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Against Howard, Perk stays grounded 05.20.10 at 2:59 pm ET
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Kendrick Perkins (right) mostly has kept Dwight Howard in his grasp in this series. (AP)

Kendrick Perkins (right) mostly has kept Dwight Howard in his grasp in this series. (AP)

WALTHAM — Before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, Kendrick Perkins was apprised that several media outlets were getting on Dwight Howard after he scored just 13 points in the series opener. Perkins’ eyes grew wide and then he sighed.

“What happens is, y’all gas the man up and get him mad,” Perkins said to WEEI.com. “Then I come out and I got my hands full.”

Perkins did have his hands full with Howard in Game 2 as the big man scored 30 points. Not that Perkins was around for most of it since he fouled out in just 15 minutes of action.

“Do I take it personally? Yep, I do,” Perkins said Thursday before the team’s practice session. “I’m a defender so I do take it personally. Guy got 30 on me, but it happens to the best of us. We ended up getting a win, so that’s really all that matters.”

Still Perkins knows that he has to do better in Game 3 and that starts even before the ball gets to Howard.

“You’ve got to keep a body on him,” he said. “It’s going to be physical all series. That’s the key. You can’t let him set up shop where he wants to set up shop. You’ve got to kind of force him outside his comfort zone just a little bit.”

In theory, the Celtics are OK if Howard goes off. It’s when Howard goes off and everyone else for Orlando gets in on the act that’s a problem.

“We don’t want him to go for 30, but when he goes for 30 he goes for 30, there’s nothing we can do about it,” Rivers said. “As long as he didn’t go for 30 and get everyone else involved, we can live with it. We were not happy with the way we defended him. We did not have a great night defending Dwight. We have to do better. We have to expect somebody on their team to start making shots. If we give him 30+ and they start making shots then you can’t beat them.”

Again that starts with not letting Howard get deep post position because once he does, it’s game over.

“He caught it too deep throughout the game,” Rivers said. “Some of the shots he made, we’ll live with. We don’t mind any made shot if it’s defended. Jumpers, layups, we don’t care.”

Perkins, of course, does care a great deal about his defense on Howard. It’s the thing that has helped make his reputation over the years. But he also recognizes that a key element of the Celtics defensive strategy is that he will be afforded no help in his task.

It’s his role in this series and he’s determined to do a better job in Game 3.

“We’re just trying to make it tough on him,” Perkins said. “We’re not trying to overreact to him scoring.”

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Advisory: Be wary of counterfeit tickets 05.20.10 at 2:40 pm ET
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The Celtics issued a consumer advisory Thursday asking fans to be wary of purchasing counterfeit tickets. “The organization has received numerous reports of counterfeit playoff tickets being sold to consumers in the Boston area,” the team said in a press release.

Fans are urged to be cautious and aware of the situation. The release went on to say that the only guaranteed authentic tickets are ones that are purchased through the team website, Ticketmaster, the Garden box office or Ticketmaster’s exchange program. Fans are urged to call the Boston Police if they are suspicious of any fake tickets.

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Kevin Garnett’s big challenge 05.20.10 at 2:25 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett has had the upper hand against Magic forward Rashard Lewis (back) in this series. (AP)

Kevin Garnett has had the upper hand against Magic forward Rashard Lewis (back) in this series. (AP)

WALTHAM — Rashard Lewis is a monster scorer, but Kevin Garnett is a monster defender, and through two games, Garnett has gotten the better of his longtime rival. Not only has Lewis not been able to score — just 11 points — he hasn’t even been able to get shots off — just 16 in two games.

Credit for that goes mainly to Garnett, along with Glen Davis, who have a hand in his face on almost every jump shot he’s attempted. In Game 1, both of Lewis’ made shots came on simple put-backs from offensive rebounds. In Game 2, his one made 3-pointer, the only one he’s made in the series, came on a wide open look off a kickout.

But on his other 13 shot attempts there has been a Celtic defender close by.

“Nothing,” Doc Rivers said when asked about any special coverages. “We just guard him. He’s actually had some shots that he’s not made. I think the key to us guarding Lewis, or any of their guys, is the better we are in pick and roll, the quicker we’re back in our rotations. If we can’t get back, Lewis is wide open.”

It’s true that Lewis has missed some shots that he would ordinarily make, but that’s only because he’s such an extraordinarily talented shooter. Rolling through his shot attempts with the help of Synergy Sports, Lewis has had only one clean look at a jumper, his made 3 in Game 2. In all the others, Garnett or Davis were out contesting his shots with a hand in his face.

“Trying to keep my hand up,” Garnett said. “Baby and myself have the responsibility. Tell you the truth, a lot of the focus is on Jameer [Nelson] and Dwight [Howard]. I’m sure he’ll be real aggressive in Game 3, so I’m anticipating that.”

Keeping Lewis in check is Garnett’s top priority, but the Celtics also need his offense and he had made shot just 9-for-30 in the series. The Celtics like the number of shot attempts, in fact they want more, but Rivers is not easing off his demands that Garnett be a two-way player against the Magic. Even though he knows that it won’t be easy.

“In this series, they’re denying him with the double teams on the post,” Rivers said. “We knew that coming into it. What we’re trying to do is get him to the elbows and get him to the spots on the corner to stretch the floor.”

Garnett missed eight of his first nine shots in Game 2, but they were able to get him looks on the perimeter that they will gladly take again. Garnett has to continue to be aggressive. His signature play came in the third quarter when he allowed Howard to close before he hit him with a pump fake. As Howard flew by him, the lane was wide open and Garnett roared down the middle of the paint for a dunk.

“That was great,” Rivers said. “Because he was taking his time. I thought he was going fast for a game and a half and finally he slowed down a little bit and it allowed him to play.”

Garnett won’t be able to operate with only token resistance on the post as he did against the Cavs in this series, but the Celtics are finding ways to make him an integral part of the offense. Now he has to make a few, and continue to keep Lewis in check.

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Celtics on message 05.20.10 at 1:58 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Say this for the Celtics, they are on point with their message.

This was Doc Rivers speaking to reporters before the team conducted practice Thursday:

“Each game is a single game. That’s what we talk about. That’s been our speech through the playoffs. We’ve yet to beat Orlando on our home floor this year and that’s something we have to focus on.”

This was Kendrick Perkins about two minutes later:

“We’ve got to come home and take care of home They’re undefeated when they play us at home. They beat us both times in the regular season. This first game is going to be the most important game.”

Rivers has been pushing all the right buttons with his team during the playoffs, both in terms of on-court maneuvering and off-court messaging and in this case the message is crystal clear: Orlando beat us two times at home during the regular season and we haven’t done anything yet.

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About that Paul Pierce Twitter post 05.19.10 at 2:40 am ET
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ORLANDO — At some point during his postgame press conference, a post on Paul Pierce’s Twitter page appeared that read: Anybody got a BROOM?

A reporter picked up on it and asked Dwight Howard in his press conference about it, to which Howard replied, “Am I supposed to comment on that?” Pressed for a comment Howard said, “Pride comes before a fall. Just know that.”

While we have yet to hear from Pierce directly, it appears that his account was hacked. A company called Athlete Interactive, which manages digital media for several athletes, including Pierce, put on its Twitter page: That is NOT @paulpierce34 tweeting — the previous four tweets are all courtesy of a hack. Looking into it.

UPDATE: The last four posts on Pierce’s Twitter page were all removed overnight. As Pro Basketball Talk pointed out, the other posts to Pierce’s Twitter account were all submitted via Text or the web, while the offending posts were sent in via Twitterific.

On Wednesday morning at about 11:30, a tweet from Pierce’s account read: “Hacked in game and post game while on podium. Disregard chatter.”

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Doc on alert for letdown 05.18.10 at 7:55 pm ET
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ORLANDO — It has been suggested that the Celtics should be thrilled to go back to Boston with a split, which they have already earned with their Game 1 victory. That’s not their mindset, obviously, but that doesn’t mean that Doc Rivers isn’t aware of the possibility.

“You can talk about it, but you don’t know until the game starts,” Rivers said prior to Game 2. “You’ll know early, at least I will. That doesn’t mean you can’t try to get them out of it during the game, if possible. But it something that is always on your mind of you win a game or a couple of games because it is human nature. That’s something we all fight.”

The Celtics haven’t always handled prosperity well this season. They have won four straight games in the playoffs and they only had two such streaks since mid-December. But this is obviously a whole new set of circumstances.

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All eyes on Howard 05.18.10 at 7:37 pm ET
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ORLANDO –Dwight Howard finished second in the MVP voting and was voted to the NBA’s First Team. He is a monster defender, as evidenced by his Defensive Player of the Year award.

But sometimes Howard can’t win, because too often in this game players get judged by their offensive numbers, and by any measure his were sub-par in Game 1. He scored 13 points on 3-for-10 shooting and turned it over seven times, which is a direct reflection on the Celtics defense.

Howard’s been getting some heat for his play, with some suggesting that he needs to score 30 points in Game 2 to justify his standing among the league’s elite. Stan Van Gundy, for one, disagrees.

“No, and here’s one of the problems,” Van Gundy said. “I think that it is a tough thing and you have to be a very strong person today if you are one of the best players. Whether it’s Dwight Howard or LeBron James because they will tear you apart in the media and say, ‘You need to do this, this and this to prove to us,’ and that may not be what your team needs you to do to win the game. Are you about your reputation at siliencing your critics, or are you about doing what you need to do to help your team win?”

Still, Kendrick Perkins is aware of the scrutiny, and what it might mean for him.

“It’s scary in a way,” Perkins said. “If he comes out and tries to do too much and is on point, it’s scary. Everybody goes through this at one point. I don’t think he played a bad game in my opinion. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do defensively. What happens is, y’all gas the man up and get him mad. Then I come out and I got my hands full.”

Van Gundy noted that part of the burden lies with him and the rest of the Magic. While he didn’t say it, look for Orlando to try and get Howard moving toward the basket on the pick and roll to make Perkins try and keep up with him. But if Howard has another game like he did in the opener, the criticism will surely follow.

“He’s going to be have to just be able to deal with the criticism, as unfair as it is right now,” Van Gundy said. “He’s a great player. We wouldn’t be anywhere near the level that we have been without him. For whatever reason, no matter how many times you say it, it doesn’t matter that the Boston Celtics turned things around with their defense in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter how many times people say that defense wins. The bottom line is the media won’t stop judging guys on their offense.”

If nothing else, Perkins can empathize with Howard.

“Dwight’s a good dude,” he said. “He’s got to focus on what he’s supposed to be doing. He can’t worry about what other people say.”

He’s got enough to worry about with Perkins, and maybe vice-versa tonight.

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