|For Celtics, there was much ado about Hedo||05.24.10 at 12:27 am ET|
WALTHAM — The sudden disappearance of Rashard Lewis is not the only thing missing from the Magic team that defeated the Celtics in last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals.
This time around they are playing without Hedo Turkoglu, who left Orlando last summer and signed a multi-year deal with the Raptors. Even though the Magic acquired Vince Carter in his place — a role Carter’s teammates say he has filled well — the Celtics have noticed a difference in matchups without Turkoglu on the court.
It is one they have benefited from in the conference finals.
“Definitely with Turkoglu, he adds a size matchup being at 6-10 he can play the 2, the 3, the 1. Obviously, a walking matchup problem,” Paul Pierce said following practice on Sunday. “I just think the things that he does playing with the ball and off the ball in the post, he’s one of the more versatile small forwards in the NBA and one of the toughest that I’ve seen to guard. Them not having him, I think it really works in our favor.”
Last season Turkoglu averaged over 16 points in the seven-game semifinals series. Not only did he score, he made it easier for his teammates to do so by spreading the floor. (In the deciding Game 7, Turkoglu scored 25 points while dishing 12 assists.)
Take Lewis as an example. This postseason series he is averaging just five points while shooting 25 percent from the field and going 1-for-13 from 3-point range. Even though he got more open looks last season because of Kevin Garnett’s absence, the Celtics guarded him differently when Turkoglu was on the floor.
“Turkoglu, one of the things I think he does so well is he’s a facilitator,” said Doc Rivers. “He’s a big shot maker, but he is such a great passer with length. It’s tough to get deflections off Turkoglu, where all their other guys, you can get your hands up and you can get deflections. Turkoglu and LeBron [James] probably make the best cross-court passes in the league. So that’s been a little bit different for us. And Rashard is now at the 4, where really we played Turkoglu more at that position even though he was at the 3.”
|Celtics take credit where credit is due||05.23.10 at 3:41 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics are one game away from eliminating the Magic and advancing to the NBA Finals, and they believe credit should be given where credit is due.
“I believe we deserve all the credit,” Ray Allen said following practice on Sunday. “It’s only two teams playing. We’re putting them in the situation that they’re in, and we’re adjusting and trying to find the ways that we can confuse them as much as we can, and make it tough defensively on them and offensively. They’re not going out there and doing it to themselves.”
Following their Game 3 loss, the Magic conceded they have been outhustled and outplayed the entire series. Players were baffled by their collapse, saying they have not seen the real Magic team yet. Others said they are beating themselves.
But the Celtics are not paying attention to the downtrodden morale of their opponent.
“None of my concern,” said Kevin Garnett. “That’s them. That’s how they think. Nothing more, nothing less than that. I can’t really be worried with what they’re thinking over there and how they’re playing or what’s going through their head.”
The Celtics have made it this far by staying honed in on each other the entire postseason. Some questioned whether or not they would even survive the first round, let alone make it to the NBA Finals. Now that they are just 48 minutes away from advancing, they are focused on the confidence they have in one another, not the uncertainty felt by the Magic.
“I didn’t have any doubts in this team,” said Paul Pierce. “I never doubted us because I felt once we got to the playoffs, guys would be able to settle in a little more, travel wouldn’t be as much, we could really focus in on the team, and really do our scouting report. And I think just looking at a seven-game series, I always thought it’d be tough to beat us four times.”
The Heat and Cavaliers have already found out just how tough it is. The Celtics hope to teach the Magic the same lesson on Monday night.
|Howard: ‘We’re not done’||05.22.10 at 8:16 pm ET|
In spite of being down 2-0 to the Celtics, Dwight Howard is optimistic about the Magic’s future in the Eastern Conference Finals.
“We’re not done,” he told WEEI.com prior to Game 3.
Howard was loose and said the team is not getting down about their deficit, noting, “We feel like a million bucks. It’s a new day.”
The Magic have used the three-day break between Games 2 and 3 to mentally refocus. They have watched game tape and honed in on getting back to the fundamentals of Magic basketball.
Rashard Lewis noted they are zoned in on improving their ball movement and getting into an offensive rhythm early, something he said they have not done yet in this series.
“Boston was in a better rhythm than us playing, and hopefully they won’t be tonight,” Lewis told WEEI.com, adding, “We’ve got to come in with a lot of energy and a lot of effort in order to beat this team.”
|Barnes wants to guard Pierce, calls him a flopper||05.20.10 at 9:56 pm ET|
In the previous round, LeBron James said he would defend the streaking Rajon Rondo. Now, Matt Barnes wants the task of defending the Celtics’ hottest scorer.
On Thursday, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Barnes would like an opportunity to stop Pierce, who is averaging 25 points per game, the most among all players in the series.
“I’d love to guard Pierce,” Barnes told the Sentinel. “I got the chance to guard him a little bit the last game and felt that I did a pretty good job. But he’s really rolling right now, so we need to slow him down somehow.”
Pierce is shooting nearly 60 percent from the field in over 41 minutes per game, while averaging seven rebounds and five assists in the Eastern Conference finals.
It is a bounce-back from the Eastern Conference semifinals, in which he averaged 13.5 points off of 34.5 percent shooting from the field and 30.8 percent from 3-point range. His defensive numbers had also dropped to less than five boards and four assists against the Cavaliers.
But there is more to it than just trying to slow Pierce’s offensive attack. Barnes told the Sentinel Pierce has another skill besides scoring. He believes Pierce knows how to sell calls, too.
“My third foul in the third quarter, when I tried to beat him over the screen, he fell down like I threw him,” he said. “It was ridiculous. But the refs called it, so it was a good play. It was a flop, 100 percent, and that’s how some guys like to play. But if the refs call it, it’s effective.”
Pierce has shot 17-for-21 at the line in the first two games. He drew nine fouls in Game 2.
|Big Baby won’t look back at ‘Shovegate’||05.14.10 at 9:20 pm ET|
Last year Glen Davis sparked controversy after bumping into a 12-year-old Orlando Magic fan following his game-winning shot during the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
On Sunday, he will return to Amway Arena for the Celtics Conference Finals matchup against the Magic, and he isn’t looking back.
“I’m not worried about that,” he said. “I’ve been back during the year. It is what it is, but just play the game. Everything happens for a reason. Mistakes happen.”
The incident (sensationalized as “Shovegate”) prompted the boy’s father to email the NBA league office and demand an apology from Davis. But Davis has said all along that the bump was caused by game-winning excitement, not intentional harm. Even though the father dropped his complaint, the incident still tarnished Davis’ reputation in Orlando.
The jeers don’t bother Davis, though, especially if they come as a result of a winning performance.
“Everybody gives me a couple of boos here and there, but I don’t mind that,” he said. “I love it. It means I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
|Rondo takes on the big screen||05.10.10 at 1:03 am ET|
Rajon Rondo played the leading role in the Celtics’ win over the Cavaliers on Sunday. It’s not the only role he’s playing this week.
Rondo has a cameo role in the upcoming film “Just Wright,” a romantic comedy about a basketball player starring Common and Queen Latifah, which opens in theaters on Friday.
“I’m friends with Common,” Rondo told WEEI.com. “He asked me if I wasn’t doing anything, there was a basketball movie and he would try to get me a part in it, and he did.”
Rondo shot his scene last summer in New York. He soaked up the total movie experience, complete with hair, makeup and long hours on set.
“It was actually different than I expected,” he said. “We were on set for like 12 hours. My actual shot is maybe like 30 seconds.”
Even though Rondo did not have a speaking role in the movie, he still enjoyed being part of the production.
“[My favorite part was] just seeing how they do it,” he said. “I’ve never been on a movie set before so it was just first experience. I didn’t know you do one particular scene like an entire day. We did maybe like 20 takes. It was crazy. I didn’t expect it. But the guys from the cast were very funny, so I had a great time.”
Rondo is not the first Celtic to have a brush with the silver screen. Ray Allen starred in “He Got Game” and Glen Davis was a top candidate for the leading role in “The Blind Side.” But don’t expect Rondo to be sending out demo tapes any time soon.
“I’m not trying to pursue an acting career,” he said. “I was myself in the movie.”
Rondo has proved he doesn’t need to be in movies to play a starring role.
|Perkins: ‘Without [Rondo], we’d be dead’||05.08.10 at 5:04 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Between Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett alone, it has never been easy to pinpoint the best player on the Celtics. Throw the development of Rajon Rondo into the mix this season, and the task is even tougher.
It’s easy, though, for Kendrick Perkins. Not only does he consider Rondo to be the C’s top player, he also considers him their lifeline.
“I think right now, he’s the best player on our team,” Perkins told WEEI.com following practice on Saturday. “Without Rondo, nothing goes. Pretty much we’ve got to play him the whole game because he just runs the whole team. Without him, we’d be dead.”
Rondo is playing a team-high 41 minutes per game in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Cavaliers. His numbers have consistently improved from the regular season throughout the playoffs. In the first three games against the Cavs, he leads with team with 19.3 points and 13.0 assists, more than five points and three assists better than the regular season. He is also shooting 56.8 percent from the field and averaging 5.0 rebounds, more boards than Allen and Pierce.
“I think he stepped up,” said Perkins. “He’s been more focused than ever, in my opinion, and he’s been doing a great job of leading us.”