Post Ups Notebook: 2010-11

Post Ups Notebook 2011-12

Pregame - Thoughts on Pierce Heading to All-Star Weekend

Well it’s official: The Boston Celtics will be represented at the 2012 NBA All-Star game in Orlando. The catch is that their presence will be more limited than it has been since 2008.

Paul Pierce was the only Celtic player selected to the game, as Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen were snubbed and Kevin Garnett’s streak of 14 consecutive All-Star appearances comes to a close.

Boston’s players didn’t exactly help themselves out when they started the season out slowly, and Rondo didn’t make the team because he missed eight of the team’s 24 games thus far. Allen and Rivers were two members of the Celtics who think that the lockout has a lot to do with Boston’s limited representation in the All-Star game this season.

Rivers spoke openly about the fact that voting, both for starters and reserves, took place far too early.

“Listen, I was sitting on my couch and they announced the starters and I was floored because I didn’t even know they started the voting. And I’m serious – I didn’t even know the voting had started,” said Rivers. “I think that we could have waited at least another week to do the subs, so I just thought it was too early.”

Allen took a different approach. He didn’t exactly state that he thinks voting took place too early, instead choosing to explain how that early voting affected the All-Star team rosters.

“Based on a regular schedule, based on games, the All-Star break is after 40-something games and we’re at, what, 24?” said Allen. “So you figure 20 more games, things start to average out, level out, and if the great players had tough starts their numbers would start to pick up and average out. So that’s all it is.”

Regardless of what the reasons are, the fact is that Pierce is the only Celtic heading to Orlando for the festivities later this month. It’s possible that another Celtic could be added to the roster due to injuries, but that’s all speculation.

Having just one player in the game could be news for the C’s in the long run, though. This schedule is brutal on the body, and I’m sure none of them will complain about some time off.

Game Links: Bobcats 84, Celtics 94

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame - Stiemsma's Contract is Guaranteed

Greg Stiemsma can exhale – his contract has been guaranteed for the remainder of the season.

The team did not release a statement regarding the move, and it didn’t even officially deliver the news to Stiemsma. Instead, he found out the old fashioned way.

“It was a case of no news is good news,” Stiemsma said with a smile before tonight’s game.

Thanks to his contract being picked up for the remainder of the season, Stiemsma can now fully settle into Boston both physically and mentally. He has been living on a month-to-month basis in his apartment, and he acknowledged that it will be nice to walk into that apartment tonight and officially be able to call it his long-term home. In addition, he doesn’t need to worry about impressing his coaches or teammates in order to remain in the league for the remainder of the year. He’s here for good in 2012.

Stiemsma made it a point to state that the one thing that doesn’t change as a result of the guarantee is his drive. He told reporters that he will continue to use his drive to get better at this game that he loves so much, particularly at the defensive end.

Interestingly enough, his defense is what has him sticking around Boston for the foreseeable future. He is a shot blocker, and that’s the first thing Doc Rivers noticed when he flipped on the tape of Stiemsma prior to training camp in December.

“He piqued my interest immediately,” Rivers said. “With tape, obviously we show a lot of the good things, but a lot of those good things were shot blocks that you thought there was no way he could get to, and he kept getting to them.”

Stiemsma’s shot blocking skills will be around for a while, and that fact put a huge smile on his face in the locker room before tonight’s game. He received congratulations from several teammates, including his fellow rookies E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, as well as Mickael Pietrus. We’d like to congratulate him as well. It’s a long road from the NBDL to a guaranteed contract in the NBA, and he finally knows how it feels to complete that journey.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Grizzlies 80, Celtics 98

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Knicks 89, Celtics 91

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Raptors 64, Celtics 100

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame - A Little Super Bowl Talk

There wasn’t much news breaking during tonight’s pregame media availability. As Doc Rivers said, “Everyone who was available last night is available tonight.”

With that being said, let’s give you a little football note as we inch closer to Super Bowl Sunday this weekend.

If you’ve ever been wondering which NFL team Ray Allen follows and loves, wonder no longer. He is a die-hard New England Patriots fan. He told us tonight that he has been a Patriots fan for nearly 20 years now, dating all the way back to his arrival at UConn.

Allen said that due to him growing up all over the country and world, he was never able to attach himself to a hometown team. When he moved to Connecticut, though, that all changed. As you can imagine, he met people from Massachusetts all the time, and those fans helped sway him in the Patriots’ direction.

Now, nearly 20 years later, his fandom is at an all-time high. As he alluded to this evening, he has an attachment to the team and this city that most fans can relate to.

“You have that sense of pride when [the Patriots] win,” he said.

Regarding Sunday’s festivities, Allen said he plans to have some folks over, including some teammates. He loves to play the role of host and said he’d certainly invite his teammates over for some bonding time during the game.

You could head over to Allen’s place for some bonding time, too, but you might run into one small problem.

“My door’s always open. You just have to get through the gates first,” he said with a smile.

Doc Rivers actually wishes that the C’s wouldn’t have any time to watch the game Sunday night. He said he would prefer Boston’s game on Sunday to be at night, rather than noon, because that would allow him to hold a legitimate practice session on Sunday. Practice has been a rarity for every team in the league during this condensed season, and when games are scheduled at tough times like noon, it prevents them from getting on the court to work on their skills.

Rivers did acknowledge that if his team did play Sunday night, it might not be a very successful game.

“Obviously, I don’t think anyone would watch or come,” he said while laughing, “but it would be nice for us.”

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 93, Cavaliers 90

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Cavaliers 88, Celtics 87

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame - C's Get a Boost with Allen's Return

The Celtics will get at least one of their three injured starters back for tonight’s game against the Cavaliers, and it may wind up turning into two.

Ray Allen, who has missed the past three games with a jammed left ankle, will return to the lineup and start at shooting guard tonight. He says that he’s feeling by far the best that he has since injuring the ankle a week ago.

Boston may still be missing two other starters, though, as Rajon Rondo (right wrist) is definitely out and Jermaine O’Neal (left knee) is questionable. Rondo is close to returning, but the C’s are taking their time in getting him back into the lineup. The hope is that he will be available for Tuesday night’s game in Cleveland.

O’Neal may be in the starting lineup when the ball is tossed up tonight, but he may also be dressed in street clothes. Doc Rivers called it “50-50” that O’Neal would play tonight, and he made that proclamation about 50 minutes prior to tip off. When a player’s availability is still questionable less than an hour before tipoff, it typically means that he won’t be available. We’ll have to wait and see if that trend is bucked tonight and O’Neal makes it into the lineup.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Pacers 87, Celtics 94

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 91, Magic 83

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Magic 56, Celtics 87

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 100, Wizards 94

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Suns 79, Celtics 71

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame - Rondo Out, Bradley In

Avery Bradley will get the start tonight as Rajon Rondo is sidelined with a sprained right wrist. Bradley and E'Twaun Moore chatted with Keyon Dooling before the game about some things to look out for while defending Steve Nash.

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Dealing with Several Injuries

WALTHAM, Mass. – Having a completely healthy team isn’t something Doc Rivers has experienced very often over the past few seasons, and this compact 2011-12 schedule isn’t helping him in that regard.

The Boston Celtics have been suffering bumps and bruises since Day 1 of training camp and it is putting them behind the eight-ball when it comes to turning their season around. The C’s are coming off of a blowout victory on Wednesday night, but they’re also trying to recover from several injuries suffered before and during that game.

Rajon Rondo suffered Boston’s most pressing injury during the third quarter of Wednesday night’s win. Linas Kleiza of the Raptors flagrantly fouled him with 2:12 remaining in the third period and Rondo went down hard, falling awkwardly onto his right arm. For a moment, it looked like another hyperextended elbow, but the prognosis wound up being that he simply tweaked his right wrist.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Raptors 73, Celtics 96

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame - Casey Says C's Are Fine, Hints at Lineup change

First-year Toronto head coach Dwane Casey tells Celtics.com that the Celtics will be just fine, and he says that based on personal experience. He also hints at a possible lineup change that could shake things up for the Raptors.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Thunder 97, Celtics 88

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame - Perk's Return, Boston's Challenge

In the first edition of the Post Ups Video Blog, we preview Kendrick Perkins' return to Boston and the Celtics' challenge of defending Kevin Durant and James Harden. To watch the video, just click here.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 83, Pacers 97

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Bulls 88, Celtics 79

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame - With Dooling Out, Moore Will Get Minutes

There have been some calls for rookie E’Twaun Moore to get some minutes this season for the Celtics, and it looks like he’s going to get that chance tonight.

Keyon Dooling, who has been Boston’s first guard off of the bench, will not play tonight due to a sore knee and that frees up minutes in the backcourt. Moore is set to grab hold of some of those minutes tonight, and as Doc Rivers said during pregame, it may be the start of a long-term trend.

“I can make the case that running the pure point guard spot he may be the best option,” Rivers said when speaking about his reserves. “We’ve gone to Keyon because of experience, and I like Keyon at the two, I think you guys know that, so this may be the start of it.”

It will definitely be the start of it if Moore can produce and play a mistake-free game. He has shown since the moment he showed up in Boston that he can slow the game down and at times look like a vet. He looks like a four-year college player, and that’s a great sign for the C’s.

The issue tonight, though, is that when he’s on the court he may have the reigning MVP staring him in the face. Derrick Rose, who will play tonight despite a tweaked ankle, is one of the most dynamic players in the league. He can blow by great defenders on a nightly basis, so a rookie like Moore would have his hands full.

Rivers knows that Moore isn’t exactly a defensive specialist like Avery Bradley, but the rookie is apparently holding his own at the defensive end..

“Him and JaJuan, for rookies, they understand it pretty well,” said the head coach. “I think E’Twaun is learning that the game is played at a different intensity.”

Moore is bound to get a taste of that intensity tonight, because these are two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The records may only indicate that one of these teams is elite, but we all know that the Celtics will be in the thick of things come the end of the season. We’ll get a good idea tonight if Moore is going to be one of the players who helps Boston get there by the end of April.

- Marc D'Amico

Rondo Rising During Point Guard Renaissance

BOSTON – Ten years ago the point guard position was possibly the weakest position in the entire NBA. There were only two point guards in the league who averaged more than 9.0 APG during the 2001-02 season.

Fast-forward to the present day and you could easily make the argument that point guard is the deepest position in the NBA, highlighted by the likes of Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and Deron Williams. Nearly every team in the league has either a star player or a youngster who’s capable of reaching star status at that position.

One of the men who has already reached that level is the Rondo, who’s starring for the Boston Celtics. He is a two-time All-Star and finished second in the league in assists last year with 11.2 dimes per game. That average trailed only two-time MVP Steve Nash’s average of 11.4 per game.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Mavericks 90, Celtics 85

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame - Pietrus Will Debut Tonight in Garden

You probably already know this, but Mickael Pietrus will finally make his debut with the Celtics tonight. No, it’s not the addition of an All-Star, but it will certainly be a boost to this Celtics bench that doesn’t necessarily have a ton of scorers.

Pietrus has had some big games against the Celtics in the past. Many fans, and even his new teammates, will remember those performances and the big shots he has hit in this building. That type of play is what Rajon Rondo wants to see from his new swingman.

“(I expect) What he’s been doing against us: toughness, a big heart, defensive intensity, the intangibles on the court,” Rondo told me before the game.

Doc Rivers likely expects those characteristics to be displayed by No. 28, too. Rivers just wants to be sure that everyone tapers their expectations here in the first few games of Pietrus’ season.

“He was great in practice, but listen, he hasn’t played in a while,” said Rivers. “The practices are one thing, but when you get out there with live bodies and NBA speed it’s a whole different thing.

“The thing I think he’ll give us right away is defense. I think he understands the schemes already, and he plays so hard defensively. And then the thing we want him to do is to make those open shots, which he can do.”

Pietrus is also confident that he already knows the schemes. He has been watching the team play for almost three weeks, and he’s been shooting around with them for a couple of weeks, so in his mind, he’s ready to go.

“I’ve been around the league enough to watch practice and learn the plays,” Pietrus said. “I’m going to make mistakes, but I’m a pro. I’m looking forward to getting on the floor tonight, if I’m able to, and help the team.”

I don’t think he’ll have to worry about getting out there and helping the team tonight. From what his coaches and players have said, he just has to be himself and everything else will fall into place.

- Marc D'Amico

Pietrus Set To Debut; C's Working Hard

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Boston Celtics may not have Marquis Daniels available for tomorrow night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, as he’s struggling with a cold, but that doesn’t mean they won’t still have a 6-foot-6 swingman to back up Paul Pierce.

Mickael Pietrus, who signed with Boston on Dec. 24, will make his debut in a Celtics jersey on Wednesday against the defending champs. And he’ll be able to do it in front of the home crowd.

The swingman could turn out to be an enormous pickup for the Celtics this season. With Daniels struggling both on the court and with his recent cold, there are minutes that are open for the taking. Pietrus is a proven veteran who will be able to snag up many of those minutes behind Pierce at small forward, and also behind Ray Allen at shooting guard.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Conditioning is at Core of Celtics' Issues

WALTHAM, Mass. – If you thought the Boston Celtics looked slow, lethargic and tired during their last two games, you and Doc Rivers have something in common.

Boston went 1-1 over the course of those two contests but scored a total of only 59 points in the first half of those games. Their 25-point performance during the first half of Friday night’s loss to Indiana tied a franchise record for the least amount of points scored by the Celtics in a single half. Ever.

With the evidence of fatigue staring him directly in the face, Rivers knew it was time to give his team some time off. Luckily, during this condensed 2011-12 season, the schedule just so happened to agree with him.

Boston will have had four consecutive days without a game before their next contest on Wednesday night, and that allowed Rivers to give his players the entire weekend off from full-fledged practice. Many of the reserves were in Waltham putting in work on Sunday, but it was not anywhere near a full practice.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Pacers 87, Celtics 74

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame - Vogel Compares Granger's Development to Pierce's

Would you compare Kevin Durant to Kobe Bryant? How about Kevin Garnett to Dwight Howard? My guess is no, because those players have completely different skill sets and, for the most part, play different positions.

Such differences didn’t keep Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel from making a bold comparison before tonight’s game, though. The second-year coach compared his top player, Danny Granger, to Boston’s most tenured Celtic, Paul Pierce.

“I coached Paul as a young player, as a rookie, even into where Danny is in his sixth year in the league,” Vogel said. “And I think Danny is capable of reaching that level that Paul reached, where in his ninth, 10th, 11th years he’s competing for a championship.”

Vogel watched the evolution of Pierce first hand. He also watched, both from within and from the outside, as Pierce and the Celtics turned themselves from a mediocre team into a perennial championship contender.

“Most of the young guys that are on the teams that we play, you look at our scouting reports and they’re built to stop them from scoring,” Allen said. “The players that take it to the next level are the ones that end up learning and understanding how to play better with the guys around them, making the guys around them better.”

In Granger’s defense, Doc Rivers thinks that both of these small forwards were forced to carry the scoring load for their teams early in their career. Pierce has since adapted to playing around other future Hall of Famers, and Rivers believes that Granger will make a similar adjustment over the next few years of his career.

“I think that actually will happen,” Rivers said about Granger taking the next step in his career. “I think he’s grown as a kid. He’s not just a scorer anymore, and I guess in that way it’s a similarity (to Pierce). He’s starting to do more things for the team to win games.”

Those adjustments have helped the Pacers to become relevant again. As Vogel mentioned at the start of his media availability, there is a buzz around this team this season that hasn’t existed in quite some time. The head coach, Granger and the rest of the Indiana franchise are hoping that the buzz will turn into championships, much the way it did for Pierce and the Celtics. Indiana’s potential is most definitely there, but the Celtics are hoping it doesn’t bud into titles anytime soon.

- Marc D'Amico

Dooling's Arrival Flies Under Radar

WALTHAM, Mass. – What was the biggest acquisition of the Boston Celtics’ offseason?

Think long and hard about your answer and you may never come up with the response Doc Rivers might give on the subject.

Brandon Bass would be the typical answer, right? After all, he might be the early season favorite for Sixth Man of the Year.

But dig deeper into the Celtics’ offseason and find the acquisition that flies under the radar; the move that didn’t make a splash in the NBA, but is definitely making a splash within Boston’s locker room.

The Boston Celtics acquired Keyon Dooling from the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 9, 2011, but that move didn’t garner much attention from anywhere other than the team’s front office in Waltham, Mass.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Nets 70, Celtics 89

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame - All-Star Voting Opens, Surprises Rondo

We’re only six games into the 2011-12 season, but All-Star voting has already begun. We’re typically more than a month into the season before voting begins for the annual All-Star game, which means players haven’t had much time at all to make an impression on the fans across the world.

Some guys, though, think that their impression has already been made. Rajon Rondo is one of them.

Rondo is a two-time All-Star himself and I chatted with him before tonight’s game about the fact that voting has already opened up. After initially joking around that he needed to pull out his phone and cast a vote for himself, Rondo was concise on his thoughts about making the team for a third straight season.

I asked him if he thought the early voting would help him, seeing as his name is recognizable due to his two straight appearances. His answer was simple: "If they don’t know me by now, they’ll never know me."

Rondo had no idea that voting began today, but he did note that there should be plenty of time for the fans across the world to make their preferences be known as to who should be in the game. After all, the game isn’t until Feb. 26.

"That’s enough to get your favorite player in," he said with a grin.

In other words, that’s plenty of time for you to get Rondo, Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce into the game. You can do so by visiting the online voting center – which is the only avenue to cast votes this year – by clicking here.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Wizards 92, Celtics 100

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame - Wilcox Returns in the Nick of Time

Chris Wilcox has been out of the lineup with a bruised left shoulder for nearly a week now after suffering the injury in Boston’s second game of the season. His return will come tonight, and it comes just in the nick of time.

Jermaine O’Neal tweaked his left hamstring last night during Boston’s 94-86 win over the Wizards in Washington and he won’t play tonight. Doc Rivers says that it was simply a suggestion by athletic trainer Ed Lacerte that O’Neal not play tonight, not that the team’s starting center shouldn’t play.

Rivers listened to that suggestion, which means the starting center position needs to be filled. Greg Stiemsma, who has recorded 10 blocks in 49 minutes of action this season, will get the start at center.

If Wilcox couldn’t play tonight, the Celtics would be left without a reserve that was brought to this team with the intention of playing center. As you can imagine, it’s a sigh of relief that he’s healthy enough to give it a go tonight, giving Rivers a legit big man option off the bench to play in the middle.

Wilcox will be playing with a padded undershirt tonight that will help to protect his injured shoulder. He spoke to the media in the locker room about 70 minutes before tip-off and said that he has worked out and taken some hits on the shoulder, and that the pain hasn’t been too much to hold him back.

Although Wilcox is available, expect the Celtics to play some small ball tonight with Kevin Garnett and/or Brandon Bass logging minutes at center. With Stiemsma being a rookie and Wilcox just returning from an injury and being a new player on this team, Rivers might have to rely more on a small lineup tonight than he has all season.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 94, Wizards 86

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Pistons 85, Celtics 96

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame - Pierce Returns; Wilcox and Pietrus on Their Way

It’s Opening Night at the TD Garden, and it’s Opening Night for Paul Pierce.

The Captain will make his return to the lineup tonight against the Detroit Pistons after missing the first three games of the season. And yes, he’ll be in the starting lineup. How many minutes will he actually play? That’s still up in the air.

"I don’t know yet, we’ll just go by our eyes," Doc Rivers said about Pierce’s expected minutes tonight. "He’s had one practice this year, and that was three weeks ago… we’ll just go by eye sight and what he knows offensively and defensively and his rhythm, and just build him up each game."

Pierce’s return to the lineup, along with his 18.9 PPG scoring average from a season ago, will be quite the addition to a Celtics team that enters tonight’s contest with an 0-3 record. Boston struggled offensively Wednesday night, scoring just 78 points against New Orleans. The C’s would likely eclipse that number without their captain on the court tonight, but with him they have the potential to blow that number out of the water.

Two other players who will be entering the lineup soon are Chris Wilcox and Mickael Pietrus, who signed with the team during the recently concluded road trip.

Wilcox bruised his left shoulder during Wednesday night’s game in New Orleans, but the injury doesn’t seem to be very serious. It has improved so much, in fact, that the Celtics and Wilcox have decided not to give him an MRI. He continues to improve each day and he and Rivers expect the big man to return to the lineup in one of the next two games, which are both against the Washington Wizards.

Pietrus is a whole other story. He just signed with the team and is making a comeback from offseason knee surgery. The surgery was arthroscopic, so relatively minor, but he’s still not in game shape yet.

Danny Ainge said earlier this afternoon that Pietrus is 1-2 weeks away from playing in games, and Rivers echoed that sentiment before tonight’s contest. That doesn’t mean the swingman couldn’t appear in front of the media, though, which he chose to do about 90 minutes before tipoff.

Pietrus was on the court for a minor workout, but before he went into his shooting drills he stopped to chat with a few media members. I know Pietrus from my days in Orlando, but the rest of the media crew here doesn’t. That’s why they asked him the following question: Why are you smiling throughout this interview? Pietrus’ answer is short and sweet.

"I’m always that way, because life is short," Pietrus said with his big smile." You have to [enjoy] every moment and live life."

This man loves life and he loves basketball. He wants to win a championship, and that’s why he’s here in Boston. The championship hasn’t come yet, but Pietrus confirmed to the press tonight that the Celtics at least added another quality person to their roster while they pursue Banner 18.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 78, Hornets 97

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 107, Heat 115

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 104, Knicks 106

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame - Pierce Out for Opener in Manhattan

Paul Pierce made the trip to NYC with the Celtics, but he won't suit up in green today. The bone bruise in his heel is still not right, and rather than risk further injury, the captain will take a seat in the season opener.

"I feel day-to-day. Everyone understands how competitive I am," Pierce said. "If there was a chance I could play I'd be out there."

Doc Rivers told reporters that Sasha Pavlovic would start in Pierce's place, and he expects the substitution to be a short-term move. If he expected Pierce to be out longer, he said he'd likely move Marquis Daniels to the first unit. The move to put Pavlovic in with the starters is designed to keep his bench unit together for consistency's sake.

Meanwhile, new acquisition Mickael Pietrus is not in New York, but may join the team as soon as Tuesday in Miami, according to Rivers.

- Peter Stringer

Ainge, Rivers Prepare for Hectic Preseason

WALTHAM, Mass. - It’s beginning to look a lot like basketball season in Boston.

For the first time this season, Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers appeared side-by-side for a media session in Waltham, Mass., to talk about basketball, and in particular, their players.

The 2011-12 season is scheduled to begin on Christmas Day with a myriad of star-studded games. The Celtics, both players and front office personnel, are now permitted to begin prepping for that day and speaking to the media about it.

Ainge and Rivers were the first Celtics to make their much-anticipated appearance on Thursday at the team’s practice facility, and they relayed several key messages in their 20-plus minutes of availability. The most important factor that was continuously hammered home was the fact that their team has a lot of work to do to fill out its roster.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Boston Drafts Dynamic Duo from Purdue

BOSTON – The first round of the 2011 NBA Draft was littered with trades, and one of them allowed the Boston Celtics to wind up snagging a dynamic duo of collegiate teammates.

It was initially announced that the Celtics had made a local selection with the No. 25 pick by choosing Providence College standout Marshon Brooks. Soon thereafter, though, it was announced that Boston had traded the rights to Brooks to the New Jersey Nets in exchange for the rights to former Purdue star JaJuan Johnson and a future second-round pick.

Thirty picks later, Boston chose another Boilermaker – E'Twaun Moore. The duo of Johnson and Moore combined to score nearly 53 percent of Purdue’s points during the 2010-11 NCAA season.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Dive Into the Draft: Celtics Workouts 2.0

BOSTON - In preparation for the NBA Draft, set to be held on June 23 in Newark, N.J., the Boston Celtics are holding private workouts with handfuls of players who are eligible to be drafted. This article outlines information regarding the players the Celtics worked out on June 11, 2011. The info contained on this page is purely a peek into the players' careers and does not in any way reflect the Celtics' evaluations of these players in preparation for draft night.

Malcolm Lee - UCLA

Position: Guard
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 200 pounds
Date of birth: 5/22/90
2010-11 statistics: 13.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.2 APG
Why you might know him: Lee was a two-year starter at one of the most prestigious basketball programs in the country, UCLA.
Background summary: Lee played three years at UCLA and started during the final two seasons of his stay in Westwood, Calif. Lee’s final two seasons at UCLA were pretty consistent across the board. He was the second-leading scorer on the Bruins’ team this season, notching 13.1 PPG. Lee scored a season-high 25 points against Oregon, and scored at least 18 points nine times this past season. After playing minimal minutes during his freshman season (10.7 minutes per game), Lee exploded onto the scene in his sophomore season and played at least 33.1 minutes per game over his final two campaigns. His free throw shooting dramatically improved during his stay at UCLA, improving from 41.7 percent during his freshman year, to 70.6 percent in his sophomore year, to 77.8 percent during his junior year.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Dive Into the Draft: Celtics Workouts

BOSTON - In preparation for the NBA Draft, set to be held on June 23 in Newark, N.J., the Boston Celtics are holding private workouts with handfuls of players who are eligible to be drafted. This article outlines information regarding some of the players the Celtics have worked out through June 10, 2011. The info contained on this page is purely a peek into the players' careers and does not in any way reflect the Celtics' evaluations of these players in preparation for draft night.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics announced today that guard Ray Allen has exercised his option for the 2011-12 season. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Allen, a 6-foot-5 guard, shot a career-high 44.4 percent from beyond the 3-point line during the 2010-11 season and averaged 16.5 points, 3.4 rebound, 2.7 assists and 0.96 steals per game. Allen made his 10th All-Star team for his work during the season and was named to his third All-Star appearance in four years with the Celtics. The former UConn Husky became the NBA’s all-time 3-point field goals made leader when he passed Reggie Miller against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 10, 2011. Allen is currently ranked as the 24th highest scorer in NBA history with 22,286 career points.

- Marc D'Amico

Post Ups Notebook 2010-11

O'Neal Closes His Career in Typical Shaq Fashion

BOSTON – It’s only one name, two words, or 16 characters, but those minimal descriptors don’t diminish the size and impact of "Shaquille O’Neal."

O’Neal, who today announced his retirement from the NBA after 19 memorable seasons, was a member of the Celtics organization for less than 10 months but still managed to change the aura surrounding the team. His immense presence was felt at every body of water he chose to dip his toes into.

From Day 1 with Boston, which arrived on Aug. 4, 2010, O’Neal set the tone with his larger-than-life personality. He showed up to his introductory press conference six days after signing his contract and wore a suit that was complimented by a tightly-knotted bow tie. If anyone didn’t already have an understanding that Shaq likes to do things his own way, they realized it quickly.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Sweep Knicks but Fall to Heat in Conference Semis

BOSTON – When the NBA Playoffs begin each season, every team’s record resets to 0-0. It’s a fresh start, and that’s why many teams grasp onto the notion that the postseason is a brand new season in itself.

One of those teams this year was the Boston Celtics, who finished the regular season by losing 11 of their final 21 games. The Celtics did, however, begin their playoff preparation far ahead of any other NBA team, and that’s why they headed into the playoffs savoring the fact that they had a clean slate.

After tumbling from the top seed in the Eastern Conference all the way down to third, Doc Rivers raised the white flag with two regular season games remaining on the schedule. Despite the slight possibility of catching the Miami Heat for the second seed in the East, which would have provided home court advantage in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Rivers deemed rest and practice to be more important.

That decision led to Boston’s Big Four sitting out the team’s final two games of the season, which eventually turned into an overtime loss to the Wizards and a win over the Knicks.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Shake Up Roster, Struggle After All-Star Break

BOSTON – The second half of the Boston Celtics’ season began in the exact fashion that the first half did, with six wins in their first seven games after the All-Star break. That record, however, wasn’t what caught the nation’s attention.

In a shocking move at the trade deadline, Danny Ainge and the Celtics decided to part ways with their starting center, Kendrick Perkins, in order to solidify their talent on the wing. Perkins was traded to Oklahoma City, along with Nate Robinson, in exchange for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and the rights to a future Los Angeles Clippers first-round pick.

The trade was scrutinized throughout the national media because it was the first time in the current Big Three era that Boston had traded away one of its core players. Perkins had been the starting center for what was now the fourth consecutive season with this group, which, when healthy, had never lost a playoff series. He was the rock that solidified the team’s interior defense.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Reach Several Milestones in Dominant First Half

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics coined the marketing slogan "All About 18" during the summer months heading into the 2010-11 NBA season. They were fresh off of a devastating loss in Game 7 of the previous season’s NBA Finals and were hell-bent on creating a monster during the offseason that would take home the organization’s 18th championship banner in June of 2011.

Boston’s summer began and ended with promise regarding that goal, leaving the Celts in prime position to make yet another run at that elusive banner. They re-signed several key players, including Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and added other proven veterans throughout the remainder of the summer who would undoubtedly make a difference.

The opening months of the NBA season let the other 29 teams know that the C’s weren’t over the hill, and that their questionable moves over the summer, such as signing an aging Shaquille O’Neal and a troubled Delonte West, weren’t as questionable as some thought. It all began on Opening Night, in what may have been the most anticipated season opener in the history of the NBA.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

High Five: Rivers Agrees to Long-Term Deal

WALTHAM, Mass. – The call didn’t come until June 30 of last summer, a little later than the Celtics would have liked. In comparison, when Doc Rivers picked up the phone nearly one year later to dial the same digits, he did so with perfect timing.

Danny Ainge approached a group of media members on Friday at the team’s practice facility in Waltham, Mass., to address the Celtics’ recently-concluded 2010-11 season. But as he came within five feet of the group, Ainge’s iPhone began blaring its Marimba ringtone. He looked down, saw who was calling and then looked up at the reporters: "Sorry, guys, this is my new head coach calling…"

Ainge swiftly disappeared back into the team’s weight room for about 10 minutes before reappearing and stepping in front of the cameras. His first sentence told us all just how important that phone call was.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 87, Heat 97

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

Morning Shootaround

MIAMI – Doc Rivers met with the media before Wednesday’s shootaround, and he said Rajon Rondo will play again in Game 5, but noted that his elbow is basically the same as it was for Game 4.

"I don’t know how much better he’s going to be," Rivers said.

The news isn’t so good on Shaquille O’Neal, either. Shaq, who played sparingly in Game 3 and Game 4, is considered doubtful for tonight, and if the Celtics force a Game 6 or beyond, he’s unlikely to play going forward. O’Neal played just one stint in Game 4, and didn’t return to the contest in the second half because he physically wasn’t able to.

"I will say I doubt it," Rivers said of the chances of Shaq taking the floor. "That little stretch of the game (he played), it got worse."

Undermanned or not, Rivers’ squad will attempt to stave off elimination against the Heat. Winning tonight’s Game 5 would give them a shot to get another home game on Friday, and pride will certainly come into play for the Celtics as they look to extend their season.

"They’ve got great pride," Rivers said, nothing later that all of the teams who didn’t have great pride have already been sent home.

Rivers expects an exceptional effort from his team tonight as they face possible elimination.

"I think you’ll see that tonight," he said. "I think I’ll enjoy the way we play."

- Peter Stringer

Game Links: Heat 98, Celtics 90

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

Pregame

Anyone who watched the first three games of this series between the Celtics and the Heat fully understands that the Boston team that showed up for Game 3 was completely different from the one that showed up for Games 1 and 2. The Heat understand that, too, and they realized such just seconds after tip off on Saturday night.

The Celtics came out with a level of intensity to start Game 3 that they may not have equaled at any prior point of the season. That level of intensity and energy staggered the Heat, and Chris Bosh in particular.

Bosh, speaking to reporters at Sunday afternoon’s practice, admitted that he was rattled by the situation of Game 3. In other words, he admitted that he couldn’t handle the magnitude of the game and the energy level that Boston’s players and fans brought to the table.

I asked Doc Rivers moments ago about that intensity level and how difficult it would be for the Celtics to duplicate again tonight. This was his response:

"Well if we don’t, we won’t win. I mean for us, it’s the bottom line. They’re too athletic to not play that way. In my opinion, in Game 1 and 2, they caught the ball where they wanted to catch it, they dribbled the ball up with no pressure, and we allowed them to be athletic. In Game 3, our pressure at least allowed them to start from different spots that allowed us to recover. That’s the only way we can win, and so we have to do that."

In response to that energy and utter dominance that the Celtics displayed throughout Game 3, Pat Riley, Miami’s team president, pulled specific Heat players aside today and essentially gave them a pep talk. Riley is one of the greatest motivators the NBA has ever seen, and for that reason Rivers expects to see Miami’s best tonight.

"It was a hell of a speech," Rivers assured. "There’s no better speaker that I’ve been around in my life. I guarantee you whatever he said reached them, and they’ll play with amazing intensity."

Rivers and the Celtics expect that intensity from Miami, but that doesn’t mean Boston will be staggered the way the Heat were in Game 3. As Ray Allen said, it’s all about sticking to principles no matter how well the Heat play.

"Our philosophy has pretty much been the same (against this team)… you’ve got to stick to the script and stick to what we’ve done all year," said Allen.

- Marc D'Amico

Injury Updates on Rondo, West, Shaq

With Sunday’s media availability taking place before the team’s practice in Waltham, Mass., news was relatively limited when it comes to injury updates. Nonetheless, we’ll give you what we were given.

Rajon Rondo, who made a miraculous comeback onto the floor last night after suffering a dislocated left elbow, is in obvious pain this afternoon and will undergo tests, including an MRI, this afternoon. With the tests still looming, the extent of the injury is still not known. Doc Rivers did say, however, that the possibility of a break in Rondo’s arm is still there.

At this point Rondo’s availability for Game 4 is still unknown, but Rivers is hopeful that his point guard will be available. The likelihood is that he will be a legitimate game-time decision.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Heat 81, Celtics 97

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

Pregame

We’re back in the TD Garden tonight for the first time since April 19, when the Celtics knocked off the New York Knicks by three points in Game 2 of the teams’ first-round series. This is the longest layoff the team has experienced between home games in, well… forever.

Outside of the summer breaks between seasons, this is, in fact, the longest this group has gone between playing a game at home. It has been nearly three weeks – 19 days, to be exact – since the Garden hosted a Boston Celtics game.

Ray Allen, for one, made it clear that arriving in the Garden for tonight’s critical Game 3 matchup with the Miami Heat didn’t exactly feel normal. He noted that when driving to the arena, he consciously felt as if he hadn’t made the drive through downtown in "forever." It had been so long, in fact, that he has had to use the last few days to remember all of the items he typically brings to the arena for a game night.

"I had to remember to bring my shoes," Allen said in the locker room, about 65 minutes before tip off. "I had them on the kitchen table for the last two days. I put them there once I remembered them, because I didn’t want to forget anything."

Luckily, he remembered everything for tonight’s game, and the Celtics aren’t missing any items (or players) for this contest, either. Only one member of the Celtics’ roster has been inactive for the entire postseason, and that man is Shaquille O’Neal. He’ll finally make his return to the lineup tonight for his first action since April 3 against the Detroit Pistons.

O’Neal has participated in practice with the team for its past few sessions, and Doc Rivers has loved what he has seen. Despite the positive showings Shaq has given in practice, though, Rivers isn’t sure what to expect out of the big man tonight.

Rivers said he doesn’t have a number of minutes in mind for O’Neal tonight, and that he won’t know where that number will fall until he sees how the big man performs on the court. He did say, however, that Shaq’s playing time will be "whatever he can handle."

Though O’Neal is the most prominent star in the league, there are no expectations for what he’ll bring to the team tonight. The Celtics aren’t counting on him for any particular scoring numbers, they simply want him to give all he’s got and let the numbers take care of themselves.

One thing that he will provide, guaranteed, is six fouls, and Rivers knows that. O’Neal will protect the paint while he’s on the court, and he’ll make a difference around the basket defensively.

Said Rivers, "It’s no fun to drive on Shaq. Our players know that from practice."

- Marc D'Amico

C’s Look for Resiliency as Game 3 Awaits

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics are down 2-0 after dropping the first two games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in Miami, but they were telling reporters on Friday that they’re confident about their fortunes going forward. Doc Rivers made it clear: they’re not going to roll over.

Asked if the Celtics saw themselves as "not dead yet," Rivers stated bluntly, "I didn’t know we were dying."

Dying? No. Banged up? A little.

Thankfully, with three off days before Saturday’s Game 3 at TD Garden, the C’s have had some time to convalesce. Rajon Rondo had issues with his back in Game 2, while Ray Allen took a LeBron James elbow to the sternum that left a mark. Then there’s Shaquille O’Neal, who has played all of five minutes since February, but is finally expected to play in Game 3.

Read More

- Peter Stringer

Current C's Can Draw from Franchise's History

WALTHAM, Mass. – Sometimes it’s those "firsts" in life that are the hardest things to achieve. The Boston Celtics know all about that right now.

As they stare at an 0-2 hole in their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Miami Heat, these Celtics – at least the core fivesome that has been here for four seasons – are experiencing a situation they’ve never dealt with before. In order to advance to the Conference Finals, they will need to win four out of the final five games against the second-seeded Heat.

This is the first time Boston has faced an 0-2 deficit since the current Big Three came together, and therefore they’ve never been afforded an opportunity to crawl back from this far behind. Doing so against the Heat will be incredibly difficult to accomplish, but just because this group hasn’t done it before doesn’t mean it’s an impossible feat.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 91, Heat 102

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 90, Heat 99

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

- Marc D'Amico

Arbella Series Preview

BOSTON – We knew it was coming at some point during the 2011 NBA Playoffs. The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat would have to meet and go through each other in order to contend for an NBA championship.

Boston easily held up its end of the deal by sweeping the New York Knicks, a team that had given Miami fits all season long, out of the playoffs in four games on April 25. Miami finally joined the second round when it squeaked by the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, 97-91.

With those two first-round victories complete, the league’s two premier Big Threes will go head-to-head in a possible seven-game series. The Conference Semifinals series between the Celtics and Heat will tip off at 3:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon in Miami.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Cubed

Celtics.com has developed a new feature heading into the Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Miami Heat. Thanks to NBA.com's StatsCube, we were able to dive deep into the statistics that developed between the Celtics and Heat this season. Click the link below to see what we found.

Celtics Cubed

- Marc D'Amico

It Ain't Easy Being Green

WALTHAM, Mass. – Jeff Green sat alone in a chair, looking out at the court, waiting for practice to begin on Friday. Suddenly, engulfed by a mob of reporters, he set his Celtics Water bottle down and prepared to take questions. While the local scribes wanted answers about how he was going to help defend LeBron James and back up Paul Pierce, it became clear that Green himself is still looking for answers about his role with the Celtics.

"You guys know more than I do, huh?" Green deadpanned when a reporter suggested that he'd been brought to Boston in part to help the Celtics defend James.

Read More

- Peter Stringer

Boston's Engine Could Fuel C's Past Heat

WALTHAM, Mass. – If Rajon Rondo is the engine that runs the Boston Celtics, who will he be racing against in the Eastern Conference Semifinals?

The question must be asked after Mario Chalmers markedly outplayed Mike Bibby during Miami’s first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers. Bibby has been the Heat’s starting point guard since his arrival in early March, but that could change heading into this anticipated series against the C’s.

There are two positions that Miami’s Big Three don’t occupy, and one of them is point guard. Rondo took advantage of that fact against the Heat during the regular season, to the tune of 12.0 APG and a phenomenal 4.8 assist-to-turnover ratio. Boston will certainly be looking for that type of production to continue, while the Heat will be searching for a way to close the gap between Rondo and their point guards.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Boston's Bench Prepping for Big Series

WALTHAM, Mass. – Remember that run to and through the seventh game of the NBA Finals last season? Remember when Glen Davis carried Nate Robinson on his back near midcourt while sparking the Celtics to a Game 4 victory over the Lakers?

As teams inch closer and closer to an NBA championship, their bench becomes more and more important. Yes, the starters claim most of the minutes, but the reserves can often play game-changing roles in the postseason.

The Celtics have witnessed such a phenomenon take place in front of their very own eyes, and they wouldn’t mind seeing more of that during the current postseason. There wouldn’t be any better time for Boston’s bench to start making a serious impact than in its upcoming Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Miami Heat.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

With No Opponent Decided, Boston Takes on Itself

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Boston Celtics have been off since Sunday evening, and they still don’t know who they’ll be playing in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

But just because they don’t know what jersey they’ll see on the other bench come Game 1 doesn’t mean the Celtics are unaware of who their opponent is. They can find that answer simply by looking in the mirror.

"I’ve told you all year the opponent has been us," is what Doc Rivers claimed Wednesday afternoon.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Garnett Quietly Carried Celtics in Round 1 Sweep

WALTHAM, Mass. – Three days after they completed the sweep of the Knicks, the Boston Celtics still don't know who they'll face in the Eastern Conference Semifinals next week. And they still don't know if they'll have Shaquille O'Neal either. However, the C's do know that they're starting to turn a corner after erasing the Knicks in four straight games, and a major factor has been the solid play of Kevin Garnett.

While much of the media's attention has been on Shaq's status (and the latest update is that Doc Rivers hopes he'll practice on Friday), Garnett's postseason performance has been largely overlooked despite four very strong games from the Big Ticket.

Read More

- Peter Stringer

Game Links: Celtics 101, Knicks 89

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

- Marc D'Amico

After Offensive Breakthrough, C's Seek Sunday Sweep

New York, NY – In terms of recent performances, the Celtics’ 113-96 win in Game 3 over the Knicks was a breakthrough of sorts for the team’s offense, which has struggled at times to find its rhythm since the late season roster shakeup.

And while a 3-point shooting gallery made the Celtics look unstoppable last night, there’s a little more to it than just jacking up long-range bombs. The success of the Celtics’ offense typically hinges on the play of Rajon Rondo, and when your All-Star point guard posts a crazy triple double with 20 assists, you can safely say the ball is moving – as a team, the Celtics had 31 assists -- and the offense is humming.

But what’s become clear over the last few weeks is that the cohesion between Boston’s big men and their scoring threats hasn’t always been there. Simply put, the NBA is a pick-and-roll league, but if you aren’t setting good picks and screens for your weapons, they won’t have the same opportunities to light up the scoreboard.

Read More

- Peter Stringer

Game Links: Celtics 113, Knicks 96

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

- Marc D'Amico

When C's Need a Hoop, Rivers Comes Through in Clutch

WALTHAM, Mass. - When Doc Rivers appears for a postgame press conference, he has usually ditched his blazer, the knot in his tie is slightly undone a few inches below his neck, and his hands are spotted with green ink.

That ink from his dry-erase board is the remains of his frantic huddles where he draws up a play in the final seconds of a game. Doc’s reputation as a master play caller is unquestioned, and if you ask players, both current and former, about his ability to craft a quick play, and you’ll typically get the same response.
Doc Rivers

"Buckets."

Read More

- Peter Stringer

Game Links: Knicks 93, Celtics 96

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

Pregame

There has been plenty of talk since Sunday’s Game 1 about the New York Knicks getting the ball to Amar’e Stoudemire as much as possible. Some have wondered if they tried hard enough to get the ball in his hands in the final minutes of that close game, but Mike D’Antoni has consistently claimed that the Knicks did do that. Boston simply denied him the ball well enough to prevent the passes.

With the storm brewing on that topic for the past 48 hours, Doc Rivers has kept his head out of the fray, as he liked to call it. All he knew is that his big men needed to do all they could to keep the ball out of Stoudemire’s hands in crunch time, because he was on fire.

"Usually when you deny a guy, it puts you in bad defensive position," Rivers said in tonight’s pregame. "But the way he was going, I think we would take our chances on someone else, anyone but Amar’e."

So, does that mean that the Celtics will wait until Stoudemire is hot before they begin overdenying him the ball?

"Well, yeah," was Rivers’ response to that question, "because we’d like our normal defense to work. The way you know it works is if you get stops. Obviously, if it doesn’t work, you know how you find that out is when he’s going off like he was going off."

The hope is that Stoudemire can’t go off tonight the way he did on Sunday, when he dropped 28 points and 11 rebounds on the Celtics. But take note that no matter what the Celtics do at the defensive end of the floor, New York is going to get the ball into Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony’s hands as much as possible. Without Chauncey Billups’ experience on the floor (he’s out with a strained left leg), the Knicks will need to ride their Big Two all night long if they hope to stay in this game. If they don’t, the C’s are going to ride into Madison Square Garden this weekend with a 2-0 series advantage.

- Marc D'Amico

Knicks Might Play Game 2 With Big Two

WALTHAM, Mass. – When the New York Knicks traded the majority of their young talent to the Nuggets in late February for Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, they did so with the intention of having their own version of a Big Three to carry them through the Playoffs.

During Tuesday night’s pivotal Game 2 in the TD Garden, New York may have only a Big Two to rely on.

Anthony, Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire were big enough to lead the Knicks toward a momentous victory for 47 minutes of play on Sunday night, but the 48th minute was disastrous. The Knicks blew a three-point lead and Billups was forced to watch the final 50.7 seconds of the game from the sideline after he suffered a strain in his left leg.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Spirits High in Waltham After Exciting Game 1

WALTHAM, Mass. - Film, not practice, was the plan for the Celtics on Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours removed from a physical battle with the Knicks in Game 1 that Kevin Garnett called a "bar fight" when he spoke to the TD Garden crowd over the PA last night.

It seemed like a welcome change. Players were loose, spirits were high, and the team seemed anxious to resume their first round series, which continues with Game 2 on Tuesday night in Boston.

Paul Pierce, who typically tries to keep his media sessions short and on topic, spoke to reporters for about 20 minute on a variety of topics, ranging from the physical play that referees typically allow on the last play of a game, to the success Tony Allen is experiencing in Memphis. For the record, Pierce said he sent good luck texts to Allen and Kendrick Perkins ahead of their Game 1 wins over the weekend, and told reporters that he'd be rooting for both of them.

Read More

- Peter Stringer

Game Links: Knicks 85, Celtics 87

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

Pregame

The only way to really get to know a basketball team is to spend time around them. In reporting for Celtics.com, we clearly have a solid grasp on how the Boston Celtics go about their work. Heading into Game 1 of their first-round series against New York, we decided to get to know their opponent, the Knicks.

Tonight’s pregame was spend in New York’s locker room, and that experience was a stark difference from what we normally expect from Boston’s locker room.

Ray Allen is the only star player who shows his face on a consistent basis in the Celtics’ locker room before games, but that’s not the case on the visitor’s side of things. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire were out in the open receiving aggressive massage therapy for at least 20 minutes apiece while they, their teammates and New York’s staff watched the Los Angeles Lakers lose to the New Orleans Hornets.

In Boston’s locker room, the only thing that’s typically on the television is film of the night’s opponent. In this case, the C’s were showing film of the March 21 game against the Knicks in New York.

The Knicks were generally laid back, laughing and clearly enjoying the fact that they are where they are. Anthony even had a laugh after he saw his friend, Chris Paul, drill a jumper over Pau Gasol and look at the camera with an, "I can’t be stopped," look on his face. ‘Melo’s look was more along the lines of, "That’s my boy!"

It was very interesting to see how relaxed this Knicks team is. Their players are about to participate in the franchise’s biggest game in nearly a decade, yet all they were doing during pregame was watching the Lakers, laughing with each other and receiving treatment. Interesting, to say the least.

In regard to that loss by the Lakers, we caught up with Jeff Green quickly before Doc Rivers spoke to the media. He asked what the score was and I notified him that L.A. was down by about 10 with a minute remaining, and he shook his head in amazement.

When another reporter brought up the fact that nearly every lower seed has played their opponent closely and/or won the first game of the series, Green responded, "There’s gotta be one series [that changes that], right?" He’s hoping it’s this series. He also cracked a joke that if the C’s win, they’ll go from underdog to championship favorites. "Bandwagoners…," he chirped.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Knicks 102, Celtics 112

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

Pregame

We may have a new record for weirdest pregame of the season. Fittingly, it arrived on the final night of the season. Below is a list of the odd things that we took note of prior to tonight’s tip off in the Garden:

  • Paul Pierce, who has barely shown his face in the Celtics’ locker room prior to the previous 40 home games this season, stood in the front of the locker room staring at reporters and anxiously looking for someone to chat to. Eventually, after no conversation was struck, Pierce yelled out with a smile, "No loidering by my locker!" and made his way back into the weight room.
  • Kevin Garnett did not arrive to Boston’s locker room until 63 minutes prior to tip off.
  • Delonte West, who reinjured his right ankle during Wednesday night’s loss in Washington, told reporters that he would work out prior to tonight’s game and possible play. About 10 minutes later, Doc Rivers told the media that West would not play tonight, but is expected to be available for Game 1 of the playoffs.
  • In a shocking move by the Knicks, Amar’e Stoudemire, who has missed New York’s last three games with an ankle sprain, is planning on starting and playing in tonight’s game.
  • Boston will not play any of its starters, while the Knicks will rest at least three.
  • Mike D’Antoni claimed that neither team will get much out of tonight’s game than seeing their young guys play hard.
  • Doc Rivers begged to differ, claiming that Boston’s reserves can gain confidence not only in themselves, but from their teammates, with strong performances tonight.
  • West, who spoke to reporters prior to visiting with the team’s medical staff, essentially asked permission to leave the media herd in order to go prepare for the game. "If you’re all done, I can go and do that," West said with a smile, referencing his chat with head trainer Ed Lacerte about the possibility of playing tonight.
  • Stoudemire was the last player from either team working out on the parquet prior to tonight’s game, and the end of his routine was practicing 3-pointers. Why? Well, because he’s attempted 23 of those shots already this season. Clearly an important piece of his game to sharpen up before the playoffs, right? (Sensing the sarcasm?)
  • Jared Jeffries, who was traded away from New York last season to clear up cap space that was eventually used to sign Stoudemire and trade for Carmelo Anthony, sat along in a tiny hallway outside New York’s locker room prior to tonight’s game. Why is that weird? Well, because that’s the spot that Eddy Curry, who was another piece eventually used to acquire Anthony (via trade), used to hold down when he came to the TD Garden earlier this season. Coincidence? You decide.

That’s it for the odd notes from tonight’s pregame. Enjoy the tip off between these two future playoff foes!

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 94, Wizards 95

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 77, Heat 100

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Wizards 88, Celtics 104

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

Pregame

Doc Rivers doesn’t coach the Washington Wizards, but he knows enough about them to comment about their diets. Rivers, speaking of Washington’s Andray Blatche and Jordan Crawford, made a claim that those guys are "extremely thirsty."

No, Rivers isn’t talking about thirsty for liquids. He’s talking about their thirst for scoring, and both of those players have been doing quite a bit of that of late.

Blatche, whose talents the Celtics have seen quite a bit over the past couple of years, has been dominant over his past four games by racking up 27.5 PPG and 14.0 RPG. His thirst for scoring prompted him to take a career-high 32 shot attempts on April 1. Yep, I’d say that’s thirsty.

Crawford, who is a rookie out of Xavier and may be remembered for his stint at Indiana University, has been lighting it up since he began receiving substantial playing time back in early March. He scored 39 points against the Miami Heat on March 30, more than any Celtic has scored all season long, and is averaging 22.5 PPG this month.

Those two players combine to average 39.5 field goal attempts this month for the Wizards. To give you an example of how many shots that is, that’s 2.9 more field goal attempts than Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, Boston’s three most frequent shooters, combine to average on the season.

v
With that thirst to score, Rivers says that his team’s defenders must be ready to defend from the second those players touch the ball. They’ve got the green light, so look for them to combine for 30-40 field goal attempts yet again tonight.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 81, Bulls 97

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: 76ers 82, Celtics 99

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

Pregame

There’s a week left of the 2010-11 NBA regular season and the Philadelphia 76ers already have 13 more wins than they did at the end of last season. The team made no significant personnel changes aside from bringing in Doug Collins as its new head coach, yet it is substantially improved on every level.

So, the question must be asked: Does this mean Collins is really that great of a coach? Well, we’re not sure if as much about his coaching as it is about his ability to sell. Collins has sold his team on the fact that they must play as that – a team – rather than play for individual success.

"I just think they’ve kind of bought into what Doug has been preaching," Doc Rivers said before tonight’s game. "And for a team to change the way they’ve changed without making a personnel change, tells you they’ve given up in their individual stuff and they play like a team."

Philadelphia’s former star, Andre Iguodala, used to be that player who was trying to rise to the next level and win games on his own. Rivers couldn’t help from pointing out the change Iguodala has made in his game this season.

"I think Iguodala is like the poster child for that. He’s been absolutely amazing to watch," Rivers said. "The transformation of him – his numbers aren’t what they used to be, but he’s so much better."

Collins himself admitted that the 76ers do compete at a high level when they play team basketball, but the problem is that they can sometimes struggle to pull out close games in crunch time.

"One of the beauties of our team is that we are a team that depends on each other," said Collins. "And then, what happens sometimes, though, is that, like in Milwaukee the other night I just couldn’t get us a basket late in the game. So we struggle sometimes to get that big field goal."

Boston and Philadelphia have played three extremely close games already this season, and if another occurs tonight Collins essentially admitted that the C’s will have the advantage. The hope for the Celtics is that it never reaches that point, but if it does, we could see them coming through with the big play yet again to send the Sixers into a tough loss.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Pistons 90, Celtics 101

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

Pregame

We’ve got big news for you all tonight – literally. Shaquille O’Neal, who has not played in a game since Feb. 1, will make his return to the lineup tonight against the Detroit Pistons.

O’Neal has been resting a sore right foot and Achilles heel for nearly two months with limited recovery, but he went through a workout yesterday and the team believes he is now ready to play. He won’t play a whole lot, though, as Doc Rivers said that he is planning on throwing Shaq out onto the floor for just a couple of short spurts, around five or so minutes long. The Big Shamrock also won’t play in every game remaining on the schedule. Rivers said that he will likely play Shaq in three or four games leading up to the playoffs.

Shaq will eventually be the starting center, pending health, but tonight the other O’Neal will hold down that position. Jermaine O’Neal, who will be playing in his third game since returning from left knee surgery, will be tonight’s starting center. Rivers decided to toss JO into the starting lineup because he believes that Glen Davis operates better with the second unit. This switch will give Boston more size to start the game and allow Baby to slide back into his accustomed role off of the bench.

With the announcement that both O’Neals will be active and playing tonight, there was a feeling of surrealism in the locker room. It has been months since both of Boston’s key free agent signings were available, and with Kendrick Perkins being traded to Oklahoma City at the deadline, that has left the C’s with limited size up front. That’s not going to be an issue tonight, and the hope is that the Celtics will have that size until they bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy in mid-June.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 83, Hawks 88

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 107, Spurs 97

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 100, Pacers 107

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 85, Timberwolves 82

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

- Marc D'Amico

Rivers Calls on Core Players to Turn C's Around

WALTHAM, Mass. – There is one group of players that has consistently fueled the Boston Celtics’ throughout four consecutive years of championship contention. When people look at the Celtics, they think of – and often fear – a team that boasts three future Hall of Famers, a dominant All-Star point guard and a super-sub big man who can do it all.

Nearly four years after that group of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Glen Davis came together, they are now being relied on to put an end to the Celtics’ struggles and put the Association on alert that this team is still a legitimate championship contender.

Boston has lost six of its last 10 games and is fresh off of a shocking loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night, a game that the C’s led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter. That performance prompted Doc Rivers to go off on his team during his postgame media session, and he essentially put it on them to turn this thing around.

"Themselves, not me or any coach. Themselves," Rivers said of who will break the team’s current slump. "I’ve used it before, but sometimes you have to find your way. The guys have to. They have to be honest with each other first, though. Until that happens, we are going to have these results."

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Bobcats 83, Celtics 81

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

Pregame

We’ve got news on both of the O’Neals, and for the most part, it’s positive.

Rumors were abound Thursday evening that Shaquille O’Neal had undergone a cortisone shot and was placed into a walking boot. Doc Rivers confirmed that the walking boot portion of those rumors was, indeed, correct, and he also intimated that he does believe – though he wouldn’t say it with much confidence – that the shot took place as well.

Many would view those two pieces of news as setbacks, but Rivers was quick to deny those thoughts before tonight’s game.

"I just think they’re trying to speed it up more than it getting worse," Rivers said in reference to Shaq’s return. "Honestly, I don’t get involved in it, I just know they decided to do it. I don’t think it’s a setback."

There is no definitive time table on Shaq’s return, but Rivers repeatedly said that he expects the big man back in about a week or so. He did, though, comment that he’s been saying that for three weeks now, so you never know what may happen.

As far as the news on Jermaine O’Neal, it’s much more definitive. Jermaine O’Neal will join the team in Indiana on March 28, but he will not play. He has been working out and rehabbing in Chicago since his surgery, and he will be able to make the drive to Indiana to join his teammates for the first time in quite a while.

As Rivers told the media tonight, No. 7 is confident that he is very, very close to rejoining the team on the court and being ready to help them on the court in pursuit of Banner 18.

"That’s why he’s coming," Rivers said of Jermaine O’Neal joining the team on the road trip, "because he thinks he’s ready to practice."

We’re not sure of the exact dates that these two critical big men will be back in uniform for games, but from the sounds of it, both should come soon. Those moments can’t come soon enough, because Boston is officially three weeks away from the first weekend of the playoffs.

- Marc D'Amico

Rivers, Celtics Reestablish Team DNA at Practice

WALTHAM, Mass. – Accountability is one of the hallmark words associated with the Boston Celtics. No one survives life in green and white without holding themselves responsible for both the good and bad that they create within this tight-knit organization, and that includes the head coach.

That’s why immediately following Wednesday night’s game, Doc Rivers sat in his postgame press conference seat and made several references to the fact that he may have cost his team a victory in the Celtics’ 90-87 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Don’t believe us? Hear for yourself.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Grizzlies 90, Celtics 87

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

Pregame

There are a few reasons why the Boston Celtics have been forced to battle back from 15-point deficits in their last two games, and those reasons also played into the team losing in Houston prior to those two dramatic comebacks.

It’s a laundry list of items that play into basketball struggles, but three particular areas stand out: interior defense, rebounding and transition defense.

For those three reasons, Doc rivers truly believes there is no more perfect opponent for the C’s to face tonight than the Memphis Grizzlies, because they are great at taking care of those three deficiencies.

"For us, you couldn’t script a tougher game, in a good way, for me, maybe not for them," Rivers said as he pointed in the direction of his team’s locker room. "We have to get back to protecting the paint – they’re No. 1 in paint points. We have to get back to our transition ‘D’ – I think they’re seventh in the league in fast break points. And we have to get back to dominating on the boards, and I think they’re fourth in that category. So you couldn’t pick a better team for us to play right now."

Zach Randolph, who enters tonight’s game ranked fourth in the league in double-doubles, and with Marc Gasol are the main reasons why the Grizzlies are dominant in scoring in the paint and rebounding. There’s no doubt that Boston’s frontline of Kevin Garnett, Nenad Krstic and Glen Davis will have their hands full dealing with those two big around the basket.

Speaking of Boston’s frontline, there is no positive news coming in the immediate future about Shaquille O’Neal’s return to the lineup. He traveled with the team on their just-concluded three-game road trip, but Rivers isn’t exactly sure when the Big Shamrock will return to his lineup.

"He’s coming back soon enough," Rivers said. "I don’t know what the date is, if it’s in the next four or five days or anything like that, and obviously the same thing with Jermaine O’Neal, but obviously the clock is ticking."

When he does, though, it will pay monumental dividends for the team, on two levels.

"When Shaq and Kevin are in the lineup (as starters), we’re pretty good. We’re a force. And what it does is it strengthens your bench, too. Now you have the Nenad (Krstic) and Baby (Glen Davis) combination coming off your bench, and that’s a heck of a backup five-four plan. A lot of teams would take that."

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 96, Knicks 86

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 89, Hornets 85

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 77, Rockets 93

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Pacers 80, Celtics 92

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

Pregame

There’s no more wondering when Delonte West will return to the Celtics’ lineup. The moment has arrived.

After spending more than two weeks on the sideline due to a right ankle sprain, Boston will welcome West back to the lineup tonight and bring the C’s just two pieces away from full health. West, who was brought in to be the team’s primary backup point guard, will see minutes at both point guard and small forward tonight.

And in terms of minutes, Doc Rivers isn’t looking to take it easy on No. 13. With so little time remaining in the season, Rivers and the coaching staff will throw him out on the floor for as long as his body will allow.

"Delonte, right now, we’re just going to try and get him on the floor and see how minutes he can handle, and then after that we’ll figure it out," said Rivers. "Whatever the eye test says is what we’ll play him."

The eye test has also told us lately that Rajon Rondo just isn’t his same old self. He has been struggling to make shots and run up his assist total over the past five games, but Rivers doesn’t think anyone needs to read into that and assume his point guard is playing injured or is fatigued.

"Just now playing well," Rivers said. "Sometimes there’s no reason to why you don’t play well. I think it’s [fatigue or injury], I just think he’s had a couple bad games, and he’ll get out of it."

So what will get Rondo back on track tonight? First of all, it will certainly help if his teammates begin to make their shots at the 50 percent clip the team has hung around all season long. Rivers, though, has a couple of other things he’d like to see out of Rondo to get him back to his old self.

"I think he’s not playing at a great pace right now, I think that’s number one," said Rivers. "Then, for him, seeing the ball go in for himself is always important."

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Celtics 79, Nets 88

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links: Bucks 56, Celtics 87

Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

Pregame

We’ve been waiting all season for the Celtics to reach full health, and with 19 games remaining on the schedule the team will take one step in that direction today. Glen Davis will return to the lineup this evening against the Milwaukee Bucks after missing the team’s last four contests with a left leg injury.

During Davis’ absence, Doc Rivers has been forced to play Jeff Green at power forward much more than the team originally anticipated when it acquired him. As Rivers said before today’s game, he looked down at the bench in recent games and saw Troy Murphy and Green as his only backup big men. Big Baby’s actual production isn’t exactly what Rivers is worried about tonight. He’s more concerned with just having another body to use off of the bench, which will allow him to return to the team’s more regular rotation.

"I love Baby, and we need his good play, but with the bigs we have I will take a bad-playing-Baby tonight, really," said Rivers.

The next step toward full health will likely come on Wednesday when the Celtics take on the Indiana Pacers here in the TD Garden. Delonte West has been out of the lineup nearly all season long, most recently because of an ankle sprain, but all indications are that he’ll be back on the floor against the Pacers Wednesday night.

West participated in his first full core workout before tonight’s game, and the workout went well enough for him to tell us the following.

"The way it feels, Wednesday is definitely a go," he said.

Interestingly enough, West actually found a silver lining to his most recent injury. Thanks to the ankle sprain, he has had plenty of time to rehab his broken right wrist and he’s to the point now where he has no restriction with it and is not experiencing any pain.

That’s good news for him, and even more so for the team. His return will give Boston a completely healthy backcourt, and that’s an important step the team will be able to take with just a month of the regular season remaining.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 86, 76ers 89: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

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

- Marc D'Amico

Arroyo's Arrival Marks End of Welcoming Tour

WALTHAM, Mass. – Another day, another Celtics debut.

For the fifth time in just 13 days, the Celtics rolled out the welcoming mat as another new teammate joined them on the court for the very first time. Carlos Arroyo, who was signed to a free agent contract on Sunday, made his debut with the team at today’s open practice in Waltham, Mass.

Arroyo comes to the Celtics after playing the first two-thirds of the season with the Miami Heat. He had started in 42 of his 49 appearances with Miami this season and carries season averages of 5.6 PPG and 2.0 APG with him up to Boston.

Although those numbers are modest, the veteran point guard brings a very important talent to the Celtics – more 3-point shooting. Arroyo is cashing in his 3-pointers at a career-high rate this season by making 43.8 percent of his attempts. He is the third new addition for Boston who can stroke it from downtown, joining Troy Murphy, a career 39.0 percent shooter from beyond the arc, and Sasha Pavlovic, who has made 35.2 percent of his career 3-point attempts.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 89, Bucks 83: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Sign Carlos Arroyo

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed guard Carlos Arroyo. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Arroyo, a 6-2 guard, appeared in 49 games this season for the Miami Heat including 42 starts, averaging 5.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He also is shooting a career-high 43.8 percent from 3-point range. In his 42 starts he has averaged 6.4 points, 2.2 assists and has shot 45.9 percent from beyond the arc. In his ninth NBA season, Arroyo owns career averages of 6.7 points and 3.1 assists per game. He posted a season-high of 18 points at Milwaukee on Dec. 6.

- Marc D'Amico

Quick-Hits From the C's Before Flight to Milwaukee

WALTHAM, Mass. – With practice time being a premium for the Boston Celtics, they opted to hold a session on a Saturday one night after beating the Golden State Warriors and one night before taking on the Milwaukee Bucks. The C’s flew out of the Boston area at 3:30 p.m. today but ran through an hour-long session at 1 p.m.

The story hasn’t changed for Boston regarding practice time. It’s a pretty simple story: they’ll need to practice as much as possible to help their new acquisitions understand the offensive and defensive schemes. With that story not changing, let’s give you some quick-hits from practice that touch on some other topics.

Chris Johnson’s 10-Day Contract Expires

When Boston made its flurry of moves at the trade deadline it was forced to dip into free agency immediately to have enough bodies available on its roster to navigate through its upcoming schedule. Chris Johnson was the first free agent signed, and he was inked to a 10-day contract. That contract ended today, and the Celtics chose not to offer him another 10-day deal.

Doc Rivers let us all know during his post-practice media session why the C’s came to that decision, though at that time he wasn’t 100 percent sure what would happen.

"Honestly, we’re trying to sign a point guard, so if we can sign a point guard then we’re going to move CJ (Chris Johnson)," Rivers said. "If we can’t sign a point guard then we’re going to keep CJ."

In other words, now that Johnson is gone, look for Boston to explore the free agent point guard list.

Jeff Green Broke Through Last Night

Boston’s newest combo forward came off the bench to score 21 points for the C’s last night after notching no more than seven in his first four games with the team. Green actually picked up his scoring as a result of shifting over to a position he really hadn’t practiced with the Celtics.

"What was amazing with Jeff was we hadn’t really worked him at [power forward] at all and then I just decided in the middle of the game just leave him in and bring him at four, and it worked out. That’s nice that he has the IQ enough to do that."

Rivers also had to mention the level of versatility Green brings to the Celtics. He has already played three different positions, and he hasn’t even been here for two weeks yet.

"It’s huge for us," Rivers said of the versatility. "We haven’t had it in a long time, and the ability when teams go small to either stay big or match up and get better, that’s a great thing to have."

When he did slide over to the power forward spot last night against Golden State, that meant Kevin Garnett technically played center, while Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce held down the perimeter. Green, for one, is a big fan of that lineup.

"Yeah," Green said of the offensive power that lineup possesses, "but we’re also quick on the defensive end. We’re long and athletic. I think we can do a lot at the defensive end, getting a lot of stops, being long, creating and making it tough for the opposing team to score."

Shaq Suffers Setback

Rivers mentioned before Friday’s game that Shaquille O’Neal was pushing to play in tomorrow night’s game against Milwaukee, but that campaign has been nixed by a setback. Shaq went through skeleton drills with the team at Thursday's practice, but he did not participate in today’s practice and the team is unsure of when his return will now happen. All they know is that it probably won’t be as soon as they thought it would just a couple of days ago.

Said Rivers, "Shaq is probably not going to be back (and) be ready Wednesday it looks like now because his foot’s bothering him again."

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Warriors 103, Celtics 107: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to prepare for one of the fastest teams in the NBA? Well we’re about to give you a sneak peek into what a team like the Celtics will emphasize tonight with the hope of stopping these speedy Golden State Warriors.

The recipe for success was followed to perfection for Boston on Feb. 22, when the team knocked off the Warriors on the road by a score of 115-93. It’s a near guarantee that the following information is exactly what the coaching staff fed to its players 11 days ago.

First, the Celtics "Must eliminate the quick strike." In other words, Boston wants to keep the Warriors out of transition, and if Golden State does get out on the break, the C’s need to stop it as quickly as possible. How, you might ask? These are the coach’s instructions: "Point and talk" and "stop the ball outside the ‘3.’ " The Celtics will do everything they can to communicate in transition so that no Warriors are left free for easy buckets. In addition, the C’s need to close out on the Warriors as early as possible and prevent them from attacking the elbows, which would easily set up passing angles on the break.

The next item on the list is to have "Great show angles" to re-route the ball handler. Kevin Garnett is one of the best in the league at hopping out to show on the ball handler in pick-and-roll situations, and he will need to rub some of that talent off to his new frontline teammates tonight. Troy Murphy and Jeff Green will both be seeing minutes at power forward, and they’ll also need to disallow Golden State’s ball handlers from turning the corner off of pick-and-rolls.

Lastly, Boston’s coaches emphasize that much of this game will result in one-on-one situations for the Celtics defenders, and that means that "everyone else (must) shrink" and be "ready to help." Lawrence Frank spent time with the new acquisitions after yesterday’s practice going over Boston’s "shrink" techniques on defense, and the hope is that that will result in sharper defense tonight out of them. The term "shrink" essentially means that you, as a help defender, are on a string with the ball. When the ball moves away from you and the player you’re defending, you move with it. When the ball moves toward you and the player you’re defending, you move closer to him and take away passing angles. Why is it called "shrinking?" Because when players move on a string in that manner, the defense shrinks the court for the offense because several players are badgering the paint and the basketball.

We’ll see shortly if the C’s can execute that plan. If they can do it for the second time in 11 days, they’ll have their fourth consecutive win.

- Marc D'Amico

Practice Is at the Forefront of the Celtics' Minds

WALTHAM, Mass. – What are we talking about on a Thursday in early March? Not the upcoming playoffs. We’re talking about practice, man.

It’s All About 18 for the Boston Celtics in the long term, but in the immediate future it’s going to be all about preparation and getting their new players on the practice floor as often as possible. The team ended today’s regular practice at 2:35, but six Celtics stayed late to run through offensive sets and defensive principles for another 45 minutes.

The only player out of that group who has been with the Celtics all season long is Avery Bradley, and he was joined by Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, Troy Murphy, Chris Johnson and Sasha Pavlovic, whose ink may have still been wet on his freshly signed contract. Those players underwent 45 minutes of instruction from assistant coach Armond Hill at the offensive end and Lawrence Frank at the defensive end.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Suns 103, Celtics 115: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

It’s debut night in the TD Garden.

The newest faces on the Boston Celtics, Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy, will all be available for tonight’s contest against the Phoenix Suns.

This will be the third game that Green and Krstic are on board, but Murphy literally just joined the organization hours ago. He was signed on for the remainder of the season at about 5 p.m. and he’s already in the arena ready to give his new team some help.

Doc Rivers told the media that while recruiting Murphy, he and Danny Ainge were completely honest with the available minutes he would have on the Celtics team.

"We were honest with him – there’s minutes, but there’s only earnable minutes," said Rivers. "There’s nothing given."

Clearly that honesty didn’t turn Murphy off, and he’s confident that he’ll be able to earn those available minutes. Still, though, playing time doesn’t seem to be the reason why he would or wouldn’t choose to join this Celtics squad. The main reason, as is typical for the veterans that sign on with Boston in early March on an annual basis, is that the C’s provide him the greatest opportunity to win a championship.

"It was the most important [factor]," Murphy said of playing in the playoffs for the first time and challenging for a title.

As he told us, he also loves the way Boston plays basketball. Rivers discussed that notion with the media in pregame.

"He likes the way we play, we talked about that," Rivers said. "He saw how we use other 4s who can shoot, and he liked that."

Now that he’s on Boston’s side, Green loves the way the Celtics play, too. He told us that while being on the other side of things, no one in their right mind would like the way Boston plays. Now that he sees things from the opposite perspective, he understands it and is embracing it. He also singled out Kevin Garnett, whom Green will quickly infest a new level of intensity into the fourth-year forward out of Georgetown.

- Marc D'Amico

Boston Gets Its Irishman as C's Sign Troy Murphy

BOSTON – The Celtics began the 2010-11 season with one of the top power forwards in Notre Dame’s history on their roster, and they will end the season with one as well. The noteworthy difference is that the lone roster spot that brings a taste of Irish to this Celtics squad underwent a major upgrade this afternoon.

Boston traded away the former Notre Dame star and little-used Celtics Luke Harangody, along with Semih Erden, to the Cleveland Cavaliers last week to open up roster spots for proven free agent veterans, and they landed one today. Troy Murphy, who also went to Notre Dame and was the most coveted free agent big man on the market, agreed to terms with the C’s this afternoon and will join the team in the Garden for tonight’s game against the Phoenix Suns. His availability in the game, however, is unknown.

Murphy is in his 10th NBA season and he has been a very impactful player in eight of those campaigns. He saw limited minutes in his rookie season with Golden State, but since then his career has skyrocketed.

Read More | Press Release

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 107, Jazz 102: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 99, Clippers 92: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 75, Nuggets 89: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Shake Up Roster with Deadline Moves

BOSTON - If you thought standing pat was the best thing to do for the Eastern Conference’s best team, Danny Ainge would beg to differ. He was ready to wheel and deal on Thursday, and he wound up giving the Celtics something they hadn’t had all season long: flexibility.

The Boston Celtics drastically shook up their roster this afternoon with various trade deadline deals that will alter the short- and long-term outlook of the franchise. Boston made a total of three trades today that will immediately infuse youth into the roster while also giving the team roster flexibility this year and into the future.

The largest trade of the day breaks up Boston’s core starting five unit, which had never lost a playoff series together when healthy. Ainge made a splash by sending Kendrick Perkins, along with Nate Robinson, to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for one of the top young wingmen in the game, Jeff Green, as well as Nenad Krstic and a future first-round draft pick.

Read More | Press Release

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 115, Warriors 93: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Nets 80, Celtics 94: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

The New Jersey Nets are in town and the All-Star break officially begins when the final buzzer sounds on tonight’s game. What’s that mean? Well, for the media, it means most of their attention is focused on the events that will take place this weekend.

As we all know by now, the Celtics are sending plenty of representatives out to Los Angeles tomorrow afternoon for the All-Star festivities in L.A. Everyone from the coaching staff and at least four players will be out there to participate in the events, and a couple more might be joining them just to take it all in.

Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are two of the guys who will be out in Los Angeles and participating in more than just Sunday’s game. Both of them will be in the field for the Foot Locker 3-Point Contest, and their schedule battle is already gaining traction in the media.

Allen is now the all-time 3-point king in NBA history and Pierce is the reigning champion of the contest. Pierce has been talking plenty of smack to Allen throughout the past few days, and he actually tried to pull an intimidation tactic out of his back pocket earlier this evening.

"He was out there when I was shooting, I don’t know if you guys got video of it, but he brought the rack out," said Allen. "So I told him, I said, ‘I’ve been there, done that.’ "

Both of the players have already won one 3-Point Contest in their careers and will be looking to join the esteemed list of shooters who have taken the crown home more than once. Though Allen is one of the sharpest shooters in history, Pierce may have an advantage because he has competed in this exact contest before. It has been a decade since Allen took home his crown, and the captain is fresh off of his championship.

No one on the Celtics’ roster has given any indication of who they think will win this year’s contest until tonight. Doc Rivers did not hesitate in his response when asked who would win. He was quick, decisive and straight to the point.

"Ray or Paul," he said in an immediate response.

We’ll take that prediction, Doc. If he’s right, the Celtics will become the first team in league history to have two separate players win the contest more than once.

- Marc D'Amico

Rivers Gives Injury Updates After Light Practice

WALTHAM, Mass. –Monday’s open practice in Waltham, Mass., wasn’t what you’d call a full-scale preparation for the Boston Celtics. Ten players began the practice with stretching and shooting drills, but only six were involved in the final drills of the day, and none of them were part of Boston’s starting five.

Don’t be alarmed – the Celtics’ starting five isn’t injured. Instead, since the C’s were together for the third straight day (two practices and one game) and have a practice and game in front of them over the next two days, Doc Rivers chose to work his second unit and let the starters rest.

As the final group worked hard at one end of the court on their offensive sets, Kendrick Perkins went through some on-and-off layup drills at the other end. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo disappeared from the court, likely heading back into the weight room to get their day’s training in. Paul Pierce, who underwent an MRI today, did not participate in today’s practice for precautionary reasons.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Heat 82, Celtics 85: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

There was a ton of talk just a couple of weeks ago about the "burn offense" that Notre Dame consistently runs in their attempt to slow down the game against teams with superior athleticism. The general premise of that offense is to use as much of the shot clock as possible in order to shorten the game and create less possessions. The Boston Celtics won’t be running a burn offense this afternoon against the Miami Heat, but they will have to employ a tactic to try and neutralize the Heat’s incredible athletes.

There may be no player in the league who is better at finishing on the fast break than LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. They are two of the most dynamic athletes this league has ever seen, and when they’re together on the same floor, it’s incredibly difficult to stop them in transition.

With the Heat’s transition game being such a factor to their success, Doc Rivers and the Boson Celtics know that they need to do everything they can to limit Miami’s fast break opportunities. As Rivers said, if the C’s don’t do that, "We’re going to lose."

So how do the Celtics execute that game plan? How does one team prevent the Heat from getting out on the break?

Well, the first factor that will play into succeeding at that goal that is making the Heat inbound the ball to start their offense, rather than toss an outlet pass. In other words, the Celtics must score effectively. Doing so is easier said than done, considering the Heat limit opponents to the lowest shooting percentage in the entire NBA. It can be done, though, as the C’s are shooting 50.7 percent against Miami through two games this season.

The second and maybe most important factor will be limiting turnovers. It’s one thing to allow a team to begin a fast break off of a missed shot attempt, but allowing the opponent to get into transition with a turnover is a whole different animal. If the Celtics don’t take care of the ball today, Miami will be able to get out and run before some of Boston’s players even realize the ball has been coughed up. That’s not a recipe for success, and Rivers knows that.

"I’ve said it every time we’ve played them, if you turn the ball over against them and it’s a live turnover, then you’re giving up a bucket," said Rivers. "Miami was tough last year with Wade by himself, and so was Cleveland (with James). Now you put those two together, and obviously it’s very difficult to guard either one of those guys in transition."

This will be a tough win to grab regardless of Boston’s offensive success tonight. With such a limited roster – Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, Semih Erden, Marquis Daniels and Delonte West are all out – this game will not be easy to win regardless. Keeping the Heat out of transition, however, will go a long way toward keeping the Celtics in this game for the long haul.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

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

Pregame

The NBA lost a legend from the coaching ranks today when Jerry Sloan announced that he has stepped down as head coach of the Utah Jazz after 23 years. But while his legendary status fades into the abyss tonight, Ray Allen will be busy in the TD Garden cementing his legendary status in the history books.

As we all know by now, Allen enters tonight’s game just one 3-pointer shy of breaking Reggie Miller’s all-time record for career makes. If he hits two treys tonight, he will become the 3-point king in front of Miller, who is calling the game on TNT, and the rest of the Garden crowd.

The magnitude of this game has taken a toll on Allen, as he candidly admitted that he did not sleep very well last night. As he said, he typically falls right asleep, but last night he caught himself tossing and turning from the second he laid his head down onto his pillow.

Nonetheless, his preparation has not changed and he’s ready to take the court tonight to grab a win against the rival Lakers. I asked Allen back in the locker room if the factors surrounding this game – Miller being in the house, the game being on TNT, the Lakers being the opponent – might result in him thinking about the record while he’s on the court playing tonight. He seemed pretty confident that that wouldn’t be the case.

"That’s somewhat of a no-no when you’re shooting the basketball," Allen said. "It’s like you start to aim, you start to do different things that you wouldn’t normally do and the ball just goes up.

"I really refer back to last year after coming back here for Game 3 (of the Finals after hitting eight 3s in Game 2). You can’t come into the building thinking, ‘I’m hot.’

Allen hasn’t allowed the record to affect his game leading up to tonight’s contest, so why should he start now? The same can be said for the rest of the Celtics, who have not changed their play in the least bit during Allen’s approach of the record. As Doc Rivers noted during his pregame media session, the record is a great achievement, but once the game begins, that’s the last thing on his and his players’ minds.

"I’m not that focused on [the record], I can tell you I’m not focused on that part of it," said Rivers. "I think that it will just happen eventually, if it’s going to happen. If it happens tonight, that would be great."

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 89, Bobcats 94: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Magic 80, Celtics 91: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

The Celtics will be without Shaquille O’Neal for this afternoon’s game against the Orlando Magic, as expected, and that means Kendrick Perkins will get his second start of the season. According to Doc Rivers, Shaq is out for at least the next two games and possibly through the All-Star break.

When O’Neal signed with the Celtics, the team knew that it would likely have to deal with numerous injuries he’d experience throughout the season. After all, he is 38 years old, and as Rivers said, "He’s huge." While Shaq rests the Achilles that is currently keeping him out of the lineup, the C’s hope that his other nick-knack injuries will heal up as well.

Until that happens, the C’s will be forced to play with Perkins and Semih Erden as the team’s only true centers. Perk has played fantastic basketball since his return from offseason knee surgery, averaging 7.0 PPG and 7.8 RPG in just 24 minutes of playing time. He logged a season-high 33 minutes against the Mavericks on Friday night, and he’ll likely have to approach that total again this afternoon.

Rivers will be much more comfortable leaving Perk out on the court to defend Dwight Howard, but realistically, the C’s will need to have some production from Erden and Glen Davis at the center position, too. This will be the first meeting of the season between these two teams in which O’Neal is not available to defend Howard in the post. Having a shortage of big men could mean a big night for D-12, but Rivers would rather have that happen – as it did on Jan. 17, when he notched 33 points and 13 boards against Boston – than have the Magic light the C’s up from downtown.

He summed his thought process up in one simple sentence: "My Marquette math tell me that that two (points) is better than three."

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Mavericks 101, Celtics 97: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Shaquille O’Neal must be allergic to the Dallas Mavericks.

Tonight will be the second and final game of the season where the Celtics and Mavericks meet, and O’Neal will not have participated in either of them due separate injuries. Shaq missed the first contest with a bruised knee, and he will miss this one with a sore Achilles.

With Shaq out of the lineup, the Celtics will have an easy segway to inserting Kendrick Perkins into the starting lineup. Perk will get his first start of the season tonight and his second will likely come Sunday, because it sounds as if Shaq will not play against the Magic either. Doc Rivers didn’t rule the chance out, but he did say "I don’t think" O’Neal will available.

And so for the first time this season, Boston will have its full starting five – a starting five that has still not lost a playoff series together – on the court. One of those starting five players, Ray Allen, is just nine 3-pointers away from setting the new all-time record for career makes from downtown. Oddly enough, the man who’s right behind him on the list is on the opposing roster tonight. Jason Kidd, who’s known more for his passing skills, sits behind only Reggie Miller and Allen on the all-time 3-pointers list.

There’s plenty of distance between Allen and Kidd on the list, so Boston’s sharpshooter has nothing to worry about. But as Rivers noted before tonight’s game, Allen has had to worry much more about getting those 3-point attempts off throughout his career than Kidd ever has.

"Jason Kidd has always been known as the guy who couldn’t shoot, yet he’s third on the list in 3-point [makes]," said Rivers.

"He’s had a lot of time (to take those shots), that would be the difference between him, Ray and Reggie. Ray and Reggie, guys have been flying out at them trying to take them off; Jason has kind of been very comfortable back there and just shooting them."

That trend will likely continue tonight, as the C’s will be much more concerned with Dirk Nowitzki’s scoring than Kidd’s. Meanwhile, the Mavs will do all they can to chase Allen around screens and attempt to delay his 3-point king celebration as long as possible.

- Marc D'Amico

Four Celtics Named as 2011 All-Star Reserves

BOSTON - The Boston Bench Mob is invading the NBA All-Star game.

Shaquille O’Neal proclaimed back in September that the Boston Celtics’ loaded group of reserves would be referred to as the BBM, an acronym for the Boston Bench Mob. Shaq may have been alluding to a group that included the likes of himself and some other offseason acquisitions by the Celtics, but that title can now christen the Big Four as well.

It was announced Thursday night that four of Boston’s starters were selected by NBA coaches as reserves for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, a feat that has been accomplished only once before in the history of the NBA, by the Detroit Pistons in 2006. The fraternity of NBA coaches has taken notice of the performances of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, and made sure to send the foursome to Los Angeles later this month.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Talk All-Star Possibilities in Waltham

WALTHAM, Mass. – We’re more than halfway through the NBA season and the Boston Celtics have accumulated only 10 losses. In contrast, the C’s had already been defeated 13 times as of Jan. 24 of last season.

Doc Rivers and the C’s are happy to be sitting atop the Eastern Conference with only 10 losses, but no one can deny the fact that a handful of those losses have come to underwhelming opponents.

"It’s been a terrific season so far, but in that terrific season we’ve had some bad losses too, and I tell our guys that," Rivers said after Monday’s practice. "Some of the teams that have beaten us are under .500, and those are tough losses for a team that shouldn’t lose those games."

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 95, Kings 90: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 109, Lakers 96: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 71, Suns 88: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 88, Trail Blazers 78: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Cavaliers 95, Celtics 112: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

It’s a big night in Boston: Kendrick Perkins is back.

Doc Rivers announced before tonight’s game that Perkins will return to the lineup tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is far ahead of the Feb. 4 target date the center set for himself less than two weeks ago.

"After [yesterday’s] practice the doctors walked in and said they thought he should play, so I don’t mind changing my mind," Rivers said, seeing as he did not say at yesterday’s practice that Perk would return tonight.

The move may have caught Rivers, and the rest of us for that matter, by surprise, but there is no denying that he loved to hear the news. With Perkins being able to return this early, he will have a week and a half to find his rhythm before the C’s hit a brutal stretch of five games that includes the following opponents: Dallas, Orlando, Charlotte, the L.A. Lakers and Miami, respectively.

Moving Perk’s starting point up to tonight will allow himself and the C’s to get him into decent playing shape by the time that stretch rolls in. For now, though, Rivers is less worried about getting him in shape as he is about helping the big man find his rhythm again.

"We’re not even worried about the conditioning part right now," said Rivers. "That’ll be later. Right now it’s just about timing and playing basketball."

Rivers is looking to get Perkins between 12 and 16 minutes of playing time on the court tonight. He’s not sure how he will distribute those minutes throughout the game, but that is the general minute total he is aiming for tonight.

Rivers cautioned before tonight’s game for everyone to understand that Perk is coming back from a substantial injury and that his ability to give large contributions to the team likely won’t arrive tonight. It’s going to take time, and Boston’s coach is more than willing to wait.

"Some guys have come back and been pretty good right away, you know, their rhythm and timing, but their bodies felt great, and others haven’t," Rivers said. "I just, I was honest with him. I told him that it could take a while, and maybe not. I said, ‘Either way, I’m patient, and I’m going to wait for ya.’ "

- Marc D'Amico

C's Discuss Bad Losses and Injury News

WALTHAM, Mass. – We’re more than halfway through the NBA season and the Boston Celtics have accumulated only 10 losses. In contrast, the C’s had already been defeated 13 times as of Jan. 24 of last season.

Doc Rivers and the C’s are happy to be sitting atop the Eastern Conference with only 10 losses, but no one can deny the fact that a handful of those losses have come to underwhelming opponents.

"It’s been a terrific season so far, but in that terrific season we’ve had some bad losses too, and I tell our guys that," Rivers said after Monday’s practice. "Some of the teams that have beaten us are under .500, and those are tough losses for a team that shouldn’t lose those games."

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 83, Wizards 85: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Jazz 86, Celtics 110: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Whenever a conversation takes place about Rajon Rondo, all you hear about is his speed, vision and ability to find open teammates with precise passes. That all changed tonight, because the first thing Jerry Sloan raved about was Rondo’s ability to rebound the basketball.

"You have to be aware of him because he’s going to rebound the ball," Sloan said of Rondo. "He has a tremendous knack for getting into position to rebound, and that’s what rebounding’s about."

Rondo enters tonight’s game as the fifth-ranked point guard in terms of rebounding. He grabs 4.6 a night, and that’s saying something for the floor general of a team that leads the league in shooting percentage.

While Sloan believes that Rondo’s positioning is key to his rebounding success, Doc Rivers has a different take. Rivers thinks Rondo’s knack for attacking the glass is something he was born with.

"That’s an instinct," said Rivers. "Danny (Ainge) saw that in college, he really did. It was pretty remarkable. I didn’t look enough to see it, but I remember Danny, when Rondo was in college he would say, ‘This guy is a freaky rebounder for his size.’ It’s just a great instinct. He has a great instinct of where the ball’s going."

Although Rondo trails four other point guards in rebounding average, he’s not far behind the leader. Russell Westbrook leads the league’s point guards in rebounding with 5.0 per game, but Rivers isn’t sure that gap is very indicative of which guard is actually the better rebounder.

Said Rivers: "I think Westbrook may be number one, but in Rondo’s defense we don’t – we try not to allow Rondo to go to the offensive glass, where Oklahoma City encourages [Westbrook] to go to the offensive glass. So it does make a big difference in those two in rebounding."

Deron Williams, who is Rondo’s opposing point guard tonight, ranks 11th in the league in rebounds by a point guard with 3.8 per game. While Williams possesses much greater size, it’s those instincts that play to Rondo’s advantage, and the hope is that he’ll be able to showcase those skills again tonight.

- Marc D'Amico

Tricks of the Trade: Allen Reveals Magic of Big Shots

WALTHAM, Mass. – Ray Allen hit a 21-foot jumper with 24.5 seconds remaining on the clock to give Boston a win over Detroit last night in the TD Garden. It wasn’t a surprise that he nailed the game-winner despite the fact that he had missed six of his seven shot attempts before that bucket. It seems as if he makes one of those shots on a bi-weekly basis.

That bucket did, however, spark many to ask themselves the following: What is it that makes Ray Allen so great at hitting a quick-release shot, no matter what the circumstances may be? The answers may surprise you.

There’s a reason why Allen is currently approaching the all-time record for 3-pointers in a career, and there’s a reason why he is the go-to guy for Boston when it needs free throws down the stretch of a game. He is one of the purest shooters of all time, and he has put in plenty of work to reach that level of consistency.

It would be difficult for anyone to find a player who racks up the countless hours of repetitions that Allen does on a daily basis. He shows up to the arena four hours before tip off to get his personal workout in. He stays late after practice sessions to continue working on his ageless shooting stroke. A lifetime of practice has resulted in one of the most textbook releases the game has ever seen, but the shot doesn’t go in if he can’t get it off, right?

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Pistons 82, Celtics 86: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

We’re just over two weeks away from Kendrick Perkins’ return to the lineup – two weeks and two days, to be exact – but Perk won’t be the only Celtic who tests himself around Feb. 4.

Delonte West announced before tonight’s game that he is "two or three weeks" away from returning to full-scale practice, and from that point on it will be on Doc Rivers to determine his return to game action.

West recently learned that he has been cleared to resume full basketball activities that do not result in pain. In other words, he is now able to dribble with the right wrist and, when he can do it pain-free, catch passes with his off-hand.

"I’m not catching just yet," West said. "It’s still a little tender, but as far as dribbling, I’m just trying to do whatever I can with the right hand that I’m permitted to do."

He and the medical staff are comfortable enough at this point to allow West to live his day-to-day life without the restriction of a brace on his wrist. There is one time of the day, however, in which he does consistently wear the brace, though it’s purely a precaution.

"I still sleep with it now and again to make sure the wrist doesn’t go in any funky positions," said West.

The Celtics had a similar situation last season, when Marquis Daniels underwent surgery on his left thumb (also his off hand) and didn’t return to Boston’s lineup until the early portion of February. As we all know now, based on Daniels’ performance this season, he simply wasn’t comfortable as last season came to a close and he really didn’t play up to his capabilities. I asked Doc tonight if he’s worried about a similar situation occurring with West, and this is how he answered:

"I think Delonte is Delonte. He’s going to play the way he plays. He’s just – that’s how he plays. He’s been injured a lot in his career, so he’s pretty good at coming back from them."

If West doesn’t suffer any hangover from the injury, he will be an enormous boost to Boston’s bench. His return, if completed in mid-February, would give the Celtics about two months of the regular season schedule to catch their rhythm as a healthy squad before the playoffs arrive.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Magic 106, Celtics 109: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Tonight’s Game:

Everyone knows that the Orlando Magic take a ton of 3-pointers, but everyone also knows that this team is built around one man and one man only – Dwight Howard.

Howard is the cornerstone of the organization and, despite the team’s affinity for shooting the ball from long range, is the leading scorer for Orlando. The team may not run its offense through him on a continuous basis, but he is always a threat down low.

The combination of having one of the biggest bodies in the league and limitless athleticism has resulted in him becoming one of the most difficult players to defend in the NBA (despite the general thought that he has a limited repertoire of post moves). His ability to bang with defenders, while always possessing the ability to blow by them, leads to a high amount of fouls being whistled on the opponent on a nightly basis. The C’s frontcourt, which will consist of Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis and Semih Erden, will have to deal with such a quandary tonight.

With Jermaine O’Neal currently in New York City receiving a second opinion on his injured knee, according to Doc Rivers, Boston has only one experienced center on its active roster. That man is Erden, and the C’s clearly would love to avoid putting the rookie on Howard for extended periods of time tonight. To do so, Shaq will need to do his best to avoid foul trouble, but as Rivers noted in pregame, that’s easier said than done.

"Well, we’re going to get into foul trouble," Rivers said during pregame. "You just go into – when you go into a game against Orlando, you go into the game thinking you’re going to get into foul trouble and you pray you don’t. But you’re just ready for it. The bottom line is don’t try to do to much, just try to defend him. And if he makes shots over you, he makes shots over you."

Despite that comment, Boston has a nice long note written on its grease board regarding Howard tonight: "Nothing easy for Howard – no dunks, no spin-outs, no and-1s, no deep rolls for seals, no baseline rips." We’ll see over the course of two and a half hours if the C’s can follow those instructions while staying out of foul trouble.

Yesterday’s Practice:

As you may have heard by now, the Celtics went through their first full practice yesterday with their starting unit intact. With Garnett and Kendrick Perkins being reunited in the frontcourt for the first time since Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, Rivers believes the Celtics may have had their best practice of the season in one particular area.

"It was loud, and I mean that in a very complimentary way," Rivers said of Sunday’s practice. "It was the loudest practice we had all year because our two best talkers, Perk and Kevin, were on the floor barking out instructions. They were holding everyone accountable."

As a result, the starters made the reserves look like a high school basketball team. Rivers initially thought the bench players simply weren’t playing well during the practice, but upon further review he realized it wasn’t their fault.

Said Rivers, "I got upset at our second unit yesterday, and then when I watched the practice film I realized that there was not a lot they could do yesterday."

We’re only about three weeks from seeing that fantastic practice energy, communication and execution translate to in-game play. Perkins has set Feb. 4 as his return date, and when that day arrives, this team is likely to jump to a whole new level, just as it already has in practice.

- Marc D'Amico

Starting Five Reunited in Big Day in Waltham

WALTHAM, Mass. – Doc Rivers delivered his daily injury report at about 1:30 p.m. this afternoon in Waltham, Mass. With it came some bad news, but the good was undeniable.

For the first time this season, the Boston Celtics went through an entire practice with their regular starting unit intact. That means Kevin Garnett resumed full practice for the first time since straining a muscle in his lower right leg against the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 29, 2010. It also means that Kendrick Perkins, who is on the comeback trail from offseason knee surgery, participated in a full practice for the first time this season.

With those two reuniting in the frontcourt, Boston was able to rekindle the type of continuity that has send the team to the NBA Finals two out of the last three seasons. Although it was just the first day the group has played together since Game 7 of the Finals on June 17, 2010, Rivers couldn’t help himself from being excited about what he saw.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Bobcats 94, Celtics 99: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Some news is better than no news, and that’s about what we got on the Jermaine O’Neal front tonight.

While O’Neal and Doc Rivers both addressed the big man’s most recent setback, there weren’t a whole lot of definitive answers. However, we do know more than we did yesterday.

O’Neal underwent an MRI this week and the results have been reviewed by him and the team’s medical staff. The results were not shared with the media, but O’Neal revealed that he will seek a second opinion, with the team’s backing, on Monday. That opinion will determine the course of action he will take regarding the knee for the remainder of the season.

With that in mind, we know that there are two routes that he will be able to take. The first is surgery, which would give him a timetable of about "10 weeks" for a return. The second option, which both he and Rivers said they clearly would prefer if it’s physically possible, is to play the remainder of the season while dealing with the pain.

O’Neal and the team will make a final decision on their course of action early next week. Based on Rivers’ reaction, it sounds as if surgery would all but end O’Neal’s ability to contribute to the team this season.

"We don’t know this, obviously, but if the news comes back where surgery means, you know, two months more, that’s basically it," said Rivers. "Because two months – I think everyone thinks when we say two months that means you play in two months. No, that means you start working out in two months.

"I just think if you’re coming back in April, and you haven’t played all year, there’s a very low chance that you’re going to help us."

And so all parties concerned will hold out the hope that the offseason signee will be able to battle through the remainder of the season and help this team win a championship. That’s exactly what O’Neal said he wants to do, and he will deal with the pain throughout the season if the doctors give him that option.

"He’s trying to figure out a way, we’re trying to figure out a way with Dr. McKeon and everybody on how we can get him on the floor," Rivers said. "Even if it’s gotta be, at the worst case scenario the way it’s been, where he plays four or five games and has to sit out."

The good news for O’Neal and the Celtics is that while he’s on the court, he’s all business. You would think that an injury that is bordering the line of surgery would prevent him from performing to his fullest on the court, but as he told us, that’s not the case.

"I have no problems in the game. Once I’m in the game it’s fine," O’Neal said of pain in the knee. "It’s the next day that I have the problems."

Due to the fact that O’Neal and the team elected to not have him undergo surgery when this injury was discovered back in November, they’ve been put between a rock and a hard place. Either way, O’Neal is going to be dealing with pain for a long time. The question is, will it be during a rehab stint that essentially removes him from this season’s puzzle, or will it be dealt with throughout the season after he plays in games?

An indication of where these guys might be leaning is that O’Neal said bluntly that he contemplated playing in tonight’s game until the second he left his house.

- Marc D'Amico

KG Returns to Practice, But O'Neal MRI Results Loom

WALTHAM, Mass. – If Doc Rivers’ words were any indication, the Boston Celtics’ roster is about to undergo some major shifting.

Boston ran through its second practice of the week today and did so with limited numbers. However, one key figure made his return to the court and finally rejoined his team for some live action.

Kevin Garnett, who strained a muscle in his lower right leg on Dec. 29 in Detroit, was able to practice alongside his teammates for about half of the hour-long session. Although Garnett has been ruled out of playing in tomorrow night’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats in the Garden, Rivers sounded optimistic about what he saw out of Garnett during his participation in live practice drills.

"No, he’s not playing tomorrow, but he looked pretty good," said Rivers. "He actually, besides just his wind and stuff, I thought his movement was very good."

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Kings 95, Celtics 119: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

The Celtics were hit with another blow this morning when they were informed that Jermaine O’Neal woke up this morning with a swollen left knee – again.

O’Neal has experienced pain in the left knee throughout the season and returned to the lineup just over two weeks ago after sitting out for six weeks. Doc Rivers said earlier this month that O’Neal will likely experience pain in the knee for the remainder of his life, but this took the Celtics by surprise.

"We weren’t prepared for this one," said Rivers before tonight’s game.

With O’Neal suffering yet another setback, the Celtics are going to need to lean heavily on their two frontcourt rookies in the coming games. It’s now expected that Boston will be without JO and Kevin Garnett through the end of this week.

If that scenario comes to fruition, Luke Harangody and Semih Erden will both receive an increase in their minutes. Rivers doesn’t seem too concerned with the fact that those two rooks will be on the court, but he will do his best to stagger their minutes.

"You look at our second unit bigs, there’s gonna be, at some point, Luke and Semih may have to be on the floor at the same time," said Rivers. "That’s not the two you want on the floor at the same time. You don’t mind them on the floor, (but) you don’t want them there together. But in some ways we have no choice in that."

Back on the Garnett front, there is an update to be given. Rivers told the media that Garnett is likely to miss both tonight’s game and Friday’s game before returning to the lineup Monday night against the Orlando Magic. KG is healthy enough that he would be playing if tonight was a playoff game, but it’s not. Today is Jan. 12, and the C’s know they can use patience.

"My guess is no," Rivers said regarding Garnett playing on Friday, "because after that we have two more days off. And so my thinking right now – unless he just comes out and practices the whole practice (on Thursday) and looks great – is probably off Friday too and then – what do we play, on Monday? Probably then."

At least the C’s can be comfortable in the fact that they know, for sure, that Garnett’s injury is not incredibly serious and that he’ll be back in the lineup sooner rather than later. O’Neal, however, is a different story. His knee has acted up on a consistent basis this season, and six weeks off only allowed him to return for about two weeks before the knee pain resurfaced in a major way. We’ll just have to wait and see if Boston’s medical staff can figure out a way to mitigate the injury and help O’Neal contribute to this team throughout the remainder of the season.

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Return to Practice Court Sans KG

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics got back to the basics today, simply because they were finally able to.

For the first time in more than two weeks, according to Doc Rivers, the team took the court for a full practice.

You have to go all the way back to the week of Dec. 26 to find a date in which the C’s were able to hold a full practice. Yes, they’ve been able to hold their regular game-day shootarounds, but those only go so far. Shootarounds are generally geared toward preparation for that night’s game, rather than putting in work to clean up areas of slippage. The Celtics needed legitimate practice time, and that just hasn’t been available.

"We just have gone through this stretch where we literally didn’t have enough guys and we‘ve had too many games," Rivers said after Tuesday’s practice. "It’s funny – before the game yesterday I was talking about how badly we needed a practice and it showed its head (in the game)."

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Rockets 108, Celtics 102: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

We thought that there was a slight chance that Kevin Garnett would pop back into the Celtics’ lineup tonight, but it turns out that the team’s initial timetable of two weeks will, in fact, be accurate.

Garnett did not participate in this morning’s shootaround and Rivers just notified the media that he will not play in tonight’s game. He termed KG’s possible return of Wednesday against the Kings, which would be exactly two weeks of time off, as a "maybe."

The Celtics aren’t the only team that will be playing without a key player, though. Houston has been hit with a pair of critical injuries tonight, as their leading scorer, Kevin Martin, will be out with a sore wrist and Brad Miller will not play, either. As Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle noted on his Twitter page, this means that the Rockets are down to four big men tonight, and that includes Jared Jeffries, who is more of a small forward.

Boston will have an enormous size advantage tonight and will undoubtedly look to assert themselves in the paint. Look for both of the O’Neals to get plenty of touches in the paint against the undersized Rockets.

In addition to hitting the big guys in the post all night, the C’s will also try to relocate the ball movement that racked up 30-plus assists in their last two wins. That ball movement was nonexistent on Saturday night in Chicago. Doc Rivers titled the team’s offensive showing a "one-pass-shot offense."

The Celtics assisted on only 12 of their 28 field goals Saturday night in Chicago. Rivers agreed when I suggested that such a performance is likely to surface a handful of times each season, usually at the tail end of a tough stretch of games, but he also made it clear that he didn’t expect to lose despite the team’s struggles.

"Yeah, but I want to win those games," Rivers said. "That’s the only thing I told our guys. I thought it all frustrated us. You could see it in our play. We got in the way of ourselves and didn’t allow ourselves to win the game. I think you can play poorly and you can still win the game. We just, mentally, couldn’t get past playing poorly and still try and win the game the other night."

Hopefully the Celtics won't have to worry about that tonight. For once this season, the C's finally have the health advantage, and it should pay off in the form of a much better offensive performance against the Rockets.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 79, Bulls 90: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Raptors 102, Celtics 122: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

A new record was set tonight in the TD Garden: most smiles from one player prior to tip-off.

That player’s name is Kendrick Perkins, and his smile was shining from ear to ear for the full 10 minutes he was speaking to media in the locker room. Why, you might ask? Well that’s because Boston’s center-on-the-mend is right around the corner from returning to the lineup.

Perkins made numerous huge announcements about his progress before making his way onto the court for a workout before the game. First, he notified us that he has returned to full speed, 3-on-3 basketball. Second, he plans on returning to full practices next week. Third, and maybe most important of all, his timetable for a return to game action is just three weeks.

Before Perk does return to games, he’ll need to get his rhythm back through practice time. The issue that looms is that, due to the team’s schedule in January, practice time will be extremely limited. Doc Rivers says he’s not worrying about that, though. He’ll turn on his creative side and figure out how to get Perk back in his rhythm.

"We can always create a practice," Rivers said matter of factly. "It doesn’t have to be with all of the guys. We can find a way of getting him on the floor.

With Perk’s return inching closer and closer, questions are beginning to surface regarding what his expectations are regarding playing time, as well as if he’ll start or come off the bench. He wasn’t too enamored with those questions, but he answered with a smile after he was asked if he believes he’s going to be the starting center or not.

"I’m gonna give you an answer," he said. "Yeah!"

It’s beginning to feel a lot like the C’s have an enormous trade that’s going to be completed within the next few weeks. The reason is because Boston will be getting Perk and Delonte West, who has played only five games this season, back at nearly the same time. As Ray Allen noted prior to tonight’s game, adding players of their caliber to the lineup this late in the season can be a huge boost of energy for their teammates.

"It does give you a sense of help is around the corner, the cavalry is over the hill coming to join us," Allen said.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Spurs 103, Celtics 105: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Here we are, on Jan. 5, and the two teams everyone in the world would consider ‘old’ are sitting atop the Eastern and Western Conference. It’s no doubt that we’re in for a gem tonight when we watch the C’s host the Spurs in the Garden.

Although these two teams, which both have big-name trios that lead their squads, are in familiar territory, it’s impossible to ignore the new mindset San Antonio has displayed this season. A squad that had formerly been known as a defensive stalwart has instead turned into an unstoppable offensive force.

With Tim Duncan taking a back seat to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs have vaulted to the top of the league in offensive efficiency and they’re fighting for the league-lead in scoring, too. But while their offense has ascended, their defense has fallen into mediocrity. The stats will tell you that – they’re ranked 14th in opponent PPG and 16th in opponent field goal percentage – but Boston’s white board gives even more evidence of that fact.

Celtics coaches will instruct their players to take advantage of the little things San Antonio isn’t doing anymore. The Spurs aren’t defending post feeds and cuts well. They aren’t fighting through tough screens. Essentially, they’re showing a level of laziness. We’ll see if the C’s can take advantage of that tonight.

As far as players are concerned, we all know that Kevin Garnett won’t be on the court tonight. Rivers told the media that KG has returned to shooting drills but he is still unsure of a possible return to the lineup. With Garnett sitting out tonight, Glen Davis will get the start against DeJuan Blair. That means a 6-9 power forward (Davis) will face off against a 6-7 power forward (Blair).

I asked Doc Rivers how these two undersized big men have vaulted themselves into such essential roles on championship teams, and he gave me four reasons: talent, IQ, skill set, and both play extremely hard. In addition to pointing that out, Rivers also noted that these guys have overcome adversity in their ascension to critical roles.

"I’m sure [Gregg Popovich] told Blair the same thing we told Baby," said Rivers. "The Draft is just a one-day number, and the rest of your career is what you make of it."

Davis was drafted 35th overall and Blair was drafted 37th overall. They’ve both put that draft position aside and put in the work to take their careers from possibilities to long-term commitments.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Timberwolves 93, Celtics 96: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Typically when the Celtics are taking on an underwhelming opponent, most of the pregame talk is geared toward Boston’s team or some other obscure subject. Not the case tonight.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are in town to take on the C’s, and despite their win total of eight game this season, they have some extremely intriguing pieces on their roster. The two biggest pieces are named Kevin Love and Michael Beasley.

Love enters tonight’s game as the leading rebounder in the league with an average of 15.3 per game and that is clearly going to be a point of emphasis tonight for Boston. On the locker room’s white board, Boston’s coaches wrote: "ALL 5 RUSH TO REBOUND – LOVE 4.8 OFF/GAME."

Obviously the C’s want to combat Love’s rebounding ability with their entire team attack the glass. However, sometimes that just won’t cut it and talent overrides the opponent’s effort. Doc Rivers mentioned in pregame that last night in Toronto, many of the Raptors’ 19 offensive rebounds were due to superior athleticism. That’s not the case with Love. He simply has an innate ability to rebound the basketball, and as evidenced by his numbers, it’s nearly impossible to stop.

"Very few players can do that – read where the ball is going. You’ll see it tonight," said Rivers. "We were watching it on film. I mean, it’s almost uncanny. The ball’s almost at the rim and you can see him making a break to the left side of the rim or the right side of the rim already."

While Love cleans up the glass for Minnesota, Beasley concerns himself with carrying the team’s load at the offensive end. He leads the team in scoring with 21.8 PPG and is shooting the ball effectively from all over the court. Rivers said he believes Beasley may lead the team in scoring someday, and that will probably occur because he’s a difficult matchup for anyone who is forced to defend him.

"He just really knows how to score the ball. He has the Carmelo (Anthony) ability to score inside of him," Rivers said. "And he’s a matchup problem every night. It’s tough for [small forwards] to guard him because of his size, and he’s too big for [power forwards]."

The C’s will have their hands full tonight with a couple of tough, young players on Minnesota’s side of the ball, but Boston should be able to score at will. They want to get out in transition and force the issue against the Timberwolves, so keep your eyes out for a triple-digit performance from the Celts.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 93, Raptors 79: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Peter Stringer

Game Links

Hornets 83, Celtics 81: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

You might be able to take an educated guess as to what was the top story of this afternoon’s pregame media session. No? No guesses? Alright, here’s a two-letter clue: K and G.

The biggest news of the past 48 hours came in two waves. First, Kevin Garnett left Boston’s Wednesday night game against the Pistons in Detroit with an injury to his right leg. The extent of the injury wasn’t known until his MRI results rolled in Thursday afternoon, which resulted in the second wave of information.

It is now known that Garnett’s injury is simply a strain to a muscle in his lower right leg and that he will miss up to two weeks of action. That means the C’s, who were in survival mode to begin with, must dig deeper into their survival kit during this hectic stretch of games that looms ahead.

The problem is, they just lost what may be the most important tool in their survival kit. Garnett might be Boston’s hatchet.

Without him, new pieces must step in and current pieces must perform well. Glen Davis will be inserted into the starting lineup, and players like Von Wafer, Luke Harangody and Semih Erden might see minutes they wouldn’t normally see. What Doc Rivers told those players, as well as the rest of the team, is that they don’t need to try and be something they aren’t. He simply wants them to compete at a high level while staying in their limits.

"I heard a couple of guys saying, ‘You know, we need guys to step up,’ " said Rivers, who was referring to his team’s shootarond this morning. "I said, ‘Listen, we don’t need anybody to step up. We just need you to step into your role and do what you do. I think what happens is guys do try to try to do more, do more than their ability, and that’s why you lose games."

We don’t know how long Garnett will be out, but today’s New Year’s Eve matinee will be our first taste of what this current Celtics team looks like without him. It’s time to find out if Rivers’ players took his statement to heart and can simply step in, rather than attempt to step up.

Injury Notes: Rajon Rondo will not play in tonight's game due to his sprained left ankle. Rivers said he is close, and may play in either or both of the next two games, but the ankle hasn't responded well enough to warrant playing time this afternoon.

- Marc D'Amico

When Kevin Garnett exited the court Wednesday night in the Palace of Auburn Hills, it was human nature to assume the worst. Luckily for him and the Celtics, the worst has been avoided.

Danny Ainge announced Thursday afternoon that Garnett's MRI came back negative and that his injury has been deemed a strain. Ainge said Garnett will likely miss "a couple of weeks" with the injury.

Garnett Injury Update

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 95, Pacers 83: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics 78, Magic 86: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

76ers 80, Celtics 84: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Hopefully the Celtics aren’t in the same state as the media.

Ninety percent of the questions fired at Boston’s players and coaches prior to tonight’s game were concerning Saturday’s Christmas Day showdown with the Magic in Orlando. It could be danger zone for the C’s if they look ahead to Saturday as well, because they’ve got one game to take care of first.

The C’s host Philadelphia tonight and are looking for their 14th consecutive win, which would pop their record up to 23-4 on the season. Boston won by only one point in Philadelphia earlier this season, and Doc Rivers thinks the reason was a lack of transition defense.

The grease board in Boston’s locker room says as much, as the very first item on the list is written in large, bolded letters: 22 FAST BREAK POINTS – SPRINT BACK! That message is referencing the 22 fast break points that the Sixers scored against the C’s in the teams’ first meeting of the season.

Rivers admitted that the one area of Boston’s game that has experienced consistent slippage this season is the transition defense. He warned that if the team experiences that lack of open court defense tonight, it could be in for a long night against such an athletic team.

In addition to Philadelphia being athletic and capable in the open court, the 76ers are also coming off of a 45-point drubbing last night in Chicago. The general consensus is that they’ll be steadfast on bouncing back from that loss tonight, and Rivers passed some of that blame onto one of his best friends in the league.

"I texted a very mean message to Thibs (last night)," Rivers said, alluding to former assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, who is now the head coach in Chicago.

Thibodeau’s troops may have lit a fire under this Philadelphia team, and it will be Boston’s job to put it out tonight.

Injury notes: Jermaine O'Neal will not make his return to the lineup tonight due to flu-like symptoms. Rajon Rondo is back to running and walking, but there is no timetable for his return.

- Marc D'Amico

Perkins Takes Big Step on Road to Recovery

WALTHAM, Mass. - Who would have thought that the first 20 minutes of a December practice could hold so much significance?

A feeling of surrealism passed through approximately 100 onlookers as the Boston Celtics began Tuesday's open practice in Waltham, Mass., with their entire frontcourt intact. For the first time this season, Kendrick Perkins was included in that 'entire frontcourt' group.

Perkins underwent arthroscopic knee ligament reconstruction with meniscal repair during the offseason and, to this point, has been nothing but an eager giant waiting to break down the wall on the court between he and his teammates. The 6-foot-10 center has essentially been limited to working out with coaches - and without teammates - before games and after practices for the past few weeks. Those sessions pale in comparison to the Shaq-sized step he took today.

Practice began with a strength and conditioning segment that Doc Rivers said Perkins hadn't participated in to this point. To the outsiders, though, that wasn't the surprising part. What shocked most of the media members watching from high above the court was the fact that Perkins continued practicing alongside his teammates when they moved into the skeleton offense portion of the practice, which is essentially full-speed basketball without contact.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Pacers 88, Celtics 99: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Doc Rivers may have said it best as he walked away from his pregame media session: "It’s early, clearly your brains aren’t working yet."

It was probably the shortest pregame session Rivers has had to date, as the questions were limited from the media contingent. Still, though, there were a couple of important topics he touched on.

The story that has been the talk of the NBA over the past two days is the roster overhaul the Orlando Magic made yesterday. They acquired Hedo Turkoglu, Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson, which Rivers says will bring its positives and its negatives to the Central Florida area.

"I had heard that they were looking for guys who can create off the dribble, and I think they have added that," Rivers said. "They have lost some size, and we’ll see later (how that affects them)."

The lack of size that Orlando now possesses could play into Boston’s favor as the season wears on, particularly if the C’s can get 100 percent healthy on the frontline. We’ll get our first look at the matchup on Christmas day, but even Rivers noted that the ABC showdown won’t exactly be an indicator of things to come later in the season.

There is some big news regarding the Celtics as well, the biggest of which is the return of Shaquille O’Neal. He will return to the lineup this afternoon against the Pacers after missing the past four games due to a sore right calf. The other O’Neal, Jermaine, is on his way back and could play in Wednesday’s home game against the Philadelphia 76ers. He fully participated in Saturday’s practice and Rivers said he looked "great."

Also keep your eye on Semih Erden today, because he is playing with a pulled groin that the team thought would prevent him from playing in today’s game. But when he showed up to shootaround this morning, he notified the team that he felt fine and would be able to play this afternoon.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Hawks 90, Celtics 102: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Just moments before Doc Rivers emerged from his office for a pregame session with the media, a player quietly snuck into the locker room while avoiding any attention from writers or cameras. Not many of the media members saw it, and that might be a good thing because it was a sight for sore eyes.

That player was Rajon Rondo, and he was hobbling back to his teammates on a pair of crutches.

The league’s leading assist man sprained his left ankle in the fourth quarter of last night’s victory in New York. The replay showed Rondo’s left ankle turning so badly that it touched the floor. Still, he fought through the pain and made his way back onto the court to help contribute to the win.

That won’t be happening tonight against the Atlanta Hawks.

Rivers told the media that on the flight home last night, Rondo’s ankle worsened to the point that he is not expected to return to the lineup for at least one or two weeks.

His injury leaves a vacant spot at the point guard position, which Nate Robinson will fill. Robinson has already started four games this season while Rondo nursed a strained hamstring, but this time around things are going to be a bit different.

"Someone was asking me, ‘Could you lose Rondo?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, we were 3-1 and should be 4-0 without him,’ " said Rivers. "But what we can’t lose is Rondo, Delonte West… you know, the numbers are just starting to add up now where we just can’t sustain another [injury]. "

Avery Bradley and Marquis Daniels will now handle the backup point guard duties for Boston, which is riding an 11-game winning streak. The team is clearly beginning to thin out to a point where it’s simply looking for healthy bodies to eat up minutes. They’ve been able to do so during this winning streak, but injuries continue to mount.

Tonight’s opponent, the Atlanta Hawks, have a couple of important injuries as well. Joe Johnson (elbow) and Jamal Crawford (back) will both miss tonight’s game. Those two players are by far the most dangerous scorers on the Hawks roster, so they’re going to be searching for some quality play from reserves tonight as well.

With both teams missing key pieces tonight, it’s obvious that this isn’t going to be the prettiest game of the season. But if you like to see "grind it out" games, you’re probably going to enjoy this one.

"That’s what our games have been the last five games now," said Rivers, alluding to the grind it out mentality. "So we’re just par for the course for us. We just have to continue to grind. I told our guys today that we just have to keep moving forward, we can’t look at anything else."

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 118, Knicks 116: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Rivalry Revisited? Not Just Yet

WALTHAM, Mass. – Paul Pierce chuckled at the suggestion that Wednesday night’s contest in New York might be that of a rivalry. Using such a word to describe a matchup between the Celtics and Knicks is surely pretentious, but there’s no downplaying the hype that’s currently snowballing into the Big Apple.

Boston hasn’t played since Saturday and New York has been off since Sunday, which means the media and public will have had two full days to gear up before the teams’ showdown at 7 p.m. Wednesday night on ESPN.

We all know about the distaste these two cities have for one another, but it has grown stale from a basketball sense over the past decade. Now that Boston and New York are once again feared throughout the league, everyone is chomping at the bit to see them compete against each other.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 93, Bobcats 62: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 102, 76ers 101: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Nuggets 89, Celtics 105: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

We all know that the news of the night is Shelden Williams’ return to the TD Garden.

OK, OK… maybe not.

The real news is that just one day after running through practice with only eight bodies, the Celtics will unexpectedly field a full 12-man roster for tonight’s game.

Three members of Boston’s team – Jermaine O’Neal, Delonte West and Kendrick Perkins – were obviously not going to play in tonight’s game due to long-term injuries. But in addition to them, four other Celtics missed Tuesday’s practice for one reason or another. To everyone’s surprise, Doc Rivers popped out of his office for a pregame media session and happily delivered the news that Rajon Rondo, Nate Robinson, Glen Davis and Shaquille O’Neal would all be available for tonight’s game.

"We’re good," Rivers said. "Rondo will play, Baby will play, Shaq will play. I told you that the other game and two of them didn’t play… no, but I think they’ll all play. I think we’re pretty good."

It was thought that Davis was a definite no throughout the day, as he wasn’t even with the team at this morning’s shootaround. Boston decided to keep him away from the team for as long as possible for precautionary reasons despite knowing the big man would play tonight.

The importance of everyone playing cannot be overstated. Without that group, the C’s would have been forced to take on a perennial Western Conference contender tonight with an undermanned roster that most definitely would have struggled in many areas. Boston is certainly thankful that those worries are long gone.

They’ll also be thankful for some other surprising news – Carmelo Anthony will not play in tonight’s game. He’s out with a sore right knee.

Overall, tonight’s pregame has a holiday feel to it for the C’s. Tons of surprises that undoubtedly did nothing but put smiles on their faces in the locker room during pregame.

- Marc D'Amico

All Jokes Aside, C's Grow from Ad Lib Practice

WALTHAM, Mass. – Doc Rivers made his way over to the herd of media after Tuesday’s practice and broke the ice with a whimsical joke. It was typical Rivers material, who likes to keep his media sessions light hearted.

It was an atypical moment, though, because that joke, which invoked a burst of laughter from the group, was a legitimate statement that held a significant underlying meaning.

"We needed some of you guys for practice today," he said with a laugh.

On this day, even a reporter might have been useful in the Celtics’ practice.

Boston was forced to maneuver its way through today’s session, which was only the team’s second full practice in more than two weeks, with eight players. The list of players who did not participate in practice would be an intriguing seven-man core for any NBA team: Rajon Rondo (hamstring and foot pain), Nate Robinson (personal matter), Delonte West (broken wrist), Glen Davis (illness), Jermaine’ O’Neal (sore knee), Shaquille O’Neal (sore calf) and Kendrick Perkins (knee rehabilitation).

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 100, Nets 75: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Bulls 92, Celtics 104: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

The man Celtics fans love to hate is back in town tonight – Joakim Noah.

It’s no secret that Boston fans, and NBA fans in general, love to boo Chicago’s starting center, but Noah has proven that he feeds off of such energy. The man Noah loves to dislike, Kevin Garnett, is similar in that regard.

Those two players were the hot topic during tonight’s pregame, and it’s not difficult to figure out why. KG and Noah are two of the most emotional players the NBA currently has to offer, and when they collide there’s always a possibility of fireworks (in a good way). Since the last time these two teams met, Noah went public with his dislike for Garnett, a fact that will surely fire up the Big Ticket tonight.

Although the players are different in so many aspects of their games, the similarities don’t end with their emotions. Both players are hustlers who, as Doc Rivers noted, will do anything to win.

"They both play hard, at the end of the day, and they both play for the right reasons," said Rivers. "I think every coach in the NBA would love them both, because they both clearly play to win. That doesn’t mean either one of them plays perfect every night. They make their mistakes. But every ounce of them is about winning."

Garnett won’t be facing off with Noah much tonight in one-on-one situations, but you will surely see both attacking the boards on every possession. Both players rank in the top 15 in the league in rebounds per game. Noah, however, is coming off of the worst rebounding game of his career, as he finished Wednesday’s blowout loss to Orlando with a goose egg in that department.

Don’t expect such an occurrence to take place again tonight. Rivers, as well as everyone else on the Celtics team, realize that such a performance was more of an anomaly than a regularity.

"It’s shocking. But hell, it happens," Rivers said of Noah’s zero-rebound performance. "We’ve all had them. Everyone has a game – him, probably, as far as with his energy and everything (is more shocking)."

Rivers also noted that Orlando barely missed in that game, and that it was Chicago’s first game after a West Coast trip, which he called "miserable." So, there were reasons why Noah struggled.

After having Thursday off, though, travel and fatigue shouldn’t play a role for either team tonight. That means we should see the best of Garnett and Noah tonight, and who wouldn’t want to watch that?

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Trail Blazers 95, Celtics 99: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

To spread awareness on World AIDS Day, the NBA and NBA Cares program has provided each team with red and white warm-up jerseys and brand new red shoes, for the players of every team to wear during their games today. The warm-up jerseys are red with white sleeves and showcase a large ribbon on the back to signify the tribute.

The Celtics showed up to the TD Garden today and found fresh red kicks in their lockers, to many of their surprise. Nate Robinson, in particular, was caught off guard and wished he had known sooner so he could have worn some extra red as a tribute. As it stands, though, he and his teammates have the opportunity to wear the red shoes as a tribute during tonight's game. Each player's shoes were made by their official footwear provider.

During that game, Boston will be taking on a Portland team that has not been able to finish games of late. They've played competitively for the majority of the four consecutive games they've lost, but haven't been able to finish teams off in the fourth quarter. Still, though, they have plenty of ammo to stick with the Celtics tonight, and that was indicated on Boston's grease board in the locker room.

Numerous defensive notes mentioned three separate Trail Blazers: Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Andre Miller. The notes, which were written by Lawrence Frank, instructed players to poke at the ball when Aldridge has it, and to be aware of pick-and-rolls run by Roy and Aldridge. In that pick-and-roll situation, Boston's coaching staff wants its bigs to show hard specifically when Aldridge is setting the picks.

Those types of notes have become a regularity on the board before games over the past couple of weeks, and they seem to be playing a role in the C's stepping up their defense. Boston has been playing shutdown defense against nearly every opponent, and the hope is that they'll be able to continue that type of play tonight.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 106, Cavaliers 87: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Delonte West Has Successful Surgery

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics announced today that guard Delonte West underwent successful surgery to repair a displaced right wrist fracture this morning at the New England Baptist Hospital. The surgery was performed by Dr. Drew Terrono and Dr. Hervey Kimball and assisted by Celtics Team Physician Dr. Brian McKeon. No timetable has been set for his return.

West had appeared in five games for the Celtics this season and was averaging 6.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.0 steals at the time of the injury. He made his season debut for the Celtics against Washington on Nov. 17 and netted 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.

- Marc D'Amico

Bradley, Wafer Benefit From Shorthanded Practice

WALTHAM –It’s a good thing the Boston Celtics didn’t have a game scheduled for noon today, because only 11 players would have suited up for it if they did.

We all know about the well-chronicled injury situation the C’s are currently dealing with, as Delonte West (broken wrist), Jermaine O’Neal (sore knee) and Kendrick Perkins (knee rehab) are all out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, but an extra kink was thrown into the mix this afternoon when Shaquille O’Neal was also not present for practice.

O’Neal was absent from the practice facility this afternoon because he mixed up the time of practice, according to Doc Rivers. Boston’s starting center did, however, know that the team was flying out of the Boston area at 3 p.m. for its trip to Cleveland for Tuesday night’s game, so there were no worries that he would miss the flight.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Raptors 101, Celtics 110: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Don't hold your breath, folks, but you might be seeing Rajon Rondo make his return to the lineup tonight against the Toronto Raptors.

Doc Rivers discussed Rondo's status during his pregame media session and broke the news that he's leaning toward starting Rondo, who is returning from a strained left hamstring. He did, however, reserve the right to change his mind before tip off.

"He'll probably play," Rivers said, "but I can always change my mind. I don't want to mislead you."

The way he spoke made me believe that Rondo will be on the court tonight. Although he continually stated that he had not made the decision of playing Rondo or not, he also continually made statements that basically said No. 9 will be out there tonight.

His return couldn't come at a better time, as the Celtics will play their first full game since Delonte West went down with a broken right wrist Wednesday night. With West out of the lineup and Semih Erden giving the C's an underwhelming performance, Rivers had to go to a lineup in which Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels were at the one, two and three positions, and Luke Harangody actually saw some time at center. Those aren't things the Celtics practice, and Rivers said as much tonight.

With Rondo likely in tow for tip off, Boston will have an opportunity to avenge its stunning loss to the Raptors Sunday with a much more normal lineup. The C's blew a three-point lead over the final 21.3 seconds of that contest and watched Toronto make the plays that they normally make down the stretch. The Celtics played great basketball in stretches of that game, but as Ray Allen said in pregame, stretches of great ball simply isn't good enough, because as he put it, "Teams aren't going to quit."

"Let them know this is going to be hard for 48," was written on the Celtics' grease board in the locker room. That's exactly what Allen was alluding to, and we're just minutes away from seeing if Boston can make that happen on the court.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Nets 83, Celtics 89: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

The news everyone wants to hear is that Rajon Rondo is back in the lineup for the Boston Celtics. Don’t worry, folks, you’ll hear that news, but it won’t be tonight.

Doc Rivers said during tonight’s pregame media session that Rondo attempted to walk – literally – through the team’s shootaround today and didn’t feel too great. Rivers intimated that Rondo will be out for Friday’s matchup with the Raptors as well, simply because of the fact that the team has some extended rest on the horizon after that game.

"I didn’t look at it until now with one game, today’s game, and then we have Friday and three days off," Rivers said of his initial plan for bringing Rondo back. "Now I can tell you I am absolutely looking at that as if he’s a no (for Friday’s game)."

Nate Robinson has filled in admirably during Rondo’s absence and, as Rivers noted, the team’s "offensive numbers haven’t changed." In Robinson’s first start, against the Raptors on Sunday, he scored a season-high 22 points, then he notched a season-high 10 assists against the Hawks on Monday. The hope is that he’ll continue that type of production and allow the C’s to operate in a similar fashion to what they do when Rondo is on the floor.

It’s not going to be easy for Robinson to light it up tonight because he’ll be facing off with a former All-Star in Devin Harris. Harris and Brook Lopez have become a fantastic young duo that the Nets are excited to build around. New Jersey remodeled its roster this summer and brought in a ton of shooting, mostly in the form of Anthony Morrow, Travis Outlaw and Jordan Farmar. Those three players, who rank third, fourth and fifth on the team in scoring, respectively, give the Nets a whole new look offensively.

"The shooting, everybody wants. If you have a big, you have to have shooting. They have shooting. Morrow might be the best shooter in the league – don’t tell Ray (Allen) I said that – he’s the second-best shooter in the league. So that’s why Brook (Lopez)’s having a heck of a run. But it’s due to that."

Boston lost to the old-look Nets – the group that challenged the league’s lowest all-time win total last season – in the Garden a season ago, and they’ll be looking to avoid the same fate tonight against a much more potent New Jersey roster.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 99, Hawks 76: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 101, Raptors 102: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Thunder 89, Celtics 84: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Center Position Showing Strength Despite Injuries

WALTHAM - The Boston Celtics were back on the practice court today, just 14 hours after their drumming of the Washington Wizards, to prep for their second showdown against the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 12-day span. The C’s knocked off the Thunder 92-83 on Nov. 7 in Oklahoma City and they will meet again tomorrow night in the TD Garden.

Although that big game looms just a day away, most of the talk at practice concerned last night’s dominating performance in the Garden. Washington didn’t stand a chance while Boston was clicking on all cylinders, and it all started with Shaquille O’Neal.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Wizards 83, Celtics 114: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

The Celtics will be at near full strength tonight, with only Jermaine O’Neal missing tonight’s tilt with the Washington Wizards. That’s good news for Boston, as they prepared the last two days to play without Marquis Daniels as well.

Daniels missed the last two days of practice as he tended to a family issue, and despite the fact that he’ll be in the lineup tonight those missed sessions could have residual effects. First off, Daniels was unable to get two practices in with one of his fellow reserves, Delonte West, who will be participating in his first game of the season tonight. Secondly, Daniels came to the arena straight from the airport and as we all know, it’s never easy to perform when your mind is wandering elsewhere.

Boston knows it has a true professional on its hands in Daniels, and that’s exactly why he’s here tonight, so we’ll wait and see if tonight’s game will be his release from the real world. As Doc Rivers noted just minutes ago, "Sometimes life gets involved and there’s nothing you can do about it."

Life didn’t get in the way of Kevin Garnett last season, but a recovering knee certainly did. KG was completely exposed in a late-season matchup against the Wizards last season when Andray Blatche went off for 31 points and 11 rebounds against him. Blatche blew by KG on numerous plays and simply outplayed him for nearly the entire game. This time around, though, Blatche is going to see a different player wearing that white No. 5 jersey. Garnett is healthy and performing at a level we haven’t seen out of him during his tenure with the Celtics. His 10.4 RPG average through 10 games is just 0.4 below his career average and is 1.2 RPG above his highest average as a Celtic, which came in 2007-08.

I asked Rivers during pregame if that performance by Blatche might be lingering in the back of Garnett’s head heading into this game, and he responded with the following:

"I’m sure everything sits in that head of his. I’m sure that’s just a clutter, of one other thing. Someone asked me the other day if Shaq’s personality is helpful with Kevin’s so he won’t be as intense and I said, ‘That human being has never been invented.’ He’s just an intense human being. He sometimes manufactures things to get upset at so he can get upset at a player or something, or the other team. It’s a good quality, really. So I’m sure that – he’s competitive."

In other words: expect KG to be fired up for this one.

The Wizards will be playing tonight’s game without their No. 1 overall pick, John Wall, as he continues to rest a sprained foot. This is the second game he will miss in a row, which means for the second contest in a row Washington will rely on Gilbert Arenas to be their playmaker.

- Marc D'Amico

Daniels May Miss Wednesday's Game

WALTHAM, Mass. – Paul Pierce may have said it best when he chirped the following sentence after Tuesday’s practice in Waltham, Mass.: "I feel like every time we get a new piece, another one goes down."

Such is the early-season story of the Boston Celtics.

Through the first ten games of the season, those rotating pieces were, for the most part, Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal. They have played in only two games together and that number won’t change for the foreseeable future, as Doc Rivers told the media Monday afternoon that Jermaine O’Neal will likely miss at least two to three weeks due to a sore left knee.

News broke Tuesday, however, that another important piece may not be available for Wednesday night’s game against the Washington Wizards. Marquis Daniels has missed the past two days of practice for an undisclosed family issue. When asked if the Celtics would have their reserve small forward for Wednesday’s game, Doc Rivers simply replied, "Don’t know yet."

Usually that means no, but the possibility still remains that Daniels may be back in time for tomorrow’s game. If he isn’t, however, Rivers will need to use his creative juices yet again in terms of covering up for a missing player.

Rivers noted today that small forward is one position where he did not foresee any of these issues, with Paul Pierce and Daniels combining to be a reliable one-two punch. But with Daniels’ absence over the past two days, the Celtics have been forced to prepare for a game without him. That means the possibility, or even probability, of playing small in certain situations.

Delonte West, who will be making his season debut, is the likely candidate to pick up some minutes at small forward to spell Pierce. Rivers said that West playing the three isn’t exactly an ideal situation, but given the situation it might be a necessity. Boston will continue to hold out hope that Daniels will in fact be available for tomorrow’s game and that those plans won’t be put into action.

Outside of Jermaine O’Neal and Daniels, the other 13 Celtics are expected to be available for Rivers’ use Wednesday night.

- Marc D'Amico

With Suspension In the Past, West Puts In Work

BOSTON – Ten games may not feel like a whole lot to outsiders, but to Delonte West it was an eternity.

Three full weeks and more than 12 percent of the Boston Celtics’ regular season have passed by, but West has been only an innocent bystander for all of it. Due to a 10-game, league-mandated suspension that was handed down on him this summer, West’s role with the C’s had been reduced to that of a screaming fan watching their favorite team in HD. Literally.

"I found myself as a fan of the game, you know rooting for my guys, and cheering, and calling everyone to let them know, ‘The game is on, we’ve gotta watch the Celtics,’ " West said Monday afternoon, joking that his neighbors banged on his wall because that cheering was so loud while he watched Boston’s first 10 games from home. "It’s great. It’s even better after I see those guys on TV, I sit and think to myself, you know, I’m a part of that."

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 116, Grizzlies 110 (OT): Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 112, Heat 107: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 87, Mavericks 89: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 92, Thunder 83: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Bulls 105, Celtics 110 (OT): Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

There may not be a seat open on Boston’s bench for any players, as the team currently has the maximum 15 players on its roster, but there’s a seat open for one member of the Chicago Bulls any time he wants to fill it.

The talk of the town today has been centered around the return of Tom Thibodeau and Brian Scalabrine to the TD Garden as members of the Bulls. Thibodeau switched from green to red this summer in order to take the first head coaching position of his career. Shockingly, though, he’s not the one Doc Rivers told reporters will have a seat open on his bench whenever he wants it. Instead, it was Scalabrine.

Scalabrine became a fan favorite in Boston during his time spent with the Celtics because of his open personality and never-ending hustle. He played hard, practiced hard and worked to get to know the people of Boston even harder. That is something that will catch everyone’s attention.

And it certainly caught Rivers’. He said during pregame that Scalabrine is a natural leader and will one day find his way into the coaching profession. Scalabrine, though, flatly said that he won’t because the time commitment of such a job would take him away from his wife and kids.

Rivers acknowledged that whenever a coaching future came up during a conversation with Scal, the big man’s reservations were always with that exact topic. But when I asked Doc if he had any advice as to dealing with the possible time away from family – seeing as that’s the reason Rivers almost didn’t return to coach the Celtics this season – he said that he doesn’t have any, because it won’t hold Scal back when the opportunity arises.

"He’ll coach," were Rivers’ final words before he stepped back to the locker room. And if Doc’s words were any indication, Scal will be coaching on Rivers’ staff.

In other news, this game is going to be a showdown between two of the elite point guards in the NBA, both of whom made their first All-Star appearance last season. Despite the electric game Derrick Rose brings to the table, Rajon Rondo has been filling all of the headlines this season when it comes to point guards. That has been the case because of his assist totals, but as Tom Thibodeau noted during pregame, defense is where Rondo has the step up on Rose right now.

"The big thing is on the ball pressure, and I think challenging shots, and I’d like him to rebound better," Thibodeau said, touching on three areas Rondo has already mastered as a point guard.

As far as Rondo, he had some nice words to say about his progression as well.

"Rajon is very good at reading plays, reading what’s being called, and I think he’s fulfilled all of his team responsibilities," he said. "Each year he’s gotten better and better."

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Bucks 102, Celtics 105 (OT): Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 109, Pistons 86: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Shaq's Injury Could Spark Jermaine O'Neal

WALTHAM, Mass. - In the case of Boston’s O’Neal brothers, as Doc Rivers likes to call them, one man’s loss is another man’s gain.

Shaquille O’Neal, who has started all three games for Boston this season, will likely miss Tuesday night’s game in Detroit with a bruised knee that was suffered during a collision with Amar’e Stoudemire Friday night. That means the man who sports the same names as Shaq on the front and back of his jersey – Jermaine O’Neal – will get an opportunity to return to the lineup as a starter against the Pistons.

The two O’Neals were the biggest offseason acquisitions for the Celtics, but they’ve both experienced numerous injuries early on in the season. Jermaine O’Neal, in particular, has dealt with nagging injuries for the past few weeks, a situation he claims to be going through for the first time in his career.

Read More

Game Links

Knicks 101, Celtics 105: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

It’s Friday night and the Knicks are in town. For the past five years, that hasn’t mattered much, but this New York team might be a bit different, much ado to the presence of Amar’e Stoudemire.

The Knicks had planned for nearly three years for the summer of 2010 by stacking up contracts that would end at the conclusion of last season. As a result, they’ve got almost a brand new team – six of their nine players who participated in the team’s first game of the season are first-year Knicks. Not many of those new players possess much size, but Doc Rivers acknowledged that there are two things New York does now possess: athleticism and a "closer."

With Mike D’Antoni at the helm, everyone knows that New York will play at a fast pace and rack up 3-point attempts with the best of them. Those jumpers, as Rivers noted during pregame, tend to lead to long rebounds and that’s how the Knicks are able to rack up second chance points. He said that on a night like tonight, his guards need to have that are the forefront of their minds and take away the rebounding angles New York’s perimeter players usually tend to find.

The Knicks upgraded most of their roster, but the key cog is now Stoudemire, and he’s the man Rivers titled a "closer." Boston’s coach said that New York has missed that type of a player over the past few years and that’s why they’ve lost a bunch of close games. Stoudemire, however, could change that, and he’s the biggest reason why Rivers and his coaching staff know that tonight’s game might not be the walk-through the C’s have experienced against New York for most of the past three seasons.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 87, Cavaliers 95: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Heat 80, Celtics 88: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Only two players made it to their locker room during pregame media availability, and their names were Marquis Daniels and Luke Harangody. With that being said, there wasn’t much coming from Boston’s locker room in terms of news and notes.

Outside the locker room, however, there were plenty of nuggets being thrown out, most notably from Doc Rivers. Rivers released plenty of information to the media that none of us had been privy to to this point. First and foremost comes the news that of Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal and Glen Davis, Rivers said matter of factly that Davis will garner the most minutes of the trio tonight.

While he may get more minutes than either O’Neal, Shaq will be the starting center tonight. With that comes the challenge for Boston of slowing down Miami’s pick-and-roll despite the Big Shamrock’s well-known struggles to defend such a play. That play has been, and will be, Boston’s biggest concern tonight. Rivers told reporters that he has decided to put the onus on his guards and forwards to successfully fight through the picks, because he simply doesn’t believe Shaq can give a hard "show" and rebound in time to stop the play.

Outside of that specific issue, though, Rivers loves his team’s advantage in the frontcourt – as long as his big men can stay in the paint. Rivers said that if those players can’t get back in transition, or if they’re lured out of the lane, the C’s will be in big trouble.

Keeping those players in the paint will be highly dependent on two things.

First, the Celtics must score efficiently. Shooting a high percentage from the floor will allow their big men to get back to the other end of the court and prevent fast break buckets by the Heat.

Second, which will help with the exact same issue, is that Boston needs to take care of the ball. Turnovers plagued the C’s all season long last year, and Rivers said tonight that he was "not happy" with the team’s ability to change that characteristic during the preseason.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are two of the most dangerous players in the NBA in the open court, and if the C’s can’t take care of those two areas, we might be seeing those two players scoring with ease at a much higher frequency than any Boston fan would like.

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Continue Preparation for Oopening Night

WALTHAM, Mass. - A quick, hour-long practice session that includes no contact and a whole lot of guessing doesn’t sound like a script the Boston Celtics would follow, but that’s exactly what took place on Sunday morning in Waltham, Mass.

Rather than give the Celtics a full day off, Doc Rivers opted to gather his troops and put them through a simple session to help prepare for Opening Night and beyond. And believe it or not, a few injuries that occurred in the preseason for both Boston and Miami have thrown a kink into that preparation plan.

Although they finished 7-1 in exhibition play, the Celtics dealt with numerous nicks and knacks, most notably to Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal. Down in Miami, the Heat went through its entire preseason without Dwyane Wade and reportedly just lost Mike Miller until January.

The two O’Neals and Wade are healthy and back to practice, but the time they missed in the preseason is hampering Boston’s progress. Shaq and Jermaine’s missed time, combined with the fact that they’re learning an entirely new system, has put them in a tough situation heading into the regular season. Rivers admits that neither player is where he would like them to be in terms of knowing the team’s schemes, and that’s exactly why he put the team through a practice like today’s. They Celtics may not have been playing full-tilt on the court this morning, but the practice session gave players like the O’Neals another opportunity to learn prior to Tuesday night’s tip off.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Look for Shaq to Start in Opener

Waltham, MA - To close out another long practice in Waltham on Saturday, Shaquille O'Neal joined the green team in a five-on-five scrimmage that featured referees and teammates drawing up plays. While Rajon Rondo seemed to take control of the green huddle during the session, Kendrick Perkins could be seen on the sideline drawing up plays for the white team (reserves).

When he addressed the media after the session closed, Head Coach Doc Rivers told reporters that the session was "phenomenal" and as of now, Shaquille O'Neal was his starting center. Rivers said both Shaquille and Jermaine O'Neal have been battling hard to get the starting spot, but with Jermaine having missed so much of the preseason due to injury (he played in only four of the Celtics' eight exhibition tilts), Shaq will likely be the man in the middle on opening night.

As for the Celtics' former starting center, Perkins talked at length about trying to stay involved despite not being able to play. Perkins continues to be upbeat about his status and even said that he felt like could probably get out there and run a couple of drills, but doctor's orders have him confined to the sidelines for the meantime.

The Celtics will return to practice Sunday morning for a brief session as they continue to tune up for their season opener. In case you haven't heard, they'll host LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat at the TD Garden this Tuesday, October 26.

- Peter Stringer

Host of Celtics Return to Practice

WALTHAM, Mass. - Doc Rivers must have been yearning to coach his players over the past five days, because everything he bottled up during that time frame was released on them this afternoon.

Rivers, who underwent a throat biopsy Sunday morning and has been unable to fully coach the team since, returned to the court today with no voice limitations... and he was on the court for a long time. The C's ran through a practice that extended longer than most NBA games do in total time; the session began at 11 a.m. and wrapped up at 1:45 p.m. sharp, which is a full 15 minutes longer than the typical broadcast time of an NBA game.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Nets 92, Celtics 107: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Tonight’s pregame media availability resembled that of a regular season, aside from the fact that three players who do not have lockers were sprawled out in chairs in the middle of the room, and that Kevin Garnett actually showed face – twice, and that Ray Allen chatted with the media while leaning back in his chair at his locker, and that… well, OK, it didn’t resemble a regular season pregame at all. But there’s a reason for that – we’re still in preseason, at least for tonight.

The C’s are hosting the Nets in both teams’ final exhibition game of the season, and both teams certainly want the games that mean something to arrive. But this one doesn’t affect the regular season standings, and that’s why the following news isn’t much of an issue for Boston.

Doc Rivers will not be on the sideline tonight coaching the team. He is in the building, and plans on addressing the team before the game and possibly at halftime, but doctors still do not want him yelling on the court. He told Celtics.com that he plans to return at 100 percent on Friday. In his absence, Lawrence Frank will run the show.

Another interesting tidbit came from Allen in the locker room while he leaned back in his chair, decorated with a large Celtics logo on the back piece, in front of his locker. Allen chatted with the media about a few different topics and one of them inspired him to tell a story that seems to stand out in his mind.

Allen began to speak about how even his role changes each and every season depending on the other personnel on the team. This year, for example, he believes his role will change because the team has Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal to pound the ball into the with. He mentioned that it’s unique for players to accept those changes, especially as proven vets, and that he, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have done a fantastic job of being willing to do so.

Two years ago, when in Newport, R.I., for training camp, Allen realized how fans on the outside aren’t always conscious of the sacrifices these guys have made, and in turn think they have lost a step. That’s not the case, from his point of view.

While the team was out one night in Providence, celebrating the close of camp, a woman walked up to Allen and told him, "I liked you better in Seattle." Allen laughed as he told the story, clearly not taking the statement to heart, and essentially said that his game changed not because of age, but because he was willing to make adjustments for the betterment of the team.

- Marc D'Amico

Frank Runs Practice in Rivers' Absence

News broke at today’s practice that Doc Rivers underwent minor throat surgery Sunday morning at Massachusetts General Hospital and, if he was a player, would be listed as day-to-day on the injury list. In his absence, first-year Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank took the lead role as the team held its first full practice in a week.

Rivers’ surgery, according to Frank, was a planned procedure and is nothing serious. He is not attending practices at the moment because, as Frank said with a smile, doctors "just want him to rest his voice box – obviously he’ll be using it quite a bunch."

Even without Rivers in the building, it sounded as if Boston still got its work done today. Frank told reporters that Rivers still put together the practice plan and that the assistants as a whole simply put it into action. Rivers could return to coaching the team as early as Tuesday, for the team’s corporate sponsors open practice, but it’s also possible that he may not return for a few days.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Knicks 84, Celtics 97: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 117, Raptors 112: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

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

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 92, 76ers 103: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Raptors 87, Celtics 91: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

The big news out of tonight’s pregame media availability is that for the first time of this preseason, we’re going to see Jermaine O’Neal on the court. We’ll have to wait a few minutes, though, because Shaquille O’Neal will be Boston’s starting center.

Jermaine O’Neal is coming back from a left hamstring strain and Doc Rivers said that he will be on a minutes restriction tonight, with more extended minutes possibly coming in the next two games.

Another Celtic who is nursing an injury, Avery Bradley, has essentially been cleared for play but Rivers is keeping him out of the lineup tonight. With both Jermaine and Bradley, Rivers wants to be as cautious as possible in allowing them to fully return. Bradley participated in practice yesterday but Rivers didn’t see enough out of him to feel comfortable enough to toss him into the lineup tonight.

Keep your eyes out for a unique lineup that the C’s might test out tonight – Delonte West, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis and Kevin Garnett. With all five players possessing very good shooting abilities, Rivers thinks that lineup can be nearly indefensible since the opposing team won’t be able to help off of any of the five Celtics. It sounded as if Rivers is enamored with that lineup and will try it out tonight.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

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

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

76ers 65, Celtics 93: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Scrimmage Goes Down to Wire on Preseason Eve

WALTHAM, Mass. – One day prior to their first tune-up game against another team, the Boston Celtics closed out Tuesday’s practice with a relatively lengthy scrimmage that came down to the wire.

With Jermaine O’Neal still resting his sore left hamstring, Shaquille O’Neal again ran with the starters, and they were lucky to have him on their side.

Semih Erden and Marquis Daniels scored back-to-back layups in less than 17 seconds to put the second unit ahead 18-17 with just 21.1 seconds left on the clock. The first team, being led by assistant coach Armond Hill, called timeout and drew up a play. Out of the timeout, it took only one second for Shaq to draw a foul, and he went to the line for a pair of crucial free throws.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Practice Makes Perfect for Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. – The old adage is that practice makes perfect. With the 2010-11 Boston Celtics roster, that may be the most accurate of axioms.

Boston’s practices have been intense and filled with competitive juices, so much that captain Paul Pierce had to stop for a moment and wonder if his team would benefit more from practice than actual preseason exhibition games.

"It’s crazy, because the way camp’s been going, we think it’s been going pretty good, if not great," Pierce said. "I think we’re enjoying playing against each other. I think we’re getting a lot out of playing against each other, truthfully. It feels like we’re in a game every day."

Read More

Injury Updates: Doc Rivers stated today that Jermaine O'Neal (hamstring) will likely be held out of practice for the remainder of the week, while Delonte West (back spasms) is essentially day-to-day, and could return to the court as early as Tuesday.

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Waive Gaffney

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics announced today that they have waived forward Tony Gaffney from their training camp roster. The training camp roster now stands at 17.

The team is scheduled to resume practice this morning at 11 a.m. in Waltham, Mass.

- Marc D'Amico

Camp Closes on High Note in Newport

NEWPORT, R.I. – Phase One of the Boston Celtics’ pursuit of Banner 18 is in the books. The C’s wrapped up Training Camp Saturday afternoon in Newport and will now move on to Phase Two – preseason games and practices.

Although the camp was five days long, in a secluded city 75 miles away from their family and friends, many of the players and coaches were overheard saying that camp had flown and that they couldn’t believe it was already over. That’s never a bad thing, because time flies when you’re having fun, right?

It’s easy to have fun when you’ve got a team like the Celtics, whose core has now been through four training camps together and whose newcomers are nearly all veterans themselves. These guys know the ropes.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Battle Fatigue as Close of Camp Nears

NEWPORT, R.I. - Wednesday is often referred to as "hump day" for the regular 9-5, every day worker. It’s the day they just need to get through to see the light at the end of the tunnel -- the weekend. Naturally, things are a bit different for the Boston Celtics. Friday served as their hump day at Training Camp, and the light at the end isn't exactly right around the corner.

With the Celtics making a run to Game 7 of the NBA Finals last season, the team was essentially forced to limit their offseason workout routines due to a shortened summer. That doesn’t mean for one second that any of the current C’s came into Training Camp out of shape, but they’re certainly not in game shape, and they’re more than willing to admit that.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Perfect Storm Brewing in Newport

NEWPORT, R.I. - It was a cloudy and muggy afternoon in Newport, one that would lead you to believe some form of storm was on its way. But no matter how dreary the weather may have been outside, the Boston Celtics are more concerned with keeping tabs on the climate inside the Rodgers Recreation Center at Salve Regina University.

With three days of training camp now in the books, the Celtics have a firm grasp of the atmosphere that will accompany the team onto the court nearly every day for the next seven to nine months. The early feedback is that it’s packing some serious competition, but no matter how testy it may get, the C’s won’t allow their emotions to swirl out of control.

"The personnel that we have are... it’s a loose environment around here, until we hit the floor, and that’s when all hell breaks loose," Kevin Garnett said after Thursday’s practice. "We’re very competitive, and what I love about Doc is that he doesn’t mind us being competitive as long as that we don’t go off on our own and practice doesn’t become a tropical storm."

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

West Working Hard on Road to Redemption

NEWPORT, RI - After everyone else had wrapped up their -practice interviews and taken the bus back to the team hotel on Wednesday, Delonte West worked with the Celtics coaching staff on his pull-up jumpers, three-pointers and then ran a few sprints.

Soaked in sweat from his 30-minute plus extra workout, a contrite West met with about a half-dozen reporters who waited for him to finish his drills. Despite being asked a straight basketball question, West wasted no time in addressing his offseason, off-the-court issues and expressing his gratitude for his second chance with the Celtics at training camp in Newport, RI. Offseason legal woes will cost West the first 10 games of the season due to a league-imposed suspension.

"I'm just happy to be given this opportunity to do what I love," West said. "I'm lucky to be here, happy to be here. Put me out there.... I'm playing every game, every minute this year like my life depends on it, because it does...my career, nothing's promised."

Read More

- Peter Stringer

Defense Dominates Day 2 of Camp

NEWPORT, R.I. – After looking to install some offense on Day 1, the Celtics were hard at work installing air conditioning (it was markedly cooler in the gym Wednesday than it was Tuesday), body conditioning, and of course, defense, on Day 2.

Just as the media entered the gym, Doc Rivers ran his team through a quick three-man layup drill, in which the groups had to advance the ball up the floor without dribbling and convert a layup on each end, and accomplish it all within a nine-second time limit.

But the emphasis early in camp is going to be on defense, as Rivers says he wants to re-establish the Celtics as the best defensive team in the league. Right now, he estimated that he’s spending 75 percent of the time on defense and just 25 percent on offense.

Read More

- Peter Stringer

C's Dialed in as Camp Opens in Newport

NEWPORT, RI -- With fans running at full blast in all four corners of the gym at Salve Regina University, Doc Rivers ran his troops at full-tilt for nearly three hours on Tuesday afternoon to tip off Training Camp in Newport, RI.

And while the original plan called for an evening walk-through later tonight, the Celtics will instead return to the gym Wednesday morning where they'll continue to work on integrating two of their biggest acquisitions, Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal, into their schemes on the offensive and defensive end.

Read More

- Peter Stringer

Ubuntu Returns to Waltham on Media Day

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Sometimes there are things in life that you just can't believe until you see them in person. Such is the 2010-11 Boston Celtics team.

Fifty-one All-Star appearances? Impossible. Life-size personalities in every corner of the locker room? Too much to handle. Four premier offseason signings, three of which will likely be reserves? That can't work.

This team can't really exist, can it?

Yet there it all was, live in the flesh, Monday afternoon in Waltham, Mass., as this season's Celtics squad came out of the locker room one-by-one for their two hours of media access heaven.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics highlighted by 2010-11 NBA schedule

If you're trying to get a lead on which NBA teams will be racking up wins and contending for the championship trophy this season, take a peek at the schedule. Talk radio, newspapers and sports websites will give you their opinion, but the schedule never lies.

That schedule reveals clues that the Boston Celtics are yet again expected to be a title contender for the fourth consecutive season. It's also a clear indicator that this roster will be a traveling circus that everyone -- even Laker fans -- will want to see.

After a 2009-10 season that was branded as "Reloaded" and saw the team reach the NBA Finals for the second time in three seasons, Boston went to work again this offseason and sculpted another behemoth of a team. With the likes of Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal jumping on the Celtics' train, in addition to some other well-crafted moves, the Celtics have deepened their roster and are poised to make another push for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

West returns to C's after three seasons away

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed free agent guard Delonte West. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
West, a 6-foot-3 guard, has posted career averages of 10.0 points, 3.7 assists and has shot 37.3 percent from beyond the arc. Originally drafted by the Celtics with the 24th pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, West posted a career-high 12.2 points during his last season with the Celtics in 2006-07. The former St. Joseph's (PA) Hawk shot a career-high 39.9 percent from 3-point distance during the 2008-09 season when he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

- Marc D'Amico

Summer recap: One more run... again

One tick of a clock sounds exceedingly mundane, but that tick can mean so much to so many. The final tick at Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals can describe such a moment, as this wasn't just the end of a game -- it was a tick of epic proportions.

For the franchise that landed on the short end of the stick, it marked a morph from championship contention to self-preservation. That's what happens when a team built for one last run nosedives into an offseason where nine of its players -- including two of its "Big Three" -- were either days away from free agency or teetering on the brink of retirement; when the head coach mulls over staying on board for another season or walking away to spend more time with his family; and when the assistant coach who was the architect of the team's tenacious defense accepts the head coaching job with a conference foe.

That's exactly what happened to the Boston Celtics.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics release 2010-11 schedule

BOSTON -- The 2010-11 NBA schedule was released to the public today, with the Boston Celtics beginning their new season in a highly anticipated matchup vs. the Miami Heat on Tuesday, Oct. 26 at the TD Garden. The Celtics will face the Los Angeles Lakers in a 2010 Finals rematch at the TD Garden on Thursday, Feb. 10 and will play their second consecutive Christmas Day game in Orlando on Dec. 25. Other highlights of the schedule include Miami's second trip to Boston on Sunday, Feb. 13 and the Celtics will welcome the Orlando Magic to town on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Jan. 17 as well as on Sunday, Feb. 6. The Celtics will also host the New Orleans Hornets in a New Year's Eve Day matchup on Dec. 31.

Full Release

Celtics sign Luke Harangody

BOSTON, MA - The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed 2010 Second Round draft pick Luke Harangody. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Harangody, a 6'8" forward, was recently named to the 2010 AirTran Airways All-Summer League First Team after averaging 16.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in five contests. He also shot 50.0% from beyond the arc in the five games. Harangody, who was drafted with the 52nd pick in the Second Round of the 2010 NBA Draft, had a storied career at Notre Dame. He was named First Team All-Big East his final three seasons and finished as the third all-time leading scorer in Big East history with 1,329 and second leading rebounder with 662 rebounds. His senior year he led the Irish with 21.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game and recorded 21 games with 20-or-more points.

Celtics waive Rasheed Wallace

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics announced today that they have waived forward/center Rasheed Wallace after coming to a mutual agreement following which Wallace plans to retire.

"We would like to thank Rasheed for everything that he did for this team and organization last season," said Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations. "We would like to wish Rasheed and his family the best as they move on into the next phase of their lives. He will always be a member of the Celtics family."

Full Release

- Marc D'Amico

Ainge adds Shaq as Celtics stack to chase Banner 18

Some guys are large. And some guys are larger than life.

File Shaquille O'Neal, the Celtics' latest free agent signing, into the latter category.

O'Neal and the Celtics came to terms on a deal to bring the 15-time All-Star to Boston on Wednesday, and while O'Neal's role with the team in terms of basketball on the floor may not be that large, his presence in the city of Boston can't be overstated.

Read More

Press Release

BOSTON, MA - The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed free agent center Shaquille O'Neal. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"It is not every day that you can add a player of Shaquille's caliber to your team," said Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations. "His past experience speaks for itself and we believe that he is a great fit for our roster."

Full Release

- Peter Stringer

Wafer returns to NBA with Boston

BOSTON, MA - The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed guard Von Wafer. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Wafer, a 6'5" guard, has posted NBA career averages of 6.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per game. Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 39th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, Wafer posted his best statistical season when he was with Houston for the 2008-09 campaign. He posted career-highs with 9.7 points and 1.8 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game. He also shot a career-high 39.0% from three-point land. Wafer made 11 starts for the Rockets during that season and he averaged 16.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists in those contests.

- Marc D'Amico

Daniels eyes healthy 2009-10 season

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have re-signed guard/forward Marquis Daniels. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Daniels, a 6-foot-6 guard/forward, appeared in 51 games for the Celtics last season averaging 5.6 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 18.4 minutes per game. The former Auburn Tiger also shot a career-best 49.8 percent from the field. Daniels netted a season-high with 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the floor against New Jersey on Feb. 27.

Full Release

- Marc D'Amico

Patience, faith lead Robinson to "secure" state

BOSTON -- Nate Robinson has spent the majority of the the past two years living in the world of uncertainty, at least in a basketball sense. Times got tough -- tough enough to conquer most -- but Robinson didn't crumble, because he isn't like everyone else.

After all, how many three-time NBA Slam Dunk champions do you know of? Just one, and it's him. How often does a two-sport collegiate star turn to the NBA for a career and experience the success Robinson has since he left the Washington Huskies? Maybe once a decade? And how often do 5-foot-9 guards find a permanent niche in the world's top basketball league? Almost never.

Robinson has been able to do all of those things that few or none have before, and battling through the last two years of his basketball life with a positive mindset is just the latest of his rare accomplishments.

Read more

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics continue to sculpt bench, re-sign Robinson

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics announced today that they have re-signed guard Nate Robinson. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"It is great to have Nate back and we think that he can contribute more significantly this upcoming season after a full training camp with the team," said Celtics President of Basketball Operations, Danny Ainge. "He helped us win some crucial playoff games this past postseason and we believe that we will see great things from him this coming season."

Full Release

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics announce re-signing of captain Paul Pierce

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics announced today that they have re-signed team captain and forward Paul Pierce. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Paul has been a cornerstone of our franchise for the last decade and we could not be more pleased that he is returning to the team," said Celtics President of Basketball Operations, Danny Ainge.

Pierce, a 6-foot-7 forward, is the Celtics third leading scorer in franchise history with 19,899 points trailing only Larry Bird and John Havlicek. The 2008 NBA Finals MVP averaged 18.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game in making his eighth All-Star team. The four-time All-NBA selection is the team's all-time leader in free throws attempted and made; three-pointers attempted and made steals and is second all-time in points per game (22.5 ppg).

Full Release

- Marc D'Amico

Rondo and pursuit of title lure O'Neal to Boston

BOSTON -- When you think of Rajon Rondo, you usually think of assists -- the tangible kind, as in the Celtics' franchise record 794 of them that he dished out during the 2009-10 regular season. As of 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon in Waltham, MA, he had racked up another assist for the Celtics franchise that may be a key ingredient to the team making another championship run next season.

Jermaine O'Neal, one of the most coveted big men on the free agent market this offseason behind the big names like Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer and Amar'e Stoudemire, officially became a Celtic today, and he surpsingly noted that a chat with the point guard is what sealed the deal for his arrival in Boston.

"Rondo actually was the guy who probably sold it the most," O'Neal said in his first appearance as a Celtic. "... He really helped me understand where my fit would be."

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics sign Jermaine O'NEal

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed center/forward Jermaine O'Neal. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Jermaine provides veteran leadership and experience," said Celtics President of Basketball Operations, Danny Ainge. "His talents are an excellent complement to our core roster."

O'Neal, a 6-foot-11 center/forward, has appeared in six all-star games and has been named to three All-NBA teams. The product of Eau Claire High School in Wisconsin has posted career averages of 14.2 points and 7.5 rebounds to go along with 1.9 blocks over his 14-year career with Portland, Indiana, Toronto and Miami. He posted a career-high field goal percentage of 52.9 percent last season with Miami.

"When the opportunity arose for me to join an organization like the Celtics, I could not refuse," said O'Neal. "I cannot wait to get to Boston and start to practice with the rest of the team in pursuit of a championship."

Celtics introduce Bradley, Harangody in Waltham

BOSTON -- It's not often that you can enjoy a red-eye flight. After all, they're named such for a reason.

But the Thursday night -- err, Friday morning -- jaunts through the sky that Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody took this week were different. They may have been taking place while we were all sleeping, but these two wanted to anything but.

Bradley and Harangody were selected by the Boston Celtics with the 19th and 52nd picks, respectively, of the 2010 NBA Draft Thursday night and flew out in the early a.m. to be introduced in Waltham, MA, Friday afternoon. As these two players flashed their freshly embroidered No. 0 (Bradley) and No. 55 (Harangody) jerseys, their smiles would have never left you guessing that they didn't sleep a lick last night.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics add Bradley, Harangody via Draft

If you wanted the Celtics to add some athleticism and toughness through the 2010 NBA Draft, Danny Ainge and Co. answered your wishes.

Boston chose a super athlete with its 19th overall pick in the draft in the form of Avery Bradley, a combo guard out of the University of Texas.

Bradley entered the NBA Draft after just one year at Texas, where he racked up 11.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG and 2.1 APG en route to numerous Big 12 All-league selections. The explosive guard stands at 6-foot-2, but he measured in with a wingspan better than 6-foot-7 at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.

Though Bradley finished as Texas' second-leading scorer this past season, that wingspan and athleticism has the Celtics far more enamored with his ability to contribute immediately on the defensive end.

But Bradley wasn't the only former collegiate player to be crowned the newest Celtic, as the C's also owned the rights to the 52nd pick in the Draft. As Ainge often does, he found a proven college star who slipped on other teams' boards. This year, that player is Luke Harangody, a 6-foot-8 forward out of Notre Dame.

As he has in the past with forwards such as Glen Davis and Leon Powe, Ainge chose a big man who plays with passion but also has a proven track record. Harangody is a former Big East Player of the Year who averaged 21.8 PPG and 9.1 RPG during his senior year with the Irish.

Game Links

Pistons 82, Celtics 86: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

We’re just over two weeks away from Kendrick Perkins’ return to the lineup – two weeks and two days, to be exact – but Perk won’t be the only Celtic who tests himself around Feb. 4.

Delonte West announced before tonight’s game that he is "two or three weeks" away from returning to full-scale practice, and from that point on it will be on Doc Rivers to determine his return to game action.

West recently learned that he has been cleared to resume full basketball activities that do not result in pain. In other words, he is now able to dribble with the right wrist and, when he can do it pain-free, catch passes with his off-hand.

"I’m not catching just yet," West said. "It’s still a little tender, but as far as dribbling, I’m just trying to do whatever I can with the right hand that I’m permitted to do."

He and the medical staff are comfortable enough at this point to allow West to live his day-to-day life without the restriction of a brace on his wrist. There is one time of the day, however, in which he does consistently wear the brace, though it’s purely a precaution.

"I still sleep with it now and again to make sure the wrist doesn’t go in any funky positions," said West.

The Celtics had a similar situation last season, when Marquis Daniels underwent surgery on his left thumb (also his off hand) and didn’t return to Boston’s lineup until the early portion of February. As we all know now, based on Daniels’ performance this season, he simply wasn’t comfortable as last season came to a close and he really didn’t play up to his capabilities. I asked Doc tonight if he’s worried about a similar situation occurring with West, and this is how he answered:

"I think Delonte is Delonte. He’s going to play the way he plays. He’s just – that’s how he plays. He’s been injured a lot in his career, so he’s pretty good at coming back from them."

If West doesn’t suffer any hangover from the injury, he will be an enormous boost to Boston’s bench. His return, if completed in mid-February, would give the Celtics about two months of the regular season schedule to catch their rhythm as a healthy squad before the playoffs arrive.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Magic 106, Celtics 109: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Tonight’s Game:

Everyone knows that the Orlando Magic take a ton of 3-pointers, but everyone also knows that this team is built around one man and one man only – Dwight Howard.

Howard is the cornerstone of the organization and, despite the team’s affinity for shooting the ball from long range, is the leading scorer for Orlando. The team may not run its offense through him on a continuous basis, but he is always a threat down low.

The combination of having one of the biggest bodies in the league and limitless athleticism has resulted in him becoming one of the most difficult players to defend in the NBA (despite the general thought that he has a limited repertoire of post moves). His ability to bang with defenders, while always possessing the ability to blow by them, leads to a high amount of fouls being whistled on the opponent on a nightly basis. The C’s frontcourt, which will consist of Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis and Semih Erden, will have to deal with such a quandary tonight.

With Jermaine O’Neal currently in New York City receiving a second opinion on his injured knee, according to Doc Rivers, Boston has only one experienced center on its active roster. That man is Erden, and the C’s clearly would love to avoid putting the rookie on Howard for extended periods of time tonight. To do so, Shaq will need to do his best to avoid foul trouble, but as Rivers noted in pregame, that’s easier said than done.

"Well, we’re going to get into foul trouble," Rivers said during pregame. "You just go into – when you go into a game against Orlando, you go into the game thinking you’re going to get into foul trouble and you pray you don’t. But you’re just ready for it. The bottom line is don’t try to do to much, just try to defend him. And if he makes shots over you, he makes shots over you."

Despite that comment, Boston has a nice long note written on its grease board regarding Howard tonight: "Nothing easy for Howard – no dunks, no spin-outs, no and-1s, no deep rolls for seals, no baseline rips." We’ll see over the course of two and a half hours if the C’s can follow those instructions while staying out of foul trouble.

Yesterday’s Practice:

As you may have heard by now, the Celtics went through their first full practice yesterday with their starting unit intact. With Garnett and Kendrick Perkins being reunited in the frontcourt for the first time since Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, Rivers believes the Celtics may have had their best practice of the season in one particular area.

"It was loud, and I mean that in a very complimentary way," Rivers said of Sunday’s practice. "It was the loudest practice we had all year because our two best talkers, Perk and Kevin, were on the floor barking out instructions. They were holding everyone accountable."

As a result, the starters made the reserves look like a high school basketball team. Rivers initially thought the bench players simply weren’t playing well during the practice, but upon further review he realized it wasn’t their fault.

Said Rivers, "I got upset at our second unit yesterday, and then when I watched the practice film I realized that there was not a lot they could do yesterday."

We’re only about three weeks from seeing that fantastic practice energy, communication and execution translate to in-game play. Perkins has set Feb. 4 as his return date, and when that day arrives, this team is likely to jump to a whole new level, just as it already has in practice.

- Marc D'Amico

Starting Five Reunited in Big Day in Waltham

WALTHAM, Mass. – Doc Rivers delivered his daily injury report at about 1:30 p.m. this afternoon in Waltham, Mass. With it came some bad news, but the good was undeniable.

For the first time this season, the Boston Celtics went through an entire practice with their regular starting unit intact. That means Kevin Garnett resumed full practice for the first time since straining a muscle in his lower right leg against the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 29, 2010. It also means that Kendrick Perkins, who is on the comeback trail from offseason knee surgery, participated in a full practice for the first time this season.

With those two reuniting in the frontcourt, Boston was able to rekindle the type of continuity that has send the team to the NBA Finals two out of the last three seasons. Although it was just the first day the group has played together since Game 7 of the Finals on June 17, 2010, Rivers couldn’t help himself from being excited about what he saw.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Bobcats 94, Celtics 99: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Some news is better than no news, and that’s about what we got on the Jermaine O’Neal front tonight.

While O’Neal and Doc Rivers both addressed the big man’s most recent setback, there weren’t a whole lot of definitive answers. However, we do know more than we did yesterday.

O’Neal underwent an MRI this week and the results have been reviewed by him and the team’s medical staff. The results were not shared with the media, but O’Neal revealed that he will seek a second opinion, with the team’s backing, on Monday. That opinion will determine the course of action he will take regarding the knee for the remainder of the season.

With that in mind, we know that there are two routes that he will be able to take. The first is surgery, which would give him a timetable of about "10 weeks" for a return. The second option, which both he and Rivers said they clearly would prefer if it’s physically possible, is to play the remainder of the season while dealing with the pain.

O’Neal and the team will make a final decision on their course of action early next week. Based on Rivers’ reaction, it sounds as if surgery would all but end O’Neal’s ability to contribute to the team this season.

"We don’t know this, obviously, but if the news comes back where surgery means, you know, two months more, that’s basically it," said Rivers. "Because two months – I think everyone thinks when we say two months that means you play in two months. No, that means you start working out in two months.

"I just think if you’re coming back in April, and you haven’t played all year, there’s a very low chance that you’re going to help us."

And so all parties concerned will hold out the hope that the offseason signee will be able to battle through the remainder of the season and help this team win a championship. That’s exactly what O’Neal said he wants to do, and he will deal with the pain throughout the season if the doctors give him that option.

"He’s trying to figure out a way, we’re trying to figure out a way with Dr. McKeon and everybody on how we can get him on the floor," Rivers said. "Even if it’s gotta be, at the worst case scenario the way it’s been, where he plays four or five games and has to sit out."

The good news for O’Neal and the Celtics is that while he’s on the court, he’s all business. You would think that an injury that is bordering the line of surgery would prevent him from performing to his fullest on the court, but as he told us, that’s not the case.

"I have no problems in the game. Once I’m in the game it’s fine," O’Neal said of pain in the knee. "It’s the next day that I have the problems."

Due to the fact that O’Neal and the team elected to not have him undergo surgery when this injury was discovered back in November, they’ve been put between a rock and a hard place. Either way, O’Neal is going to be dealing with pain for a long time. The question is, will it be during a rehab stint that essentially removes him from this season’s puzzle, or will it be dealt with throughout the season after he plays in games?

An indication of where these guys might be leaning is that O’Neal said bluntly that he contemplated playing in tonight’s game until the second he left his house.

- Marc D'Amico

KG Returns to Practice, But O'Neal MRI Results Loom

WALTHAM, Mass. – If Doc Rivers’ words were any indication, the Boston Celtics’ roster is about to undergo some major shifting.

Boston ran through its second practice of the week today and did so with limited numbers. However, one key figure made his return to the court and finally rejoined his team for some live action.

Kevin Garnett, who strained a muscle in his lower right leg on Dec. 29 in Detroit, was able to practice alongside his teammates for about half of the hour-long session. Although Garnett has been ruled out of playing in tomorrow night’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats in the Garden, Rivers sounded optimistic about what he saw out of Garnett during his participation in live practice drills.

"No, he’s not playing tomorrow, but he looked pretty good," said Rivers. "He actually, besides just his wind and stuff, I thought his movement was very good."

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Kings 95, Celtics 119: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

The Celtics were hit with another blow this morning when they were informed that Jermaine O’Neal woke up this morning with a swollen left knee – again.

O’Neal has experienced pain in the left knee throughout the season and returned to the lineup just over two weeks ago after sitting out for six weeks. Doc Rivers said earlier this month that O’Neal will likely experience pain in the knee for the remainder of his life, but this took the Celtics by surprise.

"We weren’t prepared for this one," said Rivers before tonight’s game.

With O’Neal suffering yet another setback, the Celtics are going to need to lean heavily on their two frontcourt rookies in the coming games. It’s now expected that Boston will be without JO and Kevin Garnett through the end of this week.

If that scenario comes to fruition, Luke Harangody and Semih Erden will both receive an increase in their minutes. Rivers doesn’t seem too concerned with the fact that those two rooks will be on the court, but he will do his best to stagger their minutes.

"You look at our second unit bigs, there’s gonna be, at some point, Luke and Semih may have to be on the floor at the same time," said Rivers. "That’s not the two you want on the floor at the same time. You don’t mind them on the floor, (but) you don’t want them there together. But in some ways we have no choice in that."

Back on the Garnett front, there is an update to be given. Rivers told the media that Garnett is likely to miss both tonight’s game and Friday’s game before returning to the lineup Monday night against the Orlando Magic. KG is healthy enough that he would be playing if tonight was a playoff game, but it’s not. Today is Jan. 12, and the C’s know they can use patience.

"My guess is no," Rivers said regarding Garnett playing on Friday, "because after that we have two more days off. And so my thinking right now – unless he just comes out and practices the whole practice (on Thursday) and looks great – is probably off Friday too and then – what do we play, on Monday? Probably then."

At least the C’s can be comfortable in the fact that they know, for sure, that Garnett’s injury is not incredibly serious and that he’ll be back in the lineup sooner rather than later. O’Neal, however, is a different story. His knee has acted up on a consistent basis this season, and six weeks off only allowed him to return for about two weeks before the knee pain resurfaced in a major way. We’ll just have to wait and see if Boston’s medical staff can figure out a way to mitigate the injury and help O’Neal contribute to this team throughout the remainder of the season.

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Return to Practice Court Sans KG

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics got back to the basics today, simply because they were finally able to.

For the first time in more than two weeks, according to Doc Rivers, the team took the court for a full practice.

You have to go all the way back to the week of Dec. 26 to find a date in which the C’s were able to hold a full practice. Yes, they’ve been able to hold their regular game-day shootarounds, but those only go so far. Shootarounds are generally geared toward preparation for that night’s game, rather than putting in work to clean up areas of slippage. The Celtics needed legitimate practice time, and that just hasn’t been available.

"We just have gone through this stretch where we literally didn’t have enough guys and we‘ve had too many games," Rivers said after Tuesday’s practice. "It’s funny – before the game yesterday I was talking about how badly we needed a practice and it showed its head (in the game)."

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Rockets 108, Celtics 102: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

We thought that there was a slight chance that Kevin Garnett would pop back into the Celtics’ lineup tonight, but it turns out that the team’s initial timetable of two weeks will, in fact, be accurate.

Garnett did not participate in this morning’s shootaround and Rivers just notified the media that he will not play in tonight’s game. He termed KG’s possible return of Wednesday against the Kings, which would be exactly two weeks of time off, as a "maybe."

The Celtics aren’t the only team that will be playing without a key player, though. Houston has been hit with a pair of critical injuries tonight, as their leading scorer, Kevin Martin, will be out with a sore wrist and Brad Miller will not play, either. As Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle noted on his Twitter page, this means that the Rockets are down to four big men tonight, and that includes Jared Jeffries, who is more of a small forward.

Boston will have an enormous size advantage tonight and will undoubtedly look to assert themselves in the paint. Look for both of the O’Neals to get plenty of touches in the paint against the undersized Rockets.

In addition to hitting the big guys in the post all night, the C’s will also try to relocate the ball movement that racked up 30-plus assists in their last two wins. That ball movement was nonexistent on Saturday night in Chicago. Doc Rivers titled the team’s offensive showing a "one-pass-shot offense."

The Celtics assisted on only 12 of their 28 field goals Saturday night in Chicago. Rivers agreed when I suggested that such a performance is likely to surface a handful of times each season, usually at the tail end of a tough stretch of games, but he also made it clear that he didn’t expect to lose despite the team’s struggles.

"Yeah, but I want to win those games," Rivers said. "That’s the only thing I told our guys. I thought it all frustrated us. You could see it in our play. We got in the way of ourselves and didn’t allow ourselves to win the game. I think you can play poorly and you can still win the game. We just, mentally, couldn’t get past playing poorly and still try and win the game the other night."

Hopefully the Celtics won't have to worry about that tonight. For once this season, the C's finally have the health advantage, and it should pay off in the form of a much better offensive performance against the Rockets.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 79, Bulls 90: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Raptors 102, Celtics 122: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

A new record was set tonight in the TD Garden: most smiles from one player prior to tip-off.

That player’s name is Kendrick Perkins, and his smile was shining from ear to ear for the full 10 minutes he was speaking to media in the locker room. Why, you might ask? Well that’s because Boston’s center-on-the-mend is right around the corner from returning to the lineup.

Perkins made numerous huge announcements about his progress before making his way onto the court for a workout before the game. First, he notified us that he has returned to full speed, 3-on-3 basketball. Second, he plans on returning to full practices next week. Third, and maybe most important of all, his timetable for a return to game action is just three weeks.

Before Perk does return to games, he’ll need to get his rhythm back through practice time. The issue that looms is that, due to the team’s schedule in January, practice time will be extremely limited. Doc Rivers says he’s not worrying about that, though. He’ll turn on his creative side and figure out how to get Perk back in his rhythm.

"We can always create a practice," Rivers said matter of factly. "It doesn’t have to be with all of the guys. We can find a way of getting him on the floor.

With Perk’s return inching closer and closer, questions are beginning to surface regarding what his expectations are regarding playing time, as well as if he’ll start or come off the bench. He wasn’t too enamored with those questions, but he answered with a smile after he was asked if he believes he’s going to be the starting center or not.

"I’m gonna give you an answer," he said. "Yeah!"

It’s beginning to feel a lot like the C’s have an enormous trade that’s going to be completed within the next few weeks. The reason is because Boston will be getting Perk and Delonte West, who has played only five games this season, back at nearly the same time. As Ray Allen noted prior to tonight’s game, adding players of their caliber to the lineup this late in the season can be a huge boost of energy for their teammates.

"It does give you a sense of help is around the corner, the cavalry is over the hill coming to join us," Allen said.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Spurs 103, Celtics 105: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Here we are, on Jan. 5, and the two teams everyone in the world would consider ‘old’ are sitting atop the Eastern and Western Conference. It’s no doubt that we’re in for a gem tonight when we watch the C’s host the Spurs in the Garden.

Although these two teams, which both have big-name trios that lead their squads, are in familiar territory, it’s impossible to ignore the new mindset San Antonio has displayed this season. A squad that had formerly been known as a defensive stalwart has instead turned into an unstoppable offensive force.

With Tim Duncan taking a back seat to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs have vaulted to the top of the league in offensive efficiency and they’re fighting for the league-lead in scoring, too. But while their offense has ascended, their defense has fallen into mediocrity. The stats will tell you that – they’re ranked 14th in opponent PPG and 16th in opponent field goal percentage – but Boston’s white board gives even more evidence of that fact.

Celtics coaches will instruct their players to take advantage of the little things San Antonio isn’t doing anymore. The Spurs aren’t defending post feeds and cuts well. They aren’t fighting through tough screens. Essentially, they’re showing a level of laziness. We’ll see if the C’s can take advantage of that tonight.

As far as players are concerned, we all know that Kevin Garnett won’t be on the court tonight. Rivers told the media that KG has returned to shooting drills but he is still unsure of a possible return to the lineup. With Garnett sitting out tonight, Glen Davis will get the start against DeJuan Blair. That means a 6-9 power forward (Davis) will face off against a 6-7 power forward (Blair).

I asked Doc Rivers how these two undersized big men have vaulted themselves into such essential roles on championship teams, and he gave me four reasons: talent, IQ, skill set, and both play extremely hard. In addition to pointing that out, Rivers also noted that these guys have overcome adversity in their ascension to critical roles.

"I’m sure [Gregg Popovich] told Blair the same thing we told Baby," said Rivers. "The Draft is just a one-day number, and the rest of your career is what you make of it."

Davis was drafted 35th overall and Blair was drafted 37th overall. They’ve both put that draft position aside and put in the work to take their careers from possibilities to long-term commitments.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Timberwolves 93, Celtics 96: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Typically when the Celtics are taking on an underwhelming opponent, most of the pregame talk is geared toward Boston’s team or some other obscure subject. Not the case tonight.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are in town to take on the C’s, and despite their win total of eight game this season, they have some extremely intriguing pieces on their roster. The two biggest pieces are named Kevin Love and Michael Beasley.

Love enters tonight’s game as the leading rebounder in the league with an average of 15.3 per game and that is clearly going to be a point of emphasis tonight for Boston. On the locker room’s white board, Boston’s coaches wrote: "ALL 5 RUSH TO REBOUND – LOVE 4.8 OFF/GAME."

Obviously the C’s want to combat Love’s rebounding ability with their entire team attack the glass. However, sometimes that just won’t cut it and talent overrides the opponent’s effort. Doc Rivers mentioned in pregame that last night in Toronto, many of the Raptors’ 19 offensive rebounds were due to superior athleticism. That’s not the case with Love. He simply has an innate ability to rebound the basketball, and as evidenced by his numbers, it’s nearly impossible to stop.

"Very few players can do that – read where the ball is going. You’ll see it tonight," said Rivers. "We were watching it on film. I mean, it’s almost uncanny. The ball’s almost at the rim and you can see him making a break to the left side of the rim or the right side of the rim already."

While Love cleans up the glass for Minnesota, Beasley concerns himself with carrying the team’s load at the offensive end. He leads the team in scoring with 21.8 PPG and is shooting the ball effectively from all over the court. Rivers said he believes Beasley may lead the team in scoring someday, and that will probably occur because he’s a difficult matchup for anyone who is forced to defend him.

"He just really knows how to score the ball. He has the Carmelo (Anthony) ability to score inside of him," Rivers said. "And he’s a matchup problem every night. It’s tough for [small forwards] to guard him because of his size, and he’s too big for [power forwards]."

The C’s will have their hands full tonight with a couple of tough, young players on Minnesota’s side of the ball, but Boston should be able to score at will. They want to get out in transition and force the issue against the Timberwolves, so keep your eyes out for a triple-digit performance from the Celts.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 93, Raptors 79: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Peter Stringer

Game Links

Hornets 83, Celtics 81: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

You might be able to take an educated guess as to what was the top story of this afternoon’s pregame media session. No? No guesses? Alright, here’s a two-letter clue: K and G.

The biggest news of the past 48 hours came in two waves. First, Kevin Garnett left Boston’s Wednesday night game against the Pistons in Detroit with an injury to his right leg. The extent of the injury wasn’t known until his MRI results rolled in Thursday afternoon, which resulted in the second wave of information.

It is now known that Garnett’s injury is simply a strain to a muscle in his lower right leg and that he will miss up to two weeks of action. That means the C’s, who were in survival mode to begin with, must dig deeper into their survival kit during this hectic stretch of games that looms ahead.

The problem is, they just lost what may be the most important tool in their survival kit. Garnett might be Boston’s hatchet.

Without him, new pieces must step in and current pieces must perform well. Glen Davis will be inserted into the starting lineup, and players like Von Wafer, Luke Harangody and Semih Erden might see minutes they wouldn’t normally see. What Doc Rivers told those players, as well as the rest of the team, is that they don’t need to try and be something they aren’t. He simply wants them to compete at a high level while staying in their limits.

"I heard a couple of guys saying, ‘You know, we need guys to step up,’ " said Rivers, who was referring to his team’s shootarond this morning. "I said, ‘Listen, we don’t need anybody to step up. We just need you to step into your role and do what you do. I think what happens is guys do try to try to do more, do more than their ability, and that’s why you lose games."

We don’t know how long Garnett will be out, but today’s New Year’s Eve matinee will be our first taste of what this current Celtics team looks like without him. It’s time to find out if Rivers’ players took his statement to heart and can simply step in, rather than attempt to step up.

Injury Notes: Rajon Rondo will not play in tonight's game due to his sprained left ankle. Rivers said he is close, and may play in either or both of the next two games, but the ankle hasn't responded well enough to warrant playing time this afternoon.

- Marc D'Amico

When Kevin Garnett exited the court Wednesday night in the Palace of Auburn Hills, it was human nature to assume the worst. Luckily for him and the Celtics, the worst has been avoided.

Danny Ainge announced Thursday afternoon that Garnett's MRI came back negative and that his injury has been deemed a strain. Ainge said Garnett will likely miss "a couple of weeks" with the injury.

Garnett Injury Update

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 95, Pacers 83: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics 78, Magic 86: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

76ers 80, Celtics 84: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Hopefully the Celtics aren’t in the same state as the media.

Ninety percent of the questions fired at Boston’s players and coaches prior to tonight’s game were concerning Saturday’s Christmas Day showdown with the Magic in Orlando. It could be danger zone for the C’s if they look ahead to Saturday as well, because they’ve got one game to take care of first.

The C’s host Philadelphia tonight and are looking for their 14th consecutive win, which would pop their record up to 23-4 on the season. Boston won by only one point in Philadelphia earlier this season, and Doc Rivers thinks the reason was a lack of transition defense.

The grease board in Boston’s locker room says as much, as the very first item on the list is written in large, bolded letters: 22 FAST BREAK POINTS – SPRINT BACK! That message is referencing the 22 fast break points that the Sixers scored against the C’s in the teams’ first meeting of the season.

Rivers admitted that the one area of Boston’s game that has experienced consistent slippage this season is the transition defense. He warned that if the team experiences that lack of open court defense tonight, it could be in for a long night against such an athletic team.

In addition to Philadelphia being athletic and capable in the open court, the 76ers are also coming off of a 45-point drubbing last night in Chicago. The general consensus is that they’ll be steadfast on bouncing back from that loss tonight, and Rivers passed some of that blame onto one of his best friends in the league.

"I texted a very mean message to Thibs (last night)," Rivers said, alluding to former assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, who is now the head coach in Chicago.

Thibodeau’s troops may have lit a fire under this Philadelphia team, and it will be Boston’s job to put it out tonight.

Injury notes: Jermaine O'Neal will not make his return to the lineup tonight due to flu-like symptoms. Rajon Rondo is back to running and walking, but there is no timetable for his return.

- Marc D'Amico

Perkins Takes Big Step on Road to Recovery

WALTHAM, Mass. - Who would have thought that the first 20 minutes of a December practice could hold so much significance?

A feeling of surrealism passed through approximately 100 onlookers as the Boston Celtics began Tuesday's open practice in Waltham, Mass., with their entire frontcourt intact. For the first time this season, Kendrick Perkins was included in that 'entire frontcourt' group.

Perkins underwent arthroscopic knee ligament reconstruction with meniscal repair during the offseason and, to this point, has been nothing but an eager giant waiting to break down the wall on the court between he and his teammates. The 6-foot-10 center has essentially been limited to working out with coaches - and without teammates - before games and after practices for the past few weeks. Those sessions pale in comparison to the Shaq-sized step he took today.

Practice began with a strength and conditioning segment that Doc Rivers said Perkins hadn't participated in to this point. To the outsiders, though, that wasn't the surprising part. What shocked most of the media members watching from high above the court was the fact that Perkins continued practicing alongside his teammates when they moved into the skeleton offense portion of the practice, which is essentially full-speed basketball without contact.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Pacers 88, Celtics 99: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Doc Rivers may have said it best as he walked away from his pregame media session: "It’s early, clearly your brains aren’t working yet."

It was probably the shortest pregame session Rivers has had to date, as the questions were limited from the media contingent. Still, though, there were a couple of important topics he touched on.

The story that has been the talk of the NBA over the past two days is the roster overhaul the Orlando Magic made yesterday. They acquired Hedo Turkoglu, Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson, which Rivers says will bring its positives and its negatives to the Central Florida area.

"I had heard that they were looking for guys who can create off the dribble, and I think they have added that," Rivers said. "They have lost some size, and we’ll see later (how that affects them)."

The lack of size that Orlando now possesses could play into Boston’s favor as the season wears on, particularly if the C’s can get 100 percent healthy on the frontline. We’ll get our first look at the matchup on Christmas day, but even Rivers noted that the ABC showdown won’t exactly be an indicator of things to come later in the season.

There is some big news regarding the Celtics as well, the biggest of which is the return of Shaquille O’Neal. He will return to the lineup this afternoon against the Pacers after missing the past four games due to a sore right calf. The other O’Neal, Jermaine, is on his way back and could play in Wednesday’s home game against the Philadelphia 76ers. He fully participated in Saturday’s practice and Rivers said he looked "great."

Also keep your eye on Semih Erden today, because he is playing with a pulled groin that the team thought would prevent him from playing in today’s game. But when he showed up to shootaround this morning, he notified the team that he felt fine and would be able to play this afternoon.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Hawks 90, Celtics 102: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Just moments before Doc Rivers emerged from his office for a pregame session with the media, a player quietly snuck into the locker room while avoiding any attention from writers or cameras. Not many of the media members saw it, and that might be a good thing because it was a sight for sore eyes.

That player was Rajon Rondo, and he was hobbling back to his teammates on a pair of crutches.

The league’s leading assist man sprained his left ankle in the fourth quarter of last night’s victory in New York. The replay showed Rondo’s left ankle turning so badly that it touched the floor. Still, he fought through the pain and made his way back onto the court to help contribute to the win.

That won’t be happening tonight against the Atlanta Hawks.

Rivers told the media that on the flight home last night, Rondo’s ankle worsened to the point that he is not expected to return to the lineup for at least one or two weeks.

His injury leaves a vacant spot at the point guard position, which Nate Robinson will fill. Robinson has already started four games this season while Rondo nursed a strained hamstring, but this time around things are going to be a bit different.

"Someone was asking me, ‘Could you lose Rondo?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, we were 3-1 and should be 4-0 without him,’ " said Rivers. "But what we can’t lose is Rondo, Delonte West… you know, the numbers are just starting to add up now where we just can’t sustain another [injury]. "

Avery Bradley and Marquis Daniels will now handle the backup point guard duties for Boston, which is riding an 11-game winning streak. The team is clearly beginning to thin out to a point where it’s simply looking for healthy bodies to eat up minutes. They’ve been able to do so during this winning streak, but injuries continue to mount.

Tonight’s opponent, the Atlanta Hawks, have a couple of important injuries as well. Joe Johnson (elbow) and Jamal Crawford (back) will both miss tonight’s game. Those two players are by far the most dangerous scorers on the Hawks roster, so they’re going to be searching for some quality play from reserves tonight as well.

With both teams missing key pieces tonight, it’s obvious that this isn’t going to be the prettiest game of the season. But if you like to see "grind it out" games, you’re probably going to enjoy this one.

"That’s what our games have been the last five games now," said Rivers, alluding to the grind it out mentality. "So we’re just par for the course for us. We just have to continue to grind. I told our guys today that we just have to keep moving forward, we can’t look at anything else."

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 118, Knicks 116: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Rivalry Revisited? Not Just Yet

WALTHAM, Mass. – Paul Pierce chuckled at the suggestion that Wednesday night’s contest in New York might be that of a rivalry. Using such a word to describe a matchup between the Celtics and Knicks is surely pretentious, but there’s no downplaying the hype that’s currently snowballing into the Big Apple.

Boston hasn’t played since Saturday and New York has been off since Sunday, which means the media and public will have had two full days to gear up before the teams’ showdown at 7 p.m. Wednesday night on ESPN.

We all know about the distaste these two cities have for one another, but it has grown stale from a basketball sense over the past decade. Now that Boston and New York are once again feared throughout the league, everyone is chomping at the bit to see them compete against each other.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 93, Bobcats 62: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 102, 76ers 101: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Nuggets 89, Celtics 105: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

We all know that the news of the night is Shelden Williams’ return to the TD Garden.

OK, OK… maybe not.

The real news is that just one day after running through practice with only eight bodies, the Celtics will unexpectedly field a full 12-man roster for tonight’s game.

Three members of Boston’s team – Jermaine O’Neal, Delonte West and Kendrick Perkins – were obviously not going to play in tonight’s game due to long-term injuries. But in addition to them, four other Celtics missed Tuesday’s practice for one reason or another. To everyone’s surprise, Doc Rivers popped out of his office for a pregame media session and happily delivered the news that Rajon Rondo, Nate Robinson, Glen Davis and Shaquille O’Neal would all be available for tonight’s game.

"We’re good," Rivers said. "Rondo will play, Baby will play, Shaq will play. I told you that the other game and two of them didn’t play… no, but I think they’ll all play. I think we’re pretty good."

It was thought that Davis was a definite no throughout the day, as he wasn’t even with the team at this morning’s shootaround. Boston decided to keep him away from the team for as long as possible for precautionary reasons despite knowing the big man would play tonight.

The importance of everyone playing cannot be overstated. Without that group, the C’s would have been forced to take on a perennial Western Conference contender tonight with an undermanned roster that most definitely would have struggled in many areas. Boston is certainly thankful that those worries are long gone.

They’ll also be thankful for some other surprising news – Carmelo Anthony will not play in tonight’s game. He’s out with a sore right knee.

Overall, tonight’s pregame has a holiday feel to it for the C’s. Tons of surprises that undoubtedly did nothing but put smiles on their faces in the locker room during pregame.

- Marc D'Amico

All Jokes Aside, C's Grow from Ad Lib Practice

WALTHAM, Mass. – Doc Rivers made his way over to the herd of media after Tuesday’s practice and broke the ice with a whimsical joke. It was typical Rivers material, who likes to keep his media sessions light hearted.

It was an atypical moment, though, because that joke, which invoked a burst of laughter from the group, was a legitimate statement that held a significant underlying meaning.

"We needed some of you guys for practice today," he said with a laugh.

On this day, even a reporter might have been useful in the Celtics’ practice.

Boston was forced to maneuver its way through today’s session, which was only the team’s second full practice in more than two weeks, with eight players. The list of players who did not participate in practice would be an intriguing seven-man core for any NBA team: Rajon Rondo (hamstring and foot pain), Nate Robinson (personal matter), Delonte West (broken wrist), Glen Davis (illness), Jermaine’ O’Neal (sore knee), Shaquille O’Neal (sore calf) and Kendrick Perkins (knee rehabilitation).

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 100, Nets 75: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Bulls 92, Celtics 104: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

The man Celtics fans love to hate is back in town tonight – Joakim Noah.

It’s no secret that Boston fans, and NBA fans in general, love to boo Chicago’s starting center, but Noah has proven that he feeds off of such energy. The man Noah loves to dislike, Kevin Garnett, is similar in that regard.

Those two players were the hot topic during tonight’s pregame, and it’s not difficult to figure out why. KG and Noah are two of the most emotional players the NBA currently has to offer, and when they collide there’s always a possibility of fireworks (in a good way). Since the last time these two teams met, Noah went public with his dislike for Garnett, a fact that will surely fire up the Big Ticket tonight.

Although the players are different in so many aspects of their games, the similarities don’t end with their emotions. Both players are hustlers who, as Doc Rivers noted, will do anything to win.

"They both play hard, at the end of the day, and they both play for the right reasons," said Rivers. "I think every coach in the NBA would love them both, because they both clearly play to win. That doesn’t mean either one of them plays perfect every night. They make their mistakes. But every ounce of them is about winning."

Garnett won’t be facing off with Noah much tonight in one-on-one situations, but you will surely see both attacking the boards on every possession. Both players rank in the top 15 in the league in rebounds per game. Noah, however, is coming off of the worst rebounding game of his career, as he finished Wednesday’s blowout loss to Orlando with a goose egg in that department.

Don’t expect such an occurrence to take place again tonight. Rivers, as well as everyone else on the Celtics team, realize that such a performance was more of an anomaly than a regularity.

"It’s shocking. But hell, it happens," Rivers said of Noah’s zero-rebound performance. "We’ve all had them. Everyone has a game – him, probably, as far as with his energy and everything (is more shocking)."

Rivers also noted that Orlando barely missed in that game, and that it was Chicago’s first game after a West Coast trip, which he called "miserable." So, there were reasons why Noah struggled.

After having Thursday off, though, travel and fatigue shouldn’t play a role for either team tonight. That means we should see the best of Garnett and Noah tonight, and who wouldn’t want to watch that?

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Trail Blazers 95, Celtics 99: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

To spread awareness on World AIDS Day, the NBA and NBA Cares program has provided each team with red and white warm-up jerseys and brand new red shoes, for the players of every team to wear during their games today. The warm-up jerseys are red with white sleeves and showcase a large ribbon on the back to signify the tribute.

The Celtics showed up to the TD Garden today and found fresh red kicks in their lockers, to many of their surprise. Nate Robinson, in particular, was caught off guard and wished he had known sooner so he could have worn some extra red as a tribute. As it stands, though, he and his teammates have the opportunity to wear the red shoes as a tribute during tonight's game. Each player's shoes were made by their official footwear provider.

During that game, Boston will be taking on a Portland team that has not been able to finish games of late. They've played competitively for the majority of the four consecutive games they've lost, but haven't been able to finish teams off in the fourth quarter. Still, though, they have plenty of ammo to stick with the Celtics tonight, and that was indicated on Boston's grease board in the locker room.

Numerous defensive notes mentioned three separate Trail Blazers: Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Andre Miller. The notes, which were written by Lawrence Frank, instructed players to poke at the ball when Aldridge has it, and to be aware of pick-and-rolls run by Roy and Aldridge. In that pick-and-roll situation, Boston's coaching staff wants its bigs to show hard specifically when Aldridge is setting the picks.

Those types of notes have become a regularity on the board before games over the past couple of weeks, and they seem to be playing a role in the C's stepping up their defense. Boston has been playing shutdown defense against nearly every opponent, and the hope is that they'll be able to continue that type of play tonight.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 106, Cavaliers 87: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Delonte West Has Successful Surgery

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics announced today that guard Delonte West underwent successful surgery to repair a displaced right wrist fracture this morning at the New England Baptist Hospital. The surgery was performed by Dr. Drew Terrono and Dr. Hervey Kimball and assisted by Celtics Team Physician Dr. Brian McKeon. No timetable has been set for his return.

West had appeared in five games for the Celtics this season and was averaging 6.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.0 steals at the time of the injury. He made his season debut for the Celtics against Washington on Nov. 17 and netted 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.

- Marc D'Amico

Bradley, Wafer Benefit From Shorthanded Practice

WALTHAM –It’s a good thing the Boston Celtics didn’t have a game scheduled for noon today, because only 11 players would have suited up for it if they did.

We all know about the well-chronicled injury situation the C’s are currently dealing with, as Delonte West (broken wrist), Jermaine O’Neal (sore knee) and Kendrick Perkins (knee rehab) are all out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, but an extra kink was thrown into the mix this afternoon when Shaquille O’Neal was also not present for practice.

O’Neal was absent from the practice facility this afternoon because he mixed up the time of practice, according to Doc Rivers. Boston’s starting center did, however, know that the team was flying out of the Boston area at 3 p.m. for its trip to Cleveland for Tuesday night’s game, so there were no worries that he would miss the flight.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Raptors 101, Celtics 110: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Don't hold your breath, folks, but you might be seeing Rajon Rondo make his return to the lineup tonight against the Toronto Raptors.

Doc Rivers discussed Rondo's status during his pregame media session and broke the news that he's leaning toward starting Rondo, who is returning from a strained left hamstring. He did, however, reserve the right to change his mind before tip off.

"He'll probably play," Rivers said, "but I can always change my mind. I don't want to mislead you."

The way he spoke made me believe that Rondo will be on the court tonight. Although he continually stated that he had not made the decision of playing Rondo or not, he also continually made statements that basically said No. 9 will be out there tonight.

His return couldn't come at a better time, as the Celtics will play their first full game since Delonte West went down with a broken right wrist Wednesday night. With West out of the lineup and Semih Erden giving the C's an underwhelming performance, Rivers had to go to a lineup in which Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels were at the one, two and three positions, and Luke Harangody actually saw some time at center. Those aren't things the Celtics practice, and Rivers said as much tonight.

With Rondo likely in tow for tip off, Boston will have an opportunity to avenge its stunning loss to the Raptors Sunday with a much more normal lineup. The C's blew a three-point lead over the final 21.3 seconds of that contest and watched Toronto make the plays that they normally make down the stretch. The Celtics played great basketball in stretches of that game, but as Ray Allen said in pregame, stretches of great ball simply isn't good enough, because as he put it, "Teams aren't going to quit."

"Let them know this is going to be hard for 48," was written on the Celtics' grease board in the locker room. That's exactly what Allen was alluding to, and we're just minutes away from seeing if Boston can make that happen on the court.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Nets 83, Celtics 89: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

The news everyone wants to hear is that Rajon Rondo is back in the lineup for the Boston Celtics. Don’t worry, folks, you’ll hear that news, but it won’t be tonight.

Doc Rivers said during tonight’s pregame media session that Rondo attempted to walk – literally – through the team’s shootaround today and didn’t feel too great. Rivers intimated that Rondo will be out for Friday’s matchup with the Raptors as well, simply because of the fact that the team has some extended rest on the horizon after that game.

"I didn’t look at it until now with one game, today’s game, and then we have Friday and three days off," Rivers said of his initial plan for bringing Rondo back. "Now I can tell you I am absolutely looking at that as if he’s a no (for Friday’s game)."

Nate Robinson has filled in admirably during Rondo’s absence and, as Rivers noted, the team’s "offensive numbers haven’t changed." In Robinson’s first start, against the Raptors on Sunday, he scored a season-high 22 points, then he notched a season-high 10 assists against the Hawks on Monday. The hope is that he’ll continue that type of production and allow the C’s to operate in a similar fashion to what they do when Rondo is on the floor.

It’s not going to be easy for Robinson to light it up tonight because he’ll be facing off with a former All-Star in Devin Harris. Harris and Brook Lopez have become a fantastic young duo that the Nets are excited to build around. New Jersey remodeled its roster this summer and brought in a ton of shooting, mostly in the form of Anthony Morrow, Travis Outlaw and Jordan Farmar. Those three players, who rank third, fourth and fifth on the team in scoring, respectively, give the Nets a whole new look offensively.

"The shooting, everybody wants. If you have a big, you have to have shooting. They have shooting. Morrow might be the best shooter in the league – don’t tell Ray (Allen) I said that – he’s the second-best shooter in the league. So that’s why Brook (Lopez)’s having a heck of a run. But it’s due to that."

Boston lost to the old-look Nets – the group that challenged the league’s lowest all-time win total last season – in the Garden a season ago, and they’ll be looking to avoid the same fate tonight against a much more potent New Jersey roster.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 99, Hawks 76: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 101, Raptors 102: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Thunder 89, Celtics 84: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Center Position Showing Strength Despite Injuries

WALTHAM - The Boston Celtics were back on the practice court today, just 14 hours after their drumming of the Washington Wizards, to prep for their second showdown against the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 12-day span. The C’s knocked off the Thunder 92-83 on Nov. 7 in Oklahoma City and they will meet again tomorrow night in the TD Garden.

Although that big game looms just a day away, most of the talk at practice concerned last night’s dominating performance in the Garden. Washington didn’t stand a chance while Boston was clicking on all cylinders, and it all started with Shaquille O’Neal.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Wizards 83, Celtics 114: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

The Celtics will be at near full strength tonight, with only Jermaine O’Neal missing tonight’s tilt with the Washington Wizards. That’s good news for Boston, as they prepared the last two days to play without Marquis Daniels as well.

Daniels missed the last two days of practice as he tended to a family issue, and despite the fact that he’ll be in the lineup tonight those missed sessions could have residual effects. First off, Daniels was unable to get two practices in with one of his fellow reserves, Delonte West, who will be participating in his first game of the season tonight. Secondly, Daniels came to the arena straight from the airport and as we all know, it’s never easy to perform when your mind is wandering elsewhere.

Boston knows it has a true professional on its hands in Daniels, and that’s exactly why he’s here tonight, so we’ll wait and see if tonight’s game will be his release from the real world. As Doc Rivers noted just minutes ago, "Sometimes life gets involved and there’s nothing you can do about it."

Life didn’t get in the way of Kevin Garnett last season, but a recovering knee certainly did. KG was completely exposed in a late-season matchup against the Wizards last season when Andray Blatche went off for 31 points and 11 rebounds against him. Blatche blew by KG on numerous plays and simply outplayed him for nearly the entire game. This time around, though, Blatche is going to see a different player wearing that white No. 5 jersey. Garnett is healthy and performing at a level we haven’t seen out of him during his tenure with the Celtics. His 10.4 RPG average through 10 games is just 0.4 below his career average and is 1.2 RPG above his highest average as a Celtic, which came in 2007-08.

I asked Rivers during pregame if that performance by Blatche might be lingering in the back of Garnett’s head heading into this game, and he responded with the following:

"I’m sure everything sits in that head of his. I’m sure that’s just a clutter, of one other thing. Someone asked me the other day if Shaq’s personality is helpful with Kevin’s so he won’t be as intense and I said, ‘That human being has never been invented.’ He’s just an intense human being. He sometimes manufactures things to get upset at so he can get upset at a player or something, or the other team. It’s a good quality, really. So I’m sure that – he’s competitive."

In other words: expect KG to be fired up for this one.

The Wizards will be playing tonight’s game without their No. 1 overall pick, John Wall, as he continues to rest a sprained foot. This is the second game he will miss in a row, which means for the second contest in a row Washington will rely on Gilbert Arenas to be their playmaker.

- Marc D'Amico

Daniels May Miss Wednesday's Game

WALTHAM, Mass. – Paul Pierce may have said it best when he chirped the following sentence after Tuesday’s practice in Waltham, Mass.: "I feel like every time we get a new piece, another one goes down."

Such is the early-season story of the Boston Celtics.

Through the first ten games of the season, those rotating pieces were, for the most part, Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal. They have played in only two games together and that number won’t change for the foreseeable future, as Doc Rivers told the media Monday afternoon that Jermaine O’Neal will likely miss at least two to three weeks due to a sore left knee.

News broke Tuesday, however, that another important piece may not be available for Wednesday night’s game against the Washington Wizards. Marquis Daniels has missed the past two days of practice for an undisclosed family issue. When asked if the Celtics would have their reserve small forward for Wednesday’s game, Doc Rivers simply replied, "Don’t know yet."

Usually that means no, but the possibility still remains that Daniels may be back in time for tomorrow’s game. If he isn’t, however, Rivers will need to use his creative juices yet again in terms of covering up for a missing player.

Rivers noted today that small forward is one position where he did not foresee any of these issues, with Paul Pierce and Daniels combining to be a reliable one-two punch. But with Daniels’ absence over the past two days, the Celtics have been forced to prepare for a game without him. That means the possibility, or even probability, of playing small in certain situations.

Delonte West, who will be making his season debut, is the likely candidate to pick up some minutes at small forward to spell Pierce. Rivers said that West playing the three isn’t exactly an ideal situation, but given the situation it might be a necessity. Boston will continue to hold out hope that Daniels will in fact be available for tomorrow’s game and that those plans won’t be put into action.

Outside of Jermaine O’Neal and Daniels, the other 13 Celtics are expected to be available for Rivers’ use Wednesday night.

- Marc D'Amico

With Suspension In the Past, West Puts In Work

BOSTON – Ten games may not feel like a whole lot to outsiders, but to Delonte West it was an eternity.

Three full weeks and more than 12 percent of the Boston Celtics’ regular season have passed by, but West has been only an innocent bystander for all of it. Due to a 10-game, league-mandated suspension that was handed down on him this summer, West’s role with the C’s had been reduced to that of a screaming fan watching their favorite team in HD. Literally.

"I found myself as a fan of the game, you know rooting for my guys, and cheering, and calling everyone to let them know, ‘The game is on, we’ve gotta watch the Celtics,’ " West said Monday afternoon, joking that his neighbors banged on his wall because that cheering was so loud while he watched Boston’s first 10 games from home. "It’s great. It’s even better after I see those guys on TV, I sit and think to myself, you know, I’m a part of that."

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 116, Grizzlies 110 (OT): Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 112, Heat 107: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 87, Mavericks 89: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Celtics 92, Thunder 83: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Bulls 105, Celtics 110 (OT): Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

There may not be a seat open on Boston’s bench for any players, as the team currently has the maximum 15 players on its roster, but there’s a seat open for one member of the Chicago Bulls any time he wants to fill it.

The talk of the town today has been centered around the return of Tom Thibodeau and Brian Scalabrine to the TD Garden as members of the Bulls. Thibodeau switched from green to red this summer in order to take the first head coaching position of his career. Shockingly, though, he’s not the one Doc Rivers told reporters will have a seat open on his bench whenever he wants it. Instead, it was Scalabrine.

Scalabrine became a fan favorite in Boston during his time spent with the Celtics because of his open personality and never-ending hustle. He played hard, practiced hard and worked to get to know the people of Boston even harder. That is something that will catch everyone’s attention.

And it certainly caught Rivers’. He said during pregame that Scalabrine is a natural leader and will one day find his way into the coaching profession. Scalabrine, though, flatly said that he won’t because the time commitment of such a job would take him away from his wife and kids.

Rivers acknowledged that whenever a coaching future came up during a conversation with Scal, the big man’s reservations were always with that exact topic. But when I asked Doc if he had any advice as to dealing with the possible time away from family – seeing as that’s the reason Rivers almost didn’t return to coach the Celtics this season – he said that he doesn’t have any, because it won’t hold Scal back when the opportunity arises.

"He’ll coach," were Rivers’ final words before he stepped back to the locker room. And if Doc’s words were any indication, Scal will be coaching on Rivers’ staff.

In other news, this game is going to be a showdown between two of the elite point guards in the NBA, both of whom made their first All-Star appearance last season. Despite the electric game Derrick Rose brings to the table, Rajon Rondo has been filling all of the headlines this season when it comes to point guards. That has been the case because of his assist totals, but as Tom Thibodeau noted during pregame, defense is where Rondo has the step up on Rose right now.

"The big thing is on the ball pressure, and I think challenging shots, and I’d like him to rebound better," Thibodeau said, touching on three areas Rondo has already mastered as a point guard.

As far as Rondo, he had some nice words to say about his progression as well.

"Rajon is very good at reading plays, reading what’s being called, and I think he’s fulfilled all of his team responsibilities," he said. "Each year he’s gotten better and better."

- Marc D'Amico

Post Game Links

Bucks 102, Celtics 105 (OT): Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 109, Pistons 86: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Shaq's Injury Could Spark Jermaine O'Neal

WALTHAM, Mass. - In the case of Boston’s O’Neal brothers, as Doc Rivers likes to call them, one man’s loss is another man’s gain.

Shaquille O’Neal, who has started all three games for Boston this season, will likely miss Tuesday night’s game in Detroit with a bruised knee that was suffered during a collision with Amar’e Stoudemire Friday night. That means the man who sports the same names as Shaq on the front and back of his jersey – Jermaine O’Neal – will get an opportunity to return to the lineup as a starter against the Pistons.

The two O’Neals were the biggest offseason acquisitions for the Celtics, but they’ve both experienced numerous injuries early on in the season. Jermaine O’Neal, in particular, has dealt with nagging injuries for the past few weeks, a situation he claims to be going through for the first time in his career.

Read More

Game Links

Knicks 101, Celtics 105: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

It’s Friday night and the Knicks are in town. For the past five years, that hasn’t mattered much, but this New York team might be a bit different, much ado to the presence of Amar’e Stoudemire.

The Knicks had planned for nearly three years for the summer of 2010 by stacking up contracts that would end at the conclusion of last season. As a result, they’ve got almost a brand new team – six of their nine players who participated in the team’s first game of the season are first-year Knicks. Not many of those new players possess much size, but Doc Rivers acknowledged that there are two things New York does now possess: athleticism and a "closer."

With Mike D’Antoni at the helm, everyone knows that New York will play at a fast pace and rack up 3-point attempts with the best of them. Those jumpers, as Rivers noted during pregame, tend to lead to long rebounds and that’s how the Knicks are able to rack up second chance points. He said that on a night like tonight, his guards need to have that are the forefront of their minds and take away the rebounding angles New York’s perimeter players usually tend to find.

The Knicks upgraded most of their roster, but the key cog is now Stoudemire, and he’s the man Rivers titled a "closer." Boston’s coach said that New York has missed that type of a player over the past few years and that’s why they’ve lost a bunch of close games. Stoudemire, however, could change that, and he’s the biggest reason why Rivers and his coaching staff know that tonight’s game might not be the walk-through the C’s have experienced against New York for most of the past three seasons.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 87, Cavaliers 95: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Heat 80, Celtics 88: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Only two players made it to their locker room during pregame media availability, and their names were Marquis Daniels and Luke Harangody. With that being said, there wasn’t much coming from Boston’s locker room in terms of news and notes.

Outside the locker room, however, there were plenty of nuggets being thrown out, most notably from Doc Rivers. Rivers released plenty of information to the media that none of us had been privy to to this point. First and foremost comes the news that of Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal and Glen Davis, Rivers said matter of factly that Davis will garner the most minutes of the trio tonight.

While he may get more minutes than either O’Neal, Shaq will be the starting center tonight. With that comes the challenge for Boston of slowing down Miami’s pick-and-roll despite the Big Shamrock’s well-known struggles to defend such a play. That play has been, and will be, Boston’s biggest concern tonight. Rivers told reporters that he has decided to put the onus on his guards and forwards to successfully fight through the picks, because he simply doesn’t believe Shaq can give a hard "show" and rebound in time to stop the play.

Outside of that specific issue, though, Rivers loves his team’s advantage in the frontcourt – as long as his big men can stay in the paint. Rivers said that if those players can’t get back in transition, or if they’re lured out of the lane, the C’s will be in big trouble.

Keeping those players in the paint will be highly dependent on two things.

First, the Celtics must score efficiently. Shooting a high percentage from the floor will allow their big men to get back to the other end of the court and prevent fast break buckets by the Heat.

Second, which will help with the exact same issue, is that Boston needs to take care of the ball. Turnovers plagued the C’s all season long last year, and Rivers said tonight that he was "not happy" with the team’s ability to change that characteristic during the preseason.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are two of the most dangerous players in the NBA in the open court, and if the C’s can’t take care of those two areas, we might be seeing those two players scoring with ease at a much higher frequency than any Boston fan would like.

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Continue Preparation for Oopening Night

WALTHAM, Mass. - A quick, hour-long practice session that includes no contact and a whole lot of guessing doesn’t sound like a script the Boston Celtics would follow, but that’s exactly what took place on Sunday morning in Waltham, Mass.

Rather than give the Celtics a full day off, Doc Rivers opted to gather his troops and put them through a simple session to help prepare for Opening Night and beyond. And believe it or not, a few injuries that occurred in the preseason for both Boston and Miami have thrown a kink into that preparation plan.

Although they finished 7-1 in exhibition play, the Celtics dealt with numerous nicks and knacks, most notably to Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal. Down in Miami, the Heat went through its entire preseason without Dwyane Wade and reportedly just lost Mike Miller until January.

The two O’Neals and Wade are healthy and back to practice, but the time they missed in the preseason is hampering Boston’s progress. Shaq and Jermaine’s missed time, combined with the fact that they’re learning an entirely new system, has put them in a tough situation heading into the regular season. Rivers admits that neither player is where he would like them to be in terms of knowing the team’s schemes, and that’s exactly why he put the team through a practice like today’s. They Celtics may not have been playing full-tilt on the court this morning, but the practice session gave players like the O’Neals another opportunity to learn prior to Tuesday night’s tip off.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Look for Shaq to Start in Opener

Waltham, MA - To close out another long practice in Waltham on Saturday, Shaquille O'Neal joined the green team in a five-on-five scrimmage that featured referees and teammates drawing up plays. While Rajon Rondo seemed to take control of the green huddle during the session, Kendrick Perkins could be seen on the sideline drawing up plays for the white team (reserves).

When he addressed the media after the session closed, Head Coach Doc Rivers told reporters that the session was "phenomenal" and as of now, Shaquille O'Neal was his starting center. Rivers said both Shaquille and Jermaine O'Neal have been battling hard to get the starting spot, but with Jermaine having missed so much of the preseason due to injury (he played in only four of the Celtics' eight exhibition tilts), Shaq will likely be the man in the middle on opening night.

As for the Celtics' former starting center, Perkins talked at length about trying to stay involved despite not being able to play. Perkins continues to be upbeat about his status and even said that he felt like could probably get out there and run a couple of drills, but doctor's orders have him confined to the sidelines for the meantime.

The Celtics will return to practice Sunday morning for a brief session as they continue to tune up for their season opener. In case you haven't heard, they'll host LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat at the TD Garden this Tuesday, October 26.

- Peter Stringer

Host of Celtics Return to Practice

WALTHAM, Mass. - Doc Rivers must have been yearning to coach his players over the past five days, because everything he bottled up during that time frame was released on them this afternoon.

Rivers, who underwent a throat biopsy Sunday morning and has been unable to fully coach the team since, returned to the court today with no voice limitations... and he was on the court for a long time. The C's ran through a practice that extended longer than most NBA games do in total time; the session began at 11 a.m. and wrapped up at 1:45 p.m. sharp, which is a full 15 minutes longer than the typical broadcast time of an NBA game.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Nets 92, Celtics 107: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

Tonight’s pregame media availability resembled that of a regular season, aside from the fact that three players who do not have lockers were sprawled out in chairs in the middle of the room, and that Kevin Garnett actually showed face – twice, and that Ray Allen chatted with the media while leaning back in his chair at his locker, and that… well, OK, it didn’t resemble a regular season pregame at all. But there’s a reason for that – we’re still in preseason, at least for tonight.

The C’s are hosting the Nets in both teams’ final exhibition game of the season, and both teams certainly want the games that mean something to arrive. But this one doesn’t affect the regular season standings, and that’s why the following news isn’t much of an issue for Boston.

Doc Rivers will not be on the sideline tonight coaching the team. He is in the building, and plans on addressing the team before the game and possibly at halftime, but doctors still do not want him yelling on the court. He told Celtics.com that he plans to return at 100 percent on Friday. In his absence, Lawrence Frank will run the show.

Another interesting tidbit came from Allen in the locker room while he leaned back in his chair, decorated with a large Celtics logo on the back piece, in front of his locker. Allen chatted with the media about a few different topics and one of them inspired him to tell a story that seems to stand out in his mind.

Allen began to speak about how even his role changes each and every season depending on the other personnel on the team. This year, for example, he believes his role will change because the team has Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal to pound the ball into the with. He mentioned that it’s unique for players to accept those changes, especially as proven vets, and that he, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have done a fantastic job of being willing to do so.

Two years ago, when in Newport, R.I., for training camp, Allen realized how fans on the outside aren’t always conscious of the sacrifices these guys have made, and in turn think they have lost a step. That’s not the case, from his point of view.

While the team was out one night in Providence, celebrating the close of camp, a woman walked up to Allen and told him, "I liked you better in Seattle." Allen laughed as he told the story, clearly not taking the statement to heart, and essentially said that his game changed not because of age, but because he was willing to make adjustments for the betterment of the team.

- Marc D'Amico

Frank Runs Practice in Rivers' Absence

News broke at today’s practice that Doc Rivers underwent minor throat surgery Sunday morning at Massachusetts General Hospital and, if he was a player, would be listed as day-to-day on the injury list. In his absence, first-year Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank took the lead role as the team held its first full practice in a week.

Rivers’ surgery, according to Frank, was a planned procedure and is nothing serious. He is not attending practices at the moment because, as Frank said with a smile, doctors "just want him to rest his voice box – obviously he’ll be using it quite a bunch."

Even without Rivers in the building, it sounded as if Boston still got its work done today. Frank told reporters that Rivers still put together the practice plan and that the assistants as a whole simply put it into action. Rivers could return to coaching the team as early as Tuesday, for the team’s corporate sponsors open practice, but it’s also possible that he may not return for a few days.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Knicks 84, Celtics 97: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 117, Raptors 112: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

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

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Celtics 92, 76ers 103: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

Raptors 87, Celtics 91: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

Pregame

The big news out of tonight’s pregame media availability is that for the first time of this preseason, we’re going to see Jermaine O’Neal on the court. We’ll have to wait a few minutes, though, because Shaquille O’Neal will be Boston’s starting center.

Jermaine O’Neal is coming back from a left hamstring strain and Doc Rivers said that he will be on a minutes restriction tonight, with more extended minutes possibly coming in the next two games.

Another Celtic who is nursing an injury, Avery Bradley, has essentially been cleared for play but Rivers is keeping him out of the lineup tonight. With both Jermaine and Bradley, Rivers wants to be as cautious as possible in allowing them to fully return. Bradley participated in practice yesterday but Rivers didn’t see enough out of him to feel comfortable enough to toss him into the lineup tonight.

Keep your eyes out for a unique lineup that the C’s might test out tonight – Delonte West, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis and Kevin Garnett. With all five players possessing very good shooting abilities, Rivers thinks that lineup can be nearly indefensible since the opposing team won’t be able to help off of any of the five Celtics. It sounded as if Rivers is enamored with that lineup and will try it out tonight.

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

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

- Marc D'Amico

Game Links

76ers 65, Celtics 93: Ford Keys to the Game | Recap | Box Score

- Marc D'Amico

Scrimmage Goes Down to Wire on Preseason Eve

WALTHAM, Mass. – One day prior to their first tune-up game against another team, the Boston Celtics closed out Tuesday’s practice with a relatively lengthy scrimmage that came down to the wire.

With Jermaine O’Neal still resting his sore left hamstring, Shaquille O’Neal again ran with the starters, and they were lucky to have him on their side.

Semih Erden and Marquis Daniels scored back-to-back layups in less than 17 seconds to put the second unit ahead 18-17 with just 21.1 seconds left on the clock. The first team, being led by assistant coach Armond Hill, called timeout and drew up a play. Out of the timeout, it took only one second for Shaq to draw a foul, and he went to the line for a pair of crucial free throws.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Practice Makes Perfect for Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. – The old adage is that practice makes perfect. With the 2010-11 Boston Celtics roster, that may be the most accurate of axioms.

Boston’s practices have been intense and filled with competitive juices, so much that captain Paul Pierce had to stop for a moment and wonder if his team would benefit more from practice than actual preseason exhibition games.

"It’s crazy, because the way camp’s been going, we think it’s been going pretty good, if not great," Pierce said. "I think we’re enjoying playing against each other. I think we’re getting a lot out of playing against each other, truthfully. It feels like we’re in a game every day."

Read More

Injury Updates: Doc Rivers stated today that Jermaine O'Neal (hamstring) will likely be held out of practice for the remainder of the week, while Delonte West (back spasms) is essentially day-to-day, and could return to the court as early as Tuesday.

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Waive Gaffney

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics announced today that they have waived forward Tony Gaffney from their training camp roster. The training camp roster now stands at 17.

The team is scheduled to resume practice this morning at 11 a.m. in Waltham, Mass.

- Marc D'Amico

Camp Closes on High Note in Newport

NEWPORT, R.I. – Phase One of the Boston Celtics’ pursuit of Banner 18 is in the books. The C’s wrapped up Training Camp Saturday afternoon in Newport and will now move on to Phase Two – preseason games and practices.

Although the camp was five days long, in a secluded city 75 miles away from their family and friends, many of the players and coaches were overheard saying that camp had flown and that they couldn’t believe it was already over. That’s never a bad thing, because time flies when you’re having fun, right?

It’s easy to have fun when you’ve got a team like the Celtics, whose core has now been through four training camps together and whose newcomers are nearly all veterans themselves. These guys know the ropes.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics Battle Fatigue as Close of Camp Nears

NEWPORT, R.I. - Wednesday is often referred to as "hump day" for the regular 9-5, every day worker. It’s the day they just need to get through to see the light at the end of the tunnel -- the weekend. Naturally, things are a bit different for the Boston Celtics. Friday served as their hump day at Training Camp, and the light at the end isn't exactly right around the corner.

With the Celtics making a run to Game 7 of the NBA Finals last season, the team was essentially forced to limit their offseason workout routines due to a shortened summer. That doesn’t mean for one second that any of the current C’s came into Training Camp out of shape, but they’re certainly not in game shape, and they’re more than willing to admit that.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Perfect Storm Brewing in Newport

NEWPORT, R.I. - It was a cloudy and muggy afternoon in Newport, one that would lead you to believe some form of storm was on its way. But no matter how dreary the weather may have been outside, the Boston Celtics are more concerned with keeping tabs on the climate inside the Rodgers Recreation Center at Salve Regina University.

With three days of training camp now in the books, the Celtics have a firm grasp of the atmosphere that will accompany the team onto the court nearly every day for the next seven to nine months. The early feedback is that it’s packing some serious competition, but no matter how testy it may get, the C’s won’t allow their emotions to swirl out of control.

"The personnel that we have are... it’s a loose environment around here, until we hit the floor, and that’s when all hell breaks loose," Kevin Garnett said after Thursday’s practice. "We’re very competitive, and what I love about Doc is that he doesn’t mind us being competitive as long as that we don’t go off on our own and practice doesn’t become a tropical storm."

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

West Working Hard on Road to Redemption

NEWPORT, RI - After everyone else had wrapped up their -practice interviews and taken the bus back to the team hotel on Wednesday, Delonte West worked with the Celtics coaching staff on his pull-up jumpers, three-pointers and then ran a few sprints.

Soaked in sweat from his 30-minute plus extra workout, a contrite West met with about a half-dozen reporters who waited for him to finish his drills. Despite being asked a straight basketball question, West wasted no time in addressing his offseason, off-the-court issues and expressing his gratitude for his second chance with the Celtics at training camp in Newport, RI. Offseason legal woes will cost West the first 10 games of the season due to a league-imposed suspension.

"I'm just happy to be given this opportunity to do what I love," West said. "I'm lucky to be here, happy to be here. Put me out there.... I'm playing every game, every minute this year like my life depends on it, because it does...my career, nothing's promised."

Read More

- Peter Stringer

Defense Dominates Day 2 of Camp

NEWPORT, R.I. – After looking to install some offense on Day 1, the Celtics were hard at work installing air conditioning (it was markedly cooler in the gym Wednesday than it was Tuesday), body conditioning, and of course, defense, on Day 2.

Just as the media entered the gym, Doc Rivers ran his team through a quick three-man layup drill, in which the groups had to advance the ball up the floor without dribbling and convert a layup on each end, and accomplish it all within a nine-second time limit.

But the emphasis early in camp is going to be on defense, as Rivers says he wants to re-establish the Celtics as the best defensive team in the league. Right now, he estimated that he’s spending 75 percent of the time on defense and just 25 percent on offense.

Read More

- Peter Stringer

C's Dialed in as Camp Opens in Newport

NEWPORT, RI -- With fans running at full blast in all four corners of the gym at Salve Regina University, Doc Rivers ran his troops at full-tilt for nearly three hours on Tuesday afternoon to tip off Training Camp in Newport, RI.

And while the original plan called for an evening walk-through later tonight, the Celtics will instead return to the gym Wednesday morning where they'll continue to work on integrating two of their biggest acquisitions, Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal, into their schemes on the offensive and defensive end.

Read More

- Peter Stringer

Ubuntu Returns to Waltham on Media Day

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Sometimes there are things in life that you just can't believe until you see them in person. Such is the 2010-11 Boston Celtics team.

Fifty-one All-Star appearances? Impossible. Life-size personalities in every corner of the locker room? Too much to handle. Four premier offseason signings, three of which will likely be reserves? That can't work.

This team can't really exist, can it?

Yet there it all was, live in the flesh, Monday afternoon in Waltham, Mass., as this season's Celtics squad came out of the locker room one-by-one for their two hours of media access heaven.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics highlighted by 2010-11 NBA schedule

If you're trying to get a lead on which NBA teams will be racking up wins and contending for the championship trophy this season, take a peek at the schedule. Talk radio, newspapers and sports websites will give you their opinion, but the schedule never lies.

That schedule reveals clues that the Boston Celtics are yet again expected to be a title contender for the fourth consecutive season. It's also a clear indicator that this roster will be a traveling circus that everyone -- even Laker fans -- will want to see.

After a 2009-10 season that was branded as "Reloaded" and saw the team reach the NBA Finals for the second time in three seasons, Boston went to work again this offseason and sculpted another behemoth of a team. With the likes of Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal jumping on the Celtics' train, in addition to some other well-crafted moves, the Celtics have deepened their roster and are poised to make another push for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

West returns to C's after three seasons away

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed free agent guard Delonte West. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
West, a 6-foot-3 guard, has posted career averages of 10.0 points, 3.7 assists and has shot 37.3 percent from beyond the arc. Originally drafted by the Celtics with the 24th pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, West posted a career-high 12.2 points during his last season with the Celtics in 2006-07. The former St. Joseph's (PA) Hawk shot a career-high 39.9 percent from 3-point distance during the 2008-09 season when he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

- Marc D'Amico

Summer recap: One more run... again

One tick of a clock sounds exceedingly mundane, but that tick can mean so much to so many. The final tick at Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals can describe such a moment, as this wasn't just the end of a game -- it was a tick of epic proportions.

For the franchise that landed on the short end of the stick, it marked a morph from championship contention to self-preservation. That's what happens when a team built for one last run nosedives into an offseason where nine of its players -- including two of its "Big Three" -- were either days away from free agency or teetering on the brink of retirement; when the head coach mulls over staying on board for another season or walking away to spend more time with his family; and when the assistant coach who was the architect of the team's tenacious defense accepts the head coaching job with a conference foe.

That's exactly what happened to the Boston Celtics.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics release 2010-11 schedule

BOSTON -- The 2010-11 NBA schedule was released to the public today, with the Boston Celtics beginning their new season in a highly anticipated matchup vs. the Miami Heat on Tuesday, Oct. 26 at the TD Garden. The Celtics will face the Los Angeles Lakers in a 2010 Finals rematch at the TD Garden on Thursday, Feb. 10 and will play their second consecutive Christmas Day game in Orlando on Dec. 25. Other highlights of the schedule include Miami's second trip to Boston on Sunday, Feb. 13 and the Celtics will welcome the Orlando Magic to town on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Jan. 17 as well as on Sunday, Feb. 6. The Celtics will also host the New Orleans Hornets in a New Year's Eve Day matchup on Dec. 31.

Full Release

Celtics sign Luke Harangody

BOSTON, MA - The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed 2010 Second Round draft pick Luke Harangody. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Harangody, a 6'8" forward, was recently named to the 2010 AirTran Airways All-Summer League First Team after averaging 16.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in five contests. He also shot 50.0% from beyond the arc in the five games. Harangody, who was drafted with the 52nd pick in the Second Round of the 2010 NBA Draft, had a storied career at Notre Dame. He was named First Team All-Big East his final three seasons and finished as the third all-time leading scorer in Big East history with 1,329 and second leading rebounder with 662 rebounds. His senior year he led the Irish with 21.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game and recorded 21 games with 20-or-more points.

Celtics waive Rasheed Wallace

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics announced today that they have waived forward/center Rasheed Wallace after coming to a mutual agreement following which Wallace plans to retire.

"We would like to thank Rasheed for everything that he did for this team and organization last season," said Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations. "We would like to wish Rasheed and his family the best as they move on into the next phase of their lives. He will always be a member of the Celtics family."

Full Release

- Marc D'Amico

Ainge adds Shaq as Celtics stack to chase Banner 18

Some guys are large. And some guys are larger than life.

File Shaquille O'Neal, the Celtics' latest free agent signing, into the latter category.

O'Neal and the Celtics came to terms on a deal to bring the 15-time All-Star to Boston on Wednesday, and while O'Neal's role with the team in terms of basketball on the floor may not be that large, his presence in the city of Boston can't be overstated.

Read More

Press Release

BOSTON, MA - The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed free agent center Shaquille O'Neal. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"It is not every day that you can add a player of Shaquille's caliber to your team," said Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations. "His past experience speaks for itself and we believe that he is a great fit for our roster."

Full Release

- Peter Stringer

Wafer returns to NBA with Boston

BOSTON, MA - The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed guard Von Wafer. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Wafer, a 6'5" guard, has posted NBA career averages of 6.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per game. Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 39th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, Wafer posted his best statistical season when he was with Houston for the 2008-09 campaign. He posted career-highs with 9.7 points and 1.8 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game. He also shot a career-high 39.0% from three-point land. Wafer made 11 starts for the Rockets during that season and he averaged 16.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists in those contests.

- Marc D'Amico

Daniels eyes healthy 2009-10 season

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have re-signed guard/forward Marquis Daniels. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Daniels, a 6-foot-6 guard/forward, appeared in 51 games for the Celtics last season averaging 5.6 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 18.4 minutes per game. The former Auburn Tiger also shot a career-best 49.8 percent from the field. Daniels netted a season-high with 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the floor against New Jersey on Feb. 27.

Full Release

- Marc D'Amico

Patience, faith lead Robinson to "secure" state

BOSTON -- Nate Robinson has spent the majority of the the past two years living in the world of uncertainty, at least in a basketball sense. Times got tough -- tough enough to conquer most -- but Robinson didn't crumble, because he isn't like everyone else.

After all, how many three-time NBA Slam Dunk champions do you know of? Just one, and it's him. How often does a two-sport collegiate star turn to the NBA for a career and experience the success Robinson has since he left the Washington Huskies? Maybe once a decade? And how often do 5-foot-9 guards find a permanent niche in the world's top basketball league? Almost never.

Robinson has been able to do all of those things that few or none have before, and battling through the last two years of his basketball life with a positive mindset is just the latest of his rare accomplishments.

Read more

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics continue to sculpt bench, re-sign Robinson

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics announced today that they have re-signed guard Nate Robinson. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"It is great to have Nate back and we think that he can contribute more significantly this upcoming season after a full training camp with the team," said Celtics President of Basketball Operations, Danny Ainge. "He helped us win some crucial playoff games this past postseason and we believe that we will see great things from him this coming season."

Full Release

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics announce re-signing of captain Paul Pierce

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics announced today that they have re-signed team captain and forward Paul Pierce. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Paul has been a cornerstone of our franchise for the last decade and we could not be more pleased that he is returning to the team," said Celtics President of Basketball Operations, Danny Ainge.

Pierce, a 6-foot-7 forward, is the Celtics third leading scorer in franchise history with 19,899 points trailing only Larry Bird and John Havlicek. The 2008 NBA Finals MVP averaged 18.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game in making his eighth All-Star team. The four-time All-NBA selection is the team's all-time leader in free throws attempted and made; three-pointers attempted and made steals and is second all-time in points per game (22.5 ppg).

Full Release

- Marc D'Amico

Rondo and pursuit of title lure O'Neal to Boston

BOSTON -- When you think of Rajon Rondo, you usually think of assists -- the tangible kind, as in the Celtics' franchise record 794 of them that he dished out during the 2009-10 regular season. As of 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon in Waltham, MA, he had racked up another assist for the Celtics franchise that may be a key ingredient to the team making another championship run next season.

Jermaine O'Neal, one of the most coveted big men on the free agent market this offseason behind the big names like Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer and Amar'e Stoudemire, officially became a Celtic today, and he surpsingly noted that a chat with the point guard is what sealed the deal for his arrival in Boston.

"Rondo actually was the guy who probably sold it the most," O'Neal said in his first appearance as a Celtic. "... He really helped me understand where my fit would be."

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics sign Jermaine O'NEal

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed center/forward Jermaine O'Neal. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Jermaine provides veteran leadership and experience," said Celtics President of Basketball Operations, Danny Ainge. "His talents are an excellent complement to our core roster."

O'Neal, a 6-foot-11 center/forward, has appeared in six all-star games and has been named to three All-NBA teams. The product of Eau Claire High School in Wisconsin has posted career averages of 14.2 points and 7.5 rebounds to go along with 1.9 blocks over his 14-year career with Portland, Indiana, Toronto and Miami. He posted a career-high field goal percentage of 52.9 percent last season with Miami.

"When the opportunity arose for me to join an organization like the Celtics, I could not refuse," said O'Neal. "I cannot wait to get to Boston and start to practice with the rest of the team in pursuit of a championship."

Celtics introduce Bradley, Harangody in Waltham

BOSTON -- It's not often that you can enjoy a red-eye flight. After all, they're named such for a reason.

But the Thursday night -- err, Friday morning -- jaunts through the sky that Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody took this week were different. They may have been taking place while we were all sleeping, but these two wanted to anything but.

Bradley and Harangody were selected by the Boston Celtics with the 19th and 52nd picks, respectively, of the 2010 NBA Draft Thursday night and flew out in the early a.m. to be introduced in Waltham, MA, Friday afternoon. As these two players flashed their freshly embroidered No. 0 (Bradley) and No. 55 (Harangody) jerseys, their smiles would have never left you guessing that they didn't sleep a lick last night.

Read More

- Marc D'Amico

Celtics add Bradley, Harangody via Draft

If you wanted the Celtics to add some athleticism and toughness through the 2010 NBA Draft, Danny Ainge and Co. answered your wishes.

Boston chose a super athlete with its 19th overall pick in the draft in the form of Avery Bradley, a combo guard out of the University of Texas.

Bradley entered the NBA Draft after just one year at Texas, where he racked up 11.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG and 2.1 APG en route to numerous Big 12 All-league selections. The explosive guard stands at 6-foot-2, but he measured in with a wingspan better than 6-foot-7 at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.

Though Bradley finished as Texas' second-leading scorer this past season, that wingspan and athleticism has the Celtics far more enamored with his ability to contribute immediately on the defensive end.

But Bradley wasn't the only former collegiate player to be crowned the newest Celtic, as the C's also owned the rights to the 52nd pick in the Draft. As Ainge often does, he found a proven college star who slipped on other teams' boards. This year, that player is Luke Harangody, a 6-foot-8 forward out of Notre Dame.

As he has in the past with forwards such as Glen Davis and Leon Powe, Ainge chose a big man who plays with passion but also has a proven track record. Harangody is a former Big East Player of the Year who averaged 21.8 PPG and 9.1 RPG during his senior year with the Irish.