|05.21.10 at 2:50 pm ET|
The Celtics heard all that and frankly don’t really care how the Magic decide to match up with Pierce.
“Obviously they want to play better defensively, probably on me,” Pierce said Friday. “Who knows what they’re going to do as far as trapping and different matchups. We’re going to make some adjustments ourselves. We still feel like we haven’t played our perfect game yet. We’re still in search of that. It doesn’t affect anything that I’m trying to do offensively when we play the Magic.”
Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy changed things up before Game 1 by having Barnes guard Ray Allen and Vince Carter on Pierce, who has turned Carter inside out by scoring 50 points on just 24 shots in the first two games.
“It doesn’t affect us,” Doc Rivers said. “When you’re down 2-0 you do make some changes. We have to anticipate that. But they’re not going to make many changes. We are who we are, they are who they are, they’re just going to try to do it better. Barnes or [Mikael] Pietrus will probably guard Paul. Vince will go to Ray. That’s how a lot of us thought it would start in the series and now they’re just going to back that.”
Rivers expects Orlando will try to go big with Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat playing a Twin Towers look and possibly Rashard Lewis sliding over to the 3-spot. But the Celtics won’t vary their personnel much, mainly because they can’t.
“Some teams have the ability to go big, small or change,” Rivers said. “We unfortunately, or fortunately, do not. We’re just going to be who we are and just be the best at that.”
|05.21.10 at 2:29 pm ET|
“You guys [are] asking me all these questions about the ’08 team,” Pierce said Friday after the team conducted practice. “There’s no comparison in the teams. You guys want to make them similar, make them different, make them better. It’s a completely different year. New players that are trying to develop its own identity. Whatever happened then, happened. It’s not the same thing. We’re trying to develop our own identity with this team by winning a championship.”
That came after the third straight question about 2008, but on the first Pierce gave an interesting response.
“It’s a little more challenging, going on the road so much,” he said. “We played probably the three hottest teams in basketball coming into the playoffs. It’s tougher mentally and physically, just the road that we took to get here.”
And if this team wins a title?
“If that happens,” Pierce said. “I’ll be able to answer that.”
|05.20.10 at 9:56 pm ET|
On Thursday, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Barnes would like an opportunity to stop Pierce, who is averaging 25 points per game, the most among all players in the series.
‘I’d love to guard Pierce,’ Barnes told the Sentinel. ‘I got the chance to guard him a little bit the last game and felt that I did a pretty good job. But he’s really rolling right now, so we need to slow him down somehow.’
Pierce is shooting nearly 60 percent from the field in over 41 minutes per game, while averaging seven rebounds and five assists in the Eastern Conference finals.
It is a bounce-back from the Eastern Conference semifinals, in which he averaged 13.5 points off of 34.5 percent shooting from the field and 30.8 percent from 3-point range. His defensive numbers had also dropped to less than five boards and four assists against the Cavaliers.
But there is more to it than just trying to slow Pierce’s offensive attack. Barnes told the Sentinel Pierce has another skill besides scoring. He believes Pierce knows how to sell calls, too.
‘My third foul in the third quarter, when I tried to beat him over the screen, he fell down like I threw him,’ he said. ‘It was ridiculous. But the refs called it, so it was a good play. It was a flop, 100 percent, and that’s how some guys like to play. But if the refs call it, it’s effective.’
Pierce has shot 17-for-21 at the line in the first two games. He drew nine fouls in Game 2.
|05.20.10 at 6:17 pm ET|
The NBA announced Thursday that referee Joe DeRosa will be suspended one game following an incident with a fan in Orlando during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. DeRosa, a longtime official and crew chief, will miss the next game he was scheduled to work.
The incident occurred at halftime when DeRosa walked to the scorer’s table with fellow refs Marc Davis and Bill Kennedy. Several Orlando fans were getting on the officials, including Wyndham Vacation Ownership CEO Franz Hanning, who walked up to the table to yell at DeRosa. The ref responded by tossing the game ball to Hanning, who tossed it back.
The NBA said that Hanning was not ejected from the game, as had been reported. Hanning is a friend of Doc Rivers from the coach’s time with the Magic.
After the game, Rivers said this about DeRosa: “Joe, no, he’s not an emotional guy. He’s usually great in these situations, [but] I don’t know what happened.”
|05.20.10 at 4:39 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Everyone wanted to know the answer to one question on Thursday in Waltham. No, it wasn’t whether Paul Pierce’s tweet was real or not as everyone suspected it wasn’t his doing in the wake of Game 2.
The question everyone wanted the answer to was: Are the Celtics overconfident? After all, the Celtics are coming into Game 3 against Orlando at home after winning the first two games of the series on the road, something they have never accomplished in their glorious history.
As always, the introspective Ray Allen provided some interesting insight to the team’s psyche.
“Always, that’s human nature,” Allen said when asked if he understood the concern of overconfidence. “You think you have everything in the bag. You think you don’t have to put as much effort out there to do your job or get the same result that you got before. The same overpreparation, the same focus, the same mental approach we’ve taken to the whole playoffs has to continue.
“The only ‘over’ I want to be is prepared. It’s important that everybody does their job and knows we’ve done our job to get into this situation.”
Kevin Garnett said all the matters is what happens on the court – not when the microphones are on off of it.
“In my estimation, confidence is about what you go out and do versus talking about it,” Garnett said. “We haven’t really done anything but won two games. Now, it’s up to us to defend our home court. It’s important that we stay humble and understand that this is a long process and this is seven games.”
And the reason for the question was Paul Pierce proclaiming to a national TV audience following Boston’s Game 2 win in Orlando that the Celtics were coming home to “close it out.”
“I didn’t like it,” Rivers said. “I don’t mind the confidence part, that’s good, but we want to be humble and we haven’t achieved anything. I think that’s what he was trying to say but it just came out at the end. I wish they’d have taken the mic away the last couple of words but up until then, he was pretty good. We do have to go home and our fans will help us but we have to do it on the floor.
Rivers did not speak to Pierce individually since then but rather the entire team about the appropriate attitude going into Game 3 Saturday night in Boston.
“I talked to the team about it,” Rivers added. “He was part of the team. Unfortunately, I talked to the team, in the locker room, right after the game.”
‘We’ve done nothing’ is clearly the mantra these Celtics have adopted for the 2010 run to a title.
“We’ve done nothing,” Rivers repeated from his comments earlier Thursday to Dennis and Callahan. “We really haven’t. We’ve won two games. We’re up, 2-0. Again, we just have to keep playing. Orlando is the favorite for a reason. They were playing better than everybody in the playoffs for a reason and we can’t take our eye off of that.”
Rivers said it’s hard to keep the players from feeling good about themselves. And actually, he said, they have earned that right.
“You don’t guard against it,” Rivers said. “You just keep focusing on execution and improving and getting ready. And each game is a single game. That’s been our speech through this playoff series, all of the series. Each game is a single game. Game 1 was an individual game. Game 2 was and Game 3 will be as well.”
Rivers is a big fan of the NFL. And Bill Belichick would be happy with the nugget he threw at his team on Thursday.
“As I told our guys, we have yet to beat Orlando on our home court this year and that’s something we have to have a focus on,” Rivers said of Orlando’s two wins in Boston this regular season.
“It won’t be easy but we earned this position and we should be happy with that. We earned getting up, 2-0 but we haven’t had the opportunity to defend our home court. We did our job there but we haven’t done our job at home. And as far as we’re concerned, until we do that, nothing has happened in this series.”
|05.20.10 at 2:59 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, Kendrick Perkins was apprised that several media outlets were getting on Dwight Howard after he scored just 13 points in the series opener. Perkins’ eyes grew wide and then he sighed.
“What happens is, y’all gas the man up and get him mad,” Perkins said to WEEI.com. “Then I come out and I got my hands full.’
Perkins did have his hands full with Howard in Game 2 as the big man scored 30 points. Not that Perkins was around for most of it since he fouled out in just 15 minutes of action.
“Do I take it personally? Yep, I do,” Perkins said Thursday before the team’s practice session. “I’m a defender so I do take it personally. Guy got 30 on me, but it happens to the best of us. We ended up getting a win, so that’s really all that matters.”
Still Perkins knows that he has to do better in Game 3 and that starts even before the ball gets to Howard.
“You’ve got to keep a body on him,” he said. “It’s going to be physical all series. That’s the key. You can’t let him set up shop where he wants to set up shop. You’ve got to kind of force him outside his comfort zone just a little bit.”
In theory, the Celtics are OK if Howard goes off. It’s when Howard goes off and everyone else for Orlando gets in on the act that’s a problem.
“We don’t want him to go for 30, but when he goes for 30 he goes for 30, there’s nothing we can do about it,” Rivers said. “As long as he didn’t go for 30 and get everyone else involved, we can live with it. We were not happy with the way we defended him. We did not have a great night defending Dwight. We have to do better. We have to expect somebody on their team to start making shots. If we give him 30+ and they start making shots then you can’t beat them.”
Again that starts with not letting Howard get deep post position because once he does, it’s game over.
“He caught it too deep throughout the game,” Rivers said. “Some of the shots he made, we’ll live with. We don’t mind any made shot if it’s defended. Jumpers, layups, we don’t care.”
Perkins, of course, does care a great deal about his defense on Howard. It’s the thing that has helped make his reputation over the years. But he also recognizes that a key element of the Celtics defensive strategy is that he will be afforded no help in his task.
It’s his role in this series and he’s determined to do a better job in Game 3.
“We’re just trying to make it tough on him,” Perkins said. “We’re not trying to overreact to him scoring.”
|05.20.10 at 2:56 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Paul Pierce said he was happy to hear that Dwight Howard was not getting suspended for Game 3 after his flagrant 1 foul in the second quarter of Game 2 that resulted in a pair of scratch marks on Pierce’s forehead above his left eye.
“My reaction to him not getting suspended is a good reaction because we want the team’s best,” Pierce said. “In order to be the best, you want to get their best. If they lose Dwight Howard, obviously they’re still a good team but that’s not the best team they put on the floor. We just want their best.”
The NBA announced Wednesday that Howard would not be disciplined for the hard foul that resulted in Pierce hitting the deck hard just before halftime on Tuesday night.
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