Celtics

Notes: Jermaine O'Neal to start Tuesday night

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Notes: Jermaine O'Neal to start Tuesday night

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM With Shaquille O'Neal likely to miss Tuesday's game in Detroit, Doc Rivers said that O'Neal's "brother" Jermaine should be ready to step into the starting lineup after missing Boston's last game with a knee injury of his own.

"He had a good practice and he'll play," Rivers said. "Obviously, it could swell or something. But right now, he looked good."

The knee was actually one in a laundry list of ailments that Jermaine O'Neal has dealt with so far this season, but the big man is ready to shake off the rust and make his presence felt in the Celtics rotation.

"It's been challenging," O'Neal said after Monday's practice, "with the hamstring and then the back and the wrist and the knee. It's been extremely disappointing. But it's the trials and tribulations that make you stronger; you can never be successful and if you don't fail.

"So far I haven't been able to do things. I know that people who brought me here aren't happy with what they've seen, but I guarantee that by the end of the year they'll be happy with what they see. I'm doing everything I can to catch up to speed."

Among those things, O'Neal cites limited rest during practice, as well as extra one-on-one drills after the session ends.

Kevin Garnett, for one, is looking forward to getting O'Neal into the flow.

"I'm always looking to build chemistry with anyone who I haven't played with," Garnett said. "JO's been beat up a little bit, so obviously it'll be good to be out there with him."

The season is still very young, but there aren't enough great things to say about the play of Glen Davis. The fourth-year pro has become Boston's most reliable weapon on the bench, and a guy Doc Rivers now consistently turns to in crunch time along with Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Garnett.

Speaking after Monday's practice, Garnett was quick to make note of Davis' vast improvement.

"He's been a lot more patient than last year," Garnett said. "I think he understands his role even more. I think he's probably accepted his role more than last year. He's a lot more vocal. He's always charismatic and social; keeping us laughing and keeping it light. He's gonna play be a big part in whether we're successful or not.

Boston's lack of pop on the block was a main cause of their crushing Game Seven loss to the Lakers last June, and it was a problem that Danny Ainge addressed this offseason with the signing of both O'Neals.

As a result not to mention the improved health of Garnett the C's have been a much better rebounding team this season. But while the bigs will carry a bulk of the work load on the boards, Doc Rivers believes it's important for all five guys on the floor to get involved.

"Again, as important as our bigs are, it's really important for our guards to rebound," Rivers said. "Paul had 14 in one game and 9 in another and we won those games. He had two in another and we lost it. And I do think it's connected in some way."

Asked to elaborate, Pierce said he understood how important it is for him to crash, but also said that the responsibility doesn't fall only on him.

"It's not all on me from the wing," Pierce said. "It's gotta come from everyone. It's gotta come from the bigs. It's gotta come from Rondo. He's set such a high standard for himself on the glass, especially with the bigs going down.
Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Jayson Tatum vs. Markelle Fultz debate

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Jayson Tatum vs. Markelle Fultz debate

0:41 - Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions on the Celtics getting their first win of the season and a comparison between Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving in the 4th quarter.

7:17 - Phil Perry joins BST to break down the tale of the tape between the Falcons and the Patriots as he breaks down the quarterbacks, offense, defense, coaching, and intangibles between the two teams.

11:57 - Our crew on BST discuss number 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz and number 3 overall pick Jayson Tatum going up against each other and debate who seems like the better pick so far. 

16:35 - In this segment of Irrelevant Questions, Tom Curran interviews Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett as he asks him a bunch of random questions. 

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Larkin rises to occasion, says he's ready when Celtics call his number

Larkin rises to occasion, says he's ready when Celtics call his number

PHILADELPHIA – Near the end of a preseason game against Charlotte, Boston Celtics guard Shane Larkin was killin’ the Hornets with pick-and-roll action.

It was a preseason game that at the time, didn’t seem to have much value other than to get some of the end-of-the-bench guys a little run up and down the court.

But as it turned out, Larkin's play in that game was one of those things head coach Brad Stevens tucked away, knowing at some point he would count on Larkin to provide similar play in a regular season game.

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Well, that game was Friday night at Philadelphia, a game in which several players for Boston stepped their games up in helping the Celtics get their first win of the season, 102-92.

But you would be hard-pressed to find a bigger game-changer for the Celtics in this game, than Larkin.

He finished with 10 points off the bench, eight of which came in the decisive fourth quarter when the Celtics rallied from five-down to get a hard-fought, much-needed victory.

“You have to always be ready for your name to be called, especially when you have injuries,” Larkin said. “You never know whose night it’s gonna be.”

Boston was playing without Marcus Smart who suffered a left ankle sprain in their 108-100 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday. Smart was in the starting lineup having replaced Gordon Hayward who underwent left ankle surgery and is expected to be out for the remainder of this season.

“When coach (Stevens) called my name, I had to go out there and be aggressive, play my game,” Larkin said. “And it worked in our favor.”

And while Stevens had watched Larkin play prior to the Celtics signing him this summer, it was a preseason game against Charlotte that really convinced him that the 5-foot-11 guard could help when called upon.

“You’re always watching,” Stevens said. “And if you remember that exhibition game, he finished out that Charlotte game, just running simple spread pick-and-rolls. He’s such a handful with his speed and quickness, and he allows other guys to play off of him. He’s a small guy, but he makes up for it with his speed and skill.”

Al Horford benefited more than any other Celtic with Larkin’s pick-and-roll play which factored into Horford scoring nine of his 17 points in the fourth.

“Shane is a player who understands the game and for us, it was me trying to set a good screen for him and having him make a play,” Horford said. “He just made the right reads, when to shoot it, when to pass it. He just looked very comfortable in that position.”

And to think that Larkin’s big game came about in part because of how well he performed in a preseason matchup against the Hornets.

“I did not know it was that specific game,” Larkin said. “But whenever I step on the court I try to do my best. That’s offensively, defensively, and do what the team needs me to do.

Larkin added, “Whenever my number is called, if he (Stevens) calls it again, I hope he does. I’ll be ready to go out there and do it again.”

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