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Pierce: There’s nothing wrong with me 05.10.10 at 3:05 pm ET
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WALTHAM –When a player like Paul Pierce struggles offensively the way he has in the Celtics series with Cleveland, questions naturally arise. Most prominently: Is he hurt?

Pierce has dealt with a myriad of injuries this season, but given the caveat that every player is a little banged up at this point in the season, he stated flatly Monday after the Celtics went through a brief practice that he was fine.

“There’s nothing wrong with me,” Pierce said. “For me, it’s just being ready, being focused, giving my team whatever it needs to win. There’s nothing wrong with me.”

There are other mitigating factors that have contributed to his sub-par numbers (16-for-50, 4-for-18 from 3-point range). For one, he has found himself in early foul trouble and for another, he is guarding LeBron James at the other end of the floor.

“I’m digging myself a ditch as far as with my fouls,” Pierce said. “I think they’re good fouls that I’m giving, some bad ones, but that’s the way the game goes.”

“Paul’s fine,” Doc Rivers said when asked about his health. “Obviously we want more out of him, but we’re getting a lot out of him. I think, unfortunately for Paul, he’s an offensive players and that’s what everyone sees in him. He has a defensive role in this series and so they’re going to look at his offensive numbers. That’s the bad part of being Paul Pierce, really. If it was Tony Allen, people would be happy. He’s doing a great job defensively, but it’s Paul, so they want more. And we’re going to get more out of Paul. I believe that.”

Pierce was asked if he felt like he at least one vintage Paul Pierce game in him for the last three games of the series.

“I hope so, but that’s not something I’m pressing,” he said. “I’m trying to help my team win. Whether it’s scoring or defense, it’s about winning.”

Pierce is also a veteran, and he’s drawing on past experiences to get him through this stretch.

“I’m not a rookie,” Pierce said. “It is my 12th year. I’ve been in every situation. I know I can get through those times mentally. It doesn’t affect me like it used to when I was a younger player, where I had two or three fouls and not really playing the type of basketball I wanted to play. The key is to just stay focused and doing what you can do to help the team. All that other stuff goes out the window.”

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Perkins: ‘Without [Rondo], we’d be dead’ 05.08.10 at 5:04 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Between Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett alone, it has never been easy to pinpoint the best player on the Celtics. Throw the development of Rajon Rondo into the mix this season, and the task is even tougher.

It’s easy, though, for Kendrick Perkins. Not only does he consider Rondo to be the C’s top player, he also considers him their lifeline.

“I think right now, he’s the best player on our team,” Perkins told WEEI.com following practice on Saturday. “Without Rondo, nothing goes. Pretty much we’ve got to play him the whole game because he just runs the whole team. Without him, we’d be dead.”

Rondo is playing a team-high 41 minutes per game in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Cavaliers. His numbers have consistently improved from the regular season throughout the playoffs. In the first three games against the Cavs, he leads with team with 19.3 points and 13.0 assists, more than five points and three assists better than the regular season. He is also shooting 56.8 percent from the field and averaging 5.0 rebounds, more boards than Allen and Pierce.

“I think he stepped up,” said Perkins. “He’s been more focused than ever, in my opinion, and he’s been doing a great job of leading us.”

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Paul Pierce/Kendrick Perkins press conference 05.07.10 at 11:16 pm ET
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Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins speak to the media after suffering an embarrassing 124-95 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Doc Rivers press conference at 11:10 pm ET
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Doc Rivers speaks to the media following the Celtics 124-95 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Celtics mantra for Game 2: Attack 05.02.10 at 4:32 pm ET
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CLEVELAND — Many times in the NBA, the post-game reactions to what just occurred need to be tempered by what you see on the film later. Emotions are high, everyone is looking for that one key moment that changed everything (hello, Mo Williams), but after careful consideration the real truths start to emerge.

But for the Celtics after Game 1, the first impressions were often correct. They started the game by attacking the Cavaliers and then they stopped.

“I thought we settled,” Doc Rivers said. “I said it after the game. Usually after the game you say stuff and then you watch the film and half of it is true, half of it is what you thought you saw. But it’s pretty much what we saw. We bailed out on a lot of shots, quick shots. We didn’t make a lot of next passes, we didn’t attack. We had guys flying at us in the air and we’re still trying to shoot jump shots instead of putting the ball back on the floor. That’s not even an adjustment. That’s what we should do anyway.”

The obvious follow-up question to all that was whether the Celtics were tired at the end of the game after Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo all logged between 38 and 45 minutes of time.

“It had nothing to do with fatigue,” Rivers said. “We settled. It happens.”

It wasn’t that the shots the Celtics took were necessarily bad ones either. Pierce had an open 3 that could have tied the game, but it didn’t fall. Garnett missed a number of shots in the lane, including a follow off an offensive rebound that he can make 99 times out of 100. But, the shots could have been better.

“I think the jumpers that we did get we’re good looks and that I’ll take,” Pierce said. “Doc talks about when the jumpers aren’t falling, you got to take the ball to the bucket. That’s part of the game. I was a little disappointed only going to the free throw line twice. I think I’ve got to be a little more aggressive in the paint. I’ll still take the shots that I took but I have to mix it up a little bit more.”

Pierce started off hot, making four of his five shots in the first quarter, but he was 1-for-12 after that.

What was particularly troubling to Rivers was that the Celtics didn’t handle the Cavs counter-attack very well. Yes, Williams lit up the crowd with a dunk, his first in a game with the Cavs, and yes he then went on a scoring binge, but the Celtics never had an answer for the run.

“We didn’t handle it well,” Rivers said. “We were walking, we didn’t get into our sets so it was easy to get us out of stuff. It was more because frustration was high. It happened, but it can’t happen, especially in a playoff game.”

As they prepared for Game 2, there was little talk of adjustments. Simply more effort and that was as evident Sunday afternoon as it was late Saturday evening.

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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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