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Paul Pierce ‘game-time decision’ while Kevin Garnett misses shootaround 04.03.13 at 2:11 pm ET
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Paul Pierce is a game-time decision for the Celtics against Detroit. (AP)

Paul Pierce is a game-time decision for the Celtics against Detroit. (AP)

It could be another night without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

Pierce, who missed just his second game of the season on Monday night due to personal reasons, is officially listed by the team as a “game-time decision” for tonight’s game against the Pistons. Pierce was spotted with an ice wrap on his right foot in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game in New York but the team said at the time it was simply maintenance and not a serious injury.

Garnett, who has missed the last six games with inflammation in his left foot, was not at Wednesday morning’s shootaround. Boston is just 2-4 in those six games.

Without the two stars, the Celtics (38-36) fell to the Timberwolves on Monday night in Minnesota. As a group, Celtics starters have struggled badly in their last two games. In a loss to the Knicks Sunday night, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradey and Chris Wilcox each scored two points. On Monday, Bradley led the way with 19 points but as a unit, the starters scored just 46 points in the 110-100 loss to the Wolves.

Tonight, the Celtics host the Detroit Pistons (25-50) at the Garden (7:30 p.m. tipoff). Despite their woeful record, the Pistons have beaten the Celtics in both previous meetings, scoring 103 points each time while shooting 50 percent from the field in each game. Detroit beat the Celtics 103-88 on Jan. 20 and 103-83 on Nov. 18.

Pierce leads Boston this season, scoring 18.8 points per game and has been the top assist man since Rajon Rondo went down on Jan. 25.

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Doc Rivers on Rajon Rondo: ‘They say he’s doing tremendous’ 03.29.13 at 11:39 pm ET
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The Celtics got an added boost on their bench for Friday’s showdown with the Hawks.

Rajon Rondo made his first appearance on the sidelines with the team since having season-ending ACL surgery on his right knee.

“It was nice. It was nice,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He told us today he was coming in, and it was good to have him back around. He’s moving okay. You know, it’s funny, I’m looking at it knowing he’s nowhere near, but that’s the first thing you look at. Having gone through that experience, we sat and talked about a lot of the stuff you have to go through. So, it brought back these horrendous memories, actually. But he’s, from his doctors, they say he’s doing tremendous.”

Rivers was asked to describe Rondo’s spirits while on the sidelines.

“Oh, I don’t know, I have no idea,” Rivers said. “I mean, I don’t care who you are, especially if you’re on a team sport I think these types of injuries are very lonely. Very hard, because rehab is all by yourself with some stranger. And you’re away from your team. Just brutal rehab. That’s what it is. He’s been in – wherever, Jacksonville, wherever, Florida, Pensacola – and that’s tough. His family has been going back and forth. But he’s made the commitment and he’s been great.”

Asked if Rondo tried to exert himself in the huddle, Rivers laughed, “No, no, no. I told him to be nice. And he was.”

The players were the most affected – and inspired – by Rondo’s presence.

“Definitely,” Paul Pierce said. “It’s good to get him around the guys, to see some of his new teammates. Who knows – a lot of these guys might be here for him next year. It’s good for him to get acquainted with them. He’s done his surgery, he seems to be in good spirits, so its good to see him.”

“It was fun. It was good to see him. He’s got a little fro now,” Jeff Green laughed. “It was good to Rondo, glad he’s doing well. Wish he were on the court but I think it was a big emotional boost for us to have him on the bench with us.”

How big of a boost was it to the players?

“It’s big,” Green said. “I think a lot of people counted us out when he went down, when Sully [Jared Sullinger] went down, too. But we’ve been coming together, doing our part, playing hard. We’ve been talking and he’s been seeing things from a different point of view.

“Definitely, most definitely,” Green added. “He sees us playing hard and that’s all you can do.”

Since Rondo had his ACL repaired on February 12, the Celtics have added several new players, including Shav Randolph, DJ Williams, Jordan Crawford (at the trade deadline) and Terrence Williams.

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Doc Rivers: Paul Pierce is ‘going to play for a long time if he wants to’ 03.17.13 at 10:07 am ET
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There was no Kevin Garnett on the floor Saturday night due to a left adductor (groin) strain. Rajon Rondo is gone for the season, and has been gone for seven weeks now.

So with captain Paul Pierce again left to be the man to keep things together, that’s exactly what he did in a fashion so routine, it was a thing of beauty to his coach.

Pierce was as efficient as ever, scoring 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting in just 23 minutes, adding eight assists and six rebounds in a 115-88 win over the Charlotte Bobcats at TD Garden.

“He’s always been underrated,” Doc Rivers said. “I think he’s been underrated his whole career. I underrated him. When I coached in Orlando every time he scored I mean, I was so upset because I thought this slow, non-athletic guy, you look at him, you think. ‘How the hell was he scoring on you?’ And then when you coach him you realize he’s not slow, he plays at a slow pace. He’s athletic as heck, he’s stronger than most small forwards in the league, and he just surprises you with his fundamentals. You know he’s so fundamentally sound he actually looks un-athletic. And it’s a heck of a compliment to a player.

“He just plays to what he feels. He’s a professional scorer, he really is. He just knows how to play basketball. I think every young kid should watch him play because he can do it above the rim but he chooses not to. He’s just so fundamentally sound with his footwork, it’s just really nice to watch.

“I think he’s going to be able to play for a long time if he wants to. He can get his shot off. He plays at a great pace.”

Pierce led all five starters in double figures, as the Celtics proved picking up the slack for Garnett was truly a team effort. He pointed to a play Pierce ran several times in the first half that had different teammates involved.

“Yeah, we ran a play that just kind of matured into that,” Rivers said. “First time he came off I think he got Brandon (Bass), the second time he got the picker, then he just – the same play just kept building and building. I love – we call it ‘feed the pig’.”

For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Josh Smith: Celtics trade ‘was a possibility’ 03.09.13 at 1:27 am ET
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Josh Smith was in Boston, so naturally it was time to ask Josh Smith about the latest Josh Smith to the Celtics trade rumors. It’s like an annual rite of passage for the Hawks forward whose contract expires at season’s end.

Leading up to the Feb. 21 trade deadline, this season’s rumors had either Celtics captain Paul Pierce or a package of Jeff Green and Brandon Bass headed to Atlanta in exchange for Smith’s services. Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday that the C’s, Hawks and Mavericks nearly pulled the trigger on a three-team deal that would have brought Smith to Boston for Pierce and a first-round pick.

Of course, Smith also almost landed on the Nets and Bucks, among other places.

“It was a possibility of me going a lot of places,” Smith said after his near triple-double (32 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds) in Boston, “but I’m here and I’m focusing on what’s at stake right now. I’m trying to get a little higher playoff position, so I am not worried about anything else but winning games for this organization and this team.”

Generally, the logic goes something like this: Smith and Rajon Rondo were amazingly entertaining high school teammates, and they’re still best friends, so the C’s are a natural fit for a guy the Hawks probably won’t re-sign.

“That’s my friend, so we talk almost every day,” Smith said of the injured Celtics point guard. “We don’t talk about surgery. We just talk about friendship stuff, off-the-court stuff. That’s the least of both of our concerns. It’s a far-fetched injury, so right now we’re just focusing on staying positive.”

(Aside: Somehow I doubt his ACL tear is the least of Rondo’s concerns, and I can assure you it’s not far-fetched.)

Perhaps they discuss the C’s surprising 14-4 record sans Rondo, including Friday’s overtime win over his Hawks?

“They’re a successful basketball team, and they know how to win,” said Smith. “They have a lot of professionals on that team. They have some players that have won championship rings on their team, so I’m not surprised.”

What about those pesky trade rumors? Surely, Smith and Rondo discuss those in their daily phone conversations.

“We don’t talk about that,” finished Smith. “We don’t talk about that.”

OK, then. Nothing to see here. Move along. Until the next time Smith rolls into Boston, I’m sure.

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Kevin Garnett: Avery Bradley ‘is everything to our defense’ 03.05.13 at 10:17 am ET
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Avery Bradley has been a force defensively this season for the Celtics. (AP)

Avery Bradley has been a force defensively this season for the Celtics. (AP)

WALTHAM — If there’s one player on the Celtics to trust when it comes to talking leadership and intensity on defense it’s Kevin Garnett. And when he says Avery Bradley is the most important player in the team’s complex defensive scheme, you can’t help but listen up.

“He is everything to our defense,” Garnett said of Bradley on Monday before practice. “I think he’s the anchor. He’s the true inspiration of what it is. He gets up on the ball, 95, 90 percent of the time. Look at any other guard in the league; no one in the league is playing defense like he is. He’s just tenacious. He’s the silent leader and it’s by example.”

How big has Bradley been?

Last Friday, going up against Stephen Curry, the Celtics trusted him to go man-to-man and disrupt one of the most explosive players in the league. When he picked up his fifth foul with eight minutes left in the third quarter, the Celtics had to switch to a zone. With Bradley back since early January, the Celtics have gone from 25th in the league in defense to ninth, allowing just 95.9 points per game. They have allowed 100 points just six times since. Three of those six went overtime, including the triple-overtime game against Denver on Feb. 10 and another game he missed altogether.

Our Ben Rohrbach made the case for Bradley landing on the NBA All-Defensive team, which at this point seems like a no-brainer.

Reminded that Bradley has occasionally calmed coach Doc Rivers down this season, Garnett said that it’s been Rivers who has been the steadying force in Bradley development this season, especially as a court leader with Rajon Rondo out injured.

“I think it’s the other way around, although he isn’t really loud, he’s very vibrant,” Garnett said. “I don’t think he’s 100 percent, which is scary. I think he’s still working through some things with his past injuries but he’s playing hard and he’s giving us everything he has when he’s on the floor.”

Rivers isn’t asking Bradley to be vocal on the floor, since his play is speaking volumes.

“I think his play speaks for it,” Rivers said. “He has to call plays out and stuff like that. I think he’s verbal, defensively, in what we do. But that’s not anything I’m looking for right now from him. I just want him to keep playing, and playing hard. He plays so hard, he probably can’t speak half the time because he’s exhausted. I just like what he’s doing.”

Rivers said Bradley has been impressive this season after having a pair of shoulder surgeries in the offseason.

“I think he’s 100 percent, leg-wise,” Rivers said. “He’s been 100 percent. I guess if there’s any good thing about having a shoulder [injury], you can still use your legs, conditioning-wise. You can do all the running. As far as his shoulders, I can’t answer that. I don’t know. I would say he would not be 100 percent until next year with that.

With any surgery, especially when you have two, [takes time]. One of the officials in the last game walked up to me and asked, ‘Avery have both shoulders done?’ I said, yeah. He said, ‘Man, I had one done, I was out six months and I still feel bad.’ And I said, ‘That’s why you’re an official.’ I did get three bad calls after that.”

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Wyc Grousbeck on M&M: ‘We need some help’ 02.26.13 at 2:08 pm ET
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Wyc Grousbeck

Wyc Grousbeck

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck stopped in for a visit with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to discuss how close Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were to being traded last week, the prospect of being a better team without Rajon Rondo, and more Celtics topics.

Pierce and Garnett were the subjects of many trade rumors leading up to last week’s trade deadline.

“For the last two or three days before the deadline, their names came up more than anybody else,” Grousbeck said. “They were the topic of conversations of calls coming into us because people thought maybe we weren’t going to keep it together this spring.

“The assumption going into any February, as long as I’m around, is going to be: Make the team better for this year. Don’t blow it up in the middle of February if you’re in a playoff position.”

The Celtics are 30-27 and hold the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They are 2½ games behind the Bulls for the sixth seed, and 2½ games ahead of the eighth-seeded Bucks.

“If we were 5-50 or whatever, we’d be pretty likely to do almost anything to make that better,” Grousbeck said. “But I like the way this team has been playing. We need some help, though. We need some more guys. … The icing on the cake was losing [Leandro] Barbosa. [He] was really playing well, lot of energy, defensive intensity, some length, some offense.”

After this season, Pierce will have one more year left on his contract with the Celtics. Grousbeck talked about the likelihood of the captain retiring in a Celtics uniform.

“We’re going to retire his number, whatever happens,” Grousbeck said. “Paul is an all-time great. Just watching him last night, he looked like he was 25 again. … People can’t say ‘Big deal, they’re playing for two hours. What’s the big hardship?’ It’s a grind and that was a grind last night in overtime and everything else. They could have folded up the tent and they didn’t.”

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Irish Coffee: The 41 best parts of the most revealing Rajon Rondo interview to date 02.25.13 at 10:45 am ET
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How will Rajon Rondo adapt upon returning to the Celtics next season? This interview may reveal the answer. (AP)

How will Rajon Rondo adapt upon returning to the Celtics next season? This interview may reveal the answer. (AP)

Rajon Rondo doesn’t usually trust the media, which makes the fact he told Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins a reason for that — his father left home in his formative years — all the more fascinating. This Jenkins piece is the definitive Rondo feature, even if most of the reporting took place prior to the Celtics point guard’s season-ending ACL injury. It offers insights we rarely ever see into the enigmatic NBA All-Star. Here are 41 great ones.

  • Rondo loves Shirley Temples. So do his Celtics teammates. “Waitresses are like, ‘What?’ I feel like I have to add a splash of Patron, and I don’t even really drink.”
  • Rondo loves Connect Four. Honing his skills on the front porch of his mom’s College Court home in Louisville, Ky., he plays at charitable events, if only to avoid the awkwardness. Three days before this past Christmas, after handing out bikes, Razor scooters and iPod Touches, he lost for the first time in roughly a thousand charity games. “I can’t believe it. But did you notice I played the guy five more times and won them all? I had to show him, ‘You beat me, but I’lll beat the [expletive] out of you.” His opponent was a 12-year-old named Olisa. Talk about awkward.
  • Rondo doesn’t like game-time decisions. “They just want an excuse if they don’t play well.”
  • Rondo doesn’t like playing grab-ass. “I’m not trying to make friends. We can talk in the summer.”
  • Kevin Garnett: “With Rajon, there ain’t no [expletive]ing around.”
  • Rondo admits, ”A lot of times I’ll be shooting and think, Maybe I should pass.”

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