|Celtics vs. Lakers: Just Another Game?||02.18.10 at 12:18 am ET|
To Rajon Rondo, a trip to the Staples Center in the middle of February feels the same as a stop at any other arena.
He sees a basketball court, not the banners hanging above it. And regardless of the rivalry against the home team, he is simply focused on leaving with a win.
“It’s not like a championship game,” he explained. “It’s not a series. It’s one game. It helps our record or hurts our record, one way or the other. It’s another game.”
On Thursday, the Celtics will take on the Lakers in their final match up of the regular season. The last time the teams met on Jan. 31, the C’s blew an 11-point fourth quarter lead and watched Kobe Bryant sink a game-winner with 7.3 seconds left.
In spite of the desire to avenge their loss, Rondo’s right. This isn’t a championship game. In fact, at this point in the season it is more about the Celtics vs. themselves rather than the Celtics vs. the Lakers.
The C’s have been their own worst enemy lately, surrendering leads and making mistakes down the stretch. This game against Los Angeles, the second stop on a four-game West Coast road trip, will be a test for them to get back to Celtics basketball after a recent departure.
“It’s important,“ Paul Pierce said of the entire road trip. “We want to go out there and start playing better, start playing more consistent basketball. We know it’s a tough trip, and maybe this is a chance for us to get out on the road and get ourselves back together because we really struggled over the last month-and-a-half.”
The loss to the Lakers capped off a three-game losing streak and a month of January in which the Celtics went 6-8. They entered the All-Star Break on a two-game skid, still struggling to put together 48 minutes of basketball.
A win over the Lakers would give them momentum to jumpstart the second half of the season. They narrowly edged the 18-win Kings on Tuesday night and will face the playoff contending Trail Blazers, Nuggets, and Cavaliers over the course of the next week.
“Next is down to business,” said Kevin Garnett. “Obviously trying to play better, consistent basketball for the Celtics and being productive. So that’s what’s next for us.”
|Doc on Pierce for Weds: ‘Wait and see’||02.08.10 at 3:39 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Celtics captain Paul Pierce was pulled out of practice early on Monday after coach Doc Rivers felt his star didn’t look smooth on his strained left foot.
“Paul didn’t do a lot today,” Rivers said. “We actually pulled him out early. He was practicing and wasn’t moving very well so just took him out. He’s questionable. I think he’s going to play but right now we’ll wait and see.”
Marquis Daniels, meanwhile, looked good in practice after his first game back on Sunday following left thumb surgery. The team was forced to move up their departure to Tuesday morning in order to get into New Orleans ahead of the parade Tuesday afternoon for the Super Bowl winners.
|KG video: ‘It’s unpleasant’||02.07.10 at 7:10 pm ET|
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett reacted to Sunday’s 96-89 loss to the Orlando Magic.
“It’s unpleasant,” Garnett said. “We don’t like that at all. Our goal is to establish home court and try to add that as an advantage and we really haven’t done that consistently, at least against good teams.”
|Van Gundy won’t ‘bury’ Pierce, KG in All-Star Game||at 4:14 pm ET|
The temptation is there for Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy. As coach of the East in the NBA All-Star Game on Valentine’s Day, he knows he’ll have three Celtics at his beck and call. He would love to play them a lot, put a few more miles on their tires.
But with the two teams squaring off Sunday at the Garden, a week before the big game at Cowboys Stadium, he doesn’t see much point in wearing out Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo so Celtics coach Doc Rivers doesn’t have to worry too much.
“He’s got a better chance of me resting his guys because we don’t play him again. So, if we played him the week after the All-Star Game, they’d all go about 42 minutes,” Van Gundy joked before Sunday’s game. “But with us not playing them again, I can’t get much out of burying them.”
But seriously, Van Gundy has the challenge every coach in every sport has in an in-season All-Star Game. How do you manage players on competing teams in an exhibition game that means nothing in the standings?
“I would plan to get together with all of them, but particularly I know Paul and Kevin have had injury concerns and see where they are.”
[Click here to hear Van Gundy dish on the Celtics and the All-Star Game.]
So, in doing his homework, Van Gundy is consulting the Celtics — specifically assistant coach Mike Longabardi.
“I just told Michael Longbardi to make sure if Doc has concerns that he lets me know, too, ahead of time,” Van Gundy said.
“I’m not looking to hurt anybody, and at the same time, obviously, Kevin was voted into the game by the fans and Paul’s a perennial All-Star, so fans are going to want to see those guys, so you can’t play them five or six minutes. Particularly Kevin as a starter, he’s got to put in some minutes, but we’ll see where they are and where Doc is.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Pierce, Daniels make Magical returns||at 2:00 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers confirmed before Sunday’s game that Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels will play against the Magic. Pierce missed the last two games with a left mid-foot strain while Daniels has been out since having surgery on a torn ligament in his left thumb.
“I didn’t think he looked great [Saturday] so we’ll just see,” Rivers said. “A lot of times, it’s just him testing it out instead of playing on it so it can fool you.”
Rivers said he did something he rarely does. He asked Pierce how he feels the day of the game.
“I went to him today, which I rarely do and went back to him, ‘Are you sure?’ And he said, ‘The pain’s on the top of the foot. It’s not anything under the foot. I can push off fine I just hope I don’t get kicked in it or stepped on.
“I said, ‘I’m sure that’s going to happen now.’ That’s all he’s concerned with.”
[Click here to hear Rivers talk about Pierce's return before the game.]
Pierce didn’t speak before the game about his return but Daniels did.
“I’m pretty excited,” Daniels said. “I’m ready to get out there and get active.”
His only concern is not having the thumb tested by getting it whacked in practice first before game action. To soften the expected blow, he will wear a bandage with a cushion on his left thumb.
“I still didn’t get it hit,” Daniels added. “I’m quite sure that somebody’s going to hit it today.”
|Pierce expects to play against Magic||02.06.10 at 4:35 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Paul Pierce (left foot sprain) practiced on Saturday and expects to play on Sunday against the Magic. Doc Rivers said it will be a game day decision based on the fact that Pierce looked hesitant on live plays, but Pierce says he is ready to go. He categorized his recovery as “not quite one-hundred percent but it’s good enough for me to play.”
“I think it’s my decision,” he said. “[Doc] asked me if I could play tomorrow and I told him yeah. I got out there and did some of the drills we had going on today.”
As for Wednesday’s contest against the Hornets and All-Star Weekend (Pierce is slated to participate in the Three-Point Shootout and All-Star Game), he will determine how much he can play after Sunday’s game. Considering he has been able to walk around on his foot and has not required any extra tape or a boot, he hopes he won’t have to miss anything and still be ready for the upcoming West Coast road trip.
For him, it’s a matter of healing. But he won’t push himself either.
“If things don’t work out, then they’re not going to work out,” he said.
|Doc on Pierce: Still ‘Day-to-day’||02.05.10 at 7:45 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Paul Pierce continued his cardio workout on Friday but is still unsure whether the team’s captain will be able to return on Sunday for the showdown with the Orlando Magic at TD Garden.
“It’s day-to-day,” Rivers said of Pierce’s left mid-foot strain. “That’s about it, really. He’s moving around, shooting around a little bit. I don’t know yet.”
Marquis Daniels, meanwhile, will practice again on Saturday but Rivers said there’s still no guarantee he’ll be ready to play against Orlando. Rivers’ main concern is not the thumb but rather the ability of Daniels to run the team’s offensive sets that have been installed since he last played on Dec. 4.
“I’m not so sure about him on Sunday.” Rivers, whether Daniels will be prepared to return. “We’ll have to throw him in eventually.”
For Daniels, it’s his 28th straight game missed following ligament surgery on his left thumb.
[Click here to listen to Doc Rivers compare the 2010 Nets to the 24-win 2007 Celtics.]
Other pregame notes included Rivers’ thoughts on being the third-longest tenured coach with one team in the NBA behind Jerry Sloan [Utah] and Gregg Popovich [San Antonio].
“Really, I didn’t know that,” Rivers said. “That’s unbelievable. You Boston guys [media], I thought you were tough. That’s surprising. They’re some guys out there that clearly should be doing this a lot longer than me. You know how this league is – it’s a talent-based league. If you have enough of it and do your job with it, then you stay.
The pregame discussion ended with his thoughts on Sunday’s big game between Indianapolis and New Orleans.
“Super Bowl predictions?,” Rivers said, repeating the question asked of him. “The Saints, what the [heck]. No reason for that. Maybe the reason is I’ve heard about Colts. I wondered if [the Colts] were playing anybody so I’m going with the other team.”
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