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Second Quarter Wrap: Celtics vs. Cavaliers 03.14.10 at 3:50 pm ET
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The Celtics trail the Cavaliers, 54-48, at halftime. Both teams scored 30 points in the second quarter.

After Saturday’s practice, Kendrick Perkins said Anderson Varejao was an instigator on the court, and he has proved to be on Sunday. Varejao has scored 15 points and grabbed 6 rebounds off the bench.

Kevin Garnett leads the Celtics with 10 points. Rajon Rondo has posted eight points and six rebounds.

Glen Davis committed another tough foul against the Cavaliers. He practically leapt at Antawn Jamison and knocked him to the ground while shooting a 3-pointer. He picked up three fouls in the first half.

The Celtics are 0-for-6 from behind the arc while the Cavs are 5-for-12.

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Perkins: Cavs better without Shaq 03.13.10 at 3:37 pm ET
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There is no denying that Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most challenging big men to go up against in the NBA. But in the case of the Cavaliers, Kendrick Perkins thinks they are better suited without him.

The Cavaliers are 6-1 since O’Neal suffered a sprained thumb on February 25 against the Celtics. While it should be noted that wins during that stretch came against the sub-.500 Knicks, Nets, Pistons, and 76ers, Perkins believes that the Cavaliers have more options and speed without O’Neal.

“In my opinion, I think they’re better,” he said after practice on Saturday. “They can run more, you’ve got Anderson Varejao who’s more of an active body, he gets LeBron open a lot, opens up the paint for him, so I think they’re a better team. I mean obviously Shaq could help them, but I think they’re a better, more fast-paced team.”

Even without O’Neal on the court, Perkins will still have hands full in the paint. Anderson Varejao isn’t as big as O’Neal, but he causes problems for opponents in his own way.

“You’ve just got to take him out of the game,” said Perkins. “I think you’ve got to, all the time he’s more of the instigator. I think you’ve got to be more of the instigator when you’re playing against him. You’ve got to hit him first. He’s a guy who flops, gets a lot of calls, takes charges, offensive rebounds, so I think you’ve just got to keep a body on him and play against him hard.”

Varejao is averaging 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in two games against the Celtics this season, compared to 8.0 points and 6.0 rebounds from O’Neal.

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Cavs measuring stick for Celtics? at 3:18 pm ET
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Over the years, the Celtics have served as a measuring stick for their opponents. A win over the Big Three and Company has signified to many that they have what it takes to run with the best.

“The Celtics get the best game out of everybody they play,” Jamal Crawford said following a Hawks win over the C’s in January. “They are one of the best teams in the NBA and it’s a good measuring stick.”

“I guess it just proves that we should have high expectations and we should continue to work hard and if we play hard – I think that’s the biggest thing,” Steve Nash said after the Suns dealt the Celtics their first loss of the season.

But the Celtics are no longer at the top of the East. On Saturday, they were nine games behind the Cavaliers for first in the conference. That makes Sunday’s game in Cleveland that much more meaningful. A win on the Cavs home court, where the Cavs are 28-4, would be significant to the Celtics.

“I’m looking forward to the game, seeing exactly where we’re at, just going out there and competing,” said Kendrick Perkins after practice on Saturday. “They’re a great team, they’re at home, best in the NBA, just seeing where we’re at. I think it would be a great confidence boost for us if we could go in their home building and get a win.”

Perkins is quick to point out, however, that while a victory in Cleveland would help their confidence, the Celtics are not measurng their success against that of the Cavs. He says that using a game against the Cavs to assess the Celtics performance is like role reversal “in a way,” but the Cavaliers still have a lot to prove too.

“They still haven’t won anything, they’re just the best team in the league,” he said. “They still haven’t done anything we haven’t done, so right now they’re just the best team in the league and we’ve got to go at them.”

The Celtics will play the Cavs at 3:30 on Sunday. The season series is tied 1-1.

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Fast Break: Celtics 122, Pacers 103 03.12.10 at 10:00 pm ET
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After losing by 20 to the Grizzlies on Wednesday, the Celtics bounced back and were up by as many points at halftime over the Pacers en route to a convincing 122-103 victory over the Pacers on Friday at TD Garden. Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 20 points. Roy Hibbert led all players with 23.

The Celtics bench outscored the Pacers reserves, 54-38. They had a 26-12 advantage in the first half alone.

Turning Point: There were seven lead changes in the first quarter before Nate Robinson picked off a bad pass with 45 seconds left and nailed a three. It gave the Celtics a six-point lead that they never surrendered.

Player of the Game: Robinson shot 5-for-6 from behind the arc and finished the game with 15 points. His energy sparked the Celtics late in the first quarter and carried into the second quarter, where they led by as many as 21 points. Robinson scored more points in seven minutes than he had in the past four games combined.

- The Celtics scored 38 points in the second quarter to top their previous season-high of 37, set on December 10 against the Wizards. They tied their season-high in any quarter, having previously scoring 38 points on three other occasions (most recently in the first quarter on February 23 against the Knicks).

- Glen Davis scored 15 points in 20 minutes. He had not scored more than seven points in any of the last three games.

- Gino made an appearance with 2:25 left in the game and the Celtics up 120-99. Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace watched the video together.

- The Celtics won the regular season series with the Pacers, 2-1. They previously won on December 22 (103-94) and lost on November 14 (113-104).

- Over 600 tickets were donated for Seats for Soldiers night at TD Garden. Earlier in the day, the Celtics and OmniPresence hosted a video conference for local families with loved  ones stationed in Baghdad, Iraq and Fort McCoy in Wisconsin.

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First Quarter Wrap: Celtics vs. Pacers at 8:09 pm ET
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After scoring just 12 points in the first quarter against the Grizzlies, the Celtics more than doubled that point total against the Pacers. They lead 29-23 after the first 12 minutes.

The Celtics offense has been fueled by Rajon Rondo, who leads all players with 10 points (4-6 FG). Nate Robinson provided the high energy play of the quarter when he picked off a bad pass and nailed a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left. This put the Celtics up by six and got the crowd on their feet.

Troy Murphy leads the Pacers with 7 points.

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First Quarter Wrap: Celtics vs. Grizzlies 03.10.10 at 8:10 pm ET
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The Celtics scored 12 points in the first quarter … the entire first quarter.

The C’s shot a meager 25 percent from the floor and were outscored 27-12 by the Grizzlies, who are shooting a comfortable 55 percent from the field. It is the least amount of points the Celtics have scored in the first quarter all season.

Sam Young leads all players with nine points off the Grizzlies bench. Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph have combined for another 14. Ray Allen leads the Celtics with six points, but was sidelined early with foul trouble. Michael Finley made his home debut after Allen picked up his second.

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Flip: ‘We choked’ against Celtics 03.08.10 at 2:04 am ET
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Kevin Garnett takes the ball to the basket during Sunday's night win over the Wizards. (AP)

Kevin Garnett takes the ball to the basket during Sunday's night win over the Wizards. (AP)

Flip Saunders knows Kevin Garnett well enough. For 10 seasons, Saunders coached the perennial All-Star with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

With all apologizes to Jim Croce, Saunders, now the head coach of the Wizards, knows you don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind and you don’t tick off the Big Ticket.

The last part of that equation was especially troublesome in Saunders’ eyes as he watched his Wizards blow a 79-66 lead with just over six minutes to go Sunday night.

“Well, we choked,” Saunders began. “Six minutes to go, we’re up 13. We’ve got young guys, they don’t know what it’s like to be in a situation. We start talking to Garnett, start talking trash and everything else. Got Garnett and those guys juiced up and we just pissed down our leg the last six minutes.

“You have a veteran team that knows how to close out games against a young team that hasn’t been there, and instead of just letting a sleeping dog lie, we juiced up their energies. We had plays coming off timeouts and we had guys going to the wrong side of the floor, we were so discombobulated.”

[Click here to hear Saunders rip into his team for coming unglued at the end of the game.] Read the rest of this entry »

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