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Paul Pierce: ‘Our goal is to keep our home court clean’ 11.02.12 at 11:29 am ET
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WALTHAM — In the labor-shortened 2011-12 NBA season, the Celtics were 24-9 at home on the parquet. They were 8-2 at the Garden in the playoffs.

But the sour taste from the last game they played before the home crowd remains. With a chance to eliminate the Heat on their home court, they came up flat, losing, 98-79, to LeBron James and company.

Everyone in attendance remembers the fans at the end of the game chanting “Let’s Go Celtics” and the players haven’t forgotten either, as they take the same court for the first time in a meaningful game since then tonight when they host the Bucks in the home opener.

“We’re excited,” Paul Pierce said. “We’re excited to be at home, especially after taking a loss in the first game so hopefully, we can come back home and establish ourselves. That’s going to be the emphasis this year – establish ourselves at home. No team should be able to come in here and get any wins. Our goal is to keep our home court clean so it can be an intimidating factor when they come to the Garden.”

“We had a tough year last year,” Rajon Rondo said. “Other than that, I think years in the past the Garden has been a tough place to play in.”

The team that will be trying to spoil the Celtics home opening party tonight is the Milwaukee Bucks, led by the dynamic duo backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. The Bucks will be playing their regular season opener tonight.

“I know they’ve got two explosive guards in the backcourt and I think a lot of things start with them,” Pierce said. “I’m very familiar with Ilyasova [Ersan Ilyasova] and that’s pretty much that core. They have good role players in Dunleavy [Mike Dunleavy] and more than capable guys like Drew Gooden so they pose a threat for us. They gave us trouble last year from what I remember so they have a good, talented team. This is their first game so they’ll be hungry to get out to a good start.”

“They’re a scrappy team,” Rondo added. “They play with a lot of intensity on defense. Jennings and Monta is their backcourt. That’s their firepower. Courtney [Courtney Lee] and I will have our hands full but it will be a team effort to win the game.”

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Paul Pierce: Celtics ‘defense has got to come a lot faster’ at 10:08 am ET
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WALTHAM — Paul Pierce, as captain of the Celtics, has a way of sending a clear message to his team.

That was evident during the TNT telecast of Tuesday night’s season-opening loss in Miami.

He was wearing a microphone and barking out calls on the floor and words of encouragement to Rajon Rondo when things weren’t always going well.

On Thursday, before the Celtics home opener tonight against the Bucks, he was barking out something else.

“The defense has got to come a lot faster, and that’s something that’s come a lot faster in the past than the offense,” Pierce said of Boston’s 120 points allowed in a 120-107 loss to the Heat. “I’m pretty surprised we scored 107 points, to tell you the truth. Usually, the defense, we pick it up pretty fast. We understand our schemes, our rotations. But I just think we have to understand the type of atmosphere it was going to be. Some of the guys have never been in that atmosphere before, first game, playing against the defending champs on the road. We have to pick up our intensity, understand the moment, understand where we’re at and understand the type of game it’s going to be and raise our game.”

Doc Rivers thought his coaching staff had too much time to prepare and filled their players’ minds with too much information.

“I think our on-ball defense was average because our help defense was worse,” Rivers said. “If everybody is up guarding their own man and there’s no help and guys see gaps [in the defense], they’re taking it. What really upset us, every key guy got every shot he wanted, where they wanted the whole, and that’s a bad defensive night.

“It was team wide. It was spread. Like I told them, from the coaching standpoint, I thought we had way too much time to prepare for it and we put way too much stuff in their head. I thought they were thinking more than playing on instinct. I told our coaches we share in that. We had them doing a couple of different things and that’s not who we are defensively.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Who’s a dirtier player: Rajon Rondo or Dwyane Wade? 11.01.12 at 4:27 pm ET
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If it’s possible, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade are fanning the flames of the Celtics-Heat rivalry even higher.

After Rondo wrapped his left arm around Wade’s collar in the waning seconds of a game already in Miami’s hand on Tuesday night, the Heat guard called his Boston counterpoint out for what he interpreted as “a punk play.”

“I got my kids watching so I stopped myself but it was a punk play by him,” said Wade. “He clotheslined me.”

He added: “I’m here to play basketball. If you want to do something else, then go do something else. Boxing, this is not it. I was glad I was able to stop myself in that very moment and move on from it. We’ll see next time we play.”

After C’s practice on Thursday, Rondo responded, recalling a certain play in Game 3 of the 2011 Eastern Conference semifinals, when Wade pulled him to the floor and dislocated his elbow.

“I don’t think it was a hard foul,” said Rondo, referring to Tuesday’s flagrant-1 on Wade. “He sold it a little bit, and that’s basketball. They were up, he drove to the hole and I didn’t want to give up a layup. Simple as that. I didn’t yank him down or dirty plays that you’ve seen him play in the past, so that’s what it is.”

Wade didn’t get whistled for a flagrant on Rondo two seasons ago, but that’s a different argument about superstar calls and whether the Celtics point guard fits that bill among NBA officials. As for which play was dirtier, it’s simple: Wade walked to the free throw line unharmed; Rondo walked off the floor clutching his arm in excruciating pain.

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Box and 1: Inside Celtics, Heat and ‘punk plays’ 10.31.12 at 4:32 pm ET
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Heat 120, Celtics 107: Observations about the box score from Game 1 of the C’s (0-1) 2012-13 NBA season.

– On seven shots, Ray Allen scored 19 points (2-3 3P, 7-8 FT) against his former team. Not good. Not good at all. Allen delivered his first dagger — a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner — 1:03 into his 30:35 on the floor thanks to a missed defensive assignment by Jason Terry. So much for Terry’s “Ray Allen who?” routine.

Doc Rivers (via ESPN.com): “You can live with LeBron [James] and [Dwyane] Wade making jump shots, but the first play I think Ray was on the floor, we leave him by himself in the corner. You’d think we would know better.”

Translation: “We made dumb plays on defense. That’s why we gave up 31 points in three consecutive quarters.”

– When the Celtics signed Leandro Barbosa two weeks ago, Rivers already understood what his newest backcourt ingredient brought to the recipe: Instant offense. Directions are simple: If trailing by double digits late, insert Barbosa. And results are appetizing: 16 points (6-8 FG, 3-3 3P) and a 19-point lead trimmed to two.

Rivers (via Celtics.com): “If you get in a scoring contest and Barbosa’s on the floor, you’re going to feel pretty good about it,” said Rivers. “Because that’s how he’s played. That’s how he’s used to playing.”

Translation: “I trust veterans. Barbosa is a veteran. Therefore, I trust Barbosa.”

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Irish Coffee: 18 milestones 2012-13 Celtics will eclipse 10.30.12 at 5:13 pm ET
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Before the Celtics renew their rivalry with the Heat in Miami on Tuesday night and both teams begin their march toward what seems like an almost inevitable second straight Eastern Conference finals showdown, let’s predict 18 franchise and NBA milestones the C’s will eclipse during the 2012-13 season.

18. Considering he totaled 620 assists in just 53 games last season, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will shatter his own single-season franchise record for assists (794) and pass Bill Russell for fifth on the C’s career assists list. In doing so, he could become the first NBA player since the turn of the century to average 12 assists per game.

17. Kevin Garnett will score his 6,000th point in a Celtics uniform, passing Ray Allen (5,987) for 21st on the franchise scoring list. He should also surpass 3,000 rebounds, 1,000 assists, 400 steals and 400 blocks in green and white before the year is through, climbing a few more rungs on his ladder to the rafters.

16. Five ways Celtics captain Paul Pierce piles even more cement on his franchise legacy: 1) If he plays all 82, he’ll surpass Robert Parish by a single contest for second behind John Havlicek on the C’s career games played list; 2) If Pierce plays 2,941 minutes, which he did in 2008-09, he’ll pass Russell for second behind Hondo; 3) If he takes his usual 1,000-plus field goal attempts, he’ll pass Larry Bird for second behind Hondo; 4) If he makes 500, he’ll pass Parish for third behind Bird; and 5) Like Rondo, Pierce will pass Russell for fourth in career C’s assists.

15. When the Celtics win their 53rd game of the year — topping Bovada’s over/under of 50.5 — Doc Rivers passes Tommy Heinsohn for second behind Red Auerbach among coaches on the franchise’s career wins list.

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Jason Terry is actually learning to love practice 10.26.12 at 9:45 pm ET
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WALTHAM — No one is happier to have the season begin on Tuesday night in Miami than Jason Terry.

In the above video, Terry says Rajon Rondo has run him ragged while Doc Rivers has talked him into “loving practice” after spending most of his career hating it.

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Irish Coffee: C’s chemistry at a 9 or 10 but not ’08 level 10.23.12 at 6:57 pm ET
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After the Celtics started an unofficial training camp almost a month early, Rajon Rondo organized a players-only trip to Los Angeles and everyone drew parallels between the C’s Euro trip prior to the 2008 NBA championship run and their exhibition expedition to Turkey and Milan this preseason, we’re quick to assume this unit can form a bond on the court as quickly as that one did. After all, both groups returned only six players from the previous year.

On a scale from 1 to 10, Jeff Green called this team’s current chemistry a nine. In typical Rondo fashion, he placed it at a 10. And Kevin Garnett said, “Chemistry is very, very high, man.” But Paul Pierce disagrees.

“We’re still building chemistry,” he said. “Chemistry sometimes doesn’t happen overnight like in ’08, so we’re still trying to build that. When you look at the number of new players we’ve got, we’re still trying to implement them.”

Let’s get one thing straight: This group isn’t anything like the one five years ago. That 2007-08 team started 29-3. Twenty nine and freaking three. For a variety of reasons, don’t expect this team to replicate that feat.

“As far as being ready, we’re going to continue to get better as the year goes on,” added Pierce. “We’re not where we want to be, but that’s going to come as we play more games, as the year goes along, until we reach our peak.”

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