move. And when I saw his face, it was the scariest feeling because it was almost like he couldn’t do anything. It’s the risk we always run, but for that moment it just seemed like ‘let me go to the hospital and let me do what I need to do to see that he’s all right’, cause basketball is the last thing on my mind.’
But once the game re-started, the Celtics were all business.
“it seemed like the complete opposite and I think we kind of fed off of it and it was kind of like let’s do this for Quis kinda, Pierce added. ” I mean that’s what I saw you know it just seemed like our energy went up because I was on the bench at the time and I was watching and it just seemed like that’s what started the run so we’re happy that he’s okay and unfortunately he probably gave us the spark. Thanks Quis, hope you’re doing good buddy.’
‘Well this is a very close knit team. I mean, this is one of the closer teams, it kind of reminds me of the team in 08. It’s like when Marquis goes down it’s like your brother, when Delonte goes down it’s like your brother,” Pierce said. “If you ever have a family member and something ever happens to them you don’t feel right. And we’re around each other so much; plane, bus, we even go to each other’s houses so it’s like we created this bond with one another and when something bad happens to him we all feel for him but the rest of us try and rally together and that’s what you kind of saw in those two injuries.’
Of course, everyone remembers how 2008 ended. As long as Daniels is healthy, the Celtics wouldn’t mind history repeating itself.
When Marquis Daniels stumbled to the floor Sunday afternoon – just 59 seconds into the second quarter – it was an all-too-familiar sight for Doc Rivers. He immediately flashed back to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the same Magic team when Daniels fell awkwardly to the ground. It seemed like the exact same injury.
After Sunday’s game, the Celtics announced that – for all intents and purposes – it was.
The team announced that Daniels, who quickly regained full movement in all extremities, has a preexisting condition in his spinal cord that makes him vulnerable to the spinal cord “bruise” he suffered as he hit the ground Sunday.
“And this one looked worse,” Rivers said in a somber tone after the 91-80 win over the Magic at TD Garden. “I don’t actually know how our players kind of got back their senses that quickly, because they all knew it, too.
The Celtics trailed 24-17 at the time but gathered themselves to outscore the Magic, 74-56, the rest of the way.
“I knew it immediately,” Rivers added. “It was no doubt. Right when he went down, I was already out on the floor. Gilbert [Arenas] or someone was standing near him and I just told him, ‘Don’t touch him,’ because, you could see it was not good.’
The good news was that Daniels had full function of his motor skills following a scary injury in the second quarter of Sunday’s game at TD Garden, according to Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, who left to visit him at New England Baptist Hospital.
“Marquis is doing well,” Ainge said. “I was just with him at New England Baptist Hospital. He’s moving, he’s fine. His arms and legs are fine.”
Ainge was flanked by team doctor Brian McKeon, who announced that Daniels will be out “indefinitely” and that guard has a pre-existing condition that contributed to Sunday’s freak injury, sustained one minute into the second quarter. Daniels fell awkwardly to the court after driving to the right on Gilbert Arenas and remained motionless for over four minutes before being wheeled out on a stretcher.
“He basically bruised his spinal cord,” McKeon said. “He’ll be out indefinitely. We’re getting all the tests at the Baptist and we’ll have more information [Monday]. We’ll get CT scans, MRIs and serial examinations.”
McKeon confirmed that Sunday’s injury was directly related to the same injury sustained in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals last spring, when the team announced at first that Daniels had a concussion.
“It’s not a concussion,” McKeon announced. “This is the same type of neck injury that he had so it’s just a little bit worse. He’s got some spine issues in the past that have been addressed by other teams and so we’ll just have to see how it plays out in the next few days.’
“I think he was scared when he was out on the court because he couldn’t really move there for a short period of time so that scared him,” Ainge said. “But he’s had some issues with this before and some tingling in his body and his arms and things before so I think he wasn’t scared, he was fine. He had it last year against Orlando in Game 5 and I’m not sure before that. He’s had a couple of episodes throughout his career.’
On Sunday, it was apparent that – when and if Daniels returns this season – he’ll be dealing with a lot more than just getting back in game shape.