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LeBron rested, ready 05.01.10 at 7:47 pm ET
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CLEVELAND –The most important elbow in basketball spent the last three days avoiding contact, but LeBron James said prior to Game 1 between the Cavaliers and Celtics that he is ready.

“I spent the last three days concentrating and preparing for this series,” James said. “I expect a lot of physical play. I haven’t done much physically in practice, I’ve been very conscious, knowing that today is the most important day besides the last three days, physically. We took it very light the last few days. I’m ready for today.”

We won’t the full extent of his elbow injury until the two teams take the floor, but the Celtics are preparing as if he is 100 percent.

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Allen prepared for Cavs defense 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.

The Cavs slowed Allen with a double-team in the past

The Cavs slowed Allen with a double-team in the past

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.

“I was put on defense more, but the way they were guarding me in Cleveland, they jumped me every pick-and-roll,” Allen explained. “The 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.

“I just know during the playoffs, they contribute two guys to me, always, just when I’m coming off pin downs,” Allen said. “I 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.

“I’ve just got to know where Kevin is, where Perk is, where Rondo’s going to be,” he said. “Rondo’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.”

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Pierce: ‘I’m a natural born scorer’ 04.30.10 at 8:39 pm ET
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WALTHAM – Paul Pierce has all the respect in the world for LeBron James.

James, after all, has become just the 10th player in NBA history to win back-to-back regular season MVP awards and will be crowned King before Game 2 Monday night.

“I think if you ask players, and ask players to be honest, just based on what he’s achieved individually and as a team, it should be unanimous,” Pierce said.

But Pierce made a point to remind everyone on Friday before Game 1 that he still has confidence in his own ability to score from anywhere on the court.

“I think I’m comfortable doing anything,” Pierce said. “I don’t limit myself to just being a shooter, or just driving. I’m a natural born scorer. I think I can do it all over the court. If the shot is there, I’ll take it.”

Still, inquiring minds still wanted to know Friday just how Pierce – who figures to draw a good deal of the assignment of guarding James – plans to guard the newly-minted two-time NBA MVP.

“We just have to be aware of him constantly. You can’t give him anything. You have to challenge his shot. He does everything so well. We all know that once he gets into a groove shooting, he can shoot the ball. We all know how he is attacking the basket.”

“Just going against the best, regardless if it’s LeBron,” Pierce said. “It’s just going against the best teams. I just look at it over the years, I get to play against the top teams, I always get to show my best on the big stage. Obviously, playing against the MVP brings out the best in the best players in the league.”

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Rivers on LeBron’s MVP: He deserves it at 2:53 pm ET
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WALTHAM – We still don’t know if LeBron James will wind up winning the MVP award with a unanimous vote, but there was no argument from the Celtics about his worthiness.

“He deserves it,” Doc Rivers said. “He earned it all year, so congratulations. I don’t think after Kobe [Bryant], and [Kevin] Durant and Dwight Howard, who doesn’t get enough credit for what he does with that team, there weren’t a lot of other choices.”

James is scheduled to be awarded the trophy by David Stern before Game 2.

“I hope it’s a distraction for them,” Rivers said. “It won’t be a distraction for us. None of us are getting it. Hopefully he won’t give a long speech and we can go and play basketball.”

The glamour matchup in this series is James and Paul Pierce, but Rivers suspects that James won’t simply be guarding Pierce.

“Paul’s going to be Paul,” Rivers said. “We’re not going to be going away from Paul because LeBron is guarding him. Paul’s our offensive guy so we’re going to still go to him. I don’t think LeBron will be guarding Paul but half the time. I think LeBron will be guarding Rondo and others.”

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LeBron to win MVP at 10:46 am ET
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Various outlets in Cleveland are reporting that LeBron James has won his second straight Most Valuable Player award. According to the Plain-Dealer, it will be formally announced Sunday and he will be presented with the trophy by commissioner David Stern prior to Game 2 with the Celtics, Monday night.

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LeBron’s elbow just funny business to C’s 04.29.10 at 10:38 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Gamesmanship is as common this time of year in the NBA as game planning.

With that being said, no one will know for sure just how big a role the banged up right elbow of LeBron James will play in the Celtics-Cavs series.

But the Celtics have their own sense of the seriousness of the injury to King James.

“He’s fine,” coach Doc Rivers said with a big smile. “I tell you what, if he goes three or four games and shoots left-handed only, then I’ll believe that it’s hurting. We’re going to be ready for the LeBron we’ve seen all through the playoffs.”

Of course, James DID shoot a free throw with his left hand in the Game 5 clincher against Chicago on Tuesday night with 7.2 seconds remaining the Cavaliers up, 96-92.

Added Ray Allen, “I don’t even pay attention to it. If there’s something wrong with his elbow or any other part of his body, then he won’t play, and we all know that.”

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The Magic of LeBron at 9:21 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Doc Rivers has seen that lightning-quick, cross-court pass that paralyzes a defense before leaving them powerless to prevent an easy, uncontested basket.

Magic Johnson did it seemingly at will in the 1980s and Rivers had an up close and personal view for it all.

It is precisely for this reason the Celtics coach is worried about LeBron James. Yes, No. 23 can take it to the rim. Yes, James can rebound and block shots. But what James can do to get others involved is the hardest aspect to prepare for in this series against the Cavaliers.

“He’s a bullet passer,” Rivers said on Thursday, two days before Game 1. “He’s the only guy I know of like Magic. The ‘steam’ bullet passes. He throws cross-court passes that are 100 miles an hour and it’s tough to react to.

“We showed the guys that on film and if you’re not down in your stance and you’re standing straight up on the weakside and he makes that pass, there’s no way you’re going to get out to that shooter.”

Rivers tried his best to get his team ready but admitted it’s next to impossible.

“We worked on that [Thursday] and there’s nobody on our team that can throw that pass so the work didn’t look as good. We kept getting out to the shooter and I said, ‘Yeah, we’re throwing softballs.’

“He’s a great passer. In some ways, I think he wants to pass sometimes.”

James is also the leading triple-double threat in the league. But Rivers said, like with Dwyane Wade, the Celtics can live with the points but not the rebounds and assists.

“Well, the 10 [points] and the 10 [rebounds] we can’t have,” Rivers said. “The 30 and the 40 [points] we don’t want and, if he has it, we want him to have it our way, not his way. That’s what upset us a little about Wade in a couple of the games. He got to 46 his way. The big game the last night [Game 5], he got it our way. We kept everyone else out of it so that was good.”

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