A couple great stories from Jason Collins‘ podcast withBill Simmons about Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett that might instill some confidence in Celtics fans prior to Game 5 against the Knicks …
What’s your best Kevin Garnett story?
“He could be telling you about the weather, and he’ll break out in a full sweat. His intensity is just non-stop. It’s infectious. It makes you work even harder and makes you want to show up even earlier to practice, because you know that this guy is sacrificing his body. He plays through so much behind the scenes. He puts himself out there emotionally and physically. He’s a pro’s pro.”
Will he retire at the end of this season?
“You’ve got to ask him that. I hope not.”
Could you see him shutting that switch off?
He’s going to be that way until the end of his days. He’ll be going hard in a nursing home, although I don’t think he’ll ever be in a nursing home with the amount of money he’s making. He’ll have the suite.
“His intensity is really inspiring. I think if he ever chooses to be an assistant coach, he’d be great. I don’t know if he ever has that in him. He would be awesome with Charles [Barkley on TV]. They might need a seven-second delay for him. Obviously, he can do whatever he wants.”
Is Doc Rivers the best coach you’ve played for?
“I played for a lot of great coaches, but there’s a special place in my heart for Doc Rivers. Just the way he always talks about the team, and me being a team guy, it just really spoke to my heart. Not only the team, but it’s a family. He had that one saying that just stuck with me: If you want to go quickly, go by yourself. If you want to go farther, you’ve got to go in a group.’ It’s comments like that — that someone like me, a team guy who sacrifices so much — I appreciate his professionalism.
“I hadn’t played in a long stretch of games, and he called me into his office and said, ‘Jason, I want you to know that we see you working hard in the training room, and when you’re opportunity comes, just be ready.’ I’m like, ‘Doc, you don’t even need to have that conversation with me. I appreciate that you show me that professional courtesy, that respect of having that conversation with me, but you don’t have to have that conversation with me, because I’m already there with you.’
“He really is an amazing leader, and KG and Paul [Pierce] can speak better to the kind of person, coach and leader he is.”
NEW YORK — No one knows trash talking like Kevin Garnett.
He also knows how to tune it out like no one else, or at least not feed into publicly.
J.R. Smith said there wouldn’t be a Game 5 Wednesday night in New York if he had not been suspended for Game 4, while Kenyon Martin is suggesting black formal wear at Madison Square Garden for the Celtics’ funeral.
The focus was on Kevin Garnett and Celtics Wednesday morning before Game 5 in New York. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)
NEW YORK — No one knows trash talking like Kevin Garnett.
He also knows how to tune it out like no one else, or at least not feed into publicly.
J.R. Smith said there wouldn’t be a Game 5 tonight in New York if he had not been suspended for Game 4 while Kenyon Martin is suggesting black formal wear at Madison Square Garden for the Celtics’ funeral.
“I have not paid attention to none of the shenanigans,” Garnett said before Wednesday morning’s shootaround at Madison Square Garden.
Garnett says he knows what it will take to be successful in Game 5 – taking one possession at a time and not getting overwhelmed by New York’s tenacious defense.
“It’s not that hard to be honest,” Garnett said of the approach. “Taking one possession at a time is something you have to be conscious of, not individually but as a group. Understanding each possession and what it means, the importance of that possession. Small things are what’s going to make this a do-or-die type of game.
“I think it’s more, not for us to [instill] doubt, but it’s important to show some type of barrier, if not willingness, in this whole game. We know we’re playing on the road and we know they play really well here. I think the important thing is not to get down, to come out with some fire and play throughout with that fire.”
Garnett appreciates some of the fire on the Celtics bench in the form of Rajon Rondo. Garnett said he’s been huge in helping Avery Bradley and Terrence Williams while being an extra pair of eyes for him and Paul Pierce in the post.
“More importantly, he’s talking to Avery, T-Will, the guys who play the point guard position, Paul and I about opportunity and being aggressive, giving coaching staff a perspective. Doe is a very smart guy, very high-IQ when it comes to a lot of different things. He’s giving his take on what he sees out there as far as where he’s at. But more importantly being a safety net for Avery right now. Avery goes through periods where it’s difficult. It’s going to happen. We’ve all been young before. Just being like a security blanket for Avery and anyone else who needs it.”
Garnett has 34 rebounds in the last two games. What has been the secret to success?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t really [put] thought into it, to be honest. A lot of rebounding is timing. Tyson and I, Kenyon and I are down there battling for the ball. It’s not one or two things that go into it, nor would I like to share but the things that I have been doing are working for me and I’m going to stick with it.
“You don’t have a choice whether you like it or not. It’s whether you adapt or not. If you don’t adapt, you know what end you end up on and I don’t want to end up on that end.”
Will Paul Pierce be back in Boston next season? (AP)
NEW YORK — The reality could hit soon and very hard for Paul Pierce and the Celtics if Boston doesn’t win Game 5 here at Madison Square Garden.
Reminded at the Wednesday morning shootaround that he is entering the final year of his current contract next season and could be playing his last game in a Celtics uniform, Pierce was philosophical.
“I’ve always been a guy who says things happen for a reason,” Pierce said. “I was a No. 10 [overall] pick [in 1997]. I did not anticipate that. I just always feel like through my whole career things everything is going to fall into the right place for me. So, I really don’t give much thought until after the season. But I know, at the end of the day, whatever I do, whatever they do, it’s going to fall into the right place for me.”
Pierce is signed through next season for just over $15.3 million but it is not guaranteed. Pierce is aware that the team could trade him in the offseason if the Celtics want to clear space, and if another team acquires him and then dumps the contract.
“I’ve always said that I want to end my career as a Celtic but they are the ones [who decide],” Pierce said. “I have a year contract for next year but it’s not guaranteed so the decision is in their hands. But, whatever they decision they make… Maybe if they trade me somewhere or I end up somewhere else, maybe it could be a situation where I come back for a one-day deal and retire as a Celtic.
“Right now, it’s just year-by-year. I expect to play another year next year and then evaluate after that.”
Wally Szczerbiak joined the show and told the guys the series is not over quite yet and that he has a lot of respect for the Celtic players and Doc Rivers. Wally also said that he would have no problem playing with Carmelo Anthony even though he is a ball hog.
Collins told C’s coach Doc Rivers a few days ago and phoned Celtics captain Paul Pierce before the news broke on Monday morning. Rivers, Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green and Jason Terry all expressed genuine happiness for Collins, and their words must reinforce the erstwhile Celtics center’s decision to come forward.
Here are the Celtics speaking about Collins in their own words:
Did you think you’d ever see an athlete come out when he was still active?
Garnett: “I never really gave it much thought, to be honest. People’s sexual preference has nothing to do with my own.”
What’s your reaction to Jason Collins’ statement?
Pierce: “I had a chance to talk to Jason before the news broke. The crazy thing about it is that it’s always something I mentally thought was going to happen — that there was going to be a gay player in professional sports to come out. It just so happens that he seems to be the first, and I was one of his teammates.
“To each his own. I think it’s going to open a door to many more. There are so many professional athletes, there are so many human beings, that live a dark life, that are afraid to expose it because of the exposure of sports and what people might think about them, but I think what he did was a great thing — to just open a door to a number of athletes that are going to have the courage to come out.”
Rivers: “When he called me to tell me, you could tell he wanted to tell me. I told him before he said it, ‘Jason, I could care less about what you’re about to tell me.’ And that’s how I feel. I honestly feel that way. It’s a non-factor to me, and I know it is a factor to a lot of people. I’ve just never understood why anyone cares what someone else does. You know what I mean by that? And I told Jason that. I said, It’ll be a non-issue, eventually, but it will not be right now.’ And it’ll be news. Maybe it should be or shouldn’t be. I don’t even know the answer to that.”
Green: “I was happy for him. He’s a good friend of mine. He was a great teammate. Like Doc said, he’s a pro’s pro. He led by example, did what he had to do and he went about his business. I’m truly, truly happy for him, and I’m glad he’s happy.”
Terry: “I’m happy for him. It looks like he had a huge, tremendous weight lifted off of him. That’s all you can ask — for any man and woman to be at peace with themselves — and then you can go find that ultimate happiness. I think that’s where he is. Being a teammate of his, I know how hard he works, how dedicated he is to his craft. He was a great teammate, regardless of his sexual preference. It didn’t matter to me. I liked him as a guy, as a teammate, and I still do.”
Did he ask you if you thought he should come out?
Rivers: “He told me he was coming out, and I told him, ‘Great, good, let’s move forward.’ And I jokingly said, ‘I wish you could have gotten me more rebounds,’ because that’s all I care about really at the end of the day.”
Green: “We’re all here for the same reason, and that’s to win. It doesn’t matter to me. We play basketball, and that’s our job. No matter if you’re gay or if you’re straight, it doesn’t matter to me. We play basketball, and that’s our job. What you do outside the court, that’s your business.”
Would you like to have him as a teammate next year?
Pierce: “That’s up to the organization. I thought while he was here, he was very professional, and we need more guys like that. The way he carried himself, what he did off the court and in practice, he was one of the more professional players you’ll see. There was the time at the beginning of the year when he didn’t play much, but what you saw from him was a guy who came in and got his work done and didn’t complain. We need more guys like him.”
Green: “He was an awesome teammate. He played the game hard. He set good screens, and he got me open, so that’s all you can ask for.”
Terry: “We definitely needed his toughness, and I would love to have it in this series. He’s one of the toughest guys in the NBA.”
Green: “He showed me what it takes to be a pro. I’m young. This is only my fifth year, and when you have a veteran like him who comes to work every day and does his job, that’s all a coach can ask and that’s something that a young guy looks up to.”
WALTHAM — Asked if he’s allowed himself to think what might become of these Celtics if they return a healthy Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger next season, Kevin Garnett wouldn’t take the bait.
“I haven’t given any thought to next year,” he said. “I’m just trying to focus on this game coming up.”
Those injuries left the Celtics scrambling to sign the China trio of Terrence Williams, Shavlik Randolph and D.J. White in addition to trading for Jordan Crawford. As a result, the team’s inability to set a rotation entering Game 5 of their first-round series against the Knicks hasn’t come as a surprise to Garnett.
“Our team was formed a little late, so we’ve been behind the 8-ball, if you will, as far as chemistry and just trying to make sure everything is always coming together on a consistent basis,” said KG. “That’s not easy to do, so, no, it doesn’t surprise me that we’re still in those stages.”
Still, Garnett doesn’t make excuses. As usual, he spoke in truths prior to Tuesday’s practice.
“We have no pressure at this point,” he said. “It should be an all-out mentality, and we should play with a free mind and an aggressive mind. We’ll take this thing one game at a time and see what happens. Other than that, we put ourselves in this position. We can’t be moaning about it too much.”
Garnett is averaging 11.3 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and a block in 33.0 minutes in the series.
Doc Rivers asking his team to take another Game 7 approach Wednesday. (AP)
WALTHAM — It’s a theme that began last weekend after the Game 3 loss to the Knicks. Every game the rest of the series is like Game 7. It worked in Game 4 as the Celtics won, 97-90, in overtime but the Knicks still lead the series, 3-1.
“Like I told them, what’s the difference between being down 0-3 and being in a Game 7?” Doc Rivers asked rhetorically. “It’s no different. It’s an elimination game. The difference is your mindset. In a Game 7 you’re thinking, ‘Let’s win it to win it.’ When you’re down 0-3, you never know. You may have a couple guys making vacation plans, thinking you can’t do it. It’s all about the mindset. And that’s what I told our guys before the game the other night and that will be the message still. Each game you win, it is a Game 7. If you advance, you just advance to another game instead of to the next round. That’s got to be our mindset.”
Rivers knows veterans like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry fully understand that message. The hope is that it’s filters to players like Avery Bradley and Jeff Green Wednesday night in New York.
“You know, Game 7s are all out,” Garnett said before Tuesday’s practice. “It’s just what they are. They’re your last opportunity to survive and your mentality can’t be anything different. We have no pressure at this point. It should be an all-out mentality and you should play with a free mind and an aggressive mind and take this thing one game at a time and see what happens. Other than that, we put [ourselves] in this position, and we can’t [complain] about too much.”
Did Sunday’s Game 4 OT win instill more confidence in the group as they hit the road?
“Don’t know,” Rivers answered. “I’m hoping that we had confidence to begin with, but I honestly don’t know. I think we are really looking forward to the next game.”
What was clear to Rivers and his coaching staff from watching film is that another 18 turnovers Wednesday in New York like they had on Sunday will end the season. Aside from turning the ball over, the Celtics need to repeat their offensive flow of the first half, when they shot 50 percent and built a 19-point halftime lead.
“Well, we have to repeat it,” Rivers said. “It’s clear when we play a certain way, and that’s in an attack mode, not settling offensively, moving the ball, getting in transition, we’re hard to stop. It’s also clear when we get into the half-court and slow the ball down we’re not that hard to stop and that’s obvious.”
Other nuggets from Tuesday practice from Doc Rivers:
Second chance points. Frustrating for KG? “That’s frustrating for him. And some of them were switches where we switch and Chandler is underneath with a guard. We got called for two face guard block outs, which is legal. And I think we have to explain that honestly to our official, because it doesn’t look legal and I agree with them in that, but it actually is a legal position. We’re telling our guards instead of backing up, turn around and face guard them and block them out that way. Your’e not going to get the ball, but they’re not going to either. So that’s something we’re trying to do. but their guards got a lot of rebounds too. Shumpert hurt us on the glass. Jason Kidd hurt us on the glass too. So we can’t give up the extra shots with the turnovers and the offensive rebounds and expect to win tomorrow on the road. We just can’t do that. So we have to definitely fix the turnovers first and then the rebounds second.
On admiring KG for hard work it takes to get ready? “No, people have no idea what he goes through, and you can’t unfortunately. But it really is watching him just in there now doing all the stuff that they’re doing, the stretching. He just plays because he loves it, and it’s will. A lot of guys would just not play anymore. The fact that he does and to the level that he does it, I mean he’s a rebounding machine for us right now, and we need it.”
What to expect from Melo with return of J.R. Smith from one-game suspension? “Well, listen, Felton took up all the slack for J.R. so that dynamic is that dynamic. Felton is going to come back, he’s going to be very aggressive. He’s going to want to wash away the demons that he created, and that’s fine by us. Melo is a problem every night against every team. And I don’t know if you hold him to 10-for-35 or if he goes 10-for-35. Him, LeBron and Durant, I’ve already said that about all three. You’re not sure if you’re holding them to 10-for-35 or he just goes 10-for-35, so we’re hoping that he goes or he hold him. Whichever way you want to have it. We hope it happens again.”
On KG getting 10 shots a game. Want to get him more? “Well, I don’t mind. They’re trapping, so it’s hard. Again, don’t get fooled by stats. If you threw it to him 40 times and they trapped every time, he’s still only going to get 10 shots. He’s getting the ball a lot, but they’re trying to take it from him a lot as well. I just wish we did a better job of taking advantage of it when they do trap him. That’s where I would say I’m the most disappointed with us offensively, because we work on it every day, and we really haven’t taken advantage of their traps and we have to do a better job there.”
Same with Pierce? “Yeah, exactly. It’s both. We know it’s no secret. They’re going to trap Paul, they’re going to trap Kevin and all year we’ve done a great job of really attacking traps, to the point where teams stopped trapping us. And for whatever reason, we just have not made the open shots. But honestly, I don’t think we made the right decisions. I thought we settled in the second half on the traps. We settled for long shots, quick shots, instead of attacking it back off the dribble, and we have to do that.”
On Jason Collins news: “Well, we had talked, so I wasn’t surprised by the article or the statement because we had talked about it recently though. So, other than that. no.”
Was it was talked about and was Rivers surprised? “I don’t know. I don’t know if I was surprised, or really didn’t care one way or the other. When he called me to tell me, and you could tell he wanted to tell me, I told him before he said it, ‘Jason, I could care less about what you’re about to tell me.’ And that’s how I feel, I honestly feel that way. I could care less what any of you guys do. It’s a nonfactor to me, and I know it’s a factor to a lot of people, I just have never understood why anyone cares about what someone else does. You know what I mean by that? And I told Jason that. I said it will be a nonissue eventually, but it will not be right now. And it will be news, and maybe it should be or shouldn’t be, I don’t even know the answer to that.
“No, he told me he was coming out. And I told him great, good. Let’s move forward. And I jokingly said, I wish you could have gotten me more rebounds, because that’s all I care about really at the end of the day.”
Paul Pierce on the key to the offense:
“I think we can’t allow their ball pressure to get to us,” Paul Pierce said. “I think sometimes we’re rushing. They’re going to get up into the ball, they’re going to pick up full-court. So, we’ve just got to be patient. We can’t have any unforced turnovers. A lot of times we have some of those. And when we drive to the basket, when we get into the paint, we have to be cautious of their slap downs. They’re not a big shot blocking team so they like to strip when you get in the lane, so we have to be very cautious of that.
“It’s got to be a collective effort. It has to come from all five guys. Even the point guards, the two guards, myself. We have to gang rebound. Kevin’s in there working, doing his job, and we can’t depend on that. There’s going to be nights when he’s not going to be able to get 17 rebounds, so we have to be able to collectively help him out on the glass and we have to do a better job of boxing out our man.”