Celtics won't take Billups-less Knicks lightly


Celtics won't take Billups-less Knicks lightly

By A. Sherrod Blakely

WALTHAM There's a very good chance that the Boston Celtics won't have to deal with New York Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups.

But is that really a good thing?

We have seen the Celtics face a Kevin Durant-less Oklahoma City team . . . and lose.

We have seen them not have to contend with Luis Scola of Houston . . . and lose.

There are a number examples of Boston losing to teams missing a key player.

That's why the idea of facing a New York team that won't have Billups, doesn't exactly provide the C's with any added confidence.

"For us, we have to be even more focused if Billups doesn't play," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce. "We haven't really done a good job when star players sit. Throughout the course of the season, we saw that opportunity many times and we lost those games."

Pierce has a few different theories as to why the Celtics seem to have problems in such games.

"I don't know if we take them for granted or taking them too lightly because they're missing a player, thinking that team wouldn't play as hard even if Chauncey plays or doesn't, Toney Douglas is more than capable."

Douglas has averaged a career-high 10.6 points per game this season.

More important, he has shown the ability to knock down clutch shots, like a 3-pointer in Game 1 that gave the Knicks a one-point lead in the final minute of play.

Coach Doc Rivers knows as well as anybody about the struggles his team has had against teams this year that were without a key performer.

Having that happen in the regular season, that's one thing.

In the playoffs?

"If you take anyone lightly in the playoffs, shame on you," Rivers said. "Everybody is capable of playing. Douglas has had a terrific year. They went on their stretch or streak, winning streak when Douglas was playing and Chauncey was out. So, I don't think that will affect how we'll approach the game. We have to worry about us."

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.”