|Doc’s three-point plan for success||04.01.10 at 5:23 pm ET|
To that point, Doc Rivers outlined two areas he believes his team has improved since the All-Star break and one more he believes still needs work before the second season begins.
Rivers told reporters following Thursday’s practice that the team has cut down on its turnovers since the break and has done a better job of rebounding in recent games.
But the one area he still feels his team needs work on its weak-side defense. In other words, Rivers wants to see more green and white shirts flying to the open shooter and not allow wide open shots, especially from three-point range.
That was particularly evident on Wednesday when Jeff Green nailed back-to-back three-pointers in the final two minutes to seal Oklahoma City’s 109-104 win over the Celtics.
“Turnovers are going down but we’ve had the sporadic bad game,” Rivers said. “We’re rebounding better, we’ve had the sporadic bad game. And then there’s the weak-side defense.
“To me that’s the biggest concern, a guy is going to get beat off the dribble, that next guy being there to take the charge and the next guy being there to get his body in the way and then the next guy getting on that guy’s body. That’s the next step we have to make.”
Rivers also said his players were more upset with three free-throw discrepancy than he was.
“I thought we could’ve gone to the line more but I thought we could’ve been more aggressive going to the basket as well since we took a lot of threes,” Rivers said. “I thought they were complaining more they were playing good defense on some of those and they were playing good defense.”
|Celtics curse Kevin Durant||at 3:21 am ET|
You know you’re good when a pair of NBA veterans curse your performance after you lead your team to a win on their home court.
Kevin Durant is that good — and then some.
He scored from every spot on the court, including the free throw line — where he made all 15 attempts. When all was said and done, the Celtics watched him pour in 37 points in Oklahoma City’s 109-104 win over the Green on Wednesday at TD Garden.
‘It’s a team job to help out, period,” Rasheed Wallace said. “No matter whether it’s him or any other type of NBA All-Star, it’s a team effort to help out. It was a [pain], honestly. Helping Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] out, it’s just a team thing. Got to stay with him.’
As for those 15 free throws, compare that to the fact the Celtics as a team made just 13-of-17 attempts the entire game.
‘I thought we were playing Michael [expletive] Jordan tonight the way he was getting the whistle,” Kevin Garnett added. “Durant damn near shot more free throws than our whole team.’
‘We’ve grown, we’ve grown up,” Durant said. “We’ve added a lot of different pieces since our first year, me and Jeff. So it’s good to come in here and beat a team like Boston — a great team, a championship team like them. It’s all about moving on from here.
‘It means a lot for us, and like you say gives us confidence. We’ve got eight more games left, so we’ve just got to keep plugging away and keep pushing. This is another step for us. We’re happy with this win, but tomorrow we’ve got to let it go and get ready for Dallas.’
Maybe most impressive is the fact the Thunder shot 50 percent, 10 percent less than their opponent — on their opponent’s home court — and still managed to win.
‘If you want a tape about how to score the basketball, you’ve got to watch this game,” Durant said. “They scored it in a variety of ways and we scored in a variety of ways as well. Our point guard did a great job of starting us off early, getting to the rim and opening things up for everybody else. It was a great game as far as offensive is concerned. We’ve just got to work on our defense from here.’
Glen Davis was one of the last Celtics to give his take on Durant on Wednesday, and he didn’t even need any dirty words.
‘He’s a problem because you’ve got to pay attention to him,” Davis said. “You’ve got to make sure he doesn’t beat you, and he had a big game tonight. We’ve got to get him out of his comfort zone and make sure he doesn’t have 37, but he did.’
|Coach Belichick, it’s Doc on the line||03.31.10 at 6:59 pm ET|
Pierce suffered a ‘stinger’ to his right shoulder on Sunday night and again on Tuesday in practice but was cleared by the team’s training and medical staff while Perkins has missed the last two games with left knee tendinitis.
“It’s good but it’s scary,” Rivers said. “Obviously, you don’t know why you get stingers. Maybe I should call Coach [Bill] Belichick because it’s a football injury more. We don’t have a whole bunch of stingers in our league that I know of. Obviously, it does concern you because I always think if something like that happens, there’s got to be a reason why but it’s just coincidence, let’s hope.”
|Pierce gets ‘stung’ again on right shoulder||03.30.10 at 3:54 pm ET|
WALTHAM — For the second time in three days, Paul Pierce injured his right shoulder. This time, the injury happened midway through Celtics practice when he ran into a back screen and fell to the ground. Rivers said trainer Ed Lacerte said if it’s just a stinger, Pierce should be fine to play.
“He actually got hurt again,” Rivers said. “It’s a stinger. It was the same exact reaction. It looked worse today. Eddie said if it’s a stinger, he’ll be fine but you get concerned because it’s a game and a practice, exact same thing.”
‘That’s something you play a guy five minutes and that can happen, Rivers added. ‘There’s nothing you can do about that. The good news is it’s not a shoulder separation or anything and probably the worst case is he misses a game or two, at worse. That’s not all bad and obviously, you’d like to have him and it’s not a lower body injury.’
Meanwhile, Kendrick Perkins, who has missed the last two games with left knee tendinitis, is expected to return to the starting lineup on Wednesday night against Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City at TD Garden.
|Spurs, Ginobili make C’s look ‘awful’||03.29.10 at 12:55 am ET|
When Doc Rivers said before the game he wanted his team to take a page out of the Spurs book on winning championships and playing consistently, Manu Ginobili might as well have been the author on Sunday night.
“It was one of those nights, guys,” Rivers said. “We played awful. I thought they wanted to play. You know, the first quarter I thought was terrific. I thought the bench came in in the second quarter and just everybody went iso. There was no ball movement at all with that group. And then after that I thought the starters came back in, got us back into the game, and then the third quarter was awful for us. But I thought in the third quarter is when they stopped moving the ball, I thought offensively. And defensively we struggled all night. Ginobili was fantastic and [DeJuan] Blair in the fourth quarter was a one-man wrecking crew.’
And after Ginobili finished with 28 points and the Spurs laid down a 94-73 beatdown on the Celtics on Sunday night, Rivers gave his good friend and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich a hug and a pat of congratulations on the back. And it wouldn’t be surprising if Rivers said nice little player that No. 20 is.
And the fact of the matter is Ginobili has had little choice. With Tony Parker out indefinitely with a fractured bone in his right foot and Tim Duncan limited to just eight points, it’s been Ginobili’s team of late.
‘Manu’s been playing great you know for the last month,” Popovich said. “He’s basically taken over the team. he’s been the same Manu we’ve had when we won championships, so you know without Tony it’s really important for somebody to step up like that and he’s done it.”
And watching Ginobili get to the basket and drive with regularity and then be a ball hawk on defense, it was like Celtics fans were watching Rajon Rondo playing for the opposition for one night.
‘Defense, defense we were very good, we were very active, we shifted very well off of the guys that we had to shift off,” Ginobili said. “We played good defense on KG and Paul Pierce, nothing was easy for them and that was a big key. Offensively we made some key shots to maintain that lead so it was really always uphill for them, it was a great game.’
“Some of the plays he makes, he still suprises me,” said another veteran Antonio McDyess of Ginobili. “You can never count him out because he always comes up with big plays at all times. To be new on this team and still see him doing those types of things, its still great to watch.’
Ginobili was happy to avenge a loss in Texas in December to the Celtics.
‘Definitely,” Ginobili said of the satisfaction of getting payback. “That was the worst we had been probably, last time we played them. Now we are kind of looking better, looking like a team at least. We are playing hard, hustling, communicating, all that. We are still making a lot of mistakes but that’s part of the whole deal, but when you look at our faces going to the bench with subs and stuff it is totally different so I am glad to see that.’
Now it’s the Celtics who must go back to the drawing board.
“That’s basketball,” Rivers said. “It happens. I thought we wanted to, but I thought it did break down tonight. I just thought everybody just held onto the ball and was going to do it themselves. You know it’s funny, that’s all we worked on yesterday. So clearly that didn’t work. Playing against the Spurs, you know, it’s extra pass. You’re not going to beat them off the bounce. You’re just not. And it seemed like we were hell-bent in trying to do that.
“And it’s like Pop said before the game to me: ‘You’re not going to beat the Celtics off the bounce.’ And they didn’t. They moved the ball. They kept swinging it, kept passing it, kept making passes. They did what we were supposed to do.’
|Doc on the Spurs: ‘What we want to be’||03.28.10 at 9:36 pm ET|
Rivers was the point guard for the Spurs between 1994-96 when Popovich was the general manager.
Then Rivers retired the season before the Popovich fired Bob Hill for a 3-16 start and took over as head coach.
Four NBA titles later, the man with the second-longest head coaching tenure in the NBA is the envy of the league – including Doc Rivers.
“Well, he’s earned it,” Rivers said of Popovich’s tenure. “Pop’s been phenomenal. He’s not only been a coach but he a built a whole program. San Antonio has always been very good. They just could never get over the hump. When I played there, we made it to the Western Finals against Houston and they had been there before.
“Pop came in and not only took them back there, but took them over that and he did in the right way with character players. The organization is first class and no one would have thought 10 years ago that San Antonio would be the organization that most of the league, and not just in basketball, would model their teams after and they do.”
So it’s no surprise that after titles in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007, the Spurs have the kind of resume that others in the league want to copy – even the mightiest of all NBA dynasties with 17 banners already hanging in the rafters.
“Well, we would like to be,” Rivers said of the desire to copy the Spurs’ way. “And that’s what we want to be because they’ve been consistent with it and have done a great job with it. Everyone has their own way but there are a lot of things that I do as a coach and there are a lot of things we do as an organization that we got from them.”
|KG gives Rondo a pat on the back||03.27.10 at 12:06 am ET|
Maybe Kevin Garnett had the best perspective of all on the accomplishments of Rajon Rondo on Friday night. Not only did Rondo set a new career best with 18 assists in Boston’s 94-86 win over the Kings at TD Garden, the Celtics point guard set a new single-season steals mark with two in the game and 169 for the season.
“It’s a great accomplishment. He deserves a big pat on the back,” said Garnett, who promptly proceeded to take his left hand and give Rondo a playful shot to the ribs at the podium.
All of this while the Celtics were clinching their third straight Atlantic Division title.
‘I wasn’t even aware of that,” Garnett said. “I don’t think that anybody in the locker room said anything like that. I think tonight we were more appreciative of Rondo, and his accomplishments. Anytime you get any kind of record in this organization, on a team like what we have, is a huge thing. We are just of appreciative of being in the moment, being here, being a part of it. It is a very special moment, and no one even talked about the division title tonight. Tonight was Rondo’s night.”
Indeed it was. From the opening tip and continuing throughout a game that had the Celtics up 24 points five different times in the third quarter, Rondo set the tempo with another all-around great game. He now has 696 assists, just 19 shy of Bob Cousy’s mark in the 1959-60 season.
‘It may mean more to me once I retire or I am away from here,” Rondo said. “I am just focused on winning. It is a great accomplishment. This organization has won so many championships and has had some great players come through; so many all-stars have set records here, hopefully down the line another record. At the end of the day I am just trying to focus on getting wins and as an individual accomplishment, they come in the path of doing great things for the team.’
‘Any time you get any record, whether it be assists or steals, or rebounds,” Garnett added, “records don’t just fall in your lap. A great effort, and anticipation. I have never been nowhere near steals and all of that.”
Of course, part of the issue with Rondo has been that he sometimes gambles on defense, leaving his teammates to cover for him when the defense is left out of position.
“The anticipation is a gamble at times, but you know we understand Rondo’s game and we all do different things,” Garnett said. “We know that nine out of 10 times he is solid. He does gamble, eight out of 10 times he is right. The two we have to make up for, but at the same time when we mess up, he is there to help us, so it evens itself out at the end of the day. It’s a great accomplishment and a big pat on the back for him.’
Rondo is dishing the ball as well as he ever has and certainly is running the Celtics offense better than at any point during this season. In other words, he’s peaking at just the right time – with just 10 games left in the season.
‘Kevin made a lot of shots, Ray [Allen] made shots as well. The team made shots. I just try and give them the ball. Get easy position as much as possible, but what I was proud about were the turnovers, the turnover ratio,” said Rondo, who had 18 assists and just two turnovers. “I was just trying to take care of the ball. At times, I turned down a couple of shots because I was trying to pass it, but other than that, I was just happy taking care of the ball and keeping the turnovers down.’