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2014

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Post Game Links

Celtics 79, Lakers 83: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Common bond: Unique path to Finals helps develop C's

BOSTON -- There will always be an empty feeling that eats away at those who wind up on the losing end of the NBA Finals. It's simply unavoidable. But given time, that feeling will eventually lose its hunger, finding its resting place in the memory banks of players and coaches alike.

That's the special part about being who we are as people -- we will always remember the moments that hold great meaning in our lives.

For the Boston Celtics, their Game 7 defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers will certainly be one of those moments, but the painful memory of that loss will be forever stored behind countless joyful memories that were gathered along the way.

Players, coaches and team personnel gathered in the visiting locker room of the Staples Center just before midnight Thursday night after a difficult loss to the Lakers in the decisive game of the NBA Finals. As you can imagine, there were no smiles to be found in any corner of the room. The emotions could be described in one word by Ray Allen.

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- Marc D'Amico

NBA Finals Game 7 Preview: Celtics at Lakers

Millions of numbers are crunched during an NBA season, from measurements at the combine to standings during the season, to probabilities and statistics based on nightly occurrences. None of that matters anymore.

When the clock strikes 9 p.m. Thursday night and the Celtics and Lakers meet at mid-court on the Staples Center floor, there is a single digit that will reign supreme. On this night, 'one' will be the magic number.

Two dominant cores, each playing for one of the two most storied franchises in NBA history, need only one win to achieve all-time greatness, and they both have only one game to do so.

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- Marc D'Amico

C's face Game 7 without Perkins

LOS ANGELES - When Kendrick Perkins boarded the team bus to Wednesday's practice with a pair of crutches, reality set in for the Boston Celtics. They'd be facing Game 7 of the NBA Finals without their enforcer, the anchor of their defense and biggest paint presence.

When Paul Pierce took to the podium before Wednesday's practice at STAPLES Center to address the loss of Perkins, Pierce said that the team knew after Tuesday game that they'd be facing Game 7 without their center. But rather than dwell on the loss, Pierce said the injury just means that someone else, anyone else, would have to step up if the Celtics are going to win their 18th World Championship.

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- Peter Stringer

Post Game Links

Celtics 67, Lakers 89: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Nothing easy - Celtics falter as Lakers force Game 7

LOS ANGELES -- With a chance to close out the NBA Finals in Game 6, the Celtics got crushed on the glass and the scoreboard Tuesday night, falling in an 89-67 defeat that wasn't even as close as that lopsided score might suggest.

The Lakers win tied the series at 3-3, and now, if the Celtics are going to hang Banner 18, they'll have to do it theatrically, on the ultimate stage: Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

"Before the year I'm sure if you had asked the Lakers would they take a Game 7 at home, they would say yeah," Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said. "They would have taken a Game 7 anywhere for the championship. And we would have said yeah, as well. We would have obviously loved it at home more, but we're not there. So you know, we're both probably in a game that we'd like to be in. If you told the teams that that's where you had to be, I think we'd both take it."

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- Peter Stringer

NBA Finals Game 6 Preview: Celtics at Lakers

It took 104 games to get here, but the moment has finally arrived. The Boston Celtics have their first opportunity to take home their 18th championship banner at 9 p.m. tonight in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

The Celtics split two games in Los Angeles to start the series off and then did what they needed to do at home to put them in this great position. Winning the final two games of the season in the TD Garden has given the C's two chances to close out the Lakers, albeit both will come on the road.

Boston is 3-3 during this postseason in possible close-out games, including an 0-2 record on the road. To take the final step toward the Larry O'Brien Trophy, the Celts will need to change that fortune in LA's Staples Center. And if Game 5 was any indication, this is a team that is certainly up to the task.

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- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Lakers 86, Celtics 92: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

C's ride Pierce to brink of title

BOSTON -- Exiting the parquet floor for the last time this year, Paul Pierce held one finger aloft and told the story everyone in the building already knew:

"One more."

With the series heading back to Los Angeles and the Celtics staked to a 3-2 lead, the next two games are both potential close-out games for Boston. And while on paper they have two chances to win the series, they're looking at Tuesday's Game 6 the same way they looked at Game 4 and Game 5 -- they're all Game 7s to the Celtics.

"Bottom line is when they won Game 3, every next game is a must game," Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said. "Each game is a Game 7. That's how we have to approach this game."

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- Peter Stringer

NBA Finals Game 5 Preview: Lakers at Celtics

Passion. Intensity. Desire. These are the components of a champion, and they are exactly what propelled the Boston Celtics to a Game 4 win Thursday night at the Garden.

There is no doubt that the Lakers possess these qualities, too -- neither team would be here if they didn't -- but at this juncture of the series, where each team has won two games, you have to think that the Celtics now have the edge in those categories moving forward.

We all know that Boston's stars can light the fire under the C's at any given moment. But during Thursday night's series-tying victory, it wasn't Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Rajon Rondo who played the role of game-changer. Instead, it was a powerful performance by four bench players paired with Ray Allen. That fivesome, which was led by Glen Davis and Nate Robinson, put together a 25-12 run to start the fourth, which turned a two-point deficit into an 11-point lead.

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- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Lakers 89, Celtics 96: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Fresh combo: Baby, Nate spark C's in fourth

BOSTON -- At first, you thought "danger!" Now, you might be thinking it was a Godsend.

When Nate Robinson was acquired from the New York Knicks on Feb. 18, 2010, he was inserted into the locker located in the far left of the Boston Celtics' dressing room. While Robinson now sits in that locker jamming out to music during pregame, the man promptly located to his right is Glen "Big Baby" Davis.

Prior to Robinson's arrival, everyone had heard about his possible maturity issues as a young point guard. And everyone already knew that Davis was nicknamed Big Baby for a reason, as he trots around on a daily basis exuding his inner child.

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- Marc D'Amico

Sans whistles, C's outmuscle Lakers in Game 4

BOSTON -- Tommy Heinsohn must have loved Game 4.

There was tons of physical play, plenty of Tommy Point-worthy dives to the floor and extra efforts, a 1950s hook shot off the glass, and a referee even got punched -- accidentally, but still -- and oh yeah, and the Celtics beat the Lakers 96-89 to tie up the NBA Finals at 2-2.

For three games, discussion surrounding the NBA Finals was largely about refs and whistles going "Woo-woo!" In Game 4, get this: players decided the outcome in a slugfest and the Celtics were finally comfortable; they pounded the Lakers on the inside en route to a thrilling victory at the Garden.

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- Peter Stringer

Pregame Coverage

Media Access

The best news for Boston that came out of the conclusion of Game 3 had to be the fact that Andrew Bynum, who had been playing some of his basketball of the season during this series, re-aggravated his injured right knee.

Bynum entered this series having dealt with a slightly torn meniscus throughout the playoffs. He had the knee drained on Monday, May 31 -- prior to the start of the Finals -- and the procedure clearly relieved some of the stress he was feeling due to an excess of fluid in the knee.

But at some point during Game 3 the Lakers center tweaked the injury and he certainly wasn't the same afterward. The tweak of the knee seemed to have come at some point near the middle of the third quarter. Bynum finished the game with nine points and 10 rebounds, but none of those points and only three rebounds came after the 8:09 mark of the third period. There's no better indication of how he was dealing with the injury than his limited statistics.

However, Phil Jackson stated during his pregame comments that Bynum would give it a go tonight. Still, though, both Bynum and Jackson have no idea what they'll get out of the 7-footer.

"We'll try to get him six, seven minutes at the beginning of the game," Jackson said. "He likes to get out there and participate and get the feel of the game, and we'll see how he goes from there."

If the decision for him to play or not play, and there's not even an idea of how the knee will react, you have to think that Bynum will be very limited tonight for the minutes when he is on the court. That could force the Lakers to send Lamar Odom on the floor to play power forward, shifting Pau Gasol over to center. That lineup would help the Celtics rebound better, but as Doc Rivers noted tonight, the Lakers like that lineup. In fact, that's the lineup Rivers says Los Angeles often uses to close games out.

"I think the reason you saw Lamar Odom the other night is because he was playing well, and I think it's who's playing better," said Rivers. "Same thing with us, with Perk and Baby and Rasheed. There's no difference with them. It's clear when Odom is playing well, they tend to like to finish the game with Odom and Gasol on the floor because it spreads the other team's defense. They like doing that."

They may like doing that, but the Celtics may wind up liking it, too. Although Odom would help spread the floor for Los Angeles, the Celtics have Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis who are capable of guarding him. Boston will have a much better chance to attack the glass if Bynum cannot perform to his accustomed level, and it should be able to keep up with the Lakers in all other areas as well.

- Marc D'Amico

NBA Finals Game 4 Preview: Lakers at Celtics

With Game 4 on the horizon and the Celtics facing a 2-1 deficit in the series, they know there is one thing they must do to swing these Finals back in their favor: stay out of foul trouble.

Through three games of the Finals, Boston has been decimated with foul woes, varying from player-to-player on any given night.

In Los Angeles, Ray Allen was condemned by whistles in Game 1, followed by Kevin Garnett in Game 2. They combined to score 18 points in their respective foul-plagued contests.

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- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Lakers 91, Celtics 84: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

KG finds flow but Celtics fall in Finals Game 3

BOSTON -- The Celtics had a fever heading into Game 3.

The only prescription? More Big Ticket.

After two mediocre games and comments from Pau Gasol that he'd become a jump shooter and had "lost some of his explosiveness," Kevin Garnett erupted offensively Tuesday night, scoring 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Garnett scored the first six points of the game on three straight possessions, helping the Celtics jump out to a quick 12-5 lead in the opening minutes.

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- Peter Stringer

Pregame Coverage

Media Access

The Celtics may have taken home court advantage away from the Lakers with a road win in Game 2, but this may be the best situation Los Angeles could dream of to try and take it right back in Game 3.

While Boston adjusted to West Coast time for a full week, Los Angeles was living a normal day out there. Now, the Celtics had to come back to the East Coast and adjust themselves for the second time in eight days, while the Lakers are just playing this game at 6 p.m. on their mental clocks -- and on their first full day on the East Coast.

Simply put, it was an extremely difficult turnaround for both teams, but even more so for the C's. Doc Rivers knew how tough it was, so he gave his players some simple advice when they got back to Boston Monday evening.

"I told them go home and get some sleep," said Rivers. "This turnaround is a tough turnaround for everybody."

The last time the C's had to adjust to an East Coast-West Coast time differential was in Game 1, and they certainly didn't look like themselves at any point in that game. Rivers noted that his team has "learned [its] lesson," so let's hope they come out with the energy they displayed in Game 2 tonight.

Speaking of energy, Rivers gave a ton of praise to Glen Davis for that very characteristic during tonight's pregame. Big Baby came off the bench during Game 2 and put up eight points and seven boards while Kevin Garnett struggled with constant foul trouble. While Rivers noted Davis' constant hustle, he also acknowledged the fact that those types of plays might be the only way Baby can be effective in this series due to the Lakers' size.

"He was great with his energy," Rivers said. "You know, he's not going to be taller than anyone in this series. [The Lakers are] a long team..."

Oddly enough, despite that length differential, Davis has been the more effective player in this series between he and Garnett. That trend will most likely lose its legs, as Garnett isn't one to stay cold for too long, but the C's will need Davis' energy off the bench tonight and moving forward if they are going to become NBA Champions once again.

- Marc D'Amico

NBA Finals Game 3 Preview: Lakers at Celtics

The Boston Celtics did exactly what they needed to do on the road, winning Game 2 and snatching away home court advantage from the Los Angeles Lakers. Now it's time to take care of business back home.

Game 3 is set to tip off at 9 p.m. tonight in the Garden, with the winner inching within two wins of another NBA championship.

We've seen throughout the season that the Celtics can win in many different ways, but Sunday night's 103-94 victory over the Lakers in the Staples Center may have been the most difficult route of all.

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- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 103, Lakers 94: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Stint on bench sparks Rondo's game

BOSTON -- Rajon Rondo will be the first to tell you that the more he plays, the better. Tonight, however, a stint on the bench for the Celtics point guard may be the reason the NBA Finals just got a lot more interesting.

Thirty-six minutes of intense basketball and 144 points were already in the books for Game 2, and Rondo was the only player on the floor for every bit of it. While every other player gained their rest with sporadic substitutions throughout the game, Rondo was stuck refueling his tank during timeouts and stoppages of play.

At some point, though, that's simply not enough, and as the third quarter came to a close Doc Rivers knew he needed to make a move.

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- Marc D'Amico

He got Game 2 - Allen rains 3s as C's knot series, 1-1

LOS ANGELES - Thanks to foul trouble, a frustrated Ray Allen barely touched the basketball in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. But it seemed like he had it every possession in the first half of Game 2.

Allen hit his first seven 3-pointers of the game Sunday night and finished with eight on the evening, setting a new NBA Finals record in the process. He dropped 27 of his 32 points before halftime and carried the Celtics to a 54-48 lead at the break, positioning his team to withstand a Lakers run and then finish them off in the final minutes for a 103-94 win that tied the series at 1-1 and stole home court advantage.

"He was unbelievable. He just looked like a basketball player who was...somebody took his ball last game," Celtics Captain Pierce said after watching the display from Allen, who had just 12 points while coping with foul trouble in Game 1 on Thursday. "I think he wanted to come out here and prove something and I think he showed us that Ray Allen is a future Hall of Famer and one of the greatest shooters to ever play."

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- Peter Stringer

Pregame Coverage

NBA Finals Game 2 Preview

You've probably already heard the fact that Phil Jackson is 47-0 when winning Game 1 of an NBA playoff series. Trust us when we tell you that No. 48 could be a lot different.

Although the Celtics gave one of their poorest, if not the poorest, performances of the playoffs in Game 1, they've surely got the firepower to battle from behind and take a seven-game series. Heck, the C's have already done it during this postseason against the NBA's best regular season team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The experience, ability and will to win are all there, and it'd better be on display at 8 p.m. Sunday night in Game 2.

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- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 89, Lakers 102: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

NBA Finals Series Preview: Celtics vs. Lakers

BOSTON -- Back in 2008, when the USA won the gold medal in the Beijing Olympics, the team sported a starting five that rivaled the Dream Team. Not a single team in the world could defeat them -- including the then-World Champion Boston Celtics.

So instead of beating that team as a whole, the C's have opted to chop them down one-by-one two years later during the 2010 NBA Playoffs.

Boston has taken down the likes of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Dwight Howard in succession through the first three rounds of the playoffs, and now it's time to take on a fourth starter from that USA team, Kobe Bryant, in the NBA Finals. That's about as difficult a run as you can come up with, but the Celtics wouldn't have it any other way.

Series Preview

- Marc D'Amico

Rajon Rondo bolts from unknown to unstoppable

BOSTON -- If Rajon Rondo's career path were a No. 2 pencil, it'd currently be sketching a lightning bolt on its accompanying canvas.

Let's start from the bottom of that bolt, where Rondo played the role of a relative unknown, a castoff in the distant shadows behind three legendary players during the 2008 NBA Finals.

Rondo navigated through that maze of a playoff run as a wide-eyed, second-year ball handler whose job was simply not to lose a game for the resurgent Celtics. He wasn't asked to win games -- his legendary peers would take care of that.

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- Marc D'Amico

After days of hype, C's ready to begin Finals

LOS ANGELES - On the last day of practice before the NBA Finals begin, both the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers met with the media to answer basically the same questions they've been hearing for the last three days.

The answers haven't changed much either.

In a series of this nature, with hype of this magnitude and history this rich, it's pretty easy to get lost in the storylines that don't have much to do with the actual basketball games themselves. While people wanted to know about the 2008 Finals, or Paul Pierce's random encounter with Phil Jackson over the summer and the celebrities who frequent Lakers games, there were very few direct inquiries about what will actually happen when Game 1 tips off tomorrow night.

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- Peter Stringer

For Pierce, second Finals homecoming still special

LOS ANGELES -- Paul Pierce's childhood as a die-hard Lakers fan is well documented, but he put aside any emotional conflict about being a Celtic a long time ago. And having already beaten the Lakers as the Finals MVP, he's already been there and done that.

But that doesn't make this year's return to the Finals any less special.

As Pierce addressed a horde of Boston media after Monday's practice in Waltham about an hour before the team departed for the West Coast, the captain was all smiles about heading home on another big-time business trip.

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- Peter Stringer

Celtics return to Finals with history on horizon

LOS ANGELES - Some say it's not the destination, but the journey that matters.

If that's the case, the 2010 playoff run may stand up in retrospect as being more interesting, more inspiring and even more memorable than that of 2008. While no Celtic directly involved in both voyages is willing to compare them until this magical ride concludes, there's no rule saying that the rest of us can't, right?

Two months ago, there appeared to be no line on the horizon for the 2010 Boston Celtics, and the sun was setting fast. They were a team with an early curfew on prom night; allowed a first round win but little else beyond. Now, they find themselves right where they thought they'd be all along: back on center stage at the big dance trying to win another title before midnight strikes on the New Big Three era.

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- Peter Stringer

Historic rivalry features fresh matchup

BOSTON -- The NBA will get a taste of deja vu when Game 1 of the NBA Finals tips off Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.

For the second time in three seasons and 12th time overall the Celtics and Lakers will be meeting in the Finals to determine the NBA's champion. And while we're two years removed from Boston's triumph over Los Angeles in 2008, many of the pieces remain the same.

Nine of the 10 starters that take the court Thursday night -- barring any unforeseen injuries or lineup changes -- will be identical to what we saw the last time these teams met in June.

The one starter who is flying solo in the "First Trip to the Finals" charter, though, may be the most important player in the series.

When the Lakers knocked off Orlando to win the 2009 NBA Championship, praise was handed to Lakers swingman Trevor Ariza for locking down the opponent's best wing player, providing energy and scoring big buckets. As his hype skyrocketed, so did his contract demands, and as his services ascended to a new level of worth, Los Angeles realized it could spend similar money on other, more established players.

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- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Magic 84, Celtics 96: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame Coverage

Media Access

In less than 48 hours, Glen Davis has gone from concussed and stumbling to physically fit for an NBA playoff game. If that sounds hard to believe to you, you're not the only one.

Doc Rivers' entire pregame media session was essentially devoted to Davis' concussion and his fellow teammates' injuries. The fact that Davis has gone from game-time decision this morning to definite just a couple of hours before tip off had some media members wondering.

The ones who aren't wondering, however, are the Boston Celtics. Davis was put through a slew of tests over the past two days to measure his physical state, and he did well enough to make doctors clear him for action tonight.

"I know he had to see several doctors to get clearance," said Doc Rivers. "We don't have the same rules, obviously, as football, because they wear helmets and they actually do try to hit each other. Our game, you're not supposed to get hit on the head. So, hopefully he's not hit on the head tonight."

Other Celtics who suffered injuries during Game 5 are Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels, while Tony Allen continues to recover from an ankle twist he suffered earlier in the series. Although they aren't 100 percent, Wallace and Allen will be available for tonight's game, and as Rivers noted, if they're dressed and on the bench, they're definitely fit to play.

"Listen, if they're in a uniform, they're good," said Rivers.

Daniels isn't good, and he may not be for a while. Rivers revealed frightening details that Daniels incurred tingling sensations in both his feet and hands. As anyone would realize, that's a "dangerous" situation, as Rivers called it, and the Celtics will be ultra-protective in Daniels' attempt to come back and be available to play in future games.

Not surprisingly, the other hot topic was Kendrick Perkins' technical fouls. He was assessed two during Boston's Game 5 loss in Orlando, but one has since been rescinded, making him eligible for tonight's game. Had that tech not been rescinded, Perk would have faced a mandatory one-game suspension for racking up seven technical fouls in the playoffs.

That was great news for the C's, but Perk -- and his coach -- were deeply upset that both of those Game 5 technicals weren't rescinded. The first came on a play where his hand slipped off of Paul Pierce's wrist as Perk was helping his captain off of the floor, which landed an inadvertent elbow into Marcin Gortat's stomach.

"Complete it was an accident," Perkins said. "I didn't do that on purpose. It was an accident."

No matter what it was, it's in the past and Rivers noted that there's nothing his team can do about it now. Perkins is going to need to keep his cool for the remainder of his playoffs, and he might even bring a new tactic onto the court.

"...Might need to smile a few times," he said with a smirk.

Hopefully he'll be smiling after the game, too.

Game Preview

- Marc D'Amico

The Celtics stayed over night in Orlando after Wednesday night's Game 5 loss to the Magic, and had an afternoon film session before returning to Boston late Thursday afternoon.

The team did get good news about Kendrick Perkins, as the NBA rescinded his second technical foul from Game 5, meaning that he stands at six technicals, not seven, for the postseason. Given that seven techs would have resulted in an automatic one-game suspension, Perkins is now once again eligible to play in Friday night's Game 6 at the Garden.

As for the status of Glen Davis, who suffered a concussion thanks to an errant elbow from Dwight Howard in rebounding action, Doc Rivers told reporters on a conference call today that Baby would be a "gametime decision", as would Rasheed Wallace (back). Rivers sounded less optimistic about swingman Marquis Daniels, who was also concussed during Game 5.

Post Game Links

Celtics 92, Magic 113: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Magic 96, Celtics 92: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame Coverage

Media Access

Tonight was a very unique pregame experience, as I had some time to catch up with some former coworkers from my time in Orlando. One of the more lengthy conversations I had was with the Magic's radio play-by-play voice, Dennis Neumann.

Neumann and I chatted in depth about the series to this point, and we both agreed on the fact that Orlando's success -- or lack thereof -- hinges on Rashard Lewis' abilities on offense. He has been limited to only 15 points in this series, and as Neumann put it, he's just "not comfortable."

In addition to Lewis' inability to shoot the ball effectively or get rid of his poor body language, he hasn't been able to take any shots in the paint or get to the line. Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis have completely neutralized him, and as a result, Orlando is struggling offensively.

As far as tonight's game goes, we might see the first quarter be the deciding factor. With Boston ahead 3-0 in the series and the Magic playing in a difficult environment, it wouldn't be a stretch to think that they could fold (kind of like they did in Game 3) if they fall behind early on.

"Get yourselves comfortable, try to knock the other team on their heels," Rivers said of getting out to a quick start. "We've put an emphasis on that throughout the playoffs, but obviously in a close-out game it means that if the team that has a chance to close out is up in the first quarter, that their focused on playing basketball and not thinking about the results."

The Celtics have shown phenomenal focus throughout their 14 playoff games to this point. If they can do it one more time tonight, they should be one foot in the door of the NBA Finals.

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Magic 71, Celtics 94: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame Coverage

Media Access

Tonight's pregame was the quietest in recent memory, as we were only able to catch up with Ray Allen and Doc Rivers. Allen spent most of his time chatting to reporters about his concerted effort to eat healthy -- we'll spare you the details -- while Rivers actually spoke about the series at hand.

As has been noted since the onset of this series, Boston's ability to defend Dwight Howard one-on-one might be the most critical factor between these two teams. One of the players Rivers has stuck on Howard defensively is Glen Davis, who gives up two inches in height and even more in length against the Defensive Player of the Year. Many think that's a disadvantage to Davis, but Rivers actually thinks it helps him against centers such as Howard and Shaquille O'Neal.

"He has a pretty good center of gravity -- a low center of gravity, and it's effective," said Rivers. "He has the ability to get into people's legs. He's the strongest guy on our team in that way."

Tonight, his ability to use that low center of gravity against Howard, along with some help from Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace, is going to be key in Boston's ability to slow down Orlando's offense yet again. Holding the Magic to 90.0 PPG through two games is incredible considering the lethal shooting ability they possess, and Rivers knows that even if the C's can continue to defend Howard with one man, Orlando is going to shoot the ball better at some point.

"They're going to get it going at some point," Rivers said. "We try to prepare our guys all the time to try to win a game when the other team plays its best, and that means everybody -- Dwight scores, Rashard gets the ball, they're making 3s. Sometimes you have to find a way to try to win that game."

Obviously, the goal is for that game not to happen tonight, but if it does, let's hope the C's can beat the Magic when they're at their best and take a commanding 3-0 series lead.

- Marc D'Amico

Despite swirling media, Celtics staying humble

While the rest of the world concentrates on Twitter controversies, Doc Rivers is focused on keeping his team's mindset in the right place.

Media outlets from all over the country have become fixated on statements that came from Paul Pierce's mouth moments after winning Game 2 and a statement that came from his twitter account while he sat with his arms on the table at his postgame press conference -- a clear indication that it did not come from him.

The statement on Twitter has been verified as the work of a hacker, but the topic continues to be a hot one nonetheless. Pierce knows that the entire situation is being blown out of proportion, including his statements during a postgame interview with ESPN, and that he knows all too well than to take a jab at a quality opponent through any form of media. Instead, he opts to utter his trash talk to the players themselves -- on the court.

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- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 95, Magic 92: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Taking cue from Captain, Celtics' confidence, chemistry growing with each win

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 92, Magic 88: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Cavaliers 85, Celtics 94: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Overshadowed, KG's quiet comeback drives C's to Conference Finals

Pregame Coverage

Media Access

The biggest game of the NBA season, to this point, has arrived. Two heavyweights, the Cavs and Celtics, will enter the ring, the TD Garden, tonight and throw haymakers at each other for 48 minutes. The question is, whose will land?

In the locker room during pregame, Kendrick Perkins told CSN that he believes the team that lands theirs first will be the one that steals this critical win.

"I think the team that attacks first is gonna win it," he said.

No matter who wins it, the W will be the biggest of their season. It's impossible to ignore the stakes at hand tonight. For the Cavaliers, elimination is starting in their face, and with that, the departure of LeBron James might be, too. For the Celtics, an advancement to the Eastern Conference Finals is 48 minutes away, and if they drop this game they'd be stepping into a dangerous Game 7 situation on the road Sunday afternoon.

"We've won in Cleveland twice," Doc Rivers said of a possible trip back to Cleveland. "We don't want to press our luck."

The ramifications of this game are so monumental, in fact, that beat writers from teams that aren't even playing tonight are in the building with press passes. We'll see if they get what they're looking for -- a postgame press conference from James after a loss -- at the end of the night.

As far as the game is concerned, there has been plenty of talk about the Cavaliers making big changes heading into this contest. In Game 5, they threw two curveballs at the C's by sending Zydrunas Ilgauskas (who hadn't played since Game 1) and Daniel Gibson (who basically hasn't played at all) onto the floor. Doc Rivers said that his team is prepared for anything, but he isn't expecting too many changes.

"They're a solid basketball team," said Rivers. "They're not going to change a lot. We shouldn't be shocked to see Varejao maybe in the starting lineup, or him going with size early. But they didn't get this record by doing a lot of changing, I can tell you that."

Game Preview

- Marc D'Amico

Kevin Garnett is The Diff in Boston

"The Diff" is a sly term that Cleveland fans and Quicken Loans Arena use in association with the scoring difference between the Cavs and their opponent during a game.

When the final buzzer sounded on Game 5 Tuesday night, it read "-32" in numerous locations throughout the arena due to Boston's 120-88 blowout win.

On Wednesday, all the way back in Waltham, Mass., "the diff" was still a hot topic, only this time it was of a different nature. This "diff" goes by one name: Kevin Garnett.

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- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 120, Cavaliers 88: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

C's respond to Pierce's aggressive Game 5 outing, blow out Cavs

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Cavaliers 87, Celtics 97: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

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Game 4 has arrived, and the good news, as Doc Rivers said during his pregame media session, is that the Celtics know that they can't play any worse than they did Friday night in Game 3.

The C's came out with a lackadaisical mindset in that game and struggled in nearly every facet. Boston couldn't put the ball in the basket, and they couldn't prevent Cleveland from putting the ball in their basket.

"They had us on our heels all day," said Rivers.

They certainly did, and that happened because LeBron James got a ton of help from his teammates. James scored 38 points, but Rivers believes the C's can beat the Cavs when that happens as long as they limit the production of other players like Antawn Jamison, Delonte West, Shaquille O'Neal and Mo Williams.

Rivers is hoping that the C's can do that, but he's also realistic in the fact that there's going to be a game in this series "where both teams play great basketball." After all, this is the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

You'd have to think Game 4 could be the game where both teams hit their stride, and if that's the case, the C's will have to find a way to beat the Cavs when they're at their best.

Game Preview

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Cavaliers 124, Celtics 95: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame Coverage

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Playoff basketball is unique in its own right -- it's simply a different beast from that of the regular season.

That notion was front and center for nearly all of pregame media access tonight, as every player or coach alluded to that fact. Ray Allen was the first to do so, as he told reporters that these series aren't about who's the underdog or favorite, they're about what advantages each respective team can locate and exploit.

"I think the playoffs are about matchups," said Allen. "When you find a matchup, you have to roll with it, regardless of what the seed is."

The matchup Boston has been rolling with through two games against Cleveland is Rajon Rondo versus, well, anyone. The Cavs have sent numerous defenders his way, from Mo Wiliams to LeBron James, but none have been able to contain the speedy point guard.

Asked during his media session if he expects the Celtics to try to assert Paul Pierce during this game or continue to ride the wave with Rondo, Cavs Head Coach Mike Brown leaned toward the latter.

"Rondo is playing extremely well for them, so they don't have to, but you'd think they'd keep going through him," Brown said. "I would, if I was them."

Although Rondo has arguably been the most dominant player in this series, Doc Rivers doesn't want anyone to lose sight of the fact that, at this point, only two games have been played.

As Rivers put it, "The series is only two games over, so it's early in the series to be crowning anybody."

While the Rondo matchup may be the most favorable one for the C's, the least favorable one, Pierce versus James, is somewhere Rivers believes the team needs to go to more often. James and Pierce typically cancel each other out in terms of points when facing off against each other, but Boston's captain has struggled with scoring the basket in this series. That's something Rivers wants to see go by the wayside tonight, as he told the media that Pierce's offensive prowess will be critical to Boston winning or losing this series.

"We have to get him going, there's no doubt," Rivers said of Pierce's offense. "This will be a very difficult series for us to win without Paul being more aggressive. We've gotten away from it, in my mind, in two games. We know, and everyone else knows here, we need him to be more efficient offensively."

Game Preview

- Marc D'Amico

Garnett, Perkins return to practice; KG looks 'great'

There was a chance that the Ticket Stub was going to be called upon for backup yet again Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but that idea was put to rest this afternoon -- Kevin Garnett is ready to play in Game 3.

After missing Wednesday's practice due to a sprained right mid-foot that he suffered during Game 2, Garnett returned to the court this afternoon for a full practice without limitations. That, as Doc Rivers noted, was completely unexpected.

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- Marc D'Amico

Injury bug follows C's into playoffs

We've seen through seven postseason games that the play of the Boston Celtics has changed quite a bit from that of the regular season, as evidenced by their 5-2 record. One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the team's luck with injuries.

Boston's starting front line of Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins had already retired to the locker room due to injuries by the time media members were able to watch the close of practice today in Waltham. While those two noticeable bodies were missing, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis filled in with the starting group.

The good news is that neither of the players suffered dramatic injuries that will keep them out of the lineup for an extended period of time. The bad news is that the injuries are bad enough to keep both Garnett and Perkins out of practice in the midst of a do-or-die playoff series.

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- Marc D'Amico

Rondo named to 2010 All-Defensive First Team

Just two days after showing his offensive prowess by tying the Boston Celtics' postseason record for assists in a single game (19), Rajon Rondo was honored by the NBA for his play at the other end of the court by being named to the NBA's All-Defensive First Team.

Rondo, who led the league in steals this season with 189, made the jump to the First Team one year after being named to the All-Defensive Second Team in 2009. He was awarded the second-most first-place votes as well as the second-most overall voting points of any player in the league, trailing only Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard (Orlando) in both categories.

Rondo and Howard were joined on the First Team by LeBron James (Cleveland), Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) and Gerald Wallace (Charlotte).

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 104, Cavaliers 86: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Rondo takes the throne on King's night

C's fend off late rally, earn split in Cleveland

- Marc D'Amico

Rivers wants more aggression from C's in Game 2

CLEVELAND - Reflecting on a Game 1 loss that slipped away from them, the Celtics watched film and then took to the floor for practice at the Q on Sunday afternoon, looking to fix what ailed them on Saturday night against the Cavaliers.

Guys talked about doing a better job of stopping LeBron James (35 points) and Mo Williams, but the overall message from the C's was that they needed to be more aggressive and a lot more physical if they're going to earn a split here in Cleveland and steal Game 2 on Monday night.

Coach Doc Rivers said his team didn't go to Rajon Rondo enough in the second half, since he was dominating his matchups for most of the night.

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- Peter Stringer

Post Game Links

Celtics 93, Cavaliers 101: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Series Preview: Celtics vs. Cavaliers

The matchup

BOSTON - The old adage is that you have to play the best to be the best. The Celtics will bring that saying to real life when they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, which tips off at 8 p.m. Saturday night in Quicken Loans Arena.

Cleveland entered the postseason with the best record in the NBA, at 61-21, and eliminated the Chicago Bulls in five games during the First Round, which was the same amount of time it took Boston to oust the red-hot Heat. During their impressive regular season, the Cavs compiled the best home record (35-6) in the league and tied with Boston for the second-best road record (26-15), behind only Dallas.

Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider that Cleveland lost its first two games of the season while integrating new players, and then lost the last four games of its season while resting many of its key players. That means the Cavs, when chopping off those short stints at each end of their schedule, went 61-15 during the meat of the NBA season.

Boston finished the regular season with a 50-32 record but was decimated by injuries after their 23-5 start. The Celtics seem to have found their rhythm lately and didn't look much like a fourth seed against Miami.

But the fact of the matter is that none of those records matter. What matters is that these two teams split their regular season series 2-2, with each team notching one win on the opponent's home court.

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- Marc D'Amico

Far from Wade: C's motivated to stop James and Co.

WALTHAM, MA - News came down today in Cleveland that there is ligament damage in LeBron James' elbow, causing numbness in his arm, and that he will not play in the Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Boston Celtics.

Just kidding, folks; the man is playing.

The official -- and truthful -- word out of the Cavaliers' camp is that James has a strained right elbow and bone bruise of his olecranon. Words like 'olecranon' don't mean a whole lot to the Celtics. All they know is that James is going to play, and they expect him to play at the MVP-caliber level he exuded during the regular season.

"No," said Rivers, while bursting into laugher after being asked if James' elbow would change the series at all. "He's fine. I tell you what, if he goes three or four games and shoots left-handed only, then I'll believe that it's hurting. Other than that, we're going to be ready for the LeBron that we've seen all through the playoffs."

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- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Heat 86, Celtics 96: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

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Whenever a team has an opportunity to close their opponent out early in a postseason series, talk always arises of how important it is to do so in order to secure extra rest for the players. The Celtics are in position to eliminate the Heat tonight for the second consecutive game, but they're not worried about getting extra rest -- they just want to finish this series off and move on to the next one.

"We just want to finish the series -- we want to win the series," said Doc Rivers. "So does Miami, by the way. So the way we look at it is let's just win the series, and I'm sure they're looking at it the same way, but you've got to play the game to do that."

One interesting nugget that Ray Allen gave us is that the extra time off isn't as important for the players as it is for the video coordinators for these teams. Allen singled out the Celtics' video coordinator and said that the extra time off would be extremely beneficial to him.

"You've got to ask the video guy this question," is what Ray Allen responded when asked about how important the extra time off would be. "Our video guy, Brian Adams, is the one thinking, 'Rest... I need a little bit of rest.' Because those are the ones, those are the guys that don't get the credit that they deserve. The guys that put together the portfolios of the other teams, because once you go from one series to the next (they have to put those together)."

Outside of the talk of finishing a series off early, we got a lot out of Glen Davis -- who is currently getting a late workout in right now, 40 minutes prior to tip off -- regarding the art of taking charges. He spoke at length about the technique of taking a charge, the outlying factors that affect his ability to take a specific charge, and how every now and then, it's more about selling the charge to the referees than it is to actually taking the charge.

"If he's going into the lane and he runs at me," said Davis, pointing at a local media member who doesn't quite resemble an NBA player, "I could just stand there and be like 'I'm not going to move.' I'm just going to have my head straight up and he's going to run up and just run straight into me and I'm not going to fall back, because I can do that, I'm big enough to do that. But if he runs at me, it's a charge, but you've got to sell (it)."

Taking those charges have become a staple of Davis' game, and Ray Allen thinks that those plays should be accounted for statistically.

"It should be a stat," said Allen, seeming as if he just went through an epiphany. "It should be a real stat that we look at, because -- (James) Posey was great at it, Glen (Davis) is great at being in position and taking a charge -- it should be a stat because if I have somebody take a charge on me, I get the turnover. And the other person, not that he needs it, you get the ball, but, it should be a stat because you create another possession for your team."

Taking some of those charges tonight could help the C's lock this series up, and who knows, maybe it will give Brian Adams some extra time to load up the video logs, too.

Game Preview

- Marc D'Amico

Free throws, defense reign supreme in Waltham

WALTHAM, MA - There were two major reasons the Boston Celtics couldn't finish off a sweep of the Miami Heat Sunday afternoon: free throws and Dwyane Wade.

As expected, those were two of the most prevalent topics at this afternoon's practice.

The Celtics wrapped up practice by running a few offensive sets with the first team, and when Doc Rivers was satisfied he called the team in for their session-closing huddle. There wasn't a whole lot we could hear from our position up above the court, but there was one direction that was unmistakable and echoed by numerous voices: 50 free throws apiece.

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- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 92, Heat 101: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

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MIAMI - It's an early start in Miami for Game 4, and for the Heat and Dwyane Wade there's plenty of questions swirling around, particularly about whether or not today might be Wade's last game with the Heat. Wade will be a free agent this summer, so there's a chance that Wade could bolt for greener pastures to a team where he'd have a more well-rounded supporting cast.

But the more relevant question to this series however, would be if Jermaine O'Neal has left already. O'Neal was banged up to close the regular season and has been an absolute non-factor for three games; he's averaging just 4 points and 6 rebounds per game against the Celtics in the postseason. Moreover, he just seems to be second-guessing himself out there, missing bunnies and failing to convert inside.

According to Head Coach Erik Spoelstra, O'Neal might be second-guessing himself, but his coach isn't going to blame the team's 0-3 deficit on his veteran big man.

"He does a good job keeping out all of the voices and opinions that are out there," Spoelstra said. "He has 14 years of proven work in this league, and he has been beating himself up so much over not being there for us these three games, and it's not all his responsibility. That is a lot of pressure to put on yourself."

Meanwhile, with the Celtics on the verge of a sweep, there were few questions for Doc Rivers in his pregame address. All the talk was about a sweep, but Rivers said his focus is on getting that fourth win, whenever it might happen.

"The bottom line is just trying to get to four games. If it's tonight, great," Rivers said. "The key is the first team to do it wins the series and that's what we have to focus on."

- Peter Stringer

Post Game Links

Celtics 100, Heat 98: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Sweet jumper: Pierce gives C's 3-0 lead in Miami

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MIAMI, FL - On the whiteboard in the Celtics' locker room, there's a simple message, more than likely left by Assistant Coach Armond Hill. "Offense: Do what we do." It sounds obvious, but it's something Doc Rivers and his coaching staff preach repeatedly. Doc often calls it "running our stuff" and other teams call it sticking to the gameplan, or some other analagous platitude. Either way, when the Celtics say that they want to "do what they do", it usually means that they've either gotten away from their offense, or just aren't executing well or simply playing hard enough.

Rivers said before Game 3 that his team didn't do enough of "doing what they do" on offense in Game 1, but they certainly did so in Game 2's blowout win. So the reminder on the whiteboard was more about maintaining a carryover from the last game. Perhaps it's easier written than done, but to this point, with a 2-0 lead heading into Miami, the Celtics have done what they needed to do and protected their home court.

Rivers pointed to rebounding as a key for the Celtics in Game 3, noting that the C's can't afford to let the Heat get into their transition game. "Miami is one of those teams where if you turn the ball over you should just write 'two points' because with (Dwyane) Wade in transition, there's a very likely chance he'll score. On the road you have to win all the hustle points and can't lose the turnover game."

The obvious question now is how this team will perform on the road in the playoffs, something it struggled with especially in 2008, when the Celtics went two full rounds without getting a victory away from the Garden. Rivers told the press he doesn't think about it much but said he knows that the guys in the locker room who were here two years ago remember it well.

The big difference between Game 2 and 3 for the C's, aside from the change in scenery with the move to Miami, is the return of Kevin Garnett after his one-game ban following the altercation at the end of Game 1. Rivers said he expects his big man will keep his emotions in check, and noted that the altercation from Game 1 felt like "a long time ago."

Down the hall, Erik Spoelstra said that the Celtics had taken Miami "out of our normal comfort zone" and noted that the Heat are at their best with "multiple players being aggressive, looking for their opportunities" and when the ball is moving.

"However we get it tonight, we just have to get a win and get back into this," Spoelstra said.

- Peter Stringer

C's smell blood as series shifts to Miami

Championship teams are triggered by the smell of an opponent's blood. With their senses heightened and their aggression in full swing, championship teams thrive when that situation presents itself.

The Boston Celtics were triggered by that scent Tuesday night against the Miami Heat and they responded with a 106-77 blowout win, which put them ahead 2-0 in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series. Now it's time for the C's to do it again, but this time they'll have to do it in their opponent's territory.

As numerous Celtics noted at Wednesday's practice, that task will be much more difficult to complete in Miami, where Game 3 will be played, than it was in Boston. The C's know this because they've been in this situation once before.

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- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Heat 77, Celtics 106: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

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There has been speculation since the moment Kevin Garnett was suspended Sunday evening regarding who would be his replacement to start Game 2, and we finally have the official answer from Doc Rivers: Glen Davis.

Davis, who sparked the Celtics in the fourth quarter of their Game 1 victory with his energy and hustle, was chosen over Rasheed Wallace to be the starting power forward. Rivers said that there's one reason and one reason only why he chose Davis over the more experienced postseason player in Wallace.

"I just think he moves his feet bette," Rivers said of Davis. "Wade alone was involved in 36 pick-and-rolls in the first game, so we'll assume he'll be involved in 36 more, at least, and you just needed a quicker big."

The reason the Celtics need those quicker feet on the floor is because Michael Beasley, who will be looked upon to be the Heat's second option on offense, is a very athletic big man who can score in many different ways. Beasley accounted for only six points in Game 1, but Rivers is expecting to see a much different version of him on the floor tonight.

"You've gotta think tonight he's going to be very aggressive," Rivers said. "Even with Kevin (Garnett) I think he'd have been aggressive, but without Kevin you've got to just assume tonight he's going to be extremely aggressive."

For the first time since being ousted from the Eastern Conference Semifinals just less than a year ago, Glen Davis will be asked to step in and deliver in a critical way for the Celtics in the playoffs. If anyone knows Davis, who Monday reminded everyone of his "Ticket Stub" alter-ego, they'll tell you that he loves the limelight and usually steps up his game when being relied upon.

Tonight is that exact situation, and everyone wearing green tonight in Boston has to hope that Davis can deliver the way he did during the Celtics' 2009 Playoffs run.

Game Preview

- Marc D'Amico

Let the mind games begin: Rivers, C's mum on KG replacement

WALTHAM, MA - Will it be the "Ticket Stub" or will it be the "Wily Veteran?" That is the question.

With the expected suspension of Kevin Garnett being handed down by the NBA Sunday evening, Doc Rivers is now forced to answer that question when he etches in his starting lineup for Tuesday night's Game 2 against the Miami Heat. His two options to replace Garnett are Glen Davis, who is the self-proclaimed "Ticket Stub" (a moniker he bestowed upon himself while filling in for Garnett last season), and Rasheed Wallace, who proclaimed himself as the "Wily Veteran" at Monday afternoon's practice.

No one is spilling the beans on which of those two players will claim the starting power forward position Tuesday night - although they probably already know - but there are leads pointing in both directions.

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- Marc D'Amico

Boston happy with a 1-0 lead, but aiming to improve

WALTHAM, MA - The Boston Celtics held practice Sunday afternoon in Waltham with a 1-0 lead over the Miami Heat in their First Round playoff matchup. That first game featured everything from runs, to unexpected heroes to technical fouls (six of them, to be exact) and there is sure to be plenty of fireworks during the rest of the series as well.

The C's, however, spent their post-practice media availability doing everything they could to dispel those possible fireworks. Kevin Garnett admitted that he acted out of character, even if he didn't mean to elbow anyone, Paul Pierce said that all he can do is play basketball, and Doc Rivers said he hopes the rest of this series can be filled with physical, clean basketball.

All of those notions are highlighted in this piece, but there was plenty of other information that came out at today's practice.

First and foremost, the Celtics have not heard from the NBA regarding any possible suspensions for Game 2. No one knows if that's a good thing or a bad thing, so we'll just have to wait until the league makes an official announcement.

As far as the actual game goes, Rivers was extremely pleased with the fact that his team showed some determination Saturday night. He believes that if Game 1 happened to be played a month or two ago, the C's would have folded and Miami would have taken a 1-0 series lead.

"I was more proud at the fact that our resolve was tested several times in the game. I thought that in the end of the second quarter we started hanging our heads because we were missing shots. And then in the beginning of the third quarter it carried over, and we caught ourselves. We didn't, I called that timeout, but we caught ourselves. During the regular season that was a moment where [the deficit] would have went from [14] to 30. This time it went from [14] to us getting the lead back."

Rivers also pointed out that, although the Celtics played a great game, the Heat missed numerous easy baskets. He knows that his team cannot count on Miami doing that again, and for that reason the defense will need to continue to improve moving forward.

Most of that defensive effort will be geared toward Dwyane Wade, who scored a game-high 26 points in Game 1. His primary defender was Tony Allen, who has been praised for his performance, but even Allen had to clear the air that Wade still recorded plenty of points, rebounds and assists while shooting effectively from the field.

Still, though, the C's have to be pleased with the way they defended Wade, and Allen pointed out that much of that credit needs to be applied to his teammates and not just him.

"I have to credit my teammates," said Allen. "My teammates keyed in on Dwyane Wade and we loaded up when he was coming off of the pick-and-rolls, we loaded up when he was about to catch the ball in transition. Our antennas [were] up, and I have to thank my bigs: Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis and Kevin Garnett. I mean, I've got to thank those guys. Those guys were very talkative yesterday and hopefully they can do the same thing in Game 2."

- Marc D'Amico

Tensions running high, but Celtics keeping cool

WALTHAM, MA - Playoff basketball is a different animal than anything you will see during the NBA's regular season. It bleeds intensity, feeds on physicality and breeds high emotions that sometimes morph into altercations.

That playoff brand of basketball is often used to justify the altercations it occasionally leads to, but in the case of Saturday night's scuffle between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers adamantly refutes that argument.

"Anything physical, any fight, anything... it's amazing how everybody - 'Well it's the playoffs' - that's what everybody says. I don't know if that part was," said Rivers, who was speaking particularly about Quentin Richardson's decision to stand over Paul Pierce and taunt him while he was on the floor in front of Miami's bench. "I don't know if we need that part. There's [40] seconds left in the game, a guy looked like he was hurt pretty bad. You don't need to be over there bothering him. I don't know what that was about."

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- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Heat 76, Celtics 85: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

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There's always a different vibe in the Boston Celtics' locker room when a big game is on the horizon. We all know that every game from here on out will be a big game against a very good opponent, so that vibe was certainly present this evening.

That vibe usually results in us not hearing much from many of the players during pregame, but we did manage to learn the most important news of the night: both teams will be fully healthy for tonight's game, meaning Rajon Rondo and Glen Davis will fight their respective bouts with the flu and give it a go.

Of those two Celtics, Rondo is the one currently experiencing the most serious symptoms. He had not been able to hold down and food or liquids over the past two days, and that didn't change until late this evening. That means Boston's point guard will likely be playing on an empty tank tonight, with far less food and liquids in his system to burn away throughout the game. No one knows what to expect out of him tonight, and that includes Doc Rivers, who is going to play it by ear in regards to Rondo's playing time. We've seen players in the past play even better when they're sick (i.e. Michael Jordan), so maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised with what Rondo can give the team in Game 1.

The C's could probably survive if Rondo isn't able to play big minutes tonight because they are extremely balanced offensively. The Heat, on the other hand, are not, and they'll need their star to be in full force to steal a Game 1 victory in the Garden.

We all know that Dwyane Wade is the go-to guy for Miami and will be the focal point of their offense on nearly every possession. Rivers told reporters that if Wade has performances in this series similar to what he did against the Celtics in the regular season, it's going to be difficult to knock off the Heat. Wade was incredible on offense against the Celtics this season, putting up big numbers across the board. There is, however, one statistic that stands above the rest in Rivers' eyes.

"The number that stands out to us in the three games (we've played against him this season) is, obviously, he shot 50 percent and averaged 33 points [with] a lot of free throws, but the number that really stands out to us (is) he had a lot of assists, and we can't allow him to have both," said Rivers. "That's the troubling number."

Those assists allow his teammates to get into their groove as well, and the C's can't allow that to happen. As we noted in the series preview linked below, Wade may be the leader of the Heat, but he's not the only one the Celtics can worry about. Numerous reporters are trying to peg Michael Beasley as the "x-factor" in this series, but Rivers is having none of that. He believes Beasley is too good to be called an x-factor, and that gives you an idea of how important it is to slow him down in this series, too.

"I think he's better than an x-factor," said Rivers. "An x-factor always tends to say that you're inconsistent. Beasley's a scorer -- he's a scorer all the time."

Series Preview

- Marc D'Amico

C's prepare for playoffs despite flu affliction

WALTHAM, MA - What seemed like a minor bug afflicting only one player has suddenly become a sizeable issue for the Boston Celtics heading into their First Round playoff matchup with the Miami Heat.

Tony Allen, who missed the final two games of the regular season due to the flu, was back on the practice court today, but two of his teammates are now suffering with similar symptoms.

The position where Boston has its largest advantage in this series may take a hit Saturday night, as Rajon Rondo has been dealing with the sickness and may not be at full strength for Game 1.

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- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Bucks 106, Celtics 95: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

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When seeds are still up for grabs on the final night of the season, there's always going to be a conversation about who will play, who will not, and if it's ethical for those options to exist for coaches on the final night of the regular season.

No matter what opinions may be held on that topic, the fact of the matter is that the option does exist, and tonight Doc Rivers is choosing to hold four of his starters out of the lineup. That's right, folks, the Big Three will not play tonight in order to rest them for the playoffs and Kendrick Perkins will sit out in order to prevent a possible 16th technical foul of the season, which would result in an automatic suspension.

The idea that Perkins will sit out tonight for that reason is "obvious," according to Doc Rivers, but what isn't so obvious is what would happen if he did play tonight picked up that 16th tech.

"Perk's at the number; he's at 15 (technicals)," Rivers said. "We can't take the chance, because the league has not told us (what would happen) -- it's never happened, which is surprising to us. They don't know what action they would take. If you get your 16th do you miss the first playoff game, or do you miss the first game of next year? We called yesterday to ask the question, and no one knew the answer."

With Perk and the Big Three watching in street clothes, Rajon Rondo is left as the only Celtics starter who will play tonight, and Rivers made it clear that he's definitely going to play. In fact, when Rivers approached Rondo about his possible playing time in tonight's game, Rondo let his coach know that he needed to play regular minutes tonight in order to get back on track after a poor performance Tuesday night in Chicago. But he's a young guy, as Rivers noted, so he shouldn't feel any fatigue from this game when entering the playoffs.

As far as the Bucks go, Rivers isn't too sure what to expect out of them. Milwaukee and Miami are in a battle for the fifth and sixth seeds in the East, and tonight's outcomes will determine which of those teams winds up playing the C's in the playoffs and which takes on the Hawks. We didn't hear from Scott Skiles during pregame, so we can't relay his thoughts, but we haven't heard any rumblings as of yet about him resting his starters.

In other words, it sounds like Skiles is going to go for the win with his regular rotation, which could result in the Bucks playing in the Garden again this weekend for Game 1 of the postseason. For that to happen, Milwaukee would need to win tonight and Miami would need to lose.

Game Preview

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 93, Bulls 101: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 105, Bucks 90: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Wizards 106, Celtics 96: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

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Pretty laid back pregame in the locker room for a Friday night. Usually the guys are boisterous, loud and willing to chat on a night like this, but most of the C's kept to themselves in the locker room while watching video of the Wizards and/or getting treatment for their bumps and bruises.

One Celtic, however, was open as ever and leaned back in his chair to chat with a few reporters. After chatting with some of the media, Kendrick Perkins cracked a few jokes based on the face that he could tell that the reporters didn't come into the locker room looking to talk to any specific player. He believed that they went after him with questions only after they sat back and thought of things to ask him because he was the only player in the middle of the room.

After razzing a few of the reporters, he cleared the air and let them know that they can chat with him anytime they want, and that he was just pulling their leg.

"I ain't trippin," said Perkins, often the most candid Celtic. "I'm just playing with you!"

After cracking that joke, Perk went back to watching video of the Washington at Orlando game from Thursday night. He noticed right away that J.J. Redick really looked like he was playing confident and strong, and that made him wonder if Redick is in a contract year. Tony Allen chirped in from a few feet away and confirmed that Redick is in a contract year, prompting Perk to say, "You can tell he's in a contract year."

Outside of the little going on in the locker room, we got to hear Doc Rivers' thoughts on who the C's might play in the playoffs. Per usual, he didn't lean one way or another regarding any of the teams, but he did say that his coaching staff can at least know that the possible teams they might meet has been narrowed down to three: the Heat, Bucks and Bobcats.

The team might not know until the final day of the season who they will meet in the playoffs, and he confirmed that that will deter the staff from preparing for the playoffs as they would in normal years. The team doesn't know who they will play, and they also don't know when they'll play. He did note, however, that the lack of knowledge on when they will play their first playoff game will not play an role in their preparations.

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- Marc D'Amico

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Celtics 115, Raptors 104: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

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Celtics 101, Knicks 104: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

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Cavaliers 113, Celtics 117: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

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LeBron James and the Cavs are in town for what may be the most important game of the season, seeing that the playoffs will begin in less than two weeks. While one of the teams that will be playing tonight is in the position they've wanted all season, the other is fighting tooth and nail for the playoff seed they want.

During his pregame media session, Doc Rivers wasn't bashful about letting everyone know that he's envious of the situation the Cavs are in, and he gushed about all of the things Mike Brown can do with his roster as the season winds down.

"I would rather be in the Cleveland spot, where you can play around with rotations, you could rest guys on given nights," Rivers said. "You can almost build your team exactly the way you want to for the first day of the playoffs. Give me that situation all day; I like it better."

Clearly, that's where he'd like his team to be, but the reality of the situation is that they're not. Instead, they're in a dogfight for the third seed in the Eastern Conference and are battling for it each and every night. And although that may be important, Rivers wanted everyone to know that the seedings are not what the team is focused on.

"It'd be nice to have," said Rivers, speaking about the third seed. "We're not focused on the seed, I can tell you that. We're more focused on being ready for the playoffs."

As the last three games have evidenced, the C's clearly aren't where they'd like to be come playoff time, but a win today would go a long way toward putting them right on track to where they want to be.

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- Marc D'Amico

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We caught Rick Adelman just moments after his press conference began, and it sounded as if he's going to be missing numerous players tonight. First off, Kevin Martin won't make his return tonight from a sprained shoulder and Jermaine Taylor will start in his place. In addition to his absence, Chase Budinger will be in the starting lineup in place of Trevor Ariza.

If it is, though, this game may have gone from a 'should win' game to a 'should dominate' game. The C's will have their entire roster healthy, and the Rockets will be only a shell of themselves. Boston will have a substantial height advantage, so watch out for the bigs having a big game.

On another note, Kevin Garnett in a big lighter in the wallet today after the NBA fined him for his comments regarding the officiating during Wednesday night's game. Doc Rivers was asked about the issue and made sure to note that he believes the fineable comments always come about because of our questions, but he also said that he believes everyone should be able to say their thoughts, that way "everybody would be happier."

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- Marc D'Amico

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We weren't sure how much good news we'd hear during tonight's pregame, but there was plenty of it for the C's. Both Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins will be in the starting lineup against the Thunder tonight, which means Boston will have its full starting lineup once again, and that's something Doc Rivers loves to have.

"It's just good to have [Kendrick Perkins] back," said Rivers. "Our starting lineup's record is pretty good when they're all intact, so we like it when we have it. "

Having the starting lineup available once again tonight is huge for the C's, because as we all know, they're in a battle with the Atlanta Hawks for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. If Boston finishes tied with the Hawks when the season closes out, they'll get the nod for that third seed because of a rule change that was recently instated in the NBA. That rule says that in a tiebreaker situation, a division champion will receive the higher seed, rather than the team that has the better head-to-head record.

Asked tonight what he thinks about the rule, Rivers said that he thinks the team with the better head-to-head record should receive the higher seed, but he's not going to argue with the current layout of the rule.

"I think the team that's won the most games between the two should get it, but since it's not that way, I like it," Rivers said with a smile.

Boston isn't worrying about those seedings, because as they continually say, that will take care of itself. If they can pull out a win tonight against Kevin Durant and the Thunder, they will be one step closer to making it take care of itself -- in a good way.

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- Marc D'Amico

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The good news from pregame is that Nate Robinson is "fine" and ready to go tonight, according to Doc Rivers. The bad news is that Kendrick Perkins is not, and he'll miss his second straight game tonight due to knee tendinitis. It sounds like he should be back for Wednesday night's game against Oklahoma City Thunder.

The other interesting clip from pregame media was that Gregg Popovich is making is known that he doesn't support the term "World Champion" on the Celtics' championship banners, or any other major sports team's championship banners, for that matter.

"There are no 'world champions' in the NBA," Popovich said without hesitation. "So anybody that has the flag up that says 'world champions' that's not correct, that's not appropriate. The world champions I believe is the Spanish team, right now. The USA is the Olympic champion. The Lakers are the NBA champion. It doesn't make sense for an NBA team to call themselves 'world champions.' "

There are plenty of similarities between these two organizations (age, experience, aspirations, etc.), but they clearly aren't on the same page when it comes to that topic. I don't see the C's re-wording those 17 banners hanging up in the rafters any time soon...

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- Marc D'Amico

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Just a quick note from tonight's pregame: Kendrick Perkins will not play tonight and Rasheed Wallace will start in his place. The news broke after reporters spoke to Doc Rivers during pregame, so no questions were able to be asked about it. Sounds like this is nothing serios, and that if this was a playoff game, he'd be out there ready to go tonight.

Check out the audio of Rajon Rondo and Rivers over to the right side of this page to hear more from tonight's pregame chats.

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- Marc D'Amico

Tough decisions looming for Rivers

BOSTON - As the NBA regular season winds down and the playoffs approach, 16 head coaches around the league will be hammering down their playoff rotations. The other 14 head coaches can look forward to enjoying the Spring weather at vacation destinations around the world.

Of those 16 coaches who will be roaming the sidelines come the weekend of April 16, Doc Rivers might have the toughest job of all. Not because his players won't be ready for the playoffs -- they will -- or because they have limited playoff experience -- they don't.

No, Doc's job will be tougher than any other playoff-bound coach because his team is different; it's different in a way that most coaches could only dream of, and this coach wouldn't have it any other way.

- Marc D'Amico

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It's nearly impossible to overstate the difficult situation the Denver Nuggets have been forced to deal with for the remainder of the season. Their beloved head coach, George Karl, it fighting a bout with cancer and has been in and out of both practices and games for more than a month. Now, news broke today that he could possibly miss the remainder of the regular season.

Filling in in his absence is Assistant Coach Adrian Dantley, who Doc Rivers said has been thrown into one of the most unique situations he's ever seen in this league.

"I don't know, I can't remember any circumstance like that, to be honest," Rivers said. "Do you coach under your own personality? Do you just try to continue the same voice? I don't know how you'd do that. That's very tough."

Tough is probably a vast understatement, especially considering the players have been listening to that sole voice -- Karl's -- for basically their entire careers in Denver. As Ray Allen added, it's often difficult to adjust to a new voice in any situation. He likened it to a situation we've all dealt with at some point or the other during our school days growing up.

"Sometimes players get that substitute teacher mentality, when you're in class and you take straws out and start spitting spit wads at the ceiling," said Allen. "You just kind of get loose and just allow slippage and small things because you're not hearing that same voice all the time."

No matter how difficult the situation is, as Karl and his team have both reiterated at one point or another since his bout with cancer became public, the Nuggets will need to battle through the adversity for the remainder of the season and do their best to block it out. We're about to see first hand how effective they are in making that difficult notion a reality.

- Marc D'Amico

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Celtics 97, Jazz 110: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Pierce, Gasol named Players of the Week

NEW YORK, March 22, 2010 -- The Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce and the Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol today were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played March 15-21.

Pierce led Boston to a 4-0 week, with wins over Detroit, New York, Houston and Dallas. Pierce averaged 24.8 points -- 6.7 points above than his season average (18.1 ppg) -- on .630 shooting in 26.4 minutes. Pierce also added 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals. On March 20, Pierce scored 29 points and added five assists, three rebounds and two steals in the Celtics' 102-93 win at Dallas.

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- Marc D'Amico

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Celtics 102, Rockets 93: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

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Celtics 94, Rockets 87: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

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Knicks 97, Celtics 109: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

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As you can imagine, most of the talk this evening is surrounding the emergence of Bill Walker in New York. He's averaging 10.6 PPG in 12 games with the Knicks, including three starts, and is shooting the ball at an incredibly effective rate: 59.8 percent from the field, 41.9 percent from 3-point range.

While hearing what Ray Allen and Doc Rivers thought about Walker's play, the most interesting nugget we learned is that the former Celtic almost never got a chance to show his stuff for the Knicks at all.

"[Billy and I] were talking about it and he was asking about should he try and buy out [of his contract with the Knicks] and be a free (agent), and I said, 'No, you've got a chance to play here, and you need to get on the court and play,' " Rivers said. "I told him I thought it was very important that he actually went there and that he'd have an opportunity to play games, and he needed it because you know, he's been injured for most of his career. So he just needed to get on the floor and prove to people that he could play."

It's a good thing Rivers talked Walker into playing in New York, because he's blossoming right now in what Rivers called "probably the most important part of his career."

Rivers was also asked by a New York reporter about how could compare his feelings from the 2006-07 season to what Mike D'Antoni is feeling now. The intended comparison was that the C's, at that point, were losing quite a bit but had a plan for the future. The Knicks are losing right now, and they hope to have a plan for building the future, too.

"We didn't know what was ahead of us," Rivers said of that Celtics team. "At least in their case, they kind of know -- they don't know who (they'll bring in), but they know what they want to do."

All we can say is that if things work out in New York next year as well as they did here in 2007-08, there will be a lot of unhappy Bostonians come June 2011.

- Marc D'Amico

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If you listen to what you read about the Celtics, you'll wind up thinking that they aren't showing enough effort on the court. Believing that, as Doc Rivers says, would be a mistake on the reader's part.

According to Rivers, the Celtics are showing plenty of hustle on tape, and that's not the issue. He believes the issue is instead that the team is getting frustrated too quickly when their effort or positive play isn't paying off in the form of points or defensive stops.

"Just because you play hard does not guarantee you're going to play well, and you've got to hang in there until things turn your way," said Rivers.

That frustration is something the C's will need to control down the stretch this season. After all, showing poise in difficult and challenging situations is a characteristic of nearly every championship team.

Returning to that championship level is something Rivers is confident that his team can do. He cited the team's 23-5 start to the season, saying that it's not like the players' talent has just disappeared. Rather, believes that they're just struggling to re-adapt to the roles they were expected to play when the season tipped off.

"Guys had to change their roles," Rivers said. "We were asking guys who didn't score a lot to score, and now they have to change their roles back. I mean it throws your team off. And then the guys that we're trying to go back to aren't scoring yet, but you have to get them back there."

That statement goes hand in hand with a line Rivers said just minutes earlier when speaking of the team's attempt to return to the play they displayed during that 23-5 start after their plethora of injuries.

"What we've failed to do is be able to do is put it back together again, and that's what we're working on."

- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

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There wasn't a whole lot of talk about the game at hand tonight, that being the one against the Indiana Pacers, but there was a lot of talk about how this team is going to work moving forward. The most overriding theme about the future of the Celtics is that they will be on the practice court a whole lot more than they have been -- and that will happen at all costs.

Kendrick Perkins was the first tonight to speak about how he and his teammates would benefit from more practice time. He told reporters that he understands the team is aging and that rest is needed for the veterans, but he believes they, too, could improve their play with as little as an hour on the court for practice during appropriate off days.

Just minutes later, his coach echoed the exact same thought, and he essentially said that he's going to make it happen even if the extra practice time might play a negative effect on a game the next day.

"I do think we need to practice more; we need to get more conditioning in," said Rivers. "This late in the year it's rare to hear that, but we're one of the teams that you would say, 'yeah, we have to actually do it.' " Responding to a question about whether there is enough time to practice as much as he'd like, Rivers went on to say the following: "No there's not a lot, but we're going to take advantage whenever we can. Even tomorrow usually would be more of a walk thru day, and we're probably going to go hard tomorrow, win or lose tonight. I just think we have to."

It sounds like the movement will begin, as he said, tomorrow before the team takes off for Cleveland. We'll have to wait and see what kind if effect that plays on the C's for the remainder of the season.

On a lighter note -- and a far less basketball relevant note -- Ray Allen did his best to play role reversal in the locker room this evening. Known for his friendly approach to the media both before and after games, Allen sat down at his locker before tonight's game and took 15 minutes to play the role of interviewer, rather than interviewee.

Wondering what the burning questions were inside his head? Prepare yourself, this is deep stufff...

"How do you guys choose what you wear to games?"

Yup, that's what he was dying to hear, and it actually turned into a pretty deep conversation. He wanted to know if reporters dress up or down depending on the type of game that's being played on a given night, such as a nationally televised game, a road game, a game against a poor team, etc.

The answer he got was yes, many members of the press do change their wardrobe based on the type of games. So, now that Allen got his answer, he can now sleep tight tonight. He did, though, seem to enjoy the conversations, so I could see something like this happening again real soon. We'll keep you updated.

- Marc D'Amico

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Sometimes a back-to-back set can be a good thing for a team, especially when the backend comes the night after a tough loss in a playoff-paced game.

That's the exact situation Boston will have tonight in the Garden after an 86-84 loss to Milwaukee last night on the road, a game in which Ray Allen took only three shots. Allen was vocal about how he was upset about the number of shots he took, not necessarily because he didn't get the opportunity to score, but more so because he believes the team suffered offensively due to minimal ball movement.

One player Allen is holding accountable for that issue is point guard Rajon Rondo. He doesn't believe the issue is Rondo's fault, but he does believe that Rondo has the power to solve the problem.

"I told Rondo, I said, 'Offensively, we were real stagnant last night... There's no way this team should score 84 points, no way, not with the offensive talent that we have,' " said Allen, speaking of a conversation he and Rondo had after today's shootaround. "I told him, I said, 'I look at you. You're the point guard. I know Doc is making a lot of the calls offensively, [but] Rondo, you've got to make sure that when we come down the floor that ball goes from one side to the other; that I'm touching the ball, that Paul's touching the ball.' "

Doc Rivers quickly turned down an open invitation to put the blame solely on Rondo as well, and essentially said that it's the team's responsibility to create ball movement on offense.

Rivers also equated Boston's up-and-down play over the past couple of months to the inconsistencies of two of his biggest starts, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

"That inconsistency is going to be there for a while," Rivers said regarding Garnett. "It's getting better, it's getting shorter. Paul is finally starting to get it back, but his inconsistency will be there. And it affects our team, there's no doubt about that. But we have to play through it, and to me that explains more to the up and downs than anything else."

Those two may not be playing at a dominating level every night, but their coach believes that time will come soon enough. And with one quick line, he let everyone know exactly what he needs form that pair come playoff time.

Said Rivers, "If you have to say at the end of games, if you needed two things, you need Kevin to be great defensively and you need Paul to be great offensively."

- Marc D'Amico

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Celtics 84, Bucks 86: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

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Michael Finley may have made his first appearance as a Celtic in front of the media at 6:30 p.m. tonight, but that will be the only appearance he'll be making tonight.

As a result of his physical and contract being finalized so late Saturday night -- at approximately 8:30 p.m. -- Finley hasn't had any time to practice with the team and pick up any of its plays. For that reason, Doc Rivers has opted not to dress Finley for tonight's game, and he isn't exactly sure when the newest Celtic will make his debut, either. The initial goal will be Tuesday night's Milwaukee game, but that will depend on how quickly Finley can pick up the offense and defense.

It may have seemed like the Celtics were going to sign Finley since the moment he was released from the Spurs last week, but even he noted that there were numerous teams, including other title contenders, that contacted his agent. In the end, though, the combination of his already-established relationships with Celtics players and legitimate title contention convinced him that Boston was the place to be.

"As you all know this is a great organization, a great opportunity to play with some great players," said Finley. "It gave me the opportunity to challenge for a title, and those things, combined with just an overall history of Boston, just drew me here."

Finley will wear No. 40 for the Celtics, and listening to him explain the decision process as to what number he'd wear was pretty humorous.

"Well all the good numbers were taken, I was going to go for 33, that was gone, 32 was gone so I decided on 40," Finley said with a smile. "I couldn't get [No.} 4 -- I was two weeks too late to get my No. 4 with Nate Robinson coming over -- so I just added an imaginary zero to it and made it 40."

We should get to see him wearing that number sometime this week, but it's going to take a while to see what niche he carves out on this roster. He and Rivers both mentioned during pregame that neither of them really know what his role will be on this team, but that they're both comfortable with whatever that winds up being.

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics sign veteran swingman Michael Finley

For the third season in a row, Boston has dipped into the veteran free agent market and added depth for a title run, this time in the form of former All-Star Michael Finley.

Finley has averaged 15.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 3.0 APG in his 14-year career, all while shooting 37.4 percent from 3-point range. He will wear No. 40 for the Celts.

Boston will welcome Finley to the team for its 8 p.m. Sunday night matchup with the Wizards in the Garden, but it's unknown if he will play.

Press Release

- Marc D'Amico

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Paul Pierce made a rare appearance in the locker room during pregame media access, and he wasn't shy about taking a seat in front of his locker and talking to the crowd for a few minutes.

Perhaps it was a sign of the captain wanting to make his feelings about the team public. Or he may have just been in the mood to talk to his best buddies (yeah, right!). No matter what it meant, he made one thing clear about the Boston Celtics: home wins are a must over the final month and a half of the season.

"It was crazy, I was looking at the standings last night and we were like the best road team in basketball, or tied for it," he said. "I was like, 'Man, if we took care of business (at home), we'd probably be the best team in the league record wise. That's crazy to me when I look at it like that. So we've definitely got to a better job at winning at home, regardless of if it's blowouts or just winning ball games."

As a result of those struggles at home, the Celtics have put themselves in a tough position for the final 24 games of the season. The good news is that it sounds like they're not just ready for it, they're excited about it.

Ray Allen summed that sentiment up in one easy sentence: "We know that we have an uphill climb, and we're all looking forward to it."

I asked Doc Rivers just moments ago if it will be tough to cut down the rotation after a game like last night, where basically the entire team, from top to bottom, contributed to the win. Even though Kendrick Perkins will be back in the lineup tonight, which makes the team one player deeper, Doc was quick to say that he doesn't have any problems with doing so because he's got the right guys at the end of his bench.

"We have two guys that epitomize professionalism, in my opinion, in Shelden Williams and [Brian Scalabrine]," said Rivers. "Shelden, when [Glen Davis] went down, stepped in and played terrifically; Scal plays whenever you call him. They're both always ready. That's what you want on your team at the end of your bench, and we have that."

- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

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There's a new sign hanging in the Boston Celtics locker room today, and it could hold the words that will drive this team to an eventual second championship in three seasons.

"INDIVIDUALS WIN GAMES BUT TEAMS WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS."

Doc Rivers showed HBO's special, "Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals," yesterday instead of running a practice, and he believes that movie encompassed plenty of moments to remind the C's players that they need to put the team ahead of themselves. From the sounds of it, the players agreed.

"It was all they were talking about, was that those two guys, as far as individual things they achieved great things in life, but it was all just about team with them," Perkins said. "They wanted to win more than anything."

Perk also told reporters that when Rivers asked who was willing to sacrifice their personal agendas for their teammates, the entire team raised their hands.

Outside of that news break, there wasn't a whole lot going on during pregame. Doc Rivers did let everyone know that Paul Pierce will not play today, but he may be available as early as Tuesday's game in Detroit.

- Marc D'Amico

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The biggest news coming out of pregame is that Paul Pierce won't be in the lineup tonight, and he might miss the next couple of games, too.

Although Pierce is in the building tonight, Doc Rivers told reporters that he's just not ready to play yet, and the team doesn't want to take any shortcuts toward getting him back on the floor.

"We want to make sure it gets right," Rivers said. "That's one of those things that (if) it gets hit again it will go back down the road. So we're going to make sure when he comes back he can play, and play at the Paul level that we know."

The good news, however, is that Marquis Daniels will start for the C's tonight. His availability was in question since Wednesday afternoon because he is suffering from flu-like symptoms. The symptoms have receded since yesterday, but he's still armed with a brand new box (extra large) of Kleenex in his locker and has a serious case of the sniffles.

Rivers is unsure of what he'll get out of Daniels tonight, both in contributions and in playing time, so he's prepared to send Tony Allen onto the court to defend LeBron James as well.

Another hot topic of pregame was the retun of Leon Powe to the Garden. Powe spent the summer and the first half of this season rehabbing from a blown out left knee, and he could make his first appearance of the season tonight against his former. He was one of the most popular Celtics off the court when he was in Boston, and everyone you speak to has nothing but kind words about him. One man that who can't say enough positive words about Powe is Rivers.

"I'd like to have Leon next to me on the bench and playing for the rest of my coaching career," said Rivers. "I just think he's that good of a guy to have in your locker room. For me, I just wanted him playing basketball; it was really important for me. I'm just very happy for him."

Powe spoke to the media before the game and, while doing a bit of reminiscing, he sounded like a guy who has moved on and is just ready to play the game he loves. Hopefully he will be able to do that tonight and get the type of standing ovation Eddie House received upon his return to the Garden with the Knicks Tuesday night.

- Marc D'Amico

Paul Pierce, Marquis Daniels both miss practice

For the umpteenth time this season, Doc Rivers had to manage a Celtics practice without numerous key players on the floor. On this day, it was Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels missing from the court, as both are suffering from flu-like symptoms and Pierce also continues to nurse his injured thumb.

That news couldn't come at a worse time, as the C's are also trying to work Nate Robinson and Carl Landry into their system and the Eastern Conference leaders, the Cleveland Cavaliers, are in town for a showdown Thursday night.

Initially, Rivers claimed that Pierce would "definitely" not be available for tomorrow night's game, but he quickly rescinded that statement and left open a small chance that the captain may be on the court for tipoff. Rivers also described Daniels as looking "terrible" today, as he was sent home immediately from practice. His status is also unknown for tomorrow.

The absence of those two players would make things extremey difficult for Boston tomorrow night, as they would be their two primary defenders for the defending league MVP, LeBron James.

"Rondo may have to guard him tomorrow, seriously," said Rivers, joking that his point guard may wind up checking the 6-foot-8, built-like-a-linebacker forward. "If Marquis doesn't play and Paul can't play, I don't know who we're going to put on him."

Rivers' other point guard -- the new one who definitely won't be guarding James unless he's caught there by mistake -- is Nate Robinson. He got his first full practice in with the Celtics this afternoon. He continues to state that the preparation and defensive communication his new teammates display are things he's never experienced in his career.

"[The communication] makes it easier to play defense. It's like night and day," said Robinson. "It's real difficult playing in silence, and with KG and [the other bigs] it makes it easy because they let you know exactly what they're doing, how they're playing, and their preparation before the game is unbelievable."

His coach likes what he's seeing thus far on the floor, but he also needed to stress to Robinson that the team brought him in here to be who he is, not become a new player.

"We got on him a bunch," said Rivers. "Nate's trying to be a passer -- we've got enogh passers. We want him to be aggressive."

Robinson may still be searching for his niche offensively with this team, but he's certainly already comfortable with the fact that he's now part of a team that he believes is the hunted, not the hunter, due to its championship history.

"The Celtics won a championship before, so they know what it takes to get there," he said, responding to if the C's have more pressure on them to beat the conference leader. "LeBron and those guys haven't won a championship yet."

- Marc D'Amico

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Knicks 106, Celtics 110: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame Media Access

As one might imagine, nearly all of tonight's pregame media access was centered around Nate Robinson's arrival in green and Eddie House's return to the TD Garden. But before we get to that, some other big news is that Paul Pierce is out of the lineup tonight due to his sore thumb as well as the flu. Pierce's symptoms from the flu are bad enough that he isn't even in the building tonight. Marquis Daniels will start in place of Pierce rather than Tony Allen, who held down the small forward slot for seven games while Pierce was out of the lineup between late December and early February.

But back those the new guys...

Robinson and Marcus Landry made their first appearance in front of the Boston media at 5:30 p.m. and spoke about their recent change of scenery. Robinson garnered most of the attention from the press, and he made it clear that he's excited about the situation he's been presented with by joining the C's.

"It's a great opportunity or us; we get to learn from some of the NBA's greats right now," Robinson said. "You just gotta take it one game at a time, go out there and play the game that I know how to play, and just learn, keep it going and keep moving forward."

Regarding the change from a losing atmosphere in New York to his current situation in Boston, Robinson went on to say: "It's tough losing almost every night, go in there and get the same questions asked almost every night, you just have to be ready to play. Here, they are accustomed to winning so you have to be strong enough to change your mindset knowing we are here to win every single night, we aren't taking L's. That's the way they carry themselves."

That veteran leadership was on full display just a few minutes later, when Boston's new No. 4 was in the locker room reviewing plays and defensive strategies with the likes of Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis. Garnett was as vocal as he has been in the locker room during media access all season while he was openly giving examples to Robinson about how he'll be communicating with him on the defensive end of the floor.

Robinson understood that, and he also chipped in that he'll be calling out New York's plays all night long, since he knows them by heart after playing under D'Antoni for nearly two seasons.

- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

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Celtics acquire Nate Robinson, Marcus Landry from Knicks

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics announced today that the club has acquired guard Nate Robinson and forward Marcus Landry from the New York Knicks in exchange for guards Eddie House, J.R. Giddens and forward Bill Walker.

"Nate is one of the great athletes in the league and he brings a dynamic scorer to our team," said Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations. "We have been seeking a second ball handler capable of penetrating the defense and we believe that he provides that. We love Nate's ability to pressure the ball defensively and we think he can add to our defense as well as our offense."

Full Press Release

- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

WALTHAM, MA -- All was quiet on the Waltham front this afternoon.

With the team preparing to exit Boston tomorrow morning, the Big Three were unavailable for comment after practice, which has seldom been the case this season.

It may sound standard that the team is exiting Boston for New Orleans on Tuesday, but it's the itinerary that was dealt a change late last night.

With the New Orleans Saints winning the Super Bowl Sunday night and their celebration parade being scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, the Celtics have no choice but to get there early.

"Our original plan was to practice and leave at the normal time, at 3 o'clock," said Doc Rivers. "The parade is at 5 (o'clock), and they basically said if you're not in there by 12 (p.m.) to 1 (p.m.), you're not going to be able to get into the city before 10 or 11 or 12 o'clock at night. So we're just going to leave in the morning and get to New Orleans."

So as a result of the Super Bowl, the Celtics are actually losing a full day of practice. Interesting how things work out. But Boston will do its best to recover from the unexpected day off with a shootaround Wednesday morning, since in this case they can't control the travel schedule.

Aside from the trip to New Orleans, Rivers also spoke about expectations he has of his team moving forward. According to him, the writing is now on the wall in regards to how his players will receive playing time for the remainder of the season.

"If we made anything clear today, it was that you can make 10 threes in a row, but if you're not getting stops, you're gonna sit next to me, and that's the way it has to be," Rivers said. "We have to get back to thinking of ourselves as a defensive team."

The good news is that his players responded. He was happy with the team's performance during practice and noted that numerous players were in his office today asking about what they need to do to get the team back on track.

One player who didn't do a whole lot in practice today, though, was Paul Pierce. He continues to nurse his sore left midfoot and, according to Rivers, is "questionable" for Wednesday's game.

If Pierce is unable to play in New Orleans, his status for the All-Star Game and 3-Point Shootout could be in question as well. But if Pierce plays Wednesday night vs. the Hornets, then he's likely to participate in Dallas.

Pierce isn't the only Celtic who is scheduled to participate in one of the skill competitions this weekend in Dallas. Rajon Rondo spoke to the media after practice and let everyone know that he will be participating in the H.O.R.S.E competition with hopes of dethroning defending champ Kevin Durant. It won't be easy on short notice, but Rondo thinks he's done plenty of training for the competition before he even knew he was in it.

"I used to, my first couple of years, shoot a lot of crazy shots, but I'm more focused now these last couple years," Rondo said, noting that he has a couple of shots that he thinks only he can hit.

While Rondo is excited about heading to Dallas, Glen Davis is still elated over the Super Bowl and is looking forward to the New Orleans trip. As we all know, Davis is from Louisiana and attended LSU. He took in the game at Ray Allen's house Sunday night and said that he'll be carrying a smile on his face for weeks to come because of the Saints' win. But no matter how happy he is, he couldn't forget to mention how important the win was for his home state as a whole.

"For them to pull through and win the Super Bowl, it's huge, not only for the team, but for the state... You really can't express (what it means). You have to be from there, you have to have a loved one who's lost something (during Hurricane Katrina) or you have to be somewhere between the borderlines of The Boot to understand what the Saints did and what they accomplished," he said.

"[Hurricane Katrina] was a tragic event. People are still trying to recover to this day. For the Saints to do something like that and accomplish something like that, it will just brighten up their day, their month, their year in a good way. What they accomplished touched people's heart."

It certainly touched his, and with a stroke of luck from the schedule makers and All-Star weekend, he'll already be home to celebrate with his friends and family following the Celtics' game Wednesday night.

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

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Pregame Media Access

It's finally happening: Doc Rivers will have all of his key players available to play for the first time this season. We found out just minutes ago that Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels both got the thumbs up today and will be making an appearance on the court. Rivers didn't like what he saw from the captain during yesterday's practice, but the training staff gave him the thumbs up and Pierce said that he feels fine, so he'll give it a go. But, if Rivers doesn't like what he sees out of Pierce as far as movement, he won't hesitate on taking him out of the game.

Daniels will be playing in his first game since taking on Oklahoma City on Dec. 4. Rivers isn't too excited about what Daniels will do on the court right now because he's still learning all of the new sets and strategies that the team has implemented since his injury, but as Rivers noted, this is the only way to shake that rust off.

During the last game between these two teams, the big frontline combo of Marcin Gortat and Dwight Howard seemed to give the Celtics problems, but Rivers didn't want to overplay that as any matchup advantages for Orlando.

Speaking of what advantage that lineup gave Orlando, Rivers said, "I thought Gortat's energy, more than his overall play. I thought he played with amazing energy."

As we all know by now, Stan Van Gundy last weekend won the right to coach the Eastern Conference in the All-Star game and he'll have three Celtics on that roster. Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo will all be in Dallas to participate in the game, and Van Gundy realizes that two of those players are coming back from injuries. He isn't going to play them for five minutes, but he's not going to run them out there for 40, either.

"Obviously, Kevin (Garnett) was voted into the game by the fans; Paul (Pierce) has been a perennial All-Star, so fans are going to want to see those guys. You can't play those guys five or six minutes, particularly Kevin as a starter - he's got to put in some minutes. But we'll see where they are and where Doc (Rivers) is on the whole thing."

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

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Pregame Media Access

It's pretty obvious hat the C's are taking on a 4-44 team tonight in the Garden. Press numbers are low and the amount of players who made an appearance during pregame was even lower.

Ray Allen was the only Celtic to speak at any length with the press, and he touched a bit on his thoughts about New Jersey's difficult season thus far. Although the Nets are going through a difficult time as a franchise, Allen isn't shedding any pity their way.

"I don't feel sorry for them," said Allen. "I believe that it's almost like a right of passage for most guys coming into the NBA. Being part of a team, you have to learn to become a better teammate, you have to learn to grow and understand and learn the NBA life. You might be playing a lot of minutes, but you have to learn what it is to be successful in this game."

In other news, it sounds like Paul Pierce will be back for Sunday's home game against the Magic, but the availability of Marquis Daniels is still up in the air. Daniels participated in practice Thursday as well as today's shootaround, but he still hasn't gone through a full-speed, full-contact practice. Rivers' plan is to hold one of those practices tomorrow and to see how both of those players' bodies react.

But no matter how well it might go physically at practice Saturday, don't mark off a return for Daniels just yet. A lot of his return will be based on how well he can re-integrate himself into the offense.

"Since Marquis has been out we've put a ton of different things in offensively and defensively," Rivers said. "He's still trying to learn the new stuff, the beginning stuff. We're going to have to throw him in there eventually. It may be Sunday, but I'm just not sure."

- Marc D'Amico

Daniels returns to practice, Pierce in 3-Point Contest

Marquis Daniels made his return to the basketball court today and participated in a full practice with the Celtics for the first time since undergoing thumb surgery on Dec. 9. Wearing a protective wrap around the thumb, Daniels struggled to execute offensive sets throughout the practice, but he isn't pinning any of that on the injury. Nope, this is more of a mental rust issue, and he doesn't anticipate it lasting very long.

"We put a couple more sets in (since the injury), but for the most part it's pretty much the same thing," said Daniels. "I have to learn three positions -- I gotta know the point guard, the two and the three. It's coming along pretty simple, so hopefully I can pick them up by next practice."

At this point, it sounds like he is doubtful to play in Friday night's game against the Nets in the Garden. He will participate in the shootaroung tomorrow and also in practice Saturday with hopes of making his in-game return Sunday afternoon against the Magic.

That might also be the game where we see Paul Pierce return to the lineup after a brief absence due to a left foot sprain. Pierce downplayed the injury Thursday, saying it's "not the worst sprain" he's ever had and called it a "basic sprain." He is listed as day-to-day, but both he and Doc Rivers sound like they're on the same page for a Sunday return.

Being that Pierce's injury rolled around with just four games before the All-Star break, many have been wondering if he'll be making the trip to Dallas next weekend. The answer to that question is yes, and he'll be bringing his 3-point shot with him to the 2010 Foot Locker 3-Point Contest. The Truth was notified Wednesday by the league that he had been selected for the competition, and he's eager to try and bring the title home to Boston.

"It's a great part of All-Star weekend and you have so many memories of Larry Bird winning the contest years ago, Ray Allen winning the contest," said Pierce, who does plan on playing in the All-Star game. Pierce also drew a few laughs from the media by dropping the following line: "Being that I'm one of the great shooters in NBA history, I deserve to be there."

In one of the more interesting lines of the day, Rivers made an unexpected comparison when responding to a question regarding Kevin Garnett's rhythm of late.

"I was telling guys yesterday, he reminds me so much of (Patrick) Ewing. Patrick was even worse in ways. If Patrick missed one practice and we played the next day we could check that he was going to have an awful game. There are players who have to have their rhythm and Kevin (Garnett) is one of those."

The good news about that comparison is that KG has been back in the lineup now for seven games and Rivers believes he's getting better each and every day.

- Marc D'Amico

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Pregame Media Access

Once again, injuries were the main story during the pregame media session. As we all know by now, the Celtics got some good news Tuesday evening when they found out that Paul Pierce had only strained his left mid-foot and not a fracture. He is listed as day-to-day and will not dress for tonight's game. Doc Rivers told reporters that he won't rush Pierce back into the lineup and that he wouldn't anticipate his captain being back on the floor for Friday's home game against the Nets, but the door is certainly open.

With Pierce being out of the lineup, Tony Allen will be slotted in as the starting small forward. Rivers said that he's happy he can slide a player into the starting lineup that has been playing to well of late, but he'd much rather have Allen coming off of the bench.

"I like him off the bench, truth be told, more than in the starting lineup, because it gives us an energy guy, a defender, a rebounder," said Rivers. "And now that takes one of our key energy guys [away from] the bench, so we're going to have to look to someone else to do that."

But back to those injuries...

News also broke that Marquis Daniels will finally make his return to practice Thursday afternoon. Daniels has been out of the lineup since Dec. 4 as a result of left thumb surgery. He said that he'll most likely wear a protective piece of foam around the thumb tomorrow and is ready to get his first contact out of the way.

"Getting hit on it -- that's the first thing I'm really looking forward to," he said, before quickly correcting himself that he's not exactly looking forward to it, as much as looking forward to getting it out of the way.

Daniels' return will be solely based on his ability to re-familiarize himself with the team's tendencies, because according to Rivers, he didn't look too smooth when he ran some plays with the team during today's shootaround. A return for Sunday's showdown with Orlando is possible, but Rivers called Wednesday night's game in New Orleans "a great game" for Daniels to return because there are two consecutive days of practice before that game.

- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

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Pregame Media Access

As expected, there was plenty of rivalry talk during the pregame media session. Nearly every interview had at least one question regarding the rivalry and what the players and coaches thought about it. Ray Allen touched on the importance of this game to the league and to its fans, especially when the game is in this 3:30 p.m. Sunday time slot.

"When you jump ball and the Lakers are on one side and the Celtics are on one side, just the look of it is great for TV. You've got star players on both sides of the ball. You've got star coaches on both sides of the ball. It's the East Coast against the West Coast, Boston vs. L.A. It just has so much appeal to it."

Lamar Odom had a different perspective on the rivalry, especially after going out for a bite to eat with his teammates to a local restaurant.

"{Boston] is a tough place to walk around if you're the opposing team," he said. "They love their Celtics here, and I can appreciate that... You want that confrontation. It makes it fun. We went to P.F. Chang's and we had to make it through the crowd and everyone had something to say, which is cool."

His reply when asked if he could tell us what some of the fans said to him?

"I can't say!"

Moving past the rivalry talk, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett's health were a couple of hot topics as well. Bryant is recovering from a sprained ankle that he's been dealing with of late. Phil Jackson told reporters that while Bryant's ankle was quite sore yesterday and his movement was limited, he should be good to go. When Jackson was asked about how he prepared for Garnett, he made it clear that while KG isn't performing up to his accustomed standards, you have to prepare as if he will. Still, though, he noted that at this point Garnett is not at the level he was when these teams met in the Finals two seasons ago.

"Go back to the championship," he said. "He ran down the middle of the lane, post-trailer, and put Pau (Gasol) right into the backboard -- into the back stop (of the basket). That type of thing I haven't seen as often; transition speed that he [used to show]."

As far as game-related news, it sounds like Doc Rivers is anticipating Kobe Bryant starting the game out defending Rajon Rondo. Rivers talked about how that game plan has worked in the past for other teams, including when Joe Johnson defended Rondo Friday night in Atlanta, but it causes more of an issue with transition defense than it does with the team's offense.

"What's tough for us, really, is on the other end because we get caught in transition." said Rivers. "... We may score and get away with it on the one end but then in transition you're cross-matched and now Rondo is stuck until we can switch back on Kobe and Joe Johnson, and that may be a bigger issue for us."

- Marc D'Amico

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Pregame Notes

Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo were selected today as reserves for the 2010 Eastern Conference All-Star team. Reserves were voted on by NBA coaches

With their additions, the Celtics will send a total of three players to Dallas next month, including starting power forward Kevin Garnett. Boston's three All-Stars are the most of any team in the NBA this season.

- Marc D'Amico

C's prepare for tough stretch ahead

With a difficult four-games-in-five-nights stretch looming ahead of the Celtics -- possibly as tough as it can get, with three of those four games being against the No. 4 seed in the East (Orlando), the No. 3 seed in the East (Atlanta) and the No. 1 seed in the West (Los Angeles Lakers) -- lots of talk at today's practice was about how Boston is looking at the task currently at hand. Per usual, not a single player or coach that spoke to the media seemed to be phased by tough schedule, and they actually sounded excited about the challenge.

"These are big, big, big games," said Glen Davis. "If you're not a competitor, you don't need to play in these games. This is a great opportunity for us to keep our winning streak alive and also get better [against] playoff-contending teams."

Ray Allen agrees that this is a great challenge for the C's, but he also doesn't want these games to be overplayed. January games are one thing; playoff games are another.

"[Facing these teams is] definitely tougher in the playoffs," Allen said. "You really can't get away with anything (in the playoffs) because they know all your plays. The preparation time right now is cut down a lot shorter so you don't have the pleasure of paying attention to every little detail, but we try to as much as we can."

No matter how many details can be paid attention to, these games are still very important to all teams involved. With playoff races in both conferences so close, every win will go a long way in the standings.

A set like this can also go a long way for a team's mental state of mind. Sweeping this type of stretch could give the team quite a momentum boost for the rest of the season. Losing this a set like this could damage a team's psyche for weeks and even months.

Doc Rivers knows what this type of stretch can do to a team's psyche, but he also knows that no matter what happens during this next handful of games, the All-Star break will play a role in negating any positive or negative swing the Celtics might be on.

"If you went through these games and won them all, you'd rather it be after the (All-Star) break," said Rivers. "Then it kind of propels you through the rest of the second half. Unfortunately, even if [we] won them all, then [we] take a break and then have to re-start all over again."

Outside of talk about the upcoming schedule, the other hot topic today was Allen's future with the team. He was continually bombarded with questions about his future and he essentially answered every single one with one simple premise: I want to be here. Allen clearly loves the Boston Celtics organization and is committed to staying in town. He reiterated that today and even noted that moving forward in his career, he is always willing to take a reduced role of his team's makeup calls for it.

"I can fit right in and formulate around what needs to be done," he said.

Pretty humble words from a future Hall of Famer and one of the best shooters this game has ever seen.

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

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Pregame Media Access

Good news on the Marquis Daniels injury front. Daniels is the only Celtic currently suffering from a major injury, and he continues to work during pregame with the Celtics Strength and Conditioning staff. Today, he worked mostly on plant-and-go exercised that aim to strengthen his legs and ankles while getting his quickness back. His return is still forecasted for the first game after the All-Star break, but during pregame, for the first time, Doc Rivers mentioned the possibility of Daniels returning to the lineup for the Celtics' game in New Orleans on Wednesday, Feb. 10.

Rivers also chatted a bit about tonight's game, and specifically about Marcus Camby, the Clippers' forward/center. He seemed shocked that Camby doesn't get much credit in the league for being a great player and even said that most people wouldn't remember that Camby has won a Defensive Player of the Year award in his career. In comparison to the Celtics' defensive stalwart, Kevin Garnett, Rivers said that the two are very similar in intensity and that KG is probably a better on-ball defender, while Camby gets the nod in the ability to block shots.

Those two will be matched up throughout the game tonight, so based off of Rivers' words, we're going to get a look at two of the top defenders in the league battling on the block nearly every possession. Enjoy!

- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

WALTHAM - Kevin Garnett was back on the practice floor today, barking at teammates, defending the hoop and bringing his world-class intensity to a team that admittedly needs a shot in the arm.

"Some of the hardest games are between 30 and 55 games into the season. Those are the grind games," Garnett said, as beads of sweat poured down his forehead. Garnett had just finished getting some extra shots up after practice had concluded, and took just a few brief minutes to address the media before boarding the team charter for Michigan. "When it comes to intensity, I don't have to try. That's instilled in me. It's natural."

While KG was slated to travel with the team, Doc Rivers made it clear that Garnett would not be available to play against the Pistons tomorrow night. He's still targeting Friday night's home game at the Garden against the Portland Trail Blazers for a return. Garnett has not played since Dec. 28 against the Golden State Warriors.

Garnett once again assured reporters that his most recent knee injury was unrelated to the ailment that cost him his postseason last year, but said that he'd learned the hard way about trying to come back too quickly last season, so while he said he'd try to convince Doc he's good to go tomorrow night ("I wouldn't be me if I didn't") he knows he's better off waiting until he gets the green light.

"As you all know. When you're younger you think you can go all day, run through walls," Garnett said. "I'm trying to be smart about injuries so that they don't get worse. I think I learned that last year the hard way."

The Captain was happy to see Garnett back out there on the floor.

"He looked fluid out there," Pierce said of Garnett. "It will be a positive to get him back."

- Peter Stringer

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- Marc D'Amico

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- Peter Stringer

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- Peter Stringer

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Pregame Media Access

Despite this being one of the quietest pregames of the season here at the Garden, we've got what all of you are looking for -- injury updates.

Let's start with the biggest name of them all, Kevin Garnett. Doc Rivers said today that KG today was finally been cleared to work out and did so with some running and shooting exercises. Garnett has been sidelined with a hyper-extended knee and, to many people's surprise, has listened to the Celtics' staff and not had a single load of exercise since Dec. 28, when he played 31 minutes against the Warriors. The great news is that KG "feels great," according to Rivers, and should be back in action somewhere around 10 days from now.

Marquis Daniels was out on the court prior to the game working on his conditioning for about 30 minutes. He did a variety of exercises, from pick-and-roll simulations with Shelden Williams to line jumps and high skips across the court. Although he has a new cast on and is cleared to run and work out, Rivers still says that he won't be back until after the All-Star break. But, the good news, at least in Rivers' opinion, is that "he'll be read to play after the All-Star break" and not simply able to practice and work out.

Rivers also noted that Glen Davis is definitely not back to where he needs to be. He said that Big Baby is a ways away from where he needs to be with his conditioning, timing and rhythm. But he expects those characteristics to continue their development, and he has seen positive flashes recently, including the second half of Sunday's win in Toronto.

So, in short, KG should be back in less than two weeks, Daniels' status is unchanged (post All-Star break return) and Big Baby is still making his way back into playing shape.

Update: Rasheed Wallace is unavailable tonight due to a "sore front forefoot."

- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

Pierce, Rondo and Rivers return to practice; Perk, House hit with flu

When was the last time an entire NBA roster (including the head coach) missed time during the season due to some inordinate situation? It's not clear what the answer to that question is, but just two and a half months into the season, the Boston Celtics are already threatening to take that title.

On a day where the C's had plenty of good to smile about -- Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Doc Rivers all took part in practice -- they were hit with the news that Kendrick Perkins and Eddie House had both apparently come down with the flu. It sounded as if Perk was going to make it onto the team's 3 p.m. flight to Miami this afternoon, but Rivers said that House would definitely not be making the trip with the team.

That means that 10 of the 15 players on the team's roster, plus its head coach, have all missed time due to injury, illness or personal matters already this season. It's only Jan. 5, so the hope is that the bleeding will stop here.

While the team continues to take those punches, today's positives have to outweigh the negatives. The C's sound as if they'll welcome two of their best players, Pierce and Rondo, back to the lineup tomorrow night when they take on the Heat at 7:30 p.m. in South Beach. In addition to their presence on the court, Rivers also returned to practice after missing Monday's session due to a family matter.

Pierce, who has been out of commission since an arthroscopic irrigation procedure he underwent on Dec. 23, returned to the court today and took part in the "meat and potatoes" of practice, as he put it. The Truth admitted that his knee isn't back to 100 percent just yet, but he also made it clear that he won't be joining the list of NBA players who have chosen to come back from knee surgeries too early.

"I'm coming back because I feel good," said Pierce, responding to a question about the possibility of rushing himself back too quickly. "...I don't feel [any] pressure at all to come back out here. I wouldn't do that to myself; I wouldn't do that to my body, especially at this point and age of my career."

So with No. 34 confident that he's healthy enough to play, Boston will get a huge boost on the court in the coming days. Rivers is also hopeful that Rondo will be ready for tomorrow night's game, but his availability is a bit more iffy.

"(With) Rondo, you couldn't tell because he didn't do much, so we'll see tomorrow" Rivers said regarding Rondo's status. "I think he's going to go, but I wouldn't write that down in pen, for sure."

No matter what, it's going to be a pleasant sight if Boston gets to see one, or both, of those players back in uniform to take on one of the top five teams in the Eastern Conference tomorrow night.

- Marc D'Amico

Pierce, Rondo and KG all miss Monday's practice

Today's Celtics practice was missing a bunch of familiar faces, and it certainly wasn't what the team expected after closing out last week with a win over the Raptors Saturday night.

Doc Rivers joined the parade of Celtics missing in action, as he was out on a "personal day," according to Associate Head Coach Tom Thibodeau. Rivers will most likely return to the team tomorrow. In his absence, Thibodeau is playing the role of head coach and ran today's practice.

Today's hour-long session, however, didn't feature two players that Rivers had deemed probable to participate when he spoke before Saturday's game. Paul Pierce, who is still recovering from a knee infection, did not practice, but Thibodeau said the good news is that he's "improving day by day" and took some shots on the court this afternoon. Point guard Rajon Rondo also sat out practice as he continues to nurse a sore left hamstring.

Before the weekend ended, it looked as if Rondo was going to miss only one game, Saturday's, and that Pierce would practice today and see how his knee reacted. But the team decided to hold both out today, leaving the two stars as question marks for Wednesday night's game in Miami. Just as Rivers indicated Saturday, though, it's more likely that Rondo will be back to take on Miami than Pierce.

Still, without those two participating, Thibodeau managed to see some good things on the court.

"Normally coming off a day off, it's a little sloppy," he said. "But, the intensity, I thought, was very good and the intentions were good."

So at the moment, the Celtics' lineup looks just as it did in their 103-96 victory over the Raps this past weekend. Tony Allen, J.R. Giddens and Rasheed Wallace's roles have increased and will be looked at to continue providing that intensity Thibodeau spoke about today.

The assumption is that more information will come out about Rondo and Pierce's progress at tomorrow's practice, and it looked as if Rondo will wind up practicing (he was on the court in practice gear today, he just didn't participate). Kevin Garnett is still on the shelf with his recovery from a hyper extended knee, so updates on him shouldn't roll through for another few days to a week.

In the meantime, those players left standing will continue their attempt to keep Boston afloat until Pierce, Garnett and Rondo can return.

- Marc D'Amico

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Raptors 96, Celtics 103: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame Media Access

Imagine what the Boston Celtics would look like if they had to play a game over All-Star weekend, with their All-Stars unavailable. The team you just thought about is going to be eerily similar to tonight's Celtics roster, with Doc Rivers running out a starting lineup of Tony Allen, Ray Allen, J.R. Giddens, Rasheed Wallace and Kendrick Perkins.

It's going to be a difficult night for the C's with so many injuries, but as many of the players and coaches have noted, it's just part of the game. Tony Allen will be the primary ballhandler tonight while Ray Allen will also see some time running the offense. Rivers stated before the game that it's an advantage to the C's that they run "continuity" plays, meaning it's not necessarily an offense where a true point guard it needed. But he still cautioned that the Allens will need to do a solid job of getting the team into those continuity plays effectively.

As far as the injuries go, Pierce is hoping to practice Monday afternoon and will make a decision on his availability after that. He called himself "day-to-day" during pregame. Rondo's sore hamstring should also be recovered in time for Boston's next game, which is Wednesday night in Miami. Garnett is a bit behind those two, and Rivers said that KG's timetable is somewhere around 10 days.

Pierce actually made an appearance with the media prior to the game, which hasn't happened in quite some time. He joked to Pete Stringer and I about never having pregame availability by saying, "I'm old now... I gotta get the kinks out now before the game." But during his talk today he gave us a few new details regarding his injury. He had two separate procedures, the first of which came last Wednesday. On that day, the doctors found a white blood cell count of 40,000 in his knee, which told them that his body was fighting something. But they never discovered a trace of bacteria that say, so he was sent home. When the pain returned on Christmas Day, he went back to the hospital and underwent a second surgery that night, which led to doctors discovering the bacteria that had been causing the infection.

His rehabilitation is going well and he jumped rope for the first time today since the surgeries. He seems to be in great spirits and said that moving forward, his return will be based off of his pain threshold and when the swelling will go away for good.

- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

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Celtics 90, Clippers 92: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

Arthroscopic irrigation of right knee sidelines Captain

The Boston Celtics announced today that forward Paul Pierce underwent arthroscopic irrigation on his right knee to clean a knee infection at New England Baptist Hospital this morning. Celtics Team Physician Dr. Brian McKeon preformed the procedure.

Pierce is expected to miss the next two weeks. Pierce, a 6'7" forward, has played in every game this season for the Celtics and is averaging a team-high 18.2 points. He is currently shooting a career-high 47.3% from three-point land and is ranked fifth in the NBA. The Kansas product netted a season-high 33 points against the Knicks on November 22.

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Pacers 94, Celtics 103: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame Media Access

This Pacers team is going to look dramatically different from the one that took the court against Boston in November. Danny Granger, the team's All-Star forward and leader scoring, is out of the lineup with a torn plantar fascia while Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy will be in the lineup for the first time against the C's this season. That situation means the Pacers will be without their top player, but will be adding their second and third-best players.

Having Dunleavy and Murphy in the lineup will be a drastic change for the Pacers, and it's going to send a much different look to the Celtics' defense. Doc Rivers believes Indiana is a better shooting team with those two on the floor, and he calls Murphy a "matchup nightmare."

Murphy seems to be the go-to guy with Granger out of the lineup, and it sounds like Pacers Head Coach Jim O'Brien feels as if Dunleavy is still getting his conditioning back. He expects the Celtics to be "under [Dunleavy's] chin" all night long while trying to be as physical with him as possible. That's exactly what the Bucks did last night in limiting him to only four points in more than 30 minutes of playing time.

On the Celtics front, some minor news came out of Rivers' mouth today concerning the comeback of Glen Davis. Davis continues to work out in his rehabilitation efforts from thumb surgery and is getting closer and closer to making it into a game. Big Baby will make the trip with the team to Orlando and head out West for the rest of the trip as well, but Rivers believes it's unlikely that Davis will make it into a game on the trip. But we all know what 'unlikely' means -- there's still a chance it might actually happen.

- Marc D'Amico

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Timberwolves 104, Celtics 122: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame Media Access

As it usually is on a Sunday evening, the Boston Celtics locker room was pretty quiet tonight. No quotes from the players because, for the most part, they stuck to conversations with themselves or were hiding back in the training room. Nonetheless, we've got a couple of things that will be of your interest.

First, in a situation that Rasheed Wallace might be a fan of, there will only be two referees for tonight's game. We haven't heard why, but we know that one of the schedules referees was unable to make it tonight and his alternate was unavailable, too. It's a pretty rare occurrence to only have two refs on the court, but Doc Rivers thinks the game will run just fine and neither of the referees will have to worry about stepping on each others' toes with calls.

Lester Hudson was recalled from the Maine Red Claws today and is dressed for tonight's game. He and Rajon Rondo played some one-on-one during pregame, and while Hudson may have worked off some rust in Maine, Rondo showed him who's still the boss on the court.

- Marc D'Amico

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76ers 98, Celtics 97, FINAL: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

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On a night where there wasn't a whole lot going on in the pregame routine, there was still a whole lot of Marquis Daniels. First, it was Quis talking about his recovery from thumb surgery. Next, it was his coach talking about what led up to that surgery.

Daniels just had his stithces removed this afternoon and is sporting a brand new, black cast on his left wrist and thumb. He goes back on Jan. 8 to have the pin in his thumb removed, and the hope is that he'll be able to return to play within a month from that day. But, if it was his decision, that surgery wouldn't have happened in the first place.

"It wasn't me," Daniels said, speaking about who decided to take him off the court and have his thumb checked out. "It was Doc (Rivers)!"

It was, in fact, Rivers, and he even admitted that he himself almost let Daniels' injury slide by.

"I don't know if I hadn't blown the whistle and told him to walk off the court, he may still be playing," Rivers said. "But I think it wouldn't have lasted long, with the damage that he had. Eventually he would've had to come to terms. You could see it in practice; he was hiding it, trying to rebound with one hand and you could see him on film passing with the opposite hand more."

The other player who had his name floated around a bit was Lester Hudson, who has been playing well down with the Maine Red Claws. Rivers said that the plan was to send him down for a couple of games and have him back for Sunday's game, and that looks to still be the plan. The team doesn't want to head out on their road trip without a full 12-man roster available to play, so Hudson better keep his holiday schedule clear for his call up.

Rivers' talk about Hudson actually sparked another thought out of him. He wants to see a "JV-Varsity" type setup for pregame, where the NBDL teams can play before the NBA games and be in the arena to dress for the latter as well.

"I actually think that would be good for our league," he said. "The fans would get to see some of the guys you drafted."

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics assign Lester Hudson to Maine Red Claws

BOSTON - The Boston Celtics announced today that guard Lester Hudson has been assigned to the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League. Hudson is the team's second assignment to the NBA Development League this season.

Hudson, a 6-foot-3 guard, has appeared in 13 games for the Celtics this season and registered season-highs of six points and three assists against Philadelphia on November 3.

- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

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- Marc D'Amico

BOSTON - The Boston Celtics announced today that guard Marquis Daniels underwent successful surgery this morning at New England Baptist Hospital to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. The procedure was performed by Celtics Team Physician, Dr. Brian McKeon and Dr. Drew Terrono. No time table has been set for his return.

Daniels has appeared in 19 games for the Celtics averaging 5.7 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. The former Auburn Tiger posted a season-high 10 points against Utah on November 11.

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Bucks 89, Celtics 98: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame Media Access

The big news out of the locker rooms tonight is that, first, Marquis Daniels is definitely out (most likely for three or four games) and second, Tony Allen will be making his first appearance of the season tonight. TA's return couldn't have come at a better time, as the Celtics will definitely experience a hit to their bench play without one of their top reserves (Daniels) available.

Allen has been practicing with the team recently after overcoming his ankle injury, but he said tonight is different than any injury he's ever come back from. To this point in his career, he's never had a serious ankle injury, but he did say that he feels good physically and that, "Mentally, I'm ready to go."

With Daniels on the sideline and TA available, the Celtics will be taking on the struggling Bucks tonight. The standings will tell you that Milwaukee, along with their star rookie, Brandon Jennings, haven't been up to par of late, but looking at their scores will show that they've been very competitive during this losing streak. Even with Jennings, Bucks coach Scott Skiles says that he's still playing well, the ball just isn't going through the basket like he would hops.

"For his age, he's pretty wise about the shots he takes," Skiles said. "Maybe if he takes 18 shots in a game, maybe one, maybe two that are a little bit questionable. But generally, even those are because maybe there was six on the shot clock. So, he's just in a little stretch here where he's having a trouble finding the bottom of the basket."

Speaking of Jennings, Doc Rivers raved about his patience and ability to play at different gears without getting caught in scoring mode.

"What I've been impressed with is the tempo that he plays at," said Rivers. "Even though he has great speed, he's really not a shot first guard. A lot of people think he is, because of (the) 55 (point game) -- that probably game them a reason to think that. I watched that game, and it's amazing that he had a stretch where he scored 18 points in a row and then the next three times down he threw great passes. He understands that."

On the Celtics side of things, Rivers definitely let it be known that he's loving Rasheed Wallace's recent play at the center position. It's resulted in a decrease of minutes for Shelden Williams, but it's also brought better results for Boston.

But Rivers won't take credit for Wallace's improved play, saying that he's "not going to change Rasheed", and that no one can. So credit the big guy for making himself accountable for his play and adjusting accordingly.

Also, a quick update on Glen Davis - Rivers believes that Big Baby may be taking the trip with the team to the West Coast later this month and may be available to play on that trip.

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics players and coaches create holiday memories

Much the same way that life as a Boston Celtic isn't always about basketball, life as a patient at Boston Medical Center isn't always about difficult situations and bad news.

Those two statements came to life as one this afternoon at Dick's Last Resort in Faneuil Hall, as Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and a list of Celtics players, coaches and employees had an afternoon of smiles with families from the Boston Medical Center's Pediatric Hematology Program.

Everyone has seen the NBA Cares commercial spots, and if you could have been present today, you would understand how mutual -- between the players and the families -- that caring really is.

As the children and their families polished off their dinners, had their faces painted and played with balloons provides by a slew of clowns, the Celtics began to trickle in one by one.

First, it was Tony Allen. Then it was Doc Rivers. Then Ray Allen. The list went on and on, and within 15 minutes, nine players and coaches were mingling with the children, signing autographs and playing games.

- Marc D'Amico

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Pregame Media Access

The Celtics will take the court tonight in their alternate jerseys, which are solid green with black accents. They haven't pulled these out very often this season, so the home crowd celebrating a holiday weekend will get their fair share of green tonight.

Boston is matched up against a Raptors team this evening that is struggling mightily on the defensive end this season. Jay Triano was asked during pregame what the biggest issue is he's seeing out of his defense, and he couldn't pinpoint one answer... that's how bad they've really been. He did, though, point out that his team isn't going to increase their defensive productivity if they don't get back on defense and then stay in front of their men.

"Getting back (on transition) most of the time (is an issue)," he said of his team's struggles. "Keeping guys in front of us; we don't do that and we get a little selfish and start hugging our guy on the weak side instead of providing help for each other."

The Raptors are playing terrible defense, but their offense is extremely challenging to defend. Doc Rivers pointed out that their starting frontline is all 6-foot-10 or taller and every single one of them can shoot the ball. Chris Bosh, Toronto's franchise face, is one player Rivers mentioned in particular.

"He's averaging 11 free throws a game right now. It's funny, you look at Chris Bosh and I think most people say 'jumpshooter,' but a jumpshooter doesn't get to the line 11 times a game."

- Marc D'Amico

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Pregame Media Access

Looks like the players and coaches are already in their food coma, at least when it comes to talking to the media. The players were extremely quiet tonight in the locker rooms, and many of the regulars (i.e. Ray Allen, Glen Davis) barely showed their faces. That usually happens on a game night where they're really geared up for the game, much like last Friday against the Magic.

While the players didn't talk at all, the coaches each had brief media sessions. Neither talked much about their opponent, aside from Eddie Jordan mentioning that he hasn't seen a slippage in Boston's defense either in person or on film. The most importand information Jordan divulged is that Louis Williams (fractured jaw) and Elton Brand (sore hamstring) will not be playing in tonight's game. Starting in their place will be rookie Jrue Holiday and second-year forward Jason Smith.

On Doc Rivers' end, he was asked quite a bit about Kevin Garnett and his progression from offseason knee surgery. Reporters seemed to be delving deep into Rivers hoping to get some extra information out of him regarding Garnett's comeback, but the coach wasn't having it. He essentially said that reports of KG hurting aren't true, and that it's going to take time for him to return to his customary form. He actually said that he "gets a chuckle" out of people that are comparing Garnett's previous year's statistics to this year's. Rivers' explanation for the production drop is that KG simply isn't on the court as much as he usually would be.

"All the games, even the Orlando game, the Atlanta game, where, the fourth quarter [we're] making a run but we still sit him," Rivers said. "Because looking at the big picture more than that individual game."

- Marc D'Amico

C's push for more energy

WALTHAM, MA - The overriding theme after today's practice in Waltham was one word: energy. Kendrick Perkins hit on it while responding to a question, Marquis Daniels brought it up to reporters unprompted and Paul Pierce mentioned it to his team during practice.

Perkins, who had the best game of his season Sunday afternoon with 16 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks, had no problem calling out the energy issue that's plaguing the team right now.

"We're an energy team, so we've got to play with energy every night," he said. "Sometimes I just think we get a little relaxed after a few wins. We get relaxed; we tend to let our guard down. We can't do that. I think we've got to apply the pressure every night and all the time."

When Perk wasn't talking to reporters, he was getting some props from his coach, much a due do his performance Sunday. Doc Rivers was impressed with Perkins' scoring, but he's been pleasantly surprised with his center's ability to pass out of the post so far this season.

"I think what people have missed with Perk is not only is he scoring down there, he's passing down there. He's a helluva passer," Rivers said. "It's amazing that not even when they don't come (with a double-team) he's still hitting open guys. That's maturity."

Rivers also spoke about Marquis Daniels and his backup point guard role. When asked if Daniels is playing less backup point guard than Rivers anticipated, he stated clearly that 'Quise is, in fact playing all of the backup point guard, he's just too polite to go and demand the ball from other players so that he can handle it.

As Rivers put it, "I just told [Marquis] a little while ago, 'You've got to just go get it!' Just throw [Eddie House] off the (point guard) spot and tell him to get down the floor and be him."

It's pretty clear that Rivers would much rather have the ball in Daniels' hands while House spots up for jumpers on the perimeter.

And, speaking of shooters, Ray Allen stayed after practice and went through quite a shooting routine with Assistant Coach Mike Longabardi. Allen worked diligently on his fast break 3-point shooting by sprinting from halfcourt, catching a pass from Longabardi on the run and firing up quick-release threes. He went through the routine on both sides of the court for about 10 minutes each.

While he was switching from the left side of the court to the right side, he and everyone else heard a scream from the far corner of the gym. That scream came from the aforementioned Daniels, who was in the middle of some post-practice free throw shooting.

Daniels wouldn't leave the court until he made 10 consecutive free throws and, as we quickly found out, that scream was the result of a miss after nine straight makes.

"That goal has a curse on it!" he yelled down the court to Allen.

Allen's response?

"You gotta kill it! Exorcise those demons!"

Daniels went on to make his next 10 free throws and kiss those demons goodbye.

For more quotes, check out the audioplayer to the right for clips from today's practice.

- Marc D'Amico

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Pregame Media Access

A pregame doesn't get much quieter than it was tonight. Ray Allen had a brief, one-on-one session with a reporter but outside of him, players had their game faces on and stayed away from the media. As is standard, though, both coaches made it out to speak to reporters.

First came Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy. There wasn't a whole lot of substantive conversation with him, but he did touch on a couple of points. He said that with Jameer Nelson out, the Magic will need to adjust to a new style of play. Nelson is a poit guard that attacks the defense and is very adept at getting into the lane. Basketball people would give him the title of a 'slasher.' Orlando has a couple of solid backup point guards in Jason Williams and Anthony Johnson, but neither of them possess the speed and quickness that Nelson does. Van Gundy also said that, on top of the slashing, his team will miss Nelson's 40 percent 3-point shooting. Threes come often from the Magic, so losing one of their top shooters from downtown is going to be a huge challenge.

Next on tap, as many would expect, was a question addressing Van Gundy's public statements that he will adjust his attitude per request from Dwight Howard. Van Gundy said that the story has been somewhat misreported, as some writers have claimed that Howard approached his coach, while in actuality, it was the other way around. Either way, Van Gundy has said that his coaching style won't change, he will just try to address his players in a more positive matter. After Van Gundy disappeared into the locker room, I caught up with George Galante, who is the Magic's communications rep tonight, and he couldn't believe that the story has taken the legs that it has. Galante also noted that Van Gundy better get used to it, because he's going to have to answer these questions on the road for four of the team's next five games.

Doc Rivers was up next, and he talked a bit about Kendrick Perkins' development as a player. Rivers gave credit to Perkins and assistant coach Clifford Ray for their commitment towards developing his offensive game in the paint. His biggest improvement, said Rivers, is the fact that he's not gathering the ball as much under the basket and is instead going up with the ball quicker for shots.

One more note on another big man who's in the builging tonight. Patrick Ewing, whom many saw last season and were taken aback by his weight, has taken an obvious commitment toward slimming down and getting in shape. It looked to me as if he's dropped at least 30 pounds, and Galante confirmed that it's at least 20.

- Marc D'Amico

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Pregame Media Access

For all of you out there qith questions about Rajon Rondo's free throw shooting and Rasheed Wallace's rebounding, we've got some answers for you.

Ray Allen, one of the top free throw shooters in NBA history, was approached by Rondo before Saturday's game for advice on his free throw shooting. Allen explained to Rondo that he needs to do four specific things prior to taking his free throws. First, he needs to eliminate the anxiousness and adrenaline that is in his body when he makes it to the line. Usually, a player gets to the line after an aggressive drive to the bucket, leaving a player with plenty of anxiesty and adrenaline pumping through them. Allen told Rondo that if he can eliminate those factors, his shot will wind up with a much softer touch. Next, Rondo was told that he needs to clear his thoughts when he's at the line. Allen said that he can't be thinking about the shower, what he's going to eat or anything else; this time is simply for thinking about free throws. His third, and possibly most important point, was that Rondo needs to get more loft on his shot. "Shoot the ball up in the air and just give it a chance to always go in," he said to Rondo. Finally, on a practice level, Rondo was told that he should practice his free throws after the team is done with practice, but with one purpose: to swish every shot. Allen said that making free throws during a practice section isn't good enough. Practicing swishing free throws is what will help, because to swish, your shot has to have great arc on it.

Pay attention over the next couple of weeks to see if any of that advice is digested and helps the young point guard overcome his free throw struggles.

As for Sheed's rebounding, Doc Rivers refuted any ideas that Wallace is struggling with his rebounding effort. He noted that Wallace is rebounding quite well on the defensive end of the floor and that he's not grabbing offensive rebounds because he's usually out around the 3-point line. Don't jump the gun with any thoughts on that, though, because Rivers was also quick to point out that since Wallace is usually on the perimeter, the opponent's big man is out there as well, so he's not grabbing those boards, either.

- Marc D'Amico

Pierce Nurses Knee While Team Focuses On Defense

The Celtics held an open practice in Waltham today and worked hard for a little more than an hour in front of media members and corporate partners. It was a fast-paced practice with plenty of energy, a facet the team has been lacking over their past two games.

One main take-away from today's practice was that Paul Pierce is taking treatment of his knee injury relatively slow. Rivers told reporters that he shouldn't have played Pierce Saturday night against the Pacers, but The Truth talked him into it. Pierce participated in the first quarter of practice, using only half-court and agility drills to keep his basketball rhythm. While the rest of the team jumped into fast break drills and 5-on-5 scrimmaging, he rode a stationary bike to work in his own cardio. Rivers will limit Pierce to about the same amount of work in tomorrow's practice as well.

Turning back to the energy issue the Celtics have noticed over the past two games, Rivers put much of that responsibility on his shoulders. He believes that he did not prepare the team well enough for their weekend back-to-back.

"I thought I made a mistake on Thursday," he said. "I thought that we went way too hard in practice; I mean, we went hard on Thursday. And I thought it carried over to our back-to-back on Friday and Saturday."

Aside from the lack of energy, Kevin Garnett agreed with Rivers in that the team needs to pick up their execution in transition defense, but especially in pick-and-roll defense. He spoke in depth about working angles as a big man against opponents' pick-and-roll attempts. While dropping like Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Bosh, Rashard Lewis and combos like John Stockton-Karl Malone and Mo Wiliams-LeBron James, Garnett spoke about the difficulties of "showing" effectively but leaving his team in great overall position as a defense.

Garnett also cleared up that he doesn't think the Celtics are going backwards at all. He believes the team is continuing to move forward and is learning from their mistakes.

"I wouldn't call it slippage," Garnett said. "Slippage is when you stop being disciplined; you stop being consistent with what you started with, and I don't think we're (doing) that."

Practice Photos

- Marc D'Amico

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Pregame Media Access

A pregame couldn't be much quieter in the Celtics locker room, with Shelden Williams and Ray Allen being the only players speaking with reporters. As Allen spoke with ESPN, most of the media huddled around Wiliams and asked him about his thoughts of the Hawks. First off, he spoke about the differences in their team compared to when he left. He said that, obviously, the Hawks are much more mature, but the additions of Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford have really helped their team. Williams also spoke about the college game, as tonight is the big tip off for NCAA basketball. After a few words about recruits committing here and there, he was asked about playing "cupcakes" on opening night and starting the season off on the right track. "That's not the case anymore," was his response, before naming off Kentucky, Michigan State and Syracuse as big-time programs that have lost early in the season in the past year.

When Doc Rivers made it out to speak to the press, he talked about a few key points. First, he mentioned how in the 2008 playoffs, the Hawks were the first team to give the Celtics any type of real challenge that season. He expects that challenge to happen again tonight, with an older and upgraded Atlanta roster. Next, he couldn't avoid the dubious back-to-back question, as the C's will be in Indiana tomorrow night for a second game in as many nights. "It's a brutal game," he said. "When you're looking at the schedule... you look for what we call eight-and-sevens. Eight and sevens are an 8 o'clock night, and then a 7 o'clock night the next night. That's the first thing as a coach you look at. You hate those eight-and-sevens. It's tough."

- Marc D'Amico

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Pregame Media Access

Veteran's Day is always a time to reflect on how lucky we are to live in the United States and thank those who have fought to give us that opportunity, both in the past and present. The holiday hasn't gone unnoticed within the Celtics locker room, as both Ray Allen and Doc Rivers spoke about the importance of today during their pregame conversations witht he media. While Allen talked about the fact that no matter who you are, the odds are that you have been impacted by war and know someone who has been involved in the military at some capacity. Rivers, meanwhile, told reporters that on every Veteran's Day, he takes time out before game time to remind his players of what they're playing for and how thankful they should be for the freedom they've been given.

Inside the locker room, Allen was asked about getting to the free throw line more often, and you'd be surprised at the interesting story that accompanied his response. Glen Davis recently brought in a handful of newspaper clippings that he collected while he was in his elementary and middle school days. "[Davis] said a friend of his just wanted him to follow us when he was a little kid," Allen said. "[Glen's friend] said, 'I want you to follow these guys because they're going to be in the NBA one day. I want you to follow them and look at these particular players.'" The reason is obvious - look what Allen, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace and Paul Pierce (players whom Davis had clips on) have turned into. They were players to look up to when they were in high school, and they're players to look up to now.

The reason Allen brought up that story in response to the free throws question isn't quite as obvious. When Allen took a look at his particular clippings, he saw that he shot something around the 11-for-14 range fmor the field in that game and finished with about 26 points. He then noted that, while it was a great shooting night, it showed that he wasn't very aggressive offensively. "Any time you can get 11 attempts up, you should at least have 30 (points)," Allen said, alluding to the fact that he should have recorded about 10 points just from the free throw line that night.

Lastly, Rivers also spoke quite a bit about Deron Williams' impact on the Jazz team. Williams was OK'd to play in tonight's game in the middle of Jerry Sloan's pregame media access, as he is recovering from a bruised calf. He'll play, and Rivers wasn't too excited about that being the case. "I think his shot is what sets him apart from most of the other guards. He's a great shooter," Rivers said. He went on to rave about his strength, saying, "He's the most powerful of the guards, him and Chauncery (Billups)." That's going to be an interesting matchup tonight for Rajon Rondo, who is also one of the top guards in the league but is much smaller physically than Williams. Rivers said the key to Rondo limiting Williams' effectiveness is to slow him down before he can use his momentum to enhance that aforementioned strength.

- Marc D'Amico

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Suns 110, Celtics 103: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame Media Access

No huge news from pregame media access tonight aside from the fact that Brian Scalabrine will not be available for the C's. Doc Rivers told reporters that Scal is out due to back spasms. He also wondered aloud how Scalabrine's back started acting up on an off day for the Celtics, saying, "How? I don't know... We didn't practice yesterday!"

Rivers also did some comparing of Shelden Williams and Channing Frye of the Suns. Both players are now playing great basketball for their teams a couple of years after they were drafted in the lottery of the NBA Draft. In both cases, some were calling them busts, but they're both putting those naysayers to rest this season. Rivers called both players prime cases of some young men just taking a bit longer to find their way in the NBA.

Finally, on the lighter side of things, Tony Allen and Glen Davis drew a bunch of laughs from the media in the locker room as they got in a fun-filled talk about today's report that Big Baby is eventually going to play in the NFL. "Wanna play tight end for the [St. Louis] Rams?!" Allen joked towards Davis with a laugh. The two exchanged some jokes back and forth for about five minutes or so, and it was constant laughter in the locker room, both from the press and from players like Lester Hudson and Bill Walker.

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 105, 76ers 74: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Post Game Links

Celtics 105, 76ers 74: Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

With Future Now Secure, Rondo Focused on Present

If anyone has been wondering what the Celtics are going to look like a few years down the line, you got your first indication today. Rajon Rondo has been signed to a contract extension that will keep him in Boston for years to come, and with that, the first brick has been laid to the future foundation of the Celtics organization.

In spite of what the rumor mill had been swirling around throughout the summer, Danny Ainge and the Celtics' ownership stepped up and made it clear that they don't want to see Rondo in any other jersey (well, maybe a bunch of All-Star jerseys) but theirs. Now, after an 11th hour agreement at the contract-extension deadline, Rondo will be sporting green and white into the next decade.

"Wyc [Grousbeck], Danny [Ainge] and Doc [Rivers] all have the confidence in me," Rondo said today, fresh off signing the most expensive paperwork of his life. "You know, that says a lot. They want me here, obviously for a long time, (and) I'm excited to be here, too."

- Marc D'Amico

Read More | Press Release

Post Game Links

Hornets 87, Celtics 97: Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame Media Access

Brian Scalabrine is finally ready to play after rehabbing his sprained ankle suffered more than a week ago. He fully participated in yesterday's practice and should see playing time either tonight or during Tuesday's game in Philadelphia. During Wednesday's home opener, the Garden crowd surprised Scalabrine when they began cheering for Doc Rivers to put him into the game. The surprise wasn't that they were cheering his name, but that the crowd had no idea that Rivers had said before tipoff that there was no way No. 44 would see any game action. "I don't know how 10,000 people forgot that I was playing!" Scal sarcastically joked to reporters.

Now that the month has turned over to November, Rajon Rondo can concentrate fully on basketball rather than his contract sitaution. The deadline to extend his contract is passing, and, pending an eleventh hour agreement, he will become a restricted free agent at the season's end. Rondo downplayed the entire situation, saying that he's not worried at all about his contract and he knows that, barring any major injury, he'll be playing somewhere next season. He made sure to clarify that he wants to be playing in green and white by saying flat out, "I want to be a Celtic."

When it came time for Rivers to speak to reporters, he was raving about two players. First, he spoke about Shelden Williams' play to start the season. Rivers believes that Williams is excelling in a Celtics uniform because the team isn't asking him to provide more than he needs to. The coaching staff is asking him to do what he does best: rebound, play defense and hit the open shot off of the pick-and-roll if it's there. Paul Pierce also got some props from Rivers regarding his rebounding rate this season. Pierce has 22 rebounds through three games, a high total for a small forward, and he's really attacking the glass on a nightly basis. Rivers doesn't see it as a surprise, though. He thinks Pierce is one of the best rebounding small forwards in the entire NBA.

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Bulls 90, Celtics 118: Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame Media Access

As we all know, tonight's game will be the rekindling of last season's incredible seven-game playoff series between the Celtics and Bulls. There's plenty of hype around the game (hence national television on ESPN) and it's not just the fans getting caught up in what took place in April's series. Last night during the Spurs vs. Bulls game on TNT, Ray Allen was watching from home and reminisced when highlights of that series scrolled across the screen. He doesn't think those feelings will carry over into tonight's game, but he definitely enjoyed watching the highlights on TV.

Doc Rivers spoke to reporters and made it clear that he believes this Bulls team is much better than last season's Bulls team. "Not even close," he said. That's a pretty impressive statement when you take into account that Ben Gordon, the leading scorer for last season's Bulls team, has since departed for Detoit. "I think they're longer. I think they're a better defensive team. I think they fit," said Rivers.

Last season's playoff series was incredible when these two teams matched up. If Rivers' assertions are true and both of these teams have improved since their last meeting, this should be one heck of a game tonight.

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Bobcats 59, Celtics 92: Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame Media Access

Plenty of talk from Doc Rivers in his media session, in front of an abnormally large group of reporters. He gave a solid hint as to hat we'll be seeing from the C's frontline this season: Rasheed Wallace on the court when the team needs offense as well as to finish games, and Kendrick Perkins on the floor when the team needs defense.

As for tonight, much of the talk was about the guard play that we'll see between these two teams. Charlotte will send two rising point guards onto the floor to counter what Rajon Rondo will bring to the table for Boston. Raymond Felton, who re-signed with the team this summer, and D.J Augustin partner up to create one of the quickest point guard combos in all of the NBA. Rivers believes that Felton is more of a "scorer," meaning he will attack the basket, draw fouls and put pressure on the defense. On the contrary, Rivers called Augustin a pure "shooter" who can light it up from anywhere on the court.

The man they'll be defending most of the night, Rondo, is solidifying himself as one of the elite point guards in the league. He burst onto the seen with his postseason performance last season and is beginning to get a ton of respect from players around the league. As Rivers put it, "I think Rondo now has established himself as a guard that the other guards are going to get up for him, too. It's no longer just him measuring himself, it's them measuring themselves against Rondo."

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 95, Cavaliers 89: Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Bench Rescues C's

BOSTON, MA - The Boston Celtics announced today that they have requested waivers on forward Michael Sweetney.

Sweetney signed with the Celtics on September 28 as a free agent. The former Georgetown Hoya appeared in five games for the Celtics during the 2009 preseason and averaged 3.6 points and 1.2 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per game. The Celtics roster now stands at 15.

Post Game Links

Celtics 96, Cavaliers 82: Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Post Game Links

Celtics 103, Knicks 108: Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Post Game Links

Celtics 101, Raptors 82: Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Post Game Links

Raptors 90, Cetics 106: Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Post Game Links

Celtics 91, Nets 88: Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Post Game Links

Nets 93, Celtics 100: Recap | Box Score

Tony Allen Resting Foot Today

Not a whole lot going on during pregame this afternoon. The players were quiet, at least with the media, and Doc didn't have any big news to report outside of the fact that Tony Allen won't be on the court today. He's still experiencing foot pain and is going to rest up today.

Everyone seemed to be in great spirits for a Sunday morning, though. Eddie House, Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo poked fun at each other for about 10 minutes in the locker room, with Rondo dropping the line of the day thus far. House was reminding the guys that he owns the Celtics franchise record for 3-point shooting percentage for a season. As House put it, "I'm at the top. The tippy-top!" Walking out of the locker room, Rondo responded to that by saying, "Maybe if you made a few more shots, I'd be at the top of one of those lists too!"

One reporter asked Doc if he might be getting tossed out of this afternoon's game... not for arguing a call, but so that he could go back in the locker room and enjoy this great day of sports. With NFL football, the MLB playoffs and the President's Cup all taking place today, it's one of those can't-miss days in professional sports. Rivers called it the best time of the year, but he's not planning on getting tossed so that he can go enjoy it.

- Marc D'Amico

Starters To Get More Normal Minutes; More PT for KG

Doc Rivers told reporters before the game that his starters would play "more normal" rotation minutes, going longer in the first half and coming out to start the second half. Rivers said he felt he didn't feel he'd played KG enough on Wednesday, so look for a slight uptick in Garnett's minutes in tonight's contest.

Rivers said he's also sticking with playing Brian Scalabrine as a backup three for now, but admitted that it can put him into some tough situations defensively.

Ray Allen on Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize

Ray Allen spoke at length today in the locker room before the game on Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Check out the video below.

- Peter Stringer

Day 4 Video Update

Week of Practice Wraps in Newport

The Celtics closed Friday with an "average" session, but according to Head Coach Doc Rivers it was a solid week of camp. Confirming what several players contended yesterday, Rivers says that the offense is way behind the defense (he's only put in about five of the team's 60 or so offensive sets), but he doesn't seem to bothered with that prognosis.

"Average overall, a little sloppy. But I thought the play was good," Rivers said of Friday's session. "Overall, I've been thrilled with practice and training camp has been just terrific."

Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace both sat out the very end of practice, a reward for some veteran legs that should come as no surprise given Doc's oft-repeated stance on saving his players stamina.

One guy whose legs definitely needed rest was Tony Allen, who sat out today's session and could be found riding the exercise bike when practice concluded and the media was let in.

"He's just going to be day-to-day, it may be like this for a while with him. We're patient," Rivers said of Allen, who's rebounding from offseason ankle surgery. Rivers said of Allen's two practices that it was "two more" than he initially expected at from Allen at camp.

With the week of practices behind them, the Celtics will have just over a day of downtime before closing out their Newport trip with a intrasquad scrimmage for the students and faculty of Salve Regina here on Saturday night. Celtics.com and NBA.com will broadcast tomorrow's session live, giving fans a unique chance to watch the C's scrimmage against each other.

After that, practice returns to Waltham on Monday, and the team is set to play the Houston Rockets in their first preseason game on Wednesday, October 7 in Hidalgo, Texas.

Walker Press Release

BOSTON, MA - The Boston Celtics announced today that forward Bill Walker underwent successful right knee arthroscopic surgery today at the New England Baptist Hospital. Walker sustained a meniscus tear on the first day of training camp. Surgery was performed by Team Physician Dr. Brian McKeon and assisted by John Rand, PAC. No timetable has been set for his return.

Training Camp - Day 3 Video Update

Plenty of Talking on 'D'

If you've been hearing reports of how loud the Celtics' practices have been this week, it's probably due to all of the talking going on with the team's defensive units. Doc Rivers is pleased that his team is communicating at a high level, and while he called portions of today's session "sloppy", overall, when it comes to the recipe for another title run, the Celtics haven't forgotten their bread and butter.

"The defense is obviously ahead of the offense at this point. On the offensive end, guys are rushing and turning the ball over," Captain Paul Pierce said. "That's going to be the most important thing for us going into the year and that's been our staple the last couple of years, how we defend."

While the Celtics have always been a vocal defensive team, the addition of Rasheed Wallace might make them the loudest team in the league.

After today's practice, Wallace spent much of his interview today praising Kendrick Perkins for his defensive mindset and talked about how the excessive talking is like having "another set of eyes out there", while Pierce noted what Wallace brings to the floor on the defensive end.

"He's played on great defensive teams, championship teams, so he understands what it takes," Pierce said. "If we defend on high level, we're going to win on most nights."

Wallace's philosophy on having a talkative defense is simple. He talked about how vocal the great Pistons teams were with Chauncey Billups and company, and he thinks it's an important part of protecting teammates as well.

"You can't let your point guard get hurt. You can't let your two-guard get hurt. They could run into a screen and 'Wham!' they could be out for a couple of games. But if you're talking, they know that screen's coming." Wallace said.

And Wallace seems to be fitting in nicely with this veteran team that has one goal in mind. He likes the way Rivers runs camp, pushing the practice start time back to 12 p.m. and canning two-a-days knowing that his team can get the same work done in one long, intense session.

"It's good for veterans. We're going hard for about two, two-and-a-half hours, and get it out of the way," Wallace said. "Some people might think, we're only going once, Doc's too easy, but once we get in here, we know what we've got to do. We don't lollygag around. Guys go hard in drills. Guys go hard when we're competing up and down. I guess he doesn't want us to burn ourselves out."

Walker Headed for Friday Surgery

Kevin Garnett, who went through another full practice today, is certainly on the mend, but the news for Bill Walker is not as positive. After his MRI in Boston yesterday, Walker is slated to have a right knee arthroscopy tomorrow morning at New England Baptist Hospital. According to Doc Rivers' remarks after today's practice, Walker has a meniscus tear and is expected to miss at least 6-8 weeks.

Day 2 Recap Video

KG Completes Practice, TA Gives It a Go

The Celtics went through Day 2 in Newport Wednesday, and this time Kevin Garnett went the distance, completing the entire practice as he continues his climb back to 100%.

"When I get out and sprint I really can't [get going] like I really want to, but each day I'm getting better and better," Garnett said, making a motor sound to describe how he'd like to be running. "Eighty-five percent, 90 percent would be pretty accurate."

The 2008 Defensive Player of the Year seems to be taking solace in the fact that his defensive abilities are returning quicker than his offense.

"Where I'm most excited and uplifted is on defense. I'm able to move laterally, and recover when a guy makes a strong move," Garnett said. "I can respond to that and react to that."

"Offense is just about mixing up schemes and getting people off balance. But it'll come. Strengthening, conditioning, of the leg, is going to take patience on my part. I push it to the limit until Ed [Lacerte] gives me the Daddy look like he wants to kill me."

Tony Allen, on the other hand, participated in his first practice of the camp today after sitting out Tuesday's session.

"I'm not where I want to be, but I'm gonna get it together," Allen said. "Today when I came in I stretched, started doing my individual stuff and I felt good, I didn't feel any pulling in my ankle. The swelling felt like it was down, and I said, 'Why not give it a shot?'"

- Peter Stringer

Everyone looks forward to the warm breeze of summertime and the relaxing tone that often accompanies it. After all, summer is supposed to be the most laid-back and stress-free time of the year, right?

Well... at least for some people.

For others, it's time to get to work. While many were out sunbathing, taking vacations and enjoying time off from school or work, people like Danny Ainge were scouring the basketball universe for ways to upgrade their basketball teams.

Two summers ago, Ainge was the mastermind that constructed two blockbuster deals that resulted in the current version of the Big Three in Boston. That task was far from simple, eating up much of that summer, but he got it done. In June of 2008, he tasted the fruits of that labor when the Celtics brought home their 17th NBA championship trophy.

Following a quiet summer in 2008, at least in a roster sense, the 2008-09 season wasn't all smiles and celebrations. After losing Kevin Garnett to a season-ending knee injury in March, the C's came up short in their title defense and were knocked out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It was a bitter disappointment for a team that was set on placing themselves into the select category of back-to-back NBA champions.

In the short term, it hurts. It always hurts to miss out on achieving realistic goals. But in the long run, it may wind up being a good thing. The hunger for championships never left the minds of anyone such as Paul Pierce, Garnett, Ray Allen or Ainge, but coming up short can only make that hunger grow stronger.

So how was Ainge going to put his team back in prime position for a 2010 title run? The answer is simple in concept: another busy summer.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Video: Rasheed Wallace

Video: Kevin Garnett

Video: Paul Pierce

Video: Kendrick Perkins

Morning Update

12:25 p.m. - Practice is underway here at Salve Regina in Newport, Rhode Island, about 90 minutes south of Boston. The team arrived last night after Media Day in Waltham, and according to P.R. chief Jeff Twiss, all 16 players, including training camp invitee Mike Sweetney, are in action.

As for Sweetney, who played one game with the Celtics in the Orlando Summer League before sustaining a hamstring injury that finished his week, he's on a mission to show the NBA, if not the Celtics, that he's ready to make a comeback. He acknowledged on Monday that he's picked basically the hardest roster in the league to crack, but he plans on giving it his best shot.

"I just expect to come out here and do what I do, and that's come out and compete and show people I can still play and I'm able to compete in this league," Sweetney said.

Sweetney said he's been around the team for a month or so, and he expects this team to win it all.

"I've never seen a brotherhood [like this before], how everybody's together off the floor and on the floor," Sweetney said. "On the floor, you see guys competing so hard, and when they leave the floor they don't take it with them. I've just never seen anything like that. It's a great organization to be in."

Of course, the big story at camp this year is the return to action of Kevin Garnett, who's coming off an offseason knee injury that kept him out of the postseason and kept the Celtics from getting a shot at defending their 2008 NBA Championship at full strength.

"Last year was the first year I've ever been injured. Not hurt, but injured," said Garnett. "That was tough for me because I don't like to sit on the bench because it's already driving me crazy that I can't play. I couldn't help and had to help with my mouth and my cheerleading and my wisdom more than anything or going out and being productive and helping my team."

Garnett also said he gained a new perspective on what it takes to be successful in the NBA, and it was painful to endure.

"One thing that stood out, and one thing I learned, is that it takes everybody to win. All facets of life have to be lined up, health-wise, chemistry, all the things have to be lined up. You need a little bit of luck on your side also, but from my perspective it was excruciating. It was hard sitting there watching my guys get beat up, fight and claw and try to fight their way through knowing that physically you can't do anything about it."

Good ol' Media Day. It's the day NBA players often dread, but the media absolutely loves. It's the only day when asking every quirky question you can pull out of your hat isn't abnormal to these superstar athletes. The press had that opportunity today at Media Day 2009, the official tipoff to the Celtics season.

Amid the oddball questions like, "What's your top childhood Christmas memory?", basketball was definitely in the air. Between stops at different stations (and believe me, there were a lot of those), Celtics players bounced balls and shot at every hoop on their path. You could tell what was really on their mind. Although it was a comedy session at times, the players also had their game faces on when speaking about the upcoming season.

If there was one thing to take out of this day, it's that this team is all business and ready to make a run deep into the playoffs. No matter how many questions popped up about contract negotiations, "windows of opportunity," and possible rotation issues, every player came back to one thing: winning an 18th NBA championship for the Celtics franchise -- this season.

With a stacked roster that adds major depth upgrades to nearly every position from last season, that goal is more than just possible. It's expected. Paul Pierce noted that by adding Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels, two players who started for their respective teams last season, the C's are now one of the deepest teams this league has seen in a long time. Wallace went into a little more detail regarding the Celtics' frontline, saying that you'd be hard-pressed to find a group of big men that communicate and play defense like the bigs Boston will throw at their opponents this season.

As the day began to wind down and the hour hand creeped closer and closer to 4 p.m., it was obvious that the players were getting antsy. No matter how fun it is to record videos, show off your personality and get to know the new reporters in town, players know what they're really there for, and that's to play basketball. At 4:30 p.m., the team wrapped up the show and boarded a bus destined for training camp in Newport, RI. Today was the official opening day of their season, but tomorrow is when the real work begins.

Be sure to check back to Celtics.com tomorrow and throughout the week for more content from Media Day and training camp in Newport.

- Marc D'Amico

Media Day Photos

The Boston Celtics took another step today toward rounding out their roster for a run at the 2010 NBA Championship. Just three weeks after the team bolstered their frontcourt depth with the re-signing of power forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis and the addition of 6-foot-9 forward/center Shelden Williams, the team today announced that the backcourt has added some depth, too, in the form of veteran guard Marquis Daniels.

Daniels had been rumored to be on his way to wearing Celtics green for weeks, but today's signing finally made it official. Daniels is coming off of a year in which he averaged career-highs of 13.6 PPG and 4.6 APG for Indiana. He is a six-year NBA veteran who can play numerous positions and will provide great depth off the bench in support of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and possibly Rajon Rondo.

Press Release

- Marc D'Amico

You'd be hard-pressed to find a team in the NBA with more depth in the frontcourt than the Boston Celtics. The C's made a splash in the free agent market by signing forward-center Rasheed Wallace early in the offseason, but brought in even more depth today by re-signing Glen Davis and adding Shelden Williams. The Celtics held a joint press conference today in Waltham to announce both signings.

Davis returns after a stellar 2008-09 season in which he filled in for the injured Kevin Garnett and averaged 15.8 PPG and 5.6 RPG in the 2009 Playoffs. Williams, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, has averaged 4.7 PPG and 4.2 RPG in his career.

Glen Davis Release | Shelden Williams Release

- Marc D'Amico

BOSTON, MA - The Boston Celtics announced today that the club has re-signed forward Glen Davis to a contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Glen has been a big part of our success for the past two years and we are very excited to have him back," said Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations.

Full Press Release

BOSTON, MA - The Boston Celtics announced today that the club has signed free agent center/forward Shelden Williams to a contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Williams, a 6'9", 250 lbs center/forward, was originally drafted with the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. The former Duke Blue Devil has posted career averages of 4.7 points and 4.2 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per game. After being acquired by the Minnesota Timberwolves from the Sacramento Kings on February 19, 2009, he appeared in 15 games for his new team and averaged 4.9 points and 5.0 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game.

The NBA Draft is over. Summer League is over. The free agent pool is quickly dwindling. Those are signs of the summer coming to an end. You know what that means -- the upcoming season is right around the corner.

Another sign of the season quickly approaching is the release of the 2009-10 NBA schedule. That happened today, and Celtics.com has broken down the Celtics schedule to let you know what dates to mark on your calendar, what holidays you'll see your team playing on and what stretches of the season might be challenging and intriguing.

Check out the links below to find it all out and take a peek at the schedule with your own eyes!

Celtics.com Schedule Breakdown | Full Schedule

- Marc D'Amico

BOSTON, MA - The Boston Celtics announced today that the club has requested waivers on guard Gabe Pruitt.

Pruitt was originally drafted by the Celtics with the 32nd pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. The 6'4", 170-pound guard appeared in 62 career games over two seasons with the team averaging 2.0 points per game. Pruitt most recently appeared for the Celtics during the 2009 Orlando Summer League and posted averages of 10.6 points, 4.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

Rasheed Makes First Appearance as a Celtic

Five familiar faces of the Celtics' basketball family took the stage today to introduce their newest teammate, four-time All-Star forward/center Rasheed Wallace.

With President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge, Head Coach Doc Rivers and his new running mates, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett by his side, Wallace met the Boston press for the first time.

Throughout the press conference, it was hard to ignore what was sitting over Wallace's left shoulder, raised high on the back wall of the practice court. It's the scoreboard -- a scoreboard that will serve as an indicator to he and his teammates regarding what's taking place on the court during their many practice sessions to come. Today it was an indicator, too.

Read More | Photos

Setting up in Waltham

The media section is beginning to fill up and we're almost set to kick off the official welcome of Rasheed Wallace to the Boston Celtics.

Wallace is scheduled to take the stage at 4 p.m. today to speak with the media along with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Danny Ainge. Head Coach Doc Rivers may be making an appearance as well, but that still isn't set in stone.

- Marc D'Amico

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed free agent center/forward Rasheed Wallace. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"We are ecstatic to be able to add a player the caliber of Rasheed Wallace to our team," said Celtics President of Basketball Operations, Danny Ainge. "It is not every day that you can add a four-time All-Star and a player with championship experience."

Full Release

Lester Hudson is older than Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins, but he's starting from scratch as the 58th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. He knows he's a long shot to make the roster.

"It was hard growing up for me, I used to play in the playgrounds with older guys pushing on me," said Hudson, who turns 25 on August 7. "I just want to compete every day, work hard in practice and show Danny [Ainge] that I'm the right guy for the pick."

Hudson was very quiet and seemed a bit intimidated by all of the attention this morning in Waltham. You know the guy's feeling out of place when he's calling members of the Boston media "sir". But he'll learn. He did loosen up a bit when he talked about his legendary quadruple-double, and how his college coach put him back in to get the final steal and assist he needed to make history at the Tennessee-Martin.

More from Waltham on Hudson, Big Baby, Leon Powe, and Eddie House...

NEW YORK, June 29, 2009 -- The National Basketball Association and the NBA Development League, the official minor league of the NBA, today announced the affiliation system for the 2009-10 season, including the announcement of a direct single-affiliation partnership between the Houston Rockets and Rio Grande Valley Vipers. For the fifth consecutive year, each NBA team has one NBA D-League affiliate to which it may assign players in their first or second NBA season.

The Rockets became the first NBA team to enter into a direct single-affiliation partnership with an NBA D-League team, granting the Rockets full control over the basketball operations of the Vipers. With the move, the Rockets will be the only parent-club of the team.

In a structure similar to other minor leagues, this new partnership model, previously referred to as the "hybrid affiliation," allows for NBA teams to secure control over and cover the expenses related to the basketball operations of an NBA D-League team, while partnering with existing local ownership, who maintain responsibility for the off-the-court business operations of the team.

Full Release

The Boston Celtics used their 58th pick of the 2009 NBA Draft to grab Lester Hudson, a senior combo guard out of Tennessee Martin.

Hudson declared for the NBA Draft in 2008 but pulled his name and returned for a stellar senior year in which he averaged 27.5 PPG, 7.9 RPG and 4.2 APG. He's a dynamic offensive talent who lit up the nets at a 44.9 percent clip during the 2008-09 season.

The four-year college player spent time playing both guard positions throughout his career and put up big numbers across the board in the process. He will add depth to the Celtics' backcourt and may be able to provide a nice scoring threat off of the bench.

- Marc D'Amico

More on Hudson

Danny Ainge briefly touched on injury updates today regarding Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe.

KG is on the fast track back to the court and is healing very well from his recent knee surgery. He was in Boston up until this past weekend, when he flew out to California to his summer home. The team set him up with trainers and physical therapists in California and he will also be visited by Head Athletic Trainer Ed Lacerte and Strength and Conditioning Coach Bryan Doo throughout the summer.

"KG is coming along great, very well. He should be 100 percent by the time we start training camp," Ainge said.

Powe is also recovering well from his knee surgery, but due to the severity of his injury, the timetable for his return is a bit more cloudy. Although he is rehabbing and doing well, Ainge does not expect Powe to be fully recovered by the start of the season.

- Marc D'Amico

Whenever the words "this week" can be associated with the NBA Draft, you know wild rumors are going to be running rampant. This year, no team in the NBA has been the subject of more draft-week rumors than the Boston Celtics.

Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge publicly addressed the media about the NBA Draft Tuesday morning in Waltham, and on top of questions about the 58th overall selection that the team owns, there were plenty regarding the rumor mill.

With the 58th pick, Ainge said he doesn't expect to acquire a player who will make immediate contributions, but that doesn't rule out the possibility of picking up an impact player by moving into the first round.

"We're also exploring options of players that we really like that we might move up in the draft, and what the price might be to move up in the draft," he said. "I think that's unlikely, though. I think moving up in the draft is going to be unlikely."

The reason? Ainge has found that the price to move up isn't cheap, and he doesn't want to sacrifice his team's current talent for a developmental project.

"There's not a need in drafting somebody that's not as good as the players that you have," said Ainge.

With that in mind, although he thinks the possibility of acquiring a top pick is off the radar for the Celtics, he did state that he believes there are numerous top picks available for the right price tag.

If Boston doesn't move up in the draft, Ainge likens their position to trying to find a player like Ryan Gomes, who was extremely successful at the collegiate level but for some reason or another (height, length, quickness) he has slipped under the radar.

"Usually when you draft in the 50's [you're] looking for a diamond in the rough," he said.

One player whose name was tossed in Ainge's direction was Jeff Adrien, a 6-foot-6 forward out of Connecticut. Coincidentally, Adrien was downstairs in the practice facility preparing for a six-player workout that was to begin following Ainge's press conference.

Slava Kravstov (C, Ukraine), Robert Dozier (PF, Memphis), Aaron Jackson (PG, Duquesne), Bryan Mullins (PG, Southern Illinois) and Geoff McDermott (SF, Providence) were slated to participate in the workout alongside Adrien.

Next on tap, which was certainly expected, was the massive trade rumors that have swirled around the league concerning the Celtics' budding star point guard, Rajon Rondo.

Ainge made it clear that he will never go out on a limb and publicly state that any player is "untradeable," but he did state emphatically that the Celtics are extremely pleased with Rondo as a person and player and are intrigued by his future potential.

"We love Rajon, and I think everybody in here knows how good of a player he is and what sort of a bright future he has," he said.

"The notion that we might be trading him because of some reason, other than we think that we could be better... [like] his contract situation, I've heard speculation. I've heard speculation of 'We're dissatisfied with him and his attitude.' That stuff is so false. 'He showed up late for a playoff game, so we're going to trade him.' None of those things are true. We love the kid. And we think he's got a very bright future."

To take things to another level, Ainge said he expects no trades this offseason that include any of the Celtics' core players.

Overall, and as expected, Ainge avoided giving any concrete answers concerning the Celtics' plans for Thursday night's draft. While he denied many rumors, he left many possibilities open for possible moves. If we've learned anything in the recent past concerning Ainge's draft-night strategies, it's to never say never and be prepared for anything.

No big moves are anticipated at the moment, and the C's stand at No. 58 on the draft board. Only time will tell if that's where Ainge keeps them.

- Marc D'Amico