Ray Allen scored a game-high 25 points and Paul Pierce added 22 as the Celtics built a 20-point second-half lead before holding on for a 92-88 win over the Orlando Magic Sunday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals at Amway Arena. 

 

ORLANDO — Stan Van Gundy started the chess match early when he suggested that he would have Matt Barnes guard Ray Allen instead of Paul Pierce, who would then become Vince Carter’s assignment. This opens up a number of interesting questions such as: Does Van Gundy think Allen is a bigger threat than Pierce? Would the Celtics switch up their coverages? Then there’s the issue of Barnes’ health. He has been struggling with back spasms. On the latter, Van Gundy said that Barnes is feeling better and will be ready to play. As for the other?

ORLANDO — There’s been a lot of talk about respect lately. The Magic feel like they don’t get any, and the Celtics could claim a gripe in that their win over the Cavaliers has been overshadowed by LeBron-mania. Ray Allen, like the rest of the Celtics veterans, isn’t worried about it. "That’s the bottom line, it’s like, who cares?” Allen said before Game 1 of the Conference Finals. ”At the end of the day, you win that fourth game in the Finals and you’re in the back of the building until 4 a.m.

ORLANDO -- Kendrick Perkins said that his knee is feeling better than yesterday when he sat out Celtics practice and that he is, "Ready to play," Game One against the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. Perkins' matchup with Dwight Howard will receive a great deal of scrutiny, but as with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce before him, Perkins said it's about the team defense. ""Can't make this into a personal thing," Perkins said. "Obviously it's my job, but we've got to do it as a team."

WALTHAM -- Kendrick Perkins is not the only big man the Celtics plan on using to stop Dwight Howard in the



JESSICA CAMERATO

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WALTHAM - Doc Rivers tells WEEI.com that Rasheed Wallace’s defense against Dwight Howard played a large role in the Celtics push to sign him last summer. “Oh it was huge,” Rivers said following practice on Saturday. “This summer we were thinking about how can we beat Orlando, not Cleveland, because Orlando won the East. So it was a big factor.”

 

WALTHAM -- Kendrick Perkins, the player primarily responsible for guarding Orlando's Dwight Howard, was held out of practice on Saturday with a sore right knee. Perkins wore wraps on both knees and kept ice on his right one until the end of practice. 

 

"He tried to go early and it bothered him a lot." Rivers said. "He wanted to go I said, 'I don't need you tonight. You're not going to help me today in practice. I need you tomorrow.'"

 

First it was Dwyane Wade. Then it was LeBron James.



PAUL FLANNERY

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Sports columnist and radio host Stephen A. Smith joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the Celtics' victory over the Cavaliers and the future of LeBron James. Smith said James is about to become the biggest free agent in sports history, and the Celtics may have pushed him out of Cleveland. He said he thinks James ultimately will end up with the Knicks or Bulls.

 

The Celtics will travel to Orlando to open the Eastern Conference finals Sunday afternoon. Following Game 2 Tuesday night, the teams will take a few days off before resuming the series in Boston on the following Saturday and Monday nights. Rest up now, because after Game 1, all of the games are scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. You can listen to every game on WEEI. Here's the complete schedule:

 

Game 1: Sunday, May 16, at Orlando, 3:30 p.m. (ABC, WEEI)

Game 2: Tuesday, May 18, at Orlando, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN, WEEI)