Celtics hope thin bench can cool Heat

191544.jpg

Celtics hope thin bench can cool Heat

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM You don't have to remind Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers that he'll have nine, maybe 10 healthy players when the C's host the Miami Heat in a matchup between the top two teams in the East.

After the starting five, the Celtics bench includes Glen Davis, Von Wafer, Nate Robinson (maybe), Luke Harangody and Avery Bradley.

Let's face it.

The bottom of the barrel?

Yes, the C's are scraping it right now, hoping that someone, anyone, will step up on Sunday and help the C's get past a Miami Heat team that's playing great basketball right now.

Win or lose, Rivers will come away knowing more about his team than he did prior to tip-off.

"You get a reading from every game; it's a false reading, but it is a reading after that game," he said. "I don't think right now, anytime, means anything later except for that moment. You do get reads after each game; the things your team needs to work on."

For the C's, staying healthy might be a good starting point.

The latest roll call of injuries includes: Marquis Daniels (bruised spinal cord); Jermaine O'Neal (left knee), Shaquille O'Neal (right Achilles), Delonte West (broken right wrist), Semih Erden (groin).

Also, Robinson has a bruised right knee injury and did not practice on Saturday. However, the Celtics as well as Robinson are hopeful that he'll be able to play against the Heat.

Even with a less-than-ideal roster to work with, the Celtics aren't conceding anything to the Heat.

"You still want to win and prove to yourself that we're good enough," said C's guard Ray Allen. "That's not a bad mentality to have when it comes to any team that you play. Having that mentality, that underdog mentality you try and do everything you can to scrape and claw to get what you think is owed to you. So that's the mentality we have to have."

Boston's biggest issue with the lack of depth will be in their approach to defending LeBron James.

Because of his size, speed and strength, the C's anticipate racking up a lot of fouls trying to guard him.

However, the Celtics know that they no longer have that luxury due to all the banged up players.

In fact, Paul Pierce is the only healthy small forward on the Celtics roster. He'll be backed up by Von Wafer, a 6-5 shooting guard who has played the small forward position when one of his former teams, the Houston Rockets, were in a similar pinch because of injuries.

"I'm just going to try and hold my own. I got pride," Wafer said. "I'm just going to fight. If a guy makes a shot, he makes it."

Pierce's approach to playing the Heat can be summed up in three words: avoid foul trouble.

"When you're short-handed, the approach is to not get into foul trouble," Pierce said. "If I get in foul trouble, it's tough on us. Having lack of defenders on the perimeter, especially against LeBron being a 3-man and being a strong, athletic player not a lot of guys match up with him."

Added Rivers: "Paul will play as much as he can, and then we'll use someone else. But you don't guard LeBron with Paul or anyone else. You guard him with your team, anyway."

And when you throw in the fact that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are meshing better with James, and the fact that a number of their role players are starting to fill the roles that they were brought in to fill, the Heat would be a stiff challenge for the Celtics even if the C's were at full strength.

But they're not, which is perfectly all right with Rivers who refuses to use the team's lack of depth as an excuse.

"Every game tells me about something that we need to do better," Rivers said. "I don't even look at injury part of that. I look at how the group is performing now."

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

Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

WALTHAM, Mass. – Like so many players who have spent part of their NBA journey having Kevin Garnett barking in their ear words of encouragement or just telling them to get the hell out his (bleepin’) way, you can count Avery Bradley among those who will miss the man affectionately known as ‘Big Ticket.’

Garnett recently announced his retirement after 21 NBA seasons, leaving behind a legacy that includes an NBA title won with the Boston Celtics in 2008.

Among the current Celtics, Bradley is the only current member of the team who played with Garnett in Boston.

When Bradley got the news about Garnett’s retirement, he said he sat down and wrote Garnett a letter.

“To let him know how much I appreciate him, how special he is to me,” said Bradley who added that his relationship with Garnett was impactful both on and off the court. “Kevin’s just an amazing person.”

Leon Powe, a member of the Celtics’ championship team in 2008 with Garnett, echoed similar praise about his former teammate.

“As a teammate, as a player, KG meant the world to me,” Powe told CSNNE.com. “Intensity … he brought everything you would want to the game, to the practice field, he was just non-stop energy.”

And when you saw it time after time after time with him, pretty soon it became contagious.

“The intensity just motivated every guy on the team, including me,” Powe said. “It made you want to go out and lay it out on the line for him and the team. You see how passionate he is. You see he’s one of the greats. And when you see one of the greats of the NBA going hard like that all the time, you’re like ‘Man, why can’t I do that? It trickled down to me and every young guy on the team.

Powe added, “He brought that every single day, night, morning, it didn’t matter. He brought that intensity. That’s all you could ask for.”

And Garnett’s impact was about more than changing a franchise’s fortunes in terms of wins and losses.

He also proved to be instrumental in helping re-shape the culture into one in which success was once again defined by winning at the highest levels.

“KG has had as big an impact as anybody I’ve been around in an organization,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “The thing that stands out the most to me about KG is his team-first mentality. He never wanted it to be about KG, individual success to trump team success. He lived that in his day-to-day practice. That’s something I’ll remember about him.”