Boston Celtics: Morning Shootaround
--WEST READY TO WELCOME GREEN WITH OPEN ARMS--
Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West did more than spend three years in Boston together from 2004 to 2007. They cut their NBA teeth together and bonded on teams that struggled. When West signed in Boston as a free agent this offseason, he said Perkins welcomed him back with open arms, and the two shared neighboring lockers this season. Now, in a locker room rattled by Perkins' departure, it's West who is ready to welcome Jeff Green (and Nenad Krstic) with open arms. Ironically, West and Green were the centerpieces of the draft day trade in 2007 that brought Ray Allen to Boston and laid the groundwork for the Big Three to be assembled.
--FROM D-LEAGUE TO NATIONAL TV: JOHNSON'S WHIRLWIND DEBUT--
The call came at nearly the exact moment word began to trickle out that Boston had executed a jaw-dropping trade to send starting center Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday afternoon at the NBA's 3 p.m. deadline. The Celtics were desperate for an available big man and Chris Johnson's agent was yelling at him to catch the next flight from Bismark, North Dakota to Denver.
--HIGH SCHOOLS: TIERRA ALLEN'S MOVE A SWISH--
Tierra Allen's jumper is adequate, but she spends most of her time in the paint, where she uses exceptional strength to dominate the glass. Her court vision is superb, and while she is technically a forward, she has the feet of a perimeter player and can defend pretty much every position. "She's a very competitive person," Ray Allen said of his daughter. "She really commands her position in volleyball. She's very powerful. In basketball, she's not a great shooter or dribbler but she can control underneath."
VIDEO: The Association, Episode 3 | PTI: Cs still best? | The day after
DENVER -- The Boston Celtics suffered an 89-75 defeated at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, but the real loss happened hours before the game even tipped off:
-- FORSBERG: EMOTIONAL C'S COPE WITH LOSS OF PERKINS--
Just hours after Boston completed three deals as part of a roster overhaul, the most noteworthy of which sent starting center Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City in an NBA trade deadline shocker, the Celtics' locker room ran the gamut of grief. From denial to mild anger to depression to acceptance, Boston players struggled to grasp the loss of a core member of the Big Three era. "A tough day to play basketball, you know?" Garnett said after the Celtics fell 89-75 at Pepsi Center. "A very tough day to play basketball. To even concentrate, to be bluntly honest. It's not even about a teammate, it feels like we lost a family member today."
--MAY: ON THE CONTRARY, C'S DID QUITE WELL--
Examining the Celtics-Thunder trade on its merits, I think Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has once again come out on top. (There's also a first-rounder in there, as well -- a 2012 Clippers pick.) Let's begin with the article of faith that the team that gets the best player usually makes out the best in the trade. Green is the best player among the four. I can't imagine any general manager, including Presti, disputing that. Green is 24 years old. He was averaging 15.2 points a game, third on the Thunder behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. He started all 49 games he played, averaging 37 minutes per contest.
--LUNDBLAD: C'S RISK-TAKING COULD PAY OFF--
So just how valuable was Kendrick Perkins to the Celtics' defense? Let's focus on the post, where Perkins did most of his prowling on defense. In the previous three seasons, the Celtics' post-up defense ranked either first or second in the NBA in opponent points per possession. This season, with Perkins missing 43 games, Boston has dipped to fourth. In that span, Perkins established himself as an elite post defender. He ranked third in both 2007-08 and 2008-09 in points allowed per play in post-up situations. Last season, he was sixth.
--HOLLINGER: C'S GRADE OUT AS A B --
Everyone in Beantown is puzzled by this deal, but the Celtics desperately needed a wing and had a surplus of centers. Obviously, dealing Perkins was a risk, and getting the Clippers draft pick is of questionable value for a team trying to win a title right now. I wrote more about the move HERE, but suffice it to say I can understand the logic as long as the Celtics think it's the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, not the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers, who present the greatest threats to their title hopes this season.
--MAY: THIS TRIP COULD GET INTERESTING--
The Celtics' second Western swing of the season is a four-game journey through a pair of time zones, involving two trips in and out of California. It could turn out to be a memorable road trip for a lot of reasons, some of them even having to do with the games themselves. On the docket are two likely lottery teams, the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers, although one of the teams isn't playing like a lottery candidate at present. Also on the schedule are two probable playoff teams with their own internal issues: the Denver Nuggets (gee, wonder what that could be?) and the Utah Jazz (experiencing a coaching change for the first time since the waning days of the Ronald Reagan administration).
The toughest game on the trip? It might just be Tuesday's opener against Golden State. As Peter May writes: "Can you name the one NBA arena where Doc Rivers has never won as the head coach of the Celtics? As bad as the Warriors have been over the years, Oracle Arena has been Boston's personal charnel house. Hard as it may be to believe, the Celtics have lost their last six games in the Building near the Bay. Boston's last road win against the Warriors was on Dec. 29, 2003, a month before Jim O'Brien resigned."
--SOURCES: CELTICS IN MIX FOR HOUSTON'S BATTIER--
Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has publicly acknowledged the need for backcourt reinforcements thanks to Marquis Daniels' bruised spinal cord and Delonte West's spotty health all season. After the name of Cleveland's Anthony Parker surfaced Friday as a player that Boston has joined conference rival Chicago in pursuing, sources said Monday that the Celtics and Rockets have likewise discussed the prospect of Shane Battier moving East.
The Celtics might not have the assets necessary to land a player the caliber (and contract) of Battier, but the team is fearlessly kicking the tires of every (potentially) available swingman looking to beef up their own roster for, not only the second half, but the second season.
--NOT DONE YET, C'S MUST KEEP FOCUS ON NETS--
The way Doc Rivers describes the final game before the All-Star break, you get a mental picture of a Boston Celtics' locker room that resembles the chaotic opening scene in "Home Alone." Fifteen players, five coaches and a support staff all preparing to bolt in different directions. Many are going to Los Angeles for festivities surrounding the 60th All-Star Game, some are sneaking home for a few days, others are bolting for a long weekend in more tropical climes. The alarm clock -- which, unlike the McAllisters, Rivers would prefer not to sleep through -- is the 17-win New Jersey Nets, who visit TD Garden on Wednesday night for Boston's pre-break finale.
--C'S OFFER PRAISE FOR MEDAL RECIPIENT RUSSELL--
Celtics legend Bill Russell was among a group of 15 honorees awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Tuesday by president Barack Obama at a ceremony held at the White House on Tuesday. "When I think of Russell, I think of transcending," said Kevin Garnett. "Just how on, you take Bill Russell out [and] a lot of the young bigs don't even exist. I think if you take someone out of history a lot of us are not even here. Not only did he transcend on the court, but off the court, being pro-righteous in what he believed in and speaking up and standing up for that right. But [they were] different times back in the day, man, you know? I respect a lot of the [old players] just because of what they went through in order for us to be here today. So, Bill Russell is everything and I just want to say congratulations."
Related links: Presidential call for C's legend Russell | Transcript: Obama's comments
* Practice Notes: West tweaks wrist; Halloween for Shaq; KG: Doc's like cake
* Awards Watch: Rondo for MVP? C's in mix for postseason hardware
* Eyes on East: Heat hold off Pacers | Miller hurt | Bulls take down Bobcats
--CELTICS MAILBAG: ENCOUNTERING TURBULENCE--
The mailbag was brimming with letters Friday morning, which is not uncommon when the Celtics hit a rough patch during the regular season. Alas, sifting through the questions at the top of the 'bag revealed a simple theme: What the [expletive] are the Celtics going to do about all these injuries? There's no way to sugarcoat it. The Celtics were on top of the NBA world a mere 12 days ago after topping the Lakers at the Staples Center, then the injury bug chugged a Four Loko, stung everything in sight in the Boston locker room, and left the Celtics limping toward the All-Star break while losing their grasp on the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
--JACKSON: FINALLY, AN OVERNIGHT SENSATION--
He sat in the gym for the team of the city that has (finally) adopted him as one of its own. It's the eve of the night he took over the statistic that would make him the greatest 3-point shooter of all time. As he stood, ending his conversation with teammate Nate Robinson, reporters and videographers rushed him like he was Lindsay Lohan leaving a courtroom. Fifteen years deep into his NBA career and Walter Ray Allen has finally become an overnight sensation.
More headlines from Friday's coverage:
* Video: Ray's 5 good minutes with PTI | Is Ray in Larry's League?
* Caught on the rebound: Lakers owned glass vs. Celtics
--MacMULLAN: PREPARATION IS THE KEY TO ALLEN'S SUCCESS--
It's not that Ray Allen won't leave anything to chance; it's more that he simply can't. Allen did not hope he would break Reggie Miller's all-time 3-point shot record; he meticulously and laboriously prepared for it years in advance of the actual event, which should occur when the Boston Celtics play the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday in TD Garden with Miller in attendance as a TNT commentator. There were the obvious tasks of shooting thousands of shots from each spot behind the arc so that any attempt from any angle would feel familiar, rote, routine. The more subtle groundwork centered on a regimented diet, a controlled sleeping pattern, an increased emphasis on his rigid conditioning habits to strengthen his core and challenge his body.
--FORSBERG: WITH INJURIES, REMATCH LACKS HYPE FOR C'S--
If not for the oversized media contingent that descended upon Boston’s practice facility Wednesday, the Celtics might have been able to forget -- even if just temporarily -- that the Lakers were in town. Forgive Boston if it’s simply not in the mood to pen the latest chapter in the greatest rivalry in basketball. Eleven days after an epic meeting in Los Angeles -- the first encounter since Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals -- the Celtics have encountered so much turbulence that a matchup against a rival with revenge on its mind is truly the last thing Boston needs right now. Ravaged by injuries, struggling for consistency, and clinging to a suddenly tenuous half-game lead atop the Eastern Conference, Boston would have been just fine if it was, say, eight-win Cleveland visiting the Garden on Thursday.
--McMENAMIN: AFTER TRADE RUMORS, BIG GAME FOR LAKERS--
Oh, right, there's a game. The Los Angeles Lakers are in town to play the Boston Celtics but you wouldn't know it from all the attention being paid to some guy who may or may not want to keep playing in Denver. Despite Carmelo Anthony stealing some of the juice from Thursday's NBA Finals rematch, it remains a big game for this Lakers team that has played so many big games in the last three postseasons that a regular season date sometimes fails to register.
--PRACTICE NOTES: PIERCE (ILL) SITS OUT, C'S RUN WITH 10--
ust when it seemed like the Celtics' roster couldn't possibly be thinned any further, captain Paul Pierce sat out Wednesday's session due to illness and, while coach Doc Rivers expects him to play Thursday night against the Los Angeles Lakers, it was the latest setback for a Boston squad suddenly desperate for healthy bodies. The Celtics operated with a 10-man session as Pierce, Shaquille O'Neal (inflamed Achilles), Jermaine O'Neal (left knee surgery), Marquis Daniels (bruised spinal cord), and Semih Erden (right adductor strain) were all absent. All but Pierce have been ruled out for Thursday's game.
--More headlines from Wednesday's coverage:
* West and the wrist watch: Delonte's first full practice
* Conspi-Ray-cy theory: Did Allen wait to get record Thursday vs. LA?
* Flagrant tracker: Pierce's foul on Wallace upgraded to flagrant 1
* Allen and Ainge add unwavering support for Garnett
* KG's Blog: On Marquis, Super Bowl, All-Stars, and Charlotte loss
--BANGED UP C'S MIGHT NEED REINFORCEMENTS--
Even before his team throttled the Los Angeles Lakers late last month -- extracting a tiny measure of revenge for a Game 7 loss last June -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers leaned against a wall outside the visitors locker room at Staples Center and expressed great satisfaction about what the Celtics had been able to accomplish in the face of a litany of injuries. At the same time, Rivers expressed a need for his regular bench players to play together before the postseason, something that, because of the injuries, had been impossible to that point but seemed like it might be on the horizon. Rivers couldn't have imagined that things were about to go from bad to worse.
More Celtics and NBA headlines from Tuesday:
* Pierce gets his wish: Allen in the 3-point contest
* Back in the lineup, Perkins is punching the clock
* Celtics slip to No. 3 in latest ESPN power rankings
* Sources: Lakers-Nuggets initiate Melo trade talks
* LeBron scores 41 as surging Heat pull within a half game of Boston
* Magic's Howard irked by contract talk and upcoming free agency
--RAY OF SUNSHINE: ALLEN JOINS THE ALL-STARS--
This time around, for the first time in five years, Ray Allen won't have to wait by the phone. He knows he's going to the All-Star Game. Last year, well, he knew he wasn't going because of his rather un-Ray-like play. The three previous years he had made the midseason showcase as an injury replacement selection by NBA commissioner David Stern. Not this year. The Eastern Conference coaches (with the exception of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who couldn't vote for any of his own) named Allen one of the seven Eastern Conference reserves Thursday night.
--FOR BOSTON, A FOUR-STAR PERFORMANCE--
Doc Rivers felt so impassioned that his team deserved four All-Star reserves that a phone call to each of his Eastern Conference coaching brethren wouldn't suffice. He needed something more concrete. So he put pen to pad and wrote each one a letter. The Celtics were rewarded Thursday with four All-Star reserves as Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen were all named to the East squad by coach's vote.
--PRACTICE NOTES: SHAQ (ACHILLES) SITS OUT; D-WEST PROGRESS--
Shaquille O'Neal did not participate in Thursday's practice with Rivers noting, "He's 38," as the reason for his absence, before revealing a slightly more troubling ailment. ""I think it's his Achilles, it's inflamed," said Rivers. "So we'll see. We may play him [Friday vs. the Mavericks], we may not."
A look at Thursday's other headlines:
* TrueHoop: Breaking down the All-Star snubs
* Snapshot: Red Claws' Sims a D-League All-Star
* LeBron scores 51, Heat top Magic | Spurs best Lakers
--CELTICS MAILBAG: IT'S ALL GOOD FOR GREEN--
As the Celtics trek home from a successful four-game road trip, a three-game cushion atop the Eastern Conference standings in their checked baggage, there are plenty of reasons for optimism. Not only is the team playing inspired ball, particularly against the league's top competition, but it's nearing full health, with both Delonte West and Jermaine O'Neal pegged at (tentative) late-February returns. But there's also plenty of work ahead for the Celtics even before the All-Star break arrives. That includes a daunting home slate to start the month, featuring visits from the Mavericks and Magic -- two teams with victories over the Celtics this season. The following week, the Lakers and Heat visit, and after the All-Star festivities, Boston goes back out west for another four-game road trip. You can expect a few bumps in February, but optimism reigns at the moment.
--A quick look at more headlines:
* Technical Tracker: A look at Boston's 35 techs this season
* Payne: Rivers rewarded with patience in Robinson
* Heat Index: Miami can't match chemistry of Celtics and rivals
* ESPN LA: Artest denies trade chatter amidst Laker panic
--FORSBERG: AFTER A BIG JANUARY, CELTICS ARE NBA'S BEST--
The San Antonio Spurs have far and away the best record in basketball, but don't be deceived. The Boston Celtics are far and away the best team in basketball as the calendar flips to February. After Boston's 109-96 thumping of the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday at the Staples Center, there can be no argument. The Celtics wrapped up the month of January with a glossy 5-1 record against teams with records better than .500, including a 105-103 triumph over those very Spurs (which, if not for some careless final moments, wouldn't have been as close as the final score suggests). It's clear the Celtics have saved their best basketball for top competition. For the season, they have a 17-5 mark overall against teams above .500. In fact, against the seven other Eastern Conference teams that would currently qualify for the postseason, Boston boasts a 13-2 mark, falling only to Chicago (the second night of a back-to-back to wrap up a slate of six games in nine days in January) and Orlando (a Christmas Day battle in which Boston fumbled away a double-digit, second-half lead).
A look at the day's other top headlines:
* Power Rankings: Celtics stuck at No. 2 behind Spurs
* Pierce wants to face Allen while defending 3-point crown
* Rondo and his 'absolutely perfect game' vs. the Lakers
* The new Kobe Stopper? Same last name as the old Kobe Stopper
--WHAT TO WATCH FOR: CELTICS VS. LAKERS--
The Celtics and Lakers will be against each other Sunday, but ESPN Boston and ESPN Los Angeles joined forces to preview the matchup with a focus on Boston's success despite injuries, the Lakers losing in patches, Shaq's return to Hollywood, and predictions about Sunday's blockbuster. A sampling: "Boston has the emotional edge, but I think the Lakers are also sick of the whispers about lacking a true 'statement win' against the NBA's elite."
--A 'BIG'-TIME MATCHUP FOR CELTICS AND LAKERS--
Just more than seven months ago, the Boston Celtics lost Game 7 of the NBA Finals in Los Angeles. What's the biggest adjustment they've made since then? Adding three centers who each stand darn near 7 feet tall. The Celtics return to L.A. on Sunday to play the Lakers for the first time since being outrebounded by 13 and spending the postgame locker room drenched in salty tears rather than spraying champagne.
--LAKERS IN SEARCH OF FIRST BIG WIN--
There have been hundreds of highlights and big moments. There have already been plenty of big games. It's what hasn't happened for the Los Angeles Lakers this season that's becoming a little alarming: big wins. Oklahoma City Thunder? Eh … New Orleans Hornets on the road? Not bad, still eh … Those are good teams, not great ones. Those are teams the Lakers must keep down, not climb over.
Click HERE to read more in our Countdown to LA series.
--IT'S TIME THE WEST WAS WON--
The Celtics are heading out West. To which a seasoned observer might ask, "What took them so long?'' They go where the schedule sends them, and the schedule this season has them making their first real Western excursion in the final week of January. Usually they make their first trip between Christmas and New Year's. As a result, the Celtics will arrive in Portland for Thursday night's game at the Rose Garden having played the fewest road games against the Western Conference -- three -- of any Eastern Conference team.
--ON POINT: RONDO THE KEY FOR HOT-SHOOTING C'S--
med and, somewhat exclusive, 20,000-career point club. Yet at no point in their respective All-Star laden careers -- with Garnett being a slight exception -- have they shot the ball better than they have this season. Pierce (51.4 percent), Allen (50.5), and O'Neal (67.7) entered Tuesday night's tilt against the Cleveland Cavaliers averaging the highest field goal percentages of their careers (a combined 44 seasons and counting), while Garnett was not far off, shooting 53.4 percent from the field, nearly identical to his career high (53.9, set during the 2008 championship campaign). But wait, aren't these Celtics supposed to be an "old" team?
And a handful of headlines:
* Shaq travels with team; Daniels expected Wednesday
* Celtics sought change in upcoming road trip
* Odds Calculator: Print up those playoff tickets
* Celtics fourth on Forbes list of NBA's most valuable franchises
* Video: Midseason report card | Perkins on First Take
And a couple of non-Boston links with local ties:
--THIBS SHIES AWAY FROM DESERVED PRAISE--
After being passed over for several NBA head coaching jobs the past few years, it would be easy to understand if Tom Thibodeau stood in front of the assembled media every day and gloated just a little bit. After all, his team came into Wednesday night 17 games over .500 and 13 games up in the Central Division. In just a few short months, the veteran coach has turned the Bulls into one of the best defensive teams in the league and has gained the type of trust from his players that usually takes several seasons to earn. But when you see the way Thibodeau carries himself day in and day out, you realize one thing very quickly. It's the same thing that his players have grown to learn and appreciate about him since the day he was hired. Thibodeau is a lot of things, but a self-promoter isn't one of them.
--NUMBERS GAME: SHOULD LAKERS RETIRE SHAQ'S JERSEY?--
First things first, Shaquille O'Neal will eventually get his jersey retired at Staples Center. The Lakers' rule for retiring a player's jersey is that the player must be a Hall of Famer and there is no question O'Neal will be a first-ballot inductee. The difference between O'Neal and other Lakers greats is O'Neal will have to wait five years until he is officially inducted in the Hall of Fame to have his jersey retired.
--RIVERS FEELS SCOTT'S PAIN IN CLEVELAND--
In the days following a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals last June, Celtics coach Doc Rivers famously (albeit unknowingly) sent a call from President Barack Obama to his voice mail, which tells you all you need to know about his desire for consolatory chitchat. So imagine Rivers' vexation when his cell phone buzzed virtually nonstop for roughly a month in early 2007. Like Obama, those dialing were well-intentioned, hoping to impart some friendly 'keep your head up' advice as Rivers and the Celtics endured a franchise-worst 18-game losing streak from Jan. 7-Feb. 11. "It's hell, everybody is calling you," Rivers said after Monday's practice, when the Celtics prepared for Tuesday's visit from the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that has lost its last 17 games.
--PRACTICE REPORT: SHAQ LIKELY OUT 2 GAMES; DANIELS 50/50 VS. CAVS--
Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal (hip) and reserve swingman Marquis Daniels (family issue) sat out Monday's 75-minute session and, while coach Doc Rivers dubbed the latter "50/50" for Tuesday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, it looks like O'Neal will miss at least the next two games. O'Neal tweaked his right hip during the first quarter of Friday's win over the Utah Jazz. He did not travel with the team for Saturday's loss in Washington and Rivers suggested the team will not take him on the start of a four-game west coast road trip later this week.
--RECAP: NETS RALLY TO EXTEND CAVS' LOSING STREAK--
The Cavaliers have lost 21 straight road games, matching the team record set from Jan. 13 to April 14, 2003. Their last road win came in New Jersey on Nov. 9. "It's tough to take the loss because I thought our guys played hard enough to get the win," Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. "We have to keep playing hard and applying all the things we talked about at both ends of the floor. We have to know it's going to work out for us, we're going to have a breakout game. Right now we're losing some of these battles but in the long run we'll hopefully win the war."
--MAY: WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN THE SECOND HALF--
Five things to watch for in the second half of the 2010-11 season for the Boston Celtics (including the returns of Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West, and two battles with the Los Angeles Lakers). One thing not to watch: a rerun of the Saturday night debacle in Washington, D.C.
--FORSBERG: HANDING OUT MIDSEASON GRADES--
The Boston Celtics zipped through the midseason checkpoint last week, edging the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday in Game 41 of the 82-game regular season. Boston then extended its winning streak to five Friday against the Utah Jazz before stumbling Saturday night in falling to the Washington Wizards. As the Celtics start the downhill portion of their regular-season schedule, an Eastern Conference-best 33-10 record in tow, we hand out midseason marks. For a glimpse at how each player progressed, be sure to check out our first-quarter marks from mid-December.
--PAYNE: C'S LACKING KILLER INSTINCT--
Maybe Shaquille O'Neal knew what was coming. After helping the Celtics to a closer-than-it-should-have-been 86-82 triumph over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, O'Neal spoke at length about the team's struggles against weaker opponents. "[We] can't keep playing with people," O'Neal said. "Great teams stay dominant at home, really beat the teams they're supposed to beat, and stay above .500 on the road. We're supposed to beat [the Pistons] every time, but not by three, not by five, but [by double digits]. We can't keep playing with people. However, we're still learning each other, we're getting better every game. "We just have to learn to put our foot on people's necks and kill 'em right away. We can't keep playing with people."
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