“There’s No Way”
April 16, 2009

The news continues to trickle out on KG.  I’m holding out hope for a Willis Reed moment… but Doc is not instilling any confidence.  The first video on Celtics.com’s website (to the right) is Doc talking about KG’s injury.  This is pretty definitive:

It’s not official if he’s out for the playoffs, but it’s official as far as I’m concerned.

Doc goes on to say “There’s no way” when asked if he anticipates KG coming back… but then he also sounds like the door is, in fact open for a return.  Then, Frank Dell’Apa says there are TWO injuries KG is dealing with.

Kevin Garnett will miss the NBA playoffs and likely have surgery on his right knee during the offseason, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said today.

The surgery will be to remove a spur in Garnett’s knee. But a strained popliteus tendon — and not the spur — has affected Garnett’s inability to return from a Feb. 19 injury. The tendon strain must heal naturally, and has taken longer than anticipated.

This is driving me nuts.  And I’m not really talking about the injury anymore.  It’s just the various reports… and the confusion.  Over on CSN, The Duke is begging Doc to be more Belichickian. I hope he listens, and stops talking about this… just for our sanity’s sake.

Wyc Wants KG on Bench
April 16, 2009

During an interview with WEEI this afternoon, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck said the team wants Garnett to remain a presence during games even though he won’t play. Garnett chooses to watch games from the locker room rather than the bench when he is injured because it frustrates him to not be able to contribute. Grousbeck said the Celtics want him to change his policy during the postseason.

“I think that’s essential, and I think we’re going to ask him to do that,” Grousbeck said. “I think Doc, Danny [Ainge], everybody will make it clear that we’d like his presence out there. He is a warrior in every way. I mean, unusual sounds strong, but he is the most different guy any of us has ever met over here. He just does it in his way, and it works, and he became Defensive Player of the Year, MVP formerly, and now a champion. It’s Kevin Garnett, it’s not anybody else. There’s never been another one like him.

“If he needs to sit in the locker room just to be able to keep his head together, we can respect that. And it actually worked pretty well for us in the regular season. But I think, playoff-time, we’d like to have him out on the bench.”

I agree with Wyc. KG needs to be out there supporting the team.

According to Marc Spears, surgery is now being considered, but there is no timetable.

KG Gone for Entire Playoffs?
April 16, 2009

Everyone bow your head and pray.

Dammit.  Kevin Garnett will NOT play in the first round of the playoffs… and maybe more.

Update via the Globe:

An NBA source confirmed to the Globe this morning that Garnett was only about 70 percent healed from the knee injury, which occured during a Feb. 19 game in Utah, and that the Celtics All-Star would likely miss the entire postseason.

Garnett worked out his injured right knee this morning, Rivers said, after which the coach made the radio proclamation: “After watching him run, there’s no way. So, we’re going to move without him. And the way I saw him move today guys, I don’t know if he’ll be ready.”

Rivers added that Garnett would continue to get treatment in the hopes that he would be able to return at some point.

“At this point after going through all the rehab and looking so good last week … to where he’s at today if he can’t get through biking and working out without swelling and stiffness … I just don’t know how he can play in the playoffs,” Rivers said.

Garnett’s reaction?

“He was frustrated. He was mad at me, mad at everybody. Then he understood,” Rivers said. “He put up a fight. He’s really frustrated, but that’s Kevin. That’s why we got him, because he cares so much.”

Avery Johnson offers his take of the situation on ESPN.

We’re really looking forward to the REAL story of what’s going on here.

The inspirational comment of the morning goes to DRJ:

We can do this thing, and now if/when we do, it will be the greatest story of all.

Pre-Game News
April 15, 2009

Here’s the latest from Doc courtesy the Celtics Twitter page:

“I don’t really care (who we play in the first round), I just want us to play well.”

“Leon feels great. I’m gonna play him as much as he can handle (tonight).”

“I dont think he’ll (KG) be 100%, but his intensity will be 100%.”

And Jess Camerato says Ray Allen will file a grievance for his suspension. By the way – Ray and Paul are not playing tonight. Rondo will see limited minutes.

Encouraging Signs
April 15, 2009

 (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

As far as I’m concerned, there are 3 things about which we should be very encouraged after last night’s game.  (4 if you count me busting out proper grammar for the opening sentence.  Hooked on Phonics worked for me)

Tony Allen

He filled the stat sheet in 39 minutes. 18 points on 8 of 14 shooting, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals.  He looked in aggressive but in control.  He played with no hint of worry about his injured thumb.  He, in short, did everything we wanted Tony Allen to do all year.  As impressive as Paul Pierce was last night, I think the story of the game was Tony Allen playing as well as he did.  If THIS is the Tony Allen we’ll have for the playoffs, then the second unit is going to kill other teams.  Think about Stephon Marbury’s recent improvement, Eddie House’s deadly shooting and Big Baby’s marked improvement.  Now add last night’s Tony Allen to that mix.  That’s one hell of a second unit.  And we haven’t even talked about Leon Powe… whose return last night was also very encouraging.

The first round

Briefly piggy-backing on Chuck’s post-game analysis… I think it’s clear that the Celtics without Ray and KG are still probably a 6 seed in the playoffs.  And let me stop the people who will feel the urge to comment right there… I’m very well aware of the Hawks series last year.  But this year is much different.  The 76′ers are not the Hawks.  The Celtics are not last year’s Celtics.  The 76′ers were playing for something last night:  playoff position and to send a message.  They accomplished neither in front of their home crowd.

Kevin Garnett

I’m going to keep marching on as one of the few people around this town that isn’t developing an ulcer over KG’s knee. It’s not that I don’t understand why some people are worried, I’m just focusing on what Danny Ainge said yesterday.

“When Kevin plays is his decision,” Ainge said yesterday. “But I think Kevin (right knee) plays once the playoffs start. Ultimately, it’s just his decision. Could Kevin play right now?. Absolutely. But the question is whether it is in his best interests. I don’t think there’s anyone out there who feels he can’t play. It’s just a hot topic right now…

“Nothing is worse,” Ainge said. “It’s just a matter of identifying the best opportunity for his return. Every two or three days we have this discussion.

“It hasn’t taken a turn for the worse, but we want to give him the best chance once the playoffs start.”

I’m not sure how much of it is spin and how much of it is fact.  I think the Celtics are well aware that KG has only so many minutes left in that knee this year, so there’s no point in playing him more than they have to.

So with that, I full expect KG to be back on Saturday.  I expect him to start and play hard.  But I also expect him to sit after about 6 minutes… and maybe not come back until midway through the 2nd quarter (and only after sufficient warmup… maybe on the Brian Scalabrine memorial stationary bike on the sideline).  The C’s will probably look to pull KG from the game once they have a lead they feel can be sustained by the rest of the team.  I think they’ll use that same approach for the first round… maybe increasing his minutes a little in each game.  Then they’ll have him as fresh as possible for that assumed 2nd round matchup against Orlando… which is bad news for Orlando because that will allow the C’s to play Dwight Howard straight up again.  That’s been a winning formula for the C’s.

So kick back and relax everyone.  The season ends tonight.  The REAL season begins on Saturday.  And there’s plenty of encouraging news out there.

Herald:  Pierce deep sixes SixersWizards scouting report |  Globe: Pierce busy in win Wizards thumbnails | Brown Daily Herald:  Q&A with Bill Russell |  Comcast SportsNet:  Multi-tasking during the second halfLakers get 65th win

KG Speaks
April 14, 2009

KG, Paul and Ray all sat down with Comcast SportsNet to talk about defending the title.  That’s part of it.  Much more from all three guys can be found here.

(thanks to reader Hrvoje for the vid)

Leon Could Play Tomorrow
April 13, 2009

leon

I just love that picture.

Mark Murphy has another Doc quote on KG… and the tidbit that Leon Powe might be ready to go tomorrow night in Philly.

“It’s just the feel of Eddie (trainer Lacerte) and everybody else that this is the right thing to do,” Rivers said today of Garnett. “I just don’t see a good reason to play him in these next two games. So the plan is simple. We practice Thursday, we practice Friday, and then from what I’m told our first game will be Saturday, so we’ll go from there.”
Garnett accepted the news with relative calm.

“It wasn’t a big deal for him, especially after watching us yesterday,” Rivers said of Sunday’s 31-point loss in Cleveland. “I don’t think Kevin was surprised by this news at all. But let’s hope everything else goes as planned, and Leon can play.

“Two weeks ago I would have told you that Leon was the one who wouldn’t be ready for this, or maybe even the whole playoffs,” he said.

I know… my head is spinning too.  The Celtics are in this weird world of trying to be like the Patriots and not tell anyone what’s REALLY going on with the injuries… but still yapping away and answering questions.

So my advice to Doc would be either pull a Belichick and just not say anything… or just be honest.  Please pick one.

KG Won’t Return For Regular Season
April 13, 2009

Frank Dell’Apa reports

Kevin Garnett will miss the Celtics’ final two regular-season games, at Philadelphia Tuesday and versus Washington in Boston Wednesday. Garnett is scheduled to return when the Celtics open the playoffs, Game 1 tentatively scheduled for Saturday.

“We just being careful right now,” coach Doc Rivers said. “I don’t see the benefit of playing Kevin right now, with the practice we’re going to have.”

I assume that means the workouts are going to be pretty hard, and there’s no point in pushing him any more than he needs.

Maybe we can get the real story on KG after the parade.

Will Bill Walker Be Different?
April 12, 2009

He’s an athletic 3 with ridiculous jumping skills, enough promise to make you think the future of the franchise will be safe in his hands.

In 2001, that was what Celtics fans thought of Kedrick Brown.

After a few seasons of that not working out, Gerald Green came along and assumed that role.

Now Gerald is out, and Bill Walker is in.

The Celtics have spent this entire millennium looking for the next, great small forward.  It began as the search for a back up to Paul Pierce.  Then, for a short time, there was some talk about finding the guy who made Pierce expendable.  And now, it’s about taking the torch from Pierce when he’s ready to pass it.

Pierce is approaching the end of his career.  He’s got a few years left, which is just enough time to really groom the guy who will be taking over for him.  So will Bill Walker be the one small forward who actually lives up to the expectations?

Brown’s problem was that we might have over-estimated his abilities.  We were enthralled by his leaping ability, and it colored our opinion of his game.  He never quite had the ability to do what we wanted him to do.  He also took an unusually long time to come back from what we thought were minor injuries.

Green’s problem was, and continues to be, an inability to grasp the schemes.  He’s an amazing individual talent, but he simply doesn’t have the right mindset.  He can’t work within the flow of the offense.  He never really developed as a defender.  He can go one-on-one and he can be a scoring threat… but he tends to score at the detriment of his team.

Walker, however, seems to have the offensive skills that Brown lacked.  And, according to his teammates, he’s got the strong mind that eludes Gerald Green.

“I’m telling you this right now, the kid’s going to be a really good player in our league some day,” Garnett said. “When coaches are (expletive) with him, he doesn’t bitch and moan. He comes right back in the drill and he goes at it. He’s getting a lot of respect around here with the veterans.

“The kid’s a good kid. We’ve got a lot of strong personalities around here, and he’s no different. But he understands he’s a young’un, and he works hard. That’s what you want from someone who’s young – come in here and bust your (butt). He does that.

“If he’s in there and he knows he has to make it tough for a guy like LeBron (James), then he’s going to do that.”

Walker is in a tough spot because there simply aren’t many minutes for him right now.  But there was no way a rookie was going to get much time on a team with the Big 3, and other established guys with a stronger grasp of the offense and defense.  But the beauty of being on this team, even with the lack of minutes, is the biggest advantage he has over Green and Brown.  There is absolutely zero pressure on him.

Brown and Green were in losing situations.  The team and fans were looking for help to return the team to prominence.  It put a sharp, and perhaps unfair, focus on two very young people.  Walker has no pressure to perform right away.  He can sit and learn from the masters.  He can go through a playoff run and, hopefully, a championship parade.  He’ll learn what it’s like to be great from those who already are.  Think of him as the Celtics version of Matt Cassel.  Not a ton of expectations and plenty of time to practice and learn from one of the best.  Some day, Walker will be pressed into service.  And because he was in the right situation for the right amount of time, Walker might just become the guy the Celtics have been looking for all these years.

Our HONOR Is At Stake!
April 12, 2009

1987-celtics-bench

Today at 3:30 pm, the Boston Celtics will not play the Cavaliers in a basketball game.

No… they will engage the Cavaliers in an epic battle for this franchise’s HONOR!  The Cavaliers are on the verge of stealing a jewel of this franchise’s history… our coveted 40-1 home record.  Today, the Celtics are White Knights on a mission to defend the history of the NBA’s greatest franchise.  It is a task so awesome, Doc Rivers is bringing in help to address the troops:

“I’ll send Danny in to give them that speech…”

So God speed fair troops.  Defend thy franchise’s history with your lives.  This truly is your most important task to date.

Ok, so I’m clearly being melodramatic.  A win today will be nice, and I’m sure the Celtics would like to send a message.  This isn’t really about protecting “40-1″ (although it would be nice to see the Celtics hold onto the record), this is about planting a tiny seed of doubt in the minds of the Cavs and their fans.

In fact, the Celtics are in a win-win situation.  Lose in Cleveland, and people will let the Celtics slide for being like everyone else, and for losing without KG.  Win in Cleveland, and the story line becomes “wow, they won there without KG… what will happen in the playoffs?”

But no matter what happens, a little too much will be made of the result.  A Celtics win will prove they can win in Cleveland… but doesn’t guarantee they will in the playoffs.  A Cavs win proves they can defend home court… but doesn’t guarantee they’ll do it throughout the playoffs (or even against Philly to end the season).  In the end, it’s mostly fodder for the writers and talk shows.

The Celtics most certainly can win today.  They can do it by going under screens and turning LeBron into a jump shooter.  They can do it by attacking the middle of that Cavs defense and drawing some fouls on their bigs.  The can do with an improved Stephon Marbury continuing the attack and hitting that mid-range jumper or kicking to Eddie House for 3.

But whatever happens, don’t make too much of it.  We know from last year that the playoffs are a different game… and it’s hard to determine just how hard two teams who have locked up their playoff seeds will go today.

Herald:  Celtics seek road less travelledKG may return for season finaleA victim of Gang Green |  Globe:  Cavs find success with missing piece | Garnett aims for Wednesday return |  Souza:  Ray Allen evolving his game |  Plain Dealer:  The Q will be hoppin’Cavs and C’s don’t lack motivation today

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