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Fun With Numbers 10.20.09 at 9:43 am ET
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There are a couple of very different sets of numbers that caught my eye this morning.

First, is the postseason data from 82games.com, which shows that Rajon Rondo was the Celtics best player in the playoffs last season, and by a fairly wide margin. There are a couple of other observations we can make from the data. Among them:

1. The Celtics really missed Kevin Garnett. Compare the 2008-09 playoff numbers with the 2007-08 numbers and not only will Garnett’s Roland Rating (a simple explanation is here) jump right off the page, but so will the effect he had on his teammates …

2. Particularly Paul Pierce. The Captain shot much worse in 2008-09 then in 2007-08 and had a significantly lower percentage of assists leading to his shots, which speaks to ball movement, which is one of Garnett’s most underrated offensive contributions. There were a number of theories for Pierce’s sub-par postseason, but a simple reason may have been that he just had to do too much and work too hard to get his shot off without KG.

3. The bench was really bad, especially Stephon Marbury. There was also no depth. Of the players who did play, Eddie House was the biggest contributor among the reserves (no surprise), but that was about it.

Moving on, the fine fellows at basketball-reference.com have put up a huge amount of preseason data (hat tip to Henry Abbott at True Hoop), and from that we can see that the Celtics most efficient offensive player has been Mike Sweetney (!)

We can also see that Garnett and Rasheed Wallace have been killing it defensively. Of possibly greater importance, the Celtics have also played the best team defense in the NBA, which is nice. You can waste hours of your life playing with this stuff, but as Abbott and everyone else pointed out, there’s only a week left until the games start to really count, which is the best number of all.

Read More: Geekery, Kevin Garnett, Numbers, Paul Pierce
Celtics to Host Annual Shamrock Gala 10.19.09 at 3:28 pm ET
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On Friday, October 23 the Celtics will host their annual Shamrock Gala to benefit the Shamrock Foundation. The event, which will be held at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel from 6:00pm-9:30pm, will include a discussion with the team hosted by WEEI’€™s Glenn Ordway. Those scheduled to attend include:

This year’€™s auction items will include a trip for two (including airfare, dinner, and accommodations) to be on the set of ‘€œEntourage’€ in Los Angeles, courtesy of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation. All proceeds will benefit the Celtics Shamrock Foundation, which currently partners with Perkins School for the Blind, Boston Children’€™s, Horizons for Homeless Children, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC), and Berklee College of Music.

Tables for the Gala can be purchased by contacting Rebekah Splaine at 617-854-8090.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen
‘Rare’ lineup for Celtics on Sunday 10.17.09 at 4:25 pm ET
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WALTHAM – Celtics coach Doc Rivers said following Saturday’s practice that he intends to use a ‘rare’ lineup on Sunday in Toronto against the Raptors in the team’s sixth preseason game.

Rivers will start Paul Pierce, along with Ray Allen and Marquis Daniels, with Daniels the most-likely choice to start at the point. Daniels, who has played big guard as well as small forward, has been getting time in practice as the point behind Rajon Rondo.

“We’re just going to do that [Sunday] to see what the other team does defensively,” Rivers said Saturday.

Daniels, along with Eddie House and rookie Lester Hudson figure to get a long look as Rivers considers back-up options behind Rondo off the bench.

Read More: Celtics, Marquis Daniels, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo
Anatomy of a Rumor 10.16.09 at 10:58 am ET
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On Tuesday, Comcast aired a conversation between Paul Pierce and Greg Dickerson, who asked Pierce about his contract situation. For those who don’t know, the captain has a $21.5 million option sitting on the table for the 2010-11 season. Ordinarily, this would be a no-brainer. As a general rule NBA players (or anyone else, for that matter) don’t leave $21 million sitting on the table.

But the Celtics will have some interesting financial decisions to make after this season. Ray Allen’s contract will be up, and we’ll know by the end of the month if they have extended Rajon Rondo or whether he’ll be a restricted free agent. Add to that Wyc Grousbeck’s cryptic comment last summer that there was a scenario where the Celtics could be a player in the fabled free agency class of 2010, and suddenly the Pierce option is no longer such a no-brainer. (Worth noting that Grousbeck said that before the Celtics signed Rasheed Wallace to a three-year deal).

Before we get to all that, let’s go to the videotape.

Pierce said two things of note during the conversation.

“I definitely want to retire as a Celtic. As far as my option goes, I haven’t really given it any thought.”

And:

“I want to do what’s best for the team. If that means doing whatever to keep guys here and make this team strong for the next three or four years, I’m willing to do it.”

That’s pretty consistent with what Pierce has said at other times during camp. But CSN’s Gary Tanguay wrote on his Twitter page: “Pierce told CSN he will re-work his contract to keep players in Boston,” which then made the rumors page on Hoops Hype, which brought it to the attention of True Hoop, which had an item by ESPN’s Marc Stein outlining the scenarios by which “doing whatever” became Pierce opting out and/or signing an extension, which could spread out the cash and free up some cap space, which got play on Celtics Blog and Celtics Hub Thursday night, to name two.

First things first. The Celtics already have about $33 million-plus committed to Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis and Wallace for 2010-11. Add to that a “cap hold” of $6.3 million for Rondo if he doesn’t sign an extension, and we’re already looking at about $40 million for five players before Pierce even does anything, let alone before the team makes a decision on Allen. The salary cap for this season is set at $57.7 million and there has already been talk that will trend down in 2010-11. (Celtics Blog has a good look at the down and dirty).

In other words, hold off on those LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh dreams.

Second, this sets up an unrealistic set of expectations for Pierce, who has already shown on the court that he is willing to “do whatever” to help the Celtics win games. That should be more than enough before anyone asks him to leave a pile of dough on the table.

The Celtics are positioned to win this season, if everyone stays healthy. There are way too many factors at play to go much beyond that.

Read More: Celtics, Contract, Option, Paul Pierce
Rondo and Reserves Propel Celtics over Nets 10.13.09 at 10:57 pm ET
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On Tuesday night, the Celtics overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat the Nets, 91-88, in Newark, N.J., during preseason action (recap here). With Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen getting the night off, the Cs were propelled by Rajon Rondo and the reserves.

  • Rondo led the Cs with 18 points, 13 assists, and nine rebounds in 40 minutes. This is in contrast to Sunday’s game against the Nets when he posted eight points, three assists and two rebounds in 26 minutes.
  • Rasheed Wallace (20 points, 9 rebounds, 25 minutes) was the Celtics‘ driving force in the first half. However, he rolled his right ankle in the third quarter and eventually left the game. Doc Rivers told the media he considers the injury to be mild.
  • Eddie House demonstrated his tenacious intensity by fighting for loose balls, forcing jump balls and hitting clutch shots, including a go-ahead jumper with 34 seconds left. He finished the night with 14 points.
  • Glen Davis continued to knock down his mid-range jumper en route to 18 points. The Celtics were a game-high plus-12 with Davis on the court.
  • J.R. Giddens, whose talent only had been showcased in the D-League, played his best NBA game. He grabbed 13 rebounds and scored seven points.
  • Marquis Daniels started the game but left after 15 minutes with a stomach bug.

The Celtics will travel to Hartford to take on the Raptors on Wednesday night.

Read More: Boston Celtics, eddie house, Glen Davis, J.R. Giddens
Pierce Turning 32 Going on 20 10.12.09 at 11:08 pm ET
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Paul Pierce was 20 years old when he was drafted by the Celtics in 1998. Eleven years later, he still doesn’t feel a day out of college.

‘€œI still feel in my early 20s,’€ he told WEEI.com after a recent practice. ‘€œI feel like I’m back in Kansas.’€

Pierce turns 32 on Tuesday, and a new lifestyle has him energized as he enters his 12th NBA season. Last month he was one of several Celtics who showed up to media day with a noticeably slimmer frame. While Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis admitted to dropping up to 15 and 30 pounds respectively, Pierce (who is listed at 235 pounds) isn’t paying attention to the scale.

‘€œI maybe lost two pounds, I don’t know,’€ he said. As for losing body fat, ‘€œProbably so, I haven’t measured it, but most likely I have.’€

Pierce isn’t counting the pounds because it’s how his body feels, not what the scale reads, that matters more to him. And even though he feels young, he understands the reality of being a professional athlete in his 30s. Pierce made a commitment to improve his overall health and kick the habits that could eventually catch up to him.

‘€œI just think it’s more important because the body is aging, it’s getting older,’€ he said. ‘€œYou’re not as quick as you used to be and your body has to adjust with the times. I mean, what I used to do when I was younger are some of the things I can’t do now. I’m stressing more rest, I didn’t sleep as much when I was younger, so a lot of things change. It’s easier to gain weight the older you get so that’s why I decided to change a lot of my habits.’€

The change in his physique has more to do with the changes he endorses through his healthy living initiatives rather than a regimented weight loss program.

‘€œI think it has more to do with my eating habits,’€ he said. ‘€œEver since I changed everything I’m doing as far as my foundation with The Truth on Health and FitClub34, I’ve got to practice what I preach. I’ve pretty much benefited from the things I’m doing of that nature.’€

He added: ‘€œI’ve just changed up my eating habits as far as eating a lot of fish, chicken, vegetables, not as much red meat ‘€” almost no red meat ‘€” no sodas, not a lot of juice. I drink a lot of water and Gatorade and Powerade.’€

Ray Allen, a stickler for healthy living, already has noticed the changes in Pierce. Allen was 32 when he was traded to the Celtics in 2008, a time when he says he began to get in his best shape by eating better and getting more sleep. He understands firsthand the importance of Pierce taking care of his body at this pivotal stage in his career.

‘€œJust yesterday in the weight room I told him he was starting to look skinny,’€ Allen said. ‘€œYou know, Paul has always had like a heavy look, a heavy body. Now you see in his legs he’s slimming down, his upper body is slimming down. I think it’s the natural evolution when you get into your 30s and your metabolism starts to slow down and you start thinking about eating better, getting more sleep, and then your body starts to show it. And then as for us, this schedule is so demanding you really have no choice, your body will tell you you need more rest.’€

Pierce has learned to listen to his body, and because of this he can celebrate his 32nd birthday feeling like he’s in his 20s.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins, Paul Pierce
Garnett: The wings are coming at 5:17 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The dunk happened sometime today between 1 and 2:30 p.m. when the Celtics had their practice closed off to the media, but it did happen.

Doc Rivers worked the Celtics hard Monday, one day after a preseason game with the Nets, and one day before a back-to-back set with New Jersey and then Toronto in Hartford. During the session, Kevin Garnett went up for a lob and brought it home.

“Kevin was great,” Rivers said. “I don’€™t think he came out today. He’€™s getting stronger and stronger. The only thing left, today, he caught a lob and dunked it. It was an amazing dunk and everyone was like, ‘Whoa, we haven’€™t seen that.’ He’€™s not as explosive yet, but it will come. You can see it. When he did it he yelled out, ‘Oh I can do it.’ That was good to see.”

KG’s reaction?

“I think Doc wants me to grow wings and fly,” Garnett said. “I tell him just to be patient. The wings are coming.”

The wings, and everything else, are coming into focus for the Celtics as they reach roughly the midway point of training camp. The starting five is back and healthy and the reserves have shown enough in the preseason games that the bench seems far more settled than it has in the past.

Still, there remains work to be done incorporating the new players ‘€” Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels particularly ‘€” into the offensive and defensive systems as well as learning the little things about each other that only come with time and reps.

“Even though everyone has a high IQ when it comes to basketball, we still have chemistry [things to work on],” Garnett said. “Where ‘Sheed likes to have the ball, where Marquis likes isolation and everybody understanding everybody’€™s game. It’€™s not a big thing, but it’€™s something that you have to give a certain amount of attention to. The new guys have to learn our schemes and understand terminology.”

There’s no question the Celtics are feeling good about where they are with the season-opener at Cleveland looming in a little more than two weeks. A big part of that is fact that the players came into camp in basketball shape.

“Every guy on our team has come to camp in better shape than they were last year,” Rivers said. “Eddie [House] came to camp in phenomenal shape. Kevin, conditioning-wise, is probably not where he was last year because he spent half the summer not being able to work out. But everyone else: Paul [Pierce] is in great shape, [Glen Davis] is in great shape. A lot of that is that we lost and no one likes that feeling. You want to do something about it.”

NOTES: Part of the reason that Rivers worked the team so extensively Monday is that he plans to rest the veterans in at least one of the next two games. Look for the coach to use that time to begin working on some rotation patterns. Rivers said that he is set on the first four off the bench ‘€” House, Daniels, Wallace and Davis ‘€” and then the rest will sort itself out depending on matchups.

Pierce turns 32 Tuesday (look for a story by colleague Jess Camerato that day) and while the captain was not in a mood to reminisce, Garnett offered his thoughts on his teammate. “Paul makes things easier,” Garnett said. “I’€™m not going to lie about that. He not only makes things easier, but simpler. Offensively, things get simplified, plus a lot of things he and I don’€™t need to talk. We have a bond and a chemistry that’€™s unspoken.”

Pierce on rookie Lester Hudson, who is three months older than six-year veteran Kendrick Perkins: “He’€™s a 25-year-old rookie. How many of those do you have? He plays mature. He came in and he understands the game a little better than your average 19- or 20-year-old rookie. That’€™s good.”

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce,
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