The Morning Walkthrough is a set of links to Boston Celtics articles throughout the internet, designed to get your day started the right way.
Mark Murphy, Boston Herald – “Rivers also disputed the original time frame for a Rondo return. According to the initial projection, Rondo would be ready for a return late next week, perhaps for the New Year’s Eve matinee at the Garden against the New Orleans Hornets. ‘That was (general manager) Danny (Ainge’s) window — I never said that,’ Rivers said. ‘He’s not going to make it back in two weeks. At least it doesn’t sound like it. I think he ran the other day, but he could only run straight, and that’s not his game. He’s going to wait. After (Wednesday’s win over Philadelphia) he voiced some frustration about it, but he has to be patient. Everything is good now except for the ankle. Rondo is a great point guard because he has great speed and he has great cuts, but if you take the cuts away he gets hurt. I just don’t want to take the risk.’ Rondo, though, is of a different mind. ‘I might play tomorrow — see how it goes at practice,’ Rondo said. ‘It might take me three or four months to be 100 percent.’”
Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald – “The Magic knew they’d lost to the Celtics in the conference finals last May, and they knew the Celtics had gotten better. The Magic were, therefore, looking for ways to keep up with — and surpass — the Shamrocks. ‘I think that’s exactly right,’ said coach Stan Van Gundy, who welcomed Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark, and said goodbye to Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mikael Pietrus in trades with Washington and Phoenix. ‘I think that we felt like we had a chance with the deal to get a little better and have a better chance. The East has gotten a lot better. Obviously Boston and Miami are at the top. That’s clear and they’re playing great. But then with Chicago, New York and Atlanta, you’ve got a lot of teams playing well. I don’t think we felt like we had to do something. I think we felt like if we could do something we thought could help us, we needed to be on the lookout.’ Van Gundy added, ‘Neither Otis (Smith, the general manager) nor I said we can’t do it with this group,’ but it wasn’t looking good. Though Orlando is now still very much a work in progress, it will get its first chance to stand next to the Celtics this afternoon. How the Magic measure up is still open to debate. ‘I think it’s too early to tell,’ said Van Gundy. ‘We’ve always had trouble scoring on them. Everybody has trouble scoring on them. I do think we have more ways to score, but with Marcin gone, we’re also smaller against the biggest team in the East. So I think it’s yet to be seen which way it goes on that. I really don’t know.’”
Chris Forsberg, ESPN Boston – “Celtics coach Doc Rivers hasn’t hid from the fact that much of Boston’s success this season, particularly in the face of injuries, is a result of a healthy Kevin Garnett. While plus/minus is a flawed stat, it helps show Garnett’s impact on the team this year: He’s second in the NBA at a whopping plus-293 (only trailing Miami’s Chris Bosh). ’He’s better than he was the last two years,’ admitted Rivers. ‘Health-wise, I think he’s pretty much back to where he was three years ago [during the 2008 championships season]. In a lot of ways, he may be better with the team. Now the team is better and that makes him even better. He sees the floor, he’s a point guard on defense. He sees coverages, smells this out. He’s just good.’ Asked if he’s the best defensive player in the league this season, Rivers wouldn’t disagree. Garnett is helping Boston average the second best defensive efficiency in the league, allowing only 0.99 points per possession. ‘Dwight Howard is pretty good, too, but they’re different,’ said Rivers. ‘Definitely, I think he’s the best linebacker in the league, very much like Mike Singletary with the [NFL's Chicago] Bears. He’s our eyes, calling out coverages, that’s what he is.’
Mark Murphy, Boston Herald – “Perhaps the Celtics [team stats] didn’t have to throw away all of their Orlando scouting reports, after all. Only the faces have changed in the wake of last week’s league-shaking trades, which replaced Rashard Lewis, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus and Vince Carter in the lineup with Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas. ‘They’re the same team, they just have different guys doing it, better guys doing it,’ said C’s coach Doc Rivers. ‘They still run the high pick and roll for Dwight (Howard). I don’t think you have to change a lot with what we do. We don’t change a lot anyway. We play the same with our defense, so it really doesn’t matter what the jersey is. Any team right now with any bench, we’re in trouble,’ he said. ‘Puts us in a tough spot. Right now we have Avery (Bradley), Semih (Erden) and Luke (Harangody) coming off our bench against Arenas and those guys. But we’re still finding ways to win.’ Rivers admits that one move did change Orlando’s look significantly — the trade of Lewis to Washington for Arenas. The Magic now start a far more traditional power forward in Brandon Bass. ‘It gives them a different look, but they’ve been going big anyway,’ said Rivers.”
Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel – “Boston coach Doc Rivers was asked Friday whether he thinks Orlando’s recent moves will help the Magic match-up better against the Celtics. ‘I’m not sure how since they’ve gotten smaller, what sense that makes,’ Rivers answered. ‘They’re a better team, to me, in the long run, because they’ve added more talent.’”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “Shaquille O’Neal played 27 minutes in the win over the 76ers Wednesday night, scoring 13 points, grabbing nine rebounds, and blocking two shots. It was his second game back after missing four straight. Jermaine O’Neal hasn’t played since taking himself out of the game in Dallas Nov. 8 because of pain in his knee. Rivers will get a chance to use them both on the floor, but he knows there will be limitations, especially since Jermaine O’Neal’s practice time has been minimal. ‘I don’t know if it’s a luxury or not yet,’ Rivers said. ‘We’ll find that out. They haven’t played, so we don’t know the group and how well they’ll do. Throwing Jermaine into a game when he hasn’t played — I don’t know when the last time he’s played — that’ll be difficult.’”
A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE – “While his teammates loosened up before practice, Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen was on the sideline, deeply engrossed in conversation. He was on the phone delivering a last-minute Christmas present of sorts to thousands of military troops stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln which is in the waters of Southwest Asia. The Celtics received an email earlier this week from Lt. Cmdr. Paul Brawley, Navy Community Outreach-Boston. That led to Allen delivering his Christmas Eve message to the troops via Lt. Cmdr. William Marks on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Allen said his message to the troops was simple. ‘We just appreciated them fighting for our freedoms, to be in another country, being in the ocean fighting for our freedoms,’ Allen said. ‘We want to do whatever we can to provide entertainment for them while they’re overseas serving us.’ Having grown up in a military family – Allen has a number of family members who have served in the various armed forces, including his father, Walter Allen, who was a Master Sgt. in the Air Force – Allen admits he has a soft spot for the military. ‘It means a great deal to me knowing … we’re over here complaining about playing on Christmas day. We’re home, basically on American soil, able to be in close proximity to our families,’ Allen said. ‘These guys probably haven’t seen their families, some years, months, whatever it may be … it always gives me proper perspective. We get to play this game that we love; we get to play it every single day. There are so many people who are fighting for our freedom who are away from their family, and that’s the sacrifice that they make. All this talk about playing on Christmas day, it’s pebbles compared to what our soldiers are dealing with.’”
Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel – “A couple of sailors asked Allen about another Christmas Day game, the highly anticipated matchup between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers. They wanted to know if Allen was rooting for the Heat or for the Lakers. ‘Is it possible for both of them to lose?’ Allen recalled saying.”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “What is one to make of the Eastern Conference when one of the best teams more or less guts its starting lineup in Orlando; the dark horse fires its coach in Charlotte; the newly formed superpower in Miami is still trying to figure out how to work all the gadgets; New York scores like the Suns but also plays defense like them, too; Milwaukee isn’t nearly as pesky without its point guard; and the Celtics, the conference’s best team, have put together 14 straight wins with nearly a third of their roster wearing gauze as winter fashion? It’s a chaotic collage, with winning streaks and scoring streaks colliding with injuries and upsets. A third of the way through the season, coaches and players already have come and gone. No team in the league has more question marks than the Magic, whom the Celtics face today, and they’ll freely admit it. ‘I think we’re a total unknown,’ said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, not sounding sure if that’s a good or bad thing. ‘I think the most unknown is us right now because of the moves we’ve made. I don’t think anybody knows how we’re going to fit into that whole thing.’”
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