|First Quarter Wrap: Celtics – Cavs||05.01.10 at 8:40 pm ET|
First quarter: Celtics 26, Cavaliers 20
All eyes were on LeBron James — and his elbow — as the Celtics and Cavaliers series got underway. James led the Cavs with seven points, but five of them came at the line. He shot just 1-for-5 from the field.
It was Paul Pierce, not James, who dominated the game early. He scored eight of the Celtics first 10 points, shooting 4-for-5 from the floor. Then Rajon Rondo took over. He leads all players with nine points, including a 3-pointer to end the quarter. He also dished a game-high five assists.
The Celtics outshot the Cavs, 52.4% to 30.0%, and are outrebounding them, 16-12. The C’s, however, were called for three more fouls than the Cavs. Glen Davis has three personals.
Kendrick Perkins received stitches above his lip after suffering a cut early in the first quarter.
|Allen prepared for Cavs defense||05.01.10 at 12:30 am ET|
The Celtics are zoned in on containing LeBron James, but two years ago the Cavaliers were on the same mission against Ray Allen.
Allen enters the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals averaging nearly 20 points in the first round. His next opponent, however, is the same team that shut him down offensively in the past.
The Cavaliers held Allen to just 9.3 points per game in the second round of the 2008 playoffs. He only hit four 3-pointers in the seven-game series and shot less than 35 percent from the field. It was a dramatic drop in offensive production.
“I was put on defense more, but the way they were guarding me in Cleveland, they jumped me every pick-and-roll,” Allen explained. “The way we played, they weren’t letting me come off pin downs. I think in the regular season I was averaging 22 or 23 against them, so their mindset was, ‘We’re not going to let him get involved. We’re going to take everything away from him.’ They did a good job of that.”
Allen was the Celtics leading scorer against the Cavs this regular season, averaging 22.5 points (48.3% FG, 57.7% 3PG) in four games. He expects the Cavaliers to step up their defense in the playoffs and can anticipate how to counter their attack.
“I just know during the playoffs, they contribute two guys to me, always, just when I’m coming off pin downs,” Allen said. “I have to make the right play, (Rajon) Rondo has to be in the right position, our bigs have to be in the right position, and we have to capitalize off of that. The only way we can force them away from that kind of defense is if we penalize them for doing that.”
The Celtics often practice beating a double-team during shootaround, Allen explained. They run through various scenarios that leave different players open.
Allen also prepares himself for double team by watching game tape. This allows him to see where his teammates are on the court from a different point of view. In most instances, it is either Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, or Rondo’s defender who is helping on D, creating opportunities for them to get open.
“I’ve just got to know where Kevin is, where Perk is, where Rondo’s going to be,” he said. “Rondo’s man always help, Perk’s man always helps, Kevin’s always flashing if he’s not setting a screen. When I come off a pin down, it happens so fast. So right before I come off a screen, I almost have to look and see what exactly they’re doing, and then I know I can throw it back and go, or Perk is rolling and he’s got a layup, Kevin has a jumpshot. So it’s just like a split-second decision.”
|Finley settled in for the playoffs||04.28.10 at 11:56 pm ET|
Michael Finley had played in over 110 playoff games when he signed with the Celtics in March. Now he is putting his championship-winning experience to good use, both on the court and in the locker room.
“My role since I’ve been here really hasn’t changed. I can just be a little bit more vocal now that I’ve been here for a while,” Finley explained. “I just didn’t want to come here right away and be the loud mouth of the locker room. But now the guys feel a little more comfortable with me. I’m able to pull guys to the side, tell them different situations, especially in these playoff series that are important, not only to them, but to our team. And they’re listening and they’re being receptive, and that’s been good.”
The 37-year-old is happy to share the veteran wisdom he has accumulated over the last 15 years, and the C’s are just as happy to receive it.
“Mike is big,” said Ray Allen. “Most people don’t realize the things that he’s saying, just his advice, just some of the things that he says coming out of timeouts, coming to the bench. You can always tell he wants to win. Even though he came here later on in the season, he’s invested now in what we’re doing. So he’s always making sure, ‘Look for this, this is what’s going to go down,’ or, ‘Ray, you need to do this,’ or ‘Paul you need to make sure …’ So that’s great coming from the bench and you know that he’s fielding us more information so when we go out there, we’re prepared.”
On the court, Finley is fulfilling his role as a reserve who can come in and make timely plays. Even though he averaged less than three points per game in the first round, he shot an efficient 40 percent from both the field and 3-point range.
On the defensive end, he has picked off three steals in 44 minutes (Paul Pierce has three steals in 193 minutes), and is the only Celtic besides Marquis Daniels (who has played just six minutes) who has not committed a single turnover in the postseason.
Finley stays level-headed, regardless of the scoreboard. He has played in enough postseason games to understand how quickly momentum can change. His proven wisdom will be beneficial as the Celtics shift from eliminating the Heat in the first round to battling the Cavaliers in the second.
“It’s a playoffs series, and what I’ve learned over the years is, every game is different, every series is different,” Finley said. “Once you win one, the next one is even tougher. You’ve just got to stay humble in victory and don’t get too high with the highs and too lows with the lows. Just try to keep an even keel, especially emotionally.”
|Four Celtics among most popular NBA jerseys||04.28.10 at 11:01 am ET|
Four of the Celtics ranked among the top 15 most popular NBA jerseys this season, while the Celtics ranked second in team merchandise, the league announced Wednesday.
Kevin Garnett (third), Paul Pierce (eighth), Nate Robinson (11th), and Rajon Rondo (15th) made the list, which was topped by Kobe Bryant. The Lakers earned the top spot for most popular team merchandise.
The results are based on sales from the start of the 2009-10 season through April at the NBA Store in New York City and NBAStore.com. Both stores are experiencing record sales years and a combined increase of 20 percent over last year.
Top 15 Most Popular NBA Jerseys
1. Kobe Bryant, Lakers
2. LeBron James, Cavaliers
3. Kevin Garnett, Celtics
4. Derrick Rose, Bulls
5. Dwight Howard, Magic
6. Dwyane Wade, Heat
7. Chris Paul, Hornets
8. Paul Pierce, Celtics
9. Kevin Durant, Thunder
10. Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets
11. Nate Robinson, Celtics
12. David Lee, Knicks
13. Brandon Roy, Blazers
14. Pau Gasol, Lakers
15. Rajon Rondo, Celtics
Top 10 Most Popular Team Merchandise
|Richardson: ‘Paul’s a great NBA player’||04.27.10 at 11:10 pm ET|
Just a week ago, Quentin Richardson made his feelings toward Paul Pierce very clear.
“I don’t like them and they know it,” he said of Pierce and Kevin Garnett following their Game 1 altercation.
But on Tuesday, Richardson shared a different opinion after the Heat’s elimination in Game 5.
“Paul’s a great NBA player,” he told WEEI.com. “That’s the only opinion that really matters, his NBA game. He’s a good NBA player.”
Even though Richardson referred to Pierce as “an actress” in Game 1, he said he never knocked his talent. That’s something that, in spite of their differences on the court, Richardson cannot deny.
“I’ve always respected his game, never not,” he said. “I mean, he’s an All-Star, he’s a Finals MVP, he has his accolades, and he well deserves them. I take my hat off to him as a basketball player. Nothing will change that.”
|Celtics, Heat playing with desperation||04.27.10 at 6:59 pm ET|
It doesn’t matter which team has the 3-1 edge in the series — both the Celtics and Heat are playing with desperation.
The obvious desperation lies in the Heat locker room. Facing elimination, the team is not getting ahead of themselves and looking forward to a series swing. They are zoned in on a necessary win.
“Oh no, without a doubt this is a must win,” Quentin Richardson said. “That’s the just reality of it. You win or you go home. Everyone knows that it’s a must win for us. But at the same time, that’s not putting any added pressure on us. That’s the situation. You go out and you play, and you play the game as hard as you can and you leave everything out there. “
Even though the Celtics season is not on the line tonight, they are playing with the same sense of urgency as the Heat. They want to send the Heat home to Miami, not join them there for a Game 6.
“We want to finish. It’s all about finishing,” said Glen Davis. “We have an opportunity to finish and we’ve got to go out there and take it. They’re not going to give it to us. It’s not going to be handed to us. They’re not going to just lay down, we already know that.”
Both teams stressed the importance of jumping out first. Richardson said it is “kind of tricky” for a team to impose their will on the road and noted the Heat will have to battle against the energy from the Celtics home crowd. Davis said the Celtics have to attack from the jumpball and play 48 minutes of hard basketball.
Whether they are up 3-1 or down 1-3, the Celtics and the Heat view Game 5 the same way.
“I think playoffs are about playing with desperation and urgency,“ said Ray Allen. “You turn every switch you can in the playoffs to get a win, so I would expect both teams.”
|Allen finishes third for Sportsmanship Award||04.26.10 at 4:53 pm ET|
Ray Allen finished third in voting for the 2009-10 NBA Sportsmanship Award. The league announced Grant Hill as the winner of the Joe Dumars Trophy on Monday. Allen was the Atlantic Division winner and received 48 first place votes overall (Hill received 96). The NBA will make a $5,000 donation to Allen’s Ray of Hope Foundation on his behalf. Allen previously won the award in 2003 as a member of the Seattle SuperSonics.
Top 2009-10 voting results:
1. Grant Hill, Suns
2. Chauncey Billups, Nuggets
3. Ray Allen, Celtics
4. Antawn Jamison, Cavaliers
5. Al Horford, Hawks
6. Luis Scola, Rockets