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Celtics notebook

Expect technical fouls to be tempered

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / October 1, 2010

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NEWPORT, R.I. — They’re setting the bar high on all fronts, apparently.

Over the past three seasons, technical fouls have been one of the Celtics’ calling cards; in the Big Three Era, they have racked up almost twice as many technicals as wins. Yesterday, coach Doc Rivers joked that with the league planning to tighten its guidelines for techs this season, the Celtics will be looking to set the record.

“We’re going to go for it,’’ Rivers said. “Last year we fell short of the technical record. You’ve got to have a goal, right?’’

The Celtics led the league last year with 107 technical fouls. The year before that, they rang up a league-high 117. In the first year of the Big Three, they were hit with 97.

But they will be without their two biggest offenders in Rasheed Wallace and Kendrick Perkins. Wallace, the league’s career leader in technical fouls, is retired; Perkins, the new dartboard for officials, will miss at least half the season rehabbing a torn ACL.

Perkins tied Dwight Howard for the most techs in the league last season (15), and Wallace was right behind with 14.

“It’s going to be tough,’’ Rivers said. “We won’t have Perk or Rasheed for the first half. So I don’t know how we’re going to set it, but we’re going to have to work on it somehow.’’

Understanding that his team has a reputation, Rivers put the sarcasm aside long enough to address the possible impact of the new guidelines.

“Listen, the game is played with emotion, all right,’’ Rivers said. “That doesn’t mean it has to be negative emotion. But it is an emotional game.

“I just want the officials to see what they call and call what they see. They can’t dehumanize the game. Even on some of the things that they say they’re going to call every time, they know the difference when the guy is more upset at himself that he is upset at the official.

“We can’t get so caught up in the aesthetics of the game that it takes away from the actual basketball.’’

Really big shoe
With a personality as big as Shaquille O’Neal joining a locker room already bursting with characters, one question was how they’d all come together.

So far, it has been fun and games.

The laugh of the day yesterday came via Nate Robinson, who took O’Neal’s size-22 shoes for a test drive. With most players sitting on the sideline shooting the breeze at the end of practice, Robinson put on Shaq’s shoes and ran suicides. His feet appeared to be in cinder blocks.

“They are heavier than bricks, way heavier,’’ Robinson said. “I think that’d be a good punishment. Guys gotta run in Shaq shoes if you don’t do something right.’’

Robinson then played some one-on-one with Delonte West. The whole time, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were shooting video on their phones. Garnett could barely keep from cracking up.

“The chemistry is very good,’’ he said. “It’s a zoo around here. But we’re getting some work done at the same time.

“It’s a loose environment around here until we hit the floor. That’s where it all breaks loose. Very competitive.’’

Rivers said the players are aware of the concerns about chemistry and want to prove doubters wrong.

“They’ve heard a lot about the personalities,’’ said Rivers, “and I think they’ve heard that they’re not going to be able to get it together.’’

Worst-kept secret
Though the word is out that his son Austin has decided to commit to Duke, Rivers said he is not announcing it officially. Not wanting to be both father and spokesman, he said, “I’ll wait and let him do it.’’ . . . The cast of college coaches in the building included Bryant’s Tim O’Shea, Rhode Island’s Jimmy Baron, and Al Skinner, formerly of Boston College . . . Rivers wasn’t terribly moved by the new D-League rule that allows teams to allocate three of their final camp cuts, but he would like an option for rehab stints there. For instance, he would like a player such as Perkins to be able to play in the D-League the way a pitcher makes rehab starts in the minors in baseball. Of course, it probably would be impossible to get the Players Association to agree to that. “I think we should be able to rehab a guy in the NBDL, even if he’s a veteran, if a veteran wants to,’’ Rivers said. “It would be great to use it that way, but that’ll never happen.’’

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.

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