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Celtics support Pierce’s offensive struggles 05.08.10 at 3:55 pm ET
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WALTHAM Paul Pierce has led the Celtics offensively so many times throughout his career that it’€™s no surprise his team would rally behind him during his struggles.

Pierce is shooting just 31 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-point range in the first three games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Cavaliers. He is averaging 12.7 points, down from 18.3 in the regular season and 19.6 in the first round against the Heat.

After scoring 11 points (4-15 FG) in the Celtics Game 2 loss, Pierce said the Celtics’ success is not dependent on his offensive production. He believes his scoring will come, and his teammates feel the same way.

‘€œI’€™m not worried about P,’€ Kendrick Perkins said after practice on Saturday. ‘€œI’€™ve been around with P a long time. I’€™ve seen P have a few bad nights and come back and have a 35-point night. So you just never know with P. I know he’€™s capable of having big games and he always steps up in big games.’€

Pierce’€™s role during this series is more complicated than offensive contributions. He is tasked with guarding LeBron James, who after scoring 24 points in Game 2, scored 21 points in the first quarter of Game 3 alone. James finished the night with 38.

‘€œWe do want to get him the ball more. He has to get his rhythm better, but he has a big job. Guarding LeBron is very difficult and it takes a lot out of him,’€ said Doc Rivers, adding, ‘€œLeBron gets the ball 101 times a game. He handles the ball, he pushes the ball up the floor, he posts, so it will absolutely take something out of him. There’€™s no doubt about that.’€

The Celtics understand the magnitude of Pierce’€™s role on defense. Kevin Garnett said he wants to see Pierce being aggressive on both ends of the floor. Perkins isn’€™t worried about whether or not that will happen.

‘€œWe all go through times where we struggle a little bit,’€ he said. ‘€œHis intentions are good and he wants to win, but it’€™s just hard for him to have a big night on the offensive end when he’€™s guarding the most valuable player in the league. So we’€™ve just got to a great job of getting ball open, make sure we get him good shots, and just help him on defense. But he’€™s not a concern.’€

Paul Pierce/Kendrick Perkins press conference 05.07.10 at 11:16 pm ET
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Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins speak to the media after suffering an embarrassing 124-95 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Doc Rivers press conference 05.07.10 at 11:10 pm ET
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Doc Rivers speaks to the media following the Celtics 124-95 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Fast Break: Celtics – Cavs 05.07.10 at 9:41 pm ET
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Final Score: Cavaliers 124,  Celtics 95

After a momentum building win in Game 2, the Celtics were crushed, 124-95 , by the Cavaliers on Friday in Boston. The Celtics never led and got down 6-0 early on. It was just the beginning of an offensive attack by the Cavaliers, who shot 59.5 percent from the field and 31-for-34 from the free throw line.

Defensively, the Celtics were ineffective on the glass. They were outrebounded, 45-30 (Antawn Jamison nabbed 12 boards). As a result, they were outscored 50-32 in the paint.

Player of the game: LeBron James led all players with 38 points (14/22 FG, 2/3 3PG, 8/9 FT), eight rebounds, and seven assists. He scored 21 points in the first quarter alone to set the tone early on.

Turning point: With the score Cavs 10, Celtics 8, Kendrick Perkins committed a flagrant foul against James five minutes into the first quarter. The Cavs then went on a 10-0 run (eight points from James) to build a lead they never surrendered.

First Quarter: Cavaliers 36, Celtics 17

James scored 21 points in the first quarter, four more than the entire Celtics team combined, to give the Cavs a 19-point lead. But James wasn’€™t the only problem for the Celtics early on. The C’€™s were outrebounded, 15-5. None of the starters grabbed more than one board, while Antawn Jamison nabbed six of his own. Paul Pierce played just nine minutes after shooting 0-for-5 from the field. James scored 14 points with Pierce on the court. Kendrick Perkins was also sidelined early, picking up two fouls including a flagrant committed on a James fast break.

Halftime: Cavaliers  65, Celtics 43

Even though James only scored 7 points in the second half, the Celtics still trailed the Cavs, 65-43. It is three more points than their first quarter deficit. James led all players at the half with 28 points (11/15 FG, 1/1 3PG, 5/5 FT) in 20 minutes. Rondo (6/13 FG) and Garnett (5/7 FG) scored 12 points apiece for the Celtics. After going scoreless in the first quarter, Pierce scored seven in the second. James’€™ scoring aside, the most glaring stat was on the defensive end. The Cavs had a 25-10 advantage on the boards. James had eight, one more than the Celtics starting five combined.

Third Quarter: Cavaliers 96, Celtics 70

The Cavaliers’€™ dominance continued in the third quarter, as they took a 96-70 lead going into the final 12 minutes. James scored another seven points to bring his total to 35 points through three quarters. The Celtics got their biggest offensive spark from Nate Robinson, who scored eight points (2/3 FG, 2/2 3PG, 2/2 FT)  in three minutes off the bench. Rondo and Garnett still led the C’€™s (16 points apiece), but both players only scored four in the quarter. The Celtics were outrebounded by 20 boards, 34-14. Antawn Jamison recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. The question at the end of the quarter was whether Doc Rivers would turn to the bench or play the starters for a final push.

Fourth Quarter: Cavaliers 124, Celtics 95

The Cavaliers led by over 30 points but it might as well have been a three-point game with all the tension on the court. There were hard fouls, technical fouls, and arguments over fouls that Celtics fans took offense too. Garnett got T’€™ed up after getting tangled up with Anderson Varejao under the basket following a free throw. Varejao was assessed a loose ball foul. Even though that call prompted boos, the loudest jeers were heard when James argued a hard foul committed by Robinson with the Cavs up 27 points. Both teams turned to their bench late in the fourth as the Cavs easily walked away with the win.

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Third Quarter Wrap: Celtics – Cavs 05.07.10 at 9:03 pm ET
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Third Quarter: Cavaliers 96, Celtics 70

The Cavaliers’ dominance continued in the third quarter, as they took a 96-70 lead going into the final 12 minutes.

LeBron James scored another seven points to bring his total to 35 points through three quarters. The Celtics got their biggest offensive spark from Nate Robinson, who scored eight points (2/3 FG, 2/2 3PG, 2/2 FT)  in three minutes off the bench. Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett still lead the C’s (16 points apiece), but both players only scored four in the quarter.

The Celtics are being outrebounded by 20 boards, 34-14. Antawn Jamison now has a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

The question is now whether Doc Rivers will turn to the bench or play the starters for a final push.

Halftime Wrap: Celtics – Cavs 05.07.10 at 8:14 pm ET
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Halftime: Cavaliers  65, Celtics 43

Even though LeBron James only scored 7 points in the second half, the Celtics still trail the Cavs, 65-43. It is three more points than their first quarter deficit.

James leads all players at the half with 28 points (11/15 FG, 1/1 3PG, 5/5 FT) in 20 minutes. Rajon Rondo (6/13 FG) and Kevin Garnett (5/7 FG) scored 12 points apiece for the Celtics. After going scoreless in the first quarter, Paul Pierce scored seven in the second.

James’ scoring aside, the most glaring stat is on the defensive end. The Cavs have a 25-10 advantage on the boards. James has eight, one more than the Celtics starting five combined.

First Quarter Wrap: Celtics – Cavs 05.07.10 at 7:40 pm ET
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First Quarter: Cavaliers 36, Celtics 17

LeBron James scored 21 points in the first quarter, four more than the entire Celtics team combined, to give the Cavs a 19-point lead.

But James isn’t the only problem for the Celtics. The C’s are being outrebounded, 15-5. None of the starters grabbed more than one board, while Antawn Jamison nabbed six of his own.

Paul Pierce played just nine minutes after shooting 0-for-5 from the field. James scored 14 points with Pierce on the court. Kendrick Perkins was also sidelined early, picking up two fouls including a flagrant committed on a James fast break.


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