Shaq in vintage form as C's down Bobcats, 99-94


Shaq in vintage form as C's down Bobcats, 99-94

By A. Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON Every now and then, Shaquille O'Neal reminds us all that not so long ago, he was the baddest - that's bad meaning good - basketball player on the planet.

The Charlotte Bobcats got a taste of that O'Neal Friday night, as the future Hall of Famer helped the Celtics pull away for a 99-94 win.

Before the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers was asked about why O'Neal, who isn't nursing any particular injury at the moment, was still viewed in his eyes, as day-to-day.

"Because he's old as hell," Rivers said. "He's 38 years old. Everyday, you never know with Shaq. But we knew that. He is going to have days where his body is going to bother him."

Friday night was not one of those times, as O'Neal led the C's with 23 points on 10-for-12 shooting. The 23 points scored were more than he had tallied in Boston's three previous games combined, and just two short of his season-high.

When reminded about his pre-game comment about O'Neal being "old as hell," Rivers said, "Maybe I'm going to keep doing that."

O'Neal, the oldest player in the NBA, had no problem with Rivers' comments.

In fact, he agreed with him.

Regardless of his age, O'Neal still has the ability to deliver from time to time, the kind of performance that established him as one of the greatest centers to ever play in the NBA.

And his timing could not have been any better, with the Celtics' depth at center taking a major hit this season.

The season began with starting center Kendrick Perkins on the inactive list after he tore ligaments in his right knee in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last June. He is expected to see his first action of the season later this month.

Jermaine O'Neal, recruited to be Perkins' replacement, has a left knee injury that might require surgery. Jermaine O'Neal told reporters on Friday night that he will make a decision early next week as to whether he will have surgery now, or at a later time.

Rookie center Semih Erden played on Friday, but he's dealing with a sore groin injury.

Shaquille O'Neal was well aware of the injuries to his teammates, but that had no impact on his approach to Friday's game.

"If I get the touches and get the calls most of the time, the outcome is going to be like that," he said. "It's not really my role here. So I'm here to do whatever Doc asks me to do."

More than anything else, the C's needed O'Neal to be a presence offensively and defensively.

While his game-high 23 points certainly caught the attention of most, O'Neal also tallied a season-high five blocked shots.

His ability to block shots was fueled in part by his ability to avoid early foul trouble, which has been a major factor in his inability to score this season.

"You know a lot of times I get fouls helping out," O'Neal said. "I (had) to be selective. There were a couple of lay-ups I knew I had to let go. I was just trying to play smart."

Rivers echoed O'Neal's comments.

The same could be said for Ray Allen, who continues to deliver a much-needed offensive punch for the Celtics (30-9).

Allen tallied 19 points which included 4-for-6 from 3-point range. Allen needs another 31 made 3-pointers to become the NBA's all-time leader in that category ahead of Indiana Pacers great Reggie Miller.

"We had a defensive scheme and it was really working for us, but it broke down in the end," said Bobcats coach and former Celtic, Paul Silas. "Ray Allen got two wide open looks that he shouldn't have gotten."

It seems like it has been like that all season for Allen.

Many of Allen's baskets were set up by Rajon Rondo, who flirted with a triple-double before finishing with 18 points, 13 assists and six rebounds.

Even with Allen's impressive long-range shooting and Rondo turning in a Rondo-esque performance, this game was all about Shaq who despite being "old as hell," can still deliver when called upon.

"He was just open tonight," Rondo said. "It seemed like he was open every time I went to the hole. Either Kwame (Brown) or Nazr (Mohammed) stepped up. You can't miss him."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Now, it gets real for revamped Celtics

Now, it gets real for revamped Celtics

CLEVELAND – For the Celtics, the preseason went about as well as expected.
No serious, long-term injuries.


They won every preseason game, even one in which the team’s second unit played the role of starters.
And the chemistry concerns with so many new players, while very real, didn’t seem to be that big an issue.
Still, as good as the Celtics may feel about where they stand, they know it means absolutely nothing unless they get it done against elite, NBA-caliber competition.
The Cleveland Cavaliers.
Opening night.
It doesn’t get much more challenging than that.
And for the Celtics, win or lose, this is going to be a game for them to build upon going forward this season.
“I’m just ready to get going,” said Gordon Hayward. “A lot of things have happened this summer, a lot of buildup. I’m ready to get to the game. It’s going to be a fun matchup, for sure.”
Among the summer happenings was Boston and Cleveland pulling off one of the biggest blockbuster deals of the offseason with the Cavs trading Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic while also conveying Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick and Miami’s 2020 second-round pick to complete the deal.
Having spent his first six seasons with the Cavaliers, there’s a certain amount of corporate knowledge that the 25-year-old Irving brings to tonight’s matchup.
“I know a lot about them, they know a lot about me,” Irving said. “There’s plenty of film on all of us, but specifically going back and understanding the way we played last year when I played with them and now how they’re playing with the new guys, understanding how to implement themselves into their new system plus me implementing myself into this system...There’s definitely some benefits on our end, there are some benefits on their end. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Part of the challenge for the Celtics will be developing the kind of on-court cohesion to be successful, which is easier said than done when you’re talking about getting nearly a dozen players on the same page in just a few weeks.
“We have good chemistry as a group,” said Al Horford. “We still have a ways to go as far as keep getting comfortable with each other and keep figuring out our spots. But we feel good with what we have. Our young guys, it’s been remarkable how quickly they’ve been able to come along and be up to date with everything. And our new guys as well. They’re up to date, they know what we need to do. They understand the game plan. It’s been good.”
Players aren’t the only ones eager to get to tonight’s game.
“To have to go into Cleveland with that level of intensity, with that level of attention, distraction, etc. is great,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It’s great to experience that in game one, a tremendous learning experience for our group, so we’re preparing to play as well as we can. And we know that they’re really, really good. But this is..I’m looking forward to it because I want to find out where we are.”

'People took it the wrong way,' Isaiah says of his Ainge comments


'People took it the wrong way,' Isaiah says of his Ainge comments

Isaiah Thomas told Sports Illustrated last week that he "might never talk to Danny [Ainge] again." And he sounded pretty bitter about his trade from the Celtics to the Cavs.

Now, on the "Road Trippin" podcast with new teammate Channing Frye and ex-Cav Richard Jefferson, Thomas, who is out until at least January with a hip injury, said those comments were misunderstood.


“People took it the wrong way,” Thomas said. “I understand the business, I understand that we’re in position to get traded and sent to other teams and things like that. It’s just how it went down that I didn’t respect. As a man, I feel like if you respected me as much as you say you did, you would have at least informed me about what was going on before it happened. And that’s all I was talking about.

“I’m not tripping off the trade like I got traded to the Cavs and we’re going to win a championship. And at the end of the day, I’m going to be fine with that,” Thomas said. “[Ainge] sent me to an even better situation with a bigger platform. I’m blessed to be in the position, I’m grateful and I’m excited.”

The Cavs host the Celtics tonight in the season opener. 

Jae Crowder, who came to Cleveland from Boston, was also on the podcast and when Frye talked with him about players deserving communication from the front office, Thomas could be heard in the background, saying, “That’s what I’m talking about.”

“I already said what I’m doing," Thomas told Crowder about what he'll do should he run into Ainge. "I’m going to keep it pushing like he kept pushing when he traded me, I’m not going to disrespect him. He’s a man and I’m a man, too. Like, I’m going to go my way. I play for the Cavaliers and that’s what it is.”