Celtics' ideal playoff roster still not together

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Celtics' ideal playoff roster still not together

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Figuring out the Boston Celtics playoff rotation is pretty easy for coach Doc Rivers.

Getting them on the floor in the same game?

Now that's another story.

The return -- and then loss -- of Shaquille O'Neal, who missed the previous 27 games because of a right Achilles injury, highlights the challenges Rivers faces in preparing the Celtics for what they hope will be a long playoff run.

O'Neal came off the bench in Boston's 101-90 win over Detroit on Sunday. He played six minutes before suffering a right calf strain that the team says will sideline him indefinitely.

Whenever he returns, and when he gets back into playing shape, he is expected to regain his starting job at some point between now and the playoffs.

In addition to O'Neal, the Celtics' starting five will include Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

Coming off the bench, Rivers will go with Delonte West, Jeff Green, Glen Davis and Jermaine O'Neal for sure.

As much as Rivers understands the need to get those guys as many reps with one another, he also knows that developing some type of flow is just as important.

"What we have to do is get everybody on the same page, rhythm-wise," Rivers said. "As far as rotation and the bench, I know it. It's set. But we just have to get it together."

And it's that latter point that, maybe more than anything else, will challenge the C's in these final six games prior to the playoffs.

"That's the biggest dilemma here," said Kevin Garnett. "We are dealing with the health issue here and I think sometimes it's messing with the inconsistency of what we're doing. Obviously the team out there and the guys out there on the court have to be accountable with what we are doing. At the same time, teaching guys new schemes, our schemes, and on top of that trying to understand the rotation and who is healthy. We are multi-tasking here."

Among those tasks, is to continue racking up victories leading into the playoffs.

"Every game is important; we're trying to win out, trying to get ready for the playoffs," said Paul Pierce. "But the most important thing . . . is us getting healthy right now. I'm feeling pretty good, some of the other guys are feeling pretty good, some guys are banged up, so that's important right now, as this next week goes by these guys staying healthy."

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

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Should Paul George or Gordon Hayward be Celtics' priority?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Should Paul George or Gordon Hayward be Celtics' priority?

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0:41 - Should Paul George be the priority over Gordon Hayward? Is trading for one year of George better than signing Gordon Hayward long-term? Curran, Holley, Giles, Smith discuss.

4:45 - Could a Tom Brady extension be in the works? Phil Perry joins BST to discuss Dan Graziano’s article about QB contracts in the NFL. 

9:13 - Evan Drellich and Lou Merloni join from Fenway Park to talk about the message John Farrell sent to Hanley, how the bullpen was used after Chris Sale was taken out, and the rumor that the Red Sox are interested in Sonny Gray. 

15:09 - Tom Giles and Tom Curran discuss how the Suns GM Ryan McDonough might have “tampered” with Josh Jackson to prevent him from going to the Celtics. 

Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

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Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

NEW YORK - Russell Westbrook was voted NBA MVP on Monday night after setting a record with 42 triple-doubles last season.

Westbrook's victory ended the first NBA Awards show, which included two wins apiece for the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks.

Westbrook joined Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double for the season, and he broke Robertson's single-season record set when he had 41 triple-doubles in 1961-62.

The point guard beat out Houston's James Harden and San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard to succeed Stephen Curry, who had won the past two MVP awards.

Earlier, Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon became the first player not picked in the first round to win NBA Rookie of the Year in the common draft era.

Brogdon was the No. 36 overall selection out of Virginia. The common draft era began in 1966.

"I think it's an example for guys that are told they are too short, they are not athletic enough, they are not real point guards, they are not real shooting guards," Brogdon said. "I just think it's an important message for people to see, and it can be done. It just takes a lot."

Teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo won the Most Improved Player award.

Houston coach Mike D'Antoni won his second Coach of the Year award, and the Rockets' Eric Gordon was Sixth Man of the Year after setting a record for most 3-pointers off the bench in his first season as a reserve.

The NBA formerly gave out its individual awards at various points throughout the postseason before switching to the awards show this season and presenting them all at once in front of the league's top players and stars from the entertainment world.

Two of the best moments came during segments that didn't include the NBA's six individual awards.

Bill Russell was presented the first Lifetime Achievement award, welcomed on stage by fellow Hall of Fame centers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. The 11-time champion as a player and the league's first black coach first pointed at them and joked that he would have kicked their butts, then told them: "You have no idea how much respect I have for you guys."

Former Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams was given the SagerStrong Award for the strength he showed after his wife was killed in a car crash in Oklahoma City. He was given a colorful jacket like the ones worn by Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports reporter who died of cancer this past season.