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Halftime wrap: Celtics-Cavs 02.25.10 at 9:20 pm ET
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At the half the Celtics lead 56-48. They shot 60 percent and held the Cavaliers to 43 percent shooting.

Rajon Rondo has 14 points and eight assists, while Ray Allen has 13 on 5-for-7 shooting and 3-for-3 from 3-point range. Kevin Garnett also had a big half with eight points and six rebounds. LeBron James leads all scorers with 21 points.

Doc Rivers played Rondo and Nate Robinson together in the backcourt for a significant stretch of the second quarter. The Cavalier guards presented an excellent opportunity for Rivers to try the alignment as Mo Williams and Delonte West don’t present matchup problems with their size. Robinson scored six quick points off jump shots on the pick and roll.

Shaquille O’Neal went to the locker room halfway through the second quarter. He will miss the rest of the game after suffering a thumb injury. Former Celtic Leon Powe made his season debut for the Cavaliers and received a standing ovation from the crowd. Powe had been rehabbing after knee surgery.

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Help defense on King James at 8:57 pm ET
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Doc Rivers hinted before Thursday’s game with Cleveland that he planned to employ several different defensive strategies on LeBron James, including using one of his best big defenders on the big guard.

With Paul Pierce out for the second straight game with a sprained thumb and Marquis Daniels weakened with flu-like symptoms, Rivers was forced to get creative to come up with ways to defend the 6-8 swingman.

Tony [Allen]is the other guy right now, and then Marcus [Landry] maybe, Scal maybe, maybe Kevin [Garnett],” Rivers said. “We’ll find that out. We don’t know what Marquis can give us so we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, LeBron James, NBA
First quarter wrap: Celtics-Cavs at 8:44 pm ET
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Welcome to the Rajon Rondo show where the Celtics guard dominated the first quarter and led them to a 31-21 lead.

Rondo had a hand in all of the Celtics first 21 points. He scored 10 of them himself and assisted on the other five field goals as the C’s made 10 of their first 13 shots before a Cleveland timeout. He finished the quarter with 12 points and six assists.

Paul Pierce did not play (thumb, flu) and Doc Rivers suggested before the game that he could miss more time. The Celtics play the lowly Nets on Saturday and then don’t play again until Tuesday so there’s good chance to get him some rest. Marquis Daniels did play despite suffering from the flu. Daniels started in Pierce’s place and drew the assignment of guarding LeBron James.

James kept the Cavaliers in the game with 10 points.

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Pierce out again, Daniels to start at 7:34 pm ET
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Paul Pierce will miss his second straight game with a sprained right thumb while Marquis Daniels will start after missing Wednesday’s practice with flu-like symptoms. Doc Rivers made the announcement in his pre-game chat with reporters.

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, Marquis Daniels, NBA
How C’s-Cavs are different now at 1:00 pm ET
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WALTHAM — It seems much longer than four months when last the Celtics played the Cavaliers on opening night in Cleveland.

And for both teams – who meet tonight at TD Garden at 8 p.m. – the perspective has changed.

The Celtics went into Quicken Loans Arena on Oct. 27 and came away with a 95-89 win and served notice that they were intent on reclaiming their perch atop the Eastern Conference with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen back in full stride.

That night Pierce led a balanced attack with 23 points, overcoming a game-high 38 from LeBron James. But C’s coach Doc Rivers said beyond the final score, there’s not much to take from the result that night.

“Nah, they’re not the same team,” Rivers said. “We’re not the same team. We won. We can take that away from it but other than that, I think both teams have forgotten about that.”

Indeed. Since then, the two teams have taken different paths. The Cavs, after losing their first two and starting the season 3-3, have rebounded to claim the top spot in the East and the NBA at 44-14, despite a recent three-game skid.

[Click here to listen to Rivers explain how Cavaliers are different than opening night.]

The Celtics, who stood 23-5 following a Christmas Day win over Orlando, have battled injuries and inconsistency and stand 36-19, just ahead of fourth-place Atlanta by a game in the loss column.

Both teams made moves at the trading deadline to strengthen themselves. While the Celtics added firepower with Nate Robinson, Cleveland acquired more front court athleticism in Antawn Jamisoin, dealing away Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The Cavs lost their first three games following the trade with Jamison in the starting lineup before he scored 18 in Tuesday’s win over New Orleans.

“They are different, watching them on tape the last two games,” Rivers said. “The Jamison thing has changed them a little bit. It definitely makes it more difficult to guard them so we have to get ready for that.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, LeBron James, Nate Robinson
Ainge on The Big Show: Nate played ‘nervous’ 02.24.10 at 8:49 pm ET
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Celtics president Danny Ainge was a guest on The Big Show Wednesday afternoon (Click here to listen to the interview) and he addressed the health of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Nate Robinson’s adjustment to the team and Ray Allen’s resurgence. Following is a transcript.

Are you expecting Paul Pierce to be out against Cleveland?

I’€™m not sure yet. It will be a game-time decision. You never know with Paul. We want to be cautious with that thumb because those things can get aggravated easily. I don’€™t think the injury is serious, but they can get aggravated over and over and over.

Do you have to hold him out for his own benefit?

Yeah, but again, we will just see how the treatment goes and how much stronger it is tomorrow. By game time we will make that decision.

If you were playing the Nets tomorrow as opposed to Cleveland, would you treat it differently?

I don’€™t think so. I think that Cleveland might be a temptation for Paul. We still have the big picture in mind and it makes more sense to rest all his minor ailments and get him healthy once and for all.

How did Nate Robinson look last night?

I thought Nate was playing a little bit nervous. I think the dynamic of coming into a good team is a tough one because you are trying to fit in. He hasn’€™t played basketball in 10 days. They had a shootaround, basically, was all they had to go through the offense and playing the Knicks. I think all those things going in, there was a lot of emotion going on. I could see he was trying to fit in. Doc was trying to tell him that we just want you to be aggressive and attack, because that’€™s when he is at his best. Being an aggressive offensive player looking to score, I think that’€™s when he plays his best basketball. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nate: Celtics ‘want you to be loud’ at 5:12 pm ET
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WALTHAM —  Communicating would seem to come very naturally for Nate Robinson. But what the three-time NBA dunk champ learned Wednesday on the first full day of Celtics practice for him and Marcus Landry was a bit of a surprise.

The Celtics coaches told him they want him to “talk” and “be loud” – specifically when he’s on the court.

“Talking on defense,” Robinson said. “They want you to be loud and talking. I’m a loud person but sometimes in basketball some of the guys that talk a lot are not the ones who talk on defense. But they bring out the best in me and I’m looking forward to this.”

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