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Celtics-Magic conference finals schedule announced 05.14.10 at 6:38 am ET
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The Celtics will travel to Orlando to open the Eastern Conference finals Sunday afternoon. Following Game 2 Tuesday night, the teams will take a few days off before resuming the series in Boston on the following Saturday and Monday nights. Rest up now, because after Game 1, all of the games are scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. You can listen to every game on WEEI. Here’s the complete schedule:

Game 1: Sunday, May 16, at Orlando, 3:30 p.m. (ABC, WEEI)

Game 2: Tuesday, May 18, at Orlando, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN, WEEI)

Game 3: Saturday, May 22, at Boston, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN, WEEI)

Game 4: Monday, May 24, at Boston, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN, WEEI)

*Game 5: Wednesday, May 26, at Orlando, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN, WEEI)

*Game 6: Friday, May 28, at Boston, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN, WEEI)

*Game 7: Sunday, May 30, at Orlando, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN, WEEI)

* if necessary

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Bill Simmons on D&C: Doc’s ‘best series ever’ 05.13.10 at 10:49 am ET
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ESPN columnist Bill Simmons joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the Celtics’ impressive performance in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Cavaliers. To hear the interview, check out the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Said Simmons: “The last two games, I feel like they’ve finally looked like the team that they looked like before that Christmas Day 2008 game against the Lakers, when [their record] was 27-2. Then they lose that game, they go on a little skid, [Kevin] Garnett gets hurt, the team’s never really been the same. You look at this whole series, they’ve played better in four of the five games. And they’ve dominated two of them.”

Simmons said Rajon Rondo’s ability to dominate and LeBron James’ failure to do the same is the obvious key. “It always come down to who has the best guy in a series, I always think. … The bottom line is Rondo’s played better than LeBron in this series. [Rondo's] stats weren’t good in the first half of Game 5 — I didn’t feel like he was having a bad game, but in the second half I thought he dominated that game. He controlled the flow. He controls every aspect of that game. They can’t match up with him. They’re changing their defense to try to get him. He’s in Mo Williams’ head. Mo Williams is a basket case. Now LeBron’s probably going to have to defend him.”

Simmons also pointed to an unheralded bench player who has made a big difference for Boston. “The shocker of all shockers is Tony Allen,” Simmons said. “Because this is a guy we’ve watched for six years. It actually started in the Miami series. He had a really good Game 1. I thought he helped them win Game 2. He and Rasheed [Wallace] were the things that kind of swing that game. Everyone was talking about Rondo in Game 4, and rightfully so, but Tony Allen — that was the best game of his career. He’s actually making layups, he’s finishing, he’s not doing stupid things.”

On the other side of the court, Anderson Varejao’s disappearing act is leading to rumors that the forward is hiding an injury. “I think he’s injured. It’s just really weird how he’s been playing,” Simmons said. “He only played 17 minutes in Game 5. And this is a guy who kills the Celtics, He’s just such a bad matchup. And also when Cleveland plays well, he’s playing 35-40 minutes a game. I think he’s the second-most important guy. For what he’s doing in this series and the minutes he’s getting, I think that’s one of the reasons the Celtics have a 3-2 lead.”

Simmons questioned the performance of Cavs coach Mike Brown, saying, “When coaches are grasping for straws, you can see it.” Then he heaped praise on Doc Rivers, a coach Simmons frequently has crititicized. “I think this has been his best series ever,” Simmons said. “I just think he’s had a command of the series. The timeouts — he’s called great timeouts, which he never used to do. You can feel Cleveland coming on, and he’s been stopping the runs, which is nice.”

The winner of the Celtics-Cavaliers series gets the red-hot Magic, but Simmons said that would be an appealing matchup for the C’s. “The way they match up with Orlando, if they can somehow get by this Cleveland team for one more game, they match up fantastic with Orlando,” Simmons said. “They have guys to throw at Dwight Howard. Rondo can beat Jameer Nelson. Vince Carter, who’s been dribbling through the lane with impunity, they’ll just knock his butt down. He’s not going to be able to do that stuff against the Celtics. I think they match up so much better against Orlando than they do against Cleveland.”

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Jon Barry on D&C: Rondo in elite company 05.11.10 at 8:59 am ET
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Jon Barry, who serves as an NBA analyst on ESPN and ABC, joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to talk about the Celtics-Cavaliers series. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. Barry said Rajon Rondo’s performance on Sunday cements his status as the maquee player on the C’s, ahead of the Big Three. Said Barry: ”He’s quickly becoming the system, like Steve Nash in Phoenix. There’s not a guy in the league who wouldn’t say he wants to play with Steve Nash. Rondo’s quickly becoming the guys who is mentioned in that same breath.”

Barry said the Cavaliers continue to lean too heavily on LeBron James. “Their reliance on him to be superhuman is just too much,” Barry said. “When he doesn’t go crazy, they don’t win. They’ve got enough talent that they should be better than this.”

Barry suggested the Cavaliers should try inserting center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who has taken a back seat to Shaquille O’Neal in the playoffs. And he expects to see the Cavs push the ball more aggressively and consistently, based on their success when they’ve done that in this series. “Cleveland in Game 3 did everything in transition. They pushed the tempo,” Barry said. “They did it in Game 3, then in Game 4, nothing. … I don’t understand how that happens.”

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Thibodeau interviews with Hornets 05.07.10 at 9:36 am ET
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Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau and former NBA player/current national NBA analyst Mark Jackson interviewed with Hornets executives for the team’s coaching vacancy Thursday in Boston.

Hornets spokesman Harold Kaufman said general manager Jeff Bower and team president Hugh Weber met with the two candidates along with with Gary Chouest, who has agreed to a deal with George Shin to become the majority owner of the team.

The Hornets now have interviewed five candidates, including former Mavericks coach Avery Johnson,  current Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey and former NBA coach Mike Fratello.

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Ainge fined $25K for towel incident 05.06.10 at 12:37 pm ET
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Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was fined $25,000 by the NBA for tossing a towel in the air to distract J.J. Hickson during a free throw attempt in Game 2 of the Celtics-Cavaliers Monday night. The league punished Ainge for “creating an unauthorized distraction and for conduct detrimental to the game.” Ainge talked about the incident during his appearance on The Big Show Wednesday afternoon. “There’s just no excuse,” he said. “It was unprofessional. I regret doing it. The biggest reason I regret it is you guys should be talking about the great play of the Celtics and not talking about a towel incident. I’m shocked that it’s become this big a deal.”

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Pitino: Antoine Walker plans comeback 05.06.10 at 11:57 am ET
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University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Antoine Walker will work out with some of his players in the next few weeks in hopes of making a comeback to the NBA, according to an Associated Press report. The former Celtic hasn’t played in the NBA since 2008 and has had financial and legal problems since then, including charges of passing bad checks to settle enormous casino debts in Las Vegas.

Pitino coached Walker at the University of Kentucky and with the Celtics. He said Walker will offer advice to his players about staying out of trouble. “He’ll talk to our guys,” Pitino said. “What I told him is it’s not about the past, get ready and get going and move on.”

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Rivers on D&C: Garnett, Perk OK for Friday 05.06.10 at 9:48 am ET
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Doc Rivers (AP)

Doc Rivers (AP)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. Rivers provided an update on the status of injured big men Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins. Rivers said Garnett isn’t likely to practice Thursday so he can rest his foot and ankle, but he shouldn’t miss any game action. “I do think he’ll play on Friday, and I think he’ll be OK,” Rivers said. “Perk will be fine. Kevin’s the only concern.”

Rivers was asked about Garnett’s shower room pep talk that inspired Rasheed Wallace to turn in his best performance of the playoffs in Monday’s Game 2 rout of the Cavaliers. Said Rivers: ”We were joking yesterday, maybe it was the ‘Hot Tub Time Machine.’ Whatever works, works. Rasheed was huge for us. We don’t win that game without his performance.”

Paul Pierce has been kept in check through the first two games, and Rivers said the Celtics need him to break out. “We have to get Paul a little more offensively involved and try to get him in spots,” Rivers said, crediting LeBron James’ defense as a key factor. “Paul being in foul trouble in both games has not helped his rhythm, either.”

Rivers also weighed in on the Danny Ainge towel-throwing controversy from Game 2. “I think every fan should have a towel [Friday], and Danny can’t have one,” he joked. “We got a lot of laughs out of that. Danny is so competitive, and he got carried away, which he’ll fully admit. I’m surprised at how much play it got [in the media].”

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