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Friday, April 30, 2010
Practice report: C's agree, LeBron the MVP

By Chris Forsberg

WALTHAM, Mass. -- A collection of news and notes after the Boston Celtics practiced Friday at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint in advance of Saturday's Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Cleveland Cavaliers:

The rundown (a quick look at practice headlines)
* No arguments from C's about James as MVP
* Rondo the key to beating the Cavs?
* Loose balls: 'Alright' practice, Pierce a 'natural-born shooter'

No arguments from C's about James as MVP



Celtics coach Doc Rivers and captain Paul Pierce offered no protest when asked about reports that Cleveland's LeBron James had been voted league MVP for the second straight season.

"He deserves it, he earned it all year," said Rivers. "Congratulations, he deserve it. I don't think that, with Kobe [Bryant] and [Kevin] Durant and Dwight [Howard], who I don't think gets enough credit for what he does with their team, there's not a lot of other choices."

Echoed Pierce: "If you asked players, and asked player to be honest, just based on what he achieved in that division and with that team, it should be unanimous."

James is expected to receive the MVP trophy from NBA commissioner David Stern on Sunday at the University of Akron, during an offday between Games 1 and 2 in Cleveland.

Asked if any pregame ceremony to acknowledge the award would be a distraction before Game 2, Rivers said it would only be so for the Cavaliers.

"I hope it's a distraction for them," said Rivers. "It won't be a distraction for us, none of us are getting it. Hopefully he doesn't give a long speech and we can go play basketball."

For more on James' second consecutive MVP award, hop HERE.

Rondo the key to beating the Cavs?



After Doc Rivers anointed him the most important player of the upcoming series, Rajon Rondo laughed off the title.

"He's putting pressure on me, huh?" said Rondo.

In fact he did.

"I think Rondo is the key to the series," said Rivers, who, over the past two days, has also pointed to rebounding, defending the 3-point shot, limiting the Cavaliers' bench, and keeping James in check as other 'key' factors.

"His speed has to be a factor. He has to be disruptive defensively with his speed and ball pressure. They are going to help off him and he's got to handle that well. Really how well he handles them dropping off him and not guarding him will be the key to us winning. When he's effective, our whole team is effective."

That doesn't necessarily mean Rondo needs to hit all those open jumpers the Cavaliers will give him. But when the ball comes to him and defenders are scrambling to help, Rondo needs to make them pay at times by exploding to the basket and creating opens look for teammates.

Rivers noted that Miami employed a similar loose defensive style against Rondo in the final games of Boston's first-round triumph and expects Cleveland to utilize that same strategy from the onset.

For his part, Rondo said he hasn't changed his own game to compensate for disinterested defenses, particularly due to Boston's success as a team.

"We’ve been winning and successful," he said. "I'll continue to do what I do best and make adjustments as the game goes on."

As for his health, Rondo deemed himself "fine" after battling a stomach bug in Game 5.

Loose balls: 'Alright' practice, Pierce a 'natural-born shooter'



* Rivers didn't seem thrilled with his team's practice Friday before catching a plane to Cleveland, but noted Boston is ready for Saturday's Game 1.

"It was alright -- it wasn't a great practice, it wasn't a bad practice," said Rivers. "We did get a lot of work in, got a lot of stuff in. Guys are just ready to play."

After a two-hours session Thursday, the Celtics were on the court for over an hour Friday making final preparations for the start of the series.

* After discussing the many ways James can hurt a defense, Pierce was asked about whether he is more comfortable shooting from the perimeter or driving to the basket.

"I think I'm comfortable doing anything," said Pierce. "I don't limit myself to being a shooter or a driver. I'm a natural-born scorer. I think I can do it all over the court. If a shot is there, I'm going to take it. I'm a threat all over the court."