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Celtics get much-needed rest before NBA Finals

BOSTON - Rajon Rondo hit the deck hard, grimacing after being fouled. Glen Davis played through dizziness from a concussion. Rasheed Wallace put up with a painful back.

The Boston Celtics sure could use some time off.

Now they're getting it with a five-day break between games before starting the final drive toward their goal - a second NBA championship in three years and an 18th in club history, more than any other team.

Coach Doc Rivers gave his players two days off after their dominant performance Friday night with the wounded and woozy Rondo, Davis and Wallace helping in a 96-84 win over the Orlando Magic.

Boston led by at least 12 points throughout the second half and clinched the Eastern Conference title in six games. The NBA Finals begin Thursday night in either Los Angeles or Phoenix. The Lakers led the West finals 3-2 heading into last night's late game in Phoenix.

Paul Pierce could use a respite from the battering he took driving to the hoop in the physical series with the Magic.

"I know I need it," said Pierce, star of the clincher with 31 points and 13 rebounds. "I've got a couple injuries that I kind of want to cure . . . Just minor stuff like foot, back, stuff like that. But nothing major for me, you know. Running into Dwight Howard really doesn't help your body."

Late in the third quarter of Game 5, Davis, known as "Big Baby," was leveled by an inadvertent elbow to the face from Orlando's muscular center under Boston's basket. Dazed, he struggled to his feet slowly, then zigzagged upcourt on rubbery legs before falling into the arms of referee Joey Crawford near midcourt.

Two days later, Davis contributed with six points, seven rebounds and a block in 17 minutes. "I was kind of dizzy a little bit because of the loud noise and just the adrenaline," he said after Friday's win. "Then I kind of slowed down. I just thought, just go out there and play."

Rondo was floored by Jason Williams while driving to the basket. He landed awkwardly on his back and stayed down, then got up slowly and sank two free throws. "He's going to be OK," Rivers said. "I'm more concerned with Rasheed, honestly. Rasheed got tight. You could see it. I will say this about Rasheed and 'Baby.' Neither one of them was in great shape.

"I'm glad we're going to get done and get some rest. That may be the most important thing going into the next series."

New York Sports