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No avoiding Kobe vs. LeBron

04.24.09 at 5:21 pm ET
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Even though NBA Commissioner David Stern spoke out against the NBA’s inclination toward a Cleveland Cavaliers-Los Angeles Lakers Finals, there is no ignoring the Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James chatter during the playoffs. This weekend vitaminwater is launching an ad on ESPN hypothesizing about a match up between the two All-Stars. Fans can weigh in on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vitaminwater.

Read More: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, NBA,

NBA Weekend Playoff Guide

04.24.09 at 4:11 pm ET
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Friday, April 24

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers @ (8) Detroit Pistons*
7:00pm EST, ESPN

(3) Orlando Magic @ (6) Philadelphia 76ers
8:00pm EST, ESPN2

(4) Portland Trail Blazers @ (5) Houston Rockets
9:30pm EST, ESPN

Saturday, April 25

(2) Denver Nuggets @ (7) New Orleans Hornets
1:00pm EST, ESPN

(3) San Antonio Spurs @ (6) Dallas Mavericks
4:00pm EST, TNT

(4) Atlanta Hawks @ (5) Miami Heat
6:30pm EST, TNT

(1) Los Angeles Lakers @ (8) Utah Jazz
9:00pm EST, ESPN

Sunday, April 26

(2) Boston Celtics @ (7) Chicago Bulls
1:00pm EST, ABC

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers @ (8) Detroit Pistons
3:30pm EST, ABC

(3) Orlando Magic @ (6) Philadelphia 76ers
6:30pm EST, TNT

(4) Portland Trail Blazers @ (5) Houston Rockets
9:00pm EST, TNT

* The Cavaliers (2-0) are the only team eligible to clinch a series victory this weekend.

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA,

Game 3 Wrap

04.23.09 at 10:38 pm ET
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Wasn’t Paul Pierce supposed to be hurt?

Pierce scored a game-high 24 points and led the Celtics to a 107-86 victory over the Bulls in Game 3. They showed no mercy as they shut down Derrick Rose (9 points, 4-14 FG), stifled Ben Gordon (5-13 FG), and rendered the Bulls big men ineffective (Joakim Noah/Tyrus Thomas 4-13 FG combined).

Rajon Rondo won the battle of the point guards, scoring 20 points (8-15 FG, 1-2 3PG) from everywhere on the court. Ray Allen added 18 points for the Celtics while Glen Davis had 14. One of the biggest surprises of the night came from an aggressive performance by Stephon Marbury off the bench. He scored 13 points in his best game as a Celtic.

The Celtics lead the series 2-1. Game 4 will be played in Chicago on Sunday.

Final: Gabe Pruitt time

04.23.09 at 10:36 pm ET
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In a final result that had to catch everyone by surprise, the Celtics demolished (and there really is no other word) the Bulls, 107-86 in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead. Paul Pierce rebounded from a pair of subpar games to score 24 points in just 28 minutes of action and on just 15 shots.

The Celtics performance was so dominating that the United Center was a sea of empty seats and the hometown Bulls were serenaded by a chorus of boos as they walked off the floor.

Third quarter update: Starbury in flight

04.23.09 at 10:05 pm ET
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The Celtics managed to extend their lead in the third quarter, but in an even better turn of events for them, Stephon Marbury finally broke out of his shell and contributed offensively. After Rajon Rondo left the game with his fourth foul, Marbury was decidedly more aggressive with his jumper, and while he is only 3-of-8 from the floor, he is taking the “right” kind of shots for the Celtics.

It’s 83-58 after three and the Bulls are as stunned as the crowd.

Halftime update: The perfect road game

04.23.09 at 9:33 pm ET
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Playing on the road in the playoffs is the toughest thing an NBA team can do. There’s the crowd, of course, which has been known to influence a call or two. But there’s also the travel, the break in the normal routine, and the purely anecdotal but mainly factual notion that role players perform better at home than on the road.

The flip side to all that is if a team can walk into another’s building, completely dominate the action and turn the home crowd against its team. That’s what the Celtics have done to Chicago in the first half. The C’s shot 51 percent in the first half in building a 59-37 lead, but more impressively committed just four turnovers and held the Bulls to 32 percent shooting.

Additionally, Paul Pierce managed to sqaush those “Paul is hurt” rumors, by dropping in 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting. The only major concern for the C’s are fouls. Every starter but Glen Davis has two fouls and Mikki Moore picked up three quick personals.

Simmons: 12 Celtics-Bulls Subplots

04.23.09 at 2:27 pm ET
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Two games in, Bill Simmons is already dubbing the 2009 Celtics-Bulls matchup as one of the best first round series ever played. In his most recent column he explored the scenario of “An aging/injured/exhausted/depleted heavyweight (Boston) fights off a hungry young challenger that’s clearly coming into its own (Chicago).” Simmons examined 12 subplots of the series, ultimately resting it all in the hands of Ray Allen. (But not before sneaking in a jab against Joakim Noah.) Click here to read the column.

Read More: Bill Simmons, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls,
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