|Doc Rivers: Paul Pierce is ‘going to play for a long time if he wants to’||03.17.13 at 10:07 am ET|
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.
|Josh Smith: Celtics trade ‘was a possibility’||03.09.13 at 1:27 am ET|
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.
|Kevin Garnett: Avery Bradley ‘is everything to our defense’||03.05.13 at 10:17 am ET|
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.”
|Wyc Grousbeck on M&M: ‘We need some help’||02.26.13 at 2:08 pm ET|
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.”
|Irish Coffee: The 41 best parts of the most revealing Rajon Rondo interview to date||02.25.13 at 10:45 am ET|
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.”
|Chris Mannix on M&M: ‘More likely than not, the core of this [Celtics] team stays together’||02.20.13 at 1:48 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated NBA writer Chris Mannix joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday, one day before the NBA trade deadline, to discuss rumors surrounding the Celtics. Mannix said the Celtics would be wise to do the deal reportedly discussed with the Clippers, but he’s not expecting it to happen.
“Boston was making a lot of those calls about [Kevin] Garnett to the Clippers,” Mannix said. “And the interest in the Clippers, I can tell you, it’s divided out there among the organization. The coaching staff, they want Kevin Garnett, because they want to win now. … Whereas the front office, I can tell you this, they’re not all that inclined to give up Eric Bledsoe, who is a potential 10-year starter in this league, and DeAndre Jordan, a sure-fire starter right now, for Kevin Garnett, who could potentially only be giving you a couple more months. Who knows what Kevin Garnett’s future is going to hold? To me, he’s always been on a series of one-year contracts.
“I think at the end of the day, when you throw in the no-trade clause that Kevin has, and you consider the fact that I have not heard a heck of a lot of significant interest surrounding Paul Pierce, I think more likely than not, the core of this team stays together.”
A report Tuesday night had the Clippers pulling out of trade talks. Mannix said he expects Celtics boss Danny Ainge would follow through if the deal is resuscitated.
“I think if the deal is there, he makes it,” Mannix said. “If he can get Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan for Kevin Garnett, you jump at it. I’ve heard some criticisms of this deal from the Boston side; I don’t get it. Has anyone not been watching Eric Bledsoe? As really the fourth guard on this Clippers team — third, I guess, when [Chauncey] Billups is injured — but really, he’s done a lot of things.”
Added Mannix: “You’re dealing with potential right now, because he hasn’t gotten the consistent minutes at the point guard spot because Chris Paul has been there for a couple of years now. But Eric Bledsoe is a guy that could potentially take over as a starting point guard for a team right away, and be an effective guy, be a guy that can score 15 points per game and give you seven, eight assists. Look at the way he’s played this year: He’s up to about 10 points per game. But more importantly, his field goal percentage is in the mid-40s right now, his 3-point percentage is in the low 30s. This is a guy that’s been improving every single year. So I think he’s a guy you would want to get.
“Same thing with DeAndre Jordan, who admittedly is a little bit overpaid, because Golden State threw that massive contract at him last year. But he’s someone that can be a starting center on your team for the next decade.
“And when you make a deal like that, all of a sudden there can be a domino effect. Now you can think about dealing Rajon Rondo next year, when he becomes healthy, because you have Eric Bledsoe already at the starter’s spot. You can trade Rondo for some starting quality pieces or some draft picks, and all of a sudden an old, aging team could suddenly be a fast, rebuilding team on the fly. I think that’s the way it would turn out.”
|Trade rumor: Celtics take Rajon Rondo off market||at 12:32 pm ET|
Despite ESPN.com senior writer Chris Broussard‘s insistence that Celtics president Danny Ainge has made injured point guard Rajon Rondo available on the trade market, Rondo’s agent Bill Duffy told USA Today’s Sam Amick that Ainge “assured him” on Wednesday that the four-time All-Star will not be dealt.
Meanwhile, CBSSports.com columnist Ken Berger reports Rondo would only be dealt for Dwight Howard, Chris Paul “or a massive haul of assets” similar to what the Nuggets received for Carmelo Anthony. As you might remember, Melo, Chauncey Billups and three low-level NBA talents returned Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, a first-round draft pick, two second-round picks and $3 million in cash from the Knicks in 2011.
Those scenarios are a pipe dream for Ainge, considering Rondo’s season-ending ACL surgery that leaves him rehabbing for training camp next season.
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