CLEVELAND — There has been a lot made of the hard foul that Shaquille O’Neal  administered to Rajon Rondo  late in Game 1 that sent Rondo careening to the floor. One overheated Cleveland media member asked Cavs coach Mike Brown  if it was the hardest playoff foul he’s ever seen.
Obviously it wasn’t, but Brown raised some eyebrows when he said he asked the NBA for clarification over whether it actually was even a foul. Brown’s contention is that Rondo initiated the contact.
That’s standard operating procedure during playoff series when teams will send a handful of plays to the league to ask for clarification. The real reason is to send a subtle message about calls that were, or were not made, during the course of a game to set the tone for the next one.
The referees for Game 2 are Dan Crawford, Dick Bavetta and Eddie Malloy. They should expect to see a lot of contact. For the record, the Celtics  had no problems with the foul that O’Neal gave to Rondo.
“He’s just got to keep going in there,” Doc Rivers  said. “Shaq’s doing what should do. I didn’t think what Shaq did was dirty or anything else. It was just a hard playoff foul. I actually applaud it. We need more of that. Both ways.”
Cavs guard Mo Williams  lauded O’Neal for his foul both after Game 1 and again Monday morning as the team went through their shootaround.
“It’s a great asset to have, knowing that he’s going to give hard fouls,” Williams said. “Teams know that. They know that once they go in there they’re going to get hit, so brace yourself.”
Rondo can expect to get a huge amount of attention from the Cavs defense tonight. He saw Williams, Anthony Parker  and Jamario Moon at times in Game 1. The Celtics expected as much and while Brown said he would probably start Game 2 the same way — with Williams on Rondo — he won’t hesitate to go back to Parker, who is being hailed around Ohio as a Rondo stopper. A notion the Celtics don’t agree with.
“Honestly, it didn’t really affect us much,” Rivers said. “I thought Rondo’s fourth foul affected Rondo far more than Parker guarding Rondo. I think Rondo likes that matchup in a lot of ways. But that’s what you do. That’s what teams do. That’s what I would do. It’s always better to put a longer guy on a quicker guy. We actually thought it would be LeBron more.”
One thing is certain. If the Celtics are going to come back to Boston with a split, they will have to be the aggressors. Both in taking the ball to the basket and in defending the rim.
“We do have to be more physical,” Kendrick Perkins  said. “We have to take it to them tonight. We have to be the more physical team. Last game they were, so tonight we just got to go out there and do what we got to do to get the win.”