|Pierce: ‘I’m a natural born scorer’||04.30.10 at 8:39 pm ET|
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.”
|Rivers on LeBron’s MVP: He deserves it||at 2:53 pm ET|
“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.”
|Time is now for Celtics||04.29.10 at 5:37 pm ET|
WALTHAM — You can tell just by the media crush at the Celtics training facility 12 miles west of Boston on Route 128 that there is a big series about to begin involving the Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The quotes from the participants provide another good clue.
The two teams, as any basketball fan will recall, met in an epic seven-game series in the 2008 playoffs. The series wasn’t decided until the final 30 seconds of Game 7 at the Garden when Paul Pierce and the Celtics outlasted LeBron James and the Cavs.
Before that series, fans and experts hoped for a great series. This time, it’s almost expected. But that’s about where the comparisons end as far as the Celtics are concerned.
‘Two years ago was two years ago,” Pierce said. “They have new players, we have new players. This is a whole new team. This is a different type of team. They’ve got a lot of the same players, we have a lot of the same players but it’s just like you grow up. Things change, you become better. You can’t go off what you did in the past. There’s nothing to that last series.’
Kevin Garnett agreed.
‘They have better players,” Garnett said. “They have Shaq, they have guys that have been there. They have experienced players who were there two years ago. Delonte [West] is better. [Antawn] Jamison is there, has been through the grind. They have better players, more experienced people.’
When the Celtics open their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Cavaliers on Saturday night in Cleveland, it will be the first time in the era of the new ‘Big 3’ they’re opening a playoff series on the road. It will also mark the second time in three seasons the two teams are meeting in the second round.
But whether opening at home or on the road – as will be the case this year – Ray Allen doesn’t believe Boston’s series triumph in 2008 will have much of an impact this time around.
‘I don’t really think it makes a difference,” Allen said following Thursday’s practice. “That was yesterday. Now we’re trying to do this all over again. I’m sure that they remember. Playoffs in their building is tough and we remember Game 7 [in Boston] very vividly but it’s a new series. Even if we did play them last year, it wouldn’t have made a difference then, either. They’re geared up against trying to get past us going to the conference finals. The ground has to give one way or another and we look forward to taking more ground.’
The Celtics were also asked to make another comparison – Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Cleveland’s James – and how beating the former might help them with the latter this series.
‘They’re not close at all, truthfully,” Pierce said. “They have better supporting players. LeBron is playing two or three other guys who have been in the All-Star Game. I can’t say that about Wade. The only similarity is they have one of the top scorers in the league. That’s it. You’re talking about two different players. They’re definitely focal points but other guys, you definitely have to worry about them. There are most consistent players in Cleveland and those guys can beat you also.’
‘LeBron’s a different beast,” added Garnett. “He’s obviously with a better cast than D-Wade. I think D-Wade is one of the best one-on-one players in our game. That’s true with LeBron but I think LeBron defers more to his teammates a little bit, with his supporting cast than D-Wade. He can turn around and he has 35, eight boards and nine assists. That means he’s all-around, not even mentioning the steals and blocks. He affects the game in so many different dimensions.’
|Pierce, KG, Rivers on Glen Davis||04.28.10 at 1:54 am ET|
|Paul Pierce press conference||at 1:51 am ET|
|Richardson: ‘Paul’s a great NBA player’||04.27.10 at 11:10 pm ET|
But on Tuesday, Richardson shared a different opinion after the Heat’s elimination in Game 5.
‘Paul’s a great NBA player,’ he told WEEI.com. ‘That’s the only opinion that really matters, his NBA game. He’s a good NBA player.’
Even though Richardson referred to Pierce as ‘an actress’ in Game 1, he said he never knocked his talent. That’s something that, in spite of their differences on the court, Richardson cannot deny.
‘I’ve always respected his game, never not,’ he said. ‘I mean, he’s an All-Star, he’s a Finals MVP, he has his accolades, and he well deserves them. I take my hat off to him as a basketball player. Nothing will change that.’
|Return trip not in plan for C’s||at 2:01 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The next time Paul Pierce visits South Florida, he wants to be on a beach having fun in the sun.
“There’s a lot of urgency,” Pierce said. “We don’t want to go to Miami. Hopefully the next time I go to Miami, I’ll be on vacation.”
While there was a lot of focus on the 46 points Wade put up in Game 4 on Sunday, on 16-of-24 shooting from the field, Pierce said it’s Wade’s supporting cast of Quentin Richardson and Michael Beasley that must be contained. And that starts with him.
“Other guys like [Carlos] Arroyo and Beasley can’t have big games for them,” Pierce said. “Wade is going to have the ball most of the time. You have to expect him [Wade] to have big numbers because of that. It’s the other guys definitely we have to shut down.”
While Arroyo was held to just six points in 21 minutes, Richardson and Beasley combined for 35 points while making a disturbing 13-of-27 shots from the field. That’s the stat that concerned coach Doc Rivers afterward and it’s what the Celtics must be aware of in Game 5 if they are to avoid the pain of getting on a plane Wednesday for South Florida.
Kevin Garnett had a slightly different take on what will be needed against the Heat. Garnett wants everyone to remember they can’t win the game by themselves.
“I thought, for the most part, everybody wanted to get this settled in Miami and we were trying to do it with one shot instead of one pass,” Garnett said. “We were one step late on a lot of rotations. They threw a zone at us and we were all out of whack with that.”
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Austin Ainge Offers Window to C's Pre-Draft Process
- Trade Possibilities for C's with Draft Approaching
- Latest Buzz Surrounding Jamal Crawford, Kristaps Porzingis, Celtics'...
- Latest NBA Trade Rumors, Buzz
- Ranking Celtics' Biggest NBA Draft Needs
- Buzz Surrounding Ty Lawson, Celtics Draft Plans and More
- Realistic Targets for Celtics to Chase During Offseason