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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
NBA Power Rankings, 2012-13 10.29.12 at 7:19 pm ET
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It’s almost Halloween, another NBA season is upon us and the league’s landscape changed once again, but the Celtics are title contenders and so too are their most heated rivals. Let’s get right to the 2012-13 debut of our semi-regular NBA power rankings. Here’s the wrinkle: What’s the scariest aspect about each team this year?

1. MiamiLeBron James set the Celtics, Thunder and entire world on fire during his run to a first NBA championship and second gold medal, proving doubters wrong in every corner of the globe (including this cubicle). And he and the Heat only seemed to figure it out midway through the Eastern Conference finals, which means they could be even better, especially with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis in tow.

2. L.A. Lakers: A starting five of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard is terrifying, but so is their bench. The Lakers won’t get 82 games from any of those starters, so how close each comes to that number will determine if they can unseat the Thunder beyond arbitrary power rankings.

3. Oklahoma City: After reaching the NBA finals last season, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook got their first taste of what it will take to earn the Larry O’Brien trophy, so they’ll be hungrier than ever. They’ll just have to set the table for Kevin Martin coming off the bench instead of returning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden.

4. Boston: If the Celtics can reach Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on grit and balls alone, imagine what they can do with a rotation deeper than six. Once Avery Bradley returns, coach Doc Rivers can go 12 deep and weather most injury storms, which have been downright Hurricane Sandy-esque in recent years.

5. San Antonio: Before losing four straight to OKC in the Western Conference finals, the Spurs won 20 straight and 31-of-33. That’s the value of a deep roster. But I’m still buying more stock in Kevin Garnett, Paul PierceRajon Rondo & Co. than Tim Duncan, Manu GinobiliTony Parker Inc.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, NBA
Thunder C Kendrick Perkins says he wasn’t criticizing his coach after Game 4 loss 06.20.12 at 10:13 pm ET
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After playing just 18 minutes in a 104-98 loss to the Heat Tuesday night, Thunder center Kendrick Perkins spent part of Wednesday attempting to clarify some postgame comments in which he appeared to be questioning coach Scott Brooks‘€™ decision-making.

Perkins was on the floor for much of the first quarter as the Thunder opened up a 17-point lead over the Heat but played only nine minutes in the final three quarters while Miami rallied back and overtook the Thunder to grab a 3-1 series lead.

Immediately following Tuesday’s game, Perkins told reporters: “I just don’t understand why we start out the first quarter the way we did, with the lineup that we had and all of a sudden we change and adjust to what they had going on. So [the Heat] won the last three quarters, and that’s what happened.”

After a second question regarding the Thunder’s lineup switch, he said: ‘€œIf it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Wednesday, when Perkins was asked whether his postgame comments were directed at Brooks, Perkins attempted to clarify.

“No, that wasn’t what I was saying,” Perkins said. “I was just trying to make it clear that, at the time, we had a good adjustment at what we were doing. But at the end of day, when you’re in the flow of the game or the heat of battle a couple box-outs here, a couple loose balls there, we end up winning the game.”

Perkins continued, “At the end of the day, coach is just trying to coach to win the game. Whoever we have on the court, we have the belief we can get the job done.

“So at the end of the day, it wasn’t anything directed at coach Brooks or nothing to that nature. I’ll roll with coach Brooks all day.”

Read More: Kendrick Perkins, Miami Heat, NBA Finals, Oklahoma City Thunder
Michael Wilbon on D&C: ‘Superstar treatment was surely in effect’ for LeBron James 06.18.12 at 12:24 pm ET
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ESPN’€™s Michael Wilbon joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to talk about Game 3 of the NBA finals, the officiating, whether the Thunder would be better off with Rajon Rondo or Russell Westbrook, and more. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Asked whether LeBron James was getting superstar treatment after playing such aggressive defense and being called for zero fouls Sunday night, Wilbon said, ‘€œI’€™d have to go back and look at the game and just pay attention to what LeBron did. It could’€™ve been a bad night for the way LeBron was called, and also, we know that LeBron is physically superior. He can control his body in ways that even the other great players cannot in terms of avoiding contact and that sort of thing. And also, superstar treatment was surely in effect.’€

As for whether Kevin Durant ought to be afforded the same treatment, Wilbon said Durant would, in time.

‘€œPeople have to earn it,’€ Wilbon said. ‘€œAnd earning it in the NBA means, in the culture of this league for 60 years, so longer than any of these officials have been around, is seniority. And you get it when you’€™ve been a great player over time. And Durant had a couple of fouls called on him last night that in my opinion should not have been called.’€

While he felt it was too early to say definitely, Wilbon said the Thunder look like a team that will win championships, just not this year.

‘€œEvery great player, except Magic Johnson, in the last, I don’€™t know, 35 years, has been crushed, usually in the finals, but certainly conference finals, multiple times even,’€ Wilbon said, pointing to Hall of Fame players such as Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwan and David Robinson. “They were crushed before they broke through. I don’€™t feel like Oklahoma City has gone through that right of passage yet. We know Miami has been through that. LeBron James personally has been through that, twice, already. And I feel like Miami has this sense that, ‘€˜Oh no, no, no, we’€™re not going to have that happen again.’€™ It’s awful to go through that for an entire offseason and I don’€™t know that Oklahoma City is playing with that ‘€˜hate to lose’€™ sort of mentality.’€

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Read More: Dennis & Callahan, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Miami Heat
Irish Coffee: An All-NBA case for Rajon Rondo 04.17.12 at 2:16 pm ET
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By now, you know Rajon Rondo‘s streak of 22 straight games with at least 10 assists trails John Stockton‘s record of 29 by seven. With only five games left, that record will stand at least until the 2012-13 NBA season begins.

But just how good has Rondo been during this streak, and this entire season for that matter?

In his last 22 games, Rondo has averaged 10.1 points, 13.8 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals, leading the Celtics to a 15-7 record. He has totaled 223 points and 303 assists — 57 of which led to 3-pointers — putting his hand in 886 of the C’s 2,050 points (43.2%) in that span.

To put that in perspective, NBA MVP favorite LeBron James has averaged 26.1 points and 5.5 assists in his last 22 games, leading the Heat to a 14-8 record. He has totaled 574 points and 121 assists (25 on 3P) in that span, generating 841 of Miami’s 2,081 points (40.4%).

And those numbers aren’t too far off Rondo’s season averages of 12.1 points, 11.6 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals. Out of all the players in NBA backcourts, Rondo may fall outside the top 50 in scoring, but he ranks first among guards in assists, fourth in rebounds (behind two guards Paul George, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade) and fourth in steals (behind only Chris Paul, Mike Conley and Ricky Rubio).

All of which begs the question: Should Rondo make First Team All-NBA?

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant
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