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Howard foul upgraded to Flagrant 05.26.10 at 7:03 pm ET
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ORLANDO — The NBA announced that they have upgraded a personal foul called on Dwight Howard from Game 4 to a Flagrant 1. The play occurred when Howard hit Kevin Garnett in the face. Garnett became angry and was hit with a technical foul.

“That’s their decision,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said prior to Game 5. “[Howard] got a rebound and pivoted.” Howard now has two points in the so-called Flagrant Foul bank. A third would lead to an automatic one-game suspension.

Not surprisingly, Doc Rivers had a different reaction. “I thought it was a flagrant,” he said. “The bottom line whenever you throw elbows above the head, it’s going to be called a flagrant. I didn’t think that surprising. I actually don’t like the suspension rule. The longer you’re in the playoffs the more likely it’s going to affect your team.”

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Celtics take credit where credit is due 05.23.10 at 3:41 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics are one game away from eliminating the Magic and advancing to the NBA Finals, and they believe credit should be given where credit is due.

“I believe we deserve all the credit,” Ray Allen said following practice on Sunday. “It’s only two teams playing. We’re putting them in the situation that they’re in, and we’re adjusting and trying to find the ways that we can confuse them as much as we can, and make it tough defensively on them and offensively. They’re not going out there and doing it to themselves.”

Following their Game 3 loss, the Magic conceded they have been outhustled and outplayed the entire series. Players were baffled by their collapse, saying they have not seen the real Magic team yet. Others said they are beating themselves.

But the Celtics are not paying attention to the downtrodden morale of their opponent.

“None of my concern,” said Kevin Garnett. “That’s them. That’s how they think. Nothing more, nothing less than that. I can’t really be worried with what they’re thinking over there and how they’re playing or what’s going through their head.”

The Celtics have made it this far by staying honed in on each other the entire postseason. Some questioned whether or not they would even survive the first round, let alone make it to the NBA Finals. Now that they are just 48 minutes away from advancing, they are focused on the confidence they have in one another, not the uncertainty felt by the Magic.

“I didn’t have any doubts in this team,” said Paul Pierce. “I never doubted us because I felt once we got to the playoffs, guys would be able to settle in a little more, travel wouldn’t be as much, we could really focus in on the team, and really do our scouting report. And I think just looking at a seven-game series, I always thought it’d be tough to beat us four times.”

The Heat and Cavaliers have already found out just how tough it is. The Celtics hope to teach the Magic the same lesson on Monday night.

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Happily humble Celtics reminded of task 05.20.10 at 4:39 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Everyone wanted to know the answer to one question on Thursday in Waltham. No, it wasn’t whether Paul Pierce’s tweet was real or not as everyone suspected it wasn’t his doing in the wake of Game 2.

It wasn’t how the Celtics were getting ready to prepare for a motivated Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson.

The question everyone wanted the answer to was: Are the Celtics overconfident? After all, the Celtics are coming into Game 3 against Orlando at home after winning the first two games of the series on the road, something they have never accomplished in their glorious history.

As always, the introspective Ray Allen provided some interesting insight to the team’s psyche.

“Always, that’s human nature,” Allen said when asked if he understood the concern of overconfidence. “You think you have everything in the bag. You think you don’t have to put as much effort out there to do your job or get the same result that you got before. The same overpreparation, the same focus, the same mental approach we’ve taken to the whole playoffs has to continue.

“The only ‘over’ I want to be is prepared. It’s important that everybody does their job and knows we’ve done our job to get into this situation.”

Kevin Garnett said all the matters is what happens on the court – not when the microphones are on off of it.

“In my estimation, confidence is about what you go out and do versus talking about it,” Garnett said. “We haven’t really done anything but won two games. Now, it’s up to us to defend our home court. It’s important that we stay humble and understand that this is a long process and this is seven games.”

And the reason for the question was Paul Pierce proclaiming to a national TV audience following Boston’s Game 2 win in Orlando that the Celtics were coming home to “close it out.”

“I didn’t like it,” Rivers said. “I don’t mind the confidence part, that’s good, but we want to be humble and we haven’t achieved anything. I think that’s what he was trying to say but it just came out at the end. I wish they’d have taken the mic away the last couple of words but up until then, he was pretty good. We do have to go home and our fans will help us but we have to do it on the floor.

Rivers did not speak to Pierce individually since then but rather the entire team about the appropriate attitude going into Game 3 Saturday night in Boston.

“I talked to the team about it,” Rivers added. “He was part of the team. Unfortunately, I talked to the team, in the locker room, right after the game.”

‘We’ve done nothing’ is clearly the mantra these Celtics have adopted for the 2010 run to a title.

“We’ve done nothing,” Rivers repeated from his comments earlier Thursday to Dennis and Callahan. “We really haven’t. We’ve won two games. We’re up, 2-0. Again, we just have to keep playing. Orlando is the favorite for a reason. They were playing better than everybody in the playoffs for a reason and we can’t take our eye off of that.”

Rivers said it’s hard to keep the players from feeling good about themselves. And actually, he said, they have earned that right.

“You don’t guard against it,” Rivers said. “You just keep focusing on execution and improving and getting ready. And each game is a single game. That’s been our speech through this playoff series, all of the series. Each game is a single game. Game 1 was an individual game. Game 2 was and Game 3 will be as well.”

Rivers is a big fan of the NFL. And Bill Belichick would be happy with the nugget he threw at his team on Thursday.

“As I told our guys, we have yet to beat Orlando on our home court this year and that’s something we have to have a focus on,” Rivers said of Orlando’s two wins in Boston this regular season.

“It won’t be easy but we earned this position and we should be happy with that. We earned getting up, 2-0 but we haven’t had the opportunity to defend our home court. We did our job there but we haven’t done our job at home. And as far as we’re concerned, until we do that, nothing has happened in this series.”

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Kevin Garnett’s big challenge at 2:25 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett has had the upper hand against Magic forward Rashard Lewis (back) in this series. (AP)

Kevin Garnett has had the upper hand against Magic forward Rashard Lewis (back) in this series. (AP)

WALTHAM — Rashard Lewis is a monster scorer, but Kevin Garnett is a monster defender, and through two games, Garnett has gotten the better of his longtime rival. Not only has Lewis not been able to score — just 11 points — he hasn’t even been able to get shots off — just 16 in two games.

Credit for that goes mainly to Garnett, along with Glen Davis, who have a hand in his face on almost every jump shot he’s attempted. In Game 1, both of Lewis’ made shots came on simple put-backs from offensive rebounds. In Game 2, his one made 3-pointer, the only one he’s made in the series, came on a wide open look off a kickout.

But on his other 13 shot attempts there has been a Celtic defender close by.

“Nothing,” Doc Rivers said when asked about any special coverages. “We just guard him. He’s actually had some shots that he’s not made. I think the key to us guarding Lewis, or any of their guys, is the better we are in pick and roll, the quicker we’re back in our rotations. If we can’t get back, Lewis is wide open.”

It’s true that Lewis has missed some shots that he would ordinarily make, but that’s only because he’s such an extraordinarily talented shooter. Rolling through his shot attempts with the help of Synergy Sports, Lewis has had only one clean look at a jumper, his made 3 in Game 2. In all the others, Garnett or Davis were out contesting his shots with a hand in his face.

“Trying to keep my hand up,” Garnett said. “Baby and myself have the responsibility. Tell you the truth, a lot of the focus is on Jameer [Nelson] and Dwight [Howard]. I’m sure he’ll be real aggressive in Game 3, so I’m anticipating that.”

Keeping Lewis in check is Garnett’s top priority, but the Celtics also need his offense and he had made shot just 9-for-30 in the series. The Celtics like the number of shot attempts, in fact they want more, but Rivers is not easing off his demands that Garnett be a two-way player against the Magic. Even though he knows that it won’t be easy.

“In this series, they’re denying him with the double teams on the post,” Rivers said. “We knew that coming into it. What we’re trying to do is get him to the elbows and get him to the spots on the corner to stretch the floor.”

Garnett missed eight of his first nine shots in Game 2, but they were able to get him looks on the perimeter that they will gladly take again. Garnett has to continue to be aggressive. His signature play came in the third quarter when he allowed Howard to close before he hit him with a pump fake. As Howard flew by him, the lane was wide open and Garnett roared down the middle of the paint for a dunk.

“That was great,” Rivers said. “Because he was taking his time. I thought he was going fast for a game and a half and finally he slowed down a little bit and it allowed him to play.”

Garnett won’t be able to operate with only token resistance on the post as he did against the Cavs in this series, but the Celtics are finding ways to make him an integral part of the offense. Now he has to make a few, and continue to keep Lewis in check.

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Garnett’s tough cover 05.18.10 at 11:45 am ET
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Kevin Garnett frequently has stated that Magic forward Rashard Lewis (back) is difficult to defend. (AP)

Kevin Garnett frequently has stated that Magic forward Rashard Lewis (back) is difficult to defend, but the Celtics forward did a commendable job Sunday. (AP)

ORLANDO — Whenever he is asked about the toughest players to cover in the NBA, Kevin Garnett always pays respect to Rashard Lewis. At 6-foot-10, Lewis is one of the best 3-point shooters in the league, but he also can put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket.

Lewis shot 2-for-10 in Game 1 and scored just six points, a far cry from last season’s playoff matchup when the Celtics couldn’t come up with an effective counter without Garnett in the lineup.

“KG was phenomenal,” Doc Rivers said. “Not only with Rashard, but with help and recovering. We’re asking him to recover from pick and roll angle to 3. Usually you recover from pick and roll to roll where you’re running under the basket. That’s the complete opposite direction. For him to train his mind to do that is really tough to do. With Rashard, you show [on the pick and roll] and you have to sprint the opposite direction. Eighty games of going that way and now you’re going this way, mentally that is really difficult. You can even see it in practice where he shows and takes a step this way, with Rashard if you take that one, you’re not getting back in time. He did a great job in Game 1.”

Garnett’s offense did not come as readily. He shot 4-for-14 and found himself out on the perimeter. Credit the Magic defense with making it difficult for him to get the ball in the post.

“They double team without the ball,” Rivers said. “You don’t see that very often. With [Kendrick Perkins] in there or [Rajon] Rondo, they use their guy to front and back Kevin so you can’t get it to him. We have to get it to him on movement plays. Once we get it to him I feel very confident.”

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The future of Lebron James 05.14.10 at 3:33 am ET
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The Cavaliers were eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday night at TD Garden. After the game, Lebron James spoke about his future to the media. Kevin Garnett and Mike Brown also talked about the future of the NBA superstar.

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Ainge on The Big Show: Both teams ‘desperate’ 05.13.10 at 7:48 pm ET
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Danny Ainge (AP)

Danny Ainge (AP)

Celtics president Danny Ainge joined The Big Show Thursday evening to talk about Boston’s success against Cleveland and the importance of closing out the series in Game 6 at TD Garden.

“Both teams are very desperate to win this game tonight, for obvious reasons,” Ainge said. “I think that’s why it will be a good game.”

Ainge also touched on the amount of criticism LeBron James received after the Cavaliers’ lopsided loss in Game 5.

Below is a transcript. Visit The Big Show audio on demand page to hear the interview.

It’s been a bizarre series, do you have any idea what to expect tonight?

I have no idea. I would be shocked if it was going to be any sort of blowout like we’ve had in a couple of games in the series. I expect both teams to be ready, they know what they’re doing, they kind of know the strengths and weaknesses, and I’d be shocked if it wasn’t a close game.

Kevin Garnett spoke about the sense of urgency after the last game about treating this is as a Game 7 and not as a Game 6. Do you like that approach?

Yeah, I think so. Both teams are very desperate to win this game tonight, for obvious reasons. I think that’s why it will be a good game.

You guys have really played great defense from the initial point of attack.

I think the identity of this team is defense. I think we’ve gotten back to that in the playoffs. We’ve had a few bad spells, we let our guard down in Game 3 of course, but overall our defense has really stepped up, improved, and I think the effort each possession is better than the regular season. Read the rest of this entry »

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