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Third quarter update

04.18.09 at 2:27 pm ET
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Well, that was different. After playing in third gear for most of the first half the Celtics came out in full throttle for the second half and have a 72-71 lead. Paul Pierce led the charge with eight quick points after being held to just four points in the first half. Ray Allen, however, has still not been able to get himself on track. He is just 1-for-8 from the floor.

The concern for the Celtics is that they have not been getting stops on the defensive end with regularity. Derrick Rose has lived up to his billing and is in the midst of a star-making turn in his playoff debut. If people weren’t aware of Rose yet, they are now.

We are headed to a make or break fourth quarter for early control of this series.

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Energy boost to start the second half

04.18.09 at 2:07 pm ET
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The Celtics looked lethargic in the first half, but three minutes into the second half they have cut into Chicago’s lead and the Garden is alive again. Paul Pierce, in particular, is lighting it up.

Now they need to get stops.

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Second Quarter Update

04.18.09 at 1:45 pm ET
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At halftime … Bulls 53, Celtics 44

Doc went with this bench to start the quarter, even sending Pierce back to the bench mid-way through the second. Playing the reserves is critical for two reasons — 1. the bench must find a chemistry/rhythm in the postseason and 2. The Bulls want to run. The Celtics starters could get tired out if they are forced to play Chicago’s up-tempo game.

The starting five came back in down 42-38, but they didn’t get the Celtics back in the game. Rather the Bulls ended the half on a 11-6 run. The Celtics are letting the Bulls their style of ball, which leaves the Cs in the dust as they have been outscored by the Bulls 15-2 on fastbreak points.

Pierce and Ray Allen have to play better in the second half. They are a combined 2-for-11 from the field, adding just four points apiece. This game, of course, is far from over. But the Celtics must take control early in the third to make up for a sloppy first half.

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First quarter update

04.18.09 at 1:07 pm ET
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A sloppy start, but both teams settled down into an entertaining back and forth kind of a game. As expected, Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose are going at it like a 1-on-1 game at Rucker Park. Give Rondo the upper hand so far with 12 points. He has been getting into the lane at will and a big reason why the teams are tied at 28-28.

Chicago made a concerted effort to get Ben Gordon started early and he scored seven quick points, but the Celtics adjusted and started bumping him coming off the curl screen. Joakim Noah has been very active (eight points and seven rebounds) and the Bulls big men have been attacking the offensive glass, as expected.

Kendrick Perkins responded with a solid first quarter with eight points and two rebounds. Most importantly, Perk picked up just one foul. He has to stay out of foul trouble.

For those of you wondering about the Kevin Garnett dynamic, KG is rocking a charcoal gray suit and providing non-stop commentary to assistant Kevin Eastman.

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Last minute veteran advice

04.18.09 at 12:38 pm ET
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Before Rajon Rondo took the court, Stephon Marbury looked animated as he gave him last minute veteran advice. Kevin Garnett has made a rare appearance on the Celtics bench, too, trading in his sweater/tie combo for a suit. Expect KG to be bellowing plenty of pep talks from the sidelines as well.

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Setting the scene

04.18.09 at 12:32 pm ET
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It’s about 10 minutes from tip time and the Garden is starting to buzz. For marketing/TV purposes, the Celtics handed out green t-shirts to the fans that say, “Boston is a Brotherhood.”

An image of Kevin Garnett is on the Jumbotron and the crowd started cheering. If anyone was worried about the early start time affecting the crowd, they shouldn’t have. Still no sign of the real Garnett though. Stay with us all afternoon for updates and analysis and also check out Celtics.com for Jess and myself on Cover It Live.

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No KG, no pressure?

04.18.09 at 12:06 pm ET
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The skeptics have been there since James Posey signed with the New Orleans Hornets. They were there when the Los Angeles Lakers won on Christmas Day, and even more appeared when Kevin Garnett got injured. They don’t think the Celtics have what it takes to repeat this season. And that’s fine with the Cs.

“The way I look at it is, there is no pressure because the majority of the country out there is doubting me anyway,” Glen Davis said prior to Game 1 of the Celtics-Bulls series. “So if I lose, I don’t get any pressure, like oh they didn’t have Kevin. So why would you have pressure when people don’t think you’re going to do it anyway? People don’t think you can help, or people don’t think you can make it to the championship anyway without Kevin.”

Garnett’s absence has put the spotlight on Davis, who has accepted the role of starter in his place.

“We’re not trying to prove anything but we’re just trying to let the world know that we’re ready to play,” he said. “With or without Kevin, we’re going to play hard. We’re going to play Celtics basketball.”

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