The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn’t mean we have to. Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day.
Barry Jackson, Miami Herald – “Rondo averaged 20 points and 11 assists — and shot 58.3 percent — in the three games against the Heat. ‘Rondo is the key to the team, the way he penetrates, creates, defends, gets steals,’ Haslem said. ‘It’s going to take a complete team effort to try to keep him out of the paint. And when he does get into the paint, try to make him finish against some of our guards instead of dishing it off to those guys for easy dunks and Ray Allen threes.’ Spoelstra called Rondo the ‘X factor,’ acknowledging that he can do ‘something totally unpredictable that you can’t really diagram that he probably hasn’t tried before. He has a great flair and creativity.’ Rondo’s quickness could be problematic for Arroyo, but Spoelstra said, ‘You cannot guard Rondo one-on-one. You cannot even talk about beating the Celtics if it’s going to be one-on-one matchups. They are second in the league in assists.’”
Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald – “It matters now, right guys? Just checking. After a Celtics season during which caveats became one of the four basic journalistic food groups, it is hopefully safe to take what we see now from the C’s at face value. ‘They stunk, but . . .,’ is no longer an operative column angle. The buts have been kicked to next season. We no longer have to include that a given calamity doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Wins, losses and what you had for lunch all now do. If the Celtics know what’s good for them, they are taking urgency intravenously. Tomorrow night against the Heat, the burden of proof will be on their shoulders as they traverse the parquet. Has any Celtics playoff opener been subject to such scrutiny? People are curious to see whether this team is serious about getting its act together or whether it is naught but seven gallons of bluster.”
Barry Jackson, Miami Herald – “‘I’ve been there before,’ Beasley said Thursday. ‘Big floor, big stage, playoff basketball. I know what to expect. No nerves. No butterflies. I’m going to play my game, play within the system.’ Dwyane Wade said it is ‘no secret’ that Kevin Garnett is ‘going to go at the young guy in many different ways.’ ‘This could be a series that Beas goes up and this can lead him to what his expectations of himself probably are,” Wade said. ‘Now we have an opportunity to see what a young guy like Michael can do.’ Wade emphasized the importance of being well-prepared. ‘When you play Boston, you can’t just show up,’ he said. ‘You’ve got to know what guys are great at. This is a team that runs a lot of different sets and a lot of different movement.’”
Ira Winderman, Miami Sun-Sentinel – “‘I don’t have to score 40 points a night or prove that I can lead the league in scoring to win ballgames,’ [Dwyane Wade] says. ‘When it’s time for me to have big nights scoring, I’ve done it. And when it’s time for me not to have big nights scoring, I’ve done it. I enjoy it that way so much more.’ If it seems like he is having fun, well, he is. The smile rarely has washed away this season. ‘As much as sometimes Coach and them probably don’t like it,’ he says of the staff and management, ‘we’ve been the same all year, win, lose or draw. We’re giddy, we laugh, when we win; we’re giddy, we laugh, when we lose. I think that’s the one thing that’s been very consistent, is the brotherhood in the locker room. It never went south.’ And neither did a body that has let him down on so many previous occasions. [...] ‘I do feel fresher,’ he says. ‘My body is holding up better than it was last year at this time. Last year, my hips bothered me a lot. And I’m not really having that now. Of course, I’ve got the little knickknack things. But I feel as good as I can be going into the playoffs in a long time.’”
Gary Washburn/Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “The Celtics let teams go for at least 100 points in each of the last seven games, with stars eating them alive. Weak-side defense was a priority they seemed to address coming out of the All-Star break, but as the season closed, they took steps backward, with individual lapses creating a domino effect of bad defense. ‘It’s something I’ve noticed myself, and we have to do a better job,’ Allen said. ‘Sometimes, as a team, you look at the game plan and it’s like an effort to watch every single player, but you still have to know who’s gong to get the ball and try to stop that guy from having a big night on us.’”
Jeff Clark, CelticsBlog – “Can we pause for a moment and bow our heads in a moment of silence for the passing away of the regular season? This isn’t a fond farewell, mind you. It is a merciful end. With the conclusion of the regular season, we can also waive good bye to the near-endless stream of excuses.”