Rivers: Daniels is key to us winning

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Rivers: Daniels is key to us winning

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM - Last season the Boston Celtics turned to Tony Allen to shut down LeBron James and Dwyane Wade during the playoffs.

When James and Wade joined forces on the Miami Heat, the question arose, ''How will the Celtics defend both players on the court at the same time?''

And when Tony Allen signed with the Memphis Grizzlies shortly thereafter, the question arose, "Who will defend James and Wade?"

The answer is, there is no answer right now. Doc Rivers told CSNNE.com he doesnt know if the Celtics have "that guy" yet, but he has someone in mind to help fill that role as the C's battle the Heat on Opening Night.

While Paul Pierce and Ray Allen will take on James and Wade in the first unit, Rivers believes Marquis Daniels could make an impact defensively off the bench -- one that goes beyond Opening Night.

"He's huge. Marquis is key to us winning this year," Rivers said. "The better he plays, the better our team will be because it makes our bench better."

Daniels is eager to live up to his coach's praise. After missing the majority of last season (his first with the Celtics) due to injuries, Daniels feels he can be a serious contributor this time around.

"I thank Doc for thinking highly of me," he told CSNNE.com. "I've just got to come in and prove him right, just go out there and do everything he asks me to do."

If that means locking down on James or Wade on Tuesday night, Daniels is up for the challenge. His plan of attack -- play aggressive basketball by making them work on both ends of the court.

"I try to take them out of their comfort zone," he explained. "There's not much they can't do, but you've got to make them do stuff they're not accustomed to doing. You know they get to the basket, so I try to get them to shoot more contested, harder shots. Just make it challenging for them."

Daniels was lauded for his defense before he signed with the Celtics in 2009, but his full potential was never achieved last season. When he was healthy enough to play, he struggled with inconsistencies. Daniels was determined to change that this summer.

So far he has impressed with his improvements on the offensive end. Now that he is injury-free, Daniels believes he has a lot to showcase on the defensive end as well.

"I'm a solid defensive player," he said. "I use my length, I use my strength, and I try to make it tough for guys, no matter what it is. I've got to challenge the ball, pressure all shots. I've just got to go out there and be a pest."

Daniels could get his first shot on Opening Night.

"He's been great," said Rivers. "So he's got to keep it going."

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comJCameratoNBA.

Stevens: Celtics shootaround resembled 'typical day'

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Stevens: Celtics shootaround resembled 'typical day'

BOSTON - Hours before the biggest game of their careers, the Boston Celtics walked into the TD Garden and took part in the team's walkthrough like they have done before any old game.

This is far from any old game. The team's playoff lives are on the line after a no-show in Atlanta. The Celtics have every reason to be jacked up headed into this one - and they most likely will get to that level right around pregame introductions - but following the lead of their level-headed coach has gotten them this far, and that isn't about to change.

"When the guys walk in, they came in, we went through our shootaround. Typical day," Stevens said. "The focus is always pretty good. It was good again today. Just ready to compete and excited to play in this building."

The Celtics should be excited to play in this building. They've played exceptionally well here as of late, beating the Hawks in both of their home playoff games. The fans brought their "A" game in those two games, and it's a foregone conclusion they'll bring it for Game 6.

When asked if players really can feed off the fans, Stevens answered by saying that without question they can.

"I've said this many times, I've been so impressed ever since I've been here with the Celtics fans," Stevens said. "You can clearly feel the energy levels increasing as the months go by and as the days go by with this group. And certainly the last few months with the way our guys have played in here and the amount of energy in here. It's been incredible. It's been fun to be a part of. Hopefully we can continue."

Olynyk's shoulder feeling better heading into Game 6

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Olynyk's shoulder feeling better heading into Game 6

BOSTON – Even during pre-game warmups, it was something that hasn’t been seen on the TD Garden floor in quite a while – Kelly Olynyk raising up for long, long 3-balls that hit nothing but the bottom of the net a la Steph Curry-style.

The 7-foot center cites his injured right shoulder feeling better – a lot better actually - for his much-improved confidence.

And the timing could not be any better as the Celtics prepare to fight for their playoff lives tonight against Atlanta which holds a 3-2 series lead and could close out this series with a win tonight.

The Hawks are one of the better teams in the East, but have certainly benefited from a number of Celtics being either out because of injuries (Avery Bradley, hamstring) or limited as is the case with Olynyk who did not play in Games 2 and 3 while seeing less than four minutes in Game 4.

When I asked Olynyk whether this was the best he has felt in this series, he responded, “by far.”

“It’s getting better every day,” he told CSNNE.com. “It’s getting stronger. The motion is coming back … time heals everything, right? The further along we get the better it gets.”

During the regular season, Olynyk averaged a career-high 10.0 points per game along with 4.1 rebounds in 20.2 minutes while shooting a team-best 40.5 percent from 3-point range.

In this series, Olynyk has averaged just 0.7 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists in just 8.7 minutes per game while shooting just 14.3 percent from the field which includes him missing both of his 3-point attempts in the series.

But health-wise, this is as good an opportunity for him to break out of his funk and do his part to help the Celtics live to play another game.

“The motion feels good,” he said. “A little discomfort but now it’s doing good. That’s where you want to be going into this game.”

Wyc Grousbeck: Celtics season ticket renewals at 98% for next season

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Wyc Grousbeck: Celtics season ticket renewals at 98% for next season

Celtics Managing Partner and CEO Wyc Grousbeck talks with Toucher & Rich about the 98% renewals on season tickets for next year, and how that is unheard of.