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Celtics notebook

Big Three get food for thought

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / June 23, 2011

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WALTHAM — It takes a minor miracle to get all three stars together during the offseason, but Doc Rivers broke bread with Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce a couple weeks ago to go over the way last season ended and once again pass along the memo that the championship window is getting smaller.

Allen and Garnett are 35, Pierce is 33. The tick-tocks are getting louder.

Losing to the Heat in the second round of the playoffs after reassembling the core for one more run was tough to swallow. Perhaps more difficult, Rivers said, than losing to the Lakers in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals.

“It’s funny, we lost a Game 7 last year and I thought this year was more disappointing in some ways,’’ Rivers said. “It was a lot of ‘damn’ moments, to be honest. I wish we could have played better. I wish we would have had our health with [Rajon Rondo] and that [Shaquille O’Neal] had given us some minutes.’’

Retracing their steps, they looked at regular-season games they coughed up — home losses to the Clippers, Grizzlies, and Bobcats in March, for instance — and realized they could have made their playoff path an easier one.

“We gave away some games,’’ Rivers said. “All kinds of things could have happened, but they didn’t, and I think our guys understand that.’’

Shaping up Six weeks after his gruesome elbow injury in Game 3 of the Miami series, Rondo was in the Celtics practice facility running the treadmill. He’s still a ways from serious action on the court, however. “He’s probably about four weeks away from playing basketball full speed,’’ said Celtics president Danny Ainge. “But he can do some training and conditioning right now.’’ A handful of players have dropped in during the offseason, including Allen and Pierce as well as Jermaine O’Neal, who opted not to have surgery on the left wrist he injured in the first round of the playoffs. “It’s not like our generation, where you got out of shape and used camp to get back into shape,’’ Rivers said. “I think it’s changed that way. They know their body better.’’

Frank talk The choice for Lawrence Frank is essentially taking the head coaching job with the Pistons or remaining as Rivers’s lead assistant. Frank was in the running for jobs in Houston (which went to Kevin McHale), Toronto (Dwayne Casey), and Golden State (Mark Jackson). “Lawrence has interest in coming back,’’ Ainge said. “He’s been a top candidate on a lot of teams this year, runner-up in a couple of places. So we want Lawrence back.’’

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