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Tag:Doc Rivers
Posted on: January 17, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2011 12:01 am
 

Celtics close out Magic and a question of respect

Celtics' Big 3 take over down the stretch, as the Celtics regain the upper hand. Question is, is there a respect gap between Boston and Orlando?
Posted by Matt Moore




Welcome back, Kevin Garnett. And welcome back, playoff atmosphere, TD Northbank Garden. And welcome back, Celtics closing out big games. After the Celtcs blew a sizeable lead on Christmas to the Magic, they turned the tables on Orlando Monday night, with Kevin Garnett at the center of it all. Garnett snatched a huge steal to seize the game, throwing the outlet to Ray Allen who managed to run off several seconds before being fouled with the C's up 3. Celtics defeat Magic, 109-106 .

But Garnett's play was so much more than that in his return. And it was more than the 19 points and 8 rebounds he put in on the stat sheet. The defensive energy picked up as Garnett started barking orders, and the Big 3 looked very much like the components who ripped through the Eastern Conference last year with Rondo also doing his part. But it was the Big 3 who sealed this. Pierce with a combination of his patented pump-fake to draw the foul and his patented corner jumper set the Celtics up for their three-point advantage, but it was Ray Allen constantly nailing tough jumpers off multiple screens which allowed the Celtics to match Orlando three-for-three. Then Garnett with the steal, and that's your game. 

So the question you're left with, after all the history between these two teams, and with the season series knotted at 1-1 is this: Does Boston respect Orlando? And the feeling you get is no. Not at all. Not even now. 

Kevin Garnett was his usual bullying, screaming, spitting self, and at one point he and Dwight Howard had a staredown of sorts which epitomized the two players. Garnett mouthing and snapping like a guard dog, staring down Howard. Howard laughing and confused at what Garnett was doing. In the end, Howard walked away, which you'd criticize him for, if it weren't for his technical foul situation and the need for him to stay in the game. But it was very much a study in contrast of personality, if not character. Garnett not only refuses to back down to anyone, but constantly chests into everyone. He'll start a confrontation with anyone (the question of him ending said conflicts is another, more complicated issue that involves a lot of "hands up, walk away" behavior).  Howard on the other hand, is smiling, pleasant, still the laughing man-child, even as his status as a franchise leader requires more out of him. And perhaps for that, along with the equally complicated issue of how the officials treat both teams, Boston continues to appear to take Orlando as a second-rate squad.

For all the success, Orlando's had, Boston holds this attitude still. After the Magic were eliminated from the Finals in 2009, Paul Pierce referred to the Magic as "poodles." This after Orlando had eliminated the Celtics in seven games without the services of Kevin Garnett, which allowed both the teams and the fans to dismiss the win entirely. This despite the Magic also having considerable regular season success against the Celtics as well, and eliminating the Celtics on their home floor in a Game 7. But the fact they needed seven games spoke loudly to many. That attitude was furthered when Boston easily dispatched Orlando in the 2010 playoffs. So the two have quite a bit of history, even with all the changes to both teams, and yet there is still an attitude gap with Boston. 

But that could be more about the Celtics in general than the Magic specifically. There's a begrudging respect for the Lakers after being defeated by them last spring. But the Celtics rely on their brash, overtly physical, cocky attitude to take over games mentally. To surrender that attitude with any measure of respect would decrease their edge. 

So what will it take for Orlando to win Boston's respect? No amount of regular season wins, or close losses, will do it. They have to topple them in the playoffs, with the Celtics at full-strength. And with Kendrick Perkins close to returning, Delonte West back soon after that, and the C's still capable of that extra gear that blasted them through the entire East last year, it's hard to see Orlando hitting that gear. Respect has to be earned, and the Magic need so much to go right in order for them to do just that. 

Some final game notes: 
  • Bizarre game for Jason Richardson. Started off terribly, forcing shots and looking lost in his role. Then he started to step into shots in the second half, and looked on his way to a solid game. Then he was put on Ray Allen for a long stretch in the fourth instead of J.J. Redick (who may be the best Ray Allen defender in the league), and Allen just destroyed him. He had no idea how to handle him or the multitude of screens the Celtics routinely send Allen off.
  • That Allen wound up 8-11 shows you how good he is. J.J. Redick was right with him on every attempt when he was on the floor, but Allen adjusted, even hitting shots off the dribble.
  • Ryan Anderson was the story in the first half for the Magic, but the Celtics adjusted rapidly in the second half, allowing Davis to extend further than his usual range to guard him on the perimeter. Then, when Anderson attempted to dribble around Davis and his round mound, help was constantly there, either from the corner or the elbow. Just enough to take a not-great-dribbler off his dribble and end the possession. Great adjustment by Doc Rivers.
  • Shaquille O'Neal is getting so much credit from people for his play. And while the offensive work with Rondo is nice (who can't score with Rondo helping you?), O'Neal had as many turnovers as rebounds Monday night. Two.
  • Dwight Howard was great on offense (33 points) and did his work on the glass (13). But zero blocks for the reigning defensive player of the year and he was missed inside on several possessions. Howard seemed to A. want to avoid early fouls and B. want to extend too much to attack the Celtics at the point of paint penetration, instead of managing the rim defense.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 11:06 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2010 11:20 pm
 

Cavs fans thank Rivers for beating Heat, LeBron


Posted by Matt Moore

Had the Boston Celtics, hated rivals of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the past three years, not eliminated the Cavaliers unceremoniously, there's a chance , again, a chance that LeBron James would not have left Cleveland. The Cavs were a fine team last year, and it's not impossible to see them getting past Orlando in the Conference Finals, nor L.A. who they swept in the regular season. It's not beyond the realm of possibility. It's just as likely that James would have left regardless, that he'd decided months ago, that it was long ago decided. It's also possible he could have won a championship with the Cavs and then walked away with a clean conscience.

But still, the Cavaliers fans don't love the Celtics, right? They don't respect and value the team that walked all over them, bullied them, right?

Well, okay, maybe a little. As Dustin Hoffman mumbled in Dick Tracy , the enemy of my enemy is my friend. From Cleveland blog Waiting For Next Year :



OK, then.

Cleveland? Can we talk? As friends do? Great. See, the thing is, Doc Rivers is a really nice man and an honorable dude. And it's almost impossible to really dislike him. But come on. I get that you're angry with LeBron, but the Celtics should still be "the other bad guys" to Cleveland. Take all the satisfaction in the world that the Celtics took LeBron and the Heat down a peg. But Doc Rivers isn't the good guy here. In your situation with LeBron? There are no good guys except you, the loyal fans.

Posted on: October 20, 2010 9:44 am
Edited on: October 20, 2010 11:48 am
 

Shootaround 10.20.10: Knocked and slapped

Knicks knocking at the Melo door again, Childress knocked out with a bad digit, and Evan Turner slapped in the face, all in today's shootaround.
Posted by Matt Moore


We'll have more this morning on a report from ESPN NY's Chris Sheridan that the Knicks are back in the Melo chase . One thought off the bat. They can trade for a player the Nuggets want more, but unless they land a draft pick they're still toast. The McGrady trade keeps stubbing Donnie Walsh's toe.

Knickerblogger is concerned that Raymond Felton may not be much of an improvement over Chris Duhon. Last night was a particularly strong showing from Felton, and he looked very much like the kind of point guard the Knicks have needed for years.

A breakdown of the postions in Rick Adelman's system. The focus on the big in the pinch post is going to be why Brad Miller will be so comfy there.

Lots of coaches with health concerns this week. Doc Rivers had a test come back negative for cancer , which is great news. Doug Collins missed last night's Sixers game while dealing with lingering effects of a concussion .

Josh Childress fractured a finger last night and out at least a week but it won't be too long. It's ridiculous that these guys play at this level with broken fingers.

Ted Leonsis thinks Josh Howard is a respected leader . There's lots of mockery this morning about that, but people forget that despite his off-court issues, he's thought of well by teammates, and that guys like Stephen Jackson are perennial captains for their teams.

Jerry West thinks maybe he should have drafted Amar'e Stoudemire instead of Drew Gooden. In other news, I should have had oatmeal this morning instead of eating rusty nuts and bolts from a '75 Chevy.

Al Harrington says he'll be ready for opening night . No word on whether his defense is making a similar commitment.

Marcus Thornton's in a slump, which shouldn't surprise people . Shootres in their second year take a step back sometimes, and the fact that he's got a new coach and a new offensive system probably complicates things as well.

And here's Evan Turner getting slapped with baby powder. So that happened.


Posted on: October 19, 2010 7:57 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 7:54 pm
 

Shootaround 10.19.10: Magic's Godfather offer

Posted by Ben Golliver
Posted on: September 30, 2010 9:41 am
 

Shootaround 9.30: D-Howard makes children's music

Posted by Royce Young
  • Dwight Howard has a children's CD coming out. The album is called "Shoot for the Stars" and some of the tracks on it include: "Whoop There It Is," "U Can't Touch This," "Banana Boat" and "ABC." I smell Grammy.
  • The trade rumors aren't bothering AK-47: "First of all, there's not much I can do," Kirilenko told the Deseret News. "Secondary, I don't really care what the people (are) thinking. My job is to play basketball, and it's as simple as that ... I don't really care about rumors," Kirilenko added. "I spoke with (Jazz general manager) Kevin (O'Connor) and Jerry (Sloan), and they said, 'Look, we don't have any intentions' ... So, I'd rather believe them than the rumors."
  • Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com: "At Doug Collins' request, Reggie Miller delivered a message to the 76ers on the second day of training camp Wednesday. As the NBA's all-time leader in made 3-pointers (2,560) and one of the best clutch shooters in league history before retiring in 2005, Miller would seem to have plenty of cache with today's players because of his on-court accomplishments. And he more than held their attention as he talked and demonstrated what he was saying, according to those in the gym at the time."
  • Jeff Pearlman of SI writes that he wants his kids to watch Eddy Curry so they won't be like him: "That's why, as Curry collects $11.3 million for sitting on the bench this season, I'll tell my kids all about him. "See that guy," I'll say. "The one in street clothes eating the hoagie. His name is Eddy Curry. He's young, he was wealthy, he's gifted -- and he's invisible."
Posted on: September 29, 2010 2:53 pm
 

Doc Rivers expects more from Celtics

Celtics coach not thrilled with C's condition, looking to compete consistently throughout the season.Posted by Matt Moore

The Celtics know the score. They know what they're doing. They know how to win titles. They have experience. They don't need practice. We're talking about practice. Okay, bad example. But training camp means very little to a team that really couldn't care less until the flowers are blooming in April. But apparently, there is a floor the Celtics shouldn't drop to, and according to Doc Rivers, they're flirting with it.

Rivers wasn't exactly blooming with pride over his older club's condition. From the Boston Globe :

"...I think that we’re not in great shape personally. I don’t think that we’ve come back in the condition that we want. So we’re going to have to come back in better shape."

This goes in tandem with other comments he made in reference to the Celtics' late-late-late last second surge last season. In essence, they lost the championship because Game 7 was on the road. Game 7 was on the road because they weren't in a position to get those wins mid-season. From the Boston Herald :

“What we did last year was play Game 7 on the road,” Rivers said. “If Game 7 was in Boston Garden it would have been very different. So that was on us. Last year was out of necessity. It wasn’t planned. It was planned if we had the injuries, then we had to make a tough call to start resting guys in the middle of the season. I hope as coach I don’t have to make that call this year."

Doc is not messing around.

What this could mean is a Celtics team that coasts less during the late winter months, a period in which the Celtics admitted they were "bored" last year. The competition is higher this year, with the Bulls, Knicks, and, you may have heard, Heat all improved considerably. As a result, Rivers likely wants to have his team back in 2008 form, seeking to destroy each and every team on the schedule. That's the kind of effort it may take this season. Rolling through Christmas and coasting through March should be a strategy of last restort, not the prototype. For all the talk of how the Celtics don't care or worry about the regular season, the C's late season swoon obviously took its toll on Rivers, who very nearly failed to return this season.

So now we get to see what kind of C's are ready for the regular season. Because it would appear that they did not dedicate themselves physically to another run over the summer. This is the time for that. The window is closing on the Celtics. If they want to toss a brick in the frame to prop it open, they're going to need to toss the pounds and work to be in the best condition they can be. The stakes are higher, now.
Posted on: September 22, 2010 5:00 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2010 7:16 pm
 

Pop Quiz: Are the Celtics too old?

Posted by Matt Moore

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

Are the Celtics too old to win the title?


Too old for what? I suppose that's the real question here. Too old to win the East? Probably not. Too old to get homecourt advantage? Surely not. Too old to win the title?

That's a tough one. 

Let me take you back to a year ago. The Celtics began the season trying to regain their pride after a loss to the then-surprising Magic in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. And to be honest? They didn't look very convincing, even on their winning streak as they cruised to the division title. In key games, Garnett looked slow. They lost to a Kobe buzzer-beater. Even when they later got revenge for that game, it seemed to set a tone. And that was before the second half, where they looked terrible. Every Boston fan on the planet will tell you that it was just a lack of resolve, a sense of boredom, and that those games simply didn't matter to them, so their effort wasn't there. That's probably partially true. It's also partially true that even bored the Celtics should have beaten the Nets and beaten them easily in every game they played. There were problems for Boston. Tons of them. Most notably, they were swept by the Hawks, and each time it was a late run by the Hawks featuring the transition game that did them in. The Celtics simply couldn't run with them. Everyone put a plug in them, except their fans, a handful of media, and Nate Jones. 

And then the playoffs came, and all of that thought process went out the window.

The San Antonio Spurs throughout the years had drifted and coasted to second half finishes, and yet always seemed to find themselves there at the end for years. But there was no precedent for the rope-a-dope the Celtics seemingly pulled last year. Even the first few games against Miami in the first round seemed close. But then Kevin Garnett got into a fight which lead to a suspension, and from there on out, the Celtics destroyed everyone when they needed to when they came across them, all the way up until the 4th quarter of Game 7 against LA. The pitbulls had regained control of the pack, and everyone that said Boston only lost to the Magic due to Garnett's injury in 2009 was vindicated. 

That was last year. The Celtics are now a year older. Ray Allen is 35, Garnett 34, Pierce 33. They added two centers who long ago left the comfort of 30. Rajon Rondo is still young and chipper, alongside Glen Davis and Nate Robinson. But they put on a lot of miles the last two years, which will add to the fatigue factor. 

But then, Shaquille O'Neal says that old teams win titles. Which is pretty on par. Experience matters in this league, and the Celtics have a world of it. 

How old are the Celtics in comparison to other title teams? Since 2004-2005, championship team starters averaged to be 27.4 years old. The oldest were naturally the Spurs in 2007. Their starting five in the Finals that year began the season at an average age of 30.6 years old. The Celtics enter this season at 30.2 years old if we project Kendrick Perkins as the starter for a theoretical Finals and 32.8 if we go with Shaquille O'Neal, the probably opening night starter. The Celtics, in essence, are trying to be the second oldest team since 2004 to win the title. It's relatively easy to argue that the competition is greater now than it was in 2007, with the Pau-Gasol-era Lakers, the Heat, and the Magic in play, but those are the numbers. 

So what's the answer? In case you haven't been able to tell, this is simply not a quiz with a correct answer. If you are to make the case that the Celtics have finally reached the threshold where wisdom becomes physical limitation, you're probably on par. We saw signs of it last year, the Celtics just showed a remarkable amount of grit in powering through it and committing to the team concept (again). If you were to make the case that the Celtics are nowhere near done, not after last year's performance, who could argue with you?

And that's where we hit the Heat. 

Of course.

The Heat are going to be the antithesis for the Celtics this season, and in a lot of ways they are polar opposites. The Celtics rely on players that are very clearly defined in their roles (Rondo is the point guard, distributer, floor general. Garnett the defensive motivational speaker. Pierce is the go-to scorer. Allen is the perimeter marksman, etc.). The Heat have a nebulous lineup that may end up featuring a super freak small forward at point guard and their starting center is an inexperienced Canadian who is 6'9'' (Perkins is 6'10''). The Celtics are committed to a defensive philosophy of sacrifice and communication. The Heat are betting heavily on overwhelming opponents with skill and ability. The Celtics are primarily an old team. The Heat are primarily a mid-20's team. The Celtics have experience. The Heat are inexperie....wait. No they're not. Dwyane Wade's won a title and James has been in the Finals. But that's the perception. 

It's an interesting corollary that our society will define age with physically limited, but also often associate it with toughness. If you make it that long, you must have thick skin. And that's the area where most people doubt the Heat and believe in the Celtics. The Celtics are betting that you'll have an easier time drawing breath at your young age, but that they'll be the last one standing when the bell rings. 

I closed the door on the Magic's window and needless to say, team bloggers are not buying. I was ready to shut the door on the Celtics last year, and they slammed it back in my face, walked in, made themselves a sandwich and tracked mud on my carpet. I'm not willing to bury the Celtics until the heart's stopped beating. Age can be cruel, but for the Celtics, it's a beast they can live with. They remain contenders to the ring until that last breath gives out. 
Posted on: August 30, 2010 2:24 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2010 8:08 pm
 

NBA Pop Quiz: What can Shaq contribute?

Posted by Matt Moore

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question..

What can Shaq contribute to the Celtics?

We're going to make it through the rest of this entire blog post without using a single nickname. We're going to do it. It's going to be hard, but I believe if we stick together, we can make this happen. If you're ready, we'll begin.

Shaquille O'Neal is ten years past his prime. I'm not exaggerating, either. That's not a figure of speech. His prime was literally the 1999-2000 season, meaning he's coming up on the anniversary of the season after his prime. In '99-'00 he averaged 29.7 points per game, 13.6 rebounds per game, with 3.8 assists and 3.0 blocks while averaging 40 minutes a game. He shot 57.4% from the field. He had a 30.6 PER that season, good for 6th among centers playing at least 30 minutes per game, all-time. O'Neal will never be considered in the same hallowed breath as Wilt Chamberlain, but it's close, and that season he was.

He really was the most dominant player in the NBA. But as I said, that was over ten years ago. What did O'Neal contribute last year? First, it's important not to look at it from a per-game standpoint. His position with the Celtics isn't based on what he can give them game to game, it's based on what he can give them minute to minute. And his per-minute numbers were great. If we project 20 minutes for O'Neal while Kendrick Perkins recovers from knee surgery, splitting time with Jermaine O'Neal, and we look at how he did with those minutes last season we get the following: 10.3 points per 20 minutes, 5.7 rebounds with 1 block. That's a pretty good night for a guy his age. 10 points, 6 boards, with a block. That's what you want out of a part-time veteran center. Consider Zydrunas Ilgauskas, three years younger than O'Neal and a part-time center for the Miami Triad, who averaged only 7.1 and 5.2 rebounds last season for the same Cavs team per 20 minutes.

The biggest concern is that with O'Neal's size, he should be able to produce higher rebounding numbers. And for the Celtics, he'll have to. The Celtics were a paltry 13th in Defensive Rebounding Rate (percentage of all defensive rebounds available that were snagged) last season, and with Perkins down and Kevin Garnett another year older, they'll need even more from O'Neal in that area. His size should give him the ability to contribute more in the rebounds area and less in the points section. But that means sacrifice, which leads us to the biggest question mark about what O'Neal brings to the Celtics.

O'Neal has said absolutely everything you'd want to hear from him this summer. He talks about knowing his role, about not getting caught up in ego, and buying into the whole Celtics mythos built around team play and sacrifice. Execution is the tough part. It won't be difficult in the beginning, when everyone's settling in. But if O'Neal is playing well, scoring points but not collecting rebounds, and the team struggles in the win-loss column beneath their reasonably high expectations, O'Neal is more likely to start grumbling about getting the ball more. After all, if he's scoring, that's a good thing, right? But the issue is that O'Neal can't be considered the go-to, simply because he can't put in 30 to 40 minutes a night. The rest of the offense needs to stay in sync and not be bogged down trying to facilitate the guy playing 15 to 20. The Celtics have scorers. They need to maintain their defense and improve their rebounding, and they need to do it within both the tactical and emotional parameters they've already developed.

But unlike other emotionally volatile players the Celtics could have turned to, O'Neal does have one good aspect of his very large personality. He's a known quantity. Even if he doesn't follow through with the humble subjugation of his game for the good of the contender, you know what you're getting with O'Neal. He's going to miss a certain amount of games, he's going to look like dynamite for several games, and he's going to bring the attitude the Celtics want. They need to be arrogant, confident; the team that knows that it's a step above the teams in front of them. They thrive on that attitude, it helps fuel their game. And that's why in the end, signing Shaquille O'Neal wasn't that much of a risk. He's at once an antithesis and just what the doctor ordered. Now they just have to see how medicine goes down.

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