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Shooting for dollars (or Pavlov's dogs)
This little motivational ploy (Pavlovian conditioning) of keeping our
focused on the "vision" has Doc Niednagel written all over it.
The good news is that we will not be facing Kidd and Martin tonight and
might even come out with a win... but watch Rodney Rogers steal our
thunder. It should be a really interesting game. Word has it that
Walter so enjoyed his five days of windsurfing in the Bahamas during
the 5-day break.
Nets remain a threat
No kidding, Celtics can't afford to slip
By Shira Springer, Globe Staff, 3/26/2004
WALTHAM -- It is unusual to see an NBA coach finish practice by handing
out hundred dollar bills to multimillionaire players. But interim coach John
Carroll did exactly that as the Celtics wrapped up practice yesterday
afternoon, doling out Ben Franklins to winners of a free throw shooting
contest. Carroll wanted to provide extra incentive when players stepped
to the line. Besides, on the last of five days without a game, the coaches
had to find a fun, creative way to keep the players focused.
Judging from the close, spirited conclusion of the Chucky Atkins-Walter
McCarty matchup, the approach appeared to work. Atkins gleefully walked
away the winner after sinking his last shot.
"That's expected," said Atkins. "Free throw shooting is going to be
important for us. We've got five road games left this season. If you look
at the stats, we're averaging 94.8 points per game and opposing teams
are averaging 96.5 points, so games are usually going to come down to
the last one or two possessions or a free throw here or a free throw
there. We're going to need to hit our free throws."
With a playoff berth on the line, Boston will look for every advantage it
can get, especially with two games against Atlantic Division rival New
Jersey over the next four days. The Celtics are 1-5 against the Nets
since the start of the 2002-03 season, not including playoff losses.
And the last two seasons New Jersey has knocked Boston out of the
Needless to say, the rivalry has been one-sided. But tonight, the Nets
will be shorthanded, with Jason Kidd on the injured list (left knee bone
bruise) and Kenyon Martin doubtful (left knee tendinitis).
Without Kidd, the Nets lose a veteran point guard who leads the league
with 9.5 assists per game. He also ranks in the top 10 with 1.8 steals
per game. Martin is the Nets' leading rebounder with 9.8 per game and
the No. 2 scorer at 17.4 points per game. But the Celtics know so-called
role players Lucious Harris, Kerry Kittles, and Rodney Rogers, and leading
scorer Richard Jefferson, have caused them trouble in the past.
In his one game this season against the Celtics, Harris had 14 points and
6 rebounds, well above his season averages. Jefferson has averaged
16.5 points and 5 rebounds against the Celtics this season. Kittles has
averaged 12.5 points and 3.5 rebounds against Boston, while Rogers
contributed 9 points and 2 rebounds the only time he faced his former
team this season.
"We can't look past the fact that they don't have those two guys [Kidd
and Martin] and that this will be an easy game for us," said Paul Pierce.
"We've got to take every game like we're a desperate team, which we
are, no matter who's on the team." Boston expects New Jersey to run
regardless of who is in the lineup or who is on the sideline coaching. But
under interim coach Lawrence Frank, the Nets don't always run their
Princeton offense and look more for mismatches.
"I look at [tonight's] game as a street fight," said Carroll. "We just have
to find some way to win. I don't really look at it like the last couple
In my opinion, circumstances are just so totally different. You don't have
Martin guarding Antoine [Walker]. You don't have Byron Scott. You don't
have Jim [O'Brien]. You don't have Eric [Williams]. It's a whole other thing.
I just look at it like they're in our way and they are stopping us from
getting where we want to go, and we have to beat them twice.
"I look at it more like a college season and we're trying to make the NCAA
Tournament. It's like you can't lose now. You have to make a statement
every single game. If you lose, you're just making life more difficult for
yourself. And we don't have enough games left to bail ourselves out if we
do lose a game." . . .
Pierce missed the last 20 minutes of practice after aggravating his
strained right hip. "It's still a little sore," he said. "I kind of tweaked
again. I don't think it's anything that will keep me out of the game. I don't
even think it will slow me down."