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Doc Rivers to his new reserves: We don’t take practice off so you better be ready 03.05.11 at 8:40 pm ET
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WALTHAM — You could sense the urgency in his voice.

Doc Rivers is a coach who exudes confidence and a positive attitude. But he also calls it the way he sees it and can push the emotional buttons of his players when need be.

After practice Saturday, he sent a very clear message to his second unit.

“They’ve got to get out of their [old] habits, wherever they’ve been,” Rivers said, referring clearly to Jeff Green, Sasha Pavlovic, Troy Murphy and Nenad Krstic. “We don’t [practice] long but we play with intensity, play hard. You just see some of their habits and some of their habits have to change. It will. It’s just going to take time.”

Rivers made it clear before practice began with several hundred fans listening in that their “help” defense was very sub-par Friday night in a 107-103 win over the Warriors.

“Learning to cover for each other is number one,” Rivers said. “But you can’t do that unless you have unbelievable focus and intensity and that’s what we’re trying to show them. I thought they were trying to do the right stuff on their help [defense] but they were always late because they’re not ready.”

Then Rivers got really serious.

“A lot of pros practice and they think practice is leisure and we don’t believe that here. It’s quick here but it’s hard. When you have your starters, who are playing 35 minutes [a game] going hard and you have your second unit going in cruise control, that’s not going to settle well with me.”

Message delivered.

During the open practice Saturday afternoon at their practice facility, which gave a peek to fans and special guests into some of their basic defensive principles, defensive coach Lawrence Frank called out positions and assignments and helped Rivers get the new players accustomed to the Celtics’ way of defending. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Sasha Pavlovic brings to the Celtics 03.03.11 at 6:37 pm ET
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When Sasha Pavlovic was with the Cavaliers he left a long impression on Celtics coach Doc Rivers during the 2008 Eastern Conference semifinals.

“He was pretty good,” Rivers said. “There was one game at the Garden where they went ISO against us offensively where he kicked our butt. I reminded Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] of that quite a lot over the last couple of days.”

Those years with the Cavs were the best of Pavlovic’s career. He averaged nine points a game and shot over 40 percent from 3-point range on the 2007 team that made an unexpected run to the NBA finals. At 6-foot-8, 205 pounds, Pavlovic offers the Celtics a big and experienced player to back up both wing positions.

“One of the things we’ve always liked about him, he’s a competitive defender,” Rivers said. “He doesn’t back down from guys. I think he can fit in well with us. He’s a skilled player as well.”

Pavlovic has played in just 14 games this season, splitting his time between Dallas and New Orleans. He was thrilled when he got the call from the Celtics, who officially signed him on Thursday in time to go through his first practice. He’s here to provide depth, toughness and hopefully some outside shooting (he’s a 35 percent 3-point shooter for his career).

“I think I can do pretty good defensively,” Pavlovic said. “I can shoot open 3’s. I’m just going to keep it simple. There’s a lot of great players on this team, whatever my role is going to be, I’m going to be happy to do it.”

With Pavlovic on board, the Celtics are currently at the maximum 15 players on the roster. Chris Johnson is nearing the end of his first 10-day contract with the team. They can either sign him to another 1o-day deal, or let him walk and open up another roster spot.

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Irish Coffee: What to expect from Celtics’ buyouts at 10:40 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

The buyout additions of Troy Murphy and (reportedly) Sasha Pavlovic are designed to give the Celtics depth, and surely they will. But every move is made to win basketball games, right?

So, can Murphy and Pavlovic help the C’s win enough games to hold off the Heat or Bulls for the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed — and then contribute to victories as the team chases Banner No. 18?

Throughout the new Big Three era, the Celtics have made similar buyout acquisitions in addition to luring P.J. Brown out of retirement before the 2008 title run. Here’s what they gave you over the past three seasons …

  • Sam Cassell averaged 7.6 points, 2.1 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 17.6 minutes during 17 regular-season games for the Celtics in 2008. He then averaged 4.5 points, 1.2 assists and 0.7 rebounds in 12.6 minutes over 21 playoff games. Cassell scored in double figures five times in the regular season and another four in the postseason — and the Celtics won all nine games.
  • P.J. Brown averaged 2.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 11.6 minutes during 18 regular-season games for the Celtics in 2008. He then averaged 2.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 13.6 minutes over 25 playoff games. Brown scored in double figures just once — but it came in a 97-92 win over the Cavaliers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
  • Mikki Moore averaged 4.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 19.0 minutes during 24 regular-season games for the Celtics in 2009. He then averaged 1.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 0.4 assists in 6.6 minutes over 10 playoff games. Moore reached double figures twice in the regular season — a win over the Thunder and a blowout loss to the Cavaliers.
  • Stephon Marbury averaged 3.8 points, 3.3 assists and 1.2 rebounds in 18.0 minutes during 23 regular-season games for the Celtics in 2009. He then averaged 3.7 points, 1.8 assists and 0.9 rebounds in 11.9 minutes over 14 playoff games. Marbury scored in double figures once in the regular season and twice in the playoffs — all victories.
  • Michael Finley averaged 5.2 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 15.0 minutes during 21 regular-season games for the Celtics in 2010. He then averaged 0.8 points, 0.6 rebounds and 0.2 assists in 6.0 minutes over 18 playoff games. The C’s finished 2-1 in the regular season when Finley reached double figures — the lone defeat coming in a blowout loss to the Grizzlies.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Source: Celtics expected to sign Sasha Pavlovic 03.02.11 at 7:41 pm ET
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Having missed out on top target Corey Brewer who will sign with the Mavericks, the Celtics are hoping to wrap up a deal with free agent swingman Sasha Pavlovic quickly, according to a source.

Pavlovic played 10 games with the Mavericks and four with the Hornets this season. The 27-year-old saw action in 71 games with the Timberwolves last season and was a part-time starter with the Cavaliers for four seasons before that. He’s 6-foot-8 and can play both the off guard and small forward positions.

Pavlovic’s best season was in 2006-07 when he averaged nine points a game and made over 40 percent of his 3-pointers on a Cavs team that advanced to the NBA finals. He adds depth behind Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and will probably compete for playing time with Von Wafer.

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Examining the Celtics’ buyout options 02.27.11 at 4:55 pm ET
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Leon Powe could return to the Celtics. (AP)

In the year and a half since Leon Powe left Boston after the 2009 season, he has played just 34 games. He also has not played in a game since Jan. 5. But Powe is available after he was waived by the Cavaliers and that’s enough to put him on the Celtics’ radar screen as they look to fill two, and possibly three, roster spots before the playoffs.

The Celtics currently have 13 players on the roster counting Chris Johnson, whom they signed to a 10-day contract out of the D-League. In the wake of the trades that sent Semih Erden, Luke Harangody and Marquis Daniels out of town, team president Danny Ainge finally has the flexibility to add more pieces.

“We’d like to add someone at each position,” Ainge said in an interview with WEEI. “A wing player, either a great shooter or a defender, not both. We’d like to shore up our frontline. We would probably look for another guard, but that’s probably the least of it.”

Here’s how the roster looks as of Sunday night:

PG: Rajon Rondo, Delonte West, Avery Bradley

SG: Ray Allen, Von Wafer

SF: Paul Pierce, Jeff Green

PF: Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis

C: Nenad Krstic, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Johnson, Jermaine O’Neal

(Note: Johnson is on a 10-day contract. The Celtics have the option of signing him to another 10-day contract when this one runs out. Then they would have to decide whether to sign him for the rest of the year.)

The issue for the Celtics right now is the limited number of players who might be available. To be eligible for someone’s postseason roster, players under contract must be waived before Tuesday, March 1. They can sign any time after that, but as Tuesday’s deadline draws near, the pool continues to shrink, not expand.

The Bobcats apparently plan to keep center Joel Przybilla. Jared Jeffries was bought out by the Rockets, but he is expected to go back to New York. You can forget about any Marcus Camby dreams and Sam Dalembert is staying with the Kings.

UPDATE: Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported Sunday night that the Clippers have reached a buyout with Rasual Butler. According to Spears, his list of teams includes the Celtics.

Then there’s the strange saga of Rip Hamilton. According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Hamilton nixed a trade that would have sent him to Cleveland and then declined overtures on a buyout, while also orchestrating an embarrassing boycott of coach John Kuester, with whom he has been feuding.

The real prize in the buyout season is Troy Murphy, who has reportedly worked out a buyout with the Warriors as of late Sunday. Murphy will be the most coveted name available, with the Celtics competing with Miami for his services. It says something about the shallow pool of talent available that a player who has seen action in just 18 games and logged less than 300 minutes this season will be that in demand.

Which brings us back to Powe. He’s 27 years old with bad knees, but again, he’s available. Powe is still beloved in the locker room and he’s obviously familiar with Doc Rivers‘ system. Even in limited minutes, he’s shown flashes. He also may be one of the few legitimate options. Murphy and Powe are the two best big man options and acquiring one, if not both, will be the Celtics’ biggest priority.

Here’s a look at some other players who may interest the Celtics. Read the rest of this entry »

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