|Mickael Pietrus makes his Celtics debut and maintains: ‘I’m here to win a championship’||01.12.12 at 12:38 pm ET|
Mickael Pietrus said on Monday he thought he might be able to play five or 10 minutes in his Celtics debut Wednesday against the Mavericks. He added he would play as much as the team needed him.
Turned out the Celtics, trying desperately to find a spark off the bench, needed him much more than even Doc Rivers might have imagined. Rivers put him in for the still-struggling Paul Pierce with 1:25 left in the first quarter and immediately noticed a boost.
“He was phenomenal,” Rivers said. “I thought we was one of our best players in the game. He clearly gave our team energy. Played hard. Turned the ball. He’s exactly what we need. And it’s just going to get better. Even if it didn’t, I’d take it. Really, he was terrific. He really was. His energy, his joy – he brought joy to the game. You know, you can just see it. He was so happy to play, and really the only reason he came out was because he was dying. He was getting tired and I had to take him out.”
Rivers took him out 6:04 left in the fourth after 18 hard minutes. Pietrus was 2-of-5 from the field, with one rebound, four fouls and five points. But it was the intangible of energy that meant the most to Rivers. Pietrus, who hit his first shot – a 3-pointer – just over a minute into the second quarter, felt immediately that his style will fit in with these Celtics.
“We have a lot of energy, a lot of focus,” Pietrus said. “You know offensively we still have to step up with a lot of new guys, including myself, and it will take time, but we are going to get it done.
“Anytime I step on the floor I’m trying to give the team my heart. The Celtics are my heart now. And that’s why I thought people on the Celtics are going to play harder. I tell you everything that’s what I’m going to bring every night and I’m not going to lie to you, I’m here to win a championship.”
|What can Mickael Pietrus really give the Celtics?||01.10.12 at 8:51 am ET|
WALTHAM — It’s a calculated gamble but one Celtics team President Danny Ainge knew he had to take.
When the Celtics got the news that Jeff Green would need season-ending surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm – surgery that was successfully performed on Monday at the Cleveland Clinic – Ainge was down a key man on his bench.
The Phoenix Suns provided the opportunity when they waived Mickael Pietrus on Dec. 22. Two days later, Ainge signed him to a one-year deal worth $1.3 million.
The veteran forward – who turns 30 on Feb. 7 – guaranteed that he’ll make his Boston debut this Wednesday when the Celtics host the defending champion Mavericks at TD Garden. Pietrus, who has averaged 8.1 points and 3.1 rebounds a game in his eight NBA seasons, missed the first two weeks with the team after rehabbing from arthroscopic right knee surgery.
What can he give the Celtics?
“Obviously, I haven’t played for eight months so I’m going to be Mickael Pietrus from the first game,” Pietrus said. “But, defensively, you can always help your team do the littlest of things to make them be a great team. So if I can get in the game Wednesday, even five minutes or 10 minutes, whatever, I’m willing to help my team.”
Pietrus is one of the most genuinely enthusiastic and likable players in the NBA. Combine that will his defensive skills, and he can bring a lot of intangibles to the Green.
“That’s why I was excited,” Pietrus said with a wide smile. “That’s why I wanted to be a Celtic because I think – on the floor – me and KG and all the guys can bring the toughness that Boston had when we played them. They were so tough. It was hard for us to get a shot so I’m trying to get the same mindset. Get in the game, play hard and make sure we work hard, and at the end of the day, make sure we get the ‘W’.
“It was a good two weeks. I got to see downtown Boston a little bit, read the newspaper so obviously, there’s no snow yet so good thing – summertime in Boston. I’ve been watching my teammates and watching a lot of film so on Wednesday, I’ll be ready… Wednesday is going to be a great day for me!”
Pietrus tested his knee in practice last Thursday then worked with the second unit on Sunday before going full bore on Monday, not coming out to rest at all.
“Today I went through my first practice,” said Pietrus. “It feels good to be a Celtic. I had fun so hopefully, I’ll be back on the court Wednesday.”
Asked how close he was to 100 percent after knee surgery, Pietrus pointed to the watch of a reporter.
“You have a watch? Probably 48 hours,” Pietrus said. “I think I’ll be able to help my team. I went through practice with no pain. I told you guys I’d be ready to go in two weeks and two weeks came. I’m very happy I could go through practice with my teammates and get stuff done.”
Pietrus, who battled against the Celtics in the playoffs in 2009 and 2010 with the Orlando Magic, said he’s happy to be wearing the green.
“It feels good,” he said. “Look around, there’s 17 banners so I’m in a great spot. I just want to work hard and be available for my team on Wednesday.”
|NBA Offseason Review: Southeast Division||12.22.11 at 5:23 pm ET|
Given the drama (and comedy) that was the NBA lockout, the ensuing free agency frenzy and the vetoed trade by a commissioner of a group of owners who was acting as the general manager of an individual team that is owned by that same group of owners, it’s easy to get confused about who landed where. This is the fourth of six daily division-by-division reviews leading up to opening day.
2010-11 record: 58-24
2010-11 standing: Won Southeast Division; lost NBA Finals to Mavericks, 4-2
NBA draft picks: 28. Norris Cole
Key additions: Shane Battier (free agent); Eddy Curry (free agent)
Key substractions: Mike Bibby (free agent); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (retired)
2011-12 starters: PG Mario Chalmers; SG Dwyane Wade; SF LeBron James; PF Chris Bosh; C Joel Anthony
2011-12 wins over/under (sportsbook.com): 49.5
2011-12 prediction: 51-15
2010-11 record: 23-59
2010-11 standing: 5th in Southeast Division
NBA draft picks: 6. Jan Vesely; 18. Chris Singleton; 34. Shelvin Mack
Key additions: Ronny Turiaf (trade)
Key substractions:Josh Howard (free agent); Yi Jianlian (FA)
2011-12 starters: PG John Wall; SG Nick Young; SF Rashard Lewis; PF Andray Blatche; C JaVale McGee
2011-12 wins over/under (sportsbook.com): 19.5
2011-12 prediction: 21-45
|Doc Rivers: Rajon Rondo, Big Baby and other things that made the Celtics super on Sunday||02.07.11 at 1:47 pm ET|
For many reasons, the first 12 minutes and 59 seconds didn’t start out very well for the Celtics on Sunday.
There was Orlando jumping out to a 12-2 lead as Dwight Howard dominated. There was Glen Davis leaving a mark in the parquet with the back of his head, suffering a bruised skull. But as he returned to the bench to start the second quarter, that paled in comparison to the bruise to the spinal cord of Marquis Daniels as he ran into the chest of Gilbert Arenas and fell suddenly to the floor.
Things were just completely out of whack. But then it was Rajon Rondo‘s time to take over the game. And did he ever. Immediately after kneeling to check on the well-being of Daniels, Rondo came out of the delay and drove to the basket for a lay-up exactly 20 seconds later that energized the crowd and – more importantly – his teammates. He was on his way to a season-high 26 points.
So, what was the difference in his point guard Sunday?
“Well, after – you mean after the first six minutes of horrendous basketball from our team?” Rivers replied rhetorically. It just looked like the first six minutes, we were there to play basketball but I thought they were really invested into the game. And you know, why that changed I don’t know, but it was good. We went to an open set which we rarely do. I just didn’t see us with any – we didn’t have anything going.
“And Jameer [Nelson] picked up that one foul and we just decided to go basically open spread. And we told Rondo to get to the rim, and, you know, use his instincts. He’ll find open guys.”
The Celtics went with a spread offense that allowed more lanes for Rondo to drive to the basket and create off the dribble.
“Well it really depends on the game,” Rivers said. “I want him to be aggressive every game. We’re not going to run spread every game because it doesn’t make a lot of sense every night. We’d like to match up with him, especially Jameer wanted to stay on the floor because of his fouls, but that is how we want him to take the ball to the basket.
“Whenever he does go, we want him to go with power and speed and be willing to get fouled. And I thought over everything that was it. Obviously he made great shots and all that. I just liked the fact that he had no problem if he got fouled.”
Then there were the 21 missed 3-pointers by the Magic, who missed 61-of-93 shots. After the Celtics allowed the Mavericks to beat them on 8-of-17 shooting from long range, Rivers realized early his team was committed to not allowing that again.
Rivers asked for prayers for Davis and Semih Erden, who drew the assignment of guarding Dwight Howard when Kendrick Perkins was forced to the bench to rest. Those prayers were essentially answered in the form of a 91-80 win. Yes, Howard ate up Big Baby, Perkins and Erden for 22 points in the first half. But he had just six points in the second half as the Celtics put on the defense clamps, led by Davis’ ball denial in the post.
“Phenomenal,” Rivers said of the effort. “Great defense. I think any time you lose a game where you think you broke your principals and defensively you were not right, then the next time you play if you’re a defensive team, you’re probably going to have a good defensive effort. And I thought we did that. I said this with Baby and Perk, it was a test for them.
“It was tough because we were going to leave them on an island and Dwight had it going early. And we just kept telling them, ‘We’re doing the right thing. Just keep doing it.’ And that was tough for them, and the fact that they stayed with it and stayed on it was good.”
|Irish Coffee: The Kevin Garnett controversy timeline||at 1:19 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
The first time I can remember controversy around Kevin Garnett was in 2004, when as a member of the Timberwolves he said he was going to break out grenades, missile launchers and M16′s to take down the Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Also in Minnesota, Garnett had confrontations against such immortal NBA legends as Mark Pope, Anthony Peeler, Rick Rickert, Francisco Elson and Tyrone Nesby. Those issues haven’t subsided in Boston, where his latest dust-up came Friday against the Mavericks — and nearly again Sunday when Hedo Turkoglu knocked Garnett to the ground.
As a result, I figured it was time we sorted these incidents out in a timeline of his indiscretions:
- April 28, 2008: In Game 4 of a first-round series, Hawks center Zaza Pachulia headbutted Garnett after a hard foul. In Game 7, Garnett exacted revenge, executing a backcourt pick.
- Nov. 7, 2008: After throwing a blow at Bucks center Andrew Bogut‘s face, Garnett was suspended for one game.
- Nov. 10, 2008: Defending Jose Calderon, Garnett wagged his finger at the Raptors point guard Dikembe Mutombo-style.
- Dec. 5, 2008: Getting on all fours and barking like a dog in the backcourt, Garnett taunted Portland rookie guard Jerryd Bayless. Oh, and he made Glen Davis cry.
- Oct. 11, 2009: In a preseason game against the Nets, Garnett shoved then New Jersey forward Yi Jianlian‘s arms aside and bumped bodies with him during a dead ball.
- April 17, 2010: In an attempt to clear Quentin Richardson away from Paul Pierce, Garnett elbowed the Heat forward and was subsequently suspended for Game 2 of a first-round playoff series.
- Nov. 2, 2010: Following a Celtics win over the Pistons, Detroit forward Charlie Villanueva Tweeted that Garnett called him “a cancer patient.” Garnett fired back, claiming he said, “You are cancerous to your team and our league.”
- Nov. 10, 2010: A handful of days after a Celtics win over the Bulls, Chicago center Joakim Noah told a local radio station, “[Garnett]‘s a very mean guy. Where’s the love? None at all. Ugly, too.” After the Richardson incident, Noah had already called Garnett “a dirty player.”
- Jan. 28, 2011: In a Celtics loss to the Suns, Garnett issued a low blow on Phoenix forward Channing Frye‘s groin during a 3-point attempt. Garnett was ejected. And Suns coach Alvin Gentry later said, “I lost a little respect for him.” Garnett refused to apologize.
- Feb. 4, 2011: Following a fast-break foul by Mavericks guard J.J. Barea, Garnett grabbed the referee’s arm during the dust-up and got hit with a technical.
|Celtics show they are a band of ‘brothers,’ like in 2008||02.06.11 at 11:58 pm ET|
These Celtics have already shown they’re talented enough to return to the NBA finals for a third time in four seasons this spring. On Sunday, they showed they have the heart to get there, too.
When Marquis Daniels went down early in the second quarter, it was like a vacuum sucked up every bit of noise and energy in the Garden. Players, coaches and fans all stood silent as Daniels was being tended to on the court as he lay motionless.
“Honestly I didn’t really know what was up,” Celtics captain Paul Pierce said. “Obviously when you see guy lay down there for a sense of time you get worried and you pray and hope that he’s alright. When we came back to the locker room at half time I asked how he was doing and they said he was moving and doing pretty good. I guess he has some type of condition in his neck or spine that I don’t know about. Hopefully, you know, he can take some time off, hopefully if he can get back on the court but most importantly we’re more worried about his health.”
Daniels will be out for at least a month as doctors perform tests on his bruised spinal cord, a condition that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and team doctor Brian McKeon said afterward was preexisting before Daniels became a Celtic.
As for the current day Celtics, they turned a 24-17 deficit at the time of Daniels’ injury into a 91-80 demolition of the Magic.
“I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that after Marquis went hurt that we kinda rallied together,” Pierce said. “I guess it seemed that way but I’m just glad that usually when you see a guy get injured that teams use that as an excuse and have a letdown and you know kind of go through the motions for the rest of the game worried about the guy that went down because your worried about him.”
Just like on Nov. 24, when the Celtics watched helplessly as Delonte West went down with an ugly fracture of his right wrist. The Celtics were down 40-36 after West’s lay-up with 2:48 left in the second quarter. Ironically, that night it was none other than Daniels who came into replace West.
The Celtics would win that game 89-83. On Sunday, it was Ray Allen‘s turn to take the place of a fallen teammate, as he came in with 11:01 left in the second quarter.
“I was trying to process what just happened, and when I saw the way he hit the ground it was I just started thinking about any time I watched a football game, and I saw a guy on the ground, how their body just kind of didn’t respond to anything,” Allen said. “It looked like he got hit in the wrong spot where whatever happened to his body he just couldn’t move. And when I saw his face, it was the scariest feeling because it was almost like he couldn’t do anything. It’s the risk we always run, but for that moment it just seemed like “let me go to the hospital and let me do what I need to do to see that he’s all right”, cause basketball is the last thing on my mind.”
But once the game re-started, the Celtics were all business.
“it seemed like the complete opposite and I think we kind of fed off of it and it was kind of like let’s do this for Quis kinda, Pierce added. ” I mean that’s what I saw you know it just seemed like our energy went up because I was on the bench at the time and I was watching and it just seemed like that’s what started the run so we’re happy that he’s okay and unfortunately he probably gave us the spark. Thanks Quis, hope you’re doing good buddy.”
“Well this is a very close knit team. I mean, this is one of the closer teams, it kind of reminds me of the team in 08. It’s like when Marquis goes down it’s like your brother, when Delonte goes down it’s like your brother,” Pierce said. “If you ever have a family member and something ever happens to them you don’t feel right. And we’re around each other so much; plane, bus, we even go to each other’s houses so it’s like we created this bond with one another and when something bad happens to him we all feel for him but the rest of us try and rally together and that’s what you kind of saw in those two injuries.”
Of course, everyone remembers how 2008 ended. As long as Daniels is healthy, the Celtics wouldn’t mind history repeating itself.
When Marquis Daniels stumbled to the floor Sunday afternoon – just 59 seconds into the second quarter – it was an all-too-familiar sight for Doc Rivers. He immediately flashed back to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the same Magic team when Daniels fell awkwardly to the ground. It seemed like the exact same injury.
After Sunday’s game, the Celtics announced that – for all intents and purposes – it was.
The team announced that Daniels, who quickly regained full movement in all extremities, has a preexisting condition in his spinal cord that makes him vulnerable to the spinal cord “bruise” he suffered as he hit the ground Sunday.
“And this one looked worse,” Rivers said in a somber tone after the 91-80 win over the Magic at TD Garden. “I don’t actually know how our players kind of got back their senses that quickly, because they all knew it, too.
The Celtics trailed 24-17 at the time but gathered themselves to outscore the Magic, 74-56, the rest of the way.
“I knew it immediately,” Rivers added. “It was no doubt. Right when he went down, I was already out on the floor. Gilbert [Arenas] or someone was standing near him and I just told him, ‘Don’t touch him,’ because, you could see it was not good.”
The good news was that Daniels had full function of his motor skills following a scary injury in the second quarter of Sunday’s game at TD Garden, according to Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, who left to visit him at New England Baptist Hospital.
“Marquis is doing well,” Ainge said. “I was just with him at New England Baptist Hospital. He’s moving, he’s fine. His arms and legs are fine.”
Ainge was flanked by team doctor Brian McKeon, who announced that Daniels will be out “indefinitely” and that guard has a pre-existing condition that contributed to Sunday’s freak injury, sustained one minute into the second quarter. Daniels fell awkwardly to the court after driving to the right on Gilbert Arenas and remained motionless for over four minutes before being wheeled out on a stretcher.
“He basically bruised his spinal cord,” McKeon said. “He’ll be out indefinitely. We’re getting all the tests at the Baptist and we’ll have more information [Monday]. We’ll get CT scans, MRIs and serial examinations.”
McKeon confirmed that Sunday’s injury was directly related to the same injury sustained in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals last spring, when the team announced at first that Daniels had a concussion.
“It’s not a concussion,” McKeon announced. “This is the same type of neck injury that he had so it’s just a little bit worse. He’s got some spine issues in the past that have been addressed by other teams and so we’ll just have to see how it plays out in the next few days.”
“I think he was scared when he was out on the court because he couldn’t really move there for a short period of time so that scared him,” Ainge said. “But he’s had some issues with this before and some tingling in his body and his arms and things before so I think he wasn’t scared, he was fine. He had it last year against Orlando in Game 5 and I’m not sure before that. He’s had a couple of episodes throughout his career.”
On Sunday, it was apparent that – when and if Daniels returns this season – he’ll be dealing with a lot more than just getting back in game shape.