Morning Walkthrough: KG’s return changes everything; Dwight Howard predicts, well, something; JO’s judgment day today
The Morning Walkthrough is a set of links to Boston Celtics articles throughout the internet, designed to get your day started the right way.
Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald – “‘I mean, I said to somebody else that we look like a totally different team out there just with Kevin on the court,’ said Pierce. ‘You can’t replace what Kevin gives to a ball club. He doesn’t always show up with his numbers, but his presence and his feel for the game and everything he does for this team goes far beyond the numbers, and you see it tonight. We look like a team who is ready, who is energized, who is locked in, and, you know, that’s the culture he’s brought here since Day 1. He raises everybody’s level of play when he’s on the court.’”
Ben Rohrbach, WEEI – “After all the hullabaloo over who’s the real Superman, there’s no wonder Dwight Howard rolls his eyes when he’s asked about Shaquille O’Neal. Thinking for a moment, the Magic center made a bold prediction. ‘The matchup is awesome,’ said Howard, tongue firmly planted in cheek. ‘He won the victory tonight, but we will win the war.’”
Peter May, ESPN Boston – “I know. I know. I know. The Boston Celtics think of themselves as a defensive team. They pride themselves on being a defensive power and understand that stopping the other guy is the best and surest way to add another banner to the franchise collection. All of that is true. But oh my goodness, they are doing things at the other end of the floor that make you want to call the championship flag seamstress and tell her to start working. If these guys can continue to shoot the ball the way they have over the first 40 games and their defense, already pretty good, comes around when everyone is (hopefully) healthy, we have the makings of a hardwood leviathan.”
Gary Washburn, Boston Globe – “While other clubs reconstruct themselves with trades, the Celtics are doing it with good health. To a man, every Celtic acknowledged Sunday’s practice was motivational because Perkins and Garnett were back, and the team was whole. Glen Davis came off the bench last night and took shots in rhythm, after uncharacteristically turning into World B. Free in Garnett’s absence. And Shaquille O’Neal didn’t have to defend Dwight Howard one-on-one for the entire night. Garnett offered help, especially in the fourth quarter. The Celtics are approaching their natural order and that gives coach Doc Rivers a feeling of comfort. He tends to harp on injuries too much, as every NBA coach does, but without Perkins as an option and injuries to Rajon Rondo and Garnett, the starting five has undergone more cast changes than ‘General Hospital.’”
Mike Petraglia, WEEI - “‘You get out of it what it what you put into it,’ Garnett said. ‘These two weeks have been dark days for me, trying to keep my morale up, be around the guys, travel. But being hurt is not one of my things I like to be a part of. I hate it. I don’t deal with it well. But as I get older, along with these knuckleheads here keeping it real light for me, keeping my spirits up, I just worked through it. Tonight, I just felt stronger and I’m going to continue to build on this and not have any mishaps.’”
Mike Petraglia, WEEI – “Rivers didn’t feel the two teams played very good defense in the first 45 minutes, the last three were what mattered in a 109-106 Celtics win Monday night over the team they eliminated in the Eastern Finals last year. So, Garnett yelling out defensive calls and making plays like a steal on Jameer Nelson with 10 seconds remaining to seal the win was music to Rivers’ ears. ‘Listen, they all talk, but no one talks like Kevin,’ Rivers said. ‘He’s the best talker in the league. When you’re talking defense. And I think Perk [Kendrick Perkins] may be the second best. So, it is clear tonight – and I didn’t think we had a great defensive night; I thought we were actually average – but it was clear the communication, especially those last four possessions, you could hear it. He was calling their sets out. He’s a defensive coach on the floor.’ Rivers had no doubt the energy would be there. His stamina and effectiveness were another thing altogether. ‘I knew he’d play with energy,’ Rivers said after Garnett scored 19 points and hauled in eight rebounds in 30 intensity-filled minutes. ‘You could see that. You could see it [Sunday], and I was telling guys that our practice was just crazy with energy. And so, you knew that. I was concerned about his wind; I wasn’t concerned about his health at all.’”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “But there’s something about the waning moments of games that wakes Pierce up. He dealt the Knicks a dagger last month, drilling the game-winner over Amare Stoudemire from the right elbow. Last night, he victimized Jason Richardson, getting to his sweet spot, drilling an 18-footer, getting the foul, and converting a 3-point play that helped the Celtics seal their 109-106 win. ‘I’ve been in those situations a number of times,’ Pierce said. ‘I really don’t get rattled. I try to keep cool and calm about myself especially in the last two minutes, when the crowd’s frantic and everybody’s going crazy. I just try to zone in at that point in the game and just keep my focus.’ Pierce acknowledges that in his younger days, he would have been calling for shots. ‘Even though I got all the shots,’ Pierce said jokingly.”
Steve Buckley, Boston Herald – “But wake up, Boston: As of right now, and with apologies to the Bruins, and with the Red Sox still a few weeks away from revving up the equipment truck for Fort Myers, the Celtics represent Boston’s best shot for the next championship. The Celtics still have their Big Three. They have Rajon Rondo. And they have Shaq, who the other day did what we all have done: He slipped on the ice, and then cursed, and then got up, and then went to work.”
Chris Forsberg, ESPN Boston – “Rivers confirmed that reserve center Jermaine O’Neal trekked to New York on Monday to receive another opinion on his ailing left knee, which has sidelined him for 22 games this season. ‘What I think will happen is he’ll get some information then bring it back,’ Rivers said. ‘And [team physician] Dr. [Brian] McKeon, [trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] and J.O. will talk and come to a conclusion.’ Rivers said Sunday he thinks that unless O’Neal can find a doctor that can operate and get him back on the court before the playoffs the 32-year-old center will elect to follow a non-surgery path and play with the pain and limitations of the sore knee the rest of the season.”
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