Archive for April, 2010

Pierce: ‘I’m a natural born scorer’

Friday, April 30th, 2010

WALTHAM Paul Pierce has all the respect in the world for LeBron James.

James, after all, has become just the 10th player in NBA history to win back-to-back regular season MVP awards and will be crowned King before Game 2 Monday night.

‘€œI think if you ask players, and ask players to be honest, just based on what he’€™s achieved individually and as a team, it should be unanimous,’€ Pierce said.

But Pierce made a point to remind everyone on Friday before Game 1 that he still has confidence in his own ability to score from anywhere on the court.

“I think I’m comfortable doing anything,” Pierce said. “I don’t limit myself to just being a shooter, or just driving. I’m a natural born scorer. I think I can do it all over the court. If the shot is there, I’ll take it.”

Still, inquiring minds still wanted to know Friday just how Pierce – who figures to draw a good deal of the assignment of guarding James – plans to guard the newly-minted two-time NBA MVP.

‘€œWe just have to be aware of him constantly. You can’€™t give him anything. You have to challenge his shot. He does everything so well. We all know that once he gets into a groove shooting, he can shoot the ball. We all know how he is attacking the basket.’€

“Just going against the best, regardless if it’s LeBron,” Pierce said. “It’s just going against the best teams. I just look at it over the years, I get to play against the top teams, I always get to show my best on the big stage. Obviously, playing against the MVP brings out the best in the best players in the league.”

Rondo latest key to the series

Friday, April 30th, 2010

WALTHAM — The Celtics have unveiled so many keys for their series with the Cavaliers that they will need a ring just to keep them all straight. In addition to defensive rebounding, defending the 3-point line, energy from the bench, and, of course, guarding LeBron James, you can add one more: Rajon Rondo.

The Lakers get a lot of credit for devising the free safety defense on Rondo, but it was the Cavaliers in the 2008 conference semifinals who first effectively neutralized Rondo in a playoff series by simply not guarding him. In that series, the Cavs held him to single-digits in scoring four times and without an assist in another.

“Rondo’€™s the key to the series,” Doc Rivers said after practice Friday. “His speed has to be a factor in this series. He has to be disruptive defensively with his speed and it’€™s all pressure. They’€™re going to help off of him. Really how well he handles them trapping off of them and really not guarding him will be the key for us winning. When he’€™s effective our whole team is effective.”

The Celtics expect James will guard Rondo at times, which would allow him to essentially cause havoc by roaming around the defensive end.

“It’s movement off the ball,” Rivers said. “When he has the ball it’s no issue. When he doesn’t have the ball he has to be a great cutter and he has to be a great decision-maker once we swing the ball back to him. He has to catch it on the run and get back on the attack.”

Rondo’s reaction to being told that he was the latest key to the series?

“Really.”

Yes, Doc said they were going to play off you and you have to take advantage of it.

“We’ll see.”

Have there been things you’ve learned over the years about playing against those defenses?

“Not really.”

It seems like if you’ve kept moving and kept the ball moving you can minimize that and still be productive.

“There you have it.”

Rondo knows, obviously, what’s in front of him and what he has to do. It should be pointed out that his reactions to the same questions he’s heard hundreds of times before were fairly playful. It’s also worth noting that he’s had good success against the Cavs this season, averaging almost 15 points and more than 10 assists in four games.

So, Rajon, are you excited about the challenge?

“Yeah.”

You don’t show it. You’re pretty pumped up for this?

“Yeah.”

Rivers on LeBron’s MVP: He deserves it

Friday, April 30th, 2010

WALTHAM – We still don’t know if LeBron James will wind up winning the MVP award with a unanimous vote, but there was no argument from the Celtics about his worthiness.

“He deserves it,” Doc Rivers said. “He earned it all year, so congratulations. I don’€™t think after Kobe [Bryant], and [Kevin] Durant and Dwight Howard, who doesn’€™t get enough credit for what he does with that team, there weren’t a lot of other choices.”

James is scheduled to be awarded the trophy by David Stern before Game 2.

“I hope it’€™s a distraction for them,” Rivers said. “It won’€™t be a distraction for us. None of us are getting it. Hopefully he won’€™t give a long speech and we can go and play basketball.”

The glamour matchup in this series is James and Paul Pierce, but Rivers suspects that James won’t simply be guarding Pierce.

“Paul’€™s going to be Paul,” Rivers said. “We’€™re not going to be going away from Paul because LeBron is guarding him. Paul’€™s our offensive guy so we’€™re going to still go to him. I don’€™t think LeBron will be guarding Paul but half the time. I think LeBron will be guarding Rondo and others.”

LeBron to win MVP

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Various outlets in Cleveland are reporting that LeBron James has won his second straight Most Valuable Player award. According to the Plain-Dealer, it will be formally announced Sunday and he will be presented with the trophy by commissioner David Stern prior to Game 2 with the Celtics, Monday night.

Times set on Celtics-Cavs series

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Game 1 of the Celtics-Cavaliers series is set for 8 p.m., the league announced. The game will be broadcast on TNT, with radio coverage on WEEI. Times have been set for all of the games except Games 5 and 6.

Game 1: Saturday, May 1, Boston at Cleveland, 8 p.m. (TNT)
Game 2: Monday, May 3, Boston at Cleveland, 8 p.m. (TNT)
Game 3: Friday, May 7, Cleveland at Boston, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 4: Sunday, May 9, Cleveland at Boston, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
*Game 5: Tuesday, May 11, Boston at Cleveland, TBD (TNT)
*Game 6: Thursday, May 13, Cleveland at Boston, TBD (ESPN)
*Game 7: Sunday, May 16, Boston at Cleveland, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

* if necessary

LeBron’s elbow just funny business to C’s

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

WALTHAM — Gamesmanship is as common this time of year in the NBA as game planning.

With that being said, no one will know for sure just how big a role the banged up right elbow of LeBron James will play in the Celtics-Cavs series.

But the Celtics have their own sense of the seriousness of the injury to King James.

“He’s fine,” coach Doc Rivers said with a big smile. “I tell you what, if he goes three or four games and shoots left-handed only, then I’ll believe that it’s hurting. We’re going to be ready for the LeBron we’ve seen all through the playoffs.”

Of course, James DID shoot a free throw with his left hand in the Game 5 clincher against Chicago on Tuesday night with 7.2 seconds remaining the Cavaliers up, 96-92.

Added Ray Allen, ‘€œI don’t even pay attention to it. If there’€™s something wrong with his elbow or any other part of his body, then he won’€™t play, and we all know that.”

The Magic of LeBron

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

WALTHAM — Doc Rivers has seen that lightning-quick, cross-court pass that paralyzes a defense before leaving them powerless to prevent an easy, uncontested basket.

Magic Johnson did it seemingly at will in the 1980s and Rivers had an up close and personal view for it all.

It is precisely for this reason the Celtics coach is worried about LeBron James. Yes, No. 23 can take it to the rim. Yes, James can rebound and block shots. But what James can do to get others involved is the hardest aspect to prepare for in this series against the Cavaliers.

“He’s a bullet passer,” Rivers said on Thursday, two days before Game 1. “He’s the only guy I know of like Magic. The ‘steam’ bullet passes. He throws cross-court passes that are 100 miles an hour and it’s tough to react to.

“We showed the guys that on film and if you’re not down in your stance and you’re standing straight up on the weakside and he makes that pass, there’s no way you’re going to get out to that shooter.”

Rivers tried his best to get his team ready but admitted it’s next to impossible.

“We worked on that [Thursday] and there’s nobody on our team that can throw that pass so the work didn’t look as good. We kept getting out to the shooter and I said, ‘Yeah, we’re throwing softballs.’

“He’s a great passer. In some ways, I think he wants to pass sometimes.”

James is also the leading triple-double threat in the league. But Rivers said, like with Dwyane Wade, the Celtics can live with the points but not the rebounds and assists.

“Well, the 10 [points] and the 10 [rebounds] we can’t have,” Rivers said. “The 30 and the 40 [points] we don’t want and, if he has it, we want him to have it our way, not his way. That’s what upset us a little about Wade in a couple of the games. He got to 46 his way. The big game the last night [Game 5], he got it our way. We kept everyone else out of it so that was good.”