|Not so fast on Shaquille O’Neal return but hope remains for Delonte West Wednesday||03.05.11 at 2:34 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Shaquille O’Neal will likely not be able to return to the Celtics lineup on Wednesday after all, coach Doc Rivers said following Saturday’s practice. Rivers indicated he was hoping to have both O’Neal and Delonte West back by Wednesday to help them begin getting playing time to gear up for the playoffs.
“Probably not going to be ready Wednesday because his foot is bothering him a little again,” Rivers said. “Delonte, we’re hoping Wednesday.”
O’Neal has missed the last 12 games and has been out since Feb. 1 with a sore right lower leg and sore right achilles tendon. West missed his third straight game Friday with a sprained right ankle. Glen Davis shot free throws following Saturday’s practice but is still nursing patellar tendinitis in his left knee and is expected to miss several more days of practice while Von Wafer, who injured his right calf during Friday’s win over the Warriors is still in a walking boot.
The team also informed center Chris Johnson that they will not renew his 10-day contract for now as Doc Rivers announced the priority is to sign a back-up point guard.
|Fast Break: Celtics escape, but continue to progress||03.04.11 at 10:00 pm ET|
With each passing day, the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson begins to look a little better from the Celtics‘ perspective. Word came down today that Robinson had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and will be out 4-6 weeks. Considering the fact that the Celtics traded four players who are injured (including Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden) and replaced them with healthy players, that’s already a net positive.
But what about the on-court results? New center Nenad Krstic has already shown his value as an offensive threat and against the Warriors on Friday night, Jeff Green had his coming out party. Green, who had scored just 18 points in his first three games, erupted for 13 in the first half and finished with 21 points in 28 minutes.
Despite some anxious moments at the end, the Celtics have now won four games in a row after their 107-103 win (recap) and while they would certainly like to close games out better, they’ll gladly take the wins while sorting things out.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Ray Allen should take more days off: The veteran sharpshooter took Thursday off from practice as a precaution. Doc Rivers said that Allen told him his legs were feeling a little sore so Rivers told him to hit some golf balls. Allen showed up for Friday’s game wearing a compression sleeve on his right leg, but any concerns soon evaporated as he made his first seven shots and finished 9-for-13 with 27 points.
A glimpse of what Green can do: The problem for the Celtics and their new forward is simply one of opportunity. Beyond playing the minutes behind Paul Pierce, what else can they do with him? That’s a question Rivers raised Thursday at practice and really, there isn’t a good answer.
But with Glen Davis out for a few days with a strained knee, Rivers used Green with the starters and it resulted in unreal production. Of all the things Green provides, the ability to get out on the break with Rajon Rondo is the most appealing and the two connected for a series of highlight-worthy plays. Unlocking Green’s potential is one of the priorities of the last six weeks and Friday night was a positive step.
Paul Pierce’s quiet excellence: Just another 27-point, seven-rebound night for Pierce, who is the glue that holds everything together.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Troy Murphy will need some time: Murphy has now played 26 minutes and missed all seven shots that he’s attempted. Rivers said he wanted to run him until he dropped and he’ll have to keep giving him minutes while he figures things out on the fly.
Von Wafer strains his right calf: It never ends for the Celtics. After dropping seven points in just six minutes, Von Wafer limped off the court with what the team called a strained right calf. There was no immediate update on how long Wafer will be out, but he did not return to the game. That’s a tough blow for Wafer, who has played well in limited opportunities this season.
Second half fades: It happened late in the third quarter against the Suns, but this time the culprits were the starters as they allowed the Warriors to almost erase a huge lead late in the game. Monta Ellis scored 41 points, tying the mark set by Kobe Bryant for most against the Celtics this season. The Celtics escaped, but this late-game trend needs to stop.
|Glen Davis, Von Wafer give Celtics just enough reserve in the tank||02.14.11 at 10:18 am ET|
Instead, Davis had 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting – with one very embarrassing miss – and Wafer was 4-for-5 and had his most important game as a Celtic with 10 points, including a pair of huge 3’s in an 85-82 win over the Heat.
Forget the fact that the Celtics leap-frogged the Heat back into first in the Eastern Conference. Sunday was significant if for no other reason than the Celtics had every reason – and excuse – to lose this game.
Paul Pierce – as we found out after the game – was really banged up and it showed as he missed all 10 shots from the field. Rajon Rondo turned in another all-world performance in 43 minutes of action but Doc Rivers couldn’t really rely on Nate Robinson who played just five minutes. And Avery Bradley played the final nine seconds of the first quarter.
That left it up to Davis and Wafer.
With the Celtics up 71-61, Wafer nailed a 3-ball for the Celtics’ final points of the third. He also gave the C’s their first three points of the fourth on another jumper from long range.
Davis’ big moment came even later. With 6.3 seconds remaining, Davis was fouled by LeBron James, who had just missed 1-of-2 free throws that could’ve tied the game. Instead, Davis had a chance to put the C’s up three, where a 3-pointer wouldn’t beat them.
He drained both, even with some talking going on in front of him from the Heat.
‘You want to be in those positions,” Davis said. “That’s why you practice so hard, that’s why you get in the condition.
‘We’re just trying to play the game like it’s supposed to be played. You know these are two of the best teams in the NBA. We got a lot of things to accomplish, getting over injuries, just trying to get better every day. We have 31 games left, we need to go out there and try to play 31 perfect games until the post-season starts.”
The more serious Wafer said there was an important message behind Sunday’s win.
‘It says that we shouldn’t have lost the last two games,” Wafer said of the losses to the Bobcats and Lakers. “It’s kind of frustrating, but it’s already done so we just have to move on and work with what we got.’
Rivers was just happy his team found a way with the team missing Daniels, both O’Neals, Delonte West, Robinson and a banged-up captain in Pierce.
“The bench won the game in the first half,” Rivers said of his team’s seven-point deficit in the first quarter. “They got us back into it. You know, it was amazing watching the two units play; the first unit was kind of dragging, obviously, and I thought all of them except for Rondo ‘ and then the second unit comes in and we don’t change anything; they just ‘ everything was quicker, harder, more desperate. And they made things happen.
“I thought in a role-reversal they showed the first unit how we were going to have to win this game. And then I thought our first unit took it from there. But Von and Baby were absolutely huge for us and terrific.’
No discussion of Sunday’s game and Davis would be complete without mentioning what happened with 10:30 left in the second quarter. Davis, who played remarkable defense all day, stole the ball from Dwyane Wade and his reward was an open court to go to the basket for an easy two – except for the fact that he left the floor on the wrong foot and missed the lay-up/dunk in front of gasping crowd. Whoops.
‘That was just what it was,” Davis smiling in very good humor. “I missed it, I went up the wrong way too. I can’t wait to see it on ESPN Not Top 10 that was a classic one. I was laughing. I’m glad it happened cause it kind of got me going in the game’
And may have just helped the Celtics register the most significant win of the season.
|Celtics prepare for life without Marquis Daniels||02.09.11 at 4:22 pm ET|
“It puts us in a terrible spot,” Rivers said after practice Wednesday. “Going into the year, that was the area of concern because we knew we were one injury away from being very thin and unfortunately it happened.”
The Celtics simply don’t know how long Daniels will be out after he suffered a bruised spinal cord during Sunday’s game with the Magic. Team president Danny Ainge said they would hopefully know more next week after Daniels consults with various doctors and is offered an array of medical opinions.
“The Marquis situation is still a little bit up in the air,” Ainge said. “We’ll probably know more in a week or so what’s going on there, what’s going on in Marquis’ mind, get some different opinion from doctors. That is complicated and the fact that we don’t have Delonte [West] healthy, that complicates the matter as well. We’re thin now. If we had Delonte and Von [Wafer] we’d be fine.”
Ainge expressed confidence in Wafer’s ability to handle the backup small forward role, but Rivers was a little more skeptical.
“He’s not big enough to be that guy,” Rivers said. “We’re going to have to do something. We worked on it today and I’ve been here seven years and you’ve seen me trap probably 10 times. We’re going to have to start trapping, which weakens your defense. I hate it. But we worked on it today and we’re going to work on it every day until we get another [small forward].”
There are still a few ways for Rivers to get creative with his lineups. “It depends on who we have, and what we can get away with honestly,” Rivers said.
He can play a small lineup with Ray Allen in the spot alongside Rajon Rondo and either Wafer or Nate Robinson. He might consider going the other way and using Glen Davis in the spot. Of particular concern is Sunday’s game with the Heat and a certain someone named LeBron James.
“When Paul goes out, somebody’s going to have to guard LeBron,” Rivers said. “We don’t have that someone.”
|Irish Coffee: The transformation of Von Wafer||01.11.11 at 11:17 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Optimus Prime. Wheeljack. Von Wafer. The name even sounds like a “Transformers” character.
For Doc Rivers and the Celtics, that’s exactly what he is. Wafer left Houston as an established offensive player and came to Boston as a defensive project.
‘He played very well for us,” Rockets head coach Rick Adelman said prior to Monday night’s 108-102 defeat of the Celtics. “He was a real spark off the bench. He won a lot of games for us. He’s a guy who once he gets comfortable he’s a real threat. I think eventually he’s going to help them.’
In 2008-09, as a member of the Rockets, Wafer played 20 minutes a night, averaging 9.7 points in 63 games — including 11 starts. He even hit a clutch 3-pointer that sunk the Celtics almost two years ago to the day. This season, with this Celtics team, he might not get more than five minutes on a given night.
“Whether you play five minutes or 15, you’ve got to play hard,” added Adelman. “You’ve got to make a contribution to the team. Some guys don’t feel like that. They feel like they have to get minutes to help the team. You can’t do that.”
When Wafer first arrived in Boston, he fell into the camp of guys who felt like they needed minutes to contribute — and by contribute, he meant score. After all, that’s what Adelman wanted from him in Houston.
“He’s unbelievable,” Wafer said of his former coach. “He just let me do whatever, let me be who I was. It didn’t matter how many shots I missed. He just let me play.” Even at the expense of his defense.
|Von Wafer, Delonte West will have contracts guaranteed||01.05.11 at 8:23 pm ET|
The deadline for non-guaranteed NBA contracts to become guaranteed contracts is Jan. 10, but because of procedural matters, players would have had to have been waived today. The two Celtics in that position are Delonte West and Von Wafer, both of whom are on one-year minimum contracts. Guaranteeing West’s deal West was a no-brainer, but Wafer’s status was in some doubt until today.
Wafer scored a season-high 10 points on Monday, which didn’t hurt his cause but he had begun to come around in practice. “I think he earned it,” Doc Rivers said. “He earned the right to be here. Even before he was playing, he was really working on being a better player in practice.”
Wafer said he didn’t think about his situation.” I never really thought about it,” he said. “Whatever’s going to happen is going to happen. That’s when it starts affecting you is when you start thinking about it.”
|Fast Break: Celtics outlast Minnesota||01.03.11 at 10:05 pm ET|
The Celtics won’t get any style points for their 96-93 win over the Minnesota (recap), but no one will care about that in April. And after not closing out a similar game against New Orleans in their last home game, it was a win they were happy to get.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Paul Pierce came alive: After a dreadful start, Paul Pierce made his first shot with two minutes left in the first half. The second half was a completely different story as he made 5-of-8 shots and scored 15 points in the third quarter. Pierce made only one shot in the fourth quarter, but it was a huge 3-pointer.
He finished with 23 points, six rebounds, three assists and a very smart foul in the final seconds that prevented Michael Beasley from getting a good look at a 3-pointer.
Von Wafer: Wafer had his best stretch of minutes this season in the second quarter when he scored four points and emerged as the Celtics’ best rebounder (this was not a difficult honor to achieve on Monday). Still, Wafer showed some of the ability that has kept him employed by the Celtics this season. His timing couldn’t have been better because the deadline to guarantee contracts for the season is approaching next week.
Rajon Rondo is finding his groove: It seems clear that Rondo isn’t 100 percent back to being Rondo. Before the game Doc Rivers suggested that Rondo’s ankle would probably bother him all year. What remains to be seen is if he can recapture his explosiveness. He only took four shots and rarely drove to the basket.
But even in a reduced role, Rondo is still a great facilitator (he had 16 assists) and adept at finding, and exploiting mismatches. He worked Shaquille O’Neal against Kostas Koufos every time the opportunity presented itself.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Rebounding: This was predictable. Kevin Love is the best rebounding forward in the league and the Celtics were without Kevin Garnett, who is the second best. But, the Celtics got killed on both the offensive and defensive glass and Love had more rebounds (15) in the first half than the Celtics had as a team (14).
But the Celtics also got killed on the defensive glass for the second night in a row, which is not something they can afford to have happen. Even without Garnett.
Glen Davis tried to do too much, again: Love destroyed Davis on the boards, and Davis didn’t do himself any favors by getting into foul trouble and launching too many jump shots. It has been a rough transition into the starting lineup for Davis, who had a not-as-good-as-it-looked line of 17 points on 7-for-15 shooting. One rebound in 30 minutes told a much different story.
Bench woes: In 29 minutes of court time, Nate Robinson and Luke Harangody took eight shots between them. They missed all of them. Neither player registered an assist, either. Thankfully for the Celtics, Wafer supplied some offense and a whole lot of energy off the bench. Robinson did make two clutch free throws in the final seconds to put the Celtics up by three for the game’s final margin.
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