|What Doc Rivers’ return means to Celtics||05.16.13 at 4:40 pm ET|
It’s been two weeks since Celtics coach Doc Rivers delivered his cryptic press conference after the Game 6 loss to the Knicks, when he hinted at the possibility of foregoing the remaining three years on his contract.
Meanwhile, Stephen A. Smith speculated Rivers could join Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in a trade to the Clippers — a notion C’s president Danny Ainge dismissed, assuring Celtics nation: “I think Doc will be coaching the Boston Celtics.”
On Thursday, it appears we can remove the “I think” from that statement. Rivers will be coaching the Boston Celtics, Ainge told The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.
So, what does that mean for the 2013-14 edition?
For starters, the Celtics will have one of the game’s great coaches on their bench. Rivers is on USA Basketball’s short list for good reason. If Seattle were granted a franchise tomorrow and had its pick of the litter, Rivers, former assistant Tom Thibodeau and Gregg Popovich would likely be the top three choices to lead a team into the future.
Of course, the future is where things get complicated. Rivers suggested that he, Pierce and KG would discuss their plans together soon after the season, but it’s unclear if that meeting has taken place. At the very least, the coach’s return is a sign that both veterans could also be back, since the opposite would have been true had Rivers left.
|Avery Bradley makes NBA All-Defensive Second Team||05.13.13 at 4:56 pm ET|
Celtics guard Avery Bradley made the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team — the first such honor of his three-year career. He received 10 first-place and five second-place votes from the NBA’s 30 head coaches, and his 25 total points trailed only Tony Allen (53) and Chris Paul (37) among the league’s guards.
Often dubbed the best on-ball defender in the NBA, Bradley’s 0.73 points allowed per possession ranked 16th in the league, according to Synergy Sports. More importantly, the Celtics allowed 102.1 points per 100 possessions — ranking 14th in the league before Bradley’s Jan. 2 debut — and then posted the NBA’s fifth-best defensive rating (99.4 points per 100 possessions) in the 51 games after his return.
“I want to shut down everybody every single night,” Bradley said after limiting Warriors scoring sensation Stephen Curry back in March. “If you notice, every game I play the same way. Every single game on the defensive end. That’s just my mindset. That’s how I play. That’s how I always play my whole life.”
Forwards LeBron James and Serge Ibaka as well as centers Tyson Chandler and Joakim Noah joined the backourt duo of Allen and Paul on the NBA All-Defensive First Team. Strangely, NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol made the Second Team alongside Bradley, Tim Duncan, Paul George and Mike Conley.
Kevin Garnett didn’t capture a single vote. This marks only the second time since 1999 he didn’t make either the NBA All-Defensive First or Second Team — and the first time in that span he didn’t receive a vote.
|Danny Ainge sees Celtics stars returning next season||05.09.13 at 5:04 pm ET|
On his final weekly appearance on Salk & Holley of the 2012-13 NBA season, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge called the recent Stephen A. Smith rumors “silly,” indicated Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett will return next season, reaffirmed Rajon Rondo should be back for training camp and called Paul Pierce‘s future the first tough decision of his summer.
On Pierce: “There’s a lot that will go into it, but it hasn’t even started yet. We have until June 30 to make any decision. Listen, Paul’s been one of the greatest Celtics of all-time, and that will play a part in it. We love what he’s done for us, but ultimately we have to do what we think is the best for us from this point forward. And I think that Paul still has a lot of basketball left in him.”
On Rivers: “”Doc is always unsure. Coaching is very, very draining. Every year with Doc, he’s had to go home and sort of recharge and ask himself that question, ‘Is this something that I’m passionate about and want to continue doing?’ I understand that. And we sort of give him time to unwind and relax, and after a couple of 92’s on the golf course, he usually comes back.
“I think Doc will be coaching the Boston Celtics.”
On Garnett: “I’ll touch base with KG probably some time next week. He puts so much into the game. He invests as much as any player I’ve ever seen. He just needs time to chill and contemplate his life, and then we’ll talk at some future time, but I do anticipate that KG will play. Just like I did last year, I feel the same this year. I don’t know for sure, but we’ll know more in the next couple weeks.”
On Rondo: “So far, he looks good. Him and [Leandro] Barbosa have both been rehabbing and both have looked good from their ACL [injuries]. From everything our medical staff has told us, Rondo is doing great, and he should be ready by training camp.”
The Barbosa mention seemed strange, considering the C’s dealt him to the Wizards in the Jordan Crawford deal. Ainge said not to read too much into the veteran rehabbing in Boston (but still …). Here are more highlights from the fantastic interview by Salk & Holley — a must listen for anyone looking for a summer Celtics primer:
|Irish Coffee: Six Celtics steps for this summer||05.08.13 at 2:33 pm ET|
Not even a week after their season ended with a wondrous failed comeback against the Knicks, the Celtics have already entered full-blown offseason mode. They’ve since lost wunderkind assistant general manager Ryan McDonough to the Suns, and the ridiculous rumor mill is churning like never before.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers stated the obvious after the Game 6 loss on Friday night when he explained team president Danny Ainge “has already worked on stuff.” Here’s the “stuff” facing Ainge over the next few months.
Step 1: What to do with Paul Pierce?
A decision on one of four options for Pierce must be made by July 1:
|The Celtics are dead, long live the Celtics||05.04.13 at 2:31 am ET|
The Celtics are dead, long live the Celtics.
The Knicks hosted their funeral on Wednesday, and the zombie C’s crawled out of their graves to live one more game. Then, they buried themselves alive in the first three quarters of Game 6, and nearly lived to tell about it. Grit and balls. Heart of a champion. #BostonStrong. All of it was on display amid a 20-0 run over four fourth-quarter minutes that nobody would’ve believed if the 18,624 fans filling the Garden hadn’t watched it unfold.
As Knicks guard Iman Shumpert said after an 88-80 win that finally laid these C’s to rest, “It felt like it wasn’t real.”
Only this time the ghosts of Celtics past weren’t good enough. Not without Rajon Rondo. Not on Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett alone. Not anymore. So, what now? Where do these old, tired, stubborn Celtics go from here?
|Jason Terry: ‘Gotta love the heart of a champion’||at 12:24 am ET|
Jason Terry knew it wouldn’t be easy beating the Knicks four straight games. And down 26 with under 10 minutes left in Game 6, he knew it would be nearly impossible.
But that didn’t keep Boston from putting a huge scare into the Knicks before New York advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000.
The Celtics went on a 20-0 run, cutting a 26-point lead down to six, and eventually down to four before succumbing to the Knicks, 88-80. Terry finished 14 points in 24 minutes off the bench as the Celtics’ season came to an end.
‘Gotta love the heart of a champion,” Terry said. “We hung in there tonight to get down 20 in the fourth quarter, battled back’¦but you could see it. We just didn’t have enough gas in the tank.’
Some may have felt the season was over with 10 minutes left but not Terry. And once the Celtics gave them reason, the TD Garden crowd roared at levels that made it sound like the building was about to take off.
‘We thought it we got some stops, got a couple baskets we’d be back in the game,” Terry said. “The crowd they never died down, they were still with us. That’s what the definition of a true Celtic is. Never say never, never say die. Im proud to wear this uniform. We fought through a lot of adversity this season, but we never made excuses. We always came to work, we played with what we had’¦sometimes you know other teams just better than you, and they were better than us today.’
“That’s not for me to decide,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m right, make sure my body’s healthy through this summer and we’ll see what happens.’
|Fast Break: Knicks survive furious Celtics comeback||05.03.13 at 10:03 pm ET|
A montage of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the first half with the tagline “heart of a champion” left the Garden crowd in awe. Then, a Knicks barrage left those same fans in shock. Finally, the Celtics showed that heart, rattling off a 20-point run midway through the fourth quarter and making a game of it, but it proved too little, too late.
Garnett came to play, and Pierce finally showed up in the fourth quarter, but an 88-80 loss in Game 6 ended their season, opening up a Pandora’s Box of questions nobody in the Celtics organization wants to answer. That’s another story for a different day. Here’s what went wrong in their final game of the season.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Worst first: The Celtics were lucky to get out of the first quarter only trailing by 14 points. They shot 25 percent from the field. Garnett made his first three shots, and his teammates finished 1-of-13 in the opening quarter. Pierce went 1-for-8. While the Celtics settled for jump shots, the Knicks scored from everywhere. Seven minutes into the game, New York had as many points off turnovers as the C’s had total points. No other word to describe it but ugly.
3 falling: The Celtics missed their first nine 3-pointers, including five bricks from Pierce, and the Knicks’ defense held the Celtics to 14 points through the game’s first 18 minutes. Meanwhile, Pablo Prigioni made three of his first four attempts from beyond the arc, scoring as many points in the first quarter as he had in any game in the series.
Everything: The Celtics looked gassed. Through three quarters, they had 15 field goals and 17 turnovers. C’s not named KG made 8-of-37 shots entering the fourth quarter. It seemed as though they left everything they had on the Madison Square Garden floor in Game 5, when Garnett, Pierce, Jason Terry, Jeff Green and Brandon Bass combined for 201 minutes. Then, the fourth quarter happened, and the Celtics scored more points than they did in all of the first half. It was ridiculous and unsustainable all at the same time.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Green light: Nobody on the Celtics could get within 10 feet of the basket, so Jeff Green gave it a shot. And another. And another. He started just 1-of-6 but led the C’s with nine points at the break — thanks to 6-of-8 shooting from the free throw line. If anybody else could’ve beat his man off the dribble, the Celtics wouldn’t have been in such dire straits at halftime. But Pierce settled for contested jumpers when he should’ve been deferring to Green, who finished with 21 points on 12 shots. Pierce scored 14 on 18 attempts.
The runs: Any sign of life was a positive. That’s how bad the C’s offense was. Back-to-back Green and Terry 3’s with four minutes left until halftime capped an 8-0 run that left the Garden wondering, “Wait, they’re only down 10?” With four minutes remaining in the third quarter, a Terry triple punctuated a 9-2 run that did the same. And, of course, the miraculous 20-0 run in 4:05 that slashed a 75-49 game to a six-point deficit, breathing life back into the building in the fourth quarter.
Melo J.R.: The only thing that kept the Celtics from completely getting their doors blown off was another poor shooting performance by both Carmelo Anthony (7-23 FG) and J.R. Smith (5-13 FG). If only Raymond Felton (11 points, 7 assists) — who killed the Celtics all series — forgot to show up, too, the Celtics might have had a shot.