Doc's Honey-Do List: Home Improvement

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December 18, 2004

Doc Rivers knows any postseason plans hinge on his team playing better at the FleetCenter. While the Celtics' 114-106 win over the visiting Jazz last night gives hope for better play on the parquet, it also represents the exception to what has been a long-standing rule. "We have to play better at home," said Rivers. "We just do. I think over the last five years this team has [stunk] at home. They really have. We have to be better. If we want to get where we want to go, we cannot lose home games. We have to have more pride about it. We have to defend it like it's the last thing on earth. And we haven't done it."

But the Celtics have been a tougher team on the road, both mentally and physically. Their double overtime win Monday at Staples Center against the Clippers was a perfect example of that traveling toughness. The Celtics have averaged 94.3 points per game at home and 105.1 on the road. Defeating Utah by racking up 114 points represented only the third time this season that Boston has scored more than 100 points at home. "I don't know what we have to do," said Rivers before last night's win. "Obviously the coaches before me didn't figure it out, but we have to figure it out. It's a must. It's not a maybe. Maybe we need to have shootarounds here. There's been some thought [to practicing at the FleetCenter]. The danger is you get in the habit of going, then next year, if there's a hockey season, then you can't get the place again. But there are teams who never go to their place and play very well. So, to me, it's still a copout."

West improving

Fresh from the court and without a cast, an optimistic Delonte West headed into the Celtics locker room. The rookie point guard believes he is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a broken right hand. He hopes to return to competition in about three weeks, though the medical staff has the final call. West fractured his hand Nov. 28 at Miami. He remains content to follow his rehabilitation program and regain feeling in his fingers. "The doctor still has to look at it, but I'm getting fully back into it," said  West, who has a faint scar running down the top of his right hand, a reminder of the surgery he underwent for the injury and later donned a soft cast when he dressed in street clothes to watch last night's game. "I was out doing a little bit of shooting. It's not too swollen. It's just trying to get feeling back into the fingers. But it's still going to take about a couple weeks until I can go full tilt and take some contact on it. After two weeks, I'm very happy with the progress."

Deep thinking

Count Rivers among those who don't like the New Jersey-Toronto trade. Vince Carter was dealt to the Nets in exchange for Eric Williams, Aaron Williams, Alonzo Mourning and two first-round picks. The Celtics coach has purely selfish

reasons, since the deal should shake up the Atlantic Division and make the Nets a playoff contender. "It's a hell of a trade for New Jersey," said Rivers. "Vince is a hell of a player. He's not played well for the last eight, nine months, but we know it's in him. Richard Jefferson, Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, I don't particularly like that lineup. Somehow the league should have voided that trade.  I hope they still do, personally. I hope somebody flunks a physical. But I don't think that's going to happen. [New Jersey] is going to be really good. I hope they don't get it together until next year." . . . The Jazz fell to 2-8 without Andrei Kirilenko (strained right knee) in the lineup.

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