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Pierce: ‘I’m a natural born scorer’ 04.30.10 at 8:39 pm ET
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WALTHAM – Paul Pierce has all the respect in the world for LeBron James.

James, after all, has become just the 10th player in NBA history to win back-to-back regular season MVP awards and will be crowned King before Game 2 Monday night.

“I think if you ask players, and ask players to be honest, just based on what he’s achieved individually and as a team, it should be unanimous,” Pierce said.

But Pierce made a point to remind everyone on Friday before Game 1 that he still has confidence in his own ability to score from anywhere on the court.

“I think I’m comfortable doing anything,” Pierce said. “I don’t limit myself to just being a shooter, or just driving. I’m a natural born scorer. I think I can do it all over the court. If the shot is there, I’ll take it.”

Still, inquiring minds still wanted to know Friday just how Pierce – who figures to draw a good deal of the assignment of guarding James – plans to guard the newly-minted two-time NBA MVP.

“We just have to be aware of him constantly. You can’t give him anything. You have to challenge his shot. He does everything so well. We all know that once he gets into a groove shooting, he can shoot the ball. We all know how he is attacking the basket.”

“Just going against the best, regardless if it’s LeBron,” Pierce said. “It’s just going against the best teams. I just look at it over the years, I get to play against the top teams, I always get to show my best on the big stage. Obviously, playing against the MVP brings out the best in the best players in the league.”

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LeBron’s elbow just funny business to C’s 04.29.10 at 10:38 pm ET
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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.”

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The Magic of LeBron at 9:21 pm ET
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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.”

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Rivers on D&C: ‘We’ll be ready’ for physical series with Cavs at 10:30 am ET
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Doc Rivers (AP)

Doc Rivers (AP)

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.

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Davis plans on attacking the Kingdom 04.28.10 at 12:31 am ET
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Glen Davis was speaking for the Celtics when he characterized the match-up with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers starting this Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland in the opener of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

“It’s going to be tougher, we know that,” Davis said. “We’ve got to go there and grind it out. We go to them first. We just have to make sure we go there with the mentality of attack first. It’s just like in every kingdom, sometimes you’ve got to go to the fight, you’ve got to bring it to them, attack their fortress and bust down their wall with a wooden tree and go attack it. That’s how it is.”

Davis and the Celtics will have Wednesday off before returning to practice Thursday afternoon. Game 1 is Saturday while Game 2 will be Monday in Cleveland before the series shifts back to Boston for Games 3 and 4.

While Dwyane Wade had another big game with 31 points in Game 5 Tuesday night, it was Davis who helped keep the rest of the Miami starters in single digits.

“Our defensive presence was just there,” Davis said. “Game 4 we kind of backed off of that a little bit and D-Wade had a big game, some of the other players on their team. One of the reasons we closed this out is because of defense and kind of [containing] people round D-Wade.”

Davis said the five-game series against Wade and the Heat might just be the perfect tune-up for James and the Cavs beginning Saturday on the shores of Lake Erie.

“It’s just great practice for us against Cleveland,” Davis said. “We had good practices. D-Wade is a great player. LeBron’s a great player and he has good players around him and he makes them better. We have to stop the ones around him.

“We could do better,” Davis added. “We’re a better team, we’ve been together for a long time and we still make some of the same mistakes. We can always be better.”

Starting Saturday, Davis and the Celtics have little choice if they plan on advancing.

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Doc on the Cavs: ‘I like the hatred’ 04.05.10 at 4:55 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Doc Rivers believes LeBron James has it right when it comes to attitudes of opposing players on the court.

No friends allowed.

Rivers reacted Monday and said he embraces the bitter feelings between the Celtics and Cavaliers. He just added that he doesn’t want to see it spill over to the officials.

“I like the hatred,” Rivers said. “I think that’s good. I do think the two teams don’t like each other, for whatever reason. I don’t ever think that’s a bad thing, personally. I think that’s a good thing. I just don’t want to see that officiated. I think going into games, people know that. Just line them up and let them play.”

When told that James endorses a more fierce mentality between teams, Rivers said that’s good for the league.

Rivers has maintained for years that the dynamic between NBA players has changed forever with the evolution of basketball camps such as Nike and AAU, where players get to know each other at a young age – usually in high school.

“I’m all for it,” Rivers said. “I love it. He’s the new leader. I think we should all listen to LeBron, if that’s what he’s saying. I really believe that. I said many times, the AAU thing has changed the game in that way. Everyone knows each other. I don’t understand how everybody is still friends. It drives me nuts. That’s just the way it is.

“I used to fight that my first couple of years here and in Orlando. Even in Orlando, I went so far as if you shake a guy’s hand before a game, I was going to fine you. Then I realized they know each other, they’re friends, so I gave in.”

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Pierce on C’s turmoil: We ‘talk things out’ 04.04.10 at 12:18 am ET
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WALTHAM — Paul Pierce made a admission on Saturday following practice.

The Celtics had some words amongst each other about what was happening on their home court in three straight losses – or more to the point, what wasn’t. And that turmoil was evident several times on Friday as Rajon Rondo had animated discussions with Shelden Williams and Pierce during the fourth quarter as the Celtics were trying to get their defensive house in order.

The team’s ability to defend the simple pick-and-roll was exposed as an apparent weakness on Friday as Aaron Brooks, Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola went to town late in the fourth quarter as the Rockets battled back to force overtime and then erased a five-point hole in OT to score the last 10 points of overtime in the 119-114 Rockets win.

“I think we’re breaking down in just one area,” Pierce said. “And it needs to get better. We have to be better on the pick and roll.”

In other words, when the opposing player passes the ball, a fundamental rule in basketball defense 101 is that the passer becomes the most dangerous potential scorer on the court.

“I think we trust each other,” Pierce said. “It’s just about going out there and doing it and trusting the coaching staff. The good thing about us after a game like [Friday] or the game before, we sit in the locker room and we talk about it. We were in the training room, talking about what we need to do better and what we need to do as a team. That’s a positive sign, how during a tough stretch like this, we stick together and talk things out.”

And that talk continued from Friday night post-game to Saturday pre-film study as Pierce said the team had an animated and frank discussion of the mistakes being made, with everyone in green taking some responsibility.

Now with LeBron James, Antawn Jamison and the NBA-leading Cavaliers coming to town Sunday, the Celtics are just hoping their film study and practice on Saturday is enough to pass the huge test.

He didn’t want to get into it after Friday’s loss, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers gave several examples on Saturday of the problems that led to his team’s meltdown.

There was the lack of respect given to 3-point sharpshooter Chase Budinger, after several reminders from the coaching staff to get in his face and stick with him on defense. They failed.

There was the shot taken by Nate Robinson at the end of the second quarter, leading to a three-point swing that gave Houston a four-point lead instead of one. And there was Pierce dribbling out the clock before halftime without getting off a shot.

All of that said, Saturday was a time to look forward to preparing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that beat them by 20 on the same court on Feb. 26. Looking back on Friday’s loss on film was not what Doc ordered on Saturday.

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