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Rondo to fans: We need you tonight

04.28.09 at 12:23 pm ET
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WALTHAM – Rajon Rondo is looking for a little help from some of the most loyal fans in the NBA.

Tonight, as the Celtics prepare to battle the Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference series at TD Banknorth Garden, Rondo and his mates will look to put that grueling double-overtime loss in Game 4 in Chicago behind them.

When you spend 3 hours, 33 minutes battling, only to lose and have to hop on a plane and play 48 hours later in playoff intensity, it’s understandable that you would look for a pick-me-up wherever you can find it.

“I think it’s important for us, to get the crowd in early,” Rondo said. “I think it’s very key. I think it’s one of the most important things besides us playing well tonight is for the crowd to be into it.”

The man who has averaged a triple-double in this series, with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, will be called upon to get the Celtics offense into high gear at the start.

“We look at it as a game we have to win,” Rondo said Tuesday morning. “We looked at Game 4 the same way. We could have separated the series if we had won Game 4 but we have to move on.”

Rondo has two triple-doubles in this series, in the Game 2 win, and the Game 4 loss. Celtics coach Doc Rivers would welcome another triple double but what he’s really looking for is  just a steady court presence.

“That would be great,” Rivers said of another triple-double. “His numbers are almost gaudy at times. We don’t expect those numbers, we just expect his solid play. Sometimes, even when he plays and has a great, solid numbers it doesn’t translate into number. But so far this series it has.”

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Doc on Garnett: There’s a chance, not a very good one

04.28.09 at 11:35 am ET
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WALTHAM – Responding to a radio report by Reggie Miller to Dan Patrick that Kevin Garnett could return if the Celtics made it to the second round, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said this morning that Garnett is still out indefinitely with his sore right knee, adding, “Like I’ve said before, yeah, there’s a chance, it’s not a very good one,” Rivers said. “I guess you could report that and it’s correct but it’d be incorrect.”

Garnett has been reduced to a role of cheerleader during the series, spending most of his time on the Celtics bench while Leon Powe tore the ACL in his left knee in Game 2 and is lost for the playoffs.

Garnett will need surgery on bone spurs in his right knee that are not related to his tendinitis in the back of the same knee. Garnett is holding off on the procedure in the remote hope that he could return if the Celtics advance past the first round.

Meanwhile, no decision has been made on when to proceed with surgery on Powe’s knee.

The Celtics will once again be without Garnett and Leon Powe (left knee) tonight when they battle the Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of the first round Eastern Conference series, with the series tied, 2-2. Gametime is 7 p.m. at TD Banknorth Garden. For more, visit the Green Street blog.

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Miller: KG could return

04.28.09 at 8:31 am ET
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TNT analyst Reggie Miller told the Dan Patrick Show that he believes Kevin Garnett will return if the Celtics advance to the next round of the playoffs. While Miller did not confirm that Garnett told him this, the two are neighbors in Malibu, California. Garnett injured his knee in February against the Utah Jazz. He recently decided to postpone surgery.

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Doc: Jacoby’s steal gave me something to smile about

04.27.09 at 2:42 pm ET
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WALTHAM – When you go through what Doc Rivers went through on Sunday in Chicago, you’ll look for any good reason to smile.

While watching the fifth inning of Sunday night’s Red Sox-Yankees game on TV, he got that reason.

Red Sox speedster Jacoby Ellsbury took off for home on a straight steal with the bases loaded and just barely made it under the tag of Jorge Posada, sparking the Red Sox to their 10th straight win.

“That was cool,” said Rivers, who has cheered hard for the Red Sox since coming to town in 2004. “That actually put a smile on my face. One of the few smiles I had on my face was that play. Thank gosh that happened.”

And after coming back from Chicago and getting back to his Boston apartment following his team’s 121-118 double-overtime loss in Game 4, he was in the mood to put on something to just take him away.

And with the Red Sox winning their 10th straight, Rivers was also looking for a little Boston sports karma.

“I’m happy with the way they’re playing,” Rivers said. “I want some of that. I want us to do that, too.”

Following Sunday’s 3-hour, 33-minute marathon, the team did not practice today. Instead they watched film and held a very light shootaround. The Celtics play the Bulls in Game 5 Tuesday night at the Garden, with the series tied, 2-2.

“We may not have even needed the film, to be honest,” Rivers said. “But sometimes when you lose the way you lost (Sunday) and execution is not perfect, I think it’s just better to get the guys together and put them in the same locker room. Hell, I should’ve just sat in there and sang songs or whatever. Kumbaya or whatever.

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Doc: Perkins is a target of officials

04.27.09 at 2:18 pm ET
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WALTHAM – Doc Rivers has said all year that his team has a target on its back. Now, he feels, there’s someone else taking aim.

After watching video of the two fouls called on Kendrick Perkins for two moving screens, in which there was little or no contact, Rivers let out a little of his frustration. Rivers was trying to give support to Perkins who was criticized for fouling out of Game 4 when his team didn’t have a big man to spare.

“I’ve got to say this about Perk,” Rivers began, “clearly, every game he’s been targeted for these moving screens. He gets them every game. He gets them called every game. Watching that tape last night, there two where he did move in the direction but there was zero contact on him. Brad Miller, on the other hand, is flying around. He’s laying guys out on screens and didn’t get one of those called. That bothers you.”

But Rivers also said that he would like Perkins to show some diplomacy on the court toward the officials.

“Perk does do it. Perk doesn’t help himself, which I’ve told him 100 times. When you do commit a foul, sometimes say, ‘Good call.’ And I know he’s never committed a foul and I probably whine as much as he does.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Gordon has MRI

04.27.09 at 1:22 pm ET
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Bulls guard Ben Gordon, he of the clutch 3-point shooting, is supposed to have an MRI on his hamstring today. Gordon told reporters:

“I was driving and I heard something pop. It’s sore; hopefully it’s not too serious. I’m going to do what I need to do.”

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Watching the other series

04.27.09 at 10:00 am ET
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It’s a good thing the NBA had Game 4 of the Cavs-Pistons scheduled directly after the epic Celtics-Bulls clash, because after watching Ben Gordon and Ray Allen play UConn H-O-R-S-E we all needed a breather and nobody has sucked the air out of the playoff balloon quite like the Detroit Pistons.

That gave us a second to prepare for Game 4 of the Magic-Sixers series, which should be of slight interest to Celtics followers. If the C’s and Bulls represent the best of the first round of the playoffs and the Cavs and Pistons are the worst, Philly and Orlando lie somewhere in between.

The games in that series have been mostly competitive, but nowhere near the breakneck pace of Boston-Chicago. Three of the four games have come down to last-second shots and Philly has won two of those, further proof for most that Orlando just isn’t ready for prime time. If Hedo Turkoglu doesn’t knock down his contested 3-pointer in Game 4, the Magic would be in serious trouble right now.

But he did and they are back in control of the series, although warily. The problem for Orlando remains that its best player is not the go-to guy down the stretch. From the outside looking in, I’m still not sure how Stan Van Gundy’s team can deliberately go away from feeding Dwight Howard, even with his troubles at the free throw line.

It’s worth remembering that on the final day of the regular season the first round matchups looked like they would have Chicago playing Orlando and Philly playing Boston. If the Bulls hadn’t inexplicably lost to Toronto–and Cleveland hadn’t rested its most important players against Philly–we would be looking at entirely different scenarios right now.

But they did and here we are. The survivor of the Boston-Chicago series won’t have a lot of time to lick their wounds, but whoever it winds up being has to feel good about its chances in the second round.

One other odd note from the first round thus far. Homecourt advantage in the East hasn’t meant a whole lot, where the home teams are just 8-7. But in the West, the home team has gone 12-3. Indirect evidence that the East is a whole lot more competitive than people have given it credit for?

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