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Eastern Conference Preparing for Competition 08.18.09 at 10:20 pm ET
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Two years ago the Boston Celtics traveled to Europe for training camp. That season they won the championship. The close-knit squad credited the trip overseas for their unwavering chemistry on the court.

“The second we got to training camp in September, we all said, hey, let’s meet in September without the coaches and come together and just start playing with each other, starting to get to know one another, and I think all that stuff really helped us,” Paul Pierce said during the 2008 playoffs.

This summer Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson hopes he can have the same effect on his teammates. Nelson is hosting the Magic at his Philadelphia-area home for ‘€œBuilding Magic,’€ a week-long getaway that combines strength and conditioning drills with team-building activities.

Like the Celtics did in 2007, the Magic traded a handful of core players in exchange for an All-Star (Vince Carter) and added to their bench along the way. After losing Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee, key pieces in their postseason run, and veteran mentor Tony Battie, Nelson understands the importance of this offseason.

He explained to Sports Illustrated in July:

‘€œWe’re trying to piece it together because our team was in transition. For the most part, the big guns have committed — Vince [Carter], Dwight [Howard] and Rashard [Lewis]. After those guys have committed, no one can really back out unless they have some type of serious issue.

This year we’re doing it from the 16th through the 22nd of August. We do it at the same facility every year, same gym at Haverford College. We’ll work out with my trainers — conditioning drills, weightlifting, stuff to get your body right. The basketball stuff we do is later in the afternoon. We do that for about 2-3 hours.

Afterward, we’ll mix up the nightlife. We always do a dinner. Other days we’ll do paintball or bowling, maybe go to the movies.’€

As they gear up in hopes of reclaiming their Eastern Conference title, Rashard Lewis’ Twitpic has the Magic looking ready for battle. (Via Ball Don’t Lie)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic, Paul Pierce
Magic’s Lewis suspended for 10 games 08.06.09 at 4:49 pm ET
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Orlando Magic forward Rashard Lewis will be suspended for the first 10 games of the 2009-10 season without pay for failing a league drug test, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Lewis tested positive for Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a testosterone-producing steroid. The Sentinel reported it is common in several over-the-counter supplements but it banned by the NBA.

The Sentinel published the following statement from Lewis:

“First and foremost I take full responsibility for the situation and accept the corresponding penalty. Toward the end of the season I took an over-the-counter supplement which at the time I did not realize included a substance banned by the NBA. I apologize to Magic fans, my teammates and this organization for not doing the research that should come with good judgment. I hope this unintentional mistake will not reflect poorly on our team and its great character. I hope every athlete can learn from my mistake that supplements, no matter how innocent they seem, should only be taken after consulting an expert in the field.”

Lewis averaged 20.4 points and 6.3 rebounds against the Celtics in the 2009 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, Rashard Lewis,
Celtics: “We have total faith in Ray” 05.16.09 at 2:21 pm ET
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WALTHAM – Ray Allen may be struggling offensively against the Orlando Magic but the Celtics are not concerned.

‘€œI don’t need to say nothing to Ray,’€ Paul Pierce said after practice on Saturday. ‘€œRay knows what he needs to do. I mean Ray’s been in the league long enough. We have total faith in Ray. There’s nothing wrong with him.’€

Allen is averaging 11.5 points per game in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, down from 23 points in the first round. He is shooting just 14% from three-point range, including an 0-7 performance in Game 6. Allen has been held to a total of 22 points in the Celtics three losses.

Still Allen is unfazed by the buzz surrounding his battles at the basket. He does not watch television and chalks the hype up to the scrutiny of playoff basketball.

‘€œI’ll tell you what, every shot that I take is good. Every shot that I put up there, it always looks good to me,” Allen said. “For the last second, you see the ball rolling around the rim and sometimes it toilet bowls and it goes down and sometimes it pops out, and you just, you never know until that ball goes all the way through. So I’ll be making sure the ball goes all the way through tomorrow.’€

Doc Rivers has not lost confidence in Allen. So much so, in fact, that he’ll make his own prediction in the wake of Patrick’s Ewing’s guarantee of a Magic victory.

‘€œWe’ve survived other games in this series with Ray struggling. Even if Ray’s not making shots, he still has a tremendous value for us,’€ Rivers said. ‘€œHe’s going to make shots tomorrow. I do feel good about that. If Patrick Ewing can guarantee a win, I can guarantee that Ray will make shots tomorrow.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, Ray Allen,
Ewing Guarantees Victory over Celtics at 1:52 pm ET
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WALTHAM – Patrick Ewing doesn’t need to be playing to guarantee a Game 7 victory over in the Celtics. In fact, he doesn’t even need to have a proven track record of accurate predictions. The Magic assistant coach is certain his team will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday.

‘€œIt’s a whole team. Everyone has to step up in a Game Seven. Bring your A-game. Get our there and play with your hearts on your sleeve and come away with a win,’€ Ewing said in an interview aired on ESPN. ‘€œEven though I’m not playing, I’m guaranteeing a win.’€

That guarantee sits well with Doc Rivers, who was teammates with Ewing on the Knicks.

‘€œOh that’s great. We feel great about that,’€ Rivers said after practice on Saturday. ‘€œI’ve been on those Knicks teams where he had some predictions.’€

Rivers could not hide his sarcasm. Click here to see just how well Ewing’s past predictions have panned out.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, Patrick Ewing,
Much needed practice for Celtics at 1:32 pm ET
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WALTHAM – The Boston Celtics have not had more than one day off since a two-day lapse in between Games 3 and 4 against the Chicago Bulls. So Doc Rivers was relieved when the Celtics got another 48-hour break before Game 7 against the Orlando Magic. He put the team to work on Saturday.

‘€œWhen you don’t practice you have slippage, and we’ve had a ton of slippage,’€ Rivers said after practice. ‘€œOur film today was all execution ‘€“ things that you should be doing but when you don’t practice and work on everything, you slip a little bit. I think in Game 5 and 6 we had done that.’€

Dissecting game film allowed the Celtics to see their mistakes, including 83 turnovers in the first six games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

‘€œExecution is always key, down to the littlest thing,’€ Rivers said. ‘€œWhen you mess up one play and give up a three and you lose by two, that play in the first quarter counts just as much as something in the fourth. And so you just have to try to execute every single time and have great focus.’€

One thing Rivers does not intend to adjust after Saturday’s practice is how they will stop Dwight Howard. The Celtics have had a solid plan since the first game and Rivers does not want to change it, just execute it more effectively.

‘€œNot a thing, really,’€ he said. ‘€œWe just have to hold our ground, dig a little more. A lot of those are offensive rebounds from dribble penetration. A lot of Howard’s baskets are not coming from just throwing the ball down to him in the post. It’s coming come guards and small forwards beating us off the dribble. Perk (Kendrick Perkins) does his job by going to help, and it frees up Howard’s ten offensive rebounds. Going into Game 1 we said the single most important thing for us was to stop dribble penetration. That has not changed at all.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Orlando Magic,
Did Howard learn to dominate? 05.15.09 at 1:05 pm ET
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One of the hottest topics in Game 6 was Dwight Howard’s ability to dominate. The Celtics had stopped him from doing it in the first five contests, but Howard was confident he could take over the paint. As he wrote on his blog, he thinks he accomplished his mission:

“I knew going into this game that if I wanted what I call touches that I had to crash the boards and dominate the game defensively and rebounding … I know that there are other ways to dominate a game than on scoring. My team needs me to be a beast in the lane for us to win. I tried to go after every ball last night and see if they could stop me.”

As for his decree of domination following Game 5, Howard has learned to prove it on the court, not at the podium:

“I guess if I learned anything the past few days after my comments in Game 5 it’€™s that I need to keep my mouth shut sometimes. Otis had me in his office and we talked about how there are better ways to deal with problems than I did. I’€™m still young, still learning and I’€™m going to make mistakes sometimes.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic,
Back to the scene of the crime 05.14.09 at 5:35 pm ET
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ORLANDO – Doc Rivers readily admitted after Game 5 that the Celtics stole victory from the the Orlando Magic on the parquet. But it was Glen Davis who this afternoon returned to the scene of the crime.

And ESPN cameras were there to shoot it.

As Rashard Lewis came into the building and took a left for the Magic locker room, Davis followed in behind. The camera crew quickly changed their focus from following Lewis to trailing Davis, getting in front of him for a shot sure to be seen tonight in one of those ‘Look who’s in the building’ now shots. ESPN has the game on its air beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

It was Davis, of course, who ripped victory out of the mouths of the Magic and their rabid fans with his now-famous jumper from the left wing at the buzzer of Game 4.

That shot and the scene that ensued is stuff of playoff legend and Davis walked into the building this afternoon just before 5 p.m., returning to arena where he hit his shot and then bumped into the 12-year-old son of Ernest Provetti before racing down the court in jubilation.

No word on whether Provetti and his son will be back for more tonight.

Read More: Celtics, Orlando Magic,
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