|05.10.10 at 4:32 pm ET|
After scoring just nine points in 31 minutes on Sunday in the 97-87 Celtics win over Cleveland that evened the series, 2-2, everyone wants to know if Paul Pierce is physically fine.
And if he is, as he told reporters following Monday’s practice, why then is he having such trouble getting his offensive game going?
‘I’m not a rookie, you guys. I’m not a rookie,” Pierce said with a painful smile very similar to the one a certain Red Sox slugger sported after getting grilled about his woes just TWO games into the season.
“It is my 12th year. I’ve been in every situation, regardless. Whether it’s foul trouble, not playing, things not going so well for you, I know how to get through those times, mentally. It doesn’t affect me like it used to when I was a younger player where I had two or three fouls and not really playing the kind of basketball I want to. But the key is to keep focused and doing what you can to help the team win.’
And about your physical condition Paul?
‘There’s nothing wrong me,” Pierce said. “The key for me is being focused and giving my team what they need to win. So there’s nothing wrong with me.’
‘No, Paul’s fine, Paul’s fine,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers added. “Obviously, we want more out of him but we’re getting a lot out of him. I think unfortunately for Paul, he’s an offensive player and that’s what everyone sees in him and he has a defensive part in this series so they’re going to look at his offensive numbers so that’s the bad part of being Paul Pierce, really.’
Specifically, it was the early foul trouble in Games 3 and 4 at the Garden that Pierce pointed to as the main culprit in robbing him of offensive rhythm.
“If you’re a scorer, you’re a scorer for life,” Rivers said. “It’s like you’re in a gang, a scoring gang. I think scorers still think, ‘OK,’ and then once they get into it they realize, ‘Wow, this is tough.’ We just keep telling him to be aggressive. The one thing I did tell him was I thought I did think we got the right matchups for him he wasn’t looking to score. When we do get those situations, we need him to morph back into Paul.”
‘We don’t want to sacrifice the entire offense or the team just to get Paul involved,” added Rajon Rondo. “Paul is just an unselfish player so he’s not complaining about shots or that he’s only scoring 11 or 12 points. As long as we’re winning, he knows it’s a team sport. He’s very unselfish. It’s about sacrifices. Yesterday, I think Ray [Allen] got 21 shots up and myself. Maybe Paul gets 22 shots and maybe Ray and I only shoots four. It varies each game. If a guy has it going, you keep going to him.’
Pierce said he will not let games of 13, 14, 11 and nine points take him out of his focus of doing what it takes to help the team win the series, namely defend and help on LeBron James.
‘All that other stuff goes out the window, being frustrated,” Pierce said. “You really have to concentrate on the game when you’re not in the game so that when you go back in the game, you can finish it.
‘I’m digging myself a ditch as far as my fouls but I think they’re good fouls I’m getting, some bad ones but that’s the way the game goes. It’s nothing I’m really worried about. I know I can do a better job and control. No matter how I’m doing offensively, as long as we win, that’s all that matters to me.’
And winning Game 5 in Cleveland Tuesday is Job No. 1.
‘We definitely have a sense of urgency going into Game 5,” Pierce said. “We have to treat it like a Game 7, trying to gather some momentum, like we’ve been trying to do. We know it’s going to be a tough place to play back in Cleveland, trying to get two wins. It’s going to be very difficult. I think we’re going to put our hard hats on and clean up some of things we didn’t do right last night and in Game 3, and hopefully, try to steal another win.’
|05.10.10 at 4:17 pm ET|
That’s fine with the Celtics who have been waiting for this to happen since the series started.
“We don’t care who guards Rondo,” Doc Rivers said Monday. “We’re going to still run out stuff. It’s not like we’re going to stop running our offense. We anticipated it. I’ve only talked about it for three games. We know it’s going to come at some point in this series. When it does we have to find a way of using Rondo and making sure he’s still the facilitator.”
Rivers felt that one of the keys in Rondo’s huge Game 4 performance was that he made things happen off ball movement. This was a key difference from Game 3 when most of the Celtics offense came off one-on-one isolation plays (or rather breakdowns).
Rondo, who sees more gimmick defenses and adjustments than any of the other Celtics combined, isn’t worried about it either.
“It’s happened before,” Rondo said. “LeBron is going to be LeBron. He’s a great help-defender so he’s definitely going to be helping. He’s a good defender. They did that a couple of years ago when Kobe [Bryant] was checking me in the Finals. So, I’m used to bigger guys giving me the shot and challenging me late because of their wingspan.”
Brown has resisted employing the LeBron option to this point and a good reason for doing so is that James has taken Paul Pierce out of the series to this point. If he does take Rondo, that would put Anthony Parker on Pierce, and while Parker is a good, veteran defender, he’s no nearly as physically imposing as James.
“That’s probably one of the reasons they haven’t,” Rivers said. “But they’re going to at some point. It may not be all game. It may be in the fourth quarter. It may be in the second half, out of timeouts. And will be ready for it.”
|05.10.10 at 3:58 pm ET|
WALTHAM — You could have made a lot of money in October if you wagered that the Celtics best, most consistent and indispensable bench player in the 2010 playoffs would have been Tony Allen, but here we are.
Allen had his moments in the Miami series when he was asked to guard Dwyane Wade, but his contributions in this series have been a little more under the radar. That is, until Game 4, when he scored 15 points in 25 minutes and converted a dunk on what may have been the play of the game: Rajon Rondo’s blind pass with LeBron James closing fast on the break.
“I like playing with Rajon,” Allen said Monday after the Celtics completed practice. “Let me say, I like playing with everybody but he’s one of the guys that’s mainly looking for you to score as opposed to other guys, you have to feed off of them. He’s actually looking for you. He brings out my game, I must say that.”
Allen doesn’t find himself on the court with Rondo as much as the others because he has been filling the role of backup point guard when Rondo gets one of his rare breaks. But it paid dividends for the Celtics in Game 4 when Rondo teamed with Allen and the rest of the reserves in a makeshift lineup late in the third quarter and into the fourth.
James essentially left Allen alone, and that also allowed James to roam the court in a manner that Doc Rivers termed, “disruptive.” But Allen forced the issue, going backdoor for layups and not only making strong athletic plays, but smart ones as well.
Allen’s come a long way in the last two and a half months and it should no longer be a pleasant surprise when he performs well. Now, it’s an expectation.
“What more can I say?” Allen asked. “I wasn’t playing then. I’m playing now. Basically, I got a role. I took advantage of the role and things happen with me taking that role. I took advantage of my opportunity. I’m taking it all in stride.”
|05.10.10 at 3:05 pm ET|
Pierce has dealt with a myriad of injuries this season, but given the caveat that every player is a little banged up at this point in the season, he stated flatly Monday after the Celtics went through a brief practice that he was fine.
“There’s nothing wrong with me,” Pierce said. “For me, it’s just being ready, being focused, giving my team whatever it needs to win. There’s nothing wrong with me.”
There are other mitigating factors that have contributed to his sub-par numbers (16-for-50, 4-for-18 from 3-point range). For one, he has found himself in early foul trouble and for another, he is guarding LeBron James at the other end of the floor.
“I’m digging myself a ditch as far as with my fouls,” Pierce said. “I think they’re good fouls that I’m giving, some bad ones, but that’s the way the game goes.”
“Paul’s fine,” Doc Rivers said when asked about his health. “Obviously we want more out of him, but we’re getting a lot out of him. I think, unfortunately for Paul, he’s an offensive players and that’s what everyone sees in him. He has a defensive role in this series and so they’re going to look at his offensive numbers. That’s the bad part of being Paul Pierce, really. If it was Tony Allen, people would be happy. He’s doing a great job defensively, but it’s Paul, so they want more. And we’re going to get more out of Paul. I believe that.”
Pierce was asked if he felt like he at least one vintage Paul Pierce game in him for the last three games of the series.
“I hope so, but that’s not something I’m pressing,” he said. “I’m trying to help my team win. Whether it’s scoring or defense, it’s about winning.”
Pierce is also a veteran, and he’s drawing on past experiences to get him through this stretch.
“I’m not a rookie,” Pierce said. “It is my 12th year. I’ve been in every situation. I know I can get through those times mentally. It doesn’t affect me like it used to when I was a younger player, where I had two or three fouls and not really playing the type of basketball I wanted to play. The key is to just stay focused and doing what you can do to help the team. All that other stuff goes out the window.”
|05.10.10 at 1:03 am ET|
Rondo has a cameo role in the upcoming film ‘Just Wright,’ a romantic comedy about a basketball player starring Common and Queen Latifah, which opens in theaters on Friday.
‘I’m friends with Common,’ Rondo told WEEI.com. ‘He asked me if I wasn’t doing anything, there was a basketball movie and he would try to get me a part in it, and he did.’
Rondo shot his scene last summer in New York. He soaked up the total movie experience, complete with hair, makeup and long hours on set.
‘It was actually different than I expected,’ he said. ‘We were on set for like 12 hours. My actual shot is maybe like 30 seconds.’
Even though Rondo did not have a speaking role in the movie, he still enjoyed being part of the production.
‘[My favorite part was] just seeing how they do it,’ he said. ‘I’ve never been on a movie set before so it was just first experience. I didn’t know you do one particular scene like an entire day. We did maybe like 20 takes. It was crazy. I didn’t expect it. But the guys from the cast were very funny, so I had a great time.’
Rondo is not the first Celtic to have a brush with the silver screen. Ray Allen starred in ‘He Got Game’ and Glen Davis was a top candidate for the leading role in ‘The Blind Side.’ But don’t expect Rondo to be sending out demo tapes any time soon.
‘I’m not trying to pursue an acting career,’ he said. ‘I was myself in the movie.’
Rondo has proved he doesn’t need to be in movies to play a starring role.
|05.09.10 at 9:29 pm ET|
While everyone will rightfully point to Rajon Rondo’s historic triple-double performance in Game 4 on Sunday against Cleveland as the spark the Celtics needed, it was Tony Allen’s all-around court presence that might have made the biggest difference at the biggest moments of the game.
Allen ‘ as is his style ‘ came in full speed off the bench, running interference on LeBron James and flying down the court with the greatest of ease, taking passes from Rondo and dunking the ball to energize the Celtics and the TD Garden crowd in a crucial 97-87 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
With the game tied at 70 late in the third quarter, Allen was smart enough to follow Rondo in transition. As Rondo drew James to the basket, that left Allen wide open. With a half-circle behind-his-back pass, Rondo fed Allen for a dunk and the Garden exploded.
‘Ya, that’s what you call an energy play from Rondo,” Allen said. “I mean he had energy all night. I don’t know what his stat-line was like but I know it was big and we fed off of his energy all night.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Allen had the chance to return the favor when he drew James to the basket, only to find a trailing Rondo behind him for another easy basket.
“It’s just one of those things where I got out in transition and we figured if we could get out quick, we could get some easy baskets,” Allen said.
Then there was just the simple matter of winning a game the Celtics absolutely needed, especially after the worst home-court playoff loss in Celtics history on Friday.
‘Nobody wants to apart of history from a losing effort, losing by 30 in your home court,” Allen said. “Everybody was looking at film yesterday and was down on themselves. I think today they came out and just wanted to turn that negative energy that we had last game into something big today. I think that we did a good job of that.
‘We all do a great job of listening to [defensive coach] Tom Thibodeau, Doc [Rivers] do a good job of drawing up plays, but most importantly we hang our hats on defense. I think that’s why we were big today.’
From the moment the season began, Doc Rivers told the Allen off the bench that his playing time will be dictated by two things – his defense and his energy.
Both have been in high gear at the best time of year for the Celtics so far.
‘Most definitely, I think once I get a few chip in baskets, they give me a little energy but for the most part I am a defender first on that court,” Allen said. “I need to do that in order for me to stay out there.’
With Paul Pierce saddled with five fouls and Ray Allen using all six of his, it was up to Allen off the bench to assume responsibility for helping to hold LeBron in check. And with just 22 points in 43 minutes, Allen and the Celtics accomplished their goal.
‘My plan for that was to listen to [defensive coach] Tom Thibodeau and call out those sets before hand and him looking at that formation, and I was just ready to roll. He did a good job just telling me the formation.
‘Basically all I have to say is that our whole concept is feeding off of our defense. Our team concept is slow to the ball and get it out to the shooters. I was just trying to be active on our team defense and I took advantage of that today and I was fortunate enough to convert that in the fourth quarter,’ Allen said.
If the Celtics can get more of that in the next week from Tony Allen, they might just need him later in May, too.
|05.09.10 at 6:32 pm ET|
The Celtics overcame an early deficit to hold on for a critical Game 4 win. The C’s tied up the Eastern Conference Semifinals series at one apiece as they head to Cleveland for Game 5 on Tuesday.
Player of the game: Rajon Rondo fueled the Celtics efforts with 29 points, 18 rebounds, and 13 assists in 47 minutes. The home crowd chanted ‘M-V-P’ as he shot free throws at the close of the game.
First Quarter: Celtics 31, Cavaliers 22
By the time the Cavaliers had jumped out to a 7-0 lead, the Celtics had shot 0-for-3, been whistled for two fouls, and committed a turnover. It was only 2:13 into the game.
Then the shots began to fall for the Celtics. Ray Allen hit a jumper, Rajon Rondo drove the lane, and Kevin Garnett made it to the free throw line. The Celtics went on an 8-0 run before taking the lead, 13-12, with 6:22 to go. From that point on, they outscored the Cavs, 18-10, to end the first quarter leading by nine.
Rondo led all players with 11 points, five rebounds, and three assists. LeBron James led the Cavs with eight points. The Celtics outscored the Cavs 14-8 in the paint. They also outrebounded the Cavs, 13-6, and outscored them 7-0 on second chance points.
Halftime: Celtics 54 – Cavs 45
It was a physical first half between the Celtics and Cavaliers, leaving key members of both teams in foul trouble.
There were 31 personal fouls called, 18 on the Celtics and 13 on the Cavs. More importantly, key members of each squad were getting whistled:
Celtics: Rasheed Wallace (4), Ray Allen (3), Kendrick Perkins (3), Paul Pierce (2), Kevin Garnett (2), Tony Allen (2)
Rondo led all players with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. James led the Cavs with 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. The C’s had a nine-point lead in spite of just five points from Paul Pierce, thanks in part to their defense. They are outrebounded the Cavs 24-16 and held them without any second chance points.
Rather than give up a basket, Paul Pierce intentionally fouled Shaq and drew his fourth personal.
Third Quarter: Celtics 74, Cavaliers 72
Foul trouble continued to plague the Celtics in the third quarter, as they saw their nine-point halftime lead dwindle.
Rather than give up a basket, Pierce intentionally Shaquille O’Neal and drew his fourth personal. The play sent Pierce to the bench with the Celtics up, 60-51, and 8:41 to go. The Cavs outscored the C’s, 21-14, the remainder of the quarter. Anderson Varejao tied the game at 67 apiece off of a driving layin before Tony Allen scored the Celtics final four points of the quarter to give them a two-point lead.
Rondo recorded a triple-double in the quarter with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. James and O’Neal scored 17 apiece for the Cavs.
Fourth quarter: Celtics 97, Cavaliers 87
The Celtics opened the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run, with eight of the points coming from Tony Allen and Glen Davis. It was a necessary boost as Ray Allen and Pierce were limited with five fouls apiece. (Ray Allen eventually fouled out.) But after the bench helped put the Celtics ahead, Doc Rivers turned to his starters to finish the job. All five starters were on the court with just under three minutes to play and the C’s up, 88-84. They closed out the game on a 9-3 run to give the Celtics a Game 4 win.
Game 4 Notes:
– There were 58 personal fouls issued between the Celtics and Cavs. Ray Allen fouled out, Pierce, Garnett, Perkins, and O’Neal were called for five, and Wallace, James, Jamison, and Williams were whistled for four.
– The Celtics outrebounded the Cavs, 47-33. After 18 boards from Rondo, no one on the C’s grabbed more than six. No Cavaliers reached 10 rebounds.
– The Celtics and Cavs combined for 5-for-35 from 3-point range. Ray Allen (1/8 3PG) hit the Celtics only trey.
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