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Mickael Pietrus: ‘I had to take a shot and make it’ 06.06.12 at 1:48 am ET
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Mickael Pietrus was all aces Tuesday in the clutch as the Celtics beat the Heat in Game 5. (AP)

Mickael Pietrus hit a pair of crucial 3-pointers in the fourth quarter Tuesday night as the Celtics held off the Heat, 94-90, in Game 5 at American Airlines Arena in Miami. Pietrus hit 5-of-8 shots from the floor and finished with 13 points off the bench as the Celtics moved to the brink of the NBA finals for the third time in five seasons by taking a 3-2 series lead over the heavily favored Heat.

Pietrus said he received a special source of inspiration on Monday via text message from former Celtic and current TNT NBA analyst Shaquille O’Neal.

“I got a text from Shaq, he was telling me keep believing and keep playing, so that’s what I did,” Pietrus said.

Pietrus hit a huge 3-pointer to cap a wild flurry midway through the fourth as the Celtics and Heat were battling for control of the game. With the Heat on a 9-0 run to go up 78-72, Brandon Bass had his dunk blocked by Dwyane Wade, but the loose ball went out to Rajon Rondo, who touched it immediately to a wide-open Pietrus on the right baseline. Pietrus drilled it to cut the Heat lead to three and help spark Boston’s comeback.

“When Rondo took that rebound and kicked it out to me, I knew I had to take a shot and make it, so that’s what I did,” Pietrus said.

“The one thing you know about Pietrus is he’s going to shoot it. He’s been down this road before,” Doc Rivers said, giving credit to Rondo for touch-passing to Pietrus on the wing.

With 2:11 left and Miami back in the lead at 83-82 on a Mario Chalmers 3-pointer, Pietrus stepped up and did it again, nailing another trey on a pass from Pierce. The triple put Boston up 85-83 and again quieted the crowd, which was anticipating a Heat run to close out the game as in Game 2.

“I’m very happy with the way we’ve been playing defensively and I think it’s up to us to go home and close it out,” Pietrus said.

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Jermaine O’Neal: Now, ‘I feel like I know what I’m doing’ 12.24.11 at 12:30 am ET
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No one was more disappointed about the way last season ended in Miami than Jermaine O’Neal. He had just begun to find his legs in the playoffs, playing significant minutes and becoming a force after injuries to his left knee and left wrist caused him to miss 58 regular season games.

But now he’s healthy and ready to go. He says he hasn’t felt this good since finishing the 2009-10 season in Miami, when he played and started 70 games.

“I felt strong, I felt knowledgable about the system,” O’Neal said. “Now I feel comfortable with the guys and the guys felt comfortable with me. I think the coaching staff feel comfortable with me. Last year, no one knew what to expect since I wasn’t out there.”

Doc Rivers called him the “MVP of training camp” and believes the C’s will be getting the real O’Neal this season. O’Neal doesn’t want to disappoint.

“I think all of us want to do the job Doc expects us to do,” O’Neal said Friday. “I feel like we have enough size, enough mobility to play the style of game we want to play.”

O’Neal, if healthy, could be a huge difference-maker this season for the Celtics. He has average 14 points and just over seven rebounds a game and is considered one of the best defensive centers in the league when healthy.

“You talk about our size, there’s not many teams that have legitimately three or four seven-footers,” O’Neal said. “We have 6-10, 6-11, three or four of those guys who can really do a lot of different things. I think a lot of guys are just mentally focused on doing their jobs. If we do our jobs, we’ll be fine.”

O’Neal could never get on track last season, battling injuries and splitting practice time with Shaquille O’Neal and Glen Davis as the Celtics desperately searched for an answer in the low post. Read the rest of this entry »

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Transcript of Kevin Garnett on D&C: Rajon Rondo the smartest, most stubborn, possibly most hated player in NBA 12.14.11 at 10:53 am ET
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Kevin Garnett

Celtics forward Kevin Garnett joined Dennis & Callahan for an interview from Celtics training camp that aired Wednesday morning.

Following rumors that Rajon Rondo could get traded, Garnett was asked his opinion of the young point guard. Garnett said Rondo is the smartest player in the league, as well as “the most stubborn, the most probably hated.”

Said Garnett: “I’ve grown to understand Shorty. His greatest gift is his greatest curse. We as players try to help him to understand that. Me, more or less, I see a lot of myself in him. I’m not as cocky as he is. I like to actually set aside ego when I step on the court and let the play do the talking.

“Shorty’s very smart but he’s also very stubborn. Nonetheless, with all that said and done, talking to him, I see the maturity, I hear the maturity in him wanting to be better. That’s what you want from your young guy. You want your young guy growing. You want your guy to always be in a sense to where he’s understanding that he’s the future. I think him understanding that, him being confident in that. You hear your name in talks, that’s not what you want to be. Things like that come on for a reason. Just understanding growth and understanding being young. But I love Shorty. I wouldn’t want to play with anybody else.”

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Did you think there was a chance there might not be basketball this year? Did that thought dross your mind? Did it worry you?

To be honest, yeah, I didn’t think that we were going to have basketball, and I thought for the betterment of. I thought players should have stayed solid and together on what we thought was right. I’m a fighter, man. I understood the demographics. Obviously 500-plus players, everybody’s going to have a preference. This was just my own. I understood the negotiating. I understood the whole process of it, going through it in ’99 and ’98. But times are different now. And here we are.

Do wounds need to heal?

I think everybody needs to get past mad and come here and be professional. And I think that’s what you see, guys understanding what this is. But to sit back and complain about the things that [David] Stern is doing, jamming up trades and all this other stuff, I think he’s been playing God for a while. But we need to understand that he’s also grown our league. He’s also done a lot of good things in our league.

At some point if you’re going to go forward, you’ve got to get past mad and come in here and understand that and focus on the positives. So, that’s what I think everybody’s doing. We’ve got a new team here. Basketball is back and alive here. I think all the guys here agree that we’re happy to see each other. Now, it’s just about preparing for this year.

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Irish Coffee: Rajon Rondo ‘frustrating,’ says Shaq 11.08.11 at 12:45 pm ET
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Jackie MacMullan’s latest, “Shaq Uncut: My Story,” co-written with Shaquille O’Neal, hits bookstores on Nov. 15. Excerpts about Shaq’s tenures in Los Angeles, Cleveland, Miami and Boston have already leaked.

We know about his claims that he told Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge he would never return from the Achilles injury, that he almost punched Glen “Big Baby” Davis for being selfish and that he believed Nate Robinson‘s obsession with Twitter put him in Doc Rivers‘ doghouse.

We also know that everything Shaq claims should be taken with a grain of salt, so keep that in mind when you read the following revelations, as relayed by the Herald’s Dan Duggan on Twitter.

  • Shaq said he was really interested in [Rajon] Rondo. Said Rondo was always a topic of convos. Very stubborn and won’t change.
  • Vets told Shaq how important but frustrating Rondo was. Vets liked when Rondo would get put in his place b/c he ticked them off at times.
  • Shaq did say Rondo earned the respect of the Big 3 by his defense and passing. Rondo and Doc had “respectful beefs” over plays/decisions.
  • Shaq said Baby drove Doc crazy. No surprise there. Said KG [Kevin Garnett] wouldn’t confront Baby; KG has mellowed later in his career.
  • Shaq said practices were very competitive. [Von] Wafer-Delonte [West] wasn’t the only skirmish.
  • Shaq said he told Danny not to do Perk [Kendrick Perkins] trade b/c he didn’t know if he’d be back. Said trade was strictly biz. C’s weren’t going to pay Perk.
  • Shaq said KG’s legs/knees were all screwed up last season. Said Ray [Allen] is a future GM, already like a front office guy. [Paul] Pierce is the leader.
  • Shaq had very high praise for Doc, positive memories of Boston.
  • Shaq also blatantly admits to manipulating the media/public. Says he made up a story about Bill Russell brokering peace w/ Kobe [Bryant] in 2006.
  • Shaq shook Kobe’s hand before the game and when asked said Russell told him to do it. Said he made that up to boost Russell’s legacy.
  • One last thing from Shaq’s chapter on Boston is how misleading the Celtics were on his injury.

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10 Things I Heard About Celtics IX 11.04.11 at 3:07 pm ET
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On another slow Celtics news day, there’s still plenty to learn about Boston’s green men. Here are 10 C’s links of interest we discovered over the past few days (“10 Things I Heard About Celtics” IIIIIIIVVVIVII and VIII).

10. I’m not sure why I think these “how to pronounce” videos are so hilarious, but they crack me up every time. The embedded one on Celtics second-round draft pick E’Twaun Moore is the best. Each member of the 2010-11 C’s gets the pronunciation treatment, but the JaJuan Johnson, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley ones are the best of the bunch. Am I the only one who finds these funny?

As an aside, Moore is averaging 6.7 points on 50 percent shooting, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 26.3 minutes over three games for Italian club Benetton Treviso. Speaking of second-round Celtics draftees, Gabe Pruitt was picked fourth overall in the NBA Development League Draft by the Sioux Falls Skyforce. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be playing in Italy than South Dakota.

Tommy Heinsohn has been both president of the NBA players' and coaches' associations.

9. While the lockout robbed Celtics fans of hearing Tommy Heinsohn’s dulcet tones during the canceled season opener on Tuesday night, at least the Worcester Telegram’s Bill Doyle let Heinsohn’s voice be heard. After all, he was in NBPA president Derek Fisher‘s shoes once.

  • On the lockout: “I’m not coming down on either side at this particular point. I just know that this is a crucial period for the game of basketball. The economy is tough for everybody. … Obviously it’s going to cost both parties money. The reputation of the league has yet to be determined.”
  • On NBA’s return: “I have no clue. I agree with the people. I’d love to see a basketball season.”
  • On the NBPA: “I’d hate to be Billy Hunter right now. He’s got to stand up and bump his chest for the players, and he’s got to keep the agents happy who are telling their players what to do. So he’s got an audience of players and agents, and then he’s got to go fight the owners.”

God, do I miss NBA basketball. It’s sounds like Tommy does, too. I think we can all agree with colleague Paul Flannery’s most recent column: “Has this really all been worth it?”

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Irish Coffee Archives: Celtics Halloween 10.31.11 at 1:36 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

What a difference a year makes. Three games into the 2010-11 NBA season, Ray Allen‘s party and Shaquille O’Neal‘s tour of Boston dressed as a woman last Halloween set the tone for what appeared to be a likable Celtics group that seemed destined for a third Finals appearance in four seasons.

That optimism soon devolved into a succession of injuries, the trade that shall not be referenced, another late-season slide,  a playoff beatdown courtesy of the hated Heat and the ongoing misery that is the NBA lockout.

Still, we’ll always have the legendary Top 10 Celtics Halloween photos from 2010 — featuring a cameo by Red Sox slugger David Ortiz (followed by a handful of links, including Avery Bradley‘s status overseas) …

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Irish Coffee: The case for Avery Bradley breaking out 10.19.11 at 2:16 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

While his Celtics teammates await the end of the NBA lockout for structured basketball to resume, backup point guard Avery Bradley could make his Israeli basketball debut as soon as Sunday.

That experience — combined with his participation in the Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series — will leave Bradley with perhaps more competitive basketball under his belt during the lockout than any other NBA player should the lengthy collective bargaining mediation sessions ever result in an actual season.

But will it help him contribute to the Celtics if and when NBA basketball resumes? Bradley certainly thinks so. Here’s what he told Eurobasket in a recent interview:

  • On the offseason: “I’m in great shape. I played in the pro-am games and in the Impact League in Las Vegas, so basically I work out all the time and I always make sure I’m ready to play.”
  • On playing abroad: “Honestly, what I want most it to keep playing basketball, and Jerusalem sounded like the best possibility.”
  • On the lockout: “The players and owners are doing whatever they can to end the situation we’re in. No one wants the lockout, everybody wants the same thing — for it to be over. Until then, I’m with Jerusalem and my focus is on helping out the team in any way possible.”

And for what it’s worth, I think Bradley is poised for a breakout season of sorts (hard to truly break out when playing behind Rajon Rondo, but still …). Let’s not forget he hasn’t even hit his 21st birthday (Nov. 26).

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