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Garnett’s tough cover 05.18.10 at 11:45 am ET
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ORLANDO — Whenever he is asked about the toughest players to cover in the NBA, Kevin Garnett always pays respect to Rashard Lewis. At 6-foot-10, Lewis is one of the best 3-point shooters in the league, but he also can put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket.

Lewis shot 2-for-10 in Game 1 and scored just six points, a far cry from last season’s playoff matchup when the Celtics couldn’t come up with an effective counter without Garnett in the lineup.

“KG was phenomenal,” Doc Rivers said. “Not only with Rashard, but with help and recovering. We’€™re asking him to recover from pick and roll angle to 3. Usually you recover from pick and roll to roll where you’€™re running under the basket. That’€™s the complete opposite direction. For him to train his mind to do that is really tough to do. With Rashard, you show [on the pick and roll] and you have to sprint the opposite direction. Eighty games of going that way and now you’€™re going this way, mentally that is really difficult. You can even see it in practice where he shows and takes a step this way, with Rashard if you take that one, you’€™re not getting back in time. He did a great job in Game 1.”

Garnett’s offense did not come as readily. He shot 4-for-14 and found himself out on the perimeter. Credit the Magic defense with making it difficult for him to get the ball in the post.

“They double team without the ball,” Rivers said. “You don’€™t see that very often. With [Kendrick Perkins] in there or [Rajon] Rondo, they use their guy to front and back Kevin so you can’€™t get it to him. We have to get it to him on movement plays. Once we get it to him I feel very confident.”

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Rashard Lewis,
C’s mission for Game 2: Defend the corner 3 05.18.10 at 11:29 am ET
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ORLANDO — The Magic took 22 3-pointers in Game 1 and made just five of them. Part of that was the active Celtics defense and part of that was just Orlando missing makeable shots.

“They’€™re going to play harder, they’€™re going to play with more energy and they’€™re going to be better,” Doc Rivers said Tuesday before the team’s shootaround. “They’€™ll shoot the ball better. What we’€™ve focused on in the last 48 hours is showing all the open shots that they did have. They were rushed but they were open and we can’€™t allow those. They did a lot of good things. Some of it was their doing and some of it was us and we have to get away from what we allowed.”

One of the keys to defending the Magic is taking away the corner 3-pointer, which is one of the most efficient shots in basketball, and they makes good use of the shot, averaging almost eight attempts per game. Orlando shoots 41 percent from the left corner and 43 percent from the right corner (hat tip to Celtics Hub, which has a nice breakdown).

“For them it’€™s huge,” Rivers said. “For the league, that’€™s our spot. We have the ‘No corner 3′ rule. We’€™ve had it for about five years. It’€™s true. It’€™s the shortest shot for the 3-pointer and it’€™s the one that they take the most.”

Doc on Chicago rumor: ‘That’s silly’ 05.18.10 at 11:06 am ET
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ORLANDO — An unsourced rumor on the AOL FanHouse website Monday night linked Doc Rivers and LeBron James to the Chicago Bulls as part of a package deal. Rivers denied it Tuesday morning as the team went through a shootaround in preparation for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Magic.

“It’s the first time I’ve heard it, but no,” Rivers told WEEI.com. “That’s silly.”

Rivers is a Chicago native, and the Bulls do have a head coaching vacancy after they fired Vinny Del Negro. But Rivers has a year left on his contract with the Celtics and he has maintained that he will either be with the Celtics or he will spend the year in Orlando, where his family has a home.

Read More: Doc Rivers, LeBron James,
Celtics have room for improvement 05.17.10 at 1:28 pm ET
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ORLANDO — The important thing is that they got the win, but the Celtics know that if they are going to head home with two games in their back pocket that they have work to do. First and foremost, is cleaning up on the boards.

The Celtics allowed 15 offensive rebounds in Game 1 against the Magic and they know that can’t continue.

“That’€™s real disturbing,” Paul Pierce said. “That’€™s something we gave up mostly in the second half.”

Pierce is sort of right on that count — the Celtics allowed eight of the 15 in the second half — but the problem became more noticeable in the fourth quarter when the Magic made their run. As is often the case, a decent number of the Magic’s second-chance points came off dribble penetration and freelancing from their defensive system.

“It wasn’€™t their bigs in some places, it was their guards,” Doc Rivers said. “[Matt] Barnes hurt us a couple of times. We double teamed three times and they scored all three times where we were not supposed to double team, and then the dribble penetration. [J.J.] Redick killed us off the dribble.”

By Rivers count the Celtics double-teamed on three occasions, and they got burned each time.

“It’€™s instinct,” Rivers said. “We had a horrible one, where we doubled Dwight [Howard]. Dwight was five feet off the block and we went and doubled him and Jason Williams was standing by himself behind the 3. That’€™s just an instinct and we do allow that, but we have to be smarter against this team. They kill you when you double them. If you double team this team they’€™ll hurt you.”

The Celtics also want to figure out their pick and roll coverage. Jameer Nelson burned them in the second half when they went under the screen. He’s too good a shooter to allow him open looks.

“We’€™ve got to figure out a way to stop Jameer Nelson in the pick and roll,” Pierce said. “He really got hot in the second half. We’€™re far from being where we want to be.”

Read More: Celtics, Jameer Nelson, Magic, Paul Pierce
Perkins is a fifth wheel no longer 05.17.10 at 1:15 pm ET
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ORLANDO — When you think of the Celtics, you think of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce willingly sharing the collective glory. Or maybe you think about Rajon Rondo’s emerging brilliance. Rarely do you think about Kendrick Perkins, the team’s defensive anchor in the paint.

That’s cool with Perk, whose perpetual scowl masks an open and honest individual who doesn’t really mind whether he gets the credit or not.

“Nope,” he said Monday before the team practiced. “I actually like it. It’€™s cool to have it, but I’€™m really beyond it. I just do my work. Danny [Ainge] told me something a long time ago. As long as your teammates are fans of yours and the coaches are fans of yours and the organization is fans of yours then you don’€™t need no any other fans.”

The Celtics certainly appreciate his work.

“Every night with Perk, he’€™s the tackling dummy.,” Doc Rivers said. “He’€™s getting hit, he’€™s getting punched. He’€™s getting knocked down and all he’€™s getting is picked up off the floor. But he does it. He doesn’€™t mind doing it. It’€™s just as important as a jump shot. Shooters get all the glory. He’€™s an offensive lineman.”

That changes a little bit in this series as he is matched up against Dwight Howard. This is where Perkins has made his reputation as a post defender, by not giving an inch against the NBA’s most intimidating physical specimen.

“You can’€™t come into the game like, ‘Oh, I’€™m playing Dwight, I’€™m playing Superman,’ ” Perkins said. “You have to come into the game willing to get dirty. I put my nose into the fight. That’€™s what it is.”

While Howard had his way with the Bobcats and Hawks in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Perkins was going toe-to-toe with Shaquille O’Neal, and he’s got the bruises to show for it.

“It’€™s about the same.,” Perkins said of the physical challenge. “Shaq’€™s big and strong. Dwight’€™s big and strong. Dwight’€™s quicker and more athletic so it’€™s a different challenge. You can get hurt against either one of them. I feel it though. Everywhere. You better believe that.”

Perkins goal with Howard is rather simple. Limit his catches deep in the post and try to push him further away from the basket. If the end result is a missed shot, it means that he’s done his work before the ball even got there.

“You try to limit his dunks,” Perkins said. “Any time he has a chance to get a dunk you want to wrap him up and send him to the foul line. When he gets a dunk he gets going. He can make a jump hook, he doesn’€™t really feel that. He gets his energy off of getting dunks.”

And it doesn’t help to have Rasheed Wallace behind him either since their styles are so different.

“I play him differently than everybody else,” he said. “Rasheed plays mind games with him. I’€™m just going to be a straight-up physical presence.”

Perkins isn’t doing anything that he doesn’t normally do, right down the scowl, but by staying consistent, he’s getting his due.

Read More: Kendrick Perkins,
Ray Allen on respect: Who cares? 05.16.10 at 3:06 pm ET
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ORLANDO — There’s been a lot of talk about respect lately. The Magic feel like they don’t get any, and the Celtics could claim a gripe in that their win over the Cavaliers has been overshadowed by LeBron-mania.

Ray Allen, like the rest of the Celtics veterans, isn’t worried about it.

“That’s the bottom line, it’s like, who cares?” Allen said before Game 1 of the Conference Finals. ” At the end of the day, you win that fourth game in the Finals and you’re in the back of the building until 4 a.m. that’s when all the talk is in your direction. Again, we have one goal. It’s not for people to talk about us, it’s to be the last team standing.”

Allen is old enough, and mature enough, to also understand that of course LeBron James is going to get the lion’s share of the media attention since his pending free agency has been the talk of the basketball world since he signed his last contract.

“In the NBA it’s probably one of the biggest storylines of the year and will be on into the summer,” Allen said. “We’re still here playing so everyone has to watch us and talk about us. I don’t need to force somebody to watch me and tell me I’m great or this team is great. It will take care of itself.”

As for the Magic, the Celtics don’t need to be told that they are the defending conference championships. Doc Rivers alluded to it before the Cavs series even started and he made the point again Sunday.

“Our goal was not to beat Cleveland,” Rivers said. “Our goal was to try to get to the Finals. We’ve stated from Day One that the team you have to beat to get to the Finals is Orlando. Everyone else crowned Cleveland. We didn’t. Orlando was the best team in the East last year. I don’t know why everyone forgets that.”

Respect will be paid one way or another in this series and for these two teams it will be earned on the court.

Read More: Cavaliers, Magic, Ray Allen,
Barnes or Carter, Celtics aren’t changing 05.16.10 at 2:58 pm ET
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ORLANDO — Stan Van Gundy started the chess match early when he suggested that he would have Matt Barnes guard Ray Allen instead of Paul Pierce, who would then become Vince Carter’s assignment.

This opens up a number of interesting questions such as: Does Van Gundy think Allen is a bigger threat than Pierce? Would the Celtics switch up their coverages? Then there’s the issue of Barnes’ health. He has been struggling with back spasms.

On the latter, Van Gundy said that Barnes is feeling better and will be ready to play. As for the other? “We’ll see,” Van Gundy said before Game 1.

The Celtics are unconcerned. They’re not going to change up their assignments.

“We’re not changing.,” Doc Rivers said. “We’re going the same way we’re going to go. Whenever there’s a switch like in the last series when [Anthony] Parker guarded [Rajon] Rondo, you’re always concerned about the cross matchup in transition because the guy you’re guarding is not in front of you. You have to resist the temptation to cross the court and try to find your guy and leave a guy open. That actually works both ways.”

Interesting, because Allen thinks this could play in the Celtics advantage.

“I would think that they’d be more worried about Carter getting back on defense, so maybe the cross matchup would probably work better in our favor,” Allen said. “If I’m guarding Vince he’d have to run back in transition on me. I’ve noticed throughout the year, Vince would be on one side running back with me and then the other man will run all the way back across the floor.”

Once again, the key for the Celtics is getting out on the break.

“Transition is big,” Allen said. “You get the rebound, push it up and Paul and I just run, they have to make a decision because sometimes you can’t get back to your guy. It does make you think.”

Read More: Matt Barnes, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Vince Carter
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