Tag:Doc Rivers
Posted on: March 18, 2011 3:46 pm
 

Doc Rivers done after this season?

Posted by Royce Young

It took the Celtics' big three and Danny Ainge to get Doc Rivers back for one more year last summer. But via ESPN.com, it may take a lot more than that to get him back for another.

By the sounds of it, Rivers is ready to step away, at least for a season, in order to enjoy some time with his family. If Rivers didn't return, it would certainly be a blow to the chemistry of Celtics, but they'd move on. So who would be on the short list to replace Rivers?

A couple names that were mentioned were Celtic assistant and former New Jersey head coach Lawrence Franks and even former Celtic great Kevin McHale. Those are the obvious names that are already being linked, but as the report notes, Ainge may look for an unknown to replace Rivers. Or at least someone nobody is thinking about.

Ainge has certainly had time to prepare a backup plan to Rivers because Doc was very close to resigning last summer before the Boston big three convinced him to come back. So there's been time for Ainge to make some phone calls and put out some feelers. As much as Ainge has been prowling the trade and free agent market, he's also had an eye out for potential coaching candidates that might fit?

Who could the mystery men be? I don't really have a good guess, though I'm sure Ainge would at least call Tom Thibodeau just to see. No way Thibodeau leaves his job in Chicago that quickly, but sometimes there's sentimental value there. And I'm really struggling to come up with a mystery name here.

Basically any name at this point is wild speculation. The only one I'm pretty sure we can cross off is Rick Pitino. I don't think he's going to be walking through that door again. And Isiah Thomas. Because he's crossed off every list.

But all of this is contingent on what Rivers decides. He may indeed want another season. It sounds unlikely as Rivers really wants to watch his Duke-bound son Austin play his freshman year, but that itch to make another run might be too strong for him. We'll have to wait and see. And while we wait, Ainge will be plotting the next move.
Category: NBA
Posted on: March 7, 2011 9:51 am
Edited on: March 7, 2011 1:36 pm
 

Shaquille O'Neal out indefinitely with sore foot

Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal is out indefinitely with a foot injury. Posted by Ben Golliver. shaq-asw

Update: The Boston Globe reports on Monday that O'Neal will miss at least a week.
Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal, plagued by various nagging injuries, has played in just 36 games this season and hasn't made an appearance since February 1.

CSNNE.com reports that O'Neals absence will continue indefinitely due to "right foot soreness."  
The Celtics have no idea when the 7-foot-1 center, who turned 39 years old Sunday, will return to action. When asked about O'Neal and a likely return date, coach Doc Rivers acknowledged he had no idea. "[O'Neal] worked out with us the other day," Rivers said. "Some of the pain returned."
Rivers spoke with Ed Lacerte, the team's head trainer. "Eddie just said don't expect him anytime soon," Rivers said.
The Celtics haven't missed a beat in O'Neal's absence, or anyone else's for that matter. Boston has seen virtually every member of its rotation miss time due to injury this season - and they recently traded starting center Kendrick Perkins - but it hasn't impacted their ability to roll through the regular season. 

Without O'Neal, the Celtics have played more small ball as they work to integrate center Nenad Krstic (acquired for Perkins) and free agent big man Troy Murphy, who was signed to bolster their frontcourt depth. As of Monday, the Celtics sat atop the Eastern Conference with a sparkling 46-15 record.

O'Neals numbers have taken a big hit this year - he's averaging 9.3 points and 4.9 rebounds in 20.7 minutes - and the end is fast approaching. At this point of the season and at this juncture of the 39 year old O'Neal's career, it's naive to maintain hope that he will be in tip top shape come playoff time. With that said, his raw size and ability to give fouls against guys like Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah and Andrew Bynum would be a huge asset for Rivers. But Boston's roster is as asset-rich as any in the league, even with a sidelined Shaq. 
Posted on: February 24, 2011 4:12 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2011 6:32 pm
 

Trade Deadline: Celtics trade Perkins to OKC

Celtics trade Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.
Posted by Matt Moore and Royce Young




It's only fitting that in one of the biggest trade seasons in NBA history, that we ended the deadline in completely insane style. Multiple outlets including Yahoo! Sports first reported and Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has confirmed that the Boston Celtics has traded Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and a 2012 1st round pick. Here's our analysis of the trade (updating as more information becomes available). 

OKLAHOMA CITY RECEIVES: KENDRICK PERKINS, NATE ROBINSON
by Royce Young

There has always been a very specific ideology for Sam Presti in Oklahoma City. Build a group of young players that can grow and develop together. It started in 2007 when he took Kevin Durant No. 2 overall and acquired the fifth pick Jeff Green for Ray Allen. From there, the pieces started to fit.

And this Thunder team jumped way ahead of schedule, winning 50 games last season. Because of that, the slow development process sped up. There was an obvious opportunity to win now, and while the existing team was definitely good, there was always something missing.

Most of that centered around Green and his starting power forward spot. There always appeared to just be something missing there. He was undersized, didn't fit well next to Nenad Krstic and lacked on the glass and the defensive end. He could hit big shots and make big plays, but is was always clear that something wasn't right.

So Presti put his finger on the big red button and finally pushed it. He sent Jeff Green and Krstic to Boston for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson.

A bittersweet say for Thunder fans as Green was a clear fan favorite. He was always close with teammates Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. He was always seen as one of the core members of this group. But in the world where what counts is wins and losses, not how much fun you have and how well you get along off the court, it was a deal that had to be done.

The Thunder already was uncertain about Green's future, choosing not to sign him to an extension earlier in the season. He was set to become a restricted free agent this summer and even there, he was likely to get an offer that would be out of the Thunder's comfort zone.

While Perkins is also an unrestricted free agent, he fits what OKC would be willing to pay for. The Thunder tried to lock down a defensive-minded center two years ago when they traded for Tyson Chandler. But that deal was rescinded because of Chandler's physical and it put OKC back to work finding that help inside.

But what the Thunder did here was make a move for the now, finally. At the same time though, it doesn't jeopardize the future in any way. Green wasn't a sure thing in OKC anyway, and now Perkins gets a two month audition to earn a contract with the Thunder. OKC has improved itself against the beastly interiors of Los Angeles and Dallas and now can match up with anyone.

It came at a cost of sending out one of the city's favorite players and a close friend and teammate with Durant, Westbrook and Harden, but it had to be done. At some point, you've got to win. And the Thunder's trying to do it now. 


BOSTON RECEIVES: JEFF GREEN, NENAD KRSTIC, AND A 2012 FIRST-ROUND PICK (Top-Ten Protected)
by Matt Moore

This is going to go down as more about what Boston surrendered rather than what they got. They did not get an elite player back, so trading the franchise starting center who helped them win a championship and nearly a second had he not suffered a severe injury is going to raise a lot of voices in Beantown. The Celtics have always made it clear they are about winning championships at any cost.  They love the members of their organization, but this is a business, and their business is staying on top for as long as the Big 3's window is open. Something convinced them that Perkins was no longer able to lead them to a championship. So they flipped him and Robinson for what they considered their biggest need: a wing scorer. That he can serve as a stretch four, which is a considerable weakness to them as currently constructed, is a bonus. Green represents an odd representation: the move to win now, and to set themselves up for the future. 

Green is an RFA this summer, meaning they can decide whether or not to sign him based on whether he helps them win a championship or not. Krstic, on the other hand, is an expiring contract. Should they renounce both Green and Krstic, that's close to $10 million they're freeing up in the event of a dramatically lowered CBA, or if they feel the need to retool to go at a championship once more. If both help them win a second title with the Big 3, they can easily re-sign both to keep them in town. 

But at the end of the day, the Celtics surrendered Kendrick Perkins. Perk! The big man! The biggest reason that Boston was able to match up with Dwight Howard.  Now they'll be turning to a very old core of Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal, and Krstic to try and combat Howard. That's a risky proposition. The Celtics do not lack for confidence. They must feel they can overcome the Heat, the Magic, and the Bulls without their starting center. Either that, or his knee was enough of an issue to force them to trade him.

Perkins only came back about a month ago from serious knee surgery that kept him out of the Finals' Game 7 last season. He has looked good at times but struggled in others. Tuesday night against the Warriors he tweaked the knee and did not return, limping off the floor. Two days later, he's traded to Oklahoma City. The Celtics may have felt they could not risk him going down to injury again, with how much their team depended on him. So they pulled in the taller, bigger, Krstic, who has a nice mid-range shot Perkins does not, and acquired a stretch four. 

Stretch fours have long disrupted the Celtics' defensive schemes, with players like Chris Bosh, Rashard Lewis, and LaMarcus Aldridge hurting them with their ability to hit from the mid-range, while Boston's defenders shade to the paint. Green can step out and defend those players, and also provides them a young, athletic option who can hit from the perimeter. Green's a gamble, though.

One element that's likely in play here is the Celtics' pushing for a player soon to be bought out. The most obvious target is Troy Murphy, traded to the Warriors from the Nets during their acquisition of Deron Williams in a separate deal. Murphy is expected to be bought out of his contract, and would provide a versatile big for the Celtics. If not Murphy, then another candidate could take his place, considering how much space the Celtics have cleared with this and other moves. 

This whole trade is a gamble, and it's not sure why the Celtics would risk their continuity after the year they've had. But one thing's for certain. Things have gotten even more interesting in the already wild Eastern Conference.


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Posted on: February 15, 2011 1:30 am
Edited on: February 15, 2011 4:35 pm
 

Report: Celtics G Delonte West tweaks wrist again

Boston Celtics guard Delonte West is set to return from wrist surgery on Wednesday. Posted by Ben Golliver. delonte-west-wrist

Update (4:34 PM): Delonte West went through practice on Tuesday, as expected, but ESPNBoston.com reports that he "tweaked" his wrist and that Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reports that West would undergo additional X-rays. West's expected return tomorrow night is obviously in doubt.
-----------------------------
Back in November, Boston Celtics reserve guard Delonte West fractured his right wrist, an injury that required surgery and sidelined him for more than two months.

ESPNBoston.com reports that West will return to game action on Wednesday, when the Celtics face the New Jersey Nets
West participated in the entire Celtics practice session on Monday, and, barring any residual soreness after Tuesday's session, he will be in the lineup on Wednesday, said coach Doc Rivers.
"Delonte's going to play," said Rivers. "The only thing is, obviously, if [Tuesday] he goes through the practice and it gets sore, and then we'll pull him. Because, if it's to a point where it's not right, I'm not going to play him."
The timing couldn't be better for the Celtics, as they just lost wing Marquis Daniels to a bruised spine that has him sidelined for at least a month. That injury left the Celtics playing essentially a seven-man rotation during Sunday's showdown match-up with the Miami Heat. The Celtics still won, of course, but starters Ray Allen and Paul Pierce were forced to play 43 minutes and 40 minutes, respectively.

West's return will help shore up the team's backcourt depth, giving Rivers a veteran option to supplement the undersized Nate Robinson and the streaky Von Wafer.

West made just five appearances for Boston prior to suffering his wrist injury, averaging 6.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 17.6 minutes. For his career, West has posted averages of 10.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 28.2 minutes per game.
Posted on: February 13, 2011 1:46 am
 

10 Keys to Celtics vs. Heat III

Five keys for Boston and Miami as the Celtics and Heat meet Sunday for the third time this season. Is this a must-win for Miami, even in February?
Posted by Matt Moore




Allright, Miami. We're going to give you one last shot at this to show us you have anything interesting to bring to the matchup against the Boston Celtics before we start tracing over our penciling in of the Celtics for the Finals. In the first two meetings between the two best teams in the East, the Heat were dispatched. Both games featured moderately significant leads for the Celtics late, runs by Miami to keep the television audience slightly interested, then workman-like elimination stretches from Boston to close things out. If the Heat want to showcase anything towards the notion that they are anything more than a cupcake-devouring regular season team, this is the time to prove it. Their showcase wins over the Lakers and Magic in the past month and a half will mean very little if the Celtics were to run up a 3-0 season series advantage.

There's no such thing as a must-win game for an NBA title contender in February. But this is about as close as it gets. 
And with that, here are five keys to Boston and five keys to Miami for Sunday's afternoon delight between the Heat and the Celtics. 

Boston Celtics



1. A Pointed Exchange

Rajon Rondo isn't just the best point guard on the floor, he is arguably the third best overall player in this matchup.  He's certainly made a strong case for that element in the first two games against Miami. Rondo has 33 assists and just six turnovers against the Heat this season. I'll let you soak in that stew of incredible for a moment. 33 assists. Six turnovers. Even more incredible, though, is that his games could have been a lot stronger offensively. Rondo is just 5-17 from the field in this season series, for a grand total of 12 points. Rondo's clearly shown he doesn't have to score in order to be a huge advantage for the Celtics, but if he brings his brilliant playmaking and finds his mid-range or floater falling? This thing could get out of hand before half. Matched up against either Mario Chalmers or Carlos Arroyo, Rondo is able to out-class whatever the Heat want to throw at him, and he's even got the speed and ability to take Dwyane Wade or LeBron James to the cleaners. The big key for Rondo is to stay aggressive and focused. When he's zoned in, the Heat simply don't have the personnel to counter him. 

2. Baby You Got What I Need

Glen Davis has never lost a regular season game to the Miami Heat. True story. He's 9-0 all-time agains the Heat, and while some of that is an anomaly, some of it isn't, and he's been a big factor this year against the Triad. Davis is the unofficial league-leader in charges-drawn and has made some big ones against LeBron James. The Celtics' ability to close on James not at the point of attack on the perimeter, where his size and athleticism allows him to either bust the double or pass to a cutter, but at the bucket, has frustrated James time and time again throughout the years. While Davis' blubbery reverse, tilt-a-whirl mid-range and fiercely wild, yet consistent putbacks are helpful, it's this awareness on the defensive end and his willingness to sacrifice his body to an oncoming L-Train that really makes him a difference-maker in this matchup. With a shortened bench likely for this game, expect Davis' presence to be felt early and often. 

3. In Your Head, Zombie

Kevin Garnett's cute little antics can get in the heads of some, but he hasn't really whipped out the special effects in the first two meetings. His game has raged from strong but shakey in the first meeting (10 points, 7 turnovers) to strong (16 points, 13 rebounds) in the second. But he hasn't really had any key moment of conflict, which is surprising, considering how much of a target you'd expect Chris Bosh to be for Garnett's jawing and snapping. Garnett did shut down Bosh in the season opener, but he recovered for the second. You'd think that given how emotional Garnett has played lately, this game would be ripe for a fake-fight from the former MVP. At the same time, Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen need to make sure Garnett doesn't go too far. He's been pressing his luck further and further with officials lately, and they can't afford to lose him to an ejection, not with how short the bench is. Speaking of... 

4. Protect and Serve

The biggest key for this game for Boston? Don't get injured. That's the really important message. They've already won two impressive games against Miami, they're short-handed, it's February, they're in a bit of a slump, and it's an early-start game. While a nice, comfortable victory on the back of great shooting would be rewarding, and sending an even more dominant message would do the Celtics good, the goal for the Celtics now is to get to the Finals healthy. 

5. The Kobe Treatment on LeBron

The same formula that worked in the first two games should work again. Let James score all the points he wants, but make life a living hell for Dwyane Wade and the Heat shooters. Do that, and they become as one-dimensional as the Cavs were. It's only when the cylinders get going on all three members of the Triad and then the perimeter rotations start freeing up threes for the lesser guards that the Heat become a really effective unit. As long as James is being tempted into ISO situations, the Celtics can close, harass, and limit James' domination. It's fine if he gets ridiculous numbers as long as the rest of the team struggles. Worked before, it'll work again. 

Miami Heat



1. Try, Try, Try Again

It sounds simple, but if the Heat want to walk away with their first win over the Green since forming this little group of Super-Friends, they need to give more effort. Boston's defensive unit is yet again the most feared in the league and a huge reason for why the Heat's focus seemed to go in a thresher in October and November's games.  However, there was a clear lackadasical element to the Heat's body language in those games that seemed to indicate they simply weren't dialed into these games. Against the Celtics! It should have been Boston who wasn't committed to winning a meaningless regular season game, acting as if they didn't care about such games. But instead Boston brought its A-Game and the Heat seemed content to lay down and watch them take it from them. Needless to say, the same kind of intensity from Miami on Sunday will ruin any chance they have. The Celtics are tired, worn-down, injured, and know this game means nothing for them. Yet they will still bring their focus and be ready to capitalize unless the Heat give them a reason to quit. 

2. The D-Rated Superstar

Dwyane Wade has been terrible against Boston this season. He has shot 6-28 from the field for 21 points, with 9 assists and 12 turnovers. Those are "OMG" bad numbers. Wade is an elite player and it's his ability to finish at the rim that can rack up fouls for Boston and force them to bring doubles. If they're able to simply rotate like they usually do, the Heat shooters will face contested shots, which will pile up the misses. James has brought it the first two games, it's time for Wade to step up and join him. There's no reason to think they can count on the rest of the Heat to step up against the Celtics so the two best players on the team have to set the example. Wade has had a great season, but really been shut down against Boston. That can't happen Sunday or the Heat is sunk.

3. Do-Run-Run-Run, Do-Run-Run

The Celtics don't like running teams. They still usually beat them, but they have issues with them, as we've pointed out in the past. A shortened rotation due to injury is only going to exacerbate that problem. Likewise, the Heat are at their best when they're out in transition, using the talents of James, Wade, and Bosh in space. Against the Celtics this season, the Heat actually have fewer transition plays than the Celtics, (27-25, via Synergy Sports). The Celtics do a good job of getting back immediately in transition and attacking the ball to stop it. The Heat need to be insistent in pushing, and trusting that their athletes can make things happen. If they turn the ball over, so be it. But a higher pace game favors the Heat, even as the two teams are even in pace this season at 92.8

4. Desperately Seeking X

The Heat need an X-Factor. Someone to step up and put some points on the board, make a few defensive plays, create some steals, something. Udonis Haslem was that player in the first two games, but since he's out, someone will have to step up. If either Mario Chalmers, James Jones, or Eddie House can make a significant set of plays to cap off Heat runs, they may be able to get some damage done against Boston. They'll have their opportunities. The Celtics won't over-double and will run off three-pointers, but they're also unlikely to kill themselves to contest shots they're willing to live with. The Heat have to be ready to step up in those situations. It won't take a cohesive effort from all of the role players, but someone is going to need to give them something surprising. 

5. A Step in the Right Direction

The Heat can't convert anyone about their prospects in the playoffs on Sunday. Not really. But they can make a good step in that direction. The Celtics will brush off a loss by saying they'll get it done when it counts. Miami does not have that luxury, but they still need to get some level of confidence. A loss means they were beaten in three straight by Boston, with their last matchup coming in rest-up time just days before the playoffs in April. This is their best and last shot to show they can go toe to toe with Boston, even if it's an injured Celtics team. They need to get outside the hype they brought with them this season, the injuries they've dealt with, and the newness of this team. If they want to feel confident in any way, shape, or form for a possible Eastern Conference Finals matchup with the Boston Celtics, they have to start by winning in Boston Sunday.
Posted on: January 30, 2011 2:57 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2011 3:02 pm
 

Celtics coach Doc Rivers fined after ejection

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been fined by the NBA following his ejection in a Friday night game against the Phoenix Suns. Posted by Bendoc-rivers Golliver.

We've already noted this weekend that Friday's game between the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns ended wildly, with Celtics forward Kevin Garnett being ejected following a skirmish set off by a low blow on Suns big man Channing Frye.

Well before that fourth quarter brouhaha, though, Celtics coach Doc Rivers was also ejected from the game. On Sunday, the NBA announced that Rivers had been fined for his actions following the ejection.
Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has been fined $15,000 for failing to leave the court in a timely manner following an ejection, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.
The incident occurred with 4:33 remaining in the second period of the Celtics’ 88-71 loss to the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Arena in Phoenix on January 28.
ESPNBoston.com describes the scene surrounding the ejection.
With the Celtics trailing 40-25, Rivers was ejected late in the quarter after arguing with referee Steve Javie during a timeout. Rivers was hit with one technical foul and kept arguing with Javie, pointing to the official and his head as he yelled across the court. Rivers got in a few more choice words before finally walking off the court.
All the arguing was to no avail ultimately, as the Celtics wound up losing to the Suns, 88-71.

On Sunday, Rivers and the Celtics have a big opportunity to turn the page, travelling to Los Angeles for a marquee match-up against the Lakers. Here's a look at CBSSports.com's preview coverage of the 2010 NBA Finals rematch.
Posted on: January 28, 2011 3:38 pm
Edited on: January 28, 2011 3:47 pm
 

Lakers vs. Celtics preview: By the numbers

A look at some of the numbers prior to Sunday's showdown between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. Posted by Benlakers-celtics Golliver.

On Sunday, the Boston Celtics travel to Staples Center to take on the Los Angeles Lakers, renewing the most prestigious rivalry in the NBA. The two teams have combined to win the last three NBA Finals, with Los Angeles making three straight appearances and the Celtics making two of the last three.

This year's teams are another year older, but still have to be considered the favorites to win their respective conferences. As of Friday afternoon, the Celtics were 34-10, in first place in the Atlantic Division, while the Lakers were 33-13, in first place in the Pacific Division.

Here's a look at five numerical odds and ends in advance of Sunday's showdown. The results often reflect an amazing balance between the team's two premier franchises.

Premier Teams On Both Ends

The Celtics and Lakers are regarded as two of the deepest, most complete teams in the NBA, and the general efficiency numbers bear that out pretty clearly. The teams are two of just five teams who appear in the top 10 of the NBA's offensive and defensive efficiency tables. The Lakers are No. 1 on offense and No. 8 on defense, while the Celtics are No. 10 on offense and No. 2 on defense. The other teams that appear in the top five in both categories: championship contenders Miami, Orlando and San Antonio. 

Boston's offensive efficiency is dragged down a bit by its turnovers and is arguably better than the No. 10 ranking suggests. For example, the Celtics actually lead the league in effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage, thanks to their ability to get easy buckets, get to the free throw line and knock down three-pointers.

For the Lakers, their defensive efficiency number, while still good, is dragged down a bit by their average defensive rebounding rate, attributed in part to the absence of center Andrew Bynum and other assorted big man injuries.

Overall, the Celtics and Lakers are third and fourth respectively in efficiency differential, which measures the difference between their offensive efficiency and the efficiency they allow opponents while playing defense. The only two teams better: Miami and San Antonio, other title contenders.

Age

Jerry West recently kicked off a discussion about the advancing age of the Lakers, saying some of the players are getting "long in the tooth."

A recent Hoopism.com study confirmed that West was on to something, as the Lakers and Celtics were second and third oldest teams, respectively, when it comes to the average age of their players that actually see court time.

For Boston, the fogeys are Ray Allen (35), Kevin Garnett (34) Paul Pierce (33) and, to a lesser degree, Shaquille O'Neal (38). For Los Angeles, the elder statesmen propping up that number are Derek Fisher (36) and Kobe Bryant (32) with Ron Artest (31) and Lamar Odom (31) on their heels.

With the exceptions of O'Neal and Fisher, all the players listed are still contributing this season without much meaningful decline in the quality of their play. Age is proving to be a virtue here.

Big Men
A major storyline entering this weekend are the recent returns of big men Andrew Bynum and Kendrick Perkins, after both underwent offseason knee surgery. Bynum has been in action for Los Angeles since Dec. 14 while Perkins made his return earlier this week

Last season, both players have become more important statistical producers in these head-to-head match-ups, as Bynum dropped 19 points and 11 rebounds in LA's win last year and Perkins poured in 13 points and 14 rebounds in Boston's win.

In five games against Boston since 2007-2008, Bynum is averaging 10.8 points and 7.6 rebounds. In six games against the Lakers since 2007-2008, Perkins is averaging 10.2 points and 9.3 rebounds. Sunday's game could turn on which of these bigs is able to win the match-up in the middle. Perkins, it should be noted, is still being worked back into Boston's rotation, and played just 20 minutes on Thursday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Recent History

In the most recent chapter of Lakers/Celtics, kicking off in 2007-2008, the two teams have split their six regular season meetings 3-3. Both teams are 2-1 at home. Over the six-game stretch, Boston has out-scored Los Angeles by 22 points, 585-563, or roughly 3.7 points per game.

Last year's meetings were both relatively low-scoring affairs and played to a cumulative draw, as each team escaped with a one point victory on the road. The Lakers beat the Celtics, 90-89, in Boston on Jan. 31. The Celtics beat the Lakers, 87-86, in Los Angeles on February 18th. It cannot get any closer than that.

Coaches

To further reinforce just how even these teams have been since 2007-2008, take a gander at the coaching records for the two coaches. Lakers coach Phil Jackson is 212-80 in regular season games while Celtics coach Doc Rivers is 213-78. Over the course of nearly 300 regular season games, that's just one win and two losses separating the two. Ridiculous.

In the playoffs, Jackson enjoys a slightly larger edge: holding a 46-21 record since 2007-2008, topping Rivers' 38-26. Head to head, however, Rivers holds a one-up on Jackson, leading 7-6.
Posted on: January 28, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2011 3:20 am
 

Celtics at Lakers: What it means for Boston

What Sunday's Celtics-Lakers game means for the Boston Celtics in the first rematch since the 2010 Finals. 

Posted by Matt Moore



On Sunday, Boston travels to L.A. for Modern Celtics-Lakers XX.  The 20th time these two have met since the 07-08 season (twice in the regular season for three years, plus 13 playoff games) will still represent what many feel is a clash of the two best teams in basketball currently, as well as the resumption of the oldest and greatest rivalry the sport has ever known. With Los Angeles at 33-13 and the Celtics 35-10, the two look every bit ready to see each other once more in the Finals, even with challengers like San Antonio and Miami in their path. 

This rivalry extends beyond the history and legacies of their franchises, though. There's a genuine dislike between the two teams, even if they share a mutual respect.  The Celtics' brutally tough, bullying defense and marksman like precision clashes organically with the Lakers' smooth ball movement and overpowering height and athleticism run through the Triangle.  Doc Rivers' explosive motivational coaching approach runs in contrast to Phil Jackson's zen-like trust in his players and press-conference tweaking.  And at the end of it, they just don't like one another. 

But as the two meet in the rare regular season game that actually does seem to matter (although afterward the loser will predictably dismiss such claims), what does this matchup actually mean for Boston? 

Just for Kicks

Kevin Garnett has never been one to back down from an opportunity for dramatics. As much as his reputation is for visceral toughness and unbridled intensity, he is also a showman.  While the legitimacy of his stanchion-smashing, cobra-weaving, "Anything is possible" lunacy is up for debate, he does know how to send a message in outright terms. Nothing proves that like the shoes it was announced Garnett would be wearing for the game. Yes, his shoes. Have a look, courtesy of Nice Kicks /Aaron Knows and The Basketball Jones :




On the tongue there? That's the Celtics all time record against the Lakers, 152-120. The shoe is delicately titled "Beat L.A.."  Kevin Garnett had shoes produced for one game.  If that doesn't serve as proof of Garnett's intentions in this game, nothing will. It's just his feet, but in basketball terms, that's as good as wearing a T-shirt that reads "I plan on kicking your face in because that's what my team does to your team."  It's an outright signal of the Celtics' entire attitude, which isn't just "We're going to win" but "We're going to win because we're better than you, our franchise is better than you, and our collective being in every way is superior to yours."

It's why the Celtics don't really respect Orlando, nor do they show real signs of respect for anyone. It's part of their own personal code of conduct. But it's amped to another level with L.A. That will always be part of it as the players seek to carry on the legacy of the game built into the rivalry. But it's even more prevalent because of how things were the last time these two stepped on a court together. 

Revenge and the Art of Maniacal Maintenance

Losing to the Lakers in the Finals was devastating for the Celtics. Losing a championship series is hard for any player, but these are the Celtics, a group of veterans trying to make good on promises to themselves as well as their fans that they would collect multiple rings once among players of their caliber. Beyond that, though, losing to L.A. creates a sense of failure beyond just disappointment. You've let down the players that came before you, the players who managed to beat the Lakers, who protected that legacy (despite the Lakers having won quite a few of their own throughout the years).  It's the darkest of all places, as Garnett told WEEI this fall about his mindset after Game 7: 
“Very dark, to be honest, dark. ‘Just leave me alone, let me be my myself. I don’t want to deal with anything right now. Let me just be in a dark place.’ Just the way I replay the game over and over in my mind, trying to get a resolution to some type of place to where you can settle with it. I never found it, but that’s what it is. I say it’s fuel to the fire. [Expletive? (Bleeped completely out] .“
via Sports Radio Interviews » Blog Archive » Kevin Garnett Goes To A Dark Place In The Off-Season .

Paul Pierce wasn't in a great place afterward either, when WEEI spoke to him about it: 
How long does it take a competitive person like you to get over a seventh-game loss in the NBA (Finals)? A week? A month? Ever?

“I still haven’t gotten over it. It’s tough. Because you envision back, and say, ‘If we could have done this different, that different in the game, it would have been a different outcome.’ So, it’s hard. You think about the what ifs and all of that. I don’t think you ever forget it.”

What’s the process? Do you go in your bedroom for a couple of days and sleep, and then don’t shave for a while, or don’t bathe, and then finally come out of the shell?

“I didn’t talk to people for a long time. I didn’t watch any basketball for a long time. I sort of kind of did go into a shell. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t even want to go out and eat for a while, because you just felt that bad about the loss. But then as I got back into the gym and working out, I just used it for motivation and just sort of loosened up from there.”
via Sports Radio Interviews » Blog Archive » Paul Pierce on Losing Game 7 .

This is just speculation, but I'm betting Glen Davis' reaction was to eat a muffin. Or a boar whole, or something. Regardless, things were pretty rough for the C's after that loss. 

Nothing will really provide the Celtics with a satisfied feeling of revenge short of winning the championship, preferably over the Lakers this spring.  But this game is a chance to send a message.  It's an opportunity to go into the Lakers' house and show them that they are still every bit as tough as they have been, and even tougher with their improved depth. It's a chance to illustrate that they are the ones in control of this rivalry, even after last spring, and that even though this is just a regular season game, they can dominate at will. 

This isn't about just showing L.A. who's boss, it's about testing themselves. Being 35-10 means little to them because they don't care about beating the Nets, or the Bobcats, or even the Magic or Heat.  They want to show they can beat the Lakers.  Everything else is just a means to get there. 

And in part, the Celtics want the opportunity to show that they're right: Kendrick Perkins was the reason they lost. 

Man Down, Ring Down

Losing Kendrick Perkins before Game 7 hurt .  One of the Celtics' biggest advantages against the Lakers as opposed to nearly every team in the league is their ability to counter the Lakers' length with their own interior defense.  Perkins isn't a behemoth like Andrew Bynum, but what he lacks in height he makes up for in toughness, physicality, and savvy.  Losing him meant the Celtics lost just enough of an edge down low.

At the end of the matchup considerations, though, is this: the Celtics were without a starter for Game 7 of the Finals.  That's enough to prompt anyone to keep an excuse at the back of their minds, even if they'll publicly give the other team credit.  Perkins means a lot to this team, and even in limited minutes now that he's back, you can see what he brings the team.  

Sunday is an opportunity to showcase what they look like at full-strength, should they stay healthy till then (which is far from guaranteed, this is the Celtics, after all).  Even with Shaquille O'Neal nursing an injury and Jermaine O'Neal still struggling through his knee problems, this is the Celtics, at their core.  Sunday provides an opportunity to show the difference in the Celtics with and without Perkins. Perkins wasn't even expected to be available for this game, supposedly out another week.

But of course Tuesday he pops up healthy.  That's how this works. Some, like myself, never questioned that Perkins would be back for this game. This game matters to him. You'll have a hard time keeping him out of a game like this, even in the regular season. Because this is like a dress rehearsal.

Trial Run

There's no way to duplicate the intensity of the Finals, but this will be as close as it will get for a while, at least until the Lakers visit Boston in a few weeks.  And it's a chance to test things for future reference. How will Shaquille O'Neal do against Andrew Bynum?  How will Nate Robinson do as backup against Shannon Brown or Steve Blake?  What can a healthy Marquis Daniels do against Ron Artest

These are the questions that will be in Doc Rivers' mind, as they try and get a regular season win, but also try and figure out some things to rely on should these two meet again.  There's no way to block it out, though they may try. "It's just another game" will likely be a refrain at practice and shootaround. Don't be fooled. This is the setup, the first act of the 2011 chapter of Lakers-Celtics.  Let's draw the curtain, and see what happens.




 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com