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Doc: ‘It’s a big game for them, too’

Doc Rivers [1] wants everyone to take a deep breath before Sunday’s latest and greatest ‘Most Important Game of the Year’ against LeBron James [2] and the Cleveland Cavaliers [3].

“I think we’ll come in and play terrific,” Rivers said. “But we just have to play hard. There’s no guarantees. But listen, it’s a big game for them, too. It ain’t just one way. I always laugh when I hear guys say it’s a must win. But what if it’s a must-win for both teams? Someone’s not going to win.”

The Celtics [4] (41-23) are coming off a 19-point win over Indiana on Friday night at home and trail third-place Atlanta by a half-game in the East. Meanwhile the Cavs come in with a 51-15 record, and lead the Lakers by three games for the best mark in the NBA.

LeBron James is playing his second game back from a sprained right ankle.

“It would be great, though,” Rivers said of a win in Cleveland. “I think our team is looking forward to it,” Rivers said. “And I guarantee you they’re looking forward to it. There’s no coincidence that LeBron James rested two games and came back. That’s not a coincidence but that’s fine.”

The Cavs will be without Shaquille O’Neal [5], likely out for the rest of the regular season following surgery on his right thumb, injured the last time the two teams met when Glen Davis [6] went up to block an O’Neal shot. On Sunday, Davis denied hurting O’Neal intentionally [7] during their Feb. 25 meeting.

‘€œThey’€™re playing the same guys, really. They haven’€™t changed their offense or anything. They’€™re quicker, faster, more athletic.”

The Celtics are visiting Cleveland for the first time since Oct. 27, when they claimed a 96-89 win over the Cavs on opening night.