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Camp report: Fighting through the injuries 10.04.10 at 4:09 pm ET
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Jermaine O'Neal has been limited by a hamstring injury. (AP Image)

Jermaine O'Neal has been limited by a hamstring injury. (AP Image)

As always with the Celtics, injuries and their effects will be a constant theme this season. It’s fitting then that only a week into camp, the team is already dealing with a couple of minor ailments.

Jermaine O’Neal injured his left hamstring at the end of Friday’s practice and will likely be held out for the rest of the week. Delonte West left practice Monday after suffering back spasms. Doc Rivers is a little more optimistic on West, saying that West could be day to day. One thing is certain: the Celtics are playing it safe.

“We cannot take a chance with that,” Rivers said.

The injuries, however minor, do allow for Rivers to begin tinkering with lineups. When practice opened to the media, Shaquille O’Neal was with the first team and Von Wafer and Semih Erden were working with the second unit.

“When you look at Shaq and Jermaine and think that they’re going to play 82 games healthy, that would be nice, but we have to be ready for them to miss a couple of games,” Rivers said. “That’s why like Luke [Harangody] and Semih are so important. They’re going to have to play.”

Jermaine O’Neal’s hamstring injury, which he does not believe is serious, comes at a difficult time because he was just getting comfortable with the new system.

“I’m not really concerned about it,” O’Neal said. “It’s the timing, being here with the guys getting that chemistry. I was just starting to get comfortable with the philosophies, what Doc wanted. That’s the most frustrating part about it. But I don’t have any doubt in my mind that I’ll be back fairly soon. There’s no substitution for it. You can study and look all you want. I felt like Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I was really starting to get comfortable and everything was starting to slow down.”

Rivers termed O’Neal’s play “up and down,” through the first part of camp, which is understandable since he’s just beginning to process all the changes. “When you’re playing with a new team, you’re not playing, you’re thinking,” Rivers said. “But other than that I love what he was doing. He’s starting to make shots from the outside.”

The Celtics open their exhibition schedule Wednesday in Manchester, New Hampshire against the Sixers. O’Neal is almost certainly out for that game, while West is day to day.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Shaq gossip all over the Radar 10.02.10 at 4:09 pm ET
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Don’t shoot the messenger on this one, but I thought this story from RadarOnline.com was weird when I read that Shaquille O’Neal‘s ex-wife Shaunie reportedly offered Shaq’s alleged mistress, Vanessa Lopez, an “incentive” to go public with an affair in order to nullify the terms of their pre-nup. But that’s the least bizarre aspect of the story.

Twist No. 1: According to RadarOnline.com, Shawn Darling, who used to work for Shaq, accused his former boss of hacking into his computer, destroying evidence and planting child pornography. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the old blame the cat for your disgusting kiddie porn trick that some guy tried a few months back. And, somehow, I don’t picture Shaq as the computer hacking type. Or should I say computer shaq-ing type (that was bad, I know).

Twist No. 2: Now, RadarOnline.com reports that Shaq allegedly hired Justin Zormelo to harass Lopez. Zormelo denies this claim in an e-mail to the website: “The allegations are completely untrue. I have never spoken to that woman, nor threatened her.”

I have no idea what to make of all this. Lawsuits are flying everywhere. Messy stuff. Whether the info is true or not, it obviously creates an unwanted distraction for Shaq.

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Shaq vs. Nate Robinson, again at 1:29 pm ET
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Dear Shaq and KG,

Please don’t kill Nate Robinson. He could be useful this season.

Thanks,
Ben

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The Celtics Film Crew 09.30.10 at 4:10 pm ET
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I guess this is just Nate being Nate. Nate Robinson continues to keep Celtics practices loose, posting on his Twitter account this video of him dunking on Shaquille O’Neal. He also gave us footage of him walking in Shaq’s shoes and a Kendrick Perkins/Shaq dance-off. I don’t know about you, but Perk looks pretty nimble here. Also, Paul Pierce posted a video of Nate trying to guard Delonte West in Shaq’s shoes.

Read More: Delonte West, Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Rivers on D&C: ‘Let’s do it year to year’ at 9:48 am ET
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Doc Rivers (AP)

Doc Rivers (AP)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show to talk about the upcoming season. Rivers discussed a number of topics, including the early odds that he wouldn’t be back in Boston after last season, and how the new additions will help the team.

“The last three years have been a joy,” Rivers said. “I’ve been allowed to coach. I’ve been allowed to tell them to do things. They’ve done them, and so when you get a group like that you want to extend that group. Now we’ve added some more guys; Shaq, Jermaine, and I’m hoping they’re the same way, and I think they will be.”

[To hear the full interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.]

Odds were that you wouldn’t be back as coach after last season. What changed in the offseason that made you want to come back?

Well, I just delayed it for a year. Honestly guys, I had shipped my car home, most of my clothes home, so at that point, you were right. The reason I kept saying I can’t a decision doing this in the year, is because it’s too emotional, number one, you’re too close to it. Getting away was good for me, it was good for my family.

We’re sitting around, and the two kids are in high school, and the first thing they said was, ‘Listen, this is not on us, number one. And you’re a coach, that’s what you do.’ My young one was the best, he actually said it. He said, ‘I can’t imagine you leaving the group that you have.’ He said I would feel awful about that if you left Kevin Garnett and that group.

And my wife thought the same thing, so that part of it was easy. And then the second part for me, was do you want to come back and do it? I love what I do, I love the guys that I coach, and you guys have been around this longer than me I’m going to say. You don’t get special groups a lot when you’re a coach, and you should try to extend it as long as you can.

The way Danny [Ainge] has lined things up, it seems players have been signed for two years for the most part. You’re just talking about one year.

Yeah, you know, I told Danny and them, I didn’t want to go through the extension and walk away. I said let’s just do it year to year. That’s what it’s going to be anyway. The risk is on me, really. It’s not them. You know, Wyc [Grousbeck] and the owners, they offered a long deal, and it wasn’t anything that I didn’t like, it was great. I just thought it would be right by them to not walk out of a deal. I thought it would be better to just do a year-to-year deal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Celtics: Irish Coffee at 9:00 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

It’s becoming fairly clear that Nate Robinson enjoys pranking his teammates, especially Shaquille O’Neal. This time, he’s seen with Paul Pierce, pouring a ton of salt into a glass of water before handing it to an unsuspecting Shaq. The Big Shamrock’s reaction is priceless. It’s stuff like this that builds camaraderie, and I’m all for it.

NBA rule changes?

The NBA is trying out a number of potential rule changes in the NBA Development League–with an eye towards adding them at the top level in the near future.

The biggest change? Potentially allowing defenders to knock a ball away while its on the rim, a huge change from the current goaltending rule, which forbids players from touching the ball while its in the cylinder. Just for the record, this is a terrible idea. I mean, I even dominated when we lowered the rim in our backyard and allowed goaltending. Can you imagine how good Bill Russell would’ve been?

The other potential rule change? Three-minute overtimes, as opposed to the current five-minute system. Another awful idea. I have trouble doing anything in three minutes, let alone playing the most important part of a basketball game. Is there anyone out there thinking, “You know what, I’d watch this overtime if it were three minutes. Five minutes? That’s much too long for me.”

Salary cap issues hit hard

Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis was fined $100,000 by the NBA for saying that he expects the league to adopt a hard salary cap, much like the one currently in place in the NHL.

“In a salary cap era–and soon a hard salary cap in the NBA like it’s in the NHL–if everyone can pay the same amount to the same amount of players, its the small nuanced differences that matter,” Leonsis told a crowd of local business owners at George Mason University.

If the currently salary cap of $56 million were a hard cap, and teams could not exceed that limit under a number of nuanced exceptions, the Celtics would have to cut almost $23 million in salary. Essentially, they’d only be able to pay their starting five. In case you haven’t figured it out, this would be bad news for the C’s.

LeBron James: Big Baby

Ran across this picture yesterday and found it pretty funny. Nice job by this kid …

NBA Jam redux

Failed marketing and harsh criticism have led EA Sports to postpone the release of the new version of the 1993 2-on-2 NBA Jam video game, NBA Elite 11, indefinitely. The move could cost the company as much as $60 million. That’s more than the current NBA salary cap, for the math-challenged out there.

In case you missed it, EA Sports released the rosters for the game, and the Celtics are one of only nine teams that include four current players–Pierce,Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen–plus two legends (Larry Bird and Kevin McHale). ESPN.com’s Marc Stein surmised that you may be able to unlock Shaq as a hidden player. In the original ’93 version, if you’ll recall, the C’s roster featured Reggie Lewis and McHale.

Let me ask you this: How does EA Sports screw up a 2-on-2 basketball game? The original version was probably the greatest video basketball game ever (other than maybe Double Dribble), so why not just update the graphics and players, and move on. That would be too simple.

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Training camp report: Getting defensive 09.29.10 at 5:08 pm ET
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Tom Thibodeau is gone but his defense remains. (AP)

Tom Thibodeau is gone but his defense remains. (AP)

NEWPORT, R.I. — A day after working through sweltering conditions at Salve Regina, a bit of normalcy returned to the Celtics on the second day of their workouts. Doc Rivers felt that it was a good, crisp practice and the focus was on–what else?– defense.

Tom Thibodeau is no longer with them, having left to coach the Bulls, but don’t expect the Celtics to change much defensively.

“We’ll keep it the same,” Rivers said. “Thibs and I toward the end of last year wanted to make some changes, but it was in the middle of the year so we decided not to. So we’ll make those changes now as a group. Other than that there will be very few changes.”

There are two points of emphasis for the C’s in camp. They want to lower their opponents field goal percentage and pressure the ball fullcourt. The two things are related.

“We went from No. 1 in field goal percentage defense to No. 9 last year,” Rivers said. “We want to get that back to No. 1. We have to pressure more. Our first year and a half we pressured the ball up the floor. Kevin [Garnett] was up the floor pressuring. Due to Kevin’s injury we got away from that completely.”

Garnett looks healthy in the early days of camp. “Night and day,” is how Rivers put it. “He’s explosive again, especially defensively.”

Without fullcourt pressure, the Celtics gave teams the whole 24 seconds on the shot clock to get into their offense and that left them defending for 18-19 seconds in the halfcourt. Rivers wants to see that down to 12-14 seconds.

“We really didn’t pressure the ball up the floor,” Rivers said. “You got [Rajon] Rondo on the floor and Kevin to shadow and we couldn’t do it last year. That’s a huge concession for our team.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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