|NBA Weekend Playoff Guide||04.24.09 at 4:11 pm ET|
Friday, April 24
(4) Portland Trail Blazers @ (5) Houston Rockets
9:30pm EST, ESPN
Saturday, April 25
Sunday, April 26
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers @ (8) Detroit Pistons
3:30pm EST, ABC
(3) Orlando Magic @ (6) Philadelphia 76ers
6:30pm EST, TNT
(4) Portland Trail Blazers @ (5) Houston Rockets
9:00pm EST, TNT
* The Cavaliers (2-0) are the only team eligible to clinch a series victory this weekend.
|Rivers: If you only knew||04.17.09 at 2:30 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Doc Rivers was in understandable shock on Thursday morning.
The Celtics coach had just told WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan that the C’s would be without their emotional leader and shutdown defender, Kevin Garnett, likely for the playoffs. And he had just found out that his boss and one of his closest friends in the game, Danny Ainge, had just suffered a heart attack.
So he could certainly be forgiven when he said on Friday that he couldn’t remember which came first.
“We make the Kevin decision and then literally, the next thing follows,” Rivers retold. “I don’t remember which was first. It was just not a good period. When someone calls you and says, ‘A guy had a heart attack.’ They should follow. It scares the hell out of you, because they stop. And it’s the pause is what killed me because obviously you think the worst but he’s lucky. And that’s good.”
But good was about the last thing you would call Thursday for anyone associated with the Celtics.
“It was awful,” Rivers said. “Someone said it didn’t look like I wasn’t giving the Kevin thing a lot of thought at the time and I said that’s because you didn’t know what was going through my mind at the time.
“At that time, he was going into surgery,” Rivers continued. “You’re scared, you’re worried. So it hit hard for that, it hit me hard because he’s my friend and it hit me hard because he’s my age. It was scary for me and for everybody but when you know somebody like I know Danny, it just really tugs at you.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Doc’s orders: Ainge told to stay away from Garden||at 1:59 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Celtics coach Doc Rivers said on Friday that he has exchanged text messages with his boss, Danny Ainge, the Celtics GM, who suffered a mild heart attack on Thursday morning and was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital.
Rivers said following practice Friday that Ainge is doing much better and that doctors have instructed him to stay away from the first two games of the playoff series with Chicago, which begins 12:30 p.m. Saturday at TD Banknorth Garden.
“I hope not,” Rivers said when asked if Ainge would try to fight the orders. “Knowing Danny, I wouldn’t be shocked. I know (Saturday) he will not be, I’m positive of that. And he shouldn’t be at Monday’s (game). I know there’s doctor’s orders, and not mine but the real doctors have told him he can’t come but I’ve never known Danny to really listen. I wouldn’t be shocked but he shouldn’t be there. He shouldn’t watch probably.”
|Big Baby to Ticket Stub||at 1:34 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Glen Davis has just struck nickname gold.
On Friday, he was asked if he was ready to help assume the huge shoes of Kevin Garnett, who is out with a sore right knee.
“I thrive at situations like that, being the underdog,” Davis began. “No, I’m not KG, I’m not at all. I’m Big Baby from LSU, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I’m not the Big Ticket, I’m the Ticket Stub.”
And he was far from done there.
“Don’t count the Ticket Stub out,” he added. “You might need the ticket to get into the game but you leave with the ticket stub because you’ll never forget this game. You’ll need it as a souvenir.”
Nicknames won’t beat the Chicago Bulls. Good defense will. And Davis, the likely starting replacement for Garnett, said he’s more than ready to accept the challenge of helping to contain the Bulls, especially in the paint, where Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Friday the series will be won.
“I am ready, I am excited, I am ready to embrace this opportunity,” Davis said. “You don’t get opportunities like this. This does not come. A second-year guy coming off the bench. Last year, coming off the bench, getting an opportunity to start and be a player in the playoffs, having a chance to go to The Finals and the Eastern Conference Finals, it’s unbelievable.”
Maybe it’s time to believe in Big Baby. The Celtics do.
|Ainge still resting comfortably||at 11:35 am ET|
WALTHAM – There has been no update so far today on the condition of Danny Ainge, who was reported to be resting comfortably after suffering a mild heart attack on Thursday morning. Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said the team had not heard anything new from his family on Friday.
WCVB-TV first reported that Ainge had 100 percent blockage in an artery, which was treated with the insertion of a stent at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Jeff Goodman of WEEI.com and Foxsports.com confirmed the report through Ainge’s son Austin that the Celtics’ Vice President of Basketball Operations suffered a heart attack and is resting comfortably after being taken to the hospital early Thursday morning.
The team issued this statement on Ainge’s condition on Thursday evening: “Danny Ainge is recovering at Massachusetts General Hospital after having a minor heart attack. He is recovering nicely. Mr. Ainge is expected to remain in the hospital for a few days.”
Meanwhile, the team began practice at 11 this morning in Waltham in a final preparation for Game 1 of their series with Chicago on Saturday afternoon at 12:30 at TD Banknorth Garden.
|Pierce: We’re still capable of winning a championship||04.16.09 at 4:37 pm ET|
But to quote the man himself, “Anything is Possible!!!”
Paul Pierce has been prepping himself for this possibility all along, or at least since Garnett went down for a second time in mid-March with the right knee injury.
“Last 10 to 12 games, if Kevin comes back or if he doesn’t, we have to be mentally prepared for it,” Pierce said. “That’s the way I approached these games coming down to (the end) of the season.”
As a matter of fact, the Celtics finished 16-7 this season in the 23 games without their emotional leader. They even won 10 of 11 without him after losing to Orlando to capture the No. 2 seed in the East.
“You feel bad for a guy who wants to be out there, wants to help his teammates in the playoffs. I know it’s hurting him more than it’s hurting us,” Pierce said.
Pierce believes the team, with shooters like himself, Ray Allen and Eddie House and inside players like Kendrick Perkins, Leon Powe and Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis are more than capable of picking up enough slack.
“Now the guys know he’s probably not going to play, we have to move forward with what we got,” Pierce said. “Guys have to be ready to step up. That’s about it. We’ve been playing without him for quite a while so we know we’re still a pretty good team and capable of winning a championship.”
As for those who doubt the Celtics have any chance at all of even reaching the NBA Finals to defend their title, Pierce hardly sounded like a man whose feelings have been hurt.
“There’s always going to be doubters,” Pierce said. “That’s something we don’t really worry about. We know what we have in this room and we know what we do when we play well and that’s all that really matters right now. It’s going to be an uphill battle of course not having Kevin but that’s how we like it.”
|Bench support||at 2:46 pm ET|
WALTHAM – After dealing with the stunning news delivered by their head coach that Kevin Garnett has probably played his final game this season, Celtics players are making one final demand of their best defensive player and emotional leader.
“That’s where I need him to be I need him to be on the bench because if he can’t be on the floor, he can be valuable to us on the bench,” Ray Allen said. “In a lot of instances it’s like he is on the floor. I will push as hard as I possibly can because his voice over there on the bench will be just like he is in the game.”
And just before Thursday’s practice, head coach Doc Rivers assured Allen and the rest of the Celtics that Garnett will indeed be there starting Saturday afternoon at 12:30 when they open a first-round series with Chicago.
“Yeah, he will be, he will be,” Rivers said. “That’s the one thing I told him. During the playoffs, we need everybody in there, out on the floor, in the locker room and on the bench. We just hope he doesn’t get a technical.”
Garnett has often said that he’s afraid how he’ll handle himself when he can only watch. But they are all asking KG to make an exception this time because of the lift it could give during the passion-driven playoffs.
The team’s captain also feels strongly about Garnett’s value to the bench.
“It’s very important because of the way guys look at Kevin,” said Paul Pierce. “He’s an unquestioned leader of this ball club and he can help us just by being on the bench, seeing some of the things he sees out there and giving his knowledge of the game, especially to the other big guys. So I think it’ll be huge.”
Whether it’s Allen or Pierce or even coach Doc Rivers, everyone around Garnett is well aware of his dislike for being on the bench during games.
And don’t think for a second that Allen doesn’t feel for his fallen teammate who will be reduced to cheerleader.
“I’m devastated for him,” Allen said. “This is the time of year we all wait for. The excitement is in the air. This is where players are made, teams are made and legacies are cemented and for him not to be a part of this, I hurt for him.”