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Celtics focus on starting small 05.07.10 at 7:11 pm ET
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The Celtics believe if they can end up with big results by starting small.

Their game plan is to focus on the little things that, when executed properly, can result in an advantage in the long run. They are also the things that could wind up hurting them if ignored.

‘€œI think it just boils down to small things,’€ Ray Allen said before Game 3. ‘€œJust building the small things in the game. Don’€™t worry about whether the ball goes in, but more importantly moving the ball, keeping turnovers to a minimum, and then getting back on defense.’€

The Celtics have paid attention to those details so far. They are outrebounding the Cavs, 226-197, picked off 10 more steals, and committed two less turnovers in the first two games of the series.

‘€œAll those that things, they ultimately add up to getting buckets,’€ said Allen. ‘€œBut those habits, if we keep those habits, you start small and as the game goes, the game is being played the right way on both ends.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Ray Allen,
Sheed takes heed from Garnett 05.04.10 at 11:46 pm ET
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After the Celtics Game 1 loss to the Cavaliers, Doc Rivers said Rasheed Wallace had to play better.

Turns out, Rivers wasn’€™t the only one who wanted to see Wallace step up. Kevin Garnett also believed Wallace was critical to the Celtics postseason success, and he made it a point to tell him that.

‘€œAfter the first game, I went to him in the shower and I said, ‘€˜In order for us to beat this team, man, it’€™s going to take not just the starting five. It’€™s going to take Rasheed, it’€™s going to take Tony Allen, it’€™s going to take Marquis (Daniels), Big Baby (Glen Davis), Shelden Williams, everybody, Nate Robinson. It’€™s going to take everybody who’€™s on that bench,’€ Garnett told WEEI’s Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell following the C’€™s Game 2 victory on Monday (listen to the audio here).

Garnett has known his teammate long enough to understand his receptiveness ‘€” or lack thereof ‘€” to feedback. But fortunately for Garnett, who was in the 1995 NBA draft class with Wallace, he is on that short list.

‘€œI went to him personally, you know, he don’€™t really listen to a lot of people,’€ Garnett explained. “Sheed sort of goes by his own tune and he only respects a few, and I’€™m one of the very few that he listens to and that he respects. And I went to him and I said, ‘€˜If you give us 10 and 10, we’€™re going to not only beat these Cavs, but we’€™re going to blow them out.’€™ I said, ‘€˜I need 10 and 10 every night with you, at least in this series right here.’€™”

Wallace shot just 1-for-5 and recorded more fouls than points in Game 1. But Garnett knew what Wallace was capable of, in spite of a disappointing regular season in which he averaged nine points, four rebounds, shot 28 percent from 3-point range, and was assessed numerous technical fouls and fines. He wanted Wallace to put that behind him, focus on the postseason series at hand, and provide the Celtics with a solid contribution off the bench.

‘€œI said, ‘€˜I don’€™t care what you’€™ve been going through. To hell with what the year is. So what? You can make it all up right here,’€™’€ Garnett recounted. ‘€œAnd I got into him a little bit. I rubbed him the wrong way a little bit. And then later on we talked. He said, ‘€˜You’€™re right.’€™’€

Whatever the driving force may have been, Wallace stepped onto the court in Game 2 and gave one of his best performances in a Celtics uniform. He scored an efficient 17 points (7-for-8 on field goals and 3-for-4 on threes) in 18 minutes. Even though Wallace didn’€™t do anything fancy, it was just what the Celtics needed.

‘€œIt was just good to see results,’€ said Garnett. ‘€œHe’€™s a gutty veteran, he knows how to play, and it was just big. He was big for us.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace
Fast Break: Celtics – Cavs 05.03.10 at 11:02 pm ET
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The Celtics bounced back from their Game 1 loss with a 104-86 victory over the Cavs in Game 2 in Cleveland. They will head back to Boston on Friday for Game 3 with the series split, 1-1.

LeBron James gave credit to his teammates when he was awarded the MVP trophy before the game, but it was the Celtics that won with a total team effort. All of the starters scored in double-digits, Rajon Rondo dished 19 assists, and Rasheed Wallace provided a critical spark off the bench with 17 points in just 18 minutes.

On the defensive end, the Celtics held James to 24 points (13 through three quarters). The C’s also outrebounded the Cavs, 43-29.

First Quarter: Celtics 26 – Cavaliers 22

First quarter leading scorers
Celtics: Rajon Rondo – 6 points (2-2 FG, 1-1 3PG)
Cavs: Antawn Jamison – 6 points (3-5 FG), Anthony Parker – 6 points (2-4 FG, 2-2 3PG)

First quarter key stats
Field goal percentage: Celtics 66.7% – Cavaliers 37.5%
Turnovers: Celtics 7 – Cavaliers 3

Doc River said Rasheed Wallace had to play better. It took just a few seconds to show he had listened. Wallace replaced Kendrick Perkins in the first quarter and hit his first basket (a jumper) less than a minute later. He posted 5 points and 1 rebound in two minutes. The Celtics were successful in containing LeBron James (3 points, 1-4 FG), but the team committed seven turnovers in the quarter, giving up some of their defensive edge. Paul Pierce picked up two fouls in 10 seconds – one trying to stop James at the basket, the other an offensive call against Anthony Parker. Rajon Rondo quieted the Cavs crowd with a 3-pointer as time ran down to push the C’€™s lead up to four.

Second Quarter: Celtics 52 – Cavaliers 48

First half leading scorers
Celtics: Rasheed Wallace – 13 points (5-5 FG, 3-3 3PG)
Cavs: Antawn Jamison – 11 points (4-6 FG, 1-2 3PG, 2-4 FT)

First half key stats
Turnovers: Celtics 10 – Cavaliers 7
Fouls: Celtics 16 – Cavaliers 4

Wallace carried his momentum into the second quarter, scoring five minutes in the first four minutes. Even though the C’€™s opened the quarter on a 9-0 run to push their lead up to 35-22, the Cavs responded with a 10-3 stretch of their own to gain momentum. In spite of only eight points from James, the combination of Celtics turnovers and fouls allowed the Cavs to make their way back into the game. The Celtics committed 16 first half fouls, as well as 10 turnovers. Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Tony Allen had three fouls at halftime.

Third Quarter: Celtics 83 – Cavaliers 60

Leading scorers through three quarters
Celtics: Ray Allen – 20 points (7-11 FG, 3-5 3PG, 3-4 FT)
Cavs: Antawn Jamison – 13 points (5-8 FG), 1-2 3PG, 2-4 FT)

Key stats through three quarters
Turnovers: Celtics 14 – Cavaliers 12
Fouls: Celtics 20 – Cavaliers 10

After the Celtics got outscored, 36-24, in the third quarter of Game 1, they responded in Game 2 with a third quarter push of their own. The C’€™s outscored the Cavs 31-12, to take a 23-point lead. Records were reached and tempers flared during the stretch. Rondo tied Bob Cousy‘€™s franchise mark with 19 assists in a postseason game. Kendrick Perkins and Anderson Varejao were issued double technicals when things got heated following the whistle. Minutes later, Varejao was called for a technical as Ray Allen drove to the basket. The Celtics committed just four fouls in the quarter, compared to 16 in the first half.

Final Score: Celtics 104 – Cavs 86

Leading scorers
Celtics: Ray Allen – 22 points (8-15 FG, 3-7 3PG, 3-4 FT)
Cavs: LeBron James – 24 points (7-15 FG, 0-4 3PG, 10-15 FT)

Key stats
Assists: Celtics 30 – Cavs 17 (Rondo, 19)
Fouls: Celtics 31 – Cavs 16

The Cavs diminished a 25-point lead with a 15-0 run late in the fourth quarter and got within nine points. The C’s went scoreless for over five minutes before Pierce snapped the skid. Doc Rivers called a timeout to group his team, which responded with an 11-5 run to end the game. Even though the Celtics were outscored, 26-21, in the final 12 minutes, they held on for an 18-point win. Ray Allen led the Celtics with 22 points, and it was Wallace who provided a huge spark with 17 points off the bench.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers,
Third Quarter Wrap: Celtics – Cavs at 10:12 pm ET
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End of third quarter: Celtics 83 – Cavaliers 60

Leading scorers through three quarters
Celtics: Ray Allen – 20 points (7-11 FG, 3-5 3PG, 3-4 FT)
Cavs: Antawn Jamison – 13 points (5-8 FG), 1-2 3PG, 2-4 FT)

Key stats through three quarters
Turnovers: Celtics 14 – Cavaliers 12
Fouls: Celtics 20 – Cavaliers 10

After the Celtics got outscored, 36-24, in the third quarter of Game 1, they responded in Game 2 with a third quarter push of their own. The C’s outscored the Cavs 31-12, to take a 23-point lead. Records were reached and tempers flared during the stretch. Rajon Rondo tied Bob Cousy’s franchise mark with 19 assists in a postseason game. Kendrick Perkins and Anderson Varejao were issued double technicals when things got heated following the whistle. Minutes later, Varejao was called for a technical as Ray Allen drove to the basket. The Celtics committed just four fouls in the quarter, compared to 16 in the first half.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers,
First Quarter Wrap: Celtics – Cavs at 8:45 pm ET
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First quarter: Celtics 26 – Cavaliers 22

Leading scorers
Celtics: Rajon Rondo – 6 points (2-2 FG, 1-1 3PG)
Cavs: Antawn Jamison – 6 points (3-5 FG), Anthony Parker – 6 points (2-4 FG, 2-2 3PG)

Key stats
Field goal percentage: Celtics 66.7% – Cavaliers 37.5%
Turnovers: Celtics 7 – Cavaliers 3
Fouls: Celtics 6 – Cavaliers 4

Doc River said Rasheed Wallace had to play better. So far, he’s listened. Wallace replaced Kendrick Perkins in the first quarter and hit his first basket (a jumper) less than a minute later. He posted 5 points and 1 rebound in two minutes.

The Celtics were successful in containing LeBron James (3 points, 1-4 FG), but the team committed seven turnovers in the quarter, giving up some of their defensive edge.

Paul Pierce picked up two fouls in 10 seconds – one trying to stop James at the basket, the other an offensive call against Anthony Parker.

Rajon Rondo quieted the Cavs crowd with a 3-pointer as time ran down to push the C’s lead up to four.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers,
Allen prepared for Cavs defense 05.01.10 at 12:30 am ET
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The Celtics are zoned in on containing LeBron James, but two years ago the Cavaliers were on the same mission against Ray Allen.

Allen enters the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals averaging nearly 20 points in the first round. His next opponent, however, is the same team that shut him down offensively in the past.

The Cavaliers held Allen to just 9.3 points per game in the second round of the 2008 playoffs. He only hit four 3-pointers in the seven-game series and shot less than 35 percent from the field. It was a dramatic drop in offensive production.

‘€œI was put on defense more, but the way they were guarding me in Cleveland, they jumped me every pick-and-roll,’€ Allen explained. ‘€œThe way we played, they weren’€™t letting me come off pin downs. I think in the regular season I was averaging 22 or 23 against them, so their mindset was, ‘€˜We’€™re not going to let him get involved. We’€™re going to take everything away from him.’€™ They did a good job of that.’€

Allen was the Celtics leading scorer against the Cavs this regular season, averaging 22.5 points (48.3% FG, 57.7% 3PG) in four games. He expects the Cavaliers to step up their defense in the playoffs and can anticipate how to counter their attack.

‘€œI just know during the playoffs, they contribute two guys to me, always, just when I’€™m coming off pin downs,’€ Allen said. ‘€œI have to make the right play, (Rajon) Rondo has to be in the right position, our bigs have to be in the right position, and we have to capitalize off of that. The only way we can force them away from that kind of defense is if we penalize them for doing that.’€

The Celtics often practice beating a double-team during shootaround, Allen explained. They run through various scenarios that leave different players open.

Allen also prepares himself for double team by watching game tape. This allows him to see where his teammates are on the court from a different point of view. In most instances, it is either Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, or Rondo’€™s defender who is helping on D, creating opportunities for them to get open.

‘€œI’€™ve just got to know where Kevin is, where Perk is, where Rondo’€™s going to be,’€ he said. ‘€œRondo’€™s man always help, Perk’€™s man always helps, Kevin’€™s always flashing if he’€™s not setting a screen. When I come off a pin down, it happens so fast. So right before I come off a screen, I almost have to look and see what exactly they’€™re doing, and then I know I can throw it back and go, or Perk is rolling and he’€™s got a layup, Kevin has a jumpshot. So it’€™s just like a split-second decision.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James, Ray Allen
James took lessons learned from battles with Pierce 04.04.10 at 11:58 pm ET
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The matchup between Paul Pierce and LeBron James is one of the most competitive battles in the NBA. But before James was dominating the scoreboard, he was trying to learn from his veteran counterpart.

“When I first came into the league, he was a seasoned vet and I was a rookie just trying to learn the curve and things like that,” James said prior to the Celtics 117-113 win over the Cavaliers. “Over the years, he’€™s still been an All-Star, he’€™s still been competitive. I’€™m just trying to develop my game to be one of the best three’€™s (small forwards) in the league, to be on Paul Pierce’€™s level and all these other guys’€˜ level.”

On Sunday, James outscored Pierce, 42-16 (20 of his points came in the fourth quarter alone). It’s a far cry from their first regular-season matchup seven years ago. On Nov. 13, 2003, James ‘€” as a rookie ‘€” scored 10 points in a 91-82 loss to the Celtics. In that one, Pierce, who was entering his sixth season, led the C’s with 19 points.

‘€œYou learn, the game itself teaches you game after game after game,” James said. ‘€œBut you learn when you go against the best, you see why they are considered the best at that time or still now because of the work they put into it. They never took a night off.’€

James is averaging 29.9 points this season (30.6 in his last five contests) and has scored more than 20 points in all but one game since the All-Star Break. He wrapped up his regular season matchup with the Celtics averaging 36.5 points in four games.

‘€œI’€™ve been able to be recognized as one of the best three’€™s that we have in this league,” James added, “So it’€™s always fun to go against the best guys in the league, and Paul continues to be that since I was a rookie.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James, Paul Pierce
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