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For Celtics, there was much ado about Hedo 05.24.10 at 12:27 am ET
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Hedo Turkoglu gave the Celtics trouble in last year's playoffs before leaving Orlando as a free agent. (AP)

WALTHAM — The sudden disappearance of Rashard Lewis is not the only thing missing from the Magic team that defeated the Celtics in last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals.

This time around they are playing without Hedo Turkoglu, who left Orlando last summer and signed a multi-year deal with the Raptors. Even though the Magic acquired Vince Carter in his place — a role Carter’s teammates say he has filled well — the Celtics have noticed a difference in matchups without Turkoglu on the court.

It is one they have benefited from in the conference finals.

“Definitely with Turkoglu, he adds a size matchup being at 6-10 he can play the 2, the 3, the 1. Obviously, a walking matchup problem,” Paul Pierce said following practice on Sunday. “I just think the things that he does playing with the ball and off the ball in the post, he’s one of the more versatile small forwards in the NBA and one of the toughest that I’ve seen to guard. Them not having him, I think it really works in our favor.”

Last season Turkoglu averaged over 16 points in the seven-game semifinals series. Not only did he score, he made it easier for his teammates to do so by spreading the floor. (In the deciding Game 7, Turkoglu scored 25 points while dishing 12 assists.)

Take Lewis as an example. This postseason series he is averaging just five points while shooting 25 percent from the field and going 1-for-13 from 3-point range. Even though he got more open looks last season because of Kevin Garnett’s absence, the Celtics guarded him differently when Turkoglu was on the floor.

“Turkoglu, one of the things I think he does so well is he’s a facilitator,” said Doc Rivers. “He’s a big shot maker, but he is such a great passer with length. It’s tough to get deflections off Turkoglu, where all their other guys, you can get your hands up and you can get deflections. Turkoglu and LeBron [James] probably make the best cross-court passes in the league. So that’s been a little bit different for us. And Rashard is now at the 4, where really we played Turkoglu more at that position even though he was at the 3.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando Magic, Paul Pierce
Celtics draft pick Erden helps Turkey in EuroBasket 09.12.09 at 9:36 pm ET
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Erden (right) and Turkoglu (left) double-team Gasol (center) in EuroBasket action

Erden (right) and Turkoglu (left) double-team Gasol (center) in EuroBasket action

The Boston Celtics 2008 second round draft pick Semih Erden has yet to play in an NBA game, but he has already defeated one of the Los Angeles Lakers. On Saturday he helped Turkey defeat Pau Gasol and the Spanish team in the EuroBasket 2009 Group F qualifying round.

The 6-11 center led the team with six rebounds and scored 11 points, including two free throws that secured Turkey’s 63-60 victory over Spain. He also contributed two rebounds, an alley-oop from Hedo Turkoglu, a block, and a steal in the final five minutes of the back-and-forth match up. Turkey remains undefeated (3-0) and plays Serbia on Monday.

Erden was selected by the Celtics with the 60th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. He averaged 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds with Fenerbahce Ulker last season.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Hedo Turkoglu, Los Angeles Lakers, Pau Gasol
Kevin Garnett’s Effect 04.13.09 at 10:45 am ET
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Over on Basketball Prospectus, Bradford Doolittle has an interesting number to quantify what Kevin Garnett’s absence has made on the Celtics. Doolittle writes:

“When Garnett was injured, Boston was 44-11 and had an efficiency margin of +10.4 points per 100 possessions. Since then, Boston has gone 15-8 with a margin of +5.8. The offense has barely dropped (113.2 offensive efficiency down to 112.9) but the defensive efficiency has risen by 4.3 points. That’s the effect of Kevin Garnett. With a full-strength Garnett, the Celtics are right there with the Cavs, Magic and Lakers. Without him, they’re at the approximate level of the Blazers or Spurs.”

That’s about it in a nutshell, which is why it wouldn’t be surprising if the Celtics eased Garnett back into the lineup in the first round. Without him they are still one of the top seven or eight teams in the league, but they will certainly need him if they are going to successfully defend their title.

Also of interest: The Magic are reeling and Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis are not expected to play tonight against Milwaukee. Lewis has tendinitis and Turkoglu sprained his ankle over the weekend, but X-rays were negative and Turk is quoted in the story as saying the injury is not serious.

Read More: Hedo Turkoglu, Kevin Garnett,
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