Spirits High in Waltham After Exciting Game 1
Shaq Ruled Out Again; Billups "Very Questionable" for Game 2
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.
Meanwhile, after his breakout game in Game 1 Sunday night, Jermaine O'Neal continued to talk with a touch of a chip on his shoulder about how people didn't believe in him, and then lightened the mood by debating with reporters on who had the better NBA Draft class, 1996 or 2003. O'Neal is a bit biased since he was the No. 17 overall pick in 1996.
About the only negative word in Waltham, Mass., was that Shaquille O'Neal is definitely out for Game 2. While the news isn't necessarily surprising, it's not a positive development. Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters that he met with team physician Dr. Brian McKeon, and was told that Shaq wouldn't be ready to play.
"He's not going to play tomorrow," Rivers said. "Dr. McKeon came over about an hour ago and said, ‘We're not going to put him on the floor today. We're not even going to try.'"
Meanwhile, the Knicks may be dealing with a loss of their own. Knicks Coach Mike D'Antoni told reporters at TD Garden on Monday afternoon that Chauncey Billups was "very questionable" and that he'd be preparing his team for Game 2 as if they wouldn't have the services of Mr. Big Shot. Billups went down awkwardly in the final minute of Game 1 and seemed to have an issue with his knee or quadriceps. He struggled to ascend the stairs at the postgame press conference podium after last night's game.
If Billups can't go, that would leave Toney Douglas as the Knicks' starter at point guard.
"Toney played well last night, hit some big shots," D'Antoni said. "You hate to lose Chauncey, obviously, but at the same time we feel good. Toney's gonna just have to save his energy up. He's gonna play a lot of minutes."
Regardless of who starts in the backcourt for the Knicks, it shouldn't have much effect, if any, on the Celtics.
"I don't think that will effect how we approach the game. We have to worry about us," Rivers said.