|The Celtics as underdogs||04.29.10 at 5:31 pm ET|
It’s not hard to figure out and it’s definitely not a respect thing. While the Celtics were sleepwalking through stretches of the regular season, the Cavaliers were putting up the best record in the NBA.
“Pretty much I guess, yeah,” Paul Pierce said. “We’re the four seed, they’re the one seed. They’re the favorite to win it all, we are the underdogs.”
It’s a different feeling for the Celtics, but they are embracing their new role.
“Being an underdog is nothing,” Pierce said. “I feel like I’ve been the underdog my whole career. I definitely thrive in that situation. We’ll see how it turns out. There’s no pressure on us.”
In the end, it doesn’t really matter heading into the series. If one team gets up in the series, the other will feel the pressure regardless of who or what is supposed to happen. It’s not like the Celtics are in awe, either.
“I don’t know if we feel like that,” Doc Rivers said. “I think everyone feels like we are. We’ve been there before. Going into the championship series [against the Lakers], no one picked us outside of Boston. I don’t think we care one way or the other. We have to go out there and earn it. Orlando is the defending champions of the East. I don’t know how Cleveland’s been anointed that already. They have to earn it and we want to earn it. We feel good.”
|The Varejao factor||04.29.10 at 5:22 pm ET|
WALTHAM — In three games against the Celtics this season, Anderson Varejao averaged 13 points, nine rebounds ( with half of them coming on the offensive glass) and about a hundred different migraines. His energy seemed to overwhelm the Celtics and he was a huge key in Cleveland’s 20-point win over the Celtics at the Garden.
“They’re only good because they play hard with a high basketball IQ,” Rivers said. “I can give you a bunch of guys who can play hard but don’t think. They do it intelligently. That’s what made Dennis Rodman so good because his IQ on the floor was ridiculous. Varejao’s just a smart, crafty, hard-playing 7-footer.”
Davis will play a large role in this series. The Celtics are counting on him and Rasheed Wallace to match Varejao’s energy off the bench as well as the other big men options the Cavs can throw at the Celtics.
“Our bench has to play well,” Rivers said. “It doesn’t have to be all of them. The combination of Baby and Rasheed, we need one of them and we would prefer two. They have to play well. We need somebody to match Varejao’s energy. The two games they won he was the best player. He dominated those games with his energy and his effort.”
Varejao has also been known as an irritant, which is part of his job. He’s the kind of player only the hometown fans can love, even though all give him grudging respect. Davis is also an emotional player, but Rivers doesn’t think that will be an issue, at least not for him.
“I’m not worried about him getting under Baby’s skin,” Rivers said. “I am more concerned about the Kevin [Garnett’s] and the Rasheed’s because that’s what he wants to do. Baby’s pretty good with that. Baby will just keep competing back. Baby actually has the ability to get under people’s skin himself. The other guys, they know it. Listen, if I’m Varejao and I can get under their skin, I’m going to try.”
|Details on LeBron’s injury emerge||04.29.10 at 12:52 pm ET|
Reports out of Cleveland indicate that LeBron James has a strain in his right elbow and a bone bruise. He is not expected to miss any time in the upcoming series with the Celtics. As Brian Windhorst of the Plain Dealer put it on his Twitter account: “In technical terms it is a “bone bruise of his olecranon.” In lay terms, it means he banged his elbow and it is sore.”
|Rivers on D&C: ‘We’ll be ready’ for physical series with Cavs||04.29.10 at 10:30 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the C’s second-round playoff series against the Cavaliers, set to start Saturday. Rivers said he does not believe LeBron James‘ elbow injury will slow down the superstar. “I don’t think it will have any effect on him,” Rivers said. “I think he’ll be fine. If he shoots Games 1, 2, 3, 4 left-handed, then I would say something’s wrong. Other than that, he’ll be fine.”
Rivers said even if LeBron James is slowed due to his sore elbow, the Cavaliers have enough other weapons to pick up the slack. “They’re a very deep basketball team. They have a lot of different guys,” Rivers said. “We have to guard the 3-point line against these guys. LeBron does what he does. But when all those guys — [Anthony] Parker, Mo Williams, Delonte West, Jamario Moon, [Antawn] Jamison — when they’re standing behind that line making 3’s, then they become unbeatable. That’s the part of the game that we have to take away from them — at least try.”
Rivers gave some insight into how the C’s and other teams attempt to limit James’ impact. “One is if you can force him to his left, you’d like to do that, even though he goes both ways pretty well,” Rivers said. “Two is give him a cushion. And three is if you can force him into being a jump shooter. That’s so much easier said than done. He understands that what teams are trying to do, and he won’t have it for the most part. He’ll still put the ball on the floor.
“As far as guarding him, you can just name [the C’s defenders]. Marquis [Daniels] will get a chance, Tony [Allen] will get a chance, Paul [Pierce] will get a chance, Hopefully, no more than those three.”
Asked what he would like to see from Rasheed Wallace in this series, Rivers said: “Three things: He has to be better defensively for us, especially vs. the pick and roll. Offensively he has to be a low-post presence. And then he does have to knock down a couple of shots, because that will spread their defense.”
Asked about the history of problems between the teams, Rivers implied that his club will focus more on the basketball and less on the extracurricular stuff this time around, although the C’s won’t back down. “We’re just going to come and play,” he said. “We’ll be ready. If it becomes a physical series, we’ll be ready for that as well.”
Rivers said the Celtics’ victory over the Cavaliers two years ago en route to a title won’t mean much now. “[Cavs general manager] Danny Ferry has done an amazing job with them,” Rivers said. “He’s added talent. When you think about their team when we beat them two years ago to their team now, it doesn’t even resemble the same team. They just keep adding talent and skileld players around LeBron. And that’s what they had to do, and they’ve done it.”
Rivers commented on Patriots draft pick Brandon Spikes, who is dating Rivers’ daughter, Callie (they were University of Florida classmates). “My boys got a lot of pleasure out of that the first time Brandon came over to the house, because I’m always intimidating my daughter’s boyfriends but I was saying, ‘Yes, sir,’ to him,” Rivers joked.
To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
|Celtics-Cavs series schedule set||04.29.10 at 10:30 am ET|
The NBA has set the dates for the Celtics‘ conference semifinal series with the Cavaliers. Most of the times are still to be determined. The Celtics get a bit of a break with three days off between Games 2 and 3.
Game 1: Saturday, May 1: Boston at Cleveland, Time to be determined
Game 2: Monday, May 3: Boston at Cleveland, TBD
Game 3: Friday, May 7: Cleveland at Boston, TBD
Game 4: Sunday, May 9: Cleveland at Boston, 3:30
*Game 5: Tuesday, May 11: Boston at Cleveland, TBD
*Game 6: Thursday, May 13: Cleveland at Boston, TBD
*Game 7: Sunday, May 16: Boston at Cleveland, 3:30
* if necessary
|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.’
|Ainge on The Big Show: ‘We need the Big Four to play well’||04.28.10 at 5:19 pm ET|
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined The Big Show on Wednesday and talked about his team’s playoff hopes. The Celtics looked strong in a first-round win over the Heat after struggling for much of the regular season. “I think that the inconsistency is more a state of mind,” Ainge said. “Everyone said we’re going to turn the button on and off. I don’t think we did that except in the course of each game. It was like we came out to play all the big games of the year and many others. And then it would just be like we got disinterested in the fourth quarter, or late in the third. We were one of the worst third-quarter teams in the season, and now we’re one of the best third-quarter teams in the playoffs. To me, it’s all a frame of mind and your approach to the game.”
Ainge said that in order for the Celtics to beat LeBron James‘ Cavaliers, the C’s need Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo to be at the top of their games each time out. “Because we don’t have LeBron, we need a lot of guys to step up and carry us,” Ainge said. “We need the Big Four to play well. It comes down to that. We’re going to get inconsistent performances out of guys off the bench because that’s who they’ve been all year and kind of who’ve they have been in their careers. But we need consistent effort out of our Big Four.”
Asked about the future of his coach, Ainge said, “I’ve wondered about Doc because I know how much of a family man he is. I know how hard it is to coach in this business. I know the emotional toll it takes to be a coach in this league. I think this has been an extraordinarily difficult year for Doc, a challenging year,” Ainge said, adding. “I think Doc will be back next year. He hasn’t told me that, and it’s something that we really don’t talk about. I did talk with Doc earlier in the year about the possibility of doing a contract extension, and he didn’t want to do it [not] because he wasn’t sure he wanted to come back, he didn’t want to do it because he doesn’t want a distraction.” Added Ainge: “I think that Doc does like it here. I think he understands the unique opportunity he has coaching here. And I think that once the season gets over and once he has the chance to settle back, I think he will want to come back.”
Ainge was asked if the Celtics had any chance of being a player with one of the marquee free agents this summer and said it would be doubtful but not out of the question. “The only way it would be possible would be a sign and trade, and that’s very unlikely. The only way we would be able to do it is if a player said, ‘I want to play in Boston, and I’m only going to play in Boston under any circumstances.’ … That team would have to believe that [the player was willing to sign for a mid-level exception] and work out some sort of sign and trade to get that player more money.” Additionally, Ainge confirmed that the Celtics likely would have to entice the other team with a package of a player such as Ray Allen, with his huge contract, and a promising young player.
To hear the interview, click on The Big Show audio on demand page.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Austin Ainge Offers Window to C's Pre-Draft Process
- Trade Possibilities for C's with Draft Approaching
- Latest Buzz Surrounding Jamal Crawford, Kristaps Porzingis, Celtics'...
- Latest NBA Trade Rumors, Buzz
- Ranking Celtics' Biggest NBA Draft Needs
- Buzz Surrounding Ty Lawson, Celtics Draft Plans and More
- Realistic Targets for Celtics to Chase During Offseason