Doc Rivers

Celtics try to balance regular-season dominance with rest

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The Celtics are very good. The Celtics are also very old. Last season, the Celtics coasted to a 50-win season before flipping the switch in the playoffs and running through the Heat, Cavaliers, and Magic before pushing the Lakers to seven games in the NBA finals. This year the Celtics have been taking the regular season more seriously, to say the least. The 19-4 Celtics have been the best team in the Eastern Conference, and have won their last 10 games by an average of 14.6 points.

Still, Doc Rivers is doing best to keep his veteran team from pushing itself too hard, and the Celtics’ practice schedule has been less than rigorous. Here’s the report, courtesy of the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett:

The Celtics didn’t practice yesterday. They won’t practice today either. They may win the NBA championship this season, but the title of “Hardest Working Team in Show Business” is probably out of reach. And that’s by necessity.

Doc Rivers knows he must preserve his veterans if he hopes to lead them to a successful June. If that means they lose touch with the moniker worn by the late James Brown, well, so be it…

…Guard Ray Allen understands the difficult position that schedule, age and injury have combined to create.

“Even the practices we’ve had, there’s been a problem because so many guys have been out,” he said. “But it’s still helpful any time you can practice. You get to go over things — positioning, points of emphasis. Practice is always good. Unfortunately we have to heal up in the days between these games, so Doc is somewhat in a dilemma.:

“We don’t need any more injuries, so you have to try to avoid those problems. And so far we’ve been fine. Our energy’s been good…”

As point guard Rajon Rondo put it while he iced his feet late Saturday, “We’re doing a pretty good job without practicing.”

The Celtics’ winning streak has been great, but it’s also good to see that they haven’t lost sight of their ultimate goal and are trying their best to stay fresh for the end of the season. It may be frustrating for Celtics fans to watch their team drop a game or two at some point during the season because of sloppy execution, but Doc Rivers didn’t come back this season for a shot at the best record in the Eastern Conference. He came back for a shot at a championship.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.