Celtics staying strong

Perkins will be available tonight

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / May 28, 2010

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From Kendrick Perkins’s first-half ejection and Glen Davis’s and Marquis Daniels’s late-game concussions to the fact that the team they had dominated for three games had suddenly become the bully, Doc Rivers summed up the Celtics’ Game 5 loss to the Magic Wednesday night as “surreal.’’

As he looked around the locker room, at the wreckage the Magic had left behind after clawing back into the series they seemed all but out of to trail just three games to two, Rivers didn’t have to gauge the mood.

At the time, there was a possibility that Perkins would be suspended for Game 6 tonight at TD Garden, that reinforcements Davis and Rasheed Wallace would be too battered to play, and that the Celtics would be going into their last home game of the Eastern Conference finals handicapped.

“It was a very emotional locker room,’’ Rivers said. “Guys were upset at a lot of stuff. Guys are worried about each other. Guys are injured and sitting in there looking like a M*A*S*H unit at one point. You saw all the trainers and the doctors, and I’m trying to talk, and everybody’s got ice.’’

The Celtics were able to re cover yesterday. They caught a break, learning that they will have Perkins available tonight, as one of his two Game 5 technical fouls was rescinded by the league. Still, the technicals were a disappointment to Rivers, who thought neither justified and who knows that with Perkins sitting on six postseason technicals (one shy of a suspension), he’ll be walking on eggshells.

“Obviously, I’m happy about it,’’ Rivers said. “I’m a little disappointed that both technicals weren’t rescinded. I thought they both should have been and I’m very surprised that they were not. But I’ll take the one and hopefully we can keep working on it.

“Unfortunately, we can’t get those calls back. It clearly affected us in Game 5 not having Perk out on the floor.’’

Davis left the locker room Wednesday night frustrated. Dwight Howard’s elbow landed on him like a tree limb, sending him into a daze that had him stumbling across the court before being propped up by referee Joe Crawford and Wallace. Headaches lingered that night, but yesterday Rivers said Davis had improved, and that he will be a game-time decision tonight.

“Baby looks good,’’ Rivers said. “He was talking. He looked fine. He still has to go through a couple of tests this evening with our doctors to get clearance. He didn’t have any headaches today. He had some last night, which was a big step, I guess.’’

Wallace, who scored 21 points off the bench in Game 5 but fouled out in the fourth quarter, was still bothered by a sore back yesterday.

“We watched some film before we got on the plane as a group, and he couldn’t sit down,’’ Rivers said. “So he just stretched the whole time. He’s feeling better. He’ll be a game-time decision as well.’’

In the three minutes that Daniels was on the floor Wednesday night, he crashed into Magic backup center Marcin Gortat, also leaving the game with a concussion. He looked shaken in the locker room after the game, and Rivers said Daniels was unlikely to be available tonight.

Without question, the Celtics are now in a fight.

In Game 4, the Magic swung wildly simply to stay alive.

In Game 5, the blows left bruises. And even though they’re still fighting off elimination, the Magic are defiant, convincing themselves the past two games that they can become the first team in NBA history to climb out of a 3-0 series hole to win.

“We’re down, 3-2,’’ said coach Stan Van Gundy. “That’s where we are. I don’t think that it matters that we were down, 3-0, at this point. Bottom line is we’re down, 3-2, and we’re going to Boston.

“I think now it’s a series. I think when you’re rolling — we went through it in the last two series — and you’re just playing with no pressure and no worries, it’s certainly a different game.’’

As surreal as the scene was in the Celtics locker room after Game 5, Rivers seemed to take it all in.

As everyone licked their wounds, he said, “This is great, isn’t it? This is the playoffs. This is what it should be about. Embrace this moment.’’

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