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.

Donovan Mitchell: I was at LeBron James’ Decision

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Donovan Mitchell has turned heads with the Jazz then made the most of his All-Star stage, winning the dunk contest.

But that wasn’t the first time he neared the spotlight.

Mitchell explained how he attended The Decision, LeBron James‘ 2010 free-agency TV special, where he announced he’d sign with the Heat.

Mitchell, via Dan Devine of Yahoo Sports:

“I was there, when he had The Decision,” Mitchell explained. “So that would probably be the biggest one.”

Like, there there?

“It was in Greenwich, Conn., and I went to school in Greenwich [at Greenwich Country Day School],” he said. “So, as a big LeBron fan in the sixth grade, I forced my mom to let me go. I wanted him to go to Miami. I wanted him to get his first ring.”

Young Donovan was glad to see one of his favorite players chart a course for a more successful future. Not everybody at the Greenwich Boys & Girls Club shared his enthusiasm.

“The people there who were Knicks fans … they weren’t too happy about it,” Mitchell said. “I almost got hit in the head with a Snapple bottle because they were just throwing stuff around outside. It was cool. I was just celebrating, so it was pretty cool.”

What a cool bit of happenstance.

Damian Lillard’s goal in meeting with Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen: ‘Spark that urgency’

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Alleviating Paul Allen’s fear, Damian Lillard didn’t request a trade in his requested meeting with the Trail Blazers owner.

So, what did Lillard want to accomplish?

Lillard, in an interview with Rachel Nichols of ESPN:

It was just me showing urgency, spark that urgency, figure out, “OK, what do we have to do?” We’re a five, six seed. What do we got to do to make the jump? If you don’t have a line of communication with people who can make the changes or the people who can make impact for things happening for the better, then you’re just going out there playing.

Paralyzed by a huge payroll, the Trail Blazers have been going the opposite direction. They dumped Allen Crabbe and Noah Vonleh in their last two significant trades. Portland could let Ed Davis and Shabazz Napier walk in free agency this summer. Luxury-tax concerns aren’t vanishing. Evan Turner‘s, Maurice Harkless’ and Meyers Leonard‘s are major obstacles to upgrading the roster.

The Trail Blazers could be stuck.

That’d be rough news for Lillard, who’s already 27. I understand why he’s trying to push the envelope. His prime is ticking down.

I’m just not sure Portland can help him accomplish his championship-contention goals anytime soon, as hard as he presses.

Adam Silver jokingly thanks Magic Johnson for paying for All-Star Legends Brunch

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The NBA held its annual All-Star Legends Brunch last weekend. Jerry West, James Worthy, Bill Walton and Magic Johnson were honored.

And NBA commissioner Adam Silver delivered a great line while addressing the event.

Silver, via Steve Aschburner of NBA.com:

“Magic, thank you for paying for the brunch today.”

So, that’s why Johnson got fined for $50,000 for tampering for innocuous comments about Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Nate ‘Tiny’ Archibald reveals he’s living with incurable heart disease

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The National Basketball Players Association and NBA set up health screenings for former players.

Nate “Tiny” Archibald, who starred for the Kansas City Kings and Boston Celtics, took advantage. Unfortunately, he learned a difficult outcome.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

IT WAS DECEMBER 2016 when Archibald learned of his diagnosis, during a free screening at the New York offices of the NBPA. And now, more than a year later, he’s still reeling from the news.

“What I have is really rare,” he says. “There’s no pills, nothing they have found that works. I’m being tested all the time, just hoping, you know?

“My [heart] could go any minute. But I’m not ready for that. I want to be around for a long time.”

The medical community has had little success solving the riddle of amyloidosis. For those who suffer from it, aside from participating in clinical trials, or the possibility of a heart transplant, which at Archibald’s age may not be viable, there isn’t much that can be done.

We celebrated Archibald’s 69th birthday last fall with this highlight video. If you’re not familiar with the 6-foot-1 guard’s exciting game, get acquainted:

Hopefully, Archibald gets his wish and sticks around a long time.