|04.17.10 at 10:15 pm ET|
1. Pierce keeps the Celtics alive
With 7:03 left in the quarter Dwyane Wade hit a floater to give the Heat a 61-47 lead and it seemed like it was time to dust off the obit. But Paul Pierce scored nine points to key a 17-5 run to close out the quarter as the lead was cut to just two points.
2. Celtics getting owned on the boards
Tough to win an NBA playoff game when you have just two offensive rebounds in 36 minutes. The Heat enter the fourth quarter with an overall rebounding edge of 31-21, including nine for Jermaine O’Neal and eight for Michael Beasley.
3. The bench has slowed down
The reserves scored 13 points in the first quarter, but just two points since. And no sign of Marquis Daniels through three quarters.
4. Still nothing from Ray Allen
Hasn’t hit a three (on four attempts) and is 2-of-8 from the floor. Called Dwayne Wade the toughest matchup in the league before the game, and Wade is 9-of-12 for 20 points after three.
5. That’s why Doc plays Big Baby
I was wrong on that call after the first half. Doc called on Davis in the third quarter and his energy was a big part of the run. His strip of Wade and dive to the floor to force a jump ball was big in bringing the crowd back into the game.
|04.17.10 at 9:31 pm ET|
1. Is this 1997?
After a thoroughly entertaining first quarter that saw both teams shoot over 50 percent and combine for 57 points, the second-quarter turned into a dinner theatre production of the old Heat-Knicks playoff series, where the first to 70 usually picked up the win. All that was missing was old friend P.J. Brown body-slamming Charlie Ward into the ground. Just how ugly was it? Well, the Celtics were down by one point after the first quarter, scored 13 points in the second, and still were only losing by three at the half.
The two leading scorers on the Celtics combined to shoot 3-for-12 in the first half. Maybe they get by tonight if that continues, but it’s hard to imagine a long playoff run with both Pierce and Allen out of sorts.
3. Kevin Garnett was the best Celtics player on the court
Seven points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and zero turnovers in his 16:58 of playing time in the first half.
4. Kendrick Perkins has to be more aggressive
Perkins seemed hesitant to shoot the ball even with good post position on Jermaine O’Neal, often kicking the ball out to Ray Allen or Pierce despite single-coverage. His line for the first half (four points, one rebound, three turnovers) pretty much told the story. O’Neal, meanwhile, was active in the first half, shooting just 3-of-10 (eight points) but grabbing seven rebounds.
5. We might have seen the last of Glen Davis tonight
Might be that someone does put Baby in the corner — Doc Rivers. Davis had a pair of shots blocked (pause for shock) in his seven-plus minutes on the court and generally looked overmatched on both ends of the court.
|04.17.10 at 8:49 pm ET|
1. Playoff time is Tony Allen time
Maybe a little strong, but when Ray Allen left the game with a bloody nose the Celtics got a huge lift off the bench from Tony Allen, who scored eight points and played his usual brand of physical defense on Dwyane Wade.
2. The bench stepped up
A (much-deserved) target all season long, the Celtics’ bench was terrific in the opening quarter, scoring 13 points on six-of-seven shooting. Nine Celtics played in the first quarter (also nine for the Heat.)
3. Flu no factor for Rondo
Rajon Rondo played 10:11 in the first quarter, scoring four points (making both of his shots) with a pair of assists. He was able to get to the basket at will and looks to be the toughest matchup for the Heat.
4. Wade has come to play
One of the league’s elite players looked every bit the part in the first, hitting four-of-five shots on his way to a nine-point quarter.
5. Pierce struggles, KG shines
Paul Pierce looked to be forcing the issue at times in the first, hitting just one-of-four shots. Garnett, however, was all over the court in his 10 minutes of play, scoring four points with four rebounds and three assists.
|04.16.10 at 6:54 pm ET|
While it’s uncertain what will happen over the next few weeks in the playoffs, there is some certainty with the Celtics in June:
They will have the 19th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
On Friday at the Board of Governors meeting in New York City, NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson conducted random drawings to determine the draft order among teams with identical regular-season records.
The Celtics (50-32) won a four-way tiebreaker with the Spurs, Thunder and Trail Blazers to land the 19th spot. The order is reversed in the second round, so the Celtics will have the 52nd pick.
There were a total of six tiebreakers conducted. Picks 1-14 will not be determined until the NBA Draft Lottery on May 18.
See the picks that have been determined so far:
|04.16.10 at 5:25 pm ET|
However, if they are going win four over the next two weeks they know they have to do a better job of defending Wade.
“We’ve won the games but he’s been way too successful,” Doc Rivers said. “If he’s that successful in this playoff series it’s going to be a tough series. It’s not that he’s scoring 33.7, it’s that he’s shot over 50 percent. It’s that he shot 32 free throws. He’d had low turnovers and he’s had high assists. Other than that, I don’t know what else you want him to do. If he does all that then it will be one tough series for us.”
This is nothing new for the Celtics. Their entire scheme against the Magic, for example, is predicated on matching up Kendrick Perkins on Dwight Howard without help. If he scores 50 points that’s fine with the Celtics, provided the other Magic players don’t go off on their own.
But Wade is a different task because everything revolves around him.
“It’s a tough matchup,” Rivers said. “If it was easy he wouldn’t be Dwyane Wade. I think he’s a great offensive player, but what he’s really improved on is getting everyone else involved, as well. That’s the tough part. He’s a great ballhandling guard, he’s strong and he can pass.”
The Celtics said all the usual things about making Wade work harder for his shots, but it seems clear that they intend to devote a team-wide effort to try to neutralize him. That, and a healthy dose of Tony Allen.
“Try to contain him, just keep him off the foul line,” Tony Allen said. “If you can do that and have your help-side bigs and your help-side guards alert when he’s driving, I think it will be more of a team concept than one-on-one.”
Ray Allen is likely to start the game on Wade, and while it would be nice if he returned the favor and spent his time on the defensive end chasing Ray Allen around the numerous picks the Celtics set for him, that probably won’t be the case.
“If [Wade] guards [Rajon] Rondo, we probably anticipate that he will, then you still have to chase Rondo,” Rivers said. “Even though you use guys on Rondo so you can be the rover, that’s still work.”
Interestingly, Rondo will be matched up with Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers who are more perimeter-oriented and thus he can help try to wreak havoc with his weakside ball-hawking skills, provided he can also recover in time to disrupt the shooters. “I think Rondo is the key to this series,” Kendrick Perkins said.
There will also be an onus on the big men, who will be tasked with stepping into the driving lanes when Wade goes to the basket.
“You have to show team defense first,” Perkins said. “Obviously he’s going to make plays. You can’t worry about if he’s making tough shots, make him work and all that, but at the same time it’s all about your pride.”
However they defend him, they know it won’t be easy.
“He’s quick, he’s aggressive and he’s a big guard,” Tony Allen said. “Therefore, that makes him Dwyane Wade.”
|04.16.10 at 4:52 pm ET|
WALTHAM — As the playoffs dawn, Rasheed Wallace finds himself in a familiar position: maligned.
He has been the subject of negative columns and painted as a divisive figure in the Celtics locker room, but Wallace is not backing down.
“I’m going to be me,” he said. “Half the people like me and half the people don’t. I’m not out here to please the fans or whatever, I’m here to win a title. Some of the fans are mad at me, some of the fans cheer for me, I can’t worry about that. I’m going to go out there and do what I’ve got to do.”
Statistically, Wallace had the worst season of his career. He shot just 28 percent from 3-point range and his rebounding totals left much to be desired. He acknowledged that when he was asked how he felt about his season.
“So-so, nothing to write home about,” he said. “But I’m not worried about it. It was a down season coming into a new offense, so I’m not worried about it. I’m not making no excuses on how I shot the ball. I know I had a bad year shooting, but it’s part of it.”
But that doesn’t mean he will change to appease his critics.
“I’ve been in this game too long to play my game depending on what the fans say,” he said. “When I first got to Portland they didn’t like me. When I first got to Detroit, they didn’t like me. When I first got here they didn’t like me. It’s nothing new. I can’t focus my game on what the fans think.”
Still, Wallace expressed confidence that he and the Celtics will be ready to play when the playoffs start Saturday night.
“I know how we’ll play,” Wallace said. “Bottom line. My confidence level is high. Our confidence level is real high right now. I know how we’ll come out here and play.”
|04.16.10 at 4:43 pm ET|
WALTHAM — When the curtain lifted on the Celtics practice sessions yesterday there was one player missing. Rajon Rondo is the latest victim of the flu that has swept through the team recently. He took part in film session and a walkthrough and then the team sent him home.
Doc Rivers said that he expects Rondo will play, but he added, “I don’t know how he’s going to feel.”
Rivers said he had been throwing up and was sent to the hospital for IV work.
Allen, who will have a big hand in defending Dwyane Wade, said he is feeling better.
“I feel good today,” he said. “I was a little winded, but I expected that. Tomorrow should be a little better.”
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