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No avoiding Kobe vs. LeBron 04.24.09 at 5:21 pm ET
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Even though NBA Commissioner David Stern spoke out against the NBA’s inclination toward a Cleveland Cavaliers-Los Angeles Lakers Finals, there is no ignoring the Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James chatter during the playoffs. This weekend vitaminwater is launching an ad on ESPN hypothesizing about a match up between the two All-Stars. Fans can weigh in on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vitaminwater.

Read More: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, NBA,
Sounds of the game… Celtics 105, Cavaliers 94 03.07.09 at 12:30 am ET
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Before Friday’s game, Celtics assistant coach Armond Hill showed an inspirational video to the team, aimed specifically at young big men Leon Powe and Glen Davis.

No, it wasn’t Rocky or even Hoosiers. It was a film of the Celtics scoring basket after basket with their big men executing great interior passes. The result – the undermanned Celtics outscored the Cleveland Cavaliers 58-22 in the paint and rolled to a stunning 11-point win, 105-94, over the Eastern Conference leaders.

The Celtics didn’t have Kevin Garnett but they did have Leon Powe. The Celtics didn’t have Brian Scalabrine but they did have Glen Davis, at least for 17 minutes before he was ejected for a flagrant Type 2 foul with 9:09 remaining in the third quarter.

But Doc Rivers, who said at the shootaround in the morning that this would be a phenomenal win, had one of his best games of the season as head coach of the defending NBA champions. Just ask Mike Brown, his counterpart on the Cleveland bench.

Brown said the Celtics deserved all the credit for pulling together and pulling off the upset, even if it was on their home parquet.

For his part, Doc Rivers gave credit to Armond Hill for showing the video and his players for taking the lead.

Paul Pierce said Powe (20 points, 11 rebounds) and Davis (10 points) showed the depth the Celtics have.

Pierce said Davis’ ejection in the third quarter fired up the Green.

Leon Powe said he knew he was going to have to pick it up when Big Baby was thrown out.

Glen Davis said his foul of Anderson Varejao was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

LeBron James said, with or without Garnett, the Celtics are a great team.

King James said it’s hard to believe home team has won 15 straight in the series.

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, Glen Baby Davis, LeBron James
‘We see them as a real threat’… 03.06.09 at 1:22 pm ET
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As the Celtics shot around at their training facility in Waltham, everyone wanted to know what the Celtics needed to do to beat King James and the Cavaliers without last season’s defensive player of the year and the team’s heart and emotional soul in a suit for at least another week.

Coach Doc Rivers said that Kevin Garnett ran on a treadmill on Thursday for the first time since injuring his right knee on Feb. 19 and reported no problems.

“He ran yesterday, he told me, on the treadmill, which I’m sure was supervised,” Rivers said. “And he said he felt great so he’s feeling a lot better. That’s the first day he’s been able to run so we’ll take it day-to-day from that point on.”

“It’s the whole knee thing. We’re just going to take our time. I would say at least a week out and most likely, longer.”

As for tonight’s battle to end all battles, at least for the next 24 hours, Rivers, possibly looking back on last year’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semis, pointed out what it really means, especially if they could pull it off without Garnett, Brian Scalabrine and Tony Allen.

“It’s a big game,” Rivers said. “Obviously, home court is at stake here. And it would be a great win for us, to beat them at their full strength and us not having Kevin, Scal and Tony, I think it would be a phenomenal win for us. We’ll be ready.”

The Celtics have allowed their last two opponents to score over 100 points while a third, Indiana scored 99 last Friday.

“We want to win, really, and we have to find a way to do that,” Rivers said. “We’ve got to improve defensively. Over the last couple of games, we have not played our defense, especially transition-wise. And if we don’t get back tonight, it’s going to be a long night. That’s what we have to improve.

“We’ve won games and we’ve lost to a couple of good teams, which I can always live with even though you never want to lose, but our defense hasn’t been consistent and for us to be a good offensive team, we have to have multiple stops and we have to get back to that.”

But maybe it was Leon Powe who provided the best perspective of all on Friday morning, a mere nine hours before tip.

“It’s real good for us because we’ve been looking forward to this game,” Powe said of the test. “If you want to be the best you’ve got to beat the best. I know the road to the championship means you’ve got to knock us off. We see them as a real threat. We’ve got to go out there and play our best and hopefully both teams put on a good show and hopefully we come out on top.”

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, Eastern Conference, Kevin Garnett
Best of Delonte West at 1:19 am ET
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LeBron James steals the spotlight on the Cleveland Cavaliers, but former Boston Celtic Delonte West doesn’t shy away from the camera either. Here is a look at some of West’s most memorable moments upon his return to Boston for Friday’s Celtics-Cavaliers game.

Delonte Chats with Paul Pierce: Denzel Washington and Prudential Center Specials

Celtics Promo: Childhood dreams and wire hangers

Dime Magazine Photo Shoot: Tattoos and a lifelong sense of style

And who can forget his ESPN Page 2 Valentine’s Day interview: Popeye’s, yachts, and “Rico Suave-ing it”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Delonte West, LeBron James
Nike All-Star Kicks 02.10.09 at 8:33 pm ET
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Nike is rolling out a special line of sneakers for the 2009 NBA All-Star Game, including a pair for Paul Pierce. The shoes will be red and blue to match the Eastern and Western Conference uniforms. There will also be artwork to represent the host city of Phoenix, Arizona. Check out the shoes and a list the players who will be wearing them, from NiceKicks.com.

Eastern Conference: Chris Bosh (Nike Huarache 09), Danny Granger (Nike Zoom Phenom, not pictured), LeBron James (Nike Zoom LeBron VI), Rashard Lewis (Nike Hyperdunk), Paul Pierce (Nike MAX P2 V, not pictured)

Western Conference: Kobe Bryant (Nike Zoom Kobe IV), Pau Gasol (Nike Hyperdunk), Dirk Nowitzki (Nike MAX Spot Up), Brandon Roy (Nike Zoom Phenom), Tony Parker (Nike Huarache 09), Amare Stoudemire (Nike Foamposite Lite), David West (Nike Foamposite Lite)

Read More: Amare Stoudemire, Boston Celtics, Chris Bosh, Danny Granger
Cs to be challenged by one of their own 01.08.09 at 11:42 pm ET
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Before Rajon Rondo was taking hard spills on the court, it was Delonte West who was sacrificing his body for the Boston Celtics. Two years after leaving the Cs as part of the Ray Allen deal, West has brought his hustle to the Cleveland where it has sparked LeBron James and the streaking Cavaliers. Those who played with West early in his career are not surprised by his success.

‘€œThere’s no doubt that I thought before Delonte even went there, I thought Delonte was a perfect fit for LeBron James,’€ said Brian Scalabrine, a teammate of two seasons. ‘€œWhen he got traded to Seattle and he wasn’t playing for whatever, it’s just all about the place you go and where you fit in.’€

West has fit in perfectly since being dealt from the Seattle SuperSonics last season. The addition of West, along with Mo Williams, is an upgrade to the Cavaliers backcourt that once relied heavily on James’ long-range game. Rather than compensating for the inconsistencies of Daniel Gibson and Sasha Pavlovic, James can play closer to the basket without worrying about their guards.

West’s gritty defense is also a factor in the Cavs’ NBA-low 89.1 points allowed per game (down from 96.7 last season). His intensity will be challenging for the Celtics to contain when they take on the Cavaliers on Friday night.

‘€œD-West has helped them a lot,’€ said Kendrick Perkins, who played three seasons with West. ‘€œHe puts another shooter out there on the court for LeBron to pass it to when he drives and penetrates. D-West can make plays. He’s a defender, he’s very feisty, and D-West helps their team a lot. We’ve just got to make sure we go out there and try to keep him under control, keep him off the offensive rebounding, try to get in his aspects a little bit, and just go from there.’€

After losing for three years in Boston and inexplicably riding the bench in Seattle, West inked a multi-year deal last summer to stay in Cleveland. Even though his tough play could burn the Celtics this season, his former teammates know he’s in the right place.

Said Scalabrine, ‘€œI told him when he came here (with the Cavs), ‘Listen, you’re in a place where you can be, as long as LeBron is there, you can be there for the rest of your career and you can thrive in that situation.”€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brian Scalabrine, Cleveland Cavaliers, Delonte West
LeBron isn’t Celtics biggest competition at 9:54 pm ET
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Ask the Boston Celtics who their toughest competition in the East is and they won’t say LeBron James. They’ll tell you it is themselves who stand in their way of another title, that only they can control the fate of their season. On Friday night when the suddenly skidding Celtics take the court against the Cleveland Cavaliers, their biggest challenge is not stopping King James. It is simply not getting beat by their own mistakes.

‘€œI really don’t care who we play next,’€ Ray Allen said. ‘€œIt’s just, I look at it personally as an opportunity to get back on track to do what I need to do to help this team. Every little thing that I look at that has my input or my stamp individually for this team, I’ve got to find out ways to do it better, to make it better out there.’€

After winning 19-straight, the Celtics are on a three-game losing streak and have dropped six of their last eight contests. At this point they aren’t seeing Friday as a chance to beat an Eastern Conference rival but rather an opportunity to get back on track.

‘€œThe thing about our team is that we don’t ever look ahead. Now that we’ve got Cleveland, we’re concentrating on Cleveland. But we never once had just talked about beating Cleveland,’€ Kendrick Perkins said. ‘€œWe need a win. We’re desperate for one right now.’€

Even though winning on the road has been a struggle for the Celtics this season, spoiling the Cavs perfect home record is a test they are up for.

‘€œWe have an opportunity to go in down there playing one of the best teams in the league,’€ Leon Powe said. ‘€œThey’re real hot at home too. I think they’ve won about 18 straight in their house. Man, it’s going to be a challenge. But we’ve got a wonderful opportunity to go in there and play well and hopefully pull out a win to give us a big confidence boost.’€

A win in Cleveland would do more than get the Celtics back on the winning side. The Eastern Conference standings are so close this season that an early January victory could pay dividends in the playoffs.

‘€œReally, we’re just trying to win all the games we possibly can and get homecourt advantage,’€ Perkins said. ‘€œThat just would make it a little bit easier for us in the playoffs. But if we don’t get homecourt advantage I’m not saying we won’t win he championship, but it’d really be a whole lot harder.’€

With an electrified crowd behind them, the Cavs will also look to avenge last season’s Eastern Conference Semifinals elimination. The biggest key is matching their intensity.

‘€œIt has the same sense of urgency,’€ Powe said. ‘€œWe’ve got to go out there, play hard, it’s going to be just like a Game 7.  They’re going to come at us and try to hit us in the mouth first. We’ve got to take it and then respond back. We haven’t been doing that as of lately but I think we should be alright going out there. Our captains and everybody on this team know what we’ve got to do to win the game.’€

Playing hard is one thing, but the Celtics don’t have a panicked attitude toward the game. Allen added the team has not reached the point of frustration yet, and Sam Cassell, the only member of the Celtics who has won back-to-back titles, explained there’s no need to get flustered this early in January.

‘€œWhen you’re repeating you’ve got all that stuff with big matchups, but it doesn’t matter,’€ he said. ‘€œYou want to win every game possible but it doesn’t make you or break you. A team that got its rhythm in April going into the playoffs is a team that can win a championship … Why should we [worry]? We aren’t breaking .500. When I won a championship we were 10 games over .500, that’s all.’€

The Celtics won 19 straight by focusing on one day at a time. After Friday night they have 44 more regular season games left and each one is just as important as a match up against LeBron James. It doesn’t matter who’s on the opposite side of the court. The Celtics have to take care of the five guys in green first.

‘€œIt wouldn’t have made a difference if it were Cleveland or Sacramento,’€ Allen said. ‘€œIt wouldn’t have made a difference. We lost three in a row and that’s the mentality we have to have going into the game.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Kendrick Perkins, LeBron James
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