|Rondo latest key to the series||04.30.10 at 3:28 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics have unveiled so many keys for their series with the Cavaliers that they will need a ring just to keep them all straight. In addition to defensive rebounding, defending the 3-point line, energy from the bench, and, of course, guarding LeBron James, you can add one more: Rajon Rondo.
The Lakers get a lot of credit for devising the free safety defense on Rondo, but it was the Cavaliers in the 2008 conference semifinals who first effectively neutralized Rondo in a playoff series by simply not guarding him. In that series, the Cavs held him to single-digits in scoring four times and without an assist in another.
“Rondo’s the key to the series,” Doc Rivers said after practice Friday. “His speed has to be a factor in this series. He has to be disruptive defensively with his speed and it’s all pressure. They’re going to help off of him. Really how well he handles them trapping off of them and really not guarding him will be the key for us winning. When he’s effective our whole team is effective.”
The Celtics expect James will guard Rondo at times, which would allow him to essentially cause havoc by roaming around the defensive end.
“It’s movement off the ball,” Rivers said. “When he has the ball it’s no issue. When he doesn’t have the ball he has to be a great cutter and he has to be a great decision-maker once we swing the ball back to him. He has to catch it on the run and get back on the attack.”
Rondo’s reaction to being told that he was the latest key to the series?
Yes, Doc said they were going to play off you and you have to take advantage of it.
Have there been things you’ve learned over the years about playing against those defenses?
It seems like if you’ve kept moving and kept the ball moving you can minimize that and still be productive.
“There you have it.”
Rondo knows, obviously, what’s in front of him and what he has to do. It should be pointed out that his reactions to the same questions he’s heard hundreds of times before were fairly playful. It’s also worth noting that he’s had good success against the Cavs this season, averaging almost 15 points and more than 10 assists in four games.
So, Rajon, are you excited about the challenge?
You don’t show it. You’re pretty pumped up for this?
|Rivers on LeBron’s MVP: He deserves it||04.30.10 at 2:53 pm ET|
“He deserves it,” Doc Rivers said. “He earned it all year, so congratulations. I don’t think after Kobe [Bryant], and [Kevin] Durant and Dwight Howard, who doesn’t get enough credit for what he does with that team, there weren’t a lot of other choices.”
James is scheduled to be awarded the trophy by David Stern before Game 2.
“I hope it’s a distraction for them,” Rivers said. “It won’t be a distraction for us. None of us are getting it. Hopefully he won’t give a long speech and we can go and play basketball.”
The glamour matchup in this series is James and Paul Pierce, but Rivers suspects that James won’t simply be guarding Pierce.
“Paul’s going to be Paul,” Rivers said. “We’re not going to be going away from Paul because LeBron is guarding him. Paul’s our offensive guy so we’re going to still go to him. I don’t think LeBron will be guarding Paul but half the time. I think LeBron will be guarding Rondo and others.”
|LeBron to win MVP||04.30.10 at 10:46 am ET|
Various outlets in Cleveland are reporting that LeBron James has won his second straight Most Valuable Player award. According to the Plain-Dealer, it will be formally announced Sunday and he will be presented with the trophy by commissioner David Stern prior to Game 2 with the Celtics, Monday night.
|Times set on Celtics-Cavs series||04.30.10 at 8:59 am ET|
Game 1 of the Celtics-Cavaliers series is set for 8 p.m., the league announced. The game will be broadcast on TNT, with radio coverage on WEEI. Times have been set for all of the games except Games 5 and 6.
Game 1: Saturday, May 1, Boston at Cleveland, 8 p.m. (TNT)
Game 2: Monday, May 3, Boston at Cleveland, 8 p.m. (TNT)
Game 3: Friday, May 7, Cleveland at Boston, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 4: Sunday, May 9, Cleveland at Boston, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
*Game 5: Tuesday, May 11, Boston at Cleveland, TBD (TNT)
*Game 6: Thursday, May 13, Cleveland at Boston, TBD (ESPN)
*Game 7: Sunday, May 16, Boston at Cleveland, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
* if necessary
|LeBron’s elbow just funny business to C’s||04.29.10 at 10:38 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Gamesmanship is as common this time of year in the NBA as game planning.
With that being said, no one will know for sure just how big a role the banged up right elbow of LeBron James will play in the Celtics-Cavs series.
But the Celtics have their own sense of the seriousness of the injury to King James.
“He’s fine,” coach Doc Rivers said with a big smile. “I tell you what, if he goes three or four games and shoots left-handed only, then I’ll believe that it’s hurting. We’re going to be ready for the LeBron we’ve seen all through the playoffs.”
Of course, James DID shoot a free throw with his left hand in the Game 5 clincher against Chicago on Tuesday night with 7.2 seconds remaining the Cavaliers up, 96-92.
Added Ray Allen, ‘I don’t even pay attention to it. If there’s something wrong with his elbow or any other part of his body, then he won’t play, and we all know that.”
|The Magic of LeBron||04.29.10 at 9:21 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Doc Rivers has seen that lightning-quick, cross-court pass that paralyzes a defense before leaving them powerless to prevent an easy, uncontested basket.
Magic Johnson did it seemingly at will in the 1980s and Rivers had an up close and personal view for it all.
It is precisely for this reason the Celtics coach is worried about LeBron James. Yes, No. 23 can take it to the rim. Yes, James can rebound and block shots. But what James can do to get others involved is the hardest aspect to prepare for in this series against the Cavaliers.
“He’s a bullet passer,” Rivers said on Thursday, two days before Game 1. “He’s the only guy I know of like Magic. The ‘steam’ bullet passes. He throws cross-court passes that are 100 miles an hour and it’s tough to react to.
“We showed the guys that on film and if you’re not down in your stance and you’re standing straight up on the weakside and he makes that pass, there’s no way you’re going to get out to that shooter.”
Rivers tried his best to get his team ready but admitted it’s next to impossible.
“We worked on that [Thursday] and there’s nobody on our team that can throw that pass so the work didn’t look as good. We kept getting out to the shooter and I said, ‘Yeah, we’re throwing softballs.’
“He’s a great passer. In some ways, I think he wants to pass sometimes.”
James is also the leading triple-double threat in the league. But Rivers said, like with Dwyane Wade, the Celtics can live with the points but not the rebounds and assists.
“Well, the 10 [points] and the 10 [rebounds] we can’t have,” Rivers said. “The 30 and the 40 [points] we don’t want and, if he has it, we want him to have it our way, not his way. That’s what upset us a little about Wade in a couple of the games. He got to 46 his way. The big game the last night [Game 5], he got it our way. We kept everyone else out of it so that was good.”
|Is it Marquis’ time?||04.29.10 at 5:49 pm ET|
The versatile veteran was supposed to fill several roles, including backup point guard and reserve swingman, but after a solid start, Daniels hurt his thumb and missed 28 games. When he returned in February he put together a string of solid outings but then seemed to regress. By the time April rolled around he was all but of the rotation and he played just six minutes against the Heat, with all of it coming in the Game 2 blowout.
“As a player you want to go out there and compete,” Daniels said. “That’s definitely difficult. You’ve just got to stay ready whenever your time comes. You’re physically ready, you’ve just got to stay mentally ready.”
But what changed?
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s coach’s decision. They felt like they needed to make a change and it worked out well for us in the first round, so hopefully we can keep it up.”
There’s a chance that Daniels could get some meaningful playing time in this series, however. With LeBron James on the other side, Doc Rivers will need all able-bodied forwards he can find. Paul Pierce obviously is first in line, and then comes Tony Allen, but Daniels could play a role.
Rivers indicated that was a possibility. There also may be a role for Nate Robinson, depending how things play out. Rivers has said that he remains confident in all of his players. He may get a chance to test that confidence in this series.
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