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For one game, Paul Pierce schools Carmelo Anthony, and Melo is unimpressed 04.18.11 at 1:21 pm ET
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One NBA superstar looked the role of having been in the playoff spotlight.

The other blinded by it late in the game when it mattered.

One executed his team’s final play to perfection and the other heaved up a desperation shot, hoping it would go in.

For one night, Paul Pierce got the best of Carmelo Anthony.

Aside from the second quarter, when Anthony scored 12 of his 15 points, Pierce completely frustrated and shut down Anthony. And in the second half, Anthony made just one of his 11 shots, finishing 5-for-18. But Anthony wasn’t falling over himself to praise Pierce afterward.

“As far as Paul Pierce, the matchup, I don’t think he did anything out of the ordinary or special tonight as far as defending me,” Anthony said unimpressed. “I think the Celtics, they were themselves, they load the paint up, every time I caught it, they loaded the side up, they shifted court.

“I missed some shots I normally make, I’m not too concerned about my individual performance or anything like that. As a team I think we did a hell of a job of just competing out there. We did some things great for the most part of the game, we got back and look at some film, make a couple adjustments, and get ready for Game 2. I’m excited about this series though.”

Pierce was in the right place at the right time as Anthony lost his composure with 21.0 seconds left, flailing his elbow toward Pierce and getting called the offensive foul.

“As far as that offensive foul goes, what I thought and what they called was two different things,” Anthony said. “So, it is what it is, he called it and it’s over with.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 NBA Playoff, Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, NBA
The game-winner was nothing new for Ray Allen and the Celtics at 12:24 am ET
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Ray Allen had no hesitation in letting the game-winning 3-pointer fly from the left wing with 11.6 seconds remaining, needing just a 2-pointer for the lead. Allen broke free from a screen and flashed open in time for Paul Pierce to find him and feed him the ball for the shot that gave the Celtics an 87-85 win in Game 1 at an electrified TD Garden Sunday night.

“Due to the experience that we have, having played together, we’ve ran that play many times in different situations,” Allen explained. “Sometimes the shot goes in, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes Paul has the ball in his hands and he shoots it and he scores it. There are so many different options off of that play that when we went to it, we knew exactly what to expect.

“We don’t pre-determine, me setting the screen getting Paul open, sometimes he gets the layup all the way to the hoop. Sometimes my guy switches and I end up being open, Baby [Glen Davis] or Kevin [Kevin Garnett] clean up a guy and I’m open at the 3-point line, or [Pierce] rolls and he is wide open. It’s a play that has so many options and tonight, I was just the option. If I could think of every shot that I hit to win a game in a Celtic uniform Paul has probably been the guy that has passed it to me.”

Allen finished with a team-high 24 points after not taking a shot in seven minutes of playing time in the first quarter.

Read More: 2011 NBA Playoffs, Boston Celtics, NBA, New York Knicks
NBA Power Rankings 4/15 04.14.11 at 7:30 pm ET
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Chicago Bulls1. Chicago (62-20): Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told ESPN.com Derrick Rose “will continue to get better throughout his career.” That’s a ridiculously scary thought, considering he’s a lock for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. But the real question remains, Can Rose capture NBA Finals MVP? Only five other guys under 6-foot-4 have captured that honor in NBA history: Tony Parker (2007), Chauncey Billups (’04), Isiah Thomas (’90), Joe Dumars (’89) and Jerry West (’69).

San Antonio Spurs2. San Antonio (61-21): I’m not sure if Dr. Jack Ramsay prescribed himself some medical marijuana or what, but he picked Spurs guard Manu Ginobili as his MVP. I’d be surprised if Ginobili is named First Team All-NBA. Take nothing away from what the Spurs have accomplished, including a 2-1 record against the Lakers with Ginobili, Parker and Tim Duncan in the lineup.

Los Angeles Lakers3. LA Lakers (57-25): After losing five straight games, the Lakers got a bit of their swagger back. If you think about it, all signs point to the fact that they’re already in playoff form: They beat the Spurs in the penultimate game of the regular season, Phil Jackson is getting fined for his comments, Andrew Bynum‘s health is in question, Kobe Bryant is screaming homophobic slurs at referees and Lamar Odom wants to quit.

Miami Heat4. Miami (58-24): Just as Gloria James may not have thrown the first punch at a Florida valet, LeBron James & Co. didn’t deliver the first, second or third blow against the Celtics. But the Heat landed the biggest punch in the fight on Sunday, handing the Celtics their worst loss of the year during a game in which Mike Bibby actually played Rajon Rondo to a standstill.

Boston Celtics5. Boston (56-26): Who holds the key to the Celtics’ figurative playoff switch? I’m guessing it’s not Danny Ainge. And they better hope it’s not Shaquille O’Neal. Is it Rondo? Kevin Garnett? Maybe it’s Paul Pierce, who told Mut & Merloni on Thursday, “I flipped the switch when I woke up this morning.” Whoever it is, Doc Rivers should remind him to keep it on Sunday.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA
Celtics-Knicks appointment viewing 04.13.11 at 10:15 pm ET
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The NBA announced the rest of the schedule for the Celtics-Knicks first round playoff series. Games 5, 6 and 7 are if necessary and some times are still to be determined (TBD).

Game 1: Sunday At Boston, 7 p.m. TNT

Game 2: Tuesday at Boston, 7 p.m. TNT

Game 3: Friday at New York, TBD ESPN

Game 4: Sunday at New York, 3:30 p.m. ABC

Game 5: Tuesday April 26 at Boston, TBD TBD

Game 6: Friday, April 29 at New York, TBD TBD

Game 7: Sunday, May 1 at Boston, TBD TBD

Here is the rest of the Eastern Conference schedule, as released by the NBA on Wednesday night:

Chicago vs. Indiana

Game 1 – Sat April 16 Indiana at Chicago 12:00PM 1:00PM
ESPN/ESPN3D
Game 2 – Mon April 18 Indiana at Chicago 8:30PM 9:30PM TNT
Game 3 – Thu April 21 Chicago at Indiana TBD TBD NBA TV
Game 4 – Sat April 23 Chicago at Indiana TBD TBD TNT
Game 5 * Tue April 26 Indiana at Chicago TBD TBD TBD
Game 6 * Thu April 28 Chicago at Indiana TBD TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sat April 30 Indiana at Chicago TBD TBD TNT
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Read More: 2011 NBA Playoffs, Boston Celtics, NBA, NBA playoff schedule
Report: Shaquille O’Neal should play Game 1 04.11.11 at 6:09 pm ET
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Shaquille O'Neal will reportedly return for Game 1. (AP)

Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal is expected to practice with the team on Thursday and be ready to return for Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs, according to a Globe beat reporter’s Twitter account

“Celtics president Danny Ainge said Shaquille O’Neal unlikely to play Wed, but expected to practice Thursday and be ready for Game 1,” Globe reporter Gary Washburn wrote. 

O’Neal has played once since Feb. 1, missing 26 games with an inflamed Achilles tendon before returning on April 3 — when he strained his calf against the Pistons after just five minutes on the floor. The 15-time NBA All-Star has averaged 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 37 games for the Celtics this season. 

As it stands now, the Celtics would be the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and face the Knicks in Round 1 of the playoffs (date, time TBA). 

In other Celtics news, multiple reports indicate that Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen will not play against the Wizards in Washington on Monday night. Glen Davis, Delonte West and Jeff Green are expected to start in their place.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, NBA, playoffs
Kevin Garnett: ‘Fatigue’s not an option’ 04.09.11 at 12:16 am ET
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On the second night of a back-to-back, following a letdown loss against the Bulls, in the 79th installment of an 82-game season, the Celtics had plenty of excuses to pack it in against the sub-.300 Wizards — a routine they’ve fallen prey to countless times in the past two seasons.

But Kevin Garnett wasn’t making any excuses. Paul Pierce made it clear the Celtics want the No. 2 seed, and their win over the Wizards brought them one step closer to capturing it against the Heat.

“At the end of the day, it’s competitive, and both sides are going to have competitive players who want to win,” said Garnett, who totaled 15 points and 11 rebounds against the Wizards. “It doesn’t matter who we play. You take the court, you suit up, and that’s what you’re expecting. Whether you’re playing lesser teams or below .500 teams or above .500 teams, you’ve got to anticipate that a team is trying to beat you.”

Thursday night, an above .500 team not only tried to beat the Celtics but succeeded with flying colors. And while Pierce quickly downplayed a question about the blowout loss to the Bulls — issuing a curt “We’re past that” response — the defeat has clearly stuck with Garnett.

“We want to keep that fresh in our mind,” said Garnett. “It’s motivating. We played like trash, and they played great. You want that to motivate you. We’ve got a really good Heat team coming up, and we’ll be tested again.”

The Celtics face the Heat on Sunday in a game that could decide the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed, as a C’s win would put them one game up on the Heat with the tiebreaker in hand and two games left.

“We’re just trying to gather some momentum with these games that we have left and be aggressive,” added Garnett. “[Friday], after the performance of [Thursday], it was probably more of an emphasis on being aggressive and for the most part we did that. I think we’re looking for that consistency. We’ll see. If we decide as a team to come into that, then that’s what we’ll be. If not, we’ll have problems.”

The injuries have placed a greater burden on this year’s stars than Celtics coach Doc Rivers had anticipated, and the team’s three aging stars will all have played more minutes this season than they did during the 2009-10 regular season. Still, Garnett isn’t using that as an excuse to explain the team’s lackluster performance since the All-Star break.

“Fatigue’s not an option right now,” he said. “It’s not an option. But we are trying to get better, and we’re doing it with hard work and effort, as usual. … A lot of [fatigue] is mental.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA, Paul Pierce
NBA Power Rankings, 4/8 04.08.11 at 6:41 pm ET
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Chicago Bulls1. Chicago (58-20): The good news: With their 16-point victory against the Celtics on Thursday night, the Bulls emphatically proved they have the best player in the NBA, the best coach in the NBA and, most importantly, the best team in the NBA. The bad news: They also ensured that Chicago fans will be forced to awkwardly walk past a weird half-bust/half-statue thing of Scottie Pippen.

Los Angeles Lakers2. LA Lakers (55-23): In a fantastic profile of Lakers coach Phil Jackson, we learned three important facts: 1) He really is retiring at season’s end; 2) Upon meeting Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant told his idol, “I can take you 1-on-1″; and 3) A full-bearded man should never wear shorts this short. If two three-peats with Kobe and the Lakers to go along with the six titles with Jordan and the Bulls would be a perfect symmetry to Jackson’s career, how much sweeter would a Celtics title be for Boston fans?

Boston Celtics3. Boston (54-24): The Bulls embarrassed the Celtics Thursday night, but the C’s are still 8-3 against the top-five NBA teams, 6-1 against their potential first-round opponents (76ers and Knicks) and 3-0 against their probable second-round opponent (Heat). As Paul Flannery noted, the Celtics also lost to the Cavaliers by 29 in the home stretch of the 2009-10 regular season. If that’s not cause for optimism, then maybe Rick Pitino was right about the negativity in this town.

San Antonio Spurs4. San Antonio (60-19): Are the Spurs the team that started the season 57-13 or the squad that lost six straight from March 25 to Arpil 1? Does anybody still have confidence that San Antonio can knock off the Lakers in the Western Conference finals? Will Eva Longoria get a cut of Tony Parker‘s playoff share as part of their divorce? So many questions still for this team.

Miami Heat5. Miami (54-24): After Derrick Rose and the Bulls obliterated the Celtics for their 17th victory in 19 games and the Heat lost to the Cavaliers and Bucks in a span of eight days, don’t hold your breath for a response from anyone who believed LeBron James deserved this season’s MVP honor.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA
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