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Pierce, Daniels miss practice 02.24.10 at 4:04 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics will likely be without Paul Pierce when they take on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden on Thursday night, according to Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Pierce was kept out of practice on Wednesday to protect his injured right thumb while Marquis Daniels was sent home with flu-like symptoms.

“I’m not going to say definitely but most likely not [Thursday],” Rivers said. “We’ll just evaluate it day-to-day. I didn’t want him to take a chance of getting his thumb hit at all in practice so that if he did feel good [Thursday] but if not, we’ll just wait. We’re just going to go a game at a time with him.”

Asked if he were concerned that Pierce’s thumb was anything more than a sprain, Rivers said likely not. “I would know if it’s something else and it’s not,” he said.

Also missing practice on Wednesday was Daniels. “We sent Marquis home. He looked awful so we’ll see [Thursday] and if not I have no idea right now so we’ll figure it out,” Rivers said.

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Here come the Cavs 12.30.09 at 1:50 pm ET
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A small detail from Tuesday night’s NBA games. The Cleveland Cavaliers slipped past the Celtics by a half game for the best record in the Eastern Conference. At 23-7 the Celts are still up a game in the loss column (Cleveland’s 25-8) and hold a few percentage points if you want to get technical about it.

This isn’t about that. This is about how the Cavs are hitting their stride. Earlier in the season, when Cleveland was losing three of its first six, there were questions about how well Shaquille O’Neal was really going to fit alongside LeBron James, and if Delonte West could get his life back together, let alone his game.

Safe to say they’ve figured it out. The Cavs have won 10 of their last 11 with a road loss to the Mavs serving as the spoiler and it’s not just that they’ve been winning. They’ve been destroying teams. Read the rest of this entry »

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Doc on Shaq: ‘I was obviously wrong’ 11.06.09 at 8:05 pm ET
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One of the great traits of Celtics coach Doc Rivers is his brutal honesty.

He, like many others around the NBA, thought the Phoenix Suns hit a home run two seasons ago when they traded for Shaquille O’Neal, putting him alongside Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Nash. Rivers just assumed the Suns would take off, challenge the Lakers and Nuggets for Western Conference supremacy.

Not so much. After a half-season in 2007-08, when they were eliminated in the first round, the Suns fell to 46-36 last season, not even good enough to qualify for the Western playoffs.

“I was obviously wrong,” Rivers said. “I didn’t that was a bad match with Shaq and Stoudamire.”

But the Suns could never optimize O’Neal’s presence with Nash and Stoudamire and the Suns let O’Neal go to Cleveland this past off season. The more nimble, athletic 6-11 Channing Frye has taken O’Neal’s spot and is averaging 14.6 points in Phoenix’s 4-1 start to this season.

“I thought you had one post guy and Stoudamire is more off the post than on the post so I thought it was a good combination but it just didn’t work out for whatever reason,” Rivers added. “It’s good to see Channing Frye play well. I’ve always been pretty high on him as a player. I think he’s another great example, a litle like Shelden [Williams], guys who take a little time to find their way and I guess he’s found his way.”

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Fast break: A quick take on Celtics-Cavs 10.27.09 at 10:20 pm ET
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CLEVELAND  –  More than anything Tuesday night, the Celtics showed they can take the best an opponent has to offer and respond strong.

Not just any opponent on any court. The Celtics beat the Cavaliers, 95-89, on the home floor of one of the teams that’s expected to challenge Boston for Eastern Conference supremacy.

• Player of the game: Paul Pierce. His jumper in the final minute cemented a 23-point virtuoso performance for the captain and Boston’s first win of the season. He added 11 rebounds for good measure. Runner up: Rajon Rondo — On a night when Danny Ainge said he continues to talk with Rondo’s agent on a new deal, Rondo set the tempo. With chaos swirling around the team in the wake of the Glen Davis debacle and a double-digit deficit early, Rondo restored order on the court.

• Turning point of the game: LeBron James gave the Celtics a gift when a Boston turnover with 4.7 seconds left in the third put the ball in his hands. He drove past Rasheed Wallace and had an easy lay-up, but the ball rimmed out and that seemed to give the Celtics a big reprieve. It also kept the crowd from exploding. Runner-up — With 5:32 to go in the fourth. James hit one of two free throws to cut the C’s lead to four, 80-76, but Kendrick Perkins converts a three-point play to answer.

• The Celtics fell behind early by 14 twice, 19-5 and 21-7, but they closed the gap to 28-21 after one. Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels and Shelden Williams, filling in for Glen Davis, all played significant minutes in the first quarter as the Celtics found their legs.

• The Celtics turned up the defensive pressure in the second quarter. The team preached in the preseason that they will go only as far as their defense takes them, and it showed in the second, where they went from a seven-point deficit to a six-point lead, 51-45. They held the Cavs to 5-of-16 shooting from the floor. More impressive than the 31 percent they held the Cavs to from the field was the fact that Cleveland could only manage five field goals on their home court.

• Thanks in large part to the above, the C’s completely took the raucous Q crowd out of the game until a LeBron James three with two minutes remaining in the third.

Bench belief. With the Celtics holding onto a seven-point lead heading into the fourth, the Celtics took the court with Wallace, Daniels, Eddie House and Shelden Williams. Those four joined Ray Allen as Doc Rivers was able to rest his big guns. Wallace hit a big jumper from the right wing to extend the lead to nine with 11:25 remaining. Daniels drilled a three moments later and the lead was an even 10.

The Celtics took advantage of Cavalier play. Twice in the final two minutes, the Cavaliers turned the ball over and twice they forced up quick three-pointers trailing by just six when a two-pointer would have been the better play. Isn’t this why they got Shaq?

James got his. LeBron finished with 38 points and eight assists but just four rebounds.

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Turn up the volume: C’s not living in past 10.23.09 at 5:25 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  Before this season ever starts, nearly everyone in a Celtics uniform wants to make one thing clear. This is NOT 2008.

On Friday, the Celtics held a two-hour practice before going home to get clean and ready for their team dinner Friday night in Boston.

Here’s what a number of them had to say about this year, comparisons to two seasons ago and other miscellaneous items.

Paul Pierce said the team is plenty motivated this season.

Pierce said he hasn’t heard any ‘experts’ picking the Celtics.

Doc Rivers said there’s only one set of expectations that matter.

Rivers said he likes where the team is at.

Kevin Garnett said he likes what he saw in the preseason.

Garnett said Tuesday in Cleveland against LeBron and Shaq will be exciting.

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Doc: ‘We’re ready’ at 3:26 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  Celtics coach Doc Rivers put his team through a spirited workout on Friday afternoon at the team’s practice facility, four days before the team opens the season on Tuesday in Cleveland against LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

Rivers said following the practice that he senses his team is geared up and ready.

“I like where we’re at,” Rivers said. “I’m very happy where we’re at. We’re going to add things all year. We’re ready to play. Even if I didn’t add anything else all year, I think we’re ready to play an NBA game.”

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Sounds of the game… Celtics 105, Cavaliers 94 03.07.09 at 12:30 am ET
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Before Friday’s game, Celtics assistant coach Armond Hill showed an inspirational video to the team, aimed specifically at young big men Leon Powe and Glen Davis.

No, it wasn’t Rocky or even Hoosiers. It was a film of the Celtics scoring basket after basket with their big men executing great interior passes. The result – the undermanned Celtics outscored the Cleveland Cavaliers 58-22 in the paint and rolled to a stunning 11-point win, 105-94, over the Eastern Conference leaders.

The Celtics didn’t have Kevin Garnett but they did have Leon Powe. The Celtics didn’t have Brian Scalabrine but they did have Glen Davis, at least for 17 minutes before he was ejected for a flagrant Type 2 foul with 9:09 remaining in the third quarter.

But Doc Rivers, who said at the shootaround in the morning that this would be a phenomenal win, had one of his best games of the season as head coach of the defending NBA champions. Just ask Mike Brown, his counterpart on the Cleveland bench.

Brown said the Celtics deserved all the credit for pulling together and pulling off the upset, even if it was on their home parquet.

For his part, Doc Rivers gave credit to Armond Hill for showing the video and his players for taking the lead.

Paul Pierce said Powe (20 points, 11 rebounds) and Davis (10 points) showed the depth the Celtics have.

Pierce said Davis’ ejection in the third quarter fired up the Green.

Leon Powe said he knew he was going to have to pick it up when Big Baby was thrown out.

Glen Davis said his foul of Anderson Varejao was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

LeBron James said, with or without Garnett, the Celtics are a great team.

King James said it’s hard to believe home team has won 15 straight in the series.

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