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Third Quarter Wrap: Celtics – Cavaliers

05.09.10 at 5:48 pm ET
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Third Quarter Wrap: Celtics 74, Cavaliers 72

Foul trouble continued to plague the Celtics in the third quarter, as they saw their nine-point halftime lead dwindle.

Rather than give up a basket, Paul Pierce intentionally Shaquille O’€™Neal and drew his fourth personal. The play sent Pierce to the bench with the Celtics up, 60-51, and 8:41 to go. The Cavs outscored the C’€™s, 21-14, the remainder of the quarter. Anderson Varejao tied the game at 67 apiece off of a driving layin before Tony Allen scored the Celtics final four points of the quarter to give them a two-point lead.

Rajon Rondo continues to lead all players with 23 points.

Ray-Ray: Our predicament is ‘not too bad’

05.09.10 at 4:56 pm ET
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Ray Allen has always been extraordinary when it came to putting things in proper perspective – especially when the spotlight is brightest.

Everyone watching the Celtics on Friday night couldn’t believe they got blown out of their own building and were trailing by as many as 35, suffering their worst-ever home court playoff loss.

But Allen, before Game 4 Sunday, played it cool, just like he was taking a potential game-winning three-point shot.

“You go into Game 3, it’s almost Game 1 for both teams because you haven’t playing four days so you can’t take anything from the first two games and think there’s going to be too many similarities,” Allen said, attempting to explain the overwhelmingly poor performance.

“You’re almost starting fresh, everybody has a couple of days off, sitting around watching games and just relaxing. It’s like your first game of the playoffs so to speak.”

Allen certainly looked like he was taking his own words to heart in the first half of Game 4 Sunday when he got out in transition with Rajon Rondo and spotted up for open look after open look, drilling a couple of key 3-pointers. He even got into it with LeBron James, late in the second quarter, showing an emotional spark rarely seen.

Maybe it was the fact the Celtics found themselves in a virtual must-win situation, down 2-1, with Game 5 Tuesday in Cleveland. Or maybe he was just trying to provide an emotional jump-start to his teammates.

But Allen believes in not making the game any bigger than life. He sees a 2-1 deficit entirely manageable if the Celtics play their game, get to the basket and attack.

“Really hard to put a finger on it,” Allen said. “You have to deal with the predicament we’re in, which is really not too bad.”

Doc Rivers had a slightly different but still similar take on the dire need to win Game 4 at home and what happened in Game 3.

“If we had lost by three or lost by 40 or won by three or 40, it has to be the each mindset to begin each game,” the Celtics coach said. “I thought they came in to Game 3 with the right one and I didn’t think we did. And I think in Games 1 and 2, you can say we did. I don’t know if they didn’t but I know we did.

“I really don’t care about their mindset really, honestly. There’s going to be a game in this series where both teams are going to play great and we’re going to have to find a way of winning that game.”

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, LeBron James, NBA playoffs

Halftime Wrap: Celtics – Cavs

05.09.10 at 4:55 pm ET
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Halftime Wrap: Celtics 54 – Cavs 45

It was a physical first half between the Celtics and Cavaliers, leaving key members of both teams in foul trouble.

There were 31 personal fouls called, 18 on the Celtics and 13 on the Cavs. More importantly, key members of each squad were getting whistled:

Celtics: Rasheed Wallace (4), Ray Allen (3), Kendrick Perkins (3), Paul Pierce (2), Kevin Garnett (2), Tony Allen (2)

Cavs: Shaquille O’€™Neal (3), Antawn Jamison (2), Mo Williams (2), J.J. Hickson (2)

Rajon Rondo leads all players with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. LeBron James leads the Cavs with 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. The C’€™s have a nine-point lead in spite of just five points from Paul Pierce, thanks in part to their defense. They are outrebounding the Cavs 24-16 and have held them without any second chance points.

First Quarter Wrap: Celtics – Cavs

05.09.10 at 4:11 pm ET
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First Quarter Wrap: Celtics 31, Cavaliers 22

By the time the Cavaliers had jumped out to a 7-0 lead, the Celtics had shot 0-for-3, been whistled for two fouls, and committed a turnover. It was only 2:13 into the game.

Then the shots began to fall for the Celtics. Ray Allen hit a jumper, Rajon Rondo drove the lane, and Kevin Garnett made it to the free throw line. The Celtics went on an 8-0 run before taking the lead, 13-12, with 6:22 to go. From that point on, they outscored the Cavs, 18-10, to end the first quarter leading by nine.

Rondo leads all players with 11 points, five rebounds, and three assists. LeBron James leads the Cavs with eight points. The Celtics outscored the Cavs 14-8 in the paint. They also outrebounded the Cavs, 13-6, and outscored them 7-0 on second chance points.

But the Celtics are not in the clear. Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins were sidelined early with two personal fouls. Rasheed Wallace picked up three in five minutes.

Big Baby on fans: ‘We’re a family’

05.09.10 at 3:33 pm ET
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Glen Davis feels a close connection to Celtics fans, so when he hears a negative reaction from the crowd, it gets to him.

‘€œI don’€™t understand why they boo,’€ he said prior to Game 4. ‘€œAre they booing at us? I don’€™t understand what they’€™re booing at. But sometimes when you’€™re booing at us, it’€™s tough. It doesn’€™t matter. We’€™re a family. We’€™re all a family. All 20,000 of us. And your family is going to get on your nerves and be hard on each other, but don’€™t boo. Don’€™t boo us. That’€™s tough.’€

The boos resonated so loudly during the Celtics 124-95 loss on Friday that Davis felt as if he was actually playing in Cleveland, not in front of a home crowd.

‘€œLast game things didn’€™t go our way and you might as well have said we were away. We were at home, it felt like we weren’€™t getting the calls and the next thing you know, we’€™re getting boos. It felt like we were away,’€ he said, adding, ‘€œWhen you get booed at your own place it’€™s tough. But the fans have high expectations, but at the same time I don’€™t think Cleveland fans booed them when we were beating them by a lot.’€

Davis isn’€™t upset with the fans. He understands the Celtics have set a high standard for success. He wants to deliver on it, too, as a thank you to the Celtics faithful.

‘€œWhen you walk out the arena and your own fans are telling you you’€™re old and you’€™re going to lose, and I’€™m walking out and I hear that kind of stuff, it gets you disappointed a little bit,’€ Davis said. ‘€œJust to know that hey we may not have played as well, we make mistakes just like you guys do. Don’€™t count us out or feel like we suck just because we got beat. We did the same thing to [the Cavaliers] at their place.

“So it’€™s just tough when you hear boos at your own spot knowing that we come out here and we play not only for ourselves, but for the fans too because without the fans this wouldn’€™t be a game.’€

Inside the Rondo adjustment

05.09.10 at 3:04 pm ET
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In Game 3 the Cavaliers made a simple, but effective adjustment on Rajon Rondo by having Anthony Parker pick him up full court. The move slowed down the Celtics offense just enough to force them into a number of forced perimeter jump shots. Rondo made only three of his first nine shots in the first quarter and six of those were from outside the paint.

The Cavs jumped out to a 36-17 lead and never looked back.

“Rondo’s playing major minutes,” Parker said. “He’s the guy that makes them go. We felt like if we could just make him work. He’s so quick and so talented that he can get where he has to go. So if you just make him work a little bit more. The mentality of our team is one that puts us in an aggressive mindset and that’s the kind of mindset we had for four quarters in the last game.”

The Cavs haven’t come up with anything special for Paul Pierce. They seem content to see if Kevin Garnett can beat them in the post. All of their defensive attention and focus has been on Rondo, and for good reason.

“He does so much,” Parker said. “He’s the steals leader. He’s a great rebounder for a guard. He runs the team and he’s extremely capable of finishing in the paint with all kinds of awkward shots. He’s continued to improve since he’s come into the league.”

What made the move so intriguing is that it came from Parker and a handful of other players and assistants. Cavs coach Mike Brown trusts the people around him to offer insights and suggestions. While the final decision rests with him, he is confident and secure enough to listen. That’s unusual in the NBA, especially for a coach who probably has more pressure on him than any of his peers in the playoffs.

“That’s the thing that I give him so much credit for,” Parker said. “In this environment, coaching is so competitive and the tendency is to have your hands on everything. I give him so much credit because he delegates so much authority, but honestly the final decision still rests with him.”

And so does the criticism.

“He still does it and I think he does it effectively,” Parker said. “He makes everybody feel like they’re a part of this. The success of it is I think you can get your players to buy into the system and buy into what you’re doing it will be more effective.”

Brown has good reason to trust Parker who has banged around Europe and the NBA and brings experience and smarts to his role.

“AP’s extremely intelligent,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see him coaching, whether it’s at this level or the collegiate level, wherever he wants to. He’s a great character guy, he has patience and he’s been there, done that in a lot of different situations. His IQ for the game of basketball is pretty high.”

The Celtics have downplayed the adjustment and Rondo did do a good job of dealing with the defense and remaining a threat. He finished with 18 points and eight assists and it’s a measure of how far he’s come that his stat line was considered a sub-par game.

Parker has something to do with it as well. He has played solid defense in this series and remained a threat shooting corner 3-pointers.

“He brings length to the team and great shooting,” Brown said. “He’s not necessarily a physical defensive presence like a Bruce Bowen, but he has a defensive presence because he’ll bust his behind on every play. It’s a better team with him out on the floor.”

The game within the game in this series for the Celtics offensively starts with Rondo. He had controlled the pace and play in the first two games. The Cavs found a way to slow him in Game 3 and now it’s on him to provide the counter.

Read More: Anthony Parker, Mike Brown, Rajon Rondo,

Perkins: ‘Without [Rondo], we’d be dead’

05.08.10 at 5:04 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Between Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett alone, it has never been easy to pinpoint the best player on the Celtics. Throw the development of Rajon Rondo into the mix this season, and the task is even tougher.

It’€™s easy, though, for Kendrick Perkins. Not only does he consider Rondo to be the C’€™s top player, he also considers him their lifeline.

‘€œI think right now, he’€™s the best player on our team,’€ Perkins told following practice on Saturday. ‘€œWithout Rondo, nothing goes. Pretty much we’€™ve got to play him the whole game because he just runs the whole team. Without him, we’€™d be dead.’€

Rondo is playing a team-high 41 minutes per game in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Cavaliers. His numbers have consistently improved from the regular season throughout the playoffs. In the first three games against the Cavs, he leads with team with 19.3 points and 13.0 assists, more than five points and three assists better than the regular season. He is also shooting 56.8 percent from the field and averaging 5.0 rebounds, more boards than Allen and Pierce.

‘€œI think he stepped up,’€ said Perkins. ‘€œHe’€™s been more focused than ever, in my opinion, and he’€™s been doing a great job of leading us.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce
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