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LeBron: I came out tentative

05.02.10 at 1:16 am ET
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CLEVELAND — It’s the story that won’t go away in this series and after a game in which LeBron James picked his spots instead of playing with his usual reckless abandon, the elbow dominated post-game talk, including a question about whether he had a cortisone shot.

“I did not take any shots,” he said. “I don’t like needles, so I didn’t do that. I tried not to hyperextend it any worse than it was. Did I come out a little tentative? I thought about it a little bit too much. It’s the first real injury I’ve had to play with, especially with it being on my shooting hand. I came out tentative, but if I’m on the court I have to be productive. I’m not a guy to make excuses.”

James took five shots in the first quarter, most of them in the lane, and missed four of them. He took two outside shots in the second quarter and missed them both. But then he heated up in the second half and finished with 35 points on 12-of-24 shooting and 4-for-9 from beyond the arc.

“I think his elbow is fine,” Doc Rivers said. “I’m pretty sure of it, actually. I really thought he was trying to get everyone involved. That’s what he does. He eases into the game and he actually did a pretty god job, but he just didn’t make some shots. You knew it was coming.”

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Fast Break: Celtics – Cavs

05.01.10 at 10:57 pm ET
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The Celtics surrendered an 11-point halftime lead and lost Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, 101-93, to the Cavaliers in Cleveland.

All eyes were on LeBron James — and his elbow — as the series opened. James had a quiet first quarter (1-5 FG) but finished with a game-high 35 points. He shot 12-for-24 from the floor,  3-for-6 from 3-point range, and 8-for-11 from the line.

The C’€™s were led by Rajon Rondo, who posted 27 points and 12 assists. Rondo’€™s most impressive offensive contribution was at the free throw line, where he hit 12 of his 14 attempts.

In spite of a dominating first half, the C’€™s were outscored 58-39 in the second half, as Mo Williams and James propelled the Cavs.

Turning point: With the Cavs up 96-93, Shaquille O’€™Neal missed a layin with 1:01 to go. However the Celtics failed to rebound, and O’€™Neal grabbed not one, but two offensive boards. He made the follow up shot over Kendrick Perkins to give the Cavs a critical five-point lead.

First Quarter: Celtics 26 – Cavaliers 20

It was Paul Pierce, not James, who dominated the game early. He scored eight of the Celtics first 10 points, shooting 4-for-5 from the floor. Then Rondo took over. He leads all players with nine points, including a 3-pointer to end the quarter. He also dished a game-high five assists.

James led the Cavs with seven points, but five of them came at the line. He shot just 1-for-5 from the field.

The Celtics outshot the Cavs, 52.4% to 30.0%, and are outrebounding them, 16-12. The C’€™s, however, were called for three more fouls than the Cavs. Glen Davis has three personals. Kendrick Perkins received stitches above his lip after suffering a cut early in the first quarter.

Halftime: Celtics 54 – Cavaliers 43

The first half of Game 1 belonged to Rondo. The fiery point guard leads all players with 19 points and eight assists. He shot 6-for-8 from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line.

After scoring seven points in the first quarter, James doubled his total in the second by shooting 3-for-5 from the floor.

Both teams have key players with foul trouble, although the Celtics had the bigger disadvantage. Glen Davis was called for four personals in the first half while Pierce and Rasheed Wallace have three apiece. For the Cavs, O’€™Neal was sidelined with three.

Tony Allen was assessed a technical foul from the bench for arguing and offensive foul called on Rondo.

Third quarter: Cavaliers 79 – Celtics 78

The Celtics lost control of their double-digit lead and trail by one entering the fourth quarter. James hit the go-ahead basket as time expired.

Led by 12 third quarter points from Williams, the Cavs outscored the Celtics, 36-24, in the third. James scored another nine to lead his team with 23 points.

Rondo continued to lead the Celtics with 24 points. He was sent to the bench, however, when he picked up his fourth foul in the third. Davis also had four fouls, while Pierce and Wallace had three apiece.

Fourth Quarter: Cavaliers 101, Celtics 93

The Cavs continued their offensive attack in the final 12 minutes. They outscored the Celtics, 22-15, in the fourth quarter to claim the comeback victory. In the end, the Celtics were whistled for 25 fouls, compared to 17 against the Cavs. Every Celtics starter except for Ray Allen was called for at least three fouls. The Cavs outscored the C’s, 21-17, at the line.

Game 2 will be played in Cleveland on Monday.

Third Quarter Wrap: Celtics – Cavs

05.01.10 at 10:08 pm ET
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Third quarter: Cavaliers 79 – Celtics 78

The Celtics lost control of their double-digit lead and trail by one entering the fourth quarter. LeBron James hit the go-ahead basket as time expired.

Led by 12 third quarter points from Mo Williams, the Cavs outscored the Celtics, 36-24, in the third. James scored another nine to lead his team with 23 points.

Rajon Rondo continues to lead the Celtics with 24 points. He was sent to the bench, however, when he picked up his fourth foul in the third. Glen Davis also has four fouls, while Paul Pierce and Rasheed Wallace have three apiece.

The Celtics are 1-0 in the postseason when trailing after three quarters.

Second Quarter Wrap: Celtics – Cavs

05.01.10 at 9:21 pm ET
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Halftime: Celtics 54 – Cavaliers 43

The first half of Game 1 belonged to Rajon Rondo. The fiery point guard leads all players with 19 points and eight assists. He shot 6-for-8 from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line.

After scoring seven points in the first quarter, LeBron James doubled his total in the second by shooting 3-for-5 from the floor.

Both teams have key players with foul trouble, although the Celtics have the bigger disadvantage. Glen Davis was called for four personals in the first half while Paul Pierce and Rasheed Wallace have three apiece. For the Cavs, Shaquille O’Neal was sidelined with three.

Tony Allen was assessed a technical foul from the bench for arguing and offensive foul called on Rondo.

First Quarter Wrap: Celtics – Cavs

05.01.10 at 8:40 pm ET
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First quarter: Celtics 26, Cavaliers 20

All eyes were on LeBron James — and his elbow — as the Celtics and Cavaliers series got underway. James led the Cavs with seven points, but five of them came at the line. He shot just 1-for-5 from the field.

It was Paul Pierce, not James, who dominated the game early. He scored eight of the Celtics first 10 points, shooting 4-for-5 from the floor. Then Rajon Rondo took over. He leads all players with nine points, including a 3-pointer to end the quarter. He also dished a game-high five assists.

The Celtics outshot the Cavs, 52.4% to 30.0%, and are outrebounding them, 16-12. The C’s, however, were called for three more fouls than the Cavs. Glen Davis has three personals.

Kendrick Perkins received stitches above his lip after suffering a cut early in the first quarter.

LeBron rested, ready

05.01.10 at 7:47 pm ET
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CLEVELAND –The most important elbow in basketball spent the last three days avoiding contact, but LeBron James said prior to Game 1 between the Cavaliers and Celtics that he is ready.

“I spent the last three days concentrating and preparing for this series,” James said. “I expect a lot of physical play. I haven’t done much physically in practice, I’ve been very conscious, knowing that today is the most important day besides the last three days, physically. We took it very light the last few days. I’m ready for today.”

We won’t the full extent of his elbow injury until the two teams take the floor, but the Celtics are preparing as if he is 100 percent.

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Celtics seek to find Mo

05.01.10 at 7:40 pm ET
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CLEVELAND — Rajon Rondo is one of the best offensive rebounding point guards in the NBA. For a team that doesn’t get a lot of offensive boards to begin with, his ability to crash the glass and keep possessions alive is yet another piece of Rondo’s unique package.

But against the Cavs, Rondo may have to use his discretion. That’s because Mo Williams, Cleveland’s ace 3-point specialist is on the other side.

“Offensive rebounds are great as long as you get them, but when you don’€™t get them you’€™re probably going to give up a basket on the offensive end.,” Doc Rivers said prior to Game 1. “Against Cleveland, it’€™s even more important because if our points guards go to the glass and don’€™t get it, Mo Williams is probably going to get a 3. Most of his 3’€™s against us came in transition. Most of Mo’€™s 3’€™s against everyone else came through set offense. We’€™re pretty sure that we have to get back and find him.”

Williams shot 55 percent on 3’s against the Celtics this season (12-for-22) and the Celtics have made defending the arc a tip priority in this series. The other concern for Rivers is that when Rondo drives to the basket, that could leave him vulnerable in transition.

“Mo will leak out,” Rivers said. “That’s the other place that he got 3’s.”

Still, Rivers doesn’t want to completely take away this aspect of Rondo’s game. Just as he is allowed some leeway on the perimeter when he goes for steals, he is also allowed some latitude when he crashes the glass.

Cavs coach Mike Brown indicated that it’s difficult to prepare for Rondo because there’s no way to replicate what he does in practice.

“I think that guy is in Jamaica,” Rivers said. “His name is Usain Bolt. Just like we can’t recreate LeBron [James]. You can’t recreate any of those guys.”

Rivers has spoken in glowing terms about Rondo’s increased maturity this season. From running the team and calling plays, to knowing when to gamble for steals and you can add his rebounding to that list, as well. There’s a lot riding on Rondo’s shoulders in this series.

Read More: Mo Williams, Rajon Rondo,
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