|NBA Power Rankings, 1/28||01.28.10 at 9:15 am ET|
1. Cleveland (2): It’s surprising how well the Cavaliers have matched up with the Lakers this year. With or without Shaq in Cleveland’s lineup, I just didn’t think that they had the big men to deal with LA’s size. As for player-coach-mayor LeBron, I’ve seen him carry a worse team than this to the Finals … but he did it when the Eastern Conference was worse, too. After last year, regular-season dominance means nothing. Can this team be this good in late May and early June?
2. LA Lakers (1): What fickle person comes up with these rankings, anyway? Wasn’t it just last week that “it’s going to be hard for someone to knock them from this [No. 1] perch”? That someone was the Cavaliers, who swept the season series from the Lakers. (An aside, from the world of trashy TV: The fellas might think I’m crazy on this one, but do you know which Kardashian is really starting to grow on me? Khloe. Lamar Odom’s girl. Kim and Kourtney get all the hype, but … I’m just saying … never mind.)
3. Denver (5): What the Nuggets have done this year is amazing. They’ve won some games without Carmelo Anthony, they’ve won some games without Chauncey Billups, they’ve won some games without bench guy J.R. Smith. They were conference finalists last year, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they were able to return and make it even more interesting than last time.
4. Dallas (3): I love the way they’re playing, but I don’t believe in the way they’re playing. It’s great for the regular season. But when the playoffs arrive and scouting and defense becomes more intense, there’s one player I definitely trust (Dirk, of course) and two maybes (the Jasons: Terry and Kidd).
5. Boston (6) KG is back and the world is back to normal for the C’s. They closed out two games, against the Clippers and Blazers, that they probably would have lost without the presence, sound and fury of No. 5. Speaking of which, does anyone know any good lip readers? I swear, before the year is over, I’m going to the Garden with a lip reader whose only assignment will be to focus on KG the entire night. Some people are offended by his rants. I’m not. I just want to know what he’s saying beyond the obvious, you know, “Take that, mother…” and other assorted f-bombs.
|How Rondo is like Brett Favre||01.26.10 at 9:57 pm ET|
Rivers has spent the last three years trying to instill in Rajon Rondo the kind of traits Rivers used to gain a reputation as one of the best defensive guards in the NBA in the 1980s.
Right now, Rivers knows the reputation Rondo has around the league. Go at Rondo and make him try to stop you, since defense hasn’t always come naturally for the guard. On Tuesday, following practice, Rivers drew a analogy between Rondo and another pro athlete.
“I think teams try to go at Rondo because of his size and because they want to try and get him to gamble,” Rivers said. “It’s like trying to make Brett Favre try and throw across his body. It’s who you are, and teams know that and try to take advantage of that.”
[Click here to hear Doc Rivers talk about how defense led to Rondo’s development into a possible All-Star]
Like Favre on Sunday with an ill-advised cross-body pass that was picked, Rondo’s season came to a bitter end in Game 7 last spring against the Orlando Magic, a game in which some critics felt Rondo hurt the team by constantly gambling for steals instead of playing solid defense on Orlando’s dangerous backcourt. Read the rest of this entry »
|Glen Davis: Don’t play if you’re not a competitor||at 7:44 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics leave Wednesday morning to begin one of their toughest four-day stretches of the season. On Thursday, they play in Orlando, followed by a road game in Atlanta the next night.
‘Huge,” Glen Davis said of the week. “These are big, big, big games. If you’re not a competitor, you don’t need to play in these games. This is a great opportunity for us to keep our win streak alive and also get better with playoff-contending teams. We’re looking forward to the challenge. Every game is big but these games are bigger.’
Speaking of Davis, he said he is on a new path when it comes to his former moniker – ‘Big Baby’
‘Big Baby will always be a part of me. But I’m going to put Big Baby on the shelf ‘ for now,’ he said.
Asked why Davis, No. 11, is leaning toward ‘Uno, Uno’ as a new nickname, Davis pointed toward Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. Davis doesn’t feel the need to formally change his last name, just his handle.
“Every sport has their version of nicknames,” Davis said. “He paved the way. Knock off or not, I’m a different player than Ochocinco. He plays football. I play basketball.”
Davis wouldn’t be the first pro athlete in Boston to follow the Cincinnati receiver’s lead. In 2008, Jonathan Papelbon had ‘Cinco Ocho’ T-shirts made up sporting the reverse of the famous wide receiver, and representing the No. 58 on the back of Papelbon’s uniform.
|Scal cleared to play, Marquis begins drills||at 4:12 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Brian Scalabrine returned to Celtics practice on Tuesday and was cleared to play on the team’s upcoming trip to Orlando and Atlanta. He had missed two games with separated right shoulder, injured on Jan. 6 in Miami.
“Scal practiced today and showed no sign of injury,” coach Doc Rivers announced following practice. “He shot two airballs and I was like, ‘Scal’s back.’ He’s good. He’ll play.”
Rivers said that Marquis Daniels participated in passing drills for the first time since surgery on his left thumb. Rivers is hopeful Daniels could re-join the team the first game back from the All-Star break.
Daniels missed his 22nd straight game on Monday night, before which Rivers indicated there was a “slight chance” the guard/forward could return on Feb. 10 in New Orleans, the final game before the All-Star break.
|Mr. Smith comes back to Boston||at 2:24 am ET|
BOSTON — For all the attention paid to the return of Marcus Camby to town as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, it’s easy to forget another former New England college star who came back on Monday night at TD Garden.
In his senior season, he averaged 17.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.8 blocked shots as the Eagles reached the Sweet 16. There, they lost a heartbreaker to Villanova at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. He also attended Worcester Academy for a year as a post-graduate student before college.
When the time arrived to turn pro following his four years at BC, he was regarded as one of the most promising young power forwards in the draft. Yes, he was just 6-7 but he could rebound and proved he had a scorer’s mentality in college. Those factors were enough for the Timberwolves to take him in the second round (36th overall) in the 2006 NBA draft.
On Monday night, Smith scored 13 points in 21 minutes for the Clippers in a 95-89 loss to the Celtics.
‘Craig’s been giving us a lot of good work off the bench the last couple of weeks, and you know when we’re scoring down there, we’ve been going to him and he’s been able to deliver for us and we had a good mix,” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. “Like I said, hey, we had good inside opportunities, we got to the free throw line some, and we didn’t convert on some fast break opportunities and some wide open shots and that was the big difference for us.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|Doc on Davis: ‘He’s not a bad kid’||01.25.10 at 8:59 pm ET|
Actually, he’s dropping it altogether for “Uno Uno.”
While we wait to see how that goes over, one of the people who often used the “Big Baby” reference ‘ Celtics coach Doc Rivers ‘ believes there’s something more important to note about his biggest power forward off the bench.
“He’s young, that’s the one thing I keep saying about him,” Rivers said. “He has to grow up in front of a lot of people where most people his age don’t. He’s not a bad kid. We just have to give him time. Some you don’t, some you do and he’s one you do.
“The character and the ‘He’s not a bad kid’ part of it is the savior of it all.”
Rivers has shown support for Davis several several times this season. Whether it was the player’s fracas in an SUV the weekend before the season-opener in Cleveland that resulted in a broken thumb or the recent obscenity-laced tirade directed at a fan in Detroit that left Davis $25,000 lighter, Rivers has been there for his player.
Monday, as Davis searched for a new identity to go with his new image and moniker, Rivers was there for him again.
“I think we can all learn from his mistakes,” Rivers said. “I hope we can all learn from our mistakes and I think he can as well. Usually, his mistakes come from emotional [decisions]. Usually, his mistakes are nothing calculated.”
(Listen to Rivers explain his stance on Davis by clicking here.)
|Doc: ‘Slight’ chance Daniels returns before break||at 7:21 pm ET|
Monday was the 22nd straight game that Daniels missed following surgery on his left thumb. Initially, the Celtics didn’t anticipate his return until after the All-Star break, but if a checkup goes well on Tuesday, some basketball activities could be in the offing followed by practice, and then, games.
“We’ll find out more [Tuesday] about Marquis,” Rivers said. “We’re hoping first game after the All-Star break.
“There’s a slight chance he may be able to play by the New Orleans game [Feb. 10], which would be a huge benefit for him because he gets one game in before which helps him once we come out of break. We’re out of break on the West Coast, so we want to come out of break playing well.”
Meanwhile, Brian Scalabrine, who missed his second game on Monday with a separated right shoulder, is expected to miss a week.
He also will be re-evaluated on Tuesday.
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