|Sheed: Don’t sleep on the Jazz||11.10.09 at 4:47 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Rasheed Wallace can read the standings just like everyone else.
He sees that the Utah Jazz are off to a 3-4 start out West. He also sees the likes of Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur on the box score. Throw in the sharp-shooting Andrei Kirilenko and he knows his 7-1 Celtics will have their hands full when they take the court on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
“They’re a good team,” Wallace said. “Everyone is sleeping on them coming out of the West. I think they have the talent to beat the Lakers, talent to beat the Spurs. Can’t sleep on them, in my opinion. You can’t sleep on them at all. They have a good point guard, good big men, good swing men and good coach. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us.”
Ever since the days of Stockton and Malone, the Jazz under Jerry Sloan have mastered the pick-and-roll as well as anyone in the sport.
“That’s Sloan’s calling card,” Wallace said after Tuesday’s practice preparing for just that. “Just look at Mailman [Karl Malone], just look at [Jeff] Hornacek, of course [John] Stockton. Just some of the guys they’ve had. That’s what they do to a ‘T’.
“That’s what they’re know for, their execution. Their power play, so to speak, where you dump it down from the corner. That’s something Sloan has re-written the book on, the pick and roll. And you definitely have to give them their credit.”
Sloan, who was just inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sept. 11, knows what he wants on the court at all times. And opposing players like Wallace know what to expect.
“Of course, he’s always going to have a big who can shoot, he’s always a point guard who can handle and drop it off to that big and still shoot, i.e. like Stockton did,” Wallace said. “It’s definitely not going to be a cakewalk. It’s definitely going to be a challenge.”
|Celts get back to business||11.09.09 at 5:06 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The infamous stretch of eight games in 12 days is behind the Celtics, who now have a little bit of time to tighten the things that began to get away from them over the weekend.
“Defense and offense, we were slipping in both areas,” Doc Rivers said after a two-hour session Monday. “Defensively, our transition defense was starting to struggle. Our pick-and-roll defense was really slipping. That’s why you need practices. We still have new guys, down the stretch of games that’s when it really shows.”
A popular topic of conversation was the number of 3-pointers the Celtics have taken so far this season. Through eight games the C’s have taken 154 3-pointers, and Rivers suggested after the loss to Phoenix that he thought his team was searching for the 3-point line instead of attacking the middle of the Suns defense, where the Celtics had so much success.
Rivers, though, said several times that he didn’t mind the amount of 3′s his team was hoisting and he clarified the remarks he made at the end of the Phoenix game.
“I don’t mind the amount of 3’s we’re taking at all,” Rivers said. “What I don’t want is at the end of the game, is settling for them. I think we thought that we needed 3′s to get back in the game and we didn’t. We just needed to play. As far as the amount of 3’s we’re taking, I’m fine with that. They’re good shots for us.”
One player in particular has stood out for his willingness to shoot the long ball: Rasheed Wallace. Wallace has shot 75 times this season, and 50 of his attempts have been from beyond the arc, which even for him is a little much — particularly because he went 0-for-10 against Phoenix and New Jersey. Still, Rivers insisted that there was nothing wrong with Wallace’s role.
“I have no problem with it,” Rivers said. “We’re 7-1 and Rasheed is a big reason for that. Even when he misses, he’s taking a [center] and making them stand out by the 3-point line when Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] are working down low, or Kevin [Garnett] or [Kendrick Perkins] or someone else. Obviously, we want to keep mixing it up and get him on the post and get Kevin on the post. His shooting is a big factor for us.”
A couple of things that are worth pointing out here:
1. The Celtics are averaging 19.3 3-point attempts per game, which ranks 12th in the NBA. In other words, the high volume of 3-point attempts is a league-wide trend.
2. The Celtics are making the 3′s at a rate of of just over 40 percent, which ranks fourth in the NBA.
3. They are holding teams to 32 percent shooting from 3-point range, which is tied for seventh.
So, the Celtics are making good use of the 3-point line, both offensively and defensively. There is ample evidence that suggests that teams that shoot more 3-pointers, and shoot them better, will win most of their games.
“I know this is a big deal all of a sudden here about 3-point attempts,” Rivers said. “I’m not upset at all. I like what we’re doing. We’re causing teams miserable problems because we’re spreading the floor.”
NOTES: Bill Walker practiced for the first time since undergoing knee surgery, while Brian Scalabrine sat out the sessions. Scalabrine was a DNP on Friday because of back spasms, but he suited up on Saturday while Marquis Daniels was away tending to a personal matter.
Walker still has a ways to go before he can get a chance at cracking the end of the rotation, but it does appear that his rehab is right on schedule, which is a good sign for the second-year forward, who has flashed interesting potential in his limited minutes.
“We didn’t hold him back at all,” Rivers said. “He was fine. I don’t know what his schedule was. I’m assuming it’s about on schedule because [trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] told me a week ago this is the day he’s going to practice.”
|Report: Celtics ‘Unlikely’ to Sign Sweetney||10.22.09 at 4:10 pm ET|
Despite playing better than expected this preseason, the Celtics are “unlikely” to commit to a guaranteed contract to keep Michael Sweetney, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Sweetney averaged 3.6 points and 1.2 rebounds in five preseason games after being out of the NBA for two years. He shot 67% from the field and 86% from the line.
Sweetney has not been shy in expressing his enthusiasm to play for the Celtics. Prior to the first preseason home game he told WEEI.com, “Coming here is just a great moment. Coming in the building was like, wow. But coming into this locker room and the history and just being on this team is just amazing … I’ve never been on a team at the beginning of the season and everybody says, ‘We’re going to make the playoffs.’ But this team has won championships, so it’s a different feeling surrounding it.”
He also gelled quickly with the team’s chemistry, including some friendly trash talking with Rasheed Wallace over football.
UPDATE: The Celtics waived Sweetney on Thursday.
|Rondo and Reserves Propel Celtics over Nets||10.13.09 at 10:57 pm ET|
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.
|Football a Touchdown for Celtics Chemistry||10.12.09 at 12:26 am ET|
With seconds left in regulation between Wallace’s favorite team, the Kansas City Chiefs, and Perkins’ hometown club, the Chiefs scored a touchdown to force overtime. It was enough to send Perkins back into the trainer’s room while Wallace gloated in the last-second comeback.
On Sunday afternoon the Celtics locker room became an NFL fan zone following their game against the Nets (recap).
“Everybody has their own teams and they’re rooting for their hometown,” said Michael Sweetney while he watched the game from his locker. “Especially with ‘Sheed with Kansas City, Perk with Dallas, Paul [Pierce] likes the Patriots, and I’m from D.C. so I’ve got the [Washington] Redskins, we all just get around and talk trash. It brings us together. We have a good time.”
For the Celtics, following football is another experience to strengthen their team chemistry. Many of the players, including Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels, played in high school. Their passion for the sport now brings them together in the pros.
“We’re all football fans,” said Davis, a New Orleans Saints follower. “Football’s an American sport. Every guy likes football, we like to talk about football, and everybody talks about athletes.”
According to Daniels, this game is a common thread among many NBA players. The Orlando native, who is a fan of any Florida football team, recalls friendly rivalries among teammates when he played for the Mavericks and Pacers. In many cases a lost prediction would result in having to wear the opposition’s jersey.
Sweetney, however, has never played for a team where Sundays are so significant.
“This is my first team being around something like this, just the camaraderie, everything,” he said. “It’s just something special right now. Like I told you before — and I’m not bad mouthing other teams – the two teams I’ve been on [Bulls and Knicks], we’ve never done this. Guys enjoy each other, not just on the floor.”
In that moment, Wallace enjoyed himself as he continued his celebration. Even though his initial outburst was directed at Perkins, Sweetney was not exempt from the cheers. As Sweetney explained, Wallace is a “true diehard fan” who would stick by the Chiefs even if they only won one game this season.
“Yeah, Sweet, say something now, Sweet!” Wallace jokingly yelled out.
“I was talking trash to him all week,” Sweetney admitted, “and we lost today.”
|Former Magic Notice Changes in Celtics||10.11.09 at 5:01 pm ET|
The last time Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, and Courtney Lee played against the Celtics, they sent the C’s packing for the summer. The trio were members of the Magic team that eliminated the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. This year they are in a different uniform and noticed the Cs have a different look as well.
Alston, Battie and Lee were traded from the Magic to the Nets over the summer as part of the Vince Carter deal. On Sunday they got their first take at the Celtics with their new team during preseason action at the TD Garden (recap here).
“They got a brand new season,” Battie said. “I mean, you look and [Kevin Garnett] is back and Rasheed [Wallace] is part of it. They got a great steal in getting Marquis Daniels, and you have those three additions coming back in the team. So, I think they’re the team to beat, definitely.”
Last season a hobbled Celtics squad was outscored, outrebounded and burned from the 3-point line by the Magic. Without Garnett on the court and veterans Ray Allen and Paul Pierce overworked, the Celtics bench could not save the season. Now the additions of Wallace and Daniels give the team much-needed depth.
“They get their big guy back and then they add Rasheed Wallace in there now,” Alston said. “I think when you’re trying to take away a lot of their main guys, they have a lot of guys that can step up and stretch the defense or post up on the low block. They have a different dynamic to their team, especially from a defensive aspect for other teams.”
Both Alston and Lee agree the series would have been completely different if the Celtics had so many weapons last season.
“They would’ve been a better team,” Lee said. “They definitely would’ve been harder for a matchup because you can play Marquis at the 1 and you sub in Rasheed, so they keep a shooting big in at all times, so they definitely would have been better.”
Said Alston: “I don’t think we would have been able to roam a lot off of a lot of their guys — [Rajon] Rondo, [Kendrick] Perkins, Big Baby [Glen Davis]. Those guys who really bring more scoring to the offense, especially from the bench standpoint.”
The combination of a healthy Garnett and a revamped second unit has Alston noticing a difference in the 2009-10 Celtics. Although he isn’t as willing as Battie to name them the best in the Eastern Conference, he can’t deny the changes on the court.
“Whenever they have all their guys, they have a swagger,” he said. “When someone goes down they don’t have swagger no more. That’s just how they are.”
|Garden Debut has New Vets Feeling Young Again||10.09.09 at 10:26 pm ET|
Marquis Daniels is entering his seventh NBA season, and he can’t help but feel like it’s his first.
“I’m very excited. I told the guys the other day, I’m like, ‘I feel like a rookie,’ ” Daniels said before the game. “I’m very excited to be playing here. I’ve played in here on the other team and I knew there’d be a big difference. The fans play a big role and they’re great.”
Daniels was one of five Celtics who played their first games on the parquet as a member of the home team. Rasheed Wallace, Michael Sweetney, Shelden Williams and rookie Lester Hudson also made their Celtics debuts.
“Coming here is just a great moment,” said Sweetney, who had not played in the NBA since the 2006-07 season. “Coming in the building was like, wow. But coming into this locker room and the history and just being on this team is just amazing.”
Newcomers such as Williams point to the Celtics’ deep tradition as something they have never experienced in the NBA. Williams has played for the Hawks, Timberwolves and Kings over the course of his career.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “I know it’s not the same gym as the Boston Garden, but there’s still a lot of history here and in the city wearing green. It’s still a great feeling to be part of history.”
With the titles and electricity of the TD Garden come high expectations for the upcoming season.
“I’ve never been on a team at the beginning of the season and everybody says, ‘We’re going to make the playoffs,’ ” Sweetney said. “But this team has won championships, so it’s a different feeling surrounding it.”
This has Daniels looking forward to the feeling he has wearing a Celtics uniform.
“[The difference with the Celtics is] just knowing that we have a chance to be real special and we have a chance to do great things,” he said. “There are a lot of great, hard-working guys, great veterans, great franchise, coaches and everything. It’s going to be a great situation.”
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