|Thanks to T.A., C’s where they want to be||05.14.10 at 1:06 pm ET|
One man’s misfortune often is another’s opportunity. Such was the case for Tony Allen in the recent series against the NBA’s MVP and the team with the best record in the NBA this regular season.
With Paul Pierce once again saddled with two fouls early in Game 6, it was up to Allen to step up and help on LeBron James.
And help he did, as he held James to single figures in the first quarter and applied pressure throughout the second half in key spurts. The superstar wound up with a triple-double but he hardly was able to dictate the pace and tempo of the game with his trademark rocket cross-court passes as the Celtics prevailed, 94-85, to advance to Sunday’s opener of the Eastern Conference finals in Orlando.
“That’s my role on this team,” Allen said. “I’ve got to be aggressive, just as aggressive as he is. For the most part I took that challenge. He still had a great night offensively all around. My whole thing is just to contain him, and listen to my bigs in transition.”
Whether it’s Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins or Rasheed Wallace shouting out, Allen proved he can be all ears and arms on the court.
As the Cavaliers were in the midst of a big run, cutting the lead to four on back-to-back 3′s by James, Allen recalled a key turning point.
“I remember while being in the game, I just missed getting to [LeBron] and then got encouraged from my bigs – I didn’t hear them and they cut into the lead. For the most part we stuck together, we grinded it out. We were able to get back to the lead up.”
From that point on, the Celtics re-established their double-digit lead.
Paul Pierce had a couple of huge baskets including a 3-pointer and felt like he had more energy toward the end of the game, thanks in part to T.A.
“It wasn’t really that grueling for me because I was in foul trouble, Pierce said. “I think it was more grueling for Ray and Tony because he’s a special talent, obviously he’s the best player in the NBA, tough to guard one-on-one, but you have to give a lot of credit to the other guys. He did his job, got me in foul trouble, but I’m a lot fresher in this series because of the foul trouble than I was when I played against him two years ago when he just completely wore me down.
“But those other guys, they played their hearts out on defense, it wasn’t just me, it was Ray [Allen], Tony, Kevin, Rasheed, Baby [Glen Davis], it was a number of guys. There is no person that can guard the guy so lets just leave it at that, it was nothing that one person did, it was a collective group, it was a team defense that was surrounded around stopping him.”
Ultimately, the Cavs learned that a team of reserves like Tony Allen can help shut down a team led by the two-time reigning MVP.
“Most definitely, at the end of the day everybody has their role,” Allen said. “Like Doc said before the game, ‘Do your role, do your role 100 percent.’ Everybody took that challenge, and we were fortunate enough to get that win.
“It was big, but I think guys came in focused. They meant what they said, they didn’t want to go back to Cleveland. At the end of the day we prepared for this, and we were where we wanted to be.”
|Time is now for Celtics||04.29.10 at 5:37 pm ET|
WALTHAM — You can tell just by the media crush at the Celtics training facility 12 miles west of Boston on Route 128 that there is a big series about to begin involving the Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The quotes from the participants provide another good clue.
The two teams, as any basketball fan will recall, met in an epic seven-game series in the 2008 playoffs. The series wasn’t decided until the final 30 seconds of Game 7 at the Garden when Paul Pierce and the Celtics outlasted LeBron James and the Cavs.
Before that series, fans and experts hoped for a great series. This time, it’s almost expected. But that’s about where the comparisons end as far as the Celtics are concerned.
“Two years ago was two years ago,” Pierce said. “They have new players, we have new players. This is a whole new team. This is a different type of team. They’ve got a lot of the same players, we have a lot of the same players but it’s just like you grow up. Things change, you become better. You can’t go off what you did in the past. There’s nothing to that last series.”
Kevin Garnett agreed.
“They have better players,” Garnett said. “They have Shaq, they have guys that have been there. They have experienced players who were there two years ago. Delonte [West] is better. [Antawn] Jamison is there, has been through the grind. They have better players, more experienced people.”
When the Celtics open their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Cavaliers on Saturday night in Cleveland, it will be the first time in the era of the new ‘Big 3′ they’re opening a playoff series on the road. It will also mark the second time in three seasons the two teams are meeting in the second round.
But whether opening at home or on the road – as will be the case this year – Ray Allen doesn’t believe Boston’s series triumph in 2008 will have much of an impact this time around.
“I don’t really think it makes a difference,” Allen said following Thursday’s practice. “That was yesterday. Now we’re trying to do this all over again. I’m sure that they remember. Playoffs in their building is tough and we remember Game 7 [in Boston] very vividly but it’s a new series. Even if we did play them last year, it wouldn’t have made a difference then, either. They’re geared up against trying to get past us going to the conference finals. The ground has to give one way or another and we look forward to taking more ground.”
The Celtics were also asked to make another comparison – Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Cleveland’s James – and how beating the former might help them with the latter this series.
“They’re not close at all, truthfully,” Pierce said. “They have better supporting players. LeBron is playing two or three other guys who have been in the All-Star Game. I can’t say that about Wade. The only similarity is they have one of the top scorers in the league. That’s it. You’re talking about two different players. They’re definitely focal points but other guys, you definitely have to worry about them. There are most consistent players in Cleveland and those guys can beat you also.”
“LeBron’s a different beast,” added Garnett. “He’s obviously with a better cast than D-Wade. I think D-Wade is one of the best one-on-one players in our game. That’s true with LeBron but I think LeBron defers more to his teammates a little bit, with his supporting cast than D-Wade. He can turn around and he has 35, eight boards and nine assists. That means he’s all-around, not even mentioning the steals and blocks. He affects the game in so many different dimensions.”
|Doc: ‘It’s a big game for them, too’||03.14.10 at 10:50 am ET|
Doc Rivers wants everyone to take a deep breath before Sunday’s latest and greatest ‘Most Important Game of the Year’ against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I think we’ll come in and play terrific,” Rivers said. “But we just have to play hard. There’s no guarantees. But listen, it’s a big game for them, too. It ain’t just one way. I always laugh when I hear guys say it’s a must win. But what if it’s a must-win for both teams? Someone’s not going to win.”
The Celtics (41-23) are coming off a 19-point win over Indiana on Friday night at home and trail third-place Atlanta by a half-game in the East. Meanwhile the Cavs come in with a 51-15 record, and lead the Lakers by three games for the best mark in the NBA.
LeBron James is playing his second game back from a sprained right ankle.
“It would be great, though,” Rivers said of a win in Cleveland. “I think our team is looking forward to it,” Rivers said. “And I guarantee you they’re looking forward to it. There’s no coincidence that LeBron James rested two games and came back. That’s not a coincidence but that’s fine.”
The Cavs will be without Shaquille O’Neal, likely out for the rest of the regular season following surgery on his right thumb, injured the last time the two teams met when Glen Davis went up to block an O’Neal shot. On Sunday, Davis denied hurting O’Neal intentionally during their Feb. 25 meeting.
“They’re playing the same guys, really. They haven’t changed their offense or anything. They’re quicker, faster, more athletic.”
The Celtics are visiting Cleveland for the first time since Oct. 27, when they claimed a 96-89 win over the Cavs on opening night.
|Leon will cheer on Cavs for now||10.27.09 at 2:11 pm ET|
CLEVELAND – It’s not hard to keep thinking what might have been if Leon Powe hadn’t torn the ACL in his left knee in that first round series against the Bulls in April.
Maybe it’s Powe who would have stayed and Glen Davis might have moved on – to someplace like Cleveland.
Instead, Powe had reconstructive surgery and signed on as a free agent in August with the Cavaliers. He is already working out lightly with his new team, including shootaround on Tuesday morning at Quicken Loans Arena, where the Cavs take on his old teammates, the Celtics.
“Almost identical,” Powe said of the two teams. “For the offense, they just call it something different and sometimes it’s the same thing, same motion. I should have no problem figuring that because that’s the same thing as Boston ran, defense, too.”
Powe said last week he is targeting a return just after the All-Star break in February, something he reiterated on Tuesday morning.
“I’m not in a rush to get back,” he said. “I wanted to get back tonight, actually. I told coach, give me 10 minutes and I’ll give you 10 [points] and eight [rebounds]. But he wasn’t going for it tonight so I’ve got to wait till February. There is no rush because this team is already good. I just want to come over here and flow right into things. Pick up energy, anything I can do to help them win.”
|Shaq: Celtics are a ‘damn good’ team||at 2:01 pm ET|
CLEVELAND – Shaquille O’Neal acknowledged on Tuesday morning that the Cavaliers will have their hands full with the Celtics, not just tonight but all season.
“A lot of teams made a lot of moves,” O’Neal said. “They’re the former champs and really didn’t have a chance to defend their crown because Mr. Garnett was hurt during the postseason. We know they’re going to be ready. We know a lot of other teams will be ready. It’s not going to be easy for us but we accept all challenges.”
O’Neal may have been quite formal but all pleasantries will likely end tonight as Garnett and the Celtics feel they have something to prove to the Cavaliers and the rest of the Eastern Conference.
O’Neal is just looking to fit in and begin meshing with another star by the name of LeBron.
“Very excited but you learn not to get too excited,” O’Neal said. “It’s a long season. I’ve been around every situation imaginable. We know what we have to do. We know we’re going up against a damn good opponent. We just have to try to keep our poise and play hard and hopefully, we can get started on the right foot.”
O’Neal has been a lightning rod in his most recent stops around the league, stops included Miami and most-recently Phoenix.
“Difference here is I’ve been inserted into a really good team,” O’Neal said. “So, my role is going to be a little different and I accept that. I’m not really coming here to stir things up, just come in here and be the piece they were missing. The whole world realizes they were just one piece away and hopefully, I’m that piece.”
|Shaq on Baby: ‘He’ll be back more focused’||at 1:28 pm ET|
CLEVELAND – Cavaliers superstar center Shaquille O’Neal was asked about his friend Glen Davis, who did not make the trip to Cleveland for the season opener Tuesday night because of a reported broken bone in his right hand following a fight with a former LSU teammate on Sunday night.
“Well they call him Big Baby for a reason, he’s my son,” joked O’Neal, who like Davis starred in basketball at Louisiana State. “A lot of people don’t know that. He’s a great player. I’ve known him since he was a youngster.
“He works hard, has been working hard on his game. It’s an unfortunate incident but one thing about him is he’s a focused individual so he realizes he may have made a mistake so he’ll come back more focused than ever.”
The Cavaliers held a brief shootaround at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday morning.
|West ‘doubtful’ for tonight vs. Celtics||at 12:58 pm ET|
CLEVELAND – Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said Tuesday that troubled shooting guard Delonte West is ‘doubtful’ for tonight’s season opener against the Celtics after he got into an alleged domestic dispute with his newlywed wife over the weekend in Cleveland.
A Cleveland TV station first reported that the former Celtic and his wife got into an argument at their apartment prior to a domestic violence report being filed at Cleveland’s Hopkins Airport.
This latest troubling news comes just a month after he was arrested for carrying three loaded guns on his motorcycle.
“Right now, we have a support system for him off the floor,” said Brown, who is conferring with general manager Danny Ferry. “I’m just waiting for them to give the okay. When Danny [Ferry] tells me he can play, he’ll play.”
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