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Saturday, April 17, 2010
Pregame Notes: Rondo's ready

By Chris Forsberg

BOSTON -- A collection of pregame news and notes before the Boston Celtics host the Miami Heat in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round series at the TD Garden:

The rundown (a quick look at the pregame headlines)
* Doc: Rondo improves, unsure of energy level
* Rivers calls upon higher power to help with Wade
* Spoelstra: Heat are playing with more confidence

Doc: Rondo improves, unsure of energy level



Celtics coach Doc Rivers indicated that point guard Rajon Rondo has improved while battling the flu the past few days, and while he'll start Saturday's Game 1, Rivers is uncertain what his energy level is going to be on the floor.

"We had a little walkthrough this morning and he looked better," said Rivers. "I really don't think we'll know, the fact is that he hasn't been able to hold anything down for two days. That's not good for him, but you know how it is with a playoff game. The adrenaline gets going and you make it through. Hopefully he can be who he normally is, then we have a couple days for him to recover after the game."

Rondo is one of three players in the Celtics' locker room battling the flu. Tony Allen missed the final two games of the regular season due to illness, while Glen Davis is battling the bug right now as well (though not as severely as Rondo).

Allen noted before the game it didn't matter how much better he felt because it's playoff time.

"Tony's the only one that feels great since being sick," said Rivers. "Baby is feeling better, but not 100 percent. It's the card group that's sick. It tells us they have to play with gloves on from now on."

Asked what games they played, Rivers quipped: "I don’t know what they're playing, but it has not been healthy for us."

Rivers holds out hope Rondo can perform at a high level.

"I’m hoping Rajon is OK, but you just don’t know until the game starts," said Rivers. "A low-energy Rajon is not a good thing. We have to have him play normal, play hard. If he needs rest in shorter spurts, we’ll do that."

Rivers calls upon higher power to help with Wade

Rivers can't avoid questions on how to slow down Miami's Dwyane Wade, so he keeps the punchlines coming about his fellow Marquette product.

"I called the priest at Marquette to see if he had any information," said Rivers. "He said, 'Pray.'

"Listen, the great players -- the Wades, the Kobes, the LeBrons -- if it was easy to game plan, they wouldn't be great players. They're great because they play well through the game plans. So that's part of it. The number that stands out to us is that he shot 50 percent and averaged 33 points [in three regular-season matchups against Boston]... and the number that really stands out is that he had a lot of assists. We can't allow him to have both. That's the troubling number."

Spoelstra: Heat are playing with more confidence

The last time the Celtics and Heat met, Boston's third triumph of the season series dropped Miami to 24-25 overall. The Heat proceeded to go 23-10 the rest of the way while surging from out of playoff contention, all the way to the fifth seed. So what's changed?

"We have more resiliency, more confidence," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "Our defense at that time of year was just starting to come around. Then during a stretch in January, we built some toughness, some resiliency on the road. We played 21 out of 27 on the road and once the schedule started to turn, our confidence grew. We felt like we could win regardless of the building we were playing in.

"Those two games [against Boston in January and February] were competitive. Give Boston credit. They closed out each of those games in the fourth quarter. Both games we had almost double-digit leads. But Boston made the big play, the big shot, and the big defensive stops to win all those games."

On a lighter note, Spoelstra did say that, despite the rain and cool temperatures, the Heat's stay in Boston has been enjoyable with no technical difficulties that some playoffs team used to encounter in the past.

"No fire alarms and we had hot water," Spoelstra said with a smile. "If I hear another story from [assistant coach Ron] Rothstein about the old building and all the different antics they used. We haven't had that yet. The operative word being, 'yet.'"