|Irish Coffee: Shaq doing best Perk impression||11.15.10 at 10:30 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Off the court, Shaquille O’Neal has been everything Celtics fans could’ve expected — and more. Sunday’s trip as Shaq-A-Claus to Toys-R-Us in Framingham and his performance of “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” at Cheers in downtown Boston are just two examples.
On the court? Forget Shaqeeta. O’Neal’s best impression has been of Kendrick Perkins. Shaq has been as good a replacement for the injured Perkins as the Celtics could’ve found.
Through 10 games, the C’s (8-2) are exactly where they were with Perkins in 2009-10. Defensively, with Perkins in the lineup, the 2009-10 Celtics ranked fifth in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions (103.8); this fall, they rank sixth (101.7). With Perk in ’09-10, the C’s ranked 25th in rebounding differential (-1.5); this season, they’re 16th (+0.3).
Sure, some of that success can be attributed to Kevin Garnett‘s health, but Shaq should get some credit, too, as a worthy replacement for Perkins in five starts so far this season.
Take a look at the 2010-11 per-minute averages for Shaq vs. Perk’s numbers in 2009-10 (bolded statistics indicate an advantage) …
- ’10-11 SHAQ: 0.46 points, 0.27 rebounds, 0.03 assists, 0.02 blocks, 0.02 steals, 0.09 turnovers and 0.18 personal fouls
- ’09-10 PERK: 0.37 points, 0.28 rebounds, 0.04 assists, 0.06 blocks, 0.01 steals, 0.08 turnovers and 0.10 personal fouls
However, Shaq has not been capable of matching Perkins’ minutes. Shaq has averaged 21.2 minutes in his five starts this season – 76.8 percent of the 27.6 minutes per game Perk played last year. Even playing 6.4 fewer minutes per game, Shaq has been able to produce a solid Perkins impersonation, as evidenced by their per-game averages …
- ’10-11 SHAQ: 9.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.4 steals, 1.8 turnovers and 3.8 personal fouls
- ’09-10 PERK: 10.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.7 blocks, 0.3 steals, 2.1 turnovers and 2.8 personal fouls
Essentially, because Shaq has played so well, when he plays the C’s only need to make up 6.4 minutes of Perkins’ production at the center spot in order to provide some semblance of the starting five that has reached the NBA Finals in two of the last three seasons. It’s safe to say that in spurts Glen Davis, Semih Erden and Jermaine O’Neal have been able to pick up that slack.
So far, at least, the Celtics have not missed Perkins, especially when Shaq has started in his place. That means two things for the Celtics going forward: 1) If Shaq remains healthy — and that’s a big if — it will allow Perkins to take his time regaining full strength; and 2) With both Shaq and Perk, the C’s could be a better team than the one that reached the 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals.
JERMAINE O’NEAL & PERKINS SHARE THE LOVE
Prior to Jermaine O’Neal’s arrival in Boston, he and Perkins weren’t exactly best buddies. However, the moment they became teammates, any beef between them fell by the wayside. Jessica Camerato detailed their relationship this season …
“I just wanted to let him know it’s on the court, it’s not outside of that,” explained Perkins. “I’m a great teammate, but when you’re on the other team, I’m really going at your head. But I wanted to show him there isn’t any tension outside of basketball, no beef or nothing, and just kind of welcome him with open arms.”
I especially enjoyed Doc Rivers‘ take, which explains in part how quickly the C’s have been able to incorporate new bodies into a championship-contending system …
“We don’t like anybody on the other team,” Rivers said. “The outside guy is always a little iffy when he comes to our team, especially if we’ve had it in with him. But then they find out, wow this is the greatest group. They get along great. So that’s what’s happened already. … Once you’re on our team, you’re part of our group.”
As Shaq said in the same article, “Here there’s just one language — win, win, win, championship, championship, championship. And that’s all that we talk about.”
2010-11 HEAT CAN’T MIRROR ’07-08 CELTICS
While the Celtics have seamlessly incorporated new talent into an already existing system, the Miami Heat has struggled to establish a new system with all their new talent. In a Miami Herald piece, Rivers compared the Heat’s task with the one he faced three seasons ago …
“It’s the exact same thing, and I think everyone goes through it to some extent,” said Rivers, who added that this year’s Celtics are experiencing similar problems. “The more guys you add — the more key guys you add — the first year for us, our Big 3 were in each other’s way at times early because no one wanted to do too much.”
Rivers said he had to have “a big summit early in the year” to explain everyone’s role on the team. [Kevin] Garnett was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year that season.
“Kevin was so key to us — and in some ways, [Chris] Bosh is doing the same things — but Kevin can take 20 shots or one shot and it won’t affect his day at all,” Rivers said.
“He’s unselfish to a fault at times.”
Rivers said the 2007-08 championship team began the season with a slightly different dynamic than the Heat because the Celtics’ stars were older and “they were at the point in their careers where they had to solidify their careers and that made it easier for me.”
I think Rivers was being kind when he said Bosh is doing the same things this season as KG did in 2007-08. There’s simply no way Bosh is going to be the Defensive Player of the Year this season.
In his weekly mailbag, Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen took on the same issue. In his eyes, the C’s two straight victories over the Heat this season should help the Big Three forego their egos in favor of the unselfishness that allowed the Celtics to thrive three years ago …
This isn’t about improving their skills; it’s about deepening their wisdom. When Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen united in Boston, they understood intuitively the demands of coach Doc Rivers to alter their games in order to fit together, because each of them had gone year after year after year of losing in the playoffs. They were all in their 30s and they were ready to change.
But these players in Miami haven’t been humbled enough in their previous careers — if they had been forced to accept that humility, they never would have gone upon that stage and behaved so naively last July.
DOC NOT A FAN OF TWITTER
Speaking of the spectacle that was Miami’s Big Three this offseason, Rivers commented on Pierce’s “It’s been a pleasure to bring my talents to South Beach” tweet following the C’s victory this past Thursday night …
“I didn’t get laughs out of that stuff; I really don’t like that stuff,” said Rivers. “I don’t care one way or another but I don’t think you need to say anything. It’s a long season. It’s a good (dig) but I’m not a fan of all that stuff.”
I like how Rivers says he didn’t like it, and then says it’s a good dig. He may not be encouraging it, but he’s certainly not discouraging it, either.
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|Danny Ainge on The Big Show: Health of O’Neals ‘a concern’||11.11.10 at 7:30 pm ET|
Celtics executive president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, in his weekly appearance on The Big Show (lsten to the interview at The Big Show audio on demand page) said that the health of centers Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal had become something of a concern. Shaquille O’Neal has missed the last five games while recovering from a bruised right knee, while Jermaine O’Neal was sidelined in the second half of this week’s contest against the Mavericks due to a left knee injury.
Shaq, Ainge said, is expected to return to the lineup against the Heat on Thursday. Jermaine O’Neal, on the other hand, is expected to remain sidelined. While Ainge did proclaim the health of the two centers a concern, he also said that it was not a complete surprise that the team is managing minutes at the position.
“I think that Jermaine and Shaq are a concern with their health,” said Ainge. “I felt like with the four centers we have that we’d be able to make it through the year. I didn’t expect Shaq to play 82 games, and I didn’t expect him to play more than 20-25 minutes a night at the most, and that was if he was playing well.”
With the two O’Neals dealing with their knee issues and Kendrick Perkins trying to work his way back from his torn ACL, Ainge said that rookie Semih Erden will continue to see minutes.
“Semih is going to get a chance to play with the up-and-down health of the two O’Neals,” Ainge said. “He has pretty good instincts about where to be both offensively and defensively. … Sometimes he’s thinking too much rather than relying on his instincts.”
Ainge also touched on the recent remarks by Joakim Noah of the Bulls that were critical of Celtics forward Kevin Garnett. Noah called Garnett “very mean” and “ugly,” comments that Ainge suggested were a non-story.
“I’m sure Kevin’s enjoying it. … It’s hilarious. I’m sure Kevin is enjoying every bit of it,” Ainge said. “I don’t even think this is a story. i don’t even want to talk about it, it’s so boring. … Joaquim Noah popping off is not very interesting.”
Ainge also discussed the early inconsistencies of the Heat, a team that he characterized as alternately dominant and vulnerable, as well as the status of Perkins’ recovery and the nature of his team’s budding rivalry with Miami.
|The Three-Pointer: Rajon Rondo has a lot to prove||11.09.10 at 12:03 am ET|
Remember that scene in the movie “Billy Madison” when Adam Sandler apologizes to Steve Buscemi for teasing him in high school, so Buscemi crosses him off his “kill list”? You kind of getting the feeling that NBA point guards should start finding reasons to apologize to Rajon Rondo.
With the possible exception of a stretch in late February and early March — when Rondo will face Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings in consecutive games — the Celtics point guard won’t face another stretch like he has over the past four games.
In six nights, Rondo faced Jennings, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Jason Kidd, finishing 3-1 — with the defeat arriving in an 89-87 loss to Kidd’s Mavericks Monday night in Dallas.
Despite battling mild plantar fasciitis, Rondo outplayed them all. See for yourself …
Celtics 105, Bucks 102 (OT)
- Rondo: 17 points, 7-of-10 field goals, 15 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 6 turnovers
- Jennings: 13 points, 5-of-13 field goals, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 turnovers
Celtics 110, Bulls 105 (OT)
- Rondo: 10 points, 5-of-10 field goals, 11 assists, 3 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 turnovers
- Rose: 18 points, 8-of-19 field goals, 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 0 steals, 6 turnovers
Celtics 92, Thunder 83
- Rondo: 10 points, 5-of-8 shooting, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 4 turnovers
- Westbrook: 16 points, 6-of-16 shooting, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, 8 turnovers
Mavericks 89, Celtics 87
- Rondo: 11 points, 5-of-15 shooting, 15 assists, 6 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 turnovers
- Kidd: 0 points, 0-for-5 shooting, 10 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 turnovers
In all, Rondo averaged 12.0 points on 51.2 percent shooting, 12.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 4.5 turnovers. Defensively, he allowed the other four to produce 11.8 points on 35.9 percent shooting, 8.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 5.0 turnovers.
The difference, though, went beyond the numbers. Rondo dictated the tempo against each of them on offense and disrupted the normal flow of his opponents’ games on defense. Read the rest of this entry »
|The OG Sports Show: “Lakers Talk” is high comedy||11.05.10 at 5:43 pm ET|
Is “The OG Sports Show: ‘Lakers Talk’” the worst thing to ever happen to the internet? Then again, this could be the best analysis ever of the Rajon Rondo upside down headband issue and whether Shaquille O’Neal is “the most unprofessional athlete in the world.” I can’t decide. Either way, we need to get this guy on the Green Street payroll. Judge for yourself …
I think my favorite part is the guy who provides this analysis on Shaq:
“Disrespecting the great Dr. Jerry Buss, like, yelling, you know, while Jerry was there with his family on the, which is the owners, by the way — the Buss family, who own the franchise. So, he disrespected him there, and then in the same way he’s disrespected, like, Playboy lifestyle, Busses and ’70s. Like, I guess Shaq was saying, ‘Hang out with girls your own age’ and getting all disrespectful in the press. I mean, I don’t know. Who doesn’t? Nobody.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Hilarious.
|Irish Coffee: Paul Pierce’s legacy||11.04.10 at 1:40 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Shaquille O’Neal watched in the locker room as Paul Pierce passed, clinging to the ball commemorating his 20,000th career point and smiling, ear-to-ear.
O’Neal turned to Celtics assistant coach Armond Hill and said, “Didn’t I score my 20,000th career point on you?”
No, it wasn’t quite 26 years ago when Hill hung up his shoes that Shaq reached 20,000, but it was eight seasons ago — signaling just how far Pierce has to go in order to reach Shaq & Co. in the top-five scorers of all-time.
Still, what Pierce achieved Wednesday night againt the Bucks doesn’t happen too often in the NBA, although it may not seem that way, considering three of the 35 other players in the history of the league to accomplish the feat were just a few feet away from him in the locker room.
“He’s been one of the best players in the league for a very long time,” Jermaine O’Neal said after Wednesday night’s game. “It’s hard to be that good for a long time for multiple reasons: aging, injuries, change in regimes — sometimes that has an effect on your game. But he’s been very consistent at what he does, and he’s very deserving of it.”
Of the 36 NBA players to reach the 20,000-point plateau, only 18 of them scored their first 20,000 for a single team (that includes Pierce). Of those 18, only 16 scored their first 20 grand in the same city. And of those 16, only nine began and ended their careers with the same team. Obviously, Pierce has the opportunity to be the 10th.
“It makes me think about what I went through in my career — just how tough it is to play with one team,” Allen said. “At some points, it gets rocky, because you hit those low points where a team’s not winning.
“Franchises are cyclical in sports. In those lean years he was able to stick it out here, and people still stuck behind him and the team, so that’s commendable. It doesn’t happen a lot these days in sports.”
Pierce’s career in Boston hasn’t been without its ups and downs. In 2005, he was reportedly offered to the Portland Trail Blazers for the No. 3 pick and Nick Van Exel, and the Blazers instead traded the pick to Utah (the Jazz turned that selection into Deron Williams).
“Things change, management changes, sometimes the view changes,” added Jermaine O’Neal. “Once that happens, players tend to move around. It’s a special thing to do it for one team and once city for 13 long years. You’ve got to tip your hat off to him as a peer, as a teammate, and someone that’s watched him. I’ve been a fan of him for a long time.”
None of Pierce’s Celtic teammates and fellow 20,000-point scorers — Garnett, Allen or Shaq — scored their first 20 grand for the same team.
FOUR PLAYERS, 80,000 POINTS
Among the Celtics’ four 20,000-point scorers, only Shaq scored his first 20,000 in fewer games (727) than Pierce (889). It took Allen (962) and Garnett (979) almost another season’s worth of scoring to reach the mark.
Our own Mike Petraglia captured Pierce’s reaction to reaching the plateau, so let’s take a look at how the other three felt when they reached 20 grand …
There’s a funny story (depending on how you look at it) surrounding Shaq’s 20,000th point. He scored it as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers on March 20, 2008, in 107-99 victory against the Kings in Sacramento.
However, as a result of Shaq’s criticism of then-King Mike Bibby‘s selection to the Team USA roster over Allen Iverson, a friend of Bibby’s defaced the commemorative ball shortly after the game, inscribing “Shaq is an a**hole” on it.
The defamation clearly angered Shaq, as did the lack of acknowledgement from the Lakers organization on the achievement.
“I’ll just have to get another ball at 30,000,” O’Neal told The Los Angeles Times in 2003.
Shaq currently stands at 28,281 points — fifth all-time. Meanwhile, Garnett has 22,345 at 22nd all-time. KG scored his 20,000th point as a member of the Celtics on March 8, 2008, in a 119-89 blowout of the Memphis Grizzlies — oddly enough, on an assist from Pierce.
“I wasn’t aware coming in,” Garnett told The Boston Globe in 2008. “It’s a great accomplishment for me. I’m more grateful to every coach, point guard, staff member, everybody whose put me in a position to be successful and I just say thank you.
“It’s a bit more meaningful as a Celtic when it happened. It seems like things are lining up for something more beautiful, like a championship.”
A year and a half later, also as a Celtic, on December 10, 2009, Allen scored his 20,000th career point — fittingly, on a 3-pointer in a 104-102 victory against the Washington Wizards. Since then, he’s climbed to No. 28 all-time.
“It’s interesting how basketball’s such a team sport, but it’s governed by so many individual statistics,” Allen told The Globe. “I’m just grateful I’ve had great teammates, I’ve had great coaches, and I’ve had pretty good organizations, and that’s helped me be where I am today.”
In another strange coincidence that will forever tie the Celtics’ Big Three together, Allen scored his 18,000th point on the night Garnett reached 20,000, and Pierce scored his 19,000th point on the night Allen reached 20,000. Welcome to The Twilight Zone.
PIERCE: GREATEST CELTICS SCORER EVER?
Larry Bird (21,791; No. 25 all-time) and John Havlicek (26,395; No. 11 all-time) are each one of the nine NBA players to score more than 20,000 points, beginning and ending their careers with the same team. Of the two, only Bird got to 20 grand in fewer games (809) than Pierce.
Pierce will in all likelihood pass Bird in the 2011-12 season, but will he ever catch Havlicek?
Since he is signed through the 2013-14 season, Pierce would have to average 19.8 points while playing every single game throughout the course of his contract in order to tie Havlicek. That’s definitely unrealistic.
However, should he play an additional two seasons for the Celtics after his current deal, averaging 16 points and 67 games per year (including this one), he’ll surpass Havlicek to become the greatest scorer in Celtics history.
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|Jermaine O’Neal, Rajon Rondo and Tiger Woods||11.01.10 at 4:46 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Jermaine O’Neal admitted following practice on Monday that he’s been a disappointment so far, in part because of injuries that have affected his conditioning.
“It’s been challenging,” O’Neal said of his slew of injuries. “Obviously, the hamstring, the back a little bit, the wrist, now the knee so it’s been extremely disappointing for me so far. But obviously, trials and tribulations will make you stronger and you have to take that as you never can be successful if you don’t fail. So far, I haven’t been able do things out there that I want to do out there.”
The 31-year-old O’Neal, who practiced with the first team and will play on Tuesday in Detroit, was signed in early July to a two-year, $12 million deal. He played in the first two games, scoring just three points, before swelling in his left knee sidelined him for the game against the Knicks last Friday.
“I know the people that are happy about me aren’t happy quite yet with what they’ve seen but I can guarantee that before the year is over with, they’ll be really happy with my play and it’s just about finding ways of getting yourself going.”
Rajon Rondo, the Eastern Conference player of the Week for Week 1 after dishing 50 assists in three games, dressed up as Tiger Woods to win the team’s award for best Halloween costume on Sunday. “We did a little vote on it Rondo won for being Tiger Woods,” captain Paul Pierce said. As for the video of Shaquille O’Neal as Shaqeeta, his drag costume for Halloween that is making the rounds on the internet and local TV, “No, I haven’t seen it,” Pierce added. “I’ll have to check it out.”
|Semih Erden is ready for his closeup||at 4:36 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Semih Erden was working in the post against Jermaine O’Neal during practice Monday. Erden started to his left, faked like he was going right and then finished back on the left side. It’s the kind of move he’s been pulling off with regularity since he joined the Celtics, but not the only one.
“He gave me a move in that open scrimmage the other day,” Shaquille O’Neal said. “Real nice move. That just tells me he has the potential to go at me whenever he wants to. With him, he’s going to have to get a rhythm out there with the guys. He’s young and he’s going to get his shot.”
Erden’s shot may be getting closer to becoming a reality because, as expected, the Celtics are about to go into a stretch of games without at least one of the O’Neals.
Shaq made the trip to Detroit and hasn’t been officially ruled out of Tuesday’s game, but after he missed practice for the second straight day with a shin injury, it’s not likely that he’ll play.
Jermaine O’Neal, on the other hand, looks like he will be able to go against the Pistons. That helps, but the Celtics need at least two big men against the Pistons large frontline and that means Erden will finally get a chance to show what he can do in a game situation.
“Yeah I’m ready,” Erden said responding to a question in English without the help of his translator. “I feel good. Every day I learn something. It’s good for me. I’m lucky.”
That tiny interaction is a major step forward for Erden who has the added pressure of not only being a rookie, but a rookie from Turkey who is being asked to assimilate the NBA game as well as a new language.
“He knows how to play,” Doc Rivers said. “He’s just trying to learn how to play our way. The language barrier is a problem, there’s no doubt about that. You just got to keep working on him. He’s going to be a good big in this league and he’s going to be a good big for a long time. What we don’t know is whether he’s a good enough big right now.” Read the rest of this entry »
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