Celtics

Shaq wanted to punch Big Baby in the face

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Shaq wanted to punch Big Baby in the face

Shaquille O'Neal's new book, Shaq Uncut: My Story, digs up a little dirt on teammates from the multiple franchises that dotted his career. And though The Diesel only spent one year in Boston, he had enough ammo to sully some of his old Celtics 'mates, too.

One particularly entertaining excerpt explains how Shaq and fellow Louisiana State product Glen Davis had it out in the middle of huddles because Big Baby didn't like to pass:

Big Baby Davis kept looking me off and taking it himself. Doc is shouting at him to go inside, but he wont. So Doc calls timeout and draws up a play for me. I go out there, and I back Andrew Bynum way under the rim. Im loose, Im ready. Ive got Bynum under the basket and again, Baby wont give me the ball. So I go up to him and say, If you ever miss me again Im going to punch you in the face. I was hot.

Two nights later were playing in Sacramento and here we go again. I take three shots the entire game and again Ive got my man isolated underneath the basket, and Baby ignores me and takes a jump shot. So the next time were in the huddle I let Baby have it.

I tell him, Pass the expletive ball inside. He comes back at me a little bit and now Im really heated. All hell is breaking loose. Were going back and forth. Doc is standing there and hes not saying a word. The message is pretty clear: Work this out yourselves. I tell Baby, Youre a selfish player. Everyone on this team knows it. Hey, all the fans knew it. He takes shots when he shouldn't."

Davis will be a free agent if and when the NBA offseason comes back from its lockout and the free agency period officially begins.

Other highlights from Shaq's book include the time President Barack Obama dissed Rajon Rondo's free-throw shooting ability and sent the point guard into a tailspin. . .

Remember that stretch right after Perk got traded and Rondo was struggling so badly? He definitely was nicked up and fighting some injuries, but something else happened that I think affected him. In early March some of the guys went to the Museum of Fine Arts for a fundraiser and got to hang out with President Barack Obama. Everyone was a little bit in awe. The president turns to Ray, points to Rondo and says, Hey Ray, why dont you teach this kid how to shoot. Everyone starts laughing, and Rays says, Nah, thats why hes got to give the ball to me. Ill take care of the shooting.

KG told me he saw the look on Rondos face and the kid was devastated, embarrassed. Dissed by the president, even though Im sure Obama didnt mean any harm. Rondo smiled and went along with all of it, but KG told me he could sit it in his eyes. It bothered Rondo. It killed him.

. . . and why Nate Robinson was traded:

I wasnt surprised at all when he got traded. Nate was always trying to get noticed by the public. He was always tweeting videos of himself punking his teammates ... Some people are a little too focused on Twitter and Nate was one of them. He was too worried about how many followers he had. He kept saying, Shaq, I need more people. Help me out.

Celtics fans looking for a little more reason to hate Kobe Bryant and LeBron James can revel in some of Shaq's other anecdotes. He said he wanted to kill Bryant over an interview with Jim Gray, and explained that LeBron James basically got away with whatever he wanted in Cleveland.

Celtics need to let Morris continue feasting on seconds

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Celtics need to let Morris continue feasting on seconds

It gets harder to find problematic areas when a team wins 15 straight, like the Boston Celtics have.
 
But there are some. Boston’s inability to develop a consistent scoring threat when the second-unit players are on the floor hasn’t cost them a game yet, but you can see it coming if they don’t address this at some point.
 
Well, the answer to their second-unit struggles may be staring them right in the face – Marcus Morris.
 
While he does go back and forth as a starter, keeping him on the floor in the second quarter with the second unit makes sense for all involved.
 
Morris is a better scorer than many expected, but opportunities aren’t as plentiful with the first group. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are the top two options. The team’s young wings, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, probably stack up slightly higher in the scoring pecking order than Morris.
 
So for him to get quality looks with the second unit in the second quarter not only helps the team offensively, but it keeps Morris even more engaged than he already is.
 
We saw that in Saturday’s win over the Hawks.
 
Morris had 14 points, with 10 coming in the second quarter when he was surrounded primarily with players off the bench.
 
 “We need Marcus quite a bit,” said coach Brad Stevens. “We’re still managing his minutes appropriately as he comes back.”
 
Morris missed the first eight games of the season because of a sore left knee. Since his return, his minutes have been capped at around 25 or less, in addition to not playing back-to-back nights..

But as he continues to play a more significant role, look for his minutes -- and his role as a primary scorer in the second quarter -- to increase.
 
“He brings us scoring," Stevens said. "He brings us defense, he brings us toughness, and we really needed his scoring (against Atlanta), his ability to shoot the ball both off broken plays and off movement.”
 
Here’s a look at five other takeaways from Boston’s 110-99 win at Atlanta to extend the team’s winning streak to 15 in a row which is the fifth-longest streak in franchise history.



 
JAYLEN BROWN'S EMERGENCE

The improvement in Jaylen Brown has been evident all season, but it's really spiked the last two games. The second-year wing player dropped 22 points on Golden State Thursday, then followed that up with a career-high 27 Saturday. Conventional wisdom tells you not to bank on Brown delivering like that on a consistent basis. But as a former No. 3 overall pick who works as hard as Brown does . . . would anyone be surprised if this becomes a new-norm when it comes to Brown?


 
HORFORD STREAK CONTINUES
 
Early foul trouble and an overall lack of flow offensively had Al Horford looking at having his first game of the season with a negative plus/minus. At the half he was at -16. Then came the Celtics’ second half surge which saw them turn a 16-point deficit in the first half into a double-digit victory. And Horford’s plus/minus? For the game he stood at +2, keeping his streak alive of having a positive plus/minus in every game played this season.

KYRIE IRVING
 
An efficient scoring Kyrie Irving is an NBA team’s worst nightmare. One of the league’s well-established scorers, Irving was just too much for the Atlanta Hawks to handle. And the end result was one of the most efficient scoring nights in Irving’s career as he tallied a game-high 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting.


 
TATUM'S SECOND-HALF SURGE
 
For the second straight game, Jayson Tatum did not begin playing his best basketball until the second half. Against the Hawks, Tatum scored all of his 14 points in the second half. And in Thursday’s win over Golden State, 10 of his 12 points came in the second half. “For whatever reason he was pretty tentative (in the first half),” said Stevens. “He’s a good player, so struggles aren’t going to last long. He’ll figure it out.”


 
SMART'S SHOOTING (SLIGHTLY) BETTER
 
There’s plenty of room for improvement when it comes to Marcus Smart’s shooting. Against the Hawks, he had 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting. Now the numbers won’t wow you, but they are a huge step in the right direction in comparison to how he has been chucking up shots lately. In Boston’s previous five games, Smart was a face-cringing 10-for-52 shooting, or 19.2 percent from the field. Even with all the impact he makes consistently with his defense and effort, that number has to continue to improve if Boston is able to continue along its winning ways.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

The Boston Celtics trail by double digits. The Celtics rally to make it relatively close by halftime. Boston continues to gain ground in the third, pull it out in the fourth.

Rinse. Recycle. Repeat.

That has been the Celtics’ mantra this season, with the latest chapter in their comeback narrative being a 110-99 win at Atlanta.

“We need to put an emphasis on playing with space and getting the ball to the other side of the floor,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It just stuck too much early on. We were staring at some post-ups that if we got it to the other side, maybe you could take advantage of.”

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Boston (15-2) fell behind by as many as 16 points against the Hawks (3-13), the second straight game the Celtics have rallied from a double-digit deficit.

In Boston’s 92-88 win over Golden State on Thursday, the Celtics fell behind by as many as 17 before rallying for their most impressive win of the season.

That said, it still shouldn’t take away from what happened on Saturday against an Atlanta team that despite their record, has shown signs of playing better in their recent games.

Players are aware of the penchant they’ve shown thus far for falling behind only to mount a furious comeback for the win.

“We don’t try to (go down early),” said Kyrie Irving following Saturday’s win which extended their winning streak to 15 straight which is the fifth-longest streak in franchise history. “Some teams, they go on runs and whether that be us giving up some easy ones or giving up some turnovers or doing things we can correct. When we do correct them, it turns into a different game.”

And that is what makes this stretch of play so impressive.

The Celtics have not played a full game; instead they have had stretches of good play that have often masked their mistakes early in the game.

That’s why head coach Brad Stevens, obviously pleased with the team’s success, knows as well as anyone that his team has to become more consistent in their play if they are to get the most out of these wins and continue to build off of them and achieve their ultimate goal – getting back to the NBA Finals.

“We’re going to keep playing,” Stevens said. “But the biggest thing is, we can’t keep digging these holes.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE