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Shelden Williams expected to be back in lineup

05.22.10 at 7:43 pm ET
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Shelden Williams said that his back is “feeling much better” and that he expects to be among the 12 active Celtics for tonight’s Game 3. Williams was a late scratch from Game 2 with back spasms.

Brian Scalabrine took his place on the active roster but didn’t play. It was the first time in the playoffs that the Celtics had a lineup shift. Williams last saw action in Game 5 of the Cleveland series, but it is possible the Celtics could need him if any of their big men get in foul trouble.

Read More: Brian Scalabrine, Shelden Williams,

Celtics need to walk a fine line

05.21.10 at 6:16 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Doc Rivers has told his team time and time again about ‘Old School’ NBA, especially as it relates to the playoffs.

But Saturday night, when his team takes to the floor against the desperate Orlando Magic, he doesn’t want his team to get caught up in what is likely to be a physical game with Dwight Howard and the Magic. He also doesn’t want his team to get pushed around either as the Magic try to come in and physically prove to the Celtics they haven’t checked out of the Eastern Conference finals, despite losing the first two games on home court.

“They should be feisty and we should be, too,” Rivers said following a high-spirited Friday practice, their final before Game 3. ” It’s the playoffs. It’s Game 3 and we’re trying to defend our home turf, now and they’re trying to take it away. There’s every reason it should be feisty and it will be and we should be feisty, too.

“Obviously, you want to always keep your head but that doesn’t mean to back down. That means you want to play with composure, play with intensity and you’ve got to play hard.”

Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins agreed with Rivers, saying they are expecting a ‘feisty’ Orlando Magic team for Game 3 Saturday night at TD Garden. The Celtics lead the Eastern Conference finals 2-0 and can take an overwhelming 3-0 lead with a win, a deficit no team has ever overcome in NBA playoff history.

“It could get feisty in there. You have to expect it,” said Pierce, who was still bearing a pair of scratch marks on his forehead above his left eye after being decked by Dwight Howard in the second quarter of Game 2 on Tuesday night.

“Doc always say the bigger man walks away,” added big man Kendrick Perkins, who will once again be assigned to Howard. “You just have to go out there and play, play Celtics basketball.”

Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, Magic

Report: Thibodeau a finalist for Hornets job

05.21.10 at 5:44 pm ET
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According to a report by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowksi, Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau is a finalist for the head coaching vacancy with the New Orleans Hornets. Avery Johnson was thought to be the leading contender for the job, but he made noise about having control over personnel as well and New Orleans has reportedly no interest in that proposition.

Wojnarowski identifies Portland assistant Monty Williams as the other leading candidate, but leaves open the possibility of other assistants or former coaches such as Mike Fratello and Lawrence Frank emerging.

The Hornets job has obvious benefits; namely coaching Chris Paul, and for a defensive-minded coach like Thibodeau, the possibility of bringing out Emeka Okafor’s game. But it also has drawbacks.

The team is currently in the process of being sold from George Shinn to Gary Chouest and the Hornets have failed to make much of an impact the Crescent City since moving from Charlotte. Additionally, they are also backloaded with bad contracts for players like Morris Peterson, Peja Stojakovic and James Posey. They do have some talent in Paul, David West and young players like Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton.

Thibodeau has been in the running for head jobs in the past, but he may never be hotter than right now as his defense has knocked out Dwyane Wade and LeBron James and is halfway toward eliminating Dwight Howard. That’s three of the five players on the All-NBA team and his work has not gone unrecognized.

“He’€™s terrific,” Doc Rivers said during the Cleveland series. “He’€™s the best defensive coach, I think, in the league. I don’€™t know if there’€™s a better one and our guys buy into it. I think that’€™s very important. If they don’€™t buy into what you’€™re doing, it’€™s not going to work. We have a group of guys who are willing to buy in to what we want them to do to what Thibs wants them to do, and that’€™s why it works.”

Read More: Tom Thibod,

Rivers embraces Celtics history

05.21.10 at 4:15 pm ET
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WALTHAM — History and tradition are wonderful, but there are times when the burden can be too great. Times when the ones who built that legacy feel the need to defend it, and in so doing, wind up taking shots at the current structure. Take the Chicago Bears who are getting criticism from Gale Sayers, among others.

The Celtics are one of the most unique franchises in all of sports, and their past is always playing with the present.

Take Paul Pierce’s epic Game 7 showdown with LeBron James in the 2008 playoffs. The immediate comparison, of course, was to Larry Bird in 1988 against Dominique Wilkins and the Hawks. It’s hard to create your own path when everything has already been done before your time.

But the Celtics embrace their history, and it helps that their alumni embrace it too; as history.

“Our guys are the best,” Doc Rivers said. “That’€™s the biggest thing that I tell people all the time. From afar you think, man you see all these ex-players around, are they still trying to hold on to their little piece? I don’€™t know about other organizations, actually I do, but this one is different. Our guys so much want you to do well because you’€™re a Celtic and they don’€™t worry about their legacy because they have championships too. I think it’s amazing. The best I’€™ve ever seen. [John] Havlicek, [Bill] Russell, all of them. When they come around all they tell you is that they want you and how to win.”

The video montage that runs before Celtics games features ex-Celtic greats from Red to Larry to Russ all speaking about their time in Boston as players and what it meant to them to be a Celtics. It’s a subtle reminder, although perhaps not that subtle, of the expectations.

“We brainwash [them] a little bit too and we do it on purpose,” Rivers said. “We show a lot of film of those guys. Larry Bird, some of the things he said, all the stuff about playing in Boston. The history of their voice, for [coaching purposes], is far better than the history of their play.”

Read More: Bill Russell, Doc Rivers, history, John Havlicek

C’s anticipate changes, don’t care

05.21.10 at 2:50 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The talk out of Orlando is that Matt Barnes wants Paul Pierce in Game 3. Barnes also went on to call Pierce a flopper for good measure.

The Celtics heard all that and frankly don’t really care how the Magic decide to match up with Pierce.

“Obviously they want to play better defensively, probably on me,” Pierce said Friday. “Who knows what they’€™re going to do as far as trapping and different matchups. We’€™re going to make some adjustments ourselves. We still feel like we haven’€™t played our perfect game yet. We’€™re still in search of that. It doesn’€™t affect anything that I’€™m trying to do offensively when we play the Magic.”

Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy changed things up before Game 1 by having Barnes guard Ray Allen and Vince Carter on Pierce, who has turned Carter inside out by scoring 50 points on just 24 shots in the first two games.

“It doesn’€™t affect us,” Doc Rivers said. “When you’€™re down 2-0 you do make some changes. We have to anticipate that. But they’€™re not going to make many changes. We are who we are, they are who they are, they’€™re just going to try to do it better. Barnes or [Mikael] Pietrus will probably guard Paul. Vince will go to Ray. That’€™s how a lot of us thought it would start in the series and now they’€™re just going to back that.”

Rivers expects Orlando will try to go big with Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat playing a Twin Towers look and possibly Rashard Lewis sliding over to the 3-spot. But the Celtics won’t vary their personnel much, mainly because they can’t.

“Some teams have the ability to go big, small or change,” Rivers said. “We unfortunately, or fortunately, do not. We’€™re just going to be who we are and just be the best at that.”

Read More: Matt Barnes, Paul Pierce, Vince Carter,

Pierce: Stop comparing us to 08

05.21.10 at 2:29 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Now that the Celtics have exceeded postseason expectations talk has begun to brew about whether this team is better than the 2008 version, and it’s beginning to get old for Paul Pierce.

“You guys [are] asking me all these questions about the ’08 team,” Pierce said Friday after the team conducted practice. “There’€™s no comparison in the teams. You guys want to make them similar, make them different, make them better. It’€™s a completely different year. New players that are trying to develop its own identity. Whatever happened then, happened. It’€™s not the same thing. We’€™re trying to develop our own identity with this team by winning a championship.”

That came after the third straight question about 2008, but on the first Pierce gave an interesting response.

“It’€™s a little more challenging, going on the road so much,” he said. “We played probably the three hottest teams in basketball coming into the playoffs. It’€™s tougher mentally and physically, just the road that we took to get here.”

And if this team wins a title?

“If that happens,” Pierce said. “I’€™ll be able to answer that.”

Read More: Paul Pierce,

Barnes wants to guard Pierce, calls him a flopper

05.20.10 at 9:56 pm ET
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In the previous round, LeBron James said he would defend the streaking Rajon Rondo. Now, Matt Barnes wants the task of defending the Celtics‘ hottest scorer.

On Thursday, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Barnes would like an opportunity to stop Pierce, who is averaging 25 points per game, the most among all players in the series.

‘€œI’€™d love to guard Pierce,’€ Barnes told the Sentinel. ‘€œI got the chance to guard him a little bit the last game and felt that I did a pretty good job. But he’€™s really rolling right now, so we need to slow him down somehow.’€

Pierce is shooting nearly 60 percent from the field in over 41 minutes per game, while averaging seven rebounds and five assists in the Eastern Conference finals.

It is a bounce-back from the Eastern Conference semifinals, in which he averaged 13.5 points off of 34.5 percent shooting from the field and 30.8 percent from 3-point range. His defensive numbers had also dropped to less than five boards and four assists against the Cavaliers.

But there is more to it than just trying to slow Pierce’€™s offensive attack. Barnes told the Sentinel Pierce has another skill besides scoring. He believes Pierce knows how to sell calls, too.

‘€œMy third foul in the third quarter, when I tried to beat him over the screen, he fell down like I threw him,’€ he said. ‘€œIt was ridiculous. But the refs called it, so it was a good play. It was a flop, 100 percent, and that’€™s how some guys like to play. But if the refs call it, it’€™s effective.’€

Pierce has shot 17-for-21 at the line in the first two games. He drew nine fouls in Game 2.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Matt Barnes, Orlando Magic, Paul Pierce
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