* You can bet that the more sensitive Orlando Magic players, coaches and fans will eventually find and pull out this quote from Kendrick Perkins on guarding Dwight Howard (via the Globe’s Gary Washburn):
“If you are going to throw blows, you got to be able to receive them. He likes to get physical but he don’t like for nobody to get physical with him. He wants to be the one doing all the pushing and things like that. I mean, if you are a physical person, you like the contact, you should invite it.’’
Also: I love Perk.
* Scott Souza has an interesting story in which Doc Rivers comes out and says he already likes the attitude of this Celtics team better than that of last year’s club. Some excerpts:
“I love our team right now in that they have not been happy with half our wins and the way they performed,” the coach said. “Last year’s group, I can tell you, was nowhere near that. Our goal is not to win games in a row this year. Our goal is bigger than that.”
“Last year’s team reacted to winning streaks,” Rivers said. “They flexed their muscles. They got big over winning streaks. That’s taking your eye off what you’re playing for and the process.
“This team has been very good at that. The difference this year is a winning streak doesn’t change the way they play. Last year, you could visibly see it (get worse). I kept saying we were playing awful. You could see it building. This year, you can see they are unhappy when we don’t play well and win anyway. Last year, they were just happy we won the game.”
Also from Souza: Doc and Ray Allen see a major side benefit in bringing in some “older” veterans (Sheed, Marquis Daniels and Shelden Williams, though the latter is not much older than Lester Hudson) this season:
“Our team got younger last year,” Rivers blamed. “I thought we swung our locker room to a young locker room. This year, we swung it back to a veteran locker room. I went out and got veterans with high character.”
This is one of those things when you just have to take the coach’s word for it.
And I see no reason not to. The only caveat I’ll toss in is that this team has clearly—even blatantly—played down to its competition in a half-dozen home games this season. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing; it’s probably inevitable and good for an aging team to ease off on the intensity now and then over the full 82. But that does complicate Doc’s portrait of this club as a team that avoids self-satisfaction, no?
* Speaking of self-satisfaction, the Globe’s Gary Washburn has a nice update on Gabe Pruitt, now playing with the LA-based D-League team. Pruitt sounds like a guy who believes he has NBA-level skills but failed to approach the pro game with the professionalism it requires:
“It is a humbling experience when you play at the Staples Center and there’s 10 people there,’’ said Pruitt. “It makes you work that much harder. I want to get back to the top – the fans, the signs, people coming in wearing your jerseys.”
“The difference is, I think I am a harder worker now,’’ he said after scoring 15 points in 47 minutes against Bakersfield. “I have a better understanding of what it takes to be a pro.
“In Boston, I was young and I was living that lifestyle of a young guy with all the stuff being handed to me, and now I’ve got to take a step back.
“I see it now: This is what I had. It can be taken away real quick, which it was for me, and coming back here, it really showed me and opened my eyes that this is a business and you can make moves at any time.’’
Good for Gabe. As the Globe points out, we’re a week away from the point where teams can start signing guys to 10-day contracts. Pruitt may have a shot at catching on with a team that has a) roster space; and b) the need for a back-up point guard.
On a side note, I had forgotten that Pruitt left USC earlier than planned because the school signed O.J. Mayo, who obviously was going to take some of Pruitt’s minutes in the back court. Damn Tim Floyd and his envelopes stuffed with cash!
* Speaking of guys with self-admitted (to a degree) attitude issues, the Herald devotes yet more ink to Rasheed Wallace’s problem with technical fouls. Apparently, even Sheed’s wife has been on him about the techs:
“When we met with Sheed and his wife this summer, both of them said something like, ‘Yes, this is something we have to work on, something we need to get better at,’ ” the Celtics president of basketball operations said. “I know he can get better at this. I don’t know that he will, but I know that he can.”
And I could train to run a marathon. I don’t know that I will, but I know that I can.
Ainge also applauds Sheed for resisting the Technical Temptation against Orlando, when the C’s were short-handed:
“The other night he played 36 minutes and didn’t come close to a technical,” Ainge said. “He obviously can stop when he has to. He had 12 a couple of years ago and didn’t get suspended.”
This seems to be a fairly low standard for congratulations. No one pats me on the back on the days when I show up to work wearing pants.
* The Herald’s Mark Murphy includes a brief interview with Pacers (and former C’s) head coach Jim O’Brien in his notebook today. O’Brien says this about Marquis Daniels:
“Marquis has an extremely high basketball IQ.
“He’s a great pickup for them. Marquis is a playmaker, he does very subtle things offensively that maybe don’t show up on the stat sheet. He has an uncanny ability to move without the basketball, and even though he’s not necessarily going to stretch the floor, you turn your head on Marquis for an instant and he’s at the basket for a layup.
“There’s some guys, like Dahntay Jones is learning, that when they sag towards the lane on him he needs to have that sixth sense. When somebody’s not paying attention to you, you find a way to hurt that person.”
There are hundreds of NBA players that are better athletes than Daniels in a vertical leap/40-yard-dash sense, but O’Brien is right that Daniels does the unmeasurable things very, very well. I’m not sure he’s fallen for a pump fake all season long; the Grand Marquis keeps his feet on the floor and keeps his man in front of him. Simple and smart hoops.
* Finally, Doc is already playing down the importance of the Christmas win at Orlando. Via the Herald:
“Like I tell you about the whole statement game stuff, it is until – when? – the next time you play them? I don’t get all that stuff,” the coach said.
I agree. As I wrote yesterday, those getting carried away with this win are already forgetting what the Magic did to Boston in November. Do the C’s present problems for Orlando that perhaps no other team in the league presents? Sure. But Orlando presents unique problems for Boston, too.
These are evenly matched teams. Throw in the Cavs and the Hawks, and the Eastern Conference playoffs are going to be a blood bath.
Enjoy your Sunday. We’ll be back to take you through the Clips game today and tonight.