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Kevin Garnett: ‘I would never be insensitive’ 11.03.10 at 4:48 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett just released the following statement in reaction to Charlie Villanueva‘s accusations on Twitter following Tuesday night’s Celtics-Pistons game:

I am aware there was a major miscommunication regarding something I said on the court last night. My comment to Charlie Villanueva was in fact ‘€˜You are cancerous to your team and our league.’€™ I would never be insensitive to the brave struggle that cancer patients endure. I have lost loved ones to this deadly disease and have a family member currently undergoing treatment. I would never say anything that distasteful. The game of life is far bigger than the game of basketball.

Garnett’s version of the story is far more tame than Villanueva’s claim on Twitter that KG called him “a cancer patient.”

Side note: If KG’s take is accurate, I’ve got to say … that’s some pretty good trash talk. And shame on Villanueva for not only taking to Twitter — but misconstruing Garnett’s message. It’ll be interesting to hear Villanueva’s reaction to KG’s reaction.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Charlie Villanueva, Detroit Pistons, Kevin Garnett
Irish Coffee: Did Kevin Garnett go too far? at 11:04 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

First, the evidence, which is circumstantial so far, considering it comes from Charlie Villanueva‘s Twitter account. Still, here are the pointed comments the Detroit Pistons wingman made about Kevin Garnett between 2 and 3 a.m. this morning …

  • “KG talks alot of crap, he’s prob never been in a fight, I would love to get in a ring with him, I will expose him”
  • KG called me a cancer patient, I’m pissed because, u know how many people died from cancer, and he’s tossing it like it’s a joke.”
  • “I wouldn’t even trip about that, but a cancer patient, I know way 2 many people who passed away from it, and I have a special place 4 those.”

Villanueva suffers from alopecia universalis, a skin disease that results in hair loss on the scalp. He won the 2006 Community Assist Award for his work as a spokesman for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.

If Villanueva’s accusations are proven to be true, man, he’s sure gone too far this time.

In his time with the Celtics, he’s had some notable taunting episodes with Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless — among countless others. He’s been suspended for striking Andrew Bogut and Quentin Richardson.

But this would be the worst of them all.

Talk about a low blow. There may not be a person alive who hasn’t been touched by cancer, and that includes Garnett. I’m not saying he was badmouthing cancer. He’s done his share of charity work — including when he made a dream come true for one 17-year-old kid who was suffering from the disease. Still, it would be a bad choice of words. A terrible choice of words.

Sure, this stuff might be said on a nightly basis in the NBA, but does that make it right?

Whether he likes or not, by wearing Celtics green, Garnett represents the city of Boston — the same city where the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute was founded.

If KG indeed made a comment about Villanueva being a cancer patient, an apology — at the very least — is in order. A charitable donation to Dana-Farber wouldn’t hurt, either.

GUARDING RAJON RONDO

On the heels of Rajon Rondo‘s historic four-game start in this NBA season (no other player has amassed 67 assists in their first four games), many experts are wondering just how the heck you’re supposed to guard the Celtics point guard.

HoopSpeak’s Beckley Mason suggested setting up a trap against Rondo, denying him the ball to force the offense through his teammates, dare him to score 40 points, or, at the very least, guard him close …

In his phenomenal 24 assist game, Rondo only had one assist on a pure dribble drive. Three were on cuts or catch-and-slashes, five were on fast breaks, five came from just handling the ball and finding an open shooter coming off a screen and 11 were out of the pick and pop or roll. So how smart of a strategy is applying no pressure to Rondo when he’€™s more than happy to hook up his skilled teammates?

After discussing the issue with NBA Analyst David Thorpe, TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott agreed wholeheartedly — guard Rondo, closely, or allow him to do “whatever he wants.” Here’s how Thorpe told Abbott he would guard the C’s record-setter …

 

I’d get in his face. You can go with size, or you can go with speed. But either way I’d try to hunt like lions do. One lioness goes out there and chases the prey right into the trap, where the other lions are waiting. I wouldn’t need my one defender to keep him on the perimeter — that’s impossible — but you can at least push him to places on the floor where things might be tougher for him.

For instance, almost every team knows almost every other team’s play calls. So you know which direction he wants to go as he crosses midcourt. I’d look at the data and see, of the different way he approaches the hoop, which areas of the floor, or approaches to the rim, give him the most trouble. Then I’d steer him there, with my best help defenders and shot-blockers ready to meet him.

Then I’d mix it up. Keep him from getting comfortable. Out of timeouts, you might try someone else on him. If he brings the ball up the left side of the floor, maybe have the defense ready to force him to a different spot. Keep him from getting comfortable. It might not work, but sagging off him all night, that’s clearly not working. At least you give yourself a shot. Maybe you can force a few more turnovers, and inspire a few more tough shots. That can turn a game.

There are a few problems with these theories: 1) You actually have to have someone on your team quick enough to guard Rondo up close; 2) If you’re throwing multiple defenders at him, that leaves guys open (and Rondo will find them); 3) You can deny Rondo the ball all you want, but the Celtics are going to find a way to get it into his hands; and 4) How do you dare him to score 40 points, other than to sag off of him defensively?

In other Rondo news, last night he became just the 16th player since 1986 to record at least 17 assists without a turnover. Celtics coach Doc Rivers actually did it in 2002 with the Hawks. John Stockton actually achieved that feat three separate times against the C’s.

RICK CRAZY LIKE A FOX

After getting booted from “Dancing with the Stars” last night, former Celtic and Laker Rick Fox said dancing on the show was harder than Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Of course, he never played a Game 7 in the NBA Finals, but still …

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

Read More: Boston Celtics, Charlie Villanueva, Dancing with the Stars, Kevin Garnett
Fast Break: Rondo, C’s pound Pistons 11.02.10 at 10:04 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo became the only player in NBA history to record 67 assists through four games, leading the Celtics to a 109-86, wire-to-wire victory over the winless Detroit Pistons. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce scored 22 and 21 points for the C’s (3-1), respectively, as five Boston players reached double figures.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT

1. Taking care of the ball: After averaging 19 turnovers in their first three games, the Celtics committed just two turnovers in the first half and eight for the entire game.

Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett had been the C’s biggest culprits, averaging nine giveaways between them through three contests. Last night, though, neither committed a turnover in a total of 69 minutes on the floor.

2. Spread the wealth: The Celtics totaled 33 assists on 42 field goals in the victory. Rondo, of course, led the way with 17 dishes, while Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Nate Robinson each chipped in three dimes.

By contrast, the Pistons managed just 11 assists on 35 field goals for the game. Detroit’s starting point guard, Rodney Stuckey, had just two assists in 38 minutes on the floor.

3. They played the Pistons: Facing little to nothing in the way of defense, the Celtics shot 51 percent from the field, scoring 67 of their 109 points in the paint. KG and Pierce combined to shoot 17-of-25 from the floor (68 percent), getting open look after open look around the basket. Of course, it also helped that the Celtics made all 18 of their free throws on the night.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG

1. Technical difficulty: While Glen Davis played well – totaling 10 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes – he picked up a technical midway through the first quarter. Doc Rivers was noticeably upset, as the C’s are attempting to make a concerted effort not to pick up cheap techs as a result of the new rules.

2. Getting out-rebounded: Rivers has made rebounding a focus for the Celtics early in the season, and they had owned a plus-six margin entering last night’s game. However, the Pistons out-rebounded the Celtics, 38-36. No Celtics reached double digits in rebounds, as KG led the team with six.

3. Bench depth: Big contributions from Big Baby off the bench have become an expectation, and he delivered again. But other than a few bright spots from Semih Erden, the C’s got very little from the rest of their reserves – as Marquis Daniels, Nate Robinson, Von Wafer, Luke Harangody and Erden combined for 19 points in 61 total minutes.

The lack of contribution from the bench led to the Pistons nearly bringing a 20-point lead to single digits – forcing Rivers to bring the starters back in for the majority of the fourth quarter.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Kevin Garnett, NBA
Irish Coffee: Celtics lack killer instinct at 11:05 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

 

We know they love Halloween, but does this Celtics team have a killer instinct?

I raised this concern when the C’s let a pair of double-digit leads vaporize at both second-half quarters in the opening-night win over the Miami Heat.

And Dime Magazine’s Austin Burton raised it again just three games into the 2010-11 NBA season — suggesting Boston has played to its competition through the first three games.

 The Celtics did it last season, when they were just average down the stretch before bouncing back to find their rhythm in the playoffs and get with a few possessions of winning another NBA championship. But for a veteran team – led by Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal and the playoff-experienced Rajon Rondo -- that has been through the wars and knows the importance of staying focused and consistent, it’s a red flag.

The Celtics had the killer instinct in 2007-08, when they won 66 regular-season games and the NBA title. A whopping 21 of those victories came by margins of 20 points or more.

They simply didn’t let many games slip away, as they did in Game 2 against Cleveland — dissolving a double-digit lead in the second half against one of the worst teams in the league.

The 2007-08 C’s started 20-2, winning by an average of 16 points and losing only to a pair of teams that reached the second round of the playoffs that season (the Orlando Magic and the LeBron James-led Cavaliers).

Meanwhile, this year’s edition of the Celtics has led all three of its games by double digits late in the third quarter, only to be playing meaningful minutes down to the buzzer.

Against the Heat, an 83-70 lead with four minutes to play dwindled to an 83-80 advantage in the final minute. Against the Cavs, the C’s turned a 66-55 third-quarter advantage into a 95-87 loss. And against the Knicks, Boston owned a 101-90 lead with two minutes left, only to be clinging to a 103-101 advantage in the final minute.

To further the issue, Burton points to tonight’s game as a potential defining moment for this season’s Celtics, especially considering they haven’t played since Friday night.

The Celtics will get another test of their focus on Tuesday, when they visit the Pistons on the road. A fierce playoff rival for the C’€™s as recently as 2008, Detroit was in the Lottery last year and aren’€™t expected to do much this year. Ben Gordon‘€™s and Co. are 0-3 right now, but two of those losses were down-to-the-wire games against playoff teams in Oklahoma City and Chicago. If the Celtics overlook Detroit — perhaps eyeing an upcoming stretch that has them home for the Bucks and Bulls before playing at OKC, Dallas and Miami — Gordon and Rodney Stuckey and the Pistons’€™ talented scorers will hand Doc Rivers another unexpected L.

Losses piling up are certainly a concern, but as the Celtics showed last year: For this team, what happens in the regular season stays in the regular season. The more concerning number — other than a potentially lower playoff seed — could be the mounting meaningful minutes.

The more games the Celtics are able to demonstrate a killer instinct — turning second-half, double-digit leads into certifiable blowouts down the stretch — the fewer minutes Rivers has to trot out his aged starters.

“I love sitting on the bench in the fourth quarter when you’ve got a blowout,” Ray Allen said in the preseason. “That means everybody as a team gets the opportunity to play. Everybody works hard throughout the week, so when you know guys get a chance to play that’s when you know you’ve got it.”

Which only stresses the killer instinct question: Do this season’s Celtics have IT?

MAGIC DON’T MATCH UP

What the Celtics do have — according to Orlando Sentinel‘s George Diaz — is a considerable matchup advantage against the Magic. In fact, the columnist essentially threw in the towel against the C’s and Heat just a few games into the season. Here’s a glimpse:

The Magic don’t have any players who can break down a defense by going one-on-one, unless Vince Carter steps into a Hot Tub Time Machine and it’s 1997 all over again.

Without one, they won’t have a prayer of beating the Celtics or the Heat in a playoff series.

It may sound like one man’s opinion, but it’s not. Even Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy owned up to that discrepancy after getting blown out by the Heat on Friday.

“Against a good defensive team we have trouble a little bit,” Van Gundy told the Sentinel. “We don’t have — and this isn’t to put down anybody in our locker room — but we don’t have the great one-on-one players. We don’t have Dwyane Wade and James and Pierce and Kobe Bryant.”

That’s got to be fairly eye-opening for any Orlando fan. I had my doubts about the Magic from the start, relaying recently a conversation I overheard at the Garden:

“How come you don’t believe in the Magic?” one guy said to another.

To which the other guy replied, “They still have Vince Carter, don’t they?”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Jimmer Fredette, Mike D'Antoni
Jermaine O’Neal, Rajon Rondo and Tiger Woods 11.01.10 at 4:46 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Jermaine O’€™Neal admitted following practice on Monday that he’€™s been a disappointment so far, in part because of injuries that have affected his conditioning.

‘€œIt’€™s been challenging,” O’Neal said of his slew of injuries. “Obviously, the hamstring, the back a little bit, the wrist, now the knee so it’€™s been extremely disappointing for me so far. But obviously, trials and tribulations will make you stronger and you have to take that as you never can be successful if you don’€™t fail. So far, I haven’€™t been able do things out there that I want to do out there.”

The 31-year-old O’Neal, who practiced with the first team and will play on Tuesday in Detroit, was signed in early July to a two-year, $12 million deal. He played in the first two games, scoring just three points, before swelling in his left knee sidelined him for the game against the Knicks last Friday.

‘€œI know the people that are happy about me aren’€™t happy quite yet with what they’€™ve seen but I can guarantee that before the year is over with, they’€™ll be really happy with my play and it’€™s just about finding ways of getting yourself going.’€

Rajon Rondo, the Eastern Conference player of the Week for Week 1 after dishing 50 assists in three games, dressed up as Tiger Woods to win the team’€™s award for best Halloween costume on Sunday. ‘€œWe did a little vote on it Rondo won for being Tiger Woods,” captain Paul Pierce said. As for the video of Shaquille O’€™Neal as Shaqeeta, his drag costume for Halloween that is making the rounds on the internet and local TV, ‘€œNo, I haven’€™t seen it,” Pierce added. “I’€™ll have to check it out.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jermaine O'Neal, NBA, PGA Tour
Shaq a likely no-go but ‘big brother’ is ready at 2:28 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Shaquille O’Neal missed his second straight practice on Monday with a right knee bruise suffered late in Friday’s game against the Knicks and likely won’t play on Tuesday in Detroit, according to coach Doc Rivers.

“I doubt if he plays [Tuesday] but we’ll see,” Rivers said following practice, which didn’t include O’Neal. “If he has a chance [to play] he’ll make the trip.”

O’Neal instead spent the time in the swimming pool with fellow injured big man Kendrick Perkins as both worked on therapy for knee injuries. The team did get good news on another O’Neal. Jermaine O’Neal, who suffered swelling in his left knee following the loss to Cleveland last Wednesday, returned to practice on Monday and will make the trip to Detroit.

“[Shaquille’s] brother? He had a good practice and he’ll play,” Rivers said with a laugh. “Obviously, it could swell or something but right now, he looked good.”

Rivers said Jermaine O’Neal, who practiced with the first team, will see a lot of time as will rookie Semih Erden.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, NBA, Semih Erden
Irish Coffee: Celtics Halloween at 10:39 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

After last night’s Twitter barrage from Shaquille O’Neal‘s trek around Boston as Shaqeeta and the Celtics’ team Halloween party hosted by Ray Allen, how could we not rate their costumes? Here goes …

1. Shaquille O’Neal as “Shaqeeta”

2. Jermaine O’Neal as “Mr. T”

3. Rajon Rondo as “Tiger Woods

4. David Ortiz as “Wolverine”

5. Ray Allen as “Retro Ray”

6. Marquis Daniels as “Reverend Daniels” 

7.  Kevin Garnett as “DJ Lance Rock” (from “Yo Gabba Gabba!“)

8. Paul Pierce as “The Frog”  (from “The Princess and the Frog“)

 9. Delonte West as “V” (from “V for Vendetta“)

 

10. Glen Davis as “Big Baby”

Over the weekend, Celtics Blog’s Jimmy Toscano provided us with a look back through the eyes of the Celtics at the ghost of Halloween past. He treated us to some sweet morsels …

  • Ray Allen: “I went anywhere that had those little Smarties candies in the plastic. You got so many of them. That’s what I ended up eating all the time. Then I got older and we just started throwing eggs at people’s houses.”
  • Glen Davis: “I was thinking about being Kazaam. That would be funny.”
  • Nate Robinson: “Then we used to snatch kids’ bags sometimes back in the day. Like kids that we knew would go out. I was young. I was like 10. I remember one time my friend snatched a kid’s bag and the dude’s dad chased him for so long. We were laughing.”
  • Kendrick Perkins: “Got to be Snickers. Snickers, man. Ain’t nothing else. Nate’s a weirdo saying Candy Corn.”
  • Shaquille O’Neal: “My thing with Halloween was every time I used to go out, people used to look at me like, ‘You’re too big to be trick-or-treating.’ So I stopped at age 10, seriously.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Earl Lloyd, Halloween, Jeremy Lin
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