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Doc Rivers gets good news after biopsy 10.19.10 at 8:15 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers underwent a biopsy Sunday morning at Massachusetts General Hospital after his doctor found a spot on his throat three weeks ago. The good news for the coach is that the results came back clean.

“They found cancerous lesions,” Rivers said after the team conducted an open practice for season ticket holders at TD Garden. “They had to make sure there was nothing there, and there was nothing, so I’€™m good. I’€™m going to be around for a while it looks like.”

Rivers said that he has his throat checked every year after prompting from former Celtics coach Jim O’Brien. “I think most coaches should because we yell, use our throat a lot,” Rivers said. “That makes you more susceptible to it. I’€™m glad I did it now.”

The Celtics had said that Rivers had a “minor throat procedure” done to relieve pressure on his vocal chords. He was not at practice Monday, but returned to the team Tuesday night. Assistant coach Lawrence Frank did most of the on-court coaching while Rivers watched from the sidelines.

“I like Lawrence as my megaphone,” Rivers joked.

Rivers is expected to coach the team Wednesday night when the Celtics play the Nets in their final preseason game at the Garden.

FINAL ROSTER MOVE COMING

Rivers said the team would probably make its final roster decision after Wednesday’s game. There is only one roster spot up for grabs and the competition is mostly between Von Wafer and Stephane Lasme. Veteran Mario West is also in the mix.

“It’€™s between a couple of guys,” Rivers said. “You can figure it out.”

On Wafer, Rivers said, “He’€™s been more aggressive offensively. He still has to buy in defensively, and into our culture. I think he’€™ll do that. He’€™s getting better.”

The Celtics also added Tiny Gallon, a second-round pick from Oklahoma who was recently waived by the Bucks to a non-guaranteed deal.

“I know nothing about him honestly,” Rivers said. “I know Danny [Ainge] is going to look at him. I think he’€™s doing it more for that.”

INJURIES

Delonte West said he is getting better, but he won’t play Wednesday night. West will not be eligible to play in a game until Nov. 17 against Washington after he serves his 10-game NBA suspension.

Jermaine O’Neal also won’t play. He did not participate in practice Tuesday and he is battling a number of injuries.”That’€™s rest, that’€™s injury, that’€™s disappointing, to be honest,” Rivers said.  “He has not had the preseason that we would have liked him to have so far, sometimes you can’€™t avoid it.”

SHEED CHECKS IN

The Celtics got a visit from Rasheed Wallace who watched practice from the sidelines and chatted up Kendrick Perkins while Perkins rode a stationary bike. The crowd of season ticket holders and sponsors gave him a “Sheeeeed” call for old time’s sake.

Read More: Doc Rivers, Jermaine O'Neal, Stephane Lasme, Von Wafer
Practice report: Sharpening the tools 10.18.10 at 4:35 pm ET
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The Celtics are a little more than a week away from their much-anticipated regular season opener against the Miami Heat at the Garden. They have already played six preseason games, but after surviving a four games in five days road trip that included a quasi-home game in Hartford, the C’s are ready to get down to business with a week’s worth of practices.

“It’€™s a good time for us,” Paul Pierce said. “We can sharpen our tools.”

The news out of Monday’s practice was the surgical procedure underwent by Doc Rivers Sunday morning to ease the tension on his vocal chords. Rivers was home resting Monday, and there’s no word yet on when he will return. As expected, Rivers did leave a practice plan for his coaches, and under the eyes of Lawrence Frank, Armond Hill and Kevin Eastman, the C’s went through a two-hour practice session.

Of immediate importance is getting the players back and healthy for the start of the season. Delonte West returned to Boston for tests on his back last week and Frank said that West responded favorably. Still, West sat out practice as did rookie Avery Bradley who is dealing with the affects of an offseason ankle scope. Marquis Daniels was also limited at practice to non-contact drills. He’s dealing with rotator cuff soreness.

Jermaine O’Neal (hamstring) and Shaquille O’Neal (soreness in hips) practiced fully.

“We’ve got to get everybody back on the court,” Pierce said. “At the same time we’€™ve got a few nagging injuries that we’€™re taking care of right now. I think it’€™s good that we get them all out of the way. We’€™re right on schedule I believe. I’€™m confident about opening day, if it started today.”

Here are some points of emphasis for the final week of preseason camp: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Paul Pierce, Shaquille O'Neal, Stephane Lasme, Von Wafer
Stephane Lasme’s added motivation 10.12.10 at 3:10 pm ET
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BOSTON — Surely, Von Wafer and Mario West are motivated to make the Celtics roster, but Stephane Lasme is playing for something more.

Training in Italy this summer for Russia’s Spartak Saint Petersburg squad, Lasme — a citizen of Gabon — was informed that if he didn’t return to the United States and land a year-long job, he could lose his residency.

“My wife and my baby are American,” the 27-year-old Lasme said after Sunday’s 91-87 win over the Raptors. “To get a chance to see them, I basically have to get a job here.”

Playing for teams in Serbia and Tel Aviv ever since he failed to make the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat in 2007-08, Lasme decided to return to the U.S., even if that meant a “big, big, big” pay cut.

“I had to make a choice between seeing my family or not seeing my family and taking that much money,” said the 6-foot-8, 220-pound former UMass forward. “For me, the choice is obvious. I’m gonna see my family.”

Even if Lasme fails to make the Celtics roster, he could stay relatively close to his wife Anastasia and 17-month-old Lily in Marlborough, Mass. A new NBA rule would allow the C’s to sign him — along with two other players — to their Developmental League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

“Even if I don’t make the team, I’m going to stay around,” said Lasme. “(Signing with the Red Claws) is an option that I’ve thought about with the new rule. Maine is not that far away from home.”

It’s appearing more and more likely that Lasme won’t have to worry about that. Wafer’s minutes have declined in each preseason game, and West has contributed little in two brief stints. Meanwhile, Lasme has made his presence felt, significantly.

After totaling 12 points and four boards in just seven minutes in the opener, he threw down a highlight-reel dunk over Andrea Bargnani in a key moment of Sunday night’s victory over the Raptors. He’s looked downright Leon Powe-esque, and that’s a good thing (remember 2008?).

“I like him a lot,” C’s head coach Doc Rivers said after the game. “I do. He just does everything. He has energy. He has a high basketball IQ. He’s athletic. He’s probably our most athletic player. … He has a great shot at making our team. He’s terrific.”

Capturing Atlantic 10 Player of the Year honors after averaging 13.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.1 blocks as a senior, Lasme concluded his college career as UMass’ all-time shot-blocking leader, over Marcus Camby. Since then, he’s added to his game, and if the Celtics keep him around, he’ll get to show off the skills he learned in Europe over the last two years.

“I’ve had a couple of good coaches who have tried to develop my game in the summer, and I think it’s worked out pretty good,” said Lasme. “I’ve worked a lot on my ball-handling and shooting. I know I haven’t shot the ball (from the outside) yet, but I’ve worked a lot on those two aspects. The more I play, the more I’m going to get a chance to show that.”

In all likelihood, he’ll get that chance.

Read More: Doc Rivers, Mario West, Stephane Lasme, Von Wafer
Tony Gaffney on the move 10.04.10 at 10:26 am ET
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The Celtics officially announced the release of Tony Gaffney Monday morning and it appears the UMass product is headed to Turkey.

Gaffney, like a number of young players, is trying to crave out a role in the NBA. His strengths–defense and rebounding– would be welcome additions to most teams, but while the Celtics certainly value those traits they are also loaded at his position where he was already behind Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis.

The C’s feel like they need shooting and that has left Von Wafer with a fighting chance at the last roster spot. Wafer is getting pushed by Mario West, a defensive specialist who walked on at Georgia Tech and survived three seasons with the Hawks. West has played 156 career games and scored 132 points, so scoring is definitely not his thing.

But West can guard small forwards and that is a greater source of need for the Celtics than what Gaffney was able to provide.

Read More: Mario West, Tony Gaffney, Von Wafer,
Training camp report: Getting defensive 09.29.10 at 5:08 pm ET
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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 »

Read More: Delonte West, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal, Von Wafer
Celtics: Irish Coffee at 8:58 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

You’d think everything was painted green in Tommy Heinsohn‘s world, but truth be told the Celtics legend does more than just color for his former team. He’s a talented artist, as detailed in this NECN piece.

Tommy recently entered some of his work into an art show that benefited a charity in honor of his late wife, the Helen J. Weiss Scholarship fund for art education amoung children.

“I do something in art every day,” he told NECN. “If it’s only for five minutes.” It’s his relaxation, he joked, from all those terrible referees in the NBA. There’s not enough Tommy Points to give it for that.

Oh, and you’ll never guess Tommy’s prediction for the 2010-11 season. “If they can put on the floor what’s on paper,” he said to NECN, “we’re gonna win a title.”

Training Camp: Day 1

The Celtics practiced for three hours in a hot and humid gym yesterday at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I. An evening walk-through got pushed until this morning. The news? The veterans’ conditioning is the biggest question going forward, Jermaine O’Neal worked mainly with the starters and Kevin Garnett “just looked explosive,” according to Doc Rivers. “He had his hop back.”

Following the practice, Shaquille O’Neal tweeted, “First day is over, the truth and ray allen didn’t miss a shot, daaayum I wish I was a shooter.”

That’s a far cry from Von Wafer‘s tweet at 2 a.m. the morning before practice: “jus woke to use the bathroom back to sleep big day tomorrow.” Thanks for the update, Von. Wafer reportedly tweaked an ankle during the first day of practice.

According to the Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star, the C’s are waiting for a letter from FIBA Europe that will clear Chris Johnson to participate in training camp. The 6-foot-11 LSU product apparently attended practice yesterday but didn’t participate. His agent said the process normally takes seven days, and the Celtics sent the letter last week, while Johnson was reportedly participating in unofficial workouts in Boston.

Magic impressions

Members of the Orlando Magic were quick to point out to Fox Sports Florida that the East does not belong to the Heat. The Celtics, if you remember, are the returning Eastern Conference champions …

Dwight Howard: “I got tired of [hearing about the Heat] as soon as LeBron said he was going to Miami. Our discussions are not about Miami and what they’re doing. Our discussions are about what we are going to do to win a championship. What are we going to sacrifice? How are we going to play night in and night out so we can win a championship? We’re not banking on beating the Miami Heat or saying, ‘Hey we need to beat the Heat.’ That’s not our concern.”

Stan Van Gundy: “I don’t think anybody is doubting Miami’s talent and the fact that they’re going to be a serious challenge, but we don’t doubt Boston’s talent or them being a serious challenge. Or Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee, Philadelphia [or] Washington. There’s a lot of people who got better in the East. I think the challenge only rises, and I think we’re very confident in ourselves as a team and we look forward to those challenges ahead.”

J.J. Redick also made interesting comments to the Orlando Pinstriped Post during the Magic’s Media Day …

“I still have a bitter taste in my mouth,” he said. “I don’t know if we could have beaten Boston last year because we didn’t play our best game. We just–we got our butts kicked. … [Toughness is] a big reason why Boston beat us. It’s mental, man. Those guys were tougher mentally than us during that series.”

Top 10 All-Time Celtics

A Lakers fan ranked the top-10 Celtics of all-time on the Bleacher Report (similarly, a Celtics fan ranked the top-10 Lakers of all-time). As shocking as this may be to the person who commented on the Antoine Walker link in yesterday’s Irish Coffee (to quote: “Felger is an idiot but he isn’t stupid like weei people INCLUDINg this writer who was never around befoerw [sic] KG”), Antoine did not crack the top 10. Neither did Dino Radja. I kid. I kid. Paul Pierce did make the list. Who do you think was left off?

Putting a Price on Rondo’s jumpshot

The Herald’s Dan Duggan tweeted, “Rajon Rondo didn’t work out with Mark Price this summer. Said he didn’t do anything special to work on his shooting, but feels good about it.” Jay King at Celtics Town makes a good point: “Why would we even WANT Rondo to do something special to fix his jumper? I mean, it’s not like he shot 21.2% from behind the arc last season. It’s not like defenders were able to sag off him and clog the lane. It’s not like Rondo gives Shaq a run for his money as the worst free throw shooter on the Celtics.” Here’s to hoping Rondo was kidding.

Chicago Bullish on Thibodeau

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls players are getting more than an earful from former Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau.

“He’ll talk for like two or three hours, so you have to shorten your conversation with him real quick, come up with a good lie or something,” Derrick Rose told the Tribune. “Have one of your friends call you and say you gotta go pick him up or something.”

There’s no hint of green envy in Thibodeau’s eyes any longer. Asked if he’d occasionally wear the 2008 championship ring he won with the Celtics, he said, “I have to find it first. That was then. This is now. We want to build championship habits. It’s a lot of rhetoric to talk about. The real serious teams do it every day from how they practice.”

Read More: Chris Johnson, Rajon Rondo, Tom Thibodeau, Tommy Heinsohn
An older, more mature, Von Wafer 08.10.10 at 2:30 pm ET
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For many the enduring image of Von Wafer in an NBA uniform is when Rockets coach Rick Adelman sent him back to the locker room during a playoff game. Wafer apologized the next day, but the damage had been done.

The Rockets didn’t renew his contract, even after a breakout year in which he averaged almost 10 points a game, and he spent a year in exile.

“I just acted out at the wrong time,” Wafer said. “I love Coach Adelman. He’€™s the first coach who gave me an opportunity to play. I never talked back to him. I just acted out at the wrong moment. It cost me. It cost me a lot. That just can’€™t happen.”

Wafer signed with a team in Greece, but he bought his way out of his contract and his attempts to return to the NBA were thwarted when it was reported that he failed physicals in Memphis and Houston. The Mavericks eventually did sign him to a 10-day contract but he never saw action.

Wafer said that he’s fine physically and that mentally he’s a much stronger player. He knows he has a lot to prove this season.

“I didn’€™t want to go out that way,” he said. “A lot of bad things were said about me. That’€™s why I’€™m here early trying to get ready. This is a big year for me. I can’€™t go out like that. I’€™ve got too much pride. I’€™m more mature now. I know how this business works. You work hard, keep your mouth shut and stay out of trouble and you’€™re going to be blessed and fortunate.”

The biggest knock on Wafer is his defense, which he also acknowledged. “Not good,” he said. “I’€™ve heard bad things about my defense. I think I’€™m an okay defender. The name of the game is putting more points up on the board than the other team.”

Wafer will find out soon enough that okay doesn’t cut it defensively with the Celtics, but he is more prepared for the challenge.

“I had a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs, but it made me stronger,” Wafer said. “I actually became a better basketball player last year. Most people might not believe it, but mentally, I’€™m definitely better. Physically, that will come, but the mental, I needed that.”

Read More: Von Wafer,
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