|Perkins: ‘Without [Rondo], we’d be dead’||05.08.10 at 5:04 pm ET|
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.’
|Celtics focus on starting small||05.07.10 at 7:11 pm ET|
The Celtics believe if they can end up with big results by starting small.
Their game plan is to focus on the little things that, when executed properly, can result in an advantage in the long run. They are also the things that could wind up hurting them if ignored.
‘I think it just boils down to small things,’ Ray Allen said before Game 3. ‘Just building the small things in the game. Don’t worry about whether the ball goes in, but more importantly moving the ball, keeping turnovers to a minimum, and then getting back on defense.’
The Celtics have paid attention to those details so far. They are outrebounding the Cavs, 226-197, picked off 10 more steals, and committed two less turnovers in the first two games of the series.
‘All those that things, they ultimately add up to getting buckets,’ said Allen. ‘But those habits, if we keep those habits, you start small and as the game goes, the game is being played the right way on both ends.’
|Allen prepared for Cavs defense||05.01.10 at 12:30 am ET|
Allen enters the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals averaging nearly 20 points in the first round. His next opponent, however, is the same team that shut him down offensively in the past.
The Cavaliers held Allen to just 9.3 points per game in the second round of the 2008 playoffs. He only hit four 3-pointers in the seven-game series and shot less than 35 percent from the field. It was a dramatic drop in offensive production.
‘I was put on defense more, but the way they were guarding me in Cleveland, they jumped me every pick-and-roll,’ Allen explained. ‘The way we played, they weren’t letting me come off pin downs. I think in the regular season I was averaging 22 or 23 against them, so their mindset was, ‘We’re not going to let him get involved. We’re going to take everything away from him.’ They did a good job of that.’
Allen was the Celtics leading scorer against the Cavs this regular season, averaging 22.5 points (48.3% FG, 57.7% 3PG) in four games. He expects the Cavaliers to step up their defense in the playoffs and can anticipate how to counter their attack.
‘I just know during the playoffs, they contribute two guys to me, always, just when I’m coming off pin downs,’ Allen said. ‘I have to make the right play, (Rajon) Rondo has to be in the right position, our bigs have to be in the right position, and we have to capitalize off of that. The only way we can force them away from that kind of defense is if we penalize them for doing that.’
The Celtics often practice beating a double-team during shootaround, Allen explained. They run through various scenarios that leave different players open.
Allen also prepares himself for double team by watching game tape. This allows him to see where his teammates are on the court from a different point of view. In most instances, it is either Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, or Rondo’s defender who is helping on D, creating opportunities for them to get open.
‘I’ve just got to know where Kevin is, where Perk is, where Rondo’s going to be,’ he said. ‘Rondo’s man always help, Perk’s man always helps, Kevin’s always flashing if he’s not setting a screen. When I come off a pin down, it happens so fast. So right before I come off a screen, I almost have to look and see what exactly they’re doing, and then I know I can throw it back and go, or Perk is rolling and he’s got a layup, Kevin has a jumpshot. So it’s just like a split-second decision.’
|LeBron’s elbow just funny business to C’s||04.29.10 at 10:38 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Gamesmanship is as common this time of year in the NBA as game planning.
With that being said, no one will know for sure just how big a role the banged up right elbow of LeBron James will play in the Celtics-Cavs series.
But the Celtics have their own sense of the seriousness of the injury to King James.
“He’s fine,” coach Doc Rivers said with a big smile. “I tell you what, if he goes three or four games and shoots left-handed only, then I’ll believe that it’s hurting. We’re going to be ready for the LeBron we’ve seen all through the playoffs.”
Of course, James DID shoot a free throw with his left hand in the Game 5 clincher against Chicago on Tuesday night with 7.2 seconds remaining the Cavaliers up, 96-92.
Added Ray Allen, ‘I don’t even pay attention to it. If there’s something wrong with his elbow or any other part of his body, then he won’t play, and we all know that.”
|Finley settled in for the playoffs||04.28.10 at 11:56 pm ET|
Michael Finley had played in over 110 playoff games when he signed with the Celtics in March. Now he is putting his championship-winning experience to good use, both on the court and in the locker room.
‘My role since I’ve been here really hasn’t changed. I can just be a little bit more vocal now that I’ve been here for a while,’ Finley explained. ‘I just didn’t want to come here right away and be the loud mouth of the locker room. But now the guys feel a little more comfortable with me. I’m able to pull guys to the side, tell them different situations, especially in these playoff series that are important, not only to them, but to our team. And they’re listening and they’re being receptive, and that’s been good.’
The 37-year-old is happy to share the veteran wisdom he has accumulated over the last 15 years, and the C’s are just as happy to receive it.
‘Mike is big,’ said Ray Allen. ‘Most people don’t realize the things that he’s saying, just his advice, just some of the things that he says coming out of timeouts, coming to the bench. You can always tell he wants to win. Even though he came here later on in the season, he’s invested now in what we’re doing. So he’s always making sure, ‘Look for this, this is what’s going to go down,’ or, ‘Ray, you need to do this,’ or ‘Paul you need to make sure ‘¦’ So that’s great coming from the bench and you know that he’s fielding us more information so when we go out there, we’re prepared.’
On the court, Finley is fulfilling his role as a reserve who can come in and make timely plays. Even though he averaged less than three points per game in the first round, he shot an efficient 40 percent from both the field and 3-point range.
On the defensive end, he has picked off three steals in 44 minutes (Paul Pierce has three steals in 193 minutes), and is the only Celtic besides Marquis Daniels (who has played just six minutes) who has not committed a single turnover in the postseason.
Finley stays level-headed, regardless of the scoreboard. He has played in enough postseason games to understand how quickly momentum can change. His proven wisdom will be beneficial as the Celtics shift from eliminating the Heat in the first round to battling the Cavaliers in the second.
‘It’s a playoffs series, and what I’ve learned over the years is, every game is different, every series is different,’ Finley said. ‘Once you win one, the next one is even tougher. You’ve just got to stay humble in victory and don’t get too high with the highs and too lows with the lows. Just try to keep an even keel, especially emotionally.’
|Allen finishes third for Sportsmanship Award||04.26.10 at 4:53 pm ET|
Ray Allen finished third in voting for the 2009-10 NBA Sportsmanship Award. The league announced Grant Hill as the winner of the Joe Dumars Trophy on Monday. Allen was the Atlantic Division winner and received 48 first place votes overall (Hill received 96). The NBA will make a $5,000 donation to Allen’s Ray of Hope Foundation on his behalf. Allen previously won the award in 2003 as a member of the Seattle SuperSonics.
Top 2009-10 voting results:
|Ray Allen’s historic misses||04.25.10 at 7:01 pm ET|
MIAMI — Ray Allen missed three free throws in the span of 46 seconds in Game 4 against the Heat Sunday afternoon. Just how much of an aberration was it? The last time Allen missed that many was Dec. 26, 2006 when he was playing for the Sonics. Allen actually missed four in that game, but it has never happened in a Celtic uniform.
“I felt like I had a bad rhythm,” Allen said. “I missed one the last game and the ball looks on line and it catches the bad part of the rim. For me, I look at it as a fluke when it does that. Sometimes I’m just unlucky. I just got to get back in [the gym] and shoot a couple hundred. It’s just a part of the game. The ball goes and goes out. Obviously you want it to go in. Sometimes there’s just no explanation for it.”
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