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Doc Rivers: ‘We played with great force’ in win over Thunder 11.23.12 at 11:42 pm ET
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Doc Rivers watched his team register its most significant win of the season Friday night, overcoming an early nine-point deficit and withstanding a late charge to beat the defending Western Conference champion Thunder, 108-100, at TD Garden.

‘€œThe biggest difference is this time they scores 100 and we scored 108,” Rivers said, referencing the 112-100 loss to the Spurs on Wednesday at the Garden. “It’€™s the same game really. I told the guys at halftime and even after the game, that was the Celtics. That’€™s the team that we’€™ve been looking for, but can we continue to do it. We’€™ve got to do it over and over again. I thought there were some mistakes made, we kept playing. There were some runs, we kept playing. They made a run, we kept playing. No hanging heads, yelling at each other. We played through all clutter, it was like a clutter free game, for us. That’€™s who we have to be.”

Jeff Green scored 17 points off the bench in 25 minutes and the Celtics fought off Kevin Durant and the Thunder, when a 14-point lead dwindled to three with two minutes left.

“I thought Jeff Green was spectacular tonight,” Rivers said. “It’€™s funny, I think the two plays that I called for him. He didn’€™t score. He scored on all the plays that wasn’€™t his and that’€™s what we kept telling him he has to do. Stop waiting for us to call it, go get it, and I thought he did that tonight. A lot of good efforts. I thought our bench was huge. I thought [Leandro] Barbosa, it’€™s funny he didn’€™t score a point, and I thought his defensive pressure was extremely effective tonight. He has that reputation of being an offensive player. What we have found since getting him, he’€™s a heck of a defensive player. He has the ability to put pressure on the ball. That’€™s something we didn’€™t know. So again, we’€™re still discovering guys on our team, but that was a good effort.

‘€œWe just need to play right. It’€™s great to beat Oklahoma, they were in the finals last year, and they’€™re the team to beat, I guess, in the West. But it was more how we played. We played with great force tonight. I thought that was the difference.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder
Kendrick Perkins on Paul Pierce: ‘He’s got a lot of tricks’ at 11:32 pm ET
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Kendrick Perkins played seven-plus seasons with Paul Pierce so he knows just how good he can be, especially in the clutch.

Perkins was witness to Pierce’s greatness again on Friday night as the Celtics captain went 4-of-6 from long range and finished with 27 points in Boston’s 108-100 win over the Thunder at TD Garden.

‘€œHe’€™s got a lot of tricks,” Perkins said. “That’€™s the reason he’€™s been scoring the ball like he has for years. Got a lot of tricks man. He did a great job tonight of just playing smart. He’€™s moving well and it looks like he’€™s in great shape, he’€™s doing his job’€

Perkins was held to five points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes for the Thunder in his return to Boston.

‘€œYeah, it does (feel strange) but at the same time we’€™re both out there trying to get wins and it’€™s over with now,” Perkins said. “You can’€™t change the past’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder
Doc Rivers on Kendrick Perkins: ‘You can’t put a number on identity or perception’ at 8:22 pm ET
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When asked initially about Kendrick Perkins before Friday’s game, Doc Rivers said he wasn’t focused on the big man’s return to Boston.

“He’s tough,” Rivers said. “He’s good. He’s a good defender. I’m looking at their whole team. I haven’t thought about the one guy more than the sentimental stuff.”

Then Rivers articulated exactly what it is that the 7-foot center brings to any team he’s on. Call it the “scowl” factor.

“Perk has never had big stats,” Rivers said. “That’s not why you have Perk on your team. You can’t put a number on identity or perception. There is a number but I don’t know what it is but Perk gives the team that.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, NBA
Matt Bonner’s day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich saga 11.22.12 at 12:57 pm ET
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In case you you haven’t read his “Sandwich Hunter: The Quest for the Hoagie Grail” blog on NBA.com, the Spurs’ Matt Bonner is the league’s sandwich connoisseur. (Although, I have to disagree with the New Hampshire native’s selection of D’Angelo’s as New England’s sandwich haven. Total rookie movie from an NBA veteran.)

Considering the day-after-Thanksgiving hoagie is the greatest in history, we couldn’t let him escape Boston without first getting Bonner’s recipe for that sandwich Squanto and Myles Standish probably invented in the 1620s.

“Typically, you’ve got the turkey out of the fridge with some stuffing and gravy and cranberry sauce,” said the pride of Concord, N.H., “and you’ve got yourself an amazing leftover sandwich.”

Unfortunately, San Antonio’s 112-100 win over the Celtics on Thanksgiving eve was the start of a long road trip, so after relaxing with family after the game, he joins the Spurs in Indiana for a Friday night game against the Pacers. And that means Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are the only heroes the Red Rocket will be seeing.

“I’m out of luck,” said Bonner, “because it’s the first game of a six-game East Coast 10-day road trip. So, we’re having a team Thanksgiving dinner, which means no leftovers, so no sandwiches.”

Hey, professional basketball players can’t have it all, so be thankful when you’re devouring that leftover turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce (and my brother’s secret day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich addition: mashed potatoes) — all on toasted bread, of course. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Matt Bonner, NBA, San Antonio Spurs
What Doc Rivers sees is a lot more than just the stat sheet at 8:13 am ET
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Doc Rivers can read a stat sheet just like everyone else. What it means to him is something entirely different.

The stat sheet says Paul Pierce had zero rebounds in 36 minutes. The stat sheet reads Kevin Garnett hauling in just three rebounds in 31 minutes. Brandon Bass led starters with six and Jared Sullinger led all Celtics with seven. They were outrebounded by San Antonio 41-25 in a 112-100 loss Wednesday night at TD Garden.

‘€œI think it’€™ll be easy to say ‘€˜the bigs, the bigs.’€™ It wasn’€™t the bigs,” Rivers said. “It was, but it wasn’€™t as well. We thought we started out the game terrific in the way were playing and then we went on that little turnover-fest and got them kind of activated ‘€“ Tony Parker and their game. I thought we were late on a lot of our rotations and allowed them to just move the ball; very few deflections, which is a big number for us. And then down the stretch (Tiago Splitter) just played terrific.

“He made some big shots them, hell they even went to him a couple times. You know, offensively you score 100 points, 53%, you’€™re pretty happy. But we just let a team shoot 58% against us. We let a team shoot 50% from the three against us. And it’€™s tough to win a game, you shouldn’€™t win a game, if that happens.’€

Do the Celtics need to play harder?

‘€œI think we’€™ve got to do our coverages better, just bottom line,” Rivers said. “Harder and all that, that sounds great. That’€™s what everyone says when you lose; ‘€˜you’€™ve got to play harder.’€™ Well, we’€™ve got to play smarter, we have to know our coverages better, and when that happens everybody is on the same page and it allows our rotations to be freer, it allows our bigs to get back to the paint. So I thought it was a lot of that.’€

Ah, the paint. That’s where the Celtics were outscored 58-34, being dominated at one point, 48-18. But still, that’s not specifically why the Celtics lost. Yes, it’s part of the reason but Rivers points out that when you don’t defend the man delivering the ball into the paint very well, you have no shot. Still, with under three minutes left, the Celtics drew to within six and the Garden was on its feet hoping against hope.

‘€œYeah, we were right there because nobody could stop anybody on either team,” Rivers said. “Again, we shot 53% so the reason we were there is because our offense allowed us to stay there. But to me, that was fools’€™ gold, because the way we were playing defense you’€™re not going to get a stop, you’€™re not going to win a game. And I think we cut it several times and either we had a turnover and they went and scored or late-clock possessions; I think they got them all. They got all the loose balls, all the late-clock scores, and that hurt us.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, NBA, San Antonio Spurs
Celtics undergoing a defensive identity crisis at 1:14 am ET
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When Brandon Bass tipped home a Paul Pierce jumper with 1:28 left in their 112-100 loss to the Spurs, the Celtics avoided joining San Antonio as the only other team in the last 25 years not to grab an offensive rebound. Instead, they grabbed one — an NBA statistic that’s occurred just 16 times in the past quarter-century.

Of course, three of those 16 occurrences now belong to the Celtics. Only the other two games produced an entirely different result: a 103-79 blowout of the 76ers this past April and a 122-103 defeat of the Pacers during the 2008 championship season. The C’s shot better than 50 percent on both occasions, just as they did in Wednesday night’s loss to the Spurs, so there weren’t exactly a lot of offensive rebounds to be grabbed.

In other words, the Celtics should hope they only have one offensive rebound every night.

“You’re a big believer in offensive rebounds I think; I’m not,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “You can pick on that all you want. That is a number I rarely look at. Statistically, it holds up. I can tell you: You don’t offensive rebound, you stop transition, you win more games than when you get offensive rebounds. I can guarantee you that.”

Sounds great in theory, except for the fact that MySynergySports.com ranks the C’s rank dead last statistically in transition defense, which is a entirely different problem. And a much bigger one.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA, Paul Pierce
Rajon Rondo: ‘We’re not taking away anything’ on defense 11.21.12 at 11:34 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo can see what everyone else sees, including his head coach. The Celtics are not doing a good job defending in half-court. That has been a trademark of the Celtics success of the last five years.

But again on Wednesday night, it failed them as the Spurs not only won the game, 112-100, but they outscored the Celtics, 58-34, in the paint, thanks in large part to San Antonio’s passing and Boston’s inability to stop it.

“I don’t know,” Rondo said. “Can’t pinpoint one thing. Their players got into the paint. They did a good job of having their bigs passing [the ball]. They did a good job of everything. We didn’t take away anything we wanted to tonight.

“We’re making the same mistakes in our defense, night in and night out so I think we just have to do a better job of focusing in shootaround in the mornings when we’re given the assignments because each team varies. We’re making a lot of easy mistakes that allow teams to get to 112 points.”

It wasn’t quite “Dead men walking” as Doc Rivers put it after the loss by 20 in Detroit on Sunday night. But still, it’s alarming to these Celtics that they can’t defend for some reason in half-court.

“Basketball, you’re going to make mistakes in this game,” Rondo added. “The other team gets paid as well and they’re going to make you make mistakes but we pride ourselves on defense and we’re just not getting it done.

“We’re not taking away anything. We gave up the corner three tonight. We gave up the paint, touches and paint finishes. We gave up too many ‘And-1s’ again. I think we probably lead the league in ‘And-1s.’ So, we have to do a better job, not to hurt anyone but not let guys finish at the rim. We’re not finishing at all. It’s a collective team effort. It starts with me. I have to do a better job on pick-and-roll coverage and get back and help my bigs rebound.”

Talk about going from the frying pan into the fire, the Celtics welcome Kevin Durant and the Thunder Friday night to TD Garden. The 10:30 shootaround should be much more intense than normal.

“We have to try and bounce back and the best thing about the league is you don’t have to wait a week to play another game,” Rondo said. “So, after Thanksgiving we’ll try to get back and get focused for Oklahoma City.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Durant, NBA, Rajon Rondo
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