Boston Celtics: LeBron James

Rapid Reaction: LeBron's return + C's

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
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Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe next time the Celtics see LeBron James, he'll be back in the Cavaliers' colors.
A handful of thoughts after LeBron James told SI.com on Friday that he is returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers:

C'S PLAYED ROLE: The Boston Celtics played a small part in helping James land back in Cleveland by absorbing salary as part of Wednesday's three-team trade with the Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets. In acquiring Tyler Zeller, Marcus Thornton and Cleveland's 2016 first-round pick, Boston helped the Cavaliers create enough cap space to offer James a maximum contract. The Celtics facilitated the deal knowing full well what Cleveland was trying to do. As Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday: "It could end up being a good deal for [the Cavaliers]. We're all waiting to see what's going on with their cap space. I wish I was in their position."

NEW BEAST OF THE EAST? While James acknowledged in his essay on SI.com that it could take some time to establish Cleveland as a championship contender, that didn't stop some from installing the Cavaliers as the favorite to immediately win next season's title (Bovada.lv moved them to 4-1, while the Heat plummeted to 50-1, essentially flip-flopping previous odds). But James' hopping from one Eastern Conference team to another is unlikely to change the complexion of the East, too much. Said Ainge: "Wherever LeBron goes, the team is a contender. That's how good a player he is."

C'S FANS WON'T LOVE THIS: The one thing that James' return to Cleveland might have done is further remove Boston from the hunt for Kevin Love. The Cavaliers could potentially turn around and try to peddle recent top picks like Andrew Wiggins or Anthony Bennett to Minnesota in exchange for Love. That's a far more glitzy rebuilding package than even Boston, with its surplus of picks, can offer. If the Celtics truly covet Love, their best chance might be if he makes it through to unrestricted free agency next summer when Boston has the potential to free some serious cap space.

NO SCHADENFREUDE FOR AINGE, BUT CELTICS FANS ... : Ainge previously drew the ire of Heat president Pat Riley, who told the Celtics GM to "Shut the f--- up and manage his own team." But Ainge contends he will take no pleasure in watching James leave Miami. "No, I don't take any pleasure in anyone's pain," said Ainge. "I know this is a tough business [with] free agency, and it's all part of what we all go through. I certainly don't take any joy in seeing great players leave organizations that have been good to them." Ainge might not take pleasure in watching James leave Miami, but Celtics fans certainly will. After the Heat got the better of Boston, lured away Ray Allen, and essentially ended the C's Big Three era, Boston fans will revel in bringing Miami back to the pack.

CAVS A HOT TICKET: When the NBA schedule is released in August, it's fair to say that Celtics-Cavaliers games will be a bit more popular than in recent seasons. The Boston-Cleveland rivalry was among the league's best when the C's Big Three were antagonizing James, and the Celtics certainly wouldn't mind rekindling that at some point as both teams seek to return to contender status.

DOMINOES CAN START FALLING: While the first week and a half of free agency hasn't lacked drama, James' decision will likely help dominoes start falling across the league. Now Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony can make decisions about their futures. The trickle-down effect will allow Boston to maneuver further, something the C's must do since they have 17 players under contract and are over the luxury-tax line at the moment. The Celtics might not make a big splash this summer, but expect them to continue to eye moves that can reduce the roster logjam and bring back additional future-minded assets.

Grantland: History of Pierce vs. LeBron

May, 6, 2014
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Grantland: Pierce vs. LeBron

Tonight, the latest chapter in a rivalry that has spanned six years, four teams, all types of dramatic fourth-quarter duels, all manners of grit-n-grind loose-ball dives, and at least one salacious May-December (rumored!) romance, opens. Tonight, the Brooklyn Nets face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. And so tonight, once again (for the 26th time, to be exact), Paul Pierce and LeBron James will duke it out in a playoff game. Now, let us take a trip down memory lane!

The Prelude


Their personal playoff trajectories wouldn’t line up until 2008, but way before the stakes were high, these dudes were chippy. As Brian Windhorst writes in this great 2012 piece on the rivalry, it started in LeBron’s rookie year, during a game in which Pierce had laid down a hard foul on James, then quickly started chattering with “Otis Carter, the father of James’ friend Maverick Carter and someone whom James considers an uncle.”

LeBron would net 37, a rookie high, but Pierce one-upped him with 41 and Boston won the game. Reports Windhorst, “He told James late in the game he needed to tell Carter to be quiet or he’d go for 50 points. Or at least that is how the story goes.” Mixing it up not with the dude, but with the dude’s uncle? Arguably one of the more Paul Pierce–ish moves of all time. Even when he was a young man, he was an old man.

There were two more notable regular-season incidents, via Windhorst. In 2004, during a preseason game at Ohio State, “Pierce spit toward the Cavs’ bench, for which he was later fined $15,000 … in the dressing room area after the game … tempers flared again in the hallway [and] Pierce’s teammates had to literally carry him away to prevent an altercation.” And in 2006, the two would have a tête-à-tête in Boston, to the tune of 43 for The King and 50 for The Truth.

[Read full story on Grantland.com]
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesIt's LeBron James vs. Paul Pierce, again.
We've told this story before, but it seems appropriate again now...

In the aftermath of Boston's 2007-08 championship season, the Celtics held a championship DVD viewing party at the Legends Club inside TD Garden. While most players mingled, Paul Pierce sat at the bar, a glass of wine in hand, and shook his head as he watched highlights from Boston's second-round triumph over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"Man, LeBron is a beast," Pierce sighed to no one in particular while watching another slow-motion sequence in which James and Pierce drew cringe-worthy contact, sweat droplets scattering in every direction with every car-crash type collision.

And now they'll meet again, and you might as well call them the Brooklyn Celtics because it's clear who Boston will be rooting for when the Nets and Heat meet in the 2014 Eastern Conference semifinals.

How does Pierce feel about another joust with James? From our friends at ESPN New York:
There won’t be happy feelings when Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett renew their rivalry with LeBron James and the Miami Heat. But it certainly feels like old times all over again with LeBron battling Pierce and Garnett in a best-of-seven series.

“Yeah, it’s seeming like that, eh?” Garnett said after the Nets survived 104-103 in a Game 7 win over Toronto. “It seems like that. It seems like we’re seeing [Dwyane] Wade and LeBron for the past seven, eight years.

“That’s what it is, man,” Garnett continued. “The best is playing the best. All right? You guys take it easy.”

Let the rivalry start up again. The two former Celtics will be facing James for the fifth time in seven postseasons, dating back to when James was a Cleveland Cavalier.

Garnett and Pierce have split the four meetings with James but haven't beaten their nemesis since he joined the Heat. In the 25 playoff games they have played during those four series, Pierce and Garnett are 12-13 overall against James. Their last playoff meeting in 2012 went seven games, with Miami surviving against Boston in the Eastern Conference finals.

Pierce relishes every opportunity he gets to play against James. This season, Pierce averaged 21 points against Miami and helped lead the Nets to a regular-season sweep (4-0) of the Heat. It was the first time James has lost four straight to a team in a regular season in his career.

“I rank LeBron as one of the greatest players to ever play the game,” Pierce said. “A tremendous athlete, four-time MVP, two-time champion, he’s already passed so many greats that we still talk about. And when you play against the best, as a competitor, you want those moments.

“I consider myself a great competitor who wants to be in those moments, who wants to play against who people call the best,” Pierce added. “Just over the years matching up with him, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, all the guys who were in my era who were great wing men, you want those moments.”
ESPN New York: Pierce, KG meet King James ... again

Notebook: King's welcome for Stevens

March, 19, 2014
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BOSTON -- LeBron James doesn't give a king's welcome to every new NBA coach, but even a player who skipped the college level took note of what Brad Stevens accomplished at Butler.

That's why James took a moment during the first Celtics-Heat meeting of the season to greet Stevens on the sideline.

"I didn't plan to do it; it just happened," James explained before the Celtics posted a 101-96 triumph over his Heat at TD Garden on Wednesday night. "A well-respected college coach, what he was able to do in taking that Butler team to two straight Final Four appearances, and he seems like a pretty cool guy. I don't know him personally, but he seems cool. Welcome to the NBA. It's pretty cool."

Stevens called James "kind" for the early-season acknowledgment. It turns out Stevens recruited one of James' best friends, Romeo Travis, who elected to sign with hometown Akron and went on to be Mid-American Conference Player of the Year.

"I would have loved to have recruited [James]," quipped Stevens. "Wasn’t in the cards."

James' appreciation of mid-major basketball only grew this season. He noted that his cousin, Darius Carter, plays for undefeated Wichita State.

James sat out Wednesday's game due to back spasms. Stevens said he hopes it's a short-term injury, but didn't exactly fret about all that wasted preparation when James was a late scratch.

"Well, listen, if it’s a choice of playing against LeBron or not, then I’ll plan for him until whenever," quipped Stevens.



NO DECISION ON BABB

Chris Babb's second 10-day contract is scheduled to expire Thursday night, but Stevens said no decision has been made about whether the rookie wing will be retained for the rest of the season.

Babb logged his fourth consecutive DNP on Wednesday night against the Heat. After the game, he said he had not been informed about his future. The Celtics do not practice Thursday and have an afternoon flight to New York in advance of Friday's game against the Brooklyn Nets.

"Haven't talked about it at all; don’t know what will happen at the end of that," said Stevens. "I know that we are thin on wings with size. That being said, he’s a wing with size. What we do moving forward, I don’t know. I love having him around. I think he’s great. He’s an unbelievable teammate. And I think when he’s played, he’s given us good minutes."

In six appearances since being signed from the Maine Red Claws of the D-League earlier this month, Babb has averaged 2.2 points, 1.3 rebounds and 11.5 minutes per game.

Hop HERE for more on the decision Boston faces on Babb.



NOT A CENTER OF ATTENTION

In 30 games since being shipped from Miami to Boston, Joel Anthony has appeared in only 13 games for a total of 57 minutes. His most recent appearance saw him log no actual game time as he was inserted for end-of-half defensive purposes before the opponent threw away an inbounds pass (and Anthony was promptly subbed back out as Boston went back on offense). Still, Stevens said he's committed to getting a look at Anthony if the opportunity arises.

"Joel is probably our one true 5, and he’s not playing as much [as Boston's surplus of power forwards], but I hope that we get an opportunity where he plays here and there, because I think he’s a guy that I’d like to see how he can protect the rim for us and defend the post," said Stevens.

LeBron calls out ex-Celts over Ray Allen

October, 17, 2013
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NEW YORK -- Thursday night when they Heat face the Nets for the first time since Brooklyn's league-shaking summer trade, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade think some ex-Celtics on the Nets might owe the ex-Celtic on the Heat an apology.

A year ago there was a stream of vitriol from Boston aimed at Ray Allen after he chose to sign with the Heat in the offseason. Kevin Garnett said he lost Allen's number, Paul Pierce said he hadn't forgiven him and Doc Rivers implied Allen had an ego problem.

Now all three of them are also out of Boston, agreeing to go to teams seemingly on the brink of contention instead of sticking around for Boston's rebuilding project. Garnett waived his no-trade clause so he could go to Brooklyn in a package with Pierce after he agreed to the deal. Rivers engineered his own trade that allowed him to become the coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.

All have said in various ways that it was a tough decision but they wanted to move on to a better situation. That was essentially Allen's position in 2012 and James and Wade aren't afraid to hint at hypocrisy.

"I think the first thing I thought was, 'Wow, Ray got killed for leaving Boston and now these guys are leaving Boston,'" James said.

"I think it's OK, I didn't mind it. But there were a couple guys who basically (expletive) on Ray for leaving and now they're leaving. That's the nature of our business, man. I don't know what Boston was going through at the end of the day. I know Ray had to make the best decision for him and his family and his career. Doc, KG and Paul did that as well. You can't criticize someone who does something that's best for their family."

Wade is slightly more diplomatic but it is clear this has been a topic of conversation in the Heat locker room in the wake of the trade that sent the two future Hall of Famers to Brooklyn in July.

"We all know the world, how it works. The biggest thing is Ray is happy (in Miami). If they're happy in Brooklyn then let them be happy," Wade said.

Hop HERE to read the full story.

Cuban defends Terry's dunk defense

March, 21, 2013
3/21/13
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Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/GettyJason Terry shoots over LeBron James during the NBA Finals.
In the reignited LeBron James vs. Jason Terry feud, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban praised his former guard's fearlessness in stepping into the line of danger while trying to defend a dunk on Monday. From our friends at ESPN Dallas:
Terry's refusal to back down from any situation is one of the things that endeared him to Cuban and others in Dallas. Perhaps the most famous example was after the Mavs fell behind 2-1 to the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals, with Terry being shut out by James in the fourth quarter of both losses. Terry declared the next day that he wanted to see James defend him like that for an entire seven-game series. Terry averaged 20 points per game in the next three contests and sank a clutch 28-footer over James to seal the Game 5 win, as the Mavs won the franchise's lone title.

"[Terry] has got almost carte blanche," said Cuban, who mentioned that Mavs fans should give Terry a standing ovation when the Celtics come to the American Airlines Center on Friday.

That doesn't make it a wise move for the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Terry to try to challenge the 6-foot-8, 250-pound James, does it? "I don't know what his plan was, but his plan certainly wasn't to avoid whatever it was [James] wanted to do," Cuban said. "And I give him credit for that. If he was trying to take a charge, that's one thing. If he was going straight up and down -- you can create contact and it's still not a foul -- that's a way you might stop him. If he got caught in between, that's what happens.

"At least he didn't back down. He deserves credit for that."

Hop HERE to read the full story.

James on Terry dunk: 'Glad it happened'

March, 20, 2013
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CLEVELAND -- It’s fair to say LeBron James has no regrets about putting one of the dunks of the year on Boston Celtics guard and personal rival Jason Terry Monday night.

James created one of the season’s best highlights when he surprised Terry on a fastbreak and dunked over him, sending Terry to the court. Speaking before the Miami Heat took on the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday, James said he felt the play enacted some revenge on Terry for smack talk he’s directed and James and the Heat over the last several season.

“I’ve had a chance to (review) it and it was one of my better ones,” James said. “The fact that it happened to J.T. made it that much sweeter. Because we all know J.T. and he talks too much sometimes. And I’m glad it happened to him.”

The James-Terry rivalry started during the 2011 when Terry said James wouldn’t be able to guard him effectively for the entire NBA Finals when the Heat took on Terry's Dallas Mavericks. Terry finished the series strong offensively and the Mavericks won the title, 4-2.

“I'm welcoming the challenge,” Terry said in ‘11. “We're going to see if he can do it for seven games.”

Last week, Terry said he wasn’t impressed with the Heat’s then 21-game winning streak.

“(I’m) not really impressed with it or anything that they do,” Terry said.

Doc said Terry made right play vs. James

March, 19, 2013
3/19/13
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Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty ImagesMiami's LeBron James dunked over Boston's Jason Terry during Monday's game.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Jason Terry made the right play stepping up to defend LeBron James' alley-oop slam during Monday's game at TD Garden.

Making his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI (93.7 FM), Rivers backed his veteran for stepping up against James, who delivered a vicious jam that left Terry tumbling to the floor.

"I love it," Rivers said. "I wish [Terry] could have taken him down before he got to the dunk. And I said the same thing about Brandon Knight [when he got dunked on by Clippers center DeAndre Jordan last week]. Listen, you should have fun. It was a great dunk, and knocked Jason down, or Brandon down. With the new age of Twitter and all that, it’s fun and I have no problem with people having fun. But just like Brandon took it very well, so did Jason. And they both made the right plays.

"I hate when I hear people talking about getting out the way because they don’t want to get embarrassed. That bugs the heck out of me. You have to stick your nose in there if you want to be a champion. I thought that was what you should do."

Rivers was asked if he was OK with James getting tagged with a technical in the aftermath and quipped, "Well, I like it because we got a [free throw] out of it. I don't ever mind that." Rivers acknowledged that the technical was to prevent any further dust-up after the play.

Terry, who has an open disdain for the Heat stemming from two NBA Finals matchups against the team, including a loss to Miami in the 2006 Finals, should only be further motivated against James and the Heat moving forward.

Terry's name was still trending on Twitter 15 hours after the dunk.

Green Day: Limiting LeBron

January, 29, 2013
1/29/13
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Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY SportsJeff Green applies defensive pressure on LeBron James during Sunday's win at TD Garden.
Much of the positives from Boston's double-overtime triumph over rival Miami on Sunday was masked by the news of Rajon Rondo's season-ending ACL tear. But one player that deserves a belated spotlight is Jeff Green for his defensive efforts in limiting LeBron James.

Green wasn't perfect, but he played gritty defense on James and limited his scoring output. James scored 34 points on 14-of-31 shooting over 52 minutes, but much of his damage was done when someone other than Green was defending.

According to Synergy Sports individual defensive data, Green allowed a mere 0.75 points per play overall on Sunday as opponents were 5-of-17 shooting (29.4 percent) against him. Here's a closer look at plays that James finished with Green defending:


The final tally for Green defending James: 3-for-11 shooting (27.3 percent) with one foul and a total of nine points allowed. Given that James averages around a point per possession this season, limiting him to nine points on 12 possessions is a stellar afternoon for Green. But maybe we shouldn't be surprised.

(Read full post)

Doc: LeBron 'deserves' his 'payback night'

October, 30, 2012
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Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers joked that his team would be watching the hit series “Homeland” in the locker room while the Miami Heat had their ring ceremony prior to Tuesday night’s season opener between the clubs, but said LeBron James and company deserved the honor after winning last season’s NBA title.

The Heat defeated the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals in seven games and beat the Oklahoma City in the NBA Finals.

“I won't take this moment for granted,” James said at the Heat’s morning shootaround in Miami. “It doesn't happen to everyone. I know the history of the game. I'm going to live in the moment, I'm not going to sit here and say that I'm not.

“I'll live in the moment because it is not given. I know, I've seen it over and over and over as the years go on.”

Ironically, James and his Cleveland Cavaliers had to witness the Celtics hang Banner 17 in the TD Garden rafters on opening night 2008. The Celtics defeated the Cavs in the Eastern Conference semifinals en route to the 2007-08 title.

“They get to have their day,” Rivers said Tuesday morning. “We had our day and LeBron had to sit and watch that. He’s probably been through several of them now that I think of it. This time it’s his payback night and he deserves it.”

How will the Heat respond on what is sure to be an emotional night for them? Rivers remembered being moved by the opening night ceremony in 2008 and predicted his team would struggle in the game that immediately followed.

“When Paul (Pierce) started crying I remembered turning to my assistant coach and saying ‘We have no chance tonight’ instead of thinking about how nice it was that he was emotional.”

The Celtics actually won that game, 90-85, after trailing by seven points at halftime.

After the Heat won the 2006 NBA title, they got blown out on the night they got their rings at the start of the 2006-07 season, losing to the Chicago Bulls by 42 points. Dwyane Wade was on that team and will participate in his second ring ceremony Tuesday night.

“I am not a good example of the ring ceremony so I keep my mouth shut,” Wade said Tuesday. “I don't want to relive that moment. We didn't do it right so I can't give nobody any advice. If anything, do the opposite of what we did.”

As for what he expects from the Celtics tonight, Rivers said he anticipated it would only be a building block to better things, not a pinnacle.

“Whatever you do tonight, hopefully it’s not the best night of the year,” Rivers said. “That’s the way I always look at opening night. It’s a season of building and it’s a process you have to go through. After the game is over it’s just one game.

“Obviously you’re playing Miami and you add in the Ray (Allen) component to that, even though I don’t think it means as much as people think it does. … I’m sure we’ll be up and they’ll be up, but I guarantee (Heat coach) Erik (Spoelstra) will say the same thing. If this is your best game of the year then you’re in trouble.”

Rivers said he hasn’t spoken with Allen in Miami and didn’t say whether he intended to. Tuesday will mark the first time Allen will face the Celtics in a Heat uniform. Allen defected from the Celtics to join the Heat in the offseason, despite a more lucrative offer from Boston.

As for the makeup of his starting lineup for tonight’s opener, Rivers was mum.

“We’ll tell it later,” he said. “It’s no big deal but we’ll tell it later.”

Information from ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh was used in this report.

For King James, rich get richer

July, 6, 2012
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Miami Heat star LeBron James took a 140-character victory lap after learning his team's recruitment of Ray Allen had succeeded:


First an NBA title and now another Hall of Fame teammate for the next three seasons. To the victor goes the spoils.

C's offer high praise of LeBron

June, 10, 2012
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Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesCeltics coach Doc Rivers and LeBron James shared a moment after Game 7 in Miami.
MIAMI -- After the Heat defeated the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night, Boston coach Doc Rivers and Miami's LeBron James shared an embrace and a short conversation on the floor at AmericanAirlines Arena.

What was shared between coach and rival player?

"Well, I illegally recruited -- I told him we're going to have a lot of money (available for free agency this summer) and I didn't know when his optout is," joked Rivers. "No, I didn't do any of that. No, he told` me he's very proud of the team and everything. And I basically told them to go do it. I'm proud of him. I think, again, he gets too much heat... Like I said earlier, he's wonderful."

During the off day between Games 6 and 7, Rivers had gone to bat for James during a conference call amidst all the criticism for his lack of winning the big game.

"I said it last year: He's a great player. I don't know what else he can do," said Rivers. "He does the right thing. When he makes the right pass and the guy misses the shot, he's criticized. When he forces a shot in a double team, he's criticized. It's the way it is for him, for whatever reason. He's competitive as heck. He's one of the most powerful players to ever play the game. And maybe it isn't enough. I don't know."

Asked if he could think of an athlete as scrutinized as James, Rivers -- a golf junkie -- suggested only Tiger Woods would be a comparison.

"Tiger over the last two or three years," said Rivers. "Other than that, no one. No athlete that I can ever remember being under that scrutiny, definitely in basketball. I've never seen anyone under the scrutiny that LeBron James is under."

Asked after the Game 7 loss if James had shown him something, Keyon Dooling offered some hefty support for the league MVP as well.

"No, no, no, no. I've never bought into this whole persona that LeBron isn't the guy," said Dooling. "I think everybody should relax a little bit. He's great for our game, he is our game. We need to uplift him, instead of trying to tear him down. He's a guy who's the most unselfish superstar I've ever seen. He rebounds the ball, he assists the ball, he's empowered his friends from the community, he does a lot of charity work in the community, he's a model citizen. He should not have a stain on his reputation, and I hope that it stops."

No laughing matter: KG upset by loss

May, 29, 2012
5/29/12
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Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesWith the Heat en route to victory, LeBron James could laugh at Kevin Garnett's trash talk.
MIAMI -- The Miami Heat already owned a 15-point lead with under four minutes to play when LeBron James absorbed a hard foul from Kevin Garnett under the basket. As Garnett barked into James' ear after the play, Miami's star guard -- nearing the end of a 32-point, 13-rebound effort -- simply held out the ball and appeared to laugh at any trash talk Garnett was spewing.

Asked after Miam's 93-79 Game 1 triumph at AmericanAirlines Arena whether the Heat were showboating a bit as they ran away with a win to open the Eastern Conference finals, Garnett suggested that they had earned the right to puff out their chests a little bit.

"It's all good," said Garnett. "They're home, they're comfortable. And when you're comfortable, you do things like that. We've got to make sure we take them out of their comfort zone and fight a little harder."

Garnett and the Celtics were more troubled by how easily the Heat appeared to get to the rim at times during Monday's game, converting easy layups while Boston struggled to generate any sort of offensive consistency outside of a 35-point second-quarter outburst.

"They got more layups, man," said Garnett. "We can't beat this team by giving them layups. I thought they did a real good job of being aggressive, getting to the basket. I thought in the first half we did a decent job of keeping them floating a little bit, and second half they just got what they wanted. We've got to be more disciplined on defense and believe in it."

Garnett wasn't happy to look for silver linings, even after Boston's strong finish to the first half left the game tied at the intermission.

"This is not our best basketball, so I believe we have better basketball in us, and in order for us to stay alive, we've got to play better," he said. "And we will."

And pressed on whether those breakdowns in Game 1 were the result of individual or team breakdowns, Garnett barked, "It doesn't even matter. They laid it up. Whether it was breakdowns, whether we weren't in our spots or the scheme didn't work, or whatever it was, we have to put in more of a fight, and more of an effort."

Clearly, the loss was no laughing matter for Garnett.

In focus: LeBron vs. Green

May, 1, 2011
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Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesDefending the likes of LeBron James is one reason the Celtics traded for Jeff Green.
MIAMI -- When the Celtics acquired Jeff Green at the NBA trade deadline, team brass pointed to his ability to help guard elite wings as a chief reason Boston pulled the trigger on the deal that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City.

The spotlight will be on Green starting with Sunday's Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Miami Heat as he'll be a key component in helping to defend LeBron James.

So how has Green performed while guarding James during his career? It's a limited sampling -- a mere 14 plays -- but, according to ESPN Stats and Info, James is 3-of-12 shooting (25 percent) with seven points and two turnovers when defended by Green.

The Celtics would be quite pleased if that trend continued in this round of the playoffs. During marches to the NBA Finals in two of the last three seasons, Boston has benefited from defensive-minded reserve wings, like Tony Allen last season and James Posey during the 2008 title campaign.

Now Green will face those lofty expectations, while trying to spell captain Paul Pierce for stretches.

"I just have to do the job and do the best I can on [James]," said Green. "It's not just me guarding him, it's a team effort. No one man can stop LeBron James, [like] no one man can stop Kobe [Bryant]. It doesn't take one guy to stop one guy, you've got to do it as a team.

"Paul is the key to our team. He's the person who makes us go, so for me to go in and come in with energy and play whoever I'm guarding tough, it's going to help our team out."

LeBron takes talents to Fenway Sports

April, 6, 2011
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James
James
Miami Heat superstar LeBron James now has a Boston connection as he is partnering with Red Sox ownership in a marketing deal that lands him a minority stake in the Liverpool soccer club.
FSM is owned by Fenway Sports Group, which is headed by Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner. FSG is the parent company of the Red Sox and Liverpool FC and a co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing.

"We're not interested in talent or athlete representation but we think he is one of the most remarkable athletes of his time," Werner told the Journal on Tuesday. "We believe we can open doors for LeBron and LeBron can open doors for us."

The partnership seems a peculiar one from a Boston perspective, as James is a renowned fan of the Red Sox's biggest rival, the New York Yankees, as well as a member of a team that is battling the Boston Celtics for the No. 2 playoff seed in the NBA's Eastern Conference.

"I am thrilled to be working with John Henry and Tom Werner," James said, according to a FSM news release. "These guys, like me, have a passion for sports. You can see the drive and commitment they have for their teams. For me, this is about being in business with an organization that loves sports as much as I do."

The Celtics and James' Heat are currently tied in the standings while jousting for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with five games remaining in the regular season. The two teams meet Sunday in Miami.

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Sports Illustrated's Peter King weighs in on the Patriots' offensive line, the outlook for New England, Jim Harbaugh's relationship with his team and the Cowboys' success.

Opening Rant, 9/30

Colin Cowherd shares his thoughts on the state of the Patriots, New England's offense and Brady Hoke's future at Michigan.

First Take

Skip Bayless & Stephen A. Smith debate if the Patriots dynasty is over, if the 49ers have stopped listen to Jim Harbaugh and more. Plus, they make their World Series predictions.

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9