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NBA Power Rankings, 10/7 10.07.10 at 12:48 pm ET
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1. LA Lakers: As the long as the Lakers avoid terrorist threats in Europe and manage to stay healthy, they’ll hang on to this spot throughout the preseason. I’m not too worried about a loss to the T-Wolves or Kobe’s knee being 60 percent. And they’re pretty used to surviving without Bynum at this point.

2. Boston: When your biggest question mark is whether Von Wafer or Mario West will fill the final spot on the roster, I’d say your team is in pretty good shape … as long as Nate Robinson doesn’t hurt Shaq with one of his pranks. Oh, and Semih Erden looks like he’ll actually contribute.

3. Miami: Don’t let D-Wade’s hamstring injury alarm you. Those things happen in the preseason, and he’s played through far worse. The Heat looked good. No surprise there. And if Udonis Haslem keeps contributing like he has, they just might slide up to No. 2 on opening night.

4. Oklahoma City: The Thunder recently invited the greatest name in the NBA to their training camp: Longar Longar. If he makes the team, watch out league. What better complement to Durant, Westbrook and Green?

5. Dallas: The Mavericks are a bunch of 30-somethings who have a limited window left to challenge for an NBA title. Sound familiar? Yup, they’re like the Celtics, only they don’t rebound much and play porous defense. Still, they’ll be tough out West.

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Read More: Celtics, Heat, Lakers, NBA
Mock NBA Fantasy Basketball Draft 10.05.10 at 4:58 pm ET
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A breakdown of the first five rounds of a mock 10-team fantasy basketball draft, in addition to the top-10 late-round sleepers and the top-10 players to avoid. Full disclosure: I am unstoppable at fantasy basketball. I also consulted commissioner James Hough of our annual league, Mondo Rondo.

ROUND 1
(NOTE: Your season depends solely on the health of this pick.)

1. Kevin Durant: Team USA’s best player; absolute monster; fills every stat category.
2. LeBron James: Has a legit chance to average a triple-double.
3. Kobe Bryant: Even if not 100 percent, the game’s best player can’t slip past No. 3.
4. Chris Paul: Might be the No. 2 pick if not for the whole knee surgery thing.
5. Deron Williams: Averaged at least 18 points & 10 assists per game last 3 seasons.
6. Danny Granger: Most underrated player in the NBA on a bad team translates into numbers.
7. Dwight Howard: You’re giving up FT% with this pick … but likely winning FG%, blocks & boards.
8. Dwyane Wade: Stats will suffer beside LeBron, but still warrants first-round pick.
9. Dirk Nowitzki: The first-round guy I’d least like to have on my team still fills the statsheet.
10. Pau Gasol: He may look like a llama, but he’s the best offensive center in the game.

ROUND 2(NOTE: Either diversify your roster or lock categories down in your favor.)

11. Chris Bosh: He’ll still score, grab rebounds, block shots and make free throws.
12. Steve Nash: It’s a good thing defense isn’t really a category in fantasy hoops.
13. Amar’e Stoudemire: Last season under D’Antoni: 25.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 59.0 FG%, 80.5 FT%.
14. Josh Smith: Draft him with Howard, and you win blocks & boards every week.
15. Stephen Curry: A first-round pick on most boards, I wouldn’t take him until now.
16. Brook Lopez: Never would’ve predicted he’d be a top-20 pick.
17. Carmelo Anthony: A top-10 player, but on a team he doesn’t want to play for.
18. Rajon Rondo: Points, assists, steals and FG% have gone up every year.
19. Derrick Rose: Is anybody else thinking he’s going to have a huge season?
20. David Lee: You can count the number of centers who have average 20 and 12 on one hand.

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Read More: Fantasy, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James
Kevin Garnett on D&C: Offseason a ‘dark place’ 09.29.10 at 11:37 am ET
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Celtics forward Kevin Garnett spoke with Dennis & Callahan at Celtics media day in an interview that aired on Wednesday morning’s show. Garnett spoke of the depressed mood he was in following the Celtics’ NBA finals Game 7 loss to the Lakers.

Said Garnett: “Very dark, to be honest, dark. ‘Just leave me alone, let me be my myself. I don’t want to deal with anything right now. Let me just be in a dark place.’ Just the way I replay the game over and over in my mind, trying to get a resolution to some type of place to where you can settle with it. I never found it, but that’s what it is. I say it’s fuel to the fire.”

Garnett said his passion for the game though has not waned throughout the years. “I feel older in the fact that I’ve played for multiple years,” he said. “But when it comes to competing, being in shape, passion ‘€” none of those things are lacking, not with me. When I get out on the floor, man, I’m going to compete. I wear my heart on my sleeve with anything that I do, anyway. Basketball is one of the things I enjoy in this world, so it’s like I’m having a tryout here. When I work out, I work out to better myself, to better my craft. Basketball is pure enjoyment for me.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To listen to the full interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

When you’€™re done ‘€” whenever that is ‘€” will it be physical or emotional? Will it be that passion that goes first or will it be the knees?

I think it will be physical. When I retire, it will probably be because I’€™m hurting on a regular basis. I’€™m a passionate guy. Anyone who knows me or hangs out with me, they know that if I’€™m playing a video game or telling a story or something, I’€™m passionate about it.

How come nobody knows you, other than your family and friends? You’€™re pretty private, people don’€™t know much about you. Ray Allen is out playing golf, Shaq is everywhere already, but you don’€™t see much of Kevin Garnett.

Those guys like to be seen, I like to be in the back.

Are you shy?

I wouldn’€™t say shy, I’€™m just private. I think to get to know anybody is a moment. I look at life like, guys get to see me perform, play ball, a lot of things that we do are on blast anyways. So, the little private life that I do have I like to keep it private. I don’€™t like to ‘€” you know, I don’€™t have a Twitter, I don’€™t have a Facebook. It’€™s not that I’€™m not social. I’€™m social, but I like to be social with the people I know.

I just feel like everybody out here is not for you. If you let everybody in, you let those people in with that. I just prefer to have my circle tight and have my family and friends close to me. That’€™s how I like to interact and be around people. Shaq has the personality, his personality’€™s so big that you can’€™t really withhold that. Ray is a good golfer. I guess he likes people to see his swing or whatever. I’€™m just to the back. If I go out and go somewhere I like to sit down and chill. I’€™m not a rah-rah guy, I’€™m rah-rah when I’€™m on the court. I’€™m pretty laid back.

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Read More: Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA,
Why Doc Rivers is the ‘perfect coach’ for C’s 09.27.10 at 11:53 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Celtics head coach Doc Rivers believes he enters the season with the most talented group he’s ever coached, with more depth than the 2008 team that won the NBA title.

“You could make the case the 2008 team had more talent because they were younger. Kevin [Garnett] was at the peak of his health at that point so that has changed just a little bit. We’re hoping that all the guys on the bench are as good as their names. We don’t know that, either.”

One thing Rivers does know is the “O’Neal Brothers” – as he labeled the unrelated Shaquille and Jermaine on Monday – gives the Celtics as much in size as name recognition and the two will fight for the starting center’s job while Kendrick Perkins rehabs his right knee.”

Rivers has Delonte West on the bench. He has Nate Robinson on the bench. He Marquis Daniels on the bench. No team north of Miami can bring the depth to the court that the Celtics will bring this season.

“But I like the group as far as talent,” Rivers added. “A lot of the guys we’ve added, they’ve won. They’ve done a lot of winning if they haven’t been the winner [of the NBA title] and they are tough. A lot of them are tough guys, and I think that is good for our team.”

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said Monday he believes Rivers is the “perfect coach” for the veteran group of superstars he’s assembled to make another run at the franchise’s 18th NBA title. Rivers, Ainge and the rest of the Celtics spoke at Media Day about how ready and primed this group is to make it back to the promised land.

“Yeah, we’ll see about that, that’s for sure,” Rivers laughed when told what Ainge said. “We have a lot of personalities, there’s no doubt about that, probably more than we’ve ever had. Having said that, I also think this is the most talented group we’ve had, as far as deep, on the bench.”

The Celtics are trying to get back to the NBA Finals again next June for the third time in four seasons and avenge their Game 7 loss last June to the Lakers. The Celtics lead the Lakers 17 titles to 16.

Rivers went back with his coaching staff in August and made them all watch just how close they were to No. 18.

“I don’t think you ever get over it,” Rivers said. “I made my staff watch it. We watched it together about a month ago. So, I don’t think you ever get over it. Whenever I see anything [involving Game 7], they always show the damn celebration and all that. That’s not anything I want to watch. Hell, I’m not over Game 7 Celtics-Atlanta Hawks [1987], so I’m certainly not going to be over this.

“It does in some ways. It wants you to get it started again so you can get back there. So yeah, in that way it does. But other than that, you have to move forward. It has to push you a little bit. There’s no doubt.”

One thing Rivers did take from watching again was just how big a role the third-quarter injury to Paul Pierce played in the final devastating outcome.

“It’s easier to watch it the second time,” Rivers said. “It’s still emotional, it always will be. You watch it and you looked at all the opportunities you did have in that in that game. You saw some things you didn’t see. I didn’t realize the Paul injury was bigger, that little injury, was bigger than I thought it was during the game.

“I think [Celtics' lead] was 12 when he went out. It was only a three-minute period, but when he came back in it was four or six and that was the game. That was in the third quarter and I thought that was the turning point in the game. Nothing in the fourth quarter was different than what I saw. It was more the third quarter I thought changed the game.

In the wake of Game 7 in the locker room, Rivers also admitted Monday that he thought that was it for this group together under his direction.

“Yeah, because I wasn’t sure of what I was going to do at that time,” he said. “I knew Rasheed [Wallace] wasn’t coming back, he told me that before the game. I was, at that time, leaning heavily toward not coming back. Yeah, in the locker room I actually thought that was going to be the last time, at that point, that I would see all these guys together.

“And even if I did come back, I knew it wouldn’t be the same team. I knew we were going to have to make changes. I knew at that time, and no one else knew, the extent of Perk’s injury so I knew he wouldn’t be back until late in next year.”

But he does get another chance to prove – as Pierce believes – that he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA.

Just how many games can this group win this regular season?

“How many games we play, 82? Ok,” Rivers laughed.

Rivers would be just happy with 16 in the playoffs when it matters most.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA
Meaner and leaner Shaq ready to do battle at 11:04 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Shaquille O’Neal is a superstar who loves to talk about having 735 days left in his NBA career. He wants those days to include two more NBA titles, giving him six, which would mean he would have one more than Kobe Bryant.

But as O’Neal reminded everyone on Monday at Celtics media, this isn’t about him and Kobe, it’s about leaving the game on top.

The newest superstar member of the Celtics has given up his mom’s hamburgers, fried chicken, mac and cheese and cornbread muffins and is ripped and ready to go for his 18th season in the NBA, starting with Celtics media day on Monday.

O’Neal said he has been playing pickup games with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce at the Celtics facility and swimming to get in shape.

The Shaq-Kobe war of words was re-ignited Monday when he recalled the words of Bryant in the moments after the Lakers beat the Celtics for their 17th title and his fifth. ‘That’s one more than Shaq.’

O’Neal had his response on Monday. It had less to do with Kobe and more to do with San Antonio’s Tim Duncan.

“Yeah I heard it,” O’Neal said. “My whole career I’ve been the measuring stick. Glad to see I’m still relevant. I would’ve been more upset, more hurt, if Tim Duncan would’ve made the comment. I don’t compete with guards. They have the ball more than I do, they shoot way more than I do. You can’t compete with guard. I’m only competing w/Tim Duncan so hopefully I can get No. 5 before Tim Duncan, respectfully before Tim Duncan.”

Duncan and O’Neal each have four NBA championship rings while Bryant and Derek Fisher lead active players with five.

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, Shaquille O'Neal,
Rondo the salesman 07.14.10 at 5:04 pm ET
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WALTHAM — After passing a physical that finalized a two-year free agent deal, Jermaine O’Neal said that Rajon Rondo was the most important person to sell him on the value of signing with the Celtics.

“I had some great conversations with Doc [Rivers], Danny [Ainge] and Paul [Pierce] and Rondo, and Rondo actually was probably the guy who sold it the most, and I had great conversations with all four guys but he really helped me understand where my fit would be,” O’Neal said. “I’m not concerned about shots, I’m not concerned about minutes. I’m not concerned about anything but winning. At the end of the day, you can build up individual goals, but your validation is whether you win or not.”

O’Neal also gave credit to Rasheed Wallace, who also sold him on the quality of the organization. O’Neal said he texted Wallace to see if he could convince him to come out of retirement. He said he hadn’t heard back but would be getting together with him soon.

Read More: Celtics, Jermaine O'Neal, NBA, Rajon Rondo
Report: Wallace decides to retire 06.24.10 at 8:16 pm ET
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Rasheed Wallace has officially decided to retire, TNT’s David Aldridge reported on Thursday night, citing a league source. The decision was expected following the Celtics‘ Game 7 loss to the Lakers in the NBA finals. After the game, Doc Rivers said, “I don’€™t know if Rasheed will ever play again. He’€™s one of them. I think he took that out on the floor with him.” Wallace had $12 million and two years left on his contract, which he signed last summer.

Wallace most recently averaged 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds during the finals, including a Game 7 start. It was a bounceback from an inconsistent regular season in which he posted 9.0 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 28.3 percent from 3-point range in 79 games.

Wallace was selected by the Bullets with the fourth overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. He earned four All-Star selections and won a championship in 2004 with the Pistons. Wallace ranked sixth in games played among all active players.

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, Rasheed Wallace,
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