Thursday, April 29, 2010
Practice report: C's not concerned with LeBron's elbow
By Chris Forsberg
WALTHAM, Mass. -- A collection of news and notes after the Boston Celtics practiced Thursday at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint in advance of Saturday's Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Cleveland Cavaliers:
Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn't need to see an MRI to diagnose Cleveland superstar LeBron James' ailing right elbow.
"He's fine," said Rivers. "I'll tell you what, if he goes three or four games and shoots left-handed only, then I'll believe he's hurt. Other than that, we'll be ready for the LeBron we've seen all playoffs."
The Celtics practiced for a shade over two hours Thursday afternoon and news of James' diagnosis -- an elbow strain and bone bruise, according to the team -- probably hadn't made its way through the locker room. But it didn't matter. Players and coaches were fully expecting to see James on the court Saturday.
And they were expecting the same level of play from the soon-to-be MVP.
"LeBron with a bad elbow is still better than 95 percent of the league," shrugged Celtics captain Paul Pierce. "So it doesn’t matter."
When a new pack of reporters wandered over and repeated the query, Pierce reiterated: "I'm treating it like he's 100 percent."
Echoed Kendrick Perkins: "I don't know, it's just crazy, the whole elbow situation, how he made one with his right arm, then got hurt, [and shot] with his left. That whole situation is crazy. But we're not worried about what's going on with their end. We're worried about us."
KG: LeBron's a different beast
A lot of the practice chatter centered around whether the Celtics could employ the same sort of "superstar defense" they used on Miami's Dwyane Wade on James. Opinions varied at times, but there were two prevalent thoughts: 1) James' supporting cast is far more talented than Wade's and 2) LeBron is just otherworldly himself.
"[James forces teams to] give every ounce on the defensive end," said Garnett. "He's going to put so much pressure on you, defensively. Great players, man, you can't do much about them. You try to slow them down; make them look for their 'B' or 'C' move. The key is controlling everybody else. But they have so many different weapons from Mo [Williams] to [Shaquille O'Neal] to [Anderson] Varejao off the bench, and a lot of people don't think about Delonte [West] giving them a spark. They're very much connected and they play connected. We have to be ready."
And the James-Wade comparisons?
"LeBron is a different beast," said Garnett. "Obviously he has a better cast than D-Wade, who is one of the best 1-on-1 players, as is LeBron too, but he probably defers to his teammates a little bit... in that he can turn around 35 [points] with 8 boards and 9 assists. That mean he's all-around. And that doesn't even mention the steals or blocks."
Perk on Shaq, battle of the bigs
Celtics center Kendrick Perkins said he's a Shaq fan. Just not right now.
"I can't be a fan right now," said Perkins. "I gotta go against him. I respect him, he's arguably the best center of all time. But I gotta go get him now."
Perkins noted the battle of the bigs might decide this series, particularly with the mix-and-match abilities that Cleveland boasts.
"They're deep with their bigs," he said. "They start with Jamison and Shaq, but come off the bench with [J.J.] Hickson, Varejao, [Zydrunas] Ilgauskas, or maybe Leon [Powe]. We just gotta be able to match up with them. And I think we got it, guys who can matchup great. [Glen Davis] and Rasheed [Wallace] will be huge for us."