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Marcus Camby all grown up 01.25.10 at 10:41 am ET
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WALTHAM — Marcus Camby has come a long way from his days at the University of Massachusetts.

He is no longer just a lanky, talented big man in the middle. He is widely regarded as one of  the best defensive post players in the league.

Camby led the John Calipari-coached Minutemen to the 1996 Final Four and was the second overall pick in the first round by the Toronto Raptors. And yes, he showed signs of dominating his Atlantic-10 competition. And yes, he set the career record with 43 blocked shots in 11 NCAA tourney games.

But then trouble hit. Following his junior season, the Hartford native was tied to two sports agents, a scandal that eventually led to the NCAA stripping UMass of its Final Four appearance in its record books. He had no future left at UMass and declared for the NBA draft as a junior.

After two seasons in Toronto, he led the Knicks to the NBA Finals against the Spurs in 1999. But that was his highlight as he played four seasons in New York before being dealt to Denver. He spent six seasons in the Rockies, earning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in 2007. Another trade in the summer of 2008 landed him in Los Angeles, where he’s now in his second season with the Clippers.

Camby, who turns 36 on March 22, is one of the best defenders in the best basketball league in the world. A close look at the numbers shows that.

He is third in the NBA in the rebounding, grabbing 12.0 boards per contest. He has been in double figures in eight of 11 games this month, including 20 or more rebounds twice.

In a Jan. 20 win over the Bulls, Camby pulled down 25 rebounds. Exactly a week earlier, he had 20 rebounds in a loss at Memphis.

Then on Sunday, in a win over the Wizards in Washington, Camby had 19 rebounds while showing he is also one of the best shot-blockers in the game (see below).

But listen to Doc Rivers and he’ll tell you that Camby also can get it done on the offensive side.

“We say he’s overlooked, but it was three years ago, he was Defensive Player of the Year,” Rivers said. “So, he’s not that overlooked. Where I think people sleep on him is he is a far better offensive player than you think because he can make that little elbow jump shot.”

The Celtics won’t be overlooking No. 23 when he steps on the “Red Auerbach Parquet” at TD Garden.

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Car & Driver: Garnett cruises through practice 01.24.10 at 6:25 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  No, Doc Rivers didn’t have a 1976 Pinto in his younger years. He had a Buick Skylark.

Skylark vs. Pinto. Who you got?

Skylark vs. Pinto: Who you got?

“I didn’t have a Pinto, that’s for sure,” Rivers said Sunday, two days after Kevin Garnett compared himself to a mid-’70s Pinto. “I didn’t have a back seat in my car, but that’s good. I was driving in front.

“It was burned somehow. Mysteriously, the back seat caught on fire and my dad wouldn’t replace it. So, I had to drive around with a Skylark. It only had the front seat. You could see the trunk through the back seat. No double dates. So, that’s that my car story. It smelled like smoke and that’s the way it was.”

Garnett apparently was on to something when he drew an analogy to an old beat-up mid-’70s economy car to describe his physical condition following Friday’s game — his first since a hyperextended right knee forced him to the sideline for 10 games.

“Some minor adjustments to it and it’s ready to roll,” Garnett said. “Tires changed, transmission checked and everything is pretty much where it needs to be. But at the same time, it’s still, it’s a ’76 vs. a ’10. That’s what it is.”

That was Garnett’s way of saying he had a little bit of rust but feels ready to get back to action on Monday after scoring 13 points, hauling in two rebounds and dishing out three assists in 30 minutes of action in Friday’s overtime win against Portland.

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Ray on tough week: ‘It an us project right now’ at 5:03 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  Whether it’s Doc Rivers, Ray Allen or Kevin Garnett, everyone associated with the Celtics is capable of understanding the challenge of them in the next 10 days.

The Celtics host the Clippers on Monday night, a team that beat them in late December. They have two days off and then play at Orlando and Atlanta on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Then they welcome the defending champion Lakers on Sunday the 31st to the Garden, followed the next day by a game in Washington.

The tough stretch ends with a game at home against Miami a week from Wednesday.

“From a schedule prospective, it looks daunting because we’re playing some of the better teams in the league,” Allen said. “Right now, it’s an ‘us’ project, just focusing on the small, little things that we’ve done to be successful, the things we’ve done to build this team to where it is right now.”

Rivers did acknowledge that his only concern with playing Garnett in the next two weeks are in the second game of back-to-back contests.

“The games that I’m concerned with Kevin will be the Atlanta game because it comes off a tough back-to-back with Orlando and then the Washington game because it comes off a tough Laker game,” Rivers said. “Those the only two games in the next eight or nine days I have concern.

Rivers repeated on Sunday following practice that Garnett looks strong in practice and he has no concern about the health of Garnett’s right knee. Rivers said his only concern is Garnett’s conditioning.

The Celtics are comfortably ahead in the Atlantic Division with a mark of 28-13. They have nine games before the All-Star break.

“We look forward to the whole week,” Allen said. “We know we’re winding down to the All-Star break.”

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Ray Allen: ‘The ball needed to go in’ 01.23.10 at 12:27 am ET
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Ray Allen said the key to overcome his sluggish night from the field and the free throw line was keeping mentally focused.

And that seemed a might tall order considering he had missed 11-of-13 shots before the biggest shot he took of the night. It came with 41.3 seconds remaining in overtime and the Trail Blazers leading, 95-93.

“I knew I was close,” Allen said. “There wasn’t anything wrong with my form or my mechanics. It was just the ball needed to go in. I had a shot where I hit the glass [on bank shot] and it just kinda hit the glass and rolled off and it was like, ‘Geez.’ It just wasn’t working for me.

“Mentally, I had to whatever I could to help this team win and just be prepared because you never know when that ball drifts in your direction and you’ve got to be ready to shoot.”

The fact that the shot found the bottom of the basket surprised no one. After all, he was due. And less than a minute earlier, he nearly had a shot rattle home but it ‘toilet bowled’ out as Allen himself described it.

To hear Allen talk about his night, click here.

Paul Pierce said everyone should realize Ray Allen is one of the best shooters ever, second only to Pierce himself.

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KG speaks: ‘Old 76 Pinto got banged up’ 01.22.10 at 11:55 pm ET
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Garnett said he had more in common with this '76 Pinto than just the green.

Old School: Garnett and a '76 Pinto.

Kevin Garnett was in a jovial mood following his first game since Dec. 28.

And for good reason. He just passed the first significant test of his right knee, which was hyperextended during the ill-fated West Coast road trip.

He had 13 points, two rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes.

After the Celtics finally found a way to dispatch of the short-handed Trail Blazers, 98-95, in overtime, Garnett spoke about how he felt.

To hear Garnett, who was born in May 1976, compare himself to a ’76 Pinto and talk about how he felt, click here.

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KG on his Celtics: ‘It’s accountability, man’ 01.21.10 at 1:33 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  If Kevin Garnett is indeed cleared to play Friday against Portland by the Celtics’ medical staff and head coach Doc Rivers, the team might be getting the kick in the pants a lot of observers – including their head coach feel they need.

There’s no reading between the lines necessary when interpreting Garnett’s comments about what’s been missing, especially in a team that has blown double-digit first-half leads on their way to losses to Dallas and Detroit this week.

“Slippage man, some of the hardest games are between 30 and 55 of the season and those are the grind games and at this stage, we have to grind all these out,” Garnett said. “It’s a good time for everybody to be coming back and coming back strong.

“It’s accountability, man. I’m telling you, our defense is built off grit and effort. You either you can do it or you don’t want to do it. The man behind you having your back, that’s what it is, nothing more, nothing less than that.”

[Listen to the Celtics' world according to KG by clicking here]

While not playing, Garnett sees the second-half defensive breakdowns everyone else watching the Celtics has witnessed during their 4-5 month of January so far.

“Our defense is built off of trust,” he said. “It isn’t necessarily an assignment but it is a type of defense in which we hold each other accountable. Whatever the defense the calls for, for one person to do his job, the natural reaction is for his teammate to be there to help him and then so on and so on.” Read the rest of this entry »

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NBA Power Rankings, 1/21 at 9:22 am ET
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Los Angeles Lakers1. LA Lakers (2): It’s going to be hard for someone to knock the Lakers from this perch going forward. Of all the elite teams, they’ve looked the hungriest all year. I have no idea what’s driving Kobe Bryant — the rings, Shaquille O’Neal, the Next Michael Jordan comparisons — but he’s been an incredibly determined player the entire season.

Cleveland Cavaliers2. Cleveland (1): Speaking of Shaq, he volunteered the legs of Kobe, LeBron James and Vince Carter to raise money for Haitian relief. I wonder if it ever occurred to ShaqStimulus that with his massive contract (and endorsements) he’s also well-positioned to do what he’s asking of others.

Dallas Mavericks3. Dallas (4): Dirk Nowitzki was an innocent bystander when Rasheed Wallace and the NBA both lost their minds. Wallace, after running into foul trouble against Dirk, said the officials don’t like to see tough D played against the big man. So the league fined him 35 grand. Silly on both counts. Wallace has to admit that Dirk is a tough matchup, and the NBA has to stop being so insecure about criticism. Thirty-five grand for a comment like that? Come on.

Atlanta Hawks4. Atlanta (7): As scary a team as you’ll see in the Eastern Conference. Before, the Hawks’ weakness was obvious: no bench. I see a team with few weaknesses now, and plenty of confidence — especially when playing the Celtics.

Denver Nuggets5. Denver (9): The Nuggets are a great team when Chauncey Billups is healthy. Carmelo Anthony certainly can hold his own without Billups, but he’s a much more dangerous player with him on the floor.

Read the rest of this entry »

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