Celtics Take on LeBron

Doc Rivers got a chance to see another side of LeBron James in February, when the Celtics coach was running the Eastern Conference All-Star team and the Cavaliers forward was winning the game's MVP award for the second time.

It wasn't the shooting: Rivers has seen James score 30 points just about every time he's played Boston. Or the rebounding that led Rivers to dub James ``Shaq-at-guard.'' Or the passing the coach compared to a Nolan Ryan fastball.

``His focus in the timeouts,'' Rivers said after practice on Monday. ``It actually caught me off guard. His eyes were like beaming at me. You don't see that often. Especially not at the All-Star game.''

Rivers will have to watch James work from the other bench on Tuesday night when Cleveland comes to Boston for Game 1 of their second-round playoff series. Unfortunately, he didn't pick anything up while coaching James that will help him coach against him.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Boston -10 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 209.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 53% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -10 (View NBA Bet Percentages). Bet this game.

``I wish,'' Rivers said with a laugh. ``As a matter of fact, I saw things the other way.''

Before being held to a mere 26 points in their final regular-season matchup, James scored 30 or more in nine straight games against the Celtics - something only Wilt Chamberlain can match. Seven of those performances came before Boston put together its Big Three, though.

In three games this season, James averaged 32 points, seven rebounds and just under 10 assists.

``You've always got to keep an eye on him wherever he is on the court,'' said Paul Pierce, who will be primarily responsible for guarding the person he called ``arguably the best player in the NBA.''

``I'm not trying to turn this into a one-on-one. I know that I don't have to get 35 points and 15 rebounds for us to win.''

That's because while Cleveland is largely LeBron and his supporting cast, the Celtics can boast three legitimate stars in Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Pierce and Allen also joined James at the All-Star game; Garnett sat out with an abdominal strain after finishing first in the NBA in fan voting.

Allen obviously enjoyed being James' teammate: The Celtics guard scored a game-high 28 points and made three straight 3-pointers in the last 3:15 to lead the East to victory.

What did he learn from playing with James?

``If I'd taken two more shots,'' Allen said with a smile, ``I probably would have won the MVP.''

Boston plays lip service to worrying about the rest of the Cavaliers, but Cleveland really has to spread its defense to cover the three All-Stars.

``I think with (Garnett), Ray and Paul, they feel like it's their time,'' Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas said. ``They had such a great regular season and they feel like this is their shot at winning it all. Because the longer you stay in the league, you realize how few and far between they are. They feel like this is their year.''

The Celtics won an NBA-best 66 games in the regular season, then needed seven games to put away the upstart Atlanta Hawks in the first round. Cleveland needed six games to dispatch the Washington Wizards in the first round, winning the clincher when James scored 27 with 13 rebounds and 13 assists.

The Celtics and Cavaliers split their four games this season, with James and Garnett each sitting one out. Both teams won both games at home - a bad sign for Cleveland, which would have to win at least one in Boston to advance.

Although they couldn't beat Boston, the Hawks did give the Cavaliers some hope.

``They kind of had that arrogance about them all season by winning so many games that you were kind of not wanting to face them,'' Cavaliers guard Devin Brown said after practice on Monday. ``But after seeing what we saw, I think we're ready to go.''

Get real live customizable updates, public betting info from 6 online sports books, archived public betting info and much more by clicking here.

NBA Headlines

  • CLEVELAND (AP) Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert will miss a week with a left knee injury, the latest setback for a Cleveland point guard.
    With Derrick Rose and Isaiah Thomas out with injuries, S...
  • DENVER (AP) New Orleans forward Anthony Davis left the Pelicans' game against Denver on Friday night in the opening minute of the third quarter with a concussion.
    Davis was inadvertently hit ...
  • NEW YORK (AP) The Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Friday.
    The procedure was performed by Dr. Riley Williams III at the Hospital for Special Surg...
  • TORONTO (AP) Toronto Raptors backup guard Delon Wright has a dislocated right shoulder.
    Wright was injured Wednesday night in the second quarter of Toronto's victory over the New Orleans Peli...
  • CLEVELAND (AP) Cavaliers starting point guard Derrick Rose will miss at least the next two weeks with a nagging left ankle injury.
    Rose injured the ankle Oct. 20 at Milwaukee and has missed C...

NBA Top Stories

Thumbnail Kings vs. Trail Blazers Pick Are the host Portland Trail Blazers going to dominate the Sacramento Kings on the second night of a home-and-home series? Tip-off is...
Thumbnail Bucks vs. Mavericks Pick Are the Milwaukee Bucks and host Dallas Mavericks going to play a game that...
Thumbnail Rockets vs. Grizzlies Pick Will the host Memphis Grizzlies wrap up the season series with the Houston Rockets with a win tonight when the two...
Thumbnail Celtics vs. Hawks Pick Are the Boston Celtics going to secure a 15th straight win and cover the spread tonight at the Atlanta Hawks? Game...
Thumbnail Warriors vs. 76ers Pick Are the Golden State Warriors going to cover the spread for the second time in as many weeks tonight versus the host Philadelphia 76ers? Tip-off is...

NBA Team Pages